Category Archives: Uncategorized

2020 County Elections – Democrat Platform – Race – LoWV

Regarding implied and direct references to “systems and systemic:”   All results (successes and problems) represent outcomes from systems.  There are methods and tools for identifying, assessing, and improving systems.  These include identifying the aim (purpose, need) of the respective system, capability assessments, operational definitions of the data being used in assessments, cause and effect diagrams, affinity and Pareto charts, histograms, the five why’s, run and process behavior charts to include trend interpretation standards, and analysis of variation – common cause (normal, expected) and special cause variation (outlier, unusual, temporary) to name a few.   The Brown County Leader Network provides support for addressing systemic issues.

Aug 4, 2020, BCD Letter: Local Democratic Party candidates adopt platform. The platform addresses specific county issues that have been discussed on social media to include the Facebook Group – Brown County Matters.   The exception is the statement regarding racism:

  • We believe in the dignity of and civil and human rights of all people. We call for the end to racism in all forms. We call for a review of all county laws, directives and initiatives of all kinds by any agency or segment of county government to determine if any such laws, directives or initiatives have or could result in racism or inequality in any form. We call for the expeditious remediation of any such instances so found.
    • The statement: “We call for the end to racism in all forms.”  How is this possible morally or legally?

This position is supported by the Brown County League of Women Voters (LoWV).

  • Resolution_For_Racial_Justice Resolution for Black People and All People of Color.  By majority vote on Saturday, Aug 1, 2020, the board of the Brown County League of Women Voters voted to support the National League of Women Voters’ Resolution for “Racial Justice for Black People and All People of Color.”    Resolves #136 and #139 met the Leagues criteria for inclusion:
    • Motion #136 – We Resolve First, That the League advocates against systemic racism in the justice system and, at a minimum, for preventing excessive force and brutality by law enforcement. We also call for prompt actions by all League members to advocate within every level of government to eradicate systemic racism, and the harm that it causes; and,
    • Motion #139 – We Resolve Second, That the League help our elected officials and all Americans recognize these truths to be self-evident; that Black, Indigenous and all people of color (BIPOC)viii deserve equal protection under the law; and that we demand solutions for the terrible wrongs done, so that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation we may truly become a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” 

A Conservative Perspective on Racism and Systemic Racism 

The case of George Floyd

Race and Black Lives Matter (BLM)

    • The Two Very Different Meanings Of ‘Black Lives Matter’, By David Marcus, The Federalist
      • the term has two very distinct, if not contradictory meanings in today’s America. One is a general statement of support for civil rights; the other is a loose Marxist organization with a clear radical agenda.
    • 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 
      • BLM began as the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2013 in wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin. That earliest iteration of the term was the general statement of support. But very quickly BLM became the umbrella name for a network of loosely affiliated activist groups with a very far left set of objectives. In fact one of the founders has said on video that the organization was founded by “trained Marxists.”
    • 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.  
      • 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.

Local strategies – Better Government, Systems, Processes

What is becoming even more evident with the Covid related issues is a lack of trust in government and the systems and processes that are providing “We the People” with information and mandates.

o. When you have licensed and competent medical professionals who disagree on preventative and treatment-related strategies, I would like to see (if even possible these days) an objective, independent group (commission?) reconcile (mediate) the differences on our behalf. Where is there agreement? Where is there disagreement and whyt? What are their recommendations along with the associated risks? Politicizing the issue with the intent to retain or gain votes supported by the media only adds to the divisiveness and polarization in the country.

o. Our founding fathers studied and understood human nature and political systems. They recognized that individuals seek to centralize power and power always corrupts which leads to abuse, conflict, and even war (civil, national, global). Our founders designed a system of checks and balances on power that have been eroded over time. For instance, providing the governor with the ability to extend emergency powers without requiring a special session of the legislature is a law that needs to be reviewed.

o. The overall situation has been a little surreal for me. I’ve briefed senior military leaders on controversial topics. The U.S. military and our allies apply a decision making process that integrates a systemic approach that considers all available facts and data, assesses risks, and identifies the best courses of action. Once the action is taken, the situation is constantly monitored and adjusted as more information is obtained. There are also three major focus areas – what is currently happening, what may be next, and what if? Different groups work on these questions and respective strategies.

o. One of the issues that is different is that in a military context, injuries and death are an inherent part of the process. In a civilian context, facing potential mortality is something most people don’t want to think about which leads to fear, and fear leads to anger that is then leveraged by various groups to support their respective agendas.

o. Probably not much we can do in the short-term regarding the national situation, but we can support changes at the state level. At the county level, we could choose to apply better processes in making important decisions.

o. Volunteers within the community have been working to develop a framework (concept, tools, and methods) for assessing a problem, identifying the best options, and determining if and when a change results in improvement. More information at http://browncountyleadernetwork.com/

American Civics

Information Portal – explores the principles and practices
every patriotic citizen should know.

American Civics in the Time of Coronavirus, By Carl M. Cannon RCP Staff, April 08, 2020

  • RealClear has launched an educational portal on American Civics — this piece you are reading is its introductory essay — to give a fair accounting of the Founders and the successive generations who did their part in what Alexis de Tocqueville called “the great American experiment.”
  • … the foundation asked a series of  multiple-choice questions to a statistically valid sample of Americans – questions that are on the actual U.S. Citizenship Test. In 2018, only 36% of poll respondents could pass it. 

ABA 2020 Survey of Civic Literacy – Resources

Three Myths That Explain Why Americans Don’t Know Much About History by Natalie Wexler Education, FORBES

  • Myth #1: History is boring, dry, and useless.
  • Myth #2: Memorizing historical facts and dates is a bad idea. 
  • Myth #3: History is a developmentally inappropriate topic below the third or fourth grade.

RealClearPublicAffairs’s 1776 Series –– explains the major themes that define the American mind.

Nashville Sanitary Sewer Master Plan July 15, 2020

Nashville Sanitary Sewer Master Plan July 15, 2020 (173 pages)

(Link to the plan on the Town’s website)

Summary of the Master Plan – Brown County Democrat

July 15, 2020.  Town developing sewer master plan, updates, expansions by Sara Clifford

  • … in 2018, the Brown County RSD vacated about a mile-and-a-half radius around town limits — basically, to the tops of the hills that surround major roads into town — in case the town ever wanted to extend sewer to those properties.
  • This draft sewer master plan includes several neighborhoods in that mile-and-a-half buffer zone as well as others, and prioritizes them, in the engineers’ opinion, according to how quickly the town should or could bring them sewer:

March 11, 2020.  BCD, Plans, fixes being made at town wastewater plantSara Clifford –

  •  Nashville now has a plan to fix the violations which the state found at its wastewater treatment plant last year. In the meantime, new customers…

Dec 4, 2019.  BCD. Town OKs major study of sewer service Sara Clifford – The Nashville Town Council has hired a firm to do a comprehensive study of Nashville’s sewer plant and operations — how the plant is…

Closure – Railroad Crossing – Indiana Hill Rd

Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts

Resolution by the Commissioners County Resolution Indian Hill Rd RR Crossing Closure (waiting to received Attachment A)

  • July 21, 2020. Kevin Fleming – Proposing an alternative route
  • 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?