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ChatCBT: Goodbye cicadas, hello next pest on the list 

Jodie Jackson Jr

And just like that — they’re gone. The cicadas came and went, but not before many of us were horrified at the sight and sound of gazillions of the buzzing bugs. Pet owners also deluged veterinarians with calls about whether their dogs would survive gorging on the crispy, crunchy sky raisins. 

It’s my understanding that overindulgence on cicadas has about the same effect on dogs as us humans overindulging in, oh, say burgers and brats. (In summary: This too shall pass.) 

I noticed the noiselessness at the exact same moment I saw a Japanese beetle on one of our rose bushes. Except for manually extracting these beetles, or overwhelming them with insecticide, which is an ecological faux pas at best, there’s not much that can be done to keep the invader at bay. I can heartily recommend NOT using those plastic, funnel-shaped traps that you hang from a tree — that is, unless you LOVE Japanese beetles. The trap will attract the beetles from neighborhoods miles away (or so it seems) and you’ll end up with a pungent bag of dead and dying beetles, as well as oodles of beetles that will discover the buffet of your roses and Japanese maples. 

And now it’s on to mid-summer, where life will hopefully slow a bit and we can take stock of our own well-being and manage to do some self-care as we anticipate the next brutal stretch of life: Election Season. I also think of this as Blame Season, as it seems many of us mark our ballots according to whom we blame less. 

This thought was prominent as I assigned and edited recent stories written by new writer Rachael Abney. Her news analysis in our June “Animal” issue dove into the topic of Columbia’s sales taxes — why we have so many, what their purposes are. I hope the sales tax feature also drove home the reality that we vote on most of the sales taxes levied on our purchases. You only have to spend about 0.001 seconds on social media to see someone complain, “They’re taxing us to death!” More recently, I saw a post with a photo of a sharrow painted in the street — that symbol that marks bike lanes — with the question about whether this is a good use of tax dollars. 

I was tempted to ask someone with the COMO public works department to show me how much paint and labor was needed to paint all the sharrows in Columbia. But I’ll let someone else take on that task to facetiously point out to the “good use of tax dollars” question that the expense won’t likely bankrupt the city. 

For this July “City” issue, Rachael also wrote the great analysis and breakdown of the city’s budget process. Sales taxes feed the budget; the budget feeds city operations in all its many forms. It’s certainly not unreasonable to question city spending or taxes, but let’s not forget that those of us who vote do have the ultimate say. After all, we do get what (and who) we vote for.  

Next time you want to criticize local sales taxes, consider your voting record. (Didn’t vote? Oh, sorry, you missed your chance.) It’s only partly true that “they” tax us. The fact is that “we” tax us.  

The “City” issues of COMO Business Times and COMO Magazine are chock-full of great writing. We also welcome newcomers to the freelance roster: my intern McKenna Stumph and local editor Karen Pasley, who contributed as a writer. 

Let me know what you’re reading in our pages, what you’d like to read, and what we can do better. I’m listening. (And reading.). 

Jodie Jackson Jr
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