Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Garbage or Gaming?

Let's seqway these politics to local. How about this? (copy and paste)http://www.ddtonline.com/articles/2008/09/25/news/news2.txtclipped from today's online DDT paper:

**The city council reaffirmed its commitment to the Delta Blues Casino and convention center on Tuesday, agreeing to take on $4 million of debt from the developers, after the downtown project is completed.****

Greenville faces a $700,000 budget shortfall going into the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct 1. The city has taken out a short-term loan to cover expenses until it can account for the deficit.**

Apparently our Diva Mayor and her Council, all but for Carl McGee and absent Eric Simmons, have found a pot of gold somewhere! 4 MILLION DOLLAR DEBT???? We are $700GRAND plus in the red, as I type and out making a loan that we can not pay back to go with the other bonds (loans)already active thanks to the Mayor's so called election proclamations of "getting Greenville out of the red...yeah right!!!!

"We are losing services, city workers and budget cuts right and left.....yet??? Our city leaders deem that we can afford to take on this kind of mega debt??? Do none of them own a TV or radio, subscribe to the paper, hear word of mouth to know what is happening in the financial world today? Have they lost their minds?

McGee says there will be no income from the property and is against the mega debt commitment....at least ONE is using his head....what are they thinking?? The next election there needs to be some major house cleaning on the Council and of the Mayor, this is outrageous! For now, if we as a city do not rise up and be heard about this, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. I am totally flabbergasted at the "leaders" and their thinking. There must be something in the city hall water that is affecting their brains!

We can not afford a second pick up for garbage or city improvements to buildings, parks or streets, but by golly, we can take on a $4 million dollar debt??????.....unbelievable!!!!

She can't even get FEMA money here for the flooded homes, how does she figure the city can find money later for this mega debt???? I am just stunned and floored!

"We" may not be profiting from this 4 million dollar fiasco, but you can be assured that someone will. Casinos are notorious for "greasing the shoots" through which local politicians have to slide. A million dollars in local "pay-offs" is chump change to these New York moguls!

Question... why do we need another casino? We have two that are dying in the wake of the newest one, which is reported to be in financial trouble already. Why do we keep making the same mistakes and expecting different outcomes?

The only locals who have made money from casinos are those who sold them lake front property or property on Walnut Street. What improvements have we seen as a result of casinos? Have they improved our roads, tourism or added restaurants and quality entertainment? No, they have simply sucked the life out of our impoverished city by draining the pockets of those who can least afford it.

The "welfare capital of our state" does not need another excuse to waste money. Mayor Hudson and all of her cronies need to be impeached and removed from office.

The next time you are cramming your garbage into your already overflowing container... think about it!

Forthright

40 comments:

another perspective said...

There was an angry response to a DDT e-mail in tonights' paper where the person writing in complained of funds invested in the Greenville Blues party at the Oxford debate. Apparently, the editor Ross Reilley got fired up in the "arrogance and audacity" of the writer to "question" the "REAL purpose" of the party and who attended. As a taxpayer we all have the right to ask that question about any city/county sponsored event.

I can understand the questions asked. Promotions are only worthwhile, when you have something worthwhile to promote. I used to be a "positive" person, I tried to find the better in Greenville to hold on to, I still try, but it is getting harder every day and now the with news of $4 million being committed for payment by our city leaders, when Greenville is so far in the red already and sinking further into debt each day. Now we are in debt projecting into the next two years!!! Good grief!

I think the writer was just frustrated in more wasteful spending out of the city and county and not more investments into Greenville and Washington county that we can all appreciate.
How about paying the bills? There is a good start! Or better yet, let's throw a party to get jobs and an industry's attention. I am for that!

I wonder too, was it just a reason for out city/county leaders to party at the costs of sponsors and tax dollars or was there any real benefit at all. EXACTLY what was promoted? I never saw anything about it that night on TV, not a blip on either local channel. Did anyone else see it and maybe it missed it??? The Editor and the Mayor said it was to show off the Delta to the world...where was the world? Did it show up? If so, how many "others", not involved in the City and County, got to learn "more" about Greenville/Washington County for this party event? That is the real question. It was never answered either. My understanding is those on the list to be attending the debate had tickets, it was not an event open to the general public. The others who showed up, just came to say that they were there and be part of the free entertainment, food and fun party.

