Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wylie Tax Rate Kept Artificially High

As the highest taxed city in Collin County, at 84.89 cents per $100 assessed property valuation, Wylie’s taxpayers shouldn’t expect our city to be gouging us. It is especially unconscionable when one hears just how much money the city netted with the massive property valuation hike Collin County gave taxpayers for several years running. Wylie has been holding a ridiculously inflated property tax rate stable, despite publicity claiming they lowered our tax rate between a ¼ cent and 2 cents for the past handful of years.

So exactly how can a city provide a “tax break”, yet still increase taxes? Here is a prime example that took place last fall during the budget process. The City Manager Mindy Manson told council members that the $2.9 million projected revenue in excess last year, one of the best excess leaps the city has seen in years I might add, would not be enough to cover expenses because of additional spending requests, and because she intimated the city was under-insured from the catastrophic hail storm that took place on April 11, 2016.

Further scrutiny of that lagging hail claim payout actually represents upgrading and remodeling the entire public safety building instead of just repairing it to pre-storm condition. Yet Manson suggested the city hold tight on the bloated tax rate, just in case the insurance deal did not pan out for their total remodel.

Reading between the lines, Manson told council members that staff was increasing spending to take up the rather generous sales and property tax revenue, and that they intended to do a full remodel of the public safety building, adding on expenses far beyond repairs that insurance would reasonably cover.

To appear accommodating, Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue ultimately suggested a 2 cent tax decrease during the budget season, hoping taxpayers would heave a collective sigh of relief.

Many taxpayers simply ignore this sleight of hand routine, erroneously thinking their duty is to improve the growing city, and that they are getting tangible things in return, such as road improvements and increases in fire and police protection. Taxpayers neglect to understand that growth pays for growth, and city administrators do not want them to understand this concept.

Cities coerce taxpayer capitulation through fear, by explaining that they need the additional funds to help cover growth and that if they don’t receive them, services must be cut. Taxpayers altruistically buy into this scheme, thinking they are covering growth and helping the good of all citizens. This fallacious system means cities across Texas are keeping the excess funds from increased property values, instead of allowing growth to pay for itself as each new business and homeowner is tapped.

Not only is the city spending like a drunken sailor, but they are artificially keeping the tax rate high by ignoring the effective tax rate. Each year, after Collin County completes assessments, they inform each city of the tax rate needed to keep taxpayer burden stable. This year the effective tax rate for Wylie was .795191. Each year, the city council ignores the effective tax rate, instead tossing small breaks back to the taxpayers, which does nothing to offset the growing burden of improving property values. This year they had over 7 cents they could return to taxpayers to keep their tax burden the same, instead they gave us 2 cents, earmarking the rest for spending.

A prime example of the increase can be seen in comparing our total annual tax payment when we built our home in 2001 which ran approximately $3900 in taxes, to what our current property tax burden is at approximately $5600. Growth from approximately 4600 citizens to over 50,000 during this time has more than paid for the new roads and services. So exactly what did we get for the doubling of our taxes?

As a side-note, as I was poll greeting outside the library during the primary last year, one of the city councilmen told me that the city would be coming to the taxpayers soon for a bond to improve the roads. This mindset is completely unacceptable.

This example shows why it is critical that citizens become involved in the budget process each year, and demand that Wylie adopt the effective tax rate. Expect an initial budget look around municipal elections, with regular budget meetings ramping up through the summer, toward final adoption in the fall. The alternative to getting involved in the process is to continue unwittingly funding the city’s spending sprees each year, and watching money needlessly drain from our bank accounts.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Term Limits Needed to Remove Dead Wood

© Getty Images
I love this photo of Sen. Ted Cruz. With his arms folded, the body language reads that no amount of bullying and cajoling by the press will change his mind about term limits. Cruz is resolute in fixing Washington D.C., which is precisely what Texas voters sent him there to do.

The talk of term limits should delight Donald Trump voters as well. Term limits play a part in Trump's first 100 day plan. Yet there are those snotty responses from establishment GOP dinosaurs like Mitch McConnell that claim, "We have term limits - they're called elections." It shouldn't be any surprise that McConnell has served 32 years.

