xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Quotidian Bleat

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Bernie Sanders Supporters Say Bern or Bust

The video above, entitled, "Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight" exemplifies the many reasons Bernie Sanders supporters do not feel that a vote for Hillary Clinton, in the event that Bernie Sanders does not win the Primary Election, would be a salve to the Democratic Party.  She is more than an establishment politician.  Many of us want a woman to become president, but we want a woman to become the President to break the status-quo.  We want honest leaders who are committed to ending political corruption, and unfortunately, it is difficult to believe Hillary Clinton is that candidate.

Bernie Sanders supports citizen engagement in our political process.  That civic engagement gives all people, low-income people, wealthy people, women, men, black people, white people, Native people, Etc, a stake in their communities and in their nation.  Civic engagement is the cornerstone of civil rights.  To enhance civic engagement, we need trustworthy political leaders--people who have demonstrated a passion for working for the people.  If we have a political system that comes with a price tag, we no longer have a Democracy, whether representative or not.  If someone like Bernie Sanders can break that film, there is a fleeting chance that other passionate, skilled, intelligent leaders of all demographics can finally enter leadership in our country.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Funding Challenges for Public Service of Unincorporated Daytona North in Flagler County

     Daytona North is an unincorporated area of Flagler County with a postal address served by the incorporated city of Bunnell, Florida.  Daytona North is not on a map, nor is it a Census Designated Place.  Most of the roads in Daytona North are unpaved, and until 2015, the area did not have its own fire station.  The residents do not have a municipal water supply, and so the residents must drill wells and install septic systems on their properties for their water source and waste water needs.  The area is surrounded by timberland and farms which extend miles down a stretch of road that leads from Daytona North to the incorporated city of Bunnell, Florida in Flagler County.  Bunnell, Florida is a geographically expansive municipality with a concentration of population and businesses 
approximately 10 miles to the east of Daytona North, but the population of Bunnell itself, as reported by the U.S. Census is only about 2,778 with a median household income of $26,182 (U.S. Census, 2014).  

     The city of Bunnell is the nearest municipality for Daytona North residents who, because of their unincorporated status and low contribution toward public revenues, have minimal access to public services and common businesses such as grocery stores and banks.  As is common for local governments, Flagler County uses property taxes to gain most of its revenues along with a one percent local option sales tax above the state’s six percent sales tax (Flagler County Tax Collector, 2015).  Because the city of Bunnell itself has a limited revenue stream, public services in the city of Bunnell are also limited, furthering the travel needs and economic challenges of the Daytona North residents.  

     The hospital, for example, is approximately five miles to the east of Bunnell.  There are only two public middle schools and two public high schools in all of Flagler County located in the city of Palm Coast, and there is one very small library in Bunnell which operates only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.  While the city of Bunnell contains a small individually owned grocery store with convenient-store prices on most items save for meat products, the nearest grocery store is in the incorporated city of Palm Coast, Florida.  Economic development of rural Daytona North without adequate revenue poses a challenge for county officials, because the officials must balance increased revenues for development with the unique challenges of a relatively low-income demographic.  The primary question, then, is how important is economic development of this area, and how could the county foster the type of development needed without out-pricing the residents who may not be able to afford increased property taxes.

Historical Backdrop for Budgetary Concerns
     The history of Daytona North illuminates the funding challenges that current county officials face when considering the needs of this demographic.  Local residents sometimes refer to the area as “The Mondex.” Before the area was developed, a company named Dimension Corp, a subsidiary of Mondex Corp, purchased the land in 1971 under the county stipulation that the developer pave the roads and implement proper water and drainage provisions (O’Reilly, 1979).  In 1976, the developer alerted the Division of Land Sales that it would not comply with the county stipulations, and Dimension Corp declared that it would not pave roads nor implement central water or sewer provisions (1979).  The county officials were concerned about the potential future cost burden on the county for developing a potentially non-viable area outside of the central population growth of the county, and so the Flagler County Clerk at the time refused to record warranty deeds submitted by Dimension Corp (1979).  The county clerk’s actions sparked a suit by Dimension Corp in the Circuit Court in which the judge ordered the Clerk of Court to record the deeds (1979).  Daytona North became a residential area with a small population, dirt roads, wells and septic systems, and the county was not prepared to develop this area. 

     By 1992, the county had paved one mile of a three mile main road called Mahogany Boulevard.  The advisory board for the district, in 1991, expressed that the residents in the area were concerned with “bad roads, poor drainage, hordes of mosquitoes and a lack of street lighting” (Laundrie, 1991).  In August of 1992, an activist in favor of paving the roads in the area, Jane Hailey, who was the chairmen of the then active advisory council for the Daytona North Service District, was walking her dogs when another resident punched her in the face, and the general consensus was whoever the assailant was was likely upset over her proposal to the county to progress with paving the roads (De Marco, 1992).  Residents had been submitting petitions to halt any paving projects in the area, especially since property taxes would increase by 28 cents per assessed front-foot above what was already levied for mowing and grading dirt roads.  The increase would become average annual property tax increase of $93 (1992).  The county officials understood that much of their operating budget for the area was already usurped by mowing and dirt-road maintenance expenses, and even Hailey conceded the challenge by saying, “We don’t have enough money to do all the things they are talking about…start on the roads, decide what we are going to do on the roads” (Laundrie, 1991).

     Since the 1990’s, property taxes have increased, and the county has paved all of Mahogany Boulevard, two other main roads, and portions of other main roads in Daytona North.  The county has built a park and community center, Hidden Trails Community Center, and in 2012, the county commission approved a $61,000 well house at Hidden Trails Community Center for local residents to get free, filtered water, with the $6,000 annual operating cost being paid for through a slight increase in property taxes for Daytona North residents (Cavaliere, 2012).  The primary challenges facing the county with improvements to the area have been generating enough revenue to support enhanced community services, especially with a lower income population staunchly concerned about increased property taxes and decreased rural conveniences.  The increase in population in the area mitigates some of the revenue burden, but potential future concerns may arise as the area continues to grow without adequate development to keep pace with population demand. 

County Responsibility and Budget Strategies for Daytona North
     The Flagler County Commission releases a five year strategic plan with necessary annual updates, and in the plan, the county addresses its responsibility to the county and to the municipalities in the area.  In the county’s 2013 update of the 2010 to 2015 strategic plan, the county asserts its role as a leader, coordinator and implementer of services with local municipalities (2013).  The county lists goals in its strategic plan, and the first goal is to enable “a diversified economy that provides a range of job opportunities that raise median county income, a high level of employment, and increased tax base” (Flagler County BOCC, 2013).  

     One of the potential considerations for this goal is the fostering of economic development for Daytona North residents who are potentially increasing their community capacity.  Many community resources have increasingly become more decentralized in the nation, widening the burden on local governments to foster economic development in small rural communities (Dewees, Lobao, and Swanson, 2003); however, Flagler County has used federal assistance from the Department of Transportation to pave portions of roads in the area which would enhance the ease emergency entrances and exits to the area with the final paving projects being completed by 2020 (Murphy, 2014).  The roads may not just serve the residents, though, because as the community expands, the potential for industrial growth in neighboring unincorporated land plots could increase revenue, job growth, and community development, and the infrastructure to support that growth should be a primary concern to Flagler County officials in terms of long-term projections. 

     While much of the land surrounding the specific area of Daytona North is zoned agricultural or timberland, the county can approve incentives for industrial or retail development, or it can re-consider zoning for vacant land should there be commercial interest.  For example, in 2015, Flagler County did that to enable a Dollar General to be built on County Road 305, a road that borders the eastern most section of Daytona North (London, 2015).  The only challenge to the re-zoning for the Dollar General plot of land for Daytona North is that the county annexed the land into the city of Bunnell to accomplish this task (2015), because the revenue received from this new development will be included in the city of Bunnell revenue rather than contributing toward the Daytona North Service District revenue.  

     Already, the largest hurdle for rural development is the relatively sparse population and other common demographic factors which widely contribute to revenue challenges for the county in community development for these areas (Dewees, Lobao, and Swanson, 2003).  Beyond re-zoning, county officials governing rural unincorporated areas may have unique opportunities with regard to economic development of those areas, because the county itself can side-step the type of bidding wars between municipalities when new industry is interested in locating in or near the rural areas under the unincorporated label (2003), which is why the county should carefully consider the annexation of surrounding land to the incorporated city of Bunnell.  Abatement of taxes to incentivize industry may be enticing when the incorporated taxes are higher; however, the bargaining power the county has in an unincorporated area could be fiscally advantageous as well. 

The Daytona North Budget
     As an unincorporated area of Flagler County, Daytona North does not have a general budget for itself outside of a special service tax levied for road maintenance, mosquito control, and the maintenance of the community center and its filtered well water house.  In general, Daytona North is somewhat of a free entity under the direction of the county.  Flagler County, as reported in the Approved 2015-16 Budget (2016), has an estimated population of just under 100,000 residents.  The exact number of people living in Daytona North, as defined by the concentrated area of population proves challenging to ascertain due to the fact that Daytona North is not a municipality and it is not a defined Census Designated Place.  As a taxing district, people living in the almost rectangular perimeter of four roads, Water Oak Road, Tangerine Ave, County Road 305, and Canal Avenue, pay a service district fee on their property taxes; however, since Water Oak Road, Canal Avenue, and County Road 305 are county roads, the people living on those roads do not pay the service district fee, even though they benefit from some of the services provided by that fee.  So the revenues generated by the Daytona North Service District Fund represent some feasible way to account for population and economic growth in the area, but using such a tool to discern information about the area is flawed.
     The County has broken down its taxing entities with their assigned budgets for the fiscal year 2015-16 as follows:
Taxing Entity
Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget $
County Wide Budget
Transportation Impact Fee Funds
Parks Impact Fee Funds
Municipal Services Fund
Building Department Fund
Daytona North Service District Fund
Rima Ridge Mosquito Control District Fund
Espanola Mosquito Control District Fund
Bimini Gardens Road Mainenance Fund
Totals-All Taxing Entities
$ 189,277,298
 (Flagler County BOCC, 2015)
     The 2015-15 adopted budget reports a revenue of $2,300,788 in the Local Government Half Cent Sales Tax; $2,171,598 for Local Option Small County Half Cent Sales Surtax, and $200,000 Local Communications Services Tax (2015).  The adopted budget explains that the local government Half Cent Sales Tax is used in a Capital Projects Fund which includes expenditures for projects such as the Island House Bridge Replacement and Eco-Cottages at Prince Place Preserve and River-to-Sea Project.  The county used The Local Communications Services Tax revenues in the Debt Service Fund for Capital Improvement and Refunding Revenue Bond to assist with the financing of several capital projects such as the Sheriff’s Operation Center and the Flagler County Jail Expansion (2015).  The budget also discussed a Motor Fuel Tax, with total revenues of $2,449,641 which can only be used for a specified purpose, such as building and reconstructing roads (2015).  Flagler County distributes the revenue for these specific projects by municipality, with Palm Coast, the city with the highest population and largest road network, receiving 73.35 percent of the revenue distribution from this levy.  The distribution does not include any specific distribution for Daytona North as it is not a municipality; however, 19.3 percent of the Motor Fuel Tax distribution is allotted for “Flagler County” (2015), which should include unincorporated areas such as Daytona North.

     The Daytona North Service District accounts for $832,428 of the Flagler County taxing entity (Flagler County Adopted Budget, 2015).  The Flagler County Property Appraiser’s website offers an estimated tax calculator on its webpage based on the market value or assessed value and the tax district.  The county allows for both a homestead and a senior extension.  In Daytona North, for example, an assessed value of a home of $100,000 with the standard homestead exemption would result in approximately $987.80 in annual taxes.  With a senior exemption, the annual taxes would be $560.85.  Considering the area is a relatively low-income area with vacant lots, mobile homes, and very few homes with an assessed value under $100,000 (Flagler Property County Appraiser, 2015), forecasting the budget without precise demographic data will be even more challenging as the area demographics change. 

Conclusions and Future Considerations
     Flagler County commissioners and county officials state their official role as leading economic development and aiding municipalities in implementing needed public services.  The unincorporated areas of Flagler County have no advocates outside of the county commissioners, and that poses a threat and an opportunity, simultaneously, for economic development in and near rural Daytona North. The lack of specific data on the area makes it difficult for forecast revenues and expenditures for the area, as a demographic shift in a few years could mean increased revenue but an even higher increase in demand for public services such as emergency services, road services, and potential drainage or access services.  To illustrate this point, Edberg, Cleary, Simmons, Cubilla-Batista, and Andrade (2015) studied ethnographic methods for health interventions for immigrant Latinos, and found that one of the most important aspects of understanding important health intervention methods was to accurately define a community to get the most potent demographic and population data required to administer solutions to the most pressing health problems.  

     Flagler County officials might consider more accurately assessing the area of Daytona North or applying for a Census Designated Place status from the Census Bureau to get a better idea of how to project funding forecasts for long-term projects.  Furthermore, the Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, published by the county in 2016 described, specifically, the Daytona North Service District Fund which excludes some members of the actual community from the tax base, and the general distributions of revenues to municipalities do not describe any specific community within the unincorporated areas of the county.  Because the population of Daytona North is relatively competitive with the population of the incorporated municipality, Bunnell, county officials may consider the potential need to delineate a specific budget description of the special service district of Daytona North to accurately assess growing needs and potential revenue sources from that area.  

Cavaliere, M. (2012). Daytona North water partners recognized.  Palm Coast Observer. 
     Retrieved January 30, 2016 from: http://www.palmcoastobserver.com/article/daytona-north-
De Marco, J. M. (1992).  Street-paving activist punched near home.  Daytona Beach Sunday
     News-Journal.  Retrieved from Google Archives January 31, 2016 from:
Dewees, S., Lobao, L., & Swanson, L. E. (2003). Local economic development in an age of
     devolution: The question of rural localities*. Rural Sociology, 68(2), 182-206. Retrieved from
Edberg, M., Cleary, S., Simmons, L. B., Cubilla-Batista, I., Andrade, E. L., & Gudger, G.
     (2015). Defining the "community": Applying ethnographic methods for a latino immigrant
     health intervention. Human Organization, 74(1), 27-41. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1663660625?accountid=8289
Flagler County Approved Budget. (2016).  Flagler County approved 2015-16 budget.  Retrieved
     January 31, 2016 from: http://fl-flaglercounty.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/9636
Flagler County BOCC. (2013). Flagler County commission 2013 strategic plan update 2010-
     2015.  Retrieved January 30, 2016 from:
Flagler County Property Appraiser. (2015). Records Search.  Retrieved January 31, 2016 from:
Flagler County Tax Collector. (2015).  Sales tax.  Retrieved January 31, 2016 from:
Laundrie, C. (1991). West Flagler Service District residents voice concerns about roads,
     mosquitoes.  Daytona Beach Sunday News_Journal.  Retrieved from Google Archieves
     January 31, 2016 from:
London, A. (2015). Bunnell approves Dollar General. The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 
     Retrieved January 31, 2016 from: http://www.news-
Murphy, J. (2014). DOT plans 9 Flagler road projects.  The Daytona Beach News-Journal. 
     Retrieved January 31, 2016 from: http://www.news-
O’Reilly, D. (1979). Officials purchase land in Daytona North.  Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 
     Retrieved from Google Archives January 30, 2016 from: 
U.S. Census. (2015). Bunnell city, Florida.  Retrieved January 30, 2016 from:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Did Senator Elizabeth Warren Just Call the Election Rigged?

Senator Elizabeth Warren stood on the Senate floor and attacked the corrupt political system in speech that echoes the warnings that Senator Bernie Sanders has been alarming for quite some time.  She attacked Citizens united and discussed the real reason we have such an overwhelming wealth inequality in our nation.  She says the rich and powerful have captured our government.  She urged Congress to stand-up to the "super wealthy few."  She  urged Congress and the president to consider the following ways to get the government unhooked from the snares of the wealthy few:

1.  Pass Senator Durbin's Fair Elections Now Act.
2.  Pass the Disclose Act
3. Pass the Shareholder Protection Act
4.  President to sign an executive order to require government contractors to disclose their political spending
5.  The SEC should create rules to require public corporations to disclose the money they spend on elections
6.  The FEC should require ads run by super pacs to include disclosure of people or corporations supporting the ads
7.  We should have a constitutional amendment to restore authority to Congress and to the states

"A new presidential election is upon us."  She goes on to say, "Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who wanna run this country like some private country club."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bernie Sanders Throwback to the Nineties

In 1995, Bernie Sanders stood up for service members who were gay.  Watch this video of him defend the defenders when Representative Cunningham of California derided sending "homos into the military."

Monday, January 18, 2016

Question to Hillary Clinton on the ACA

During the first Democratic debate of 2016, Hillary Clinton denounced Senator Sander's healthcare plan, because she felt that the Democrats had worked so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act.  She criticized the feasibility of such an underaking as Sanders has proposed, then she defined some ways ways to strengthen the ACA.  Bernie Sanders then criticized Clinton for not mentioning that 29 million people are still uninsured and many more are under-insured under the ACA.  So, here's the trillion dollar question:

How can the ACA be strengthened so that low-income adults in states without the Medicaid expansion can afford healthcare?

This situation is not an uncommon phenomenon.  In the state of Florida, where there is no Medicaid expansion, there are a lot of adults between 40 and 60 who are not eligible for Medicare but who earn incomes which place them below the poverty level.  I am sure this situation exists in many states, and whether temporary or long-term, it is a reality for a significant number of people.  Right now, a single adult earning a couple hundred dollars a week is below the federal poverty level, but he or she would be expected to pay more for insurance than someone who earns 130 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, due to the provisions of the ACA which grant those people a federal subsidy.  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Should Elizabeth Warren Endorse Clinton or Sanders?

