Keller City Limits

Discussion of Keller, TX politics

Browsing Posts published by Mike Sivertsen

Latest: House Republicans oil protest to resume August 4.

I was pleased to see that our U.S. Congressman, Dr. Michael Burgess, joined the revolt on Friday afternoon, 01Aug08, against the draconian tactics of Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi wishes to replicate the failed energy policies of California on a national level. Democrats have even shut down the normal budget procedures to prevent Republicans from offering amendments to appropriation bills that would open a debate and a vote on drilling for more oil in our country. Reducing the price of gas, putting people to work and sending less money overseas to tyrannical governments for a resource on our own shores is not even worth considering in the mind of a Democrat. Everything is subjugated to the green religion and the global warming superstition. Amazing.

The actions of Rep. Burgess and others on the darkened House floor (Democrats turned off the lights and the microphones) reminded me of several short patriotic featurettes from the late 1930s I recently viewed. In these three color shorts (all available via Netflix), John Litel plays Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. He galvanizes his fellow countrymen to action against a tyrannical government in 1775-1776. These inspiring featurettes would add value to a KISD history class.

Kudos to Rep. Michael Burgess and others that support drilling for oil. They need to keep up the pressure and open our shores and ANWR to oil drilling. Hurricane Katrina took out Gulf oil platforms and we never heard about big oil spills. This, and the Audubon Society drilling on nature preserves, is proof that drilling is environmentally sound.

House GOP revolts over gas prices, 01Aug08

In total, 48 Republicans spoke on the floor Friday, offering remarks ranging from the impassioned to the plainly partisan. Michigan Rep. Thaddeus G. McCotter declared, “This is the People’s House. This is not Pelosi’s Politburo.” He later pretended to be a Democrat, walking to their side of the floor to announce all the votes they had prevented. . . 

Related energy and transportation updates:

  • A growing chorus, Drew Thornley, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), summarizes the sane voices calling for more domestic drilling, 12Jun08
    • “This chorus will grow for a number of reasons, but mostly because its message is the most sensible and the alternatives are too damning. The current path leads to energy poverty and failure. Americans are exasperated with the effects of Congress’ energy-policy incompetence. Petroleum prices are climbing, rogue states aren’t becoming any less troublesome, and this country and her energy needs are only growing.”
  • Had enough of eco-lobby’s energy prices?, Investor’s Business Daily, 28Jul08
    • “But consider that with new off-shore drilling technology, even Hurricane Katrina’s major wallop was unable to cause oil spills from any of the numerous drilling platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of the environmental lobby’s years of influence in the nation’s capitol, two-thirds of the oil used today in the United States is imported from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, Algeria, Angola and Russia.”
  • Put a tyrant in your tank, Mother Jones, May/June 2008
    • “Generally speaking, Western companies use the latest technology to reduce waste and maximize oil-field output. But with corrupt leaders bleeding money from state oil coffers, cash that might have been invested in better equipment, the national firms tend to extract less oil from the ground and expend far more energy doing so. Despite vast deposits, oil-field production has been dropping in Mexico, Iran, and Venezuela.”
  • The folly of light rail. Big business has sold us out. Why is Dallas’ Texas Instruments backing higher vehicle registration fees that punish non-users of rail? (Star-Telegram, 02Aug08)
  • Limitations of bicycles and virtues of cars, systems thinking approach by a project manager. One cyclist dies every week in Texas (Star-Telegram, 03Aug08)

Three images and one scientific fact: global temperature varies naturally.

(Click image for full size view) 

Click for larger image - December 1979 Time cover w/family huddled around fire in TV
Dec. 1979 Time magazine cover

Click for larger image - Global temp graph-1979-2008

Click for larger image - April 2008 Time cover with penguin
April 2008 Time magazine cover

In 1979, protecting a human family was the imagery. In 2008, animals (usually penguins or polar bears) are often the images found in Time covers, film and other media. The degradation of humans due to unneeded energy rationing or carbon offsets is a secondary concern, if one at all.

Related:

Top Australian greenhouse expert now a skeptic

Leaving the church of Al Gore and entering the bright sunshine of climate reality.

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector. . .

