Monday, April 30, 2012

It's back - fake Food Stamp challenges

Like a bad penny or a poltergeist, the fake Food Stamp challenge is back.

Our local newspaper, The Blade, is again participating, though they've added a modern twist by calling it the Blade 'Hunger Games.'

Could you live on a food budget of $23 a week? That's the question facing Blade staffers this week as they participate in the Food Stamp Challenge. Here you can read about our thoughts and experiences as my colleagues and I have a food budget of just $23 each to stretch over five days.

This year's challenge is sponsored in our state by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. EOPA is our local Toledo member.

Here is the challenge:

In 2011, 1.75 million Ohioans received food assistance benefits, more commonly known as food stamps. Ohio’s Community Action Agencies are initiating a Food Stamp Challenge April 30-May 4 in honor of Community Action Month to give participants a view of what life can be like for these low-income Ohioans.

During the Challenge, participants will limit their total food purchases to the weekly budget of a typical food stamp recipient. The goal of the Challenge is to increase awareness around poverty and hunger in Ohio by facilitating a meaningful personal experience for participants. While living on a food stamp budget for just one week cannot come close to the struggles encountered by low-income families week after week and month after month, it does provide those who take the Challenge with a new perspective and greater understanding.

It all sounds good, but as I've written extensively, the devil is in the details.

In 2007, which I first started tracking our county commissioners' participation in this publicity stunt, the average benefit was $21 per person per week. This year's challenge has the rate at $32.31 per person per week. In case you're not good at math, that's a 54% increase in the amount of benefits over a five year span. However, since they're only asking participants to do the challenge over 5 days, the 2012 challenge is to live on a food budget of only $23/week.

But as I documented in 2007, no one is expected to live on only $23 per week:

The maximum amount of food stamps a person can get - having no other income or resources - is $36.57. Those who get "only" $21 per week have been determined to need only $21 based upon a comprehensive formula which shows other funds (up to 30% of wages/other cash assets) available to be devoted to purchasing food.

The challenge is seriously flawed in the dollar amount. But worse, it is designed with failure as the goal:

But this entire challenge isn't about honesty. It's about manipulation. It's about generating false data to prove a point. The $21 a week amount is so obviously bogus that there can be no excuse for our commissioners to not have questioned the amount. Such an error is further compounded by the fact that local Job and Family Services staff - who actually administer the food stamp program in Lucas County under control and direction of the commissioners - are participating. And they - more than anyone else - know that no one is expected to live on $21 a week for food.

Additionally, the challenge was accepted under false pretenses. They didn't accept the challenge with concept of actually succeeding. They're trying to prove it CAN'T be done. Commissioner Konop actually said, "The whole point ... is to fail." Well, obviously! Any success wouldn't look good to those using the 'failures' as justification for more funding. This was manipulation at its finest - or worst.

Just why are we doing such a challenge? I connected the dots in 2007:

A national non-profit begins a publicity campaign to draw attention to the food stamp program and calls it the "Food Stamp Challenge." National group links to local groups and pulls them into the stunt by getting them to enroll local elected and community leaders in the challenge. Local leaders 'prove' the point that you can't live on $21 a week and, even if you can survive, you can't do so in a healthy way. Local groups report back to National group who then uses all these local 'examples' and numerous media reports as evidence that the Food Stamp program needs more money. National group then testifies about the program and the need for more money, using the sympathy gained from 'challenges' across the country to urge Congress to act accordingly.

FRAC (Food Research and Action Center) is national non-profit doing the lobbying today, as it was in 2007. They are opposed to the 2012 Farm Bill because, they claim, it changes eligibility under the Heat and Eat program in states with that program. According to FRAC, some families reach a 'basis' under the LIHEAP program that "triggers" higher food stamp benefits. They estimate that proposed modifications to the basis will "reduce nutrition benefits for low income households living in Heat and Eat states. This cut is estimated at $4.49 billion over ten years."

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the bill on April 26, hence the timing of this year's challenge.

Oh - and according to their 2010 Form 990, FRAC pent $366,206 on lobbying. Since 2007, they've spent over $1.3 million lobbying on behalf of the food stamp program.. The Form 990 also shows that they took in just under $8.4 million and spent $2.4 million on salaries, compensation and other benefits.

Sadly for those who are truly struggling in this economy, this fake challenge isn't about actually helping them - it's to lobby for more government spending at a time when the government is borrowing record amounts and spending trillions more than what it takes in.

What's worse is that this lobbying stunt, designed to provoke sympathy, ensnares good local organizations in the manipulative and false efforts. In a 2007 radio interview on AM 1370 WSPD, two local pastors, Reverends Kevin Perrine and Steve Anthony of Toledo Area Ministries' "Feed Your Neighbor" program, admitted as much:

"... I cannot decide if they are pawns in this nationwide publicity stunt to generate emotional support for an increased food stamp funding - or knowing accomplices who didn't expect their data to be challenged and then underestimated the reaction when it was shown to be incorrect. I'd like to believe they are just pawns, but some of their answers indicate that they were well aware of the appeal to emotion in order to influence the national legislation.

They acknowledged that the idea for the local challenge came as a result of an email from FRAC (Food Research and Action Center). When asked about the source of the $21 per day per person amount, which is identified as the average that a person on food stamps receives in benefits, they agreed that it was an average, but said that the actual amount was $23, but "they lowered it...but that's not the point of the challenge."

(Aside: so they knew it was more than $21 but they lowered it by $2 for what reason?)


... by saying that the point was to generate empathy, they are admitting that the underlying premise is to show this is not only difficult, but nearly impossible...which means that the challenge is designed for failure.

When Fred asked whether or not, then, the $21 was deceptive, they answered that the point with the commissioners was "to show them what they can do to get into action – what they can do with the farm bill at a national level and at a state level..."

So they acknowledge the purpose was to generate support for additional funding in the 2007 Farm Bill, and to enlist the help of the commissioners in doing so.

But just to be sure, Fred clarified the point. "So the bottom line is to get the commissioners involved … to petition the government to raise more money for the food stamp program?"

"Well, it’s not only that," was the answer, "but it’s also ... so they can also pass on what they see locally to the people they know."

So, again, we want the commissioners to prove this incorrect figure of $21 is just not enough and then tell their story to our Congressional representatives. Yes - it's all a well-coordinated national campaign to provide 'evidence' that the food stamp program needs more money.

When Fred asked them how they felt about being involved in program that would try to sway public opinion using lies and dishonesty as this one obviously does, they didn't answer the question.

They did say, " ... I don’t ... our motivation for doing this has nothing to do with deception or dishonesty – we’re calling attention to a problem and the problem is our food pantries are running out of food because the need is greater now than it has been and we’re just calling attention that."

In other words, don't question the facts, just look at the motivation...we're trying to do something good. Don't judge this by anything other than our intentions.


I think it's more likely that they understood the purpose was to influence Congress to put more money into the food stamp program, but they really didn't think about the political or public relations ramifications of someone pointing out that this was just a publicity stunt.

And then, when evidence was presented that the $21 amount was intentionally false in order to have more chance of failing the challenge, they did what most do when caught in a similar situation - they issued an emotional appeal to their INTENTIONS, implying that since the motivation was good, we should just overlook the falsities upon which the stunt is based.

Sadly, by not being honest about the intent and the goal of failing, and then asking us to just overlook those things because of the 'need,' they've done more harm than good to their stated intent of bringing attention to the plight of the food banks.

That was in 2007. Here we are in 2012 and they're still at it, enlisting the help of newspapers, organizations and elected officials in a publicity stunt that obviously hasn't worked in the past (oops...let's not mention that little fact) or else we wouldn't still be doing it.

