Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon New Year's Eve

I was surprised to learn that several of my friends were not familiar with the modern-day definition of a 'blue moon' which will be ... tonight - New Year's Eve!

So I did some searching and came up with this article by Dr. Tony Phillips at It's a nice explanation of the historical use of the phrase 'once in a blue moon.' I hope you enjoy it - and your 'once in a blue moon New Year's Eve!'

Happy New Year!

Party planners take note. For the first time in almost twenty years, there's going to be a Blue Moon on New Year's Eve.

"I remember the last time this happened," says professor Philip Hiscock of the Dept. of Folklore at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. "December 1990 ended with a Blue Moon, and many New Year's Eve parties were themed by the event. It was a lot of fun."

Don't expect the Moon to actually turn blue, though. "The 'Blue Moon' is a creature of folklore," he explains. "It's the second full Moon in a calendar month."

Most months have only one full Moon. The 29.5-day cadence of the lunar cycle matches up almost perfectly with the 28- to 31-day length of calendar months. Indeed, the word "month" comes from "Moon." Occasionally, however, the one-to-one correspondence breaks down when two full Moons squeeze into a single month. Dec. 2009 is such a month. The first full Moon appeared on Dec. 2nd; the second, a "Blue Moon," will come on Dec. 31st.

This definition of Blue Moon is relatively new.

If you told a person in Shakespeare's day that something happens "once in a Blue Moon" they would attach no astronomical meaning to the statement. Blue moon simply meant rare or absurd, like making a date for the Twelfth of Never. "But meaning is a slippery substance," says Hiscock. "The phrase 'Blue Moon' has been around for more than 400 years, and during that time its meaning has shifted."

The modern definition sprang up in the 1940s. In those days, the Farmer's Almanac of Maine offered a definition of Blue Moon so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it. It involved factors such as the ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun. Aiming to explain blue moons to the layman, Sky & Telescope published an article in 1946 entitled "Once in a Blue Moon." The author James Hugh Pruett cited the 1937 Maine almanac and opined that the "second [full moon] in a month, so I interpret it, is called Blue Moon."

That was not correct, but at least it could be understood. And thus the modern Blue Moon was born.

Blue moon has other connotations, too. In music, it's often a symbol of melancholy. According to one Elvis tune, it means "without a love of my own." On the bright side, he croons in another song, a simple kiss can turn a Blue Moon pure gold.

The modern astronomical Blue Moon occurs in some month every 2.5 years, on average. A Blue Moon falling precisely on Dec. 31st, however, is much more unusual. The last time it happened was in 1990, and the next time won't be until 2028.

So cue up that old Elvis record and "enjoy the extra moonlight on New Year's Eve," says Hiscock. "It only happens once in a Blue Moon."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's an 'American-made' vehicle?

I just had to laugh when I read that Lucas County Commissioner and former UAW member Pete Gerken is in hot water over the lease of an Ohio-made Acura TL.

The car was a Christmas gift to his wife and, according to the report, was her choice. But that's just 'an excuse,' according to one UAW member, to get Gerken off the hot seat.

First of all, none of those union people who are so outraged can provide a definition of 'American made' when it comes to cars. I once had a conversation with a UAW leader that went something like this (note the ownership of the various brands was different back then):

ME: Would I be in trouble with the union if I bought a car made entirely at the Honda plant in Marysville? It's an Ohio-made car, so wouldn't that be good to support manufacturing in our state?

UAW leader: No - the plant is owned by Honda and the money goes back to them in Japan - it doesn't stay here in the states.

ME: Well, then. What if I bought a Volvo? They're made in the U.S. and Canada and the brand is owned by Ford - so the money would stay with an American company.

UAW leader: No - it's a foreign vehicle...Vovlo is German.

ME: But I can buy a Jeep made in Toledo by a German company who takes the money back to Germany - that's okay?

UAW leader: Yep - now you've got it.

This really happened! I was dumbfounded - there was no logic whatsoever to the thought process, except, perhaps, that some of the plants are union and some are not, but even that didn't explain the opposition to a Volvo made by UAW members.

The problem is with the thinking - or lack thereof. The UAW has never provided their definition of 'American made' - which makes it very easy for them to pick and choose what they want to support or criticize when it comes to car purchases. actually has an "American-Made Index":

"...rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include sales, where the car's parts are made and whether the car is assembled in the U.S. Models that have been discontinued are disqualified, as are those with a domestic-parts content rating below 75 percent."

This seems like a fair way to judge whether or not a car is 'American.'

The #1 rank goes to Toyota Camry - what a surprise!

Only five of the top 10 vehicles are what most people would think of as 'American' because of the name of the company that makes them. According to, that's a record low for the Detroit automakers.

Funny, but the Jeep products don't make the list.

In the news article, Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12, makes the point very well:

"My wife has always wanted a [Chrysler] PT Cruiser, which is made in Mexico, so there will never be a PT Cruiser in my family."

Rather than purchase a vehicle made by his employer (or the employer of his union members), Baumhower supported the purchase of Jeep products, even when the profits from the sale of those items was going to the German company, Daimler. But if you thought you were 'buying American' by purchasing the Chrysler PT Cruiser, you're wrong, even if it means you're sabotaging the sales of your employer.

How is anyone supposed to know what's 'acceptable' these days? In a global market where companies have plants all over the world, employ workers in markets where they hope to sell their cars, and where everyone is dependent upon trade with everyone else, how is a concerned buyer supposed to make a good decision?

Is it better to purchase a Japanese car made in Ohio by fellow Ohioans or to purchase a Detroit automaker vehicle made in Mexico by your employer? Which is 'better'????

Or is the decision supposed to hinge upon the unionization status of the workers? If so, then why would a unionized plan in Mexico making PT Cruisers be off limits?

What? You didn't know that Mexico had unions? Confederacion de Trabajadores Mexicanos, CTM, is Mexico's largest union and it represents the workers at the PT Cruiser facility in Toluca.

Maybe it's just UAW union plants that count.

This whole thing is just another way for unions to control their members and the politicians. Do you think Gerken will suffer any consequences for this purchase? The UAW did give him tens of thousands of dollars for his first campaign for commissioner. Will he get as much financial support for his next one? Or will the union decide that a Democrat is still better than any Republican opponent, even a Democrat with a Honda in the garage?


I couldn't let this story go by with commenting on the decision to even publish a story about what kind of car some politician's wife drives. Does anyone else find it 'selective' that The Blade thinks this is worthy of a 742-word story but they didn't even mention the Commissioners vote to impose Project Labor Agreements for Lucas County bidders?

PLAs will increase the costs of government, force unionization on private employers and their workers and, interestingly, were opposed by The Blade the last time they were tried in Lucas County. Yet the paper never even mentioned the issue, despite covering the meetings at which they were discussed on voted upon.

Yet the paper thinks this is worthy of a front-page story on their second section.


New twist on scam emails - claiming to be U.S. military

We've all seen the emails - spam, that is - from the person we've never heard of who suddenly wants to give us millions of dollars, just because.

They usually start out with some sort of sob story about how the sender is dying and can't trust anyone in their own family; or the 'legal representative' (rarely says attorney or lawyer) who wants to send you money on behalf of some client. You've never heard of them but somehow they've decided you are the person to benefit.

We know they're scams and, other than the entertainment factor of seeing how they're trying to convince you to turn over all your personal identifying information and bank account numbers, we usually delete them, perhaps blocking the email address.

I expect, with a public email that I use for my blog and on air, that I'll get my share of these messages, along with a host of others. But the most recent twist on these scams really set me off.

I've now received three emails, all claiming to be from members of our U.S. Military, stationed somewhere overseas. They claim to have come across some cash that they want to ship home - but they need help. The first one claimed to be a Marine who wanted my help because he'd found gold and could convert it there in Iraq, but still needed someone in the U.S.

