Sunday, July 27, 2008
Breaking any cycle is hard. I spent some time thinking about this recently. Not only are their cycles in life but we also have vices. Mine is smoking sue me. Vices are vices and we all have at least one.
My family had always been poor. When growing up my immediate family would be considered poor by any stretch you want to label it. Hand me down clothes, occasionally missing a meal, the usual. It wasn't my Dad's fault. He was forced to quit working due to a physical handicap in his prime low 30's. Never had I observed a man so crushed from defeat before or since.
At the ripe old age of 12 my mom abandoned us and within a couple of months my Dad became handicapped. Quite a culture shock losing your home and moving in with an aunt who was handicapped. A 900 square foot house with a minimum of 11, but usually 14 people, living there. I drew the short stick and slept on a floor under a sofa sleeper in the living room where a TV blared 24/7 for 4 years.
A cycle of poverty.
So by today's standards of responsibility I have a built in excuse for failure right? Wrong.
Supposedly being brought up poor by a single Dad, step dad at that, gave me all kinds of excuses to fail, except for one thing, Dad didn't allow excuses. Never once did he blame anyone for his plight in life nor did he complain.
He raised us to take responsibility for our lives and our future.
Now don't get me wrong we all make mistakes and Lord knows I have made my share but I always have to ask myself what could I have done better.
He raised us knowing we would make mistakes but understanding there was to be a lesson learned from it.
You may ask why I mention all of this?
Simple it is time to ask where is the accountability from our leaders today.
Questioning one's own self and being able to accept constructive criticism from anyone, including yourself, helps you find answers and get that accountability for yourself and those around you.
I took my first job under the table at the ripe old age of 12. My money went to the household to help pay for stuff like food so my brother's could eat, or bills. I did not mind. I never really knew the difference anyway it wasn't a lot but it helped.
So today I continually ask myself in every situation what can be better and how can I help us get there.
As I age I see so many similarities between myself and Dad. The way I raised my children or perhaps telling the same old stories people have heard before just as he did. I also did things much different than he.
Where he was a strong silent type I am outspoken and willing to question the status quo. I worked a little smarter in some ways, dumber in others.
The one thing he taught me that I never lose sight of is do not make excuses make a difference.
For me being involved in making a better future for us all is my passion. It is the biggest reason I entered the political arena to begin with.
To wake people up and quit allowing excuses from our leaders.
I find myself challenging the integrity of our political leaders today largely because of his influence. I was raised to be an ethical person with values and morals and concern for my fellow man. Yet today I see our leaders consistently making excuses for their failure and the failure of others.
We blame poverty, or drugs, or say that's just how it is, and yet our leaders continually do not really ask the necessary questions of themselves or make a real effort to help make it better.
Instead they feed us the same old tired lines we all now accept at face value.
They use the excuse of bad economy, cycle of poverty, and make us think we have nothing to look forward to. Then they throw a band aid on the problem that looks good for a short time before we realize it essentially did nothing. Think about how many times we hear the phrase "cycle of poverty." Has anything been done to help break that cycle in a morally ethical way?
I think not.
They continually take the tax money from the working class and spend it in a way they want and that is not necessarily the way that would best help us all.
Look at the amount of money we continue hemorrhaging from our City and our leadership. Could we not do a better job and spend wiser?
We are losing hundreds of jobs, thousands of dollars in "grant" money from the feds, our tax money to begin with, becoming a joke on an unnecessary arena, and not funding public services as we should.
As our leaders age I see the same old similarities. Excuse after excuse for their failure and no new changes to help fix things.
If it is indeed up to each of us to make a difference to break the "cycle" then I must ask a simple question.
Why can't our leaders be ethical, honest, and instill the values in us that we should expect from leadership?
The answer is a simple one.
We need new leaders. They have become so entrenched in what they can get they forgot about the people they represent.
Though Dad died in 1988 at the age of 43 the values he taught will always be with me thanks to his diligence in my youth.
Let's quit allowing excuses and break this cycle together. Do not allow ourselves to be labeled as dependents anymore.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Today it appears I am not the only one who thinks that. The sad part is it is now 2 years later and being unaffordable based on economic times have proven true.
Where was leadership in 2006?
If I could see this coming why didn't they? Simply because as usual the power elite makes a decision and forces it through regardless of any obstacles. They just do not look for them.
