Friday, June 26, 2009

Cory Mason's Employee Forced Submission Act

From the folks who support the Employee Free Choice Act now comes forced unionization. Our own Cory Mason is apparently the driving force for this gem. The Journal Sentinel has the story.

I guess forced participation in unions is the new freedom.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obama on Public vs Private Health Care

I just caught a bit of President Obama's news conference wherein he stated, essentially, that if private sector health care is so good, affordable, etc... then it ought not have any problem competing with a public sector option.

So we have a president that ignores or doesn't understand the key difference between public and private sector economic activity. The difference of course is the source of revenue. Private businesses must earn their income by providing a product or a service that someone voluntarily chooses to purchase while the government just takes the money that they need, from the private sector.

I am slightly embarrased that we have a president say and apparently believe something so silly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Having it Both Ways

The Journal Times editorial today suggests that those opposed to low-income housing on Sixth Street are unreasonably fearful. The correlation between low incomes and crime happens only in those discredited high rise apartments that "are now being turned into ruble."

Ordinarily, when the JT or other liberals want to help the poor with your money, they argue that decreased poverty will result in decreased crime. This argument suggests a correlation between low incomes and crime. However, now that they want to bring low-income government dependents into downtown, they deny any such correlation. The apartments "would be homes for people whose luck may have changed, or people trying to work their way up from a hard life." Any concerns about crime are dismissed as unreasonable, fearful, and harmful.

Just thought I would point out once again the inconsistency associated with liberal thought.

Monday, June 15, 2009

LiberTEA Racine Chooses Issues

LiberTEA Racine has selected three issues to pursue. They are, not in any particular order:

1) Opposition to the proposed Historic District Ordinance.
2) Support for the Choi's/Chun's effort to open a convenience store with a liquor license.
3) Opposition to Alderman Mozol's proposal which would extend aldermanic terms to three years, from two.

LiberTEA Racine is seeking to promote liberty in the Racine area. We will focus on local issues where we believe we have a reasonable chance for success. And We will be non-partisan.

Note that each of the above issues involves a loss of or potential loss of personal liberty at the hands of Racine government officials. The Historic District Ordinance would take home improvement and major maintainence decisions out of the hands of individual property owners and put them into the hands of government bureaucrats. The Choi's/Chun's are unable to sell a legal product, as they are the first victims of a new ordinance that outlaws the sale of packaged alcohol without a 2/3s (3/4ths?) vote by the city council, among other restrictions. And lastly, an extension of aldermanic terms would substantially chip away at the rights of voters to choose their own representatives.

LiberTEA Racine will focus on these issues initially. If you care to join us, look for our Calls to Action that will be a part of our Web site (under construction) and the blog, LiberTEA Racine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Good to be the King

If you are the mayor of Racine, you get to spend taxpayer money on art. No need for oversight of any kind apparently. No approval from commissions, no design review committee, no permits required, no building inspections, no votes by the council.

But if you live on College Avenue and want to put new windows in your house, well...

RUSD Test Results Form Letter

An insider at RUSD headquarters has forwarded to me the following test results response form letter. Take a look.

For immediate release to media.

The (insert test name) results are in and we are very excited here at RUSD headquarters. We have shown improvement in (choose one: 5th grade math scores, 8th grade reading scores, graduation rate) at several of our schools. We believe (insert latest reform effort here) is beginning to pay dividends. We remain concerned with (choose one: truancy, 8th grade math scores, 5th grade reading levels) at this time. We are (choose one: cautiously optimistic, hopeful) about our prospects for continued improvement. Yet we recognize that we have (choose one: more hard work to do, a tough road ahead of us).


(insert latest superintendent name here)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Government Causing Housing Problems

As city officials experiment with various punitive measures to address the declining condition of housing stock in Racine, they would be wise to consider their own role in creating the problem.

Consider that despite a declining population in Racine, the city has within the last several years approved two large and partially low income/rent subsidized projects, the Mitchell Wagon Lofts and Belle Harbor. Agencies abound to subsidize or pay outright the rent for these and other low income residences. No doubt about it, Racine officials love to help/enable the poor with your money.

