Roosting Chickens

As far back as December of 2009, I started warning the North Miami Beach City Council and then City Manager, Kelvin Baker, that the economy was on the verge of collapsing.  I sent them an article in Business Week dated December 29, 2009, “Weak economy, high unemployment South Fla.’s top story” (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9CSDI6O0.htm). This article bluntly stated, “Florida’s unemployment rate hit 11.5 percent in November, the highest since 1975, with more than a million people out of work. That’s up from 8.6 percent in January and from 3.3 percent in 2006. Over the past year, Florida has lost 284,800 jobs, with construction job losses leading all other industries with 73,300 fewer jobs.  The state also has the second-highest foreclosure rate — one out of every 165 homes was in some stage of foreclosure last month, according to RealtyTrac Inc. Only Nevada’s rate was worse. Housing prices had dropped almost 7 percent in October over the same month last year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.”

Not surprisingly, the Council never even acknowledged my letter.

Of course, I was not alone.  Several years before that plenty of citizen activists, the ones ridiculed by council members as the “Same Ten People,” a/k/a STPs, were demanding fiscal accountability and responsibility of a largely deaf government body.

Since that time, I’ve sent numerous letters to the Council, sarcastically referring to myself as Chicken Little, advising them that “It’s The Economy, Stupid!”  On March 2, 2010, I sent the City Manager the following email:

“Dear Mr. Baker,
I came across this column that should be a must read by every American, especially elected officials and those who work for the government.  I hope you will take the time to read it and follow its advice.  I am also going to copy the mayor and council, even though I already know most of them will ignore me as they usually do.  Either way, if they ignore the truth it will be to their own peril.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.
Stephanie Kienzle
http://townhall.com/columnists/JohnHawkins/2010/03/02/5_ugly_truths_americans_will_have_to_face?page=full
5 Ugly Truths Americans Will Have to Face
John Hawkins
Tuesday, March 02, 2010″

An excerpt from this column states,4) Economic growth is going to stagnate. The bigger the government grows and the more it borrows, the less virile the economy becomes. We’ve seen this in Western Europe where policies — of the sort the Obama Administration is now pursuing — have led to the kind of perpetual sluggish growth and jobless rates we associate with economic downturns in this country. As the Congressional Budget Office has said:

Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress economic growth in the United States. Over time, accumulating debt would cause substantial harm to the economy.

Less growth means less jobs, less prosperity, and handing future generations of Americans a country that doesn’t hold as much promise as the one that we grew up in.”

Guess what?  I never received a response.

On July 7, 2010, I sent the Council and Manager an article from U.S. News entitled, “Housing Market Stumbles, Construction Slows, Inventories Build Amid Weak Job Growth, Tax Credit End” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704723604575379463676740680.html?mod=WSJ_article_MoreIn_Economy).  Taken by complete surprise (as if no one in Washington were paying attention either, the article quoted, “It’s the magnitude that’s been the issue,” says Douglas Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The drop-off in activity has surpassed expectations.”  If the so-called “financial experts” in the Federal government were clueless, I guess I was being too hard on our local idiots in charge.

On August 9, 2010, the Rasmussen Consumer Index and the Investor Index reported that, “Consumer Confidence Hits its Lowest Level of the Year” (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index), stating, “Among investors, 8% give the economy a good or excellent rating; 55% rate the economy poorly. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say the economy is getting better while 49% say it is getting worse.”

Of course, I sent this to the Council.  Of course, I was ignored.

Undeterred from my mission to knock sense into the talking heads at City Hall, I sent the following email to all on August 12, 2010:

“Dear Mayor, Council and Manager,
Lest you think I am nothing more than an Evil Republican “Chicken Little,” constantly squawking about ending the deficit spending, here is an article that was posted only a couple of hours ago on www.money.cnn.com (hardly a “conservative” news organization).  All of you need to pay attention to the fact that we are on the verge of an economic tsunami, the likes of which NONE of us have ever seen.  Continuing to borrow and/or tax our way out of debt will not work.  Holding out your hands for so-called federal “stimulus” money is also not the answer because, as you can see, the federal government is about to go broke.  There is no money tree to solve your budget problems!
The only way to dig North Miami Beach out of a hole is to cut salaries and benefits, stop deferring unfunded or underfunded pensions, and put a complete halt to ALL WASTEFUL SPENDING.
All the advice that the NMB Civic Association has been giving to the Council to trim the budget have fallen on deaf ears.  I, too, was one of their biggest critics until I finally realized that they were right!  Other voting taxpayers are also starting to get it.  Eventually we all have to get our heads out of the sand.
You all need to wake up to the reality that we are in the midst of a deep recession, and most likely headed for a depression.  You need to prepare and pass a budget that reflects the dismal economic times we are facing.  Pare it to the bone!  Cut the bull and start running this city with fiscal prudence and accountability.
Stephanie

http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/11/news/economy/economic_collapse_GDP_unemployment.fortune/index.htm
Is this finally the economic collapse?
By Keith R. McCullough, contributorAugust 11, 2010: 2:07 PM EST”

I also highlighted this quote from the column:  “There will be a downward bias to our US growth estimates as long as debt-financed-deficit-spending continues to be the solution politicians and central bankers turn to as a fix to our financial crisis.”

Guess what? I was ignored!  Surprise, surprise, surprise!

On August 24, 2010, I sent yet another email to the Council and Manager with the subject, “More bad news from your resident Chicken Little,” stating:

“But, don’t take my word for it.  Believe The Wall Street Journal!  Read it and weep.  Then slash the budget!
Stephanie

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703447004575449352676306326.html?mod=djemalertNEWS

The Wall Street Journal

  • ECONOMY
  • AUGUST 24, 2010, 1:06 P.M. ET

Existing-Home Sales Plunged in July

By MEENA THIRUVENGADAM And SARAH N. LYNCH

Existing-home sales plunged to their lowest level in 15 years in July as inventories soared, painting a grim picture for the housing market absent government support.”

Again, no response.

Moving right along…

On August 27, 2010, I sent them another email with the subject heading, “Breaking News:  One more warning to stop the spending!”  I wrote:

“This story was just posted at about 6:30 this morning.  By the time the federal government gets around to confirming that the economy has taken a nosedive, you can bet it’s already crashed.  I’m not sure what’s taking you guys so long to cut all the fat out of the budget, but this is a hell of a lot more important than stirring up the non-existent “racism” pot.  The City Manager needs to stop the whining, roll his sleeves up and get serious about saving our city from financial disaster.

Stephanie “Chicken Little” Kienzle

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100827/ap_on_bi_go_ec_fi/us_economy

Snapshot of economy about to get a lot bleaker

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber, Ap Economics Writer 17 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The government is about to confirm what many people have felt for some time: The economy barely has a pulse.”

BUT, WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

On October 12, 2010, I sent the following email to fellow citizen activists, bypassing the Council altogether:

“Click on the link, too, so you can watch the video.  Can somebody please send this to the council?  I’m sure they will ignore it if I send it.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/39626759

US Cities Face Half a Trillion Dollars of Pension Deficits

TAX, POLITICS, PENSION, DEFICIT, ECONOMY, POLITICS
Financial Times
| 12 Oct 2010 | 05:32 AM ET

Big US cities could be squeezed by unfunded public pensions as they and counties face a $574 billion funding gap, a study to be released on Tuesday shows.”

BUT, WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

Deciding yet again to try my hand at getting through to the numbskulls on the City Council, on January 17, 2011, I sent the following email to them:

“In case you haven’t been paying attention, I strongly urge you to read this column.  The residents, whom some of you contemptuously refer to as the STP (Same Ten People), have been warning you for years that eventually the city will go bankrupt.  We are not making this up!  The American people are expecting the belt to tighten, and the residents of North Miami Beach are, too.

Stephanie

http://townhall.com/columnists/LuritaDoan/2011/01/17/next_on_the_gop_agenda–dealing_with_bankrupt_cities_and_states/page/full/

Next on The GOP Agenda–Dealing With Bankrupt Cities and States

By Lurita Doan

1/17/2001

Hoping against hope to get their attention, I even emboldened an excerpt from the column,Municipalities rely heavily on property and sales taxes to operate. But, with the currently high unemployment, with the housing market under water and the number of foreclosures continuing to grow, the sources municipal revenue are shrinking while spending continues to grow. Some municipalities and states have conjured up innovative smoke and mirrors strategies to disguise the budget gap by borrowing more and shifting costs forward to disguise the problems from voters. But even the best of jugglers can keep only so many balls in the air simultaneously without crashing.”

In what seems to have been a last ditch effort to get the Council to wake the hell up, on February 8, 2011, I sent the following email to them:

“Dear mayor and council,
I’m sure most of you aren’t paying attention to this, but you should be.  If you think you’ll be able to keep going to the state or the federal governments with your hands out, think again.  It’s really time for a reality check.
Stephanie

http://townhall.com/columnists/calthomas/2011/02/08/chicken_little_and_the_debt_ceiling/page/full/February 8, 2011

Chicken Little and the Debt Ceiling
By Cal Thomas
2/8/2011″

This is a quote from the column, “Continuing America’s borrowing and spending addiction will have even greater catastrophic consequences, but people in government don’t think this way. For them, all government spending is good spending and any attempt to begin the arduous process of restoring fiscal responsibility is viewed by those with vested interests as greedy, selfish and unsympathetic toward the needs of others. Perhaps advocates of unlimited spending might tell us how much is enough if they can’t live on $14.3 trillion?”

By this time, the North Miami Beach City Council election was starting to heat up and I figured with a lame duck Council, it was high time to stop banging my head against a wall and put all my efforts into getting a real Mayor elected, and ousting some of the dead wood.  As you know, we now have a fiscally conservative Mayor in George Vallejo, who has been paying attention all along.  We also have at least four council members who get it and we will hopefully have the votes to start making some real reform before we go bankrupt.  We are nearly out of time, but if the City can make the necessary cuts and prepare and pass a fiscally responsible budget for the first time in years, there just might be a light at the end of this tunnel.

There is no way to get around to fixing this mess without pain, but it is a necessary surgery.  This problem has been a long time coming, but until now it has been completely ignored by our local government.  It gives me no satisfaction whatsoever to tell you that Chicken Little and her Fellow Cluckers have come home to roost.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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