This Student Is the Only Person Eligible to Vote on Proposed Tax Increase. She's Leaning 'No.'

Democracy for the win.



Surely, this is the best thing to ever come of democracy: the city government of Columbia, Missouri, tried to subvert the democratic process by creating a new district where no one was registered to vote and the decision to implement a much-desired sales tax would default to property owners with a financial incentive to see it approved.

But the local officials working hard to make sure the city got its new tax have encountered a major problem: due to a loophole, a single resident is registered to vote in the new district. She's a University of Missouri college student, and she's skeptical that the tax is a good idea.

From the Columbia Daily Tribune:

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district. …

The CID planned to hold an August election to enact a half-cent sales tax, projected to bring in about $220,000 of additional revenue for capital improvement projects. CID Executive Director Carrie Gartner said when CID officials contacted the Boone County Clerk's Office about holding the election, they found out Henderson registered to vote with her Business Loop address in February.

For more than a year and a half, as property owners in the "Loop" area worked to get the CID and tax increases established, they banked on that sales tax vote being their own.

When asked if the CID would be financially viable without the sales tax increase, Gartner said "no."

Gertner asked Henderson to forfeit her vote, which didn't sit right with the 23-year-old student. Now she's skeptical of the entire plan to hit low-income people with a sales tax just to benefit local businesses (and boost Gertner's salary):

The more she researched the situation, Henderson said, things "just didn't seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first."

Gartner "tried to get me to unregister, and that's pretty manipulative," Henderson said. "The district plan and the district border is manipulative, too."…

Henderson said she doesn't plan to give up her right to vote and feels negative about an increased sales tax — but has not made a decision about how to vote. Henderson said her concerns include vague project outlines, Gartner's pay, Business Loop improvements she said will help businesses but not nearby residents and how an additional sales tax would affect low-income people purchasing groceries and other necessities.

"Taxing their food is kind of sad, especially when" Gartner "is going to be making like $70,000 a year off of this whole deal," Henderson said. "These people make a quarter of that. They can barely afford to go buy food, and you're taxing their food."

I think even a principled anarchist could justify voting if he or she was in Henderson's shoes.

NEXT: Street Solicitation

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  1. Sounds like a certain college student is about to be made a felon.

    1. Or disappeared.

        1. If I was her, I might be open to bribe. Due to the level of assholery involved in all of this – it would have to be a fairly substantial pile of cash.

          1. You realize that if she votes ‘no’, they’ll just hold a special election later with several newly minted sympathetic voters, and voila, tax increase passed.

            The only good part of this is we get to see how creative the district will get to maintain its ongoing criminal enterprise.

          2. Not sure what local laws are, but she might be opening herself up to criminal charges, and I guaran-fucking-tee you that she’d be arrested and detained with that timed to prevent her from voting.

        2. “feels negative about an increased sales tax ? but has not made a decision about how to vote.”

          Let the bidding begin at…

  2. The one time an individual vote will actually count for something.

  3. After all the attempts at manipulation, how could she not vote no? You have to vote no on principle at this point.

    1. Exactly. When an entire district apparatus is ‘pressuring’ you to vote ‘yes’ on something that is nakedly corrupt, weighing the benefit of the tax is a waste of time. The default answer is “no”.

      1. For a lot of people the default position would be “what’s it worth to you?”

        1. Works for the politicians. Why shouldn’t a civilian get in on the racket?

          1. Especially with that one employee, Gartner, getting a $70K salary out of the $220K expected revenue from the sales tax increase.

  4. Democracy: The Will of the People Person

  5. Democracy at its finest. One vote makes all the difference – and it’s going to be decided by a person whose main criteria for weighing her vote is whether or not the thing being voted on is ‘a good thing’ rather than whether or not it’s anything the government should be doing in the first place. If you can’t look at how they manipulated the outcome and just say “fuck it, I don’t care if the money is to buy a bucket of water for a starving homeless crippled orphan with his head on fire, these shitweasels ain’t getting a nickel” you need to smacked upside the head. If the business owners want some money for improving things in their district premised on the idea that improving things will bring them more money then they are perfectly free to just pass the collection plate amongst themselves. (If they then use the money they collect to hire a goon to go rob people and bring back their wallets and their watches, how the hell would that be any different than what they’re doing now?)

    1. Give her a break. She’s a 23 year-old college student. Considering her age and what she has been taught in her primary and secondary education, where do you think she my have been exposed to the political philosophy underpinning the concept of limited government? Perhaps you should track her down and send her some Bastiat instead of castigating her for her ignorance of concepts that we take for granted.

