Monday, January 12, 2009

Dammit! You can always have a bowl of cereal!

Locals speak out on Gary bailout funds

Several residents through e-mail, have expressed their take on the financial crisis that has taken hold of the city. Most of the insight seem to stem from a lack of trust of government or what they perceive as no clarity in government--a theme repeated throughout the President-elect's campaign.

Here are some of the more colorful comments:

"If you guys downstate want to give them some of the State's money, go ahead! But don't give them any of our money! The only people that should be allowed to vote on the City being able to increase our tax rates, are those whose money it is--the taxpayers. In fact the vote on such a "bailout" should be restricted to taxpayers. If you don't get a tax bill, no vote!

They are just not ready to stop stealing quite yet. They really have no idea how to start cutting their budget. They just have no idea how to operate in that mode. It is as far opposite from the way they've been taught to think as possible. They are obviously unwilling to begin cutting their budgets. Gary's budget has been loaded with excess for decades. As long as nearly every person employed by the City has been there. These cuts need to be forced upon them or they will just never happen, at least not in any meaningful way, and not in the proper order.

So BEFORE the State decides to give these clowns any more of OUR money, it is incumbent upon the State to do a full audit. Not afterwards. Otherwise, it would seem to me that they may be putting themselves at risk of being complicit in the massive fraud that will surely be uncovered before much longer. The fraud which has been perpetrated on Gary taxpayers for years, through misappropriation, misapplication, misuse, and incompetent and neglectful management (mismanagement) of the taxpayer's money.

If the State, through the DUAB is unwilling to get fully involved to adequately protect the Gary taxpayers, that's fine. Just don't then become partially involved by allowing the City to get there dirty little hands on one cent more of our money.

The DUAB cannot take the easy road here. They are in the perfect position to solve the "Gary problem" once and for all. It would be a terrible shame if they did not take full advantage of this unique opportunity. And it would be a travesty if the Gary taxpayers were deprived of the benefits they would realize if this opportunity were properly acted upon. Salvation for our city can be at hand, as long as the State doesn't opt to take the easy route. They cannot become a party to the City of Gary skirting the law which was established to protect taxpayers from the very abuses which Gary taxpayers have been and will continue to be victims of. So before they enter into any arrangement by which they could be perceived to be complicit or culpable in the perpetuation of the massive fraud that; has existed, exists today, and will continue to exist in Gary, this "crime of the century in the City of the Century", they need to ensure that they have done their due diligence. Doing an audit after they've enabled the City to take more of our money is not good enough. They need to do the full examination first. This exam will likely determine that the patient is terminally ill, and should therefore not continue to receive any extraordinary measures of life support--financial life support in the City's case.

Any audit must be far more intensive than simply some CPAs going over paperwork in an office down in Indy. The audit needs to also be inclusive of employee performance and department performance--most likely nonperformance in Gary's case. In simple terms, we need to know exactly what we've been getting and what we're not getting for all of the billions that go through the individuals' hands that control the City's purse strings. There are many ways which our tax dollars can be taken from us without us receiving the actual benefit for which they were designated. They can be stolen through frauds. They can simply be burned up by a bloated, nonproductive system. There are any number of ways which these funds are diverted before they reach their intended use. An incredibly small portion of the overall money that makes its way through the city provides any real benefit to the taxpayers and citizens.

Simply put, we are not getting near our money's worth. It is the job--the responsibility--of the State's Distressed Unit Appeals Board to see that we do. Please do this job for us fully, properly, intensively, and extensively.

I am a little discouraged to read today that after a DLGF audit, that they only found some questionable expenses that amount to a little over $30,000.00. I am not a CPA, but I am sure that if I were left alone with the City's books, I could find evidence of misappropriations of millions with very little effort in very little time.

I think that what the State really needs to do is something our friends at the IRS call an "Economic Reality Audit"--except in reverse! First let me explain briefly what an Economic Reality Audit (ERA) is; when individuals that report low levels of income, yet live well beyond their means, are suspected under reporting their income, sometimes the IRS sees fit to conduct an ERA. For example; if someone has Ferraris, Cigarette boats, a million-dollar house, and travels constantly, yet only reports $30,000.00 per year, they would probably be a good candidate for an ERA. The IRS might ask, "How did you get all of these goodies if you aren't making any money?"

But in the case of the City of Gary, where we know for a fact that they have been receiving enormous levels of income, we need for the State to conduct this "Reverse Economic Reality Audit". They need to come and do a physical audit of the condition of the city. They need to determine why the taxpayers' funds which all have very specific earmarks, have apparently been diverted. In short, why has our city fallen apart? Why has it been let go to the point of collapse? Why should we continue to have to live like this? Why do the citizens and taxpayers suffer while the ones in charge of providing these deserved services to us continue to live high on the hog? The DUAB should ask, "Why doesn't the city have any "goodies" when they have been receiving more than enough money to purchase them?" Why don't they have anything!

We want answers! We demand answers! And until we get them, don't even consider giving them more of our money!"

"I certainly appreciate Beach464's seemingly astute insights into Gary's current plight. He/she seems to have carefully read the Post-Tribune in recent days, for example the article on January 9 about the recent state audit, which, however, found little to quibble about. But what about the bulk the piece, which begins: "A new report questions whether the city of Gary can continue to exist if a state appeals board chooses not to raise local tax caps and increase city revenues." That is, whether the loss will be $36 million or "only" $24 million, the auditors have "substantial doubt about the city's ability to continue as a going concern." This is NOT a report from the current city administration, but comes from the State Board of Accounts, no apologists for Mayor Clay. So, what is to be done? Simply, more money MUST be found, either from property taxes, a county income tax, U.S. Steel, Barden casinos, or ??? But I don't see any suggestions from Beach46403 (or any of the other critics of the current administration) to deal with this looming disaster, except to further cut the city's budget. Where should city spending further be cut? And I don't mean the small stuff that seems to generate so much criticism, but millions and millions of dollars in reduced services, $24-$36 million to be exact! Why would any businesses stay in Gary if the city is doomed to disintegration? I hope the MCC, Beach46403, etc. have some of the answers, but so far they have not been forthcoming, except the Karl Rove, Grover Norquist mantra of cut, cut, cut.
Who decides to provide bailout money to the Gary community? Would the House Financial Institution Committee make this decision? Are we depending upon Governor Daniels? I would like to forward this email to each official responsible for the decisions made pertaining to the bailout.
If you guys downstate want to give them some of the State's money, go ahead! But don't give them any of our money! The only people that should be allowed to vote on the City being able to increase our tax rates, are those whose money it is--the taxpayers. In fact the vote on such a "bailout" should be restricted to taxpayers. If you don't get a tax bill, no vote!"

And, the Post-Tribune reports that the mayor has bought a new Hummer and charged it to the city. He said it was the lowest cost SUV and would save the city money.
Talk about bad timing.

I guess I shouldn't complain about not having enough money for food. Time for the weight loss to begin! I would not want the mayor's job because he is between a rock and a hard place.
He is joining the club!

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