Friday, July 27, 2007

What's all the fuss about?...what the charter really says about a balanced budget

Toledo city council and the mayor are going back and forth about whether or not the mayor has to submit a balanced budget to city council in November. The political dispute over this issue between A-Team and B-Team democrats, the alliance of the republicans with the B-Team mayor and all the press conferences about the claimed 'retaliatory' actions as a result are saturating the airwaves.

Some councilmen (vote of 8-4) decided to place an amendment to the city charter on the ballot...the amendment would add the word 'balanced' to the provision for the mayor's budget submission to council in November of each year. On the surface, that appears to be a logical change in our city charter.

But if you read the actual language of the charter, you'll find the following:

Section 45. Mayor's Budget Estimate.
The fiscal year of the City shall begin on the first day of January. On or before the fifteenth day of November of each year, the Mayor shall prepare a budget estimate of the expense of conducting the affairs of the City for the following fiscal year. The estimate shall be compiled from detailed information obtained from the various departments on uniform blanks prepared by the Director of Finance, and shall set forth:

(a) An itemized estimate of the expense of conducting each department.

(b) Comparisons of such estimates with the corresponding items of expenditure for the last two complete fiscal years, and with the expenses of the current fiscal year, plus an estimate of expenditures necessary to complete the current fiscal year.

(c) Reasons for proposed increases or decreases in such items of expenditures compared with the current fiscal year.

(d) A separate schedule of each department showing the things necessary for the department to do during the ensuing year, and things desirable to do if funds permit.

(e) Items of payroll increases as either additional pay to present employees or pay for more employees.

(f) An estimate of the anticipated income of the City from taxation and other sources to meet current expenses for the fiscal year.

(g) A statement of the amounts to be appropriated: For interest on the City debt. For paying off any serial bonds maturing during the year. For the aggregate for the year of the installments required to be appropriated annually during the life of all other bonds of the City in order to pay off such bonds at maturity.

(h) The total amount of outstanding gross and net debt of the City, classified as to limits on such indebtedness, with a schedule of maturities of outstanding general bonds classified to show those for which debt service levies are made inside and outside the limits on the tax rate.

(i) Such other information as may be required by Council.

The total items of current expense in the budget and appropriation ordinance shall not exceed the amount available for such purpose as provided by law. The Mayor shall submit the estimates thus prepared to the Council and at least five hundred (500) copies thereof shall be printed for distribution to citizens who may call for them and the substance thereof shall be printed in the City Journal.

(Amended by electors 11-3-92)

Two key points: 1) "the total items of current expense...shall not exceed the amount available" means balanced. I know that it doesn't use the word 'balanced,' but the meaning is clear. 2) "Such other information as may be required by Council" means that council already has the authority to require that the mayor identify ideas and suggestions for obtaining a balanced budget.

So, since it appears the charter already requires a balanced budget and it appears that council already has the authority to make other requirements of the mayor in order to develop a balanced budget, what's all the fuss about?

It's all about political posturing. The idea of adding a word to the charter sure does sound simple - and it's such common-sense message. I mean, who wouldn't want to make sure that the charter requires a 'balanced' budget. But it's all smoke and mirrors, because the word isn't needed if the other provisions in the charter already require the budget submission to be balanced.

And the time and attention spent on this issue so far have certainly resulted in a significant amount of publicity for a lot of people...but if council had really wanted to handle the budgetary process differently, they ALREADY have the authority to require items or other things from the administration - and they could have done so without amending the charter.

Following council's vote, the mayor suggested that the number of council members be reduced from 12 to 8.

So the issue has gone from a balanced budget, to a reduction in the number of councilmen, to a reduction in the mayor's salary, to a charge of violating the charter by mentioning candidates during a council meeting, to a legal who knows where it will end up?

This is not to say that such issues as number of council members and mayor salary are not substantive nor deserving of discussion and consideration. However, the main purpose of raising these issues is strictly to use them as a political ploy. They're just the topic de jour in the never-ending battle for power and control of the city.

In the meantime, FedEx is probably going to move to Wood County - if they actually stay in the state, population is continuing to decline, and taxes are continuing to rise. At what point will these warring political factions abandon their petty bids for control and actually focus on the job they were elected to do?

