This is just creepy. Boneheaded too.
Gilbert is a suburb southeast of Phoenix—once a sleepy ranching community that's exploded into a sea of red tile roofs and shopping malls. It's a conservative hamlet, where the GOP and Mormonism are mainstays, so if you're going to run for city government or the legislature, it helps to be both. Jared Taylor, 39, is both, a Republican and Mormon, and last November the newbie to political office upset the town's vice mayor to become a Gilbert city councilman.
Taylor ran a conservative campaign, with endorsements from the local tea party, religious right, and other wingnut groups. If you read through the questionnaire Taylor completed for the Arizona Republic during the campaign, you get the picture. He opposes federal funding for alternative energy, arguing that it should be left to the private sector. He regurgitates the "low tax, no regulations" GOP motto. He believes the city should eliminate funding for all nonprofit groups, like the arts and social services. Taylor's very proud that he championed "Constitution Week" and the "Arizona Celebration of Freedom." I imagine the Second Amendment, pointy hats, out-of-context Tom Paine, and fighting presidential tyranny loomed large in both celebrations.
So immediately upon taking the oath Jared Taylor went to work, distributing a survey to city staff that asked them about their political beliefs.
Taylor's questionnaire asked town employees to list their name, department, education and professional background before delving into their philosophies on government, citizen rights and the U.S. Constitution.Evidently his draft survey was even more prying, because the Arizona Republic article says the town's human resources department removed some of Taylor's original questions that they deemed inappropriate. Maybe he asked employees how many guns they owned, or whether they thought masturbation is a sin. I'll bet there was a question about church and state, because Taylor doesn't see a wall there.
"What do you believe is the role of government?" the document asked. "When was the last time you had a meaningful study of the U.S. Constitution?"
One question asked employees to describe what they do each day to protect the rights of Gilbert residents.
Had I received his questionnaire, and I felt secure in my job, I'd be tempted to point out to the new councilman that, although the US Constitution does not mention a right of privacy explicitly, the courts have held that this right is implied in several of the amendments, so you, Mr. Taylor, can shove your survey. That's the high regard in which I hold the US Constitution, sir.
It's clear what's going on here—it's a litmus test of sorts. Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson was gobsmacked when told of the councilman's questionnaire:
"I think he's not really looking for someone who cares about the Constitution but rather his version of what it means and what it's supposed to do."We know something about Mr. Taylor's "version" of the Constitution from his public events like the "Arizona Celebration of Freedom," as well as his own job. Taylor is business manager for the Heritage Academy, a Christian charter school that champions dead white man history. Taylor himself, who has an MBA, teaches "Government and the Constitution." That's one cool thing about Arizona's charter schools—a guy with a business degree can teach history and political science! No doubt he gets his learnin' from Glenn Beck's favorite historian, David Barton.
Understandably, after staff received the questionnaire it created a bit of a dust-up among city employees and Gilbert citizens, but Taylor said
he was only trying to build a "catalog of resources" and reduce the learning curve as a newly elected leader.He's trying to build a catalog, all right. Some people call it a shit list. If an administrator wrote something like, "The rights embedded in the US Constitution should extend to all Americans, including the LGBT community," we know exactly where that employee is going to find himself in Taylor's "catalog." And it won't be at the top of any list. On the other hand, if an employee said on her days off she protests at Planned Parenthood, protecting the rights of the unborn, she's got a friend on the town council.
The fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, and other Big Issues get most of the print and pixels, but the shit happening at the local level, from states trying to usurp the electoral process, to school board coups, to the intimidating crap Jared Taylor is doing needs a brighter light shown upon it. Here's hoping that at the next city council meeting a Gilbert citizen calls out Taylor for his invasive and counterproductive actions—you know, give Mr. Constitutional Scholar a lesson in constitutional rights.