Archive for December, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

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Hey, What Did We Forget? Oh Yeah, the Brakes!

I highly doubt it’s in many cars, but how do you build a car and blow past this dur­ing the assem­bly line process?

Gen­eral Motors Co. said on Fri­day that it is recall­ing more than 4,000 of its 2012 Chevro­let Sonic sub­com­pact cars to check for miss­ing brake pads.
The pos­si­bil­ity that some Son­ics could be miss­ing an inner or outer brake pad was dis­cov­ered dur­ing war­ranty ser­vice for a rental vehi­cle cus­tomer. GM said the prob­lem “is expected to exist in very few cars,” and there are no known crashes or injuries related to the issue. A miss­ing pad could require longer stop­ping dis­tance, and con­tribute to a crash.
The recall involves 4,296 of GM’s 2012 Son­ics sold in the U.S. The affected mod­els are from the Orion Town­ship, Mich., assem­bly plant, where the Sonic is built for sale in the U.S. and Canada.

Deal­ers will inspect the front brakes for miss­ing inner or outer pads and, if a pad is miss­ing, install new pads. If needed, a new brake caliper or brake rotor, or both, will also be installed. Affected cus­tomers will receive dealer let­ters begin­ning Jan. 14.

The Sonic is the new name for Chevy’s Aveo. It’s pretty much a let’s change the name on a car no one likes and hope no one notices job.

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Kiel Taxpayers See Benefits of Walker Reforms

Caught this when I was home over Christmas.

Tax­pay­ers receiv­ing their annual prop­erty tax bills are likely to view this year’s tally as an early Christ­mas present.

Kiel tax­pay­ers will see a reduc­tion in prop­erty tax rates this year, the amount depend­ing on which side of the county line they own prop­erty on.

In Calumet County, Kiel prop­erty tax­pay­ers will see their rate drop by 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. On the Man­i­towoc County side of the line, the prop­erty tax rates will drop by 55 cents per $1,000.

Trans­lated into over­all dol­lars, the owner of a $100,000 prop­erty will pay $60 less in prop­erty taxes in the Calumet County por­tion of the city, while those in Man­i­towoc County will see a drop of $55.

Most size­able among the reduc­tions are the drop­ping tax rates for the school dis­trict and the coun­ties.
Tax rates for the Kiel area schools fell by 42 cents per $1,000 in Calumet County and 35 cents per $1,000 in Man­i­towoc County. Calumet County’s por­tion of the tax rate dropped by 13 cents per thou­sand, while Man­i­towoc County’s rate fell by 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

CALUMET CTY. 2011 2012
State .19 .18
County 5.20 5.07
Pub­lic School 10.88 10.46
Voca­tional 1.74 1.68
City 4.53 4.51
Gross rate 22.54 21.91
Tax credit –1.53 –1.52
Net tax rate 21.01 20.39

MANITOWOC CTY. 2011 2012
State .19 .18
County 5.94 5.79
Pub­lic School 10.89 10.54
Voca­tional 1.74 1.70
City 4.55 4.54
Gross rate 23.32 22.77
Tax credit –1.11 –1.11
Net tax rate 22.21 21.66

One hopes some­one, some­where is keep­ing track of what the prop­erty tax bills are across the state as they begin to be reported.

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I’m Smelling a Primary

Only ques­tion now is, will the lib­eral blogs do all they can to try to pre­vent it, or will they embrace it?  (Who am I kid­ding on the lat­ter ques­tion there, hon­estly?)  After all, the long knives are already out for Tim Cullen of Janesville; how long before they turn course and plunge them into the Mil­wau­kee mayor?

(Just to give a hint to Jeff and Steve over at Blog­ging Blue — That knife thing, that’s hyper­bole and a metaphor up there.)

Or bet­ter yet, will the unions do all they can behind the blow up all can­di­dates not named Kath­leen Falk by the time papers to get on the bal­lot begin to be circulated.

By my cal­en­dar, that should be around late March or early April.  All depends on how long the chal­lenges to the recall peti­tion sig­na­tures last — for both Gov­er­nor and State Sen­ate nat­u­rally.  After last round of recalls, one gets the feel­ing GAB is going to try to avoid headaches and try to have all recall elec­tions on the same day.

Or pri­mary as it were…

The gam­bit by two large Wis­con­sin unions to force Mil­wau­kee Mayor Tom Bar­rett out of a pos­si­ble recall elec­tion appears to have backfired.