Of course, that would require them to understand they weren't elected to 'control' but, rather, to serve.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More thoughts on mayor's pay cut proposal

I've thought about this a while and want to make sure everyone understands that I think a mayoral pay cut is a good idea. I appreciate when anyone makes suggestions for cutting the costs of government.

And by making the offer to cut his own salary by 10%, Carty, being a shrewd person, may be setting the stage for an across-the-board pay cut for all city employees. While this would meet with substantial opposition from the employees, it would be appreciated by the citizens. Citizens who, by the way, may have gone several years without pay increases when city employees didn't. The city unions, too, would oppose this as they've made 'concessions' and other agreements in the past to obtain their current wage scales.

But, as he hasn't said anything about 'setting the stage,' this is speculation on my part. And in the meantime, the discussion around the city reflects a skeptism of the idea.

Toledoans have seen the mayor spend money - some would say frivolously, but certainly unnecessarily...and it's to the point where a $13,670 cut appears to more of a publicity stunt than anything else.

The reason for this skeptism is all because of Carty's own actions...he spent just under $10,000 to put a shower in his office. He spent $39,900 for flowers and then said it was a 'pittance' when people complained. These are two instances that received a lot of media attention, so most people know about them. So when he makes the gesture to cut his pay by 10%, people see it only as a gesture...(for some of my budget-cutting suggestions, go here)

Knowing Carty, he will be surprised by the reaction of Toledoans to his 'gesture.' I'm sure he thinks he's making a personal sacrifice for the city he loves so much. And I'm equally certain he will not understand the sarcasm that accompanies the reaction and comments about his idea.

But such public reactions should come as no surprise. You can't spend $40,000 on unneeded items and call it a pittance and then expect people to jump for joy when you offer to save less than half that amount.

If this is the first of many spending cuts, the public will support it. But if it's just an empty gesture, the public will see right through it. The real problem is that with Carty, the public never knows for sure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A new neighbor

For the past couple of weeks, we've been noticing that a hawk has been hanging around our area, usually perching in my neighbor's tree. We believe he/she has a nest there, but we only saw it fly by...until today.

I saw the hawk fly very low through our side yard and toward the back of the house. When I quietly walked around to the back of the house, I saw it perched on our fence. This photo was taken through the door, for fear of opening it and scaring him/her off. Unfortunately, despite turning it's head toward me several times, I wasn't able to capture it with the camera.

If, from this picture, you can tell what kind of hawk it is, I'd really like to know!

Carnival #75

The Carnival of Ohio Politics is up here with several new entries as well as a round up of the usual suspects.

Cruise over and enjoy!

Mayor to cut his salary?

According to The Blade, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is offering to cut his salary by 10% to help the budget situation...

The mayor earns $136,700 per year, so a 10% cut is $13,670.

I can't help but remember Carty's comments when people complained about $39,900 for planting flowers. He said that it was a 'pittance' compared to the entire city budget...

So now I wonder what word he's going to use to describe his $13,670 pay cut?

Levy Fatigue

As part of the research I was doing last week to guest host WSPD 1370's Eye on Toledo show, I found an old list of county-wide levies and how much money they generate.

Quite some time ago, I'd suggested that we change our method of putting levies on the ballot and insist that all levies be on the ballot at the same time - so that voters were able to see, in one place, all the issues/agencies/organizations asking for their money. Obviously, this didn't sit well with many organizations and agencies who thought they'd actually have to compete with others for the limited funds of the citizens...

So, I thought I'd list all the current county-wide levies so you can see everyone you're supporting and how much it's costing you. If I could confirm the estimated collection for the levies, I've listed that as well.

* Children Services Board: 2.4 Mills - two levies, one for 1.0 Mills that expires in 2007 and will be collected through 2008; and one for 1.4 Mills that expires in 2010 and will be collected through 2011. Total estimated collection is $18,725,000.00. Most people don't realize that CSB has two levies.

* Community Mental Health: 1.5 Mills - two levies, one for .5 Mills that expires in 2013 and will be collected through 2014; and one for 1.0 Mills that expires in 2008 and will be collected through 2009. Total estimated collection is $10,935,000.

