Monday, November 30, 2009

Lucas County to 'governmentize' private sector jobs

Lucas County Sheriff James Telb has decided to move in house the job of appraising foreclosed properties, effectively having government take over private sector jobs.

I'm not a fan of how Telb has doled out this task, making sure that politically connected individuals get the lucrative contracts. But that concern is for how the Sheriff selects the individuals - not in the fact that the private sector is employed for the task.

You see, in Ohio, each foreclosed property must have three independent appraisals prior to auction. All three appraisers must agree on the value which is then set as the minimum amount in the auction. When the property is sold, $35 is collected from the buyer to pay for the cost of the appraisal.

The best 'political' part of the process is that state law doesn't require any special expertise in order to do the appraisal and the county sheriff gets to decide who gets the job.

Bringing the appraisals in house means that sheriff deputies will perform the appraisals. Some might say this is a good thing because the patronage will end. I'm not one of them.

If there is the potential for bias in the selection of appraisers, then revise the selection process. But it's wrong for government to take over private sector jobs just to bring in revenue.

And that's what this is all about - more money into the county coffers.

From The Blade report on the issue:

Last year, the nine appraisers were paid a total of $459,148 by buyers at auction - money the county would like to have for its own. Moving the work in-house could preserve the jobs of some deputies and it would make the money available for the county's general fund.

In March, Commissioner Pete Gerken said he'd rather pay UAW members to do the work. The UAW represents the Sheriff deputies:

"...I'd rather be paying UAW-represented county employees to keep their jobs ... than to pay sub-contractors," Gerken said.

So this all about finding work for government/union employees and bringing nearly half a million dollars into the general fund.

But having that revenue in the public coffers means that the individuals who were performing the work (and for some of them it's their ONLY income) will no longer have a job. Perhaps the commissioners have decided the only jobs they want to 'preserve' in the county are government ones?

And this may not actually save any money. The news stories report that a deputy, with benefits, costs around $65-70,000/year. Let's use the $65,000 figure for our comparison.

In 2008, nine appraisers were paid $$459,148. That means the average yearly payment is about $51,016. That's less than we'd pay the deputies. Now, some of the appraisers did more work than the others, resulting in higher payments, but that doesn't change the fact that the work needed to be done. And with foreclosures expecting to remain high (maybe even higher than in 2008), the amount of work isn't going to decrease - at least for a while.

So what happens when the appraisal work does decline - as it surely will? Will those deputies who kept their job still remain on the payroll? Knowing the county operations and the desire for law enforcement over other expenditures, they probably will. The costs of the deputies will remain, while the 'revenue' funding them will decrease. And that's an excellent argument for using private contractors for the work.

Except in Lucas County - where the focus is on government revenue.

Is this really what government priorities should be? To get as much money as possible even if it means 'governmentizing' what the private sector is both capable of and willing to do?

Some in this area think so. It's why government has taken over the towing tasks and ambulance transportation services in the city of Toledo. And why Toledo politicians are constantly talking about 'revenue enhancements' - which translates into 'higher taxation' in one way or another for citizens.

If the Lucas County Commissioners really want to 'save' money, they should look at privatizing tasks - not governmentizing them. There is no need or logic for government to take over jobs, functions or activities that the private sector can and will do - and usually at a lower cost.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quotes of the Day

Two quotes while we all recouperate from the Thanksgiving festivities and I fight off a cold...

"We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork." ~ Milton Friedman

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." ~ Mark Twain

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

From Abraham Lincoln Online - his 1863 presidential proclamation, which established the Thanksgiving holiday:

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Emotion rules the day with 'texting-while-driving' law

Earlier this month, I wrote an email to all members of Toledo City Council asking them to address the issues raised in this Cato Institute article about texting-while-driving laws.

From 12 members of council, only three bothered to respond.

One was District 2 Councilman D. Michael Collins, the sponsor of the ordinance, whose primary reason for the law appeared to be based upon a poll. He wrote:

I would like to share with you that on November 2, 2009 UPI reported that a poll was conducted by the New Your Times and CBS with 97% of the respondents backing a prohibition for sending text messages while driving.The poll report went on to say that 50% of the pollsters defined texing while driving as equally as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Yes, texting while driving CAN be very dangerous - so can changing the radio station or holding your dog in your lap while trying to drive. But a poll should not be a reason to put onto the books a law that cannot be enforced. And Collins never answered any of the questions raised by the article about enforcement.

Additionally, he seemed to have a very flawed view of what laws are supposed to do.

In my opinion, our Democracy and freedoms are in fact law based, and the laws are created to insure and protect the citizens from harm and injury.

We're a Republic, not a democracy - for a reason. But laws are not created to insure and protect us from harm and injury. Laws are supposed to exist to guarantee our rights and freedoms. They protect our right to life by penalizing those who would take it. They protect our right to property by penalizing those who would steal it or damage it.

No amount of laws can ever keep us from injury, and they shouldn't try. But if this is what a councilman believes laws are for, what other onerous, duplicate and freedom-destroying ordinances will he introduce and support in the future?

District 6 Councilwoman Lindsay Webb wrote to say she was voting no on the ordinance. She did not address any of the issues I asked about, but she did give her reasoning in that she believed the state should handle the issue. While I didn't like her lack of response to the issues surrounding the proposed law (whether it be a local one or a state one), I appreciated her response, her reasoning and her vote yesterday which was, indeed, no.

District 5 Councilman Tom Waniewski was the last of the three members of council to respond. He wrote:

I've had some discussion with D. Michael Collins, who is sponsoring this.
It is my understanding the ordinance will not be acted on until our last council meeting in November. As you may have read some time ago, I was not in favor of such legislation because current "Reckless Operation" laws exist in the city. After receiving much email on the matter, and with the amount of texting that I personally do while driving, I am convinced there is some merit in the approach, but I'm not sure if this is the way. For example, would adding, "including text messaging...." to the existing reckless operation laws suffice. Or a resolution strongly urging the police department to enforce reckless driving laws, (including putting lipstick on while driving) be the best approach. I did learn the following:

- in the past 12 months for violations of TMC 331.23 "Failure to Control; weaving; full time attention"
1334 tickets were issued under this section of which 241 specified subsection (c)- full time attention.

I don't have the numbers at my finger tips for reckless operation but it was about twice that number for the past 12 months.

Based upon this, I expected Waniewski to offer some amendments. I don't know whether or not he did, but his vote was 'yes' on the existing ordinance.

This morning, he was interviewed on WSPD and he said three things impacted his decision:

1) the number of accidents cited under reckless operation and 'full-time attention.'
2) taking a 'proactive approach' - if we make it illegal, some people won't do it and that may help the problem.
3) the number of communications (email, phone calls, letters) in favor of the law.

He also said he tried to look at the facts and not the emotional aspects of the issue. But if that's the case, he could have addressed my questions about the factual problem of enforcement.

As for the increase in the number of citations that *might* be related to texting, all I can do is ask: isn't that an indication that the existing laws are sufficient to the cause? If more people are texting and driving while distracted, and the police are issuing more citations as a result, isn't that proof that the current law is addressing the problem?

As for the 'proactive approach,' I wonder about what other laws he'd support 'if they save just one life...' which is the emotional appeal that so many make when they want onerous, unnecessary laws on the books.

