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Monday, Feb. 5, 2007 | According to some people, the way out of our economic dilemma is to raise taxes. The thing that the tax-first proponents have in common is their conflict of interest: they are current or past government employees, officeholders, or contractors/developers living off the commonweal. I would gladly pay more taxes if I could see some movement on the part of the city to remediate the distorted budget priorities. Instead, we see threats to curtail recreation programs but continuing subsidies to economic development, tourism and convention activities, arts and culture, and other “nice-to-have” items. When it comes to budget priorities, the only thing you can trust is direct democracy; i.e., give the citizens the choice between, say, keeping swimming pools open and giving subsidies to, say, the convention center.