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Sunday, November 04, 2007

NB "Fact" Sheet in Black and White - Hold Out For the Non-Fiction Version

The Gang of Three campaigns have been distributing an official looking "Fact Sheet" door to door along with their campaign literature. This "document" is the latest regurgitation of the carefully cherry-picked statistics, euphemistic spin, and apples to horse apples comparisons to put the best light possible on the current council majority. The spin falls short of its goals with the application of minimal analysis and some common sense.

One of the few accurate statements in the sheet is that the Public Safety Department in New Brighton is indeed among the finest, but is this because, or in spite of, policies of the Gang of Three? A few years ago, a couple of the Gang of Three had an "all city departments are equivalent" mentality (e.g. Park and Rec was on the same footing as Public Safety as far as funding priority) and were actually contemplating cutting resources or contracting out parts of public safety! In fact, it was this situation that prompted Council Member Sharon Doffing, one of our two consistently responsible council members (along with Gina Bauman), to run for the Council.

One of the claims the flyer makes is "Crime Free Rental Housing". Quite a claim! It goes on to say "first Poly Village was cleaned up and now the City took action on Timber Crest Apartments". Are they asking us to believe that these known problem properties are "crime free"? I drive past the Polynesian Village area often and there certainly appears to be a lot of squad car activity for a "crime free" facility. A lot of the "action" at Polynesian Village involves touchy-feely social program type of things that involve a lot of taxpayer dollars to finance programs for a limited number of people.

It also seems to me that the Timber Crest remediation was unanimously passed with Council Members Bauman and Doffing as two of the more aggressive advocates for the action.

The usual high ranking in National Night Out is brought up yet again. Yes, National Night Out in New Brighton is very successful but, as with the Timber Crest remediation, has unanimous endorsement and support of the entire council with if anything Council Member Doffing arguably its biggest supporter for making it happen (you have to give the "greatest credit taker" to Mayor Larson though). Bottom line is that the good things happening at Public Safety is not attributable exclusively to the Gang of Three and, in fact, may have gotten established in spite of them in many cases.

The largest section of the document is "Finance" where a very impressive table of figures is shown with New Brighton coming out well. As anyone with real world experience knows that figures can be manipulated to support any desired conclusion and the presentation in this document is a prime example.

There is the usual whine of "they took away our LGA" (in spite of the claim in one of Mayor Larson's fliers that he is particularly skilled at securing state funding). They don't comment on how responsible it was to be so dependent on LGA and that it was well known that it would be cut sooner or later (as it should have been from the perspective of the state taxpayer). Remember where the funding for this free money for the city (that was unfairly taken away) comes from.

The piece also makes a big deal about how it is not fair to compare the recent high levy increases of past years to the inflation rate determined by the Consumer Price Index. The claim is that a more accurate comparison would be to something called the Explicit Price Deflator "an index that reflects typical government purchasing, not personal". This comparison was recently thoroughly debunked by Jason Lewis on his talk show. Government at all levels often make different rules for themselves than for the governed and this scam is yet another example.

The Explicit Price Deflator index is based on how much various government spending has increased over a period of time, i.e. it is self determined by the government (while the CPI is determined by real economic activity)! In other words the argument of government boils down to "since we spent X% more during the last measurement period that's how much, before inflation adjustment, we can expect to spend during the next period". Quite a deal when you think about it. Your private sector pay raise, if you happen to get one, is often based on how much prices across a wide spectrum of the economy has increased (i.e. the CPI). Would you like a deal where the pay increase you could reasonably expect would be based on how much you spent the previous year? Sign me up!

Your potential income increase, and hence your "ability to pay" taxes, is based on the CPI, yet the government insists on their justification to ask for more be based on a different, largely self-determined (and self serving) measure. If the ability to pay for the source of tax payments is based on the CPI, isn't it reasonable to measure the demanded increase in payment with the same metric? Also remember that the city lowered the levy rate last year in part by moving some items out of the budget and subject to future bond issues.

It is also interesting to note that the perspective of figures bandied about varies between "taxes", "levy rate increase", "tax levy burden" very loosely and almost interchangeably. This sets up the outrageously misleading at best statement: "Bottom line - your tax levy burden is 85 cents per day per person. What else can you buy for this amount that is as important as police and fire...". Mary Burg quotes this whopper as often as Mayor Larson pops his buttons over National Night Out rankings.

Do the Gang of Three, who over the last few years allowed modest tax cuts to get passed only after outraged citizens made a lot of noise and Council Members Doffing and Bauman aggressively stood up for the taxpayers, really expect us to believe (and to base our vote for them) on a perception that your contribution to city government comes out to 85 cents per day? Dig out your tax statement and do the math. Don't forget that you also "contribute" through additional hidden taxes (e.g. franchise fees) and transfer payments via state and federal government agencies.

Do you believe it is possible to remove the large number of former taxpaying properties in the NWQ from the tax roll without impacting the rest of the taxpayers? Do you believe it was in the taxpayer's interest to buy Harry's Bar (and take it off the tax roll) and to buy and sell Marv's Transmission at a huge loss? Do you believe it is good government to have over 30 TIF districts that are being subsidized by taxpayers while most other cities have a single digit number of TIF districts? Do you belive it is good government to expose taxpayers to a huge liability if the NWQ project (which already has a long record of unexpected setbacks) does not come to fruition? Do you believe that these politicians are capable of dealing with all of the difficult choices the city is going to have to make, given that their actions are responsible for many of the problems?

It is laughable that big spending, command-and-control government liberals like Mayor Steve we are going off the air during the public comment segment Larson, Council Member Mary Marv's Transmission is ugly, so let's buy it Burg, and former Council Member Kim why do people elect us if they don't want us to make the important decisions for them Moore-Sykes claim and take credit for a "tradition of open, efficient, and responsive government in New Brighton" cited by the piece.

Indeed, as the flyer states, "Now it is your turn!" to go out and vote on November 6 and do the housecleaning necessary to begin to undo the damage these politicians have done to New Brighton and we can begin work on a non-fiction version of the "New Brighton Fact Sheet in Black and White".


Blogger Force50 said...

The Gang of Three -- Larson, Berg, Moore-Sykes -- clearly support government of the government, by the government, and for the government.

To return to government of the people, vote Dahms, Post and Phillips.

11/05/2007 1:14 PM  

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