But the one thing that disappoints me most is Waniewski's third point - not because he responded to the public position, but because the public position was so ignorant of the facts - thinking that a ban on texting while driving was enforceable in the first place - and the majority of freedom-loving, limited government individuals who obviously didn't take the time to express their opinion on the issue.

Those of us who did look at the facts and logic of the issue came to the conclusion that this law was not needed. But we did not 'overwhelm' the members of city council with our opinion so they acted based (at least partly) upon the feedback they did get.

So the ordinance passed by a 10-2 vote with District 1 Councilman Michael Ashford casting the other no vote, and it will go into effect on January 1, 2010. And I'm sure on that day, everyone in the city will suddenly change their habits and we'll all be safe from harm forever, thanks to D. Michael Collins, Tom Waniewski and eight other members of council.

Quote of the Day

"The state tends to expand in proportion to its means of existence and to live beyond its means, and these are, in the last analysis, nothing but the substance of the people. Woe to the people that cannot limit the sphere of action of the state! Freedom, private enterprise, wealth, happiness, independence, personal dignity, all vanish." ~ Frederic Bastiat

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Commissioners delay vote on project labor agreements

Yesterday, I wrote about the proposed resolution to require project labor agreements (PLA) for all Lucas County work.

Today, the commissioners decided to defer the resolution until Dec. 1.

That means there's still time for you to weigh in on the negative impacts of this proposal.

Pete Gerken:
Tina Skeldon Wozniak:
Ben Konop:
Phone number: 419-213-4500

This issue has also made it to TheUnionLabelBlog with an entry by my friend, Warner Todd Huston: Ohio’s Ben Konop Wants Kids to Starve so he can Give Gov’t Payoffs to Unions. WTH takes a different take on the idea, but comes to a terrific conclusion:

"This fool is just shifting the government money from the welfare office to the funds that pay for building projects. What’s the difference? Only the tiny mind of a Democrat can see the difference."

This is a business killing proposal that will do nothing but increase the cost of projects Lucas County government pays for. We all need to tell the commissioners to vote NO on December 1st.

The definition of stupidity....

I often mention Tom Blumer, who writes at BizzyBlog, for his writing on economics and accounting issues. One of his recent posts is a must-read for this area.

Kelo, GM, and the Stimulus: Three Big Government-Induced Failures details three examples that, as Tom puts it, "clearly demonstrate that government should be the last place people look to for solutions to economic problems."

He also asks the age-old question: if the lessons are so clear, why do people keep doing things that don't work?

Hmmm...sounds like he could have used Toledo/Lucas County as examples as well.

I hope you'll read the entire article - and maybe add BizzyBlog to your daily reading as well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

'Not business friendly' Post #17 -You're going to have a union contract whether you want one or not!

Well, that's if Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and the Northwest Ohio Building and Constructions Trades Council have their way.

Tomorrow the Commissioners have a resolution on their agenda titled: Incorporating Project Labor Agreements into Bidding Specifications for all County-Supported Projects.

Here's the summary:

Whereas this Board of County Commissioners is responsible for facilitating funds for social services, employers who contract to construct county-supported projects are effectively compensated with public dollars and should pay their workers enough so that those same workers might not also rely on taxpayer-funded social services. Applying project labor agreements on all county-supported construction projects, which will ensure workers on those projects are paid prevailing or union-negotiated wages, will also create more opportunities for our local working families, promote fair-bidding practices, protect area standards, avoid disruptions, delays and labor disputes, and create a higher level of workmanship on the aforementioned projects.

What does this really mean?

In a nutshell, if you're going to bid on a contract with the county, you're going to have to enter into a labor agreement with a local union for that specific project.

Talk about insanity and 'not business friendly'!

Additionally, the resolution has two lines - one for 'budget impact' and one for 'statutory authority' - where the costs to the county and the source of the authority for the resolution are cited. These two lines are blank for this resolution, so we have nothing to detail how much it will cost the county to implement, nor do we know if the commissioners even have the authority to institute such a provision.

Let's look at the 'assumptions' in the summary:

"...employers .... should pay their workers enough so that those same workers might not also rely on taxpayer-funded social services."

There are so many fallacies in this assumption, I'm not sure where to begin. So let's start with the basics. Employers should pay employees what they are worth in terms of the value of their labor. They should compensate employees based upon the work that is being done and how well the employee performs the assigned tasks.

But this resolution says employees should be paid based NOT upon those things, but based upon what the government has determined to be eligibility for certain hand-outs. This resolution states that employees should be paid so they make more than what the government determines is the maximum amount people can earn before they get such things as food stamps, Aid to Dependent Children, housing vouchers, heating vouchers, and a host of other hand-outs.

Of course, government has increased the amount of money you can earn and remain eligible. So does that mean that private employers must also increase their pay based upon a political decision designed to purchase votes?

Additionally, eligibility for many programs includes the number of dependents a person has. Should employers then base their pay on how many kids an employee has, even though that has absolutely nothing to do with the job the person is performing? And wouldn't an employer get into trouble for paying one woman more than another when they're doing the same job just because one has kids and the other doesn't?

Pay for workers should not be based upon some arbitrary factor established by government, especially when that factor (eligibility for 'social services') is completely unrelated to the labor being done.

Applying project labor agreements on all county-supported construction projects, which will ensure workers on those projects are paid prevailing or union-negotiated wages...

For most county projects, prevailing wages already apply. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find county projects under which prevailing wages are NOT applied. So this resolution will do nothing in that regard - though it sure does sound nice in the reso, doesn't it?

Prevailing wages are often based upon 'union-negotiated' wages - or at least incorporate those rates into the calculation, so to include the phrase 'union-negotiated wages' in the resolution is really just a duplication.

This is not just about wages, though that may be how it is advertised. No, this is about a host of other issues like binding arbitration, fringe benefits, no strike-no lockout, and all the other issues a labor agreement traditionally covers outside the scope of wages. This is about making sure all workers, whether they want to or not, are actually 'unionized' whenever they work for the county.

The resolution won't ensure the rate of payment for county projects, that's already being done under existing county policies in accordance with state law.

"...will also create more opportunities for our local working families ..."

It will? How? How does forcing union contracts upon workers create more opportunities for them? It doesn't. Employers and employees who have made a conscience choice to NOT be unionized will either be forced into a unionization contract or they won't get the county work. That's not 'creating opportunities.' That's punishing employers and employees who made a decision that unions and politicians don't like.

"...promote fair-bidding practices,..."

No - it won't promote fair-bidding practices. It endeavors to make unionized shops more attractive because their costs are traditionally higher than non-unionized shops. Fair bidding is to allow each company to put together the best proposal and to rate them on what they say they can do. What's even more fair to the taxpayers footing the bill is to select the less costly qualified bid.

But if not enough unionized workers are being hired because the costs of their contracts drive up the overhead of the company and result in a higher bid for the project, then politicians step in and try to spin a burdensome and unfair practice as somehow being more 'fair.'

I wish Commissioner Ben Konop, the sponsor of this resolution, was as concerned about taxpayer money as he is unionization of county workers. If he was, he'd never insist upon an arbitrary increase in costs just to satisfy a local union.

"...protect area standards..."

The only way this could be true is if unionized workers are inherently better at doing a job than non-unionized workers are. And we all know that 'unionization' is a far cry from a fair determiner of ability. In fact, many unions have reputations for protecting bad workers while non-unionized employers have a reputation of having an easier time in firing a non-performing employee.

