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The City of Eugene Income Tax is Defeated!  So Who Really Won the War of the Wallet?
In Hindsight
– by Scott Rohter, May 2011

While most of my fellow conservatives in Eugene are still celebrating our victory over the City of Eugene Income Tax Measure, I’m not so sure that we really won the battle of the purse!  I looked around after the dust of the election settled, and what I saw actually surprised me!  There were three other local school funding measures that all failed in Lane County!  There were two measures in the Fern Ridge School District, Measure 20-180, and Measure 20-181.  Both were vehicles to increase funding for public schools, and they were both soundly defeated!  And in Harrisburg the local school district promoted Measure 22-105.  It also failed to be approved by the voters!  I also noticed that a majority of the voters in Portland defeated a school bond measure that was very similar to the one that was passed in Eugene.  And I ask myself why?  It was also designated for the maintenance and/ or the improvement of school facilities, but it was rejected by the voters of Portland!

I think that by partnering up together, the Eugene City Council and the 4J School Board actually outsmarted us, and I think that they are a whole lot smarter than we give them credit for!  I think they knew a long time ago that the voters of Eugene were in no mood to pass a City Income Tax!  In fact, they were in no mood to pass any tax increases at all!  In retrospect it sounds almost ridiculous to me to think that they would send a new tax increase to the voters in this kind of an economy!  So I think they knew all along that the City Income Tax was a non-starter from the get-go!  But it served as a useful decoy, and a strategic, attention grabbing diversion!

The City of Eugene and the 4J School Board also knew that the voters were in no mood to pass a renewal of the General Obligation Bonds, Measure 20-183!  The budget planners working for the School Board and the City of Eugene knew that the measure seeking to extend the school bonds for another four years would have also been rejected by the voters if it was the only tax measure on the ballot, just like it failed in Portland!  So that is why they put this hair-brained idea of a City Income Tax proposal on the ballot, and got us all concerned about blocking that frontal assault on our pocketbooks!  Then, with our attention handily diverted, they put forward their real plan.  The 4J School Board placed a measure on the ballot to renew the General Obligation Bonds.  It was simply put, in football parlance, ‘an end around run’! They used a similar strategy in Portland. They put two school funding tax measures on the ballot, and one of them passed!

While we in Lane County, were appropriately focused on defeating the City of Eugene Income Tax, the 4J School Board launched a successful ‘pinzer style attack’ from the rear, that at first we didn’t even really want to recognize was a threat.  I mean we already had our hands full with the City Income Tax!  So the School Board Measure to renew the General Obligation Bonds, for almost the same exact amount of money as the City Income Tax was expected to generate, passed by about the same percentage of votes as the City Income Tax Measure failed!  The supporters of both school funding measures counted on us being overloaded, just as they did in Portland, and they hoped that while we were preoccupied with defeating the City of Eugene Income Tax, the Bond Measure for the same amount would sneak through!  And you know what?  It did!  They also gambled that even if we did figure it out in enough time to argue effectively against it, that enough voters would feel guilty about beating back the City Income Tax, and we would just give them  the Bond Measure!  To borrow a phrase from golf, they figured that it would be a sort of a gimme!  They bargained that we would be willing to make a concession for the kids, in order to assuage our collective conscience!  And you know what? They were right!  I think they out-strategized us, and out-smarted us!  And I think that they won the War of the wallet!  What do you think of that?

Just look at the economic reality of what actually happened.  We defeated the City of Eugene Income Tax, that was planned to raise about 70 million dollars over the next four years, and we approved a School Bond Measure which is supposed to raise about 68 million dollars over the same period of time!  So who really won the war of the wallet, the voters of Eugene, or the City Council and the 4J School Board?

"The truth, the political truth, and nothing but the political truth.
A journalist has no better friend than the truth."
- Scott Rohter

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