* Toledo Zoo: 1.85 Mills - two levies, one for 1 Mill for Capital Improvements only that expires in 2015 and will be collected through 2016; and one for .85 Mills for operating expenses that expires in 2010 and will be collected through 2011.

* Metro Parks: 1.7 Mills - two levies, one for .3 Mills for new land purchases that expires in 2011 and will be collected through 2012; and one for 1.4 Mills that expires in 2007 and will be collected through 2008. Total estimated collection is $11,500,000.

* TARTA: 2.5 Mills - two levies, one for 1.5 Mills that expired in 2006 and will be collected through the end of this year; and one for 1 Mill that expires in 2010 and will be collected through 2011.

* Toledo Lucas County Public Library: 2 Mills - two levies, 1 Mill each, both expired in 2006 and are collected through the end of this year. Total estimated collection was $12,250,000.

* Port Authority: .4 Mills, expires in 2008 and will be collected through 2009.

* 9-1-1: .7 Mills, expires 2010 and will be collected through 2011.

* Senior Levy: .45 Mills, expires in 2008 and will be collected through 2009.

* MR/DD: 5 Mills continuous per state law.

Total: 18.5 Mills

For quick math, you can figure a single mill generates about $30 of taxes for a $100,000 valued home. So if your home is $100,000, you're paying about $550 for these levies.

Now, so far, the Metroparks wants their 1.4 Mills to be voted on as a replacement. Replacement levies are usually the same millage amount, but applied to the most recent valuation of the property. This means that, for a $100,000 home, you'll pay an additional $15.89 per year for this levy.

The Library wisely wants to combine their two 1-Mill levies into a single 2-Mill levy. However, this would be a replacement levy and taxed against the most recent valuation of your home - an increase of $19.94 per year for a $100,000 home.

And then there is COSI who has a new levy request for .167 Mills. While "it's only" $5 per year for a $100,000 home, it's a new property tax that is not likely to ever go away, much less stay the same in terms of millage or collections. (for more on the 'it's only' please see my previous post)

So far, the proposed increase for you on your taxes is $40.83 per year for a $100,000 home - and that's on top of the roughly $550 you're already paying. If TARTA puts a replacement levy on the ballot, your amount will top the $600 level...and then some.

Oh - and for a really sobering thought - this doesn't include the school levies. TPS has 63.5 Mills that are on your tax bill, their continuous 44.8 Mills and all voted on additions including: 6.50 mills General, 4.90 mills General (Emergency), 2.50 mills Permanent Improvement, 4.30 mills Construction Bonds, and 0.50 mills Classrooms.

If all these were on the ballot at the same time, would you vote yes on all of them? Or would you be more selective and prioritize the spending of your tax dollars? Would you support more than one levy per agency?

Many fear that voters would NOT support everything that they do now, if they knew or understood the TOTAL implication of the combined effect these levies have on your tax bill. But then, that's exactly why support for putting all levies on the ballot at one time is virtually non-existent.

Remember this the next time someone tells you "it's for the children," "but it's only...," or "it's for our quality of life."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

But it's only....

I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty tired of the expression, 'but it's only...' followed by a dollar figure. And it seems to be used primarily for unnecessary expenditures.

Parents probably hear this a lot - I know it was a phrase I used myself when young. But every time I used such a phrase, I got an economics lesson about how those 'it's only's' added up.

COSI Toledo, our local hands-on children's science museum, has requested a second attempt at passing a levy. Their attempt last year, approved by the Board of County Commissioners by a 2-1 vote (guess who voted 'no') to be on the ballot, did not pass. As our local paper put it, it was only a 1,200 vote margin.

COSI board members had said they would have to close without the levy...but they didn't. They found some generous sponsors (as they should have done prior to the levy) which allowed them to stay open until they could put another levy on the ballot. It is expected that the vote by the BCC today will be 'yes' and they will have .17 mill levy on the ballot in November.

But, you say, it's only .17 Mill...that's only $5 per year for a $100,000 home. Yes, it's only...