We the people get stuck with their decisions and we pay for them financially. No risk means no responsibility in their eyes.
As a matter of fact the old trick pony show the media plays such as show the good news in the most glowing light possible, no matter how recycled it is like the Ford announcement of retooling LAP that we have known about for a year or better now, and bury the bad news such as the CJ story covering this debacle of arena financing, seems to be an all too familiar trait of this Mayor getting away with non transparency.
Seriously it almost seems as if our local media has a person that sits and makes decisions that say hey we cannot show how bad it really is. They act like the first thing they think of is "don't we have some old news we can recycle to hide the truth from the people?" I mean the arena financing was buried in the business section at CJ. Wanna bet if they do find financing somehow it will be front page news?
Recycle the good news over and over and make the people believe something different is happening.
We are smarter than that.
Look at the old Humana building (still owned by Humana) that was imploded last Saturday for example. It was a huge media local event that included Mayor Jerry Abramson declaring this was the end to the beginning of the new arena.
Never mind that Humana was recently saying they needed more office space Downtown.
If so why get rid of a perfectly good building to help fulfill that need? Good question. Who benefited from railroading this implosion through knowing the financing was NOT complete to do a project of this magnitude?
Then to offer an alternative such as other bonders willing to do interest rate swaps when Municipalities across the country, such as Birmingham Alabama I referred to in an earlier article, are going bankrupt from this trickery in financing is insulting to our intelligence.
Less than a week later there is no financing. Who is paying for the demo project to this point and what is yet to happen with an ill advised little thought out plan?
Did they not know they were in trouble with financing prior to the implosion? If I knew it 3 years ago, and I am not a financier, how could they not?
Of course they did but as usual the philosophy of this Mayor and his cronies have been based on an imaginary movie called Field of Dreams.
If you build it they will come.
And if you demolish it and make a good enough show they will not notice we cannot afford it and cannot finance it. Of course then the argument will be simply this, "well we have already started and invested some money in it we must move forward now."
Will we continue to fall for this trickery from this Mayor and his cronies or will we finally say enough is enough and start reigning in unchecked power.
In 2006 as part of my Mayoral campaign I pointed out that Louisville Metro home foreclosures were at a 10-year high. The number of homes being auctioned off had doubled over the past three years. In short our economy was already going backwards and I said it would continue that spiral.
As a matter of fact in April 2006 the "Wall Street Journal" ranked the state number one, with more than two percent of its loans in foreclosure.
I quoted the following that this rapid rise in home foreclosures will continue, as long as certain other things are also going up... namely, job loss, divorce, predatory lending, and over-spending.
In the interim unemployment has risen and continues to rise. Our biggest mortgage holders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reportedly in trouble.
I told everyone that Ford was in trouble and we needed to respond immediately in January of 2006 only to have the Mayor wait 8 months, until August of 2006, to speak with them. We all know what has happened since then with Ford downsizing and layoff after layoff adding to the tax burden of us all.
I advocated then to avoid the arena at that time and focus on economic and infrastructure development primarily with a surge in small business for our area to grow. These indicators have been here since at least 2003 and have steadily gotten worse in the interim as predicted.
Do I mention this as a way of patting myself on the back?
Quite the contrary no one wishes more than I do that I would have been proven wrong.
None of us are exempt from going through hard times today including me, but we can work towards a better tomorrow. This situation was avoidable or at least could have been a whole lot less stressful if we would have had transparency from the outset and a new way of looking at our future.
We cannot continue down the path of doing the same old things the same old way and expecting a better result.
It is time we took the blinders off and held Mayor Abramson and his cronies accountable for our future.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The most interesting of these is in Minor Lane Heights. Why you may ask is this so interesting?
Many of you may know the plight of residents in Minor Lane Heights. The Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) agreed to buy out and relocate residents there and still to date have not completed this endeavor.
In 2006, while running for Mayor against Abramson, I spoke on this issue as one of many issues our Metro government has dropped the ball on. The area is a relative ghost town with a few still stuck there and no direction for their future. It is an insult to all of us to allow a neighborhood to be destroyed by government and left to hang in the wind for so long not being able to plan.
Which brings me back to this.
This is just one of the sites not considered which makes me wonder why we are not being thorough in our search.There are properties in this area that fully meet the requirements for a bomb storage facility and literally no residents would be in harm's way nor would water supplies be potentially affected as they would be on Cardinal Hill.
