Outlier21st

Did Windsor Heights, Des Moines improperly advocate for sales tax?

Apr 13, 2018

And when the city manager participates in a 1300-participant phone call urging Yes?

If a city council member (Chris Coleman) participates in a promotional call telling people to vote yes, that is an elected official urging support for his goal. When the city manager of Des Moines participates in the same call, that is the City saying Vote Yes. Maybe it is legal, but to me, that was inappropriate.

Urban blight….a photo essay

Mar 05, 2018

Is the City responsible for the renovations of these homes?

I have lived in several cities. I have seen tax credits used to move existing businesses in the name of urban redevelopment and blight removal. Yet, the properties that have been vacated for decades, shutters banging in the wind, home to rats and larger creatures are left untouched. The housing types are different from these homes and the apartment complexes now reshaping SE 6th, yet the concept is the same. The vacant buildings are ignored and the open land and land beneath existing businesses are being built upon. This is not an example of how useful the sales tax would be; it is an example of how poorly prioritized the city government is.

Why I support the local option sales tax

Mar 02, 2018

Two different issues

The councilman approaches his argument as proponents of other tax initiatives have done in recent years. Two of those initiatives, by the way, are being promoted in the poll testing survey for County Supervisor Mauro that Bleeding Heartland provided information about in another post.

The first question is if there is a need for more revenue. Several opponents of Ballot Measure A are arguing Des Moines, at least, has sufficient tax money but spends it unwisely. The second question is if there is more need for revenue, is a one-cent sales tax the best way to raise it.

The Polk County Courthouse vote that passed, one of the Mauro bragging points, was a clear example of this two-questions argument. Proponents were saying we needed a new courthouse so vote for whatever we put before you. Opponents were not necessarily saying they did not agree something was needed to be done, but they did not think the plan was the best that could be devised.

There are many things I could say both about the persistent attempt to get the sales tax revenue, the proposal for how the money would be used, and if it is needed, but I do not have time or space to get into those discussions here. I will say, though, I want to run far away every time I hear the argument Polk County should pass the tax because almost everybody else has it. Isn’t that the same ideology that we should be giving massive tax credits or breaks to bring in development, because if we don’t somebody else will?

We are not the ones we were waiting for

Oct 09, 2017

Take a Deep Breath

I read Laura Hubka’s post several times. I still do not find anything that can be used for a basis to find a solution. Was there not something good in all those years of involvement that she could share for others to act upon? I also would like to know what she considers a party should be. I can tell you what gives me hope. It is the occasional candidate/elected official who still believes in listening to the citizens and who can respectfully disagree with parts of the state and national platforms while embracing the general theme.

There are many specific points in Ms. Hubka’s post to which I could offer supporting examples or countering argument. For example, tech-savvy does not mean the same as effective communication. Similarly, knowing by-laws does not mean the same as being able to manage people. I would also add that before Hillary-Bernie there was Hillary-Barack. I find it significant that Ms. Hubka said she wanted to be part of something “big.” She does not provide anything concrete that she expected, just stars in the eyes and dreams in the hearts.

Ms. Hubka, let’s say Democrats regain the Iowa and/or U.S. Senate in 2018, or take back the governor’s office. What would you like to see them accomplish by 2020?

Union-backed candidates win many Iowa school board seats

Sep 14, 2017

What I would liked to have heard

I would have been encouraged by a candidate who said something such as, “My purpose for running is to provide a solid education for our youth. Focused teachers and other staff are an important part achieving that goal. I understand the new legislation curtailing collective bargaining is discouraging many of our teachers. I will work with the unions to be sure our schools’ staff remain pleased to be serving our students.”

Union-backed candidates win many Iowa school board seats

Sep 13, 2017

Unions or Schools?

When a candidate is endorsed by numerous unions, it gives me pause. Certainly staff should be involved in decisions regarding schools in that it is their jobs. Certainly the actions of the legislatures this year deserve strong union reaction. But, schools exist to prepare young people to become engaged, productive, and capable contributors to society as they age. How teachers got treated seemed to be more important in the campaigns, though. For this election, nobody I talked with had anything to say about the candidates, so I went back to notes I made four years ago. Then, I could find nothing of note about what the candidates felt schools should be. My observations also noted the questions asked of candidates did not seem suited to finding out the core beliefs of the candidates. Questions were better this year, but the answers I caught were all platitudes and very little, if anything, of substance. Government uses schools to deliver a plethora of programs because that is where the children are. But those programs do not really reflect what schools should be, and the candidates in Des Moines historically do not seem to know what schools should be either – except all encompassing, greatly funded, and offering good jobs at good wages. I voted, but I did not come away feeling positive for the future of students.

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