The E-Tax from someone else’s eyes   2 comments

As I read Tony’s Kansas City, I was so appalled by a comment that I ran into this morning that I had to make it into a blog post. (Here’s the comment)

Hi. I’m 4:51. I live in Pendelton Heights. I went to Bales Baptist Church at 12th and Bales for 15 years. My Grandpa, Mother, Father, 3 Aunts, and Grandma all graduated from Northeast Highschool. Two of those Aunts still live in Scarritt. Do you want my social security number and address? I’m not a liar, nor am I a dumba**. But you know what I am? A f**king voter in KCMO. You’re not. I don’t give two sh*ts if you don’t want to pay this tax. KCMO and I are going to cast our votes in favor of, f**k you jackass

It’s sad that today in Kansas City, and in 24 other cities in this great country, we have lost the sight on one of the grievances that started the American Revolution, “Taxation without Representation”.  As James Otis famously put it, “taxation without representation is tyranny.” So the question of the week is, are your city services worth tyranny? Secondly, do you ever except these people who we are committing tyranny against to ever pass a regional tax to improve the transit system in this area?

The conversations in many ways have been slanted when it comes to services. I don’t think the people who come over here would have a problem paying .25% E-tax for the services they use if they had a vote or some representation in the matter. Here are a few examples of where they have valid points as to why they shouldn’t have to pay the E-tax. First, why should people from surrounding areas contribute to the removal of my trash off 12th and Prospect, I didn’t know they were using this service. Second, why should they contribute to indigent care at Truman, when they don’t qualify to use this service?  Third, why should they pay for our parks when they don’t use them? Fourth, why should someone who is here in Kansas City for 8 to 10 hours a day contribute the same amount to fire and police as a permanent resident does?  These few examples show some of the serious flaws in the E-Tax.

Here’s a concept for the likes of KC Alive and the person who left this comment. Kansas City should learn how to act neighborly. Being neighborly goes both ways. Kansas City leaders complain that they’re stealing our companies and jobs, but we’re not being neighborly by making these people pay for our trash and indigent care which they are not using.  So if this tax passes, don’t moan and groan if they continue to do right by their citizens and steal our companies because it’s all about them. To the leaders of Kansas City, if you don’t like it get your own star bonds!!!

So as April 5th approaches, I ask you to do something for the region of Kansas City. Think about the region as a whole. We have some pressing issues in this city, like improving the transit system of our area, and we cannot do it without a regional tax. Let’s stand up as citizens and do what’s right by our neighbors. It’s not fair that they have to pay for my trash service and other services that they don’t use that the E tax provides. Finally, one last thought to leave you with, the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” One day we will need our neighbors to carry this great city forward.

From Alphonzo Miller a KCMO resident off 12th and Prospect

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Posted March 31, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized

Why to Vote no on the E-Tax it’s not fair   13 comments

Although I am a participating member on the Anti-Earnings Tax (E-Tax) campaign, I am an affected person who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.  The E-Tax is an income tax taken out of a person’s paycheck in addition to federal and state income taxes.  I want to employ a common sense approach to the E-Tax debate by viewing it as a citizen who lives in the inner city.

The people who really pay the E-Tax are citizens who can scarcely afford it in a declining economy. Let us start with a few real life examples of the people in my neighborhood,

  • A mother of three who earns $20,000 a year pays $200 a year in earnings tax.  In real life, this equals out to four (4) monthly bus passes to get her to and from work every day.
  • My aunt is a hard working state employee, who makes between $25,000 to $30,000 a year.  She would pay roughly $300 a year in earnings tax.  Her deductible for health insurance is $300 and she has had a recent bout of illness.  With major expenses like a mortgage, a car payment, regularly living plus the co-pay to see her physician, that 1% would make a big difference in her life.

The E-Tax may not have been on the radar screen had the economy been in a better place, but we are in a tough economy, where the working class in struggling just to make it.  In some parts of the City, 1% can mean a month’s worth of gas or electricity during the winter.  In both of the examples given, the working class is greatly affected by the amount of money taken out of their paychecks each pay period.

