According to Fundara.com fifty percent of small businesses survive less than five years. Hats off to folks who try. This shop on Ellis Boulevard did not last very long. The store name may have predicted the outcome.
Earlier this month, the Kansas City Star printed an article announcing the results of the Municipal Equality Index reflecting a score of zero for Jefferson City, but scores of 100 for Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis. The article itself was not entirely unbalanced, but the headline was very misleading. It shouted:
"THIS MISSOURI CITY IS ONE OF THE WORST FOR LGBT PEOPLE IN THE NATION, REPORT SAYS."
If you just read the headline and skimmed the story, you could jump to the conclusion that Jefferson City is hostile to its LGBT residents. I cannot say for sure whether my LGBTQ friends face hostile attitudes in Jefferson City, but I have never heard such a complaint. I could not understand how the scoring could be so drastically different for the three towns.
When I looked deeper I found that the headline was flat wrong. The study only examines municipal codes. A city gets a good score if there are specific laws and policies aimed at protecting and supporting it LGBT population. It does not even study whether the laws and policies are enforced, or how effective they are. In fact, if you will find this honest disclaimer:
"[The study] is not a ranking of the friendliest cities to live. It neither attempts to quantify how respectful cities enforce their laws, nor does it gauge the experience of an LGBTQ person interacting wth the police or city hall . . . The MEI specifically rates cities on their laws and policies; it is not a measure of an LGBTQ person's lived experience in that city." (page 39).
As I think this through, I'll bet that the low scoring cities tend to be cities where the prevailing attitude is that local government (and all other levels of government) should be limited in how much they attempt to control the lives of their citizens. I'll bet low scoring cities, in addition to not codifying LGBT protection, also tend to have less restrictive measures in other areas of governance such as code enforcement, environmental and historic preservation. I believe Jefferson City residents value those things, but they would rather that government not hold a gun to their heads. In fact, one could conclude that we don't have laws and policies protecting the LGBT population because we don't need them. Maybe our residents are welcoming and friendly to the extent that the LGBT population has not expressed the need for such measures. The study shows a heavy concentration of 100 scores in larger cities, where (I suggest) local government is prone to regulate everything aggressively because of the problems they face due to their size and complexity.
It's worth noting that several towns that seem pretty friendly and welcoming are in the "zero" club: Pierre, SD; Rapid City, SD; Myrtle Beach, SC; Bend,OR; Stillwater, OK. Cape Girardeau got a score of three.
I think the study does point out some interesting facts, and there are things we can learn from it. Maybe Jefferson City can look to laws and policies that seem to work elsewhere. Maybe we should head off problems before they arise. Maybe there is hostility that I'm not aware of. But I suspect (but of course do not know for sure) that our LGBT population gets along just fine with everyone else, and I do not feel the KC Star headline saying Jefferson City is "one of the worst for LGBT in the nation" was fair at all. In fact, it was misleading and it represents journalism far below the standard normally set by that newspaper.
So, walking our only grandchild, Colby, a precious little dog, and I noticed I had grabbed three comfortable things to wear (old tennis shoes, old slacks with cuffs - and DARK socks) and decided it was time to bring back High Street Beat.
There will still be some local events/issues and -- my passion, Apostrophe Patrol, but also some Second Half of Life stuff. More on that later. One hint: only when you're well in to the Second Half can you wear dark socks and tennis shoes and not really care! Hope you enjoy.
In the "chargeback" discussion (Parks and Rec compensating the JCMO General Fund for internal services like finances, legal and personnel) some are saying that Parks should be "treated the same" as other city departments. That quick response misses too many nuances. Even aside from what it means for kids.
Each fund/department has different economics and different purposes. Chargebacks for Parks was designed to chip in a little for administrative services and help with the general fund when parks received an independent revenue source via the dedicated sales tax. How much to charge is actually not very scientific, or at least no one should pretend so. It's more policy than math. It's like when we reduced the CIP level for parks from 20% to 10%. We tried to keep track of the goal -- to fund a great parks and recreation system endorsed by the voters -- while being fiscally responsible and broad minded about other needs. A couple of thoughts:
1. "Enterprise" Funds. The sewer and parking funds are not good comparisons since those are bonded endeavors, with the rates being set by the economics of bonds sold to investors. The administrative load in those funds was factored in and deducted from the amount of net revenue available to pay back the bonds. Those numbers were included in the public offering and are pretty much set in stone since they were part of the rate design approved by voters. While the chargebacks will certainly have some effect on parking and sewer services, the effects are long term and hard to predict. Day to day service is not impacted. You will only know what the effect is when, decades later, you learn that you have money for only two lift stations instead of three; or maybe you have only $3.5 million in the parking reserve fund instead of $3.8 million. Most people could care less. The toilets flush and the parking lots get new asphalt. Life goes on.
2. Other departments. The fallacy of treating all departments the same becomes apparent if the comparisons are complete. Parks derives a large part of its budget from user fees. If we truly want to "treat all departments the same," we would have "toll streets" and the fire and police departments would charge for each service call. Public works and Public Safety are (with some limited exceptions) completely subsidized with no user contributions. Citizens pay for these services through community taxes and not through user fees.
