Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dunwoody Village Parkway

Dunwoody Parkway by Rick Callihan

Lots of out parcels along Dunwoody Parkway.  With a new road the city could  see some  new businesses pop up

Back in FarmHouser glory days, Dunwoody Parkway was planned to be a bypass of sorts Tonight Dunwoody's city council will discuss the Dunwoody Parkway project.   I'm confident something will get done here, it's just a matter of what.

First order of business is the question of whether or not the city should  even be spending any money here.  I've read where some people think there  are higher priorities.  Well, city business is always a mix of high and low  priorities.  Every couple of meetings the city has some proclamation  honoring someone.  Are these important?  Will the city crumple and die if  we stopped these?  No.  But it's part of what government does.  How about  20 minutes at a council to swear in a new police officer? Could that be done in a back closet on a Wednesday morning?

Project Renaissance in Georgetown?  That was not on the radar a year ago.  Why couldn't the city let the PVC 16 acre parcel just sit empty for a few years?  It wasn't hurting anybody as a field of weeds.  Did the city's Park and Rec department really need to sponsor a movie at Brook Run?  One could go down a list of the past 100 actions of the city and conclude that over half were not critical actions.

One could take it a step further and say the city should sell all the parks in Dunwoody and cut ties to all the non-profits, sell the 

Banister-Chesnut-Whatever farm house for scrap lumber, and eliminate our marketing department (that last one is actually not a bad idea).

While the city has its shares of traffic issues, I don't think the city 

government exists only to deal with roads, police, and zoning.  The role of local government is diverse.  But that doesn't mean taxpayer money needs to be used to build new infrastructure all over the place to try to spur growth.

Now let's assume a majority of council members agrees to accept matching funds and make improvements to Dunwoody Parkway.  There are two issues to discuss:

1.  Bike Lanes

Future plans call for 5 foot wide bike lanes on the major roads Mt Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody.  These bike lanes will provide ample routes for bikers in Dunwoody.  We know local car traffic uses Dunwoody Parkway as a cut through - do bikers need a cut through?  Or, are the bike lanes the final segment needed to connect neighborhoods to destinations?  Do we need two five-foot bike lanes on this road?

2. The Median

Should the median be saved or dismantled?  I'm not a fan of the current median.  I think it hinders visibility on a road with so many driveways.

There are three options to discuss tonight.  No way will this thing be a 7-0 vote.  Lines have been drawn in the sand by some.  And maybe one council member will now vote 'no' on everything proposed by the mayor and city manager.

For those on council they need to ask themselves, "Is this project a good idea for the residents of Dunwoody?"  "Will this project benefit homeowners and business owners?"
Source: Dunwoody Talk Blog, Rick Callihan, Posted: 27 Aug 2012 07:15 AM PDT


Rick, I totally agree with your observations. I would like to see less ceremony and more common sense in government at all levels. I think the protocol we use is too arrogant and our ceremonies lead to air-borne platitudes that may be the real cause of Arctic ice cap melting.

Further, I think Dunwoody Parkway is a low priority project.  If we ever get out of this recession, keeping it as a road at all should be debated as part of a re-look at the Dunwoody Village “master plan”. 

I would wait for the property owners to offer their own plans based on actual market demand.  That requires some flexibility. Larger tenants often come in and build their own buildings according to their own specifications like Publix, Walgreens and CVS.  That’s zoning in the real world.
If the tree roots in the median are truly undermining the road, they should go.  At least that part of an upgrade would be done. I also see no need for a median to exist on Dunwoody Village Parkway, but timing to remove it should be part of any upgrades in that part of the Village. In most places, it would be part of the parking lot.
A real priority is adding turn lanes on Mt Vernon to relieve some commuter congestion.  This shouldn’t cost the $12 million, but would bust the current budget.  The next priority is upgrading the intersection at Mt. Vernon Rd and Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.

