Braving the vigorous attacks of her shrieking, snarling, snapping, cavernous void of an empty wallet, Russian River Rattina publicly announces her support for the Russian River Fire Protection District's proposed annual $140 per parcel tax hike.
At a disturbingly violent press conference consisting of River Rattina and her enraged wallet, the online journalist declared, "I know times are tough for all of us economically -- OUCH! -- but it's the right thing to do -- DANG! There goes another FINGER for gawd's sake!"
River Rattina's support was cemented when RRFPD personnel broke down the door of her home to rescue her from the physical attacks inflicted by her angry wallet, & whisked her off to the hospital in their ancient, dilapidated ambulance -- which the County refuses to replace, despite repeated requests for funding, because ambulances do not meet Sonoma County's required zoning standards for affordable housing.
But seriously ... how do I explain my change of heart after opposing Measure G and perpetually fuming about how this is NOT a good time for tax increases? I've gone back and forth with RRFPD's supporters in person, on this blog, and on the West Sonoma County Bulletin Board (WACCOBB) -- plus I've read their statements in various local newspapers. Their intelligent, courteous, and well-thought out responses have convinced me we really do need this tax.
Of course, I still feel that California's tax system is unfairly regressive; that our 30% redevelopment set-asides are starving our special districts (schools, emergency services, law enforcement, etc.) of revenue while providing few economic and community benefits per tax dollar spent; and that RRFPD and others in need of money should seek it from people who actually HAVE money these days (i.e. banking executives, terrorists, and white collar criminals).
But, when push comes to shove, we cannot afford -- as a community -- to cut back any further on our emergency protection. I say "emergency protection" rather than "fire protection" because the folks at RRFPD help us with a lot of things besides firefighting. They provide our ambulances and paramedics when we call 911; help with logistics and evacuations during floods and other emergencies; and they do proactive stuff like memorable and well-received safety presentations for schools and various other organizations. The elementary school kids absolutely adore them.
It isn't Fire Chief Sean Grinnell's fault that our crappy economy, Proposition 13, Russian River Redevelopment's 30% set-asides from our Special Districts, and the gaping maw of financial mismanagement from the County, State, Feds, and evil banking firms have somehow managed to suck away all of our financial wherewithal to an undisclosed location. The ill-fated Measure G may have been more fair overall, but it was obtuse, complicated, and we therefore voted against it. RRFPD has worked hard to address these issues with the current tax proposal -- which comes up for a vote in June. It's clear, simple, fair, and relatively affordable.
RRFPD needs the money, or they'll have to lay off key personnel and cut services. The money flat-out isn't there. So it's up to us to ensure that it is, for the sake of our ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our businesses, and our visitors. It basically amounts to $15 per month. I know that's a lot for many of us, including me. But if you think of it as a form of insurance (which it basically is), we have little choice but to bite the bullet and pay.
PS -- RRFPD really DOES need to replace their ambulance. They approached RRROC for funding -- from the tax revenues which have been diverted from them, for pete's sake -- with a strong and well-supported proposal. County officials responded that funding would be unlikely because -- apparently -- a replaced or refurbished ambulance does not meet requirements for redevelopment funding. This is blatantly untrue. Apparently the County only funds what it wants to fund. Like ... um ... affordable housing?