Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for January 11, 2013

Let’s reform the state’s tax policy that sticks it to the poor

Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

We often hear critiques of Nevada’s tax system — that it is unstable and at the mercy of boom-and-bust cycles, that it relies too heavily on the tourism and development industries.

But we rarely hear about our tax system’s biggest problem: It’s regressive, meaning the poor pay a bigger portion of their income in taxes than the middle class, and the middle class pay more than the rich.

So I was heartened to hear former state Sen. Sheila Leslie emphasize this point in a speech Wednesday to the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada in advance of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s State of the State address and the upcoming legislative session.

“What if we were to tax the rich as much as the poor in our state?” she said.

Indeed, according to a 2009 analysis released by the Institute on Taxation Economic Policy, the richest 1 percent of Nevadans pay an effective state and local tax rate of 1.6 percent while the poorest 20 percent of Nevadans paid 8.9 percent.

The middle 60 percent pay 6.1 percent in state and local taxes.

Why does our tax system weigh down the backs of the middle class and the poor?

Because we rely heavily on the sales tax. It’s the largest single revenue source for the general fund — and it is by definition regressive. A person who earns $500,000 per year, for instance, will spend only a small fraction on taxable goods. Their other money is either saved and invested or goes to pay for services, such as landscaping or private tutoring, which are not subject to sales taxes.

A poor person, by contrast, may make $15,000 and be forced to spend nearly all of it to survive, with much of the money spent on taxable goods. Hence the disparity.

A middle-class resident falls somewhere in the middle.

The injustice is exacerbated because the poorest children have less opportunity to rise into the middle class — once considered an inarguable plank of the social contract — because they often attend mediocre, underfunded schools.

A class war? You bet there is, and in Nevada, the rich are winning in a landslide.

Any Nevada tax reform proposal that doesn’t address this unjust disparity is not even worth discussing.

Of course, the easiest method for tax equity would be an income tax. If you don’t want the rich to pay more, fine; everybody could pay the same percentage of their income. A flat tax. Conservatives love this at the federal level, so why not here in Nevada?

In Nevada, however, the suggestion of an income tax tends to be treated like a ribeye at a convention of vegetarians. Still, it’s the best solution.

Barring that, Leslie recommended the next best thing: taxing corporations that are getting something pretty close to a free ride.

“Nevada is one of three states that do not tax corporate profits,” she said. “What if these highly profitable mega-corporations paid a nominal percentage of their profits in taxes to Nevada like they do in other states?” A good question.

Of course, Nevada’s status as a tax haven for corporations has led to widespread prosperity here, right? Oh, guess not.

Leslie also advocated raising taxes on gold mining companies, which enjoy some of the most favorable tax treatment in the country, if not the world, on a nonrenewable resource that can only be found in a handful of places, including Nevada.

I often hear from lobbyists for mining companies and other corporate interests that these ideas wouldn’t really solve our revenue problem or amount to enough money to properly fund our schools. Perhaps, but so what? It would get us part of the way there, so it’s worth doing.

But again, let’s put aside the toxic question of tax increases and focus instead on tax fairness. Assume the same level of revenue. Why should the poor sacrifice more than the rich?

Sandoval has made it clear he has no intention of doing anything about the rank unfairness of our tax system.

I’ll be happily surprised if the Democrats offer a forceful alternative, but I wouldn’t count on it. They usually answer to the same masters.

In Leslie’s words, “Nothing is more powerful in Nevada than the gambling, mining and banking cabal of lobbying interests and their lawmaker friends …”

Article source:

Home seller resolutions for 2013

Access our very best investigative reporting, opinion and commentary.

Article source:,0,5389017.column

Home Building & Remodeling Show begins Friday

The Metropolitan Builders Association’s Home Building Remodeling Show opens its three-day run Friday afternoon.

This year’s theme is “Building Lifestyles” and focuses on how people live in their home. At events and seminars throughout the show, visitors will get ideas on designing, building, remodeling, decorating, landscaping and entertaining.

