"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" Thomas Jefferson
Last year, I noted how the decision to allow full vote-by-mail elections simplifies voter fraud. This year, I noticed that we can kiss the secret ballot goodbye too.
As I was sealing my vote-by-mail envelope, I noticed that not only is my name/address etc on the outside of the envelope, but the envelope is not the secured kind (with the lines on the inside). Instead, it is a standard envelope that you can see through even without holding it up to the light. Better yet, not only do I know who the envelope is from but I can see the ballot and what box (position/candidate) they filled in. Looks like any mail handler or individual who happens on one of these will now know how you voted.
While I understand this type of election saves money, it is paramount that elections prevent fraud and respect privacy to vote as one wishes. Entire vote-by-mail elections was a bad idea to begin with and this just doubles-down on that fact.
Since I can’t fit this in on a ‘tweet’ here’s why I’m not voting for the bond:
The school district seems to take it for granted that when they ask for money everyone just gives it to them (historically, voters have given them this perception). There seems to be a lack of really justifying the funds and second look for deeper efficiencies. Specifically, the district (all districts I’m aware of, actually) always pay an architect to design a nice new building. Why not get a set of three plans (which can be updated on a 10 – 20 year basis) where you pick plan A, B, or C for the school instead of a new design each time? Nor do the designs need to be fancy (less cute, more functional, please). Then there’s also the administrative overhead that would be better spent in classrooms which I won’t go into due to time constraints.
As a side note, I don’t know who came up with the bond being ‘for the children’ but c’mon, today’s kids are the one’s who are going to be saddled with the costs of paying of the bond. Stop using kids to guilt trip people into slapping more burdens on those very children.
So I’ll vote against the bond in hopes that it is turned down and the district has to put a bit more thought in efficiency and new adaptive ideas for dealing with growth and regular operations, in general.
Back in June, I warned that I would be surprised if city and county governments didn’t put the UTA tax on ballots because of the “incentive” the legislature gave them. It’s a fiscal incentive better known as a ‘kickback’ which would normally be highly unethical if not illegal but since the legislature did it, it’s ok… Please read the above linked post for details on the kickback along with a list of the other tax increases this year and links to UTA’s bad financial audits. You can also go directly to the 2014 audit here or read a related article from the Salt Lake Tribute here “Audit blasts UTA, says it gave millions in sweetheart deals”
Rather than reinvent the wheel and post my own summary on why we should oppose Proposition 1, let me paste in an excellent summary I was sent in an email (original author is Heather Williamson):
…Also, we are concerned that another tax is being considered against us. And I mean against, not FOR us. Taxes take more dollars out of our pockets which we can simply can not afford. Governments should be expected to work within their existing budgets just like my family and I have to.
However, I am equally concerned with where our tax dollars are going. Almost half of the tax proposal will go to the Utah Transit Authority. UTA has been less than frugal with their funds. I find it offensive that I am being asked to be more frugal with my money, so UTA doesn’t have to be with theirs.
At the end of 2010, UTA was millions of dollars in debt, and the debt continues to rise. The following year over $600,000 was spent on international travel, which an audit released called these ‘work trips’ unnecessary and a misuse of public funds. UTA also signed a deal with a contractor in Draper, which according to another audit, lacked the proper legal documentation and defied UTA’s own rules and regulations. After the deal experienced failure after failure, UTA lost roughly $2 million dollars and did not seek compensation. The auditors concluded that this put “tax dollars at an unnecessary risk.” According to the same audit, UTA legal counsel advised to recover the $2 million, however the executive board decided that the loss was acceptable.
UTA executive bonuses have totaled close to $2 million dollars a year, and that is not including the bonuses that UTA is withholding to report on. According to the same audit, UTA has not reported all compensation to Utah’s state transparency website. Two years ago, General Manager of UTA made over $400,000; General Counsel made over $350,000; and the Chief Operating Officer made over $300,000 and their compensation continues to rise. This government entity is asking for more money, because it has paid itself into debt. And now they are asking me and the other county residents to restrain our budgets even more to pay for their lack of basic budgeting skills. This sales tax, if approved, will increase UTA revenue by millions a year. However, when does it stop?
