George Washington once observed, “actions, not words, are the true criterion…” Said in a more modern vernacular, if success were measured by words, no one would fail. Instead, the wise measure success by achievements. In his “man in the arena” speech, Theodore Roosevelt describes how he measured achievers: “…who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause…”
Deeds are not raising taxes. Money, in and of itself, is not a solution. In fact, stacking up too much money in any one place becomes little more than an attractant for all kinds of bad things. Remember, government is the only place in America where failure pays better than success.
Jeremy Hidalgo’s Record
Generally speaking, when selecting someone to be in authority over them, the public wants a person that would do what’s right without having to constantly be told what that is. Calling and badgering public officials is great, and it can accomplish much. However, wouldn’t it be better to have a public official who did what you would do without you having to call?
Here are two examples we cobbled together compiled in a few hours. It’s not complete, by any means. It’s merely an important starting point as you do your own research.
The School Tax
We came to know Jeremy during the school tax debate. He wanted to raise taxes nearly $238 million to build schools that we didn’t need. He actively promoted the tax, which was endorsed by nearly every municipality in the parish (including his own Broussard). The problem, though, was the enrollment epidemic they kept lamenting just didn’t exist. All of the schools were not overcrowded in the way he and the other school board members wanted you to believe. In fact, enrollment had been going down for years. It was a policy problem that caused some schools to be overcrowded at the expense of others.
We made the case and it angered many local residents who believed the school board for no other reason than they were elected officials. However, when it came right down to it, we were right and everyone knew it. A short time after the tax failed, Board President, Dawn Morris, was shocked to discover that the enrollment numbers were being manipulated by the board’s own policies!
What’s the fix to a policy problem? Not taxing and spending $238 million unnecessarily. Simply tweak the polices that created the issue – FOR FREE. Presto. No more portable building problem.
The Fire Tax
Now, Jeremy wasn’t sitting on the council when they voted for the fire tax. However, he is a resident of the unincorporated part of the parish. After the fire tax failed, and about the time he was considering a run for parish council, I personally met with Jeremy.
After the usual small talk, he suggested he wasn’t pleased with the fire tax not passing. We explored why a fire tax and the reason the fire rating got worse were mutually exclusive. Readers here will remember that the largest loss in the fire rating came because of insufficient water supply in the unincorporated parts of the parish. Jeremy’s suggestion was more money could buy more pumper trucks and the water problem would be solved.
However, he had never looked at the reports (or apparently read our article linking to and explaining them). Those pumper trucks were already at a capacity rating. That means buying 100 more of them would have had zero appreciable impact on the fire rating.
Solutions are not taxes
Both of the above are examples of Jeremy’s first inclination, a reflex really, to raise taxes. Alternatively, the first reflex here at Citizens is to completely understand the problem. With this knowledge, we can then take a closer look at multiple options and choose the best one. For the school overcrowding issue, we recommended rezoning and tweaking the schools of choice model.
For the fire issue, the PIAL (Property Insurance Association of Louisiana) who made the rating, recommended adding more water supply to the unincorporated parts of the parish. While not free, the fire tax couldn’t have funded additional detention ponds or running new water lines. Those solutions fall under the purview of the public works department, not the fire department.
It’s obvious that the intention of these taxes was not to solve a problem. The problems, for their part, were merely MacGuffins: a plot device used to set the taxpayers into motion. The final destination of that motion was to convince them to part with more of their hard-earned money. Once the government had the money in hand, that’s when they’d write the plan.
We’re the only organization holding them accountable.
All the media attacks are our red badge of courage. They just want us to go away so they can get back to interviewing “experts” who call you stingy for not wanting to pay more taxes. Local residents are smarter than that. They know there’s more to the story. There has just not been anyone telling it until now.
We’re seeing a record number of new monthly contributors and one-time donors. These are people just like you. They’re tired of hearing the local news push higher taxes and lower expectations. Are you one of them? Join us now.