"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Common sense solution to city's sidewalks

Over on Abdul's blog there is a good discussion going between a thoughtful liberal who calls himself "Think Again", City Council President Ryan Vaughn, and Abdul's readers about the transfer of the city's water company to Citizen's Gas and the bonds that would be issued in the deal to pay for infrastructure.

TA wrote a short analysis of why the deal is bad and, to his credit, Ryan Vaughn responded (in red ink) with his response. It is a must read for anyone who is following the proposed utility transfer. Vaughn's response mirrors what the mayor's office and his lawyers want. TA's analysis seems to be more in line with what The People are saying about the deal.

Unfortunately, we don't know for sure the exact number of the gargantuan bond that will be issued to Citizen's Gas. The number we hear from the politicians changes a lot depending, I guess, on which politician is talking and what day it is.

Every citizen in Marion County ( who is not directly profiting from this bond deal) is seeing huge blinking DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! signs. If you know of a citizen blogging in favor of this deal, please let me know.

Update 7/9/10: Ryan Vaughn emailed me to say that 62% of the people polled want the transfer and the bond deal. I replied to ask for the wording of the poll question and how, when, and where the poll was implemented. I explained to Ryan that most of the people I am currently and unscientifically polling don't understand the deal and when it is explained that our water and energy are being used as collateral, they are recoiling. I seriously doubt if the poll question plainly states to our citizens that their water is being used as collateral on the debt.

Because Ryan (to his credit) is so forthcoming in communication, I seriously doubt that he won't give me the exact language of the polling question. I also believe that he is pushing/selling is what he feels is right. However keep in mind, Ryan's work environment is Barnes & Thornburg lawyers inside one of the top mover/shaker law firms of the city,
and are legal counsel on record to Veolia Water. His influences are likely much different than yours and mine.

President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the other self-serving elitists among his administration effectively forced the health care bill down the throats of Americans AGAINST OUR WILL! It will likely cause the Democrats the House of Representatives and Obama his presidency.

Surely, our Mayor, "The People's Mayor" would not resort to tactics like Obama used to force something we don't want upon us. Or would he? He seems to be doing just that.

Here's a common sense idea. Let's raise some good old fashioned CASH! Cash has power and it doesn't have consequences down the road. CASH doesn't have interest due to the banksters.

Let's examine first which areas of the city are most in need and exactly how much it will cost using the best deals we can get from our local private qualified licensed contractors."

Let's fix our infrastructure in easily manageable and transparent stages starting with whatever area is most in need of attention. Let's raise the cash as we go.

I know we have a bunch of assets we could sell that no one would miss. Things like all that real estate sitting empty. Let's start there.

Another option is to see if the public would write a one time cash check to the city to take care of the most urgent of needs. This might not be a hard sell if The People were backing the idea.

And finally, a suggestion was made to me today by property tax activist, Dave Bond, that if we did issue bonds, why couldn't those bonds be backed by the cash of our own citizens? We could run it like a credit union. That way those who ponied up cash could be paid the interest as a return, rather than hold a vital human need (water and energy) as collateral to the banksters.

I am open to anyone challenging me as to why these ideas are not prudent and why they should not be our first course of action before we offer up VITAL collateral to more borrowing from the bond banks. Banks and interest are bringing America to her knees!

We all know this to be true. It is time to collectively say we are not having it! NO MORE!

The use of our homes as collateral led to the property tax crisis. Our homes were used as an unending revenue source until The People could take no more. Surely, we learned from that colossal mistake. Surely, somewhere deep inside our lost Mayor Ballard, he gets it.

These deals always, I repeat ALWAYS, cost us way more in the long term than the upfront promises of politicians. They always turn ugly.

The politicians pushing this on us must turn off this path! Let's raise the cash and sell some of our under used and unnecessary assets instead.


Dave said...

That stream of consciousness suggestion was just a shot from the hip, along the lines of preferred class of bond or option for rate payers & citizens; one idea.

Why couldn't customers or rate payers send an extra $5/$50/$500 along with their bills, pooled for return, a form of bond backed CD's, etc.? Again, just an idea.

