Friday, February 29, 2008

Trash Tax Lawsuit

Local attorney Kurt Wicklund, on behalf of Karen Shanahan, has filed a lawsuit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court asking for a permanent injunction against the 'trash tax' ... also referred to as the garbage fee.

I broke the story last night on Eye On Toledo and you can listen the podcast here (at the 6:45 p.m. mark).

As Karen explains, she believe the garbage fee is actually a tax - and an unvoted one at that. She's asking for both a temporary and permanent injunction, return of all monies collected and attorneys fees.

Of course, in today's paper, City of Toledo Law Director John Madigan calls this a political ploy.

"Initial review of the complaint leads to the conclusion that it is politically motivated and utterly devoid of merit," he said in the e-mail.

"The city will take appropriate action in response to this suit and is confident that it will prevail in any court proceedings."

I've talked to Karen about her position on this numerous times and consider myself to be a pretty shrewd judge of political actions. I don't think this is even remotely politically motivated. Karen believes this is wrong and that it was implemented illegally. She's worked extensively on this for several months, doing research on her own and then talking with numerous professionals about the issue and her questions. Karen raised questions that no one from the city answered - and now they'll have to ... in court.

Further, even Councilman Joe McNamara raised the issue of the legality of the 'fee.'

"Mr. McNamara said he has been fearful that a taxpayer would file a lawsuit, claiming the refuse fee was enacted illegally."

I'll keep you posted on the details of the court case as they evolve.

Samsphere Chicago 2008

The Sam Adams Alliance has decided to host Samsphere Chicago 2008, intended to enable bloggers and e-activists from across the country, who focus on local and state-level politics and who are dedicated to the principles of individual freedom and limited government, to gather together to network and share ideas.

When I was first notified of this event, I thought it was one of those national conferences that would feature hundreds of I responded that I would love to attend if I could arrange it in my schedule.

Then I got the invitation and realized it was a rather limited guest list with some pretty impressive names. Confirmed attendees include: Erick Erickson from Redstate Blog, who was recently named the sixty-ninth most influential conservative in the United States by the London Telegraph; Patrick Ruffini, who was the eCampaign Director at the Republican National Committee and webmaster for Bush-Cheney ‘04; Erik Telford, manager of new media for Americans For Prosperity; and Leslie Carbone, a writer from D.C. whose work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The American Enterprise and National Review Online.

Oh - and one of my favs, Chuck Muth!

(And then I wondered why I had been invited - but I didn't want to ask and have them realize my invite might have been in error...LOL!)

So, in a couple of weeks, I'm Chicago bound - honored to be included in the group and excited about meeting with such influential and knowledgeable bloggers.

As with any conference, we'll have discussions and speakers (John Fund is already confirmed) and I will, of course, blog from the event to share with you what I learn.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More details on the 3/4% temporary payroll income tax

Last night on Eye On Toledo, we discussed cuts we can make in the non-safety departments funded by this temporary tax. Details are available here.

Bottom line: we can survive without this income - if we're willing to re-focus city government on essential government services and bring employee benefits in line with what those footing the bills enjoy.

Suprise! Blade endorses Obama

Well, it's not really a big surprise, considering ... but it is a front-page editorial of their endorsement for the March 4th primary.

What is surprising is their reasoning for the endorsement - not because it's different from perspectives the editorial board has taken in the past, but because so many of the reasons for their support have absolutely nothing to do with being the President.

They reference Sen. Barack Obama's statements to them during a meeting earlier this week: "'We have to have a government that works for ordinary people."

What is an "ordinary" American? You? Me? Bill Gates? An unemployed single mother? How would you define 'ordinary' when it comes to the American people? And I thought the whole point of our form of government was that it works for ALL and not just for some? Is Sen. Obama saying that government should NOT work for un-ordinary people?

This makes no sense to me, but it seems to be something that resonates with The Blade editorial board...

After bashing the current administration and touting Obama's 'international' upbringing, they offer this:

"Those who say that he is inexperienced in international affairs overlook that he sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The last two Democratic presidents, Mr. Clinton and Jimmy Carter, didn't have a day's service in Congress, much less foreign policy, before they took office, and it certainly hurt them."

Sitting on the Foreign Relations Committee does not give you foreign relations experience. I believe that being in foreign service would provide such - or being, perhaps, a businessman with an international company or client list. But perhaps that's just me.

And since the President of the United States is an administrative position - the Executive Branch of government - I don't see any relevance whatsoever to 'service in Congress' or other such legislative body. Former Presidents Clinton and Carter were governors with similar administration/executive branch positions. They had experience in appointing a cabinet, preparing budgets, overseeing the administrative functions of a state, and being the individual responsible for the final decisions - certainly much more relative to the position of President than being a member of a body of collective voters with no direct responsibility for the functions of a government.

"Additionally, Mr. Obama, a younger and more physically vigorous man, will be in a far better position to push Americans into solving one of the biggest problems we face: that of an unhealthy, morbidly obese generation of young people, a health crisis that is costing the nation billions. We applaud the fact that, urged by his talented wife, Michelle, he has quit smoking. That alone should be an inspiration to millions."

First, he's 'a younger and more physically vigorous man' than...Hillary Clinton??? Obviously he's a man - but the comparison is incomplete, so who knows what they mean.

And I guess I didn't realize that the role of the President was to "push" Americans into "solving" the problem of 'morbidly obese generation of young people'. In a nation of individual liberty and responsibility, don't Americans have the ability to make such decisions about their weight on their own without the government telling them how to behave or what to eat?

As for his decision to quit smoking - good for him. But I'd rather be inspired by a President who had a plan for reducing the costs of government - even if it was a plan with which I disagreed.

The editorial then excoriates Sen. Clinton, including how she and her husband "in effect looted the White House of expensive china, furniture, and other items when they left in January, 2001." Funny, I didn't find any criticism of this by The Blade at the time.

"And, if that weren't enough, they set up a gift registry to furnish their new home in New York." This issue was covered in a column by one of the reporters who worked in the Washington bureau, but I could find no editorial condemning such action.

(sidebar: I used the archives of the paper available at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. If anyone is aware of articles/editorials I may have missed, please let me know and I'll made the proper corrections.)

"We need this election to mark, at last, the end of the Vietnam period." To be quite honest, as someone past the age of 40, I thought we left the 'Vietnam period' quite some time ago, so I'm not sure what point they're trying to make. Maybe I'd have to be a Democrat to understand this?

They conclude with this:

"Barack Obama would be, figuratively if not literally, the first president of the 21st Century, much as John F. Kennedy was the first president born in the 20th century — each necessary to his time, and each able to see the world with a fresh, clear view."

Obama may, indeed, have a fresh, clear view, but I don't think his speeches or his positions detail the substance of such a perspective very well. His policy initiatives, so far, seem to differ only in details from what we've heard from other Democrat candidates. And the editorial really doesn't identify what, specifically, about his perspective is so fresh or clear.

There's been a lot of discussion about the personal appeal of Sen. Obama - he has it, definitely, often moving supporters to fainting and/or tears. As I well know, there are many people who will vote for a candidate because they like the person, even when they may not know - or even disagree with - the candidate's positions.

I can't help but think the paper's editorial board has been swept up with all the others in 'Obama adulation' for if they have more substantive reasons for supporting his candidacy in the primary, they certainly didn't list them.

Personally, I'm less interested in the 'person' than I am the 'positions.' I want to know where a candidate stands on such vital issues as the appointment of judges, the appropriate role of government, the ability to command the Armed Forces, the priorities in the federal budget, the national debt, the funding gaps in Social Security and Medicare, the interpretation of the Constitution, etc...

Those are the issues that will determine my primary vote - not whether or not a candidate has an "inspiring life story" or a "fresh and optimistic world view."

Fellow SOBer, Interested-Participant, has an opinion about this editorial, too!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Temporary payroll tax - are police & fire layoffs avoidable?

Tonight on Eye On Toledo, I took a look at the .75% temporary payroll tax and options for cutting Toledo's budget. A podcast of the show is available - along with highlights of the discussion - on my WSPD webpage.

Specifically, we talked about the $19 million that goes to the Police and Fire budgets - and the options that exist for preventing the layoff of employees in these departments. Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, called in to share his thoughts.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow at 6 p.m. for continued discussion of how the City can survive without the .75% temporary tax.

Why Are Americans Giving Up Their Freedom?

