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  • Last modified 13 days ago (July 11, 2024)

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Asserting
our independence

Rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air gave proof through several nights last week that our patriotism was still there.

Either that or people like to see things blow up — which may explain why so many seem so intent on having a felon or a feeb as commander-in-chief and why a financial felon is filling fiscal roles, at least temporarily, in one of our towns.

Celebrations of liberty seemed to take more than a few liberties this year.

From personal experience, near tragedies were averted in Marion during an 11th hour quest to replenish a store-bought supply of essential elixir (Diet Dr Pepper). Veritable armories of fired fireworks — tended to by hard-to-see celebrants, many of a tender age — unexpectedly were encountered at three separate darkened intersections.

Police used to guard against such hazards, illegal for safety’s sake. This year, according to monitored transmissions, Marion’s depleted police force instead was busy protecting townsfolk from US-56 passersby north, east, and west of town.

Big Brother may not want us to know this, of course — which could explain why so many in law enforcement, like those in Lyon County, seem so willing to accept radio sellers’ misinterpretations of a federal rule and spend hundreds of thousands to encrypt police transmissions.

Supposedly, it’s to protect the privacy of criminals’ public records. In fact, it’s a commercially and conveniently misinterpreted suggestion from inside the beltway designed to squelch the public’s right to know what their police are up to. Ban police scanners today and what’s next tomorrow?

Not only were streets littered with spent shells this year. Firefighters in both Hillsboro and Marion had to respond to at least two separate fireworks fires from those who wanted personal celebrations.

Those who preferred mass celebrations had other options.

Spectators who love hearing “ooh, ahh, I liked that one” from fellow observers gathered on grass had yet another of Peabody’s fabulous 4th Fests along with celebrations in other towns.

Those more concerned with easily getting in and out of such events parked instead around the county lake the next night for a professional show accompanied by disparate displays from amateur pyrotechnicians celebrating liberty by flouting fireworks inside Lakeshore Dr.

Our protracted period of public revelry and patriotic price — welcome though it might have been — now is blessedly over, and the main sound heard on not-so-cool evenings this week has been the buzzing of annual cicadas and the swatting of blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Not so clearly heard was how an outside consultant appeared to persuade county commissioners that they should increase taxes beyond the revenue neutral rate — and beyond what they actually need to run the county. The consultant wants to generate even larger financial cushions padded by extracting the stuffings from taxpayers’ wallets.

The consultant hooked the commissioners with a familiar lure: What would happen if inflation soared? What he didn’t explain was that, if it did, so would sales tax receipts and property valuations and thus property tax revenue.

Government, unlike taxpayers, is close to inflation-proof. Even if it weren’t, it still would have one very untried weapon with which taxpayers are overly familiar: belt-tightening.

Talk like that couldn’t be heard above the cicadas, of course — not in an era in which consultants leaching off government units try to get them to find legal loopholes to avoid putting public notices where people might see them.

Instead of paying local businesses to keep the public informed, they want municipalities to pay outsiders to post notices on confusing, outdated, hacker-prone, and legally dubious municipal websites.

One such site even admits its flaws, stating that the municipality sponsoring it “makes no claims or guarantees about the accuracy or currency of the contents of this website and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions.” We wish we at the newspaper could do that, especially when publishing important legal notices.

So, what’s an average citizen, patriotism revived by a week of celebrations, to do when voting this August and November?

Select whichever sheriff candidate vows to defend the public’s right to scanners as vigorously as he would the Second Amendment.

Select whichever commissioner candidate respects voters enough to cut taxes rather than keep them artificially high for fear they can’t trust those who pay the bills to approve new taxes in a true emergency.

Even if they aren’t running or face no opposition, talk to every elected official about increasing transparency and respect for voters, local businesses, and state laws by not automatically accepting advice of out-of-county consultants and salespeople attempting to leach off local taxpayers whom they don’t trust by finding legal loopholes to do so.

In short, be the type of citizen our founders envisioned on July 4, 1776. Create some political fireworks. Don’t be burned-out shell casings afraid to ever question what government does.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified July 11, 2024

 

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