March 2010
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Building a Better Local Government by Matthew Falconer

Matt Falconer is a local developer in Orlando, Florida and the surrounding areas. In the not so distant past Florida had a fantastic business climate. We have year around good weather on a sand bar that was fantastic to build on and a fresh underground water (Avon Park and Osceola ) supply. We enjoyed low taxes and had the “mail box” economy where retirees with social security and retirement checks to spend littered the landscape. There was enough tourism to drive the locals crazy from the traffic congestion and we good people running the local governments. And then the craziness set in.

Bush was elected; 9-11 happened, the housing bubble came and burst. Ten years later we suddenly wake up to see our local government went nuts in the sea of tax revenues. In a nutshell local government has increased 100% to 300% depending on the government program and municipality. A complete orgy of wasteful spending and consumption.

Matthew Falconer Candidate for Orange County Mayor

All the cool kids in high school without the drive, ambition or brains to go to college have flocked to the high paying government jobs and joined the union. We all know the politically correct cool kids. The Ken and Barbie’s of yesteryear, so sweet, cute and so contemptuous of all us everyday people who work for a living. Ken is now working 58 days a year in the Orlando Fire Department making $90,000 a year and Barbie is the Mayor’s assistant making $117,000 a year with some bogus four year degree about political science or some such nonsense anyone with an IQ over 90 could achieve. Now the “in” crowd has migrated into government and they are using the police power of the state to extort monopoly profits from the working class slugs that would make mobster Tony Soprano blush with envy.

In the past a government worker might get $25,000 a year and a good vacation plan. Maybe $35,000 or at the most $50,000 for the super duper ones. Now that is all chump change to the cool people. These overpaid under worked too lazy to get a real college degree in a subject like engineering or economics are regularly pulling down $70,000 with benefits while the average taxpayer makes $38,000. Ken and Barbie found the easy way to live the high life and make the un cool kids their servants working the boring everyday jobs and taking their money using the power of government to steal for them. Good work if you can get it. It must be nice to be making $70,000 with 30 days vacation, the best medical and dental benefits with job security while the peasants suffer 12% official unemployment and unofficially 20% if you include all those illegal’s who up and left and the discouraged private sector productive workers.

Mr. Falconer has seen this disdain and arrogance from the other side as a person treated like a peasant by government. Government just getting bigger and more ridiculous by the day until he finally got fed up and did something about it. Instead of picking up the pitch fork and invading city hall which has always been the peasants’ recourse in the past against dysfunctional government he decided to use his wits. He formed a 30 member commission to look into the waste and abuse of our local government. Citizens who would donate their time and effort for the propose of building a better local government to protect and serve the people. The Taxpayer Budget Review Boards of Florida was formed in 2008 with the goal of improving local government and not overthrowing it.

Basically the committee looked at Orange County and the cities contained within. All together there are 14 governments with zigzagging jurisdictions inside Orange County. Orlando, Ocoee, Apopka, Oakland and so forth. All these local governments with their own police, fire, code enforcement, zoning and bureaucracies. All run to control the people and using the police powers of the state to extort the maximum revenue from the working stiffs trying to feed their families. The Ken and Barbie’s of the world along with the affirmative action and union crowds have transformed our local governments into mobster thugs looking to make a buck. Matt and his commission spent the better part of a year extracting financial information from these municipalities and developing strategies to reduce expenses. Here are his basic themes.

The first theme that occurs throughout the book over and over again is the waste in duplication of services. This means if city A is next to city B why not share resources? The equipment, manpower, facilities can be reduced and economies of scale can be achieved UP TO A POINT. There is no set point like the Laffer Curve has for excessive tax rates but the commission divided up Orange County into four service areas. Orange County has a population of a little over a million so setting up service zones around 250,000 seems reasonable. Of course local citizens will have to decide the size that best serves them. The point is that there are diminishing returns in government by getting too big. There is a loss of contact with the people and the services unresponsive to the needs of the public. Getting the perfect size and forming regional zones will be more of a art than science but the benefits is greater utilization of manpower, equipment and facilities saving the public a estimated 10% to 20% according to Mr. Falconer. This seems conservative to me. I suspect there are more savings especially in areas like fire protection, code enforcement and administrative staffing.

The second theme that runs throughout the book is technology, technology and technology. Basically placing as many function on the web as possible. Plans inspection and review, traffic tickets, code enforcement beefs, education on line to be accessed by the public. Basically putting as much as is possible on line for the average citizen to be able to access government services from the comfort of their home or business. One of the many examples is getting a permit for a billboard. Why do citizens have to fill out the paperwork and make a trip to the courthouse? Why not do it on line? The process would involve the normal information gathering as well as a question and answer session that the public may need to make sure the billboard is in compliance with construction codes. The same would apply to builders who submit plans on a regular basis. Why not have accounts where all updates and submittals can be handled on line instead of the regular trips to city hall? Creating a 21st century city hall will save both the public and local government valuable resources estimated again at a conservative 10% to 20%.