This is a column published in by David Strom, the President of the Minnesota Free Market Institute. Until recently he was President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, one of the largest and most successful state-based taxpayer advocacy organizations in the country. It's a powerful commentary that we should all heed, which is why I'm reprinting it here.

Are Americans tiring of individual liberty?

It sure seems so. How else can you explain the proliferation of laws that regulate the most mundane aspects of our lives, and the mostly passive reaction of Americans to the ever increasing micromanagement of our lives?

Liberty has always been a tougher sell than many of us assume. We all want the freedom to do as we like, but few of us are as committed to allowing others to act contrary to our notion of right and wrong. Majorities have always sought and often found ways to impose their views upon minorities. The most vocal minorities have often been successful in imposing their will on the majority, at least for a time.

So there is nothing new about threats to Individual liberty being a daily part of our lives. What is new is that the institutional barriers to regulating our daily lives have effectively broken down. It took a Constitutional Amendment to pass prohibition of alcohol (and repeal it). Who today expects a Constitutional fight over smoking, obesity, trans-fats, or any of the myriad personal issues now under the purview of government control?

America was founded on the belief that government power should be strictly limited, because the alternative to limited power was unlimited power. The framers of the Constitution were rightly concerned that without strict institutional barriers to the expansion of government powers there would eventually be no barriers at all. Power, in any form, longs to be absolute.

Unfortunately, the concept of limited government is becoming an anachronism in today’s America.

There are no limits on what government can regulate because we have accepted the notion that there are no limits to the benefits government can and should bestow upon us. Fifty percent of health care is paid for by the government—including universal health care for all of us over 65. Your trans-fat laden donut today could mean higher taxes for me in the future. Ditto for smoking and other risky behavior.

The pervasiveness of government power over our lives is so complete that at times it becomes invisible. Today only the most obvious and egregious violations of our liberty seem to get people riled. For instance, Californians rebelled at the idea of government control over their thermostats, but Americans have in the main meekly submitted to massive social engineering in their daily lives.

Americans have made a bargain with the devil. Dispensing with the idea of limited government in realm of benefits has meant dispensing with the idea of any limits to government power at all. Once we accept the notion that government should ensure that our pursuit of happiness succeeds, we have accepted the notion that government has the right to define what a happy life should look like.

We can call this trend the encroachment of the “nanny state,” which it is, or the spread of “liberal fascism,” which it also is. But it is also the inevitable result of Americans’ increasing desire to have government guarantee that more and more aspects of our lives turn out all right.

Limiting government power requires limiting the benefits that government can bestow upon us, and right now that seems a bridge too far for some Americans. The revival of the conservative movement will not depend upon conservatives making peace with the welfare state, as some are arguing. It will depend, instead, on tapping into Americans’ uneasiness regarding the encroachments of the State into more and more aspects of our private lives.

Can conservatives succeed in convincing Americans that government benefits, and hence power, should be limited? Perhaps. But only if they remind Americans (as Barry Goldwater did) that a government big enough to give you everything you want is one big enough to take away everything you have.

Questions for our presidential candidates

On February 19th, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner sent the following letter to the three leading candidates for president, Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama:

I write congratulating you for the outstanding campaign you have run against formidable competition.

I also write giving you the opportunity to outline for Toledo and Northwest Ohio residents your plans to stimulate economic recovery in the urban centers of America. I will personally pay to reprint – word for word – in the local paper, both the Saturday and Monday prior to the March 4th election, your response.

The cities of America have many families struggling to make ends meet. Nearly 40 million Americans are officially poor – a family of three living on less than $16,000 annually. And 80% of such poor are living in urban areas.

During the years 1992-2000, the mayors of America saw the following programs greatly assist those living in cities:

∙∙∙ Community Development Block Grants
∙∙∙ Brownfield Clean-up Grants
∙∙∙ Assistance to public housing agencies
∙∙∙ “Cops Now” money to increase the policemen on our streets

Since 2000, most of these programs have been dramatically reduced. And our citizens are hurting.

And I believe Toledoans would be interested in what you would do to reopen NAFTA discussions to protect American workers, particularly those living here in the mid-West. Will you commit to re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its sister agreements, which have been proven to disadvantage workers in this region of our country while simultaneously facilitating the exploitation of workers and the environment in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America?

Please outline your programs to assist our citizens, including your ideas to assist those threatened by foreclosure action upon their homes.

I would ask for your response by February 27, giving me the time to reprint your response prior to the primary election on March 4.

Toledoans will appreciate your answers to the questions being raised.

I await your response, and thank you for assisting Toledoans in knowing where you stand on these important issues.

I do not know if he's received any responses yet, but if there are ads in the paper on Saturday, we'll know...

It's a creative idea for the mayor of a city to write to the presidential candidates, but I wish Carty had focused on things that are Constitutionally within the control of the President. 'COPS' grants, local housing and even brownfields clean-up are - or should be - the purview of local communities and states, not the Federal Government.

NAFTA - and the negotiation of treaties - is certainly a duty of the President. But for as many individuals who believe NAFTA has hurt them, there are others who have benefited from the increased trade and opportunities NAFTA has provided. Unfortunately, Carty's letter is written from the perspective of a Democrat mayor, as that is, after all, what he is.

Foreclosures are a problem locally, but despite all the media attention to them, only a small percentage of homeowners are in this situation. And his question to the candidates presumes that the President should do something about this 'problem' despite no Constitutional authority to do so and absent the understanding that Congress is really the entity that regulates this market.

And then there is this column by John Stossel which points out, better than I could, the lack of influence a President has to manage the economy.

"Politicians who talk about managing the economy ignore the fact that, strictly speaking, there is no economy. There are only people producing, buying and selling goods and services. Keep that in mind, and one realizes that government action more often than not interferes with the productive activities that benefit everyone. When politicians propose regulations to fix some problem, they should ask if some earlier intervention created the problem and if the new regulations will make things worse. The answer to both questions is usually yes.

The economy is far too complex for any president -- no matter how smart -- to manage."

Rather than ask what these candidates would do to solve our local problems, I'd ask them questions about the federal budget and financial obligations. Here are some of the questions I'd ask the candidates:

1. Do you believe that budget deficits matter? If so - what are you going to do about them?

2. What would you do to balance the federal budget? What specific spending cuts would you make to achieve a balanced budget?

3. The tax cuts passed since 2001 are set to expire by 2011. Do you support extension of the expiring tax cuts? Why or why not - and please identify if some should expire while others stay.

4. How do you propose to keep Medicare from overwhelming the federal budget?

5. By about 2015, promised benefits from Social Security will greatly exceed dedicated taxes. What steps would you take to close Social Security’s long-term funding gap?

6. Candidates often talk about the 'middle class' in terms of programs and taxation. Please identify earnings criteria (total family income for a family of four) that describes your definition of "middle class." At what level of earnings would this family of four move into the 'rich' category?

While these questions are not as pertinent to the City of Toledo budget as Carty's are, I think they are better questions to ask the people who are vying to lead our country.

What question would you ask????

Monday, February 25, 2008

Save the date - Mobile Meals Chili Cookoff

Mobile Meals of Toledo will host their 16th annual Great Chili Cookoff on Saturday, April 12, at the Stranahan Great Hall.

There will be competitions for corporate, amateur, media and restaurant. The event runs from noon until 5 p.m. with awards at 4 p.m.

* Taste a variety of award-winning chili
* Vote for your favorites for the People's Choice Award
* A celebrity panel of judges will award the Judge's Choice
* Chili Corporate Team Competition - Noon-4 p.m.
* Chili Amateur Team Competition - Noon-4 p.m.
* Chili Media Team Competition - Noon-2 p.m.
* Restaurant Competition - Noon-4 p.m.
* Salsa Tasting from Area Companies

Entertainment consists of music, chef demonstrations and the Black Swamp Cruisers' Classic Car Show. There will be food and beverages available, including Toft's Ice Cream!

If you've got a killer chili recipe, you have until March 28 to enter, with registration forms available for all categories here. If you just want to taste while supporting a terrific cause, mark April 12th on your calendar.

This is a fun and delicious event with 100% of the proceeds going to support Mobile Meals' Home Delivery program. Hope to see you there!

Tidbits: TPS, OCRC and .75% tax challenge

Toledo Public School Board: 14 individuals have applied to fill the position being vacated by Robert Torres. Several observations:

1) interesting how 'unsuccessful' candidate shows up in all the descriptions of previous candidates except Theodore Jobe...

