Making a difference
I have two new heroes: Joy and Jeff Farmer. Oh, I already liked them, both for their service as police officers and for the good company they and their friends provided back when The Wolfpack and company gathered at the Kroger liquor store Thursdays for Pint Night. Then, a week or so ago, I began to follow the tale – no pun intended – the Farmers are sharing of their journey to adopt an abused, frightened dog Joy saw on a “to be euthanized” list at a California animal shelter. I won’t rehash all the details; the story begins on the front page. One detail in particular got me in the feels: a Facebook post in which Joy wrote about telling their children that Cali, who’d bonded with Jeff on the long journey home, wasn’t quite ready to love the rest of them yet. I have a soft place in my heart for animals and those who love them that, to borrow from a tale about a fellow named Grinch, has grown three sizes, thanks to the Farmers and Cali. And I’m reminded of the story about the old man who sees a boy picking up starfish that had washed up on a beach. There were thousands of the little creatures, dying on the sand, and the man asks what the boy is doing. The boy says, “I’m saving these starfish, sir.” The old man chuckles and says, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?” The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and, turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one.” Neither the Farmers nor the rest of us can save all the abandoned pets that need a home, but they sure as heck made a difference for Cali. In the meantime, as Bob Barker used to say, please spay or neuter your pets. Sermon over. 19-zip No, the above sub-head is not a sports score. It’s the tally of Midway and Versailles city councilmembers and Woodford Fiscal Court magistrates who endorsed a plan by the 911 Board to add a $59 fee to residential property tax bills to pay for 911 services. The score might well have been 20 to 0, had a Midway councilmember not been absent. (The fee structure for businesses and other entities hasn’t been released yet, but nonprofits and churches that don’t pay property taxes would pay the fee, which seems right to me, as they could require 911 service.) Several months ago on this page, I joked about the tendency of politicians, particularly at the state and federal level, to form blue ribbon panels to study tough problems and offer solutions they can then reluctantly endorse. In this case, the board formed by Judge-Executive James Kay, Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift is comprised of first responders who, among other things, know exactly how the 911 system works, and its importance. Of course, that knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into the sort of actuarial experience that might come in handy when figuring out fee formulas, but I quibble, perhaps. To their credit, I don’t recall any of the people voting on the matter or the leaders of each body using weasel words to describe the plan. Some pointed out that it’s a fee and not a tax hike, and I wrote a clarification that addressed that issue. In the end, of course, it doesn’t really matter whether what comes out of our pockets is called a fee or a tax; the bottom line’s the same. Unlike the proposed property tax hike last year to pay for a new high school that caused deep divisions in the community, the 911 fee hasn’t run into much, if any, public opposition. And it may not, as both the board members and the folks who appointed them have done a good job explaining why the money is needed and their conclusion about the best source of it. Still, part of me wonders whether, if the proposal begins to take heavy fire, one of our elected officials will point at the police officers, firefighters and others on the board and say, “Hey, it was their idea!” Stay tuned, y’all.