This page is from the original Don't Let Me Stop You blog. We have moved to a new site: Visit DLMSY on WordPress.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lincoln Property Taxes

The news that the total value of Lincoln properties went up 17% must have warmed the heart of our beloved mayor, Coleen Seng. In principle a rise in property values doesn't automatically mean increased property taxes, as the tax rate could be dropped by a comparable amount. It seems there's no chance of that, if the mayor gets her way, according to the Lincoln JournalStar:
Mayor Coleen Seng is expected to take advantage of the increased property taxes resulting from the county assessor's recent revaluation when she releases her budget proposal. Even if she leaves the property tax rate relatively unchanged, the city portion of Lincoln property tax bills would go up for most people because the recent revaluation increased property values countywide by an average of 17.5 percent.

On June 26, the mayor unveils her budget to the City Council, which has until August to make changes to her spending plan. For the third straight year, Seng is grappling with a big projected budget deficit that hamstrings her ability to propose new programs or spending. In January, the city projected a $6.8 million budget gap and Seng told the council she hoped to avoid raising property taxes. By April, that gap had widened to $8 million to $10 million.
Apparently, the Journal Star editors are all on vacation, because the author, Deena Winter, continues with this bizarre, although true, statement:
But her proposed budget will be balanced -- this isn't the federal government, which uses deficit-spending up the wazoo.
Strange language for a "family newspaper."

We doubt the citizens of Lincoln are feeling substantially wealthier just because our new valuation notices say our houses are worth more. The mayor is misjudging the electorate, if she thinks this is an opportunity for a big tax increase. The City Council should reduce the mill rate to the revenue neutral level and keep the mayor "hamstrung on new programs and spending."

My Dad

With Fathers' Day tomorrow, here's something I wrote for the funeral of my father, Robert Draney, in March of 1994:
My memory of my father is a collage made up of thousands of little memories:
  • The sparkle in his eye as he told a joke;
  • Making up his own, silly words to popular songs;
  • Singing and whistling to himself as he worked on something;
  • The time he playfully sat on the arm of the rocking chair Mom was sitting in, fell back, and knocked a hole in the wall.
I also remember the everyday courage with which he led his life. He fought throat cancer and beat it. He fought prostate cancer and beat that. Score Dad 2, Cancer 0. He faced his problems, big and small, with quiet confidence, calm, and patience.

Dad was very interested in the family history and proud of his Irish heritage. He loved a good Irish joke, or for that matter a bad Irish joke, and he cultivated a respectable Irish accent for his joke telling. A sad Irish ballad could always bring a tear to his eye. If he regretted anything in his life, I suspect it was that he never made it over to see Ireland.

He taught me his curiosity about the way things work and his joy of learning. He showed me that it’s often pretty easy to fix something that’s broken, if you just give it a try. After he retired he took up computers as a hobby, although he knew practically nothing about them at the time. He learned, we learned together, and we both had fun in the process.

But the best thing about Dad was his kind, gentle heart. I’ve heard that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Dan and Mom did that so well every day that we kids hardly noticed it, until we grew up and saw how special that is. His love for Mom and for us was always unquestioned, unconditional.

Dad put his heart into his work, as well. In “vocational rehabilitation” he spent his career helping the handicapped learn to help themselves. I have always felt proud of the kind of work he did and the good he did for others.

We always knew Dad had a big heart, but it turned out that also meant it was “enlarged.” In the end his heart was just too big for him to stay here on earth with us.
Dad's branch of the family left Ireland for Canada well before the Potato Famine. After some years in Canada they emmigrated to Kansas, where he was born.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Guantanamo Suicides

The suicides of three hardcore prisoners at Guantanamo has reinvigorated calls for closing the camp, as if that would solve anything. The prisoners still have to be dealt with one way or another, and Guantanamo is just the location where that difficult problem is currently dealt with.

First of all, they are not POWs under the terms of the Geneva Convention. They are not part of any regular military unit, let alone one representing a signatory to the treaties. The tactics of their organizations, deliberately targeting non-combatants and masquerading as civilians, are clearly forbidden by the treaties they seek to invoke. They hack off the heads of their prisoners.

So what could be done? Several things have already been tried with bad results. Some "low risk" prisoners were released, only to return immediately to jihadist activities. Sending them back to their countries of origin, "rendition," is also being denounced by the same crowd as above. Sending them to special prisons in Europe is apparently also verbotten. Perhaps we could get them all some nice apartments on the Rive Gauche.

I'm willing to concede that it's possible that a few of the prisoners might be innocent, at least I'll concede that to anyone willing to admit that most of them are not. Although holding them all until the "end of hostilities" may be legal in a strict sense, that is effectively a life sentence. Given that some may be innocent, they need to be tried. The place for that is a military court. The sooner the better.

If the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui taught us anything at all, it is that the civilian courts are not the place to deal with terrorists. He was able to turn his trial into a circus and keep his babbling in the news for months. Thank goodness he got life in prison or we'd have to suffer through endless reruns with each appeal of the death sentence. Now he can just disappear into obscurity for the rest of his life.

I'm somewhat puzzled that anyone is shocked by these suicides, though. Despite all that we're told about Islam forbidding suicide, there's obviously no shortage of people eager to kill themselves in its "service." These guys already wanted to be "martyrs" for jihad; that's how they got there. If a suicide could hamper the battle against jihadism, they'll line up to get their tickets punched.

Others disagree [emphasis added]:
Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a telephone interview from New York that those held at Guantanamo "have this incredible level of despair that they will never get justice. And now they're gone. And they died without ever having seen a court."

Olshansky, whose group represents about 300 Guantanamo detainees, wept during the interview. She appealed to the Bush administration "for immediate action to do the right thing. They should be taken to court or released. I don't think this country wants the stain of injustice on it for many years to come."
Cry me a river, Barbie. Better they should hang themselves than strap on an explosives belt and take a bunch of innocents with them. Chances are about 299 of those 300 would happily slit your throat if they had the chance.

Technorati tags: