Saturday, March 31, 2007

Study says ethanol no cleaner than gasoline

The Ethanol craze is just that, a mass hysteria fed by 1-the corporate farm lobby, and 2-research grant addicted higher education bureaucrats.

Ethanol is an economic and environmental boondoggle which will consume billions in taxpayer money. It will be a disaster for the taxpayer and the economy.

Link

The federal (Canadian) Conservative government committed $2 billion in incentives for ethanol, made from wheat and corn, and biodiesel in last week's budget.

But based on Ottawa's own research, critics say the investment is based more on myth than hard science.


Unemployment Rate Inequality


Link

What doesn't get much attention is "unemployment rate inequality," by educational attainment, which is HUGE (see graph above). There is a persistent 5.24% gap between the jobless rate for those with less than a high school degree (average = 7.65%) and those with a college degree or higher (average = 2.41%).

Friday, March 30, 2007

Block the (Indiana Cigarette Tax Hike) Tax Video

Sen. Jackson: "We need to raise the gasoline tax"

This is a short clip from the Senate Transportation Committee on Wed 03-28-07. The first segment is a short statement by Commissioner Nicely on the probability of a gas tax increase and then a statement by Sen. Jackson about why he believes a gas tax increase is "inescapable."

Memphis Corruption Collection-ABC24


Link

The collection consists of items like coffee mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, and thongs.

Each item has a quote by a Memphis politician plastered on it.

The collection's creator Cricket Tisdale adds, "You would be surprised at the number of thongs we sell."

The quotes you can choose to adorn coffee mug include two recent ones from Edmund Ford.

"Don't make me your punk," and "I must have drunk the Mississippi River," were some of the city councilman's recent statements during a council committee meeting earlier this month.

They are also some of Tisdale's top selling quotes.

There's also a quote from Ford's brother, John. "I got a gun. I'll shoot you dead," was captured on an FBI surveillance tape during Operation Tennessee Waltz.

It can now adorn your apron or underwear.

Memphis city council member Rickey Peete's statement that "My life serves as a model for a lot of people" is another quote you can choose to adorn an apron or a bumper sticker.

That said, Tisdale chose not to attribute the quotes on any of his "Memphis Corruption Collection" items.




Ketchup Art


Link

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Memphis to outsource ethics to Nashville


Link

A bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, at the request of the Shelby County Commission, would submit Shelby County officials and employees to the same ethics laws that state lawmakers and employees must follow, if the commission chooses for that to happen.

"As opposed to going through the process of creating its own ethics commission, it would simply outsource all of that to our state Ethics Commission," Kyle said during a Senate State and Local Government Committee meeting this week.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Memphis Reps. John DeBerry and Ulysses Jones, is scheduled for a full Senate vote on Monday and is expected to be heard by the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

The service wouldn't be free to Shelby County, and the Legislature's Fiscal Review Committee estimates the cost at about $50,000.

Somebody ain't payin their Rafting Tax??

From Unicoi County

Link

A discrepancy in revenues was brought to the attention of the rafting committee by County Commissioner Mitzi Bowen, who also works in the County Clerk's office, which handles revenues turned in by rafting companies.

    According to reports from that office, all five companies combined yielded a revenue total of $29,881.90 for the county during the 2005-06 fiscal year.

    While that figure seems to be a hefty sum in terms of dollars coming into the county's coffers, officials have calculated that rafting could be bringing in much more revenue—more than $150,000 more if certain companies' reports are valid.

    According to mathematical calculations, with 50 patrons per day for five companies, every day, with a rafting tax of $2 per person imposed by the county, the five companies together should be turning in $182,500 maximum.

...

   They believe that rafting is quite often overlooked by governing officials and that is should in fact be exploited to generate extra revenue for the county.

A new slogan for Kansas City

Some of the entries so far:

WE will...we will...Funk you!!
Kansas City – If you have a sport, we have an arena!
Kansas City ... From Cow Town ... to ... Now Town!!
Kansas City…Where Fashions Come to Die

and my favorite:

What Happens in Kansas City - Who Cares?

Link


Term Limits are very popular in CA


Link

The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California released an extensive statewide poll of Californians yesterday that is chock full of eye opening findings.  One conclusion should probably come as no surprise.  A proposal to modify legislative term limits in California may be a tough sell.    According to the poll, 68% of likely voters think term limits have been a good thing, and 64% oppose a preliminary proposal to change the provisions of California legislative term limits. 

Who is putting Education First?

Do you put education first by placing it in your primary budget and fighting for the entire budget or do you put education first by pulling it out of the primary budget? Senator's Kyle and Norris discuss.


Oak Ridge Citizen Petition Certified

Kudos to Bill Schramm and www.citizensoakridge.com for getting enough signatures certified to place the bond issue on the ballot. The proposed bond issue is corporate welfare at its worst.

Link

In a press release sent out Wednesday, Citizens Oak Ridge President Bill Schramm said residents opposed to Crestpointe — at least as proposed — had been frustrated by the city's "inappropriate promotion and fast-tracking of a major public expenditure designed to benefit a single private interest."

The proposed development, which is expected to be anchored by a SuperTarget, would require a $10.5 million city investment, to be repaid through new site revenues.

"Giving $10.5 million of city money for a single site and developer is a highly unusual move," said Schramm, who also teaches economics at Roane State Community College and was involved in a previous Pine Ridge petition drive. "A gift of this magnitude requires more disclosure and scrutiny than a bank loan would. So far, we have seen less."

Oak Ridge officials are aware of the signature certifications, City Clerk Jackie Bernard said. Oak Ridge City Council members will consider an election resolution at their April 16 meeting, she said.

The referendum election would be held at the same time as the June 5 Oak Ridge municipal election.


Should taxpayers be given more time?

Senator Bunch introduced Bill SB381. This bill would give taxpayers an additional 6 months, a total of 18 months, to redeem their home after it has been sold for unpaid taxes. This is still 6 months less than the two years provided in common law. Senator Bunch and Senator Kyle debate who are we here (in the General Assembly) to serve? The taxpayers or government? The bill was passed by the Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

$272 million from top donor Wal-Mart


Link

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. increased its U.S. charitable giving 10 percent last year to $272.9 million, the world's largest retailer said Tuesday, likely defending its position as the country's largest corporate donor of cash.

The rate of growth was lower than a year earlier, when Hurricane Katrina relief helped push the annual rise to 19 percent, but it was ahead of Wal-Mart's 7 percent rise in net profit last year. The company's profit for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31 was $12.2 billion.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart released its annual donation numbers a few days after publicizing its annual bonuses to hourly store workers as it seeks to counter union-led critics by defending its record as a corporate citizen.


Tax Freedom Day gets later this year and last 5 yrs

NY Lawyers cash in on corporate welfare


Link

All over New York, clever lawyers have helped wealthy energy companies and shopping malls, century-old factories and even low-wage taverns win state tax breaks intended for someone else.

