When someone invokes “ideology” in their criticism of you, you know that they’ve either run short of actual arguments based on fact, or they don’t know what ideological means.
In its op-ed this Sunday, the Wichita Eagle editorial board blasts the Sedgwick County Commission for cuts to various programs, mentioning “Sedgwick County Zoo, Exploration Place, the Arts Council and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition” specifically.
I might invite the Eagle editorialists to revisit the county’s recommended budget for 2013, prepared under the leadership of then-chairman Tim Norton, the body’s sole Democrat, both then and now. According to county documents, Norton’s recommended budget made these cuts:
Exploration Place: $112,405
Arts Council: $0
So this is not the first time the zoo and Exploration Place have been cut.
Additionally, Norton’s recommended budget cut 113.80 employees from the county payroll. Of these, 60.75 were from the closure of the Judge Riddel Boys Ranch Juvenile Detention Program, leaving 53.05 in cuts from other county programs. The 2016 recommended budget calls for cuts of 10.00 employees.
I wonder: Did the Eagle editorial writers rail against commissioners Norton, Unruh, and Skelton for the cuts in the 2013 recommended budget? Yes, there was criticism of budget cuts then, but no ideological bashing.
This year the Eagle editorial board also criticizes the commission majority for its plan to eliminate routing borrowing for county roads and bridges. Last year the Eagle recommended Wichitans vote in favor of a sales tax. One of its components, viewed favorably by the city and the Eagle, was the avoidance of borrowing for a large public works project.
But now that conservatives on the county commission propose avoiding debt — some debt, not all debt — the Eagle is opposed.
The shifting sands underlying the Eagle editorial board’s criticism is evidence of an ideology, and a rather shallow one. Cuts made by conservatives? Bad. There will be damage, says the headline.
Much larger cuts made by progressives? The editorial board acknowledges “the county needs to tighten its belt and prioritize its services.”
That’s quite a contrast.