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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Who Will I Get To Sue?

h/t http://www.odfl.com/index.shtml

Old Dominion, a well-known U.S. freight company, is being forced to re-instate a driver WHO SELF-REPORTED THAT ABUSES ALCOHOL!

Again, the Federal Government is forcing Old Dominion to put a drunk on the road.

Honestly, I thought about a lede for this story for about five minutes, but I just can’t improve on this press release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

“Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., a trucking company with a service center in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law by discriminating against at least one truck driver because of self-reported alcohol abuse, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit.

“The company should have met its legal obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) while assuring safety, rather than permanently sidelining self-reporting drivers, the EEOC contended.”

So let me break it down for you: while most folks think of the disabled as someone like a war veteran who is confined to a wheelchair because they sacrificed one or more limbs for their country, it also includes drunken yahoos careening down the interstate in an 18-wheeler.

That’s right, alcoholism is a recognized disability under the ADA and disability discrimination is against the law.

“The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace. Old Dominion’s policy and practice of never returning an employee who self-reports an alcohol problem to a driving position violates that law,” said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOC’s Memphis district office.

“While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA,” Kores said.

The suit seeks monetary relief, reinstatement to a driving position, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination. Audrey Hudson

This, again, is government regulation gone wild.  Not only has Old Dominion incurred the cost of dealing with the EEOC, they will be forced to pay higher insurance rates and see more litigation when this guy actually kills somebody while driving drunk.

And, all those costs are passed along to you and me… …Taxation By Regulation.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Bureaucrat, Free Market

 

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Kinder Must Go?

On 8/26/11, The Missouri Record (MR) blog published a post entitled “Kinder Must Go”.

The assertion is intially based on the claim by a Penthouse Pet, stripper, and pantless bar waitress that Peter Kinder behaved inappropriately.  Like millions of American males, Kinder frequented a strip club, and now, he finds himself involved in a he-said/she-said situation.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, a GOP supporter and major donor tells Politico that he (the donor) is so principled and supportive of the Republican Party, that if Kinder runs for governor, he will support Jay Nixon who belongs to and supports the party that defends the murder of a million unborn humans per year.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, according to the MR post, Politico reports that the Missouri State GOP may pull support for Kinder.  The Missouri State GOP denies the claim by Politico.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

The Missouri Record reports that Kinder’s campaign sees a Left Wing Rag Magazine pumping an unsubstantiated story from a Penthouse Pet, stripper, and pantless bar waitress as a Democrat ploy to distract from the failed record of the current Democrat Governor.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Without citing any poll, we read that Kinder “was never in danger of actually defeating Governor Nixon”

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Then, we must be concerned that, a few days before the election, the opposition might run ads that lie about Kinder as a Republican Gubernatorial Candidate.

So, based on that, Kinder Must Go.

Of course he must go.  He must martyr himself as a politician and take the “opportunity to write his own political epilogue.”  He should take all the accomplishments of his political career, put them on a tombstone, and retire into anonymity.

h/t tombstonebuilder.com

Uh. No.

Just like we’ve been expected to take Barack Obama at his word that he is a Christian (despite all the evidence to the contrary), we better damn well be ready to take Peter Kinder at his word.  Kinder is not accused of nor has had to admit anything illegal like smoking pot or using cocaine — unlike our President.

And, Kinder is not the subject of a Missouri Auditor law suit.  The Missouri (yes Republican) Auditor has filed suit against Governor Nixon for illegally reducing expenditures where he glaringly REDUCED BUDGETS FOR REPUBLICANS BUT NOT DEMOCRATS!

Kinder was twice audited by Democrat Missouri Auditors with no findings of fault, and when later accused of travel improprieties, he made immediate restitution at the mere air of such a concern.

Nixon, as soon as he was inaugurated, put the keibosh on the Matt Blunt E-Mail Scandal after using it as campaign fodder to get elected.  Blunt and co-accused Ed Martin were more than ready to have the details aired out, but Nixon closed the investigation.

Although he said, “I think I have a record over 25 years that’s supported workers, that’s supported individual rights, that clearly believes strongly in the rights … of minorities,” Jay Nixon has been mute as Peter Kinder fought to stop the undermining of Missourian’s individual rights under Obamacare and hasn’t said word one about the travesty that is the TSA attack on our 4th amendment rights.

