All posts by Tim J. Clark

2020 Elections – A referendum on our Republic?

2020 Elections – A referendum on our Republic?
By Tim J. Clark
Updated July 5, 2020

The 2020 elections are shaping up to be a referendum on our constitutional republic with both political parties claiming their candidate will be winning in a landslide.  The national issues will have an impact on local (county) elections.

Commentary:  The design of the U.S system of government was influenced by Judeo-Christian values with the Bible serving as the foundation for morality and truth.  In the Bible, God is perfect, man is imperfect and expected to improve.  The aim of our system -enabled through the Bill of Rights, is for citizens to work towards – not a perfect union but – “a more perfect Union.”   Lincoln’s address at Gettsyburg reinforced the commitment to the American system of government.

“What is the Christian response? It must be to reject all distinctions based on ethnicity. The church is to be a microcosm on earth of what it will be in heaven.” Tom Macy,  associate pastor of Faith Church in Indianapolis.

Faith Community

Archbishop Viganò’s powerful letter to President Trump: Eternal struggle between good and evil playing out right now By Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.  Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò warns the president that the current crises over the coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd riots are a part of the eternal spiritual struggle between the forces of good and evil.  Sat Jun 6, 2020

Sovereign Nations.

  • Introduction to the Social Justice & The Gospel Conference | Michael O’Fallon.  Topics: social justice, critical race theory, intersectionality, systemic racism, virtue signaling, woke church movement, white privilege.
  • Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege | Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
  • Systemic | The Causes of Things Ep. 20.
    • Whenever you hear phrases such as “systemic injustice” or “systemic racism” try to stop, pause, and consider what is being suggested by the person weaponizing these terms.
    • What is being forwarded by revolutionary politicians and pastors is the idea that the “old” systems that govern our society such as our justice system, our law enforcement systems, our economic systems are full of privileges, power, and prejudices that are meant to create inequality. Of course, those that seek to replace our “old” systems have “new” systems that are actually quite old: Marxian inspired systems of equity and discrimination.
  • Cultural Marxism | Dr. Voddie Baucham

Indianapolis – Catholic Church in Carmel, IN and BLM Related  Protests

Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics, Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America.  KELLY HAMREN, Christianity Today. July 3, 2020.

  • I hope and pray that, given the injustices on national news these days, I will do the right thing the next time I get a chance to. It’s why I’m writing this essay-length note, knowing full well that my Marxist friends (if they take the time to read it) will not appreciate my objections to their philosophy and that some of my Christian friends (if they take the time to read it) will see me as selling out.
  • I want to do the right thing this time, though, and so I’m doing my best to add to a difficult conversation. I welcome any and all honest responses, whether they agree with me or not. There are important questions being raised about issues that directly and/or indirectly affect my brothers and sisters in Christ—and my friends of other faiths and no faith who share similar concerns about justice.
  • So I’ll end my long reflections by saying, on or off social media, let’s talk.

July 4, 2020, President Trump’s Mount Rushmore Speech

Joel Pollak: Democrats Want a Second American Revolution — a Socialist One

Victor Davis Hanson: Only Trump Win Can Stop ‘Cultural Revolution’  By Robert Kraychik, Breitbart, 29 Jun 2020

  • “Well, I don’t think the election is anymore about just Donald Trump or Joe Biden, or Democrat or Republican, or Trump agenda versus Biden agenda,” Hanson determined. “It’s more or less whether you like the United States more as it was before Memorial Day, or whether you would prefer what’s evolving after this Memorial Day, and by that I mean, whether you think that we didn’t have to be perfect to be good, and our institutions from the founders were necessary to incorporate change in a lawful and calm peaceful manner and then they can adjudicate any particular flaws we have in society versus we have a cancer, supposedly from our founding, and that racism has to be irradiated or cut out, and if it kills us, the host, then that’s a necessary price to pay. I think it’s that stark a choice.”
  • Does Trump winning stop the cultural revolution?”Hanson replied, “Yeah, I think it will, because I think what they’re saying to us is that everybody is to be judged by the worst thing they did in their life, not their best thing, or that we in the 21st century are going to add your life up in the past. We’re going to put on one side your pluses, on the other your minuses, then we’re going to judge you according to our own value system, right now.”
  • People are getting angry. There’s a push crack coming. I don’t think it will look that bad in 30 days.”
  • “I think the only way it’ll stop is for them to lose and be humiliated and then bicker and blame each other for going over the cliffs like lemmings.”

An Industry of Untruth  The brand of all cultural revolutions is untruth about the past and present in order to control the future. Why we have this happening to our country is the only mystery left.  By  • 

America Doesn’t Need a New Revolution By Ayaan Hirsi Ali Can the country confront its current problems with its traditional can-do spirit? We have barely four months to figure out how.

