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Wide White: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mayor Kautz's global priorities

I'm having a really hard time understanding why my mayor is spending her time jumping on the global warming bandwagon and stumping for a global climate change agreement.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Representing mayors in the United States, U.S. Conference of Mayors Vice President Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth Kautz today joined with mayors of the largest cities in Europe to present a mutual appeal to the international community on climate change.
"We thank Conference President Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels for his leadership on this issue. The nation's mayors know that a successful plan in this country for reducing our energy consumption and promoting greater energy independence begins in cities and other local communities, and we are leading by example in the fight against global warming," said Mayor Kautz.
Don't get me wrong, protecting our environment is critical.

But I can think of numerous other issues that are far more important to the city of Burnsville than climate change. How about the dismal mess that is the PAC? What about the empty storefronts popping up all over the place? How about our major budget shortfall? Or maybe the dangerous CR-5/Hwy 13 intersection? Does she need a few more suggestions?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

With a last name like Brueske...

...I suppose you're bound to get a little carried away with the brewskis. (Yes, I know, that was bad...)
Man charged with fourth DWI after driving nearly 100 mph

A 40-year-old Burnsville man was arrested for his fourth DWI in nine years after police clocked him traveling 98 mph while driving his landlord’s minivan on Highway 13 near Louisiana Avenue on Nov. 9.
Brueske has three previous DWI convictions which occurred in July of 2000, February of 2008 and March of 2009, according to court records.

According to the criminal complaint:

An officer observed Brueske traveling 98 mph in a 55 mph zone on Highway 13 near Louisiana Avenue at about 11:56 p.m. on Nov. 9. The officer caught up to the vehicle Brueske was driving and observed him swerve across the highway and cross the centerline several times.

After activating the squad’s emergency lights, Brueske traveled about half a mile before stopping, the complaint stated.

When the officer approached the vehicle and asked for a license and proof of insurance, Brueske told the officer, “Take me to jail. I am drunk.” Brueske also stated he did not have a license because it had been canceled.
When the officer asked Brueske if he had been drinking, he replied, “Yes, way too much.” Brueske refused to take a field-sobriety test and further stated to the officer, “Just take me to jail and let’s get this over with. You and I both know that I’m drunk.”

A preliminary breath test resulted in a failed reading of .25, according to the complaint.

Brueske was then placed under arrest. After being taken to the holding cell at the Savage Police Department, Brueske vomited in the cell twice and was transported to St. Francis Regional Medical Center for treatment.

After being seen by medics for his illness, Brueske was cleared to be booked into the Scott County jail.

If convicted, Brueske faces a maximum of seven years in prison, a $14,000 fine or both for each of the first-degree DWI charges. He also faces a maximum of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge.
In all seriousness, it's really sad but you also hope that this one wakes him up. And you've got to appreciate his honesty with the officer.

Seriously, best quote: "Just take me to jail and let’s get this over with. You and I both know that I’m drunk."

Too bad not everyone is so cooperative.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Burnsville is short on funds

But then, who isn't?
Burnsville City Council learns parks fund is short

A week after accepting a probable tax increase for 2011, the Burnsville City Council heard that another of its funds would need additional money after a lean 2010.

The city's parks fund, which is not currently balanced, will need an additional $130,000 a year starting in 2011 to pay for basic capital maintenance in the parks, city staff members told the council Monday during its second budget work session.

The council has already done most of the work to balance its 2010 budget, in which property taxes did not increase. The city cut $3.5 million from its 2010 budget, and the council said last week that it would not seek similar cuts in 2011.

"(The parks are) an asset of the community, and we need to make sure we are good stewards of this asset," Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said.

Other council members agreed, saying they would rather not cut the parks budget any further.

The extra money, which would amount to about a 0.5 percent levy increase, was not included in last week's 2011 budget estimate. Staff members said then that the city could face up to an 8.4 percent increase in its tax levy. Council members emphasized Monday that the number was just an estimate that did not take into account any increase in revenue.
So, our parks fund already isn't balanced. Awesome.

And now we're looking at a 0.5% increase that will likely be necessary.

I'm not the CFO of Burnsville or anything, but I have a hypothesis for why budgets aren't met and taxes go up: cities don't save.

When my car breaks down and I need what amounts to "capital maintenance," I draw from savings to pay for it. I continue working and building that savings account for capital expenses. If a capital expense comes along that I haven't saved for, I have to sacrifice somewhere.

The government has a luxury that I don't have though: they can raise the funds they need anytime they want to. I can't tell my boss to give me a raise whenever I want.

Of course, at the end of the day, the government is us. We're responsible for our own mess. We elect the politicians who serve and we pay for the services we get. We need to do a better job of making sure they're spending that money wisely. I'd say by the looks of it, we're doing a pretty poor job of that.


Monday, November 16, 2009

More Craigslist success

We tried giving our old dishwasher away to a few people but were unsuccessful in finding anyone.

So, my wife took pictures and we posted it on Craigslist. She wanted $50 for it. I looked to see what others were charging. It worked fine and we had the manual and instructions, but didn't know how old it was since it came with our house.

I posted it for $70 and got 5 responses the first day.

The guy who took it asked if I'd go $60 on it. I think he knew he was stretching it to ask me to go any lower. But, let's just say he looked like he needed the extra $10 more than I did so I went with it.

Hey, it was $60 more than I was planning to get for it!

Consider this inspiration for those of you tempted to throw out old appliances or doesn't get greener than passing it on to someone else!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Why I buy from

I ordered a wireless adapter for my desktop computer so I could connect to the internet via USB without running a wire through half of my house.

A wireless adapter costs at least $40 at Best Buy (the Linksys model I wanted cost $50 $40 refurbished through their website).

I found the refurbished version of the Linksys model on for $16.99.

I ordered it on 11/4 and it arrived - with free shipping - 2 days later on 11/6.

There are very few reasons I can think of NOT to buy online for most items and services and Amazon is about as good as it gets.