The Building Discovery Seminar Cooking Stage will feature appearances by some of the area’s top chefs, who will show off new kitchen gear and recipes.

Returning this year is the Subdivision Lot Finder, where attendees can search for subdivision lots to build their home, and Landscape Park, showcasing the latest trends in landscaping design.

Admission is $8 at the door. Attendees can receive a $1 discount when they donate two nonperishable food items at the door to help build the food house.

The show runs from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

© 2013, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

Article source:

Repairs to historic Arlington wall to finish in spring

Repair work is on hiatus at one of the most famous garden walls in Arlington, but planning and Historical Commission leaders are looking ahead to its completion when the weather warms.

The Winfield-Robbins Memorial Garden wall, running along what’s known as the civic block in Arlington Center, was designed by the famous Olmsted Brothers firm in 1939, with the funding of the philanthropic Robbins sisters.

When an addition was constructed on the Robbins Library in 1995, landscaping was redesigned, piling soil and plantings against the sandstone and limestone wall. It’s possible the architect and landscape architect were trying to solve site and access problems by raising the grade on the Mass. Ave. side of the building, according to Carol Kowalski, director of planning and community development.

Instead, another problem was created: The soil and plantings pushed on the wall, which was designed as a freestanding and not a retaining wall, until it shifted off its footing and bowed toward the sidewalk. Damage included chipped stones, missing mortar and damaged flashing.

“I think it was something people didn’t anticipate being a problem,” said Historical Commission Chairman JoAnn Robinson. “It turned out to be [one].”

The planning department may not have been involved in the project, but it can learn from this example and perhaps avoid the same issue in the future, according to Kowalski.

“Now that we see the long-term impacts of such a decision it will certainly inform future decisions if there are ever similar projects,” Kowalski said.

When members of the Historical Commission began a master plan to improve the civic block in 1998, they noticed the condition of the wall and had a structural analysis done, Robinson said. They flagged it as a capital planning priority and waited for money to be available to fix it as the wall continued to get worse.

But enough capital funds and Community Development Block Grant money became available this year, and work on the wall began at the end of October. Soil and plantings were moved back from the wall before work went on pause in early December.

“It’s been a priority for us, and as a result of the master plan, we were finally able to accomplish it,” Robinson said. “This is a wonderful thing.”

In the spring, work will resume to restore the footing of the wall, reassemble it with the original stones and repair it with new mortar, all the way to its end on Academy Street.

The landscaping of the original Olmsted Brothers design will be largely restored: The trees and shrubs added in 1995 will be removed, the ground will be re-graded to the base rather than the top of the wall, and landscape plants will be added next year.

Kowalski said this is an important project.

“Preserving historic resources is not only responsible stewardship of town assets, it’s well-established that historic preservation is at the heart of economic development, including heritage tourism and downtown revitalization,” Kowalski said. “When commercial landlords see the town investing in our infrastructure, they have more faith to make investments in their own real estate.”

The garden and wall are a critical part of town, Robinson said.

“I think the Town Hall gardens and the setting of the gardens behind the wall are a really important part of Arlington. It’s a wonderful space to have and it contributes so much to the ambience of our town center,” Robinson said. “It exemplifies the time in our town when people were thinking about the public use of spaces like that. Certainly the Robbins sisters, who devoted money for its initial creation and redesign by the Olmstead Brothers, cared about that.”

A survey done for the civic block master plan revealed Arlington residents are particularly fond of the garden, Robinson said.

“People come there. It’s heavily used,” Robinson said. “We know people love it and we’re thrilled that they do.”

Significant progress has been made on the improvement of the civic block, said Robinson, including the renovation of the Town Hall annex in 1994 and work on the Whittemore-Robbins House in 1996.

The Historical Commission has also done some work on the central part of the garden and is slowly working its way through the rest of the garden, adhering closely to the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for preserving and rehabilitating historic properties. (The garden is on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Next, Robinson hopes to see repairs to Cyrus Dallin’s bronze sculpture of the Menotomy Hunter, whose bow has been broken for at least a year or two, she estimates. The bow has already been fixed once and will need to be recast in bronze, she said.