There has not been a public debate about the causes of global warming and most of the public and our decision makers are not aware of the most basic salient facts:

  1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it. . . .
  2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. . . .
  3. The satellites that measure the world’s temperature all say that the warming trend ended in 2001, and that the temperature has dropped about 0.6C in the past year. . .
  4. The new ice cores show that in the past six global warmings over the past half a million years, the temperature rises occurred on average 800 years before the accompanying rise in atmospheric carbon. Which says something important about which was cause and which was effect.

None of these points are controversial. The alarmist scientists agree with them, though they would dispute their relevance.The last point was known and past dispute by 2003, yet Al Gore made his movie in 2005 and presented the ice cores as the sole reason for believing that carbon emissions cause global warming. In any other political context our cynical and experienced press corps would surely have called this dishonest and widely questioned the politician’s assertion. . . .

The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming. Evidence consists of observations made by someone at some time that supports the idea that carbon emissions cause global warming. Computer models and theoretical calculations are not evidence, they are just theory. . .

American Physical Society members re-open global warming debate

  • A portion of the American Physical Society (APS) membership is sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science in a member newsletter.
  • Christopher Monckton demonstrates via 30 equations that computer models used by the UN’s climate panel (IPCC) were pre-programmed with overstated values for the three variables whose product is “climate sensitivity” (temperature increase in response to greenhouse gas increase), resulting in a 500-2000% overstatement of CO2’s effect on temperature in the IPCC’s 2007 climate assessment report.
    • “. . . we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong. If the concluding equation in this analysis (Eqn. 30) is correct, the IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”
  • Comments reported by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition on Monckton’s paper and his Connecticut lecture in 2008:
    • Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chair (2004) of the New England Section of the American Physical Society (APS), has been studying climate-change science for four years. He said: “I was impressed by an hour-long academic lecture which criticized claims about ‘global warming’ and explained the implications of the physics of radiative transfer for climate change. I was pleased that the audience responded to the informative presentation with a prolonged, standing ovation. That is what happened when, at the invitation of the President of our University, Christopher Monckton lectured here in Hartford this spring [2008]. I am delighted that Physics and Society, an APS journal, has published his detailed paper refining and reporting his important and revealing results.”
  • Actions taken by the APS after publishing Lord Monckton’s invited and reviewed paper indicate the duplicity and arm-twisting going on behind the scenes as people and organizations supporting the superstition of man-made global warming see their house of cards begin to crumble. Check out this blow-by-blow account. Here is the actual letter sent by Lord Monckton to the APS President on 19Jul08 calling attention to their unethical and unprofessional behavior. There will be more on this as the debate continues.

Evidence doesn’t bare out alarmist claims of global warming

Australia is openly debating the theory of global warming. Check out the seven charts hosted by the polar bear.

John Coleman, Weather Channel founder

“I am very serious about this issue. I think stamping out the global warming scam is vital to saving our wonderful way of life. So the Global warming frenzy is, indeed, threatening our civilization. Not because global warming is real; it is not. But because of the all the horrible side effects of the global warming scam. I love this civilization. I want to do my part to protect it. If Al Gore and his global warming scare dictates the future policy of our governments, the current economic downturn could indeed become a recession, drift into a depression and our modern civilization could fall into an abyss. And it would largely be a direct result of the global warming frenzy. My mission, in what is left of a long and exciting lifetime, is to stamp out this Global Warming silliness and let all of us get on with enjoying our lives and loving our planet, Earth.”

Grapevine City Council wasting tax dollars to fight a non-problem

So why is the Grapevine City Council spending tax dollars to reduce ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions when there is no problem?

“. . .the City Council voted unanimously to join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a Toronto-based association. For a $600 annual membership fee, the city gets software and help in further cutting energy consumption and harmful emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. “ICLEI’S goal is to determine emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Matt Singleton, Grapevine’s Public Works director. “We will determine what our greenhouse gas emissions are, set a goal and work toward achieving that goal.. . .

