Saturday, December 30, 2006

Animals in government

No - it's not what you think...I'm not talking about our elected officials...

Actually, I'm talking about our mayor's new pet. I think it's terrific that he's adopted an assist dog that is no longer able to assist (due to arthritis), but have to question bringing Scout to work.

No, not on the day of the announcement. That actually makes sense...raises awareness about assist dogs in general and the ability to adopt pets which are not able to perform as trained.

Rather, on Thursday, Carty and I arrived at government center at the same time and Scout was with the mayor, again. Which raised the question of whether or not it was appropriate to bring a pet to work on a regular basis. (Please note - I'm talking about pets - not animals who are actually functioning as assistants.)

I can't help but wonder, considering my own alllergies, what happens when someone who's allergic to dogs has to attend a meeting with the mayor and Scout, or has to sit in a room where a dog has been hanging out. Does the mayor check ahead of time with his guests to see if it might be a problem?

And who takes Scout outside when necessary and cleans up after him?

Perhaps I'm way off, but I don't think the proper place for a pet is in the mayor's office.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Legislative language for funding the arena

The state legislature is considering the bill which grants permissive authority to the Board of County Commissioners - in eligible counties only - to increase the hotel/motel tax to fund an arena. (Link to the summary is here starting on page 66.)

There are several things which I believe are important for people to know.

1) Only Lucas County qualifies as an 'eligible' county.

2) It allows the County to establish ticket charges or surcharges for admission to events.

3) It allows the County to increase the lodging tax by 2 percentage points which can be used to make contributions to a convention and visitors bureau, to promote/advertise/market the region, and to pay for an arena.

4) A resolution to increase the lodging tax can only be passed by the Commissioners between January 15, 2007 and January 15, 2008.

5) The resolution takes effect upon adoption, unless they specify that the tax is to go to a vote of the people.

6) If the tax does not go to a vote of the people and is, instead, adopted by the Commissioners, the people can petition to have it submitted to a referendum.

7) The lodging tax remains in effect at the rate at which it was imposed for the duration of any lease or other agreement entered into by the board with respect to the arena; the duration during which any securities issued by the board are outstanding; or the duration of the period during which the board owns the arena, whichever period of time is longest.

8) The bill prohibits the Commissioners from repealing, rescinding or reducing any or all of the lodging taxes pledged to pay debt on any outstanding securities issued for the arena. Further, once lodging taxes are pledged to pay debt on the securities, they are not subject to repeal, rescission or reduction by the county voters.

People should know that there is nothing to require the tax to expire once the arena construction is paid for - and that if the taxes are passed and securities are issued, they are not subject to repeal.

I think this raises two critical questions: One - is this written so that the Commissioners can pass the tax, issue bonds and then eliminate the option of the people to petition for referendum because the tax would be pledged to debt payment on those bonds? In other words, is it likely they can get this done BEFORE the petitions for referendum can be filed? Two - will the Commissioners pledge to collect the tax only until the construction bonds are paid off?

Just some questions that I think need to be answered PRIOR to any votes...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Predictions for 2007

Sorry to not have been very active on my blog - some family issues have taken precedence. If you've ever had a close friend or family member diagnosed with cancer, you can understand the need to set aside non-essential things for the priority of helping out in such circumstances.

I lost an uncle to inoperable brain cancer in the 1980s. I was still in school at the time and the treatment has changed so much since then - as I saw last year when I lost a very dear friend, again to inoperable brain cancer. Last week, our best friends called us with the bad news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Even with today's technology and treatment options, we're expecting that significant help will be needed as she undergoes chemotherapy. So we'll be working out schedules for helping with meals, cleaning, errands and the holidays. I'm sure we all have friends who are more like family. In this case, our friends are the family we choose, so we'll gladly pitch in.

But that means I'll have less time than expected for posting. So I've decided to ask for your input for 2007. I'd like you to make your local predictions for events, activities, 2007. I'll save these and we'll review them - either at the end of the year or as they come true. I may even end up with a prize for the best/most accurate prediction.

I'll start with two of my own:

1) My friend will successfully undergo her treatment and become a cancer survivor.

2) As soon as legally possible, the commissioners will vote to increase the hotel/motel tax - but they will make the public go through a referendum process rather than submit it to a vote prior to implementation.

Your predictions? Have at it!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Is government a thief?

Walter E. Williams' latest column, "Why we love government," says the following:

"Today's Americans hold a different vision of government. It's one that says Congress has the right to do just about anything upon which it can secure a majority vote. Most of what Congress does fits the description of forcing one American to serve the purposes of another American. That description differs only in degree, but not in kind, from slavery.

At least two-thirds of the federal budget represents forcing one American to serve the purposes of another. Younger workers are forced to pay for the prescriptions of older Americans; people who are not farmers are forced to serve those who are; nonpoor people are forced to serve poor people; and the general public is forced to serve corporations, college students and other special interests who have the ear of Congress.

The supreme tragedy that will lead to our undoing is that so far as personal economic self-interests are concerned, it is perfectly rational for every American to seek to live at the expense of another American. Why? Not doing so doesn't mean he'll pay lower federal taxes. All it means is that there will be more money for somebody else.

In other words, once Congress establishes that one person can live at the expense of another, it pays for everyone to try to do so. You say, "Williams, don't you believe in helping your fellow man?" Yes, I do. I believe that reaching into one's own pockets to help his fellow man is both laudable and praiseworthy. Reaching into another's pockets to help his fellow man is despicable and worthy of comdmnation.

The bottom line: We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment. For example, if I saw a person in need, and I took your money to help him, I'd be arrested and convicted of theft. If I get Congress to do the same thing, I am seen as compassionate. "

Your thoughts?
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