Archive for the ‘human interest’ Category
December 23, 2013
It may seem that I am forever speaking about our local problems with government and its finances. And I must admit that I spend a lot of time researching these facts and figures. Recently I went to several parties and wore my favorite red Christmas tie, “Bah Humbug”.
Also hanging on my office door is a painting of me “The Grinch” done by my daughter. The likeness is remarkable.
However I am forever optimistic and believe that we are turning a corner here in Memphis, Shelby County and the Country. The problems have become so obvious that reasonable people are demanding common sense solutions. We must live within our means and (more…)
November 25, 2013
I Did Not Know I Was Paying For Free Phones Every Month
As I was looking at my phone bill yesterday (it was up from the month before) I noticed that the Federal Universal Service Charge was up from $3.07 to $3.61 cents per month. I decided to investigate and this is what I found.
The Lifeline program began in 1984, an attempt to ensure that America’s poorest had access to landline phone service to call 911, work, or family members. But in 2008, the FCC expanded the service to include mobile phones, and under the Obama administration, as welfare rolls swelled, more people became eligible for a subsidized phone — part of the reason they’re often known as “Obamaphones.” The following article is from National Review and reports on an effort by the state of Georgia to reign in abuse of this program.
By 2012, the cost of the national Lifeline program had risen to $2.189 billion a year, up from $822 million before cell phones were included. In Georgia, after Lifeline expanded from landlines to mobile phones, the number of users shot from 150,000 to almost 1.1 (more…)
November 14, 2013
There was a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last Monday (November 11) that was titled “The Pros and Cons Of Concierge Medicine”. With the looming advent of Obamacare everyone should be looking at options for their future medical care.
Here are some of the points made in the article which describes the features of MedLion clinics of which there are 16 locations in five states. They charge $59 for monthly membership and $10 per visit. The concierge business ranges from high end practices charging thousands of dollars per month for lavish celebrity-style treatment to the other pared down clinics which charge $50 to $100 a month for basic primary-care medicine. Of the estimated 5,500 concierge practices nationwide, two thirds charge less than $135 per month on average.
Unlike high-end concierge practices, the lower cost practices don’t accept insurance. Instead they charge patients directly for (more…)
November 11, 2013
Death of Baby Joseph Saino
My mother was Cecilia Neuhoff from Nashville and she married my father, Felix Saino on September 3, 1925. Their first son was born June 21st 1926 but died at childbirth at St. Joseph hospital. His name was Joseph.
My mother and Dad never talked much about the loss of their first child as the following three Saino boys grew up. Felix was the oldest, then John and then me. Much later in life I was at the history room of the Memphis Central Library and I picked up a book listing deaths in Memphis during the period that my dead brother would have died. I found the listing and was shocked to see that he was named Joseph. Up until then I did not know his first name was the same as myself. My Mother’s beloved brother was named Joseph and that was why her first child was named Joseph. I said that I needed to look up his death certificate and locate his grave site but life got in the way and I never took the time to do that.
Last week Claire and I went to a supper put on by the Descendants of Early Settlers historical society and the speaker was the Shelby County Register (more…)
October 28, 2013
Taxpaying citizens often feel like they are ignored until election time. Then the politicians come out of the woodwork and tell them what a great job they have been doing for them and promise all sorts of solutions to real problems. Then they get reelected and those promises go on the shelf in most cases. The citizens feel frustrated and impotent and don’t know what to do.
Well I know the answer and it is to organize, talk to each other, don’t get discouraged and let the pols know what you want. I want to give you some examples.
In 1994 a petition drive by Citizens Against New Taxes proposed an amendment to the County Charter setting term limits to two consecutive four year terms for the County Mayor and for County Commissioners. The amendment passed with 81% support. Then in 2004 John Lunt and a group of citizens, including myself, instituted a charter commission which resulted in two four year term limits for the Memphis Mayor and the City Council members.
What was the politicians’ reaction to the 1994 amendment to the County Charter. That Charter was enabled by petitions with required signature amounting to 15% of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election. AHA said the politicians. Let’s change that to 15% of registered voters, a much higher and almost impossible bar. That will teach those citizens who want to mess in our business, a lesson. Here is the language in the County Charter with the amendment passed in 1997 at the state level.
[may propose any such amendment by a petition addressed to the board of county
commissioners and containing the full text of the proposed amendment. Any petition
proposing a charter amendment must be filed with the clerk of the board of county
commissioners and must be signed by qualified voters of the county equal in number to
at least 15 percent of the persons who voted in the last gubernatorial election in Shelby
County. The clerk shall immediately deliver it to the county election commission. When
such petitions have been determined sufficient, the county election commission shall
submit same to the voters of the county in accordance with this section.
Editor's note: The Charter, § 5.05C., which states "at least 15 percent of the persons
who voted in the last gubernatorial election" is superseded by the state law, T.C.A. § 2-
5-151(d) which states "at least fifteen percent (15%) of those registered to vote in the
That makes my blood boil. How about you? Let’s let the state Senators and Representatives know we want to go back to the old language for petition signatures.
After the 1994 term limit success, Walter Bailey and two other pols filed suit to overturn term limits and they lost. Unfortunately Walter Bailey sat out and was reelected later. Unfortunately the term limit language did not have the provision of the US XXII amendment which will prevent George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama from being reelected again.
Finally I have attached a shame honor roll showing the longest term USA Senators and Congressmen. What happened to the founders’ intention to serve for a short term and then return home and live, work an earn a living under the laws that they passed rather than becoming a highly paid and corrupt lobbyist insulated from those laws.
Stand up, organize and let your representatives know you are sick of what you see.
October 17, 2013
I have been in contact with a very active group of people in Nashville about common core, school books and material and data collecting. Following is part of a recent email from this Nashville group about a great success they had in reviewing school books and reporting on what is actually in these books. I have recently sent an open records request to the new Shelby County School System requesting access to books, book lists and data collection. I have not yet heard back from them on this request. I will keep you informed on this request. Eventually I will get access to these books, pamphlets, material and data collection. At that point I will need help to review and report as did the Nashville group. It is a big job but are the kids worth it? Please let me know if you are up for the work.
This report came from Dr. J Lee Douglas, Nashville.
This is an anniversary of sorts. I have been at the work of informing the public about local government for nine years. I have created two website, filed seven lawsuits to open records and have had some effect on local government. Here is a short recap of my efforts and results.
You see above a campaign sign from the 2004 effort to elect a charter commission after John Lunt started a campaign to reverse the financially disastrous January 2001 pension resolution that allowed City of Memphis elected and appointed officials to receive a pension after only 12 years of service regardless of age. None of the named people in the above sign were elected. However the result (more…)
October 7, 2013
The Sears Crosstown Project
I am old enough to remember going to the Curb Market in crosstown with my mother and buying a bushel of snap beans for canning. I would have to spend the rest of the day cleaning and preparing them. On many occasions we then went to the Sears Crosstown store. It was huge and impressive. It was built for a certain time and market and whether it paid for itself over time I do not know. Looking at the Sears Company today, you have to wonder about their long term business knowledge. The Sears catalog was the amazon of its day and this store I believe was a catalog sales and warehouse center. Too bad they did not keep up with technology.
Now we have a choice. Tear down the old Sears building or spend at least $175 million to turn it into another Robert Lipscomb non tax producing renovation project. Where is the financial pro forma report on this project? If it is available I would like to see it.
Meanwhile let us look at how this is currently being financed according to a recent CA report.The Crosstown Development team says it has essentially assured $160 million in
funding — $25 million raised privately, $30 million in historic preservation tax credits,
$15 million in new market tax credits, $10 million in grants and other sources, and an
$80 million loan. Add the $15 million requested from the City of Memphis and you have the $175 million supposed front end cost.
- $30 million in historic preservation tax credits. The legislative incentive program to encourage the preservation of “historical buildings”. Congress instituted a two-tier Tax Credit incentive under the 1986 Tax Reform Act. A 20% credit is available for the rehabilitation of historical buildings and a 10% credit is available for non-historic buildings, which were first placed in service before 1936. Benefits are derived from tax credits in the year the property is placed in service, cash flow over 6 years and repurchase options in year six.
- $15 million in new market tax credits. The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program was established in 2000 as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. The goal of the program is to spur revitalization efforts of low-income and impoverished communities across the United States and Territories. The NMTC Program provides tax credit incentives to investors for equity investments in certified Community Development Entities, which invest in low-income communities. The credit equals 39% of the investment paid out (5% in each of the first three years, then 6% in the final four years, for a total of 39%) over seven years (more accurately, six years and one day of the seventh year) . A Community Development Entity must have a primary mission of investing in low-income communities and persons.
If it goes forward, will it throw off tax money to the City of Memphis? If there are new small businesses that rent space or locate in the general area because of new traffic and people who live in the renovated building, I suppose there could be new sales tax money and employment opportunities. However it sounds like most of the occupiers of the space will be non-profits and art enterprises. There will be people living in the building but many of these will be rent subsidized people under section 8 or other federal and state programs. Taxpayers will be funding the whole project funded through these various federal tax credits.
As far as the building is concerned, I think it is ugly and really not worth saving. Possibly the architects can make it beautiful but at what cost compared to tearing it down and doing something else? I would like to see a financial analysis of this proposed project and no decision should go forward without this being presented to the public for discussion.
October 3, 2013
The Unfunded Liability of the United States
Is the shutdown of government a bad thing? What has happened is that 800,000 nonessential employees have been furloughed. Federal agencies have the power to designate their employees’ status in the event of a government shutdown. The last time Congress and President Obama stalemated, in 2011, the administration estimated that 800,000 of the 2.1 million employees in the federal workforce would be furloughed. Now that the there is a stalemate, we will see how it works. If we can get along without the 800,000 nonessential employees it will give us some indication of how much fat and waste there is in government. I have no doubt that these nonessential employees will be rehired and paid but it is a great demonstration of how much is our government overweight.
We have had one federal program after another and each has cost more than the government projected. Starting with social security, then the war on poverty, then medicare, medicaid, food stamps and now Obamacare. Here is the headline from the CA just yesterday. “Shelby County expects big bill to comply with Affordable Care Act”.
We have to face up to the unfunded liability of the federal government as well as our local government. We have not had a federal (more…)
August 2, 2013
Yes, I received this gallant statement from Carlos Danger recently. The possible next mayor of New York is undaunted and unafraid. (I have to have some fun from time to time).
Cyrano Weiner, The Brave Cavalier
What would you have me do? Seek for the patronage of some great man,
And like a creeping vine on a tall tree Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone? Yes thank you! Dedicate, as others do, Pics to hotties? Be a buffoon in the vile hope of teasing out a smile On some cold face? Yes thank you!
Eat a toad for breakfast every morning? Make my knees Callous, and cultivate a supple spine, ~ Wear out my belly groveling in the dust?
Yes thank you!
Scratch the back of any swine That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns
Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right Too proud to know his partners business, Sexts out my pictures? Yes thank you! Use the internet Al Gore gave me to hunt for chicks all day long
Yes thank you!
Publish pics at my contributors Expense? Yes thank you!
Be the patron saint Of a large group of New York voters Who wine together every day? Yes,
I thank you!