2) interesting criteria for selection - "Mr. Steel said the most important attribute is to be able to function well as one of five in a board setting, "making sure it's someone who has a skill set to do the work of the board.""

They're looking for someone who'll work well with the other members - not someone who represents a certain skill set or a diversity of ideas...rather, someone who will get along. While working together amicably is important, I fear such criteria will lead to a choice of individual who 'agrees' with the board, rather than someone who would present the necessary 'challenges' to current board thinking.

3) wouldn't it have been interesting if they could have selected the replacement PRIOR to their levy vote on March 4th? And do you think that anyone of these candidates got their home address incorrect - as their last appointment did?

Carty's Ohio Civil Rights Commission issue: he's going to hire two outside attorneys to handle this case for the city at an additional cost of up to $9,999.00 - as that's all he can spend without going to city council for approval.

1) while the law director says this makes sense considering that the case may cost the city a lot of money, I thought that such cases were the responsibility of the law department and the attorneys already on staff. Considering the potential for such types of cases, you'd think there would be someone in the law department who had the skills to handle this issue - and was already on the payroll.

2) this case isn't about settlement, it's about winning. And that's our mayor - Carty Finkbeiner - who sees this, imho, as a personal affront, thus as a case that must be won at all costs. Yes, costs you and I as taxpayers will have to afford.

3) $9,999 doesn't get you very many hours of representation at the hourly rates these attorneys will be getting. Most of that time will be taken up right away in researching the incidences and the documents. And then city council will be told that it would be a 'set-back' to switch attorneys in the middle of the issue, necessitating their agreement for funding these two individuals to the conclusion of the case.

And they tell us that we must pass the .75% temporary income tax proposal on the March 4th primary ballot or they'll be laying off hundreds of police and fire fighters because there's just no where else they can cut. Yeah - right!

And speaking of the temporary payroll tax:

WSPD issues this 75% Temporary Tax Challenge:

The city will provide:

1) the total projected annual income from ALL sources for Toledo
2) the total cost to provide all essential city services - those authorized and mandated only by the Toledo City Charter

What is the difference between these two numbers and is it greater or less than the $57.7 million generated by the temporary payrool tax??? If greater, WSPD talk show hosts will stop calling for the defeat of the tax. If less, City Council will reduce the city's budget to be in line with revenue.

Program Director and afternoon talk show host, Brian Wilson, predicts no one on City Council will accept this challenge...

Quote of the Day

From The Patriot Post:

"In a general sense, all contributions imposed by the government upon individuals for the service of the state, are called taxes, by whatever name they may be known, whether by the name of tribute, tythe, tallage, impost, duty, gabel, custom, subsidy, aid, supply, excise, or other name." ~ Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote of the Day

From The Patriot Post:

"Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." ~ Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776)

There’s a battle on the horizon for the future of conservatism. On one side are those who revere unchanging principles, especially a healthy suspicion of government. On the other are those who would refine old principles under the guise of adapting them to new situations—those apt to see government more as a force for good than a necessary evil.” ~ Andrew McCarthy

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Toledo Walleye???

I'm sorry, but I don't like it as the name of our new hockey team. I realize that it's a popular fish around this area...but it's a fish - and not a very challenging one at that...

Yes, it can see well in murky waters, to the point that the water is often characterized as 'walleye chop.' But that's about it. It doesn't put up much of a fight when caught - and it does taste good ... but do we want a hockey team known for being 'tasty when eaten'?

To top it off, the Walleye is the state fish of Minnesota. Will people think our team is from that state instead of from Toledo? Or will they figure that only Toledo would give such a name to a hockey team?

I guess I was hoping for more ... something that would be fierce or ferocious and inspire fear in our opponents. And I'm one who does believe that something strong and forceful can still be 'fan and family friendly' ... but at least it's better than 'peckerheads,'

Now, if they could be as forthcoming with the finances for the home of this new team...

Lucas County again the focus of presidential campaigns

In 2004, Lucas County saw multiple visits from presidential candidates and their surrogates. In fact, the Seagate Convention center was the site of 3 visits within 7 days, just prior to the election in 2004 - not an easy task, but one they carried out very well.

Again it appears that the county and surrounding areas will get its share of visits from the presidential campaigns as Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all plan to make stops prior to the March 4 primary.

What remains to be seen is the influence Ohio will have on the presidential race. In 2004, it went to Bush, but 2006 saw a sweep by Democrats for all but one state-wide office. Dems are hoping that momentum will carry forward, while the GOP hopes the state will stay in their column.

Be sure to tune in to Eye On Toledo on Wednesday, March 5th, as Fritz Wenzel, Communication Director for Zogby International, breaks down the results of Ohio's primary and the implications for Toledo and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Analysis of Toledo's proposed budget

Karen Shanahan is a former candidate for Toledo City Council. During her campaign, she started a website, Shanahan Select, that she has continued to this day.

Karen's been taking a very serious look at Toledo's proposed 2008 budget, along with some of the items included - like the trash tax and the ambulance takeover.

I want to compliment Karen on her analysis so far and strongly encourage you to read her various posts on the subject. She raises a lot of valid questions about the costs, estimates and previous decisions of council.

I can only wonder how different Toledo City Council might be had someone with her attention to detailed numbers - and penchant for fiscal analysis - been elected. After reading her posts, I think you'll agree that such questions and issues need to be addressed ... promptly.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Arrogance and consequences

"The arrogance of the young is a direct result of not having known enough consequences." ~ Harry Golden, The Right Time: The Autobiography of Harry Golden, 1969

I came across this quote the other day, and immediately associated it with Toledo's .75% payroll income tax that is on the March 4th ballot.

There are so many people talking about defeating this tax: because Toledo government spends too much on un-mandated items; because politicians are threatening police and fire BEFORE cutting unnecessary spending; because of Carty and his bad decisions - especially with the U.S. Marines and how he's handled that national embarrassment...or for any number of other reasons.

But the reason our elected officials behave this way is because they always have - and we (the collective 'we') continue to reward them by accepting additional taxation and re-electing them to office.

Perhaps it's time for them to 'know the consequences.'

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Carty - you're in a hole. Stop digging!

Yesterday the Mayor issued the following press release:

"During the past seven days the issue of the Marines being denied the opportunity to practice Urban Patrolling Exercises in Toledo’s Central Business District, has had quite a run.

Today it is a week old and I have these comments:

1. I stated in 2006 I did not wish such “patrolling exercises” to take place in the Central Business District. That was communicated, in writing, to the Marine Corps. I stand by that position today.

2. How the Marine exercises scheduled for last weekend came about, remains unanswered. Suffice it to say, communication among all parties involved was lacking.

3. I have great respect for the U.S. Marine Corps and the military, and my belief that the practice of “urban war exercises” in central cities does not conflict with my genuine respect for the military. The Marines will be welcome to Toledo, by myself, in the future and together we’ll work to find places appropriate for their training.

4. Deputy Chief Ron Spann, who met with the Marines in mid-January, was an excellent police officer, and a Deputy Chief of great distinction. His death was a great loss to his wife, Claudia, their three daughters and this City. We mourn his loss. Ron had met with the Marines, and when he was hospitalized shortly thereafter, Toledo lost its point of contact with the Marine Corps.

5. Some Toledoans disagree with my priority to protect Toledoans first and foremost. That is the Mayor’s job. I respect their right to disagree, regret that we differ on this issue, and wish that we now move forward.

6. Today I signed the Council legislation apologizing to the Marines. That apology is genuine and sincerely extended by all of us. We will learn from this experience and put procedures in place to ensure that this will not happen again."

Obviously, the Mayor just doesn't know when to stop digging an even deeper hole. This issue not going away just because you say so.

Let's take the most onerous problem first: an apology is needed. Even if Carty doesn't apologize for his decision, he can apologize for how he implemented it. Don't misunderstand; I think he needs to apologize for a lot of things in this incident, from the decision to the refusal to meet with the Marines on the day of, to the arrogance and delusional statements that this has no effect on Toledo's reputation. But...knowing Carty, he won't.

And signing the City Council resolution apologizing on behalf of the city doesn't get the Mayor off the hook for his responsibility to apologize for himself!

To blame a dead cop for the miscommunication? Outrageous! Even if the sudden death is somehow involved in the communication problems, you don't create another PR nightmare by making a point of it.

