Saturday, September 29, 2012

MONDAY'S ADGENDA

One mystery solved; the resolution to appoint a Temporary Acting CFO (Lisa Marshal who I believe is the City’s Financial Officer) is for only for the period from 9/30/12 through 10/14/12 when the Acting CFO will not be available.
Resolution “G” to Authorize approval to certify review (by Council?) of the 2012 Best Practices Inventory is not routine because the “inventory , an answer to State criteria of fiscal management  is a multipage document in which I believe there are 33 questions about fiscal management in which the city does not follow at least 13. The failures represent the fact that there has been no CFO for most of this administration.
Among the most glaring negative findings :( 1) General Ledger items are not reconciled with bank statements, (2) Grant programs are not reviewed quarterly to see if all expenses are file for reimbursement or have been properly charged. (3)Collective bargaining agreements have not been held to a 2%  average increase,(4) Failure to comply  with accepted practices in insurance broker contracts to have the structure of the broker’s payments defined in contract,,(5) Supervisors do not review employees times and attendance declarations does not make available to public free of charge  current salaries of  all personnel and changes over a  3 year period. There are 8 more significant fasilures that can lead to improper loss of city funds.
The failures noted in the “inventory” which is reported to the State will cause a loss of 20%  of the 5% additional State aid. This is only 1% of total aid but as grandma said “the pennies add up”.
In 2011 a contract by competitive bidding was granted t o C.H.S. Construction CO. (why does the name seem familiar?) for $13,500.00 for “deconstruction” of the [property at 326 Leland Ave.  Item “V” is to authorize an increase of $6 753.00 (50%) due to “material located in a bank vault”!!!! There should be some explanation.
Another item which needs explanation is why Remington etal is being granted an additional $4850.00 over the original $15,000.00 for Topographical services “Arial survey” of area which is basically the flood plain.

SHORTIES

To Fight Crime, a Poor City Will Trade In Its Police

A most interesting NY Times story about Camden which has the reputation of being the most crime ridden city in the USA.   "To Fight Crime, a Poor City Will Trade In Its Police"

Officials in Camden, N.J,. say that their unionized police department is too expensive, so they are disbanding it to free up millions for a nonunionized force to safeguard the city.

Myth #4. The 47 percent vote Democratic.
In the leaked video that went viral this past week, Romney counts the 47 percent as people who will vote for President Obama "no matter what." There is no direct way to match people's tax records and voting habits, so we have only circumstantial evidence on how the 47 percent votes — but they certainly aren't all shoo-ins for Obama.
Let's take low-income and elderly households, which are particularly likely to pay no federal income taxes. Low-income households do tend to vote Democratic — when they vote. But fewer than half of individuals in households with incomes below $30,000 voted in 2008, according to the census, compared with about 60 percent of people with higher incomes. On the other hand, Romney appears to hold a lead over Obama among elderly voters, a group that votes enthusiastically.

Friday, September 28, 2012

FIRST LOOK AT AGENDA

We may need our sleeping bags. Monday's agenda  contains 3 Discussion items, 33 Resolutions, and 2 new ordinances.
..However,9 Resolutions  are either  for liens due to work performed by Public Works or refunds  of performance bonds., and 5 are for tax refunds.  That leaves 19 for some consideration. More about the significant ones  after I can review the  support material.

Missing are any Resolutions from the Corporation Counsel's office and Administration. Surely there is some unfinished business that Administration was responsible and Corporation Counsel usually adds a few at the meeting.

A quick scan  notes two interesting Resolutions; one is to approve authorization for the Temporary appointment of an acting CFO, and the  other is to "Authorize approval to certify review of the 2012 best practices inventory as prepared by the CFO". That is a rather convoluted sentence.

And Myth #3 


3. Many high-income people game the system to pay no income tax.
Our jerry-rigged tax code leaves many Americans with a nagging sense that other people are exploiting loopholes to avoid taxes — and the rest of us have to make up the difference. Sadly, there's an element of truth to that. But gimmickry by high-income taxpayers has essentially nothing to do with who does and doesn't pay income taxes. Our colleagues at the Tax Policy Center estimate, for example, that households with cash incomes of $200,000 or more account for less than 0.1 percent of the 47 percent.
The vast majority of people who pay no federal income tax have low earnings, are elderly or have children at home. They are exempt from the income tax because of features Congress added to the tax code, thanks to bipartisan efforts, to help these groups. For example, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both favored the earned-income tax credit (EITC), which has helped millions of families stave off poverty.
About half of these households don't pay federal income tax simply because their incomes are low. More than one-fifth are retirees who benefit from tax breaks for seniors, including an exemption for most Social Security benefits. And another one-seventh are working families with children whose income tax liability is eliminated because of the child tax credit, the EITC, or the child and dependent care credit. Together, these three groups of taxpayers account for almost 90 percent of the households that pay no federal income tax.
 

STORMY WEATHER

Rainy stormy Friday 28: October is three days away. The regular Baseball season has only 6 days left, and until the postseason no more evenings wasted being frustrated by a bunch of clowns. A month until College Basketball a great spectator sport. The NHL season is in  jeopardy if one cares.

More important,5 more days until the first "Presidential Debate" a must watch. Perhaps our thought process on the election will be stimulated. It is 5 weeks until election day. Time to make judgments by understanding everything you read is not true. Both parties are experts in distorting the truth. In fact  they are firm believers in the Goebbels/Hitler theory  that if you tell the big lie often enough and loud enough people will believe that it is the truth. Talk show  hosts, columnists, and TV anchors are the conduits for their propaganda. 

Fortunately, tonight I should have  Monday's Council agenda and a chanced Saturday to review available background material. That means Sunday and Monday delegated posts and of course a  follow up on the meeting.

As promised ;  The 2nd of the 5 myths:
2. Members of the 47 percent will never pay federal income taxes.
Politicians and commentators often talk about those who don't pay income taxes as though they're in a special club with lifetime membership. In fact, it's a highly diverse group, some of whom move in and out from year to year.
When they first join the workforce, for example, young people may not earn enough to pay federal income taxes. The same is true for many of the temporarily unemployed, working parents and entrepreneurs whose businesses experience a loss. But most of these people look forward to the day, perhaps in just a year or two, when their incomes will rise and they will join or rejoin the 53 percent of Americans who do pay federal income taxes.
The reverse is true for many senior citizens: They may pay no federal income tax in retirement, but most did during their working years.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

THIS AND THAT

Next week will b e  a great week for this blogger. Besides the Council meeting Monday night, and the following Tuesday; there will be the  "Presidential Debate" Wednesday the 3rd.

The Tax Policy Center has published in the Washington Post 5 debunking myths about Romney's 47%. I will extract one for the next five blogs.(Bold face is mine)  The first::
 "1. Forty-seven percent of Americans don't pay taxes.


The most pernicious misconception about people who don't pay federal income taxes is that they don't pay any taxes. That oft-heard claim ignores all the other taxes Americans encounter in their daily lives. Almost two-thirds of the 47 percent work, for example, and their payroll taxes help finance Social Security and Medicare. Accounting for this, the share of households paying no net federal taxes falls to 28 percent.
And those aren't the only other taxes they bear. According to economic research, the corporate income tax discourages domestic investment; that depresses wages, so workers are effectively paying some of the corporate tax. More directly, many households pay federal taxes on gasoline, beer and cigarettes. And then there are state and local sales, property and income taxes — all of which are often less progressive than the federal income tax. Putting all these together, a family of three with an income of $30,000 would owe no federal income tax (in fact, they would get money back). But they could easily pay more than $4,500, or 15 percent of their income, in taxes."

Some personal afterthoughts to yesterday's blog on Israel's History:  A few weeks after the 1973 war ended I had the good fortune to travel with a group to Israel. We not only visited the Sinai up to the canal but also the Golan Heights. I gained an appreciation of why that area was so important to Israel. Imagine standing on the first Watchung Mountain overlooking Plainfield and a clear view for miles  towards the sea.. The Golan Plateau  is higher and a sheer facade over looking the Galilee and its kibbutzs. The Syrians would just take pot shots with mortars and rockets at the civilians working below. One had no warning. (If I can find some of my old pictures I will post).
Within weeks of the  Egyptian/Israel peace treaty Helen and I were in Egypt. One of our tour guides was a Coptic Egyptian woman who could not contain her enthusiasm about the peace treaty and the ending of a shameless loss of life..