Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

December 14, 2010

What is the Scariest thing about the Northwest Avenue Bike Lane Project?

carlaneWe all know that the City of Bellingham is considering doing away with parking in favor of bike lanes along portions of Northwest Avenue.  Whenever I hear about projects I think dollar signs and that is pretty scary since much of the money for these Bellingham projects comes from sources other than the Bellingham.  Sources like taxes you pay to the County, State and Federal government whether you live in Bellingham or not.

Yes, the same Federal Government that is running a deficit, is digging an even deeper hole funding do good projects in Bellingham and to be fair also in every other city, county, and state in our nation.    Anyone driven through the new roundabout in Blaine?  Well give it a whirl and as you’re going round and round about think about the $13.2 million that was added to the Federal Deficit.  Oh, and if you go round more than once think about the other 119 roundabouts round our state that the WSDOT is so full of pride about.  I’ve not investigated the cost and funding of every roundabout.  However to better orient yourself to the magnitude of the issue, consider that $13.2 million x 120 = $1.6 billion which is a lot of added deficit so that we can drive round in circles.

Nickel & Diming is a simple and time proven concept and it is hard at work growing our national debt.    Our nation’s debt isn’t from one big ticket item, it’s from millions of little projects.   In Bellingham they have adopted a Six Year Transportation Improvement Project which from the looks of it is just a list of many of those millions of little Nickel & Dime projects.

Here’s the funding resources for Bellingham’s Transportation Improvement Project:

    1. City Street: Public Works Street Fund comprised of motor vehicle gas tax and 42.5% of
      the total sales tax collected by the City of Bellingham.
    2. Real Estate Excise Tax (REET): Comprised of 1/2 of 1% of the total real estate revenue
      for a given year. REET funding is divided into first ¼ and second ¼ and can be used for limited types of transportation projects.
    3. Federal: Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Authority, or U.S.
      Department of Transportation administered grant funding programs.
    4. Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA): One-time federal
      economic stimulus funding provided for transportation projects.
    5. Federal Highway Bridge Program (HBP): Provides federal funds for structural repair
      or replacement. Project oversight at the State level by the Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee (BRAC).
    6. Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP): Provides federal funds to maintain
      and expand eligible arterial street systems.
    7. Federal Surface Transportation Program Enhancements (STP-E): Provides federal
      funds to enhance facilities for alternative transportation modes on eligible street systems.
    8. State: State administered grant funding programs or State educational institutions such as Western Washington University (WWU), Whatcom Community College (WCC), and Bellingham Technical College (BTC).
    9. WSDOT: Washington State Department of Transportation biennium budget – State
      Funding administered through WSDOT.
    10. Washington Transportation Improvement Board (TIB): State grant funding for
      arterials, sidewalks, and safety measures.
    11. Private & Other (Partnerships): Transportation Impact Fees, Whatcom County,
      Whatcom Transportation Authority, private business investment, private mitigation, etc.

    That’s eleven sources of funding.   I got bored reading the word “Federal” over and over, but I think I found 1 or 2 that were Bellinghamish sources.  The rest of the list shows the way that Bellingham transportation projects add more burden to our already broken state budget and pile on more and more to our nation’s deficit problem.  It is scary how many of these projects are out there in cities around our nation just waiting for city officials to pull the trigger on some matching federal funds and push local overspending right up to our nations suffering bottom line.

    As if this situation isn’t scary enough as it is repeated around our nation, it’s even scarier here in Bellingham because amongst the whoopla over whether or not to trade parking for bicycle lanes on Northwest Avenue, the Bellingham City Council is considering allowing Dan Pike’s personally appointed Transportation Commission the power to implement these changes in an unprecedented fashion.

    The City Council on Monday, Dec. 13, will consider approving a resolution that:

    – Asks staff to conduct a community meeting as soon as possible to discuss how to install the bike lanes.

    – Asks staff to install them along the Northwest Avenue-Elm Street-Dupont Street corridor as soon as possible.

    – Authorizes the advisory Transportation Commission to make decisions of this sort in the future, with the council having 45 days after the commission decision to reject or change it.

    Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/13/1460400/bellingham-council-to-consider.html#ixzz189PMPsQ8

    Really?  They are going to allow an appointed Transportation Commission to implement programs like this without prior Council approval?  Why exactly is there a Bellingham City Council again?

    And there it was, the scariest thing about the Northwest Avenue Bike Lane Project is not the loss of parking, nor just the piling on of debt.  The scariest thing is that we could be stuck with the bill when Mayor Dan Pike’s  commission pulls the trigger on any of these Bellingham Projects. 

    Bellinghamsters are big on Buy Local, when are they going to start the Pay Local campaign?

    July 7, 2009

    Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit

    Filed under: National Issue — Tags: , , , , , — wally @ 7:21 pm

    wapoobamabudget1I’m not really into reposting other’s material, but I’ll make this article from the Heritage Foundation one of the few exceptions.   As per their usual, they have with great visual simplicity, painted a picture of outrageous spending habits of the the Obama Administration.

    No, they don’t let President Bush off the hook, for his poor spending, they just clearly show how much worse things became after President Obama was elected.  It’s no wonder that people are taking to the streets in protest.

