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Monday, November 30, 2009

Uh-Oh! Obama and Dems Talking About Jobs Again

In Washington the White House and Congressional Democrats are working on another spending spree that is meant to create jobs in 2010. Given their inability to understand the $787 billion "stimulus package" passed in February the American taxpayer, and worker, has cause for concern. You remember the stimulus package, it was supposed to limit unemployment to 8% (now over 10%) create or save millions of jobs (three and half million jobs lost since its passage) and help our economy recover.

It appears the Obama Administration and Democrats cannot remember what they passed since the bill was set up for almost none of the $787 billion to be spent in 2009. The spending from the stimulus package was meant to begin in 2010, to coincide with re-election plans in November and maintaining the majority in both Houses. Further, over $540 billion of the funds are not scheduled for expenditure until 2011. Ooops.

It is now evident that the severity of the economy was misjudged and perhaps more of the funds from the bill should have been spent this year. At the time the timeline was to inject some funds before the 2010 midterm elections and then have the bulk of the funding hit in 2011 so by the 2012 elections, including one for President, the economy will have recovered and Congress and Obama could point to the spending as being the cause.

Now looking at the political and economic landscape, the House Democrats up for re-election in 2010 are pressuring the White House to do something so they can pump more money sooner into their Congressional Districts before unemployed voters go to the polls and vote them out. Not willing to wait for the money already scheduled to be spent in 2010, some are worried their constituents (and by that we do not mean voters do we?) will be out of work, furloughed or otherwise facing reduced paychecks and with those reduced checks comes reduced support.

From a Press-Telegram article on the jobs issue here are some statements from Congressional Democrats showing how out of touch they really are:

The stimulus boosted employment but "did it in a way that was not as highly visible as a lot of people would like," said Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, one of the House members devising the jobs bill. "It did so in somewhat of a scattershot approach - a job here and a job there, trickled out over time. ..."

Ms. Sutton, it is not high visibility people want but actual jobs. When doling out pork the results tend to be scattershot, a skate park here, a walking path there, raises and not jobs over there...

"I hope we don't play around the edges with this and we do what will work. Invest the money now," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.

$787 Billion is playing around the edges? But when you voted for and passed the bill Obama said it would create millions of jobs, that's not the edges.

"The American people have an anger about the growth of the deficit because they're not getting anything for it," she (Speaker Nancy Pelosi) said in a conference call.

No, we are angry about the deficit because we are having to pay for it, and we will not get anything for it today or tomorrow. It appears her approach is give something to everyone out of the public trough and we will be happy. Typical politician trying to find the price point when buying votes. This works for special interests, like unions and fellow government employees, but it fails for most Americans who think beyond today when they vote.

The one line in the article that really showed how limited the group intellect and how narrow-minded the thinking is in Washington was this:

"House members also are considering a plan to funnel aid to state and local governments with the assurance the money would be used to preserve jobs."

Whose jobs would they be preserving? State and local governments that are cash strapped and facing huge deficits need to cut spending, the number one expense as with any business is salaries and benefits. By giving a one time shot of cash to a state or city to "preserve jobs" are we putting off the inevitable correction to budgets for one year, and adding another year of future benefit payments? This is a direct payment to government employees, the only organized labor sector that has grown in the past decade, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat, and who would be able to keep their jobs until the 2010 elections.

Let's review the attack on jobs and businesses thus far from the 111th Congress with encouragement and support from the Obama White House. Keep in mind two things: first, businesses, particularly small businesses, employ the overwhelming majority of Americans--they also lay off the majority of unemployed workers; second, our economy is Consumer-centric, with consumer spending responsible for approximately 70% of our economic activity. Fewer jobs means fewer consumers means fewer businesses able to stay in business--and hire workers.

The stimulus package was passed and added $787 billion to the budget and deficit. The funds are primarily targeted to public works, which puts most of the funds through government bureaucrats which leads to inefficiencies and loss of funds as it trickles down to the job site; as well disproportionate amounts of funding go to public works contracts not with private contractors but with public employees--keeping those jobs on city, county and state payrolls and budgets.

Congress tried, and thankfully thus far has failed, to pass Cap and Trade. A massive tax burden on American businesses meant to prevent "global warming." News is coming out that much of the scientific study has been skewed and the books cooked to prevent dissenting views and research on the subject from coming to light. The Cap and Trade bill would increase taxes on American businesses hundreds of billions of dollars with no return. It would lead to job losses in the United States as manufacturers take even more jobs out of the country.

The Senate and House are working on massive health care bills that if passed will increase taxes across the board for health care insurance, medical devices (virtually everything you buy for health and personal care from tampons to toothbrushes), employers and individuals. More taxes means less money to spend on other items, such as microwaves and bicycles, which dampens further the economic engine of America.

My reaction to the Democrats and White House working towards another jobs bill is that we will end up with another couple of hundred billion dollars in spending with them looking for who to pay for the tab. You can bet that whoever gets stuck with the attendant tax bill are those who are currently employing millions of Americans, or have the ability to hire as many if they had the funds to do so.

If they are serious about creating jobs they need to get over their "the rich must pay" rhetoric, quit defining "middle class" as their union supporters, and enact tax incentives for businesses and consumers. After the Bush tax cuts in 2000 the annual revenue to the U.S. Treasury from tax collection increased every year until 2008. Making those cut permanent and adding marginal cuts across the board will put money back on the balance sheets of small businesses, increase disposable income for the American consumer and boost the economy as spending and hiring slowly increase.

Unfortunately Congressional Democrats and members of the Obama Administration think they can spend money more wisely and efficiently than the average American, who evidently cannot be trusted with their own financial decisions. Unfortunately they have no sense of history, economics or memory as to what bills and spending packages they have already passed.

Bad news for the American worker and economy, the people who brought us Stimulus I are working on Stimulus II.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday November 21, 2009 here are some questions I have had:

Is your charitable giving 2009 more, less or the same as 2008? Than 2007?

Two toppings on a pizza?

Gravy with or without giblets?

What do you do to clear a creative block?

Is life too short to hold a grudge or too long to hold a grudge?

Is “just pass something” acceptable?

How is unauthorized “street art” any different than graffiti or vandalism?

What word do you most commonly and consistently misspell and get corrected by SpellCheck?

What website do you visit, however often, that seems to have the most loony commenters—almost always with pseudonyms?

Going Rouge?

How much is the revenue from bail every year?

Do you think the Obama and Democrats from Congress “job summit” will lead to higher taxes on businesses?

First dish you went to for seconds?


Is the couple sneaking into the White House State Dinner more of a concern or a laugh?

USC or UCLA, who do you want to win (not who do you think will win)?

Best place to travel for Thanksgiving if it is not in your home?

