Horse friendly, but the ruders are not
Hi. Imagine our surprise when turning north from Grapevine to have three horses in our lane of travel. The rude riders just continued like no big deal. When the Sonoran Trail is there for them. They just motioned us around. Two cars were coming from the north. Dangerous at 6 p.m. this time of year.
Be in the moment!
Fear and loathing in Cave Creek
The political landscape has evolved so rapidly and so radically as to make ones head spin. We have a self-absorbed Socialist in the White House, a bi-sexual Marxist representing Arizona in the House of Representatives, a devout La Raza activist as a County Supervisor, a southern Arizona Congressman urging visitors to boycott our state, a sharply divided Cave Creek over out of town lawyers in control of Cave Creek's Town Hall and the federal government will "oversee" our county sheriff. Say what?
My political awakening came in high school, when even the most staunch opposition was honest, principled and fought fairly. Since that time, lies, corruption and deceit have become the coin of the realm. Backroom deals, skirting the law, voter fraud and self aggrandizement are the daily mechanisms of our political process. Our under informed electorate shows no notice; too busy with their Facebook account or Tweeting.
Barrack Hussein Obama has gotten his wish in transforming America; Obama Care was rammed down our throats, we are 17 Trillion dollars in debt with an invisible debt ceiling, the NSA spies on us and our nation a laughing stock around the world.
It is an old saw, but it still sings: "I love my country, but I fear my government." Oh, and I loath what is happening to our once great nation and friendly little town.
Incompetence continues to reign in Town Hall. It is unbelievable that the town would enter into a 10 year contract to share its court without consulting with those who know the system best and without thoroughly understanding the costs and revenues!
The council bobbleheads just entered into a long term agreement with Carefree to share the court and on the surface, it looks mighty like a sweetheart deal for Carefree. This merger agreement may or may not be a good deal for the town, although it never has penciled out in the past and the numbers presented to justify this merger are obviously wrong. Not surprisingly, the person responsible for thoroughly understanding the issue has not a clue – our cracker jack Interim Town Manager who just got a big raise. He simply looked at the projected cost to operate the court in the 2014 budget and said here is about what it costs us with no real understanding of what went into that projection and absolutely no understanding of the revenues. Worse, he never bothered to talk to the Town Magistrate who does understand the court, its costs and revenues! This is not management – it is pure insanity.
Trenk and his bobbleheads continue to demonstrate that they can spend tax money on every whim that comes along if it looks like good press – money, as candidates, they said the town did not have. This court merger sounds good in the press, but may significantly bleed the Cave Creek budget for the next 10 years.
With all the ‘excitement’ in Cave Creek lately one might easily overlook the downward spiral in Carefree. Carefree has money in the bank! Cave Creek is in serious debt. Carefree must be smart, right? Hold that thought. Even though Sales Tax revenue has been weak, certainly far below normal levels, why not spend the money in the bank? Lots of really curious ideas have been discussed so far this year which seem to be favored by the mayor and most of his supporters on the council. Even the purveyor of Carefree Faux-Truth has been furiously waving the flag.
Restaurants in Carefree have been closing up, while other businesses have been using the midnight express to get out. Rents have been unpaid and significant quantities of commercial space remain vacant. Town officials hope that new shading, lights and sound system in the Amphitheater, along with a splash-pad attraction nearby will bring people back to town in droves; at least that is the hope. I don’t recall seeing official estimates of project costs in either COINS or the Carefree Newsletter, although grant applications have been submitted and donors have been sought. Sanderson Lincoln has generously offered $250K ($25K for 10 years) for the shading project, in exchange for naming rights to the amphitheater. On another commercial development note, rumor has it that the ‘Ed Lewis Project’ may be on again. More commercial space? I guess banks are beginning to lend money, even though tenants remain scarce. Perhaps we can convince the Heard Museum to move from its Scottsdale location to the Shadow of the Sundial.
While Carefree savings are flowing, why not spend another $1.5M - $2M for expansion of Town Hall. We’re told that new loan repayments from the Carefree Water Company will help fund that expansion. Folks, since the Water Company doesn’t sell swamp land in Florida where do you suppose it will get the money for repaying $412K a year? You might want to begin curtailing showers now.
So where does the Dumb Tax fit in? A curious item appeared on the Agenda of the recent Carefree Council meeting, relating to a ‘Use Tax’. A not so subtle or surprising item appeared in the COINS summary of that October 1 meeting.
