The Way I See It
By cj pollick
Clearwater Expenses - Did you notice the cost of health insurance for city employees in Clearwater compared to larger sister cities such as Tampa and St. Petersburg? It is the highest by $2100 per city employee.
Of course, one of the things that could have been better explained was the cost-shifting of Clearwater's retired city employee health premiums due in great part to the manner in which Clearwater pools risks to then allocate individual health care premiums. Thus, in Clearwater, they place retiree costs for health insurance with the costs of younger working city employees. This tends to lower retiree health premiums but raise younger employee health care premiums. If city taxpayers are paying for all of this coverage, then taxpayers are still paying premiums for retired employees by use of a thing called pooled cost-shifting. Of course, Clearwater's risk management department understands how this works to increase costs to taxpayers.
Some of the financial problems in Clearwater are due to the form of government in which it operates. It has a weak form of mayor leadership and strong city manager form of government. In places like Tampa and St. Petersburg the so-called buck stops at the mayor's desk - - but not in Clearwater. The mayor's office is more ceremonial than CEO. This form of government might have worked for Clearwater when it was a smaller city, but now that is has over 110,000 residents, Clearwater citizens would be best served with a strong mayor form of government (like St Petersburg and Tampa.)
Voters in Clearwater must soon understand that their form of government is hurting them . . . more than they might imagine. Of course, with low voter turn-outs the citizens of Clearwater tend to allow larger special interest groups to run the city (budget.) Perhaps this voter apathy will change due to property taxes and increased spending.
Who Owns The Land? - In Downtown Clearwater there is a question whether the City of Clearwater owns a piece of land (a 20' strip) where a private developer is building highrise condominiums.
It is the same piece of land once owned by Calvary Baptist Church (who sold the property to the developer.)
The developer's attorney says the city does not own the land, the city attorney says different, and Calvary Church folks say check with the Title Company.
The way I see it, the Title Company had better review its records (and cash reserves.)
Florida Lobster Season - Folks who reside in Florida have come to learn that diving for Florida spiny lobster means not missing the two-day recreational lobster season from July 25th to the 26th inclusive. During those two days Florida divers typically motor out to local reefs and/or journey to the Florida Keys to obtain their "bag" limits. Yes, lobster can be found in all Florida waters!
The "bag" limits in the Florida Keys, however, are six legal-size lobsters per person per day (two day total of 12.)
At midnight on the 26th, the recreational Florida lobster season is over.
Regular lobster season opens on August 6th. Commercial lobstermen in Florida may begin to drop their lobster pots prior to that date. If you travel to the Florida Keys you will notice the great numbers of lobster lines with round floating balls to indicate where lobstermen had dropped their traps.
If you have never tried to catch one of the Florida lobster you might be in store for a real adventure. It is not as easy as some might think. In fact, if you snorkel in the Keys for lobster you should plan for some good, heart-throbbing exercise. It's fun - - it's exciting - - it's something to try.
Florida lobsters do not have the meaty claws as do Maine lobster. Florida lobsters are actually a form of large spiny-shelled crawfish and, thus, are not lobster (as in New England.)
Do they taste good?
Try one of the several fine seafood restaurants found advertising in the Gazette. Yes, Florida lobsters are delicious.
See you in the water....
What Do You Do With 1.3 Billion Buyers? - The way I see it, you try to sell 1.3 billion buyers everything they might want.
1.3 billion buyers in China.
Yes, the Chinese have learned from the western world the art of buying cars, motorcycles, boats, electronic equipment, etc., etc. In other words, they have learned how to spend their money, which also means they expect to earn more money to buy the things they want. Sound familiar?
With this huge buyer's market for cars in China, investment experts are talking about oil prices remaining high, in great part due to this new oil market. Potentially, the Chinese oil demand could be larger than the U.S. oil market. (Side note to global warming people: The Chinese do not care about air or water pollutants.)
Large cash Chinese market makes international investors happy. It is no wonder that large multi-national corporations such as Citigroup and AIG are drooling over the westernization of China.
Remember when things made in Japan were . . . cheap and of low quality? My, how that perception has changed. The foreseeable market in China is expected to continue to grow (like Japan) and prosper.
Keep your eye on China. And Russia is not bad either - - both debt free nations.
America? In debt.
Our elected politicians seem to be too busy being the world's cops while providing an unending source of free money to nations that dislike, no hate, Americans. With so many illegals in America, one day they might just vote for one North America (similar to the European Union) and other Americans couldn't stop such a crazy idea. (Just follow the truck route from Mexico to Canada.)
What, You Think Some Outrageous Things Are Not Occurring In America? - Recently a high school administrator out west allowed a separate room to be used by Muslim school children to have private, segregated prayers on school grounds during school hours. The same school, however, does not allow the Cross of Jesus, the Star of David or other religious signs to be displayed on school grounds. How did this occur? Liberalism. Where was the so-called ACLU?
Al-Qaida Grows As A Threat - If you are concerned about the future of America and the safety of fellow Americans, then you must be aware of a radical terrorist group from the Middle East called Al-Qaida. This radical Muslim group intends to bomb America and other places in Europe that show support to America and/or Israel.
Recent reports show this militant terrorist group growing in strength and spreading into Iraq. Yes, Iraq.
However, and if you follow U.S. politics, Democrats are pressuring Republicans to support leaving Iraq and returning home. Thus, Iraq would turn into a nation confronted with civil war including several radical Muslim groups, such as Al-Qaida. If Iraq falls to radical anti-American forces, then it would only be a matter of time when America would be fighting them in some manner on American soil, state military experts.
Pull out and leave Iraq?
Or, as many U.S. military experts state, we need an organized plan to help protect Iraq until their military is fully trained to handle large-scale battles without much U.S. military help. In fact, it would behoove Iraqi leaders to have mutual aid treaties with local nations, such as Israel and other nations, to ward-off radical terrorist threats.
Europe is beginning to understand the real threat of Al-Qaida and, in places like Germany, they are forming special military forces that share intelligence to follow suspect terrorists. Terrorism is a worldwide problem and especially important for the citizens of America. It might only take another 9/11 attack by Al-Qaida to awaken the many Americans that believe such a radical attack could not happen again on American soil.
If Iraq falls, look out.
Follow The Money - Most voters know that political candidates must raise large sums of money in order to run a successful campaign. As expected, the large contributors expect something for their money - - call it a quid pro quo.
For example, here is a list of some major contributors and to which political party they expect favors:
If you wonder what these special interest groups expect for their money, you normally can find the answer after candidates are elected and the "chips" are called-in by the financial donors. Every major campaign contributor expects something for their money or there might not be future contributions.
How much campaign money might be needed in the presidential election? Try about $450 million. A ridiculous sum, to most of us common voters.
Partying Like It Is 1929 - There was an interesting slogan recently used by an investment manager when speaking about the current U.S. stock market, the financial guru said investors are "partying like it is 1929."
His meaning was, of course, to remind everyone that current market conditions are similar to those just before the stock market crash (and depression) of late 1929. Lots of mergers, lots of investors, lots of cash, lots of hype, etc., etc.
What is ironic about this financial guru is that later, the same day, another financial guru said just the opposite. The later guru was speaking about a world economy, new financial markets overseas and continued oil and gas demands - - thus, a continued growing world economy in the foreseeable future.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Gloom and doom or continued growth and continued good financial market?
Bad homeowner loans? The reported number of bank mortgage defaults is growing due to the great number of low interest rate adjustable rate mortgages that were written in "good times," but this growing bad news is only getting scanty press. Remember Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC)? Could there be another government bail-out of adjustable rate mortgage holders? Time will tell. In the meantime, many folks are partying like it's pre- October 1929.
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