Monday, April 30, 2007

Another problem with the US Tax Code

Please take the time to go read the below article:
<http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/PhyllisSchlafly/2007/04/30/easy_to_see_why_us_jobs_move_overseas>

This article helps explain one of the reasons why so many manufacturing jobs go overseas...

I look forward to your comments.

Mike Sylvester

Grilling

I bought a new grill on Friday. Our previous grill was bought on sale about 12 years ago. My wife and I bought the grill just before we got married in Omaha.

I had replaced the electronic starter on the previous grill four times and it broke again last fall. Rather then fix it again I decided to get rid of the old grill and purchase a new one.

One of the things that my wife and I are changing is that we are trying to buy items that are of "higher quality." In the past we tended to buy "cheap."

Manufacturing quality has diminished over the years. Nothing seems to last as long as similar items used to last.

I bought a Weber grill on Friday and I fired it up yesterday. It started on the first try and that is a good thing. I used to routinely manually light my old grill...

I grilled marinated pork chops for Karena and I and hotdogs for Karena and Graydon.

It was good...

There were not very many insect due to the late frost. It was a beautiful day to grill.

Mike Sylvester

Friday, April 27, 2007

Omnisource Property

Fort Wayne has an option that they can exercise to purchase the Omnisource property by 12/31/07. A task force has been created to explore possible uses of the site. The Omnisource property is near the river and just north of downtown.

The Harrison Square "Catalyst" Project has been approved and construction will start this Fall.

I have a feeling that Fort Wayne will decide to buy the Omnisource property and then turn around and spend taxpayer dollars to prepare the site for development and then give it to a private developer...

That is my prediction and I am sticking with it.

I have a feeling I know one of the projects that will be strongly considered; a Riverfront Municipal District. There are quite a few of these in Indiana and some have been successful and others have not been successful.

I tend to oppose a Riverfront District for several reasons:

1. The main reason is because I think Fort Wayne would decide to issue more liquor licenses to "encourage" bars to open in the new district. Fort Wayne is currently 65 liquor licenses above the number allowed for a City of our size. This is mainly due to annexation.

2. This would be "Economic Re-arrangement" at its finest. Only so many people go to bars and a new "District" would just ensure that many bars in other parts of the city go out of business.

3. These Districts often use special taxing districts which I oppose.

4. Local bar owners are already under assault from the City Council. The smoking ban will most likely cause many small bars to go out of business. There is legislation under consideration in Indianapolis that would further damage local bar owners...

5. Local bar owners have paid a lot of money for their liquor licenses. If more licenses are issued then the existing holders of liquor licenses are"harmed."

I think that Fort Wayne needs to concentrate on maintaining and improving our infrastructure as well as dealing with both the Combined Sewer Overflow problem and the Pension shortfall...

I tend to think we should let private developers buy and develop property on their own...

Mike Sylvester

Democratic race for 4th District City Council

Two Democrats are vying for the right to face Mitch Harper (R) in the November Election and to replace Councilman Tom Hayhurst (D).

The candidates are Charles Langley and Leslie Raymer.

Both are educators...

I think this race is fairly easy to predict and I think that Charles Langley will win easily. He has raised almost four times as much money and he seems to be energetic and he seems to be running a stronger campaign then his opponent.

Mike Sylvester

An interesting dinner in Fort Wayne

We went to "The Trolley Bar" with one of Karena's clients tonight.

Five couples from a variety of backgrounds went.

The food was good and so was the company...

Eventually someone (not me by the way) brought up Harrison Square. Guess what, all ten of us agreed on Harrison Square...

Imagine that...

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fort Wayne Democratic "at-large" primary

Seven Democrats are vying for three positions on The Democratic Ballot May 8th.

This race did not require as much time to research. The Democratic race involves less money and will be determined almost entirely based on name recognition.

There are 7 candidates:
John Shoaff, Thomas Essex, Eddie Arrington, Melvin Billingsley, Richard Cline, Denise Porter-Ross, and Michael Reef.

I think the top two position in this race are easy to predict and the third position a little harder.

John Shoaff will easily receive the highest vote total in this race.

I think that Denise Porter-Ross will receive the second highest vote total.

I think that Thomas Essex will get the third highest vote total.

I am not voting in the Democratic Primary so I will not be voting for any of these candidates on May 8th.

If I were voting in this race I would definitely vote for John Shoaff. I am impressed with John Shoaff. I would also vote for Denise Porter-Ross. I think that she works hard for neighborhoods. I would also vote for Richard Cline. I think we need more blue collar "types" on our City Council.

Mike Sylvester

CPA

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency approved my application to be a Certified Public Accountant last Friday, April 20th 2007.

I am glad that it is over and that I am now a CPA!

Mike Sylvester

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Republicans running for the "at-large" seats

I have been quite interested in the Republican race for City Council at large.

I am voting in the Republican Primary this year since Libertarians do not have a primary and since I feel that I will be voting for a slight majority of Republicans in the general election.

The race includes one incumbent and five challengers. These six individuals are competing for three positions on the ballot.

This is going to be a very close race and it is a very difficult race to predict. It is difficult to predict because each of the candidates has their own base of support. I think that this race will be close and that only about 1500 votes will separate the top candidate from the bottom candidate in this race!

I would like to start by saying that each of the six candidates in this race brings a unique perspective and has a unique set of qualifications. I think that voters in The Republican Primary have a good set of choices; however, I am disappointed that the field features so many moderate Republicans and outright "big government" Republicans.

I will start with who I am currently planning on voting for and why.

I am definitely voting for Kurt Gutman. I think that Kurt's financial background is sorely needed by our City Council.

I am pretty sure that I will be voting for Adam Mildred. I like the fact that Adam is a Deputy Prosecutor. I would be solidly in Adam's corner; except, he tends to do an awful lot of "hedging" and I do not care for "hedging."

I am not sure if I will vote for a third candidate or not. If I do it will either be Rob Morris or Marty Bender. Rob Morris opposed Harrison Square and is a small business owner. Marty Bender opposes the smoking ban and is a Fort Wayne police officer. There are things I like about both candidates.

I have nothing against John Crawford or Liz Brown and I think that both are qualified; however:

I cannot vote for John Crawford due to his championing of the smoking ban and his support of the Harrison Square Project. These are two critical votes that Councilman Crawford cast with the big government types. People keep telling me that Councilman Crawford is a small government type; however, it is not apparent to me based on his voting record! In fact, he is voting as a big government Republican!

I cannot vote for Liz Brown since she supports both the smoking ban and Harrison Square. I have a feeling she is another big government Republican and I do not want to see any more big government Republicans elected. (I know Sam Talarico enjoys these comments about big government Republicans)

Once again, this is a very hard race to analyze. After looking at the Campaign finance reports and after talking to a large number of voters I think that this race will be very close and I feel that any of the three candidates could win. Based on what I have seen so far here is my prediction in order of votes from top to bottom:

1. I think Councilman Crawford will receive the most votes; however, he will not be number one by much. His Direct Mail piece "pokes smokers and bar owners in the eye again." He voted in favor of Harrison Square and I feel that the majority of the Republican base opposes the project. Crawford had over three times as much money as the other candidates and he has large signs all over the City. I think this will carry the day.

2. I think Adam Mildred will get the second most votes. Adam has been running a campaign for a long time and I think that he has run the strongest campaign. I think this will result in Adam getting the second highest vote total.

3. I think that the 3rd seat will be determined by as few as 100 votes. I think that Kurt Gutman will win a "squeeker." I think Kurt has raised the third highest amount of money and I think he has done a good job with his signs.

4. I think that Liz Brown will have the fourth highest vote total.

5. I think that Rob Morris will have the fifth highest vote total.

6. I think that Marty Bender will have the sixth highest vote total.

Believe it or not, I have listed the candidates in the exact order of their Fundraising in this race. I hate it; however, money talks in elections...

Please post your prediction in order from highest to lowest...

Mike Sylvester

Harrison Square passes City Council

If you are looking for links to the press coverage the best source of information is Downtown Fort Wayne Baseball, check out their post on last night's vote:
<http://downtownfortwaynebaseball.blogspot.com/>

I am certainly not surprised by last night's vote given the large number of big business owners who support the project. The vote came out exactly as I predicted on this blog back on March 8th. The City Council voted in favor of the proposal by a margin of 6 to 3.

Three Republicans and three Democrats voted in favor of the resolution. Two Republicans and one Democrat voted against it.

This project was passed by a bi-partisan majority at Council and had broad support from many elected officials in both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

On the Republican side Liz Brown, Bill Brown, and Linda Bloom spoke in favor of the project. On the Democratic side Kevin Knuth and Denise Porter-Ross spoke in favor of the project.

This project is supported by the "powers that be" in both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

There were two things that I thought were extremely interesting last night:

1. Tom Hayhurst made eight predictions about what would happen if the Harrison Square Project was approved. I cannot remember his exact words; however, he predicted that the wages in Fort Wayne would increase so that they are above the national average.

That is an interesting prediction and I wonder if anyone reading this blog agrees with Councilman Hayhurst?

I do NOT.

2. Councilman Crawford deferred his vote until the end of the roll call vote. I was fairly irritated when he deferred his vote. I thought he was waiting until the end so that he could vote "no" once he was sure the project had enough votes to pass.

Councilman Crawford surprised me by waiting until the end and then supporting the project...

Harrison Square will move forward from this point. It will be approved by our City Council when the final details are worked out.

At this point we have to hope that The Mayor's office negotiates the best possible deal and we have to hope that the project works.

I hope the project works, I really do; however, I am skeptical to say the least...

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Race of Republican City Council at large

I plan on posting my predictions in the next day or two.

My wife got the first direct mail we have seen in this campaign and it is from Dr. Crawford.

The entire piece was typical until the end:

"Most significantly, his efforts have broadened the smoking oedinance to be inclusive. While reasonable people may disagree on various aspects of this effort, the recent Surgeon General's report on the dangers of secondhand smoke to others overrides any concerns."

Mike Sylvester

Monday, April 23, 2007

Harrison Square Public Hearing

This may surprise some of you.

I am not planning on attending the Harrison Square Public Hearing tomorrow.

I am very discouraged in the lack of financial information provided by the Mayor's Office and I see no reason to go to the Hearing. This issue will be voted on without the public or the members of City Council having a chance to analyze the financial details...

Tim Pape and Sam Talarico pretty much summed it up at the last meeting by declaring that you either trust the Mayor's Office and the proposal or you do not.

You can put me in the latter category.

The Mayor's office has posted some basic summary financial information on the City's website; however, they have not provided much of the information that an accountant would need to analyze the data and projections independently.

I currently think that the City is portraying a fairly rosy picture and I do not think that is appropriate.

I have spent a great deal of time looking at the limited financial information the Mayor's office has provided and I have to admit that there is not enough real data for me to make any accurate projections about the project.

If I were to guess then I would guess that the project will involve about 45% private financing and about 55% public financing when it is all said and done.

If I were to guess I would say they they are projecting hotel occupancy rates that are far higher then they the hotel will actually experience unless Fort Wayne becomes an active tourist destination in the next few years.

If I had to guess I do not think the City has including any overhead in their calculations.

If I had to guess I would guess that the City will not make the retail sales numbers that they are projecting in the first stage retail portion.

I think the largest risk to the City in the project is that Hardball Capital will not finance stage two or stage three unless things go very well for stage one.

I encourage all members of City Council to vote against this project.

Mike Sylvester




Verizon FIOS update, final

Well they are done. FIOS is installed and everything is back to the condition it was prior to the Verizon installation that began last Friday.

They sent out their technician who understood networks.

I told him what I thought was wrong and he was not pleased with the other Verizon technicians who have been involved in the process; including the various people I talked to at their tech support center...

I was basically right and he was able to fix it fairly easy...

To make a long story short, they installed two routers and they had them selected to use the same IP address.

The technician today turned off the wireless portion of the new router and then changed the IP settings so that each Router had its own IP address.

He then "flushed" some setting (DHN or DHC) and that part did not make any sense to me...

My system works again and life is good.

They shut our business down for most of Friday, all weekend, and most of Monday.

I would like to thank AWB for offering to send over a technician to fix it. I was almost to that point.

Mike Sylvester

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fort Wayne Republican Mayoral Primary

I am going to breakdown the first primary that I have analyzed, the Republican Primary for Mayor.

Let me start by saying that I am rather biased about this race; I am a supporter of Matt Kelty, I am donating money to the Kelty campaign and I am a Precinct Captain for the Kelty Campaign.

3 I know that this surprises some of you.

There is no doubt that Matt Kelty and I do not agree on every issue. In my entire life I have NEVER met any person that I agree with 100%. I agree with Matt on 80% of the political issues that we have discussed and that is as close as I get to most candidates. On the local level I can only think of one person running for office that I am in more agreement with on issues then Matt...

I have discussed politics with many of Matt's supporters. I have to say that most of his supporters agree with me on more issues then they agree with the Big Government Republicans...

I disagree with Matt about SOB's and I disagree with Matt on some social issues. Matt is a social conservative and I am not. I agree 100% with Matt on the proper role of Government...

I spent today with a group of volunteers and we ended up walking two precincts for Matt today. I had a great time and I have to admit that my feet hurt because I am not used to walking as far as I walked today.

The other volunteers that I met today are some really great people. Most of them are Republicans; however, there was also an Independent (And one Libertarian of course). Most of them are small Government Republicans...

I predict that Matt Kelty will win the Republican Primary for Mayor.

I think it will be close since Nelson Peters has the support of the Republican establishment and most prominent local Republicans. I think it will be close because the establishment has thrown piles of money at Nelson Peters. I think Matt Kelty has the support of the "grass roots" of the local Republican Party and I think Matt Kelty has worked very, very hard.

My prediction is:
Matt Kelty 50%
Nelson Peters 47%
Ivan Hood 2%
Wilbert Brown and Teresa Licari 1% combined

What is your prediction for this primary?

I am looking forward to reading them.

Mike Sylvester

Republicans running for City Council

Last week I made a post about the 7 Democrats running for the "at-large" positions on City Council and their positions on Harrison Square. Basically five are opposed to it as it stands and only two are in favor.

This is not the case on the Republican side.

I will use this to illustrate that in my opinion the modern Republican Party often stands for big government...

Per today's JG:

John Crawford is on the fence
Bob Morris, against the project as proposed
Adam Mildred, cautiously optimistic, sounds like he would vote for it
Kurt Gutman, against the project as proposed
Elizabeth Brown supports the project as proposed
Marty Bender, said he would vote for the project

So lets summarize the Republican Responses:
On the fence = 1 (We will find out Tuesday)
Against project as proposed = 2
In favor of the project as proposed = 3

So the Democratic at-large candidates oppose Harrison Square by a healthy margin and the Republican at-large candidates support the project by a slim margin.

Wow...

This helps illustrate my point that The modern day Republican party is full of elected officials and candidates that support larger and larger government...

AWB, do you find this encouraging?

On another note I have pulled down the poll that Sam Talarico suggested. The poll was on the Republican at-large City Council race:

In order of votes, largest to smallest:

Adam Mildred, 88
Rob Morris, 66
Kurt Gutman, 64
Marty Bender, 61
Elizabeth Brown, 51
John Crawford, 46

These are surprising numbers. As always this is not a scientific poll it is just the opinion of some of the readers of this blog.

I have to agree with Sam Talarico, this is going to be a very close race and it will be difficult to predict who will win.

I will start posting predictions on Primary races soon... This is going to be one of the toughest ones to predict.

Mike Sylvester

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Verizon FIOS update

Well I have spent about six hours trying to fix the problems Verizon has caused. I currently have my network setup so that all of my computers can use the internet and can use email; however, they cannot share files of any kind.

That is NOT going to work.

I think I am in a similar situation to Marvin Hoot...

