We live in interesting times, no doubt about it. Politically, we are more divided than ever.
But here in Gilbert, it seems we have a clearer idea of where we want to go. At the legislative, school, and town council levels, we have elected increasingly conservative representatives.
The most conservative elements of our town, including those who are members or supporters of the tea party, have carried the day, mostly because they are engaged in our community to a much greater degree than the rest of us. Good for them. Citizenship requires that participation, and those folks certainly fulfill that responsibility.
Of course, elections have consequences, and recently we have seen a couple of those in the Town Council’s actions.
One puzzles me, though. I can’t quite understand what the most conservative on the Council really believe.
Recently, there’s been a huge debate within the Council about the $300,000 from the budget given to various non-profits.
The debate is over how quickly we can eliminate that funding. Four council members recently voted to phase out the funding over time; three — Eddie Cook, Victor Petersen, and Jordan Ray — wanted the funding to be eliminated immediately.
Mr. Petersen said that, “The fundamental drive ... is to give somebody something they can’t pay for. That means we are taking from somebody who has rightfully produced the fruits of their own labor ... and giving to someone else who does not have a right to it.”
OK, I get his idea; it’s a pretty common complaint some have. In fact, it’s a kind of “income redistribution” many conservatives regularly complain about.
So far, I understand. But here’s the confusing thing.
Just a few months before this, the entire Council, including Ray, Cook, and Petersen, voted to do just what Mr. Petersen complains about, only on a much larger scale.
The Council in November voted unanimously to use $5 million from the town budget to provide “incentives” for businesses to locate in Gilbert.
So I’m confused. On the one hand, the Council apparently believes that taking “the fruits of our labor” and giving it to non-profits to help the neediest among us is somehow wrong, that those non-profits have “no right to it.”
But at the same time, they have no problem taking those same fruits — and a lot more of that fruit, by the way — and choosing which businesses to support, apparently under the belief that those businesses somehow do have the “right to it.”
I’m guessing those council members would tell us that we have to do what the other cities around us do: spend a little money to make even more money.
And that’s true. I get that we compete with the other East Valley cities for business.
But I wish our economic conservatives would at least be a little consistent, or at least explain how the principle Mr. Petersen stated applies to the poor, but not to businesses.
Because right now, those folks sure seem hypocritical.
Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.