Ark Encounter’s $18 million tax rebate suspended after selling its land to its non-profit entity

Image: YouTube screen capture

It’s not secret Ken Ham does not understand numbers, but it seems he was hellbent on proving this by screwing himself out of a potential $18 million in tax rebates to save himself $700,000.

Last week, I reported that Ham sold the Ark Encounters land, which was owned by the for-profit theme park to his non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for the grand sum of ten dollars.

By doing so, the state realized that Ham’s park was no longer a for-profit entity and was no longer eligible for a tourism tax rebate. Ham had previously sued the state for discrimination to access the tax rebate but has now undone all of that to save a little money.

In a letter sent to Ark Encounter attorneys, the state wrote:

It has come to our attention that your client, Ark Encounter, LLC, is in breach of its Tourism Development Agreement… with the Commonwealth. On July 10, 2017, the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet… became aware of a quit claim deed transferring the Ark Project land, with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same, from Ark Encounter, LLC, a for profit company, to Crosswater Canyon, Inc. a non-profit company.

We believe that your client is aware that they may not be eligible for state tax incentives if the Ark Project is owned by a non-profit legal entity. Answers in Genesis, the parent company of Crosswater Canyon, Inc., and Ark Encounter, LLC clearly states on its website: “The for-profit LLC structure also allows the Ark Encounter to be eligible for various economic development incentives that would not have been available with a non-profit structure.”

Furthermore, as a the Tourism Development Agreement is between the Commonwealth and Ark Encounter, LLC, not Crosswater Canyon, LLC, the current owner, please be advised that no further incentives may accrue from sales tax imposed on sales generated by or arising at the tourism development project, as of the date of transfer of the property, June 28, 2017.

Now, when it comes down to it, there is only one explanation as to why Ham would knowingly do this. Ark Encounter sales numbers would have to be so low that he knows he would make less than the $700,000 he is trying to save by becoming a non-profit park.

The park’s $18 million rebate is based on sales tax collected at the park. The park is then reimbursed that tax collected up to $18 million. If they projected that over the next few years their rebate would be less than $700,000, they would have felt the non-profit move would make sense.

If they believed they could see more than that $700,000 but still went ahead with the sale, they would just be idiots.

Either scenario is totally plausible here.

In the end, the park finally lost the tax rebate status they should never have had. The state and city should now be in the process of reviewing all their benefits handed to them when the park was sold to them as a tourism venture that would benefit the community.

Now that the park has moved towards being a non-profit, they will offer little to nothing back to the community and continue to exploit the good people of Kentucky.

Edit: An official from the state’s the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet emailed me letting me know that the Ark Encounter has 30-days to rectify the issue that puts them in violation.

Ken Ham sells Ark Encounter land to himself for $10 to avoid paying taxes

Image: YouTube screen capture

Creationist Ken Ham, the notorious owner of The Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum has once again found a new way to swindle the good people of Kentucky out of their money.

Not satisfied enough with winning a court battle worth $18 million in tax rebates after convincing a judge that his for-profit business, which is actively using religion as a form of employment discrimination, he has now sold the land the theme park sits on, worth $48 million, to his own non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for $10. You read that right, ten dollars.

This allows Ham to claim his land is a non-profit and not subject to the new safety tax passed by city officials which would have collected 50 cents of every entry ticket sold. This move also worries local politicians and residents because it sets up the park to claim exemption from all other taxes as well that includes the funding of public schools. Continue reading “Ken Ham sells Ark Encounter land to himself for $10 to avoid paying taxes”

The New Arab: New atheism’s move from Islamophobia to white nationalism

Image: Getty (From The New Arab)
“New atheism” has of late become increasingly sympathetic to right-wing causes and voices.

For years it was accused of anti-Muslim bigotry in the form of Islamophobia.

Proponents argue that these new atheists are simply criticising religion, and while in some cases this is true, opponents are quick to point out other times when the attacks turn to demonising Muslims in general, inflaming anti-Muslim bigotry.

The growth of such bigotry in the new atheist movement has not subsided, and in fact, in recent years has only grown to give rise to voices that promote bigotry across a broader field, bringing new atheism from a seemingly Islamophobic movement to a white nationalist one.

It’s become increasingly harder to differentiate the so-called liberal-centrists of the new atheist movement and those on the far-right, supporting Muslim travel bans and fanning the flames of racial tension around the United States.

Continue reading at The New Arab

Flag Burning Shows Conservatives Don’t Want Freedom, They Want Authoritarian Rule

Public Domain

On July 4, the day in which Americans celebrate its independence from England, a celebration of freedom for most, I decided to test said freedoms against those who defend it the loudest.

I tweeted a photo of a person holding a burning flag with the caption, “Happy Fourth,” and then awaited the results. Continue reading “Flag Burning Shows Conservatives Don’t Want Freedom, They Want Authoritarian Rule”

Radicals Chasing Utopia sets out to be your user guide to radical movements

Image: Kalispera Dell / CC 3.0

In a time of worldwide rebellion against the political norms, it can seem impossible to keep up with the onslaught of movements set to change the course of world history.