By talking with other cities in the group and using the software, Grapevine will have a clearer picture of where it stands in its efforts to cap greenhouse emissions, Grapevine City Councilman Mike Lease said. “I’m excited that we have already been taking steps all along to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet,” Lease said. “I think that . . . we will create a baseline to monitor our progress.” – “Grapevine joins group that helps the environment.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 4, 2008

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” –  John Maynard Keynes

UPDATE (12Jul08): The Keller Citizen updated its letters to the editor section (after many months of no updates) late on July 11, 2008, after I posted my original comment below. I’m looking forward to seeing the latest letters appearing online each week when the hardcopy version hits our mailboxes.

———————————–

Jim Carson’s letter in the 11 July 2008 Keller Citizen reminds us of the voice for open and transparent government we have lost. When the Keller Citizen sees fit to post letters from July 2008 online I’ll link to it. All I can find is letters from Nov 2007 and April 2008 telling us how good it would be if Jim was no longer on the City Council.

Hope you like your ‘change’ and ‘hope we can believe in.’

The Texas Budget Source conveniently captures in one place those Texas school districts (a small percentage) that have placed their checkbook registers online. While a good beginning in transparency, a static PDF presentation or a linear checkbook register of individual line items is not very helpful. It is just data. What I want is information, i.e., data organized and/or presented that meets a specific need.

For example:

  • which payee receives the most payments each year?
  • what are the top ten largest outlays each year?
  • what is the year-to-year trend by vendor, person or organization?

Check out the pay of nearly every public employee in Houston and Harris County. Note how the Quick Searches of the top 25 highest paid employees and top 25 overtime earners turn data into information and make it much more useful. Clicking the column headers allows you to work with the data and turn it into something more useful to you (i.e., information). Keller taxpayers need this type of capability for the online Keller ISD expenditures. Being able to sort, categorize and manipulate the data and turn it into useful information would make the monetary actions of Texas ISDs truly transparent.

How would you like to see the Keller ISD expenditures classified or organized?

The irradiation of food to kill disease-causing bacteria would dramatically reduce deaths from salmonella, E.coli bacteria and other microbes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 75 million Americans (1 in 4) get sick and 5,000 die every year from food-borne bacteria. Three children died in Washington State in early 1993 after eating Jack in the Box hamburgers contaminated with E.coli bacteria. In Fall 2006, spinach contaminated with E.coli bacteria killed three people, including a toddler, in an outbreak that affected 200 people in 26 states. Salmonella, the bacteria in the June 2008 tomato contamination, causes fever, diarrhea, stomach pains and headaches. In early 2008, it was reported that food poisoning can result in long term and severe health problems.

Medical costs and lost worker productivity due to food poisoning were estimated at $35 billion per year in 1997.  Any discussion of reducing medical costs in the U.S. should include the use of irradiated food to reduce needless deaths and illness from disease-causing bacteria.

Food is irradiated by passing it in front of a strong radioactive source (Cobalt–60) that kills insects and bacteria in the food with gamma radiation. The food becomes no more radioactive than your teeth after getting a dental X-ray. Irradiation has been used for years to sterilize medical equipment, bandages, contact lens solution, condoms, tampons, and food for astronauts and for those with damaged immune systems, e.g., cancer patients. Irradiating fruit allows it to be fully ripened on the vine, rather than being picked green to keep it from spoiling before it reaches the market. This improves the taste and results in a much longer shelf life. In addition, irradiation can greatly reduce the use of pesticides.

Irradiated food is clearly marked on the grocer’s shelves by a logo called the radura (see Figure below), a leafy flower enclosed in a half-broken circle. This makes it easily distinguishable from non–irradiated food, e.g., food treated with chemicals and preservatives. You are free to choose the food you wish. Food suppliers have been reluctant to sell irradiated food because of possible adverse publicity or the tacit admission that the non-irradiated food they sell has bacteria in it. However, test marketing in the U.S. has met with success. The results from irradiation have been compared to that achieved from pasteurization which dramatically increased the safety of milk and other food.

Over 40 countries have approved, and many organizations, including the World Health Organization and American Medical Association, support irradiation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved irradiation for spices, wheat, flour, pork (to prevent trichinosis), poultry (to eliminate salmonella and other bacteria) and ground beef. A food industry petition to greatly expand food irradiation to include many ready-to-eat products, e.g., fresh bagged greens and tomatoes, has been awaiting review by the FDA since 1999. The FDA approval in 2006 of spraying viruses on meat to kill only ONE bacteria is a limited and potentially hazardous approach. Irradiation would kill many more bacteria without the potential unintended consequences of a chemical being sprayed on our food.

