15 September 2014

Reprint: Firearms and Ignorance in Smalltown, USA

This is a true story; I know some of the people involved. Names have been changed for obvious reasons.

In Smalltown, Missouri, there is a city employee - let's call him Joe. Joe is a legal gun owner, and occasionally transports his gun inside his vehicle. When he's on duty, he leaves his pistol locked up in his personal vehicle, in a city-owned parking lot.

Smalltown has a mayor who fancies himself to be A Big Deal. Joe and Mayor Bigdeal occasionally have a difference of opinion. While it's not advisable to advertise that difference of opinion with the official who is your boss, it does happen.

Most recently, said difference of opinion resulted in a phone call to the police, and Joe being arrested for concealing a weapon on city property.

Joe spent a night in jail, and faced criminal charges involving a weapon. If convicted, Joe would also face the loss of:
  1. his job,
  2. his weapon, and
  3. his hunting privileges.
He would thereafter have a weapons charge on his record, meaning he could never again get a permit to own or carry a weapon.

The city attorney was cooperating in this process, up to this point. Then something happened. Somebody talked. People asked questions.

The Board of Aldermen got involved. THEY asked questions.

They called upon the city attorney. And - gasp - FACTS began to be revealed.

Those facts, in short, were these:
  1. The city has no ordinance against weapons in personal vehicles, on - or off - city property.
  2. Approximately 75% of city employees carry concealed weapons.
  3. Most of those weapons are actually brought into the city's property (a building, in this case), where those employees show their weapons off to other employees.
  4. These weapons have occasionally been left in the break room.
  5. It has even occurred that the supervisor had, in his possession and inside city-owned vehicles, a personally-owned weapon.
  6. The mayor reasonably should have known this.
  7. The police reasonably should have known this.
  8. The city attorney certainly should have known this.
  9. The mayor is a jackass, and NONE OF THIS SHOULD EVER HAVE HAPPENED.
The city attorney has contacted Joe, saying words to the effect of "We'll forget about this, if you will."

Joe is now considering his options. Forgetting about it isn't one of them.

Made-In-Alaska House Featured in Home Show

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Meet "Bella" -- a house with a name and a purpose.

The 1,686-square-foot, two-story, single-family home was the star of the kickoff of the 50th annual Parade of Homes in Anchorage on Friday evening. Bella is the name of the floor plan for the home, part of an ongoing 40-acre condominium development by the Peterson Group, but it's also billed as the "Made-in-Alaska House" -- because this particular Bella has been built with as many Alaska-made and -sourced products as possible.

The house features Alaska-made insulation, foundations, windows, tiles, countertops, cabinets, furniture, artwork and lighting in an effort to showcase locally made building materials.

Follow the link to see the slide show.  

I was interested just to see how many of the components were actually manufactured here in-state. Cool stuff.

IRS Code Prohibits Sleeping Pods at Anchorage Airport

Plans to install sleeping pods at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have been grounded by, of all things, Internal Revenue Service codes.

The pods, which were planned for the airport's C concourse, would have contained two to three bunks each for weary and laid-over travelers to get some cheap rest before boarding their next flight. Their installation would have made Anchorage's airport one of the first in the nation to utilize the so-called "micro hotels" and would have increased the airport's already growing nonflight revenue.
But after going through an IRS audit a few months ago, airport bond managers noticed a prohibition in the tax code covering allowable uses for tax-free bonds against building lodging facilities.

And there's the catch. The main terminal and C Concourse have been renovated (beginning in 1999) with a combination of AMT tax-free bonds and private equity bonds. With more than $500 million still outstanding on the tax-free AMT bonds, the airport is bound by IRS codes that are meant to prohibit public bonds from being used to compete with private businesses.

The restaurants, shops and even a beauty salon that already exist don't violate IRS code because they are for the sole use of airport travelers and employees. It seems obvious that sleeping pods would also be used only by the traveling public, since they would be on the other side of the TSA security screening area. However, IRS code section 142.C.2.a specifically forbids "any lodging facility" from being built when tax-free bonds are still outstanding. There may be a workaround to the problem, but airport officers didn't want to take any chances with the tax man.

"It's complex," said Keith Day, the financial controller for the Alaska International Airport System, which includes the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports. "We made the determination that the most conservative approach was to not take any risk with it."

Follow the link for the rest of the story.

"Couldn't let us profit. Wouldn't be civilized." ~ Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly

14 September 2014

I'm Sick and Tired

of hearing, "We inherited it."

The various so-called mainstream media continues to babble about Obama inheriting a huge deficit from Bush, blah blah blah. Amazingly enough, a lot of people swallow this nonsense. So once more, I'll try a short civics lesson.

* Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress, and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democratic Party. They controlled the budget process for FY 2008 and FY 2009, as well as FY 2010 and FY 2011. In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases. For FY 2009, though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the FY 2009 budgets.

* Where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete FY 2009. Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period:

* If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the FY 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is, "I inherited a deficit that I voted for, and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since taking office."

When is enough, enough?

As one commenter once replied,
"Oh you, and your silly "Constitution" this, "Separation of Powers that."

Everyone knows Presidents are just national avatars. If something *good* happens, it's 'cause my team's guy did it - now or a decade ago. If something *bad* happens, it's 'cause the other guy did it - now or a decade ago.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Nah, not cynical at all. Why do you ask? :)"


13 September 2014

A Late Spring Drive, in Pictures

From May, 2010:

Here are just a few photos from yesterday's drive to the south. (Click for the ooh, ahh factor.)

Heading east/southeast out of Anchorage, along the Turnagain Arm.

Halfway to Girdwood, near Bird Point.

Nearing Girdwood.

High in the Kenai Mountains.

Another view on the northbound trip.

 Looking north on the way back near Turnagain Pass.