Friday, March 16, 2007

How can you live on $9,000 a year? The great "mystery" of Brad's finances guessed and estimated

I have been getting comments from the Sheila camp, doing a little more disingenuous campaigning, about how Brad can survive on $9000 per year (which is his salary for being mayor). I realize that most Carbondale people are proud of not knowing anything about finances, but let's assume that Brad has read or understands the "Millionaire Next Door" concepts. This isn't hard stuff.

My estimated after tax, take home estimates are from 22 to 35, or 14 work years (numbers in the thousands) -
$30 $30 $40 $40 $40 $40 $50 $60 $70 $70 $70 $10 $10 $10 - Looks like just over $550k. You will notice that he made lots more then this many of those years, but it doesn't really matter. Give him $7 X 4 and $7 X 4 and $9 X 4 for his time on the Park District Board (guessing), City Council and Mayor. Looks like $92k or a total of $640k or so. Let's add in his cash settlement from the state at $150k, so that is $800k or so gross that we can easily account for.

When I was in my 20's, I had a few big stock market scores in Apple, Intel, VLSI Technology and Microsoft stocks. It is amazing how much $10k can turn into. I bought a house in Silicon Valley on my Apple winnings alone and sold it for a profit soon after. Everyone playing the US Stock market in a reasonable way is up, it likely that Brad is doing well in the stock market like the rest of us.

I need a number, let's say that Brad has been earning 10% on his loose money per year. Based on my model of income, he would be worth over $1M now. Compound interest is great isn't it?

We can see Brad has a car, but hasn't changed it for years. We know he has a little house in town somewhere. He doesn't drink or smoke, so no sin taxes. So, $30k for the car and $100k for the house? I bet it was more like $25k and $80k though.

Assuming that Brad has paid cash for everything, he could still have over $1M in the bank given a 10% annual return on investment. If he only made 5% (which means he is a fool) over the last 15 years, he would have over $500k in the bank. If he spends money wildly, which isn't his MO, he might only have $350k in the bank.

Those of you with your ear to the ground know that Brad's father passed on last year, so it seems possible that he received something from his father too.

Brad has made his tax returns public for many years, so it isn't like any of this is secret. If you want the exact numbers, it would take you maybe an hour to get them. I think Brad has enough money to be mayor as long as he wants to be mayor.

The real question isn't if Brad has the money anyway, it is if we should vote out a successful incumbent for someone who has no plan (OK, very little plan) and a track record that includes very little that has helped the city.

Of course, your comments are welcome and expected.


Sam W.Clyde said...

I really do not feel that the finances of the two candidates have anything to do with their ability to be Mayor.
I do not think that either should be critisized or commended for their financial status. Sheila Simon obviously has familiy money. Brad Cole it has been common knowlegde for those of us who have been in town longer than you Peter has family money as well. Neither candidate chooses to flaunt their money, it is not done in Southern Illinois as in other parts of the country.
Both have received a great education and could or do have jobs that pay well. Neither, to my knowledge have ran a business that they owned. Maybe a lemondae stand.
So can the 9000.00 a year thing be dropped as a discussion point. It really is a waste of our time. (ha ha)
You will probably edit this again but...
Sheila Simon is simply more likeable than Brad Cole and that is his choice and his own fault. Therefore, even though he has had a good record and has made some good things happen in Carbondale, he will have to do some serious mending of fences to win.
I do think he is a very smart politician and he may be able to pull the win off. It will also take the Simon supporters becoming over confident.
Please note I have not indicated in this message who I will be voting for.

Anonymous said...

You, gas, electric, garbage, taxes, health care, clothes, and so on. And for someone who doesn't drink, he spends an inordinate amount of time in bars (check out his pictures and comments on myspace or facebook if you need proof) and you can't assume that he doesn't spend money there. I'm the most frugal person I know, consistently earn more than Brad has over the years, invest wisely, have an older car and cheaper home, and I'm no where near his net income. Plus, there are in fact unexplained income sources on his tax returns (e.g., a $30,000 'business income' that he has never explained). You have to make the most unreasonable assumptions possible to get his networth anywhere near what you're talking about. Your silliest post-to-date.