The lawyers also helped themselves.

Syracuse, Albany and Buffalo law firms some of Upstate New York's oldest, healthiest and most politically entrenched institutions erased their state tax bills with Empire Zone benefits, according to recently released records that provide the first public accounting of the program.


New KC mayor against corporate welfare


Link

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Kansas City has a new mayor, who won by campaigning against inefficient city operations and opposing tax breaks for private developers.

Mark Funkhouser got 51 percent of the vote against Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks in a nonpartisan contest to succeed two-term Mayor Kay Barnes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

VERY strong eminent domain Opposition

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,122 Ohio voters from March 13 to March 19, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Link

Q:
Do you support or oppose the state using eminent domain to take private property for economic development projects like new businesses?

A: Support, 14 percent. Oppose: 82 percent. Don't know: 4 percent.

Q: Do you think that in the past the state of Ohio has - (A) abused the use of eminent domain, or (B) generally enforced eminent domain in the public's best interest?

A: Abused, 45 percent. Used in public interest, 33 percent. Don't know, 21 percent.

Q: The Legislature is considering making it more difficult for the state to enforce eminent domain. Do you support or oppose making it more difficult for the state to use eminent domain to force the sale of private property?

A: Support, 78 percent. Oppose, 17 percent. Don't know, 5 percent.


Who really pays and who really receives?


"It's sad enough when a nation punishes its most productive citizens and rewards the least productive. But the real shame is that there are so many myths about taxes and poverty we can't even have an honest discussion about it."

A New California Gold Rush


Link


A modern-day Gold Rush has erupted over $43 billion targeted for California public works projects, with legislators crafting dozens of bills to affect how the money is spent.

Voter passage of the record bond package last November has spawned a frenzy in which communities and their officeholders are fighting for a piece of the massive pot.

"It's kind of like the heirs to the estate of some very wealthy person," said Darry Sragow, a Democratic strategist. "People fight over money -- and they fight especially hard over a lot of money."

Help TTR Monitor the General Assembly

From www.TnTaxRevolt.org

News Tuesday March 27 -
Join Tennessee Citizen Watch TODAY!!

Please Help Us Monitor how well the General Assembly is using the power granted to it by the citizens.

For the first time in history videos of all House and Senate Floor sessions, House Committee and Subcommittee Meetings, and Senate Committe Meetings are available on the General Assembly web site.

BUT....these videos are absolutely useless unless we the citizens use them to hold the General Assembly accountable.

How can you help? By devoting approx 2 hours per week for the next few weeks to watching YOUR Legislature in action.

Simply choose a committee, subcommittee or House or Senate and commit to watching one video each week.

Email us at TennesseeTaxRevolt@Yahoo.com and tell us which committee or subcommittee you are willing to monitor. THANK YOU!!

Extraordinary abuse of taxing power in Memphis

All of the power, authority and money that government possesses is granted to it by the citizens. One of the most awesome and extraordinary powers that government exercises is taxation. This is the power to take the private property of citizens. It is the only instance where we allow government to take our property without being directly compensated.

In Memphis, the city council has raised property taxes so they are now, by a large margin, the highest in the entire state. Taxes are so high that thousands of residents have moved out of the City. Instead of returning taxes to a level that promotes economic growth, the city council has simply extended their ability to hand out tax reduction favors.

This is a major corruption of the taxing authority and means there will be far less motivation to keep taxes low. It also increases the possibility, and in fact makes it quite likely, that government officials will be seduced into criminal corruption by handing out these tax reductions to friends and business associates.

Stalin helps on those late payers


Link

Bosses from the state-owned Donetsk Heating Company said: "It was the nearest we could get to intimidating people without sending round the heavy mob, and it has worked."

Deputy-director Alexandra Semchenko added: "Most people associate Stalin with order and discipline. This campaign will force them to think about the consequences of being behind with their payments."

Stalin was blamed for the forced famine of 1932-33 in the Ukraine which killed almost one-third of the country's population following the mass collectivization of farming in the Soviet Union.


This ought to save buckets of Healthcare Money


Link

NEW ORLEANS — People terrified by crippling chest pains want their doctors to do something fast to make them feel better and cut the chances they'll have a heart attack or die.

For years, doctors have done artery-opening angioplasties for these reasons.

Now, stunning results of a new study may have proved them wrong.

Researchers found that angioplasty did not save lives or prevent heart attacks in non-emergency heart patients.


Privacy Resources


LInk

Monday, March 26, 2007

Technology keeps ahead of Govt Regulation


Link

EV-DO fans can expect a juicy speed boost later this year when Qualcomm releases EV-DO Rev B, an update to the just launched Rev A. The new version of mobile broadband will use a spiced up chipset that'll allow for download speeds of up to 9.3Mpbs (topping Rev A's 800kbps download speeds). So what does this mean? Well, aside from making streaming video a more pleasurable experience (goodbye, choppy video), Rev B will also allow for new apps to mosey on into your phone, such as mobile TV. No word on when we'll see Rev B on Sprint or Verizon, although just the thought of the speed boost is enough to whet our appetite

Peppermint, the key to education reform

Link

Newspaper ad revenues drop


Link

For newspapers, February was the cruelest month. So far.

Revenue from advertising was in striking decline last month, compared with February a year ago, and were generally weaker than analysts had expected.

And while there was one piece of good news for the industry — ad spending on newspaper Web sites rose — many industry watchers were wondering whether the February declines were part of a short-term slump or whether they signal a deepening systemic problem.


Private Retirement Accounts in Mexico

Link

The centerpiece of the reform, which passed the lower house last week and is expected to pass the Senate this week, is the establishment of worker-owned, individual accounts to replace the communal pool at Issste. There are no changes for those already retired. Current workers will have the choice of staying with the government's defined-benefit plan and accepting gradual increases in the retirement age, or migrating to the new individual account, defined-contribution system.

Pick Your Nose Party Cup


Link

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tobacco Tax Hike is uncertain at best

Two Newspaper Reports:

Kingsport Times-News

State Reps. Nathan Vaughn and David Hawk aired their concerns about the cigarette tax hike during a taping of "Legislative Chat," a public affairs talk show produced for public television by East Tennessee State University.

"There are many constituencies that really have a problem (with the tax hike) - I think farmers, retailers and individual consumers who believe that 40 cents is a very significant tax," said Vaughn, D-Kingsport. "The issue, though, really is are we going to be able to do what is necessary to maintain quality education in the state of Tennessee? And without that 40 cent tax or something extremely significant, I believe we will have some real struggles in trying to maintain quality education in this state, and hence, I think we will have some real budget woes as a result of trying to move forward."

Hawk, R-Greeneville, reiterated a GOP concern that the cigarette tax increase produces unstable revenue.

