Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You're Not Going to Believe This

The main courtroom in the County Courthouse was absolutely packed tonight -- standing-room only -- and by my count, all speakers at the public hearing on the proposed quarter-cent sales tax referendum were in favor except for five people who spoke against it. That was 39 in favor, 5 against.

And when the public hearing was over, almost every living soul left the room, and when the commissioners resumed their meeting, the three Republican commissioners were in what could justifiably be described as a snit over what happened at the public hearing. And to make a long, contentious story short, they promptly voted 3-2 to rescind their own resolution to hold the sales tax referendum.

Here's why:

The courtroom was packed with teachers, teachers assistants, principals, and other school personnel along with a fair number of parents of students in the school system, and these folks simply assumed that the sales tax was going to be devoted to keeping the schools strong. Despite what Commission Chair Nathan Miller said just as the public hearing was about to get underway.

Miller reiterated that the sales tax was intended exclusively for "debt service." Mr. Jim Deal then said he disagreed with Miller, and said the sales tax was about "keeping teachers in classrooms" and keeping education strong in Watauga County. There was thunderous applause at that point, and from there on through the public hearing nary a soul mentioned debt service. Everyone -- or very nearly everyone, except for a small clutch of Tea Partiers -- was on board with the money going to schools. In a real sense, education hijacked the sales tax.

So when the room had cleared after the public hearing, Blust immediately made his motion to rescind the tax referendum, and Vince Gable seconded the motion. Gable was visibly angry: What we saw here tonight was clearly orchestrated by the School Board, he said, to change the whole purpose of the tax referendum. "The resolution we voted on was to dedicate the tax to debt reduction. Now we're saying we're going to use it for education!"

Blust went further. He said, "I resent it very much" that the courtroom was packed with school supporters. "They sent out e-mails," he said. Jim Deal answered Blust: "You've never had any trouble packing the courtroom when it's an issue you care about." "I have a real problem with your not allowing a public vote on the referendum that you called for," Deal said, referring to himself as someone very "committed to education."

Blust shot back: "You're committed to spending on education."

Miller: "This has morphed into something that we didn't intend," thus invoking one of the first laws of economics, the law of unintended consequences, of which these three Republican commissioners seem amazingly ignorant.

Deal argued eloquently for not rescinding the referendum, to no avail. At one point he said, "Look, if you three want to allocate all the sales tax money to debt service, you obviously have the votes to do whatever you want." Which might have swayed even Attila the Hun to call off his sacking of Rome, but it did not convince the Republican commissioners. In the end, it was 3-2 (Miller, Gable, and Blust prevailing) to rescind the referendum which the same three voted to hold just two weeks earlier.

The Tea Party Influence
The Republicans kept making reference to all the people they've been hearing from "out in the county" who are solidly opposed to any tax hike, people who apparently aren't comfortable coming to a public hearing. (One might also guess that they were regular Republicans somewhat embarrassed that their own commissioners had voted to raise taxes but didn't like coming out to attack them in public.)

Commissioner Vince Gable at least had become a target for some harsh personal criticism on a local Tea Party email list. The “steering committee” of the Boone Tea Party sent out a message essentially defending Gable and Miller, saying they had taken a “last-ditch option” in proposing a referendum on raising the local sales tax and that all they wanted was the option and that a popular vote for raising the sales tax would not necessarily mean that the County Commish would actually raise those taxes.

Some on the Tea Party list didn’t take that message at all well. They said (in essence), "Maybe we fell off the turnip truck yesterday, but we sure as hell didn’t land on our head!"

At least one Tea Partier took the occasion to attack Gable personally and in the harshest terms. Which prompted an apology from the Boone Tea Party steering committee to the entire email list for inadvertently enabling personal attacks on public officials.

Meanwhile, the power brokers of the local Republican Party were gamely signing on to the tax hike in an editorial in Sunday's Watauga Democrat. Having the tax referendum sprung on them two weeks ago may pale in comparison to having the tax referendum jerked away from them now that they've endorsed it.

The Beauty of Tonight's Public Hearing
Personally, I have rarely heard more eloquent -- and frankly moving -- speakers at any public hearing in my 20+ years of attending public hearings. The teachers and supporters of teachers who spoke tonight about the dire peril they're in, and about the job they've been doing for the children of Watauga County, made me want to stand up and applaud them. Also made me want to vote for the tax I was leaning against.

