After my writing on fiscal disparities last week, there were several others which came out in various publications. One of the best was written by Legislative Correspondent Katie G. Nelson. I would like to quote some excerpts and use them as a basis for some questions.
“The 15-member division committee is part of a subcommittee to the larger House Taxes Committee. There are currently no Iron Range legislators on the subcommittee, though DFL Reps. Carly Melin of Hibbing and Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township are on the umbrella committee on taxes.”
Why are there not representatives from the Iron Range on the division committee? Shouldn’t it be considered essential that at least part of the committee is made up of representatives from the effected area? Is this lack of representation intentional or accidental?
“That lack of Ranger leadership was apparent Wednesday afternoon, as the report, which cost $21,7000, didn’t seem to catch the attention of the other legislators who had already listened to a packed presentation agenda earlier in the meeting.”
And so it appears that our needs and concerns were ignored again.
‘Stating the fiscal disparities program was redistributing taxes “as it was intended to do,” Willete was also quick to add that “the program isn’t intended to completely equalize tax bases. But it does help reduce the disparities between the communities.”’
Redistribution has received a lot of attention since “Joe the Plumber,” but that is exactly what the fiscal disparities program is. We are now, in Itasca County, experiencing firsthand the problem which always arises from such redistribution. Politicians almost always sell redistribution schemes as “taking from the filthy rich and giving to the poor people struggling to make ends meet,” but in the end it is just taking from one set of people to give to another set of people. Why is there no real interest in the legislature to remove the fiscal disparities burden from Itasca County, and other areas which are paying the bill? Perhaps it is because there are four times as many voters in the county which is the principal recipient, St. Louis County, and they are using our money to buy votes over there? How does redistribution feel from the giving end?
“While Willete was busy drilling down to the important details of the 47-page report, legislators were busy passing around boxes of Girl Scout cookies, getting up to talk to members of the audience and whispering between themselves.
And toward the ending minutes of Willete’s presentation, another burst in a series of chuckles came from the committee, causing Willette to look around the room for an explanation. Rep. Anzelc was busy making comedic faces from the audience to committee members. Anzelc later denied creating distractions, claiming his innocence while showing off an ear-to-ear grin.”
If you weren’t already upset by this story, now you should be. Some members of the committee were not even paying attention to the report! Walking around having their own conversations and eating Girl Scout cookies! How can they pretend to care about our welfare if they can’t even begin to listen to the report?
Bad enough for you yet? One of our own representatives, Tom Anzelc, was accused of making faces from the audience and causing a stir among the committee members. Of course, he denied it, but why on earth would that accusation be raised had not someone seen him doing it? I am strongly inclined not only to believe that someone saw him making faces, but that he lied about it when caught in the act. Do we really need this kind of representation?
“Willette said he didn’t notice anything unusual, despite pausing several times during laughter sessions.”
Again, why would the presentation of the report have to be several times interrupted by laughter if we had representation which takes seriously our plight?
The fiscal disparities tax will be here permanently, along with many of our other problems, as long as we have representation which puts other interests higher than ours. Many of them are quick to throw us a treat and tell us to go back to our rooms and leave them alone, as if we are children interfering with adult business that we don’t understand. Is that how we want to be treated?
Next election ask yourself if each candidate is a good salesman or a good representative. They will seldom be both. The good salesman is far more likely to sell us down the river for their own career benefit, the good representative will look to our best interest even if it is counter to their own.
And the good representative won’t act like a clown during a committee meeting.