Saturday, June 23, 2012

Michigan county cracks down on unlicensed dogs

News from The Associated Press: FLINT, Mich. (AP) -- Hey, was that a bark?

With 18 full-time enforcers, a Michigan county is going door-to-door to find dogs that don't have a license, an effort that could raise more than $250,000 in fees this summer.

More than 1,700 dog owners in Genesee County bought licenses during a two-week amnesty when delinquent fees were waived. Now the campaign is getting serious with workers prepared to sell licenses on the spot or write tickets in the county 50 miles north of Detroit.
Local governments are really scraping to bring in every dime of potential revenue.

Prisons, Privatization, Patronage -

Prisons, Privatization, Patronage - So what’s really behind the drive to privatize prisons, and just about everything else?

One answer is that privatization can serve as a stealth form of government borrowing, in which governments avoid recording upfront expenses (or even raise money by selling existing facilities) while raising their long-run costs in ways taxpayers can’t see. We hear a lot about the hidden debts that states have incurred in the form of pension liabilities; we don’t hear much about the hidden debts now being accumulated in the form of long-term contracts with private companies hired to operate prisons, schools and more.

Another answer is that privatization is a way of getting rid of public employees, who do have a habit of unionizing and tend to lean Democratic in any case.

But the main answer, surely, is to follow the money. Never mind what privatization does or doesn’t do to state budgets; think instead of what it does for both the campaign coffers and the personal finances of politicians and their friends. As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business.
Opponents of Privatopia who for years have been complaining the common interest development/community association industrial complex has taken over their neighborhoods, statehouses and city halls are likely nodding their heads in agreement.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Financially-strapped Nevada city declared disaster - Yahoo! News

Financially-strapped Nevada city declared disaster - Yahoo! News: After five years of declining property taxes, massive layoffs and questionable spending, leaders of the blue-collar, family-oriented city outside Las Vegas declared a state of emergency, invoking a rarely used state law crafted for unforeseen disasters.

No matter that the statute, which allows municipalities to suspend union contracts and avoid paying scheduled salary increases, doesn't actually include fiscal emergencies among the list of potential disasters.

"It says, in case of 'emergency such as.' You can't list how many different types of emergencies there are in the world," City Council member Wade Wagner said of the move, which will save the city $9 million.

There are many cities across the nation grappling with declining property values and growing expenses like North Las Vegas, but few, if any, have declared financial emergency.
Apparently not even privatizing infrastructure and governance here in the heart of Privatopia was enough to make things pencil out.

Direct link to the Mazdabrook Commons HOA v. Kahn opinion

Hacking into Gated Communities

Hacking into Gated Communities
In which somebody explains how to do that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Inside USA - Privatised cities - 17 Oct 08 - Part 1 - YouTube

Inside USA - Privatised cities - 17 Oct 08 - Part 1 - YouTube
This is a documentary about Sandy Springs, Georgia, an affluent suburb of Atlanta that incorporated itself as a municipality so the folks in their $350,000 homes wouldn't have to share their precious tax dollars with poor people. They contracted with mega-engineering firm CH2M Hill to provide all municipal services except police and fire for $25 or $30 million, making them basically a fully privatized city. The core of the whole thing, of course, is the CID housing in which these folks live.  I guess if we need examples of privatopia, this place will do. There are four more "cities" like it nearby. I understand Sandy Springs got a better deal recently than CH2M Hill was giving them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thief drains Cedar Lake HOA accounts

Thief drains Cedar Lake HOA accounts:
Stuart Cohen, a Portland-based attorney representing Cedar Lake and some of the other victims, said he’s been told that the suspect stole the money to fund a sister company in Palm Springs, Calif., called Pacific Empire Community Management.
He estimates that 900 homeowners have lost money.
It is unclear whether the theft is covered by Northwest Empire Community Management’s various insurance policies, including one for “employee dishonesty.” Watson also hopes the Cedar Lake Homeowners Association’s insurance covers some of the losses.

Colo. Neighborhood May Ban Sidewalk Chalk Art | KREX - News, Weather, Sports for Grand Junction | Montrose | Glenwood Springs - Coverage You Can Count On | Around the Region

Colo. Neighborhood May Ban Sidewalk Chalk Art | KREX - News, Weather, Sports for Grand Junction | Montrose | Glenwood Springs - Coverage You Can Count On | Around the Region

Everyone knows chalky sidewalks depress property values. Thanks to Bill Davis for this item.