June 30, 2003
Post of the Day comes from Mean Mr. Mustard.
Is it just me.....or could MSN have been a bit more, uh.....sensitive when cropping this Newsweek cover?
June 29, 2003
An entry into the un-official Instapundit photoshop contest sent in by that most miserable of all creatures....a man with out a blog (Thanks Jeff). The file name on the photo was "InstaNailedIt.jpg".
June 28, 2003
June 27, 2003
And this is just plain hilarious. Ann Coulter is Amazon.com's #2 seller. Hillary Clinton is at #8.
This is interesting. The Dems are discovering that the new campaign finance laws are going to hurt them. Why? Get this:
"A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.Mwahahahahahahaha. Barbra Streisand (and those needing pardons) finance the Dems to fight for the little guys. Meanwhile the little guys are giving their money to the Republicans. Read the rest here. Feingold is about to get his a** whipped in the Senate cloak room.
The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats. The only group favoring Democrats, in fact, were contributors giving more than $100,000."
I was amused by the MRT's editorial today, wherein they sucked in a shrinking fisheries story hook, line and sinker. The article was from "...the scientific journal 'Nature'" (more properly the "scientific" journal "Nature").
A timely rebuttal was found on NRO. It seems that a plausible reason for a more difficult fish catch these days is that we are competing against a rapidly growing population of whales. They not only eat a lot more fish than people but are more efficient fishers as well. There's none of that expensive big boat & net, hook & line, reel 'em in, filet, freeze, truck 'em-to-Wall Street-to-be-served-grilled-with-a-little-salsa-on-the-side stuff, the whales just hoover them raw. Our little friends at Greenpeace are to blame of course for "protecting" the whales.
Further rational comment on the Mart's editorial process escapes me at this point.
Maybe if we called "Jessica's Well" "Midland's scientific blog on the media and politics," it would be picked up more often. And quoted without the need for that time-consuming thing called journalistic research.
UPDATE: As the scientific photograph below describes clearly, this fish vs. man story can take an ugly turn if one is not paying attention. Perhaps Great Whites have been protected while our back was turned!
RULE NUMBER 1: When you are the biggest blogger on the planet, don't go on vacation.
RULE NUMBER TWO: If you must go on vacation, don't leave behind a picture that begs to be Photoshopped by every hit-whoring blogger on the internet.
UPDATE: Mean Mister
Photoshop Mustard has joined in with an entry.
UPDATE: Another "entry" from Silent Running.
UPDATE: Mark at "Not Quite Tea And Crumpets" hopes to have an entry soon....or at least hopes to have electrical power. Steven den Beste at USS Clueless is now in the game. And this from blogless Jeff. Now, Mindles H. Dreck joins in.
UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi delivers
two three (look hard) entries.....one being laugh out loud funny.
UPDATE: Aaron Watson at Freewill Blog submits three. He is using Blogger so the links don't work....you may have to scroll down.
Another set from Across the Atlantic. No, really.
Pay particular attention to the time stamps......let us not be mistaken about who the original hit-whore was. T'was I.
This above pic I constructed after it was suggested by reader Scott N.
Lloyd Bridges I know. Glenn R. I know. Who is the other guy?
The above was submitted by the
This from Stacy, an obvious fan. Get a room.
This was buried in Jane Galt's comments section and is from a Paul Zrimsek.
I guess its not over until its over.
The page load nightmare continues....the above is from Sue Lizano.
Here is one from Mr. Lawson.
Here is a pretty good article on Tommy Franks in the Washington Post.
June 26, 2003
I can't help but feel a little guilty. I just signed in to my old Blogger account to see if they had finally upgraded me to "Dano" (the new version of Blogger). They had. I poked around a bit to see what was new. It looked prettier....but I didn't see many new features. So I left again.
Even though I am happy with my decision to convert to Movable Type I still have no small amount of affection for Blogger. They kind of started it all. But I am where I need to be now. Eric is here now....Wallace soon will be it looks like.
So you think you might want to help pitch in and lend a hand to the community by running for the school board? Wonderful! We just need you to answer a few questions first.
Here is the form that you will have to fill out in order to run for the school board.
This is insane.