Verizon was supposed to send a technician over today at 10AM. I am still waiting and it is just after noon...

Verizon FIOS may be great once it is setup; however, their technicians I have dealt with so far seem to have no idea about how a wireless network works and they know absolutely nothing about the Actiontek Router that they have installed in my house.

They seem to be hoping that I can figure it out for them...

Mike Sylvester

Friday, April 20, 2007

Verizon Fios, you have got to be kidding me

So Verizon finally talked me into "upgrading to FIOS."

So I tell them all about my home office setup and they of course tell me that it will be no problem to upgrade me to FIOS.

They came out and buried a cable in my yard last week and they scheduled the installation for today.

Sure enough they showed up around 8:30 Am. When they showed up my phone worked, my fax machine worked, my internet connection worked from all three computers, I could get email from all three computers, and most importantly I could share files on all three computers.

They just left around 5 PM. My phone and fax finally work again, they removed my DSL connection, my FIOS connection works on one computer, they left a new wireless router that is called an Actiontek Router, my wireless network does not work, neither of my remote computers can access the internet or get email, and I cannot share files from computer to computer. The techs told me to call Verizon and they would fix everything.

I would not let the techs leave until I got their names and phone numbers...

So I call Verizon's tech support for new users and we spent about 40 minutes on the phone. They assured me that everything is fine and that I need to reconfigure my entire network and that I need to make everything work again because it is not their problem...

Holy crap I am angry...

We lost an entire afternoon to those "jokers" and now I have to fix what they have done.

You may want to think twice before upgrading to FIOS if you have an existing Wireless network...

I am going to take a few minutes off, eat dinner, and then I will most likely go and re-install my wireless network.

Oh and I forgot, every email I now get comes to me twice becuase of a new email address they added to my outlook account.

Mike Sylvester

My ideas for improving Downtown Fort Wayne

Change Fort Wayne, a funny and sarcastic local blog, has been defending the Harrison Square Project as being the only possible thing that can benefit Fort Wayne and spends a lot of time making fun of me. I enjoy their blog quite a bit.

I have decided to post another list of things that I think should be done to help improve Downtown Fort Wayne.

I hope that all of the Supporters of Harrison Square take the time to do the same thing. Some of these ideas are not very Libertarian; however, since I know we are going to keep pouring hundreds of millions of public dollars into Downtown I want to see that money not wasted:

1. I think we should build a casino in Downtown Fort Wayne. That will draw people from at least a 60 mile radius.

2. I think we should stop building strip malls at the edges of Fort Wayne. Everytime we build a new strip mall new businesses move into the new strip mall from their old locations. Fort Wayne has way too much commerical property and can only support so much retail space. I am actually looking to buy or build commercial property in Fort Wayne. We have thousands of commercial locations available; yet, we are still building more and building them on the edges of the City.

3. I think Fort Wayne should have done more to prevent Parkview from moving north of Fort Wayne. I would guess that as many as 80% of the medical businesses surrounding Parkview on State will move north in the next few years. Imagine what is going to happen to that part of town.

4. I think Fort Wayne should meet with every local college and univeristy in this area and should attempt to convince them to offer more advanced degrees in Fort Wayne. There are several advanced degrees that are offered by multiple colleges in the Fort Wayne area. Possibly we could "plan" and offer more different advanced degrees.

5. I would like to see Fort Wayne do more to help small business owners succeed in Fort Wayne. I think that Personal Property Taxes should be eliminated for small business owners entirely.

6. I think the Sheriff should be located Downtown.

7. I think that the City Planning Department needs to stop allowing developers to build anything they want on the edges of Fort Wayne. I think that The City Planning Department should limit development at the edges of Fort Wayne, this would ensure that developers spend more time "in-filling" our core.

8. I think the City should consider offering small public subsidies to build new projects Downtown. I do not want to see the City put up 50% of the project costs; however, I would support the City subsidizing some of the following projects Downtown:a. An olympic swimming pool.b. A pedestrian bar and restaurant district.c. There are many other projects that might work.

9. I think that we need to encourage small businesses to relocate Downtown. We currently subsidize a large number of small businesses at the NIIC center. I would like to see Fort Wayne stop giving so much in subsidies to large businesses and start to funnel a lot more of it to small businesses. This could be done by helping small businesses locate property Downtown and by streamlining the permit process.

10. I think we need to eliminate wasteful Government spending and lower the taxes on both business owners and residents. This will leave residents and business owners with more money that will be spent in the local economy.

11. Fort Wayne Government needs to stop hiring outside consultants for every little thing. We have plenty of competant people in Fort Wayne and we need to keep our money in this area. Imagine how good it would be for local businesses if Fort Wayne gave a preference to local businesses!

Please let me know what your ideas are to improve Downtown and what you think of mine.

I have a feeling that Change Fort Wayne will post a list including:

1. Build a new minor league Baseball Stadium Downtown because that is what young professionals want.

2. Build a new Parking Garage Downtown to help encourage people to walk around a more pedestrian Downtown.

3. Build high end condominiums downtown for all of the young professionals to live in. They all have at least $200,000 to spend on 1000 square foot condos and would love to spend that money next to a ballpark that has a sinlge A baseball team playing in it.

I am looking forward to hearing your response.

Mike Sylvester

Harrison Square supporters needed, I need help!

I have asked this question several times and I have never really got an answer from Stadium Supporters that made sense to me except that the parking Garage is needed as a public subsidy for the new hotel. Please try to explain this to me.

Numerous consultants have been hired to tell us how we should develop Downtown. They all tell us that we need to make downtown more pedestrian friendly. Over and over people who support Downtown development tell me that we need a downtown that is pedestrian friendly and that we need people to walk around our downtown area.

I tend to agree with this concept.

Consultants tell us that we have too many surface parking lots Downtown.

Why does the Mayor's office want to build a brand new 900 space Parking Garage Downtown?

I can understand why a hotel would want us to build a Parking Garage for their use as a subsidy. I can understand why someone at the GWC might think that a nearby Parking Garage would be convenient for people who attend Conventions (Though there are many other places to park nearby, I have never had a problem finding parking downtown in my life except during the Three Rivers Festival).

If you really believe in developing Downtown I would think that you would agree that we need Downtown to be pedestrian friendly and that we need people to spend some time walking in Downtown Fort Wayne.

A Parking Garage 100% defeats this purpose.

If there is a Parking Garage next to the Baseball Park most of the people who attend the baseball games will obviously park in the Parking Garage. They will not walk anywhere other then from the Parking Garage to the Stadium and back.

How does this encourage people to walk in Downtown Fort Wayne? How does this help the shops, restaurants, etc gain business?

I attend baseball games in many different places. When I go to a Cubs game I tend to walk a long ways because I am cheap and do not want to pay too much to park my car. Last time my wife and I had to carry our young children because we parked far enough away that our kids could not walk that far. For me walking through the neighborhood around Wrigley is part of the baseball experience.

Building a Parking Garage Downtown makes absolutely no sense to me from a Downtown Development standpoint.

Over at the blog "Change Fort Wayne" they use a lot of sarcasm. Maybe they are right, I wonder if more people would attend wizards games if we installed a shuttle system from the Parking Garage to the Baseball Stadium? That way people would not have to walk at all? Heck maybe we could have Fort Wayne purchase a couple hundred golf carts (At taxpayer expense of course). The golf carts could be used to shuttle people from their parking space in the parking garage all the way to the baseball stadium itself...

Mike Sylvester

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kelty beginning to surge at the Fort

The Howey Political Report covers Indiana politics.

Please check out this article on the Fort Wayne Mayor's race:
<http://www.howeypolitics.com/>

I think the Kelty/Peters race is pretty much a dead heat. I think that the candidate who has the stronger campaign and "ground game" will most likely win this race.

I have not predicted any of the races yet; however, I plan on starting soon. I think I am going to start with this race...

Mike Sylvester

Harrison Square on Public Access

I will be discussing Harrison Square on Public Access television tonight with Doug Horner. Please take the time to call in to the show and let us know what you think about Harrison Square!