Back to you Rick…

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody Ga Tea party Leader



Friday, August 24, 2012

Regionalism: Spreading Fiscal Irresponsibility

Stanley Kurtz's new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities describes political forces closely tied to President Obama who have pursued an agenda to destroy the suburbs for many years. He expresses concern that a second Obama term will be marked by an intensification of efforts to destroy the suburbs through eviscerating their independence thought the imposition of "regionalism". The threat, however, long predates the Obama administration and has, at least in some cases, been supported by Republicans as well as by Democrats.
America is a suburban nation. Nearly three-quarters of the residents of major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 population) live in suburbs, most in smaller local government jurisdictions. Further, outside the largest metropolitan areas most people live in suburbs, smaller towns or smaller local government jurisdictions.
Smart Growth
The anti-suburban agenda has more than one dimension. The best known is smart growth, known by a variety of labels, such as compact development, growth management, urban consolidation, etc. Smart growth, from our research, also is associated with higher housing prices, a lower standard of living, greater traffic congestion and health threats from more intense local air pollution.
Another, less well-known anti-suburban strategy is regionalism, to which Kurtz grants considerable attention. Regionalism includes two principal strains, local government amalgamation and metropolitan tax sharing. Both of these strategies are aimed at transferring tax funding from suburban local governments to larger core area governments.
Social welfare and differing income levels are not an issue at this level of government. Local governments, cities, towns, villages, boroughs and townships, finance local services principally with their own local taxes. The programs aimed at social welfare or providing income support are generally administered and financed at the federal, state or regional (county) level. Any suggestion that local suburban jurisdictions are subsidized by core local governments simply reveals a basic unfamiliarity with US municipal finance.
Local Government Amalgamation
Opponents of the suburbs have long favored amalgamating local governments (such as cities, towns, villages, boroughs and townships). There are two principal justifications. One suggests "economies of scale" --- the idea that larger local government jurisdictions are more efficient than smaller governments, and that, as a result, taxpayers will save. The second justification infers that a larger tax base, including former suburbs, will make additional money available to former core cities, which are routinely characterized as having insufficient revenues to pay for their services. Both rationales are without foundation.
Proponents of amalgamation incessantly refer to the large number of local governments in some states, implying that this is less efficient. The late Elinor Ostrum put that illusion to rest in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in economics in 2009:
Scholars criticized the number of government agencies rather than trying to understand why created and how they performed. Maps showing many governments in a metropolitan area were used as evidence for the need to consolidate.
The reality is that there is a single measure of efficiency: spending per capita. Here there is a strong relationship between smaller local government units and lower taxes and spending. Our review of local government finances in four states (PennsylvaniaNew YorkIndiana and Illinois) indicates that larger local governments tend to be  less efficient, not more. Moreover, the same smaller is more efficient dynamic is evident in both metropolitan areas as well as outside. "Smaller is better" is also evident at the national level

Yet the "bigger is better" faith in local government amalgamation remains compelling to many from   both the Right and Left. Proponents claim that smaller local governments are obsolete, characterizing them as being from the horse-and-buggy era. The same logic could be used to eliminate county and even state governments. However, democracy remains a timeless value. If people lose control of their governments to special interests (which rarely, if ever, lobby for less spending), then democracy is lost, though the word will still be invoked.
Support of local government amalgamation arises from a misunderstanding of economics, politics and incentives (or perhaps worse, contempt for citizen control). When two jurisdictions merge, everything is leveled up, from labor costs to service levels. The labor contracts, for example, will reflect the wage, benefit and time off characteristics of the more expensive community, as the Toronto "megacity" learned to its detriment.
Further, special interests have more power in larger jurisdictions, not least because they are needed to finance the election campaigns of elected officials, who always want to win the next election. They are also far more able to attend meetings – sending paid representatives – than local groups. This is particularly true the larger the metropolitan area covered, since meeting are usually held in the core of urban area not in areas further on the periphery. This greater influence to organized and well-funded special interests – such as big real estate developers, environmental groups, public employee unions – and drains the influence of the local grassroots. The result is that voters have less influence and that they can lose financial control of larger local governments. The only economies of scale in larger local government benefit lobbyists and special interests, not taxpayers or residents.
Regional Tax Sharing
Usually stymied by the electorate in their attempts to amalgamate local governments, regional proponents often make municipal tax sharing a priority. The idea is that suburban jurisdictions should send some of their tax money to the core jurisdictions to make up for the claimed financial shortages of older cities. Yet this ignores the fact, as Figure 1 indicates, that larger jurisdictions generally spend more per capita already and generally tax more, as our state reports cited above indicate. Larger jurisdictions also tend to receive more in state and federal aid per capita.  A principal reason is that the labor costs tend to be materially higher in larger jurisdictions. In addition to paying well above market employee compensation, many larger jurisdictions have burdened themselves with pension liabilities and post employment health benefits that are well above what their constituencies can afford. The regionalist solution is not to bring core government costs in line with suburban levels but force the periphery to help subsidize their out of control costs.
Howard Husock, of Harvard University's JFK School of Government (now at the Manhattan Institute) and I were asked to evaluate a tax sharing a plan put forward by former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk for Kalamazoo County, Michigan (The Kalamazoo Compact) more than a decade ago. Our report (Keeping Kalamazoo Competitive)found no justification for the suburban areas and townships of Kalamazoo County to share their tax bases with the core city of Kalamazoo. The city already spent substantially more per capita, received more state aid per capita and had failed to take advantage of opportunities to improve its efficiency (that is, lower the costs of service without reducing services).  We concluded that the "struggling" core city had a spending problem, not a revenue problem. To the credit of the electorate of Kalamazoo County, the tax sharing proposal is gathering dust, having been made impractical by suburban resistance.
Spreading the Financial Irresponsibility
The wanton spending that has gotten many larger core jurisdictions into trouble should not have occurred. The core cities are often struggling because their political leadership has "given away the store," behavior that does not warrant rewarding. Elected officials in the larger jurisdictions had no business, for example, allowing labor costs to become higher than necessary or granting rich pension benefits paid for by private sector employees (taxpayers), most of whom  enjoy only  much more modest pension programs, if at all (See note below).
The voters are no match for the spending interests with more efficient access to City Hall. The incentives in such larger jurisdictions are skewed against fiscal responsibility and the interests of taxpayers. Making an even larger pool of tax revenues available can only make things worse.
At the same time, the smaller, suburban jurisdictions around the nation are often the bright spot in an environment of excessive federal, state and larger municipal government spending. Their governments, close to the people, are the only defense against the kind of beggar-the-kids-future spending that has already captured the federal government, state governments and some larger local jurisdictions.
Either Way the Threat is Very Real
Even if President Obama is not re-elected or if a second Obama Administration does not pursue the anti-suburban agenda, the threat to the suburbs will remain very real. This is not just about the suburbs, and it is certainly not some secret conspiracy. What opposing regionalism means is the preservation of what is often the last vestige of fiscal responsibility. It is not that the elected officials in smaller  jurisdictions are better or that the electorate is better. The superior performance stems from the reality that smaller governments are closer to the people, and decision-making tends more to reflect their interests more faithfully than in a larger jurisdictions.
Note: A report by the Pew Charitable Trusts (Promises with a Priceindicated that "... in general, the private sector never offered the level of benefits that have been traditionally available in the public sector." The report further indicated that 90 percent of state and local government retirees are covered by the more expensive defined benefit pension programs, compared to 20 percent in the private sector. The median annual pension in the state and local government sector was cited at 130 percent higher than in the private sector. While 82 percent of state and local government retirees are covered by post-employment medical benefits, the figure is 33 percent in the private sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after accounting for the one-third higher wages per hour worked among state and local government workers, employer contribution to retirement and savings is 160 percent higher than in the private sector (March 2012). A just published Pew Center on the States report (The Widening Gap Update) indicates that states are $1.3 trillion short of the funding required to pay the pension and post employment medical benefits of employees. This does not include programs administered by local governments.
Source: New Geography, Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Taxpayer questions $800 thousand to beautify bridge  by Jerry Carnes

