Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Economy. Are YOU scared yet?

You should be.

In short time Congress will either approve or deny a bailout of toxic debt for Wall Street corporations which made risky and dreadfully wrong financial decisions.

The bailout apparently may extend to foreign banks, also.

With OUR tax dollars. Our AMERICAN tax dollars.

Corporations, just as with individuals, are not immune to at least one of the 7 deadly sins. Greed, they have publically found, is NOT good. But, have they learned anything?

Governments around the world, institutions thereof, or governmental leaders are also guilty of breaking at least one of the 10 Commandments; Thou Shalt Not Steal.

In a reversal of the tale of robber Robin Hood, United States economists are justifying a total of almost $1 trillion dollars from every single taxpayer in the United States to pay for financial mistakes not of our doing.

For months I've indicated on this blog, the worsening national economic situation, the falling asset values, the decline in the housing market, the loss of jobs (unemployment is near 7% currently), rising interest rates, rising home fuel and automobile fuel costs, the rising costs of necessities such as food, and so on. Now, we see the negative impact of the economic crisis by bank failures, a bank run on IndyMac, disappearing mega financial instituions, corporate auctions and mergers, by the negative impact on 401K's, retirement funds, credit availability, and finally, a historical, unprecedented, and controversial governmental bailout using billions upon billions upon billions of our tax monies.

On a national level, the worst, I believe, is yet to come.

Here in Phoenixville, we may see a local financial crisis first-hand. It will be many weeks until we learn the percentage of increase in our local taxes, and the indicators show we should be braced for double-digits.

I want to know if this Council is aware, awake, and cognizant of the fact that our country is teetering on the brink of an unknown financial future.

I want to know if this Council is doing everything it can possibly do to ensure the financial stability of our borough, and doing everything it can to hold down costs.

I want to know if this Council is learning anything by the example of the stated need for the Federal government's bailout program.

On September 23, 2009, Phoenixville Borough Council will once again address the CDC contract.


Set it aside.

We cannot afford a tax increase of $125,000 annually for professional services which were never intended to have been borne by the taxpayer to begin with.

Daily we are observing the national decline and instability of our economy, while the taxpayers are told they will subsidize the payment of enormous debt of those who made horrendous financial mistakes, while exercising incredible fiscal irresponsibility. The taxpayers do not want more of the same.

Council, Phoenixville's already over-burdened taxpayers need representatives who will avoid costly, unnecessary, and untimely mistakes.

Borrowing Councilmember Mike Handwerk's quotation in a manner geared TOWARDS Phoenixville taxpayers in this long-term economic crisis, “Managers think about today, leaders think about tomorrow”.

In the most conservative of terms for our financial future, tomorrow is fraught with pitfalls, it looks dangerous, and we have no idea as to how to gauge it's outcome.

Let us not jump into a pitfall so deep our residents can't get out.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to see the argument is again reduced to the CDC contract. I am in favor of most of the things we discuss but I am not in favor of constantly talking about the CDC. The idea that any arguments always involve the CDC tells me that there are other things we are not discussing that are more critical. When will there be anything else?

Anonymous said...

Well, we could talk about the monies the Borough spent on obtaining the ferris wheel, or design of a new Borough Hall or the monies the school board spent on land that's best used as a hazardous waste dump.

Anyone want to add to the list.

Karen said...

Council is scheduled to address the CDC contract on September 23, 2008, tomorrow.

If not now, when should the subject be discussed?

Expect more on this exorbiant expenditure and related issues as our annual budget is prepared.

Anonymous said...

Wonder what the CDC's viewpoint is on the latest? Is this how the CDC develops the Downtown?

Holy Ghost excommunicates woman
By G.E. LAWRENCE , The Phoenix correspondent

PHOENIXVILLE — The difficulty began on April 15.


It was on that evening that the proposal for an 81-unit, $10 million HUD-funded elderly housing project at Bridge and Starr Streets was presented to Borough Council from Father James Evans and the Church Housing Corporation of Phoenixville.

The proposal was predicated on the sale of just under two acres of the 22 on which is situated Holy Ghost Church and its Social Center.

