Last Word on that sales tax increase, April 4

Sales tax increase

At a time when we should be doing more to address income inequality, the Norment tax transfers money from lower-class workers, who can least afford it, to JCC homeowners, who will receive a property tax reduction.

After watching the JCC video of the BOS work session, here are a few takeaways: Sen. Norment has a Ph.D in general knowledge and is always the smartest person in the room. He is not a fan of the Last Word and all the opposition to the legislation manufactured by a small group of conservatives. He appears to be confused as to who he works for, be it the voters or Colonial Williamsburg. There is a tremendous disconnect and lack of communication between our elected officials. To say that this is another example of legislative buffoonery would be an understatement. A final point is that if SB 942 doesn't work in a few years, Sen. Norment vowed to get rid of it. That's reassuring, isn't it?

The headlines in the March 31 Virginia Gazette indicate a 1 percent sales tax increase will help lower our James City County real estate taxes. If this is true, then as an elderly, retired Williamsburg citizen living on a fixed income, I support it. My home property taxes have become a burden to me and my family for some time now. There is little to no control that I have over them unless I choose to move out of the area. However, to some extent, what I do purchase or don't purchase is a choice I can control. But first and foremost, our elected officials should be required make the approval of the 1 percent sales tax increase contingent on the property tax reduction.

Trump and Tommy share some personal and political values, not least of which is regressive taxing. The county administrator seems poised to pretend to reduce taxes, at least on homeowners, while actually increasing the tax burden on them — and especially on renters. The reduced tax on a $300,000 home will amount to a $60 a year. Calculate the increased sales tax, day in and day out, on your local purchases and you’ll be in the hole. The supervisors are being tempted toward “found money” and avoiding responsibility for a tax increase with a regressive tax that hurts those with lower incomes the most. If the needs of the county for buses and public safety positions are legitimate, let them be funded in an honest and open way.

With fewer people actually taking any or all of their vacations, this area really has to compete for their business. Our son is 45 and in a high-stress job in Northern Virginia. When he and his family do go on vacation, they want to get away from it all and go to the Outer Banks. They rent an expensive house and have other family members come visit. I am sure they spend a lot on eating out and groceries, but they unwind and relax the whole week. A vacation in our area here would not afford that feeling for people. I think we have to face the fact that people trying to unwind and relax don’t really want to be immersed in CW’s world of slavery and political problems of the 18th century.

Outsourcing dispatch

I agree with the Last Word commenter that outsourcing James City County 911 service to York County does not make sense. It may save money, but it does not improve the safety of James City County residents. They say that all of our fine dispatchers can apply for the job at York County, but as Williamsburg found out when they outsourced to York County, they lost about 30 percent of their dispatchers due to the commute and other problems of switching employers. Everyone who is concerned about this move should show up at the James City County Board of Supervisors meeting on April 10 to let their voices be heard. Thank you.

School shootings, guns

To the commenter suggesting that tasers should be used in our schools instead of guns: Tasers are only good against a person using a weapons other than a gun, as to be effective you need to be a relatively short distance from the criminal. Only a gun is effective against someone with a gun; it’s called matching firepower.

To the caller who suggested arming teachers with tasers: Unlike the AR-15, which can shoot hundreds of rounds a minute, the taser is a one-and-done, sort of like a muzzle-loading pistol. You really want a teacher to go up against an AR-15 with one shot?

While we don’t hold distilleries or breweries responsible for the actions of a drunk driver, America has begun to hold bartenders responsible for serving alcoholic beverages to a drunk. Therefore, since we don’t hold gun- or ammunition-manufacturers responsible for the actions of a shooter, we can start holding the gun store owner responsible for selling that gun. I wonder what a class-action lawsuit against the seller of the gun in Parkland High School would look like? Maybe a half billion dollars?

Have any of you who are criticizing the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., taken the time to find out what it was about, which was gun violence nationwide, not just Parkland and not just school shootings? Speakers from Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and other locations called for awareness on gun violence and asked our lawmakers to enforce laws on the books as well as enact new laws that will make all citizens safer. On March 24, in addition to 800,000 people in Washington, D.C., there were more than 800 marches worldwide calling for stricter gun control, including a march in Williamsburg with a thousand people. Wake up! This isn't the Old West and people are dying.

To the person who brought up the race card regarding the Parkland school shooting: You made a point that black kids are gunned down daily in big cities. The difference is that those kids were not in a school where there is an expectation of a safe environment. And what does voting Democrat have anything to do with anything?

One of the solutions to the problem of uncontrolled gun ownership in this country: States should pass laws requiring all gun owners to have a $5 million liability policy should the gun be used to hurt someone.

There is no question that the frontal lobe of the brain, which we use to plan our behavior and imagine consequences, isn’t fully developed until our early to mid-20s. Its maturity is crucial to good judgment. Allowing those younger than 21 to own guns simply isn’t smart.