Do you go shopping on Black Friday?

Is it more important to be right or to be friends?
Do the leaked/purloined emails showing GlobalWarmist scientists used coercion and deceit to prevent alternative studies from being included in media accounts and scientific papers change your view on the issue?

What if the “jobs summit” creates more spending to save jobs in city, county and state governments, how does that sit with you?

After the Christmas shopping season which major retailer will call it quits?

Favorite Thanksgiving leftover meal/snack?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers? Click on the comments button below and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Last November was challenging to say the least. Professionally I was mired in a hole that would continue to deepen for several more weeks, though at the time I was unaware of it. Naturally the pressure of business creeps into other areas of our life. As the calendar pages turned deeper into the year my emotions and concerns followed. Deeper and deeper I sank.

Looking for positives I changed my focus and marketing efforts to seek new business. Looked at the check book and credit card statements to discover what we could, needed, to cut out of our budget. Challenged myself to daily find where I could push myself and my business to keep going and make it through another week and month.

Stress was redefined for me. As the end of November crept up I began to experience fear for the first time in my life, not for myself and my physical well being; but rather for my family and also for my mental and emotional well being. How long, how much work and effort, how many days, until we would start to see positive traction in business? When would the fall stop and the leveling out begin? What level would be level?

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. As I age and hopefully gain more wisdom I appreciate more and more that with which I am blessed. To have a day specifically set aside for thanksgiving, for reflection on what we do have in our lives rather than what we do not, to not only reflect on our fortunes but also to give thanks to those which bring those riches to our lives, to not just give thanks to others but gratitude to God for placing our lives together. I appreciate more today the American tradition of Thanksgiving arising from early settlers of our nation who despite being surrounded by illness and death, starvation and fear, sat down to give Thanks to God, to share what bounty they had with others who taught them how to survive, how to succeed in the new land where they found themselves. I am in awe of a small group of people casting off from their native land to venture to an unknown land so that they may establish their own community, one where they are free to worship as they choose and not as someone chooses for them. Today more than ever I am more understanding of their gratitude on so many levels as they sat down with their neighbors, saviors, for a meal the purpose of which was to give thanks. Despite all the hardship, the loss, the fear and likelihood that many would not survive the coming months of harsh winter, fear that while the native Indians they have come to know have helped them others wish to bring them harm, uncertainty of so much unknown, despite all of this they gave thanks for what they had--they were still alive and they were still able and active in their Worship.

What happens when your worship seems to be failing, or if not failing at least not showing any signs of stopping continued failure? Where does one go when this is what you feel is happening? This is something the Pilgrims must have faced, and what many Americans face today. This is what I was facing last year as Thanksgiving and then Christmas neared and appeared. Daily I would pray and meditate and set to my affirmations. For myself that I am healthy and complete as God intended and strong emotionally and physically to provide for myself and my family. For my business that I am a successful and prosperous mortgage broker with an abundance of clients who I am able to assist in obtaining home ownership and their financial goals. For my wife that she is healthy and happy, daily finding fulfillment and gratification in her efforts and endeavors. For my daughters that they are healthy and happy learning each day as they express and receive love, kindness and respect.

It is hard to be grateful when there is lack and scarcity. It is difficult to look at the prospects ahead when mired in the now of fear. It is challenging to continue to have Faith and Commitment when the path thus far has led into a darker forest.

No matter the numbers I am cooking as if we have a houseful. I love making the Thanksgiving meal, obviously turkey--grilled; cornbread sausage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, big rolls, vegetables, gravy (and apple barbecue sauce), pumpkin cheesecake and apple pie. I start looking forward to and thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner right after Halloween. I love it.

Last year we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Just the four of us. Looking at my daughters in their pretty dresses and the lovely smile on Leslie's face all negative thoughts and concerns were pushed back. After dinner we played "I am thankful for...." and went around the table with each of us saying one thing and not allowed to repeat what someone else has said. We went around and around. Listening I laughed as I heard how the young are thankful for so many things that would seem trivial to us. But their is no trivial when giving thanks. That is what the lesson of gratitude really is, there is nothing trivial if you are thankful.

As I look back on the past year and the slow growth in business activity and the slow leveling off of the hole digging and the very slow filling back in of the hole. As I look back on where I was emotionally and spiritually a year ago to where I am today I see a year of lessons and much for which to be grateful.

I am so grateful I kept my course with my communication with God. Grateful for Reverend Peggy's messages delivered to a congregation but seemingly addressing me. Grateful so much for Leslie's quiet understanding and encouragement to me to keep up my spiritual work and effort. Grateful that when it would have been easiest to say, "enough this is bunk, look where I am and where I am going" I said instead, "I have faith and trust in God, but I need to continue to do my part to manifest what His plan is for me." That rather than blaming others and looking for reasons not to succeed in turning around my anxiety, fear and feeling of scarcity and lack, I turned inward and looked at where I am successful, where I have abundance and for that which I am grateful.

This Thanksgiving will be different than last. We will be grateful to be sharing our table with Leslie's mother and her sister and family. Our small family will recognize our part in a bigger family. This Thanksgiving while reflecting on what I have to be thankful for this past year I will be offering tremendous gratitude to those who have believed in me, supported me, lifted me and inspired me to continue my course and maintain my commitment to my beliefs and spirituality.

Our faith and gratitude are never tested when success and abundance are easy and readily at hand. I am thankful for the lessons of the past few years that have shown me what gratitude truly is. My fear today is where I would be had I given up that faith and failed to be grateful for what I do have rather than complain about what I do not.

I am grateful, thank you God.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"You Have The Right To Remain Silent. Anything You Say..."

To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. Mission Statement, Department of Justice website.

On November 13th, a Friday when President Obama was touring Asia, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was bringing "alleged" 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other from Guantanamo Bay detention facilities to New York City to face trial in American civil courts for their roles in the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. While I am not pleased with this decision, the decision itself pales in comparison to the statements and comments made subsequent to the announcement by the Attorney General. Reflecting on the mission statement above here are comments made by Holder to members of the media and on Capitol Hill.

On the News Hour with Jim Lehrer the day of the announcement the following exchanges:

After answering that in making the decision he, Holder, consulted with people at the Department of Justice and Department of Defense, and others, Holder was asked by Lehrer:

JIM LEHRER: Did you run it by President Obama?
ERIC HOLDER: Just informed him of the decision.

Holder goes on to explain that the President "believes the President should have hands off the Justice those things that are in the province of the Attorney General all he needs is to be informed."