SO why would we not consider this Minor Lane Heights area?
How is it that my source can locate more than 20 additional sites (beyond those mentioned by Abramson) that also meet the published criteria? A history of power unchecked?
Therein lies the rest of the story.
According to the latest data, one organization that owns a sizeable amount of the property in the Minor Lane Heights area is none other than the Louisville Renaissance Zone Corporation (LRZC).
Who is on their Board of Directors you may ask?
Well none other than Mayor Jerry Abramson and, as usual, a few of his select and most ardent supporters, including mega-developer J.D. Nichols of NTS Development Corporation, and Jack Dulworth.
Below are excerpts from Louisville's own Gail McGowan Mellor's scathing 2003 ebook entitled Land Machine :
In 1986, Bingham-wing Sloane (who had become county judge executive) and Mayor Abramson (Louisville’s first Jewish mayor, presiding over parties shattered by the exodus of eleven billion bucks as the old families sold their holdings to get into the stock market boom) adopted a city/county compact. It was essentially a measure to suspend the bitter battles then being waged over the city’s attempt to annex the suburbs and small towns around it.
Auerbach, who was in 1986 about to take over as land use commission chair from Lurding, explains,"Jerry [Abramson] didn’t like those independent agencies out there, making decisions without having to check with him. The planning staff now reported not to the commission but to line people in the county bureaucracy. It really took them down a peg."
And let's look at Jack Dulworth, formerly land use commsioner until merger in 2002. Some of that information is below and can be obtained here: http://www.earthsciences.com/Views/.
Some of you may want to read this. It is very interesting to say the least of how we came to do business in this City including graft and corruption and unlimited power.
For example in the case of Jack Dulworth there are many quotes available primarily Chapter 7-9. Some of which include the following:
All the anger at the good old boy system was at one point focused on Jack Dulworth, who headed the land use commission 1996-2001......Dulworth demonstrably was in tight control of the land use commission, was political and partisan and had little patience with planners.
"Jack Dulworth became a law unto himself......"
State Representative Jim Wayne [D-Louisville], chair, Kentucky state legislative subcommittee on land use, emphasizes, "The fundamental problem is not Jack Dulworth the person. The fundamental problem is the system that put a political appointee, a person who was neither a professional planner nor an elected official, and thus is not subject to voter control, in a position of such unrestricted power over a land use planning system affecting seven counties. The decisions that he made will mark the city and the counties for 100 years."
Throughout the time that he was chair, 1996-2001, Dulworth was pulling power both to his commission and to himself from every part of the dismantled land use system that was weak--in other words, from all of it.
Dulworth, who had no formal training in land use planning or any related field, and with a demonstrable contempt for the planners who could have advised him, oversaw the rewriting of the master plan and all the laws that govern development, then with his commission interpreted what the plan meant, and finally punished or chose not to punish violators.
Dulworth revels in power. "It really feels good to be in a position to do what you want to do and make the decision that you want. Really enjoy that. And I do that."
Dulworth was both political and partisan, an active Democratic Party fundraiser
"Jack Dulworth does anything that Jack Dulworth wants to do. He has more power than anyone else in Jefferson County," Tom Thieneman Sr., a 50 year veteran of the business, said in 2001.
According to KREF records, Dulworth contributed another $33,750 of his own money to Democratic candidates 1990-2000. He says that his family donated "much more heavily" than he.
Another quote from the man himself: "I’m not afraid to sit down, ask somebody, and get into their pockets."
Back to me.
Why then would we not allow ALL of the additional 20+ other sites to also be considered?
And yet another quote from Land Machine:
A state official who wishes not to be identified says,"We need reformers in office. If you run for election, though, you need to go through one of the political parties, and you lose a lot of steam because immediately the party starts to form you, to discipline you. They offer help in your campaign and you need help, so you make some compromises, soft pedal your issues because they tell you that other issues will get you elected. You need money to get your message out. If you start stepping on people’s toes, you can’t get money, and you figure without that money you won’t win the election, so you stop talking about the things that really matter to you or at least carefully take the passion out of what you say. You tell yourself that you’ll compromise so you can get into power and make a difference but it starts to change you. If you get power that way, you’ll keep on compromising until you’re nothing but a cog in their wheel."
Mayor Abramson anyone?