Jonathan Bean said...

Why anonymous (or Simon) care is beyond me. As Peter pointed out, INCOME doesn't equal CONSUMPTION. Liberals love to go on and on about the plight of the poor, esp. the working poor (does Brad count on his $9,000 INCOME?!). But, as Peter points out, income ain't consumption. Indeed, anyone familiar with the economic statistics know that people below the poverty line spend twice as much as they earn (I was in that state at one point). How can that be? Family money, drawing on assets, in-kind aid (Link) that goes uncounted. On and on.

So, if Simon feels Brad is getting away with something because his consumption greatly exceeds his income, then perhaps she will propose a consumption tax in lieu of an income tax?

Oh, wait, that would hurt the poor....

Jonathan Bean

Peter in Carbondale said...

Interesting comments -

I like Sam's ideas. I'm not so sure that I agree that Brad is a smart politician. He is one heck of a good mayor, but he is more manager then politician. There isn't much of the modern, boot licking politician, in him. He looks you right in the eye and tells you the truth. I'll write more about this soon.

To Anon -
If you know me, I'm more frugal by far then you are, at least based on percentage of income. But this isn't a game of who can top who, it is just an analysis of if Brad can afford to be mayor. I'm pretty sure he can. Just go figure out the interest of saving $10k per year, starting 15 years ago, earning 10% per year.

Please read Jon Bean's comment after yours and ponder it.

Dr Bean -
Always good to have to throw your two cents in. Of course, you are right. This is about savings and not consumption.

Anonymous said...

Why anonymous (or Simon) care is beyond me.

I think its clear why people care about this issue. Connect the dots already.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Congratulations Anonymous, I have no idea what you are talking about. You have some secret conspiracy theory that the Sheila's people are floating around? Brad is selling paper clips from city hall on eBay or what?

Do tell, you have me interested now.

reader said...

I'm interested because your claim that Cole has $1M based on Millionaire Next Door principles is ridiculous unless you make unreasonable assumptions like spending nothing on living expenses or picking exactly the right stocks at the right time. As I commented earlier, half a million is plausible. That's enough money for a single person to live on without touching the principal but not nearly a million.

I'm also interested because you include the additional ridiculous statement, "I realize that most Carbondale people are proud of not knowing anything about finances..." Compared to other cities where I've lived, a lot more people are living below their means. I take that as a good sign that Carbondale people know something about finances.

P.S. Why are you playing dumb about what anonymous is implying? You've written about corruption in IL politics often enough that you clearly know better.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Free free to assign living expenses to the numbers, it still works fine. Give him $10k for 4 years, $15, or $20k for the next 4 and see what the numbers with 10% interest get you. I have run the numbers a couple of ways, you always get to greater then $500k. Of course, most Americans spend 106% of take home pay, so they don't understand this concept.

I would say that people who I know in Carbondale are great at saving and terrible at making money, but beyond a few professors in town what do I know? We know that the average American is spending 106% of take home, so who knows how things are really going here without depending on the large scale items. I guess you would have to go live in a place where real money is made, saved and spent to have any clue about why I think Carbondale people are proud of knowing nothing about finances. You understand we have the smallest houses, lowest incomes and highest education levels of any small city in the USA? Think about it, those are the large details that we really know. So if income is reflected by your education level and Carbondale has the highest education levels, shouldn't it have the highest income too?

I have to wonder why an anonymous poster wants to imply corruption, but is unwilling to name a single instance (they are anonymous after all). I have heard about the American Tap and Sheila's campaign implication of corruption and wrote about that in detail. I have heard about Tom Redmond being pushed out for stopping economic development, his complaint about being treated unfairly and wrote about that (sure seems like a good decision for the city to me). The corruption issues I have heard from the Sheila camp are made up BS so far IMHO. Could it be that the Carbondale corruption problem is really a problem with someone trying to change the culture of City Hall from one of sloth to one of performance, then 4 years later running against someone who has no issues beyond the implied dirty? If there is real corruption issues, name them. If you will not name them, why should I pretend they exist?