Amid all this deterioration over time, it’s helpful to know some things last, according to Robinson.

“I think the wall itself has proven to be very resilient, because it’s still there,” Robinson said. “We’re just hoping once it’s all completed, we won’t have to do anything for another hundred years or so.”

Article source:

26th Season of Prairie Yard and Garden Airs on Pioneer Public Television

26th Season of Prairie Yard and Garden Airs on Pioneer Public Television

Posted by Jenna Ray on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013

The 26th season of Prairie Yard and Garden(PYG) begins on Thursday, January 17. Larry Zilliox, former University of Minnesota Extension educator from Alexandria, Minnesota, hosts the popular 30-minute program—one of Minnesota’s top resources for gardening information. PYG airs Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on Pioneer Public Television.

Each season, PYG travels the state to confer with researchers, gardening and nursery professionals, educators, and backyard gardeners about their expertise in horticulture, landscaping, and a variety of other gardening topics. In association with Pioneer Public Television, the series is produced by Roger Boleman, director, and Michael Cihak, assistant director of marketing communication and design, of Instructional and Media Technologies at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Cihak also serves as production coordinator, editor, and videographer.

The longevity and success of the program characterizes a unique alliance between the University and Pioneer Public Television, KWCM Appleton. Pioneer Public Television, a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate, serves more than 375,000 households across Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa.

On Thursday, January 17, PYG showcases hedges used in landscaping. Jeff Johnson of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum shares varieties that can act as a windbreak or be used to define a boundary.

On Thursday, January 24, Zilliox explores the ornamental garden of Steve and Cher Colby of Douglas County, Minnesota. To add a new dimension to their existing wooded paths, the two have been decorating their trails with small fairies, gnomes, and gargoyles. These ornaments give the paths a life all their own by transforming them into enchanted trails.

On Thursday, January 31, Bernie Angus of the West Central Research and Outreach Center demonstrates the important maintenance steps needed when preparing a water pond, which requires maintenance throughout the year, for winter.

On Thursday, February 7, Zilliox travels to New London, Minnesota, where Ken and Kay Johnson have acquired an aging bridge on an abandoned township road that divides their rural property. The two have added a roof and landscaping around the bridge to create a unique destination used for social events and gatherings.

On Thursday, February 14, the program will feature Meika Jo Hoffman, who maximizes interest in gardening by using window boxes and a front porch to grow and show her many varieties of plants and succulents at her home on a small city lot.

On Thursday, February 21, Daiv Freeman demonstrates growing cacti in Minnesota. Freeman has developed a wonderful space to grow hundreds of exotic varieties of cacti, which are overlooked as plants that thrive in this region.

On Thursday, February 28. Zilliox travels to Watson, Minnesota, where Weldy and Deanna Hodges have been restoring their farm site for nearly 25 years. Their property is flanked by beautiful country gardens that utilize rustic farm implements, hardscape, and colorful plant varieties.

Six additional episodes will air throughout March and April.

Article source:

Green Thumb: Endless ideas for gardening, other projects on Pinterest

The seed catalogs now arriving in our mailboxes do more than alert us to plants we may want to add to our gardens.

Catalogs and gardening magazines stimulate our senses with the color and beauty we crave during the dark and often-dreary days of winter.

But with the blossoming Pinterest, gardeners have another great way to connect with the things they love. The online site, which combines social networking with electronic scrapbooking, allows us to envelope ourselves in stunningly beautiful and inspiring virtual environments with the click of a mouse.

At Pinterest .com, images of remarkable gardens, garden projects and landscapes are endlessly available as are those featuring other subjects that appeal to gardeners like food, home décor, health and fitness and special events.

Once you sign up and start “pinning” everything you like to your own boards, you will be invited to “follow” the pins of your Facebook friends or strangers who seem to share your tastes.

Linda Orton, a Master Gardener and co-founder of the Mid-South Hydrangea Society, finds using Pinterest is an easier way to keep up with ideas than ripping pages out of magazines and putting them in folders.

