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McMasters for Congress -

Category: Articles
I decided to change the web hosting company that carried McMasters4Congress.com.  I've gotten a little busy learning this Mayor position and haven't taken the time to create a 2014 campaign site.  The postings below are copies of article written for the 2010 and 2012 campaigns.  Format isn't pretty and most of the pictures didn't post but you can get an idea of my thoughts

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Budget Deficit and the National Debt,  Healthcare,  It’s Time for a Non-affiliated Primary
Lower the Debt ,  Military Spending  Personal and Political Philosophy
Maybe it’s time we strove to establish single earner homes
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Hello Ohio,
Yes, you are seeing campaign items promoting Tom McMasters for Congress.  For those that didn’t know, I am currently 5 years into my 8 year plan to get elected to Congress. Yes, I’ve developed a strategy that relies on the strength of ideas to gain support for my candidacy.  But ultimately whether I ever get elected or not my ultimate goal is to create an environment that promotes good government.
For those of you that are new to the site:
I am a fiscal conservative that ran in the Republican primary in 2010 and the Democratic primary in 2012. I’m 5 years into an 8 year plan to get elected by 2016.  I am currently circulating petitions to run as an independent in 2014.
I am an idealist trying to change the political atmosphere. I have never taken a monetary campaign contribution and have made the commitment that if elected in 2014 I never will take a monetary contribution.
Being an idealist is great but I also support my idealism with substance. I’ve earned a Bachelors degree in Physics/Mathematics and a Masters Degree in Education. Unlike the traditional politician that once they have your attention they ask for money, the purpose of this website is to inform you about the experiences, research, and knowledge that help me develop the strategies we need to expand the opportunities throughout this country. I know providing you this background will allow you to contribute to the strategy and improve the results far more than one single individual could ever achieve.
Please explore  the website.  I bet you’ll find I’m a great candidate and will be an even better congressman:

Please download my Congressional_Nominating_Petition_, circulate and send back the completed form to my address which is found on the form.  I will need more than 6000 signatures so starting in December 2013 is not too early.  You don’t need to wait until the entire form is filled. In fact, it is fine if you print one out and have your sponse sign it with you as a witness then print another out and you sign with your spouse as a witness.  Then mail both forms to me tomorrow.  Of course, I appreciate if you go to your neighbors and friends today as well.


Budget Deficit and the National Debt
Original article from 2010
My position on the budget deficit can be summed up succinctly:  I believe the deficit is so dangerous to our economy we can’t afford to have any sacred cows.
Executive Summary: On this issue the country cannot afford to have any sacred cows. All programs must be evaluated for possible cost savings. In general, I call upon the people that promote these programs to be the first to act in America’s interest.
The best people to prevent the fraud which turned the working class against welfare are the democrats.
I ask AARP to tap into the moral code of their members who, in an earlier time, responded positively to JFK’s appeal “ask not what your country can do for you”.
I call for Reaganites to look at military spending and identify the waste that tripled the deficit during the 80’s and prompted the current financial crises.
We can start by bringing together all the players and establishing a fair share cut, but the country needs the stake owners to step forward and examine the programs they understand.
Some in Washington talk about reducing the deficit. But they limit the discussion to cuts on social programs. Even there they exempt the big ones of Social Security and Medicare. I don’t believe we can significantly reduce the deficit unless we consider all areas of government. The place where we could be looking for savings but falsely believe it can’t be done is military spending. Of course, some savings will be realized if we reduced Medicare fraud.
I’ll let others propose the social adjustment cuts. It seems we’ve got quiet a few representatives already in this pursuit.
Let me start the discuss about military spending. Certainly there is justifiable military spending. We should pay for efficiently acquired weapons and personal protection equipment. We should pay for family support services that actually mitigate the effects of the present combat environment. We need to improve the transition services from the combat zone. We definitely need to ensure we support those individuals maimed in the service of the country. However, that doesn’t justify the country issuing a blank check to pay for poor management, greed and jealousy. In the next paragraphs I outline some systemic waste of resources I personally witnessed during my 26 years in the military.
Fraud, waste and abuse is taken seriously in the military. Let me tell you how seriously. We had a commanders call one time and during this meeting the representative of the Inspector General came in to give us a briefing on Fraud, Waste and Abuse. During that meeting he asked the audience “Are there any concerns you would like to bring up where you are concerned about possible fraud, waste and abuse?” He didn’t pause a second when he continued “SMSgt XXXXX, you don’t need to stand up, we’ve already determined spending end of year funds does not constitute fraud, waste and abuse.” You see SMSgt XXXXX was also an activist and he was distressed at some of the utilization of money that happens at the end of the year. The reason given for spending this money is it has to be spent because if you return it, Congress will think you don’t need it and they will reduce your budget next year. In order to ensure you get a bigger budget next year you must show you ran out of money this year. This practice is considered waste by a majority of service members and definitely would be by the American tax payer, but for upper management this is the proper way to spend money.
Examples of end of year spending: One year while I was at Altus the 1st Sergeant came around and gave all the squadron members a pen and pencil set. Each piece had our names on them and a little medallion with our squadron patch. Rumor was the cost was over $100 per person, there were 120 people in the squadron and these pens cost about 10% of the year’s original operating budget. Why did we end up with them – because two weeks prior to the fiscal year the money was there and giving it back to the American tax pay is not an option.
The next year the end of the fiscal year was approaching and higher headquarters noticed the number of training hours flown was significantly lower than what they had approved. If the cargo airplanes continued to fly at the same rate over $1 million dollars of hours would not get used by the end of the year. The generals came down with a dictate – fly those hours. Fly them no matter what the other costs. In this case we only had to waste about $300,000 before the Generals realized the F-16 were short on hours and the money could be used to fund a real need.
Both these examples occurred before the start of the wars. There still is no excuse for this thought process but I would have hoped the military leaders would have recognized we needed to be frugal once the conflict began. However, when I was at Edwards, I was sitting around with 3 or 4 people that worked at the clinic. The clinic had some financial problems so a premier council of officers was put in charge to handle the finances. According to the group I was talking with one of the requirements of the council was that all the funds from every month had to be spent during that month. In the assessment of the group this led to end of year spending at the end of every month. In this system the base medical group couldn’t buy any large pieces of new equipment because there wasn’t enough money in the monthly budget to make purchases that big. But since the monthly budget was based on 1/12 of a yearly budget, a budget that was meant to purchase these items, every month the special council had to figure out what to do with all this extra money. According to the speakers this resulted in at least 20% of the budget being wasted on useless equipment. Of course at the end of the probation period the council was praised for correcting the financial problems of the medical group and putting into place new policies. Then the medical groups budget was raised to a level that if done a year earlier would have prevented the initial financial problems.Edward AFB
Another post 9/11 spending spree concerned the Edwards base housing renovation. While at Edwards I lived in a 1470 sq ft house that was built in the 1950′s. There were a lot of complaints because of the age and because these houses were cooled by swamp coolers instead of air conditioning. But a large majority of these houses were perfectly fine to live in and they were already paid for. The base received $100 million for housing renovation. For that $100 million they ended up tearing down 435 perfectly fine 1470 sq ft houses and replacing them with about 200, 1650 sq ft houses. I asked at the time why bother? Why spend the money for what amounts to nothing more than a $100 million paint job? Here is an ironic tid bit. Last year I was trying to stay on active duty and one of the positions the AF personnel department looked into was at Edwards. The personnel rep asked if I would consider going back to Edwards. I said, “Of course, I just hope I can get back into base housing”. I didn’t want to make the 20 to 40 mile drive required of the people who live off base.
He told me his last assignment was at Edwards and he had lived in one of the new houses. Without him knowing my background of attempting to prevent the waste of money he continued saying if he got another assignment at Edwards, he would live downtown because, “the houses are small and poorly constructed”. —- To upper management a $100 million paint job is an appropriate war time expenditure.
This leads into another area where significant military savings can be achieved – payroll. Currently, the ratio of upper management to worker is way out of proportion. The Air Force and probably the other services as well could easily achieve the same accomplishments if two thirds of the positions now designated for Cols and Generals were re-designated as Lt, Capt or Major billets. There is no experience or technical expertise reason for the ranks to be so top heavy. It developed that way because the system is set up so if a person doesn’t progress in rank they are not allowed to continue to serve. In a system like that you need to have more and more higher ranks to put people so you don’t lose experience. What happens is these people end up doing same jobs as Lts and Captains they just end up with a higher rank and the higher pay that goes along with it.
Continuing on payroll. I wonder what the outcome would be if you did a secret poll of all military members and asked if they would be willing to forgo next year’s cost of living or other proposed salary increase and apply the savings to reducing the national debt?
Entitlements: No serious discussion on reducing the national debt can occur without also addressing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. On that note I put a challenge out to those special interest groups that represent the elderly to go out and ask their members where significant savings can be achieved. I believe the best real solutions can come from the group that actually benefits from the current system. Those involved in the system can best identify the problems and formulate the solution. And I believe the majority of this group believes in responsible benefits. For instance most of the people who I’ve talked with that benefit from Medicare understand it is basically unfair for a family of four with an income of $35,000 to be required to pay $1,000 toward their healthcare while that family goes without health insurance. Also, it is the people in the system that can suggest a method for getting those people that need items like scooters a scooter, while preventing the scooter company from convincing others they need something they don’t.
Another example of the world catching up to me: 
Gates: runaway military spending may affect war plans  Yahoo 7 May 2010
 
The elderly need to solve the SS shortfalls. Reaganites need to tell us how to reduce military spending. This is the path to solving the financial crisis.


Cut the Air Force Budget by 25%
Even though most of my adult income has been earned because of my association with the military, I’ve never endeared myself with my bosses because I’ve always believed and publicly stated that we could reduce the military budget by 30% and still provide the same level of service.  Recent statements by those managers that consistently waste 30% of our tax dollars got me excited because if the statements were true it would prove we could immediately reduce the Air Force budget by 25% just by converting all the support contractor positions into government civilians.
Here are two references that show that Air Force leadership has allowed everyone to believe that over half the Air Force budget is spent on Service Contracts and Contractors cost twice as much as government civilians.  Since Air Force leadership wants these “facts” to be accepted then by doing the math we should force the Air Force to convert the contractor positions to government civilians and by doing so we could immediately reduce the Air Force budget by 25%.  Using Air Force leadership’s own facts we would be able to reduce the Air Force budget from $144 billion to $108 billion if we just converted all the contractor positions into government civilians.  Furthermore,  as I show below this would mean when my position is converted I will get a raise of either $10,000 or $50,000 a year depending on if you believe I’m currently working for ACCESS rates (which I am not).
Assuming you are smart enough to realize the assertions made by most top level managers are usually balderdash, you know that this article won’t get 85% of the way to proving that the entire military budget could be reduced by 30%.  I will show that converting a large portion of the contractor position to government civilians has the potential of saving the government a large amount of money – It won’t be anywhere near 25% of the Air Force budget but it will be significant.  Additionally, you can look at other articles I’ve written that show that instead of implementing a program that reduces the cost due to service contracts, Top Level Management decided to implement a plan that wastes at least 4 dollars for every dollar “saved”.
First of all looking at the two references above we see the facts presented by Air Force leadership are so incredible it makes them hard to take seriously.  The letter signed by Lt Gen Moore starts, “Increasing economic pressures and resource constraints are focusing significant attention on services contracts which now consume over 50 percent of the Air Force budget.”.  Buying F-35′s, F-22, C-130J and the new KC-46 aircraft are not done using service contracts.  Paying active duty and civilian salaries are not done using service contracts.  I read articles that tell us the AF hired Afghan civilians to build a $400 million hospital and then disappeared.  Are they counting that?
On the other hand looking at the Washington Times article the quote attributed to Pentagon Comptroller Robert C. Hale would be laughable except there are decision makers that believe “the average contractor makes two or three times as much as a Pentagon civilian employee”.
Lets set the record straight with a real example.  I have been an “average contractor” working at Wright Patterson AFB since I retired from the Air Force in October of 2009.  Both my positions have been as a Senior Test Manager advising the government on systems they plan to buy.  In the first position I worked for Company U supporting the Training System Program Office.  In Feb 2011 Company U lost the contract for my position to Company B.  In Feb 2011 I went to work for Company S supporting the Special Operations Program Office.
Company Annual salary for my position Amount government was paying the company for my time
U $117,000 $101 per hour
B $85,000 (offered*) $105 per hour
S $99,900 $103 per hour
Today, in the Special Operations Program Office there are three test managers that sit next to each other.   The government civilian is a GS 13 Step 10.  You can look up his salary online at http://www.opm.gov/ and see that he gets paid $108,307 annually.
For ease lets assume Company S was getting reimbursed annually at $103 per hr for 40 hours for 52 weeks.  This results in a $214,240 a year cost for my position.
How does this compare to the cost for the government civilian:

Salary SS & Medicare Unemployment / Disability Insurance Health Insurance contribution Thrift Plan Match Retirement Contribution Total
$108,307 $8285 $3250 $14,000 $5415 $24,000 $163,257