MARIETTA, Ga - A federal grant will pay for $800 thousand dollars to give a Cobb County bridge a makeover, and one Cobb County resident believes it's a misuse of his tax dollars.

Ron Sifen believes the Cumberland Boulevard bridge over I-75 is just fine the way it is.
"It's a good bridge," said Sifen. "I think what is here functions well."

According to their application for federal funds, The Cumberland Community Improvement District wants to turn the bridge into an "attractive gateway into Cobb County."

"Aesthetic improvements are an important part of any community," said Tad Leithead, Chairman of the Cumberland CID. "If you visit any of the great cities of the world, they're beautiful. I think people like to be in an aesthetically pleasing environment."

Leithead said among other enhancements, the CID wants to add decorative lighting, benches, and decorative signage to the bridge. According to the application for federal funds, the plans call for replacement of the chain link fencing along the bridge with "a more maintenance free, structurally superior and attractive material."

The total cost of the project is a million dollars. Leithead says the CID will pay $200 thousand of that with money raised from 180 businesses and property owners in the area that agreed to a voluntary tax.

The rest, $800 thousand, will come from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant from its Transportation Enhancement program . That's where Sifen has a problem.

"The CID is just taking advantage of what Washington is making available," said Sifen. "But I don't think Washington should be making big pots of money available for decorating bridges."

After 11Alive posed questions to the Cumberland CID, Chairman Leithead called 11Alive reporter Jerry Carnes from his vacation.

Leithead insists his organization was willing to pay the entire beautification bill without taxpayer dollars until they discovered and were awarded the $800 thousand federal grant.

"We didn't encourage the federal government to provide this grant," said Leithead. "We just applied when it became available, so apparently the federal government also believes that investment in the beautification of communities is worthwhile.

"We were able to procure those funds as opposed to losing them to another part of the region," Leithead added. "We brought these taxes back home.

Leithead says while the thrust of the project is beautification the lighting will provide a safety element for the bridge. The project is still in the planning stages.

Source: 11 Alive Waste Watchers "Waste Watchers: Taxpayer questions $800 thousand to 
beautify bridge"


Monday, August 20, 2012

Advice for November

A friend sent this to me, it puts the federal budget in a much better perspective.  This rather brilliantly cuts thru all the political doublespeak we get.  You will enjoy this.
Lesson # 1:

U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000

Fed budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
Annual family income: $ 21,700

Money the family spent: $ 38,200

New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500

Balance on the credit card: $142,710

Total budget cuts: $ 385

Got It ?????

OK, now Lesson # 2:
Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let's say you come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood....and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ......

