December 3, 2008

Truly Uninspired

Posted in my thoughts at 11:24 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

While staying busy with multiple projects lately I find myself truly uninspired when it comes to writing.

As with most things that need done daily the tasks are a lot of rote motion and the brain entertains itself by casting about through multiple subjects.  Sometimes it leads to a list of other things that need to get done and sometimes it gets a chance to think about something that you have been wandering about but haven’t had the time to put any real thought to.

The first is so mundane that you consider a nap.  The second can result in a multiple of actions, inspirations or you just plain decide that you need to think about it some more.

With the election over, the city council set in their path of wants not needs, the same old faces and attitudes being appointed to federal government offices leads one to realize that what is ahead is so predictable that it is boring to think about.

I find myself wondering how long it will take before “change” becomes a 4 letter word.  Predictably not long as the new federal administration continues down the path of market interference, globalism, foreign interventionism, bailouts, uncontrolled spending and socialist mandates.  Continued thinking along this line is not productive since it produces the conditions of depression and apathy.

At this point I would rather be truly uninspired than depressed and apathetic.

Some one start a conversation about something and lets see where it leads.

October 6, 2008

The Fox Is Now In Charge Of The Security For The Henhouse

Posted in my thoughts, The Economy at 5:17 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

If you thought that the bailout is a good thing it is time to reevaluate your notion.  Today Treasury Secretary Paulson designated a former Goldman Sachs executive Neel Kashkari to head the new Office of Financial Stability.  Mr. Kashkari is one of the many Goldman Sachs executives Mr. Paulson has filled the Staff of the Treasury with since taking office.

This says a lot about the way things are going to progress over the next couple of years.  Neither Messieurs Paulson or Kashkari have any understanding of bank regulation, they made their money doing the very same things that got the financial system into the mess they are in.

One has no option but to distrust the credibility of any action these gentlemen take when it comes to the best interest of the people they are sworn to serve.  Not one piece of the legislation passed is in the nation’s best interest.  The only time a homeowner will see a possibility of relief is after a delinquent mortgage is sold to the government.  There is absolutely no provision in the bill that requires the mortgage holder to make any attempt to salvage a loan from foreclosure prior to selling it to the government.  The lack of any such measure will focus the mortgage lenders on sifting through the marginal loans and offering them up to the government to unload them from their balance sheets.

The other glaringly bad proposition in the bailout bill is the provision is section 101 that effectively allows the Treasury to designate any financial institution as a Financial Agent of the Federal Government.

It says:

“Designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Federal Government, and such institutions shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Federal Government as may be required.”

This is so open ended that it allows any nation’s financial institutions holding derivative investments who are not performing to be designated as agents of the Federal Government.

One has to ask just how long it will take China and Japan to start foreclosure on mortgages it holds in these derivatives.

The China Development Bank is the second largest bank in Asia and the largest holder of US mortgage debt instruments and has been told that they will get this designation.

To make matters worse on October 1st Mr. Paulson notified China that 800 Billion AMERO’S were being shipped to China in exchange for $400 Billion worth of the estimated $2.5 Trillion debt they currently hold.

Now one has to ask how can this be acceptable to the Chinese when the AMERO is not even a legal currency.  They had to have some kind of assurance from the government that it will have worth in the near future.

My bet is that once the recession starts to deepen in the not to distant future NAFTA will raise its ugly head again and be used in the next scare tactic to save us from a worthless dollar.  The dollar against the yen has lost 4% of its value recently but has been gaining against the euro over the last several months because the European countries financial institutions are in the same sad sorry state and they started their bailouts over the weekend.

My next bet is that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates again this month.  Doing again the exact same thing that started the problem in the first place.  The only people that will help is the financial institutions swapping money back and forth.

One now has to ask themselves several questions.

Why is this information not being covered in the US news?  Almost all of the information I put together here came from news agencies outside of the US.  Mostly from Europe.

Why should any elected official up for election in November receive a single vote if they voted yes on this bailout package?  That includes Messieurs McCain and Obama.

Why have neither of the presidential candidates spoken out about what is happening now if they do not plan to carry on down the same path?

Why have none of the financial institutions who created this mess been brought under investigation for fraud against their investors?