June 25, 2003
Jessica's Well Inbound Google Search Term of the Day:
"Inside Pictures of 98 chevy malibu"
June 24, 2003
MR-T reporter and apparent member of the Chamber of Commerce steno pool D. Lance Lunsford offers up another probing article (no link yet) regarding the MDDD....or the MDMD....or the Municipal Management District or whatever they choose to call the latest venture to convert public monies into private assets. It seems a committee is to be formed from the directors of various interested groups including Downtown Midland, Inc., the newly created MDDD, the not-so-new MDC, the TIRZ, and no doubt the Chamber to oversee and coordinate efforts downtown.
Coordination is always a good thing but a separate committee would almost certainly be redundant in that all five of the above mentioned entities are essentially being operated by the same eleven people. Five groups, one Board. Now that's coordination!
I was glad to see the inclusion of this quote from Councilman Perry last February:
"We go to downtown property owners and say 'Let's chip in some money for what we'll call an assessment."It serves to remind us all that they can't even call a tax a tax. They call it an "assessment". Really? Try not paying this assessment and all of the usual machinery will begin grinding away in order to remove your downtown property from you.
No, this is nothing like going to downtown property owners and "asking them to chip in". This isn't even about "Hey, let's vote on it!"
This is about a handful of guys going to Austin and having a custom law written that forces these downtown owners to chip in.
More of the crushing of dissent?
From the New Yorker, a discussion on Tommy Franks.
"The only activity in school that he involved himself in was football, and even then they called him "Charlie Franks" in the school yearbook. I mean, he was a guy bound for a life of inconsequence. But after he dropped out of college he joined the Army as a private, and it turned out that the Army, which is the great meritocracy, found something in him, and directed him eventually to go back to college, to become an officer, and, as it turned out, the top fighting general in the service today."Pretty fair turn-around, wouldn't you say?
Read the rest here.
More on a possible terror threat to Texas, this time from the Houston Chronicle.
I'm sorry but the personal financial affairs of any elected official is nobody's business. If they want to disclose it, fine. If they choose not to and suffer at the ballot box, that too is fine. But for the state to come in and require current and future school trustees to disclose this kind of personal information is just plain wrong.
Capable people already have enough disincentives to run for or hold public office. This little website is probably one of them. Let's not add to the pile.
June 23, 2003
Traveling this summer? Make sure you have the proper attire.
The MR-T carried this report of the man found dead in Big Bend National Park Saturday.
The web site for a television station in central Florida (of all places) has some, uh, additional information.
Eric Siegmund's Fire Ant Gazette has moved to Movable Type. Stop by and watch him post and work on Cascading Style Sheets in real time.
June 22, 2003
From Newsweek, indications of a possible terror strike in Texas around the Fourth of July.
"Earlier this month, NEWSWEEK has learned, U.S. intelligence intercepted chat-room conversations between suspected Qaeda associates about attacks in Texas around the Fourth of July. One of the operatives, known only as “Sakr,” said the attacks had been planned for a long time and that the terror-ists were simply waiting for approval from “the sheik” —a possible reference to Osama bin Laden or another top Qaeda commander. No specific targets were mentioned, but law-enforcement officials tell NEWSWEEK they believe the objective may be to take out oil facilities or pipelines."Stay on your toes.
UPDATE: On a lighter note, go read the comments regarding this topic over at Little Green Footballs.
And isn't this going to be pretty:
"The complex's signature piece will be a giant horseshoe, possibly the world's largest, built out of donated horseshoes.
Bradford is working with the Guinness Book of World Records to consider the planned 25- to 30-foot-tall structure as one for the record books."
Like I said.....you can build all of the new airports and ball stadiums and downtown kiosks you want.....but what is really going to make 'em wild about Midland is a brand new, knock 'em dead, Multi-Purpose Facility!!
Yessiree....a couple of more projects like this and we will be well on our way in completely transforming this dusty little burg in a flat area with little scenery and with no water to a dusty little burg in a flat area and with no water that owes everyone money.
June 21, 2003
In a way I guess it might be bad practice to provide readers with more reasons to leave your own blog......but that is the way the blog world works. That is why it is called the blogosphere.
So here are a couple of other blogs for you to check out that I have added to my blogroll. Lee at Right Thinking on the Left Coast (Lee is also one of the founders of MooreWatch, the blog that shows Michael Moore for the liar he is), and Bryan at Arguing with Signposts.
UPDATE: Here is another blog, Drumwaster's Rants, from an old Midland Lee grad.
June 20, 2003
Check out the new Honda ad on the web. Special effects were not used in this ad. It really worked.......it took a lot of takes.....but this thing is real.
Wow. Here is the death of an old cliche'.
Why the move to Movable Type? Simple. Permalinks that link....and are permanent.
What a concept.
The Amber alert that is crawling across the screen currently (6/20/03 01:49PM) is for Christian Ferguson who has been missing since Tuesday a week ago when he was in his parents car while it was hijacked. He has not turned up since. Something didn't pass the smell test then for me. So I Googled the name today and found this news article on the Fox 2 KTVI website.
"The grandfather of a missing 9-year-old boy lashes out at the boy's father. Christian Ferguson disappeared Tuesday of last week. FOX 2's Roche Madden talked with the grandfather, who is very suspicious. Although he admits he has no proof, Theodore Wilson believes Dewan Ferguson was somehow involved in the disappearance of his own son Christian. When asked to comment on the grandfather's accusations, Dewan's attorney would only say, "I don't think it's in my client's best interest to respond to ridiculous statements like that." Theodore Wilson says, "My grandson was left in his tender loving care as a father so anything that transpired while he's in his custody, he's responsible either directly or indirectly." Police are looking at all angles in the case. While the search goes on for the missing boy, detectives are investigating the possibility this may not be a child abduction. FOX 2 videotaped a car at the scene where Dewan Ferguson said his SUV was carjacked with his son inside. Detectives told us the '98 Chevy Malibu is actually owned by Dewan Ferguson's girlfriend, and that she lives no where near this intersection. Cops wonder how it got there. Ferguson's SUV was later recovered, but Christian was no where to be found. Detectives wonder why the alleged car thief left behind many valuable items inside the vehicle, including a laptop computer."I knew something was wrong here. I don't think they are going to find this one.
What are you saying, Stevie-girl? That the country wide explosion in the number of Kinesiology majors is not due to a corresponding explosion in the demand for Kinesiologists?
Its Rice v. Stanford in the College World Series. This is good. When was the last time that two college teams played for a major national title and you could be even reasonably sure that everyone on the field was an actual "Student-Athlete" as they are so often described?
June 19, 2003
Put this in the same file drawer with the tree-killing mass junk mailings on behalf of Greenpeace.
Interest rates for home mortgages dropped to below 5% yesterday. Good news in and of itself. The purpose of this whole post, though, is to steer you to the coolest mortgage calculator on the whole web.
Human cloning is a bad idea. What further proof do you need than this?
The editorial board of Jessica's Well would like to welcome our newest contributor. While new to HTML and blogging, Thurman is no stranger to writing copy and should be up and posting like a demon in no time at all. Thurman may even end up with Ignatius' corner office if he doesn't turn up soon.......from his honeymoon.......with Darcy.
June 18, 2003
This came in the e-mail today. It is one of those spam look-alikes that are so easy to delete. I am glad I didn't in this case.
"What follows is a message from Vicki Pierce about her nephew James' funeral. He was serving our country in Iraq:
'I'm back, it was certainly a quick trip, but I have to also say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in Texas.
The service itself was impressive with wonderful flowers and sprays, a portrait of James, his uniform and boots, his awards and ribbons, his boots. There was lots of military brass and an eloquent (though inappropriately longwinded) Baptist preacher. There were easily 1000 people at the service, filling the church sanctuary as well as the fellowship hall and spilling out into the parking lot.
However, the most incredible thing was what happened following the service on the way to the cemetery. We went to our cars and drove to the cemetery, escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers handling traffic. Everyone on the road who was not in the procession pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully, some put their hands over their hearts, some had small flags. Shop keepers came outside with their customers and did the same thing. Construction workers stopped their work, got off their equipment and put their hands over their hearts, too. There was no noise whatsoever, except a few birds and the quiet hum of cars going slowly up the road.
When we turned off the highway, suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4 H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles -- hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags.
At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder, holding flags ... kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone. Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags.
Then families. All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children.
The last few turns found people crowded together holding flags or with their hands on their hearts. Some were on horseback.
The military presence...at least two generals, a fist full of colonels, and representatives from every branch of the service, plus the color guard which attended James, and some who served with him ... was very impressive and respectful, but the love and pride from this community who had lost one of their own was the most amazing thing I've ever been privileged to witness.
