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Sunday, May 19, 2013

SPENDING HOUNDS PART 2





The running of the assembly spending hounds continues...

If you haven't read the post before this one you might want to start there then proceed below. If you did read part one and picked yourself off the floor and have been so patiently waiting for part 2 after much teeth gnashing here you go. 

After you might want to wander over in the side of the blog and read a page we are calling..QUESTIONS WE WOULD LIKE THE BOROUGH ASSEMBLY TO ANSWER. If we get any coherent answers (unlikely) from the assembly we will add them. The plan is to keep adding a dialog we SHOULD be having as a borough. 

So now...ta da ..Part 2 of the adventures so far of your borough assembly spending hounds with the borough checkbook and savings...


Assembly spending hound Arvin is still at the wheel with his hound foot firmly on the gas driving to his vision of a free market solution for the future which seems to include fewer borough employees and that less pesky public transparency.  He scoffs at the suggestion that replacing three temporary positions in the IT department with one full time employee will save money for the borough in training investments and costly turn over as those trained move on to higher paid and more secure private sector jobs through the revolving borough door.

After all a “temporary employee” surely provides a more controllable expendable workforce right?

Spending hound Arvin does allow a stop to add a new position for a full time emergency management coordinator. Does he think anyone can be found to handle even a small portion of the emergencies this assembly is creating? Or is the attraction that part of the job has to do with timber?  He also allows the hound car to roll slowly so the spending hounds can move a “financial analyst” position under management administration.

Is it possible with this assembly anyone can really work under management and not through some assembly members?


The ceremonial mayor hound has found his way out of the manure field and is now chasing the spending assembly hound car but he keeps spinning his own wheels on the loose gravel on the side of the road and losing track of the car. He has annoyed some of the spending hounds by letting his favorite hounds run amuck and not stay on the hunt. He also has his eye on a brand new shiny Pt. Mackenzie town site and like the joker in the jack in the box; he pops up and down now and again to make sure the assembly spending hounds are sprinkling taxpayer cash along the unimproved road for its development. 

Assembly spending hound Colligan who now glows red with a computer screen tan is leaning further and further out of the assembly spending car. He is jumping in and out of the car asking to throw the borough spending ball again and again. He is sure he is right around the corner from a spending signal. He seems to forget much of the time where it ended up the last time it was thrown. He is just sure if they keep building his empire doghouse in the technology yard they will all be able to get out of the car and run through a field of daisies. The IT department director is becoming his best friend. His spending hound eyes have changed to dollar signs thinking of how if the bulk of taxpayer funds are directed from other departments, the hounds can succeed in changing some part of how the borough is managed without having to debate the merits of the reorganization.

Spending assembly hound Woods has realized he is out of the yard and is full of glee because he thinks they are headed to a coal mine being planned close to Palmer. He is sure there are money bones for him and his old hound friends and family under all that coal dust. In fact he seems anxious to roll in its toxic brew of arsenic, mercury, metals and seems unafraid of any lethal health threats like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. His generation didn't depend on any science and data. Facts are so inconvenient and he doesn’t really understand them anyhow. 

Spending assembly hound Halter even though he has managed to acquire some pretty nice money bones for his own yard isn’t done with the ride. He is gaining support from the other hounds desperate for their own kennel upgrades. He has found the magic of putting more than you need in the trunk of the spending hound car trunk so it appears that he is actually giving something up when trading for things for his hound yard. He has also convinced the other hounds to stop the car long enough to task the borough manager and the hired mad "forensic scientist budget analyst " hound (who again was phoning it in for the whole meeting and spoke for about 10 seconds total) to each bring a list of $3 million "uncommitted" capital dollars in the borough coffers to the next meeting. He is hoping there are enough money bones to fill his part even if it also flows into other hounds' parts of the trunk.


Spending assembly hound Colver gets his hound collar out of the door long enough to jump out and lift his leg on some bushes and pace around with his frustration several times. Hound Colver is increasingly getting his feelings hurt by the ceremonial mayor hound that does not seem to recognize his importance and need to hear his own bark to bloviate and pontificate about using his process of "Colvinating" to get it right. He is impatient to see how much money can be saved for his more things for his own empire annex doghouses that will be ready for occupancy some day. He is afraid he won’t be able to stash enough taxpayer funds in hiding places in the yard to dig up later for projects that allow him to keep his powers and reward his barking buddies. He is successful in pushing off some big decisions to the next meeting when both the manager and clerk will be absent and his tales will be threatened with less truth.