      1. You’re both right. She’s incredibly naive to be “weighing” the benefits of something that is coming from a nakedly corrupt process.

        But at 23, she’s taking her ‘civic duty’ responsibly, and giving ‘thoughtful’ answers to the NPR reporters. She lacks the wisdom and experience to realize that the PROCESS is the problem, not the particular benefits of the tax.

        Hopefully this story will be revisited for the nutpunch.

        1. No, I think she’s just making coy, nearly sarcastic, at least satiric statements.

  6. Lucky us, Carrie has a website:

    1. Huh, she’s never had a real job.

    2. Best talent: Analyzing a complex issue and communicating it to the public.

      Worst talent: Getting Henderson to forfeit her vote.

      1. Favorite quote
        “There’s no reason this can’t be fun.”

        Doesn’t Warty say that to his “guests”?

        1. “There’s no reason this can’t be fun.”

          Said the concentration camp guard to the jew…

    3. There IS a contact form on that website…and it requires no validation of a working email. WOnder if she’s gotten any fun email recently?

  7. Is it just the early morning drowsiness or is the grammar for the title of this article messed up?

    1. Either the coffee woke me up and I was seeing things, or Rico fixed the headline. I’ll be waiting for that royalty check sir.

      /don’t hate

  8. Reminds me of a town not too far from where I live that makes the news all the time when it has elections. The town has close to five thousand people in it, yet only three hundred or so vote. Only they always vote to increase taxes and increase budgets. I hate driving through that town because it is swarming with cops. I guess that’s how the people like it. Or at least the six percent or so who vote.

    1. Bring back robber buttons

      1. “Percy! It looks like you swallowed a plate.”

  9. How unfair, that one selfish citizen stands in the way of the glorious wheels of progress. Can’t she see that society just wants to improve things? It’s in the name right there: the COMMUNITY improvement district, not just the Jen Henderson district. Besides, she only has a right to a voice because the community/society gives her one.

  10. B:Dunny-on-the-Wold is a tuppenny-
    ha’penny place. Half an acre of sodden marshland in the Suffolk Fens
    with an empty town hall on it. Population: three rather mangy cows, a
    dachshund named `Colin’, and a small hen in its late forties.

    G:So, no people at all, then? apart from Colin…

    B:Colin is a dog, sir.

    G:Well, yes, yes, yes…

    B:Only one actual person lives there, and he is the voter.

    G:Well, right! So, what’s the plan?

    B:We must buy Dunny-on-the-Wold at once and thus control the voter. I shall
    need a thousand pounds.

    G:A thousand pounds? I thought you said it was a…`tuppenny ha’penny’ place.

    B:Well, yes, sir, the land will cost tuppence-ha’penny, but there are
    many other factors to be considered: (stamp?) duty, window tax, swamp
    insurance, hen food, dog biscuits, cow (ointment?) — the expenses are

    1. And what was the chicken inpersonation in aid of?

  11. Imagine, a voter considering the unforseen consequences of a government tax ploy.

    Go Jen!!

  12. As a matter of principle I vote no on all bond issues. They always pass.

    1. Clarification: they always pass, eventually.

      1. No, they always pass. Maine voters have never met a bond that they didn’t like.

  13. Peter Gibbons: [Explaining the plan] Alright so when the sub routine compounds the interest is uses all these extra decimal places that just get rounded off. So we simplified the whole thing, we rounded them all down, drop the remainder into an account we opened.
    Joanna: [Confused] So you’re stealing?
    Peter Gibbons: Ah no, you don’t understand. It’s very complicated. It’s uh it’s aggregate, so I’m talking about fractions of a penny here. And over time they add up to a lot.
    Joanna: Oh okay. So you’re gonna be making a lot of money, right?
    Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
    Joanna: Right. It’s not yours?
    Peter Gibbons: Well it becomes ours.
    Joanna: How is that not stealing?
    Peter Gibbons: [pauses] I don’t think I’m explaining this very well.
    Joanna: Okay.
    Peter Gibbons: Um… the 7-11. You take a penny from the tray, right?
    Joanna: From the cripple children?
    Peter Gibbons: No that’s the jar. I’m talking about the tray. You know the pennies that are for everybody?
    Joanna: Oh for everybody. Okay.
    Peter Gibbons: Well those are whole pennies, right? I’m just talking about fractions of a penny here. But we do it from a much bigger tray and we do it a couple a million times.

    1. Peter Gibbons: What would you do if you had a million dollars?
      Lawrence: I’ll tell you what I’d do, man: two chicks at the same time, man.