  • The problem is that there are people among us who don’t want to figure it out and who have an interest in avoiding workable solutions. They have an obvious political incentive not to solve social problems, because social problems are the basis of their power.

Black Lives Matter’s Silence on a Champion of Racial Equality, COMMENTARY By Robert L. Woodson Sr. RealClearPolitics,  July 4, 2020.

  • “One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence…. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation because the goal of America is freedom … and our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” – MLK

Covid-19.  In addition to the health and economic issues, the pandemic has also become a political issue with district differences between the red and blue states, cities, communities.  A quicker recovery will benefit Trump – a longer recovery will benefit Biden.

  • Dr. Scott Atlas disputes COVID-19 fear mongering tactics from our health official:  KUSI Newsroom
    • SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the United States, health officials and Democrat politicians seem to be using that statistic to fear monger and justify closure orders.
    • Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institute, discussed why we don’t need to be scared of the increase spread of coronavirus on Good Morning San Diego with KUSI’s Paul Rudy.
  • Is The Pandemic Coming To An End At Last? I & I Editorial Board July 7, 2020

The Fierce Fight Over America’s Ideals and History, COMMENTARY  By Charles Lipson – RCP Contributor, July 6. 2020.

  • Donald Trump and the Republicans must do more than reassert traditional American values. They must connect those values to a succinct, well-defined agenda for the next four years. That means explaining why public order and business resurgence are the best path forward and why they, not the Democrats, are the ones to ensure it.
  • Ultimately, the heated battle over America’s past is a battle to define its future. That better future is what Americans really care about. In November, they will vote for the candidate they think can deliver it.

Sports – NFL – Black National Anthem

Black Lives Matter

The push for revolutionary change is also supported by leveraging the fears and economic impacts associated with the Covid-19 crisis with support from many political factions that include Black Lives Matter (BLM).  BLM aligns with strategies associated with “Social Justice” and marxism and has become a political movement with some polls (Rasmussen, June 10, 2020) indicating a 62% popularity rating.

Commentary: The Various Faces of Black Lives Matter by Robert Stilson, RealClearPolitics, June 21, 2020.

  • Black Lives Matter can mean something different depending on what part of the movement is being referenced and who is doing the referencing. For instance, when the term is used to show opposition to police brutality or other racially charged issues, it does not necessarily imply connection with any particular organization. In this sense it serves more as an expression of one’s views, rather than affiliations.
  • When Black Lives Matter is used to refer to an organization, it typically means the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLM Global Network Foundation). This is the central group that traces its beginnings to “three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi,” and operates the BlackLivesMatter.com website.
  • BLM Global Network Foundation is also positioned at the center of a network of 16 affiliated local chapters, such as Black Lives Matter Chicago and Black Lives Matter Detroit. In some cases, these chapters are themselves fiscally sponsored by other nonprofit organizations.
  • The upshot is that “Black Lives Matter” can mean the decentralized movement as a whole, or one of the many discrete legal entities that operate under that name. This duality of meaning can lead to confusion among observers, commentators, and even the movement’s supporters.

The agenda of Black Lives Matter is far different from the slogan  By Mike Gonzalez and Andrew Olivastro, New York Post, July 1, 2020

  • Many see the slogan Black Lives Matter as a plea to ­secure the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans, especially historically wronged African Americans. They add the BLM hashtag to their social-media profiles, carry BLM signs at protests and make financial donations.
  • Tragically, when they do donate, they are likely to bankroll a number of radical organizations, founded by committed Marxists whose goals aren’t to make the American Dream a reality for everyone — but to transform America completely.

The Two Very Different Meanings Of ‘Black Lives Matter’, By

  • “Of course I support the truth that black lives matter, but I do not support Marxists organizations with that name who I firmly believe will set back the cause of equal and robust opportunity for all Americans.”

Race, Power & Politics: Coleman Hughes Dismantles Systemic Racism In America.  In this episode, Desh speaks to accomplished writer, Coleman Hughes about racism, cancel culture, and politics in America.

Crime 

Fatal Force: 1,017 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, Washington Post. Updated July 1, 2020.

  • Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

Myth of Systemic Police Racism,  By Heather Mac Donald – wsj.com – 

  • That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population. (Black males approximately 7% of the population and less if you factor in age (16-40) of those most likely to commit crimes).

There is no epidemic of fatal police shootings against unarmed Black Americans By Heather Mac Donald, Opinion contributor, USA Today, July 3, 2020.  Ideally officers would never need to take anyone’s life. But the data on police killings doesn’t support reducing or abolishing law enforcement.

Black lives matter more to Trump than to BLM. by John Philip Sousa, IV  | July 06, 2020, Washington Examiner.