Of course, someone has to pay for all this generosity. Said generosity is paid for in taxes. Racine's property tax rate is 50% higher than neighboring Wind Point, as an example. At some point, some people will decide that the costs, financial and otherwise, associated with a "give us your poor and huddled masses" government policy is too great to bear. So they will try to sell their home for which there are no buyers. This home is destined to become a rental property because of Racine's government, as buying a home and paying taxes is too expensive while all kinds of help is there for low income renters.

So the city adds a few hundred newly constructed, subsidized and TIFed housing units for the poor. Then what happens? They leave the neighborhoods for the good stuff. The landlord who owns a property or two in Racine is now competing, essentially, with the government that was instrumental in financing the new and better low income housing. They still have mortgages and taxes to pay, so something has to give. Perhaps they stop maintaining the property or they take in a marginal tenant. And this is the situation we find ourselves in now.

Harsh ordinances and fines will fix this problem, right?

Monday, June 08, 2009

CityBank (of Racine) Failures

The Journal Times has an article today, curiously titled "Staying afloat," about a non-profit housing agency that is sinking fast.

The Racine Mutual Housing Association is a nonprofit organization that provides rental housing at below-market rates, according to the JT. Yet 95% of their clients are behind in their rent payments. The city will now allow RMHA to skip their payments to the city for the next ten months. Presently, the group owes $193,000 plus interest (interest amount not specified in the article) on a $200,000 loan made several years ago.

City Development Director Brian O'Connell said the group needs sound fiscal judgement to balance its compassion. In showing patience with struggling tenants, "they've put the whole organization at risk" O'Connell said.

The same might be said of the city. The city needs sound fiscal judgement to balance its compassion. In showing patience with struggling borrowers (several years, barely a dent in principal) the city is putting all the taxpayers at risk.

The best judgement of all would be for the city to leave banking to bankers and fire the bureaucrats who are wasting our money.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

On Property and Policy

City officials always seem to be promoting a solution to this or that problem. Seldom do they discuss why the problem exists in the first place. How can you solve a problem if you don't know why it exists?

Consider the various proposals to keep area homes in good condition. So why are some home owners allowing their properties to deteriorate? We need to know the answer to that question before we can shape policy to address the problem.

Are the property owners in question just bad people who don't care or are they making rational investment decisions? If your answer is the former, then you might like spanking them with fines, new ordinances etc... but perhaps they are acting rationally.

What rational person would allow their property to deteriorate and decrease in value? Well, first we must understand that spending money on home maintainence is just one of millions of investment choices available to us. Are new windows a smarter investment than car repairs, school tuition, a 401K contribution? Perhaps some property owners have detirmined that property improvements in Racine are not a good investment.

Property taxes are high in Racine. Property improvements cost money AND result in even higher property taxes year after year. Property owners can't pick up and move their homes to avoid the high taxes but they can gradually divest from Racine. They can allow their properties to decline in value while choosing to invest their money elsewhere - where they think they will get a better return.

We can villify them, harrass them, or fine them and hasten their exit from Racine. But nobody is taking their place - we have a declining population.

A far better idea is to ask whether such people are behaving rationally, and if so, we should respond with rational policies to address the problem.

Catching Up, Random Thoughts

I have now been to two meetings concerning the historic district ordinance proposal. At both meetings, the powers-that-be insisted that they were there to discern what the people wanted. If this were the least bit true, there wouldn't be a third meeting. They would just scrap the idea that the people clearly don't want.

If you haven't been to a First Fridays, (every first Friday evening of the month, downtown Racine) you will be amazed at the amount, and quality, of the people congregating downtown. I remember well the genesis of this event. It was an idea starting with former first lady of Racine Joyce Smith. I admit I was very skeptical, wondering why a Friday instead of a whole weekend. I still think downtown Racine should have a weekend festival. Anyway, Joyce Smith was right and I was wrong about First Fridays.

For a place nearly devoid of development, yes I am talking about Racine, one must wonder why the city is looking at increasing the cost and the uncertainty of development projects via a new ordinance.

Even the liberal Journal Times opposes the historic district ordinance. I guess that makes us LiberTEA Racine folks a bunch of flaming liberals.