As a matter of record, one person can succeed in eating for a week on $21 - and doing so in a healthy manner. I've proved it (go to link to see the photos referenced):

But, to prove a point, here's a photo of the 31 food items I was able to purchase for $21.28. (I was a bit over, but figured that if a person didn't have an extra 28 cents, they could have purchased one less Jello.)

And just to prove my cost, here's a photo of the receipt. There's nothing special in my purchases, but I was able to get canned vegetables and fruit, plenty of pasta, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tuna fish, and even Jello. And, if I'd had the extra $14.67 that a food stamp recipient would actually have, I would have bought the following:

* whole chicken for $3.86 (good for several meals for one)
* one pound of ground beef for $2.79
* two pork chops for $1.50
* quart of milk for $1.49 (I don't need much)
* 5 bananas for $.88
* one head of lettuce for $.99
* one loaf of bread for $.92
* a dozen eggs for $1.49
* one pound of carrots $.75

...proving that one person can comfortably survive in a healthy way on the amount of food stamps benefits they receive. In fact, I'd have plenty of left-overs to allow me to shop for more fresh fruit, vegetables and cheese the next week. There's just no way that I'd use all of the pasta, mac & cheese, Jello, peanut butter or all-purpose flour/pancake mix in just one week.

And the fact that my purchases in the second week would give me greater flexibility in developing a healthy menu is a point conveniently overlooked in a one-week challenge.

This publicity stunt won't help people who are struggling to put food on the table, but my BETTER food stamp challenge will:

If the government takes an additional, say $21, for lack of better dollar amount, of taxes from each of us and dedicates that to the food stamp program, the end result, after deducting for bureaucracy and processing through the federal government to the state government to the local county offices, would certainly be less than $21.

So I challenge each and every one of you - take $21 and purchase appropriate goods and donate them to your favorite food bank or similar program. And make a commitment to do so on whatever regular basis you can. That's what I've done. Instead of just 'struggling' through a fake challenge, put your money where your mouth is. That will certainly do more to help those in need than some silly publicity stunt.

Don't be taken in by the fake Food Stamp challenge - and don't wait for government to take more of your taxes in order to feed your neighbors.

Do it yourself - your actions will be much more efficient and longer-lasting than any publicity stunt.

Quote of the Day - majority vs. minority

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dereliction of Duty part III - Three years without a budget

Congratulations U.S. Senate on your continuing dereliction of duty. As of today, it's been three full years that you have failed to pass a budget.

As I wrote earlier this month:

The Congressional Budget Act requires both houses of Congress to pass a budget - and the deadline is April 15th. In fact, the Senate's own website details the law and dates.
This is a clear dereliction of duty. They have failed to uphold their responsibilities under a law that they, themselves, have passed. They have ignored their duty to represent us by providing an authorized budget to enable and limit the spending by the federal government.

And why haven't they passed a budget? Well, according to Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND), it's the "wrong time."

“This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” he said. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”

You see, they have an election this year and heaven forbid that they have to actually vote to do something about the debt (amount they owe because they've been borrowing for years) or the deficit (the amount they spend over and above the amount of revenue they take in). Why - gasp - voters might actually hold them accountable! What a novel idea.

The Democrats in the Senate did have an opportunity to at least begin the process of budgeting. They held a 'markup session' on April 19th, though Rep. Conrad made it known that it would be discussion only - no votes would be taken.

Democrats again were derelict in their duty.

All 11 Republicans showed up for the meeting - no Democrats did. As @BudgetGOP tweeted: "Based on participation, it's almost as if Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about reducing our deficits."

So why aren't they giving us a budget? Democrats obviously don't like President Barack Obama's budget. Both budgets he presented failed to garner a single vote - even from members of his own party.

Perhaps this information from last June will give us a clue:

“The Budget Committee Chairman says he now, once again, has a budget that he is sharing secretly with his Democrat colleagues. Yet we hear no indication that a full text of the resolution will be made public or, crucially, that it will be slated for a public mark-up in the Committee as required by law… Making matters worse, we have reason to believe from statements and news leaks that the budget will have even more taxes and even fewer cuts than advertised. Tax increases may well exceed $2 trillion. And it may cut, or save, as little as $1.5 trillion—just one-fourth of the spending reductions achieved by House Republicans… A colossal tax hike combined with anemic spending cuts only speeds our current trajectory towards a bigger government, a bigger debt, and a weaker private sector.”

The nation is heading toward an abyss and Americans know that we cannot continue to borrow and tax in order to maintain spending beyond our means. Democrats know this too. They realize that any budget that proposes huge tax increases (on everyone because there just aren't enough 'rich' people to tax despite their rhetoric to the contrary) will be at odds with their constituents and they don't want to risk their potential re-election by actually doing their jobs. So they do nothing, hurtling us closer to the drop-off.

I take that back - they do do something. They commit dereliction of duty hoping you won't notice.

Sadly, they're probably right.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New AFP ad highlights Obama's job creation - overseas

We all know about President Barak Obama's penchant for spending your tax dollars on 'green energy' companies. 

It was supposed to be an 'investment' in green jobs but all we have to do mention names like Solyndra (bankrupt), America's worst wind energy project, First Solar (laying off thousands), Solar Trust for America (bankrupt), Evergreen Solar (bankrupt), or SpectraWatt (bankrupt) to know how that turned out.

But many do not know that a lot of that so-called stimulus money, designed to improve the employment picture here in the United States, actually went to create job overseas.

Americans for Prosperity has put together a few of the highlights on how those stimulus dollars were spent:

*  $2.3 billion in tax credits went to create jobs in foreign countries.
*  $1.2 billion went to a solar energy company to help finance a new plant in Mexico.
*  $500 million to an electric car company which created hundreds of jobs in Finland.
*  Tens of millions of dollars to build traffic lights in China.

But they're not counting on just bloggers and press releases to share this information. Here is their latest ad:

I saw this commercial twice last night during prime time. It's running in eight states, including Ohio where Obama's 'green energy' plans aren't just tanking in terms of creating new jobs, but are responsible for killing existing jobs here as part of his promise to bankrupt the coal industry.

I'm certainly not in favor of government picking the winners and losers in the marketplace via such funding, but if you're going to spend the money, at least ensure that our American tax dollars are helping American taxpayers, for goodness sake!

This is an important election.  Don't hope that your family, friends and neighbors will see this ad or read a blog about it.  Spread the word - especially to those union workers with the bumper stickers that say "Out of a job yet?  Keep buying foreign."  Make sure they know that their union leaders are firmly and staunchly supporting Obama - and spending their union dues to help a President who is sending jobs overseas.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Details of proposal to exend benefits to domestic partners of City of Toledo employees

Mayor Mike Bell has proposed extending health insurance benefits to City of Toledo employees who are in a domestic partnership.  Here are the details....

Press Release:

Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell today sent legislation to City Council proposing to include the qualified and registered domestic partners of city employees in the eligibility for certain benefits. The legislation would extend the same health, dental and vision benefits to partners as is offered to spouses and dependant children of city employees.

Eligibility would be extended to same sex or heterosexual couples who meet the definition of “domestic partner” as set forth in Chapter 114 of the Toledo Municipal Code. The legal definition was established in 2007 when Toledo enacted the Domestic Partnership Registry. Couples must participate in the registry to formalize their relationship and be eligible for the benefits.

The benefits do not come without a cost to employees. Similar to employees that participate in the city plan to access coverage for a spouse or children, the premium cost must be paid for a single plus one or family coverage. Additionally, under the federal Internal Revenue Code, the value of the benefits is considered imputed income for employees and will be reflected in their W-2.