Based on the City’s own website, the tax is not levied against interest, dividends, capital gains, and pensions, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security or Disability.  Recipients who fall in any of those categories (i.e. elderly people on Social Security, people on SSI, the unemployed, retirees or people who get money from their 401K’s) do not have to pay anything.  Honestly, I do not have a problem with anyone who falls in any of these categories, but I do have problem when these persons vote on a tax that they do not share responsibility in.  Two examples can best describe what I am talking about,

  • On a recent campaign trail, Mr. Mahlon Davis and I met a mayoral candidate who openly bragged that he did not pay the E-Tax because he lived off dividends from stock and interest payments.  This is a person of means, a voter that has the right to say yes for the E-Tax while not having to pay a dime of E-Tax.
  • Furthermore, what about former state and city employees like city directors and judges who receive huge pensions?  Care of the Kansas City Star’s article on 12/11/10, we find that known community personalities like Marcia Walsh, who receives a annual pension of $76,093 or the Honorable James A. Reed, who receives an annual pension of $52,623  and what about the illustrious former KCMO mayor, Emanuel Cleaver, who receives an annual pension of $21,106.  None of these people pay one dime of E-Tax. http://voices.kansascity.com/entries/kcs-sweet-pension-deal-politicians-judges/#ixzz1HTHAifCw

As a resident of the inner city, I ask the question is the inner city receiving the “services” that they pay for?  The City says that it does not have the money to demolish eyesores like abandoned homes and overgrown lots, yet they can find a million dollars to put up some Christmas lights on Barney Ellis Plaza.  Meanwhile parks on the east side of Troost are overrun with tall grass and weeds, tennis court surfaces have not been resurfaced in years and there are deep holes in the asphalt on basketball courts.  Yet the parks near the Plaza, Waldo and North of the River are kept in immaculate condition.  Does the inner city pay less in taxes than other communities do?  If not, why does inner city parks look different than the ones near the Plaza, Waldo and North of the River?  How about services such as snow removal, do you remember the winters of 2010 when it took forever to get our streets plowed?  One of the original reasons why the E-Tax was passed was for free trash removal and it included free trash bags.  Over the years, the free trash bags have stopped, and you now have  to pay an additional fee for extra trash bags after the first two, the citizen has never seen a refund, a tax break or a decrease in their E-tax since they decreased this service.  It would help if our City leaders would not use the money for extravagances like $1 million for Christmas lights on Barney Ellis Plaza and ask those businesses reaping the benefits of that area to foot the bill.

If the citizens decide that they do not want the E-Tax any more, there would be a removal of $20 million a year for the next 10 years and not an immediate $200 million all at once.  In that time, we can try ideas like the privatization of services like trash.  Last year, Kansas City, Missouri spent $11.1 million dollars in trash collection alone. Oceanside, CA, a city one-third the size of Kansas City privatized their trash collection and had a savings of over $1.7 million a year.  This may sound small but Oceanside, CA is 3 times smaller than Kansas City, Missouri, so the savings would be 3 times larger here. If we privatize trash it will cost each resident, yes, but with experts calling for gas to reach $5 a gallon in the area of about the next 2 years, the next vote will be for the E –Tax to be moved to 1 and half or 2 percent so you’re going to pay for your trash one way or another.   We can also look at other ideas like managed competition, which would allow private entities to compete against city agencies for the right to service the city in different areas.  Big problems deserve big solutions and Kansas City, Missouri has big problems.  If Mr. Davis and I could come up with a few ideas like the ones mention above then why can’t leaders in City Hall come up with a few alternatives?

Recently encountered attacks on the Anti-Earnings Tax (E-Tax) Campaign by various city publications and media entities have alluded to the reduction of a thousand police officers. I ask the opposition to tell me when this event would happen, as this tax would take 10-years to phase out.  Crime is a result of action and requires a certain amount of personal responsibility of citizen who chose to participate in this activity.  It is time that our community realizes that its crime problem is a matter of personal responsibility and no amount of police will solve it.   Correction of issues like education and the lack there of or economic development in the urban core will never happen until the black community takes responsibility for itself. With over 105+ murders the past three years and only a 41% percent homicide solved rate in 2010, this will continue embolden criminals unless we strengthen ourselves from the inside out in the community itself.   In 2007 Kansas City, Missouri’s Deputy Chief of Police, Kevin Masters, understood this fact when he asked the question “How as a police officer can I keep two people who know each other from arguing?” When 81 percent of the violence is based on an argument, and 75 percent know each other, I don’t know that there’s a lot I can do.”

