Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toledo has money burning a hole in its pocket

Cities and counties are getting their first revenue from the new casinos as the state cuts the checks today.

The Blade is reporting what Toledo plans to do with the money:

The city of Toledo also is to receive $192,041, much of which is likely to go into the general fund. City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said some of the money also may be placed in the city's budget stabilization "rainy day" fund "to begin building our reserves and getting ourselves back on solid financial ground."

But I think there's a problem with this. You see, back on January 31, when Toledo City Council passed the 2012 General Fund budget, they discussed the fact that the Hollywood Casino had to delay their opening date to June. As a result, Toledo was not going to get the total amount of revenue that they had budgeted because, obviously, there would be no revenue until the new attraction opened.

So, to make up the loss, they transferred $1.1 million out of the Capital Improvement Plan fund (CIP) to make up for the loss.

As I wrote at the time:

Actually, what makes it worse is that, based upon some updated projections, council decided it actually had about $1 million more than it had budgeted. But instead of reducing the amount they planned to take out of the CIP, they SPENT IT!

So council didn't reduce spending to accommodate the reduction in revenue - they stole from the CIP so they wouldn't have to cut. And then, after finding out they have roughly the same amount in unexpected revenue, spent that, too!

They could have just used the unexpected revenue to cover the unexpected reduction from the casino.

But not our city council!

So now Toledo is getting their first piece of the casino pie - and they're going to spend it like they planned.

Now, they *might* put it in the budget stabilization fund, which wouldn't be a bad thing, but they've not repaid the $50 million they've stolen from the CIP over the last several years and they still have budgeted a $12 million transfer out of CIP for 2012.

The problem isn't the revenue - it's the spending. Council had an opportunity NOT to raid the CIP in January when they found an unexpected $1 million extra revenue. That certainly could have covered the lack of casino income, but council spent it instead - on a new filing system for council and a temporary employee to fill it, two inspectors a council member wanted but the department didn't, and a consultant to create a Historic Preservation Plan. Certainly these are critical, essential items that necessitate raiding our road and infrastructure fund for.

And let's not forget the Recreation Levy because the city 'just doesn't have enough money for parks and softball'! Oh - and that is despite the extra funding from the additional red light cameras that was supposed to go to recreation in the first place.

So here we are with the first revenue from the casino and, as planned, it's going to be spent.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?

Quote of the Day - liberty vs. security

From Jacob Hornberger talking about gun control:

"But the illusion -- the pipe dream -- is that bad acts can be prevented by the deprivation of liberty. They cannot be! Life is always insecure. The only choice is between liberty and insecurity, on the one hand, and insecurity and enslavement on the other. The true patriot scrutinizes the actions of his own government with unceasing vigilance. And when his government violates the morality and rightness associated with principles of individual freedom and private property, he immediately rises in opposition to his government."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Marcy Kaptur owes us an explanation for voting against an audit of the Federal Reserve

I rarely agree with Marcy Kaptur. She first appeared on the ballot the first year I was able to vote and she's been my representative in Congress for all of my adult life.

She's a Democrat - and one of the most liberal ones - so it's no surprise that I disagree with her positions, policies and votes.

But I agreed with her support of a bill to audit the Federal Reserve. She co-sponsored legislation in 2009 to authorize an audit, though that bill was never brought before the House for a vote.

So it was a welcome relief when she co-sponsored H.R. 459 - a bill to 'audit the Fed' - that is essentially the same as the 2009 bill.

Last week, the House voted on H.R. 459 and it passed by a vote of 327-98. The 98 against the bill included one Republican and 97 Democrats.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Kaptur - a sponsor - voted AGAINST the bill.

She's railed against the lack of transparency and the collusion of the Federal Reserve with the 'evil banksters' for years now. Why in the world would she vote against a bill she's supported for at least three years?!?

She wasn't alone - seven other Democrats, also sponsors, voted no as well. Dennis Kucinich, the primary opponent she defeated, remained consistent and supported the bill. I can only wonder what his supporters will say about this.

None of the eight flip-floppers have provided a statement.

Regardless of our political affiliation, one thing constituents should be able to count on is consistency in the positions of those we elect - even when we disagree.

Marcy Kaptur owes all of us an explanation and we should demand it now.

Here is a link to her contact page. Her Washington telephone number is (202) 225-4146. Her Toledo telephone number is (419) 259-7500. She also has a toll-free number (800) 964-4699.

If you find out why she flipped on this issue, be sure to let us know.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Got 169 days? Or are you over-regulated and over-taxed to pay for it all

If you've not seen this column, you need to put it on your regular reading list. Political Calculations is a Townhall.com feature and it looks at numbers (go figure). The latest, The Regulation of the American People, is pretty scary when you think about the implications of it.

As their chart shows, regulation has skyrocketed since the 1970s which they tie to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency:

Of course, Obamacare regulations aren't written yet and who knows how many pages that will add. They provide this quote:

The Health and Human Services Department "was given a billion dollars implementation money," Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana said. "That money is gone already on additional bureaucrats and IT programs, computerization for the implementation."


The IRS, Health and Human Services and many other agencies will now write thousands of pages of regulations -- an effort well under way:

"There's already 13,000 pages of regulations, and they're not even done yet," Rehberg said.

Remember: for every single regulation there is a cost - not just to government to create, implement and the monitor the regulation and compliance, but also to every entity that is required, under penalty of law, to implement and follow the mandates.

We, the taxpayer, end up paying twice as a result: to the government through taxes and to the regulated entity through higher prices.

These regulations don't expire, the laws don't have sunset clauses (which ends them if they are not renewed/voted on again by Congress) and they're almost impossible to understand. Consider that most adults read at a rate of about 200-250 words per minute and an accepted standard is 250 words per page.

Last year, there were 81,000 pages of regulations added to the Federal Register - note: added, not a total number of pages. For the sake of argument, let's say you could read the legislation at a rate of 250 wpm, which is generous because regulations are not like reading text in a book. Reading a page a minute, it would take you 1,350 hours to read what they published in 2011. If you spent eight hours a day reading, it would take you nearly 169 days.

Now that's just the federal register. There are state and local regulations and, since this is just the new ones, there are hundreds of thousands of pages already existing.

Since 2000, estimating from the chart, it appears that Congress added roughly 894,000 pages of regulations. Since I'm sure you didn't read them when they first came out, if you started now and read for eight hours a day (your eyes will need the rest), you'd finished on Sept. 4, 2017. If you decided to take weekends off, it would take you until Sept. 20, 2019!

Political Calculations says the estimate for this year is 76,300 - but will probably be more thanks to Obamacare, and as their quote says, one department has already spent over a billion dollars in the effort.

There is no way any American can know what they are required to do or what violation they might be committing by a simple act, like collecting and using rain water, that they would never believe was regulated.

Our government is out of control; our politicians brag about the new laws they create and pass; and none of the laws ever seems to go away, regardless of the need for them to do so.

And we are to blame for allowing it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quotes of the day - socialism, facism, private property

As I have family in town - no time to post except for these two QOTD from Ayn Rand:

"The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open. The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal."

"Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it -- at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Citizen Watchdog - Ohio Training Tour

Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity offers a terrific Citizen Watchdog Training Program and they're again bringing it to Ohio with a Citizen Watchdog Training Tour!

It will be mini-trainings in the evenings in Toledo and Cleveland and a full day in Cincinnati. Here are the dates and links to register:

Wednesday, August 15- Toledo: http://citizenwatchdogtoledo.eventbrite.com/
Thursday, August 15- Cleveland: http://citizenwatchdogcleveland.eventbrite.com/
Saturday, August 18: Cincinnati: http://citizenwatchdogoh.eventbrite.com/

There has been some discussion about a session for Dayton, but that's not yet finalized.

The purpose of the training sessions is to give you the tools you need to hold your elected officials accountable. Topics will include Ohio Public Records Law (which I'll be doing), social media, investigative reporting and impacting governmental budget processes.