I've attached some pictures, some are blurry (we were moving), but you can get a small idea of what this was like.
Thanks so much for all the prayers and support."
The e-mail came with a full Power Point presentation that had many more pictures. I have posted them here and will keep them there until my bandwidth limit forces me to do something else. Anyone out there want to mirror these pics?
UPDATE: A check of the listing of those killed in Iraq on the ABC News website has this listing:
"Army Spc. James M. Kiehl, 22, Comfort, Texas, disappeared near Nasiriyah, Iraq, March 23. Remains recovered April 1."I don't know for certain that the funeral that this describes is, in fact, the funeral for Army Spc. Kiehl. Closest match I could make.
Has anyone noticed the CBS 7 sign in downtown Midland? I haven't been
inside, but I bet there is no studio to be found. I bet there's not even an
office. So, what is the purpose of this sign? Could it be purely for
marketing? Does John Bushman own this building too?
Now that you mention it....the drive through lines at T & T Donuts have been pretty long this week.
June 17, 2003
This is the international body that the French, Germans, and every leftist ass-hat in the country wants us to listen to before we do anything to protect America and Americans?
Well, San Antonio's beloved Spurs have won their second world championship in fine fashion. The story is a great one. You can't say enough about Tim Duncan.....probably the best all around player in a quarter of a century. Nor can you say enough about David Robinson. Robinson is a giant of a man.....on the court and off. A rarity these days.
No.....you just can't say enough about the Spurs. Or can you? Listening to Robie Burns' SportsTalk show on KMND (1510AM) yesterday, Mr. Burns signed off yesterday's program with a promise to spend time today speaking more about.....wait for it.....the freakin' Lakers. The freakin' Lakers and how good they are going to be next year.
If we are going to talk about the Lakers lets start with how Game 6 of last year's Western Conference Finals against Sacramento were handed to them by star-struck NBA refs.
Let us talk no more about Laker dynasties. They didn't win this year......and for the majority of objective observers they didn't even win last year.
Note to Robie: Don't mistake the tone of this post....I love the show....and I am just giving you some crap. It just isn't time to talk about the Lakers yet. Let San Antonio have their victory parade and then wait six weeks to see if Shaq hasn't fired the new personal trainer that is going to turn everything around for him and the Lakers.
June 16, 2003
To paraphrase John Wayne: "Life is tough. Life is tougher when you are stupid. Life is even tougher when you are stupid and get noticed by James Lileks."
Just ask Professor James H. Fetzer.
Say you're Buddy West, the State Representative from Midland's rival city Odessa, Texas, and you are approached by a group (from Midland no less) that wants you to introduce a bill that would make it more expensive to operate in downtown Midland.
I guess you say "OK!" ClayDesta may not be the only winner here.
Has anyone else noticed that the ubiqitous Darwin Awards that arrive in your e-mail three times a week are always the same three year old list?
Have these lists not been updated in years or did the compilers of the list fall victim to some sort of natural selection themsleves?
Walser......you are starting to recycle your posts.
So, it’s back to circle the wagons and defend at any cost mode for the Catholic Church. Who knew?
From a recent article on the now one-hundred game old First American Ballpark:
"As judged by the increased attendance, the fans apparently love it. The first year of the ballpark saw the 'Hounds draw a franchise record attendance of 276,380 -- an 86 percent increase from the last year at Christensen Stadium. "I have been to several games both this year and last and every time the night's attendance is announced all it takes is one look around to see that they are counting something besides actual people who came through the turnstiles that particular night. My guess is that season and/or other tickets sold for the night are also counted, whether or not anyone showed up to use them.
So the question for Mr. LeRoy is: did you ask the for actual through the gate numbers were and, if not, could you please?
Look! Comments are available!! Movable Type is so cool. Kudos to Site Admin for making the switch.
June 15, 2003
It would be interesting to know what the immediate plans are for the new Directors of the MDDD. And I do not think that it is too soon to ask either. What, exactly are the five or ten things that they would love to have seen happen or done downtown before the creation of the district made the wherewithal theoretically possible.
There simply has to be several things in the works already. You don't run this thing down people's throats via Austin and only then start thinking up things to do with the money.
Calling Mr. Lunsford, calling Mr. Lunsford. Time for some follow up.
They were going to build it just Northwest of Midland.....until the Greentree Homeowners Association complained.
June 14, 2003
OK. If this message posts and archives correctly then my migration to Movable Type is probably successful. Movable Type gives us the ability to put titles on posts if we wish, but during the import from Blogger it creates a title out of the first five words of the old post by default. I have only gone back so far to reformat the posts with meaningful titles. I may or may not keep going.
June 13, 2003
If this site seems to come and go over the next few days it is because of our migration from the lovable, appreciated, but underpowered Blogger system to the sleek, powerful and sexy Movable Type system. Please bear with us.
Jessica's Well Visitor Arriving Through Google Search Term Of The Day: "Midland Odessa Medical Group bankruptcy". Early campaign research?
Did you catch Wes Perry on the local news last night? He cleared up the disinformation that has been spread about the MDDD by Jessica's Well Bloggers, with this statement: "We did not have taxual relations with that district.....downtown." Nuff said. OK, maybe I just dreamed it, but it does give me an idea for a new movie genre. Imagine the possibilities of a series of movies with a protagonist that is a conservative activist! He could conserve globally and tax locally.
June 12, 2003
Re: Woody Allen pimping for France tourism. I'm sorry, but when I see Woody Allen kissing his wife I don't think France and romance....I think Amber Alert.
No one should be surprised that the local Chamber types want money for their projects. They invariably suffer from the illusion that Their Vision + Someone else’s Money = Benefits for all. The surprise is that the legislators gave them this power to tax without requiring the usual public forum or vote. And don’t give me any Chamber-speak about it not being a tax; just let a property owner in the district refuse to pay it and watch what happens.
My old boss was a member of the local chamber for years until he decided that his membership dues were essentially funding the steering committees for tax increase initiatives.
When the Dems tax the hell out of you it is "for the children". When local Republicans tax you, it is for "economic development and diversification." Different mantra, same effect. The locals always think that they can play Dr. Frankenstein with Adam Smith's "dead hand."
More on the outright theft of property that is the MDDD. Get this statement of purpose from the text of the bill from Section 6, "Findings of Benefit and Purpose":
"(b) The creation of the district is in the public interest and is essential to:Gee whiz. It does all that? Then why draw the district so small? Why leave out so many that could benefit so much? Surely all citizens would love to be part of this. Just because I am outside the boundary lines of the MDDD doesn't mean that I should be shielded from being taxed further...especially when it is for my own damn good.
(1) further the public purposes of development and diversification of the economy of the state; and
(2) eliminate unemployment and underemployment and develop or expand transportation and commerce.
(c) The district will:
(1) promote the health, safety, and general welfare of residents, employers, employees, visitors, and consumers in the district, and the public;
(2) provide needed funding to preserve, maintain, and enhance the economic health and vitality of the district as a community and business center; and
(3) further promote the health, safety, welfare, and enjoyment of the public by providing pedestrian ways and by landscaping and developing certain areas in the district, which are
necessary for the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of scenic beauty."
Woody Allen is appearing in advertisements to lure American tourists back to France. Now think of the type of American that is put off by France lately and ask yourself the question "Does Woody Allen appeal at all to these people?" The crowd that Mr. Allen appeals to either never stopped visiting France or at the very least still threaten to move there any time another Republican is elected.
AOL has been running a poll for the past two days, asking whether you will read Hillary's book, with the possible answers being, yes, maybe, and no way. "No way" currently has 66% of the 2,000,000+ responses.
David Brinkley......ABC's last credible anchor. Dead at 82.
June 11, 2003
We just purchased a newer and better web traffic stat package here at Jessica's Well (which reminds me....we still have t-shirts for sale!). It lets you look at the search terms people used to arrive at the site through a search engine. My favorite so far is "baby jessica down in the hole". Also making appearances were "Texas Yeehad" and "George Bush Texas University Payments".
Lastly, there was the search term "Royce Bodiford".....Mr. Bodiford is the station manager at KOCV in Odessa. Mr. Bodiford, someone out there is googling you.
Meet Allen, an emergency physician in Texas. He grew up in Odessa. And he has a blog.
UPDATE: Allen has this humble site listed under "Miscellaneous Greatness". He is at least half right. While our greatness is subject to some debate our miscellaneousness is certainly beyond question.
