Wednesday, January 28, 2009
RNC Chair - with endorsements and video at the meeting live
Live tweets on #rncchair from twitter ... some people at the meeting feeding on the spot updates
I've been supportive of Saul Anuzis the Michigan GOP chairman, calling for a GOP REBOOT. Although local republicans don't get a vote, since only 168 members of the RNC make the decision there is a lot of grass roots support for Saul.
Monday, January 26, 2009
We learn that the Porter County election board wants to move out and get new and nicer office space. They have asked Valerie Kubacki to help them find new dowtown office space. I can think of a couple places ... how much space? special requirements?
They also discussed the need for $140,000 in new money to cover the cost of election referendums on school construction projects. Many have suggested that the schools should be paying this not the county, but the law so far is too open. Also, they get to call these referendums when they want, I have proposed elsewhere that they be in even years only and on the normal election day. In the post tax cap world, talk of "forcing" the county to pay for anything is a bit over the top, especially the threatened use of judicial orders ... in my opinion a widely abused tactic.
They also discussed a possible voting center concept, which is contemplated in legislation ... allowing the Gary Indiana type situation where people can go and vote over an extended period of time instead of just on election day or at the election board offices.
Lastly, some talk about redrawing the precints. I remember asking someone this question just last week. Who exactly has the authority to redraw precincts?
There's a lot of talk about reorganization and more rounds of budget cutting in Indiana, here's one widely read blogger's thoughts on municipal elections from Capital Watchdog in response to our own Senator's proposal now in hearings.
Here’s what I think would be the perfect compromise…
- Keep local elections in the odd-numbered year, but shorten them. Instead of going from May to November, go from May to June or July. Who needs six months to run for a Council seat?
- Consolidate the primaries and let the top two vote-getters face a run off. I’m even willing to declare a winner in the primary if someone gets more than 65 percent of the vote. Let’s be honest, there really isn’t a “Democratic” or “Republican” way to run a city, either you know how to do it or you don’t.
- Get rid of voting precincts and switch to vote centers. You can do them by council district or township. Have the voting center running for two weeks prior to election day. Anyone who can’t find a couple minutes out of two weeks to go vote probably shouldn’t be voting to begin with. Also it should be a lot easier to manage a dozen voting centers for a couple weeks as opposed to 500 precincts for 12 hours.
- Add school board elections to the off-year elections. School boards, although I have no use for them, are still local government.
- And I would also eliminate straight-ticket voting, for obvious reasons.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Here's the post from yesterday:
Thanks to the efforts of a great group of volunteers, we've now completed our first pass at entering all the actual dollar appropriations from the bill into a Google spreadsheet. You can view the results here.
We haven't quite finished the final 'validation' pass (double-checking our work), so please speak up if you notice anything that looks like an error in the current version.
Coming soon, we'll be using the data from the spreadsheet to present the stimulus bill appropriations in chart and graphical formats that will make it easy to understand just where the money is going.
Also, you can follow the line by line analysis at twitter profile Found in the Bill
In Indiana 2008 was the year of change for local units of government, with 2,300 local government units focusing on cutting budgets to get their tax collections under the circuit breaker caps set in place by HEA 1001. The waves of innovation and even collaboration are still rolling across the state.
In 2009, change is coming for Indiana's schools and county governments. Due to HEA 1001 Indiana's schools get the lion's share of their budgets now from the state sales tax, not from property taxes. Seems innocuous on the surface, but not really. Property tax revenues gave school districts a much stronger ability to control who could attend or transfer. Some possible outcomes:
- Open enrollment could ensue, since the state is paying the tab, shouldn't an Indiana student be able to attend any school they desire?
- Competition between schools for academic and athletic superstars, since of course testing is now the main barometer of a school's success ... and perhaps even funding.
- Consolidation of smaller schools, one bill would mandate systems with less than 1,000 students, another would reach up to schools with less than 2,000. This changes the whole class system of sports doesn't it? Maybe a chance to get rid of class sports all together?
- Who will elect or appoint the school board? If open enrollment commences, who says the people in the formerly closed district should get to elect the board? Should the state have more say on local school boards since they are providing most of the money?
