Carefree’s future matters
Friends of Carefree, prior to the full council meeting on May 5, we’d like to give you an update on the final two budget workshops that were held on April 15 & 21 as well as the ADOT Bike Lane project.
The first draft of the line item budget was presented by Jim Keen on April 15. The council discussed details, asked questions, and then agreed to meet again on the 21st to review changes/corrections to that draft. The second version, which was reviewed during the workshop on April 21, will move forward for public discussion at the May council meeting. Highlights include:
• Revenue from all sources is currently budgeted at $7.068M, with Expenses projected in an equal amount;
• Sales tax income of $1.867M is actually a decrease from the present year forecast of $2.058M, and only slightly higher than the approved FY14-15 figure of $1.853M. There are also some minor changes, up or down, in other State shared income categories; Bottom line to bottom line, the proposed budget for next fiscal year is approximately $250K higher than the approved current fiscal year budget (after adjustment for un-realized income). However it will be $1.523M higher than current year actual, primarily due to potential capital improvement projects;
The council acknowledged that the $1.5M allocated for the capital improvement projects under consideration is essentially a place-holder for specific expenditures which will be discussed and voted on in public meetings during the next fiscal year.
The budget can be a complex organism which must anticipate all expenses in a given fiscal year. By Arizona statute, once the bottom line dollar amount of the budget is approved by the council (in May I believe) it cannot change. Money can move from category to category but the bottom line cannot be exceeded. The final budget will be adopted at the June council meeting.
Joint Cave Creek/Carefree/ADOT Bike Lane Project Update - once the final (100 percent) engineering specifications are received, contract bidding will commence. Construction is now expected to begin early August. A copy of the presentation to the Town Council on March 3rd is posted in our Archives. You should take a look, as the project will impact you during construction this summer through December/January, and then going forward. Many residents still remain unaware of specific details.
Questions and issues posed by Jim Van Allen [JVA] at the April 21 budget workshop generated different responses than previously stated in public sessions. We were now told that traffic lanes would remain essentially unaltered and there would be minimal changes to medians in a few limited areas. However, review of the 95 percent complete engineering specifications by JVA on April 23 told a different story. At least 50 percent of the medians will be affected [narrowed] to some extent. In several places the medians will be eliminated altogether. While Cave Creek is salvaging many dozens of native plants, Carefree is saving none. At present there is no separate budget line item to buy any replacement vegetation for medians.
It appeared that traffic lanes would remain at their current width, which varies along Tom Darlington. In conjunction with median reductions, additional pavement will be added along the current Town right-of-ways (shoulders) in order to accommodate the 5 foot bike lanes. Unfortunately that additional pavement will leave little to no room for an adequate shoulder, in the event motorists experience an emergency or have the need to pull off to make phone calls or send text messages [as future AZ laws may require].
JVA pointed out that a potential public safety hazard will exist where the southbound bike lane along Tom Darlington will abruptly end between Meander Way and Leisure Lane. At that point Scottsdale becomes responsible for the roadway and they have no current plan to continue the bike lane for the short distance south to Carefree Highway. JVA suggested that Carefree staff contact their counterparts in Scottsdale to discuss a remedy. Where the bike lane is planned to end in Carefree, with nowhere else to go, it will be very dangerous for cyclists to suddenly be dumped into a traffic lane for the remaining half mile to Carefree Highway. There are no bike lanes south of Carefree Highway until the Summit Shopping area.
Paul Basha, the Town's former traffic engineering and transportation consultant with nearly 40 years of experience, is now Transportation Director for the City of Scottsdale. His prior relationship with, and fondness for, the Town of Carefree would seem to suggest a level of receptiveness for a reasonable solution to this potential public safety issue. As of Paul's most recent traffic study in Carefree, 7,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection of Tom Darlington and Cave Creek Road and another 15,000 vehicles a day use the intersection at Tom Darlington and Carefree Highway. No matter how you look at this, it's clear that safety concerns are well founded.
Don’t forget to visit CarefreesFutureMatters.com
Respectfully submitted by Jim Van Allen and John Traynor
A key to happiness
Americans hoard too much stuff. Everywhere I go in small or large towns I see storage facilities being built. Americans have "stuff" and we need more storage space. We spend most of our lives wanting stuff and then we have to worry about keeping or maintaining what we have accumulated.
My wife and I cleaned out a bedroom closet recently. I looked through my clothes and saw too much I had not worn in the last year. I bagged it and carried it off to the local charity pickup truck. I realize they will sell it but they will sell it for cheap and somebody else will hopefully use it. I suspect together we hauled off seven or eight bags of clothes. I really don't buy that much but I had a lot of clothes that I had accumulated and I thought just maybe someday I might put some of them to use. Some stuff was just old and outdated and as I hate to confess, some of it wouldn't fit anymore.
One of the good things is that I can now better see what I really have to wear and I have worn about all of it in the last year. Well, wait; I have a pair of cowboy boots. I haven't worn them in a long time but I held onto to them because, well, I might wear them someday.
I know I have too much stuff. Honestly, the goal of my life has never been to have more. I've wanted a roof over my head and a warm place to sleep and some good food and a comfortable car. I know thousands in America are homeless and I am fortunate.
