Archive for the ‘Local Government’ Category

Captain Rick: The Senate and House passed a short-term spending bill that prevented a government shutdown at the end of the week. It has White House backing.

This legislation allows Congress to ‘kick the can down the road’ until after America elects a new President and new members of Congress. With a bunch of ‘lame ducks’ residing in congress at that time, you can bet they will again ‘kick the can down the road’ with another short-term spending bill to fund the government until after a new President and Congress take office in January. That’s when the excitement begins …

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Fights over raising the debt limit broke out between the Obama White House and ruling Republicans in Congress in 2011 and 2013, unsettling Wall Street and foreign investors. The two sides struck a deal in 2015 to suspend the debt limit until Obama left office. The federal debt limit has been suspended since late 2015, but the law is set to be reinstated on March 16, 2017. The current debt limit of $20.1 trillion will be breached and another funding emergency will be at hand to prevent another U.S. government shutdown.

Government shutdowns in the past have become a ‘joke’ in that certain federal employees are told to stay home without pay, until Congress passed legislation to fund the government, which often included increasing the national debt and awarded compensation for all lost pay … meaning their time off was really an extra paid vacation; an insult to hard working employees of ‘Main Street’ America. The ‘Shutdown Game’ can not continue much longer because America is coming ever so close to falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’. Many federal programs like Obamacare, Medicaid, Medicare and even Social Security are projected to implode in coming years without serious spending/taxation reform.

The U.S. National Debt has more than doubled since President Obama took office; from $9 trillion to $19.5 today. It is exploding at rate of $1.35 trillion each year. More than $10 trillion of ‘red ink debt dollars’ have been spent to keep the federal government functioning during the Obama Administration.

About 15% of money spent by the federal government has no revenue to support the expenditure and thus adds to the national debt. Much of this debt spending goes to states and cities in the form of federal grants. Our states and cities ‘drink up’ the grants like it is ‘free money coming from heaven’. Their philosophy is ‘if we don’t get the grant, some other city or state will’. What an awesomely greedy and fiscally reckless way to think. Shame on every city and state in America for slurping up these slush grants which add to the mushrooming U.S. National Debt. Our cities and states are a main contributors to the growing problem of America’s National Debt … debt which will be placed upon future generations to pay back … including our children and grand children. It’s a serious matter to think about.

I hope the next President and Congress will begin to balance the budget and curtail deficit spending. Saving America from falling off of the real and pending ‘Fiscal Cliff’, will not be easy. It will require ‘belt tightening’ by people, cities and states across America and most importantly by the U.S. Federal Government and our elected representatives in the U.S. Congress.

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Captain Rick: Once in a while I come across a website that is worthy of my recognition and promotion. Such is the case with GilbertWatch.com. Its publisher, Anita Christy, works endlessly for no pay, like me, to convey important information. Anita…this is a tribute to you and the great service that you provide to many in Gilbert, Arizona and beyond.

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Click the image link above to view a Gilbert Watch report that features Atridim News Journal and its Gilbert Council Scorecard. From it you can access the entire Gilbert Watch site. I appreciate Atridim News Journal being listed as a resource on the Gilbert Watch ‘Resources’ menu

ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL introduces a new page…Resources

I created this page as means to appreciate and recognize blog sites that are outstanding in excellence…especially those that promote ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL by reblogging ANJ posts or presenting links to ANJ. The world works so much better when we all work together. I am pleased to present Gilbert Watch as ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL’s first resource.

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Captain Rick: Gordon Ray is a chief research investigator for NNCIA, a group of citizens working to prevent Gilbert Arizona from adopting unnecessary 2012 ICC Building Codes into law. He presents guest commentary on this important subject facing Gilbert and thousands of cities across America. Gordon is a leader of liberty that people from all cities across America and beyond should pay attention to.

Guest Commentary

by

Gordon Ray

Gilbert, Arizona

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To all Defenders of Freedom of Choice and Liberty,

The town management of Gilbert, AZ came up with several reasons that they felt the town council should adopt the 2012 ICC Building Codes into law before any of the councilmen had a chance to even read them.
The ICC 2006 codes were adopted on November 13, 2007 with no discussion from council. The following statement was also adopted at the same time!

Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or by
imprisonment for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each day that a violation continues shall be a separate offence punishable as herein described.

A group of concerned citizens found out about the plan and they started to do some research into town management’s reason for adoption of the 2012 ICC codes. The result of the research has been enlightening, to say the least! The citizens group found out, through their research, that every single reason for adoption presented by town management, in their opinion, was flawed.

The town management continued to press for adoption. The citizens group began an education campaign to gain support for their movement to make the codes voluntary (per the ICC preface page) except for structural items and
life/safety items.

