Economic Recovery Program Coming to Washmo ?

2/5/09

During the February 2nd, 2009 City Council meeting, we were presented a wish list of what is euphemistically called “shovel ready” projects. Shovel ready is important because it means these are projects that can be  quickly approved, already have engineering and DNR approval. In short, shovels can begin digging immediately once approved by the Obama administration.

Here is list of Round One Projects:

  • W. Main and Grand Ave. resurfacing      $169,300
    W. 8th resurfacing                                        $290,000
    Clay resurfacing                                            $155,250
    Old H/W 100 resurfacing                           $42,000
    Camp St. Bridge construction                    $450,000

Round Two Projects:

  • Front and Elm Streetscape                                        $2,500,000
    H/W 100 widening to the west                                 $15 million
    H/w A to YY ditch & shoulder work                          TBA
    Old H/W 100 replace bridge                                       TBA

John Rhodes tried to pass a resolution that would remove the Camp Street bridge as a project. Ultimately, his proposal failed to gain council support and the Mohesky version passed, including all recovery items.

My thinking was that I would rather have a bird in hand than 10 in the bush. I commented that if we were to get approval for the Camp Street Bridge, I would go back to my constituents and seek their guidance for an up or down vote as to whether or not we should except the funding.

Most of my objection to the Camp Street Bridge was cost and justification. Many of my arguments are neutralized if the bridge is built free and “free” is what I really want to talk about regarding this subject of “stimulus.”

In the 1930’s America had their own version of the Obama stimulus package and it was called the “New Deal.” While many like to reconstruct history and romanticize about FDR and his “New Deal,” reality sometimes takes a back seat to popularized myths.

By 1939 Roosevelt’s own Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had realized that the New Deal economic policies had failed. “We have tried spending money,” Morgenthau wrote in his diary. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . After eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

The reality is that in early 1933, the unemployment rate was 25%. After 5 years of the “New Deal” and billions of “then” dollars spent, the unemployment rate was still near 20%. Big whoopty-do.

And as Obama attempts to create some 4 million government jobs for Americans, he will be re-tracing the exact same miss-steps and making the exact same mistakes as did FDR – growth will come from government not private industry, private industry that pays taxes and is the hallmark for innovation and true prosperity. Volumes have been written on how the New Deal eviscerated American competitiveness and created the hydra-headed monster of big business collusion.

In 1937 even Roosevelt admitted  the ineptness of his decision as a secondary depression crippled the economy. “The disappearance of price competition,” he said, “is one of the primary causes of the difficulties.”

I think, no, I know this is a bad idea. For a “very” short term gain, we will be strapping future generations of Americans with trillions of dollars in debt, as the treasury money presses go into hyper-drive. We will increase the government size in ways that can not even be imagined. If anyone thinks this is a good idea, go back and reread your history books. Look at New Jersey, now, a state that government has become the largest industry in that garden state, ditto for California. Citizens are fleeing those states faster than rats off of a sinking ship.

The same government that got us into this mess is now going to deliver us from it? I don’t think I am buying this horse hockey sandwich. This “Stimulus Package” was not good for America in 1933 and is not good for America in 2009.

Guy Midkiff. ………….. .COMMENTS BELOW SENT TO MY EMAIL ACCOUNT:

Guy,
I just wanted to vent a little on the Mayors comment on the Camp Street Bridge possibly being funded by the bailout funding. He said it will not cost the taxpayers anything. Where does he think its coming from? (THIS PORTION OF THE WRITERS EMAIL HAS BEEN REDACTED>>GWM)? It may be Federal Tax money or State Tax money but in the end it is still TAX MONEY.

Please forward.

Thanks,

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Agree with it or not, the stimulus package is reality. Why shouldn’t we Washingtonians get some benefit? Too bad this has become so political and liberal. The editor of this blog remarks that he is a Ronald Reagan Republican, but in this writers opinion, his discussions and views on some major issues (like Camp Street Bridge) seem pretty far left to me. I invite Guy, like I did Roger Langendoerfer and Jeff Mohesky to go door to door and get Washingtonians opinions. Because of the liberal views on this topic, I feel an objective person or someone who disagree with the politics with this issue, will keep the leftist honest in a “fair and unbiased” survey.

    From Mike Edler

  2. Guy

    Had friends over last night and one of them sent you a note with my email. However I am disappointed with how the Council has handed Camp Sreet Bridge and I do think and “unbiased” survey would be helpful and I have offered an invitaion to Roger and Jeff to go door to door for a survey…keeps everyone honest that way

    From Mike Edler

  3. Mike Edler:

    Aldous Huxley, author of a Brave New World, once said: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

    “LIBERAL?”

    Interesting choice of words. If you really think Ronald Reagan would have agreed to Obama’s “stimulus package”, you clearly have not read much about him. Not only have I read most of his speeches, but I also had the fortune to see and hear him speak at Texas A&M, in the 80’s.

    Please read President Reagan’s first inaugural address given in January 26, of 1982. In that speech, Mr. Reagan said the following:

    “This time, however, things are different. We have an economic program in place, completely different from the artificial quick fixes of the past. It calls for a reduction of the rate of increase in government spending, and already that rate has been cut nearly in half. But reduced spending alone isn’t enough. We’ve just implemented the first and smallest phase of a 3-year tax rate reduction designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Already, interest rates are down to 15 3/4 percent, but they must still go lower. Inflation is down from 12.4 percent to 8.9, and for the month of December it was running at an annualized rate of 5.2 percent. If we had not acted as we did, things would be far worse for all Americans than they are today. Inflation — Inflation, taxes, and interest rates would all be higher.”

    If you care to read the entire speech, please go to the following link:

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreagansou1982.htm

    I would like for you to explain how calling for the resurrection of Camp Street Bridge conforms in any way to the ideas set forth by President Reagan?

    Camp Street Bridge represents a huge waste of taxpayer dollars under the ruse of safety. It will not connect the city to any industry. Its construction will provide limited work for a few, which is about all that can be said for it. But the work will be temporary and certainly not approach “stimulus” status for our economy. It is a porked-out spending program, period.

    If Washington is to receive “stimulus” money, I personally would like to see it go to where it would actually stimulate the local economy. I would like to see it go to the industrial park to make new industry projects shovel ready. I would like to see it used to pay down the $20 million dollar water treatment plant, reducing the financial burden on our community – especially seniors. I would like to see it used to widen roads such as A and 100 west. I would like to see it used to re-build our 100 year old bridge, over the Missouri River. I would like to see it used for a tax holiday for sales tax, to encourage citizens to buy. I would like to see it used to give tax credits given to local businesses for capital improvement.

    Somehow, I doubt very seriously that the same government that got us into this mess, will now somehow deliver us from it. Maybe you have bought into the amorphous concepts of hope and change – but I haven’t.

    Mike, you will not have to pay for this boon-doggle, your and my kids and grand kids will. I call this generational theft.

    Guy Midkiff
    City Council
    Ward III
    Washington, Mo.

    “Liberal.” I think not.

  4. Guy

    The stimulus package is a done deal; I wasn’t in favor of it bu it is settled law. What other “shovel ready” projects are ready in Washington, MO?

    So, are you saying you are wiser than all EMS directors, city staff etc…? They are all in favor of it. What I meant about Ronald Reagan, aside from the fact he probably wouldn’t have been in favor of this stimulus package, is that he was a progressive leader and Camp Street Bridge is progress. While I was growing up here in Washington; Jefferson Street was known as “Union Hill.” And, Guy I have to tell you I will forever have desired it to stay exactly that way. But since it hasn’t, those of you who are responsible for leadership, need to provide it and quit getting caught up in the chaos of “a few adjoining propery owners” and look at my hometown which I love in its entirety. For that I would be most greatful to you. My invitation is still open; maybe door to door is to cumbersome; we could get together with proper sampling techniques from each ward and make the random calls with unbiased phone calls. Again Guy, what is more “shovel ready” than Camp Street which EMS all endorse. Why do you overlook the safety of our community and easing traffic flow.