- In an environment of open competition for students, charter schools can get in the game. Look for some schools to eliminate sports (let private leagues do sports, we'll teach) decentralize campuses, and provide substantial college prep and college classes. If some 16 year olds can test out of freshman classes in partnership with Ivy Tech or Purdue or Ball State ... who says they have to care about Gym class instead.
- Could a private not for profit school, gain state funding to compete with the local school system, it is our money right? Why does the government get a monopoly?
Saturday, January 24, 2009
One solution would be a whole new crop of local community banks, banks focused on actually helping their communities instead of sucking them dry for deposits and then cutting off all lending.
The Welter family in Valparaiso, supposedly wants to open just such a bank. Let's celebrate risk taking and innovation ... if they open a strong encouragement to check them out for your deposits, no reason to keep your money in banks that are damaging the economy in NW Indiana.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tomorrow morning J.D., a regular commenter and sometime contributor and I will be grabbing breakfast. J.D. grew up in Valpo, is extremely conservative, and now lives in Texas. He writes the conservative blog Alamo City Pundit. Check it out
I'll update here after we meet.
Looks like Munster messed up in the big flooding catastrophe last fall, and with the Governor and Pete Visclosky both pushing hard for a solution ... blaming a bridge may not be the best approach for anyone. Kudos to Hammond for helping and for bagging faster.
Town of Porter officials sound pretty frustrated to find that planning and zoning has been overlooked in the past. I think I remember something from last week about hiring an economic development consultant with Burns Harbor. Wonder if that will include planning and zoning too?
Big debate this week in Lake County over tax on restaurants to pay for busing. Sorry to say it that way, but it does kinda make the case against doesn't it? Talk about redistribution.
Gary played host to Distressed Unit Board, not sure of details so far.
New bill would force Porter County to stay in RDA for ten years, with only one chance to get out or else be fixed for another ten years. This does make sense due to bonding, understood. The Times writes on same issue here.
Republicans got spanked in 2008, let's be frank, and the financial disclosure forms show that they were targeting the county commissioner seat to put Bob Harper in the minority, and even though spending a lot of money ... Lost big. Why?
If I'm missing something important, political, or debatable ... put in comments please. Also, if anyone at the Republican Pow Wow last night wants to post an update .. go for it.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
- We don't really have $160 million, due to clauses in the sale contract that were poorly conceived, we have long term potential liability for lawsuits, potentially frivolous medical types, from former patients. This amount could drop quite a bit if attorneys just do a little ambulance chasing and find some candidates to dig into that pot of gold.
- The County Council voted to self-handcuff themselves with a rule that the principal can't be touched unless a super-majority supports it. Of course a regular majority could vote to set aside that same self-appointed rule and then tap into the principal or change of their own internal rules.
- Rep. Soliday's proposed legislation would formalize what everyone appears to have agreed, namely that the principal would be left alone, that interest could not be used to balance the operating budget, and that there should be citizen input into the use of the earnings. That is what a foundation does, they use the earnings only for public good, and keep the principal intact.
- The issue at hand is not someone reaching into the cookie jar, it is providing a framework for formalizing this agreement into a county council controlled foundation, and looking ahead to the day that we eliminate commissioners and let the elected county executive appoint the citizens board for a check and balance.
- Lastly, when the hospital was sold, there were some fuzzy details and the contract was missing strong enough language to protect us and to determine the exact manner of managing the money ... this legislation can clear that all up.
- Conservatives, for some reason, don't seem to play well together. Whereas progressives or liberals easily collaborate and form ad hoc groups and movements, conservatives and libertarians aren't as quick to work freely and openly. Why is that?
- The Republican Party and the term Conservative are not entirely overlapping. There are some conservatives who favor Democrats, for example many people in the southern portion of our own county. And there are Republicans who venture toward the progressive middle.
- My opinion -in general local political activists are still trying to find each other, reaching out in a myriad of different communication styles and devices. Some use meetup (like the Ron Paul and Liberty movements) some use facebook (college age) some are tying out blogs and twitter so they can reach a wider audience by use of SEO, some are commenting on the newspaper site with anonymous names ... you name it. Where are you reaching out right now? A challenge, if you aren't, if you are talking to the same people every day, then we all know that lack of progress is the beginning of failure. How are you reaching out right now?
- All are in seeming agreement that the party should reflect the people in the trenches, not the other way around.
