17
Jun
10

Well…What Did You Expect?

Many people have asked us over the past several weeks as to why we haven’t posted anything on our web site. It seems we have developed quite a following since we expressed our opinion on the Mayor and Council’s total disregard to taxpayer wishes, by voting for an additional 1 cent sales tax.

Many have asked if we were surprised at the vote. That’s too easy. Absolutely not, in our opinion, it was par for the course for those who have no creative leadership skills. It is also our opinion, the past and current administrations have demonstrated far too often they cannot plan a budget, maintain a budget or deal with a budget crisis with sound business principles…can you say “MoonPie”. This time was no different.

We believe it is only a matter of time before the Mayor comes back to the City Council and says the 1 cent tax increase is not enough and we are going to have to find other areas to tax its citizens. Councilmember Gina Gregory has already said publicly that property taxes in the City of Mobile were not “high” enough. So, hold on to your wallets, as they used to say, “they ain’t done yet”.

The reason we haven’t posted anything is because everyone already knew what we were thinking, because you were thinking it too. It is the same old story…tax and spend. There is no regard in city hall for the taxpayers of this city. There has been a call for an audit so taxpayers can see what happened to the money. That appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Why? We believe they are afraid of the outcome. We believe the results will show that “Special Interest” groups have grabbed far more than their fair share from the city vault, while those with real needs go unfunded.

While we do not have City Elections this fall, the fall-out from this latest tax increase will not be forgotten in the near term. Some political analyst and pundits inside the Beltway in Washington are forecasting that “tea party” sentiment will continue strongly all the way through the next Presidential election. The “kick them all out” mentality is sure to filter down into state and local elections as well. So be it!

In talking with our friends, neighbors, business and commercial property owners the next Mobile Mayor and City Council election will be very interesting to say the least. You can rest assured that, for at least three of the city offices, the incumbent will “not” be running unopposed.

Just because we don’t post everyday, does not mean we are not watching…and watching…and watching. After all, there is a reason we are called City Watch. Stay tuned…

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25
Apr
10

Mayor and Council “Just Don’t Get It”.

As our City Councilmembers prepare for Tuesday’s vote on the 1 cent sales tax, we are extremely concerned that our esteemed elected officials still “don’t get it”.  In our recent poll, while not scientific, we have 100% of those who voted say that the Citizens of Mobile should be able to vote on any tax or fee increase.  Scientific or not, 100% is still 100%.

Let us be perfectly clear.  No New Taxes.  No New User Fees.  No New User Surcharges.  No New Property Taxes.  Taxes on Internet Purchases…your kidding…right?  What’s next… a tax on blooms on every Azalea bush in the City of Mobile?   Maybe a tax on every MoonPie thrown from a float during Mardi Gras?  Or how about an “Advertising Tax” on every ad run by any advertizing medium.  This would include newspapers, television, radio, 3rd class junk mail, and advertising/public relations firms.

The City, State and Federal Government must learn to live within their budget.  Every family has to adjust their income in tough times, so should the government.  Raising taxes is easy.  Making tough decisions on living within your budget takes courage and leadership.  The Taxpayers of Mobile should not be penalized for the mistakes made by poor management from our elected officials.  It’s time for everyone who voted for the past budget to take responsibility for their poor decision…not the taxpayer.

So, while we applaud those who have taken a “stand for” the Taxpayers of Mobile, we will also be watching carefully those who take a stand “against” the Taxpayers of Mobile.  Vote against your constituency and you will pay the consequences at the election poll.  In other words, in three years, there will be no uncontested incumbents.

Call your local councilmember and State Senator and tell them it is time for a complete State audit of the City of Mobile.

20
Apr
10

Mayor Sam Jones on the Hot Seat…again

Well, no surprise that Mayor Sam Jones is still feeling the sting of the recent defeat of the 1 cent sales tax handed to him last Thursday morning at the hands of the Mobile City Council. Acting more like a bully on the school yard play ground than a mayor, we feel he is now planning to take revenge on those who opposed his plan for tax increases on the citizens of Mobile.

In our opinion his treat to lay-off and cut salaries was never the real plan, his primary purpose was to use the cuts as a way to push his “tax and spend” lifestyle of city government. The cuts were only a scare tactic that has now; seemingly put him in a grave political dilemma. The last thing the mayor needs to be saddled with is providing less protection to his constituents by furloughing policeman and firefighters. And, in today’s economy the last thing the voters and taxpayers will tolerate would be more taxes. Can you say Tea Party?

In the next few weeks, we will have a great view of the political landscape for the next few years. We will either see the same old way of doing business, by raising revenue in the form of property taxes, increasing garbage fees, cutting city employee’s salaries or furloughing essential personnel, like policeman and firefighters. Or, we will see genuine leadership tackling this tough situation with new ideas and making tough decisions that will put our city back on track.

In our opinion, it is time for the Mayor and City Council to think outside the box. We are aware of several ideas that have been presented to the Council and several of them have a lot of merit. Councilmember Gina Gregory had it right when she said the city needs to become more efficient. The City of Mobile needs to reevaluate every department and account for every dollar.

Our first act would be to call for a “complete audit” and find out where the money is going…and went. This would include every discretionary fund currently on the books. Once the audits are completed, they should be made available to the public and a hearing held to answer questions on the results. Remember, it is the elected officials that answer to the people…not the other way around.

