November 30, 2007

100th Post! - Commuter Tax in Johnstown

As I celebrate my 100th post here at Doe Valley, I thought I would get back to the local roots of the area. So here goes.

How does a city try to encourage business growth and attract more workers to the area?

Answer (according to Johnstown City Council):
Add a commuter tax to fund the deficiencies with the city government.

The city of Johnstown, PA passed a commuter tax that will tack effect January 1st. The tax will be 0.2% for those employees that work in the city, but live outside the city.

When I worked in Johnstown in 2001, they had a similar commuter tax. At the end of the year when I filed my taxes, I included a nice little note making suggestions about how NOT to spend my tax money. I never did get a response back from them.

I question the legality of any commuter type tax. Why? Remember the Boston Tea party? It is taxation without representation. Since the people who are taxed (the commuters) do not live in the city, they have no authority to vote for those elected officials. Therefore, they are being taxed, but have no say in the governing process.

Not surprisingly, the vote was 9-0 in favor of the commuter tax. Why? Because it doesn’t effect them! Note: the council did vote to raise the income tax of the residents as well.

When will the government learn, you cannot tax, borrow, and spend your way to grow. Growth comes by reducing/removing the barriers for employers and homeowners.

November 29, 2007

Strike, Strike, Strike.

No, not baseball season. It’s the unions. The Broadway stagehands union is fighting over work rules and staffing requirements. The TV writers union wants more money from the sales of DVD and Internet viewing. (Of course, Jay Leno and David Letterman make over $500,000 per week! Yes, that is correct, over half a million dollars per week! Can you imagine that? My lifetime earnings are not even close to $500,000!)

You know what? Baseball used to be real popular too. Then the players went on strike (1994) and in my opinion baseball has never recovered from that. They lost a lot of fans. Now, the teams simply charge more and most stadiums are half empty or worse for each game.

What’s the point? I think the unions have lost sight of the reason for strikes. A strike should be used to protest the conditions of work, not just to get something you want or you feel you deserve. We live in America, the land of the free. If you don’t like your job or you feel you are being mistreated, then find a new one.

To the Stagehand union and Broadway Producers: There is no “magic” formula for determining how many people are needed to setup, tear down, or maintain a show. Everyone needs to work hard and be paid a fair wage for the services performed. (It sounds like they may have reached a deal though.)

To the Writers union and TV Producers/Actors: Believe it or not, American’s will survive without their TV shows. Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot like the baseball league did.

Remember, by striking the union people are not the only ones losing money. It turns fans away. Other businesses rely on those jobs and industries functioning normally. There are other non-union workers who want to work right now, but cannot because the unions are on strike.

November 28, 2007

Heading to New York City!

We are planning a trip to New York City. I decided to take a break from my busy schedule and do a little trip planning. I went to the website to assist with the preparation. Here are a few of the things that will be happening while we are up there during the Christmas season.

  • The 75th Radio City Christmas Spectacular – fireworks, snow, Santa Claus, and the Rockettes.
  • Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo – animal themed lights
  • Rockefeller Center – 30,000 lights on the landmark tree
  • World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah – 32 feet high, gold colored steel
  • Red Hot Stomp – New Orleans infused Holiday performance includes seasonal story telling
  • The Christmas Revels – celebrate the winter solstice
  • A Christmas Carol – displaying Dickens original manuscript and other items
  • Hanukkah Festival – menorah making, storytelling, music, and food
  • Kwanzaa - celebrate with African dance, music and crafts.

Hmmm… Not much about Christmas! But I guess that should be expected from a website that has its own Gay and Lesbian section.

There is plenty to do in the Big Apple, so I am sure we will have a great time. We had no plans to see any Broadway shows even before the stagehands decided to strike, maybe there won’t be as many crowds for us.

November 27, 2007

Another Book Review

Having 5 consecutive days off over Thanksgiving enabled me to catch up on my reading, so everyone is getting another book review today!

The book I finished was more of a study than a reading book. The book is “A Minister Everyone Would Respect: A Study of 2 Corinthians 8-13” by Charles Swindoll.

The book is a modified version of Swindoll’s sermons on 2 Corinthians. The editor simply took Swindoll’s transcripts and made it into a study guide with some questions at the end of each chapter.

