The Other Shoe Keeps Dropping

The Other Shoe Keeps Dropping

PSL QVC Call Center to Close Port St Lucie seems to be the nexus of companies gone and companies going. Yesterday QVC landed yet another punch to the solar plexus of St Lucie announcing it will close its call center in St Lucie West, and about 800 people will lose their jobs.

QVC closing

QVC closing its doors in Port St Lucie

This time it has nothing to do with a failing company but the creative destruction of the free markets and innovation. QVC is a brand known to most if not all. For the few who don’t get out from under the rock too often QVC is a home shopping channel. QVC is a 24 hour commercial of clothes, jewelry, electronics, home goods and even food. It is the ultimate shopping experience while sitting on your couch in the comfort of your home. Pick up the phone and call in and your products are delivered to your door. Except that now fewer and fewer people are using the phone to talk anymore. QVC’s demographics have changed. More of us are using our phones not to make calls but to access the internet, text and use apps. QVC can sell more product faster through the innovation of automated systems than they can with humans on the end of a phone. Sure there will still be those that do not have computers or smart phones; do not feel comfortable with making financial transactions over the internet; and those who just need to ask someone they have never met and cannot see if they would look better in the green or the blue. But those numbers are dwindling and will continue to fall. While not surprising this comes as a shock all the same. Especially to the 800 or so affected. The expected closing is to be sometime early next year. Most will be kept on through the end of the year as QVC’s holiday rush starts in August. Enough for the news, today’s blog is not to parrot what you can read in the local paper. Here’s the story. In 2000, about 20% of all jobs in America were manufacturing or tied to manufacturing. Today, about 5% of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs. How do we lose 1% of manufacturing jobs per year? Many reasons but Americans see manufacturing as dirty, not environmentally friendly. The EPA a group of unelected bureaucrats get to write reams and reams of codes and regulations without regard to the cost of compliance. In the rooms where these laws are written there is no one there to stand up for the economic engine that funds the tax money the EPA runs on. In a CNET 2010 interview the CEO of Intel, Paul Otellini, said, “I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States.”   He continued to state that 90% of the additional cost was not labor but having to comply with taxes and regulations that other countries do not apply. The CNET article also quotes Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, saying the problem is not higher U.S. wages but antibusiness laws: “The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, a thousand blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn’t want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways.” So for everyone who says that companies flee our shores for cheap labor there you have two very successful CEO’s who paint a distinctly different picture. If you’re against the EPA you must want dirty air and dirty water, you want babies eating lead paint chips. At least that is the way the environmental left portrays you in the media. There must be a happy medium. Florida has gained over 800,000 jobs since December 2010. This number is more than what Gov. Rick Scott promised and ahead of schedule. So where are the jobs for St. Lucie? Why is St. Lucie is still near the top in the state with an unemployment rate at 6.0%? I went to look at the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie’s (EDC) website to see why our unemployment rate is above 6.0%.   I wanted to see some of the recent success stories. Under Accomplishments and Initiatives EDC has a new logo, and that they are starting a new Marketing Taskforce. Really? Is that it? The EDC has been at this for years. Lots of money in, little return on OUR investment. The EDC is a non-profit, maybe it should be forced to turn into a for-profit, then it will have to either produce or die. In today’s TCPalm right under the QVC article is a story about Midway Rd. being turned into a industrial corridor. Fort Pierce Mayor, Linda Hudson, said, “I would be supportive because it would increase our tax revenue. But I’m not blindly saying that I would support anything they build.” The article mentioned no follow up questions to Mayor Hudson. I would have asked about Ft. Pierce’s unemployment rate. I would have asked about the value of jobs, any jobs, to all of Hudson’s constituents at or below the poverty line. I would have asked Hudson if she knew what the promise of jobs means to graduation rates, or to a reduction to the crime rate. Mayor Hudson has a job, too many of her constituents do not. We can change our stars but we first must change our view to see them.

Money For Nothing

Money For Nothing

Money For Nothing   How would you like to earn 18% interest on your money? Great!

Civic Center Complex taxes remain unpaid while St Lucie County benefits.

Civic Center Complex taxes remain unpaid while St Lucie County benefits.