The point I am trying to make is that it just feels so good to get rid of junk. I feel happier just being able to walk into my closet. And, maybe my junk will be somebody else's lucky buy or find.
We are on a journey through this world and we try to carry too much. It's really amazing how little we really need.
The sooner we realize how little we really need the sooner we can enjoy what we have.
A happier life is free from a lot of junk.
America's not ready For Hillary
Hillary Rodham Clinton will not be the next president of the United States. She won't even be the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nominee. Risky as it is to place one's bets 18 months ahead of an election, I'm confident in those two predictions.
Well, the scandals, real and imagined, that have dogged her and her husband's heels at every turn since the 1992 election cycle -- from Whitewater to Vince Foster's death to "bimbo eruptions" – don't help. Her handling of them helps even less, and the fuse is burning down on a big one: A forthcoming book by Peter Schweizer on the Clinton family foundation's finances.
The charity is hard at work right now, massaging its old tax returns to correct "errors in reporting donations from foreign governments." Good luck "correcting" what looks a lot like a straightforward $2.3 million bribe from Russia (with love) to then Secretary of State Clinton for approval of a sensitive uranium deal.
But it's not financial hijinks, tall tales about Bosnian sniper fire, shrugging deflections of responsibility for American deaths in Benghazi, or even her Nixonian, and undeniably criminal, actions in controlling, concealing and destroying official emails as Secretary of State that sound the death knell for her presidential aspirations.
The real problem is that nobody seems to be able to think of any good reason why she should be elected president. Even among those Americans who are okay with politicians running their lives, there's no great stampede on to let THIS politician run their lives. Maybe that's because she so clearly relishes the idea.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is famous for being famous. "Power behind the throne" talk aside, she married a future president, rode his coattails to a safe Democrat US Senate seat in which she served without distinction (other than voting for the USA PATRIOT ACT and the invasion of Iraq, neither of which are exactly high points on a presidential resume these days), lost her "inevitable" 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to a freshman US Senator virtually unknown four years before, and kept the needle on her tenure as Secretary of State floating between lackluster and embarrassing.
America has a bad case of Hillary fatigue. And where her presidential ambitions are concerned, the affliction is terminal.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the alternatives, Democrat and Republican alike, aren't any better. Even the most allegedly "libertarian" of the pack, US Senator Rand Paul, seems a lot more interested in power than in freedom.
If we all write in "None of the Above" a year from this coming November, will the politicians leave us alone for four years? Of course they won't. But we can daydream, can't we?
Thomas L. Knapp, Director and Senior News Analyst
William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism
Hillary's bribery scheme, The Clinton Foundation
To begin, let me say thank you to each and every one of you that voted for America in the Dove Foundation's annual awards contest for the best family- and faith-friendly movies. Thanks to you, America won the award for 2014's Best Documentary! You can read more and see the full list of winners here. It's heartening to see that so many Americans still care about taking their children to films that highlight the exceptionalism of Christianity and America.
Right now, if you order a copy of America to watch with your family, you'll not only be helping your kids learn more about what makes America great, but you'll also be helping students around the country gain access to this patriotic film. For every DVD purchased on the official America website, I'll donate a copy of the movie to a school or student! Thank you for all you do to help educate America's next generation of leaders.
Hillary, on the other hand, cares more about lining her pockets. As her campaign continues, so do the scandals. In the latest, she is accused of accepting millions of dollars from foreign governments using the Clinton Foundation in return for favors during her time as Secretary of State and beyond. Meanwhile, more and more reports are surfacing of Bill accepting free trips and favors from billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a 62-year-old registered sex offender with ties to child prostitution. Will Bill and Hillary continue to sell out for quick cash if they're back in the White House? I wonder what Hillary's asking price is for the United States. Let's see if Democrats have the decency to demand accountability from Hillary for her bribery scheme called the Clinton Foundation.
While Hillary counts her cash and worries about "taking down the rich," ISIS continues to terrorize Christians in the Middle East. In the latest gruesome video, they behead two groups of Ethiopian Christians on the beach in Libya. Where is America's leadership in the Middle East and around the globe? ISIS seems to have a free pass, as long as they don't start bombing Obama's golf courses!
Who could have predicted Obama's inaction in world affairs, spurning of our allies, and palling around with our enemies? Actually, I did! In Roots of Obama's Rage and Obama's America, I laid out a plan that Obama would follow, not authored by him, but by his anti-colonial father. How did I know this? Because Obama told us so himself. Click here to read the book that first predicted Obama's un-making of America.
No fast track trade shortcut for Obama
President Barack Obama's managed trade agenda hit the front burner when Congress returned as Republican Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch introduced legislation granting the President fast track trade authority. The demand for fast track legislation was a focal point of President Obama's January state of the union message, and Hatch's introduction sets the stage for a non-partisan legislative donnybrook over the issue.
At its core, the question is whether Congress will cede what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has termed, "an enormous grant of power" related to trade over to Obama or not?
While the Hatch legislation wraps fast track in a cloak of congressional demands that the President won't meet in his almost completed trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the essence of the legislation is that the Congress will agree to bring up the unchanged negotiated treaty within a year with ratification only requiring a simple majority in both houses.
