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Posted: 29 March 2013 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
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A candidate for City Commission is also a leader of the SOS (Save Our Social Services) group.  That group has filed suit against the City and a hearing date is set.  Can a sitting commissioner sue the municipality she represents?

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Posted: 29 March 2013 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Larry, I am not a plaintiff in the lawsuit and neither are the other people listed in the last paragraph in the article.  The Mercury made a serious fact error in its report and has been asked to make a correction.  Those names came from a copy of a petition that must have been included as an example when the case was filed.

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Posted: 29 March 2013 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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But you are listed as an “organizing member” and “co-chair” on the SOS Facebook page.  Would not the co-chair of an entity litigating the City be party to that litigation?  If elected, would you recuse yourself from any City Commission discussions about the litgation?

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Posted: 29 March 2013 07:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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SOS as an entity is not a party to the litigation and is not a plaintiff.  Four individuals filed the suit against the city.

If elected, would I need to recuse myself regarding discussions in connection with litigation?  Yes, I would.

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Posted: 29 March 2013 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Larrry, et. al.:

Debbie Nuss is correct: She is not a plaintiff in the case. We will run a correction in Sunday’s paper.

—Ned

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Posted: 30 March 2013 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Good technical point that Debbie Nuss and the other names mentioned are not official plaintiff’s.  That is good as one of the signatories was Jamie Morris-Hardeman, CASA Director and has a financial interest in the entire event – as CASA is one of the specific 10 Social Service agencies that is tax supported.    The real point is that those folks that signed this petition are willing to raise your taxes to support ten agencies, not all social services, but just the ten.  This tax support is really a forced donation.  The point that maybe should have been included in the article is the dollar amount that is advocated.  It was billed as 2% of the general fund.  Does not sound like much until you look at the budget.  The General Fund for 2013 is $25,993,571.  2% of that amount would be $519,871.  The ten Social Services agencies received $354,920 in the 2013 budget from the city.  The SOS petition was an attempt to increase that amount by $164,951.  The general fund finances most city operations.  2% of that fund is currently being used to support grants/outside agencies.  The grants include the social services and other outside agencies like MAC, Wolf House, aTa on demand service, and Good Neighbors Program.  These grants actually amounted to $606,308 to outside agencies, more than 2%.  A dedication of 2% of the general fund to the ten social service agencies will either have to result in some increase in tax revenue from some source, or other services must be reduced – like MAC and aTa.  The other point of interest is that five of the same social service agencies are provided money through the Special Alcohol Fund (sales tax generated from alcohol sales).  The total grants from that fund last year were $429,566.  $115,963 was provided to five of the social services agencies that are also supported by the general fund.  So the reality is that the city provided in 2013 a total of $470,883 to the ten social service agencies.  Passing an ordinance to require 2% of the general fund to be dedicated to ten social services agencies selected by an appointed committee does not serve the interest of the tax paying citizen.

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Posted: 31 March 2013 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hilarious. Wynn, it’s not a “technical point,” it’s the truth. Even Ned said so.  I seem to recall commissioners recusing themselves from votes on issues before. Here’s one where Jankovich recused himself. And another. And another. Aaaaand another. So let’s not pretend to be wringing our hands over Nuss potentially needing to recuse herself, okay?

So Wynn, you’re saying that more than 10 social service agencies are tax supported, and the lawsuit is deliberately omitting some of those services. Which services are those? Surely you’re not calling MAC a social service.

If I’m understanding your wall o’ text with all those figures haphazardly tossed around correctly, SOS is currently getting $354,920 in the 2013 budget, and wants $164,951 more. You state that means taxes will have to be raised and this increase “does not serve the interest” of the tax paying citizen. By my estimate, the cost of that $164K distributed evenly amongst all residents of Manhattan is a grand total of $3 per year per person. If you include the transient population like students and military, that makes it even less than $3 per person per year.

Now, Manhattan does have a sizable amount of the population below the poverty line, and I’d include that in the figures as people who shouldn’t need to pay the $3 (thus raising the total, ahem, “burden” on others) but the only stats I can find include students who (a) are often not residents of MHK but of other towns, and (b) often get income from family or financial aid which puts them above the poverty line. So I’m sticking with the original estimate of $3 per person to cover the extra funds SOS is seeking.

This does not seem unreasonable to me. I do not understand why some commissioners and citizens say it’s okay to “force” me to give a donation to businesses like Dial or the mall so they don’t have to pay taxes or full price on property, but these commissioners will then say they’re trying to protect me from a $3 per year “forced donation” to social services. I don’t need protection from that.

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Posted: 31 March 2013 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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That was a poor excuse for a correction:  “The first four people listed were plaintiffs.”  Yeah, well, who were they?  The correction, of course, doesn’t say, so any reader who wants to know has to dig out Friday’s edition from their recycling bin to find out.

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Posted: 31 March 2013 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I do not have a problem with commissioners not voting when a conflict is in place.  I have done that twice on minor issues when it involved a contract that my brother in law bid on and when it involved Mercy Hospital where my wife works as a nurse. 

The point is that while certain individual are not named in the law suit they sure enough can be associated with the concept of giving away 2% of the general fund.  Those folks support the idea 100%. -they did initiate and sign the petition.  So associating them with the law suit seems very logical and it is a technical issue that they did not initiate the paperwork. 

Glad you liked the numbers.  The data is accurate and from the City 2013 budget book.  Facts are stubborn things. 

