Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tax Revenues, Fayetteville and Rogers

They aren’t exactly dancing in the streets, but you could hear the City of Fayetteville breath again.
Fayetteville saw its sales tax revenue increase by 3. 8 percent in October, while its neighbors saw declines of 6-8 percent. “In the city of Fayetteville (sales ) were up a pretty good clip,” said Paul Becker, the city's finance director.

Sam’s Club and the Razorback Cinema openings sure did help. While it's great to see the tax revenue up, the City shouldn't expect that same percentage increase over the months. I’m sure a lot of people came to Sam’s just to check it out when it opened. I'll bet that the next months revenue will be a bit smaller. Just like Rogers did this month.
Rogers took in $ 912, 583 in sales-tax revenue in October, according to Treasurer Jerry Hudlow, 6 percent less than $ 971, 998 in October 2006.

The Pinnacle Hills Promenade opened up in October 2006. It was brand new so everyone went there to check it out. You looked, shopped and ate out. Time has passed and it’s just another shopping center. I wonder how many people like me think it’s a crappy place to shop and prefer the mall in Fayetteville.
I did find it interesting that there are some people who are happy that Roger’s revenue is down. Check out these comments posted here.
Earl Swagger
Or, hell....I could be wrong about all this. It could be that the sales taxes are down because people around Rogers are sick of their high-handed, holier than thou BS and figured out their money goes farther in Washington County. Either way, avoiding Rogers is always a good idea.
durango kid
No cookie-cutter big-box Red Lobster knock-off disguised as a high-caliber establishment and brimming with the folks Boss Womack calls "friend" would ever be a good enough reason to visit Rogers. For one, it's way too close to 6 Flags over Jesus for my comfort. The right reverend's helicopter might crash into the restaurant, you know.
The only reason I even go through the place is b/c Rogers managed to capture land on both sides of the freeway, so I am forced to if I wanna get to Mizzou for my lottery tickets and Sunday booze. Why couldn't they just stay on the east side of 540? I'd much rather claim I was in Bentonville, despite my lukewarm feelings for Wal-Mart.

Yeah, that's it! Don't shop in Rogers because its full of Christians and Republicans. We sure don't want them to be successful. Bankrupt the city, that'll show those Christians and Republicans.
You just wonder why people of the other political party are so mean and nasty? Are their lives so pathetic that they want others to suffer?

Tax Stories here and here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Cats Christmas

The cats got a bunch of toys and treats for Christmas. I swear I'm going to be walking on a whole bunch of plastic balls. I wonder how long it'll be before I break them all. Tigger immediately got the biggest mouse and proceeded to whoomp it. (I don't know the term for the cat using its hind legs to shred up a stuffed toy.)

More cats at Friday Ark. I wonder what they got for Christmas?

Changing the Bus Ride

Man, I am so jealous! I wish I had been able to surf the Internet and work on school work while I was riding the bus.
"I’ve been riding the bus since I was in kindergarten, up to one-and-a-half hours each way," (Ethan) Clement said. "Until this program, I never really thought about it. It was the daily routine.
" But we were wasting time sitting here. This could be an opportunity for everyone. Why waste your time on the bus, looking out on the same road you’ve looked out at every day ?" Like Clement, Zack Wilson, a 10 th-grader, is taking online Advanced Placement biology.

I can so identify with the guys. I hated having to spend 2 hrs a day on the awful bus. I hope that more buses get equipped with the Internet so kids that have to ride long distances don't have to just waste their time.

Benazir Bhutto, Return to Reality

You must admire her determination to bring democracy to Pakistan, but her murder was a horrible action of inevitability. I watched her with fascination wondering when the terrorists would finally get her. This is not some extraordinary event in the Middle East. This is how militant Islamists operate. One suicide bomber eliminates all your opponents.
I wonder if this is going to have any effect on the primaries. Heck, for the past month the Republicans have been comparing who's the best Christian candidate. Is this going to wake them up concerning the challenges, threats and dangers the U.S. faces in regards to radical Islam? What about the possibility of a nuclear Pakistan taken over by Islamofascists? It's time for candidates to drop the frivolity of the past weeks and return to reality.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hillary, If I Win

Some politicians will promise just about anything.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says voters are sure to see one immediate benefit if she is voted president: a drop in oil prices.

Next, she'll start feeding the world with just five loaves of bread and two fishes.