As the citizen’s group studied, they found out that the ICC is just a non-profit group of businessmen with ties directly to the executive branch of the federal government! Did anyone pay attention when President Obama proclaimed March as "National Building Code Month"? These men found out that they can make a lot of money by stacking committees to approve certain building products that would then be listed in the codes they wrote. These men would then sell their code books to town and city councils and get the councils to pass the codes into law for them!
Once the codes were law, their products would be mandated for use by every builder and would then make millions for the code writers and their people.

It appears that all towns and cities think that they need to adopt the latest codes for "status reasons" so that they do not look as being "backwards" to other communities. With that apparent mindset by the town of Gilbert, the citizens group came up with 3 amendments to be added to the adoption of the 2012 ICC codes that would limit the enforcement of the codes to important items only.
They are as follows:
Amendment #1 – Omit the Energy and Green Code completely (must not be adopted as optional).
Amendment #2 – Restrict enforcement of the ICC codes to the existing plan review and inspection checklists, which are already in place. These existing checklists can be reviewed, amended, and updated as needed by the Town Council. With only the important code items being enforced, it makes for more consistency in plan reviews and especially in field inspections. (not to mention the reduction of the time involved reviewing plans and making inspections.) 
Amendment #3 – Establish an ongoing review process to identify and remove mandates that are not life/safety.
Our group feels that the important life/safety issues were addressed and implemented many years ago in previous codes. They have now become common practice. We propose keeping those items in place. We do not see a need to become "more safe" with thousands of dollars of useless codes adopted every three years! We do not feel in danger when we enter an older home or building that was built under the former outdated ICC code or any other code for that matter.

Here are some questions to consider when you think that we NEED to be on the latest and greatest codes:
When you made the decision to buy the home you are in now, did you for even one second consider the "code" the home was built under in making that decision? Or, did you think, because this is an older home, is this home going to be a safe home for my kids? Or did you just think "how will this home serve my family’s needs"? Knowing full well that you could add or change anything you want to make the home serve the needs of your family after you moved in.
We want safe homes like everyone else! We do not want to be forced to buy products or to be mandated, by law, to install all the unnecessary items that should be optional in a "free market"  that are now called out in the ever-changing ICC family of codes.

Gordon
For more information on this subject, visit: http://www.nonewcodes.com/

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Building Codes

Gilbert Town Council

Gilbert Council Proper Votes

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Guest Commentary

Captain Rick: The Council of Gilbert, Arizona will vote Thursday on the controversial issue of adopting ICC’s 2012 building codes. Local builders say adoption of this code upgrade is forcing elevated costs because of non-life-safety standards, especially ‘energy-saving’ and ‘green’ ones, which ultimately end up being passed to the home buyers.

I believe the ICC is a ‘money hungry’, ‘union-like’ organization that is on track to become the world’s “Big Brother”…being fueled by our local government’s sensation for being a blind follower and investor of citizen tax dollars in ‘blind waste’. I despise the ICC sucking in my fellow Gilbert citizens as victims. Other cities, states and countries should pay close attention to this so that they do not also become victims of the ICC “Big Brother”.

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I consider this an extremely important issue…one of the most important in my 16 years as a Gilbert citizen.

I share with you an email I sent to the Town Council of Gilbert, Arizona today:

Mayor John Lewis and Councilmembers,

I urge you to reject approval of incorporation of the 2012 ICC Code into Gilbert building code law, unless amended as follows

I urge you to approve an amendment to eliminate or make voluntary the ‘Green’ and ‘Energy-saving’ sections of the code.

While these sections contain some good ideas and new technology, they also contain some bad ideas and technology that is already obsolete. I offer the case of the CFL bulb as a prime example. It is stipulated in the 2012 ICC code, yet this technology is already obsolete, proven to be a ‘waste hazardous’ detriment to our land fills. CFL lighting is rapidly being overtaken by LED lighting. A few short years ago all of the HDTV sets in the world were back lit by CFL lighting. That is all history. Solid state LED lighting has totally taken over the HDTV industry. The same is rapidly taking place in the home lighting arena. This is just one example of outdated technology stipulated in the 2012 ICC code.

If ICC is paying attention, I suspect we will see them catch up and incorporate LED technology in the 2015 code. The important point I make is that technology is expanding at a far greater speed than the intelligence of the ‘old world idiots’ at ICC. To make any of their ‘green’ and ‘energy-saving’ technology mandatory, would be like taking a chain an wrapping it around the legs of our builders. The ONLY intelligent way to keep up with the rapidly expanding world of technology is to make all of this ‘stuff’ voluntary. Lets let technology be the driver…not some archaic set of outdated ICC code.

Think what would have happened to HDTVs if America let the ICC dictate how HDTVs were designed and built. We would be living in the dark ages. Its time to loosen the reigns of government and let the professionals take control (none of which reside at the ‘money hungry, union-like’ ICC). It will produce a lot finer America.