How would you like to earn 18% interest on money you don’t even have in the bank? Even better! How would you like to earn 18% interest on money you don’t even have? That would be the ultimate deal, money from nothing. Well for you or me that’s not going to happen but if you’re name is St. Lucie County, step on up. Your limo has arrived. Background (AKA the Boring Bits) When a property owner doesn’t pay his/her taxes the County’s tax collector convenes a tax certificate sale. You might have noticed the extra phone book that was delivered with your local paper a few weeks ago. That was a list of properties that still have outstanding tax debt from their 2014 tax bill. The public can purchase tax certificates via a bidding system that starts at 18%. You bid by stating the lowest interest rate you would be willing to accept in return for paying off someone’s tax debt. If you win you pay the taxes, and get a certificate that accrues interest at the winning bid rate. When the owner finally pays their taxes or sells the property they must first purchase the certificate back from you for the original amount of tax plus the accrued interest. The caveat here is that it can take years for you to get your money back. Meanwhile the County, Cities, School Board, Children’s Services Council, Fire District, and even those guys that spray for mosquitos get their needed funds from the tax certificate revenue. They don’t care who pays it, just that it gets paid. There is another facet of tax certificates and that is the tax sale. After you hold a tax certificate for 2 years you can force a tax sale. Either the owner ponies up what he owes to settle the taxes by a certain date or the property goes to the auction block. The proceeds of the auction pay off the tax certificates and the property changes hands. This is the simplified version. End of the boring bits, any questions? “What happens to certificates that do not get sold?” Good question, Grasshopper, and the basis for this article. Tax certificates that do not get sold get “struck off” to the County at an interest rate of 18%. “Oh, so the County buys them up and then makes 18% interest on the money?” Not quite. You see the County is not required to pay for the tax certificates, but they do make the 18% interest on nothing more than an accounting entry. “Then the County can force a tax sale and get the money owed to us.” Where’s the incentive to do so? They’re earning 18% interest on money they never had to invest. Meanwhile the Cities struggle with their budgets, vital services wind up being cut. The School Board and Children’s Services Council don’t get what is due them, and the children suffer. All while the County is sitting back and collecting 18% interest on nothing more than air. “Well, this can’t happen too often. How much money are we talking about?” St Lucie County has been acquiring tax certificates on the land surrounding the Port St Lucie Civic Center since 2010. To date they have amassed $13 Million in certificates. That’s $13 Million in unpaid taxes that would normally have gone to the City of Port St Lucie, School Board, Children’s Services Council, Fire District, and even those guys that spray for mosquitos. So while the County collects 18% everyone else, our children included, is held hostage and must suffer. “Who owes all this tax money?” Lily Zhong, owns the property. Some say she’s a developer, some say she’s a front for an EB-5 visa scam. The consensus is that she is unable to pay the taxes and clearly not able to develop the Civic Center Complex. “What now?” Wouldn’t it be nice if the County forced the sale of the property through the tax sale? Force Lily Zhong to “put up or shut up” and maybe place the property into the hands of developers who will actually develop the Civic Center Complex into a vibrant part of the City as it was originally envisioned. Properly developed the Civic Center Complex can turn into an active convention center. Bringing needed revenue into the City, encouraging redevelopment of the US1 corridor, and showcasing the City to potential employers. Meanwhile all this is on hold while the unpaid taxes mount up with no resolution anywhere in sight.   Tune into Part 2 –   Why the Civic Center Complex might never be sold or developed. Why?   Because THIS matters.  

Supv Elections to Stay Put

Supv Elections to Stay Put

Victory !!! County to SOE – “You’re staying put.”   “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke  

St Lucie says "NO" to Taj maGertrude

St Lucie says “NO” to Taj maGertrude

It was reported today that the Supervisor of Elections will not be getting her new  building built after all. St. Lucie County will negotiate an extension of the lease of the SOE’s current offices for another 3 to 5 years. We wrote about this back on May 22nd, and the story burned through the County like an August wildfire. Gertrude Walker wanted the County to build her a building she could call her very own. She wanted at least 25,000 square feet, at a cost that the county put at $8.5 million.   By comparison the building that QVC owns on Peacock Blvd in St Lucie West is just over 51,000 feet. QVC employs 800 people, the SOE employs 17 full time employees. Of course we must consider storage for the voting machines and equipment that is used 5 times every four years (2 general elections, 2 primary elections, and 1 presidential primary). I think that the county and SOE can find less expensive ways to store the equipment, than to pay way more than top dollar to construct it. More to the point, we won, the citizens won and I want to thank each and every one of you who shared my post, wrote an email, made a phone call, spoke directly to your county commissioner, and showed up. Without you these things get passed in darkness, without good people doing something government budgets balloon, borrowing increases. This isn’t about good and evil but about making sure government on all levels is responsive to its citizens. This proves that the power of the pen, that the power of a few concerned citizens, can make a difference. Once again from the editors of Because This Matters, thank you one and all.    

