Scene in Passing: Ornaments and ammo season is here
December 1, 2013
'T is the season for Christmas trees, so an item the Carson City Board of Supervisors will again take up six days before Christmas seems well-timed.
We'll delve into details soon, but first let's become history buffs to explain the reference to yuletide trees. Back in 1956, according to Time magazine, a United States senator from New Mexico observed that a legislative initiative could be decorated with enough ornaments to lighten the load between introduction and passage. The legislation in question back then was a farm bill laden with amendments smelling of pork and the like.
"This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree," said then-Democratic Sen. Clinton P. Anderson. "There's something on it for nearly everyone."
Remember that caveat; nearly everyone, not everyone.
Fast-forward to Carson City, 2013. Contemplate a plan presented in November by city staffers to the governing board. The plan, in search of a supermajority of four votes, would finance several capital-improvement projects by boosting city sales tax an eighth of a cent to underpin $15 million in bonds. It's a small tree with a tax boost under it, but the bauble-like ornaments are obvious. The plan is expected to return for debate Dec. 19.
One ornament is the Big Mac, the nickname for a full-sized multipurpose athletic center pushed by recreation advocates. The cost is about $8 million, so more than $2 million more could leverage the $5.7 million already in the kitty, upgrading the project from a stripped-down version called the Mini Mac.
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Then there is a $4 million animal shelter, roughly half of which could be paid for from public coffers. Small-animal advocates, who say the pound must be replaced, want a public-private partnership and are already raising money.
Business-corridor advocates of improved city-scape features want landscaping and the like, which would include in the package a long-contemplated but controversial traffic change to promote a pedestrian-friendly city core. Along with the downtown, areas involved are on East William Street and both North and South Carson Street.
Baubles aside, whether a board coalition emerges to support the plan with four votes is an open question. Would removal or addition of baubles help, hurt or make no difference? Moving forward got just three votes last month. Some citizens promote restricting downtown traffic on Carson Street to two lanes, but others feel those pedestrian-friendly folks are off the mark. In addition, tax hikes rarely lack opposition.
This ornament-bedecked Christmas tree isn't likely to glitter enough to distract opponents, though they may slow down just long enough to attempt a drive-by shooting.
Their aim will be to kill the tax hike under the tree, then speed back up and scoot unfettered through downtown on four lanes.