"You're going to be taxing a product you're trying to discourage," Hawk said. "It's going to create a declining source of revenue that may not fulfill the obligations three, four, five years down the road. We do need to fund our at-risk students more so. We do need to fund our growth that we're seeing across the state. This particular tax ... there is no guarantee that it is going to bring in several million dollars. As you increase taxes on products and as we try to discourage smoking across the state of Tennessee, more likely than not it will start a decline in the uses of tobacco which will start a decline in the tax revenue."

Commercial Appeal

"Until we find out exactly what the surplus is, I can't know whether I'm going to vote for or against an increase," he said.

But if enough surplus exists, he said, "Why should we need to raise taxes?"


We have created taxpayer funded MONSTERS

"Trade associations" for local government officials are monsters fed by our tax dollars and they are corrupting our State government. In this article, Tom Humphrey talks about opposition to the senior tax break lead by TML and other groups of local government officials.
Leaders of city and county government organizations say the proposal raises complex legal, technical and political questions that need to be addressed.

"There are lots of unresolved questions," said Margaret Mahery, a former Athens mayor who is executive director of the Tennessee Municipal League. "We need to take a longer look at it and don't jump into something that, down the road, could negatively impact us.

"It's easy to do but hard to take back."

These groups openly act as if they are adversaries of the taxpayers. Many of these taxpayer funded groups are led by staffs that are out of control and unaccountable to the members, much less the taxpayers. These are the same groups that killed the open meetings enhancement bill last year and almost always advocate for higher taxes. These groups are out of control. They don't represent the citizens and yet taxpayers are funding them, it is time to stop these parasites before they kill the host.

New House Vote display system

Was doing some research on bill HB1779 and I found this link on the Bill summary page. This is the first time I have seen this new vote summary which shows all committee and floor votes for a bill. The only thing missing is a recorded vote in committees, that would be nice but all things considered this is major progress.

Here is the format:

HB1779 by Jones U
FLOOR VOTE: PASSAGE ON THIRD CONSIDERATION
3/22/2007
          Ayes...............................................89
          Noes................................................3
          Present and not voting.......................2
          Representatives voting aye were: Armstrong, Baird, Bass, Bell, Bibb, Bone, Borchert, Briley, Brooks H, Buck, Casada, Cobb C, Cobb J, Coleman, Coley, Cooper, Crider, Curtiss, Dean, DeBerry J, DeBerry L, DuBois, Dunn, Eldridge, Favors, Ferguson, Fincher, Fitzhugh, Ford, Fraley, Gilmore, Gresham, Hackworth, Hardaway, Harmon, Harrison, Harwell, Hawk, Hensley, Hill, Hood, Johnson C, Johnson P, Jones S, Jones U, Kernell, Litz, Lollar, Lundberg, Lynn, Maddox, Maggart, Matheny, McCord, McCormick, McDaniel, McDonald, McManus, Miller, Montgomery, Moore, Mumpower, Niceley, Odom, Overbey, Pitts, Pruitt, Rinks, Roach, Rowe, Sargent, Shaw, Shepard, Sontany, Strader, Swafford, Tidwell, Tindell, Todd, Towns, Turner L, Turner M, Vaughn, Watson, West, Williams, Windle, Yokley, Mr. Speaker Naifeh -- 89.
          Representatives voting no were: Campfield, Floyd, Kelsey -- 3.
          Representatives present and not voting were: Brooks K, Rowland -- 2.


HB1779 by Jones U
CALENDAR & RULES COMMITTEE:
Recommended for passage - refer to: House Regular Calendar (1)
3/20/2007
Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail


HB1779 by Jones U
STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE:
Recommended for passage - refer to: Calendar & Rules Committee
3/13/2007
Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail


HB1779 by Jones U
ELECTIONS OF S&LG:
Recommended for passage - refer to: State & Local Government Committee
3/6/2007
Voice Vote - Ayes Prevail


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Budget Cuts Threaten Institute of Sayings, Oh MY

Education the top priority? Not really

Drew makes an excellent point in his Tennessean Column today. Governor Bredesen's highest priority is growing the size of government, not education.

Governor Bredesen says that education is the most important priority for State Government. (nothing new, every politician that has ever asked for a vote mentions the word "education" at least 50 times and declares her or himself to be "the education candidate")

But is this really the case? In proposing new spending for education Bredesen is actually saying that all the current spending is more important than education. Otherwise he would postpone or cancel stuff like state subsidized golf courses and thousands of other items that any sane person would judge to be less important than education. The Governor is not willing to offend those within government by asking them to tighten their belts or cut less important programs. He IS willing, however, to offend taxpayers.

Politicians never ask us how much government we want, they always ask how much MORE government do we want. Making hard decisions about limited resources is never an option. The only one making hard decisions is the taxpayer when they get the tax bill.

Waiting for Mass Pols to pay more

Government is a force for good. Yes? (most can agree on the definition of "force", the question then, is who defines "good"?) Then those who believe in government as a force for good should be willing to support the noble purposes of government by voluntarily paying more in taxes. In Mass they have that option every year, to pay a higher or a lower income tax rate. Want to take a guess about how many people choose the higher rate?

Link

   Here's how the optional tax came about: In 2000, voters cut the state income-tax rate to 5 percent in a 59 percent to 41 percent landslide. The convicted-felon speaker, Tommy Taxes, refused to abide by the voters' mandate and froze the reduction at 5.3 percent.
    But the Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) proposed an optional higher rate, so that those million or so voters who wanted to keep their taxes way up there would have the opportunity to walk the walk, in addition to talking the talk. For some reason, Tommy Taxes went along with the gag.
     Alas, and try not to let this destroy your faith in the sincerity of the moonbat and hack communities, almost no one is ponying up.
    Here are the latest numbers, obtained yesterday from the state Department of Revenue.
    So far this tax season, 1.54 million people have filed their state returns. Of those 1.54 million, all of 424 people have opted to pay at the higher, voluntary rate.
    That's one-fortieth of 1 percent. And these chumps, I mean concerned citizens, have paid an extra $41,000, which means that those who volunteer to pay average about $20,000 a year in income.
    Hmmmm. How much does a state rep make - $55,000 base pay? Congressmen - $165,000. Judges - $130,000 or so.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Charter schools too popular with parents??

Not a problem, just limit the enrollment for charter schools so those damned pesky parents don't have as much school choice.

Link

SALEM -- A bill putting tighter attendance and employee restrictions on public charters schools drew sharp opposition Thursday from charter school students and administrators, who said the proposal would be a step backward on school choice.

Senate Bill 621 would require all charter school teachers and administrators to be state-licensed, and would make the school sponsor, not the charter school itself, the employer of the teachers for collective bargaining purposes. The latter provision would apply to charters formed after the law takes effect.

