Grassroot Perspective – Aug. 1, 2003-Why Health Care Reform Can't Wait; Loony Lawsuit Alert: California AG Targets Octogenarians; Zoning, Smart Growth and Regulatory Taxation

article top

“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Why Health Care Reform Can’t Wait

By SBSC Chairman Karen Kerrigan, as seen in American City Business

Reforms to help lower health insurance premiums are critical to economic
recovery and growth. After all, how much can businesses really grow when
a sizable chunk of net profits continue to go towards ever-increasing
health insurance costs?

A report distributed by the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is
a wake up call for Congress to put health care reform on the legislative
fast-track. The report, a summary of a roundtable discussion recently
held by the NWBC, clearly shows how higher health care costs are denying
business owners of precious capital that could be used for upgrading
equipment or hiring more people..

Though no one has quantified such costs, the macroeconomic drag of
skyrocketing health insurance combined with the time CEOs spend on
managing and maintaining this benefit surely must be staggering in terms
of its impact on the productivity and growth of small and mid-size

President Bush seems keenly aware of the need to tame health insurance
costs and wants Congress to do something about it. During a meeting I
attended with the President in mid-April, he expressed the importance of
giving small businesses more affordable options in health insurance to
allow them to use their precious resources more productively..

– Loony Lawsuit Alert: California AG Targets Octogenarians

Apparently bankrupting state coffers and gouging its citizens through
tax increases isn’t enough anymore for state-wide elected officials in
California. Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office has now taken it
upon itself to sue Bob Heidinger (who is 87, has Alzheimer’s and is
blind in one eye) and his wife Inez — who is 83, has bone marrow cancer
and also needs shoulder surgery.

What crime did they allegedly commit? They owned a dry cleaning
business 50 years ago and ”’sold it”’ 30 years ago.

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, “Citing the federal
Superfund law enacted in 1980 to attack corporate and criminal
polluters, Lockyer’s office filed two lawsuits against the former dry
cleaners and others in October in federal District Court in Sacramento.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control says it has spent
more than $6 million testing, treating and cleaning the contaminated
water in Chico and that polluters must pay the costs.

Also named in the suit are the city of Chico, whose sewers in the
contaminated area are cracked and leaking, and Paul Tullius, a
57-year-old retired Air Force pilot, and his wife, Vicki, who own a
warehouse that last housed a dry cleaner in 1972 — 16 years before they
bought the building without knowing its entire history.” (emphasis

To read the full story, please click here:

Above articles are quoted from Small Business Survival Committee, Weekly
Briefing on Business and Government May 29, 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Zoning, Smart Growth and Regulatory Taxation

By Steven B. Garrison

In a new book available from Public Interest Institute titled POLITICS,
TAXATION, AND THE RULE OF LAW, Samuel R. Staley of the Reason Public Policy Institute, writes in the eleventh chapter about proper zoning practices.

The debate over urban sprawl and Smart-Growth has thrust land-use
planning to the forefront of public debate in the United States. State
Legislatures throughout the nation are considering sweeping new laws
that could radically change the nature of land development. In some
states, such as Florida and Oregon, these laws are explicitly top-down –
the state sets goals and objectives and local governments are expected
to toe the line. More recently, Wisconsin enacted Smart-Growth
legislation that included the design of a model zoning ordinance that
all large cities would be required to adopt as a way to combat urban

Staley examines Smart-Growth planning reforms at the state and local
level through the lens of public finance and economics. He uses an
economic perspective of taxation to understand both the political
motivations behind support for Smart-Growth initiatives and the
potential impacts of imposing some of the new wave of growth controls.
Smart-Growth has emerged as a regulatory mechanism local and regional
governments use to redistribute wealth within cities and regions.
Indeed, the growth management movement is, in many respects, distinctly
21st century in its character and impacts, a product of an affluent
society well versed in the use of government to accomplish objectives
and maximize personal gain.

Zoning, not surprisingly, has become the tool of choice for executing
this redistribution of wealth. As the most pervasive planning tool in
the United States, zoning has the benefit of widespread acceptance and
familiarity in state and local politics. In fact, despite its inherently
centralized approach to using land and regulating markets, zoning
receives bipartisan support. Conservatives and liberals use it when they
believe it serves their interests, whether preventing development of a
neighbor’s property or attempting to script a centrally planned vision of their community. Ironically, zoning and planning have received some of their strongest support on the national level during Republican Presidencies:

*The Standard City Planning Enabling Act was published in 1928 under
the auspices of U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary and future President Herbert Hoover.

*During the Eisenhower Administration, the Housing Act of 1954 created
the basic features of the urban-renewal program and required these
projects to be part of a comprehensive city plan. Title 1, Section 701
provided federal funding for planning and creating “vast employment
opportunities for planners” as well as seeding “a major private urban
development consulting industry in America.”

Above article is quoted from Public Interest Institute at Iowa Wesleyan
College, Institute Brief June 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quotes)”

“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power
to make you commit injustices.” — Voltaire

“For in the last analysis, the thought and conscience of the individual
man are the only thought and conscience there are…. There is, in
literal truth, no public mind: there are only the minds of the persons
composing the public. There is no public conscience; there are only
their several consciences. Dry there functions up, or bind the life out
of them, and all the mental and moral life of the public is stopped at
its source.” — William Ernest Hocking

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, 1314 S. King Street, Suite 1163, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone/fax is 808-591-9193, cell phone is 808-864-1776. Send him an email at:”’ ”’See the Web site at:”’