Old Drum

Commentary on Warrensburg, Johnson County and Missouri issues from a Libertarian perspective. View my earlier commentary at www.olddrum.net.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Branding Again

A while back I wrote about Marshall grabbing onto something from their local heritage to focus efforts around. In their case it was Jim, the Wonder Dog; they came up with a slogan "Smart Dog, Fine Folks" as a basis for marketing their town. Previously, Marceline has promoted itself as the home of Walt Disney. Now, I see another Missouri town has latched onto something from its heritage - "Chillicothe, Home of Sliced Bread." An article in the electric co-op magazine, "Rural Missouri" ends with the quote from the local visitor center director, "we hope people will think of us as the greatest town since sliced bread."

Chillicothe came up with a slogan relevant to their history, one that also relates to an old saying about something really good. And they did it on their own. Marshall, I believe, came up with their slogan on their own. But we can't do that here in Warrensburg; we have to bring in someone from outside to tell us what to think. Then, we have to deny our heritage and refuse to use anything related to it. That $60,000 spent on the consultant for a "brand" that has to be explained even to residents could have been better used for promotion of something understandable that we could all buy into enthusiastically.

For some reason, Warrensburg sneers at anything locally invented. We give tax incentives to out-of-town developers who will compete with locally-owned businesses. Instead of pride in the town, its history and local creativity, Warrensburg has a municipal inferiority complex. Despite that, I still think Warrensburg is a dog-gone good town.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gas Price Ponderings

I'm a confirmed believer in the Free Market as a mechanism for pricing and allocating resources, but the variation in gas prices across the state has even me wondering. I drove to the St. Louis area last weekend. Gas was $2.85 to $2.89 in Warrensburg before I left. At the same time it was about a nickel lower in nearby Sedalia. As I got within 60 miles of St. Louis, prices fell below $2.80. Along the I-44 strip from Eureka (6 Flags park) to their I-270 loop, prices ran from $2.69 all the way down to $2.64.

Frankly, I don't understand it. St. Louis has air quality restrictions that affect the blends and should make gas more expensive. Sure, there's more demand in areas with larger populations, but I doubt that the cost of supplying the gas to a station in Beaufort or Rosebud is that much less than the cost of supplying it to Warrensburg.

Perhaps someone who really understands gasoline marketing can comment on why we pay so much more than motorists in so many other areas of the state.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Addicted to Subsdies

I visited the Libertarian Party booth at the State Fair yesterday and got to talking property rights issues with a Libertarian from the Bolivar area. Seems that they're having a big flap down there on a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) project at one of the new interchanges on the new 4-lane MO-13. A big developer convinced the city to give him a sales tax TIF. The Polk County Commission and Sheriff are dubious about supporting the development by giving up their share of sales taxes and are apparently going to sue the City to get out of it.

Their county officials are a bit slower than ours were back in 1998 when a local proposal was shot down - Ray Fitterling (not to mention his election opponents) all let the city know where the County would stand before the city council voted, and it failed 3-2. There, Bolivar has already approved the TIF before the Polk County commissioners got excited (probably after hearing from constituents in the rest of the county).

Why is this of interest to us in Johnson County? Well, guess who the developer is - yep, it's CEAH - the same folks who are sucking that 1/2 cent extra tax out of Wal-Mart shoppers to support their Hawthorne development. It appears they specialize in getting the rubes in small towns to underwrite their speculative developments (I don't care if you have a PhD, whenever you let the sharp operators fast talk and scam you, you are a "rube" by definition). I wonder where else CEAH is playng this game.

In Liberty

Sunday, August 13, 2006

YES and Tax Credits

A digitalBurg.com article on 8/11 reports that Youth Excited about Sports (YES) received a $190,000 check from a construction firm working on their new youth activity center. Private donations to support privately-run good work are good. Actually, the growth of the YES organization shows that youth sports can be provided without direct support of local taxpayers, something that I find commendable. So what's my beef?

Take a look back a few months at a November 21 digitalBurg.com article - YES has received tax credits in the amount of $1.3 million, leading to a potential direct reduction in taxes of $650,000 for the various donors. In other words, the donor of this $190,000 will reduce its state income taxes by $95,000 - at Missouri's 6% top bracket, that would be worth only $11,400 as a regular deduction. The remaining $83,600 comes from taxpayers across the state. Pretty good deal for the donor-taxpayer and for the qualifying charity. Not so good for the people whose favorite charities don't qualify.

What's wrong with this system? It allows government to pick which charities get its official blessing and which don't, which makes government a player rather than a referee. It favors large donors over small ones - the people who give the most in comparison to their incomes can't even itemize deductions, so get nothing at all. Back in November I commented on the intitial announcement of the credits (see archives), saying
"Perhaps if we'd do away with the income tax and replace it with a consumption-based tax (the Fair Tax), we could let people make their charitable decisions without tax policy skewing the decision process." I stand by those comments.