I have no problems with promoting Greenvile and the Delta when there is a good chance of reaping results and good publicity. I tend to agree with the writer and question what the results were, if any, other than as I said already, folks looking for a free party on someone else's money.

I think we are all sick and very tired of politicians using our funds or even donated funds for a self serving good time, while we all try and figure out where our hard earned money has gone to from retirement funds, stock investments, etc. and then we try to make it to the next payday and pray we regain at least a portion of our lost funds. It really is a scary time for everyone. The world will never be the same after these last few days, good or bad, we will all have to buck up and take it, even though we did not cause it!

Apparently, those at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been having some major parties and NO ONE stopped to question them....wish someone had!

4 casinos? said...

Actually, we now have three casinos including Harlow's at the bridge, the Blues Casino will be number 4. I hear Harlow's Casino is starting to cut back and feels a crunch too.

Their shows are not attracting folks, as they hoped. I have heard several tell me that they got free tickets to the shows just to fill the seats, meanwhile others apparently paid their money.

So now we need a 4th? One that has been in the "works" for years???? That does not sound too reassuring! The location for the Casino Convention Center will be at the rear of the C & G restaurant...??? How does that location help Washington Ave? Afterall, when the Convention Center was first planned by the city, it was to be located ON Washington Ave. at the old Stein Mart location. The purpose was to boost Washington Ave....I can not see how this location will help Washington Ave. Most folks will travel Central street to get to it, not Washington...did I miss something??

FEMA CONFUSED said...

Oh, just to be accurate, the Mayor did finally get FEMA's attention to the point of up to $28,000 per flooded household. WOW...that is going to buy some nice carpet and flooring for these homes, real nice!

Aren't homes in low areas supposed to have flood insurance??? Why was FEMA needed if that is the case and if they did not spend the money for the insurance, why do we have to pay for it with tax dollars? I am so confused!

Now I might understand FEMA for those who were not in flood zones and became flooded, but does that mean this money is a gift, loan or what?

4 casinos and 2 convention centers!! Kick that dead horse!! said...

4 Casinos,

You are so right, If Harlows would have some decent shows I think more folks would attend. But these old dried up acts just don't get it. And they can't charge 200 dollars a ticket and plan to pack the place out.

The convention center will look real nice next to the brand new/ never used hotel on central st. But to make it fit in we will have to wait and let the weeds grow around it..

No really, I'm all for trying to get Greenville back Up to the poverty level, But I am really curious, what will we be able to do with a new convention center that we cant do with the one that we already don't use??

4 casinos and 2 convention centers!! Kick that dead horse!! said...

Build it, they will come!!

NOT IN THIS CASE!!


TURN IT BACK INTO A CORN FIELD!!!
AT LEAST THEN THERE WILL BE A PROFIT FROM E85 FUEL!!

Anonymous said...

We are not in a flood zone, therefore, we have no flood insurance. However, we did suffer water damage secondary to flooding the night it rained 8+ inches in a few hours. That's why FEMA is needed. We pay for it already, trust me!

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, you do not have to live in a flood zone to purchase flood insurance or an earthquake zone to purchase earthquake insurance, this is called risk management, an individual's option to purchase these coverages. When the river stages were setting records earlier this year, we purchased flood insurance. I guess other people had more faith in the levees than we did.


As far as the downtown casino and convention center, maybe there is a connection to the numerous downtown property purchases and this planned convention center.

Curious said...

Anon 10:14, we bought flood insurance for the first time last spring too,for the same reason. Some gambled, we didn't. I was so glad that night it was near to flooding my home that we did! I intend to keep it at this rate. It is now proven that most of Greenville IS in a flood zone with the poorly serviced and poorly functioning drainage systems that we have in this city and the many drainage ditches that have not been cleaned out properly in years. Not only on main street areas; but within neighborhoods.

By the way, my home is NOT in a flood zone either. History of the 1927 flood shows it could be though and nearly was!

What numerous purchases of property? Bought by whom and for what intentions? I have not heard anything about that.

Fema workings said...

So explain how FEMA works? Is the money for repairs a gift? Is it taxable? Is there proof required as far as estimates for repairs or is there an amount that all are given?

Anonymous said...

Many are taking the FEMA money and selling their houses and moving from Greenville. They see this as their opportunity.

See ya! said...

Really? Well Godspeed to them. Good luck finder a qualified buyer!

Titantic said...

According to the sound off to the
"Mean spirit" response from Reilley in today's DDT online, www.ddtonline.com, others agree with her standpoint of wasteful spending for a party when Greenville needs so much more!

I agree and I am glad that they responded to let him know that publicity political parties don't mean crap when the boat is sinking!

Anonymous said...

check out new opinions

www.deltapithy.blogspot.com!

After thought DEBATE said...

I Think we need Biden for Pres. and McCain for V Pres. That would be a strong pair!







But John M will be getting my vote.

Anonymous said...

http://somethingoverwrought.blogspot.com/

Go to this to see how we look to a teach for america student from oregon. Oh the stuff that novels are made of...

Just the Facts said...

I guess everyone has the right to express an opinion, no matter how uninformed it may be.

However, in the unlikely event that anyone is actually interested in the "facts" concerning the City's recent reaffirmation of its previous agreements with the developers of what will - hopefully - become the Downtown Convention Center, I offer the following.

First, the City's recent action is just that -- its reaffirmation of an agreement that was originally signed during Mayor Artman's administration that, under certain specific circumstances, the City will step in and assume ownership of the Convention Center and assume a portion of the debt attributable to it. The circumstnces under which this would occur include:
(1) The Casino and the Convention Center actually be built, and be operated for a period of two years by the developers;
(2) Within that two year period, the developers construct sufficient additional "landside" structure(s) to "replace" the Convention Center as the casino's required landside development under Mississippi's gaming law; and
(3) The Casino continues to operate the Convention Center for the City for at least five additional years, with the Casino being responsible for all of the actual operating expenses of doing so. Although the current projected cost of the Center is in excess of $6 million, the City will be responsible for no more than $4 million of that amount.

How will this amount be funded? In several ways. First, there will be revenues generated from operation of the Center. While,I suppose, in the final analysis, it's anyone's guess what actual revenues attributable to the Center will be,pro formas indicate that they will be significant. More importantly, however - and this is not conjecture - leaving aside the additional gaming revenues that the City will receive,the new casino development will generate well in excess of $500,000 per year in NEW ad valorem taxes to the City. The entire development will have a value of slightly more than $45 million. For the first two years, while the developers own the entire project, that entire amount is taxable. After the City takes ownership (if all of the contingencies are satisfied) the remaining taxable amount will still be almost $40 million. That's a lot of taxes in anybody's book but, more to the point, it is an amount far in excess of what will be required to amortize a $4 million debt.

That's how the City finds the money to pay for it - it pays for itself.

Unless people stop to think about it, they don't realize that there is really very little that a city government can do to "create jobs," or to "bring industry to town," or, in fact, to effectuate any real, significant change in our local economic condition. The City and, for that matter, the County or the Economic Development Center are limited to the same incentives that are allowed any other governmental unit in Mississippi -- certain tax exemptions and other programs can serve as something of a "lure" for businesses, but they're available everywhere, and are no incentive for anyone to choose Greenville over any other Mississippi community. I don't need to pointlessly rehash our drawbacks in that regard, because we're all painfully aware of what those are.

That's what really burns my toast about the current carping over the prospect of the City's taking ownership of a Convention Center -- while there are lots of things that the City CAN'T do to stimulate the economy, this is something that it CAN do, and it's trying to do what it can to get it accomplished. It's maddening when people who know absolutely nothing about the facts nonetheless fire off criticism from the safe anonymnity of a keyboard or, for that matter, at the local coffee shop. Again, everyone has the right to an opinion, but it's more helpful if it's an informed or, at least, a productive one.

We should, instead, be hoping that the City ultimately has the opportunity to assume the ownership and, yes, the partial debt, of the Convention Center. Why? Because, if that occurs, we will ALSO have (and will have had for two years previously) the jobs, the gaming revenue and the tax revenue that comes with the development.

Very few worthwhile proposals come with no risk -- however, for the life of me, I can see little, if any, risk to the city with this one. Let's try to mute the cynicism and our famous negativity on this issue for a while.

Information shared said...