I would like to see Gilbert set a shining example for the world to view…how we do things right…not by following other communities that have lost the ability to think and innovate…needing to incorporate ‘caveman’ technology as presented by the ICCs ‘Green’ and ‘Energy-saving’ codes.

I also believe it would be of great benefit for Gilbert to create a new commission of volunteers to help mold future Gilbert building code law. I envision this commission to be on a similar level of or at least an extension of our planning commission. Perhaps they could be assigned the task of wading thru the massive, mile-high, mountain of ICC codes and determine what is really good for Gilbert.

It is no secret that I am not fond of the ICC, a union-like, not-for-profit corporation that is using its vast wealth to become our world’s ‘Big Brother’. I see the citizens of Gilbert lie among its endless sea of victims.

By making these codes voluntary, it gives builders extra options, but does not obligate them to suffer losses realized from bad and often outdated code. Gilbert code should stipulate code which primarily promotes life safety. It should not mandate energy efficiency or green technology…but rather encourage the ideas as voluntary.

For increased understanding of ICC Building Codes, please read my series of posts on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/building-codes/

Captain Rick

View the minutes of this historic Gilbert Town Council meeting in the first comment below. 

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Building Codes

Gilbert Town Council

Gilbert Council Proper Votes

Gilbert Council Scorecard

Captain Rick: Councilmember Victor Petersen says Gilbert Arizona’s new budget represents a decrease in government efficiency by spending more tax dollars per citizen. The Town Council recently adopted a $466 million budget for FY14 that included a massive increase in employee compensation due to a new over-inflated pay structure and addition of several new $80,000 to $100,000 positions. The $12 million (12%) increase in general fund spending results in a spike in general fund costs of an average of $39 for each of Gilbert’s estimated 233,000 citizens and presents a 6% decrease in government efficiency.

The spreadsheet Victor presents below demonstrates this spike in costs. As an engineer, I examined its calculations and confirm they are accurate. The slope of the incline for the coming year closely resembles the incline experienced during the three reckless spending years leading up to the stock market crash and ‘Great Recession’. Considering the anemic condition of our economy, with GDP growth well below what is considered healthy, this new spending spree concerns me greatly. We can not afford another year or two of addition reckless spending. I applaud Victor for bringing this important information to our attention. I believe cities across America and beyond will be interested in the data Victor presents.

Victor was one of two councilmembers that voted ‘NO’ … against adoption of the budget as presented. This has earned him Captain Rick’s “PROPER VOTE” on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL’s “Gilbert Council Scorecard”, which keeps track of how Gilbert Councilmembers vote on important, controversial issues.   

I invited Victor to present guest commentary on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL concerning his vote on this important fiscal event. He graciously accepted. I am honored to present …

Guest Commentary

by

Victor Petersen

Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona

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The latest budget adoption represents a decrease in government efficiency in Gilbert. One of our strategic initiatives is "High Performing Government," which is a worthy goal but our council has settled for less performance by spending significantly more tax dollars per citizen than in years past.

It is especially troubling that the data suggests that we are heading off in the same direction that lead to the demand for a tax increase which is represented in this graph by the bubble from FY 06 to FY 10.

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This data shows that the amount we are spending for ongoing costs per citizen are increasing significantly. It’s troubling that it appears to be heading off in the same direction we saw before the big push for a sales tax increase. The simple fact is that where spending leads taxes must follow. I fear the direction that has been taken will require correction just like the data shows happened for the tax push years and correction was and is a painful process.

The bottom line is that instead of getting more efficient by making each tax dollar work harder we are actually seeing the opposite trend. I believe we owe it to ourselves and the taxpayers to improve in governmental efficiency and raise the bar we have set.

It must be recognized that most of this ongoing increase is due to the massive increase in compensation passed by the council. While some increase was merited Councilmember Taylor and I proposed a lesser increase which would have put total compensation more inline with the market and saved millions per year.

I am all for progress when it means replacing something good with something better, but I am a conservative when it’s proposed to replace what’s best with something less. I want to conserve the successes of the past and build on them for greater successes in the future. I believe in the right of our citizen’s to expect and even demand this and I believe in our staff’s ability to achieve it. We have set the bar here in Gilbert in government efficiency and we are the only ones who can raise it. We owe it to our citizens and to ourselves to do it.

Victor Petersen

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Gilbert Town Council Reports

Gilbert Arizona Reports

Captain Rick: Councilmember Jared Taylor says Gilbert, Arizona missed a great opportunity to continue a course of fiscal responsibility when the Council adopted the $466 million budget for FY14 that included the addition of several new $80,000 to $100,000 positions with no value added for the town’s 230,000 citizens.