So using real numbers in a real situation comparing apples to apples we can conclude that the government could save some money by converting contractor positions to government civilian positions.  In fact, the number here is probably high since a lot of the AF government civilians are retired military and don’t use the Health insurance and not everyone takes advantage of the Thrift Plan.  An interesting result of this conversion is in most cases should result in an increase in pay for the employee.
There are two conceivable reasons the Air Force isn’t taking advantage of this potential cost savings.  First politically, it is hard for the President to “increase the size of government”.  The number of people actually employed by the Federal government is larger when you hire companies to provide support contractors.  This is because those companies have to have company supervisors and contracting officers and human relations directors etc.  Even so politically it looks like the Federal government is getting bigger if you hire the worker directly.
The second reason the Air Force isn’t doing this is because they actually tried to do this back in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  The problem was the attempt was so poorly managed they couldn’t pull it off.   In that attempt the Air Force presented such low ball offers they couldn’t get very many people to take the offer.  I worked with one person that went through the conversion process and had accepted a new salary that was $20,000 a year less than he was making.  At the end of the process the AF hiring agency tried to also reduce his leave so that it was 1 week less per year than he was entitled.  He walked away from the position.
The other problem with the 2008 -2010 conversion attempt was that the Air Force never reduced the number of contract positions.  So an organization would convert one contract position to a government civilian position but when the contract came up for renewal the number of positions on the contract would be the same as the previous contract.  Obviously, that’s not going to help save money.
Back to my personal example.  Instead of converting the contractor positions at a comparable government civilian rate the Air Force decide to ignore contracting regulations and start paying Company S $65 an hour for my time.  This reduced the AF cost of my position to $135,200 a year for an $80,000 a year savings.  Prior to this reduction there were four support contractors working on the same project I work on.  When these employees learned salaries were about to be reduced by 47% three of the four quit.  Because the government lost the expert in these positions within two months of the new salary structure the program went into delay resulting in about a $5 million dollar cost overrun.
Not only are the facts presented by Air Force leadership completely wrong,  the course of action these guys are suggesting is already costing the government billions of dollars more than if they had not gotten involved.
I personally believe we can cut the Defense budget by 30% and still receive the same level of service with no detrimental effects to those people that provide actual protection to us and our country.  This should involve getting the right mix of government civilians to support contractors.  However, improving that mix won’t save us 25% like the statements from current Air Force leadership might have us believe.  Undoubtedly, though we will never reduce the Defense budget as long as these guys remain so out of touch they don’t realize the policies they implement waste billions of dollars.
 
Healthcare

The problem with the American Healthcare system is the almost total reliance on insurance to manage how we get care.  I believe we need to promote a system where almost an equal number of Americans get their healthcare coverage from one of three different methods.  One of the methods would be traditional health insurance.
Healthcare Pie
We need a system that provides a choice from 3 methods of getting our healthcare
The second would be a government managed system.  The third method is one where people can choose to pay as they go but they get to pay the same price as the insurance companies.  Below I reproduce an article I wrote in March of 2010 that talks more about the details of this system and how I came to believe that we cannot rely on just one method to deliver healthcare.


HealthCare  25 Mar 2010
 
Executive summary
Thomas F. McMasters
Candidate U.S. House of Representatives
The wide adoption of health insurance has driven the inflationary pressures on medical services since the 1970’s.  Traditional health insurance is inflationary because the costs to
consumers are mostly masked.  This Patient Protection and Affordable Care law temporarily brings more people into this process which will result in more inflation with no benefit to any medical consumer. This law shoves more consumer money into the health-care system. This solves the underpaid doctor problem but it will not prevent one family from entering medical bankruptcy court.
 Trying to cover the last 15% of the population with this law will explode the inflationary effect.  This will happen because we depend on just one method to pay for health-care.  I propose we as a nation adopt a three tier approach to paying for our health services:
1.          A new health insurance where the consumer knows costs
2.          Traditional health insurance
3.          Government Managed (Socialized  medicine) 
Do you support President Obama’s Health reform Plan?
My objections to President Obama’s promotion of health insurance differ significantly from the objections I’ve heard from most Republicans. I believe, the large scale adoption of traditional health insurance is the primary reason for the out of control medical inflation we endure in this country. In any cost curve the last 15% is the most expensive. Though good intentioned the President’s plan — because it relies on the expansion of traditional health insurance will significantly increase the inflationary pressure for medical services causing us to spend an even greater percentage of our GDP on health-care costs.
I believe most doctors are working longer hours than other equally trained professionals. Also, there is nothing of significance in this bill to increase the number of doctors in the system. Add 10% more people into the system and either you have to convince the doctors to work longer hours or you have to push 33 million people out of the system. The net result from this bill will be a temporary increase in people being covered but eventually the system will settle back down to covering exactly the same percentage of people covered today. This is because the number of people covered today is the natural level of coverage our system can support given the number of doctors and the dynamics of our medical demands. But even though we will end up going back down to the same number of people in the system the amount of money we spend will remain higher. The net result of this plan will be to permanently raise the percent of our GDP going to support the medical industry but only temporarily raising the number of people covered.
The United States and Canada seem to have diametrically opposed systems. However both systems are stuck at covering about 85% of the needs of the population. This 85% seems to be the natural level of coverage for both countries. I believe this relationship occurs because both countries rely too heavily on one means of providing health coverage. In the United States we rely on traditional health insurance. In Canada they rely on government managed socialized medicine. To me this is like two neighboring apple orchards. One of them demands all their apple pickers use stilts so they can more easily reach the top of the tree. This makes it difficult for these pickers to reach the lower apples. The boss of the neighboring orchard won’t pay for stilts or ladders so his workers waste a lot of effort getting the higher apples. In both cases using just one method makes getting all the apples more difficult. Using this analogy I come to the conclusion this country needs to promote at least two different avenues for paying for health services. In fact, the system I currently deem the best for the American public has a three tier approach. Though my system does contain some traditional health insurance and some socialized medicine I haven’t even defined for you the tier I think should dominate. I do not like the traditional health insurance or socialized medicine as a candidate for dominating the health payment system. Both these systems are inflationary because the cost of the services are largely masked from the consumer. In our system the behind the scene payment by our employer masks the true amount we pay. The ever increasing premiums our companies pay is generally not thought about as potential wages. In Canada, having “free” health-care causes more and more people to use the system so their cost is manifested in longer waits for service. Therefore, we need a third type of payment system. We need a system where the consumer considers costs when demanding health services. I’ve conceived such a system which I call the “Self Pay with Guaranty”.
When I think that the average employer based health insurance plan costs $1300 a month I see the potential for $15,000 a year in extra take home pay. The premise of this third tier of this three tiered approach is to let people pay the doctor bills themselves but give them the opportunity to buy an insurance policy with two major features. The first feature is the policy would be available to make the payments for the person who suffers a significant injury or disease making them unable to pay their medical bills. The second feature is they get insurance rates when they go in for medical procedure.
Let me explain a little more about the Pay with Guarantee insurance system.
Last week I got the insurance summary for a doctor visit. On that summary it shows the the amount the doctor would have charge me if I didn’t have insurance — $302. $300 divides into $15,000 fifty times. Even with 5 kids we don’t go to the doctor 50 times a year. But what really gets me is the amount the doctor agreed to take because I had insurance. He was satisfied with $45. Forty Five goes into fifteen thousand, 333 times! Let me pay those rates and give me the $15,000 in salary! The reason always given for the big discrepancy between the rates for the uninsured and the insured is because so many uninsured don’t pay their bills so the few people that do get to make up the difference. Well, if we create this insurance that guarantees the doctor will get paid then those in it will get bills from the doctors at insurance based prices.
First off let me talk about the scary part of this insurance. I expect all these types of policies to have a maximum pay out. In fact, I model these health insurance policies after Life insurance. That is a person decides how much coverage they feel they need based on their situation and goes out and buys that much coverage. And just like Life insurance the entire amount of that coverage is “earned” when a qualifying event occurs. What I’m saying here is when the covered person dies that person is no longer required to pay premiums but the life insurance company is on the hook to pay out the benefit. On this new kind of health insurance policy the premiums will be structured so the person pays upfront for coverage and if they become too sick to work they do not lose coverage for the illness which caused them to stop working. In other words if you got sick while insured the health insurance company for this new type of insurance would be required to pay the medical bills due to this sickness until the disease or injury were cured (or you reach the limit you chose when you purchased the policy). One of the items I envision for these policies is they would have lifetime premiums and the earlier you decided to begin coverage the cheaper the premiums. So if a twenty year old decided to start coverage they probably could get a $7 million policy for $100 a month. This rate would be set for life. If later on more coverage was desired then it could be purchases at the going rate for that age. Lots more details would have to be worked out. For instance can a person share this policy with a new spouse or future children? You can see the first article I wrote on this kind of policy at this link I’ve actually refined it some in my head but I’ve not written out all those refinements yet. For instance it appears this type of policy could be offered for much less than my original estimates. I think it is reasonable to believe a healthy family of 4 with the parents in their mid 30′s could get a $7 million policy for $160 a month. This would mean they would net an additional $1140 of salary every month.
Before I switch modes and start talking about the questions I have about the President’s new medical mandate let me assure you I did write that socialized medicine should be a component in the overall health-care system. I am not scared of socialized medicine for two reasons. The first is I know and have talked to at least 15 different unrelated Canadians. My brother in law lives in Canada. I’ve met vacationing Canadians around my parents home in Buffalo and in Florida. When I was in Afghanistan and at the CAOC I talked with multiple Canadian military members. All of them rate their system as high quality. I was actually shocked when one of the Air Force Officers told me there is no separate military facilities and he and his family are seen at the same facilities and priority as any other Canadian. On top of that he highly rated the Canadian system. In fact, the only people ever to talk bad about their system seems to be Americans that have no knowledge of how it works.
The primary reason I’m not scared of socialized medicine is as an Air Force officer my family’s primary care physicians have all been employed in a socialized medical system. I hear people say all the time “I don’t want socialized medicine”. I guess that’s ok for them but from the little exposure I’ve had getting service from the private sector I think they’re crazy! Right before I retired I was referred “off base” to see a podiatrist for continuing care of an ongoing problem. This doctor was really this huckster. When I walked in they had a sheet for me to sign to “confirm my address” but immediately below was the “record of service”. It looked like to me they were trying to get me to sign a blank sheet verifying the services they provided that day. Before I even got my shoes off the office was preparing cortisone shots. The Doctor looked at the custom made inserts the base provided and declared them inferior in her attempt to get me to buy her $400 inserts. She ordered up $200 “night splints”. On my second visit I asked for copies of the medical treatments so I could have them added to my military records. Her office said “we don’t usually do that” but if I really wanted them it would be $1.00 a page and could take 6 to 8 weeks for them. Why anyone would choose that system over the great care I got at the base is beyond me. Also, when I retired my family initially got assigned a primary care doctor not associated with the base. It was during the swine flu season when my son got sick and we wanted to take him to see the doctor. Even though we had been assigned this Dr for a couple months we were told it would be at least two weeks to get an appointment because my son had never been seen by this doctor. They told us after he was in the system following appointments would be a lot more timely. Of course, after two weeks he was much better but we decided to keep the appointment in order to get him in the doctor’s system. This doctor was brilliant. But the waiting room experience was horrible. There were about 70 people crammed into a room about the size of a normal living room. Many of these people seemed to be in a full blown state of swine flu. My almost fully healthy son was exposed to this atmosphere for almost 2 hours. Why you would prefer your health-care system instead of the government system my families uses I’ll never know, but it was a great relief when we got re-assigned back into the socialized medical system.
As happy as I am with being fortunate enough to get socialized medicine, this system should not be embraced and implemented as the only method to provide medical services. In fact, I don’t think such a service can be extend to more than 30% of the population because it also is an inflationary system. Also, it takes a special kind of attitude to work in this type of system or to agree to be served in this kind of system. The doctors and nurses drawn to this type of system fall into two categories: 1. They are super dedicated to public service or 2. They are the weakest providers. I’ve been pretty lucky and the doctors we’ve been assigned have fallen into the first category. The other reason we couldn’t have more than 30% participation is because the people that choose to be served by this system have to be willing to forgo the opportunity to sue in the case of malpractice. The other reason I believe it would be good for the two insurance systems to provide the medical services to at least 60% of the population is because competitive medicine is what drives innovation.
Questions and thoughts about the debate on Health-care reform. Though I have secured a spot on the ballot in the  Democratic primary I really am just an average constituent that wants a debate with more depth and details. I’ve been annoyed by the discussion leading up to the passage of this health-care law. First, I’ve had some relevant points that no one has addressed and second both the Republicans and Democrats keep bring up lousy points just because they can fire up a crowd talking about them.
First here are my thoughts that I wish someone would address.
Health insurance is inflationary. See the first couple paragraphs of this main article then come back down here and tell me what’s wrong with my logic.
Traditional Health Insurance is by its nature inflationary. There is no incentive for the individual to negotiate costs with the doctors. Also, since insurance companies make their 4% profit based on how much money they pay out there is no incentive for them to try and restrict office visit / hospital charges. For example if I go in and see my foot doctor and she sees me and sends me home the cost of the visit is just $50. This means the insurance company only gets $2 profit. But if she sells me night splints for $200 and gives me steroid shots for $100 then they get $12 more all for the same visit. Also, we already know how much it costs for policies with no restriction on pre-existing conditions because most employer based polices don’t have enrollment restrictions. These policies cost on average $1300 per month. Every person with individual policies should expect their premiums to go up to this level. What’s wrong with my logic?
Traditional Health Insurance doesn’t protect most people from medical bankruptcy. For most people a serious illness will still have enough deductibles and co-pays to force a family into bankruptcy. The only difference between the insured and the uninsured is the insured take three years and suffer with the extra stress of losing their house before they go into bankruptcy court with $40,000 of debt to be restructured. The uninsured go in immediately after recovery with a $400,000 debt. In the long run, from the family’s point of view, what’s the difference?
The President readily admits this law forces young people that don’t need this type of insurance to pay the insurance bills for older sicker people. This law does nothing to keep those sick people out of bankruptcy court. This law solves the doctor not getting paid problem. Was that the real objective of the legislation?
Here are a couple examples of the party talking points that annoy me because they are so obviously wrong but politicians are able to get people all riled up when they say them.
Republican – “The government has never forced people to buy health insurance. This mandate is against the constitution!”
This is not true. All wage earners pay 1.3% of their wage for health insurance and their company contributes another 1.3%. As a result a person making $40,000 a year is forced by the government to pay about $1000 a year for health insurance. It’s just this health insurance is called Medicare and the people paying for it don’t actually get to use it. Now Medicare has been forced on people since 1966. Do Republicans really believe it is constitutional to force people to buy other people’s health insurance but it is unconstitutional to force them to buy it for themselves? Or are they going to go into court and demand grandma get thrown out of the hospital?
Democrat: The President would bring up all these personal examples of people hurt by the current system.
One lady had her premium go up from $500 to $700 a month. You already know I believe this is just the beginning. Her real market price for this policy once it has to price in the cost of covering pre-existing conditions will be at least $1300 a month. Please explain to me how this bill will prevent this?
One lady told of getting sick and she had to make a choice — either pay her house payment or pay her health insurance bill. She chose paying her house payment. Now she has huge medical bills to pay. Now that the government has chosen to take away her choice when she gets sick she will have to stop making her house payments. How does being homeless help her?
I understand why some people get riled up by this rhetoric. What is annoying is the politician that keep saying them. There can only be two reasons they keep saying them: 1. They don’t understand the subject themselves or 2. They are willing to keep saying irrelevant points just because they are too lazy to try and educate those people that don’t have time to fully examine the arguments. In either case their behavior is unacceptable. I on the other hand I really want the professional politicians to tell us straight up what is going on.
 
