So Tanner, McGahee, and Phillips brought back a more lenient version of the parking regulations. As I’ve discussed previously in the article, They’re Trying to Build a Prison, these rules were not necessary in the first place. But if they were going to pass, at least it appears they’ve hurt many fewer residents with the new version. Interestingly, though there was very little discussion among council members, the vote was a tie. Despite being perfectly content with the regulations two weeks ago, Morford, Jackson, Wells, and Burk all voted no on the ordinance. If they’d had an issue with the ordinance in its new version, they could have spoken up. This was just plain ‘ole pouting.
On the rare occasion that there is a tie, the Mayor gets to break his objectivity and the tie. In this case, Mayor Fitch helped pass the ordinance citing the staff’s recommendation. So now we’ll see who still needs an exemption under these softer regulations.
Not So Emergency Fund
Items 17 and 18 were related to the issue of accessing and then allocating the balance of an emergency fund normally used for….well, emergencies. To get around the restrictions, they changed them. Then they voted to spend the money on riot gear for the LPD. They can’t afford to adhere to the LPD pay schedule. They recently put into place rotating furlough for the department. But they are willing to change the rules protecting an emergency fund in order to buy riot gear?
Tanner dissented the use of emergency funds for such a purpose, making a motion the item be tabled until a different source of funding be found. The motion didn’t even get a second so it could be voted on, so after some discussion they voted to change the rules and then spend the money, Tanner being the lone dissenter in both cases.
The Mouse Trap: Federal Money is Never Free
As the the majority of the council rigidly ignored Tanner’s insistence that another source of funding be consider for the LPD riot gear, the discussion revealed that the money in the fund originally came from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Not only did the fund originate from FEMA, but when the need to spend it arises, it is refilled by FEMA. FEMA gets its money of course from the national government. In a previous article, Federalism Could Have Worked, I mentioned the problem with local governments taking money offered from the national government, but I’ll recap.
Our national government does not share our interests. D.C. has its own set of interests, separate and distinct from the interests of the States and the People. It is not our destiny to directly serve those corrupted interests, but the national government now dangles all kinds of cash incentives to state and local governments. These incentives come with strings right out of the box. Once the state and local governments get accustomed to receiving a given incentive, the requirements are altered or increased. In their article, Who Killed Federalism?, David Corbin and Matt Parks give some examples. Here’s a relevant bit too:
It begins with the promise of federal funding—assuming certain conditions are met. Revenue-strapped states scramble for the money like children diving for candy after a piñata bursts. This “extra” money is soon not extra at all—but rather a vital (even if relatively small) part of a barely balanced budget. Meanwhile, the federal bureaucracy realizes that the original conditions attached to the money are inadequate to reach its ever-elusive goals. New rules follow with threats of withheld funds for non-compliance.
Our very own council chases after the same kind of money – money with D.C. strings attached.
So who is left serving our interests if our council is caught up serving the national governments interests? The answer is no one. We have no representation when we allow our local elected officials to chase after federal money.
One more big ‘ah ha!’ moment here. It’s national policy that’s making us poor in the first place. How much worse off will we be when our city hall is directly serving national interests – directly enforcing and complying with national mandates?
So one of the first keys to again prospering, to again being able to afford our homes, vehicles, and education without living lives of indebtedness, is to stop allowing our city council to accept money from individuals and groups that don’t have our best interests at heart. In any other context, that would be called bribery.