Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Proposed New Sign Ordinance

Having run for office now three times, I find the recent proposal submitted by the city council and supported by Mayor Richards a violation of our free speech as well as being un-American. I am referring to the recent sign ordinance that is being proposed.

If passed, the ability of candidates to run a campaign and get their names out will be severely hampered. When I have spoken with people, we all agree that campaign signs have gone bad. Candidates plaster the road with them, not with just one sign, but multiple signs. I have seen upwards of 20 signs by the same candidate in a row. They then leave their signs up for others to remove.

I have used signs and I have always marked the location of each and every sign put up. I put them up where they do not impair driver visibility. I begin pulling my signs down at 6:00 PM on Election Day. I have retrieved upwards of 40% of my signs with the majority being pulled down by others who were not authorized.

Many talk about how terrible the choice is for candidates, yet we make it difficult to run a campaign.

Many complain about the amount of money spent on political campaigns, yet the city council and Mayor’s office want to increase the cost to run a campaign.

Signs are by far the cheapest and best way to get your name out there.

This sign ordinance will make it more likely lobbies and the rich will control whom we have to vote for.

The two large parties most likely will like this sign proposal because it will limit individuals from running and voicing new ideas. Neither like mavericks or candidates not selected nor groomed by them. Instead of a proposal banning signs, we need a proposal that regulates signs.

  • Requirement on date signs can be up.
  • Requirement on number of signs in anyone location a candidate may have.
  • Requirement on size of sign so that safety is not impaired.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Universal Health Plan

Paul Wilson, executive director of Park Center Inc said as “the wealthiest country in the world, the United States should have no problem implementing a universal system.” This statement is a myth, a lie and down right dishonest. In fact if we were the wealthiest country in the world, then each of us would have no problem obtaining healthcare using “our” wealth. The simple down right sad truth is we are not the wealthiest country and quite possibly one of the most indebted countries in the world.

For decades I have heard politicians reference our wealth and yet our savings rate continues to drop. How do you create wealth if you do not save? Social Security was passed in 1935 and now has unfunded liabilities exceeding $17 trillion. If we are so wealthy, then family unit could easily contribute the $154,000 now to fully fund Social Security. Then there is the Medicare program that began in 1965 and is projected to be unable to pay schedule costs in eleven years or less. Lastly we have a $9 trillion national debt.

Wilson says his single payer system would not increase costs to Indiana businesses or families and would save $1 billion a year (~$140 per person). He proposes a public trust fund, progressive income tax and payroll tax to fund the system. I thought he said it would not increase costs to families or business?

If you want affordable healthcare remove government regulations and payments. Medicare shifts costs to those under 65. A funded healthcare system requires starting early, not late in life. You accrual the funds yearly and at the end of 42 years it now can fund the program for those who turn 60. A program that grandfathers older people creates huge unfunded liabilities since they will not contribute as long and their contributions have less time to grow.

Why did Southtown Mall Fail?

The Harrison Square project analysis does not have one single bit of information on the impact to other businesses that I have found. The assumptions are basic with no real information on where or how they were derived. They appear to me to be nothing more than SWAGS.

The reason why Southtown Mall failed or closed raises a very basic question, why? Did the people who buy services and products there simply stop spending money? If so, then they should be some of the wealthiest in the county. Or did they simply spend their money elsewhere such as Glenbrook when it opened?

Did the opening of Glenbrook increase spending or shift spending? There are two ways to increase spending; increase income or spend down savings. The US Savings rate is very low. There does not appear to be much left before we begin dipping into savings. Spending down savings can only go on for so long before there is nothing left.

On a smaller scale, what impact did the opening of the Rave have? From what I heard, the stadium seating drew people from all over. The lines were long with decreased attendance at other theaters. Did the Rave's attendance drop after the opening of the new theater off of Dupont or the renovation of the Coldwater Cinema's? I used to visit the Rave many times a year, but since the construction of the Dupont and renovation of the Coldwater theaters, I have not been back. I spend no more today going to theaters than I did prior to the Rave. In my case, I contribute no net increase to theater spending in Fort Wayne.

When a Mexican restaurant closed on Lima and Dupont, we did travel to Jefferson Pointe where they moved to, but again my spending on dining neither increased nor decreased. Now since they have closed, we now eat at a different restaurant. However, there is no net increase in our spending on dining.

The basic premise behind the Harrison Square financial impact is that the residents will spend more without an impact on current establishments. This simply is not a realistic assumption. Southtown Mall failed because people began shopping elsewhere. The current Wizards Stadium at the Coliseum will fail as soon as the Harrison Square project begins.

They identify construction costs as being good for the economy. However, will Harrison Square actually increase construction or displace construction? Is total construction capacity in Fort Wayne finite or is there excess capacity to build Harrison Square with no impact on other construction projects? Will Harrison Square drive up construction costs locally for a short period of time?

My overall spending will not increase much over what I spent in 2006. Where I spend my money will change slightly from 2006. I seriously doubt that I am much different from others in Allen County. Therefore, if we as a whole do not spend any more in our local area, then where is this more than $200 million in increased sales going to come from?

The economic impact does not identify any loss of business to any existing establishment.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Harrison Square - Last Chance to Defeat it.

If you want to stop Harrison Square now is your chance.

Harrison Square is opposed by most of our community. Recently the Department of local Government Finance voted 4-2 to recommend the bond issue for this boondoggle. The board's recommendation will be considered by Cheryl Musgrave, commissioner of the Department of Local Government Finance, for final approval.

Contact Cheryl Musgrave and tell her you don't want this project. Send this email to everyone you know who doesnt want this project. Let her hear the voice of the public.

Her contact info is
email: propertytaxinfo@dlgf.in.gov

Below is what I sent.

Dear Cheryl Musgrave,

Today I read in the News Sentinel where the City of Fort Wayne is proposing to borrow $45 million to partially fund a private enterprise development using taxpayer money. This $45 million will be used to pay for the construction of a $30 million baseball stadium that at best seats 5,000 and would have 75 games. The City of Fort Wayne will contribute $225,000 a year towards maintenance of the ball field. Based on the current stadium's maintenance cost, the $225,000 is too little to cover costs based on accrual accounting. This means this new proposed stadium will slowly fall into disrepair and require either additional tax money to maintain or tear it down.

Total potential ticket sales are 375,000. The City of Fort Wayne has informed the taxpayers that we will get $1 for each ticket sale when total sales surpass 325,000 full paid tickets. A full price ticket does not include the promotionals or complimentary tickets. The maximum potential paid to the city of Fort Wayne is $50,000 a year. These total sales do not come close to paying even the yearly cost of maintenance.

The cost to the taxpayer to finance $30 million is over $1 million a year. A first grader can easily see that the baseball stadium is money looser. The same city council has authorized the borrowing of millions for the Grand Wayne center, which is continual money looser.

The majority of taxpayers in the City of Fort Wayne do not support the Harrison Square project. It was thrust upon the taxpayers with very little information presented. When questions have been asked, the city has stone walled answering and in most cases people gave up ever getting an answer.

The city council speaks in terms of creating 300 new jobs. The reality is the jobs that will be lost by closing the current stadium needs to be subtracted from this 300. Just as the jobs that were lost in the Allen County Department of Transportation when Fort Wayne annexed Aboite and Perry townships. In our case, jobs cannot be created or destroyed, just moved about the city.

The Harrison Square project in and of itself cannot and will not create new jobs, but simply shift where people now work. The only way for new jobs to be created is to actually create a new need and not displace a current business. To actually create 300 new jobs would require the City of Fort Wayne to actually see increased sales in the area totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. 300 jobs paying $30,000 a year requires $9 million in wages. For the taxpayers to recoup their $30 million investment, maintenance cost, lost property taxes and other revenues based on taxes paid by the average person that are directed to the city will require over $195 million in new sales a year. This would be equivalent to having nearly 7,000 people yearly visit Fort Wayne and spend $30,000 each. Another way is to look at 6.5 million people each spending $30 in Fort Wayne (No city residents).

