Just say no to a Property Tax

Reg Monachino | Cave Creek

The Citizens Advisory Committee On Fire Coverage Options For The Town of Cave Creek has recently presented its findings to Town Council. As Vice Chairman and Committee member of the Fire Options Committee, I compliment Committee Chairman Jim Bruce for his hard work and leadership. I thank the Town manager for his efforts in acquiring speakers, arranging for presentations, documents and agreements, all to facilitate the work of the committee. The Committee worked hard and has made several good recommendations.

There is one recommendation however that I cannot support and that is the one regarding a property tax.

In a rush to judgment, proponents of change suggest a property tax would fix everything.
It has been proposed that if we don’t do something right away, Rural Metro will leave as only 50% of the properties in town currently subscribe to their service. This is the fear approach to marketing so prevalent in our society today. Instead of a property tax, I suggest the Town initiate a series of discussions with Rural Metro concerning different marketing strategies to increase subscriptions.

A property tax is a particularly insidious approach to funding. If we went down that slippery slope for fire coverage how far behind would there be a requested tax for police protection and street lighting and parks and recreation and garbage collection, etc. Proponents of the tax argue that we already have a property tax. To that I say, do not confuse a property tax for fire coverage with that of wanting to preserve a wilderness area in Spur Cross. Sure over 70% of the town’s citizens voted to tax themselves, but they did so to preserve a unique lifestyle and the character of the town. A property tax for something 50% of the citizens do not want is another matter. It is disingenuous to institute a “fire tax” and disguise it as a continuation of the Spur Cross tax.

There is no question the Town will need expanded fire coverage post annexation and the subsequent development of the west side of town. That need however is five to fifteen years in the future. In that time period I suggest the town can establish a long range Fire Coverage Improvement Plan through the annual budget process by setting up and contributing to a reserve fund each year until we have sufficient monies to make a fiscally sound choice for fire coverage. Contributions to the “Fire Fund” will of course vary year to year and saving money each year from the general revenues will burden no one. It’s the tried and true policy of pay as you go.

The town could also begin to identify and set aside land that it already owns or will acquire that would accommodate new fire stations. And finally, when development fees return to a more normal level they should be used to pay for construction of the fire stations – not property taxes.

The issue of town fire protection requires a long-term solution. We have time to fund universal fire coverage for Cave Creek – let’s use the time wisely.

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Greed and excess in major sports

Ray Torres | Scottsdale

Wall Street did not invent greed and excess with hefty bonuses and salaries, major sports did. While Lehman Bros. and other such investment bankers disappeared in a couple of months this year, after decades financing significant business deals, don’t expect major sports to file for bankruptcy, protection any time soon.

With a billion dollar new stadium under construction and nearly 1/2 billion dollars in salaries for three players recently announced by the Yankees, whose the real king of greed and excess? Not Wall Street. With the U.S. economy on a disastrous path to surpass historical indices set by the great depression, I wonder how many Yankee fans will remain loyal as they lose their homes and jobs. People, let’s not just blame Wall Street, you only have to look at our national expensive past-time fever – major sports.

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Conservationists Petition for Modern Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Plan

Michael J. Robinson | Pinos Altos, New Mexico

Conservationists filed a formal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling on the agency to revise the outdated and legally invalid Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. The petition was filed under authority of the federal Administrative Procedures Act, which requires the government to consider and, if appropriate, to act in a timely fashion on petitions that seek to better implement existing legal obligations. Amendments to the Endangered Species Act in 1988 established content standards for recovery plans not met in the 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan.

A new, up-to-date recovery plan is necessary to ensure the future recovery of Mexican wolves within their historic range. The 1982 plan called for breeding Mexican wolves in captivity and establishing at least two viable populations through reintroduction, including enabling the first reintroduced population to reach at least 100 animals.

The 1982 plan provides antiquated guidance in managing reintroduced Mexican wolves, and does not include benchmarks for downlisting the species to threatened status nor for removing it from federal protection. These shortcomings have enabled a highly politicized Fish and Wildlife Service to avoid taking steps to grow the population, which in a count taken at the beginning of this year stood at 52 animals and just three breeding pairs.

“It’s time to free the lobo from the shackles of an antiquated recovery plan,” said Rob Edward, director of carnivore recovery for WildEarth Guardians. A revised recovery plan should be completed before revisions to policies governing the reintroduction project are completed, Edward said. “It’s a fool’s errand to base new policies on a plan that has been gathering dust for over two decades,” he said. “We’re managing these rare wolves based on a plan written before the advent of the personal computer.”

A previous Mexican Wolf Recovery Team completed a working draft of a new recovery plan in 1996, but the federal agency never approved it. In 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would revise the existing recovery plan, but did not do so. In 2003, the agency appointed a new recovery team, which was on track to complete an updated plan in 2005. In March 2005, the agency’s regional director, H. Dale Hall – now the national director of the agency – suspended meetings of the team.

Dave Parsons, formerly the Mexican wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service and now the carnivore conservation biologist for The Rewilding Institute, drove home the imperative of revising the recovery plan. “At the end of 2007, 26 years after adoption of a recovery plan and nearly 11 years following initial reintroductions, the total wild population of Mexican wolves is far short of reintroduction goals. We could lose the lobo in the wild for a second time if my former agency doesn’t get serious about recovery.”