Charters schools are public schools sponsored by school districts which operate independently and don't have many of the rules that regular schools must follow.

Guess who makes new rules and then breaks them?

CONGRESS!! Are Republicans more easily seduced by power than Democrats? NO, abuse of power is completely bipartisan. The federal government simply has far too much power over our lives. This much power would corrupt anyone.

Pressure to approve Private Acts

An interesting dynamic in the General Assembly involves private acts. Private acts are legislation that affect an area less than the state as a whole. Typically, these are revisions to city and county charters. In this clip Rep. Odom is rather pointedly questioning Rep. Crider's voting record on other member's private acts. My guess is that there is something more going on than just simply the private act issue. Voting in favor of a private act that does not affect your district is considered by some a courtesy. However, in recent years, private acts involving taxes or liquor have provided some controversy.

Idaho ends film industry corporate welfare


Link

Film advocates in Idaho, which passed a film tax incentive in 2006, had backed this latest measure, saying it would help the state keep pace with neighboring states including Utah, Washington, Oregon and Montana in luring more film productions with government incentives.

Among those pushing it: Idaho resident Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann Summers on the 1960s TV show "Gilligan's Island."

Still, a majority of lawmakers said extending these breaks beyond last year's bill to reimburse sales taxes on some productions was going too far. And some didn't think the money was enough to lure more than a token handful of productions, anyway.




"Grotesque" to name building after living legislators

Rep. Dan Greenberg in Arkansas tried to get the same type of legislation passed that Stacey Campfield could not even get considered in committee recently. Greenberg's bill would not allow taxpayer funds used to name buildings after living legislators. Here is an interview with Greenberg, VERY REVEALING. Please watch.

Rep. Brian Kelsey's Statement on Smoking Ban

Kudos to Rep. Brian Kelsey. There is a lot of pressure to be collegial and not ruffle feathers among your fellow members at the General Assembly. To be willing to make a statement about what is clearly hypocrisy among some General Assembly members takes courage.

Very nice Restaurant Locater Map-Nashvillle


Link

Thursday, March 22, 2007

1 - 1.5 Trillion of income transfer

Link

While the U.S. tax system is progressive, the distribution of government spending makes the overall fiscal system much more progressive than is apparent from tax distributions alone. Using a microdata model we estimate the distribution of federal, state and local taxes and spending between 1991 and 2004. We find households in the lowest quintile of income received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and households in the top quintile received $0.41. Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles. Both taxes and spending appear to have large distributional effects on households, and these effects have grown since 1991. The results suggest tax distributions alone are an inadequate measure of progressivity, and policymakers should examine both tax and spending distributions when judging the overall fairness of policy toward income groups.

$34,396 per household in Williamson County

That is the average household federal tax liability which ranks Williamson as the highest average household federal tax liability of any county in Tennessee and 17th highest in the US. Click HERE for full report (on page 4).

Many more stats HERE from the Tax Foundation. Here are the stats for the big 4 counties in TN.

Average Household Federal Tax Burden
Davidson 19,224
Shelby 18,225
Knox 15,766
Hamilton 15,583

Rep. Frank Buck the fashion Trendsetter

Rep. Frank Buck is famous for his vest and this short clip involves some good natured ribbing from Rep. Todd over how Rep. Buck is influencing Rep. Tidwell. Frank Buck was instrumental in the passage of the ethics legislation last year.

Show your ID when buying spray paint??

Link

In the name of stopping graffiti, Minneapolis retailers would have to keep a closer eye on who’s buying spray paint, paint sticks and broad-tipped markers, under a proposal that passed a City Council committee Wednesday.

FREE parking for Texas politicians

Link

More than 100 state and federal lawmakers, city officials and some other dignitaries have had about $100,000 in parking fees waived at Hobby and Bush Intercontinental airports since 2004, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

Airport officials defend what they call a "courtesy" program, which has been in place since the 1980s, saying it's only intended for official travel. They say it carries no cost, other than some lost revenue, and helps foster good working relationships with officials whose jobs benefit the region.

Florida explores methods to reduce property taxes

Link

TALLAHASSEE - After enduring weeks of criticism that their property tax plan tramples local control, Republican House members Wednesday announced the ultimate handoff.

Voters in each of Florida's 67 counties should decide on one of two tax structures, they said.

The first choice eliminates all property taxes on homesteads in exchange for a sales tax increase up to 2.5 percent. The second would mean voters accept a property tax rollback to 2003-2004 levels, saving primary homeowners about 45 percent on their tax bills.

Expand Absentee Voting Bill

This is a short clip from the Elections Subcommittee of the House State and Local Committee where they consider a bill to grant to anyone the right to absentee vote. At the end of the clip a member makes a very good point, if anyone can absentee vote then it would be easy to assemble a group of people in a single room and pressure them to vote. Also, the bill as originally drafted provided that voters could receive multiple ballots. State Elections Commissioner Brooke Thompson said that provision would be removed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Robertson voters decide on Wheel/Sales Tax


Link

The County Commission voted Monday to hold a referendum to allow the public to vote on increases of the wheel and sales taxes.

"It gives the voters the chance to say where and how the tax will be increased," County Commissioner Dennis Wade said. "A tax increase is coming."


Interesting discussion of who makes up middle class

From the Congressional Research Service

Link

$65 mil from Bill Gates et al

Bill and his rich buds are giving this money to the KIPP schools. Why? Its a novel approach in Education these days. They are giving the money because KIPP schools WORK!! Long hours of hard work and a no non-sense commitment to excellence are the essential ingredients.

The one thing that ALL kids desire are parents and teachers and mentors who believe they, the students, are worthy of high expectations.

Link

From Left Liberal to Libertarian


Link

We do not have a free market and most of what we abhore about our economy can be traced to ill-advised, though well-intentioned at times, government meddling and "solutions" and that, most times, The government is playing Firefighter after being,itself, the Arsonist.

English Only Driver's License Test Bill Video

Slide the progress bar to the right until you get to 50:20 (50 minutes and 20 seconds) The English only driver's license test bill is considered until 01:16:46. If the embedded player doesn't work correctly, click HERE to bring up the Windows Media Player.












Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Most profitable Lobbyist on K Street

A very depressing but well done profile, by the Washington Post, of the most "successful" lobbyist in Washington. A man who has made many people wealthy, including himself, by perfecting the art of convincing Congresspersons to give away the taxpayer's money. It is a sickening story of legal corruption and of OUR government slowly but surely drifting away from citizen control.

Link

Cassidy helped invent the new Washington, which had made him seriously rich. His personal fortune exceeded $125 million. He and his original partner, whom he forced out of the firm 20 years earlier, devised a new kind of business, subsequently mimicked by many others. Their innovation was the first modern "earmarked appropriations" -- federal funds directed by Congress to private institutions when no federal agency had proposed spending the money. Over the subsequent three decades, the government dispensed billions of dollars in "earmarks," and lobbying for such appropriations became a booming Washington industry.

