Strike 1. No civilian member on an unelected 911 Board responsible to no one, but themselves legislated by themselves for themselves – If the tax is passed, by statute, a 911 Board is appointed, not elected, which specifically excludes the appointment of a civilian member. Even worse that appointed Board “shall have the power provided in section 190.339 and shall exercise all powers and duties exercised by the county commission under this chapter, and the commission shall relinquish all powers and duties relating to the provision of emergency services under this chapter to the board.” (RSMo 190.335(12)).
“But Seagull, does that mean they can do what they want when they want without any responsibility for any civilian oversight or elected officials?” “Appears so, in fact in a recent news article Tammy Haggler, Taney County 911 Administrator was quoted as saying, “That way we have people who have firsthand knowledge of what needs to be in the system. While it’s great to have public opinion on things, you want educated, situational emergency people involved who know what they are talking about.”
How onerous and arrogant! For Pete’s sake, it’s not rocket science. It’s a dispatch function, one that has, according to a recent news article been in place, for 21 years with civilian representation on the board and has served all the citizens of our county well. To paraphrase Haggler, from a 911 customer perspective, “civilian representation provides people who have a firsthand knowledge of what needs to be in the system. While the input from those providing the dispatch services is important you want input from the people receiving those services who know what they want and what they are talking about.”
Is the Secretary of Defense a civilian? Is not civilian oversight an inherent part of a “government of the people, by the people and for the people?” Don’t the majority, if not all, of the entities that will be dispatched from the multi-million “Taj Mahal” dispatch facility that will be built if the tax passes have some sort of civilian input or oversight, board members, commissioners, aldermen etc?
Strike 2. Deceitful Scare Tactics – In spite of a headline appearing in another local paper, earlier this week proclaiming, “Future without 911 Pondered” and an article filled with, what the Ole Seagull would call “scare trash” about what could happen IF 911 service is stopped, obviously slanted toward getting people to vote for the tax, there is absolutely no indication that if the tax is defeated the current level of 911 service would be impacted. Ironically the “sub headline” said, “Service has been available for 21 years.” The average short fall since 2006 has been $131,800 per year that’s a far cry from the $2 million plus that would be raised by the retail tax and administered by a board with no accountability to anyone except itself.
From an Ole Seagull’s perspective the 911 tax strikes out.
“But wait Seagull, doesn’t it take three strikes to be out? “Whoops, forgot to mention ‘call Strike 3.'”
Strike 3 Failure to answer questions in writing – Supporters of the tax were offered a platform to answer some questions posed by the Ole Seagull, in this paper, in an attempt to provide our readers with more information on the tax and start an interactive written dialogue. This was done weeks ago. They obviously did not want to share in a dialogue with the readers of this paper. Surely it was not “Moi” that they were trying to avoid.
Those questions related to topics such as “How many more people in Taney County will have 911 service available to them if the 911 retail sales tax is passed as compared to today?” “Why such a major jump from allegedly not being able to pay 911 bills to the extravagance of spending $4 million for a new building plus the cost of the land it will go on; $4.5 million for capital equipment expenses; $2.7 million in annual salaries to run the consolidated 911 dispatch program and an Executive Director, with attendant salary, hired to run the facility?” “Is there anything in the measure that would automatically repeal the 911 tax on land lines or must voters depend on the magnificence of our Taney County Commissioners to do something after the 911 retail tax is passed?”