“Recovery is the goal of the Endangered Species Act, and recovery plans are road maps showing how to get there,” said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “A recovery plan without recovery criteria is the equivalent of a map showing a flat Earth with edges dropping off. North America’s most imperiled mammal deserves the benefits of 21st century science.”
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Americans will be more vulnerable to rights violations if domestic troops are deployed

Andrew Davis | Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party National Chairman William Redpath calls a plan by the federal government to deploy 20,000 uniformed soldiers inside the United States "further evidence of a disturbing trend of militarism in today's society."

According to reports from the Washington Post, the federal government seeks to establish an emergency response team built on the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, which just returned from more than a year in Iraq.

"This is not the proper role of active-duty soldiers, who have been trained and seasoned in combat," says Redpath. "When you have active-duty soldiers being substituted for National Guardsmen, you're opening yourselves up to potential violations of civil liberties during their operations. American soldiers, the finest instruments of war in the world, do not need to be patrolling the streets of American towns after hurricanes or floods. That is not their purpose as soldiers."

"We've seen countless examples in modern history of how an atmosphere of militarism during a time of crisis can lead to an excessive use of force and widespread violations of even basic Constitutional protections," Redpath continues. "Inserting trained combat troops into these situations is an invitation for disaster."

"If there needs to be an emergency response team that can assist and supplement local emergency responders, it should be comprised of National Guardsmen—not active-duty soldiers," says Redpath. "The use of active-duty soldiers instead of National Guardsmen puts undue tension on an already strained military during a time of war."

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Ten dollar holiday challenge

Angie Jestila | Cave Creek

Dear Animal Rescue supporters,
We have all, at some point, wished we could leave our 'day jobs' and devote all our time to helping animals. Carrie Singer is living that dream, having recently bought a classic example of a fix-up property in Cave Creek with plenty of room to build a paradise for animals in need.

You may have heard about Carrie and her Animal Guardian Network's community outreach programs. I'm sending this on behalf of the Animal Guardian Network (AGN) to issue a 'Holiday Challenge.' I'm asking you to give ten dollars to help this great cause. More would be great, but I'm only asking for $10.

I'm also asking you to send this email on and ask nine of your animal loving friends to also give $10 each. Hence the name of the challenge: Ten from 10 = $100. We've all seen the power of networking this year as we work to help animals in need. How many wonderful rescue stories have there been, thanks to the strength of numbers as our network has grown?

Maybe skip a lunch out, buy a generic something-or-other instead of the brand name, wait for the paperback version of the latest best-seller. Watch what we can do if we pass the request on to others and ask them to do the same. This is something we can do without even leaving our keyboards.

Here are some examples of AGN outreach programs, and some of the plans in the works:
Medical Care Assistance for Pets: Provided through cooperating vets to financially disadvantaged individuals and low-income seniors with pets requiring veterinary attention.
Goal: To acquire a cargo van so we can increase the locations and frequency of our clinics. We want ultimately to have the ability to perform spay and neuter surgery in rural areas which are in desperate need of assistance.

Feed in Need Program: AGN provides pet food for pets of financially disadvantaged individuals and low-income seniors. Food is distributed at food banks, community centers and upon request.

The purpose of both of these programs is to keep pets in their loving homes, and to help reduce the number of pets who are euthanized every day. Being financially disadvantaged is not synonymous with an inability to provide a good home. This is an opportunity for us to make a difference in the life of an animal lover in need by lending a helping hand.

Rescue & Adoption: AGN rescues dogs from various situations but primarily from the e-list at County. All veterinary care is provided prior to making the dogs available for adoption.
Networking & Support of other rescue groups to fulfull various needs: AGN is highly regarded by the rescue community for our willingness & far-reaching ability to help in the majority of situations. Our e-mail network has also become one of the largest in the humane community.

To make your donation online, go to the Animal Guardian Website: www.animalguardiannetwork.org/Home_Page.html and click on the Donate tab at the left.

Or you can mail a check to Animal Guardian Network, 4815 E. Carefree Hwy., Ste. 108-504, Cave Creek, AZ 85331.

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Sorcerer's Apprentice caught with pants down

Clarice Feldman | American Thinker

A particularly egregious and obvious error seems to have finally outed Al Gore's Merlin, NASA's Dr. James Hansen:

... [a] surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever." In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs – run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph – GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic – in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 percent more extensive than at the same time last year.

It's not the first time either that his "records" fail any test of accuracy and that he's tap danced away from any notion of being accountable for his errors.

Bruce Thompson writes: Now is the time for President Bush to bring the debate on global warming out into the open by firing James Hansen of GISS. There certainly is cause for firing him. And since the GISS data has been the primary data source for the global warming alarmists, publicizing the unreliability of their data is crucial to defeating carbon taxes.

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In Defense of the Indefensible

Ed Taylor | Glendale

"In Defense of the Indefensible." Twice. I have but one comment: HUH?!!

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