Jared was one of two councilmembers that voted ‘NO’ … against adoption of the budget as presented. This has earned him Captain Rick’s “PROPER VOTE” on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL’s “Gilbert Council Scorecard”, which keeps track of how Gilbert Councilmembers vote on important, controversial issues.

I invited Jared to present guest commentary on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL concerning his vote on this important fiscal event. He graciously accepted. I am honored to present …

Guest Commentary

by

Jared Taylor

Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona

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The Town budget discussion for 2014 was a great opportunity to continue a course of fiscal responsibility. The budget represents many things, particularly the priorities of an organization.

As I looked at the budget proposals for fiscal year 2014 (FY14), many positive things were included to build a safer cleaner community. However, there were also areas of concern which made the Town government less efficient and less valuable to our citizens. For example, Town Staff recommended a number of administrative positions that cost approximately $80,000-$100,000 annually for each position. These positions would add no direct value to the lives of our citizens.

The larger concern of this budget for me was the increased burden it places on each citizen without increasing the value of the Town services to each citizen. In other words, we are not getting new parks or services although we are paying more for what we get. This increased rate of spending outpaced inflation at a rate which created multi-million dollar deficits.

The recommendation to have the budget follow the rate of inflation was based on the wise advice by Councilmember Jenn Daniels to create a policy to guide this and future budgets. This policy would avoid Council from going through the details of the budget, but would give the Town Manager the direction and flexibility to manage the Town within responsible limits.

The primary argument to increase spending was to fully fund what is known as WIGs. (A.k.a. Wildly Important Goals) One of the major outcomes for the WIGs is for the Town to be more operationally efficient. Unfortunately, we are not becoming more efficient with this budget, but less efficient. Other concerns were presented that we are not able to find enough money to cut although those were quickly addressed.

In the end, a budget with too much spending was passed by a 5-2 vote. Further, this budget was not based on an agreed upon policy or a serious cost containment strategy. The FY14 budget’s rate of growth outpaces inflation and puts us on a path to run a deficit in 1-2 years. Any uptick in sales tax revenues will mask this for a few years, but when another downturn hits, we’ll be forced to make a decision to raise taxes or make drastic cuts again. The recommendation to follow the rate of inflation more effectively controls our spending and is more aligned with other costs hard-working taxpayers are facing day-to-day.

I’m committed to a small and efficient Town government. Our staff aspires to be a “high-performing government” on paper, but unfortunately doesn’t consistently follow high-performing practices of other organizations. We can do better and I’m looking forward to working with them more to understand ways to stay focused on adding value to our citizen’s lives.

Government should not be a jobs program. Government exists to protect individual rights. As Abraham Lincoln said 150 years ago, government should be “of the people, by the people, for the people” and our budgets should reflect this commitment. I will continue to work to make it so in Gilbert.

Jared Taylor

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Previous Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Reports

Gilbert Town Council Reports

Gilbert Arizona Reports

Captain Rick: The ICC (International Code Council) is becoming ‘Big Brother’ to control the makeup of your home…the methods and products used in its construction and the products that you can use or install after purchase. These codes are infiltrating local building codes across America, Canada, Australia, Europe and beyond.

The ICC’s intentions are to write a code to regulate every building method and product used such that every house and building on earth is 100% safe and 100% efficient…by their standards. I ask…’who are they…big brother’? I see this as a major intrusion of liberty and increased cost for citizens of America and beyond. These codes contain many good elements concerning safety and and some for efficiency, but for the most part, they are an endless wish list of regulation that invades the liberty of people and forces them to absorb significant added cost for little or no proven gain.

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Big Brother’s face looms from giant telescreens in Victory Square in Michael Radford’s 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the term “Big Brother” has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties.

The Cost of ICC’s madness

The ICC is getting rich milking local and state governments and builders $1347.95 for a single user license of the complete collection of the 2012 building codes on CD ROM. If every state, major city and builder in the U.S. purchased one license, the ICC’s income would exceed $1 Billion. This material is also being marketed in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe and beyond. It is easy to assume actual ICC income is well beyond that and the entire sum plus a myriad of added expenses at the state and local levels are all passed on to the end user…the citizens of America and beyond. I view the ICC’s efforts as a major financial rip-off of citizen’s tax dollars and more importantly…their liberty. I wonder if the ICC is becoming part of ‘Big Brother’ as presented in George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’…a lexicon for abuse of government power, particularly with respect to civil liberties.

More Information:

I welcome you to view my previous blog post on this matter of extreme importance: https://atridim.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/u-s-building-codes-facing-major-upgrade-is-this-a-good-plan-or-a-recipe-for-disaster-some-excited-some-fear-is-liberty-at-stake/

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Building Codes: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/building-codes/

Gilbert Council Proper Vote Scorecard: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gilbert-council-proper-vote-scorecard/

Gilbert Town Council: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/gilbert-town-council/