Raise the ceilings, or pump out the crap?

Your choice is coming Nov. 2012.
Bob Hickey

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Greenies Dismissed !

Green Committee Despairs?   CO2 Emissions in the US Have Dropped to a 20-Year Low

Now here is a rather astonishing conundrum. How exactly do you carry out your mission to save the nation from something it apparently has already saved itself from, and without your help? And while you were holding 20 some-odd meetings trying to figure out what the word "sustainable" might actually mean, the very reasons for your governmental existence could have gone up in, well, not in smoke?
While the City of Sierra Madre struggles with the question of whether or not to make a Commission out of the Green Committee, or simply allow it to term out and go away, the actual reasons for the existence of this entirely unhappy situation might very well have vanished into thin air. Literally.

But before we step forward, we're going to have to step back. All the way back to December 5, 2007. That is when the State of California wrote its now legendary Integrated Energy Policy Report on AB32, also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act. Read deeply into this crusty cup of unfiltered governmental effluence:

California's vibrant economy is dependent on reliable and affordable supplies of energy. Yet, fossil-based energy produces greenhouse gases that are the primary contributors to climate change. California's challenge, like that of the rest of the developed world, is how to maintain its growth and vitality while decreasing its contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Responding to this challenge, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California Legislature placed reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the center of their agendas. Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), mandates that California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

This law, later coupled with its evil twin, SB 375, is now in its enactment phase. Which means that Sacramento, with the assistance of the usual useful local idiots that support whatever they want no matter how destructive, is attempting to force cities such as ours to plan for far higher density development than it has now. Which includes, and for the most specious of reasons, large amounts of the kind of stack and pack mixed-use development that was rejected here by the voters of Sierra Madre in 2007 when they passed Measure V.

But here is a rather amazing piece of news. Apparently the goal of reducing "greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020" has already been achieved. And it was done (to put it into SB 375 terms) without our building a high density transit village in downtown Sierra Madre, or anybody being forced out of their cars and either onto a bus or reduced to just walking. This from The Association Press.

AP Impact: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low - In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas had led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier burning coal.

Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

In a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. Energy emissions make up about 98 percent of the total. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.

While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.

A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast's Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from $7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced. As a result, utilities are relying more than ever on gas-fired generating plants.
So there you go. The call for greenhouse gas reduction to 1990 levels demanded in Arnold's beloved AB 32, the so-called California Global Warming Solutions Act, turned out to be unnecessary after all. It has been achieved 8 years ahead of schedule. And rather than this all being coerced through draconian laws and mass behavioral modification efforts by the government, it was achieved through natural market forces. It came about because new energy drilling technology has made the use of natural gas cheaper than coal.

Which means we don't need an AB 32, or an SB 375 or, for that matter, the Green Committee and its call for transit village style development in downtown Sierra Madre. You can still drive your car and live in a single family home free from having to worry about whether or not you are a climate criminal.
So Josh? Can you please tell us why we still need the Green Committee? Particularly since it looks like we've already achieved its most prominent goals? Including the big one?
Posted by The Moderator at 6:00 AM FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2012

Tea party evolves, achieves state policy victories

ATLANTA — Tea party activists in Georgia helped kill a proposed sales tax increase that would have raised billions of dollars for transportation projects. In Pennsylvania, tea partyers pushed to have taxpayers send public school children to private schools. In Ohio, they drove a referendum to block state health insurance mandates.

These and other battles are evidence of the latest phase of the conservative movement, influencing state and local policy, perhaps more effectively than on a national level. Tea party organizers are refocusing, sometimes without the party label, to build broader support for their initiatives. The strategy has produced victories that activists say prove their staying power.

"I call it Tea Party 2.0," said Amy Kremer, a Delta flight attendant who leads Tea Party Express. The California-based group, co-founded by GOP strategist Sal Russo, claims it's the largest tea party political action committee.

The movement first showed its strength in Washington in 2009 as an umbrella for voters angry over President George W. Bush's Wall Street rescue and President Barack Obama's stimulus package and auto manufacturer bailout, as well as the health care debate.

The tea party has helped elect members of the House, but they've contributed to the stalemate on Capitol Hill. No single Republican presidential candidate captured tea partyers' wholehearted support, despite angst over Mitt Romney and his moderate record while Massachusetts governor. Without a clear rival, Romney, author of the state health care overhaul that served as a model for Obama's, emerged from a crowded field to challenge the Democratic incumbent in November. Romney gave the hard right at least a symbolic win by announcing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a tea party hero, as his running mate Saturday.

"What we've been doing is maturing," Kremer said. "We are not out having rallies with all these signs with thousands of people. The work is happening on the ground."

In Georgia, anti-tax activists from tea parties and other conservative groups helped persuade voters across much of the state, including metro Atlanta, to reject a penny-per-dollar sales tax increase for transportation spending. The idea had support from the state's Republican governor and Atlanta's Democratic mayor.

