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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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The voter isn’t stupid, Mr. Gruber…but you are

Posted by Joyce Clark on November 12, 2014
Posted in National issues  | Tagged With: , , | 2 Comments

Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist and is acknowledged as having designed Obamacare. Videos of Gruber’s remarks made at a conference in October of 2013 have exploded all over the national media. The video shows Gruber saying Obamacare passed in part because “the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” He went on to say, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

He didn’t stop there. He said, “In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in—you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money it would not have passed…”

Gruber explained how he designed the bill to get past the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by saying that Obamacare’s individual mandate—the provision that requires most Americans to buy government-approved insurance, or pay a fine—was described in the law as a “penalty” instead of as a “tax” in order to hide the mandate’s effects. “I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the [individual] mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so [the law is] written to do that.”

He’s stupid. Apparently his egoism and arrogance prevented him from realizing that one’s public remarks are exactly that…public. What we say publicly can come back to bite us.

His remarks are sure to fuel the fire among those who would like to repeal Obamacare. His comments on subsidies are equally certain to affect a new case before the Supreme Court on that very issue. You remember, “If you like your health plan, you get to keep your health plan. If you like your doctor, you get to keep your doctor.” American families would save an average of $2400 a year in health insurance costs.  We were lied to but that doesn’t make us stupid. The very act of lying about the consequences of Obamacare is testament to the fact that we are not stupid for if we had been told the truth we would have rejected it. The American voter isn’t stupid, Mr. Gruber…but you, most certainly, are.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Today, November 11, 2014 I checked the Maricopa County elections website to see if there were final results for the Glendale Ocotillo district race for councilmember.

The results are Jamie Aldama received 929 votes and current Councilmember Norma Alvarez received 924 votes. If this isn’t proof that every vote counts I don’t know what is. Aldama prevailed by a margin of 5 votes.

It’s ironic and poetic justice. In  her run for the Ocotillo council seat in 2010 Alvarez won by 9 votes. Will there be a recount? Probably. So it may not be over yet. Stay tuned.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

In the November 6, 2014 edition of the Glendale Star it was reported that, “the attorney general’s office confirmed it had received all necessary information and is investigating the issue against four members of Glendale City Council.” To refresh your memory on June 29, 2013 Councilmember Gary Sherwood sent the following email to Councilmember Manny Martinez:

June 29, 2013

To: Martinez, Manny; Jeff Teesel

From: Sherwood, Gary

RE: Out Clause and Risk Topics

“Yvonne and I spend over an hour with Nick Woods last night and out of the three concerns from what I shared with Nick after our e-session yesterday (as of 7:45p, Nick has not seen the city’s revised draft which was promised right after we got of e-session nor had it been posted to our website – consequently both happened by 8:45p) two were okay with the city and had to deal with the errors the city made — #1, we don’t own the 5500 parking spots we’re proposing to charge for therefore it must be a license agreement and not a license agreement  (sic) #2) since the bonds that are held against the arena are tax exempt – only a governmental agency can hold those bonds so some different language has to be brought in – city agreed with that. The third item is problematic in that it is against the NHL for cities to hold out-clause and none of the other 29 cities have one. That would allow the city to just kick the team out, where would they play, what if in the middle of the season.

“I don’t have the time to get into all the details but I’ve known Nick Woods for a long time and know him to be a trusted friend and right now I can’t turn my back away from anyone in the city manager’s office or out (sic) acting city attorney.

“Manny, I’ve got a booked day with two Habitat for Humanity events, three radio interviews and two TV spots so contact Yvonne for details of our conversation. Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.

“Thanks for hanging in there!

“Manny – please delete this email after you’ve read it.”

In the Star article Sherwood mounts a defense of his actions. I would remind all that just because something is in print doesn’t make it necessarily true. I could be the Queen of England in print but that is not true. Sherwood asserts the email was innocent and there was no collusion between councilmembers but that doesn’t make it true.  Councilmember Sammy Chavira uses the time honored phrase, “I do not recall…” Just because someone doesn’t “recall” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Yet Sherwood, in his email, clearly states that “Sammy was already on board as he was with us last night.” If he did not have a conversation with Sammy that night he must have had a conversation at some time with Sammy to be able to confidently declare that “Sammy was on board…”

Vice Mayor Knaack is also back pedaling with her statement, “I do not recall discussing the terms of the deal or any other substantive discussions about the city-Coyotes business deal during the telephone conversation.” Yet again, Sherwood clearly states in his June 29 email that Yvonne and he spent an hour discussing terms of the deal with Coyotes’ attorney Nick Wood. Either Sherwood is lying or Chavira and Knaack are lying. Take your pick.

Facts are facts. Sherwood confirms that Knaack and Sherwood had an hour long conversation with Coyotes’ attorney Nick Wood. Sherwood refers to the substance of the conversation and that it was about the terms of the city-Coyotes deal and what had transpired in a city council e-session held prior to the phone conversation. There was no other city business that would have necessitated a conversation between Sherwood, Knaack and Wood. Sherwood stated unequivocally that Sammy supported the deal. Sherwood sent his email to Martinez to share results of that conversation.

It appears Sherwood was at the center sharing information about the Coyotes deal with the other three councilmembers, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira, in order to keep them informed and quite frankly, to keep them in line to vote in favor of the deal.

Another just as troubling aspect of the current Star article was this, “The city hired the firm of Simms Murray Ltd. To create and present the city’s case to the attorney general on this alleged open meeting violation.” How much will the city end up paying to defend against the latest alleged transgressions of four councilmembers?

