Fitz column mug

David Fitzsimmons, Tucson’s most beloved ink-stained wretch.

A petition passer knocked on my screen door this week. He was a geezer. He was nearly my age. My fellow fossil squinted through the screen. “Excuse me, sir. Are you registered to vote in Pima County?”

“Don’t blame the roads on me. I voted for the bond! Are you registered to vote in Pima County?”

This Tucson version of Gabby Hayes slapped his knees and chortled. “That’s not what this is about, sir.” He attempted to fish his clipboard and pen through my screen door opening. ”I have an initiative here exempting Arizona’s seniors from paying property taxes.”

My teenager, passing behind me on his way to raid our kitchen like a ravenous Mount Lemmon bear, shouted, “Yo. I’m a senior, dude. That dudes’s idea sounds flippin’ awesome, bro.”

“Wrong age, son. Stay out of my kale chips.”

“No worries, bro.”

The interloper on my porch persisted. “So …I was wondering if you’d care to sign my petition to get this on the ballot?”

I thought, “Great. First, our governor gives away huge tax breaks to the fat-cat corporations, then the Realtors demand special exemption from taxes, and get it, and now my peeps, the aging boomers, want to be exempt from paying the price of admission to Arizona. Who’s next? Taxpayers with magenta eyes and six fingers who don’t want to pay the same sales tax we all pay?”

I smiled at Yoda With a Clipboard. “The local property taxes we pay help fund our public schools. Like the awesome one down the street.”

“Whatever.”

That did it. “Is that your Cutlass Supreme parked up the street over there? The one with the bumper sticker on it that reads “ASK ME ABOUT MY GRANDKIDS. YOURS CAN GO SUCK LEMONS”?

He was pleased with his shrewd humor. “Yup. A hoot, right?” And then he went right back at it. “Most seniors live on fixed incomes and—”

“I know. I get it. But you want to pay no property taxes once you hit 65? Who doesn’t? Tell that to a millennial paying taxes and holding down three jobs.”

Gabby Hayes, the petitioner, smiled and poked my screen door with his gnarly digit. “That’s right, Sonny. Not one thin dime.”

As he described the “benefits” of this initiative to the seniors of Arizona, and no one else west of the Pecos, it struck me that he looked familiar. “I could swear you’re the same geezer that was grousing about all the freeloaders living on the government dole last year on the local news. That was you wasn’t it?”

“I don’t know about that. Are you going to sign my petition?”

“How about a compromise? How about a tiered tax system tied to income? Or-”

“Nope. No compromises. We are done paying taxes.”

“You mean you’re done paying your fair share? Wow. The Greatest Generation is looking down on us aging baby boomers and wondering what they sacrificed their blood, sweat and limbs for. Apparently it’s so you could weasel your way out of paying for our roads and schools?”

“Are you going to sign or not?”

“I’ll pass.”

He looked at me like I had just passed on a winning lottery ticket. I told him I appreciated his civic spirit and that I had a petition of my own that I’d like him to examine and sign. “It’s my ballot initiative to exempt blue-eyed Irish-American cartoonists from paying any state taxes. Care to sign it?”

He scowled, thanked me for my time and as he headed back down my driveway, I heard the geezer grumbling. “Some people never met a tax they didn’t like.”

Whatever. I’m a geezer who believes in public education and paying my fair share. Get off my lawn.

David Fitzsimmons: tooner@tucson.com