Why has Congress not removed Treasury Secretary Paulson from office for his apparent display of conflict of interest in handling this matter?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

My hope for this post is that you really start thinking about what is going on around you today.  All is not lost.  There is still room for hope if the Congress can be swayed from their current path.  It will take a concentrated effort from every person to contact their representatives to repeal the bailout resolution as soon as possible.  Representative King is a good place to start.  Be proactive.  Know who owns your mortgage.  Where you make the payment to is not necessarily who owns your mortgage.  If you are under threat of a foreclosure get a lawyer and demand that the activity who filed for the foreclosure actually shows proof that they own the mortgage.  Many do not and cannot present the proof because mortgages have been repackaged and sold into so many different derivatives that they are untraceable.   If you are in trouble with your mortgage do not hesitate to contact the mortgage holder and see if a new deal can be worked out.  If you have a 401k through your employer it is best to have a outside non-partisan evaluation done at the soonest opportunity. If you have a independently established 401k have it evaluated for what you can afford to lose versus what it will cost to close it out.  There is a breaking point that is essential to find if you are planing to retire in the next 3 to 5 years so that the money can be moved to a safer investment.  The cost of oil is dropping so that will take a little pressure off.  Be prepared to see the DJIA drop to as low as 6000.  The NASDAQ to under 1500.  Watch the video called Money As Debt and understand what caused this situation in the first place.

October 2, 2008

Sold Down The River By Senators Grassley And Harkin

Posted in 2008 Elections, my thoughts at 1:03 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

That is right.  Both of our Iowa Senators both voted yes on the bailout this evening.

After talking with both of the senator’s offices this morning and being assured that the senators were very aware of the wishes of their constituents to not support this bill they have turned around and insulted the very being of every Iowan.  According to the young men I talked to this morning calls were running about 200 no to every 1 yes.  That to me is a very clear signal.  Apparently it was not for the Senators.

This is a blatant “nose thumb” to their constituents.  The very people who have allowed them to hold this high office of trust.

That is it for me.  As far as I am concerned Senator Harkin has lost my vote in November.   I will be voting for the other guy.  His name is Christopher Reed.  The only thing I know about him is what his website says and he is not Senator Harkin.

So if a senator cannot take a rather pointed hint as evidently these two can’t.  The only thing left is to vote him out of office.  He does not deserve to hold the office any longer not does he deserve to represent the people of Iowa.

This should not be forgotten when Senator Grassley’s term is up either.

There is absolutely no excuse for this.

Representatives Braley and King deserve a phone call telling them to stay the course and continue to vote no.

Senators McCain and Obama both voted yes also.  If this does not tell you that they do not deserve your vote I do not know what else to say to you.

December 21, 2007

Stump For Your Candidate

Posted in 2008 Elections, my thoughts at 11:47 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone. 

With 14 days to the Iowa Caucus to pick the nominees for the Republican and Democratic Presidential Race here is your chance to stump for your candidate.  

I don’t know about you but I have made up my mind on this issue.  

After looking at all the candidates and their platforms I find that the majority don’t have  platforms they have pricetags.  They are pandering to different ideological, racial and religious groups, each with their own separate agendas, identities and special interests.  They have a litany of sound bites but no substance to support them.  Just looking at the pricetags to some of these panderings is enough to make me realize that they have no intention to make any real changes in the current governmental trends. 

In my mind to many people have bought into the mindset that the federal government knows how to fix societal problems.  If you look at recent history the federal government has a very poor track record.  Looking at FEMA’s handling of recent natural disasters, the Federal Reserve and its attempts to bail out financial institutions who deserve to fail for their bad business practices and the recent pushes for a National ID Card and ID-CHIP is enough to tell me that there is no reason to believe anyone who supports these actions. 

Based on everything I have learned about the candidates I can only support Ron Paul.  I can find no fault in his voting record.  His ability to speak to the heart of a problem even when his view is not popular or recognized tells me he has courage and integrity.  He has never accepted a donation from any special interest group.  His campaign has raised enough money to qualify for federal matching funds yet he did not accept them.  Do I agree with everything he says? No, but I do think he has the best interest of this country as his primary reason for seeking the candidacy and I just do not get that feeling from the rest of the pack.

Listen to what others have to say about Ron Paul at Ron Paul Revolution Radio.

So here is your chance to try and make me change my mind if you feel your candidate is a better choice.  

