I know…I haven’t posted in a month. Been busy. But I’ve also been taking pictures, just not posting them. Like this one: the original handwritten draft of the state’s constitution!Continue reading
Category Archives: Government
Show of support
We North Dakotans, residents of Bismarck-Mandan in particular, love our law enforcement personnel. The last eight months haven’t just been trying on them, but on the community as a whole, and as a result I think the bond between citizens and LEOs has been forged even stronger. You’ve probably noticed many cars sporting the above decals, which I believe are still available at Signs and Wonders along with other places.
Understanding that relationship, I put together this quick meme early on in the conflict. It may seem prescient now, but I really just understand the fact that our community respects those who put it all on the line to keep our community safe and uphold the law.
And we ain’t done yet. Back the Blue billboards have sprung up around town, events are in the works to celebrate the law enforcement community, and there’s even legislation in the works to honor them.
Yes, that’s right. Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 (PDF) will not only designate a special day as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor fallen law enforcement officers, but it also calls for a blue light display to adorn the capitol on an annual basis. I made this hasty mock-up as an example of what I can envision the capitol looking like each May. (Yeah, without the snow. I discovered that I haven’t actually taken any night time photos of the capitol unless the windows are all lit up with something, so I had to do some heavy-handed Photoshop on the easiest shot I had available. Cut me some slack.)
The resolution has been in the House awaiting a floor vote since March 20th. If you feel motivated, let your legislators know how important it is that SCR 4015 gets passed.
So yeah, we support our law enforcement. I sure hope that their tough jobs are made a little easier by knowing that they’ve got the appreciation of North Dakotans that respect them, pray for them, and acknowledge that (while nobody’s perfect) they protect our communities with dedication and professionalism.
Apparently we really could use around $35 million right now…
Feeling spunky from ramming through the FiveSouth project, the City Commission (with Commissioner Marquardt dissenting) is starting to talk about another sales tax. According to the Bismarck Tribune reported that the commission is examining the idea of taxing us even more to pay for road improvements.
If we need money for roads so badly, why were we throwing $35 million into a TIF district for the pet project of the Commission and their downtown cronies?
When that issue was brought up, Mayor Seminary (who I like personally, even though his policies drive me bat-scat crazy) simply said, “they were separate issues” (according to the Tribune).
Really? If I tell my wife that I’m going to spend $1000 on a new big screen TV instead of replacing a leaky house roof or an ailing vehicle, do you think she’s going to consider them “separate issues” as the Mayor said? Heck, no…and she’d be right (as usual).
Perhaps by “separate issues” Mayor Seminary means “we’ll just dip into the pockets of the citizens for the additional money”. That’s something you and I can’t do; if we have financial responsibilities, we own up to them before recklessly spending money on foolish luxuries. This is a concept that has completely eluded Mayor Seminary and the Commission.
If the City doesn’t have money to repair the roads it has, then it certainly doesn’t have the money to make some cronies’ pie-in-the-sky pet project a reality.
The lone voice of sanity, Commissioner Marquardt, can’t quell the stupidity on his own. We need to get him some company on the City Commission. Our city needs some responsible leadership from a Commission that will obey the will of the people and act in a fiscally responsible manner on our behalf.
BOHICA* – more “Local Control” coming Thursday night at 6pm
This terse notice to Burleigh County
suckers taxpayers was posted on the Burleigh County website but flew mostly under the radar. If you read it, you’re about to get socked by another expensive sucker-punch by commissioners Jim Peluso, Doug Schonert, Brian Bitner, and Jerry Woodcox. I left Mark Armstrong off that list because he’s the one through whom I actually learned of this nonsense.
Here’s the obscure listing of the notice, which doesn’t even appear as plain text (just a PDF file). What in the world does that even mean? Well, apparently that’s all the explanation we’re going to get about this tax hike.
By the way, what do other Public Notices look like on their website?
They’re posted nearly in their entirety. Remember that Sesame Street jingle, “One of these things is not like the other”? Start singing it now. And then grab your ankles, because it’s clear that the Burleigh County Commission does NOT want you to know about this until it’s too late. Well, you’ve been warned. Show up at 6pm tomorrow and make your voice heard.
*BOHICA = Bend Over, Here It Comes Again
Bismarck, bend over for some more “local control”
Remember those who said North Dakota property taxes are too high and there’s little accountability for the entities who levy and raise them? We were told that eliminating the property tax would cede “local control” to state government. Well, get ready for “local control” here in Bismarck, where a mostly unnoticed meeting of a small group of people aims to increase your tax burden yet again.
I didn’t like the wording of Measure 2 a few years back, but I sure like the principle. Unfortunately, the state legislature stepped in to “buy down” local property taxes, thereby hanging the property tax issue around their necks like a lead weight. In the aftermath, local boards and commissions continue to raise tax rates and assess properties higher and higher to fill their coffers. Great plan.
Several years ago I lived near Richholt School. The school district decided to “close it” due to declining enrollment, we were told. Meanwhile, they managed to get a new eighty million dollar school project rammed through during a special election in which almost nobody but their activists participated. They were serving cookies at the polling places, for crying out loud! And the Richholt facility? It’s still there. You my notice that the Hughes building, which was in such “bad shape” that we needed to build Horizon Middle School, is still in operation as well.
