Tuesday, July 10, 2007

200-1 gets you 15-85

You have to hand it to our local chamber of commerce. The Greater Des Moines Partnership, with the backing of the biggest companies in town and a $770,000 war chest - 200 times that of the opposition - managed to convince about one voter in seven to vote for a sales tax increase in an off-season election specifically timed to maximize their chances for approval. It's hard to think of a way to make their performance any more disastrous, short of having mobs chanting "no!" sack their headquarters building.

What a debacle. Only Kim Jong-Il and Fidel Castro win by greater margins than "No." In some cultures, a loss like that would lead to abject apologies by the Partnership board, perhaps followed by ritual suicides.

After such a resounding vote of no confidence, a parliamentary government would resign and appoint a caretaker government pending new elections. That would also be appropriate for the leadership of the Partnership after such a waste of member and taxpayer dollars. The Partnership has strayed far from it's small-business, low-tax, good government roots and has become a cheerleader for government spending and crony capitalism. Maybe this will help them rethink their direction.

Every local politician who embraced this shameless cash grab should withdraw from the next election, and those who don't should be hounded from office. A new generation would have a chance to remake our dysfunctional local politics. Maybe they could try the old-fashioned approach to economic development - low taxes, good and thrifty government, and good schools. The Central Iowa as Yuppie Theme Park fared poorly yesterday.

None of this is likely, of course. But at least the size of this defeat should frighten our "business leaders" away from trying to stick us with a tax increase for a few years. That's something.

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