The show will run from 7 PM - 8 PM tonight and the call in phone number is 422-3902.

Mike Sylvester

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sam Talarico Jr.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that Sam and I do not see "eye to eye" on very many issues.

There is a rumor going around about Sam Talarico that is completely untrue. Whoever started this rumor is just making a baseless attack on Sam Talarico and should be extremely ashamed of themselves.

I talked to Sam Talarico last night and, as I expected, he has not accepted a position with Hardball Capital and he is not going to accept a position with Hardball Capital.

I have deleted several comments that were placed on this blog in the last 48 hours that attack Sam with this false claim.

If I missed any please let me know and I will delete them.

I talked to an individual on the phone this afternoon who had heard the same rumor. It is unfortunate that this rumor has spread.

I strongly suggest that you do not spread false rumors and I do not want any more of these accusations made on this blog.

This rumor is pathetic, cowardly, and untrue.

Mike Sylvester

Encouraging news about Harrison Square

This morning I sent an email to all of the members of City Council who have a public email address, The Mayor, The Deputy Mayor, and The City Controller.

I once again requested all of the information I have been asking for...

I sent the email around 9:30 AM today.

I also called The Mayor, The Deputy Mayor, and The City Controller's office and left messages regarding my request for information.

Pat Roller's office called me back around 2:30 PM today and told me that all of the information I requested will be posted on the City website by 5 PM today.

I am impressed that four City councilmen, all who tend to support The Harrison Square Project, made a specific point during last nights meeting of telling The Mayor's office that they need to release more information to the public. These City Councilmen were Tom Didier, Glyn Hines, Tom Hayhurst, and Sam Talarico. If you believe the JG, all four of these Councilmen currently favor the project; however, each specifically mentioned that The City needed to get more information to the public. Glyn Hines repeatedly said that the information needs to be made available on the Fort Wayne website.

I strongly believe that The Mayor's office has handled the informational aspects of this Project horribly. Everything has been held too closely and the City has rebuffed requests for information and have refused to provide information that they have promised to provide.

I feel that if The Mayor's office had handled this better that there would be a little less opposition to the project.

I feel that I would have opposed this project even if the Mayor's office distributed the information as they should have; however, I think there are other people who might have been more open to the Harrison Square Project if the City had been more forthright.

Below is a copy of the information I requested in this mornings email:

1. All financial projections involved with The Harrison Square Project.

2. The calculation you used to determine the public vs private financing of the project with the amount you used for each component. For example, what costs did you include for land acquisition, demolition, site preparation, etc.

3. All written documents provided to you by the Hotel Developer in response to the formal RFP that are associated with and including forms A1, A2, A3, and A4.

4. The “Crowe” report that was prepared for the City entitled “Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Proposed Harrison Square Project.” This report prepared by “Crowe” refers to another report entitled “City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Downtown Community Revitalization Enhancement District, Consultants Report.” The “Crow” report gets many of its assumptions from this report and I cannot analyze “Crowe’s” report until I review the report they used for many of their assumptions.

5. A copy of the information packet provided to City Council for last nights meeting.

I am looking forward to seeing what is posted by 5 PM...

Mike Sylvester

Harrison Square and City Council

I obviously went to the City Council meeting last night to see what I could find out about Harrison Square. The meeting lasted for about four hours and was well attended.

This will surprise many of you and you should make sure that you are seated.

I found myself in agreement with City Councilman Sam Talarico for about an hour last night...

No, really...

I am not kidding.

I am still opposed to The Harrison Square Project; however, as long as the Mayor's Office releases all of the information that citizens have requested and as long as they release it today I think that City Council should be able to vote on the project by May 1st.

I feel that the Mayor's Office has done an extremely poor job of providing information to the public about this project. During last nights meeting three of the Councilmen who seem likely to support the project told the Mayor's Office that the Mayor's Office needs to release more information to the public.

Now do not get me wrong, I think individual Councilman may feel they need longer to digest the information that I expect to be released today; however, if that is the case they can always vote against the Harrison Square Project.

I am always a little amazed when I agree with Sam Talarico because it seems that he and I disagree on so many issues; however, I think he is certainly right about this issue.

Please realize that I only agree with Sam Talarico on this issue if the Mayor's Office releases all of the information that I have been expecting from them immediately, as in today.

I will be calling the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, and The City Controller immediately following this post to determine when I can go and pick up all of the relevant information about this project.

Mike Sylvester

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Season, is over for us

It has been a great tax season for our Company. We filed 336 returns and extended 14... The 14 we extended are because our clients need some more time to gather information...

Karena and I went out and had a "celebratory lunch" at Lonestar today!

It is over...

Mike Sylvester

Lack of information about Harrison Square

There is still a lack of information available about the Harrison Square Project. A couple of people have recently told me that "all of the relevant information is available."

They are wrong and their comments are both insulting and inaccurate.

Lets start at the beginning. When this project was first announced the public was told that it would be a Public/Private "partnership" and that about 60% of the financing would be private and 40% would be public once the project was completed.

Editors Note, after I posted this Kevin and Brian correctly pointed out that the 60%/40% ratio is for the entire project phases 1, 2 and 3.

Yesterday in the JG they reported that 63 million would be public and 67 million would be private. If the numbers the JG reported yesterday are true then the financing has shifted to 48.5% public and 51.5% private. If the project is a 130 million dollar project then that means since December we have shifted 11 million dollars AWAY from private investors and the public (taxpayers) is picking up this 11 million dollars. I consider this a significant development.

Editors Note, after I posted this Kevin and Brian correctly pointed out that this ratio is just for Phase 1 AND they have said for sometime that the Public Financing is 50/50 for Phase 1.

We have to take it on faith that phases 2 and 3 will come in lower...

I still have not been able to calculate the private/public percentage myself. For example, do the above figures include the two new public subsidies that I learned about last night? I have no idea and neither does anyone reading this blog. Do they include the legal fees incurred to seize Belmont Beverages? Do they include City overhead? How many years and what percentage of the Innkeepers tax was included in the JG's percentages? Once again, no one reading this blog knows.

Editors note: I have no idea where the JG got their numbers yesterday. I STILL do not have enough financial data to calculate these percentages with any degree of accuracy myself, and this is going to be introduced to City Council in less then EIGHT hours.

So we still do not know what percentage of the funding is public and what percent is private. If you do not know something as simple as what percentage of the funding the public is providing how can you say that all of the information has been made available to the public?

Obviously you cannot...

We are being asked to take their "word" for it even though the numbers keep changing.

I have been asking for the financial projections regarding the Harrison Square Project for two months. I have yet to see them.

I have asked for copies of forms A1, A2, A3, and A4. These financing forms were provided by the hotel developer to the City a couple of months ago. They still have not been made public.

I have asked for a report that the "Crowe" report repeatedly mentions, and no one even knows what that report is... It is called "City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Downtown Community Revitalization Enhancement District, Consultant's Report." If you know what this report is or where I can find it please tell me.

I am very angry that the Mayor's Office and their cronies are trying to "ram this project" down the taxpayers throats without providing basic financial information and without keeping one of the Mayor's personal promises.

This is disgusting and it is wrong.

Open Government does not exist in regards to The Harrison Square Project.

I still do NOT have enough information to analyze the public/private financing split; however, I think it is going to end up closer to 40% private/60% public then it is to the Mayor's initial estimate of 60% private/40% public.

I am beginning to see why The Mayor's office is deathly afraid of having an independent accountant review their financial projections.

They cannot afford it before the City Council vote!

Fort Wayne obviously will comply with my Freedom of Information Request. That will allow me to make some BASIC financial projections myself.

I will not be able to analyze the entire plan until the final agreements are in place at the end of May assuming this "farce" gets passed by our Republican City Council.

You can rest assured that I will pursue this and that I will analyze the financials when I pry them from the Mayor's Office with however Freedom of Infomration Requests it requires.

Editors note, I posted a couple of corrections that were pointed out by Kevin and Brian. Thanks for pointing them out Kevin and Brian!

