The Hard Work Begins

Congratulations to the SCIT campaign, now the hard work begins.

While Ypsilanti has shouted down the tax proposal in a 2-to-1 NO vote, as well it should, its citizens now have a lot of work to do.

Ypsilanti’s citizens have voted to do the hard work now, as opposed to having a greater burden imposed on future generations.

So they need to get busy. With the income tax firmly out of the question, it is now up to Ypsilanti’s best and brightest to come up with a plan for the future that does not increase the tax burden, yet shows a clear path towards prosperity.

Make no mistake about it, things will get worse before they can get any better, but a clear vision that embraces the determination of Ypsilanti’s citizens for a better future will make the short-term pain worth it for the long-term gain.

The stranglehold on power enjoyed by the former mayor has been soundly defeated. Ypsi’s most prominent citizens need to forge a new vision, a new direction forwards that faces the harsh realities of our current situation head-on, and carries its citizens forward into a brighter future.

While I am inclined to hope that the welfare of the whole city is more important than winning or losing a single issue, I have been shocked by the antics of some of the key players in this issue in the past. For this reason all eyes should be on the actions of council to make sure that those who were defeated don’t make life more difficult than it needs to be.

I supported Paul Schrieber on the Parkview issue because I believed he had the best interests of the Parkview tenants at heart.

I opposed Paul Schreiber in the Mayoral campaign because I knew he would support this tax.

I would like to see Mayor Schreiber stand up to be counted, to take this defeat in his stride, and to bring the citizens of Ypsilanti together under a new vision. I would like to believe in Paul’s own desire to represent his city well, to shake off the baggage of the past, and to honor the faith that the citizens of Ypsilanti have invested in him.

Roll your sleeves up, citizens of Ypsilanti, its time to put your shoulders to the wheel, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Take Care



Ypsilanti's What??

Income tax to be defeated

Cross-posted on Astrosage

I have a strong astro-hunch that the city income tax will be soundly defeated tomorrow. Mundane (political outcomes prediction) is not my specialty, though I am researching that field.

My educated hunch, then, is that the tax will be defeated. I think many members of the Mayor’s support base will come out to vote, but will vote no.

I’m not pretending to be impartial on this issue, I have been firmly against it for years.

Ypsilanti faces tough challenges in the housing and business markets, without facing the extra burden of an income tax. It’s a bad idea, there will never be a good time for it in this community.

The cuts that have to be made (with or without the tax) can be made without cutting police and fire services.

The tax is being proposed by the folks who masterminded the Water Street debacle, a sorry blight on Ypsilanti’s landscape that will cost taxpayers 32 million dollars, and is currently home to many derelict buildings, several flocks of geese, and squirrels, groundhogs, and water rats of unknown number.

These are the same people campaigning for Ypsilanti’s future.

These people are well intended, but severely challenged in the delivery department. If Water Street is anything to go by, then Downtown Detroit, Flint, and Hamtramck are going to look prosperous and inviting compared to Ypsilanti’s future under these clowns.

Take Care



The First Round of the income tax battle

Round 1

Ypsilanti hosts dozens of special interest festivals in the course of the year, however the Heritage festival is the ”big one” for the locals… hell even I go to that one and I’m nobody’s socialite.

Well, it seems that the movers and shakers who are peddling the income tax have leaned on the Heritage Festival organizers, and the Stop City Income Tax crew have been stopped from joining the parade.

I haven’t looked into this very deeply, but I know the SCIT folks had received their place (44) and their note of thanks from the Jaycees.

I know that the SCIT folks intended top use a Hybrid vehicle as part of their parade.

The SCIT folks applied for position in the parade with the name “Stop City Income Tax”.

Now, these are the relevant rules of the parade.


7. Units sponsored by or depicting a political or controversial issue will not be permitted in the Parade.
8. No vehicle is permitted to accompany marching units unless authorized by the Parade committee
10. AUTOMOBILES must be antique, or at least twenty-five years old. If you are sending a Queen or Royalty, if you are a politician, if you are a neighborhood group and do not have a float, the transportation for the parade must be in an antique car or truck or fire engine. NO CURRENT AUTOMOBILES WILL BE ALLOWED unless they are pulling a float.