As Franklin Center explains:

An engaged, citizen-driven media was one of the driving forces behind the birth of American democracy. The preservation of our republic is incumbent upon the continued participation of our public in observing, reporting, and holding our government accountable at all levels.Today, we face an abundance of challenges and opportunities. Challenges because the decline of the establishment media has been occurring at an alarming rate, with tens of thousands of journalists losing their jobs over the last few years. Opportunities because the public now has access to more tools that allow them to actively participate in government, and to make their voice heard to the public at large, than at any time before in our history.

The greatest threats to our freedom and prosperity occur when citizens lack information and government officials escape without accountability. It’s at the school board and city council meetings where no reporters are present to cover their activities, and no members of the public present to observe their conduct.

Franklin Center is dedicated to preserving and strengthening democracy through promoting citizen journalism and engaging the stakeholders of America’s future to serve as watchdogs at the local, state, and federal level.

There is a minimal $10 fee to cover the cost of the meeting room and the meal that is provided.

I hope you'll join us, not only for the training but also in the growing effort to be active watchdogs of our government!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

MetroParks levy - I told you so

When the MetroParks put a levy request to voter so they could acquire additional land, I cautioned that land acquisition would come with future costs for maintenance and/or development. Yesterday the MetroParks board voted to put a .9 mill, 10-year levy on the ballot to, in part, develop new park areas.

I told you so!

This new levy is to replace their .3 mill levy - so they're asking for THREE TIMES what they're already getting. This is in addition to their 1.4 mill levy that was approved in 2007.

One of the claims made in the decision to ask for even more money is that their levy isn't collecting as much money as it once did due to decreased property values. Welcome to the real world!

How many Lucas County residents aren't getting paid as much as they once were? How many have seen their costs increase without a corresponding increase in income? How many don't have a job???

Here's an idea - CUT BACK!!!

In 2007 when their last levy was on the ballot, they were complaining about decreased property values and I suggested that maybe they stop purchasing land and - instead - save some of that money to either develop the land they already had or reserve it for future maintenance on the newly purchased land.

They didn't do either of those things. They spent all the money they had with the only plan for future development of the additional land being to get more money from the taxpayers. It was clear that their current income wouldn't cover development and was just able to cover maintenance on what they had.

But voters 'love' the MetroParks and they'll *always* support such a 'good cause' so why be frugal in light of pending recession, decreased population and reduced property values?

So now we have a 7th levy on the ballot - and for three times more than what they already collect.

Talk about levy fatigue...

Just remember - all of you who want to 'support' the MetroParks by forcing your friends and neighbors to do so as well: you may be able to 'afford' this increase, but others may not. Are you really going to vote to raise taxes on your neighbor who is unemployed, behind on his mortgage and already enrolled in the food stamp program just to feed his kids?

As the President says, 'we're all in this together.'

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quote of the Day - self-reliance

I took my laptop in yesterday morning because it was rather sick and, as of last night, they were still running diagnostics on the hard drive. I'm not familiar with the internal workings of a computer, but I have to believe that's not a good thing.

There's a lot going on, but trying to do blog posts via my phone or tablet is a bit challenging - look for a 'catch-up' post when I get my computer back. In the meantime, a QOTD on self-reliance:

"Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward." ~ Patricia Sampson

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quote of the Day - degeneracy

My laptop is sick and needs to go to the pc doctor, so a QOTD is in order since it's something I can do from my tablet.

Besides, considering some of the news lately (flash mobs at retail outlets, destruction of property at protests, attacks on police officers who are just trying to keep the peace), I thought this quote very timely.

"It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a cankor which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quote of the Day - personal responsiblity

A quote of the day while I prepare for tonight's social media training session sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition...Oh to have every person adopt this perspective.

"I will not surrender responsibility for my life and my actions." ~ John Enoch Powell

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ohio Watchdog round-up: sales tax, hypocrisy, several tax

A round-up of article from Ohio Watchdog:

Sales tax, property tax and - oh yeah - children: Discussions about how to fund education in the state include raising the sales tax to replace the property taxes being charged locally. How much, who gets it and who decides is always the discussion - but where do the children fit into the equation?

Dear Mr. President - your campaign is out of control: The same day Ohio was celebrating being recognized as an All-Star state for our efforts to protect the military vote, the Obama For America campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party sued the state to overturn the very law that help us win the recognition.

Oh - and overlooked by everyone is the sheer hypocrisy of the ODP, along with chairman Chris Redfern, of suing to overturn a bill that every Democrat - including Redfern - voted for.

Yes, you read that correctly. The ODP is suing to overturn a bill that received unanimous support when it was passed.

Kasich renews calls for high oil, gas severance tax: I written in opposition to the severance tax, and several groups (here and here) have announced their opposition as well. This article describes the proposal and what proponents and opponents have to say. Tom Blumer also lists Another reason to oppose gas hikes on Ohio's oil, gas industry.

Lastly, Ohio Watchdog has done a series of articles exposing the bias and 'untruthfulness' of PolitiFact's truth or lie conclusions. The latest article looks at how PolitiFact slams a GOP spokeswoman's 'literally true' statement as somehow untrue. Unbelievable! But read all the posts in the series and you'll see how PolitiFact is just a tool to support liberals while criticizing conservatives. That's my opinion, but you'll see how valid it is after reading the series and you can judge for yourself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quote of the Day - facism

"For fascism, society is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends." ~ Alfredo Rocco

Friday, July 20, 2012

Another group says 'no' to Kasich's severance tax increase

An email from Americans For Prosperity - Ohio urges members to oppose Gov. John Kasich's proposal to increase the oil and gas severance tax in order to redistribute that extra revenue in the form of an income tax cut. They are the second group to do so.

It's the "Tell them to STOP!" campaign and here is the text of the email:

For the last several years, news of Ohio's economy and jobs picture has been bleak. But now, Ohio has a unique and very exciting opportunity -- the exploration for oil and natural gas.

The opportunity presented through shale exploration is nothing short of a boom for Ohio's economy. Whether you live on the eastern side or the western side of the state-- all of Ohio is bound to be positively impacted through the exploration and extraction of energy producing resources from our ground.

Unfortunately, some leaders in Ohio, including Governor Kasich, have suggested that taxes be increased on the oil and natural gas explorers to fund regulation and provide a tax decrease at legislative discretion -- in essence, the plan will slow or stifle energy exploration, pick winners and losers again, and fail to secure true tax reform which is necessary in Ohio.

If our elected officials want to lower taxes they should they should do it by following through on cuts to Ohio's bloated government rather than raising taxes on job creators and stifling the true creation of wealth by private landowners.

This issue promises to continue to be heated throughout the summer and fall and we at Americans for Prosperity -- Ohio aren't going to just go away.

You have responded to our calls to action before on this issue and NOW WE ARE ASKING YOU TO RESPOND AGAIN.

Please let your leaders know that you:

1. Want to them to stop picking winners and losers
2. Oppose this tax increase that will impact private land holder rights
3. Support exploring for energy in Ohio and are committed to keeping government intrusion at a minimum
4. Believe government stifling private economic growth WILL NOT lead to true job creation

Action items:

1. Email Governor Kasich (http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx) and the Senate leadership (http://www.ohiosenate.gov/leadership.html) including your Senator (http://www.ohiosenate.gov/directory.html) -- tell them you don't want to see new taxes raised on energy explorers and land holders in Ohio.
2. Email Speaker of the House Batchelder (http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaymembers&task=detail&district=69), the House leadership (http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaymembers&Itemid=52) and your Representative (http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaymembers&Itemid=58) and thank them for standing up for landholders, job creation, and liberty in Ohio. Ask them to remain resolved to fight this proposal.

The general assembly might be "out of session" right now, but the fight for liberty and sound economic policy never ceases -- WE NEED YOU TO ACT NOW!