3. Economic Development. Refer to "Objective 6" of the most recent Economic Development Strategic Plan. Parks has a significant role in this thoughtful study. Money retained by Parks (and not seized through an increased chargeback) enhances Parks' capacity to implement these recommendations. Everybody talks about economic development but no one reads The Plan. Parks provides the infrastructure for the "regional sports tourism" that some now endorse. You cannot cut Parks' budget and at the same time talk about how important regional sports is for economic development.
4. Conclusion. Instead of the glib argument that parks should be "treated the same as all departments," the more appropriate analysis should be:
a. Does the city council believe the current level of Parks and Rec services being made available to the public is appropriate, or should it be reduced?
b. Does the city council believe that parks user fees are appropriate, or should they be increased?
c. Since increasing the chargeback will necessarily cause either (a) services to decrease or (b) user fees to increase, or both, what is the appropriate chargeback amount, taking all factors into consideration? The available funds are finite. The dollars have to come from somewhere.
d. What role does Parks play in economic development and are we ready to put money toward that effort?
e. There is nothing wrong with using a different formula for parks since it is unique in so many respects. Parks is different from enterprise funds like parking and sewer; and different from general fund departments like public safety and public works. It has economic development potential. Exercise good judgment and stewardship. Refrain from easy formulas.
Faced with challenges of succeeding at traditional economic development (aka bringing manufacturing to town) some leaders have pivoted to retail expansion is an acceptable Plan B. They should pause.
For decades we have rejected requests for abatements and subsidies for retail because in a finite market, a new retailer simply takes away market share from other retailers who have done business and paid taxes without a government handout.
There are nuances. We've done TTDs (Transportation Development Districts) for Kohl's and the East End Walmart because the sales taxes paid for critical infrastructure. Note how Sam's is now coming not based on incentives but because the guys in Bentonville did their homework and think they can make money without a handout.
"Economic Development" in our town has become such an overused term that it lacks much meaning. We should not water down the old phrase more to embrace a new Olive Garden -- although I like their salads.
We have to look no farther than the Strategic Plan created by the Chamber with help from TIP Strategies and lots of community input. It's been ignored because of the failure of the Transformation sales tax. The tax failed but the analysis is still right on. The question now is now to proceed.
And retail is not a valid substitute for real job growth.
UMC Law School professor Josh Hawley will be the guest speaker at a Lunch and Learn at noon on Monday. Hawley was part of the legal team representing Hobby Lobby recently at the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision could be announced any day. Hobby Lobby argued that some mandates within Obamacare are unconstituional under the First Amendment.
The presentation will be at the Cathoilc Chancery 2207 West Main (just behind St. Joseph's Cathedral).
Call me at 573-690-1915 to reserve a seat and a sandwich.
Remember candy cigarettes? Not sure whether the government told them to knock it off, or whether they eventually felt some heat from the public. Here's a new twist.
I like to make jerky, so this is personal. Jack Link's also makes jerky -- in larger quantities. And it's pretty good, as far as mass produced stuff goes. Well, the dipshits at Jack Link's found a way to promote their shredded beef jerky by usuing containers that are very similar to chewing tobacco. In fact, they call it "Jerky Chew."
It's pretty clear that smokeless tobacco leads to cancer and addiction. 25% of young users start by the 6th grade. Here's one study by the University of Minnessota. Everytime I see a teenager proudly supporting the telltale circle on his rear jean pocket I wonder about his situation forty years from now.
So the board of directors at Jack Link's took a nice, relatively healthy product that's efficiently produced and affordable, and merge their marketing strategy with . . . . a product that kills people.
The national version of this list, also announced recently by the National League of Cities, has additional, more social, concerns like "the shrinking middle class" and "the need for affordable housing."
But the one "concern" on the national list that did not make the state list is perhaps the the most critical:
"Lack of Public Trust."
Locally, in Jefferson City and Cole County, this phenomenon is an anchor that keeps us from making progress on a number of fronts: school improvements (both buildings and policies), transportation and infrastructure investments, and even the downtown conference center approved five years ago by voters. It's not helpful to attribute this mood to any particular group of persistently negative thinkers or any national or local media source. Nor can you cite any of our mostly volunteer leaders for making it more prevelant. Some of it has be taken in stride. America was founded on a healthy mistrust of government!
But it's time that we expect both citizens and leaders to talk often, openly and calmly about issues and viewpoints -- instead of just throwing stones or constantly ducking them.
You're not supposed to toot your own family's horn on a semi-public weblog, but today we will make an exception. In an announcement today the Vitae Foundation revealed the successor to my brother Carl, the fellow who organized the effort 25 years ago. I love the origins: a BBQ in Don and Ruth Ann Schnieders' back yard.
Vitae has taken a very contentious and emotional issue and approaches it from a personal perspective. It's all about options (aka "choice") -- letting the real decision makers (moms and dads, not just politicians) understand that there is a lot at stake and they can choose life if they want. The media messages are "in your heart' and not "in your face." They're on the Mizzou and Cardinals sports networks, and their presence has become international. Brought to you loud and clear from good old JCMO.
Carl will remain active at Vitae. Wife Carolyn will want him out of the house once in a while.
Best wishes, Carl. Your best efforts may still be coming! And Pat Castle sounds like a great choice to fill some shoes. Sounds like they'll be Adidas and not Florsheims.