I think that these correction make my point even further. We still have no idea what the public/private percentage will be for ANY of the phases. I really am looking forward to figuring these percentages myself.

Mike Sylvester

Monday, April 16, 2007

This afternoon's Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission Meeting

I attended the meeting today since the Harrison Square project was inserted into the agenda at the last minute.

At 2 PM I checked the Cities website and downloaded the agenda for the meeting. The agenda did NOT yet include Harrison Square.

It was added at the last minute.

At the beginning of the meeting Greg Leatherman made a point of letting us know that it was a Public Meeting and that the "public" would not be allowed to comment or participate.

The recently released Memorandums of Understanding were NOT distributed to the public at the meeting during which they were discussed. I found this VERY surprising... It seems that the documents were released to the Downtown Fort Wayne Baseball Blog just before the meeting; but, no copies were provided to the public at the meeting. The lack of information is incredible...

The first thing that was discussed was the Cities option to purchase the Omnisource site. The option expires on 12/31/07 and is not renewable.

Several other things were discussed, basically the normal business of the Commission.

Last but not least were the two Memorandums involving Harrison Square...

The first Memorandum discussed the hotel. I noted several interesting things:

1. These documents are NOT contracts. They are just a beginning for formal negotiations. They are not binding.

2. This next comment from the City blew me away and I think it will you as well. The City currently expects the hotel to have ABOUT 250 rooms. It could still have more or less rooms. The exact number of rooms has not been determined yet.

3. A Cred Credit of six to nine million is anticipated. This is new news to me; I have always heard it would be six million.

4. The parking garage will have to set aside 300 parking spaces for the motel. The motel will have to pay the City a small parking fee for use of the parking spaces. The fee will have to cover operating and maintenance costs on the garage. The fee will not cover ANY of the capital costs. The hotel can charge what they want for the parking spaces, The City will only get the small fee to cover operating and maintenance costs.

5. This next item COMPLETELY blew me away. The hotel will be allowed to keep a portion of the Innkeepers tax that it collects. No other hotel in Fort Wayne that I know of is allowed this subsidy. The amount of this subsidy was not disclosed to the public.

6. The City is still pursuing more incentives that have not yet been quantified. These include the New Markets Tax Credit and further incentives.

The members of the Redevelopment Commission asked some pretty good questions. Karen Goldner specifically asked some very good questions. These questions revealed the following:

1. The number of rooms in the hotel could be fewer then 250. In fact, and this is scary, one member of the Redevelopment Commission asked if there was a guarantee that the hotel would have a nominal number of rooms, for example 150 rooms. The Cities answer was no, there was no actual guarantee for a minimum number of rooms. That is still to be negotiated.

2. It became clear that the motel can be less then a full service motel.

Believe it or not, even with the above facts revealed, the Commission approved this Memorandum unanimously.

Next came the second Memorandum which covers the rest of the Harrison Square Project. This Memorandum is even worse for the taxpayers of Fort Wayne.

The cities presentation revealed the following:

1. Once again this is not a contract, just a framework for negotiation.

2. The Baseball Stadium will be up to AA standards.

3. The stadium will be a "depressed bowl: stadium and will have only 5000 seats. There will be an area where other people can be seated on the grass, etc...

4. There will be a minimum of 12 "suites."

5. Hardball Capital will contribute 5 million dollars by the time the stadium opens.

6. There will be 60 condos and 30,000 square feet of retail.

7. This memorandum discusses phase 1. HBC will contribute about 14.5 million to build condos and retail.

8. The final agreement will have benchmarks for the 2nd and 3rd phases. No benchmarks have been agreed to yet!

9. The City will cover the costs of a capital maintenance Fund that will be around $300,000 per year. The naming rights of the stadium will be split with HBC and the City thinks this will cover most of this cost.

10. This part is AMAZING. The Wizards expect the new stadium to have attendance of 360,000 in announced ticket sales. Lets do some math here. If the Wizards play 72 home games and the stadium has 5000 seats. 72 x 5000 = 360,000.

They are projecting sellouts to every game!

11. Stadium Parking revenues have NOT been negotiated.

The Commission members asked several good questions that revealed the following tidbits:

1. HBC is expecting to get about 4 million in Cred from the construction of the retail and condos. This has NOT been included in the public investment.

2. As the agreement stands there is NOTHING in place to force HBC to build the 2nd or 3rd stages of the project. NOTHING. This means that they can decide not to build phase two or three if their condos and retail do not sell... This means that the 14.5 million for phase 2 and the 14.5 million for phase three that the City is counting as Private Investment may never happen...
Per Steve Brody market conditions will determine if phases two and three happen.

3. Check this out. The condos and retail are going to include Meeting Space. This Meeting Space revenue will go to HBC and will compete with the GWC. They now also plan on having some roof seating available aka Wrigley Field.

Even after the above facts came out the Commission approved the Memorandum unanimously.

This just gets worse and worse.

No wonder they do not want to provide any financial information to the public. They cannot afford to let the light of day shine on this project...

I am back to being VERY opposed to Harrison Square.

I am absolutely disgusted by the Mayor's lack of willingness to release information to the public and his insistence on ramming it through City Council without releasing financial information to the public.

Mike Sylvester

My day, and a bad one it was...

Luckily for us we are pretty much done with tax season...

I was very angry today when The Deputy Mayor announced the Memorandum's of Understanding regarding Harrison Square would probably be completed today and would be voted on by the Redevelopment Commission today. He added that it would be introduced to City Council tomorrow...

Copies can be found here:
<http://downtownfortwaynebaseball.blogspot.com/>

I attended the meeting today after filing seven Freedom of Information Requests with the City this afternoon.

The Mayor's office has to date refused to provide basic financial information that they have repeatedly promised to provide to the public and I am very disappointed in The Mayor's office.

It does not seem to matter to the Mayor that he made a personal promise to get me the information that I requested two months ago. It does not seem to matter to our Deputy Mayor that he has failed to answer questions that have been posed to him over the last couple of months. At several public meetings our Deputy Mayor has promised that "all questions will be answered."

They lied.

I am extremely disappointed in the lack of transparency and the unwillingness of the Mayor's office to provide public documents to concerned citizens.

I am almost as angry that Kevin Knuth, the local Democrat Chair has decided to turn a blind eye to this blatant violation of open and transparent government. Kevin Knuth is constantly complaining about a lack of transparency when dealing with Republicans; however, it does not seem to bother him when our Democratic Mayor does the exact same thing...

Kevin Knuth, it is NOT complicated. Our Mayor PROMISED me that the City would provide me with all of the financial information associated with Harrison Square BEFORE it was introduced at City Council. He did this in a public setting with about sixty witnesses. Heck ask Karren Goldner or Jeff Pruitt (Local Democrats) if you need some verification.

I have not been given one single paragraph of information to date and not one of my financing questions (I submitted 58 questions in writing) has been answered since my meeting with Pat Roller in early March.

This is disgraceful and it is wrong.

The City forced me to file Freedom of Information Requests so that I can review basic financial information.

Before I went Downtown today I called Councilman Tom Didier. I told him that I was angry that I have not been given ANY of the information that I was promised. Councilman Didier was quite surprised. He told me he would call the Mayors office personally and that he would make sure I got the information I was promised...

I sat in a room with both The Deputy Mayor and The City attorney a couple of hours later. Neither gave me any information.

I talked to Councilman Didier tonight and he wanted to make sure I got all of the information I requested. I told him that I still have received nothing and he was very surprised. He told me that he had been told today that I would be given what I have been asking for...

To date I have received nothing...

So much for open and transparent Government in Fort Wayne...

Mike Sylvester

Mayor's office embarasses itself

Please read this article in today's JG:
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/fortwayne/17085797.htm>

I am so mad that I had to go and take a walk...

The City has been working on this deal since December. They THINK they will finalize their "Memorandums of Understanding" TODAY.

They want City Council to vote on this issue TOMORROW.

Early on in this project I expressed my opinion that The Mayor would be trying to "ram this down our throats" without time for a public review of the financing.