Christian Social Conservatives, Losing the Big Picture

Gov. Mike Huckabee is not the first politician to invoke their faith in American politics and certainly will not be the last. To some, the profession of a politician's faith can be reassuring but there is also a danger. Religion can be a problem when it becomes the sole issue in a political campaign. Huckabee's supporters back him because he's an Evangelical pastor who has come out strongly against gay marriage and abortion. But they are losing sight of the big picture of the Republican Party, all of whose principles are vitally important for this nation. I'm really concerned about Christian conservatives willingness to turn a blind eye to Huckabee's decidedly Democrat liberal stances. David Sander comments
Conversely, the temptation by some in the religious right to simply project personal religious convictions onto all policy matters can have the undesired effect of undermining the very conservatism they claim to advance. Some Christian conservatives argue "What would Jesus do?" a justification for lurching leftward on issues like the environment, immigration and foreign trade.

I think gay marriage and abortion are important issues, but they come in second. I'm more concerned with the War on Terrorism, taxes, immigration, congressional pork, U.S. sovereignty and stopping the Democrat's desire for a nanny nation. I'm voting for true Republican conservatism not a social liberal pastor. I can get that from church.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Jazz Great Oscar Peterson

A truly great jazz pianist has passed away. I discovered Oscar Peterson through Stan Getz. Strange, I have yet to purchase any of his own CD's. All that I got from him is the stuff he's played with other great Jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
It doesn't get much better than this. Enjoy!


Wal-Mart Shopper

And you thought you had a long Christmas shopping list.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Parties, Hot & Spicy Pecans

Oh Boy! I'm glad it's almost Christmas. I can't take much more of these parties. I'm getting exhausted. I can't look at any more cookies and cakes. I believe we have had holiday food at work every day this week. Good Lord, I must have gained 5 lbs alone this week. This is one of my favorite Christmas recipes. I bring it to work every year. People just gobble this up, it's quite addictive.

Hot & Spicy Toasted Pecans

2 Cups Pecans
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1½ Tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ Tsp red pepper (cayenne)
¼ Tsp Salt (Kosher)

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast nuts for 20 minutes, stir edges to keep from burning. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix sugar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt. Remove nuts from oven and immediately add to spice mixture. Mix well and spread in a single layer, let cool.

Casey, A Good Boy

I've been a good boy! Did you got me that big bone? Seriously, I've been a very good boy! I mean, the holes in the yard aren't that big. That doll, well, that was your fault. You shouldn't have left it on the floor. Can I still have it? Because I've been a mostly good boy.

More dogs at Canine Carnival

Christmas Stocking

Heh, Heh! We found the stocking! You shouldn't expect to hide a stocking that has catnip toys in it.

More cats at Friday Ark

Fayetteville's Water & Sewer Hikes

You'd think it would be fairly simple. You pay for what you use. Hey, hold on there! The low-income customers believe they should get a rate break because they are poor and can't afford an "everyone pays for what they use". The big industrial business' think they deserve a rate reduction because the increased costs they'd face could affect jobs at those industries (just a little blackmail). The rest of us in middle are getting a little miffed because we can see the writing on the wall. We are the ones that are going to be subsidizing both of these customers.
I think it's time that big companies start paying for the costs they incur. Small businessmen don't get these breaks why should they? As for the low-income, why force people to pay their bills? Why not make it voluntary? People can round up their bill and that extra money goes to the low income customer.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, Too Dangerous for the Home?

The new energy legislation will effectively ban incandescent light bulbs. The light bulb provision phases out the traditional 100 watt bulbs by gradually increasing efficiency requirements through 2020. However, there is a major flaw in the compact fluorescent bulbs.
Mercury, a toxic metal famously found in thermometers, helps create the increased efficiency of a CFL bulb. If the bulb breaks, the small amount of mercury can contaminate the area.

The mercury is considered a hazardous material and the EPA has a list of instructions on how to dispose of it. You just can't pick up the pieces and throw them in the trash.
Have everyone else leave the area; don't let anyone walk through the mercury on their way out. Make sure all pets are removed from the area. Open all windows and doors to the outside; shut all doors to other parts of the house.

Boy, doesn't that make you feel safe. It just makes you want to go out and buy them.
Remember to keep the area well ventilated to the outside (i.e., windows open and fans in exterior windows running) for at least 24 hours after your successful cleanup.

Just make sure you don't break one of these in the winter.
If a spill occurs on carpet, curtains, upholstery or other absorbent surfaces, these contaminated items should be thrown away in accordance with the disposal means outlined below. Only cut and remove the affected portion of the contaminated carpet for disposal.

So, how much money are you going to save if you have to replace your carpet. That $5 per month savings suddenly doesn't look all that hot.

