Through various media and news sources Jim O'Neal, a candidate for Springfield Mayor (and Darin Chappell indicates other candidates, as well), have been leaving the public with the impression they have a "right" to vote for or against the continuance of the 1/4-cent capital improvement sales tax at some point before the tax is scheduled to sunset.
SOS (Save Our Springfield Citizen Coalition) spokesman Darin Chappell disagrees with that characterization, and I tend to agree wholeheartedly with his views on the matter. I heard him define the issue on the Vincent David Jericho Program (link at right under "Newstalk") on Tuesday, and he explained it very well. I am not directly quoting Mr. Chappell but, basically, what he said on Tuesday was that the voters voted on the issue in total when they voted for the tax the last time it was placed on the ballot. What they approved then was that the tax would continue (it had been approved before with a sunset) and would sunset on a date certain. It is entirely up to the City Council to decide whether they will approve the CIP sales tax to be placed on the ballot again at some future date but, let there be no mistake, the voters approved the CIP sales tax WITH a sunset date certain the last time it was approved.
Earlier today, Darin Chappell posted a blog entry at his own blog dealing with the issue, I am taking the liberty of sharing his entry in its entirety here:
"There has been a recent trend among some candidates running for the open positions on the City Council of Springfield, MO as well as for the mayor’s office of the same, which has aggravated me to no end. It is the thought that the Save OUR Springfield citizens’ coalition is trying to take away the “right” of the people to vote on the retention of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) ¼ cent sales tax currently on the City books.
Firstly, I bristle at the very thought that I would ever be in favor of excluding the voice of the people in the processes of governmental action. The concept of Popular Sovereignty (the power to rule being found in the People being governed) is one that is paramount in my political ideology; it is an integral part of my philosophy, and I find it offensive that anyone would suggest otherwise for mere political expediency.
Secondly, it simply is not true…
The SOS plan merely asks the Council Members to be LEADERS! This is not a problem (the police and firefighter pension plan being woefully under funded) that has crept up on us unawares; we have known about this for years, and the Council has done next to nothing about it. We citizens and tax payers who came together under the banner of SOS did so precisely so there would be some kind of discourse undertaken by the City, the police and firefighter unions, and the people of this great city of Springfield. Within that effort, we, respecting the fact that the voters of Springfield had already rejected the tired, old, ready-made answer of the City to raise taxes, determined that we would offer a tax-rate-neutral option by allowing a currently utilized tax to sunset and be replaced by the newly established tax that would be dedicated to fulfilling the responsibilities held by the City in relation to the pension fund.
This is not offered up as an attempt to ignore the will of the people, but rather an expression of it! If a candidate, as some have, signs on to this doctrine we espoused, and that candidate wins the seat for which he is running, then, by extension, the people have spoken that they want the CIP tax to sunset and the City to reinstitute that tax revenue as that which is specifically dedicated to the pension plan.
Those candidates who have been part of the problem in the past (and those signing on to that tried and tired paradigm) are grasping at straws, when they state that we do not want to have the voice of the people heard…we ARE the people! If the City had been doing its job in this matter, our group (truly an ad hoc committee, if ever there was one) would never have needed to be established. We are now told that we need to wait for the findings of the Citizen Task Force that the City is now putting together. Fine…but where was this task force two or three years ago? Would it even have been in the workings today, if it had not been for the pressures exerted upon the City by the SOS group?
People should vote on Tuesday, allowing their voices to be heard as to which pattern of governance they individually desire for the City of Springfield. But please, do not allow the hollow claims of those seeking to silence the voice of the only group to offer an actual solution to the problem thus far. We, the citizens and taxpayers of SOS, want nothing but the voice of the people to be heard on this, or any other issue. Let them hear you on Tuesday!"
For future reference, you will find Mr. Chappell's blog has been added to my blog links.