Reader challenges local newspaper's credibility, objectivity; it supports every tax and demonizes all who disagree


The Virginian Pilot editorial of August 30th entitled "Reality and illusion at play in Nov 5 vote" again castigates anyone who disagrees with its all-knowing group of editorial writers. The only paper in town has consistently and enthusiastically supported every tax to come down the pike and demonizes anyone who dares to disagree with it.

Regarding the Nov 5th tax referendum, the Virginian Pilot initially labeled those opposed to the tax increase as wanting to "keep people in ignorance." Now those opposed are accused of "offering illusions" while the mighty paper deals in "reality." Next the opponents of the tax increase will probably be accused of wanting to take everyone's first born!

The paper also touts the establishment's illusionary mantra that "if you do not like the projects to be funded with the November 5th tax increase, you come up with something better." This is illusionary thinking. In America, if the citizens do not like what the government proposes to do with its confiscation of our hard earned income, the government has the responsibility to come up with something better.

The Virginian Pilot, in its monopolistic role, also fails to address other realities and instead itself offers illusions, fear and deception. Here are a few illusions and related realities.
1. Illusion. This 22% tax increase will unclog bottlenecks and choke points. Reality. Little will be done to improve the rush hour traffic and commute to the Naval Base and downtown Norfolk and the intra-city traffic that all local cities suffer. By the way, every large city has rush hour traffic and peak period problems, even those with mass transit.
2. Illusion. There is a crisis and if we reject this tax increase, the" world as we know it will end." Reality. It will take at least twenty years to complete these projects. So, delaying for a year or so while our elected representatives go back to Richmond and do their job, or resign, will not result in all the "Chicken Little" scares being pandered In fact, a recent study indicted that our traffic has reduced somewhat so we have time to do the right thing. Also, Senator Stolle said that the Southeastern Parkway would be built no matter what happens.
3. Illusion. The ballot promises that every penny of the 22% tax increase will be used "solely" for the projects and "like a promise made between good neighbors, it's a commitment that can be counted on." Reality. In 1986, we were told that if we raised the sales tax % for roads, that all would be ok. Here we are still paying that tax and now more is wanted. Since this new tax will be on our backs for at least 61 years and those making the "commitment" will be long gone, whom can we count on?
4. Illusion. The 22% sales tax increase is only equal to a $1 Coca Cola per day. Reality. It will cost each member of your household a $1 Coca Cola per day and it will increase at 6.71% per year. At the end of 61 years each family will have paid $92,177.69.
5. Illusion. The sales tax referendum's main purpose is to approve a $5.9 billion bond issue for the projects. Reality. The 22% sales tax increase is of main importance. Over 61 years it will provide $109, 921,894,593.12 or $109 billion to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) to do something with.
6. Illusion. All the "projects" will get built and that is all we are paying for. Reality. The enabling legislation states three time that "all or a portion " of the projects can be built. It also allows money to be moved from one project to another and we will be paying for "operating and maintenance costs" on the roads and tunnels. Additionally, any costs HRPDC incurs in administering our tax dollars and getting these projects built will be paid for. What will that be, additional staff, more office space and computers? We are buying a pig in the poke!
7. Illusion. The projects will cost us only $5.9 billion. Reality. Already the stated cost of the projects is over $7 billion and they have not yet been designed or built by our famous Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) who has problems with reality. Although only $200 million of bond sales income is going to Hampton Roads Transportation for passenger rail/magnetic Levitation service and support bus services, the actual amount of our tax dollars that could be spent here is almost unlimited. Without anyone's approval, tens of billions could be spent in this area on whatever HRPDC and VDOT want to do!
8. Illusion. All these projects are most important to us and thus we should pay for them. Reality. Most of the 22% tax increase will benefit the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). Only 25% of the cargo going through the ports is from this region. The larger commodities of rubber, tobacco and beer do not originate or stay in this region. The ports support 129,000 jobs. Even if 50,000 of those are local, the other regions of the state and other states benefit, but we are to pay all the cost. Even VPA and the state were going to contribute $200 million to the projects and now no mention of it is made.

So mighty Virginian Pilot, if you are really interested in reality, why not sponsor a true exchange of views regarding the November 5th 22% tax increase. Publish this article and encourage more from all sides. The YES Campaign refuses to debate the issues. I assume that you as journalists in search of the truth are not so afraid.

BK - Virginia Beach