I'm going to be speaking at the public hearing tonight about the tax proposals. Here's what i'm going to say:
County Commissioners, Mr. Manager, fellow citizens -
My name is Barry Ragin, i live at 1706 Shawnee St, in the Duke Park neighborhood. I am an immediate past president of the Duke Park Neighborhood Association, and the current Democratic Party chair for precinct 19. I publish a daily blog about life in Durham, and, as i am sure many people in this room can relate to, i am a member of more partnerships, councils, coalitions, and committees than i can keep track of. Any organizations mentioned are, of course, for identification purposes only. I'm here tonight speaking on my own behalf.
Commissioners, Mr. Manager, fellow citizens, we will hear, before the night is out, from a significant number of people who will make a claim that either or both of the taxes under discussion are unfair to a certain class of people, will damage our economy if enacted, and, if some of the emails i've received are to be believed, will threaten our very way of life.
I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that enacting either of these taxes is not yet on the table. Rather, the question before us is whether or not the citizens of Durham County will have the opportunity to make the decision as to whether a tax increase is necessary, and if so, which of these two options makes the most sense.
Most citizens of Durham are not represented by a special interest industry lobbying group. For most citizens, attending a public meeting like this to make their voice heard is difficult and intimidating, and well out of their comfort zone. The ballot box is, however, within the realm of common experience, and the place where most people feel comfortable speaking their mind.
The North Carolina legislature has mandated that any county wishing to enact either of these taxes must receive a stamp of approval from the majority of the voters this November. Proponents and opponents of these taxes will have ample time to convince the electorate of the worthiness of their positions. I trust that the collective wisdom of the county's voters will lead to the best decision for Durham. They are, after all, the very same voters who elected each member of the Board of Commissioners. To allow a relative handful of well organized opponents of either of these options to influence your decision by keeping either of them off the November ballot is to deny the electorate the opportunity to participate in our democracy, and to make a mockery of the state Legislature's request that the citizenry vote on this important issue.
I urge you, therefore, to place both of these options on the ballot for the voters of Durham to choose, and let the debate begin.
Labels: Durham, local politics