More Government Powers The legislature is considering a couple of bills to make it easier for counties to institute detailed planning, along with zoning rules. SB193 by Sen. Griesheimer and HB487 by Rep. Shannon Cooper (Henry County) create the "Missouri County Planning Act." Hearings have already been conducted on both bills, so it appears they are on a fast track. To see details, go to http://www.house.mo.gov/jointsearch/ and search on the bill numbers. This is of particular interest to me, since a zoning issue 10 years ago is what propelled me into Libertarian activism. We whipped it then, but I don't know if we could do so again. Recently, someone floated a proposal to put a subdivision to house 200-400 sex offenders in an area of the county that has staunchly opposed zoning in the past, and the zoning petitions are flying around the county like snow in one of our recent storms. Information developed by the Holden Image and the Darla Jaye show in AM980 out of KC lead me to believe that it was a set-up; I suspect that someone who stands to gain from zoning paid the company (which happens to be headed by a Black man with a Muslim name - why not touch all the fears) to get everyone stirred up. In any case, I expect a rush to put zoning on the ballot; I have asked the County Commissioners to put me on the interim panel to draw up the draft plans so I can make them as palatable as possible. Naturally, I will oppose the ballot issue. Bill ( Feb 10 2007, 08:14:40 AM CST ) Permalink
Election results It's only 5 weeks after the election, and I've finally gotten around to posting the local election results at the Johnson County LP website (johnson.lpmo.org). LP candidates generally drew more votes & a larger share than in past elections - pretty much across the board. It's the task of the local LP committee to try to capitalize on this opportunity by trying to find and reach out to the voters. While it appears that the public is starting to realize that we're not going away, there's still a lot of work to do. I hope we ((& that includes me) are up to it. Bill ( Dec 13 2006, 07:42:55 AM CST ) Permalink Comments 
County and other Committees It's time to think about committee organization: According to Missouri Revised Statutes RSMo 100-199, we need to have county committees, congressional district committees, judicial district committees, state senatorial district committees and legislative district committees. County committees are those elected in the primary or appointed thereafter. Legislative committees are composed of the members of the county committee in that district 115-619. Congressional, senate and judicial committees are the chair/vice chair of the legislative committees and county committees in the district. Key dates: County committees meet at the county seat on the third Tuesday of August (see 115.615 Other committees (see 115-621 Congressional District committee - Third Wednesday in August Senatorial District - Third Saturday in August Judicial District - 1st Tuesday in September ( Aug 05 2006, 05:10:05 PM CDT ) Permalink
Now on the radio Our local station in Warrensburg sets aside an hour every morning for various public service programs, announcements, and paid programs. Our local legislator gives an update every Friday, which he pays for during campaign season. The democrat running for his seat has a short program on Wednesdays. I've just signed up for a 15-20 minute program on Wednesdays. Don't know if it'll get me votes, but it can't hurt. If you're passing thru Warrensburg on Wednesday at 9:10 AM, tune to 1450 KOKO (AM radio) and see if I acquit myself well. Bill ( Jul 24 2006, 07:50:13 PM CDT ) Permalink
Up to date A couple of recent letters in the Warensburg Daily Star Journal accuse the paper of shoddy journalism. In essence, it appears that the DSJ printed a press release from the Prosecutor‘s office as a news story and, not only wouldn‘t check with the...( Jul 19 2006, 07:28:29 PM CDT ) Permalink
Candidate Surveys As Libertarian candidate for Missouri House, 121st District, I've received and completed 18 legislative candidate surveys so far. Since I've not had time to put up any position papers yet, but I've scanned all of them in pdf format and posted them at my candidate website. It's amazing how many interest groups there are out there. I'll bet that neither of my opponents has made his responses public. Bill ( Jun 13 2006, 09:03:42 AM CDT ) Permalink
Back Door Zoning Shame on Shannon Cooper for sponsored a bill that will allow counties to shove planning and zoning down their citizens' throats, without a vote of the people. Instead of convincing a majority of the voters in a county that they need zoning, all that would be needed would be 2 out of 3 county commissioners. Thanks to the Misosuri Farm Bureau, I've learned that HB1976, sponsored by Shannon Cooper (R-120, Clinton - also southern Johnson County), actually sneaks in this egregious violation of our right to at least have a say on whether or not some appointed (yes, apointed, not elected) officials control how we use our property. Cosponsors include Rep Todd Smith (R-118, Sedalia), Jim Avery (R-95, Crestwood), Brian Yates (R-56, Lee's Summit), Charles Schlottach (R-111, Owensville), Steve Hunter (R-127, Joplin), Michael Parson (R-133, Bolivar), Ron Richard (R-129, Joplin), Vicki Schneider (R-17, O'Fallon), Kenneth Jones (R-117, California), Tom Dempsey (R-18, St. Charles), Mike Sutherland (R-99, Warrenton), Sally Faith (R-15, St. Charles), Gary Dusenberg (R-54, Blue Springs) and Rodney Schad (R-115, Versailles). Why would they want to take the power to decide from the people? Why would the Committee on Local Government vote it "Do Pass?" Why do the Republicans want to put property control decisions in the hands of an appointed elite? I don't know, but I do know what citizens of Johnson County should do - tell our State Representative(s) and Senator that WE WANT A SAY! ( Apr 21 2006, 05:49:18 PM CDT ) Permalink
Legislature Wimping on Eminent Domain I just heard a radio commercial from the Missouri Farm Bureau - they are very unhappy about the state legislature's watered-down eminent domain bill. What an opportunity for us to be recognized by an important political block here in Missouri as the only political party absolutely committed to property rights! I intend to make property rights the keystone of my campaign for state legislature. Bill ( Apr 21 2006, 06:26:03 AM CDT ) Permalink
Transportation Development Districts - a Libertarian issue? A Warrensburg digital news source published an article on Claire McCaskill's audit of the overall TDD program. A TDD allows the developer to impose a sales tax on all sales by retail establishments in his district, supposedly to to help pay for the infrastructure in the development. McCaskill's main point is that TDDs have passed sales taxes of up to $800,000,000 without the vote of any real live person. This is an abuse that cries out for reform. We should be in the forefront of a drive to correct it. It will be one of my key issues in my campaign for 121st District state rep. If you haven't filed for your desired office - you have only a week left! In Liberty ( Mar 20 2006, 07:24:37 AM CST ) Permalink
Filing for LP Committees Filing for offices opens in just two weeks. While we're concerned about fielding candidates (preferably competitive ones) for state, federal and county offices, let's not forget about party offices. Each established political party may have a committeeman and committeewoman from each precinct (township, ward, however you're organized - see the statute for details. All you have to do is file at the appropriate office, normally the County Clerk. If you're the only person who files for a position, your name won't even appear on the ballot. Naturally, there are some requirements. According to Missouri Revised Satutes 115.607. 1. "No person shall be elected or shall serve as a member of a county committee who is not, for one year next before the person's election, both a registered voter of and a resident of the county and the committee district from which the person is elected." There is a $25 filing fee in Jackson County (but this money goes to the local LP and can be waived - see the statute); it's free in all other counties. St. Louis County only selects committee members in gubernatorial years. Financial disclosure is NOT required. Plus, you get your name in the "Blue Book." OK - You live someplace other than St. Louis and you will have lived in your precinct for over a year on August 8th, you can file, between February 28th and March 28th. Let's all do it. Bill ( Feb 14 2006, 08:15:16 AM CST ) Permalink
Tax credits for non-profits Y.E.S., Aquila and tax credits: I suppose I should be pleased that Aquila (the electric company) has donated $7,000 to Youth Excited about Sports (Y.E.S.), since I have 300 shares of that benighted company. You see, that donation will reduce their state taxes by $3,500, thereby decreasing their loss for the year and inching them ever-so-minutely toward profitability. And, as I've said in a previous post, Y.E.S. appears on the surface to be a pretty worthwhile organization as a private entity offering an alternative to the tax-supported Warrensburg Parks & Rec programs. Then, why am I upset? I'm upset with state laws that give away great gobs of our money (in this case, up to $650,000 over two grants) to private charities. Wouldn't it be better to let taxpayers keep the money and donate to the organizations they feel are best qualified? I'm not sure how well-qualified Y.E.S. is, since on a quick search of charitable databases they weren't to be found (and the official Missouri state website was down), but it's still a decision I should make myself rather than having some committee do it for me (& for every other taxpayer). I'm upset with Aquila. The company is run by the Green brothers (nephews of Warrensburg Daily Star Journal owner Avis Tucker), who tried to make it a high-flying energy trader - like Enron. When Enron led the collapse of whole energy trading industry, it almost took Aquila with it. Since then, Aquila's been busily selling off its assets to cover its bad debts - and giving management substantial bonuses for doing so. And now they are asking the state to allow them to raise rates by about 30%. It would be nice to see what Aquila's annual donation expenditures are, even locally, and what percent of them qualify for tax credits. It would be very nice to see what Y.E.S. has been spending directly on programs compared to its overhead. It would be nicest of all if we got rid of the favor-laden income tax system that allows governments to give away other peoples' money ( Jan 10 2006, 08:52:09 AM CST ) Permalink
Transportation Development Districts - A Consumer Rip-off The Warrensburg City Council got into an unholy alliance with a developer and approved a Transportation Development District for a new commercial development here. Businesses who build in the district will collect an extra 1/2 cent sales tax for the next 25...( Dec 31 2005, 11:29:57 AM CST ) Permalink Comments 
Eminent Domain Coming to Johnson County? Highway 13 Bypass of Warrensburg – another example of the need to reform eminent domain rules: It seems that the Warrensburg area will soon have its own eminent domain crisis. The Missouri Department of Transportation had a “public...( Dec 29 2005, 04:35:56 PM CST ) Permalink
Stop the Bribery - Johnson County Enhanced Enterprise Zone Written for Warrensburg on 11/4: The Daily Star Journal reported that "local officials are looking into whether the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Tax Benefit Program would be a helpful way to increase economic growth in Johnson County." To be eligible, a location has to fit some formula that includes population, unemployment rates and poverty rates. This EEZ is another method to transfer taxpayer dollars to private businesses by giving them tax credits - i.e., corporate welfare. I call it bribery.
What's wrong with tax credits? Well, to start with they distort economic decisions. Businesses, instead of looking at true economic factors (labor force, cost of construction & production, transportation, etc.), have to compare the bribes offered by competing locales.
Second, they're based on artificial statistics. The so-called "poverty line" implies that people are in dire need. While some are truly needy, many people living in "poverty" have the modern amenities of American life - color TVs, cell phones, cars, etc. Unemployment rates discount the mobility of the population and the existence of unemployables. Traditionally, 4-5% unemployment rates are considered "full employment" and Johnson County's rate has been far below that rate.
Third, tax-based incentives for business take money from agencies other than the one granting the credits. In Johnson County, we have many taxing bodies outside of the cities and County. These include the schools, emergency services such as the hospital, ambulance district and fire districts, and community services such as the library, community health and the sheltered workshop. Presiding Commissioner Brenner is correct in citing this concern.
Whenever taxes due to a taxing district are taken as part of some sort of development incentive, the other districts must either do with less (not always a bad idea) or try to increase their own tax rate. In either case, the taxpayers are paying for services they are not getting because the money is going to "economic development."
In a Libertarian world, governments wouldn't be allowed to bribe businesses to relocate. Tax incentives are just another facet of government "taking" compensation, which our Supreme Court approved of in the 5-4 Kelo decision. While I recognize that we live in a competitive world where foreswearing tax incentives is tantamount to unilateral disarmament, we can start somewhere. On the local level, we can be very judicious in their use; at the state level, our legislature should forbid the use of incentives to induce a company to relocate from another city in the state. Eventually, perhaps we can rid ourselves of this pernicious practice.
( Dec 27 2005, 08:20:44 PM CST ) Permalink
A new Blog I've decided to add my comments to the Show ME Blog, based on the comments I write for local consumption in Warrensburg & Johnson County. I'll cross-post those that may be of interest outside the immediate area, possibly with additional comments to make them more relevant to our Missouri Libertarian community as a whole. I also want to help identify issues that we can use in legislative races, casting them in libertarian terms, but in a way to attract other voters disgusted with the excesses of government at all levels.
Please bear with me as I try to figure out the configuration of this blog as opposed to the one I do in Warrensburg. ( Dec 27 2005, 08:07:15 PM CST ) Permalink
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