The suspicious bureaucracy behind the 22% tax hike campaign and its fallacies

by Roger & Brenda Pogge

In television and radio ads, the Yes Campaign promotes itself as "the campaign to reduce congestion." On the surface, that sounds like a good idea and a noble cause. We would all like to see congestion reduced. However, the simplicity of their campaign slogan is in stark contrast to reality. Before voting to raise sales taxes for the next three generations, many questions need to be answered. Two of the most important questions are:

1. Who is behind the Yes Campaign?

An un-elected agency called the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) is the entity directly behind the Yes Campaign. This is a group dedicated to the "regionalization" of Hampton Roads. By their own admission, they desire to merge us all into one great big taxpaying metropolis. This group backed a similar referendum in 1998 that would have given themselves regional taxing authority. Since they were unable to acquire that authority in 1998, they have put together a wish list containing $7 billion dollars worth of projects that they would like for you and me to pay for. They have never built one road, yet they will be given $7 billion dollars of your tax money to practice. If VDOT, who has been building roads for decades, cannot manage efficiently, what makes these folks think they can?

2. Is this really about relieving congestion?

Under the guise of reducing congestion, the HRPDC has proposed the building of the so-called "Third Crossing" that will connect the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel to Craney Island and then on to the Norfolk International Terminals. It is projected to cost the taxpayers more than $4 billion dollars. If congestion were the real problem, two more tubes on the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel could be built for less than $1 billion dollars! Why then are they pushing the Craney Island route? It seems there are big plans for Craney Island. Could the real motive be a vast expansion of the Port Authority, an agency that is already a recipient of millions of taxpayer dollars. Maybe that is why the shipping industry has donated $100,000 dollars to the Yes Campaign.

The proposed Southeastern Expressway is another questionable congestion reliever. This 19-mile highway through Chesapeake farmland will have seven interchanges. This is purely about growth and development, and they literally want us to pave the way! Is it any wonder that the bankers and developers have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Yes Campaign?

Then there is the proposed Route 460 expansion, a super highway to nowhere. This new road will bring harried drivers straight into beautiful downtown Zuni. Isle of Wight County, as well as Chesapeake, will become another developers dream.

How will the Virginia Peninsula fare from all of this? We will be hosts to an enormous fleet of tractor-trailers barreling their way to the newly expanded port in Norfolk. We will also have our very own HOV lane to New Kent County. This will be a continuation of the rarely used HOV lane we already enjoy.

We are not opposed to the idea of growth and development, nor are we opposed to expanding our port system. However, we are opposed to the deceit employed by the Yes Campaign to raise taxes! We do not believe the taxpayers bear the responsibility of financing these projects that seem to be designed to bankroll private enterprise. We are opposed to a new layer of un-elected regional government bureaucrats spending our tax money. Furthermore, we are opposed to legislators who refuse to make the tough budget decisions in Richmond and instead, ask us to "tax ourselves." We resent the attempt by our elected officials to scare, shame, and threaten us into a decision where there are only two choices, yes or no, all or nothing (literally their way or no highway). Lastly, we resent the voting public being patronized and treated like children who are not mature enough to be trusted with the truth. The more information that comes out exposing the particulars of this plan, the more suspect it becomes.

The Yes Campaign is determined to win this battle by spending $1.5 million dollars on a slick advertising campaign designed to convince an unsuspecting public to raise taxes on themselves. This is actually a litmus test to see if the people of Virginia will stomach even more tax increases in the upcoming General Assembly session. There is already a plan to increase the sales tax another 1/2 percent for education, and there will also be a proposed "sin" tax. Don't give Governor Warner and the General Assembly the mandate they are looking for to justify more and more taxes.

We need your help! Please help the kNOw campaign tell it like it is! (1) Pass this information on to your friends and neighbors. (2) Come to the "No Tax Hike" Pancake Supper on Oct.14th and bring your friends out for some "food for thought." It will be held at the American Legion Post 368 in the Denbigh section of Newport News and begins at 6:30 p.m. The cost is only $5 for adults and $2 for children under 10. Delegate Tom Gear from Hampton will be the emcee and features newly elected Senator Ken Cuccinelli and Delegate Johnny Joannou. For reservations reply to rfpogge@pobox.com or call 757-827-6510.