Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Study in Contrasts - Lt. Gov. Candidates Part III

My previous two posts were the comments and points made by each of the Lieutenant Governor candidates during their presentations at the County Commissioners Association of Ohio summer Conference in Akron.

I did my best to highlight their statements objectively, offering no opinion or that's what this post will do.

Both Tom Raga (R running with Ken Blackwell) and Lee Fisher (D running with Ted Strickland) were highly professional and complimentary to each other. As Fisher said, the campaign is not about the individuals, but about their ideas. And both indicated an appreciation and respect of the other while still differing on the ideas of the campaign.

Both were excellent representatives of their ticket. Raga's presentation was a bit more formal while Fisher seemed much more at ease as a candidate for lt. governor than he did as a candidate for governor.

Raga's presentation was policy. Fisher's presentation was emotion. Raga focused on specific initiatives and plans, emphasizing the core philosophy of the ticket (lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and limited government). Fisher focused on an appeal for urgency and a return to faith in elected leaders.

Despite the Democrat Party's national emphasis on "culture of corruption," Fisher - recognizing that his audience consisted both Republican and Democrat elected officials - made a point of saying that no political party has a lock on virtue.

Raga's speech included specific initiatives or goals the Blackwell ticket would work toward. Fisher mentioned only one specific (the Knowledge Bank), focusing instead on a personal appeal to set aside partisanship and work together rather than against each other.

Raga did not say anything negative about Strickland or Fisher, perhaps following the old adage that you don't acknowledge anything about your opponent. Fisher spent several minutes questioning Blackwell's stand on the TEL (Tax Expenditure Limits) and his consistency on issues. He also attacked Blackwell for focusing on "socially divisive" issues.

The style of delivery, along with the subject matter, was a study in contrasts. I don't know what it is about Republicans and Democrats, but you often will hear Dems publicly praise other dems on the dais, or in the audience. Republicans do this sometimes - but not nearly as often or as well as the Democrats do.

In general, Republicans tend to focus on the logical aspects - here's a problem and here's what I'm going to do about it. Democrats tend to focus on the "feeling" aspects - this is terrible and we all feel badly about it so here's how I'm going to fix it.

It's a rare politician who can combine both aspects effectively into a presentation (former Presidents Reagan and Kennedy come to mind). Watching the audience, it was clear that the two different approaches were effective with their respective party members. But it was also clear that many more women than men were nodding their heads in agreement with the emotional perspectives.

Whether the difference in approach is reflective of individual style or campaign strategy is yet to be determined - and only futher appearances will answer that question. However, both men made it plain that their gubernatorial candidate looks at local government as a partner and, in making that point, told the commissioners what they wanted to hear.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lt. Governor Candidates Part II

At the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio summer conference last week, both lieutenant governor candidates came in to speak. This is the second of a three-part posting where I will highlight the specific points made by each candidate (parts 1 and 2) and then share my impressions of the presentations (part 3). (Best if read in order.)

Because he arrived second, Lee Fisher (D) was the second to speak. Comments are given in bullet points and are not verbatim.

Background: President and CEO of the Center for Families and Children, serving northeast Ohio...home to a nationally recognized fatherhood initiative. Oversees 300 people and an $18 million 2004, winner of the non-profit executive of the year award. Former state senator, state representative and former Attorney General of Ohio. Candidate for governor in 1998. Notable accomplishments: author of the crime victims assistance law.