I have replace some of the bulbs in my house with the fluorescent bulbs and as soon as they die I will be going back to the old bulbs. They don't light a room as well as the old 100 watt bulbs and they fit in the light fixtures poorly. I'm going to be stocking up on those 100 watt bulbs.

Just a thought. You are forced to buy the bulbs and when they break can you sue the manufacturer for clean up costs? Can your home be declared as a toxic site?


Fayetteville Budget, Done

Well, the city council passed a budget, without all the anticipated layoffs, salary reductions and loss of the lights and concerts. All those boo-hoo stories that were printed in the newspapers instigated by Mayor Coody. Lord, you thought that things were going to collapse at the city because the council didn't pass the tax hike. Of course, many things did get funded but not at the levels they were previously.
The council renewed funding to a host of programs, including a $62,500 commitment to the Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club and $30,000 in Parks Department funds for the annual Lights of the Ozarks event.

I think city needs to concentrate first on keeping the core services such as police and fire protected. While it's nice the city does provide free entertainment and recreational opportunities, I think the city needs to start relying more on individual and corporate sponsorship.
Alderwoman Shirley Lucas stressed that she would like for the city to wean itself from funding Lights of the Ozarks. Council members said finding private donors to help with popular city projects should be a priority, given the lean financial times.

I think the city should have an adopt-an-event day. Maybe at one of the spring Farmer's Market have people pledge to support a particular project.
(Greg)Tabor noted the dog’s food and veterinary bills were covered by a donation from a veterinarian, leaving about $9,000 to cover vehicle costs
People are already doing it. And yes, I'd even sponsor a portable toilet for the concerts. After all, many people have said that I am full of "it".
The concerts require renting sound equipment and portable toilets, she noted. Those costs are difficult to convince donors to support, (Connie) Edmonston said. "Nobody wants to sponsor a porta potty," (Brenda) Thiel laughed. "I wonder why."


Monday, December 17, 2007

Pump It!

More good news (or bad, if you're a Democrat) from Iraq.
Iraqi oil production is above the levels seen before the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Lights of the Ozarks, A Community Opportunity

The other cities in NW Arkansas must be laughing at Fayetteville.
Springdale show at Murphy Park, where there are 20 static displays and 187 decorated trees. The Public Works Department budgets $ 25, 000 for the annual display.
Bentonville, which like Fayetteville boasts a traditional town square, doesn’t have a budget for Christmas lights. Instead, its downtown lights are paid for through private sponsors. Employees in the Bentonville Parks Department hang and dismantle the lights, but they aren’t paid extra to do so.
Main Street Rogers, a branch of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, handles the city’s annual downtown display through donations. The Rogers Street Department provides the labor needed to hang the lights. "There is no large contributor to the lights display," said Marge Wolf, president of Main Street Rogers. "It’s a community effort. As the money comes in, we spend it. There is no strict budget for lights."

Fayetteville is spending $93,884 for the lights and the other cities are paying far less for their displays. Fayetteville needs to follow the example of Rogers and Bentonville. If the Lights of the Ozarks are so important to the business community and the general public, they should be willing to donate some money to it. Actually, I like what Marge Wolf said. As people from the public donate they would own a part of the display and they become part of a community. As they would walk among the lights they would think "I made this happen."
Instead of crying over the city threatening to cut the Lights from the budget, the citizens of Fayetteville need to recognize that this is an opportunity to shine. A tradition needn't die because people can step up and keep it going.


Cutting Food With a Knife

She’s carniverous and armed, a real threat. Good thing she wasn't found to be in the possession of a peanut. Really, they should just start feeding students from bottles.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Responsible Home Ownership

I guess it must happen once in a blue moon. I actually liked an editorial article. It did a really good job in describing the subprime problem and who's responsible for it.
It’s the same problem at the root of every burst bubble: consumersturned-speculators who overestimated their future earnings, underestimated their risks, and got caught in the gap. With the help of too-eager lenders. Lots of us, it seems, figured this was one more sure thing we could take advantage of. And lots of us were wrong.

It was pretty weak at suggestions on what to do about it. Although, there probably isn't much that can be done. The best idea I've heard is for borrowers to work with their lenders. I'm pretty sure lenders are more than willing to modify mortgages. They have a lot to lose too. One thing we don't want is for the government to step in. Once the government starts messing around with things is starts causing more problems.
It's time that people be held responsible for their own bad decisions and not expect the government to bail them out every time they screw up.