Those career politicians currently serving will start the clock at their next election, so one can see why this will have a difficult time garnering mass support and clearing Congress. As with most efforts to limit the power in D.C., I am sure we will watch this die a quite death.

I totally get both sides of the term limit argument. On one hand, people say that we already have term limits through the election process, that limits will simply perpetuate endless lame-duck sessions, and that payments covering the rotation of people once they are out will cost taxpayers even more money, with all those extra bodies on the payroll. On the other hand, people say that we cannot allow for a career mentality of those who are serving themselves, instead of serving their constituents, and that the lack of term limits has caused the mess in D.C. that most everyone agrees must be overhauled.

I support term limits for three reasons. First, the argument for the election process as a limiting factor is predicated on an educated voting population. Sadly, we have an incredibly stupid voting population that does not research their candidates, and decades of data analysis and precedence to prove this case. Historically there have been hundreds of politicians serving 30+ years, some as many as 59 years. Even 20 years is unacceptable. Yet, time and again, people vote for candidates simply because they heard the name before, and any person who has worked on a campaign and greeted at the polls has witnessed this in action. 

Next, our founding fathers never anticipated the legislative branch to be compelling or lucrative enough to serve as a career. These seats were supposed to be filled with the people's people. The servant mindset was overthrown as they voted themselves pay increases and found great pleasure in cronyism. Once in, they enjoy a very lucrative stint. The argument that taxpayers will foot a larger bill for an increased rotating cast of characters is unfounded, considering the premise that using the election process to successfully term out politicians will net the exact same result. The high cost comes from politicians setting their own salaries, not the length of their terms. Still, through history we have seen successful use of term limits for the executive branch, and there is nothing to suggest it will not be successful for the legislative or even judicial branches.

Finally, we must make holding office an inconvenience to the point that those who run, really want to do it for more than the money and notoriety, and there is plenty of that. There will be plenty of time for a politician's effect with 12 total years in the Senate and six total years in the House. Beyond that, who needs them?

We must put an end to the petrified wood, and the agents creating the scenario which has permanently taking over the forest. Even fires serve their purpose in the regeneration of a forest.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tea Party: Demise or Metamorphosis?

A t-shirt I picked up at the America's Tea Party  rally held July 4, 2009 at Southfork Ranch.
It still hangs in my garage as a reminder of how bad things can get if we do not remain vigilant.

Have we witnessed a crash and burn demise of the tea parties, 
or is there something better on the horizon? 

In my mind, tea parties no longer exist. They started with the camaraderie of rallies to solidify identity, moved into a more stoic educational and informational realm, and have ended up as tools to advance new media efforts.

We can clearly identify this effect in the presidential campaign and election, where the carpet was swept right out from under that stale, old-school media's feet. Formal newspapers and broadcast media were made redundant, and people were no longer buying the bag 'o crap they were selling.

The publics became the new media machine, and made their digital point through relentless use of videos, blogs and social media activity. They took their first amendment rights away from those designated to inform and speak on their behalf, because traditional media outlets were doing a piss-poor job of it for far too long.

For organizations that vow to be unbiased, fair and balanced, they have been anything but for a decade, or longer. It's not just the journalists' fault in reporting one side of a story. This problem goes much deeper, where editors purposely leave out coverage and the liberal checkbooks were flexing their muscles. The bias wasn't so much about what was being covered, as it was about what wasn't being covered. It's still media bias.

Non-stop televised news may currently have a lion's share of the older generation's viewing habits, but the millennials? Forget it. I cannot wait to see the slow and painful death of 24/7 country club talk shows over the next twenty years. It won't be too soon. Still, I predict that these news outlets will morph into ugly advertising machines, dominating our news feeds without proper representation and attempting to make themselves relevant again. We must not let that happen. We must remain vigilant.

