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Scene In Passing: Shocks spirited away with gas tax ghost

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

Life is everywhere and always how you look at it.

Problem is, most people keep looking at it from an unaltered perspective. They rely on what they know — as comedian Will Rogers once said — that ain’t so. What things may once have been, often as not, they no longer are. As a late friend of mine used to opine, there are two types of people at work in every situation: those with years of experience and those with a year of experience repeated too many times.

After things change but people don’t, such people sometimes feed into what we know as the definition of crazy. Crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Such behavior is writ large and small, nationally and locally, though I would caution in the larger national sense the example below is due to obstinacy while the local example referenced later in this column is less egregious and mostly habitual, as well as the way political personas convince themselves they’re saving tax money for their constituents.

And so, to the chase.

Hillary Clinton is running for president as certainly as I’m a septuagenarian (and she soon will be). You would think, as smart as she is, she would have put her past behind her and learned to stop being ultra-secretive. “Trust me,” which is the line she is selling like snake oil, just won’t cut it regarding her email lunacy. Sure it’s a tempest in a teapot, but it’s one she let get this way via her high-handed actions and attitude.

Question: how’s that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result working out for you, Madam Secretary emeritus? If Hillary winds up president, she can say fine; if not, this snake oil will have bitten her.

Now to how repeated behavior is beginning to fray at the fringes locally. Local officials, both elected and bureaucratic, grew reliant on gasoline user tax revenues to provide ample largesse for building and maintaining roads or streets. But such times began exiting late in the last century, which accelerated during the not-so-great recession.

Mayor Robert Crowell, to his credit but to general consternation, at his state of the city address acknowledged the street maintenance issue is knotty and frankly said he is sans solution. Being without a solution, he and his colleagues — along with the city staff for whom they set policy in an intensely political world — place themselves at the mercy of the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t crowd.

Politicians like to have things both ways because if you do one thing, you offend this guy; if you do another, you offend another. So it’s easy to wait for a gasoline tax fix to bail you out. But it won’t happen any time soon, if ever. This is classic crazy. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result just won’t work.

Carson City can’t let road maintenance mount up to considerably more than $1 million in arrears, and counting, as years fly by. It’s time to put local general fund money to work fixing roads rather than waiting for a state-induced gas tax indexing scheme, which may or may not materialize, goes to Nevada voters next year. If more gas tax money results, there’s plenty of needs to go around, but don’t bet on it.

City taxpayers, meanwhile, want to see their cars, trucks and those vehicles’ shock absorbers avoid giving up the ghost sooner rather than later.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com.