Really. The President of the United States, Chief Executive of the United States Government, believes that the Attorney General can operate independently of the White House and counsel from the President? Is this in all cases or just ones that are extremely controversial politically? Is this to protect the Attorney General or the President? Later in the interview Holder says he spoke to his wife and his brother about the decision (his brother is retired from the Port Authority of New York). On the one hand you have your boss, who happens to be President of the United States and an attorney who, as we were reminded throughout 2008, is also a Constitutional Law professor, on the other you have your boss and big brother. One is given a phone call aboard Air Force One and being told what is going to happen, the other two have discussions about the impact of such a decision.

Further in the interview:

JIM LEHRER: Well, Mohammed was water-boarded, was he not?

On March 2, 2009 in a speech before the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum Holder said, "As I unequivocally stated in my confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate, waterboarding is torture." So the Attorney General states publicly he believes waterboarding is torture, admits KSM was tortured and now is going to prosecute him using statements that were revealed while being, in Holder's opinion, tortured. I know several attorney read this blog, help me with how this plays before a judge following our Constitution.

Further in that March 2009 speech, Holder also speaks of Obama's Executive Orders establishing inter-agency task forces to deal with the Guantanamo detainees and their prosecution or release. To follow, Obama establishes task forces and then allows the head of Justice to make unilateral decisions within the Executive Orders of the White House.

There are many sides to this upcoming trial. Among them are when were KSM and friends read their Miranda Rights, you know them, personally they were drilled into me as a child watching Kojak, Baretta, Adam-12, S.W.A.T. and other cop shows. We know that many a criminal has been kicked loose from prosecution because when apprehended and questioned he was not read his rights, or "Mirandized." Because KSM and the gang were picked up in a war by soldiers they were never Mirandized, so have they been now? Does evidence obtained before 2009 get to be entered in the court?

What happens if they are kicked loose because of our legal system and protecting the rights of the accused and the presumption of innocence? What of our President's declaration on Fox that he is confident the trial in New York would end in convictions and the execution of Mohammed and his co-defendants? Does that somehow inhibit the ability of the defendants to receive a "fair trial?" If Obama was merely informed of the decision to bring the Guantanamo 5 to New York for trial, and he was travelling around Asia when the announcement was made, how can he be confident in their prosecution and subsequent execution?

What has really pushed me on this issue however is the statements made by Attorney General Holder in Congress last week before the Judiciary Committee in questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham (video here of exchange). The head of our our Justice Department, the person who is supposed to ensure all work at the Department of Justice adheres to the mission statement above, when asked what happens if the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden, is captured on a battlefield tomorrow. What is the captain, major, general who captures him supposed to do and when is going to be read his rights?

"That all depends."

So the head of Justice has no idea what happens if the person most wanted by the Justice Department, and everyone else, is captured? Shouldn't there be a policy and procedure manual "What to do when we capture Osama bin Laden?"

I am unsure if Eric Holder is competent is fulfilling his position of Attorney General and is bending backwards and sideways to protect his boss, Barack Obama; or if Eric Holder is incompetent and unable to understand the chain of command and operates without consulting the Administration and Obama. Either he exemplifies an Administration in over its head in running a country, or he exemplifies an incompetence within the Administration to effectively appoint and manage Department Secretaries and others.

Either way I am not feeling too confident about the ability of this Justice Department to effectively prosecute, and execute, the Guantanamo 5 and other terrorists captured by United States Military forces.

Remember the mission, " ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday November 14, 2009 here are some questions I have had:

I wonder, what would it be like to live where everyone, or a very large majority of everyone, thought as I do and shared my views and opinions?

Will Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed get a court appointed attorney?

If plastic bags become illegal what will I use to pick up Harrison poop?

Greater finisher Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan?

Does the New York Times firing 25 editors and moving duties to Florida paper in their chain because the department there is non-union and cheaper disallow them from any pro-union editorials in the future?

Do you Google yourself?

Raquel Welch or Sophia Loren?

Did Obama’s people allow Fox News to cover his speech in China on Free Speech?

Are red and green wrapping paper in a school a violation of church and state?

If plastic bags become illegal will they walk my paper up to the porch to avoid sprinklers (Mon/Thur/Sat only!), dew and rain?

Does it seem to you that people who profess to welcome open communication usually don’t?

Are you excited the Gatlin Brothers are back with a new CD?

I keep seeing announcements from various entities for H1N1 vaccinations for those “at risk”, isn’t every at risk of getting the flu and this strain?

Is Netflix the number one pop-up on news websites?

What bothers you more in your neighborhood the slow moving car with the thumping loud music or the speeder flying down the street?

Louisiana Senator Landrieu had her vote for the Senator Harry Reid’s Health Care bill bought for $100,000,000; how much will it cost Reid to buy the votes of other Democrats who oppose the measure?

Halibut or Swordfish?

What book are you reading? Any good?

Guess the decade/time frame: Wearing Members Only Jacket, Sperry Topsiders and a Polo with upturned collar your friend asks, “Where’s the beef?”

Travelling or hosting Thursday?

Have you entered the poll on favorite sidedish on the left margin?

Do you cook or clean?

After family, friends, country, God, etc, be selfish, what are you most thankful for?

How does doubling costs to Medicaid/Medical, paid for by broke states, advance national health care?

Form or function?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers? Click on the comments button below and let us know what you think.

Student Tuition Hikes Avoidable

Long Beach, Fresno, Los Angeles, Berkley, Pomona, were just a few of the cities where students walked out of classes and protested tuition hikes in the UC and Cal State systems. Students, professors and staff grabbed signs and chanted outside Chancellor's offices and Trustee meetings demanding more money for education in California. The students don't think it is right that in the State's budget there is less money for the UC/Cal State campuses and because Sacramento is providing less funding for operations students will have to pay higher fees for their classes and other activities. Professors and staff protested the tuition hikes and their furloughs which cut their pay. Everyone wants more money from Sacramento.


Hearing about, reading about and watching these protests I did not know whether to be bored or amused by the irony involved. The campuses of our fine universities and colleges in California are not sprinkled with they are laden with unions that blindly support the Democratic status quo in our Assembly and Legislature, classes are led by an overwhelming majority of professors who make Nancy Pelosi and State Senator Alan Lowenthal look like Sarah Palin and John McCain by political comparison. Eight years of trying to indoctrinate students against George Bush and Republicans has done its job in California. Generations of students have protested against conservative speakers on campus, Republican politicians and revelled in their Che Guevera and Mao t-shirts. They have worked for, voted for and enabled an Assembly and Senate in Sacramento that is overwhelmingly Democrat and overwhelmingly fiscally liberal.

They are protesting the consequences of their own political activity, support and ballots, and they are wasting their time and energy on these protests.