November 23, 2007

Let’s Talk Government

Posted in my thoughts at 1:39 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Under the CCC post we started talking about taxes, entitlements and grants and the sources of revenue that fund different programs.  Along with the need to start contacting politicians to let them know how we, as individuals, feel about topics that are being discussed in government and the direction we see they are taking in these different areas. 

This is a very broad and far-reaching topic that can go just about anywhere because you cannot talk about governement without talking about money.  The other unavoidable topic that has to go hand in hand is history.  Without understanding the history of government and money today’s problems are inexplicable. 

There is a lot of misconception about how a government funds itself, establishes and makes apportionments, entitlements and generally operates.  Add to that the tendency to gain and hold power to dictate over the manner of use of government funds as a life long career. 

So, I am going to make a couple of broad statements here and we will see where the discussion goes. 

As always these are my thoughts in these statements and mine alone.

The majority of democrats and republicans have bought into the notion that democracy means socialism under a totalitarian rule without even realilizing it.  Their voting records support this notion since government has expanded exponentially since the Carter Administration in entitlement programs under both parties.  This morphing of democracy to the centralized control and regulation of our lives is happening because we allow it.  The majority of voters have bought into the same notion of entitlement.

Since 1996 every dollar paid in income tax goes directly to make interest payments against the national debt.  Not one penny goes to paying for the current years budget.  How did that happen?  For the exact same reason.  The majority of voters have bought into the notion that entitlements are good and how can they get their share because “they are free, aren’t they”.  They are not and never have been. 

This continued expansion of entitlement programs has bankrupted the country.  We are a deficit nation by all standards of definition.  The economy is controlled by so many central government regulations US company’s are losing the ability to compete worldwide.  Government attempts to regulate the economy through tightening and loosening credit causes bust and boom cycles.  The loose credit, boom cycle, is the cause of inflation which deflates the value of money affecting spending power.  The tightening of credit, bust cycle, accomplishes the same thing because when there is little ability to acquire additional funds to meet existing payments acquired during boom cycles causing unemployment and bankruptsy.  Whether it is a company, mortgage, vehicle or any other article or activity.

Just how the hell did we got to this point in our experiment in democracy anyway?  I have some thoughts on that but it will have to wait for another time. 

Okay, I admit these are macro statements and we live in a micro town.  Take offense or not to them.  So pick a place to start and we will see where it goes.      

  

November 3, 2007

My Thoughts On The Council Race

Posted in my thoughts at 10:30 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone.

If I have said it once I have said it a hundred times.  It is time to look around the community and vote for the person you believe has the best interest of the community at heart.  Someone who you believe is capable of independent thinking.  Who believes that the “will of the people” is the only reason they are there in the first place.  Someone who considers it a privilege to serve, not a right to do whatever they want because they want it and now have the power to influence getting it.  A person who understands that the reason they are sitting in those chairs is because the people placed their trust in them to do what is right and in the best interest of the whole community, not just a few.

That means that we are not constrained to choose from only the announced candidates.  We have the right to vote for anyone who is 18 years or older and a resident of Stuart since those are the only prerequisites for the position. 

Looking back on the last 14 months that I have attended and observed council meetings I have come to the conclusion that someone who wants the office has either no idea what they are getting into, has an agenda they want furthered, are already aligned with sitting members to further their existing agendas or both of the last two.  That conclusion bothers me to no end.   No matter how I look at the overall situation I have been unable to draw a different conclusion.

Even after receiving a phone call last night when I learned Mick Askren has announced that he is a write-in candidate for city council.  I have a hard time reconciling his motives at this point after the way the petition was handled and the use of spite by voting for the trail as a way to get back at the “will of the people”.  That just does not inspire me to place my faith there any longer. 

None of the announced candidates have bothered to tell the community where they stand on the issues currently under consideration by the council.  Nor have they given any indication of what they see as priorities the council still needs to address.  That in itself tells me they are not independent thinkers and my conclusion is correct. 

I think that this election is more important than many people realize.  Its results set the stage for council actions for the next two years.  But more importantly the next election in two years when the mayor and 3 seats are on the ballot.  If you really want the current status quo to begin to change it has to start now by electing two voices of reason, intelligence and backbone while keeping in mind that past performance is the true indicator of future actions.

It all still boils down to the “will of the people”.  I believe that anyone who is elected, announced candidate or not, should be there for that reason alone.  Because it is the “will of the people” who have placed their faith in them to do what is right and in the best interest of the whole community.  