- With regards to chairman's election, I've all but given up hope that those interested in the job will engage with anyone outside of Valparaiso. I wish they would, I counsel that lack of listening has been our greatest failure, but I don't rely much on hope for change.
- Comment on your favorite blog, don't just read it today, join the debate. Need some ideas look at blogroll here on righthand side.
- Join facebook and a couple NW Indiana groups there.
- Talk to a couple of your neighbors, what do they really care about? Digital of course isn't the only medium (that was for you RR) What are real citizens concerned about this year?
- Engage, engage, engage.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Search on twitter in #TCOT niche (I'm @daltonsbriefs if you're there)
Fox News Live Coverage - as Mark from Hoosier Access commented, they're playing nice today since it's inauguration.
Where are you watching, interacting, engaging?
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Then last month the Governor announced that he would be pushing for $1 billion in budget cuts from the state budget in anticipation of lower sales tax and income tax revenues during the completion of this recession. Some groups are demanding that the State use it's $1.6 billion in rainy day funds, but my money says Mitch will hold firm and keep that reserve for a worse event in the future.
Lastly, now the Obama administration will blow it's way through a couple trillion more in "stimulus" funds to try and jump start the economy. But eventually, probably in mid-2010 they will have to deal with the deficit again. This may well become "the" central and core election issue for the mid-term elections. Can anyone show deficit leadership, budget cutting, collaboration across the aisle in such a way to tackle the tougher budget items?
Mayor Costas and others in NW Indiana are hoping that earmarks will remain an option. Gotta say from my perspective, they are political hot potatoes right now, and will probably be banned for good once this recession is over.
Pete Visclosky (D - 1st District) is still against the bank bailout, question is where will he fall on the Stimulus Plan?
My take? All these budgets are going to have to be cut, and the stimulus plans are going to fall woefully short of expected impact. Best bet is to do everything possible to gain a Housing Recovery in 2009. Of course, for full disclosure, I'm working on a book project right now about that subject ... more in future weeks.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Here's the comment from Shawn Olson, for those that might have missed it buried deep:
One thing is clear, whoever the Chairperson may be, they need to posses a few basic traits. They need to be dedicated. They need to be a referee, a mediator, a fundraiser, an organizer, and most of all a leader.
I see a lot of good names on this list. I feel, most of them would make a great Chairperson.
Let’s start with Susan. Susan is a wonderful and honest person. I feel she would be a great candidate for the position as she has done a lot with the GROW group and is, in my humble opinion, under appreciated. This may be due to her hesitation to brag about her accomplishments.
Chuck, I feel, did a fine job. I am slightly surprised he isn’t running again, but I do understand the amount work that comes along with having children.
I don’t have enough experience with Bruce to comment but would likely agree with RR regarding his aspirations and intentions.
Murphy has good morals but, like Bruce, I don’t have enough information to form an intelligent opinion.
I know Cannon’s heart is in a good place but it seems he has been rather busy with work since I haven’t seen him around the meetings. I would question his eagerness to hold the position.
I think Wichlinski is another good choice as it seems to me that he posses a “go-getter” type mentality and isn’t afraid to get the job done. In fact, I can find some similarities between him and I. Based on his previous campaign speeches, we seem to share a passion to further our understanding of our constitutional form of government and we both want our leaders to rule in a constitutional manner and not by the will of a small group of people or their political colleagues
I am in full support of a Ralph Ayres campaign as he was one of the few politicians I respect whole-heartedly. Even though Ralph and I agree 65% of the time regarding political matters, I strongly appreciate the fact that when I called his office (not during school hours, or when the house was in session), I was greeted by a warm “hello, this is Ralph Ayres. How may I help you?” He was the most easily reached politician I have ever attempted to contact. He understands that there will be constituents that do not agree with him. In fact, he would even take the time to explain, in detail if you let him, why he was voting the way he was. I have even left messages at his office and within a day he would call me back personally. In my opinion, having open dialogue with your constituents is one of the main responsibilities of being a representative of the People. So yes, I do have great respect for Ralph. But if Ralph has future political aspirations, that maybe a better place for him.
As for me running for Chairman, I don’t know if I should laugh or be honored. Maybe it was like in high school you always picked on one of the outsiders just so the “cool” kids can laugh at them for thinking they just might be one of them. Between all of the rumors and lies, I am beginning to wonder if we are all in high school again. Looks to be we have some “cool” kids in our organization.
