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Donation Meters

The City of Lawrence installed Donation Meters last year.


Donation Meter located on the East side of the 800 block of Massachusetts Street.

Donation Meter located on the East side of the 800 block of Massachusetts Street. by Benjamin Roberts


They seem to be working.


At least for this guy ...


Lawrence Donation Meters provide ambiance for a panhandler.

Lawrence Donation Meters provide ambiance for a panhandler. by Benjamin Roberts



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DouGLASS County Land Deal

Douglas County Commissioners have made a tentative offer to purchase land from PDO Investors, an LLC led by Steve Glass. The county has offered $1,196,000; a whopping $35,176 per acre.

Glass will prove himself to be a businessman extraordinaire should this transaction be completed.

First, this land neighbors the parcel that Glass sold to Lawrence Public Schools two years ago. That 76 acres sold for $1.73 million ($22,763 per acre). During a down economy and a depressed real estate market where many are selling at a loss, Glass seems to have managed to increase the value of his unimproved land by 54%.

Second, Glass appears to be the only property owner who has cut a deal where the County is making an offer above and beyond the County's appraisal value. According to the letter of intent, "Douglas County will offer to purchase the two adjacent properties located in the Franklin Business Park at the 2011 county-appraised values..."

Jerry Taylor will be offered $572,720.

Printing Solutions will be offered $250,000.

Glass and PDO are being offered $1,196,00 for property that had an 2011 county-appraisal of $7,160.

Should the County decide to continue with this plan the commissioners would better serve their constituents by making Glass the same deal as the other property owners - offer the 2011 county-appraisal.

An offer by the county that is 54% higher than recent sales, an offer that shows special consideration that other owners did not receive - frankly - is not as transparent as glass. Or, is it?


Editing Note: The above images may be used as hyperlinks to the actual documents. The tax year will need to be chosen in order to view the document.



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Corrected Lawrence Public Library Rendering

Improved for Accuracy: The New Lawrence Public Library Rendering

Improved for Accuracy: The New Lawrence Public Library Rendering by Benjamin Roberts



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Osama Bin Laden Claims 72 Virgin…..

Osama Bin Laden finds his 72 Virginians

Osama Bin Laden finds his 72 Virginians by Benjamin Roberts



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Royal Blunder

DIST had full intentions of staying out of the Royal Wedding. However, this headline and byline grabbed even an uninterested bystander's attention. Just who married who here? Does this mean that Prince Harry may have to prove that he is the "Best Man?"



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An Ironic Board of Education Visualization

An ironic visualization was observed on the LJWorld online front page. It unwittingly declared the history and operational policy of USD 497.

First, postpone repairs on elementary schools.

Second, move forward repairs on secondary education facilities.

Third, close elementary schools



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Social Security - A Ponzi Scheme

The Lawrence Journal-World recently published an editorial, "National Divide," linked to President Obama's economy speech given at Georgetown University. The forum users at one point began a sidebar discussion of Social Security.

An astute user, Did_I_say_that, made the comparison of Social Security to a Ponzi Scheme. Is there a legitimate comparison of Social Security to a Ponzi scheme? Let's take a look at the Security and Exchange Commission's (SEC) definition and signs of a Ponzi scheme from their Ponzi Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions page.

What is a Ponzi scheme

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity.

With only minor changes the above description of a Ponzi scheme can be adapted as a description of Social Security.

"Social Security is an investment that involves the payment of returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. The SSA solicits new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. Social Security attracts new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors to use for personal expenses."

Why do Ponzi schemes collapse?

With little or no legitimate earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue. Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.

Although there is a continuous supply of new "investors" into Social Security, the second reason for collapse - "when a large number of investors ask to cash out" - is occurring now. Baby Boomers are now starting to draw Social Security and the raw number threatens to overwhelm an already strained system.

What are some Ponzi scheme “red flags”?

According to the SEC, "Many Ponzi schemes share common characteristics." Here are some of the warning signs:

High investment returns with little or no risk.

Every investment carries some degree of risk, and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Be highly suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity.

Some of the first "investors" in Social Security, those retiring in 1960 and having paid in for nearly 23 years, would have made life time contributions of $17,600 (single male, 2010 dollars). This same group experienced individual lifetime payouts of approximately $125,000. The differential has slowly been shrinking. A person retiring in 2010 may only collect $417,000 for his $345,000 contribution. Additional comparisons of individuals and couples may be found in the Urban Institute report, Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime.

Overly consistent returns.

Investments tend to go up and down over time, especially those seeking high returns. Be suspect of an investment that continues to generate regular, positive returns regardless of overall market conditions.

Unlike private retirement programs and investments, Social Security has always provided consistent and typically increased benefits. Prior to 1950 this was accomplished irregularly via legislation. However, in 1950 Social Security recipients were given a 77% increase in benefits and have had a Cost Of Living Allowance (increase) every year since then, with the exception of 2009 and 2010.

Unregistered investments.

Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that have not been registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to key information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.

