Pierce Township, OH Fire/EMS 2014 Levy: Need is There, But the Open-Ended Levy is Not Reasonable

A 2.80 mil levy is on the November 4 ballot for Pierce Township in Clermont County, Ohio. While the request for equipment purchases in the short term seems necessary, it’s unfortunate the levy should be doomed because of what it is actually asking the voters. The levy, as written on the ballot, is “for a continuing period time.”

According to the township web site, “The Pierce Township Fire District has been postponing expenditures over the past five years to stay within current levy revenues and in anticipation of the [Duke] Beckjord [power plant] closure.”

The needs are real:

1) Replace an aging 1991 fire pumper which backs up the 2002 and 2008 units. One-time estimated cost: $500,000.
2) A fire house must replace an inefficient and obsolete oil furnace installed in 1964. One-time probable cost: $20,000
3) Pay for part-time Firefighters/EMT’s needs to be raised. On-going expenditure, the increase is not stated.
4) Two aging ambulances will need to be replaced soon. One-time cost, amount not stated on the township site, but Clermont Liberty PAC estimates them to be $200,000 each.
5) Costs for firefighter gear and SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) bottles have risen to $30,000 annually. On-going expense, the increase is not stated.
6) The loss of revenue from the Beckjord power plant closure is $330,000 annually.

The Clermont Liberty PAC understandably objects to the apparent lack of accruing funds for major anticipated costs such as a fire pumper. While the Township probably should have asked the voters for the funds earlier, it could be given a pass this time. However, the ability to sell this tax increase to the public would have been better served by having two separate levies on the ballot.

Township’s Assumptions

Their data estimates the additional revenue from a 2.80 mil levy to be $937,000 annually. One-time expenditures would be approximately $900,000+ along with the temporary annual loss of $330,000 for a total of about $1.25 million for the first year. The loss of Beckjord will eventually be covered by increases in new businesses or residences. How long this will take is anyone’s guess.

Suggested Proposal

Granting that the Township is accurate in its annual need to cover both one-time and on-going operating budget is $937,000, a 4-year plan would generate about $3.75 million. The 2.8 mils could be divided as follows:

Levy #1 for short-term needs, 4 years at 1.7 mils. This comes from $1.25 million up front (new pumper, furnace, two ambulances and the first year of $330,000 in lost revenue) plus the $330,000 annually for another three years for a total of about $2.25 million. This is 60% of the total increase in revenue for that time frame, hence, 60% of the proposed 2.80 mils.

Levy #2, on-going, for operating budget would be the remaining 40% or 1.1 mils. True, this may produce an annual surplus as annual budget increases from on-going expenses were not estimated. The voters would expect to be shown how much on the “+” side this works out annually, some of which should be set aside for future needs.

Under this proposal, the short-term hit to the voters is still the original requested 47.5%, but for a fixed time (four years). After that, the increase goes to a more palatable 18.6%. If the $330,000 Beckjord loss has not been covered by other sources within the four years, a smaller temporary levy could be put to ballot.

Conclusion

The current request for a 2.80 mil increase with no time limit to cover on-going operating expenses in addition to short term replacement costs is unreasonable.
It would be better for the community if this levy were defeated and two separate levies, one on-going and the other of a fixed duration, were put on the ballot next spring.

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If the Constitution, the Right to Life and Freedom of Religion are Important to You, Then…

…a Republican majority must be elected in the Senate on November 4th.

There is no other alternative. And this comes from someone with no party affiliation.

With a change in the Senate’s majority, we will have both houses of Congress under the watchful eye of those who respect our Constitution. It will be easier to thwart the President from using his infamous pen to do everything from appointing NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) members illegally to unconstitutionally changing laws without the consent of Congress.1,2

The Democratic Party, the current Senate majority, acts as if human pregnancy is a disease which is implied by Obamacare. As such, it rationalizes that human life may be arbitrarily ended at any time before birth under the guise of “reproductive rights” instead of the murder which is actually taking place. This party prides itself on being the champion of the oppressed, yet it is willing to deny the basic freedom of the right to life from which all other freedoms and social programs arise!3

Our nation has also witnessed new lows regarding the basic right of religious freedom during the Obama Administration. At one time, the wisdom of George Washington’s exhortation in his farewell address was self-evident in that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Now, many are oblivious to the dangerous shift to “freedom of worship,” prominent in the President’s and in Hillary Clinton’s speeches.4 In other words, you can keep your religion, just confine it to the church buildings. Now that’s doubly worrisome.

Obamacare provides an example of this rationale. The act which requires employer-sponsored insurance to cover contraceptives (and abortifacients) has “religious exemptions.” Thus, some are allowed to skip this part – so long as they sign an agreement permitting a third party to implement within their organizations what they find morally objectionable. It’s a classic “we won’t force you to drive your car for the bank robbery, just say you agree to have someone else drive your car for this.” Sure, that’s OK.