Why are they wasting time and energy? Not atypical of many lessons taught on campuses that cover theory but not reality, the protests are directed at the wrong portions of the education community. By rallying around the offices of Chancellors, Presidents, Trustees the protesters are chanting at those who have no choices in their budget decisions at this point. Their operating funds are tied up by Sacramento cutting their budgets. It is very de rigueur to protest the salaries of Administrators, but why not go after the tenured salaries of professors, many of whom expend considerably less effort for more many than many in the Administration buildings? But I'm off point. The energy is directed at on campus administrators and off campus Trustees after the funds have already been cut by Sacramento--what are they to do? Sure there could be better budgeting within the systems, but with the cuts from Sacramento their choices are very limited and most have minimal impact compared to fee hikes.

Instead of protesting on campus the students, who were supposed to have been brought into political action in our last election, should understand the power they have. No where is there a greater concentration of political power than on a university campus. Ten, fifteen, twenty thousand potential voters all with a common purpose? Those numbers win elections, but only if exercised.

There is no quick solution for the current generation of students on the campuses of California's community and state colleges and universities. They will face more cuts in classes and services and increases in fees and tuition for the next several years as California's budget continues to deteriorate. Already the state is twenty-one billion dollars in the whole for the coming year, and nothing is being done to correct it. Being the fiscal geniuses they are the Democrats in Sacramento are blaming the deficits on voters for rejecting the tax propositions 1A-E and refusing to accept their decade of increasing spending as the reason. With their mindset we are no closer to solving our budget crisis today than we were a year ago, or two years ago. So out of touch are our elected "representatives" that they celebrated a water usage bill that will ask the voters to vote for yet another bond of several billion dollars adding more interest expense to the budget.

The student protests bore me because I know that they have no effect and I know that they are essentially hollow protests made for show. A small group of students and professors with the assistance of on campus union leaders have coerced huge crowds to show up to demonstrate against people who have no impact on their issue. They are made to show the Democrats who control the budget process that they can impact votes so they better listen up and payback some of that support. Look for better contracts soon for the bargaining units on the campuses (see prison guards, SEIU, etc).

If the students, the ones impacted by the loss in classes and education opportunities, the ones forced to take out more and bigger loans to pay the inflated costs of their education, the ones shelling out more money for tuition and activities fees, if they are serious they can do something about the situation. With their votes in 2010 these students can alter the face of politics in California and create a long term path to correct our politicians spending and budgeting systems. As a voting block they can single handedly change California from a tax and spend state that steals money from education to payback state and public workers for their support in elections to a state that has long term budget plans, reduces the impact and influence of unions and brings control back to the voter.

First they need to vote against any incumbent on any ballot that has voted for any of the past four budgets in Sacramento--this will take some research but that is what students do.

Second they need to support the Citizens for California Reform initiative for a part-time Legislature.

If the students truly want to have an impact on their future and the education of future generations, they need to look beyond the targets laid easily in front of them for their protests and find the root cause of the problems they are facing. It all starts with a primary election and then a general election. If they are citizens of California they have the ability to shape and impact their future and the future of our State. But for it to be effective they need to use the analytical tools and critical thinking they are supposed to be learning on their campuses and not just blindly follow those who wish to lead them into supporting the status quo.

Or they can continue to carry their signs and make empty protests against those who have not created nor will perpetuate the budget problems that impact them. Unless they exercise their political power the students might as well get used to hikes in fees (taxes) and reductions in services from our State government.

Hikes in fees are avoidable but only if the students show they are as smart with their ballots and political acumen as they were on their SATs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creating Unemployment: Squeezing America's Economic Engine

I don't think our company, Stratis Financial, is much different than many companies in America. A few guys were dissatisfied with their existing employer, had no stake in the company or its future, a few issues came to a head soon everyone was looking to go somewhere else. Meeting to talk about our woes, one person says, "I'm looking into just renting a small space and going it alone." Pretty soon we were engaged in what would be needed to start a company where we all had a stake. A few months later we opened with leases for space and furniture. We financed computers, and took out equity loans on our homes to capitalize. We made personal guarantees on our financial agreements and also with our vendors. We were personally risking our personal savings, equity and credit because we believed in our vision and each other.

Finally ready and opening our doors in two locations we had four people on payroll that had to be paid on the 15th and 31st of every month. We went four months before any of us took any commissions for ourselves, continually returning our earnings from our sales back into the company. Our wives supported our vision and made sacrifices at home. We struggled but we slowly continued to grow.

We had a boom period that we used to pay debt down and off, update and upgrade equipment and technology, invest in our company. This was followed by a slow leak and then a complete bust. But we knew the drill, we tightened our belts, re-arranged some schedules and worked hard to ensure minimal impact on our staff and their families. We again used equity lines to capitalize the company and ensure operating funds. We struggled, but we kept our doors open and our staff kept their jobs. With the slow business we would have been justified in restructuring, laying people off, closing an office, consolidating. But we love the people we work with, the have pictures or our children mixed with pictures of their own. We are a family, we look out for each other. We struggle, we try to minimize their struggle.

Now we are growing again, because we struggled and stayed open we are attracting people who want to work with us instead of their current companies--if they are still open. But we are not rushing into growth. We are slow and steady and making sure everyone fits. Our over riding motto in bringing people into our company is "would you have them over to Sunday dinner?" It's not just about how many sales you can do, how fast you can do the work, it is about how well you do your sales and how well you do your work. Does the client come first and right on top of that quality? We are open because we adhere to our core values and principals. Better someone not get a loan they cannot afford than we get a closed deal and a commission. We are still open because it works.

We are using the growth of this year to reinvest in our company, retain earnings so we can be prepared for the challenges that continue to hit our business and industry and be prepared for 2010 and beyond. We are a small business, we need to be ready for what is coming next that could slow down our sales volume through regulations, policies and politics. We need to ensure that our business model allows our people to still have jobs and we are still able to help our clients attain and retain homeownership.

We are a small business but not unlike millions of other small businesses throughout the United States. The statistics vary but companies that employ less than 100 people account for approximately 35-40% of the jobs in this country. In the current economy the number of small businesses and self-employed individuals starting companies is actually growing. Out of work and tired of using their creative talents and skills for someone else the inner-entrepreneur and American spirit of adventure leads them to give it a go. They are risking their personal finances and credit to provide jobs for others so they can achieve their visions. They are bringing sack lunches to work and hurting other small businesses--restaurants--by cutting back on their nights outs so they can ensure they can make payroll in five days. Most of them are family run and employees are like family. Benefits like insurance and retirement are provided and shared contributions are made. Labor laws are followed and concessions made because of the personal nature between ownership and labor. Sometimes it is a struggle, but everyone works together to ensure doors stay open, customers are taken care of and everyone can pay their bills. In times of crisis personal loans are made.

