Hearing Republican pols endlessly chant about the evils of taxes, I am forced to conclude that their greatest orgasmic experience would occur with the abolition of all taxes except those that provide for their daily wage, health care insurance and for some, therapeutic night life. . That would leave the voluntary construction of highways to neighborhood associations; the care of the national parks system to garden groups and law enforcement to the Lone Ranger. Too bad for the R-pols, it won't happen. All of which means they will go on and on talking about it.
If you've spent a few minutes listening to Sen. Max Baucus, the Medicare-eligible Montana Democrat, boasting of the merits of his newly released committee health care reform plan, you might agree with me that he is a Republican impersonating a Democrat. And he's damned good at it. He'd better be inasmuch as he's into the health-care and insurance industry's treasury for about $4 million in campaign cash. It proves that experience does count, considering that he's been in the Senate for 31 years and doubtless knows all of the unlisted phone numbers of the lobbyists who need his undivided attention. (Two of his former chiefs of staff now work as lobbyists for health and insurance related companies. I rest my case.)
Mayor Don Plusquellic's critics will not spare the rod in denouncing the 201 layoffs the city announced this week. So what's the counter-proposal for these troubled economic times that is affecting city governments from coast to coast? Raise taxes to pay for the services? What? Are you crazy? There would be a dozen Republican candidates for mayor if Plusquellic breathed such evil. Cut back more city services? Those who opposed this week's layoffs would be the noisiest critics of further shrinkage of the safety forces. Fortunately, FirstEnergy has made its community presence felt with a $2.2 million grant to the city to ease a little of the pain. Plusquellic has presided over the best of times in the city, and is now having to make the hard choices in the worst of times. If there are less painful solutions these days, I'm sure everyone concerned would like to know about them. (The mayor could take a cue from former President George Bush, who advised Americans after 9/11 to "go shopping.")
Former President Jimmy Carter, a bona fide Georgian, sounded quite sane when he bared the roots of southern outrage sgainst Barack Obama in the White House. Quite simply, he called it "racism", which too many others who know better are trying to ignore. And people like Rush Limbaugh are exploiting it Klansman-style with not-so subtle reference these days to a newly-minted ObamaWorld, which Limbaugh sees as clear evidence of black hatred of all whites. I used to believe that Obama's election would allow us to move on as a nation from the not too-distant past when the New York Yankees turned down a chance to sign a young man named Willie Mays because, you know... he was black. Once Mays signed on with the New York Giants and did his magic act on the field, many fans became color-blind.
The University of Akron is in the midst of dodging another hit on its image with the latest episode involving John Case, the U's vice president for finance and education, who was placed on leave after his arrest on a charge of driving under the influence. But Case, who was arrested once before for erratic behavior behind the wheel, will continue to be paid under his $242,625 annual contract that runs through next June. UA President Luis Proenza says he will find some special jobs for Case to perform in the meantime. My sources tell me that it amounts to a waiting game and that Case's contract will not be renewed in June 2010. Taking note of the contretemps, the Plain Dealer concluded editorially a few days ago:
"It's a generous reassignment that the University of Akron can ill afford. While Case has been whisked offstage at full pay, the university is balancing its $419 million budget by eliminating vacant positions and reducing other costs. Surely this could have been handled better."
At the same time, UA must still adjust to the two ethics convictions of Board of Trustees member Jack Morrison, Jr. who obviously has no intention of giving up his seat on the board.