Friday, July 31, 2009

Cash for Clunkers: Next Entitlement Program?

This morning the “Cash for Clunkers” program administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) appears to have run its course. Per the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) “is a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally-friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation’s roadways.”

The site offers a Consumer Bill of Rights as well:
  • Qualified consumers may participate in the CARS Program between July 1, 2009 and November 1, 2009 or when authorized funds are no longer available.
  • Qualified consumers will receive a credit of $3,500 or $4,500 for an eligible trade-in toward the purchase of lease of an approved vehicle under CARS Program.
  • Qualified consumers will receive the $3,500 or $4,500 credit at the time the purchase their new vehicle.
  • Dealers must provide consumers with any other advertised rebates or discounts in addition to the credit they receive through the CARS Program.
  • Consumers should expect to conduct their deals at their dealership of choice, not on the Internet.
  • Consumers should expect the dealers to provide their best estimate of the scrap value for their eligible trade-in vehicle. Dealers are allowed to deduct $50 from this value for their administrative costs.
  • Consumers should expect that all information collected through the CARS Program will be kept confidential. Social Security numbers are not required for a CARS transaction.

The Program is out of money and the Obama administration is looking to extend the program due to the overwhelming response. The idea and concept put forth in this program is valiant but it does not go far enough to achieve its goal; helping the environment. Here is the CARS grid:

Summary of Car Allowance Rebate System - Cash for Clunkers Voucher Qualifications

Passenger Car
22 mpg - Min. Fuel Economy for New Vehicle
Mileage improvement of at least 4 mpg = $3500 Voucher
Mileage improvement of at least 10 mpg = $4500 Voucher

Light-Duty Truck
18 mpg - Min. Fuel Economy for New Vehicle
Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg = $3500 Voucher
Mileage improvement of at least 5 mpg = $4500 Voucher

Large Light-Duty Trucks
15 mpg - Min. Fuel Economy for New Vehicle
Mileage improvement of at least 1 mpg or trade-in of a work truck = $3500 Voucher
Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg = $4500 Voucher

Does this program really achieve the goal of helping the environment? To participate in the program one only needs to improve gas mileage by 1 to 4 miles depending on the vehicle type. How does that help the environment? Again Government has proved that they cannot put forth a program that is meant to meet its goals. While CARS is moving new cars off the lots, is it really assisting the economy as was another goal?

It is being reported that 23,000 dealers are participating and have exceeded the 250,000 vehicles. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) who crafted the CARS legislation plans exerts efforts to extend the program “until it reaches its goal of helping consumers take 1 million gas guzzlers off the road.” If that is the case, why did they only fund it with $1 billion? 1 million cars at a minimum of a $3500 rebate equates to $3,500,000,000. Now I am not a math major but I am smart enough to work an abacus and something does not equate here. That is just one short coming by Rep. Markey. The other part is his notion of taking “gas guzzlers” off the road.

Let’s say one has a 2000 Ford F150 that is a 4-speed automatic overdrive, rear-wheel drive and a 4.6L 200 hp V8 and wants to upgrade to a 2009 model. To determine if this qualifies, I went to to see what my estimated new EPA MPG is for my 2000 Ford F150. According to the website the new mpg is 16 mpg for the 2000 model. While the same 2009 model will not qualify but if one wants to go upgrade from the 4-speed to the 6-speed, one can make the trade. The 2009 Ford F150 6-speed gets a mpg rating of 17 mpg thus qualifies one for a $3500 rebate.

So how does this help the environment? While the CARS program in concept makes sense but in reality government has proven again that it is incapable of putting tax dollars into the economy in an intelligent way. After each purchase the car dealer is to register the transaction with the NHTSA but that is not taking place. Evidence of car dealers not doing their due diligence is the gluttony of undocumented “Cash for Clunkers” cars that are sitting on their lots and the cries for more money for the CARS program.

The CARS program is not an entitlement. It clearly stated that $1 billion will be set aside and its first come first serve. Just as we saw with the housing market with subprime loans via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we are seeing the greed of another industry take place. As I said the concept behind the CARS program is noble but the execution has been less than stellar.

Since Congress was short sighted and didn’t read the Stimulus Bill because Democrats knew if the bill was vetted programs like CARS would not have been approved. I wonder how many other programs will meet this fate from the ramming through of the $787 billion stimulus bill. President Obama is looking to increase fuel efficiency, by 2012, to 27.5 mpg for cars and 24 mpg for light trucks. That being said, why does the CARS program not push harder toward that goal?

I understand that I am just scratching the surface on the failures of the CARS program and others will say that it is good. The trouble is that by Congress considering more tax payers dollars toward the program it only enables the concept of entitlement and further government bailouts. I leave this topic, for now, with this question: How is the underfunding and potential bailout any different then what took place with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and when will Americans wake up to understand that government intervention into the free market is not always the answer?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Racism Card: Does it belong only to minorities?

Yesterday I posted a question on Facebook that resulted in 34 comments being made that never really addressed the question that was posed. The ponder made was “How is the words of Glen Beck in regards to President Obama being a racist any different than the words the left and other leaders in the black community used during Katrina calling President Bush a racist? Is this similar as we can have BET but not WET? Or NAACP vs. NAAWP?” The comments that followed ranged from questioning the validity of Glen Beck to “birthers” to Gates/Crowley situation.

My question was not to defend the actions taken by Glen Beck; rather to point out that people like Kanye West, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson all asserted that President Bush “hates black people” because FEMA dropped the ball with Katrina and that was acceptable commentary.

Kanye West said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during the NBC aired program “A Concert for Hurricane Relief”. Prior to the comment Kanye West had stated that “I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looking. See a white family; it says they’re looking for food. They’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.”
Rev. Al Sharpton said on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” on MSNBC September 1, 2005, “The real question is not only those that didn’t get out. The question is why has it taken the government so long to get in. I feel that, if it was in another area, with another economic strata and racial makeup, that President Bush would have run out of Crawford a lot quicker and FEMA would have found its way in a lot sooner.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson claimed President Bush was “incompetent” and “racist” and questioned President Bush, “How can blacks be locked out of the leadership, and trapped in the suffering?”

Today Mr. Gates, Sgt Crowley, and President Obama will be sitting down for a beer and discuss what took place during the events that led up to Mr. Gates arrest. One of those commenting on Facebook accused my question as a Rovian Ploy. I am not sure where that comes into play; perhaps someone is able to explain it further for me. During the Democrat primary, the Obama campaign tried to paint former President Clinton as playing the race card; Bill Clinton a racist? No!

President Obama waded into the Gates/Crowley case without knowing the facts of the case, the media reported without the full facts, and now things are coming to light. All this said, I am not defending what Glen Beck said nor giving credence to him; rather I am looking at the situation in a big picture format. The catalyst of the conversation just happens to be the Glen Beck’s exercise of free speech that has offended others in the nation.

The ultimate question is why it is okay, accepted by society, for minorities to claim racism or have exclusive organizations while white America is vilified for similar claims or exclusive organizations?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cooperatives: Health Care bipartisan approach

The ramming of health care has stalled in Congress, partly thanks to Blue Dog Democrats, to give bipartisan plans a chance. Although the Democrats hold majority in both houses and do not require a bipartisan approach to pass health care reform; yet a stalemate has taken place. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Reed came out last week and made it clear that a full Senate vote on health care will not take place prior to the August break.

Yesterday a bipartisan group of Senators locked themselves in a private meeting to hash out a bipartisan plan. The major sticking point on the health care debate is the public plan and to what degree of intrusion will Americans accept by government buacracy with their health care. President Obama has, in the past, drawn a line in the sand that he will not sign any health care reform bill that is void of a public option.

Several comments have taken place on my blog entries, mainly on Facebook, on health care. An underlying current is to empower the patient and remove the shackles the insurance companies have on the system. Perhaps the plan of a bipartisan group of Senators will accomplish that through the notion of cooperatives.

Noam Levey and Janet Hook define cooperatives, in their article The Centrist Alternative on Healthcare: Cooperatives, as “owned by their members, are structured as nonprofits and either offer a system of healthcare providers or contract out for their members’ medical services.” Sen. Kent Conrad has been an advocate of cooperatives as it’s a patient controlled option rather than a government public option. Sen. Conrad concedes that “Every single Republican is opposed to a public plan. If one just does the numbers, it’s very clear to get the votes, you’ve got to find some compromise here.”

Karen Davis, president of the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, states “Setting up new cooperatives is just going to take longer” since it will be more difficult to replicated cooperative nationwide versus creation of a public plan. Are we to trade expediency for true reform? Granted cooperatives are historically a rural program and many in larger cities have little experience in dealing with cooperatives. That being said, the bipartisan plan shouldn’t be shoved aside for a public option.

Brian Beutler writes, in his article Obama to Grassley: I’m Interested in Alternatives to The Public Option, “Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) – ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee – says President Obama’s insistence on a public option might actually be a public show.” Sen. Grassley may be right as President Obama has softened his stance on the August deadline. David Axelrod has stated to in order to improve the health care system, “Everyone is going to have to give a little to get there.”

President Obama admitted in the AARP town hall meeting yesterday that “It’s so obvious that the system we have isn’t working for too many people and that we could just be doing better.” Everyone agrees with this statement but many disagree that the public plan is the right path to take. While a national cooperative may be too large and complex to establish, a blueprint can be established that gives local communities the “seed money” to form cooperatives.

Cooperatives for health care already exist in California, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest. In all locations the cooperatives have been able to lower costs while keeping the focus on patient care both elements of reform everyone wants. So why emulate a public option, similar to Medicare, for the nation that has proven nothing but bankruptcy when options exists around the nation that have already achieved two core elements of health care reform; lowering cost and patient focused?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Vick: Rehabilated?

Yesterday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Michael Vick is free to re-join the NFL but will not be able to play, potentially, until week 6. In Goodell’s letter to Vick, Goodell wrote, “I accept that you are sincere when you say that you want to, and will, turn your life around, and that you intend to be a positive role model for others. I am prepared to offer you that opportunity. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands. Needless to say, your margin for error is extremely limited. I urge you to take full advantage of the resources available to support you and to dedicate yourself to rebuilding your life and your career. If you do this, the NFL will support you.”

Vick, who spent 18 months in prison for running a dog fighting ring, is free to sign with any team that will have him. In a statement released by Vick’s agent, Joel Segal wrote, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Commissioner Goodell for allowing me to be readmitted to the National Football League. I fully understand that playing football in the NFL is a privilege, not a right, and I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have been given.” While Vick is correct that playing in the NFL is not a right, I do not understand where it is a privilege. Granted his words were chosen carefully to appease Goodell and other detractors.

Playing in the NFL is not a privilege either nor is playing professionally in any sport. One gains access to the profession level in their sport by dedication and hard work. Granted some players, i.e. Brian Griese and Chris Simms, get their chance to play because of their namesake but the vast majority of players in the NFL are there because of their talents. By saying it’s a privilege equates to saying ability and talent is a privilege as well. If that is the case then we diminish all the hard work and dedication young men and women put in to achieve their goals and aspirations.

While Vick does face an uphill battle, it may have more to do with the change in the role of the quarterback than with his abilities and past. The era of running quarterbacks is in its twilight. A different role may be more apt for Vick as the running back in the “Wildcat” offense. Last year the Baltimore Ravens used Troy Smith, at times, in the “Wildcat” offense of scheme. Teams that use the “Wildcat” offense may enlist Vick’s skills more so than teams that do not.

Our prison system is established to rehabilitate those that are incarcerated within. That being said, the assumption is that Vick has learned from his past transgressions and is set to move forward by becoming a model citizen. Unfortunately Vick’s actions and the organization that signs him will be put under a microscope by the media and groups within greater society.

The only way for Vick to prove he is rehabilitated and reflected on the circumstances that landed him in prison will only gain clarity as time progresses. Vick can volunteer for PETA or the Animal Humane Society and put out public announcements on the evils of dog fighting but will it be enough to display how effective his time in prison was? No, it will be through actions, private actions, which will be the ultimate factor to give teeth to his words.

Vick needs to do his part in society as well society needs to do their part. Society needs to forgive, not forget, Vick for his past transgressions in order to move forward. By forgiving, a basic Christian tenet, Vick society assists in the healing process. Based on Vick’s words he has learned and it is time for society to give him that opportunity. The question now is which team will take the chance on Vick and the media frenzy that is sure to follow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

48 million without health care and it's immoral

48 million people are without health insurance in the United States. Let me say that again, 48 million people are without health insurance. Since the Truman administration the debate on health insurance has raged on. During that time HMO’s, and others, are dictating terms and established ration care initiatives to line the pockets of their CEO’s while disregarding the consumer. The cost of the health care industry is spiraling out of control as they rise faster than inflation. Majority leader in the Senate, Sen. Reed, came out last week to notify the country that the Senate will not have a health care reform bill to the Senate floor before the August break. Shame on you Sen. Reed.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi feels that the House of Representatives will do their job and pass a health care bill before the August break. Sen. Reed is dragging his feet, why is that? Doesn’t Sen. Reed understand that Democrats have 60 votes plus a handful of liberal Republicans? So, why is it that he is unable to get a health care plan passed? With 48 million people without insurance the Senate needs to get back on the President’s time table. Some critics are saying that Health Care debate will be the President’s “Waterloo” and by passing a public option will put the private sector out of business.

That is simply not the case. With a public option available it will assist in controlling costs in the long term. The down payment for long term prosperity is minimal compared to the doing nothing. The other side of the aisle is doing all they can to stall out the President’s plan by putting fear in the debate that people will lose their current insurance. President Obama has stated, several times over the past months, that health care reform will not interfere with ones current insurance program.

Congress needs to act now to achieve the goal of President Obama to have meaningful health care reform signed and implemented by the end of the year. One-sixth of our economy is spent on medicine and bus loads of elderly citizen’s travel to Canada weekly to purchase critical medicines. Why is this taking place? It is because drug companies are fleecing American’s under the guise of recouping costs. The two largest drug makers, Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline, reported better than expected quarterly earnings last week.

In a world economic recession, the fact that drug makers can still post earnings in the billions translates that reform is needed. Prescription drug costs and fixed incomes put our aging population in a tough spot when they must choose between medicine and electricity. With the reform being proposed by President Obama and Democrats, we will see a reversal of this through a public option. To assist in paying for the public option it is time for those more fortunate to re-establish their moral code. By assessing those that make more than $250,000 with a graduated health care surcharge will alleviate the down payment on our future.

We elected Barak Obama as President last year to enact change. President Obama is moving America in that direction through reform in many industries. It is now time for Congress to assist President Obama in his goal with reform of health care and not time to drag their feet. It’s time for the down payment, let’s make it and do the moral thing; reform health care and institute a public option.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hamburg City Council Agenda - July 28, 2009

7:00. Call City Council Meeting to Order @ 7:00 PM

  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Miscellaneous Business (Public Comments)
  • Agenda Review (Added Items) and Adoption
  • Approve Minutes for May & June 2009
  • Old City Business (Memo)

7:10. Fire Department Report

  • 2008/2009 FEMA Grants
  • Fire Department By-Laws
    o Election vs. Selection
  • Pension Increase for Reporting Year 2010

7:20. Dennis’ Report (Public Works & Utilities)

  • Project List (Added Items)
  • 2009 NPDES/SDS Permit Compliance Summary Report
  • LMCIT Loss Control Survey on June 11, 2009
  • Cooling Fans for Community Hall
  • Picnic Tables for Hall
  • Remove Tree Stumps at Community Center/Fire Hall
  • Hours Worked (Overtime) for 2009
  • General Maintenance Schedules

7:35. Deputy Clerk Report

  • Delinquent Utility Bills Report
  • MCFOA Clerk’s Conference (July 13-17)

7:45. City Clerk/Treasurer Report

  • Property & Casualty Insurance Renewal
  • Small Cities Development Program
    o DEED Grant
  • Temporary On-Sale Liquor Licenses
    o Approve Requested Dated by Hamburg Lions Club
  • Background Check Fees
  • I/I Abatement Program
    o TMDL Grant
  • LGA Unallotment for 2009 & 2010
    o 2009 Budget Items
  • Omnibus Liquor Bill
  • National Night Out – August 4th, 2009 – 6:00 to 8:00 PM
  • City Zoning Ordinances
  • To The Home Wireless Internet

8:15. City Council Reports

  • Councilmember Mueller Report (Sewer & Water)
  • Councilmember Cummiskey Report (Streets)
  • Councilmember Trebesch Report (Buildings)
  • Councilmember Barnes Report (Parks)
  • Mayor Malz Report

8:30. Approve Added Claims List for July 2009

8:30. Adjourn Meeting

Friday, July 24, 2009

President Obama's 'Stupidly' missed a chance to foster race relations

President Obama said during his nationally televised press conference that “I think it’s fair to say number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately and that’s just a fact.” Okay Mr. President let’s look at the facts.

First, a neighbor called in to Cambridge Police that two men were breaking in to her neighbor’s house.

Second, an officer of Cambridge Police department responded to house of the alleged break in.

Third, the owner of the home was arrested after becoming disruptive and verbally abusive.

Since the story broke, it has become difficult for people to divorce emotion and the facts of the situation that took place at Harvard. No one argues the facts, historically speaking, that racial profile has been more extensive of black than white people. Does that really apply in this situation? Had Mr. Gates not been a scholar at Harvard would anyone really cared?

The fact is that Mr. Gates has a lot of prominent friends, including President Obama, and feels privileged to the point that allows him to verbally assault, according to the police report, an officer of the law. On Morning Joe this morning Mika Brzezinski brought up the question, “Who made it about race first?” The answer may never be known. Mr. Gates has spent his life’s work discussing race relations and Sgt. Crowley teaches fellow officers on how to avoid racial profiling; a perfect storm.

The perfect storm was made more volatile with President Obama calling the actions by Sgt. Crowley “stupidly” when Sgt. Crowley’s training, absence of color, led him to arrest Mr. Gates. After the President Obama’s press conference he admitted that he didn’t have all the facts in the case prior to make the statements he did during the press conference. This raises a lot of questions in regards to other matters with the President but that is a different blog entry. Why then, Mr. President, would you respond in the manner you did if you did not know all the facts?

A takeaway from the fallout of Mr. Gates arrest is that America is not ready for a robust, honest, and respectful conversation of race relations. Emotions, on all sides, run too deep for Americans to hold court on race relations. Regardless, the nature of conversation, education, and potential legislation (although we can all agree that you cannot legislate away racism) takes place going forward lacks sustainability due to a lack of exchange at the grass roots level.

Rev. Jesse Jackson did hit upon it, on Morning Meeting, when saying the “bigger question of racial profiling… is structural inequality”. By structural inequality, Rev. Jackson was eluding to the uneven playing field that exists within the job, housing, and community level. Rev. Jackson went onto suggest that Americans “use this as a teachable movement and go beyond the Gates/Crowley case.” I agree with Rev. Jackson on this point.

To achieve a sustainable teachable movement, Americans need to be on a level playing field. To achieve the level playing field it is time to repeal affirmative action. With affirmative action in place, America re-affirms the concept of second class citizens. In order for America to move forward on race relations, we need to bury the hatchet and embrace our similarities and differences. All of this starts at the grass root level. Politicians, actors, athletes or scholars can debate it but it will have no basis if average citizens do not embrace the notion. As I said a few days back in my blog, had Mr. Gates been more known with his neighbors the entire embarrassing situation could have been avoided. Get out of the house and meet your neighbors.

As one walks, rides, or travels around town, take a moment to say “Hi, how are things?” to your neighbors. For all those that live in my hamlet, and further away, I extend an open invitation to stop by. Nearly every Friday during the warmer months we have a bon fire, weather permitting, where several neighbors come to discuss the week. Swing on by, even if it’s for two minutes, to say “Hi” and enjoy the conversation. Bottom line, no matter where one lives, is to get out and meet your neighbors. The approach will assist in breaking down perceived notions of race, gender, religious, and sexual orientations.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A win for State rights: Thune Amendment fails passage

State Rights were defended yesterday in the Senate when an amendment presented by Sen. John Thune (D-S.D.) fell two votes short, 58-39, of passage. Dissenters used State Rights and the increase of gun violence as their key reasons for voting against this amendment. For years the States have seen an erosion of rights afforded them by the Constitution either by passage of legislation or the end run by mandates on Federal money.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does allow for all Americans to keep and bear arms. Sen. Thune argued that “An individual should be able to exercise their Second Amendment constitutional right and be able to travel through individual states as long as they live by the laws of those states.” I agree with Sen. Thune and nearly every state that has ‘conceal and carry’ law state that only permits approved in that state are recognized. That being said, if it our right as Americans to keep and bear arms, then no state or federal regulation ought to bar anyone from bearing arms across state lines.

Why ‘conceal and carry’ when one has the right to openly carry? Sen. Dianne Feinstein warned that Thune’s amendment “is a grave threat to public safety. Concealed-weapons laws that work in rural states may not be suitable in urban areas. What’s good for Iowa or Alaska may not be good for California or New York.” Sen. Feinstein listen to yourself and apply that logic to other legislation and issues facing our nation; gay marriage, smoking bans, or Cap and Trade.

The NRA states that “the right to self defense does not end at state lines.” I agree completely with the NRA and the supreme law of the land already gives one the right to “bear” arms across state lines. All one has to do when crossing state lines, regardless if one has a ‘conceal and carry’ permit, is to keep their gun visible at all times. The Supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution, already permits this. Openly bear your arms and exercise your Constitutional right!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mr. Gates get off your high horse and get to know thy neighbors

Finally the Police report is listed online in regards to Henry Gates Jr. arrest. Take a look for yourself. The report does not paint Mr. Gates in a good light. According to the non-arresting officer Figueroa, “As I stepped in, I heard Sgt. Crowley ask for the gentleman’s information which he stated “NO I WILL NOT!”. The gentleman was shouting out to the Sgt that the Sgt was a racist and yelled that “This Is WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL BLACK MEN IN AMERICA!” As the Sgt was trying to calm the gentleman, the gentleman shouted “You don’t know who your messing with!”

Henry Gates Jr. is the Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African American Research and is the Alphonse Fletcher University professor at Harvard. Mr. Gates is still not happy about his arrest, even though justified, and stated in a phone interview with from Martha’s Vineyard, “I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong. If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling.” As an educate man, as Gates is, why feed into the racial profile by not complying with the officers request?

The officer was performing his job. A call came in, by a neighbor of Gates, which two black men were breaking in. The officer had no idea what to expect when he arrived on the scene. Mr. Gates created a scene that resulted in several people to gather around to see what all the commotion was about. That is what he was arrested for. Don’t be a moron when dealing with the police. Has anyone witnessed a positive outcome from yelling, screaming, and calling an officer a name? ANYONE?

Now Mr. Gates is demanding an apology. It is Mr. Gates that should be apologizing. The apology does not need to be made to the general public; rather to his neighbors for being a poor neighbor. Get to know your neighbors. Step outside of your home, get off your high horse, and meet your neighbors, Mr. Gates. By interacting with your neighbors one can break down stereotypes, mitigate situations of mistaken identity, and foster relations. We elected a community activist as President, why doesn’t Mr. Gates learn from that?

When I moved into my hamlet, the rumor was that a gay couple had moved into town.The rumored gay couple was me and my brother. As we interacted with our neighbors the relationship was quickly re-defined. Since that time my brother has moved out, although he does come back from time to time, I have remarried and added to the size of my clan. Just a few years ago we purchased a Rottweiler. Several neighbors became alarmed as ALL Rottweiler’s are aggressive and dangerous dogs. As neighbors, near and far, walked by our corner lot, we welcomed all to come meet our Rottweiler to debunk the myth.

If Mr. Gates really wants to improve race relations he needs to stop playing the race card, get out of the house and meet his neighbors. It is amazing how perceptions change when people exchange in dialogue. Don't be like Mr. Gates, get out of the house and interact with your neighbors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Henry Gates Jr:Over reacted or Racial Profiled?

Picture this, two men are seen, by a neighbor, trying to break in the front door of a house. The “alleged” break takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To add to the drama the two men “allegedly” breaking in are both black. A female neighbor, attempting to be a Good Samaritan, calls the local police to report the “alleged” break-in. To her surprise she finds out the next day that the two men “allegedly” breaking in were the resident of the home and a person driving him home that night. Now enter the officer on duty responding to the call of an alleged break-in. To make the situation more combustible, let’s say the officer is white.

This very situation took place at 17 Ware St. in Cambridge, MA. The resulting conversation between the office and “alleged” break-in artist spawned a flurry of headlines and accusations of racism on the part of the officer.

LA Times headline – “Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrested. Seriously, Cambridge?”

Boston Herald – “Al Sharpton rips Cambridge cops

Associated Press – “Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions.”

ABC News – “Prominent Black Scholar Arrested After Racism Charge

Boston Globe – “Racial talk swirls with Gates arrest

Funny how the media focuses on the allegations made by the man arrested and not on the particular situation at hand. According to the police report, as cited in the Boston Globe article listed above, “A visibly upset Gates responded to the officer’s assertion that he was responding to a report of a break-in with, “Why, because I’m a black man in America?”” The officer put in his report, according the Boston Globe, “Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was ‘messing’ with and that I had not heard the last of it.”

Now why in the world does Mr. Gates feel the need to add to an already volatile situation with the “Do you know who I am” routine? The officer is responding to your home because someone in the neighborhood felt it was being broken in to. To add to the confusion to the emotional conversation, Mr. Gates responded to the officers repeated request to speak with him outside with, “Ya, I’ll speak with your mama outside” (Boston Globe.7/21/09).

S. Allen Counter is quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, “This is very disturbing that this could happen to anyone, and not just to a person of such distinction. It brings up the question of whether black males are being targeted by Cambridge police for harassment.” Really? S. Allen Counter is a Harvard Medical School professor and ought to know better than to make a statement like this. Once again, let’s look at what brought the officer to the location. Two black men were “allegedly” breaking down the front door of a home which prompted a nearby neighbor to call police to investigate.

Lawerence Bobo, a Harvard sociologist, told the Boston Globe that “Gates ‘did ask him some pointed questions, like: ‘Is this happening because you’re a white cop and I’m a black man? Is this why this interaction is still taking place?’” Bobo went on to say, “Who’s not going to feel upset and insulted when a police officer won’t accept the fact that you’re standing in your own living room?”

Gates was only arrested after he followed the officer out of the house accusing him of racism. Gates is set to be arraigned on August 26th. The Boston Globe did have the police report available on their website but took it down according to Damian Thompson of the Telegraph. Damian Thompson does speculate why the Boston Globe pulled the report by writing “It’s absolutely fascinating. It doesn’t just depict Gates playing the race card; it describes him flinging a whole pack of 52 cards at the officers” (, 7/21/09) Unless the report resurfaces we will have to wait until the arraignment to find out what was actually reported.

In the meantime, if an officer of the law stops you and asks you a question or two just comply. As was the case with Fong Lee, had Mr. Gates just shown the officer his ID and been compliant he would not have been handcuffed and taken to jail. Instead of showing respect for the law and being a pillar for the youth, Mr. Gates was upset because his neighbor called the police on an apparent break-in and the officer asked, perhaps demanded, for proof of residence and did not arrest Mr. Gates until he continued the verbal barrage and racial accusations upon the officer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Health Care: Obama's Waterloo!!!

“This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. It is about a health care system that is breaking American families,” President Obama responded to Sen. DeMint’s assertion that health care overhaul “could be the president’s ‘Waterloo’”(Obama Challenges GOP Critics on health care,, 7/20/09). As the debate over how to bend the curve of cost in health care, the political hot potato continues to snag sound bites instead of looking at the key issues. In reality the Democrats do not need a single Republican vote to pass health care reform. Politically speaking they do because if the CBO, and other groups, are correct and the reform only produces financial burden on the states and future generations the Democrats NEED to share the blame.

While I agree that reform is needed but let’s not try to ram it through without making sure it doesn’t exist mandates on States and other agencies that are fiscally disabling. Sometime during the late 80’s to today the State Rights have been eroded by ever increasing mandates by the Federal Government. A prime example is No Kid Left Behind program that forces ADHD and other kids with special needs back into the mainstream classrooms in exchange for Federal dollars. Another example is the use of highway funds to push the .08 legal limit and soon to be cafĂ© standards. For if a state does not institute either billions of dollars in Federal money will go elsewhere.

So when people say let’s take our time on Health Care and do it right the first time, we do not need a President that runs short on patience and diligence. The very same President that is pushing for a public option that will, according to the CBO, strain state budgets. The only saving grace is the President does not have the power, at least not yet, to control the CBO reporting or fire members of the CBO as he did with an Inspector General earlier this year.

Tim Kaine, in a mass email message, stated when talking about the Republican platform on health care is that “Their plan is simple: oppose health care reform as a political ploy to weaken the President and defeat his entire agenda of change. But if we follow the Republican “Party of no” and do nothing, we’ll not only ensure more of the same but saddle our children and grandchildren with a growing burden on exploding costs and declining care that they may never overcome.” Really Mr. Kaine, are you sure you are not looking at the President’s plan?

Now the pundits have touted that Republicans have not offered an alternative. Republicans have and most recently were working with Blue Dog Democrats to find a bipartisan plan. The trouble is the compromised plan does not call for a public option. No matter which side of the fence one falls when it comes to health care reform, all agree something needs to be done.

Moving forward we need to pressure our Congress to act intelligently, diligently, and in a manner that will produce reform that actually drives costs down. They can start by telling the President “No!” to a public option. Or at least “No!” until it has been determined that the cost curve is trending downward. I am one of the millions of American’s without health care and I do not want it provided for me by the government. Assist me in obtaining private health insurance, I can live with that. As the stimulus bill has done nothing to curb the economic landscape, please do not act with similar haste with health care.

Baylor Park: Family, camping, volleyball, and fun!!!

It was a weekend of fun, family, and great conversations. The annual Randall/Hansen/Kokesh reunion took place on the Baylor Park camping grounds this past weekend. This year was a bit more unique then others for myself. Although in the past I did talk with a handful of distant cousin in the Hansen and Kokesh clans, this year, thanks to Facebook ( I know), my connection and array of topics to discuss were broadened. The expansion allowed more points of discussion with more members of my distant family.
Saturday was an adventure as we joined the several members of the Randall clan in the camp grounds at Baylor. After pitching a tent, which we later had to move, the group headed over to the volleyball pit to determine who had the right to defend the volleyball trophy for the Randall clan on Sunday.
Several games were played and in the end nothing was really determined. After some dinner it was cocktail hour.

With the fire pit ablaze the group of us, about 30, encroached the bon fire. All around the circle people engaged in conversation after conversation. As darkness fell, the air was illuminated with sparkler activity for the kids. Good time was had and no one lost an eyeball in the process. With the sparklers done, it was time for the kids to go to bed and the more senior members of the clan to enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet. YEAH RIGHT!!!!

People came and went and more went then came. Around 2:30 a.m., time is still in question, cousin Rob voiced his opinion on the fun those few who remained at the bon fire and the crowd dispersed. In good Randall fashion, a few of us escorted one of the junior female members of the clan back to her campsite. Once there the conversation lingered for about another hour or so. Once again a voice came from the darkness to offer an opinion of the time which we concurred as we stumbled our way back up the dusty road to our campsites.

8:00 a.m. came quick. It was time to pack up camp and get ready for the reason everyone had come; the Randall/Hansen/Kokesh reunion. The Randall's played the role of host. As host we descended on to the Beach Shelter pavilion. As one can guess it was near the beach. In Randall tradition two large pots of water were set to boil as several hands shucked corn for the corn feed. Others in the clan set about to attached balloons to the tables, signs to direct traffic, established a welcome table, arrange a buffet line, and other fun decoration activities.

Just shy of 1 p.m. a small playground incident took place between two siblings resulting in a trek to the emergency room to deal with a nursemaid elbow. While the ride was rough for the two year old, the results were good. After about a hour away from the reunion, the two year old returned as if nothing had taken place. People ate and held court in different pockets of the grounds surrounding the pavilion.

Cousin Tracy organized the kids and started the array of games for all ages. Kids of all ages from the three clans participated and all were rewarded with trinkets; none more popular than the plastic squirt gun. After the kid games were complete, it was on to cowboy golf. Only a few participants enlisted their golf ball throwing techniques to the game; yet those that participated enjoyed themselves.

Now came the second most anticipated moment of every reunion; the water balloon toss. It was for entertaining to watch as the group expanded the distance from each other. While the expanse was great for some; others had little trouble hurling their water filled balloon through the air to their partner in waiting. Several people watch their water balloons exploding upon impact on the ground. One lucky participant did indeed catch her balloon only to become drenched by its contents. Here is a picture of her just before catching it.

After the water balloon toss, the extra water bombs became fodder for the more mischievous members of the clan. For about twenty minutes the extra balloons were hurled at unsuspecting members of the family. The water was a welcomed refreshment as the day was very warm.
As the bombardment of water balloons subsided, the group moved toward the volleyball pit. In keeping with tradition, the annual "Who's playing for the Randall's clan?" discussion took place. It was quickly determined that each elder would have a spot upon the volleyball court and if more than one member of that elders clan wanted to play they'd rotate with all members of that clan. The mini-tournament started with the defending champs watching the Kokesh and Hansen battle.

It was best of 3 15-point standard scoring format. After about 40 minutes of play, the Kokesh's took the match in two straight games. A seven minute break ensued to give the Kokesh's a moment to catch their breath and obtain libation. Six members of the Randall clan took the court while 8 members took court for the Kokesh's. Even with some spectacular dives by a junior member of the Kokesh clan; the Randall Clan won the first game.

As the two groups switched sides of the court, the Kokesh family replaced some of their junior members for more senior members of the team. The strategy proved effective as the Kokesh's took a quick lead and held it for most of the game. With the Kokesh's serving for game point, the Randall clan mustered up some strength and forced a sideout. The score was 10-14 in favor of the Kokesh's after the sideout. The Randall's had minor success as they inched closer at 12-14 before a sideout.

Thankfully on the next serve by the Kokesh's, their Randall clan was able to achieve a quick sideout. With ace server John poised to launch the ball the Randall clan saw possible defeat and a third game become a 16-14 victory and a successful defending of the volleyball trophy. Both teams shook hands and gave congratulations to each other. Another great reunion capped with exciting volleyball action.

Slowly members of all three clans packed up their chairs, coolers, and other items. Clean up commenced. About 6;30 p.m. the last of the family members made their away from the Beach Shelter and to their cars taking with them memories of another sunny, enjoyable, and fun family reunion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CBO Warns Obama's Plan will increase costs not reduce them

I wasn’t going to discuss Health Care today but in watching the House Energy & Commerce committee and heard that the 75 page amendment that is being discussed is also being discussed by the Ways & Means and the Judiciary committees at the same time. Many of the provisions in the amendment not specifically funded while other elements are funded only for 2010 with a blank check for 2011 and so forth. The amendment being discussed as well has not been scored by the CBO.

CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said before the Senate Budget Committee that “sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount” in regards to reducing public spending on health care. CBO director Elmendorf went on to say that the bills floating through Congress “significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs.” President Obama and Democrats are trying shove Health Care reform upon Congress as a means to reign in Medicaid and Medicare costs but Elmendorf retorts, “the cure is being raised” by the legislation being pushed in both houses of Congress.

The concerns by Elmendorf are echoed by Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), as reported in the Washington post today, chair of the House Blue Dog Coalition’s health care task force, “There’s no way they can pass this bill on the House floor. Not even close.” Why, again I ask, is the President trying ram through health care reform and not allow Congress to read all the legislation prior to voting on it. An amendment by Rep. Sullivan is being discussed by the House Energy & Commerce committee even though it has not been fully read by all members of committee; which is the second amendment discussed this morning not been read prior. WHAT!!!!!

We all saw and heard the haste given to passing the Stimulus Bill earlier in the year when not one member of Congress read the bill prior to passage. The issue of Health Care is a large complex issue and the President wants to ram it through. Once again I ask why? What is he afraid of? Is he afraid the CBO numbers will just get worse or is he hoping for swift passage so the CBO cannot properly score the reform?

With that said, I’d like to update my readers on the topic of Maj. Cook and his lawsuit. Judge Clay Land dismissed the case after defense argued that Maj. Cook’s suit is “moot” because orders of deployment were previously revoked. While the logic applied by Judge Land is sound, it does not put to rest the central issue of the lawsuit; Obama’s eligibility to become President of the United States. A point was raised after I posted the discussion on the lawsuit as to how the Army acted so quickly to revoke deployment, I pose this question: What hand did the White House have to play in the quick revoking of deployment of Maj. Cook?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Health Care Industry: Control costs before establishing a public plan!

The Senate’s Health committee passed along a bill that would bring health care to more people than any other bill in the past 15 years. The trouble is that the bill does not focus solely on controlling costs. As I read the newspapers on the health care debate there is one controlling issue; need to reduce costs. Since cost of plans are increasing and the share of employee premium payments continue to rise, why are we focused on an all or nothing public option?

The president is back on television in interviews and advertisement to tout the need and press upon the American public that, “Make no mistake the status quo on health care is not an option for the United States of America.” While I agree with this stance, the simple notion that a public option will suffice and bring done costs is insane. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, stated, “Our broken system is working very well for private health insurers but not for American consumers.”

The answer from the Obama administration and many Democrats is a public option. Medicare and Medicaid are going to be bankrupt. Many will point to the escalating cost of health care as the root issue. I beg to differ. The root cause is beaurocratic involvement. The Government does do some things well, which may be way the Framers looked to limited the size of government, but they do not do entitlement programs well. Our Congress has mismanaged social security by allowing it to be part of the general fund and not leaving it in the special fund it was originally established in.

I agree something needs to change. The change needs to take place with costs. Before any public plan can be established or even discussed, we need to control the costs of health care. Government can influence cost control, not by offering a public option, by regulating the industry.

First, allow any citizen in any state to be able to purchase a health care plan from any state in the union. By opening up the options it will increase competition and through increase competition American’s will see the cost of the programs become less expensive.

Secondly, mandate that every American purchase catastrophic health insurance and stipulate that insurance companies cannot reject insurance due to pre-existing conditions. While I am not a big fan of being told that I must have the insurance, I am also not a fan of a government public option that would do more harm than good.

Finally, establish guidelines for medical lawsuits with the AMA in exchange that all hospital, clinics, and doctors must take all forms of insurance. The establishment of lawsuit guidelines will assist in driving down one of the biggest expenses for the industry; medical malpractice insurance. By requiring the acceptance of all forms of insurance it will force hospital and clinics to focus on preventative care to keep people healthy.

By moving in this direction the cost to the American public will be minimal compared to the potential $2.2T that we will be looking at under the Obama plan. Contact your Senator and Representative to concentrate on cost cutting measures in the health care industry instead of establishing an expensive entitlement plan.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Army revoked deployment orders over the legitmacy of Obama as President.

During the Presidential race some noise was made about the naturalization of both McCain and Obama. While McCain produced the proper paperwork to prove his naturalization, Obama only produced a “certificate of live birth” short form that only one can get; citizen or not. Chelsea Schilling and Joe Kovacs report, Bombshell: Orders revoked for a soldier challenging prez, on the Worldnetdaily website that “A U.S. Army Reserve major from Florida scheduled to report for deployment to Afghanistan within days has had his military orders revoked after arguing he should not be required to serve under a president who has not proven his eligibility for office.”

In Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution it states, “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Prior to the revoking of U.S. Army Reserve Major Frederick Cook’s deployment several attempts have been made and thrown out of court to challenge the validity of the election results on the basis that Obama is not a natural-born citizen. According to the article no explanation or reason was given for the order being revoked.

Major Cook is arguing that “without a legitimate president as commander-in-chief, members of the U.S. military in overseas actions could be determined to be “war criminals and subject to prosecution.” A hearing to discuss the case will take place this Thursday in federal court. Why is this not getting more play in the Obama media?

In the past many of the attempts to obtain Obama’s birth certificate in long form, which is a requirement of those running for office to disclose, have been rebuffed , the fact that the Army revoked the order to send Major Cook to Afghanistan is a small victory while putting an end to the question of Obama’s birth. Many in the mass media have denoted this as a footnote in history and hysteria of the extreme right wing.

If that were the case, why than did the Army revoke the deployment order when challenged on the basis of the legitimacy of Obama to act as commander-in-chief? To put this issue to rest all Obama needs to do is produce the long form of the birth certificate otherwise we could see more servicemen or women requesting their orders revoked on the basis of their legitimacy.

Here is the link to the article that the Drudge Report posted on their site. It is time that Americans know the truth about their President. Is he a natural-born citizen?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Iacocca's words still applicable to Obama's adminstration.

In his book, Where Have all the Leaders Gone? Lee Iacocca writes :

“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bit: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking the hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean. I’ve had enough. How about you?”

Lee Iacocca was writing about the Bush administration. The interesting point by the excerpt above is that much of what Mr. Iacocca writes is applicable to Obama administration as well. Media is still waving their pom-poms, President Obama is taking deficits to new heights (just hit $1T this morning), we have move our focus from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and we are still leading corporate crooks off in handcuffs.

A wave of nationalization is flowing across the United States. It started with our financial industry where regulations put in place prior to the meltdown were not enforced; rather Congress asked, begged, and strong armed the financial markets to offer mortgages to those who could not afford them. Now those same “leaders” in Congress are crying foul. Leadership, as Iacocca mentions, is failing us.

President Obama nationalized the auto industry by taking controlling interest in GM. The “Leadership” forced GM in to bankruptcy while Michigan is experiencing unemployment rate at 14.1% and expected to go higher as GM and Chrysler emerge from bankruptcy. Now the Auto Czar, Steven Rattner, is stepping down amid a kickback scandal; yet the Obama administration gives Rattner a “vote of confidence”. I agree with Iacocca in his question and outrage at the lack of “leadership” in both public and private sectors.

America has been a country of innovators. That aspect of America is being threatened by Obama administration. No business is too big to fail!!! Markets still exist for the products of companies that are labeled “too big to fail” and smaller companies will pick up the pieces once the larger ones fail. The nationalization of the financial and automotive markets will hamper growth in both industries. The next move is for Obama to nationalize the Health Care industry through offering a public option.

A public option is not leadership in action. It’s an enabling program. To bring leadership into the Health Care system, do it through regulation to guide the course. Many options are on the board, some of which I have stated in a previous blog, but Obama is sticking to the public option as the savior for the Health Care industry. The public option will not advance the Health Care industry; rather it will stagnate it. The public option is not one that will spur innovation that Iacocca said lacked back in 2007.

Now I did not agree with all of actions taken under the Bush administration and the “Change” candidate is not doing much more than Bush that excites me either. Yes, the Bush administration stripped away freedoms through the guise of protecting America post 9-11 but Obama is going to bankrupt America before he can nationalize it. Either aspect, bankruptcy or nationalization, are not an America I want to see take place.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The next smoking ban: Military personnel

Monday morning is here again. As I sip on my green tea, I came across a small news article in the Star Tribune that had the tag line “Can soldiers handle combat pressure without smokes?” At first I thought this question silly until I read the details. According to the article, a study done by the Institute of Medicine reported that “30% of active-duty military personnel and about 22% of veterans use tobacco.” The average in civil life is 20%.

While I understand having a strict code and chain of command in the military, I fail to see where an outright ban of smoking will benefit the morale of the company. Set aside the health risks – current and future – have on the soldier. Gary Stein posed this question in his article, Military should butt out of troops’ smoking habits, “The U.S. military can send brave and injured troops home to incredibly hellacious hospital conditions – or have you already forgotten about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal?”

That is just part of the intrusion being made. A soldier, especially fighting in the Middle East, has bigger threats facing them as they try to keep the peace and/or eradicate the terrorists. I cannot imagine the stress that one experiences while being under the constant threat of death. Retired Gen. Russel Honore quipped on CNN, “When you’re tired and you’ve been going days on end with minimum sleep, and you are not getting the proper meals on time, that hit of tobacco can make a difference” in response to the relief smoking can give the stress soldiers are under.

While suicide rates are on the rise among those in the military since the start of the war efforts in the Middle East. I am not saying that smoking is a cure or a determinant to suicide. Retired Gen. Honore acknowledges what many who smoke in America already know, the hit of tobacco can bring a perceive calm to the day. Now if a man or a woman in the military feels the need to light up a cigarette after the stress of combat so be it.

Now if tobacco was illegal than we have a different conversation on the topic. The call for the ban is political correctness gone too far. With the big push by the Obama administration in overhauling the health care system and it is reported, by the Pentagon, that smoking in the military costs $846M a year in “medical care and lost productivity”. Let’s not confuse the argument.