But now no one will be able to vote for the tax, not for debt service nor for education.

We are, in short, at sea in Watauga County.


Anonymous said...

What a trio of absolute losers too bad we have to put up with them for two years.

retired educator said...

So what's surprising here? You put the county in the hands of the three stooges, make them put their hands in their pockets, and you expect a good show. Nathan and Vince are bright in their arenas. This is not their arena. David is a dunce in any arena. Larry, Curly, and Moe-where are you????

Anonymous said...

Nice of them to at least let everyone leave before they did this. These clowns thought they had a circus before...Wait until people find out tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

the three stooges, thats the truth !!

they should be ashamed to show their faces in watauga co.

And Mr. Deal you really should have sold the first school before building the new one.

we are so screwed by our leadership on both sides, what a SAD SAD SAD situation.

recorded feed at: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13343808

RV said...

I guess debt reduction will mean a lot to the teachers who lose their jobs. And what about the students who will lose out on teacher attention because their class got even bigger?

Are the commissioners saying that quality education will not make a difference until this generation grows up, so why worry about it now?

Richard Tidyman said...

I doubt name calling will be beneficial here. That said, I think it very telling that the commissioners pretend to be interested in what the people have to say by holding the forum. Then when they hear it, they respond with "We don't want to hear from that group, we want to hear from people that agree with us...you know, the ones that emailed us that you will never see." And in the end respond with a "Thanks for sharing your concerns but we don't really give a flip, and we are going to do what we want anyway." Is this an example of bullying? Everyone has their come-up-ance.

Tea Party Guy said...

Interesting... thanks for the detailed reporting. Wish I'd been there to speak against the tax, but looks like we got the right answer even if for the wrong reasons.

I had been extremely disappointed the 3 GOP guys went straight for the tax without even attempting to make cuts first. Maybe they did get blasted by a large number of supporters (including myself) and rediscovered their spine. We'll see how the cuts go from here.

end tenure said...

Let's see, when the idea was to use the tax revenue to cut the debt and cut spending you were against it. Then it changed to increase spending so you were for it. The commissioners decided to hold to their original proposal and so killed the referendum when it was hijacked to increase spending.

It doesn't really matter as the referendum would have failed anyway.

brotherdoc said...

Well, as the Lord said to Moses about the children of Israel, these are a stubborn people. They have turned to other gods [i.e., NO TAXES]. Who will speak for the children and the children's children even unto the next generation?

G.I.G said...

I do not see where people in favor of taxes for education have anything to complain about here. This proposed vote on a tax was solely for debt reduction, not for any other reason. To try and hijack it is like asking to use the mortgage money for big screen TV buying. That is not what the tax money was ever meant to be used for. I have to budget my income for the bills i have not for what i feel good about spending it on.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why our Tea drinking friends don't get it. If the tax was to go to debt reduction, what happens??? It frees up other funds to help education. How is that so hard to understand? And, much like David Blust said during the first referendum last year, any resolution to earmark the tax revenue is not legally binding. So are we to put our trust in these commissioners' hands? All I (and alot concerned citizens) want is LEADERSHIP! This situation has been a mess from the beginning. And for Blust to be upset when the public comes to speak their mind (much like he has done on many a flat beds parked in the Golden Corral parking lot)and call it "ridiculous" is insulting.

Concerned for our Community said...

First of all, the vote to have the tax was a security measure to buy much needed time to make cuts. If not voted on that night it would have been pushed to January 2012 or forced to raise Property Taxes in the event cuts could not be made. It sounds like some want to solve the problem with a "Tax and Spend" policy which got us here to this place. The taxpayers can and should only be asked to pay when the budget is reasonable and spending is controlled. All areas of spending should be examined such as benefits etc. that are not in line with the private sector, and waste should be cut. It is time for all to sacrifice, not just put all the burden on taxpayers. The idea of going back to the taxpayers every time the government over spends is not a feasable way to run a county government. The private sector workers in the county have taken huge salary and wage cuts. It is time our "authorities" do the same. Don't cut the teachers cut your own salary. Everyone has to sacrifice!

Mike D. said...

It seems to me as though the commissioners allowed, perhaps through political naivete, the event to get away from them. I agree with G.I.G.