Funds collected from employees and employers for Social security are accounted for in the Social Security Trust Fund. Well, kind of, that is. Actually, anything over and above what is actually budgeted to be spent is put in the trust fund. The trust fund, not subject to SEC regulations, loans money to the Federal government at a conservative interest rate.

Unlicensed sellers.

Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and their firms to be licensed or registered. Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.

Needless to say (yet, I find the need to say it), the government always exempts itself from its own regulations. There is no license to "sell" Social Security ... unless it is a license to steal.

Secretive and/or complex strategies.

Avoiding investments you don’t understand or for which you can’t get complete information is a good rule of thumb.

Here is The Social Security Act of 1935. The list of Social Security Publications could, in and of itself, be considered complex.

Issues with paperwork.

Ignore excuses regarding why you can’t review information about an investment in writing, and always read an investment’s prospectus or disclosure statement carefully before you invest. Also, account statement errors may be a sign that funds are not being invested as promised.

Issues with paperwork? See above list of Social Security Publications.

Difficulty receiving payments.

Be suspicious if you don’t receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out your investment. Keep in mind that Ponzi scheme promoters sometimes encourage participants to “roll over” promised payments by offering even higher investment returns.

Although there are some examples of late payments, and a few times that all payments were delayed, Social Security has been consistent in its payments to recipients. However, as every senior citizen can tell you, Social Security is constantly held hostage by Congress and payments are continuously the subject of threats. Normally, the threat comes as a warning from the minority party, "They want to cut Social Security and starve grandma." Congress, regardless of party, should not have the power to threaten grandma.

Social Security promises a higher dollar payout for deferring (roll over) retirement.

The Last Word

So, is Social Security a Ponzi scheme that is doomed to crumble in upon itself and leave millions of Americans without promised benefits? A Ponzi scheme? The Social Security Administration states that it has "nothing in common with Ponzi schemes." Imagine that! Doomed to crumble in upon itself as it pays out more than it receives? You bet your sweet bippy!



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Sarah Palin wishes RoeDapple a Happy Birthday!

Our very own RoeDapple is once again celebrating the anniversary of his birth.

Happy Birthday, Roe!



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Obama and a Titcomb - Punchline Wanted!

Only in America. President Obama has a close friend from his native state (that means the state wherein he was born) of Hawaii. His friend's name is Robert (Bobby) ... wait for it ... Titcomb. That is correct: Robert Titcomb. But, it gets even better. Mr. Titcomb was just arrested in Honolulu for ... wait for it ... soliciting an undercover policewoman for sex. Yes, Mr. Titcomb was arrested for suspicion of soliciting a prostitute. Yes, the President's playmate was arrested during a sting to bust up a prostitution ring.

AOL News reports that, "The 49-year-old Titcomb attended Punahou School in Honolulu with Obama. The two often golf, play basketball, go to the beach and dine together when the president returns home to Hawaii for vacation."

This story is begging for a punchline. Let's hear your punchline to this story.



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If schools are crowded, why close any, parents ask

Reprinted from the Lawrence Journal-World
By Brad Addington, Journal-World Writer

Some wonder if the district wouldn't be taking two steps forward and three steps back by opening two new elementary schools and closing three existing ones.

If the Lawrence school district is building two new elementary schools in response to growth, why would the district want to close three existing schools?

That's a question that has stumped Tracy Powell and some other district patrons.

"It just seems silly to me that if the grade schools are so overcrowded ... that they're considering not using three of them next year," said Powell, who has a daughter at South Junior High School.

Grant School, East Heights School and Cordley School would not continue as elementary schools under a boundary proposal the Lawrence school board discussed Monday.

Under that option, Grant could become a community center. Cordley would house the Lawrence Alternative High School, and East Heights would become a preschool center.

Powell said the proposal might create the perception that the district is purposely trying to overcrowd the grade schools. That way, she said, the current question of whether to move sixth-graders to middle schools would be more easily decided.

Board member Mary Loveland, who served on the district's Boundary Committee, said losing the elementary schools would not necessarily cause overcrowding or force a decision on sixth-graders.

Loveland said Centennial, Woodlawn, Kennedy and New York schools could accommodate the students from the three schools in question. And because the student populations in those areas have remained relatively stable, crowding probably wouldn't occur, Loveland said.

"The point that has to be made is that 46 percent of our students live west of Iowa (Street), and we only have five school buildings west of Iowa," Loveland said. "One of the problems is that the schools aren't where kids are."

She said any decision to move the sixth-graders would not be dictated by the school closings.

"That's a program issue," Loveland said. "Would we better serve our sixth-graders if they were combined with seventh- and eighth-graders? That's a question that hasn't been answered yet."



By the way - Dateline: December 3, 1993

Considering that this article, with a few name changes, mirrors the Lawrence Public Schools' situation today - Someone is failing to learn from their mistakes. The question is: Who is failing to learn? The school board or the voters?

If you have not done so, use the embedded links in the above story to view current parallel stories.



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