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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tim Mullen Q&A

Today we have Tim Mullen, yet another candidate for Luzerne County Council, taking a whack at the very same questions I previously offered to two other candidates for that same newly-created body.

I'm not going to give him a big, big build-up, except to say that I first met him at last Summer's GasStock protest and informational event, I spoke at length with him and I was duly impressed by him.

Anyway, here are his responses to my proddings...

1. Why you? Why now? What differentiates you from the rest of the crowded field?

1. I follow the Libertarian principles of economic and individual freedoms for all. I am a man of unwavering principles. If something is going to take away that freedom, I am not going to vote for it plain and simple. The new Home Rule Charter is our last best chance to turn Luzerne County around, so it is crucial that those elected to the council are of the highest moral fiber and have the fortitude and vision to lead.


I am disgusted with the happenings of government at all levels from the courthouse to the White House. Nothing is as pitiful as the state of affairs here in Luzerne County. When I ran for state representative in the 120th district last year, I gave up every spare minute of my time for a year to knock on 12,000 doors, write to papers, and talk on radio about my message and of fiscal sanity. I and many of supporters do not want my message to fade away. The present situation within Luzerne County and the transition to the 11 member council is a next logical endeavor.


While other candidates are touting credentials and connections, I tell of my integrity and fortitude. Where other candidates tell you everything you want to hear, I'm the one that will tell you everything you don't want to hear. I do not owe anything to anybody. I will keep it that way.


2. What motivation is there to want to serve on a legislative body for very little pay and no benefits?

2. I have accomplished most of the things I've set out to do in my life. I have served my community as a registered nurse, and my country in the Army, although truthfully I always just looked at them both as jobs. I have made some good investments with my hard earned money and have the good fortune to be able to not have to work anywhere near as hard or as long as I have in the past. Last year I decided I wanted to do more for my community and wanted the most challenging task I could think of. I decided to run for state representative at that time in a large part out of concern for the taxpayer due to the mounting problems with state finances. The opportunity to serve our beleaguered county presented itself this year and I felt like I had to step up to the plate. Unlike the ploy others use in not accepting the pay, I will accept it. I will also give up my full-time status at my present employer to concentrate on the monumental task of transitioning to our new form of government. I do not expect it to be a part-time job. There is also much I need to learn about county government. I feel anything less on my behalf would be shortchanging the taxpayers of this county.


3. Last I knew, the debt service payment was 17.2% of the yearly budget. Any ideas on how we can significantly reduce our outstanding debts?

3. With a debt load well over three times the annual budget, I feel we are beyond the point of no return and bankruptcy would be the way to go. Remember that we now have record low interest rates, Rates have no where else to go but up from here. Could this county possibly function with an even greater percentage of revenues going to pay interest? I don't think so. Could the taxpayers take on an even greater burden? I won't let it happen in all my power. From what I understand about bankruptcy proceedings, union contracts could be voided and / or renegotiated, and layoffs could commence. Outside of bankruptcy I would like to see reductions in the county workforce through attrition ideally, at first. With a workforce one third larger than similar sized counties, there is a lot of dead weight to be removed. More than likely we will need layoffs to bring the situation quickly under control. There will be cuts in services no doubt. I would see to it that it is done in the most humane way possible.


4. How can our newly-created council help to restore the public’s shattered faith in our county government?

4. From what I have seen from most of the other candidates, there seems to be a genuine concern to do right by the people of Luzerne County. Being a part- time position with minimal pay is one of the plusses of this charter I feel. The term limits are a positive also, in that the candidates will know at some point in the near future their time is up. This will eliminate a lot of the wheeling and dealing career politicians do to remain in office. These reasons in and of themselves should give faith to the public. Transparency, and an anti-nepotism / code of ethics policy could go a long way to help restore the public's faith.


5. In your opinion, does a nationwide search for a county executive make more sense than electing a local person?

5. I would advocate a nationwide search for the county executive. We will need someone without bias to make decisions on a daily basis, especially when it comes to hiring and firing. I will not rule out local talent, but only if it can be proven beyond a shadow of doubt there is no conflict of interest.


6. Should public sector unions be allowed to strike?
7. What are your thoughts on the collecting bargaining rights of said unions?

6 &7. Franklin D. Roosevelt arguably one of the most pro-labor presidents in our country's history warned of the scourge public sector unions could become. Even he was appalled by the thought of any strike against the taxpayer. Do not misread me. Labor unions have done tremendous things over the years. If not for them we may be all working eighty hour work weeks starting at age thirteen. I have nothing at all against organizing the working man in the private sector. In such an environment both labor and management have something to gain, The unions work for a decent wage and benefits for the worker, and a content workforce is more productive for management. Should unions become too greedy, the company's bottom line could suffer, the company could fold, and everyone would become a loser. There is a self-correcting balance.


