Sacrifice, thy name is Ballinger
An open letter to Bob Ballinger:
I hope this letter finds you well. Iíve been a little concerned about you lately, especially after learning that you werenít able to pay your state income tax for 2017, which led the state Department of Finance and Administration to issue a lien against you. Of course, when we talked last week, you said there wasnít supposed to be a lien at all because you were making payments on your tax debt.
Someone clearly made a mistake somewhere ó sort of like that pesky bank did when it kept trying to foreclose on your house in Madison County a few years back. I remember you had a perfectly reasonable explanation ó you were trying to make your payments but the bank wouldnít take your money! Those crazy bankers! I guess the good news there is that the bank finally went ahead and took the house, so you donít have to deal with that headache anymore.
I hope you arenít fretting about how this whole situation might look to the folks who voted you into office ó a state legislator who preaches conservatism and personal responsibility but canít seem to take care of his own finances. On the bright side, even if you canít balance your own personal budget, you do get the opportunity to help decide how to spend the stateís money. You know, all that cash that comes in from folks paying their taxes.
As a citizen, I want you to know how much I appreciate your personal sacrifice. After all, youíre a licensed attorney who could make money hand over fist by doing legal work for folks like Oren Paris and Ecclesia College. Instead, you gave that all up to go to Little Rock and represent us! All for only a little bit more than $41,000 a year! Why, if that were a full-time job that would only be around $20 an hour! What do they think you are, a public school teacher? Or a police officer? Oh, I almost forgot. You do get a little spare change for mileage, per diem and expenses. But only 28 grand for a whole year in 2017? And I guess you do find time to do a little bit of legal work, since your latest Statement of Financial Interest indicates you earned at least $12,500 from the Story Law Firm in 2016. Off the top of my head, Iím coming up with a total income somewhere around $82,500, assuming that the $12,500 is all you earned from the law firm. (I know, I know. It might be much higher, but thereís no way for us to know).
I find it absolutely reprehensible that the state expects you to scrimp by on $82,500 a year and then turn around and hand them $1,700. Donít they understand the sacrifices you are making? And some people are just ridiculous. I even heard one person say you shouldnít be allowed to hold a state office if you havenít paid your taxes. Must have been one of those ungrateful liberals!
When we talked by phone last week, you didnít have much to say about the tax lien. You said you werenít even aware of it. But please donít worry, Bob. Weíre keeping a close eye on things like that for you, and weíll keep you up to speed.
You had a bit more to say in your response to the Madison County paper. You actually sent them an email explaining that you often live from paycheck to paycheck because your ďcalling to an active service in public office does not lend itself to producing a successful income.Ē
I almost teared up just reading that. As a matter of fact, that was my inspiration to write this letter. I had planned to leave well enough alone, but when I read about everything youíve done and the pauper lifestyle you live in the name of public service, I just had to let you know how I really feel.
As a taxpayer and a voter, Bob, I want to let you know that youíve done your part. You have struggled enough on our behalf. I think the time has come for you to do whatís best for yourself and your family. Give up that menial, low-paying job and go back to the private sector where you can make some easy money and maybe even pay your bills. We would miss you terribly, but we would never forget everything you did for us!
P.S. ó I didnít get my Christmas card! Somebody at the post office must have messed up, right? I know it just canít be your fault!
ē ē ē
Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.