    2. Watch out for your cornhole, bud

    3. Wasn’t there another movie used that idea? One of the Superman films?

  14. This is actually an After School Special? on ABCFamily, right? RIGHT??!!

    1. No, it was the alternate plot for ‘True Detective’ that got dropped for some total shite.
      Jen has to kill a gangster and run for the border.
      Robber Barons win again.

  15. So I’ve actually RFA and I’m having trouble understanding what the business owners’ problem is. It seems that they have created a business association that want’s to levy a .5% sales tax through government action with the purpose of making public improvements and paying the salary of the association’s director. Couldn’t the business owners simply decide to contribute .5% of their sales to the association, raising their prices to cover this expense (if necessary) and accomplish the exact same thing without the referendum kerfuffle? I don’t know of any municipality that would not accept private funds for public improvements that would directly benefit those who supply the funds. There is a simple libertarian solution to this problem that eliminates the need for a government imposed sales tax. This whole issue seems stupid. They created this government structure to provide the framework of their business association for no apparent benefit. What am I missing?

    1. That the framework once in place can then be easily inflated. .5% this year, costs (them) nothing to become .75% next year. etc. All this while obfuscating what the director is getting paid.

      1. Obfuscation would be much easier if it is hidden in the sales price rather than itemized as a sales tax. Either way, the customers pay the vig.

    2. There’s no way to stop a competitor from moving into the district who doesn’t contribute the 0.5% without the help of the government.

    3. You’re missing the fact that the business owners are not unanimously in favor. 51% or more would like to squeeze the tax out of the remaining 49% or less.


    I hope she votes NO with a flourish.

  17. Government is the things Jen Henderson does together.

    Democracy is one Jen Henderson deciding what to have for lunch.

    Jen Henderson must be the change Carrie Gartner wishes to see in the world.

  18. Is it still a secret ballot if you’re the only voter?

    Damnit, the last thing the city council needs is democracy ruining their governance.

  19. Hoing about to deliberately create a rotten borough, that takes some chutzpah. It should get everyone involved with this put up against a wall, but is impressively brazen.

    1. I don’t see why they can’t just redraw the map to exclude her residence.

      1. I’m certain that they will…next time. For now, they’re stuck.

    1. Ugh, I never watched that movie. I could tell from the trailers that it was insufferabley preacher and annoying.

  20. The more she researched the situation, Henderson said, things “just didn’t seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first.”

    That’s called “politics”. Sounds like an important lesson Ms Henderson should probably keep in mind going forward.

    “Taxing their food is kind of sad, especially when” Gartner “is going to be making like $70,000 a year off of this whole deal,” Henderson said.

    I thought food was exempt from sales taxes in most places with the exception of things like soda, candy, etc.? Also, based on this quote I’m assuming she’d be fine with the tax increase if it was for an affluent part of town.

    1. I can remember when sales tax didn’t exempt food & drugs. You know, there’s a libertarian victory I might’ve forgotten to list in one of those arguments about how trends are.

    2. State of Missouri doesn’t exclude food or non-prescription pharmaceuticals from sales tax. The state also has recently got a great financial rating from whatever body rates such things. Whether there is some correlation is for other minds to decide.

  21. Wasn’t there a terrible movie about this? Starring…I wanna say…Kevin Costner?

    1. Oh shit, Julio beat me to it. I’m pleased as pie that I remembered whose piece of shit movie that was.

  22. vote tampering? intimidation of a voter? there’s gotta be a crime in there somewhere.

  23. They won’t even be able to use eminent domain to get rid of her.

    The property where she lives is the is the Ernest and Eugenia Wyatt Guest House on the University of Missouri North campus, so it already belongs to the state. The Wyatt Guest House is a place where patients at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center can stay while receiving treatment. The student works as an overnight attendant and the university provides her with an apartment in the building. It seems the conspirators who tried to pull this off were unaware that someone lived in the building full time.

    Maybe they can use other tried and true methods, like moving the polling place to a hard to find location at the last minute, having her arrested on a trumped up charge on election day, or turning her away because she doesn’t have the proper ID.

  24. Maybe there will have to be a recount if the results are too close to call the election.
    On the other hand since in this country we have a secret ballot and electors do not have to tell anyone how they vote the authorities could refuse to reveal the results of the polling.

  25. I live in Columbia, and have been following this closely. This was a shady deal from the beginning, with a carefully gerrymandered district that was drawn to specifically exclude residents and residential areas. The map of the district could be used as an illustration about gerrymandering.

    What no one mentioned is that the CID cannot afford it’s director’s salary of $70,000 per year without the sales tax. This is nothing but a money grab by the director of the district, designed to line her pockets.

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