Category Archives: Taxes

Hot Air

Help Wanted

So, the city’s hiring a bean counter to handle the 2015 upcoming budget. Acc’d’g to today’s Herald Times [paywall], Mayor Mark Kruzan et al have tabbed the Crowe Horvath accounting firm to slap a quick dough doc together in time for the City Council to review it in August.

Just to bring you abreast of the situ., City Controller Sue West took a powder in June after only a year and and half on the job. The Mayor characterized her leaving as a “life decision.” He said at the time that her absence wouldn’t affect the ongoing budget process because Deputy Controller Donna Slater, a CPA, was on hand and, per the M., “she doesn’t have that much less experience with budget preparation. We’re very fortunate to have Donna.”

Slater less than a week later threw her hands in the air and resigned as well. Eek.

CH Lanyard

Now Crowe Horvath senior manager Angie Steeno will draw up the draft budget. Slater (who’s staying on the job through Aug.) and city staffers already have been hard at work on it but the remaining work entails more than just dotting the i‘s. Crowe Horvath is a well-respected accounting firm with offices in 26 cities around the country. The outfit was started in 1942 by biz math geeks Fred P. Crowe Sr. and Cletus F. Chizek. By 1995, Crowe’d become one of the top 10 accounting firms, in terms of billing, in the US. After the usual series of  mergers and buyouts, Crowe Chizek became Crowe Horvath in 2008.

Steeno has previous experience with Bloomington: she handled some capital development issues for the Utilities Dept. back in 2011.

I dunno if it’s me, but ever since I arrived in this town in 2009, people entrusted with both the city and county’s cash have been dropping like flies. After learning about Amy Gertstein and Rhonda Foster’s alleged misuse of county credit cards and Justin Wykoff allegedly cutting himself sweetheart deals with Public Works contractors, I get the feeling local governmental finances are no more safe than if all B-town and Monroe County cash was simply parked on shelves in some photocopier room.


What with the potential for criminal charges, firings, and unexpected resignations, landing a job as a local pecuniary official might not be cause for celebration of late.

The mayor and the County Council promise us things are getting better. We’ll see.

Tyson Talks Tough

So, I’ve been saying this for years but who wants to listen to me? Tons o’folks listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson, though, especially those usually on my side of the fence who believe in climate science and evolution etc. Mother Jones has published a vid wherein the King of All Science tells the anti-GMO crowd, essentially, to take a Xanax. He explains:

I’m amazed how much rejection genetically modified foods are receiving from the public. It smacks of the fear factor that exists at every new, emergent science…. What most people don’t know — and they should — is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food. There are no wild, seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows…. You list all the fruit, and all the vegetables, and ask yourself, is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is, it’s not as large, it’s not as sweet, it’s not as juicy, and it has way more seeds in it. We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called artificial selection. That’s how we genetically modify things. So now we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden you’re gonna complain? …We are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs. I don’t have a problem with that because we’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. So chill out.

deGrasse Tyson

Fallen Idol?

Sorry, NdGT, there won’t be any chillin‘; the foodies who’ve seen this vid are having nervous breakdowns at this very moment trying to figure out what to think about you now.

Cuban Wisdom

Indiana University alum and billionaire Mark Cuban doesn’t like the way corporations are trying to get out of paying US taxes now. Big outfits like Walgreen’s are moving their HQs to foreign countries these days so’s they can dodge their responsibilities to help keep this holy land running. Cuban sez:

If I own stock in your company and you move offshore for tax reasons, I’m selling your stock.

When companies move offshore to save on taxes, you and I make up the tax shortfall elsewhere.

Looks like he learned a thing or two at the Kelley School.



Thursday, November 17, 2011


Too lazy to run and catch my #6 bus yesterday, I splurged and called for a cab.

The driver was fairly chatty. He mentioned the recent spate of what can only be described as “big city crimes.”

There have been, in the last few weeks, the random shooting of a middle-aged woman on Hallowe’en night, the killing of the young pizza delivery driver the weekend before last, a botched bank robbery and a successful one, and the murder of a clerk at an adult toy store the day before yesterday.

“I grew up here,” he said in that tell-tale South Central Indiana twang. “We used to leave our doors unlocked. Now, I don’t know.”

He shook his head sadly. He was about 60 or 65.