    Take care
    Mike

  5. Mike,

    You said:

    “The stimulus package is a done deal; I wasn’t in favor of it bu it is settled law. What other “shovel ready” projects are ready in Washington, MO?”

    The stimulus package, in fact, is not a done deal. Congress legislates – not the executive. Not even 1/4 of the Stimulus package will be spent in the next two years. And I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but Congress’ approval rating is in the single digits. There is a very, very good chance that Republicans will retake Congress and put a stake in the heart of this so-called Stimulus Bill.

    As far as “shovel ready”, please re-read my earlier post where I addressed several projects – least of which are several 353 projects such as “Team Track.” “Shovel Ready” is not the only criteria for stimulus funds.

    Safety is an interesting concept, Mike. Do you have a fire sprinkler system, a defibrillator, or epinephrine handy in your personal house? No, probably not.

    As it stands now, Walmart is a single access facility. This has led to speedy arrests from individuals attempting to rob these businesses. I know some police have expressed concern that opening up another access point will make it vastly more difficult to catch criminals. We can use your same logic model to conclude that safety could suffer if criminals can not be prevented from fleeing the scene of a crime because of multiple egress points – right?

    Also, I can tell you that I don’t keep 4 spare tires in my car and I very rarely fly my 140 passenger jet with a full tank of gas. Is that unsafe? No, it is not, because safety is a relative concept. There is a certain amount of risk associated with life, Mike. The bridge has been down as long or longer than most of the current residents have lived there. Those that moved there after the bridge went down, chose to do so – knowing their location in relation to EMS services.

    True, people that own homes next to police and fire stations are relatively more safe. But can’t EMS services open the gate anytime they need emergency access to the area? This is hardly the un-assessable island you make it out to be.

    Many of us choose to live far from these services and yet still fall within what we consider a reasonable distance to EMS services. That is called personal responsibility and personal choice – one of the great things about living in a free country.

    Are you suggesting, though, that the people that chose to move there (camp street), after the bridge went down, made an unwise decision and are living in an unsafe environment? How about Meng Estates or Stone Crest? According to your logic, should we not now build a police, fire and EMS station in their neighborhoods? Is the city being negligent in not doing so? Heck, for that matter, how safe is it having corporate jets takeoff and land at our airport that has no EMS service what so ever? Have you ever seen how fast a jet can burn? I have and it is not pretty.

    Now as far as a door to door campaign, I don’t know about you, but I work a full time job and own businesses on the side, and have the typical family obligations to boot. Even now, I am writing you after getting in from a 3 day business trip and then go out again in the AM for another 3 day business trip.

    I have gone on KLPW and KSLQ soliciting responses from those in my ward. I have made multiple statements during City Council meetings soliciting comments. I have been quoted in the Missourian asking for comments. I also posted on this blog regularly regarding the subject. And while you may not care for this response, I have had exactly 6 phone calls from people interested in this issue – and 2 of them were not even in my ward.

    While Camp Street may be high on your priority list, it clearly isn’t for most others in my ward. And while I wished I had the time, I simply can’t run a door to door campaign every time I have to vote on an issue. (Lord knows I need the exercise, though.) Somehow I suspect whatever sample size I used, though, you would not be happy with the results if they didn’t suit you.

    Ultimately, this is a stimulus bill and you still have not justified why the bridge should be re-built based solely on that requirement. Please show me how this bridge, that has gone magically from $450k to $665k in 2 weeks, can be justified on anything approaching a return on investment basis?

    But here is the bottom line, the calls to my house are almost even – I just received another call for the bridge as I write this. If I get more calls from those wanting it, than those that don’t, I will vote for it. I am in the phone book – unlike some councilpersons of the past. You want to have a civil, adult conversation about any issue – here I am. Convince me I am wrong and I will happily change my position. Thinking about and old Spanish proverb I once heard: “A wise man changes his mind; a fool, never.”