We can continue to allow Sen. Harry Reid, or possibly another dutiful disciple of the President in the next Congress, to sit on a pile of legislation passed with bipartisan support and designed to put renewed vigor into our chronically sluggish economy, or we can put a Republican majority in the Senate and dare President Obama to veto what the United States needs.5,6

Thirty-four states will decide thirty-six Senate seats this coming Tuesday. They will choose either “The Pen and a Phone” or the Constitution and the philosophy which formed it.

1 – “Obama Plays Cat and Mouse with Congress and His NLRB Appointments, http://www.cartaremi.wordpress.com, 1/28/2013

2 – “25 Violations of Law By President Obama and His Administration,” http://www.committeeforjustice.org

3 – “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation (emphasis is in the original:
‘The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin…’
‘The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined…’” – from paragraph 2273 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO, 1994 (with imbedded quotations from Donum vitae which were included in the paragraph)

4 – “Why ‘Freedom of Worship’ is Not Enough,” by Ashley E. Samelson, http://www.firstthings.com, 2/22/2010

5 – “Jenkins: 352 bills are sitting on Harry Reid’s desk, awaiting action,” 7/29/2014, http://www.lynnjenkins.house.gov

6 – “Harry Reid’s Obstructionism,” by Andrew Stiles, 1/14/2014, http://www.nationalreview.com

Union Matters are More Important than State and Federal Elections?

The issue of requiring photo ID’s in order to vote has one of the most clearly defined battle lines in the minds of the general population. Democrats and the ACLU clearly don’t want it because they claim it discriminates against minority voters and addresses a voter fraud issue which they don’t believe exists, despite data to the contrary.1,2,3

This made a friend’s information very interesting. He is not a member of a political party and belongs to the city workers’ union of a major Ohio city. Knowing the predominance of Democrats and Obama supporters among his fellow union members, he found it ironic that he was required to present a photo ID in order to vote in a union election!

Could this contradiction be an aberration not found elsewhere among the proponents of less-secure elections?

Not surprisingly, it isn’t. In King County, Washington, the executives of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 587 announced that “Your King County or Washington State picture ID is required to cast your vote.”4

Meanwhile, “The United Auto Workers Local 6000 has compared concerns about voter fraud to belief in the fictional Loch Ness monster and Yeti.” In addition, they claim that the American Legislative Exchange Council’s goal of requiring photo ID’s for general elections is for hindering those voters who are likely to support a “progressive” agenda. Yet, they require a photo ID to be presented whenever one of their members wishes to opt out of paying union dues as an exercise of his freedom under Michigan’s new right-to-work law.5

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98’s election notice of September 25, 2014 indicated that “Members will be asked to present a Local 98 membership card, driver’s license, or other similar form of identification at the polls.” Five Executive Board positions were at stake, more important than Congressional members, state governors or even the U.S. presidency?

So, why the requirement of photo identification at these union elections?

Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center wrote it best:

“They (union officials) would probably say this is the only way to protect the validity of the election, and to insure that both the losing and winning sides respect the outcome.
They would probably also say it is not fair to union members when non-members cast ballots, because doing so might cancel out the decision of eligible voters, or otherwise affect the result of a union election. Further, not maintaining voter standards would undermine public confidence that the serving union leaders are the true choice of the membership.
Exactly. In this case the union is right, and state lawmakers pass voter ID laws for the same reasons.”4

Electoral integrity should not be invoked to protect one’s turf when in the majority. It’s about protecting the system which defends our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1 – “Democrats push back against voter ID laws,” by Stephanie Condon, CBS News, 5/17/2012
2 – “’Thousands of cases’ of voter fraud in North Carolina,” by Ed Morrissey, 4/3/2014, http://www.hotair.com
3 – “Obama: The ‘Real Voter Fraud’ Comes From ‘People Who Try To Deny Our Rights’” posted 4/11/2014 on http://www.huffingtonpost.com
4 – “Union requires photo ID to vote,” by Paul Guppy (Vice President for Research), http://www.washingtonpolicy.org, 9/3/2014
5 – “Union Says Photo IDs not Necessary to Vote – Unless You Vote to Leave Union,” by Tom Gantert of Michigan CapCon, 10/10/2014, posted on http://www.thedailydrift.com

Sometimes “You Guys” is Just Too Informal

The beauty of our victory in the Revolutionary War went beyond the self-governance it brought us. It also began to dismantle the age-old custom of social classes which existed in European societies. We railed against taxation without representation, but we also despised the apparent snobbery of those who were born into nobility without having done anything to earn their elevated positions.

