Universal Health Care – one more time

I’ve mentioned universal health care at least a few times before, most recently in a post about Socialized Medicine. In the last few days I caught a bit of a Democratic presidential debate where universal health care was discussed in some detail. I also have read a bit about the plan put forward by Hillary Clinton, as well as Mitt Romney’s proposal.

Here’s what seems to be happening now. Universal health care proposals are no longer universal. In the latest proposals you can choose to stay on your employer’s plan. Others will be covered by the government (mainly the poor and the elderly). And some will be required to buy health insurance, though I don’t understand how this will be enforced, and suspect it won’t be.

I’m guessing that many employers would see this approach and gut their health plans as much as possible. As long as you have coverage for something, then you are in and they can escape by saying they do provide health care. Sure your co-pay is now $100 and your deductible is $5,000, but you’re covered so it’s all hunky dory now.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my government cheese.

Debunking Mike Ricard & Dave Bosworth

We got the new issue of Our Towne the other day. On page 7 there’s a full-page ad for Dave Bosworth and Mike Ricard. It’s a bunch of half-truths and I’ll break down the details below.

Claim: Decreased Town Tax 8% since year 2000
Truth: Town spending is up 70%. Where did this money come from? One thing you can be sure of is that it didn’t come from nowhere. Of course it came from taxes.
The half-truth is that the property tax rate is lower. However, since the town did a revaluation in 2005, the total property value is up dramatically, and total property taxes are also up. And in their time at least two significant parcels of land have been taken off the tax rolls — Western Turnpike Golf Course and DiCaprio Park – shifting more of the tax burden onto homeowners.

Claim: Established sound fiscal management and budget practices
Truth: This claim cannot be verified because the town hides its budget information. You do have to wonder where the additional 70% in spending has gone, since public services have not improved much, if at all (see below).

Claim: Secured over 1 million dollars in state and federal grants to enhance town services.
Truth: Since they’re claiming this over a period of 8 years, that works out to around $125K/year. That’s a small drop in a 35 million dollar annual budget. And again, it’s hard to see where services have improved.

Claim: Increased recreational opportunities at Western Turnpike Golf Course, DiCaprio Park and Tawasentha Park
Truth: The golf course has not changed significantly since the town took it over. I’ve been playing this course since the 1970s. It was a nice course then, and it’s still nice.
DiCaprio Park is an addition, but the Town stopped a private alternative from being built that would have cost nothing to the taxpayer and added to the property tax base.
One of the biggest failings of Town government under Bosworth and Ricard is the failure to deliver improvements despite all the increased spending. Town spending is up 70% since 1999. This is a much bigger increase than other towns in the area like Colonie. Where is the money going? Colonie has a gorgeous new park – Crossings at Colonie. We take our kids there and see many other Guilderland families. Guilderland has nothing comparable.
We also take our kids to go swimming at pools in Clifton Park, where my wife’s parents live. Their pools are much nicer and better maintained than the Tawasentha Park pool. When I was out getting signatures one woman told me she wouldn’t take her kids to the town pool because it’s dirty.

Claim: Spearheaded sound zoning and planning practices, as well as stricter enforcement of local zoning laws
Truth: Guilderland has always had strict zoning laws and enforcement. The current government has done little to change this.

Claim: Adopted the strongest Ethics Law in NYS to prevent political favoritism and foster open and honest Town governance
Truth: This one is so phony. Guilderland town government is rife with political favoritism and our officials are doing ever more to hide things from us.
Town Hall is filled with cronyism and insider deals. Town employee Don Csaposs gets paid over $50K in taxpayer dollars. His job function appears to be focused on writing letters to newspaper editors attacking political opponents. Mike Ricard got a sweetheart deal on his tax assessment.
Dave Bosworth runs a “non-profit” that gets all its money from the Albany County government. The same Albany County government that is dominated by Democrats who, in turn, are controlled by none other than county Democratic co-Chair Dave Bosworth. And who is the treasurer for this non-profit? None other than Pat Slavik, another Bosworth crony on the Guilderland Town Board who he has now put up for County Comptroller. Bosworth and his wife get paid nearly $200K from this taxpayer-funded non-profit.

Open governance is a complete fiction. The Town Board keeps hiding more and more of its doings. Details of the police chief’s termination are hidden. Budget information is hidden. I could go on and on.

Claim: Improved public access … by televising Town Board, Zoning Board and Planning Board meetings.
Truth: This is old news, and I’d swear at least some of these meetings were televised before they were elected anyway. And since the town board is all of one party, filled with cronies, there is little actual debate in public. Decisions are made behind closed doors and then revealed at the meeting without any of the discussion.

: Established a Town Wide newsletter and a new, improved, interactive Town web site
Truth: The newsletter is a tool to increase name recognition for the incumbents – they’re using taxpayer money for their campaigning. They also remind you to pay your taxes and brag about minor improvements they made with your money.
The web site is a minor improvement, but is not interactive. There is no opportunity for the public to comment on the site, no forums for residents, etc. The search box on the site doesn’t work well at all. Doing a search for Ricard or Slavik comes up blank, while a search for Runion turns up only a photo – and not a good one either.

If all this isn’t bad enough, they actually bought a second full-page ad at page 23. You have to start wondering where the campaign money comes from if they can afford to buy two separate full page ads. We’ll be answering that question soon enough.

Mike Ricard Wins a Hollow Victory

Well, we won, and now we lost … I think. Below is a link to the pdf decision by the appellate court. They held that the first certificate we filed was invalid.

They specifically stated that they were not addressing the second certificate we filed, and I don’t know what that means. We’ll find out in the next couple days, I suppose.

Chalk up a win for Mike Ricard. He may have knocked me off the ballot for Guilderland Town Board. Maybe – we don’t know what this means yet. But one thing is for sure. I will do everything I can to make sure every voter in Guilderland knows what he did – he took away their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Mike Ricard decision

Campaign Update: We’re on the Ballot

Just a quick update here. The Court denied the petition, which means I will be on the November ballot, and that the effort by Mike Ricard to deprive the voters of a choice was not done properly.

In the first Altamont Enterprise article, Ricard “said he would debate Redlich ‘anyplace, anywhere, on any topic,’ if he stays on the ballot.”

I’m eager to debate Mike Ricard on the topics of ballot access and on the tax assessment process. Let’s see if he honors this commitment.

Guilderland NY – Reckless Spending

Just a brief update on what’s going on in Guilderland NY and with the town government. There has been a flurry of activity in the Altamont Enterprise, with letters going back and forth. Mike Ricard is trying to divert attention from his own failings and is hiding behind the assessor.

More interesting are some numbers I recently got. Here’s some statistics on spending by local town governments:

So Guilderland spending has increased far more than other towns in the area since 1999, and property taxes have gone up. That’s not the story we’ve been getting from Town Hall.