And then there is the admission that the Mayor doesn't know what's going on in his city. This leads to the speculation by many who know Carty and his personality that this incident has more to do with him 'not knowing' and his penchant of retaliation for defiance of his wishes than his actual concern about the issue in the first place.

And how ridiculous to expect that urban training can be conducted elsewhere in the city than an empty - yes, Carty, EMPTY - central business district over a weekend. We should be proud that we have the ability and support necessary for our U.S. Marine Corps to conduct such training - and that they choose to come here because of the way we've worked with them in the past. That's a compliment to us!

Lastly, Carty can talk about how much respect he has for the Marines, but actions speak louder than words. When an officer wanted to meet with him last Friday afternoon after learning of the sudden cancellation of the exercises, Carty refused. Yes, refused. The officer waited 45 minutes in the lobby of One Government Center because Carty didn't even want him on the 22nd floor. It is this specific action by the Mayor that belies all his protestations of respect and support for the U.S. Marine Corps.

I continue to be disgusted by all of this. If Carty really wants to 'move forward,' then he can apologize. However, given the circumstances, I don't think an apology will work at this point ... for if it were offered, it would appear as if it were only being done to try and put an end to the issue - and not out of sincerity for actually having made a mistake.

As I say in my Toledo Free Press column this week, perhaps the only way to truly send a message Carty would understand is to vote down the .75% 'temporary' payroll tax, making this Carty's $57.5 million mistake.

Friday, February 15, 2008

An apology to the Marines? Not really

Carty Finkbeiner will sign the City Council resolution apologizing to the Marines for the way they were treated last weekend when, after months of planning, they were told to 'get out of the city' and not conduct their urban training exercises.

But - Carty, himself, won't apologize. He still thinks he did nothing worth apologizing for.

And, if you read the story - or listen to any of the podcasts on WSPD - you'll note that he doesn't think this has any type of detrimental impact on the reputation of Toledo.

Delusional...and this editorial from WTOL's Bob Chirdon says it all.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quote of the Day

From The Patriot Post ... perhaps Mayor Carty Finkbeiner should remember this:

Founders' Quote Daily

"Here sir, the people govern."

~ Alexander Hamilton (speech in the New York ratifying convention, 17 June 1788)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Contract with Conservatives

From Bobby Eberle at GOPUSA's The Loft:

"...the conservative base has seen the Republican Party go astray. From runaway spending, to big government programs, to assaults on our First Amendment rights to amnesty for illegal aliens, conservatives have become disheartened. Conservatives are told to be loyal to the Republican Party, yet the Republican Party has shown no loyalty to the conservative base. Conservatives are told to fall in line and work for Republican candidates, yet Republican candidates are not working for conservatives.


After years of failed promises, however, the conservative base needs something more than assurances. We need a contract... and that is what the Contract with Conservatives is all about.

The elections of 2006 showed what can happen when Republican officeholders do not follow through on core Republican principles. Turnout goes down, and Republicans lose. The trend is looking even worse for 2008.


America can thrive under conservative leadership and government. The Republican Party is best equipped to deliver this kind of leadership, but too often, it has not. The time has come when conservative voters can no longer be taken for granted. For our time, effort, money, and votes, we need a pledge. We need a pledge from our presidential nominee to uphold the core Republican values that built this party, and which have taken a backseat to politics in recent years.

The Contract with Conservatives is that pledge. It is a pledge to uphold the major conservative ideals that have been pushed aside over the past decade."

This is the contract he suggests:

Contract with Conservatives

Immigration Reform

* Secure America's borders
* Enforce employment laws
* No amnesty

The American people have spoken, and the clear message is that immigration reform starts with secure borders. In a post-9/11 world, we should expect nothing less. In addition, the American people do not support amnesty. Candidates must repudiate amnesty and show respect for the American people by showing respect for the law. Illegal aliens should not be given special consideration for citizenship and should not be put ahead of those seeking to come to America legally. Conservatives will work for candidates who pledge to put border security first and who pledge to not put illegal aliens ahead of those seeking citizenship through legal means.

Tax Reform

* Make President Bush's tax cuts permanent
* Reduce taxes, both on business and individuals
* Simplify the tax code by moving to a flat tax or the Fair Tax
* No favorites -- All tax cuts should be across the board

The tax code must be simplified, and all taxes should be reduced. The tax code should focus on its core function -- a means of raising revenue. The tax code should not be a vehicle for social engineering, and the reduction of taxes should not pit one socio-economic group against another. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to cut taxes and simplify the tax code, while not engaging in class warfare.

Size and Scope of Federal Government

* Reduce the size of the federal government
* Reform entitlement programs
* Respect states' rights and limit the reach of the federal government as stated in the Constitution
* Cut spending
* Support a balanced budget amendment
* Eliminate earmarks and support stand-alone spending bills

It is not enough for the federal government to only grow by a few percentage points. In the end, it still leads to bigger government. The federal government must SHRINK. The Republican Revolution was built on this core Republican principle, and conservatives will support candidates committed to shrinking the size and scope of the federal government. The pork must go! Earmarks and pork-barrel spending must be eliminated. These practices lead to corruption and are not conservative. The federal government should do only those core jobs enumerated in the Constitution. Other governmental responsibilities should fall to the states. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to cut spending, shrink government, and eliminate earmarks.


* Vigorously nominate and support the confirmation of judges who follow the law, not those who legislate from the bench
* Wage a real fight against left-wing attempts to block judicial nominees

Nominating a conservative judge simply to let him or her languish without an up-or-down vote is not acceptable. Judicial nominees, who follow the law rather than make new laws from the bench, deserve full and enthusiastic support. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to nominate strict constructionists and who will not wilt in that support even under left-wing attacks.


* Respect the rights of the unborn and promote laws which will protect innocent human life
* Support the overturning of Roe v. Wade
* Block any efforts to fund or promote embryonic stem cell research

Conservatives believe in a culture of life. This culture must be embraced and advocated by our Republican leaders. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to promote a culture of life and who work for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. No candidate can say they are "100% pro-life" and also support embryonic stem cell research. This research results in the destruction of innocent human life. Research proves that adult stem cells are as good or better for curing diseases, and thus the use of embryonic stem cells is moot. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to support life at every stage.

Free Speech

* Repeal the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act
* Embrace First Amendment rights

The Campaign Finance Reform Act is an assault on free speech and must be repealed. The law resulted in a rise in soft money advocacy through the actions of 527 organizations while other groups were not allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights to support a candidate of their choice. This is wrong. Conservatives will support candidates who pledge to repeal this law and support the free speech rights of all Americans.


Not all conservatives will agree with all of these points, especially if they are pro-choice. More from Eberle:

I want Republicans to win. Why? The reason is simple. I want conservative ideals to be promoted and implemented into government. Winning for the sake of winning is not even a hollow victory. It is nothing. Conservatives are told to be loyal to the Republican Party, yet the Republican Party has shown no loyalty to the conservative base. Conservatives are told to fall in line and work for Republican candidates, yet Republican candidates are not working for conservatives.

This year, my support comes with a very large string attached. I want my presidential nominee to pledge to support the Contract with Conservatives. If he does, then I will work for the nominee and encourage others to do so. But we must know that our hard work will be something. Lower taxes, smaller government, a commitment to life, support for free speech.... these are timeless issues, and Republicans should be leading the charge.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Contradiction in Mayor's excuse for banning Marines

There is a problem permeating the issue of our Mayor refusing to allow a company of U.S. Marine Corps reservists access to Toledo's downtown area for training.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has repeatedly stated that having Marines running around with guns and firing blanks in the central business district of the city on a Friday afternoon is not appropriate, considering the number of workers who would be leaving the downtown area at the same time.

Today, our local paper has quotes that include the presence of children transferring buses downtown on their way home from school as further justification of the decision.

And many individuals who have agreed with the Mayor's position have referenced the timing as their reason for supporting the decision.

But the facts about the training - when it would have begun and when the troops would have been on the streets - are missing, conveniently so from the Mayor's statements.

The Marines' advance team was notified of the Mayor's decision upon arrival in the city - at 3:20 p.m.

"Sergeant Davis, who traveled ahead of the five-bus convoy, stepped from his vehicle into downtown about 3:20 p.m. and was told by a city employee that the mayor wanted him and his soldiers packed up and out by 6 p.m."

According to numerous sources, the Marines were not scheduled to arrive until the 4-5 p.m. hour. They would have unloaded themselves and their equipment, set up their headquarters, received briefings and instructions and would not have been out on the streets until after the evening rush hour - and certainly after all the kids had finished with their school bus transfers.

Additionally, if it was the number of people during rush hour that was the problem, why were the Marines given a deadline of 6 p.m. to be out of the city? This would have put them in the position of loading up the advance equipment and supplies and traveling out of the city at the same time as the rush hour traffic - perhaps scaring workers even more. This doesn't make sense.

Tom at BizzyBlog has a great post on his perception of The Blade portraying Carty as a victim. The paper contributes to the overall problem by failing to detail the schedule of training, thus demonstrating that Carty's reasoning for his decision is faulty - or at least, not as portrayed.

And individuals who read only the paper (which is, admittedly, the only media source with the ability to devote sufficient space/time to the story to include such details), will take Carty's reasoning at face value and may, actually, agree, but only because they lack all the details.

Carty needs to explain the contradiction between the actual training schedule and his excuse for kicking the Marines out of the city.

ASIDE: Blade Columnist Roberta deBoer has an interesting column that suggests the real reason Carty made this decision is ... pride.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Standard email going out on the Marine issue

This press release was just received. It appears that the below letter will be issued to all emails the Mayor has received regarding the Marine issue:

-----Original Message-----
From: Sperr, Barbara
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 4:45 PM
To: Schwartz, Brian
Subject: FW: Marines

-----Original Message-----
From: James, Lesa
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 4:40 PM
To: Adler, Nicole; Mitchell, Claudia; Knight, Pam; Sperr, Barbara; Watkins, Carmen
Subject: Marines

Please send the attached to all e-mails received from citizens, etc... regarding the Marines Issue.

Thank You



Thank you for your thoughts. Your message will be conveyed to the Mayor. Attached is the Mayor's Statement to the Media and a statement from Lt. Colonel Piccoli, U.S. Marine Corps on this issue.

Statement from Mayor Carty Finkbeiner -Regarding U.S. Marine Corp.
February 10, 2008

Frank Szollosi can play politics with anything. It is what he does best.

Today, I spoke with Major Jeff Brooks of the United States Marine Corp. I conveyed my sincere regret for the failure to communicate within the administration and any inconvenience that caused the U.S. Marine Corp.

I also conveyed, as my staff did on Friday, that we would make available abandoned buildings for Marine training outside of the CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD).

I concluded by reviewing my belief that the CBD, particularly on a weekday afternoon, was not available for military staging operations. 10,000 - 14,000 men and women would have been departing their offices in downtown Toledo on Friday afternoon with a major military training action unfolding - including the use of weapons being discharged with blanks.

My interest is not only in supporting the U.S. military wherever and whenever such support is sought, but also protecting the health, peace, and tranquility of Toledoans in every way possible.

For those who disagree with my priorities in terms of safeguarding Toledoans, we may disagree, but you have my respect.

Statement from Lt. Colonel Piccoli - U.S. Marine Corps
February 11, 2008

Although our planned training event for Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th
Marine Regiment from Grand Rapids, Mich., did not occur over the weekend in the Central Business District of Toledo, Ohio, we greatly appreciate the commitment of the city leaders and the support of the citizens of Toledo to assist us with future training opportunities in the Toledo area.

As the Marine Corps has done in myriad cities in the past, which includes Columbia, S.C. (2003), New Orleans (2004), Savannah, Ga. (2005), and Hampton Roads, Va. (2006), we'll continue to work very closely with community leaders, law enforcement personnel, members of the media and private citizens to ensure our training does not adversely impact them. Such training, coupled with governmental and civic support, enables the U.S. Marine Corps to meet the country's expectations as the nation's premiere force in readiness.

The U.S. Marine Corps stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Toledo as we move forward together well into the future.


In case you're wondering, Carty Finkbeiner doesn't have a computer on his desk, so his staff reads all his emails for him. I don't know if they print them out for the mayor, or what ... but, this is the response everyone will get.

Aside: The U.S. Marine Corps have much to be proud of in the way they have responded to this fiasco. Carty could learn a lot from them.

Carty sends letter to Marines - doesn't apologize for making them leave Toledo, but invites them back

Here is the text of his letter, per the press release sent out with the request to include it in any media coverage of the story:

February 11, 2008


My respect and admiration for the U.S. Marine Corp., as well as the U.S. Military, is second to no other citizen's. Over the years, I have always been supportive of our military services, including active participation in Memorial Day services, special military events, and a variety of community programs supporting the armed services.

In my recent conversations with Major Jeffrey Brooks, Weapons Company, Perrysburg, Ohio and Lt. Col Francis Piccoli, Director of Public Affairs Marine Force Reserve, New Orleans, I have stated my regret that there was a communication breakdown between the U.S. Marine Corp. and my office. I accept full responsibility for that breakdown. I have further stated my desire to have the U.S. Marine Corp. conduct training exercises in the City of Toledo, wherever appropriate, with the probable exception of the Central Business District.

Please accept this as a formal invitation, on behalf of the City of Toledo, to make arrangements through my office at 419-245-1001. I will then assign the appropriate people on my staff to work with the Marine Corp. staff to accommodate the needs of our community and yet meet any requirements you may have.

I look forward to working with your organization to maintain your status as the nation's premiere force in readiness. If in the interim I can provide any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or my Chief of Staff, Mr. Robert R. Reinbolt, for assistance.

From Toledo -
an International Award Winning City!

Carty Finkbeiner


I will again state that Carty obviously doesn't understand the need for URBAN training in a downtown area with alleys, doorways, multiple buildings of varying sizes...ala Toledo's central business district, which is pretty much vacant during the weekends.

Additionally, he's going to make sure HE is in charge of any arrangements in the future.

I'm so embarrassed.

SIDEBAR: Did you notice that Carty refers to the U.S. Marine Corps as "Corp."???

Carty's political party

This is part of James Taranto's Wall Street Journal column Best of the Web (subscription may be required) in which he notes (as my husband did on Saturday morning) that the political party of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner seemed to be missing in news stories about his refusal to allow the Marines to do urban training in Toledo.

"Man Without a Party

Another American city has declared war on the U.S. Marines, reports the Toledo Blade:

A company of Marine Corps Reservists received a cold send-off from downtown Toledo yesterday by order of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
The 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., planned to spend their weekend engaged in urban patrol exercises on the streets of downtown as well as inside the mostly vacant Madison Building, 607 Madison Ave.
Toledo police knew days in advance about their plans for a three-day exercise. Yet somehow the memo never made it to Mayor Finkbeiner, who ordered the Marines out yesterday afternoon just minutes before their buses were to arrive.
"The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people," said Brian Schwartz, the mayor's spokesman.

We got to wondering: To what political party does this Carty Finkbeiner belong? The Blade does not tell us, so we tried checking some other sources. WNWO-TV, the local NBC affiliate, didn't tell us. Neither did the Fox station, WUPW-TV, or the CBS outlet, WTOL-TV.

Maybe the Toledo press corps figured everyone locally already knew Finkbeiner's party, so it wasn't necessary to mention. So we tried the media in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the Marine company is stationed. But neither the Grand Rapids Press nor WOOD-TV sought fit to mention the mayor's affiliation. Neither did the Associated Press.

But wait! The Toledo Blade came through in the end. In a second-day follow-up story, we find the following in paragraph 13:

Mayor Finkbeiner, a Democrat, said yesterday that he ordered the Marines out because he did not want a repeat of the last time the Marines' battalion trained downtown in May, 2006.

This isn't the first time Finkbeiner has found himself in a nationally noted kerfuffle. In 1994, the New York Times reported that the newly elected mayor "suggested at a staff meeting that a way to resolve complaints about airport noise would be to move deaf people into the neighborhood." Even back then, the paper did not see fit to identify his party.

Contrast this with a Times book review from just this past weekend. The paper doesn't even wait until the first paragraph to tell us the party ID of its subject: The headline reads "R, North Carolina." The subject is former senator Jesse Helms and his backward views on race. How much do you want to bet that the Times never has and never will use a similar headline for a biography of Theodore Bilbo or Ben Tillman or Robert Byrd?"

For those keeping track, Carty used to be a Republican, when he first entered politics. He was then an Independent for a while but has been a Democrat for years.


Fallout over decision on Marines continues

On Friday, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told Marines, who'd made arrangements to train in the downtown area, that he didn't want them in the central business district of the city over the weekend.