  • The leadership of BLM has made clear that only one thing will cause them to stop the looting and rioting — Trump’s defeat. But why? Have Trump’s policies created more jobs for black people, Hispanics, and women than ever before? They did, at least until the global pandemic hit. Trump rarely passed up a chance to say how proud he was of that accomplishment.

University Administrator Forced To Resign Over Study Finding No Racial Bias In Police Shootings by Holly Matkin PoliceTribune

  • East Lansing, MI – Physicist Stephen Hsu has been forced out of his role as vice president of Research and Innovation at Michigan State University (MSU) after he promoted 2019 study that found there to be no racial bias in incidents of officer-involved shootings.

Data  

July 1, 2020, GeekWire. Tableau launches $10M racial justice initiative to shine light on inequity with data By Monica Nickelsburg

Marxism

“Marxism is a social, political, and economic philosophy named after Karl Marx, which examines the effect of capitalism on labor, productivity, and economic development and argues for a worker revolution to overturn capitalism in favor of communism.”  (Investopedia).   “A theory and practice of socialism including the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, the class struggle, and dictatorship of the proletariat until the establishment of a classless society.” (Merriam-Webster).

Conservative responses are being supported by black leaders such as Candace Owens (founder of the BLEXIT Foundation) and by black conservatives that share their perspectives at Prager University.

Social Justice

The term “Social Justice” means the opposite of what it conveys.  Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek explained that “Social Justice” demands the unequal treatment of individuals:  “To make people equal a goal of governmental policy would force government to treat people very unequally indeed.

If you research all the various facets of the term Social Justice and the associated network of groups and initiatives with the shared aim of transformational (revolutionary) change,  it leads to the identification of terms and concepts with supporting strategies that include intersectionality, woke, cultural Marxism, revolution, transformation, white racism, systemic racism, white privilege, white fragility, ethnic Gnosticism, safe space, trigger words, and virtue signaling.

Some Christian leaders have equated intersectionality as resembling a new religion.

  • June 18, 2020, What’s Wrong with Phil Vischer’s Video ” Holy Post – Race in America?” By Pastor Gabriel Huges
    • Every single human being on earth is descended from one man, Adam. There is only one race—the human race. … Essentially, we’re all the same color—just varying shades of brown, depending on how much melanin you have. To pass judgment on another for the tones of our skin is to pass judgment on yourself.
    • The first time I watched the video, I went, “Wow!” But the second time I watched it, I went, “Wha?” The cultural Marxist nuance became more apparent.
    • Nothing he presented means all white people are at fault (an accusation he makes at 15:34) or that black people are systemically oppressed. He did not point to a single current law that discriminates against a particular group of people. 

The social justice-related terms and concepts provide the foundation for beliefs that are considered by leftist groups as establishing a standard of political correctness (PC).  The opposition to this new standard is enforced by the PC police and subjects the dissenter (s) to attacks from individuals and mobs that can include name-calling, doxing,  and “canceling.”

Ad hominem attacks and violence (assaults) are also considered justifiable tactics by many individuals and groups.  The adherents of the social justice manifesto project their own undesirable thoughts and beliefs onto others. This becomes evident with the name-calling along with the inability or non-interest of the attackers to defend their beliefs with reason and logic.

The pursuit of “justice” is a worthy goal supported by our Constitution and rule of law.  However “Social” justice demands treating people unequally that is unconstitutional.

If interested in learning more,  Allsides.com identifies sources of information that range from the farther left to the farther right. On the farther right, PragerU.com has numerous “5 Minute videos” on the various subjects referenced above with more detail available by the respective presenters.

A Way Ahead

The U.S. system of government was designed to be continually improved in working towards “ a more perfect Union”.   We do need to apply better methods in making needed improvements to include fact (data) based assessments and identifying the feedback needed to determine if a change is resulting in improvement.

In support of local changes, the Brown County Leader Network has identified supporting tools, concepts, and a framework for supporting systemic improvements. The basic premise that is integrated within a Community Decision Making Process:

  • We can agree on the ideal, e.g., what “better” or “more perfect” might look like.
  • We can agree on facts and the data that can be used to assess the current situation (s)  and to help assess when a change will result in improvement.
  • We can agree to disagree in a civil manner and choose to work to find solutions that we could agree to support.
  • We can agree that actions to improve a situation (process/system) should result in outcomes where everyone benefits or at least, are any worse off in the long-term.

Regarding local elections, candidates for county offices (that can include those that decide to run as an independent, can reinforce that they support our constitutional republic and denounce violence and groups that perpetuate this violence.  Candidates can also identify specific (non-partisan) actions that they will be taking to improve the quality of life with the county.

Closure – Railroad Crossing – Indiana Hill Rd

Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts

Resolution by the Commissioners County Resolution Indian Hill Rd RR Crossing Closure

  • June 28, 2020. Jennifer Ruff.  INDIAN HILL ROAD – Update (Sort of) Alright ya’ll – you’re making me feel like I own this place!! Nobody drives down my road anymore!! Get down here and enjoy this beautiful spot!! (Remember – you can only access it from the south side of Indian Hill and it’s narrow with lots of curves, so drive slow and careful.)
  • June 28, 2020. Tim J. Clark Minutes – May 6 Commissioner Meeting
  • June 23, 2020. Paul Nelson. A bit of light on a dark situation After getting into a rather heated discussion over the Indian Hill road closing, I have come to learn that that road will still be available for pedestrian traffic as the road easement is part of the Tecumseh trail.
  • June 16, 2020 – Jennifer Ruff – … Brown County, I’m super disappointed in you. The railroad crossing on Indian Hill Road is now closed. I’m glad you made a deal to get $35,000 from the state so you could put up these horrible road blocks.
  • June 11, 2020,   Jennifer Ruff  Need advice PLEASE!!!  I live in a location in Brown County that is pretty remote — except that it is only about thirty seconds off of 45. I have to drive over a strange slab bridge over a creek and up over a railroad crossing to get to 45.

Brown County Democrat (BCD).

May 6, 2020,  Minutes – Commissioner Meeting – RR Crossing Closure – Indiana Hill Rd

 

 

2021 Budget Submissions

2021 Budget. Presentations from the Departments are scheduled for Aug 17, 18, 19. The budget guidance  to the Departments from the Council includes factoring in a cost of living increase from 1-3%.

An increase would be dependent on the status of the 2019 budget and revenue projections for 2021 and 2022.  Copies of the guidance and planning documents below:

June 17, 2021: Guidance

Council Meetings: – 2021 Budget Topics

2020 Assessed Home Values

Stats Indiana provides another link to the  Indiana Real Estate Market reports that includes information by county.

Example: 2020 Brown-County Local Market Update – 2019-2020 and Year to Date Sales provided by Indiana Association of Realtors.

Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF).
FACT SHEET – Trending – Annual Adjustments of Assessed Values

Brown County GIS System. Includes 5 years of data on assessments, tax payments, and description of properties.

Overview of the process.  The Indiana Association of Realtors provides information on sales to include the breakdown by counties.  The county assessor reviews sales by “neighborhoods” that cover an area broader than the immediate area in order to identify the trend of sales.  The calculation of assessed value accounts for “outliers” — property sold statistically higher than the norm.  The median value (the middle point where half of the homes are higher and half are lower), is used to calculate the assessment.

A further check on the assessment is for the property owners to obtain an estimate on market value from local realtors.

The County Auditor uses the information provided by the assessment to calculate the tax payment and the County Treasurer bills the property owners and collects the payments.

MORE INFO – Department Local Government Finance (DLGF)

DLGF – Property Tax Terms and Definitions

DLGF Property taxes are due twice a year. You will receive a statement with upcoming due dates in the Spring.  Current property tax due dates are:

  • May 11, 2020
  • November 10, 2020

DLGF Tax Bill 101

DLGF: Graphic – Assessment_to_Tax_Billing_Start to Finish 

181101 – Assessment-to-BudgetProcess

 

The State of the Union – Perspective from the Atlantic

The Atlantic was founded in 1857.  Their December 2019 Issue:  The Atlantic Devotes Its December Issue to a Special Report: “How to Stop a Civil War”  Essays consider how America is coming apart—and prospects for rebuilding a more civil, functional, and unified society.

June 2020 Issue Atlantic – Special Preview.  We Are Living in a Failed State.  The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.  By George Packer

  • When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.

Apr 28, 2020. Commentary on the article at at RealClearPolitics.com.  The Perilous State of Our Union, and How We Got Here by Les Francis

May 2019 National survey of citizens sponsored by the American Bar Association

  • The nationally representative poll of 1,000 members of the American public found troubling gaps in their knowledge of American history and government, as well as constitutional rights. One in 10 think the Declaration of Independence freed slaves in the Confederate states and almost 1 in 5 believe the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution are called the Declaration of Independence instead of the Bill of Rights.

  • In [the] 2018 version of the Woodrow Wilson foundation test, only 13% of Americans could accurately tell you when the Constitution was ratified, 60% didn’t know who the U.S. fought in World War II, and only 24% correctly identified a single thing Ben Franklin was famous for. (Some 37% believed he invented the lightbulb.) In the 2019 version of the survey, only 43% knew that President Wilson was the U.S. commander-in-chief during World War I, which was particularly galling to the poll sponsors.

 

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Music Center’s Sustainability and Future

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Brown County Music Center (BCMC) can’t make their mortgage payments. On April 15, 2020, the county council approved a loan for $150,000 to pay the next three months interest payments.

