Lots going on with five days ’til the election. A few glimpses:
:: The campaign manager for the committee pushing Amendment 7 — the proposed 3/4 cent transportation sales tax — must be sitting in a bank vault, throwing $100 bills in the air and giddily saying, “It’s all mine; it’s all mine!”
That’s because two consulting companies run by the campaign manager, Jewell Patek, a former Republican state representative from Chillicothe, have been paid at least $160,175 by a campaign committee called Missourians for Safer Transportation and New Jobs.
That’s more than six times the $25,000 that our opposing campaign committee, Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, has raised altogether.
To me, it just shows what a special interest slush fund Amendment 7 would be, if voters approved the new 3/4 cent sales tax next Tuesday. The “New Jobs” committee has raised more than $4 million, with much of it coming from the construction, heavy equipment and concrete and asphalt industries. The investment is chump change, however, for industries that would reap hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars from transportation projects throughout the state.
I have the strong feeling that the Missouri General Assembly and lobbyists for the “concrete cartel” got together over bourbons and big steaks, and somebody said, “Let’s just go for broke — throw out the biggest tax increase ever, put a few million bucks into TV ads and mailers and see if we can sneak it past the voters.”
And the first thing they did was to hire a former legislator — Patek — to be their front man. I heard the guy on the radio yesterday, and he’s not very impressive. Not a hint of passion in his voice. Of course, it’s pretty hard to sound convincing when you’re trying to sell a bag of horse turds at the farmer’s market.
:: I’ve been on the sidelines as far as Question A, the proposed streetcar-district expansion, is concerned, but it just doesn’t seem to be catching people’s imaginations. I think too many questions loom about funding.
A lot of people don’t understand the deal between the state and the city, which calls for $124 million of new state-sales-tax revenue to go for the streetcar expansion, if Missouri voters approve Amendment 7 and streetcar district voters approve broader streetcar district boundaries.
Under the terms of the deal, residents within the expanded district would pay only one cent per dollar more in sales taxes, instead of 1 and 3/4 cents more, if both the state and streetcar tax increases somehow passed.
There are two other complicating factors: 1) the actual vote on the sales-tax increase within the streetcar district wouldn’t take place until November, and 2) another tax proposal — the proposed 20-year extension of a half-cent-sales tax for firefighters — is also on Tuesday’s ballot.
I think many voters, when they start reading the various propositions, are going to feel like the sales-tax cavalry is charging at them. Then, they will do what confused voters always do: Vote “no.”
:: The Star did a great job on its “Voter’s Guide,” published in today’s “816” Missouri-side neighborhood section. It contained 14 full pages of election coverage — almost everything readers and prospective voters would need to be able to go into the polling places and understand the issues and know something about the various candidates.
But you know what was shocking? It contained only one political ad. That was a four-column, top-to-bottom ad against Question A, the streetcar proposition.
In years past, candidates and campaign committees working both sides of issues viewed the Election Guide as a golden opportunity to get the attention of frequent voters at reasonable ad rates. But obviously the section seems to have lost its lustre as an advertising vehicle. Instead of making good money on the section, The Star almost surely lost money on it this time around.
Ah, my old paper…it just seems to be fadin’ into the gloaming.