However, I remember when, in 2003, the Commissioners were faced with an issue of either tapping into the general fund to support the operations of the Dog Warden (it's supposed to be a self-sustaining operation) or raising the license fees by $5. Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak was very concerned that seniors, who rely upon dogs and other pets for companionship, would have to choose between the license and their prescription medicines. Her comment, for the press release announcing the increase was:

“I am concerned that this fee increase represents an additional financial burden on senior citizens already facing increased healthcare, prescription, and other costs,” said Lucas County Commissioner Wozniak.

With this as her reason, she voted 'no' on increasing the fee.

Please understand...I have no problem with her position on this. I disagree with it, but can understand her concern - if - and this is a big IF - she is consistent with her position and votes against other such increases that represent an 'additional financial burden on senior citizens.' Besides, costs today are even higher than they were four years ago, so her logic is even more applicable. If she's truly concerned about our senior citizens, she'd vote 'no' to put COSI on the ballot.

We'll see...especially since "it's only"...

NOTE: please check back tomorrow as I'll be discussing all the county-wide levies and their financial impact.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Random Thoughts-National and Local

*** According to an article in the Boston Globe, Governor Deval Patrick has asked the federal government's Small Business Administration to provide financial assistance to some businesses impacted by a weekend fire. Since when is it the responsibility of the federal government to deal with a local fire? Perhaps Gov. Patrick, as well as those in Washington, need to read Col. David Crockett's 'Not Yours to Give."

*** According to The Hill, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) (bridge to nowhere) is at it again...basically "declaring that 'those who bite me will be bitten back.' Young's outburst came in response to an amendment offered by Garrett that would cut an $11.8 million earmark for 'Strengthening Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions.'" Guess he and the other members of Congress, especially the Republicans, cannot hear what the American public is saying. Unfortunately, it may not make a difference in his home district - and that's the problem.

*** Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is again working on eliminating pork projects from the Defense Department authorization bill. He's got four amendments zeroing in on earmarks. "...But Senate Chief Deputy Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Coburn probably would not get much leadership support for his efforts. 'I don't think there's any appetite for taking this on,' Thune said of the earmark fight." (Roll Call, 7/18/07) No appetite from the leadership for fighting earmarks? No wonder Republicans across the nation are withholding financial support for these people!

*** Locally, State Democrat Party Chairman Chris Redfern attributes the split between the A-Team and B-Team to....The Republicans! Yep, that's right! You see, the reason that the local Democrats are fighting among themselves is because they don't have any Republicans to fight against. According to the article in Sunday's Blade, "The absence of a viable competitor prevents the Democrats from uniting." I guess what they're really saying is that they're not standing 'for' something, since the key to maintaining their unity to is to have something to 'oppose.' While there is truth to the lack of a strong 2-party system in Lucas County, what does it say about your own party that you would make such a statement?

*** Finally, in the on-going saga of our Mayor's criticism of neighbor Wood County, accusing them of trying to "pilfer, pirate, raid, poach Toledo" businesses, it appears that the local company considering either expansion or a move is the FedEx Ground sorting center on Reynolds Road. The company says it's considering several sites in Toledo, Wood County and Southeastern Michigan. Our mayor's outburst certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the local government and may make FedEx look more aggressively to leave. (For more on this issue, you can listen to a podcast of my guest hosting stint on WSPD's Eye on Toledo show the day of the Mayor's press conference.)

But there's more to the seems that FedEx's real estate agent is a member of the Perrysburg Township Trustees. Which, in Toledo thinking, means that this individual cannot do what's best for his client, FedEx, and instead will use his business relationship to his advantage as a township trustee. I think our local officials should look up the definition of 'psychological projection.'

More on SCHIP

For those following the on-going issue of expanding socialized medicine, in the form of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, I offer this column by Star Parker.

According to the article:

The reason for the launch of the SCHIP program in 1997 was affordability of health care. The point was to finance health care for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, almost half of our nation's children have government-paid health care either through Medicaid or SCHIP.

This new proposed expansion would entrench government health care more deeply into the nation's middle class.

Whereas SCHIP coverage has commonly covered families earning up to 200 percent above the poverty line, the new proposal lifts this ceiling to 300 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, up to 75 percent of families in this income range already have private coverage.

This is an informative article which also addresses the issue of less government regulation - rather than more.