    And after you check out the outrageous spending plan, don’t miss the penny explanation of President Obama’s budget cuts?

    Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures

    President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that his budget would cut the deficit by half by the end of his term. But as Heritage analyst Brian Riedl has pointed out, given that Obama has already helped quadruple the deficit with his stimulus package, pledging to halve it by 2013 is hardly ambitious. The Washington Post has a great graphic which helps put President Obama’s budget deficits in context of President Bush’s.

    What’s driving Obama’s unprecedented massive deficits? Spending. Riedl details:

    • President Bush expanded the federal budget by a historic $700 billion through 2008. President Obama would add another $1 trillion.
    • President Bush began a string of expensive finan­cial bailouts. President Obama is accelerating that course.
    • President Bush created a Medicare drug entitle­ment that will cost an estimated $800 billion in its first decade. President Obama has proposed a $634 billion down payment on a new govern­ment health care fund.
    • President Bush increased federal education spending 58 percent faster than inflation. Presi­dent Obama would double it.
    • President Bush became the first President to spend 3 percent of GDP on federal antipoverty programs. President Obama has already in­creased this spending by 20 percent.
    • President Bush tilted the income tax burden more toward upper-income taxpayers. President Obama would continue that trend.
    • President Bush presided over a $2.5 trillion increase in the public debt through 2008. Setting aside 2009 (for which Presidents Bush and Obama share responsibility for an additional $2.6 trillion in public debt), President Obama’s budget would add $4.9 trillion in public debt from the beginning of 2010 through 2016.

    UPDATE: Many Obama defenders in the comments are claiming that the numbers above do not include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years. They most certainly do. While Bush did fund the wars through emergency supplementals (not the regular budget process), that spending did not simply vanish. It is included in the numbers above. Also, some Obama defenders are claiming the graphic above represents biased Heritage Foundation numbers. While we stand behind the numbers we put out 100%, the numbers, and the graphic itself, above are from the Washington Post. We originally left out the link to WaPo. It has been now been added.

    CLARIFICATION: Of course, this Washington Post graphic does not perfectly delineate budget surpluses and deficits by administration. President Bush took office in January 2001, and therefore played a lead role in crafting the FY 2002-2008 budgets. Presidents Bush and Obama share responsibility for the FY 2009 budget deficit that overlaps their administrations, before President Obama assumes full budgetary responsibility beginning in FY 2010. Overall, President Obama’s budget would add twice as much debt as President Bush over the same number of years.

    March 29, 2007

    Priorities for federal spending

    Dean Kahn’s join the conversation column over at the Herald today has to do with the new federal budget and what our feeling are regarding priorities.

    Join the conversation:What are your priorities for federal spending?
    People are paying their federal income tax. How would you like to see your money spent?”

    I put my budgeted 2 cents into the comment section.

    Primarily defense from both foreign and domestic enemies of our nation. Secondarily to protect our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That would be a good start.

    And of course it was immediately picked apart as per comment section usual.

    giving it to the fat cats in washington so they can play there WAR GAMES wally. did you fight in a war??? are you in va therapy too??

    Fortunately for me, I have this blog and don’t have to explain myself in the comment section. Here is my explanation:

    We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    We have been attacked and are at war with any and all nations that support terrorists who would do us harm. Our federal government must step up and provide for the common defense of its member states. I would eat Top Raman safe and sound in my home rather than buy steak dinners and ignore the mortgage. Defense must be priority or we won’t have a nation to call home, or we will be calling it home followed by “all praise and gratitude be to Allah.”

    Dean Kahn asked U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, for his priorities. Rick Larsen’s response was a little cryptic, so I’ve provided my simplified interpretations in italics on the right.

    Rick Larsen says:

    supports education for a 21st century workforce – more taxes

    expands health care for our children – more taxes

    budget restores fiscal responsibility – more taxes

    addresses federal spending – more taxes

    businesses and farms have the resources – more taxes

    access to capital – more taxes

    communities have the resources they need – more taxes

    support initiatives to fight hunger – more taxes

    make sure that our federal spending – more taxes

    I did find his response a little disturbing, yet not unexpected. Lots of taxes and spending. Isn’t that what budget means; increase taxes to cover spending?

    Like I said, I would want to see our defense budget expanded and other items reduced so that we can meet or exceed whatever military need arises. I say if our military leaders need money, troops and equipment, then lets give it to them money, troops and equipment; without exceptions, without conditions, and without surrendering. But Rick Larsen and the Democrats say:

    This budget leads us in a new direction – taxes not going to our common defense.

    There is only one good thing about this budget and it is still a mixed blessing.

    resources to ensure that soldiers and veterans get the care. – Good

    Good, because we need to take care of these guys after all they have given for our nation. The mixed blessing is that tragically there will be more veterans needing this care when the Democrats “new direction” budget starts cutting off supplies, reinforcements and equipment to our overseas armed force who are in the middle of a war.

    Will our soldiers quit defending our nation as their supplies run low and then run out? I doubt it. More will die and their blood will be on the hands of Democrats like Rick Larsen who can find innumerable ways to spend our taxes until there is nothing left for defense. More people need to tell them that the enemy is no longer at the gate; they flew a few airliners right through it on 9/11.

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