Tuesday, July 15, 2014

HRTAC: Regionalism group meets again Thursday

This is one of those things that happens when you are not paying attention. Big businesses vie for us to foot the bill for things the people do not want/need, and our taxes go up. Time to pay attention or move out of the "region". This time, the region is even larger to encompass Gloucester and Surry, 14 localities now. Please fight this tax increase and maybe get rid of this unnecessary layer of government (HRPDC or HRTPO could handle this assignment without adding even more salaries and retirement to our taxes).

PASS THIS ON TO ANYONE LIVING WITHIN THE TAXING AUTHORITY AREA.

The next HRTAC meeting is Thursday, July 17, 12:30pm, HRPDC Building, 723 Woodlake Drive, Chesapeake, VA (between two hotels) They set out quite a bit of food and drink

The first meeting of the Hampton Roads "Transportation Accountability" Commission, Wednesday, July 2, 2014, revealed a multitude of issues that should be addressed if the Commission is to function effectively. Most evident was the inability of the various members to reach a consensus on the election of Commission leadership.

In addition, citizen involvement was tightly restricted, which was to be expected due to the lack of guidance with respect to their involvement within the Commission bylaws.

Without an amendment or provision in the bylaws, it was obvious that the process was skewed in favor of the larger Southside cities. Evidence of this bifurcated system became clear as motions to have a Chair and Vice Chair from opposite sides of Hampton Roads failed, and none of the candidates nominated from the Peninsula mustered the necessary 2/3 population vote to win either the chair or the vice chair.

Representation:

Currently Hampton Roads taxpayers are subject to the edicts of a multitude of non-elected governing bodies, to wit:

·      Hampton Roads District Planning Commission, the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads and Hampton Roads Transportation (HRT), etc.

·      To tell citizen participants that they have 'no standing' is unconscionable, and is additional evidence that taxpayers once again are being subjected to taxation without due representation. 

·      Creating another layer of government between the taxpayer and the people who control the spending is unacceptable. NOT TO MENTION UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

·      Providing City Managers a seat at the table, without a provision within the legislation allowing them that privilege, while many taxpayers were forced to stand, demonstrated a profound lack of respect for those whose hard work provides the funding for the very existence of the Commission.

Conflict of interest:

When voting on a financial institution in which to deposit Funds, Commission members on the board of Banks or Financial Institutions to be considered should not be allowed to vote for approval; they should be required to recuse themselves as having a vested interest. The amendment to the bylaws should be generic, i.e., anyone with a vested interest with an entity, financial institution, or business property benefitting either financially or in the form of soft dollars, from any proposal, contract, or public/private partnership proposal, either by direct or indirect association, must recuse themselves from voting to ensure this commission avoids even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Parliamentary Procedure:

·      The election of the Vice Chair to the Commission was conducted outside of Parliamentary procedure, which prompted several members of the Commission to question what had just transpired.

·      Commissioners should acquaint themselves with at least the basics of Roberts Rules given that their bylaws require their use.

 BY-LAW COMMISSION

On July 17, 2014, a Commission to amend the HRTAC bylaws should be created and members of the public should be included. 

In an effort to provide more specific guidance with reference on how to address a conflict of interest, we have provided suggested wording for review and consideration by the Commission.

FINANCIAL INSTITUTION SELECTION

CODE

OF ETHICAL CONDUCT 

In selecting the HRTAC Depository, Members on the HRTAC Commission that are also Directors or Board Members of a financial institution must declare his/her relationship with their respective banks to avoid any conflicts of interest or anything that gives the appearance of a personal benefit.

A Director has a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not to the taxpayers.  Therefore, Directors of financial institutions must avoid any relationship or activity that might impair, or even appear to impair, their ability to make objective and fair decisions.

Fiduciary Defined:

A fiduciary, (a Financial Institution Director) is held to a standard of conduct and trust above that of a stranger or a casual business person and characteristically the fiduciary (a financial institution Director) has a greater knowledge and expertise about financial transactions that are being handled.  He/she must avoid "self-dealing" or "conflicts of interests" in which the potential benefit to the financial institution is in conflict with his duties as a HRTAC Commissioner.

Conflict of Interest Defined:

A conflict of interest exists whenever a financial institution Director has a financial interest, direct or indirect, with a customer doing business with the Institution, and that interest is of such extent that it might affect his/her judgments or decisions.  Specifically, a material connection includes the involvement of immediate family members, which include a spouse, domestic partner, parent, children, siblings, grandparent, parent-in-law, brother and sister-in-law, son and daughter-in-law, niece, nephew, cousin, and any other relative or person living in the same household. 

Transactions involving close personal friends may also provide potential for such conflict of interest.  The definition of the phrase substantial interest includes situations in which a financial institution Director's decision/judgment may be influenced by his/her interest in a transaction. 

In conclusion, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, Directors of a financial institution, under consideration by the HRTAC Commission to be designated as the depository for the transportation funds, including the acquisition of bonds and loans, must not participate in any discussions or vote in the selection process of the said financial institution or its subsidiaries.

Please make the effort so you don't have to bear the burden this taxing authority will impose on the working class an fixed income folks.

Cary Nunnally

757 591 8479  cell 804 577 0504
"But a Constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored.  Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."   --John Adams July 17, 1775




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