It brings up memories of another such situation where the city paid the personally incurred attorney’s fees for councilmembers. Do you remember the 2006 indictments against Councilmembers David Goulette, Steve Frate, Tom Eggleston, Manny Martinez and City Clerk Pam Hanna? All elected officials are required to submit annual financial disclosure statements at the end of every January as a means of publicly disclosing any possible conflict of interest. These four councilmembers submitted them after the due date and back dated their disclosure statements and were indicted for it. They were not exonerated. Rather a judge ruled in March of 2006 that the city attorney could not testify against them due to attorney client privilege. The following month city council approved a “transfer of general fund contingency appropriation authority and funds in the amount of $500,000 to cover the additional anticipated costs associated with special projects.” The “special projects” were the personal attorney’s fees for the four indicted councilmembers. In 2006 the very same councilmembers that were indicted also voted in the affirmative to have the city pay their attorneys’ fees. It looks as if history is about to repeat itself.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Recently a blog reader sent me the following study produced for Fort Wayne, Indiana as it considered allowing casinos in 2009. Here is the link: http://www.ipfw.edu/dotAsset/174199.pdf . He said he believed the study to be reasonable and objective. It was commissioned by the City of Fort Wayne and written by the Community Research Institute of Indiana University/Purdue University. Apparently the 38 pages of information produced did not deter the officials in Fort Wayne and two non tribal casinos are now in operation: the Fraternal Order of Eagles 3512 casino and the Canterbury casino. There are several major differences between Fort Wayne’s casinos and the proposed Glendale casino. No reservation land was created as these are not tribal casinos; local, county and state taxes are paid and revenue sharing deals were implemented. Here are a few highlights of the study.

  • “When fiscal costs were included as well a multiplier effects, most of the options which were calculated results in costs exceeding benefits.”
  • “However, the averages wages are less for casino employees compared to the overall average wage.”
  • “For 5-10 miles, there was an average loss of $195 for all industries…businesses located 10-30 miles away lost $243.”
  • “…casino ‘undercut’ local bars, restaurants, and lodging by subsidizing their on-site casino facilities.”
  • “In 2007, gambling industries (the majority of which are casino employment) had an average wage of $28,148 while the average national wage was $44,458.”
  • “Wichita State (2007) states that 50 percent of new jobs will come through substitution of existing jobs.”
  • “…one negative would be more traffic, more accidents, and more DUI arrests.”
  • “Rose (1998) identifies sewer and road maintenance as a drain on communities, as well as costs of increased crime and crime prevention.”
  • “…approximately 41 percent of the patrons lived within 20 miles, approximately 27% within 20-60 miles, and approximately 32 percent traveled more than 60 miles.”
  • From Wichita State (2007) annual spending per person living 0-10 miles from a casino is $528; 10-25 miles from a casino is $234; and 25-50 miles away is $115.”
  • “Research shows that proximity to a casino increases the likelihood of problem gambling…and most pathological and problem gamblers lives within 50 miles of a casino.”
  • “Strong evidence is produced that there is a correlation between crime and casinos…It has been suggested that after time, the pathological and problem gamblers may resort to crime to cover gambling related debts (bad check, check forgery, theft from employers, tax evasion, tax fraud, loan fraud, embezzlement, larceny, bookmaking, hustling, fencing stolen goods, confidence games, pimping, prostitution, selling drugs, and others.)”
  • “In a 2004 study done b the Department of Justice pathological or problem gamblers were arrested a rate 3-5 times higher than that of the general population.”
  • “Different studies have found ranges which are substantially higher for problem gambling in adolescents.”
  • “Substance abusers appear to be particularly vulnerable to gambling problems.”
  • “Studies indicate that casino employees may also be at higher risk for pathological gambling.”

The Community Research Institute made clear that it had no dog in the fight and was merely compiling research from a vast amount of available material. Their bibliography is extensive. Even an seemingly non-biased study such as this one raises red flags about the long term effects of casinos – tribal or non tribal.

Two of the major reasons supporters advocate for the Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale are: 1. historically we have treated Indians poorly, subjugating and placing them on reservations and therefore we, the United States, owe them; and 2. Glendale will benefit financially from a casino in its community. Questions arise. How far back does this nation have to recall history in paying for past sins? 50 years? 100 years? 150 years? The U.S. government has acknowledged its historical ill treatment of indigenous Indian people and has paid and continues to pay vast amounts of money in reparation.

 Glendale, despite the monies being offered by the Tohono O’odham, will suffer financially. It will be tasked with installing new and upgraded infrastructure to serve the casino and its associated development. It will strain an already strained public safety system and the casino will remove sales tax dollars from nearby businesses through unfair, untaxed, subsidized competition.

The action taken by the Glendale city council to bend over on the casino issue will, in the future, be just as detrimental financially to the city as the infamous arena management deal and the Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility. It will become just another sink hole draining dollars that could be used to provide amenities that enhance the quality of life of Glendale’s residents.

There is still hope that the casino can be defeated. The General Election of November 4, 2014 produced a Republican majority in the Senate. I suspect that now it may be far easier to get a bill passed that stops the Tohono O’odham in their tracks. Perhaps that is why, even though they had a major ground breaking event a month or so ago, not one shovel full of dirt has moved on the TO site. This may signal the most prudent decision they have made to date. Actually starting a multimillion dollar development while congressional legislation remains a threat would be fool hardy indeed.

I never have and do not now bear any ill will to the people of the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Tohono O’odham people have suffered financially for many years. Where do the annual millions of dollars earned by the Tohono O’odham’s three current casinos go? Apparently not to the people of the Nation. However, I do believe that the actions of Ned Norris, Jr. and the Tohono O’odham Legislative council with respect to violating the State Gaming Compact and attempting to plant a casino in Glendale have been incredibly imprudent, greedy, selfish and self-serving. I do not wish them well in this endeavor.

 © Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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