Tag Archives: budget

1/3 Oklahoma’s Budget Dedicated to Corporate Incentive Payouts

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

Kaye Beach

Dec. 3, 2012

Welcome to the New Economy!

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up:

  • $80.3 billion in incentives each year
  • 1,874 No. of program

Check out the interactive map that shows spending incentive spending state by state here

Oklahoma

Oklahoma spends at least $2.19 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:

  • $584 per capita
  • 37¢ per dollar of state budget

Read more about Oklahoma

Here is the NYT accompanying news report;

Tax Incentives to Companies Bleeding Towns Dry, With Few Results

Sunday, 02 December 2012 09:51 By Louise Story, The New York Times News Service | Report

In the end, the money that towns across America gave General Motors did not matter.

When the automaker released a list of factories it was closing during bankruptcy three years ago, communities that had considered themselves G.M.’s business partners were among the targets.

For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.’s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks. As late as 2007, the company was telling local officials that these sorts of incentives would “further G.M.’s strong relationship” with them and be a “win/win situation,” according to town council notes from one Michigan community.

Yet at least 50 properties on the 2009 liquidation list were in towns and states that had awarded incentives, adding up to billions in taxpayer dollars, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Some officials, desperate to keep G.M., offered more. Ohio was proposing a $56 million deal to save its Moraine plant, and Wisconsin, fighting for its Janesville factory, offered $153 million.

But their overtures were to no avail. G.M. walked away and, thanks to a federal bailout, is once again profitable. The towns have not been so fortunate, having spent scarce funds in exchange for thousands of jobs that no longer exist.

One township, Ypsilanti, Mich., is suing over the automaker’s departure. “You can’t just make these promises and throw them around like they’re spare change in the drawer,” said Doug Winters, the township’s attorney.

Yet across the country, companies have been doing just that. And the giveaways are adding up to a gigantic bill for taxpayers.

A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

“How can you even talk about rationalizing what you’re doing when you don’t even know what you’re doing?” said Timothy J. Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Times analyzed more than 150,000 awards and created a searchable database of incentive spending. The survey was supplemented by interviews with more than 100 officials in government and business organizations as well as corporate executives and consultants.

A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States.

Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages. States compete with other states, cities compete with surrounding suburbs, and even small towns have entered the race with the goal of defeating their neighbors.

While some jobs have certainly migrated overseas, many companies receiving incentives were not considering leaving the country, according to interviews and incentive data.

Read more

Wayne Pettigrew and his Big Brother Budget Fixes

Kaye Beach

August 19, 2011

The revolving door is a descriptive term for the shuffling of roles between former lawmakers to industry lobbyists (or vice versa)

One of the main reasons the public disdains the those who trip through the revolving door is obvious. It provides a vehicle for public servants to utilize their office for personal gain at the expense of the taxpayer.

The most complete example of the revolving door is when the lawmaker rotates to lobbyist and back to lawmaker again.  That seems to be the trip that Wayne Pettigrew wants the Oklahoma’s Second District voters to send him on.

However, on occasion, the revolving door can hit a politician from behind.

From The Red Dirt Report;

Pettigrew considering a run for Boren’s seat

Posted: August 19, 2011

McALESTER, Okla. — Calling this a “crisis moment” in our nation’s history, former Republican state Representative and McAlester businessman Wayne Pettigrew today announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible bid for Congress in Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District.

The district covers most of eastern Oklahoma and is being vacated by Representative Dan Boren.
“We must chart a new course of fiscal responsibility for our country.  From the downgrading of our debt to wasteful and excessive government spending, the signs are clear that we have no time to waste,” Pettigrew said.

Read More

Mr. Pettigrew recognizes that our nation’s economic situation is dire and says he wants to help.  I don’t doubt the former Oklahoma Representative  and lobbyist has some ideas about how to pull us out of this mess.  I do, however, doubt that Second District voters will like his ideas about how to do it very much.

Pettigrew has lobbied all across this land for a company called InsureNet.

National Leader In Use Of Highway Camera Data Employs Former Rep. Wayne Pettigrew

Wayne Pettigrew, former Oklahoma House member, is the National Marketing & Government Relations director for the nation’s leading firm in administering data on vehicle insurance data gathered using controversial highway cameras, the firm’s website discloses. Read More

Paettigrew’s plan pushed for InsureNet  to keep states in the black hinges upon revenue generation.

InsureNet uses Big Brother Spy Cams to investigate every passing motorist and then fine the devil out of them.  Pettigrew has a plan for how to get them to pay too- by holding their driver’s license over their heads until they cough up the dough.

 “He [Pettigrew] said today there are no “escapes” and the days of ignoring a citation are over. Vehicle reregistration and drivers license renewal depend on paying and clearing any fines – including those regarding insurance – from any jurisdiction.” http://wwwtmrcom.blogspot.com/2010/05/pettigrew-switzer-tinker-owens-made.html

Wayne Pettigrew has given plenty of thought to how to squeeze the working class for more money and he seems quite certain that people won’t pay those fines unless you twist their arms.

Apparently that certainty is based on experience.

Pettigrew Faces $200 Fine In Nevada

The Nevada lobbyist registration of former Rep. Wayne Pettigrew, a national officer in the firm InsureNet, has been revoked for failure to file reports on time. He owes a $200 fine, a spokeswoman tells The McCarville Report Online.