The evening of April 15 was also when some members of Holy Ghost Church got themselves in trouble. Not with public authorities, but with spiritual ones. Because they opposed the sale, and said so to Council.

They had said so in a congregational meeting on March 30, though by a 43-38 majority vote of the 226-member congregation the sale was approved.

But they said so also in Council chambers April 15. Helen Langner said so. Susan Flavin, then a member of the parish Board, said so. Joan Detweiler, another Board member, said so. They also raised questions about that the circumstances under which the congregational vote had been taken.

They all said so with such effect that Evans, who had earlier been relying on "[the church's] congregational method, their system… which is that the majority makes the decision," withdrew the proposal from Council's consideration. "I simply do not want to be a part of contributing to that kind of division of a church's life in this way," he said.

But the project went back on the table the following week. "The leadership of the Church said to me that my decision had not respected the strong support of the majority in that vote," Evans reported later, in an interview July 31. The proposed sale would move ahead.

That had no bearing, however, on what happened to those in Holy Ghost Church who opposed the sale and were present at Council's April 15 meeting.

They received on May 13 a letter from Metropolitan Nicholas, head of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A., Holy Ghost's ruling judicatory.

"The issue involves your participation in a recent session of Phoenixville Borough Council, the Metropolitan wrote, "[where] your dissenting opinion brought an internal church matter with which you disagree into the public eye. At the very least, this provided an unfavorable, unnecessary image of internal dissent to the community….

"This posturing to reverse a [church] decision is unacceptable," read the letter. "For these reasons, this Office takes offense at your activity… [I]f this type of activity continues, further action may be necessary."

In May, Board member Flavin had been suspended. In June, two other Board members had resigned. Another resigned in August.

On June 10, an agreement of sale was signed by both Holy Ghost Church and the Church Housing Corporation for $500,000, according to a Church summary of events. The Church intends to use the proceeds to build a new Social Center, a facility included on Evans's project sketch plan.

But there was a hitch: the Holy Ghost American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church of the Eastern Rite, as a legal entity, may not hold title to the property its Board wants to sell. It was a separate legal entity, The Saint Nicholas Brotherhood of Phoenixville, that purchased the property from members of the Reeves family for $31,500 on December 7, 1938, according to the property deed. The Brotherhood then leased the property to the Church.

The Church's constitution and by-laws indicate that "[a]ll real property of the parish, including the Church proper, house, lots and other real estate is the property of the St. Nicholas Brotherhood…. All properties are listed and registered in the name of St. Nicholas Brotherhood and administered by the Church Board…."

The Brotherhood, however, again according to the constitution and by-laws, "is comprised of the members in good standing" of the Church.

So the Church Board, representing one legal entity, filed suit August 9 against the Brotherhood as another. In PA Civil Action No. 08-08049, the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County has been asked to declare that the Church "be authorized and empowered by the Court to be the only entity to act on behalf of the St. Nicholas Brotherhood."

Reached for comment last week, Holy Ghost pastor Very Reverend Protopresbyter John Fedornock responded, "I have nothing to say. I can't give out information. The judge has not set up a hearing date. Everything [on the project] is at a complete standstill."

"I am unable to say anything," said Diocesan Chancellor Very Rev. Protopresbyter Frank P. Miloro, on Friday, from his offices in Johnstown. "This is a matter internal to the parish, and it would be inappropriate for me to make any statement."

But also last week, what "further action" the Metropolitan might take was made clear to Nancy Dempsey. She is a member of the parish who was present at that April 15 meeting, though she did not speak.

By letter of September 3, Dempsey was excommunicated. Fedornock read out the letter to the Holy Ghost congregation, absent Dempsey, at worship yesterday.

"You have been identified … as a participant in a dissenting group…waging a malicious campaign of lies and innuendos," read the letter. "You have refused conformity to the discipline of the Church" and "organized a society which is plotting against [it]."

"Others who have been involved in disruptive activities with you," the Metropolitan concluded, "must desist immediately. Should they not, a like pronouncement will be made against them."