Two sources close to the Demo­c­ra­tic mayor said this week that Bar­rett now is “seri­ously con­sid­er­ing” run­ning in a poten­tial recall elec­tion of Gov. Scott Walker and will make an announce­ment in early January.

Both sources empha­sized that Bar­rett has not yet made a final decision.

But nearly every­thing else they said sug­gested the mayor will seek a rematch with Walker.

The pair of Bar­rett sources said he might jump in even if the lead­ers of the Wis­con­sin Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Coun­cil and the Wis­con­sin State Employ­ees Union put up another Demo­c­ra­tic can­di­date. The unions are said to be sup­port­ing for­mer Dane County Exec­u­tive Kath­leen Falk.

We don’t want a pri­mary, but we’re not intim­i­dated by it,” said one of the sources close to Barrett. “Tom’s deci­sion will not be influ­enced by that. He’s not run­ning to be gov­er­nor of WEAC or AFSCME.”

What­ever.  The real­ity is who­ever is the Demo­c­rat picked to run, they will be the gov­er­nor of WEAC or AFSCME because it will be WEAC and AFSCME pay­ing the bills.

And then it will be WEAC and AFSCME demand­ing how things get done.   Just like they were when Doyle was Governor.

Come March or April, the scream­ing you’ll be hear­ing from Democ­rats will not be “RECALL WALKER!”  It will be “WERE STUCK WITH THEM?!?”

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Read of the Day

Great edi­to­r­ial in today’s Wall Street Jour­nal on why the Jus­tice Depart­ment is prob­a­bly going to lose for their inter­fer­ence in rul­ing the South Car­olina Voter ID is com­pletely polit­i­cal for the Obama White House, and has noth­ing to do with the actual law they say they’re defending.

Eric Holder must be amazed that Pres­i­dent Obama was elected and he could become Attor­ney Gen­eral. That’s a fair infer­ence after the Attor­ney Gen­eral last Fri­day blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds that it would hurt minori­ties. What a polit­i­cal abuse of law.

In a let­ter to South Carolina’s gov­ern­ment, Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­eral for Civil Rights Thomas Perez called the state law—which would require vot­ers to present one of five forms of photo ID at the polls—a vio­la­tion of Sec­tion 5 of the 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act. Over­all, he noted, 8.4% of the state’s reg­is­tered white vot­ers lack photo ID, com­pared to 10% of non­white voters.

This is the yawn­ing chasm the Jus­tice Depart­ment is now using to jus­tify the unprece­dented fed­eral intru­sion into state elec­tion law, and the first denial of a “pre-clearance” Vot­ing Rights request since 1994.

The 1965 Vot­ing Rights Act was cre­ated to com­bat the sys­tem­atic dis­en­fran­chise­ment of minori­ties, espe­cially in South­ern states with a his­tory of dis­crim­i­na­tion. But the Jus­tice posi­tion is a lead zep­pelin, con­tra­dict­ing both the Supreme Court and the Department’s own prece­dent. In 2005, Jus­tice approved a Geor­gia law with the same pro­vi­sions and pro­tec­tions of the one Mr. Holder nixed for South Car­olina. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in Craw­ford v. Mar­ion County Elec­tion Board that an Indi­ana law requir­ing photo ID did not present an undue bur­den on voters.

A sec­ond case offers a fur­ther glimpse into the High Court’s per­spec­tive on the mod­ern use of Sec­tion 5. In 2009’s North­west Austin Munic­i­pal Util­ity Dis­trict v. Holder, the Court declined to decide the ques­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of Sec­tion 5, writ­ing that while it imposes “sub­stan­tial fed­er­al­ism costs,” the “impor­tance of the ques­tion does not jus­tify our rush­ing to decide it.” But the Jus­tices didn’t stop there.

They also cast real doubt on the long-term via­bil­ity of the law, not­ing in an 8–1 deci­sion by Chief Jus­tice John Roberts that it “imposes cur­rent bur­dens and must be jus­ti­fied by cur­rent needs.” That such strong crit­i­cism was signed by even the Court’s lib­er­als should con­cern Mr. Holder, who may even­tu­ally have to defend his South Car­olina smack­down in court.

South Car­olina Gov­er­nor Nikki Haley tells us she “will absolutely sue” Jus­tice over its denial of her state’s law and that chal­lenge will go directly to fed­eral dis­trict court in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. From there it may be appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which would have to con­sider whether South Car­olina can be blocked from imple­ment­ing a law iden­ti­cal to the one the High Court approved for Indi­ana, sim­ply because South Car­olina is a “cov­ered” juris­dic­tion under the Vot­ing Rights Act.