The third theme of the book is failure to utilize private services. The classic example is garbage pick up where the city service cost 40% more than the private service and occurs less frequently. There are other services that should be considered on a case by case basis. Building inspection, engineering, prisons, information technology, administration and many other aspects of government. The idea is to eliminate the functions outside the core functions of safety, justice, safety net, education and maintaining respect for the public and public property. Do we need public golf courses? The proposition is to eliminate all government functions outside the core functions and concentrate on delivering those services in an economical and responsive manner.

Education reform recommendations include Cyber Schools, Virtual Schools; Charter Schools, Smaller Schools of 50 to 100 students and Vouchers. A massive decentralization of the schools for the benefit of the public. There is nothing sadder and no sin greater than having our young loved ones sent to these huge government monopoly indoctrination centers of 3,000 to 6,000 students. Huge bastions of unionized teachers preaching progressive lockstep thinking to the poor peasant children that cannot escape to private schools. One recommendation that I would give would be to assign the money including transportation cost to the student and give the money to the principal to spend as he or she pleases. Let the principal budget for transportation, salaries, maintenance, administration, and overhead to Orange County at 445 West Amelia Street. Currently Orange County spends about $13,500 per student including capital projects and not including transportation cost. Put a voucher on each kid of say $8,000 + transportation cost and let the schools fight over the kids. We will see how eager the principals are to give any of that $8,000+ to 445 West Amelia Street and the bureaucracy. Education needs to be centered on the STUDENTS! If we give the power of the purse to the principals we will get more bang for the buck. Guaranteed.

It makes people feel good if they are spending on children and their education to go to first rate schools. It makes me feel horrible that all this money is being wasted on unions and bureaucracy that is designed more for indoctrination than education. I am saddened that my children and other children suffer this abuse from the government at such a young age.

There are more figures and recommendations and I would urge every local politician to read the book. It is amazing that Mr. Falconer and his volunteers have put together real numbers at the local level. It took the amazing 30 a lot of e-mails and conversations to get an overall view and idea of the waste in Orange County. When you’re taking about a few billion saving 20% is nothing to be taken lightly. Thank you Matt and the amazing 30 who put this book together.

Matt Falconer is a guy who did something constructive about the problem of fiscally insane government. He has identified problems and proposed concrete solutions to those problems. Mr. Falconer proposes an amendment to the Orange County charter. It contains language to eliminate duplicate services in nearby municipalities and other reorganization goals and realignments. Mr. Falconer is currently running for Orange County Mayor and has one of the most organized volunteer forces currently going from door to door spreading the government reform movement message. In local straw pools he finishes first by wide margins. I wish him the best and would vote for him if I could but currently reside in neighboring Seminole County.
A few amendments I would like to see to eliminate the gravy train for Ken and Barbie aka local government.

Amendment I. This would have to be statewide since implementation of it on a county level would give some merchants an unfair advantage for retail customers. The amendment would force all local taxes into three areas. The millage rate would be set at 1.65 or 2.00 or something agreed upon for residential and commercial real estate. No more two tier system of a fixed rate for the homeowner and a different rate for commercial and secondary homeowners. All other revenue collected must come from gas or sales tax so the public can see the true cost of local government every time they fill up or go to the store. No more hiding behind 100 fees for 100 different clients. This amendment would make all those thuggish behaviors of the union bureaucrats sniffing out more revenue disappear. Real simple like “All property tax rates shall be 1.65% and all remaining city and county revenues shall come from retail sales tax and or gasoline taxes.” Done. No need to be fancy or complex. I guarantee you the day this went into affect everyone would be REALLY interested in their local government and waste.

Amendment II. “No local worker can serve a city, county or state government agency longer than 12 years.” Real simple and it gets Ken and Barbie out of the government gravy train and into the private sector with all the other unwashed peasants looking to feed their families. The pension nightmare is ended. Lifelong government slugs are forced to get a real job. An elite class of union parasites are shown the door.
Just those two reforms would turn local governments upside down. Isaac Newton said “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well it’s time for the reaction to the insanity of our local governments.