Quote of the Day - tolerance

"Being tolerant does not mean that I share another one's belief. But it does mean that I acknowledge another one's right to believe, and obey, his own conscience." ~ Viktor Frankl

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ohio Liberty Coalition opposes Kasich's severance tax

The Ohio Liberty Coalition agrees with me that taxing one entity more to give a break to others is nothing more than redistribution of wealth. It's not a conservative position, a moral position, a good-government position, nor is it good policy.

OH: Kasich renews call for higher oil, gas severance tax has more information about Gov. John Kasich's tax increase proposal.

Here is the Press Release:

Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Liberty Coalition today came out against Governor Kasich’s proposed tax increase on the Ohio oil and gas industry. Tom Zawistowski, President of the OLC said, “What Governor Kasich is proposing is unnecessary and unwise. Under the current rules, the severance tax on oil and gas produced $11 million in state taxes in 2009, and by 2014 it is projected by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to increase to $433 million per year. If the Governor wants to cut personal income taxes he can use that new money to do so. It is unnecessary to raise taxes when this industry is already on track to dramatically increase tax revenue. It is also unwise to throw roadblocks in front of an industry that is critical to the economic future of our state. Some companies are already leaving Ohio. That is not what we want.”

He went on to explain, “We understand the argument that the Governor wants to bring energy taxes in line with other states, but we do not agree that this is what Ohio should do. If we have a tax advantage then we think we should exploit that advantage and use it to attract more businesses. Then we will get more tax revenue from taxes generated by ‘downstream’ industrial and business activity.”

Zawistowski concluded by saying, “From a TEA Party perspective, to raise taxes on one group to give a tax cut to another group is simply redistribution of wealth. It is not the Governor’s job to pick winners and losers; his job is to run the state government as efficiently as possible. If he wants to cut taxes, he should cut state spending so he can cut taxes. We will encourage our member groups to contact their state senators and house representatives and ask them to oppose the Governor’s proposal.”

The Ohio Liberty Coalition is a coalition of Ohio Liberty Groups whose purpose is to unite conservative grassroots organizations for greater effectiveness in the state and nation, and to provide resources for member organizations to strengthen their groups. The OLC currently has over 75 liberty-minded groups across Ohio who are members of its coalition.


Quote of the Day - slaves to government

"Because we fear the responsibility for our actions, we have allowed ourselves to develop the mentality of slaves. Contrary to the stirring sentiments of the Declaration of Independence, we now pledge "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" not to one another for our mutual protection, but to the state, whose actions continue to exploit, despoil, and destroy us." ~ Butler D. Shaffer, Professor, Southwestern University School of Law on June 9, 2003

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Toledo City Council Meeting - July 17, 2012

Notes from Sherry:

In attendance: Councilwomen Webb, Hicks-Hudson, Councilmen Waniewski, Martinez, Steel, Ludeman, McNamara, Riley, Craig, Copeland, Sarantou, Collins, Deputy Mayor Herwat.

Item 372 – Re-appropriate funds for T-LC Health Dept. lead abatement program, $70,000 General Fund Finance – passed – Sarantou abstaining, rest yes.

Item 371 – Appropriation for 38th Year CDBG funds of $6,839,464 and CIP Fund to General Fund

* Martinez – move back.
* Hicks-Hudson – Second.
* Collins – Are we debating?
* McNamara – debate after.
* Collins – different situation – we are put into a situation with the shelters – we have split the money up between shelters – first funding CDBG interim of EOPA – numbers from 2010 were 19 mil – the CEO makes over $127,000, COO over $98,000, CFO over $109,000 – these are the salaries – we should not reward them – political situation - take a step towards reality – live with the monies – have a 10% cut across the board – it's wrong for the Administration to dip into the GF – it like three card Monty – This is why things don't get done – feed the beast – do not commit the money – shame on us, this is wrong – you're giving the shelters half a dose.
* Martinez – these institutions serve us – not perfect – salaries hard to figure out – payrolls to meet – move money from Departments and GF.
* McNamara – heated debate.
* Hicks-Hudson – I support Collins – to dither between agencies – situation in dire need of help – make best of it.
* Steel – better politics to tap into GF – CDBG numbers dwindle – better policy move, sure that's where it belongs.
* Copeland – we are all passionate about this - it's time for agreement about getting funds.
* Craig – we need to fund these agencies - 10% cut here and there – worked hard for compromise.
* Webb – I remember negotiating for this – forced with this choice – need not be in this situation next year, find resolution – EOPA is is a Community Action Agency from the Johnson era (she mentions big cities in OH) they provide means in our community – there also was a report from Mitchell that we took apart.

Passed – Sarantou, Waniewski abstain. Collins, Ludeman – no. Riley, Martinez, Craig, McNamara, Hicks-Hudson, Steel, Copeland, Webb – yes.

Item 325 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – Street Services, $16,136,110 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 326 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – City-wide Street Lighting, $3,574,233 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 327 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – Downtown Street Lighting, $250,821 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 328 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – Trees, $4,709,051 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 329 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – Surface Treatment, $715,753 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 330 – Levying assessments for 2011 Assessed Services Program – Weeds – passed – all voting yes.

Item 339 – Amend TMC Ch. 903, 911& 913 to update sidewalk & sub-space programs for Engineering Services – passed – all voting yes.

Item 340 – Amend TMC Sec. 943.10 to clarify storm water appeals process – passed – all voting yes.

Item 353 – Expenditures for 2013 police class examination, section and hiring, $160,000 General Fund H. R. - passed – all voting yes.

Item 354 – Issue Bonds, Streets and Bridges projects in 2012 CIP Program, $18,225,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 355 – Issue Bonds to retire Notes, 2009 Solid Waste Containers, $10,150,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 356 – Issue Bonds, ICT computer hardware and software in 2012 CIP Program, 820,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 357 – Issue Bonds, Fire & Rescue apparatus and equipment in 2012 CIP Program, $295,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 358 – Issue Bonds, Police equipment in 2012 CIP Program, $730,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 359 – Issue Bonds, Forest Cemetery improvement in 2012 CIP Program, $345,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 360 – Issue Bonds, Roosevelt Pool Improvements in 2012 CIP Program, $295,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 361 – Issue Bonds, station #6 in 2012 CIP Program, $215,000 - passed – all voting yes.

Item 362 – Issue Bonds to retire Bonds, 2002 Street Improvements, $2,895,000 – passed – all voting yes.
Item 363 – Issue Bonds to retire Bonds, 2002 Transportation Building, $620,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 364 – Issue Bonds to retire 2002 Bonds, 1994 Street Improvements, $1,745,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 365 – Issue Bonds to retire 2002 Bonds, 1995 various projects, $2,745,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 366 – Issue Bonds to retire 2002 Bonds, 1996 various projects, $825,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 367 – Claims Settlement – Steven Corggens, July 2010 accident with a garbage truck, $180,000 Risk Mgmt – passed – all voting yes.

Item 368 – Change requirements and application process for Toledo Municipal Jobs Tax Credit (MJTC) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 369 – Appropriation for water line to Giammarco Properties, 611 Monroe St,. $2,750 2% Water Funds – passed – all voting yes.

Item 370 – Sale of 220 Columbia St. to Mark Martin for lot expansion with 2257 Putnam, $500 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 373 – Encroachment into public right-of-way of Ilger Ave. west of Drummond for lighted sign for St. Pius X – passed – all voting yes.

Item 374 – Proceed N. Detroit, Dearden, Birdsall sewer assess, OPWC $285,000, City $175,573, Assess $284,499 - 1st Reading.

Last Call:

Sarantou – Congratulates Administration – rate for Bonds from Wall St. - from Negative to Stable.

Steel – packet before you – pertains to a Festival (didn't catch the name).

Waniewski – (Directed to Herwat) – Trees to be taken care of. Pavement done on Monroe St., Sylvania Business Meeting (day?) – St. Anne's, 7 PM – invites everyone to come.

Webb – Rescue transport – City to Hospital – we are dispatching – what stations have rigs? Trucks? How many calls each? Stats – data for 2012 and 2011. How is the discrepancy made, has there been a change in policy? Rule at local station – 2 people on the rig, and that leaves 3 people for the truck – not enough. What about dispatched firemen from other parts of the City? Trains are an issue (being held up.) Will have to get answers from S. D. Green, especially for Point Place.

Collins – Need to see Police stats from 6/1 – 6/30. Gas Co. - Administration waved codes to move to easements. District 2 & 5 were hit hard by this storm – trees need to be cleaned up – send out a positive message.

Craig – today is son's Birthday.

Hicks-Hudson – What is the process for dumping? Is there code enforcement? Meeting at Vistula Building. Thanks for supporting CDBG funding. Lets not have this happen next year.

Ludeman – Property assessments, make you fall off your chair. Finance Mtg next week – scared about future of property – long term effect on Real Estate market.

Martinez – Agrees with Webb's and Hicks-Hudson's comments – move forward – see how things are budgeted next year.

McNamara – We need to control the force of tenor of debate.

Chuck Schumer: limit the First Amendment

"I believe there ought to be limits because the First Amendment is not absolute. No amendment is absolute. You can’t scream ‘fire’ falsely in a crowded theater. We have libel laws. We have anti-pornography laws. All of those are limits on the First Amendment. Well, what could be more important than the wellspring of our democracy? And certain limits on First Amendment rights that if left unfettered, destroy the equality — any semblance of equality in our democracy — of course would be allowed by the Constitution.

"And the new theorists on the Supreme Court who don’t believe that, I am not sure where their motivation comes from, but they are just so wrong. They are just so wrong
." ~ Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the DISCLOSE Act

I wish he would tell me how the exercise of freedom of speech could possible "destroy the equality - any semblance of equality in our democracy..."

Apparently that whole "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech," is "more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules."

First, we're a Republic - and a limited-government one at that.

Our rights are God-given - they do not spring from the government. Our Constitution limits what the Federal government can do, leaving all other matters to the states or the people, which is why we have state and local laws on yelling fire or libel or pornography - or any number of things like red-light cameras and breaking-and-entering.

His complete and total lack of understanding of the Constitution he swore to uphold is appalling.

Or maybe he understands it completely and just doesn't care, or thinks we no longer care.

Or maybe he doesn't have a clue and thinks he can get away with saying whatever he wants because he'll continue to get elected by people who also have no clue.

Or - better yet - this is just an incumbent protection act, rather than a First Amendment issue.

Between this, which is by far not the only time our federal elected officials have so blatantly twisted the meaning, intent and clear language of the Constitution, and our local Toledo city council which voted to spend unbudgeted funds while telling us we need to pass a levy because they don't have enough money, I may run out of duct tape to hold my head together.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Buckeye Institute shows how Blade is wrong on health care exchange

I was going to take apart the recent Blade editorial chastising Gov. John Kasich for not accepting federal monies for a health care exchange, but the Buckeye Institute has done a nice job already with "Obamacare, Politics and the Myth of Free Money," so why duplicate efforts?

Here's what they have to say specifically about The Blade's warped thinking:

Second, the underlying argument assumes that federal spending is somehow “free” money and that the offer of expansion is simply to good to pass up.

In a rather rich case of projection, Innovation Ohio accuses Governor Kasich of playing politics while Ohio loses millions. The ideologically sympathetic Toledo Blade follows a similar line, accusing Kasich of politics on the issue rather than taking the generous federal money and immediately implementing Obamacare in Ohio.

The irony is that this mindset is what has gotten us to where we are today. It is a belief that federal dollars are free and Ohioans should grab every penny lest they be scooped up by other states. The history of Medicaid is one of states getting hooked on federal dollars only to have the program gobble up their budgets even as it offers less and less flexibility and reduced quality of care.

But state taxpayers are federal taxpayers. These dollars don’t magically appear in Washington to be doled out to states, the money comes from individuals in those very same states. Ohioans are rightly concerned about the federal deficit and about paying higher taxes. Increased spending in Washington impacts Ohioans to pretend otherwise is to ignore fiscal reality.

The Blade casually tosses aside the fears of increased Medicaid enrollment through a woodworking effect as if the dollar amounts are not significant. But those numbers are big enough to give governors across the country, both Republican and Democrat, pause. And whose numbers should we trust, state experts or liberal think tanks who support Obamacare?

These governors understand that Medicaid is a deeply flawed system that hooks states on a process of expanded enrollment with the promise of federal funds. Once on this path any attempt to reign in spending or control costs means giving up not only the state’s share of spending but the feds as well.

And is it really realistic to assume the federal government will never attempt to roll back the amount it covers? Half the assumed savings of Obamacare comes from reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates. Facing a deficit beyond what many of us can conceptualize, will Washington continue to pay out vast sums to states already committed to expanded coverage for their citizens?

In reality, what underlies this debate is a mix of politics, policy disagreements and deep uncertainty about the future. Governors understand that what is good for Washington is not always (rarely?) good for the states. They understand that Medicaid is a failed program that has devastated state budgets, increasingly involves reduced flexibility, and carries with it perverse incentives.

I especially love the point that "state taxpayers are federal taxpayers. These dollars don’t magically appear in Washington to be doled out to states, the money comes from individuals in those very same states."

You'd think whoever wrote The Blade editorial would know that - and know that Toledoans know that as well.

Senators Portman and Ayotte Sink Law Of The Sea Treaty

This press release is from yesterday:

Senators Portman and Ayotte Sink Law Of The Sea Treaty

Two Senate Armed Services Committee Members Announce Opposition In Letter To Majority Leader Harry Reid, Saying “No International Organization Owns The Seas”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), ranking member on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, sent a letter today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in which they announced their opposition to Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Citing significant concerns about the breadth and ambiguity of the treaty, and more importantly, the risks to U.S. sovereignty due to issues regarding enforcement and adjudication, the two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated, “After careful consideration, we have concluded that on balance this treaty is not in the national interest of the United States. As a result, we would oppose the treaty if it were called up for a vote.”

Portman and Ayotte continued, “We simply are not peruaded that decisions by the International Seabed Authority and international tribunals empowered by this treaty will be more favorable to U.S. interests than bilateral negotiations, voluntary arbitration, and other traditional means of resolving maritime issues. No international organization owns the seas, and we are confident that our country will continue to protect its navigational freedom, valid territorial claims, and other maritime rights.”

Because the Constitution requires 67 affirmative votes for the Senate to ratify a treaty, and 31 senators have previously signed a letter in opposition and a 32nd senator announced his opposition, Portman and Ayotte’s announcement makes efforts to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty dead in the water in this Congress.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mayor Bell wants to use General Fund dollars to cover CDBG shortfall

Look for fireworks tomorrow as the Toledo city council again tries to figure out how to split up limited - and reduced - funds among a large group of prior recipients - or maybe not.

From the agenda (emphasis added):

On July 3, 2012 City Council was unable to reach a consensus on funding allocations from the Community Development Block Grant to various Public Service Activities, Community Development Corporation Activities, and City Departmental Allocations. In addition, the Council was unable to reach a compromise, despite voting on six different amendments or proposals, to provide additional funds for homeless shelters and EOPA.

The result of this inaction by Council the Public Service Agencies, Community Development Corporations and City Departments are uncertain of their funding for the period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. To resolve this deadlock the Mayor has proposed this compromise ordinance.

This ordinance retains the funding recommendations of the Citizens Review Committee and the Department of Neighborhoods for allocation of the 38th year Community Development Block Grant. In addition, this ordinance provides funding in the amount of $215,000 from the General Fund to homeless shelters and EOPA to address critical needs in the community.

For background, EOPA, the Economic Opportunity Planning Association has faced financial troubles in the past and had, until earlier this month, been in negotiations with Toledo Public Schools for a partnership in running the Head Start Program. Under new federal rules, Head Start will seek bids for providing the services and TPS had indicated an interest in bidding for the $13 million program. The linked Blade article adds:

However, more ultimately could be at stake for EOPA. The $13 million Head Start grant makes up the bulk of the agency's $19.5 million budget; many at the agency have said losing the grant would threaten the organization's very existence. EOPA also operates heating-assistance programs, home-repair assistance, a fatherhood program, and other social services.

