Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tropical Heatwave....

I woke up this morning to a near tropical 5 degree's but as strange as it sounds I woke up warm. It felt like I had central heating inside this shed. It is so wonderful not to wake up shivering.
But I also woke up feeling pretty ill, with a migraine, unable to stop coughing and sneezing. Perhaps I am warm as in "fever."

Meanwhile the cats and dogs are getting cabin fever, unwilling to stay outside under these conditions, yet bouncing off the walls of this small shed. Except Copper. She is still coveting the small heater.

I have a very small television. As small as a computer monitor. Last night I fell asleep with the tv on, and around 6 am a pastor giving a tv sermon woke me up.

Isn't it strange how something can reach you while you are still asleep, and as he started to tell his congregation that "God has promised that those who love God shall grow fat and prosperous because of His blessings," even in my sleep I thought of the disciples, then the early church and how they suffered so.
The more his words reached my subconscious the faster I started to wake up, until I was wide eyed and bushy tailed trying to digest this strange "prosperity preaching." It's so wrong to lead people to believe that God is a respecter of persons, and material wealth & security is a sign of favoritism.

The world may abandon a person, the feeling of loneliness may consume a hurting person, life may give some horrible blows... but those factors touch all equally irregardless of wealth, social status or material possessions. God remains the same. He never forsake His. Whatever one of His goes through He will be right there. His presence, His caring is the wealth and security we can depend upon for an eternity.

Luke 12:6-7; Matthew 10-29-31
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Yesterday the gross receipts tax increased, and as one can expect, the locals started to speak loud and clear.

The BRT: What were they thinking?

Gross Receipts Tax rate goes up Saturday

Dubbed the Business Retention Tax (BRT), it was narrowly passed by voters in a September mail-in ballot. The effect will be to raise the Gross Receipts Tax rate for all municipalities in Lincoln County. It will shove Ruidoso's GRT rate alone into second place statewide, behind that of only Taos Ski Valley.

When we gaze back at 2010 and ponder our priorities, we should be asking: "What the heck were we thinking?"

Let's see, average citizens and small-time merchants pay the richest man in the territory to prop up a failing business model in a troubled industry.

Three county commissioners - Tom Battin, Dave Parks and Don Williams - failed their constituents in allowing a Political Action Committee comprised of wealthy pro-tax special interests - many from out-of-state - to literally buy an election (for $26,000).

Then these same commissioners, on the night the votes were counted, had the gall to attend a victory party at the casino, photographed sitting together, leading to speculation about a rolling quorum.

Battin, who will be termed out in 2012, should have recused himself from this entire episode, as he has several ties to entities in line to benefit from the BRT.

As for Parks and Williams, it is fitting that they were defeated for re-election.

In the GOP primary, giving newcomers an opportunity to be seated on the five-member commission in January.

The PAC raised $80,000 - a 40-1 ratio over its opponents - a portion of which paid for combative "Fight Back" posters placed in a number of businesses in Ruidoso. The fight-back campaign supposedly targeted Santa Fe, where the Legislature for years had denied tax parity efforts on behalf of non-Indian casinos, such as Billy the Kid, which pay a higher percentage of their income to the state.

It was a clever ploy, galvanizing provincial passions against the mean ol' state capital, playing off latent cultural rivalries. It also proved so divisive locally that tax opponents have threatened to boycott "Fight Back" businesses after Dec. 31. Some will follow through.

The divisiveness rent the very fabric of Ruidoso in a most spiteful manner, pitting neighbor against neighbor, splitting organizations and straining relationships. There was no civility to the "debate."

In the vortex lay the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce, which had allowed itself to become politicized in the extreme. The Chamber, and associated PAC interests such as the Ruidoso Valley Economic Development Corporation, cried that the sky was falling and loosed an embarrassing tirade of hysteria orchestrated by a track/-casino threat to relocate operations to Las Cruces.

In January, once another tax parity effort was doomed, the Chamber hosted a "Ruidoso Day" schmoozefest in Santa Fe to lobby state representatives on behalf of an alternate bill placing the BRT before Lincoln County voters. Lawmakers were given the impression this had broad community support; later, some said they felt misled.

When the ballot initiative passed in September, track/-casino owner R.D. Hubbard made a grandstand play in withdrawing his Las Cruces gambit. Never mind that Cruces was not warm to the move, and that the 2011 racing meet application for Ruidoso Downs had been filed well in advance of the election.

Another disingenuous tactic was the argument that the five-year BRT would "buy time" for Ruidoso to diversify economically. We have yet to hear anything new or of substance from those same voices. Perhaps it's still early.

Meanwhile, diversification efforts in the arts, education, film, high-altitude training and mountain biking have been launched piecemeal by other entities. Do we really need an economic development corporation seeking public funds to steer these efforts?

Statistics repeatedly show that high taxes inhibit economic growth. It may be comparing horses to mules, but notice the correlation between taxes and high unemployment in such states as Michigan, California and New Jersey.

How the BRT impacts Ruidoso as a tourist destination remains to be seen. Also un-known is the aftershock of a polarizing election. Resentment lingers.

The Ruidoso News hopes for eventual healing. We urge the Chamber of Commerce to embrace its mission of representing all businesses in this valley, not just the in-crowd with money and clout.

We hope the region diversifies into new, clean industries, and ask that the Ruidoso Valley Economic Development Corporation, if it is to exist at all, actually does something to justify its name.

We hope the track stays - it is part of our heritage - but that its arrogant sense of entitlement disappears. If it does stay, we want to see structural improvements and a more welcoming environment.

We advocate that the BRT's five-year sunset clause go dark after 2015, which would amount to a tax break.

Most of all, we remind Ruidoso that it cannot be treated as "Hubbardville" if it wants a viable future laced with confidence and self-esteem.

“Happy is the person who not only sings, but feels God's eye is on the sparrow, and knows He watches over me. To be simply ensconced in God is true joy.” - Alfred A. Montapert