Jay Nixon has now called a special legislative session (costing taxpayers thousands) to push the Aerotropolis boondoggle that will reward donors with taxpayer money in a outrageous example of crony capitalism.

Nixon ignored the opportunity to capitalize on the exodus of businesses from Illinois after their massive Income Tax increases while Governors from Indiana and Wisconsin courted businesses and individuals to consider their states for planting new roots.

Nixon rejected legislation that would have required many voters to display government-issued photo identification when they cast ballots.

And, Nixon ‘led from behind’ by allowing the abortion restrictions to go into effect without his signature.  Certainly more restrictions on abortions are necessary, but such an issue should be led by the Governor — not an “it’s in my pocket” approval.

Certainly Kinder, with the record below (highlighted by the Missouri Record), would never be able to mount a successful challenge in light of the above…

Kinder, in the partial birth abortion bill of 1997, he worked to override the governor’s veto.
Kinder was also instrumental in passing Missouri’s concealed-carry law.
Kinder’s lawsuit in opposition to the President’s health care reform has been joined by officials in dozens of states.
And most importantly, Kinder has worked successfully to bridge the urban/rural divide in Missouri politics

Pack it in Peter Kinder; you must “Go”

The Missouri Record may be right; I may be wrong. But, to call for Kinder to take a dive is, likely, putting the knock-out before the punch.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Abortion, Election, Health Care

 

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Jason Crowell: A Special Session Has Been Called

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

(Read Part 1 Here)

(Read Part 2 Here)

(Read Part 3 Here)

A special session has been called for the special interests starting Tuesday, September 6th, 2011.  The General Assembly usually meets January through May, but for extraordinary reasons, the Governor or General Assembly can call itself into session to pass what it deems as legislation that cannot wait until January.  In this case, September’s special session is nothing more than an effort to get right with fat cat campaign contributors at your expense, the Missouri taxpayer.  We cannot rebuild levees in Southeast Missouri or make farmers whole who lost everything in this year’s flood, but the politicians in Jefferson City want you to send $360 million in Aerotropolis tax credits to St. Louis.  There is literally something in the Governor’s special session call for every special interest, but nothing for the Missourians who have lost everything due to recent disasters across our state.

Senate and House Leadership spent the month of July in a backroom in St. Louis cutting a deal that is short on economic development, short on tax credit reform, but long on government handouts to special interests, creating a larger budget deficit that prevents us from funding priorities like education.  And Governor Nixon has yielded to this deal, endorsed it, and is doing his part to see to it that this September will be the “Special Interests First, Taxpayers Last” month by authorizing a special session to:

  • Give $360 million to developers for Aerotropolis with no taxpayer protections to get their money back if Aerotropolis does not create the jobs promised;
  • Exempt the construction of Data Centers from paying state and local sales taxes on utilities, machinery, and equipment;
  • Provide $10 million dollars a year to attract a billion dollar sports industry to host events in Missouri;
  • Reward those who avoided paying their taxes by giving amnesty to their wrongdoing; and
  • Take money from the poor and disabled via the Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief at $55.8 million a year or $847.5 million over 15 years to pay for these new giveaways.

This deal that Senate and House Leadership cut behind closed doors, in a non-transparent inside job, and is now being pushed to be passed in special session, must not be allowed to pass.  Let me be clear, there is a path to do right by the Missouri taxpayer and I will fight to amend Leaderships’ bill to this end.  But if we are to succeed, it will take you demanding that the Jefferson City politicians put you first instead of their campaign donors.  It is my hope that together we are successful.

In this series we have been discussing the possibility of this special session, what is wrong with Leaderships’ back-room deal, what special interest provisions must be eliminated, and how we move forward with an economic development bill that puts Missouri first, not connected special interests and lobbyists.  There are several issues at play; the past few weeks we have discussed Aerotropolis tax credits, Historic Preservation tax credits and Low Income Housing tax credits.  As the special session approaches, we will continue to discuss all of these issues and the changes that must be made to Leaderships’ back-room deal.  You will probably learn more then you want to know, but it is vital that you know what is going on with your hard-earned tax dollars in Jefferson City.