And then there was one, Dave Bengs, whom I feel would make a great choice for county chairman. I will go ahead and take this opportunity to publically throw my support behind Mr. Bengs, as I feel he possess the basic traits I have previously described.
Now RR, if I may add one more thing.
Quote: “Joel I am not going to get into the whole Olson thing again”
If you didn’t feel like discussing “the whole Olson thing,” then my only option is to question your motives in mentioning it to begin with.
But since you did here are my thoughts.
I stood by everything I said about Ed during my campaign, including my mailers. I stand by them today, and I will continue to stand by them well into tomorrow.
Ed was not the determining factor in my decision to run for State Rep in the 4th district. I have stated previously and I will state this again. The main reason I decided to run was because I saw an impending financial explosion(was I wrong?). At the same time, all I heard from the politicians was spend, spend, and spend some more. I ran because I believe the people of the 4th district deserve a statesman, not a politician. They deserve a statesman that understood what was happening to our economy, and understands how our economy will pan out in the future. They deserve a statesman who doesn’t cater to the idea of printing more money in hopes that it will fill the hole in the sinking boat. The same boat that began sinking because of that very nature.
I started off my campaign by not even mentioning Ed. I felt at the time, and even now, that the race between Ed and I was not about who is a “more cool” or “more accomplished” man, even though many GOP insiders made it so. I hold the position that stating their voting record or public comments is fair game and is in no way “slinging mud.” It’s simply stating the differences between the two of you. I mean c’mon, if you can’t stand up for what you believe in or how you voted, then you are in the wrong business! Ralph Ayres would not approve!
Ed and I talked a couple of times during the State Convention and I felt that, overall, we were fine with everything and we both held the position of moving forward.
You can handle criticism in a few ways. You can ignore it, deny it, or you can learn from it. Which is what I feel Ed ended up doing in the end. He learned from what I was saying and started to change his approach. By listening to the voters he is a stronger candidate today. The November results proved that. He was one of two main Republican candidates to actually win in Porter County. Ed even swept his Lake County territory, an area that is traditionally difficult to pull R votes.
So RR, like Ed and I, let’s move forward. 2010 is but a short time away however it will be ample time to get those seats filled with a big “R’s”, if we work together.
“Please Pass That Opened Can of Worms”; ~or~ Porter County Struggles to Unravel Years of Taxpayer Abuse
. . . well, let's just say Thanksgiving was always interesting.
So it's been with not small amount of familiarity I've been watching the battle at the porter Assessor's Office over the Tax Bills. A brief recap; first, there was the morass that was the Assessor's Office. Previous Assessors had mad so many deductions, loopholes, and one-time exceptions" to the tax code that a house next door to another on Jefferson Street in Valparaiso (like, for instance, my grandmother's) paid several thousand dollars in taxes annually, while the house next door had not paid taxes since the county's founding in the 1830's.
So, figure you have (a) an antiquated assessment and billing system, (b) the addition of a TIF and some big box stores in the last few years, and (c) an Assessor's Office without the support of the County Commissioners, and you have one big can of worms. That's why an accounting firm was hired to try to straighten out the bills and get them current.
A new contract with Crowe Chizek, an accounting/consultant firm with offices in Merrillville, was approved by the Porter County Commissioners this week. It has an estimated cost of $56,000 to $103,000 for several tax-related tasks. Officials previously approved $222,000 for the team of consultants, which was allocated in two rounds. The initial payment of $72,000 was funded with commissioners funds and the county assessor's reassessment fund, while the second round of funding set aside $150,000 from the county's economic development income tax.
If the most recent contract is finalized by the County Council, it will bring the consultants' total estimated pay to $278,000 to $325,000.
The contract details the work Crowe Chizek will provide, which includes integrating a new computer software system, validating existing data and making sure all aspects of tax collection comply with new state requirements.
"The requirements are changing constantly," said consultant Beth Henkel, former commissioner with the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. "The settlement (method) changes every six months, the forms we have to use get changed constantly and it's because of the DLGF and the state Legislature. "Henkel said the firm also will offer technical assistance with this year's settlement, deductions and TIF allocations. The firm will make sure TIF districts are funded at appropriate levels, she said.