The $150K was borrowed from the county motor vehicle highway (MVH) fund which has to be reimbursed by the end of December.   A six-month extension can be granted.

Economic Assessment – IndyStar Pandemic could lead to deficits in millions 20200426

  • The city of Indianapolis and its tourism industry are bracing for budget shortfalls stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, an unknown economic impact that has already prompted a multimillion dollar budget cut for the city’s marketing agency and hiring freezes elsewhere.
  • Convention and visitor bureaus throughout the state are going to have to rethink their mission, Hicks said.  “I think this is an existential moment for the tourism industry and the way it’s supported in the state,” he said, noting a potential need to end marketing efforts in smaller counties and spend the money in more efficient ways.

Questions

  • Does the county have a legal liability to pay the mortgage? No. Per councilman Darren Byrd who is also a member of the Maple Leaf Management Committee, “This (150K) was an emergency loan to make the interest-only payments. It wasn’t done because of an obligation; just to mitigate a disaster. As with any mortgage, default could lead to eventual foreclosure.
  • How will the 150K loan be paid back, when, and by whom?
  • Are county taxpayers legally obligated to pay the mortgage?
    • No. Per councilman Darren Byrd who is also a member of the Maple Leaf Management Committee.
  • Would a default negatively impact the county bond rating?
    • Yes. Per councilman Darren Byrd who is also a member of the Maple Leaf Management Committee, a “foreclosure could have a negative rating effect.”
  • Why would a default affect the credit rating?  The county only loses a marketing budget for tourism which is a relatively small contributor to the county tax base.
  • What is the impact of a negative bond ranting?  Would this lead to higher interest rates being paid for loans and possibly make it difficult to even borrow money?  
  • If there was a downside to a default, was this fact and the details communicated by the attorney (s) to county government officials?
  • If taxpayers are not currently liable for paying the debt as currently structured in contracts, can this be changed to obligate the taxpayers?
  • Will there be a recurring need to loan money from the MVH fund and then pay it back with other tax money?  Is this a work-around to claim that income and property tax is not being used to pay the mortgage or any other operating expenses the venue may need?
  • If a default on the mortgage, what happens?  Would the venue appraise – at or over the amount borrowed?  Is it correct that all the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax would be transferred to the bank until the debt is settled?
  • The Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) relies on revenue from the innkeeper’s tax for marketing and promotion of tourism – that includes funding of the Visitor Center.  Will they also be requesting a subsidy from the county taxpayers?

What Is a Credit Rating?  A credit rating is a quantified assessment of the creditworthiness of a borrower in general terms or with respect to a particular debt or financial obligation. A credit rating can be assigned to any entity that seeks to borrow money—an individual, corporation, state or provincial authority, or sovereign government.

What is a Bond Rating .  A bond rating is a way to measure the creditworthiness of a bond, which corresponds to the cost of borrowing for an issuer. These ratings typically assign a letter grade to bonds that indicates their credit quality

Health and Safety.  Without a vaccine, treatment, immunity, what will be the risk from tourists to county residents?  Brown County has one of the oldest populations in the state.

Promise to County Taxpayers

At the time this project was approved by the county council, Council President Dave Critser identified the worst-case scenario as the economy crashing and “told the audience twice that income and property taxes would not be used to pay for the venue.”

  • Brown County Democrat, Council approves pledging innkeepers tax to fund Maple Leaf venue by By Suzannah Couch – Nov 28, 2017.

    • Resident Tim Clark asked if the resolution could be changed to put county taxpayers on the hook if the project runs into “difficulties or the strategy changes.” … Critser said that would require a new resolution to be passed, and county commissioner Diana Biddle said that the county “can’t do a bait-and-switch that way.” …  “They can’t choose to add the property taxpayers later,” Matthas said. “They would have had to get it approved now, and they didn’t.”
  • Brown County Democrat.  Steps taken to fund Maple Leaf venue By Suzannah Couch – Nov 17, 2017 – Quotes:
    • “With the loan, the bank requires only the innkeepers tax and the mortgage as collateral (Herring)
    • County commissioner Diana Biddle asked attorney Pitman if Maple Leaf debt could ever be put on the county taxpayer in the form property or income tax
      • Pitman said the debt would not be put on the county taxpayer; it’s on the innkeepers tax. Pitman said the loan documents will limit the financial liability only to Maple Leaf revenue and the innkeepers tax.  
    •  Commissioner Dave Anderson said there are no liabilities to county taxpayers under the deal. “This is a good thing for Brown County. I can see no exposure to liability for our taxpayers, and that’s a biggie for me,” he said.

The innkeeper’s tax is collateral for the loan.  The innkeeper’s tax, by statute, is a county asset and is controlled by the county council that would be surrendering this asset. On default, the bank then takes control of the revenue stream provided by the innkeeper’s tax.