I have nothing further to add other than to ask you to please vote NO on Prop 1.
Last week, the LDS Church reacted to the recent Boy Scouts of America (BSA) plan to formally allow openly gay men to be troop leaders (Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders, Over Protests by Mormon Church):
But the new policy allows church-sponsored units to choose local unit leaders who share their precepts, even if that means restricting such positions to heterosexual men.
Despite this compromise, the Mormon Church said it might leave the organization anyway. Its stance surprised many and raised questions about whether other conservative sponsors, including the Roman Catholic Church, might follow suit.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote,” said a statement issued by the church moments after the Scouts announced the new policy. “When the leadership of the church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with scouting will need to be examined.”
Only two weeks ago, the Mormon Church hinted that it could remain in the fold so long as its units could pick their own leaders.
Why is the church so upset? They seem to be miffed because they didn’t participate in the vote but why would the BSA think they would have opposed the policy change? As the article notes, the church indicated they would support the policy if an exception was included. Furthermore, the church has set a very clear precedent that it will support and lobby for laws/policies coercing acceptance of gay lifestyles so long as the church is exempted. The BSA must have felt fine since the policy includes an exemption just like the other laws the church as fully supported.
Maybe this means the church is shifting away from this type of ‘good for thee but not for me’ policies. Personally, I do hope they come back to the foundational values they’ve held and transition from the increasingly rudderless BSA. However, more than likely, this is just going to amount to a bunch of bluster and they’ll back the (bad) policy. Hope I’m wrong…
The Bountiful City Council is poised to pursue recommending tax increase on the November ballot. Likely they used this vapid, boilerplate resolution provided to them from the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT – a tax-funded municipal lobbying group that lobbies the legislature to increase you taxes – go figure).
Basically, if they are able to pass the tax increase, UTA (Utah Transit Authority) will get 40% of it for improving their service (…and free up funding for more outrageous executive bonuses). Meanwhile cities get 40% of the take and counties get 20%. Effectively, the legislature set this scheme up so everyone get’s a juicy kickback by getting this thing passed. As one person I know put it: Imagine if the city were to agree with Comcast to slap a fee on every homeowner for Comcast internet improvements under the agreement that Comcast will give the city/county 20-40% of the fee?
Of course, if Comcast and the city rigged a deal like this, there would be an investigation and things would not be pretty. However, since government and a government-spronsored private organization (UTA) is involved, this is somehow kosher.
This tax will be on top of several new, and proposed 2015 taxes/fees (note there may be more, these are just off the top of my head):
- Statewide property tax increase of $46/average home ($250K, I think) (SB97)
- State gas tax increase (now 12% which also automatically increases the revenue as wholesale price increases up to a threshold of $0.40/gallon (HB362)
- Directed by the Utah Legislature (SJR6) Chaffetz has proposed a law that would require all online businesses to collect Utah sales tax from Utah citizens
Fortunately for cities, ULCT (along with Utah Chamber of Crony Capitalists-afilliated groups and front organizations) is going to help cities with the get-out-the-vote campaign (see the “When” section). Based on the aforementioned resolution and linked document, cities are likely to make hay of their road maintenance shortfall to convince you to spit up 40% overhead to UTA. Quite frankly, the shortfall is of their own doing – if they would’ve focused on core government functions instead of pet projects like recreation centers, theater for plays, art displays/festivals, special-interest museums, etc (see the tags linked above). Maybe it’s time they check their priorities and adjust such first before further burdening families.
Unfortunately, for those who expect some fiscal responsibility and oppose these intra-governmental kickback schemes, things will be tough. The above crony groups will use their coffers to swamp the media with ads etc as they will see a return on investment (at your expense) and attack opponents as ‘miserly’ for such a small increase (again, ignore the other increases this is heaped on). Plus, they also have the advantage of the “Concentrated versus Diffuse Interests” effect so eloquently identified by Milton & Rose Friedman many years ago.