Anonymous said...

Its a simple question - why is a man working as Mayor full-time when the salary is only $9,000 a year? Simple enough question that I originally posed, yet Peter has decided to contort himself into a pretzel to try and explain how it could be that Cole might have $1 million.

The fact is that Cole has considerable 'family' money that allows him to live comfortably without working another job other than mayor, but Peter doesn't want to consider that. He tells us that in less than an hour, we could find Cole's tax returns and look at his income. And yet Peter takes days to respond to my initial query and he comes up with 'estimates' of Cole's income. If its so easy to find Peter, why didn't you just post the numbers from Cole's tax returns over the years?

And I'll spell out clearly the implication involved in working as Mayor full-time and not working another job as well. If a person is not dependent on the position of mayor for their livelihood - and by that I do not mean simply 'income' - but uses that time to make to work for those who support him, then it is easier for influential members of the community to have influence over the position of Mayor. Brad has his sights set much higher, and he is using this job to hand out favors to those who can help him down the road. His track record on that score is clear.

And let's use an example to prove the point that Peter himself has brought up as evidence of Brad's concern for the Carbondale community, such as the property tax break. Peter loves to tell us how smart Cole is, and how much good he's done for the residents of Carbondale by eliminating Carbondale's property tax. The thing is that close to 70% of the homes in Carbondale are not owner-occupied - they are owned by landlords. So, Cole's 'help' to Carbondale was largely to help the slumlords in this town by removing the property tax they pay on the shanties they own, thus increasing their profit. Take a look at the money that Cole is getting - lots and lots from the slumlords. Is that who we want our Mayor to represent - the Henry Fisher's of the world - or the people who live, work, and raise their children in Carbondale? Peter doesn't have to worry because he can pick up and go whenever, and wherever, he likes.

And as for Peter's comment about Brad's car not being replaced recently, that sure does look like a pretty new SUV Brad is driving around these days. What is it 3 or 4 years old? Well, I guess that is a pretty old car to a multi-millionaire like Peter, but for most of us it isn't.

Now, I have little hope that of this getting posted as it likely won't meet Peter's criteria of being 'interesting enough' for others to read, but it certainly felt good to get it off my chest. Better luck next time flailing at a response to one of my challenges Peter.

Silence Dogood

Peter in Carbondale said...

This is pretty standard of the comments I reject, but it has some content, so I'll put it up.

It is interesting to hear that Brad's family money is a fact. I'm not smart enough to get that information into a form I would call a fact. Please back this up with enough detail that it can be believed. I would expect a whole bunch of K-1's and interest in his tax returns if this was true. Not there? Oh.

Or are you saying that someday Brad will inherit money, but doesn't have it now? Actually, the most likely method of a baby boomer becoming a millionaire in their lifetime is by inheriting from their parents. So he will fit right in with the boomer's, if true.

Of course, if Brad's family had money. Staked him his college education (as my parents did ;)) and gave him a car too (my parents didn't :(), it would be easy to see how he could have saved lots of money. Maybe he had a trust fund too? Good for him. Of course, then we really would have $500k or $1M in the bank and he could afford to be mayor if he choose to. A big trust fund and a silver spoon would make him match Sheila wouldn't it?

Let' hit the car thing now. I have a 5.5 year old truck and it has 30k miles on it. It looks new, if I wash it (except that spot where I scratched it). Brad's SUV is at least 4 years old, I can remember the first time I saw it. It is a statement that he doesn't have kids that it is clean and polished. When I was single, I had time and need to keep my car clean too. Carbondale is a low mileage and low salt town, cars look good forever. Of course, if his parents want to buy him a new car each year, that is OK with me. They don't seem to be, but it is a free country.

Let's trace the money on rental property. If taxes go up... then rents go up. If taxes go down... then rents stay flat. I agree, cutting the property taxes was a good deal for the land owners of Carbondale. It was also a good deal if you wanted to build houses or other buildings in the city. Since Carbondale was and is starved for capital investments in the city limits, it was a smart thing to do for business development. Would you prefer to have a property tax and lower the sales tax, or just a city hall that is fatter?

I have often wondered what percentage of property in town is owned by Henry Fisher and the like. I know lots of people who are professors and running a few properties on the side. I have a couple of commercial buildings and a house. The professors, lawyers and me, are we slum lords? I bet the percentage of slum lord owned property is lower then you think.

I'm sorry if I have offended you by being more successful then you are. You are right of course, I can leave whenever I want to. But, that is true of most everyone else in town. As a matter of fact, a majority of the best people have already left Southern Illinois, it is one of our great problems.

Good idea about land owners getting the biggest reduction on property tax. Next thing you know, people with cell phones will pay the biggest part of the tax on cell phones. Or students will pay the most student fees. Or business owners will pay most of the payroll taxes. Of course, all taxes are paid for in the free market by people consuming what is being taxed, sooner or later.

Your rant was interesting this time, but I'm not sure what the point was. Maybe one of those 5 paragraph essay constructions would be helpful? You know idea, middle, conclusion.

I think you are staying that Brad is bought and paid for by land owners, because he is rich with family money? If you check a little American history, there is a long tradition of politicians rewarding land owners. Once only land owners could vote you know? It is a pretty standard economic development tool to give away property taxes to get people and businesses to build new buildings and drive jobs in a city. This is what Brad and the city council choose to do (of course, it was Brad's idea) and it has worked.

You have anything else you want to say?

Mad Math Guy said...

I bet the percentage of slum lord owned property is lower than you think.

If slum lord is defined by the state of the property, then this is so obviously not true its not even funny. Or haven't you walked by the rental houses by the old middle school, north of campus and east of Oakland, and north of Sycamore? You don't even have to be a trained code inspector to spot violations on a large number of these properties (starting with doors that are thin, broken windows, cracked foundations, and whatnot).

As to your success...bully for you. But I don't personally measure the worth of a person by the coin in their pocket.

Peter in Carbondale said...

If you have a problem with some buildings, call the city and complain. You might even read the building codes and figure out what meets them. Every foundation has cracks, every door is thiner then some other door.

I not only have walked by those houses, but I lived in some, had friends that lived in others back in my day as a student. I went to school at Lincoln and know the city, between the SW and Lewis school, fairly well.

I'm just wondering if your house has the same problems? When I was a kid, I was bit by the dog who lived at your house, I do believe.

I don't count success by money either, but I'm still more successful then you are. Money is a byproduct of success, not the goal. Go get toward my Father's numbers of papers, write a couple of books and we will talk about success. At least make full professor. You understand we are about the same age and I have about as many publications as you do (more if you include patents). At least, work as hard as Salah for a couple of years, then complain with some understanding of who you are complaining at. My Father and I can have a discussion about success with some equality, Salah is more successful than I, it isn't about the money it is about success.

I see the world with a clarity that you never will, it makes this blog fun to read. Imagine if the clarity you get in the classroom working 250 problems could be extended to people? What would you do, how would you write your own blog? What would you do with your life if you could understand people?

Think it over, there is more to life then walking around and hanging with the boys at Neckers. I have been reaching for the ring for many years, and I will do it again. Sometimes I fail (as I am now) and sometimes I succeed. Only by trying to be great, can you be great.

paranoid said...

If you know "mad math guy" personally, as it seems you do, you could have saved some of these comments to tell him personally.

anonymous 2/17/07 "intelligent response"
anonymous 11/29/06 "comments to prove the point"
and others

Peter in Carbondale said...