We are in a regional battle for jobs, companies and our tax base and we are losing the war.  We have already lost the Wizards and maybe in the process of losing AMC Entertainment.   If our leaders don’t stop the bleeding, Kansas City will look like the former Motor City called Detroit, Michigan, a once affluent city of success is now an abandoned heap of bricks.   Critics of this campaign concentrate on raising questions about funding sources rather than the merits of tax.  Why because they know that Kansas Citians are being lied to.  The facts are these:

  • The people who really pay this tax are those people who can scarcely afford to do so.
  • The rich, the retired and other special groups do not pay a dime.
  • Most of our most prominent leaders telling the masses to approve this tax live E-Tax free.
  • The inner city does not receive City services in the same manner as other outlying communities and does not get what it pays for.
  • There is no compelling reason for our city leaders to look for innovations and new ways of doing business. When they receive a blank check every day that the E-tax is collected.
  • Crime is a people problem and hiring more cops is not the answer besides phasing out the E-Tax will take 10 years at a rate of $20 million dollars a year.
  • If Kansas City does not improve its present business climate, then it will lose its businesses to surrounding neighbors in Raytown, Independence, Lee’s Summit and Johnson County.

I would like to invite my fellow citizens to ask questions and get informed about this topic.  There will be an E-Tax Facts and Fallacies meet and greet event on March 28, 2011 at Papa Lews (2128 East 12th Street, KCMO) from 3-5 PM.  The first 20 people will receive a free dinner while in attendance.  The last two meetings will take place at the LH Bluford Library at 31st and Prospect on March 30th from 5-8PM and at the Waldo Library at 75th and Grand on March 31, 2011 from 3-5 PM.  Agree or disagree, I welcome the dialogue because the time for hard decisions is now.

Posted March 24, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized

Addressing some problems at KCMSD   1 comment

With the news stories around the problems at Southwest High School I have been asked, while on the campaign trail, what I can do a to help the Kansas City Missouri School District if elected as a city council member.  As your councilman, I will support the school board and Dr. Covington in any way that I can. I feel that as a citizen, however, that I can do more. For too long I’ve felt as a community that we have poured gas on the fire known as the Kansas City Missouri School District. It’s time for individual citizens to start sprinkling what water we have left on this fire and, working together as a city, I believe we can put this fire out.  As a city, we are going about attacking this issue in a misguided way. The way society works is family, community, then schools.  We are blaming everything from teachers to the school board to Dr. Covington closing extras schools. Yes, these are valid complaints, but you don’t fix the roof of your house when you have foundation problems. I believe there is a direct correlation with the single parent problems in our community and the detraction of the KCMSD. But that’s only half the story, if you go to majority of the students in the district and asks them who lives 3 or 4 houses down the street. They most likely will not know, that is because as a community we have lost connection with one another as a community.

So what I’m proposing is a system, like the classic neighborhood watch program, where community is used to improve the quality of the reinforcement of education in the children in Kansas City receives. Also, what teachers teach in school has to be followed up at home for the kids to retain the information. Two hours of extra reading a week and extra math questions from a community helper can influence every child no matter what age. With a lot of single parents working crazy hours or lacking the knowledge to help their kids, this is where my program can help. I know we have local groups in Kansas City who tutor, but what I’m trying to do is bring community back.

What I want the program to do is provide tutoring a few hours a day, 3 days a week during the school week and 2 hours on Saturday.  I also want to have city wide meetings once every two months were we bring in different speakers, who came from the different districts, who have succeeded (i.e. city council members and local business owners).  In this more united world we are moving toward, our kids are going to need college degrees to succeed. So we need to help create a higher level of expectations within the KCMSD. The days of graduating high school and getting a decent job are fading day by day and no one is educating students to this reality. I also want to have a program where we take high school freshmen to the campuses of MU, KU, UMKC, Avila, and Rockhurst to show them what college life is all about. You don’t dream about a university life if the only world you know exists within the boundary of the KCMSD. I also want to infuse the programs with volunteers from around the city. Because in some areas will have low participation and we need to full that void.  It’s time for real change because, for far too long, young and old alike have sat around and watched the detraction of this school district and have done nothing. We all have a vested interest because it’s going to be hard to attract residents to this great city with a failing school system.

