Sales tax avalanche, give us a ‘Big Break Garlic Fest’

Mark Derry

Flipping the TV channels between the SF Giants game and the Big Break golf series the other night, it popped into my head. The events surrounding the Garlic Fest are not only a lot of fun, but they help to promote our fine fest. Any Giants fan watching a game on TV lately has seen the promos for the first Garlic Fest satellite party at AT&T ballpark slated for next Friday. When I saw that promo and flipped back to the Big Break on the Golf Channel, which is a skills elimination challenge, I thought of Gilroy Golf Course pro Don DeLorenzo and G-Fest Executive Director Brian Bowe. How about a “Big Break Garlic Fest” Golf Tournament? It would bring back another satellite event, take only half a day, add a new fun format to a local golf event and raise some good charitable money …

Speaking of good money, take a guess: What’s the current unfunded liability for the city of Gilroy in its two CalPERS pension plans, one for public safety employees, another for other city employees? How about a whopping $36 million give or take. Those that scream there’s been public safety pension reform in Gilroy are telling the truth, but it’s disingenuous. The reforms are just a drop in the bucket, folks, and the public pension tsunami is headed straight for us, as a community, a state and a nation. What needs to happen is this: All current public pensions need to be converted to 401k plans. The public agencies – i.e. the taxpayers – should no longer be assuming the risk for public employees. Taxpayers can make a contribution to those plans, but ultimately it’s the employee’s responsibility to manage. That’s what the Gilroy City Council should recognize, insist on and start to negotiate. The public gravy train pension party must end soon, or we’ll all be paying – including those who thought they were going to get that lucrative public pension.

A gravy train of a far different sort – one of a generous nature that will benefit those in need – is on the horizon. The Garden railroaders in Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Martin, Hollister and Prunedale areas are opening their homes to their neighbors and friends to collect food for the hungry. All you have to do is bring a non-perishable food donation and you can take in the cool trains that meander through the creative terrains built by backyard railroad enthusiasts. Email [email protected] if youwant info or a guide. St. Joseph’s Family Center and the Community Pantry will receive the donations and there are 10 families who have agreed to open their homes on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for your viewing enjoyment – “Choo, choo, all aboarrrrrd!”

Don’t think for a minute that Gilroy voters are “all aboard” to support a half-cent sales tax to benefit our schools. Why? Because by the time November rolls around the barrage of tax measures on the ballot will constitute a virtual tax avalanche and the voters are simply going to bolt the other way. The latest: “The Board of Supervisors of the County of Santa Clara will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, to … consider recommendations relating to proposed one-eighth cent or one-quarter cent retail transaction (sales) and use tax for Santa Clara County.”  Wonderful, let’s see … a half cent sales tax for the Gilroy Unified School District, a half cent for Saint Louise Hospital to build an emergency room, a cent, or maybe two to keep the overspending state afloat, and a half cent for the county … it’s death by half cent sales tax and the voters aren’t going to buy a penny of this nonsense. Control expenses, get creative and innovative.

Innovation is what’s going on at the Gilroy Prep Charter School. As a measure to both improve education in our community and save money, the Gilroy Unified School District trustees should strongly consider closing an elementary school and asking Principal James Dent if the charter school could be ready by fall to expand to a full elementary school. That would be going against the (in)grained, heaven forbid, but if announced before November it would be a major departure that could help any vote on a sales tax.

I’d support a sales tax exclusively for an “Anti-graffiti Guerrilla Squad” responsible for catching the taggers, publicizing the captures and following the cases to their prosecutorial end. The graffiti problem in our community is absolutely out of control.

Under control are the spicy and yummy flavors at the Hecker Pass Plaza. Tried and true is Ayuttaya Thai Restaurant. Loved the  Panang lamb, make it spicy with that delicious curry sauce please. Then there’s the new Mexican spot, El Grullense, which serves up delicious tacos – and breakfast burritos. To top it off, there’s the new yogurt place tucked into the corner by Ace Hardware with the cool outside flaming heaters to sit by. It’s all good, and if you mention R.J. Dyer’s name you might get a 10 percent discount … or maybe a 20 percent fee tacked onto your bill.

Order up: a salute to Rotarian and Gilroyan Bill Filice, 96, who has been a service club member since 1952 or, put another way, before I was born. Bill “retired” from Rotary Tuesday – he’ll come when he feels up to it. Don Christopher, Ernie Filice and Marv Thomas regaled the members with Bill Filice tales and the tribute at the Elks Club (where BTW my family and I had a fantastic breakfast on Father’s Day) was enjoyed by all, including Mr. Filice.

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