Letter to the editor: Take back government; vote yes on Measure 2Recently the leader of the opposition to Measure 2, Andy Peterson, said regarding the property tax measure “North Dakota deserves better.” He’s right. North Dakota does deserve better.
By: Charlene Nelson, Charles Tuttle, The Jamestown Sun
Recently the leader of the opposition to Measure 2, Andy Peterson, said regarding the property tax measure “North Dakota deserves better.” He’s right. North Dakota does deserve better.
Currently, we have a crony-driven tax code that would make a Washington lobbyist blush with envy. Around the state 35 percent to 50 percent of property owners do not pay property taxes. The majority of the properties are big businesses that get exemptions worth millions from local governments. The majority of the property tax bill then falls on the minority of citizens.
Peterson said “Take a look at our membership.” Yes, let’s do that. Most of the opposition’s coalition pay no property taxes or receive partial exemptions. Their coalition includes 10 different chambers of commerce, all of which receive membership dues from government groups and have members of government setting chamber policy. Our review of records show many of these chambers do not pay property tax for their office space. In a nutshell, Peterson supports you and I paying more so his organizations can pay zero. Our website: www.empowerthetaxpayer.com lists the financial interests that motivate Keep It Local members to keep property tax unchanged.
Other groups in Peterson’s coalition include AARP, Fraternal Order of Police, Associations of Builders and Realtors, many rural electric cooperatives and North Dakota Farmers Union. We have listened to the concerns of people in these groups. Some support Empower the Taxpayer, some do not; most want more information. All were unequivocal on the following point, “Neither the North Dakota Chamber nor our board should be claiming to speak for all members on this issue. We are smart enough to think for ourselves.”
This spring you have an opportunity to take back your government and other organizations. Political parties will caucus, cities and school boards will have elections, and many RECs will have annual meetings. Attend a caucus and candidate forums and insist on answers from candidates. Attend the REC annual meeting closest to you and support directors who are not sheep for the CEO.
Finally, as Deep Throat of Watergate fame stated, “Follow the money.” The latest report from the secretary of state shows those who oppose Measure 2 received $55,000 from the following sources: National Education Association, $35,000, North Dakota Petroleum Council, $10,000, and North Dakota Education Association, $10,000. Considering most chambers support charter schools, ending seniority and tenure, we have to wonder how the teachers feel about their leadership partnering with the chamber.
We all deserve better. For transparency, accountability and fairness, vote yes on Measure 2.
(Nelson is chairman of Empower the Taxpayer)