So now the city - which put a 1 mill recreation levy on the ballot for November because it didn't have enough general fund dollars to cover their desired spending for parks and recreation - wants to take nearly a quarter of a million dollars out of the general fund to cover the reduction in federal funding.

The politicians just don't get it!

Families and businesses in Toledo are cutting back because of the economy. Many are without jobs - and job prospects. Governments and government agencies at all levels are overspending and a lot are asking for even more money. Toledoans in Lucas County will see a whopping seven - yes, seven - levy requests on the ballot.

And what is Toledo doing? Refusing to cut back its spending and taking even more money out of the general fund which is supposed to pay for essential city services.

Don't forget - the 2012 City of Toledo budget calls for $12 million to be transferred out of the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) budget just to balance the planned spending in the General Fund.

This transfer of nearly half a million dollars was NOT part of the original budget - so where are they getting it from? They're borrowing from the CIP.

If they should claim that additional tax revenues have come in, then the question all taxpayers in Toledo should ask is this:

If you've got extra money, why aren't you replacing the over $50 million you've raided from the CIP over the past several years - or putting it into the rainy day fund which you depleted before you started raiding the CIP?

The taxpayers of Toledo should be the first priority if the city has extra income - not special interests who want always want 'more, more, more' - no matter how noble their cause may be.

If all the levies on the ballot should pass (and I sincerely hope they do not), my taxes will be increased by nearly $700 because of the value of my home and its extra lot.

That's $700 that will go to various governmental entities, including the City of Toledo, to pay for THEIR spending priorities - not my own, because I'm not getting a pay increase and neither is my husband. And that $700 will be on top of the additional health care costs we're incurring due to Obamacare and state rules, as well as the food inflation that will require more of our funds to pay for the food we eat.

As a result of the government taking more money from me, I will have no choice but to reduce my expenditures. How will that affect others? Will I not spend $700 eating out at local restaurants? Will Webber's - one of our favorite places to get a perch sandwich - see less of us? How about any of the other places where we love to eat out?

Will we reduce our charitable giving? Will we have to cut back on our financial support to Mobile Meals and their annual Wine Gala fundraiser? Will we have to stop donating food to the Northwest Ohio Food Bank?

Or maybe, we don't spend the money to do the renovation our kitchen so desperately needs. We've been saving up for that, but all these additional costs could have us putting it on hold. How many businesses (Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware in Point Place, the granite supplier) will go without our money as result?

Now multiply that across every home in the city. There's no wonder why Toledo is in decline.

Remember the 'Broken Window Fallacy'? This is similar, as the politicians are only looking at the money they're going to give to the CDBG recipients and not looking at the places that won't get spending from me as a result of having to pay higher taxes so the city can afford to have the extra funds for the CDBG spending.

The recipients of the CDBG funds are not bad organizations, but their priorities are not mine - nor are they the priorities of a majority of Toledoans. They are special interests feeding off the taxpayer through the government.

It does not matter if they are doing good work in the community or not. Their insistence that they continue to receive the same (or more) funds than they have in the past simply because they're 'doing good' means that government has to prevent all of its citizens from doing their own good so the government can take citizens' money for this particular 'good.'

It also means that Toledo, as an entity, will continue down its wrong path of increasing taxes on the poor and middle class; raiding the CIP fund thus reducing funding for future needs like for roads and infrastructure; and issuing debt to cover regular expenses - all so that a limited number of special interests don't have to face the cuts that the majority of their funders have to deal with.

There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

Is the taxpayer getting a good deal when Toledo sells property for $500?

Toledo City Council has an item on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting that would sell a piece of property.

Normally, this isn't a big deal, especially because, under Mayor Mike Bell, the city has been trying to dispose of city owned property for both the revenue and to eliminate the cost of maintaining it.

However, when property is sold for significantly less than the appraised value or even the fair market value, the city - read: taxpayers - suffer.

That is the case with this ordinance:

O-370-12 Authorizing the Mayor to execute and deliver needed instruments to effectuate the sale and conveyance of a portion of certain City-owned real property located at 220 Columbia Street to Mark A. Martin for the amount of $500; authorizing the deposit of the net sale proceeds; waiving the competitive bidding provisions of T.M.C. 187; and declaring an emergency.

The City operates a Land Reutilization Program pursuant to Section 187.19(a) of the Toledo Municipal Code which authorizes the City to accept nonproductive land and dispose of same pursuant to Chapter 5722 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Department of Development oversees the review and processing of the program which includes a property that Mark A. Martin wishes to acquire a portion of at 220 Columbia Street. This property will be utilized for lot expansion of 2257 Putnam. The negotiated sale price to Mr. Martin for this property is $500

The county auditor's AREIS website sets the 100% value of 220 Columbia (a half-acre empty lot) at $20,600. The 35% value (on which the property is taxed) is $7,210.

Now, I understand that what you can actually get when selling a property is often different from the auditor's value of the property, but is a sale price that is 2.4% of the value a good deal for the taxpayers? Even if you look at the 35% value, the sale price of $500 is only 7% of the worth of the property.

Additionally, the ordinance waives competitive bidding, which means that others who might be willing to pay more for the property are excluded from the possibility of doing do.

Dos the $500 even cover the city's costs of owning this property? According to the AREIS website, the City has owned and maintained it since 1999. They got it from J.R. Talley who acquired it as forfeited land in 1991.

While the purpose of selling the property may be to return unused land to productivity, I believe the city should tell the taxpayer - perhaps in the text of the ordinance - how much it has cost us to maintain it and why they believe the sales price is a 'fair market value' and in the best interest of the taxpayer.

These are the questions I have just looking at the ordinance. Do you think any members of council will ask for such information?

Inquiring minds....

Quote of the Day - guarding liberty

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." ~ Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's time to repeal Ohio's alternative energy mandate

I read an interesting article, "Obama Wants You to Use Less, Spend More," written by Marita Noon, Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.

In one section, she talks about the prices for various types of energy. She writes:

That got me thinking, if a few cents, between $.07-.11, can make a $10 billion impact on a state’s economy, what difference will the higher costs of renewable energy do to these struggling cities?

Taylor referenced a study done by Tufts University economics professor Gilbert E. Metcalf, which provides the levelized costs of the various sources of electricity—meaning with the subsidies, preferences, and differential tax treatment removed. The “Federal Tax Policy Towards Energy” study was done in 2006 and reported on in 2007, so the numbers quoted here would not be the most recent, but they do provide real numbers for comparison. Metcalf found that coal was the least-cost method of electricity generation. Natural gas was next, the second least-cost, but was still 48% more than coal. Nuclear is 57% more than coal; wind, 75%; solar thermal, 570%; and solar photovoltaic, 887% more than coal. Of course, the price of natural gas is greatly reduced due to its newfound abundance and, yes, the costs of wind and solar have come down—but they’d have to come way down even to be close to competitive to coal or natural gas.

Here’s another way to look at the numbers. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) produced a report that shows the same basic ideas from a different angle. The 2010 report attempted to project out what future energy costs would be. Like the Metcalf study, the EIA report offers levelized numbers. They assume that natural gas costs will remain low and even give some benefits to the prices of renewable energy. In their projections, natural gas is the least-cost, with coal being 50% more. Nuclear is 81% more expensive than natural gas; onshore wind, 131% more; offshore wind, 470%; solar thermal, 394%; and solar photovoltaic, 234%.

No matter which way you look at the numbers, coal and natural gas are the least-cost ways to generate electricity, with wind and solar, the most expensive.

Ohio has a law, passed in 2008, requiring that at least 25% of all electricity sold in the state by 2025 come from alternative energy. Half of the mandated 25% must come from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro power, geothermal or biomass. The other half can be met by instituting energy-efficiency programs, clean coal technology or using fuel cells. But the kicker is the requirement to use solar and wind as we really don't have the capacity for hydro power nor the facilities for geothermal or biomass (at least - not yet).