I have no clue if I know him, but it doesn't really matter does it? If you are using a math handle and you aren't Salah, it will apply well enough. :)

You know when you commented to this blog? That seems a little overboard doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I can always count on you for a good laugh, Peter. Just stop trying to guess who people are and respond to their comments instead of engaging in pathetic and juvenile ad hominem attacks. People might actually start to take you seriously.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Why stop? I'm just having fun. In a town full of people who think they are smart, but don't care about anything beyond being nice, I like to think of myself as a refreshing change. :) I don't really care about the commenter's, unless they have information to add to the discussion. After their new information runs out on a topic, they are just bait.

Don't worry, I don't take this seriously and you shouldn't either. This is Carbondale, a place where professors hope to be swallowed by Brigadoon and meritocracy is revered over excellence. I'm just trying to fit in.

You will be pleased to know that people come up and tell me they are reading this blog all the time. The readers far outnumber the commenter's. They like it when I give the commenter's heck. Some even like the blog.

Anonymous said...

Gosh Peter, you keep bringing up this amount of $150,000 that Cole just received from the state as part of his net worth. That wouldn't happen to be a settlement for his lawsuit against Blagojevich for being fired from the patronage position he was appointed to by former Governor (and convicted felon) George Ryan, would it?

I'm curious as to why you aren't upset that Cole is getting $150,000 of our tax money for a position that he was no longer entitled to once the new administration took over from Ryan (the convicted felon who appointed Brad to the $80k/year job doing party work in Southern Illinois)? Doesn't that trouble you in the least?

Peter in Carbondale said...

I'm not smart enough to know what that money is about in fact. Have you read anything else I have read anything in my Land of Corruption arc of articles? Everything about Illinois politics bothers me. But we have two mayor candidates who are both fully engaged in the Illinois system. In the end the voters (or non-voters) are getting what they deserve aren't they?

It sure looks like under the Illinois State rules that Brad got that job legally, doesn't it? When we compare Brad getting that job to Glenn Poshard becoming President of SIU recently, which is worse? Maybe we should change the state motto from Land of Corruption to Land of Patronage?

That being said, let's guess what happened. All we know is what the court decided for Brad (and the rest of that class) and we think that Illinois paid everyone off to go away. Maybe he was qualified and had good recommendations? People get hired all the time into jobs, who are we to say? I know that the job Brad had wasn't a job where he had to resign, I know that Ryan rigged the rules to make it so they couldn't be fired in the probation period (by shortening it), it looks like Ryan did it well enough so it was legal. Under the rules of the game, it looks like Illinois lost in court and paid people off to settle. Lawsuits are the American way.

Do you think this is a big deal? Next thing you know you will want to talk about the rumor about how Sheila bugged her stepmother so much she had to move out of Paul's house. There are lots of rumors out there about everyone, I try to ignore them unless they are interesting.

Anonymous said...

So, what does a rumor about Sheila bugging her stepmother have to do with taxpayer dollars going to a mayoral candidate for a patronage position? Does Sheila's relationship with her stepmother affect you somehow?

Not sure how you can compare Ryan giving a job to Cole with the BOT of SIU giving Poshard the job of President, but please feel free to continue trying to compare things that aren't comparable.

Peter in Carbondale said...

How does Brad having a state job effect you? How is it different then Sheila's relationship with her step mother? I guess both are only questions about the ethical character of the candidates?

I think that Brad getting a low level job, isn't nearly as bad as giving a patronage job at a very high level. Low level administrators are just low level administrators. He ws probably a good choice, at least he works hard. Choosing the wrong President for SIU because of patronage has a potential wide ranging effect. You watch the secret squirrel games on Poshard's job search right? Talked to people on the search committee yet?

It could well be that Poshard was the best person for that job, but it sure looks like that game was rigged. It could be that Brad was the best person for that state job, but it sure looks like patronage. It could be that Sheila did something to her step mother, but it sure looks like standard family BS. Everyone faces dirty rumors, but what do they really mean? In these cases, they look like nothing, but the game of life being played.

No one is going to jail, everyone is coming out clean as a whistle, it is just the muck rakers, who want to not talk about what is better for the city, that play this game. Now everyone listed here is in the scrum of Illinois politics, they knew this came with the territory.

Anything else?