Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ohio commits bucks to broadband

If you get a chance, cruise over to The Heartland Institute article "Connect Ohio Commits Bucks to Broadband" by Marc Kilmer.

It's a good article, and not just because I'm quoted in it.

Turns out, Erie Street Market did NOT make a profit

You knew this was coming....

According to today's paper, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has spent $79,879 to do work at the Erie Street Market - and that amount was NOT included in the financial statement presented earlier this week.

When these expenditures are added in, there is a loss of $53,611 for the first six months of the year.

Carty issued a press release yesterday saying, "Last year at this time, the building was running a deficit of approximately $50,000." At least that $50,000 deficit reflected accurate accounting and all expenses. Carty's estimate of a profit at ESM doesn't. And now that we know the cost of the renovations, it appears we're at a deficit of at least $53,611 - just like last year.

The mayor's public information officer told WSPD News that the costs would be covered by the profits from the concerts in that particular bay in the market. If the costs are supposed to be reimbursed by the profits, they should definitely be listed in the expenses. Whether or not there will be enough profit from the events is another question entirely. We'll see...

In the meantime, city council is angry that the work was broken down into 13 different contracts in order to avoid requiring approval by them. Toledo's city charter allows expenditures under $10,000 to be made without a separate ordinance by council, so long as the money is budgeted. There is, of course, the potential for abuse as we can clearly see in the way Carty set up the renovations at ESM. Obviously, Carty was afraid that council, which balked at funding ESM but eventually gave in, might not give its approval - especially if the financials were accurate.

So, he broke the work down into small contracts in order to avoid the legal requirement of going before city council.

"We are on the verge of making a huge breakthrough with the Erie Street Market," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "I would assume any smart person would expect that it would take some expenditures to do what we said was going to be done there."

So now anyone who challenges his expenditures is dumb?

The work is supposed to be finished this week, in time for the first events in that bay. What's not mentioned is that the first concert planned for Saturday evening was previously scheduled to be at a local club, Headliners. It's now going to be in a city-sponsored venue, taking the money and work away from an existing private business. And Carty thinks this city is 'business-friendly.'

"So now we are 48 hours before an opening and all of a sudden everyone wants to go negative, and I think that's unfair," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
"We are going to concede the defeat of Toledo if people don't begin to see there is a lot of good strong positive things being done and all we are hearing about is the negative," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Um...mayor...we're not being negative - you're making bad decisions and we're pointing it out. It isn't US being negative - it's your detrimental decisions that are the problem. If you don't want people to point out the problems with your decisions, stop making bad decisions!

This story will continue to evolve ... and I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is the ESM making a profit?

The issue of dueling public records requests seems to be resolved, with Councilman D. Michael Collins getting some financial information for the Erie Street Market.

But the information definitely seems lacking - and is in the same format as the last financial report received March 7, 2008, which detailed the data for the last weeks of 2007.

As I said in March, it's not what's in the financial statement, it's what's missing from the expenses column.

Unless 'contractual administration' includes the wages, etc...of the ESM manager, there are no wages, benefits, payroll taxes for her. There is no charge for insurance.

All city departments get charged for various 'services' other departments perform for them. There are no charges on this spreadsheet for legal, accounting, auditing or other such fees.

Since the city is paying utilities and and other overhead costs, they should be listed as expenses for the facility. There are no telephone expenses...and what about the previously detailed line item for the piped-in music, which is not listed on the city's spreadsheet? Maybe they are including telephones as 'other overhead costs?' Regardless of their classification, they need to be listed as expenses for the facility in order to obtain a true picture of whether or not the Erie Street Market is making money.

This spreadsheet shows that there is a 'profit' of $26,268. But if these other expenses are included, is there really a profit?

Clearly, this is not an accurate accounting of the costs of the facility. City Council should demand that ALL expenses attributable to the facility be included as part of the financial statement - and they should make any decisions about the Market only upon complete data.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dueling public records requests

Isn't it ironic that a public records request from GraphicsGuy from June 6th still hasn't been filled, but Mayor Carty Finkbeiner issued this press release last last night?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Elizabeth Phillips



The City of Toledo requests that the Port Authority should produce the documents requested, as the Port Authority investigation is close to completion.

Below is copy of a letter sent to Port Authority Board Chairman William J. Carroll:

July 25, 2008

William J. Carroll
Chairman, Board of Directors
Toledo Lucas County Port Authority
One Maritime Plaza
Toledo, Ohio 43604


Re: City’s Document Request of July 21st

Dear Mr. Carroll:

This letter is to inquire as to the status of the documents requested by the City on July 21st. We are disappointed by the lack of response to date. While the City acknowledges that a “reasonable” time is allowed for a public entity to make copies of documents requested, the City would point out that given the “investigation” being undertaken by the Port Authority and reports that that investigation is nearing finality, these records should have already been gathered for purposes of the Port’s investigation. Further, the law does require that documents be made available for prompt inspection. Accordingly, the City of Toledo believes that a reasonable time for record production has already expired. This is especially evident by the fact that you have been quoted as describing the City’s fact gathering as being “redundant”.

To the extent, however, that the Port’s investigator has requested any records that have not been sought by the City, the City now requests copies of any of those additional records. Further, the City would request all minutes, notices, notes, memoranda, correspondence, or documents related to the closed-door meeting conducted by the Port’s Board on July 24, 2008. These records should include any documents that explain the basis for such an executive session, describe the purpose of the executive session, and identify all attendees of the executive session.

If the Port is unable to produce the requested documents by the end of the day today, we will appear at the Port Authority’s offices at 1:00 P.M. on Monday, July 28th to inspect the requested information.

Please call me if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.


Adam Loukx
Acting Director

Side note: The acting director of the City of Toledo Law Department should know better than to request such information about an executive session. The only information that is public relating to the executive session is the vote of the individuals who decided to go into the session and the reason, which was to discuss personnel matters. No other information relating to an executive session is public. Maybe Acting Director Loukx should read the exclusions to the state's public records law.

Of course, District 2 Councilman Michael Collins, who's been waiting for financials for the Erie Street Market for quite some time, had a reaction and shared it with the entire press release mailing list:

Dear Mr. Loukx,

I read with great interest your letter dated July 25, 2008 to William J. Carroll, Director of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, wherein you demanded public records based upon a document request of July 21, 2008. Please be advised that on July 21, 2008 I also made a public records request for the financials for the Erie Street Market, from the period of January 1, 2008 thru June 30, 2008.

The specific records I requested consisted of a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement. These records, as part of a normal business practice, should have been available within 24 hours. The crux of my concern is your position, as it relates to documents in which YOU requested, (and now protest), and the fact that you have not received them.

Obviously, my request does not carry the same level of importance to the Mayor and his Administration when it comes to due diligence to the taxpayers of The City of Toledo, albeit, it deals with the financial status of the Erie Street Market at this time, and in my opinion is of far greater importance than your efforts to duplicate an ongoing investigation.

I fully expect the documents requested will be in my office no later than 9am on Monday July 28, 2008.


D. Michael Collins
Councilman, District 2

Funny how important timely responses to public records requests become when it's the mayor making the request. They seem to think that 2-3 days is plenty of time for the three page/16 item request that they made for records - some going back as far as 10 years. I can't help but wonder why Acting Law Director Adam Loukx isn't jumping up and down over the nearly two months that GraphicsGuy has been waiting for a simple administrative about something that should be readily available! Perhaps if GraphicsGuy were to file his mandamus action while news of Carty's demand was still fresh, the point might be made in a very public way???

The mayor, instead of worrying so much about his 'demand' for documents (which is to conduct a so-called 'investigation' that he has no authority to conduct), ought to pay more attention to his own administration and their habitual obstruction of access to public documents. Additionally, kudos to Collins who chose to take advantage of the mayor's impatience to make similar demands for his own request for information.

People who live in glass houses....

Friday, July 25, 2008

FOIA Friday - July 25, 2008

My blog postings have followed the fiasco that is the Erie Street Market for some time now. Since the first of the year, the only financial information I've been able to obtain was a simple spreadsheet that covered the time from October to December 2007.

During Toledo city council's agenda meeting Tuesday, Mike Collins (District 2) requested current financial information for the Erie Street Market showing expenses and revenue, etc... He instructed that he wanted the information included in the council members' agenda packet which is usually delivered to them on the Friday prior to their regular Tuesday meeting.

I've made a public records request for the same information the members of council receive - if they get any at all.

We'll see what comes out of this request.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner continues to insist that the ESM is making money, despite the fact that the last set of financials showed it lost about $7,000. The general consensus is that the ESM continues to lose money - and that's why they don't want to release the financial information.

Time will tell. But it's the persistence in making public records requests that pays off in the long run.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blade editorial supports judge in UAW flap

Yes, they do get things right on ocassion:

Standing up to intimidation

"In addition to resisting intimidation, Judge Cubbon is showing good judgment in refusing to be stampeded into accepting a contract with wage increases that could be costly to taxpayers, and which she contends might force her to lay off some workers.

That stance puts her at odds with Commissioner Pete Gerken, who is playing two key roles - one as union advocate and the other as a public official charged with spending taxpayer money wisely. With Mr. Gerken, it is sometimes hard to tell where each of these roles begins and ends, and which side he's on.

In this case, Judge Cubbon cannot be faulted for declining to go along with contract terms she says were agreed to by Mr. Gerken without advance consultation with her.
In these tough economic times, however, more attention must be paid to the burden placed on taxpayers by the ever-increasing demands of public-employee unions.

Toledo may be a "union town," but we are confident that a majority of discerning residents support Judge Cubbon for her thoughtful and courageous stand."

Obama 'misspeaks' when it comes to his Senate committees

According to, Sen. Barak Obama doesn't know what committees he serves on.

Now, I realize that, during a campaign, you get a bit distracted, but I think this statement and the lack of challenge from the 'lame street media' is more indicative of a press who doesn't challenge this candidate. Could you imagine how many times you'd have seen the footage of this 'misstatement' if it had been McCain? Along with references to his age???

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

32 State reps tell judge to let union into court

The Blade story is here, but I have a copy of the actual letter and find it very interesting that state reps from around Ohio found it necessary to tell a Lucas County juvenile court judge what to do.

Have these representatives even been in Lucas County or met Judge Denise Cubbon? And what makes them qualified to tell the judge what to do?

Local representatives who have their name on the letter include Matt Szollosi, Edna Brown, Peter Ujvagi and Senator Teresa Fedor. Interestingly, only Matt Szollosi's signature is on the letter. Szollosi signed all the other names, including his initials in parentheses after the name. If these state reps were so convinced that this is the right thing to do, don't you think they would have taken the time to actually sign the letter themselves?

State Democratic Party Chairman and representative from Catawba, Chris Redfern, said he was involved "because he believes it affected people outside Lucas County."

"I would encourage [Judge Cubbon] to think beyond the impact that her decision will have in the courtroom and think about the community, and I think regionally," Mr. Redfern said. "Having organized labor members can be very positive for a community."

Perhaps Redfern missed the fine print about the costs of this agreement - an additional $2 million over the three-year term of the proposed contract. I wonder how he justifies this as being 'positive for the community'?

The letter to Judge Cubbon:

It is our collective understanding that the employees of the Lucas County Juvenile Court have voted overwhelmingly to form a bargaining unit with representation by the UAW. It is our further understanding that the Court has since reversed its position which initially allowed these employees to organize, putting an abrupt end to any further negotiations, and any hopes that those working men and women will receive the benefits they are seeking through union membership.

The purpose of this letter is to encourage you to, at the very least, resume good faith negotiations so that Court employees achieve a contract with fair wages, competitive benefits and improved working conditions.

Obviously, having granted your employees the right to organize last year, you respected their desire to bargain for improved terms and conditions of employment. Especially in tough economic times, negotiations can prove difficult. However, we have confidence that with renewed efforts, the parties involved can reach satisfactory compromise.

We urge you to reconsider your decision to rescind the employees' rights to organize, and to once again open the lines of communication so that this issue can be brought to a close. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Let's take the points one at a time:

* the employees didn't 'vote' ... they signed cards. They have no 'right' under Ohio law to organize, as judicial employees are specifically exempted from collective bargaining.

* the court employees have good wages, and as a former county commissioner, I know because I voted on their budget. Their wages are competitive with other courts and are certainly competitive with private sector earnings.

* the court employees have highly competitive benefits. As county employees, they have the county health insurance, the county life insurance, drug cards, health coaches, vision coverage and dental coverage. They have the same vacation and holiday schedule as the rest of the county. These benefits are much more generous than the private sector which pays for these benefits.

* they want 'improved working conditions' and I can only wonder what improvements they might want? Better chairs and desks? More amenities in the break room? Are such 'conditions' attainable without a union?

* they want to open lines of communication so the 'issue can be brought to a close.' In case you missed it, the issue is closed. Judge Cubbon rescinded the permission to organize - it's over. Just because they don't like the outcome, they're trying to put political pressure on the judge to change her mind. (I hope the UAW has as much success as the defendants in her court do after she's banged the gavel.)

The names on the letter:

Matt Szollosi
Edna Brown
Tracey Heard
Clayton Luckie
Brian Williams
John Otterman
Ron Gerberry
Lorraine Fende
Jay Goyal
Steve Driehaus
Fred Strahorn
Steven Dyer
Matt Lundy
Bob Hagan
Tom Letson
Dan Dodd
Linda Bolon
Joyce Beatty
Chris Redfern
Eugene Miller
Michael DeBose
Michael Foley
Jennifer Brady
Kenny Yuko
Peter Ujvagi
Armond Budish
Barbara Boyd
Sandra Williams
Michael Skindell
Timothy DeGeeter
Dan Stewart
Sen. Teresa Fedor

I cannot help but wonder if any of these people talked to Judge Cubbon before making a decision about this letter - or if they just trusted what either the UAW or another state rep told them? It would certainly be interesting to call them all and find out.

I also wonder how much these state reps got in campaign donations from the UAW, as that certainly seems to be a contributing factor. According to the paper, "Mr. Szollosi received $10,000 from the state PAC for his 2008 re-election effort, while Sen. Theresa Fedor received $2,000 in 2006." The three county commissioners, at last count, got about $119,000 combined. In checking the Secretary of State's website, I found the following contributions listed from UAW PAC LA435 in Maumee, OH:

Teresa Fedor: $7,500 in 2006
Linda Bolon: $2,000 in 2006
Michael Foley: $1,500 in 2006
Jennifer Brady: $1,500 in 2006
Kenny Yuko: $1,500 in 2006
Peter Ujvagi $350 in 2006
Armond Budish: $1,500 in 2006
Barbara Boyd: $1,500 in 2006
Sandra Williams: $5,500 in 2006
Michael Skindell: $1,500 in 2006
Timothy DeGeeter: $300 in 2006
Brian Williams: $500 in 2006
John Otterman: $500 in 2006
Jay Goyal: $1,000 in 2006
Steve Driehaus: $2,500 in 2006
Matt Lundy: $2,500 in 2006
Bob Hagan: $11,000 in 2006
Tom Letson: $1,000 in 2006

Perhaps the UAW is resorting to pressue from other elected officials because their campaign to get the public to tell the judge to reconsider went no where? Seems the UAW is getting their money's worth, I just don't know if it will have any impact on Judge Cubbon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ohio sponsors missing from Enumerated Powers Act

"The 'Enumerated Powers Act' (H.R. 1359) would compel Congress to identify their Constitutional authority for every law they pass," writes Jim Babka of this week. "It wouldn't stop them from passing bad laws, but it sure would highlight the fact that most of what they do has no Constitutional authority at all.

"When we last reported to you," Babka continues, "the 'Enumerated Powers Act' had 47 co-sponsors in the House. Well, now it has 52. But there's even better news. Senator Tom Coburn introduced a Senate version (S. 3159) on June 19th, and 22 out of 100 Senators have already signed-on as co-sponsors." Compliments of Mr. Babka, here's the list of co-sponsors from each side of Congress...

Co-sponsors in the Senate

Sen Allard, Wayne - 6/19/2008
Sen Barrasso, John - 6/19/2008
Sen Brownback, Sam - 6/19/2008
Sen Burr, Richard - 6/19/2008
Sen Chambliss, Saxby - 6/19/2008
Sen Cornyn, John - 6/19/2008
Sen Crapo, Mike 22697 - 6/19/2008
Sen DeMint, Jim - 6/19/2008
Sen Dole, Elizabeth - 6/19/2008
Sen Ensign, John - 6/19/2008
Sen Enzi, Michael B. - 6/19/2008
Sen Graham, Lindsey - 6/19/2008
Sen Grassley, Chuck - 6/19/2008
Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey - 6/19/2008
Sen Inhofe, James M. - 6/19/2008
Sen Kyl, Jon - 6/19/2008
Sen McCain, John - 6/19/2008
Sen Sessions, Jeff - 6/19/2008
Sen Sununu, John E. - 6/19/2008
Sen Thune, John - 6/19/2008
Sen Vitter, David - 6/19/2008
Sen Wicker, Roger F. - 6/19/2008

Co-sponsors in the House

Rep Akin, W. Todd [MO-2] - 3/6/2007
Rep Barrett, J. Gresham [SC-3] - 12/5/2007
Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] - 3/6/2007
Rep Bilbray, Brian P. [CA-50] - 3/5/2008
Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] - 3/6/2007
Rep Boozman, John [AR-3] - 4/24/2007
Rep Broun, Paul C. [GA-10] - 2/13/2008
Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] - 6/9/2008
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 3/6/2007
Rep Cannon, Chris [UT-3] - 2/25/2008
Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] - 3/6/2007
Rep Cubin, Barbara [WY] - 3/5/2008
Rep Davis, David [TN-1] - 3/27/2007
Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] - 3/5/2008
Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] - 3/7/2007
Rep Feeney, Tom [FL-24] - 4/24/2007
Rep Flake, Jeff [AZ-6] - 3/6/2007
Rep Foxx, Virginia [NC-5] - 3/6/2007
Rep Franks, Trent [AZ-2] - 3/14/2007
Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 3/6/2007
Rep Gingrey, Phil [GA-11] - 3/6/2007
Rep Gohmert, Louie [TX-1] - 3/6/2007
Rep Goodlatte, Bob [VA-6] - 9/7/2007
Rep Heller, Dean [NV-2] - 8/1/2007
Rep Hensarling, Jeb [TX-5] - 12/12/2007
Rep Herger, Wally [CA-2] - 3/6/2007
Rep Hoekstra, Peter [MI-2] - 12/4/2007
Rep Johnson, Sam [TX-3] - 12/4/2007
Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] - 3/31/2008
Rep Kline, John [MN-2] - 12/12/2007
Rep Lamborn, Doug [CO-5] - 3/6/2007
Rep Mack, Connie [FL-14] - 12/12/2007
Rep Marchant, Kenny [TX-24] - 3/6/2007
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 3/6/2007
Rep Miller, Jeff [FL-1] - 3/6/2007
Rep Musgrave, Marilyn N. [CO-4] - 12/12/2007
Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] - 3/6/2007
Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] - 3/6/2007
Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16] - 10/25/2007
Rep Poe, Ted [TX-2] - 3/12/2007
Rep Price, Tom [GA-6] - 3/5/2008
Rep Roskam, Peter J. [IL-6] - 6/3/2008
Rep Sali, Bill [ID-1] - 12/5/2007
Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5] - 5/15/2008
Rep Smith, Lamar [TX-21] - 4/23/2008
Rep Souder, Mark E. [IN-3] - 4/9/2008
Rep Stearns, Cliff [FL-6] - 5/23/2007
Rep Tiahrt, Todd [KS-4] - 4/24/2008
Rep Walberg, Timothy [MI-7] - 3/9/2007
Rep Wamp, Zach [TN-3] - 4/4/2008
Rep Weldon, Dave [FL-15] - 5/1/2007
Rep Westmoreland, Lynn A. [GA-3] - 3/6/2007

Are your congress-critters on these lists? My representative, Marcy Kaptur, is not. Neither are Ohio Senators George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown.

Obama's foreign relations tour

Maybe it's just me. I am getting older, so perhaps I just don't remember. Or, I may have been younger and not paying attention ... but I don't recall presidential candidates going on foreign relations tours, meeting with heads of state and presenting their own view of what the U.S. should/should not be doing in terms of our relations with other nations.

Regardless of whom you support for the November election, any candidate promoting their own idea of foreign relations with foreign heads of state can have the potential to undermine the current administration's efforts. And such meetings are conducted without the benefit of full knowledge of what the current administration is doing or has done.

Now, many don't like the current foreign relations positions of the current administration. That, however, is not the point. If it's okay to undermine or contradict the official position of the U.S. government when you don't like that position, it is equally okay to undermine or contradict the official position when you DO like it. It can't be just a one-sided position, based upon your own opinion/perspective.

So I'm disappointed that any presidential candidate would act in such a manner. It's one thing to tell the American people what your foreign relations positions would be. It's another thing entirely to try and drum up support for them from foreign nations and citizens.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Notes from RightOnline #9

I will post, either tonight or tomorrow, the details about the remaining speakers including Michael Steele and Michelle Malkin.

But right now, I'm off to the individual panels, including the one I'll be moderating...

Notes on RightOnline #8

Erick Erickson from

Dr. Samuel Prescott met Paul Revere on the road during his ride. Prescott told Revere to continue to the next town. Prescott then woke up everyone to spread the word.

You don’t have to be Paul Revere, but you can still help deliver the message.

Pelosi is brain dead? Notes on RightOnline #7

"We will not convince Nancy Pelosi because she's brain dead."

Rep. John Carter (R-T31) on convincing Congress to focus on a good energy policy taking advantage of our resources, during his speech at RightOnline Summit.

UPDATE: How ironic that at the time Rep. Carter was making his statement, Pelosi was addressing the Netroots Nation meeting across town. For anyone not familiar, Netroots Nation is the left's attempt at what we're doing at the RightOnline Summit - except they're getting their marching orders from leaders of the Democratic Party and we're talking about how to spread the word about freedom, lower taxes and smaller government. Think her ears were burning?

