If Jackson County voters defeat Question 1 on Tuesday’s ballot, a group of people who can claim a good deal of credit is one that is splintered and diverse.
It is not a registered committee, not a political organization and not a behind-the-scenes cabal of agitators.
It’s the people who have taken the time to express their views by writing letters to the editor of The Kansas City Star.
I haven’t kept track of all the letters, unfortunately, but I have run most of them on my stopabadcure.org website. (See “Latest Letters to the Editor” post.)
I know who wrote the first letter to the editor, however, and precisely when.
The date was Aug. 20, less than two weeks after the public learned about this god-awful sales-tax proposal and six days before the Cowardly County Legislature voted 7-2 to put Question 1 on the November ballot.
I had been following the run-up to the county legislative vote, and Biggs’ letter struck at the heart of the matter.
His letter started like this:
I am disappointed in still another effort to raise the sales tax in Kansas City. Anti-tax is not my mode as I have voted for previous proposals, but enough is enough.
Medical research is wonderful, and Children’s Mercy and other medical facilities are worthy, as are the business leaders backing the proposal. They just need to get the revenue from sources other than a sales tax, which is the most regressive of all taxes with its greatest burden on those least able to pay.
Biggs was the first to lay out the case that we opponents of Question 1 have been repeating and reiterating in the ensuing 10 weeks.
Immediately, I began trying to get in touch with Biggs and quickly succeeded. He responded to one of two letters I sent to two addresses I found for him on whitepages.com.
At that time, I was thinking about registering a campaign committee to work against the measure, and subsequently Biggs became either the first of second member of my Committee to Stop a Bad Cure. He also was the second person to contribute to my committee ($200). (I was the first.)
Since Biggs’ letter, The Star has run about two dozen letters, I would estimate, opposing the proposed half-cent sales tax for “translational medical research.” Two appeared in the Star today. (See “Vote no on sales tax” and “Legislature wrong” in the link.)
Only a handful of letters urging a “yes” vote have been published.
The dearth of supportive letters tells me two things: 1) The proposed sales-tax does not have many strong supporters and 2) even with all its money (about $2 million), the Citizens for Research, Treatments and Cures committee has not been able to get people to either write letters of their own or sign letters that committee consultants have ghost written.
On the other hand, the constant drumbeat of letters from genuinely angry opponents has a significant influence on the electorate, in my opinion.
When readers see a steady stream of letters on a given issue — especially on one side of the issue — it registers with them and prods many to find out more about it. It also tends to tilt them in the direction that the vast majority of letter writers are pointing.
With that, I offer a tip of my entire hat collection to, among others…
Amy Brown, Leawood
Dick Franklin, Independence
And from Kansas City…
Linda Vogel Smith
Thank you, one and all letter writers, for organizing your thoughts and putting your stamp of disapproval on an extremely repugnant tax proposal.