Apparently we really could use around $35 million right now…

commish_thanksFeeling 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

burleigh_co_anncThis 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.

 

burleigh_co_noticeHere’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?

burleigh_co_noticesThey’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”

bps_dollarsRemember 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

chambers_pan_iphoneClick 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

heidi-howThe 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

county_commission_28086I 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.

Capitol observations

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:

capitol_elevator_31000.jpgAmong 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.

 

capitol_mall_iphone_1174Uh-oh.  Notice that patch of yellow?  The leaves are changing, and they’re going to do so quickly.  Get those cameras ready!

memorial_hall_pano_iphone_1180I 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?

Kudos to ND DOT

As a motorcycling advocate I was pleased to see this sign on I-94 this weekend. During the pleasant riding months we have a lot of motorcyclists in the area, and I’m sure attractions like Buggies ‘n’ Blues (photos forthcoming) and the ABATE Menoken Rally brought a measurable increase in numbers of two-wheeled motorists this weekend. Whenever I hit an unmarked section of chip-seal gravel around Bismarck I tend to think that we bikers are forgotten…but not by the DOT this weekend!

North Dakota adds ten new coal-powered cars to its state fleet

The state fleet grew by ten this week as the DOT purchased several Chevy Volts. These are electric cars with a range of about 40 miles, so I don’t think anyone will be running from Bismarck to Fargo (or Minot, or Glen Ullin for that matter) with them without kicking in the backup gas-powered generator. I wonder if they’ll make interesting little git-around-town vehicles. They’re going to be distributed around the state to the eight motor pool regions for state employees to use on official business. GM has suffered dismal failure in trying to convince the general public to buy these things, so I hope the state was able to leverage a sweet deal before spending our tax dollars on them.

If you sense apprehension in my words, don’t get me wrong. I’m not fundamentally opposed to electric cars; I think it’s a good idea to explore new technologies. After all, the “brick” cellular phone of the 90’s had to precede the smartphones of today. What I do oppose are any simpletons who claim they’re “saving the Earth” by purchasing one. Apparently people like that think their outlets are juiced by the Electricity Fairy or something. Let’s face it: these things are NOT going to be charged by windmills or solar panels…period. Thankfully I don’t get the impression that anyone at the state is making any of these pie-in-the-sky claims. This isn’t the first set of electric vehicles to frequent the capitol; there are still some GEM electric vehicles in use as well.

All “saving the planet” BS aside, I don’t know if I see these things as nearly as big a boondoggle as the state’s fascination with ethanol blended fuels. Those are a sure-fire loser, with less thermodynamic potential than gasoline, propped up by taxpayer subsidies in a perverse shell game, while wreaking havoc on the food market. These cars are drawing power from North Dakota lignite-fired power plants, and we can be quite proud of that. I just try not to think of the fact that each one of these cars may already have as much as $250,000 in taxpayer money already subsidizing it.

Wayne Sanstead’s DPI folks training to coerce your children’s view of sexuality

Yes, that’s right: they’re at it again. The last time Wayne Sanstead’s staff at DPI tried to get away with this, parents and others spoke out and got it cancelled. It was only six months ago, but they’re back.

According to the NDEA website, DPI is going to be presenting at an NDEA “Own the Change” conference this week (where have we heard that word “Change” so often before?) at Century High School. Its keynote speaker, Jo Anderson Jr., “has a background in community organizing” and spent time in Illinois (as did our president) “working particularly on efforts of the union” before landing a cushy gig as an Advisor to the Secretary of Education.

Well…Hope™ and Change™ come to North Dakota public schools! That’s no surprise given the NDEA’s involvement; however, DPI’s is even more perverse:

Sandy Tibke, one of Sanstead’s own staff, is going to be training teachers on normalizing “LGBTQ” behavior among our children. By the way, notice they’ve added the “Q” for “questioning”. That means if your child gets confused about sexuality issues, guess who’s ready to do the advocating counseling? Not you, I’d bet. Notice, by the way, how they keep adding letters to the acronym as they attempt to normalize additional deviant sexual behaviors. How long until they add a second B for Bestiality, or who knows what else? Maybe Ms. Tibke has the answer.

We’d like to think that North Dakota is resistant of all this Hope™ and Change™ – but Wayne Sanstead’s DPI is persistent in trying to fly it under our collective radar. Here’s my post from the last time they tried to sneak this garbage into our schools. The groups they affiliate themselves with are the same cadre of twisted freaks who got busted teaching “fisting” and “rimming” to school children in Massachusetts in 2009.

How do you suppose you “start creating a safe school environment” for deviant sexual behavior? Easy: tell the other kids that their parents are hateful bigots, their religion and faith are wrong, and that the perverts are the normal ones. Undermine parental authority and the free exercise of faith and religion guaranteed by the First Amendment, and squelch any opposition to the advance of the queer agenda in our school system. Intimidate the kids and the parents with threats of “discrimination” and “gender bias” and you’re free to do whatever you want!

The only ones dealing with children’s sexuality should be their parents – but that’s apparently not the way DPI sees it. I hope this comes out in future elections, by the way. Homosexual advocates tell us to “stay out of our bedrooms” but they’re hell-bent on getting into our childrens’ classrooms!

THANK YOU to Janne Myrdal of Concerned Women for America for posting this on the Say Anything Blog. As she points out, you can call the DPI at 701-328-2260 or e-mail wsanstead@nd.gov to urge them to abort this “training” and keep the homosexual agenda out of North Dakota’s public education system.

Oh yes…here’s where I back it up. Here are the PDFs from the NDEA:

Program for the “Own the Change” conference (PDF)

NDEA website describing the event (PDF)

Hot Air has a disturbing look at where this sort of thing is headed: “Do safe schools require an iron fisting?”