Municipalities and governmental entities are purchasers of electricity just as you and I are. Most of the alternative energy sources in the Toledo area are from solar photovoltaic. If we use the lowest number from the above data, we're paying 234% more for the solar-generated energy than we would if we used natural gas and 56% more than we would if we used coal.

This means that we are paying significantly more for our energy than we need to (absent a government order). This also means that our limited tax dollars are being spent to pay for increased energy costs, rather than for other, necessary government services like roads, police and fire.

I can only wonder how much that additional cost equates to for the city of Toledo and whether or not, considering the number of buildings, they'd have the money for their desired recreation levy they just voted to put on the ballot.

We already know that eliminating the biodiesel fuel requirement for the Ohio Department of Transportation would save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Toledo - and all cities in the state - should immediately express support for S.B. 216, which would repeal the 25% mandate, and insist that the bill be passed.

It's about time all politicians stopped worrying about catering to the environmental lobby and started worrying about catering to the taxpayers.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Catchiest political song of 2010

The video says it all...

BHO's got to go
Don't ya know
Yes We Can
Kick him out

It's a project of Ryan Scott Bomberger and PatriotSuperPAC.com - hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, July 13, 2012

US Navy Rear Admiral to visit Toledo for Navy Week planning

I'm so excited that Toledo will be hosting a great celebration for Navy Week and the commemoration of the War of 1812!

Press Release from the City of Toledo:

US Navy Rear Admiral to visit Toledo for Navy Week planning

Commander of Carrier Strike Group Two will tour city, meet with leaders for final planning session before August events

As preparations continue for Toledo Navy Week, Rear Admiral Gregory Nosal, Commander of Carrier Strike Group Two will visit the city to meet with community leaders and tour sites involved with the week long series of events.

Rear Adm. Nosal will make brief remarks at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 16 on the downtown riverfront in Promenade Park at Jefferson Street before beginning a tour of the planned docking sites and command post to be used in August.

Toledo is one of just six Great Lakes cities that will host a Navy Week as part of the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. As part of Toledo Navy Week, the city will welcome the commanding officers and crew of the USS DeWert, the USS Hurricane, US Coast Guard Mobile Bay, the historic brig USS Niagara and the Royal Canadian Navy, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Ville de Quebec. Toledo Navy Week events will be scheduled beginning August 20, 2012 and the ships will formally enter Toledo’s port on August 23, 2012 with group tours and general public viewing throughout the weekend.

A biography of Rear Adm. Nosal may be accessed at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=547. For more information about the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, visit www.ourflagwasstillthere.org. Information about Navy Weeks nationwide can be found at www.navyweek.org.

Obama kills welfare reform, violates law at same time

If you rely only upon the main stream media, you'll probably miss the latest move by President Barack Obama's administration that effectively guts the work participation requirement for the TANF welfare program.

TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, was part of the Clinton-era welfare reform in 1996 that required individuals to work or 'prepare' for work (training, education) in order to receive benefits. It is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

As the Morning Bell points out, that requirement was successful, but now the law is being gutted - and you're paying for it (emphasis added).

This reform was very successful. TANF became the only welfare program (out of more than 70) that promoted greater self-reliance. It moved 2.8 million families off the welfare rolls and into jobs so that they were providing for themselves. Child poverty fell, and single-parent employment rose. Recipients were required to perform at least 20–30 hours per week of work or job preparation activities in exchange for the cash benefit.

Now, Obama’s HHS is claiming that it can waive those work requirements that are at the heart of the law, and without Congress’s consent.

When it established TANF, Congress deliberately exempted or shielded nearly all of the TANF program from waiver authority. They explicitly did not want the law to be rewritten at the whim of HHS bureaucrats. In a December 2001, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service clarified that there was no authority to override work and other major requirements: “Effectively, there are no TANF waivers,” it reported.

But that did not stop the Obama Administration, which has been increasing welfare spending at an alarming rate already. President Obama has added millions to the welfare rolls, and his Administration has come under fire lately for its efforts to expand and add more Americans to the food stamp program.

This is a chronic problem: Over the past two decades, welfare spending has grown more rapidly than Social Security and Medicare, education, and defense. The TANF reform was one small step in the direction of reducing Americans’ dependence on government programs and getting them back on their feet. Cutting its work component is likely to unnecessarily swell the ranks of welfare recipients and with no way to pay for it.

From the directive:

Scope of Authority

Section 1115 authorizes waivers concerning section 402. Accordingly, other provisions of the TANF statute are not waivable. For example, the purposes of TANF are not waivable, because they are contained in section 401. The prohibitions on assistance are not waivable, because they are contained in section 408.

While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan “[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407.” Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates. As described below, however, HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.

Here's the logic:

* the work requirement is contained in a non-waivable section of law (407)
* a different section (402), which requires that a state plan adhere to the non-waivable section, is waivable
* therefore, HHS is waiving section 402, which requires the state plan to follow section 407
* end result: section 407 is effectively waived.

But there's a bit of a problem with that logic, as this Foundry.org article explains:

Section 402 describes state plans—reports that state governments must file to HHS describing the actions they will undertake to comply with the many requirements established in the other sections of the TANF law. The authority to waive section 402 provides the option to waive state reporting requirements only, not to overturn the core requirements of the TANF program contained in the other sections of the TANF law.

The new Obama dictate asserts that because the work requirements, established in section 407, are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived. This removes the core of the TANF program; TANF becomes a blank slate that HHS bureaucrats and liberal state bureaucrats can rewrite at will.
In a December 2001 document, “Welfare Reform Waivers and TANF,” the non-partisan Congressional Research Service clarified that the limited authority to waive state reporting requirement in section 402 does not grant authority to override work and other major requirements in the other sections of the TANF law (sections that were deliberately not listed under the section 1115 waiver authority):

Technically, there is waiver authority for TANF state plan requirement; however, [the] major TANF requirements are not in state plans. Effectively, there are no TANF waivers.

And who do you think is going to cover the cost of the expected increase in welfare rolls when people learn they won't be required to work in order to be eligible?

The Obama administration has just ended welfare reform - and you're going to pay for it.

Ohio Watchdog round-up: salt, drug drop boxes, hapless rubes and more

In case you missed them, here are some quick links to interesting stories on Ohio Watchdog:

Seniors can have their salt and eat it, too - Proposed state rules would have prevented senior centers and organizations like Meals on Wheels from providing salt with their meals. Cooler heads have prevailed and now they're not banned from providing salt, though they cannot purchase salt with federal funds. Seniors can still bring their own salt and use it as they wish. But is salt the enemy government claims?

Health Department to use drop boxes to disposed of unused prescriptions - apparently you just don't know what to do with prescription medicine that you don't use. Who knew? But government has come to the rescue, funding drop boxes in southern Ohio law enforcement agencies. Guess those of us in northern Ohio are not so needy.

Furthering justice or furthering politics? It might be legal, but you won't think it's right when you learn how county sheriffs and prosecutors spend their Furtherance of Justice funds. Think about it - should your tax dollars be used to send flowers on behalf of the prosecutor to an employee who had a baby? What kind of warped thinking does it take for any prosecutor to think this is a proper use of public funds - rather than their own?!?

We're just hapless rubes - footing the bill to prevent competition for special interests (corporate, union, non-profits).

There are a lot of good articles and commentary at Ohio Watchdog - including information you won't find elsewhere. Hope you make it a daily read!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ohio - political ad capital of the nation?

I have no idea if Ohio is the political ad capital of the nation, but it sure seems that way.

Americans For Prosperity had a "Doing Fine" ad that targeted President Barack Obama's now infamous statement that, economically, the private sector is doing fine. That ad ran for 10 days in Ohio.

Now their "Not a Tax Increase?" ad is running - on TV and radio.

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) is out with a new Ohio ad targeting Sherrod Brown. The ad is called "Show" and will run on broadcast and cable TV through July 20th. It's a $1.1 million total buy.

