Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is commercial fishing heading to the bottom?

In Tuesday's Gongwer's news service, there was a blurb about a bill introduced by Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton) to appropriate $4 million from the state's general revenue fund to buy out all the remaining commercial fishing licenses in Ohio. His bill is a companion to the bill Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) introduced in June.

According to Gongwer's, these bills are a result of an investigation by the ODNR Division of Wildlife Enforcement into fishermen who failed to properly report their catches of yellow perch. Several convictions have already been handed down and there are five more cases pending. The unreported amount stands at 40 tons.

This is the latest in the sqabble between commercial fishermen and charter fishing boat operators. The ODNR denies taking sides in the conflict. Obviously, the commercial fishermen are opposed to the bill, saying it will costs jobs and create a monopoly on perch for Canada. Additionally, a petition from the Ohio Fish Producers Association says that the measures will mean bankruptcy for some license holders.

Gongwer's reports:

"Sen. Spada said the recent convictions of several commercial fishermen convinced him of the need for the legislation.

"Based on the court cases, I believe they've been lying, cheating, and stealing fish from the residents of Ohio for profit," he said. "This is a classic case of underreporting income," the former Internal Revenue Service agent added.

Sen. Spada said he researched the issue thoroughly before sponsoring the bill and came to the conclusion that the penalties were too insignificant and the problem was too extensive for other options. "It costs us a lot more to regulate these commercial fishermen than we get in fees from them."

Buying out the commercial fishing industry would also be benefit the travel and tourism industries in Ohio, Sen. Spada added."

When I read this I was astounded. If commercial fishermen have not reported catches properly, then they should be punished. But to eliminate commercial fishing simply because some of the fishermen did something wrong seems a bit of overkill. By the logic of this argument, whenever there is an act of embezzlement in a bank we'd have to eliminate the banking industry.

And the sponsors of these bills are Republicans. I fail to see how the Republican philosophy of "less government interference" is reflected in these actions. Besides, if it costs more to regulate this industry than the government gets in fees, perhaps Sen. Spada should look at REDUCING regulation rather than eliminating a whole industry from our state, especially at a time when Ohio is hurting for jobs.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lucas County Fair

It's FAIR time!

The Lucas County Fair opened last night with a parade and the crowning of the fair King and Queen.

To be honest, I'd not attended a fair before I became a always seemed to conflict with our family vacation to Put-In-Bay for a sailboat regatta. But it's one of the things that I've come to truly love about being a commissioner.

I'm constantly impressed by the kids in the 4-H and FFA Clubs. They're intelligent and polite; they know how to meet adults and hold conversations with them; they're talented and knowledgable about their crafts and animals. Basically, when people say they're afraid for our future because of our kids (and every generation does this), I think of the great kids I meet at the Fair and know that we'll be in good hands.

Most people go to the Fair for the rides and the entertainment - and this year promises to be a fun time as well. But when you go, make sure you walk through the barn areas and see the animals and horticulture displays, too. Take some time to ask the kids about their projects or see them "flip a turkey," ride the horses or show the dogs they've trained. After all, this is where city and country meet!

For a complete schedule, click here. Also - today (Tuesday) is FREE!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

on being a talk show host...

Well, my guest hosting on WSPD for three hours was fun, but a lot of work. Don't get me wrong - I'm sure there are more strenuous jobs out there. But it's not as easy as you would think just listening every day.

Between watching one screen on the left for callers and one screen on the right for the time and breaks (you'd think they'd be able to combine the two), and having one sheet with the schedule and another with the cue lines (and yes - I messed up on those a couple of times), along with all your notes for discussion or topic AND making sure to keep your mouth facing the the mike.....Well, let's just say that you juggle.

Some of the things that didn't flow well are simply a matter of experience. People who want to do this for a living have probably had the lessons and market research in branding and consistency. I know that the tag line is "news talk 1370 WSPD," but remembering that I had to say it before they could go to the news was something else entirely. Likewise the time...I don't think that I did the time right more than once. It's not just "it's 3:15," it's supposed to be "it's 3:15, 15 minutes after 3." Now WHY it's this way I still don't get, but I understand that the market research says this is the best way to do it.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I did three interviews: Dr. Paul Heinrichs, from the board of the Dental Center of NWO, Matthew Faltes (sp?) for the regular 'after the bell' segment, and Lisa Renee Ward of GlassCityJungle. Although my sincere apologies because I'd written, in several places, Lisa RENEE, but called her Lisa MARIE. Extremely embarassing, but she's forgiven me, thank goodness.

I'm very grateful for all the positive comments about my stint - and for the understanding when I goofed something up - thank you!

As Brian Wilson explained, most radio stations don't have a backup of talent for covering vacations, so having a couple of people in the community who are willing to come in and host is an added advantage. Maybe I'll be invited do this again sometime.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Guest Hosting on WSPD

Just wanted to let y'all know that Monday afternoon I'll be guest hosting Brian Wilson's show on WSPD.

