| Outline of a Compromise on Property Taxes|
Posted 4/21/2013 by Christopher
Compromise is often regarded as a dirty word in modern American politics. When it comes to compromising one’s principles that may be true. But as Thomas Jefferson once said, “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principles.” Such an example may be the debate currently taking place in the Iowa legislature over how to best provide property tax relief.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that something must be done. Both parties agree that growing property taxes are an impediment to job creation. Iowa is the third highest state in taxing commercial property and the problem is getting worse. Using the state’s formula of assessments and valuations we can calculate out how much worse it is going to get over the next few years.
The Senate Democrats have passed SF 295 – which provides a credit to “Main Street” businesses – commercial property owners – similar to the Homestead credit you and I get for our homes. Their concern is that property tax relief go to smaller Iowa owned businesses, not the Wal-Marts or large out of state corporations, so the credit is pro-rated based on size.
The House Republicans, rather than just pass their own bill and let the two ships pass in the night, took the Senate’s plan and amended it with their own sending it back to the Senate for their consideration. The Republicans favor a larger scale effort; rolling back the valuation of commercial and industrial property by 20% (your home’s value is rolled back by approximately 50%), cap the growth rate of all assessments at 2%, and have the state pick up more of the cost of K-12 education from property taxes.
There is merit to both plans. The question before we taxpayers is whether or not we are going to be content with another year of posturing – or will we apply pressure to both sides to find some common ground and get something done.
To read my full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal on April 21 click the link above.
| Truth Behind the Casino Ads|
Posted 3/25/2013 by Christopher
I was reading the Journal a week ago when I about fell off my chair. The full page advertisement from Penn National Gaming for their Hollywood Casino was so outlandish, and told such a whopper of a tale I didn't know whether to be outraged or to laugh out loud. Misleading attack ads have made the jump from political campaigns into our local discussion about a future casino.
Penn's ad shows a big graph depicting large increases in tax revenue flowing to our school district if their casino proposal is chosen, and decreasing revenue if the Hard Rock or Warrior proposals are chosen. They argue that because those two facilities utilize Tax Increment Financing that the school district will see a reduction in revenue.
Baloney. Hooey. Nonsense.
To read the rest of my column - unfortunately the SC Journal decided not to print - please click the link above
| Debating Guns is Missing the Point|
Posted 2/10/2013 by Christopher
James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Robert Hawkins, Jared Loughner , Adam Moss, James Kroll – when does a list like this stop, and when will society finally take action and say enough is enough?
All of these men shocked us, both as a nation and in our own community with senseless death and destruction. It doesn’t matter if it was one death or a dozen; innocent lives were taken with no provocation or warning. To the victims and their families, all are equally tragic.
Yet Congress and the President are missing an opportunity to do something meaningful - about mental illness.
Rather than have a national conversation on what causes these acts of violence, the political battle lines are drawn over guns.
To read the full article that appeared in the February 10th Sioux City Journal, please click the link above.
| Speaker to Speaker|
Posted 1/13/2013 by Christopher
Dear Speaker Boehner,
From one former Speaker of the House to a current one, as one who had to deal with an executive branch and Senate controlled by the opposite party - here are a few lessons I learned during my tenure wielding the gavel:
First, never, ever, ever, let a Senator negotiate for you. They don’t have your interests at heart, they don’t care about your caucus members like you do, and they aren’t answerable to them either. Doesn’t matter if it’s a US Senator, or an Iowa Senator – they are Senators. Only you can negotiate what is in the best interest of the House. I know you got jammed up by your own members on your Plan B proposal, but turning things over to Senator McConnell to cut the deal wasn’t in your best interest.
To read the full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal, please click the link above
| Pick the Warrior for the new Casino Site|
Posted 12/16/2012 by Christopher
The selection of casino operators by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will shape the future of downtown Sioux City for the rest of our collective lifetimes.
I don’t envy Chairman Lamberti or the rest of the IRGC board. It is a difficult decision. But I hope my former colleagues (in case Delores Mertz should read this) and the commissioners will consider not just what delivers the most revenue into the state’s coffers, but which proposal does the most to foster growth and development in Sioux City.
I believe the Warrior Entertainment proposal; to rehab the Warrior Hotel and Davidson buildings is in the best interest of our community.
TO read the full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal on 12/13/12 please click the link above.
| GOP Needs to Take Time to Decipher Lessons from 2012|
Posted 11/25/2012 by Christopher
The morning after an electoral shellacking, prognosticators immediately start concocting remedies for their ailing political clients. This year is no different. While there is much to be learned from examining the symptoms presented by our ailing Republican Party, and we can diagnose the problems presented, I’m not convinced that anyone yet has a handle on the cure.
Many immediately took to blaming our candidate for not being conservative enough. Others have said the GOP’s primary process was a grinder that forced Romney into conservative positions that didn’t sit well with the general public.
One thing is clear – our primaries for both president and senate produced damaged candidates. For those who want “pure” conservatives, its tough to imagine candidates more conservative than Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock. It’s not likely that would have helped.
I told a reporter after the election “the fact is we can't be the party of old white guys.” That bothered some readers. They better quit staring in the mirror and look around. The demographics of the country are changing and Republicans must acknowledge that. White males made up 34% of the electorate – down from 2008. It will go down again in 2014.
To read the rest of this column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal on 11/25/12, click the link above.