I’ll leave you to ponder this quote from COINS: “Mr. Holler addressed the Town Council concerning the Use Tax in Arizona. Mr. Holler noted that Carefree’s neighboring towns all have a use tax.” [Albert Holler is the Town Sales Tax Auditor]
Scottsdale voters should vote AGAINST all four bond questions and make the City Council go back to the drawing board and do it right.
There are three reasons these bonds should be defeated:
1. It Is a BIG property tax increase during a weak economy. Approving these bonds would result in a 31 percent increase in Scottsdale’s property tax burden over the next four years.
2. While this bond package includes some worthy projects, it also contains many items that the city does not need and certainly should not take on more debt to acquire. Unfortunately, voters cannot approve the good projects and reject the bad. The truly worthy projects are bundled with unworthy ones, forcing voters who want the worthy projects to approve the unworthy ones too! Even worse, there is no guarantee that, if the bonds are approved, the money would be spent in the ways voters were promised. When the bond package was approved by the City Council majority, they added language which gives the City Council and staff the maximum "flexibility" in allocating the bond money. Translation: you may not even get what you voted for! This is a classic example of bureaucratic "bait and switch" and should be rejected.
3. The City is asking you to increase your property taxes to make up for their lack of fiscal discipline. For the last several years we have been balancing the operating budget not by cutting expenses but by cutting contributions to the capital budget.
I am asking Voters to reject these four bond questions and send a strong message to the City Council to resubmit to the voters a leaner bond package that
• Includes only the most vital projects.
• Presents each project separately for individual up-or-down votes.
• Includes language that allows bond money to be spent only in ways specifically approved by the voters.
Rejecting these four bond questions will also send a clear message to the City Council to stop balancing the operating budget by cutting contributions to the capital budget!
For more info go to www.KeepScottsdaleSpecial.org.
Councilman Bob Littlefield
Shortly after midnight, Saturday morning, September 28, the landlord locked out the business owners of our most popular Carefree restaurant. The owners, Bob and Linda, have been in negotiations for months with the new building owner … and reportedly have been paying less rent than is called for. Their new Prescott Station restaurant in Prescott is quite successful, I am told. Maybe they will settle this, or maybe they are now just another of the four restaurants in Carefree to close up in the past two years; (Bad Donkey, Sabas, Dukes and now them?)
In addition, a long time Hair Salon on Easy Street is closing up, too.
“Last one out of town turn off the lights!”
Jim Van Allen
Hey, Scottsdale. Are you ready for your property taxes to go up for the next 20 years? Evidently, the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors thinks that’s a good idea. In a recent Community Voices article by the Realtors Community Affairs Director, former city manager John Little espoused mostly convoluted reasoning for supporting the Scottsdale Bond 2013 Election.
I agreed when he referred to home ownership as a “coveted possession that little piece of the world uniquely ours” and maintaining those “little touches that make it unique to us.” Where I disagreed was his encouraging you to self-impose a new property tax on your “coveted possession” that could make it more difficult to maintain those little touches.
Mr. Little’s support of the Bond should come as no surprise. While serving as city manager for Scottsdale, Mr. Little gave away money to his fellow retirees (more commonly known as Scottsdale’s golden parachute retirements scandal) that could have gone for infrastructure improvements. What does come as a surprise is that Realtors would go along with imposing a new property tax increase on Scottsdale homeowners. I always thought that low property taxes were a plus. This strikes me as biting the hand that feeds you.
Outside of their association leaders, I suspect the average Realtor doesn’t see this move as being in his or her best interest. Obviously, it’s in Mr. Little’s best interest. He is now able to curry favor with the leaders of the Scottsdale Chamber by getting the Realtors Associations Board of Directors under tow. Couple this move with announcing you are thinking about running for city council and voila, you now have a “springboard” from which to launch your council campaign.
I doubt most Realtors would view this as good “community relations.” Hearing all this hyperbole coming from tax and spend bureaucrats is not all that unusual. However, hearing it from your city’s largest trade association is alarming. Spending taxpayers’ money is what bureaucrats do best. Realtors should stick to doing what they do best … selling houses.
I bring this to your attention because once again the politicians and their bureaucratic toadies are not leveling with the voters. When you get your ballot you will see 4 questions with up to 11 projects listed under each question. What you will not see is a disclaimer declaring the city council, at their own discretion, may choose not to fund all the voter- approved projects. They may choose to fund only one project in each of the 4 numbered questions. Oh really?
