Wednesday, May 30, 2007

FAA CFII Rating Completed

SunState Aviation Campus

New Horizons

Check ride completion
Doors opening and closing
Opaque beginnings

Gadabout received his Instrument Flight Instructor Rating (CFII) today. The check ride had its moments when all could have fallen apart, resulting in a "do over," but somehow I was able to meet the minimum standards as set forth by the FAA. The check ride was fair and challenging, and I believe Mr Bill Leach is a "cut above" designated examiner.

My personal thanks go out to Brian, Jeff, Steve, Nancy, Mike, Kieth, Ivan and the entire staff at SunState Aviation (pictured above--don't let the small appearance fool you) for the personal one-on-one instruction and guidance.

Gadabout will be traveling back to Virginia Thursday morning to reflect on his future.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gadabout Hates Love Bugs

DDT, Where Art Thou?

Pesky little pest
Swarms of millions fly mating
Splat upon windshield

Gadabout is a bit freaked out by Florida insects. Kissimmee, Florida, is infested with Love Bugs--Plecia nearctica. Love Bugs are everywhere down here, and they certainly make a mess of things. Cars have literarily thousands of splatter marks on windshields, front bumpers and grills. I have not yet inspected my radiator, but won’t be surprised if it is gummed up.

Love Bugs appear to be harmless to humans. They don’t seem to bite, and the local population doesn’t make much mention of their presence. It’s just that they possess a science fiction like quality because of the magnitude of their numbers, and the fact that they fly in a constant state of mating. You rarely see a single Love Bug. It appears that once they are hatched (I guess hatching may not be correct since bugs do the egg/larvae/pupal routine) they immediately find a mate and get down to some serious business.

Harmless or not, Plecia nearcitica is a major nuisance to life and living. My Super 8 motel no-tell is infested, the Kissimmee airport is often swarmed by clouds of millions, and I have sat on many by accident. Gadabout is on the frontier, once again, keeping America informed.

Friday, May 25, 2007

$3.25 For A Gallon of Gas? Who Really Cares?

Gadabout doubts, very much, that current fuel costs are a hindrance to the economy. A critical look at the numbers does not add up to a crisis, as we are being told on the nightly news, and I am determined to expose this rouse.

First off, gasoline is cheaper today, adjusted for inflation, than previous historical highs. In other words, we have seen these prices before. Secondly, the ratio of fuel costs compared to household incomes is at near lows. This means we are making a lot more money today than at other times in the past when confronted with high gas prices, and therefore have extra funds available for discretionary spending. Lastly, we are driving vehicles that achieve greater fuel economy. Many may disagree with this last point, but if you take a look at your personal car ownership over the years, I think you’ll see my point.

Central to the points made above is the vivid, yet unnoticed, point that SUPPLIES are not in short demand. During the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970’s, the country was out of gas. There were long lines at the pump, closed gas stations and we were in a deep recession. It was a bad time in history. Conversely, today we have moderately high prices, but have plenty of supply. The country has a healthy strategic reserve, growing alternatives such as ethanol, and oil fields that are still ripe for harvesting. It has been said that we’ll run out of oxygen before the world runs out of oil. That point is up for debate.

If the average family consumes 30 gallons of gas a week, then that family is spending $30 per week more on gas today than last year. A carton of cigarettes costs over $30. A bottle of whiskey is $20. Two DVD’s at Target goes for over $30. Is there really a problem? Some very low income families may be faced with burdens if they were to lose $30 dollars of income—no doubt about it, but this is most likely a relatively small portion of the population.

Furthermore, many Americans live in big cities and rarely drive cars (if they even own a car)! There is a population trend back to urban and semi-urban areas occurring at this time in our history. The days of suburban lifestyles appears to have peaked, highlighting that many families are fatigued with long commutes and a lack of desired cultural activities. This trend will likely reduce fuel consumption in future years.