Should the President be denied fast track authority, the U.S. Constitution requires that any treaty submitted would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate for ratification. The House of Representatives would not have any ratification vote.
Normally, a Republican majority in both houses would virtually assure passage of fast track legislation designed to facilitate ratification of a treaty packaged as a free trade deal, but these are not normal times.
Republican members of Congress have spent six years pointing to the President's excesses ranging from using the IRS to target conservative groups to an EPA that has engaged in regulatory jihad against energy producers while thumbing their nose at a protesting Congress. They have watched this President declare that he cannot legally enact executive amnesty, and then watched him do it, and have been unwilling to take the steps necessary to assert their own constitutional prerogatives over the issue. They see the President take his Iranian nuke cave-in treaty as well as his China climate deal to the United Nations while denying that Congress has any role in the process.
Now, they are being asked to trust this same President to produce a trade deal that is good for the United States. A trade deal that has been negotiated in secret for almost five years with twelve Pacific rim countries. A deal where multi-national business crony capitalist stakeholders have had a seat at the table, while the people's representatives were excluded.
A Republican Congress that rails against both Obama's abuse of power and the explosion of corporate cronyism is now being asked by their Senate and House leadership to trust that Obama has not played this same corporate crony political money game of picking winners and losers in rewriting the rules for the world's economy. It takes a special willful blindness to have that faith.
Advocates of fast track argue that Members of Congress who voted for giving Obama fast track authority would vote down a bad deal using their simple majorities, only they won't. This is certainly unlikely in the Senate which would need a filibuster proof sixty votes to bring fast track to the floor, but only a simple majority vote to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the House, it would require those who voted to extend power to the President to vote against the very lobbyists who they joined in the TPA vote, an almost inconceivable occurrence.
Make no mistake the most important vote on Obama's fundamental transformation of the world economic rules is the vote on fast track.
The legislative battle has started over what the ground rules will be for the world's economy, and for once, congressional Republicans are in control.
Let's hope they don't blow it by failing to follow the constitutional treaty making language to the letter and forcing any deal submitted by the President to be subject to a two-thirds Senate vote for ratification. The stakes are too high to take short cuts.
Rick Manning, President
Americans for Limited Government
Some animals are more equal than others
Presidential candidates work hard to convince ordinary Americans that they're just like us. Regular folks. Put their pants on one leg at a time, you betcha.
But nobody clears the airspace for me when I fly into a city.
Nor, I bet, do federal agents cordon off several blocks around venues in which you're scheduled to speak, restricting people who don't like you to "free speech zones" for the duration of your visit.
And if either of us puts the pedal to the metal and flies down Interstate 89 at more than 90 miles per hour to keep appointments in Keene, Claremont and Concord, New Hampshire, we'll be lucky if we get off with stern lectures and expensive tickets.
Hillary Clinton gets a Secret Service escort. The police don't even consider pulling her over for a ticket. They're there to make sure all us regular people – you know, the ones she's just like – keep ourselves out of her way.
No, I'm not picking on Hillary. It's all of them. I can cite experiences, my own and those of friends, going back to 1992 revealing the same disregard for the rules that bind everyone else.
In 1992, the Secret Service searched the apartment of a friend of mine for no other reason than that it happened to overlook President George H.W. Bush's motorcade route. Later that fall, my future wife was ordered to finish her meal and clear out of a restaurant immediately. Because Bush wanted to eat there.
In 2000, police ordered me to walk about three miles out of my way to reach a "free speech zone." Mere mortals were excluded from the streets surrounding the building where vice president Al Gore and presidential candidate George W. Bush were scheduled to "debate" (read: Tell us how much like us they are, just regular folks, folks).
In 2008, US Highway 65 between Springfield and Branson, Missouri was cleared of mere mundanes so presidential candidate John McCain's motorcade could pass through. The local newspaper dutifully noted its police-escorted speed of 100 miles per hour.
These things aren't the exceptions. They're the rule. The political class is not like the rest of us. They're not regular folks.
And I guess that's OK. It would be a shame for any of them to be late to the microphones from which they lecture us on the importance of the rule of law.
Thomas L. Knapp, Director and Senior News Analyst
William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism
Everyone seems to be talking about tax reform again. We are going to need statesmen to get it done. With our debt of over $18 trillion and unfunded liabilities of over $60 trillion we are in a grave situation. We are going to need leaders who speak about the fact that the income tax was designed to eliminate capitalism, also known as the free market. And, it’s working. We need real leaders to tell folks the corporate tax is a lie. Businesses can never pay a tax without adding it to the cost of their product. A corporate tax is an unrecorded VAT, or sales tax. The payroll tax is also a lie. An employer must consider an employee’s portion of the payroll tax as part of his or her pay and they reduce their pay accordingly. The employer’s portion of the payroll tax is added to the cost of the service or product.
What is mysterious is why citizens might support an income tax. Do they really believe they gain something by adding to the costs of goods and services? The FairTax eliminates 90 percent of tax returns. It also eliminates Congress from the bidding war for tax favors.
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin