In 1975 & 76 the United States was experiencing a crisis of confidence. Unemployment was at 8.5%, our allies in South Vietnam, who 58,000 American servicemen gave their lives to defend, had just been overrun and the reverberations of an OPEC embargo were sending oil prices from $15 a barrel to $100. At the same time Paul Ehrlich was warning about overpopulation and starvation, Newsweek was telling of a coming ice age and many thought we were conceding Eastern Europe to the Soviets.
It was into this emotional and economic morass stepped Ronald Wilson Reagan with a message of hope…[to read more click below]
Every complexity in the 4 million-word tax code was created at the behest of a muscular interest group that tenaciously defends it. Which is why tax simplification would be political reform: Writing lucrative wrinkles into the code is one of the primary ways the political class confers favors…[to read more click below]
There really is a class war in America today, but it’s not between any of these Marxist bumper cars. The three real classes are the Ruling Class, the Dependency Class, and Everyone Else…[to read more click below]
Sarah Palin has chosen sides in the ongoing feud between the Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“I’m on team Rand,” she said on Fox News Saturday. “Rand Paul understands. He gets the whole notion of don’t-tread-on-me government. Whereas Chris Christie is for big government and…[to read more click below]
Three years, 5,000 door hangers and several garage sales after its opening, Beta Academy has a long waiting list but an empty bank account.But if the school’s founder, Latisha Andrews, has her way, Beta, a private elementary school that operates out of the Houston Christian Temple Assembly of God Church, will soon transform into a new operation: a publicly financed charter school.If the state approves Andrews’s application this fall, Beta Academy will join…[to read more click below]
While the City Council discusses the budget it faces several challenges that it did not deal with a year ago. This its first budget since firing without cause City Manager Lee Ann Dumbauld. Dumbauld’s reputation was as a budget wizard. Working the numbers without her will require more of every Councilperson. This Council has a year of expectations as well as a slew of campaign promises behind it. Even with $31.7 million in additional revenues (includes LP&L revenues) balancing the budget will require fiscal discipline and hard work.
While taxes are too often over-watched to the exclusion of revenue sources and spending, there are three more subtle indicators to watch in the budget process. These indicators measure Council’s intestinal fortitude in how it balances the budget.
First is maintenance. Mayor Glen Robertson, Councilwoman Latrelle Bright Joy and Councilman Jim Gerlt all repeatedly beat the maintenance drum in their 2012 campaigns alleging that Lubbock has failed to take care of its buildings and resources. This budget has over $6 million in maintenance and that will be an attractive target for those looking for room to balance the budget without cutting favorite programs. Deferring maintenance feels like free cash to politicians.
A second indicator is Council’s relationship with LP&L. If Council insists on robbing LP&L coffers for $3 million for street lights we’ll know it has learned little from latest events. As has been evident in recent meetings, when it comes to LP&L the Lubbock City Council is long on rhetoric and short on solutions. If Council does not give up the street lights grab you’ll know it isn’t serious about easing ratepayer pain.
The third indicator to read is the three cents of the property tax that is dedicated to LEDA, Lubbock Economic Development Alliance. Taxpayer funded economic development is always controversial but it is the reality we live with. States, regions and cities compete for jobs by incentivizing companies to relocate and expand in places like Lubbock. LEDA is funded by three cents on the property tax. There exists ongoing pressure to use all or part of that three pennies to balance the budget. To do so would be a mistake. Sometimes imperfect, the relatively small amount of money given to LEDA has produced dividends of good jobs. We cannot abandon the jobs playing field because we don’t like the price of admission.
Council’s challenge will be its ability to focus on essentials while disciplining itself to balance short-term political realities with long-term best interests of Lubbock and the larger community that supports the Lubbock economic base.
It’s an odd political conundrum that Councilman Victor Hernandez finds himself in right now. Of the Council members making statements about LP&L, his are the most responsible and reasoned that we hear. We’ll support a conservative approach regardless of who advocates it. “An historical” perspective, as suggested by Councilman Hernandez, will show that Council micromanagement and draft privileges on the checkbook of LP&L are exactly what voters expected to stop with the charter amendment election separating the two.
But in Councilman Hernandez’ circumstance, that being a November recall election, advocating against the hysteria of the day may drive angry voters to vote for his recall in November. This cannot be lost on Hernandez’, a keenly intelligent, veteran political player. Hernandez voted for earlier rate hikes. Rate hikes that would have buffered the utility bill shock that swept ratepayers in June and July.
As his mortgage company can testify, it’s hard to out-think Victor in the end game. We’ll be interested in watching his end game on LP&L.
[It’s always a bad idea for politics to drive utilities. Minneapolis has no public utility and is debating forming one for all of the wrong reasons. —Sandstorm Scholar]
In a packed public hearing today, the Minneapolis City Council heard from dozens of people on whether the city should form its own gas and electrical utilities.
Prodded by environmentalists who say the utility companies aren’t doing enough to combat global warming, some council members want voters to decide if the city should pursue forming a public utility. The city’s franchise agreements with CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy expire next year…[click link below to read more]