To understand Leaderships’ bill, we must look at the smoke and mirror savings House and Senate Leadership are claiming in their bill.  To be able to give to their campaign contributing developers, they take the money from the Senior Citizen Property Tax Credit.  Known as Circuit Breaker Property tax relief, this tax credit gives certain senior citizens and disabled individuals who rent a $750-a-year credit when they file their taxes.  In 2011, Missouri gave out $55.8 million dollars in this tax credit to individuals who rented their homes.  Over the next 15 years, budget experts expect Missouri to spend $847.5 million for the Circuit Breaker tax credit for renters.  Leaderships’ bill ends this tax credit.

In my opinion, it does not make sense to give $55.8 million a year in property tax relief to people who do not pay property tax.  But it is even more ridiculous to give this money to developers in new tax credits while Missouri has failed to fully fund the foundation formula in 2012 by $177 million for K -12 education.  This is why Leaderships’ bill that gives the “savings” from ending the Circuit Breaker tax credit for renters to campaign contributors through Aerotropolis tax credits, Low Income Housing tax credits, and Historic Preservation tax credits is absurd and must not be allowed.

I believe now is the time to make fundamental positive reforms to Missouri’s tax credits system to protect taxpayers’ money.  We should subject awarding tax credits to a transparent process, where your representatives will have the chance to look at all the things we spend your tax dollars on and prioritize accordingly.  In Missouri, the method by which we set Missouri’s priorities is through the appropriation process.  Here we ask each of the state’s expenses to stand in line before your representatives in the General Assembly; requiring them to demonstrate why, with limited resources, they should be funded over others.  By making tax credits subject to the appropriations process, all state expenditures would now stand in line and prevent them from playing favorites by allowing those who receive tax credits to cut to the front of the appropriations line.

Now is the time for government to live within its means, not spend money it does not have by authorizing giveaway tax credits not tied to performance.  Together we have an opportunity to do right by the Missouri taxpayer but it will take you, the bosses of the politicians, to demand the right legislation is passed in this special session.  This can be done by taking back our state government and holding Senate and House Leadership accountable; shining a bright light on the problems with their back-room deal and watching them scatter like cockroaches from their current position.  Again, I need your help holding these politicians accountable.  They are counting on your silence.  I will continue in the coming weeks to examine further the issues and changes needed for a “Taxpayer First Special Session.”

To your humble blogger, it seems that fodder more apropos of a Special Legislative Session would be the termination of Missouri’s Income Tax in favor of a Consumption Tax.  Corporations don’t pay taxes anyway, so let’s move on from the hidden Corporate Tax to an equitable Consumption Tax that can help grow Missouri’s economic base.

h/t senate.mo.gov

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Government Waste, Taxes

 

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All Global Climate Change Models Will Have To Change

There was an unreported MAJOR event in the climate corruption conundrum this week.

An experiment at CERN called CLOUD proved that cosmic rays, whose entrance into our atmosphere are controlled by the sun’s heliosphere, DO indeed perform a large portion of the activity necessary to create water droplets in the atmosphere… …and hence clouds.

h/t regmedia.co.uk

There’s a great book that any skeptic should read called “The Chilling Stars” by Nigel Calder and Henrik Svensmark that describes the process (and the CLOUD experiment that was just completed in July).

Did you hear about it?  Me either.

The title to the first article I read, “All Global Climate Change Models Will Have To Change”

Read more here, here, and here.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Congress, Miscellaneous

 

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Unemployment Benefits Stimulate The Economy — Not So Much

The knee-jerk and common sense reaction — to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat’s claim that Unemployment Payments stimulate the economy — is, correctly, to roll your eyes and assert that it is nothing more than a politically motivated claim.

h/t cascadepolicy.org

A few short years ago, in 2004-2005, the Democrats were complaining about how bad the situation was for the unemployed under President Bush when the Unemployment Rate was 4% – 5% — not the 9% – 10% under the Obama regime.  That visit to the history books alone answers the question as to whether or not the claim of its stimulative affect is ideologically motivated.

But, alas, a good Conservative / Tea Partier wants the facts, and here are a slew of them from the Cascade Policy Institute — Oregon’s Premier Policy Think Tank.

Here’s the scoop on the stimulative negative affect of Unemployment Insurance.