I was right, and in fact, it is worse then I thought.

Anyone who wants to review the entire package will have to peruse a couple hundred pages and several different reports... This will take a couple of weeks.

They are giving us less then 24 hours.

What a slap in the face to the citizens of Fort Wayne.

Kevin Knuth must be livid... Kevin Knuth talks about open government a lot. I am sure that Kevin remembers that the Mayor personally promised me that I could review the entire financial proposal and that I would have time to ask questions BEFORE this issue was voted on by City Council. Pat Roller, the City Controller, made a similar promise.

I have contacted both the Mayor's office and Pat Roller's office several times; yet, I hear nothing back. The silence is deafening...

It is a shameful day for Fort Wayne and the Mayor's Office has "slapped us all in the face." This is a "black eye" for the Mayors office and for open Government...

Mike Sylvester

P.S. Kevin Knuth will be proud, I am filing a bunch of Freedom of Information Requests today. I can promise you this, Fort Wayne is going to give me the information that they are required to by law!

Personal Attacks

Too many anonymous posters on this blog are making personal attacks on people on this blog.

I have deleted a couple of recent comments because they are inappropriate.

It is ok to disagree with poeple; however, there is no reason get get nasty...

Mike Sylvester

Harrison Square and the Democratic "at-large" seats on Fort Wayne City Council

Please read this article in the JG:
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/17082762.htm>

It discusses the seven Democratic candidates for the three "at-large" seats on the City Council.

The most interesting thing to me is their stances on Harrison Square.

John Shoaf: Against due to Baseball Stadium.
Denise Porter-Ross: Supports, however, feels stadium should be multi-use.
Eddie Arrington: Against due to Baseball Stadium.
Melvin Billingsly: Against due to Baseball Stadium.
Richard Cline: Against due to Baseball Stadium.
Michael Reef: Opposed to the entire project.
Thomas Essex: Supports.

This is truly amazing to me. Out of the seven Democratic candidates it appears that:
1 Supports it as is
1 Supports is as long as the baseball stadium has mutliple uses
4 are against the project due to the baseball Stadium (They well might support the project
without the Baseball Stadium)
1 is against the entire project

Wow...

Five Democratic candidates oppose the project as it stands and two are in favor of it.

The Mayor and Kevin Knuth may want to ask their candidates why they oppose a project Kevin and the Mayor stridently support...

Mike Sylvester

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nepotism is a large problem in Fort Wayne politics...

Per Wikopedia:

Nepotism refers to the act of favoring relatives and friends because of their relationship to the person displaying the Nepotism rather than because of their abilities. The word nepotism comes from the Latin word 'nepos', meaning "nephew" or "grandchild".

Fort Wayne has a history of nepotism and it is something that angers many residents that I have spoken to.

Realize that the Allen County Republican Party has held "ethics" training in an effort to "teach" people about ethical behavior.

As most of the readers of this blog know the Tax Adjustment Board has been reformed, largely due to the efforts of Mitch Harper over at Fort Waybe Observed.

The Board has six of its seven members already appointed...

Please read about it in this JG article:
<http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/news/17076967.htm>

Lets see if you can determine if there was any nepotism involved in any of the appointees...

Mike Sylvester

P.S. You do not have to look very hard to find multiple cases...

P.S.S. Please let me know if you find any nepotism...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Firehouse Theatre

The Firehouse Theatre is a neat place in Fort Wayne that may close soon and that is extremely sad. The Firehouse Theatre puts on interesting shows and has a lot to offer...

From the Firehouse Theatre:

It is one month until the lease runs out. I believe the owners have agreed to do a 2 month at a time rental, and they have already reduced the rent by $200, so, in theory, we can continue operations without a new lease signer. Still, I have vowed that, never again will I take money from my family's account to pay Firehouse bills. I've done it for a year and that's enough. If we don't have the dough when rent is due again, I will submit notice that we will vacate.

That means that "Senseless Acts" and whatever else is performed (which right now is two band performances on 2 Saturdays) must pull in enough to pay the bills. I calculate we need to sell approximately 64 seats for each of Senseless's 6 performances. We have 73 seats, so, piece of cake. Really.

Note: 6 performances in a month is very small number, yet with just 6 performances and $250 from the two band shows The Firehouse can pay its bills. If another troupe was sharing the show slots and 12 performances a month were selling 64 seats each, we'd be making twice what we need, so the troupes would get paid over $150 per show.

And..... I'd just like to remind people that we did 12 shows a month from end of June to end of November 2006, three per weekend, but without dedicated crew or help it was impossible to do them right and also get out the publicity so audiences were small.

Independent Troupes that can save the Firehouse are forming this week:
Saturday, April 14
3 pm: Mystery Troupe - experienced child and adult actors
4:30: Improv and Comedy Troupes - Enthusiasm and talent needed, experience not required.

Tuesday, April 17, 1 pm:
Days Troupe - composed of home schooled kids and people available to rehearse days - which during the summer is a lot.

Or form your own troupe. If the Firehouse can squeak through a little longer, its stage slots could become very scarce and valuable soon.

Tomorrow, I will send you a tickets and hours pledge form.



Jeannette Jaquish
Firehouse Theater
www.firehouse-fw.com
750-9013

Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Proposed Harrison Square Project

The City has released the study that it paid a consultant to produce.

You can read the study for yourself at:
<http://downtownfortwaynebaseball.blogspot.com/>

I will not have time to look through this carefully for another couple of days; however, I did glance through it

I have several comments about this study and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts:

1. The study in no way, shape, or form discusses any of the negative financial impacts the proposed project will cause. For example, if we build a new hotel it is likely that nearby hotels will see their occupancy rates decrease, which means less tax revenue will be generated from nearby hotels. This is NOT accounted for at all and it certainly should be accounted for.

2. The report refers to another report called the "City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Downtown Community Revitalization Enhancement District, Consultant's Report." I do not know what this report is. I have sent out an email asking Pat Roller where I can find the report. Does anyone who reads this blog know what this report is and where I can find it?

3. This report uses the report mentioned in "2" above to estimate revenues from the InnKeepers tax. Until I read the above report I will not be able to determine what hotel occupancy rate Crowe is using for their revenue projections; however, I can make a guess and here it goes.

Lets assume that the hotel opens Jan 1, 2010. Lets assume that the average room rate charged is $110 per night (Realize they will use several different rates, I am just estimating an average rate). The innkeeper tax is 6% and each retailer is allowed to keep .83% of the total tax collected as a collectors fee.

The Crowe report estimates that the new 250 room hotel will generate $368,450 in revenue from the InnKeeper tax. This would equate to 56,295 rooms rented. This would result in a hotel occupancy rate of 61.7% for 2010 for the new hotel.

Realize that the current hotel occupancy rate for Allen County is between 44% and 48% per the last statistics I have seen.

Realize that there are already three new hotels that are "in the pipeline" to be built in Fort Wayne. These three hotels "in the pipeline" will be built prior to any hotel associated with Harrison Square. There is one going up next to IPFW, one up on Lima Road near the Spiece Fieldhouse, and one up near Parkview North.

Logic would dictate that when four new hotels are built in Fort Wayne the hotel occupancy rates in Fort Wayne will decrease unless four hotels of similar size are closed during the same time period unless Fort Wayne experiences a massive surge in tourism...

Maybe tens of thousands of people will descend on Fort Wayne to watch single A baseball and they will all stay and spend the night in Fort Wayne?

4. Crowe's revenue projection for the income expected to be generated from taxes levied by a brand new 900 space parking garage is very interesting. Crowe is projecting $951 in tax revenue from the new parking garage. $735 of this comes from State Income Tax (Personal) and $216 from County Income Tax.

Editor's note: These figures do not include parking fees, nor do they include parking expenses.

In other words this project would cost at least ten million dollars plus interest and the project will generate $951 in tax revenue the first full year of operation.

5. Another item in this report is the revenue that Crowe is projecting that will be generated by the baseball stadium. Crowe is estimating that the baseball stadium will generate $41,729 due to State Sales tax from its employees in 2010.

