Saturday, February 18, 2006

Negotiating 101

As someone who has negotiated land use rights for a living, I have always has a certain professional nose to look down on for those negotiating on behalf of governments. It has everything to do with the fact that those I approach with a proposal can slam the door in my face if they choose. Government negotiators can have the door bulldozed sometimes. Just ask the good folks at NK Hurst.

Thus, it was interesting to read a recent article in on Reason Magazine's website, which demostrates that dynamic, using Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson as the dark example. From Jacob Sullum's article:

"Cities use eminent domain most often as a negotiating tool with property owners," explained Peterson, who was speaking for the National League of Cities. "Just having the tool available makes it possible to negotiate with landowners." Sure it does—in the same way just having a gun available makes it possible for a bank robber to negotiate with a teller.

Im my acquisitions, it was always possible to negotiate with landowners. You had to bring a lot of dollars to the table to trade, but more importantly, you had to convince the opposite party that they wer getting value equal to or greater than what your client would be getting. Demonstrating value to the other party isn't even on the radar in eminent domain cases. Eminent Domain isn't trade. It's force. That's why private negiators look down their nose at government counterparts. Brute force requires very little application of skill.

By the way, Reason has a great blog, called Reason Hit & Run. I keep a permenant link at the right. The comments are a delight.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Eating Endangered Species?

I was listening to Neal Boortz the other day, and he was trying to provoke his audience and Belinda, one of his show producers, by saying he was glad that the Bald Eagle was being removed from the endangered species list so that he could hunt one for the purpose of eating it.

This rubbed me wrong on so many levels, but that's what Boortz was angling for. I simply couldn't eat the bird that is the symbol for our nation. I also couldn't eat a creature that was so recently on the verge of extinction.

Then I read a Washington Post article that suggests that maybe I am doing exactly that. I was stunned, because I eat salmon at least three times a month, grilling it at home, even as the snow flies. From the Post article:
In 2004, federal and state governments spent more than $160 million to preserve that salmon species, commonly known as chinook -- listed by the federal government as endangered in the early 1990s. And that doesn't include the millions spent on other kinds of salmon, such as sockeye, coho and chum.
I don't believe I've ever had chinook salmon, but I seek out sockeye and coho for the health benefits of eating the Pacific varieties. Besides, salmon is the only fish Ame will eat. But I never thought of sockeye salmon as endangered. I buy it at Jonah's Market in the Geist area, and even at my local Target store.

It begs the question- Are these varieties of fish truly endangered, or, is this so much more money tossed out the window to appease a special interest group? Also from the Post:
The report, which regularly invites controversy, provides information to Congress so lawmakers can make decisions on conservation spending, according to the service.
This is as it should be. If salmon is truly endangered, I'm not going to eat it. If it isn't, what are we throwing our money at? The money could be better allocated on real needs, or even returned to the taxpayers, perish the thought!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thanks, J.A.!

J.A. Thomas has announced his candidacy for Indiana Representative in District 64, which includes his home town of Vincennes, and his home county of Knox. Here's the link to J.A. Thomas' campaign website.

Thomas' entry into the race should make things delightfully uncomfortable for incumbent Republican Troy Woodruff, who won election in 2004 by a mere 189 votes. Mr. Woodruff would be well advised to vote for smaller government with every vote, lest he lose a several thousand to Thomas, along with his hopes for re-election.

I'm glad J.A. announced his candidacy now. It gives him a chance to build momentum now, rather than after our late-April convention. Unless you have big money, time coupled with effort is the only thing on a candidate's side for gaining strength.

Big thanks to J.A on a personal note. He has pledged his support in working together for the highest possible outcome in the Secretary of State race, in which I am a candidate. Indiana election rules tie the parties' ballot status to this race. Our minimum goal in 2006 is Major Party status.

J.A. has my pledge for support as well. Together, we will work to build the 8th District.

I pledge my support to work together with other leaders who step forward to do the necessary work. J.A. Thomas is leading by example.

Thanks, J.A.!
Poll Added

You will note the snappy freebie poll posted at the right side of the page. Nothing too scientific here, but I'd like to get a better idea of times people are inclined to attend a campaign meeting.

This comes in response to the District 5 organizational meeting held last Saturday at Claude & Annie's. The turnout was decent, but I received more emails and voice mails expressing regrets than there were folks present. That tells me I could have done better in selecting a time.

You get one bite at the apple here. Use it well. Thanks!
Fort Wayne Annexation Report

Hamilton County is not the only county to suffer significant forced annexations. In fact, Allen County and Fort Wayne are the seasoned veterans.