The trickle down theory works only as long as you do not displace existing workers or business and an actual new need produces increased productivity, which allows for the new need to be filled by the existing infrastructure without detrimental effect to fulfilling existing needs.

Will this proposed new stadium attract 6.5 million people who do not live or already spend money in the Fort Wayne to the city of Fort Wayne yearly? The baseball stadium has a yearly capacity of 375,000. It is clear that the baseball stadium does not come close to 6.5 million. This means that in order to be self sufficient and be a positive affect on the Fort Wayne economy, we need something else that will bring the 6.5 million visitors to Fort Wayne that does not cost a penny.

I sincerely hope that you will listen to the taxpayers of Fort Wayne. Please do not approve the request by Fort Wayne to borrow money for Harrison Square.


William Larsen

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Disabled Indiana Veterans

How many support our veterans? When I ask this, I get mostly thumbs up. But how many realize the state of Indiana does not support our disabled veterans equally? Generally speaking if a service member from the state of Indiana is injured and is awarded a 10% disability rating or more, their children are able to attend a state college free. However, there is a terrible injustice that our state representatives have done in writing this statute that has been on the books for decades. To qualify for this benefit, our disabled veterans must have served between the following dates, not necessarily injured in combat.

April 6, 1916 to July 2, 1921
September 16, 1940 to December 31, 1946
June 15, 1950 to January 31, 1955
August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
August 2, 1990 to present

Looking at the dates, one would get the impression that you have to be injured in combat, but that is not the case at all. We have not been at war since August 2, 1990. All one needs is a service-related disability rated at 10% or more and have served during the dates above.

One can be severely burned, cut up and have multiple fractures from training or catastrophic explosions during any of the black out dates and not qualify while a person who is rated a minimal 10% for hearing loss or sleep disorder was in service during the dates listed above qualify.

Third degree burns are terrible. Shrapnel wounds leave terrible scars and have long term and permanent damage to nerves and muscles resulting in reduced range of motion, yet if the veteran was serving our country during a black out date, the state of Indiana treats them as a second class veteran.

It is time for our representatives to treat all veterans equally.

Fixed Income

Again today I read in the paper about a person writing to say they are on a fixed income and how bad things are. My question to all those out there, is this, what is a fixed income? Are we not all on a fixed income? Those who are retired and receiving Social Security at least get a cost of living allowance equal to the change in inflation. If age 65, they are eligible for Medicare. Looking at these two programs, many are doing far better than wage earners whose healthcare contributions rise far faster than the Medicare premiums and whose wages my have not been increased at all. Then the wage earner has been faced with pay and benefit cuts.

The fact is the majority of us are on fixed incomes. City Council has to remember that we the taxpayers are not made of money and that the well is not bottomless. There is a limit and that limit has been reached. We are all face the same old problem, too many expenses, too little income with government taking its cut first without any regard.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Property Tax

I have a question for those who read my blog. What do you think of property taxes? Is it better to pay two large bills so that you are more aware of the true cost of government or is it better to hide the cost within the sales tax where you are less likely to keep track of how much you have paid or to a lesser degree an income tax?

Aqua Indiana Vs Fort Wayne Water & Sewer

Aqua Indiana is proposing to double its water and sewer rates. The reason is it spent about $900 per customer to upgrade its system to meet EPA requirements, which are the same requirements, that Fort Wayne must comply with. How many residents are within the city of Fort Wayne? At $900 a customer, the City of Fort Wayne is looking at well over $200 million to comply. How many know about this?

Maybe instead of trying to attract companies with a fancy new ball stadium, they should be focusing on infrastructure problems and keeping property taxes low. Low property taxes promote growth. It makes it an attractive place to live as well as provide a low cost of doing business.

No person or company wants to be saddled with someone else’s long term problems. Therefore, we need to focus on the problems and solve them instead of trying to bait others with the illusion that we are doing so great that we can afford to build ball stadiums.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why should school start before Labor Day?

My wife and I took our son to his school open house last night. We were a bit late, but had a few minutes to speak with his teacher. We learned that school for NWAC will start I believe on August 11, 2008 next year.