Besides - this resolution doesn't mandate standards - it just mandates a union contract for a job.

And then there is this little phrase from the actual contract proposed to be signed if this resolution passes:

...protecting the area standards for wages and benefits realized through the process of collective bargaining by imposing union scale for all work covered by this Agreement.

Apparently, the 'standards' the unions are interested in are the ones for wages and benefits.

"...avoid disruptions, delays and labor disputes ..."

Well, I suppose since there is a no-strike/no lock-out clause in the agreement the resolution requires, this could be true. However, we've all seen labor disputes, delays and disruptions even when union contracts are involved, so there is no way this resolution can promise or ensure such.

"...create a higher level of workmanship on the aforementioned projects."

How, exactly, is a higher level of workmanship created? It doesn't say. In fact, this appears to be promotion of the fallacy that unionized workers are better skilled than their non-union counterparts. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that one person is more qualified to perform construction work simply because they're in a union.

The factors that relate to workmanship are training, experience, and ability. Simply having a union card doesn't ensure the skill of the individual, even if they've participated in union-sponsored training. In fact, there are plenty of training programs that are not union-sponsored that produce equally- or better-skilled individuals. The test is in the individual - not the card they carry in their wallet.

So, again, we have a statement that cannot be supported with fact and the proposed resolution contains no provision for guaranteeing the statement.

But the worst part of this is the fact that all workers will have to pay union dues to the union while employed on the county projects. Yes, that's right. This is a pay off to the unions to get them more money. As a condition of employment they must be a union member during the duration of the project. Section 3.4 of the proposed agreements states:

Upon being presented with a written authorization form by an employee covered by this Agreement, the Employer will deduct from the wages of such employee and remit to the Union all initiation fees, dues, and representation fees in accordance with the signed authorization.

There are other onerous provisions in the actual contract as well. If the employer doesn't make the mandated payments to the union for certain fringe benefits, the contract requires the county to withhold those amounts from any payment they'd be making to the company. The county would then pay the union directly. If the union negotiates other contracts with greater benefits while the project is on-going, those new terms of wages & benefits are applied to the county project - retroactively, if necessary. That means that costs for the project can never be known because, at any time, a union may engage in negotiations with other employers and any agreed-upon terms automatically apply to the county project as well.

There's also the standard union access clause that grants a union representative unescorted access to the work site at any time. They also get to designate stewards for the work.

Do these provisions make any sense to anyone but a union????

There is nothing in this resolution that will even remotely address the items it claims in the summary. All it will do is add to the cost of government projects by imposing unnecessary mandates on bidders. And with the county facing a $10 million deficit and planning to dip into the stabilization fund, is this really the time to increase the cost of projects?

In this economy, commissioners shouldn't do anything that adds to the cost of government, even under the guise of 'helping' 'working' families. I'm part of a 'working' family that is tired of footing the bill for preferential treatment for unions and other special interests.

You should read the entire resolution as well as the 'proposed contract' the resolution calls for.

And then you should do two things:

1) Call your commissioners and ask them who wrote the contract. I'd bet any amount of money that Ben Konop didn't - but that the union did.

2) Tell the commissioners that if they really want to destroy business and employment opportunities in the region - pass this resolution, for that's the outcome if they do.

Pete Gerken:
Tina Skeldon Wozniak:
Ben Konop:
Phone number: 419-213-4500

Quote of the Day

"When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, 'just men who will rule in the fear of God.' The preservation of [our] government depends on the faithful discharge of this Duty; if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded. If [our] government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine Commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the Laws." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another 'I told you so' on Toledo's budget

In 2008, I questioned the revenue assumptions of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner - especially the projected revenue from red-light cameras.

Item #3 from the list I sent to Finance Director John Sherburne (who never replied) was this:

3. You've doubled the number of speed cameras but the projected revenue from all those cameras is 6 times more than in 2007. Why isn't the revenue projection just double?

That was in March. By October, The Blade was reporting that the city was facing a $10 million budget shortfall for 2008:

Mr. Sherburne said the primary causes for the shortfall include:

•Income tax collections through September that were down $6.6 million.

•Overtime costs for city employees that are $2 million over projections.

•Revenue from red-light cameras that is $750,000 less than expected. (emphasis added)

•Fuel costs that are $1.5 million over budget.

But failing to learn their lessons in 2008, the city did the exact same thing in 2009. As I wrote in November 2008 (city-presented budget assumptions in bold, my comment follows):

• Red Light Camera revenue is provided for at $2.584 million for 2009. While this is the same as for 2008 it reflects an increase over actual collections for 2008.

So what makes the city think that it's going to have INCREASED collections from these cameras in 2009? Every study - even from the camera companies themselves - shows that income/revenue from the cameras decreases over time. So far, in 2008, red light/speed camera revenue is $750,000 less than expected. What evidence does the city present to document why they think they'll have 30% more income in this line item? Do they plan to add more of these cameras to get to that point? And what will happen if residents, like those in Cincinnati, pass a charter amendment to prohibit the cameras? These are the contingencies the city should think about and build into their budget projections.

Valid questions - in more ways than one - because on Friday 13ABC reported 2009 revenues from red-light cameras were were far from meeting projections.(hat-tip Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle)

The mayor left out a very important number when writing up next year's budget. Toledo's red light cameras were projected to earn the city $2.5 million in paid fines in 2009. But in reality, that number is only $600,000.

The revenue dropped because the state forced Toledo to make the yellow lights longer by one second and Toledo increased the fine to $120-- too rich for some drivers who simply refused to pay.

Police chief Mike Navarre say unpaid fines cost Toledo $1 million. "It's a problem with photo enforcement. It's a problem with parking tickets. It's a problem with people that don't show up for court on traffic tickets."

Those unpaid fines go to collection, but Toledo is now adjusting next year's red light camera revenue at just $900,000.

Note the side comment about the state requiring the city to increase the yellow light time? Most traffic safety studies show that increasing the yellow light times and going to all red in all directions for a moment prior to the lights changing to green increases safety at intersections more than cameras do. And there was much speculation that yellow light times had been decreased at camera intersections in order to generate more money in fines. But that's another topic ...

This line item is currently $1.984 million short. They overestimated their revenue by 331%!

What's even scarier is that, even with two years of data, the city is still projecting an INCREASE in revenue from this source. If they've only collected $600,000 in 2009, what makes them think they'll collect $900,000 in 2010? That's a 50% increase!!!

Does anyone in their right mind really expect a 50% increase in ANY Toledo revenue line item?

Will City Council actually question this figure this time around? They failed to do so previously and we've got pretty much the same people asking the questions.

Perhaps Toledo's best hope for a realistic budget is our new mayor, Mike Bell, and the common sense approach he showed during the campaign. I hope he and his new administration will question these outrageous assumptions and give us a budget based in reality - rather than wished-for revenues to cover the spending they just can't seem to cut.

Of dogs, political agendas and the rule of law

I've written briefly about the latest issue regarding the Lucas County Dog Warden. Now, Tom Skeldon has announced his retirement and that should end the discussion.

But it hasn't.

People are very emotional over the issue of euthanasia of animals - and they should be. It's not a pleasant subject, but a necessary one. Individuals who have not been responsible with their own pets, combined with various state and city laws, put the county in a position of making hard choices, including the decision to put dogs down.