“We’re keeping the pressure on Sherrod Brown to quit the massive spending and stop President Obama’s health care takeover,” said Nate Hodson, Crossroads GPS Director of State and Regional Media Relations.

Crossroads GPS other ad in Ohio, which will run through August, is part of a $25 million buy in key states. "Excuses" is running this week in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Toledo. The Ohio portion of the buy was $3.3 million.

There is also this anti-Brown ad from Checks & Balances, focusing on his vote to increase energy prices in Ohio, that ran in Ohio's coal country.

These are just a few of the numerous ads being aired in Ohio, which is a targeted state for the presidential campaigns. As much as people hate political ads, this is a good thing for our local stations who are getting all this revenue. And this is only the beginning.

Quote of the Day - redistribution

You'd think our Governor and our President would understand this concept....

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers 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 everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, 1816

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If you can't get petitions right, why should we trust you to get a county charter government right?

The paper has another article about changing the form of county government - surprise!

After previously covering the fact that Better Lucas County (what a misnomer!) failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to put the measure on the ballot, they have today's story telling us they're going to try to get more signatures.

But we already knew that.

From the first article comes this lead paragraph:

It’s back to the streets for petitioners hoping to spur change in Lucas County’s government.

If that doesn't tell us the group is going to try to get more signatures, we also have this:

Thomas Palmer, a Toledo lawyer involved in the county reform effort, said the group will meet Tuesday to decide whether to appeal the elections board’s conclusions, and to decide how to make up the signature deficit.

Note that Palmer said "how" to make up the deficit. They were going to decide "whether" to appeal, but the decision to get more signatures was a given - the only question was "how" to get them.

That's twice in the earlier story that we're told they're going to collect more signatures in their effort to put the measure on the ballot.

But in traditional Blade style of pushing their agenda in what is supposed to be an unbiased and objective news report, they do today's story telling us what we already know.

Better Lucas County, the volunteer group trying to put a proposed county charter on the Nov. 6 ballot, plans to stay together after a disappointing attempt to collect nearly 14,500 signatures.

Robert Reinbolt, a group co-leader, said the group met Tuesday and agreed to continue the effort.

As if there was any doubt.

I could go on and on about the emotionally-laden and non-objective descriptive words and phrases used in the articles, but here are just a few that they are using to manipulate the perspective:

* hoping to spur change
* all is not lost
* important step
* disappointing attempt
* educate voters

The bigger point - and one most people may miss - is what Reinbolt says about their failure to ensure a very basic requirement on the petitions: having the circulators state the exact number of signatures they witnessed.

Most petitions include a blank space that needs to be filled in as part of the witness statement the circulator needs to sign. It's hard to miss, but that's exactly what Better Lucas County did:

Mr. Reinbolt said Better Lucas County focused on verifying registered voters' names and overlooked double-checking the circulators' signature counts.

As a result, over 4,000 valid signatures of the 22,195 total that they submitted were thrown out. But even if they had counted the 42 petitions with the fatal flaw, they were still short of the required number for making the ballot.

If this is the level of incompetence exhibited by Better Lucas County in just the petition process, it doesn't give you much confidence in their ability to 'reform' county government.

If my previous posts (see below) about the inaccurate assumptions, comparisons and conclusions in their study wasn't enough to have you reject the idea, certainly their inability to follow such basic requirements for the petitions will make you think twice about their aptitude, expertise and fitness to design a new form of government.

Previous posts:

Asking the wrong questions about a county charter form of government for Lucas County

The Blade is wrong about charter county government

Konop forces failed ideas into his county charter proposal

Another blatant attempt to push Lucas into a charter form of government

Next public meeting on county council issue scheduled

Initial thoughts - report on restructuring Lucas County government

Detailed look at report on changing Lucas County government

Konop admits that I am right

Citizens Review Committee makes my argument for me

Post Office closings show defect of district council seats

Deconstructing The Blade's drug-pusher mentality on changing county government

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This must be why Democrats want to raise our taxes via a recreation levy

This is why Democrats on Toledo City Council want to raise taxes on the poor and middle class - so all Toledo taxpayers can continue to pay for things like this:

City of Toledo hosts annual Kids Fishing Rodeo at Sleepy Hollow Park

The City of Toledo Division of Parks, Forestry and Recreation will host the 2012 Kids Fishing Rodeo from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 14, 2012. The event is held each year at Sleepy Hollow Park near the corner of Dorr Street and Richards Road.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and all participants must register prior to fishing. Fishing begins at 9 a.m. for all age groups. Prizes will be awarded to the boy and girl within each age bracket who catch the biggest fish.


* Kids must provide proof of age if they appear older than 15 years.
* Kids can fish with rods & reels, poles & lines, or throw lines of their choosing.
* Bobbers may be used.
* Sinkers of any kind, weight and size are allowed.
* Kids can use only one line, with just one hook of any size and shape.
* Kids must furnish their own fishing equipment, bait, and stringer or bucket.
* Kids will begin fishing at the sound of the starting horn and may continue to fish until the horn signals the end of the session.

The 2012 Fishing Rodeo is presented by the City of Toledo, Department of Public Service, The Toledo City Parks Commission, Seven-Up Bottling Toledo, McDonalds, Roof Top Brands and Grace Community Church.

For more information, contact the Division of Parks, Recreation and Forestry at 419-245-3388.


When did we get to the point that we reject the basic concept of entrepreneurship?

We've all - or at least most of us, depending on our age - have heard the phrase "invent a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door."

It meant that if you came up with a better idea, people would pay for it. It also meant that if you were clever and creative, you could have better success.

This is the core basis of entrepreneurship - something that everyone says we need more of. You come up with a better idea or better way of doing something and you enter the market to see if others agree.

Maybe you find a more economical way to offer a service or process. Because of some innovation you've come up with, you can offer an item at less than what people are already paying.

Maybe your price is the same as what is already on the market, but you've got a better item or one that fits the needs of the consumer better, like in the mousetrap example. Certainly, there are plenty of mousetraps, but if yours does something the others can't, and people like the idea, they'll pay more.

Living by the water, we have mice. I willingly pay more for the traps that don't require me to come anywhere near touching the mouse when caught.

This is what forms the core of our nation and fuels the American Dream. Coming up with a better idea, marketing it and supporting ourselves and our families with the profits ... maybe growing into a large firm with a company and fortune to pass on to our descendants.

But what if government worked against you? What if the politicians tried to stop your innovation?

Yes, I'm referring to those same politicians who talk about entrepreneurship and tout that small businesses are the drivers of our economy, hiring more people than large corporations do.

What if they were doing everything they could to prevent you from offering a better product at a better price?

That's exactly what's happening in Washington, D.C., with Uber.

Uber is company that offers on-demand private transportation in various cities across the United States and Canada. You sign up, use your smart phone to request a ride, a car picks you up and takes you to your destination and they can bill your credit card on file. No more waiting for a cab. No more worry about having cash or credit cards to pay. No need to memorize bus schedules. And probably a cleaner, nicer looking ride. What's not to like?

Apparently, everything - if you're a taxi cab driver or company who now has competition.

So what do you do? You use the power of government to stifle your competition.

As Uber explains:

On Independence Day, Uber announced a roll out of a lower cost service that we call UberX. A less expensive Uber option on an all-hybrid fleet. We’re pretty excited about it and think it’s a great idea for cities across the country. What some of you probably noticed is that there was no roll out of this service in the District. That is because, only days earlier, the DC City Council informed us that they intended to pass an amendment to the taxi modernization bill that would make it illegal for Uber to lower its prices or to offer a low cost service in any form.

The Council’s intention is to prevent Uber from being a viable alternative to taxis by enacting a price floor to set Uber’s minimum fare at today’s rates and no less than 5 times a taxi’s minimum fare. Consequently they are handicapping a reliable, high quality transportation alternative so that Uber cannot offer a high quality service at the best possible price. It was hard for us to believe that an elected body would choose to keep prices of a transportation service artificially high – but the goal is essentially to protect a taxi industry that has significant experience in influencing local politicians. They want to make sure there is no viable alternative to a taxi in Washington DC, and so on Tuesday (tomorrow!), the DC City Council is going to formalize that principle into law.

