Showing posts from February, 2023

The Long Way Home 2.17.23

Benjamin  Franklin, of hundred dollar bill fame, notoriously said (or wrote), “Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” I won’t rant, yet, about the original meaning of the constitution and how it is used by dishonest folks to deceive the honest and the gullible. I prefer to rant about income taxes. I just completed our tax forms using an online service offering free preparation and filing for those of us living with modest incomes. The online service I use is a private company. I’ve known since I was a boy there is no such thing as a free lunch so these companies must collect a tidy sum from our government. So there’s that. We used form 1040-SR, and the form title is U.S. Tax Return FOR Seniors.  I must have spent two or three hours online, starting when we received our 1099s from Social Security last month until the other day when we got the 1099 for the pittance of interes

Cook County Assessor Sending 2023 Valuations to Property Owners This Spring

Property owners in Cook County can expect to receive their 2023 Valuation Notices stating the value and classification of their property by early April. They may expect rather large increases again in assessed valuation. According to a report prepared by Cook County Assessor Robert Thompson, the 2022 valuation notices were 32% higher than 2021. Valuations are calculated in several ways, but most significantly they are based on actual property sales in the previous year adjusted for market trends that may have impacted transactions. While valuations may increase, effective tax rates on homesteaded property in Cook County were lower than only two other counties. Property taxes are used by local governments to pay for services and schools. The county board and city councils set budgets for the coming year in open meetings. The budget’s final figures are totaled and a calculation is made based on total property values in the jurisdiction to arrive at the effective tax rate percentage. That

Cascade Creek Company Does Home Repair and Improvement in Cook County

The New Year saw a new business, Cascade Creek Company, open up in Grand Marais. Owned by Laurie and Don Roberts, the company offers services from interior design to everyday repair and replacement. They will do something as small as installing a towel bar to design and decorating ideas. From fixing a door that doesn’t close properly to special projects like building shelving and closets. According to a recent Facebook post from Cascade Creek, no job is too small. The Roberts were both science teachers in Twin Cities schools. When retirement beckoned at the end of the school year in 2022 they moved permanently to Cook County where they had spent most of their summer breaks over the years. Dan discovered the North Shore when Gene Glader, a friend of his parents, purchased the Cascade Lodge along Highway 61 next to Cascade River State Park. While still in high school, Dan spent his summers working at the Lodge doing all the jobs you can imagine a young man would be expected to do. After

The Long Way Home 2.10.2023

Pondering the conclusion of my seventh decade, I’ve been thinking about books I’ve owned and read over the years. Reading was something I did when the powers that be kept me out of grade school for six weeks to keep my mononucleosis from infecting my peers. It was the sixties. Passing the time between home visits from my tutor, I read books about my sports heroes and mysteries like the Hardy Boys. This reading pleased my tutor--I dutifully reported everything I’d read. And it was fun. As a young adult, I would read motivational and self-help books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. The books in this genre helped me overcome a deep-seated sense of inadequacy early in my business life.  Then I moved on to business-related books like “In Search of Excellence” by Robert Waterman and Tom Peters. In my thirties, I was reading dozens of books in this genre. I’ll leave it to others to say if they made me a decent manager. In those days I loved going to bookstores.

The Long Way Home 02.03.2023

There are six words that make me gnash my teeth in frustration and despair. They usually follow a question, like why are you/we doing this?  We’ve Always Done It This Way That sentence is uttered by people in organizations of all kinds. From small businesses to multi-billion dollar corporations. From schools to churches. From homeowner associations to city and county government.  It drives me nuts. No matter what group I’ve been involved with I’ve challenged those six words with a couple of other questions. What would happen if we didn’t do this anymore? Is there a better way to do it? Who benefits from continuing to do it this way? Who would benefit if we stop? A brief story from early in my executive career as I neared the high end of the corporate ladder at Twin Modal.  My company arranged freight transportation as a federally licensed broker. I explained to people who asked that It was like being a travel agent for truckload freight shipments. We put companies that needed to ship t