The Democrat Fights

When the Democrats won last year I though for sure that America was going to get royally screwed. I thought the Democrats would make life hell for President Bush. Now, I'm really enjoying myself. The Washington Post on the Democrat fights.
In the past few weeks, the House has thrown wave after wave of legislation at the Senate -- on energy, Iraq war policy, the housing and mortgage crisis, and middle-income tax cuts offset largely by tax increases on the wealthy. Most of it has died quietly, a predetermined fate that both sides could foresee before the first vote was cast.
Officially, House Democrats blame Senate Republicans, who have used parliamentary tactics to block even uncontroversial measures. But they are increasingly expressing public frustration with Reid and Senate Democrats for not putting up a better fight.

The fighting we're seeing is between the Democrats. This is just so delicious. You just have to sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Tigger, Santa Kitty

Do you know how hard it is to get a cat to wear a Santa hat? Of course, what cat wants to be seen wearing the hat. Totally embarrassing! Tigger looks more like the Grinch than he does Santa. I have no doubt he'll get back at me. He's probably contemplating putting a dead mouse in my stocking.

More Merry cats at Friday Ark

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Acambaro Restaurants Want to Keep Cooking

The owners of the Acambaro restaurants want re-open. They have a slight problems though.
"We have enough people, but we can’t [access ] our money," Morales said. "They froze our bank accounts, and my grandfather and I are meeting with an attorney, trying to get the restaurants back open." Temple Black, a spokesman for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said prosecutors seized more than $ 100, 000 from 15 bank accounts in connection with the raid at Acambaro eateries in Lowell, Bentonville, Springdale and Fayetteville, and at a related Benton County business, Garcia’s Food Distributors Inc.

I can see that being quite a problem, especially since it appears that the Government intends to keep it. I just wonder if it would be worth it to re-open. Are people going to want to visit a restaurant that has exploited their workers while living the high life themselves?

Full Story

Pope Benedict Attacks Global Warming Prophets

Pope Benedict has chided the global warming fanatics. He suggested that the world destruction fears the global warmists are peddling are nothing more than an effort to scare people into given up money, safety, comfort and freedom.
The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.

Hurray for the Pope! He's asking for people to return to the good old rules of the scientific method.
It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.

The real scientists need to step up. Those that will objectively review the data, try to reproduce it and challenge any theory or data that fails peer review. The scientific community has allowed politicians and con artists to hijack the way the scientific community should work.
The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.

I'm pretty sure this will shock the environmentalist wackos who consider man to be a disease that needs to be eliminated. The Pope represented the Christian view. The earth and all that is in and on it were given to man to use. God expected man to govern it and use it well. The Pope is asking us to remember that God expects us to be good stewards of what he has given us.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Add Another Place Setting

I got an early Christmas present from one of my bosses. When I came back from Thanksgiving this cook book was on my desk. This was produced by the Junior League of NW Arkansas. It is recipes from the members of the League. Proceeds from the sale of the book goes to support the projects and programs of the League.

The photography of the book is really gorgeous and the colors they use to indicate each food section are colorful and bold. It makes it easy to find a particularly recipe section just looking at the side of the book. The recipes are ones that you would actually fix and eat at your house, nothing ultra fancy or exotic. These are recipes you could find in other cook books but these are the favorites of Junior League members. I found one of my favorite holiday treats, Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans. I bring this in to work every Christmas. Scatter in among all the recipes are favorites of some of NW Arkansas' famous residents. Johnelle Hunt's Glazed Apple Pie, Bernice Jone's Chocolate Cherry Cake, Helen Walton's Potato Casserole, the Tyson Family Southern Fried Chicken to name a few. Here and there are little bits of history, descriptions of our favorite places and pieces of decorating advice.

I highly recommend getting this book. It's for those who would like a good solid cook book and for those interested in the history and personalities of NW Arkansas. Of course the added benefit is the money from the sale of the book will be going right back to NW Arkansas charities.

Cold, Rainy Days

These are the type of days you just want to sit inside and read. Since I now got the books I ordered from Amazon that's possible, if I weren't so dang busy. I'm glad I didn't pay the shipping charges that Amazon had ask for to guarantee Christmas delivery. I wonder if they deliberately tried to blackmail me or was it just covering their butts.

NW Arkansas Restaurants Raided By ICE

I see that my favorite Mexican restaurant has been raided by Immigration.
According to U.S. Attorney Robert C. Balfe, the Immigration Criminal Apprehension Taskforce executed search warrants Monday at Acambaro restaurants in Bentonville, Lowell, Rogers and Springdale.

