Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

1611Hours EDT
5.25-inch Floppy Diskette Article Archive

Tax Increase Defeated

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
In a somewhat surprising, yet pleasing victory I personally had no say in today, residents of Orange County in a vote of 54% to 46% rejected a measure to increase the sales tax in that county from 6.5% to 7.0% in order to raise revenue for improved transportation in the central Florida area.

While the tax increase seems small compared to the benefits of widening and improving local roads among other projects, the merits of these projects is skin deep. The plan called Mobility 20/20 was spearheaded by the County Chairman and endorsed by nearly every public official in Orange County along with lots of local companies and organisations with hefty bank accounts. That right there should raise some red flags.

I live in Seminole County which lies directly to the north of Orange County and Orlando where a similar tax increase was approved by the voters, including myself, twice. The improvements to our community have been greatly successful and this area is better because of it. The difference, you ask? The Orange County plan called for several specific measures to reduce congestion, widen roads and implement other traffic relief solutions. Aside from those few specific items, the remainder of the money was to be allocated to projects with more lofty, less specific goals.

For example, $400 million of the collected revenue would be allocated to the ever present idea of the installation of a light rail system in central Florida. Part of the existing plan for this rail network shows a reasonable path through what used to be existing rail lines. The only trouble is that those rail lines were torn out years ago and replaced with a County-wide walking and biking trail for pedestrians. Additionally, after having already spent $45 million dollars in planning a light rail system, no one has been able to come forth and specifically introduce a cost-effective plan that encompasses the entire project from speculation to public use. Until such a time as actual ideas come forth that has half a chance in hell of succeeding, it is not the business of our elected officials to collect and spend money needlessly.

Similarly an additional $300 million dollars was to be devoted to "dealing with the freight trains that run through Winter Park and Orlando." Unless we invent transporters or something similar, rail travel for cargo is inevitable. What are you going to do with $300 million dollars? Tell the train companies they can no longer run through our area because they cause too much traffic? Get real. The pro-tax campaigners also were sure to point out in every advert that new walking trails, sidewalks and other pedestrian and bike traffic lanes and paths would be created with this money. Of course, how much and specific projects were never outlined. How convenient.

Another major issue I have with this tax is that like bills running their course through the United States Congress, a coat-tail riding provision has been included that is unacceptable. The plan was to build several new lanes along the stretch of Interstate-4 that would be paid for by the Florida Turnpike Authority, but would also be toll roads. When the Greeneway Expressway (SR 417) was constructed around the perimeter of central Florida, it was said that its presence would help alleviate the traffic on I-4. Unfortunately the powers that be placed the tolls on SR 417 so high that the I-4 bottlenecks remain while it is driven lightly. At one toll booth alone there is a $1.50 charge. Some local proponents of this tax have stated they feel the tolls are justifiable to help alleviate traffic. I would agree with that if the actual result was less traffic. Converting part of a public highway system maintained by the Federal government is not the way to solve these problems. Aside from I-4 every other major highway in central Florida is a toll road and I do not see any improvement yet, with the exception of the expansions currently in progress. Those should continue as planned with the funds from the Federal government.

If the local government wishes to come up with a plan to help alleviate traffic then they need to design a full and complete plan, one with no ambiguity. Show the voters and tax payers exactly where every cent of the collected funds will be spent. Until these public officials can take some accountability into where and how they spend public moneys then they do not deserve to collect them. It is time some public officials stepped up to the plate and decided that accountability and responsibility were more important to them then winning an election. If you do you job the right way and treat the public with the respect they deserve, you will find you do not have to campaign much to get re-elected.

Just another excuse to say "sprocket"

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
As promised here is an update on my car:
  • I have a new rack and pinion steering rack.
  • My coolant system is now functioning normally needs a little more work.
  • My air conditioning blows like an Alaskan breeze hot breath an Alaskan breeze (again).
  • My window seals are no longer crap.
Still needed/desired:
  • Brakes.
  • Exhaust repairs.
  • Light body work.
  • New audio system.
  • Shorter shifter knob.
Update: looks like I might be heading back for some more work after all.

Does Hallmark make a greeting card for this?

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
People who know me in person are aware that I am not the biggest fan of having my birthday celebrated. My eighteenth was celebrated as was my twenty-first, but as far as the rest I really do not see the point. Servers in restaurants singing to customers with birthdays disturb me too, but that is a matter for another discussion.

My only point here was that I completely missed a birthday of sorts and thought I would mention it now. While I have maintained a commercial and/or personal site presence in one form or another on the internet since the mid-to-late 1990's, the present incarnation of this site passed the one-year mark on 04 September. My previous personal website on this domain did not contain nearly the features as this site, but went online in January 2001. Prior to 2001, my side-business commercial ventures were available online at, a domain name which I let expire due to non-relevance with current projects.

In any event, thank you for stopping by and helping make this little experiment more fun than I had expected.

Cogwheel Sprocket

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
There had been several things I was planning to spend some money on soon, my car being one of them. As my automotive luck would have it, I will be doing just that today – by replacing components in the rack and pinion steering system.

Last Wednesday afternoon on my way back from lunch my steering wheel started to behave very strangely and control of the car went into a variable. The "slop" or give in the resistance of the steering gave out completely, creating a possibly dangerous situation as far as total loss of vehicular control. However, the damage was not yet to the extent that it came to that. Maintaining a firm hold on the wheel, particular during any turns or curves, prevented the car from making turns on its own. An inspection of the RPS gearbox revealed the rack-and-pinion gearset where the wheel gear (pinion) meshes with the toothed rack converting rotary to reciprocating motion (and vice versa), was chewed-up pretty badly and only getting worse.

At the highest recommendation from someone I work with at the office and who I have done on-site support for recently, I took my car in to a local repair shop early this morning where I was given an 80% change of repair completion today (the parts are not slated to arrive at the shop until 1400 EDT, leaving only three hours for installation).

I was instructed to ring the repair shop at 1600 EDT to check on the status of the installation and to determine whether I will be with vehicle this weekend. An update will follow subsequent to that time, so stay tuned.