I will help Matt Falconer, Todd Long, Franklin Perez, Karen Diebel and anyone else who exhibits a basic understanding of Austrian school economics and just plain respect for their fellow human beings. We have become a nation of governments plundering the populations they are reported to be serving. It happens at the top and has infected even the lowers levels of government. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem. I could not tell you Mr. Falconer’s party affiliation before he declared his candidacy and I could care less. The man understands government is a dead weight on society that is dragging down our living standards. And let me be even more frank. When the government starts causing me to be unable to feed and protect my family I WILL grab that pitchfork and get some payback.

On another level this is so unfair for one class of privileged Barbie’s and Kens to be taking money from another class of people who are productive members of society. Government needs to remember they produce NOTHING! Why on earth should government workers be paid more than productive members of society? Most of them are nice good looking people that can sit around five days a week looking busy and pretty. Handsome firefighters and policemen who work 58 days a year with lots of time to work out and be buff for the wives. So far removed from the rest of society working at Home Depot or on a construction site producing goods and services that benefit the people.

It reminds me of high school and the reunion 30 years later. The dumb guys who were in the “good” crowd all went into the government or union jobs. Very few of them had college degrees but they all had nice wives and nice pensions. The smart ones who went to college became chemist, doctors and contractors. And then there were the same poor saps that mostly didn’t go to college but were not cool enough to get that government job. Struggling to get by. It was like nothing had changed in 30 years. The “in” crowd was hogging all the money and fun plundering and pillaging the working class crowd only instead of using social circles and school functions they used the police power of the state to set up tax breaks for their industries and generate monopoly revenues for the unionized workers.

Most of the people like me who see the coming financial collapse and most likely break up of the United States are going to give the elections of 2010 and 2012 a chance. We owe it to the good decent people like Matt Falconer who played by the rules all his life and wants to fight government with peaceful legal means. Make no mistake there is a smoldering undercurrent to America just like it was 1858. The sides are lined up. Progressive verses conservative. There is very little middle ground. It will not take much to light that flame and when it is lit there is a huge amount of fuel just waiting to burn. Give it your best shot Matt. I and others with the education and military background will be waiting in the wings. Simper fi or was that Go Blue!

38 Responses to Building a Better Local Government by Matthew Falconer

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  • A flat tax of 11% of ALL Americans would bring in more money to the government that they are bringing in today – but of course we would tick off a ton of liberals who now reside in their parents’ basements. But at this point if something is not done to reign in spending and taxes we will all be living there.

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  • Matthew Falconer for Orange County Mayor

    Jacobs Press Release

    This past week Teresa Jacobs has attacked our mutual opponent, Bill Segal, for failing to disclose his business partners as required from a new rule in Orange County. While not defending Segal in any way, I am extremely disappointed the self-anointed ethics queen has chosen a smear campaign over a debate on policy.

    It is unlikely Jacobs or the other candidates will debate policy because they all have a virtually identical voting record on major spending projects.

    All of my opponents voted to give a billionaire a $600 million arena. Mildred Fernandez not only voted for the arena she had a fund raiser at the home of Magic CEO Alex Martins. That should bother taxpayers.

    All of my opponents voted to give one company $300 million to bring 150 jobs to Orlando. We are still waiting for the promised “jobs bonanza” from that corporate welfare effort. And all of my opponents support billions in commuter and high speed rail, which we the people have rejected at the polls.

    While I was protesting massive tax increases and wasteful government spending my opponent Ms. Jacobs was employed at a government university in “government studies.” She left there to work for the Florida Department of Transportation where she lobbied for the approval of commuter and high speed rail. After leaving FDOT she went to work for an engineer who does work with the FDOT to “gain approval of their projects.” It should concern voters Ms. Jacobs approved projects desired by FDOT, took a job with FDOT, and then took a job with a vendor of FDOT.

    If there is an ethics investigate let’s start with the one person who has used her power to feather her own nest; Teresa Jacobs.

    4201 VINELAND ROAD, I-14, ORLANDO, FL 32811

    (407) 650-9100

    Political Advertisement Paid for and approved by Matthew Falconer campaign for Orange County Mayor, Non-partisan

    Candidate for Orange County Mayor, Non-partisan

    Political advertisement paid for and Approved by Matthew Falconer for Orange County Mayor

    4201 Vineland Road, I-14, Orlando, FL 32811

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  • You lie, and have no Idea what you are talking about. I am a fireman and approve this message!!!!

  • IMG[]IMG

    Inappropriate and inflamatory, Mark, from Winter Springs, Florida. Mr. Falconer does not support your views.

  • Why in the hell would I write a blog to gain Mr. Falconer’s approval? And who are you? Do I need his approval?

  • Because, Mark, you are in desperate need of approval. Tell me why you feel the need to insult the careers of others? Are you unhappy with your own path? Did you settle for a “practical” job rather than persuing your dreams? Did you trade your passions for money somewhere along the way and now are angry at those who didn’t?