Lets get a couple of things straight. The people who currently work for the baseball stadium are already getting paid and this revenue from State income tax is already being generated. This is ex isting income. Please keep this in mind.

6. Talking about the baseball stadium they are projecting $8000 will be generated by the Allen County Food and Beverage Tax (That temporary tax we are all still paying) in 2010. This equates to $800,000 in food sales at the baseball park. I can believe that; however, we are already generating this revenue at Memorial Stadium today.

7. The Construction Impact is typical for this kind of report. It bascially says that we will be spending a ton of money on the construction and this will create temporary jobs.

8. The new hotel is estimated to employ 145 people with average earnings of $21,303 each. Note that if two parents with two children were employed at the motel in 2010 at the average wage they would be below the Federal Poverty level... Not exactly the high paying jobs we have heard about....

9. They are actually projecting that 30,000 square feet of retail will create 157 jobs. This seems extremely high to me. The average retail employee would get $6017 in earnings each. They must all be part time students earning minimum wage. This is not impressive.

10. The baseball park will employ 65 people at an average wage of $23,962 each. These jobs already exist!

11. The parking garage will employ one person at $21,632 per year. They must be projecting a lot of automation...

12. So in total this project is expected to move 368 jobs from one part of the City to another (Economic Re-arrangement at its finest). These jobs will pay an average wage of $15,252. This is below the Federal poverty level. These jobs on average pay significantly less then jobs at WalMart...

I would think that anyone who is "on the fence" would oppose the project after reading this report. It does not paint a pretty economic picture.

Mike Sylvester

Several random thoughts

1. We have 31 tax returns to go...

2. Robert Enders has decided that he will be allowing anonymous comments once he
takes over this blog.

3. I am starting a new blog. I am currently leaning towards starting it after my
family gets back from Germany this summer.

4. Has anyone seen ANYTHING concrete from Fort Wayne regarding projected hotel
occupancy rates for the new hotel they want to subsidize downtown?

Mike Sylvester

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 Indiana Libertarian Convention will be held in Fort Wayne

I hope to see several of the readers of this blog at our Convention that is coming up May 18th-20th.

There are two speakers that you may know from Allen County:

Mitch Harper, Fort Wayne Observed Editor
Andy Downs, Mike Downs Center

The annual Business Meeting and Convention of the Indiana Libertarian Party is just around the corner!

We will be electing a new Chair and Treasurer at the minimum! Rumor has it that we may be electing as many as three new officers. Another rumor claims that there will be at LEAST one contested election. Please plan on attending the Convention and participating in the election of those people who will be charting the course of the Indiana LP!

The Event will be held in Fort Wayne this year. Friday night there will be a reception to honor Mark Rutherford and his service to the Indiana LP. This event will give us a great opportunity to thank Mark Rutherford for his service and for his outstanding leadership, please plan on attending!

The Convention itself will be held at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne on May 19th. We have a full slate of speakers in the morning and the Business Meeting will be held in the afternoon. Members of the 1994 Society will be honored at a reception at the Park Place Grill. A buffet dinner will be provided at the Park Place Grill Saturday evening for all attendees and we will retire to a nearby bar owned by a Fort Wayne Libertarian running for City Council.

Breakfast will be provided Sunday morning at The Hilton and there will be a couple of presentations Sunday morning.

The easiest way to register is online at:
http://www.lpin.org/index.php?q=node/93

Please feel free to contact The LPIN Executive Director to learn more about this exciting event at 317-920-1994. You can also contact Mike Sylvester at 260-338-0833 to learn more about the event.

Please sign up early so that we can properly plan the meals and determine attendance numbers.

Mike Sylvester
Convention Chair

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fort Wayne college graduates

I went back to college a couple of years ago. I graduated from IPFW with a bachelors in business and a specialty in accounting in May of 2006.

I have heard a lot of Harrison Square supporters talk about how the best college students leave Fort Wayne. I know that many do leave Fort Wayne; however, I thought I would list people that I am friends with at IPFW and whether they are staying in this area or if they are leaving. I am just listing those people that I know fairly well that had a very high GPA.

Myself, I am staying in Fort Wayne
Brent, he is staying in Fort Wayne
Doug, he is currently working in Fort Wayne, however, he has accepted a position that will cause him to move before the end of the year. Lets count him as leaving.
Austin, he is staying in Fort Wayne.
Sarah, she is staying in Fort Wayne.
Anthony, he is staying in Fort Wayne.
Brett, he is currently working in Fort Wayne; however, he has accepted a position and is moving to North Carolina this Fall. Lets count him as leaving.

So out of seven students that I know fairly well, five are employed in Fort Wayne and chose to stay in Fort Wayne. Two are currently in Fort Wayne but accepted positions that will take them from Fort Wayne.

Six of the above seven people were Accounting majors and one a Finance major. The average GPA of the above people is 3.8 or higher. 5 of the 7 have chosen to stay in Fort Wayne.

The demand for accounting graduates is very large right now. I would say that everyone could have moved to about any City and got a job in Accounting...

The majority of these students are not leaving Fort Wayne...

Mike Sylvester

Has Mike Sylvester been "brain-washed?"

Robert Enders has a great sense of humor. In a comment yesterday Robert opines that I am being "brain-washed" in regards to Harrison Square...

I am still against the Harrison Square Project as proposed; however, my opinion about the need to attract and retain young qualified workers has changed over the last few days.

I always thought that people would move based on employment. I have done this throughout my life. I feel that people my age (39) and older have tended to move to a new geographic location due to employment.

After talking to several people and looking at various statistics it seems to me like this trend has possibly changed over the last ten - fifteen years. It seems that many young people actually move to a location without having a job and then look for a job. This is a complete change from my generation and from generations before mine. To be honest with you this change makes no sense to me at all. Throughout my life I have always looked for a job and then moved to the job. I have done it over and over. It seems logical to me. I have never really cared where I lived in the past.

If the above assumption is true, and I think that it is, then I now think it is more important to make Fort Wayne attractive to young individuals. I think we need to look at other cities of a similar size in the Midwest and we need to ensure that we are competitive with them as far as being able to attract young talent.

That does not mean I am in favor of Harrison Square. I do not think that moving a Single A Baseball Stadium downtown will attract young talent. I do not think building another hotel downtown will attract young talent. I do not think building a new Parking Garage will attract young talent.

I am now willing to consider other projects that would be attractive to the "younger" crowd.

Mike Sylvester

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Interesting post over at "Change Fort Wayne"

Based on a thread that started on this blog "Change Fort Wayne" has posted a thread on his blog that shows some statistics that are put out by a group called "CEO's for Cities." You can see their data at:
<http://www.ceosforcities.org/rethink/research/files/CEOsforCitiesAttractingYoungEducatedPres2006.pdf>

I think that this presentation is very interesting and it actually would tend to disprove or at least disagree with one of my opinions I posted about earlier.

I have always felt that people move to a location due to employment. Looking at my own life I have moved for employment three times and my fourth move was due to family. That is just me and it proves little. I feel that people my age and people who are older then me (I am 39) tend to move based on employment. I have always felt (and been taught) that the most important thing in my life is my family; however, employment is a close second.

The data from the report I linked to above tends to disagree with my belief.

"According to their data 64% of college-educated 25 to 34 year olds report that they will make the decision of where they live first, then look for a job within that area."

When I got out of the navy I had several good friends that got out about the same time I did (1995). We were from all over the US and were stationed in Hawaii. Here is what we did:

1. Myself, I moved to Nebraska due to employment.
2. Dave Montero, he moved to Oregon based on employment.
3. Jan Nimick, he moved to California for emplyment.
4. Devin Demot, he moved to Oregon for employment.
5. "Hooch," he moved to a remote Pacific Island for employment at a weapons disposal facility.

We all moved based on employment. Most of us sent out 500 to 1000 resumes all over the country. Most of us had an associates degree and a skill as a mechanic, electrician, or electronics technician. We would most likely have been considered maintenance or operations people and none of us had a Bachelors Degree.

