News From The Political Front Lines
"Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote."—William E. Simon
News about the most relevant and popular stories surrounding the world of politics. Election news, political analysis and a breakdown of interviews and debates from Republican, Democrat and Independent candidates, lawmakers and elected officials.
- Category: Politics
Columbus Unions Are Dead Wrong About GPS
Unions first grew in popularity during the Industrial Revolution when business owners worked their employees so hard that those employees needed to band together in order to improve working conditions, wages and overall employee safety. Unions essentially helped level the playing field so employers couldn't over work employees or put them in a dangerous environment. They made certain that there was a more fair balance between boss and worker. Unfortunately, unions would grow so powerful over time that they would sometimes engage in behavior that was counter productive to safety and oversight. A perfect example of this is the recent grievance filed by both police and fire unions in Columbus who adamantly are saying they refuse to accept any type of punishment based on data from GPS trackers that will be installed upon city vehicles.
The unwarranted complaint by the unions came shortly after the city of Columbus made the decision to equip GPS tracking devices on all marked police and fire automobiles. The people and elected officials of Columbus decided to move forward with a new GPS fleet management plan after research showed in concrete detail that GPS could improve maintenance, fuel efficiency, and route selection, all while preventing misconduct or personal use of city owned vehicles. In fact, cities all over the country are now using GPS trackers to not only improve operations but also to dramatically reduce unnecessary costs associated with misuse of vehicles.
Both the police and fire unions need to respect the decision made by city officials voted by the public. Clearly, the use of GPS trackers to monitor city vehicles is a measure designed to slash operating costs while improving efficiency. These type of management plans are used every single day in the private sector as businesses try to maximize fleet and employee efficiency. However, if those employees whined and complained they would likely be fired. Instead, Columbus police and fire unions want to hold the city hostage and make their own rules. It's simply a disgusting move, especially in tough economic times when reducing costs should be top priority.
Select city automobiles in Columbus, including fire department vehicles and police cruisers, have had GPS trackers installed upon them for more than a few years. However, the new GPS tracking devices proposed to be used on all Columbus fire and police automobiles will offer even more sophisticated hardware and monitoring that will record driver speeds, aggressive driving behaviors, vehicle idling, route selection and more all in real-time! Although the unions are stating they want to negotiate punishments for possible violations related to data acquired from GPS trackers, the grievances were filed on the heels of city officials investigating numerous firefighters documented using city vehicles in non-emergency situations at rates of speed over 100mph.
Currently, fire union contracts with the city of Columbus won't expire until the start of the 4th quarter in 2014. Police contracts will follow expiration two months later.
Columbus plans on installing GPS trackers on roughly 2,000 city vehicles, which is a little less than 50% of city vehicles. As the fleet tracking plan is evaluated and more funds become available it is only a matter of time before all city motor vehicles are equipped with tracking devices.
- Category: Politics
Maryland Lawmakers Against VMT Tax
Privacy advocates everywhere were upset when states such as Oregon began the process of implementing a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax to pay for rising road maintenance costs. The reason why privacy advocates are upset is because in order to calculate the miles traveled per vehicle tax GPS trackers would have to be used to determine historical driving activity. This would give government agencies not only access to mileage driving records but all driving activity and that is where the concern rests. Although many states are pursuing this method of taxation while many others are turning a simple blind eye, elected officials located in Carroll County Maryland are taking a radically different approach that has both their constituents and privacy advocates excited. This is because the officials are pushing a bill known as 682 that would essentially ban the state of Maryland from establishing any form of VMT tax that would equip GPS tracker devices upon automobiles.
Justin Ready, one of the republicans behind House Bill 682, explained that any form of VMT tax would essentially violate privacy rights of Marylanders, but if lawmakers were not proactive that the Department of Transportation could very likely introduce such a measure within the next ten years. Another concern Ready had was that some of the states looking to adopt a VMT program that uses GPS tracking would do so in lieu of current fuel taxes. Whereas Maryland officials wanted to have a VMT tax in addition to the current gas taxes motorists already pay at the pump.
Another proponent of HB 682 is Carroll County Commissioner Richard Rothschild who has been on record speaking about his concern over any program that uses GPS satellite technology to monitor not only mileage but potentially all vehicle traveling activity. Rothschild would go onto state that using GPS tracking devices as the tool to calculate driver mileage,
"constitutes a gross violation of [Marylanders] Fourth Amendment rights."
Ready also emphasized the concern Rothschild publicly stated by also explaining that VMT tax plans that call upon the use of GPS trackers could have much greater and far-reaching implications. It would have the potential to create a more Big Brother society where all Marylanders are under greater government surveillance. Ready would later explain that HB 682 would be instrumental in safeguarding the privacy rights of Marylanders by preventing the state from having endless power of how it chooses to monitor citizens because of the advanced and detailed information provided by real-time GPS tracking devices.
Do you believe VMT taxes would infringe on Fourth Amendment rights of Marylanders?
