Sunday, May 31, 2009

Caring for friends

We all have friends who are more like family. Sam and I are so very fortunate to know a very special couple who fit this description. We met because of them, they were in our wedding, and we have spent virtually every weekend together for the past two decades. In times of sorrow and joy, they are next on the list to call - right after our parents.

However, they're having a difficult time because she has cancer and is going through a particular rough patch in her treatment.

My postings will be light over the next couple of days (as they've been since Friday) as we help them with some home adjustments to make things easier.

We'll be building a ramp so she doesn't have to traverse the stairs and will probably need to replace their bathtub with a shower stall so she doesn't have to step over a such a high edge.

I hope y'all are fortunate to have such people in your lives - and that you enjoy the wonderful weather that is forecast for today.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is a local party's executive committee a public body?

Well, that's the question.

Last night, the Lucas County Republican Party held an executive committee meeting to address several issues, one of them being a seat on the Lucas County Board of Elections.

First, you should know that the local party does not appoint to this position. The executive committee makes a recommendation to the Secretary of State who can then either accept or reject the recommendation.

Last night, the argument was made that the recommendation of Patrick Kriner for re-appointment to the BOE in 2008 was somehow 'unlawful' because the meeting did not take place in accordance with Ohio's public meeting laws.

So the first question we should all be asking is this: is a party's executive committee subject to these laws? Not according to the state's Ohio Sunshine Laws Manual.

There are certain times when a party's central committee is acting as a public body, like when it votes to fill certain elective offices that have become vacant. During such actions, the central committee can hold an executive session to discuss the appointment, but must then conduct the vote in the public portion of their meeting. That position is also supported by a 1980 Ohio Attorney General Opinion (80-08).

An earlier AG Opinion (70-011) explains that even though there are times when the central committee members are considered 'public officers,' they are still officers of the political party, not officers of government entity. That distinction is important because only government entities are subject to Ohio's Sunshine Laws.

But the central committee is not the executive committee. In fact, the executive committee, at least locally, has served as the recommending body for the central committee for decades. In filling vacancies in elective office and on the ballot, the LCRP executive committee has screened individuals and then made recommendations to the central committee which then voted to accept or reject the recommendation.

This is the same process used for a seat on the Board of Elections. The executive committee meets and makes a recommendation - except for this seat, the recommendation is to the Secretary of State.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, but this seems pretty simple and straightforward. Only governmental bodies are subject to the state's public meetings laws and private bodies may be subject to those laws, but only when performing certain functions of a public nature. Recommendations are not listed in the Sunshine Manual as one of those certain functions.

But that won't stop LCRP Chairman Jon Stainbrook from his effort to eject a good member of the BOE. According to today's paper, the plan is to hope that Kriner will resign (which I sincerely doubt), then ask Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to remove him (which she can only do for cause) and then file suit to force the desired outcome.

A spokesman for Ms. Brunner said that according to the department's election law attorneys, Mr. Kriner's appointment was lawful.

"State law has been followed in this instance. Every indication has been that this is a proper recommendation," spokesman Jeff Ortega said.

State law requires the secretary of state to appoint the person recommended by the local party's executive committee, unless she has reason to believe the nominee would not be a competent member.

State law allows the secretary of state to remove Mr. Kriner for neglect of duty or wrongdoing in office. Mr. Ortega said he was not aware of any problem with Mr. Kriner's service.

Why does Stainbrook want Kriner off the board? Well, because without a vacancy he can't get himself appointed - and he wants the position, ... and the salary, ... and the ability to hire/fire the staff in the office.

In a strange twist at the meeting, mayoral candidate Jim Moody nominated Stainbrook to fill the vacancy. Moody already has an issue that could haunt him at the ballot box this year. (He moved into the city to run for mayor, but his family did not.) Making this nomination could put him at odds with many Republicans who do not approve of threatening to sue people to get your way - something Stainbrook has a penchant for doing - especially when it's fellow Republicans who are the targets of such threats. But as of this writing, the local party has not yet endorsed Moody for the mayor's seat, which may have been a factor in his decision to nominate Stainbrook.

***Side Note: Is Jim Moody actually a member of the executive committee that he could make such a nomination? I don't know. There are certain required members (like club presidents, ward chairman, state central committee members, past chairman and elected officials) and then the party chairman gets to appoint an equal number of individuals. Maybe Moody is one of Stainbrook's appointees to the committee. I don't know where one would get a list of those members.
End Side Note***

Another thing that happened at the meeting last night was the decision to allow Stainbrook to utilize building fund monies to purchase a new headquarters. While the party may have the funds to purchase a building, their most recent financial reports indicate they do not have the funds to maintain one. I wonder if anyone at the meeting questioned the long-term plan for paying for the expenses of ownership(utilities, taxes, insurance) before they cast their vote in favor.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Controversy over dinner sponsored by local Republican clubs

Last night on Eye On Toledo, I mentioned some of the rumors swirling around about the plans for a Lincoln-Hayes Dinner sponsored by the area Republican clubs.

While no one would go on the record, multiple individuals confirmed that the term 'lawsuit' was used in discussions with the local party chairman, Jon Stainbrook. Additionally, the term 'injunction' was used in reference to the speeches two state-wide candidates were invited to give.

From what I've been told, the issue is about the name of the event with the claim that only the Lucas County Republican Party can host a 'Lincoln' dinner.

Since my involvement with the local Republican Party, they have hosted a Lincoln Day dinner as a major fundraiser for the party itself. Proceeds have always been used to fund the operations of the party (rent, utilities, etc.) and to support candidates (slate cards, etc.). Throughout the nation, 'Lincoln Day' dinners are hosted by local parties, state parties, clubs and even individuals. These dinners are traditionally held in the spring, but the LCRP has not yet scheduled one for this year (though some people did get phone calls asking about their plans to attend one once it had been scheduled). To my knowledge, Lucas County has never used the name "Lincoln-Hayes" for any of their dinners in the last 20 years.

Here is the press release I received from the Fallen Timbers Republican Club:

May 28,2009
For Immediate Release to the Media

In regards to the charity event planned Fallen Timbers Republican Club releases the following statement to the media:

Since last summer I have been involved in many discussions regarding the need for reaching out to the other clubs and possibly having gatherings of all the clubs in Lucas County. The goal being to bring like-minded individuals together so that they could engage in fellowship, share ideas and help candidates.

The conversations I have been involved in reflect on filling a void in our county, the need to build unity in the party. To create a stronger bond among Lucas County Republicans. All of the area Republican Clubs have come together to collaborate and sponsor this event. We at the Fallen Timbers Republican Club are honored to be included. To clarify this event was not intended to exclude anyone and Chairman Stainbrook was sent an invitation along with hundreds of others that were mailed out last week.

In planning this event a greater cause was considered. Our area is suffering economically and if this event could have a greater purpose than a republican gathering - then it was our duty to do so. The food banks in our area are also suffering from these hard economic times, so it wasn't a great stretch to decide that our "dinner event" could in turn provide many dinners for others. I would hope that all of the threats of lawsuits don't end up literally taking the food out of hungry Toledoan's mouths.

I am reluctant to give out event details until some legalities/negotiations have been finalized. I will however say that the Fallen Timbers Republican Club stands ready to change the name of the event if that's what it will take to appease. I don't see this as a defeat, it is merely a bump we face in traveling along the "high road". The events purpose was not to upset or oust anyone. It was to have a county-wide republican gathering and a charity event. I hope that the State Senator Jon Husted and Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost will still honor us with their attendance.

I respectfully request that everyone take a moment and reflect the motives of all involved, to rise above personal feelings and do what is the best for the republican's and the Toledo Seagate Foodbank.


Christine Seles
FTRC President

So why would this be an issue? Good question - and I don't have the answer, though many people I spoke to have plenty of speculations.

I hope the clubs will find a way to go forward with this event, as I believe it would be good - for local Republicans as well as the food bank.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Toledo makes a red 'Drudge' headline

Here's a screen shot of the headline in the left-hand column in red:

The link takes you to this WTOL story, which is a much better story than the two below it about Columbus and the layoff of some of their police, including the ones just hired with stimulus funds.

