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Education levy: Gloomy post-mortem

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What does Kanawha's defeat of the $24 million school and library levy reveal about the county?

In an election where just 17 percent of nearly 135,000 registered voters cast ballots, the levy was swamped 17,590 to 5,501, according to unofficial results.

Here's where the levy won -- in 11 of Kanawha's 165 precincts: Those residents vote at Holz Elementary School, St. Mathews Episcopal Church, Piedmont Elementary, Garnet Adult Education Center, Carroll Terrace, Edgewood Summit, Loudendale Community Center, St. Paul AME Church, the Board of Education and Kenna Elementary.

Everywhere else, it lost, with the greatest margins in the areas of Sissonville, Elkview, Clendenin, Tornado and Riverside High School. (As the county library board could be forced to close some branches, does anyone believe those communities truly want to lose their libraries?)

Not all Republicans or Democrats agree with their party "leaders" on the value of education funding.

Congratulations to Charleston Mayor Danny Jones for rebuking his party's county executive committee for breaking with tradition and campaigning against a levy issue that should be non-partisan.

"Why use the name of the Republican Party for something other than the election of Republican candidates?" Jones said. "What's the purpose? What are they doing?"

Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Norris Light did little better. Unlike GOP county chairman Fred Joseph, Light didn't ask his committee to vote against schools and libraries -- but Light said he personally campaigned against an education levy of all things, without even bothering to poll his members first. Not that it would have made much difference.

More than enough Kanawha residents clearly buy the snakeoil sold by national anti-tax con-men. No one wants to pay more taxes than absolutely necessary. It can be attractive to believe that voting against taxes will make everything better in the future, but it's a false promise. Keeping a well-funded education system pays off in future decades, not necessarily in the next quarter.


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