Y’all might have received a telephone call back in April that went something like this:
"Hello? Is this Robert Undershirt?"
"Yes, this is he,"
"Mr. Undershirt, my name is Maggie, and I am calling tonight on behalf of the Citizens for a Safe Hillville ," You, of course, are a denizen of HIllville that goes back tens of years. So, you listen with rapt attention, despite the fact that your kielbasas are aflame outside on the Char-Broiler. Maggie continues, "And, we were wondering how you intend to vote on next Tuesday’s special election?"
"What special election?"
"Well", intones the sweet Maggie, "The City of HIllville has been seriously in need of a new Emergency Services Center, and a special assessment is proposed and will be voted on next Tuesday to fund this desperately needed facility. Would you be in favor of this slight raise in property taxes to pay for this essential service, or are you opposed?"
The smoke is billowing from under the hood of the grill on your deck. Soon, you will need emergency services, if this conversation goes on much longer. Not wanting to seem rushed, you meekly ask, "How much is this assessment?"
"Oh, not much, not much at all! Each property owner in Hillville will be taxed at about the same amount as a cup of coffee each day." Maggie is getting more reasonable by the second, so you listen a little more. "So, Mr. Undershirt, would you be in favor of spending the same amount of money it costs for a cup of coffee as it would take to insure that response times to emergencies in your home aren’t compromised?"
How could you reject such sweet, sweet logic? Who would be against the firefighters, the first responders? They should only have the best, shouldn’t they, especially to keep your house from burning down? And the fire trucks and ambulances always look so splendid in the Fourth of July Parade.
"Sure", you say, "I’m in favor of it."
"Good!" says Maggie. "I’ll put you down as a ‘Yes’ vote. Now, don’t forget Mr. Undershirt, that the Polls are open next Tuesday at 8 AM. If you don’t have any transportation, we can arrange someone to come pick you up.."
"That won’t be necessary. I have a car," which is an odd thing to admit, given that everyone in Hillville has a car, or can walk to the polls. Maggie wishes you a good evening, and the two of you hang up, content in the knowledge that Hillville will be a little bit better protected after next Tuesday’s election.
It is only a little later, after the dinner dishes are put away, the kids are deep into their homework or whatever it is they are doing on the computer, that you start to feel a little queasy about the whole conversation with the sunny Maggie. What’s wrong with the old fire barn? They just added onto it back in ’96. Plus, there’s the enhanced 9-1-1 millage that just went up last spring. That, and you heard the new young Fire Chief is making $110 Large now. Where was all the money going?
Now, what you don’t know is that sweet Maggie from the Citizens for a Safe Hillville also called your old futz of a neighbor, Mr. Rawbone, who told her, straight off the bat that not only was he a "No" vote, but he was a "Hell No" vote on the damned special assessment. He cussed a blue streak, saying, among other things, that he remembers back when Hillville had a volunteer fire department, and they had to occasionally borrow his thirty-foot extension ladders for fire practice downtown. "If it was good enough in 1960, it sure as hell is good enough now!" Mr. Rawbone said.
"Okay, Mr. Rawbone," Maggie said, "I’ll put you down as a ‘no’".
Maggie, as it turns out, is really Margaret Middlewife, who, along with 11 other Hillville glitterati make up the "Citizens for a Safe Hilleville ", and who have been meeting every second Wednesday in the basement of the Main Street Branch of the HIllville State Bank for the last two years. They were part of a "study group" that was put together by a group of concerned folks to make sure that Hillville remained as chic and up-to-date as neighboring Valleyton, which, as everyone knows, is a college town, and has the best of everything . Valleyton put in a gleaming new Emergency Services Center in 2007, and it has been the toast of the eastern side of the county ever since.
As a side note, Jim Middlewife, Maggie’s husband, was very much in favor of that project, too. And, he should be. He works at the Main Street Branch of the Hillville State Bank as the head of the Bond department, and he made $87,000 commission on the sale of the revenue bonds to build the place in Valleyton, which, as the County News reported, cost over $9 million to build.
Jim suggested to his wife that she spearhead a group interested in building a similar facility in HIllville. It was, after all, a splendid new building. All she had to do was get Louise Paperwad, the City Registar, to join the group, and using their voter roll books, could canvass the distict, and find our who was in favor, and who was not, if there was support for such a project, or if there wasn’t.
So, they made these telephone calls, night after night, making notations in the voter books as they advanced through the hefty volumes. Soon, they had a really cool database on who was a reliable "yes" vote, and who were the old, stodgy stick-at-naughts. Oh, and Larry Cityworker’s wife Carol was on the committee, and she made copies of the voter roll books on the HP in Louise’s office. Larry, you see, is fulltime Firefighter II/EMT, and a member of AFCME.
When the election came around that next Tuesday, sure enough, Maggie called you back. "I just want to remind you, Mr. Undershirt, that the election is today, and if you don’t have a ride to the polls, we can make sure we find you one!" She’s as sunny as ever, and you tell her again, no, that won’t be necessary, you voted that morning.
Maggie, of course, didn’t call you neighbor, Mr. Rawbone, who, according to her notations, was a solid "no".
Well, the election was a resounding success, where almost 18% of the registered voters bothered showing up at the polling stations, and, surprise of surprises, the special assessment passed by over 800 votes. Ms. Paperwad stealthfully and artfully put the poll books back in plenty of time for the poll workers to use them, notations and all, and no one was the wiser, and nobody cared, now that the new Emergency Services Center was assured, and the safety of Hillville was no longer in doubt.
Maggie, of course, was elated with the outcome. She started the next evening by booking a Disney vacation for the whole family, because that meant her Husband was going to make another killing on the sale of the revenue bonds for the new Center in Hillville. THIS time, he stood to earn over $100 thousand, and boy, did they ever deserve a vacation!
Larry Cityworker was happy the election was over, too. Now, it meant that his wife Carol would be home most nights to cook dinner, and help with the kids. But, he started: that wouldn’t last long, though–, he was going to help out in the fall with Fred Flaccid’s campaign, the guy who was running as a Democrat for the US House. Larry decided he had to get involved this fall, what with those Tea Party crazies running all over the landscape, threatening his benefits and retirement. Being a Hillville Firefighter EMT meant "Twenty and Out", and he was at seventeen years of service that summer. He was damned if he was giving THAT up without a fight!
As luck would have it, Larry saved the copies of the voter roll books that his wife Carol made on Ms. Paperwad’s office copier in City Hall. He gladly turned them over to Jim Snarling, his union steward at AFCME. "Here, Jim," he said, when they were together at the bar after softball practice in September, "You guys might be able to use this. It’s all the people who voted for the new Fire Hall. I’m sure they’re all Flaccid supporters. Only those Tea Party nut-jobs voted against it."
And that, folks, is the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of how the Democrat Party operates at a local, Banana-Republic level, how they conduct a smattering of Hugo Chavez right by your house. Illegal electioneering using city supplies. Illegal use of public voter rolls. Public graft, private gain. Under-the-radar influence peddling. And, it’s also why our nation is up to our armpits in $110 trillion dollars in unfunded public liabilities.
Happy November 2nd!