Sun Metro could improve their numbers

August 20, 2017

At the Tuesday, July 11, 2017 meeting of the Mass Transit Board (city council) the director of Sun Metro gave a presentation relating to their 3rd quarter fixed route performance.  We wrote about the report in Sun Metro continues to sink.

When discussing the issue of decreasing ridership he spoke of lower gasoline prices, the peso devaluation, low interest car loans and disruptions caused by street car rail construction.  He also pointed out that he believed that bus ridership was down across the country.

Unfortunately we did not hear the director speak about taking any affirmative steps to improve either the ridership numbers or the system’s high operating cost per passenger.

Isn’t it time to rethink our strategy instead of spending more and more money on a service that fewer and fewer people want?  Isn’t there a way to provide this service to people who need or want it in such a manner that we spend less money, as ridership falls, instead of more?

We deserve better

Brutus


Health care as an entitlement

August 19, 2017
 An emergency room doctor wrote this on his blog.  M. T. Cicero sent it in.

We fling open the doors of America’s emergency departments to help those who can’t afford health care. We have legislated this protection: No person can be turned away for financial reasons. This is very compassionate and represents the higher angels of our culture. Alas, it also is emblematic of the stupider demons of government. You see, the ER demonstrates the inverted priorities of American society.

In the ER, expensive tattoos abound. Piercing is ubiquitous. Almost every adult and child has a smartphone, it seems. All too many spend the duration of their ER visit glaring at the screen of said phone; barely looking up at the physician who is attempting to engage them in meaningful conversation about the reason they came for care.

Cigarettes populate purses and drug screens are notoriously positive for at least chronic narcotic pain medications, but often other substances, among them marijuana and amphetamines.

Dental care? It is regularly ignored because, in the words of my patients, “I don’t have dental insurance.” Guess what. Neither do I, and I pay a lot for insurance. Dental care has typically been a cash business. That’s why dentists, crafty guys and gals that they are, spend their time mucking around the human mouth. Floss and toothpaste? Seems a bit excessive compared to a nice new tattoo.

But, on the southern end of things, carefully groomed pubic hair is not at all out of the question. The teeth may fall out; the nether regions will be carefully tended.
It’s all about priorities: those of individuals and those of leaders. Our leaders, ever convinced that we must give medical care to those perceived to be in need, often forget that modern definitions of poverty and need may be a bit different from need throughout human history. And that if a family has an expensive cell plan, new truck and big-screen TV with satellite, it might not be unreasonable to ask them to put up a little money for their own health care.

A woman told me, recently, that her daughter (at birth) had a minor congenital abnormality that required daily application of a cream. “And I had to spend $200 of my own money!” She was aghast. As are all of those who will gladly pay anything for Oxycontin (legal or otherwise), but who are offended and downtrodden when their antibiotic isn’t free at the local pharmacy.

We can’t keep this up. We’ve created a monstrosity of entitlement. I care for the poor; I love the poor and have always tried my best to help those in genuine need. Those truly hurting.

But when cosmetics, vices and electronics are considered reasonable expenditures while the rest of us pay for necessities like prescriptions (or over the counter Tylenol and Motrin as I’m often asked to prescribe for Medicaid), then we are entering the death spiral.

Hate me if you want. The truth is unpleasant.

But it is clean-shaven.

Edwin Leap is an emergency physician who blogs at edwinleap.com and is the author of The Practice Test.


Power to the people

August 18, 2017

There are two bills being considered in our Texas legislature that would limit property tax increases that cities and counties can hit us with.

Currently a city or county can increase their property tax rate by 8% a year.  Anything over that subjects them to a roll back election.  The process is a difficult one for the citizens and is almost never successful.

One of the bills would limit the increase to 6%, the other to 4%.  Both would also automatically trigger a roll back election.  That would give the voters a chance to approve or disapprove.

Elected officials from across the state are actively trying to kill the bills.  Their position is essentially that they need the money for things that we must have.

Why not let the voters decide?

The answer is simple.

We deserve better

Brutus


Fighting us with our money

August 17, 2017

This is the second note that came in about the electric company’s bills:

Dear Brutus,

I thought that you readers might appreciate being directed toward an interesting surcharge on their El Paso Electric bill. The charge is called “rate case expense surcharge” and is typically a few cents.
The bill does not explain the purpose of this surcharge. My understanding is that we (the customers) are charged for El Paso Electric’s legal fees, so the utility monopoly does not have a financial burden when they apply to raise our rates.
We deserve better.
Publius

Something missing

August 16, 2017

We are surprised that only one group (KVIA TV) reported the fact that YISD will receive $215 million to help pay for the $430 million bond issue that was approved.

KVIA wrote about and quoted the YISD superintendent:

De La Torre also pointed to additional state funding in the form of Existing Debt Allotment and Instructional Facilities Allotment.

“It’s a $430.5 million bond. But in terms of the burden to our community it’s a $215.25 million bond and that’s all they are being asked to pay for because the state is paying for the other half,” De La Torre said.”

As far as we can see the Times has not mentioned the $215 million.  They attributed the district’s tax decrease to:

District officials said the decrease is due to favorable market conditions during the bond sale and a slight increase in state funding for existing debt and for an allotment that helps offset the cost of building new instructional facilities.

In our neck of the woods $215 million in tax relief is worth writing about.

We deserve better

Brutus


Aren’t we nice?

August 15, 2017

We got two emails from alert readers within two days that both related to our electric bills.

Here is the text of the first one:

Ever read your electric bill.  I find a “Military Base Discount Recovery Factor” charge – with two meters it totals to $1.00

Is EPE charging me because Fort Bliss gets a discount?

We deserve better

Brutus


YISD gets huge debt assistance from Texas

August 14, 2017

We were happy to learn the other day from an alert reader that the Ysleta Independent School District had received a commitment $212.5 million from the state of Texas that will relieve half of the $430 million in debt  that the voters approved in their last bond election.

That is great news for us locally.

From a story aired by KVIA TV:

“It’s a $430.5 million bond. But in terms of the burden to our community it’s a $215.25 million bond and that’s all they are being asked to pay for because the state is paying for the other half,” De La Torre said.

We thank the board and staff of YISD.

The district sold half of the allowed bonds in 2016.

What we did not hear from either the YISD superintendent or board president was that the district will not issue the other half of the bonds.

Do they plan to take the $215 million from the state and add it to the voter approved amount?

From our viewpoint the right thing to do is not to issue the other half.  If they need more money they should ask the voters again.

Is that too much to hope for?

We deserve better

Brutus


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