It's not about the kids, it's about the money.
Bradley County is witnessing impressive political change fueled by the push for a new Wheel Tax.
For years good elected officials, community leaders and political party members have cowered under the viciousness of a small group banded together with one goal in mind, to force public spending and to have control of that spending. Anyone opposing them would be punished using their jobs, credit and livelihoods as a threat to toe the line. For years the community has known who they are and what organizations give them power, watching helplessly while they squandered the wealth and future of the citizens of Bradley County. But now something remarkable is happening. Ordinary people are fighting back and having an enormous impact on the political landscape.
Hence the upsurge of patriotic fervor appearing at meetings and political gatherings. Bradley County citizens are determined to take their community back. And the people of the county have never looked so fine because of it.
It has become a wakeup call the godfathers at the Chamber of Commerce and the moguls at Cleveland Associated Industries cannot ignore. Finally they are beginning to run for the hills as the muck settles on them. No longer can their deeds and alliances be hidden from those they wish to hurt. Even the mightiest are feeling the heat. The community is rebelling in large numbers and demanding change laced with revenge, similar to what happened in Athens Tennessee, just after WWII.
How did this remarkable turn of events come to pass.
I have watched as a handful of people, a few at first, then more and more, saw the injustices being perpetrated by those known infamously as the Good ol' Boys, but I see them more as a kind of Mafia shaking down our community. These guys run everything with the help of Quislings in government and it is costing every one of us to foot the bill. They have gone too far and the battle to remove them has begun.
At first the courageous few paid the price. Good County Commissioners and others looking out for the people fell under the wrath of the Cleveland Mafia. Elections were rigged, stories were spread, lives were ruined, the price for courage was high. For many years this went on. The good losing. The bad winning. But gradually, as the good guys became smarter, the Mafia began to feel threatened personally and there was anguish at the prospect of being held personally accountable. The tables were turned and it was now their fortunes and reputations up for grabs.
What put things over the top?
The request for a $32 Wheel Tax per vehicle per year to keep the money flowing has received much attention from the downtrodden. The people's champions increased the pressure to overthrow the measure and this time, the people promoting it. More good guys stepped in to consolidate the effort and before you could shout "it's for the children" the upswell of opposition to a new tax was deafening. The Mafia is losing power and the previously intimidated have began to be courageous and outspoken too. Even the leaders of the local Republican Party are speaking up for change after years of silence.
There has been reams of information from both sides on the issue of a new tax but none of that means much when people are fundamentally opposed to a process that has continuously hurt the community. This call for more money is just the latest in a long line of requests none of which solved any problems and many of which made things worse.
Remember how the new jail was supposed to alleviate inmate overcrowding. Over $20 million frittered away on that but there is still chronic overcrowding and the community is hiring twice as many jailers to handle it.
Do we have a better justice system because of those millions spent and extra staff? I don't think so, just more comfortable prisoners.
Education. Remember how the sky was going to fall if we didn't build what was to become Walker Valley High School. Over $27 million was spent on that one and it was later discovered the Bradley County School system was educating a large number of outside students including many from the Cleveland school district. Cleveland had also benefited from the requirement that 30% of any money raised for Walker Valley be given to the city system. The school actually cost close to $40 million not including the annual cost of staffing and maintaining the facility. Is it surprising that city officials were also supporters of that new school, as they are the Wheel Tax? Many city officials are also members of the Cleveland mob that have encouraged reckless spending for years.
Are the kids getting a better education because of the $40 million it cost for Walker Valley? I don't think so. (Read Joe Kirkpatrick's article this issue for insight.)
The Cleveland Airport, already costing millions even though the Mayor and Cleveland City Council continue to say it is not using local money. They openly lie to their constituents knowing the real cost and why it is being built.
Will the people of the community benefit from a lavish airport? I don't think so.
Now the $32 per car Wheel Tax. If you read an article on the front page of this issue you will understand why you are being hoodwinked and identify some of the people responsible for the fraud. The story is by Rodney West and is good reading. West is one of those courageous people fighting for real justice for you. Another excellent source for the truth about what is going on and how it affects you is the Bradley County News at bradleycountynews.wordpress.com. It is published by another good guy and man of courage, Donny Harwood. Harwood is doing a great service to our community and he also is doing it out of patriotism for his fellow citizen. No hidden agenda there. Please add your support to these courageous people who are leading the charge.
Even if it were adopted, the new Wheel Tax will not build a new school. It is a new revenue stream that will allow Bradley County government to borrow the money for a school, and of course Cleveland schools will benefit with their 30%. They get the money to spend now, we pay the bill with a Wheel Tax for 20 years.
There is no doubt public opinion is against spending more money the county doesn't have. Besides, the Wheel Tax would not permanently solve any problems because it would be added to the list of money already spent and next year there will be a new cause to raise more money for.
So, if the kids will not benefit and the taxpayer will be burdened, who will benefit from the spending?
I am prepared to wager that the people who support this new tax will in fact directly or indirectly benefit from a more wealthy school system and those that don't benefit are being hoodwinked into believing their children will get a better education. Ask those that want the tax who they work for or if they have family members in the school system. Ask them if they do business with the system, or work for a company that does. I don't think the answers will surprise you but I think you asking will surprise them.
That's what I think. What do you think?
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