Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Toast to Bipartisanship

In 1952, Armon M. Sweat, Jr., a member of the Texas House of Representatives, was asked about his position on whiskey. What follows is his exact answer (taken from the Political Archives of Texas):
"If you mean whiskey, the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.
"However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into Texas treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.
"This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle."


Now we get "career ending" sips of bottled water.  .  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Let's Play Tax Basis

No doubt Prop 13 has resulted in some perverse outcomes.  Here's a chance to play a game called Guess the taxes.  Playing today are two properties.  Contestant #2 is 80 acres in Sonoma, California. 
Contestant #1 is a cute 2+2 on 0.07 acres in bucolic Camarillo, California. 

Guess their taxes!  As a hint the Camarillo cutie recently got a huge break in their taxable basis. 

As another hint the Sonoma property has been paying Prop 13 since 1978  on the 1975 fair market price plus 2% compounded ever since. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It Smells Like... Victorville!

Some wacky stuff happens in bubbles and their aftermath.  Here's a house new in 2006 that has seen it all.

13673 Princeton Dr, Victorville, CA 92392

Trulia listing.
Zillow listing.  

Price history:
02/13/2013Listed for sale$70,000-80.2%$34 
Here's a more telling story, the tax history:
The realtor couldn't even bother with pictures and just slapped up the google street view.  
Rather than make you look at this gem of the desert I present instead this gem of the desert:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Greetings California.

California Democrats consider giving lawmakers more say over initiatives

The November election delivered California Democrats a coveted supermajority for governing the state.

Now the party's leader in the Senate wants to use that political capital to give the Legislature more say in the voter initiatives that make their way to the ballot.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plans to unveil what he calls "a starting point ... to begin a very serious discussion about initiative reform" this month. Key to his proposal will be increasing lawmakers' involvement in the system.

"The initiative process is important and all efforts should be to strengthen it, but the biggest problem, I believe, is that there is not a real connection between the initiative process and representative government in a way that could make both representative government and the initiative product better," he said.

The idea that the state's 101-year-old direct democracy process needs updating isn't new. The rising cost of initiative campaigns, crowded ballots and legal battles over language have fueled calls for reform.

Shortages of political will and cash have sidelined previous efforts to change the system, through both the Legislature and the initiative process.

Democrats now have the ability, however, to put the changes on the ballot without GOP votes. Providing extra motivation is the struggle they faced to put a tax measure on the November 2012 ballot.

Steinberg's package will likely include an "indirect initiative" proposal, which would let the Legislature amend or enact an initiative proposal with proponents' OK.


Steinberg is also considering efforts to lower the vote threshold for state lawmakers to put taxes on the ballot ...

Lawmakers have long been critical of aspects of the initiative process, particularly ballot-box budgeting that they say constrains spending....

Former Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern,..."Many legislators would want to abolish (the initiative process) if they could do it privately with a private vote," Stern said. ...


• Allow the Legislature to put statutory initiatives, such as tax measures, on the ballot with a majority vote. Changes to the state constitution would still require a two-thirds vote.

• Allow the Legislature to offer amendments to a proposed initiative or pass its own version of the changes with sign-off from proponents.

• Require ballot measures to sunset or be reapproved after 10 years.

• Require that initiative proponents rely on a certain number of small donors or volunteers to collect the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

U-Haul Index

In honor of Governor Rick Perry visiting Oxnard here are today's rates for a one way U-Haul move

Ahh the lure of the Golden State.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Priced to Sit

Classic example of everything wrong with bad pricing and wishful thinking.

The listing says 2,240 sq ft but the Assessor says 1,788 sq ft.
Asking price is listed as $145/sf but is actually $182/sf.
The village generally sells for $141/sf. per Dataquick.
Location, location, location.  At less than 5000 sf lot this property backs up against the main highway.  Hardly the mountain retreat experience.
And finally the price.  $325,000 is just the most expensive of its type anywhere in the village and pretty much everywhere in the village is a better property.

and finally, it's boring.

Friday, February 01, 2013

More Porridge for the Golden Bear

Great news for California State revenue in Hanuary.  $5 above expectations erasing the $1.8 billion accumulated shortfall this fiscal year to date.  Almost as good news, previous budget constraints suggest that most of this will go to restoring school funding that had been shortchanged in the budget.  That means there won't be the usual money grab in Sacramento that ends up usually spending more that the windfall brings in.

Here's a decent LATimes link.

The analyst's office floated three possible causes for the surge in tax revenue. The most positive theory is also the simplest -- the economy has improved and there's more income to tax.
The others are less optimistic. It's possible that wealthy residents, fearful that federal budget negotiations would increase their taxes, decided to cash out investments early. If so, that means the state could see less tax revenue in the next fiscal year.
It could also be an issue of timing -- this year, residents may end up paying more of their taxes in January and less in April.

As expected not a peep about using the money to backfill all the unacknowledged debt.