My problem is this.

The organizers of the event have the right to make whatever rules and regulations they want for their event within reason.

They even have the right to enforce those rules how they please, again within reason.

The time to reject the SCIT proposal on either political or vehicular grounds was when the SCIT folks applied for it.

It is really bad form for the Heritage Festival committee to give these folks a place, and then pull the pin at the last minute. It is small-minded, petty, not to mention rude, and ignorant to do so. If the person who approved the application in the first place was in error, then the committee needs to live with its error.

It would seem that, in first allowing the SCIT folks to think they had a place, and then dismissing their hard work and preparation out-of-hand, the Herritage Festival Committee have expressed a strong political opinion in favor of the tax…

And I thought rule 7 was supposed to avoid all that? …. Silly me …

As usual, Ypsilanti’s movers and shakers get to set a double-standard which espouses equality and free speech on paper, but serves a very specific political agenda in reality.

I can’t believe Ypsi’s citizens are still eating this crap.

Wasn’t that what the Boston Tea Party was all about? Doing away with the influence of a few to impose higher taxes and increased burdens on the masses?

Maybe the next SCIT adventure should be a “Tea Party” at Farmer Meadows (Water Street)...

While round 1 officially goes to the Campaign for Ypsilanti’s Future, (the pro-tax group) for stopping the SCIT parade run, I think they have just cost themselves a lot of support in the long term.

Take care



Income Tax- the final showdown

The Battle Royal

Yawn...stretch...blink…blink… somebody say fight?

So it’s official, we now have two organized camps to re-hash and re-debate the city income tax.

If you have made up your mind about the tax, you will obviously be persuaded by the eloquence of your favoured camp. If not, then you might want to read this.

The question comes down to a matter of trust. Who do you believe? More importantly, but less frequently asked, why should you believe them?

The only reason to believe any of them is if they are heading in a direction you want to go.

In my world, “lips moving” is a sure sign that a politician is twisting the facts. It is true on both sides of any debate, it is true on both sides of the larger political arena, and it is true in most units of government.

The basic question, then, is not about truth or personal integrity, but about direction. Is [name the person] taking our city in a direction I want to go?

The two directions are these.

For the tax: A fear based campaign based on the ability to maintain services. In a nutshell, if you don’t give us the tax we will cut your police and fire services, blight will increase, as will insurance costs.

Against the tax: A hard-nosed campaign based on the inability of the tax to provide services in the long term. Basically, the tax cannot preserve existing services for more than 5 of the 6 years it will supposedly be in place for. With Water Street included in the budget, that is more like 2 years.

What the "for tax" camp is not saying is that, after 2 years (thanks to Water Street), we will have to make the same cuts in services with the same "dire" outcomes.

What the "against tax" camp is not saying is that the increased revenue stream makes the cuts (and the impact of Water Street) less drastic.

What the "for tax" camp is not saying is that, once their "temporary" tax is in place, the city will not be able to be solvent without it. There is nothing temporary about it. If you buy the idea that we need it in the first place, you will buy the idea that we can't continue without it.

The "for tax" camp also fails to address the impact on housing and business that the tax has. Its presence on the agenda has stalled housing markets in the city for years already. It fails to address how it is that the poorest community in the county is soon to have the highest tax rate-and for what extra services are we paying such a premium?

OK, so what ARE the facts that we can glean from the bologna?

The city is in poor financial shape.

The Blue Ribbon Committee on City Finances tells us the city is being well run. (Basically, the “well run” assessment means there is no obvious graft or corruption… I asked at the time).

The city cannot maintain services at current levels, with or without the tax.

There’s really not much more to it. Do we buy a couple of years of services, or do we begin to cut now?

For my money, we should bite the bullet and cut services, all the while working to make the best use of the resources we have. I expect we can trim some jobs in city hall without sacking firefighters and police officers.

