Thursday, May 12, 2011

Merchant v. James: Email smackdown

After Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James accused Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Tim Morgan of casting the swing vote for a "tsunami of a tax increase," board member Trent Merchant rallied to his colleague's side with a tidal wave of sarcasm directed at James.

The background: The school board has no taxing authority. It relies on state legislators, county commissioners, the federal government and grantmakers for its $1 billion-plus budget. The board voted 5-4 Tuesday to ask commissioners for an additional $50 million to avert layoffs and program cuts, with Morgan and Merchant on the winning side.

On the county side, James has been a vocal opponent of the additional spending, citing the cost to taxpayers. County officials will take up their budget planning next week.

Merchant not only took issue with James' views on taxes and his description of Morgan's vote, but tackled James on a couple of his perennial issues, race and homosexuality.

"Based on your previous missives," writes Merchant, "I have spent many hours in recent years watching my back, lest African-Americans emerging from the depths of the moral sewer might try to harm me -- and watching my backside when I take my children to local parks, certain that I will accosted by marauding packs of gays."

Here's James' email, followed by Merchant's response:

From: Bill James []
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:44 AM
To: Trent Merchant
Subject: CMS nightmare tax increase
CMS Nightmare tax increase

5-4 school board vote would force tax increases on 144,000 additional Meck citizens
Citizens already receiving tax increase at 'revenue neutral' will be hammered harder

CMS district 6 rep Tim Morgan is swing vote for tax increase
District 6 receives most tax increases of all County Commission districts

For some time, there has been a push to 'leave the tax rate the same' (at 83.87 cents).

Chairman Roberts and other D's have pushed for it but for the most part there has not been any hard evidence of the pain it would inflict on citizens here in Mecklenburg.

Yesterday, at my request from several months back, County staff outlined how many people would be hammered if the tax rate stayed the same (sometimes called 'rate' neutral).

To begin with, even at 'revenue neutral' 157,966 households would have a tax increase ('revenue neutral' is dropping the rate to 78.83 cents). I think that rate is too high and believe we need a 'revenue negative budget'.

As bad as raising taxes on 157,966 households (630,000 people approx), IF the rate stayed the same (at 83.87 cents) an additional 36,128 households (aboutr 144,000 more people) would receive a tax increase.

On top of that, the folks who received a 'moderate' tax increase (if there is such an animal) at 'revenue neutral' would be hammered into Mecklenburg's red clay dirt.

A 5% tax hike would turn into a 27% tax hike. If at revenue neutral your tax hike is already 30%.... well, you can do the math.

It would be brutal. Revenue Neutral is already a brutal tax increase which is why I believe the Commission needs a revenue negative budget to lower the extreme tax increases within that pool of 157,966 households (630,000 people).

I am still waiting on that report to come in.

The school board voted to ask for $50 million with the District 6 Republican Tim Morgan (brother of Charlotte Chamber head honcho Bob Morgan) casting the deciding vote for this tsunami of a tax increase.

I note that in terms of the number households with a tax increase by District the order is (at revenue neutral):

District 6 38,074 REPUBLICAN
District 5 36,599 REPUBLICAN
District 1 34,813 REPUBLICAN

District 2 17,594 DEMOCRAT
District 3 15,909 DEMOCRAT
District 4 14,953 DEMOCRAT

 It makes me wonder why the Republican from District 6 (which already will have the MOST tax increases in the whole county) would vote to make the matter worse for those in his district when almost all of the money raised by giving CMS $50 million more would benefit people in other districts.

 There will be those that say he is looking at the bigger picture or helping out the less fortunate. All good qualities but in the end I think it is because the Chamber wants the increase.

Ultimately, Mecklenburg County citizens can not afford what Tim Morgan, the CMS school board majority and the power elite in Charlotte are dishing out.

If you sit on your hands next week at the public hearing (19th) don't be surprised if your property taxes go up 50%.

The link below is a PDF posted on my web site of the info from the County.
From: Trent Merchant
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 10:38 PM
To:; Tim Morgan
Cc: Eric C. Davis;
Subject: RE: CMS nightmare tax increase

Bill - I want to thank you for your hard work and for yet another installment of your hard-hitting analyses on vital topics via e-blast. And thank you for reminding me to focus on those things that are most dangerous to my quality of life, rather than simply enjoying said quality of life. Based on your previous missives, I have spent many hours in recent years watching my back, lest African-Americans emerging from the depths of the moral sewer might try to harm me - and watching my backside when I take my children to local parks, certain that I will accosted by marauding packs of gays.