Good times ahead, or something.
UPDATE (8/18): The Davis County Commission voted to stick the measure on the ballot:
The motion was unanimous with votes from Commissioners.
Milburn – on the UTA Board of Trustees.
Smith – CEO of Davis Chamber of Commerce – Chambers are involved in PR for the tax increase (see my above link), I’m betting Davis Chamber will chip in too…
Petroff who stated: “putting the sales tax increase on the ballot is not a hard decision for me.”
UPDATE (10/17): The ballot proposal is known as Proposition 1 (“Prop 1”). Please vote NO on this most recent piece of crony capitalism (see also today’s post: Prop 1: Funding The UTA Money Pit With Government Kickbacks).
I don’t get much time to post anymore so I’m just putting some thoughts down on a variety of issues in what amounts to a first draft with no real review/editing. Thus the very generic title, no comment section, and uncharacteristic scant source links.
Obama’s very inept handling of the region helped precipitate this despicable crime group accurately know as Daesh. Right after the success of the Iraq surge, Obama intentionally spiked the SOFA and gave us an arbitrary withdrawl without the residual force to buffer Suni/Shia and keep ISIS-like groups at bay. Later, he pushed for the rebelion against Asad without heed of who would arise in such a power vacuum (McCain get’s credit for this too) meanwhile ignoring the Green Movement in Iran (and subsequently guaranteeing Iran’s ruling regime nukes). Besides Asad he helped screw up Lybia (again with inept handling) and provided an opening for radicals there too where we wound up with a dead ambassador and securtity detail in Benghazi on a September 11 anniversary (Hillary’s State Dept is deserving of blame for awful basic security). As an added bonus, he just about pulled the same thing in Egypt. He’s practically pulled the same stuff in Afghanistan (already a tougher operation than Iraq) when presented with surge force options for high, medium, and low risk of failure (based on troop numbers). He opted for the low troop, high rist option and here we are today. Lives have been impacted and allies left twisting in the wind.
Some screwed-up guy murders nine people and all the media and people want to do is focus on a flag. No one seems to want to figure out why this guy snapped or how to prevent/indertict such a person in the future, instead, we’re going to ban Dukes of Hazard memorobelia. It’s absurd. South Carolina and other ‘flag states’ can deal with the flag (preferably without a frenzied, knee-jerk reaction but thoughtful consideration). Nope, we’re going to focus on a flag and totally ignore the perp and the crime.
Government should just get out of the marriage business. My guess is this isn’t over and one gay leader (Takei) is ready for the next step: diluting individual religious right once protected by the First Amendment. Forcing businesses and laborers to, literally, cater to them when alternatives abound will continue and be expanded upon. No one should be allowed to steal another’s labor or turn them into your forced servant. The ACLU is cool with it apparently deciding the some rights are more equal than others. At the local level, the LDS Church has some complicity in this with the new law they helped pass to force businesses while exempting themselves from the same law. When I called the church on how they could reconcile this, the spokesman noted that they had really taken a beating in the media etc by standing up for traditional marriage. So they threw their members under the bus (who by the way took just as bad a beating and are still expected to stand up for biblical marriage with the bonus of continuing to take the beating). Anyway, Utah should just get out of marriage, ASAP. Oh and, yeah, polygamy and other alternatives will be legalized – deal with it.
Twice saved by Justice Roberts, each time with a Constitution crushing decision: First, include a tax in any law and you can do whatever you want no matter how intrusive it may be in an individual life (an anethma to the clear intents and debate into the framing of the constitution found in the Federalist Papers). Second, judges can now moonlight as legislators and re-write legislation even when it was clealy spelled out in black-and-white writing and the intent from those drafting the provision was clear. No need to make the legislators revisit the issue and change it to a new intent, just do it for them (no idea why what point the legislative branch serves now). No do I know what the Constitution is for – it is totally ignored or just twisted in what ever convenient manner is now desired (we don’t no stinkin’ amnedment process!).