Tom McMasters
Candidate for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District
Why does my insurance company approve a charge of $80 a month to rent the little piece of plastic you see in the picture below.  I’m told my only recourse to the non-answer is to “lie on the deck and flop like a fish”.  I thought maybe if I got elected to congress I’d get a better response.

Nasal CPAP
People should be able to pay the insurance rate

Click on picture to see costs of this Nasal CPAP

Primary

 It’s Time for a Non-affiliated Primary

by Tom McMasters Jan 2012
One of the reasons I am running in the Democratic primary this year is to highlight the fact that 60% of the registered voters don’t participate in the primary process.  I don’t believe those voters interests are well represented in our current primary system.  Given that this is the system we have now I’m hoping to inspire more people to participate.  If the 60% started to voice their opinion during the primary process I believe we would get better candidates to choose from in the general election.
Since I consider myself a moderate I see enough good aspects of both parties that I feel comfortable calling myself either Democrat or Republican.  But in fact, I consider myself to be Independent. That is why I’m proposing a non-affiliated primary.  A non-affiliated primary is needed because independent candidates  have to get petition signatures equaling 1% of the last general election vote count. This means I would have had to get more than 2000 signatures to get on the ballot. To get on the ballot in a primary all a person needs is 50 good signatures. Therefore, I propose that Ohio institute a non-affiliated primary.
This makes better sense for someone like me anyway. Although, I am very interested in politics, I don’t know any of the power brokers in either of the two parties. I certainly will caucus with the Democratic party if I should get elected but I won’t feel obligated to vote party line on each and every issue.
Top Secret Clearance
Sure I could tell you I qualify for a Top Secret Clearance but should you believe me?
In order to make the non-affiliated candidate relevant I would also propose that we encourage a non-partisan group like the League of Women voters to begin to vet candidate qualifications and backgrounds. I think this vetting process should be limited to broad items such as verifying background checks, resume items and possibly nationally administrated tests such as the SAT, GRE or Bar Exam.
One of the problems with an unknown like myself running for office is that the general public doesn’t have the means to tell if that person is being forthright about their qualifications. Combine that with my observation that the press doesn’t start to look into a person’s background unless they start to become a viable candidate and it is understandable that people look at the unknown candidate with suspicion. That is why in addition to the non-affiliated primary we also need to ensure a vetting process also gets established.

Lower the Debt
 

Here I’ve reproduced an article I wrote in July 2011.
Lower the Debt
 12 July 2011
  A 4 trillion dollar reduction is better than 2 trillion
We have a huge public debt that is only manageable because we pay almost no interest.  If the interest rates we pay were to rise significantly it could easily cost us all the tax revenues we currently take in.  So I was disappointed last night when I attended the bi-weekly liberty group meeting (this is Huber Heights Tea Party affiliate) and a good number of the attendees thought it was a good idea to put the government in default.  I know it is a bitter pill to swallow but the fact of the matter is the national debt is too large and deficit spending is more of a hinder on the economy than the benefit we receive from the “stimulus” packages.  And I mean all the “stimulus” not only the $300 billion put in place by President Obama to save the pay and benefits of teachers and police (and GM) but also the $350 billion in tax breaks he also gave us. And the $4 Trillion in tax breaks President Bush gave us ten years ago has proven a drag on the economy, a loser for creating jobs, and a budget buster for the country.  See my articles on the banks if you want my opinion of the usefulness of the TARP.
It is time we looked at our financial house and put it in order.  This means we need to cut out the fat and start getting value for the dollars we spend.  But it also means we need to pay our bills!  Whether we agreed at the time the money was committed that we wanted what we bought is not relevant.  The time to argue over that is over.  We bought it.  Now we need to find the money to pay for it. (end July article)
Though the title says “at any cost” that is caveated  with let’s not go back into recession. However, I don’t believe in Keynesian economics if it means digging a hole and then refilling it.  The article below from Dec 2010 talks about this subject.
I received this email question that came from one of my friends at work: “I would be interested in your opinion of this summary of the cause of our economic problems. I got it off the blog comments following a news article on Bernanke’s speech this morning.”  Eventually I’ll write a full article on Keynesian Theory.  In the meantime here is my response to his question:
I’ve actually mention Keynesian theory in a few of my articles on the website. I believe the concept is given too much credence. As the writer below indicates many people believe it was the implementation of Keynesian principles that brought us out of the great depression. This would include those spending programs that had people employed to dig a hole in one place just to have another crew fill it in the next day. The enormous amount of money spent funding WWII counts in the Keynesian model.
When I write I make a point in telling people the spending has to be for an innovative purpose. For instance the Tennessee Valley authority, Hoover dam and other electric distribution projects used public funds to force utilities to bring electricity out to farms (a zero profit user group and not one that would have soon been served by corporations answering to stock holders). This revolutionized farming in this country. An inexpensive and reliable food source for this country was one of the backbones which allowed the economic expansion from the 1940′s and beyond.
In today’s context; the Keynesian model tells us borrowing to pay teacher’s salaries is good for the economy. I disagree.
Here is the quote from the article he read (sorry I don’t know the author in order to give proper credit):
“US fiscal policy has embraced Keynesian economics since FDR and every US Administration whether it be Democrat or Republican has embraced the theory ever since. John Maynard Keynes believed that a centralized government needs to take an active role in monetary and fiscal policy and firmly believed in government stimulus as well as deficit spending, especially during recessionary periods and economic downturns. The problem is that this approach to jump starting economies can not be a long term solution and eventually the private sector must resume growing on its own. If not you remain in a perpetual state of debt, stagnation and eventually decline. The reason why Keynesian theory was successful in the past was because the US always had a solid manufacturing base rooted in the private sector. Therefore, we were able to weather the effects of the Great Depression with FDR’s New Deal policies and when WWII came our dormant manufacturing base was able to gear up and mobilize for the war effort. After the war the US economy exploded because of our established private sector industry. This is very far from reality today. America’s manufacturing base has all but disappeared and what ever industries remain are insufficient to provide the necessary growth and employment. So with Keynesian applications all you are left with at the end of the process is more debt, ineffective stimulus programs, a declining economy and a recovery that never materializes.” (End Dec 2010 article)
Finally here is my article from Nov 2010 where I asked ”Did the Bush Tax Cuts Cause the Recessions”?
Executive Summary – It’s become “common knowledge” that cutting taxes strengthens the economy.  I wonder if this “common knowledge” came about because it’s been true in the past, it’s always true or because it’s a catchy slogan
 
In 1959 the top marginal income tax bracket was 91%, we proved revenue from income taxes is lower when tax rates are this high.  On the other hand it’s obvious that if we lower the tax rate to zero income tax revenues will be zero. What is the “price point” of the highest income tax bracket?  In 1998 the highest marginal tax bracket was 39.6%.  With this tax rate the economy was good and the budget was balanced.  The Bush tax cuts lowered this rate to 35%.  Is it possible lowering the tax rate on the highest income from 39.6% to 35% put the country on the bad side of the price point and actually caused the deficit and bad economy? 
 
Unfortunately, we just had a big election and we as a population did nothing to force our Representatives to prove they’ve even thought about economics much less understand it.  At the personal level I’m definitely for the lower taxes.  I’d like to believe we could lower the tax rate to zero, but the country needs to balance the budget and get rid of the national debt.  To me that means we need to figure out the top of the curve for economic strength. If the Bush tax cuts caused this recession and the massive deficits which followed then lets fix the problem where it started. Now some of the more “conservative” Fox News watching individuals reading this may be saying to themselves “it was the Obama stimulus that caused a bigger deficit”.  But what most “conservatives” don’t acknowledge is that $287 billion of the stimulus were more tax cuts.  Perhaps these “conservatives” should get on the balanced budget wagon and admit this $287 billion stimulus money would have been better off being used to reduce the debt.    
I was watching cable news and they highlighted comments expressed by David Stockman’s on ABC’s  “This Week”   Though I obviously get some of my thoughts from conversations heard in the media this isn’t one of those cases and I was glad to see other people are coming to the same conclusions independently.

Military

 Military Spending

While on active duty I spent a good amount of my professional reputation addressing those decisions that waste a lot of American taxpayer money.  In the article below I continue that trend by proposing a system that would allow the President and Congress to significantly reduce the DoD budget while resulting in an increase in capability and readiness.
 
Since I retired from active duty I’ve worked as a contractor that represents the government when dealing with other contractors.  It’s actually as stupid as it sounds and if I were designing a system I would have required that both of my post active duty positions be filled by actual government employees.  The current system that relies on a lot of contractors to monitor other contractors works for me since if they did it right and made these government positions I wouldn’t be allowed to run for Congress.  As a support contractor I am allowed (yes, this rule is actually as stupid as it sounds).
The article I posted below was originally conceived to address how we could minimize the waste due to our current reliance on “top level” decision makers.  I strongly believe reducing the number of generals by 70% would vastly improve the efficiency of our fighting force.  Demanding that in order for a person to remain or become a General that person must have spent at least one year deployed into a country that experienced actual combat will break “the club” that propagates the perpetual waste of taxpayer dollars.
The article below devolved away from the main premise in a positive way because my recent personal experiences could be incorporated.  Before I start the article, here are some salary figures that should give the article more context.
Talking about salary is of course non-standard because people that make less tend to believe only sports and movie stars deserve to be paid more than they do.  I actually take the opposite view and I like that the Buckeye Institute publishes teachers pay.  This is because I’d like kids to look at those numbers and say to themselves, “hey, if I study hard I can make a good living”.  My same logic holds for letting people know what engineers, mathematicians, physicists and other scientist make.
Background salary info:
When I left active duty in Oct 2009 I was being paid at the rate of $115,000 a year.  This included basic pay, housing allowance, flight pay etc.
The first position I filled after leaving active duty was as a support contractor.  I was paid at the rate of $117,000 a year.
I started my next and current position in 2011 and am paid at the rate of about $100,000 a year.
In 2001 prior to the start of the wars a typical starting salary for similar positions would have been around $71,000 a year.
If the salary for these positions increase at a rate of 3% per year then in 2013 the salary would be $101,229 a year:

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
71,000 73130 75324 77584 79911 82308 84778 87321 89941 92639 95418 98281 101229

I was going to write why I thought I was under paid in my first job and overpaid in my current position but that would be a long article.  I also have opinions on automatically indexing



Aldi Assistant Manager Trainee $46,000 a year
salary increases, the meaning of sacrifice for the good of the country and the need for the government to pay its bills.  My position on each of those items would work against the amount I would pay myself if I were in charge.  However, this past week the Air Force awarded a contract for my current position.  My co-worker who is also a Senior Test Manager has spoken with the new employer.  He has been told that in order to keep his job he will have to accept a salary of less than $56,000 a year.
I hope this background gives you a little more understanding on why the article below strayed a little from just emphasizing the 70% reduction of General Officers.
 