So wrong on so many levels - Part 2

Well, it was to be expected...The Blade, our local daily newspaper, has another article on the 'Art Assist' program. They did call me for comment, but I said no - I suggested that, if they wanted a Republican Party perspective on this as they said, they should contact the Republican Party or interview Republican elected officials throughout the county.

I don't know if they did this, but the only 'contrary' opinion given in the article was when they quoted my original blog post on this topic. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad they read my writings. But I am disappointed that they either didn't contact anyone else OR that local republicans failed to take a principled stand on this issue.

But back to today's article...

It starts with a hard tug on the heart strings with a poor local artist who doesn't sell enough of his art to support himself full time. Got news for you...a LOT of artists don't sell enough to avoid another job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings for self-employed artists vary widely. "Some charge only a nominal fee while they gain experience and build a reputation for their work...Many, however, find it difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art." And, the $25,000 the County is making available in low interest loans of $500 - $2,000 isn't going to make a difference in that!

The article says:

"Joe Zsigray, the (Collingwood Arts) center’s executive director, said he hopes the program can lure not only new art buyers into the market but also induce those who already buy local artwork to buy more.

(induce those who already purchase art? perhaps those LEAST likely to need a loan???)

“The problem that we have in Toledo is not that we don’t have enough artists. It’s just that we don’t have enough people buying the art,” he said."

So our market isn't good. Okay - then let's artificially support the market...and then, when the limited $25,000 for local purchases expires, the market will return to what it is now. How does that really help our local artists or our local economy? We artificially create a demand, but when that artificial demand is gone - what then? Government will use MORE of our tax dollars to subsidize MORE of an artificial demand? Wasn't it Reagan who said that a government program is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth?

In the article, a local gallery owner says: "Mr. Zaleski said: “Everybody needs a new pair of shoes, but not everybody needs art.” He also said that there's been no formal study of the art market in Toledo. Wouldn't such a study have been a good idea before investing public monies in ANY program? Wouldn't we, as a community, have been better served by understanding the issues that prevent our local artists from being successful and then helping to address those issues - rather than implement a superficial program with limited impact? I'm not suggesting another government study - but before trying to impact an industry and local market, wouldn't it be nice to understand it?

And then there was this quote:

"Some artists who have had trouble selling work in Mr. Zaleski’s galleries have traveled to Chicago and sold their pieces for double or triple the original price tag. When the artwork was on sale in Toledo, people seemed to place a lower value on it, he said."

Wow - your work doesn't sell well here, but it does sell well why are we subsidizing - with tax dollars - purchases here? (And don't say it's for the sales tax - the County's portion of the sales tax on $25,000 is only about $300.) Why aren't the artists traveling en masse to Chicago? And how smart is that, especially in an industry that doesn't rely upon location for success? Would any type of analysis of our local market have shown this as a factor?

So, the County is losing investment income, the small amount of available loans isn't really going to make much of a difference in terms of sales tax or individual artists ... IF anyone actually takes advantage of it (The Blade didn't mention anyone who's actually qualified for the loan). So why are we doing this?

Are we just trying to set the stage for a more significant investment of public dollars in the future? Is there some special "arts lobby" out there pushing for a new government program? Are we using public funds and offices to cater to a personal interest? Does the fact that our local paper promotes such art programs factor into the decision in any way?

Or is it just a really nice press opportunity... all smoke and mirrors with no real substance?

I have no idea, but I resent the attempt by this latest article to make me feel sorry for these 'struggling artists.' Isn't the 'struggle' supposed to make the artist better? And if we're supposed to feel sorry for these individuals to the point that we subsidize their 'products,' what about everyone else in our community who is struggling? How about if we subsidize every local business who can't sell enough of their product to be self-sustaining? Where will it stop?

One of the major points of my first blog on this was that the priorities of the County, in putting this program above everything else, were misplaced. They still are misplaced, in thinking that this program will spur any economic development. True economic development and growth don't come from an artificial market demand. And no government program can create a true demand for a product. But they can certainly spend your tax dollars in a failed effort to do so.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Socialized Medicine, SCHIP and the role of the GOP-UPDATED

As I was doing some research on the proposal to expand the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) by taxing cigarettes and cigars, I came across and interesting perspective from Marc Kilmer of the Buckeye Institute.