Then came the battle over the competing Computer Tax Programs, as Porter County elected to computerize tax bills:
The software program (Porter County Assessor John Scott) opted for, after a lengthy battle with other county officials, has not only worked fine, but was among the first certified by the state.
Scott said Thursday his concerns involving Hamer Enterprises of Texas arose after he researched the company and learned a community in Wisconsin was having problems with the software.
When the county commissioners agreed to purchase the Hamer software for the auditor and treasurer's offices in May 2007, Scott opposed the choice for his office, saying Hamer had not responded to requests for information or additional visits.
The debate boiled over in May 2007 when all but two county council members voted to take the unusual move of purchasing the Hamer software for the assessor's office and each of the township assessors without Scott's support.
Scott won out a year later when a tax consultant hired by the county said she shared some of Scott's concerns about Hamer and supported the idea of evaluating a different software provider. The commissioners agreed in May to purchase assessing software from Indiana-based X-Soft
So, in short, the County Commissioners tried to usurp the authority of the County Assessor by purchasing software to do the assessor's job - which the assessor refused to use because it was inadequate (as an outside tax consultant agreed.)
I did a brief web search on this Hamer Enetrpises, and found this page:
“My wife and I started this company based on what we perceived as a need,” said Hamer, a low-key businessman who prefers to keep his company out of the spotlight. An accountant by trade, he formed a bookkeeping company in 1975 called Hamer Enterprises and hired a computer programmer to automate his practice.
Today, some of the world’ most expensive real estate — including Silicon Valley and downtown San Francisco’s landmark TransAmerica building — are on tax rolls that are supported by Easy Access’ software.
”In Los Angeles, what we do is actually assess the property and determine the value of the property, and specifically, it is for the unsecured property (furniture and equipment),” Hamer said. Easy Access also has developed a successful tax billing and collection system that mails out each bill to the property owner and allows the bank to receive the tax revenue directly from the taxpayer, then deposit the money electronically.
Did you catch the two key phrases here? The first was "specifically, it is for the unsecured property (furniture and equipment)." This tax software was designed to assess and tax the value of not just your property, but also your home, your refrigerator, your TV, and the clothes on your backs.
See why the County Commissioners liked this software now? Good.
The second key phrase is "allows the bank to receive the tax revenue directly from the taxpayer, then deposit the money electronically." Electronic payments will greatly speed up the payments of taxes, in particular from properties that have their taxes tied up in their home's escrow. Electronic billing and payments means bills today, payments tomorrow. Which (again) is something the County Commissioners desire.
So now, with the new software and a team of accountants working round the clock, the tax bills should be done any time now, right? Uhmmm . . . No, not really:
County officials say it is unlikely they will be able to mail out the 2008 tax bills next week as hoped.
Completion of the bills continues to be held by bugs in the county's new tax software program and long-standing problems that have resulted in years of inaccurate calculations, County Auditor James Kopp said. Kopp and other county officials spent an hour discussing the ongoing problems Friday on a conference call with the county tax consultant and the makers of the software in question, Hamer Enterprises in Texas.
"This is a very complicated computer system," he said. County Treasurer James Murphy agreed. "My complaint was, 'Can't we solve more than one issue a week?' " he said following the teleconference call.
Yes, you read that one highlighted passage correctly. The County Commissioners approved the purchase of the Hamer Enterprises software; the one NOT approved by the state; for the Assessor's Office in Porter County. And even though they're going to buy the X-Soft software, they're still using the Hamer Enterprises Software.
Did I get any of that wrong? I've read these articles until I'm blue in the face, and this is the only conclusion I can find. Does this remind anyone of the Animal Shelter fiasco, which I've documentedHERE, HERE, and HERE.
Why are the County Commissioners micromanaging everything in their path? Why have they bought unapproved software for use in Porter County? Why isn't the County Assessor being allowed to do his job?
You'd have to ask the County Commissioners. And they don't appear to be talking . . . or answerable to us.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This is a topic near and dear to my heart; and while not specifically applicable to Porter County Indiana, is generally applicable to conservatives everywhere.