The useless party with poor leaders beholden to the Chamber of Commerce and other crony capital elites. Besides Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and others they do not serve as an opposition party. Sure the media hates them and wants to destroy them but they continue to try to curry favor with them so they capitulate more than oppose. Limbaugh nails it when he said they act more to make socialistic policies palatable than oppose them. Hope that changes and they start talking to the American people instead of continue to try to filter everything through the media and their intere$t groups… Principles should always take precidence over party.
More consititutionally destructive stuff from Obama with willing complicity of the Republican establishment elites and their Chamber of Crony Capitalist befactors. They know of the identity theft (SSA says 75% engage in this), document fraud, and tax fraud committed by illegal immigrants and are A-OK with it. Here again, the LDS Church is involved wher it tells members to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be but then gives illegal aliens a free pass on key standards. It’s a clear double standard and shameful. All members, regardless of legal status, should be held to the same standard – either the stated high standard or the seemingly new standard where members get to pick and choose laws to follow (even if it may involve a felony like ID theft and involve victims) so long as some personal hardship can be demonstrated. Seriously, is a cup of tea worse than trashing a child’s identity, credit, earnings, and medical records?
Anyway, one court has stood up to Obama’s massive power grab on arbitrarily making up immigration law (whis is in violation of constitutional separation of powers – not that we really have a guiding constitution anymore) but given the Supreme Court’s record as of late, don’t count on that standing. Roberts will just pencil something in.
Update: As an added bonus, the Supreme Court is also ok with not requiring anyone to show they are actually a citizen to be able to vote.
More inept work what will continue with no accountability. OPM’s head made it clear that ‘no one is responsible’ for the massive screw-up. No one will be held accountable of fired just like all the other failures (Benghazi, Fast & Furious, Snowden, Domestic spying, the border crisis, IRS scandal, Healthcare.gov site, on and on). The loss of SF-85 and other sensitive personnel data will have negative implications for many years to come.
Parting thought: The Constitution is effectively dead and not much more than a distant memory. Hopefully, that will change and future generations will recognize its wisdom (including the amendment process) and bring it back to prominence. One can only pray this happens sooner rather than later or after a very painful experience.
Maybe the Kaysville’s citizen revolt on its power transfers has Bountiful City worried. Accompanying this month’s Bountiful City Power bill is a mandatory notice letter that goes out of it’s way to shout praises that the city opts to overcharge you on power (and avoid truth in taxation) and tries to convince you that such is a “dividend”:
Viewed in another way, these transfers are a “dividend” to Bountiful Taxpayers as the result of the taxpayers’ original investment in the City’s power infrastructure.
It seems that city believes that dividends are not returned to investors to do with as they please, rather, dividends must be returned to the company (Bountiful City) to do with as it pleases. Unfortunately, Webster doesn’t seem to agree…
finance : an amount of a company’s profits that the company pays to people who own stock in the company
I also have a feeling the SEC would frown on a company unilaterally spending it’s investors dividend. This years take from taxpayers forced investors: a cool $2.38 Million.
Almost humorously, is that the city’s own words sum up the whole reason they continue to spin the power overcharge – a convenient vehicle to dodge truth-in-taxation and cloak the actual tax burden and cost of government:
…these dividends are used to offset what otherwise would be a significant increase in property taxes.
Doubly humorous exit quote from the letter:
The transfers also provide a means for reimbursement of the…services provided to non-property tax paying groups such as non-profit organizations, churches…
Shame on those dastardly charities and religious community service zealots! Glad we could stick it to ’em.
UPDATE (June 8): I understand that the Bountiful City Council will meet tomorrow to officially transfer the $2.38 Mil. during their scheduled council meeting. Feel free to attend or email them about it. Good luck getting them to switch off the gravy train.