Since some grocers think customers are afraid of irradiated food, I make it a point to ask my store manager for irradiated products and let them know there’s a market for clearly labeled and safe food. I would much rather eat irradiated food (as do astronauts and cancer patients) than be sick, die or have my kidneys fail and be on dialysis for the rest of my life.

References:

Irradiated food symbol

You Have Been Misled

Whenever you see, hear or read of Al Gore or others pushing the ‘chicken little’ story of climate catastrophe, remember this: the actual data demonstrates that they are either lying or incredibly ignorant. Every greenhouse gas and carbon reference that planners bring to Keller or Texas or the U.S. courts, etc. to justify their top-down, command and control, central planning ‘fix’ is based on a BIG LIE.

Texas Mayors Help Shut Down Low Cost Electricity

Mayor Cluck of Arlington, former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, other Texas mayors (and of course the eco-activists) are featured in a documentary, Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars, bragging about their role in blocking eight new coal plants for Texas. Since the actual data below shows that CO2 bears no relation to global temperatures, and the new coal plants would have been cleaner than old coal plants that could have then been retired, the clucking Mayors have done Texas air quality a GREAT disservice.

CO2 Increases While Temperatures Flatten and Decline

The actual data shown in these charts will help you enjoy your daily carbon footprint without guilt or fear. I suggest you print these out and hang next to your TV and on your efrigerator to (1) counter the upcoming $300 million propaganda telling you the EXACT opposite of what these graphs show and (2) educate children that are brainwashed in schools daily with the BIG LIE. Source: ICECAP
 

CO2 increases from 1997 to 2008 while global temps flatten
CO2 increases as global temps flatten

Click chart to enlarge

Global temps decline from 2003 to 2008
Global temps show decline from 2003 to 2008

Click chart to enlarge

Sub-surface Ocean Buoys Indicate Declining Ocean Temp

Excerpts from Challenging ABC News’s Attack on Climate Scientist S. Fred Singer, Reuters, 25Mar08:

“The earth’s surface temperatures have registered no warming trend since 1998, even though the levels of atmosphere CO2 have continued to increase strongly.

“In 2000, the sunspot numbers turned downward, which historically has predicted a decline in the earth’s temperatures roughly a decade later. The sunspot indices have continued to predict cooling ever since.

“Last month, three of the world’s major monitoring sites announced that earth’s temperatures actually declined from January 2007 to January 2008 — the first such global temperature drop in 30 years. The Hadley Centre in the UK, NASA, and the University of Alabama/Huntsville all reported the decline.

“Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recently told National Public Radio that the oceans had stopped warming 4-5 years ago, based on key information from new high-tech ocean buoys.

“The embarrassing truth is that the weak correlation between earth’s temperatures and human-emitted greenhouse gases is rapidly worsening. The CO2 correlation with earth’s thermometer record since 1860 is less than 22 percent. The correlation between earth temperatures and sunspots is 79 percent and strengthening.”

The ocean buoy data is a fascinating example that illustrates the utter stupidity (unknown unknowns not considered) of the general circulation computer models (GCCM) used as the basis for climate alarmism by the chicken littles.

Have any of our Keller students put together a science project using real climate data as shown here? In March 2008, I spoke to 95 high school students (four pre-AP Physics-Chemistry classes) at Lewisville High School about careers in science and engineering and lessons to be learned from junk science (e.g., the climate alarmism scam). I can speak here in Keller if anybody interested.

Related:

  • It’s about freedom, not climatology, summary of a scientific conference held in New York City in March 2008:
    • “For over seventeen years I have witnessed at United Nations international gatherings so much ego, money and meeting time being poured into this global central plan to ration energy – to control carbon dioxide by controlling people. To control people by controlling carbon dioxide. To brand the stuff of life – carbon – a deadly pollutant. Political, activist and business careers, especially legal careers, now depend upon creating this new bureaucratic global layer of rules and regulations. The new-age rulers want the wealth and power that will accrue to them as they impose their centralized, consummate plans upon us.”
  • Letter sent to every U.S. Senator from conservative leaders citing higher prices from any CO2 regulation, 17 March 2008. If you think your utility bills are high now . . .
  • Global Warming is Not a Crisis
  • Lots more information (updated daily) at The Greenie Watch.

