Does this forum need a “paradigm shift”???????
Posted: 14 November 2012 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  799
Joined  2012-10-10

Wynn… When Kuhn coined the phrase “paradigm shift”, in 1962, I doubt he ever dreampt the phrase would be used a few dozen times in a single City Commission meeting by a single commissioner.  I understand you feel changes are needed in how social services are funded.  We get that.  I just do not see this as some monumental milestone marking a “paradigm shift” in the governance of our fair City… at least not to the extent of using one single descriptive term over and over and over…

In the very recent past, we had another city commissoner who used the word “echo” many, many times during public meetings.  She “echoed” and “echoed” and “echoed” what other commissioners said.  By the end of the meetings, everyone thought they were in an ‘echo chamber’, we had heard ‘echos’ so often.  That’s about how worn the phrase “paradigm shift” is becoming….

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 November 2012 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

Glad you watched the event last night.  I used the term as a heading for a document that I shared with SSAB, City Staff, the Commission and several other folks in the City as a starting point for discussion.  I think it is a good term as it meshes with change proposals on the way the City plans, budgets and provides guidance to SSAB.  The shift is not minor.  Some of the key points:

1.  A smaller board that is more in an advisory role and less in the roll of agency advocate.

2.  A refined definition of Social Services that relates agencies to Core City Functions.

3.  Elimination of the open ended approach to SSAB.  Fund a few agencies that are vital to the City; four, five or six, but not ten.

4.  A limit on city funding at some level in the realm of 250K.

5.  Greater integration of private funding sources in the total equation.  But the private funds do not replace the tax funds advocated in item four.

6.  Make the SSAB and advocacy agency to assist with private donations.  To include the City Water Bill donation program.

A copy of the document (Social Services a Paradigm Shift) can be found at http://ourmanhattan.org/manhattancitycommission/socialservicesandtaxes.html

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t?  And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money—if a gun is held to his head.—P.J. O’Rourke

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 November 2012 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  962
Joined  2012-10-12

We get it Wynn.  Charity is a bad thing.  We should not burden ourselves with the less fortunate.  Let them eat cake if they have no bread.  Government should have no responsibility here.  The government’s responsibility is, essentially to ensure that there are nice trees on Poyntz Avenue.  We must keep our priorities in the proper order…Trees first, humans, second.  That is the way it works, right?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 November 2012 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  799
Joined  2012-10-10

During Tuesday’s meeting… and in the above post… Wynn keeps referring to “agencies that are vital to the City”.  That’s an interesting concept.  Agencies that might be vital to the less fortunate for food, shelter, and clothing are not vital to the City??!!??  I doubt any one of the five serving City Commissioners make less than $100,000/year.  There are a couple on the Commission who I suspect have annual income exceeding $200,000.  Yet, they will argue for hours over how an advisory board recommends spending $3,000. 

Who defines what is “vital” to a community?  Do we ask those who have the resources… and backing of the ‘shadow government’... to spend the time and dollars required to run for public office?  Or, do we ask those who have seen unemployment or illness or broken homes devestate their ability to clothe their children? 

We have City employees who have monthly car allowances exceeding the monthly income of some of our citizens.  We applaud spending $500,000 tax dollars to entice a fertilizer manufacturer to occupy a City owned building and he may employ 10 people.  We “micro manage” the spending of $5,000 if it goes to the needy and we have any possibility of shutting it down.

Is every dollar of SSAB funds spent exactly as I would deem best?  Of course not!  However, the public posturing against anything having to do with social services and the quoting of “those crowned as Saints by the Tea Party” is getting old.  Our elected officials would do a far greater service to the community by spending time in Topeka, working to change the RCPD charter or taking hard looks at potential overstaffing of the upper tier at City Hall or how much City money is spent by employees with cell phone data plans as they chat on Facebook or Twitter or any number of items rather than attemting to legislate depletion of assistance funds to those who are in need.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 November 2012 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

Michael:  Charity is clearly a good thing. I would never infer otherwise.  Charity is excellent.  My point is that government should not give tax dollars to charity.  If individuals wish to donate to agencies then they should do so.  Many methods are in place for folks to donate to the ten SSAB agencies and any other agencies they wish to support.  The City even set up a method to help facilitate collection of charity through the water bill donation program.  I am still waiting on all the charitable folks that signed the SOS petition to begin donating.  Much effort is expended in trying to force government to donate tax dollars – your neighbor’s money or other people’s money.  The quote by P.J. O’Rourke captures the issue. If folks really care about the agencies then they should be able to collect enough charitable donations to manage operations.  Many agencies already do that.  Why is that the 10 selected by SSAB are unable to operate without city funding?  They must not be as efficient as Flint Hills Bread Basket or the Flint Hills Community Clinic, two very excellent charities that never ask for a dime of your tax dollar.