Here is how InsurNet pitches its product to cash strapped cities;

Traffic cameras could help wipe out city’s projected deficit

March 16, 2009

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Chicago could rake in “at least $200 million” a year — and wipe out the entire projected deficit for 2009 — by using its vast network of redlight and surveillance cameras to hunt down uninsured motorists, aldermen were told today. (That article has been removed from the Sun Times although plenty of links to discussions about it can be found)

Another report says;

The Chicago Sun-Times quotes InsureNet president Dr. Jonathan Miller on what the city might expect to earn with the system in 2009. “Certainly, it will be well in excess of $100 million,” Dr. Miller said. “We think at least $200 million. And the upward projections are far higher.” InsureNet would charge a collection fee of “just” 30 percent in exchange for its services. Clearly, this type of system—installed at no small cost—is all about making money.

Read more

Bob Feldman (36 years with insurance enforcement in Nevada and chaired the governor’s SAGE Commission Task Force on DMV) explains the InsureNet racquet;

‘Insure Net is attempting to get this item on the agenda via the governor’s office, an attempt to use their $100 million additional revenue source as one budget savior.   . . . . IMPOSSIBLE TO COLLECT AN ADDITIONAL $100 MILLION at the current registered vehicle count. . .  Aside from privacy and other issues and a powerful lobbyist, Insure Net’s program and projections have ZERO credibility

Is this the sort of “fiscal responsibility” voters can expect out of Wayne Pettigrew as their congressman?

InsureNet has earned a reputation nationwide for making inflated claims as to the accuracy, security and profitability of their system.

You may recall the uproar back in 2010 caused by Gov. Brad Henry’s Budget Proposal for FY 2011  which proposed installing some 200 new spy cams on state highways for automated enforcement purposes.

Oklahoma To Deploy Photo Ticketing Cameras Statewide
Private company to set up network of cameras to track Oklahoma drivers and issue insurance tickets to generate $95 million a year.

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/31/3165.asp

Pettigrew also pitched the deal to Pennsylvania lawmakers on March 2 of 2010 telling them that Oklahoma (and two other states) were currently implementing the system.  (see the Pennsylvania House of Representatives transcript pg 30)

That statement was untrue.  -No state has contracted with InsureNet for this service described by one Nevada legislator as “wacky

As reported on June 16 of 2010 by the The McCarville Report Online;

Although InsureNet was among those companies that had submitted bids to the state, as of mid June ” a contract has not yet been awarded.”

From NewsOK Aug 2, 2010

[Jonathon]Miller said he is “mystified” by delays in awarding the contract and hasn’t heard anything from Oklahoma officials in a long time.

Read more: http://newsok.com/delay-in-contract-award-may-harm-oklahoma-revenues/article/3481349#ixzz1WwRlAof9

Feb. 24 2010, Nevada nixed InsureNet.

Senate Majority Leader Stephen Horsford said;

“The two problems with InsureNet are having cameras all over the state, so, a “Big Brother” type thing, that Nevadans will not like…and the fact that this company has no agreement with any other state.  Why should Nevada be a guinea pig on a risky scheme?”

Scarcely a week before the Pennsylvania committee meeting, in Nevada it was reported that InsureNet had no states implementing its system. The same article noted that InsureNet did verify medical insurance.

Big Brother gets Bipartisan Opposition

Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Geist, a Republican,  said that any such device should only be used  for safety, not financial reasons.

“The first thing you want to do is to protect people’s individual rights. The second order is safety,”

The chairman of the Pennsylvania state House Transportation Committee. Rep. Joseph Markosek, a Democrat,  expressed doubts.

“. . . the idea of using some of this technology strikes some trepidation in the public.  and asked “. . . how much Big Brother do we need in our society?”

Will Oklahoma’s Second District warm to the idea of Wayne Pettigrew and  his Big Brother budget fixes filling Dan Boren’s seat?

I gave my magic 8 ball a shake and here is what it said;

More about the Oklahoma “Spy Cam” deal

AxXiom For Liberty Tonight 6-8pm CST Jonathan Small OCPA,Mark Costello OK Labor Commissioner

March 18,2011

Tonight on AxXiom For Liberty

(Listening information here)

Special Guest-Jonathan Small, C.P.A.,  Fiscal Policy Director for OCPA.

Jonathan writes:

“Contrary to what you may hear from our friends on the left, government spending in Oklahoma continues to rise, and it continues to outpace personal income growth in the state” Read More

Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.


We are also honored to have  Mark Costello, Oklahoma’s new  Labor Commissioner with us this afternoon.

Here is a recent article by Mr.Costello;

Bills offer relief for Oklahoma wage earners

BY MARK COSTELLO Oklahoman   

As labor commissioner, it is my duty to advance profitable employment opportunities for the wage earners of the Sooner State. That is why I am happy to report that relief is on the way.

Two courageous legislators, Sen. David Holt and Rep. Scott Martin, have introduced bills (Senate Bill 826 and House Bill 1576, respectively) that would restore equilibrium between the voters and their public servants. These legislators deserve the full support of citizens who believe in a just and sustainable society

Read more: http://newsok.com/bills-offer-relief-for-oklahoma-wage-earners/article/3545046#ixzz1GyuKoW1q

Listening information here

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin headed to Washington

Oklahoma’s first female governor is attending her first National Governors Association meeting. The freshman governor has been named to the group’s nine-member executive committee.

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Oklahoman 

Published: February 26, 2011

Gov. Mary Fallin will be telling her peers this weekend about her efforts to reduce a $500 million budget shortfall by agency cuts and consolidations and making the state more efficient by sharing services.

[ . . ]Topics on today’s agenda for the governors include job creation, education, health costs and homeland security.

The governors and their spouses are invited for a black-tie dinner with President Barack Obama and the first lady. They will return Monday to the White House for meetings with the president and members of his Cabinet.

Secretary of State Glenn Coffee is accompanying Fallin on her trip. Fallin’s husband, Wade Christensen, is flying up Sunday to join the governor for the White House dinner.

*UPDATED*Ada Oklahoma- Tuesday Tea Party Gets Touchy When Ken Miller Crashes the Party

UPDATE-11/3/2010

I did get to talk to Mrs. Catherine White and after doing so found myself twice as mad as before!

Catherine is a genuinely nice, gentle lady and the antics that Ken Miller imposed on her have caused her more than a little discomfort. She is trying to help others get involved and informed.  She managed to get 75 people out to that event, and that is a feat no matter how you slice it.  Much preparation went into the meeting and she was distressed that 5 people left the event right after sitting through Ken Miller’s public hissy fit.  I hope she takes this all as a learning experience and uses the bad behavior as an example of why the grassroots needs to be involved in the political arena.

As far as her take on the whole mess, Catherine was not impressed with Ken Miller at all!  She said that he spent a good deal of time canonizing himself as  “the were the most holy, stainless, pure and angelic person” and then treated the crowd to 30 minutes of hurling accusations at Al Gerhart.  She didn’t mention the specific accusations but did find it notable that while Al sat quietly through the rant;  “he didn’t make a peep” she said, Miller was “jumping up to get his two cents in” when it was Al’s turn to speak.  Catherine would not allow Al to use his time to shoot back but reminded him that he was there to inform them about the state questions so Al got little time to defend himself which I think is just as well and Catherine handled that matter very appropriately.  She was concerned about all of those people who showed up to be informed and made sure that they were.

Here is the advice I gave to Catherine by email after we spoke;

I understand your concern about this situation reflecting poorly on you or tea party efforts.

My advice is to turn it into a learning experience for them.  We are just regular folks that generally take things at face value because in our daily lives that works.  Unfortunately, politics seems to follow a different set of rules but far from discouraging us, this fact should indicate to us that our input is sorely needed.

What happens is that the good people, upon getting a whiff of the bad smell emanating from the political arena, pinch their noses and go home.  Well, this is exactly what serves the stinkers best!
I always say that I wish I didn’t know had bad it all stinks because now that I do, I cannot turn my back on it.  Why?  Because the dirty dealings that are going on in politics translates to all of us being taken advantage of in many ways not the least of which is in our pocketbooks.

The grassroots are the only political force that can resist the corruption and therefor we must serve as the moral compass in our chosen parties and government.  This is what the grassroots are for.

Rather than being bewildered by the bad behavior rampant in politics, we should turn the tables and insist (just like you did!) that the players follow the rules that we all do with each other ever day.

When you see this type of bad behavior displayed openly, doesn’t it make you worried about what goes on behind closed doors?  It is as bad as you would imagine.

The best advice I have gotten to date on how to navigate the political arena, and you will no doubt be familiar with this bit of wisdom;

“Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves”

Kaye Beach

Oct 31, 2010

No longer content to wait on their Party to hand out assignments or provide them with walking lists, modern day rabble-rousers are doing it all. They lobby, teach, organize events, help write legislation, block walk and even serve as civil watchdogs.

While our government runs us through a meat grinder in their quest to transform government, there is a growing number of Americans who may have been called the liberty sensitive “canaries in the coal mine” but as their numbers continue to grow they look less like canaries and more like a flock of freebirds (or possibly magpies to some aggravated lawmakers. Perspectives will vary)

They print their own political signage, run radio ads, make use of high tech tools like robo calls, databases and websites to inform voters and shine the light on political shenanigans.

But it ain’t all sunshine and roses.

Al Gerhart, of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance and Sooner Tea Party along with the hosts and attendees of a recent Tea Party meeting in Ada got a surprise visit last Tuesday.

Gerhart was scheduled to speak on the state’s ballot initiatives and upcoming Tea Party activities when State Representative, Ken Miller, Republican candidate for the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office turned up unannounced at the event. He asked if he could speak in response to an ongoing Tea Party campaign, www.kenmillerlied.com , an effort to expose instances that activists believe demonstrates deceit on the part of Rep. Miller.

Ken Miller has received some un-welcomed attention from grassroots activists and the media on matters pertaining to the Governors Spy Cam scheme, tax credits, and his role in the Tax/Fee bill that was passed at the tail end of the last legislative session.

The hostess of the evening, Mrs. Catherine White, graciously allowed Rep. Miller the floor in order for him to have his say.

I am told The Oklahoma State Representative began his talk tame but grew temperamental before long.

After offering a bit of personal background about himself, Rep. Miller turned his attention to the matter that inspired him to attend the Ada event in the first place.

“Litter”


Rep. Miller is quite put out with the quantity of “litter” being strewn about the state and he is pretty sure who is responsible for it.

Now, as far as campaign materials go, the signs in question are unusually discreet ones measuring app 3″ x 18″. They hardly seem to qualify as litter but perhaps the difference between litter and valuable information is in the “eye of the beholder’ as one Oklahoma Representative told members of the House when he was asked to clarify the difference between a “Tax” and a “Fee”.

The signs bear only a single web address:

KenMillerLied.com

“They littered my entire House District with them, and they are littered ALL over the state!” the Rep. and State Treasurer hopeful declared to the onlookers.

The Representative went on to charge that Al Gerhart, small business owner and newly minted Tea Party political activist, was fabricating the allegations found online at www.KenMillerLied.com

If you have not met Al Gerhart, I will note that he has a no-nonsense, straightforward approach that has served him well as a small businessman. These same skills have quickly earned him both loyal fans and intense detractors in the Oklahoma political arena.

I like to give credit where credit is due. One thing about Al that is undeniable is that he gets the job done! Furthermore, he does it at a price that you can’t beat with a stick.

Al Gerhart, like many other great people in this state and nation, receives nothing in return for his labor as a grassroots activist and he works harder at it than just about anyone I know.

I am very interested in finding out what those who witnessed what must have been a rather uncomfortable meeting, took away from the Tuesday night spectacle.  On Monday I plan to satisfy my curiosity and contact some who were present and find out what the folks in Ada thought about it all.

When I found out about this contentious event that took place in Ada I contacted Al to find out more about what actually happened — which he was happy to share.

According to Mr. Gerhart, Ken Miller has been badmouthing him and other Tea Party activists at Republican events since last July; other sources validate that this is true.

Gerhart says;

“We ignored Mr. Miller’s antics, after all, he was helping spread the story, I thought perhaps some of the attendees would look further into the facts.  Never in a million years did I think Mr. Miller would ever take the time to hunt me down and confront me personally.”

Apparently, Rep. Miller’s first contention at the recent Ada event was that “I and a few friends were “littering” the entire state with the KenMillerLied.com signs,” says Al.

He notes that Rep Miller “didn’t explain just how a few people could afford the cost of the signs nor how we could manage to ‘litter’ the entire state.”

Ken Miller believes that Al and others in the Tea Party Group were angered by his refusal to permit a certain bill, HB 2810, to advance in the legislature last session.

That certainly didn’t win Ken Miller any grassroots love but it also isn’t the only thing that has gotten him crossways with voters.

Rep. Miller told the crowd that this bill would have prevented the federal government from collecting excise taxes and would also allow the printing of Oklahoma currency.

According to Gerhart;

“HB 2810 did not prevent collection of Federal Excise tax, it would have merely created an escrow account for the tax should Eric Holder, the Obama administration Attorney General make good on his threats to strip road and bridge tax money from Oklahoma should Oklahoma pass a bill to make English the official state language.”

According to this story posted on The McCarville Report on Feb. 10, 2010;

House Bill 2810 allows the state to collect and then remit federal taxes and hold that money in a fund that can be invested with the state retaining any earnings from the investment.

“There is a potential for over $50 million new tax dollars to be made by the state if this bill passes,” said Key. “And that is in the current low interest rate environment. In a typical year, that figure could be four or five times higher.”

Key filed a similar bill in 1995 and it passed the House on an 89-12 vote, but was held up by the Senate.

Gerhart also insisted that there was no mention of printing currency in the bill. I did a word search on HB 2810 and indeed, the word currency is not in it, nor is “printing”, “coin” or “money”.

Here is my story about the resistance we met with on HB 2810;

HB 2810 The Oklahoma Sovereignty Act: Stuck in Liebmanns Craw

One can only hope that Rep. Miller actually read this bill before deciding to kill it early last session.

ROBO-Enragement


Rep. Miller had other complaints about Gerhart and the Sooner Tea Party.

Al Gerhart related that Rep. Miller was indignant over robo calls that the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance (a conservative coalition group initiated by Gerhart last year) issued in July to inform voters about Rep. Miller’s voting record.

“He is apparently upset that mere citizens dared to inform other citizens of his voting record.” says Gerhart.

**Note to self, robo calls do in fact, still work.


FAST TAX

Rep. Miller’s role in the controversial, last minute tax increase bill is a central point of contention between the activists and Rep. Miller that led to the creation of the www.KenMillerLied.com website.

At issue is Rep. Miller’s campaign statements that assert that “he has never supported a tax increase”, a statement disputed by others, including this well respected Republican commentator who has no known involvement in the Tea Party movement.

As highlighted by the www.kenmillerlied.com website, Rep. Miller posted this statement to his campaign website in response to the insistence by some in the Tea Party movement, including this writer, that he was not being truthful about his voting record or his role in the tax increase


In Ada, Rep. Miller admitted that he did author the bill but downplayed that fact saying that that it is part of his responsibility as the Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. There is something to this but it isn’t the point.

But focusing on it serves a great red herring for Rep. Miller to use. The reason many took issue with the bill in the first place was because they believed it was not in accordance with the Oklahoma State Constitution which plainly says no revenue bills can be passed in the last five days of session.

Rep. Miller has backed himself into a corner by making overarching statements to try to obscure his complicity in the tax increase bill.

From what I have seen, I have no doubt that Ken Miller is pretty bright, bright enough to know that the bill was a blatant violation of the law.

Isn’t his first responsibility as a legislator to uphold the law? I doubt the job description for chair of the Budget and Appropriations committee requires Rep. Miller to uphold and defend unconstitutional legislation.

Here is the oath Oklahoma officials do solemnly swear:

“that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties”

If Kim Holland caught the problem with the bill Ken Miller certainly should have!

Miller’s Tax Bill Gets theGavel!

The detractors of the tax increase bill were actually vindicated by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in August of this year;

Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Health Insurance Tax Bill Unconstitutional

Naturally, the person listed as the author of this measure earned the brunt of the ire.

There is some confusion as to the technical procedures at play in our state legislature but Rep. Miller’s blanket denial of culpability in regards to authorship and support of the bill brought about renewed outrage as he is clearly listed as the author and records show that he signed the bill out of committee as well.

The bill in question traveled an unusually tortured path on the way to its eventual passage making it tough to evaluate. The 11th hour appearance before the house and also owing to the resistance it met with from some members of the State House contributed to the mess of documentation on the measure that made sorting out exactly what happened and what it meant hard to discern. Again after researching the matter and the input of those with the credentials to decipher the meaning from the morass of papers, Rep. Miller’s culpability was validated.

See the documents and explanation here

DRT-Dead Right There

In an effort to better understand the degree of support that Ken Miller really did lend to the measure, I made several calls to both legislators and staff and it was pointed out to me that the author of a bill also has the power to quash it at any time. As a gadabout and citizen lobbyist at our state capitol, I was aware of this but asked if this ability to kill your own bill was changed by the fact that Rep Miller is the chair of the Budget and Appropriations. Does his position make any difference? The answer is no.

Had Rep. Miller really wanted to, he could have made that nasty, unconstitutional bill “DRT-Dead Right There”, as Neil Bortz likes to say

From my July 26, 2010 posting on the matter;

  1. Ken Miller authored the bill
  2. A bill cannot be altered or advanced without the approval of the author meaning that
  3. The author has sole power to withdraw their bill.
  4. If Ken Miller really opposed the bill, he could have killed it.
  5. Ken Miller did not kill it.

Given these facts and Rep Miller’s statement that it is a “ridiculous assertion” that he “authored and supported a tax increase bill” as he stated on his website, “Ken Miller Lied” is a perfectly fair and indisputable statement.

They are watching you (but not as much as they could be)

Thank goodness the Spy Cam, InsureNet Governors Revenue deal fizzled out!

Rep Miller was also miffed about the Tea Party dragging him down the center of town with devils bringing up the rear prodding him with pitchforks right in the behind.

What!?

It turns out that the gentle tea folk did not do anything of the sort. But they did discuss (or fantasize) about doing such a show at the recent Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween Parade in OKC.

This idea was resoundingly rejected by the group as a whole as unseemly and the rest settled on handing out candy and literature instead.

The shocking thing to me is that we have a state legislator spying on a group of citizen activists. Think about that for a minute. Ken Miller is not sure who exactly put those little signs out all over the state, but when the legislation he authored reaches its fulfillment then we will understand just what a chill comes when the government has even more power to spy on the people.

Rep. Miller told the audience Tuesday night that he had nothing to do with the spy cam bill. He is telling the truth, technically speaking.

The has been no legislation in Oklahoma that I am aware of called a “spy camera bill”

The Spy Cam’s in question are actually Automatic License Plate Recognition or ALPR.


ALPR uses a video camera and optical character recognition technology to read the letters and numbers on your license plate. By comparing your plate with whatever database it might be linked up to, the device can check to see if you have any outstanding tickets or warrants. It can also see if you are on a watch list, owe back taxes or verify whether or not the vehicle is insured. ALPR can store your data allowing your movements to be tracked and cataloged.

The technology is not foolproof and requires certain features to be present on license plates in order to work optimally.

Our old Oklahoma license plates did not have the features needed to be read properly by the ALPR. The font of the characters, contrast in color and reflectivity needed to be changed before the ALPR could work properly.

**See 3M’s brochure

Oklahoma passed legislation to mandate the creation and implementation of the camera ready plates.

In 2007 SB 748 was passed

SB 748-Creates the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force to choose the design of a new official Oklahoma license plate. Requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission, contingent upon statutory authorization, to implement the license plate reissue using the design selected by the task force.

http://www.oksenate.gov/publications/legislative_summary/2007_legislative_summary.html

In 2008 HB 3326 was passed

HB 3326 by Rep. Kenneth Miller, directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to begin replacing state license plates with those approved by the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force

http://www.oksenate.gov/news/week_in_review/week_in_review_2008/wir2008331403.html

 


 

Http://www.okhouse.gov/Journals/HJ2007/2007%20HComJour.pdf

Gov. Brad Henry’s Budget Proposal for FY 2011 which was unveiled at the State of the State address proposes;

Automated Enforcement of Vehicle Insurance

The Governor’s budget proposes that the State of Oklahoma better protect Oklahomans from uninsured motorists by increasing drivers’ compliance with compulsory vehicle insurance laws through implementation of an automated enforcement system. An automated enforcement system will increase the efficiency of the current Oklahoma law enforcement, enable equal enforcement of in-state and out-of-state violators and reduce costs to existing vehicle liability policyholders. An automated system also eliminates insurance fraud by providing instant insurance verification.

Without these two bills, Oklahoma would not have the (spy)camera ready license plates that we do today.

Read more about the Oklahoma, Spy Cam, InsureNet Budget Deal

Al’s turn

Gerhart goes on to give a detailed account of what he said to the audience when time came for him to speak but I will only give an abbreviated version here with a promise to follow up after I have gathered the impressions of some of the others who were present.

 

Al says;

“I did tell the crowd of the work and expense of the KenMillerLied.com project, all of which was funded by dozens and dozens of citizens from all across the state.”

He indicated to me that he defended the efforts and actions of activists who are ordinary working people that were trying to do their part to improve matters in our state by getting involved in the political process.

Gerhart apparently covered a lot of ground despite several interruptions by Rep. Miller who was finally admonished by an elderly gentleman who stood and expressed that the Representative was being unfair by interrupting when he had been allowed his say without interference. Rep. Miller doesn’t seem to think the same rules that we follow, apply to him.

Al Gerhart expressed some surprise and doubt about the quality of Rep. Miller’s judgment in showing up unannounced to the event and acting rudely. He questioned whether Rep. Miller underestimated the intelligence of the group of people in Ada, who surely had some background about the matters raised that evening.

Pride Cometh…..

Gerhart’s conclusion?

 

“Miller is not stupid, but he is eaten up with arrogance and pride.”

 

Speaking of politicians that exhibit these qualities, Gerhart says he wonders if “the very qualities that put them in charge will not be what brings them down to public humiliation”

Gerhart left the people in Ada with some food for thought;

 

“He [Miller] had listed a long list of endorsements for his campaign, yet he left out one of the most remarkable endorsements, that of the sitting State Treasurer, Democrat Scott Meachum.

 

“I asked what sort of world were we living in where a Democrat elected official would stand for one of their highest elected officials endorsing a Republican?  Is that not insanity?”

He then makes the point that it only seems insane “because we don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

The reasoning, Al suggests, transcends partisan politics because those who stand to benefit most from a Treasurer that will play ball….

 

“. . .can’t afford to have an honest man elected to the Treasurer’s office”


The Oklahoma Spy Cam Revenue Scheme- A Pop Quiz for Jari and Mary

Kaye Beach

Oct. 24, 2010

The issue of using traffic cameras as a source of revenue enhancement was raised at the Oct 20, 2010 Oklahoma Gubernatorial Debate.  This issue was one of import t0o many Oklahoma residents but had they not insisted upon raising the issue, I doubt that it would have broken the surface of the mainstream media.  If you wonder if your voice counts, the answer is a resounding yes!

Kudos to the grassroots activists and the alternative and mainstream media in Oklahoma for helping the people to be heard and their issues addressed.

AxXiom

Reference:

Gov. Brad Henry’s Budget Proposal for FY 2011 which was unveiled at the State of the State address proposed;

Automated Enforcement of Vehicle Insurance

The Governor’s budget proposes that the State of Oklahoma better protect Oklahomans from uninsured motorists by increasing drivers’ compliance with compulsory vehicle insurance laws through implementation of an automated enforcement system.

The automated system can be implemented at no cost to the state. It is estimated that the state will collect $95 million in revenues from this program.

Pg A-5

Private company to set up network of cameras to track Oklahoma drivers and issue insurance tickets to generate $95 million a year.

Oklahoma is preparing an unprecedented statewide deployment of automated ticketing machines designed to generate $95 million in revenue. Instead of using red light cameras and speed cameras, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) is preparing to sign a contract with a for-profit company that will track all passing motorists with a network of at least twenty automated license plate recognition (ALPR, also known as ANPR) cameras. The devices would also “generate significant additional revenues” by issuing $250 citations for expired insurance using the Oklahoma Compulsory Insurance Verification System (OCIVS) database that went live in July 2009.

“DPS envisions a system of automated enforcement of vehicle insurance which incorporates, at a minimum, the following processes: capture vehicle license plate data from stationary locations along selected highways using cameras (and) barcode scanners,” a DPS request for information dated October 16, 2009 explained. “Oklahoma’s new license plates include a barcode.”

The proposal includes a requirement for the ability to keep “daily statistics and related data on vehicles for which license plate data was captured,” which could include logging the date, time and location any particular vehicle passes a stationary camera. The two largest red light camera vendors, Australia’s Redflex Traffic Systems and American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which is one-third owned by Goldman Sachs, offer a nationwide tracking service that uses automated ticketing machines. ATS has filed a bid for the Oklahoma contract along with several other companies including InsureNet.

Read More From The Newspaper

DoJ 2010 Budget Request-National Security

For those who are curious about such things;

FY 2010 Overview
The FY 2010 Budget will help strengthen national security and counter the threat of terrorism. The request provides $7.9 billion for the FBI, including $480 million in program enhancements and $101 million for continued support of overseas contingency operations. Additionally, a total of $88 million for the National Security Division (NSD) to address the President’s highest priority: protecting the American people from terrorist attacks is provided. In total, the Budget requests a $721.5 million increase, including 366 agents, to strengthen DOJ’s counterterrorism investigative capabilities. These funds are needed to allow the Department to identify, track, and defeat terrorists operating in the United States and overseas, and to fortify our intelligence analysis capabilities

Some Highlights:

For the FBI

Comprehensive National Cyber security Initiative (CNCI): $61.2 million and 260 positions (107 agents and 42 intelligence analysts)

FBI Training Academy: $10.0 million to conduct an Architecture and Engineering (A&E) study, to determine the requirements to expand its FBI Academy training facilities on the Quantico Marine Corps Base.(Emphasis mine)

Biometrics Technology Center (BTC): $97.6 million . . .The BTC will be a collaborative effort between the FBI and DoD (Emphasis mine)

Central Records Complex (CRC): $9 million to support the inventory, consolidation, and preparation of 18 linear miles of records for relocation.

Surveillance and Advanced Electronic Surveillance: $32.5 million and 75 positions (12 agents) to expand the capabilities of the FBI’s surveillance groups and aviation program.

For the DEA

Continuing Counterterrorism Investments: $10.0 million and 15 positions (9 agents and 3 intelligence analysts

For INTERPOL

U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) or INTERPOL – Washington: $2.2 million

(plus much more!)

See the Document Here

“Irrefutable” Ken Miller DID Author and Support the Tax/Fee on Health Benefits

July 27,2010

By Kaye Beach

I Did some research.

The Bottom line?

Quote;

“Miller is solely responsible for the TAX/REVENUE/FEE increase, or rose by any other name he calls it. In my opinion it is dishonest for Ken Miller to claim he never ‘authored a TAX increase”

Jack Dake

Although Rep. Miller denies it, he did author the bill. He is responsible for nursing it through the process but then later he had Rep. Cox  substituted as author.

“Their most ridiculous assertion is that I authored and supported a tax increase bill” –Ken Miller

This was an 11th hour bill.
They had to vote to suspend the rules in order to pass it. Rules say that there must be a 5 day wait on revenue enhancing legislation.

Rep Cox says the difference between a tax and a fee is in the eye of the beholder.

The providers are quite likely to pass the Fee/Tax on to their clients.You think?

Did this bill come in at 6pm on Friday so that there would be no chance for the public to protest it?
It was stated that 75 votes were desired.  Why?  Otherwise the measure could be challenged as a tax.

Is the definition really that imprecise?
want to watch the debate?
http://okhouse.mediasite.com/mediasite/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=7c75c58853cd48c6a8078c33dd54011a1d

*update* Turns out, Miller DID author and SUPPORT the bill.

The below is correct and provable by legislative documents posted online.

Jack Dake  says;

I just listened to a misleading phone call from Ken Miller running for st. treasurer. I believe his call is false.

He claims he never authored a tax increase.

I hold in my hands the May 27 HB 2359 summary put out by the Okla Republican House leadership. “Impact: FY11: REVENUE INCREASE OF $70.6 MILLION” is the direct quote from the Okla House REPUBLICAN staff report. Author–KEN MILLER!

The full story: only the author of a bill can advance it thru the legislative process or insert language into a bill. If at any time Miller wanted to kill his bill he merely had to not let it advance.

Miller is solely responsible for the TAX/REVENUE/FEE increase, or rose by any other name he calls it. In my opinion it is dishonest for Ken Miller to claim he never ‘authored a TAX increase’.

The next day, May 28 at 1:45pm Miller signed the conference committee report with its $70 million taxes/fees/revenue increase.

That moved the bill to the House floor. At 2:11pm, 26 minutes later, Miller had his name removed as PRINCIPAL author and substituted with Rep. Guy Liebmann’s name, but kept his name as “CO-AUTHOR”, to keep control of the bill.

Why would Miller do this? I believe it could only be because he didn’t want someone to claim he authored the $70 million tax increase since he has a Republican primary.

In fact, that’s what he said in his Sunday phone call. From 3:33 pm to 3:44 pm, he votes FOR HB 2359 once, twice votes against, and twice doesn’t vote, in the process of the bill becoming law.

It is irrefutable that Ken Miller authored this bill and it never could have passed without HIM moving the bill through. His vote against HIS OWN BILL was what? Clearly, just to protect his run for state treasurer.

His phone call-“never authored a TAX increase”-just a word game-it was a ‘revenue” increase, not a tax increase

His vote against HIS OWN BILL was what?

Clearly, just to protect his run for state treasurer. His phone call-“never authored a TAX increase”-just a word game-it was a ‘revenue” increase, not a tax increase, don’t ya see? I am sick of Republicans who play these games. I urge you to vote for Owen Laughlin.

Jack Dake, Jr.”

Here are the documents;

Oklahoma Officials Ignore Evidence of Tax Credit Heist

7/24/10

More info on the alleged tax credits fraud

The Gazette ran a story about the tax credits issue recently.

Nick Baker replies to the Gazette;

He says all the state officials quoted have been provided with evidence of fraudulent tax credit claims and false reporting by the OTA many times over the past 3 years.  Most officials, aside from a “handful of state representatives” have disregarded this information completely.  Baker says the most of the evidence can be found in state documents.

One example given by Baker is that Altus Ventures claims to have invested 221 milliion Quartz Mountain Aerospace in 2005 and another 221 million in 2006. In reality, says Baker, only 32 million was invested in 2005 but Altus Ventures still received 127 million in tax credits.

Baker says that when he notified state officials about this discrepancy, they simply ignored the issue and two years later when Altus Ventures failed for lack of funds, officials again ignored evidence presented them about the organization’s false claims.

July 31, 2009 the FDIC seized First State Altus Bank where 643 million in fake loans were covered and according to Baker it was these fake loans that were used to inflate the amount invested in Quartz Mountain Aerospace from 32 to 421 million!  Once again, when state officials were notified about this wrongdoing they chose to ignore it.

There is more but go read the article and the rest of Nick Baker’s reply to it yourself.

The validity of Nick Baker’s assertions can be easily confirmed.  His website is The Prowling Owl

Billion Dollar Budget Hole

Insurenet, Switzer and the Okla. Scamera deal-You don’t say. . .

Mike McCarville digs into this story and hangs on.

I think I like Mike!

The McCarville Report;

Meacham Confirms Highway Traffic ‘Spy’ Camera System Meeting With Barry Switzer; J. C. Watts Involved In Louisiana, Wayne Pettigrew Says

Governor Henry’s chief budget writer confirms to The McCarville Report Online that he met with former OU and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer as Switzer advocated one company’s plan for a system of controversial highway traffic “spy” cameras to nab insurance scofflaws that Switzer wanted Henry to include in his budget.

Nobody seems to know where that 95 million dollar number cited by the governor in the first budget go -round came from.   A vendor responding to the Dept. of Public Safety’s RFP asks about this;

  • Section E.7.6 In the Summary of The Executive Budget of the State of Oklahoma submitted to the Legislature by the Governor for FY 2011 on page A-5 accounts for $95,000,000 in new revenue from this what is the source and methodology giving integrity of that projection and is it available to all respondents of this RFP?

Answer:  DPS does not know where those figures came from.  Unknown

Really?

We don’t need a crystal ball to figure this one out.

InsureNet says;

“Vehicles from other States must also be insured and each State must act to determine status: InsureNet is the only way to do that.”

http://www.theinsurenet.com/faq.html

The system described in the Governors Budget proposal also touts the ‘out of state’ feature;

In the Governors FY 2011 Budget on pg A-5;

Compliance Initiatives
Automated Enforcement of Vehicle Insurance
The Governor’s budget proposes that the State of Oklahoma better protect Oklahomans from
uninsured motorists by increasing drivers’ compliance with compulsory vehicle insurance laws
through implementation of an automated enforcement system. An automated enforcement
system will increase the efficiency of the current Oklahoma law enforcement, enable equal
enforcement of in-state and out-of-state violators
and reduce costs to existing vehicle liability
policyholders. An automated system also eliminates insurance fraud by providing instant
insurance verification.
The automated system can be implemented at no cost to the state. It is estimated that the
state will collect $95 million in revenues from this program.

http://www.ok.gov/OSF/documents/bud11.pdf

I think it is safe to say to assume that InsureNet is the source of these facts and figures (ranging from 95 million, now pared down to 50 million)

[. . . Switzer says he is working on a contingency basis for InsureNet, the Chicago-based firm that has bid on the multi-million dollar Oklahoma contract.

Treasurer Scott Meacham, through Deputy Treasurer Tim Allen, told The McCarville Report Online that he met with Switzer. Said Allen: "Yes, he (Meacham) did meet several months ago with Coach Switzer."

Apparently Oklahoma law does not allow contingency payment plans for lobbyists.  Seems like Switzer would be aware of this.  Sure would be a shame if all of his hard work went unrewarded.

Henry's 'Not even involved'?
"Brad Henry is not even involved in this," Switzer told The Oklahoman's Randy Ellis despite the fact that the entire purpose of the Meacham meeting was for Switzer and others to advocate the InsureNet system to spot vehicle insurance scofflaws for inclusion in Henry's budget. It was included as a revenue measure by Henry after Meacham's meeting with Switzer; bids have been taken by the Department of Central Services but a contract has not yet been awarded.

What Switzer doesn’t say is that he hasn’t talked with Gov. Henry about Insurenet because there was no need to.  Scott Meacham, State Treasurer, is close enough.

 

What are you looking at?!

Insurenet is quick to say that it does not retain license plate data and this statement is supposed to alleviate privacy concerns.  Once again,it is  what they don’t say(to us) at this point that is most illuminating;

 

InsureNet’s producthas been accepted as “The National Law Enforcement Standard” by NLETS, (founded as the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System …. now the International Justice & Public Safety Network)

 

NLETS connects InsureNet to over 35,000 U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies and 1.2 million Officers. NLETS is the National Recovery System for the FBI which like InsureNet, is a Strategic Partner. Other NLETS Strategic Partners include U.S. Coast Guard, NCIS, CID, NCIC, NICB, and USDOJ. NLETS’ link to CPlC provides InsureNet with connectivity to all CanadianProvinces and the NLETS link to INTERPOL links this system around the world

I believe InsureNet when they say that THEY don’t retain the information.  Of course, they cannot speak for what any receivers of the data via NLETS does with the data that is transmitted.
Confusing Public Safety with profits is a dangerous game for the residents of this state and the fact that this system is being implemented quite openly as a budgetary fix should make the cud fall right out of our mouths.

Cash Cow

Why are we permitting public safety to be perverted this way?