 

 

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A Lotus Evora In Every Pot

“Since 1988, the Federal Government has paid $8 Trillion in Interest on the Federal Debt.  That’s enough to give every taxpayer a Lotus Evora dream car.”

h/t uncrate.com

.

If your Representative (House or Senate) voted for this unbelievably bad debt deal, they need to be Primaried!  Period.

 
 

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Jason Crowell: Special Session??? – Part 3

By Missouri State Senator Jason Crowell (jcrowell@senate.mo.gov)

(Read Part 1 Here)

(Read Part 2 Here)

Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion from Jefferson City politicians suggesting the General Assembly will be called back into a special legislative session focused on “economic development.”  In fact, Senate and House leadership have spent much of July in a backroom in St. Louis cutting a deal that is short on economic development and short on tax credit reform, but long on government handouts to campaign donors and special interests in the name of “economic development” and “job growth.”  The General Assembly usually meets January through May, but for extraordinary reasons, the Governor or General Assembly can call itself into session to pass what it deems as legislation that cannot wait until January.

Senate and House leadership have recently announced a deal they cut behind closed doors in a non-transparent inside job, which is now being pushed to be passed in a special session.  This back-room deal must not be allowed to pass.  But let me be clear, there is a path to do right by the Missouri taxpayer, but it will take you demanding that Jefferson City politicians put you first instead of their fat cat campaign donors.  It is my hope that together we are successful.

In this series we are discussing where we are as to a possible special session, what is wrong with Leaderships’ back-room deal, what special interest provisions must be eliminated and how we move forward with an economic development bill that puts Missouri first, not connected special interests and lobbyists.  There are several issues at play; two weeks ago we discussed Aerotropolis tax credits for St. Louis Lambert Airport and last week we discussed Historic Preservation tax credits.  This still leaves Low Income Housing tax credits, Brownfield tax credits, Land Assemblage tax credits, and Circuit Breaker Property Tax Relief tax credits for owners and renters of real property.  We will discuss all of these issues and the changes that must be made to Leaderships’ backroom deal.  You will probably learn more then you want to know, but it is vital that you know what is going on with your hard-earned tax dollars in Jefferson City.

The next issue to look at is Low Income Housing tax credits.  In my opinion, for the most part, state tax credits in Missouri have become programs that favor special interests and wealthy developers who are generous to politicians’ campaigns.  And these special interests are well represented in the halls of the Capitol by lobbyists who continue to convince legislators that tax credits create jobs or enhance economic development when all they really do is line the pockets of their beneficiaries.  And as the influence of these special interests have grown, so too has the expansion of many tax credit programs.  In total, Missouri tax credits have increased over the last 13 years by 430.9 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011.  For Fiscal Year 2012, budget experts estimate the number of tax credits will grow to $639 million.

Low Income Housing tax credits were the largest giveaway in FY 2011 of Missouri’s sky rocking tax credits.  It is so large, Missouri ranks number 2 in the nation for giveaways in the name of building low income.  This is how the Low Income Housing tax credit scheme works; once approved by the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC), Missouri provides a tax credit which can be used each year for 10 years by its allocated developers, to construct or acquire and rehabilitate rental housing.  In 2011, Missouri issued $156 million worth of tax credits to developers for affordable housing.  But Low Income Housing tax credits are streamed to the developer over 10 years, so taxpayers have actually been left to-date with an outstanding unfunded Low Incoming Housing tax credit liability (authorized or issued yet not redeemed) of $1.369 billion.  For example, stretched over 10 years, a developer who received $1 million in Low Incoming Housing tax credits this year is actually receiving $10 million at $1 million per year over the course of 10 years.  So in this case after already receiving $1 million from the taxpayers this year, the taxpayers are still on the hook for the remaining $9 million due to the developer over the next 9 years.

Above, I believe he meant “in the name of building low income housing”

To finance these housing units, the developer takes the tax credits and sells them for cash.  These tax credits DO NOT reduce a developer’s tax liability; they are “cash” vouchers, which the developer sells to others at a great discount.  This is why in a 2008 audit, the Missouri Auditor called Low Income Housing tax credits “costly” and “inefficient” because only 35 cents for every dollar go to development costs while the remaining 65 cents go to investors.  Leaderships’ bill does nothing address this fact.  Instead, Leaderships’ bill creates even more exceptions so that investors benefit first before a return on investment is realized for taxpayers.

