Who pays who?

January 30, 2009

The El Paso Times recently ran an article which linked to a data base of the salary of over 6000 City employees. 

I have no problem with that as it is public record.

I do have a problem with the spineless reporter Gustavo Reveles Acosta who wrote in his blog …

I have received several calls (my inbox was so full no more messages could be left on my line) and most of them call me out on posting what people think is personal information. Moreover, they dare me to post my own salary. Some of the callers say it is only fair for me to do so.

Well, I have to say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

And no, I don’t think it’s unfair that I won’t post my salary.

Let me explain why posting city salaries is not only legal, but of public interest. It’s not hard to explain really: the taxpayers pay these salaries, and under Texas law they have the right to know how much each city employee makes. From the most humble custodian to the powerful CEO and president of the Public Service Board.

The same goes for the county, the school districts, public universities and any other entity that uses public funds to do their business.

As for my salary … well, I don’t work for a public entity. Taxpayers don’t pay for my services. And until public funds are used to cash my check, I will keep that figure private.

I long tired of people saying to government employees, “I pay your salary.”

While that is true … don’t we all pay each others salary?


Setting the Record Straight

January 29, 2009


Same name but … this ain’t me.

In this man is perhaps the epitome of what would be considered an iron will. Al Arnold was the first human to run from scorching Badwater (-282 feet) in Death Valley to the high altitudes of Mount Whitney (+14,494 feet), 145 miles distant. Part of his training involved setting up an exercise bike in a 200 degree sauna and riding it for 45 minute sessions to acclimatize himself. By 1977, Al was running up to 50 miles a day, five days each week … he was also 50 years old.

Using a three mile per hour pace, this man of iron finally attained his long-realized goal of making the distance, leaving prior to dawn on August 3, 1977. The air temperature already exceeded 100 at 5 AM on this dramatic day, and would reach levels in the high 130s later. During the course of his epic 84 hour trek, Al drank about 30 gallons of liquids, and endured endless mind games in order to finally meet with success in the cool air of the mighty Sierra Nevada Range. Al is a senior member of the Badwater Hall of Fame.

Just in case there was any doubt.

Human Popsicle

January 28, 2009

The title of this entry is not meant to be disrespectful.

I find the following news very disturbing.

TV5 and WNEM.com has learned about new circumstances surrounding the freezing death of a 93-year-old man from Bay City.

A limiter on Marvin Schur’s electric meter outside of his home is being partially blamed for his death.

Authorities said it was 32 degrees inside Schur’s house when neighbors found his body.

Bay City Electric Light and Power sent Schur a shutoff notice through the mail a few weeks ago. Then crews placed a shutoff notice on his front door.

A few days later, Schur was found by neighbors.

Bay City Electric Light and Power, which is owned by the city, said a limiter was placed on Schur’s electrical line. The device limits the power that reaches a home, and it blows out like a fuse if power consumption rises past a set level.

The manager of Bay City, Robert V. Belleman, said the limiter was tripped sometime between the time of installation and the discovery of the man’s body.

Belleman said city workers keep the limiter on a house for 10 days, then shut off power entirely if the homeowner hasn’t paid utility bills or arranged to do so.

TV5 checked with Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison Tuesday to see if those companies use limiters. They said they do not.

A Consumers spokeswoman said it has never used limiters. DTE said it doesn’t use limiters because the Michigan Public Service Commission discourages use of the devices.

TV5 also found out that Bay City isn’t regulated by the state agency because it’s a municipal company. It has a review board that sets its standards.

Now, according to some, Bay City could be sued as a result of its policy on limiters and the fact that it didn’t personally notify Schur about the device.

This is odd

January 27, 2009

Snellville, GA has had political problems for some time.

It has got so bad a State Senator is getting into the act to try to help.

The dog days of Snellville politics could be numbered — at least in one respect.

State Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) is exploring a change in the city’s charter that would bring an odd-number vote to the Snellville City Council …

In the past year, the six-member council has deadlocked, 3-3, in almost 10 recorded instances on issues ranging from a controversial crematory to meeting adjournments.

Balfour says the deadlock can be averted in three ways: Add a council seat, subtract a council seat or limit the mayor’s vote to instances of a tie.

Such a change to the city’s charter requires legislative approval.

Nothing in Snellville seems to come easy. This might not either.

Good Luck Snellville.

Cool and Calm Police Under Pressure

January 26, 2009

We all expect our police to have the ability to keep their head when all around them are losing theirs.

Well … How about this?

Police were called to a dormitory at East Carolina Universitythree times Tuesday as hundreds of students pelted each other with snow, The Daily Reflector of Greenville reported. The college is in a part of the state which doesn’t get snow often, but a rare storm dropped several inches on campus that day.

Police said some students were getting too aggressive and an officer used pepper spray on a group that rushed officers trying to make an arrest.

Junior Brandon Davis said “it all started in good nature, but then people were throwing them as hard as they could at each other.” Junior Matt Lunchick said an officer chased and arrested a student after being hit in the back with a snowball.

The vigilant press

January 23, 2009

It is no wonder that newspaper subscriptions are plunging.

Yesterday I was talking with our Utilities CEO. He was telling me that he had spent much of the day doing media interviews. Last week they posted  their annual “keep your water running so the pipes don’t freeze notice.” That announcement is not news. Yet…here it is in the Chicago Tribune and is being picked up on the AP wire around the world.

What’s the news angle?

The city has asked its 3,400 water customers to leave at least one faucet open with a small stream until further noticea move that will waste an estimated 4 million gallons of drinking water by spring.

Wasted water …  That is the news angle.

I am not a scientist. In fact I wasn’t that good of a student way back when I was taking science classes.

But I do remember The Water Cycle!


Yes, the water cycle.

If the City of Rice Lake extracts water from ground water storage, runs it through some pipes and returns it to the earth as surface water no water has been wasted … May have slightly played with Mother Earth by moving the water, but no water has been wasted.

End of story.

Ranting about Non-profits … again

January 22, 2009

A few days ago I talked about our former community hospital,  now just  another Marshfield Clinic profit driven money machine .

I can’t blame hospitals for not wanting to pay taxes. Nobody (well practically nobody) like to pay taxes. If I was on their side of the table I would be fighting to keep every ill gotten dime just like they do.

But, just because that is the way it has always been, doesn’t mean that is the way it should always be.

Right Boston?

Boston’s major hospitals could and should play a significant role in easing the city’s budget crisis, according to a new report by an advocacy group finding that the institutions pay only a fraction of the cost of providing police, fire, and other services to the $2.4 billion in property the tax-exempt charities own.

Community Labor United, a coalition of union and activist groups, found that the city’s eight biggest teaching hospitals would have owed $64.2 million in city taxes in 2007 if their land and buildings had been taxed like commercial property. Instead, the hospitals made voluntary payments to the city of just $4 million in 2007, a year when they collectively had profits of more than $750 million.

“They’re not paying their fair share,” said Mary Jo Connelly, director of research for Community Labor United, whose members include a union seeking to organize city hospital workers. “In a time that everyone is sacrificing, it’s time for them to step up and start addressing these shortfalls. We know there are going to be significant layoffs of teachers, police, Fire Department personnel, and that sort of thing. If they paid only 25 percent [of the property tax rate], we could save 115 firefighters” from layoff.