There are other problems to address, but the leaders of the district have to address the systemic problems within the district. These plans are preliminary and I will be meeting with different leaders over the next few months to improve on my plan. I would like to have the plan in place by the next school year. As a graduate of this great district I want to see it come back to its past glory. I’m open to all ideas that the residents have to offer. I’m also looking for volunteers to help me spearhead this project.  Remember it takes a village to raise a child, shouldn’t it also take a community to educate one? If you have any questions, ideas or want to help please email alpokc32@gmail.com or on Twitter @mdavis4kc Also all week, I will be accepting questions from residents and will post answers as my online forum continues. You can send your responses and inquiries to the  two links above. Other topics from the forum at www.mdavis4kc.wordpress.com

MAHLON DAVIS  5TH DISTRICT AT LARGE WRITE-IN CANDIDATE

Posted February 15, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized

Let’s Set the Story Straight   1 comment

This morning, on a local paper’s website, my ideas (highlighted that word for the writer who obviously missed it when he read my ideas earlier in the week) were attacked. I feel I needed to put a response out. Let me say to Mr. Yael Abouhalkah, we all understand where you stand on the E-tax. As a journalist, you should be at least somewhat unbiased. A great example is the blogger over at the blog of Tony’s Kansas City. Not once did he attack my idea even though he doesn’t agree with me on the E-tax.

Let me address the issue of the privatization of trash which you say won’t create additional revenue. I believe the city of Oceanside Ca. would disagree with you since they just received a 1million dollar signing bonus plus a franchise fee of 1.7 million a year from a private trash company. My real issue with you is that you attacked me on Dec 8th when you said “Of course, Davis also thought it would be feasible to ask people to pay up to $60 million in fees for trash collection. Sorry, not happening”. You didn’t have a problem when the city manager, in his proposed budget, included trash fees in the city budget if we lost the e-tax. So why the attack on me when I said it in November and December?

I also want to address the idea being thrown around, which you are not attacking, about higher property taxes. If we raise property taxes on the resident of Kansas City what is going to happen? You, like me, know that people are going to leave. Why pay more property taxes in a city when I can just move five miles west and receive better roads, schools, and services? It’s time for the leaders of this city to realize that we are no longer the Kansas City of the past and that we are in a competitive fight for the residents and jobs of the metropolitan area. In the past 10 years we have lost half of the students in Kansas City Missouri School District but that also means we have lost citizens of this great city and also tax revenue. If we keep up with the status quo, in 20 years we will go from being the largest city in the metro area, down to the third largest.

Let’s address the effect of the E-tax on the business community. Supporters of the E-tax always talk about the attack on the city services and public safety, but what about the effect on small businesses? Let’s use a small business that grosses $200,000 in revenue. They owe the city $2,000 for the E-tax which, for a small business, can equate to two months of rent and possibly a few hundred dollars to put back in the business. I can move my business to Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Independence, or Johnson County and still service the same clientele and keep my $2,000 in the company. We can look at the proposed $4,000,000 deal Overland Park gave to Polsinelli Shughart to move into Overland Park. Not a bad deal when you look at it this way. Let’s say they make $100 million a year and leave Kansas City tomorrow. In the next 5 years, they would stand to make an extra 9 million dollars with the money from Overland Park and the E-tax in their pocket. Now what CEO is not going to do that?

Is someone going to stand up for the people who pay the E- tax without representation? People who commute from the suburbs contribute to our economy every day; just go to the Power and Light District and the Town Pavilion during lunch. In November, we voted to have a say in the E-tax; but shouldn’t the people who work downtown and live elsewhere have a say? Is it really fair to force someone from Johnson County to pay for indigent care from Truman Medical Center when they don’t use it?

As I close, I will give you the closing remarks from Mr. Abouhalkah’s article: But no one should take earnings tax critics like Davis seriously when they don’t provide substantive ideas on how to replace the e-tax revenue to keep basic city services in KC. I sorely disagree with this point because in April, the voters will decide where we stand on this issue. Whether you agree with Mr. Abouhalkah, and the supports of the E-tax, or with me, against the E-tax, the real question is why are the future leaders playing politics with your city? Ask Mrs Circo, Michael Brown, Scott Taylor, Scott Wagner, and all the other Mayoral and City Council candidates. Tell me, what is your plan if we lose the E-tax? Our city leaders need to be proactive, and not wait for issues to present themselves as they come to the surface. If our leaders do not take initiative, our new reality could be Detroit!