I have been asked why I didn’t run for a seat on the council and I stated that I really did not want my name associated with the actions of some members of the current council.    

That does not mean that I would reject the “will of the people”.  I would be proud to serve if that were to happen.    

      

September 17, 2007

My Thoughts On the Special Meeting

Posted in my thoughts at 11:27 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone.

About Part 1 of the Meeting.

A couple of things caught my attention during this part of the meeting. 

The first was that we were listening to the sellers opinion not an independant evaluation.  Especially when Mr. Olsen said they were not hard numbers for him but Mr. Williams was confident he could do what was needed with that amount.

Next was when Messeurs Crawford and Askren showed less than an objective view of the evaluation by speaking for the owners plan without having a independant evaluation or hard numbers for a new building.  This theme carried through the entire meeting and at times Mayor Marks and Mr. Beldon joined in.

About Part 2 of the Meeting.

During this part of the meeting they made their first attempts to determine what space was actually needed to accomodate the different city activities.  My first thought was they are finally doing what the ADA Committee was formed to do in July which was to develop recommendations to the council on how to solve the ADA requirements.  Upon reflection I fear that the only reason they had this part of the meeting was to be able to say that they looked at this part of the equation.  If you remember the ADA Committee has had two meetings since July.  The first was when they locked onto going with the Masonic Temple and the second was to look at Mr. Sloan’s information, take a quess at what space they would need and update the other committee members on the council meeting discussion.  They have yet to have the current buildings evaluated, they are not waiting for the grant evaluation to determine the actual space needs for the library and they continued to try and cram everthing into the Masonic Temple.

I was not impressed with Mr. Ashour’s flip answer of needing twice the space they have now.  There was no justification or reasoning provided other than the meeting room would be twice the size it is now. 

Messeurs Waddell and Sherman were the only council members who did not seem to have a preconceived opinion on the discussion.  They asked direct questions and stated their opinions is a reasoned fashion.

About Part 3 of the Meeting.

The most apparent problem I saw with this part of the meeting was the way Mayor Marks and Messeurs Crawford and Askren glossed over the concern expressed by Mr. Aldrich and Mr. Sloan on the interference of the building owner and his architech during their efforts to gather the information requested by the council.  The impression I got from the discussion is that when the city did nothing to resolve the conflict, Messeurs Aldrich and Sloan withdrew and will not be providing any further information unless asked to review Mr. Olsen’s numbers.  To me that shows that Mayor Marks and Messeurs Crawford and Askren are not interested in getting an impartial evaluation of the building.  In the end Mr. Askren insisted that they have Mr. Aldrich find a new architech to develop plans and costs for a new building and no provisions were made for an independant evaluation of the Masonic Temple or the existing buildings.

The other problem I have with the discussion was that they are still asking for costs on a new building without having reasoned, firm numbers on square feet for each activity.      

About Part 4 of the Meeting.

I support the CCC wholeheartedly.  It is the best idea going right now for economic development.  I can see the potential benefits to the community without even thinking hard about it.  

What concerns me is that the CCC has been given short shift by the city for a year now and the impression I got was that the only reason they are behind it now is because they have locked onto the Masonic Temple and there is no provisions for any meeting/council room there.  Without the CCC they are stuck under that option. 

The next concern I see is that by putting the CCC to a vote before figuring out what the real numbers are for the city needs they are setting them up to fail.  As much as I support the project I doubt that I can convince myself to vote to go forward without knowing how all these projects are going to effect the property tax rate.   That is called blowback and is usually an unintended consequence of other actions or lack thereof. 

The same can be said for the Aquatic Center.  At $1.2 M the Aquatic Center is no small amount and once the numbers are in on the city needs the minimum amount total for all three projects is $4.2 M using the Masonic Temple number of $1.3 M and the CCC number of $1.7 M.

Since they say they want to pay everything off in 10 years the minumum annual payment at 10% will be $420 K plus the interest and other fees associated with the notes.  The city collects around $398 K now in property taxes and uses it to fund city operations.  That tells alot about where this spending is heading.  If all these measures pass the tax rates will have to more than double to maintain services at their current levels and handle the payments.

The last update made by the Aquatic Center Committee reported that the pool still has an estimated 10 years of useable life before requiring replacement.  The council just dissed the voters by not allowing the bath house to be put to a vote which adds another $550 K to the total affecting tax rates.  Pushing for the Aquatic Center now because it is ready to go is a sure tell that it will be payed by another general obligation, annual appropriation bond instead of fundraising and TIF as promised. 