Fort Wayne Libertarian Mike Sylvester has a report on a series of pending annexations that affect thousnads of property owners.

Of note, while no elected official in Hamilton County has spoken in opposition to forced annexation, several Fort Wayne city councilors were elected on platforms that included opposition to annexations. These councilors are silent today.

What is it about being elected to office that takes a fiscal conservative and suddenly transforms that person into a tax-and-spend liberal?

What is it about an electorate that re-elects those who fail to keep their word?
Klop on WXNT

It was great to tune in to Newstalk 1430-am this morning and hear Brad Klopfenstein on Abdul's show, along with John Livengood. Brad is the former Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. He now holds the same position with the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association. Points of interest:

Brad & John pointed to the unintended consequences of the Marion County smoking ban. In particular, the restaurants had to decide- do they continue to permit smoking by excluding patrons under 18 years of age, or do they cater to families and exclude smoking? Many have chosen to exclude minors. Business owners had to decide which demographic, smokers or kids, comprised the smaller subset of their business, and then lose that subset. Not exactly business friendly.

John declared himself a 'civil libertarian' on the issue of smoking. It was an interesting choice of words, as Mr. Livengood was once an elected Democratic official, and that isn't the line most Dems choose on smoking. Sure, he represents the hospitality industry and has to take that position, but the word 'libertarian' was pleasant to hear from him. I hope to word rolls off his lips when he is in touch with his clients discussing political parties that took his side on smoking issues and food & beverage taxes throughout the state.
Wither 2002?

The Indianapolis Star has run two reports recently, covering the possibility that Indy could host the 2008 GOP national convention. The bid has been deep-sixed before it could even get going. From the latest Indy Star report:
Jennifer Hallowell, executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, said it notified the Republican National Committee that it wouldn't submit a proposal.

In addition to the cost and effort of pursuing a bid, Indianapolis would face a timing problem. The convention would conflict with the transition from the old RCA Dome to the new stadium and expanded Indiana Convention Center, which is not expected to open until late summer 2008.

Calling it a "timing problem" really glosses over the fact that the Convention Center will be torn up, thanks to the Governor tying its' expansion to the construction of a new stadium for the Colts. It's a dark irony that the Indiana GOP might have been able to host their party's biggest party of the 4-year election cycle, except that one of their own Governors in ram-rodding a political project home that should have been wholly private anyway left the only site in town for such a thing unavailable. Oh, well. Republicans from across the country can take their millions of dollars and bless some other city with it instead.

There was an error in the report that requires some housekeeping:
Indianapolis has never hosted a national political convention. Chicago has hosted the most: 13 Democratic and 13 Republican conventions.

That is factually incorrect. Indianapolis was host to the 2002 national convention of the Libertarian Party. That event was life-changing for me, in retrospect.

At the time, I was a resident of Cleveland, and served the Convention as a delegate from the state of Ohio. Ame had finished her Master's work and was review potential work locations where she could fulfill service requirements tied to her education. Indianapolis was on the list, along with New York City and some lesser locations.

I stayed on the north side, at Keystone at the Crossing, and was afforded a drive to and from the Convention, whereby I could meander around town en route, examining neighborhoods, picking up sales slips from houses with 'for sale' signs in the front yard.

I was rather taken by the friendly nature of people, both on the north side and in the downtown area. The cost of living was reasonable, and the Libertarian Party of Indiana was the best state affiliate I encountered at the Convention. The state income tax was 4% lower than Ohio, the property taxes were 75% lower than Cleveland, the sales tax was 3% lower than Cleveland, and there was no municipal income tax in Indy, versus a 2% tax in Cle. These were among the numerous factors that made the move exciting for me.

Now we have our own home in Fishers, and we plan to be here for many years to come.

So, please, correct that error in the Star. It is an injustice to our area, and to the Libertarian Party. The Indiana Libertarians did a great job of showcasing Indianapolis and the Central Indiana region.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Who Do You Trust?

CNN published an interesting report on a recent Gallup Poll. Who has a clear plan for the country? From the CNN article:

Democrats? No, according to 68% of those polled.
Republicans? No, according to 67% of those polled.

Apparently, Americans don't trust either party. This begins to explain why voter turn-out is so low in this country. What it doesn't explain is why more Americans aren't willing to turn to other parties. Sure, I'll stump for the Libertarians, but I would extend that inquiry to any other party.

I'd love to see the same poll reissued, but adding libertarian philosophy of smaller government and lower taxes to the questions, to see what rating the public would give it. I bet higher than 32 or 33%.