The most recent scientific basis for throwing out the CO2 = climate change theory was at the March 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York City, attended by over 500 scientists, economists, analysts, and other participants. The Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change from this conference states in part that:

“. . . current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity’s real and serious problems. . . . there is no convincing evidence that CO2 missions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change. . . . attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate. . . . adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples. . . human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.”


NY Climate Conference: Journey to the Center of Warming Sanity
, 06 Mar 2008, conference summary from attendee.
——————————————————–

Texas’ and America’s interests are not served by relying upon a simplistic linear explanation (CO2 going up = temperature going up), especially since it is clear that CO2 and temperature are decoupled (CO2 has been increasing the last 10 years and temperatures have been flat and are starting to decline).

Steve Forbes, prominent businessman, does not accept the global warming and carbon dioxide connection, Forbes, 10 Mar 2008.

“. . a proved correlation between temperature changes and carbon dioxide is almost nonexistent. Turns out that the sun has been quite active in the last half-century or so, hence the slight rise in global temperatures. Other factors in temperature changes include changes in the Earth’s axis, in ocean currents and in the salinity of the Arctic Ocean. Volcanoes can also have a dramatic short-term impact on temperatures. But carbon dioxide? No way.”

John Coleman, Weather Channel founder, considers global warming the greatest scam in history

“I have learned since the Ice Age is coming scare in the 1970’s to always be a skeptic about research. In the case of global warming, I didn’t accept media accounts. Instead I read dozens of the scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct when I assure you there is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. It is all a scam, the result of bad science.”

Bob Lutz, GM Vice-Chairman called global warming a Total Crock of Doo-Doo, Feb 2008 in Dallas, Texas


Climate of Bias
documents the media bias on this important subject. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram conveys an incessant one-sided energy and environmental coverage which calls into question the usefulness of their reporting. The decline in newspaper readership across the country is a rejection of this bias by those who wish to get additional perspectives.

Public officials at all levels of government, including Keller, need to understand all sides to this issue. The recent near-blackout of portions of the Texas electrical grid (due to unreliable wind power) are a harbinger of things to come if the chicken-littles of CO2 and global warming continue as the basis for electrical generation decisions.  

Wind power blows

I have seen tons of windmill components being trucked to West Texas for the past two years – and for what? Piddle power that must constantly be backed up by base load coal, gas and nuclear plants.

Lots more information (updated daily) at The Greenie Watch.

Easy-to-read 30-page analysis with charts and graphs by Geologist David Archibald. This paper summarizes in one place articles I’ve been seeing for the past two months. Excerpts:

Combining the rural US data set we saw earlier and the projected temperature response to the length of Solar Cycle 23, this graph shows the expected decline to 2030. The temperature decline will be as steep as that of the 1970s cooling scare, but will go on for longer.

Man-made global warming proponents are exactly wrong:

  1. The Earth is getting colder and this will accelerate.
  2. Carbon dioxide has a minuscule warming effect.
  3. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide will increase agricultural productivity.
  4. The ideal atmospheric carbon dioxide level is a minimum of 1,000 ppm

2008 is the tenth anniversary of the recent peak on global temperature in 1998. The world has been cooling at 0.06 degrees per annum since then. My prediction is that this rate of cooling will accelerate to 0.2 degrees per annum following the month of solar minimum sometime in 2009.

We have to be thankful to the anthropogenic global warming proponents for one thing. If it weren’t for them and their voodoo science, climate science wouldn’t have attracted the attention of non-climate scientists, and we would be sleepwalking into the rather disruptive cooling that is coming next decade. We have a few years to prepare for that in terms of agricultural production.

———————————————————-

Unless we change direction the world is headed for a perfect storm from the chicken-little warm-mongers, i.e., crop land removed from food production to grow fuel accompanied by a shortened growing season due to global cooling. Oil is for fuel, corn is for food. Drill for domestic oil (e.g., ANWR), build more refineries, coal and nuclear plants. The alternative is the deindustrialization of America and rationing of electricity to hospital, schools and homes.


