Wednesday, August 27, 2014
My favorite TreeHugger once commented I'm a process sort of guy. One might suppose that's true, even though there are situations in which we must lower our center of mass to keep a firm base, lean forward, put our head down, grab a cheek in each hand and, like Teddy Roosevelt, scream "Charge! (but not with credit cards)" as we move forward con mucho gusto. However, unless one is intent upon wasting effort, resources, perhaps even lives, those "Charge!" situations must also have a clear goal based upon well researched data. If we presume, because we should never assume, the theorem "what you are now is because of what you were when" is true, perhaps there's a reason for being a "process sort of guy" as TreeHuggerBabe accused.
Working on a 100,000 pound metal punch-press when the most gosh awful, blood curdling scream rose above the constant din of machinery, to see a lady not 25 feet away, whose supervisor had just told her to take her gloves off while operating a deburring machine, holding her hand to her chest... well, most of it anyway. The wheel on the machine had grabbed the glove, and the middle finger on her right hand, ripped off the finger, taking ever muscle and sinew connected to it all the way up to her elbow. That might give one an appreciation for safety procedures. So might walking into a customer's office 30+ years ago, a customer for a couple of years I'd never met in person, reaching across his desk to shake hands, and being met with a hook. As a young engineer he'd been in the field testing an electrical substation. Power to the switchgear was 13,000 volts, 3 phase, and they had locked out/tagged out the disconnects but didn't test the lines to verify they were de-energized. The disconnect had failed, he grabbed 2 hot phases... and lost both of his arms, almost his life.
The worst industrial accident in history occurred at the Union Carbide insecticide plant at Bhopal, India, in December of 1984. Something over 500,000 people were permanently injured or disabled, 16,000 were killed, and another 50,000 or so were temporarily disabled... all attributed to a lackadaisical approach to maintenance procedures. As a young Sergeant in Japan for the first time, this same issue apparently caused our Commanding Officer to lose all power to his instruments and com/nav gear in the middle of a hop from Iwakuni to Okinawa. 300 miles from anywhere, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean driving a souped up, dual turbocharged rocket-ship capable of doing mach 2.2+, with afterburners and little bitty stubby wings... and all he had to guide himself to land was a magnetic compass and barometric altimeter. That's pucker power.
Yes... it hit the cooling rotators when CO Dude got home, a whole bunch of it, and I certainly was glad all our calibration records were up to date.
Let's think about that just a little, process. All work is honorable work, and if most of us don't perform our jobs properly someone could get hurt or even killed. A stock clerk at Wally World must stack product on shelves properly or it might fall and injure someone. A clerk typist who misplaces a decimal point in a technical manual can wreak all sorts of havoc when an end user attempts to follow the instructions. A court clerk or newspaper publisher incorrectly reporting that a man had raped a woman or worse, a child, immediately destroys that man's life. Improper reporting of an incident involving police might even cause riots.
So there I was recently, working on a piece of equipment a, now former, technician had almost destroyed because, well, being the Big Chihuahua my labor's free. I was just recovering from the psychological and emotional trauma of voting for three (3) Democrats, one of whom is retired Air Force, that shook me up so badly I had to go home and lie down while drinking the 6-pack of O'Doul's I keep around for emergency medicinal purposes. Then it happened. The gong sound from my e-mail client bonged to indicate someone really important had sent a message, my favorite ComedienneBabe in this case... accent on Babe, especially with her hair pulled back in that cute little ponytail when she's gearing up to go into action on a project. But I digress. CB sent a link to Deb Scott's Chattanoogan.com editorial with the history of this Aetna Mountain TIF dealie in chicken clucking mode.
She can't help it. She was raised in the 'burbs and even being a serious critter person, she's never been around chickens. For years I've tried to get through to her that chickens don't "cluck," they "buck." It sounds like TaxBucks... usually accompanied by the sucking sound we hear as our tax dollars take flight when wealthy white people with a sense of entitlement stand before government officials with their hands out. Buck-buck, buck-buck...
So what's the process supposedly followed in order to issue a TIF bond?
But first, and for the record, I've known Scottie and Doc for several years. They've both worked hard to earn what they have without looking for handouts from government, nor have they stood on the backs of taxpayers for their personal success. Theirs have truly been adventurous journeys, proof that when one is good at what he or she does there are no limits to what can be accomplished... nor is there ever a need to skulk around in the umbra or penumbra of the shadows for fear of less than honorable activities being discovered. I remember Scottie taking down her City Council predecessor on the basis of issues when Mayor Littlefield (of Ron's Excellent Adventure fame) and the rest of the council, as well as the Republican Elite, supported the incumbent, including that really nice asphalt job on Mountain Creek Road and in Lookout Valley mere days before the election. For a little bitty gal she certainly isn't afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone when she's right... that Alabama red neck pops out and she's absolutely fearless. We've bumped heads a couple of times but she's always had the grace, understanding how much I dislike getting whupped by a girl, to call it a draw as she explained her reasoning.
Man I hate getting whupped by a girl.
Several years ago I got a lesson concerning how to read our Constitution, both US and Tennessee, from one Mr. John Jay Hooker, Esquire. It took several hours, primarily because he couldn't show me pictures, but is most easily described by the example of asking his father that same question. BigDaddy told him to go ask his mother what the Constitution means... not because she was a Constitutional scholar, nor that she was either a superior or inferior intellect, but because the Constitution was written by non-lawyers to be interpreted by non-lawyers. He again used this explanation during his appearance before the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee on 17 May 2009 regarding the Judicial Retention-Election statute, and that anyone who would tell us otherwise is, well, to quote the Bard; a Charlatan, by any other name, is still a Charlatan. Mr. Tony Gottlieb put Mr. Hooker's testimony on YouTube so it's easy to find, for those who might be interested.
Thomas Jefferson made this same basic statement about interpretation in his letter of 12 June 1823 to Justice William Johnson of the United States Supreme Court when he wrote; "Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure."
Metaphysical subtleties... now there's an interesting phrase.
The law is a system not only describing the concepts of rules by which we live in a civil society, but the process by which we must apply and follow them. We can, as those wealthy white people with their significant sense of entitlement are wont to do, but not all wealthy nor all people, bring in battalions of lawyers attempting to apply a thin veneer of legitimacy to the (poop) sammich working, tax paying citizens of the community are expected to take a bite of every day as elected officials and their appointed functionaries play taxpayers as if we're nothing more than slot machines. What does that accomplish?
Cha-ching... buck-buck, buck-buck...
In their policy analysis paper dated 18 May 2011, "Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering - The Case against Tax-Increment Financing," the CATO Institute cites California Governor Jerry Brown regarding his discovery of TIF financing; "Redevelopment 'seemed kind of magical,' Brown himself stated when mayor of Oakland. 'It was the way that you could spend on stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise let you.'" We need to remember this comment.
The law regarding Tax Increment Financing (TIF) allows local governing bodies to issue bonds for low income housing, industrial development in blighted or less than desirable districts, and projects that wouldn't occur without the TIF. It's been relaxed somewhat to include projects that will provide permanent jobs to an area. Even loosening the standards, there is no allowance for taxpayer guaranteed TIF funding of BOHICA districts.
The process for obtaining TIF is very specific and well defined, beginning with the Industrial Development Board (IDB), then the County Commission if there's a tax impact, City Council, and then back to the IDB.
Citing from the Chattanoogan.com, 11 July 2014:
"The judge said the City Industrial Development Board (IDB) violated the Open Meetings Act in the way the matter was approved.
"He also cited the fact that approval of the bonds to build a road and sewer line to the top of Aetna Mountain in Lookout Valley was based on an opinion from an attorney who was paid $50,000 by the developers, who include Gary Chazen and Doug Stein.
"Chancellor Brown also said there was sufficient evidence that the planned development did not meet the definition of an eligible project under state law authorizing TIFs.
"Chancellor Brown said with the TIF void that, if a new one is sought, there would have to be a new application filed and notices sent out, then a reconvening and vote of the IDB."
A judge, an elected Hamilton County Chancellor, has determined the TIF process for the project on Aetna Mountain has been violated, the TIF is void, and the process must be re-initiated beginning with a new application. One might easily suppose this to include new approvals by the current Chattanooga City Council and Hamilton County Commission. But an unelected board, with 4 open seats, and a group of investors who, by the way, stand to profit handsomely on the backs of working schlubs, the taxpayers of Hamilton County, whether they live and vote in the county or not, have the audacity to ignore the written order of a Hamilton County Chancellor and proceed with their project as they wish? After invoking those metaphysical subtleties referred to by President Jefferson?
One might ask why they're in such a hurry... epistemologically speaking, of course.
In her essay, The Argument from Intimidation, Ayn Rand defines a process used by some to cut off debate, not with facts but the use of statements intended to impugn the character or morality of an opponent. She states such attacks always take the form "Only someone who's dishonest (cowardly, immoral, picks up her marbles and goes home) can hold such an ignorant idea." When pointed out, it's easy to see why Ms. Rand would state "The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence." isn't it.
Especially by those who depend on lawyers to invoke those metaphysical subtleties of the law.
Just because someone writes with a Montblanc, does it make him any less a mountebank? A charlatan, by any other name... without the courage to conduct business in the light of day.
Oh my. I certainly hope election day didn't do permanent damage to my psyche...
Royce Burrage, Jr.