Immediately, the criticisms began - and for good reason.

The Mayor claims to have found out about the urban training exercises on Friday morning. However, he waited until the late afternoon - after the advance team arrived and shortly before the five-bus convoy of 200 members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines got to Toledo - to tell the Company of his decision to cancel the exercises.

According to today's Blade, Finkbeiner refused to meet with the Major in charge of the Company.

"Brian Schwartz, spokesman for Mr. Finkbeiner, acknowledged that Major (Jeff) Brooks asked to see the mayor Friday, soon after the battalion was ordered to leave, but was denied a meeting.

"The mayor was in another meeting," Mr. Schwartz said."

Unbelievable! After sending police to block the streets so the Marines couldn't come into the training area, he then refuses to meet with the Major over the decision.

The Mayor could have met and tried to find another way for the Company to complete their scheduled training, especially in light of his public statements that he wasn't opposed to the Marines, but to the training location they'd selected.

But to find out now that the mayor refused to meet with Major Brooks on Friday afternoon calls into question all his statements since then.

As for Carty's claim that Friday afternoon was not a good time for this exercise with 10,000 - 14,000 men and women leaving from work, well...that doesn't pass the smell test either. It's true that about that many people would be exiting downtown on their way home from work, but the Marines would not have been firing weapons by that time. They were to arrive in Toledo between 4-6 p.m. and would have unloaded themselves and their gear, gotten set up in the building and would not have been actively training on the streets until later.

Besides, simple signs posted around the downtown area would have alleviated any possible questions about the activities ... if anyone had somehow missed all the news reports announcing the event. And by the time the Marines actually made it out onto the streets, the downtown would have been nearly empty - as it is most weekends.

Sadly for Toledo, the news of this decision has reached across the country. In today's world of instant communication and blogs, word has spread and the negative comments range from 'shame on the mayor' to 'boycott Jeeps and Libbey Glass' to 'cut off all of Toledo's federal funding.'

I hope people realize this is an action of the Mayor that is not supported by most Toledoans - and I believe they do. But often, the only way to get an elected official's attention is to hit the pocketbook - and since many of the outraged individuals don't get to vote in Toledo, they're going to show their anger in other ways.

Carty should have allowed the training to continue. Even with the miscommunication within his staff, the best thing would have been to post signs and allow the exercises to go on as planned. Carty could have addressed the communication problem internally and then go on from there. But he didn't ... and now he's digging in and defending his decision.

Carty is always one to brag about Toledo. He thinks that awards and recognitions like LivCom, most un-wired city, 'city of the future' and others will gain positive national attention for us. But he fails to understand that stupid decisions like this one - and the way he handled implementation of the stupid decision - are much more publicized and far outweigh any positives anyone has heard about us.

As it stands, Carty said he apologized to the Marines for the miscommunication. However, any apology needs to be for his decision to send them out of Toledo in the first place - in addition to the miscommunication that led to the internal confusion - and it needs to be in a press conference with, hopefully, as much attention as the decision got in the first place.

Then, he needs to offer to pay the $10,000 cost of the aborted exercise out of his own pocket. With the reputation of the Marines, I doubt they'd accept his money, but he should make the offer anyway.

Through all of this, I'm glad Toledoans have the good sense our mayor is lacking - and are speaking out against this stupidness. Several members of Toledo City Council have expressed their dismay, as has State Senator Theresa Fedor, a veteran herself. But more elected officials need to so, and we need to take note of their positions. Councilman Frank Szollosi has a resolution to present at Tuesday's city council meeting if an apology from the Mayor is not forthcoming. While I don't believe Toledo City Council needs to issue the apology, their willingness to express the sentiments of the city is appreciated.

However, as Carty said over the weekend, he's done talking about this. So I hope Council - and the nation - doesn't hold its collective breath. But despite his hope that refusal to talk about it will make it go away, it won't. This isn't something people will easily forget because it has to do with our Marines and our affection, gratitude and respect for our nation's military members.

Something else that deserves mention is the way the Marines handled the request to leave Toledo. I'm so very proud of their reaction and the dignity and class they showed. After being told to leave Toledo, Major Jeffrey O'Neill said, "But we're Marines. We'll adapt and overcome." Ooh - Rah!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Toledo City Council supports Marines

February 10, 2008


- Non-partisan Demand For Mayor Finkbeiner To Apologize -

Members of Toledo City Council will announce an initiative to support U.S. Marines this afternoon (Sunday) at 3:00pm in the lobby of One Government Center.

Council will also conduct a public hearing 2:00pm Tuesday, February 12th in Council Chambers to hear from the Finkbeiner Administration about what went wrong and give an opportunity for public input.

- 30 -

Saturday, February 09, 2008

UPDATED: Marines told to leave Toledo

According to today's Blade, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told a company of Marine Corps Reservists they could not conduct their planned urban patrol exercises in downtown Toledo.

"The mayor asked them to leave because they frighten people," said Brian Schwartz, the mayor's spokesman.

This is the most insane thing I've ever heard of. Marines don't frighten me! They give me comfort and confidence that our nation is so well-protected by such dedicated individuals. Perhaps it's only Carty who is frightened.

Their ability to practice exercises in an urban setting with doors, alleys and high buildings helps prepare them for the scenarios they will face in the field, providing them with skills and training necessary to keep them safe. Additionally, being able to see them in action in such exercises helps me to understand the level of skill these individuals have.

Any inconvenience the city might have to accommodate is a small price to pay for these men and women who are willing to give their lives for us and the protection of our country. Besides, it's not like there's much going on in downtown Toledo anyway...

To make matters worse, Carty issued his 'do not enter' order upon their arrival in the Glass City.

"Toledo police knew days in advance about their plans for a three-day exercise. Yet somehow the memo never made it to Mayor Finkbeiner, who ordered the Marines out yesterday afternoon just minutes before their buses were to arrive.
"I wish they would have told us this four hours ago," Staff Sgt. Andre Davis said.

Sergeant Davis, who traveled ahead of the five-bus convoy, stepped from his vehicle into downtown about 3:20 p.m. and was told by a city employee that the mayor wanted him and his soldiers packed up and out by 6 p.m.

Members of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines have trained periodically in downtown Toledo since at least 2004 and most recently in May, 2006."

Yes, the mayor has allowed such training in Toledo in the past. And this last minute decision by Carty was also an expensive one.

"A pair of Marines spent the better part of yesterday setting up the Madison Building with generators, heaters, radios, and food to become the unit's overnight headquarters.

After receiving the mayor's request to leave, they began the task of moving the equipment back into an armored Humvee.
Sergeant Davis and other company leaders estimated the total cost of the aborted training exercise, including travel, at roughly $10,000."

I expect a huge outrage by the citizens of this city who, regardless of their positions on involvement in various wars, have always been supportive of the military members and proud of their home locations in our area.

I also expect that this latest incident will again result in national publicity for Toledo - and not in a positive way.

Shame on Carty - not only for his decision, but for doing it at the last minute as well.

UPDATE: According to this website,
"Finkbeiner spokesman Brian Schwartz said the mayor informed the Toledo police chief in 2006 he didn't want the Marines back.

"We heard that people were frightened by what they saw. Unfortunately the chief of police never communicated that down to his subordinates so nobody handed it down to the mayor.""

Wonder what gives the Mayor the authority to make such a determination based upon "we heard"???

From NBC24:

"(Mayoral spokesman Brian) Schwartz said there was a breakdown in communication between police and the Finkbeiner administration that led to the mayor’s action.

“The marines drilled here three times during the Ford administration and once under the Finkbeiner administration. After the last visit, the mayor told then police chief Jack Smith, that he did not want the marines back. Smith failed to inform the current police administration of the mayor’s feelings,” Schwartz said.

NBC24 spoke to Jack Smith who recalled that after the marines last visit, he and the mayor had a heated exchange about the training.

“He told me he did not want them, as he put it, “playing war in Toledo’”, Smith recalled. I told him, as a former marine, “that if one young marine’s life is saved because of training he or she received in Toledo, Ohio, then it was worth the inconvenience.”

Smith said if the mayor objected, then he should have been the one to convey those feelings to police. Smith took his run-in with the mayor as an objection to that last visit, and not future training in Toledo.

As a result, the Toledo police went ahead, granting approval to the 1-24th Marines to conduct the routine exercise. The police notified members of the Finkbeiner administration, who were not aware that the mayor objected to unit’s training in Toledo."

Already this is national with uncomplimentary posts on rather prominent websites and commentors suggesting that our federal funds should be withdrawn as was threatened with Berkeley.

Doesn't Carty ever consider the potential outcomes from his actions?

If you email the mayor about this (, please send a copy to me: maggie at wspd dot com. Thanks!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Your $455,000 loan to Uncle Sam

From the National Center for Policy Analysis:

The unfunded liabilities Uncle Sam has incurred on our behalf through already promised entitlements in programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the veterans benefits now exceed by $53 trillion the tax revenues projected to be available to pay for them, says Comptroller General David Walker, who heads the Government Accountability Office.

"I know it is hard to make sense of what 'trillions' means," Walker said. "One way to think about it is this: Imagine we decided to put aside and invest today enough to cover these promises tomorrow. It would take about $455,000 per American household -- or $175,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States."

* Of course, every man, woman and child does not work for pay outside the home: some are too young, some take care of their own children, some are criminals who have actually been locked up in jail, some are ill or incapacitated and some are just lazy.

* When you divide the unfunded costs of promised entitlement benefits by the number of Americans who work full time, says Walker, it equals $410,000 per worker.

* A married couple making $80,000 per year would have to set aside all their income for more than five years to cover their share.

Of course, elected officials in Washington, D.C., have no intention of making Americans working today pay for the entitlement benefits these elected officials are promising to deliver, says Terence P. Jeffrey, editor in chief of That would destroy one of the primary incentives politicians have for making these promises, which is to make the voters think that, on net, the politicians are giving them things rather than taking things away.

Some day, says Jeffrey, Americans will look back across the wreckage of our coming fiscal catastrophe and ask: Why didn't our leaders see it coming? The answer will be: They did.

Source: Terence P. Jeffrey, "Your $455,000 loan to Uncle Sam," Washington Times, February 8, 2008.

Quote of the Day

"Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves." ~ Thomas Jefferson (letter to Edward Carrington, 16 January 1787)

Symposium on the American Primary System

I want to share with you a notice I received for a forum on the primary system.

Election 2008: The American Primary System will be presented by The University of Toledo on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 1-4 p.m. It is sponsored by the UT Department of Political Science & Public Administration, the UT Honors Program and the College of Arts & Sciences.


1-1:30 Dr. Larry Connin, The Historical Context of Primaries

1:30-2 Dr. Carter Wilson, Primary Elections and Voting Populations

2-2:30 Symposium break, light refreshments

2:30-3 Dr. James Lindeen, The Current Primary System

3 - 4 Dr. David Cohen, keynote speaker, No Way to Pick a President: Thoughts on Reforming the Presidential Nominating System. Drs. Lynn Bachelo and Ronald Randall, responders.

Dr. Cohen is associate professor of political science and a Fellow at the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron.

The event is at the Driscoll Alumni Center - Schmakel Room and parking is available at the Center (corner of Bancroft St. and University Hills Blvd.).

There is no fee, but registration is requested either online or by calling 419-530-2586 or 800-235-6766.

Along these same lines, here is an interesting post on changing the primary system from The Loft, the GOPUSA blog. And then there is this post from Jeff Fecke who writes on Blog of the Moderate Left. I looked for some writings from the Democratic Party on the system, but did not find any. If you know of one or two, please add the links in a comment.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Potential local impact of state budget cuts

The information in this post is courtesy of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

As Governor Ted Strickland deals with projected budget shortfalls of between $733 million and $1.9 billion, reductions in department spending and possibly layoffs are being planned.

As counties are the local arm of state government, cuts in state department budgets usually impact county department budgets. Here is a recap of some of the planned cuts and how they may impact us in Lucas County.

Department of Job and Family Services

This department is looking at cuts of $67.5 million in FY08 and FY09. The department is hoping to absorb most of the cuts internally through attrition, early retirement incentives and potentially reducing 300-600 positions.

County departments are being asked to see what can be done internally as well. ODJFS does not want to mandate across the board cuts, but wants to see what county JFS departments can come up with first.

They plan to institute a 10% reduction in the child support state match. However, they will continue to move forward with expanding coverage for adult dental and increased rates for community healthcare providers. Planned increases in in-patient hospital reimbursement rates as well as recalibration rates for hospitals will be delayed.

Department of Aging

They have funding to continue core activities without service interruption, including new PASSPORT enrollment as well as funding for those on the waiting list for Assisted Living. Plans are for the governor to seek legislative approval to eliminate the 3% Medicaid reimbursement rate increase in FY09 for PASSPORT and Choices providers that was previously approved as part of the budget bill.

Department of Mental Health

Closing two psychiatric hospitals has already been reported, with some patients being shifted to units here in Toledo. This department plans to reduce staff and equipment and contract spending by 20% each.

Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

In addition to internal cuts, they plan to move 150-170 people from developmental centers to Martin waivers, allowing for closure of some cottages in development centers.


One thing I must do is compliment the governor on the budget projection process. He and his staff looked at three scenarios: the economic picture staying the same - getting a bit worse - and getting bad. He's basing these cuts upon those projections. This is a useful and pragmatic approach that counties and cities should take as well. It would certainly put into perspective the serious implications such economic downturns have upon public budgets and would force people to prioritize necessities over niceties when it comes to public spending.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Free!!! Not really...

One of my pet peeves is when government promotes 'free' services. As this is tax time, there are ads and press conferences and elected officials all touting 'free' tax help for low-income earners.

While the participants do not have to pay a cost for receiving the services, they are not free. The problem is that most of these programs are funded with tax dollars. They are paid for by you and me and everyone else who pays taxes.

Of course, if government didn't take so much of our money in the first place, we'd all have more funds to cover the costs of such things. As it is, those of us who pay someone to do our taxes for us - or who do them on our own - are paying twice (or going without) so that others can get their taxes done 'for free.'

Sadly, I don't think the recipients of such largesse understand that it's not really 'free.'

Hypocrisy over gas rate hike

Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, along with Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou, are upset about the proposed increase for Columbia Gas, even though the rate plan hasn't yet been submitted to the PUCO.

The estimated increase for maintenance and capital projects is $68 per year - "an average jump of about $5.64 per month for customers starting as early as Nov. 1" according to The Blade article.

You can hear for yourself from this WSPD sound clip that Comm. Wozniak thinks this is too much and a huge impact on families.

Strangely enough, these three elected officials had no problem with the huge increase in property tax levies that were on the ballot last November. Had all the levies passed, the owner of a $100,000 home would have seen their taxes go up about $50. With the election outcome, the amount was about $45.

For an even closer example, the garbage tax that Toledo City Council imposed upon us last year is $5.50 per month - $66 per year.

I don't recall any outrage over that amount - or even any concern - about how this similar amount might impact families who are struggling. Where were the press conferences and the demands that the service providers (the city or the public agencies) reduce their costs prior to imposing higher fees? Where was the press conference saying these costs are just 'too high' for the families in the area? Where was the concern for businesses?

It was non-existent. And that's the problem.

When it comes to government or public agencies, these individuals have no problem with taking more of your money. And, unlike Columbia Gas, you have absolutely no control over what government charges you. At least with Columbia Gas you can reduce your usage by turning down your thermostat, better insulating your home, or switching to more energy efficient appliances, etc. Even if you voted against all the tax levies, only COSI failed and you're paying more whether you want to or not.

As for the garbage tax, you can't opt-out of participation in city pick up and you'd still have to pay the fee if you did. And the garbage tax was only supposed to be temporary (yeah - right!), but is included for another full year in the 2008 proposed budget. At least we got to vote on the levies - we were given no such option on the garbage tax.

The problem is the hypocrisy of the elected officials. You cannot pretend to be outraged over increased costs on one hand when you've either supported or failed to oppose similar increases in costs on the other. If you're truly concerned about rising costs for families in the county, you'd oppose ALL increases - and especially when they come from government.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Quote of the day

“I’m sure everyone feels sorry for the individual who has fallen by the wayside or who can’t keep up in our competitive society, but my own compassion goes beyond that to the millions of unsung men and women who get up every morning, send the kids to school, go to work, try and keep up the payments on their house, pay exorbitant taxes to make possible compassion for the less fortunate, and as a result have to sacrifice many of their own desires and dreams and hopes. Government owes them something better than always finding a new way to make them share the fruit of their toils with others.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Monday, February 04, 2008

New blog on Toledo's 3/4% payroll tax

Just wanted to give you a head's up on a new blog that's been started to oppose Toledo's 3/4% payroll tax renewal that will be on the March 4th primary ballot.

