Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Whether It's Joe Biden or Dick Cheney, I Don't Care

HARBESON: In this case, time doesn’t pay

By DEBBIE HARBESON Local Columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Jeffersonville’s Mayor Tom Galligan and City Council President Nathan Samuel sure get excited when vice presidents come to visit. At least that’s the impression I got after reading a recent letter to the editor they wrote.

What I don’t understand is why they think others should feel the same.

Not everyone nearly tinkles their pants in excitement just because a “high-profile” federal politician comes to town. Particularly when the purpose of their visit is to raise funds at private election campaign fundraisers.

We’ve known since Vice President Cheney came to town to campaign for Mike Sodrel that such visits cost the city money, and when the campaigns do not reimburse the city for the extra costs, it has the effect of forcing taxpayers to donate to candidates whether they support them or not.

And what do the taxpayers get for these campaign donations? Not a photo opportunity. Not a dinner. Not even a few bread crumbs. Some of them do get jam though, but only the traffic kind.

However, for Joe Biden’s recent visit, Hill’s’ campaign staff apparently offered to pay any extra costs the city incurred as a result of the vice president’s attendance at this private fundraising event. They understood these costs were directly caused by their event and were willing to pay for the services.

I love it when people are willing to take responsibility and pay for what they use.

But Galligan and Samuel apparently don’t understand the concept at all because they refused to take payment for those costs. This would be fine if the two of them paid for it out of their personal funds, but that’s not what they’re doing. They want the taxpayers to pay for it.

Think about it. Bills could have been paid by the people who directly benefited from the service, people perfectly willing to pay for the services they used. Yet these politicians turned down the money.

Surely they can understand the basic idea of paying for what one uses, right? So why would they not let someone do that?

According to the letter they wrote attempting to explain their actions, they think these visits are special just because they are “high-ranking members of the federal government.” They think local residents should feel proud and consider it a grand honor to pay extra when these politicians come to town. They say people should welcome the leaders of our great nation.

But these guys only come here because it serves their specific political purposes.

Both visits had a very narrow intent. It had little to do with the people who actually live here, and everything to do with maintaining their power and control at the federal level. Instead of feeling flattered, locals should feel used.

Fortunately, no matter what these two city politicians say, none of us have to get on our knees and blindly worship political leaders anymore. We threw that idea away centuries ago.

Galligan and Samuel also said that if the city did not provide protection, it would be sending a signal to leaders in Washington that they are unwelcome. Who said not to provide the service? Just accept the payment. Why is this so hard for these politicians to comprehend?

If they are truly concerned about sending the wrong signals they would do well to think of their own constituents. After all, what sort of signal do their actions send to a local small businessperson who sat in the event’s traffic, losing money because he’s unable to bill for the time? The very least these “generous” politicians can do is not make this taxpayer pay even more, by not accepting the voluntary payment for services rendered.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson never tinkles her pants in excitement when federal politicians come to town. She’s been known to do that when they leave though.

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