This problem of taxation without proper representation by the media was identified when the various tea parties formed, and carried a shared battle cry. What was heard across the nation was a sort of Marine Corps Ooh Rah that sounded faintly like, "Tax this, sucka."

People from all walks of life came together, despite constant vilification by rabid politicians who were afraid their slop trough would be emptied. People like Sen. John McCain and his "wacko birds" comment and President Barack Obama's disgusting "teabagger" epithet tried their best to discredit the movement. Innocent people were labeled racist, and just about every "phobe" in the book. But, you know what they say about sticks and stones.

The various tea parties had one strong element that tied them all together. That theme consisted of five core principles, which any constitutional conservative still clutches to their bosom. The principles didn't change just because Trump became our only tool against Clinton. The tenets include personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility, limited government, rule of law and national sovereignty, and anyone that has dismissed any part of those core principles during this election was not a constitutional conservative to begin with. Rather, they are a confused Republican, angry and reactive voters or simply something else altogether. They were tea party posers.

I've watched the tea parties unilaterally disconnect under the guise of being separate anyway. Many tea party leaders are looking for ways to disassociate themselves with their past, in an attempt to impart their own brand. They dismissed the idea that all tea parties across the county were part of one larger movement so they could justify Donald Trump and his new product of angry, vitriolic populism. Their tea party premise is a bastardization, bordering on dissociative disorder, of the original tea party intent.

I suppose divorcing oneself from the tea party makes them feel better about compromising once-quasi-shared principles, but there are still those pesky five core principles that made the scattered tea parties one and the same. These are the very same principles that Trump was never a part of, that is, until he decided he wanted to become president.

Suddenly, Trump has become magically delicious to hosts of former tea party members, who claim he is the ultimate alpha and omega, right behind Jesus. Please. Though Trump has donned his designer-fitted chameleon suit, he is no more tea party than Clinton was. The fantastic thing is that we have a host of video and sound clips showing what pre-campaign Trump was really about. But when you're branding, none of that matters. You latch onto anything that fits the perspective you're selling.

I will give Trump the benefit of the doubt despite this strong anti-constitutional conservative evidence. I will, because what choice do I have? Having dozens sign up to run in the GOP, so they can open super PACs and pay themselves handsomely on the speech circuit, while continuing to collect funds for a future run, did our real choices in. We were left with a really bad taste in our mouths. But for those legacy tea partiers who carried Trump's flag, stepping on, punching and kicking those around them the entire way, their recollection of why the tea parties formed has been replaced with an altered reality.

The tea parties are no longer relevant, not because Trump was elected, no far from that. The tea parties are no longer relevant because there has become a new, tech-savvy audience established, and this is how we fight fire with fire. We must be careful that the new media that brought about a Trump win, doesn't become like that of the old mainstream.

Provocateur Andrew Breitbart was a visionary on new media when he said, "My mission isn’t to quash debate—it’s to show that the mainstream media aren’t mainstream, that their feigned objectivity isn’t objective, and that open, rigorous debate is a positive good in our society.” 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sessions and Cornyn: Stomping on Conservative Principles