Would you be okay with your state placing a GPS tracker system on your automobile to record driving activity?
- Category: Politics
New Legislation Could Track Firearms With GPS
Representative Mary Flowers, a Democrat from the 31st District, has seen firsthand the impact of gun violence. She oversees a district in the Chicago area, one of the nations worst areas plagued by gun violence, and simply wants to see the killing stop. Fed up with the inability to accurately monitor firearms, Flowers announced this past weekend that she has every intention to introduce a bill to congress that will require all guns be either equipped or engineered with some form of GPS tracker system.
When interviewed about the potential new law Flowers explained that the GPS tracking technology would ideally function in the same method that cellular devices operate and provide locational data. This would likely mean a SIM card or GPS receiver be built into the firearm. She would go on to explain that such a system would allow law enforcement agencies to know where firearms are located and who has possession of them.
The passionate plea by the congresswoman for some solution to the gun violence which has plagued the Chicago area came shortly after Flowers attended the funeral for a 15-year-old girl who was a victim of gun violence. The story of victim Hadiya Pendleton has brought national attention to the increasingly serious problem of gun violence occurring in inner cities, especially in Chicago.
When speaking at a restaurant about the topic of gun control and gun violence, Flowers explained that some positive changes have already occurred such as Cook County banning what are known as straw purchases of firearms. This is basically when a individual proceeds through the proper legal channels to acquire a firearm then sells that firearm to a person who is not legal authorized to own such a weapon. Flowers recognizes that legislation banning straw purchases is a good first step to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but that it also isn't enough. That is why she is currently penning a law that would utilize the latest GPS tracking resources. She went on to say that the good guys with guns are not the problem and that through the use of a GPS tracker device it would be easier to find out who the bad guys were and where the guns are coming from.
No figures or information were provided on how such a program that uses GPS trackers to monitor guns would be implemented and/or paid for.
- Category: Politics
Increasing National Debt Is A Bad Plan
When was the last time you were told that getting into more credit card debt would be a good financial decision? Hopefully, you have never received that advice because it's probably one of the stupidest things one person could say to another person. Common sense states that accumulation of debt is not a good short or long term financial plan, but for some odd reason the political suits in Washington D.C. have felt the opposite. The debt ceiling has been raised numerous times over the past decade by both Republican (George W. Bush) and Democrat (Barack Obama) leadership. Basically what politicians have been doing is putting the country into trillions of dollars of high interest debt. Debt that has an impact on our economic decisions, foreign policy and currency strength, and the American people need to let their elected representatives now that enough is enough.
The current talk in Washington D.C. is focused on what has been coined the fiscal cliff. In order to avoid some government shutdowns, democrats are asking republicans to make a number of concessions, including another raise in the debt ceiling. This would allow the government to spend even more money that it does not have. Adding insult to injury, the democrats are using a variety of scare tactics suggesting that if the debt ceiling is not raised again (to the highest level of all-time) that social welfare programs could be in jeopardy. Food stamps, senior health plans and various other programs that millions of Americans depend on could all be used as bargaining chips in a political poker game where the only loser is the American people.
The government needs to stop being careless, scaring the American public by suggesting social welfare programs will be pinched if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Programs that should be the very last thing the government ever consider cutting in a fiscal emergency. What the government should cut are the numerous wasteful projects it spends millions and sometimes billions of dollars on annually such as floating outhouses for Oregon fisherman, development of a rolling style of beef jerky and creation of a robo-squirrel. If these ridiculous taxpayer funded projects are too important for politicians to eliminate then maybe congressmen should take a pay cut in their approximately $175,000 annual salaries.
- Category: Politics
Democrats Hold Control Of White House
Many of the Presidential polls had republican challenger Mitt Romney holding a slight lead over incumbent Barack Obama for weeks leading up to the Tuesday election. Although almost every poll was so close that they fell into the margin of error, most political analysts believed that the 2012 election would be one decided by the slimmest of margins. This is because there were numerous swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that literally were too close to call. However, when the votes were finally all casted and tabulated the election was a landslide victory for the incumbent, leading many political talking heads wondering what would be next for a GOP that was sucker punched in the gut.
President Obama had many more challenges facing him during his re-election campaign than he did before winning his first term. In 2008 the American people were drained by the war on terror, state of the economy and housing bubble. This gave the democrats a distinct advantage they did not have in 2004. With the Democratic Party united and behind candidate Obama and his message of change, Obama and Biden were able to easily secure the White House.
Securing the White House in 2008 was an easy task considering where the overall health of the economy was at during that time. Obama preached change and that was what the people wanted. Unfortunately, a stagnate economy over the course of the next four years became the main issue among voters. The people voted for change in 2008, but things were not much better in 2012 for Americans. This gave the GOP a perfect opportunity to regain control of the White House. However, they made one very critical mistake and that was the party heavily backing candidate Mitt Romney.