How Blue Was My Valley

I figured it would take a while to tally the votes from my local election, so I waited until lunchtime to check my local paper. Here is the quote that greeted me:

Every Democratic candidate for the boards of Directors and Education was elected Tuesday in a victory whose scale surprised members of both parties.

The news isn't good across the board - several of the exurban towns east of us have switched from Democrat to Republican, a changeover that seems to happen every 12-15 years or so (the town I grew up in was hugely Republican - I believe my parents were the only people in the entire town who had Jimmy Carter signs on their lawn in 1979 - but now it's strongly Democratic).

I think there are a couple of reasons why some of these towns have gone red, none of them having anything to do with the national Republican party except as it applies to their fanatacism for tax cuts. These were towns that had very low taxes as recently as 10 years ago, and then the wealthy folks started buying land and building their $800,000 dream homes, and demanding that they build new schools, and, you know, we love the country and all, but where is the public sewer? Can't we widen that road? What do you mean we have to take our garbage to the dump ourselves?

Anyway, as the rich people turn their country retreat into the annoying suburb they escaped from, the taxes go up. And up. And up and up and up. My parents have seen their taxes increase almost 60% in just the last 5 years. So the Republicans brush off the old canard: lower taxes, cut spending! (even though many of the people who have demanded all the new services are Republicans who make enough money to benefit from the Bush tax cuts.)

Anyway, I'm hoping that with the way the taxes have been going up, we will soon have a state-wide referendum on having the state government provide education funding. Property taxes fund municipal governments (with aid, of course, from the state and the federal government), and the disparity between urban, suburban and rural/exurban towns educational quality is largely fueled by the disparity in the tax base. We still have Sheff vs. O'Neill to deal with, as well - there are a great many schools that are 99% white, and those tend to be the higher performing schools in the more expensive towns, towns where the median home price is over $300,000.00.

I am feeling slightly optimistic about the future, though. I guess it could be more accurately termed as feeling less pessimistic, but that's something, anyway.

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