Image: Heritage Action
I received my end of year scorecard from Heritage Action this weekend, and it isn't great. When President Elect Donald Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp, this is precisely what he was talking about.
Residing in their usual and customary bottom ten positions for Republicans key voted are Rep. Pete Sessions at 70% and Sen. John Cornyn at 46%. According to the scorecard:
House Republican average score: 65% and Senate Republican average score: 57% (thanks to Cornyn's score)
These numbers are abysmal and do not represent Texans conservative principles, yet career politicians like Sessions and Cornyn are continually, and blindly voted in.
Among some of Sessions' low-lights are his votes for the lame duck continuing resolution in September, no child left behind re-authorization which rolls back many conservative education policies and does nothing to stop government intervention in education, his own house rules committee gimmick to advance the the $325 billion highway and transit bill that also re-authorized the Export-Import Bank corporate slush fund, the house budget reconciliation bill which did not repeal Obamacare as promised explicitly in the budget but also funded Planned Parenthood (something he claimed he would defund in his Wylie town hall), TPA, T-HUD beefing up housing and urban development by an astounding $1.5 billion above current spending levels and the $1.1 trillion year-end omnibus spending bill just this month.
Cornyn's low-lights include voting for the lame duck CR, draft our daughters defense bill and against tabling the omnibus spending plan this month. He also voted in support of reauthorizing no child left behind, the transportation spending hike, bailout and Ex-Im re-authorization, Obama's budget agreement, CR to continue funding planned parenthood, the highway and transit bailout, TPA, confirmation of Loretta Lynch for AG and authorizing a blank check for amnesty in DHS funding bill.
Other notables with terrible scorecard ratings are Rep. Joe Barton with 63% and Rep. Kay Granger with 58%.
You simply cannot have a score of 80% or lower and consider yourself a conservative Republican. Yet, well-meaning, low-information voters continually support these candidates, often with the help of misguided Texas GOP precinct chairs and county leadership, who are in it for the name recognition, bones tossed their way or the personal back rubbing these candidates give them. I always find it surprising that a variety of community and GOP leaders are willing to forgo the betterment of the masses for the betterment of their personal achievements.
Among the Texans voting for our conservative principles are Rep. John Ratcliffe who earned 95%, Sen. Ted Cruz with 94%, Rep. Louie Gohmert with 92% and surprisingly Sam Johnson who squeaked by with 89%.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kicking the Obamacare Can

It should come as no surprise that Rep. Pete Sessions makes the rounds in and out of my befuddled headlines. Not only is he a recurring nightmare that keeps us awake, he is also a recurring daymare as well.

My current irritation with Sessions stems from his selfish insistence to place quashing full repeal of Obamacare before his duty to constituents. Did we not state emphatically for years that we want full repeal of Obamacare, and nothing else? What doesn't he get about this?

Instead, Sessions' actions show clearly that he is not on board with full repeal. In fact, quite the opposite rings true. If I were a betting woman, I would venture to guess he will claim we just have a simple difference of opinion on strategy. The truth is, I find his own Sessions-Cassidy healthcare bill at issue, not because of what is written in it, but because of how he is going about force feeding it to D.C.

The rhetoric coming from the Floridian in Texas drag sounds as if he is more interested in pimping his own healthcare plan, than pushing for full repeal.

Installing Sessions' less than stellar healthcare plan, would require replace and then repeal while the Obamacare can is kicked down the road. Note the flip in steps, which is especially important for those who voted based upon full repeal campaign promises. Think back to those handy campaign fliers we got in the mail during the last two primaries where repeal was always his first step.

Rep. Pete Sessions

Rep. Pete Sessions

Rep. Pete Sessions

Rep. Pete Sessions
In fact, Sessions claimed to feel passionately about repealing Obamacare that he spent a great deal of time discussing it at his August, 2014 town hall meeting.

Rep. Pete Sessions, 2014
Good to know Sessions only feigns feeling vehemently. In this case, actions do speak louder than words.

With rhetoric that defies conservative logic, the Sessions camp is pushing for a "fix first" scenario that will cause two issues screaming the me-first establishment are still in charge in D.C.

First, Sessions can bend the ear of many a GOP bobble-head. If the focus shifts on repeal first instead of replace first, GOP leadership will assume, incorrectly, that Republican voters didn't have a clue what they wanted, and will capitulate to pressure to replace over repeal.

Second, that stale, old, fear-monger messaging will be spread by the media. Once again, we will see videos repeated ad nauseum of grandma being pushed over the cliff in her wheelchair as the media rekindles the power we tried to extinguish in November. If you think their tactics to get Hillary in office were untoward, wait until you see their tactics to keep Obamacare alive.

In my opinion, Sessions is crafting a self-centered push to replace Obamacare and it is completely unacceptable. Anything but full repeal first will stall repealing the law for months or longer.  This most certainly was not the method to our voting madness in November, I might add. We demanded full repeal of every...last...word.

Please inundate Pete Sessions' office and let him know you want full repeal of Obamacare first. Oh, and make sure you tell him TXun asked you to call.