Ethanol policy threatens to starve the world
. Excerpts:

The Earth Policy Institute reports that ethanol-related food protests occurred last year in Mexico, Italy, Pakistan and Indonesia. A price-driven stampede killed three and injured 31 at a supermarket in China. “We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history,” the EPI proclaimed in January. “The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before.”

This problem became five times worse in December [2007] when the new “energy bill” became law. It dictates that Washington will pay a 51-cent-a-gallon subsidy on 36 billion gallons of ethanol each year, up from the previous 7.5 billion gallon limit. Even before this incentive expanded, official U.S. Department of Agriculture reports showed that ethanol was “eating up” 20 percent of the corn grown in America in 2006 – up from 6 percent in 2000 – a figure expected to rise in 2008 to 25 percent.

—————————-

Global Cooling: Amazing pictures of countries joining Britain in the big freeze

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility is a good web site to bookmark and/or place in your RSS feed reader. It covers the Texas political and fiscal landscape by gathering up news from around the state, both positive and negative. The purpose of this non-profit is to “. . . create and sustain a system of strong fiscal stewardship within all levels of Texas government, ensuring the greatest amounts of economic and personal liberty, and promoting public policies that provide individuals with the freedom to use their strengths and talents in pursuit of greater opportunities.”

An ISD Superintendent who recently decried the need to ask voters to approve yet more tax hikes is indicative of the attitude held by some in positions of authority: shut up and pay up. Oh, and don’t debate the pros and cons on a blog either. Heel, boy. Now sit up, now lay down. Now pay your taxes.

Arlington Mayor Clucks On

A blog post at Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, ‘Clucking Hysteria,’ highlights the Arlington Mayor’s abysmal ignorance of environmental issues. Mayor Cluck has been a big global warming supporter and increasing the sales tax cap to build light rail. He is more concerned about the greenie agenda than in stopping vagrants, bums and winos who have repeatedly pounded on the door of our 21-year old daughter’s townhouse door two blocks from UT-Arlington in the last 18 months looking for money or worse. We moved our daughter to a gated apartment community in south Arlington in Jan 2008 to afford her a better level of security while she finishes out her senior year as a marketing and advertising major. So the bums terrify co-eds in Arlington while the Mayor clucks on like Chicken Little in “The Sky is Falling” children’s fable.

From wikipedia entry:

The “moral is not to be a “Chicken Licken”, but to have courage. In other versions the moral is usually interpreted to mean “do not believe everything you are told”. In the latter case, it could well be a cautionary political tale: Chicken Licken jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox uses to manipulate them for his own benefit.”

This is EXACTLY what the ‘warm mongers’ are doing with their global warming campaign, the latest in a long line of discredited scares that never came true.

The NCTCOG wishes to expand their land-use planning into the equivalent of another five counties according to the Star-Telegram on 07Jan08:

“The Metroplex is adding about 1 million residents every seven years, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The region’s population has surpassed that of greater Philadelphia, Detroit and Boston. . . .

“The growth has prompted the council of governments to start thinking seriously about expanding its reach. The agency, the congressionally recognized official planning body for the region, will hold hearings this month on a proposal to extend the metropolitan planning area into all of Wise, Hood and Hunt counties and into previously untouched portions of Johnson, Parker and other counties.

“Regional planners want to influence land-use decisions in those rural areas so suburban growth doesn’t go unchecked, which could lead to even worse traffic and fouler air than we have today. “We’ve got to have the whole region in this land-use relationship, or we’re going to have leapfrog development,” said Michael Morris, the council’s transportation director.”

————————————————————————

Look at the experience of San Jose, CA and Portland, OR to see the type of mess this central planning can bring to pass. The reason the West coast has a housing shortage, excessive housing prices (and subsequent housing melt-down) is due to the greenie ideology of constraining people to small areas of land instead of letting them spread out.