It just doesn't make sense to keep voting for parties you don't trust.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Greenfield Report

The Libertarian Party of Hancock County held a fun, informal dinner meeting at El Rodeo restaurant in Greenfield, on SR 9, just south of the interstate.

Most of the people there were folks I had not met before. Most were rather disenchanted with the Republican Party. They want smaller government in general. They want to be left alone by what they consider a meddling, busy-body government. This was one extremely pro-liberty group, and it was a delight to be amongst them.

Phil Miller gave me the floor for about 20 minutes. I spoke about the campaign, and I urged them to not only work in support of my campaign, but to allow me to work to support them in their campaigns. The only way to make an unresponsive government take notice is to put the very office at stake, by becoming candidates.

It's not for everyone, but I suspect some of the people I met there tonight will become candidates.
Legislative Update

Dan Drexler of the Libertarian Party of Indiana has been doing a great job of tracking bills that the party supports and opposes. He has posted a useful update today. Check it out via this link.

Top item is the Eminent Domain bill, HB 1010. While it has passed the House, sadly it is stalled in committee awaiting the Senate. Time to give your State Senator a call to urge movement on this bill to curtail the theft of private property by governments on behalf of private interests.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Glad I Left Marion County

This was predictable. You had to know that if municipalities were given the chance, they would initiate municipal income taxes. Marion County leads the way, to ruin. From the Indy Star report:
Two members of the City-County Council are proposing a county income tax to raise about $33 million.

The proposal from council member Jackie Nytes would levy a County Economic Development Income Tax to help pay for the IndyGo bus service and to make up money expected to be lost by next year’s planned elimination of the state’s inventory tax.

“Unfortunately, the State Legislature has resisted efforts from local officials to have more control over funding for local projects, services and operations,” Nytes said in a council news release issued Friday night.

“We are offering this proposal as a starting point for discussion of how we fund local governments, provide tax relief to citizens, and address the elimination of the inventory tax. I'm sure it will be amended along the way.”
That's a curious way of providing tax relief, by proposing the inititation of a new tax.

Here's an idea: CUT SPENDING. Put that at the top of the list of items for discussion on how to balance the books. Increasing taxes is only one way to accomplish that goal.

Municipal taxes lead to the destruction of core cities. I have witnessed this in Cleveland, where the municipal tax was 2% when I lived there. Eventually, towns and cities get to haggling over the rightful collector of the tax.

I lived in Cleveland, but worked in suburban Parma. Both wanted 2% in munipal taxes. After two years of this nonsense, I moved to Parma, thereby preserving 2% of my income. Two years after that, I moved to Indiana, where there was no municipal income tax, thereby preserving another 2%.

Here's the most devastating part: the more you make, the greater your incentive to leave. The 0.35% that Nytes proposes isn't a whole lot to a person making $18,000/year, but is to someone making a million a year. Cleveland's experience was that people of means simply left, leaving only the poor and lower middle class. The city- not only the inner city, but even the fringes- suffered as people of means fled for the suburbs.

That's what Indy is headed for if they pass this tax.

It's really stupid, because Indiana was very competitive relative to the states east of it when I got here. The state income tax was lower, property taxes were lower, and there was no municipal income tax. I calculated that I preserved fully 7% of my income when comparing the Cleveland residence to the Indianapolis residence.

Now, the property taxes are nearly even. Now, Indianapolis is considering a tax hike to support IndyGo, which is already supported by taxes to the tune of 80% of its revenue.

I'm really glad I left Marion County for Hamilton County. I'm just very afraid that Hamilton County is going to reinvent Marion County, and make it another place to flee in order to preserve income. That would be a shame.
Hancock County Meeting is Next

The campaign season is really going to be in full swing now, as I work towards securing the nomination of my party to be our candidate for Secretary of State. This means winning over the votes of the delegates to the Libertarian Party of Indiana's annual State Convention. This year's convention will be held the weekend of April 28-30, in Indianapolis.

On Monday, I will be attending the dinner/business meeting of the Libertarian Party of Hancock County. The dinner begins at 6pm at El Rodeo Restaurant in Greenfield, on SR 9, off I-70.

I am looking forward to this meeting as the attendance at Hancock County meetings has been steadily rising. I attribute this to their increased visibility in defending small business owners from impositions local governments would place on them. Generally, the Libertarians are their only defenders politically. Also, Jenn Bradshaw writes a great column in the Greenfield Daily Reporter.
Bob Barr Has It Right

Even though many on the right think of Bob Barr as royal pain, the former Georgia Republican Congressman is right on the money. Barr has been challenging his party on all things related to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, leaving cognitive dissonance in his wake. Observe these zingers offered at the recent CPAC assembly. From the Washington Post report:
"Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?" Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. "Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?"