"Facts", apparently you are someone in the know and I appreciate you sharing this information....Now...would not it have been wise for this information to be shared with the citizens in the paper and news to UNDERSTAND more about the why's, whens and hows??? We are not children, we have the right to be informed of happenings, promises and intents preferabley before hand and not after.

The Officials have no one to blame but themselves; if they do not share the goals, visions and data. If all we are informed of is expense and "no income" according to Councilman Carl McGee, (supposedly informed and in the know??) then what else are we to think.

I hope all you wrote is true, it is reassuring, more so than anything else that has been publicized and shared by our city government. Your information needs to be a HEADLINE, not a side column as it was, in the DDT with no details.

Since you are in the know, I am assuming this is all correct information, if so, I hope to see it confirmed in the DDT soon, to be shared with everyone. Maybe then the negative comments will stop and we can all feel good about a mega debt promise.

Anonymous said...

You know, people need to stop trying to lay the woes of the current administration back to Artman. Hudson has been mayor almost 5 years now. Any prior assumed agreements that Artman may or may not have negotiated, until they were finalized, were not agreements. 5 years ago the economy was in much better shape, and a deal like this could have made sense then. He is not the mayor now, and is no longer responsible for the current decisions, good or bad.

just the facts said...

"Information," first of all -- it IS all true, and you're right that people need to have access to the facts.

In this case, however, the facts have always been available. The public has been advised from the very beginning of this process - and certainly no later than December of 2003 - that the city was going to take a financial position in the cenvention center if the proper sequence of events occurred. This was the same sequence of events that STILL applies. Perhaps the problem lies in the unfortunate length of time this matter has become drawn out. Maybe a brief - or maybe not so brief - history lesson will help make this point.

The idea of a downtown convention center actually originated (at least in its latest reincarnation) during Mayor Artman's second term.

Oh - in light of the last comment above by "anonymous" - I'm not "laying" anything at Mayor Artman's feet. It was a good idea at the time he had it, and I believe that, all things considered, it's still a good idea.
(in other words, don't be so dang paranoid...I'm giving him credit, not blaming him....Jeeeez!)

OK, back to the history lesson.

Initially, the plan was to have the facility located at the site of the old Stein Mart building. Negotiations were conducted with the two downtown casinos about what involvement they would be willing to have with the project, as a conveniently-located convention facility would have unquestionably had a positive impact on their revenues (and these new revenues would, for the most part, be "outside money" --new money that had no previous Greenville/Delta connection). Most of the construction funding would have come from a new 1% sales tax that was proposed as a part of the deal. After much discussion and wrangling, the "old" council finally voted to request a local and private bill from the legislature. Unfortunately, this council vote came too late in the legislative session for the legislature to pass it. Pages flip off the calender and, by the next lgislative session, the legislature is involved in a knock down/ drag out battle with the City of Jackson over the issue of raising its sales tax to pay for a convention center there. Politics being as they are, and consistent with the law of unintended consequences, the legislature finally completely balked, and took the position that NO local sales tax increases would be allowed -- for anyone. At that point, Greenville's convention center seemed to be a dead issue.

All of this was well publicized in the local media.

However, about a year later, the City learned that another casino, tentatively to be called the Delta Blues Casino, was being proposed by a development group. In discussions with this group, the City stressed that it believed that, instead of another hotel (which, to that point, was the only type of shoreside development that the Mississippi Gaming Commission had allowed) it wanted a Downtown Convention Center. Ultimately, the City went to the Gaming Commission with the developers and the Commission ultimately agreed to approve the convention center.

At what I believe was Mayor Artman's last council meeting, in December of 2003, the City and the casino developer signed a Memorandum of Understanding that, in brief, provided that:
(1)the developer would construct the convention center, and operate it to attract additional patrons from outside the City's normal visitor base;
(2) the City would guarantee the initial loan for the construction of the facility;
(3)the developer also anticipated constructing additional shore side facilities;
(4)after a mutually-agreed-upon period of operation of the facility (this period was later set at two years) it would be transferred by the casino to the City, provided the developer had built the additional facilities contemplated by the agreement; and
(5) the cost of the facility was estimated at that time at $3.6 million.

This agreement was well-publicized at the time and, frankly, I can recall no particular controversy about it.