  • If the county directly opted to borrow money via a bond for this venue (as opposed to using the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax as collateral), taxpayers would have had the option for a remonstrance. The Redevelopment Commission (RDC) was the lead with this option and was doing the analysis and planning for the public meetings. The RDC was cut out of the process when it was determined that the innkeeper’s tax could be used as collateral.

Background Info

Summary of the project  GUEST OPINION: Time will tell what music center’s impact will be by Tim Clark

Project History and Timeline  BCMC: Brown County Music Center (Maple Leaf): For the Record By Tim Clark

Summary of issues impacting the decision-making process

Leverage.  The bank does not want the building and it may be difficult to dispose of the venue with the uncertainties in the market. In addition to the recent 90 days adjustments in payments (interest only), what additional options is the Bank willing to consider?

What’s the new norm?

  • Best Case. The pandemic is temporary and things return to normal. County funding helps bridge the gap.   How much should the county fund and for how long? Will the taxpayers be reimbursed?
  • The situation does not return to normal. How long do county taxpayers subsidize the venue? What additional funding would be needed to support the venue? WIll the county also be asked to fund marketing for tourism?

Fairness and Equity.  Is a subsidy for this venue and tourism industry fair?  Most county businesses and most if not all county taxpayers are financially impacted by the pandemic.

Cost-Benefit.   The justification for the subsidy (150K) per Commissioner Biddle: “…the music center is part of the foundation for the county’s economic recovery so it’s important for the county to step in and help now.

  • Tourism – $42.7 Million in gross revenue, 543 jobs, avg salary of 19K. (2017 Study – Rockport Analytics)
  • County residents – Adjusted Gross Income in 2018 – $408 million, reported on 7,000 tax returns. (About 7.400 residents in the labor force with over half commuting outside the county for work. (StatsIndiana).
  • County funded by income and property tax. The “State” is primarily funded by “Sales Tax” and Income tax. Thus the incentive for an innkeepers tax to promote tourism.

Patrons of the Arts.  Can money be raised from supporters of this venue and other benefactors?

Financials.  What is the financial condition of the venue? What financial information has been made available? Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss statement. Accounts Payable and Receivable reports? Cash flow and break-even analysis?

Community Support. What is the community support for a bailout?  What is the risk of protests and boycotts by county taxpayers of an industry that is a relatively small contributor to the overall “county” economy?  Will the issue create animosity against tourism?

Political Change.  Will the issue results in a demand for political change?  The Republican party has a monopoly on political power and were vocal advocates for this Music Venue.  All three commissions and 6/7 council members that voted for this project are Republican.

Covid-19 Impacts.  Uncertainty is expected to remain until there are effective treatments, a vaccine, wide-scale testing, and herd immunity.

  • Impacts on Large 2,000 seat venues? – TBD
  • Brown County has one of the oldest populations in Indiana.  Three gas stations, one Pharmacy, and one grocery store. No hospitals and no 24×7 medical clinic.  What will be the risks posed from tourists to the county?

Economic Outlook:  Depression, recession, quick recovery ….?

County Finances and Tax Increases.  What will be the drop in income and property tax? How much will the county be able to borrow? How much can the county increase property and income taxes? What expenses can be cut?

Support for a better (open) political system?

Brown County is a 2.0 .   As a former defense and military analyst, assessing the capabilities of groups, organizations, countries (e.g., systems) was one of the tools of the trade.

One of the simpler models for assessing capability used a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high capability). The norm is a 2.0 which can be defined as “good enough – it works for us.”

Description — 20200604 Community and County Capability Maturity Model CMM

In the case of Brown County, we have a “closed” political system as a result of a one-party monopoly on political power which can be reinforced in every election.

The plus side for some in this closed system is that major decisions, despite any opposition, can be made relatively quickly with no repercussions at the ballot box. The downside is that this is less effective than an “open” system that can assimilate feedback and works to identify the best solutions for the county.

The risk of a closed system is not only suboptimal decisions and abuse of power which is a given, but you can build up a simmering opposition to the status quo that can eventually lead to conflict. This conflict can be expressed on social media, at public meetings, and through protests and boycotts.  In a military context as we’ve seen throughout the world, a closed system provides the motivation for insurgencies, revolutions, and war.

In anticipating the local impacts that the Covid-19 crisis is having and may have on the county, to include potentially unprecedented amounts of borrowing, potential tax increases and subsidies for favored projects, groups and industries, we do have choices.

For over the past two years, volunteers in the community have been working to discover and develop a more collaborative and transparent leadership approach. We are in the “test” or proof-of-concept phase.  More info via the link below:

Brown County Leader Network – a collaborative and transparent leadership approach.

