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Fri May 01, 2015 at 10:57 AM PDT

Governing by Obstinance in Kansas

by zamrzla

The finances of the county, the city and the school district I live in are now entirely trapped in a fight for the last tax dollar many are able to part with over the rush to create a libertarian utopia. Sam Brownback’s folly to ‘untax’ the wealthy and corporations have shifted the entire burden of managing the state's finances directly on the backs of the middle and lower class populations of Kansas. Now that the state is unable to spread the wealth of northeastern Kansas to the more rural portions of Kansas, it will be up to the individual counties, cities and school districts to raise their own funds in any manner they can.

Sam told us he wanted Kansas to be more like Texas, where property taxes, fees and barrels of oil are the mainstay of revenue for counties, cities and school districts. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams with the compliant teabaggers his wealthy benefactors gave him in 2012. In Texas, a property owner pays property taxes to each level of government individually and in ever increasing amounts. Fees for services are high, but regulation is lax, allowing companies to build hazardous chemical plants in the middle of towns such as West, Texas. Can Sam Brownback's vision of "North Texas" be far behind his plan? Texas K-12 schools were consistently behind those of Kansas in college preparatory proficiency rates according to The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Kansas had a higher percentage of high school completion rates as well using the latest data from NCHEMS. I foresee the days of getting a better education in Kansas coming to a close well before my teen earns her high school diploma.  

The media here is responsible for educating Kansans about the issues and I cannot name one that has done so adequately. As revenues decline, the people need to understand that they played a major role in creating this mess.  It is the job of the ‘5th estate’ to provide the people with the truth, and most have failed very badly. While campaigning for the 1968 Presidential election, Robert F. Kennedy said, “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of society.  Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.  Yet it is the one essential, vital, quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”  

Where is the moral courage to change our current disastrous tax policy?

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Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 11:46 AM PDT

Organizing in a Blood Red State

by zamrzla

Last August I became the Chairman of my county's Democratic Party. I've spent many sleepless nights since then trying to come up with ways to keep people engaged. I know anyone reading this laments over the same thing regardless of your role in the body politic. It isn't because there isn't enough work to keep people working towards a progressive future, it is because there are too few willing to stay engaged that I can reach.

The disconnect between the Democratic Party and the base can be a tough item to overcome. Especially in local politics where I operate. At yesterday's #DKConnect in KC, Meteor Blades talked about full-time organizing in our last session. It was as if we had been reading each other's minds. Tim's ideas mirrored mine but were more robust and his track record is proven with a lifetime's work. Markos led one session where he showed us some tools we already have and a few we will have very soon to augment the all-important work of targeting fellow Kossacks. Follow me below the fold to see what I'm doing with what I have.

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Sat Nov 08, 2014 at 01:10 PM PST

Post Democolipse bloodletting

by zamrzla

I'm the chair, newly elected, of the Shawnee County, Kansas, Democratic Central Committee and I've been on Daliykos for ten years. I don't write many diaries, as there are many here that are far better at saying my thoughts more succinctly than I can. But on occasion, I must write because no other person can express what I can. Today is one of those times where I must write and so I shall.

First, let me state that I do not want to drag anything or anyone through the crap here. Having said that, wouldn't it be rather useful actually to understand what worked in Kansas and what didn't work before we start loping heads off? My county, Shawnee County, actually delivered for Paul Davis. He won here with almost 12k (56%) more votes that Sam Brownback, who's from here.

tmservo433, for all of his hard work on reporting to the national community about Kansas Politics, may have been more productive by not trying to crash the bus on the bodies of the people he's promoting we throw under the wheels. His points are salient, but to each story, there are multiple sides. Not to objectively listen to all the sides brings a certain bias that I'd like to think is beneath us, at least here.

For another side, a view from where I sit, join me below the orange squiggle.

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:00 PM PDT

Good-bye Kansas

by zamrzla

I knew in the back of my mind the day might come after Sam Brownback announced his run for Governor. I didn't know the specifics of why or how, but I did know it might come to this. I had hoped to put it off until my teen had graduated from high school however unwise or expensive it may be. The finances of the county, city and school district I live in are now entirely enmeshed in a fight for the last tax dollar I am willing to part with over the rush to create a libertarian utopia. Sam’s folly to untax the wealthy and corporations have shifted the entire burden of managing the state's finances squarely on the backs of the middle and lower class populations of Kansas. Now that the state is unable to spread the wealth of northeastern Kansas to the more rural portions of Kansas, it will be up to the individual counties, cities and school districts to raise their own funds in any manner they can.

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I just read an article in the Wichita Eagle's Kansas.com edition by Bernie Koch about the pie in the sky tax law they just passed. He attended a Wichita Independent Business Association meeting recently where, “Wichita attorney Jerry Capps explained a serious technical problem in the new Kansas income-tax cut bill." Koch says there was shock among the attendees as Capp, the VP of a prominent Accounting firm and a lawyer explained that the law, as written, is incomplete at best. I think the law was likely written by the Korporate Raiders of Koch Industries Inc and their flunkies over at ALEC who are just as inept and feckless as the supposed legislators who proposed and then passed this morass. More below the orange squiggly.

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Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 02:15 PM PDT

A critique needed for a LTTE

by zamrzla

I have a few questions for the governor of Kansas who is refusing to expand Medicare. I expressed those questions in the LTTE below the orange squiggle to the Topeka capital Journal, here in Topeka.