Adding the tax gives the architects of Water Street (Farmer Meadows? … goose-poop acres?) a “new credit card”, paid for by the blood-sweat and tears of the rest of us. I don’t feel that the City Manager, Mayors past or present, or most of the city council have proven themselves responsible enough to handle the credit card without getting us into much deeper doo-doo.

The city’s fiscal situation is a mess. Water Street has compounded that mess many fold. Throwing money at it didn’t help before, it is not going to help now. The city manager has to start managing his departments in a way that IS sustainable and the good folks of Ypsilanti are going to have to live with it.

The addition of an extra tax burden does nothing to help the growth of our city, and cuts can be made that don’t affect police and fire.

In essence, the city needs to elect officials who are prepared to do the hard things necessary to achieve viability, rather than to continue to spend money we don’t have in the vain hope that the economy will turn around.

The bottom line - Do you want to pay more tax or not?

Its going to be difficult without the tax, its going to be difficult with the tax. The end result will be much the same either way.

Either way, there are drastic cuts to be made.

Either way, Water Street will draw heavily on the city’s coffers for the foreseeable future.

Either way, the people of Ypsilanti will have to roll their sleeves up and work their way out of this mess.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Take Care



"Interesting Times"


I have had plenty else to focus on of late, so Ypsi politics has taken a back seat for a while.

As some of you maybe aware, I have just started an astrology blog where I will be making general predictions for the district based on the full and new moons. These are not the sort of thing to bet the house on, but rather a general comment on community attitudes and the issues that are going to be on many minds over any two week period.

I just learned that a bunch of ypsi residents is issuing a recall election order on four city council members. (I told you I’ve been out of the loop!!). I knew the idea was being tossed around a few weeks ago, and I expressed my loathing for such actions. Then my life took my attention to other matters and I didn’t hear any more. I’ve been too busy to read the local papers and blogs, and so here I am, mostly in the dark.

The astrology favors grass roots support for major issues and suggests an open attack on the city for an act of oblivious mismanagement. The speech that launches the attack will be hard-hitting, cold, and full of dry facts.

I believe this will be the period that the good folk of Ypsilanti finally “get it” about water street and about the “head in the sand” approach taken by previous administrations.

I expect the backlash to take the leadership by surprise. The winner of this fight will be the party who can muster the anger of the people. I think the recall petition will gain a lot of strength under this moon.

The city will be stirring up its support base to sure up its position.

The climate is right for the community to get really angry over this one.

It has been my experience, however, that folks in this community enjoy attacking one another far more than they enjoy getting to the bottom of anything.

I have fanned a few of those fires, and I have no intention of fanning another.

Have at it folks.

Take Care



The Grumpy Old Men

Well that was fun…..

As I have said, I frequent the conservative debates because I find them interesting, entertaining, and often informative.

In a momentary lapse of reason, “yours truly” became the consensus nominee to fill Peter Fletcher’s position as moderator.

Yep, you heard right, Rodney “Left of Lenin” Smith moderating the conservative debate.

I find it amusing to be referred to as a left-winger in this country.

In Australia I hold a “middle ground” position with some sympathetic leanings to the left. My Labor Party friends are decidedly to my left, my Liberal Party (conservative- go figure) friends are decidedly to my right, and I would weigh the issues argument by argument to take my own stance.

The same position here puts me firmly in the left, and many of my democratic friends have positions well to the right of my own. I guess the difference is that I believe firmly in socialized medicine, the necessity of the trade-union movement (though it is often a necessary evil), the integral benefits of a living wage, and a solid social security net.

These are “middle ground” positions where I come from, the left and right arguments determine how these fundamentals should be administered.

Now to another misnomer… the conservative debate is actually not quite so conservative. It is certainly moderated by Peter Fletcher (a well known, and delightfully eloquent conservative in these parts) and it is probably the only regular gathering of conservatives in the (extremely liberal) county. It is true that the conservative position is always represented, but there are some notable liberals in regular attendance, and their voice receives a fair airing.

