Thursday, December 27, 2001
Squid loves nothing better than to curl up on the futon with two beers and a coupla pails of popcorn to watch a good fight. The meaner the better! So imagine Squid''s diabolical delight at the prospect of a nasty battle over the Salinas utility tax next year.
In November of next year, Salinas voters will decide whether to repeal a tax on gas, electricity, water, cable and telephone services. City Manager Dave Mora says the tax represents about 15 percent of the city''s budget--more than nine million smackers. Without that income, the city will have to tighten its belt--which is already pretty well-cinched following statewide cutbacks.
Mora says the first to go might be neighborhood programs, the Gabilan and Chavez libraries, the Salinas Community Center and the municipal pool. (Squid used to love to sneak into that pool at night, many years ago.)
Here''s where the City Watch Bulletin, a favorite bedtime read of Squid''s, enters the ring: "From a series of dramatic ''fire and brimstone'' speeches in the Rotunda on November 6, [Councilwoman Janet] Barnes said that anyone who votes for repeal of the utility tax ''has to be insane,''" writes local watchdog Andrew Bender. Now Squid knows Barnes may or may not have said those words--Squid couldn''t reach Barnes and the Nov. 6 minutes don''t say anything about insane Salinas residents, only that Barnes "prays that sensibility outweighs blinded judgment."
But Bender thows gas on the fire:
"Since it would take over 50 percent of voters to repeal the tax, it follows that if Barnes and Mora are both correct, less then 50 percent of us Salinas voters are sane! Which suggest how our City Council, who recently extended and expanded Mora''s contract, got elected in the first place."
Squid gleefully called up Mora, anxious to encourage round two, but he wouldn''t take the bait. He replied calmly (drat!):
"As a resident of Salinas, I certainly am concerned about the possibility that the utility tax may be repealed, but I didn''t say anyone was insane."
But you do think less than 50 percent of Salinas voters are sane, right? On a good day, anyway?
Mora wouldn''t stoop to Squid''s silly level. But there''s still time for a brawl.
ARE YOU MY DADDY? Squid nearly skidded off the road last week. It wasn''t slick asphalt, wet from that wicked morning thunderstorm. It was the radio.
Dutifully eschewing soothing music for aggravating news programs, Squid was tuned into the BBC. According to the funny-talking reporter, a giant squid was discovered roaming the sea somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Could it be true? Had they found him? Would Papa finally come home?
The details were sketchy, but it sounded like him. Fins so large they were like wings, allowing the old man to glide through the depths snatching at other creatures like so many hors d''oeuvres; Mama always said Dad was a big fella, and the BBC said he is better than 60 feet long, with 30-foot tentacles. That sure sounds like the old rascal. But was he captured? Was he slung up in some cargo net, getting prodded by men of science? Or was he already cut into outsized calamari? Static electricity from the lightning storm clouded the signal and the hopeful news faded into ether.
Distraught, Squid turned to the Internet. The utter pain of having to hit the "search" button!! That''s all it''s ever been, an endless search for the mysterious paternal sea beast Squid calls Dad. Nothing. Again. As elusive as ever, el gran calamar has slipped away once more, leaving no trace but faint memories and hopeful fantasies.
Send Squid a nasty rumor: email@example.com