COVID-19 – Quality Management and Models

June 30, 2020. Quality Digest. Are We Getting Better Yet? How is the worldwide pandemic progressing? By Donald Wheeler

  • Although we may know what needs to be done, the United States as a whole is not dealing effectively with the opportunistic infection of Covid-19.
  • Since we become infectious to others two to three days before we even know we are infected ourselves, social distancing, hand washing, and the use of face masks are still our most effective personal interventions at present.

Total deaths per million: Here we find that the United States’ value of 364.1 is sixth from the bottom, behind the deaths per capita of France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. However, it is instructive to compare the United States’ death rate with other first-world countries such as Australia (4.1), South Korea (5.4), Japan (7.5), Israel (34.2), Germany (107.1), Switzerland (197.3), and Canada (225.2).

May 4, 2020. LinkedIn Post – Control Charts – Ontario

May 4, 2020.  Quality Digest. Waiting for the Covid-19 Peak.  While this worldwide, unintended experiment continues we won’t immediately know if we have passed the peak.  By Donald J. Wheeler and Al Pfadt.

  • Sweden began to flatten its curve around April 12, but the Swedes were less aggressive in their efforts5. By the end of April they had lowered their average growth rate to 2.9 percent and had a total of 20,300 cases. Thus, while starting from the same amounts, in one month Norway added only 3,200 new cases while Sweden added 15,900. Such is the marvel of compound growth rates.
  • With a growth rate of 2.9 percent per day Sweden is on track to double its number of confirmed cases in 24 days (May 24). If the Swedes can further flatten their curve they can postpone this doubling and gain time before reaching 40,000 cases. With a growth rate of 0.7 percent per day Norway’s doubling time is 99 days. If the Norwegians maintain this rate of growth, they will not reach 15,000 cases until mid-July.
  • And we need to continue to try to flatten our cumulative curves simply because a flatter curve buys more time.

May 4, 2020. Quality Digest – Comment. An interesting contrast to our approach

  • I hope it is not bad form to be the first person to comment on our article, but I wanted to call attention to a link that I just discovered today that represents an entirely different approach to the one Don and I illustrate in this article.
  • The web address http://covid-measures.stanford.edu/ presents interactive models that permit one to ” try out” different assumptions regarding various aspects of Covid 19 in terms of certain parameters such as demand for hospital beds or the anticipated number of fatalities associated with certain containment scenarios.
  • I hope readers don’t get the impression from our article that we reject the utility of such models.
  • However, they serve a very different purpose than the one we take and both should be thought of as complementing each other.

Model – Stanford Univ.  Potential Long-Term Intervention Strategies for COVID-19

Coronavirus Policy Response Simulator: Health and Economic Effects of State Reopenings

Apr 28, 2020. Deming Institute.  India Fights COVID-19 with Control Charts BY 

April 15, 2020.  Can SPC save the world?  By Thomas Pyzdek

Apr 6, 2020. Quality Progress. Tracking Covid-19. How to let the data tell you what lies ahead By Donald J. Wheeler,  Al Pfadt. Kathryn J. Whyte

  • The first three intervention models—case isolation, home quarantine, and social distancing of those at risk of severe disease—make up an optimal mitigation policy. 
    • “The fourth NPI model was social distancing of the entire population. This model assumes this will reduce contacts outside the household, school, or workplace. The fifth NPI model was the closure of all schools and 75 percent of all universities.”

Mar 26, 2020. US News and World Report.   America Is Approaching a Deadly Tipping Point in the Coronavirus Pandemic, U.S. News Analysis Shows.  An examination of daily coronavirus deaths by country shows the U.S. is on a dangerous path that’s poised to worsen. By Steve Sternberg and Gaby Galvin  

  • Includes a control (SPC) chart.  Viewing the data in its entirety and over time offers a clearer window into the trajectory of the outbreak, one that isn’t clouded by noise and can detect meaningful differences in patterns that can inform official public guidance and decision-making.

    “With all the talk of ‘flattening the curve,’ we think the approach we used and our analysis sheds light on early signals of when the increase in new deaths peaks and the curve begins to flatten,” Perla and Provost say.

Mar 25, 2020. Quality Digest. The One Huge Mistake Quality Professionals Make in Preparing for Covid-19. Businesses need to think pessimistically in order to survive

  • The current guidance assumes a highly optimistic scenario, where we get very lucky. That’s not good advice, at all. We need to prepare for a moderately pessimistic scenario if we want to protect quality in our organizations.

Mar 25, 2020. Zero-Hedge. 12 Experts Question The COVID-19 Panic by Tyler Durden

  • Storm in a Tea Cup? LinkedIn. There is no question that the media is effective in whipping up emotions. Is the COVID-19 panic a storm in a tea cup?  by Dr. Tony Burns.