In Liberty

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Primary Thoughts

Turnout for the primary election was expected to low, but even the low forecats turned out to be optimistic. And when races are close, turnout can have a critical effect. Two races were decided by under 80 vote (that's 4 per precinct) each. There was adequate information out there to help people make informed decisions, so I don't know why people didn't take it upon themselves to vote.

All Politics is Local - as Tip O'Neill said, local races drove the turnout. In Johnson County, where the Republicans had several contested local races, about 1,000 fewer votes were cast in the Democratic primary. Similar patterns occurred in Pettis and Morgan Counties. On the other hand, Henry County had 8 times as many Democrats as Republicans go to the polls, with hotly contested local races.

Name Recognition is Key - at least in most cases. How else can one explain the Republicans in the 4th Congressional District continuing to nominate Jim Noland to be Ike Skelton's designated electoral victim? This dspite a well-funded campaign by a credible younger opponent. Locally, Karl Timmermann was able to overcome the name recognition of Mary Ann Young, possibly thanks in part to a negative campaign by an unknown outside committee calling attention to some of Young's prosecutorial problems. Alice Mistler ran a very strong race to come so close to Teresa Collins, already fairly well-known from serving on the Warrensburg R-VI School Board.

It's now about 90 days from the general election, in which most races will be contested by both Democrats and Republicans, with even a few Libertarians thrown in. It's to be hoped that the media will do a good job in getting plenty of word out well before the election. During my time in the military I often had to vote by mail; I found it difficult to get any information about local & even statewide races and issues, which in turn made it difficult to vote intelligenetly on these offices and issues. Since I doubt that the DSJ will change its timing, it's up to digitalBurg.com to make information available on a timely basis.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

County Committee Meetings

It may seem silly to have state law govern how political parties organize themselves, but it does and our local Libertarians will comply. So if you consider yourself a Libertarian and would like to get involved, please read the announcement below:

"The Johnson County Libertarian Committee will hold its 2006
reorganization meeting at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, August 15th, in the Action
Realty Conference Center, 618 N Maguire St (Action Realty Bldg next to
Hardees). Anyone interested in the Libertarian Party or in serving on
the Libertarian Party’s County Committee is invited to attend. For more
information, contact Bill Wayne, 660-747-5728 or Randy Langkraehr,

There's also a meet-up link from the local party website or you can post a "reply" to this blog entry.

In Liberty

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Primary Election

There's a primary election on Tuesday, and maybe we'll get some local turnout. If we do, it'll be on the Republican side. My Libertarians have 4 uncontested candidates on the ballot, and the Democrats don't have any serious contests. Ah, but the Republicans!

Statewide, they have an interesting race for the State Auditor nomination. A couple of legislators, a county auditor and at least 1 more person. I wish I knew more about these people, their voting records in the legislature or performance records in their county, so I could decide among them intelligently.

(added Saturday AM) There's also a race for the sacrificial lamb to oppose Ike Skelton forthe 4th COngressional District. I really hope they pick someone besides the their "Harold Stassen" - Jim Noland. Parnell is a strong supporter of the Fair Tax, so that gives him a small plus.

Locally, the County Auditor race (Alice Mistler vs Teresa Collins) is also interesting. While I've met Mistler a couple of times, both of them seem to have decent qualifications. This one may be decided by who has the best connections over in Holden.

The Associate Circuit Judge race between Karl Timmermann and Mary Ann Young is getting quite some attention. As Prosecutor, Young certainly has the name recognition - and some negatives that come with the job. Since the code of ethics pretty much prevents judicial candidates from saying anything except "I'm Qualified," some other committee is running ads on KOKO making sure that everyone knows about Young's negatives. Personally, I'm impressed with what I've seen of Timmerman.

The other contetsted race is for the Prosecutor spot being vacated by Young. Two assistant prosecutors are running against each other - Tom Hendrix (whom I know) is opposed by Lynn Stoppy Brackin (whom I don't).

The other items on the ballot are the 0.1% state Parks & Conservation sales tax and a local 5% cabaret tax (on people who frequent our strip clubs). I already voted, since I'll be out of town on Tuesday. While I voted a Libertarian ballot (& as the LP County Chairman welcome anyone else who does), I fully understand that many libertarian-leaning people will next week want to vote where there's a contest.

So, please read up on these candidates. The Daily Star Journal had a set of articles on them, and I presume the Holden paper did, as well - and possibly papers from neighboring towns close to our border (all available at Trails Library). Also, don't forget to look at the coverage in digitalBurg.com.

In Liberty