After this Memorandum of Agreement was signed, the City requested, and was successful in obtaining, local and private legislation to allow it to own a convention center (apparently, through a peculiarity of Mississippi law, counties, but not municipalities, are authorized to own/operate convention centers).

Things moved slowly thereafter but, in August of 2005, Mayor Hudson, with the approval of the City Council at a regular council meeting, signed two follow-up agreements. They were:
(1) a development agreement, covering the construction and initial two years of the facility's operation; and
(2) a managment agreement, which covers the facility's operation for the intitial five years of the facility's operation by the casino after the City takes ownership.

These Agreements simply "fleshed out" the Memorandum of Understanding,and their adoption, like that of the Memorandum of Understanding back in 2003, was covered by all of the local media. Again, I don't recall any significant public disagreement.

In sum, as of 2003 and again in 2005, the public was clearly advised about what was going to happen, and what the City's role --and, more importantly, what the City's obligations -- would be.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago.

After a fairly long hiatus, the developers had/have apparently come close to finalizing their financial arrangements. They had substantially expanded the scope of the Convention Center aspect of the project and, understandably in light of the passage of time, certain lenders wanted the city to reconfirm its previously-agreed obligations regarding the facility. Additionally, because the convention center project had almost doubled in scope/price, from $3.6 million to $6.5 million, the developers requested that the city increase the amount of its guarantee. The increase requested, however, was "only" $400,000. (I realize that's a relative term, but think, under the circumstances, that it's appropriate). The Council reaffirmed the City's commitments, and also increased its guarantee by the amount requested.

That's all true, and I assume that it can be confirmed by digging through old issues of the DDT -- I don't recall specifically the amount of detail that was contained in the newspaper or the local TV stations' reports, but the entire deal was publicized and was known at the time it was negotiated.

Part of the problem may be that there is so little "institutional memory" around here. I don't believe that any of the current DDT reporters were around in 2003 or 2005, and am not sure about either of the TV stations.

The fact remains, however, that,other than the increase from $3.6 million to $4 million, this is not a new issue at all. It's actually one of the oldest issues that the council has addressed, and it has always been addressed in public.

Info shared said...

I recall discussions and plans over these years,but honestly, with no activity, myself and most of us felt that it was all just talk and long forgotten, so therefore we all did.

Also, I DO recall complaints and letters in the paper years ago.

I am all for anything that brings in more tax dollars than are spent, etc.....but; if all what you say is accurate (you voice it with authority, so I am taking your word for it) why did one Councilman Carl McGee vote against and state that "the city would receive no income"?? Where did he get this from? Apparently, he is ill informed too????

Yes, I do feel a detailed report would have made a difference and still can to inform the general public of all that you have written. I think it is imperative that details, real details, be shared in the local paper. That would surely help.

better informed citizens said...

So, if a person moved to Greenville in the last five years, that person would have no clue of these intentions downtown??...yeah, whoever dropped the ball on the reporting of this information should backtrack and let it be known now. Details, details.

If this is such a GOOD thing, I find it hard to believe that Hudson would not be touting it from rooftops. Instead it appeared suspicious and mindless...Absolutely it should be spelled out in the paper and on the TV news with interviews not just news blips, several interviews from all the Council and Mayor. pro and con opinions ....for these kind of bucks involved, they should not hesitate to educate all around them of their intentions or issues expected.

Thanks for clarifying, but again here is not enough...

Giant said...

FACTS, you should apparently write for the paper if their turnover is that often that no one knows the history...especially since you are so much more informed than anyone else.....FEE FI FO FUM, I smell a politician! hahaha

Still scary said...

Still, it is frightening for our city to take such a committment of debt at this time of national financial crisis. I would prefer, as a citizen and tax payer, to see more scrutiny and hesitation given to the matter, before agreeing to something that was planned so many years ago, when the economy of Greenville was much stronger than today.

Anonymous said...

fOR CLARIFICATION, THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT SOMEone has tried to cover Hudson's ineptness by transposing the blame back to an administration 5 years ago.

Anonymous said...

This all makes me so tired. Opinions...aren't they like a body part?

wondering said...

Opinions are what blogs are about. Tired? Then why are you here and why do you care to read them?

Just the facts said...

O.K.- I'll try one more time, but this will be about all I'll have to say about this subject.