While I'm certain that no group of humans, including our military, is perfect, I hold our military in high respect and don't believe the vast majority of them, having come across someone else's treasure, would steal it - and then enlist my help to bring it home..

That some scammers believe this shakedown approach would be successful says a lot about what they think we think about our U.S. forces. Do they really think we'd believe that our soldiers and sailors, airmen and guard would behave in such a deceptive manner? And, if so, what gave them this impression?

Perhaps they think we'd believe the subterfuge because we put our faith in those who willingly offer themselves for our protection. But the scam's efforts to turn that trust into a way to take advantage of us sorely underestimates what the American people believe and expect from these brave individuals who serve in the armed forces.

I don't believe anyone reading the scam email will believe it's really a member of the U.S. military. In fact, knowing how most people think of our military, using this approach is more likely to ensure the email gets delated. And that's a good thing, because the recipients won't get caught up in the con game.

It's also good because it proves that, regardless of what others may think, we have the utmost confidence in the men and women sworn to protect our Constitution and our lives. They have earned our trust and respect.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is a residential neighborhood the right place for an intermodal facility?

Over the last year, there was a lot of talk about an inter modal facility in Toledo. One of the locations identified for expansion is Airline Junction near the University of Toledo's Scott Park Campus.

View Larger Map

As you can see, this area is surrounded by residential homes and really doesn't have room to expand. It's about a 2-mile stretch, consisting of rail and truck operations.

As explained in an economic impact analysis by the University of Toledo, the plan is to double the number of lifts at this facility from roughly 28,000 to around 60,000.

While there are sufficient industrial sites suitable for support companies within a 5-mile radius of the junction, I cannot help but wonder what the neighbors will think of a doubling of the activity so close to a residential section of our city.

For comparison, there is a large inter modal facility in Memphis, TN:

View Larger Map

Friends and family in Memphis told me that the major road running parallel to the facility is only traveled on weekdays when absolutely necessary due to the amount of truck traffic. Because of the lights and intersections, the fully-loaded trucks are very slow and never quite get up to the speed limit until they actually reach the highways, making driving alongside them rather frustrating.

Fortunately, this area in Memphis is industrial with no pedestrian or bike traffic to compete with the heavy trucks.

But that's not the case in Toledo.

Within about 2,000 feet of Airline Junction are five schools, including Libby High School, St. Charles School, and two elementary schools: Burroughs and Arlington. There are four parks/playgrounds within that distance as well.

I'm all in favor of pursuing inter modal transportation within the Toledo area. During my campaign for, and time in office as a county commissioner, I advocated for a focus on transportation.

And while I realize Airline Junction is an existing facility with some potential for growth, I think we need to plan better and take into account all factors, including the impact any expansion will have on the established residential neighbors and the roads used by an increased number of trucks.

My wish is that emphasis on expanding inter modal transportation would focus on our existing ports (water and air) where there is plenty of room for expansion without negatively impacting the residential life cherished by Toledoans.

But if the only place willing to put forth private money (in addition to all the tax dollars going to support it) is within a residential neighborhood, I hope the politicians will think ahead about how to deal with the impact - and not do what they usually do, which is wait until after the fact when they start getting phone calls from their constituents.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Futility, thy name is 'security'

After a failed attempt to blow up an airplane on approach to Detroit Metro, the Department of Homeland Security decided to ramp up security measures at airports across the nation, telling travelers to arrive four hours ahead of time.

The problem is that increased screening of Americans isn't going to address the problem.

Every time the government sees a potential way to do harm to people on an airplane, they institute some new restriction or screening measure. Of course, people who really want to do harm will quickly find out about the new procedure/process and promptly begin to develop another method to get around it.

We're not allowed to bring more than three ounces of liquids on a plane. That didn't stop the idiot on Christmas Day from finding a way to get more than that amount on board - he just figured out a way around the screening.

The issue is not - and never has been - the materials. It's the behavior.

Anyone who has paid attention to security matters when traveling since 2001 will know that one-way tickets, paid with cash, and no luggage are huge warnings that should set off alarms all across the airport. Add to those tell-tale signs the fact that the man's father warned the U.S. about his son's radical ideas and you can see that the problem isn't the 'rules' but how the government failed to do anything with key facts that should have at least led to further questioning of an individual prior to getting on a plane, or having his name on a no-fly list.

Instead, we're all going to be subject to further intrusion in our lives, long delays in travel and the erosion of our liberties so the government can look like it's doing something to help keep us safe. Of course, no government can ever 'keep us safe' when they're more interested in little old ladies and how much shampoo they've got than in actually evaluating intelligence data that is pertinent to the safety issue.

Our government creates new laws or rules for travel and then goes about enforcing them. (The most recent ones are that you can't have a coat or blanket in your lap or go to the restroom one hour before landing.) That's a much different process than preventing terrorist attacks. Law enforcement focuses on catching a criminal after a crime has been committed. Stopping terrorism depends upon noticing, and then stopping, harmful intentions before they occur.

The travel security measures all look for the 'bomb' ... not the 'bomber.'

The Israelis have it right when it comes to screening for potential terrorists: they look for behavior, not supplies. They look for 'threats,' not 'risk.'

For instance, knives, scissors and other sharp objects are prohibited from carry-on luggage. If I happened to be traveling with said items, I would be a risk. But I'm not a threat. I have no intention of hurting myself or others or of committing an act of terrorism. So while those items would be 'safe' in my possession, they wouldn't be if in the possession of a terrorist.

Ah, but detecting who is and isn't a terrorist is much harder work than just forbidding everyone from carrying scissors on board a plane. And that's why terrorists will continue to find a way around the rules created to avert 'risk' and why we'll continue to have attempts from people who pose a 'threat.'

Our approach is futile. It won't stop terrorism, but does infringe upon everyone in the process. It reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's famous quote:

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

As I write this on Christmas Eve, I cannot help but think of the fun and joy we'll have tonight and tomorrow with our families and friends.

I'm grateful that both Sam's family and mine put special importance on being together whenever the opportunity arises, but especially at the holidays.

We'll host our Christmas Eve open house tonight, and tomorrow will have brunch with my family and dinner with Sam's. It will be hectic, loud (in some places - lol), fun and joyous. I hope you will have the same!

Even though we need no reminding, here are some quotes about family and friends - and why they're so important.

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.” ~ Desmond Tutu

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.” ~ Kendall Hailey

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.” ~ Richard Bach

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." ~ Robert Frost

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” ~ Edna Buchanan

"The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing." ~ Unknown

"A family in harmony will prosper in everything." ~ Chinese proverb

"Family is the most important thing in the world." ~ Princess Diana

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not-so-pleasant 'surprises' in Senate's Obamacare bill

* In case you missed my interview last night with Erick Erickson of, here is his column detailing the very scary provision in the health bill that prevents future Senates and Houses of Representatives from changing, amending or repealing regulations imposed by the unelected, bureaucratic "Independent Medicare Advisory Boards" - the new government agency people were calling a 'death panel.'

You must read the post and the transcript of the Senate discussion in order to understand just how dramatic this is. Not only is the Senate violating its own rules to put this 'forever' provision in place, they're imposing upon the House and their ability to make changes in the future.

* Another little gem reported by The Wall Street Journal This Morning radio show, deals with construction companies with fewer than 50 employees.

Most of the mandates on businesses to provide health insurance to employees or face penalties apply to companies with 50 or more employees. But Sen. Jeff Merkley (D - OR) thinks small construction firms - with more than five employees and payrolls of more than $250,000 - should be included. So he inserted an amendment that places the mandate on these particular businesses as well.

And this is the only industry that will have the mandate on companies with five or more employees.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesman for Sen. Merkley said this was to address the problem of fairness in bidding:

Ms. Edwards said the goal was to level the playing field for companies that have to bid against others who might not be providing health-care coverage. She said 90% of construction firms employ fewer than 20 employees, so with the 50-employee threshold, most of the construction industry would have been exempt, she said.

Think about the logic here - beyond the difference between large and small companies. The government is creating a new law that puts some companies at a disadvantage in the marketplace. So their solution to the interference in a free market is to apply to the mandate to almost everyone in a single industry.

If this needs to be 'fair' in the construction industry, then why not in the plastics industry, or the janitorial industry, or any industry???? Why not everyone, since the logic of competitive disadvantage applies to all?

Can you say 'stuck on stupid'?

I believe these little hidden 'bombs' are part of the reason they want this rushed through - so we don't know about them and don't object. In fact, CNSNews reported on a recent Zogby poll that showed:

More than 80 percent of Americans agree that Congress drafts lengthy, complex bills to hide spending on special interests and to prevent constituents from understanding what's in them before a vote is taken, according to a new survey.

According to a Zogby poll conducted last week, 83.5 percent of respondents agreed at least “somewhat” with the lengthy-bill premise, and 61.2 percent of Americans agreed strongly. Only 14.4 percent disagreed, and just 5.8 percent did so strongly.

I've not read the manager's report that contained all the agreed-upon amendments, but am glad some are doing so - and actually reporting on them. Unfortunately, the outrage of the American public over the health care bill doesn't seem to have any impact whatsoever on the politicians in Washington. They don't care what we think or want them to do, so our objection to certain items in the amendments won't stop them from passing this abomination.

Even after so many of them couldn't cite where in the Constitution they get the authority to mandate the purchase of product with imprisonment as the consequence of not doing so, they are going to vote on the Constitutionality of the health care bill. I doubt they'll take testimony from 'constitutional scholars' before doing so...and that the vote will run along party lines with a 60-40 outcome.

If they don't care about this basic, core question, what makes us think they'll care if we object to a minor provision trying to 'level the playing field' in the construction industry, especially knowing that they're the ones who made it unlevel in the first place?

Laugh of the Day

Last night on WSPD, I talked briefly about buying a Mega Millions lottery ticket and how, if I won, I wouldn't need health insurance because I'd have the ability to pay for any medical treatment on my own. I wondered, then, why I'd be put in jail (under both Senate and House versions of the bill) for failing to purchase a product I clearly did not need.

That led fellow blogger Tim Higgins to send me the following message, providing the Laugh of the Day:


It occurred to me after listening to your discussion of a winning lottery ticket on the show today that you could win, take the smaller single payout, pay the taxes, PAY OFF THE EXPECTED $40,000,000 DEBT IN THE TOLEDO BUDGET, and still have enough left over for you and Sam to live comfortably for the rest of your days.

Maybe the city should be playing the lottery....


Tim Higgins

Alas, I was not the winner.

Quote of the Day

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." ~ Patrick Henry

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If we deny it, it didn't happen

Well, that seems to be the perspective the ousted Lucas County Republican Party chairman Jon Stainbrook is taking regarding last night's vote to remove him.

Stainbrook trotted forth an individual named Ben Roberts, who was identified as the parliamentarian for the Party. Roberts said 'he' didn't recognize any of the votes that were taken to remove Stainbrook and central committee chair Megan Gallagher.

I guess he should go back and read Roberts Rules of Order. According to this official guide, members do have the ability to call a meeting to order and appoint a temporary chairman. This is what the body did last night.

Members do have the ability to present, second and vote on a motion to suspend the rules. By voting in favor of this motion, the body was able to address items on the agenda that were not part of the published meeting notice. This is what the body did last night.

The spin put on this meeting by the local paper is just appalling.

One of the claims made in this report is that many of the individuals present were not members of the central committee. Since there is a sign-in sheet, this should be easy to determine. If, indeed, the people voting were members of the central committee, then the votes should be valid.

Look at the terms used to describe the event:

"raucous attempt by enemies of Chairman Jon Stainbrook"

"opponents claimed they elected a new chairman" (emphasis added)

"Ironically, the attack on Mr. Stainbrook’s leadership occurred just a few days after he was successful in lining up ... Karl Rove" (emphasis added - isn't calling something 'ironic' expressing an opinion?)

"anti-Stainbrook forces"

"Stainbrook overthrew the “old guard” of the party that he said was still allied with disgraced former chairman Noe."

"Stainbrook has won plaudits"

The story focuses on Stainbrook's claim that this whole event was orchestrated by former state representative and current Board of Elections member Lynn Olman. Of course Stainbrook thinks that - he always believes someone is out to get him, which is why he lives by vendettas, constantly trying to 'get even' with those he thinks have wronged him in some way. Sadly, other than Stainbrook and Gallagher's claims, there is no evidence that this was orchestrated by Olman - as opposed to a large number of Republicans who serve on the central committee.

In the end, Stainbrook has only himself to blame for the general dissatisfaction members of the committee have with him. His actions against fellow Republicans - endorsing new taxes, endorsing a Toledo city council member who raises taxes while not endorsing Sylvania Township trustees who lower taxes, threatening lawsuits every time you turn around, as well as his close relationship with John Robinson Block, the publisher of The Blade and someone who has never had the best interests of the LCRP at heart - all contributed, I'm sure, to the decision by the majority to remove him.

But it's not over. Stainbrook is denying the actions and claiming to still be chair. And, of course, he's threatening legal action.

So there are now two claims to party leadership in our local GOP. Fortunately, there are provisions in Ohio law for when two competing organizations claim to be the official party for a county. Ohio Revised Code 3517.05:

If more than one organized group claims to be the rightful county central or executive committee, each such group shall file a list of its officers and members as provided in section 3517.06 of the Revised Code, and the board of elections with which such lists are filed shall certify them to the state central committee of the party concerned. The state central committee shall meet within thirty days after receipt of such certification and forthwith determine and certify which committee shall be recognized as the rightful county central or executive committee.

I don't expect there to be questions about the 'rightful' central committee since those members are duly elected during the even-year primaries. So the question will be about the executive committee and whether or not the meeting was properly called to order and motions properly heard.

And as I explained in my previous post, it doesn't hurt that one of the individuals charged with deciding which party is the 'official' one happens to be the newly-elected chairman of the central committee.

Stay tuned....

Monday, December 21, 2009

LCRP has a new chairman

NOTE: New Chairman Jeff Simpson will be my guest on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD at 3:30 tomorrow!

Here's what I understand are the events that occurred this evening during a scheduled meeting of the Lucas County Republican Party Central Committee.

The meeting was called and scheduled by Megan Gallagher, who was the chairman of the central committee, to address a couple of minor issues within the party, one dealing with how members of the central committee are nominated - either by declaration or by acquiring five signatures within their precincts.

Apparently, Megan and now former chairman Jon Stainbrook, were not expecting even a small number of central committee members to show up, because they did not have chairs/space for the over 100 members of the committee.

When over 100 people showed up for the meeting, a scramble began to figure out where the committee could meet and Stainbrook opened up an unused floor above the current county offices.

There appeared to be an issue with who could attend this public meeting with some reports that Stainbrook was preventing anyone who was not a member of the committee from going upstairs into the meeting room. However, while committee members were required to be checked in, eventually it appears that others were allowed to observe the proceedings.

There was no heat in the meeting area - and lighting was not very good. Stainbrook and Gallagher stayed out of the meeting room well past the start time of 6 p.m.

My understanding is that around 6:45, a member of the central committee, tired of waiting for the meeting to begin, asked the membership if they wanted to go ahead and call the meeting to order and begin.

Apparently, there was a motion to do so, which passed and Chris Myers was named temporary chairman to conduct the meeting.

I understand that the first order of business was a motion to suspend the rules of the party, which passed. I do not know the details of the discussions but the committee voted to remove Megan Gallagher and the other officers of the central committee and they elected Paul Hoag as the new chairman of the central committee.

Hoag then ran the rest of the meeting.

Further business included a vote to remove Stainbrook as the chairman of the executive committee (the chairman of the party position) and, subsequently, all his individual appointments to the executive committee. This left only the members of the executive committee identified in the party bylaws as members. Those individuals are state central committee reps, ward chairmen, presidents of clubs with more than 25 members, past party chairmen and elected officials.

Jeff Simpson was then nominated and voted in as the chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party. Jeff was the president of the Young Republicans and has been a candidate for district city council in Toledo. He is an attorney.

The press release issued by the party:


By a majority vote of the duly elected / appointed member of the Lucas County Republican Central Committee have elected Paul Hoag to serve as chairman of the central committee. Immediately there after members elected Jeff Simpson as Chairman of the executive Committee.

When asked for comment about theses unprecedented turn of events Jeff Simpson stated "I am honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve the Lucas County Republican Party. I look forward to serving all Lucas County Republicans and working to recruit and elect qualified Republicans to all levels of government."

I also understand that during the meeting, Stainbrook attempted to get his supporters to the meeting, to no avail. He and his supporters disrupted the meeting by yelling and shouting, claiming that the meeting and votes were not legitimate. There were threats to call the Fire Marshall in order to try and halt the meeting and it is rumored that the police were called, though I do not know if they showed up.

*Update: I've confirmed that the police were called and did respond (three cars), and asked everyone to clear the building. This was after the meeting was adjourned, but happened while the new leadership was getting committee members to sign an attendance sheet so they would have their own record of members at the meeting.

Quite a few of the central committee members were recording the meeting and I was told that Stainbrook's supporters tried to stop all the recordings. But with today's cell phones and smart phones, they eventually gave up. The video from the meeting will prove to be very interesting, I'm sure. (If anyone posts it, I will link to you so you can see for yourself.)

I also know that Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine was informed of the events and asked to support the new, duly-elected leadership of the party.

I do not know if he pledged to do so, but it appears the issue may be presented to the Ohio Republican Party's State Central Committee. In such instances, the state central committee looks to the county members for guidance and advice on action to take.

Interestingly, the state central committee members from Lucas County are Jonathan Binkley, former party chairman Dee Talmage, JoAnn Wack and .... Paul Hoag, the newly-elected chairman of the local central committee.

Any question what they're going to recommend?

This came as a complete and total surprise to Stainbrook who did not expect even half of the central committee to show up and who was threatening legal action as a result.

It also comes with plenty of time for the state party to recognize the new leadership long before Lynn Olman's current term on the Lucas County Board of Elections expires and the party chairman is asked to recommend someone for that position.

This was a nice Christmas present for Lucas County Republicans - to have adults, and true Republicans, in charge of the local party.

Happy Winter!

Today is the first day of Winter.

(Aren't you glad you know that???)

This day has both good and bad about it. I like it because it's the shortest daylight of the year, which means that, from now on, the sun will rise earlier and set later, giving us more daylight every day. That's a really good thing.

However, it is the first day of Winter, which means we've got roughly 90 days of snowy, cold, icy, icky weather to go. That's a bad thing.

Winter does have some advantages, like ice boating (check out videos on YouTube if you've never seen this) and ice skating, but while they help distract us from the weather, winter just seems too long to me and I'm ready for it to be over by about mid-February.

So whether you love it, hate it, or think it just a necessary part of the seasons, Happy First Day of Winter!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

"To live is messy but liberating: free societies enable the citizenry to fulfill their potential – to innovate, to create, to accumulate – while recognizing that some of their number will fail. But to attempt to insulate free peoples from moral hazard is debilitating and ultimately fatal." ~ Mark Steyn

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In Case You Missed It ...

Most people who get their news from the Internet didn't miss the news of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objecting to the unanimous consent to forgo the reading of health care bill amendment SA#2837 (co-sponsored by our Sen. Sherrod Brown). As a result of his objection, the clerk started to read the 767-page document - a process that was estimated to take about 38 hours.

The issue made news when, violating Senate rules, the amendment was withdrawn during the reading process.

However, you might have missed what happened just prior to Coburn's objection.

Sen. Coburn asked unanimous consent for an amendment certifying that all senators had read and understood the bill prior to voting on it:

"Mr. President, I have another unanimous consent request. Following consent request would be associated with a Coburn amendment that would certify that every member of the Senate has read the bill and understands it before they vote on the bill. And the reason I ask the unanimous consent that that amendment be agreed to and accepted is that's exactly what the American people expect us to be doing. And so we don't have a bill right now. We don't know what's going to be in the bill. The chairman has a good idea of what's going to be in the bill, but he doesn't know for sure. Only two sets of people, Senator Reid and his staff and CBO know what's going to be in the bill. I suspect somebody at the White House might. But we ought to -- we ought to take and embrace this idea of transparency and responsibility that the American people can expect every one of us to have read this bill plus the amended bill and certify that we have an understanding for what we're doing to health care in America with this bill. And I'd ask unanimous consent that that be accepted."

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) objected and here is the exchange:

"Reserving the right to object, I certainly agree with the basic underlying import that we should know what we're voting on here. I must say to my good friend that presumes a certain level of perception on my part and understanding in delving into the minds of the senator, that not only do they read, but take the time to understand. What does understand mean? Understand the first, second levels of questions? I think it is impossible to certify that any senator fully understood."

Senator Coburn: (12:00 PM) Responded.

"I would clarify my request, that the individual certify themselves. I'm not asking some group of senators to certify some other senator. I'm saying Tom Coburn tell his constituency, I've read this puppy, I've spent the time on it, I've read the manager's amendment, and I, in fact, certify to the people of Oklahoma, I know how terrible it's going to be for their health care."

Senator Baucus: (12:01 PM) Responded.

"The senator is always free to make any representation he wants. If he wants to certify he has read it, he has understood it, that's the senator's privilege."

So, the Senators, prior to voting do not have to certify to the American people that they have read - and understood - what they're voting on.

Personally, I think every bill in the House and Senate needs to have this certification on it. Maybe then, we'd have less ridiculousness coming out of Washington.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"...and by the way, Mr.Speaker, the Second Amendment is not for killing little ducks and leaving Huey and Dewey and Louie without an aunt and uncle. It's for hunting politicians, like in Grozny, and in the colonies in 1776, or when they take your independence away." ~ Robert Dornan, US Congressman (CA-R)

"How should it happen that the individual should be without rights, but the combination of individuals should possess unlimited rights?" ~ Auberon Herbert

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest hosting on WSPD

I'll have light postings through next Tuesday because I'll be filling in for Brian Wilson from 3-6 p.m. on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD.

We're playing musical chairs due to morning show host Fred LeFebvre's vacation.

I'll try to post links to the issues we discuss on air after the show, but I'll hope you'll join me for the conversations!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Does Toledo home weatherization program prove that stimulus funds weren't needed

WSPD News is reporting the following:

Applicants Still Sought for Home Weatherizing

Funded with $8M in Stimulus Money
By WSPD's Nik Rajkovic

A large portion of federal stimulus money is still available to qualified homeowners in Lucas County to install new insulation, repair windows or replace water heaters. William Farnsel with Neighborhood Housing Services says the agency now is going door-to-door with applications.

Farnsel says so far the agency will have completed 240 projects by the end of this year, and still has to complete 1,000 within 22 months.

Let's get this straight: too few people have signed up so this agency is going door-to-door to try and find enough people eligible for the transfer of wealth?

This is a prime example of the stupidity involved in the stimulus program and in government in general. They've given a sum of money to Toledo and a sub-contracted agency for a particular purpose, only to find that there isn't as large a demand for that particular purpose as they'd thought.

I can only wonder what the impact would have been if they sent out people to sign up 'qualified homeowners' and then funded ONLY the ones that got signed up.

Instead, NHS got $8,479,475 to 'weatherize' 1,000 low-income homes. What they don't tell you is that it doesn't equate to $8,479.48 per house. No - they're paying NHS staff and inspectors and technicians. Ohio, which divvied up the total allotment of $266,781,409, also authorized the purchase of several trucks and vans, infrared cameras, blower doors, combustion analyzers, insulation blowing machines, and additional safety equipment with the funds. And just for good measure, they funded training courses to meet demand due to the considerable increase of crew and contractor based personnel hiring they expected would be the result of the program.

And to what effect? Toledo's got a ton of money it's having trouble spending.

Of course, most of us aren't eligible for this 'assistance.' I happen to need a new hot water heater, one of the energy-efficiency items that are authorized under the program. But because my husband and I earn more than 200% of the poverty level, we've paid taxes to fund the program but will never see any benefit from it.

So because our tax burden is so high, we have to scrimp and save in order to be able to afford a new energy-efficient hot water heater. But those same tax dollars we're paying (instead of buying the item) are going to someone else so they can get a new energy-efficient hot water heater 'for free.'

And, of course, those politicians in Washington and Columbus and in One Government Center will be certain to take credit for 'helping' the poor with other peoples' money.

What a wonderful system we have.

Commissioners approve PLAs while cutting positions

You wouldn't know it from the coverage in the paper, but yesterday the Lucas County Commissioners voted unanimously to increase the costs of all projects they undertake.

They did so by approving a new policy requiring project labor agreements for all construction projects valued at $25,000 or greater. The resolution setting the new policy calls for the county to negotiate an agreement with the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council (and/or its affiliates) and for all bidders on county projects to include a provision in the bid requiring the successful bidder - and all their contractors and subcontractors - to adhere to the PLA negotiated by the county for that specific project.

So the county is going to negotiate terms of employment for the companies who win the bids???? Government isn't just dictating such things as minimum wage and safety provisions, now they're actively colluding with unions to force unionization upon their citizens. That's what PLAs do - they require union dues to be paid by workers for the duration of the project. They also traditionally require companies to contribute to union health care and pension funds during the duration of the project, even though the non-union employees of the company will never see any of those funds because they're 'members' of the union only during the project.

But the Commissioners don't stop with just the successful bidder. They apply this forced unionization to every other party the bidder wants to use!

How much extra do you think this is going to cost taxpayers???

At the same meeting where they passed this increased cost, they eliminated six management positions in an effort to balance their budget for next year.

Stuck on stupid? Insanity? Payback to unions? You decide - my head hurts thinking about it.

There are two strange parts about the passage of this policy:

1) the 'statutory authority' cited on the resolution, and

2) the absence of Blade coverage of the action in light of their past position on this very same policy.

The 'statutory authority' citation appears on each resolution presented to the Board of County Commissioners. This came about because as a commissioner I constantly asked where, in the Ohio Revised Code, we had the authority to do many of the things that were being presented to us. I wanted the statutory authority clearly cited on the resolutions.

If the staff or sponsoring commissioner couldn't find any authority in the code, I voted against the resolution. Commissioners and county government are creatures of state statute. Without specific authority to address an issue, they cannot act. This is a long-established legal precedent in Ohio.

The statutory authority reference for this new PLA policy is listed as ORC 305.30. Interestingly, this relatively short section of the ORC details the powers and duties of the county administrator.

I suppose that since they're making the county administrator the person responsible for entering into the labor contract, there is a bit of relevance to the resolution. But they don't address where they have the authority to require a PLA in the first place. They only reference their authority to direct the county administrator, not where the authority to implement a PLA comes from.

This is certainly a stretch. Just because you direct the county administrator to perform a task, it doesn't mean you have the authority to order the task. But if no one is checking, the Commissioners get away with such 'illogic' in their actions.

They do state, in the summary of the resolution, that PLAs are legal under federal and Ohio law, though they give no evidence to support that statement. I guess the commissioners all missed the recent news that the federal government yanked a project in New Hampshire due to problems with the PLA requirement.

Another oddity is the change in the language of the resolution. The first one that was introduced included an actual contract - with the terms of the project labor agreement spelled out in detail. This current approved resolution only has three provisions attached (as you can see in the link to the document). I believe this was done to give the commissioners coverage for actual terms of the agreements - leaving it up to the county administrator to negotiate.

Here's a question for you: how often do you think the final terms of the PLAs will differ from the union-written contract language that was included in the first resolution?

The second issue is the lack of media coverage. This is a huge cost increase to taxpayers and an economic development/business killer. At a time when the county is trying to cut costs to balance their budget and everyone is talking about how we attract businesses to the area, how does this help? It doesn't - but with the main stream media in the area ignoring the issue, most residents are blissfully unaware.

This same proposal to implement PLAs was tried - and failed - in 1996. At the time, the editors called it payback to the unions for their support - and blasted the policy as contrary to a economic development efforts.

(click for larger view)

A search of 'project labor agreement' on the websites of The Blade, the Toledo Free Press and the four television stations showed no articles on the subject. So why no news coverage of an issue that will increase the cost of county construction projects at a time that the county has no money?

Is this a testament of the power of the unions? Or a reflection on the media in the area? I don't know...

But I do know that this is 'not business friendly,' not budget friendly, not taxpayer friendly and an all-around really bad idea.

The question, now, is whether or not, like in 1997, the policy will be repealed. But with the lack of attention to the issue, I expect not.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bill of Rights Day

I didn't realize it was actually a 'day,' but according to Holiday Insights, it is - and today is the date the 10 Amendments - the Bill of Rights - were added to the Constitution.

Originally, 12 amendments were proposed, but two of them (one dealing with the number of representatives per population and the other dealing with representative pay) were not implemented. However, the pay amendment was ratified in 1992 and is now the 27th Amendment.

There were some, at the time, who thought that the Constitution did not provide enough protection against tyranny by the central government. They believed that the document needed to spell out the 'immunities of individual citizens.' Several states, upon ratification of the Constitution, asked for several amendments while other states ratified the document with the expectation that certain amendments would be added.

The amendments were first proposed on September 25, 1789 and were implemented December 15, 1791. Today, some would say, the content of the Amendments are more widely known and referenced than the original document.

From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration:

The Bill of Rights: A Transcription

The Preamble to The Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

(Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights.")

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Cleveland's foreclosure mess made worse by government

The City of Cleveland contributed to the foreclosure crisis by helping low income people buy homes with mortgage payments they couldn't afford. So far, the loss in the federally-funded Afford-a-Home program is $2.3 million.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has the special investigative report:

The city of Cleveland has aggravated its vexing foreclosure problems and has lost millions in tax dollars by helping people buy homes they could not afford, a Plain Dealer investigation has found.

The city provided mostly low-income buyers with down payment loans of up to $20,000 through the federally funded Afford-A-Home program, but did little to determine whether the people could actually afford to keep their homes.

That lack of oversight persisted for years, even as hundreds of loan recipients defaulted on mortgages, many within two years, the newspaper found by analyzing property and loan records covering the period between 2000 and 2007.

For example, nearly half of 584 homes sold by the top three for-profit companies that tapped into the program over the eight years have gone into foreclosure. More than one-third of those homes have sold at sheriff's sale or sit abandoned because banks did not take them back.

What makes that so costly to taxpayers is that the city has virtually no chance of recouping its investment once a property is sold at sheriff's sale.

The loss in Afford-A-Home dollars from failed purchases from Cresthaven Development Corp., Rysar Properties Inc. and Pebblebrook Properties Inc. thus far totals more than $2.3 million.

Presented with the newspaper's findings, city officials acknowledged problems with the Afford-A-Home program and ordered tighter eligibility standards for buyers and sellers.

And Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog correctly looks at the failure of 'government oversight' and the voters in the fiasco:

CRA mandated that banks originating first-lien mortgages extend them to undeserving borrowers, or face brutal challenges to their ability to continue in business during regulators’ audits and to other business moves such as mergers and acquisitions. As would be expected, short-term survival instincts overcame sound underwriting. Now, according to leftists, it’s the banks’ fault for doing what they were intimidated into doing.

But then, proving again that the term “government oversight” is usually an oxymoron, the city agency, even with no similar level of threat looming in the background, doubled down. Even if the apps were submitted by development companies who should have known better or were lying about certain key information (that appears to be the case in two sidebar stories Gillespie relates), that doesn’t excuse the complete failure of oversight, and absolutely doesn’t justify the program’s continuance on auto-pilot for many years despite obvious early-stage problems.

Many in Cleveland still persist on blaming someone else for why the city’s foreclosure situation is much worse that the vast majority of other cities in the US. Look in the mirror, guys. Every city’s bankers faced similar CRA problems, and to the extent they did what first-lien lenders in Cleveland did, you can hang the blame on Uncle Sam and CRA. But it’s Cleveland’s residents who elected the people who created the agency that threw federal second-mortgage money at people with apparently little if any concern over whether it would be repaid, ultimately turning entire city blocks into barren wastelands. Though it’s a popular claim among lefty bloggers in and around Metro Cleveland (maybe “Metro Mistake” is a more appropriate term), George Bush and the evil Republicans sure as heck didn’t do this.

I wonder what the the records in Toledo would show? As Blumer says, "Journalists there ought to get to work."

Getting the wrong message

I was listening to the newscast this morning on WSPD and heard a sound clip of Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara talking about his recent election and his current 'exploratory' committee for the Ohio Senate seat being vacated by Theresa Fedor due to term limits.

In the sound bite, he touts his first-place finish in November for the at-large council seats. He was saying that people liked the work he was doing on so council so much that they put him in the number one position.

That is a logical assumption, but he then takes it to an illogical conclusion by saying that he should (perhaps), as a result, run for a different office.

Yes, that's right. His (il)logic is that people are so pleased with what he's done on council that he should leave that position - the one he's just been re-elected (but not yet sworn in) to.

I think he got the wrong message. Or maybe, he got the right message, but has decided to spin it to meet his own agenda.

The problem is, if he decides to run for Ohio Senate (and I believe he will - I don't think he can resist), he'll get a lot of support - and he may actually win. And that will just reinforce the illogical conclusions, causing more politicians to get the wrong message.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

Because we're doing Christmas decorating - including our tree - and I'd rather focus on that than on a political blog post today:

"If the legislature clearly misinterprets a Constitutional provision, the frequent repetition of the wrong will not create a right." ~ Amos v. Mosley, 77 SO 619. Also see Kingsley v. Metril, 99 NW 1044

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Caveat emptor vs. victimization

Let the buyer beware!

I was just astounded by this story in today's paper about a woman suing her lender and others because she's in a house she cannot afford.

First, she's not a victim, despite the way she is portrayed.

She purchased a house for more than it was worth and blames appraisers for valuing the house too high. She cannot afford her payments and blames the bank for giving her the loans when "they knew she lived on a Social Security disability payment and could not afford the payments on loans she was approved for in 2002 and 2006."

According to the article:

"...she's waging a battle against mortgage banking giant HSBC and a string of appraisers and mortgage brokers who she contends took advantage of her lack of experience in real estate to saddle her with huge loans."

Excuse me????

The banks didn't saddle her with huge loans - she did that when she signed the paperwork.

Here are the questions I want her to answer - questions not even remotely addressed in the article:

1. What was the asking price of the house when you bought it and what price did you settle on?

2. Did you compare the sale price of the house to other homes in the area? Did YOU research the value of the house and surrounding homes on the Auditor's website? Did YOU question why the house was for sale for so much more than the value? Did you hire your own appraiser or did you just rely upon the ones selected by the mortgage company/bank?

3. If you paid $55,000 for the house, why do you now have a mortgage of $88,000? Why did you take out loans for more than the purchase price of the house and how did you spend that additional money?

4. If the bank was supposed to know that you couldn't afford the payments on the loan you were taking out, why didn't YOU????

5. Why did you sign loan papers for a mortgage that was higher than what you could afford?

6. Why do you have two loans? If you were having trouble with the first one, why did you take out a second one?

7. Why are your errors now a problem for the other party in the transaction?

8. What were your responsibilities in the transaction? Aren't YOU to blame for your situation - after all, it's not like someone held a gun to your head and forced you to take out a loan to buy a house.

9. Where do you currently work and how many jobs do you have? If you have financial obligations, what are you doing to meet them?

These are the things I want to know. Don't you? There are too many people these days who'd rather play the victim than take responsibility for themselves, their actions and their mistakes.

And then she plays the race card, saying all this is because she's an African-American woman. Of course, there are plenty of white people who are in similar situations - they purchased homes/took out mortgages they knew they couldn't afford and are now in a difficult situation - facing foreclosure or bankruptcy or both.

This is not to say that I don't have compassion for a woman who is trying to care for her children, but my compassion for her current situation does not negate the need for her to take responsibility for how she ended up there.

Suing everyone because she made massive mistakes in purchasing her house is not taking responsibility. She's trying to make herself into a victim, when she's the one to blame. And there are too many people and organizations who are standing by to help her in this regard.

That's what sets me off when it comes to these types of situations, which are just too numerous these days: people who refuse to admit their own ignorance or stupidity put them into a difficult situation and that it's no one else's fault by their own that they were ignorant or stupid.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The negative consequences of meddling

The issue of the South Toledo YMCA is again in the news. In case you've forgotten, the Y Board decided to close down that location and give the property to Cedar Creek Church.

A bunch of neighbors, fueled by the The Blade - followed quickly by politicians - all decided that the Y didn't have a clue when it comes to running a facility and that they knew better. They insisted that the location stay open, despite running at a deficit. The Y Board, trying to appease the negative publicity spewed daily on the front pages of the paper, offered a compromise: get 500 new memberships and the facility would be able to stay open.

Of course, that required 500 new people to join one of the older facilities - something that seemed impossible.

And it was.

The Y lowered the target to 376, but so far, only 111 new memberships have been placed - and that's despite the discounted rate they were offered.

So the facility will be closed.

And now the kicker: because of all the negative coverage, Cedar Creek Church is no longer interested in that location. From today's paper:

The Rev. Lee Powell, a senior pastor at the church, said yesterday that CedarCreek informed the Y about two week ago that it's no longer interested. The property was last appraised at $445,400.

The church planned to spend up to $2 million to convert the building into a chapel as part of a tentative deal struck earlier this year with the Y.

But the CedarCreek deal was put on hold following a public outcry over the YMCA's announcement that it would close the branch at the end of August.
Mr. Powell said the church lost interest because of inadequacies with the property's access road and "neighborhood sensitivity." He said CedarCreek is now looking at other locations in South Toledo.

"We don't want the demise of the membership drive to be our win," the pastor said. "We don't want to be a negative in the community - we want to be a positive."

So the meddling of all these people has resulted in (partly) the same outcome they were trying to avoid.

The Blade will be happy, though, because they were able to accomplish their vendetta and get rid of YMCA CEO Robert Alexander.

The politicians will be happy because they joined in the effort and will get/take credit for 'trying,' despite the fact that they had no impact whatsoever on the end result.

The neighborhood, however, is screwed. Yes, that very same neighborhood that some were saying needed the Y.

Instead of the Y, they would have had a church - certainly not a bad tenant of that property and a good neighbor to have. But now, thanks to the efforts of some, all in the neighborhood will have an empty structure since the church has decided they're no longer interested. That's a $2 million investment the church had planned that won't be made in that spot.

And in today's economy, it's not likely that the Y will find another party, with similar financial resources, interested in taking over a declining building.

So what was accomplished? The current outcome is worse than if the Y had just been able to make their same decision on their own timeline.

There are lessons to be learned here, but somehow, I don't think Toledoans will get it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cutting CEO pay does nothing to help 'the poor'

The Financial Times has an interesting headline which captured my attention: GE chief attacks executive 'greed.'

It's the same as what we're seeing in other stories - executives are greedy because they make so much money. There is no relation to the tasks they perform or the skills needed to lead such large organizations - just a critique on the amount of money because so many others don't have the same income.

But that aside, a particular comment from the GE chief really set me off - because it's not true and isn't challenged in the article:

“The bottom 25 per cent of the American population is poorer than they were 25 years ago. That is just wrong,” he said.

Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, disputes this claim - and, unlike the GE chief, has data from the Census Bureau and other government agencies to back it up.

In his testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Senate on September 25, 2008, Rector said:

Point #2 Most "poor" Americans are not "poor" in any normally understood sense of the word.

For most Americans, the word "poverty" suggests destitution: an inability to provide a family with nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter. But only a small number of the 37 million persons classified as "poor" by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity. Most of America's "poor" live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago. Today, the expenditures per person of the lowest-income one-fifth (or quintile) of households equal those of the median American household in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.[2]

For example, according to the government's own data, nearly two thirds of households defined by Census as "poor" have cable or satellite television. Eighty five percent have air conditioning.

Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, and cable or satellite TV reception. He has a VCR, a DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians.

He continues with specifics:

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

* Forty-three percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
* Eighty five percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 35 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
* Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
* The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
* Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
* Ninety-eight percent of poor households have a color television; two thirds own two or more color televisions
* Sixty four percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
* Nearly all have a VCR and a DVD player;
* Forty seven percent have a personal computer,
* Eighty two percent own microwave ovens,
* Sixty percent have a stereo,
* and a quarter have an automatic dishwasher.

As a group, America's poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier that the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

Obviously, they're better off now than they were 25 years ago because back then, DVD players and computers were not standard in American households. Note, too, the air conditioning statistic: Eighty five percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 35 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

But let's assume, for the moment, that Jeffrey Immelt's point about executive pay is valid. How does reducing their own pay affect the plight of those who are designated as poor?

It doesn't.

Poverty in America is a result of many factors - primarily, a lack of working. Rector's research shows that in a typical year, poor families with children will only have about 16 hours of adult work per week. As Rector explains, having just one adult working full time would raise 75% of kids out of poverty.

Single parenthood is another major factor. His research shows that about 70% of children identified as being poor would immediately be raised out of poverty if their mothers married their fathers, because most of the fathers have jobs and an ability to support a family.

Reducing CEO pay is not going to address these two major causes of poverty.

Then there is the payoff for GE. The company, with Immelt's urging, is going after stimulus funding for itself and its clients. GE Capital, the lending arm of the company, got a $139 billion government guarantee for its debt. And earlier in the year, Immelt went on the record as saying President Barack Obama's stimulus plan would work.

Is it any wonder this executive is adopting the liberal perspective of the White House?

Both Rector and Immelt cannot be correct - so which one do you believe? The researcher who examined actual data from the Census Bureau or the self-serving CEO who thinks poor people today are worse off than they were in 1984?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

If you don't understand the problem, your solutions make things worse

I don't know if you saw this, but if not, you need to! It's a graph comparing the private sector experience of presidential cabinet appointments since 1900 - and it shows that President Barack Obama's cabinet has significantly less business experience than his predecessors.

It's probably no surprise that Republican presidents drew heavily from the private sector, while just under 30% of President John F. Kennedy's cabinet had such experience. But Pres. Obama doesn't even reach 10% - and that lack of experience and understanding of what it takes to create jobs and wealth clearly shows in his policies and actions.

As this post on explains:

This ignorance of what drives the private sector was proven by Barack Obama himself this week, at his so-called “Jobs Summit,” where the POTUS stated:

Despite the progress we’ve made, many businesses are still skittish about hiring. Some are still digging themselves out of the losses they incurred over the past year. Many have figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of fewer workers. And that cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it’s not translating into hiring and so that’s the question that we have to ask ourselves today: How do we get businesses to start hiring again?

Heaven forbid! Productivity? Profits? Does Mr. Obama believe that businesses exist to hire people? I’m sorry, sir, but it is ALL about the profits. Productivity, and in turn, profitability, is improved either by enabling a constant number of people to produce more, or by reducing the number of people and maintaining constant production. New hiring may improve producTION, but not necessarily producTIVITY. Obama’s ideology, like that of his staffies, is disconnected from the realities of a capitalistic economy. And the policies he supports are similarly disconnected.

And now we come to the by-product of the Administration’s disconnect on private sector economics. If the policies of Barack Obama are truly damaging to business, we would expect to see that demonstrated in the marketplace. And indeed we’ve seen it.

The author then details three strikes against the Obama administration, including comments and statements from various CEOs that prove the damage the policies are doing to our job market.

And now the President thinks that the only way to address the economy is to spend our way out of the problem - failing, again, to recognize that government spending is a primary part of the problem and that more spending won't make it better.

But what do you expect from someone who's never had a 'real' job, had to make a payroll, show a profit for shareholders or meet the demands of a market?

We've 'hired' a man to run an organization without acknowledging that he'd never run an organization before - and in fact didn't know how. Now we're dealing with the consequences of putting in charge someone who thinks the economic system which brought us so much prosperity is evil and needs to be destroyed. We should not be surprised that the outcome is less jobs, more government intrusion and control, more taxes for us and the end of our liberty as we know it.

***Side Note: Pres. Obama's statement above reminded me instantly of some students I once met.

As a commissioner, I attended the first and last class in a special program for high school students - students who were having so much trouble that this program was a sort of last resort. In the first class, they were asked why companies exist. Their answers were 'to give back to the community,' 'to give to charity,' and 'to give me a job.'

I was astounded by the basic lack of understanding that a company exists to make a profit for the owner/investors. Of course, these students with this attitude were not going to make good employees and, eventually, get ahead, because they had no understanding of the economic system and how being valuable to the bottom line would advance them.

Fortunately, by the end of the class, these students were highly impressive. They expressed and demonstrated an understanding of the free market system and how they could use that system to better themselves. They were able to greet me professionally and make a very good impression - something they would have thought was ridiculous at the start of the class.

I bring all this up because the problem starts in childhood when we do not teach the basics of how our free market works - and how it can help people achieve their goals.

Perhaps Pres. Obama should take the class.

Live from Copenhagen

Americans for Prosperity invites everyone to tune in for a "Live from Copenhagen" event "exposing the outrageous hypocrisy and the dangerous cap-and-trade policy coming from the United Nations Climate Change Conference."

Today, from 12-2 p.m., they'll be hosting a special segment of their Hot Air Tour (exposing the ballooning costs of global warming hysteria) with special guest Lord Monckton, who is a leading expert -- and a YouTube sensation -- on the U.N. Conference. He's better known for his lawsuit against the showing of Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, in British classrooms - which he won.

The speakers:

AFP President Tim Phillips
AFP Foundation Policy Director Phil Kerpen
Lord Monckton (former policy adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher)
Wolfgang Muller of the Institute for Free Enterprise in Berlin

and from Philadelphia:

Steve Moore, Fox News contributor and Wall Street Journal editorial board member
Steve Lonegan, Americans for Prosperity

Click here to register.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Plunder vs. revenue

"What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue." ~ Thomas Paine

Remember - every time a politician talks about 'revenue enhancements,' you need to translate their poli-speak: they mean 'tax increase' - in one form or another - to you.

And what they're saying is that they need your money for their own pet projects more than you need it for your mortgage, bills, savings, investments, children's education or charity.

Quotes of the Day

"Under our form of government, the legislature is not supreme ... like other departments of government, it can only exercise such powers as have been delegated to it, and when it steps beyond that boundary, its acts, like those of the most humble magistrate in the state who transcends his jurisdiction, are utterly void." ~ Billings v. Hall

"When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the State, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 07, 2009

Breaking: Tea Party tops GOP

Rasmussen has released their latest poll which has a stunning wake-up call for the Republican Party: Tea Party Tops GOP on Three-Way Generic Ballot.

From the report:

Running under the Tea Party brand may be better in congressional races than being a Republican.

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.

Among Republican voters, 39% say they’d vote for the GOP candidate, but 33% favor the Tea Party option.

For this survey, the respondents were asked to assume that the Tea Party movement organized as a new political party. In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates. The rules of the election process—written by Republicans and Democrats--provide substantial advantages for the two established major parties. The more conventional route in the United States is for a potential third-party force to overtake one of the existing parties.

Let the spinning begin!

You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round

You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round
~ Billy Idol

Connecting the acorns - er - dots

Jesse Hathaway has been doing some great work on his blog Athens Runaway lately and his latest post, "Acorns? In MY State Elections?" is no exception.

He rounds up some of the state goals of ACORN, the 'community organizing' group known for their voting fraud issues, which show the supposedly non-partisan group is, indeed, partisan.

And it takes a look at some public record requests pending in the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office, especially considering that an ACORN 'Project Vote' person served as a consultant to her last campaign.

I hope you'll read the entire post.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Quote of the Day

Though perhaps I should have a new category of quote of the year...

"In Tennessee we believe when it comes to taxes if 10% is good enough for God on Sunday, it's for damn sure good enough for the government on Monday." ~ Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

How much is 'enough' when it comes to a death tax?

Apparently, about half - for now...

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of keeping a 45% death tax on estates valued over $3.5 million. The $3.5 million is NOT indexed to inflation. The tax was scheduled to be repealed next month.

Our rep, Marcy Kaptur, joined 25 other Democrats and all Republicans (including Bob Latta) in voting against the measure.

Now, you may think that anyone with an estate worth $3.5 million can certainly 'afford' to pay more taxes, but that's not the point. Nor is the fact that 'it only' impacts a small number of estates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, the bill is "founded on the ideas of equality and opportunity."


How is it 'equal' to tax some people at 45% and others at nothing? How does taking half of a person's inheritance match the idea of 'opportunity'?

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, was even more onerous. He said:

"This bill gives our nation's wealthiest families the ability to know exactly what their obligation to the nation that fostered their wealth will be, and it is fair and it is just."

So the nation's wealthiest families have an 'obligation' to give half of what they've earned and worked so hard for to the government? How in the world can anyone think that is even remotely 'fair' or 'just'?

Remember, these inheritances are often assets which have already been taxed when they were acquired or accessed/sold. Many of the assets of a family are not easily disposed of, meaning that property or small family businesses (one example was the owner of as few as four convenience stores) would have to be liquidated in order to meet the tax obligation.

Of course, this is just the federal government. In Ohio, the estate tax is $23,600 plus 7% of the excess over $500,000. So for a $3.5 million estate, you'd have to pay $233,600.

***Side note: The City of Toledo has a budget revenue line item for estate taxes, but the Taxation Department wasn't aware of a specific form for paying inheritance tax. I was transferred to a person in the Finance Department who said she'd investigate this for me and respond. If there is a Toledo tax, I'll include it when I get the information.***

Combined, you'd have to come up with at least $1,808,600 in cash to pay your state and federal obligations. Again, if the inheritance is in property or machinery or inventory, you'd have to liquidate to meet the obligation.

How 'fair' and 'just' is that? And does this really represent the foundations upon which this country was based - foundations of 'equality' and 'opportunity'??? I don't think so.

As Randall Holcombe wrote, "Once you have earned something, it should be yours, and it is unfair for the government to confiscate it when you die."

Democrats who passed the bill are spinning this 'taking' as a positive. Prior to the President Bush tax cuts in 2001, the rate was 55% on anything above $1 million. In December, the tax was to be repealed for at least one year. Without a further vote making the death tax permanent, the tax would have reverted to the 55% rate in 2011. Republicans were hoping to make the repeal permanent, but Democrats have instead voted in the 45% and are touting it as a 'cut' from the 55% that will "cost" the federal government $235 billion over the next decade.

The real problem is the expectation of our politicians that they have any claim whatsoever to your inheritance - or that you 'owe' everyone else in the United States because your relatives worked hard and established a business or made money.

While they say it isn't a 'sin' or a 'crime' to be rich - they sure do want to penalize you for achieving their concept of that status.

Hopefully, the Senate will be too preoccupied with health care to address this before the end of the year. Maybe it will give Republicans and the American public time to pressure all of them into repealing this destructive death tax entirely.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

FirstEnergy gets extension for stupid light bulb program

OhioWatchdog is reporting:

The plan for the distribution of more than 3.5 million compact fluorescent light bulbs to Ohioans is not finished yet. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, PUCO, extended the deadline for receiving a plan from FirstEnergy from November 30, 2009 to December 15, 2009.

PUCO spokesman Matt Butler said, “the company had originally came in last week asking for an extension until the end of December. Some of the other parties thought an extension might be OK, but, let’s only do a week. The commission sort of landed in the middle and said, OK, let’s give them two weeks.”

The new plan is expected to outline how FirstEnergy will distribute 3.75 million compact flourescent light bulbs to homes and small business customers. The original plan caused an uproar with Ohio customers due to a slight increase in charges customers would see on their monthly bill.

The original plan would charge customers around 60 cents more every month for three years; about $21 total. The energy saving bulbs the company would be distributing are estimated to save an additional $60 in energy costs over their lifetimes.

Governor Ted Strickland also asked for FirstEnergy’s distribution plan to be postponed. In a letter Strickland said,

“First, the bulb program has been thrust upon them without their approval or prior knowledge. Second, it is my understanding that two bulbs will be provided at a cost in excess of $21.00. It is common knowledge that the efficient bulbs can be purchased for significantly less at popular retail outlets. Third, I am interested to know if there are any U.S. suppliers of these bulbs, or if First Energy had considered the use of bulbs manufactured in the United States.”

PUCO is asking that the new plan should describe how the energy saving light bulbs are to be distributed, how customers will be notified about the program, and information detailing the proper use of the compact fluorescent light bulbs,

In case you've forgotten this little fiasco, here are the highlights:

* Ohio politicians pass 'bold, new' energy law (aren't they great???)
* Law puts mandate on energy producers to get their customers to reduce consumption (yes, that's what the law does...)
* Electric company develops program to 'give' us all CFL light bulbs - at a cost 67% more than we'd pay for the bulbs in the store
* Government agency 'allows' company to recoup costs of program - including the cost of energy NOT used because of the energy-reducing product
* Public expresses outrage
* Ohio politicians begin backtracking

As I wrote on the OhioWatchdog post:

The company doesn’t need an extension.

The law requiring them to distribute the bulbs needs to be repealed.

This is a ridiculous, freedom-destroying law that needs to be permanently ‘put out’!

Don't blame FirstEnergy for doing what the law requires. Blame the politicians and Governor who passed the law in the first place.

These elitist statists are trying to force us to conform to their opinion of how to save energy - but they're not telling us directly, because we'd revolt if they mandated what kind of light bulb we had to buy.

Instead, they've created a mandate on a supplier of a product, forcing the supplier to try and find a way to get their customers to use less of their product.

This is more than 'stuck on stupid.' It's insane!

Contact Gov. Strickland and tell him this mandate needs to be eliminated - permanently!

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