These types of shenanigans occur when you allow bureaucratic mindsets to set the agenda. I encourage all those who will be voting in the Scottsdale Bond Election 2013 to vote NO on all 4 questions. Send a message to the council: Go back to the drawing board and exclude the “wish list” projects from the 35 on the ballot and place only those 8 projects the bond task force originally deemed as necessary on the new ballot.
Downtown Scottsdale Property Owner
Why is it we never hear any criticism of the Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees of Congress? Are they not responsible to determine if the country has the funding sources in place before they pass a new law? Is not the president supposed to agree with the availability and source of the funds before he signs a new bill into law? So how then do we continually exceed the debt ceiling? Why do we go through the farce of setting a new debt ceiling law if those who have sworn to obey the law completely ignore it year after year … after year … after year … after year? Is it not the height of stupidity to keep doing the same thing over and over again as one continues to get a bad result? Or am I being stupid by continually writing letters to the editor and my representatives and never seeing anything change for the better?
Jack C. McVickers
Generally, the idea of going to college is not to just get a job but to begin a career. School loans are assumed to be worth the investment because of all the businesses waiting to accept entry-level graduates into their companies with open arms offering salaries, health, eye, dental, and Christmas bonuses. Of course, these assumptions were built before the one-two punch of a heavy recession and Obamacare hit America.
As most recent college graduates can tell you: the job market is not so flowery. A recent study out of Rutgers found that from the graduating classes from 2006 to 2011, only 51 percent are employed full-time and a whopping 11 percent are unemployed, a number way above the current 3.8 percent unemployment rate for all college graduates over the age of 25.
Perhaps a bigger problem for new graduates than unemployment is underemployment. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported recently that 44 percent of recent graduates have jobs they would have qualified for before going to college and accumulating student debt.
These figures mean, for students whom take loans, 44 out of 100 graduates will be stuck paying off an average balance of $24,301 without any equity (a graduate-level job and salary) to show for it. According to the Department of Education, within three years of leaving school 14.7 percent of these loans default and for every loan that defaults at least two more borrowers become delinquent.
If large percentages of student loans are defaulting, millions will face crippling credit rating penalties which result in the inability to finance homes, purchase vehicles, and engage in the marketplace. New borrowers need businesses willing and able to invest in college graduates.
The economy and job market's recovery from the 2008 recession has trickled at an agonizingly slow pace – and it may get worse before it gets better.
The president recently gave a one-year exemption to businesses from Obamacare's insurance mandate. But what about next year? In 2014, businesses will be required to participate in hugely expensive insurance programs that will prevent them from committing to as many full-time, entry-level employees.
Obamacare's unintended consequences reach far and wide. Nobody is hit harder by these consequences than the classes of graduates who will enter a post-recession job market that will be worse than before they began school.
Healthcare premiums can't pay student loan debt. Only paychecks can do that. Those who need Obamacare the least will pay the most for it. The cost may be more dramatic and far-reaching than anyone in 2010 may have ever guessed.
Tom Toth, Social Media Director
Americans for Limited Government
The American public has lost patience with Washington. The question is, now what?
Congress is unable to do its job. It displays neither competence nor responsibility, lurching from crisis to crisis. Too many of its members reject the notion that accommodation and time-honored procedures allow them to fulfill their responsibilities to the American people. They use their legislative skill to engage in brinksmanship rather than address the country’s fundamental problems. Economic growth? Creating jobs? Putting the federal budget on a sustainable path? Don’t look to Congress.
We do not have to continue down this road, but we do have to tackle a core problem: the political center in Congress has weakened to the point of ineffectiveness, if not near-irrelevance. Part of the answer lies with the electorate: more people have to turn out to vote. The more people who vote, the better the chances to strengthen the political center – that is, moderates and pragmatists. A healthier Congress rests on expanding efforts to convince people to vote, and beating back the barriers to voting.
The second solution lies with Congress. Contemplating a government shutdown, one congressman recently explained his stance by saying, “All that really matters is what my district wants.” This is not an uncommon view, but it’s distressingly limited. Our system depends on members who believe it’s also their responsibility to lead and inform voters, who are willing to weigh the national interest as well as parochial concerns and who have confidence in our system to resolve political differences.
In other words, we need members of Congress devoted to making the system work, legislators who realize that those who line up on the other side of them feel just as passionately about their positions, respect those differences, and are committed to finding common ground.
We change laws and solve our most difficult issues in this country not by bringing government to a halt, but by fighting out the issues before the voters in an election. At the end of the day, we have to move the country forward – and we need to elect members of Congress who are willing and able to do that.
Lee Hamilton, Director
Center on Congress at Indiana University