There seems like there could be a CONFLICT OF INTEREST here by the Mayor.
One more thing. We have been continually told we must meet ATF requirements in this regard by none other than Okolona's very own Madonna Flood, who continues to say we are making a mountain out of a molehill in this regard and states that this is a provision directed by Homeland Security.
Yet she has failed to provide any public proof of these allegations nor has she provided any appropriate references to other council members.
Has anyone on the Council seen these ATF requirements in writing ?
NO? Why is that? Now that's a damn good question.
There will be more to come........
Thursday, July 17, 2008
While reading about some other interests of mine I cam across this reminder of the past. Once in a while a bit of the past rushes out to greet me like an old friend. Today I ran across an interesting speech that reminded me once again of an old friend.
American Rhetoric: Jimmy Carter -- "A Crisis of Confidence"
President Carter gave this speech on July 15, 1979. What began as a speech concerning the energy crisis turned into something greater. While energy was the accepted theme it was more interesting realizing just what a grasp President Carter had on the feel of Americans in general.
Interesting that this speech was almost 30 years ago. I feel like it could have been written yesterday. I have quoted bits and pieces some of it below for a quick read and I ask one question of my own.
Have things gotten better or worse in these examples in the almost 30 years since this speech was made.
This could apply not only at the federal level but local levels as well in my opinion.
President Carter's grasp seems forgotten today by leadership at every level. It amazes me how little overall we seem to be valued by our leaders today.
For example, President Carter asked himself one question: "Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem? "
To further quote: "It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper—deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as President I need your help."
"... after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy."
"The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America. The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else—public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States."
"We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own. Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy."
"In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns."
"The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world."
"As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning. These changes did not happen overnight."
"Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation's life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide."
"The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual. What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another."
"Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like it, and neither do I. What can we do? First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course."
"We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this Nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans."
Are we up to the challenge?
Friday, July 11, 2008
This opened the door to a report by Courier Journal: Judge candidate was subject of 911 call courier-journal The Courier-Journal#pluckcomments#pluckcomments#pluckcomments#plu... .
I won't even begin to address the barrage of rumors in the comments section of this article. As a former candidate myself I understand rumors are a dime a dozen.
But this is not the end of the story.
According to a neighbor Mark Hebert referred to at the end of his report this type of behavior is common for Ms. King and she had been at Mr. Otter's house before unwanted and yelling.
Domestic violence anyone?
I myself question the credibility of Ms. King as I have stated in other areas.
In fact according to a courier report on June 1, King's judicial fitness questioned courier-journal The Courier-Journal, in campaign ads, King said that she has prosecuted thousands of cases and that "I can do it, because I've done it."
Her commercial raved about how Ms. King had prosecuted "thousands" of cases. I wonder if that is possible or at least the quality of the prosecution.
In order to substantiate this claim Ms. King needed to prosecute an average of 6 cases per day, 365 days a year, for 2 full years to qualify this statement at all.
Not possible nor probable.
She acknowledged that she has never tried a jury case by herself, but said that she did assist in some, and tried some cases before judges herself. She said she didn't know how many.
King also may have best exploited more relaxed judicial campaign speech rules, which allowed her to say that, if elected, her priorities would include "putting crime victims over criminals" and that the "revolving door of criminals at the courthouse must be stopped."
Interesting to see how she will accomplish that based on these charges of her being the criminal.
The most recent spending reports show she collected 160 contributions totaling $54,760 from bankers, developers, builders and labor groups, as well as from 60 lawyers. That compared with $39,372 raised by Holton and $23,825 for Smith.
Anyone believe that Jim King had nothing to do with these numbers?
In March Hebert released the Louisville Bar results on judicial candidates Louisville Lawyers Rate Judicial Candidates - WHAS11 Political Blog and the results were not pretty.
Do we need someone that can be fair and impartial?
I believe so and in this case maturity matters.
Either way stay tuned there is certainly more on this situation to come.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
A financial crisis has Alabama's Jefferson County on the verge of a $4.2 billion bankruptcy action. The county is home to Birmingham, the state's largest city.
MSD has long been a problem for many in our community with such a large debt and our involvement in a similar consent decree with the EPA. MSD's own Bud Shardein has often cited Birmingham as one example of who we are following in this regard.
While the current MSD debt is listed at approximately $2.8 billion it is set to dramatically rise due to the consent decree we in Louisville are forced into accepting.