[...]

Cassidy's career has spanned an astounding boom in the lobbying business. When Cassidy became a lobbyist in 1975, the total revenue of Washington lobbyists was less than $100 million a year. In 2006 the fees paid to registered lobbyists surpassed $2.5 billion; the Cassidy firm's 51 lobbyists earned about $29 million. In 1975 the rare hiring of a former member of Congress as a lobbyist made eyebrows rise. Today 200 former members of the House and Senate are registered lobbyists. Two of them, tall, gregarious men named Marty Russo and Jack Quinn, work for Cassidy, and at the 30th birthday party they worked the crowd with relish.

The business involves giving as well as receiving. As lobbying became more and more lucrative, Cassidy realized that members of Congress who helped his clients could be thanked with campaign contributions. "You can't be in this business and not give," he once explained.

Food Tax Reduction Bill Moves

Thank YOU senator Beavers. The Food Tax Reduction Bill moves forward despite opposition from Senators Haynes and Henry.

Link

Government by Market


Link

"In reinvented organizations the public's work is done by people who work for the government: in government by network much of the public's work is paid for by the government even though it is not performed by people who work for the government and who, therefore,are not constrained by all of government's protocols and central control mechinisms. In the third emerging model, government by market, the work of government involves few, if any, public employees and  no public money. In government by market, the government uses state power to create a market that fulfills a public purpose."

Nudists show economic clout with $2 bills


Link

Effects of Net in-Migration of Retirees

Here is a link to the study by the University of Tennessee. Listing the "positive" impacts of net in migration was:

  • Contributed to a large fiscal surplus, allowing for increased spending on government services and lower property tax rates.

More money for Government...YEA!!!

Advanced People Search: Pipl.com

The most advanced search yet of personal information on the Internet.

Link


This is a choice???

This is a very bizarre poll. Government managed Canadian Health Care is so bad that Canadians are desperate to have some kind of guarantee of wait times at the doctor's office. Sooo.....instead of simply admitting the failure of Government Health care and changing a broken system, taxpayers are blackmailed with their own tax money.

Link

Ottawa, ON – A recent Ipsos-Reid study, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association, finds that when asked to choose between a wait time guarantee to ensure that patients get timely access to quality health care or a tax-back guarantee that would use the interest savings from paying down the government debt to cut personal taxes, Canadians chose a wait time guarantee by a margin of four-to-one (78% to 20%) over a tax back guarantee.

Medicare paid docs who owed back taxes

HT: Don Fenley

Link

The Government Accountability Office gave these examples of problems:

¶Medicare paid more than $100,000 to a doctor in 2005 even though the doctor owed nearly $1 million in federal taxes. The doctor was also delinquent in paying child support and had lost hospital privileges because of "substandard care."

¶Another doctor was paid nearly $100,000 by Medicare even though the doctor owed more than $600,000 in individual income taxes and had been convicted of laundering money through offshore accounts. The doctor owes tens of thousands of dollars in child support.

¶Medicare paid more than $100,000 to a doctor who owed more than $2 million in federal taxes and had an "extensive history of not filing" tax returns.

¶Medicare paid more than $1 million to a doctor-owned business in 2005, even though the business owed more than $1 million in taxes. The doctor "owns a million-dollar house, a pleasure boat and several nightclubs while owing taxes."

Monday, March 19, 2007

www.Slideshare.net-YouTube for PowerPoint

Great new site, www.slideshare.net, lets you embed PowerPoint Presentations:

$4 million tax free parsonage

Link

This month, township officials grudgingly conceded they had no choice but to remove the 11,000-square-foot home overlooking Maybury State Park from its assessment rolls, losing $40,000 annually in taxes.

They concluded the plush pad is a parsonage, but that hasn't quelled debate among township officials and neighbors about whether Christian charity extends to the Detroit World Outreach Church's purchase in September of the home for Pastor Ben Gibert and his wife and co-pastor, Charisse Gibert.


Gov Employees like Private Accounts


Link

TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) participation rates for Federal Employees Retirement System workers younger than 30 rose from 76.3 percent in 2000 to 83.8 percent in 2005, the report stated. For FERS employees in the lowest-paid quintile, it increased from 75.7 percent in 2000 to 78.8 percent in 2005.

2007 is the year of the TAX HIKE

Link

If 2006 was the year of surpluses for states, 2007 could be the year of tax hikes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Will HDTV affect the way we see (and Vote)


Link

Today, though, it suddenly occurred to me that this might have an impact on the 2008 election. Just as the introduction of television famously altered voter perceptions of the candidates in the 1960 election (those who listened to the debate thought that Nixon had won, but those who saw it on television overwhelmingly favoured the more telegenic Kennedy), HDTV could skew who we nominate and/or elect.

For example, though I've never met him, my understanding from those who have is that McCain's image of vitality is very carefully projected, and that when you actually meet him up close, he looks pretty frail. Will that come out on HDTV? How about Hilary? HDTV is least kind to older women; I'd bet it puts at least ten years on her. I suspect that Obama is the only candidate who will actually look good on HDTV; he's younger, and even light black skin ages better than caucasian. I'm tempted to side with Drezner against Cowen solely on the distribution of HDTVs in the country.


NY AG: Colleges got loan kickbacks


Link

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's attorney general has accused colleges across the country of taking kickbacks from student loan companies and reaping other benefits while making it harder for students to get better deals on their loans.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Thursday an investigation he began last month into the $85 billion student loan industry found numerous arrangements made to benefit schools and lenders over the students. In some cases, it found that lenders provided all-expense-paid trips for college financial aid officers to exotic locations in return for directing students to the lenders.


Michigan Services tax gets meager support

Link

Less than one-third of Michigan adults support the centerpiece of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to solve Michigan's budget crisis -- a 2% tax on many services and entertainment -- a new Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan Poll shows.


Profile of Lawyer Who filed Gun Suit


Link

It was his idea, his project, his philosophical mission to mount a legal challenge to the city's "draconian" gun restrictions, which are among the toughest in the nation. The statute offends his libertarian principles, Levy said. And it is entirely his money behind the lawsuit that led a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to strike down the statute this month, a ruling that stunned D.C. officials and gun-control advocates. The city said it will appeal the decision.

Levy, who moved to Florida two years ago, explained in an interview why he initiated the case, with Cato's blessing; why he has rejected offers of financial help, insisting on footing the bills himself; how he and a co-counsel searched for and vetted potential plaintiffs, finally settling on a diverse group of six people; and why he thinks letting D.C. residents keep loaded guns in their homes would not make the city a more dangerous place.

"By the way, I'm not a member of any of those pro-gun groups," he said. "I don't travel in those circles. My interest is in vindicating the Constitution."