Many of Skeldon's opponents have actually accused him of 'liking' the killing of dogs. How absurd - and outrageous! To even remotely suggest that the dog warden kills animals in his care because he enjoys it tells you all you need to know about the people who are criticizing these actions.

When you confront such individuals with the starkness of pointing out what they are actually suggesting, they quickly back down. But only from saying Skeldon 'likes' it...they continue to maintain that dogs shouldn't be killed - regardless of many other factors.

These opponents have found a target in the dog warden and they are taking out their frustrations with the law on this individual charged with following and enforcing those laws.

Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop - always the first to jump on a band wagon - now wants Skeldon fired because getting rid of the man just isn't enough. From WTOL:

"I'm not comfortable with him as our dog warden for even another day. On Tuesday at our next commissioners meeting, I'll make a motion to terminate Mr. Skeldon," Konop said.

Yet when Konop was running for mayor, do you remember him ever addressing the subject of Toledo's laws that the dog warden has to follow, including the definition of pit bulls?

It may have happened, but I don't remember it.

As the mayor, he would have been able to submit legislation to city council to address many of the concerns animal advocates have about the dog laws. But instead of doing that, Konop has, months later, suddenly decided that Skeldon can't stay on for "even another day."

Of course, that's not the end of it. Today's paper has the story of Konop trying to vindictively prohibit one county employee from participating in a county-wide program. Konop has an early buy-out program he wants to offer to all county employees - but not Skeldon, even though he'd be eligible.

Mr. Konop said he doesn’t want to scrap the buyout plan and is inquiring with the county prosecutors’ office to see if a mechanism can be inserted that would exclude Mr. Skeldon.

“I don’t see why we would want the dog warden to get this lump sum as he walks out the door,” Mr. Konop said.

So why is it in Toledo that some want the rules to only apply to people they like? You may not like a person, but if they're eligible for certain programs or payments, they're eligible. End of story.

However, in Toledo and Lucas County, the politicians, the editorial board of the paper and many groups believe that rules should apply only to certain people and not others.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are." And that is very pertinent to this discussion.

If you don't like the rules, that's one thing. There are certainly provisions regarding the payout of unused vacation and sick time for public employees that I don't like. But the solution is not to prevent some eligible people from getting them - the solution is to change the rules, and continue to apply them equally to all.

But that's not the way it works in this political world - and that's just wrong. The principle is the rule of law - that our rules, laws and policies apply equally to all, and not just to those we want to favor.

Public employees (and voters) should know what the rules are and that they are applied consistently, without bias. Rules that are not in the best interest of the taxpayers should be changed, especially when they are costly and provide a better benefit than what the taxpayers, themselves, have.

To allow certain groups, special interests and the politicians to tailor the rules based upon their personal feelings about an individual negates one of the very core values of our nation - the rule of law. It violates the principle of equal treatment - and it does so to satisfy a political agenda.

Even when we don't like the outcome of a rule or law, we should insist it is followed (at least until we change it).

Skeldon - no matter what your opinions of him - is eligible for vacation and sick time payouts based upon county policies and state law. If Konop is successful in implementing a buy-out program and Skeldon is eligible, he should be allowed to participate as well.

You may not like it, but you must insist that the principle of 'rule of law' is applied ... otherwise, you may find yourself on the receiving end of such bias one day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Promises of tax cuts and the state's $851 million budget deficit

The state of Ohio is facing an $851 million budget deficit following a decision from the Ohio Supreme Court that a source of funding, income from slot machines at racetracks, is subject to a ballot challenge and cannot be implemented as planned.

Just like most politicians who don't want to make the tough decisions, Gov. Ted Strickland and the Democrats in Columbus have decided that the best thing for the state, the residents and our current economy, is to 'delay' a planned income tax cut.

Yes, you heard me correctly. They believe that the best thing to do is to raise your taxes, taking more of your money for their purposes. The tax cut they want to 'delay' is part of a phased-in plan that was passed several years ago. Interestingly, most of the organizations that rank states for business-friendliness or for tax purposes have touted this phased-in plan as a good thing for Ohio.

But despite the fact that the lower tax rates appear to be working in our favor, the easiest way to deal with a budget deficit is to raise taxes - no matter the dire negative consequences to the residents and the state economy.

Now comes some members of the Republican Party who think that 'delaying' only two-thirds of the cut is a good thing.

Perhaps they've missed the lesson.

The Plain Dealer has some interesting quotes in their story on the GOP plan:

Ohio Senate Republicans rolled out their plan to fill an $851 million hole in the current state budget Wednesday, but Senate Democrats immediately shot it down.

"It is in conflict with our core values and counts on money that can't be relied on," said Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro, a Youngstown-area Democrat.

Let's start with this one... Is Cafaro really saying that letting Ohioans keep their money that was promised to them 'is in conflict with' his core values? I'm not really sure.

And the hypocrisy of criticizing the Republican plan that 'counts on money that can't be relied on,' is just priceless. State Auditor Mary Taylor said the entire budget these same people voted for and touted relies upon one time funds that 'can't be relied on' for continuation. And the huge hole in the budget was created for the same reason - relying upon money that can't be relied upon.

Of course, if people and businesses continue to flee the state because of the high tax rates and bad decisions made in Columbus, even the 'delay' in the income tax cuts will turn out to be money that can't be relied upon.

The Republican plan would delay two-thirds of a 4.2 percent state income tax cut. Gov. Ted Strickland and fellow Democrats in the General Assembly want to suspend the entire cut until 2011. Republicans instead proposed that the rest of the money to fill the budget gap -- which resulted from an Ohio Supreme Court decision that slot machines at racetracks are subject to a ballot challenge -- would come from a variety of sources.

Those include $200 million in casino license fees, $50 million from sentencing reforms, a $30 million raid on the state's Housing Trust Fund as well as $10 million from oil and gas drilling at Salt Fork State Park.

So rather than drill for oil and gas at a state park, Democrats want to tax us more. Where are the priorities here? What's more important to them: letting Ohioans keep the money they've earned and keep a tax cut promised several years ago, or drilling in one of the state parks? Seems like a no-brainer to me...

And raiding the Housing Trust Fund appears to be no different than raiding the tobacco settlement fund - the politicians are good at raiding funds designated for a specific purpose whenever they are faced with that choice or cutting spending.

Strickland doesn't think the Republican plan is a responsible way to solve the budget crisis, said his spokeswoman Amanda Wurst.

Really? The 'responsible' way would have been to not rely upon a questionable source of funding in the budget in the first place.

On the other hand, what is more responsible? Keeping a campaign promise to not raise taxes or taking the easy way out of a budget deficit by raising taxes?

I'm sick and tired of politicians telling us they've cut everywhere they possibly can while actually increasing spending in many areas where it is not required. Our elected officials in Columbus should just start eliminating departments, cutting funding to projects and tasks that are not mandated, reducing the szie of Ohio's government and tightening the state's belt.

That's what we're all doing - going without things that we'd like to have because we don't have the funds to cover their costs. Will some special interests be upset? Yes - they will. But better that some special interests be upset over their loss of funding than all Ohio residents have to pay a higher tax just so some politician won't have to explain logic and reason and priorities to them.

