Posts Tagged ‘texas’

ACC on the Agenda.

1. March 2011

The Arts of Collin County project is finally on the Frisco City Council agenda tonight. In light of this, I’m going to repost links to my old posts about it in the hope that it might change someone’s mind. This project is a bad idea, y’all, and here’s why:

Arts of Collin County.

On the Poor Timing of the ACC.

These two take on both its idealogical failings and fiscal perils. Please read them, pass them on and come out in support of getting the ACC added to the ballot so that the citizens who are going to have to pay for it have a chance to vote on it.


On the Poor Timing of the ACC.

5. January 2011

It’s really a sad thing that we still have to be talking about this, but there are still people in Frisco and the surrounding communities that believe that the ACC is a valid use of increasingly scarce municipal funds. In addition to the multitudes of other reasons why it’s a bad idea, I’ve found a new one.

Municipal bonds (muni bonds or munis hereafter) used to be a rather predictable market. They were always considered a safe bet, almost as safe as treasuries, because the municipalities had the power to raise taxes to get money to pay for the bonds of necessary. The bonds would pay a slightly lower yield than Treasurys, but it was okay, because the income was tax exempt.

Recently, however, a flood of munis has hit the market. Perceived risk has increased, driving muni yields up. For instance, today, the 30-year muni rate is 4.9%. The 30-year Treasury rate is 4.25%. This goes against everything that is ever taught in a class about bonds. The perceived risk of the two securities are almost exactly the same, but their tax-exempt status makes munis more attractive, drives up demand and drives down yields.

However, there has been a series of uncertainties in the continuation of the tax-exempt status of the muni bond and the municipalities’ ability to pay, driving yields up. Which is great if you’re an investor. Not so great if you’re the borrower. The President’s deficit reduction panel came out with a plan that called for the removal of the tax-exemption of the muni bond, throwing expectations off and ridding the market of stability.

Because of the increase in interest rates, it is a bad time to sell the bonds for the ACC. It’s simply more expensive to finance any project, but it is especially outrageous to attempt to justify selling these bonds at these rates for an unnecessary project like the ACC.

Obviously, it is just as expensive to finance the ACC as it is to finance a project like Fire Station 7. However, as most members of the Frisco City Council and the fire chief expressed last night, that is a necessary project. It is crucial for keeping the city’s ISO rating at a 1, which affects the homeowner’s insurance rates for everyone in the city, aside from the obvious benefits of faster emergency response times. Additionally, that project may not require the sale of bonds, making it all the better a choice for the City of Frisco’s funds.

The ACC is becoming more and more expensive to build, a trend which shows no signs of stopping. It’s time for even the staunchest of AC supporters to rethink their position.

Arts of Collin County.

1. June 2010

Today, after weeks of debate about the Arts of Collin County project, the City Attorney announced that the petition filed by the Frisco Tea Party to introduce a referendum to allow voters to decide whether or not to release the rest of the bonds was invalid. Apparently, the Frisco Tea Party didn’t file the petition correctly.

It seems that the only way for the bonds to be stopped is for the council introduce the measure themselves. As it stands, there are three members who would support the measure and three who wouldn’t. However, place four is up for grabs and if John Keating wins that seat, the measure stands a good chance of being introduced.

It’s not that I have anything against the arts and such. I played the trumpet for five years and enjoy creating the occasional piece of art. But at this time, it is not a good idea to spend additional funds that the city already doesn’t have to build a nonessential building which is predicted to run deficits forever. If the project can be redesigned so that it’s shown to be solvent, I’m all for it.

The economic climate is such that no one needs to be spending more than is absolutely necessary. The Arts of Collin County project, while surely culturally enriching is not necessary. The argument has recently even made in favor the the ACC that construction costs are much lower because the economy has tanked. However, it is not enough to make up for the fact that McKinney has dropped out of the project, costing the other three parties approximately nineteen million dollars.

If this project was really as popular as its proponents make it out to be, allowing the public to re-vote on releasing the bonds would only serve to show how important it is to the people of this city. If, on the other hand, the people really want to postpone the project until the economy recovers, allowing them to vote on the measure is the right thing to do.

If you are for a fiscally responsible municipal government and lower taxes, you simply cannot support the progression of the Arts of Collin County project at this time. Allowing the people of the city to vote on releasing the rest of the bonds is the right thing to do.

