Fees

Political Self Perpetuation

Making The Democratic Process In Michigan Just A Little Bit Less Democratic With A 21st Century Poll Tax

Representatives Steve Marino, Tommy Brann, Julie Calley, Kimberly LaSata, and Jim Lilly have just introduced six bills, HB 4745 to HB 4750, to increase filing fees for various down ballot political offices across the State of Michigan by 50% to 300%.  These are the fees prospective candidates can pay to get on the ballot in lieu of filing nominating petitions.

As you might expect, the highest (300%) filing fee increase proposed applies to candidates for State Representative (and Senator).

The kicker here? The filing fee is also no longer refunded to the runner up.  So running for political office in Michigan just became more expensive exclusive.

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Does Detroit need a lesson on the Fourth?

And no. I don’t mean that thing where we exercise out "right" to set off large quantities of fireworks next month.

Last weekend, I spent some time with some friends who now live out of town.

We did the “usual touristy” things like Greektown and the Casinos.

They wanted me to go with them to the Grand Prix, but I’m more of a NASCAR Guy than IndyCar.

Afterwards, I insisted on changing things up and that we go down to Lafayette to eat.

I told them that it was part of the “Authentic Detroit” dining experience and that sort of thing.

They had never been down there and after initially scarring the hell out of them (along with equally confusing them with how the food was ordered/delivered), they settled down a bit and we started to catch up on things. They began to comment on local stuff, basically regurgitating what people like Gov. Snyder, et al, were shoveling to the rest of the country about how things have turned around since the bankruptcy.

I laughed at their comments and replied to the effect that, “Yeah! They wish!”

“Look at all of this new stuff downtown? How can you argue that things aren’t better?”, they replied.

I told them that “Yes”, the Downtown Area has improved. Large amounts of government money tends to eventually do that. “Yes” places like the Riverfront have gotten nicer.

But then I added, the same cannot be said for the rest of the city.

They didn’t believe me.

They couldn’t accept the fact that everything was as bad as I told them it was.

I told them, “Fine, want to go on a little trip?”

They were a little apprehensious to say the least, but we loaded up into their car and we went happy motoring…away from the freeways.

I took them in places where even Crowder wouldn’t dare to venture!

We went up and down places like Jefferson, and then Warren and Mack where it didn’t take that long to notice the large swaths of bombed out/burned out neighborhoods (at least I think they were neighborhoods at one time), large piles of trash and abandoned/stolen vehicles (along with boats…yes boats) strewn about, pretty much every other building covered with graffiti, I told my now visibly scared “driver” that I wanted to stop at the next party store because I wanted to get something to drink.

Yes, I did that on purpose.

So, while we parked across the street and started walking towards the party store, I got bombarded with a ton of questions (besides is this really safe) like why that particular store had a chain-link fence around the roof topped with razor wire, why there were thick metal plate doors next to the entrance and why was there a flashing green light on the sign outside of the building. When we went inside, they did a double-take at the walkway surrounding most of the perimeter of the inside of the building separated by 1-inch thick Lexan.

I casually grabbed a 2-liter of Rock N’ Rye, they didn’t get anything (I cannot imagine why) and we went back to their car. I still had more to show them.

Continuing our “tour”, they still couldn’t get over the flashing strobe light on the sign.

“Oh that? That’s Green Light.”

And here is where out story turns to next…

{More after the fold}

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Rip Off

Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft

Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.

The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.

Where will that $ 210 million come from?  GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.

Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.

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Fear The Stupid

No matter how crazy some tax scheme is, never underestimate the power of stupidity in large groups.

So we thought Michigan’s newly implemented gas tax was bad?

Sure, the road tax puts us at the most expensive gas tax level in the country.  And because of the idiocy of OUR large groups in Lansing, it even protects itself for inflation!  But even so,  our absurd taxation scheme has been relegated to second place in absurd tax schemes.

If Michigan were to follow the lead of Philadelphia (which I think could somehow happen), every six pack of coke 16.9oz bottles would have $1.52 tacked on.  Every Pepsi 8 pack would have $2.03 added on.

And Gatorade?

You Betcha! (11)Nuh Uh.(0)

More Trouble With TIF

Traverse City enables more cronyism in its latest money grab.

Does a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) scheme really work?

