12-1-2006 If there were a tax on smarts...

Just when we thought it was safe to get on out there and rake the leaves again, the self-aggrandizing Homer Simpson of Wilkes-Barre has spoken.

A letter to the editors of the Voice:

Business Improvement District tax amounts to double taxation downtown

Business Improvement District tax amounts to double taxation downtown

Editor: I have been attending Wilkes-Barre City Council meetings for the past three years, and it never ceases to amaze me how our elected officials continue to think of new ways to tax residents and members of the business community.

It was revealed on Nov. 24 that the chamber of commerce and city council are working together to initiate a Business Improvement District (BID) which, in essence, amounts to an additional tax on the businesses in and around the center of Wilkes-Barre (North Street to Pennsylvania Avenue to South Street to South and North River streets).

I have been watching the development of this “tax” since January of this year when city council was presented the idea by the chamber of commerce, Leadership Wilkes-Barre and the administration of the F. M. Kirby Center.

The result of this idea would be to levy a BID tax on all business in the aforementioned area, except on KOZ (Keystone Opportunity Zone) and non-profits, in the amount of 2.87 percent of the assessed value of each property, with increases of up to 20 percent annually thereafter. This new tax would be in addition to the tax the businesses are currently paying to receive adequate police supervision, fire protection and street cleaning services from the City of Wilkes-Barre.

It’s interesting to note the properties in the BID area, which will not be burdened by this proposal. Among the BID tax exemptions would be the Chamber of Commerce and the F. M. Kirby Center, the very entities which brought the additional tax idea to city council. In fact, 20 percent of the properties in the BID district would not have to help to carry the load of this extra tax while receiving all the benefits. The tax itself is questionable, and the unfairness to those businesses which would have to cover the costs of the tax-exempt others is crystal clear.

I understand the downtown is in the midst of revitalization, and I applaud the city administration and council for that effort and the seeking of grants to help to underwrite related costs and the costs of hiring additional police. Nevertheless, the least our city government should do in this instance is to first fulfill its commitment of providing basic and adequate services to the tax-paying businesses that remained in and contributed to the City of Wilkes-Barre through the worst of times.

Over the past three years a number of major initiatives in the name of progress have been approved by Wikes-Barre city government. These undertakings always are accompanied by new and/or additional fees and taxes. Fees for commercial property inspections and business license increases, to name two, have been put into place without any visible increase in services. What is blinding, however, are city property “giveaways” and administrative and council pay and pension increases.

What about the administrative costs of the Business Improvement District? The law states that BID administrative costs are to be funded by BID tax monies, ergo, more pay and pension increases for those and others already being paid and/or indirectly supported by city taxpayers.

The business community needs to be served better with the taxes it already is paying. I do not think that adequate police and fire protection and other basic services is too much to expect from a city before it even considers the imposition of another tax on a select number of its downtown businesses.

Those who would be affected by the proposed Business Improvement District need to join forces Wednesday, December 20 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilkes-Barre city council chambers to stop the forward motion of this double taxation. Burdening the very businesses which have demonstrated their desire to stay the course and to help the city remedy the “empty building and store front” reality that has existed for years will chase some away and penalize those who stay. Please support your downtown business owners by voicing your opposition to the proposed BID tax Wednesday, December 20.

Walter L. Griffith, Jr.

Wilkes-Barre

First off, the last sentence alone proves that Walter’s letter is less of a call to action than it is more self-important twaddle meant to increase his political name recognition. Answer me this: If people won’t show up for advertised parades and such, how many of them will be motivated to attend a meeting concerning Business Improvement Districts? To be perfectly blunt, his letter is little more than disingenuous pre-campaigning on his part. So, what else is new?

For some catching up on this proposed district, try this cached site:

Frequently asked questions: Business Improvement District

Now let’s dissect the useless twaddle.

Editor: I have been attending Wilkes-Barre City Council meetings for the past three years, and it never ceases to amaze me how our elected officials continue to think of new ways to tax residents and members of the business community.

The following was written by Marilyn Santarelli, the Executive Director of the Kirby Center and as an Executive Committee Member of the Diamond City Partnership:

*******

Business Improvement Districts are not a new concept—in fact hundreds of districts are positively impacting downtowns across the United States. Several Pennsylvania cities have adopted similar programs, including Manayunk, Downtown Harrisburg, Downtown Lancaster and West Chester.

The Diamond City Partnership is proposing a service area that would encompass most of Downtown’s commercial properties, as well as the major Downtown institutions. This area contains more than 347 commercial properties.

Members of Diamond City Partnership asked City Council to pass a resolution agreeing to work with the Partnership and the Downtown business community to pursue the creation of a Downtown Business Improvement District. This was our first step. The next is to meet with commercial property owners.

The proposed Business Improvement District will emphasize cleanliness and safety with funding coming from commercial property owners, nonprofit voluntary commitments and external grants.

*******

Right out of the gates, Walter’s entire flatulent premise amounts to little more than the byproduct of jamming a pack of Mentos into a 2-liter of Diet Coke. Spew and them some. The BID was not the brainchild of our elected officials, rather, it was the product of some of our forward-thinking business professionals. But remember, the letter to the editors came from a clueless man who stupidly and mistakenly blamed a brief, but furious natural disaster on his mayor. If there were a tax on smarts, this guy would receive a rebate year-in and year-out. Therefore, his predictably useless twaddle should be discounted as if it were on the shelves at Sprawl-Mart. No, you don’t have to vote for the guy, but at least pity him.

Over the past three years a number of major initiatives in the name of progress have been approved by Wikes-Barre city government. These undertakings always are accompanied by new and/or additional fees and taxes. Fees for commercial property inspections and business license increases, to name two, have been put into place without any visible increase in services. What is blinding, however, are city property “giveaways” and administrative and council pay and pension increases.

You cannot provide what you cannot pay for. And if you can’t pay for needed services, the only alternative is to cut back on them. With that having been said, we live in a city that has hired ten new police officers as it is, and is poised to hire ten more in the very near future. Yet, our shameless self-promoter claims to see no “visible increase in services.” If there is an intermediate unit where the politically inept go to be schooled, this guy needs the address and soon.

And as far as “visible” services are concerned, he continually fails to mention that the city recently targeted his entire neighborhood for leaf removal and paving. Yep, no leaves or potholes in his neighborhood, yet, he continues on with the shameless, totally self-serving obfuscation. Services? You prevaricate, oh shameless one.

…administrative and council pay and pension increases.

The mayor and city council have frozen their salaries right where they are and have been for years…but, you prey upon the ignorance and apathy of the citizenry. So, was that a bit of inexactitude on your part, or just a bald-faced lie?

What about the administrative costs of the Business Improvement District? The law states that BID administrative costs are to be funded by BID tax monies, ergo, more pay and pension increases for those and others already being paid and/or indirectly supported by city taxpayers.

Jesus, man! There’s really something to be said for doing your homework and knowing what the fu>k you’re babbling on about.

WRONG!

The business community needs to be served better with the taxes it already is paying. I do not think that adequate police and fire protection and other basic services is too much to expect from a city before it even considers the imposition of another tax on a select number of its downtown businesses.

DUH! In addition to, dunce. Supplemental services, dummy. What part don’t you get, Homer? And “fire protection?” Three new engines? A new ladder truck? Two new ambulances? A new firehouse? Two remodeled firehouses? Oh, we see. You’re sticking with the union line. Not enough union brothers hired equals inadequacies all over the place. Yeah, well, you’d be singing a completely different tune if they put you in charge of the city’s budget. But lucky for us, the only thing you’ll ever be put in charge of is the television remote. We might be silly here in Wilkes-Barre, but we ain’t that completely stupid.

And “adequate” police protection? Did you miss the foot patrols in the downtown, or did you choose to leave that out for your own puny political purposes?

Those who would be affected by the proposed Business Improvement District need to join forces Wednesday, December 20 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilkes-Barre city council chambers to stop the forward motion of this double taxation. Burdening the very businesses which have demonstrated their desire to stay the course and to help the city remedy the “empty building and store front” reality that has existed for years will chase some away and penalize those who stay. Please support your downtown business owners by voicing your opposition to the proposed BID tax Wednesday, December 20.