Cato study documenting this situation, “When Government Plans, It Usually Fails

“Some of the worst plans today are so-called growth management plans prepared by states and metropolitan areas. They try to control who gets to develop their land and exactly what those developments should look like, including their population densities and mixtures of residential, retail, commercial and other uses. About a dozen states require or encourage urban areas to write such plans. Those states have some of the nation’s least-affordable housing, while most states and regions that haven’t written such plans mostly have very affordable housing. The reason is simple: Planning limits the supply of new housing, which drives up the price of all housing.

In states with growth management laws, median housing prices in 2006 were typically four to eight times median family incomes. In most states without such laws, median home prices are only two to three times median family incomes. Few people realize that the recent housing bubble, which affected mainly regions with growth management planning, was caused by planners trying to socially engineer cities. Yet it has done little to protect open space, reduce driving or do any of the other things promised. “

Why was Texas spared the worst of the housing bubble repercussions? Because we did not have the Soviet-style central planning of California.

What does NCTCOG want to do? Institute central planning over a wider area in North Texas so the ‘master minds’ can tell us where and how to live, i.e., piled on top of each other.

By the way, NCTCOG is looking for Transportation Planners. If you have cultivated the omniscience needed to plan the daily movements of seven million people this could be your chance.

Portion of the job description reads as follows:

“Sustainable Development – Support land-use initiatives related to the regional transportation system. Develop alternative demographic forecasts and conduct planning activities to support infill and transit-oriented development projects and regional bicycle/pedestrian initiatives.”

“Infill”=pack us tighter

“Transit-oriented”=repeat the mistakes of Portland, Oregon by placing high density housing near non-car transportation

Attend the NCTCOG hearings on their expansion proposal and tell them what happens when centralized land-use planning fueled by a greenie ideology becomes the dominant criteria for where we live.

  • 10 a.m. Jan. 22, Duncanville Community Center, 201 James Collins Blvd.
  • 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22, Fort Worth Southwest Regional Library, 4001 Library Lane.
  • 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Denton North Branch Library, 3020 N. Locust St

Introduction

As I read about city managers taking new positions in various communities (including Keller) it is evident that this is a very important position (equivalent to CEO of COO of a large company). The approach used in the successful restructuring of the New Zealand government provides a rich set of lessons learned and useful practices for a new city manager.

Making Government Accountable in New Zealand

From his bio: Maurice McTigue, a former New Zealand Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister and Ambassador has been part of George Mason University in Virginia since 1997. From 1984 to 1994 Mr. McTigue led an ambitious and extremely successful effort to restructure New Zealand’s public sector and to revitalize its stagnant economy. In a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 1999, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon Mr. McTigue the prestigious Queen’s Service Order, in recognition of his public service. This is one of the highest honors attainable for civil service in New Zealand.

For several years Mr. McTigue has been making speeches around the country to Congressional leaders, state legislatures and other groups. I would encourage interested citizens and public servants to download a 48-minute speech by Mr. McTigue and a 24-minute Q&A session. During the Q&A session he answers specific questions on implementing the approach here in the States and has many insightful anecdotes.

During his speech Mr. McTigue recounts what he did in New Zealand to decrease costs and make government more efficient, while also protecting jobs. My Cliff Notes summary follows.

Three problems were identified in 1984 in New Zealand:

  • too much spending
  • too much taxing
  • too much government

Sound familiar?

They took a very pragmatic approach: what are you getting for the dollars spent? In other words, the metric for a government agency was changed from ‘how did you spend the money and did you spend it in accord with the appropriations?’ to ‘what benefit did the public get in exchange for spending the taxpayers’ money?’ For example, the focus should be on reducing the number of people on welfare not increasing the budget for more welfare recipients.

Many agencies had lost focus of their mission and could not remember what they were supposed to do. Several questions were asked to determine the cause of the three problems instead of just treating symptoms:

  1. What are you doing?
  2. Does it succeed in eliminating the problem?
  3. What should you be doing?
  4. Who should be paying: the taxpayer, the user, the consumer, or the industry? Many times taxpayers were paying for government services that provided no benefits to them and/or were duplicative of the private sector.

The answer to these questions from each agency provided the basis for downsizing or eliminating agencies that were not working well. Too often what happens in government [and I see it in business as well] is that something working well gets less money and somebody or some department screwing up gets more money. This rewards failure and punishes success.