As for all of us - let us be sure to learn a very valuable lesson: promises of tax cuts aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have." ~ Richard Salant, former President of CBS News

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. ... Every man who parrots the cry of “stand by the President” without adding the proviso “so far as he serves the Republic” takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bogus jobs numbers in the stimulus & Ohio phantom congressional districts

The Washington Examiner has been compiling various news reports about the bogus numbers of jobs 'created or retained' by the stimulus funds.

In their spreadsheet, they even list a Toledo example:

Koring Group reported hiring 52 people, but it turns out that they double-counted jobs that “only lasted about two months.” The FCC estimates that “actual job count is closer to five.”

But this got me thinking about two items I saw on the November 10th Council agenda:

Accept ARRA Stimulus grant for prosecutor and intern for crimes of Violence Against Women,$40,193

Accept ARRA Stimulus grant for retention of jobs in Prosecutor's Office, $93,724

These positions have been funded in the past by Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant dollars and Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) and/or Byrne Memorial grant funds.

So these are not new positions in the Prosecutor's office.

But, they are now funded by ARRA - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - and I can't help but wonder if they are part of the number of jobs 'created or saved' being claimed by government.

Certainly, since they are existing positions, they are not jobs 'created.' If these old grants had not been replaced (renamed?) by ARRA, it is likely they would have continued, so I don't know that we can say the jobs were 'saved.'

I still take exception to the 'saved' category, as any job that isn't eliminated could be claimed by the government as one 'saved,' regardless of any action of or by the government.

But that point aside - are jobs like these in the Prosecutor's office included in the claim? I couldn't tell by looking at the website, which is supposed to track the stimulus funds.

Interestingly, though, I did find two curious expenditures at

$25,000 awarded on Aug. 12, 2009 as a sub-grant to TOLEDO ORCHESTRA ASSOCIATION INC.

$250,000 awarded July 1, 2009 to the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo - "To support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support duringt he current economic downturn, as described in application A09-904015 and the approved project budget."

Remember - the Arts Commission gets funding directly from the citizens as part of the City of Toledo's 'set-aside' for the arts. In 1977, Toledo City Council passed the 'One Percent for Art' program, which takes 1% of the capital improvement budget and spends it on art in public places each year.

And the number of jobs identified with these two programs? So far, only 2 for the $603,400 total in funds that the state and/ or city received.

Additionally Ohio has 18 Congressional districts, but shows that money was spent in 9 Ohio districts that don't even exist! In fact, $3,438,956 in stimulus funds went somewhere - and there were even 3 jobs associated with those funds.

Congressional District # of jobs $ amount
21st congressional district 3 $1,241,652
99th congressional district 0 $660,000
69th congressional district 0 $400,000
87th congressional district 0 $336,108
85th congressional district 0 $250,000
49th congressional district 0 $230,000
20th congressional district 0 $208,836
54th congressional district 0 $100,000
56th congressional district 0 $12,000

And people think this same government can handle health care on behalf of every American?????

The bigger problem with this whole fiasco is that government only has what it takes from us. In order to have the money to spend to 'save or create' jobs, it has to tax us (or our descendants) or borrow and then, eventually, tax us to repay the loans. By doing this, they are removing our money from the economy and putting it toward their pet projects. If we'd been allowed to keep our money in the first place, we'd be investing it, spending it, and/or saving it, resulting in a better and more efficient use of the funds - which would result in a better economy meeting the needs of the consumers, rather than the wants of politicians.

For a better understanding of this concept, read Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" - Chapter Two: The Broken Window (may take a moment to download and Chapter Two starts on page 17 of the .pdf). Better yet, give a copy of the chapter to our elected officials and ask them why, in light of the lesson, they continue to do the wrong things.

For more information on how the stimulus funds are being distributed in Ohio, be sure to read Ohio Watchdog and check out their information showing the jobs 'created' in our 9th Congressional district cost over $467,000 each - and that the majority of spending has been to government entities, including the City of Toledo (roughly $23 million), the University of Toledo (rougly $45 million) and Toledo Public Schools (roughly $40 million).

I sure do hope TPS doesn't ask for a levy any time soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Random thoughts of deference, dogs, destruction and deficits

It's raining where I am and there's a lot going on - so some random thoughts on various issues.

* My uncle is Chinese. He's a U.S. citizen and has been for decades. But being Chinese gives him unique perspective on the Asian cultures and the practice of bowing. President Barack Obama again made news with his 'bow' before the Japanese Emperor. He bowed at a 90-degree angle.

Now, it is appropriate to greet such individuals with a bow, participating in the customary greeting of the nation. But, according to my uncle, a 20- to 30-degree angle is acceptable and recommended. Additionally, the Emperor should greet our President with a handshake, which is our custom.

But to do as Obama did and lower himself half-way is not proper for the President of the United States. Either he is intentionally trying to send a message of submission to foreign monarchs, or he's being served very, very poorly by his protocol office.

* When I was a commissioner, I had a phone call from a woman who wanted the dog warden to do more in getting dogs at the pound adopted out. She insisted that there were many groups just waiting for dogs and they'd be glad to take them instead of having them euthanized at the pound.

Since she obviously knew so much more than me about such groups, I suggested that she contact the various groups, work out how many and what type of dogs they'd be willing to take each week and then draw up a plan for how it could work.

Despite the fact that I'm allergic to dogs (and just about all pets and furry creatures), I love the creatures and don't want to see them killed by anyone. However, I'm also a realist and know that the dog warden and pound are supposed to be self-sufficient, paying for itself out of the licenses/fines/fees for services. When dogs are kept for longer periods of time, they cost money - and someone has to pay for those bills.

I also know that the state law and Ohio Revised Code place mandates on what a dog warden must, and can, do. Those tasks must come first, as they are statutory requirements.

So, I thought that this woman would be in a perfect position to devise a plan with all these dog rescue groups and, since she was certainly passionate about the issue, that she would embrace the challenge.

However, from her reaction to my suggestion, I didn't expect I'd ever get any sort of plan and I never heard from her again.

You see, she didn't want to do what I suggested. She wanted the dog warden to do it. She was willing to call up and tell me how the dog warden could do what she thought was a better job, but she wasn't willing to put any effort into it herself.

That's part of the problem with too many people these days. They're so willing to tell others what to do, but so unwilling to apply the same directions to themselves. And it's even worse when the entity they're targeting for action is the government. Too many think government should do all things so they don't have to.

This is not to say that improvements are not needed at the dog pound - that would be ridiculous. There are always places for government to improve. But too many of the voices shouting for the dog warden to 'do something' are not willing to 'do something' themselves. Some are - but most aren't. They just want to join the chorus of condemnation without assuming any of the responsibilities for the actions they want to achieve - like the woman who called me.

But if all the people currently complaining about the dog warden instead spent that energy working with various rescue groups to come up with ways to save the dogs at the pound, wouldn't that be a more productive use of energy and benefit the dogs and our community more than one person being fired?

I hope the task force looking at the operations of the pound will take a serious look at the financial aspects of what they recommend and include funding recommendations as well. Their current recommendation for a moratorium on 'killing puppies' (sensational impact intended) has a cost that needs to be addressed. Emotion without reason and logic on the issue will get us no where.

* I saw 2012 over the weekend and very much enjoyed it. It wasn't the greatest movie I've ever seen, but the special effects did not disappoint and they needed to be seen on the big screen of a movie theater with the surround sound as well. I wasn't expecting much in terms of a plot line - it's a disaster movie with a well-known premise - so I wasn't disappointed by that. In fact, some of the melodramatic moments gave me time between tsunamis, earthquakes and general destruction to actually catch my breath.

There are some who are complaining that Christian sites were destroyed in the movie, but no Muslim ones were. While it may be true that the makers of the film are anti-Christian (I have no idea and don't really care), equating the selection of destroying the statue of Jesus in Brazil and the Vatican to some sort of Christian-bashing would be the same as saying the makers of the film were anti-American because they also showed the destruction of the Washington Monument and the White House. And those who are complaining failed to account for the destruction of the monastery on the mountain in China...

Sometimes, a movie is just a movie. And since my expectations on the plot were not very high to begin with, I was glad I saw the massive global destruction scenes inherent in the 2012 hysteria on the big screen. So if you go see the movie, enjoy it for what it is: a work of fiction best seen on a big screen.

Besides - it stars John Cusak, and he's one of my favorites!

* Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is releasing his 2010 budget today. I received the email notice from Megan last night and asked how long it would be before the document was placed on line. I've not yet gotten a response, but Megan is usually pretty good about getting back to us on press-release questions. So stay tuned. I'll link to it when it's out and we all see what kind of deficits we're facing next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A new amendment to the Constitution

I received this in an email - and I like it!!!!

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

What do you think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Chicago Way and the shooting at Ft. Hood

I'm a big fan of Chuck Muth and his latest column gives us a lot to think about. But there are two messages from his column we ought to heed.

What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Fort Hood Massacre

Most Americans have this whole Fort Hood massacre all wrong. Maj. Nidal M. Hassan was not a terrorist. And he wasn’t a mass murderer. And he may not even have been a coward.

Maj. Hassan was an enemy combatant.

And until we come to grips with that reality, as well as the fact that we are still a nation at war, the United States will continue to suffer such needless and unnecessary losses.

Since so many Americans have been undereducated by our government-run public schools, let’s refer to a system of education which most of us can readily relate to in order to understand what’s really going on here: Hollywood movies.

In The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, we learned that under-trained and under-armed American militia hid behind trees in the woods and waited for the British troops to ride up. They would then open fire without warning, attempting to take out the officers first in order to instill chaos among the remaining soldiers, thereby making it easier to pick them off and wipe them out.

In that sense, American militiamen were the colonial version of IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

A rather unsettling thought, is it not?

For their part, the British thought such tactics by the militia were as cowardly and ungentlemanly as we do now about Taliban roadside attacks on U.S. military convoys in Afghanistan. But both the militia and the Taliban used/use what little military tactics in war they had/have at their disposal against a superior enemy military force. As they say, all’s fair.

And what red-blooded American can ever forget the 1967 World War II classic The Dirty Dozen starring Lee Marvin? And who did we root for in that story, the Americans or the Germans? And what was the plot of that movie again? Oh, yeah: “A U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission…”


This is why I say Hassan wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t attack a subway train or a nightclub or a shopping mall populated by civilians. No, he attacked enemy soldiers on an enemy military base. And he used what he had at his disposal – a surprise attack on unarmed soldiers which gave him a tactical advantage.

Most of us probably consider this attack cowardly, but it was right out of Sun Tzu’s Art of War textbook:

“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places that are undefended. . . .He who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven, making it impossible for the enemy to guard against him. This being so, the places that he shall attack are precisely those that the enemy cannot defend.”

Like the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas.

Not that we Americans shouldn’t be outraged by the attack. We should. But part of our outrage should be directed against the idiots who decided that American military personnel need not be armed and protected at all times on a military installation during a time of war, even on American soil.

Maj. Nidal Hassan was an enemy infiltrator. Or maybe he was a modern-day version of Benedict Arnold…a traitor. Either way, his was an act of war. And a very successful one.
Read more....

Muth then connects these thoughts with one of my favorite quotes from the movie "The Untouchables":

“You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do? . . . If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead. You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT’S the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that?”

And Muth is right in his premise. Our enemies are fighting a war. As Muth says, "They can’t be reasoned with. They can’t be negotiated with. Like a rabid dog, they won’t give up until one of us is dead." We need to not only accept this, but understand it and react accordingly.

But there is also a political message in this quote that we should heed. President Barack Obama and many of the people who advise him adhere to this 'Chicago way' in a political sense, if not in a military one. Their actions in pushing their socialist-leaning agenda proves this point.

And just like in the military lesson, if Americans are going to be effective in defeating the policies and laws that turn us away from the freedoms our founders guaranteed for us, we need to understand that it is a war - and they aren't going to give up until they win.

So the question 'Now do you want to do that?' is applicable to those who say they want freedom and liberty and/or just want the government to 'leave them alone'.

Are you willing to do what it takes? What are you prepared to do?

Quotes of the Day

"True liberty cannot exist apart from the full rights of property, for property is the only crystallized form of free faculties... The whole meaning of socialism is a systematic glorification of force... No literary phrases about social organisms are potent enough to evaporate the individual, who is the prime, indispensable, irreducible element." ~ Auberon Herbert

"The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quotes of the Day

Postings this week may be a bit light as I'm on the please enjoy what these Chief Justices of the United States had to say about the limited powers of the federal government:

"We start with first principles. The Constitution creates a Federal Government of enumerated powers." ~ William H. Rehnquist

"This government is acknowledged by all, to be one of enumerated powers." ~ John Marshall

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If you enjoy your freedom, thank a Vet!

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." ~ Thomas Paine

Last night, I slept very soundly. I had no fear of being pulled out of my bed in the middle of the night and carted off to some detention center.

I awoke this morning and turned on the radio - talk radio, that is - and listened to news and opinion that hadn't been filtered through the state. And it came from a station broadcasting publicly without fear of reprisals for doing so.

I drove my husband to the plant where he's working this week. It's a privately-owned company that makes a product of its choosing and employs willing workers - all benefitting from a (relatively) free market.

I crossed a state line and didn't need papers of any kind. I passed through no checkpoints and had no curfew. I was free to travel where I wanted, when I wanted and no one questioned me about where I was going or what I was doing.

On the way home, I considered stopping for carryout - or maybe doing some grocery shopping. I had no fear of shortages, lines or rations.

And now, I'm connected to the entire world through the Internet, posting my opinions on line and I have no fear of being arrested for what I write or say.

I'm an American - with all the freedoms and benefits of liberty promised and established by our nation's founders - but guaranteed by those who have served to protect them: our Veterans.

For all these things, the simple words, 'Thank you!' just don't seem like enough, though they convey the eternal gratitude of so many.

So to all the Veterans, thank you so very much for ensuring my freedom and for safeguarding our nation, our rights and our liberty!

Happy Veterans Day!

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." ~ Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two must-read petitions

I urge you to read these two petitions:

The Candlemaker's Petition - Petition of the Manufacturers of Candles, Waxlights, Lamps, Candlelights, Street Lamps, Snuffers, Extinguishers, and the Producers of Oil, Tallow, Resin, Alcohol, and, Generally, of Everything Connected with Lighting

The Healthcare Producers Petition - A Petition from the Producers of Health Insurance, Medical Equipment, Drugs, Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures, Physical Therapy, and, Generally, of Everything Connected with Healthcare

See how far we've come???

Happy Birthday U.S. Marine Corps!


Founding of the Marine Corps
A legacy is born

During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.

The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.

As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.

Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

Marine Corps Birthday: (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)

All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.

