Former Gainesville City Commissioner Ed Braddy recently had this article published at New Geography. All local voters should read this to get the other side of the mass transit fantasy that many of our local officials have.
Essentially, policymakers need to see transit as a service with an important but limited role to play in most urban regions. With jobs and more activities spreading to the suburbs and exurbs – a process often accelerated by economically disruptive urban policies, cities should focus transit on a limited number of central core commuters as well as those people who cannot drive. Unfortunately, such goals are too modest for planners who envision transit as the catalyst for large scale social engineering and who have little concern for their regions’ economic bottom line.
Recently, county commissioner Mike Byerly shocked residents when they read this in the Gainesville Sun:
Byerly said that he believed too many road-widening projects intended to ease congestion remained in the county’s plans, and the only thing that could make the planned bus rapid transit system work was if traffic gridlock on area roads drove people out of their cars and onto buses.
Voters must be aware that our own local elected officials are trying to reduce our choices and funnel us into their hopes and dreams with OUR tax dollars. Read it here.
At some of my events and interviews I have said that it is important for the city to cultivate a working relationship with the churches because they are the city’s natural allies in confronting homelessness and other societal ills. I recently said that, as Mayor, I would go to the churches to tell them that they are welcome and that their participation is needed to make Gainesville a better place. Although I have not yet been challenged on this, I will anticipate and answer two potential questions in this space.
Will churches respond to such a call? First, I want to tell you that this is not a setup. I have not held any meetings with pastors to formulate how they would respond to my election. My presumption upon their good works potential comes from my own three decades of ministry work as a volunteer. There are many people in the church who are motivated to feed, clothe and shelter the homeless, visit the sick and incarcerated, and mentor the fatherless. Some of that is already getting done at the expense of those who do the work. It is hard to say how much worse things would be if they weren’t. But I know they could do a lot more if it were not for the ambivalence of both church and civic leaders. The evolving ethos of “church-state separation” has created a hostile environment for people of faith who are told that their faith is not welcome. My opponent, City Commissioner Craig Lowe, has been quoted as saying, “ Our community cannot afford to discard any talent or intellect due to discrimination.” Yet, we discard the talent and intellect of a vast number of Gainesville residents. This must be actively challenged.
Is it appropriate to do so? It is unjust to tell people, “You cannot participate as fully as anyone else in civic life and discourse because of the beliefs you hold.” A part of the American experience throughout history has been the need to demand the rights that you possess only on paper. It took almost 200 years for African Americans to begin to possess the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, and it did not happen because they waited patiently to be called on. It had to be demanded. Likewise, the men and women in our churches, who have become timid under the disapproving glare of the Statists who have come to power, must make their demand to be included. It will be much easier for them, however. All they have to do is vote on March 16. Then they have to follow through by living up to the things they believe in.
Do not confuse my call to action with a desire to Christianize the local government. I am just trying to desegregate it. Anyone should be able to take his faith, whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan or Atheist, with him into the service of his community. It’s also a good opportunity for us all to interact and learn from one another instead of isolating and writing each other off.
While perusing this year’s Gainesville City Budget’s summary document, I found an interesting fact. It is fairly plain language that even a window cleaner can understand. Therefore, I pass it along to you, the other citizens who are on the hook for the high cost of government. It’s a paragraph found near the top of page 10, and here is the important excerpt:
“Pension obligations are met primarily through three sources of funds. Employee contributions to the fund are set at a fixed percentage of pay. Investment returns on pension assets comprise a substantial portion of pension funding, and the balance of funding required comes from contributions from the employer. Therefore, poor investment return years require higher contributions from the employer to meet required funding levels.”
In case you are missing something here, we, the taxpayers, are the employers. The other important thing to notice is that you, the employer, are obligated to meet funding obligations when investments have a bad year. So, all of you who took a hit in 2008, losing about 40% of your retirement investments, have to bite the bullet to keep the city pension fund from failing to make money.
Keeping in mind that this is, after all, a defined benefits plan, we will not get into the details of whether such an expensively insured plan is mitigated with below average return on investment anyway. But it does indicate that the city should hire employees and create new departments only when the gravest need arises. There are not many companies that can survive not only an economic downturn, but having to insulate its employees from this effect with money it no longer has.
City employees who like this arrangement (and who wouldn’t?) should want to insure this arrangement’s long term viability by helping its employer to NOT incur deficits. But deficits are what we have, and that could be the case for years to come if we do not get some hard-times discipline.
Stay tuned to this blog as I visit other budgetary challenges that could be met with your money and your lack of opportunity.
I want to thank everyone who came out for this event. It looked like there were 500 people to me, but the Sun says 1,000, so who knows? I had yard signs and window clings available. We got donations and volunteers to sign up. It was a great event!
This video is a clip from my opening statement at the African American Accountability Alliance candidate forum on February 1. It’s what I would call “the elevator speech” about why I am running. There are many things to cover, like GRU and the tree-burning plant, but that came only a little bit later. There were no questions about it, so you had to try to squeeze that into the 90 seconds you were given to answer questions that really had 5 minute answers if you were going to come even close to doing them justice.