Monday, January 03, 2011

Beware this New Year's resolution

We're screwed.

Omaha's embattled mayor, Jim Suttle, has a New Year's resolution as he steels himself for a recall vote this month. It's to better listen to us, the citizens of this fair city.

Like I said, we are so screwed. I mean, we thought the city was broke. That things were bad enough to recall Suttle for, among other things, not listening to us. Wait until he
does start listening to the vox populi -- we ain't seen nothin' yet.

Trust me, the city will be bankrupt in a week if the mayor is sincere about all this listening stuff.

FOR YEARS, the Omaha taxpayer has railed about high property taxes. The Omaha driver has railed about high wheel taxes. The Omaha consumer has railed about our high below-average sales taxes.

During all those years, nobody cared that city hall was making sweetheart deals with the police and fire unions to buy labor peace (and defer pay raises) in the name of holding the line on property taxes, because that's what the voters wanted. It was the municipal version of taking out a home-equity loan to pay down the credit cards --
after all, what could go wrong?

We're entitled, don't you know? Since the last economic slump -- the one before this, the mother of all modern economic slumps -- the Omaha voter has demanded, and gotten, almost-annual property-tax cuts.
And then. . . .

Chickens. Homaha. Roost.

You know what started to fly then. In fact, it started to hit the fan. The tax revenue stopped flowing, and the bills kept on coming. The city pension fund was about broke.

"Cut the budget!" the angry voter says.
"Not THAT part of the budget!" a hundred angry neighborhood associations and civic groups demand.

"Where's my property-tax cut?"

"Fill the damn potholes!"

"Don't close my library!"

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

BUT WAIT . . . the cops and firefighters won't agree to that. The contract fight will end up in arbitration. Omaha will get screwed in arbitration -- it always has. Take the concessions the mayor got.

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

No, really, this is the best we can do. We bargained the Cadillac owners down to a nice Chevy.

"The cops and firefighters are making out like bandits! Stop giving away the store!"

You're not making sense. The Commission of Industrial Relations will not rule kindly for the city. That's almost a lock.

"Recall the cop-coddler!"

IF IT were me in the mayor's office, I'd be tempted to resign and let the next sucker try to figure out -- after carefully listening to the fine citizens of Omaha -- exactly how one goes about letting the people have their cake and eat yours, too.

Good luck to Mayor Suttle. He's going to need it, particularly if he survives the recall election.

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