    Conversely, Winston Churchill said: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Something to chew on.

    I suspect you and I agree on vastly more things than we disagree on. But if you are looking for a politician that agrees with you on ever topic you feel passionately about, my guess is the first person you meet like that will probably be a fraud. I can only be myself and I can not be all things to all people.

    BTW, do you have any idea who the person is that the Missourian allows to write pro-bridge and airport letters to the editor, under the privilege of anonymity? I was told you may know who that person is.

    Sincerely yours,
    Guy W. Midkiff
    Ward III
    Washington, Mo.

  6. Guy

    I just typed a lenghthy response and lost it becasue I didn’t have my name and information entered. As I explained in that email, typing is not my favorite thing to do. If you want to buy me a beer (I am part German….tight!, Irish and French) we can discuss this further. Actually I am miffed because I lost my entry and am too lazy to redo it. Why isn’t your site more forgiving and allow me to enter my name etc… at the very end, even if I forgot to enter it on the front end? Take care and have a safe flight.

    Mike

  7. I have a few questions for Mike Edler and his belief that this is a safety issue. The Fire Chief and EMS also got the city to go for the occupancy inspections under the “Safety” umbrella. How many people would now agree that they feel safer because of that decision? How will the increased traffic in the area around the bridge help increase the level of safety? Would you feel safe if the traffic in your neighborhood instantly doubled? Do you really think they are going to leave the gate at Wal-Mart closed if they build the Bridge? If they do keep the gate closed, how is spending $665,000 to build a bridge to nowhere justifiable? How will building this bridge stimulate our local economy? Shovel ready or not, building the bridge does not make any logical sense.

    Now onto your idea that, “why shouldn’t Washington try to get Stimulus Money”. As Guy has stated above, the New Deal had a similar approach to “fixing” the economy. If we throw enough money at it, it has to fix itself. Most of us understand that it does not work and that should’ve proven it to everyone. We now need, more than ever, people to stand up and tell our Governmental Leaders to look at the facts from the past. If they do not listen, turn the money down. If enough Cities and States do not take it, they would have to reconsider their plan. Instead, we now have States and Cities fighting over who is going to get more funding so they can throw it away on miniscule projects like the Camp Street Bridge. The greed of individuals is partially how we got in this mess and now the greed of City and State Governments will not get us out.

  8. Guy

    I don’t respond to unsigned letters. As I am sure you agree, the are not credible people. I won’t waste my valuable time. As a matter of fact, why don’t you require names???

  9. My apologies…I do see Mr. Straamann’s name at the top. I know people who own rentals are not happy with the ordinance. Interesting…I wonder why? As far as not taking the funds (which I understand the issue is dead for now) unless Councilman Mohesky plows ahead with the State, people who think that way (and there is always room for great minds to think differently), are extremely naive, and as Ronald Reagan often said, have “tunnel vision.” It’s about “money.” It always has been and always will be. Any City who first applies like the City of Washington did for stimulus money and then would turn it away if awarded, is guilty of dereliction of duty. Anyone who think city’s in numbers will turn this money down is…you can fill in the blanks.

    Respectfully
    Mike Edler

  10. Wow Mike you did not answer any of my questions. I appriciate the intelligent debate we have going here. (In case you did not pick up on it, thats sarcasim.)

    I do not own rentals and I think it is worthless. I have friends that have recently sold homes in town that thought the entire process is a waste of time and money. I have Real Estate Agents telling me how they have learned how to distract the inspectors during the inspection so they miss certain things. The entire program is a JOKE.

    I am not sure how closly you are following the stimulus plans but I have heard that there is more than one State turning some of the funds away. I understand that most of them are fighting to get more but in the long run the States that take less now will be better off in the future. They realize that the newly created programs will be money pits forever. They also realize that the Federal Government will not always be there with huge handouts to fund these programs. So in the best interest of their State they are choosing to not accept the funds for certain start-up projects.

    I may still be in the minority but I am not the only naive one.


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