Spending assembly hound Salmon got out a growl to say “We hired a manager to manage the borough. It’s his job. My job is to set policy”. His next bark gets $70,000 of taxpayer money to count the cars and people that might help his fellow KABATA board members dispute that pesky audit the legislators believed. Hound Salmon wants you to believe that a shiny new demographic study will benefit the borough but says nothing about his own benefits as a Realtor if the math is believed. This spending hound hopes the car won’t stop long enough for the people to bother to read about the moment in time around 2000 when he was borough mayor. The time when big plans for a ferry were hatched that now floats in the waters far away and requires big borough taxpayer checks monthly for its room and board. He also hopes the magical thinking he played a part in that sold acres and acres of borough land for less than market value for the big profit of some will not be remembered. That money was then and now is the time for deals for the deal makers.

Assembly hound Keogh, sitting on the curb, inhaling toxins from the spending hound car, is still guarding the people's house.  The line to admire and pet him is stopping traffic because people that own the house know he is the only one staying around to stand guard. The ceremonial mayor hound tries to ignore Keogh by not acknowledging his barks to participate in the debate. Spending hound Colver is especially irritated at Keogh for his attempt to cut some money out of the assembly budget that might be used for trips to Juneau. Spending hound Colver has successfully had his picture taken and posted on the front page of the borough website with governor candidate Walker. His dreams of a run for Lt Governor make him giddy. Spending hound Colver is particularly irritated that hound Keogh would try to dig where he is placing funds for his later projects.  Like the wise hound he is, Keogh ignores this and continues his plans to protect the people's house.



To say the ceremonial mayor has pretty much no control of these meetings is not a stretch. He might as well stay longer on vacation buying breeding stock. Discussion on amendments and motions on the table are being blurred out of recognition as assembly spending hounds are allowed to jump from one sacred cow to another. Maybe the cow part has the mayor distracted.


WHO PAYS?



Of the $120 million dollars placed in borough coffers this year $82 million is property tax dollars. Dollars that have been flying out of the window of the assembly spending hound car like confetti. The hounds continue down the road of throwing the least amount they can to the the critical needs in a growing borough with a land mass the size of Scotland and miles of roads that make goat trails look like freeways. Growing populations need services from a borough assembly with an insatiable appetite for mega projects and truly not much more. Where is there room in a budget for services? Oh and why we are on the subject we are up to about $9 million dollars in lost revenue from all the "property exemptions" the state mandates and then doesn't reimburse the borough for. Along with the still uncalculated loss of revenue coming to the borough from this assembly giving big business a go free pass on anything under $1 million dollars in inventory with a plan to do away with it altogether which is probably why there is nothing but huffing and puffing being done to calculate or enforce it. The city of Anchorage must be laughing all the way to the bank as they collect on business inventory of anything over $20,000 which brings the city millions. 

WHAT WILL THERE BE ROOM IN THE BUDGET FOR?


It’s what the assembly hounds would like to call “economic development”.  Based on what we have seen and read and what history serves up, we prefer to call it “wishes and hopes” planned by a herd of unicorns drunk on power rainbows and paid for by property owners. Small property owners not the ones with acres of land and prime borough property they got during the last raid of borough assets.

The spending hounds much like the neighborhood dog that never has a hope of catching the passing car seem unlikely as ever to reach consensus on a 2014 borough budget that chooses service to the people that live in the valley instead of serving up profits to business. The economic director has become shamelessly the Great Dane that is able to sit like a Chihuahua on some assembly spending hound laps licking their faces and is paid handsomely to do their bidding in the community.

Press releases are carefully worded to sound almost like the thieves are doing you a favor cleaning out your house in the middle of the day while you’re at work. No doubt a limited borough staff makes  good productions that sell big business in the borough but do they really portray what is going on here? Are they attracting the right type of business to the borough that will care about a long term commitment and investment and not just a lack of regulation and oversight that allows them to make a quick profit and leave?

ARE WE THERE YET?


Are the spending hounds done with the budget meal that was served them and now ready to move on to transformation into spending buzzards that pick off all the meat available and leave the borough piggy bank carcass in the ditch?  Several of the spending hounds are convinced there is still some unspent money from borough projects left buried in the yard and they are relentlessly digging with questions and threats.

Yes the assembly spending hound car took a pretty wild ride at the last meeting but it elected to stop to refuel (no energy saving vehicle for this pack) so it can roll again next Wednesday May 22nd and possibly even the next day before it eventually bounces off the curb and is ready for the next ride with taxpayer funds.  Heck there could be a deal being made to sell the whole borough off to some investor in China brewing behind closed doors. 

At this rate the budget should be ready to sign off on sometime before you start your Christmas shopping. 


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