We have another good name for a rock band

CODA

GREG BEAN

I don’t know why Dave Barry decided to quit writing his weekly column for the Miami Herald in 2005, but that was a dark day for readers and jealous newspaper columnists everywhere.

 

Barry was one of the greats, right up there with Mike Royko, and reading his column made me laugh so hard food came out of my nose if I happened to be eating at the time. He went out at the top of his game, and you’ve got to respect that, but I’ve missed him. He still has a blog site, but it just isn’t the same.

Barry saw the humor in everyday things, and could turn a small-town newspaper story about mutant frogs or weird insects (sent in by an “alert reader”) into a comedic riff that would have me cackling all day. And one of his favorite gags was to suggest that something he was writing about “would be a good name for a rock band.”

The Cotton Eating Moths of Australia, for example, might be a good name for a rock band, as might The Fabulous Snake Doots, The Flaming Salmonella Units or the Decomposing Tubers. You can find a whole list of potentially good names for rock bands online, and if you’re ever a little down in the dumps and need something to put a smile on your face, you can’t go wrong by typing in the site where they’re located:www.davebarry.com/rockbandlist. html.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

But since Dave’s not around to keep that list updated, some of his fans will just have to take up some of the slack.

Did you follow the recent story about the 54-year-old masseuse who claimed Al Gore groped her in a hotel room? She apparently tried to peddle her “story” for up to a million dollars for three years, but when that failed, she went to the police and filed an official complaint. You can find her entire 73-page statement online, and it is a truly bizarre and entertaining document wherein she says she told the rotund former V.P. things like “Get off me, you big lummox!” and informed him he was acting like a “crazed sex poodle.”

Come on, that’s funny! And you know what? The Crazed Sex Poodles would make a good name for a rock band. Almost as good as the Hearty Polyp Chuckles or Weasel Feet.

• • •

I got a press release last week from the New Jersey Education Association, which has done so much to disgrace itself and actually harm its members in the last few months — including its internal “joke” memo that wished Gov. Chris Christie dead — that it has gone from being hero to villain in the eyes of most taxpayers.

It’s no surprise that the NJEA has in its crosshairs Christie’s proposal to put a constitutional amendment before voters this November that would limit property tax increases to 2.5 percent a year.

The fact is that almost no public employee wants an amendment like that passed, from teachers to cops to accountants, because it would mean that things like raises, and pension plans, and contributions to health care plans, would more closely mimic what those taxpayers working in the private sector can expect.

And groups like the NJEA and the Police Benevolent Association are already getting desperate — in large part because Christie’s plan would also include collective bargaining reforms. Few of our legislators want it, because would take the control of our money away from them. They recently proposed a legislated cap of 2.9 percent to derail Christie’s plan, but doesn’t look like that has legs.

The NJEA’s solution is increased state aid to limit the local property tax burden. It fails to mention, of course, that taxpayers would have to pay for that increased state aid, but why quibble over details?

In addition to the usual scare tactic that a 2.5 percent cap would gut education, the NJEA took aim in its misleading and inaccurate press release at Christie’s comparison of New Jersey to Massachusetts, which passed a similar cap in the mid-’80s. According to the NJEA, comparing New Jersey to Massachusetts is apples and oranges because the lobbying group says the Bay State’s “white hot” economy and technology boom brought enough revenue to offset the reduced tax collections.

I was in Massachusetts in the mid-’80s when a firebrand activist named Barbara Anderson and her group, Citizens for Limited Taxation, forced a 2.5 percent cap amendment onto the ballot and got it passed by voters.

And I can tell you that the NJEA hasn’t got it quite right when it talks about that white-hot economy. By the time the amendment went before voters, the economy had already cooled off considerably and most voters in “Taxachusetts” had simply had enough. In spite of the scare tactics from those with vested interests, like we’re currently seeing in New Jersey, the amendment passed by a comfortable margin.

Sure, there were painful times as schools and municipalities grappled to deal with reduced finances, but the state eventually sorted it out and is doing pretty well these days, thank you.

In the intervening years, Massachusetts went from having the third highest local tax burden in the nation to 33rd, so you can bet nobody up there is talking about changing that amendment.

In New Jersey, we’ve got the highest local property tax burden in the nation, and people are fed up. And if this amendment is put in voters’ hands this November, it will pass by a landslide.

And, yes, there will be some painful times, but we’ll get it sorted out. We’re just as smart as those folks in Massachusetts.

Until then, remember this: When groups like the NJEA say this tax-cap amendment is bad for you, consider the source.

They’re the NJEA, and they’re not here to help (anyone but themselves).

• • •

I put three eggs on to boil when I was writing this column and forgot about them. Who knew that eggs could actually explode?

The Exploding Eggs. What a great name for a rock band!

Gregory Bean is the former executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at gbean@gmnews.com.