Saturday, July 19, 2008

John B. the politician

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
by John, (John Marshall, not John B.)

A knock at the door at dinnertime. “Oh, no. What could this person want?” (That’s part of life in the city.)

“Hi. I’m John Bxxxx and I’m running for the State Legislature in this district.” (“Oh… no. Maybe I shouldn’t have answered the door.”)

Within a minute he asked if I had any issues that concerned me. “Well, I have one issue that is concerning me this week, this month…” It was my description of the work our ministry-which-is-the-store has been struggling with to change to the new state law (July 1st) concerning Destination-based Sales Tax collection. Instead of charging sales tax to all WA State customers based on the location of our store we now “get” to collect sales tax based on the location of the buyer. With about 340 different taxing districts in the state it has been a major challenge to create a method to determine the specific taxing district for each customer, charge the correct sale tax, and then report the sales for each taxing district in the state to the Dept. of Revenue each month.

John B. had only vaguely heard about this new taxing structure. I explained it to him briefly. He surprised me with immediately suggesting some legislative measures that could reduce the burden on the smaller businesses like ours.

I was, and continue to be, impressed with John B.’s ability to first, listen to my description, and second, to respond creatively off the top of his head. Both reactions do not fit my preconceived opinions about politicians.

Politics has not been something that I have participated in previously. Actually, I’ve avoided politics, politicking, and politicians throughout my life. This guy, John B., has been on my mind the last few days.

He later invited me to a “small business round table” meeting yesterday. Because of John B.’s first impression I was curious enough to attend. Okay, there were only seven of us who attended the meeting in a small restaurant yesterday morning. I now think, “What can so few people do in such a huge bureaucracy as the state government?” It was interesting being there. I saw a different slice of the world.

I’m not planning to jump in to politics, but it will be interesting to watch John B. and where he and this goes. Yes, I have put one of his signs out by the curb in front of my house. That is more political commitment than is normal for me.

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