Gen. Lejeune's order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.

Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Quantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.

The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place on Philadelphia in 1925. First class Marine Corps style, all the way! Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (in 1925 the term "politically correct" didn't exist; it was Secretary of War, not Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, Gen. Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.

Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant's birthday message to the Corps.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing remains constant, the tenth day of November! This unique holiday for warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country. Throughout the world on 10 November, U.S. Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps -- the most loyal, most feared, most revered, and most professional fighting force the world has ever known.

The USMC Commandant Message for 2009:

R 051329Z OCT 09
ALMAR 033/09






Thank you, Marines, and Happy Birthday!

Monday, November 09, 2009

If health care bill just like Social Security and Medicare, how long until bankruptcy?

In looking at the news coverage of Saturday's vote on the Pelosi health care bill, nearly all reports include this statement:

"A triumphant Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, likened the legislation to the passage of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later."

And I just have to shake my head and wonder what happened to the brains these people were born with.

Why in the world would anyone liken this bill to two failing and bankrupt programs?

Do they not care that both Social Security and Medicare are insolvent and are paying out more than they're taking in? Do they not care that people who are paying into the system now are probably never going to see any benefit from those taxes they've paid?

Do they not understand that these two programs are just ponzi schemes that would put them into prison if they were in the private sector? As the Wall Street Journal reports:

The House also contains a new government long-term insurance program that starts collecting premiums in 2011 but doesn't starting paying benefits until 2016 and then runs out of money in 2029. North Dakota Democrat (Senator) Kent Conrad called it "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of" in an interview with the Washington Post in late October.(emphasis added)

Maybe they understand all this - and are doing it BECAUSE of these facts. After all, we've continued to let them. And the more people they put onto the programs, the more support they have for extending them.

Under these rules and outcomes, they expect the same thing with health care. They'll make Americans dependent upon the government for health decisions and can then make all the decisions for the American people. We let them do this with our retirement, so why not health?

And when we are dependent upon government - that is, the politicians - we'll vote for the ones who promise to give us more, even if there is no way to pay for it.

Eventually, there won't be anyone left to tax to pay for the 'free' services others are getting. Then what? Will the politicians just borrow the money from China? And what if China stops buying debt?

Ah, those pesky 'what if' questions that politicians avoid like the plague.

If this health care bill is just like Social Security and Medicare, you can be sure it is not sustainable, will result in higher taxes, have limited service and, eventually, will result in bankruptcy for the program.

Pelosi said so herself.

Side Note: The Wall Street Journal has a great take on this as well.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thanks, Marcy Kaptur, for destroying liberty

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce." ~ James Madison

Some may say that her position was undecided, but most of us who know her voting record were very sure she was going to vote in favor of the government takeover of health care.

Final vote on the House version was 220 - 215 with only one Republican voting yes, though 39 Democrats voted no.

Sadly, the basic, core issue of the Constitutionality of the measure was never researched, though Republicans and at least one news source tried to raise the issue..

CNSNews asked many members of Congress where the Constitution grants the authority for mandating that citizens purchase a product and go to jail/be fined for failure to comply.

Answers ranged from 'for the common good' (a position our founders and authors of the document clearly did not intend) and 'general welfare' to 'we mandate car insurance so we can mandate health insurance.' Of course, it's the states that mandate car insurance - not the federal government, so this really isn't a valid argument for justifying the law.

Even worse was the claim that government isn't telling people WHICH insurance they have to buy - just that they have to have coverage. But the bill details what coverage you must have, so that 'logic' ends up looking as fallacious as it actually is.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said 'nobody questions' the authority.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the issue of Constitutionality of the bill was "not a serious question."

Pelosi's spokesman later said it was covered under the 'interstate commerce' clause. But how that's possible is beyond me. I'm not participating in trade between the states when I purchase my insurance. In fact, irony of all ironies, I'm not even allowed to purchase insurance across state lines!

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said he had no idea if White House lawyers had reviewed the Constitutionality of forcing Americans to purchase health insurance. Gibbs went so far as to say, "... I don’t think it has gotten to the point where anybody questions the legitimacy of it.”

The reporter followed up: “Well, Orrin Hatch questions the legitimacy of it.” Gibbs quipped, “Well, you should ask him.”

The reporter asked, “Do you not feel there is any concern at all about whether it is constitutional for Congress to impose a mandate?”

“No,” Gibbs said.

So Congress 'assumed' they had the authority and then went about finding 'justification' for requiring Americans, as a condition of citizenship, to purchase a health insurance plan designed by government (regardless of their needs or wants) and to face fines, penalties and jail time for non-compliance.

And this isn't worth a discussion of the Constitutionality of the measure???? Shouldn't they settle the question of Constitutionality before they get sued over it???

In 1994, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report on the health care plan proposed by then President Bill Clinton. They wrote:

A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States. An individual mandate would have two features that, in combination, would make it unique. First, it would impose a duty on individuals as members of society. Second, it would require people to purchase a specific service that would be heavily regulated by the federal government.

This is exactly the plan that the House passed yesterday.

As of today, 220 members of the House of Representatives, including Marcy Kaptur, think that the government has the authority to order to you purchase a product you may not want. Or, if you do want it, to purchase the product they define, rather than the one you believe best meets your needs.

This is not a question of health insurance, it's a question of freedom, as Terence P. Jeffrey, writes:

Can President Obama and Congress enact legislation that orders Americans to buy health insurance? They might as well order Americans to buy broccoli. They have no legitimate authority to do either. Yet neither Obama nor the current leadership in Congress seems to care about the constitutional limits on their power.

They are now attempting to exert authority over the lives of Americans in a way no president and Congress has done before.

... imagine an American sitting on his back porch casually enjoying the would-be anathematized state of not owning health insurance. When it comes to health insurance, this American has not been, is not and never intends to be engaged in any form of commerce with any entity in any foreign nation, distant state or Indian tribe.

If he did decide to engage in health-insurance related commerce with any entity in a foreign nation, distant state or Indian tribe, Congress could constitutionally regulate that action. But this American simply won’t oblige. As a free person—like generations of Americans before him—he has weighed the risks and benefits of buying health insurance, and he has decided not to buy it. He is fully ready to accept the good and bad consequences of this decision.

All he wants from the government is to be left alone.

For President Obama and Congress to reach into this American’s backyard and force him to buy health insurance would be a blatantly unconstitutional act.
All versions of the health care bill under consideration in Congress would order Americans to buy health insurance. If any of these bills is enacted, the first thing it would accomplish is the amputation of a vital part of our Constitution, and the death of another measure of our liberty.

Thanks, Marcy, for helping to destroy my liberty and for the arrogance of thinking that you know better than the majority of Americans who believe they can make better decisions with their money than you can.

Lest you think this is nothing to be concerned over, just take a look at this chart of how it all works...and they say this is supposed to help????

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Quote of the Day

While we work today on the set-up of the live auction of fine wines for the Mobile Meals Wine Gala, and then attend the event to help raise money for a terrific organization and cause, here is a quote we all should remember:

"To suppress minority thinking and minority expression would tend to freeze society and prevent progress… Now more than ever, we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening the way to loss of liberty for those we love." ~ Wendell L. Willkie

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cash for votes in Athens County

Jesse Hathaway who blogs at Athens Runaway has good coverage of the goings on, so I hope you'll read his blog for all the details of the cash for votes in Athens County.