Thankfully, Jamie Bartlett’s Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change World (Nation Books, June 13, 2017), seeks to connect readers to a handful of those movements. Bartlett brings readers deep inside the libertarian movement as they attempt to create a perfect libertarian utopia, filled with imaginary Bitcoins and so much freedom you’ll die because you can’t afford healthcare, to the pits of the far-right as Bartlett spends time with the former English Defense League’s Tommy Robinson.

When it comes to current events, the Robinson chapter that resonates the most as around the globe far-right, anti-immigration groups attempt to pass themselves off not as racist, but rationals. Bartlett embedded with Robinson through his attempt to launch Pegida-UK, an anti-Islam action group that Robinson hoped would be less controversial than his previous stint with EDL. Continue reading “Radicals Chasing Utopia sets out to be your user guide to radical movements”

Stop fetishizing non-violence in the face of white nationalist terrorism

Image: YouTube screen capture

Let me start here, Matthew O’Neil is a wonderful friend of mine and when I ran the Danthropology blog he was a frequent writer for the site, even when we disagreed like we do here.

Since the original punch of Richard Spencer on January, 20, Matthew has been vocally against such actions, and have, as you likely noticed, strongly in favor.

Today, Matthew posted a blog titled: It’s Time to Stop Advocating for Violence.

I want to go through Matthew’s piece and look at his major claims. (Matthew is in italics). Continue reading “Stop fetishizing non-violence in the face of white nationalist terrorism”

Stop waiting for Democrats to save health care and demand single payer now

Image: Public Domain

Both Republicans and Democrats seem to agree that health care needs to be better. For the Republican Party, they have shown us their desire. With the House of Representatives voting on Thursday to overturn many of the hallmark pieces of the Affordable Care Act in favor of their American Health Care Act. The AHCA is nothing less than a death sentence for millions of American and a massive gift to insurance companies.

The Democrats, however, only want to add what they believe are incremental improvements to the ACA, ignoring the fact that the majority of Americans, including many Republican voters, want single-payer health care.

Moments after the devastating vote, a reporter asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats would finally support single-payer, to which she answered, “no,” without skipping a beat.

This, coupled with the party’s choice to throw all their weight behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign, instead of Bernie Sanders who would have taken populism toe-to-two against Donald Trump, shows the ever growing disconnect between voters and the Democratic Party. Continue reading “Stop waiting for Democrats to save health care and demand single payer now”

Truthout: How Gentrification Is Killing US Cities and Black Lives

”How to Kill a City” exposes how gentrification monetizes the loss and destruction of Black communities.

When tens of thousands of African Americans returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they found a new, unwelcoming city. A city being transformed one hipster coffee shop at a time. Through gentrification, New Orleans leaders have managed to create a smaller, whiter New Orleans, one unwelcoming to those who have called the city home for their entire lives.

Many Louisiana politicians, business leaders and developers saw Katrina as an opportunity to destroy low-income housing and replace it with upscale condos and boutiques. Rich, white businessmen saw an opportunity and they didn’t hesitate to take it.

“Nobody can refute the fact that we have completely turned this story around,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in 2015, talking of streamlined government and year-over-year economic growth. “For the first time in 50 years, the city is on a trajectory that it has not been on, organizationally, functionally, economically, almost in every way.”

Continue Reading: How Gentrification Is Killing US Cities and Black Lives

Constitutional attorney films commercial at Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter

My friend Andrew Seidel paid a visit to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, filming a Freedom From Religion commercial, and giving viewers a wonderfully educated walkthrough of the park.

You’ll notice, throughout the whole video there are little to no guests to be seen.

No, this wasn’t because Andrew requested a closed set, but because no one goes to visit this awful park.

According to the Friendly Atheist, only 450 people visited the park that day.

Ham has been boasting about his visitation numbers for more than a year but the truth is, 450 in a single day is not enough to sustain his business.

It’s also not enough to boost the local economy as he has claimed it would. It’s been such a little boon to the local economy that city officials have expressed their disappointment in the park’s attendance.

Check out the video Andrew posted below and see for yourself, not only how foolish the entire park is, but just how empty it is as well.

Kentucky legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ students

Image: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons
Image: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

As reported earlier, the Kentucky senate passed  Senate Bill K17, which would allow schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students. Well, the bill made it through the House as well and went to the governor’s desk.

Now, Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin has signed the bill into law.

According to The Hill, the bill “would allow student organizations at the commonwealth’s public schools and colleges to bar gays, lesbians and transgender people from joining, opening a new front in a national battle over so-called religious freedom laws.”

The law also allows “students to engage in religious activities and to express religious views in public schools and in their assignments. It would also allow teachers to include lessons about the Bible in discussions of religion and history.”

This is the kind of “religious freedom” secular activists have been worried about. These laws give preference to religious students and allow them to discriminate against LGBTQ peers by hiding behind their religion.

With President Trump in office, local and state governments are free to pass such laws because they don’t have to fear the federal government coming after them.

The war on the LGBTQ community has only just begun and as activists, we are going to have to fight hard to protect this already marginalized community even more.