February 12, 1999


Talking to the Wrong People

By Daniel H. Muñoz, Jr.

It was Wednesday afternoon and television station KFMB was interviewing La Prensa San Diego senior editor Daniel L. Muñoz on the pros and cons of Proposition L, the sales tax increase to fund public libraries. As this scene was described, the reporter asked the question, why are you opposing Prop L when so many leaders are supporting the proposition? I was thinking, you know this reporter is talking to the wrong people!

The interview was being shot in front of the Barrio Logan public library, in a neighborhood where a 5 percent sales tax will have an impact. In his question, the reporter was referring to high profile supporters, including the Chamber of Commerce, politicians, who see opposing libraries akin to opposing milk and apple pie (unless of course you are a lame duck politician, who has her own personal agenda), and Hispanics who don't want to appear out of step with the power structure.

The reporter and his cameraman should have walked across the street and gone into the barrio and asked the mother, who every week makes her grocery list, looks into her purse knowing that the budget is tight and she won't be able to afford everything on her list, what a 5 percent sales tax increase would mean?

The reporter could have walked into a house where at night the temperatures dip into the 40s and the kids have to huddle together under a mountain of blankets because the family can't afford to turn the heater on. The reporter could have asked them what a 5 percent sales tax increase would mean to them?

Or, the reporter could have gone to a senior citizen center and talk to the retired person who is living on a fixed income and asked them how they feel about a 5 percent sales tax increase! Or to the home where the head of the family is laid off. The homeless family that is trying as hard as hell to climb out of poverty. The reporter could have, should have gone to them and asked them what a 5 percent sales tax increase means!

You see, the reports and stories we've been exposed to about prop. L, are from the perspective of individuals who have no problem with respect to a 5 percent sales tax increase. These are individuals who are captains of industry, individuals who make in excess of 60, 80, 100 thousand dollars per year. These are not individuals who have to fill out forms so that their children receive a free lunch at school.

It is these people, the middle class people who will carry the burden of the tax increase that the television reporter and camera crew should be interviewing! But reality is kind of harsh and tends to interfer with a feelgood story.

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