How can an obvious political minority (evidence the recent two to one defeat of a tax and spend referendum) hijack the wording of a bill? The commissioners should have informed the crowd that while they have a right to assemble and discuss tax and spend initiatives, they cannot craft the bills that come up for a public vote, so, while their input and perspective is valued, and their ability to organize a minority voting bloc is noted, they may have misunderstood the subject and the content of this particular public hearing. While most people would enjoy spending money without discipline or personal consequence, that is not what the public hired the commissioners to do.

That's what I would have said.

Tea Party Guy said...

Why all the whining about disastrous consequences of letting go some teachers? In any group of 100 employees, there are the top 10, the bottom 10 and the 80% in the middle. Get rid of the worst teachers and the kids will get a better education in spite of slightly larger class size. And if the administrators claim to not have a clue who is in the bottom 10%, then shame on them! Fire them first and get somebody who knows how to manage.

Frank said...

GIG is right. Here's the thing. The commissioners had already voted to hold a referendum on a tax increase, a referendum they say they would have voted "no" to. Fine. They said the funds from the sales tax increase would have been used to pay off debt. Fine. The Republican Party runs a column that says one of the reasons this referendum (as opposed to the last one) was okay is because the state is going to cut funding to counties. Fine. Then, when the teachers et all come and THANK THEM BASICALLY for finding a way to soften the supposedly incoming state deficits, the commissioners go all nuclear and bitchy. WTF? All the money goes into the same pot anyway. Why couldn't they just thank the people who came and be thankful for their support?

Because they are complete dumbasses. And anyone who thinks this crew is gonna do anything smart with any money at all is smoking some fine weed.

Watauga Voter said...

From what I have seen of the watauga county schools, we have much to be proud of! We seem to have a very effective public school system in a world where this is no longer the norm. I give credit to everyone who contributes to it's success - and credit our teachers and administrators as much as anyone.

I don't know if they are overstaffed, understaffed or correctly staffed. I don't know enough about their pay to have an informed opinion.

I was impressed with the teachers who spoke last night.

BUT I DON'T agree with a tax increase and I don't know where we come to a conclusion that we will lay off teachers without one.

We don't even know what the state budget cuts will be yet. How can we determine that we will have to lay off teachers?

eye witness said...

I was there. The teachers were not in thank you mode. They were in intimidation mode but more polite than the thugs in Wisconsin. They tried to hijack a resolution and killed it instead.

It is interesting that the supporters of the teachers are able to critique weed or marijuana . Maybe that is part of the problem with education.

Boone Res said...

Why is everyone getting so stuck in their ideologies? Is there no room for compromise? Even Tea Party Messiah Ronald Regan eventually raised taxes to make things work. Why not implement a sales tax if it comes to that to save public services. There's simply not a lot of fat left folks. Even if we implement a .25% tax we will all still be paying less or about the same as now depending on what the state does. There has got to be some kind of balance if we really want to be strong in the future. Why aren't we looking at the tax structure itself and budget process as a whole to see if changes can be made to increase revenue and reduce waste? If were not careful and stick with the cuts only mentality we will pay for it dearly in the future one way or another.

anon no more said...

mike d
i dont agree with you most of the time but you made a lot of sense with your post on this thread.

Anonymous said...

mister tidyman
if you and the other teachers had just spoken in favor of the referendum instead of trying to hijack the topic into an education debate, you might have had more success.

good luck to you in the budget. I sincerely hope you are able to keep all of the school employees working and maybe even get more money

Anne said...

Anonymous, so now we are to blame the teachers for the fact that the commissioners voted to take back a vote they had previously made? Are you saying the commissioners cut off their own noses to spite the teachers? That was what this was all about?

MW said...

'Anne'. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment.

Anonymous said...

no Anne
But maybe i didnt say it very well.

The open forum was to get citizen input for a referendum to raise sales tax for DEBT REDUCTION.

I don't think anybody there spoke in favor of that. Some spoke against any referendum at all. Others, teachers and their group, AND jim Deal pretty much spoke against using the money for debt reduction.

Who there spoke in favor of the proposal? Nobody.

So you had a public forum and maybe 50 people spoke and all of them were against a DEBT REDUCTION SALES TAX.

Now if Jim Deal or somebody else wants to have a referendum on a sales tax for EDUCATION, let them make a motion at a BOC meeting.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to go to http://wataugarepubs.blogspot.com/ and the crap their putting out. They are saying if the teachers are so upset why don't they take a pay cut. Someone pointed out that teachers have taken a pay cut every year. Pure ignorance. Let's consume that site with positive comments about our democratic commissioners and let them know where the people stand.

