Saturday, April 09, 2005

Plus one

The incompetence of the King County Elections division keeps growing, one ballot at a time. Last week they found 93 previously uncounted ballots. Just yesterday, one more surfaced.

I am going to go ahead and make the obvious prediction: Inductive reasoning* says that there will be more, oh yes, there will be more.

*I was corrected by Banks when I originally said this was deductive rather than inductive reasoning. I have a knack for mixing those details up. My apologies to my philospher friend.

Friday, April 08, 2005

I tip my forty to your memory…

Today John Paul II was laid to rest in a beautiful ceremony. Up until now I have refrained from joining in the chorus of blogging about the Pope’s passing. However, today I feel it is appropriate to blog my respects to the late Pope.

Having Irish heritage (no, really), we have a benediction; the Old Irish Blessing that I think is a fitting farewell to a great man:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

This is a good week for the church. We have been able to reflect upon the life work of a saint who now enjoys the sweetest of rewards for his dedication to the will of God. The Pope said it best when he breathed his last, “Amen.”

Thursday, April 07, 2005

You’re right; the ’04 Election hasn’t been boondoggled enough

Council Chairman Larry Phillips, D-Seattle, said it would be ‘premature’ to call for Logan’s resignation.” Seattle Times, April 5, 2005

Porn star mustaches, escaped ballots and bad elections management, oh my!

King County should fire Dean Logan. You’ve heard that one before. But now, Ron Sims should really, really fire him. It is safe to say that King County probably has the poorest election management in the country. I echo Slade Gorton on that.

Just yesterday, the KC Elections division found another 93 ballots. Are you kidding me? Even after election officials found 83 ballots just lying around after the first recount in November, and after they found scores more here and there they are still finding more ballots? I am beginning to wonder if they have counted any at all?

It would behoove Logan and his clan to ensure that all those mistakes were corrected in a timely manner – before the election was finalized and the “winner” took office. To find another 93 ballots when the election was only won by 129 votes is beyond incompetence, it is…it is…words escape me.

Republicans are right to demand a Federal investigation of the election. It is obvious that King County has not earned the trust of its constituents. It is only appropriate that a third party mitigate this bunk.

We are beyond partisanship now. This isn’t a matter between democrats and Republican (and Ruth Bennett). We have surpassed that; it is now an ethical issue – a matter of right and wrong.

Sims has said that he stands behind Dean Logan telling
King 5 News that he hired Logan to overhaul the county’s election system. However, there should come a point where the County must concede that Logan has not done enough to ensure that elections have been efficient enough. KC Elections have not improved under his watch. Finding 93 ballots 5 months later is not an improvement. The question is, how many ballots will it take?

The Office: Yeah, we’ve all worked there

Here’s a shameless plug: Hands down the best new show on television isn’t another reality piece of garbage. No The Donald, no skanky biznitches in hot tub scenes, no cast feuds. Though all that has been quite amusing in the last 5 years, it’s now grown trite and old.

Quite possibly the funniest thing since
Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office is the TV’s best new comedy and proves you don’t have to have a bunch of no-talent-ass-clowns to provide your boob-tube entertainment.

Steve Carrel (formerly of the Daily Show) is a work of comedic genius. Check it out Tuesdays at 9:30 on NBC.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

What's left? A Time-Out?

“Seattle police restrict Taser use” – headline, Seattle PI, April 4

It’s the taxes, stupid!

Democrats in the Senate, as well as the current governor have proposed significant increases in taxes for the coming biennium. This week, the House is also expected to release its proposed budget where tax increases are expected to mirror the Senate’s proposals.

While Washingtonians await the final verdict on what taxes new taxes they will pay, they should keep in mind that the legislature has already passed roughly a half billion dollars in taxes and fees already this session. When calculating your tax increase, be sure to add this figure to the likely $400+ million to take effect in the new revenue package.

