Friday, July 31, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

BLD isn’t a drag on budget??????????????

coin slotManteca Bulletin's editor asserts Big League Dreams “pays” the city $380,000 a year! Saves $500,000 in “maintenance.” And the money given to BLD, about $31,000,000, came from a magical pre-existing “pool of money” that’s “not being paid back.” (Yet in the next sentence he says all RDA funds are “borrowed.”)

I want to hear more about this magical pool filled with money that has been discovered in Manteca. I’d like to go for a swim. Especially if it’s money you don’t have to pay back.

How can the city officials make such an outlandish claim, you ask? What they mean is that there’s not a budget line item called “pay back the loan for BLD.” Therefore, that particular money isn’t actually being paid back out of some fund that they decide “counts.” But make no mistake, when you borrow $31 million, it has to be paid back. That “paying back” may occur at some stage and under some convoluted structure before the money reaches the city general fund, but it still costs just as much no matter what word games are used to snow the council and the public.

By the way, about how much is this loan pay back every year? Just estimating with a financial calculator and the current bond rates, the loan payments (debt service) for BLD is somewhere in the range of $1.7 to $1.9 million each year.

The city officials, with the help of the Bulletin, hope you’ll be bamboozled with large numbers. So let me break it down for you:

Let's say you open a pizza shop. You rent the store front and pay employees. The rent and employees costs $1,900 a month. You sell $380 worth of pizzas. Have you made money? Well, you could say you took in $380 or use some other evasive language. But, in fact, you would be losing money, you wouldn’t even be able to pay the rent with the amount of pizzas you sold.

The editor would have us believe that only “critics” of the project count the loan payment, and proponents of the project count the “income.” As if the numbers depend on your feelings. The BLD costs $1,900,000 a year and “brings in” $380,000. Those numbers add up to a loss of over $1.5 million each year and it doesn’t matter if you “like” the BLD or if you’re a “critic.”

I haven’t even gotten to the crazy claim that it saves the city $500K in “maintenance.” First of all, look at how much BLD budgets each year for maintenance. The last time I saw their budget, which was a few years ago, it was just a little over $100K. That’s like your boss asks you how much you spent on gas to go on a business trip, you spent $100 but you tell the boss you spent $500.

But more importantly, the “savings” isn’t a savings at all. Building the thing incurred the cost of maintenance (i.e., if they didn’t build it there wouldn’t be any maintenance costs!). In addition, the logic is wrong, it’s simply a mental construct….

I would explain more but I have to go out and mow the lawn. In fact, I’m saving the city $100/month by mowing my lawn. After all, that’s what it would cost the city to mow my lawn, so I’m “saving” the city that money. hehehe

BLD isn’t a drag on budget

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Astronaut bases scientific conclusions on perceptions and feelings.

With absolutely no measurements or scientific data, Canadian astronaut Bob Thirsk announced to the world that the Earth “bears scars” of human destruction.  Although he acknowledged this “perception” was probably wrong that didn’t stop him from feeling sad at witnessing the damage to the Earth visible only to him through his feelings. 

"This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling that the glaciers are melting, the snow capping the mountains is less than it was 12 years ago when I saw it last time," Thrisk said. "That saddens me a little bit."

Earth bears scars of human destruction - astronaut | Reuters

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Citizens’ advisory committee

Meeting of the "citizens advisory committee" on 16 Jul 09. Briefing on current state of the economy, city government. One citizen pronounces judgment on presentation (near end of video) hehehe.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CBS News - Apollo 11 Moon Landing, July 1969

CBS News - Apollo 11 Moon Landing, July 1969 - part 1!!
Uploaded by videohollic - Check out other Film & TV videos.

Most think of the achievement of the “moon landing” as Neil Armstrong stepping on the lunar dust. I don’t; I chose this 10 minute time period because I thought it’s the most significant achievement of the “moon landing.” It was “Buzz” Aldrin who said the landing was the hard part. After all, once you have landed then it’s a simple matter to get out and walk around.

Even getting to the moon was not that hard. As soon as Robert Goddard build his first liquid fueled rocket in the 1930’s he realized that it would be possible to travel to the moon. (So did Nazi scientists such as Werhner Von Braun, who helped design the Saturn V rocket used to go to the moon).

No, the real achievement was that last 10 minutes of “powered descent” where the landing craft had to slow down from “space travel speed” to a near dead stop just at the surface of the moon. This technique was perfected by none other than semi-madman Howard Hughes, who built the first spacecraft to land safely on the moon.

In this clip you’ll hear some drama that we didn’t know much about at the time. You’ll hear those pesky “program alarms” indicating the computer was overloaded. Notice there’s a long pause where they ask about their “delta h” and “what do you want us to do with that alarm?” What he was asking was “are we gently descending to the moon or are we plummeting to our deaths? Um, any time you’d like to tell us would be great.”

Notice also the CBS “animation” is great, but at the end it’s off by almost a minute. These things are supposed to be figured to the microsecond! So what was going on?

They were supposed to land at the time the animation shows. And it’s confusing because you hear the astronauts call out “lights on” just as the animation shows a light coming on. But those are different lights! The animation shows the “contact light” but the light they were announcing was the low fuel light and they were nowhere near landing in reality. You can hear a guy on the ground give a terse “sixty seconds” (one minute of fuel remaining). What had happened, unknown to anyone on Earth at the time was that the computer was guiding them right to an unsuitable landing site; so Armstrong had to take over control and slide forward a little and then land. Just before they land you can hear that guy scream “thirty seconds!” He was reminding them, in NASA speak, that bad things would happen in 30 seconds.

There’s actually a film of these same events from inside the lander. I like that video too. But this one shows Walter Cronkite who died today at age 92.

Dailymotion - CBS News - Apollo 11 Moon Landing, July 1969 - part 1!! - a Film & TV video

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Video – God’s planning commission

I find the comments from McCorvey starting at about 1:40 fascinating:

What she seems to be saying is that it’s a mystery why Roe V. Wade hasn’t been overturned; after all it’s God’s will. But they must be missing some “key element.” So they are looking for that “key element” that will cause Roe to be overturned.

Does every generation view God as a reflection of the current culture? If you go back through books or movies, you’ll see during the 2nd World War, God was seen as a supreme general with angels and heaven organized like an army (e.g. It’s a Wonderful Life). During the ‘60’s-70’s God was seen as the great hippie, full of peace, love, rainbows, butterflies (e.g. Woodstock). Today, can it be that we view the world, and our God as the Supreme Bureaucrat?

She is suggesting that God isn’t granting the overturning of Roe V. Wade (and presumably permitting the slaughter of millions) because some form isn’t filled out correctly or some prayer isn’t being said properly or in the right order? Did she accidently submit the canary copy of her prayers and keep the blue copy for her records? Maybe it’s kneel-pray-chant-pray-chant not chant-pray-chant. Is there some department head that needs to sign off on something?

It just seemed odd to me that someone would talk about God like that, the same way I hear people talk about the City Council or the Planning Commission. Like, you never know what you have to do to get a permit for your hot dog stand, one is granted, one is denied.

Have we entered some sort of cosmic age of caprice where we view our world, and our God as the Supremely Particular Bureaucrat that demands we navigate a forest of rules and regulations and forms and procedures and “key elements” before our prayers and His will is done on earth?

Video - Roe v. Wade Plaintiff Disrupts Sotomayor Hearing -

Body identified

The Sheriff has determined the body found in the San Joaquin river near the Jail is Mr. Lum.  His family questions method of “release” from jail and the reason for the arrest and imprisonment.

I thought this issue was settled decades ago.  After the massive education campaigns (I remember them from the 1980’s and on) you’d think there wouldn’t be a single department or sheriff’s deputy who wouldn’t be aware that medical and mental conditions can mimic intoxication.

The Record report adds the detail that Mr. Lum appears to have died from drowning and that the jailers were aware of his mental condition.

Officers: Body is Lum's |

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Body found in river not positively identified

The Stockton Record is reporting that the body of the man found in the San Joaquin River hasn’t yet been positively identified.  The report suggests that the family does believe that is Jeremy Lum, but they hope they are wrong.  Link below for the report:

Body found in S.J. River yet to be identified |

(nice map by the way, I wish I’d thought of that)

There’s also a video report on KOVR

Another report in the San Jose Mercury News presents a conflicting accounts.  The deputies say he was “extremely intoxicated.”  The family says the breathalyzer test showed no alcohol.

The Mercury News story notes a similar case of a mentally impaired man wandering away from the county jail  in 2006.

