Friday, April 25, 2008

Demographics pose pressing dilemma: Renew or reinvent

Such is the ideal scenario of e-government and public sector renewal - senior managers open to change, willing to listen, and prepared to empower younger workers within their organizations to lead renewal efforts aimed at the nexus between digital and organizational innovation. Such is a key to both government relevance and renewal in the coming decade.Conversely, a more ominous scenario may be taking shape, one driven by widening concerns about a massive exodus of the senior management cadre across the federal and most provincial governments. Such departures, according to some, can only mean a critical loss of talent, knowledge and organizational memory at a time when the public sector confronts increasingly complex and managerial challenges.

Governments are thus beginning to at least consider the prospect of incentive packages for people to stay (a dramatic reversal of the mid-1990s program review era). New mechanisms, such as external audit committees (called for by the Federal Accountability Act) will also provide venues for many retired senior officials to exercise influence. It's also not completely unthinkable that many government executives may choose to stay longer as mandatory retirement becomes more the exception than the norm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brant Taxpayers-doing something to reduce energy costs

Brant Power Amalgamation
Comments and recommendations from the Brant Taxpayer Coalition

It was recently reported that Brant County power is considering an amalgamation with Brantford power. Let us examine some of the historical facts associated with Brantford power. Eleven years ago the city of Brantford took over the Public Utilities Commission. All employees of the Public Utilities Commission became employees of the city of Brantford. Despite promises of massive savings, hydro rates, water rates, and municipal taxes went up. The city of Brantford sold services back to Brantford Hydro. This is a structure that is unique in Ontario. The original structure was put in place in order to allow the city to charge what some consider bloated administration costs to the hydro customers. There is a concern in the community that any merger with Branford could be caught in this same dilemma and even more concern that the costs for Brant power and the costs for city and county consumers would rise.

The best solution, if Brant County is merger minded, is to look for a partner who can provide reduced power costs for the county and its customers. The proposal from Horizon Utilities may provide this. As such, it probably should be explored in more detail. There are also other bordering utilities that could provide a similar solution.

If the costs can be reduced and if the agreement can provide reasonable safeguards for Brant County, the hydro costs would go down and the resulting attraction for economic development would be dramatic. It would be worth an independent feasibility study to determine the best course of action. Wise, judicious visible public negotiations could provide a boon for Brant County. We recommend that an outside, local consultant be commissioned to provide immediate short term strategic input so that Brant County can make an informed and correct decision on all available energy providers and least cost alternatives prior to the October decision deadline. The city of Brantford should commission a similar study.

We, the Brant Taxpayers Coalition, support any taxpayer friendly strategy that reduces costs to the end user, and that is consumer and business friendly. We feel that this strategy would promote and stimulate positive economic activity in our area.

Sieg Holle BS MBA
Communications Director
Brant –Taxpayers Coalition

Business News - IRS's private tax collectors losing money - ArcaMax Publishing

Business News - IRS's private tax collectors losing money - ArcaMax Publishing: "IRS's private tax collectors losing money
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Hiring private companies to chase after modest tax debts expects to be a losing deal for the Internal Revenue Service, critics say."

When the cost to collect exceeds the revenue collected what would you do?

Three companies hired in 2006 to recover $1 billion in unpaid taxes have so far secured a little more than half of what the program costs, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The companies, which have recovered $49 million, keep 24 percent on commissions, the Post reported. Overall, the program Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., calls "the hood ornament for incompetence," is expected to lose $37 million, the newspaper report said. "It makes no sense at all to be turning over these tax accounts to private tax collectors that end up costing the taxpayers money," Dorgan said. David Alito, director of collection for the IRS, said the agency "wouldn't get down to this level, not that we wouldn't have made an attempt." The IRS uses private collectors to recover uncontested tax bills to help close the gap in an estimated $345 billion in taxes owed, the report said.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

School's out - on home learning

Home school learning unconstitutional?

Right to homeschool jeopardized by activist court
Once again, our personal freedoms are under assault. And this time, those doing the assaulting are the very people who are supposed to be protecting our rights. The issue boils down to a very simple question: who has the right to raise the children of this country? Parents or the State?
In the eyes of the 2nd Appellate Court of Los Angeles, parental rights are ceded to the State right after one's offspring leaves the womb. This California appeals court recently ruled that the parents of a staggering 166,000 students in the state could face criminal sanctions for – are you ready for this – homeschooling their children.

As unbelievable as it sounds, this ruling reversed an earlier decision by a California Superior Court judge stating that "parents have a constitutional right to school children in their own home."
The homeschooling issue has, unfortunately, become something of a political football as the movement has gathered momentum over the past decade or so. A small but growing band of parents has opted out of the public school education system, often for a variety of reasons from the religious to the moral to the purely educational. Regardless of the reasons for the shift, one look at the news stories about the sex and violence in our schools (let alone the severe dip nationwide in the public schools' basic skills test scores), and it's a wonder that there aren't more families that are homeschooling.

But now, thanks to an amazingly wrong-headed decision by irresponsible (and, I suspect, activist) judges, homeschooling could be removed from the equation for parents, forcing them to send their children to public school – or face criminal charges.

Who do you attack first? The alleged "child advocates" or this idiot Croskey? Either way, it's apparent that what's primarily on their mind is the reinforcement of their agenda – NOT the interest of the Long children.

How can ANYONE with the gall to call themselves a "child advocate" possibly endorse taking children out of a homeschooling program and tossing them back into the cesspool of the Los Angeles public school system? What "child advocate" would prefer to put children in an environment of schools that need armed security and metal detectors, and that have low test scores, and even lower graduation rates?
And as for "Justice" Croskey, you won't believe the unmitigated gall of the ruling! The ruling affirmed that the original trial court had found evidence that "keeping children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the chidrens' lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' "cloistered" setting.

Read that again and see if you don't want to drive out to L.A. and give this Croskey character a piece of your mind. Since when has it EVER been the business of the state to be sure that MY children interact with people outside of MY family!? Since when has it EVER been the business of the state to determine what is or is not a "cloistered" environment? And when has the emotional development of MY children EVER been the business of some government bureaucrat?

It's truly a mind-boggling ruling. It's one of the biggest assaults on our personal rights and freedoms that I've come across in years. And it could only come from the mind of a liberal activist judge – because only a liberal could possibly believe that it's better to take a child out of a loving home with involved parents (and you won't find any parent more involved in their child's life than a homeschooling parent), and put them into the nation's questionable public schools.
Of course, liberals want kids in the public schools, because it's the liberals that set the agenda of those schools – and they don't want to miss out on the ability to brainwash our kids with their left-wing, politically correct nonsense.

The only good thing about this ruling is that it is so wildly unconstitutional that it's almost guaranteed to be kicked up to the next highest court. And even if it has to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, I'd be stunned if this ruling wasn't eventually overturned at some level. But in the meantime, please help spread the rage.

Schooling you on outrageous court decisions, William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.