The Christian music stations like K-LOVE have a thing they call "Meet Me At The Pole." On certain days (like the beginning of school, or when there's trouble) the kids meet unofficially at the flagpole and pray for the school before classes. Highly unofficial, highly positive, Christian oriented activity.
More about "Meet Me At The Pole" HERE for 1999, HERE for 2007, and HERE's the obligatory story about "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" suing the principal of a school for daring to allow this to happen.
Anyway, I've been e-mailing some friends this last week who are all feeling a sort of "malaise" bordering on dread over the coming inauguration. We've been batting ideas around trying to put some kind of positive spin on an event that doesn't hold a lot of positive feelings for most of us.
I had an idea, though. I'm thinking about going to the flagpole during the inauguration. Going to the flagpole in front of the nearest federal building (courthouse, post office, etc.) at noon Eastern time (11am central) Tuesday and praying for the incoming President.
Because let's be honest here. I don't wish any harm, any evil on Barack Obama. I truly hope he's the most successful President in the history of the United States. I pray daily he will be able to win over world leaders, dissuade terrorists from attacking the country, and repair the economy. I don't care whether he does it through luck, skill, divine intervention, or unicorn farts. I truly wish he does just that.
However, I feel the chances of this are statistically insignificant. Which is to say, I'm worried.
I'm going to be at the U.S. Post Office Tuesday the 20th at 11:00 am Central Time to pray for this guy. Anybody join me?
And even if you can't join me, go to your own local Post Office. Got to the flagpole outside your place of business. Just walk outside your business and pray on the sidewalk.
Wanna do something positive? Here it is. Want to be part of a massive silent protest?
See you on the 20th.
* * * UPDATE: * * *
Joining in so far:
And Rightly So !
Porter County Politics
It's becoming a movement. Got a couple of feelers from news organizations, too.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
In this case a picture is worth a thousand words for sure
Another photo and more photos here and from Fox here
The pilot's company
"if anyone is looking for a passenger on the Hudson river crash, call here: (800) 679-8215 [US Airways]
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This week he endeavored to analyze property tax rates, balanced against local option income taxes, to determine if Lake County is actually better off without an income tax. He also charted the tax rates for all communities in Lake County, which is a surprising chart to see.
I won't agree totally that COIT is bad, I actually personally think that COIT is the way to bring down overall property tax rates ... as long as elected officials have the will power to stop themselves from spending the new money first. I commented on the site something like the following, and I'm curious your thoughts?
- Bus fares should match the cost of operating the buses, then only those who wanted to ride the bus instead of walking, riding a bike, or driving their car would use the bus.
- Train fares on the Southshore should match the cost of operating the trains. Again, let the money track with the service, and don't ask "all" taxpayers to shoulder the deficits. I can fully understand using federal or state dollars to build a new line ... but not for operations.
- Sewer rates should match the true cost of operating the sewer system, including maintenance, expansion, and fixing combined sewer overflows. Yes, I realize this may cause large jumps in sewer rates, but then they would be real and they would be matched to the actual users.
- It is my opinion that Gary Airport should be privatized, not sure how, not even sure the legality, but surely it has a better chance if private.
Now, lastly to Buzz's beef with the COIT in Lake County. I can see the COIT being a great tool if the entire amount raised has to be used to reduce the levy for property taxes. Then everyone benefits.
It's been one of the most commented and trafficked posts so far for our site, but alas it's the same 115 people who read every day, not exactly a grass roots movement. Let me expand the question and hopefully the input to all of #TCOT if possible. I've used the Top Conservatives on Twitter hashtag in the title, so it will be easier for the 2,000 members of that movement to notice and come here to interact with us.
I'll even go so far as to propose the ideas from two perspectives:
- Republicans Rock - a regular reader and writing contributor here, has suggested that the local GOP isn't the problem at all. That the problem is the lack of involvement by conservatives in Porter County, they have opinions and in some cases give some money, but won't give time to attend meetings, help with events, make calls and the rest. RR has proposed that we need a new chair who can gather in more active members, one who has the experience doing, not just ideas or theories. And lastly RR has recommended that the new leader "not" be a potential candidate for office, so they can focus on party first.