Politicians from all camps frequent the place, but the part I enjoy most is being able to discuss real issues with real people, some with whom I agree, and some with whom I don’t. There are folks on both sides of the political fence who hold indefensible positions in my opinion.

I won’t name names or quote speeches, because part of the gathering’s charm is that folks can be themselves without having every word scrutinized by the press.

I have earned a modest reputation as a smart-alec heckler in the group. I love to pepper the conversation with apropos (and sometimes non-apropos) “one liners” to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously. I pick and choose the topics I actually weigh in on, and like anyone else, I am heard out and often debated.

I have learned a great deal about American politics by attending these debates, and in a strange way, I have learned a lot about Australian politics as well.

It has become abundantly clear to me how elections are swayed by opinion, rather than by reason, in this country and my own.

You see, it doesn’t matter how defensible a position is. Reason is for those who concern themselves with such things. Political opinion begins with a plausible premise, reinforces it with an overly-simplistic analogy, attaches one of several emotive “catch cries” to it, and then proclaims itself sound reason. I am constantly amazed how little analysis folks do of an opinion before they espouse it, and how many eloquent and notable people dispense such hyperbole on a regular basis for the masses to lap up.

I watch this happen time and again, and well-intended folks rally to a cause that has little base in either fact or sound reason.

My wife and son have come to refer to this meeting as “The Grumpy Old Men”, so if you spot such a reference in the future, you know what I’m talking about.

Take Care



"The Secret" -in the balance

I finally had a look at “the Secret” the other day, and was somewhat underwhelmed. Billed as a thread of knowledge that has permeated the great minds of philosophy and science, you can imagine my let-down to be greeted by “Norman Vincent Peale meets the Celestine Prophecy”.

I think the thing that undoes it for me is that they give one-line quotes from some of the greatest minds in Western and Eastern thought without doing a single scrap of work to establish the source of the quote, let alone what it meant within its original context.

In other words, they quote great minds in the same manner that an evangelist might quote scripture, and like the evangelist, our “teachers” expect to be taken at their word.

In short, it is academically lazy and chock-a-block full of positive thinking pep talk. I had hoped that the authors might have attempted to string their affirmations together with something more enlightening than “great achievers are deeply focussed on their goals.”

On the positive side, the “law of attraction” they espouse actually has a lot of merit. It is the principle wherein we tend to manifest whatever is foremost in our thoughts. Visual cues take precedence over academic ones, and the intensity of “belief” takes precedence over empty repetition. We are conditioned to find negative thoughts more believable than positive ones, and with a bit of deliberate thought, we can reverse that trend and change our lives. Its pretty basic really, but we do need to be told, so I guess this presentation does that much.

In my experience, the “law of attraction” is one of several metaphysical laws that can be studied in depth by any student of the great metaphysical and religious disciplines. It is only “secret” because we tend to be intellectually lazy. I find it ironic that the post-modern era and the “information age” are co-existent with a pandemic that is best characterized by intellectual sloth. “The Secret” is actually hidden in plain sight.

Affirmation is a useful tool in good hands, but like any tool it leaves itself open to abuse. If you don’t use it properly, it won’t work well. Affirmation and visualization should be used as part of a larger metaphysical model, lest the hapless practitioner visualize and affirm their way into abject misery, a principle simply summed up by the old adage “be careful what you wish for”.

For $4.95, the refresher course in "attraction" is probably good value for money. Certainly the information us useful to those who have never encountered the concept.

My only real criticism of the presentation is that it is overly materialistic in its emphasis, which says a great deal more about its sponsors and its target audience, than it does about the quality of information it carries.

One would hope that the “teachers of the secret” take their students through a broader metaphysical training than the one they espouse in the presentation.

There is a free viewing here if you, like me, are simply curious about what these folks are peddling.

In summary, intellectually lazy and materialistic in focus, but nevertheless a reasonable refresher course in “the law of attraction” that is better taken as part of your greater metaphysical model than as a stand-alone.

Take Care