I should know better than to try to make sense of the arguments being offered by the rag tag band anti-tax activists who have come together to fight the AAATA millage we’ll be voting on next month, but, when I heard that they’d launched a website, I thought that I’d check it out, and see if maybe they’d figured out a way, in the time since we last discussed this, to better articulate their concerns.
What I found, though, was an absolute mess… an intellectually inconsistent barrage of unsubstantiated nonsense.
Instead of focusing on facts, sharing the successful practices of other similarly-sized communities, and drawing on the recent findings of professionals who study mass transit, they’ve apparently decided, to tailor their campaign to the newly-literate. Between now and the vote on May 6, their plan is to share 26 meandering rants, each structured around a letter of the alphabet, beginning with “A”. Sadly, I don’t have time to go into depth on the first two entries in the series, which have already been posted, but I did want to share a small clip from “A is for Area,” along with four questions that occurred to me while reading it.
Oh, and I know that I should have probably focused on their suggestion that the AAATA plan is some sort of scheme to take money from the upstanding tax-payers of Ann Arbor and hand it over to the evil “poor of Ypsilanti.” Every time I tried to write about it, though, I found myself coming dangerously close to suggesting a hint of racism, and I didn’t want to do that, even though it meant that I couldn’t use my “I can’t wait to see what word they use when the get to N” line, which I really, really liked.
Judging from this piece alone, I’d say that it’s pretty clear what their major concern is. Sure, they’ve worked in a mention of “luxury” buses in Canton, whatever that means, but the real issue here, which is plainly evident, is their concern that they’re subsidizing an undesirable element making its way into Ann Arbor from Ypsilanti. This, of course, is untrue, as Ypsilanti City and Township tax payers will be paying for any increases in service outside of Ann Arbor, but, as I noted above, these folks don’t tend to get bogged down with things like facts.
I’d been hopeful that in a town built around one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning that we could have a conversation based in reality. Apparently, though, that’s not the case. Apparently, it’s enough to hint at “the poor” who use the buses without acknowledging the reality of the situation, which is that many of these people have jobs in Ann Arbor which don’t pay enough to make an Ann Arbor address possible. These people they refer to collectively as the “poor of Ypsilanti,” are the people who prepare their food, watch their children, and clean their houses, among other things. They aren’t an army of drug dealers coming to corrupt the promising youth of Annarbour… Speaking of which, here’s another inconvenient fact that often gets ignored in conversations like this: Drug dealers can afford cars of their own.
I should point out that not everyone on the anti-millage side agrees when it comes to why they don’t want this to happen. While some people clearly don’t want “the poor” coming into their idyllic little city, others, it would seem, like the plan being put forward by the AAATA, but just don’t want to pay for it. And you can see that divide in the video of last week’s debate, in which anti-millage spokesman Ted Annis says, “We’re completely in support” of the proposed routes, as the woman beside him, clearly in agony, whimpers. “We want the AAATA to do it,” he says. He then goes on to say that he just doesn’t want to pay for it with a tax increase… My sense, reading their website, is that perhaps not everyone on his team agrees.
And you really should watch the video of the debate, if you haven’t already. It’s one of the stranger things I’ve seen in my life. It’s like something out of a Christopher Guest mocumentary.
Vote yes on Buses come May 6… Or face the realization that you’re one of these folks.