Anonymous said...

To Watauga Voter: before you go and dislike anything with the schools you should e mail John Welch, School Board Member welchj@watauga.k12.nc.us. There is concrete evidence that in the best scenerio from Raleigh, teachers will get laid off without county support. I'm sure he would be more than happy to go over it with you. He's also a great person to listen to any alternative ideas as it looks like the BOE will now need some.

Anonymous said...

nobody voted against the county support for the schools. they voted against raising sales taxes and earmarking that for education. there are more than school personnel who are facing layoffs or pay cuts or whatever here!

let's hope our county commissioners will find a way to fund the schools AND the other county services that we need and lets hope they can find funds for some pay raises.

when the last commission was buying land at inflated prices and borrowing money to build more than we should have thats where the problems come from

reality check said...

And how do you know there will not be support from the county? It may not be as much as you like,but it will be all we can afford. Why do you think it is the responsibility of the county to cover every penny the state cuts?

The problem is that the county and the state have wasted to much money in the past. We are going to have to cut out things we don't have to have to pay for things we do. What are you willing to give up to increase education spending? It is time to face reality.

What happened to the ban on using Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Many people don't seem to want to pay for the many services we use every day.But still use them. Our schools, social services, law enforcement among others are not free. Our schools turn out the next generation of citizens. Is that not worth paying for. . .

Education Supporter said...

Interesting reading. I would invite the genius who clearly hasn't set foot in a classroom in years (Tea Party Guy) to come visit some schools in the area. "Cut the worst teachers and the kids will get a better education in spite of slightly larger class size." That is just such a perfect example of people allowing ideological views to completely cloud reality. I'm against tax increases, too. Who isn't? I would never support a tax increase designed to fund "luxury items" at a time where we are all having to work so hard to "tighten our belts." Unfortunately, we are pretty close to being out of options at this point. Our schools have cut huge amounts. They've already "trimmed the fat" and then some. We have classes that are already way too large, combination classes in early elementary grades, and teachers buying basic supplies out of their own pockets. Do you want to know how much money a teacher with 10 years of experience and a Master's Degree makes? $42,000. I think that's pitiful, especially considering the ever-increasing demands and ever-decreasing supplies of materials and training. All teachers are asking is to stop the bleeding. They are not asking for raises, not even a return to the way things were in the classroom 5 years ago. It is just really hard to watch the rapid decline in the quality of education in Watauga County. And for a county who prides itself on providing quality public education, who draws people to the area solely because of the reputation of its public schools, it is even more painful and embarrassing. My only consolation is that all the people who never bothered to vote in the local elections will remember these "leaders" and vote them out in 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Education Supporter

You almost made sense. You were doing fine for a while but somewhere along the line you jumped to a conclusion not warranted by the facts. At least not yet.

The only issue on the table last night was a tax increase. For some reason you have determined that without this sales tax increase, education will suffer. And you seem to be blaming the county commissioners.

I do agree that, if you don't like what government does, then vote out the ones responsible. If your democrat governor cuts school funding and your local county commission finds some way to continue without laying off teachers, you want to vote out the commissioners because they didnt pay for it with a sales tax.

Is this the kind of logic you are teaching our kids?

You complain about lack of supplies? You just got an 80 million dollar school! How many supplies could you have bought with that money?

Cinncinatus said...

If the cuts are as bad as predicted from the state and the Watauga County Schools lose the 70 positions that were projected at the meeting, that will hurt a lot of kids.

I don't care if the county has a sales tax or not, I do care that they do something to keep the teachers and assistants and counselors that give our kids a shot at a great future.

At the state and national level there isn't a whole lot of difference between a D and a R each one caters to their power base as best they can. This is a local issue, you need to take care of people.

The public schools are one of the largest employers in this county. If these cuts happen and the county doesn't help. A lot of angry teachers and a lot of angry parents will become a lot of angry voters.

In the long run there would be some cuts on the county commission.

Mr. Deal, I have disagreed with you on many issues in the past and I probably will again. Thank you for your willingness to advocate for the teachers and citizen's of Watauga County on this one. You also won my vote last night should you choose to run again.

Anonymous said...

