hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Down in the Big City

I was down in Bellingham yesterday, checking out what people more in touch with the modern world were experiencing. Lots of stuff happening to them. Mostly, I was at Trader Joe's and in various medical offices, but even there and on my way to those theres, lots of stuff to notice.

At one place, they had a newspaper and I was amazed at how awkward it was to read something so big and floppy. Surely that would be much better on the I-Pad, and the office had wi-fi, so why not just get it in an easier format? But I stuck with it, in all its size, and discovered (amazing!) that the airlines find it too costly as well as ineffective to haul U.S. Air Marshals around in first class seats and would like to require them to fly in the cattle section of the aircraft. I think no comment is needed there, except to note that I would never have known about this if I had not chanced upon this newspaper in the big city.

Later in my travels, I found another piece of news that reminded me about Point Roberts. Last year, the fine city of Chicago sold the revenue for the next 75 years from its parking meters to a brokerage bank..Morgan Stanley?   JP Morgan?...which in turn sold the revenue stream to Abu Dhabi. So, now, if Chicago wants to make parking free during some city event, Abu Dhabi has to say they're OK with losing those parking revenues, which they might understandably be not willing to say. And now NYC is considering selling/leasing long-term their parking meter revenues.

I just had not grasped how thoroughly privatization had taken hold. I know about all the military stuff, but I assumed cities, counties, states were privatizing only actual services, like garbage collection, prisons and schools. This parking meter revenue sale though was something different: like banks selling and securitizing mortgages, cities were now selling revenue streams in order to fill their budget gaps.

Chicago got over a billion dollars for their parking meter quarters. NYC is thinking five billion dollars.  So what kind of revenue streams does Point Roberts have that we could be thinking about selling, leasing, securitizing, slicing and dicing, and then insuring to hedge the down side?  First thought that comes to my mind is the penny per gallon on the gas tax.  Since we have almost $400,000 now, in ten years it would be $4 million, no?  And with two-thirds of that amount, we could have a ferry to go back and forth to Bellingham or Blaine (a small ferry, and it would have to largely be paying its own way since we would have sold our revenues in advance).

The City Manager is going to be up in Point Roberts on Monday night to meet with us.  Maybe we need to get somebody there from Abu Dhabi to discuss leasing our revenue stream?  And if that doesn't work out, we could maybe sell library fines?  This kind of thinking is what comes from going to the big city, I'm afraid.