“You’re not cluttering your home with paper, and the visual images are easier to find and use than articles,” she said. “I’m always taking notes, but then I can’t find them. I can always find what I put on my Pinterest board.”

She’s been saving ideas for irrigation systems and building beds for the vegetable garden she plans to start in the spring, and storing information on making hypertufa containers for a program she will be leading on the subject.

A holiday decorating photo sparked her decision to put branches of heavily berried holly branches into two white ironstone pitchers enhanced with bows on the handles.

“It was an easy thing to do, and it lasted about three weeks in my kitchen,” she said. “It was something I wouldn’t have thought of doing.”

Pinterest was launched in 2010 as a closed site available by invitation only. Smartphone apps and open enrollment were added last August.

Its mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing.

Women make up 83 percent of its users.

Master Gardener Sharon Kauerz uses the garden photos on Pinterest for inspiration and information.

“When I see ideas for landscaping and gardening from all over the world, it reminds me that I’ve had some good ideas too,” said Kauerz, who is also collecting photos to inspire a bathroom remodeling project.

She is savvy enough to know some of the gorgeous landscaping ideas presented at Pinterest are not always adaptable to our climate, our budgets and our environments, especially when you must deal with hungry deer and voles.

“I like the pictures, but I also find a lot of useful information on the blogs where many of the photos come from,” she said. “I wish I had more time to spend on Pinterest.”

Ah, yes. Users of Pinterest find it easy to while away minutes and even hours.

“I may spend a lot of time on it on a day off and then go a week or more without looking at it,” Orton said.

Evelyn Mosley used the site extensively to plan the rehearsal dinner preceding the Oct. 28 marriage of her son Todd to Ashley Jackson in Asheville, N.C.

To go with the rustic architecture of the venue, she and her co-hosts tied burlap fabric into giant bows and floated candles in canning jars of various sizes.

They wrote “Welcome Friends” on two pumpkins, but instead of placing them in a wheelbarrow as they were pictured on Pinterest, they nestled them into an old wash tub on the front porch.

“One idea generated another and another,” said Mosley, a Master Gardener who is past president of the Memphis Herb Society. “One guest told us our party should be on Pinterest.”

Frustration can sometimes follow inspiration. As I browsed the site, I was intrigued by a metal chair “upholstered” in sedum and equipped with a sedum-covered “bolster pillow.”

But I came up empty when I tried to find out how the plants were placed in soil. Then on close examination of the photo, I caught a glimpse of a shallow cookie sheet presumably filled with soil on the chair seat. How-to instructions would have been appreciated.

But in most instances, a few clicks of the mouse will take you to the image’s original site, where you can view comments from the creator and, often, instructions on doing it yourself.

Many clicks often come with welcome distractions, like the recipe I randomly found for Mexican Vegetable Soup with Lime and Avocado.

An avid and innovative cook, Mosley stores lots of recipes on her Pinterest pages, including one for the jalapeño popper quiche she took to several potluck parties during the holidays.

It allows her to use up the peppers she and her husband, Phil, grew in their vegetable garden last summer.

They are still harvesting lettuces, greens, bok choys and Savoy cabbages from the box beds they protect with floating fabric row covers.

Mosley pinned her favorite greens cookbook on her Pinterest board. It’s “Great Greens” by Georgeanne Brennan.

Orton accesses her Pinterest boards from her smartphone when she is shopping at the supermarket.”I can check on the ingredients I need to buy for the recipes I’ve pinned,” she said. “I love it.”

Herbal Renewal grants

The Memphis Herb Society is seeking applications for its annual Herbal Renewal program, which provides small grants to nonprofit associations that plan to use herbs in their educational and/or beautification projects.

Grants, which usually run $100 to $250, will be made in early spring.

Applicants must provide a brief statement of purpose for the proposed herb project, an estimate of the total cost, details of the project including the herbs to be grown, and the plan for maintaining them.

