“Why, I wouldn’t go out with you, even if you were me.”
The practice of Tax Increment Financing in Oklahoma is remarkably controversial, given the fact that it doesn’t involve actual tax increases; what happens in a TIF district is that revenue over and above a specified baseline figure is then spent on improvements in the actual district. (Michael Bates explained the process in Urban Tulsa Weekly some years ago.) Poster child for these things is the downtown Oklahoma City district set up around Devon Tower, expected to bring in about $225 million once the tower is in place; objections stem from the fact that this money is designated for upgrading that specific area, rather than spread around to all the usual open hands.
We also have something called Business Improvement Districts, which are financed by an additional assessment on property owners within their district. Since this does require a tax increase, approval by the majority of property owners is required. The Downtown OKC BID was approved in 2001.
While the BID is ongoing, TIFs tend to have an expiration date: Oklahoma TIFs are limited by law to 25 years, though most of the TIFs in Tulsa expire in 15 years. And Oklahoma City’s MAPS sales taxes have all had expiration dates, though you’d likely not have noticed it unless you read the small print on the ballot; each new collection began the day after the previous one expired. In general, people seem to like the idea that a tax can run out, which explains the actions of this guy in St. Louis County, Missouri:
The campaign for a sales tax for an emergency communications system in St. Louis County is not over although 67.74 percent of county voters approved a 0.1-cent sales tax for the system on Nov. 4.
State Sen. Jim Lembke, R-south St. Louis County, has introduced a bill (SB 638) in the state Senate that would limit the tax to five years, exempt food from the tax and prohibit the county from ever proposing the measure again.
The bill would protect taxpayers, he said. The tax needs a sunset, he said. “I don’t want to thwart the will of the taxpayers,” the senator said. The tax “should not go on in perpetuity,” he said.
I am surprised that the ballot measure didn’t specify an expiration date, since this was a one-time project. Or maybe I’m not so surprised:
Former County Councilman Skip Mange, chairman of the campaign committee for the tax, said Lembke’s bill would kill the system. “There is no other available tax revenue,” he said.
Does this constitute an admission that the measure as written would not produce the amount of revenue needed — or that the county was looking forward to that tenth-of-a-cent extra once the new system was paid for?
I don’t have a problem with dedicated sales taxes per se; apart from MAPS, OKC collects 0.75 cents on the dollar for public safety, and 0.125 cents to support the zoo. But those are ongoing activities, not one-shot projects, and they don’t have expiration dates, unlike the MAPS taxes. Jim Lembke seems to grasp the concept:
Lembke said he is willing to work with supporters to calculate a sunset for the tax. After that, the county should pay for the system’s operation and maintenance out of its general fund, he said. Or supporters should go back to voters for a special tax to maintain the system, he said.
Doesn’t sound so complicated to me.
(Triggered by a reference in this piece by Brian J. Noggle.)
Everything you thought you knew about the term “brain fart” is about to change forever. Or for at least a couple of minutes, anyway.
Sue recently purchased a new home. She writes that she closed on the house … and then learned that the previous owner had committed suicide somewhere inside it. She wouldn’t have bought the house had she known. The real estate agents claim that they weren’t aware of the situation, but if they had, did they have any moral obligation to tell her?
They didn’t have any legal obligation. The pertinent Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 93, Section 114):
The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:
(a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;
(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and
(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.
No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make a misrepresentation of fact or false statement.
The Oklahoma law (O.S. Title 59, Section 858-513) is similar, at least as regards items (a) and (b). (Soonerland presumably ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts.) In California, however, crimes within the past three years must be disclosed, and the result is often a lower price:
For example, the condo residence in the Los Angeles area where Nicole Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman were murdered was initially on the market for $795,000. It eventually sold for $595,000. The house where O.J. Simpson lived in Brentwood couldn’t be sold and was finally torn down.
The property where 39 Heaven’s Gate cult members committed suicide in San Diego County sold for less than half its listed price.
Nicole Simpson’s house, in fact, took two years to sell; the new owner remodeled it extensively and petitioned for a new street address to be assigned. (This is not unheard of in Los Angeles. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, after leaving Washington, moved into Bel-Air, at 666 St. Cloud Road; Nancy didn’t like the number at all, and eventually it was changed to 668. Across the street, if you’re curious, is 657.)
I once suspected one of the CrappiFlats™, perhaps the very one I lived in at the turn of the century, had been the location of some sort of killing; but hey, that was a rental, and geez, look at the neighborhood, what was I expecting? It wasn’t exactly Bel-Air.