They are the backbone and the economic engine for America and its economy.

Under the Pelosi health care plan recently passed by a bare minimum of votes most of these small American businesses are now categorized at "big business" with the definition being total payroll. If a business has a payroll of $500,000 or more it is considered "big business" and under the legislation fully responsible for health care insurance for their employees. It doesn't take much for a company to reach $500,000 in payroll, look at the family owned restaurant with an executive chef, a couple of dishwashers and busboys, some wait staff, personell upfront, perhaps employing fifteen to twenty people; simple math puts the average salary at just over $2000 per month. Consider the small manufacturer specializing in auto upholstery with fifteen employees and specialists in pattern making, sales people, shop manager, how hard is it to get to $500,000 in total payroll? Add 10-15% to the costs of the employer and what has to happen? maybe now we have 14 employees, or 13.

Under the constant push to pay for programs President Obama and Democrats seem to have set the income limit for "America's wealthiest" at $250,000 per year, frequently the verbage is $250,000 for a married couple. Consider the small business owners who have their ups and downs, on the up years they pay down and pay off debt incurred in the down years to keep their business open, continue payrolls, sacrificing to ensure those dependent on them are safe. In the up years profits are plowed into the debt and savings to repay and reload. While our family has not experienced this sort of income, it would be nice to be able to and know that our sacrifice and hard work to get to this income level is not instantly penalized so that we can support wasteful spending in Washington. Support another TARP or stimulus package. Many people see that income level and think of CEOs and attorneys and doctors and other "rich people." In reality a couple that has an upper level government employee and a tenured teacher with several years and creditials reach that mark as well. But it is the small business person who pays the taxes at the expense of their business.

More taxes for small business means less reinvestment in their business. Higher fees and costs means less money available for raises or bonuses. Higher costs imposed on small businesses means someone is probably losing a job. Small business owners have it all on the line, personal guarantees on leases, their monthly income directly tied to company profitability, payroll that at times comes out of their own pockets. Like a mom who feeds her child first and herself second, America's small business owners pay their dedicated and loyal employees first and themselves second. At some point however if it is between their child's education account or a receptionist, we are going to have to answer the phone ourselves.

Sadly I do not find it ironic but rather normal that in front of the cameras Congressional leadership and the White House are talking about jobs, jobs, jobs and trying to spin and rationalize the abomination of waste that is becoming evident from the stimulus package. Telling America they are working to create and save jobs while unemployment rises and they push more and more debt onto the balance sheet. Inside away from the microphones they are voting for more taxes on the very people that create and save jobs. Inside conference rooms they plan how to increase taxes on those who write payroll checks and decide to lay off or hire depending on their business revenue and cash flow.

History has proven time and again and in economies across the world that lower taxes on business leads to higher employment. Ronald Reagan's tax cuts from Jimmy Carter's oppressive marginal tax rates led to a massive economic recovery and slashing of unemployment. George W. Bush's tax cuts led to record tax revenue for the Treasury and over 95% of Americans being employed. Give American business, especially small business, more cash flow and they will reinvest it in their companies and more people will be employed. Take away cash flow, take more of the revenue and people will lose jobs.

With one year left until the 2010 midterm elections watch how the incumbents and party in the majority spin the discussion on jobs. They will rail against the "rich" and how we need more for the "common worker" and defend taxing employers to help workers. In the end increasing taxes on small employers that sign the paychecks for 40% of Americans means fewer paychecks.

Somewhere today a few guys will get together to talk about opening their own company. They will commit to leases and pulling together funds to put together some operating capital. They will hire some workers. They will make a huge leap and take a risk to start a small business. Let's hope they succeed....despite the intentions of their elected leaders.

For a look at small businesses cropping up in Long Beach, particularly Bixby Knolls check out the article Leslie had in this week's Uptown Gazette "Women Dominate Uptown Business Scene"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Winners and Losers

Friday night our girls' school had a Talent Show. Over sixty students participated in about thirty acts. They were divided into groups, solo dance, group singing, etc. There were judges and every group had one act singled out as the winner. As we waited for the judges to arrive at their verdicts one of the parents, whose children are close friends with ours and one of whom was entered in the show, leaned over and said, "I don't think they should have winners."

One of George W. Bush's first moves after elected in 2000 was to work with Congress and with the help of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy passed the No Child Left Behind Act. The basic premise of the Act is that schools that raise their test scores, reduce the number of failings scores and increase their high scorese, would be eligible for Federal assistance and aid. Schools and Districts that do not show improvement in their scores would be subject to denial of funds and other measures. Teachers and many parents complained because they feel teaching to a test is not teaching everything a student needs to learn. They complain that too much emphasis is placed on the outcome of tests, they complain that education is hard to measure.

Our youngest daughter is on a local youth soccer team. A couple of the teams are very good, passing the ball, listening to their coach, scoring goals. Our team has one game left and is winless. This past Saturday our girls lost five or six to nothing, not unusual for the Green Monsters this Fall. Not once have I heard one of the parents complain about the score, or about the other team running it up; it helps that none of the other teams or players have done any excessive celebrating after scoring their third, fourth, fifth....goals.

Every year I come across one study or essay on how American students are falling behind other Western nations in education. Their math and science skills are considerably lower and their international competition is outpacing them in engineering and science studies and skills. Our melting pot nation has shown us the cultural importance of education in some recent immigrant groups. Outpacing "native" American students, first and second generation children of immigrants lead in academic scores, achievement tests and scholarships. For them losing is not learning, winning is getting degrees and careers.

Last week our kids' school had elections for Student Council elections. My daughter ran for Treasurer ("Money talks and it speaks my language" was the slogan). She lost, as did most of the children who ran since every office had more than one candidate. Some students evidently cried or were extremely upset when they learned they did not win.

California has established criteria that must be met to graduate and obtain a diploma. There was significant lead time with the criteria for students, parents, teachers and administrators to be prepared. The first year the criteria were in place there was an uproar over the number of students who missed the criteria and did not graduate. We heard people, students, parents, pundits, saying, "it's not fair that Sarah went to high school for four years and won't graduate."

Where has the competition gone for our children? Why is it not okay for children in elementary school who have volunteered to participate in a Talent Show to be in a contest? What is wrong with testing to show who is learning and who is not, and over time who is teaching well and who is not? Is just participating enough? When is "fair" replaced with "worthy?"

The insidious effect of lack of competition, lack of winning and losing is the creation of generations of Americans with little understanding of consequence. Little preparation for the cold, harsh competition of business and raising a family. Lack of consequences for bad decisions, bad habits and bad preparation.

Our colleges and universities admit students who spend their first year in remedial English and math classes. Think of the millions of dollars wasted to re-teach what should have been learned in their prior decade of schooling. Rather than hold students back or put them in remedial classes in elementary, middle or high school, districts pass along students barely "proficient" so they can slow down another thirty kids the next year, and the year after that. To hold them back is to tell them they failed, and that would damage the child's self-esteem; instead he is passed along and we damage his future.

Our report cards do not have the letter grades we grew up with, no "A" in math, "B" in English or "C" in Social Studies. We see "AP" for Advance Proficient, "S" for Satisfactory, "P" for Proficient. The grades have even softened. Thankfully I feel the teachers our kids have had thus far have been very fair in their assessments and grading, communicating where our kids do well and where they need work. Overall the other parents have their kids education as a priority and I greatly admire the parents who have voluntarily held their little ones back to repeat a grade so they can gain that academic foundation. Too bad more parents don't have the long term vision for their children, or the courage.

Going into the Talent Show I felt pretty certain neither of my kids were going to win their division, I think they had an idea as well. I was proud they took the stage alone in front of a couple of hundred people and performed the best that they could. I was proud they participated and applauded and hugged the winners. I applauded the winners as well, they deserved their awards. That night sixty kids learned about winning and losing, some better than others. Let's hope the lessons stay with them.

My response to my seatmate was, "I'm glad it is a competition and I wish they had more of them. I wish there were more opportunities for my daughters to learn about winning and losing so they can be prepared for the many competitions they will face later in life."

Paying the mortgage is a competition. Raising kids with morals and ethics is a competition. Getting and keeping a job is a competition. Doing what is right is a competition. For each of these has a positive and negative consequence depending on our decisions and our actions.

The long term consequences of generations of American children not learning about winning and losing, succeeding and failing, and the consequences is harming our nation. Increasingly they are raised to depend on others to make things right, to look to someone to give them a hand up or hand out, to be rewarded for participating just as well as for winning.

I read or heard something a while back a comment from some woman who had been successful at something. She was asked how she became such a success and she replied, "Every day at dinner my father would ask us, 'What mistakes did you make today?' He taught us that we would make mistakes, but also that we can admit the mistakes and learn from them."

Let's let our kids make mistakes, let's let them learn about winning and losing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday November 7, 2009 here are some questions I have had:

What would Nancy Pelosi look like if her cosmetic surgery was through a “public option?”

If you nickname was a car make or model what would it be?

Revisiting a question from a month or so ago, if you are not a government worker: Have you been at all adversely impacted by government employee furlough days?

Is “My City Was Gone” more identifiable with The Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde or Rush Limbaugh?

Cable or satellite?

Brush or sponge when doing the dishes?

Number one thing federal government can do to generate 1,000,000 more jobs in the private sector?

Should the White House and Congress concentrate on paying down debt or increase spending?

When was the last time you wrote or communicated with your Congressional or Senate Representative and what was the topic?


Alarm, music or wake up naturally?

Do you think President Obama has taken too many trips?

Why do coffee makers, pots, keep breaking on me lately?

Number one thing state can do to generate and/or attract 10,000 more jobs in the private sector?

What made you laugh uncontrollably this week?

Do you think it is funny that when you renew your car registration on line in California when the transaction is complete it says “Congratulations!”?

Assuming good service, 15%, 20% or varies depending on service?

Number one thing city can do to generate and/or attract 100 more jobs in the private sector?

What if the 9/11 jurors and prosecutors are the same as the OJ jurors and prosecutors and they get acquitted?

Did you know that in Alaska when moose get hit by vehicles and they are “fresh” they contact local charities who come and butcher it on the spot and use the meat for soup kitchens and feeding the homeless?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers? Click on the comments button below and let us know what you think.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How Many and How Much More Will Be Wasted?

We see the shrines throughout our travels. Burned down candles, half filled balloons floating just above the sidewalk, stale and wilted flowers in a vase with a religious symbol. Another makeshift memoriam to someone killed either by another or in an auto accident, or who knows how we wonder. When it is one of their own gang-bangers will mark the sight of their dead homie with graffiti and signs of his gang affiliation. When it is one of their victims law abiding citizens will ask "why?" and state "this can't continue." But it will.

In May 2008 I wrote in the Long Beach Post that the City of Long Beach had announced it spends almost $30 million per year on gang prevention programs. Between then and Melody Ross' murder in front of Wilson High School on October 30th the city has spent approximately $45 million on gang "prevention." The City has the Human Dignity Program, the Youth and Gang Prevention Task Force, police department school district and countless non-profit agencies dedicated to gang prevention. In their parlance, "provide our youth with alternatives to gangs and reduce the root causes of gang violence" is their objective. And has been for decades. $30 million per year from the City budget for gang "prevention."

Los Angeles County spends tens, if not hundreds, of millions on gang "prevention" programs; the State of California spends millions and millions on special grants and funding for gang "prevention programs"; our Congressional and Senate representatives tell us funding for gang "prevention" programs are priorities. All told hundreds of millions of dollars are focused on gang "prevention" programs in our community and county. All directed by our progressive elected officials and bureaucrats who through their decades of efforts and direction of "prevention" programs have failed.

The programs fail because the focus has been on preventing kids from entering gangs and not on eradicating the gangs. The programs fail because the culture that fosters gangs and gang membership is left alone and individual children are asked to go against their brothers, cousins, absentee dads and mothers. The programs fail because while politicians like to get elected on solving the gang problems in our community, once elected they become passive and fall into the politically correct "prevention" programs.

The Los Angeles Sheriffs Department began a very successful gang sweep and interdiction program in the City of Hawaiian Gardens. Historically a city controlled by some very violent gangs, they citizens of Hawaiian Gardens have lived under gang rule and seen their kids murdered or pulled into the gangs. Rather than welcome law enforcement coming into their community to rid it of these murders and drug dealers, the citizens protested. They protested the Sheriffs Department actively pursuing known gang members and removing them from their city. Members of the clergy protested accusing the Sheriffs of racism, ignoring the racist element of the city's gangs targeting citizens of a different race. Mothers who have lost children to the gangs protested. In elections last week politicians who ran against the Sheriff Department's anti-gang program lost. The voters protected the gang bangers.

The outcry following Melody Ross' tragic death underscores the issues facing our community, and others, moving forward. There are those who are upset that the juveniles arrested for the murder had their name published. There are those who want all of us to understand how three 16 year old kids crossed paths, one an honor student, athlete and wonder young woman, the other two gang members and now murders. They feel it is important for me to understand how society failed the two murders that led them to gang membership and violence. There are those who blame you, and me, and all of us for this murder because of gun laws, violence on television, rap lyrics, everything but where the blame should lie.

Until our community elects officials at all levels of government who are willing to put the rights and values of our community first and those of gang members and their enablers second, or third, fourth...we will never have any solutions to our gang problems. Here are some places we can start.

Stop protecting Cease with the withholding names and photos of perpetrators of violent crimes, regardless of their ages. Society, school mates, parents, teachers, have a right to know if a criminal is in their class, or neighborhood. Further publish the names, photos and addresses of any known parents. Let's see the faces of those who reared the murderers of Melody Ross. Let their neighbors know "The people responsible for the child who murdered another child live here." They took no accountability to this point for their children, make them do so now.

Restitution If you child graffiti's a building you are going to be financially responsible, can't pay then community service or time in jail. Your child commits physical violence on another? Community service and possible criminal charges if it recures. Your child murders another you are charged with criminal negligence and child endangerment. When police do gang sweeps and arrest minors their parents get picked up too. Both parents, track the Dads and pull them in as well.

Audits We need to have serious audits of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have obviously been wasted on "prevention" programs. I call on City Auditor Laura Doud to audit the City of Long Beach's spending on gang "prevention" programs. At a time when our police department budget is under fire and our schools are losing millions from the state, it is time to see what funds are being wasted by our city. Who gets the $30 million per year? What are the measurable results? Are there specific outcomes that are posted for the funds? Are those using the funds actually adhering to the programs used to solicit the funds? And I come back to results, what are the results of the city spending all this money year after year?

Political Our elected politicians need to have the courage to call out the gang communities. Call out the failing parents and culture that exist in the neighborhoods where gangs thrive. For $30 million per year we can set up permanent patrols and 24/7 police presence in the five neighborhoods where most our our gang activity originates and cultivates for decades. Give the police the authority and the direction to erradicate the gangs. Have the courage to take the heat for a pro-active police department pursuing gang members and going block by block with warrants and crack downs. Resolve to get gangs out of our city.

Enough Enough with the current failed methods of "prevention." We have tried and failed, failed Melody and her family and hundreds of others over the past several years when "prevention" became the progressive method of solving our gang problems.

Sadly in the not too distant future we will read of another tragic shooting, another innocent daughter, son, mother, baby, killed by some bullet meant for another. And the community will say "we need to stop this." And the community will not.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Monday November 2, 2009 here are some questions I have had:

What is the goal of health care reform?

Did you root for the Yankees?

Absentee ballot or visit your polling place?

Greatest living American author?

Is it harder to lose weight and diet or cut expenses and save money?

Greatest dead American author?

Did you make a new friend this week?

How does creating 111 new agencies or departments in the Federal government make health care cheaper and more accessible?

Are your pumpkins still on your porch?

Has anyone done the math?

Does the title to my post on Wednesday look pretty familiar to one used by a popular Long Beach website discussing the aftermath of the parcel tax vote?

What are you feelings on the amount of Federal spending in 2009 and spending obligations into the future?

What old friend did you reconnect with this week?

When is the best time for a daily walk, morning, lunchtime, evening?

Should juveniles convicted as adults be subject to all the same punishments?

How often do you use a dictionary?

How many cars have you owned and how many have been manufactured by American companies?

Are you down to that Halloween candy that no one really wants?

What was your guilty pleasure this week?

Sweater or sweatshirt?

What do you think about moving “Just Some Questions” to Fridays to see if we can get more responses?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers? Click on the comments button below and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Voters: Now What?

Now what?

More incumbents? And you know as well as I do in our gerrymandered state state "incumbent" is appropriately tagged to the replacement candidate for any incumbents termed out.

Now what?

Another round of elections installing the same people to make the same votes and pass the same laws and spending bills and budgets that have doubled spending from Sacramento in ten year? Another round of elections installing the same people to complain that the state budget problems have nothing to do with their economic ignorance and over spending but instead has to do with not enough taxes being collected from the citizens of the state?

Now what?

Local voters go to the polls next year and punch the same hole they have punched in every one of the past elections that memory serves? Re-elect the same people who say you aren't taxed enough and then go to Sacramento to increase their spending yet again, except for where you need it?

Now what?

Listen to the politician you elected tell you it is not their fault they have to take another five, ten, twenty million from the school district where you send your child? Listen as they sit their with their majority as they cajole only one, two, or three members of the other party to join them as they pass a budget raising fees, closing parks, and stealing more money from your child's classroom?

Now what?

What are you, the voter in Long Beach, or Lakewood, or Signal Hill, who voted against Measure T going to do? Sanction our elected representatives in Sacramento behavior that took $100 million away from the district in the past five years? Because if you re-elect them that is exactly what you are doing. Same goes for you in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, in Marin County, in San Diego. Up and down the state every vote that is caste for a sitting member of the Assembly or Senate that voted to pass the current state budget, or the budget before that, or the budget before that, is a vote sanctioning poor economic decisions, a vote supporting taking funds from local districts and a vote against local control of education.

Now what?

What is going to change so our school district is not forced to cut security officers that patrol football games and hallways? How are you going to vote to ensure more funds aren't stripped from our schools so we can have a nurse even two days a week? What responsibility will you take with your vote so another day of an open library can happen on the campus your child attends?

Voters within the Long Beach Unified School District overwhelmingly defeated the Measure T parcel tax. It was pretty evident that the majority of those voting did not want to pay a couple of more dollars per month to provide some direct funding for operations to our district, funding that could not be stolen by the same people this majority has elected to represent them in every election in the past decade. So now what? What is this majority going to do in next year's primary and general elections to change the cycle of greed and glut in Sacramento that has seen our school district's budgets decimated by the majorities in the Assembly and Senate and abetted by a few members of the opposition and the Governor who ultimately did not veto those budgets.

Now what?

Here's what I think. I think every incumbent in our local elections for state office will get re-elected, those off the ballot because of running for another office or term limits will have their political clones elected. The winners will be supported by campaign donations from public employees unions, both locally and statewide. The winners will run unchallenged in their primaries and win with comfortable majorities in this little corner of California that is cozy for them. The winners will not have their voting records looked at by the voters, nor will the voters consider the ideas and positions of any one else on the ballots. The winners will win despite aiding and abetting the financial decline and ruin of this state as the voters blindly vote for the letter inside the parenthesis next to their name, (D), and ignore their actions in the budget process. The winners will get another term in office from an electorate that voted not to pay an additional $8 per month for education but will vote to support a politician who has raised other fees and taxes a lot more than $8 per month.

In this scenario you can substitute my local area for any area of this gerrymandered state that has protected a substantial majority for the Democrats in Sacramento. A comfortable majority that has bullied and pushed and pulled and whined and screamed through every budget process to get a handful of Republicans and a governor to sign off on their budgets. Budgets that have cut $100 million in revenue from our local school district. Budgets that have included the largest tax increase in American history by a state on its people. Budgets that are sanctified by the electorate every time they re-elect their incumbents.

Message heard loud and clear Long Beach: LBUSD we don't want to provide you any additional revenue, go ahead and make your cuts. Message to Long Beach voters: don't bitch when those cuts affect your child. Don't bitch when you lose a nurse. Lose PE. Lose Art. Lose AP French. Lose Chess Club. Lose security officers. You caused this with your votes electing members of the Assembly and Senate, now accept responsibility.

Now what?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Parents Get Out And Vote "YES" On Measure T

If you are a parent with children in the Long Beach Unified School District, if you are a parent with children that will be entering the Long Beach Unified School District, if you are a grandparent, aunt, cousin, or neighbor to children in the Long Beach Unified School District get out of the house tomorrow, Tuesday November 3rd, and vote YES on Measure T. Please.

The average voter is to lazy too check facts or understand and issue or candidate before voting, as evidenced by our election results. Our state's voters have passed billions of dollars in bonds, and that means debt and mandatory interest payments that eat into our general funds, for stem cell research, Delta watershed restructuring with no funds spent, high speed rail binding us to more spending later; locally voters have passed higher sales taxes for 30 years to support failing Metrorail and other projects that have proven to be filled with waste of taxpayer funds. In the meantime our electorate has routinely voted the same people into offices, either the same office or rotating between offices due to term limits, that have pushed our state further and further into financial ruin.

And then they wonder why our state is in such a mess. Why their tax refund is not in the mail. Why they can't renew their license at the DMV on Friday. Why their kid no longer gets to go to science camp. One year from now they will dutifully look for the (D) (locally in Long Beach and Los Angeles County) and punch the ballot to re-elect the same people again and we will fall further into financial ruin. Before doing that I am hopeful two-thirds will vote yes on Measure T on Tuesday.

In the meantime, as legislators in Sacramento have wasting our tax dollars our local award winning school district has lost $100 million in funds from the State of California in the past 5 years. Schools have lost librarians, nurses, phys ed instructors, computer lab instructors, art and music teachers.

Here are some of the arguments I have heard agaisnt Measure T:

Expense: It costs $96 per year, not per month, per year. This is a couple of dinners out for the year for a family of four. It is less than 20% of one month's payment on your huge SUV you drop your kids off in. It is $8 per month, less than you spend per week at Starbuck or It's A Grind for your mocha-latte after dropping the kids off. Cars and coffee's can't teach your kids to read or prepare them for the AP English test.

Length: This is one of times that short is good. Measure T is only in effect for 5 years. Five Years. Not 30 years like the MTA tax passed by LA County voters last years. Not until repealed by the District or legislators. Five Years. Total parcel tax payments by the voters: $480 over 5 years. (I did that math in my head because I had good math teachers, does your child?)

Been There: Measure T is only for operations. In the early 1990's voters passed a bond measure to build, rebuild and remodel schools in Long Beach. We benefited from new campuses like Powell Academy and Dooley Elementary. A few years ago voters passed another bond measure, Measure K, for capital construction, remodeling and fixing the schools' infrastructures. These funds were well thought out and will result in new campuses and upgrades on many existing campuses. Those measures added 0.0008% to tax bills ($80 per year per $100,000 assessed value), further Measure K was a matching funds measure, in passing the bond voters allowed the District to receiving matching funds from the State for previously passed measures. For every $80 paid by property owners another $80 is recieved by the state. Those funds are in use, are improving our schools and have nothing to do with Measure T as no funds from Measure K can be used for operations.

Timing: The local paper's editorial board has said, "now is not the time." When is? When is a good time for local voters to send a message to elected officials that they are tired of their stealing money from their kids school and will pay for it themselves, and oh by the way we will remember this next November (just kidding, our voters really have no memory hence the re-election of the same candidates that created our problems). Now is not the time because of the economy. How about now is the time because many property owners have seen their property taxes go down with property values? How about now is the time because the next time our school system will have imposed cuts to education that diminishes our schools and therefore prpoerty values. Now is not the time to add $8 per month to property owners' tax bills? The editors who wrote this opinion spend that on lunch every day.

Quality: People love to point out anything bad that happens at their kid's school or stories of what has happened to other kids and campuses. LBUSD educates about 90,000 students every day. It employs thousands of teachers, janitors, coaches, principals, accountants, health care specialists, nutrition specialists and administrators. Someone is always willing to say, "not enough spent on students" "too much this" "too much that." I personally know Superintendent Chris Steinhauser, three of the four current members of the school board, many principals and administrators. To a person I know them to be honest, caring and commited, framing their decisions with one question: what is best for our students. There are plenty of naysayers and those who cast stones. I will close on these points that need continued support by our community so they can continue and grow:

* Broad Finalist Year After Year our District has been nationally recognized as one of the top five, and top, urban school district in the country

* Millions of dollars are received by LBUSD high school graduates every year in scholarships to colleges and universities across the country

* Millions of dollars are saved by parents every year in college and university tuition fees because their children have taken and passed Advance Placement classes in many disciplines, thereby earning college credits and not needing those classes in college.

* Continued recognition by the Obama Administration as the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan repeatedly uses LBUSD as an example for other districts in California and across the state.

Long Beach Unified School District is unique in the State of California. It has commited leadership that has attended our schools, who live in our neighborhoods and care about your children. It is being torn apart by decisions made by Sacramento that strip needed funding year after year.

Parents, grandparents, uncles, neighbors need to step up to support our great school district, vote YES on Measure T on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Monday October 26, 2009 here are some questions I have had:

Should the First Time Homebuyer tax credit continue?

Does that little dial on the coffee maker to make your coffee stronger or weaker really work? Why not just add more or less grounds to the basket?

Why is there no outrage over the completely inadequate supply of flu vaccines?

1990 pages?

Do you snore?

Have you ever said, “This has too much brown sugar?”

What is the most money you have spent at the 99 cent store?

Is the room in your home that is coldest in winter also the hottest in the summer?

For non-government employees, have government furlough days affected you at all?

If time flies, what walks?

Long Beachians: Best soup Bake’N’Broil Navy Bean and Ham, 555 Crab Bisque or Lasher’s Clam Chowder?

Does any legally registered voter in California have any less opportunity than any other legally registered voter to cast his or her ballot?

The parents know their kid did the shooting, the friends know, will they protect this coward or be just as cowardly and continue to want to live in our community?

Should the identity of teenage murders, and there for their families, be protected?

God bless Melody Ross, her family, her friends, her teachers and other students at Wilson High School. Rot in hell coward who fired randomly into a crowd.

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers? Click on the comments button below and let us know what you think.