Notes from RightOnline #6

What an inspiring story - Steve Lonegan, currently the state direction of Americans for Prosperity in New Jersey. He's the former mayor of a small town who got involved in politics because he say businesses and people leaving due to bad management and high taxes - sort of sounds like Toledo, huh?

He was able to reduce the city's budget and outlasted the entrenched bureaucrats who figured he was a one-termer they could just abide for four years.

He said: "We can look to our Founders for inspiration, but we cannot look to them for leadership … leaders come from the living."

Words to remember.

A side note: I got to meet Michael Steele a few minutes ago in the lobby just before he went into the 'green room' for speakers. He's much taller than he looks, but is as personable, friendly, and approachable as he appears on TV. I got to hear him give his speech at the 2004 Republican Convention and have followed his work since then, sad at his election results, but happy as he has taken over leadership of GOPAC. They're saving him for last - and I know we will not be disappointed.

(GOPAC features fellow speaker Michael Williams, as their featured candidate.)

Notes on RightOnline #5

Notes from John Fund:

* the 'left' knows that American is center-right ... and that they will lose any debate on the issues, so they disguise the issues and engage in psychological warfare, telling us we can't win so we shouldn't even bother to try.

* the best way to win a war is to not have to fight it in the first place. Democrats will attempt this and the main (lame) stream media will help, quoting polls and surveys.

* however, in the last 10 presidential elections, the Democrat candidate led in the Gallup polls 8 out of 10 times in July ... only 3 of those Democrats went on to win. Since 1944, only one Democrat has run and won more than 50% of the vote … Carter got 50% exactly. The election won't be over until November...and we need to fight.

* in order to win, the Democrats have to change the rules - and they've already started. If they succeed in changing the rules, it will be a very long time before Republicans will be able to be successful.

* If we fight, we win, If we flinch, we lose.

Notes on RightOnline #4

Merrie Spaeth:

words matter...when faced with good words or bad words, the bad words are more memorable

* when faced with a question about 'deception' or 'truthfulness' don't repeat the negative word to deny it...use the positive word

Michael Williams:

I don't have time between now and the next speaker to give the details of his speech, but know that he has the passion, presence and charisma of Obama - but with a substantive message. I would expect that this man could be governor of Texas and a contender for national office over the next 10-15 years. His speech today reminded me of Michael Steele's speech at the 2004 Republican Convention.

Stay tuned - John Fund is next.

Notes on RightOnline #3

Grover Norquist:

The left is not made up of friends and allies – it’s made up of enemies and parasites. If we don’t let them feed on us, they will feed on each other.

Notes from RightOnline #2

Steven Moore just finished his speech - some highlights:

* Three stooges of the American Presidency: Nixon, Ford, Carter ... with Carter being not only the worst president in history, but the worst past-president in history.

* all those who make more than the median U.S. income (half make more than median and half make less than median) pay 97.1% of taxes...see the Wall Street Journal's lead editorial on Monday.

* Polar bears are not going extinct: in 1960, there were 25,000 polar bears. Today, there are over 50,000. But because of politics - not science - they're now on the endangered species list and are the mascot for global warming.

* No bailouts - for borrowers, lenders or banks. We should not be taxed to pay for bad decisions by others.

More notes later...

Grover Norquist up next...

Notes from RightOnline #1

Tim Phillips, president of Americans For Prosperity, just finished his opening speech. He had a few things to say about global warming, including a question about why it's now called climate change...

He says Cap and Trade legislation should be known as 'duck and cover' as it will:

- raise taxes by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office
- cost as many as 1.2 million jobs over all industry sectors
- reduce individual freedom by regulating everything from how much energy you use to how much CO2 you can emit

Next up is Steven Moore, Wall Street Journal

RightOnline Summit - Austin, TX

Today I'm in Austin, Texas, at the RightOnline Summit sponsored by Americans For Prosperity.

This afternoon, I'll be moderating a panel discussion on the Map to Victory: How the Right Can Win Online. This morning, we've got the general session including speeches from:

* Michael Steele, Chairman of GOPAC and former Lt. Governor of Maryland
* Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform
* John Fund, editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal
* Steven Moore, from The Wall Street Journal
* Erick Erickson,
* Michelle Malkin

I don't think I'll be able to live blog the various speeches, but will post later about the highlights.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Americans For Prosperity documents hypocrisy at Al Gore Speech

Americans For Prosperity crashed Al Gore's latest environmental speech in Washington D.C. yesterday and, with a few simple questions, pointed out the hypocrisy of those who believe we need to have higher taxes and $8 gas in order to stop global warming.

It's a must see and something you won't find in main stream media outlets (or lame stream media as some bloggers are beginning to call it).

FOIA Friday - July 18, 2008

Some quotes to remind you why access to public records is so critical - while we continue to await receipt of public records ...

“Information is the currency of democracy.” -- Thomas Jefferson

"Far too often when citizens seek records from our government, they are met with long delays, denials and difficulty. Federal agencies can routinely and repeatedly deny requests for information with near impunity. Making the situation worse, requesters have few alternatives to lawsuits to appeal an agency's decision." -- Sen. John Cornyn

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. And people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." --James Madison

“ A fundamental premise of American democratic theory is that government exists to serve the people. … Public records are one portal through which the people observe their government, ensuring its accountability, integrity, and equity while minimizing sovereign mischief and malfeasance” -- Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner

"This law wasn’t designed to make your job easy. It was designed to keep your actions legal.” -- District Attorney Ray Don Jackson

"Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe." -- Abraham Lincoln

"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." -- James Madison (letter to W.T. Barry, 4 August 1822)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gerken gets rebuffed by judge in unionization issue

According to today's paper, Commissioner Pete Gerken wanted to meet 'face-to-face' with Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon over her decision to rescind recognition of the UAW in the unionization of Juvenile Court employees ... but he was rebuffed.

It's no wonder! In Judge Cubbon's press release yesterday, she wrote:

Earlier this year, Commissioner Pete Gerken, without Juvenile Court’s authority or knowledge, agreed to a union demand involving wage compression, which would cost the County an estimated $2 million over the course of a 3-year contract with the UAW.

So why in the world would the judge now want to meet with the same commissioner who went behind her back to negotiate with his former union and made promises he couldn't keep?

Interestingly, the paper mentions the projected cost of $2 million over three years but fails to include what I think is the most pertinent of facts: that Gerken, without the Court's authority or knowledge, met with the UAW and agreed to a wage demand.

Kudos to Judge Cubbon for looking out for her statutory responsibility and obligation to the functioning of court rather than catering to a local union. If the past is any indication, she will suffer greatly for daring to disagree with the union. The last time an elected official (former commissioner Harry Barlos) didn't cater to the UAW demands, Pete Gerken challenged him in the primary and ended up as a county commissioner after getting about $77,000 in campaign donations from the union. Hopefully, Cubbon will not suffer the same fate.

Why Toledo City Council didn't approve the Marina District financing

It's amazing what you find out when you ask for, and receive, a public record. One of the items on last Tuesday's city council meeting was an amended development agreement with Larry Dillin for the Marina District. I was curious about any changed terms, asked for a copy and found out.

A sticking point has been which comes first: the public financing or the letter of credit from the developer?

The new development agreement requires that Dillin submit to the city "an acceptable construction Letter of Credit (LOC) in the amount of at least $8.3 million" at or prior to closing. But it also includes this wording: "... Developer shall provide to the City the financial institution's commitment to issue the LOC prior to passage of the legislation ..."

As we learned in Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's press conference yesterday, Dillin has not been successful in getting a letter of credit from any Ohio bank and is now looking at foreign banks and investors, due to the credit conditions in the States. If he had to provide the LOC prior to closing, council could have passed the legislation committing $10 million in public funds to the construction of infrastructure and the park. However, since Dillin has to provide evidence of a financial institution's commitment to a LOC prior to passage of the legislation, council postponed the vote Tuesday with no explanation.

It should be clear that the reason for the delay is because Dillin doesn't have such a commitment.

For the sake of all concerned, I truly hope he is able to obtain the financial backing and go forward with the project. I still have serious concerns that residential housing (condos or apartments in this market and especially with Toledo's economic condition) is a risky venture in downtown Toledo, but I am trusting in Dillin's expertise and reputation. If he fails, as District 2 Councilman Michael Collins says, 'we'll all look like idiots.'

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Did Gerken interfere in the Juvenile Court/UAW negotiations?

I just received this email press release from Juvenile Court, clarifying some statements in the UAW advertisement regarding the unionization of the court employees. It appears as if the UAW did get some special consideration from at least one commissioner for the wage compression item they couldn't get from the judge:


The Juvenile Court Administration has engaged in lengthy negotiations with the UAW, beginning in the fall of 2006. These negotiations addressed non-economic issues raised by the UAW.

Earlier this year, Commissioner Pete Gerken, without Juvenile Court’s authority or knowledge, agreed to a union demand involving wage compression, which would cost the County an estimated $2 million over the course of a 3-year contract with the UAW.

Since the Lucas County Commissioners slashed the Juvenile Court’s combined 2008 budget request by over $1,000,000.00 ($765,585 for additional personnel and salaries) the Court was concerned how this could possibly be financed.

Upon learning from the UAW of Commissioner Gerken’s agreement, Judge Cubbon requested a written explanation from the three commissioners confirming that there was such a commitment and outlining its details and how it would be funded so as to avoid future layoffs at Juvenile Court.

The commissioners never responded.

To date, it is the understanding of the Juvenile Court Administration that there never was an agreement involving all of the commissioners. It was baffling to read the “open letter” which states that there was such an agreement reached with the commissioners, and yet these same commissioners refused to document this agreement as requested by Judge Cubbon on numerous occasions.

Under Ohio law, Courts are exempt from mandatory collective bargaining. The Juvenile Court has not only allowed, but welcomed, the union to engage in collective bargaining. The Court acknowledges and appreciates the work and commitment of all Lucas County employees, and particularly the employees of Juvenile Court. To that end, Judge Cubbon will not sign a contract which can only be funded with future layoffs of Juvenile Court employees and programs cuts.

The Court’s first responsibility is to the families and children of Lucas County that it serves. It is crucial that the Court focus on this important work that each of us was elected, appointed or hired to do.

Denise Navarre Cubbon,
Administrative Judge

What limits our federal government?

"[W]e are confirmed in the opinion, that the present age would be deficient in their duty to God, their posterity and themselves, if they do not establish an American republic. This is the only form of government we wish to see established; for we can never be willingly subject to any other King than He who, being possessed of infinite wisdom, goodness and rectitude, is alone fit to possess unlimited power."

Instructions of Malden, Massachusetts for a Declaration of
Independence, 27 May 1776 {Reference: Documents of American History, Commager, vol. 1 (97)}

When I read this quote from The Patriot Post's Founders' Quote Daily, I couldn't help but wonder what limits still exist on our federal government?

When was the last time Congress or the president said 'no' to anything because they didn't have the authority to do it? Other than Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), do you know of any member of Congress who has cast a no vote because the item in question wasn't authorized as a specific duty of Congress?

Does our federal government now possesses unlimited power? If not, where is the proof?

Toledo's bond rating increased

During yesterday's city council meeting, it was announced that Toledo's bond ratings had been increased. Moody's raised the city's rating from "A3 with a negative outlook" to "A3 with a stable outlook," while Standard & Poor's raised the rating from A to A+.

In a news release, Standard & Poor's cited the city's efforts to balance its budget and increase its reserve fund as well as the successful renewal of the city's income tax in March.

This is a good news-bad news situation, though many may not see the 'bad news' portion of the announcement.

Yes, it's good news that our city's bond rating has improved. This means that the city can get better interest rates when it borrows money. However, that's the bad news - the city can get better interest rates when it borrows money. It's only a matter of time before our elected officials put our city further into debt because of the lower interest rate.

Our city officials have a tendency to look only at today - or the duration of their term - when it comes to making spending decisions. To celebrate the lower interest rate on our borrowing is good - but to continue to borrow money isn't.

We borrowed money from the State Infrastructure Bank to fund the building of a park at the Marina District - and while the city only drew down about $1.5 million of the $5 million available, they still plan to access the remaining funds for other public projects in that area.

And now it won't cost us as much to borrow such funds...isn't that terrific???

Sadly, I fear that these better bond ratings won't be good for the city in the long run, even if they save us some money up front.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The truth hurts - especially if it isn't politically correct

There's been a lot of discussion about comments by former Sen. Phil Gramm, a top economic adviser to presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, that were published in an interview with The Washington Times.

The Times said Gramm said he expects a McCain administration would inherit an economy “weighed down above all by the conviction of many Americans that economic conditions are the worst in two or three decades and that America is in decline.”

The Times quoted him as saying: “You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. ... We have sort of become a nation of whiners."

“You just hear this constant whining, complaining, about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline. ... We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today.”

No, we're not yet in a recession - at least not by the definition of a recession - but let's not bother with the facts of the situation because we 'feel' like it's a recession - and 'experts' tell us a recession is coming, while politicians tell us they'll save us from any inconvenience.

Gas prices are high, it's true. But they've gone up in the past and we managed to survive. In fact, despite the high prices, we have no shortages of supply. Having lived through the shortages of the '70s when we could only purchase gas on a even-numbered day because our license plate ended in an even number, an increase in pricing isn't as bad.

Yes, there are problems in the housing industry, but we're talking about less than 10% of all mortgages being in trouble (no matter whose number you choose to use, estimates are below 10%). While that is certainly bad news if you're in that 'under 10%,' it also means that over 90% of mortgage holders are doing fine. And yes, there are problems with banking and financing due to fears that the mortgage crises may expand. But banks who've issued bad loans should pay the penalty for doing so, as much as (perhaps more so?) the individuals who took out loans they knew they couldn't afford.

Stocks go up and down, but the Dow closed Friday at 11,100.54. Do you remember the big deal when only a few years ago we watched to see if it would break 10,000? The nature of stocks is to go up and down...they always have and always will, so big swings should not come as a surprise.

June sales reports from the nation's retailers showed better-than-expected results at discounters and wholesale club operators, even though mall-based stores were down. This means that people are still buying, even if they've changed WHAT they're buying or making decisions to seek out lower prices. This, too, has happened in the past and will probably happen in the future as well.

But media reports and politicians tell us things are dire. Candidates focus on people who are in need so they can offer a solution. If you don't have a need they can solve, why do you need the candidate? (hint: you don't!) They appeal to the emotions and hope you'll vote for them because they'll make all your troubles go away.

And it is this constant barrage of bad news and heart-breaking stories of people who've made bad decisions and now think someone else needs to take care of them to prevent them from suffering any consequences. Every news story and candidate starts with the 'personal' story - a single example of a bad situation that means things for everyone are as bad (if you're the news media) or that everyone is in need of your proposed solution (if you're a candidate).

I doubt many people these days could tell you what defines a recession, but Phil Gramm is right: we certainly know how to whine about it. As a nation, we've become used to having things so easy that any time a bit of a hardship comes along, we instantly turn to elected officials to make it go away.

Gas prices doubled? Congress must act. Funny, though, that when car prices go up, we don't demand similar action. You used to be able to buy a good sedan for under $10,000. Today, most sedans with any type of amenity (like air conditioning) start around $20,000. Why aren't we all clamouring for Congress to do something? Is it because we don't demonize big car companies they way we demonize 'big oil'? Or is it that as much media attention isn't directed to that price increase?

We've become a nation that likes to have all problems solved in 30 minutes - like a sitcom. We whine when things don't go our way and many of us really have no idea how to actually take care of ourselves. While some people in the path of Hurricane Katrina waited for 'guvmint' to save them, those in the Midwest who lost everything in floods quietly started their cleanup and went about the task of rebuilding their lives. No celebrities rushing to their aid and no stories about how it was all the fault of the president.

A difference between whiners and doers? Perhaps. Or perhaps a difference in the mindset or upbringing that distinguishes between being a victim forever, or doing what you can with what life has thrown in your path. But there wasn't a lot of 'whining' with the floods, regardless of the reason.

Personally, I don't want a politician who's going to take care of me. I wouldn't 'whine' to a politician that my problem demanded a national solution. I want my national elected officials to protect my Constitutional rights and to do what the Constitution mandates and no more. I want them to spend less of my money on 'whiners' so I can keep more if to keep from being a 'whiner' myself. I don't want them using a single example of a bad situation as a justification for whatever solution they're offering. But I would like them to know and be able to explain what the Constitution and amendments require of them. Funny - no one ever asks presidential candidates to explain the amendments or the Bill of - that's not as photogenic as a struggling family who will be saved by whatever latest program is being pushed by that same candidate. It's so hard to put a face on 'the right to free speech.'

The bigger truth of Gramm's statement is the lack of knowledge that leads to our current situation. If people don't know what defines a recession, they are free to define it themselves - and then it can mean anything. If people don't understand how a free market or economy is supposed to work, they can whine about what they 'feel' is a lack of 'fairness' within the economy. If people aren't educated as to their responsibilities that go along with their rights - or even about the source of their rights, they will turn to government to 'give' them more 'rights' and to protect them from any negative consequence from failing to be responsible.

Kind of like what we've got today.

So Phil Gramm is right, but he's not politically correct, and under the bus he is thrown. That's too bad, because rather than 'feeling our pain,' we could certainly use some straight talk and 'tough love.'

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Deed requiring union work forever at Marina District is pulled

Councilman Frank Szollosi has pulled his ordinance that would have instituted a deed restriction at the Marine District project requiring only union workers for anything - forever.

According to today's paper, Szollosi says the ordinance is no longer needed.

"Mr. Szollosi said he is removing the proposed ordinance because of commitments Mr. Dillin made to local union labor. Mr. Dillin last night declined to detail those discussions."

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Marine District developer Larry Dillin both said the requirement would kill the project.

So now the only question remains is this: Was Szollosi just using the power of his office to force concessions with the developer by introducing this piece of legislation?

The circumstances are highly suspect. Local councilman with strong support from local unions introduces a deal-breaker ordinance setting out a deed restriction that would require only union labor for any and all work - forever; local developer, who's already invested heavily in the project, meets with entities and makes 'commitments' to local unions; councilman withdraws ordinance.

I think there's a name for this type of 'coercion.' No wonder businesses are leaving the area.

Friday, July 11, 2008

FOIA Friday - July 11, 2008

Chris Myers, who's been subbing for me on Eye On Toledo, has been keeping track of how various public offices respond to his requests as he does his research for the radio show.

His post on the grades he gave the offices details his experiences.

And Graphics Guy is still battling over records relating to the red light and speed cameras. I believe he's meeting with an attorney to discuss mandamus action, considering it's been about two months he's been waiting.

I'll keep you posted on his on-going struggle to access public records.

Ohio's mandated sick days are all about 2008

As I've said in numerous posts, the so-called Healthy Families Act, better known as mandated 'sick days Ohio,' is all about driving voters to the polls for the presidential campaign, more than it is about actually providing a 'benefit' (that is anything BUT a benefit) to Ohioans.

I guess they still don't get it: imposing more mandates on the job providers only means that they'll cut out something else in order to afford the new mandate - often jobs or other benefits. That's not 'healthy' for job growth in Ohio and this certainly doesn't lead to a business-friendly environment in Ohio.

A message to Obama and the 'Sick Days Ohio' supporters: please - we're begging you - stop trying to 'help'!

For Immediate Release

Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833 or Brian Dunn, 614-286-7763

Obama Endorses Paid Sick Days

Presidential Candidate Says They're Vital to Women's Economic Security

Ohioans for Healthy Families, the state-wide coalition behind the paid sick day ballot initiative in the Buckeye state, expressed delight today that Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama has decided to make seven paid sick days a key part of his campaign for the White House.

At campaign events yesterday and today in New York, Virginia, Michigan and Missouri, Sen. Obama and his wife, Michelle, are highlighting paid sick days as part of a plan to bring economic security to America's working women. According to the Obama campaign, the plan is designed to help women and families deal with a range of work-related challenges.

In a statement accompanying the plan's release, Sen. Obama said:

"I don't accept ... an America that makes women choose between their kids and their careers. It's unacceptable that women are denied jobs or promotions because they've got kids at home. It's unacceptable that 22 million working women don't have a single paid sick day. When I'm President, we'll take these critical issues head-on and help women and families thrive in a changing economy."

Coalition spokesman Dale Butland offered this reaction:

"We're delighted that Sen. Obama recognizes the importance of paid sick days and is making it a key part of his Presidential campaign. With Ohio polls consistently showing over 70% support for the Healthy Families Act, we hope Sen. McCain will do likewise. In any event, it's now clear that the Presidential campaign dialogue will include paid sick days. As a result, voters will be learning a lot more about this family values issue in the weeks ahead."

Note: In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Obama is a co-sponsor of S.910, a federal bill that would mandate allowing workers to earn 7 paid sick days per year. Sen. McCain is not a co-sponsor, and his position on paid sick days is unknown.


Note to Sen. Obama: America doesn't force women to choose between their jobs and their children, the women do that on their own when they decide to either have children and/or have a job. If you want to devote full attention to your children, you cannot distract yourself from that task by having a job. If you need to work in order to afford to support your children, perhaps that's a consideration you should have made prior to actually having children. If you're in a situation where you are now a single mom supporting your family, I feel for you, but that doesn't mean that the state must create a law that says you must be paid for any time off work that you must take. You had the child(ren) and must now take responsibility for that decision, incurring all the joys and consequences of it as well.

On a similar note, I find it "unacceptable" that Sen. Obama believes people should be paid for time not worked, regardless of the reason. Why is acceptable to expect a company to pay someone when they are not at work earning the compensation? Why doesn't he find it 'unacceptable' that people want something for nothing? Or, in keeping with his socialist tendencies, does he think people are 'entitled'??

In the end, if Sick Days Ohio passes in Ohio, we can expect companies to respond - and not in a favorable way. They will either increase the price of their goods sold, eliminate some other benefit or reduce the numbers of workers in order to pay for this mandate for the ones left. None of these outcomes will "help woman and families thrive" in Ohio or in the nation.

Other Commentary:

Obama demonstrates lack of business sense

Government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

The government is considering a conservatorship for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest mortgage finance companies.

"Under a conservatorship, the shares of Fannie and Freddie would be worth little or nothing, and any losses on mortgages they own or guarantee — which could be staggering — would be paid by taxpayers.

The government officials said that the administration had also considered calling for legislation that would offer an explicit government guarantee on the $5 trillion of debt owned or guaranteed by the companies. But that is a far less attractive option, they said, because it would effectively double the size of the public debt.

The officials also said that such a step would be ineffective because the markets already widely accept that the government stands behind the companies.

The officials involved in the discussions stressed that no action by the administration was imminent, and that Fannie and Freddie are not considered to be in a crisis situation. But in recent days, enough concern has built among senior government officials over the health of the giant mortgage finance companies for them to hold a series of meetings and conference calls to discuss contingency plans."

First, it's good that people are looking at contingencies. I understand the thinking behind the conservatorship idea - the companies are too big to fail - though I don't necessarily agree with it. But government has no money it doesn't take from others - meaning, you and me.

I'm already paying for my own mortgage. I was a responsible purchaser and read all the fine print, made sure I understood the terms and bought a house that was affordable for our income. Yes, we had an adjustable rate mortgage when we first purchased the home because it gave us a lower interest rate and more available cash for doing the repairs we knew the house needed. We did so with the understanding that in 2-3 years, we'd switch over to a conventional mortgage - and we made sure we had no penalties or clauses that would prevent us from doing so, or make our choice more expensive.

Now, the government wants to take the taxes I've paid and use it for others who were not responsible with their home purchase. I'm a believer in the old addage, "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." If a person was so "inexperienced" (that is: stupid) that they did not know or understand what they were getting in to when it comes to their mortgage terms, that's not my fault and it shouldn't require my tax dollars to be used to save them from their mistakes. Perhaps that type of person shouldn't be owning a home in the first place if they are incapable of entering into the purchase in a knowledgeable manner.

Further, if people find themselves in a period of declining income due to any number of reasons (loss of job, medical issues), there are options available that do not require tax dollars to implement. They aren't pleasant options, to be sure, and I certainly don't relish another's difficulty. But expecting fellow taxpayers to make the situation 'right' (whatever that might mean to the individual in trouble) is not the way to go.

It seems as if whenever a problem arises, the first - and preferred - choice is to turn to government to 'take care of it.' Never mind the fact that it's government interference that caused the problem in the first place, we'll just let them continue to meddle and attempt to relieve people of the consequences of their actions. Government officials proposing such bailouts think people (and businesses) should be protected from making bad decisions - but that only ensures more bad decisions in the future when they fail to learn from the experience.

In the meantime, you and I find our lives more difficult as we pay for government's charity.

***Porkopolis has a background post on these two companies.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Congressional role in war making urged

From the Foundation for Economic Education:

"James Baker and Warren Christopher, who struggled with the War Powers Act when they were secretaries of State, Tuesday proposed an overhaul designed to increase consultations between the White House and Congress when U.S. troops go into battle. The proposal, drafted by a bipartisan commission they headed, would require presidents to consult with a newly created congressional committee before ordering 'significant armed conflict' expected to last a week or more." (USA Today, Wednesday)

Or they could simply honor the constitutional provision that says, "The Congress shall have Power ... To declare War."

National health care or an open market?

There's so much discussion these days about the problems in the health care industry. Medical insurance (which, btw, my family purchases on our own) can be expensive depending upon the type of coverage you want to have, especially if you have children or medical issues.

Many individuals say they can't afford to purchase medical insurance. Others decide, for various reasons such as age and health, that they don't need such insurance. Still others find it's better for them to just pay for their care at the time they need it, rather than purchase an insurance policy.

But many have decided that the only way to 'solve' the problem of uninsured or 'under-insured' individuals is for the government to take control of the issue. I'm not one of them.

Here's what I don't understand. We purchase homeowner's or renter's insurance on the open market. There are numerous types of policies, multiple carriers and a host of agents willing to write such a policy.

We purchase car insurance on the open market. There are so many options when it comes to car insurance that some companies advertise that they'll do the comparisons for you to help make it easy to decide. You can decide what level of insurance you need, whether or not you need collision coverage for your vehicle (based upon the age and condition of the car) and what your deductible will be.

We purchase life insurance on the open market. We can get as much or as little as we want, whole life or universal life, from companies across the United States.

Why can't medical insurance work the same way?

With car insurance, the competition and various levels of coverage have resulted in an increase in options with lower costs for consumers. Would the same be possible if health insurance were available in the same manner?

We don't let our employers decide our life insurance, our home insurance or our car insurance - why do we so willingly allow them to decide about our health insurance?

I know the answers to these questions, so they're not exactly rhetorical. Congress granted tax deductions to employers for providing the insurance in an effort to increase coverage. That's why employers offer it as a 'benefit.' Plus, with the current structure, it's more cost effective - in some ways - to be part of a larger group, where you can aggregate risk. Medical insurance is also more highly regulated with Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, etc. So it seems that part of the reasons we have problems in this area is because of the meddling by our Congress, yet some think they can meddle some more to make it right.

If we're really looking for a 'solution' to increase availability of affordable health insurance and, therefore, enable more Americans to purchase such coverage, wouldn't we all be better served by looking at how other types of insurance actually accomplish this goal????

Or are we so stupid that we will, instead, look to government and elected officials who've never worked a day in the insurance industry for a supposed 'solution'?

It is, after all, our decision to make.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

From The Patriot Post, Founders' Quote Daily

"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them." ~ Tench Coxe (An American Citizen, No.2, 28 September 1787)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A ban on fireworks?

Usually, when some government official starts talking about 'banning' an item, I tend to overreact, primarily because it's not the item that's causing the problem - it's how that item is used by a (usually) irresponsible person.

So, when I saw the headline in today's paper that our police chief wants to ban fireworks because they may be the cause of a terrible apartment fire, I immediate saw today's blog post writing itself.

But then I read the entire article and got to this:

"Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre yesterday called for the ban on the sale of fireworks. "They have to ban the sale of fireworks, because, in my opinion, it makes absolutely no sense to sell them to people and tell them it's illegal to shoot them off," Chief Navarre said."

This has always puzzled me. We sell fireworks in a state where it is illegal to use them. So if it's illegal to use the product, why is it allowed to be sold? The only items that are legal in Ohio are sparklers, trick noisemakers, and certain novelties. When you purchase anything else, you have to sign a form that says you're promising to take them out of the state.

But the laws are never - or very rarely - enforced. According to Chief Navarre,

"The problem is, it's such a widespread problem, and it's been tolerated for many, many years, and it will be difficult with the resources that we have to crack down," he said.

Meantime, he said his department would look into tougher enforcement against fireworks.

And that's the problem. It really isn't the sale of the items, it's the fact that they are sold and even when people promise to take the items out of state, they don't and they've gotten away with it for ages.

I must admit that I enjoyed the display my neighbors set off over the Maumee Bay, especially with the wind blowing it away from the shoreline. But they were clearly the 'illegal' items and the fact that they were illegal didn't seem to phase anyone, including the police.

So, since the use of fireworks is banned in Ohio, should we go the next step and prohibit the sale of them as well? Imagine all the sales taxes that wouldn't be collected if we did...

If the usage is illegal, should we spend our limited police resources to actually enforce the law?

Or, should we let the sale and usage be legal and just penalize those who are not responsible with the items?

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

From The Patriot Post, Founders' Quote Daily:

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants
Lev. XXV, v. X"

Inscription on the Liberty Bell, from Leviticus 25:10

From my column in this week's Toledo Free Press:

Ronald J. Pestritto ( wrote: “The American Founders built into the Constitution a number of mechanisms that would curb the power of government, making it difficult for government to violate the liberties and rights of citizens. As important as these improvements were over past governments, however, they were only ‘auxiliary precautions.' As Madison explained, ‘a dependence on the people is ... the primary control on the government.' The principal responsibility for keeping American government within the confines of the Constitution, and therefore protecting the liberty of the American people, belongs to the American people themselves.”

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Economic Development Debate? Maybe...

Filling in for Fred Lefebvre for three hours each day on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD has put me a bit behind in my internet reading. So it wasn't until I read the Carnival of Ohio Politics #124 that I learned of a possible economic development debate - featuring ME.

Roland Hansen, Roland Hansen Commentary, read my column in The Toledo Free Press and then read a column written by Commissioner Ben Konop in rebuttal. Roland thinks the two of us should have a public debate on the issue of economic development. He suggests a neutral setting with a neutral moderator.

I think it would be a good idea and would do my best to arrange my schedule in order to participate.

I guess it's beside the point that Comm. Konop has an open invitation to come on Eye On Toledo and discuss, debate, challenge just about any topic - which he continues to decline. I suppose he could suggest that the studio with the two of us and a board operator is not 'neutral,' but his explanation for not taking advantage of this open invitation is because he feels no moral obligation to appear on my show. I have no idea whether or not he feels a moral obligation to participate in the suggested debate - or if he will even respond to the suggestion Roland has made.

I don't think there is any disagreement between anyone in Lucas County that economic development is a top priority for the area. The major disagreements and differences of opinion are in HOW to accomplish the goal.

I am confident in my ability to discuss the decisions, options and approaches (absent personal attacks) on the issue and would welcome a similar confidence from Comm. Konop.

I doubt either of us will convince the other to change, but a good discussion and debate on the issue will only benefit us all.

Quote of the Day

From The Patriot Post:

Founders' Quote Daily

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." ~ Benjamin Franklin (letter to Benjamin Vaughn, 14 March 1783)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

UPDATED - Businesses begin to speak out against Healthy Families Act

UPDATE: The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce has a bullet point sheet explaining some of the provisions of the proposed Healthy Families Act and a few of the reasons why it's bad for Ohio.

Original Post:
The other day I got an email from our insurance company. No - it wasn't an appeal to purchase more insurance...

The subject line was "The so-called 'Healthy Families Act'" and I immediately opened it as that's what I call this misguided, 'not business friendly' ballot initiative.

It's starts with this:

If you haven't heard about this one, learn the facts. Here's a synopsis from the Ohio Professional Insurance Agents Association:

it says:

A coalition of business groups, Ohioans to Protect Jobs, is leading the effort to oppose the measure. The coalition includes PIA, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Ohio Restaurant Association and Ohio Farm Bureau, among others.

PIA’s board of directors voted to formally oppose this proposal, which if enacted, would be detrimental to Ohio’s business community – negatively impacting Ohio’s already struggling economy and discouraging new employers from locating businesses within the state.

It is important to educate your family and peers about the ramifications of this proposal if passed, as well as to discourage them from signing the petition to help place this issue on the ballot. No other state in the country requires employers to offer paid sick leave. While the proposal sounds appealing, it will ultimately result in employers being forced to make difficult decisions to meet the requirements of the proposal, such as modifying other benefits already offered (such as health insurance) or making staff cuts. Additionally, if the issue passes, it will open the door for more government mandates and interference.

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 71 percent of people surveyed support mandated paid sick leave. Ironically, many of the same people (58 percent) said state requirements have made it too costly for business, resulting in Ohio's economy suffering. Thirty-three percent of respondents also indicated it is very likely or somewhat likely they or a family member will eventually leave the state for better opportunities. With numbers like these, now is not the time to saddle our economy with a surefire job killer.

Let me know if you'd like more information about this proposal. Many proposals sound good on their face, but when you read the document language, it's very different. The Toledo Chamber of Commerce reports that under this proposal, employees could take the time off in hour-increments. So, an employee could come in an hour late and leave an hour early, and the employer would have no recourse. This not only puts a wrench in getting the work done, but it puts an unfair burden on those workers who have to fill in without notice.

Interestingly, today I was sent a copy of a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland from Alan Brass, Chief Executive Officer of Promedica Health Systems, one of Northwest Ohio's largest employers. He, too, opposes this initiative and called on the governor to oppose it as well. He writes:

"As you know, this effort would be extremely detrimental for businesses in our state, prohibiting them from functioning effectively and productively. Several production-based corporations have publicly stated that passage of this act would, in effect, signal a death knell for their company to continue to do business in Ohio.
I urge you to take a strong stand in opposition of this initiative and work toward the defeat of any semblance of this proposal. I also stand ready to assist in that effort, and will encourage my colleagues throughout the state to do the same."

A copy was sent to 18 representatives and senators who cover the area in which Promedica has facilities.

Additionally, Dennis Lehman, Executive Vice President of Business for the Cleveland Indians, has also weighed in. In a letter to State Rep. Barbara Sears, he writes:

"The State of Ohio, if this law passes, would be the lone state with type of law. This law will work contrary to all the efforts that have been made to create economic development throughout Ohio. We would have a difficult time attracting new business, creating another obstacle for growth."

He also says the bill would be costly and his organization could be forced to reduce wages, increase ticket prices, increase other employee contributions or decrease benefits to make up the difference. He also says they would have to hire an additional staff member just to handle the administrative duties the new law would require for their 2,000 full- and part-time employees.

One problem with the initiative is that it 'sounds' so good - who could be against 'healthy families'?

Another problem is that it is being pushed by many unions and left-leaning groups as an initiative that will help drive Democrats to the polls in November.

But the bigger problem is that many voters will base their decision about the issue on how it sounds or makes them feel - rather than evaluating the policy itself with the corresponding fiscal and economic impact, both of which are very negative.

I'm glad Ohio businesses are beginning to speak out against a bad policy that will negatively impact the business climate in Ohio. Considering our economic condition, we really don't need any more anti-business policies and laws.

Dumb laws and more on Ohio's so-called Healthy Families Act

Actually, these are two separate topics, but the headline might easily be construed to be about the so-called Healthy Families Act.

On that note, fellow blogger Tim Higgins has a rather sarcastic and irreverent take on this proposal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

As for Dumb Laws, the Club For Growth has a new blog focusing on dumb laws/proposals we find all across this nation. They have a nice blurb about our two state senators, Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich, sponsoring a resolution to honor soil.

Many of the laws are so ridiculous you wonder just how anyone actually thought of them. Then again, many are so ridiculous you might wonder just what our country is coming to.

And yes, I've sent them a couple from right here in Toledo. Unfortunately, some of our Toledo laws aren't just dumb, they're scary, so they might not make the cut.

If you have examples, feel free to offer them up. Sometimes I think the only way to get politicians to stop doing dumb things is to so thoroughly embarrass them that they stop.

(I know, I know - that's not likely - but I can hope!)
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