It all goes back to having a prioritized plan of action for what they want to accomplish, putting good hard numbers to the plan and then making decisions based on what is best for the community based on those numbers.  I am just not seeing any headway in this direction and that makes me very leary of their intentions.                     

August 29, 2007

My Thoughts on the Architech Study Discussion

Posted in my thoughts at 2:39 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone. 

It became apparent to me very early in the discussion that Mr. Sloan had not been given a clear scope of what the city council wanted.  When it got to the point where he very nicely told them they didn’t know what they were doing and needed to figure a few things out before they went any further the only council member who barely caught on was Mr. Waddell.

There was absolutely nothing accomplished during this discussion other having another person point out that they had no plan, no idea about what they really needed to do or how much money thay had to do it with.

There was no discussion on whether the existing buildings could or should be modified for ADA compliance.  They never even had them evaluated.  Nothing on, if we build new, what options where available for location.  Or even, what will we do with the existing buildings when vacated.

These were all things that the ADA Compliance Committee was suppose to get together and study.  Have they done that?  No.  They had one meeting a couple of months ago and latched onto a single plan and stopped doing anything else.  There has never been another meeting. 

The council has given the Community Cultural Center the run around for a year now.  The one project that promised a real economic development opportunity in the community  requested their help.  Now at the last minute they decide that maybe they should do this.  There is not enough time to make sure they do it right at this point and if they screw it up the city will be stuck.       

Annual Appropriation Bonds were mentioned again.  Now I am sure that they have their uses but the easy way I hear them being thrown about causes me concern.  Under Annual Appropriation Bonds only the amount of the annual payment counts against bond capacity where under a General Obligation Bond the entire amount counts against bond capacity.  It is real easy to over spend when you do not keep a eye on exactly how much you are really spending.   The next thing you know you do not have enough money in the General Fund to make all the different payments each year.  If the city defaults on a payment because they have over obligated there is no going back.

All in all I saw no appreciable change in the council’s way of doing business.  There is no excuse for them refusing to use reason and forethought to put together a plan that addresses the needs of the city in a rational, timely manner.  They just don’t want to be bothered.    

       

August 23, 2007

Council Tactics At Their Worst, Again!

Posted in my thoughts at 11:15 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

As always these are my thoughts and mine alone. 

I fear the same cannot be said about young Mr. Coe’s supposed Letter to the Editor published in Wednesday’s Stuart Herald.  While the letter does contain a couple of typical “Tyler type” comments, on the whole a more distinct style prevails. 

It is clear that the intent of the letter is to discredit the petition, its signers and myself.  What it clearly doesn’t want you to know is that the petiton succeeded on two important points.

First, the Bond Attorny DID NOT allow the use of TIF monies for the construction of the Bath House.  This is key because TIF is a obligation of future tax money that would directly effect property tax rates.  See “The Controversy” post to refresh your memory.

Second, it stopped the council’s use of a General Obligation Bond to fund $400,000 of the $550,000 Bath House Project.  General Obligation Bonds directly effect property tax rates also.  If you remember the Bath House Project was promised to be paid by fundraising and LOSST monies.  Neither of which effect property tax. 

Yet when the city was informed that there was not enough money in the earmarked LOSST portion to fund the entire project and they were denied TIF usage did they bother to come back and say they were changing the financing structure?  Did they make any attempt to explain why the change was necessary?  Did they explore any other financing options?  Nope, they just threw a legal notice for the general obligation bond in the paper hoping no one would catch on.

So how did the petition succeed on these two points if there is so much wrong with it?  Quite simply the legal opinion of the bond attorney.  That legal opinion gave them 3 options and they had to choose one.   This was all covered in “The Controvery” post.  

Once that legal opinion was received on Monday the 13th, prior to the regular council meeting, all their actions were nothing more than a blatant attempt to discredit the petiton and harrass its signers.  These continued attempts show their true character and nature.     