Save the Military
Reduce the number of Generals by 70%
by Tom McMasters 22 Feb 2013
Prologue:
Lt Gen C D Moore II, SES Mr. Michael Gill and I are currently engaged in a debate about which of our positions contributes more toward the defense of our country. The article below develops a plan designed to improve military efficiency by placing the decision making

Somalia
authority where the knowledge of the issues reside. For almost every military decision our current system puts that authority at such a high level that it causes at least a 30% increase in how much the American public pays for the military compared to what they should be paying. This article shows that the AFLCMC Commander and AFLCMC Executive Director positions, as with all top level military positions, are designed in such a way the people in these positions not only don’t provide enough of a contribution to justify their rank, position or salary but actually introduce expensive and detrimental cogs that often prevent success. For arguments sake lets assume Lt Gen Moore and Mr. Gill are infinitely more intelligent and technically competent than me. Implementing the program outlined below would significantly improve the value the American people get for their military dollar because Lt Gen Moore, Mr. Gill and all the smart people would eventually move back to the squadrons where the information needed to make smart decisions resides and the Majors and Lt Cols we would get to run the groups and divisions would have to have their act together in order to override the experts in the squadrons.
Military re-Organization:
As the wars wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan and because deficit spending drags on the economy, the American public rightly deserves a peace dividend through the reduction of military spending. It is important as we undertake this task to ensure we eliminate those items that provide the least amount of benefit. Reducing the number of Generals and high ranking civilian positions by 70% and placing decision making authority at significantly lower levels offers the best possible first step to address budget constraints while vastly improving the military value to our government.
Before you dismiss this as a crazy idea, remember, Lt Col Custer was a General in the civil war and was returned to the rank of Capt after the conclusion of the war. This idea works because we will change the military management model to be more like a sports team that understands the superstars are found “on the field”. When we adopt the sports management model the Division Commander’s position mirrors the backfield coach while the Squadron Commander maps to the quarterback.
Recently, a rumor has gone around my organization that division leadership has decided to cut salaries by 50% because they learned that a long time employee was being paid as much as the Colonel. If you believe that supervisors always deserve to be paid more than those they supervise then a 50% pay cut may seem logical. In fact what is needed is a pay scale that promotes keeping the technical geniuses in the technical positions. Most of the modern day failing of government results from following the logic that supervisors must get paid more than the experts with current hands on experience. Following “logic” has made it impossible for the government to maintain the expertise required to protect the public. In the current system, people are encouraged to try for the top management positions. This already causes a disparate brain drain out of the technical positions which leads to top leadership not getting the right technical advice in order to make sound decisions. An easily recognized examples was Admiral Allen being forced to rely on BP’s reports during the oil spill because we had no experts on the government payroll capable of analyzing the situation and providing him with sound advice.
The other supporting argument for reducing the pay scale for 70% the positions at the division level and above comes from an analysis of the function of these positions. This analysis shows us the sports analogy is only partially applicable. For a sports team the main purpose of the coaches is to prepare the team for battle, in the military this is a secondary task. The primary task of most colonels and generals is to provide enough layers of bureaucracy so that when the generals make a recommendation to the President no one single layer of that bureaucracy feels guilty about their contribution to the lie.
To see an example of the first priority in action let me relate an example from my war support experiences. Just before I left Kabul Afghanistan I was contacted by two people that were told they were my replacements. When I informed the Colonel I worked for he advise me not to look into it because it might mean both could get cancelled and my deployment might get extended. I decided to investigate and discovered there were already four other people currently in the combat zone that the military thought were in my position. My next temporary assignment in support of the war had me working at CENTCOM Force Management. While in that position my boss was responsible for preparing a weekly brief for the Secretary of Defense that showed every person down range and the position they were filling. Even though my down range experience with force management was typical, the report prepared by my CENTCOM boss never showed five people sitting in the same position with two more people coming to replace the one person leaving.
The mechanics of getting a group of honest people to construct a brief that shows the expected result requires there be only a little bit of fibbing at each level, that way no one person feels guilty about their contribution to the totality of the misrepresentation. In this fiscal environment, policy leaders need to cut out many of those layers and deal with the consequences of the President getting reports more reflective of reality. Thus the consequence on the primary purpose of General officers, submitting irreconcilable reports to the President, is an acceptable result of a 70% reduction of top level positions. Additionally, the benefit realized on the secondary purpose, preparing and conducting military operations, promises an exponential increase in value for our military dollar.
There is a simple and efficient means to accomplish this 70% rank re-organization and benefit from the resulting budgetary savings. I outline the plan next. It is important to understand there will be a transition period. This transition period will cause heart-ache and confusion for many of the higher ranking military and civilian personnel that have thrived in the highly inefficient and wastefulness of the current military structure. However, the military will improve quickly once we adopt this new rank structure. The alternative to the solution is to adopt the status quo proposal of the bureaucratic wing of the military. The status quo proposal calls for furloughing people out in the battlefields and cutting salaries of subject matter experts. There is no excuse for the country and the military to suffer under the status quo proposal when a solution to budgetary woes and excessive inefficiency exists.
A simple and effective plan for realizing budget savings that promises a long term positive result in operational efficiency would immediately change the rank structure for positions at the division level and above. The appropriate rank for division / group commanders, wing commanders and directorate level positions is Major for military positions and GS 12 for civilians. The next two higher levels should be managed by Lt Col’s. In peace time it is perfectly legitimate that the Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard) Chief of Staff positions be authorized to the rank of Major General. Implementing the plan outlined above results in immediate cash savings. Implementing the next aspect of the plan is what will significantly improve the efficiency of long term military operations. In this plan, starting Apr 1st 2013 all the people in positions at the division / group level and above will have their ranks reduced to the lower of either the rank of their positions or Colonel unless they have more than 1 year of continuous duty in a country during a period when that country was engaged in major fighting. For this recent period the only two countries that qualify would be Iraq and Afghanistan. If they meet the combat zone experience level then they keep their current rank. It is also likely we will have some Sarajevo and Somalia veterans eligible to remain Generals. As previously noted this will cause a transition period where some peculiarities occur. For instance there will be some cases when the manager of a major command might be a Lt Col at the same time the group commander he supervises has the rank of Colonel. But since these positions contribute so little to the military’s main mission having instances of upside down rank structure will not disrupt operations.
One of the best ways to show the disconnect of those within the military management structure from those the country depends on for results is to examine recent examples of official communications produced by these managers. These correspondences give us insight into the level of their understanding of the positions they are responsible to supervise.
As stated earlier those advocating the status quo identified the problem; some members at the producing level of the organization were receiving pay and benefits equal or greater than people at the management level. The solution they chose is to force those at the production level to take a 50% pay cut. To implement their solution the Air Force has chosen to use a LPTA contract to re-bid the work performed in my current position. DoD policy tells us that in order to use the LPTA contract the Air Force must guarantee that if a person meets the minimum qualifications stated in the contract proposal then the government couldn’t do any better by hiring someone with more qualifications. The tricky part of using this kind of contract is if the job description fails to properly describe the position then the contract fails.
Let me get personal again and examine the LPTA attempt at finding someone to fill my position. In this case, the Colonel at the division level takes on the responsibility of describing the work he needs done in order for his organization to accomplish the mission. When the Colonel described the qualifications of the person that will be taking my job the most demanding qualification he used was “experienced working ACAT I-III test programs, as a test manager, to include programs on OSD oversight”. The rest of the description he wasted with tasks like, “shall be capable of using MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lotus Notes” ……”provide advisory support by recommending improvement opportunities via face to face discussions or email”. I’ve looked at his perception of what he thinks I do and acknowledge part of the job requires face to face discussions and the ability to email. Considering he summarized my whole job in about a half a page, I’m not sure why he thought it was important to make sure the person that will be filling my position needs to know how to use Lotus Notes. By writing the job description the way he wrote it he certifies that the government will get equally qualified candidates to fill my position even if one was a high school graduate that worked acquiring uniforms and the other attended the Air Force Test Pilot School and qualified MC-130′s. It is obvious that there would be value in hiring someone with Test Pilot School and DoD policy for using this type of contract is violated because of a poorly constructed job description.
Now that we’ve established people filling division level positions possess a Captain’s understanding of the workforce they supervise, lets look a few levels higher. AFLCMC leadership introduced the 50% pay cut solution more than a year ago. Turns out almost all the people offered the opportunity to work for half pay declined. This caught leadership by surprise and after analyzing the situation they determined the reason so many of the experts declined was because they had too many other job opportunities. This resulted in a reaffirmation that the official AFLCMC policy was to eliminate as many job options as possible. Make no mistake the country is in desperate need of reducing the impact of the deadwood found within the military establishment. Lets look at the accuracy of the statistics found in the first sentence of the AFLCMC commander and his civilian equivalent’s policy letter explaining why 50% pay reductions are justified, “Increasing economic pressure and resource constraints are focusing significant attention on services contracts which now consume over 50 percent of the Air Force budget.” and we see these two gentlemen can’t even recognize obviously flawed “facts” and “logic”. Their telling us they are making decisions based on this fact and this logic shows why their positions should be the first place for government to focus in order to relieve increasing economic pressure and resource constraints. Since this is typical of the quality of information presented for all decisions made at this level and above the American public deserves a correction of the over abundance of general officers and their civilian equivalents.
I present one more example of recent correspondence that shows upper management just doesn’t understand the organization they supervise. This one was written Sept 10, 2012 and was signed by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics. The subject “Department of Defense Management of Unobligated Funds; Obligated Rate Tenets”. Reading this memo a casual observer might get the impression that the authors are really making an attempt to try to improve efficiency. However, you can see the first break down in their logic by looking at these sentences “For the past several years Congress has used unobligated balances as a means to reduce our budgets. To avoid this result, we need to stop thinking of the transfer of higher priorities as something we must avoid at any cost. ……Often these funds can be better employed elsewhere and individual programs should not fight to avoid ‘losing’ the unobligated funds”. The rest of the memo outlines why lower organizations should adopt a big picture approach to spending money which will allow these two gentlemen to adopt a parochial approach in order to save their organization from congress. But the real flaw with this memo shows a lack of understanding of how budgets get established. This prevents these two gentlemen from adopting the appropriate stance of expecting each sub organization of returning 30% of their funds at the end of the year.
In order to expect a return of 30% of the budgeted money a person would have to understand how the budget is established. Lets look at how the military buys a new piece of hardware. In this case, the company developing the product has their experts estimate how much it will cost to develop. Then the expert’s manager adds in a little money for “risk” just in case the expert was off and submits that bid to the government. One of the worst things that could happen to a program is for them to go over budget so when the first line of government reviewers looks at the offer they “remember” that contractors always underbid in order to get the contract, so they add some risk and increase the cost. Of course there is never just one level of management in the government so we know that this process goes on at least two more iterations. By the time the government goes on contract to buy this equipment the budget is at least 30% higher than what the experts really believe it should cost. Creating the budget base on worst case is the norm. Take estimating travel costs as another example. I’ve seen recent budgets where the budgeted amount for airline tickets from LA to Atlanta is $900 a trip. I’m writing this while on a trip to LA from Dayton where the airline ticket cost $250 and once all the add on luggage fees etc are included is still less than $350. How should upper management address the extra $550? Assuming we are always going to plan for the worst case scenario then all management levels including Squadron Commanders, the Under Secretary of Defense and even Congress should expect projects to come in under budget by at least 30% and start demanding detailed explanations if projects aren’t returning at least 15% of the budgeted funds. Contrary to showing their understanding of the budgeting process by demanding an explanation if the project doesn’t come in under cost, these individuals put out this statement which they believe will help their subordinates know they understand their concerns, “Late obligation of funds should not be presumed to imply that the funds are not needed or that future budgets should be reduced unless there is other evidence to support that conclusion.”

Beyond the written communication we just examined, studying decisions made for actual


programs offers another way to show the detrimental aspects of the current system where upper management holds all the decision making power but not enough technical knowledge to make good decisions. The first project I worked after I retired from active duty provides a classic example where upper management wasted more than $2 million in a failed attempt to save a $6 million project.
The project I’m talking about was meant to provide a simulator for tactical air controllers to train to be able to work with pilots to conduct air strikes on enemy positions. The historical standard for a project of this complexity tells us the expected amount of time it should take to complete would be 18 months. The government chose to go with a company that said they could do it in 12 months. I was hired 14 months after the original contract started to supervise the qualification testing scheduled to take place 2 weeks later. Two weeks into testing we knew the simulator was not ready. The company would get a contract extension. Five months later group leadership decided to require that we watch the company practice the qualification test.
The system had actually gotten worse in that five month period. The unfortunate consequence of rushing a project normally means proven methods of success get disregarded. That happened in this project and each person in the company went off and worked independently on their section and failed to coordinate as a team. When I went back to witness the practice qualification test, the system was so bad even the “file save” function didn’t work and the company couldn’t create the files they needed to run the test. We would sit down to run through the procedures and the company representative would say, “in this test we are suppose to show you four airplanes attacking a tank platoon. We aren’t able to create a scenario with four airplanes but we have this old scenario with one airplane so imagine there are three more.” The technical team spent almost two months documenting this type of failure in daily reports. Then we came back and gave the reports in person.
Group leadership couldn’t believe that 20 months into a 12 month contract this company could be so far behind. To see for themselves they assembled an HPT (High Performance Team) made up of Colonels and Civilian Colonel equivalents to visit the site and evaluate the system themselves. They spent four hours at the company where the company played a video recording of the one scenario that would play. They heard the sales pitch from the company’s management and they decided this company could finish the project in 6 months. I left the project because of this decision (my contract expired and I did not attempt to get hired on the next contract).
When I left I had told my boss that I was very concerned that upper management was going to try and force the tech team to accept the project and the government would end up spending $40 million putting these systems all over the world. Then once they were in place the military units that got them would realize they were useless and they would just sit there. Turns out I was mistaken.  Instead they let the company try for 18 more months before saying that’s enough and started the process again. Today 24 months after I left the project the government is at square one and hoping to hire a new company to start developing the system.
The government originally expected the program to cost about $5 million. For this project the government team monitoring the project consisted of 8 people. If on average it costs the government $175,000 a year to keep each of these 8 people on payroll then the extra cost caused by the government’s following the advice of the Colonels over the advice of technical team was $2.8 million. But in this case the American people got off cheap because normally the Colonels would have forced the purchase through and the country would have spent an additional $40 million buying and setting up 20 of these useless systems.
Volumes and volumes of proof exists showing that if our military redefines the rank, pay and authority of the organizational structures we can significantly reduce the waste and inefficiency forced upon the war fighting ranks by the current management hierarchy. The status quo that expects people far away from the fight and isolated from the consequences of their performance to be paid at the expense of losing the experts in the field comes with the danger of fielding airplanes that kill pilots and bombs that don’t kill anything. Lt Gen Moore and Mr. Gill may be bright and intelligent but they have succeeded in and embraced the system that trained them to be the cause of the sucking black hole that wastes at least 30% of our military dollars.
The Air Force Chief of Staff hints of an underlying understanding of what has to be done when he states in A Vision For the USAF, “The source of Air Force airpower is the fighting spirit of our Airmen, and the squadrons are the fighting core of our Air Force”. Now is the time for real leadership. The economy and the military needs us to declare the new rank structure tomorrow and to schedule the pin on ceremonies before April.
Are you ready to ask for real leadership? 

Philosophy
Personal and Political Philosophy

By Thomas F. McMasters Article originally appeared as part of 2010 Primary Run

I don’t think there is any real benefit for me to try and make a one page list of the things I’m for and against.  Aren’t we all for lower taxes, better education, a strong military, affordable healthcare?  The devil is always in the details.  That’s why I like to write expansively about the paths I took to my current positions.  Openness like this not only helps you understand how I come to my current position it also helps you predict what my next position might be.  Not only that but it allows you to contribute details to my arguments and more importantly point out obvious flaws in my logic.  I can use your good contributions in my attempt at constructing better policy.  Although it may seem like painful work I don’t see how we will ever get good governance without your thoughtful inputs.

Next I talk  a little about some of my personal and political philosophies but if you really want to know how well I or any of the other candidate will represent you, you will have to put in a real effort to understand how we think.  I’ve given you plenty to work with within my websites and I believe with an educated electorate I would be the natural choice.

First of all the most important issue of the day is the budget deficit. This must be addressed and it must be addressed now.
The budget deficit is the only specific issue I’m going mention in this article.  I think it is useful for you to know I believe in getting value for my money.  I’m not particularly scared of taxes nor do I see socialism as being evil.  I just don’t embrace them extensively because we dedicate enough of our GDP already to taxes and socialism just doesn’t work.  As a guiding principle, I see the country benefiting from low taxes and free enterprise.  Not no taxes and no regulation.  I’m not an anarchist!  But if we are going to collect taxes we should be getting something for our money.

To argue with myself let me go on to say I don’t think taxes are applied in the right manner as to optimize; enterprise, industry, collective or individual wealth.  It would be deceitful for me to say “no new taxes” because I’m all for adjusting the tax code so the right parts of industry are promoted.  For instance I am for substance over style.  In my world, producing a quality sneaker should be more important than convincing someone an Ok shoe should be envied.  Right now we tax the crap out of the production side making the advertising side look like a better cash investment.  To me it makes no sense that Tiger Woods gets more of Buick’s money than the company president.   It makes no sense Michael Jordan pulls in more than the doctors consulted by New Balance.  One of the prime reasons we go with style over substance is because we over tax substance and give style a free ride.
Still arguing with myself, free enterprise is the best system as long as it is properly regulated.  In general less regulations are better but remember regulations are merely a history lesson.  Those that fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it.  Now history is always being created and some of the lessons we learned in times past do become moot.  So not only is it important not to hold onto a regulation when it no longer provides any use, we must make sure the underlying problem which caused our ancestors to put it there in the first place is gone.

This leads to a subject I’ve been wanting to write, that is, an article titled “Political Consistency is Insulting”.  When I write this article the intention will be to convince you it’s alright for your politicians to show you they are capable of considering other points of view and when necessary adjust their positions.  I believe the country is stronger when more ideas are explored and thought through.  I would love to see people get a chance and want to look at 4 or 5 different candidates per elected position during these primary races. 

I could go on for a lot longer but I guess I will end with this last item.  I am not a good candidate for anyone with a hardcore agenda, left or right.  I’m pretty much a centrist on a lot of issues and I like to think I will consider the details of any specific law in the context of what gives the American taxpayer the best value / standard of living / quality of life.
Below is a video produced by the Ron Paul Campaign.  I know I’ve used the invading army in Texas theme in many discussions at work.  I’ll have to check my other website to see if  I’ve ever written it out (being active duty during much of the war limited the appropriateness of how much I should express my opinion – outside of work).  But watching this the first time a few minutes ago I kept thinking, “I could have produced this“.
Note, I need to give credit to Mr. Esrati as it was through a link on his site that I first viewed the video

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Download my Congressional_Nominating_Petition_, circulate and send back the completed form to my address.  I will need more than 5000 signatures so starting in December 2013 is not too early.  You don’t need to wait until the entire form is filled. In fact, it is fine if you print one out and have your spouse sign it with you as a witness then print another out and you sign with your spouse as a witness.  Then mail both forms to me tomorrow.  Of course, I appreciate if you go to your neighbors and friends today as well.  I know that some of you can’t print legal forms so if you let me know by phone (985-6275) or email I’ll make sure you get one of my petitions for you to circulate.

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Revive the American Dream
This is a new edition of an article I wrote in July 2011

Earners
Maybe it’s time we strove to establish single earner homes

Two things in recent news reports caught my attention: 1) Since 2001 job growth has been horrible in this country and 2) Wal-Mart’s income tax rate is over 30%. This got me wondering how hard it would be to get American’s back into a mindset where the expectation is a family could live on the income of a single family member.
Right now a Wal-mart cashier or baker or shelf stocker doesn’t make enough to raise a family or in many cases save enough for college. Yet we take 33% of that potential income often putting it into social programs to help the underprivileged get the opportunity for college and healthcare. In fact, this is one of the reasons I believe there are so many Reagan Democrats. Reagan Democrats by definition are people that work hard for little money and are willing to support policies that hurt their own standard of living because they are frustrated so many loafers get more money from the government than they get in a paycheck. And I understand their frustration even if I know they would be better off working within the Democratic party to correct the injustice. But this gets me wondering. Is it possible to design a free market system or the tax code within the free market system that encourages a company like Wal-mart to use that 30% to raise the pay of the working class? That is can we get this money into the hands of the cashier directly from the employer without the company taking a cut for itself? If we can I think this country would go a long way in getting the country back to one income families. If more families were able to thrive on one income this would take a lot of people out of the job market. Then it wouldn’t matter that the economy is not creating jobs as fast as it did in the 1990′s.
I believe we should be looking to go back to a system where families thrive on one income. I believe this should be the case because it will allow the other spouse to improve their skills while they are not working. With this mindset the family can keep striving to improve their station in life. I see a system where one spouse works for 5 or 10 years while the other studies and gains knowledge. Then they switch for 5 or 10 years. I envision a situation where a person could go to work at Kroger’s and be able to support their family well above the poverty line. At the same time the person spouse will be studying to become a nurse or an engineer. Once the spouse gets established the other partner can pick up more of the family duties and also train for their next occupation.
Not only do I believe this is a great opportunity for the family but it also improves the country because people are always striving to get more education and more skills. Besides reducing the number of people that need jobs, going back to single earner families also helps the country because kids get more time with their parents.
Again the tricky part of this suggestion is to design the tax code so that companies are encouraged to pay employees and the intention here is to have them pay employees a good living wage – not just an above poverty level wage. My idea is simple but the math would be complicated. The idea – base the tax rate a corporation pays on how well they bring people up to the living wage. How well they do will be based on a number of factors: What is the total number of people that get above this level? How many employees do not get to this level? What is the difference between the top wage earners and the bottom wage earners?
In 2010 Wal-mart paid $7.1 billion in income taxes and employed 1.4 million people. That is about $5000 a person. When new employees make $8.75 and hour (or about $14,000 a year) it makes much good sense to change our tax system so that Wal-mart wants to raise employee pay.  It makes good sense for the country to get away from collecting that money and then trying to redistribute it after the damage is done. In a well defined tax system more of those 1.4 million employees will get a living wage before the CEO gets $25 million in benefits.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Don't attack Syria

Category: Articles

There are too many Americans convinced that one of the primary reasons we undertake these types of military interventions is because we need a reason to produce more Tomahawk missiles and other bombs.  They think there are influential people in the defense industry that convince our political leaders to attack just to use up inventory. 

On the other hand, if the cause is real I don't think it would be bad for the US to be the policeman of the world.  However, we have not made that commitment as a country, so we have not structured our forces to do that mission successfully.  So the best outcome we could hope for is another Iraq.

Again our intelligence agencies don't seem to be giving our leaders good information.  The other day Secretary of State Kerry told us that hair and blood samples confirmed the use of Sarin gas.  Does it make sense that the hair of someone killed by Sarin gas would have grown enough to in the minutes it took to kill them so that the poison showed up in hair samples?

Lets stay out of Syria.  

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Cut the Air Force Budget by 25%

Category: Articles

Even though most of my adult income has been earned because of my association with the military, I've never endeared myself with my bosses because I've always believed and publically stated that we could reduce the military budget by 30% and still provide the same level of service.  Recent statements by those managers that consistently waste 30% of our tax dollars got me excited because if the statements were true it would prove we could immediately reduce the Air Force budget by 25% just by converting all the support contractor positions into government civilians. 
 
Here are two references that show that Air Force leadership has allowed everyone to believe that over half the Air Force budget is spent on Services Contracts and Contractors cost twice as much as government civilians.  Since Air Force leadership wants these "facts" to be accepted then by doing the math we should force the Air Force to convert the contractor positions to government civilians and by doing so we could immediately reduce the Air Force budget by 25%.  Using Air Force leadership's own facts we would be able to reduce the Air Force budget from $144 billion to $108 billion if we just converted all the contractor positions into government civilians.  Furthermore,  as I show below this would mean when my position is converted I will get a raise of either $10,000 or $50,000 a year depending on if you believe I'm currently working for ACCESS rates (which I am not).
 
Assuming you are smart enough to realize the assertions made by most top level managers are mostly balderdash, you know that this article won't get 85% of the way to proving that the entire military budget could be reduced by 30%.  I will show that converting a large portion of the contractor position to government civilians has the potential of saving the government a large amount of money - It won't be anywhere near 25% of the Air Force budget but it will be significant.  Additionally, you can look at other articles I've written that show that instead of implementing a program that reduces the cost due to services contracts, Top Level Management decided to implement a plan that wastes at least 4 dollars for every dollar "saved". 
 
First of all looking at the two references above we see the facts presented by Air Force leadership are so incredible it makes them hard to take seriously.  The letter signed by Lt Gen Moore starts, "Increasing economic pressures and resource constraints are focusing significant attention on services contracts which now consume over 50 percent of the Air Force budget.".  Buying F-35's, F-22, C-130J and the new KC-46 aircraft are not done using service contracts.  Paying active duty and civilian salaries are not done using service contracts. 
 
On the other hand looking at the Washington Times article the quote attributed to Pentagon Comptroller Robert C. Hale would be laughable except there are decision makers that believe "the average contractor makes two or three times as much as a Pentagon civilian employee".     
 
Lets set the record straight with a real example.  I have been an "average contractor" working at Wright Patterson AFB since I retired from the Air Force in October of 2009.  Both my positions have been as a Senior Test Manager advising the government on systems they plan to buy.  In the first position I worked for Company U supporting the Training System Program Office.  In Feb 2011 Company U lost the contract for my position to Company B.  In Feb 2011 I went to work for Company S supporting the Special Operations Program Office.
 

Company Annual salary for my position Amount government was paying the company for my time
U $117,000 $101 per hour
B $85,000 (offered*) $105 per hour
S $99,900 $103 per hour
    
 
Today, in the Special Operations Program Office there are three test managers that sit next to each other.   The government civilian is a GS 13 Step 10.  You can look up his salary online at http://www.opm.gov/ and see that he gets paid $108,307 annually. 
 
For ease lets assume Company S was getting reimbursed annually at $103 per hr for 40 hours for 52 weeks.  This results in a $214,240 a year cost for my position.   
 
How does this compare to the cost for the government civilian:
 
Salary SS & Medicare Unemployment / Disability Insurance Health Insurance contribution Thrift Plan Match Retirement Contribution Total
$108,307 $8285 $3250 $14,000 $5415 $24,000 $163,257
      
So using real numbers in a real situation comparing apples to apples we can conclude that the government could save some money by converting contractor positions to government civilian positions.  In fact, the number here is probably high since a lot of the AF government civilians are retired military and don't use the Health insurance and not everyone takes advantage of the Thrift Plan.  An interesting result of this conversion is in most cases should result in an increase in pay for the employee.  
 
There are two conceivable reasons the Air Force isn't taking advantage of this potential cost savings.  First politically, it is hard for the President to "increase the size of government".  The number of people actually employed by the Federal government is larger when you hire companies to provide support contractors.  This is because those companies have to have company supervisors and contracting officers and human relations directors etc.  Even so politically it looks like the Federal government is getting bigger if you hire the worker directly. 
 
The second reason the Air Force isn't doing this is because they actually tried to do this back in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  The problem was the attempt was so poorly managed they couldn't pull it off.   In that attempt the Air Force presented such low ball offers they couldn't get very many people to take the offer.  I worked with one person that went through the conversion process and had accepted a new salary that was $20,000 a year less than he was making.  At the end of the process the AF hiring agency tried to also reduce his leave so that it was 1 week less per year than he was entitled.  He walked away from the position.
 
The other problem with the 2008 -2010 conversion attempt was that the Air Force never reduced the number of contract positions.  So an organization would convert one contract position to a government civilian position but when the contract came up for renewal the number of positions on the contract would be the same as the previous contract.  Obviously, that's not going to help save money. 
 
Back to my personal example.  Instead of converting the contractor positions at a comparable government civilian rate the Air Force decide to ignore contracting regulations and start paying Company S $65 an hour for my time.  This reduced the AF cost of my position to $135,200 a year for an $80,000 a year savings.  Prior to this reduction there were four support contractors working on the same project I work on.  When these employees learned salaries were about to be reduced by 47% three of the four quit.  Because the government lost the expert in these positions within two months of the new salary structure the program went into delay resulting in about a $5 million dollar cost overrun.
 
Not only are the facts presented by Air Force leadership completely wrong,  the course of action these guys are suggesting is already costing the government billions of dollars more than if they had not gotten involved.  
 
I personally believe we can cut the Defense budget by 30% and still receive the same level of service with no detrimental effects to those people that provide actual protection to us and our country.  This should involve getting the right mix of government civilians to support contractors.  However, improving that mix won't save us 25% like the statements from current Air Force leadership might have us believe.  Undoubtedly, though we will never reduce the Defense budget as long as these guys remain so out of touch they don't realize the policies they implement waste billions of dollars. 
 
 
 
 

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Older news

28 February 2013, 10:34 PM Military Re-Organization Plan 1 comment

Articles

When will the President's advisors give us respect? - I want links…

I just got an email that tells us the President has a plan for avioding the sequester.

Of course I followed the link

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester/the-presidents-plan?utm_source=email201&utm_medium=text3&utm_campaign=sequester

There were a few bullet statements but no real details.  That page told me I could  Learn More so I followed that link but there were no real details there either.  That page does tell us he's laid out a specific plan to do more 
This brought me to http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/deficit_reduction_table_bucketed_r8.pdf 

On that page all that we see is the same General Bullet statements that you see in this picture.  If the President's staff thought we were thinking human beings they would have links from every bullet statement that lead to college level articles that tell us how these items are accomplished.


Off the subject a little - please sign my petition designed to help eliminate military waste.

President's Deficit Reduction Plan - with not details



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The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks

There are always instances of irony in life.  Turns out I was lent a book titled "The Generals" by Thomas E. Ricks just before I left on my last business trip a few weeks ago.  I see many parallels to the points I make with a lot of the ones you can find in his book.  And how many times do you see people use the term "deadwood"?  I should make the December draft of my article available just to show I used it long before I started reading Mr. Ricks' book.  

I think it is well worth the time to read this book and I believe the epilogue should be required reading for anyone interested in improving the military.  Reading his epilogue got me thinking that I've not done as good of a job driving home the main point I meant to make in my article.  It is extremely important that for at least the next 5 years no officer is eligible to be a General unless they served at least one continuous year in Iraq or Afghanistan (or Somalia or Sarajevo) while there was major combat going on.  If we already have Generals that don't meet this condition then they should be demoted to Colonel (or below).  

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American Government Use of Targeted Killings

As a top level policy I am against the use of targeted killings as a pre-emptive measure to "protect national security".  I do not believe we should apply military tactics just because we mistakenly use the phrase "War on Terror".

Background:  We have been using manned and unmanned aircraft in targeted killings both inside and outside Iraq even though we were the de facto government in Iraq and we have never "declared war" in places like Yemen.  Now we see the government believes it is alright to use this technique against Americans

I am absolutely sure it is morally wrong to use bombs and missiles to do police work.  For all police work we as a society have an obligation to apprehend and put on trial all perpetrators.  It is just laziness that makes us want to believe it is acceptable to kill just because we can get a few like minded people to convince themselves someone is a threat.  We only have to look to the Executive branch's logic for invading Iraq and the endorsement by Congress to see even with the opportunity for debate and oversight major mistakes occur when you choose not to prove without a shadow of a doubt but instead take the lazy way out.


At this link you can find compilation of my posts about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The ones relative to the subject of targeted killings are reproduced below.

Posted on September 27, 2004 at 23:33:27

6 – As the de facto government of the Iraqi people and since we have a definite political interest in that country, it reasons we should conduct ourselves as if the innocent civilians were American voters.
7 – If Osama bin Laden were riding in a taxi through the streets of NY is it possible we would use precision guided missiles to take him out?
8 – If you noticed your brother’s neighbor was selling crack and called it in to the police. Would you shrug it off as a necessary evil in the war against drugs if your brother’s family was also killed in the precision air strike that destroyed the crack house?
9 – Is it more dangerous to debate the appropriate application of power or to justify blindly follow all the behavior of anyone willing shield themselves using the phrase “I believe in liberty”
Posted by on January 28, 2007 at 23:02:55

a. The President correctly declared the end of major hostilities years ago. This was the end of the war!

At that point it became morally wrong to use the tactics of war and necessary to use police tactics.

On the day we conquered Iraq it became our responsibility to provide security for the populace of that country. This is the example I give to see if others understand that responsibility.

Suppose the operator of a Predator aircraft equipped with hellfire missiles observed Osama bin Laden in a crowded Baghdad market. Do you authorize the operator to take the shot? Suppose the operator of a Predator aircraft equipped with hellfire missiles observed Osama bin Laden in a crowded Chicago market. Do you authorize the operator to take the shot? If your answer for both these questions is not exactly the same you do not understand your responsibility as a governor of both populations.

What Americans don’t understand is that both populations will react in essentially the same manner. What do you think would be the reaction if 30 people were killed in Chicago market?

Lets think of a similar but different analogy. Suppose you went over to your sister’s house and notice a crack house next door. You go to the authorities and the next day bombs take out the crack house and a couple of the nearby houses including your sisters. The authorities say I’m so sorry but think of the good side – if this were world war 2 we would have had to bomb the whole block. I’m aware that because we failed to desist from using war tactics when we should have been policing factions in Iraq now have mustered a semblance of an Army.

In cases like today when 250 fighters massed for an attack, war tactics are acceptable. Unfortunately, no one seems to understand how many more resources we need over there in order to provide effective police coverage.

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Payroll tax fraud and the Economy

The December 6, 2012 issue of the Huber Heights Courier carried this Headline "Area CEO to pay for tax fraud".  Here are the nuts and bolts of his offense;  the business he ran paid $6,630,667 to his employees.  This means his business should have paid $1,710,688 in payroll taxes but he claimed that his business paid just $2,441,566 to employees.  he was trying to get away with paying just $603,532 in payroll taxes.  I've written about this behavior before in the context of when I first started working back in 1980.  Now that we see that businesses and illegal workers are still weakening Social Security and Medicare it is important that we bring up the subject again
 
Since I joined the military and even after retirement I've had limited exposure to employers that pay "under the table", so it is hard for me to quantify from recent personal experience how wide spread the problem is today.  But I can say that off the books employment hurts our economy in many different ways:  First, social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance are cheated out of needed funds making them less stable.  Also, employers willing to cheat these programs have a competitive advantage over companies that do not cheat.  The benefits of the competitive advantage gives an even greater market share to the cheating company compounding the amount of money not going to Social Security and Medicare.
 
The Huber Heights Courier article is the first article I've ever seen that tells us the government has prosecuted a company for paying under the table.  Much stricter enforcement of the current law and more publicity of violations is one means to get more companies and their workers to follow the law and strengthen the economy, Social Security and Medicare.  I would also like to see the laws change so that smaller employers and their workers are more able to afford to contribute to the payroll taxes and are rewarded for participating within the tax system. 

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Don't fear the Fiscal Cliff;

It is a shame that the neither of the two sides are proposing a fiscally responsible way forward. A fiscally responsible way forward would include "raising revenue" even from those of us that make less than $250,000 a year. It would be better for the country if this happened because of an intellectual discussion. However, politically it appears that in order to reduce the amount of Social Security discount from 2% to 1% and in order to raise the marginal rate on the top earners by 2 percentage points congress and the President will have to allow the tax cuts to expire automatically so they can claim that they lowered them later.

Like I said in the title of this article - the country will become stronger fiscally because of these changes so we don't have to worry if the country will survive if we "fall off the fiscal cliff". The stock market may be a different story.

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News from: HuberResidents.org

This stream is from HuberResidents.org

Submitted by Thomas McMasters

No read-ahead for Tuesday's City Budget discussion

Tuesday November 18th at 6:00 pm the Administration Committee will meet. The location is different than usual, it will be in the Police Community Room.  The police station is behind City Hall at 6121 Taylorsville rd.  The reason the meeting has been moved is because there should be a lot of interest in the main agenda item;  The 2015 City Budget. 
 
This morning I was cleaning my bathroom.  As an aside, I do need to plug Everything Huber Heights because I learned there that mixing dishwashing soap and vinegar works really good at cleaning the calcium from the glass shower enclosure.  While cleaning I was thinking about drafting an article summarizing my first year as Mayor.  I was thinking about goals that were set and which were achieved. 
 
One of my goals was to make sure council and residents could get useful information prior to the committee meetings so we could come prepared for the discussions.  While thinking about this it dawned on me that I hadn't even considered opening the read-ahead for the Administration Committee meeting yet.  If I had been successful in my goal I'm sure I would have panicked at trying to figure out when it would be possible to fit in the 4 or 5 hours that would be needed to go through a well prepared package.  Instead, I continued to clean while drafting this article in my head.  It turns out that I'm not quite as bold as some people might think.  In the first draft it was my plan to not open the read-ahead until after posting the article.  While cleaning I was 95% sure there wouldn't be any useful information in the read-ahead.  When I actually sat down to write though I had to check.
 
http://agendaquick.hhoh.org/agenda_publish.cfm?id=&mt=ALL&get_month=11&get_year=2014&dsp=ag&seq=911 
 
Hope to see you there.  Too bad we can't come prepared.  But at least my bathroom's clean. 


Break Break---------
 
Let the Clerk of the Council know if you plan to come Tuesday.  I'm hoping that the presentation materials will be converted to a searchable .pdf file and made available to download for those that bring Laptops, Ipads or Kindle Fires to meeting.  The City does have a guest wifi login that could be used if these documents were put online at the last minute.  If you are really committed to coming but aren't planning to bring an electronic device, you could also request that paper copies be made for your use so you can follow along during the meeting.  




 

Submitted by David Webb

Vectren is running gas into our streets.

I have noticed that Vectren is going to run natural gas pipes into out street with the intent of providing gas furnace service and water heater service in the future.
DP&L put this street on restriction long ago and ony serviced electric furnaces.
What I find wrong is they are staking out our front yards in what looks like a ditch to go the length of the street about 12 feet back from the curb. Only that goes through every driveway on the street.
I would like to know what engineer approved that plan. Because the underling landscape about a foot under the ground is all construction cement and brick materials. That material will make it quite a mess to put a pipe in the ground and possibly dangerous to the residents on the street. I am no engineer so I am not qualified to say.
The correct way to put this in would have been at the base of the yards instead of in everyone's front yard where you will have an issue as it will make everyone's yard look bad.
Also you get twice the service for the price if you are at the base of people's yards because the gas can be made to feed back to back houses.
I really do not see how they are going to make a profit.
I have a house with gas heat and the bill is always higher than the house where it is all electric. Might have to do with the insulation, but that is the comparison. Most times it is anywhere from $50 to $75 more in the winter.
The other problem is laying lines under people's driveways. By the markers that looks like how they are attempting to do it. They are going to either tunnel under people's drives or break the drives up and redo them. Both plans are not really economical.
Tom, can you check into this for me? I have no clue as to who we should go to. But if the city has a civil engineer or if it is county wide.

Dave

 

Submitted by Tom_McMasters

New School Board Member - With post campaign thoughts

During this campaign we had three qualified professionals step up to be considered.  You can look at their introductions in the comments section below this post.  The opportunity to fill the open position is past.  The next opportunity will be to file next August to be on the ballot next November (2015).  I've kept the original post.  After that I added some fresh thoughts.  Don't forget to look and the Candidate intros and encourage them to pursue a seat through election. 

Original Post:
Are you considering becoming a School Board Member? You must apply by Today to fill the vacancy caused by Mr. Ellis' resignation. 

I was just re-reading my Oct 16, 2014 edition of the Courier. The first page article talks about Mr. Ellis resignation and the filling of the vacancy.

"The board will meet at 6 pm on Thursday Nov 6 at Weisenborn...... The board anticipates naming a new member at the Nov 6th meeting. Any community members interested in considering this board position which will run for about one year one one month, can contact Superintendent Susan Gunnell.

Mrs Gunnell's school phone number is 937-237-6300

Looks like they will decide in executive session starting at 5:00 pm and then vote at 6 pm.  There is no chance for public comment so you must let them know by email or phone today if you want the position or if you support one of the others that do.  
http://huberheightscityschools.org/board/

  • I'm heading to work. Here is what I'm hoping happens today.  Find the Facebook thread at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/424944654277713/permalink/575781712527339/ 

    The next time I look at this post, I hope I see a hundred people or more have Liked one of the possible candidates. Make sure you tell us about yourself if you'd like the position.

    This morning I hope you email the current board members with a message like this:

    Dear Board member, I know you will be considering appointing a new Board member tonight. I am hoping that more than one qualified candidate will contact you today, as well as, many others from the community in hopes of gaining appropriate consideration for a fresh perspective for the open position.

    Later in the afternoon you email the current board members with a message like this:

    Dear Board member, I think ( ) would be a great contributor if you appointed her/him to the board.

    Finally, I hope to see you at the Board Meeting Tonight.   



    Post meeting update and thoughts -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Board appointed the candidate they had identified on Oct 20th as being their choice.  The main meeting started late because the Executive Session was extended. 


     I'm was impressed that all three of the possible candidates, Brian, Nick and Megan attended at least a portion of the meeting. Earlier in the day I thought we needed at least 100 likes for the candidates and thirty people to show up in order to sway the understandable resistance to making a last minute change.  This would have been a last minute change. Those goals weren't achieved (although it was a big room - there were decent number of people familiar with this effort there. However, you can tell from the emails I got from Mark Combs and Ms Gunnell and the fact that the executive session discussion on this subject lasted 5 to 10 minutes into the start of the regular meeting that the opportunity was there.  It is important for you to look at the Candidate intros in the comment section below and see that it is possible to find intelligent, well educated professionals to weather the political arena in order to contribute to the community.  Lets make sure we encourage them so they keep that interest because we need their expertise and experiences as a city and a community.  



    So I spent a lot of time coordinating this today.  What lesson learned can anyone take away from the experience? 
     
    Who, What, Where, Why and When!
     
    It seems like every time I talk with a school official I always have to say, "Who, What, Where, Why and When".  Tonight school board members exhibited both intrigue and frustration that they hadn't received any interest from the public about filling the open seat until the last 24 hours and then there was a lot of interest. 
     
    The best I can determine the article in the Courier about Mr. Ellis' resignation was the primary means the Board used to publicize the Open Position.  This article came out online prior to the paper copy that came out on Oct 16 but even so the way it was interweaved into the article the mention of the vacancy would not prompt many people into thinking to put their name in the hat.  It is not surprising to me that on Oct 20th they still hadn't gotten any word that there were "community members interested in considering this board position".  As tempting as it might be for some of us to cry conspiracy --- its not!  It's just that no one in the school system seems to have learned a basic 5th grade lesson --  Who, what, Where, Why and When.
     
    5 days ago my twelve year old asked me to kick the soccer ball around with her.  After telling her we could do it each of the previous 4 days I finally decided to leave work early enough to make it happen today.  This put me running a little late for the board meeting.  On the way out I realized I hadn't checked to see where the meeting was going to be held.  I had the website easily available since I had posted it here a number of time already today.   
     
    Who, What, Where, Why and When 




    I'll poke one board member a little here.  In our post meeting discussion he kept saying that it shouldn't be necessary for the Board to go out and beg the public to come and do the job.  Of course the Board is on record as telling the public they went out and asked the person they appointed to come do the job.  

    Everyone that is politically involved was pretty busy until this past Tuesday.  This includes  me and all the members of the School Board.  I'm glad to see that those that read this blog and those that participate in the Social Media discussions on Facebook and similar sites showed the flexibility to transition to another important issue like the School Board Appointment so that the Board at least had the opportunity to examine and evaluate a number of qualified candidates.

    Update 8 November 2014 ----------

    Now that we've had another sunrise since the flurry of activity, I've awoken realizing that I could have done better with my Facebook postings.  Re-reading the original campaign here at HuberResidents.org, I'm pretty happy with the message that was conveyed.  However, I could have done much better addressing the fact that Mr. Fisher's resume is pretty impressive and he was asked to step forward by Board Members.  What is obvious now is that I should have taken both of these into consideration while the campaign was ongoing. 
     
    As a minimum I should have tried to reach out to Mr. Fisher and let him know I have a strong enough conviction that we need a fresh perspective that I was actively pursuing finding other candidates.  In the Courier report it stated he was stepping in because no one else was stepping up.  If I were more politically sensitive a frank conversation with him may have produced an ally.
     
    I'm less sympathetic toward the Board because they made a lot of missteps in the searching and announcing process.  This doesn't change the fact that in order to get past the "embarrassment factor" of asking someone to step in and then not, we would have needed an almost heroic amount of public participation to get the Board to seriously consider a candidate within this short a time period.  Or better yet, an ally that was willing to wait through a last minute vetting of last minute candidates.
     
    The other very real concern the Board must of taken into consideration and one that I was worried about was how well could we know the candidates that we brought forward in this short of time period.  There was actually much more time available than what was portrayed.  However, the board could have really had a dilemma if they did not show enough respect to the already identified candidate and it turned out they needed him.  I'm confident all the candidates we brought forward and made themselves available in this short time period are top notch.  I didn't know that would be the case when I started the Facebook campaign at 9:26 pm, 20 hours prior to the last possible time to get applicants in front of the Board. 
Submitted by Thomas McMasters

The City Levy and the School Levy - someone recently asked me what…

I'm seriously thinking of voting for Issue 2 which is the School Levy.
 
The reasons are:
 
1.  It is in my own best financial interest
 
2.  My conservative friends let me down when they didn't run anyone for school board.
 
3.  I believe Mrs. Gunnell, the School Superintendent is a great administrator. 
 
4.  As Mayor I should consider voting for Issue 19. But voting yes on 19 without voting yes on 2 would prove that running a deceptive campaign, like the one encouraged by the city, works; while acting responsibly, like the school system has this past year, does not work.    
 
 
The order I picked for listing the reasons has more to do with my personality than any thing else.  I put the first item first because I tend to put what I am most likely to be criticized about first.  Go ahead and say it, "Oh, he just wants you to vote yes on Issue 2 because his kids play on four different teams".  I'll state here that the money doesn't effect my voting decision at all.  In fact, when I was voting against the levy, one of the reasons I donated to the JROTC was to make sure that my vote was because I knew the school board could be making better decisions.  I wanted to make sure that it wasn't just to save a couple hundred dollars. 
 
 
 Last year I stopped voting against the school levy because my conservative friends didn't step up to try to make sure there was at least one person on the board specifically there to look out for us financially.  A City needs a good school system and I fully believed that under the previous School Superintendent we could have gotten a much better school system a lot cheaper if we had a fiscally responsible school board.  But no fiscal conservatives stepped up to do the work.  Cutting, cutting, cutting without appropriate guidance only leads to anarchy.  The State cut, cut, cut and neither the State nor my conservative friends stepped up to give guidance.  So I stopped voting against the levy.  Fortunately for Huber Heights City Schools the school board was smart enough to hire Mrs. Gunnell as school superintendent. 
 
The past few years Mrs. Gunnell has worked tirelessly to lean out the school and protect residents and students from the disastrous results that would occur if the State had taken over management of the School System.   I believe she has the ability and energy to make the Huber Heights City School system one of the best in the area.  This will result in a better education for our kids and school reputation that helps bring in families with high income potential to the city.   I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to give her back the resources she would have had if not for the bad economy to see if she is as good a manager with normal resources as she has been with a shoestring budget. 
 
This leads into item 4.  I see the school system's approach to passing the levy as one in which they are inviting residents to look at their record and make an appropriate decision.  On the Huber Heights City School's website they publish a 5 year budget projection so you can see that they are planning ahead.  They publish what they spend monthly.  If you look you can see that in 2014 expenditures are expected to be $56 million which is $9 million less than the $65 million they spent in 2012.  From memory, in 2010 and 2011 they had spent closer to $68 million.  I can remember being frustrated a few years ago when School officials would tell us that they were cutting 3 to 5 million dollars from the budget but the total expenditures were going up.  Now we know that the school is spending less money now than they did in 2010. 
 
 
Look at some of the other fiscal progress.  Back in 2010 we were spending more money per student than cities like Centerville and Kettering.  Now Huber Heights City Schools spends about $8700 per student while Centerville and Kettering spend about $10,000 per student.   Over the last four years base pay for teachers has not increased.  All HHCS staff members have taken reductions in pay. 
 
 
Finally, the School system has gone out and found real professionals to help improve the school system and is in the middle of developing a long term plan for improving instruction and finances.  This Warrior Pride Strategic Planning has more than a hundred residents providing input on how to improve Community Engagement, School Climate, Financial Stability and Staff Engagement.  This work will continue no matter what the outcome of the election and has the real potential to provide useful input on how to improve the school system. 
 
 
Mrs. Gunnell's leadership in producing real fiscal change, work in developing an executable plan and willingness to let that good work speak for itself, goes a long way in making me believe that it might be time to give her a real opportunity to make a difference.
 
 
Contrast this to the City approach which relies on slogans such as Open, Honest and Transparent as well as Facts that are designed to deceive.  My father taught me when I was much younger that honest people don't go around saying trust me, those without secrets don't have to say they're open and smart people never have to say they're smart. 
 
 
This past week City officials have begun to beg people to read the ballot language so that they can see that the money from the levy will only go to paying for Police and Fire services.  It's hard to believe City officials think there are more people gullible enough to fall for that than there are that would be insulted at the attempt to deceive.  Everyone in the city knows that the specific new money raised by this levy will go to police and fire.  Almost everyone knows that this will make it so that council can spend more money on things like the Aquatic and Music Centers. 
 
 
The reason why the deception is so dangerous is because by allowing council to continue the deception the strongest supporters of Police and Fire services are making it more likely we will lose some police and firefighters in the near future.   The key thing to remember is that even if this levy passes, a lot of money comes out of the General fund to pay for police and fire. If we made council be honest then we would be pressing Council to commit to not spending more than what this levy frees up on things like running the Aquatic and Music Centers.  By allowing them to pretend that this levy only effects police and fire funds then it allows them to spend more out of the General Fund.  If they spend too much out of the General Fund then they will still have to cut Police and Firefighters in order to get a balanced budget. 
 
 
You can read the ballot language all you want but if council spends too much of the money from the General Fund to operate the Music Center then they will have to take it from somewhere, according to this council that somewhere has to be the General Fund money we use to pay for Police and Fire services.  In more blunt language, you can vote for this levy but because you allowed council to use deceptive tactics to get it passed, it really doesn't do much to prevent future cuts to police and fire services. 
 
 
Getting back to the 4th point, I am the Mayor and I should be considering voting for Issue 19.  One of the reasons I am considering voting for this Issue is because we have been using a lot of our reserve funds in order to balance the budget.  One of the methods of reducing the stress on the reserve funds is to raise more revenue through a levy.  However, one of my greatest political ambitions is responsible government.  Fundamental elements of responsible government are open, honest and transparent communications between government officials and the public.  The School Administration has demonstrated these characteristics by their actions.  The City is trying to claim these characteristics despite its actions.  The road to responsible government becomes longer and harder if the deceptive campaign works while the campaign base on commitment and hard work fails.  So it would be impossible for me to vote yes on the City Levy unless I also voted yes on School levy.
 
 
I've not decided yet how I will vote on either Issue 2, the school levy or Issue 19 the city levy.  On the city levy, I realize we are cutting into the reserves of the General Fund.  As a fiscal conservative I like having reserves.  I had been sitting at probably a 25% chance of voting yes but that moved up to 40 to 50% after the last Administration Committee meeting.  The last Administration Committee meeting gave me hope. But then the city doubled down on promoting their deception by pretending that reading the ballot language would help people understand the issue.  Realizing that despite my efforts, this council has no commitment to achieving good government through open, honest and transparent communication and no respect for the intelligence of the average resident  was exceptionally disheartening.  Now there is probably about a 20% chance of the City levy getting my vote.  
 
On the other hand, I really believe in Mrs. Gunnell and I believe she deserves an opportunity to see just how good she can make the schools.  I also am impressed with her commitment to responsible government.  I'd rate the likelihood of my voting for the school levy as 75%.  

Submitted by Thomas McMasters

Election Day is Tuesday - which is the best polling place to shake…

Election day is Tuesday.  Polls are open on Election Day from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

You can find your polling place at:  

Montgomery County  http://www.voterfind.com/montgomeryoh/pollfinder.aspx

Miami County  http://www.voterfind.com/miamioh/precandpoll.aspx

I picked up my League of Women Voter guide at City Hall this afternoon.  The DDN Voter Guide can be found HERE.  I entered 6934 Sylmar 45424 and it generated the ballot specific to my home.  Remember, the Miami County ballot will be different from the Montgomery County ballot so it is best to enter your own address. 

I plan to spend time at the polls on Tuesday shaking hands and hearing your thoughts and concerns.  I know that the Church of God and St Peters are great polling locations for meeting people.  Both have one main entrance, the poll workers at both place the 100 ft signs at about 100 ft and there are a lot of people that vote there.

 
I'd like to go to additional polling locations on Tuesday to hear from those of you in other Wards.  If your polling location seems like a good place to talk with people that would be interested in saying hello, let me know the address.  I may end up there.  


Early voting.  There have been many court challenges but this is the information I got from the Board of Elections web page:

http://www.mcohio.org/boe/docs/Dir_2014_30_Uniform_Days_and_Hours_for_In_Person_Absentee_Voting_20140929.pdf  

Monday before the Election from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm  at the County Board of Election. 

For Montgomery County this is 451 W. Third Street 
Dayton, Ohio 45422
Phone: (937) 225-5656  

 For Miami County this is: 215 W Main St, Troy, OH 45373
(937) 440-3900


 

Submitted by Thomas McMasters

This is to benefit Carriage Trails

There is an interesting (and should be controversial item) on the agenda Monday night.  It would be controversial if some of the more conservative members of the community were aware.  This is because the proposal is set up to allow the developers of Carriage Trails to get State money with no real benefit to the State or the City. 
 