“This legislation helps us update our human resources policies, attempts to provide equal standing for all of our employees, and allows us to be a more competitive employer through our recruitment and hiring policies,” said Mayor Bell.

Toledo is not charting a new course with the proposed policy. Other Ohio cities and counties including Cleveland, Columbus, Lucas County and Franklin County offer domestic partner benefits, as does the University of Toledo and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Currently, 21 states and over 200 local governments nationwide and 14 colleges and universities around Ohio offer health insurance and other benefits to their employees’ domestic partners.

The administration will ask for first reading of the legislation at the May 1st agenda review meeting of council.

Definition of domestic partnership in Toledo Municipal Code:

114.01. Definitions.

DEFINITIONS. As used in this Chapter:

(1) "Domestic partnership" refers to the non-marital intimate relationship of two adults of the same or different sex, who share a common residence and affirm that they share responsibility for each other's common welfare, and have signed and filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the City.

(2) "Share a common residence" means that both domestic partners share the same residence. It is not necessary that both domestic partners have title to the property where they reside or the legal right to possess the common residence. Two people may share a common residence even if one or both have additional residences. Domestic partners do not cease to share a common residence if one leaves the common residence but intends to return.

(3) Domestic partners will be deemed to have an "intimate" relationship and to "share responsibility for one another's common welfare" if they execute a Declaration of Domestic Partnership affirming that such facts are true.
(Ord. 705-07. Passed 11-13-07.)

Text of the legislation:


Authorizing the Mayor to amend plan documents of the of Toledo’s hospitalization/health, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefit plan descriptions to include “domestic partners”, and declaring an emergency


By Ordinance No. 705-07, enacted on November 13, 2007, this Council established a Domestic Partnership Registry maintained by the City for committed unmarried couples, becoming the first major city in Ohio to do so. In addition, this Council was among the first in the entire state of Ohio to extend protection from discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in matters of employment and public accommodations, by Ordinance 1183-98, enacted on December 8, 1998.

Currently, 21 states and over 200 local governments, at least 98 Fortune 100 companies, 442 Fortune 500 companies, and approximately 9,000 other private companies, non-profit organizations and unions provide health insurance and other benefits to their employees’ domestic partners. In Toledo, these employers include the University of Toledo, Lucas County, Owens Corning, and the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Franklin County offer their employees domestic partner benefits and at least 14 Ohio public and private universities and colleges offer these benefits.

In order to further Toledo’s long-standing commitment to recruit and to retain the best employees for the City, and to ensure that the terms and conditions of City employment are extended on an equal basis to all employees, this Council has determined to provide employment benefits to employees’ domestic partners in registered domestic partnerships.

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

SECTION 1: That the Mayor of Toledo is authorized to amend and to execute as appropriate and as soon as practicable the plan documents of the City of Toledo’s hospitalization/health, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefit plan descriptions to include “domestic partners” of City of Toledo employees, as “domestic partner” is defined in accordance with Toledo Municipal Code Section 114, as necessary to effectuate the terms set forth in this Ordinance and to the extent allowable by state and federal law.

SECTION 2: That upon completion of any necessary amendments as authorized herein, a City of Toledo employee’s registered and qualified domestic partner, and the dependent children of the employee’s registered domestic partner, shall be treated in the same manner as a City of Toledo employee’s spouse or dependent children for the purpose of the following benefits: hospitalization/health insurance, prescription drug program, dental care insurance, sick leave, funeral leave, and any other applicable benefit afforded to an employee, their spouse, or their dependent children, to the extent allowable by state and federal law, including but not limited to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and the Family
Medical Leave Act.

SECTION 3: To qualify for any benefit as described under Sections 1 and 2 of this Ordinance, a City of Toledo employee must register Declaration of Domestic Partnership, in accordance with Toledo Municipal Code Section 114.04, with the Clerk of Toledo City Council.

SECTION 4: Upon a City of Toledo employee’s filing of a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership by an employee, the benefits as provided under this section to a registered domestic partner or the dependent children of the registered domestic partner shall terminate.

SECTION 5: That this Ordinance is hereby declared to be an emergency measure and shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage. The reason for the emergency lies in the fact that the same is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property, and for the further reason that this Ordinance must be immediately effective to preserve the City’s standing as a competitive employment environment and to provide for equal access to benefits for all City of Toledo employees.

Hypocrisy thy name is Nancy Pelosi

I awoke this morning to a Fox News update on WSPD and immediately broke into a fit of laughter.  It was not the deep belly, happy laughter that has you rolling on the floor, but one of derision and disbelief.

What was it that so abruptly wrenched me from my drowsy awakening?  This quote from House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

"We will not support a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul."

She was referring to the Republican plan to cut Obamacare to pay for the cost of extending a low interest rate on student loans:

On Friday, the House will vote on a Republican bill to keep Stafford student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent. The $5.9 billion proposal would be paid for by cutting money from President Obama's healthcare overhaul.
The Democrats, on the other hand, "would pay for a one-year interest rate cut by increasing Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on the top earners and owners of some privately held corporations."

How is taxing top earners and business owners to pay for someone else's college loans NOT robbing Peter to pay Paul?!?  Can you say 'stuck-on-stupid'?

The entire quote from Pelosi gives us a better understanding of her position:

“We will not support a bill that robs Peter to pay Paul, which ostensibly supports a middle-class initiative while making those very same people pay for it.”

So let's get this straight - she doesn't want the people who are going to benefit from an intiative to have to pay for it, but she believes other people should?  Sorry, Nancy, but that's "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

The fact is that both positions require others to pay for the lower interest rates - both rob Peter to pay Paul, so Pelosi's statement is sheer, unadulterated hypocrisy.  And why didn't anyone at her press conference call her on it?

The other fact is that government has nothing that it didn't first take from someone else.  Our entire governmental structure is, ostensibly, based upon robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Some of those payments are justified by the authority of the Constitution (national defense, for example).  But others, like government loans for college, are not.

The problem is that too many do not understand that government has to first take from some before it can give to others.  Eventually someone has to pay ... and it is usually the ones who don't benefit from the expenditure who are forking over the dough.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bell to propose domestic partner benefits for City of Toledo employees

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell will hold a press conference tomorrow to annouce his proposed legislation that would extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees.  Interestingly, they mention that since 2007, the Domestic Partner Registry the city created for residents has had 167 couples participate.  (Why they believe the participation of .1% of the population on a registry is important to the pending legislation is unknown.)

I did send an email to the city to ask if they've estimated the cost of this extension of benefits, considering that the city plans to raid $12 million from the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) fund just to balance the 2012 budget.  I'll let you know what they say.

Here is the press release:

Mayor to propose legislation extending benefits to Domestic Partners

Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell will be joined by members of Toledo City Council and Equality Toledo at a press conference at 10 a.m. Friday, April 27, 2012 in the lobby of One Government Center to announce the introduction of legislation extending benefits to domestic partners of City employees.

Toledo City Council in 2007 passed legislation creating a Domestic Partnership Registry to recognized unmarried residents of the city who have formed committed and faithful relationships. Since 2007, 167 couples around the community have registered to formally acknowledge their relationship. The practice of offering employee benefits to domestic partners is not new policy in Ohio. Local employers including the University of Toledo, Lucas County, Owens Corning and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce currently offer domestic partner benefits. Additionally the cities of Cleveland and Columbus and Franklin County in Ohio include domestic partners in their benefits package eligibility.

The administration will ask for first reading of the legislation at the May 1st Agenda Review meeting.


Debbie Wasserman Schultz - against the budget before she was for it?

In an interview on Fox News Tuesday, Bret Baier asked Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz about budgets, specifically the lack of a budget from the U.S. Senate in three years.  The budget discussion begins at the 2 minute mark. 