The Other Shoe Keeps Dropping

The Other Shoe Keeps Dropping

PSL QVC Call Center to Close

QVC closing

QVC closing its doors in Port St Lucie

Port St Lucie seems to be the nexus of companies gone and companies going. Yesterday QVC landed yet another punch to the solar plexus of St Lucie announcing it will close its call center in St Lucie West, and about 800 people will lose their jobs. This time it has nothing to do with a failing company but the creative destruction of the free markets and innovation. QVC is a brand known to most if not all. For the few who don’t get out from under the rock too often QVC is a home shopping channel. QVC is a 24 hour commercial of clothes, jewelry, electronics, home goods and even food. It is the ultimate shopping experience while sitting on your couch in the comfort of your home. Pick up the phone and call in and your products are delivered to your door. Except that now fewer and fewer people are using the phone to talk anymore. QVC’s demographics have changed. More of us are using our phones not to make calls but to access the internet, text and use apps. QVC can sell more product faster through the innovation of automated systems than they can with humans on the end of a phone. Sure there will still be those that do not have computers or smart phones; do not feel comfortable with making financial transactions over the internet; and those who just need to ask someone they have never met and cannot see if they would look better in the green or the blue. But those numbers are dwindling and will continue to fall. While not surprising this comes as a shock all the same. Especially to the 800 or so affected. The expected closing is to be sometime early next year. Most will be kept on through the end of the year as QVC’s holiday rush starts in August. Enough for the news, today’s blog is not to parrot what you can read in the local paper. Here’s the story. In 2000, about 20% of all jobs in America were manufacturing or tied to manufacturing. Today, about 5% of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs. How do we lose 1% of manufacturing jobs per year? Many reasons but Americans see manufacturing as dirty, not environmentally friendly. The EPA a group of unelected bureaucrats get to write reams and reams of codes and regulations without regard to the cost of compliance. In the rooms where these laws are written there is no one there to stand up for the economic engine that funds the tax money the EPA runs on. In a CNET 2010 interview the CEO of Intel, Paul Otellini, said, “I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States.”   He continued to state that 90% of the additional cost was not labor but having to comply with taxes and regulations that other countries do not apply. The CNET article also quotes Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, saying the problem is not higher U.S. wages but antibusiness laws: “The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, a thousand blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn’t want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways.” So for everyone who says that companies flee our shores for cheap labor there you have two very successful CEO’s who paint a distinctly different picture. If you’re against the EPA you must want dirty air and dirty water, you want babies eating lead paint chips. At least that is the way the environmental left portrays you in the media. There must be a happy medium. Florida has gained over 800,000 jobs since December 2010. This number is more than what Gov. Rick Scott promised and ahead of schedule. So where are the jobs for St. Lucie? Why is St. Lucie is still near the top in the state with an unemployment rate at 6.0%? I went to look at the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie’s (EDC) website to see why our unemployment rate is above 6.0%.   I wanted to see some of the recent success stories. Under Accomplishments and Initiatives EDC has a new logo, and that they are starting a new Marketing Taskforce. Really? Is that it? The EDC has been at this for years. Lots of money in, little return on OUR investment. The EDC is a non-profit, maybe it should be forced to turn into a for-profit, then it will have to either produce or die. In today’s TCPalm right under the QVC article is a story about Midway Rd. being turned into a industrial corridor. Fort Pierce Mayor, Linda Hudson, said, “I would be supportive because it would increase our tax revenue. But I’m not blindly saying that I would support anything they build.” The article mentioned no follow up questions to Mayor Hudson. I would have asked about Ft. Pierce’s unemployment rate. I would have asked about the value of jobs, any jobs, to all of Hudson’s constituents at or below the poverty line. I would have asked Hudson if she knew what the promise of jobs means to graduation rates, or to a reduction to the crime rate. Mayor Hudson has a job, too many of her constituents do not. We can change our stars but we first must change our view to see them.