Now we not only have multiple pet projects in the works for the school district, but we also get to play catchup on funding the maintenance and staffing of those facilities…something that never seems to appear in the initial price tag when they propose these expenditures.
Once again, I’ll state my positions on property taxes in ND:
- Measure 2 was flawed, but I believe the property tax should be eliminated in the future.
- It was an enormous and tragic mistake for the state legislature to implement an ill-conceived “shell game” to try to ease the burden of taxes they neither levy, assess, or collect… but for which they have now assumed a good share of the blame.
- Local entities continue to use their authority to fund pet projects and advance their own agendas, and this “local control” they screech about has translated only to local abuse.
- Quite frankly, if more people showed up to board and commission meetings and expressed their opposition to these constant tax increases, and held elected officials accountable, we wouldn’t even need to have this discussion.
North Dakota needs to stop punishing individual citizens for owning property. We have a sales tax (the only “fair” tax) and plenty of revenue from energy production in our state. My hope is that someone will find a proper way to eliminate it…with the right mechanism I think we could have a relatively smooth transition and quell the abuse of taxing authority.
The lights are on, but nobody’s home
Click on the image for a larger version
I was able to visit the capitol around the lunch hour yesterday and, while taking a cruise around the building I love so much, took the opportunity to poke my head into the two legislative chambers. They’re always open for the public to take a look, with ropes designating the limited area in which we’re allowed to enter. It was enough for me to do a couple of quick panoramics to assemble into this composite.
It won’t be long before these chambers are full with a flurry of activity. We’re right in the middle of the biennium, with elections one short year away and a session to follow.
Time for a little Photoshop
The Democrats have not passed a budget, something they’re required to do by the Constitution of the United States, in YEARS. Rather than have their spending actually show up on a piece of paper, they’ve relied on “continuing resolutions” to break the law and borrow more money from China. This is not only unsustainable, but it’s illegal – and it’s the REAL reason for the government shutdown right now.
Heidi Heitkamp, self-proclaimed “Independent Voice™ for North Dakota”, is in lockstep with her political party. Given the fact that she has aligned herself with them, and not the majority of her constituents, I decided to play in Photoshop a little bit.
Click on the image for a full size version. Please feel free to download and share. Have a good weekend!
When government happens and nobody’s watching
I admit it: I’m often way too busy to attend the various board, commission, and committee meetings that take place as the gears of our local government grind away. If nobody attends, though, those gears threaten to grind away at our liberty. Who then do we blame? I’ve come to the conclusion that we have the government we deserve.
Case in point: last night’s Burleigh County Commission meeting on adopting a Home Rule Charter. I tentatively agree that we need a new jail, although I’m intrigued by others’ opinions that many are jailed unnecessarily while awaiting trial or detox and that rehabilitation of convicted criminals here is not proportional to incarceration. As we plod ahead toward building a costly new correctional facility, the best way to do it is with a home rule charter and temporary sales tax (yeah, I know).
A group of people are going about the process of designing that charter, and a meeting last night was held for public information and comment. The room was nearly empty.
When sales taxes in Burleigh County increase by a half percent, will you notice? If so, will you be upset? If you’re upset, do you know why? If you know why, is it because you disagree with the idea of funding the jail with sales tax instead of property tax? Unless the answer to ALL of the above questions is YES, please do us a favor and shut up…unless you’ve actually attended any of these meetings and given your input.
By the way, despite hundreds of millions of dollars of ill-conceived “shell game” property tax buy-downs by the state legislature, last night the Commission voted to raise your taxes again. I had to leave before that portion of the meeting, unfortunately, but I did watch the feed live online. You can do so on the Dakota Media Access website.
I know we’re all busy…heck, I rarely find time to get to one of these meetings. I do, however, try to stay on top of issues that are important to me and make arrangements to attend those. When I do, I try to arrive with a well informed and thoroughly pondered opinion and a willingness to walk to the podium and make it known if I think it will contribute to the discussion. I wish I could make them all, but we’re understandably busy.
Busy or not, these commissions meet and make decisions that affect your daily life, your liberty, your property, and your prosperity. “I was busy” is of little consolation when you find yourself on the wrong end of some board’s policy decision…so stay informed, get involved when you can, and let’s hold our local government accountable.
I had the opportunity to go to the state capitol building today, and after accomplishing my errands I took a quick zip to the top observation floor and also down to the Memorial Hall. Here are a couple of things I noted:
Among the depictions in the brass on the elevator doors is a depiction of a more hostile time. It’s interesting to look at the brass in the elevator areas as well as the revolving doors in the Memorial Hall and note some of the figures depicted thereon.
Uh-oh. Notice that patch of yellow? The leaves are changing, and they’re going to do so quickly. Get those cameras ready!
I used the iPhone’s panoramic feature to do a quick pan of the Memorial Hall. Click on this image for a larger version. This is a great feature that came out with the iPhone 5 and iOS 6. I’m not about to upgrade to iOS 7 unless I absolutely have to.
I used to run around the capitol with my little guys a lot, but it’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to do so. I enjoy it as much as they do, and I suspect that there are many who share the same fondness and memories about this historic building. When’s the last time you paid it a visit?