This isn't just in DC - it's here in Ohio, as I detail at Ohio Watchdog: We're just a bunch of hapless rubes. Whether it's duct cleaning, roll-your-own cigarettes or food carts, government has become nothing more than a tool to be used against potential business competitors or to accomplish what your fail to achieve at the bargaining table (unions) or elsewhere (various non-profit groups who lobby for funding).

When did our government become a tool for stopping entrepreneurship? Why would any person who swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States think it acceptable to wield the regulatory power to protect an industry from competition. Why would any elected official agree to measures that actually hurt the very people they're supposed to serve? Why would any governmental body think it is okay to 'screw the public' by insisting that you pay higher prices - for anything?

These are rhetorical questions. I know the answers - I just have a hard time believing our nation has come to this point.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Toledo Democrats want more taxes from poor, middle class

Yes, despite the rhetoric and class warfare coming from the left these days, Toledo Democrats have proven, one again, that they want more taxes from the poor and middle class.

Tuesday, in a strictly party-line vote, the Democrats on Toledo City Council, led by Lindsay Webb, District 2, and Steve Steel, At-Large, voted to put a 1 mill recreation levy on the ballot in November. At-Large Councilmen Rob Ludeman and George Sarantou, along with District 5 Councilman Tom Waniewski, all Republicans, voted no.

Note - the Democrats voted to tax the poor and middle class while the 'evil' Republicans, who are only supposed to care about the 'rich,' voted not to.

Now, they'll claim they're only giving citizens the ability to vote on the measure. But they're going to raise money to promote the levy and encourage you to say yes to raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

Toledo's median income is only $32,325. As $103,000 is considered to be 'rich' (top 10% of wage earners) and there are only 7,981 households in Toledo that make $100,000 or more, this means that Toledo Democrats want to tax the remaining 119,016 middle and low income households in order to get more money for parks.

Now, these are 2009 figures, so I'm guessing that there are probably a few more households in the below $100,000 range than there used to be as a result of the economy and job losses in the area.

So at least 94% of the households in Toledo are middle or low income and Toledo City Council just voted to increase their taxes - not to pay for essential city services like roads or infrastructure or even police and fire protection.

No - this is for parks and recreation and to 'enhance the quality of life' of Toledoans. And let's not forget - it's 'for the children.'

Apparently, they've either forgotten or already spent the money from the additional red light cameras that was supposed to go toward funding these exact programs.

We're taxed enough already and this is just one of seven levy requests that we'll vote on in November.

And in case you were wondering, yes, this does qualify as 'stuck-on-stupid.'

As I've said in the past, my quality of life would be MORE enhanced if all the 'I-know-what's-best-for-you' politicians would quit raising my taxes.

I hope you agree.

Quote of the Day - bike paths vs. Constitution

Can someone please explain to me how federal funding of bike paths fits this explanation of the Constitutional ability of Congress to appropriate funds?

"The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use; or, whether it be of general benefit to the states. If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object. But, if the benefit be general, it matters not, whether in point of locality it be in one state, or several; whether it be of large, or of small extent." ~ Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

Friday, July 06, 2012

Grant will provide high-tech internships in Northwest Ohio

Press Release:

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce Recommended for $428,571 Grant to Help College Students Obtain High-Tech Internships

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce was recently recommended to receive a grant of $428,571 by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission to operate the Third Frontier Internship Program in Northwest Ohio. This program provides reimbursements of up to $3,000 per intern to businesses that employ college students pursuing degrees in high-tech fields.

The grant will be used to place and compensate approximately 135 interns in high-tech positions across Northwest Ohio through a partnership with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, other chambers of commerce and higher education institutions.

The Ohio Third Frontier is committed to creating new technology-based products, companies, industries and jobs in Ohio. The Ohio Third Frontier Internship program furthers this commitment by developing a pool of talented workers for Ohio companies. This is done by exposing students to the strategies and processes of business environments and by creating potential employment opportunities following graduation.

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce was previously involved with the Third Frontier Internship Program from 2004 to 2007 as a liaison between businesses in Northwest Ohio and a Dayton-based program administrator. In July 2011, the Chamber was awarded the program and took on the administrative role in this region. Since last summer, a total of 94 interns have been placed and more than $260,000 has been reimbursed to 20 companies in Northwest Ohio.

Businesses and interns interested in registering for this program should visit http://thirdfrontierintern.ohio.gov/3fip/index.php.

For information regarding the program, contact Charlene Page, SBDC Program Manager at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, at charlene.page@toledochamber.com or at 419.243.8191.

Charlene Page will promote the program on July 30 at the Mapping Success, Driving Partnerships, Northwest Ohio Regional Rally at Ohio Northern University.

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, serving a membership of over 2,600 businesses, is the collective voice for the Northwest Ohio business community. www.toledochamber.com


Voters First: okay to sign petition for your brother

Voters First is a group primarily made up of unions and Democrats who want to change the way Ohio draws its congressional districts. They want to create an un-elected board of citizens to draw the lines, instead of letting the Ohio legislature do the job.

In order to make this change, they circulated petitions to put a constitutional amendment before voters. The signed petitions have been submitted and are in the process of having the signatures verified. If they have enough valid signatures, we'll see the item on the November ballot.

But this July 3 video from the Ohio Republican Party calls into question the tactics, as well as the signatures:

Yep, even though you've already signed, it's okay for you to sign again using someone else's name.

But that's not all. In this video, taken on June 6, a petitioner tells a man that it's okay to sign the petition even though the man does not live in Ohio:

I'm opposed to the Voters First proposal. They don't like the districts that resulted from the last re-drawing and since Democrats in the legislature failed to timely submit their own proposal, this seems like sour grapes to me.

I also do not like the fact that an un-elected board will make the decisions. Having individuals with no accountability to anyone does not improve the current process in which districts are drawn by elected individuals who are accountable to the voters.

Furthermore, I see much more room for partisan influence in this proposed body than in the current process. Because Ohio lost population, we had to eliminate two districts. The legislature eliminated one Republican-held district and one Democrat-held district. How much more even-handed can you get?

Voters First claims that by having non-elected individuals draw the lines, we'll end up with better districts and less gerrymandering to create Republican- or Democrat-leaning ones. But the predominance of Democrats in larger cities and Republicans in rural areas, combined with the laws on discrimination and voting, make drawing districts extremely difficult to begin with and there is no guarantee that any other group will do any better than what we already have.

They say they want "politically balanced" districts - not "safe districts," but also want to keep communities together inside a district. There is no way to draw a district that includes the city of Toledo or the city of Cleveland and not end up with a 'safe' district for a Democrat. Their goal of keeping the 'community' (city) together is incompatible with a "politically balanced" district.

Besides, as we've all seen, no matter how much they claim a board will be non-partisan, they always end up being exactly that.

I'd rather have the elected representatives do this than rely upon a group of people I, as a voter, have no control over. This is the opposite of 'voters first.'

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Free dump days at Hoffman Road Landfill

Press release from City of Toledo:

The City of Toledo will offer another opportunity for residents to dispose of bulk waste at the Hoffman Road Landfill free of charge this Saturday, July 7.

The landfill will be open from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. on these days and proof of residency will be required in the form of a current utility bill and valid photo identification.

Acceptable bulky waste items include excess trash, furniture, carpeting, mattresses, wood waste, and scrap metal. There will be no free commercial dumping.

Appliances and items containing Freon; hazardous, chemical, toxic, poisonous flammable or industrial waste; tires; batteries; paint and oil will not be accepted. For a complete list of prohibited items and information about hazardous waste disposal, please visit the Division of Solid Waste page on the city’s website, www.toledo.oh.gov.

One other free dump day will be offered this summer on September 8, 2012.

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