Frisco City Council Elections.

21. April 2010

This post is mostly for residents of Frisco, Texas. If you don’t live there, feel free to disregard this post. If you  don’t live there and still want to read this, more power to you.

As evidenced by the barrage of election signs on the sides of Dallas Parkway, there is  citywide election coming up on 8 May in Frisco. Elections for Places 2 and 4 will be decided along with some other propositions which can be found in detail here. Though many believe local elections to be useless, I’d like to make an appeal to you to look at the candidates and propositions and make a decision, and more importantly, go vote on 8 May. If you’re not eighteen, pester your parents to go vote. First, I’d like to educate you on the Arts of Collin County project because it plays a crucial role in this election. Below that, I’ll make my endorsements for candidates and votes on the propositions.

Disclaimer: John Keating lives on my street at home. This has not affected my decision in the race for Place 4 in any way.

Arts of Collin County Project
The ACC project was originally introduced to the Frisco citizens on a ballot in 2002, and it passed. However, since the 2002 vote, the story has changed.  Originally, it was a 4-city project between Frisco, Allen, Plano and McKinney.  A few years ago, McKinney put it up for vote and McKinney’s citizens said no.  Now, it’s a 3-city project.  Our city leaders explicitly said they would never support the project if all cities didn’t move forward together.  Also, the projected cost has increased almost three times since 2002.

Now that McKinney has backed out, the project funding is $19 million short, and the other three cities are expected to pick up the slack, because our Mayor and some of the councilmen want to go ahead and sell the bonds necessary to start in on this project, going back on the promise they made to abandon the project if one of the other cities backed out.

Place 2: Jeff Cheney

I’m endorsing Jeff Cheney, the incumbent, for Place 2. He’s campaigning on a platform of economic development and tourism. He’s a fiscal conservative and wants to raise revenue by taxing tourists rather than residents. He’s also one of the current councilmen against the Arts of Collin County project, a position which neither of his opponents can boast.

Place 4: John Keating

John Keating is a small business owner in Frisco who’s campaigning on a platform of lower taxes and is against the ACC. He differs very little from the incumbent, David Prince. However, David Prince is specifically interested in stopping a supposed drug problem in Frisco, which I believe is a waste of city resources and should take a backseat to real issues of fiscal policy (or really, it’s an issue that needs to get out of the car entirely).

Proposition One: Yes

This one’s pretty simple; it’s a cleaning-up of our city charter. No reason not to get rid of obsolete provisions and correct bad grammar!

Proposition Two: Yes

This one is also pretty simple. Do you want our city elections to conform to state and federal elections laws? I do.

Proposition Three: Yes

This proposition concerns term-limits, of which I am an ardent opponent. A basic tenet of democracy is the selection of one’s politicians. Why establish term limits? You, the voter, are the term limit. If a councilman breaks his promises, vote him out. If he does what he said he’d do during the campaign and his ideas are good, why limit him to two terms? Pat Fallon is an excellent example of this. I worked on his campaign for a short while and believe that he will be reelected until he decides to stop running. He has consistently voted in the interests of the taxpayers and is good for the city. Why should I be forced to pick someone else if he’s still the best man for the job? This being said, apparently there are already term limits. This proposition lets councilmen and mayors serve three consecutive terms rather than two, so it gets a yes from me.

Proposition Four: No

This one concerns the appointment of the City Secretary. Currently, the Council appoints the Secretary, but under this proposition, the City Manager would receive this power. I’m for spreading the power around to as many people as possible when it comes to appointments. I’m sure that our current City Manager, George Purefoy, is a good man, but I’d rather as many elected officials be involved in appointments as possible. This would decrease the likelihood of corruption or collusion in the government.

Proposition Five: Yes

This proposition lets the council hold one meeting a month for two months of the year. Fewer meetings means less money spent. If there’s a real pressing issue, they can call another meeting.

Proposition Six: Yes

The number of affirmative votes on an issue would be counted against the total number of votes, not just the number of votes present and voting at that meeting. Everyone’s represented this way.

Proposition Seven: Yes

Giving and receiving gifts concerning city employees. This one essentially tries to set out rules concerning this issue.

Proposition Eight: Yes

If you want to run for City Council, you have to be eighteen. I think this is fair, considering that you have to be eighteen to vote.