Baier, noting that Democrats have gone out of their way to criticize the budget presented by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), said there was no Democrat budget on the table.

Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) objected stating that Pres. Barack Obama had submitted a budget.  But Baier continued saying the President's budget wasn't being voted on.

“That’s right, because House Republicans voted it down,” she said.


The vote on Obama's most recent budget was 414-0. 

It wasn't just House Republicans who voted it down - not a single Democrat voted for it, including Wasserman Schultz herself!

Hypocrisy, lies, distortions ... how does she live with herself?

Too bad Baier didn't ask her about her own vote...

Ohio House passes MBR Omnibus bill

Press Release:

Ohio House Passes House Bill 487, MBR Omnibus Legislation

Legislation aims to save taxpayer dollars, improve health and safety for all Ohioans

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today voted to pass House Bill 487, which is a component of the mid-biennium review that provides authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs. Goals of the bill include, among other things, streamlining state government, reducing state spending, and improving services for the mentally and physically disabled.

“House Bill 487 is an all-encompassing piece of good policy that makes adjustments to specific areas of our state government and invests in our communities,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “Through several weeks of constructive committee hearings in which members from both sides of the aisle engaged in thoughtful discussions, I believe we’ve passed a bill today that best serves all Ohioans.”

Major provisions passed as part of House Bill 487 include:

* Streamlining state government and saving taxpayer dollars: Maintains our commitment to consolidating state government and spending tax dollars wisely by taking the unprecedented step of reviewing all appropriation line-items in a non-budget year, leading to the consolidation, merging, renaming or repurposing of more than 135 individual appropriation line items, which rendered nearly $69 million in savings over this biennium.

Safeguarding the Elderly: Creates the Aging in Place Pilot Program, a pilot program for 180 households in southwest Ohio to receive health services and home repairs to attempt to allow more elderly people to stay at home longer.

Protecting the Environment: Creates the Healthy Lake Erie Fund and provides a $3 million appropriation to reduce algae blooms on Lake Erie.

Ensuring healthcare in underserved areas: Protects state funding for Federally Qualified Health Center.

Working to eliminate drug addiction in major affected areas: Directs the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction services to create pilot project in Franklin and Scioto counties for the use of a non-addictive opiate treatment with the voluntary cooperation of individuals in the criminal justice system.

Protecting all Ohioans: Enacts the recommendations of the Criminal Sentencing Work Group that continues the reform efforts contained in HB 153 to ensure that individuals in the criminal justice system are serving their sentences in the most cost effective manner for Ohio taxpayers while maintaining public safety.

*  Improving services for the developmentally disabled: Improves the state and local developmental disabled agencies and provides more decision-making authority for disabled individuals.
“Today, the House has reaffirmed its commitment to a steady course to budget recovery as we approve a wide range of program and process improvements for the citizens of Ohio,” Chairman Amstutz said. “I would like to thank Governor Kasich and his administration for proposing these improvement measures.

House Bill 487 received bipartisan support and will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.


Ohio House passes ODSA bill - creates TourismOhio

Press Release:

Ohio House Passes ODSA Legislation for Economic Development and Government Reform

Bill aims to spur further job creation, enhance Ohio’s tourism efforts

COLUMBUS—In an effort to spur long-term economic development and streamline Ohio’s government structure, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation that, when enacted, will reform the Ohio Department of Development in order to continue revitalizing Ohio’s job creation efforts.

When enacted, House Bill 489 will complete the transition from the Ohio Department of Development to the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). The legislation will revitalize Ohio’s job creation efforts by providing essential services to JobsOhio—the state’s private, non-profit entity created through House Bill 1—including the administration and oversight of loans and tax credits that will further create and expand Ohio businesses.

“House Bill 489 reaffirms our commitment to making Ohio a state that welcomes businesses, tourists, and above all, jobs,” said Representative Dovilla. “Creating an environment which encourages businesses to expand in our state and supports minority-owned business is critical as we seek to restore the promise of opportunity for all Ohioans to prosper.”

Specifically, the legislation would:

* Create a pilot program, TourismOhio, to provide a dedicated funding source for tourism marketing;

* Improve access to capital for minority-owned businesses by increasing the amount of financing available; and

*  Reform the tax credit process to ensure businesses are not penalized by delays due to the meeting schedule of the Ohio Tax Credit Authority.
Additionally, the legislation creates within ODSA the Office of TourismOhio, which will be funded through a five-year pilot program that links funding for TourismOhio to the growth in sales tax revenues of tourism-related industries. The TourismOhio Advisory Board the bill creates will include industry experts to provide guidance and support efforts to promote Ohio tourism, on which visitors spend more than $36 billion annually in Ohio.

“Tourism accounts for 439,000 jobs in our state and is clearly a sector that deserves more attention,” said Representative Hagan. “By passing House Bill 489 and showing our commitment to a more effective government structure, we are creating an environment where jobs and the tourism related industry flourish. This is a sound and promising investment for Ohioans. In 2011 we saw a substantial return on investment of $14 for every $1 the state invested. The 129th General Assembly is committed to job creation opportunities on every front. I am committed to seeking new and unique opportunities and ways for our economy to prosper.”

House Bill 489 passed by a vote of 91-5 and will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further discussion.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ohio House passes Lake Erie water withdrawal bill

Press Release:

Ohio House Passes House Bill 473 to Permit Responsible Lake Erie Water Withdrawal
Legislation would encourage business growth, job creation

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation to establish a permitting process to protect Lake Erie and its tributaries from potentially harmful withdrawals and to establish other requirements related to the implementation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

House Bill 473, sponsored by State Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), provides strong protections for the Lake Erie watershed while, at the same time, ensuring that businesses and agriculture can still grow and create jobs.

“It is extremely important to me and to my colleagues in the Legislature that, in the effort to improve our business climate, we safeguard Ohio’s most precious resource—Lake Erie,” said Representative Wachtmann. “House Bill 473 provides the strong and necessary protections that we all want for the Lake Erie watershed, while also developing the jobs associated with steel plants, farms and many factories in Ohio’s industrial corridor.”

House Bill 473 includes significant compromises from the original House Bill 231 and has received the support of Governor John Kasich—who collaborated on the crafting of this legislation—as well as numerous interested parties and business groups across Ohio.

It greatly reduces the threshold levels compared to House Bill 231 and creates a stakeholder group tasked with studying the issue of significant adverse impacts and bringing recommendations back to the Legislature as to how to resolve the issue. Until that time, House Bill 473 offers guidance to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on how to assess potential impacts.

“This is an opportunity for us to balance being good stewards of our water resources and fostering a more competitive economic climate,” Representative Wachtmann said. “Promoting job creation in Ohio’s hard-hit industrial corridor is just one of the ways we can help revitalize struggling communities without damaging other areas of our way of life.”

House Bill 473 will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further discussion.


Toledo City Council Meeting - April 24, 2012

Notes from Sherry - she has some comments and they are bolded.  Additionally, the TARTA appointment was William Thomas, Executive Director of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District/COO of Downtown Toledo Development Corp.  The Port Authority appointment was Sharon Speyer, President of the Northwest Ohio Region for Huntington National Bank.

In attendance: Councilwomen Webb, Hicks-Hudson, Councilmen Ludeman, Martinez, McNamara, Copeland, Sarantou, Collins, Riley, Craig, Steel, Waniewski, woman sitting in for Mayor (?), later replaced by Deputy Mayor Herwat.

Item 134 – Appointment – Director of Inspection – Hold until May 8th.

Item 185 – Appointment – TARTA – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 186 – Appointment – Toledo – Lucas County Port Authority – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 188 – Resolution – Recognize Stan Stachak – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 187 – Resolution – Recognize Makala White, Statewide Poetry Outloud Winner – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 215 – Zone change at 1420 Starr Ave. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 216 – Zone change at 1422-1426 Starr Ave. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 189 – Resolution – Support Workers' Memorial Day – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 190 – Resolution – Support UFCW Local 75 at American Red Cross Blood Services – Webb – I see that the workers are here (all dressed the same) - this was discussed at Agenda Review – I've passed out a paper with stronger language for the bill – we have gone to the table in good faith – this is unfair labor practice – this is the same Council that had a Resolution against SB 5 – allow your conscious to be your guide – this is for all those people that pay taxes. (Why is Council getting involved in a private business? We don't work for a Union, but we pay taxes. She has a wrong attitude towards people, especially those who don't work for a Union. Remember, she represents all of the people that live in District 6, not just the ones who work for a Union. SZ)  passed – Ludeman, Waniewski – no, rest yes.

Item 214 – SUP for greenhouse at 4747 Hill Ave. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 217 – Zone change at 1042 Woodville Rd. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 218 Amend SUP for 24-hour operation of convenience store at 2953-2963 Tremainsville (PC Disapproved) – Waniewski – I'm going to support this – Planning Commission disapproved – don't like the compliance – fuel store needs to be open 24-hours, a couple of stores around it are open 24-hours. Webb – this same gas station (name) is not open 24-hours in her district – abuts neighborhood – gang members from Asbury Park hanging around – denied permit – she will be voting no. Steel – What is the reaction from the neighbors? Waniewski – They're OK, nobody seems to mind. Passed – Webb, McNamara, Copeland – no, rest yes.

Item 191 – Accept additional State grant for Misdemeanant Intensive Supervision (MIS) for Municipal Court, $20,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 192 – Sale of 20' strip of real property at 11013 Airport Highway to Days Inn at Airport, $6,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 193 – Accept HUD grants, 38th Yr CDBG $6,839,464, 21st Yr HOME $1,682,898, 26th Yr ESG $610,343 – Martinez – First step to accepting – I'll have the final draft this weekend. McNamara - to have it reworked – get with Martinez. Steel – same concerns. Collins – the policy for Bethany House through the Department of Neighborhoods – applied in good faith. Martinez – answers by this Friday. Steel – what about the homeless fund? passed – all voting yes.

Item 194 – Amend TMC Sec. 965.10(5) to shorten No-Wake Zone from MLK Bridge to High Level Bridge – passed – all voting yes.

Item 195 – Authorize contract for auctioneer services and hold auctions to sell surplus vehicles and equipment – passed – all voting yes.

Item 196 – Establish and enforce Berkey Fixed Rate for existing water consumers in the Village of Berkey – to Utilities Committee, meeting on 4/30 at 4 PM.

Item 197 – Appropriation for new roof at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $9,200,000 Water Bond Fund - 1st Reading.

Item 198 – Appropriation for additional chlorine facility at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $5,050,000 Water Bond - 1st Reading.

Item 199 – Appropriation to upgrade SCADA System at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $4,958,704 Water Bond – passed – all voting yes.

Item 200 – Appropriation for vehicles & equipment at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $400,000 Water Replacement - 1st Reading.

Item 201 – Appropriation for new boiler system piping at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $350,000Water Bond – passed – all voting yes.

Item 202 – Re-appropriate funds for engineering services for Collins Park Water Treatment Plant, $200,000 Water Operations – passed – all voting yes.

Item 203 – Appropriation for chemical lab testing equipment for Collins Park Water Treatment, $200,000 Water Replacement - 1st Reading.

Item 204 – Expenditure for 2 storage tanks for Water Treatment Low Service Pump Station, $35,000 Water Operations – passed – all voting yes.

Item 205 – Appropriation for 2012 Sidewalk Program , $382,630 Assessed Improvement Fund – passed – all voting yes.

Item 206 – Expenditure to ESRI for GIS software and support for Engineering Services, $142,900 Sewer Improvement & CIP – passed – all voting yes.

Item 207 – Resolution – Street Lighting – E. Pearl St. from Elm St. to Chestnut St. - adopted – all voting yes. Item 208 – Street Lighting – Ryan Rd. from Cass Rd. to Eastgate Rd. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 209 – Re-appropriate funds for for secondary tunnel pipe support for Water Reclamation, $49,582 Sewer Bond – passed – all voting yes.

Item 210 – Amend TMC Ch. 930, sewer discharge control program for Environmental Services - 1st Reading.

Item 211 – Re-appropriate 2010 Street Resurfacing CIP funds for 2012 Sidewalk Program, $229,293 CIP Fund – passed – all voting yes.

Item 212 – Establish Trust Fund to celebrate National Drinking Water Week – passed – all voting yes.

Item 213 – Agreement with Lucas County for county-wide EMS, 1 year plus renewals – Martinez – has a problem with auto renewal. Representative for EMS – re-assures him what this is going for. Martinez – repeats his prior statement – passed – all voting yes.

Item 219 – Resolution – Object to renewal of liquor permit at Big Shots, 931 W. Central Ave. - Collins – committee meeting on this yesterday – from 2009 till now, there have been 70 calls – 1 fatality – 30 arrested recently – tried to cover up the smell of marijuana – they have called, but Police Officers will not work there privately – terminate license – passed – Riley abstaining, rest yes.

Item 168 – Resolution – Levy assessments for sanitary sewer for N. Detroit Ave., Dearden Place and Birdsall Rd. - Hold till 5/8.

Item 177 – Amend Ordinance 46-12 to assign net proceeds to United North from sale of One Martime Plaza, $143,000 – Executive Session, 20 minutes – McNamara abstaining – passed – all voting yes.

Last Call:

Hicks-Hudson – Code 111 and 112 – look at these for next meeting. Wants to know about tree trimming and grass cutting in vacant lots.

Ludeman – Went walking for the March of Dimes along River, bring the plight of early birth into the light – great event.

Riley – Winfred Park – inform as to changes/modifications. Former TPS sites in District 1 – what has been acquired?

Sarantou – HR meeting Thursday at 1:30. Thanks all the young people that volunteered for Global Earth Day.

Steel – time line for the work on Collingwood Ave. - also for pump repairs.

Waniewski – Thanks Sarantou for attending a meeting in his area. Need to pay attention to paving on Monroe St.

Webb – Steering Committee meeting to meet Thursday at 4 PM. Collins – Return of property on Winthrop – Beverly grade school for park/green space – where is it at? Neighbors want to take the responsibility/upkeep for the park. Cruthers – will get back to you on the property.

McNamara – Committee of the Whole meeting tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote of the Day - Frederick Douglass

"I know no class of my fellowmen, however just, enlightened, and humane, which can be wisely and safely trusted absolutely with the liberties of any other class."  ~  Frederick Douglass

Monday, April 23, 2012

Calling all conservatives

Conservatives across the nation know how important it is that we elect individuals who don't just talk about conservative principles - but live them, in votes and other actions.  The Tea Parties are a direct result of too many Republicans no longer following the basic tenets of the party - limited government, lower taxation and personal responsibility.

Regaining control of our government requires "We the People" to act - and most often, the fight begins in the primary elections.  Through the efforts of grass-roots conservatives, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah will actually have a primary race.

That is why I am sharing this call to action with you.

Below is an invitation from Ed Bell, Eastern Hills Tea Party in Cincinnati, to join in a May5th event to support Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock who is challenging Sen. Dick Lugar in their primary on May 8th.  Take a look at the candidates and help if you can:

Our Hoosier neighbors have been working non-stop to oust 36 year RINO incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in the May 8th Indiana Primary. The goal is to make Tea Party candidate and Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock the GOP candidate for November. I know we are all busy working to help Josh Mandel beat Sen. Sherrod Brown, but Lugar embodies everything about elite GOP politics that we are fighting as a movement. Ohio has been invited, along with many other state activists to attend a Saturday May 5th Get Out the Vote Rally and then go door-to-door, stay over in Indianapolis and continue GOTV efforts Sunday, and even Monday if possible. Is this a large request? You bet it is, but a win in Indy will shake both parties to their core and revitalize our movement.

Below I have copied an email from Brendan Steinhauser of FreedomWorks with more detail about the weekend and Lugar's abysmal record. I hope we can get a group of Ohioans to attend, at least on Saturday. Please RSVP at

Interested in that road trip? FreedomWorks for America, Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, Tea Party Express, the NRA, and 45 Tea Party groups across Indiana are putting together a nationwide rally in support of Richard Mourdock on May 5, 2012 at Veterans Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis.

You can RSVP to attend the rally at Following the rally, we will be engaged in door walking and other GOTV efforts on the 5th-8th. It would be wonderful if you can attend and motivate your members, friends, and families to attend as well. Please consider joining in unity with Hoosier Tea Party groups across Indiana and demanding a true conservative-led Senate.

Why is the Indiana Senate race important to non-Hoosiers? This closely fought contest between Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock and 36-year moderate Republican incumbent Richard Lugar is the defining race in 2012 for the Tea Party movement. This is Scott Brown 2.0. As you know, the media is presenting the Tea Party movement as dead. Richard Mourdock's election will fundamentally change that narrative. And it will drive enthusiasm for the Tea Party across the country. It will energize support for Ted Cruz in Texas, Josh Mandel in Ohio, Jeff Flake in Arizona, and other Tea Party candidates across the country. Please RSVP for this important rally that will drive momentum for Mourdock and the Tea Party Movement in the final days of the race at

Why is your attendance and support so important? A few years ago, Tea Party folks from around the country descended on Massachusetts in the days before the primary, and through enthusiasm and GOTV efforts, led Scott Brown to victory. We can do the same in Indiana! Recent polling shows Richard Mourdock within a few points of Richard Lugar, and Lugar is polling at 42%, abysmal for an incumbent. Lugar has a history of terrible votes, incuding supporting TARP, proposing a health care individual mandate, calling for a gas tax increase in 2009, and supporting the appointment of Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan. He also hasn't lived in Indiana since 1977. He is everything that is wrong with the out-of-touch Washington, D.C. culture.

Mourdock is a true Tea Partier. Long before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate, Mourdock, as State Treasurer, jumped on an Indiana bus headed to the 9/12/2009 March on Washington. He is kind, humble, and would be a conservative thought leader in the U.S. Senate. But Lugar has a large financial advantage and the Washington and Hoosier Republican Establishment on his side. We need to unite and show that the Tea Party Movement is stronger than the moderate power-hungry establishment, and demand that our elected officials remain committed to the limited government conservative cause. Our PASSION can defeat Lugar's money.

If you can come to the rally, and stay an extra day or two for GOTV efforts, you can make an impact on a major Tea Party battle that will have major national implications for the Tea Party movement. This is a key battle in the war for ideological future of our country. Please join us and RSVP at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quote of the Day - taxation

Oh look, even on the subject of a complicated tax code, our Founders had wisdom.  Turns out, they were wise enough to anticipate many of the issues we face today.  It's too bad that too many individuals, including our elected officials, think their wisdom is antiquated, outdated and no longer relevant to our modern world.  They're seriously wrong.

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands."  ~  Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day - what are we really celebrating?

Sunday is Earth Day.

What? You didn't know?

It seems that every April 22nd, we're supposed to celebrate our planet. Personally, I 'celebrate' it every day considering it provides for my very existence, but what do I know?

What we're actually celebrating, though it's not really described as such, is the birth of the environmental movement.

It all started in 1970:

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson's New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.
Yes, Silent Spring, a book that in 1992 had been named one of the most influential books of the past 50 years. In case you're not familiar with it, the book 'detailed' all the alleged horrors of modern chemicals and the damage they would do to the planet and its inhabitants. Its main focus was the pesticide DDT.

The American military began testing it in 1942 and it quickly became the cardinal weapon used by the military to protect troops in areas laden with vector-borne diseases such as typhus and malaria. It was so effective at halting the spread of these diseases that it was hailed as "the wonder insecticide of World War II." (Bailey)

After the war was over, farmers adopted the use of the pesticide. It was both cheaper - as low as $0.25 per pound - and less damaging than previous arsenic-based insecticides which had absolutely disastrous consequences.
The use of DDT is credited with eliminating malaria in the southern states and the World Health Organization says its prevention of malaria is responsible for saving between 50-100 million lives. But Carson put forth another perspective, as this article from 2002 explains:

Memorably, she painted a scenario in which birds had all been poisoned by insecticides, resulting in a "silent spring" in which "no birds sing."

The scientific controversy over the effects of DDT on wildlife, especially birds, still vexes researchers. In the late 1960s, some researchers concluded that exposure to DDT caused eggshell thinning in some bird species, especially raptors such as eagles and peregrine falcons. Thinner shells meant fewer hatchlings and declining numbers. But researchers also found that other bird species, such as quail, pheasants, and chickens, were unaffected even by large doses DDT.

On June 14, 1972, 30 years ago this week, the EPA banned DDT despite considerable evidence of its safety offered in seven months of agency hearings. After listening to that testimony, the EPA's own administrative law judge declared, "DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man...DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man...The use of DDT under the regulations involved here [does] not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife." Today environmental activists celebrate the EPA's DDT ban as their first great victory.
But there were serious problems with Carson's position:

To bolster her case for the dangers of DDT, Carson improperly cited cases of acute exposures to the chemical as proof of its cancer-causing ability. For example, she told the story of a woman who sprayed DDT for spiders in her basement and died a month later of leukemia. In another case, a man sprayed his office for cockroaches and a few days later was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Today cancer specialists would dismiss out of hand the implied claims that these patients' cancers could be traced to such specific pesticide exposures. The plain fact is that DDT has never been shown to be a human carcinogen even after four decades of intense scientific scrutiny.
Of course, any good scare tactic is only better when you include children. Carson claimed in her book that "Today, more American school children die of cancer than from any other disease." But even that was a distortion.

It turns out that the percentage of children dying of cancer was rising because other causes of death, such as infectious diseases, were drastically declining.

In fact, cancer rates in children have not increased, as they would have if Carson had been right that children were especially susceptible to the alleged health effects of modern chemicals
The article continues (emphasis added):

The Great Cancer Scare launched by Carson, and perpetuated by her environmentalist disciples ever since, should have been put to rest by a definitive 1996 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens in the Human Diet. The NAS concluded that levels of both synthetic and natural carcinogens are "so low that they are unlikely to pose an appreciable cancer risk." Worse yet from the point of view of anti-chemical crusaders, the NAS added that Mother Nature's own chemicals probably cause more cancer than anything mankind has dreamed up: "Natural components of the diet may prove to be of greater concern than synthetic components with respect to cancer risk."

Meanwhile, Carson's disciples have managed to persuade many poor countries to stop using DDT against mosquitoes. The result has been an enormous increase in the number of people dying of malaria each year. Today malaria infects between 300 million and 500 million people annually, killing as many 2.7 million of them. Anti-DDT activists who tried to have the new U.N. treaty on persistent organic pollutants totally ban DDT have stepped back recently from their ideological campaign, conceding that poor countries should be able to use DDT to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

So 40 years after the publication of Silent Spring, the legacy of Rachel Carson is more troubling than her admirers will acknowledge.
Along with other researchers, she was simply ignorant of the facts. But after four decades in which tens of billions of dollars have been wasted chasing imaginary risks without measurably improving American health, her intellectual descendants don't have the same excuse.

Or, as Tom Blumer of BizzyBlog wrote at Newsbusters:

The real "lesson" is that "Silent Spring" was perhaps the first successful use of junk science paired with corporation-bashing media hype to fool the general public.
Today, the same people who refuse to acknowledge the truth about DDT have embarked upon another 'junk science' premise - that humans are responsible for global warming that is going to devastate the planet. From the Earth Day web site:

Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history.
Considering how wrong these people were about DDT, it is any wonder so many (including prominent scientists) are skeptical about their global warming claims? The fact that they had to change the name to 'climate change' should tell you everything you need to know.

Earth Day is not a celebration of this magnificent, wonderful, beautiful planet that provides all the things we need to live and survive. It's not a thankfulness for the riches in the ground and in the sea. It's certainly not an appreciation for the innovators and entrepreneurs who created the methods to allow us to use these resources to make our lives better. But it should be.

Instead, it's a political ploy to advance an agenda - based originally (and continually) upon junk science that has caused untold misery and millions of death.

So tomorrow, when they tout all the feel-good, care for the earth, sustainability news, remember that this is what they want you to celebrate.

Friday, April 20, 2012

BlogConCLT 'hate tweet'

These tweets were sent out by @Trollololoumad regarding some earlier comments from BlogCon attendees who thought it was too cold in the meeting room.  For the record, it is cold in the room, but since I usually expect that, I have a sweater. 

But this is just beyond the pale:

@Trollolololumad:  Seminar topics for #BlogConCLT --- Snort coke until your heart explodes and you leave your family nothing - the #Breitbart way.

@Trollolololumad: Whining #BlogConCLT baggers are too lazy to generate heat. Do a jumping jack, you fat hogs, or your heart will explode like #Breitbart's.

@Trollolololumad: How goddamn fat, lazy, useless and retarded do you have to be to go to #BlogConCLT? #Breitbart-like?

And they say conservatives have no compassion...

Dereliction of duty part 2 - Dems fail to show for budget meeting

From Hot Air comes this Picture of the Day

Guy Benson says that this is a picture worth 1,086 words — one for each day since the Democrat-led Senate passed the budget resolution required by law each April 15th. This picture comes from yesterday’s so-called “mark-up session” of the Senate Budget Committee, a meeting which chair Kent Conrad helpfully promoted by declaring that he wouldn’t allow any votes to be taken on budgets. That turned the meeting into nothing more than a discussion forum, one that Conrad’s colleagues decided to skip. The picture, taken by a Republican staffer at the meeting, shows all 11 Republicans sitting on the far side of the table — and almost no Democrats in their chairs:

The meeting was broadcast on one of the C-SPAN channels, so this isn’t exactly a secret. Only three Democrats bothered to show up at all, out of a dozen assigned to it. Republicans showed up, prepared to cast votes to finally bring the ignominious streak of 1,085 days (as of yesterday) without a budget resolution to an end. Sadly, Democrats — who control the committee, the chamber, and the White House — don’t have the same sense of responsibility.
You'll need to go to the links to see the photo - but it's worth it.  Talk about pricelesss!

BlogCon - Charlotte - 2012

I'm at BlogConCLT in Charlotte, NC, today for training and networking.  This is a great conference with something for everyone, no matter how long they've been blogging.

One of the things that surprised me today is the number of bloggers who have not been to a BlogCon before.  Last year in Denver was my first time and I learned a lot about being a better blogger.  I know this will be very worthwhile with new friends and new contacts, along with a host of new blogs to read as we endeavor to provide an alternative to the MSM.

I won't be blogging all the topics like I've done with other conferences, but will definitely cover Katie Pavlich, author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up, who is our lunch speaker today.  There will be a memorial to Andrew Breitbart this afternoon and then a FreedomWorks candidate reception this evening.  Josh Mandel, running for Senate here in Ohio, is one of their endorsed candidates, though I do not know if he is able to attend tonight's reception.

Tomorrow's agenda includes an update on health care, Deneer Borelli, Stephen Moore, and a session on the Constitution and today's issues.

BlogCon is presented by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity

Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade and publisher of one the United States’ most prominent early newspapers, once said, “a newspaper in every house… [is] the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.” Today, Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity carries on that legacy, animated by the belief that voters need real information to make informed decisions about their government – and that the American public simply does not have enough.

Franklin Center was established in 2009 to answer this need – and already provides 10 percent of all daily reporting from state capitals nationwide. We support an in-house team of state-based reporters and act as a capacity-building service provider for organizations that sponsor investigative journalism.

With transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility as our watchwords, Franklin Center identifies, trains, and supports journalists working to detect and expose corruption and incompetence in government at the state and local levels. Our competitive advantage lies in our ability to train reporters, to produce investigative news content, and to hold government officials accountable.

They will be offering a Citizen Watchdog Training in Westerville, OH, on May 12th. 

In 2012, we launched our information activist training program, Citizen Watchdog. Recognizing that many of the greatest threats to our freedom and prosperity occur at the local level, where there are often no reporters or citizen observers to hold elected officials accountable, we will raise an army of citizen journalists, trained and equipped to serve as watchdogs in their local communities.
I will be one of the speakers at this training and will be covering Ohio Public Records Law.  I hope you'll join us!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dereliction of duty - 1,086 days and counting

Since our current budget problems and debt haven't caused enough angst and uncertainty, the Senate is going to add to the problem by NOT passing a budget again this year. 

As The Hill reports:

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) bowed to pressure from fellow Democrats on Tuesday and postponed a committee vote on a 2013 budget resolution, most likely until after the November elections.

Conrad on Wednesday will begin a committee markup of a resolution based on the Bowles-Simpson deficit recommendations, but told reporters there is no date scheduled on which the markup vote would occur.

“This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” he said. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”
This is the "wrong time"?!?  The wrong time for whom? 

Apparently for Senators who have an election this year.  I guess getting re-elected is more important than doing your job in the first place.  Besides, if they pass a budget, all those Senators will be on the record and we certainly can't have that, now can we?  As the Free Beacon reports:

Many suspect that Conrad’s plan was derailed at the last minute by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and other Senate Democrats, who did not wish to cast political difficult votes on health care, energy, taxes, and government waste just months before the 2012 election.

Imagine that!

As of today, it's 1,086 days (and counting) since the Senate passed a budget.  In case you're wondering, that's just nine days short of three years.

The Congressional Budget Act requires both houses of Congress to pass a budget - and the deadline is April 15th.  In fact, the Senate's own website details the law and dates.  Does April 15th sound familiar?  Can you imagine what would happen if we told the government that now was "wrong time" to pay our taxes because we had Christmas coming up that we needed to plan for?

No wonder people want to pass a 28th Amendment.

This is a clear dereliction of duty.  They have failed to uphold their responsibilities under a law that they, themselves, have passed.  They have ignored their duty to represent us by providing an authorized budget to enable and limit the spending by the federal government. 

No wonder our debt is over $15 Trillion and our deficit for 2012 is projected to be over $1 Trillion.  If you don't have a budget to dictate what you can spend, you can spend whatever you want.  And our Congress and President are doing just that.

But. you ask, if they're going to begin committee markup, aren't they doing their jobs?

Not exactly.  As Keith Hennessey explains, it's not a markup if you don't vote:

I imagine Chairman Conrad will receive favorable press coverage for proposing the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson recommendations. If he doesn’t use his power as Chairman to force a vote, however, then his proposal is little more than an interesting debate topic.

Unless I’m missing something Chairman Conrad is not marking up a budget resolution tomorrow. He is instead convening the committee for a discussion. He will lay down the Bowles-Simpson numbers as his own and everyone will talk. Then he will adjourn the meeting tomorrow without any votes, without any date to reconvene, without any deadline or forcing action for private bipartisan negotiations he hopes will then occur but for which he has low expectations of success.

It’s not a markup if you don’t vote.
Hennessey also agrees with me on the dereliction of duty: 

"The job of a Member of Congress is to vote on legislation, not to talk about legislation. Talk is sometimes helpful but If Members of Congress are not voting they’re not doing their job."
The worst part about all of this is not the failure to have a budget for the massive federal government.  It's not even the fact that our Senator are in violation of law and derelict. 

I think the worst part is that most of the nation hasn't got a clue and cares more about who made the cut on "American Idol" and whether or not people can get a knockoff of Angelina Jolie's engagement ring.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quote of the Day - government vs. the rich

Who has more power over you:  the government or the rich guy who lives in the big house in the wealthy part of the city?  I believe you have more tyranny from the government than you'll ever have from an individual who acquired wealth either through hard work or birth, even when that individual is your employer.  The liberal, leftist, progressives, marxists, socialists (they're all pretty much the same) war against the rich is only to distract us from the ever-growing power, wealth, control and tyranny of the government.  Don't be distracted simply because you're envious of what others have. 

"[T]he power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest fonctionaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work? And who will deny that a world in which the wealthy are powerful is still a better world than one in which only the already powerful can acquire wealth?"  ~  Friedrich August von Hayek

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

BREAKING: First Solar lays off 2,000, closes factory, idles production

Following bad news over the weekend, another solar firm announces major restructuring moves, including layoffs, today.

First Solar (FSLR) was kicked off the Nasdaq-100 Monday and replaced by Texas Instruments.  First Solar is based in Tempe, AZ, but was founded in Toledo under the name of Solar Cells, Inc.  Their only U.S. manufacturing facility is in Perrysburg Township.

In October, they fired their CEO.  In December, they announced 100 layoffs and a delay at their Mesa plant. 

Today, they announced further changes, including closing operations and laying off 2,000 - roughly 30% of their workforce:

As part of this program, First Solar will close its manufacturing operations in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, in the fourth quarter of 2012. Additionally, the Company will indefinitely idle four production lines at its manufacturing center in Kulim, Malaysia, on May 1, 2012. These actions, combined with other personnel reductions in Europe and the U.S., will reduce First Solar's global workforce by approximately 2,000 positions, about 30 percent of the total.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office offered nearly $4.5 billion in conditional loan guarantees to three of First Solar's projects. This is the same office that loaned tax dollars to the bankrupt Solyndra, the bankrupt Energy Conversion Devices Inc, and others as well as pledged funding to the bankrupt Solar Trust of America.  Earlier this month, First Solar received their first advance on one of the loans.

That loan was for the controversial Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One.  They projected that the Antelope Valley project would produce enough energy to power 54,000 homes, but as of the receipt of the loan, that number had jumped to 75,000 homes - though that seems a bit on the small side for "one of the largest such projects in the world."  And then there was this claim from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform:

For a specific example, the report claims that First Solar’s Antelope Valley project involved no true innovations and hence should not have been eligible for the treatment it received. The report claims that DOE employees deliberately bent the rules and modified their assessments to maintain First Solar’s eligibility, moves that eventually prompted Director of the Technical and Project Management Division, Dong Kim, to write in a June 2011 email:

Someone keeps changing [Antelope Valley Solar Ranch] Technical slides to include single axis trackers as an innovation. Be clear that this not an innovation. The record will show that we did not grade this as innovative during intake review. It will not stand up to scrutiny if compared with CVSR [California Valley Solar Ranch] trackers. Whoever continues to make this change needs to understand that Technical does not support the 20 percent of the CVSR field with trackers as an innovative component. [Emphasis added by report.]
It would be one thing—deplorable, to be sure—if the DOE’s loan guarantee program had insufficient procedural safeguards to protect taxpayer money. However, what the new report confirms is that on several occasions—and not just involving Solyndra—Administration officials allowed certain companies to receive government assistance only by bending or even ignoring the program’s own stated rules.

In March, the Washington Examiner revealed that First Solar used taxpayer grants and loans to sell its solar cells to itself
In September 2011, Ex-Im approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two wind farms in Canada. That means if the wind farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid.

But the buyer, in this case, was First Solar.

A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the wind farm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar's panels. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So, basically, First Solar was shipping its own solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this "export."

First Solar closed yesterday at $20.82, its lowest price ever and a far cry from its high of $317.00 in May of 2008.  They have scheduled a conference call today at 11 a.m. to discuss this announcement. A replay of the conversation will be available at 1 p.m. (instructions here).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Complaint on election laws filed in Ohio Supreme Court

Press Release:

 COLUMBUS—Today, Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and House Speaker Pro Tempore Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) jointly filed a complaint in the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the administration of Ohio election laws.
The following statement can be attributed in whole or in part to either Senator Niehaus or Rep. Blessing:

“Ohio’s elections should be administered under the laws established by an elected General Assembly. Unfortunately, due to the actions of the former secretary of state, the state’s chief elections officer has been compelled to issue directives that conflict with state law, particularly in the area of counting provisional ballots. These directives have created confusing standards for local elections officials as they prepare for another high-profile presidential election. We are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to uphold the authority of the legislature by clarifying that elections must be administered according to state law. It is our hope that the Court will review this matter as quickly as possible.”

A copy of the complaint can be viewed here.

April 17th tax irony

Today is Emancipation Day in Washington D.C.  It has been an official holiday since 2005.  As a result, all government offices in D.C. are closed, including the IRS.

Since the regular deadline for filing your taxes of April 15th was a Sunday this year, they would normally be due the following Monday.  But throw in a holiday, celebrated only in the nation's capital, and everyone gets an extra day in which to get their taxes postmarked and sent off to the government.

Ironically, April 17th is also Tax Freedom Day for the nation.  

"Americans will work 107 days into the year, from January 1 to April 17, to earn enough money to pay this year’s combined 29.2% federal, state, and local tax bill.

Tax Freedom Day is a vivid, calendar-based illustration of government’s cost, and it gives Americans an easy way to gauge the overall tax take. Conceived by Florida businessman Dallas Hostetler in 1948, he deeded the concept to the Tax Foundation upon his retirement in 1971."
This is four days later than it was last year - which means that it's taking you longer to earn enough to pay your taxes, as you can see from the calendar, courtesy of The Tax Foundation

Since the beginning of the year, you've been working not for yourself, your family and your goals - you've been working to pay your 'fair share,' despite the fact that nearly half of the nation doesn't.

The good news for Ohioans is that our tax day was April 12th.  Michigan's was April 14th.

The total tax burden borne by residents of different states varies considerably, not only due to differing state tax policies, but also because of the steep progressivity of the federal tax system. This means higher-income states celebrate Tax Freedom Day later: Connecticut (May 5), New Jersey (May 1), and New York (May 1) residents face a significantly higher total federal tax burden than lower-income states.

Residents of Tennessee will bear the lowest average tax burden in 2012, with Tax Freedom Day arriving for them on March 31. Also early are Louisiana (April 1), Mississippi (April 1), South Carolina (April 3), and South Dakota (April 4).
So as you're rushing to finalize your 1040s, you can rejoice because you've now earned enough to cover your tax and from now on you're actually working for yourself!

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