  • Not exaggerating when I say that this is the most important political race, and it doesn't matter what your political affiliation.
  • There's a tendency for "politicians" to speak from the mountaintop..."we know better than everyone else." I find this arrogant. We won't always be right and we won't always agree, but you'll say that this administration (Strickland/Fisher) is fair, listens, is responsive, flexible and treats us as full and equal partners.
  • 26 years ago, the issue was unfunded mandates - still an issue today.
  • No one in local government can do it alone - commissioners are closer to the gound than we'll ever be - we'll park our political and partisan hats at the door come January. Best leaders understand that politics stop on November 7th.
  • This is a race for Ohio's future - stakes are huge - restoring pride and hope and faith. Our state is the heart of America - we are in the deepest trouble in last century - the edge of a cliff and governor choice will determine whether or not we go over.
  • We're first in the wrong things and last in the good things.
  • First in scandal and corruption - no political party has a lock on virtue - Democrats got arrogant and complacent and got kicked out of government in 1994...I was part that got kicked out, but I don't think I was arrogant or complacent...just part of the group.
  • Ohioans have an intuitive sense of fairness. Don't want to see one-party control on a federal, state or local level, even though it's more understandable from a local level.
  • A lock on offices leads to arrogance - a belief that a party "owns" the offices. You can't have politicans believe that they can trade offices like stops on a monopoly board.
  • Blackwell focuses on socially devisive issues - abortion, gay rights, guns...Regardless of where you stand individually, there is a difference of opinions which needs to be respected. But focusing on such issues creates fear and diverts attention from the role of government in creating jobs and educating children.
  • Ohio is 50th is small business creation, 39th in the number of college degrees, 1st in home forclosures, 10th in terms of the highest tuition rates...old bumper sticker I like: If you're not angry or offended, you're not paying attention.
  • Need to put party aside - this affects the future of YOUR families and the approach you take to government is more important than position papers.
  • Five-point agenda: 1) restore honesty, integrity and accountability; 2) stop trying to turn Ohioans against each other - turn toward each other to turn Ohio around; 3) don't distract Ohioans from what's most important; 4) live within our means and invest in what matters; and 5) single most important thing - tell the truth...lead with real solutions not quick-fix slogans.
  • Democrats should be as fiscally conservative as Republicans have the reputation for being.
  • Wants to do a top to bottom review of state government. For every problem there's an answer that is simple, neat and wrong.
  • TEL stands for Truly Escaping is insulting, offensive and inexcusable to tell people we're going to put guardrails on the government road, but we're going to handcuff you and not allow you to steer the car as it goes down that road.
  • Don't need someone who says one thing in the primary and another in the general election - who says one thing to Republicans and another thing to everyone else.
  • Need a governor who will be consistent even if it means he loses your vote.
  • Isn't this harsh, you'll ask? This is a campaign for the future - not about who's nicer - it's about who's the better candidate. I'm not going to squander the opportunity to make the point.
  • What will happen when Blackwell gets to be governor? Will he say that the statutory TEL isn't working? Will he focus again on passing a constitutional amendment? I'm not being partisan when I say be careful about him bringing back the TEL.
  • What we will do...unbreakable link between educational attainment and economic prosperity - the more you learn, the more you earn. Build a first-class educational system...learning is life-long...state's responsibility to give education to young.
  • Knowledge Bank - create a culture of thinking about college in kindergarten...invest money to supplement earnings - each child gets a bank account and the state will put money into the account every single year - ask businesses to match money from the state...every child should be able to say that finances won't prevent me from going to college.
  • Reduce school reliance on property tax - state must take the largest piece of the funding pie.
  • Strategically invest in strengths - focusing on the strengths of each region.

CONCLUSION: I'm passionate and apologize for going on so long. The state will be your strongest, fairest partner, bringing flexibility and responsiveness. And no unfunded mandates.

***NOTE: Fisher did not stay within the requested time limit CCAO had given.

Next column will be my personal impressions of the two speeches and the points made...

Lt. Governor Candidates Part I

At the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio summer conference last week, both lieutenant governor candidates came in to speak. This is a three-part posting where I will highlight the specific points made by each candidate (parts 1 and 2) and then share my impressions of the presentations (part 3). Please remember that the comments are directed to County Commissioners and that, as a creature of state statute, we are technically an arm of state government implementing state services on a local level.