Larry:  Who deems what is vital?  At present that appears to be the SSAB, they collect the requests for funds and advocate for selected agencies.  I guess they determined them to be vital.  We have many more than ten agencies that fit the social services or charitable label.  Yet only ten take/ask for our tax dollars.  That is central to the issue.  I have suggested that instead of total elimination of support for SSAB we try to link that support to the impact on core services like Fire, Police etc.  I will not go into detail as that was explained in the link provided in the earlier post.  I have put forth a concept of change for consideration.  Many of you may be happy with an appointed board donating 300 to 500K of you tax money to charity each year, but others are not.  Some want zero donations and some want an increase.  The proposal presented is a mid-road plan.
Maybe we should consider putting it to public vote?  Add it to the ballot, but not in the format proposed by SOS.  A simple ballot question -Should Manhattan spend $300,000 to $500,000 of tax funds each year on charitable agencies selected by a citizen board appointed by the Mayor? 

As for the other budget items you mention RCPD, Cell Phones, Staffing, we might add travel expense to places like Washington D.C. – all of those were up for discussion on the last day of the 2013 budget vote.  The discussion was cut short by those that want to give away tax dollars to charity, desire trips to Washington D.C. consider the debt to be manageable and believe that your taxes are too low.  They were quick to motion for a vote and increase the Mil Levy.  Check the budget votes for last year - the final budget vote was 3-2 for the City and 5-2 for RCPD budget. 

Final comment on the Fertilizer factory; I am sure you are aware that the 2002 sales tax initiative was used to finance that item under the economic development program.  That money could not be donated to charity to support the needy. 

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 November 2012 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  799
Joined  2012-10-10

Two quick points, Wynn.  First, you state “... government should not give tax dollars to charity”.  You further argue that some benevolent agencies apply for assistance and some don’t.  As was explained during the earlier budget discussion… and reiterated Tuesday… we have organizations who depend of grants from various federal agencies.  They cannot apply for those grants, most requiring matching funds, on a “wing and a prayer”.  There must be a commitment of support from the municipality for those applications to even be considered.  (I know you are also against any assistance from the feds.  Our social service organizations would be even further strapped if they had to do without both local and federal dollars.)  Some social service organizations either do not have need for federal grants or do not apply for federal grants.  Those organizations do not require the committed dollars of the groups who do depend on the grants.

You suggest putting social services forward as a ballot question.  Your proposed question is extremely condescending.  Why not be more truthful?  “Should Manhattan spend $300,000 to $500,000 from each budget year’s General Fund to support social service agencies meeting the standards set forth in the Social Service Agency Policy established by the City Commission.”

Wynn, you continue to refer to all these organizations as “charities”.  These are social service… SERVICE… organizations performing functions necessary for food, health, and shelter of many less fortunate citizens of our community.  How are these organizations any different from the Health Department or the Street Department?  Shouldn’t each citizen be responsible for clearing the street in front of their home?  Why should we have to pay taxes to see the Street Department come by with a snow plow… if I don’t plan on going to the store that day?  Why should my tax dollars go to clear the streets for my neighbors?  Likewise, why should my tax dollars go to assist my neighbors who cannot afford to clothe their children?  Sheesh! 

I appreciate the fiscal conservatism we needed on the City Commission.  The pendelum was stuck clear over on the left side… and had been stuck there for too many years.  However, when that pendelum swung… it swung hard!!  To have the pendelum hover near the center arc… to have that pendelum seek to not be stuck hard right or stuck hard left seems to be difficult.  It is sad, in my opinion, elected officials will slash the services important to the most needy of our community by tagging them as “charity” that should be supported through private donations. 