It's "A Tax Break for Toledo, Reasons and a Solution for the 3/4% Income Tax."

A different question on Clinton's mandatory health coverage plan

There's been a lot of discussion about Sen. Hillary Clinton's proposal to mandate health coverage for all Americans, including garnishing wages in order to force individuals to pay for coverage. This New York Times article gives some details of the plan and the potential payments and penalties.

But here's the question that everyone seems to miss in the discussion.

According to the article, "But about 20 percent of the uninsured have household incomes of $75,000 or more, according to the Census Bureau, meaning they presumably can afford coverage but prefer to take the risk."

Why is it never mentioned by the candidates that many people without health insurance make a conscious decision to forego such coverage? And, if this is a decision they've made, why must we force them to have insurance?

The other part of this involves access to coverage. If there are 20% of uninsured who choose not to have coverage, it means that they have access and choose not to take advantage of it. Many younger workers in good health often decide that the cost of insurance isn't worth the coverage that they do not need.

So the issue isn't really that such individuals don't have access to health services or that they cannot afford such health services - they just choose to not enroll.

And I'd wish that any discussion of the 'uninsured in America' would include the fact that some of the 'uninsured' are that way by choice.

Nanny-state proponents object to such a choice. Some justify forced insurance by saying that individuals without health insurance rely upon public funding when they get sick and need more expensive health services. The solution to that scenario is to not allow them such financial assistance. If they choose to back a bad financial decision, they can suffer the consequences. Individual liberty and responsibility demand no less.

In a country founded upon freedoms - including the freedom to make bad decisions - we contradict what made us a great nation when we force people to have insurance (or anything else) they do not want or need. We then compound the problem when we subsidize the costs of that forced service for low-income earners by forcibly taking (via taxation) from others who'd be better off keeping their own earnings to pay for their own services.

When did this concept become acceptable in America?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Public or private funding for CareNet?

That's the question ... and it's a good one to ask.

CareNet is a non-profit organization that connects individuals without insurance to health care providers. Their clients are primarily low-income who fall in the gap of earning too much money to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to afford the cost of health insurance. Their $300,000 (+/-) yearly funding pays for the administration and tracking of the clients, and the recruitment and monitoring of the volunteered provider services.

CareNet was started in 2003 by former Toledo mayor Jack Ford who put together the coalition of funders. The program is run through the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. As one of the major founders, since 2003 the City of Toledo has contributed money out of the general fund for the operations.

Last year, current mayor Carty Finkbeiner did not include funding for CareNet in the 2007 budget. Toledo City Council did - and the organization got around $62,000. This year, Carty again eliminated funding from his proposed 2008 budget. And it looked like Council was going to again fund the organization. But Councilman Tom Waniewski (the new District 5 representative who took office the first of January) objected to using general fund dollars for a non-profit organization and asked for a two-week delay on the vote to see if he could find private funds to take the place of the city's 'obligation.'

And, to the surprise of many in city government, he was successful. Turns out, there are quite a number of organizations and individuals who are willing to put their own money into supporting this great organization. The contributors even included Carty and three city administrators, but, interestingly enough, not one member of city council was willing to put their own money into the effort.

Now that funding for the organization is set for 2008, the city should start working with them to arrange a permanent replacement for the general fund dollars. That there were donations this year is a good indication that such an alternative will be successful on a permanent basis.

But today's Blade editorial seems to think otherwise, with the headline of "CareNet a public duty." And I have to ask - why? Why must funding for this organization be the responsibility of the taxpayers if there are private funds which can provide for its operations?

According to the editorial, the private funding "...should not suggest, however, that the city be let off the hook from providing CareNet support in the future." They say it's a worthwhile and, for some, a necessary program.

They also say, "We believe the city has a reasonable obligation to help fund CareNet and should continue it." But they don't explain WHY the obligation is there.

They do say: "Private funding will help relieve pressure on the city budget, to be sure, but it could be withdrawn. CareNet is too important to live hand-to-mouth from year to year."

If this is, indeed, the case (and there is no evidence that it is), then why shouldn't the priority be to find a stable source of non-public funds? Why is it that the only solution the editorial offers is to continue to use our severely limited tax dollars?

Here's my question for city council and The Blade:

If this is such a great program and is so worthy of public dollars - to the point where the public should be taxed more or give up other services to make this a priority - how much did you contribute of your own funds before taking from the rest of us?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Six more weeks of winter?

That depends upon who you trust...

Today is Groundhog day and, according to tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow it means we're in for six more weeks of winter. The tradition comes from a German superstition that says bad weather is coming if an animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas.

Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow this morning in Pennsylvania, and is calling for six more weeks of winter.

Buckeye Chuck, Ohio's official groundhog, did NOT see his shadow. Over in Holland, Charlie and Terry Hoag held the 8th Annual Holland Huckleberry Day celebration. The fun started after 5:30 a.m. when Holland Huckleberry arrived in his parade float. He didn't see his shadow either.

Perhaps Ohio, especially the northwest portion, is in for an early spring? That would be nice.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Is EITC just re-distribution of wealth?

Our local elected officials have a big push on in Lucas County to make sure individuals and families take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). There's even a letter to the editor in the local paper from Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, who are spear-heading this effort.

But what exactly does the EITC do and is it a re-distribution of wealth from those who pay taxes to those who don't?

I started with an Internet search and found a website that helps you determine eligibility and estimate an amount of EITC for which you may qualify. But using that site required earnings, and other financial data, so I created a hypothetical and here's what I found.

My hypothetical is a single mother earning $8/hr. in a 35 hour/week part-time position. She has 1 child, no alimony nor other income. Her yearly gross income would be $14,560. According to 2007 withholding tables, if she claimed 2 exemptions (herself and her child), she would have had $510.50 withheld from her pay for federal taxes.

If she used the 1040EZ form, filing single, she'd be able to use the standard deduction of $8,750, making her taxable income $5,810. (I did not calculate her taxes using a standard 1040 form so I do not know if the form used would have made a difference in her taxable income.)

According to the tax tables, she would owe a total of $583 on taxable income of $5,810. As she already had $510.50 withheld, she'd be writing a check to the federal government for the difference of $72.50.

But ... she's eligible for the EITC - an estimated amount of $2,850.

The way the form is set up, that $2,850 dollar value is a credit and gets added to what you've already paid in taxes through your withholding. This gives my hypothetical mother a total of $3,360.50 'paid' ... significantly more than the $583 the tax tables show she owes.

So, in this example, my single mother will be getting a refund of $2,777.50.

Now, she only paid $510.50 and she owed $583...but she'll be getting a check from the government for $2,777.50. That's 48% of her taxable income that she's getting 'back.'

We all know that government has no money of its own - only what it collects from others. This means that people who pay taxes are the ones who are giving this 'refund' to my single mother. And by 'pay taxes' I mean all of us who have taxes withheld and either get back less than what we paid in - or actually owe more (on top of our withholdings) when we prepare our 1040s.

In this example, the EITC is a re-distribution of wealth. And I cannot help but wonder why we, as a nation, think this is okay, acceptable, appropriate, fair, or any other word you'd like to use to describe this action.

And does anyone else have a problem with our elected officials going around and telling people to claim this re-distribution of wealth in the guise of 'bringing money into our local economy'? From the letter to the editor:

"Families and individuals deserve to keep what they've earned and this free tax preparation will make that happen.

Even if you don't qualify for the EITC, the benefits to our local economy are enormous. The EITC is truly the best economic stimulus available. If everyone who qualified for this money took advantage, we'd bring millions of dollars into our local economy, supporting local businesses, jobs, and wages

Um - I'd like to keep what I earn as well, but this program makes my family pay so others can have our money instead.

Your thoughts?

Federal budget goes electronic

The federal government has entered the new century by deciding NOT to print the federal budget.

On February 4th, President Bush will release his budget for the 2009 fiscal year. Downloads of the document will be available here with an easy to remember web address of

According to a press release, this will "save nearly 20 tons of paper, or roughly 480 trees. In terms of fiscal savings, the Office of Management and Budget estimates the e-budget will save nearly a million dollars over the next five years. Individuals and groups may purchase paper copies from the Government Printing Office."

An electronic format is easier to search and will help us better monitor how our government spends our have at it!!!
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