Let me first acknowledge that both candidates were highly professional and friendly with each other - one apologizing for the same stump speech he'd just given and the other complimenting the approach that they've taken in the campaign. This was their second joint appearance in the campaign. Both recognized the other politely in their openings. Lee Fisher (D) said about Tom Raga (R), "Campaigns are not about people, but ideas. I'm glad we're focusing on the issues."

Because he arrived first, Rep. Tom Raga was the first to speak, so his comments start us off. Comments are given in bullet points and are not verbatim.

Brief background: State Representative in his third term from the 67th District. Previously a township trustee in Deerfield Township. Vice Chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee, Chair of Majority Policy Committee.

  • good government is about partnerships between state, county, townships and cities
  • we need to forge a new understanding of how to deliver services in better partnerships - better managing the property tax system
  • This ticket's agenda: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and limited government to get the state moving again.
  • Americans cut their taxes and protect their earnings by moving. Ohio is 3rd in total tax burden and 50th in new business start-ups.
  • We need tangible, real results - starts with fiscal restraint. The TEL (tax expenditure limit) is off and the "statutory TEL" (SEL - recently passed and signed into law) applies only to state functions. The state needs to go first to prove that it can work.
  • Tax Reform - need to accelerate the phase out of the corporate tax - the tangible personal property tax.
  • Regulatory Certainty - need to mandate that state regulations can go no further than their federal counterparts. Regulations slow us down. There are 350 permitting and taxing authorities in the Cleveland area alone. Louisville and Indianapolis - with unigov - are examples of how we have to champion regionalism to be successful.
  • Plan to boost the economy by leasing the turnpike - other states have done it - use the proceeds to fund investment in economic development..."jobs fund."
  • Education - pre-k education and early care are priorities. Starting early and providing assistance to parents means more parents working, decreasing money spent in the criminal justice system and less state spending on health care costs. (I missed part of this topic because of a person who took a cell phone call during the presentation...his point was that by starting with earlier education, the state would see long-term results.)
  • ODJFS (Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Service) - he acknowledged that it is always a challenging relationship with every attempt by the state to control costs giving the impression that more restrictions will be placed on counties. Plan to help the department get their act straight and get the proper information to counties - counties can't be negatively impacted because of state problems. (This has to do with state interpretations and instructions to counties about federal law which the feds later say are incorrect.)
  • CSEA (Child Support Enforcement Agency) - the ticket recognizes that a loss of funding for these operations means less collected which means more reliance on public welfare - it's a double hit.

CONCLUSION: there are a long list of issues. The next governor will have to partner and the strongest partner will be the county. This ticket realizes that the actions of the state dramatically impact local governments. From state perspective, must treat all citizens equally, but provide flexibility for unique areas. Best chance for the state is this ticket's agenda: fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and limited government to get the state moving again.

***NOTE: Raga stayed within the requested time limit CCAO had given.

Next column will be Lee Fisher's speech...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Flag Day - June 14th

The following is the history of Flag Day, taken from the National Flag Day Foundation. Please remember to fly your flags on the 14th!

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.

Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.

Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

And a presidential proclamation:

Flag Day and National Flag Week, 2006 A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

From our Nation's earliest days, Old Glory has stood for America's strength, unity, and liberty. During Flag Day and National Flag Week, we honor this enduring American symbol and celebrate the hope and ideals that it embodies.

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress established the flag of a young Nation, whose 13 original states were represented in the flag's 13 stars and 13 alternating red and white stripes. Today, the Stars and Stripes commemorate the revolutionary truths of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. As Americans, we revere freedom and equality, the rights and dignity of every individual, and the supremacy of the rule of law. These fundamental beliefs have guided our country and lifted the fortunes of all Americans, and we have seen their power to transform other nations and deliver hope to people around the world.

During Flag Day and National Flag Week, we also honor the men and women who carry our flag into battle. Through their bravery and sacrifice, they help keep America safe and advance peace and freedom around the globe. By flying the flag, we express our gratitude to these heroes and all those who help ensure that the many blessings of our great country continue for generations to come.