As far as holiday driving habits go, $3.25 per gallon gas will not affect planning. If a family plans a 1,500 mile round trip over an extended holiday weekend, 83 gallons would be burned (using an 18 mpg benchmark). That trip adds up to $270 for gas, and is only $83 dollars more than last year. If $83 is a showstopper for a vacation budget, it might be best to buy a case of beer, hotdogs, hamburgers, and just hangout at the homestead.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gadabout is Making Progress at SunState Aviation

The Staff

The Fleet

The Instructor--Brian

Gadabout has been deep in flight training for the past 5 days and is making progress. I have found myself at the point where I should have been regarding proficiency before arriving at my humble flight school--Sunstate.

Sunstate is a small flight school with about 20 aircraft, a talented staff and motivated students. I am proud to be a part of it. The school is one of the few true flight training facilities left in the country. 30 years ago you would find a Sunstate around every corner, doting the fruited plain. Today, there are only a handful left to carry on the traditions and hope that aviation brings. This is a dying industry and I am here today, experiencing the end. The adventure continues. I will report more.

OBTW, Brian, my instructor, is awesome.

Monday, May 21, 2007

First Flight--Kissimmee, Florida

Gadabout completed his first flight in a Cessna 172 today from KISM airport. The flight was completed after 1.2 hours, 2 touch and goes, 1 go around and a full stop. All aproaches were flown to runway 15. The flight focused on unusual attitude recovery, standard rate turns and precesion turns. The rust is thick, but I am studying hard and playing by the rules. More to come.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gadabout is in Kissimmee, FL

Gadabout drove to south Orlando, Kissimmee, from Norfolk, VA., today. The trip took 12 hours flat and was uneventful. I am staying in a flee bag super 8 motel, working on some aviation ratings and pondering the meaning of life. More to come!

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Piggy Bank Day—June 19, 2007

Economic Explosion

A penny and dime
Dropped in piggy bank
Converts to savings

Gadabout has devised a plan to pump up the national economy through increased personal savings. As you might already know, Americans don’t save much money—at least that is what we are led to believe. To counter this negative trend, Gadabout is announcing the first annual “National Piggy Bank Day” where Americans are encouraged to deposit their change from piggy banks, change jars and ashtrays into checking and savings accounts. Gadabout believes this will add liquidity and stimulus to the economy that can be utilized to upgrade our country’s infrastructure, increase funds available for lending to buy homes and automobiles, and pump up the savings rate for a healthy economic outlook.

As always, Gadabout has done the research, but let’s not get bogged down with details. Instead, just take my word on it and let’s start saving cash and propping up our economy for future generations. Most American households keep a change jar of some sort. This is a fact. In fact, most individuals keep an extensive amount of change that is usually converted to dollars at grocery stores, redeemed in the form of a cash card or hard dollars discounted via a 20% fee. Forget the cash cards and don’t be robbed of 20% just because it is too inconvenient to roll loose change. Many banks and credit unions have change counting machines installed in certain locations that are free of charge where deposits flow directly into established accounts.

How much “change” is out there? Well, a friend of mine keeps a big Tupperware container for his change and he recently cashed it in for over $1,000. That is real cash! I personally keep change in a metal scotch whiskey packaging container and it holds about $300. Parents often give their children piggy banks to learn the fine art of savings, and often there is mega bucks resting peacefully within its belly. How about ashtrays in cars? Just about everyone keeps change handy in ashtrays.

Gadabout estimates that there is about $25 in loose change for every man, woman and child in this country resting "in state" at any moment in time. This excludes coin collections and dollars stashed under the mattress. Since the population is over 300 million (excluding nonresidents), that amounts to $7.5 billion in cash available for immediate deposit. That is real money, folks!