Maybe the world has changed more then I think. Maybe it is true that college graduates now move based on location more often then employment. If true, this would really "blow my mind."

That would actually change some of my thoughts on economic development.

I am very curious as to what you think about this issue.

Please list your personal experiences with moving in the comment section and please let us know why you moved each time you did move.

Mike Sylvester

How to improve Fort Wayne

I think there are a lot of things we can do to improve Fort Wayne.

Dave Corcoran mentioned one in a comment he left yesterday that I would like to discuss.

Dave thinks that our local universities need to offer more advanced degrees.

I certainly agree with Dave on this issue. I would like to see more collaboration between local universities and I would like to see a wider variety of advanced degrees offered.

Mike Sylvester

Anonymous posting

I have decided not to allow anonymous posting on my new blog. I tend to think that you should be willing to be associated with anything that you write.

There are a few people who just go from blog to blog and insult people and do not have the courtesy of identifying themselves.

I plan on allowing people to post under fictional handles. That way I can associate a name or handle with posters and block any that post inappropriate items...

Mike Sylvester

Friday, April 06, 2007

Andrew Kaduk deserves a response!

Andrew Kaduk made the following comment to my post "Fort Wayne Problems." Andrew Kaduks comment is posted in its entirety and is in italics!

My reply to Andrew is in red. I am afraid I am going to go on a rant...

Let's build a quick hypothetical here:
I love hypotheticals...

I want to open a light manufacturing firm building circuit boards for communications electronics. I will employ 4 SMT techs, 10 electronic engineers, an 8-man sales staff, a 4-man shipping department, and a hybrid admin/customer service department.
I would love to see a company like this come to Fort Wayne! Maybe a bunch of the "young professionals" who will flock to Fort Wayne if we build a new single A baseball stadium will start this hypothetical company (A little sarcasm for you Andrew).

That's 30 jobs ranging from $25k to $125k per year.
OK, I will assume your salaries are correct.

I will need bright, young, creative engineers and salespeople, not some hayseed hicks that got suckered into giving Employment One $175 dollars...
Are you saying that people from rural backgrounds are not bright, young, and creative? Do you think that the only people who are bright, young, and creative come from urban areas?

This is quite possibly one of the dumbest comments I have heard during the entire Harrison Square discussion and it is deserving of the rant that follows!

I spent my first nine years on a farm a few miles outside of Albany, Indiana. Then we moved to Fort Wayne and I lived here until I was 22 years old. I guess I must be a "hayseed" according to Andrew Kaduk!

Heck, I will use myself as an example and I would be happy to compare my background with yours or with that of some of the other people who think that a single A baseball stadium being built downtown will draw a lot of high paying jobs to Fort Wayne.

Lets see I have spent:
4 years in sales (Some of this time I also pumped gas at a station on the south side of
Fort Wayne and worked as a uniformed security guard for minimum wage)
6 years as an Electronics Technician in a naval nuclear power plant on a nuclear powered
submarine. Heck, I was the only enlisted man in Hawaii who was qualified Engineering
Watch Supervisor as an E-5 in Hawaii during 1994 and 1995. Oh yes, naval nuclear A
school and naval nuclear power school were ranked as the 2nd and 3rd most difficult
college level programs in America (Behind MIT) when I attended them.
3 years as an electrician in a steel mill. I am a card carrying Journeyman electrician.
1 year as an automation technician in a food processing plant.
4 years as the Maintenance Manager in a local factory.
3 years in a public accounting firm.

Lets see I currently have a fair amount of education for a "hayseed" to go along with my work experience:
I currently have 239 college credits from various institutions of higher learning.
I have a Bachelors degree and multiple Associates degrees.
I am a member of a couple of national honors societies.
I am waiting on my paperwork to be filed and I will be a Certified Public Accountant.

Lets see:
As an adult I have worked as:
A salesman, pumped gas at a Fort Wayne gas station, worked as a uniformed security
guard in Fort Wayne, an Electronics Technician, an operator in a civilian nuclear
power plant, an electrician in a steel mill, an electrician in a foundry, an automation
technician, a maintenance manager, and as an accountant.

Lets see:
I have lived and worked in eight states as an adult and I have travelled to about 20
different countries and a couple of US Territories. I have been to the actual North Pole
and I have been in six of the worlds major oceans.

Lets see:
My wife and I are currently shopping for a commercial building which we will be
purchasing; not leasing I think that we will hire half a dozen employees in this area in
the next few years... We will run a business and Fort Wayne and I have confidence that
we will be a successful small company.

Now do not get me wrong; I am not the smartest guy in the world, I am not particularly creative; however, I am not a "hayseed" and you are displaying extreme and unmitigated ignorance if you think that there are not a lot of bright and educated individuals in Fort Wayne.

You should spend some time at ITT, IPFW, Ivy Tech, and the like. You may find some bright young professionals if you look for them...

How am I going to find those 20 employees here? There is absolutely nothing to draw people like that to Fort Wayne unless they like one-story strip malls and Wal Mart.That being said, how in the hell is Fort Wayne supposed to attract businesses like this? These are the types of businesses that make our economy strong...without providing some legitimate features and benefits that would interest young, smart, marketable people, there can't be a talent pool here deep enough to even get employers to look our way. Employees like these are in demand all over the country...
There are a lot of people in Fort Wayne who can fill these jobs. Fort Wayne has a large number of engineers and the various other skills that this small company would require. We have had a lot of companies like you described here for many years and we have a large number of people who could fill these jobs. A lot of companies similar to the one you described have went out of business in this area, there are literally hundreds of people in this area who could work for the company you described. Heck, with my background I would have the qualification necessary to fill many of the above jobs myself.

Also there is a large number of facilities this company could rent and rent or lease for a very low price! There is a lot of commercial space available and it is very inexpensive.

I'd like for Mike or AWB to explain to me in writing how you suggest we make our bait look better than that being offered in other places. THAT is what this discussion is about...a viable, fun, vibrant city that can be attractive to the kind of talent that makes businesses successful, innovative etc.
I do not think that we have to have a vibrant City. I think we have to have a City with lower taxes and fewer regulations. This will cause companies to move to Fort Wayne and expand in Fort Wayne. To be honest with you Andrew Fort Wayne has about everything that my wife and I want in a City. We occasionally travel to Indianapolis, Chicago, etc if there is something we want to do that is not available in Fort Wayne. Heck we are going to Germany this summer. Fort Wayne does not need to have every possible amenity; I am more then capable of driving or flying to other locations...

Building a new Single A Baseball Stadium Downtown does NOTHING to draw jobs to Fort Wayne Andrew.

Mike Sylvester, rant over...

Fort Wayne problems

The largest problem in Fort Wayne today is the fact that our wages are 83% of the national average. We need to attract more and higher paying jobs to Fort Wayne and we need to retain those that we have. If we can improve wages and employment in Fort Wayne then we can deal with some of our other problems.

The low wages in Fort Wayne hurt us in several ways:

1. Residents of Fort Wayne pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes then most other states. I have posted about this before. Fort Wayne residents pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes then the average California resident. This leaves us with less disposable income.

2. Many younger people are leaving Fort Wayne due to a lack of opportunities. This will cause us large problems down the road.

3. Residents do not have a lot of disposable income to spend.

4. Property taxes are rising rapidly and it is really hurting our ability to attract new businesses. This has to be resolved.

In my opinion we need our elected officials to focus on local jobs and wages. There is nothing else that is as important as this issue.

I think that we can attract and retain jobs by doing the following:

1. Lower taxes on businesses. I want to do this across the board. I am tired of granting tax abatements to a few businesses and ignoring small businesses. We need to lower taxes. The best first step would be to abolish personal property taxes in Allen County.

2. We need to streamline our permits and our regulations we put on business owners. Several businesses have left Fort Wayne because they did not want to deal with the "red tape."

3. We need to stop spending money and increasing the debt our local government has incurred. We should only incur debt if it will draw new jobs and money to this area. Extraneous projects need to be put on hold.

Mike Sylvester