Tag: lexus keyed lugs

Dallas City Hall’s Moronic Budget Crisis

Dallas, like so many cities, is in crisis over a money shortfall from a drop in tax revenue. At first glance this seems reasonable, given the economic situation the entire country is in. But, the reality is quite different.
Here are the facts:

City’s budget for 2008-2009 $ 2.7B
City’s budget proposal for 2009-2010 $ 2.72B
Budget estimated Shortfall $190M
Jobs cut as a result 900+

If you want to see a pdf by the city here it is. The first thing you notice is that the city’s budget still went up by 20M this year. Which seems odd considering the 900+ layoffs. So the city manager and city council approved a budget increase last year, in what was obvious to everyone else, a major recession. I was aware that we were heading into a recession in 2007. So how is it that city hall did not even think to be conservative in its figures in 2008 when planning for 2009? More interestingly is to look at the city’s budget over time. Looking back at the previous few years:

Year Budget Increase over previous year
2002-2003 1.72B na
2003-2004 1.92B 10%
2004-2005 2.05B 6%
2005-2006 2.22B 8%
2006-2007 2.34B 5%
2007-2008 2.65B 12%
2008-2009 2.7B 2%
Total Difference $980M 64% Total Increase in 7 years

So the city has increased its’ budget $1B in 7 years, which is a 64% increase. Does that number seem really high to anyone else? But, lets take a look at the population estimates for Dallas. In 2002 the city had a population of 1.19M. The Census Bureau estimates the city had a population of 1.279M in 2008. Now that number really jumps out at you. The city’s population has only increased by roughly a 89K people in the same time frame, which is only a 7% increase. So our city budget went up 64% over the same time period that our population increased 7%. That in my book is out of control spending. That should indicate that the city’s taxes are too high to begin with. So using the Census Bureau’s data I thought I would look at a couple of cities of similar size to Dallas. San Antonio is slightly larger than Dallas at 1.3M and has a 2010 budget of 885M, that is a whopping $1.8B less than our budget.  San Diego, which has essentially the same population as Dallas, ( but a much higher cost of living) has a 2010 budget of $3.01B.  Houston with a population of 2.2M, quite a bit larger than Dallas, only has a budget of $2.3B, $400M less than Dallas.

So our city is laying off people and screaming about a drop in tax revenue, when the reality is it has been over taxing its citizens and spending like mad. Having lived in Houston for 4 years, I can’t say Dallas has any real advantage over that city’s level of service. So why is the discrepancy so large? What is our city wasting our money on? The really profound thing to me is I have noticed no changes with an extra billion in “services” the city is spending. There are still potholes everywhere, crime is out of control and response times suck. My car had both windows smashed out by thieves the other day and the police no longer even come out to take a look at the crime. All these extra cops on the streets and no service. It is a joke and so is the city council.

Removing Keyed lug off the wheel of a Lexus

lug.jpgSo Lexus thinks they are geniuses putting these “keyed lugs” on each tire. It keeps your wheels from moving on without the vehicle in tow. I can see their point, but I would have to question why someone driving one of these vehicles new would park it in an area where tires are going to be jacked. Steeling tires takes time. So, unless Tony Stewart’s pit crew turns to crime I don’t see why these things are standard.  The only time I see cars with stolen tires is when they are left on the side of the freeway for several days, usually that is the least of their problems.

I would venture to guess that most Lexus owners are not going to abandon their car in favor of walking somewhere. Then decide to leave it on the freeway for several days until they can convince some unemployed and otherwise bored and wayward friend to get a rope and help them tow it back to their house ( assuming it still has tires). But, I may be wrong. Anyway I digress, these damn keyed lugs are nothing short of a nightmare, if like me, you attempt to take it off and a section of it breaks away. What you are left with is a useless, unremovable, lug and a tire that isn’t going anywhere without dynamite. The ultimate anti-theft and anti-tire maintenance lock in the world.  It’s akin to padlocking your front door and then throwing the key in the lake, except a lot worse.

To begin with these things are made of chrome alloy, so think about something really hard and then beat it to a pulp with these lugs. Women should wear these things on their wedding fingers, they are so hard. My first thought was to drill a hole in the top and then insert a bolt remover which looks like a reverse threaded drill bit with a cone shaped head. 10 minutes of drilling later and a drill that was starting to melt, I had made a scratch on the surface of the lug and nothing more. I would have better luck nailing jello to the wall. So then I thought I would get out a cold chisel and try to beat until it decided to turn and loosen up. My cold chisel lasted all of 3 minutes before it bent out of frustration and decided it would rather be in the garbage can than continue on with the torture I was imbibing on it. So I took a minute to curse the lug, wish it eternal damnation, and then decided to get out the diamond tipped grinder.
Grinders really are the catch all of tools. They can remove just about anything you throw at them and are a favorite on many tv shows for the sparks they throw when grinding metal. They are the Billy Mays’ quick chop of the construction world. So I went to town on this bolt with my grinder. It was a slow process to essentially cut the bolt in half and then break it with a chisel but it did eventually give up and let go. The trick of course is to not destroy your wheel with the grinder while cutting the bolt. It takes a skilled and steady hand. But it can be done.