The Community Safety Initiative went down in flames Tuesday, 59-41. The quarter-cent sales tax "would have generated about $10 million a year for law enforcement need and early childhood education programs aimed at crime prevention," according to the News-Leader.
Social conservatives decried the linkage of a cop tax with "raise-a-village" programs. Their criticism doomed the measure. It certainly wasn't an anti-tax mood; pocketbook issues passed muster in Taney and Webster counties.
We can tell you that city and county officials did not see this defeat coming. They failed to follow the first rule of politics: keep it simple. Had they gone for a law-enforcement-only tax, it would have passed. Springfield sorely needs a better animal-control department. That issue would have met with voter approval, too.
Earmarking $2.775 million for "a plan to help families connect with classes, services or activities to give their young children the healthiest start" was not smart politics. Outstanding public policy, yes, but outrageously dumb politics.