It seems that each year, special TIF districts are set up throughout our state in order to promote growth or development of a particular economy or industry.  The revenues raised through a TIF scheme are theoretically targeted, specifically for the district raising the value of that district over a specified period of time.

But does it work well enough and is it worth the effort, and goodwill lost, as it continues to be abused by those who hold the authority?  As voters look at the millage requests on the ballot, they now see the language that reminds them that not-all-of their voted in millage will go where it is intended.

A TIF scheme is done by

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Renew Your Plates Now!

With Michigan's upcoming confiscatory registration hikes, its time! - Save 20% by renewing early.

Michigan vehicle owners can renew their registrations up to 6 months ahead of time.

If your tabs are going to be due from now till June, its time to act to save a few bucks.  Using Express SOS, you can avoid the 20% markup this year that our tax hungry legislature and governor have in store as-of Jan 1, 2017.

You’re welcome.

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Rizzo Environmental Services Bribed Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds

And Who Else?

clinton-township-trustee-dean-reynoldsClinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds was charged with bribery Thursday, in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan. Rizzo Environmental Services allegedly paid Reynolds $ 50,000 – $ 70,000 in cash for his vote and influence on an $18 million, 10 year garbage collection contract. Reynolds is also alleged to have received free legal services from a Rizzo connected attorney in his divorce case.

Reynolds is a Hillary supporter, a gun control supporter, and an environmental supporter. Now living proof that you don’t need a gun to commit a serious crime.  As you read about this case, ask yourself why not one article mentions his political affiliation. Were he a Republican, his affiliation would be in every headline. Reynolds is an AFL-CIO toady now running for Clinton Township Supervisor in the November 8th General Election. The Metro Detroit AFL-CIO scrubbed their endorsement of him this morning, but they can’t change history:

detroit-afl-cio-2016-endorsements

The Free Press reports that the “FBI’s years-long investigation is expected to trigger criminal charges against numerous politicians in towns and cities across Macomb County who engaged in pay-to-play schemes with various developers and businesses. The Clinton Township case, sources said, is just the tip of the iceberg and numerous more charges will follow.”

Rizzo Environmental Services is under contract in a lot of communities outside of Macomb County in Michigan. Who else have they bribed?

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The Dismal Science Confutes Emergency Management in Flint

The entire world now knows what crass bureaucratic stupidity, feeble political direction, and witless press coverage did to Flint. We have demonstrated that Flint’s politicians and financial managers made terrible decisions in an effort to replace plunging tax revenue, which had reached statutory and constitutional rate limitations.

Flint Water Bill 1The foremost source of revenue expanded was Flint’s water & sewerage charges. Annual free cash flow from water & sewerage charges was increased from nil to $ 28.7 million (bottoms of page 3-13) over the decade from 2004 [FY2005 CAFR, large file] to 2014 [FY2015 CAFR, large file]. The big jump in free cash flow from water & sewerage charges occurred in 2014 as a consequence of Flint River sourcing. Flint only had to pay the DW&SD pirates for water up to April 25th in 2014. Annual free cash flow from water & sewerage charges in 2013 [FY 2014 CAFR, large file] was only $ 9.4 million when they paid DW&SD all year. Why Flint resourced to the Flint River in one number: $ 19.3 million more in cash flow. And most of this $ 19.3 million is now gone with the return to DW&SD water. We will know how much gone later this year.

That $ 28.7 million in free cash flow during 2014 was a 77% markup on actual Flint water & sewerage costs. Only $ 7 million of it was used for infrastructure, mostly to prepare for the now abandoned Flint River sourcing. Only $ 2 million of it was used to pay off water & sewerage debt. The remaining $ 18.5 million was used by other Flint city departments and applied to other Flint obligations. That $ 18.5 million dollars became 22% of all Flint City revenues. Greater than any other source of revenue, greater than income tax revenue, greater than property tax revenue, greater than State revenue sharing, greater than Federal revenue sharing. That $ 28.7 million dollars was the only reason Flint was able to exit emergency management. That and a $ 65.3 million theft from restatement of Flint’s water and sewerage enterprise fund net positions, from their 2014 CAFR to their 2015 CAFR (compare ending 2014 to beginning 2015 net positions on the bottom of pages 3-13).

Let’s consider a counterfactual. Suppose that Michigan’s bureaucrats and political leaders were actually competent and, under the unrelenting scrutiny of a watchful press, arranged for proper chemistry controls of Flint River sourced water. No Flint residents were exposed to lead, no one died from legionella pneumophila, and Flint residents sang the praises of their new water. Its tough to ignore recent history, but do so for a moment so we can explore a very important question:

Would the financial reorganization of Flint under its popularly elected politicians and emergency managers have worked?

You Betcha! (13)Nuh Uh.(1)

Time to Light These Clowns Up

Someone needs to impress upon the MRP legislative and executive leadership that “NO” means “NO” . . . period.

Roughly nine months ago, We the People of Michigan, by a record-breaking 4-to-1 statewide margin, told our elected nobility in Lansing “HELL NO” on a proposed tax increase, which they’d tried to sell as a road proposal, but which the voting public saw clearly as a political sausage job that produced a cronyist’s grab bag of goodies. Thus, every single county in this state, without exception and in no uncertain terms, clearly delivered a mandate-level message that we are no longer interested in extending the legislature a taxpayer-funded line of credit, until such time as they get their spending priorities in order. You would think that a statewide vox populi shellacking, with a turnout rate typical of the biennial congressional primaries, would clue in the GoverNerd, and the rest of the MRP/MIGOPe professional political establishment, that We the People are done being their ATM.

You would think that . . . but you would be wrong. Six months after that ballot box rejection, while most of us were tucking our children into bed (or monitoring local election results), the lords and barons in the Michigan Legislature essentially told we the proletariat that our opinion is irrelevant, and that “no” really means “don’t ask again” – which, of course, they didn’t – by passing a “road funding” tax package that was nearly identical to the core of Proposal 15-1, less the elements required to force it onto the ballot. In doing this, they flatly rejected the clear will of the people, imposed through legislative fiat that which they couldn’t persuade the electorate to publicly ratify, and took yet another step toward government by aristocracy.

You Betcha! (30)Nuh Uh.(5)

Emergency Managers, Emergency Management

Synonyms for Headlee Evasion

Darnell Early

Darnell Early

La victoria trova cento padri, a nessuno vuole riconoscere l’insuccesso
A victory finds 100 fathers, nobody claims credit for a failure.
Galezzo Ciano, 2o Conte di Cortellazzo e Buccari, Diary (1942)

The left wing meme on the Flint Water fiasco is that Governor Snyder seized absolute control of Flint and installed doctrinaire Republican viceroys who ruthlessly slashed Flint’s payroll and expenditures without any regard for the residents.

If only this were so.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

The Flint emergency managers had only one common thread in their backgrounds, long records of administration in government and the nonprofit sectors. No productive experience. Experts at spending other people’s money. Well paid experts.  Outright Democrats or chameleons politically; typical politics of the bureaucratic class. Look at the backgrounds of the Flint emergency managers:

Edward Kurtz

Michael K. Brown

Edward Kurtz, again

Michael K. Brown, again

Darnell Early

Gerald (Jerry) Ambrose

Emergency managers are not viceroys with absolute powers. The evolution of emergency management in Michigan was frustrated by public union opposition. Five successive laws, one repealed by referendum. The law in force during the critical Flint water fiasco decisions is PA 436 of 2012. The powers it confers upon emergency managers are:

MCL 141.1549, Section 9

(2) Upon appointment, an emergency manager shall act for and in the place and stead of the governing body and the office of chief administrative officer of the local government. The emergency manager shall have broad powers in receivership to rectify the financial emergency and to assure the fiscal accountability of the local government and the local government’s capacity to provide or cause to be provided necessary governmental services essential to the public health, safety, and welfare. Following appointment of an emergency manager and during the pendency of receivership, the governing body and the chief administrative officer of the local government shall not exercise any of the powers of those offices except as may be specifically authorized in writing by the emergency manager or as otherwise provided by this act and are subject to any conditions required by the emergency manager.

The emergency managers replace the mayors, council, and chief administrative officers of the municipal governments. While this does indeed give them extraordinary powers of control, their control is anything but absolute. The municipal charter continues in effect and continues to protect the prerogatives of lesser bureaucrats. The vague statutory powers of emergency managers beyond replacing the mayor, council, and chief administrative officer poses unremitting legal jeopardy to emergency managers. Encourages timidity and bureaucratic subterfuge. Not absolute control.

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