I understand that you like the idea of forcing folks to donate to social services.  And as you calculated it is only $3.00 more dollars a head.  It is only 3 dollars is always the line used to support raising taxes.  So it is only three bucks, So go ahead and donated that amount to the city , through the SSAB water bill donation program.  Next somebody will say that not everyone can afford to donate the 3 dollars, so let us take it from them in rent or taxes.  The its only 3 dollars line ended up getting the city a 268 million dollar debt. 
I am against having 10 selected agencies supported by our taxes as determined by an appointed board.  One of those is UFM and it is a real stretch to put that into the same category as the emergency shelter.  We need to support 5 or 6 agencies only, and only those that directly impact other core city services. 

The law suit is of course focused on the concept of SSAB being able to take 2% of the general fund and give it to the agencies they select – currently ten.  That is the issue.  It is a Robin Hood mentality and why those ten?  I would think that if we actually were forced to give 2% of the general fund to social services, we should include all of the agencies.  Salvation Army, Flint Hills Breadbasket and for sure the Mercy Community Clinic should be in line for the tax subsidy (just to name a few). 

I was not part of any of Dial give away projects, that happened before my time on the commission.  My effort on eco devo was to change the tax so it included property tax relief.

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Posted: 31 March 2013 10:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Wynn Butler - 31 March 2013 09:34 PM

I understand that you like the idea of forcing folks to donate to social services.

As long folks are forced to donate our money via property and sales taxes to the city, and as long MHK keeps giving that money to big corporations or using it to build swim parks and ice rinks, then yes, I think it’s the moral, ethical and humane thing to take a small fraction of that money and give it to individuals who need help. Unfortunately, commissioners and other big-name players in this town want MHK to be known as a place that legalized discrimination against LGBT citizens, favors large corporations and frivolous spending over helping people in need, and is home to commissioners wringing their hands over the possibility that public transport will “attract homeless people” to our town.

And it’s a heck of a thing when politicians use their religion as an excuse to legalize discrimination but seem to forget that same religion when it comes to caring for the less fortunate.

Aaaaand yes, my goodness, that was a pathetic correction in the paper. Guess it really would have killed the Merc to flatly and plainly state that Nuss is not part of the lawsuit.

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Posted: 01 April 2013 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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“The law suit is of course focused on the concept of SSAB being able to take 2% of the general fund and give it to the agencies they select . . .”

Technically, this is not correct.  The SSAB does not “take” anything.  The SSAB is an advisory board that makes recommendations to the city commission, and commissioners decide how and where the money goes.  The petition proposed to require 2% of the general fund be used for social services, but again, the SSAB would have an advisory role and would not “take” funds, and final decisions would be in the hands of commissioners.

Stacia, I agree.  Why is the “Robin Hood mentality” fine and supposedly necessary when it involves corporate welfare?

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Posted: 01 April 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Kathy Dzewaltowski - 01 April 2013 02:43 PM

Stacia, I agree.  Why is the “Robin Hood mentality” fine and supposedly necessary when it involves corporate welfare?

the answer is that citizens voted for it as part of the half-cent sales tax.

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Posted: 01 April 2013 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Yes, I get that, and I get that you were against the half-cent sales tax.  And when there was an opportunity to put the issue of social service funding to a public vote, the majority of the commission didn’t want to do it.

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Posted: 01 April 2013 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Kathy Dzewaltowski - 01 April 2013 03:36 PM

Yes, I get that, and I get that you were against the half-cent sales tax.  And when there was an opportunity to put the issue of social service funding to a public vote, the majority of the commission didn’t want to do it.

... as the majority of my commission didn’t want to put the lgbt ordinance to a public vote.

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Posted: 01 April 2013 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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And such a vote would have been nonbinding, rather like the idea to put a fireworks ban on a ballot.  I’m not supportive of the idea of putting human rights to a popular vote.

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Posted: 01 April 2013 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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A few points of clarification, swimming pools are core city functions, the social service agencies are not.  I have advocated that we make five of them (CASA, MESI, Crisis Center, Big Brothers Sisters and Hospice) core and support them to a certain level.  This goes along with my concept of priorities.  If Manhattan becomes known as a city that does not support the needy then it will be because citizens fail to step up and donate.  It has nothing to do with the tax base.  Second, the citizens voted for the ½ cent debt reduction and economic development tax, I am for using the lions share for infrastructure.  The citizens have voted to support eco devo.  Third and most important is that you statement about legalized discrimination against LGBT citizens is nonsense.  The ordinance that I voted against contain a human rights board provision that could put citizens on trial outside the court system.  I believe in equal treatment under the law, not special treatment.  No data exist to substantiate the unfounded claim that discrimination of LGBT citizens is legalized.  I voted against the ordinance based on the Human Rights Board provision, that provision was discriminatory.  We have a separation of powers, executive, legislative and judicial.  The City had a flawed ordinance that mixed legislative and judicial functions.  As far as mass transit goes my opposition to it has nothing to do with attracting homeless to the city.  The fact is that the aTa system losses 97 cents on the dollar.  It (at least the fixed route system) is not viable, the on demand and the campus routes have merit.  It is also very strange that the federal government pulls money from air traffic towers that support full airplanes, but continues to provide funds to empty aTa buses.  One final thought on religion, you know very little if anything about my personal religious views as I have not provided them and have never used them as a justification for any vote.

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