Simply put. Tobacco is legal, some, 30%, of active-duty military personnel use tobacco to relieve the stress of the day. While everyone understands the health effects on a person, at the end of the day it is a personnel choice not something the government needs to determine.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hamburg City Council Agenda - July 14, 2009

7:00. Call City Council Meeting to Order @ 7:00 PM

  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Miscellaneous Business (Public Comments)
  • Agenda Review (Added Items) and Adoption
  • Old City Business (Memo)

7:10. Fire Department Report

  • 2008/2009 FEMA Grant
  • Fire Department By-Laws
    o Election vs. Selection
  • Relief Association Financial Statement for 2007 & 2008
    o Municipal Contribution for 2009 ($34,969)
    o Municipal Contribution for 2010 ($42,101)
    o Pension Increase for Reporting Year 2010

7:25. Arlington Baseball Club

  • Use of City Bleachers for State Amateur Baseball Tournament

7:30. Dennis’ Report (Public Works & Utilities)

  • Project List (Added Items)
  • Sidewalk Replacement (Hard Stuff Masonry & Concrete)
    o Railroad Street (Maria Ave to Sophia Ave)
  • Seal Coating (Southwest Paving)
    o CC/Fire Hall/WTP Parking Lot
  • LMCIT Loss Control Survey on June 11, 2009
  • Cooling Fans for Community Hall
  • Hours Worked (Overtime) for 2009
  • General Maintenance Schedules

7:50. Deputy Clerk Report

  • Delinquent Utility Bills Report
  • MCFOA Clerk’s Conference (July 13-17)
    o Work Hours for Conference (Approve)

8:00. City Clerk/Treasurer Report

  • Agreement Establishing Regional Safety Group
  • I/I Abatement Program
    o MPCA Approval of Final Plans & Specifications
    o Geotechnical Evaluation Report (Braun Intertec)
    o Proposed (Revised) Project Schedule
    o Application to Carver County for Water Management Rules Conformance and Approval
  • LGA Unallotment for 2009 & 2010
    o 2009 Budget Items
  • Building Permits Report for 2009
  • City Zoning Ordinances
  • Public Nuisance Letters
  • Briggs & Morgan Conflict Waiver Letter Request
    o Prospective Consent to Briggs and Morgan’s Representation of Xcel Energy & Its Affiliates
  • Xcel Energy Letter (Customer Feedback) – (Informational)

8:30. City Council Reports

  • Councilmember Mueller Report (Sewer & Water)
  • Councilmember Cummiskey Report (Streets)
  • Councilmember Trebesch Report (Buildings)
  • Councilmember Barnes Report (Parks)
  • Mayor Malz Report

8:45. Approve Claims List for July 2009

8:45. Adjourn Meeting

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cap and Trade: Ponzi Scheme

While President Obama is in Italy, one of his goals was to build upon the Cap and Trade notion to curb emissions. Major push back came from India, China, and other developing countries that see high-carbon emission energy sources as a requirement to assist in creating economic development in their countries. Dr. James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote in his article G-8 Failure Reflects U.S. Failure on Climate Change on the The Huffington Post:

“For all its "green" aura, Waxman-Markey locks in fossil fuel business-as-usual and garlands it with a Ponzi-like "cap-and-trade" scheme. Here are a few of the bill's egregious flaws:

  • It guts the Clean Air Act, removing EPA's ability to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants.
  • It sets meager targets -- 2020 emissions are to be a paltry 13% less than this year's level -- and sabotages even these by permitting fictitious "offsets," by which other nations are paid to preserve forests - while logging and food production will simply move elsewhere to meet market demand.
  • Its cap-and-trade system, reports former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Robert Shapiro, "has no provisions to prevent insider trading by utilities and energy companies or a financial meltdown from speculators trading frantically in the permits and their derivatives."
  • It fails to set predictable prices for carbon, without which, Shapiro notes, "businesses and households won't be able to calculate whether developing and using less carbon-intensive energy and technologies makes economic sense," thus ensuring that millions of carbon-critical decisions fall short.”

I agree with Dr. Hansen that “Cap and Trade” is a Ponzi scheme being played out in Congress. The day that the House of Representatives discussed the bill it was comical to watch the wheeling and dealing being done on the House floor to gain the votes needed to pass. Also, there were about 300 pages of change that passed the Rules Committee at the wee hours of the morning on the day the bill came to the House floor. Representatives on the House floor all but admitted that they had not seen nor read the 300 pages. An official copy wasn’t even put together until the debate was nearly done.

If Congress and Obama’s administration are serious about reducing “Green House” gasses than scrap the Cap and Trade notion. There will need to be a transition period from fossil fuel to renewable energy. So let’s plan for that. Phase out coal, natural gas, and oil over the next 15 years.

Over the next 15 years as the fossil fuels are phased out, America opens up our country for oil exploration and place tariffs on foreign oil and natural gas. Wind and solar are not the only uses of power that needs to be explored. During the 15 year phase out, America can build nuclear power plants and remove the executive order put in place by President Carter that prohibits the re-using of spent rods in nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power is reliable and safer than 20 years ago. Nuclear power creates jobs and builds communities. As I wrote in Obama short sighted on summer job program posted June 8th, nuclear power plants creates between 1,400 and 1,800 jobs while establishing between 400 to 700 permanent jobs which are “36 percent more than average salaries in the local area (per NEI).” The Cap and Trade bill does not account for nuclear power in the 1500 pages of legislation. President Obama and Congress scrap the bill and replace with a program that includes and pushes nuclear power. As we phase out the coal plant, we can build nuclear power plants across the street.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Race for Governor of Minnesota has started!!!

Gov. Pawlenty announced several weeks ago that he will not seek another term as Governor of Minnesota. Although the election is 17 months away, many are starting to line up for their party nomination. With a wide open field and several of candidates to choose from, my neighbor and I decided to hear what one of those candidates had to say first hand.

Last night at the Chanhassen American Legion, Rep. Paul Kohls held a kick off meeting for his campaign to become the next Governor of Minnesota. Mr. Kohls spoke for about a hour on what it will take to win the nomination and the Governorship, gave insight into his position and character, and finally asked for support of those in the room. Back in April at the Tea Party held at Capitol, Chris Baker challenged the crowd to not end their participation in the process with the Tea Party gathering.

I took that personally which was part of the reason why I attended the meeting last night. Rep. Kohls has been out to Hamburg to hear the biggest issue facing the city. In fielding questions from the City Council and the general public, he didn't use vague terms or political talk when answering the concerns. Since that meeting, I have corresponded with Rep. Kohls to gain greater understanding of his stance on issues that concern me the most.

During the meeting last night many questions were asked but I still left the meeting with a few questions unanswered. I did leave my questions for Rep. Kohls and look forward to hearing his responses. As an Independent, I will find a candidate to support that best fits my core ideals. From my conversations with Rep. Kohls and observations from his website, my support is leaning his way.

That is my challenge to all that read my blog. Find a candidate that represents your ideals best. While there will be several candidates vying for your vote for Governor, take a moment to visit each of their websites to learn more about them. One can start by visiting

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Booster Seat: An assault on Common Sense

As summer drags on and people prepared for their 4th of July weekend a new Minnesota law went into effect on July 1; Child Safety Seat and Booster Law. Per the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety website,, the new booster seat law requires, “a child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to be fastened in a child safety seat or booster. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall - whichever comes first.” The website states that the new law changes the booster seat requirement from age to height basis.

While I understand the shift in philosophy but do we really need a law? This law, much like the law of requiring seat belt use in general, is an insult to Minnesotans intelligence. The new booster seat law simply says that Minnesotan Adults are not capable to make common sense decisions and in order to protect ourselves from ourselves we need another law.

In a conversation I had yesterday with a good friend, a point was raised. What if someone comes in from out of town with 3 children that under the age of 8 and are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches? Will car rental companies be required to provide them booster seats? It is just ridiculous that people allow the government to pass such laws. The old common sense benchmark for children has been that if your child can sit with their back against the seat and can touch the floor of the car an adult seat belt is all they need.

Instead of doing a public service bulletin touting the common sense approach the Minnesota State Legislature feels it’s more important to pass a law that will create revenue. When the Senate was debating the topic, earlier this year, Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) stated that, “We potentially in Minnesota will get $260,000 over the next two years to help provide this education and to also help provide the booster seats.” The money comes from federal transportation budget which creates stirs the pot of State right erosion.