Toledo City Council says 'no' to fire fees

Kudos to the 10 members of Toledo City Council who voted against imposing the proposed fire department fees last night.

District Council members Michael Ashford, D. Michael Collins, Mike Craig, Tom Waniewski and Lindsay Webb along with at-large members Phil Copeland, Joe McNamara, George Sarantou, Betty Shultz and Frank Szollosi, all voted no.

The first vote on the measure (which was 6-4 in favor with two absences) failed due to a lack of enough votes for passage. Council President Mark Sobczak, who voted yes both times (along with District Councilwoman Wilma Brown), had previously said he'd spoken to the individual who voted no and thought he had his seventh vote to ensure passage.

But a funny thing happened along the way: the public got involved. And because of the overwhelming emails and phone calls, the four original no votes stayed the same and four of the original yes votes switched to no, resulting in the defeat of the measure.

There are many people who think their instructions to their elected servants fall on deaf ears - that their phone calls and emails don't mean anything. That perception is widespread and there are many votes which can be used as an example. However, as we've seen with this fire billing vote, when we all speak with firm instruction and with explanation of the consequences of not listening, they will heed us. And the more that we provide feedback and instruction to them and the more likely they will be to do as we instruct.

IMPORTANT: If you took the time to call or email council on this issue, be sure you take the time to call or email and thank them for making the right decision. So often, we tell elected officials what we don't want them to do and we fail to thank them when they make good decisions on our behalf. Having been an elected official, I know how important it is to hear 'thank you' from your constituents.

Toledo City Council: 419-245-1050

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City settles red-light camera lawsuit for $15,000

I was following up on some issues and just found out that the City of Toledo did settle the lawsuit filed by Jason Gloyd and COAST over public access to the appeal hearings for the red-light camera tickets.

In addition to the $15,000 settlement, the city agreed to allow anyone from the public to attend and observe the appeal hearings.

This is a big win for public access, but an unnecessary cost for the citizens of Toledo. The mayor should never have restricted access to these hearings in the first place and when challenged on the issue, should never have allowed it to actually go to court and then cost us $15,000.

Here is the letter from the city:

The blog is back up

In a column I produced for the Free Press on the subject of Memorial Day, I celebrated the incredible sacrifices of those men and women who have fought for our freedom. This is well-known history to us in America. My online research revealed the amazing birthing of this holiday, and I included some of these details in my column. What I failed to do – and I take full responsibility for this – is that I did not state that segments of this historical record came from many sources that shared identical information. It was not my own work, but was a compilation of well-known facts about this holiday and I should have clarified that. I had no intention of publishing un-sourced material from other people who had worked hard to develop it, and for that, I apologize.

I took full responsibility for my error and, to ensure the reputation of the Free Press, resigned as a columnist for them.

I also made my blog private over the weekend. I did so because a couple of people were inundating it with nasty comments. I have no control over what people say in other areas, but I do on my blog. Making it private was easier, considering our family commitments, than going in and changing each individual one of my over a thousand posts to no commenting and then changing it back later. It is now back to normal.

In light of this incident, some are saying that because I have made mistakes in my life, I shouldn’t be sharing my thoughts and opinions about our government.

I disagree.

First, freedom of speech is not restricted to only those who are perfect. We all have the ability, as well as the responsibility, to pay attention to what our elected servants are doing on our behalf and to communicate with them and others about those actions and decisions. This is especially critical in a place like Toledo where only selective information is shared with the public.

Second, I reject the perspective of some that a mistake in one part of your life invalidates your opinions on all other matters. This is a fallacious argument often employed by people who cannot attack the position, so they attack the person. It’s called an ad hominem fallacy. An attack on me, personally, does not mean that my opinions, ideas, positions or conclusions are wrong. In fact, I’d say it’s more of an indication that the positions are so good that the only way to attack them is to divert attention by attacking the person.

There are also these arguments:
• The circumstantial ad hominem – that the circumstances surrounding a person make their statements true or false. The circumstances – or even the motivation – of a person making a statement are irrelevant when considering the validity of that statement.
• The personal attack fallacy – very similar to the ad hominem – ‘Maggie says that ordinance is a bad thing – and well, you know Maggie – so the ordinance must be good.’
• The ‘poisoning the well’ fallacy – where unfavorable or negative information about someone is presented in order to make you question the person and reject any argument she makes.

In all these examples, the information about the person does not change the validity of the positions.

For example, regardless of anything about me, the ordinance to bill for fire services contains language that says the city shall bill homeowners for anything not covered by insurance and that is contrary to what the politicians are telling us is going to happen. That fact was true last week and it’s true today. My circumstances have not changed that.

Third – I reject the idea that simply because I make a mistake, I have lost my ‘right’ (as some people call it) to point out when others are making that same mistake or other ones. If you believe that, don’t pay any attention to what I have to say. Don’t waste your time reading my blog.

Leftists often employ this type of reasoning or justification. They know that no one is perfect and they are trying to eliminate criticism of actions and decisions by claiming that only perfect people can offer a criticism. No perfection? No criticism.

But let me ask this: who do you bring in to talk to kids about not joining gangs? Former gang members. What organization is good at helping alcoholics kick the habit? Alcoholic Anonymous – which is comprised of former alcoholics. Have you heard of Scared Straight?

As parents, do you tell your children not to do certain things, even though you did them when you were their age? Did you lose your ‘right’ to provide direction and instruction to them or help them to not make mistakes because you actually made the same ones? Or did your experience of making mistakes make you wiser and better at the instruction necessary to be a good parent?

Of course, the same people who criticize you for criticizing are, themselves, far from perfect and are violating their own reasoning in doing so. If I’m not perfect and cannot criticize, then you, who are also not perfect, cannot criticize me for criticizing others. But that point seems lost on those who want no criticisms ….

However, it’s a very effective argument for many who believe it and for others who don’t want to be labeled a hypocrite. It’s hypocritical to say ‘do as I say, not as I do’ … It’s not hypocritical to say ‘do as I say because I’ve done what you’re doing and it’s bad.’

Some are making a point that my blog requests proper attribution for original work, but that I failed to do this in my article. They somehow conclude, as a result, that I am a hypocrite. I’m not, because I believe that attribution is proper and when I unintentionally neglected to follow my own standards, I apologized and resigned. Failing to provide attribution is wrong, even when I do it. That’s not hypocrisy – it’s sincerity.

Furthermore, the hypocrisy is not in saying something is wrong, it’s in saying it is wrong for some but okay for others. Hypocrisy is applying a standard to some people, but not others, especially when it fits your personal or political agenda. If something is wrong, it’s wrong – even when you are guilty of it yourself.

So what do we do when we find we’ve done something wrong? We correct it, try to make amends if possible, and then learn ways to not do the same thing again. As the composer John Powell said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

After leaving public office, I was asked by a reporter if I would change anything I had done. I said no. That certainly wasn’t because I didn’t regret certain decisions I made, or even wish that I’d made other ones along the way. I did. It was because I realize that any mistakes, errors of judgment, or decisions with negative outcomes enabled me to learn lessons that I obviously needed to learn. And while I may wish I didn’t have to learn such lessons, I am a wiser person today for having done so. And those lessons, and the knowledge I have gained, give me a unique perspective on the goings on in our government – perspectives that some don’t want you to know about.

There are a number of people in this area who want me to shut up and go away. They hope the continual rehashing of things in my past will frustrate me and tire me out to the point where I just say ‘that’s it – I’m done.’ And I must admit – it’s pretty tempting sometimes to do just that.

It’s very difficult to be in the public light, but seems especially so in Toledo. It takes an intestinal fortitude that many do not have – nor wish to develop. Many never enter public service because they are afraid (rightfully so) of having mistakes in their past played out on the front pages of the local newspaper – or discussed by anonymous bloggers on internet forums.

I’ve been there – done that. And I know that we need to continue taking a stand and pointing out bad policies and bad decisions in our community in spite of this, because if we don’t, the bad policies and decisions will continue and the proponents of those bad policies and decisions will continue to use this tactic to silence their detractors.

So I’m not going away. I’m a thorn in their sides and, considering the incredible amount of time they spend on me, I’m obviously effective.

I will endeavor to not make mistakes, but being human, I know there will be some.

And I will continue to share information as well as my thoughts and opinions. I implore you to do the same, regardless of your circumstances. Now is not the time to allow the imperfections in our pasts to prevent us from shaping our future.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kasich to formally announce run for governor?

This in via email:

As friends and allies I want you to be involved and aware of my plans, and I hope you can join me in the early evening of Monday, June 1st for a special announcement regarding my candidacy for elected office in Ohio. We are holding this outdoor event at the Everal Barn in my hometown of Westerville.

As you may know, earlier this month, I filed paperwork to designate a treasurer and form a campaign committee for the office of governor. At this event on June 1 I will formally announce my intentions, and it would mean a great deal to me personally if you were there.

If you can join us, please visit to print your tickets and get all the details you need.

Thank you,


WHERE: Everal Barn, Westerville, Ohio
WHEN: Monday, June 1, 2009. 5:30pm
INFO: Get more details and print your ticket at

Flag etiquette for Memorial Day

While many people display the U.S. Flag on a regular basis, some do so only on holidays and special days like Memorial Day, so I thought a little reminder of the etiquette for displaying our flag would be nice.

Most know that the flag is flown at half staff (it's only 'mast' on a watercraft) until noon and then raised to full-staff for the rest of the day. However, not everyone realizes that to fly a flag at half-staff you first raise it to the peak for a moment before lowering it to the half-way mark.

The Flag Code has no provisions for those of us with an angled flag pole jutting out from our house or porch and without an ability to place the flag at half staff. It is recommended that you affix a streamer of black crepe to the staff immediately below the spearhead of the U.S. flag. It should be no wider than 1 foot, but may be less wide to match the proportionality of the flag. It should be about 1-1/2 times the hoist of the fly (the shorter dimension; the height of the flag). It can be attached a with a bow-knot to the spearhead (top) of the pole, allowing the streamer to fall naturally. Alternately, you can affix black bow-knots, with or without streamers, placed at the fastening points.

Since we'll be attending many parades this weekend, remember to salute the flag as it it passes in procession by placing your hand over your heart, as you do when you pledge allegiance. Also remember that a salute is proper when raising and lowering the flag. The Flag Code says that a salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, which often accompanies the action, whichever is the longest.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Volunteers needed to help place flags on graves for Memorial Day

If you have some time in the mornings, our veteran organizations would appreciate anyone who wants to help place flags on the graves of our service men and women before Memorial Day.

Volunteer help is needed at Forest Cemetery on Stickney near Bancroft and Sherman. This help is needed Saturday May 23, 2009 starting at 9:00 a.m. There will be Members of American Legion Post 110, Point Place Post, to direct the volunteers.

Calvary Cemetery also needs help tomorrow. Calvary is located on Parkside Blvd and Dorr St., main entrance on Parkside. Volunteers can contact American Legion Post #642 at 419-381-9259. Also Catholic War Veterans Post Logsdon-Walla #639 will have some volunteers working the cemetery starting approximately 9:00 a.m. Friday May 22, 2009.

Toledo's Memorial Day Parade will be Saturday. Parade line up is at 9 a.m. and the ceremony at the monuments in Civic Center will begin after the parade at 11:30.

Sales tax versus property tax

TARTA is pushing for an additional amount to be added to our sales tax (.5%) as a method of funding to replace their property tax levy.

From a personal perspective, I understand the reasoning that many property owners will have on this: I'll save money because a sales tax will cost me less than the levy.

This is certainly true for me - I'd have to purchase over $41,000 of taxable items to equal the more than $200 per year I currently pay for the TARTA levy on my property tax bill. (Of course, a couple of major purchases like a car, major appliances, or home improvements could put me over that level.)

However, with the sales tax I'd lose the ability to periodically express my approval/disapproval of the service provided by voting for/against the levy.

And while I might save money going to a sales tax, others in my neighborhood who have smaller lots and homes wouldn't. In fact, I checked the amount the local ice cream store pays for the levy and they'd only have to have about $6,500 in taxable purchases to exceed what they're currently paying. When you're purchasing napkins, spoons, paper products, cleaning supplies, and other non-resale items, getting to that level isn't hard.

Renters will probably not see a reduction in their monthly payments if the landlord has a reduction in the property tax - but they will pay more for their purchases.

There are many other aspects of this issue, some generic in terms of which system of taxation is actually better (or has the least impact financially) and others are specific to TARTA.

I'll be talking about this on Eye On Toledo tonight and adding more blog posts as I refine my own position.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Credit card 'protections' versus bank bailouts

Maybe it's just me, but the federal government has done 'stress tests' of banks to see what kind of assets they need to have to remain viable. They've also bailed out many banks who were deemed 'too big to fail.'

Almost all banks offer credit cards on which they make a profit (if they didn't make a profit, they wouldn't be offering them). That profit comes from interest and fees that they impose, charging higher fees/interest to those with riskier credit - a common practice everywhere.

The federal government (because it's such an expert at living within its budget and ensuring enough income to cover its debt) tells banks they need to have more resources, assets and income.

But they also tell the banks that they're charging too much in fees and interests on their credit cards and that they need to change/reduce those charges. This will reduce and, in some cases, eliminate certain profits that the banks rely upon for profitability.

These two actions are in direct contradiction.

How does this make any sense?

Quotes of the Day

"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it." ~ Woodrow Wilson

"That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression." ~ Alabama Declaration of Rights Article I Section 35

"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution ... or have failed their purpose ... or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can." ~ Barry Goldwater

* quotes courtesy of

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Need for fire tax eliminated by savings from garage consolidation

Last week, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced that he was going to combine garage facilities and that the city would save $500,000 by doing so.

This was great news and very welcomed by residents, especially because these cost savings had not previously been identified in any of the proposals or ideas for addressing the city's budget deficit.

So here's my question. Since the city just came up with $500,000 in savings they didn't previously have, do we still need to impose fire department billing which they 'hoped' would generate $500,000????

According to Carty, his balanced budget contained $500,000 of new income from these fees, but did not include the garage consolidation. With the consolidation saving $500,000, there is obviously no need for new fees of $500,000.


It's a tax, no matter what Toledo City Council calls it

Today at the agenda meeting for Toledo City Council, they will again discuss Fire Department billing of citizens.

I've been listening to WSPD this morning and the comments that were made by Council President Mark Sobczak - and I can only wonder if he's actually read the ordinance.

The first thing he said is that this is a 'soft billing' only - they will bill the insurance companies and if they insurance company doesn't pay, nothing more will happen. Here's the text of the ordinance:

If it can be reliably determined that there is no insurance coverage for a particular emergency incident which causes the Toledo Fire Department to use, or incur loss, damage, and wear and tear to apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials; the City may recover any such fees from the person or entity that received said emergency services or the person or entity responsible for the debts and obligations of the person or entity that received such emergency services.

and this:

Recipients of the services of the Toledo Fire Department shall be invoiced directly under the terms of this ordinance if they do not carry insurance sufficient to cover the impact to the City of Toledo’s loss of capital or material.

Granted, it does say 'may' in one section and 'shall' in the other ... but if the city has no intention of billing individuals, the ordinance should clearly say so. In this case, it says that if your insurance isn't sufficient to cover the bill, recipients "shall be invoiced directly." That's not soft billing. And even if Council believes what they're saying about soft billing, we've had way too many instances in the past of such 'intentions' going by the wayside when the city wants more money.

Then there is the claim that since citizens have this coverage as part of their basic insurance policy, this won't really cost them anything. Do they not understand that the cost of fire insurance for all people/companies will go up over time if this is passed?

There is a cost for insurance, even if you never have a need, because actuarial tables which determine those costs are based upon many factors in your area or similar demographics. Either the members of council who believe this are completely and totally ignorant and shouldn't then be trusted with making such decisions on council, or they are intentionally distorting the issue in order to make it seem 'okay.'

Sobczak also says that the city needs more money. Well, so do I. Unlike the city, I don't have the ability to arbitrarily increase my income. And every time the city decides to impose such costs on me, I have to cut out something in order to be able to afford them because, unlike the city, I anticipate and plan for future costs I may have to pay.

Sobczak then throws in the gratuitous, but ever-popular, leftist misdirection by saying that those of us who actually read the ordinance are just trying to throw a bunch of misinformation out there because we've got an interest in protecting 'big insurance.'

Yeah - right.

I'm far more interested in protecting myself than I am my insurance company. And acting in my own self-interest, I've actually read the ordinance and found that it's going to cost me a lot of money - either through a direct billing if I have a need for such services or through increased insurance rates if the legislation is actually passed.

That Sobczak - and most of the other members of council - don't understand this is no surprise. They've never had to run a business or actually make a profit, so they do not comprehend of unintended consequences of such decisions. They also don't seem to understand that every policy and decision has a cost - and often, the cost is greater than the claimed 'benefit.'

In this case, the city may - I repeat - may realize $500,000 of revenue from this tax. But how much will they lose in the long term when citizens and businesses leave the area or avoid coming here because these 'costs of living' and tax structures/rates are so high? We know this is already occurring, considering the decline in Toledo's population and the consistently high unemployment rates (higher than other urban areas in the state for the last 20 years or so) ... which is part of what put the city in the mess in the first place. How much worse will the financial situation get and will the further erosion of the tax base be more detrimental than the $500,000 they hope to raise? Undoubtedly.

Councilman Joe McNamara, in several emails to constituents, has said that the city's income isn't what it used to be and there is 12% unemployment and loss of population. So, he reasons (though not logically) the city needs to tax the people who are still here, even though he just stated that many of those people have lost their jobs. Can you say 'stuck on stupid'?

And while City Council is considering raising this tax on people, they are NOT moving forward with the privatization of garbage collection. Despite having an arbitration decision earlier this month stating that it will NOT violate the city's contract with Teamsters Local 20 if the city subcontracts for garbage collection, no ordinance to do so has yet been submitted to members of council, despite the claimed $3 million of savings each year. But Council did vote to expend over $9 million to purchase new cans for everyone (which they will somehow bill us for in the future - the cost and the interest, that is) despite not knowing how, exactly, they would pay for the cans.

And just last week Mayor Carty Finkbeiner found that the city could save another $500,000 by combining city garages. This was a new idea to save money and it was welcomed by the citizens, though it raised a serious question. The Mayor and City Council have previously said they've cut everywhere they possibly can and there are no other areas of savings in the city. Then they announce this 'savings,' completely destroying any credibility these politicians had left when it comes to Toledo's budget.

So if the city can come up with this new cost savings plan - and I'm glad they did - what else might they be able to do that they haven't yet 'discovered'? And why aren't they all going over the city with a fine-toothed comb before considering increased taxation on the citizens? Well, that's the question of the day.

Then there is the side issue of just how callous the city is being in sending a bill for engines, gloves, boots and 'do not cross tape' to people who have just lost everything they have in a fire. Aren't these Democrat members of Council supposed to be the party of compassion?

The fire tax failed last time by a vote of 6-4. It is scheduled for either first reading or a vote on May 26th. District 6 Councilwoman Lindsay Webb asked for a public hearing on the matter the last time it was up for consideration, but didn't have the support of her fellow members of council.

You need to act - or we'll all be faced with more government taxation.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner: 419-245-1001

Toledo City Council: 419-245-1050

And if you don't live in Toledo, this still impacts you. This billing is for any person or entity that receives services, including people who are travelling through the city, so those of you who come into our fair city have every right to express you opinion, too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another U.S.-funded sex and drinking study - this time in China

Earlier in the month, I blogged about U.S. taxpayers funding drinking studies in Argentina.

Turns out, China is getting some of our money as well. In fact, they're getting $2.6 Million to Train Chinese Prostitutes to Drink Responsibly on the Job.

No - I'm not making this up.

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will pay $2.6 million in U.S. tax dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job.

Dr. Xiaoming Li, the researcher conducting the program, is director of the Prevention Research Center at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

The grant, made last November, refers to prostitutes as "female sex workers"--or FSW--and their handlers as "gatekeepers."

"Previous studies in Asia and Africa and our own data from FSWs [female sex workers] in China suggest that the social norms and institutional policy within commercial sex venues as well as agents overseeing the FSWs (i.e., the 'gatekeepers', defined as persons who manage the establishments and/or sex workers) are potentially of great importance in influencing alcohol use and sexual behavior among establishment-based FSWs," says the NIH grant abstract submitted by Dr. Li.

"Therefore, in this application, we propose to develop, implement, and evaluate a venue-based alcohol use and HIV risk reduction intervention focusing on both environmental and individual factors among venue-based FSWs in China," says the abstract.

The research will take place in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi.

Of course, the fact that the study will take place in Beihai, a costal tourist city in Guangxi, is only a coincidence.

Beihai is a beautiful and romantic city boasting subtropical seaside scenery.

Facing the Beibu Gulf, the climate in Beihai is very pleasant: sufficient sunlight, abundant rainfall, luxuriant plants, green grass and beautiful flowers flourish in its fresh air.

Many people, both home and abroad, choose to live in Beihai, as it is regarded as one of China's four most liveable cities. (Zhuhai, Beihai, Weihai, and Xiamen)

Dining in Beihai is attractive and provides many types of cuisine within close proximity Guangdong, Shandong, Hunan, Sichuan and Zhejiang Cuisines are readily available. Of course there are also many restaurants serving western-style food. Seafood is popular in Beihai due to its proximity to the seafood market situated on its shoreline. Fish, shrimp, shellfish and crab are readily available. The blowing sea breeze adds to the fun of eating seafood.

As a beautiful garden seaside city in the south of China, it is no exaggeration to say Beihai is a present given by Mother Nature. It is welcoming to all tourists from home and abroad.

So why, you might ask, aren't these researchers conducting said study in America?

Li said his study is being done in China rather than the U.S. because prostitution occurs with alcohol use in the United States like it does in China, Americans will be able to benefit from the project’s findings.

“We want to get some understanding of the fundamental role of alcohol use and HIV risk,” he said. “We use the population in China as our targeted population to look at the basic issues. I think the findings will benefit the American people, too.”

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Personally, I'm opposed to government funding such studies in the first place, but if they're going to do so, can they please actually do them in the U.S. if the problem is present here, rather than fund extended vacations for researchers in exotic locales?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blade bias - #9 and why Stainbrook is wrong, again

Today's paper has an article about a new group of candidates for Toledo City Council, running together as a coalition under the name of Teamwork Toledo.

Strangely, the article is less about the new group of candidates than it is about outrageous claims from Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook about how this group came together, trying to imply that WSPD is somehow behind everything.

It's sad that Stainbrook is criticizing these individuals as pawns of a radio station rather than praising them for taking the initiative to run for office and offering themselves and their philosophies as a solution to the problems we face in this city.

Republicans should be questioning why Stainbrook isn't actively recruiting them to run as Republicans since they are all fiscally conservative. In fact, GOP faithful in Toledo should demand to know why Stainbrook failed to return a call from one of these candidates who wanted to discuss an endorsement, as detailed in a phone call this morning to WSPD.

So far, the LCRP has announced NO city council candidates for this year. One can only wonder if Stainbrook's criticism of these people is to mask his own failures as a chairman, whose primary duties are to raise money and field candidates.

"There was a meeting with [WSPD reporter] Kevin Milliken and other Clear Channel employees and they were discussing the formation of this other political party," Mr. Stainbrook said.

Where is the investigation by The Blade of the veracity of this claim? Did the reporter ask Stainbrook how he 'knew' this was true?? And if he did, what was the response and why isn't it printed?

Mr. Milliken did not deny some involvement with Teamwork Toledo, but said he would make his involvement clear in a news conference set for this afternoon, his last day with WSPD.

He denied as "patently false" that he was involved in a meeting at the radio station about Teamwork Toledo.

So if the claim is patently false, why did this become part of the story? Tricia Lyons, the Tax Day Tea Party organizer and one of the new candidates, also called in to WSPD this morning to say that Stainbrook was "lying" about the group's involvement with the radio station. She said the only time she's been to the station was when she was at the Fort Industry Square studio to be interviewed by Brian Wilson when she announced her run for council.

John Adams, Jr., also in a radio call, said that if there was some meeting with anyone from WSPD he wasn't invited (and then he laughed), and he is one of the named Teamwork Toledo candidates.

With all this evidence that Stainbrook's claims are false, why is he given any credence at all and why did his claims become the focus of the story? One can only wonder, especially considering Stainbrook's history of failing to file the proper forms to put Jan Scotland on the ballot for County Commissioner, secretly recording conversations and releasing portions to The Blade, failing to recruit candidates, trying to make the Tax Day Tea Party look like a GOP event he arranged, missing their campaign finance filing deadline, and not raising any money. He has developed a reputation as a liar and a documented history of playing fast and loose with the facts, yet The Blade, reporter Tom Troy and the City Editor, Kim Bates (whose parents are Judge Jim Bates and Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates) see no problem with using his false information as a basis for a news story.

Could this be part of the reason why The Blade's circulation numbers are falling?

But it doesn't stop there. Stainbrook then attacks me, trying to make the claim that I am somehow behind all this, which also is patently FALSE.

Tom Troy did call me about this story, but failed to tell me that Stainbrook had made specific allegations about my alleged involvement. Troy only said 'we're hearing some rumors that you're working with these candidates.' Why would the reporter withhold this information and intentionally conceal Stainbrook's involvement?

For the record - as I told Troy - I am not involved in any way with these candidates and, because of my role at WSPD would not be part of their campaigns because I will have to cover them on air.

Troy asked if I helped with the Tea Party and I told him my only role in that was to help Tricia with information about where to go to get a permit for the event. Tricia asked for my help with finding the park rental forms on the internet and with what city offices she needed to go to in order to use International Park. I told Troy that was my only involvement and that I did not help in any of the organizing. Of course, that's also 'mis-reported':

Ms. Thurber, a former Republican Lucas County commissioner, a columnist for The Toledo Free Press, a free weekly publication, and a show host for WSPD, said she helped Ms. Lyons with organizing the Tea Party, but has not been involved in her foray into politics. (emphasis added)

The Blade makes some other false statements about me which resulted in a phone call at 8:15 a.m. to the editor demanding a correction. We'll see how long it takes for them to get their facts right.

Considering the animosity between WSPD and The Blade, it's no surprise that they include this:

Political action would not be new to WSPD personnel, some of whom are active in Take Back Toledo, the group seeking to force Mayor Finkbeiner out of office with a few months left in his term.

Of course, political action is not new to The Blade either as their bias with candidates is clearly evident in their news coverage, or in what they decide NOT to print, as The Newsmeister documents. And I must point out that the political involvement of talk show hosts is much different than the not-so-subtle biases shown in the news portion of The Blade.

Just to show how manipulated this Blade story is, check out the Toledo Free Press story about these candidates. Or The Blade's coverage of the announcements by these candidates: Stephen Ward, Terry Biel. Or the January 14th article (archived) in which Toledo School Board president Steve Steel's candidacy is announced.

This story is all about trying to get their readers to think that some nefarious source is behind the candidates - and to discredit them before they've even begun their campaigns. So the question you should be asking yourself is why Stainbrook and The Blade would think it important to do this?

Control? Influence? Spite? The last thing The Blade wants is to have a bunch of city council members who are responsible first and foremost to the public, rather than a party or a newspaper publisher. If these candidates have no allegiance or 'debt' to the paper or the party, they cannot be controlled and might - heaven forbid - make decisions other than what the manipulators want.

Stainbrook, finding that serving as chairman is much harder than running for the position, has no money and nothing in terms of experience and support to offer these candidates. He's also failed to present even one person for a GOP endorsement for council. It's a direct slap in his face that the Republicans in this group would rather run as Independents.

So what to do? Make false claims to The Blade (with whom he is intricately tied and who supported his bid for GOP Chairman), be sure to tie in that evil Tom Noe and count on the paper's support to attempt to discredit good people who just want Toledo to be a better place.

Having watched this kind of coverage for years - both inside and outside the political realm - I believe the single most destructive force in this area is the agenda of The Blade and it's manipulation of news, politics and politicians as well as their well-documented ability to intimidate people, community leaders and businesses.

And they wonder why people are fleeing Toledo?

Toledo to begin 32-hour work week

This in via email from the mayor's office:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Exempt Employees Begin 32-Hour Workweek Tomorrow

Beginning tomorrow (Friday, May 15), all exempt employees will begin working a 32-hour workweek. The Mayor's Office will now be open from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Friday. All other departments will operate at normal business hours, ensuring that City services will continue uninterrupted. Each department director has arranged a work schedule that allows employees to work reduced hours or take a full unpaid day off during the week. This reduced workweek begins tomorrow, as it is the beginning of a new payroll period.

So here's my question: If all other departments can have staggered hours of staff to cover the 'normal business hours,' why can't the mayor's office? It would seem, especially in these difficult economic times, that the need to have someone in the mayor's office at the same time all other city departments are open is critical.

Or, if the mayor's office can get away with working a half day on Friday, why not all other offices?

As George Orwell wrote in "1984": All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fire Department billing back on the agenda

Despite having been voted down the last time, the plan to bill for fire department responses has turned up again - just like a bad penny.

Here is the text of the ordinance, including the billing amounts:


Establishing and implementing a program to charge the cost of fire service fees within the response area of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department; and declaring an emergency.

The Toledo Fire & Rescue Department (TFRD) provides fire suppression, emergency, and rescue services in and around the City of Toledo. The TFRD is equipped with and utilizes certain apparatus, emergency tools, equipment, and materials as a means of saving lives and property. Furthermore, the purchase of said tools, equipment, and materials is a significant expense for the City of Toledo.

The persons or entities requiring emergency services in the City of Toledo, and for whom the referenced apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials have been utilized have resources including insurance coverage that will reimburse the costs associated with the use, loss, damage and wear and tear to said tools, equipment, and materials incurred in connection with the act of rendering emergency services to said persons or entities.

The Toledo City Council deems the establishment and implementation of fire service fees for the City of Toledo is in the best benefit of the citizens of the City of Toledo through which beneficiaries of fire services are required to pay a fair and reasonable share of the cost of loss and wear and tear to apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials used, so that a safe and appropriate level of service can be maintained and made available to the City. NOW, THEREFORE,

Be it ordained by the Council of the City of Toledo:

SECTION 1. The City shall have the authority to establish and implement a program of fire service fees and bill both persons and entities for the reasonable costs that are related to the use, loss, damage, and wear and tear to said apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials necessary to provide the fire services and 911 response rendered to said persons and entities, subject to the conditions and limitations of this ordinance.

SECTION 2. The Mayor, Director of Finance and the Director of the Department of Fire & Rescue may make rules or regulations, and from time-to-time may amend, revoke or add rules and regulations, not consistent with this Section as they may deem necessary or expedient in respect to billing for these fees or the collection thereof. Any rules, regulations, amendments and addition to such rules shall be available for public inspection at each fire station and shall be filed with the Clerk of Council.

SECTION 3. The following fees may be assessed and collected for usage of apparatus, equipment and materials:
Apparatus / Price per Hour**
Engine - Class A $500.00
Aerial $750.00
Tanker/Tender $500.00
Rescue (Light)-Brush Truck $425.00
Rescue (Heavy) - SERT/TRT $600.00
Batt. Chief / Shift Commander $200.00
other Chief Officer $75.00
Support Unit*** $250.00
** The minimum usage charge for any item in this list is one hour, and for any additional hours or portions thereof, the charge will be prorated using 1/4 hour increments.
*** Support Units include but are not limited to Mobile Command Posts, air trailers, Light Trailers, Generator Trucks and Rehab Units.

(charts of other fees)

SECTION 4. The City is authorized if it so deems necessary the establishment of a third-party billing and revenue recovery contract with a professional services company, hereinafter referred to as an “authorized agent”, qualified to bill and recover the uniform charges and with established valid reputation in recovering such charges.

SECTION 5. Fees shall be recovered by the authorized agent for services provided by the fire departments authorized to operate within the City of Toledo. Fire department administrations shall utilize applicable incident report information provided to the authorized agent as the basis for the charge and recovery of Fire Service Fees for each incident the City authorizes.

SECTION 6. The City, or their authorized agent, subject to the conditions and limitations of this ordinance, shall submit an invoice to the person, entity or relevant insurance company covering the particular loss for the emergency services rendered. If it can be reliably determined that there is no insurance coverage for a particular emergency incident which causes the Toledo Fire Department to use, or incur loss, damage, and wear and tear to apparatus, tools, equipment, and materials; the City may recover any such fees from the person or entity that received said emergency services or the person or entity responsible for the debts and obligations of the person or entity that received such emergency services. Recipients of the services of the Toledo Fire Department shall respond freely and cooperatively to fire service inquiries (including those of their authorized agent), regarding their insurance coverage. Recipients of the services of the Toledo Fire Department shall be invoiced directly under the terms of this ordinance if they do not carry insurance sufficient to cover the impact to the City of Toledo’s loss of capital or material.

SECTION 7. All amounts collected as a result of this Ordinance shall be placed into the General Fund of the City of Toledo into an account deemed appropriate by the Finance Director of the City of Toledo.

SECTION 8. It is found and determined that all formal actions of this City Council concerning and relating to the passage of this Ordinance were passed in open meetings of this City Council, and that all deliberations of this City Council and any of its committees that resulted in such formal actions were in compliance with all legal requirements, the Ohio Revised Code and the Toledo Municipal Code.

SECTION 9. That this Ordinance hereby is declared to be an emergency measure and shall be in force and effect from and after its passage. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that this Ordinance must be immediately effective in order to maintain a high level of quality emergency services by the Fire Department.

Call your city council members (419-245-1050) or send them an email ... They work for you!

Blade bias - #8 - UPDATED

UPDATED: Fellow Ohio Blogger Tom Blumer has a post about this on Newsbusters, which includes a response from the reporter the last time The Blade had a problem with identifying party affiliation.

Original post:

The Toledo Free Press is reporting the declining circulation numbers of the Toledo Blade. I cannot help but wonder if their obvious bias is part of their problem.

In this story about the indictment of an aide to former Democrat Attorney General Marc Dann, they fail to mention the Democratic Party affiliation...but they seem to think the party affiliation of the prosecuting attorney is relevant.

"COLUMBUS - Anthony Gutierrez, the man at the center of a sexual harassment scandal that helped drive former Attorney General Marc Dann from office, faces theft and fraud charges for allegedly using his ties with his long-time friend to benefit himself financially.

Franklin Country (sic) Prosecutor Ron O'Brien Thursday announced a 10-count indictment -- six felonies and four first-degree misdemeanors -- against Mr. Gutierrez one year to the day after Mr. Dann left office just 16 months into his term.
Mr. O'Brien, a Republican, said the timing was not scheduled to coincide with the anniversary."

The first - and only mention - of the political affiliation of the disgraced Dann is this sentence - in the very last paragraph of the story - that really doesn't call him a Democrat:

"Mr. Dann resigned last year under pressure from Republicans and fellow Democrats alike in the wake of the harassment scandal."

They never identify Gutierrez as a Democrat.

So why is the political affiliation of the county prosecutor relevant or even needed in the story? And why would you mention that in the second paragraph yet never mention the political party of the indicted individual? Further, why would you wait until the 13th and final paragraph to only 'imply' the political party of Dann?

Bias is the only answer. And it's rampant when it comes to these types of stories in The Blade.

Democracy or tyranny?

"The government of the absolute majority is but the government of the strongest interests; and when not effectively checked, is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised... [To read the Constitution is to realize that] no free system was ever farther removed from he principle that the absolute majority, without check or limitation, ought to govern." ~ John C. Calhoun

Lately I've been hearing all kinds of arguments about majority votes being the 'will of the people' and, therefore, justification for all types of actions that appear contrary to what our founders intended.

Primarily, these discussions are over such issues as tax levies or other taxation for which the public gets a vote. The concept being that if a majority vote to take away part of your income for something, then it must be okay because a vote was held and the majority ruled.

However, such discussions fail to ask a fundamental question, which is whether or not a vote should even be held.

You've heard the adage that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner? A republic is when the sheep has a gun... The fear of our founders was that a majority can impose its will on the minority, leading to tyranny by those in power/control.

Over time, the idea of majority rule has turned into tyranny - especially when the majority can decide that your property (money earned) gets to be taken forcibly from you in order to fund things that the majority want. This is especially true when it comes to certain property taxes for items like zoos or science museums.

These issues get on the ballot and then the majority gets to decide if everyone is going to pay for them - whether or not they're ever used. This is especially onerous when most people who pay for these items through their taxes are not able to take advantage of the limited 'free admission' times and end up paying a second time whenever they want to visit these publicly-funded institutions.

One of the reasons given for supporting such items is because they enhance the community. That may be true, to some people. Others will be of the opinion that they enhance the community so long as they are self-supporting. But then comes the argument that if the 'public' doesn't support them, they won't be able to provide access at reduced rates for people who are too poor to afford them on their own.

This is where the Marxist perspective comes into play: from each according to their means to each according to their needs. If the 'poor' cannot afford these things on their own, then those with money must have their money taken away from them to subsidize these ventures so that the poor can benefit from them as well. This is certainly not what our founders intended.

But, Maggie, don't we have an obligation to help the poor? Didn't our Christian-influenced founders support the idea that we need to help those less fortunate than us?

Of course - but that requirement of the Christian faith (and many others) is a personal one. It is incumbent upon each of us as individuals to do this - not the government. In fact, many teach that it's an abdication of your responsibility if you turn over your obligation to the government. And certainly, no religion teaches that you must force others to abide by your beliefs - or that charity that is mandated through laws or other means is really 'charity.'

But somehow, it has become accepted thinking that a majority gets to decide the confiscation of private property for a purported 'public' means and that those who object to such confiscation are morally bad because they don't want to 'help' those who will benefit from such confiscation.

In my ideal world, such funding votes would have different rules than they do now. If an item was on the ballot for funding, people voting 'yes' would be agreeing to split the needed amount of funding among themselves, while those voting 'no' would not be charged. This way, the vote is not to forcibly confiscate funds from everyone, but only to determine who is agreeing to let the government facilitate their 'donations' to a particular entity.

Of course, under such a rule, I doubt that we'd see so many levies and tax issues appear on the ballot because such a system is just a different method of fundraising - and if the entity was successful at fundraising (either through donations or fees charged) they wouldn't have a need for a levy or tax. Additionally, entities wouldn't be able to rely upon a very small number to support their confiscation of funds from everyone, especially when you consider that they only need a majority of people who actually come out to vote, which rarely reaches 50% eligible voters these days.

Sadly, I don't see the system changing any time soon - if ever. It's too easy to convince a minority that they can benefit at the expense of others, and make them feel okay about doing so by calling it 'democracy.'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Toledoans to get first view of new garbage can sizes

This in via email:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

City of Toledo Unveils New Refuse/Recycling Carts

The City of Toledo Division of Solid Waste has partnered with local businesses to assist citizens in selecting the appropriate sized carts for the forthcoming automated refuse and recycling collection. Grey carts will be used for refuse collection, and blue carts for recycling. The carts will be available for viewing from Thursday, May 14 through Monday, June 8.

Citizens are requested to visit one of the following locations to view the cart sizes (96 gallon, 64 gallon or 48 gallon) and make their selection:

· The Andersons (Monroe & Talmadge)
· The Toledo Food Center located at 303 Main Street
· Sunoco Foodmart - 4810 Suder Avenue
· Walmart - 2925 Glendale
· Save A Lot - 3030 Monroe in Swayne Field

The City of Toledo recommends selecting both containers in the 96 gallon size provide the most capacity for refuse and recyclable materials. However, citizens who believe handling or storing the cart will present a problem are urged to visit one of the above locations to select a smaller size. Citizens who do not select a cart size within the viewing time frame will be assigned the default 96 gallon cart. Those unable to visit one of the viewing locations will be able to make their selection online at the City of Toledo's Website ( Citizens who do not wish to participate in the City's recycling program are urged to contact the Division of Solid Waste to ensure no recycling cart is delivered to their home.

No word on what happens to the cans that those of us in the pilot areas still have....

Encouraging signs from America's campuses

Quite often I look around and get rather discouraged at what I see happening with our young people. Teaching them moral relativism to the 'superiority' of Marxism while neglecting the basic principles upon which this nation was founded is creating a generation that is more interested in their feelings than in facts, reason, logic or even thinking.

But then I come across something that makes me think all is not lost.

Ashley Herzog has two columns that show reason is not yet dead on America's campuses. In Socialism, College Style, she takes a look at applying the socialist 'spread-the-wealth' concept to grades...much to the surprise of students who willingly embrace the idea when it comes to money but reject it when it actually applies to them and their grades.

She follows up with Part II, applying the concept to the way professors run their classrooms - exposing the hypocrisy of what is taught versus what is practiced.

Then there is Dr. Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who seems to be the lone conservative voice crying in the wilderness of political correctness and socialism in our university systems. His most recent column, however, is what gives me encouragement.

In Revolt in East Lansing, he writes about a group of Michigan State University instructors who have formed The Conservative Faculty and Staff at MSU to "protect and defend the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence here at Michigan State University."

That college professors are beginning to speak out for their ideals and for the free exchange of ideas and concepts in what is supposed to be an open forum and 'safe' place to do so, is just fantastic. I, like Dr. Adams, hope this idea catches like wildfire and spreads to all American campuses.

Maybe it's not so discouraging after all....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Toledo consolidating garages to save money

This press release was sent via email:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

City of Toledo Garage Consolidation Will Save Taxpayers Half-A-Million Dollars

Today Mayor Finkbeiner announced that effective June 5, The City of Toledo Division of Facility and Fleet will consolidate its three Fleet Operations service garages - a move which will annually save Toledo taxpayers approximately $500,000.

Spielbush Garage (1915 Spielbush) will be closed, remaining open only for gas dispensing. All service will be moved to Imlay Garage (3917 Imlay St.), where all Police and Fire safety equipment will be serviced and maintained.

This restructuring will drastically reduce overtime - and save an estimated $500,000 -- by implementing three working shifts, which will give the City of Toledo 24/7 service without emergency overtime costs.

Mayor Finkbeiner released the following statement: "These economically challenging times force us to find new, innovative ways to provide service to our citizen, while reducing costs. This consolidation of our service garages will practically eliminate emergency overtime in Fleet Operations, while improving service to our citizens."

I'm glad they're doing this - I just wonder what took them so long.

And if they're doing this now, it's painfully evident that months ago when they said they'd done everything they could to cut costs, they weren't being exactly truthful.

On the plus side, these savings have not previously been identified in any press release as costs to be eliminated, so this change should directly impact the deficit.

Should 'double dippers' be paid less?

Over the weekend, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced that he was going to reduce the wages of employees who are 'double dippers' by 40%.

In case you've never seen this term before, it refers to public employees who have retired from prior positions and are collecting pensions from their prior employer, but have been hired by a public employer and are getting standard wages.

I am absolutely opposed to elected officials who do this - and we have several in the Toledo region. They ran unopposed, retired from their office, usually for the months of November and December, began collecting their public pensions and then took office again for their new term on January 1. They are then collecting their pensions and their public salaries.

Employees of government jurisdictions are different. Many have worked outside of the public area, though some have worked in government, and have retired. They have then applied for and been appointed to work in government, often in another jurisdiction or in different positions. They earned their pensions from their prior employers and they have decided to continue working.

The perspective from our mayor and from many people is that because these people have other income, they are somehow not worthy or deserving of the same pay as anyone else who might be appointed to that position.

And I don't think this is right.

If you have set a salary for a position, commensurate with experience and skills needed to perform the described tasks of the position, you should pay the person selected that set amount. Whether or not the individual has a pension should never be a consideration.

If we begin down the road of setting salaries based upon the other income of an individual, we have stopped compensating 'fairly' and have, instead, decided to compensate based upon the perceived wealth of the individual.

Would the people clamoring for 'double dippers' to get paid less also advocate for someone with an inheritance to be paid less? After all, they don't really need the full salary since they already have other income/assets. And it's the same argument.

There's a third category of people that often get lumped into the 'double dipper' category: individuals who've worked their entire lives, retired and then sought elective office. These are usually people who didn't have the ability to seek office while working full time and, now that they're retired, can do so. It would seem that, rather than attacking such seasoned individuals for wanting to be paid for the work they do, we would welcome their experience in elective office.

It's easy to find a group of people to attack as 'double dippers' and use then use that name as an excuse to pay them less than others in the same position. But it's promoting class warfare to say that simply because a person has other income or wealth, they should be paid less. This puts government into the position of making a determination of what you need, rather than what you deserve. And that's a very slippery slope, indeed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~ Rajneesh

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~ Honoré de Balzac

A mom forgives us all our faults, not to mention one or two we don't even have. ~ Robert Brault

Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. ~ Erich Fromm

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~ Washington Irving

The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated. ~ Washington Irving

I cannot forget my mother. [S]he is my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely. ~ Renita Weems

The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks. ~ Carrie Latet

My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~ Graycie Harmon

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The facts behind the process of issuing a subpoena - or why it's all the city's fault

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion over officers not showing up in court and cases being dismissed as a result.

Here are some things people need to know about the process.

Quite some time ago, in order to help cut down on the overtime costs of police officers appearing in court, a new subpoena process was created for the Toledo Municipal Court and the Toledo Police Department to utilize. It was a 'paperless' system, in many ways, and worked quite well.

Of course, it assumes that the police officers needed to testify in court are actually still employed by the city and getting their notifications via the police department.

If a laid-off officer is needed for a court case, it is highly likely they would not get the notification of their subpoena through this process because they're no longer employed. That should have been evident to the prosecutors, who are responsible for issuing the subpoena, who then should have filed the proper paperwork with the Clerk of Court which would have resulted in a new subpoena be issued to the officer at their home address. This is the process for issuing a subpoena to any other citizen and the one that could have been followed for the laid-off officers who are now civilians.

Had a laid-off officer gotten such a subpoena and then failed to appear in court, the court could have, and should have, held them in contempt for failure to appear.

But if the laid-officer did not get such a subpoena and no longer had access to the internal system of notification within the TPD, that officer cannot be held accountable for a failure to appear.

Nor can a judge be held accountable for dismissing a case as a result of such non-appearance. Courts have time constraints to processing cases under federal and state laws, as well as the Rules of Superintendence which govern how Ohio courts operate. If a prosecutor finds himself without a key witness due to the lack of planning on behalf of the city that failed to address the inevitable notification issues, he can ask for a continuance. The first question a judge will ask in response to such a request is: "Until when?"

Of course, a prosecutor will not have an answer for that, so that leaves the prosecutor without a firm date for ensuring the witness's appearance and the defense attorney asking for a dismissal due to a lack of prosecution. A judge will then be faced with little or no ability to do anything but grant the motion for dismissal.

It is not the judge's fault for following the law, nor the defense attorney's fault for doing what is in the best interest of the client. It is, however, the fault of the prosecutor for not making sure that the proper subpoenas for their witnesses are issued.

And the prosecutors work for the city of Toledo, specifically, for the Law Director, then the Safety Director, then the Mayor.

In the end, it's the city's fault that cases are dismissed because officers did not appear. The prosecutors should just issue a regular subpoena and let the now-civilian witnesses show up like everyone else who gets a subpoena, but that would require some advanced planning and thinking about the consequences of decisions that have been made - something the city isn't very good at.

I'd rather have a police officer

The City of Toledo issued the following press release:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Division of Recreation Sponsors Pitch, Hit & Run Competition

On Saturday, May 9 at Bennett Park (Bennett & Laskey), the City of Toledo Division of Recreation will sponsor Aquafina's Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run youth baseball competition. Beginning at 1 p.m., this national competition -- open to boys and girls ages 14 and under -- gives young athletes the chance to showcase their pitching, hitting, and running abilities. All participants will have a chance to win a trip to the 2009 All-Star Game and be part of the Pitch, Hit & Run national competition. Pre-registration is available at Freedom Enterprises Sports Cards & Collectibles (444 W. Laskey Road, Unit O) from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. or at the City of Toledo Athletic Office (2201 Ottawa Parkway) from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Onsite registration is also available. Proof of age and parental release must be completed prior to competition. No cleats are permitted.

For more information, contact Sherrie Shipman in the Division of Recreation at 419-936-2700.

Despite claims that the city had cut everything they possible could out of the budget, there is still funding for this type of 'recreation.' Even if the major costs of this competition are being covered by donations from private entities, city of Toledo resources and staff are being utilized for the program.

But we laid off police officers!

Can you say 'stuck on stupid'?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Quote of the Day

As Toledoans consider the charter amendment to change the number and composition of city council - as well as debate the merits of a city manager versus strong mayor form of government - here is a quote to keep in mind:

"[I]t is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand....The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty." ~ John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams, 21 June 1776

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Oh to have council members like this

Erick Erickson is a friend of mine. We met at the Sam Adams Alliance Samsphere conference and hit it off - especially with our backgrounds in elective service.

His efforts to focus on conservative principles while serving on the Macon City Council are well-known to many, but not all. His creative way of exposing ridiculousness in leftist issues makes many of us smile.

As an example, there is this story of a recent resolution to make President Barack Obama an honorary member of the Macon city council. Erick approached it with facts and a bit of humor - and was successful in getting the measure tabled.

I only wish we had such aplomb in Toledo.

Quote of the Day

"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands." ~ Judge Learned Hand (1872-1961), Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals

On the campaign trail #1

* In response to comments made by mayoral candidate and Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner issued the following statement:

"Candidates for public office should never use human tragedy to further their political ambitions or agendas. Mr. Konop should be ashamed of himself."

Of course, never one to take his own advice, Finkbeiner did exactly that when he announced the suicide of a 'very good friend' in a Toledo park. He was trying to make a point about safety even during layoffs of police officers, saying that the mother of the man did not blame the suicide on a lack of police officers to patrol the park. Of course, the tragedy occurred in Maumee, not Toledo, but Carty should be 'ashamed of himself for using human tragedy to further his political ambition and agenda.'

* There's more evidence of bias from The Blade when it comes to headlines in the mayoral race. As I've previously documented, the lack of the candidate's name in the headline is a subtle bias designed to impact name ID and recognition. Here are the latest headlines and word counts for the most recent press conferences:

Konop sees savings in city-county office merger - 289 words (candidate Ben Konop, Democrat)

Bell says city needs business advocate
Mayoral candidate wants to cut red tape, rules - 294 words (candidate Mike Bell, Democrat running as an Independent)

Wilkowski criticizes city for $2.5M paid in severance - 523 words (candidate Keith Wilkowski, Democrat)

Toledo mayoral candidate focuses on livability - 270 words (candidate Jim Moody, Republican)

All stories included photos of the candidates, with photos of Moody, Bell and Konop being upper body shots of them talking and gesturing with their hands. Wilkowski's photo is a head shot with a dark background, so it looks portrait-like. And Wilkowski is smiling.

* I've not covered the city council races yet. It seems like every day there is a new candidate announcing their run for one of the seats. After the petitions are in and certified, I'll cover the candidates who will be on the ballot.

I'm encouraged at how many people are actually pulling petitions and think we may set a record for the number of contenders. I'm not surprised, though, by the number who want to run as an independent. I think the number of candidates indicates that people are not only tired of the current decisions being made by the people who hold those offices, but also tired of the same old party politics that have given us these incumbents.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

City using restricted funds to cover everyday expenses

An article in today's paper says the city of Toledo "has been using money from restricted water, sewer, and other accounts to pay police and fire salaries and general fund bills to stay afloat during its current financial crisis," and that Mayor Carty Finkbeiner acknowledged this fact Tuesday.

This is illegal.

Here's what the Ohio Revised Code has to say about such funds (emphasis added):

743.06 Proceeds from water works to be a separate fund.
Money collected for water-works purposes shall be deposited weekly with the treasurer of the municipal corporation, and shall be kept as a separate and distinct fund. When appropriated by the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, such money shall be subject to the order of the director of public service. The director shall sign all orders drawn on the treasurer of the municipal corporation against such fund.

743.05 Disposition of surplus funds.
After payment of the expenses of conducting and managing the water works, any surplus of a municipal corporation may be applied to the repairs, enlargement, or extension of the works or of the reservoirs, the payment of the interest of any loan made for their construction, or for the creation of a sinking fund for the liquidation of the debt. In those municipal corporations in which water works and sewerage systems are conducted as a single unit, under one operating management, a sum not to exceed ten per cent of the gross revenue of the water works for the preceding year may be taken from any surplus remaining after all of the preceding purposes have been cared for and may be used for the payment of the cost of maintenance, operation, and repair of the sewerage system and sewage pumping, treatment, and disposal works and for the enlargement or replacement thereof. Each year a sum equal to five per cent of the gross revenue of the preceding year shall be first retained from paid surplus as a reserve for waterworks purposes.

The amount authorized to be levied and assessed for waterworks purposes shall be applied by the legislative authority to the creation of the sinking find for payment of any indebtedness incurred for the construction and extension of water works and for no other purposes; provided, where such municipal corporation does not operate or maintain a water works or a sewage pumping, treatment, and disposal works, any or all such surplus may be transferred to the general fund of the municipal corporation in the manner provided for in sections 5705.15 and 5705.16 of the Revised Code.

743.08 Investigation by legislative authority.
The legislative authority of a municipal corporation in which water works are situated or are in the process of construction may appoint a committee for the investigation of all books and papers, and all matters pertaining to the management of the water works, at least once a year, and more often, if necessary by reason of the neglect of duty or malfeasance on the part of any officer of such water works. Any such officer found by the committee to be so offending shall be liable to removal from office by the legislative authority.

Let the fireworks begin!

Quotes of the Day

"One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence." ~ Charles A. Beard

"The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information." ~ Justice William O. Douglas

"I spent three years getting my law degree at Yale Law School. From the moment I enrolled, I was assigned huge, leather-bound editions of legal cases to study and discuss. I read what lawyers and judges, professors and historians said about the Constitution. But never once was I assigned the task of reading the Constitution itself...Over the last decade, however, I have become a student of the Constitution, searching each line for its meaning and intent. Studying the Constitution is like studying the Bible. It is amazing how much more you will learn when you quit studying about it and pick it up to read it for yourself." ~ Pat Robertson

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Greetings from the other side of the world

I received an email from Dave Hecht, formerly of NBC 24. He's been out of TV for three or four years and on active duty with the Navy. As he said in his note, "I'm loving it although life is a little hard right now. I'm in Afghanistan, been here for six months and just extended for another four."

If you'd like to follow along with his experiences and support a local sailor, you can do so on his blog, My Afghanistan Journal.

Supreme Court nominees

As President Barack Obama considers whom to appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court, I just wanted to remind you about which has a host of great information about the courts, the process and even potential nominees like Sonia Sotomayor.

You can check it often for background information about other judges who may be mentioned as replacements for Associate Justice David Souter.

Where do states get most of their funds?

The answer might surprise you, as most would think that income, property and sales taxes are the primary sources of funding for the states.

However, this USA Today story indicates otherwise:

"In a historic first, Uncle Sam has supplanted sales, property and income taxes as the biggest source of revenue for state and local governments.

The shift shows how deeply the recession is cutting. Federal stimulus money aimed at reviving the economy and a sharp drop in tax collections have altered, at least temporarily, the traditional balance of how states, cities, counties and schools pay for their operations.

The sales tax had been the No. 1 source of state and local revenue since the mid-1970s, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Before that, property taxes were the primary source. That changed in the first three months of 2009."

Getting funds from the feds means that states will not cut back when they need to. In fact, despite making cuts in the budget, Ohio is actually expanding some programs, by increasing eligibility to allow middle- and upper-middle-class families to participate.

What many fail to realize is that, eventually, people in the states will have to pay - in one way or another - for all those federal funds coming our way. Then what?
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