The editor wants me to pare it down from its current 523 words to just 350 words. I've written many letters to the editor and had my share printed. But they were all opinion, and this one is based on facts. The opinion editor wants to run it, but it is too long for him to do so. I'm worried it will lose something if I just start whittling away. When writing such letters, does one need to cite sources verbatim or is paraphrasing enough? Can I get a critique and some suggestions from the experts here? Feel free to let 'er rip, I have big shoulders and even though I'm a Marine who hasn't been deployed for 36 years, I can take your best and worst! I will check in later this evening and hope for the best!

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Fri May 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM PDT

Remembering Mother's Day

by zamrzla

I don't write as well or as profusely as most diarists here, but I need to get this off my chest. I've been dealing with the death of my wife now for just over two years (Actually 2 years, two months and 8 days) now and the 'administrative claim' filed against the VA for malpractice I filed on the first anniversary of her death is once more in limbo land. It took the VA one full year after the claim was filed to complete their work. Once it left the hands of the VA attorney in our VISN, it was 'forwarded up the chain of command' to who knows where. I still have no sense of closure or justice for my wife nor for my daughter.

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Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 11:38 AM PST

I was a Job Creator

by zamrzla

As a disabled vet, I have never had much disposable income; nevertheless, I used to be able to hire someone to help me around the house. That was before my cost of living got too high.

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Sat Nov 05, 2011 at 02:01 PM PDT

How I Learned Where to Move My Money

by zamrzla

Just a short diary about learning to manage money and what a long, strange trip it's been, to quote Jerry Garcia.
As most of you know, my wife died by a doctors' misdiagnosis of a P.E. in our local Veterans Affairs hospital here in Topeka. Well, the ‘Administrative Claim’ process our federal government has in place for those of us with a grievance against it is winding down soon. It's been two months since the government's six-month investigative window officially closed and it's only because my malpractice attorney and I agree that we’ll keep expenses down by not doing so that we haven't filed the civil suit in federal court yet.
The Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, provides the only course of action available to my daughter and me to find any sense of justice in an imperfect world. Because we live in Kansas, we are bound by state statute to just actual economic damages along with the $250,000 cap on bereavement and for pain and suffering.  (I’ll save the rant about recompense from republicans who seemingly know how much pain and suffering my family has been through for another day.) By law, I can only claim the wages my late wife would have earned throughout her life. Since she was a nurse and in her mid-40’s, she had many years ahead of her (and I will miss her each of those days while I live). The amount I am asking for is no small amount, but it is far more than I’ve ever possessed at one time.
What should I do with money I’ve never had? Should I invest it? Sock it away and hope for the best? Bury it in the chicken coop as my grandparents did during the 1930’s? My malpractice attorney can’t be my wealth advisor too, so I’ve used these many months wisely I hope. I’ve researched what I should do by interviewing financial planners, banks, credit unions, and even a few lawyers who specialize in wills, trusts and estate planning. I’ve talked to several local financial planners and investment companies - some with in-house financial planners, some not so close and one place I didn’t think of for many months that stood out to me, and I’ll tell you why.
Credit unions are getting their due here and in other blogs lately. Even though I haven’t received a dime and our case is not settled, I found a credit union that sat down with me and listened to my concerns. They gave me a team of people to help me plan, set-up and run (if the damn case is ever settled) the trust for my daughter, the accounts to hold assets, invest with and one to keep close for no charge.  In my strange journey, I found many people whose sole interest in me, was to take a piece of the precious little money I want to see my daughter have to see her through school. Yet, here is a credit union giving me all they could to support my daughter and me before we see a dime.
If you’d like the name of this credit union, email me off list.  I won’t keep their name a secret, but I won’t advertise for them either.  This is where I’m putting my trust, literally, because they’ve put their trust in me.

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Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 01:51 PM PDT

RIP Dennis Ritchie

by zamrzla

Dennis Ritchie, an icon in the programmming and IT business, has died today. Ritchie was part of Bell Labs' development of UNIX, from which modern computing evolved. He was also responsible for the development of the C language. From the WaPo article:

Dennis Ritchie, the inventor of C programming language and co-developer of Unix, died after a long, unspecified illness Wednesday. He was 70.

Dennis Ritchie poses after receiving the 2011 Japan Prize at Bell Labs headquarters in Murray Hill, N.J., in May. (Victoria Will - AP Images for Japan Prize Foundation) Ritchie is likely to be best remembered, however, for his famous “hello, world” program, which is used in programming textbooks as an example of a very simple computer program, and has spread to ordinary folks as a phrase to use when starting something new.

After news of Ritchie’s death broke, words of remembrance came in for the man known to many as “dmr,” which was his e-mail address at Bell Labs, where he spent most of his career.

/****************
So, for all of you Kossacks out there that have written a "Hello World" program, our world has grown smaller today.
*/
main()
{ printf("Hello World");}

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Wed Aug 24, 2011 at 02:20 PM PDT

It has come to this?

by zamrzla

Yesterday I saw an article from Think Progress about a Pennsylvania school district that has found a way to save money using farm animals. I waited for someone here to diary about it that has better skills than I to do the story, but after a day, I must at least try because the school district where I live is just like everyone else's, broke and desperate. More below the fancy scrollwork.

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Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 07:46 AM PDT

It's been 4 weeks today

by zamrzla

Today is the 4 week anniversary of my beloved wife's death at our local VA. There is a story to be told concerning her death and the way in she was incorrectly diagnosed and treated. Most of that story remains a puzzle to me, but not to the lawyer.

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