  • You need to be more specific about the insult. As for me for most of my life I did what I enjoyed and was fortunate to have a lot of freedom in my jobs. I valued personal freedom in my job selections. Of course there were stinkers in there also.

    What pisses me off are politicians and government ripping me off and screwing up this country. I have a masters in economics. I teach economics at the university level. I know bull shit when I see it. I call it like it is because if I and others like me don’t nothing will change.

  • Economics….what every little boy dreams of doing! Seriously, Mark- and I retract the insult- what did you always dream of being? This is a judgement free zone. Dont be afraid to be honest with yourself.
    I see that you are passionate about your chosen battle, this is good. I hope that you can learn to let go of your anger and embrace your calling with a sense of purpose, the people need you to continue to hold our representitives accountable.
    You are not so different from those Firemen whom you chastise. You are willing to sacrifice your time and reputation to protect the citizen’s interests, much as they are willing to sacrifice their lives and health to protect you.

  • I like police and firemen but in the right quantities and at the right pay scale that reflects the surrounding community pay scale. I don’t think a firefighter should get more pay than a iron worker. Both have dangerous jobs and both contribute to the community.

    There was a excellent blog in Ludwig von Misis about towards the end of the Roman Empire government workers were paid twice as much as workers. Of course inflation and the eventual collapse of the empire resulted from the unsustainable tax burden. Modern day equivalents would be the Argentina financial collapses (plural). What Falconer points out that the current system is unsustainable is true and we have lots of examples from history and even Greece today to show us the folly of over sized government and excessive pay and pensions.

    Sorry if the attacks were more personal that you liked. I do get emotional and it spills over into my writing.

  • Very good journey and experience! Your site is very useful for me .I bookmarked your site!

  • For someone who appears to be so polished and educated, you are quite nieve to the issues that you speak about. I am a Professional Firefighter in Florida, and if you are going to speak to things such as salaries and what is or is not “deserved” then do some research. You sound like the last kid in school picked for sports and have had a grudge and chip on your shoulder ever since. Did you ever want to be a firefighter and was unable to get hired on, or pass the physical requirements needed? You are definitely entitled to your opinion, and since this is a free speech forum, I am also entitled to mine. So let me educate you. We (the firefighters) do not sit around the station all day, watching TV and working out to…as you put it, “look buff for our wives” Due to the physical demands of the job, firefighters exercise. Wouldn’t it be better to have a firefighter that is in shape pulling you or your loved one out of harms way? Or would you prefer someone who is out of shape and unable to save you or your loved one coming to help. Fireman also are not some dumb, uneducated, high school dropouts that couldn’t do any better by getting a “normal” job. I would put your education up against some of our duplicate masters degrees personal that we have. You followed what you wanted to do by becoming an economist, and nobody is faulting you for that. So dont sit there on some pedestal condeming those that have actually gone through the extensive training, schooling, and effort to become a fireman because that was their dream. As far as producing NOTHING for the community. In my dept. we do public safety presentations, install free smoke detectors, go to schools to give fire safety presentations, hand out candy on Halloween, volunteer at various burn camp foundations, cook food at festivals, and are very involved in the community that we serve. The fire service is not all glam and glory. We love your community, and we love serving our citizens. Why else would we deal with people at their worse, unless there was a passion to help. Next time do us a favor and know what you saying before you speak against it. Thank you for your time.

  • Well back in the day I was a varsity athlete and boxer in the military, but we will let that one pass.

    I understand firefighters need to be physical but the pay is out of line with say a iron worker who puts his life on the line everyday and must be in top physical and mental condition. As Matt shows there is a surplus of firefighters and they make too much money. I think firefighters should make about the equivalent pay as rod busters or iron workers who’s jobs are extremely physically demanding and just as or more dangerous.

    I understand there is mental preparation and training to firefighting. Have you built a building? Have you looked at a set of plans for say Sun Trust or City Hall? The foremen and superintendents for these projects deal with complexity every single day. As with your job if they screw up it will cost money or in a worse case scenario lives.

    Now imagine if you will putting your life and reputation on the line every day of the week in the brutal 95 degree heat. Sometimes 60 to 85 hours a week. Week after week. Everyday 20, 40, 70 feet off the ground working constantly, continually checking figures, calculations, measurements, engineering drawings, plans, request for further information, inspections, meeting, schedules, deadlines, accidents, paperwork, safety meetings, testing and supervising your workers.

    This is reality in the private sector. Now compare that with handing out candy at Halloween or doing a school presentation.

    No disrespect but most government workers have no clue what the private sector on the front lines like construction is like or even remotely like. And yes they are grossly overpaid for what they do.

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