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Great BS for Govt and Corp Bureaucrats

For all you rising star Government and Corporate Bureaucrats when you need to generate meaningless bureaucratic doublespeak. Here is your answer:

Poll on Govt Openness


Full Survey

How about the Federal Government? mostly open? Or mostly secretive?

12% Mostly Open
84% Mostly Secretive
4% Not Sure


Based on what you know, is your local government mostly open? Or mostly secretive?

21% Mostly Open
68% Mostly Secretive
11% Not Sure


How about the state government? Mostly open? Or mostly secretive?

32% Mostly Open
62% Mostly Secretive
6% Not Sure


College-educated falling behind inflation

Link


Friday, March 16, 2007

More Inspiration-The Magnificent Hvorostovsky

Top 5% Now Pay 57% of Income Tax


Sen Beavers: return overpayment to taxpayers


Link

This year the state is projecting a budget surplus of $318 million. The Funding Board will meet in May, and there is a possibility that the surplus could be even larger. A portion of the surplus comes from over collection of taxes. In other words, the state has actually been collecting more money than it budgeted.

Logic would tell us that when you receive more than you need, you return the excess; however, that is not happening. When additional revenue comes into the state, it is spent. Not only is it spent, but it is added to the base, which means the state expects that money the next time around.


Friday Inspiration

In the twilight of his career and as a 4-1 underdog, Seabiscuit entered the Match Race of the Century against the 1938 champion War Admiral. The result firmly established the Seabiscuit legend:



Thursday, March 15, 2007

Low Tax States have huge net INFLOW of Income

More evidence that corporate welfare is NOT the path to growth. LOW TAXES for everyone is the ticket.

Link

Given this Americans for Tax Reform will take the migration data one step further and have begun to measure not only the migration but the income entering or leaving a state. Northeast states, on average, are not only losing more people - they are also losing residents with higher incomes than the incomes of the people entering the state. Below is the first glimpse of our study which lists each state and the amount of income as a percentage of the state's adjusted gross income the state gained or lost in 2004. Tomorrow we will release numbers for the 1996-2004 period.The ten lowest tax burden states received a net inflow of $3 billion a year from new residents from 1996 through 2004. The ten highest tax burden states received a net outflow of $6.2 billion a year from resident leaving their states during the same time.

Agreed!! This is EXTREMELY disturbing

ACK breaks the story. The Governor wants the authority (said authority granted to him by the citizens) to deprive law abiding citizens of the ability to defend themselves in times of crisis, precisely the time they will need to defend themselves.

The Governor is saying, in essence, we can't trust the citizens (who grant to the Governor all the authority he possesses) in times of crisis and we must assume that citizens will exhibit behavior at the lowest common denominator.

This is extremely disturbing and must not be allowed to stand. This is unimaginable arrogance.

Link

Gloves off at the (NY) Capitol

All of the power, authority, and money that government possesses is delegated by individual sovereign citizens. Have we handed too much of our power and authority to government???

Link

During the clash, Bruno, a Brunswick Republican, said Spitzer's Democratic ally, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, is "so far up (the governor's posterior) he can't see," according to several sources.

Both sides confirmed the altercation, which occurred in Spitzer's office on the Capitol's second floor, but refused to say exactly what was said or what had sparked the exchange.

More Spending Won't Fix Education

Link

A massive and much-anticipated study by Stanford researchers says that the state's education system is fundamentally broken and that additional funding alone won't assure that students learn to read, write and calculate at grade-level.

Systemic reform, in addition to more money, is necessary in order for all students to achieve the academic expectations California has set for its 6.3 million public school students, researchers found. Those changes should cover everything from how the state directs money to districts to how it collects data on student performance to what training it requires of teachers and the ability of principals to hire and fire school staff, the report says.


Swiss Overwhelmingly Reject Healthcare Welfare


Link

"On Sunday the Swiss people voted overwhelmingly to reject a Single Payer system. But there has been not a word about it in the American press – other than a single paragraph in the trade publication Business Insurance …

If the vote had gone the other way – if the Swiss had embraced Single Payer – it would have been front page news in every newspaper in the United States, it would have been a lead story in every broadcast. Reporters would have booked flights to Geneva to interview citizens and political leaders …

This provides a sobering example of why public policy goes so wrong in the United States. The public is informed of only one side of the story. Reporters and editors are biased in favor of government intervention and against free markets. They are part of a privileged elite who think consumers are incapable of making sound decisions and intelligent choices."

GarageGate in Memphis-Bad Deal from start


Link

The report shows the deal the city made to get that money in the first place. A deal never should have been cut, because a deal made with the Grizzlies more than a year earlier would have made it obsolete.

Former City Attorney Robert Spence cut the deal.

The Garage Gate scandal controversy got a lot of attention because local leaders like former Commissioner John Willingham worried arena planners were mis-using the money and not telling the public.

"I believe it was premeditated fraud with the malice of forethought," says John Willingham, former County Commissioner. " The point is if they lied then they need to be indicted," adds Willingham.

To date, no one has faced criminal charges, and this report does not suggest any.


OpenCongress.org-Great Resource

www.OpenCongress.org

Here are the sections for each of our Reps and Senators. You can use your RSS news reader to subscribe to each member's news.

Marsha Blackburn

Steve Cohen

Jim Cooper

David Davis

Lincoln Davis

John Duncan

Bart Gordon

John Tanner

Zach Wamp


Lamar Alexander

Bob Corker

Gov Bredesen pushing for Gas Tax Hike

The cigarette tax increase is only the beginning. Rep. Campfield says the Governor is now turning up the heat for a Gas Tax Hike.

Link

Marriage Proposals Gone Wrong Video Contest


Link

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

NY State Forced to reveal Corporate Welfare


Link

For the first time, the state Department of Economic Development this week was forced to tell taxpayers how much 9,667 projects claimed in tax breaks. The program has grown from $30 million in 2000 to an estimated $558 million this year.

The state kept the dollar amounts secret for years, even as the public and state legislators questioned how some of the state's oldest companies managed to get into a program meant for new businesses. The state said it needed to protect trade secrets.


Marshall Commissioners violate Sunshine Law

Do you think the $50 fine (proposed in last year's failed bill to improve open meetings laws) would have made these commissioners think twice about such an obvious violation of the Sunshine law? Of course it would have. But lobbyists for county commissioners and county mayors helped defeat the law!!!!!

Link

Hell NO I won't go-Chinese style

Link

Club for Growth Rankings

TN House Delegation Rankings The last number is the score and next to last number is the rank. Marsha Blackburn and Jimmy Duncan, as usual, rank very well. The Club for Growth rank indicates how strongly the member feels about low taxes and pro-growth policies. Both Senators Alexander and Frist also rank fairly high.