Some tea party leaders established the Transportation Leadership Coalition to lead opposition. Separately, Debbie Dooley of the national Tea Party Patriots formed an unlikely alliance with the Sierra Club and local NAACP leaders. "We don't hesitate to reach out to Democrats or liberal groups when we agree on an issue, even if it's for different reasons," said Dooley, who is based in Georgia.

The opposition hired consultants, purchased state voter rolls, used social media and reached into Atlanta's Democratic strongholds, not the usual tea party territory, to ensure the referendum failed. The July 31 vote was as overwhelming across the Atlanta region as it was in most rural parts of Georgia.

Dooley said her alliance plans to ask Georgia legislators to remove spending restrictions on existing taxes for Atlanta's mass transit system. Separately, she has worked with left-leaning Common Cause to push for limits on what lobbyists spend on state lawmakers. They failed during the 2012 legislative session, but after Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved the idea in a nonbinding ballot question, the legislature's most powerful Republican says he's on board.

In Pennsylvania, the dominant conservative player in the school-choice debate, a cause dear to conservatives, was FreedomWorks, an initiative of former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and powerful conservative financiers. Gov. Tom Corbett on June 30 signed a law for student tuition grants that are paid for by businesses that, in return, receive state tax credits.

Ana Puig, the FreedomWorks state director, said she put 34,000 miles on her car building public support for the grants. She visited tea party groups and anyone else who would listen, while also using conventional lobbying of legislators.

After the fall elections, Puig said, FreedomWorks will push to raise the $50 million program cap to $100 million. The long-term goal is traditional tuition vouchers paid directly by state tax money. "Change happens slowly," Puig said. "We understand the value of incrementalism."

Activists in Ohio forced the ballot initiative on health care by gathering more than 400,000 signatures and hiring consultants to get 100,000 more. Chris Littleton, a former tea party organizer, led the effort without the tea party label. The measure prevailed 2-to-1, he said, partly because the tea party name didn't drive debate.

Littleton is now state director of American Majority. Founded by a former Bush aide, Ned Ryun, and financed by contributors, the organization trains conservative candidates and activists at the state and local level. Among Littleton's next projects is collecting signatures to force a referendum that would bar employees in Ohio from being required to join a union as a condition of the job.

All of that suggests political seasoning beyond a nascent protest.

Littleton said the best way to understand the landscape is not to think of the tea party that waved signs and shouted at members of Congress, but instead of a "liberty movement" that has evolved. "The original tea party didn't write the Declaration of Independence," Littleton said. "Everybody with a brain has abandoned protest as the means to accomplish policy."

The groups have had defeats and still face hurdles. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, a usual tea party ally, angered some conservatives by refusing deep cuts to public schools. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took on public employee unions and survived a recall election with tea party help, but spent considerable political energy merely to stay in office.

Kremer acknowledges that there always will be questions about the movement's grass-roots credentials, given its ties to traditional GOP players and financial support from big Republican donors. "You can provide money to buy people tools," Kremer said, "but you cannot buy their belief in something."

Florida tea party activist Everett Wilkinson said the loose network faces challenges because its philosophy is anti-centralization. "A large, top-down organization can come up with a single narrative," he said. "Being a grass-roots organization means we are all independent."

But, Georgia's Dooley said, "We are going to keep on with our agenda. If elected officials tell us no, we will go around them. We are going to keep coming back and keep coming back."

Source: August 13, 2012

Arizona Blocks Tax Dollars for Illegal’s

Executive order from Governor Jan Brewer blocks IDs, benefits for illegal immigrants
PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday ordered state agencies to deny driver's licenses and other public benefits to young illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under a new Obama administration policy.
After the order was issued, supporters of the program and the DREAM Act took to the streets of Phoenix in protest. Video from Air15 showed the protesters carrying signs and walking down Central Avenue toward the State Capitol.
In an executive order, Brewer said she was reaffirming the intent of current Arizona law denying taxpayer-funded public benefits and state identification to illegal immigrants.

Young illegal immigrants around the nation on Wednesday began the process of applying for federal work permits under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The federal policy defers deportations for that group if they meet certain criteria, including arrival in the United States before they turned 16 and no convictions for certain crimes.
After President Barack Obama announced the policy change in June, Brewer labeled it "backdoor amnesty" and political pandering by the Democratic president.
Arizona has been in the vanguard of states enacting laws against illegal immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned parts of the Arizona enforcement law known as SB1070 but ruled that a key provision on requiring police to ask people about their immigration status under certain circumstances can be implemented.