Here’s the breakdown on what has been approved by the House thus far:

HB1031: A B&O tax on gambling businesses; a 0.13% B&O tax increase = $763,000

HB 1314 Marriage and divorce fee: A $10 fee on Marriage Licenses and Divorce Petitions =
$1.35 Million

HB 1386 Historical documents fee: A $3 recording fee increase = $10.68 Million

HB1484 Local property tax for schools: 75 cents per $1,000 = $443 Million increase if all counties imposed. (This figure is low because it’s based on 2004 Home Assessments, not 2005)

HB 1631 Property tax: 3.75 cents per $1,000 – proposed tax increase = $50.77 Million if all counties imposed - For Conservation Futures

HB 2085 Waste tire cleanup: A $1 fee per tire = $7.58 Million

HB 2163 Ending Homelessness: A $10 recording fee surcharge = $27.24 Million

HB 2259 Utility Tax: Water-sewer districts 6 percent utility tax –

Total new taxes so far = $539 Million!

Clearly taxpayers have been misled. Overall, Democratic leadership in Olympia has been disappointing at best. The current governor went against her campaign pledge to not raise taxes in the first biennium (blogged about
here) and House and Senate democrats have reversed reforms enacted two years ago (like unemployment insurance, found here), placing further strains on our frail economy. Such policies are the equivalent to beating up a kid in a wheelchair on the playground.

I have long thought that raising taxes to pay for over spending is an uncreative way to increase revenue to the government. Instead we should be looking to relieve the tax burden on our state economy to encourage spending.

One of Washington’s greatest revenue tools is our sales tax. Encouraging people to spend the money they have will bring far more back into the state General Fund that lackluster tax hikes.

If we were to cut property tax, and decrease the amount of fees we impose, Washingtonians would have far more capital. I hope to be married soon. Anyone who has been through the wedding process knows that a wedding is an expensive event. With current fees and surcharges imposed on marriage licenses, newlyweds will now pay $50 to get hitched. Lawmakers also want to tax items not previously taxed, (insurance and warranties). These are all costs associated with marriage as well. If we were to cut those fees, I would have far more money to spend on things like boutonni√®res, a new pair of cufflinks, champagne for a toast, and on and on and on…

We need to cut taxes, encourage consumerism, stay the course, Thousand Points of Light, stay the course…

*Utility Tax Increase (HB 2259) has not been determined and is not reflected in the $539 million tax increase figure. Actual increase can be seen on your utility bill.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cease Fire! End the Spanish-American War

Today I was surprised to learn that I am still financing a war we fought over 100 years ago.

In 1898 Congress enacted an excise tax on telephone service to help finance the Spanish-American War. Now, five generations later, Americans are still paying for that war. Today our phone bill includes a 3% Federal telecommunications tax – the same tax imposed to pay for our war with the Spaniards.

Peter J. Ferrara of
Americans for Tax Reform writes:

The telephone excise tax imposes a total burden on the public of $5-$6 billion per year. It is one part of the oppressive overall tax burden, which costs the average family more than food, clothing, and shelter combined. Taxes overall take 40% of national income, which is far too high. There is no justification for the telephone tax and it should be repealed, as part of a broader, overall tax reduction program.

The late President Ronald Reagan couldn’t have been more right when he said, “There is no such thing as a temporary government program.”

Monday, April 04, 2005

Governator meets Gipper

"No one has ever raised taxes and solved the problem, nor will we solve the problem. We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem."
Gov. Arnold Schwazenegger

If I didn’t know any better I’d swear the Governator plagiarized Ronald Reagan on that one. I’d like to see someone provide me evidence that disproves this. Even the current governor of Washington has admitted that her new taxes don’t solve our problem, they just band-aid it.

“I don’t like it,” she [Gregoire] said. “It’s not sustainable. It’s what’s wrong with the budget in the state of Washington.” Christine Gregoire, Seattle Times, 3/21/05

There is a $2.2 billion deficit predicted for the coming biennium. The budget shortfall is only created by the assumption that we must spend at the same rate we always have. The state’s proposed spending is far higher than projected revenue.

If we would limit our spending for this biennium, we would have enough tax revenue to increase spending by $1.6 billion and fix our budget woes in the process.

The key to fixing the states budget is not the death tax, and it’s not in sin taxes. The legislature needs to curb spending to fit within our budget. This means that state employees and teachers may have to wait a year for a much deserved pay raise. It means we may have to wait until the next cycle to purchase new vehicles for the state motor pool, or hold off on enacting one more health care mandate that could drive up insurance premiums to the state by as much as 10%.

The Dems don’t really want to fix our budget problems in this state. If they did, we would quite spending.