Chase away some and penalize those who stay? Are you smoking dried thongs? These business people have seen it as bad as it can get, and now they are being asked to join a program that offers them supplemental security and cleanliness above and beyond what the city currently has to offer. You make it sound as if they are being forced against their will to buy used lottery tickets.

And your feigned call to action is so disingenuously transparent, it can only provide those who read it an insight into your downward trajectory as a political footnote.

I say again, if there were a tax on smarts, this guy would receive a rebate year-in and year-out. If he wasn’t so dangerous to this city that I love, he’d be moderately entertaining. He’s certainly entitled to his counterintuitive opinions, but we’re likewise entitled to the right to laugh at his direct expense.

He’s a walking/talking argument for legalized abortion.

Sez me.

Crackmuffin.com
Funny Video From CrackMuffin.com

Aren‘t you just sick and tired of those Bible-thumpers trying to jam their religious icons down our secular throats? I’m plum tired of it all and I don’t believe for a minute that baby Santa was born in a manger or born of a virgin for that matter.

Is Santa a religious icon?

It figures it’d be a chick making the complaint.

Chicks! Always offended by something stupid.

Planter‘s Peanuts--Rear View

Sweet home Tennessee.

Well, our daughter Peace and crew have gone and found themselves a new home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Take the tour.

Lemme see here. It is now 3:48 PM and Hurricane Matilda has been blowing through here for about an hour now. I don’t have one of those geeked-out weather forecasting stations in my back yard, so I have no idea what these wind guts are being clocked at. But I think it’s safe to assume Walter Griffith will blame the powerful winds on Mayor Tom Leighton.

Actually, it’s blowing so freaking hard, one of those leaves whipping by could put your eye out. And how would I know? Turns out, right around 3 PM a report came from 911 of a tractor trailer that had crashed into the Cross Valley underpass as it was headed south on the boulevard. But, it took a bit to get that information straight. What I heard was that there was a serious crash under the Cross Valley at Washington Street. And when the firemen made it to the scene, somebody said a “chunk” of the Cross Valley was missing. And with that, wifey and I grabbed the bikes and headed on out into the wind tunnel.

We headed due north on Penn Avenue and the traffic was snarled all over the place. And once we made it through Brookside and arrived at the underpass…no emergency vehicles and no “chunk” of missing bridge. Just more snarled traffic. W…T…F?

I darted across that open field where Tom McGroarty promised to build a new firehouse, and stared at the mass of emergency vehicles and tow trucks massed near the offending tractor trailer that upped and assaulted our newest drag strip. The wind was blowing so completely hard, I almost didn’t make it there, and I was surprised when wifey caught up to me some minutes later. We really couldn’t see much and we were being sandblasted as the road silt was hitting our faces at something approaching 70 miles per hour. I dunno. Ask Tom Clark.

As we turned south to head back to the adobe, we took the full brunt of the wind and wifey got her most intense bicycle workout to date. Trust me, it was a major hump. The sand was hurting my face and leaves were plastered to my neck and chest as if they were sewed on. Much like during that last weather event of ours, the scanner was chirping away and then some. Trees were down…wires were down…traffic lights were down…and an electric transformer sparking away. And the entire time, the winds seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.

(Note to self: Sand can’t hurt you if your skin is not exposed. Shorts and a tank top won’t cut it.)

Anyway, with the amount of trees being reported down at the rate they are, the DPW boys are going to be working some serious overtime hours tonight. The chain saws are gonna be whirring tonight.

BANG!

Me? I’ll be spinning some tunes and getting a mellow buzz on. I’m not sure why, but I’m thinking Elvis Costello.

From the e-mail inbox Mark

Have yourself a politically correct Xmas.

That I won’t.

Hey! I don’t care what some city councilman may have to say about bicycles being dangerous and all of that. He’s wrong and I dare him to argue with me about the issue.

Have a nice evening until the power goes out.

Whoa! 4:42 PM--Tornado sighting in Mountaintop.

Hunker down, kiddies.

Later

I hope






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