In such a sce­nario, Mr. Holder’s tac­tics could well doom Sec­tion 5 itself. That’s a big gam­ble for the sake of try­ing to stir up election-year minor­ity voter turnout.

Civil-rights groups claim this Jus­tice offen­sive is needed to coun­ter­act a vot­ing envi­ron­ment in which lit­tle has changed since Jim Crow. But South Carolina’s law, like Indiana’s and Georgia’s, explic­itly addresses poten­tial dis­en­fran­chise­ment by offer­ing state-issued IDs free of charge. When civil-rights groups fret­ted about the abil­ity of minor­ity vot­ers to get to the local Depart­ment of Motor Vehi­cles to pick up a free state-issued ID card, Gov­er­nor Haley cre­ated an 800 num­ber to offer free rides to any­one who couldn’t afford the trans­porta­tion. About 30 peo­ple called.

In Octo­ber, the South Car­olina Depart­ment of Elec­tions reported that some 240,000 state vot­ers lacked ID cards. The DMV now says more than 200,000 of those had allowed their IDs to expire, lived in other states or were dead.

The Vot­ing Rights Act was once needed to coun­ter­act the gap between black and white voter reg­is­tra­tion. By 2009 the gap had nar­rowed to a few per­cent­age points in some cov­ered states while blacks out-registered whites in oth­ers. Yet Jus­tice retains a fed­eral veto on election-law changes no mat­ter how innocu­ous or racially neu­tral. Sec­tion 5 has become a vehi­cle not to pur­sue equal access to the polls but to play the gross­est kind of racial politics.

As African-American men at the most exalted reaches of gov­ern­ment, Messrs. Obama and Holder are a tes­ta­ment to how much racial progress the coun­try has made. It’s a shame to see them pre­tend­ing lit­tle has changed so they can scare up some votes.

Can’t wait to read the briefs from Jus­tice explain­ing their actions.

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Cartoon of the Day

Given the amount of data out there, and how there’s now a much bet­ter hel­met on the mar­ket to pre­vent con­cus­sions, I don’t see how the NFL legally wins this one.

The league is pro­tect­ing an exclu­sive con­tract with Rid­dell, not its players.

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D.C. Finds Cost of Fighting for Gun Control at Cool Million

Hope it was money well spent. It’s not like it could have gone to help­ing the poor and less for­tu­nate in one of the nation’s worst areas for income inequality.

The Dis­trict of Colum­bia has been ordered to pay more than $1 mil­lion in attor­neys’ fees as a result of a his­toric gun case that was ulti­mately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dick Heller sued the city in 2003 over its ban on hand­gun own­er­ship and the U.S. Supreme Court over­turned the ban in June 2008, say­ing it vio­lated the Sec­ond Amendment.

A fed­eral judge on Thurs­day issued an opin­ion award­ing Heller’s attor­neys $1,137,072.27 in fees and expenses.

The attor­neys had argued they should be awarded $3.1 mil­lion. Attor­neys for the city said the fig­ure should be closer to $840,000.

Dis­trict of Colum­bia Attor­ney Gen­eral Irvin B. Nathan, the head of the office that rep­re­sents the city in legal mat­ters, said in a state­ment that Heller’s lawyers had requested an “out­landish fee.”

Nathan praised the U.S. Dis­trict Judge Emmet Sullivan’s deci­sion not to accept the full hourly rate the attor­neys had requested or the full num­ber of hours they had billed for.

Since the 2008 land­mark rul­ing by the Supreme Court, D.C. has re-wrote its gun own­er­ship laws to allow peo­ple to finally have a gun for per­sonal pro­tec­tion.  How­ever, the city has set up a num­ber of restric­tions to make buy­ing a gun almost nearly impossible.

Heller has sued the city again over that.  His case is pend­ing in fed­eral court.

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IPO">Facebook Readies Insanely Large IPO

The real ques­tion of course is, after the ini­tial influx of cash to “The Zuck,” is will they prof­itable and make money for future investors.  No doubt nearly every sin­gle Face­book employee will be mul­ti­mil­lion­aires on paper after the IPO (if they have stock options), one won­ders if they’ll still be mul­ti­mil­lion­aires in a few years’ time when they can finally cash them out.

Face­book Inc. and Yelp Inc. are set to lead the biggest year for U.S. ini­tial pub­lic offer­ings by Inter­net com­pa­nies since 1999, test­ing demand for IPOs after investors lost money on Zynga Inc. and Pan­dora Media Inc.