You've got to love this:
"Yes, the former first lady's tight-lipped interview touting her new book copped 13.5 million viewers for ABC on Sunday -- the net's biggest summer audience in the time slot since 1995. But that number, for an interview in which Clinton was supposed to finally talk about her husband's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, is chump change compared with the nearly 49 million who watched Walters interview Lewinsky about her affair with President Clinton."Read the rest here.
June 10, 2003
So Egypt bans "The Matrix: Reloaded". Why? Too violent, they say.
"Egyptian censors have banned the international box office hit The Matrix Reloaded on religious grounds and what they described as the film's excessive violence."The spokesman went on to say that people should go to more uplifting and entertaining movies like "that hilarious Schindler's List".
OK. I made that last part up.
This is one old chicken......but I am glad that it is coming home to roost.
"Duranty covered the Soviet Union for the Times from 1922 to 1941, earning acclaim for an exclusive 1929 interview with Stalin.Boy, I sure am glad something like that couldn't happen today.
But Duranty was eventually exposed for reporting the Communist line rather than the facts. According to the 1990 book "Stalin's Apologist," Duranty knew of the famine but ignored the atrocities to preserve his access to Stalin."
Hey....we just got linked to by Steve at Little Tiny Lies who thinks that while we may be a bit Midland-centric was nice enough to go ahead and link to us anyway. If you are looking for some damned hilarious posts or a "Cheese-eating Surrender Monkey" mug, go to his place.
I was just informed by an alert reader (We have alert readers!) that the link to the text of the House Bill that creates the MDDD draws a search engine error. I have posted the text of the bill....and have highlighted some text in the bill that is pertinent to some of the issues being discussed.
Boy. How would you like it if you were a property owner in the MDDD area and you woke up one morning and found out that a handful of guys with juice in Austin now have the power to tax you......for your own good, of course. No vote. No public referendum. Nothing. Just a couple of open and closed doors in Austin and all of a sudden you are subject to a non-accountable board of insiders subject to the weakest conflict of interest rules who now possess the power to assess you whether you like it or not. This is almost criminal.
June 9, 2003
Spike Lee, whiny little b****.
Let's stipulate that the plan works...just for fun. Are new renters created in Midland? Or does downtown just cannibalize renters from other areas of Midland? And, if so, this may serve downtown owners but does it serve Midland as a whole? What magic thing is going to be done with this money that would be more effective than lowering rental costs by the same amount?
Oh, really. Mr. Reader, meet Mr. Perry.
"Although [Councilman Wes] Perry knows some of the property owners will disagree with the additional cost, he, as a property owner, sees the opportunity as a way to get funding quick for vital growth."The minute any unwilling owner gets assessed it becomes a tax just like any other. You can't use the power of the state to coerce unwilling property owners to pay an assessment and not call it a tax. Sorry. Public monies is the correct term here.
Reader feedback on the Midland Downtown Development District!
"RE: play around with public moniesYea! We still have readers. Now if we could get some writers. Ignatius....are you even alive any more? Or did you and Darcy elope?
This has nothing to do with public money, unless you are one of the public who owns property in the district. We don't need the consent of the general public to tax ourselves for our own good. And why would we want persons on the board who have no interest in downtown telling us what to do with the money [our money] that we raise by taxing ourselves."
Softening my rhetoric a bit....particularly after reading what I wrote about "how these people operate". It makes it sounds as though I think they are crooks. I most certainly don't. They are well meaning. Well meaning to a fault...but well meaning nonetheless.
June 7, 2003
As soon as the Governor signs it in to law, Midland will have its new downtown development district. An entity that, as pointed out below, can assess taxes, incur debt, and generally play around with public monies in the name of economic development. It already has a board that is made up of many who will directly benefit from the creation of the district; standard conflict of interest rules will not apply to them. Future members of the board are chosen by members of the existing board and, as per the new law, SHALL be approved by the City Council.
And what do Midland voters think of all of this? Who knows? They were not even asked. This was all shoved through way down in Austin.
Walser, you were prescient in a post earlier this year when you said:
"But here is the big question: Can this thing that would be a de facto tax increase just be created (at the behest of just a few) by the State and run by the City with no vote or referendum at the local level? Paranoia is kicking in.....I need more details."It turned out to be not paranoia but a dead-on instinct that you have about how these people operate. It, in fact, was created in Austin at the behest of just a few.....and, worse, it isn't even run by the city's elected officials. It will be run by a board answerable to no one. Makes me wish the Dems had stayed in Oklahoma.
