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November 01, 2012 7:59 am

The Amend Corner: Election potpourri

Written by Don Amend

With the election only a few days away, I thought I’d get in a few more comments before I go back to having fun with this column.

First of all, I will vote YES for the fifth-cent sales tax.

I could give several personal reasons for opposing it. My income took a big hit this year when I had to give up working full time. I’m now on a fixed income just when I’m facing serious medical expenses. Not only that, but I’m not able to avoid the tax by routinely running up to Billings, so I’m stuck paying it.

Still, I’m voting yes, and here’s why.

The simplest reason is Powell is a community, and I’d like to keep it that way. I want to have good streets, a water system that doesn’t spring leaks and other services necessary to life in a community. I will vote yes for the same reason I pay to have my house maintained, I don’t want it to decay.

I support amenities such as a golf course I will never use, and an aquatic center that I use sometimes and city parks. Amenities make a town congenial to its residents and easier to sell when it’s necessary to recruit, say, new doctors or qualified police officers.

I don’t think the extra penny will increase traffic to Billings, because people who use the tax as an excuse are already going north.

I don’t think I am overtaxed. Most states I have visited have higher sales taxes, and we have no income tax. I can’t say for sure about property taxes, but I know mine are lower than those of people I know in other states.

In short, I think the extra penny is a reasonable increase given the needs of our communities and the county, and I’m going to vote for my community over my personal situation.

On a different topic, I noted with interest the letter we published last week taking the Powell student body to task for unsportsmanlike conduct because they turned their backs while the Cody volleyball team was introduced before a recent match. The Cody students, the writer noted, had exhibited no such behavior.

Then I noticed, with amusement, a similar letter in our Park County rival paper chastising Cody students’ similar treatment to the Lady Panthers, while PHS students were polite. Well, something is clearly amiss here. It appears to me that each writer was looking at the situation from a different viewpoint or each was only watching one side of the gym. Either way, it is evident that both writers were biased.

The letters reminded me of two letters Newsweek published side by side back during the Watergate Scandal in the 1970s. One letter castigated the magazine for its totally unfair coverage of President Richard Nixon. The other condemned Newsweek for letting old Tricky Dick off the hook too easy and suggested an investigation of his entire administration.

Well, in politics as in gymnasiums, fairness and sportsmanship are all in the eye of the beholder, but the politicians and their supporters are less honest and more vicious about it than the kids, who are after all, only having fun.

Finally, the death of Sen. George McGovern, war hero and anti-war senator who was soundly defeated by Mr. Nixon in  the 1972 presidential election for his stand on the Vietnam War, recalls this memory.

I had assigned papers justifying support for one candidate or the other to the members of my government class, and they wanted to know who I was going to vote for. Not wishing to influence their choices, I kept putting them off, telling them I would tell all on Election Day, when the paper was due. When I told them I had voted for McGovern, who, if memory serves, received only about 100 votes in Greybull, several of them were surprised.

The next day, one of them asked me how I felt about having voted for a guy who had been beaten so soundly. I told them my vote had demonstrated my willingness to take an unpopular position I thought was right, rather than following the flock, and I was proud to have voted that way.

Forty years later, I’m still darn proud of that vote.

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