To the person who wrote about the “inane” (which means silly or stupid) March for Our Lives on March 24 and went on to say, “We cannot have your gun rights.” Here’s a tip for you: I feel sorry for you. We don’t want your gun collection. We want to break the stranglehold the NRA has on politicians of this country. And that will be done, no matter how long it takes. We don’t want to deprive law-abiding citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights, but you and others have a distorted idea of what that amendment means. There is nothing wrong or threatening about wanting reasonable gun restrictions, i.e., a ban on assault weapons, stronger background checks, the age limit increased to 21 to buy a gun. How could reasonable restrictions possibly be a threat to you and your 2nd Amendment rights? And why do you feel it necessary to demean the thousands of us who marched on the 24th? Those of us who marched for our rights deserve better than your mean-spirited, petty comments.

A recent writer seeks to justify gun ownership for 18-year-olds by noting that those in the military handle weapons. These young soldiers, after thorough training, are issued government-owned equipment for temporary use in defined circumstances and situations. They are supervised by experienced officers and noncoms. This is quite different from an immature, easily-influenced 18- year-old civilian owning and toting a lethal weapon.

Thank you

Thank you to the library and to the friends of the library for their organization of the STEAM youth program, which includes science, animals and math. I don't always agree with the library's topics, but this one was spot on.

Great show

We attended a show at he Williamsburg Art Gallery based on Seth Birkenmeyer’s excellent write up in the Gazette. I savored the article and the featured paintings several times online before having the experience in person last week at the Williamsburg Art Gallery. It was a delight in every way — moving from room to room, chatting with some of the artists and enjoying the art, the flowers and the flowing background music. Thanks to Seth for enticing us to go. And to Gulay Berryman, Elizabeth Greaf and the many gifted artists for treating the community to this welcome relief from a dreary winter.

Looking for …

My wife and I live in a retirement community and use our land line phones for most of our needs. We have cellphones through a very popular company and use them principally to contact each other and in case we need help. Each month we pay more than $60 for 70 “free” calls, and use only five to seven of them. This is the best program for our needs that they offer. Can anyone recommend a responsible cellphone company which has a program that would better fill our needs?

Someone told me there is a gentleman in Williamsburg who was starting a program for adults with autism, and I have a grandson with autism. Would you please call me? The telephone number is 258-1559. I’d like to discuss autism with the residents of Williamsburg that have adults with autism. Thank you so much.

This is in response to the person looking for assistance with photography and preparing items for eBay listing: I will be returning to Williamsburg in early May and will be happy to assist you. Please contact me at ronaxeman@tampabay.rr.com or 727-804-4119. Thank you.

To the person seeking a Christian beauty salon: I suggest calling Linda Marie at Divine Hair Creations, here in Williamsburg. Linda Marie has been my stylist for more than 15 years, and I recommend you call her at 757-784-0066.

To the person selling a power recliner listed in Saturday’s Gazette classifieds: The phone number in the ad has been “changed, disconnected or no longer in service.” I’m interested in the chair. You can reach me at 757-250-3256. Thank you.

I would like for someone to recommend a hairdresser that can deal with fine and thin hair. Please answer in the Last Word. Thank you.

Retired in Williamsburg

Fred Siegel’s most recent cartoon says that the Episcopal Church “wonders why its membership has dropped” and tells us it’s because the church has resolved to welcome illegal immigrants. I don’t know whether either statement is accurate, but as a faithful Episcopalian, I would like to remind Fred that our liturgy includes prayers for the poor, the oppressed, the suffering and refugees, which would describe many illegal immigrants. And we can’t forget that many of them contribute to society as our roofers, our yard workers and our devoted caregivers. How will we fill the void if many of these people are returned to their home countries?

We are used to the right wing slant of "Retired in Williamsburg," but the political "cartoon" in the March 31 edition was extremely out of line. Singling out one religion for reportedly doing what its scripture says to do and citing this for a reduction in membership is abhorrent. Many Christian churches state that "all are welcome," and none of them to my knowledge ask about legal citizenship to participate in worship or to become a member. Shame on the VA Gazette for publishing this hateful and bigoted "cartoon." You have sunk to a new low, which has left me almost speechless.

Holding marches

I cannot help but notice that when marches for different causes are taking place on Duke of Gloucester Street in the heart of CW's historic area, visitation to that museum dwindles down to nothing. I realize the street is already closed to traffic and the streets in the historic area are owned by the city of Williamsburg, making it easy for all involved, but would it be possible to have the marches somewhere else in town? I hear visitors saying this kind of thing is scaring them away, not drawing them to the area.

Going out of business

Corner Café closing — what a loss to our community. Quiet, cozy place to eat, delicious food (only venders who provided quality food), a place to have lengthy conversations with friends. The owner says she is closing for more time with family. I believe we have not supported this unique spot to enjoy with close friends. Disappointed about and sorry for our loss.

‘Happy’ countries

To the writer who wrote into the opinion section recently, stating that Demark and Sweden are “happy” places due to their being socialist countries: Having done business in these countries, I can tell you firsthand that income taxes are in the 70 percent range. This means the average citizen doesn’t have money to spend. Me, I would rather decide for myself how the money I earn is spent.

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