Here is the area that will become the newly created Midland Downtown Development District.
It just gets better. For anyone out there wondering if this new bureaucracy will be infected with the same inbred and closeted thinking that pervades almost everyone in that revolving door of personnel that is the Chamber-Council-MDC troika, get a load of how new directors are chosen.
"SECTION 10. APPOINTMENT OF DIRECTORS. The board shall nominate a slate of persons to serve on the succeeding board as voting directors. The members of the governing body of the City of Midland shall [emphasis mine] appoint as voting directors the slate of persons nominated by the board."This entity can incur debt, buy and sell assets with public monies, and assess certain taxpayers......yet....yet.....is not at all accountable to anyone outside the board itself. This is unconscionable.
SECTION 20. ASSESSMENTS."Chip in" my a**.
(c) Assessments, including assessments resulting from an addition to or correction of the assessment roll by the district, reassessments, penalties and interest on an assessment or reassessment, expense of collection, and reasonable attorney's fees incurred by the district:
(1) are a first and prior lien against the property assessed;
(2) are superior to any other lien or claim other than a lien or claim for county, school district, or municipal ad valorem taxes; and
(3) are the personal liability of and charge against the owners of the property even if the owners are not named in the assessment proceedings.
For those looking to see what all the hubbub is about, here is the online text version of the bill that creates the Midland Downtown Development District. Interestingly enough the initial set of Directors is already in place.
"SECTION 32. INITIAL DIRECTORS. (a) The initial board consists of the following persons:I encourage everyone to read it. There is much in the bill that is interesting and relevant that, for one reason or another, the Chamber's courtesans at the MR-T fail to inform us about. Things like the new District's ability to issue bonds and incur debt and deliver assessments.
Pos. No. Name of Director
1 W. L. "Scooter" Brown
2 Wes Perry
3 Ted Jones
4 Jon Morgan
5 Gerald Borron
6 Dub House
7 Lois Trombley
8 Mike Black
9 Christi Newton
(b) Of the initial directors, the terms of directors appointed for positions 1 through 5 expire June 1, 2007, and the terms of directors appointed for positions 6 through 9 expire June 1, 2005.
Walser: You are pointing out exactly what Terra Avery pointed out in a letter to the editor a while back. In this particular case she was talking about Mike Conaway. But who would it NOT apply to? All this Reaganesque "no society ever taxed itself into prosperity" rhetoric yet when Chamber comrades come begging.......
>From the original article on the MDDD.
"We go to downtown property owners and say, 'Let's chip in some more money for what we'll call an assessment.' And we would use that to improve downtown," said [Councilman Wes] Perry, who called the DMMD 'the ether' to start the economic development engine downtown."Now it is "chip in or go to jail".
Everyone involved in this whole deal would call themselves (more times than not) fiscally conservative republicans in every piece of campaign literature they hand out and would shout it from the stage at any public appearance. But in practice? Well, apparently that is different. Sure....they'll quote von Hayek to the faithful party base and remark about all "the ether" we need for growth is free enterprise, private property rights, a free market, and good old entreprenuership. But when it comes to actually acting on these beliefs and principles....well....they don't.
There is a name for this: It is called Corporate Welfare. Further, any downtown property owner pushing this deal falls squarely into the category of Welfare Queen.
"For Midland, the session had quite a value as well. (Note the typical genuflection by the MRT editors over any Chamber driven tax increase). A bill designated to create the Midland Downtown Development District passed and is expected to be signed by Perry next week. The MDDD will take money from downtown property owners and reinvest it in development projects downtown to stimulate growth and raise property values. The MDDD has a secondary effect of impacting the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which takes the increased property value of downtown property and keeps it to reinvest in downtown development. The MDDD is styled after such projects as those that created the Galleria area of Houston and spurred the downtown revival of Austin.The question is now answered. Property owners cannot opt out of the plan.
So now we have a new tax on those businesses and individuals that office downtown. Claydesta must be smiling.
June 3, 2003
It must be a slow time for local police. I heard on the radio this morning that local gendarmes are ticketing motorists who leave their cars running while they go into a convenience store. Seems the police feel it gives car thieves an unfair advantage. What’s next, a ticket for leaving your garage door open?