Friday, February 27, 2009

Nothing else need be said

There have been two letters written in response to the failure of the 1 cent sales tax proposal to shore up the police and fire pension fund that point a finger at the citizenry for either not understanding the proposal and the consequences if it didn't pass or for not being a caring and compassionate community, demonstrating disrespect for our fire and police forces. I want to assure Geoffrey Butler and James F. Miller that nothing could be further from the truth.

The Springfield News-Leader did a thorough and outstanding job informing the public on this issue. I attended every meeting at the newspaper held by Greg Burris, the citizen's group promoting the sales tax and a City Council representative, all in favor of the sales tax. I may not be the smartest person in attendance but it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the numbers were not accurate and the semantics used were just as misleading.

I want to assure Mr. Butler that his comments displayed blatant disrespect for the voters in the city of Springfield. Talking down to us and using bad grammar was downright rude and condescending. Living outside of Springfield does not entitle you to belittle our small town ways and values. Mr. Butler, if you feel so strongly about this issue and feel that we failed, I'm sure that Mr. Burris would welcome a check from you in support of this failed tax issue. He could plop it right into the fund and watch it grow, a percent here, a percent there ; it all adds up in the end.

Then you can have some "skin in the game."

Mr. Miller, insurance companies get their money one way or another. Again, I assure you the voters of Springfield were well informed and educated on this issue. ISO's were created for the purpose of creating a system to make money. If I were a police or fire person, I would not appreciate the comments alluding that because the sales tax didn't pass, this core group would not respond appropriately or in a timely manner. The individuals who work those aforementioned jobs made a choice just as you made a choice for your profession. We bear responsibility for choices.

I would like to remind Mr. Butler and Mr. Miller that the voters said no on Feb. 3 to the sales tax, sending a clear message demanding that the City Council and city manager become fiscally responsible. Until the three areas of the city - parks, City Utilities and City Council - learn to work together instead of independent of each other, there will be no financial resolution that is bankable. Any credit counselor will tell you that money problems are not fixed by more money ; it is fixed by managing what you have and utilizing better budget and spending options. We learn to live with "needs" not the "wants."

I stand by the work that the Springfield News-Leader performed on this issue and find their work stellar and unpretentious. The outcome of the vote does not dignify or justify all the criticisms that have been levied against them. Another slap in the face is from the city manager not accepting the vote and planning on placing it on the ballot again. As with a small child, no means no; and as with a small child, we will push and push to get our way.

It is very easy to criticize when you don't have "skin in the game." Move into the city limits then you will offer more than lip service to this issue.

J. Diane Richardson Springfield
J. Diane Richardson is a member of the News-Leader editorial advisory board. She lives in Springfield.

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