There is no place for public service unions because those that represent management (the taxpayer) have little or no skin in the game. For example, I know of school boards loaded with ex-teachers or relatives of teachers. Who's representing the taxpayers? No one, in fact, quite the opposite. Many political campaigns are bankrolled by the public sector unions. Who are those politicians going to represent? Not the taxpayer. I ran against an incumbent in my state representative race last year that received contributions from the PSEA. Who is she going to represent when push comes to shove? Not me. Taxpayers are viewed as something that needs to be fleeced regularly. Even those politicians that have no ties to the unions are subject to what I call the " spread the pain, concentrate the wealth effect". Taxpayers are taxed in small but ever increasing increments analogous to a frog in a pot of water. He feels nothing as the water is slowly heated to boiling. If the frog were simply tossed into the pot of boiling water, he would instinctively just jump out. When someone down the street loses their home to the property tax, you might not notice. When your neighbor loses their home to taxes you still may not care. When you lose your home it is too late. The concentrated wealth that is received by the public service unions and their members motivates a small but extremely powerful and vocal group, you need look no farther than the present situation in Wisconsin.

Ironically their rallying cry is " were for the working family". Nothing makes me more madder than a hornet in jar when I hear this. Just who do these so-called servants think is paying their usually overly lavish salaries and benefits? It's not the people that are not working. Taxpayer beware of any group touting themselves as being for the working man in this county council race. Its more of the same old same old. Since I am not going to eliminate public service unions single handedly any time soon, I will do everything I can to ensure that they bargain in good faith. If necessary I will escort a legion of public servants to the unemployment line before I see another taxpayer lose their home to property taxes in this county.

8. Would you be in favor of a clear-cut anti-nepotism policy?

8. I believe an anti- nepotism policy may help, but it will be hard to draw up and enforce. For example it could help in cases such as close relatives and business associations that are easy to discern. Who is to say that a county employee's second cousin twice removed is disqualified from a certain position?. What constitutes a friendship? I tell people nepotism is not an issue with me personally because I only have three relatives in the county, none of which are interested in working for the county, and I have no friends. The voter has the best solution by electing people of the highest moral fiber. I will go one step farther in advocating a third party candidate like myself or an Independent like Charlie Hatchko to keep tabs on the political shenanigans of the two establishment machines.


9. Since austerity seems to be the way of the world for the foreseeable future, would you be in favor of an across the board budget cut by a fixed percentage?

9. No, I would not approve across the board cuts by fixed percentages. I would approve of cuts as a percentage of the whole budget, but I would like to have the ability to remain flexible to fund departments or services that might be deemed too vital.


10. What should become of the Valley Crest property as well as the former juvenile detention facility? Moon Lake Park?

10. Just like in investing, sometimes you have to take your losses to see another day. The Valley Crest and juvenile detention facilities should be moth-balled to prevent a Hotel Sterling type of fiasco. Then the properties should be put up for sale to the highest bidder ASAP regardless of the price received. The revenue for a projected sale of Valley Crest should never have been included in any realistic budget. I will use of all my power to ensure budgets have no pie-in -sky revenue projections that leave the taxpayers on the hook for shortfalls.


As a Libertarian I don't like the idea of the county owning a park. As an environmentalist the last thing I would want is Moon Lake Park sold off to drillers or developers. I am concerned if the park is a drain on the county coffers. I have no problems with a user (ie. admission) fee, or an increase in the pool or camping fees to bring in park revenue. I would look into partnerships with civic groups such as the Sierra Club, Boy Scouts, etc. to help with the maintenance and / or staffing of the park. Those that need to do community service could also be used to staff or maintain the park.

11. If the makeup of the county council were to be dominated by one area of the county, do you think that the funding of capital projects could become provincial in nature?

11. There is a possibility that capital projects could become provincial in nature. First off in these cash strapped times I would advocate only those projects of the utmost urgency be funded. The voter once again will have to be responsible for making sure that their vote does not favor one geographic area of the county over another. The at-large elections were one reason that I had opposed this charter. This is another reason why voter selection of the right mix of candidates is crucial.


12. If you could fund one major project by executive fiat, what would it be?

12. I wouldn't. We can't afford to spend a nickel more . Given no choice and a reasonable amount of financing, I would like to see our history preserved at the old Huber Breaker / Ashley Planes site. A viable plan would have to be developed to ensure it would never become a burden to the county.


13. What’s your favorite color (trick question)?

13. This one is easy. Gold. I am a believer in the Austrian School of economics and a constitutionalist. I believe in a gold backed currency and have put my money where my mouth is. Prospecting is one of my hobbies and I don't travel anywhere without my gold pan and sluice box.

Wanna shake things up in a county know known for wholesale corruption?

Vote for the guy who is neither a Democrat, nor a Republican.

Thanks, Tim.

I'll be following your numbers on election night. Good Luck

Later

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling this guy doesn't know what he's talking about in answer to most of the questions. Voting for someone who is neither a D or an R is no assurance of a lack of corruption. Pass.