The letter goes on to say that “the city council is aggressively seeking options on whether to build a new city hall and library or relocate both of the entities to an already standing structure in town”.  Just how aggressive is one committee meeting with no public notice of the agenda and location, with no published minutes, that latched onto a plan to have one existing structure evaluated for suitability?  You decide.  There is only one existing building in town that has the capacity necessary to house both the city hall and library.    Yet they insist on keeping the location secret because it might cost them more if the word gets out.  I don’t buy that excuse at all.  It is just another attempt to hide their actions from the public and everyone knows the building in question.

As for the mentioning of the walking trail and its repeated attempt to convince people that only phase 1 will be implemented I am not fooled.  The grants for the other phases are already written and waiting to be submitted by Mr. Tiernan as soon as the city builds phase 1.  This was stated during discussion at a regular council meeting from the very begining.  If you remember the Council changed their tactics to emphasizing only phase 1 after being bombarded by resident complaints when the actual trail route was published in a previous blog post.  Their plan has not changed they just want you to forget about it until it is to late to stop it.

The one item I found in this letter that truely offends me is “Next time a petition rolls around about city matters, I urge you to contact a city council member, the mayor or the city adminitrator.”  Just exactly when did Stuart, Iowa suspend the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  This encouragment to run and turn in our neighbors for exercising their constitutional rights is beyond pale.  The last time these tactics were used was in Nazi Germany.  Whoevers words these are, our education system has failed miserably and their arrogance knows no bounds.          

   

  

August 15, 2007

About The Trail

Posted in my thoughts at 4:39 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

On the matter of the trail project the city received approval to use TIF money to fund the trail.  There are no provisions under that type of bond to allow the petition any standing. 

The petiton was dismissed as irrelevant.  No consideration was given to those who signed.

The outcome was determined before the public hearing started.  In a pique of anger from being challenged about the bath house funding all 5 councilmen voted to approve the trail.

Amazingly enough we do not have enough money to make all the street repairs this year but $92,000+ of your future tax money is to be spent on phase 1 of the trail.  More on street repairs later. 

You decide whether the council has your best interest at heart or not.

The Controversy

Posted in my thoughts at 11:15 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Everything I am about to say on the bath house and trail projects is directly related to city council actions only.  

The efforts of the Aquatic Center Committee should be recognized and applauded for their tireless efforts in fundraising.  To date on the bath house portion of the project they have raised $9,905.92 with an additional pledge from the City Utilities of $10,000.  Rose Acres has also pledged $5,000 per year for three years.  On the Aquatic Center portion of the project they have $134,599.18 pledged from supporters of which they have received $64,682.52.  Guthrie County approved a grant for $1,000 and the USDA CIPCO has promised the $300,000 zero interest loan. 

On Friday August 10th, I submitted to the Clerk of the City a Petition signed by just over one hundred registered voters which stated these 3 principal beliefs.  

1.  The undersigned residents of Stuart, Iowa 50250 hereby petition and request consideration is given that they do not recognize the proposed walking/bike trail and bath house project as qualifing under the Stuart Urban Renewal/Economic Development Plan for use of Tax Increment Funding (TIF) monies.

2.  The undersigned residents further petition that these or any other projects be tabled and left unfunded until such time that the ADA Compliance Issues and City Infrastructure Upgrade Issues are researched and a workable strategic City Maintenance and Upgrade Plan with associated funding timeline is developed and approved.  These petitioners recognize these primary issues of ADA accessibility, streets, water treatment facilities, sidewalks, sanitary sewers, water lines and storm drains as priorities to support the continued economic development of the city.

3.  The undersigned residents further petition that the signatures affixed qualify in number to support and initiate reverse referendum bylaws as outlined in Iowa Code 384.24A.4.b.(2).

The first two beliefs are self explainitory,  the third requires the bath house to be placed on the ballot in November to allow the citizens of Stuart to vote on whether or not the city should fund the bathhouse with a NOT TO EXCEED $400,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND. 

Now you should remember that when the bath house project was originally proposed and presented to the public that LOSST monies were to pay for the project.  And because the pool sits in Adair County only the Adair protion of the LOSST monies was placed on resolution to fund the project.  Using the LOSST monies does not affect you property tax rate which was the reason a resolution was made 2 years ago to hold that money specifically for funding the bath house.  

After 4 different requests for bids on the project over the last two years showed that under the current blueprints for the bath house it cannot be built for less that $550,000.  The council was then told at the July city council meeting that in order to fund the project they had 3 options:  They were:

1.  Update the Stuart Urban Renewal Plan to include the entire city and submit letters from all the businesses in town stating that they believe the project will directly increase their business to see if the bond attorney would approve the use of TIF.  