KCRA adds statements by the sheriff’s dept how they tried to contact his family without success.  (contrast with the early report in the Manteca Bulletin that deputies returned the dog to his home.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Man's body found

View man found in a larger map
This map depicts events as best I can put together from the Bulletin info. The yellow pin is where Mr. Lum was found. Also shown is the County Jail (blue), Hospital and the general area of his Lathrop home.
More information in the Manteca Bulletin.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Search for Lathrop man reaches into Stockton

This is an odd story. Maybe it’s too early to criticize and I don’t know all the facts but based only on what’s reported, I have some questions:

  • Aren’t the police trained to recognize and distinguish between medical conditions and intoxication? And don’t they have that duty?
  • Does this mean every person with diabetes or epilepsy or a head injury or a variety of other conditions is now in danger of being scooped up by the police at any time and thrown into a cell with without proper medical attention?
  • The Sheriff returned the dog safely to his home, but not the man; then dumped him onto the street, barefoot and disoriented miles from home without so much as notifying someone to get him?
  • And a question for the family: When the deputies arrived that night and delivered the dog, and presumably reported the man was “being held” for “intoxication” did someone say anything or report his medical condition to the deputies?

jeremyLumI’ll be keeping an eye out for Mr. Lum and I hope you will too. Here is a picture from the Manteca Bulletin along with information. See the link below for more:

Anyone with information on Lum may call his aunt Connie Perez’ cell phone at (209) 606-8198 or call his dad Jerry at (209) 915- 2371 or call 911. Lum is 6-foot-2 inches and weighs about 160 pounds.

Search for Lathrop man reaches into Stockton

Monday, July 06, 2009

Office of behavior modification

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “we” (who’s we?) “have to get people out of their cars.” Usually it involves not funding road repairs and funding a high tech bus station (multi-modal station) instead. Or creating a subsidized bus service that travels two miles through Manteca and costs roughly $25 each trip. (The passenger pays $1, the taxpayer pays the rest.)

How many times have we heard about incorporating “smart growth” into something they call the city’s “general plan?” It’s about fighting something called “sprawl” and its evil proponents, “the developers.” Here, the “sprawl” is defined as what occurs precisely after the point in time that I move in to an area (i.e., sprawl-fighters want to move to an area and build a home for themselves, but it’s “sprawl” if anyone else does the same.)

Paradoxically, Manteca has a set of regulations outlawing building small houses and using less than a minimum amount of land while simultaneously providing taxpayer money to certain builders if they build below that minimum. It's called “high density.” Remember “density” is the inverse of “amount of land used.” So the city outlaws building on small lots, then wonders why people aren’t building on small lots, then decides to fix the problem by paying a developer to build on small lots.

Manteca also complains about traffic congestion. And at the same time it builds speed bumps, “bulb outs,” wide medians with trees in the middle of roads, and caps roads with dead ends just yards from the cross street so that road can’t be used to relieve traffic congestion. The policy is to force you to use the congested road. Then they do “studies” before giving out building permits and charge homebuyers huge extra taxes to fix the “congestion” they say they “cause.”

Come to think of it I think I just answered my own question. It’s the “cycle of money/laws/favors” in Manteca. But that really wasn’t the point of this entry, I just found the following article by George Will interesting:

Why Ray LaHood Is Wrong Newsweek George F. Will

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Manteca 3rd of July parade

Enjoy highlights of the Independence Day - eve parade!

Happy Independence Day

Here's some fireworks for you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Manteca introduces new “we won’t put you out of business” program.

IMGP2380Good news! Manteca city official have decided it no longer makes sense to do everything they can to close every local business. From now on, this treatment will only be reserved for ordinary people.

Previously, city officials have caused businesses to fail by requiring them to, among other things:

  • Tear up the sales lot of a car dealership and plant trees instead. The cars, the city felt, were unpleasant to look at.
  • Deny a permit to a car wash because the other car washes in town didn’t like the idea.
  • Revoke the permit for a dance hall because there was too much dancing and music going on.
  • Require a fitness center to purchase and build a larger parking lot because they moved a machine from one room to another.
  • …. and so on….

But city officials vow to end such abuses and put an end to the poverty enhancement policies that have plagued the past. Even the mayor is quoted as saying he thinks private enterprise is important! A new day dawns!

However, there are a few strings attached to getting your new permission to operate in Manteca. Here’s a quick checklist to see if you qualify to not be driven into poverty by city policy:

  • Do you have plans to expand? Do you draw in a lot of tax money? Has the city demanded at least a $million in fees or else?
  • Have you threatened to leave Manteca? It’s not enough to just say you’ll leave; have you actually found land in another jurisdiction and put up a “For Sale” sign?
  • Are you friends with the director of a politically well connected charity? Friends with the husband of the finance director? (regular people need not apply).

If you meet all the above requirements, you’re in luck! You simply need to have your friend ask his wife to talk to “some people” at city hall. Chances are that $million in fees will soon be “Did we say a million dollars? hmm… how about half that… no, tell you what, make it $400,000 and we’ll call it good.”

Good luck! Enjoy your new prosperity!

Manteca saves 130 jobs