Not that I'm particularly surprised. We've often wondered how many of the people working there were illegal. It's a bit obvious when you can't speak English.
Immigration officials also arrested four operators of the restaurants: 35-year-old Arturo Reyes Jr., 36-year-old Silvia Reyes, 33-year-old Lucila Huaracha and 33-year-old Armando Reyes.

I wonder how ICE was tipped that they were illegal. The most important question is, are the restaurants going to be closed or open tomorrow?

Apparently there are more serious charges than just being illegal.
Further, they "conducted or attempted to conduct such financial transactions to purchase the real properties ... which involved a specified unlawful activity."
Documents further indicate that the unlawful activity included identity theft, possession and use of counterfeit identity documents, employment eligibility verification fraud and money laundering.

Some of that was using Social Security numbers. I wonder how many people have had their identity stolen are now trying to resolve the damage to their credit. I seriously need to consider using a credit monitoring company. It's a pity that people now have to pay to protect their financial records.
In addition to the financial transactions, "the Acambaro Mexican Restaurant owners and operators are believed to be utilizing the labor of illegal aliens to increase their profit margin in order to maintain their current lavish lifestyles," Cottrell's affidavit states.

Slave labor. I wonder if they feel that it's all worth it now that they are facing jail and losing their businesses.

Full Story

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Morning Sunshine

The morning temperatures have been dropping to freezing. Winter is definitely here. Eli and Tigger are soaking up the sunshine. They kind of blend in with the dead leaves and grass. I'm taking this picture just inside the door. Brrr, too cold to step outside.

More cats at Friday Ark

Dale Clark Day

Today was declared Dale Clark Day by Mayor Dan Coody. He was honored for over 30 years of service in the city of Fayetteville. He was the first director the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Division as well as the first director of the Fayetteville Youth Center. People meet at the Boys and Girls Club where a few people reminisced about his work. I imagine he must have quite a few stories to tell. We also sang "Happy Birthday" to him. Yeah, they choose to honor him on his birthday. The halls of the Boys and Girls club had kids running around with Dale Clark t-shirts.

The city also named the park next to the Boys and Girls Club after Dale. I must say this is one of the nicest park signs I seen. The park is mostly the playing fields but it does have a nice walking trail around it.

Animal Cruelty

When is Arkansas going to get it's act together and get some stiffer fines and sentences for animal cruelty? Now, I'm not talking about hunting or farming. Killing and cleaning wild game is a large part of many people's life. I'm talking about the shooting a large dog, skinning it and hanging it upside-down in the yard of a Huntsville teacher. A horrendous act committed with malice and just to terrify another person. I'm glad that the Humane Society
is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of people connected with the dog killing.

Whoever did this is a really, really sick person.


Restaurants Gone From Dickson Street

Another restaurant has left Dickson Street in Fayetteville. Gloria Jean's Coffees and Haagen-Dazs that waere in the Frisco railroad depot are done. They join a number of restaurants, (Frudruckers, Charlies, Smokey Bones) that have not done well enough to stay in Fayetteville. Most have said that they closed down because planned developments weren't being built fast enough to bring in people to the stores. Greg House of Houses Inc., one of the partners in the depot appears to be blaming some one else
House said he is interested in watching The Lofts at Underwood Plaza, which is a nine-story building being constructed next to George's Majestic Lounge. That project, as well as the Legacy Building behind Jose's, will eventually fill up and perhaps a new presidential administration will make a difference in the market as people will be more hopeful once they elect "Hillary or Barack," he said.

Yup, it's all Bush's fault! Dang, how does Bush do it? All those restaurants and businesses that have closed over the years and he did it. I bet a hundred years from now when something goes wrong people will still be blaming Bush.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

"So Whatcha Gonna Do?"

I had an absolutely wonderful time last night at the Veterans Forever Gala presented by the Arkansas Chapter of the Armed Forces Foundation. The Foundation has gotten off to a good start of many more events in which to raise money for military families. The event was well attended. Rep John Boozeman, Sen Dave Bisbee, Mayor Steve Womack and JP Butch Pond were in attendance. All veterans who attended were recognized and honored.

Steve Mankin, father of Aaron Mankin, told his son's story and how people stepped up to help. He said that through the whole process God was asking him "Whatcha Gonna Do?" and now he asks us "What are we going to do"? As I listened to Steve as realized just how much pain and anguish the families of wounded soldiers go through too. This Foundation is very much needed to support the families just as much as the soldiers need medical care.

Our special guest Eric Egland flight was canceled so Stephen Gray stepped up and described what Eric was doing. Twila Paris ended the evening singing several of her songs. Twila is one of my favorite singers so meeting her was one the highlights of the evening for me.