How much of the angst against SSAB is simply ego/micro management where certain commissoiners noses are out of joint because they can’t play “God” and pick the winners or losers?  Or, is it that the “pretty people” would rather see these organizations come to them for donations that would result in large tax deductions and someone’s name engraved on a donor plaque in the organization’s lobby?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 November 2012 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  141
Joined  2012-10-21

I recall the commission had an opportunity to put a ballot question to voters and figured out a way to claim it was “invalid.”  So, in a nutshell, tax dollars used for “welfare” for the disadvantaged = bad.  Tax dollars used for “corporate welfare” = good.  Do I have that right?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 November 2012 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

We can call the organizations service organizations and/or charities; choice of words in either case is fine.  During the application process some of the agencies always mention the grant process.  It plays a role for some, but not many specifics are included in the requests.  In either case the concept put forth would actual enhance the grant potential for the prioritized five agencies.  Are the agencies different that the Street Department?  Yes, the street department is a city core function, the agencies are not. 

I tossed in the comment about a ballot question to highlight what the current program is all about.  Kathy is correct that the Commission did not allow the SOS petition to be put on the ballot for the primary reason that it did not pass the legal departments review.  The proposal of a 2% general fund commitment each year to SSAB was a budget problem.  This was a clear effort to not save social services or maintain them at the current level, but to increase the commitment.  During the public discussions it became clear the many in the city like the general concept of support for social services, but were not fully aware of the current commitment in terms of dollars and were unaware of the specific agencies that were supported.  The proposal that I have put forth does not have anything to do with the good bad equation that Kathy presented.  I think that may be a reference to the Jobs PAC advertisements.  What I have proposed is a targeted support of selected, high return social services/charities at a tax supported level in the neighborhood of 250K.  This has nothing to do with corporate welfare, though it does relate to the City Budget. 

The proposal put forth is fairly simple: Fund the current SSAB structure at around 250K, focus efforts on fewer agencies so as to achieve greater results, enhance awareness, and finally ramp up alternate private donations to support and be in addition to tax dollars provided by the government. The Liquor Drink Law sales tax support in terms of dollars and agencies selected by the Special Alcohol Advisory Board would remain unchanged. 

What is the total picture for Social Services/Charities and city support?  For budget year 2013 the supported agencies and dollar amounts were:

SSAB:  Big Brother/Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, Crisis Center, Homecare & Hospice, Kansas Legal Services, KSU Child Development Center, Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Shepherd’s Crossing, CASA, UFM— $354,925 dollars from the General Fund.

Special Alcohol Programs:  Big Brother/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Manhattan Emergency Shelter, CASA and UFM receive support from both funds.  Other agencies support by the Special Alcohol fund were – KSU Drug Education Service, Pawnee Mental Health, Riley City Youth Court, Riley County Community Corrections – Juvenile, Riley County Community Corrections-Adult, The Restoration Center, and USD 383.  $429,566 generated from the Liquor Drink tax.
The total government support of SSSAB agencies will be $354,925 from the General Fund and $116,223 from the Drink tax.  Grand total of $471,158.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 November 2012 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  479
Joined  2012-10-10

In the earlier post I failed to include a reply to Larry’s comment - Your proposed question is extremely condescending. Why not be more truthful? “Should Manhattan spend $300,000 to $500,000 from each budget year’s General Fund to support social service agencies meeting the standards set forth in the Social Service Agency Policy established by the City Commission.”

I did intend it to be as written, a simple ballot question –“Should Manhattan spend $300,000 to $500,000 of tax funds each year on charitable agencies selected by a citizen board appointed by the Mayor?”  If this was voted yes, it would in fact make the SSAB the responsible group for picking and spending the dollars within the 300k to 500K framework.  The Commission would no longer be the final say on the commitment.  Nothing untruthful or misleading in that statement, but maybe I was unclear as to the intent. (clearly it would need to be worded better before being placed on the ballot so as to communicate the true intent).  This would make the SSAB more like the library board, it would have real authority to spend your dollars.  A charter ordinance empowering the SSAB could achieve the same result.

Profile
 
 
   
 

Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | The Manhattan Mercury, 318 North 5th Street, Manhattan, Kansas, 66502

Reproduction of any kind is prohibited without written consent.