Thursday, May 31, 2012

I have met the enemy and he is us.

The Arrogance of Politicians

Posted by John Stossel | May 31, 2012

New York City proposes to make it illegal to sell containers of soft drinks, sweetened coffee, and some fruit juices that are larger than 16 oz.

Give me a break. This infringes on my right to make my own contract with a merchant. It also doesn’t work. Americans have gotten fatter since the government launched its “war” on obesity.

Mayor Bloomberg has already pointlessly and intrusively banned trans fats, required restaurants to post dietary information, and outlawed food donations to homeless people because “the city can’t access their salt, fat or fiber content.”

The Food Police say that they just want to help us make good decisions. But no, they want much more than that. Government is force. Politicians want to force us to make good decisions.

Where does it stop? Why not replace hotdogs with Tofu Dogs and red meat with turkey? Once government pays for our health care, won’t they soon require exercise police to come into our homes to make us do pushups?

In a free society, I should be able to determine my own diet.

Mayor Bloomberg indulges the fatal conceit that politicians can and should force us to become thin. I say, No They Can’t! And they shouldn’t try.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

They should have just raised Taxes!

Kemp Police Department disbands

City’s financial deterioration also led to crippling water service problems

Athens — KEMP — The City of Kemp, plagued by huge infrastructure expenses, mainly crumbling water pipes, disbanded it's police department, as of 7 a.m., Tuesday, and is set to begin negotiations with a nearby municipal utility company to take over its water services.

Police Department equipment, including the town's patrol cars, bullet-proof vests, ammunitions, and other items will be auctioned off soon, according to Mayor Donald Kile.

The city council voted 4-0 Tuesday night for Kile to enter into negotiations with West Cedar Creek Municipal Utilities District, located in Tool, to take over day-to-day operations of the Kemp Municipal Water System.

An official with WCCMUD, however, told the Review Wednesday afternoon, that nothing has been established between the city and the MUD.

Office Manager Wanda Sanders said negotiations between engineers, the legal departments and the board of directors still need to be worked out.

Kile said that if such an agreement can be worked out, West Cedar Creek MUD would take over Kemp's water-deteriorating water lines.

“It's not done yet,” Sanders said. “There's lots to be done before that happens.”

Kile spent Wednesday communicating with the media, as well as local officials and others during yet another hectic day for the City of Kemp.

Kile took over as mayor not quite a year ago, just months before the decaying pipes began altering the city's lifestyle in sometimes-dramatic fashion.

Last summer, the city was without water for several days, when record-hot temperatures, combined with the drought, caused cracks in the earth, and shift in the land. This reportedly caused a huge number of water lines to crack.

Citizens had to boil water, and emergency supplies and drinking water from surrounding cities had to be brought in for the citizens’ safety.

More recently, the city lost much of its water power, and citizens again had to boil and ration water for a couple of days. The school district had to be shut down for two days when restroom facilities could not take care of the students’ needs.

But it wasn’t until Tuesday night's action that jobs were affected.

“It's heartbreaking, that we have to do this,” said Kile. “We affected people's livelihood. But it's what we had to do.”

Kile said the following in a prepared statement Wednesday: “We know this is a very tough situation for several of our city employees, and we terribly regret that these actions had to be taken. But the City's financial situation has deteriorated to such an extent that immediate measures were necessary.”

By early afternoon, Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes had issued a news release intended to reassure apprehensive Kemp citizens about the law protection of their community:

“Sheriff David Byrnes would like the citizens of Kemp, Texas to know that the Sheriff's Office will continue to answer calls in the City of Kemp. As of 7 a.m. on May 9, the City of Kemp disbanded the police department due to budget issues,” Byrnes said. “We will continue to serve the citizens of Kemp, just like we always have.”

Citizens who have emergencies in Kemp are being told to dial 911, and their calls will be handled “in a timely manner.”

Kemp citizens who have a non-emergency call to the Sheriff's office will need to call 972-932-4337.

To help beef-up patrols in the city, Kile said he was told that constables would also be helping in the coverage.

Any problems, the release says, will be routed to the appropriate departments.

City officials said they realize many questions still need to be answered.

As for the current water situation, there is no immediate loss of services, but negotiations with West Cedar Creek MUD have yet to begin.

“While we understand that the lawyers and financial specialists will have to get together to hammer out the details that mutually protect and benefit the parties, I am confident that an agreement will be ready in the very near future — an agreement that is acceptable both to the City of Kemp and the board of directors of WCCMUD,” Kile said.

The decision was made at Tuesday night's council meeting following a motion by Councilman Tommy McSpadden, and seconded by Councilman Leotis Buckley.

Kile said he wouldn't have financial numbers for citizens for a few more days, with the mayor spending his time putting out fires.

“I got people who love me and people who hate me,” he said.

He admitted the reaction has been mixed. The city had already raised water rates back in December to deal with a crisis that current members say should have been handled years ago.

Some people believe some past councils just punted the problem down the road.

