Opinion » Shredder

Death and taxes


We’re all proud Americans come Fourth of July. Who wouldn’t be proud with a Roman Candle strapped to your back, double-fisting ketchup-slathered weenies?

But come April 15 we’re all a little muted in our patriotism. This great country of ours is bleeding us dry, and who needs paved roads anyway?

The goods news is—if you’re one of those types who goes into hysterics over the idea that everyone’s not paying their fair share—for one more year at least, gay couples will shoulder a larger financial burden than their happily coupled heterosexual counterparts. Because being married—while a major emotional drain, from what I hear—comes with undeniable financial benefits.

But that might all change. As we speak—well, as I lecture and rant and you gratefully imbibe my wisdom—the Supreme Court is hearing arguments over the validity—or astonishing lack thereof—of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, both of which ban gay couples from getting hitched. And in keeping with this country’s grand tradition of mummifying important decisions that affect people’s rights and privileges in red tape, the Supreme Court won’t be issuing a decision until June. Two months after gay couples have already filed taxes separately, spending thousands of dollars more than their straight buddies to pay for the roads, public school systems, and attack drones we all use equally.

Now, with a potential progressive victory so near at hand, you might be asking yourself: What difference does one more year of being disproportionately taxed matter?

You might want to direct that question to the revolutionary fighters we’re all so fond of feting every Fourth of July.

On the subject of backward institutions desperately in need of euthanization, the Morro Bay City Council has finally decided to strap on a pair and address the problem of the Morro Bay Aquarium. Or, as they’re known on their tax forms when they file as a nonprofit, the Morro Bay Marine Rehabilitation Center.

In short, the “rehabilitation” facility’s lease with the city is set to expire in 2018. Rather than continue to play host to an aquarium whose medical care is provided by an Average Joe cat and dog vet, and which was once cited for keeping its harbor seals in a pool of water 19.7 inches deep, the newly elected city council has the option of issuing a demand that the owners of the aquarium renovate their facility to the tune of about $1 million. The city has yet to pull the trigger and actually demand these upgrades, but there have at least been rumblings that they might leverage the aquarium’s desire for a lease renewal with humanitarians’ desire for a marine mammal facility that doesn’t resemble Guantanamo.

Somehow, I don’t think the aquarium’s owners are going to play that game. Not because they don’t love the animals and want the very best for them. I’m sorry, was my use of the word “love” insensitive? I guess I forgot that Taffy, one of the sea lions whose death they wrote off on their taxes, died of “love sick,” according to the form the aquarium filled out.

But surely, a facility that rehabilitates wounded and sick marine mammals deserves the support of the community? Well, if you happen to find a facility that actually does those things, give me a heads up and I’ll make a donation. Because the reality is that only one of the “rehabilitation” center’s sea lions is, in fact, rehabilitated. The rest were born into captivity. And the glum looking fish that stare outside their postage box-sized containers? Purchased at fish markets.

Of course, the advent of tax season will provide critics of the aquarium with an opportunity to address whether the aquarium is still filing as a nonprofit since New Times’ May 24, 2012, article “The Saddest Aquarium Earth” called the facility’s nonprofit status into question.

But if the Morro Bay City Council takes matters into its own hands and refuses to prolong the lease with the aquarium barring a serious renovation, it would be the first City Council in 53 years to recognize the fact that being able to brag that your city has an aquarium shouldn’t be more important than the well-being of animals.

And if they don’t, I might just apply for a position as veterinarian at the Morro Bay Aquarium. A sea lion bit me once, which I’m sure more than qualifies me to provide medical care for their charges.

Shredder doesn’t often believe that things can change, but when they can, you’ll find him/her deep in the trenches. Send verbal grenades to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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