In the same report, the Auditor also criticized the selection process of not documenting how projects are selected; highlighting that political influence impacts the selection of projects.  The Leaderships’ bill instead of reforming this process will give more influence to special interest developers and campaign contributors by allowing both the President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House the ability to appoint, without a confirmation process, members to the board that decides who receives Low Income Housing tax credits.  In addition, the law if passed will allow politicians to put those with conflicts of interest on this board because there are no conflict of interest provisions to prevent campaign contributors from buying their way onto this board.

Leaderships’ bill also boasts the establishment of new caps.  But the truth is there is no savings because of caps.  Tax credit expenses will actually be higher in the future than they were in 2011 because with the new board, they spend more than in 2011.  With a new board that will have no accountability measure for their spending, the result will be greater wasteful spending of your hard earned tax dollars.  The crony capitalism of this new board will cost taxpayers even more than they are paying now for this wasteful program and that is by design.

Let me provide you with recent abuses of this program that the Leaderships’ bill does nothing to reform and in fact, increase the outrageous amount of tax credits issued:

  • Schultz School Senior Housing project in Cape Girardeau used state Low Income Housing tax credits to rehabilitate 45 housing units.  The developer received $372,997 per unit.
  • Bethel Ridge Estates in Columbia received $320,476 per unit to rehabilitate 42 units and then was awarded another $339,588 per unit to rehabilitate another 42 units for Bethel Ridge Estates II.
  • Sycamore Village Apartments in Perryville received $207,500 per unit to rehabilitate 36 units.
  • Cape Riverview Apartments 2 in Cape Girardeau received $196,047 per unit to rehabilitate 43 units
  • Breezeway Estates in Perryville received $253,333 per unit to rehabilitate 15 units
  • West Court Manor in Cape Girardeau received $205,917 per unit to rehabilitate 48 units
  • Eagles Landing in East Prairie received $116,000 per unit to rehabilitate 30 units.

I believe now is the time to make fundamental positive reforms to Low Income Housing tax credits.  We should subject awarding tax credits to a transparent process, where your representatives will have the chance to look at all the things we spend your tax dollars on and prioritize accordingly.  In Missouri, the method by which we set Missouri’s priorities through the appropriation process where we ask each of the state’s expenses to stand in line before your representatives in the General Assembly; requiring them to demonstrate why, with limited resources, they should be funded over others.  By making tax credits subject to the appropriations process, all state expenditures would now stand in line and prevent favorites, by allowing those who receive tax credits to cut to the front of the appropriations line.

Again I ask, is there a State Senator out there willing to let ‘Leadership’ know that she or he will filibuster this Aerotropolis boondoggle along with any bill that takes more money from the Missouri taxpayer and gives it to wealthy campaign donors.  If this monstrosity is the main item on the docket, it is incumbent on representatives that considers themselves fiscally responsible to stand firmly in the path of its passage.

And, will Governor Jay Nixon let the Legislature know that he will veto such legislation, or will he further line the pockets of his donors.

As you know, I have concerns with awarding any new tax credits while cutting education budgets in Missouri.  As conceived by Senate and House leadership, Low Income Housing tax credits are a special interest giveaway to fat cat campaign donors.  But, if Low Income Housing tax credits are going to be about true economic development, we must make the changes we’ve discussed.  And if Senate and House leadership fight us and fight the elimination of these special interest provisions, then they must be defeated as well.

Now is the time for government to live within its means, not spend money it does not have by authorizing giveaway tax credits not tied to performance.  Together we have an opportunity to do right by the Missouri taxpayer but it will take you, the bosses of the politicians, to demand the right legislation is passed, if there is a special session.  This can be done by taking back our state government and holding Senate and House leadership accountable; shining a bright light on the problems with their back-room deal and watching them scatter like cockroaches from their current position.  Again, I need your help holding these politicians accountable.  They are counting on your silence.  In the coming weeks we will examine further the issues and changes needed for a taxpayer first special session.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns.  Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459.  You may write to me at Jason Crowell; Missouri Senate; State Capitol; Jefferson City, MO  65101, or e-mail me at: jcrowell@senate.mo.gov or visit me on the web at http://www.senate.mo.gov/crowell.

h/t senate.mo.gov

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Education, Taxes

 

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