Dinh brought the crowd to a raucous ovation when he judged: "The threat to Americans' liberty today comes from al Qaeda and its associates and the people who would destroy America and her people, not the brave men and women who work to defend this country!"

It was the sort of tactic that has intimidated Democrats and the last few libertarian Republicans who question the program's legality.But Barr is not easily suppressed. During a 2002 Senate primary, he accidentally fired a pistol at a campaign event; at a charity event a decade earlier, he licked whipped cream from the chests of two women.

Barr wasn't going to get a lesson on patriotism from this young product of the Bush Justice Department. "That, folks, was a red herring," he announced. "This debate is very simple: It is a debate about whether or not we will remain a nation subject to and governed by the rule of law or the whim of men."

For the past five years or so, I concluded that the direction the Republican Party was taking was moving away from Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, and towards a big government distinct from the kind of big government the Democrats prefer- but big government all the same. The fiscal conservatives, the "small-L" libertarians still clinging to the GOP would at last be cast aside, with the Libertarian Party as their only possible home.

This is not a small constituency within the GOP, so in time, I believe that the divide will come to represent the questions of big government/small government, and individualism/collectivism. The result will again be two dominant parties, but far better defined.

In 2001, I had the timeline for this metamorphosis at 25-30 years. Now, I have it at about 15 years.

In my own way, I hope that the Republican leadership continues to ignore Barr. It will result in the Republican Party going to way of the Whigs, to be replaced by the Libertarian Party.
There They Go Again

The easiest way to tell that a government is growing is that buildings are being added, or added to.

The Town of Fishers, led by an all-Republican town council, is growing. The proof can be found in the expansion of the Town Hall, which will begin this summer. From Bill Fouts' report in the Fishers Weekly:
The expansion is will add 18,945 square feet to the existing Town Hall and will include a “light spire” that Passen said was really more of a dome reminiscent of a capitol dome.

“It's very striking and it's going to look very different than it does now,” Passen said.

In other words, it isn't merely getting bigger, it's getting more palacial. So where will the money come from? Again, from the Fishers Weekly article:
The project will be paid for through bond issues. Huff said some bond money has already been approved.

“I don't know yet whether that's going to be enough to do it depending on all the other things we're tying to do with this building,” Huff said. “We may have to add some to it. We'll just have to wait and see.”

Translated into straight English, this means the Town was counting on the successful forced annexation of the Geist area, which would have at once added the bonding capacity, and would require even more space, because a bigger area to govern means bigger government.

That's today's GOP for you. There they go again, burying the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

I wish the Town Council and Manager would take stock in what allowed Fishers to develop into a great town, one that earned that fabulous Money Magazine ranking. It was the relative absence of government, the low taxes, and the tiny bond obligation. They seem bent on reinventing Marion County by growing government and bond obligations, which all leads to higher taxes, which drives people of means on to the next Fishers. Why louse up a good thing?
Excellent Organizational Meeting

I was delighted with Saturday's organizational meeting for District 5. It was attended by 20 good people who want to see my campaign, and the Libertarian Party, move to the next level.

Two homework assignments were issued.

#1 Bring 3 people to the next meeting. This is a fun exercise, because even if the person hears 'no' from 12 friends, relatives, or business associates before finding three to say 'yes', that many more people have heard good things about the Kole Campaign and the Libertarian Party from trusted people with relationships and shared values.

#2 Conduct online research on at least one Indiana County. Determine the media outlets (TV, radio, print, blogs, etc.) and their newsroom and contact info. Also, determine the big-deal annual events, such as parades, festivals, fairs, etc., along with the dates, times, locations, and contact info.

Those who were unable to attend but wish to participate are most welcome to do so! Send me an email at, and I will be glad to send the Word Documents with the details.

The event was reported by LPIN State Chair Mark Rutherford in his blog, and by LP of Hamilton County Secretary Michael Jarrell, in his blog. Special thanks to Michael for presenting me with a nice bottle of Boylan's Root Beer!

I learned that Saturday afternoon is not the best time for a meeting, especially when IU and Purdue basketball is happening at the same time. There were more email and voice mail regrets than there were folks present. That's my fault. Chalk it up as a learning experience.

In other news, I am working with Jeff Thomas of Vincennes to put an organizational meeting together for the 8th District. Watch this blog and the campaign website for details on organizational meetings statewide.