- Daltons - I have suggested the problem is the GOP, and it's approach. Sorry to say it so bluntly since some of my best friends are the leaders, but they aren't the problem the organization myopia is. There are two spheres of influence in our county, the county seat of Valparaiso ... and the rest of the county. There are numerous special interest activist groups (pro-life, gun rights, smaller government, anti-growth, business, compassionate, christian right, farms, anti-labor, job creation, homeschool, and more) I'm sure every local community has similar situations. I propose we need a leader who can do the impossible
- Bring together all these regions and activists to work together instead of fighting each other, did you know that Dem Bob Harper speaks at the Right To Life banquet every year? Did you know that Republicans lost a House seat that straddles Porter and Lake counties, not because of Lake, but because Portage didn't even know who he was?
- Use web, blogs, social media, technology to greatly increase the number of people involved and the ways they can interact, don't protect operate in the open and transparently
- Communicate regularly and personally about daily and weekly issues affecting conservatives, draw attention to items of concern regularly not just at elections
- Raise $250,000 in small monthly increments annualy from activists in the county, for overhead, mainly online. Raising money for campaigns although difficult is a lot easier than raising money for overhead. Activists won't give $10 a month unless they feel like they are engaged, will be heard on hyper local issues, and matter to leadership.
- Decentralize leadership using township structure, keeping all precinct positions full all the time, and letting hyper local issues have high importance. Be the bottom up party, not the classic smoke filled room top down party.
To those of you joining us from elsewhere, what are you seeing work in local GOP? Love to get some new and fresh thoughts.
Lastly, if you are one of the people looking to be our next chair, and for the record not a single one has deigned to leave a comment so far, then your comments and positions would be important too.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Got a chance to catch the second half of the Governor's State of the State Speech kicking off the 2009 legislative season.
Let's boil it down:
- Tough times call for innovative choices
- It's time to cut the budget, if we use up the rainy day fund, we could be in trouble in the future
- Stop whining, and start winning
- Just think California's deficit is three times larger than our entire budget ... I guess it's awful nice to be here and not there
- Mitch didn't talk enough about jobs or job creation
- Mitch isn't giving enough money to schools in his budget
- Mitch was overly positive in the fall just to get elected
- Mitch spent too much time on class room discipline
- He avoided the tough issues
Basically, the democrats wants to spend the rainy day fund and Mitch won't let them.
Quote from Capital Watchblog: "Governor Daniels didn’t really say anything different in his State of the State address Tuesday night. But, boy, did he say it differently. The speech was a mixture of optimism and tough demands to stay the fiscal course of tight spending. But the emphasis in some of the wording was really on the tough side."
Here's the Inaugural Address I'll post State of State once it's posted:
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Portage Mayor Velazquez has made 2009 appointments to boards and commissions. In Portage this can be difficult because there are so few people who would qualify for Republican spots. I have a question, if we had a viable third party, what would happen to all these rules that restrict boards to two parties?
"Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting services, extra efforts by county employees and weekly status meetings, county officials were unable to get 2008 property tax bills out by the end of that year. The delay, which was already a couple months behind the traditional due date, was blamed on problems with a new software program purchased for the auditor and treasurer's offices." Times on May 2008 bills which will now go out Jan 19th 2009.
Continuing articles on the property tax caps, and appeals by Gary. Here's the scoop: no one knows for sure what the affect of the caps will be, mainly because state oversight and county assessing officials are basically an entire year behind. So Valpo and Portage and other communities may be better off than originally estimated, Gary may be as well, but other communities hard hit by real estate woes may be worse off going forward than they thought. Remember with market based assessing, 2009 assessments should go down in NW Indiana.
Pres. Elect Barack Obama ran a campaign on CHANGE. Some thought it was a bit vapid, others were enraptured, and sadly even with billions of dollars in expenditures 40% of eligible voters didn't even take the time to vote. Our county voted along with a few others in Indiana for this "change" message, and our state with the influx of voters in Lake, Adams and Marion County went for "change" with the Democrats for the first time in 45 years.
So ... we better give this CHANGE thing some further thought. What change do residents and activists in Porter County want? I'll leave this as an OPEN THREAD for a while, leave comments and I'll promote the good ones up as updates to the post. Come on Porter County, what is it that you want changed?
