Can Gwinnett County Save MARTA?

Gwinnett County has the opportunity to join MARTA with the promise that the majority of tax dollars will be spent in Gwinnett. But is it too late to save MARTA?

MARTA ridership was below forecast for all of 2018 for buses and rail passengers. Will forecasting be any better with the addition of Gwinnett County?

The 3% Solution

So far MARTA is a 3% solution to the Metro Atlanta Urban population. If you assume that each MARTA patron takes a trip to and from their destinations, only 3% of the population uses MARTA on a daily basis.

That begs the question: How much more shall the 97% continue to vote and support the 3% solution?

MARTA has evolved into a two purpose system. The first is to get lower cost workers to employment areas.

The second is to transport those with private vehicles to both sporting events and the airport, where the hassles of drive times and parking fees can be avoided.

Will Gwinnett County voters be willing to commit large sums of money going forward forever for these purposes?

Or will they be wise enough to realize that MARTA just isn’t SMARTA?

For those that are supporting this push for MARTA, I have just one question:

Outside of the airport and sporting events, will you be using MARTA for your daily trips around your town, or are you hoping that your neighbor will be doing so?

That’s what I thought.

https://www.itsmarta.com/KPIRidership.aspx

“Haters” In Johns Creek

There is a term that has been used by both elected officials and their supporters over the last few years to describe individuals such as myself: “Haters”.

The term is used as a bullying tactic meant to silence those who have an opinion about Johns Creek’s government, what they are doing, what they accept in performance from City Staff, and where they are attempting to take a City that was a runaway success even before the City Council held it’s first meeting.

We know the term “Haters” is being used at City Council Meetings and behind the scenes between the Council Members (including the Mayor) in an effort to intimidate and push dissenting Council Members to go along with the grand schemes those on the Council have pursued at the expense of the majority of the Public for the benefit of the few.

In retrospect, “Haters” may be the best word that could have been chosen by those that are trying to silence us.

We do hate.

We have government overreach.

We hate wasteful spending.

We hate being told our traffic issues are because of neighboring communities instead of just doing the hard work and eliminating our bottlenecks.

We hate government contracts that are renewed despite less than stellar work performed for the residents of Johns Creek.

We hate the push for Johns Creek to be like every other City.

We hate the continued push for higher and higher densities.

We hate being lied to about how awesome the traffic lights were when in fact the lights were not even close to what they were advertised.

We hate the political games played to push agendas with statements that are blatantly false and misleading.

We hate seeing Council Members shut down when trying to discuss the issues on behalf of all residents.

Nearly every Public Comment is followed up with a “Thank you for your comment” from the Mayor. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Anything that questions, challenges or otherwise casts doubts on the direction of this City and the objectives of the current majority on Council is derided and dismissed. Items that are factually correct are portrayed as inaccurate. Even if you were to use the City’s own audited reports to make a point, it is likely you will be told that you are wrong if the point is not what the majority wants.

What should this City Council do with the “Haters”? It should embrace them. Time and again they have pointed out issues with the direction of the City that the majority of the residents simply do not seek If in pursuing their agendas, they cannot answer the questions or objections with honest answers, and instead must resort to chastising and bullying the “Haters”, then maybe the agenda is just not that good.

We do not need to run this City by personal agendas and legacy building. Instead this City needs to be run based on the Charter and what it says we are supposed to be doing as a City.

Until it does, we will continue to bring up as issues and concerns what we see happening. We will continue to challenge the decisions this City is making as it impacts all of us.

If you want to see Johns Creek become just an average City, just sit back, do nothing and hate those labeled “Haters”.

But if you want a truly exceptional City, listen to what the “Haters” are saying. See if there is truth in it.

It’s interesting that I and the others who have been labeled “Haters” are discussed in whispers and behind closed doors. We take our issues directly to the City Council.

And we will continue to do so.

2019: Recessionary Forces Cannot Be Halted

Economic Forces Affect Political Outcomes

If you look inside the economy, you need to find more than an empty box.

The US economy and how it functions is truly a mystery to most people. For the most part it operates on faith. For politicians, it is generally taken as a granted. When a recession strikes, no one knows what to do.

The outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election hangs in the balance, and Trump has less than 6 quarters to turn things around in a major way, or Trump will become the first one-term President since G.W. Bush.

The data is very clear. It extends all the way back to the mid 70’s, and it is a nearly perfect indicator for POTUS election results. I have written about it in the past. It has not changed. The rules are rather simple.

Corporate Profits Are Mediocre

If corporate profits as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is growing by more than 6%(more or less) year over year, then the party in the White House will maintain control of the White House. The ONLY exception to this rule since 1972 is Gerald Ford, who was tossed out of office because of the overwhelming desire for any new direction after Nixon’s resignation.

With that in mind, those that hold the office of POTUS really need focus on a few major things, and one of the most major things is the real health of the underlying economy.

Why corporate profits? It’s simple. Businesses are in business to grow profit. No one should run a business just to maintain the status quo. But watching the major financial networks, it becomes clear most are clueless to this rather simple truth.

But the networks seem to focus on two numbers that mask the real performance. The first is the top line, or sales. The second is the earnings per share. Both of these numbers are not worth 1/2 of what weighting analysts have placed upon them. Why?

Sales can rise 30% per year. But if you are not bringing any more profit per sale to the bottom line you are just working hard for the same result.

Earnings Per Share are Misleading

Earnings per share can make a company with less profit look like they are doing better than they really are. If a company’s earnings fall 3% but they buy back 4% of their shares, then EPS will rise. And this false signal seems to be embraced by analysts at every turn.

So why are we headed into a recession? The costs of doing business are rising, and rising fast, and there is nothing that will put the brakes on those pressures.

Back in 2008, the same two factors that accelerated the market collapse are happening once again. What are those two factors? Interest rates rising and minimum wages rising.

There has never been more debt being held by Americans in our history. And the increases in rates, while they appear small, relatively speaking, are really huge in their outcomes. Rates rising from 2 to 2.5% for instance, results in a whopping 25% increase in your interest costs. That is not insignificant.

Minimum Wages are Rising

Minimum wages increases, however, are going to push the economy over the edge. These increases are not happening because businesses have chosen to pay employees more because A) they are more productive and B) it is what is needed to get employees on the job. Rather it is the worst of reasons: despite the economic realities, government mandates it.

Minimum wage is increasing in 21 states in 2019. And by much more than what the rate of increase was back in 2008.

https://www.businessinsider.com/minimum-wage-2019-state-map-2018-12

Politicians never seem to grasp the affect of these mandatory wage increases on businesses. And the businesses they most affect are the ones with some of the lowest profit margins in our economy: Restaurants and retail sales are going to have to raise their prices to maintain their profit margins, despite the workers only producing as much as they did last year.

That of course, will inject just a bit more inflationary pressure into our economic system, which will put even more pressure on the Federal Reserve Bank to raise rates even higher.

We know that the the odds of states and cities reversing course and lowering the minimum wage is near zero. As for the Federal Reserve, who knows what they will do? They do not even know what they are doing today.

If Trump (and most of the Republicans) want to maintain the White House in 2020, they better start acting now to lower the costs of doing business in the United States. They will need to see this recession end quickly, which means it needs to be officially acknowledged sooner rather than later.

The summer of 2019 needs to be the low part for the economy. The rate of Federal Debt growth must be slowed dramatically. Home grown energy needs to be deregulated. The constant increase in local sales taxes fuel taxes and property taxes need to be reversed just to have a shot at this objective.

Otherwise, this recession is going to be far worse than 2008. And no business is actually prepared for that.

And I’d wager good money that no state or local governments are either.

Should They Be Begging Libertarians to Vote for Ted Metz?

Will Ted Metz Spoil The Govenor’s Race?

Ted Metz Libertarian Candidate for Governor

Despite the presence of Ted Metz, both the Kemp and Abrahms campaigns have had months and months to shape and promote their platforms and agendas.  Yet the race is too close to call.  This week they began to label Ted Metz, the Libertarian candidate for governor a spoiler.  Not even close to the truth.

The vote totals will include all three candidates plus the valid write-in candidates.  So for every vote for  Ted Metz or a write in candidate, it raises the number needed by the “winner” by 1/2 vote.  If Ted Metz gets 300,000 votes, for instance, the winner (Kemp or Abrahms) would need 150,000 more votes than their opponent to win without a runoff.

So who is winning?  And by what margin?  Do they want to go for the victory on Tuesday?  Or should they play the game as they have designed it?  One of these two candidates is NOT in the lead. Do their own parties have so much confidence as to ignore that fact?  The candidate who is behind should be begging for Libertarians to turn out en masse and vote.

And if neither campaign feels that confident about their numbers, then both should be begging for Libertarians to turn out and vote for their principles.

So do not tell me our votes are wasted.  Our votes just might save your candidate to make it to a runoff.

After Tuesday, if there is no runoff, rest assured one of the two candidates would have liked to have one.

They could reshape their campaigns and let the chips fall where they may.