In our opinion, we should do two things. First, let’s start running the City of Mobile like a business instead of a political quagmire. Second, get back to basics. Spend our money only on projects that will give us a return on our investment. To rephrase the old saying from Harry Truman, “The Buck Stop Here”, the city’s new motto should be, “The Buck Stops”.

Tom Peters, one of the most insightful authors on business, once said, “Winners must learn to relish change with the same enthusiasm and energy that we have resisted it in the past.” Who is going to emerge as the “Winner” from our City Council? We know who we think it will be.

Stay tuned.

15
Apr
10

Take the Latest Poll

15
Apr
10

3 Council Members Show Courage – 1 Cent Tax Defeated

Councilmember Connie Hudson

Councilmember Connie Hudson

Councilmember John Williams

Councilmember John Williams

Councilmember Gina Gregory

Councilmember Gina Gregory

Congratulations  Councilmembers Connie Hudson, John Williams and Gina Gregory for taking a tough stand on the 1 Cent Tax ordinance.  We should thank each of these elected officials for realizing there is a better way to deal with the budget shortfall rather than a new sales tax.

The biggest disappointment for our city was Councilmember William Carroll.  When he was faced with the opportunity to step up for his district… he failed.   Instead of taking a stand, he decided to abstain from voting.  Whether he would have voted for or against the proposal is not the issue, the fact that he abstained, speaks volumes on his leadership capabilities for the City of Mobile.  However, the truly sad part of this story is that Councilmember Carroll is the Chairman of the Finance Committee for the City Council.

While we are proud of those who stood up to the task, they must now remain vigilant and stay the course for no new taxes and no new fees.  The financial mess facing the City of Mobile can be worked out without the need for the drastic measures that have been recently discussed at City Hall.  In our opinion Councilmember Connie Hudson has been leading the charge of new options and ideas, and we hope that other City Council members will continue to work with her for a viable solution to the financial shortfall.

As Winston Churchill once said, “There is no such thing as a good tax”.  We couldn’t agree more.

14
Apr
10

Gregory Says Property Taxes Not High Enough

At yesterday’s City Council meeting where the 1 cent sales tax increase took center stage, Councilmember Gina Gregory, below, was quoted by WALA Fox 10 as saying, “We don’t have a high enough property tax to support the city. That’s what it boils down to.”  (http://tinyurl.com/y6ubfks). Is Councilmember Gregory now supporting increasing property taxes…again?  Based on her past record, we will not be surprised if she votes “YES” for the 1 cent increase in sales tax, even though she says she is not for the “sales tax thing”, and also begins a campaign to increase property taxes.

Councilmember Gina Gregory

Councilmember Gina Gregory

Last year, most of those who live in Councilmember Gregory’s District 7 experienced an increase in their property taxes.  We are utterly amazed that Councilmember Gregory believes that property taxes are still too low.  In fact, our real estate advisors say that property values are declining in the Mobile area. While the losses are not in line with the national average, some home prices are being slashed in order to attract buyers.  Just ride around and look at the commercial buildings for rent, or check the MLS listings and see how prices have been reduced; and pay special attention to how long the properties have been on the market.

In fact, the City of Mobile should “reduce” the current property assessments, so as to be in line with the property’s current value, thus REDUCING the property owner’s tax liability instead of trying to increase them.  But then again, you are asking our City Government to remove a tax.  Remember the Restaurant Tax?

While it does not happen very often, we do agree with something Councilmember Gregory said at yesterday’s meeting.  She said the city needs to be more “efficient”.  We couldn’t agree more.  However, we disagree that outside sources (meaning consultants) are needed to help tell the city how the fix the problems.  After all, every single council member who ran for office did so, on the ability of their leadership skills.  Well, it is about time we saw some of those skills.  If we are going to hire consultants and spend more money, that the city does not have, then why do we need a City Council?

Want to know how to change things at City Hall?  Many years ago, the city routinely used the local universities and colleges to help with specific issues.  We have excellent business departments at these institutions and we feel confident that if asked, they would love the opportunity to show how they can help our community.  The city can tap into a virtual wealth of knowledge with new innovative thinking instead of old, tired ideas that include “tax and spend” schemes that have failed for decades.

However, the best resource is in your employee force.  Has a council member ever gone around to the different departments and asked the opinions of the employees?  I am not talking about a suggestion box or an employee survey, but go to the city garage, buy them a cup of coffee and take a few minutes and listen…and then ask what they would do to fix the problems they see around them.  Visit every department, compile a list of real suggestions…now formulate a plan with a specific timeline in order to reach the goals that have been set.

Rene McPherson, former President of the Dana Corporation, coined a phrase, “Management By Walking Around”.  He required his top managers to spend at least 50% of their time out of the office and out with the work force.  You don’t solve complex problems by sitting behind a desk, or by hiring consultants to do your work for you.  Use the resources around you and do most of the work yourself.

Change is possible, but you have to work at it.  Progress is possible, but you have to be committed.  Success is possible, but only if you work together.

We don’t need a sales tax increase, we need a leadership increase!

14
Apr
10

Richardson says “District 1” not against Sales Tax

Councilmember Frederick Richardson recently stated he has had less than 10 people from his District (District 1)  who have  expressed opposition to a 1 cent sales tax increase.  Is this because they are for the increase, or because they don’t feel their opinion matters or will change anything.

If you live in District 1 and are opposed to the 1 cent sales tax increase, you need to contact Councilmember Richardson and voice your opposition.

Office –  251 208-7441

Home – 251 473-3268

FAX – 251 29998-7482

Email – richardson@cityofmobile.org




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