This is one study book you can probably skip over. The questions were mostly personal reflection questions and would probably not be real good for group study.

November 21, 2007

Book Review

God in the Manger, by John MacArthur, is part of the “Bible for Life” series of study books. This book is about 200 pages, but is an easy, fast read.

I finished this book a couple of days ago. It is a good read for anyone interested in studying the birth of Christ. It provides details about the significance and meaning of the events surrounding the birth. From the announcement straight through to the actual birth and those that were there and those that missed the birth. Drawing from Hebrews chapter 1, the book finishes with a view of the birth from God’s perspective.

Each chapter has its own set of questions at the end of the book to reinforce the material presented. This would be a great book for someone interested in a Christmas study.

November 14, 2007

Global warming a fraud?

As my regular readers know my thoughts about Global Warming, I wanted to share a link to someone else's opinion.

John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel, has called Global Warming, "the greatest scam in history" on his blog.

What he says makes sense. If you look at the daily temperature records for your area, you will see that there are wide swings. For example, yesterday in Johnstown, the record high temperature was 71 degrees. The record low temperature was 11 degrees. The actual high and low temperatures yesterday were 61 and 39 degrees respectivly. I used the accuweather website for this information.

The US is going to look pretty foolish, wasting a bunch of money on something that doesn't exist. Furthermore, we can't control the weather. This is plain and simple a political matter, just another way for Congressmen to scare people into getting money for their pet projects to get them reelected. That being said, we do need to have the proper stewardship of our environment, but Global Warming (as we know it) won't be the end of the world. There is another plan for that!

November 13, 2007

Election Results

The 2007 Pennsylvania Municipal elections are complete and the results are in.

(Unfortunately) All of the judges were retained. Usually these judges are retained with 80%-90% of the votes. This time they were retained with only around 66%. About 1/3 of the voters wanted to get rid of these judges for some bad decision that were made over the previous months and years.

The two underdog Supreme Court Justices were (narrowly) defeated.

It looks like two of the three recommended Judges for the Superior court won (Allen and Shogan). This was another close race.

Ruddock also won a seat as County Commissioner.

The elections are over for another year. The races were close and it proves that every vote does indeed count! Taxpayers need to remember that we vote for these people. So if you didn’t vote, then no crying and complaining about the status of our county, state, or country!

November 08, 2007

Walk with the King Today!

I finished the book “Walk with the King Today” by Robert A. Cook. This is an older book (1978), but still provided some excellent insight into living a Christian life.

The book is divided into three sections: The Spiritual Walk, the Personal Walk, and the Family Walk. Each section provides practical biblical ways of living. True to Dr. Cook’s form, he adds many stories and examples from his own life. For more information about the late Dr. Cook, visit his web site.

The final section (The Family Walk) provides several simple, yet effective ways for a Christian family to live. The titles of the chapters are a great summary of what you find further explained in the chapter (tell the truth, fall in love all over again, learn to pray, make your home definitively Christian, and specializing in service).

Dr. Cook also has a Chapter on the United States of America titled USA: Rejoice, Repent, Resolve! In it, he discusses the disappearance of patriotism, the rise of materialism, and the weakening of our national values. Here is a quote from page 203, “The problem with America today is not so much that she is against God; she has simply forgotten Him, ruled Him out of her national life.” That sure sounds a lot like what is happening today and this book was wrote almost 30 years ago.

I would recommend reading this book even though it is a bit dated, the material and insight it provides is still applicable to today’s society. If only we all would “Walk with the King” everyday, America would be a great nation again.

November 07, 2007

Look who's famous (again)!

I received the December 2007 issue of Kiplinger's magazine yesterday. Upon turning to the "Letters" page, you will see a letter from yours truly!

I sent them a letter regarding their "Green Issue" a few months ago. In fact, last month the editor mentioned my letter to him in his opening statement, but did not mention my name. I called their Green Issue the worst issue ever and he responded otherwise.

This month they printed another part of my letter expressing my disappointment with the entire Green Issue.

Strongstown is on the map.

November 06, 2007

Crystal Meth for our Kids?