Simply put, seat belt and booster seat laws are telling every Minnesotan and American that you are not intelligent enough to protect yourself so we must pass a law.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Circus at Staples; RIP Michael Jackson

No matter how old you are there is probably at least one song of Michael Jackson that moves you. Whether you remember Michael Jackson as the “King of Pop” or the alleged child molester, one undeniable truth exists; Americans love their celebrities. Where else can one have their memorial ceremony, than in American society, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California? The financially strapped city is using valuable resources to host a public memorial today for Michael Jackson. Estimates are that it will cost the city roughly $2M.

For some reason the Jackson family did not want to hold the memorial at the Neverland Ranch. Why might that be? Janet Jackson said at the BET award last week that he was “family”. If that is really what it is about than why not have a private ceremony for close friends and family? Why make it a circus event and put a financially strapped city on the hook for it? Greed. Pure and simple. The Jacksons have been in and out of the limelight for the past ten years.

Michael Jackson is in financial ruin and was on the verge of a major concert tour that according to some experts was to rake in over $400M. Rumors are still circulating as to the cause of death and what exactly happened. Perhaps we may never really know. I suspect that after today’s circus in Los Angeles the family will ask for the media to leave Michael rest in peace. There are bigger things going on in the world right now. America is embroiled in a war against terror, huge budget deficits, increasing unemployment, plummeting housing market, and a President that didn’t have “complete information” when jamming through the Stimulus bill. I sure hope he gets complete information for the Cap and Trade and Health Care reform otherwise America can kiss the “American Dream” goodbye.

The media won’t report that though for multiple reasons. Michael Jackson’s death is unfortunate and I feel for the family’s lose but I know that Rahm Emanuel is seeing the media coverage as cover to advance his cause; bankrupting America.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What a weekend!!!

Crazy weekend. Not from the standpoint of the 4th of July or what was done over the weekend; rather the news headlines. I left Friday morning for the hinterlands of northern Minnesota where I would not have immediate access to news sources, email, or television. The radio kept us informed on the big topics and we did step in the house to see the final 10 laps of NASCAR on Saturday night.

To start the long 4th of July weekend, America saw increased attacks on insurgents in Afghanistan and woke Monday morning to the death of Robert McNamara. In between that time the political landscape saw major changes. Gov. Palin announced that she was going to step down at the end of July as Governor of Alaska. Rumors and speculation have swirled since her announced. The rumors got another boast on Monday morning when Joe Scarsborough suggested that perhaps Gov. Palin will have a television show.

Mr. Scarsborough mentioned on MSNBC that the timing was interesting that Gov. Palin is stepping down while FoxNews has not renewed Gretta Van Susteren contract. There is no arguing that Gov. Palin is a ratings boaster. The highest rated shows last year on Saturday Night Live took place when Gov. Palin made appearances. Politically, I do not understand her announcement to step down. Granted Gov. Pawlenty announced that he would not seek re-election as Minnesota Governor but he will at least ride the wave out. The move by Palin appears to be political suicide. If it is not it could usher in a new method of branding in politics.

The weekend also brought another earth moving headline when it was reported that Steve McNair was found dead from several gunshot wounds with a 20-yard woman who also was apparently shot by the same gun. Authorities believe the gun found at the scene was the murder weapon. Just this morning it was reported that McNair and the young woman had been "dating" for the past few months.

This week will finally, possibly, see the last conversation of Michael Jackson as a ceremony is planned at the Staples Center. The kicker of the ceremony is it expected to cost the city of Los Angeles $2M. Last I recall, the state of California had a budget shortfall in excess of $25M. Why is the Jackson family not footing the bill? Be interesting to see the fallout from that.

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July weekend.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Obesity: Americans become active before the Government Mandates it.

I walked out this morning to get my paper, Star Tribune, and read the headlines as I wondered back into the house. The headline that caught my eye was “More fit than fat: State’s kids No.1”. A report was released by Trust for America’s Health on Wednesday. Minnesota did score well in comparison to other states; adults are 31st while youth (10-17) is No. 1. The report suggests that in order to combat obesity is to provide “less junk food at schools, more home cooking and less eating out, more gym time for students, limits on children’s computer and television time, and more workplace wellness programs.”

As the President Obama pushes his “single payer” public option for health care, we will see more accountability stripped away from the general public and put on the government. A hint to this is a quote by former Medicare Administrator Mark McClellan made when talking about Medicare and the report findings that people in the 55-64 age range are “much heavier than today’s seniors”. McClellan said (New report warns obesity in America is still growing problem,, “Add to that the fact that the latest evidence suggests that people with obesity have healthcare costs that are 20- to 30- percent higher than people who aren’t obese and you’ve got the markings for an even more severe financial challenge.”

I am disturbed by the list suggested to fight obesity. The first point is to provide less junk food in schools, while this makes sense but is that really where the fight of obesity should start? Right now the Senate is considering a federal tax on soda and other sugary drinks as a potential revenue stream to offset the cost of President Obama’s “single payer” public option for health insurance. The trouble with this approach is it will not dissuade people from drinking these drinks; rather it will just increase the cost of their consumption as companies, like Coke, will pass along the tax onto the consumer. As Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Association appropriately points out, “Taxes are not going to teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle” (

If we are to get the youth off the obese track, adult Americans need to be accountable and role models. Granted schools can assist by implementing the some of the suggestions as less junk food and more gym time the success of any obese combating program falls on the shoulders of those taking care of the youth. During last summer Olympics a lot was made of the number of calories Michael Phelps consumed on a daily basis; 8000 to 10000 calories a day. A lesson can be learned here that it does not matter how many calories are consumed; rather is how active one is during the day.

To consume more calories in the day that one will burn will lead to weight gain. Some argue that part of one’s body chemistry is genetic. Although that may be so, we all have the ability to influence it. Adult Americans themselves need to get off the couch, away from the blackberry, and get outside. Little things can be done. A walk after dinner, throwing the ball around with a child, participating in a recreational sport, or go for bike rides at the local park are all good ways to work off calories consumed. Incorporating these activities into family life will assist in raising kids that are more active and less likely to sit in front of the television or computer.

Taxing “unhealthy” food will not make our society to change their actions. It will only make it more expensive for those that do eat and drink the “unhealthy” foods. It is a personal choice on what you want to eat and if you want to exercise. Just as it’s one’s choice to be obese. The trouble is that as Government establishes a “single payer” public option that choice will be stripped away. As it was stated above by Mr. McClellan that obesity will increase health care costs, those that want a public option will not want to pay for your choice of consumption or lifestyle. So get out there and set the example before the Government mandates it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Driving: Entitlement?

State lawmakers in Massachusetts are setting the stage as legislation moves through the Legislature in dealing with an aging driving population. The bill, if enacted, will require “vision and road tests every five years for all drivers 85 and older” according to a report in the Boston Globe. The catalyst of the bill is a recent accident on June 14th that took the life of Diya Patel. In a hearing yesterday “state Senator Brian A. Joyce introduced Nihan Patel, whose 4-year-old niece, Diya Patel, died on June 14, a day after being struck by a car driven by an 86-year-old woman” (Lawmakers vow to ‘fast track’ elderly driver legislation, Boston Globe, Matt Collette).

In the past I have discussed my disdain for seat belt laws but in this case I am in complete agreement. Personally, waiting until 85 is far too late. Driving in a privilege that many take for granted. If things continue done the path of entitlement – housing, jobs, and health care – soon the entitlement to a driver license may be next. After one obtains their license, it is important to adhere to the rules of the road. Now, I will admit that not every “rule of the road” do I follow; I am not alone.

That being said, it is time for the DMV’s across the United States to institute more testing. The attempt being made in Massachusetts is a step in the right direction. My suggestion is to reduce the age to 50.