With Face­book con­sid­er­ing the largest Inter­net IPO on record and reg­u­la­tory fil­ings show­ing that at least 14 other Web-related com­pa­nies are plan­ning sales, the indus­try may raise $11 bil­lion next year, accord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. That would be the most since $18.5 bil­lion of IPOs in 1999, just before the dot-com bub­ble burst.

While surg­ing sales growth may lure investors to Face­book, the biggest social-networking site, height­ened stock volatil­ity and Europe’s sovereign-debt cri­sis could tem­per the pace of global IPOs after a 38 per­cent decline in 2011. Even Inter­net com­pa­nies may cut val­u­a­tions for their offer­ings after Zynga, the largest devel­oper of games for Face­book, and online-radio com­pany Pan­dora slumped fol­low­ing share sales this year, accord­ing to researcher Morn­ingstar Inc.

Tech­nol­ogy is still a place where you can get out­per­for­mance in terms of growth against a tepid mar­ket back­drop,” said David Erick­son, New York-based global co-head of equity cap­i­tal mar­kets at Bar­clays Plc. “You might see more IPOs emerge if we get res­o­lu­tion in Europe or sta­bil­ity that makes investors more com­fort­able with the over­all market.”

Zynga (makes of Far­mville and other annoy­ing games), which has its finan­cial well-being tied to Face­book through its games, has lost money and value since it went pub­lic.  Ear­lier this month, it was reported they’ve lost over a bil­lion dol­lars in value since it went public.

Zynga now trades around $9.30 or so a share.  A price which is pretty much a steal for a tech­nol­ogy com­pany.  Few ana­lysts how­ever see it going any higher than that price in the com­ing months.

Many investors were burned in the first tech bub­ble of the late 90s when Dot.com com­pany CEOs were mak­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists look like fools.  Com­pa­nies like Face­book and other social net­work firms may look like crown jew­els right now — and at their IPOs — but no one knows what the future is going to bring, or what might replace Face­book in the com­ing years.

As for over­all sta­bil­ity in the markets…one won­ders if that is even pos­si­ble in 2012 and beyond.

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PAC Bolts for Romney">Bachman Super PAC Bolts for Romney

Frankly, if this woman moves past Iowa and into New Hamp­shire, I’ll be shocked.

After los­ing her polit­i­cal direc­tor last night to the Ron Paul cam­paign, a “Super PAC” which was sup­port­ing her has appar­ently bolted as well to sup­port for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts Gov­er­nor Mitt Romney.

A polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee which had planned to sup­port Michele Bachmann’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign has very qui­etly defected to Mitt Rom­ney — and it’s spend­ing big on his behalf.

Cit­i­zens for a Work­ing Amer­ica, the so-called Super PAC which aired TV ads against a Demo­c­ra­tic con­gres­sional can­di­date last year, had indi­cated ear­lier this year that it was back­ing the Min­nesota con­gress­woman in the GOP nom­i­nat­ing con­test. But the group instead made a $475,000 Iowa ad buy on Christ­mas Eve in sup­port of Rom­ney, accord­ing to Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion data pub­lished today.

The so-called inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture was listed as sup­port­ing Romney’s can­di­dacy, and an Iowa polit­i­cal oper­a­tive who has seen the ad con­firmed to The Daily that it’s a 30-second pos­i­tive spot about the for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts gov­er­nor that doesn’t men­tion any other candidate.

Three polit­i­cal insid­ers asso­ci­ated with the Super PAC did not imme­di­ately return calls and emails seek­ing com­ment. But it’s just the lat­est indi­ca­tion of how far Bachmann’s cam­paign has fallen since quickly peak­ing with an Ames Straw Poll win in August. And less than a week before the Iowa cau­cuses, it will help fur­ther posi­tion Rom­ney for what’s increas­ingly shap­ing up to be a sur­prise win.

Hon­estly, I have no real horse in the race for Iowa and the rest of the GOP nom­i­na­tion.  My guy was Indi­ana Gov­er­nor Mitch Daniels, but that didn’t hap­pen.  All I know at the moment is Tues­day is going to be more inter­est­ing than it prob­a­bly should be, that Iowa still holds way too much power in our decision-making for Pres­i­dents, and a lot of blog­gers and pun­dits I call friends and admire are mak­ing a com­plete and utter fools of them­selves lead­ing up to the Iowa caucuses.

*sigh*

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Cartoon of the Day

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