Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top Five Items From Last Week

Here is a list of my top five issues that popped up this week.  They are abbreviated, and beg your thoughts and discussion.

(Presented in no particular order)

1.   Romney's tax return and summary for his taxes.  The Romney's paid 14.1% in effective tax rate for 2011.  Why less than the 15% capital gains tax, of which most of his income is based on? Because of charitable donations to his church and foundation.  He actually donated less to charity to keep his tax rate higher so the tax the rich whiners would maybe be silenced a bit.  Ain't that great, he had to give LESS TO CHARITY, to appease democrats.  So goes the world.

What really struck me was that his 2011 tax return was 379 pages long. No wonder small business is having a hard time.  PS, you regulation is good folks, just imagine the cost, time, and effort required to fill out 379 pages of IRS forms.

2.  The national news media is again in the tank for the president.  No mention at all about how the administration failed in protecting the US Embassy in Libya.  It was a "planned" terrorist attack which we were warned about.  Yet the president and state department failed in providing protection for our ambassador and embassy employees.  And nothing in the media except the administrations claim that the attacks are because of a stupid 14 min U Tube video.

3.  Letter to the editor today on wanting to limit corporations from spending by corporations in elections.  Well I suggest those who might agree with the letter writer read the comments from the US Supreme Court Justices before getting all worked up to defend his comments.   First of, just remember that all the major media sources are, wait for it, CORPORATIONS..........Now do you start to see the issue.  If a corporation could not spend money on elections, the news media (and this is just one example used in the justice's comments) would not be able to report on election news.  No corporation would be allowed to publish information on elections.

But Tom....the news media would only have to quit editorializing and print only the facts.  This would be good, but totally unenforceable, just because of the simple journalistic practice of subjective story admission or deletion.  For example, posting only good stories about one candidate, and only bad stories about the other.  Simple and effective, and in practice today.  See number 2.

Anyway USCOTUS got it right on the Citizens United ruling, and thank goodness for it.

4.  Local politicians again stating that money from the state or federal government is not tax dollars and does not cost Laredoans a thing.  Please, quit lying to the public.  Every Laredoan pays for anything that comes from the state or federal government.  We may pay less state and federal taxes than a more successful area (note I did not say richer area, as they are more successful for a reason).

5.  City politics.  I still cannot understand why locals only support democrats and thier policies.  All I hear on the blogs is the constant discontent with the local governments.  This town is full of masochist.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Responder Fees - They are in the works

It looks like the city of Laredo is investigating the potential to charge citizens for fire department responses to emergency situations.

In talking with a certain city staffer today, it appears the fire department is investigating the idea of charging "non-residents", and maybe even local residents, a fee for each LFD response to an vehicle accident or other emergency.

We already pay an extra fee for ambulance service that is provided by the fire department, and now we may be asked to pay for a fire department response to an auto accident.  Most of these fees are covered by a persons health, auto, or home owners insurance. The plan is to charge those with insurance for responses.

I was told that the idea that non-residents may be charged for accidents that occur in the Laredo city limits. I did not ask about a potential fee structure, as the LFD appears to be in the very early stages of studying this idea.  But the staffer stated over and over that the fee would be paid by insurance carriers and not the victim.  I of course disputed that by saying that insurance rates at some point would have to increase to cover the new cost.

There are many municipalities that collect fees for fire department, and some police, responses to accidents, and other "emergency calls."  These fee collections have been deemed legal if the state has statutory provisions that allow  them.  Apparently Texas has such a statute.  I have yet to read it.

So my friends, it is your turn to start the discussions.

Some of my worries:

a.  we already pay for this service, and if we charge our insurance rates could go up, even if we are not at fault.
b.  if only the person at fault is to be charged, who is going to determine who is at fault, and how many more court cases will flood the dockets?
c.  how will this affect international travelers from Mexico?
d.  at first accidents, then where does the fee charging lead to, suspicious persons calls, house and car fires, grass fires?
e.  will the "new revenue" be used to reduce taxes that we already pay for these services?

What say you?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That McAllen Cannot Make Convention Center Work- Does not bode well for Laredo

This is the headline from the McAllen Monitor on August 31, 2012:

Chamber proposes taking over McAllen's money-losing convention center

McAllen Convention Center

As you may or may not know, a few years back McAllen spent $62 million on a new convention center.  As you can see now, it is not producing.  These two paragraphs from the article say it all:

“When we’re giving it away free — meaning to any association that’s going to come down here and it doesn’t cost them anything to rent the facility, and we’re still being told ‘No’ — that tells me we’re in the wrong place,” said McAllen Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Ahlenius, speaking Tuesday night to the City Commission about the convention market.
In the past 18 months, three groups have rejected the convention center despite being offered free meeting space, said Nancy Millar, vice president of the McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The reason I post this, is that your city council, which is in the process of implementing a huge number of fee increases, has had a new convention center on it's mind for the last few years.  

Why do you think they are trying to sell the Civic Center to LISD?  In order to generate the need for a new convention center.

Now if the McAllen region, which we all honestly must agree, has many more things to do than the Laredo region, cannot make a convention center work, then how does the City of Laredo, and city council think that Laredo will make a convention center work?

Beware of Kell Nunoz and gang who have tried to sell the convention center idea in the past.  

PS, watch out for city council when they try to convert the "1/4 cent Sports Venue Tax" to an economic development tax.  I support that idea, but not if they are going to use that as a vehicle for a new convention center.  So, if and when this idea comes up for a public vote, which is required by law, we must press the city council and get them to commit what the funds will and will not be used for.

Frac-A-Phobes: More bad news

Oil field services giant Schlumberger  has created a new process for hydraulic fracturing that reduces the cost of the process by reducing water usage up to 50% and reduces sand and other chemicals also.

Read Story Here

This cannot be good new for the hardcore environmentalist who wants to see the world revert back to caveman technologies.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Massive Fee Increases - Are they a good idea?

The cost to build a new business or home in Laredo is going
up with the proposed fee increases that will be implemented
by city council.
If you look at the Sept. 4th Laredo City Council Agenda,  (see agenda here) you will notice that there are a large number of fee increases, including some new fees that are being proposed.

The increases range from clean up at the library to doubling and tripling the cost of adding sewer connections to houses.

One to note was the new $50 fee each new business will have to pay to file with the city.  File for what?  Any new business must file with the state and federal governments and pay those taxes.  What is next in line I guess is a new business tax to come down the pike at some point.

These fee hikes, many of which may not even be noticed to the general public (except in utilities bills), could be detrimental to the city in the long run.  When new businesses run cost analysis to determine where to build, many of these fee hikes will come into play.

Here are just a few of the fee hikes that will be voted on tomorrow:
 building cost on housing
 parking meter and lot rates
garbage pickup
swimming pool fees, including swimming lessons
health department clinic visits
birth certificate fees
death certificate fees
restaurant inspection fees
plumbing permit fees
library meeting fees
civic center rental fees
new garage sale permit fee
zoning change fees
 and many more too numerous to list.  Many of these fees are dramatic, especially in the building, planning, and utility divisions with fees going up thousands of dollars.  They will add greatly to the cost of building in Laredo.

What you see here is a morphing of a city government that has grown beyond it's means and is now charging for the very services we taxpayers originally intended to pay for with our tax base.  This shows that the city is not in as good of financial shape as some may have you believe.

Most of these fee increases will greatly affect the poor.  Yes, you heard it here, local Democrats are hurting the poor.