Washington, DC Office

Phone: 202-225-2231

Dallas Office

Phone: 972-392-0505

Image: MSNBC

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Great Millennial Lie

Millennials act as though they invented all this LGBTQ drama. As if it's some newfangled idea and the older crowd just don't get it. Except, we do get it. The fact is, we got it years ago.

I grew up in the 1980s where tons of people in college were gay or bi-curious. The university I went to was notoriously gay. In fact, several of the people I worked with were gay and I used to walk around with them, checking out guys in a very shallow and sexist way that I'm truly not proud of. 

Everyone I knew was listening to Boy George and Wham and there were tons of male band members that wore eyeline and even lipstick.  Even some of the 80s hair bands wore eyeliner. Adam Ant wore frilly white blouses and more men than I can recall were wearing skin-tight leather pants. It was cool to be feminine and well, different. 

Rocky Horror was cult-like epic, and frankly we could have cared less what people were doing behind closed doors. That was their business.

Let's not forget that the 1970s folks before us had their Ziggy Stardust androgyny and the 1960s folks saw sky high free love hippies having orgies and slithering around in the mud at Woodstock. Free love was taken anywhere they could get it.

The fact is, anyone that is age 60 and under was desensitized to all of this years ago. It may not have been our cup of tea, but we just looked the other way. Whatever.

That wasn't good enough. A mass lie had to be concocted and aimed at the younger generation, telling them that their parents and grandparents were hateful and bigoted. Ask yourself why.

Copy and paste this general scenario for black Americans. It's just a plagiarized story.

Now every TV show must portray a gay or two in an embarrassingly juvenile and prissy fashion, though most gays I knew didn't behave like that at all. Now our eyes are offended by the roughly 3% population representation of men and women by those acting like they should be on a pole and stuffing dollars down their undergarments, instead of in a respectful parade honoring fallen heroes. 

It's ridiculous and unnecessary but for this lie to work, it had to infiltrate the minds of our young so they would think their parents were whatever-phobes. So frilly and flashy gaydome was bastardized and rammed down everyone's throats, as was white privilege nonsense. People had to be coddled and made the center of attention and absolutely not ignored. Ignoring others is forbidden. 

Sadly, the damage has been done, and the target audience of this lie, the millennials, mistakenly bought into thinking everyone over 35 is a homophobe or racist.  The result is what we see displayed all over the webosphere and in the news; that they want and need the government to powder their bottoms and stop all this mock hatred and judgement, coming really, only from their tainted minds. 

The general population doesn't give a flip, we're too busy working or trying to survive. Without thinking critically, many millennials believe the lies that Big Brother infiltrated their minds with. It's what's for breakfast in college. I even see it at the graduate level.

This is what happens when the politicians in charge want to make the masses dependent upon the government to run every aspect of their lives, from cake baking to marriage licenses. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Flag Pins Instead of Safety Pins

Image: Northwest Territorial Mint
I'll be wearing a US flag pin if anyone wants to talk with me like an adult. I'll be saving the diaper safety pin for my sewing box. 

Why? Because we have roughly 320 million people in this country. Of those, 114 million are working, taxpaying adults and 106 million people are on welfare. For simple mathematical calculation, let's assume the other 100 million are children or self sustaining retires getting social security and reaping what they once paid in.

With a near 1:1 ratio of taxpayers supporting not only themselves, but also someone on welfare, not to mention paying into the SS coffers, isn't it clear that this system cannot be sustained? Sure it's a simplistic view, but poignant. We simply can't afford four more years, let alone eight, of Obama-style policies where 35% of the population are on welfare. 

It's common sense, something clearly not being taught in our schools and colleges, and I'm tired of watching a bunch of precious pantywaists burn flags and stand in their college football fields doing a group primal scream for five minutes, because they didn't get their way. 

This is what is happening while there are men and women dying overseas to protect those childish millennials during this Veteran's Day weekend tantrum. It's time to take off the diaper pin and put on the big kid panties.