Target Rich Environment: Howling at the moon over the people’s veto

6 mins read

Last Friday Sen David Trahan (Rep. Wiscasset,etc) and Charles Webster, the Republican State Committee Chairman, presented the secretary of state with 60,473 signatures by citizens petitioning to veto LD 1495.


John Frary

Now the Democrats will most likely howl at the moon, and hold a seance, praying that the secretary of state will hear their voices, while Secretary Dunlap and his staff will guard these petitions, like any ballot, to keep these messages from the people out of grasp of anyone other than the professionals who now protect the People’s Voice.

The biggest surprise among a number of surprises is that total of over 60,000 signatures were gathered in such a short period of time. The experts, the pundits, Those Who Know declared the effort doomed to failure. There wouldn’t be enough time. There was no media budget—not a cent. Sen. Trahan himself, although he knew the tax “reform” bill was a stinker, doubted success until he set about the job of circulating petitions himself. Then he discovered that about 80 percent of Maine citizens approached were ready, even eager to sign. He now vows that he will never again question Charlie Webster’s political judgment.

This has been the fastest and cheapest petition drive in Maine’s history.

Another surprise was a unique bi-partisan effort uniting the Republican and the Green Party. The two parties agree on two things, that the petition process itself is vital to effective democracy and that LD 1495 was primarily designed to gouge the working class. In fact, the Green’s contribution turned out to be indispensable to success.

The Democrats awoke to the danger of their tax scheme and sprung into action too late to avert the peril. This was not for lack of zeal. Representatives Seth Berry (Bowdoinham, etc), James Martin (Bangor, Orono, Veazie) and Jon Hink (Portland) made every effort to interfere with people trying to sign. Rep. Berry, Democratic majority whip, made himself especially obnoxious at Windsor Fair; to the extent that he put himself in danger of being smacked upside the ear hole by Vickie Webster, normally a peaceable woman who takes a dispassionate view of politics. There’s been talk of an ethics charge against this pest.

One petition worker in Portland had his car windows smashed and 1,200 certified petitions stolen. Another, working the Windsor Fair, had 600 uncertified petitions stolen. Rep. Cebra (Naples, Casco, part of Poland) had his car keyed. Someone let the air out the tires of the GOP state party executive director’s SUV. There is no actual proof that any of this was the work of Democratic activists. Perhaps it was simply a trail of coincides or an operation organized by the Illuminati, Zoroastrians, or Al Qaeda. I will be collecting details for a further column.

If finally approved, all the people’s veto will do is place LD1495 on the ballot next June for the voters to approve or disapprove. The bill is not currently in effect, so the veto does not disrupt any current operations of the state government. To hear the Democrats tell it, the poor benighted peepul have been bamboozled out of lower taxes, by rejecting a measure the Dems passed in the middle of the night on the last day of the legislature. Will anyone believe this?

Here’s the Democrats’ problem. Few people know the tax “reform’s” details and they will have to spend nine months explaining how it is that, having attempted to impose a beverage tax with conspicuous lack of success, they abruptly turned around and decided to become “tax cutters.” The Democrats will have to explain why repairs to your boat will not be taxed, but repairs to your car will. They will have to explain why Trail Mix with M&Ms will be taxed at 8.5 percent, while Trail Mix without gets a 5 percent tax. Why a sporting event or a musical performance is taxed, but not a trip to a golf resort. Why your dog groomer gets taxed, but not your lawyer. Or how your income taxes will decline, when they have eliminated the lower rates on those earning less than $40,000 a year, and eliminated all itemized deductions for everyone?

They will be making claims about how much tax relief Mainers are supposed to get, but no one who doesn’t have the service of a tax professional will ever find out if they have actually been “relieved.”

It should be pretty clear that they have no taste for explaining this complex, convoluted, clumsy bill. On that, at least, I find their thinking completely understandable.

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