The kids, said one person, are having to deal with it now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On Second Thought,, Offices Will Be Open

Cash-Strapped NY Town Cancels July 4 Fireworks

New Rochelle, N.Y. is appealing for donations to save holiday events amid budget problems

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Updated 1:51 PM EDT
Cash-Strapped Town Cancels Fireworks

A cash-strapped New York town has had to cancel Fourth of July fireworks and is appealing for donations to save its celebration of America's birthday.

New Rochelle town officials say the Independence Day display costs $75,000, and was eliminated from the city's 2012 budget, along with the Memorial Day parade and Thanksgiving parade, which both cost $30,000 to put on.

The costs for those parades include $10,000 for the event and $20,000 for police, fire and emergency service support, the town said.

New Rochelle has asked for donations to help save the holiday celebrations, and so far, enough money has been collected to hold the Memorial Day parade.

Funding for the Thanksgiving parade is also coming in, officials said, but the news for July 4 is bleak.

"Should funds not be raised, this event unfortunately will remain canceled," the town said.

Mayor Noam Bramson said the town is in a "time of fiscal challenge" and depends on the support of donations to help out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free water with every meal. You got hosed: Taxpayers foot bill for Water Works Restaurant By HOLLY OTTERBEIN Philadelphia Daily News It's Our Money Writer Michael Karloutsos, owner of the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge, notes that he didn´t pay the restaurant´s utility bill because the city didn´t send him one. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer) Michael Karloutsos, owner of the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge, notes that he didn't pay the restaurant's utility bill because the city didn't send him one. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer) Post a comment ALSO ON PHILLY.COM Women in the (TV and movie) White House PHILLY.COM's TOP FIVE PICKS A superhero slugfest Restaurant's utility bill is on your tab Prosecutors: Merlino still runs Philly mob The Daily Delco: Cops: Teacher locks son in car at bar to watch band Who's killing Philly public schools? When “It’s Our Money” started asking questions in March, officials insisted that the city doesn’t pay utility bills for Water Works Restaurant & Lounge, a private business owned by the politically-connected Michael Karloutsos. The high-end eatery leases space in a historic city-owned building near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It has crystal chandeliers, $39 dinner entrĂ©es, and an outdoor deck with a stunning view of the Schuylkill River. Why would the fancy place need taxpayers to cover its bills? Robert Allen, Parks & Recreation’s property and concessions management director, initially said the city wasn’t and first deputy commissioner Mark Focht said he didn’t “know of any facilities in Parks & Recreation’s system where the city is paying utilities for for-profits.” But, after probing by “It’s Our Money,” the city has acknowledged that taxpayers have footed the hefty bill for Water Works Restaurant for the majority of its six-year existence and the Nutter administration has launched an investigation. The city revealed that it has been covering the restaurant’s utilities only after “It’s Our Money” requested documents showing that Water Works paid its own bills. Allen said he discovered that the city had been mistakenly paying utilities for the past year following our inquiry. “The problem is not that the restaurant is not paying,” Allen wrote in an email. “We dropped the ball administratively and failed to issue the bills.” Allen said that the city paid for electricity, gas and water for Water Works from its opening in 2006 until 2010, and then again for about the past year. Electricity for that year alone cost taxpayers $70,000, according to mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald, and he estimates taxpayers have paid $225,000 on electricity since its opening. The total paid on all utilities is likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Allen said he couldn’t provide an accurate number because Water Works shares its city-owned building with a Water Department museum, and the equipment needed to measure each entity’s utilities wasn’t installed until 2010. Allen said the restaurant paid for its own utilities for some time between 2010 and 2011, although the city did not produce any documents to back up the claim, and Karloutsos doesn’t remember being billed. The Water Department and other utilities don’t bill the business directly because the city has to sort out the amount used by each entity, Allen said. He added that the city would recoup the money from the past year. The restaurant’s concession agreement with the city, signed in 2005, states that the restaurant is responsible for the costs. Allen said the city paid the restaurant’s utilities from its opening to sometime in 2010 because a submetering system, which measures utilities used by the separate entities in the building, wasn’t installed. The city won’t recoup the money from those years because “there was no way to measure utility usages at the time,” Allen said. Citing the investigation, McDonald couldn’t say why the equipment wasn’t installed for several years. The restaurant opened before Nutter took office. “In the wake of the inquiry from ‘It’s Our Money’ regarding the Water Works Restaurant and its utility bills, the administration is investigating the issues that have been raised,” he said. “Because we’re investigating this … I’m not able to discuss any of the details.” Water Works Restaurant has been the site of political fund-raisers for Nutter and Sen. Bob Casey, as well as a primary party for then-candidate Barack Obama. Karloutsos also ran the 2002 Illinois gubernatorial campaign for Paul Vallas, former Philadelphia schools CEO, and was later a consultant for the district. Karloutsos said Water Works would pay for its utilities as soon as it received a bill. He vehemently denied that his connections had anything to do with the city picking up the tab. “There is no inside job. There is no preferential treatment,” he said. “I don’t think any taxpayer in Philadelphia would pay an invoice that they haven’t seen.” Karloutsos also stressed that his restaurant helped to restore a national historic landmark, which was once in such disrepair that people wouldn’t walk by because “they would be afraid of what would be going on there.”