posted on July 20, 2006 14:52
Two members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Wake County have weighed in on my comments.
First, a businessman I know well who served on the commission says: “The N&O take on the BRC was misleading. I know that’s a surprise to both of you.”
He added this from his perspective as a commission member:
Wake County is a great place to live. How do we keep it? The BRC major focus was to have a vision of what Wake Co. should look like 25-30 years down the road. We did that. Of course, a minor portion of that was the finance group (one of about 8 committees) was to come up with new or different ways to finance the future. The N&O only focused on this because it was the only really contentious group which included John Hood. Of course it furthered John’s agenda as well as sells newspapers. To bad the major access of information to the public is through the N&O. Many good ideas were generated and will probably show up along the way in the future unless somebody reads the report.
We were only to give the Commissioners ideas. Gary is right that they still have to come up with which ideas work and how to pay for those ideas. Nobody can guess that far out what the political climate will be let alone what it will be like in two years. The commissioners will supposedly follow up with the BRC about once a year to discuss their progress.
I learned a lot about how the county works. I was most surprised by several of the people at the County that presented to us and or worked with us during the sessions. They are very knowledgeable and professional. I just never met County officials that left me confident of their abilities. I wish it could be the same for the Politicians. However, the city politicians (especially the Mayor) seem to be much more annoying and interested in their personal bias.
John Hood Responds:
John Hood of the John Locke Foundation said I took a bit of a cheap shot at the Blue Ribbon Committee, on which he served. You can read his comments at the end of my first blog.
He could be right. Politics, after all, is the art of the cheap shot.
My point was that it is easy to list everything Wake County will need to keep up with a population that is expected to double in the next 25 years. (That’s right: Double. Twice as many people as are here today.)
It’s tougher to decide how to pay for it.
And John may be right that the commission had a responsibility to be specific about needs first.
Here is the political challenge: How are elected politicians – especially after what happened on the Blue Ribbon Commission – going to summon the political courage to raise taxes?
Especially when people like John and Carter are waiting to pounce on them?
Well, I’ve been there and done that – with Governor Hunt.
Here’s the secret. First you squeeze spending. Then you squeeze the fat out of the want lists. Then, after everybody starts screaming, you squeeze some more.
And you keep squeezing until you’ve built the political capital to raise taxes: like the gas tax in 1981.
(By the way, that never hurt Hunt politically as much as some people think. He got credit for guts. The Helms campaign had plenty else to hurt us with.)
Then, after lots of screaming and squeezing, you propose a revenue solution. Also known as higher taxes.
You paint a picture of what will happen if there isn’t more money. Not an exaggerated picture. An accurate picture of schools, roads, parks, water – all of it.
Then you fight like hell to get a bunch of scared elected officials to go along with you and take the heat.
It just takes leadership. Question is: Where will that leadership come from in Wake County?
Click to Read & Post Comments