Dempsey can no longer receive sacraments at Holy Ghost Church, nor receive a church burial. "I don't know how I can be punished so severely," she said Sunday. "I've just been trying to honor the founders' lease, and preserve the property."

Anonymous said...

A less belligerent, uncooperative, mean-spirited, tactless grant writer as CDC director would eliminate almost all CDC controversy. The money is a smokescreen to remove an individual's extreme approach. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

wonder how much Mayor Palin paid her Lobbyist that brought 20 million plus to the little town of wasilla, ak

by the way how much did BC bring to town vs BC, and who got paid more, let alone got paid?

Anonymous said...

I am stunned to read the article posted here by Skip on Holy Ghost Church. This woman was actually excommunicated? How utterly bizarre. I am sure there are many churches out there willing to accept her, but after this who would ever want to belong to one again? Weird.

Anonymous said...

This is just more doom and gloom. Listen, times are tough and people will adjust. Just like they always have in the past. Its gonna be a tough winter but we'll get through it and the sun will shine again tomorrow. So if you ask me if I'm scared? I say, hell no! If I have to I'll get a second job or whatever it takes. But to sit here and talk about how scared were gonna be because our bills are gonna be high this winter is simply fear mongering. What is there to talk about? Your fuel bills are gonna be high - that's it! There's nothing to talk about. Just go out and do what you have to do to pay your bills. There's no other choice. Blogging about it will just get you higher blood pressure readings. Find your "chee"

Anonymous said...

>>>There's nothing to talk about. Just go out and do what you have to do to pay your bills<<<

HECK YEAH!!!! This is exactly what BC is doing, LOL! Who wants high energy bills AND no job this January?

Karen said...

Anonymous 10:28, we will be addressing other items in due time.

I'll keep your suggestions in mind.


Karen said...

Anonymous 10:44, I have evey intention of creating another thread on the subject of the Phoenix newspaper article.

Thank you for posting.

Karen said...

Anonymous 11:50, in this blog from the time of the local council campaigns, I believe, is the fact that I asked Council, during my tenure, to consider hiring an employee for the purpose of grant writing and to help the borough manager administrate them.

This was circa late 1990's.

I believe the salary at the time for such a person was starting in the high $20's or low 30's for a clerk with some experience.

There is absolutely no reason why Council cannot choose to write and process the grants internally.

Karen said...

Anonymous 2:44, I applaud your positive mind-set, and your determination.

The addition of more taxes due to Council approval of the $625,000 CDC contract, a move, by-the-way which is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests, is a further hardship on the Phoenixville residents who are already experiencing the burden of higher costs across the board.

My contention remains the same.

Council needs to slash and burn all obviously expendable budget items to hold the costs of the 2009 budget to a bare minimum.

This economic crisis grows more worrisome every day.

Anonymous said...

I disagree Karen. Your idea of "slash and burn" just instills more fear and sets our economy up for further decline. The American people still make up the majority of our economic status (that is fact). So if public figures install a slash and burn mentality you are guaranteeing new age depression. I don't subscribe to that mentality and sure wouldn't ever post it. I like your cautionary tone but as an ex-council member I feel it is slightly reckless for you to spread a message of fear. A cautionary tone with a positive outlook would seem to be a much more responsible message to your followers.

Karen said...

Anonymous 10:24, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

After the extraordinary events on the national financial scene of the last few months I believe we need to be very concerned about our personal finances as well as those of our government on all levels rather than be caught unawares.

Red lining budget items which are disposable in today's economy is not only prudent, it's a must!

Faulty judgement, risky business practices, and the underlying greed of Wall Street corporations will affect each of us whether a bailout is in place or not.

Our taxes will be used in an attempt to clean up the mess, but the landscape of our economic system has been changed forever.

I hope we have seen the worst, Anonymous, but if the best finanical minds in our country don't know exactly what is to come, how can we?

Anonymous said...

You're right Karen, we don't know what is to come in the future, so all we have to draw from is the past. And in the past during any economic crisis (and there have been many) the American people have shown their resilience. So although I am cautious and dismayed, I am also optimistic about what is ahead.