“When we applied [the above approach] to the Ministry of Works, it had 28,000 employees. I used to be Minister of Works, and ended up being the only employee. In the latter case, most of what the department did was construction and engineering, and there are plenty of people who can do that without government involvement. And if you say to me, “But you killed all those jobs!”-well, that’s just not true. The government stopped employing people in those jobs, but the need for the jobs didn’t disappear. I visited some of the forestry workers some months after they’d lost their government jobs, and they were quite happy. They told me that they were now earning about three times what they used to earn-on top of which, they were surprised to learn that they could do about 60 percent more than they used to!” (McTigue, 2004)

Government does not exist to make jobs for people but in supplying services nobody else can do.

“Some of the things that government was doing simply didn’t belong in the government. So we sold off telecommunications, airlines, irrigation schemes, computing services, government printing offices, insurance companies, banks, securities, mortgages, railways, bus services, hotels, shipping lines, agricultural advisory services, etc. In the main, when we sold those things off, their productivity went up and the cost of their services went down, translating into major gains for the economy.” (McTigue, 2004)

New Zealand reduced the size of government by 66 percent over ten years.

Improving Education

The approach New Zealand used to improve the quality of education while reducing costs is very instructive. This could work here if enough concerned citizens demand it.

“New Zealand had an education system that was failing as well. It was failing about 30 percent of its children-especially those in lower socio-economic areas. We had put more and more money into education for 20 years, and achieved worse and worse results.

“It cost us twice as much to get a poorer result than we did 20 years previously with much less money. So we decided to rethink what we were doing here as well. The first thing we did was to identify where the dollars were going that we were pouring into education. We hired international consultants (because we didn’t trust our own departments to do it), and they reported that for every dollar we were spending on education, 70 cents was being swallowed up by administration. Once we heard this, we immediately eliminated all of the Boards of Education in the country. Every single school came under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of the children at that school, and by nobody else. We gave schools a block of money based on the number of students that went to them, with no strings attached. At the same time, we told the parents that they had an absolute right to choose where their children would go to school. It is absolutely obnoxious to me that anybody would tell parents that they must send their children to a bad school. We converted 4,500 schools to this new system all on the same day.

“But we went even further: We made it possible for privately owned schools to be funded in exactly the same way as publicly owned schools, giving parents the ability to spend their education dollars wherever they chose. Again, everybody predicted that there would be a major exodus of students from the public to the private schools, because the private schools showed an academic advantage of 14 to 15 percent. It didn’t happen, however, because the differential between schools disappeared in about 18-24 months. Why? Because all of a sudden teachers realized that if they lost their students, they would lose their funding; and if they lost their funding, they would lose their jobs. Eighty-five percent of our students went to public schools at the beginning of this process. That fell to only about 84 percent over the first year or so of our reforms. But three
years later, 87 percent of the students were going to public schools. More importantly, we moved from being about 14 or 15 percent below our international peers to being about 14 or 15 percent above our international peers in terms of educational attainment.”
(McTigue, 2004)

Competition (for students) made the difference. The Federal, unionized monopoly on government schools in the U.S. is in need of a systemic overhaul similar to what New Zealand did. Parents should run their respective neighborhood school (as a board of regents) as they did in the beginning of our country. They obviously have the greatest interest in the product produced by those schools.

Favorite quote: “There’s something sinister about subsidies. What subsidies do is create dependency. What dependency produces is an inability to be innovative and creative.” [The Clean Fleet money being dangled in front of Keller is a subsidy. It will remove any ability for Keller to be innovative and/or choose an improved technology that may be more effective. When the government, rather than the free market, picks technology winners and losers you shut out future innovation.]

Conclusion

As a new city manager my 90-day action plan would include a canvassing of each department with the following questions:

  1. What are you doing?
  2. Does it succeed in addressing, mitigating or eliminating the problem?
  3. What should you be doing?
  4. Who should be paying: the taxpayer, the user, the consumer, or industry for the service you provide?

These principles will work if leaders maintain focus and don’t back down. In the Q and A session McTigue mentions Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers in 1981 and Margaret Thatcher standing up to the coal unions in the U.K. as the sort of leadership that is needed.

References: