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Saturday, September 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Trio has strange way of showing love for kids

John Beal, Marilyn Montgomery and Duane Alton just love children.

They love them so much, in fact, that they’ve spent thousands of dollars opposing bond measures in districts where they don’t live. They love children so ardently that they can’t stand to see districts do misguided things like fix 30-year-old schools.

They love kids with such devotion that they’ve gone out to gather “FACTS!” about two upcoming bond issues, in Mead and Central Valley, and then gone the extra mile, creatively, in relaying them to the public.

They do care – honest, they do! – about children. And don’t forget grandchildren. Love ’em!

Beal, Montgomery and Alton are Citizens For Responsible Taxation, although everyone knows there is no such thing as responsible taxation.

These three – bolstered with $25,000 in financial juice from Alton, the tire king – have recently mailed fliers opposing a Feb. 8 bond issue in the Mead School District. None of the three live in that district. But they care so very much about children.

They’ve also sent out fliers and placed ads opposing the Central Valley bond issue on the Feb. 8 ballot. Alton actually does have an address in that district, though Beal and Montgomery do not. But hey – the love of children knows no boundaries.

None of these three Citizens would return my calls or e-mails this week. I’m told that none of them showed up at any of the public forums on either proposal. But you can glean a bit about their outlook here and there, if you look.

The group’s website says: “Please be assured that Citizens For Responsible Taxation cares about kids – really! In fact, they are our future, and we exist for our kids, their families and their God given rights to pursue a life of liberty, happiness and a financially secure future. CFRT believes that spending our children’s inheritance now is a major transgression against the long term welfare of the family, our nation, and violates the trust placed in us by previous generations of Americans.”

Yes. Children are our future. And voting to fix a school is a major transgression against the nation’s welfare.

Who are these Citizens? Alton, as you likely know, is the former tire-store magnate and longtime supporter of conservative causes. He used his given name, Elvin, rather than his well-known middle name, in filling out the group’s paperwork – the same name he used in donating $250 to support Joe “You lie!” Wilson in 2009. Beal is a retired Spokane man involved in the Constitution Party who helped the gubernatorial campaign in Alabama of the “10 Commandments” judge, Roy Moore, according to the party’s website. Montgomery once ran for secretary of state on the Constitution Party ticket.

In addition to a deep love of children and a spooktacular view of taxation, the group has been rude and self-righteous when it deigns to answer questions. MaryO E. Fury, a retired educator who lives in the Mead district, e-mailed the Citizens with some questions and got an anonymous reply. The answers she received were snotty in the extreme.

For example, when she wrote that her tax dollars supported the post office the group uses to mail its anti-tax fliers (though the Postal Service isn’t actually funded by taxes), the “CFRT” answered: “Yes and those erectile dysfunction ads your husband and/or your gets too.”

Nice. Though maybe we ought to run a bond issue to teach them how to be jerks grammatically.

The group’s fliers on the Mead bond are riddled with mendacity and misdirection. They claim the bond issue would be a “NEW TAX INCREASE.” In fact, the bond would replace an expiring one, and taxes would stay the same. The flier restates this falsehood a few times, adds further stretchers and salts it all with rhetorical excess of the “taxes are evil” variety. Taxes destroy jobs. Taxes drive people out of their homes.

Except … taxes won’t go up if it passes. And Greater Spokane Incorporated, that notorious pinko front, estimates the bond would provide jobs, not destroy them. And I guess I just haven’t heard all those stories of people losing their homes because their property taxes didn’t go up.

Did I mention that taxes in the Mead district wouldn’t go up?

You can’t say that about Central Valley. It will raise taxes, as part of a plan to spend $69.6 million fixing up schools that haven’t been modernized in decades. The levy will add 65 cents per $1,000 in value to property taxes. That’s $65 a year for a $100,000 home; $130 a year for a $200,000 home.

The Citizens describe that as a “dramatic” tax increase. It ain’t nothing, and times are indeed tough. But the drama in this proposal looks a lot different to the typical taxpayer in Duane Alton’s neighborhood – where the bite would be less than $10 a month – than it does for Mr. Alton himself, who owns spendy property all over the map.

But you know what they say about love – it’s blind. Maybe that explains the factual struggles of these Citizens. They’re blinded by their love of children to such a degree that they simply can’t sit idly by while voters – in any school district, anywhere – ponder the horror of paying taxes. Swords must flash from scabbards.

It couldn’t be that they’re just dim, could it? Just not all that … bright? It seems not. After all, they went to school back in the good old days, when people loved children so much that they let them learn with a piece of coal and a sturdy shovel, and they spent half of every class praying. No one paid any taxes back then, you know. Life was grand.

No, they can’t be stupid. What they probably are is smart. Very, very smart.

And just crazy about those kids.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or
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