If you want to teach children how to save take them to the bank and deposit that $$$ into a savings account. They will receive monthly statements and watch their savings grow with interest over time. This might motivate them to work, save and continue to invest. It is the right thing to do. Support National Piggy Bank Day this year, and invest in America.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Automobile Annual Inspections—Q & A with Gadabout

Gadabout recently received a question from a reader in Missouri concerning annual inspections for automobiles. The question was framed as a fairness issue for the poorer classes since inspections cost money, often result in untimely repairs and amount to a disproportionate tax. This is a very good topic, and I really am happy to assist here.

The bottom line for automobile inspections is that they should improve public safety through properly operating equipment; such as headlights, brake lights, tire ware etc. If a state inspection system is viable, effective, robust, reasonably priced and uncorrupted, then the program is doing its job as intended by the governing body. If it is in place merely for Profiteering on behalf of shady repair shops praying on the weak and uninformed, then the program is broken.

Gadabout first encountered an inspection requirement in Virginia several years ago and found it to be a nuisance since I generally kept my cars in tip-top operating condition. As time passed, I came to appreciate the requirement once I realized that most cars in Virginia seemed in pretty good shape. For the few times that I had malfunctioning lights and so forth, I found it convenient to have them replaced at reasonable prices and be off again after a short time in the shop. I don’t believe I have been ripped off during one of these inspections. That indicates to me that the system is working here in our great Commonwealth.

But inspections do take a toll on lower income families in many ways. First off, they cost money. Secondly, if repairs are mandated, then families are forced to pay for services or the car essentially losses it right to drive on the roadway system. Lastly, if the car is found not road worthy, then the lower income person may be forced to miss income opportunities since the car is not available for employment. A bad scene, indeed.

To assuage these financial burdens of consequence, both the public and private sectors have opportunities to assist. The public sector can reduce tax burdens in areas of vehicle registration, driver license renewals, and personal property tax (if any), as well as other programs to assist lower income groups. The private sector can assist with used tire charity programs, free repair networks and various gifting programs to help those in need.

Gadabout firmly believes automobile inspection programs (that are expertly managed) save lives, and should continue. When the program affects lower income groups, then it is up to the public sector (supported by the private sector to fill gaps) to assist when necessary. Gadabout says, “drive safe and keep the tires rotated!”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Be Patient

Gadabout asks for patience during this period of intense studying. I'll be back tomorrow to address concerns related to automobile safety inspections, the economy and internet access. Remember, you can always email Gadabout for special attention on any topic!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

“Record gas prices are great news for U.S.” Gadabout Jack Challenges This Opinion

This was the title of this Sunday’s Op Ed by Andres Oppenheimer, of the Miami Herald. Gadabout Jack says, Maybe, but Andres has the argument overly simplified and framed under a dim light. Andy (may I call you Andy?) believes that $4.00 per gallon gas is some sort of a magical number that once reached will magically shift consumer spending habits. He also asserts that if Americans don’t reduce their wasteful habits, we'll continue to grow evil “petro-dictators” like our fine friend Hugo Chavez. Andy's thesis is heavily weighted upon the increased numbers of trucks and SUV’s on the road compared to distant years.

While Gadabout firmly believes higher fuel costs will pressure consumption rates down, but he also believes Andres is off base and nonsensical. To make my argument clear let’s look at some nifty facts:


The driving population in America continues to grow. America is growing and adding to the population.

The light trucks and SUV’s of today are more fuel efficient than the automobiles of the past—by a wide margin.

The station wagons of the 60’s and 70’s were considered CARS.

America refuses to drill off its coasts and ANWR. Proportionately, our domestic production decreases because of this.

In today’s society, both spouses are active in the workplace, which increases fuel consumption.

American’s solve problems by throwing money at our problems, and we have lots of money.

Propositional Phrases (that indicate relationships):

Higher prices at the pump result in lower consumption.

Higher prices at the pump result in higher prices for commercial services.

Higher prices at the pump result in less consumer consumption in other areas.

Higher prices at the pump result in an increase in sales of high efficient autos.

Higher prices at the pump will increase pressure for higher domestic production.

Higher prices at the pump will increase demands for nuclear, coal, and alternative fuel sources.

Gadabout believes that evil petro-dictators will always be around, so long as there is a “valuable resource” controlled by a non democratic government. Someday, the world may very well be oil independent, but there will always be a “resource” controlled by a dictatorship, or other form of government controlled by very few. This is why America attempts to spread democracy around the world. So, Andy, is $4.00 gas really the motivator, or is it global governance structures? Have you been listening to phrases like “Free Trade” and such? I’ll spell it out for you, evil governments cause global problems.

This is what will happen as the price of fuel increases—we’ll have higher inflation! America will always get what it needs for prosperity and growth, because America is the strongest economy on the planet. As far as Chavez goes, the likes of him come and go. Chavez types leave dirty specks and smudges in the annals of time, and are soon forgotten after they die. America will figure out this oil question in due time. Start believing in yourself, America!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


He says that it's an art form--who am I to question his artistic touch. Gadabout has much to learn about blogging.

I wonder if he'll be First with this entry--that would be cool!

Special Note From Gadabout:

First, was first. I emailed Casimir, and he logged on and "was first." I am marking this as an historic event!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Aerials of Greensburg KS Tornado Destruction Raw Footage

Another Inconvenient Truth

Tornado’s anger
Tears sad swath of destruction
Last week’s boring news

In the news: Paris Hilton may not serve jail time because of overcrowding. The town of Greensburg, Kansas was hit by an EF5 tornado last week leaving 10 dead and an entire community wiped of the face of the earth. It was news for a day or two, but not any longer. Forget the fact that it was the most severe tornado to hit the country in eight years. Forget the fact that the tornado alert system was successful in saving hundreds of lives. Forget about an entire city left homeless. Let’s be concerned that the little slut, Paris Hilton, may not go to jail. Gadabout's heart goes out to the City of Greensburg.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Theories on Illegal Immigration

Gadabout has noticed that the national discussion on illegal immigration waxes and wanes depending on whether or not there is a big story carried by the major networks. Such was the case with Bill O’Reilly and the City of Virginia Beach after an unfortunate accident that left two young women dead after an alcohol related traffic accident caused by an illegal. Most of you are familiar with the case since it was elevated to the highest levels of visibility in our nightly television landscape. The event was tragic and it has served as fuel for both sides of the debate. For those vehemently opposed to the influx of migration of foreigners from the south, it demonstrates how out of hand the situation is and that tough action must be taken to stop the problem. Action, they say, is needed in the form of tougher laws, fences, increased resources and genuine enforcement. Those on the other side of the fence have framed the argument as an alcohol control issue. However you look at it, there might be a problem here. We have all heard this before, but what confounds the discussion these days is the nasty little fact that we have a war going on, and bad guys can enter the USA via that rather lengthy southern boarder.

Gadabout believes that this country does not posses the national resolve to stop illegal immigration since we have done little under very demanding circumstances. If after 9-11 and a continued war on terrorism could not broadly influence change, then it simply is not going to happen. Theories of “Disjointed Incrementalism” and “Punctuated Equilibrium” would support my position. Punctuated Equilibrium suggests that changes of significant magnitude only occur after a dynamic event. In the case of illegal immigration, 9-11 and a war could not produce significant change (other than rhetoric). During stable periods of time, Disjointed Incrementalism would support very small increments of change at lower levels of policy making. Supporting this position was the apparent failure of the recent May Day demonstrations. Even the illegal aliens, and those who support them, found little motivation to demonstrate. Why should they be motivated when there is little threat to their daily lives, security and safety?

Because we have generally moved past dynamic change periods related to the war on terror, and are shifting towards a relatively stable period of calm, it appears that little will be accomplished on immigration. Unless another tragedy (in the magnitude of 9-11) takes place in the very near future, public policy on this issue will most likely stall and our attention will be diverted and displaced towards domestic areas related to winding down the war and transforming the economy. Let’s keep a keen eye on this!