In addition, the population of Oceanside is 173,000 so what is trash contracts in a city of our size worth?

Also here is the article where the info came from: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/oceanside/article_0149f91b-0488-57d6-9251-10730c0a4d98.html

Posted February 11, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized

E- tax Ideas   1 comment

A Few Ideas If the E-tax Is Lost                                             

Privatization of trash

My plan to privatize trash works like this:

  • I want to allow an open bid process for all 6 districts
  • Each bid will run for 4 years (open for discussion)
  • I want to allow a special bid in the 3rd and 5th districts to attract the companies operating in those districts to come from within
  • There will be a franchise fee paid yearly to the city (amount open for discussion)
  • Also, a requirement will be to hire the displaced workers that privatization will create

Through this process, the city will save $11,119,780 (amount allocated in the current budget). Furthermore, it will create an additional amount of revenue for the city from the franchise fees received from the contractors.

Land Tax

I’m currently investigating the pro and cons of a land tax to help supplement the loss of the E-tax

City Elected Officials Sacrifice

In this economic climate of uncertainty, I feel that it’s time for our leaders to lead by example. As citizens of the city continue to struggle in their day to day life, with things such as furloughs and lay-offs, I think it would be unfair for us, as elected officials, to ask the city to make sacrifices and not go the extra mile ourselves. So I’m proposing that all City Council members take a $20,000 a year pay cut. You can’t accurately represent an entire community if you’re not going through the same struggle they are. To add to this, I’m asking the future mayor to take a 20% pay cut as well. This will generate an additional $265,000 in savings per year over the next life of the city council.

Managed Competition

Managed competition is a concept being successfully used around the country in cities like: Phoenix, San Diego, Charlotte, and Tulsa.  What it entails is allowing city services to be open for competition with the private sector. What this process will do is increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the services we provide to the citizens, while cutting the cost to provide these services.

My Ideas for use of this process in Kansas City

  • Four areas where I feel we can start with this process would be: Public Works, IT Department, Parks and Recreation, and Water.
  • I want to bring an independent auditor to go through the remaining city’s departments so we can find other areas for this process
  • The city council will have total control of setting the rules and requirements  for the process (i.e. In Phoenix, private bid has to beat the city by 10% to win the bid)
  • I would personally like to see a clause that any jobs removed from the city has to go to the displaced workers at a set rate of pay to win a city bid

This plan is in no way an attack on the hard working city employees throughout the great city of Kansas City. My job, as an elected official, would be to increase efficiency and effectiveness of city services to the residents of the city. In addition, through open competition we can lower the cost of these services. This plan also would provide a partnership between the unions and the city to bid on these contracts in a fair and unbiased bidding process. Fire and police services would  be exempt from this process.

Conclusion

We all know my views on the E-tax, but I think people miss the bigger point with the E-tax. This is the biggest issue that’s been presented to me that I’ve had to face on the campaign trail, but I only count as one vote within this great city. In April the people will decide what’s best for this city. It’s my job as a councilman to help facilitate the needs and wants of the people with my vote on the council.  As people try to confront me on my views of the E-tax, I have one question for the likes of Cindy Circo, Michael Brown, Scott Taylor, Charlie Angel, Scott Wagner and the other candidates running for council.  If the voters decide in April that the E-tax is not the direction they want to go, what plans or ideas do you have for the city?

In conclusion, I want to present the citizens this thought; has the city been good stewards with your tax revenue?   The city is asking everyone to give $200 million for five more years, but what kind of improvement plan has the council offered for us to consider using those funds? If you approach a bank for a business loan you would need a business plan. Have you seen a plan yet on how they will spend? What about how they plan to improve services if we approve this tax? I want to call for accountability and a vision on how the E-tax is going to be used over five years.  The bottom line is this; there’s a lack of leadership in city hall and it’s time we make them show us where our hard earned dollars are going and not just give them a blank check for five years..

Approved By Mahlon Davis  2/7/2011

Posted February 8, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized

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Posted February 8, 2011 by mdavis4kc in Uncategorized