To get an application form, send a request to postcoker@hotmail .com with “Herb Garden Grants” in the subject line. Or send a request to Herb Garden Grants, P.O. Box 652, Olive Branch, MS 38654-0652.

Article source:

Gardening Tips: The ins and outs of pruning grapevines

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013 11:05 am

Gardening Tips: The ins and outs of pruning grapevines

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


This is always a tough time of the year to write a gardening column. Very few of us are thinking about the garden right now, nothing is really growing and there’s no interesting insects or diseases to be found.

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers

You must login to view the full content on this page.

Or, use your
linked account:

© 2013 Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thank you for reading 10 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 10 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you need help, please contact our office at 252-537-2505.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers


Friday, January 11, 2013 11:05 am.

Article source:

‘Victory Garden’ TV host to share tips at Townsend Library

TOWNSEND — A myriad of labels can be applied to Roger Swain: television host, scientist, gardener, editor, writer, lecturer. But before Swain is anything else, he is an entertainer.

“It’s entertaining; that’s why I do it,” said Swain of his lectures. “I don’t call it a lecture, I call it entertainment and maybe you pick up some things along the way.”

Swain, who is nearly as famous for his cherry suspenders as he is for being the longtime host of “Victory Garden” on PBS, will be guest speaker at the Townsend Public Library on Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. and will lecture about backyard vegetable gardening. And attendees should expect to laugh as much as they learn.

“We have a lot of fun. I try to be humorous, but my lectures are based on almost 50 years of personal experience, so I’ve got a few tricks and I’m happy to share,” said Swain. “That’s the way most of us learned gardening is through other gardeners.”

Backyard gardening has been around since about 1944, said Swain; at the time, 44 percent of vegetables in the United States were being grown by amateur gardeners.

“That wasn’t even just backyard gardeners. That was front yard, side yard, city parks, city gardens,” he said.

The reason for the boom at the time can likely be attributed to World War II, said Swain. People would grow food to eat themselves, which in turn freed up rations to be sent overseas.

Now, victory gardens are once again coming back in style.

“I’ve been talking

about this for 45 years and all of sudden it gets trendy,” said Swain. “Everybody’s doing it, now I’m just encouraging everyone.”

Swain, who has been backyard gardening since he was 15, said the benefits are innumerable. First and foremost, you’re eating fresh, clean vegetables and you know where they came from. It’s good for the planet and cuts down on the miles that food travels.

Additionally, the hard work and exertion involved provides great physical exercise.

“You don’t need to go to the gym if you have a garden,” said Swain.

Gardening also provides better understanding and awareness of global warming.

“You have your finger on the pulse of nature,” said Swain.

And farmers markets are a great way to build up the community, he said.

“Being a gardener is so easy; it makes you generous and it makes you a lot of friends,” he said.

Whenever he can, Swain said if there’s something he needs, he prefers to buy it at farmers markets. Still, he goes to the grocery store just like anybody else.

“It would be a very boring diet; I would be eating cabbage all winter long,” he said.

Swain spent 15 years hosting 500 episodes of “Victory Garden,” the longest running gardening television show and a sister show to “This Old House”; Swain and host Norm Abram worked on the same property for their shows.

With each episode, the main message Swain wanted to impart was this: “You can do it.”

“You don’t have to pull up your whole yard. A single whiskey barrel gets you in the game,” he said. “I would rather have you grow a small garden and do it well than grow a large garden full of weeds.”

The best part of hosting the show, said Swain, was interacting with his viewers on the streets. As a lecturer, he gets to revisit this particular aspect.

“It’s talking to real people,” he said. “On set, you’re looking at 3.5 inch lump of glass trying to imagine millions of people out there in San Francisco and Tampa.”

Although Swain never gives exactly the same lecture twice, he said, he always tries to make it interactive and enjoyable.

“In a good lecture you start talking and you can guess the response from the audience. Then you know you’re on the same page and you’re going to have a good time,” he said. “When you start seeing people taking notes, you know it’s going to be a long hour.”

