STOP! I'm freaking out!

by cpicht 8/7/2011 4:16:00 PM

STOP! I’m freaking out!

I don’t know what it is but something is getting under my skin. The most likely subjects are Trinity River Vision, the debt ceiling, aviation museum, and maybe even the font I’ve chosen for this piece of enlightenment.

It just seems like we go from one crisis to another and they all drive me up the wall. As I started this piece I was using Calibri but it just didn’t fit my mood so I went through the entire font list twice before settling on Verdana. The font has to fit your mood. Hack writers will stick with New Times Roman because that’s likely what shows up first in their word processer or that’s what they’re used to. I like a mood match.

As I scanned the web site www.startelegraph.blogspot.com/ I was humored by a photo of Congresswoman Kay Granger holding a T-shirt saying “cover your butt”. She should know, I guess. While she pontificates about property values, her son JD is busy with the TRV Authority getting the Tarrant Regional Water District to relieve some people of their property altogether. It’s all about flood control, of course, but if it wasn’t that she’d say it was in the interest of national defense. You’ve got to get up early to beat a Congresswoman to the draw.

My oldest son, Dr. James W Picht, brilliant economist, linguist, professor, photojournalist, commentary writer for Washington Times Communities, and chip off the old block, (OK, I wasn’t any of those things but I was a damn good pilot and flight instructor) recently wrote in the Times about the debt crisis and who won and who lost the debate. He threw a little fault at the Tea Party and I had to respond (ordinarily I’m in complete accord with Jim even though he is an Aggie ((TX A&M)). Man, I’m sick and tired of the press blaming the Tea Party for anything. If it weren’t for the Tea Party we’d have a debt ceiling increase without any spending cuts of any kind, even fake spending cuts.

Tax reform is certainly an essential element in controlling our fiscal irresponsibility but it comes after getting a hold on spending. A congress that can stop the growth of government and sharply reduce spending can also reform the tax code. For that they would have the support of the Tea Party and we would be on the way to restoring fiscal responsibility and an AAA credit rating.

Democrats have had ample opportunity, with the President, and a majority of both houses of congress for two years, to implement tax reform and fiscal responsibility. They’ve failed on both counts. They haven’t even been able to pass a budget yet they rammed through a health care bill that will further bloat the deficit. Democrats have been key in expanding elligibility and benefits for Social Security, Medicaid, and even veterans’ benefits. They’ve mucked up the tax code and increased the size and intrusiveness of government.

A friend at a Tuesday morning coffee klatch ranted for 6 years about the debt increases under Bush. Now with Obama tripling the national debt in just two years my friend suddenly has a sock in his mouth. The national challenge is not how to balance the budget, it’s how to get Democrats to realize there is a budget problem.

And on to the aviation museum. When I was on the city council, I advocated for saving the B-36, one of four remaining, that had a major role in the Cold War, and placing it in a local museum. Mayor Barr instructed the city manager, Gary Jackson, that “not one nickel” should be “in the budget for the B-36.” An icon of the Cold War and the mayor didn’t want to spend a nickel of taxpayer money to keep it in Fort Worth. What a shame. What a lack of foresight!

Now, years later, after Mayor Mike Moncrief’s task force to create an aviation and space museum has completed the legwork and determined the viability of same, suddenly we can’t raise the money. Say what? The museum consultant (Lord Group) found the potential donors and said it could be done.

So who are the backsliders, the potential donors or the museum board? Aviation has been the biggest mover of our economy, greater than cattle, greater than oil, even greater than prostitution, which flourished into the 90s.

Does anybody give a shit – really?

 

 

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL

by cpicht 6/9/2011 8:22:00 PM

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL

Can’t remember who said it but it always stuck with me. If we don’t elect the best at the local level, how can we expect the best at the national level? As most of our national leaders started at the local level, you can see what it got us. Our national debt is precarious, housing prices have tanked, gas is getting exorbitant, unemployment reaches for the moon, and inflation looms.

It doesn’t matter whether there is a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ behind their name. Some are good and some are less than good. But it starts right here, here in River City, Fort Worth, TX USA.

On June 18th (or in early voting) you can make a choice. Make a choice based on what that candidate will do for Fort Worth. Fort Worth is all of us and we need a mayor who will keep that in mind. There is a difference in the candidates and you need to be mindful of that difference.