The Obama administration challenged that law in 2010 after Brewer signed it into law. In the past decade, Arizona voters twice approved laws denying publicly funded services, such as in-state resident university tuition rates, to illegal immigrants unless mandated by the federal government.
Brewer's order said the policy's federal paperwork doesn't confer lawful status on illegal immigrants and won't entitle them to Arizona public benefits. However, it said the policy change "could result in some unlawfully present aliens inappropriately gaining access to public benefits contrary to the intent of Arizona voters and lawmakers who enacted laws expressly restricting access to taxpayer funded benefits and state identification." Brewer directed state agencies to start any necessary emergency rulemaking processes to implement her order.
Some protesters marched to the state Capitol on Wednesday night from the downtown Phoenix office of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. "We are saddened that Gov. Brewer is siding with the past, against progress, against young people and the general support the Dream Act has in the general population," Dulce Matuz, Arizona ADAC chairman, said in a statement. State Rep. Catherine Miranda, who supports the federal program, called Brewer's action mean-spirited. "She just continues to put obstacles in front of young people in Arizona," the Phoenix Democrat said.
Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said he questioned whether the order would have much practical effect under Arizona's current laws. But he said it served to demonize good kids who should be allowed to get state-issued identification and enter the workforce.
Arizona Democratic Party executive director Luis Heredia said Brewer's order "fails to move Arizona forward on immigration reform. This amounts to a gubernatorial temper tantrum."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona issued the following statement in response to Brewer’s executive order:
This is yet another reason why Arizona has no business trying to regulate immigration matters,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law. This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification.  She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false.  Not only is she singling out young people who are eligible for deferred action, but she also is excluding other categories of non-citizens who are authorized to be in the country, including victims of domestic violence, from obtaining state-identification while their immigration applications are being processed.
Source:  Tea Party Economist, from ABC News, By staff, wire reports August 15, 2012  Read more:


The Regulatory Cliff Is Nearly as Steep as the Fiscal One  by Rob Portman:
The president has postponed damaging rules until after the November election.
Americans are learning more about the "fiscal cliff" approaching at the beginning of next year, when tax rates for families and small businesses are set to spike and new taxes in President Obama's health-care spending law take effect. But unless there's real change in Washington, we're also headed for a steep "regulatory cliff" that could compound the damage.
After three years of bureaucratic excess, the Obama administration has been quietly postponing several multibillion-dollar regulations until after the November election. Those delayed rules, together with more than 130 unfinished mandates under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, could significantly increase the regulatory drag on our economy in 2013.

The Labor Department, for example, is working on a regulation that would increase the cost of retirement planning for middle-class workers, to "protect" them from free investment help. This regulation, known as the Fiduciary Rule, would tighten restrictions and increase litigation risks for businesses that offer investment guidance on a commission basis, rather than the more expensive fee-for-service model. A study last year by the Oliver Wyman Group found that the Fiduciary Rule could result in higher retirement account minimums and cause 7.2 million individual retirement account (IRA) holders to lose access to investment advice. Even the Labor Department was unable to show that the rule's illusory benefits outweigh its substantial costs.
After other lawmakers and I urged the White House to step in, this rule-making was delayed temporarily. But the Labor Department has told interested parties to stay tuned for another iteration of this rule.
Then there is the mega-rule on the shelf at the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) that could block business expansion in many areas of the country.
Proposed in 2010, the Ozone Rule would impose a limit on ozone (which creates haze from emissions from cars, power plants and factories) so strict that up to 85% of U.S. counties monitored by the EPA would be in violation. Susan Dudley, a regulatory economist at George Washington University who served in the previous administration, notes that this rule would force many communities "to forego productive investment and hiring decisions in order to spend hundreds of billions of dollars per year in vain attempts to meet unachievable standards."The EPA itself says the rule could impose up to $90 billion in yearly costs on manufacturers and other employers. Last September, after months of public outcry, the White House instructed the EPA to put the rule on ice until 2013, when it will be "revisited."  
Also on the Obama EPA's to-do list for 2013 is a new rule that its regulators admit could increase costs for energy consumers and others by as much as $4.5 billion per year, depending on how it's implemented. The rule targets equipment that power plants and manufacturing facilities use to draw in water to prevent overheating, even though those intake systems are not harmful to human health or water quality. Last year the EPA estimated that this new rule would cost $1 for every three cents in benefits. More recently, the EPA has proposed the use of public-opinion surveys with hypothetical scenarios that boost the alleged benefits of its proposed regulation by nearly 14,000%. This is another example of a major regulation put off until next year, ensuring that Americans won't learn about its effect on their electricity bills until after the election.
Consumers can also look forward to a new Department of Transportation rule that will increase the costs of new cars and trucks by mandating expensive new technology. First proposed in 2010, the Rear-View Camera Rule would require that all cars and trucks be equipped with a rear-view camera and video display on the dashboard, at a cost of some $2.7 billion to auto makers and car buyers. Americans who want this technology are free to buy it and more than 40% of new cars have it. We don't need a government mandate to drive up costs for families who need to economize. Not surprisingly, the administration delayed moving forward on this costly rule until after Dec. 31.
Next year will bring not only new rules but new regulators. The Independent Payment Advisory Board—a bureaucracy created by the president's health-care law—has vast authority over patient care and health markets, yet it is immune from the usual public input and review requirements that apply to other regulators. As the American Medical Association and others have pointed out, the board is charged with the contradictory mandate of cutting Medicare reimbursement rates to health-care providers, without reducing benefits or finding new ways to increase value. The result will be a technocratic body with almost unchecked power to limit access to care for Medicare patients.
According to a 2011 Gallup survey, overregulation tops the list of "most important problems" facing America's small-business owners. With our economy stuck in the worst jobs slump since the Great Depression, the pressing need is to build a regulatory climate that encourages investment, growth and job creation. Avoiding the coming regulatory cliff, like the fiscal cliff, will require new leadership at the top.

Source: Rob Portman:  Updated August 16, 2012, 7:42 p.m. ET
Mr. Portman, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Ohio.

The Fear Factor

The Fear Factor by Neal Ross
The final lines of the first stanza of our national anthem end with, " Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" Honestly, that is a good question. Don't misunderstand me, I am not accusing anyone of being a coward. However, could it be that we, as a nation in general, have lost the willingness to stand up; speak out; and possibly even fight, against tyranny, especially when it is our own government that has become tyrannical? Have we, as a nation, become so blinded by fear that we have allowed government to enact laws which deprive us of our most sacred and unalienable rights?

Have you ever seen a herd of stampeding cattle, or buffalo? In the face of danger they all follow each other in the general direction away from whatever it is that threatens them. It seems that as a nation there is that same herd mentality that allows our government to enact laws which restrict our rights, all under the guise of taking care of us, or making us more secure.

I know a good many people do not have the time, nor inclination, to spend researching the truth as to what is happening in this country. For the most part they rely upon the news media to provide them with enough facts to form, what they consider to be, an informed position regarding the issues. What if the owners of the media ensured that you only heard one side to every story, the side they wanted you to hear, and the side which coincided with any agenda they might have? If that were the case, would you honestly be making an informed decision, or would you find that you are being manipulated?
I don't know about anyone else, but as Patrick Henry said in his famous Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech, "For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." Therefore, if you were being lied to, or manipulated, by the media whom you had trusted to present you with all the facts, wouldn't you want to know about it?

In 1917 a United States Congressman, Oscar Calloway, made the following statement to the House of Representatives, " In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding, and powder interests, and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States, and a sufficient number of them, to control generally the policy of the daily press..They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers.

An agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper, to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature, considered vital to the interests of the purchasers." (emphasis added)

Since then, with the growth of broadcast news, these same people have expanded their control to that of the network news media as well. It does not matter if you watch NBC, CBS, FOX, or CNN, they own and control them all, thereby controlling what news you receive. Therefore, if you trust the news to give you the truth, you are being misled and fed the propaganda they want you to receive. In other words, your thoughts are being manipulated towards whatever desired goal they have in mind.

For instance, everyone knows about these recent shooting sprees in which people go on the rampage and kill dozens of innocent bystanders. Every single time that you hear about someone using a firearm on the news is when they use them in the commission of a crime.

Why is it that the news media refuses to report facts which support the fact that guns are used with far more frequency to prevent crime than they are used in the commission of a crime?

Did you know, that according to the National Safety Council, guns are used almost 2.5 million times a year in self-defense? That is 6,850 times a day people! Yet according to the same report the total number of firearm related deaths, including accidents, suicides, and homicides is only 30,000 per year, our roughly 82 times a day.

While I am in no way saying that the loss of 30,000 lives a year is not tragic, the point I am trying to make is that the news media is clearly on a campaign to promote the idea that gun violence is rampant and that the private ownership of firearms serves no legitimate purpose. In short, they are attempting to scare people in such a way as to weaken their resolve to stand up against infringements of  their Second Amendment right. Do you see the point I am trying to make here?

Let's look at one more example. On September 11, 2001 the United States suffered a tragic attack which caused the collapse of the Twin Towers, damage to the Pentagon, and the loss of United Airlines flight 93,killing 44 passengers. Whether or not the government knew about these attacks in advance, had any hand in them, or was completely caught off guard is irrelevant. What is relevant is the laws that have been passed in the aftermath of 9/11.

We have seen the growth of the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, as well as numerous laws, all of which, in some fashion, infringe upon nearly half of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights. Our phone calls, internet activity, bank accounts, and homes are all subject to unwarranted searches simply because some analyst somewhere might deem something we do, or say, as reasonable grounds for labeling us a suspected terrorist.

Every time we see a news report about a suspected, or thwarted terrorist attack it is closely followed by more intrusive searches upon ourselves, or the loss of more rights in our day to day affairs.