"Giant," -- No, I'm not a politician. However, since what I've written consists of easily-verifiable,objective facts - not opinion- it really wouldn't matter if I were. After all, I guess even politicians are entitled to rely on facts. Here, try this. Go to the City Clerk's office and ask for a copy of the following, which are all public documents:
(1) Memorandum of Understanding, dated December 16, 2003;
(2) Development Agreement, dated August 4, 2005; and
(3) managment Agreement, also dated August 4, 2005.
You may have to file a public records request - I'm not familiar with the exact procedure - but I doubt if you'll have any difficulty obtaining them, as there's never been any "secrecy" AT ALL about them.

To "Still Scary", I can understand a general feeling of unease about the current state of the national economy - one would have to be a bit unhinged to feel otherwise. However, what I suggest that you've got to remember is that, under the proposal under discussion, the City incurs no liability to do anything until a number of preconditions have occurred (see my first missive). Only if there is a completed casino/convention center complex, as well as substantial additional and COMPLETED investment by the casino, will the city ever be required to do anything. I'm not quite sure what Councilman McGee meant by the "no revenue" statement - maybe he was referring to the question about no particular guaranteed revenue stream from the operations of the Center itself. However, with regard to the larger question of revenues to fund the retirement of the convention center note, one thing is certain -- if there are no ad valorem tax revenues, that would be only because the casino hasn't completely fulfilled its obligations under the MOU and the Development Agreement. If that's the case, the City doesn't have to do anything at all, and has no financial responsibility whatsoever.

To "Anonymous," who wrote at 8:26 a.m. -- I really don't know how to respond to your conspiracy theory that someone - to use your words - is trying "to cover Hudson's ineptitude by transposing the blame back to an administration 5 years ago." As I had previously noted, what I stated was simply a fact -- the proposal has not changed in any significant way since 2003, and both Mayor Artman and Mayor Hudson have actively supported it. I happen to believe (and yes, this IS an opinion) that it's a good proposal with a significnt prospect of providing a benefit to the City and a substantially lower prospect of having an adverse effect. As I stated earlier, I was crediting, not blaming, Mayor Artman.

Look, folks -- none of this may ever happen. There may never be another casino built in Greenville, not to mention a Convention Center, additional
hotel(s) or, for that matter, a water park. If that's the case, then no one need wory -- the city won't owe a penny.

If, however, that's the case, then there'll also be no additional jobs, gaming revenues to the city (hopefully coming more from "visitors" to the Convention Center than from our local people) or ad valorem taxes. Do the math on the taxes.

Finally - and I'm really serious about this - it really would help the overall atmosphere around here if our initial, knee jerk reaction to anything we don't understand, don't agree with or don't have sufficient information about, was something other than sarcasm or allegations of wrongdoing, corruption or stupidity on the part of the person(s) with whom we disagree.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

To: Just the Facts

Thanks for your info and your sage advice.

Concerned Citizen

Anonymous said...

It is a relief to hear the details, but would have been even simpler if these details had been repeated in the recent news of these decisions.

Not everyone gets the paper or reads the paper daily, so TV and radio would help too.

Something as big as this should be shared everywhere possible to be sure the community knows and understands the committments being decided by our Council and Mayor.

If it is a good thing, it should be shouted from the rooftops!

Lord knows we could use some good positive news in this city!

Character counts too! said...

http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/10/07/acorn-vegas-office-raided-voter-fraud-investigation/

Nevada state authorities seized records and computers Tuesday from the Las Vegas office of an organization that tries to get low-income people registered to vote, after fielding complaints of voter fraud.

Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told FOXNews.com the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.

The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote.

"Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/datelinedc/s_488184.html

Barack Obama's closet

By Dateline D.C.
Sunday, January 14, 2007


Our story shifts to Baghdad. Ayham Alsammarae, an American of Iraqi descent who is a Cabinet member and Electricity minister, was jailed and waiting trial on corruption charges. But he escaped jail and claims to be out of Iraq. His whereabouts are unknown. He left with the assistance of "foreigners," according to Iraqi police, who say an earlier escape attempt was assisted by two U.S. security contractors since departed from Iraq.
Alsammarae is a friend of Tony Rezko; the FBI is said to seek information on $2 billion in missing money meant to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.