In addition to all the normal stuff that they do on the show, I'll be having Lisa Renee Ward of Glass City Jungle as a guest. Lisa will be on after the 3:30 p.m. news break and we'll be talking about blogging in general, her blogging specifically, and how blogging can be an alternate source of news imformation in addition to being a catalyst for political involvement.

Hope those of you who frequent the blog sites will listen in!

Mosquito Control

I've gotten a lot of questions over the last several days about mosquito control and spraying...

There's also a pretty interesting - and bothersome - post on Toledo Talk about Gallon Nippers - very large blood-sucking creatures (no - not politicians).

So I thought that you may be interested in how mosquito spraying is done and who is responsible.

All the details are available at the website of the Toledo Area Sanitary District. Under state law, the Judges of the Common Pleas Court, following a citizen petition, established the district in 1945. David G. Huey is the current director appointed by the judges. The TASD is responsible for mosquito control throughout the entire county.

The website has information on mosquitos, West Nile Virus, contact information and spray schedules - except that the spray schedules do not appear to be updated with the actual dates. They work west to east and the Point Place area was sprayed within the last couple of weeks, for reference.

If you have questions, you can call them at 419-726-7891.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ADAS - Mental Health Board Merger

There's been some coverage of this merger in the news over the past several days, but the real story about this started much earlier.

Originally, when the state mandated that Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services be created, counties were given the option of forming a new board or of incorporating those services into their existing Mental Health Boards. Eight counties chose separate boards, the primary reason being the concern that adas-type services would be 'lost' in the delivery of services to mental health clients. Lucas was one of those counties.

In 2001, the Mental Health Board, in doing their proper role of evaluating their performance (especially in light of levy requests) conducted a study, the results of which were easily available on their website until today. To see the whole report, click here.

That report focused on the Mental Health Board, but included a review of how agencies work together and it stated (on page 12), "TAC believes that many of the benefits of coordination and collaboration can be achieved without combining the LCMHB with the ADAS board."

In 2003, state law was amended to allow, between July and December, a window of opportunity for the 8 counties with separate boards to consider a merger of those boards. Both the ADAS and Mental Health boards said they were not interested in a merger. Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, on Dec. 16th, introduced a resolution to have the boards merge. Comments from ADAS and MHB members were against such a merger and the BCC, listening to and respecting the recommendation of the boards, voted against the resolution to merge (2-1 Thurber & Barlos against, Wozniak for).

But then the makeup of the BCC changed and in 2005, the ADAS and MH boards were asked to do a study on a merger. The report of their study was completed in February, 2006, and the state law, at the request of the boards in Lucas County, was again amended to allow another opportunity for merger. Like in 2003, the window for merger was between July 1 and December 31st. (To see more of the maneuverings on this, see my post of May 7th, "Of Special Meetings and Grubs....)

While there is significant benefit to studying such an issue, the report our boards produced as a result of this study was certainly lacking - or perhaps my expectations were too high.

If I were asked to study an issue, I'd produce a report which identified the issue or concern; produced documentation on the extent of the concern; detail options - and their pros and cons - to address the concern; report on the decision as to the best option; and then make a recommendation which would include 'next steps' in the process. In this instance, if the recommendation was to merge, I'd also include sections in the report on the impact of the decision on funding sources, wages/benefits (if the agencies had different scales), organizational structure and any layoffs, costs of office renovations, etc...

These items were lacking in the document presented to the BCC. In fact, the rationale for the merger was only two pages with bullet points, and many of the pages in the study were only a paragraph or two on a page, making the entire report about 15 pages (including an organizational chart and a page on the amendment language).

Because this was a merger of two public agencies, I believed that many of the questions I had should be asked and answered during the public hearing - which I did on July 6th. However, as is typical, legitimate questions such as "what's changed since 2001 and 2003 which you were opposed to this path," and "are you prepared for questions about this just being a way for ADAS to get levy monies since their individual levy was rejected several times by the voters," received criticisms of an "ambush" and an "attack." In bringing up the levy - critical funding for the Mental Health Board and a bullet point under their rationale for merger - I was accused of bringing up a "wedge" issue and trying to "disguise the purpose of the merger."

Unfortunately, critical thinking and analysis are often criticized because they bring up issues others would rather not have made public.

However, during the merger hearing, two critical points were made - it's just that they weren't included in the report. They were:

1) In addressing the coordination of services for dual-diagnosed or "cross-over" clients, there needs to be one entity responsible and accountable for the services and the outcome. That is best accomplished by merging the two boards.

2) A single board can accomplish more on behalf of their clients than the two boards can accomplish individually.

I have asked that the merged board create a document - bullet points, if possible - to list the many things that can be accomplished under point #2.

The study did identify some salary savings by eliminating duplicate positions, but since the disparity in wages between the ADAS staff and MHB staff was not addressed, it's still uncertain how much money may be saved. And the costs of office renovation, changes in letterhead, etc... were not detailed - but neither were any savings that providers of services may see as a result of dealing with only one agency instead of two.

In the end, this was a done deal as soon as Commissioner Wozniak had another vote on the BCC - and everyone knew it. The issue then became - if we're going to have to do this, how do we do it right? Which may explain why the documentation in support of the merger is so lacking...

Despite my concerns, I voted to support the merger. In the final analysis, I decided that the unanimous support of the Commissioners was more important to the people who depend on these services than any objection I could raise, given the fact that the merger was going to happen regardless. I hope that I've made the right decision, but since the new Mental Health and Recovery Services Agency will have a levy on the ballot next year, only time will tell.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Of taxes and freedom

I'm a big fan of Texas Congressman Ron Paul (R) who always looks first to the authority within the Constitution before casting a vote. He does a weekly column and this week's Texas Straight Talk column is entitled "A New Declaration."

His premise is that Congress has lost sight of what our founding fathers intended when they established this great country, especially when it comes to taxation ... and, as we celebrate our birthday, now is a time to look at where we are.

While I hope you'll read it in its entirety, he concludes the short essay with this:

"Everybody seems to agree that government waste is rampant and spending should but cut—but not when it comes to their communities or pet projects. So members of Congress have every incentive to support spending bills and adopt a go-along, get-along attitude. This leads to the famous compromises, but the bill eventually comes due on April 15th.

Our basic problem is that we have lost sight of the simple premise that guided the actions of our founding fathers. That premise? The government that governs least is the government that governs best.

When we cut the size of government, our taxes will fall. When we reduce the power of the federal bureaucracy, the cost of government will plummet. And when we firmly fix our eyes, undistracted, on the principles of liberty, Americans truly will be free. That should be our new declaration."

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday mornings I love to watch fishing shows on, however, they've got hunting and outdoors programs. So, in surfing around, I found an interesting website about all things related to the Fourth of July.

James Heintze, American University's assistant university librarian, is the researcher and author of the information on this site. It includes notable July Fourth celebrations and music events, speeches, and a listing of what the presidents did each holiday. It even notes Independence Day weather and cuisine.

"People need to know the history of their country in terms of the impact of the Declaration of Independence and what it means to them today,” continued Heintze, whose 300-page Fourth of July Encyclopedia will be published by McFarland later this fall. (from an article by Adrienne Frank for the American Weekly Summer News)

In reading his history of the "first" holiday celebration, I found the similarities to our current activities somehow reassuring. Enjoy!

Philadelphia, July 4, 1777

One of the most elaborate celebrations in 1777 and the first organized celebration of its kind occurred in Philadelphia. This event had all of the elements of typical future celebrations--the discharge of cannon, one round for each state in the union, the ringing of bells, a dinner, the use of music, the drinking of toasts (it would subsequently be traditional to have one toast for each state in the union), "loud huzzas," a parade, fireworks, and the use of the nation's colors, in this case the dressing up of "armed ships and gallies" in the harbor. The following is a description of the event as printed in a local newspaper:

  • Yesterday the 4th of July, being the Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstration of joy and festivity. About noon all the armed ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colours of the United States and streamers displayed. At one o'clock, the yards being properly manned, they began the celebration of the day by a discharge of thirteen cannon from each of the ships, and one from each of the thirteen gallies, in honour of the Thirteen United States. In the afternoon an elegant dinner was prepared for Congress, to which were invited the President and Supreme Executive Council, and Speaker of the Assembly of this State, the General Officers and Colonels of the army, and strangers of eminence, and the members of the several Continental Boards in town. The Hessian band of music taken in Trenton the 26th of December last, attended and heightened the festivity with some fine performances suited to the joyous occasion, while a corps of British deserters, taken into the service of the continent by the State of Georgia, being drawn up before the door, filled up the intervals with feux de joie. After dinner a number of toasts were drank, all breaking independence, and a generous love of liberty, and commemorating the memories of those brave and worthy patriots who gallantly exposed their lives, and fell gloriously in defence [sic] of freedom and the righteous cause of their country. Each toast was followed by a discharge of artillery and small arms, and a suitable piece of music by the Hessian band. The glorious fourth of July was reiterated three times accompanied with triple discharges of cannon and small arms, and loud huzzas that resounded from street to street through the city. Towards evening several troops of horse, a corps of artillery, and a brigade of North Carolina forces, which was in town on its way to join the grand army, were drawn up in Second street and reviewed by Congress and the General Officers. The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal. Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen, and amen (Virginia Gazette, 18 July 1777). (emphasis added)
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