Friday, November 28, 2008

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Why is it so hard for politicians to admit a mistake? After the Enron and WorldCom debacles, the knee jerk reaction by Congress was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. While the intent was to eliminate fraud, there is evidence that it is hurting the venture capital industry and doing more harm that good in other areas. It now takes around 12 years to enter the capital market when it used to take 5 years. That's because, it is more difficult to raise the 4.36 million in hidden taxes in yearly compliance costs. Originally, the cost was estimated at around $91,000. Big difference.

It created personal criminal responsibilities for board members. This narrowed the number of well qualified board members willing to accept the personal responsibilities. Many smaller companies reverted back to private status or merged to lower costs. It also made it more probable companies that considered going public would do so in London rather than anywhere in the United States. Sarbanes -Oxley created massive amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy. Those companies that complied fully were the ones who lead the financial breakdown in the investment banks in 2008.

Oxley, who retired in January after 25 years in Congress said that he would have written it differently and he believes Sarbanes would as well. Everyone felt the urgency that something must be done. "Everyone felt like Rome was burning." He said it was like nothing he had seen in his 25 years in Congress.

It is time to repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. If other laws are needed, they should take the time to do them correctly. We can not afford anymore damage to our economy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Recall Wayne Westland Style

You have to believe by now that I am not against recall after being involved in the attempt to recall Speaker Andy Dillon of Michigan for the last 1 1/2 years. I am, however, opposed to the recent attempts to recall members of the Wayne-Westland School Board. It seems that the attempt to recall them was a result of the school board's warning that they might fire teachers who failed to obey the law. They went out on strike for four days until the court ordered them back to work.

The Wayne-Westland Education Association stated that the board failed to respond to their request to reduce class size and that any reduction would have to come out of the teachers contract. The union rejected outright the proposal put out by the board that would allow a different insurance carrier.

The school board is not requesting that the teachers receive a cut in pay or a freeze. They are not suggesting a change in insurance benefits either. They are requesting that they be allowed to shop insurance instead of using MESSA. MESSA is a not-for-profit membership organization established by the MEA as a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). Because the union gets a cut, they are reluctant to allow competitive bidding. The union wants MESSA insurance at no cost to its members. The board wants to tie the districts costs to the increase in revenue received from the state. The union flatly refused it.

Salaries for the contract year 2007-2008 for Wayne Westland range from $34,409 for the first year new hire to $94,459 to a teacher who has a PHD and has been working for the district for 14 years. Their health care benefits are among the best money can buy. The districts MEAP scores are at or below the state average.

There is no doubt that teachers have a difficult job and a great deal of responsibility. But, they do have to get a grasp on reality. They have a closed community. They use children to their advantage and even to spread their propaganda which I believe they really think is true.
They can not go on living as if there has been no change in the economy and the world. They have to remember there are people standing in line wanting their job and they are qualified to do an equally good job or better. Taking children hostage is terrorism and their parents and the community are subject to extortion.

I am glad that they are going into fact finding. Maybe an equitable solution can be reached. In a state which will soon be in worse trouble, we can not make any more promises that we can not afford. Under no circumstances should the board allow binding arbitration. People should be applauding their board not recalling them.

You can recall your board, but it will not solve the problem.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Hope There is Not a Need for a Next Time

Speaker Andy Dillon has been reelected and not recalled. The people have spoken. Having been overspent by about $450,000 I guess we should have expected the outcome. Good things have come about as a result of this recall. We have prevailed in the courts. We have helped to partially level a very uneven playing field by defending our First Amendment rights. We have established that the important thing is the person signing not the person gathering the signatures. We now have a network of people who share our concerns.

Why is that so important? While Dillon brought in all kinds of people from outside the district in large numbers to harass us and block us, we were limited to those who lived within the 17 th district to collect signatures. The federal court had already made a decision that in the case of referendum any U.S. citizen can collect signatures. In our case, they made a decision that anyone within the state can collect signatures. This is very important for future efforts.

There is no doubt that I was displeased with the results of the recall. I hope that Rep. Dillon does not think that if he continues down the same path that the recall of him or others might not be revisited. They are destroying the state that I love. Some people think I am crazy, others have called me names, made vulgar remarks and snide comments. Other people have given me encouragement and support. I find it interesting that I have signed my name or the committee to everything I put out there but those who criticize me, call my phone, mail me x rated comments are all to cowardly to sign their names.

Let me make one thing clear. At no time did I lie, cheat, break the law, or commit fraud. If they think I did, let them press charges. We have already won three times in court, one more won't kill us. As for Andy Dillon, he will be judged by a higher being. I hope his trips to receive communion do not dam him to perdition. I am not one who believes that all is fair in politics.

Dillon did help increase income taxes- check your paycheck. Dillon did help place a 22% surtax on business after removing a 22% service tax which was so idiotic that even they recognized it after being shown. He did vote to raise the legislative budget by 7% and the state budget by 8%.

If he didn't, where did the money go?