2.  Fund the entire project with General Obligation Bonds and since it exceeds the $400,000 threshold put the decision on the ballot in November for a majority of 60% yes vote to proceed.

3.  Pay down the project to just under $400,000 and proceed with the Not To Exceed $400,000 General Obligation Bond.  They were then told by the Ruan Securities representative that this option is open to reverse referendum.  Reverse referendum meaning a petition of 10% of the registered voters can compel the bond election anyway.

At no time during this july meeting did the council consider that they should go back to the public and explain why they were now going to change the way the project would be funded or how it would effect their property taxes.  Nor did they consider that maybe it was time to look at a different more cost effective design.     

Of course they jumped on the first option. 

After the july meeting I realized that the city council would do everything in its power to convince the bond attorney the project would qualify for TIF and failing that, to avoid placing the issue on a ballot.

After doing some research I proposed a petition to to the bond attorney to show there were enough citizens concerned about the cost and financing of the bathhouse and if there really was the level of support for the trail project that its sponsers proclaimed. 

On August 2d, the Stuart Herald publishes two legal notices concerning the bath house.  One for a NOT TO EXCEED $550,000 LOSST REVENUE BOND and one for NOT TO EXCEED $400,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION CAPITAL LOAN BOND.  As expected this told me that the council was trying to avoid a bond election on the bath house and intended to use the general obligation bond to fund the majority of the project with out going back to the public and explaining what the problem was.      

In a relatively short time the petition had enough signatures to show that the trail support was not there and qualified under the reverse referendun code on the bath house.

On August 5th, I emailed the bond attorney a copy of the petition and a letter asking him to consider not approving the use of TIF monies for both projects.

On August 10th, I submitted the petition to the Clerk of The City. 

During monday nights public hearing for the bath house I reiterated that by trying to avoid the bond election it told me two things. 

1. They could not justify in their own minds that spending $550,000  on a bath house used 3 and 1/2 months a year was prudent.

2.  That they had no confidence that they could convince 60% of the public to support the spending of $550,000 on a building that is used 3 1/2 months a year using general obligation bonds which effect their property taxes when all along they were told LOSST money would be used.

I also repeated the question that has been asked several times why they are pushing forward with this project when the other infrastructure needs have not been addressed.

Needless to say the city council is not happy.

There is a special meeting tonight 7 PM.  stuart-city-counci81507.doc

The next segment is about the petition and the trail project.

August 11, 2007

Harry Potter Made Me Do It!

Posted in my thoughts at 11:00 am by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Well as much as any one of the books I read this week his was the longest.  So he won the toss up for my lack of attention to the blog this week.   It was a nice break from blog tending that I needed. 

Apparently so did everyone else since there were only a couple of comments submitted all week.

I did tune in and watch The Good Egg Gazette’s on-going discussion about the School Bond issue.  It appears that there is beginning to be some suggestions tossed out for consideration.  I wonder if the school board will come out with anything different this November? 

For all of you who can’t get enough of comic books The Sci Fi Channel started a new series based on the comic book character Flash Gordon last night.  

Does it seem to you that TNT, Sci Fi, Lifetime and the USA channel have better series shows to watch that the big 4?  Then there is alway Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery channels to find something interesting on.

The Federal Reserve is throwing money into the banking system to the tune of 24 billion thursday and 38 billion friday to help overcome the ill effects of a spreading credit crunch.  That caused the Europeans to pump $130 billion into their financial system.  The mortgage default rate is skyrocketing and causing massive liquidity problems across all  financial institutions.  This can’t be good.  If the default rate continues and these loans become due but unpayable it seems to me that the problem will just become larger.  This is cranking up to be a very ugly situation.  

July 25, 2007

What’s With All The Eggs?

Posted in my thoughts at 3:06 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

That’s right eggs. 

Last week the Police Station and a patrol car got egged.  Today I go to lunch and hear that the City Hall and Morrisons car lot got egged last night.  That’s right folks we have a stinker running around town throwing eggs.

All kidding aside, I have to wonder if this is just another symptom of what a shallow hold the current police situation has on the overall security and protection of citizens and property.  Now don’t go crazy on me here because I am not saying it is any one persons’ fault.  One person did not put the police department in their current situation.  It took the city council to do that.  