In addition to the show, Swain was also the science editor of “Horticulture Magazine” for 30 years, he authored several books and essays and he has instructed courses with the master gardeners program with the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. That’s how he became acquainted with Susan McNally and Carolyn Sellars, the two Townsend residents and members of the library’s gardening club who recruited him for the lecture.

“He likes to share what he knows and he likes people, he likes to talk to them,” said McNally. “He’s so entertaining, it’s fun to listen to him even if you’re not gardener.”

The cost is being paid for by local groups, namely the Friends of the Townsend Library and the Amanda Dwight Entertainment Fund.

“I think it’ll be a great thing for the community,” said Library Director Stacy Schuttler.

Article source:

Winter gardening tips for planter boxes, rose-pruning | – U


Rose Crawford, author of the “Ask Rose” gardening column. CREDIT: Don Boomer/The North County Times

Q. My husband surprised me by building some elevated garden planter boxes. they are up on legs. However, I don’t know how to fill them and am getting all sorts of conflicting advice. I plan to grow vegetables in them. Some people have told me to put gravel in the bottom so the boxes will drain better. Others have told me that gravel is too heavy and would make the boxes collapse. They recommend that I just put a lot of holes in the bottom of the boxes. Others have told me to mix empty milk jugs and yogurt cups into the soil to keep it lighter. The boxes themselves are 4 feet by 8 feet, with lots legs in the middle and are very sturdily built out of cedar. Can you offer me some advice on how to use them? Thank you. — Pat

A. You certainly have been given some strange advice, Pat. I hope mine is a little more practical. You definitely need drainage but the best way to get it is to drill holes in the bottom of the beds. Half-inch holes every foot or so should work fine. To prevent your soil from falling through the holes, just cover the bottom with a fine screen. Set your boxes in a sunny location and then fill with soil. If your native soil is good quality, use about two-thirds soil and one third compost mixed together well. Let the mixture set for a couple of weeks before plating. If you feel that you need a little fertilizer, my recommendation is to get it from Gardens Alive at Their fertilizers are organic and as well as all of the major nutrients they also contain the minor nutrients and trace elements.

Q. I just moved here from Ohio a few months ago. There are quite a few rose bushes around our yard. Much to my surprise, some of them still had roses in December. Should I cut them back as I did in Ohio or is there some other system that gardeners here use? — Edna

A. Growing roses in Southern California is quite different from growing them where the winter is severe and the ground freezes. Roses here still need to be pruned, usually this month before the new growth starts. But no, do not cut them down to the ground as you did “Back East.” Just remove approximately one-third of last year’s growth and take off any leaves. They do not always fall off in this climate. Of course, as in most other types of pruning, remove all dead or damaged wood and crossed branches. Volumes have been written about how to prune roses but there are several very basic rules that most everyone follows. Always cut to a bud eye that is facing outward. Cut out all small twiggy branches and old fragile canes. If a cane looks sick or tired, cut it back to the bud union. After you have done this, depending on the type of rose, you should still have about five strong canes left and your bush will be a fairly good size.

Rose Crawford is a certified garden consultant and a master composter who lives and gardens in Vista. She answers your gardening questions every other week. E-mail questions to

Article source:

Home & Garden Tips


Decorator Secret:

Listening to the Room

How To:

Design is not simply “creating,” design is listening. Have a conversation with the room…Sometimes I just sit in the room and look around and see what the room says to me before I ever start to do anything. Is this an old home with great architectural details and character, or is this a newer home with clean lines that need to remain that way. How is this room used? When is this room used? Does the morning sun play an important part or does the evening sun make it diffi cult to watch TV? Is the room used mostly at night and has very little lighting, natural or artificial? Who uses this room? Where do they walk in? Where is the focal point? Do I need to create a focal point? Listen to the room and learn the answer to these questions and your room will be much easier to plan and design

Remember change is good so give your room a Spacelift! I can help you make your room look new, often just using what you already have. Give me a call and setup an appointment for your personal Spacelift. Rosie Gams is an interior designer and owner of Firelight Galleries on Hoover Road in Virginia, MN.

Article source: