Tag Archives: incentives

Gov. Fallin and Steve McKeever’s Drone Questing Collaboration

fallin red queen

Kaye Beach

March 27, 2012

Interesting article published today by FastCompany;

Inside Oklahoma’s Quest To Dominate The American Drone Industry

How politicians, universities, and aerospace firms are teaming up to turn the Sooner State into America’s UAV capital.

. . .Oklahoma businesspeople, academics, and politicians are collaborating through an organization named USA-OK, which aims to make the heartland state the focal point of American UAV development. A quasi-affiliated group, the Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (PDF), was formed via an executive order from Governor Mary Fallin in 2011. Both organizations are lobbying for commercial drone test sites in Oklahoma and increased government assistance [that means your tax dollars!] in luring more large military contractors to the state.

Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Science and Technology and a prominent figure in the state’s UAV industry, told Fast Company that Oklahoma is already home to approximately 15 companies servicing the UAV industry. . . According to McKeever, the state offers a variety of incentives and subsidies for aerospace companies of all sizes.

McKeever and Fallin are busy luring this industry to Oklahoma meanwhile Mckeever and Fallin killed HB 1556 which would have simply required law enforcement to get a warrant before engaging in targeted surveillance of individuals and prohibit weaponization of the drones.

. . .Last month, the FAA announced that they are seeking six domestic test sites for UAVs. Due to the obvious commercial possibilities in, say, selling small aircraft for $1,000 a pop to farmers and real estate agencies looking to do aerial monitoring on a budget, UAVs are potential huge business. Giants such as Boeing and hundreds of smaller companies see commercial UAV usage as a gold rush waiting to happen.

State authorities inside Oklahoma issued a strategic drone plan detailing ways to build up the local UAV industry. These plans center on bringing one of the domestic UAV test sites to Oklahoma, which already tests military UAVs. . .

The FastCompany article mentions the Oklahoma UAS [DRONE] Summit held this Tuesday in Norman, but like the media in general, provides little detail on the conference.  (No mention of ‘Pesky Critters’ at all.)

This week, a major UAV convention took place in Oklahoma as well. . . .The agenda includes discussions of UAV use by emergency first responders, the Homeland Security Department’s proposed domestic spy drones. . .

Drone manufacturers even have lobbyists. [You don't say!]  . . .Michael Toscano, the organization’s president, advocates the integration of commercial drones into American airspace. Toscano, in an interview, stressed job creation possibilities if the FAA legalizes commercial drones.

AUVSI spent big dollars in lobbying on the FAA bill that expanded the use of drones in US airspace.  Their money was well spent too.

As a PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by Republic Report shows, the industry group all but wrote the legislation. “Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word,” it says. Read More

Mr. Toscano wasalso  right by Gov. Fallin’s and Stephen McKeever’s side on Jan 17th at a press conference held at the State Capitol in order to unveil the marvelous benefits of drone technology that is being cultivated with our tax dollars.

Interestingly, Toscano thinks that there is no need for addition privacy regulation.

Toscano says the drone industry thinks existing laws are sufficient: ”We believe that your Fourth  Amendment rights are protected.

Well that figures since legislation like Oklahoma’s HB 1556 might interfere with what Toscano sees as an open market.

Toscano. . .says there are nearly 19,000 law enforcement entities in the United States, of which only 300 now have aerial surveillance capacities.

“Those departments have helicopters which cost about $1,500 an hour to operate,” Toscano says. “You can fly these drones for maybe less than $50 hour. A lot of smaller departments can now afford this technology.” read more

Fallin_UAS_0

At the Jan. 17th press conference, McKeever said;

 “We fully recognize that reasonable people could have reasonable concerns and these must be dealt with that’s what our elected officials and government authorities are for.”

Fallin added that;

“We’re not interested in spying on anyone.”

Mary Fallin isn’t counting the little people.  Maybe she doesn’t consider what we would consider spying as spying.  Maybe she just thinks of as over sight.

Did you know that ‘OverSite’  is actually another great surveillance technology program  being promoted out of OSU’s Multispectral Laboratories and tested on unsuspecting Oklahomans at sporting events. 

‘To look at their RV parked at a game or concert, you’d never know that inside is all this technology and more’ link

umlThe Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories (UML) is a public-private partnership “between the University and Anchor Dynamics Inc (ADI), which receives support from Ponca City Development Authority and ConocoPhillips, designed to accelerate commercialization of new technologies.”  http://www.okstate-uml.org/content/company-history

The UML acts as a “Trusted Agent” for U.S. Government, technology developers and operators.

Naturally, like the non-spying drones,  this is being done with a little boost from the non-spying Department of Homeland Security

The proof of concept demonstration was funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Link

OverSite incorporates facial recognition technology and a trick camera to spy on the crowd without them ever knowing a thing.  (but it’s not spying! It’s ‘OverSite’!) Read more 

And with all of the time, energy and money that has been spent, not one thing has been done to address the biggest concern of ordinary Oklahomans which is their privacy and safety.  It is the ordinary people of this state, after all,  who are paying for the ‘incentives’ being offered to court the drone industry here.

Little people, little problems.  We have our nightmares and they have their dreams. . .

Stephen McKeever, a transplanted Brit living in Oklahoma, dreams of turning his state into the capital for drones — the unmanned aircraft that, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts, will swarm the skies by the thousands within two decades. Read more

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

Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights

Kaye Beach

Dec 28, 2010

Surfing the ‘Net’ tonight, this article caught my eye.

Conservation Easements (CEs)*:Read the fine print before you sign

The fact that it caught my eye is solely due to the fact that I have been doing some “green reading” trying to get a handle on the array of sustainability policies making their presence known in our cities across the state of Oklahoma.

Conservation Easements are a featured topic of a report originating from Edmond Oklahoma that I read and posted about here recently.

Green Infrastructure Initiative Report to Stakeholders

City of Edmond and Edmond Land Conservancy
Facilitated Meetings Summary

According to the Edmond  report the ” Top Priorities for the Green Infrastructure Initiative” are:

  • Conserve forest lands in Edmond through a combination of regulations and incentives.
  • Educate landowners and promote use of conservation easements through educational materials and ongoing public awareness efforts.
  • Preserve floodplain and watershed lands through acquisition of conservation easements or, when necessary, whole properties.

The PPJ Gazette posts this warning to landowners about “conservation easements”;

”A normal easement by a landowner usually grants a right to someone to do something on the landowner’s property; but a conservation easement gives away the landowner’s rights to do something on his or her own property.

Land trusts and environmental groups regularly use conservation easements to take control of private property.”

A basic Constitutional tenet of private property ownership in America is the landowner’s right to determine the use and disposition of his or her land.   This ownership gives the property owner the right to occupy, use, lease, sell, develop, and deny public access to his or her land.   Today, landowners can lose these rights simply by signing a ‘standard’ or ‘model’ conservation easement (CE) offered by ‘nonprofit-environmental-friendly’ land trusts, NGO environmental organizations, or government agencies unless the easement has been worded to protect the landowner’s rights.

According to the PPJ’s post, “Land trusts exist to remove private property from production”

As the article recommends, check the wording on these easements to make sure that your property rights as a landowner are protected.

The informative posting goes on to explain how this works and what purpose it serves.  Highly recommended reading for land owners and especially perspective land owners.  

Read more

Another great article about conservation easements;

Make an Informed Decision about Conservation Easements

Liberty Matters | Dan Byfield | December 2, 2010 -

If you’ve ever considered placing a conservation easement on your property, make sure you understand everything you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Conservation easements are not an easement in the traditional sense.  Rather, they are better thought of as servitudes, restrictive covenants, or negative restrictions that run in perpetuity with the land.  There are only two entities that can legally hold them – non-profit land trusts and government agencies, which in most instances ought to raise red flags immediately.

Even the trusted Natural Resource Conservation Service is offering them in perpetuity or for lesser term of years, but be sure to find out from the IRS how much of a deduction, if any, you can claim for terms lesser than perpetuity.  The primary purpose of conservation easements is to tie up private property forever and it wasn’t until recently that lesser terms came into play.

Proponents of conservation easements like to say they are “voluntary agreements.” That is true, but once signed, they are nothing of the sort.  But, everyone recognizes that it is strictly the right and choice of the individual landowner to place a conservation easement on their land.

To make an informed decision about conservation easements, landowners need all the facts.

Read More

Oklahoma Conservation Easement Enabling Statutes

From the Oklahoma Bar Association 2000;

Description of Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a non-possessory interest in real property created through a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a qualified entity chosen by the landowner to “hold” or enforce the easement. The easement then imposes upon the parties and their successors use restrictions or affirmative obligations to protect some aspect of the property which has conservation or preservation value.

The Act permits the parties to agree upon the term of the easement.8 However, in order for the owner to receive federal tax benefits, the easement must be perpetual.9 Most conservation and historic preservation groups will accept only perpetual easements.10 For these reasons, conservation easements are typically perpetual.

Easement Incentive Cosponsors in the 111th Congress

An amazing 267 Representatives from all 50 states — including majorities of both parties — have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1831!  Senate legislation, S. 812, now has 41 co-sponsors. Scroll down below to see if your Senators and Representatives have signed-on in the new congress.

Nothin’ says lovin’ like money from the government

From The Red Dirt Report

By Ted H. Smith

Red Dirt Report, contributing writer

Posted: October 19, 2010

NORMAN, Okla. — Anyone who read the October 7 edition of The Oklahoman business  section and was not outraged by wasteful state government spending was not comprehending the duplicity of the story reported under the headline” Companies to Add 180 Jobs Using Incentive Program” .

To summarize the report by Susan Simpson, Business Writer, two companies, Biotec  Fuel and Chemicals of Guymon and Mertz Manufacturing of Ponca City plan to hire a total of 180 employees under the state Quality Jobs program. This means the the two companies will receive from the tax payers of Oklahoma about $2.2 million dollars over the next ten years. The story implies that the hiring was influenced by the Quality Jobs  Program. However, both companies said that the hiring was a result of increased demand  for their products.

The last two paragraphs of the article put the icing on the cake. The article concludes  with the information that Shawnee manufacturing company Eaton Corp, which the  reporter noted is “ not a Quality Jobs enrollee has hired 100 workers and plans to hire  another 50. This employer will get no state money and these employees will not cost Oklahoma tax payers millions of dollars over the next ten years.

Read More