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Friday, January 19, 2007

Bury The Utility Lines

Tens of thousands residents of Oklahoma & Missouri remain without power after last weekend's ice storm.

Another storm threatens these same areas this weekend (the Kansas City Metro should see 3-4 inches of snow).

Untold millions of dollars have been lost by the stricken utility customers. The utilities themselves will bear a huge cost to restore services.

Overhead utility lines are succeptable to many kinds of severe weather and accidents. Trees along powerline routes have to be trimmed or removed. Not to mention a spaghetti of utility wires are simply unsightly.

Ask St. Louis metro utilities how much three severe storms since last summer have cost them. My bet is that those utilities could have buried hundreds of miles of lines for what they have spent to restore the downed ones.

With buried lines, weather-related problems and their accompanying disruptions are virtually eliminated. The public then needs not be concerned with downed lines as the lines are already down - underground.

The cost of the initial burial of the lines could virtually be recouped after a few severe storms move through a utility's service area.

Granted, the cost of burying utility lines would be prohibitive in lesser-populated and rural areas.

However there is no excuse for utilities serving large cities to not strongly consider and/or implement a program of burying their service lines.

Live Holed-Up & Die

Holed-Up Tax Protester, Wife Convicted

Jan 18, 5:54 PM (ET) By PHILIP ELLIOTT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A man who has holed up with armed supporters in his cement-walled house for most of his tax evasion trial was found guilty Thursday, along with his wife, of failing to pay federal income taxes for a decade.

Ed Brown has said he will defend himself against capture if necessary.

U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said Thursday that members of his staff continued talking by telephone with Brown and had no plans to confront him.

Ed Brown's wife, Elaine, a dentist who earned most of the couple's income, has been staying with a son in Massachusetts and attended the trial.

The Browns, of Plainfield, contend the law does not require them to pay federal income tax, while the government says the Browns owe more than $625,000. The Browns stopped paying income taxes in 1996 and stopped filing returns in 1998, a prosecutor said. They could each face decades in prison.

A jury decided they employed a scheme to hide their income and avoid taxes in part by using postal money orders in increments just below the reporting threshold to pay for their hilltop compound. Courts have routinely rejected similar attempts by other taxpayers.

Marshals now have to consider how to seize the Browns' assets. The jury was deliberating whether the Browns should lose their home.

"We've established a good line of communication, all of our conversations have been amicable and friendly, and that's how we expect they will continue," Monier said.

Ed Brown stopped attending court midway through the trial, which began Jan. 9. His wife remains out on bail pending the couple's April 24 sentencing; she has said she loves her husband, but that his way of handling the case is not hers.

A man who answered the telephone at the Browns' house Thursday afternoon said Ed Brown could not come to the phone, but had expected a guilty verdict.

"He's here at the house, and he's not leaving of his own free will," said the man, who identified himself only as Bernie.

Ed Brown, a retired exterminator, has said he stayed home to protest a system that had already convicted him.

"Most Americans would cower and cringe and raise their hands and surrender like a good little slave," he told reporters at his home this week.

"I won't. Under no circumstances. I do not tolerate cowardliness, oppression, bulliness, and I certainly don't tolerate a federal agency that has absolutely zero jurisdiction in my state, never mind in my county, in my town."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another Bullet for Bannister

Today, a new taxpayer-supported (TIF's) Wal-Mart opened on the site of the old Blue Ridge Mall at 43rd Street & Sterling.

By the time this is posted (6 pm), Wal-Mart closes their store in the 9000 block of Hillcrest, caddy-corner from the ghost-like Bannister Mall.

That stretch of Hillcrest from 87th Street to Bannister now resembles the aftermath of a neutron bomb explosion.

I propose renaming that stretch of Hillcrest after Chuck Eddy, the KC councilman who would want to be mayor.

That way people would be constantly reminded of just how effective Eddy was in keeping what once was one of the city's most bustling retail areas from becoming a ghost town.