While I am not saying our government is behind all these acts, the idea that they might be is not completely unheard of. Author Robert Stinnett, in his book Day of Deceit, claims that Roosevelt knew in advance of the impending Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. Stinnett claims that Japanese codes had been broken prior to the attack and in one on the intercepts they found the following, "...the task force, keeping its movements strictly secret and maintaining close guard against submarines and aircraft, shall advance into Hawaiian waters, and upon the very opening of hostilities shall attack the main force of the United States fleet in Hawaii and deal it a mortal blow..."

While that may be speculation and conspiracy theory, the following is not. During the height of the Cold War, when John F. Kennedy was president, groups within the government proposed a series of false-flag attacks, under the code name Operation Northwoods. The idea was to stage a series of hijackings and bombings and then produce phony evidence which would implicate Cuba and create public support for war with Cuba. Part of the documents released to the public state, " The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere."

Although the plan was rejected by Kennedy, it sounds eerily similar to the same events which caused George Bush to make his declaration of total war on global terror. Not saying it happened that way, just saying that the idea never crossed the minds of our government. I merely want you to realize that even our government is capable of, at least, proposing attacks against US targets to sway public sentiment towards a specific goal.

Now you may have blown me off with my talk of conspiracy theories, but let me once again reiterate the point, that this nation's fear of the bogeyman terrorists has given their government all the excuses it needed to pass laws which, once again, deprive you of certain unalienable rights.

If people would just pay attention to what our founders said they would realize that James Madison warned us that things like this could happen, " It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

There is something Ben Franklin once said that people need to think about, " Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." How many of our rights have we given up because we have been afraid? How many more will we give up because we continue to be afraid?

Our government, and the media are guilty of fear mongering, something those within our government often accuse their 'so-called opponents' across the political aisle. Well I can play that game too, there are a few things I am afraid of. One thing I am fearful of is our government declaring open war upon anyone who declares an unconditional support for the Constitution. 

Are you aware that our government is stockpiling massive amounts of ammunition...not for use in foreign wars, but right here on US soil ? Awhile back the Department of Homeland Security submitted a request to purchase 450 million rounds of ammunition, followed just a week or so ago with another request for 750 million rounds of ammo. On top of that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admistration, (didn't even know that existed) has stated that the National Marine Fisheries service requires a mere 46,000 rounds of ammo. And now it is the Social Security Administration which is buying up 174,000 rounds of hollow points. That certainly seems to be a whole lot of ammo being purchased by various branches of the government―all within a short time frame.

You know something else that scares me, the fact that our government hasn't passed a federal budget in 3 years, and in those 3 years the national debt has increased by $4.9 trillion in that same time frame, more than it did under the 8 years of the Bush administration. Now I'm not cutting George Bush any slack, it was he who got us into these wars that are costing billions monthly. On top of that he was the one who began bailing out private sector companies with the bailout of AIG.

What I'm getting at is that our government spends way more than it takes in from taxes. In fact, if we shut down the entire US government, including the military, there would still be a budget deficit which means that our government would still have to borrow money just to cover its other obligations, such as Social Security and Medicare.

If you'll allow me, I'd like to present a quote to you, and then have you guess who said it. The quote goes as follows, " I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all American history - one which piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs or reduced earning power of the people. Bureaus and bureaucrats have been retained at the expense of the taxpayer. We are spending altogether too much money for government services which are neither practical nor necessary. In addition to this, we are attempting too many functions and we need a simplification of what the Federal government is giving the people."

 You may think it was made by a current member of Congress, probably a Republican ranting about the spending habits of the Obama administration. You would be wrong. It was made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Around the time Roosevelt said that the federal deficit was around $2 billion, it now stands at roughly $1.3 trillion. This is all verifiable by government documents found at: pdf

How long do you think we can keep this borrowing up until the whole house of cards collapses in upon us, and when it does, what do you think is going to happen? Believe me, what the news is reporting on Greece's economic troubles will be minor compared to what this country will go through when it all comes crumbling down around us. The government will need all that ammo to stave off the riots and anarchy.

And just in case you don't think the government will deploy troops within the borders of the US to quell riots, it did it during the Civil War when Lincoln deployed US soldiers to New York City, and ended up killing between 300-1,000 rioters. So don't tell me it wouldn't do it again!

Allow me to close with two final quotes. The first was made by James Wilson in 1791, and can be found in his Lectures on Laws, " Government, in my humble opinion, should be formed to secure and to enlarge the exercise of the natural rights of its members; and every government, which has not this in view, as its principal object, is not a government of the legitimate kind." Does that sound like the type government we have today, one that cares about preserving and enlarging our rights?

Let me also give you something else to think about. H. L. Mencken once said that "The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe." I suppose that is true. If it is, then does it answer the question I asked in the beginning, are we still the land of the free and the home of the brave, or are we a nation succumbed to our worst fears? I'll leave that for you to ponder.

Source:  Neal Ross. Visit my blog for further enlightenment:  Comments may be sent to: