Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quotes of the Day

"...I know not what treason is, if sapping and betraying the liberties of a people be not treason..." ~ Cato

"The bigger the government, the smaller the individual." ~ bumper sticker

'Spending Revolt' bus tour heading to Toledo

From Americans for Prosperity:

The Administration’s rate of spending is irresponsible and unsustainable. It limits our economic growth and our ability to create new jobs. If we allow our elected officials to continue their spend first, pay later habits, we will continue to face higher taxes, a higher cost of living, and a stagnant economy. And our children may never know the American dream.

Join a Spending Revolt bus tour stop this Tuesday, August 31st in Toledo.

The Spending Revolt bus with be at 1370 WSPD’s studio, and we will be talking on air with Fred LeFebvre about big government’s out-of-control spending.

What: Spending Revolt Bus Tour event and bus signing, Toledo

When: Tuesday, August 31, 7:00 am

Where: Clear Channel Radio Station, 125 South Superior St., Toledo, OH 43604

To learn more you can go to

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lake Erie Wind Turbines Costly and Inefficient

The Buckeye Institute published this editorial by Policy Analyst Mary McCleary and I wanted to share it with you. It looks at the financials of the proposed wind turbine project in Lake Erie and comes up with some startling data.

Green energy is all the rage, and Ohio is jumping on the bandwagon with little regard to financial considerations. While the emerging industry creates jobs and is more environmentally friendly than the traditional energy industry, it comes with a cost – in some cases, a very high cost.

The proposed Lake Erie off-shore wind turbine project is a great example of wasteful spending in the name of going green and creating jobs. Initially, this project is supposed to include five turbines, which will be the first of their kind in North America. These five turbines, to be built by 2012, will cost approximately $100 million and create up to 600 jobs. If the pilot project is a success, a total of 1,200 turbines will be built in Lake Erie over the next 20 years. The complete project will cost $31 billion and could create up to 8,000 jobs according to a recent economic impact study.

Financially, the wind turbines are a bad proposition for Ohio. Of the $31 billion, only $7.8 billion will go toward wages. Thus, in terms of wages, each job will cost $975,000 with approximately $23 billion going toward infrastructure, equipment and other expenses. Additionally, over a 20 year period, state and local governments will only collect $587 million in tax revenues from the project. Thus, the initial $31 billion investment will not be recovered by taxes for 1,050 years (excluding interest payments).

Since the life-span of well-maintained off-shore turbines is only 30 to 40 years, it will be impossible for investors (whether public or private) to recoup their investments in the project. If the government completely financed the off-shore turbines, it would still owe nearly $30 billion when the original turbines expire.

But that's not all, the price of the energy they produce will be higher than other options Ohioans have:

Electricity from the off-shore turbines is expected to cost 23 cents per kilowatt-hour. In contrast, electricity from Ohio’s land turbines costs roughly 9 cents per kilowatt-hour while electricity from coal only costs 4 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Off-shore turbine energy will cost 2.5 times more than energy from land turbines and almost six times more than energy from coal.

So why would anyone want to go forward on this project? It's costly; it's not going to give us cheaper energy; and the payback - not counting interest - is 1,050 years!!!

Yes, this qualifies for 'stuck on stupid' designation.

No business person or individual would spend their own money on such a fiasco. We cannot let Ohio or the federal government spend our tax dollars so frivolously.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The border issue no one is talking about

My husband owns his own company and one of his clients has a facility in Monterrey, Mexico. For the past several years, he's traveled to this magnificent location as part of the work he does. I'm glad I had the opportunity to travel with him to see the city for myself.

It's a beautiful place - a huge sprawling conglomeration of modern tall buildings surrounded by neighborhoods and historic churches. While the population of Monterrey proper is around 2 million, the people in the surrounding valley area pushes that number much higher.

It is a huge valley surrounded by mountains. In the summer, the trip up to the mountain parks is a respite from the heat. In the spring and fall, it is breathtakingly beautiful as the butterflies (primarily monarchs) migrate. They have a spectacular national park known for his geographical aspects. In some areas of the park, it looks like God took a huge chuck of the earth, turned it on its side and planted it in the middle of the valley. We've all seen striations in rock, but these run vertically, providing great climbing opportunities and amazing photographs.

The people are overwhelmingly kind and welcoming to strangers. They love the 'tourists' and business people who travel to their city and take every opportunity to speak with them to practice their various languages.

Since the city is surrounded by mountains, it's been relatively insulated from the drug wars permeating the nation. But no more. There have been several incidents, including a shootout near a prominent school in the city. While I'm somewhat concerned for my husband's safety, I know he is being careful and his client has a bodyguard/driver for the people coming to their facility.

I tell you all this so you understand that the perspective I have isn't one of a casual observer to what is going on and what could happen. In talking with people who live there and who travel there on a regular basis, there is great concern that the nation is on the verge of collapse as a result of the drug wars and the way both the government and the gangs are responding to each other.

While I hope and pray that doesn't happen, it could. And the United States needs to be prepared for what will happen if it does.

Right now, our southern border is porous - and not much of a border, when you get right down to it. States trying to protect the border (and their citizens) are getting no real help from the federal government - and national security is one of the few Constitutional responsibilities the federal government actually has.

We all hear the arguments that people (from many nations) coming across our southern border are only seeking a better way of life. I have no problem with their goal, only their method of attaining that goal, which is illegally, rather than through the proper channels. But this post is not about illegal immigration - it is about what we could face if millions of Mexican citizens decide to flee their nation should the drug wars escalate.

How would we deal with the huge influx? Would we consider them to be refugees? Would we try, finally, to seal the border to control the access? If we allow them in, how might we handle all the people who, in many cases, would decide to stay rather than return if Mexico recovered from the problems that led them here?

Experts in the federal government plan to contingencies all the time. Do they have one for this scenario? I sure hope so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Most people prefer to believe that their leaders are just and fair, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which he lives is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one's self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all." ~ Michael Rivero

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Answers on Teamsters fact finder report lead to more questions

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact finders report on the city of Toledo/Teamster negotiations that recommended pay increases and other measures.

Last night, I sent a note, via Facebook, to my Council Council District Representative Lindsay Webb. I politely asked, "would you please explain why you voted in favor of the fact finder report?" She relied that I should view her Facebook wall, which I did.

Lindsay Webb Here are my comments about the factfinder's report. Premised by the following: I consider the layoffs resulting from automation as the Teamsters' "give back", similar to the savings resulting from the agreements with Police and Fire. You'l...l recall that I voted against "exigent circumstances" because I felt the contract provided for a solution: layoffs. The lay-offs achieved a budget savings of 3 million. Additionally, I reject the argument that this sets a terrible standard for "pattern bargaining" because I see this as the end of the last round of negotiations, not the beginning of the next. Keep in mind, too, that the vast majority of the folks in the Teamsters' bargaining unit are not refuse collection, but wastewater treatment plant workers, which means that ultimately, this agreement will not have big impact on the General Fund.

1. By accepting the factfinder's report, we will eradicate some of the built in incentives (like the lamented shortened work day) and in exchange we are taking them up 1 or 2 pay grades to compensation but ultimately they will not realize a net gain in income, so this is not a raise, simply a reclassification.
2. Accounting for the reclassification offset, we are essentially agreeing to the same deal that we offered Police and Fire as far as raises in 2011 or 2012.
3. As far as the pension pick-up for new hires, consider this: Refuse is the only department that has permanent lay-offs. It is not likely that we will hire any time soon in that department. The factfinder's report also says that if 2 major unions make changes in the pension pick-up Teamsters must too.

Finally consider this: as soon as Council rejects the factfinder's report, the Teamsters are free to strike.

I appreciate the distinction between not voting to reject versus voting to approve, especially knowing that she had only just received the report and hadn't been able to review it. In response, I sent her the following:

Lindsay - thank you for the explanation, but I have a couple of questions as a result.

1) So the refuse workers will now have to work 8 hours in order to get 8 hours of pay. This would seem to many, including me, that this is not a 'concession or giveback' that merits additional compensation. I think the general perspective on this is that, for years, they've been OVER-compensated by being paid for work not performed. I don't blame the individuals for the terms of the contract, but we've been paying them for 8 hours of work and not getting 8 hours. Bringing them up to the 8 hours of work will make up for the past - not merit a increase in pay grades. I'm certain some will feel differently, but my guess is that the majority of Toledoans (especially those who are not currently employed) will not approve of this provision.

So how does council address the previous 'error' (for lack of better word) in not working 8 hours a day WITHOUT increasing the compensation?

2) While you see this as the last of the last round of negotiations (and I like that...) in my time in office I never saw unions make the distinction. True, the city could argue that point, but that does not ensure the perspective will prevail - nor that a future fact finder or arbitrator will as well.

Can the city risk that potential outcome?

3) Many people have taken exception to the planned raises for police and fire in 2011 and 2012, so while that helps understand why the fact finder recommends this for the Teamsters, the fact is that the city cannot afford it - for police, fire or the Teamsters.

Where will the money come from for ALL those raises next year?

4) If the Teamsters were to strike, what are the options for the city? Could it temporarily hire replacements? Could the city hire permanent replacements? Could the city privately contract for the services? While I understand and acknowledge the union solidarity feelings in Toledo, residents need to know if there are other options so they can weigh them fully.

thanks, Lindsay!

I believe these are valid questions that deserve answers prior to any vote on council. I'll keep you posted as to the response.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who gets a 17% raise in this economy?

Toledo refuse workers, represented by the Teamsters, if the fact finder report is accepted.

This is not a joke. A fact finder report (not made public in its entirety until either voted on by the union or the city council), recommends that the base pay for refuse workers jump two grades, going from $18 per hour to $21.09 per hour. The report also includes a 2 or 3 percent raise during the term of the contract.

And, at a time when other new hires for the city are paying their own portion of their pension in its entirety, refuse workers would have the city (meaning you and me) pay 8.5% of their personal pension contribution on top of the required employer contribution.

Oh - and remember that for 2010 Toledo had a $48 million deficit.

Four members of city council voted to accept the recommendation: Michael Ashford, Adam Martinez, Steven Steel and Lindsay Webb (who is my district representative). But since only 7 voted to reject, they did not achieve the 60% required to officially reject the findings. So Council needs to have 7 members voting to accept the report (a simply majority) or 8 members voting to reject. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday morning.

I plan to call Lindsay Webb and share my opinion with her - I hope you'll call or email and let them know what you think.

This proposal is completely unacceptable - not just in this economy and in Toledo with it's financial situation - but in general. The city has 'me-too' clauses in their other contracts which requires the city (meaning you and me) to apply more generous compensation terms negotiation by one union to the other unions as well.

Personally, I despise me-too clauses because they give everyone the benefits, but none of the concessions, that were negotiated. And it unnecessarily drives up the costs for the taxpayer - which is part of the problem Toledo politicians have ignored for years, resulting in huge budget deficits.

If accepted, the terms will be used by the other unions whose contracts are up for negotiation. If council approves this one, how can they not approve similar terms for their other unionized workers? Aye...there's the rub.

I wonder if the Teamsters will reject this report as unsustainable? It certainly should be rejected by Toledoans and their representatives on council.

I wonder if any of the council members are regretting their decision NOT to privatize this service? And if these were not unionized jobs, do you think the city would find people who would be willing to work for the current $18 per hour to pick up the trash? I believe so. In fact, the taxpayers would be better off if the city said, 'here's how much we're offering - with unemployment in Toledo above 11%, we'll find others who will take it if you don't want to.'

We cannot afford this and, as Mayor Mike Bell said, "We have fallen into the same trap we've been in for 20 years. Our workers deserve a good living, but what we pay them has to be within our means."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Idle power plants or fish?

There is something seriously wrong when a news article about a local business deciding to idle a plant is celebrated because it means some fish won't die in the manufacturing process.

According to this article:

The Great Lakes region's $7 billion fishery likely will get at least a short-term benefit from FirstEnergy Corp.'s decision to temporarily idle three of its four Bay Shore operating units.

Tens of millions of fish die at the plant each year when all four units are running, most of them impinged against screens used to filter the water used by the facility.

The utility said it cannot predict how many fewer fish will die until it figures out how much less Maumee River water the Oregon power plant still will require for cooling.

FirstEnergy announced last week that one of its subsidiaries, FirstEnergy Generation Corp., plans to scale back operations at four plants because of the declining need for electricity during the recession, in large part because of less manufacturing.

Other jobs within FirstEnergy are being sought for displaced workers, the utility said.

No - this isn't a joke.

The 30-paragraph article never identifies how many employees are affected, though they tell us how many fish are estimated to be killed.

The solution, many local environmentalists tell us, for this same plant to build a $100 million (give or take) cooling tower. Of course, they think this is a perfectly acceptable price to pay for fish.

Personally, having lived on Maumee Bay all but the first 5 years of my life, I've not seen a change in the number of fish in Lake Erie and have not missed the "estimated" numbers they claim are being killed. I also know that, with politicians and all sorts of individuals claiming we have some of the highest energy rates in the state, I don't want to pay for a $100 million (give or take) cooling tower. While I care about fish, I don't like them that much.

I can't help but wonder if the decision on which plants to idle had anything to do with the latest push for a cooling tower at this plant. Is it possible that the parent company decided this plant just isn't worth the hassle they're having to go through? Or the potential cost they may be forced to incur because some people are upset about fish? Of course, the company denies that the issue of fish kills had anything to do with their decision...but do you really believe that? Would you factor such an issue into your decision if you were the one that had to idle some plants?

I can only imagine what the employees at this plant must think. The message is clearly that the fish are more important than their jobs.

And what is the message that other businesses in the area - or those considering coming to this area - will take from all of this? It certainly isn't good.

The problem is that there is no perspective. While I don't want fish to die needlessly, I would weigh the number of dead fish against the potential economic impact of maintaining the status quo. I'm guessing that the vast majority of energy customers would not be willing to incur the $100 million (give or take) cost of addressing what a small number of people consider important. Given a choice between paying more for their electricity or a few fish dying - my bet's on the cost, not the fish.

Unfortunately, too many on the environmental side do not care about what their desires cost. They seem to believe that no cost is too great for whatever their special interest may be. What they fail to realize is that our nation can afford to pay attention to the environment. Only wealthy nations can afford to invest real resources for the environment's sake.

The people of most nations, especially developing ones, are too focused on providing for daily needs to worry about whether or not their killing of an animal for food might lead to its extinction. They would find it inconceivable that anyone would put the needs of an animal above the needs of their own family.

The United States, however, has been prosperous enough to meet those daily survival needs and now has the luxury of paying attention to how our actions impact our environment. But if we put the needs of the environment ahead of our own, many of our citizens will see real and lasting damage to their quality of life, negatively impacting the health of their families.

There has to be a balance - not an emotional appeal that focuses on 'harm' to the environment or animals while ignoring the 'harm' to our families and our way of life.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." ~ Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

"They make a rout about universal liberty, without considering that all that is to be valued, or indeed can be enjoyed by individuals, is private liberty." ~ Dr. Samuel Johnson

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not everything is a 'right'

So this was the photo on Drudge Report this morning:

Now, I have no idea about the context of the photo since it wasn't in the posted article about youth unemployment at record levels, but it struck me nonetheless as being so ... wrong.

I don't have a 'right' to a job. Rights are not something granted by someone else - whether it is a house, a job or health care. Rights are not 'given' by other entities, though they can be respected by others. Rights are inherent - unalienable, as our Constitution says.

A job is something that someone else must give to you. An individual or business must decide that they have a need you can fill and you must agree that you are willing to fill that need for the price being offered. It's more of a contract or agreement that benefits both parties.

A house is a similar situation. If someone owns a property and I want to live there, I can't just demand access to it in order to fill my own needs.

Health care is the same thing. In order to receive any type of medical treatment, I must be willing to pay someone else for their skills, knowledge, etc.

I do not have the ability to confiscate another's property (pay for work performed, house or other shelter, or intellectual knowledge which they have gained often at great cost) simply because I have a need.

Now, if we are all abiding by our moral and/or religious teachings, we know that we - individually - have an obligation to 'help' others by offering some of these items, either through our talents or our assets (money or property).

Somewhere along the way, the idea that such charity was a governmental function has become accepted. Even some churches are supporting the government takeover of the personal obligation, which is clearly a distortion of the teachings.

And with government assuming the individual obligation, those within the government have perpetuated the false notion that simply because someone has a 'need,' they also have a 'right' to force others to provide for that need.

We saw some of this type of thinking with the Housing Trust Fund this week in Toledo as members of the Fund openly stated that government has a "moral" obligation to help people in need. Of course, no one asked the members of Toledo City Council how much they've contributed personally to this 'need' before taking taxpayers' money and spending it on a non-governmental function that benefits only a few.

What it boils down to is this: 'needs' are not 'rights.' Just because you have a need, it does not mean that you can take from others to satisfy that need. And the sooner that individuals recognize and support this concept, the sooner the government will as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association -- the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Monday, August 09, 2010

Good Government Speaker Series

This press release was issued by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. While reservations are required, all events are open to the public:

Good Government Pre-Election Speaker Series

Presented by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and EPIC Toledo

Toledo, OH - July 12, 2010 – The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and EPIC Toledo will host the Good Government Pre-Election Speaker Series beginning on Friday August 13, 2010 at the PNC Auditorium at 405 Madison Ave., Toledo Ohio.

The Speaker Series will offer attendees a chance to talk to Gubernatorial Candidate John Kasich, Governor Ted Strickland, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Congressional Candidate Rich Iott. Each speaker will discuss their thoughts on government, business and the future. There is no cost to attend but reservations are required.

What: Good Government Pre-Election Speaker Series presented by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and EPIC Toledo.

Where: PNC Auditorium. 405 Madison Ave. Toledo, Ohio.


* August 13, 2010. 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. John Kasich, Gubernatorial Candidate

* August 27, 2010. 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Governor Ted Strickland

* September 10, 2010 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (Invited)

* September 10, 2010 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Rich Iott, Congressional Candidate

Reservations are required

For more information, please call Dee Isch at 419.243.8191 ext. 243

Register online at:

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce has been serving area businesses and the community since 1894. Since that time the Chamber has provided the leadership, advocacy and resources to advance a competitive economic climate benefiting business and the Northwest Ohio region. Additionally, the Chamber is one of only 249 Chambers out of a total of nearly 7,000 who are recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for excellence in Chamber planning and outstanding contributions toward a positive change in their communities. Currently the Chamber has over 2700 members.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Raising the gas tax hurts, not helps, the economy

According to numerous news outlets, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) is suggesting an increase in the federal gasoline tax.

He believes that an increase will help close the budget deficit and create jobs. I think he's spent too much time in Washington's logic-free zone.

From The Hill:

In a letter to members of President Obama's debt commission, Voinovich laid out his argument for the increase.

"Fuel taxes today fund the vast majority of the federal government's investment in infrastructure projects," Voinovich wrote in the letter. "Due to dwindling fuel tax receipts, Congress has had to transfer billions of dollars from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to maintain our current level of federal involvement."

From a factual basis, Voinovich is correct. They are transferring billions into the Highway Trust Fund.

But the question shouldn't be 'how do we get more money into the Trust Fund?' We should be asking WHY government is spending more money from the Trust Fund than it is taking in?!? Can you say pork? Because it's all the 'earmarks' that members of Congress fund that leads to the overspending. And since Congress gets to decide whether or not to transfer money from the General Fund, they easily do so.

Voinovich should NOT be looking for ways to get more money to spend, but for ways to stay within the budget based upon the revenues they do have. (And this doesn't even get into the discussion of whether or not the Trust Fund is constitutional in the first place.)

He 'explains' that the gasoline taxes haven't been increased since 1993 when it went from 4.3 cents per gallon up to 18.4 cents per gallon. For reference, that's a 328% increase!

Too many politicians believe that a lack of increased taxation is somehow a problem. And it might be a problem for government, but it certainly isn't a problem for the taxpayer.

Increasing taxes on an item means people will use less of it - not more. Perhaps he believes that people will pay whatever they must to have the flexibility and freedom that driving provides them. But Voinovich is wrong if he believes that there will not be some decrease in consumption of an item whose price is raised.

Voinovich fails to account for the impact such an increase will have to the overall economy. If gasoline prices rise, so will the price of all items that are transported. Trucking firms and delivery companies (UPS and FedEx) will have to raise their prices to accommodate for their increased costs. Many firms tack on a fuel surcharge as it is, so the cost of that surcharge will be greater if Voinovich has his way.

Our senator is also mistaken when it comes to creating jobs. While government payment for construction and road work does employ people, it doesn't do so in a sustainable way. And with 'sustainable' being the focus of liberals these days, you'd think this would be an issue - but, strangely, it isn't.

When the government money runs out, as it always does, the jobs go away. This is not the type of 'growth' the country needs. What we do need is a low-tax environment that allows private companies and individuals to have the funds to spend as they see fit. The investment that results leads to more opportunities, more employment and more demand for services. That is what leads our economy - not higher taxation so government can create the illusion of growth.

Is Voinovich correct that we have a crumbling infrastructure? I don't know - and a look at Toledo roads might lead everyone to believe that is the case. But Toledo's roads are Toledo's problem - not the problem of the federal government.

So let's look at the root of the problem: the spending. The Highway Trust Fund was supposed to pay for interstates and highways, but today it pays for so much more. As Reason Foundation says:

" ... asking federal highway users to pay substantially more in order to fund expanded programs for sidewalks, bikeways, recreational trails and more transit is unlikely to succeed, since the large majority of highway users do not use, and would not benefit from, these mostly localized urban projects. Principles of federalism suggest that these kinds of projects are more appropriately funded at state or local levels of government."

This Washington Times article says it even more plainly:

We invented the federal Highway Trust Fund in 1956, promising motorists and truckers that all proceeds from a new federal gas tax would be spent on building the interstate system. They aren't. Congress has expanded federal highway spending beyond interstates to all types of roadways. And ever since 1982, a portion of those "highway user taxes" have been diverted to urban transit. Today, the federal role in transportation includes mandating sidewalks, funding bike paths and creating scenic trails.

As a result, spending exceeds gas-tax revenues and the Highway Trust Fund is broke. Some claim this is because the 18.3-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax needs to be raised. But drivers can fairly put the blame on the fact that 25 percent of gas-tax funds are diverted to non-highway uses.

A key to fixing the problem is to identify what should be federal and what should be state and local responsibilities. In principle, only the interstate highways - our key arteries for interstate commerce - should rise to the level of the federal government. Other highways, streets, sidewalks, bike paths, local transit lines, etc., are more properly state and local concerns.

So rather than push for a tax hike, if Voinovich were to push for an end to funding non-highway projects, the Highway Trust Fund would have about another $11 billion per year to address the aging infrastructure he's so concerned about.

That would be the conservative, fiscally-prudent thing to do. But that also means that a lot of politicians and individuals who've raided the fund for non-highway purposes might find that, on a local level, their pet projects don't make the grade.

We've seen it here in Toledo - opposition to bike paths when the money could be better spent actually improving the roads and eliminating our pot holes. But the excuse our city government has given us is that the funding for bike paths is 'federal money.' That just means that the federal politicians have substituted their will for the will of the people in terms of priorities for how tax dollars are spent. Eliminating these non-highway projects also advances the opinion of our Founding Fathers - that such decisions are better made at a local level, not the federal one.

If Sen. Voinovich were truly interested in the federal deficit and the Highway Trust Fund, he'd look for ways to reduce spending - not for ways to fleece the taxpayers. And he'd work to eliminate non-highway projects for the HTF so that the limited dollars it takes in can be spent on the problems the highway system faces.

Of course, this kind of common-sense reasoning is completely ignored by the people making the decisions. Perhaps it boils down to the fact that we need different people in the decision-making role.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Quote of the Day

Oh, how we've come from what our Founders intended:

"Another not unimportant consideration is, that the powers of the general government will be, and indeed must be, principally employed upon external objects, such as war, peace, negotiations with foreign powers, and foreign commerce. In its internal operations it can touch but few objects, except to introduce regulations beneficial to the commerce, intercourse, and other relations, between the states, and to lay taxes for the common good. The powers of the states, on the other hand, extend to all objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, and liberties, and property of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state." ~ Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Friday, August 06, 2010

Blogger charged with campaign finance violation gets legal assistance

I received this by email on Wednesday and thought all bloggers should read ICYMI:

Legal Centers Take Up Case of Blogger Charged with Campaign Finance Violation

Geauga County Board of Elections Filed Complaint Against Critic

COLUMBUS - In an apparent retaliatory action against an outspoken critic, the Geauga County Board of Elections charged independent blogger Ed Corsi with violating campaign finance laws. The elections board forwarded a complaint to the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC), where Corsi faces fines of up to $1,000 a day.

Corsi's blog,, is critical of local government and political officials, including Geauga County Board of Elections Member Edward Ryder. Specifically, Corsi publishes a politically "most unwanted list" critical of several officials he refers to as "RINOs" (Republicans in Name Only). Ryder is chairman of the Geauga County Republican Party.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law and the Rutherford Institute, non-profit legal advocacy firms, today filed arguments with the OEC on behalf of Corsi. The legal organizations argue the elections board improperly and unconstitutional applied campaign finance law to Corsi's activities. Further, the board's complaint infringes upon Corsi's First Amendment right to criticize his government.

"This case has the potential to severally limit free speech in Ohio," said 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson. "Should independent bloggers in Ohio be subject to registration, political disclosure laws, and fines simply because they discuss Ohio politics, and are critical of certain politicians? The Constitution says otherwise."

The elections board based the complaint on O.R.C. 3517.20(A)(2). Thompson believes its action overreaches the application of the law and violates the freedom of alternative media, such as independent political bloggers.

"When applied to Corsi's activities, the law violates the First Amendment right to anonymous political speech," said Thompson. "It places an impermissible prior restraint on core political speech. And, it applies an overbroad regulation and/or prohibition on political speech that is not express advocacy."

Corsi's website and his blogger pseudonym Geauga Constitutional Council (GCC) are not registered political organizations. They do not coordinate with political campaigns. And, Corsi personally pays for all costs associated with the website and subsequent printed material.

A copy of the filing is available here.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is non-profit, non-partisan legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse. The center litigates constitutional issues related to property rights, voting rights, regulation, taxation, and search and seizures. More information about the 1851 Center is available at

The Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated. More on the Institute can be found at


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hypocrisy and slippery slopes

From CNSNews:

The Senate Banking Committee passed the Livable Communities Act on Tuesday, moving the bill one step closer to final passage. The bill creates $4 billion in neighborhood planning grants for “sustainable” living projects and a new federal office to oversee them.

I could just stop right there and know all I need to know about this.

But, let's start with the title of "Livable Communities Act." First, where do they come up with these names? I'm certain that whoever is in charge of naming these ridiculous bills took lessons in doublespeak and would fit right in with the language in George Orwell's 1984.

Are they saying that our communities are not currently 'livable'? Are they saying that without government funding and a new federal office we won't have 'livable' communities? Should we believe that government's definition of 'livable' is the only one we should adhere to? Why do a bunch of politicians who've never even seen my 'community' get to determine whether or not it's 'livable'?

Then we get to the next sentence which includes $4 billion for grants and a new federal office. We're in debt up to our eyeballs. DC politicians are talking about all the taxes they have to raise - and while they're saying it will be on 'the rich,' it's clear they're not living within their means like all the rest of us, so that's no excuse. Even President Obama said the debt needs to be addressed. SO WHY ARE THEY SPENDING $4 BILLION?????? Hypocrisy.

And does that $4 billion include the costs for the new federal office? Don't we have enough government workers already? And why do we need a new office? Is there not one office in the entire federal government that can perform this function? All of us have had to take on additional tasks in our jobs - why can't a federal government worker do the same?

But that's just the first paragraph. What the bill is going to do is even more egregious:

...“the program’s aim is to impose a Washington-based, central planning model on localities across the country.”

In the Senate version, written by outgoing Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the Livable Communities Act would designate $4 billion to aid local governments in planning high-density, walkable neighborhoods.

Premised on helping local governments to combat suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, the bill sets up two separate grant programs. One, known as Comprehensive Planning Grants, would go to cities and counties to assist them in carrying out such plans as the following:

-- “(1) coordinate land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure planning processes across jurisdictions and agencies” and
-- “(3) conduct or update housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, and environmental assessments to determine regional needs and promote sustainable development; [and]
-- “… (5) implement local zoning and other code changes necessary to implement a comprehensive regional plan and promote sustainable development.”

The second grant type – Sustainability Challenge Grants – funds local efforts to:

--“(1) promote integrated transportation, housing, energy, and economic development activities carried out across policy and governmental jurisdictions;
-- (2) promote sustainable and location-efficient development; and
-- (3) implement projects identified in a comprehensive regional plan.”

(Walkable?!? In Toledo in January, that's the last thing I want to do!)

That's pretty intrusive and certainly, as the first quote says, imposes a Washington-based, central planning model on us. But CNSNews summarizes the bill nicely in language no one can misconstrue:

The legislation is designed to prod local communities toward high-density, public transit-oriented neighborhoods that concentrate large numbers of people into small geographic areas connected by train and bus networks.

There you have it. A bunch of elitists in Washington believe they know better than we do how we should live, so they're going to take our precious and limited tax dollars are use them to 'prod' our city and county officials into crowding us all together so we stop driving all over the place.

Dodd said that his bill would try to entice localities to move away from this model of suburban home- and land-ownership and toward a centrally planned model where local government officials make housing, business, and transportation decisions that steer residential and economic growth into designated high-density areas.

Got that? Sen. Chris Dodd, the author/sponsor of the bill, doesn't believe that we should have suburban homes. He doesn't believe that land ownership is a good idea. He believe that "local government officials" should make "housing, business and transportation decisions" for you so that you don't live where you want, but where he wants you to live: in 'high-density' areas.

I can't help but wonder where he lives! In fact, I wonder if his Connecticut home is in a 'high-density area' because his 10-acre Irish estate certainly isn't.

So the unwashed masses of us are supposed to give up living in suburban areas, give up our ownership of property and move into high-density areas so we don't have to drive anywhere - and Dodd thinks this is 'livable'????

But, he says, this is a voluntary program. Cities don't have to do this.

What? That just makes the expenditure even more unnecessary. Dodd wants to give our tax money to some cities who decide they want to regulate their residents living conditions, but if other cities want to let their residents make their own decisions, they're going to have to pay for this anyway? Only in the logic-free zone of Washington does this make any sense.

So where is the actual need? And if there is a need to do this kind of thing, why aren't the cities already doing it without a federal office being established to 'oversee' it? Why do federal tax dollars have to be expended on this boondoggle? If cities really want to limit their residents to high-density areas, there is nothing stopping them right now.

Is it likely that the federal government will turn this 'voluntary' program into a mandatory one? I believe so.

I believe that some cities will ask for the money to do some of the things they already have planned, but not necessarily in the way Dodd explains in his statements about the bill. So the money will probably be used.

But that just means that politicians will cite the use of the money to justify even more tax dollars going toward the purpose. This certainly will not be a temporary program - I'm not sure any government program is every truly 'temporary.' And when they've got enough examples of cities moving their residents into high-density areas, they will decide that all cities should do the same and this will morph into a mandate.

It is a slippery slope, no matter how much you want to deny it.

I don't understand this. Why would Dodd want all of us to live in high-density areas, give up property ownership and use public transportation instead of cars (which give us mobility and freedom), when he doesn't do so himself? Why would any politician vote for such a bill when they don't practice what it says themselves? More hypocrisy.

I know, I know - because the laws are made for us peons - not for the elitists who make them. Perhaps we're living in a type of 1984 already.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What comes after AZ immigration law for Toledo City Council?

Well, they did it. Toledo City Council decided that taking a position against Arizona's immigration law was more important than a host of other issues, including our city's high unemployment rate, looming deficits, over-spending, trash tax lawsuit, loss of population, loss of businesses, 'not-business-friendly' reputation, etc..., etc..., etc...

Thankfully, there are two sane people on council, Tom Waniewski and Rob Ludeman, who realize this is completely outside their purview as members of that body and voted no. One can only wonder what happened to the other Republican, George Sarantou, who switched his vote to yes for this particular non-binding, non-enforceable resolution.

What Arizona does on behalf of their own citizens is their own business. It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I'm a strong proponent of states' rights, including their ability to protect their residents and their residents' property. I'm also a strong proponent of the limited Constitutional authority for the federal government. I recognize and appreciate that the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration but in Arizona's case, their law complements - not contradicts - federal law (despite what others may say - read the law yourself and you'll see) and the federal government has failed to perform its duty to secure our borders. Furthermore, the federal government wants to sue Arizona when it believes their state law is contradicting a federal law, but when other cities and states contradict federal law (sanctuary cities, for instance), the federal government turns a blind eye. Hypocrisy and double standards are always a target on this blog.

But when it comes to Toledo City Council, they've opened a very wide door and I believe they will regret it.

First, let's look at council itself. Our council members are elected to represent our wishes. There is no way that they can know the wishes of the majority of Toledoans when it comes to Arizona's law. They might be able to infer our wishes based upon national polls. But if that was the case, they'd be supporting Arizona's law - not opposing it.

They might claim that, by virtue of being elected, they can substitute their own personal opinions for the opinions of the city as a whole. I might go so far as to support such a position if - and this is a big if - any one of them had run on a platform that even remotely included the issue of immigration or illegal aliens. None of them did.

So they are, in reality, substituting their own personal opinion for the will of the people since they did not take the time to survey the residents they are supposed to represent and they were not elected on a platform that included this issue.

So if they believe this type of opinionated legislation is right and proper, what else might they include? Aye, there's the rub!

These 10 members of Toledo City Council, in voting yes on the resolution, have failed to confine their actions to issues relevant only to their duties as a member of our council. As a result, they are now subject to being held accountable for positions/opinions on a host of issues.

After all, if they are going to weigh in on an Arizona law and do so under the color of their office, I want to know where they stand on all kinds of things, because it's obvious they might decide to address just about anything under the sun.

And they cannot ignore, brush aside or refuse to provide their stance on everything else by saying it's not relevant to their job. While I agree it shouldn't be relevant, they have made it so.

So here are the questions these 10 members of Toledo City Council should be required to answer:

* What is your position on Elena Kagan and do you believe someone with her activist attitude should be confirmed to the Supreme Court?
* What is your position on 'don't ask, don't tell' and do you believe it is a good policy or a bad one - and should the federal government continue it or abolish it?
* What is your position on holding terrorists at Guantanamo Bay?
* What is your position on federal funding of abortion?
* What is your position on the war in Iraq?
* What is your position on the war in Afghanistan?
* What is your position on foreign aid and do you believe the Constitution grants the federal government the authority to give it out?
* What is your position on the 17th Amendment? Would you support its repeal?
* What is your position on the 10th Amendment and what actions are you willing to take to support it?
* What is your position on 'cap-and-trade' which, as most proponents agree, will raise our energy prices?
* What is your position on regulation of the Internet?
* What is your position on federal regulation of salt and other products/ingredients that bureaucrats and politicians think are bad for us?
* What is your position on drilling for oil - in the Gulf and in Alaska - and what is your position on Pres. Obama's moratorium which was declared unconstitutional?
* What is your position on Minnesota's law banning sleeping in the nude?
* What is your position on Virgina's law that makes it illegal to tickle women?

And you may come up with some questions of your own, but the point is that we have every right - in fact, a responsibility - to determine the position of our council members on all these issues since they have proven they will pass legislation supporting or opposing anything they want.

In catering to a small group of individuals - perhaps contrary to what the majority of Toledoans want - they have subjected themselves to such scrutiny. And we ought to give it to them.

So the next time you see a member of Toledo City Council - hold them accountable!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The root of the problem

I saw the news story yesterday about Toledo Public Schools choosing a supplier from Michigan due to a lower bid, despite the fact that a Toledo company could do the work.

TPS, because it is governed by state laws on bidding processes, is required to select the lowest bid - and that's supposed to be a good thing for the taxpayers.

However, the idea that Toledo tax money is spent outside of the jurisdiction seems to upset some people, especially when the difference in the cost is somewhat minor ($2700 in this particular case).

So cities have decided to give a percentage advantage to local suppliers - a 'local preference' as you would have it - though school systems, townships and counties do not have the legal ability to do the same. The 'local preference' is usually a policy that states that a 'local' company's price is considered to be equal to a non-local company's price if the difference in pricing is within a certain percentage. It's a handicapping system designed to provide an advantage to the local company.

But the point that everyone is missing in all this is WHY the prices from our local suppliers are higher. In this instance, the two companies bidding to do the work for TPS might also bid for other projects as well. And the Michigan company will probably end up with the lower price again and again.

So WHY is this the case? Is it because of the high property taxes in Toledo with all our levies? Is it because of high overhead costs in Toledo, like energy, workers' compensation and income taxes? Is it because of regulatory issues from the city, the county and the state?

All the people who want us to give a local preference to local companies and have the taxpayers pay more through some convoluted logic of it 'helping the local economy' are either, intentionally or ignorantly, ignoring the root of the problem: that the local companies shouldn't NEED a local preference in order to be competitive.

If we want our local businesses to be able to compete not just for Toledo work, but for work across the nation and even the world, we need to ensure that taxes, regulatory policies and other costs are competitive in order to give those businesses the advantage in the marketplace.

So all those who would push for instituting 'local preferences' in bidding need to, instead, push for a business-friendly environment - not a preferential treatment because we are 'not-business-friendly.'

Sadly, our politicians and special interest groups who push for such 'not-business-friendly' policies are usually the same people who then want the taxpayer to pay more in a failed attempt to promote the local companies their policies have harmed.

But those 'not-business-friendly' policies are more costly than just for local projects. They hamper our companies in EVERY project they bid to undertake, resulting in a disadvantage to our local companies and the decline we see in the number of successful businesses in the area as they either go out of business or move to more profitable climes.

We need to stop addressing the symptoms - the non-competitive bid - and start addressing the disease - the overall business climate in Toledo/Lucas County/Ohio.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eliminate the payroll withholding tax?


For years, I've marvelled at the 'brilliant' idea of a federal payroll withholding tax. Government getting it's take of your earnings before you even get a chance to have them; the concept of 'not missing' what you don't have in the first place and the idea that people will 'get used to' looking at their take-home pay rather than how much 'disappears' to the government beforehand. Then, at tax filing time, actually rejoicing when you get a refund because you overpaid - as if the government is somehow giving you a gift rather than returning something taken from you.

For years, I've said that if every person had to actually write a check for their taxes, this nation would have seen a tax revolt years ago.

Now Rep. Bob Latta has introduced the Tax Education and Accountability Act (TEA Act), H.R. 5959, to eliminate the payroll withholding tax deduction from your paychecks and require individuals to pay those taxes on a quarterly basis, just like most small business owners and consultants have to do.

As Latta said in his press release:

“With this legislation, taxpayers will have a much better concept of exactly how much money Washington is taking from their paychecks. Armed with this knowledge, it is my sincere hope that more taxpayers become interested in knowing exactly what their taxes go towards and how severe the out of control spending is under the Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress. As our nation faces a record deficit of over $1 trillion for the second straight year and a $13 trillion debt that will hit $20 trillion by 2020, we are on a path towards fiscal disaster and the only way to stop it is for more people to be aware of what is happening right now with the taxes they send to Washington.”

And he's absolutely right. If people are required to write an actual check for the taxes, they will be much more aware of what they're actually paying and exactly how much of their earnings are going to the federal government.

But you can expect elitists to say that they can't rely on people to do this on their own which is why the government needs to do it for us. Of course, this attitude will only demonstrate how such elitists think they know what's good for us, perpetuating the nanny-state mentality that so many elitists seem to enjoy.

But individuals are capable of filing their tax forms by April 15th every year and paying any additional taxes owed, so why would paying quarterly be any different? If we can meet a filing obligation once a year, there's no reason to believe we can't meet a similar filing obligation four times a year.

Of course, these same elitists will claim that people won't save to pay their taxes on a quarterly basis. But that argument falls short for the same reason - if people can be expected to pay any additional taxes once a year, what would make those elitists think people wouldn't be able to meet this obligation four times a year?

Then there is the fact that nearly half the tax filers don't owe anything at all when they file on April 15th. But those same individuals who think they 'owe nothing' because they don't have to pay on April 15th would soon be 'educated' as to how much they really are paying if they actually had to write a quarterly check rather than have the government 'save' them the effort by deducting from their weekly paychecks.

The other argument that's sure to arise is that some people who are 'hurting' won't be able to save to pay their taxes on a quarterly basis - that their bills and needs are just too high for them to NOT spend everything they earn caring for themselves and their families. And I'll admit that there are probably some people who do not currently have the discipline to do this.

But relieving them of the responsibility does nothing to actually 'help' them. Instead, the current deduction process makes them more fiscally irresponsible by creating the expectation that they don't have to take care of these types of duties because the government is doing it for them. This is the same failed perspective that gave us Social Security - a mandatory government program that I cannot opt out of even if I can better prepare for my own retirement than the government can. (And this doesn't even mention that Social Security is going broke and probably won't have anything left by the time I retire anyway!)

Sadly, too many politicians, liberals and Democrats and some Republicans have such little faith in the American people to allow quarterly tax payments by all. I, on the other hand, have complete faith that the American people would 'rise to the occasion' and meet their financial obligations if they know what those obligations are and would actually have to suffer the consequences of non-compliance.

But that then raises a perspective you won't hear as any part of this discussion: the fear politicians would have should people actually know and understand just how much of their hard-earned money was going to the federal government.

Those who enjoy the privilege of expending those funds - often in frivolous and non-Constitutionally-mandated ways - realize that if people actually knew how much money the federal government was taking from them, they would not tolerate such ridiculous federal spending as Charlie Rangel's monument to me, $4.545 million for wood utilization research (which has cost taxpayers $95.3 million since 1985), or $50,000 for a National Mule and Packers Museum.

But you can't really miss something you've never actually had - so the politicians will continue to support the withholding tax because it allows us, the taxpayer, to conveniently overlook the amount of the money government is taking from us and makes us less likely to object to not only how the money is then spent, but also the overall amounts we're paying in the first place.

I applaud Rep. Latta for introducing this bill, which has been referred to committee. But I don't expect it to have much support from his fellow House members, nor from the public at large. Sometimes, it's just too easy to let the government be the nanny.
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