When I say Takoma Park City Council, chances are you either don’t know who any of them are, or are wondering what planet they live on for them to not only raise property taxes as high as they did in 2016, but also to propose that an extra year gets tacked on to their two-year terms. The council was genuinely “surprised” (particularly Mayor Kate Stewart and the City Manager) that constituents pushed back so hard on the tax rate last year, so instead of raising property taxes this year, they’ll increase stormwater fees from $55 to $92. I guess I should be saying thank you, right?
And, as for the proposal for an extra year to their term, one of the learned City Council members alleged that their existing two-year term is essentially a one-year term to begin with. Okay. I see where common-core math has taken us.
Anyway, the Takoma Park City Council, in an attempt to self-congratulate itself further, will now prioritize “Racial Equity Impact Statements” on all council agenda items. According to the City Council’s statement:
We examined how racial inequity today is not just overtly racist talk or action but rather racial inequities have come to be ingrained and institutionalized in our policies and practices, even those we believe to be race neutral. And therefore, we must disrupt and unpack seemingly neutral polices and practices to see if they are contributing to inequity.
Of course, we will see whether these statements will serve merely to virtue signal, which would obviate the requirement to point to any specific proof or logical facts. If the City Council’s generalized statement about how “racial inequities have come to be ingrained and institutionalized in our policies and practices,” is any sign of things to come, then I have no hope at all that these statements will do anything other than to masturbate the egos of the feckless City Council.
But even more critically, Takoma Park City Council also requires financial impact statements — but for some inexplicable reason, those statements only deal with the effect on city programs, as opposed to the effect of those living in Takoma Park.
That seems like a rather large oversight in a democracy. But in a totalitarian tundra? Well, not so much.
What does this mean practically? It means that the Takoma Park City Council has institutionalized a severe disconnect between the council’s agenda, and the taxpayers and residents it supposedly serves.
That is why the City Council, without even blinking, can raise property taxes as high it did (City Council: ahh! we need more money! so let’s raise taxes, right!), and then with a straight face, wonder why so many citizens were upset. Again, where is the City Council learning its economic lessons from, Venezuela?
Perhaps the City Council should get off it’s Ivory Tower high horse, and instead of focusing on drafting what will end up being useless and self-congratulatory statements about racial equity, it should focus on ensuring that its policies are financially responsible and make sense. That will serve racial equity better than any hackneyed statement the City Council will come up with.