“Ya know what was a big crime when I was a kid? When somebody got arrested for drunk driving. That was the worst thing that happened. It sure was different back then.”

I added my bit. “And there were jobs, too.”

“Yeah. There were jobs. Now, nothing. The only thing left to do is make that meth. Y’now,” he said, “I think that’s what’s behind all this….” He gestured broadly in the direction of College Mall, as if there were felonies and atrocities being committed in every store even as we spoke.

“They go crazy on that meth,” he concluded.

He got a call for another pick up just as he was stopping to let me out me at The Book Corner. I watched him as he drove off, looking for that next buck. The world — or at least Bloomington — sure hasn’t turned out the way he figured it would.


My mother had a fetish for paying bills.

That sounds bizarre but it’s true. She grew up in the Great Depression. Her mother ran a little corner grocery in the Little Sicily neighborhood on the Near Northwest Side of Chicago.

Outfit Boss “Joe Batters” Accardo: The “Pride” Of Little Sicily

Ma’s ma paid her bills when the mood struck her. Vendors and suppliers would send burly guys with snap-brim caps pulled down low late at night to bang on the door of Ma’s girlhood home. They wanted their money.

Grandma would send Ma to answer the door. Grandma figured the burly guys’ hearts would melt at the sight of the curly haired little girl looking up at them with sad brown eyes.

Their hearts may indeed have melted. Still, they made sure Ma would convey a message to Grandma. “You make sure to tell yer mudder,” they said time and again, “d’at she gotta make good. You tell her d’at, y’hear me?”

Ma came to loathe answering the door. Even as a grown woman, when the doorbell would ring unexpectedly she’d straighten up and her eyes would dart, like a rabbit catching the scent of a dog.

Like every single parent in existence, she vowed to do things differently. As an adult she’d chomp at the bit waiting for the mailman to come. She wanted to pay her bills immediately.

At times, I thought she might run down Natchez Avenue in search of the mailman.

“Mister! Mister! Do You Have Any Bills For Me?”

She rarely wasted an opportunity to crow about her bill-paying acumen. Once in a while, she’d mention someone else who — horrors — wasn’t as “Johnny-on-the-spot,” in her words, as she was with creditors. She could never get over how Aunt Teresa kept Dr. Francona waiting for his payments. And in those more innocent days, Dr. Francona never wasted an opportunity to tell Ma that her sister was in arrears.

Ma paid cash for everything, too. She considered the use of checks and credit cards to be gaming the system. (You know what? She was right.)

It didn’t even matter if the bill was in error. She paid. She had a reputation and a streak to uphold. Once, the college that my older brother was attending billed my parents for a semester that he hadn’t taken.

Most people would have called the college bursar’s office and told the clerk to kiss their asses. Not Ma. She called and arranged a bill payment plan: Ten dollars a month until the books were clear. It took her 40 months to pay off the princely sum of $400 dollars (oh yeah, everything was different back then.)

When she mailed in her last payment, she included a note that said, “My bill is paid. I’m up to date.” She crowed about that, too, for years afterward, as if when the bursar’s clerk opened up the envelope, she slapped the side of her head and muttered, “Wow! That lady sure showed us.”

Ma and Dad would do their own taxes, natch. Neither had graduated from high school so the forms and the math presented quite the challenge. Nevertheless, they soldiered on. And I never — ever — remember them complaining about their taxes.

They must have figured, it’s the price we have to pay and that’s that.

Today, of course, the paying of taxes is seen as only slightly more acceptable than child molestation.

And this in a land that among the industrial nations of the Earth has just about the lowest tax rate.

The way people piss and moan about taxes, you’d think we were suffering under a tyrannical, confiscatory system (perhaps like that under the revered Republican icon, Dwight Eisenhower.)

“I’ll Take 91% Of Your Paycheck, Please. Thank You.”

I mention all this because the author Michael Lewis was on NPR this morning, talking about the financial problems in Greece. His new book is “Boomerang.” It tells of the Eurozone economic crisis.

Lewis told the interviewer that a core problem causing Greece’s woes is the fact that relatively few people pay the taxes that they owe and the Greek legal system doesn’t go after them.


And the GOP and the Me Party-ists cry like kindergarteners whenever the word tax is uttered.

Ma would have some simple advice for those who are allergic to raising taxes to help people in need and set the economy right. She’d have said, “Do what you’re supposed to do and pay your bills!”

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