Archive for April, 2015

Candidate Hunting

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m trying to condense my questions for when I begin thinking about supporting presidential and congressional candidates. Here’s a start:

Under what circumstances would you send American soldiers into armed combat or involve ourselves in other countries domestic affairs?

Should we subsidize in any way the exploration of fossil fuels?

Should access to healthcare or education be dependent upon one’s ability to pay?

Is there a point when worker’s rights outweigh business profits?

Do you believe in “Trickle-Down Economics”?

Is there a point when corporate mergers should be banned?

My bottom line:

Aristotle’s “Doctrine of the Mean” described how courage is the middle ground between rash action and cowardice. It’s the common reference for the oft-repeated adage, “All things in moderation.”

The radicals are responsible, but it’s the moderates who allow the kind of behavior we’re currently seeing in the political parties who are to blame. The voters who buy into fear tactics are to blame. Those of us who don’t march in the streets to peacefully protest the manipulation of our political and economic systems are to blame. We share the blame because we lack the courage to stand up and stop this insanity.

The Keene City Council’s Finance Committee kicked the parking fee increase can down the road again last night, instead choosing to ask the city manager to be more comprehensive in his description of the parking department.
No one on the committee is in disagreement about the need to boost rates to keep up with increasing costs and infrastructure improvements, such as a parking garage, but the number of questions that keep coming up as we discuss the department go unanswered.

Looming large is whether or not the contracted parking director’s job will become permanent. It was our understanding that Gary Lamoureux was hired temporarily to deal with the parking issues surrounding the new fire station and court house. Now that they are completed, he’s been charged with shepherding the fee increase through the system. What will be the make up of the department and who will lead it?

Also, why does the police department now keep the fines that are collected after 5 pm? After all, the parking department is charged for their time. The budget hearings last year were supposed to deal with the shift of responsibilities from the police department to the parking department, but what the actual budget numbers mean is still fuzzy.

Yet another concern is the communication over how many increases we need to accomplish what, specifically.
How are we going to fund a garage, and when?

And, why are city vehicles taking up scarce on-street spaces? Should city employee’s POV’s park for free when most downtown private sector workers have to pay for long term parking?

Merchants complain that increased parking fees and fines will hurt their businesses. How do they feel about creating a business parking zone that is paid for thru their property taxes – as is the case at malls? Is that a viable alternative? Anecdotal tales of the failure of a past experiment lack empirical evidence of economic, rather than political failure.

I don’t know exactly where this plan is going, but it is clear that there are questions to be answered before we proceed.

Saturday, I released this bit of information that I thought was news:

“Members of the Keene City Council Friday were invited to join a national advocacy operation that international newsman and columnist Bill Moyers describes as a corporate bill mill which advances the interests of corporate backers by wining and dining friendly elected officials.

“An email invitation from the American City Council Exchange (ACCE), a sister organization to the Koch brother’s-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), was sent Friday to Keene City Council members’ city email addresses offering them a complimentary one-year membership in the organization.

“ALEC has been sending uniformly-drafted rightwing legislation to member state legislators since 1973, who in turn introduce the legislation in their respective state legislatures.”

I sent this to WMUR, WBCN-Boston, The Union Leader, The Keene Sentinel, and The Nashua Telegraph and others thinking that I was doing a public service by telling the media in my market that national partisan politics was being injected into a non-partisan, local city council process. Guess what? Not one media outlet replied or even made mention of it.

The latest Justin Bieber faux pas gets breaking news coverage, but a take over attempt of local government by the Koch brother’s-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) think tank gets nothing. Not a mention.

Let’s look at what these people say in their offer.

The American City County Exchange is America’s only free market forum for local policymakers. In municipalities across America, people debate to find the best policy solutions, but the free market perspective is often left by the wayside. Working together, ACCE members learn from others’ challenges and evaluate how free market policies work when applied to local governments.

ACCE members receive academic research and analysis from policy experts who work with issues, processes and problem-solving strategies upon which local officials vote. Provided with important policy education, lawmakers become more informed and better equipped to serve the needs of their communities.”

They have invited members of the Keene City Council to join, free of charge for one year (a fifty dollar value), and to attend a convention that includes policy workshops in Public/Private Partnerships in Transportation, Priority Based Budgeting, Local Labor Issues (Right to Work, Collective Bargaining, Pensions, and Minimum Wage), Emergency Services, Community Development, Finance and Public Works.

Ask yourself, do you really want so-called free market policymakers deciding whether or not to fill pot holes on your street? You know what the answer will be, don’t you? Can you guess what the solutions to labor issues will be?

The legislative equivalent, ALEC, wines and dines legislators at the conventions – free of charge – then sends them home with an armload of prepackaged bills like “Stand Your Ground” laws. The ACCE aims to do the same with local issues.

Bottom line: why isn’t the media interested in a corporate takeover of local, non-partisan government? Where is the outrage? Which of your councilors will join, or have already joined the legislative branch, ALEC?

Or is Justin Bieber simply more interesting than the future of democracy?