Do you feel lucky Kemp?  Do you feel lucky Abrahms?  Do you feel confident that your side is in the lead sufficiently to win with 50% plus 1 of the vote?  Or should you play for the tie and go into overtime?

It’s not too late to encourage the Libertarians to vote for Ted Metz, for your own good.  In fact, it just might be the best move your candidate has ever made.

Georgia’s Gubernatorial Process is Broken-Will Ted Metz Highlight That Once and For All?

It’s a three way race for Georgia’s highest position and that race more than ever shows just how broken the process is.  It’s evolved into a race of popularity, not principles.  Truly principled candidates do not make it to the November race with one exception-Ted Metz. Ted Metz is the principled Libertarian candidate for governor.

Why might I say that?  It’s simple. A qualified principled candidate for governor for the State of Georgia will not get out of the primaries.  In fact, the truly principled candidates split their vote.  And the two names that move to the runoff?   They are more popular than principled.

Why might I say that?  During the primaries voters are repeatedly reminded that they should vote for a candidate that can “win” the primary.  And the primary is truly not about principles, but who has the greatest name recognition.  Look at the results below:

Georgia Governor Republican Primary
Candidate Percent Votes
Casey Cagle (Republican)  39% 236,486
Brian Kemp (Republican)  25.6% 155,037
Hunter Hill (Republican)  18.3% 111,206
Clay Tippins (Republican)  12.2% 74,047
Michael Williams (Republican)  4.9% 29,555

The leading vote recipient  LT. Governor, Casey Cagle received only 39% of the vote.  Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State, received only 25.6%.  These two would go on to a runoff where Kemp eventually wins the nomination.

But be certain there were tens of thousands of votes who felt another candidate was more qualified, but voted for Cagle or Kemp only because they felt one of these two had the “chance to win”.  That’s the culture we live in.  Vote for the winner and not your principles.

Now we are facing the November election and Kemp, who only received 25.6% of the primary vote(74% of the Republican electorate thought someone was more qualified) faces Stacey Abrahms, who received 76% of Democratic electorate’s vote.

Which is why Ted Metz, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, is already being labeled incorrectly as a “spoiler” in this race.  Mr. Metz is not a spoiler.  Metz is highlighting just how flawed our system is.

A major party(The Republicans) eliminates the principled candidates systematically to select a “popular” candidate that will face the Democrats in November.  That is what I call flawed to the nth degree.  The Republicans have alienated a good number of voters prior to the November vote.  In reality, the more candidates you have in the primaries the more likely the principled candidates will fail.

What could address this issue? That’s simple.  Instant Runoff Voting. You can read about it here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

You, the voter, would not be forced to compromise between principled and popular.  Looking at the results above, you would have selected three candidates and marked your preferences 1,2 and three. If no one receives 50% plus 1, then  the lowest vote recipient is removed, and if that was your first choice, your second choice is used.  This continues until one recipient has 50% plus 1.

Imagine what the vote would be like in Georgia’s Gubernatorial race if we used the Instant Runoff Methodology this November.

First, we’d have NO runoff and campaigning after the November election

Second, we could vote our principles first and foremost.  Shouldn’t this be what we do in the first place?

Were that to happen then during the election cycle, all the candidates would need to expand their appeal to as many voters as possible, and not just their party.  It’s likely both the Democrats and the Republicans would now find it worthwhile to appeal to the Libertarian voters in particular, because it would matter.

Were that to happen, we’d have a better outcome for everyone.

But, on the first Tuesday, we’ll see just who happened to be the most popular recipient of votes and not who was the most principled.

And for that, we will all suffer.

You, however can send a clear message.  Vote for Ted Metz.  Vote for him by the hundreds of thousands.  Force the runoff. Make both parties appeal to those that voted for Metz

Then you can vote in the popularity contest in a few weeks and see if it makes a difference with their campaign rhetoric.

The choice is yours.

Johns Creek Property Taxes: Fifteen Minutes With Council Member Stephanie Endres

Council Member Endres discusses the ins and outs of property taxes and how they impact the residents of Johns Creek.

Property taxes are a fact of life.  But how they really work remains shrouded behind a wall of mystery.  How did they conclude your home rose in value by 27% without someone buying it?  Why are commercial properties not rising in value.  Why are commercial lots valued far below the actual market value?  What is a rollback rate?  Why am I paying so much more for City Services than my neighbor is?

These are just some of the questions many of us have and today Council Member Stephanie Endres will discuss a few of these issues.