To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949, as amended (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as "Flag Day" and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966, as amended (80 Stat. 194), that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as "National Flag Week" and calling upon all citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2006, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 11, 2006, as National Flag Week. I direct the appropriate officials to display the flag on all Federal Government buildings during that week, and I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by flying the Stars and Stripes from their homes and other suitable places. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Congrats to Maumee!!!

Congratulations to Maumee, the Mayor, City Council, administration, businesses and citizens on being named an All-America City!!!!!

This recognition, along with being named one of the "Best Places to Raise a Family: the Top 100 Affordable Communities in the U.S." from Frommer's, is well-deserved.

A video of their winning presentation is expected to be on their website later tonight.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Point Place Days Parade and Car Show

Some photos from the Point Place Days parade and car show...thanks to doknowdocare who took them and sent them to me!

The Honor Guard...

Antique Fire Truck from Firefighter's Musuem

Point Place Heritage Society's "Teen Town"

Shoreland Elementary Float

Twirl Michigan

Washington Township Fire Department rescue boat

Photos from the Car Show

License Plate Fee

Today, the BCC voted, 2-1, to increase the license plate fees. I voted no.

Overwhelmingly, the people who spoke to me told me that they're already overtaxed and they didn't want to have to pay more. Several mentioned the large number of levies requested to be on the ballot in November, along with rising prices everywhere (gas, oil, electricity).

The County Engineer made a very valid statement when he said that roads and bridges are the legitimate function of government. He's right. But when government spends so much money on non-essential services, it's hard to convince people to support an increase for legitimate governmental functions.

County Engineer Keith Earley has done a good job, so far, of managing the roads and bridges. He's correct when he says that construction and material costs are increasing, meaning that the money currently collected is going to cover less.

What my fellow commissioners fail to understand is that government cannot keep increasing fees and taxes, just because our prices go up. Something has to give, because the same people we want to collect more money from are experiencing the same increases in costs in their personal lives as we are in government.

We should be cutting our expenditures, reducing the size of government, and prioritizing our efforts and spending toward the mandatory government functions. But we're not, and it's our children who will pay the price.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Sheriff's Bus

Lucas County has a vehicle policy. It was revised in 2004 after former Treasurer Ray Kest was cited with a DUI. It pretty much limits the use of county-owned vehicles to employees and official business.

It's a good policy, as it is based upon the Ohio Revised Code, and does allow for exceptions - for such things as law enforcement and emergency management purposes.

It also requires that elected officials who want exceptions under the policy request them of the Commissioners. This provision is to accommodate for the fact that other county office holders are not accountable to the Commissioners, but the county-owned vehicles are titled under the Board of Commissioners and we're responsible for providing insurance and liability for them.

On December 1, 2004, Sheriff James Telb wrote a letter to the BCC requesting exemptions under the policy for certain vehicles. He wrote: "Further, the Elexibil bus is utilized at various times for special assignments and for official business of the Lucas County Sheriff. It may be used to transport individuals not employees of Lucas County." His exemption request was granted.

Thursday, June 1st, this county-owned bus was used for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's public relations tour of his proposed bike path in the South end of Toledo. I've also been told that this is the bus used by the Mayor for his regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours with his staff.

According to the prosecutor's office, the Sheriff has the flexibility under the law to determine the definition of "official business." While the Sheriff does have jurisdiction throughout all of Lucas County, he and his deputies are not the primary responder to crime inside the city limits.

Now, I'm sure that someone could stretch the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours through Toledo - you could argue that you were looking for illegal activities, drug houses, graffiti and gang activity, etc... You could.

But, there is no way to twist the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include a tour of a bike path with the mayor of any city. And since the operations of the bus are paid for by the County, I'm sure that the Mayor appreciates us picking up his tab.
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