But back in Chicago, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is more important than Iraq or Washington. ACORN and its associated Midwest Academy, both founded in the 1970s, continue to train and mobilize activists throughout the country, often using them to manipulate public opinion through "direct action." It's sometimes a code for illegal activities.

Prior to law school, Barack Obama worked as an organizer for their affiliates in New York and Chicago. He always has been an ACORN person -- meeting and working with them to advance their causes. Through his membership on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago and his friendship with Teresa Heinz Kerry, Obama has helped ensure that they remain funded well.

Since he graduated from law school, Obama's work with ACORN and the Midwest Academy has ranged from training and fundraising, to legal representation and promoting their work.

Today, Barack Obama's conduct and "misgauging appearances" are the responsibility of his Democrat colleagues. In two years, it might be yours and mine.

Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.

Survey says said...

Question:
MCain or Obama winner of Oct. 7th debate??...and why do you think so?

Anonymous said...

Obama by split decision.
MCain did well early and had a more positive message.
Obama closed well and could clearly separate himself in the issues regarding healthcare and foreign policy that matters to people.

Anonymous said...

since will hunt has moved to n. carolina, will nikki be running stems or will it be closing?

Friend of the family said...

FYI
Long time and well known Greenvillian and St. Joseph Catholic member, Vic Fava, died early this morning from a severe heart attack. He and his wife, Jo Ann were out of town to the Mississippi coast for a car show event. Arrangements are being made now for the funeral, most likely Mortimar funeral home, little other details are available.

Corruption everywhere said...

Publication:IBD;Date:Sep 19, 2008;
Section:Front Page; Page Number:A1
UNCOMMON KNOWLEDGE

Congress Lies Low To Avoid Bailout Blame

Lawmakers fear wrath of voters as cost of crisis soars to $1 tril or more

BY TERRY JONES INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Congress says it likely will adjourn this month having done nothing on the most important issue in America right now: the financial meltdown from the subprime lending crisis.

Can Congress just walk away from a problem it helped create? Maybe, maybe not.

There’s now some talk of a grand deal between the Treasury, the Fed and Congress for a “permanent” solution: creating a government agency to buy up all the bad subprime debt, just like the Resolution Trust Corp. did with bad real estate in the 1980s and 1990s.

Already, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to keep the subprime crisis from crashing the world economy. The collapse of twin mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the failures of Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns and insurer AIG, expose taxpayers to more than $1 trillion in liabilities.

Until now, Congress has been surprisingly passive. As Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, “no one knows what to do” right now.

Funny, since it was a Democratled Congress that helped cause the problems in the first place.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently barked “no” at reporters for daring to ask if Democrats deserved any blame for the meltdown, you saw denial in action.

Pelosi and her followers would have you believe this all happened because of President Bush and his loyal Senate lapdog, John McCain. Or that big, bad predatory Wall Street banks deserve all the blame.

“The American people are not protected from the risk-taking and the greed of these financial institutions,” Pelosi said recently, as she vowed congressional hearings.

Only one problem: It’s untrue.

Yes, banks did overleverage and take risks they shouldn’t have.

But the fact is, President Bush in 2003 tried desperately to stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from metastasizing into the problem they have since become.

Here’s the lead of a New York Times story on Sept. 11, 2003: “The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.”

Bush tried to act. Who stopped him? Congress, especially Democrats with their deep financial and patronage ties to the two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie.

“These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Rep. Barney Frank, then ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” It’s pretty clear who was on the right side of that debate. As for presidential contender John McCain, just two years after Bush’s plan, McCain also called for badly needed reforms to prevent a crisis like the one we’re now in.

“If Congress does not act,” McCain said in 2005, “American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.”

Sounds like McCain was spot on.

But his warnings, too, were ignored by Congress.

To hear today’s Democrats, you’d think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.

These well-intended rules were supercharged in the early 1990s by President Clinton. Despite warnings from GOP members of Congress in 1992, Clinton pushed extensive changes to the rules requiring lenders to make questionable loans.

Lenders who refused would find themselves castigated publicly as racists. As noted this week in an IBD editorial, no fewer than four federal bank regulators scrutinized financial firms’ books to make sure they were in compliance.

Failure to comply meant your bank might not be allowed to expand lending, add new branches or merge with other companies. Banks were given a so-called “CRA rating” that graded how diverse their lending portfolio was.