Now I realize that our greatest threat has been right under our noses all along - and its name is Tim Morgan. To think that I believed all of his corn-pone talk about fishing, camping, Boy Scouts, his faith, and his children... Morgan the Megalomaniac has deceived us all as he has found a way to single-handedly raise my taxes, despite the fact that the School Board has no taxing authority. How dare he!

My feeble memory of last night's meeting was that, after 7 months of discussion, a majority of the board voted on an initial budget request to reduce overall funding to CMS by about $64 million. And I could have sworn that when he made the budget motion, Tim Morgan specifically called on state legislators to do their part in protecting funding for public education. And I thought that when he called on the county to restore a significant amount of funding, he was thinking about the schools in the district that you share with him - you know the one where class sizes are already large and will get even larger next year - where your constituents will lose 2/3 of the elementary teaching assistants, many of whom have masters degrees, who have all the qualifications to be teachers except for formal certification - and where 1 key staff member will be cut from every school.

But after reading your clarifying missive, I realize that everything was up in the air until Tim cast his dramatic vote. And I see that Tim has been little more than a sinister puppet controlled by elitists like his big brother. How could I have missed all the signs of the intra-family psychological beat-down that has surely been decades in the making? When Bob Morgan went to head the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce some years ago, we should have recognized that he was going big-time on us... why didn't you warn us then, Bill?

Bill - I understand that before becoming a full-time local politician whose livelihood depends on being re-elected every 2 years, you were a CPA with a reputable firm - so maybe you can help me with a potential cash flow problem that I see developing at home. The recent reval increased the tax value of my modest middle class home by 36%. If the County Commission leaves the tax rate the same, I will pay $108.86 more per year in property taxes than I would if you went to a revenue neutral rate - that is more than $9.07 per month! Sir, this is an outrage! How will we make ends meet in my home? I understand that my children and their peers are important, and that strong public schools lead to a more viable workforce, stronger tax base, and lower crime rate over time - but at what cost? Surely not $108.86.

I look forward to your continuing insight on this and related matters. And if you do not have insight to share, I remain confident that you will continue to weigh in on other topics on which you feel the urge to incite and inflame. We are all counting on you.

In humble gratitude,
Trent Merchant
CMS Board of Education, At Large


Ghoul said...

Can you post Trent Merchant's personal email, you conveniently left it off while posting Bill James'. I would like to respond personally to Trent "Gorman's Puppet" Merchant.

komodoman said...

Way to go, Trent! It's always great to see someone stand up to Billy's tyrannical tirades.

The combination of ignorance and arrogance of James is frightening!

Ann Doss Helms said...

Wiley Coyote said...

Hey Trent?

Why is it you and the rest of the BOE didn't question why Gorman still included Bright Beginnings in his request for $50 million?

The man plainly stated the program produces little results for the money and there is no data to support it. He went even further by saying the same thing about the State's black hole, More at Four.

Until you and the rest of the BOE grow some big ones and do what you were ELECTED to do which is run the school system, instead of sloughing your job off onto the BOCC, I would say you have no right to be upset at James about anything.

Wiley Coyote

Anonymous said...

While I certainly don't agree with Bill James' tirades about gays, etc., he is one of the few elected officials who seems to look out for the interests of people who pay taxes on home they occupy and not slum lords whose taxes will decrease on the eye sores they own in East, West and North Charlotte). I honestly believe the majority of elected officials in Charlotte and Meck County think their whole reason for being is so they can dress up in little green suits and pretend to be Robin Hood.

Anonymous said...

You can see why Jennifer Roberts would welcome the idea of wearing a costume--green or otherwise--especially if it included a full face mask.

Anonymous said...

Merchant's witty little comment about how not reducing the tax rate will cost us each $9 more a month sounds a LOT like Parks Helms' witty little comment about how raising taxes is only going to cost us each a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and cup of slaw a month. It's REAL easy to sacrifice other people's money, isn't it, Trent?

PS: His use of the word "corn-pone" confirms that Trent Merchant is an elitist jerk.

part-time teacher said...

Merchant sums up what is wrong with public education with one statement: "where your constituents will lose 2/3 of the elementary teaching assistants, many of whom have masters degrees, who have all the qualifications to be teachers except for formal certification..."

Formal certification is simply a way for educators to protect their turf, both in the teaching ranks and the colleges of education. Merchant also impressed me with his correct usage of 'who' and 'whom,' a grammatical concept which would stump the majority of education majors.

Anonymous said...

Annoy a Republican.
Think for yourself.

Anonymous said...

One jerk going after another jerk.

Anonymous said...

So trent supports aditional taxes to continuing paying phys ed teachers $60, 70 and even $80,000, rather than paying them a fair market rate and saving many other teachers' jobs.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Bill James. How many more millions are we going to throw away trying to educate the blacks? It’s hopeless. Enough is enough.

Ghoul said...


Merchant's school board email is available on the CMS website, but he never responds to anything. You have Bill James' personal email, unless the county now owns Time Warner Cable. What is Merchant's personal email address?

Wiley Coyote said...

Then the question needs to be asked:

Trent? Why hasn't CMS made great strides in the past decade?

And don't hand me that "we have".

When people move to Charlotte specifically because ALL of our schools are great and better than private schools and parents who have their kids in those private schools start putting them BACK into CMS? (Foxx and Cannon, are you listening?)

Call me. I'll congratulate you, the BOE and Gorman on a job well done.

Until then, fix the mess and stop trying to make people believe the constant throwing of money at the problem is going to fix it.

CMS was a mess years ago when you were awash in funds.

Nothing has changed.

Anonymous said...

Why is Merchant of all people on the school board protecting homos in public parks looking for school children or anyone they can find? Sicko.

Anonymous said...

Trent Merchant, you're my hero! Bill James has shown repeatedly he doesn't have the necessary intelligence to understand how things work in the real world of governance, nor the compassion and humility to serve effectively in an elected position. And he's a small-minded, intolerant bigot to boot. How on earth does somebody like him keep getting re-elected? What is wrong with the people in his district?

You've made a lot of smart Mecklenburger's day by pointing out once again what a little troll he is, and how embarrassing it is for the city to see the likes of him continue in office.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Trent sent this email from his CMS account. I'm pretty sure he reads it. If he's not responding to you, it's probably not going to change if you use a different email address. There's also a phone number listed on his profile, if you want to try that:

Ann Doss Helms said...

OK, I don't know what's up with this. The last four letters are aspx; for some reason they show up when I paste it in but not after it posts.

Dennis Peterson said...

My question - who leaked the response to Bill James' email to the CO?

Trent or Jennifer Roberts?

Wiley Coyote said...

It's been messed up all day but seems to be working for me now...

Terry said...

Now I am concerned about Trent Merchant. If he thinks his County taxes would increase only $108.86 per year with a revenue neutral rate when he says his re-eval increased 36%, he is delusional. According to tax records, Merchant paid $1302.50 in 2010 County tax. A 36% increase makes his 2011 tax $1771.40 (for the County tax alone) - a $468.90 increase- $39/month or more than four times what he says. This does not even include the city tax portion. Good to see he’s one of our leaders.

Anonymous said...

Finally common sense!!!!!! Thank you Mr. Merchant for your service to our community. I vote for the idea that Mecklenburg County continues the tradition of hundreds of years of respect for education - first in one room school houses, then in a request to the crown for a college, then in public schools, later in desegregated schools, and even later in pursuit of teaching ALL children using innovation to improve results. Thank you Mr. Merchant and Mr. Morgan - you make me proud to be part of Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Before you praise Merchant, realize that he voted to spend millions on more standardized testing, including classes like weightlifting and chorus. He also allowed Gorman to put the first money from any increase to Bright Beginnings, which is not even in CMS responsibility (10 million!). Bringing back teachers is a lower priority. Trent, 9000 teachers will remember you and Eric (I can't say no to Gorman) Davis come election time. You are done!

Anonymous said...

Surely anonymous 9:48 was being sarcastic.

discreto sex shop said...

For my part every person may read this.