 

A Way Ahead – Post Covid recovery and prosperity

 A Way Ahead – Post COVID-19 recovery and prosperity
by Tim J. Clark

The government response (national, state, county) to the pandemic has been overly influenced by fear, emotion, politics, and ignorance.

Transitioning from Response to Recovery – Getting back to work

The 24×7 media coverage that thrives on controversy does not help.  I support the assessment identified in the article in Quality Digest magazine – “Tracking Covid-19 – How to let the data tell you what lies ahead”  that “case isolation, home quarantine, and social distancing of those at risk of severe disease—make up an optimal mitigation policy that will guide getting the country back to work.”  The issue that is just starting to surface is about community (herd)  immunity.

  • Community (Herd) Immunity. A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community. Also known as herd immunity. Reference: CDC

Economic Depression

I’m also following the discussions on the macro-economics. The current situation has been assessed as being similar to the period between 1930-45. The Depression (1930) contributed to conditions that created conflict between competing powers that led to WWII, followed by a “new democratic world order” led by the U.S where the dollar became the reserve currency for the world.  In some future scenarios, the pandemic is projected to lead to a “depression,” heightened by tensions between the U.S. and the emerging power (China).

Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio participated in a Tedx discussion on the topic – “What coronavirus means for the global economy” where he states that  “This is not a recession; this is a breakdown. You’re seeing the same thing that happened in the 1930s.”  Comments on the discussion at Forbes:

In contrast to Dailio’s conclusions, CNBC in their review ” Ray Dalio predicts a coronavirus depression: ‘This is bigger than what happened in 2008’ by Tom Huddleston Jr.  remarks:

  • ” …. However, other experts believe this financial crisis is unique because it is a result of a health issue, a global pandemic, rather than an otherwise unstable or unproductive economy.  As such, they are more optimistic that the economy will rebound quickly once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.” 
  • “I would point to the difference between this and a normal recession: There is nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told NBC’s “Today” in an interview last month.  In a follow-up interview with CNBC on Thursday, Powell reiterated his belief that the U.S. economy can have a “robust” rebound once the pandemic ends, though he is reluctant to offer a precise timetable for how long that could take.

Brown County

Regarding Brown County,  the Community Organizations Active In Disaster (COAD) works within a four-phase cycle:  Preparation-Mitigation, Preparedness, Response (the phase we are in now), and Recovery.

An optimal “Recovery” strategy is not likely without a successful transition to a “whole-of-county” strategy and plan that is supported by the Brown County community.

The county is funded by income and property tax and a depression/recession will reduce revenue. The county cannot print money and options of increasing revenue include a combination of cuts, borrowing, and raising property taxes.  The most optimistic and unrealistic scenario is that things go back to the way they were – this may be wishful thinking.

Regarding increasing county debt, the “temptation” may be to borrow money to fund a variety of special projects with the promise of economic miracles.

The economic engine for the county is residents that reported adjusted gross income (AGI) of $401 million dollars in 2017.  Tourism has been identified as the economic engine for the town of Nashville.  In contrast, in 2017, the gross revenue generated from tourism was estimated by Rockport Analytics at $42.7 million with a total economic impact of $22.6 million.

Relying on past county methods and practices to determine the priorities and direction of the county will likely be the preferred and initial approach. However, this approach is not capable of producing optimal results where everyone benefits, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

Systems determine 85-100% of results and the capability of a system can be assessed on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).  Brown County is governed through a one-party monopoly on political power that represents a closed system which would be assessed at a Level 2.

A Way Ahead? 

Albert Einstein remarked that  “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”   For over the past two years, volunteers in the community with the support of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Purdue and Ball State, have been working to develop a new leadership approach as part of the Hometown Collaborative Initiative (HCI).  It introduces an open-system approach to economic growth and community development.

The initiative is referred to as the Brown County Leader Network. We are in the process of developing a website to help share information. In the interim, additional information is provided at the following. “Brown County Leader Network.

References

COVID-19 Recovery – Small Businesses, Unemployment, Govt

Small Business.  Below is information for small business owners (under 500 employees). Also included is information that addresses unemployment details for both workers and employers.

U.S. Small Business Administration page where businesses impacted by COVID-19 can apply for emergency assistance.

For Government, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) is also a source of funding for infrastructure-related (mainly water and stormwater), projects, but also public facilities and main street revitalization programs. (The county is in the process of applying for a grant for Phase II of a Stormwater project in Helmsburg.)

Sign-up for the newsletter to stay updated on likely future support to benefit Indiana communities adversely affected by COVID-19. It is expected that the balance of current funds (in the millions) will be redirected into a program whose sole purpose will be to benefit Indiana communities adversely affected by COVID-19.