A final thought—if we become fortunate enough to have a rather large number of hard working, hard charging and ethical emigrants cross the boarder and BECOME BONIFED CITIZENS, won’t they pay taxes and help solve the Social Security mess? Gadabout is here for you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Keep The Change $$$

Involuntary Reaction

Venti half-caff, please
Cozy, smiling service
My hand tips a buck

Gadabout has been keeping his eye on American’s tipping habits these days, and has concluded that they are out of whack. You may, or may not, recall Steve Buscemi’s roll as Mr. Pink in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. “I don’t tip. You don’t tip at McDonald’s, so why should you tip here…” European’s have an entirely different tipping protocol than we do here in the States. They tip significantly less abroad, but that may be based upon the fact that servers there have a higher base pay than in America. But this is not a global discussion, so let’s stay within our own boarders.

Our tipping convention is generally 15-20% at restaurants based on pretax totals. That’s fine and everyone, for the most part, conforms. A $100 tab is rewarded with a $20 tip. Enough on that though because I really want to focus on coffee shops, like Starbucks.

The Starbucks experience is unique upon itself. You can go to McDonald’s and pay a buck for a cup of coffee and walk out the door without ever even considering offering a tip. It is not expected and there is really no way to offer it if you wanted to do so. Starbucks is different, though. At Starbucks you’ll often pay between $2.00 and $3.50 and most people drop all their change into the tip jar. Sometimes (well, a lot more than sometimes), customers will toss in a buck if the change is only a few cents. If the order is, say, $3.82, and a 5 dollar bill is used for payment, the happy American will usually feel guilty if only 18 cents is offered so will just keep the change and surrender the buck. That’s over a 25% tip for pouring a cup of coffee and sliding a scone into a paper bag.

Starbucks is a very unique tipping environment in this way, and I cannot find any other food service outlet that comes close in comparison. Gadabout tips like this at Starbucks too. I feel sort off guilty if I don’t. I mean, you have the young cuties serving up your favorite blend, smiling while they hand you the change and you just cannot help mindlessly making a superior offering. It is a momentary dream like trance wherein your voluntary decision making abilities are overcome by invisible forces. It is cozy, warm and happy. The music is calming, and the smiling faces silently suggest that we are special and important to all living beings on earth. Sure, keep the change!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Visit to DMV, and a Lesson in Patience

Two Hours of a Life

Crowded DMV
Take number and wait in line
Read the newspaper

Gadabout recently made a visit to his local DMV to apply for a Virginia Driver’s License. This particular DMV is capable of handling large volumes of customers. It is equipped with 16 service windows, a check in desk and a driver’s license area. It is a modern facility and has 162 chairs for those waiting for service. Good thing they have 162 chairs, because they need them. Sounds like an opening to a horror story, right? Well, sort of, but not really because it all worked out in the end and Gadabout learned another lesson in patience. Read on.

When I FIRST arrived, I was asked for proof of residency in the form of a power bill or the like. My automobile registration and insurance policy was insufficient, so I was directed to return home and bring in a billing statement. Gadabout fumed and pined the entire drive home to fetch the required documentation. Upon my return, I was given a number, a clipboard and documents to complete. Filling out the standard forms took about 5 minutes, and since half the 162 seats were occupied with other citizens I decided to read my newspaper. Glad I was ready for a wait. 30 minutes later I became curious as to the length of the wait ahead of me, so I made an inquiry with the security chick who seemed to be on the ball, and she was. She looked at my ticked and broke the news that I had about another 30 minutes to wait.

A DMV is a great place to observe humanity. Pure, naked humanity is on display at your local DMV everyday (excluding weekends and certain holidays, of course). There are the young grunge couples with facial piercings, anxious hard nosed business types rhythmically checking the time, young drifty blondes...the entire spectrum! I recommend bringing a camera and taking notes!

