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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fringeville #140 August 26, 2015

Fall 2010: Campaigning with Abe Belles
I am doing something I don't do often. I am blogging while angry. I read a story in the Times Leader today about a 91 year-old man who may lose the house he's lived in for 67 years in a back-tax auction. As soon as I saw the picture of the man featured in the story, my heart sank. Then it broke. It was Abe Belles.

I met Abram Belles years ago when I was still with the 6th District Republican Committee. I took a liking to him immediately. We would see each other a couple of times a year at various political events, and I always enjoyed spending some time talking with him. You don't spend a few moments talking to Abe, you talk a while. And I did so joyfully whenever I saw him.

When I ran for State Representative in 2010, Abe contacted me with a bit of a wild idea. He'd made a sign and mounted it on a trailer. He wanted to pull it all around Plains. But what really excited him was that he'd rigged a patchwork speaker system and strapped it to the roof of his vehicle. We would ride through town with patriotic music blasting while pulling that sign in all its glory all across my town.

Who could say 'no' to that? I agreed, and we spent a Saturday afternoon entertaining folks. I've said more than once that my failed 2010 campaign was almost a religious experience because of the many wonderful things I experienced. This was one of the most cherished memories of that campaign. It's the first thing I thought of when I saw the article today.

And that's when the anger came. In 2010 I attended a meeting for Republican candidates for the State House. Someone in the group started asking questions about property tax reform. He was shut down with this answer:

"There are a bunch of plans for property tax reform. But they're not going anywhere until we Republicans control the Legislature and have the Governor's chair." And the conversation moved on to other matters.

Well, we did that. And here we are in 2015, and our elderly are still getting tossed out of their houses by crushing property taxes. And, pardon the language, that just plain pisses me off.

The current Governor, Tom Wolfe, calls education an investment that might cause some folks to lose homes. Clearly, it will be difficult if not impossible to make headway against someone who feels the investment should fall on some of us, whether we can afford it or not, instead of all of us.

I am angry. I am frustrated. But I am fortunate. I can still pay my property taxes. Our seniors, in many cases, can't. They are living on fixed incomes while their tax bills skyrocket. As a commenter noted at the Times Leader site, they are essentially paying rent to their school districts.

It's been said before: No tax should have the power to make you homeless. But it does, in Pennsylvania. And I don't see that ending any time soon.

A gofundme page to help Abe has been set up by John Daily, owner of Northeast Cleaning Service. If you can spare a few bucks, visit the donation page and help Abe.

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