Education supporter, maybe you need some education. Only one of the three Republicans will be running in two years.

This thread says Deal is not going to run. That would probably be good for the Democrats because he might have trouble being elected Dog Catcher.

Anonymous said...

"Our schools have cut huge amounts. They've already "trimmed the fat" and then some." Education Supporter

The budget for the Board of Education in 2010 was $10,816,179

The budget for the Board of Education in 2011 is $10,816,179

Where are the "huge cuts"?

SMWTWataugaCountyResident said...

I have a great idea for all our elected officials -- let them take a pay cut -- better still let them all lose everything -- go to a homeless shelter and have to start where so many people are right now -- let them see how hard it is to get a job, place to live, and provide for a family with nothing. Then maybe they will figure out how to better the situation we are in now. They have too much money -- and it isn't just our commissioners, its ALL political figures in the USA. Get them over here on our side of the tracks and see how well they do.....

Anonymous said...

Quarter cent sales tax = one quarter out of every $100 spent. One dollar out of every $400. Tourist and part-timer dollars input into this scenario is far more appealing than other revenue generating proposals.

Anonymous said...

I don't where you got the information about the BOE budget. It is inaccurate. Have you asked a board member to look at the budgets? They have the accurate information. What you have is not.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous with the Board budget numbers probably doesn't want facts to get in the way of his argument. These figures are way off.

Luther Randalf said...

Anonymous wrote: "The budget for the Board of Education in 2010 was $10,816,179. The budget for the Board of Education in 2011 is $10,816,179. Where are the 'huge cuts'?"

I think that the amounts you report are local funding figures, but they differ from the budget numbers the WCS System released. According to the information I've seen, local funding has been reduced over the last three years. There is no doubt, that historically, Watauga County and the WC Commissioners have been very generous with their monetary support for education.

In looking at the WCS local budget numbers, local contributions appear to have fallen a little over 1.4 million dollars during the last three budget cycles (2008-2009 through 2010-2011).

Meanwhile state budget contributions over the same period have fallen 1.99 million dollars. However, federal funding rose slightly. According to Watauga County Schools' information, they realized total operating reductions or budget cuts of $2,223,515.

The reduction in funding translated into about 50 positions lost.

The last I heard, the state is still contemplating making between a 5% and a 10% reduction in education spending for school year 2011-2012. Federal funding might also be reduced. Earlier in the year, people in state government were - I believe - asking state agencies and local educational agencies to prepare budgets reflecting as much as a 15% and a 20% reduction.

The concerns and fears of teachers and parents are real... (And that is not to downgrade those folks who are have lost their livelihoods in the private sector and have legitimate concerns about how much money the cost of living and the government take out of their pockets). As has been previously stated, we don't know what the final budget allotments will be and how all this will fall out, but the effects of potentially losing another 70 positions could be felt in both the local economy and in the quality of education given school-age kids.

For more information see:

Education Supporter said...

Anonymous - No, I don't teach that type of logic. I'm not hoping they'll be voted out because they voted down a tax increase. I'm hoping that they'll be voted out because of the unprofessional way they've handled the whole situation. I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe that they are capable of handling tough situations with anything approaching adequate leadership skills.

Anonymous said...

Luther Randalf, you are my hero!
Finally, a logical, well thought out rational post!

I am a Republican. I support our excellent schools here in Watauga.I hope that it does not become neccesary to lay off teachers or to cut essential school services further.

On the other hand, spewing venom, calling names, accusing county commissioners of everything but treason, solely because they voted against a referendum for a sales tax increase, is not helpful to the teachers cause.

I'm not associated with the schools in any way, and I'm too old to have kids in the public schools, but I still support the Watauga school system.

I am just a little less inclined to do so than I was before all the name calling started!

Anonymous said...

Understand that anonymous blog posts do not necessarily represent the ideas of our educators. Quite honestly, I would think they are too buys to even see this. Of all the speakers the other night, the only "negative" comments came from two of the people in opposition. All of the educators thanked the commission for their support and willingness to listen. Don't let your opinion of Watauga County Schools diminish because of something you read on a blog. We are lucky to have the schools that we have!

RV said...

How can we keep our country strong if we are not willing to pay for it? I am amazed at all the people who assume that the services provided by a sound government will keep on coming even though we insist on cutting the budget year after year.