It starts with an email from the Ohio University College Democrats offering $5 for bringing in people from the 4th Ward of the city - which was the only contested race. According to some reports at the time, the source of funding was the Athens County Democratic Party.

It continues with confirmation that the funds did come from the local Democratic Party - but the money was for canvassing, not actual votes - and that it was part of the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort of the local party. It includes Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern's disavowal of the "stupid idea" from the local Democratic Party Chairwoman Susas Gwinn and a call for an investigation.

This particular post also includes questions about whether or not the College Democrats were involved in a similar effort in 2008.

But in a strange twist on the matter, the party treasurer, Lenny Eliason, said he had no knowledge of any such GOTV effort and that no money had been allocated for it.

Lenny is a sitting county commissioner and I worked with him on the board of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO). He was recently elected 2nd Vice President of the National Association of Counties (NaCO) which puts him in line for the presidency of the national organization. He is well-respected by commissioners across the state and has a reputation for following the rules, so when he says this 'doesn't pass the smell test,' you can see that Democrats have not begun to circle the wagons on this one. Instead, as the post details, some are calling for Gwinn's resignation.

Then there is this post covering the assignment of the investigation to Delaware County Prosecutor David Yost, who was already investigating prior questionable financial actions of Gwinn.

Gwinn, reacting to Redfern's demand that she resign as party chair, said Refern should resign instead. After all, as Councilwoman Nancy Bain, D-3rd Ward, says, if the Athens Dems wanted his opinion, they'd ask him - and they did win the 4th Ward election.

Be sure to check Athens Runaway for more updates.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Texting while driving - UPDATED

UDATED with responses from council members at the bottom of the post.

Toledo is considering a 'texting while driving' law - to prevent it, not encourage it, though in Toledo you can never quite be sure...

I've sent an email to all members of city council asking them to address the issues raised in this Cato Institute article about the issue, saying the law if pretty much unenforceable.

I expect that I'll hear back from a few of the members - and I'll share them with you by adding updates to this post when I do.

What I don't expect, however, is a quick response from any of them because I believe the article raising questions they've not addressed - so now they have to.

Well, they could ignore the email and questions, so I suppose they don't 'HAVE' to...

But proper diligence in deciding whether or not to implement a law says that you should consider how the law will be enforced and what challenges will be brought against that could, especially in this instance, make the law irrelevant.

Additionally, if it's so bad to read and/or send a text while driving, is it not equally distracting and dangerous to do a host of other things? Will city council be creating regulations that outlaw all those things as well?

I didn't hear any answers to that question - just the whole 'if it can save one life' mantra - the emotional appeal - that too many politicians resort to when logic fails them.

I hope you'll take the time to read the article, which I've previously posted on my blog, and then contact your city council members and demand they tell you how they're going to deal with the issues raised in the article - and all the other dangerous things people do while driving.

You can then leave a comment here for all to see.

We need to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and that includes having them address such concerns about laws they are going to impose upon us.

UPDATE: Responses from city council members

1) from Lindsay Webb on 11-06-2009 at 9:23 a.m.

"I am going to vote no. I think this should be handled at the State level."

2) from D. Michael Collins on 11-09-2009 at 1:49 p.m.

Mrs. Thurber.......thank you for your e mail concerning "Texting While Driving", please be advised that we will not be voting on this matter at our Council meeting on November 10, 2009. I will ask to have it relieved from my Law and Criminal Justice Committee and we can discuss it again on November 17, 2009 at our Agenda Meeting and then vote on it at our November 24, 2009 Council Meeting. In the event you would like to be at the Agenda Meeting and provide input I would welcome your presence.

I would like to share with you that on November 2, 2009 UPI reported that a poll was conducted by the New Your Times and CBS with 97% of the respondents backing a prohibition for sending text messages while driving.The poll report went on to say that 50% of the pollsters defined texing while driving as equally as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. The poll was conducted from October 5 - 8 and 829 adults responded, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

In conclusion, I do understand the argument that we already have laws in place to cover this issue. The traffic code most frequently referred to is Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle. To beg the question is operating a motor vehicle when impaired/intoxicated a reckless act and I would suggest it would be defined as such. Then why would we need a traffic statue which specifically addresses this issue, the reason is the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired/intoxicated becomes the element of the offense and thus removes a subjective opinion from the trier of law. I will end by saying the police department will not carry on a crusade to cite the violators, however this will cause under the force of law the ability to subpoena records from the carrier which may be used in both criminal as well as civil litigation.


D. Michael Collins

This a follow-up response after I raised questions about the process of using a subpeona; the questionable validity of a NYT's poll to Toledo and the enforcment questions I'd previously raised; and the comparison to a DUI when the texting ordinance is a minor misdemeanor:

Mrs. Thurber.......In response to your e mail I respectfully disagree with your assumption concerning the relevance of the New York Times/CBS poll. My point is a law with specificity is preferable over a general assumption and may not have the force of law when the investigating agency seeks to secure by subpoena phone records. To be case specific the execution of a subpoena defining a specific element of an offense, based upon probable cause is in the communities best interest as it provides evidence which can be used in the furtherance of justice.

I terms of enforcement, I am not suggesting that reckless operation of a motor vehicle is sufficient to command a response to a subpoena, having said that a specific law or element defined as texting would have the force of law attached. The use of a subpoena would be determined by the nature of the event and the need for the record. In the event of a serious injury or fatal accident I can assure you that a carrier record would go a long way to help the State/City or Plaintiff in proving the case.

In closing, speeding, running a red light, running a stop sign and most all other traffic offenses are minor misdemeanors, In this case the second offense becomes a 3rd degree misdemeanor and the third or more becomes a 2nd. degree misdemeanor. In my opinion, our Democracy and freedoms are in fact law based, and the laws are created to insure and protect the citizens from harm and injury.

D. Michael Collins

3) from Tom Waniewski on 11-9-09 at 8:21 p.m.

I've had some discussion with D. Michael Collins, who is sponsoring this.
It is my understanding the ordinance will not be acted on until our last council meeting in November. As you may have read some time ago, I was not in favor of such legislation because current "Reckless Operation" laws exist in the city. After receiving much email on the matter, and with the amount of texting that I personally do while driving, I am convinced there is some merit in the approach, but I'm not sure if this is the way. For example, would adding, "including text messaging...." to the existing reckless operation laws suffice. Or a resolution strongly urging the police department to enforce reckless driving laws, (including putting lipstick on while driving) be the best approach. I did learn the following:

- in the past 12 months for violations of TMC 331.23 "Failure to Control; weaving; full time attention"
1334 tickets were issued under this section of which 241 specified subsection (c)- full time attention.

I don't have the numbers at my finger tips for reckless operation but it was about twice that number for the past 12 months.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Quotes of the Day

On democracy and majority rule:

"And what sort of philosophical doctrine is this -- that numbers confer unlimited rights, that they take from some persons all rights over themselves, and vest these rights in others. ... How, then, can the rights of three men exceed the rights of two men? In what possible way can the rights of three men absorb the rights of two men, and make them as if they had never existed. ... It is not possible to suppose, without absurdity, that a man should have no rights over his own body and mind, and yet have a 1/10,000,000th share in unlimited rights over all other bodies and minds?" ~ Auberon Herbert

"To speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it. Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience? -- in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Google Analytics Alternative