 

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ejmoosa/2018/07/28/property-taxes-in-johns-creek-15-minutes-with-council-member-endres

A New Year-A New Look To The City Council

Johns Creek has a new look to the City Council for 2018, and I consider that a very good thing.

Residents returned Stephanie Endres to the City Council for 4 more years.  Endres has been asking the right questions since well before she was elected the first time, during her numerous Public Comments made challenging what the Council was doing.  We are very fortunate to have her back and continuing to do what she does best.

Lenny Zaprowski who also was re-elected, is now the Mayor Pro Tem.  This is a welcome change.  It is critical for the residents that this position is not just someone that represents the same positions as what the Mayor represents.

I expect Zaprowski to challenge on necessary and important issues.  There are questions that must be asked of the City Staff, and sometimes the answers will not be what people want to hear, but they must be heard.  Zaprowski took a step in this direction at Monday’s Work Session when he asked how much were we going to spend and how much time was going to be saved by drivers when we widen Kimball Bridge Road.  If Zaprowski can comfortably recognize that we must challenge what the Staff says because the Staff does not know every answer(they are human), then the residents can get better solutions for our problems.

If Zaprowski realizes that he can still be nice and ask the hard questions at the same time, the results will be beneficial for residents of Johns Creek.

John Bradberry rounds out the changes to the City Council for 2018.  Bradberry worked diligently to win this seat, and now the hard work really begins.  Bradberry has been an advocate for the residents from the time he was a member of the JCCA to the formation of Preserve Johns Creek.  Bradberry attempted to bring more attention to the Billboard issues, which are still a bane on the face of Johns Creek, as well as highlight that we have a Historical African-American Cemetery that was sitting neglected.  Hopefully we can get the proper signage and care in place for that location for future generations.

There are many changes set to be pushed upon the residents of Johns Creek.  Our eyes are wide open.  The biggest tax push this year will be another 1/2 cent sales tax for MARTA/Mass Transit.

The questions need to start with ” Are buses along 141 and State Bridge Road worth $10 million a year to the residents of Johns Creek? Are residents willing to pay $10 million for something that is unproven as an congestion relief tool?”

We’ve had buses running for more than a decade supplied by GRTA.  They are empty.

Where’s the return on that investment?  If they are so underutilized, why haven’t they moved to smaller buses for this “experiment” which would be cheaper to operate?

Let’s hope that this New-Look Council can start asking these and other questions BEFORE we are forced to make a decision with the legislative gun to our heads once again.

 

 

 

Johns Creek: At a Crossroads (Or Being Pushed Towards A Different Outcome)

The semantics are similar, and people can argue which is which.  But make no mistake about it, Johns Creek has been pushed for the last ten years towards change.

The affects of this change are readily apparent in our annual CAFR reports.  Our per capita income is declining.  Our density(number of people) per square acre is rising.

It seems that there are those among us that believe we just need more population to make all of the things we have in Johns Creek work.  More residents justify the need for more services.  More residents justify the need for Bus Rapid Transit.  And you need to have a place for all of these residents to live, and while mostly built out, the only wan to do this is to increase the density of our housing.

The recent “first draft” of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan was revealing.  While the CAC and the City have more or less dismissed this draft, it was they that brought it to us. Continue reading

Operation: Silence The Opposition

What happens when you challenge the leadership in your community?  What happens if you do not accept the notion that the best choices were made, that the best outcomes were achieved?  What if you challenge the ideas that the future of your community needs to be drastically different from the community that you have chosen to call home?

In Johns Creek, you are given labels.  You are called a hater.  You are labeled as the wrong type of person to hang around.  Your elected officials tell people that you are the wrong types of people to associate with.  Those crying in the public arena about bullies are actually the bullies of Johns Creek, using their efforts in an attempt to silence the opposition. Continue reading

Fats Domino: New Orleans Legend

Fats Domino passed away this week.  Being born in New Orleans meant you were aware of music and musicians at an early age.  I was no exception.

Domino was a fixture in New Orleans, where he had soaked up the influences of the musical melting pot and, even after gaining fame, stayed in his old neighborhood where he would sometimes sleep outside in a hammock.

I can still remember the day in the 1960’s, when my parents, who loved to take long rides, drove us past the home of Fats Domino.  It was not the first time, but it was the time that I remember that Fats Domino was sitting outside on the porch.

“Wave to him” one of my parents said.  And I did.

Fats Domino waved back, creating a memory I can see to this day.as if it were yesterday.

Rest in Peace, Fats.  We are gonna miss your presence.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/10/25/rock-n-roll-pioneer-fats-domino-dead-89/