Remember the 16 service lines? Unfortunately, only 6 of them were manned and engaged in service. It would be nice if there was an estimated wait time display because just about everyone seemed confused. Anyway, I took the time to collect service time data and found that the average time a person takes to complete a transaction was 6 minutes—including vacant time between customers. With 81 people ahead of me, 6 operating service desks and an estimated 6 minute service time, my estimated wait period was calculated to be 81 minutes—so I went shopping at Target for a few minutes. Exactly 81 minutes after the time stamp on my ticket, my number (C225) was called, and I proceeded to desk 15. Gadabout was, again, right on the mark.

The lady who took care of me was very polite and professional. I applied for my license, registered to vote, had my picture taken, paid $28 and was out of there 15 minutes after first approaching the service desk!

Here is my point. If you are in a big hurry and DMV is busy, then ask when a light time is expected and come back. If you are not in a rush, ask what the time delay will be and either read a book or do some shopping during your waiting time. In any case, do your research ahead of time to avoid having to make a separate trip! Hey, it was a better experience than getting mugged and pistol whipped.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Third World Nations

Gadabout was recently asked about what defined a Third World Nation (TWN). More specifically, the question was asked as to whether or not Spain and Italy were categorized as TWNs. Well, I skirted around the issue in my response and in the end concluded that they were not.

Now, the following diatribe is not based upon ANY internet research since I wanted to keep to pure opinion, exclusive to any established fact on the subject. Why start being objective at this stage of the game—right?

First off, I don’t think defining countries by simple terms such as TWN, industrial, Western, etc. works any longer. Take Saudi Arabia for example: they have a fully integrated infrastructure including water, sewage, roads, airports, and power generation; an almost first rate military; a system of laws; and their own currency. Sounds good—right? Well, not really because they still hold public executions where they lop off heads in the streets for stuff like adultery. Come on! Saudis routinely run from their home of Mecca, leaving behind sacred rules and laws, to neighboring Bahrain where they can enjoy the excesses of booze and women. Gadabout doesn’t know where to slide Saudi Arabia into a conventional scale, so I’ll just have to develop a new scale!

My new Social Order and Utility National Desirability Scale (SOUNDS) will help future generations understand the world around them based upon my somewhat nonfactual matrixes. Each country will be judged upon 5 criteria using a familiar X-Y format, with corresponding grades in the form of numbers from 1 to 5. We’ll use Spain as an example.

1. Infrastructure (roads, water supply, electrical distribution, etc.)


5 Great
4 _________________X
1 Poor

Abundance 1---2---3---4---5

2. Night Life (restaurants, clubs, availability of alcohol, friendly police, etc.)

5 Great ____________X
1 Poor

Abundance 1---2---3---4---5

3. Rule of Law (No public executions for adultery, somewhat safe prisons, conditions, etc.)

5 Fair
4 ______________X
1 Unfair

Abundance 1---2---3---4---5

4. Safety and Cleanliness (disease, hospitals, peddlers, litter, etc)

5 Great
4 _________________X
1 Poor

Abundance 1---2---3---4---5

5. Historical Heritage and Recreation (Cool stuff to do and see, and it is accessible)

5 High ________________X
1 Low

Abundance 1---2---3---4---5

In this example, Spain scored very high. Each score within each individual matrix is multiplied and those scores are added together. The maximum score for any country is 125. How did Spain fare?

Infrastructure: 4 X 4 = 16
Night Life: 5 X 4 = 20
Rule of Law: 4 X 3 = 12
Safety and Cleanliness: 4 X 4 = 16
Historical and Recreational: 5 X 5 = 25

Total Score = 89 Not too bad! Remember, only Valhalla and Shangri-La rate a 125! Gadabout gives Spain a Green Light.

