The Gragg order – shut up and raise taxes: Tim Watkins, spokesperson for the April 3 new property tax increase, told the City Council on Feb. 21 that those who oppose the tax are talking “crazy” and “support criminals.” The council by silence supports the public ridicule of law-abiding taxpayers who dared to disagree with an unjustified new tax.

To the editor:

The Gragg order – shut up and raise taxes: Tim Watkins, spokesperson for the April 3 new property tax increase, told the City Council on Feb. 21 that those who oppose the tax are talking “crazy” and “support criminals.” The council by silence supports the public ridicule of law-abiding taxpayers who dared to disagree with an unjustified new tax.

Many taxpayers and council members – Marcie Gragg, Jim Schultz and Lucy Young – attended a city-convened tax proposal “meeting” last Thursday. A public forum, we thought. Gragg started by stating police officers would make a presentation and questions or comments will only be allowed at the end of the presentation in four separate areas of the room, an officer at each. Schultz and Young also endorsed this gag order. Gragg’s jaw-dropping explanation for obstructing citizen input, free speech and public discourse was constructed concern over opposing viewpoints– 30 mature adults, four competent police officers and worried council members the audience.

The city fears taxpayer participation and has something to hide. The council refuses to engage in open discussions and a free exchange of ideas. The council encourages ridicule of unconvinced taxpayers and will not answer questions directly in open meetings. The council cannot answer a question without deferring to City Manager Heacock for direction. The council approved $40,000 without comment Feb. 21 for the pending county rail tax increase. Most secretive are the real reasons for the $8 million and growing Bass Pro area bailout.

The issue April 3 is not about our fine police, self-serving statistics or some amorphous marketing concept of strategic policing. The issue is the city’s credibility while officials “hide behind the badge,” demanding more money to waste on bailouts and pet projects. What the city fears most is our refusal to be conned or scared into silently backing the Bass Pro area bailout.