Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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I’m not saying Maggie Brooks lied.
It’s possible the intelligence community gave her bad talking points.
But when she stood up and presented her Monroe County budget and said that there were no tax increases or new charge backs, she sure wasn’t telling the truth.
In fact, as year after year Maggie Brooks and the Republicans who control Monroe County government have said they were holding the line on property taxes, they weren’t telling the truth either.
Because every time you take money from the people and give it to the government, that’s tax.
No matter what you call it.
What am I talking about?
The pending Monroe County budget shows that Maggie wants to charge the same rate of property tax she has charged for the last several years.
And she and her surrogates have pointed that out over and over.
What they completely failed to mention, however, is the creation of a new fee that will take some $5.3 million out of the pockets of Monroe County property-tax payers.
After assuring reporters at the Look At My Pretty Budget press conference that taxes were held level and there were no new fees, it turns out that Maggie’s budget will put a new line on people’s tax bills.
When the bill comes in the mail, there will be a new liability for taxpayers.
They will have to pay for snow plowing.
Actually, they’ve always had to pay for snow plowing. Now they’ll have to pay for it twice.
Here’s how I mean.
In a cute trick to pretend taxes haven’t gone up, Maggie Brooks is moving the cost of plowing snow from county roads out of the realm of things paid for by the tax levy and into the realm of things paid for by a dedicated fee.
The levy doesn’t go down. The net amount of money collected goes up. Your bill gets bigger. And that, no matter how you slice it, is a tax increase.
In lake-effect country, plowing snow from the public roads has always been seen as a duty of government. It is, in fact, what most people would consider a prime duty of government. Pave the roads, plow the roads, patrol the roads – that might be what most people consider to be an all-encompassing mission statement for local government.
Taxes in Monroe County have always covered snow plowing. It’s what people are buying when they pay their taxes.
What Maggie neglected to mention when she presented her budget is that, going forward, taxes don’t pay for plowing, surcharges do.
Whereas last year your taxes covered plowing, now you have to pay extra for plowing.
You still have to pay all your taxes, you now have to pay extra.
And if you think that’s an increase in your taxes, it’s because you’re a hateful, grandstanding, misogynistic Democrat intent on tearing apart the very fabric of our society.
Or Maggie’s a liar.
I vote for the latter.
Last year, like all the years before it, the money that went from your pocket into the county coffers to pay for snow plowing was called a “tax.” This year, the money that goes from your pocket into the county coffers to pay for snow plowing is called a “fee.”
But, as Shakespeare said, a big, steaming pile of bull crap by any other name is still a big, steaming pile of bull crap.
And a tax is a tax is a tax.
And if you pay more of it, your tax went up.
And anybody who says different is a liar.
If we eliminate the possibility of bogus CIA talking points.
What’s doubly upsetting is that this lie is being foisted upon the people of Monroe County for the sole purpose of giving one political party – my political party, the Republicans – a campaign slogan. The reason you are being lied to today about your taxes not going up is so that in the next county election you can be lied to again about your taxes not going up.
This is nothing but a stupid con. It is being run by stupid people who presume you are stupid. They presume you are too stupid to see through it. They presume that simple math is beyond you. They presume that you can’t recognize that paying more actually is paying more.
It is dishonesty in government.
And it is exactly dishonesty like that that is going to push Monroe County from Republican control to Democrat control. In the ever-deeper slide into smarminess, Maggie and her crew are alienating an electorate that already, by demographics, is shifting Democrat.
She has forgotten that the public has a gag point.
The Republicans who have controlled Monroe County for some 20 years have forgotten that they came to power not on the back of superior politicking – as they have vainly believed – but because people were disgusted with Democrats. Democrat shenanigans and patronage pushed past the gag point and voters threw them out.
And the Maggie Brooks Republicans are getting precariously close to that same gag point.
Maybe this is her payback to voters not smart enough to send her to Congress. Maybe this is her ploy to prep for another run for Congress.
But either way, it’s wrong.
It’s wrong because it’s a lie.
Taxes are going up. A leader would explain that, not deny it.
Maggie and her ilk may yet one day learn this timeless lesson of a free electorate: When you treat the voters like crap, they ultimately return the favor.