Use this system BEFORE you gadabout the world to avoid surprises, keep safe and be happy.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Water vs. Wine--Q & A

E. coli Bacteria

Invisible bug
Breeding in my H2O
I blow constant chunks

Gadabout recently received and email from one of his fans regarding E. Coli in water. After some research I found the exact spam email plastered all over the internet, but surprisingly it was not mentioned on (the world leader in uncovering internet lore). The form email follows:

Water Vs. Wine

It has been scientifically proven that if we drink 1
liter of water each day, at the end of the year we
would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of
Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria found in feces.

In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of Poo.
However, we do not run that risk when drinking wine
(or rum, whiskey, beer or other liquor) because
alcohol has to go through a purification process of
boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.



Ergo: It is better to drink wine and talk stupid than
to drink water and be full of crap.
There is no need to thank me for this valuable
information; I am doing it as a public service.

Now, Gadabout doesn't know beans about bacteria (except that you should always wash your hands after using the restroom), so I decided to do some simple math. If we did, indeed, consume 1 kilo (1 Kilo = 2.2 Pounds) per year in drinking water, that would equal 0.10 ounce of crap per day. Let's consider a few obvious facts:

1. 0.10 ounces of crap is most likely visible to the naked eye.
2. USA water supplies are most likely cleaner than most of the world's. Gadabout knows this from his travels.
3. We tend to drink lots of bottled water instead of tap water.
4. We cannot survive on wine alone.
5. I personally cannot taste crap in my drinking water from the tap.

So, in reply to "CD," I guess the answer is, "I don't know!" But we haven't died yet from drinking water, and I am certain that we ate and drank a lot worse on those nasty aircraft carriers over the years!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Real Estate Tax Rates

Gadabout has been paying attention to tax rate debates here in Virginia Beach, and other border communities of Chesapeake and Norfolk. John Moss, Chairman, Virginia Beach Taxpayer Alliance said, “A few people can make a difference,” at a rally this past Sunday. I think he is right since his efforts made the front page of the local rag. City leaders generally don’t like organized groups of citizens demanding change. Unfortunately, groups like Taxpayer Alliance are usually driven by overly simplistic agendas, such as “reduce the tax rate to 78 cents.” Okay, what do you want to give up? Cities cost a lot of cash to operate!

Let’s look at tax rates. Virginia Beach taxes residential real estate at around $1.00 per hundred dollars of assessed value. If you own $500,000 home, you’ll pay about $5,000 per year in real estate taxes. If the rate were reduced to 78 cents, the tax would be $3,900. Wow, that’s a whopping $1,100 in savings, which is equivalent to about 35 bottles of decent Scotch whisky.

What are we going to give up in return? City Managers have professional staffs that work out yearly budgets with a great deal of oversight. They factor future capital expenditures, growth patterns, infrastructure upgrades, public/private partnerships—all being driven by competing interests. Virginia Beach proudly boasts a great boardwalk—that cost $$$. I am glad it was not axed out of the budget 20 years ago to save a few bucks. The city has a pipeline that supplies water from Lake Gaston that allowed for growth which in turn increased property values. I am glad that city officials didn’t give up on the 25 year dream that became reality to save a few bucks. A new boat ramp was built 5 years ago near my house that has become a showcase of recreation and bay accessibility for boaters and beachgoers. I am thankful that this great facility was built, at great cost, for the enjoyment of all instead of saving a few bucks. A new traffic light was recently installed near my home allowing me to make left turns out of my neighborhood. I am certain that was not cheap! So, what are we going to give up?

My point here is that I believe challenges to city government spending is healthy in the since that the big guys know that citizens are looking over their shoulders, but simply demanding tax cuts on a yearly basis is myopic. We all want good roads, schools, libraries, police and fire forces, and reliable trash pick up. So the argument should not be general and wide in scope, but instead more project/program specific. Are consulting fees excessive? Are specific programs experiencing cost overruns? Are schools top performers? Gadabout believes we need to look at the details instead of marching around with dorky signs demanding across the board reductions.