The recent news (rumor) around the Internet as well as other media sources is regarding Crystal Meth that is being given to children. This form of Crystal Meth looks like pop rocks candy. You may have received this type of e-mail. Here is a brief review of one that was sent to me.
A very scary thing is going on in the schools right now. There is a type of crystal meth going around that looks like strawberry pop rocks. It smells like strawberry also and it is being handed out to kids in school yards in AR.
I'm sure it will make its way around the country. Kids are ingesting this thinking it is candy and being rushed off to the ER in dire condition. It also comes in chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry, grape and orange. It looks just like pop rocks. Please instruct children to not accept candy that looks like this even from a friend and to take any that they may have to a teacher, principal, etc.


Included was a photo that looked like a nice sized sandwich bag of this “Crystal Meth”.

Is it true? I guess it is possible. However, you need to keep in mind that an once of Crystal Meth may cost $1000 or more!

Are drug dealers just giving $1000 worth of drugs away to kids? Maybe… Crystal Meth is cheap to make. A cheapskate could purchase the items for about $150 and turn that into about $10,000 worth of drugs. Unfortunately, if kids eat this much Crystal Meth, they will probably not get addicted to it, they will probably be dead. So there is no “market” advantage to giving away the drugs to children to get them hooked on it and coming back to buy more.

I think the thing to remember is to teach your children about the dangers of drugs and about dealing with strangers.

November 05, 2007

Johnstown really is John’s Town!

There was a lengthy article about John Murtha in the October 30, 2007, page A1 Wall Street Journal. I highly recommend all people and organizations from the Johnstown area read this article. What the article states is indeed true.

Murtha agrees, he went to Washington to bring Federal dollars to Johnstown. Here’s an idea: why not just cut taxes and leave the dollars in Johnstown!

Whatever your personal opinion of Murtha is, the majority of this money will be gone when he is no longer in office. He is 75 years old, so we know his time in Washington will be limited by nature, if not by the voters.

Therefore, I urge the people and the organizations of Johnstown to act more responsibly and to operate as if they were not receiving federal money, because one day that money will be gone.

It remains to be seen whether or not the mentality of Johnstown can change and accept the responsibility of working and being profitable on their own rather than simply relying on funding from the rest of the country.

For those who missed the Wall Street Journal article the other day here is a link to it.

November 02, 2007

Municipal Elections

Next Tuesday, November 6, 2007 will be the Municipal Elections for Pennsylvania.

There are 6 judges up for retention (3 for the Supreme Court and 3 for the Commonwealth Court), 5 of those judges will not be able to serve their entire 10-year term due to required retirement at age 70.

Right off the top, I recommend voting NO for the 3 Supreme Court judges. Why? Various reasons, but one is because they voted to keep their pay raises rather than return them in 2004. Get rid of them and let’s get the right people in the judicial system. So, vote NO for Saylor, Musmanno, and Stevens.

As for the Commonwealth Court retentions, an activist brought a suit against the pay raises for the legislators and judges. The Commonwealth Court dismissed that case. So, vote NO to retain those 3 as well. So, vote NO for Leadbetter, McGinley, Smith-Ribner.

For the Supreme Court – vote for the underdogs, which appear to be the two republicans.

For the Superior Court – Jackie Shogan and Cheryl Allen for sure, Bruce Bratton for the final choice.

Indiana County Commissioners – Ruddock

For the rest of the choices, pick the challenger. Look for an update next week to see how the election turned out.

November 01, 2007

Letter to Rep. Dave Reed

Below is a message that was sent to my local state representative, Dave Reed. The message was sent to make him aware of a piece of property tax legislation that is looking for sponsors and will be introduced into the House soon.

I am writing to encourage you to support and even co-sponsor Rep. Sam Rohrer’s School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007. This Act sounds like a promising way to eliminate the property tax system which is hurting Pennsylvanian’s.

Furthermore, I do not support HB1600, which sounds like Act 1 and simply shifts money around without providing any real relief to homeowners. Act 1 was rejected by the voters in May. We want something different to eliminate Property Taxes, while still maintaining adequate funding for our School Districts.

It is a challenge, but I think Rep. Rohrer’s bill is on the right track. Please monitor this closely for the taxpayers of your district.

Thank you