I don’t know what I’d do were I in Sue’s circumstances. Officially, I snicker; late at night, though, every little noise speaks something to the contrary directly into my subconscious.
A latter-day (well, 1977, anyway) single by the Carpenters advances the notion that “it’s a dirty old shame when all you get from love is a love song.” I certainly don’t expect anything more than that. On the other hand, a good love song is worth hearing on the 364¼ days each year that aren’t Valentine’s Day, and since JenX was kind enough to put up a playlist of some of her favorites, I figure this might be a good time to point you once again to my infamous V-Day mix, now six years old and not even slightly dated. (Then again, I’m fifty-six years old and not even slightly dated these days.) One of these years I’m going to have to knock out a Volume Two.
I’ve had some fairly crummy jobs in my day, but nothing that even approaches this:
Back in the olden days (about 25 years ago), my job du jour was delivering balloons and singing telegrams. No, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket but people tend to cut you some slack if you’re wearing a bikini or leotard when you warble.
I had to work Valentine’s Day delivering multitudes of pink and red balloons, singing “You Are My Sunshine” to dozens of people whose significant others thought this was just what their partner wanted. I wore our traditional Cupid outfit… a pair of white tights, a white leotard with a big pink heart on the tush and pink heart pasties, and wings, and pink ballet slippers. When you imagine this, remember how long ago it was and that Time had not yet beat me to bits with the Large Cast Iron Skillet Of Reality And/Or Gravity. I looked pretty damn good.
And what’s the weather like in mid-February? Right:
That Valentine’s Day was the day we had blizzard warnings. That Valentine’s Day was well-digger’s-ass cold. That Valentine’s Day gave us over three feet of snow in about two hours. And that Valentine’s Day I still went to work because I was at the time married to a complete and utter waste of oxygen and I would have gone to work in a shark tank wearing a chum bikini rather than stay home with him.
So I got in my little bitty antique VW and picked up my balloons and drove/waddled off into the blizzard.
Frankly, I prefer a more scientific approach. Sometimes.
“Lacktion” means exactly what you’d think it means, and nobody has been more enthusiastic about getting the word into the vernacular than the Basketbawful guys; in fact, they have regular lacktion reports on underachieving NBA players.
Of course, if you have a whole squad full of underachievers, you have — well, no, not the New Jersey Nets, even with their four-and-infinity record. But there’s one way to find out what you do have, and that’s what they did: a game, created with 2k Sports’ NBA 2k10, featuring the Null-Stars (!) of both conferences. The game was played, says Dan B., “with five-minute quarters because referees could not be expected to stay awake for that long.”
Lacktion or not, it’s massive fun to watch, with amazing airballs, suboptimal shot selection, and, via the 2k10 canned announcers, every roundball cliché of the last ten years. I thought it was flat wonderful,
even especially when it was thoroughly horrid.
Drugs have expiration dates. But do they actually expire? Maybe not:
[M]edications in the US generally are stamped with a really, really conservative “expiration” date. Some foodstuffs that don’t actually expire have expiration dates stamped on them as well. The legal points for meds are that FDA regulations (which I’m sure the pharma industry didn’t fight too hard against) require the medicine manufacturers to stamp their products with a date to which they “guarantee the full effectiveness” of the medicine. For marketing reasons, they generally stamp them at the 2-3 year mark, not because the medicines lose effectiveness that quickly, but because they sell more meds if people don’t realize the things are good (with proper storage) up to 10 years.
During the days when I was having lots of dental work done, I’d be prescribed, say, 10 units of a painkiller after a procedure; usually the discomfort was gone after two or three, so after a while I had a decent-sized store of variations on the theme of Lortab. This came in handy during last year’s Horrible Farging Pain, and you may be sure that I took the oldest pills first. They weren’t quite ten years old, but they’d have gotten there quickly enough.
On the one hand, if the manufacturer is required to “warranty” the efficacy of their product, it’s probably best for them to limit their liability by not guaranteeing it for too long. On the other hand, by mislabeling that date as an “expiration” date, they’re tricking unwary consumers.
Food products lately are often labeled “Best if used by [date]“; perhaps this is a reasonable statement for drugs as well.
“Kerry Washington,” said noted asshat John Mayer, “will break your heart like a white girl.”
I have no idea what he meant by that, so here’s a picture of Kerry Washington in a little navy-blue dress by Luella, circa 2007.
Eat your heart out, John.
This month in Playboy, singer John Mayer steps on his schwanz. (The heavier steps have been reproduced all over the place, including the HuffPo.) Those who track the Zeitgeist more effectively than I do, which is almost everyone, seem to be split on whether Mayer is some sort of racist for disdaining black women and blaming it on the Little Head, or whether he’s simply an asshat with a Big Mouth.
Honey, you are an affront to frat boys everywhere and that’s a damn near impossible feat. You are not smart. You are not cute. You are not deep. You are not intellectual or witty or cool or hip or dope or fly or whatever it is you fancy yourself to be. You have a small, small, small brain and a very big mouth. You are a self-important asshat raised to the 11th power, quadrupled by dickheadery, topped with three servings of phony and one heaping scoop of overcompensation.
I’m glad I didn’t piss her off.
Warning: That page from which I quoted incorporates some photos that some people — those with taste — may find disturbing.
Men’s undershirts have been underperforming for as long as they’ve been around, with stretched out necks and bulky cuts that do nothing for the male physique. The men in my life (and in Hollywood) have been asking me to make Spanx for men for years, so I was inspired to create comfortable and powerful undershirts that provide instant gratification without gimmicks.
Well, I suppose it’s a hell of a lot better than wife-beaters, which still hold the record for Worst-Named Garment.
(A wave of the sleeve to the Left Coast Cowboy.)
This week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 364th, is titled “Snowpocalypse (except in Maine).”
Which, I suppose, means that it’s not difficult to get out to the Maine Mall in South Portland, located at 364 Maine Mall Road.
“In German, or in English, I know how to count down,” said Tom Lehrer in his Wernher von Braun voice, “and I’m learning Chinese.”
The good Doctor perhaps should consider Smitty’s advice as an alternative:
[I]f I wasn’t using my spare language time learning German, I’d focus on Spanish. Among that blessings the country enjoys today is the English language. It’s as important to the country as the opposable thumb to the flesh. But it was born after Hastings, when Norman French ran roughshod over Anglo-Saxon.
I predict, by the power of the rectal pluck, that in another 400 years or so the slow merger of English and Spanish shall be shown to have been an overall win.
By then, of course, we’ll have adopted just as many words in lolcat. (“¿Puedo tener una hamburguesa con queso?” just seems too formal.)
As posted to her Facebook page:
Jan Graham Borelli, age 55, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Born April 10, 1954 in Chattanooga, TN. She is the daughter of Dr. Frank B. Graham, III and Dorothy Hall Graham. Jan was an outstanding educator of more than 30 years known for her dedication to her students no matter what their age. Most recently she was the principal at Westwood Elementary School in the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) district where she had worked for a combined 17 years. While in the district she also served as principal at Roosevelt Middle School, Webster Middle School, Southeast High School and Northeast High School. Currently she was also employed as an adjunct professor at Southwest Baptist University and Kaplan University.
There’s a lot more, of course; we’re talking a seriously rich life. And somewhere it intersected with mine. On the subject of me, she once blogged:
If I weren’t happily married and tied down with all kinds of material debts, I would run off to Nova Scotia with him.
We never got that far, of course, though she did subsequently schlep me along to the Grill on the Hill. Capitol Hill, that is.
The teachers and their students came up with the theme of the gift of education money from the lottery. The teachers gathered discarded, cancelled lottery tickets from convenience stores. The kids cut ornaments from the discarded tickets and even folded and cut some of the tickets into three-dimensional mathematical shapes. They cut the top tree star out of a lottery poster. Ping pong balls with numbers carefully written to mimic the big lottery drawing balls were strung together with twine and bows to complete the decoration. After school on Wednesday, the church across the street provided vans to take the kids up to the State Capitol to decorate the tree allocated for our school.
The Capitol was abuzz with excitement as children from schools from all over the state decorated their trees as we decorated ours. The Governor and his wife went from tree to tree and posed with the students from the different schools. Our children excitedly gathered around the Governor, the Mrs. and Santa Claus to get their pictures taken. We were so proud of our tree and our creative theme.
Then the bottom fell out:
[A radio] reporter accused us of having our children sell lottery tickets. We were accused of an inappropriate display to publicize the lottery. We were accused of a lot of heinous things. What had started out as a clever idea turned out to be a sinister plot to undermine the morality of our culture.
When our annual event was over that afternoon, I called the state representative whom the radio station (and subsequently the television station) told us had called them about the tree. I apologized to him for having caused such heart burn. I explained that we had no intention of making a political statement and would gladly remove the tree. I did not wish this nastiness to besmirch our children or embarrass our Governor who had allowed the children of our state to decorate Capitol Christmas trees. I hope our controversy will not ruin this event for all the children and schools.