Link

TN 7 R Blackburn 11 88

TN 2 R Duncan 27 82

TN 3 R Wamp 129 53

TN 1 R Jenkins 150 51

TN 4 D Davis 212 40

TN 8 D Tanner 231 33

TN 6 D Gordon 242 29

TN 9 D Ford 246 27

TN 5 D Cooper 267 19


TN Senate delegation rankings.

Link

TN R Alexander 26 78

TN R Frist 32 73

Schooled by 'American Idol'

I heartily agree with this interpretation of the popularity of American Idol. American children desperately long for parents and mentors and teachers who believe they are worthy of high expectations.

Link

We might think that Americans are eager to celebrate talented young people who can thumb their noses at the older generation and thus exorcise the lingering resentment so many harbor from being graded and evaluated in the classroom. But what American Idol reveals instead is a veritable hunger for realistic evaluation. Time and time again, contestants in the early episodes of this year's season whine obviously off key and then insist they are highly talented — in spite of the judges' protestations. Most of those kids have not learned how to sing, but they have mastered the self-esteem and "attitude" so valued in our culture. The persistent dynamic of these episodes is expertise putting down untalented braggadocio.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blount County Taxpayer Groups Going Strong

Thanks to Linda King for having me over to speak last night. HERE is the KNS coverage. Linda King's group, Citizens for Blount County's Future and Jim Folts' group, Citizens for Better Government, are models for taxpayers who want to make a difference. There are many people within city and county governments who advocate for the needs of local government budget.

Linda and Jim's groups advocate for the family budget. A tax hike is a pay cut and our elected officials need to hear from taxpayers about whether they BOTH willing and able to bear the burden of tax increases.

Jim has put together a very informative web site:

Ruh-Roh: Alligator near Chattanooga


Link

Ala Poll: 73% oppose legislative pay raise


Link

The Alabama Legislature has voted to increase members' salaries by about 60%. Legislators will now earn $49,500 a year. Do you think the legislators should? Or should not? Receive this pay raise?

22% Should
73% Should Not
5% Not Sure

Oops...$300 mil mistake in Calif

Link

SACRAMENTO — A series of accounting blunders in a state program that provides mental health services to children has resulted in a $300-million blow to the California budget, the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledged Monday.

Officials at the Department of Mental Health told a state Senate panel that they thought they had money to cover their bills when in fact it had been appropriated for other uses under a new accounting practice.

The department also drastically underestimated the number of families it would serve this year — leaving it short tens of millions of dollars — and double-billed the federal government for some services and now must repay those funds.

"We are committed to doing a better job," said Stephen Mayberg, director of the Mental Health Department.

At a hearing Monday, legislators expressed bewilderment at the scope of financial mismanagement.

Guess who is exempt from FOIA?

Link

WASHINGTON — Congress members routinely herald the Freedom of Information Act as a pry bar for the press and public to lift the lid on secretive government operations, sometimes exposing fraud and always buttressing the spirit of transparency.

That agent of access, however, is stopped at the doors of Congress — which exempted itself from the very law it passed 41 years ago to keep the executive branch in check.

As federal agencies labor to respond to thousands of requests for documents each year, Congress returns none.


No E-Mail Fridays Transform Office

Link

But many in business now worry this tool for easy communication is actually making it harder to communicate.

"Some [e-mails] are very valuable, and some of them are just an excuse not to communicate or to protect myself from something that's going on," said Jay Ellison, executive vice president at Chicago-based U.S. Cellular.


Top 1% pay 36.9% of Income taxes

Link

Individual Income Tax Rates and Shares, 2004

by Kyle Mudry and Justin Bryan
For Tax Year 2004, taxpayers filed 132.2 million returns,
of which 89.1 million (or 67.4 percent) were classified
as taxable returns. This represents an increase
of 0.2 percent in the number of taxable returns from
Tax Year 2003. Adjusted gross income (AGI) on these
taxable returns rose 9.0 percent to $6,266 billion, while
total income tax showed the first increase in 4 years,
rising 11.2 percent. Also, for the first time in 4 years,
the average tax rate for taxable returns rose, increasing
0.3 percentage points to 13.3 percent for 2004. The
top 1.0 percent of taxpayers had an AGI of at least
$328,049, up from $295,495 for 2003. These taxpayers
accounted for 19.0 percent of total AGI, representing an
increase in income share of 2.2 percentage points from
the previous year. These taxpayers accounted for 36.9
percent of the total income tax reported, an increase
from 34.3 percent in 2003.

107 year-old blogger

Link

Govt exempt from Lobbyist gift Ban

Link

Public-sector lobbyists lavish gifts on congressmen and their staffers. The scandal is it's perfectly legal.

Congrats to Bill Schramm and Citizens Oak Ridge

Link

petition organizers appear to be well on their way to forcing a June 5 referendum election on whether the city should help finance the $65 million retail project on Pine Ridge.

On Monday, the organizers delivered to Oak Ridge City Clerk Jackie Bernard what they said were 476 petition pages containing 3,172 signatures, significantly more than they might need.

[...]

Monday's delivery was the first installment of petition signatures, said Bill Schramm, Citizens Oak Ridge president. The group was still collecting signatures through Monday night, and they planned to deliver the second installment of petition pages this afternoon, Schramm said.

The referendum for which they are campaigning would allow Oak Ridge residents to vote on whether the city should borrow up to $6 million in general obligation bonds to help cover Crestpointe site-preparation and infrastructure costs.


Quote of the Day

Link

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."

Healthcare Resources Web links

Another great collection of web links from Marcus Zillman, this one on Healthcare, very comprehensive;

www.healthcareresources.info

Tennessee Tourism video for prisoners


Link

The goal of the video, which airs daily in the California prison system, is to get inmates to agree to be transferred to Tennessee.

"If they know what we know now, that system would be emptied out," one unidentified California inmate says on the video.

The first runs of the video, made soon after the first group of volunteer inmates landed in Tennessee, attracted far fewer inmates than officials anticipated. State prison officials hoped that 2,260 inmates would volunteer for the transfers, but just 460 inmates volunteered. So far, 360 have been moved to prisons in Arizona and Tennessee.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Market Jitters: Good-Economist Robert Samuelson

Distributed information means distributed power which means efficient markets. Technological change and economic power shift so quickly nowadays that pompous, arrogant, self-aggrandizing politicians are always behind the curve and are shooting their regulatory guns at targets that are moving way too fast for them to get a hit.

Link

For Americans, what's curious is that people seem to feel more economically insecure even though the economy has become more stable. Since 1982, there have been only two recessions, lasting 16 months. In the past 10 years, unemployment has averaged 4.9 percent; in the 1970s, the average was 6.2 percent. Yet in 2006, only about half of workers were satisfied with their job security, reports a poll from the Conference Board. In 1987, when unemployment was higher, about 60 percent were satisfied.

One explanation of the paradox is that the uncertainties and insecurities that assault workers, investors and firms actually foster overall economic stability. There are constant upsets -- business expansions and closures; greater competition from emerging technologies and foreign economies; shifting prices for stocks and bonds. These put people on edge. But many small adjustments may smooth out the business cycle. They may minimize deep recessions, stock crashes and panics.



Carter County Petition to Repeal Sales Tax

A very, very sad day for Tennessee Taxpayers and the rule of law.

Tennessee law requires all local option sales tax increases to be approved by the people in a referendum. Many Tennessee citizens are not aware that they can also petition to reduce or eliminate the local option sales tax (the 0-2.75% of the sale tax above the State's 7%). My guess is that many elected officials are not even aware of this law.


Three years ago, in March of 2004 Sam McKinney and Ralph Potter did just that. They gathered signatures on a petition to put the elimination of the Carter County local option sales tax on the ballot so local voters could vote to retain or eliminate the tax. They gathered 5,365 signatures. Only 3,015 were needed so they were confident they had enough.

It was not to be, the local election commission said they were 100 signatures short. Ralph and Sam smelled a rat and asked to see the signatures that were thrown out. They got the list and called many of the signers. Many people they contacted said they did, in fact, sign the petition. Sam and Ralph got approx 10% of those whose signatures were rejected to sign an affidavit saying they had signed the petition.

Ralph and Sam appealed the decision but last week a judge threw out their case saying, essentially, that the right to petition was only a right to complain and that the election commission had absolute authority in determining whose signatures were valid. It's is a very sad day for Tennessee taxpayers and the rule of law. Below is Sam McKinney's summary of the events that lead to the decision (click HERE for full size doc):

Fla Gov Crist takes lead on Open Records


Link

"I feel very strongly about it because it is their government. They paid for it, they elected it, they supported it and they have a right to know how it's working for them," Crist said. "Florida's the national leader with this stuff. It's great! We are the Sunshine State and we let the sunshine in to our government like no other state in our country."

As part of Crist's order creating the Office of Open Government, state agencies under his control must designated someone to oversee public records requests and ensure the agency complies with Sunshine laws. He directed that records requests be filled quickly and completely.

"You couldn't get us to say anything bad about Gov. Crist right now," said Adria Harper, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, an open government watchdog group. "He's showing that this is a serious priority and he has a huge commitment to open government. It's certainly a great thing for us."

Open Records in Tennessee are NOT

And the reason is that our elected representatives are blocking reform. Senators Haynes and McNally are chairs of a committee that has put off any recommendations for a year. County Commissioners and County Mayors are fighting tooth and nail against more public access to public records.

Here is the link to the Tennessean series


This is a quote from just one reader:

In my county, the odds of hitting it big in the lottery are much better than getting public records. Citizens have been fighting an ongoing battle for years to get access, and are not much closer today than 20 years ago.

One of the problems is that the law comes with no penalty to the person denying the records. It is easy enough to feign ignorance of the law, and be successful doing so. The day our officials change the law so that refusal comes with the price of court costs and attorney fees from the pocket of those who refuse to obey the law will be the day that we see a big improvement in the open records law.

Until that day, we can expect more corruption and under the table deals. If officials are doing their jobs honestly and above board, there would be no reason to deny access to anything. To restore the public's trust in government, start with demanding we see that there is nothing to hide.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Twice as many conservatives as liberals?


Link

French Truffles in Tennessee? Yup!


Link

In a breakthrough that could one day make an American-grown Périgord truffle as ubiquitous worldwide as the Big Mac, Mr Michaels has produced his first crop of the pungent nodules in his orchard, deep in rural Tennessee.

Seven years after planting acres of hazelnut trees impregnated with the spores of Tuber melanosporum, the 59-year-old scientist discovered just a few weeks ago that his experiment had finally born fruit. Recalling the moment of discovery, he said "I was jumping around yelling 'Eureka'."

Mr Michaels estimates that his first crop of Périgord truffles could weigh as much as 150lb. With French truffles currently priced at around £850 per pound, he is sitting on a potential gold mine worth at least £120,000.

Confirmation that the truffle was the real thing came later in the kitchen of the famed French chef Daniel Boulud, whose eponymous restaurant in Manhattan boasts two Michelin stars.


TN County commissioners fight open govt

This is sickening. The County Commissioners Association continues to fight efforts to improve the open meetings law. These are elected officials that are supposed to represent the people but they hire a lobbyist to fight AGAINST the interests of the people and AGAINST open, accountable government.

Link

(Frank) Gibson (Head of the www.tcog.info/) said the Tennessee County Commissioners Association would like to remove the word "deliberating" from the law, a move he opposes.

"It's one of the strongest parts of the Tennessee law," he said. "It protects against deal-making by small groups of elected officials, where decisions get made before they go into a meeting."

Doug Goddard, executive director of the county commissioners association, said the governor should wait on the study committee before creating an open records ombudsman.

"We haven't studied the issue," Goddard said. "I don't think we need to jump ahead of the committee."


Senate GOP and Gov at an Impasse?

Hank Hayes from the Kingsport Times-News:

Link

Bredesen also acknowledged that lawmakers really aren't engaged in the budget process yet.

"I'm a little disappointed, I have to be honest, to the extent to which the Republicans have been unable to get beyond giving each other high-fives for having gotten control of the Senate and kind of move on to doing some things and really governing," he said. "I certainly hope the Republican legacy for this session is not keeping money out of local school systems, and I am certainly going to make that point to them every time I possibly can."


Entrepreneur Bedouins: SanFran Coffee Houses

The creative, entrepreneurial, independent spirit lives in San Francisco Coffee Houses.

Link

San Francisco's bedouins see themselves changing the nature of the workplace, if not the world at large. They see large companies like General Motors laying off workers, contributing to insecurity. And at the same time, they see the Internet providing the tools to start companies on the cheap. In the Bedouin lifestyle, they are free to make their own rules.

"The San Francisco coffeehouse is the new Palo Alto garage," declares Kevin Burton, 30, who runs his Internet startup Tailrank without renting offices. "It's where all the innovation is happening."


Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Book that Changed the World


Link

Adam Smith's book "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the The Weath of Nations" was published 231 years ago yesterday (March 9, 1776). What were its main contributions? A good summary is presented by the Adam Smith Insititue blog:

1. It pinpointed specialization and trade as the basis of economic efficiency and growth.

2. It explained the importance of capital accumulation for future income – and the need to conserve and manage capital, and to secure it from the ravages of prodigals, thieves and governments.

3. It showed how competition provided the best deal for customers by keeping prices down and quality up.

4. It demonstrated how the price system automatically pulled resources to their best use.

5. It railed against high and arbitrary taxation.

6. It exposed the counterproductive nature of government interventions in markets and trade.

Bottom Line: "It not only changed our thinking. It changed the world."