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Filtered news: Taxes, promises, and nuts

BY NATE WHITNEY | FEBRUARY 19, 2009 7:44 AM

Audio: The author reads his column


• UI Faculty Senate President Michael O’Hara spoke with the media Tuesday before a meeting of the Faculty Senate regarding options for budget cuts. “This is going to hurt,” he told the Press-Citizen.

“We just have to figure how to make it hurt without affecting our central mission.” O’Hara obviously misspoke, because I doubt his objective is to “make it hurt” at all.

But what caught my eye is O’Hara’s pleas to the faculty to make the entire process transparent, an admirable goal. One professor even suggested that transparency may help avoid rumors on campus that could be detrimental to the process. But how could this be accomplished? Certainly not from having meetings closed to the public and the media.

Moments later, at the meeting, faculty voted to enter closed session.

• Speaking of transparency, or rather the lack thereof, President Obama’s Mamma Cass-sized stimulus bill, freshly signed in a dog-and-pony show on Tuesday, appeared to have one tiny silver lining. A website has been created to display to the public the use of each and every penny in the stimulus bill, a solid concept. But haven’t we heard about this before?

Obama promised during the election to bring about “sunlight before signing,” posting laws to the White House’s website for five days of public comment before signing off on them. This wasn’t done with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the SCHIP reauthorization/expansion, or the stimulus bill. The administration tried to explain away the gaffe by claiming that emergency legislation — due to time constraints — could not be part of the sunlight promise. My question is, Did we not know we’d be passing a stimulus? The bill was available online, but not for five days, and I’m guessing that the full 120 hours is how long it would take someone to actually read the entire thing. You’d also have to be nuts to try.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

• Evidently, they don’t like nuts in Edgefield, S.C. Or at least the oversized ornamental rubber kind that hang from a vehicles tailgate. After numerous complaints to the Edgefield police about the tacky tailgate attachments, city Police Chief Ronald Carter explained the touchy (eh) subject to Augusta, Ga., CBS affiliate WRDW.

“I think there’s room for the freedom of expression, but when it comes to indecency, the community has to step in and say this is indecent and we’re not going to tolerate it. It all falls back to each community deciding what’s decent and what’s indecent,” Carter said.

Carter sounds like a reasonable guy, and I’m sure he’s got the chutzpah to handle the situation properly. I guess that not just by his reasonable and balanced statement but also because of another quote he gave.

“They’re very realistic looking. I think that’s the biggest problem.”

The website for “Truck Nutz” gives the product’s measurements as 8 inches tall, 2.5 inches thick, and “about 5 inches wide.”

Yikes.

• And finally, an issue dealing with Iowa’s roads, namely the proposed 4-cent gas-tax increase, which would become an 8-cent increase in 2010. Our big lug of a governor is against the idea, despite the state’s need for what Gov. Chet Culver has admitted to be a daunting amount of money for infrastructure improvement.

When referencing his proposed $700 million bonding plan, Culver seemed to understand that every dollar of Iowa’s future counts. “We have, according to the Department of Transportation, billions of dollars in infrastructure needs we have to address over the next decade or two,” he told the Iowa Independent. “So while this is a nice down payment on a lot of those infrastructure projects that have been deferred, we have literally billions of dollars in need.”

So, with billions of dollars needed, why not help us wean ourselves off of our dependence on the oil industry by potentially cutting back on fuel consumption, while raising an estimated $170 million annually for road and bridge projects? C’mon, Culver. You’re a Democrat, act like one, raise those taxes!


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