Bud Shardein has stated it will cost us an additional $800 million (and that number will rise daily)to comply with the consent decree we agreed to with the EPA. With the principal and interest involved that brings our total MSD debt to approximately $4.5 billion.
Note the similarities. Louisville is the largest City in Kentucky and we have the same approximate debt as Birmingham.
Birmingham should not be a model we follow.
In Birmingham Alabama for example the sewer rates have more than quadrupled in recent years because of this agreement and the bonds that were issued to pay for it.
High Finance Backfires on Alabama County - New York Times
As a matter of fact according to Bloomberg the rates have increased a staggering 329% since 1997.
The county's proposal to creditors is to cap payments from sewer customers at $115 million a year and supplement that with about $27 million in extra revenue from the county's 2005 sales tax increase dedicated to repaying school bonds.
One has to wonder how new schools will be funded now.
We have problems of our own here in Louisville. MSD last year used a 32% rate hike for new revenue and yet we still have major sewer problems. Just recently after a storm there was approximately 11 million gallons of raw sewage that spewed from the sewers through manholes and into our neighborhoods.
This is not a one time incident.
We deserve full accountability and transparency by MSD and we deserve to have oversight by the Public Service Commission (PSC) just as LG&E does.
Our future very well may depend on it.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Unfortunately these are not better times.
A 2% increase would amount to an average $16 per month. With the costs of energy skyrocketing, why now? If this was emergency funding needs by all means suck it up. But for non emergency funding it is just one more example of taking money from most who can ill afford it.
LG&E is the beneficiary of some major savings currently in the millions (think arena funding and moving their stuff for them) so why not take that long term savings and forget about a raise of rates for non emergencies for now?
With unemployment rising to 5.7% and as much as 9.9 % when you factor in underemployed we must start looking at how our money is utilized.
In this case the timing is incredibly stupid or incredibly bold. Do we matter?
The following is a link to the villevoice story on the "breaking news" by LG&E LG&E Tries to Shield Rate Hike, Cuts Deal with C-J. Good read about how secretive these type announcements really do get.
The following is an email from Paul Hosse blog writer of Another Opinion for your read:
July 4, 2008
Many of you know me as the editor and publisher of the conservative political blog, Another Opinion. However, I'm not writing you to discuss politics. I'm writing you because I'm tired of being “nickeled and dimed” to death, except we're no longer talking about nickels and dimes. We're talking about dollars, and lots of them. I know you understand what I'm talking about.
Gas prices have through the roof and show no sign of coming back down. It’s almost to the point where you can't afford to drive your car to work anymore. Food prices are skyrocketing, and even buying the generic stuff isn't helping that much anymore. We're worried about our jobs and whether or not we're even going to have one next week. When underemployment and those who have simply given up is factored in, America’s unemployment is a staggering 9.9%.
For Louisville residents, MSD rates continue to climb. Water rates have increased. Even the cost of garbage pick up is increasing. Our carrier, Eco-Tech is raising the price of garbage pick by $5.00 to cover the costs of their gas! Their customers are already paying $10.00 per billing cycle to cover the costs of their gas. Who pays your gas to go to work or run your business? That’s right, you do.
Now, LG&E wants to raise our rates 2% to cover non-emergency increases to update their equipment. A folk, a recession is not the time to buy new stuff. I can't and I'm sure many of you can't. Now 2% doesn't sound like much, but that’s another $16.00 coming out of your pocket for an non essential increase. Do you have an extra $16.00 to give away? I sure don't.
Here’s what I would like for you to do. Please call the Kentucky Public Service Commission at 1-800-772-4636 and ask them to deny LG&E’s rate request. It won't cost you a quarter (remember when it was a dime?) and tell them we just simply can't afford an increase at this time. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you're at it, if you are a Eco-Tech customer or know someone who is (for that matter, if you just think it’s wrong), call Eco-Tech at 935-1130 and ask them to waive them additional $5.00 gas tax on their basic pickup service. Again, it cost you anything but a few minutes of your time.
Also, please pass this along to everyone you know; to every Kentucky blog site; and to every news service. By working together, we can hold back the raising rates and weather this recession together.
Paul Hosse' Editor/Publisher of Another Opinion http://hosse.blogspot.com/Louisville, Kentucky
I ask each of you to get involved and let your voices be heard.
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