Personal attention from a teacher can make a huge difference in a child's education. When I think back on all the years I spent in school,I remember so clearly the times a teacher gave me a moment of encouragement. But if class sizes get even bigger, how much can one frazzled teacher do for the individual child? We need smaller classes, not ever larger ones.

Think back people. Think about what our children really need, not about the extra dollar out of four hundred dollars.

Richard Tidyman said...

I am pleased that Anonymous had the common sense to post “spewing venom, calling names, … is not helpful to the teachers cause.” And has had an epiphany about the insults in this blog…hopefully aware of his/her own. Quoted from the beginning of the comment sections are the following contributions.
Anonymous said... “What a trio of absolute losers too bad we have to put up with them for two years.”
Anonymous said...“…. These clowns thought they had a circus before...Wait until people find out tomorrow!”
11:31 PM
Anonymous said... “the three stooges, thats the truth !!”

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tidyman, do you not realize more than one person posts as Anonymous?

This means you have to address the comment, not the personality.

SMWTWataugaCountyResident said...

RV -- you're right we do need to pay for it -- but tell me how can we continue to pay when no one has money?? The people who have lost their jobs are already cashed out or most of them are anyway, the bare necessities are about all any of us 'normal' people can get and sometimes we can't even get that. So tell me how much more do we have to put out when the people who get our money can't manage it? Who wants to give them any more money? I sure don't I am all for education -- my son is in the public schools here and he is one of the many kids that needs that little extra help -- but even now he isn't getting it to the extent he needs to. My property taxes go to the school system as do many other home owners, but tell me seriously how much more can people afford when we are already at the brink of going under? Explain to me please because as a parent who is also out of work -- tell me how I can afford to give any more than I already do?? And also please tell me where a college graduate with serious medical problems can get a job -- since everyone also wants to complain about all the people on food stamps and other government help -- its a sad day when an uneducated person can get a job over someone with credentials, so someone tell me how else I can help and how much more money I need to give so that it can go where it doesn't need to go, more to say lining the pockets of politicians instead of to the schools, debt, and or police. Please tell me what else I can do to make their lives easier.

And seriously -- who cares about name calling the morons that were elected anyway -- because that all we have to choose from is morons, so the question really is which one is the lesser of 2 evils. Great choices we have. I want normal people, working class people, not rich people and serious politicians, I want someone who knows what a budget is and how to balance one. When you have too many 0's in your bank account you couldn't balance a budget if you really really had to and not one of these people could live a day in most of our shoes. Get a grip already.

Anonymous said...

To Watauga Co. Resident: I am a parent who was out of work as well, I am also a republican. I came over here to see the "other" side after reading the awful things on the Watauga Conservative. I have a suggestion for you. My wife and I sucked up our pride and went to see our children's school counselor for help. She was caring and compassionate and did the following to help. 1) She gave us grocery cards to help us through the month 2) She helped set us up an appt. at the bank to work on keeping our house out of foreclosure (which by the way worked) 3) She made sure our children had a wonderful Christmas 4) Gave us gas cards to get to family for Christmas 5) Most importantly she helped me find a job. I told her I didn't want any handouts. She told me that all of the above were donations and nothing came from the state and that those who had donated them wanted to help others get on their feet. I'm pretty sure that some of the Christmas came out of her own pocket. I'm now working and feeling better about being able to take care of my family. These are the people they want to cut. I don't know what I would have done without the support of her and my children's teachers (some how there was also money in their lunch accounts for extra veggies that came from no where, I hear this is common at this school). Looking back I would have given my last 1/4 of a penny to have kept my school's teachers and counselor in tact.

SMWTWataugaCountyResident said...

Thank you Anon- I am sorry for my rant -- really I am but I am so frustrated with this whole situation, there really is no need for any of it. IF our 'leaders' would figure out how to manage money and cut the programs that we dont need or use, and put that money somewhere it is needed, you know how that goes right -- having to pick and choose what you get and what you dont? I just dont see raising taxes again. They just did that recently, and the prices of EVERYTHING is going up -- except what people are paid so that makes it even harder. I just want to know why it is that people pay so much for useless things -- and not all of them are useless but you know what I mean -- lets just throw a number out there -- $20,000 for a desk when you can get one for $200 thats just a waste, and redecorating -- really?? Why?? because it isnt their money they are spending and I dont want to pay to have someone elses office redecorated when our county, state, and country are falling apart.