Without the benefit of having any current police statistics to look at it is hard to quantify the current situation.  There have been no monthly police statistics submitted to the City Council since December 2006.  I have to wonder if the City Council will care now that City Hall has egg on its face, so to speak.

July 19, 2007

My Thoughts On The Monday Night Meeting

Posted in my thoughts at 11:43 pm by thevoicesofstuart

By Peggy Schlichter

Why are they so afraid of a referendum? 

The simple answer is that they know their priorities are skewed, and if asked, the citizens will not approve these expenses at this time.    

So let’s look at where the city stands on projects right now and the implacations of carring forward with skewed priorities.   

We need a new bath house.  That is a given.  But do we need the current configuration and price tag for a facility that is used 4 months out of the year? 

The current configuration price tag is $500,000. for the bath house.  

This will be the anchor building for a proposed aquatic center that had a estimated price tag of $1.3 to $1.6 million depending on the option chosen.  Included in that total was an estimated price tag of $400,000. for the bath house.  So under the current situation the new total cost for the aquatic center is now $1.4 to $1.7 million. 

Fundraising so far has raised $90,000. which is really 2 years of L.O.S.T monies being saved by the city to help fund the aquatic center.  No other amount has been mentioned to date on the results from other fundraising efforts.

The $300,000. USDA zero interest loan is only accessible if the entire project is funded. 

Funding the entire project is not an option at this time because of other city needs being forced on them.  (Their words, not mine.)

So what are the other “city needs” being forced on them.  

Please keep in mind that the current available bonding capacity of the city is just under $4 million.  And that a new city hall is the only project currently recognized by the bonding attorney as qualifing for Urban Renewal/Economic Development TIF monies.  Not a trail or bath house or any of the other current proposed projects.  Additioinally any TIF monies used count against bond capacity limits.  Using a Annual Appropriation Provision on TIF and General Obligation Bonds is a option available to help limit the amount included in figuring the available bond capacity each year.  Under that provision the only amount that counts against bond capacity is the portion being paid each year.  The downside to that provision is that it is easy to over obligate the city’s ability to meet all bond payments annually by mistaking the available bond capacity and over borrowing.  If that happens and the city cannot make its annual bond payments it will be forced to unincorporate and return to township status.  While the upside gives the benefit of stretching the bond capacity.  While this option is legal it requires caution in its use.    

The city has been given 90 days to come up with “a plan” to address the remedy of ADA Compliance Issues to the satisfaction of the DOJ.  This plan will require actual implementation this time so a good portion of bonding capacity will be used.  At this time the committee has had one meeting.  They have asked Forrest Aldrich to look at the Masonic Temple and evaluate it.  No other evaluations were requested.  Until such time that the committee does more evaluations and recieves estimates for other options the funding requirement is unknown.  If new facilites are built the price tag could run somewhere in the $2.5 to $5 million range by the time you figure the different configurations/options possible and decide on the best solution, temporary relocation costs, demolition, construction and other fees.  This is the worst case scenario but is best used for planning purposes until better info is obtained.  The upside to this is that we would have new facilities allowing every citizen access to city govenment and community services everyday.  The downside is that the price tag will seriously reduce our available bond capacity for other infastructure needs.  Serious research and discussion is a must to develop a workable plan that will not wipe out the bond capacity, satisfy ADA compliance and allow for other infastructure needs.  This type of consideration is what I need to see to gain confidence in the councils ability to effectively steer the city. 

What are the other current city needs not being discussed or planned for at this time:  sewer/storm drain upgrades, extensions, repairs,  street and sidewalk improvements, repairs, and  water line replacements, to name a few.

What other current projects are in the process of being funded at this time:  

The reconstruction of 3 blocks of N. Division Street with a price tag of $575,000. which was unplanned or budgeted for but is a bonafide need. 

A Walking/Bike Trail with a estimated price tag of $100,000. for phase one with intent to go directly to phase two with a estimated price tag of $140,000 which is a nice to have item.  The project is being done in asphalt and no estimates or provisions for annual maintainence have been programed.

Then there are the projects that are still being paid off.  While I have not done a lot of research on this the total is only 12% of our bonding capacity which does not endanger the ability to really make some much needed changes in infrastructure.

All in all, these considerations require a concerted effort to develop a workable plan.  Disturbingly I have not seen effort in this direction.

Why is that?