Greg Sargent wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled "Elizabeth Warren's dilemma:  Should she endorse Clinton, or Sanders?" In the piece, Sargent explains that Warren, in 2013, urged Clinton to run for president, despite the fact that Warren agrees with breaking up big banks and re-instating a new Glass Steagall to separate commercial banking and investment banking, a measure Hillary Clinton does not support.  Sargent goes on to explain the conundrum that Warren is in, because Clinton would work to defend the Dodd Frank Wall Street reform while preserving the law's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Warren fought very hard to get legislatures to establish that bureau, so she has a stake in supporting Clinton.  That said, Sargent then purports,

"All of which is to say that a Warren endorsement of Clinton could hardly be dismissed as a sellout of her own priorities."

Or would it?

Hillary Clinton has ebbed and flowed on foreign trade deals, especially regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been touted as degrading provisions of Dodd Frank for U.S. financial institutions.   Hillary Clinton supported it in 2012 before declaring it not up to her level in October of 2015, before the agreement was settled.

Beyond that, Elizabeth Warren herself had been the siren for Hillary Clinton's immersion into the financial realm.  While, on the face, some of Clinton's stances do align with Warren's, but for anti-establishment voters, Warren most certainly could be viewed as a sellout by endorsing Clinton.

Watch this video of Elizabeth Warren discussing what happened when Hillary Clinton became Senator after Clinton fought against a bankruptcy bill.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Berniecare: How Will Seniors Afford It?

Bernie Sanders started a frenzy with his talk on universal single-payer healthcare.   In the comment section (I know, but I'm addicted) of an article by Amanda Girard for Politifact on the solvency of the Sanders plan, one commenter, Sandra A Sandy Gregory, expressed apprehension to the plan given the potential disruption to senior citizens.  She said,

"And how is this going to effect the elderly's medicare. Single payer means it will do away with medicare and probably increase the costs to elderly. I would like to see those figures outlined. Many now using Obamacare do not pay this much either. Some pay little or nothing. What about the unemployed workers??? Just want all the answers. Still voting for Hillary."

So I found myself baffled that, with the criticisms bellowing throughout the media, so may people do not realize that Bernie Sanders proposed legislation in 2013 that gives more insight into BernieCare. Obviously, such legislation might go through some fine-tuning before Congress could approve it.

The legislation was called American Health Security Act of 2013, S.1782.   And you can read the bill here:  American Health Security Act of 2013.  

The proposed legislation did in fact dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance (CHIP).  Egad!  What the proposed healthcare bill also did was establish a federal health program for everyone which would be administered by the states (the way each state administers may federal programs).  How is it funded, though?

According to the summary, it would amend the Internal Revenue Code to impose the following levies:

  • Health care income tax
  • Payroll tax for employers
  • Income tax surcharge on modified adjusted gross income exceeding $1 million
  • Excise tax on securities transactions (with an income tax credit for these taxes)

What level would be taxed?
  • 6.7 percent tax for each employee levied on employers and self-employed individuals
  • 2.2 percent tax on taxable income under $200,000
  • $4,400 plus 3.2 percent of excesses over $200,000 for income over $200,000 to $400,000
  • $10,800 plus 4.2 percent plus 4.2 percent of the excess over $400,000
  • $19,200 plus 5.2 percent over $600,000

So, if you make under $200,000 a year, it's a really sweet deal.  If you make up to $400,000, it's almost as expensive as most private insurances plus co-pays are now.  If you make over $400,000 a year, you might wince; however, consider the average cost of a health insurance premium.

To break this down, if you earn $199,000 a year, you would pay $364 a month for full medical coverage.  And if you think it's unfair that someone should pay $10,800 a year if they make over $400,000 a year, remember, many people pay almost that much now, regardless of their income.  In 2008, the agency I worked for had limited means to provide comprehensive health care coverage for a family.  For myself, my health insurance was adequate, but I still had to pay co-pays and deductibles.  To cover myself and two dependents, I would have had to pay $400 biweekly, or $10,400 a year.  My annual income was only $19,000 a year.  With this plan proposed by Senator Sanders,  I would only be taxed 2.2 percent, or $34 a month ($418 a year).  

But what about seniors?  Well, the proposed legislation by Senator Sanders made it clear that the the only income to be taxed would be taxable income, so if you have no taxable income, you pay nothing.  If you believe the seniors worked hard in some way all of their lives and that we should consider how they will manage as they enter retirement years, it seems like sound policy to only tax what is taxable and to do so at a progressive rate.