It was economic hardball.

“We have to use every means at our disposal to end discrimination and to end it as quickly as possible,” Clinton’s comptroller of the currency, Eugene Ludwig, told the Senate Banking Committee in 1993.

And they meant it.

In the name of diversity, banks began making huge numbers of loans that they previously would not have. They opened branches in poor areas to lift their CRA ratings.

Meanwhile, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie the go-ahead to finance it all by buying loans from banks, then repackaging and securitizing them for resale on the open market.

That’s how the contagion began.

With those changes, the subprime market took off. From a mere $35 billion in loans in 1994, it soared to $1 trillion by 2008.

Wall Street eagerly sold the new mortgage-backed securities. Not only were they pooled investments, mixing good and bad, but they were backed with the implicit guarantee of government.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew to become monsters, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. mortgage loans. At the time of their bailouts this month, they held $5.4 trillion in loans on their books. About $1.4 trillion of those were subprime.

As they grew, Fannie and Freddie grew heavily involved in “community development,” giving money to local housing rights groups and “empowering” the groups, such as ACORN, for whom Barack Obama once worked in Chicago.

Warning signals were everywhere. Yet at every turn, Democrats in Congress halted attempts to stop the madness. It happened in 1992, again in 2000, in 2003 and in 2005. It may happen this year, too.

Since 1989, Fannie and Freddie have spent an estimated $140 million on lobbying Washington. They contributed millions to politicians, mostly Democrats, including Senator Chris Dodd (No. 1 recipient) and Barack Obama (No. 3 recipient, despite only three years in office).

The Clinton White House used Fannie and Freddie as a patronage job bank. Former executives and board members read like a who’s who of the Clinton-era Democratic Party, including Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, Jim Johnson and current Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

Collectively, they and others made well more than $100 million from Fannie and Freddie, whose books were cooked Enron-style during the late 1990s and early 2000s to ensure executives got their massive bonuses.

They got the bonuses. You get the bill.

Anonymous said...

This happened in Greenwood Walmart: Sunday afternoon I thought I would check out the Halloween outfits for the grandkids. I was deciding between two shirts when two black boys came beside me. One stayed behind and the other walked past talking about not knowing what size shoes his baby wore and having to call and find out. When he came back by, he grabbed my wallet from the crook of my arm and took off running. I took off after them hollering to the top of my lungs. I knew they were probably headed to the exit, but I did lose them when I got to the front entrance. I was on the pay phone outside talking to the police when the one who actually took my wallet came out looking for his car. I told the dispatcher 'He just came out, and I going after him!'
someone heard me hollering again in the parking lot and spotted the boy getting into a car. He stood by the car until I got there. There were 3 boys, the boy's mother and some other girl in the car. Of course, they denied taking the wallet, but I knew it was the one in the orange shirt. That same boy threatened to shoot the person if he didn't move. They all got out of the car and by then Walmart's management was there. They told them to just stay put because the police were on their way. They began to walk back to the store, and we heard one of them say 'It's gone, just get in the car.' They jumped back into the car and sped off about the time the police came up.
In the meantime, another associate found my wallet among some clothes. The little over $40 I had in cash was all that was missing. When the police brought the carload of thugs back, the mother kept wanting to just give me the missing money and let her baby go, that he was sorry. I told her to forget it.
At the police station I found out he is a 15 year old Indianola resident, father of one, and an alternative school student. Sounds like he's on the road to being a model citizen. He will have to face Kevin Adams, the new Youth Court Judge who I understand doesn't play.

Anonymous said...

very interesting walmart story.

Anonymous said...

They will slap him on the hand and send him on his way.

Let us know what happens to him.

criminal parents should be first arrested! said...

Him?? How about Mom and the others involved? Sounds like the pack was traveling together on their crime spree and Mom was driving the get-a-way car.

I call that aiding, abetting and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as well as accessory! She most of all should have been arrested!

With the cops giving her chase, seems like that alone should have gotten her some time in the jail!!!

So where did this ball get dropped? The police or the laws? Either way, sounds like the kid and others may have to wait to do a bigger job, get caught and learn the hard lesson that crime does not pay....till then...it does.

Anonymous said...

amen!!!!!