Back in 2006, during the water board election, Jim Lane admitted that Trinity Uptown probably would not look like the fancy artist’s conception being peddled by proponents. To this day he won’t defend it in the terms that the proponents would like. Betsy Price, in her first time to speak to the public, indicated reservations about Trinity Uptown. By the time the election loomed she had restated her position that it is a good economic development project.

We can argue the merits of Trinity Uptown for a long time but the issue came down to who was really being honest about the project or, perhaps, who knew what they were talking about. The more they have appeared to speak before the voters, it has become clear that only Jim Lane has known what he was talking about and is aware of the responsibilities of the city council.

Business as usual isn’t good enough in this economic climate. We need an experienced leader in the city’s number one political position. The only one with city hall experience is Jim Lane. In my eight years on the council there were numerous times where we differed on policy but Jim was always honest and above board in dealing with other council members and staff.

Do yourself and your neighbors a huge favor and go vote for Jim Lane for Mayor of Fort Worth.

Dear Friend

by cpicht 5/23/2011 4:13:00 PM

Dear Friend,

On May 18th the Trinity River Vision Authority PR babe gave a TRV dog and pony show to the computer group and those interested in computers at the TCC River Campus. Telling us how those darn floods have to be kept out of downtown and what the development could bring for the taxpayer contribution of $908,000,000.00, I wanted to write a check for the whole thing.

When Ms. Laura Mayberry had finished the presentation I asked when they were going to admit that the project creates flooding more than it protects from it and when will we know the real cost? She suggested I come to their office and speak with JD. That’s JD Granger, son of Congresswoman Kay Granger, and formerly of the Tarrant County DA’s office.

Well coincidentally not but two days later an email hits Cong. District 12, from the Honorable Kay Granger and addressed to her “Dear Friend.” The Hon. Ms. Granger wanted to dispel any false notions about funding her urban waterfront project.

“The TRV Project has increased my water bill.” Citing the “Storm Water Fee” added to the water bill, she said “Not a single cent of that fee goes to the TRV project.” That is indeed true. But in the shell game of public finance the storm water fee pays for what should have been financed from the general fund and frees up bond money to finance such things as bridges for TRV.

“How much money does the City of Fort Worth pay for the TRV Project?” “Fort Worth committed $26.6 to the Trinity River Vision Project. This amount has not changed since the start of this project – and is not expected to increase.” “The remaining amount committed by the City of Fort Worth has been budgeted within the city’s revenue fund, and does not compete with any street repairs or any other initiatives.” Wow! Do you believe that?

First off, the city share ($14.7 million) of the $86 million TRV bridges is based on 2008 dollars. As an example of inflationary forces, the Omni Hotel had a greater than 30% increase in construction costs during a three year period. According to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (June 12, 2005) referring to the city share of $26.6 million, “The remainder will come from future bond issues voters will be asked to approve and from water and sewer funds.

Obviously, any money from the city’s revenue fund competes with street repairs and other initiatives. The city has also committed 80% of taxes from increased property values within the Tax Increment Finance district that was approved in 2005. The TIF has since been doubled in the amount and duration. Those are tax dollars which are unavailable to the city’s general revenue fund.

The final blow to the city taxpayer is the expense of building a new fire and police training facility. That cost was estimated at $110 million in 2009. Also in jeopardy due to TRV is the Hawes recreational center adjacent to the training academy.

Congresswoman Granger further points out the number of jobs created is 16,000.  Over 40 years that’s 400 per year. A real employment bonanza. You must also consider the $1.1 billion (JD and TRVA say $1.3 billion) added tax base. That too is over 40 years and at a probable cost of way, way over the current cost projection of $908,000,000.00.

“Ultimately, Oliver (Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District) said, backers might seek more local money: from the city, Tarrant County or the Water District, or by borrowing based on future development potential.” James Toal, chief urban planning consultant, said, “The taxpayers will not be left holding the bag.” How reassuring.

In summary, TRV is going to cost a lot more, bring in a lot less revenue and compete with essential infrastructure repair. Lift the shell and there’s nothing there, the taxpayer loses (again).

 

Media

by cpicht 5/6/2009 4:26:00 AM

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Media

by cpicht 5/6/2009 4:24:00 AM

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Clyde Picht

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