It would be interesting to know who the buyers are in this bond market environment. Rating services have been questioned of late & with good reason, they've been broker biased rather than investor reliable; ignoring the fundamentals of well structured deals. It would indeed be telling if the paddles fanning fire sales at bond auctions these days, belong mostly to union or govt pension funds, temporarily force feeding their members that which has become Chinese slang.

If those pension funds are middle-man looted or sales of munis don't keep pace with a private sector shrugged employment decline in the public sector (in progress), combined with the Tresury's aggressive printing schedule- what's to prevent the sinking of the B-Mark (bond market)? We can't say it's "without precedent."

It's food for thought, that's all.

Anonymous said...

They don't turn ugly unless the people have a prosecutor who will go after those who crossed the line. When is the last time Indianapolis had such?


By the way, I don't have $10 million dollars to research my solution and launch a PR campaign to sell my solution to you.

The city, on the other hand, does have that resource.

That makes me David and them Goliath.

I'm doing all I can with my handicap.

And again, to Ryan's credit, his is directly engaging us here and on Abdul's blog.

Had Enough Indy? said...

HFFT - you are right on the money when you ask for the wording of the poll question.

Interesting questions might be: Do you think the City should float 30 year bonds to make repairs that will last 10-15? Do you think the city should raise sewer utility rates to float 30 year bonds to make repairs that will last 10-15 years? Do you think the city should raise sewer utility rates to float 30 year bonds to get $135 million, to make repairs that will last 10-15 years and that will cost an additional $168 million in fees and interest?

Do you think the city should sell the sewer utility to Citizens Energy for $263 million in cash so that Citizens Energy can raise sewer utility rates some more to pay back the bonds they will float to get the $263 million in cash and then have to pay back that plus fees and interest over 30 years? Do you think the city should spend the $263 million it gets from Citizens Energy on repairs that will last 10-15 years, while Citizens Energy raises sewer utility rates for 30 years to pay back the $263 million plus fees and interest?

Do you think the City should set water quality standards to ensure that our future water quality is protected? Do you think the City should demand that all of the water resources in our County owned by our water utility be used in our County and ban the sale to other Counties and States?

Yup. Lots of good questions.


Had Enough....I betcha the city's polling question went something like:

"Are you for new sidewalks, better neighborhoods, and professional management of your water service? "

Larry W. Williams said...

Had Enough is being generous including 10-15 years in the proposed questions, considering that as was told to me last week by a DPW employee that the base and sub-base is not usually repaired or rehabilitated (because of cost, of course), resulting in the deteriorating paving that I had identified with resurfacing projects - within less than 1.5 years of paving.

It also explains why one of the streets that was paved within the past decade (about six years ago) is scheduled to be repaved deterioration and pot holes in the exact same locations due to not restoring the base) with the supposedly free money from the utilities transfer.

So, as I pointed out to Chris Cotterill in a previous neighborhood meeting, it is the essence of bad government to steal money from ratepayers to perform substandard street and sidewalk construction and repairs.

Look closely at streets that you drive frequently and I am sure you will notice that the same points of failure still exist. That is because no matter whether a road is patched or totally resurfaced, if the base is substandard, the same failures will reappear, time after time.

Indy Tax Dollars said...

Comments on the poll wording are on point. Unfortunately, when it comes time to issue the new debt, the wording will be about the same - "Wouldn't it be nice to have new sidewalks and streets?"

Years ago, particularly in rural areas, counties used to issue
"road bonds" for what was basically grading gravel roads. That finally stopped when even an idiot could see that a multi-year bond issue for that kind of work bordered on malfeasance.

How about a really "out of the box" idea? Use utility revenues to maintain and operate utilities. Use muncipal tax revenues to maintain municipal infrastructure. What revenues? Well, it could start with a complete renovation of downtown tax policy. End abatements and subsidies. Put the billion dollars worth of real estate and improvements now being used by for-profit, professional sports franchises back on the tax rolls and make the primary users pay the taxes due. Check on "investments" of tax dollars - $25 million in just one hotel, for example - and determine what the return, if any, has been.

There are tax revenues. They just aren't available for things which will truly benefit the city and its residents rather than the downtown cabal which won't bake a pie in which its members can't get their fingers!

Marycatherine Barton said...

What you all are revealing is so maddening.