Proposition Nine: Yes

This clarifies the number of signatures one must receive on a ballot petition to say that it must be at least thirty percent of the number of people that voted in the last mayoral election.

Proposition Ten: No

For the most part, I don’t disagree with this, except for the process. This proposition concerns the Planning and Zoning Commission, namely in structure and such. It’s asking for permission to adopt rules about term limits, appointment and other operational matters through an ordinance. I’d rather people be able to vote on this, especially since zoning is going to be important as Frisco continues to grow.

Proposition Eleven: No

This proposition would prohibit the sale of liquor in residential districts. It’s stupid and useless and rings of the moral high-horse attitude found in Prohibition-era America. Restricting the locations in which alcohol may be sold will do little to curb any sort of drinking problems the residents of Frisco may have.

Proposition Twelve: Yes

This one’s another charter-cleaning proposition.

Proposition Thirteen: Yes

This one clarifies that city employees must only abstain form participating in Mayoral and Council campaigns, not campaigns for other city spots.

Proposition Fourteen: Yes

Clarification of city-employee gift rules. Clarifications are good; they generally allow people to make better-informed choices.

I hope that this helps you make your decisions about the upcoming elections. Please go out and vote, regardless of the candidate for whom you choose to vote.

CPAC: Day Two

20. February 2010

Today was my “slow day” at CPAC. There were fewer speakers that I wanted to see today, but the one panel discussion I desperately wanted to catch was about the relationship between liberty and security. The panelists were Rep. Dan Lungren, Robert Ash, Jim Gilmore, Bob Barr and Viet Dinh. The range of opinions represented was quite broad; from a Republican developer of the USA PATRIOT Act to, well, Bob Barr.

As of late, I’ve been having trouble reconciling my foreign policy views with all of my other views. Specifically, though I believe ultimately in freedom and liberty for all, I also tend to be more of a traditional Republican regarding war, national defense and terrorism. I had hoped that someone on this panel would present some strong arguments. Unfortunately, each “side” presented good arguments in support of its conclusion.

My problem is that I find the hands-off, anti-war position adopted by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) unrealistic and rather naïve, though I understand that he’s one to stand in the face of armageddon and stick by his principles. I also find the USA PATRIOT Act, “it’s a matter of national security” secrecy of the pro-war Republicans as seen in the last administration can, in the wrong hands, be tyrannical. It is exactly this that I fear and wish to avoid with a smaller government.

Last night, at his Campaign for Liberty address, Rep. Paul expressed his opinion that Osama bin Laden wants the United States to send more troops because he can use that as a recruiting tool. Whatever the truth value of this claim may be, I find it hard to believe that very many young men would be willing to strap bombs on their backs and try to kill people just because of the presence of American soldiers in their country. I believe that the reasons that would do that have more to do with a misinterpretation (or, perhaps a selective interpretation) of their religious text.

In contrast, though I am not a terrorist, I don’t want the government listening in on my telephone calls without having secured a warrant. In the panel discussion today, Mr. Gilmore said that he believed that subjecting warrantless wiretapping to judicial review was a valid move. I find that I must agree. I would consider that to be an invasion of my privacy, and if abortion is upheld in the court by means of an argument in favor of privacy, surely a phone conversation between two citizens can be also. Regardless, if one is suspected of plotting against this nation and its residents, it should be relatively easy to obtain a warrant.

I suppose that strictly hypothetically, my foreign policy views are just as libertarian as the rest of my views. In a perfect world, no one would want to kill me because I’m an American. They would realize how unproductive that is. However, realistically, I am more conservative than libertarian. Specifically regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, I would like to wipe out Al Qaeda and get the hell out of there. Let’s complete our mission and get the American forces out. Leave NATO peacekeeping forces in there to help ensure stability, but even then only a minimal number should be present. And after that, let’s see if we can stick to a relatively warless future. Let’s simply carry the bigger stick (with an emphasis on defensive weaponry) so that we don’t have to use it.

As Bob Barr said today at the panel discussion, “In order to protect, preserve and defend, we must limit the government.” The USA PATRIOT Act and all other similar pieces of legislation do not limit the government, they expand it and expand its powers. If we simply bring the government into uniformity with the Constitution, we’ll all have a lot less to worry about.

If you want to look at my pictures from the panel discussion and other events at CPAC today, you can go to my Flickr page.