But we almost fell back into that same arrangement a few short years after the Treaty of Paris in 1783 by which Great Britain formally recognized our independence. When George Washington was elected as our new nation’s first head of state, many lofty forms of address were being discussed by Congress. Instead of being “Your Elective Highness” or other terms dangerously reminiscent of the culture we broke away from, it was decided to call him simply “Mr. President” to Washington’s great relief.1

Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution ends with “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” Nevertheless, we still address Queen Elizabeth as “Your Majesty” and “Your Royal Highness” for Prince Philip, to counter our reputation that “British royals are imminently familiar with Americans and our lack of practice with the forms of address used when addressing nobility.2

As our young nation grew, we were noted for the collegial relationships we felt with our Commanders-in-Chief. “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too”, “Honest Abe”, “Ike” and “Jimmy” are a few examples of this sense of familiarity. Even so, we continue to show respect for the office, if not for the individual we may disagree with. Therefore, we address him as “Mr. President” not “Barack” or impolite descriptives.

But like any trend, it can drift beyond what is respectful as it filters down to the average individual. While growing up in the 1960s suburbs, I began hearing a few friends referring to friends’ parents by their first names. Any suggestion that my sisters and I would consider doing the same was effectively dismissed by my parents, to my everlasting gratitude after I became an adult.

Consequently, when I became my company’s representative to a national standards organization in my early 40’s, I always addressed my 80+ year old mentor in the paper permanence committee as “Mr.Wilson,” not “Bill” as his peers or near-peers could address him. To do otherwise was inconceivable and was confirmed by his humble acceptance of my show of respect.3,4

It is this background which causes me to cringe increasingly each time I hear restaurant servers in their 20’s or 30’s ask “How are you guys doing?” or “What can I get you guys?” to members of my parents’ generation or even to mine.

Informality can be a healthy way of breaking down those barriers which inhibit productive communication. This has helped our experimental republic continue to advance. However, all of us should restrict certain levels of familiarity for use with our peers or to those younger lest we erode the respect necessary to maintain a civilized society.

1 – “Happily the matter is now done with, I hope never to be revived.” – George Washington. Article by
Harlow Giles Unger, “How His ‘Highness’ George Washington Became ‘Mr. President’”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com, 2/14/2014
2 – Robert Hickey, http://www.formsofaddress.info/Prime Minister.html, author of “Honor & Respect”
3 – William K. Wilson, founding chairman of the ASTM D6.20 Sub-Committee on Paper Permanence and its head for over 30 years
4 – For me to call him by his first name would have been similar to the time Michelle Obama put her arm around Queen Elizabeth during an official visit. Ibid.

Regarding Private, Family Matters

“Government should not intrude on private family matters,” said President Obama in January 2011.1

“About 78% of Canadians believe that abortion is a private matter between a woman and her doctor.”2

”In May, 2012, the White House announced President Obama’s opposition to a bill to prohibit the use of abortion to kill an unborn child simply because the child is not of the sex desired by the parents. The White House said that the government should not ‘intrude’ on ‘private family matters.’ (H.R.3541)”3

The message is clear: proponents of baby-killing want to hide behind the “private, family matter” facade as a justification to fighting restrictions of abortion.

As a pro-life individual, I must disagree with them because abortion is an intrinsic evil as it denies the most vulnerable humans of their inalienable right to life. This affects all of society. Abortion is the ultimate child abuse.

Speaking of issues involving families, I am also in favor of laws criminalizing spousal and child abuse in order to protect these vulnerable individuals.

But, then, why isn’t the “pro-choice” crowd opposed to laws dealing with abuse? After all, these are private, family matters.

1 – from “Obama recalls Roe v. Wade, backs abortion rights,” by David Jackson, USA Today, 1/23/2011
2 – from “Misconceptions About Abortion,” http://www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org. Ironically, the next sentence reads, “Human rights are guaranteed for everyone and are not subject to the whim of the electorate.”
3 – http://www.nrtlc.org, October 2012

Please, Cut Back on the “9s” in Pricing — They’re Demeaning!

Although we see it all year long, the proliferation of “9s” and “99s” and even “999s” in the prices of items and services will increase as we approach the Christmas, excuse me retailers, the “holiday” season.

True, this is not a recent phenomenon. The use of “9s” to imply a lower price has been around probably since humans switched from barter to coin and currency. We can be confident of this because it is unlikely that we would have seen:

“Limited offer. Replace your thatched roof for only 9.99 chickens or 14.99 bushels of apples!”

As a society, we are proud of the intellectual progress we have made. We like to believe that we are not often fooled by intentionally misleading rhetoric or half-truths , the last two presidential “blue states” notwithstanding.

Many of us are smart enough to realize that $79.99 is really $80+ after taxes and $3.299 per gallon is too close to $3.30 to make any difference at all unless one has a 10,000 gallon tank.

So, please retailers, minimize your use of “9s” in pricing. You’d be surprised at how much we will respect the $100 monthly phone/bundled internet provider as well as those pizzerias which already promote $5 personal pizzas instead of pricing them at $4.99.

An enjoyable business transaction includes respect. Pricing methods are a good way to start.