Tag Archives: Jim Kenney

Pop Fizz Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.

Related:

Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”

Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:

[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.

And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??

Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.

[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.

Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.

According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.

How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.

MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.

While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.

Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.

[…]

After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.

Read more here:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/residents-of-philadelphia-found-a-novel-way-around-the-citys-unpopular-soda-tax-2019-01-11

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3302335

*

The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”

Newsom and ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle

California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/2/15/18224717/california-high-speed-rail-canceled

Also,

[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.

Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?

“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.

Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)

“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”

[our emphasis]

Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only
complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.

No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.

Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”

*

The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,

Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.

[our emphasis]

According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6788865/Philadelphia-city-ban-discriminatory-cashless-stores.html

https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/21/inside-amazons-surveillance-powered-no-checkout-convenience-store/

https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Gavin-Newsom-Sacramento-Fair-Oaks-home-13556456.php#photo-16816028

https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickgleason/2018/12/14/jerry-brown-leaves-california-with-100b-train-debt-as-texas-pursues-its-own-rail-boondoggle/#7bbfc012b65d

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-gavin-newsom-high-speed-rail-train-scale-back_us_5c632372e4b0a8731aeae3d0

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/politics/california-high-speed-rail-cancel-grant/index.html

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-high-speed-rail-20190219-story.html

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/dont-do-it-gavin-newsom

Taxing Times in Chicago

Chicago Hikes Property Taxes to Pay for Pensions; Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Overpays $2,800,000

Emanuel to CPS teachers: 'Be part of the solution'

Former Sarah Lawrence ballerina Rahm Emanuel hiked property taxes last month to plug a $318,000,000 hole in Chicago finances, including police and fire pensions.

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios speaks during the Cook County Democratic Party meeting to reconsider making an endorsement in the race at the party's headquarters downtown, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Apparently, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios (above) raised some property values this year, increasing the amount Windy City residents must pay in tribute to their thug government. For the children.

Of note, the Chicago Sun-Times found via a watchdog on July 30 that several of the city’s “aldermen” (representatives) got property tax discounts, even as 75% of property owners paid more:

Eighteen of the city’s 50 aldermen — including Ald. Patrick O’Connor, the mayor’s City Council floor leader who rounded up the votes to pass the tax increase last fall — staved off the hefty tax hikes, shifting a total of $19,484 in taxes to other property owners. Those aldermen, including several whose wards have seen real estate prices skyrocket, did that by convincing Berrios or the Cook County Board of Review to lower the estimated value of their homes or apartments.

Five of those aldermen — including four who voted against the tax hike — owe less than they did last year, even as most of their constituents pay more, the Sun-Times found in an analysis of the 882,965 tax bills sent to Chicago landowners.

Nicholas Sposato, alderman of 38th ward (here the constituent “wards of the state” pay for their overlord politicians, in a counter-intuitive bit of vernacular) was set to endure a $1,371 tax hike this year. However, he appealed to assessor Berrios, and will pay $377 less than last year instead.

Sun-Times notes: more than 70 percent of taxpayers in [Sposato’s] ward saw [property tax] increases averaging $211.

Sposato is a Chicago firefighter and beneficiary of the very pension the property tax hike is set to replenish. He reportedly told Sun-Times:

“I didn’t vote for [the tax increase] just so my constituents could pay more taxes. We have an obligation to pay these pensions.”

Aldeman Proco Joe Moreno of the 1st ward must have slept with Berrios’ sister or something, because his “booming, hipster neighborhood,” according to the Sun-Times analysis, saw an average hike of $1,233 per property.

The tax on Moreno’s own two-story Wicker Park pad more than doubled to $19,833, an increase of $10,680. Berrios had deemed the property worth $518,980 in 2013, but this year it’s a cool $1.1 million.

“While I was anticipating an increase in my property taxes this year, I was not expecting that the county assessor’s decision would be to more than double the assessed value of my home and, more importantly, the homes of many others in my ward,” Moreno says. “I think it may be time to revisit the fairness of the appraisal system.”

Berrios evaluates Cook County, IL properties once every three years.

Some winners in the whole situation were identified by Sun-Times:

Eighteen other aldermen — including 11 who voted against Emanuel’s tax increase — successfully appealed assessments on their homes or other property, winning reductions that kept their taxes from rising a collective $25,750, the Sun-Times found. The savings ranged from $448 on the Lake View condo owned by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to $3,952 on the Kenwood home of Ald. Sophia King (4th). Tunney voted for the mayor’s tax hike. King wasn’t appointed by Emanuel to fill a City Council vacancy until after the tax hike passed.

(We are again assuming deduction or some other Government trickery that moved $19,484 to other, less-connected Chicagoans but ended up saving the opportunistic aldermen and women $25,750. It’s like the Federal Government multiplier in economics over here!)

O’Connor, who rammed through the tax increase last fall, has a story worth examining as well. He challenged the $645,680 assessment Berrios handed down on O’Connor’s home–an increase of 14.3% from 2013. The Board of Review lowered the home value to %596,360, and O’Connor saved $904 in taxes. It’s only money.

Without the assessment cuts, O’Connor’s tax bill would have been $11,356 — about $1,359 more than last year. Instead, it ended up being $10,447 — up about $450 over last year, while 69 percent of the taxpayers in his ward were hit with tax increases averaging $719.