Friday, January 09, 2009
Although I haven't been able to converse much with Indiana's RNC voters, it does look like they are getting the news from their national contacts ... namely "it's time for change at the RNC"
In a race that pits five energetic challengers against him, Duncan is relying more and more on his status as the ultimate RNC insider to defend his position on a restive committee. Though the RNC’s fundraising flourished during the 2008 cycle, the GOP lost 21 House seats and at least seven Senate seats in an election that left many Republican activists looking for a new leader.
Go to link above for full Politico article.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I'd love to hear some opinions and feelings on where the party is headed going forward - one very very important caveat - I AM NOT RUNNING, and DO NOT WANT TO BE CHAIRMAN. At some point this rumor was started, and I can assure you it wasn't started by me as a whisper campaign. So one name off the list, I'll stay pundit and chief "we better start engaging" guy.
Let's hear em, who's running? Who would you like to see run? I'll prime the pump so we have some names for you to respond to:
- Susan Rusteau - former county sheriff candidate
- Chuck Williams - Chairman incumbent
- Bruce Snyder - former chairman candidate
- Shawn Olson - former State Rep candidate
- Matt Murphy - Valparaiso Econ Dev Director
- Jeff Good - former County Commissioner candidate
- Ed Morales - Porter Township trustee
- John Cannon - former State Rep. candidate
- Bob Wichlinski - former Porter Township trustee
- Ralph Ayres - former chair and State Rep.
- Dave Bengs - Attorney
Lip service will be easy to pick out.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By Karen Snelling
Post-Tribune CROWNPOINT --
A top official with the Lake County Republican Party claims the party
is self-destructing because of infighting. Peter Thayer, board
secretary of the county GOP, blames Chairman John Curley for failing to unify
the party. "The fighting strengthens bitterness, promotes
factionalism and weakens the party structure," said Thayer, of East Chicago, who
plans to run for the county chairmanship in March.
He points to last week's departure of longtime Center Township Assessor
Martha Wheeler as an example of internal riffs that have occurred during
I don't know the inside workings of the Lake County GOP, but they've sure had their recent moments of foolishness. Any of our readers know Thayer? Like to do an interview if you can connect him to us. It's important that we have a healthy two party system in Lake County, and for the longest time it's been all one party, perhaps its the Republicans fault, more as we get details.
- Property Assessments have been a total mess for decades, with the townwhips in northern Lake County being the worst. The three steel mills along the Lake are actually now assessed by the state DLGF, not the township assessor, due to so many years of inconsistencies and lawsuits.
- Indiana now features trending and market based assessments. These changes are clogging the system, and will take another two years to get back to billing property owners on time.
- In the spring of 2008 the Legislature passed HEA 1001 which capped property taxes in 2009 for all units of government at 1.5%, 2.5%, and 3.5% depending on the use. These caps are further reduced to 1%, 2% and 3% in 2010. Cities and towns with low tax rates really weren't affected much. Gary with a tax rate in excess of 6% was affected a lot.
- Gary went yesterday to the state Distressed Unit Board to request an extension of the time the law mandated to reduce their budget by $32 million. This amounts to almost half of the entire city budget in 2007. They asked the state to let homeowners and landlords pay the statute mandated level of taxes, but bring business property taxes down slower to give them time to cut the budget so drastically.
Post Tribune: Appeals board hears Gary's financial plight
Monday, January 05, 2009
Miller Citizens in full force against extension to four years.
"When someone has to pay 32000 a year on a house, you've got a problem"
"My taxes were $6400, $18,000, $9,000 and $8400 ... The process lacks transparency and makes no sense"
###no decision today, probably two more hours of testimony, then another meeting or two before they vote on extension
As many people are aware the City most affected by the state's new circuit breaker tax caps is Gary. A quote from the chairman today - out of 2300 units of government, we had only 3 submissions to this board.
Gary Indiana did submit for help, and is really THE test case for what happens going forward. Will the board allow Gary more time to reduce their budget dramatically to meet statute? Is it even possible to cut 30 million from a budget? Does the board think Gary has the willpower to cut this much?
There are probably 75 ppl in attendance, almost all from Gary, including firefighter and police. Many of the cuts will be personnel, if approved, and these employees may actually testify against the proposal.
The first up though is Beech Grove libarary. What an interesting dichotomy, a little library from a town of 10,000 and an entire urban city from NW Indiana. The third submission for assistance voluntarily withdrew ... City of Monroe.