Interestingly, one of the Council member was struggling with why we would do such a thing when the Chairman of the Administration Committee managed to end the discussion by stating, "I'm good with it" and then asking me, "Mayor are you good with it".  I knew how I would vote if given the opportunity.  More importantly the Council Member who was struggling had on at least two occasions said something to the effect that --- this just benefits Carriage Trails and does nothing for the City.  Having a full and open discussion on an issue is my goal and determining this had occurred I replied in the affirmative (or I was caught off guard and answered reflexively). 
 
Background:
 
In the picture below you can see 36 acres of land depicted in green.  This land is currently on a 99 year green space restriction because of an agreement between the city and the developer.  Currently, the developer maintains this area as a walking path.  At some point the home owners association will have to take over maintenance responsibilities. 
 
The proposal is to submit an application with the expectation that the State would purchase the property and then deed it to the City.  The developer said they would write the sales contract so the homeowners would still be responsible for the upkeep of the maintenance.  The length of time it will be required to stay a green space will increase from 99 years to forever. 
 
We talked about other properties that might be better for the city to apply to acquire.  One of the requirements is that the property be forever designated a green space.  Staff indicated they could not find any other better suited land to acquire at this time.
 
We did talk about the hazards of applying for this land.  A statement was made that a successful application would mean we would be more likely to win again - foot in the door concept.  I suspect that if we got it we would be put at the back of the line for future applications.  We didn't talk about how it would affect our reputation with those in charge of the project if they found out this was just a means to get money into the hands of a favorite developer. 
 
We also talked about the need for an appraisal.  The appraisal will cost about $4,000.  Monday night I found out the appraisal was already underway.  If Council decides not to pursue this application or if  the application is denied then the city pays this appraisal fee.  If the application is accepted then the State will pay for the appraisal. 
 
There was also discussion on tying the walking path into some more green space to the south so people using this area can go directly to the Aquatic Center.  This is likely to happen whether the City owns this land or it remains part of the Carriage Trails properties.   
 
After I answered the Chairman's question we made eye contact and I indicated he should make sure the Council member with doubts was good with it.  But instead we heard; if that's alright with the committee, it will be on Monday's agenda.  A couple seconds later we were talking about something else.  It will be interesting Monday night to see if she really was good with it and how many other council members are too. 

Green space proposal
 
Here is the link to the Administration Committee Packet and the City Council Meeting Packet
 

Agenda Item Description or Legislation Title
A Resolution Authorizing The City Manager To Submit A Project Application For Grant Funding Through The Ohio Public Works Commission Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program District For Fiscal Year 2015, And Declaring An Emergency.
(first reading)
Purpose and Background
The Ohio Public Works Commission is accepting grant applications through the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund.  Grant funding is available for projects that focus on environmental conservation, including acquisition of green space and the protection and enhancement of river and stream corridors.  The City would like to prepare an application to purchase green space land that is located north of Shull Road in the Carriage Trails residential development.  Two parcels totaling 36 acres have been designated as green space and promoted as use for hiking or walking in the development plan.  Grant applications are due October 30, 2014 by noon.  A land appraisal is currently underway to determine a value for this land.  

Submitted by Tom_McMasters

A Briefing isn't a Report

I know I gave great praise in my article "We Won" to staff for producing some written documentation that can be reviewed by residents to help us understand the financial situation of the City.  This will be somewhat helpful in helping people evaluate the city financial situation when they go to vote November 4th.  Hopefully, we are working toward the day when the information is made available in a format that can be passed around better between citizens.  In previous writings I've described this as an essay written so an 8th grader can understand it but also containing enough information so that it had enough details to pass a college level course. 
 
The briefing that was given last Monday night was great but because it was a briefing the information will last only as long as our memories.  The posting of the worksheets is good but there isn't much of a description on why they are there or what they are suppose to show.  So here is what I envision we are working toward.
 
During my orientation the city engineer now assistance city manager brought out a document I had seen before; The Huber Heights 2011 Comprehensive Plan.  This is a good start for an overall picture of where the city is going.  Currently you can search HHOH.org using Comprehensive Plan and you won't find this document (however if you search using comprehensive you'll find it here - Thanks Scott for the correction).  This plan is 48 pages long so it is much longer than what I envision will be the first page available to the public.  In fact, the first page I would like to see available to the public might print out to two pages.  That page would tell us that the 2011 Comprehensive Plan exists, why it exists and what work is being done to improve it in the near future.  If someone wants to see the full 2011 Comprehensive Plan then there would be a link to another two pages that describes the 2011 Comprehensive Plan more fully and that has a direct link to the actual document.  
 
Also, on the initial page would be some of the higher interest items that would fall under the 2011 Comprehensive Plan for instance "The Heights Development".  If there is something at the next level that people would be talking about or interested in that falls under a category like "The Heights Development" that also could be mentioned on the introduction page.  An example of this would be the Music Center.  Each of these high interest items would also have links to their own pages and inside those pages you would find links to sub categories (for instance the Aquatic and Music Centers for the Heights) and source documents.  So the Music Center intro page would link to some of the documents we saw last Monday, for instance the worksheet showing how we expect to finance the construction costs and the expected operation budget. 
 
Key to each of these pages and intro is the summary of what has occurred previously, what is going on now, and identifying what work needs to be accomplished next.  Other important elements is to identify a city point of contact or responsible party, a timeline for updates and improvements, and the funding needs and availability.
 
-------------------------------------------
 
Post Script:  Though I mention the 2011 Comprehensive Plan and know that we have a Heights Development agreement.  Both these documents need a lot of work to make them useful as tools for the City's economic growth.  Not only doesn't the 2011 Comprehensive Plan mention the Heights Development it is not written in a way that could easily be edited to incorporate it into the plan.  The other major problem with the document is the third section "Implementation".  That section starts with a number of good practices like Inventory Tracking and developing a Marketing Strategy but isn't specific enough to give guidance on how to start.  Nor does it give a status on if the City had any of the items it recommends and if the City did, how close were they to what is recommended.    
 
Looking at the Heights Development Project you can see it needs work by the fact that it calls for the developer to submit to the City reports such as a Land Assembly Agreement, Updated Conceptual Development Plan, Infrastructure Analysis, and a Project Budget and Project Schedule.  Though we have never formally relieved the original developer of any of their responsibilities, city representatives keep mentioning another contractor as taking the Land Assembly Agreement duties.  I'm not aware of the status of any of the other reports that the original developer is suppose to be making.  If staff is getting them they aren't bringing them for discussion at any of the committee meetings. 

Submitted by Thomas McMasters

Ebola will give science a bad name

My apologies this really belongs on tfmsview.com but I haven't written there for awhile and I wanted to get my thoughts out quick.

While listening to Meet the Press this morning a CDC representative kept saying things like the science tells us that you can't get Ebola from a person that doesn't have symptoms and you can't get Ebola if you don't come in contact with a person's bodily fluids.  Yet we know that two healthcare works from the first Ebola patient diagnosed in America ended up with the virus.  

The statements that imply that we have a full and infallible scientific understanding of Ebola are idiotic.   No scientist or any person with an understanding of science would ever make such a statement. 
 
This week the message we hear from these guys is that there is no possibility that anyone at the bowling alley or subway or his girlfriend could get this virus because the science tells us that his self monitoring made sure there was no chance of spreading the virus.
 
Every scientist realizes that there is a possibility that perhaps they may not have a full understanding of what they are studying.  It will be a shame if the public starts to distrust real scientist because these non-scientist incorrectly stated the science tells us we are in control. 

Submitted by Tom_McMasters

Just the FAQs flier


I received an email this evening from a resident complaining the City is sending out campaign literature about the upcoming vote on the tax levy.  My first inclination was to write him back and tell him the city is forbidden by law to spend money campaigning for a tax levy.  I haven't actually read the law or the opinions that state the city or the school district is forbidden from spending money trying to get a levy passed, but I know this is a pretty pervasive thought.   Adding weight to that thought was the hiring of the Impact Group.  In the November 2013 Administration Committee meeting when council first revealed they were going to seek a levy, at the end of the of the levy presentation, council members agreed they should hire professionals to market the campaign because they didn't want to make the same mistake as the schools.  When this item showed up on the Regular Session Agenda there was no mention of a levy marketing firm instead it was presented as "To Seek Out And Present To Council For Its Consideration A Consultant(s) To Assist And Advise The City With Regard To The Impacts And Effects Of The Economic Forecasting Of The City Over The Next Several Years, And Declaring An Emergency".  So there is a some anecdotal experience to think spending money to get people to pass a levy might not be right.
 
Before I replied to the resident though I thought I would check out the postcard.  Luckily I had received that same mailer today and it didn't go straight into the outside trash.  I fully expected to see a proclamation telling us what committee had paid for the mailing.  Instead there was no such proclamation.
 
I really should confirm with city staff that this is something the city paid for with city tax dollars before I write much more.  So I won't write much more.  Keep in mind though that the FACT is that no cuts in police and fire or parks or the senior center occur until council votes on them.  I am fully in favor of council passing next year's budget today based upon the projected 2015 revenue.  That way people would have an official document that shows how many police and fire fighters council is willing to cut next year and also how much council is willing to spend on the Music Center. 
 
Until then though look at what council has passed that effects how much money is available to pay our safety personnel.  If council hadn't hired the Impact Group we could keep one more police officer on the street for more than half a year.  If council hadn't  committed to pay $225,000 for the Music Center Management contract we could pay for 3 fire fighters to stay on nearly all year long.  I may continue this list if it is confirmed that some city staff member approved spending tax dollars on this postcard.   
 
Until them you can look at it and decide if you think this is funded by city tax dollars or by an outside group.  




 

Submitted by Tom_McMasters

​We Won!

We won the opportunity to do more work.  Monday night at the Administration Committee meeting Huber Heights residents got background information that was useful in helping us understand some of the positive and negative reasons past decisions have been made.  We received a number of briefings, accompanied by worksheets, that can help us understand the financial situation of the city.  For once this wasn't a complete sales pitch.  Getting away from the sales pitch mentality though means there will be items within the briefing and worksheets that need further explanations  It also allows you and me to contribute to improving future decisions.  But before we can contribute it is necessary to review and evaluated what was presented Monday.
 
I'll tell you up front that I've not looked at much since Monday night.  Yesterday afternoon the documents from the meeting were posted.  Now those of you that weren't at the meeting can see what was presented. I've not gone in yet to see if all of them were posted nor have I checked to see if any of the information was different.  In some cases I hope the information was a different.  We had a good discussion on the Music Center Operations projections.  In a better world, the document posted would be much better than the document shown Monday.
 
The first thing that we should do is identify which documents make sense for us to concentrate on.  Here is where the documents can be found:
 
http://www.hhoh.org/component/k2/item/392-administrative-committee-presentation-10-20-2014.html
 
Look for the Music Center Operations projection.  This is the document I will be evaluating first.  As presented Monday it is a one page document.  At the bottom it tells us that neither the sponsorship dollars nor the management contract are included in the calculations.  
 
Other documents of interest are the worksheet showing how we will pay for the Music Center and a second worksheet that addresses both Carriage Trails and the Aquatic Center repayment.  I don't recall seeing it (I did come in late) but I heard mention that the Water fund repayment had also been addressed.
 
I believe that we will all come to a better conclusion, we will all have a better understanding of city issues, and we will progress faster, the more eyes we have looking at the source documents and the more brains we have evaluating the numbers.
 
What do I think?
 
For those of you that aren't planning to look at the source documents.  Here is my initial impression.  Keep in mind my impressions need to be backed up by further review and I haven't done this yet.
 
Impression 1.  The numbers presented show the city will be able to pay for the construction costs of the Aquatic Center, Music Center and Carriage Trails infrastructure.  This will depend on interest rates but the ones used were not unreasonable.  If we get the same performance from the Federal government as we had in 1982/1983 then we probably will have problems.  Also, the calculations included about $300,000 a year in revenue based on the assumption that we will get someone to construct a $20 million dollar building next to the music center.  Staff correctly realized calling this Good Sports would raise a lot of flags with those in attendance, so they called it something else in the briefing.  However, since in the presentation they didn't highlight this new title Quality Checking all the numbers could be useful.  But overall, these numbers and assumptions (interest rate and a building next to the Music Center) seem reasonable.
 
In my estimation the Aquatic Center is likely to be about neutral to the budget over the next few years.  Their numbers show a slight profit when you include the sponsorship fees.  I wonder how much of the lawn contract was included in the worksheet - the numbers were presented to fast for me to see. I get the impression that we haven't set aside money for future maintenance needs.  Those are things that I would look at when the opportunity arises.    The concerning part about the Aquatic Center is the number of people that attend.  I'd like to figure out how to get more people to use the facility. 
 
The most concerning item was the Music Center Operations projects.  This document needs a lot of work.  In my estimation the $223,000 projected net income it shows can be off a million dollars either way.  That is too much variance for this document to be useful.  When I get the opportunity to sit down and look at city finances I'm going to start by Quality Checking this document.
 
Right now though I need to head to the job that actually pays the bills.  Hopefully, some of you have the time to pick up the ball and get some of the work started.  Please share your thoughts and your analysis.
 
Thanks
 
Tom
 
p.s.   I've posted again without taking the time to edit. 

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