Alderman Brian Hopkins cashed out on a condo in June, selling after saving $475 in a Berrios-authorized reduction.

“Sooner or later, the perception is going to be that the property taxes are too high, and people may leave,” Hopkins says. “But where are you going to go? Taxes are even higher in the suburbs.”

*

Meanwhile Juan Perez, Jr. has a nice little nugget out today at Sun-Times on President Obama’s crooked adopted hometown:

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund overpaid retirees nearly $2.8 million in recent years because of a misinterpretation of state law, fund officials said.

Over 25% of the money has reportedly been returned. Progress!

A “2012 policy change” led the Teachers Pension Fund to pay out to 234 retirees before they actually retired. Sun-Times credits Better Government Association with noticing.

(The “spend what you don’t have and bill the taxpayers” government practice is hardly new. As we have previously reported, head thug in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney, “garnered criticism from local and national economic commentators when he proposed bonus pension payments, distributing funds when pension plans exceed target returns in any given year even though solvency depends on the excess funds to balance underperforming years,” according to Wikipedia.

Mr. Kenney is currently overseeing six months of spending his new sugared-beverage tax…before the tax begins to be confiscated from beverage distributors January 1.)

Philly Me Up…Philadelphia Beverage Distributors to be Taxed by the Ounce “For the Children”

The Chicago pension fund in question, meanwhile, overpaid around $12,000 per retiree. 20 of the 234 got between $32,000 and $217,000 more than owed. Bill the taxpayers.

Jay Rehak

“As fiduciaries of the Fund, the Board cannot ignore its larger responsibilities and we will work to recover all monies as quickly as possible,” said pension fund board President Jay Rehak (above, left) who was the fund’s interim executive director when the error was discovered.

For more information, contact:

jjperez@tribpub.com

This article was updated 5:30 PM on 8/16 for proofreading and clarification.

[All emphasis is ours.]

Thanks to our sources:

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs-18-aldermen-avoid-hefty-property-tax-hikes-5-pay-less/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-teacher-pension-payment-error-met-20160815-story.html

Philly Me Up…Philadelphia Beverage Distributors to be Taxed by the Ounce “For the Children”

“Headline” changed 6/18. Original post continues below

Philadelphia Passes Soda Tax

As we reported previously Philadelphia is shaking up the beverage market by causing sales to flatten. The Philly City Council approved a 1.5 cent per ounce tax to sugary and diet sodas this afternoon.

According to Associated Press, a major drawback of such government-fueling proposals that have failed in 30 cities and states is that poor people, who buy more soda than the wealthy, will be disproportionately effected (which the Council must think is only fair, given the disproportional allotment of body fat in poor and working-class people in the general population).

Many residents seem pleased by the decision, which will make a 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi cost $0.30 more (unless beverage distributors [PUN ALERT] swallow the tax loss and sell the soda at artificially sweetened lower prices to protect their consumers…of course if they were that generous they probably wouldn’t be in the market of pushing liquid diabetes on children).

Every woman in the campaign shot above is ecstatic. Except the one on the far right so busy texting she’s holding her sign upside down. Maybe she can’t see anything because she has retinal vessel damage from diabetes.

Thanks to the tireless advocacy of educators, parents, rec center volunteers and so many others, Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighborhoods and in our education system today,” Philly Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said in a statement.

Kenney plans to spend most of the estimated $90,000,000 confiscated from the public to pay for “prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers.”

Maybe we could tax gambling and cigarettes to build other healthy stuff.

The tax passed 13-4 on the council. Millions of dollars were spent on both sides of the debate. The ABA apparently ran negative ads, while former NYC Mayor and current 8th-richest person in the world Michael Bloomberg bought up positive advertising.

The tax passed today is a regressive tax that unfairly singles out beverages, including low- and no-calorie choices,” the American Beverage Association said in a statement.

Harold Honickman, of the ABA, plans to file a suit against the tax as soon as this weekend.

According to AP, 68 percent of adults and 41 percent of children in Philadelphia are overweight or obese. (The former statistic mirrors the U.S. population in general.)

If a poor person buys one 20-ounce (standard vending machine size) soda daily, she will spend only $109.50 more over the next year. That’s pocket change!

A couple morbidly obese elephants in the room, little details the taxpayers will not like, are note in the AP report.

The tax won’t start getting collected until Jan. 1, but it will enter into the fiscal budget July 1.

This means the city will begin spending the money six months before they collect it. For the children.

Some of the money raised by the tax will go to pay for city employee benefits and pet projects of council members and to build up municipal provide budget reserves.

AP notes that the kids got in on the action with propaganda signs:

Groups of pre-K students clustered outside City Hall on Thursday doing geyser experiments with soda and Mentos, and they gathered in the hallway near chambers with headbands reading “Pre-K rocks!”

It is unclear what is in the bottle of the girl all the way on the left. Maybe apple juice.

As a reminder, Hillary Clinton campaigned with Mayor Kenney two months ago, and was inspired by his plan:

“I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids,” she said. “We need universal preschool and if that’s a way to do it, that’s how we should do it.”

Thanks to our source:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/philadelphia-set-ok-soda-tax-despite-industry-opposition-045527953.html?ref=gs