I followed it up here, which is how she discovered my existence.
And you know, I’d miss someone like this even if she weren’t a pretty blonde with a fabulous smile and a brain the size of a planet.
Fare thee well, Dr. Jan. See if you can knock some sense into those angels.
Accent on “always.”
(Seen at Morgan Freeberg’s place. I heard somewhere that this was actually aired during some sort of football game.)
The plumber stared in disbelief. “Roots, all right. But this is a plastic line.”
Which, as we used to say, can mean only one of one thing: the suckers had grown into the junction between the metal pipe inside the house and the plastic stuff that leads to the city sewer. It’s a good ten feet from any actual trees, but trees don’t much care about distance.
For now, the suckers have been cleared away. For later, I’m thinking in terms of something that works like copper sulfate but less likely to kill everything within a twelve-yard radius.
Generally, you won’t find the Lost Ogle among my choice of go-to guys for Biblical commentary, but while I was studying up on this new American Hockey League team we’re getting this fall, I happened upon this semi-exegesis of Luke 15:11-32:
[T]here is one question I have about this group … resurrecting minor league hockey in this town. They were previously called Express Sports which made sense considering that it was a branch of the Bob Funk empire (built around Express Personnel). Now, the group goes through a name change which was obviously meant as an allusion to the Biblical story of the prodigal son because, as anybody who knows House of Pain lyrics would recall, the son returned.
The thing is, the son was not called prodigal because of his yo-yo quality. In fact, here is the primary definition of prodigal from the dictionary:
1: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : lavish
See that’s the part of the story that gets left out. The returning son took his inheritance early and basically blew it on wine and whores. He went back to his father’s home after going flat broke in hopes he would no longer have to live on the street.
Technically, I think that Prodigal may still be an adequate name. Express Sports was accused of bankrupting the Blazers by getting visions of grandeur that they needed to be playing in the larger Ford Center rather than the cozy, and cheaper rent, Cox.
The NeoBlazers/Oil Kings/Puckheads/Whatever presumably won’t have these issues: they’re playing in the Cox (which is being updated to, they say, “NHL-caliber ice”), and Funkmaster Bob is being kept on a leash by the parent club in beautiful downtown Edmonton.
In a nationally televised address in the square, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program a day after the U.S. imposed new sanctions.
“The first package of 20 percent fuel was produced and provided to the scientists,” he said, reiterating that Iran was now a “nuclear state.” He did not specify how much uranium had been enriched.
Leaders of the Democratic Party in the United States professed concern, but expressed their confidence that Ahmadinejad had pronounced “nuclear,” or its Farsi equivalent, correctly.
In other news, North Korea announced that it would rebrand itself as a tourist destination and would seek a partner to construct two five-star, or maybe it was five two-star, hotels in downtown Pyongyang; Somali pirates proposed a Safe Passage Weekend; and an item of intimate wear alleged to have been worn once by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin turned up on eBay, where it was purchased for $11,621. We are unable to confirm that Andrew Sullivan spent the next day begging Atlantic owner David Bradley for a raise.
(Iran story via Jenn, who apparently was expecting a lot more of an announcement from Tehran.)
In the beginning there was the Snuggie, and it was good. Or at least it was warm. Sort of. If you happened to be on a pub crawl in a Snuggie, you were probably warmed more by the ethanol than by the fabric.
Inevitably, there would be knockoffs of the Snuggie. There exists, for instance, something called the HoodieFootie, which stretches the concept about as far as it can go.
But the bottom line, I think, remains unchanged:
I figure every Snuggie defender from Taunton to Tacoma will be here shortly.
(Blame this on Lisa.)
Today we started removing items from our free Web site — comics, letters to the editor, puzzles, TV grid and letters to the editor.
The idea is to wean people off the free Web site and either get them to buy the print version or the e-edition, which is just a PDF of the paper.
Evidently the letters to the editor are so heinous they have to be removed twice.
On the other hand, I suspect that those letters are the one thing people — the people who write the letters, anyway — will actually pay for. (Comics can be had from the syndicator, occasionally delayed, like it matters so much with Rex Morgan, M.D.)
And no one, Web or otherwise, has come up with a really good substitute for the old, dead TV Guide.
But here’s the kicker, from Wikipedia:
For a time, the Post-Star maintained two distinctly different online presences. PostStar.net was an all-inclusive, subscription-based offering; Poststar.com is freely available and advertising driven. As of April 2007, PostStar.net ceased operation.
(Filtered out of the stream at the Professor’s.)