I do not know about you, but are the school boards getting out of control? August is hot, why not start after labor day and get rid of all these half day, multiple day off for teacher work days/conferences and get out by the end of May?

It may be that I am getting older and my kids do call me an old-fart, but when I went to school at Village Elementary, we started after Labor Day and got out in mid May. This does a few things. First it is skirts the hottest days of the years and reduces air conditioning requirements. There was no air conditioning. Second, it gives families more leeway in when they take vacations. I am not sure what the requirements are at other companies, but at places I have worked, they tend to frown on more than 10% of the work force off at any given time. This means a span of 8 weeks will leave many unable to get their vacation in before school starts. A longer summer break with fewer half, one and two day breaks during the school year will allow young adults to work more during the summer than they would have.

Attending school is not the only learning we get growing up. Much of what we learn is learned at home doing non school activities. Many refer to this as common sense, creativity, resourcefulness and imagination.

How will I vote if Elected to City Council?

I was asked how I would vote if elected to city council. It is an excellent question. A major reason why I decided to run for Fort Wayne City Council at Large is the current city council and past city councils have disregarded the opinion and wishes of their constituents.

They have not been forth coming on the Harrison Square project in terms of justification to spend over $30 million of our money.

They are now adding additional taxpayer monies through a round about method known as the Grand Wayne Center. Our tax dollars go to subsidize this waste of money. I now read the Grand Wayne will contribute $2 million over the course of a number of years. Where will it get this money? Why the taxpayers where else.

Aqua Source is seeking a rate hike to cover their investment in new infrastructure mandated by the EPA. This is the same mandate the City of Fort Wayne has not begun to implement. The cost to Aqua Source customers is said to be $30 million. The value I hear the city of Fort Wayne must spend is over $200 million. Why has the city council failed to address this very important issue?

Police and Fire pensions were not funded prior to 1977. These pensions are going to be paid soon, but they are unfunded. Every city council since 1977 has known about this, but has done nothing to address it. Each city council has looked the other way hoping it would just go away. Well it has not and it has grown very large indeed. I hear it is somewhere around $300 million.

If elected I will do what I have been doing for 35 years. I will gather information, analyze it and publish my findings and let the taxpayers know what I do. I will listen to their constructive criticism and vote as they wish. If my views are different from the majority and I have been unable to convince them through the information and analysis I present, then I will vote the way my constituents want me to. It would be my responsibility to obtain the information on any particular topic that is up for a vote and make sure it is correct and make it available to the public at the earliest possible date. It is my view that information is not forth coming and difficult for the public to get. A member of the city council works for the taxpayers. The taxpayers are not slaves to the city council.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Question: when does a loan become a contribution?

Campaign finance laws are numerous and not always black and white. How many candidates do the very same thing that Matt Kealty has done and not even know it? As I understand it, Matt borrowed money to finance his campaign for Mayor. He signed documents stating when payments are due and interest to be paid. This was no different than a Mortgage loan, Bank Credit Card, Car Loan, Student Loan or for that matter any other type of debt instrument.

Let us take a look at a theoretical candidate. They wish to run for office and have stocks that are doing well, but they do not wish to sell any. They decide to borrow money against the equity in their account. They can open a margin account and draw on this to buy more stock or take out cash. If they take cash out and contribute it to their campaign, must they report this new “loan” owed to a brokerage firm as being obtained from the brokerage firm?

What if the person has a home equity loan? They can use this borrowed money for any purpose, no questions asked. They could contribute it their campaign. Again, what is the correct method of reporting? The candidate is on the hook for the money they borrowed, but are they required to identify the source as being XZY mortgage company/bank?

What if the candidate is out on the town with just $100 in their pocket? They take the family out to dinner and instead of paying cash, they charge it and they contribute the $100 to their campaign. Are they required to identify the source as being the credit card company?

My question is pretty basic, how far back do you trace the origin of contributions? Is the basic premise of the campaign law to identify who is contributing money to which candidate and if so, is a loan the same thing as a contribution?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This person made it to the very top!

In 1979 I was assigned to the USS Fox CG-33 where it was in an overhull in Bremerton, WA. When I checked in, I spoke with the Engineering Officer, a LCDR Michael Mullen. On Sept 25, 1979 LCDR Mullern wrote this:

1. At about 0545 on the morning of 25 September 1979 I went to Number Two Engineroom to check on the plant status. I was informed by the MMOW, MM2 NORBY that he had planned to shift from steaming auxilary to modified main at about 0600. All conditions seemed normal.

2. At about 0610 I was sitting in the log room, located immediately above Number Two Engineroom, and I heard a loud explosion and felt a strong shock in the deck in the log room, which is the overhead of Number Two Engineroom. I proceeded to the main entrance door to Number Two Engineroom, opened it, and saw a space filled with steam. I then went to Main Control and ordered fires to be secured in number 2A boiler. MM3 WISCH ordered BTl RUSSEL to put fires out. I then went back to Number Two Engineroom. I met MM2 Norby in the passageway outside the entrance to the engineroom. He had blood all over his face and down the front of his jumper. He was coherent and aware that some thing had happened and knew he had been attempting to light off Number Two Circ Pump. I asked him if he were ok, or felt ok, and he said he did. I directed him to lie down in the passageway. Another FOX sailor (ROBBINS I think) was present and I told him to get the corpsman.

3. I then went down to Number Two Engineroom. When I arrived on the upper level, most of the steam in the space had dissipated" What remained was in the areas of the generators and switchboards. I came across MM2 LARSEN in the vicinity of the air ejectors. He appeared to be wandering aimlessly. He was covered in blood from head to toe and appeared to have severe facial cuts as well as his right arm being cut up badly. I brought MM2 LARSEN over to MM2 PERRY at the bottom of the ladder and directed him to remove LARSEN from the space. I then went to the telephone in Number Two Engineroom and called the quarterdeck. I told the Petty Officer of the Watch that “this is an emergency, call an ambulance.” Shortly, thereafter, MM2 PERRY returned to Number Two Engineroom. I there confirmed with him that here was no one else in the space. I directed him to then secure the remainder of the space. I then proceeded back to Main Control. I directed MMFN BEAUDREAU to assume the duties MMOW in Main Control. I directed MM3 WISCH, who was the MMOW in Main Control to proceed to Number Two Engineroom and secure the space. MM3 WISCH, MM2 Perry and myself hen secured all systems in Number Two Engineroom.

4. In my movements between the two enginerooms, MSC SOUDERS, EMCS JONES and HMC MALLON had all come on the scene to administer medical care to MM2 Larsen and MM2 NORBY.

5. The first time I looked at my watch as about 0620 and all of the preceding events had taken place. When I again returned to Number Two Engineroom (after it was secure, I left and went back several times) to survey the damage. I noticed the top of Number Two Circ Pump in front of the main throttle board. I confirmed that the remote position indicator for the combined exhaust relief valve showed the valve in the open position. I also verified that in fact the valve itself was closed. I also noted that EOSS was out and open to the page for lighting off the Main Circ Pump. It was laying on the lube oil strainer on the lower level. M. G. MULLEN

My parents flew out to San Diego to visit only, after the Navy game them authorization to visit me. The thinking was, they did not want parents to see their son with 2nd and 3rd degree burns (bad PR). These photos were taken on that visit.

So who made it to the top? The person in the top photo, left side is now Admiral Mullen and was nominated by President Bush to be the Head of the Joint Chiefs. Congratulations Admiral Mullen!

The person in the bottom photo is Dave Perry who was given a medal for acting quickly. He was on the lower level in the engine room when the turbine top casing blew up through the upper level deck plates. Instead of "going out the escape trunk" when the turbine blew apart, he went forward and closed the bulkhead stop, stopping the flow of steam into the engine room. He then exited the space through the escape trunk, pulled the fuel stops on the boilers, closed the main steam stops and communicated to Damage Control that there was a casualty. He started the forced draft blowers to clear the engineer room of steam and reentered the space.

This was a major steam leak. You have just seconds to get out before you are incapacitated
by the heat and steam and then cooked alive.

The middle photo is the Fox herself.

NBC-33 Debate poll results from 2002