(For some background information on this issue, I recommend local blogger Smoke If You Got 'Em, who has a post on the issue as well as the response to a letter he sent to Sen. Sherrod Brown. Toledo Talk also has a thread on the issue.)

Kilmer starts with an challenging question:

"If a politician ever suggested that taxes should be raised on the poor in order to pay for a product that people in the middle or upper class could already afford, it is not likely that this politician would have much of a future in office. So why, then, are so many members of the U.S. House and Senate rushing to support an effort to raise cigarette taxes (which hit the poor much harder than the rich) to pay for expanding federal health insurance program to include many middle class families?"

The reason, he explains, that SCHIP needs more money isn't just because of increasing medical costs - it's because coverage is being expanded to children in families that should be able to afford medical coverage (in some states a family of four can make up to $83,000 and still qualify) - and to ADULTS. In my logic, this doesn't make sense, as such expansions seem to be directly opposite to the original intent of covering children in families who made too much to qualify for medicare, but not enough to purchase their own insurance.

Kilmer says, "In fact, according to a recent study by the non-partisan Tax Foundation, almost 60 percent of American children would be eligible for government health care under a proposal being pushed by some Senators. Can anyone say with a straight face that this is really about “poor kids”?"

He further explains that the idea for such taxes is because "smokers impose such a heavy burden on government health care programs" so it's logical that they should pay more for medical care. But he rightly points out that children aren't supposed to be smoking, so how do you justify the use of such fund for them?

Kilmer hits the nail on the head with this statement:

"Why tax smokers more to pay for this program, then? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that people like “free” government programs. They like the concept of government funding children’s health care, but they do not want to pay for it themselves. So they pick out a group of folks engaged in activities they do not like – such as smoking – and decide to tax them."

But before you go off on the Democrats who are supporting this, remember that there are plenty on the right side of the aisle who believe this expansion of government is a good idea. In fact, it was a Republican Congress that, in 1997, gave us (what was at the time) the largest expansion of government health care since 1965, when Medicaid and Medicare were created.

The new federally funded program? "State Children's Health Insurance Program" (SCHIP).

At the time of passage, Congress estimated SCHIP would cost taxpayers $48 billion over ten years. Ten years later, the current figure being bandied about is $5.04 billion per year, which is not that much more than what's been spent, on average, each year previously. But the kicker is that the re-authorization is only for five years and some estimate that the shortfall from the states during that time frame could be $7 billion - yes, billion with a 'b'...

Ironic - when the Democrats controlled Congress in 1993, the Clinton administration failed to pass a national plan for socialized medicine. But Republicans, in 1997, implemented the administration's backup plan. According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a "kids first" strategy which could be implemented through Medicaid was the backup option in case the larger plan failed. Many rejected 'HillaryCare' as socialized medicine...but those same people willingly took the first step toward the end goal by passing SCHIP.

So why did the GOP do this? Some speculate that they caved to an effective Democrat strategy which went something like this: Let's propose a new government program for children and fund it with cigarette taxes. Then, if Republicans oppose "KidCare" we'll charge that they don't care about children and that the only reason they oppose it is because they get large sums of money from the tobacco industry. This was a brilliant political strategy and one that is duplicated in numerous issues today. How many times do you hear, in a campaign, that it's 'for the children'?

At the time of passage, there was concern that the program would encourage families and employers to drop private health insurance and take this new government subsidy.

Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office in 1997/1998 were that half of the participants in the new program would be families who gave up private insurance. And they had good reason for such expectations....In 1987, Medicaid was expanded to pregnant women and their children with incomes 250% of the poverty level. Between 1988 and 1995, the number of kids covered by private insurance fell 8 percentage points while the percentage of kids covered by Medicaid climbed 7.6 points. Some studies showed that at least 3/4 of the shift was the result of parents dropping private coverage for themselves and their children.

Another concern at the time was that SCHIP would eventually become mandatory, regardless of family income or need. With the current proposed expansion to higher income levels, it's not yet mandatory, but it looks like it will certainly become the 'insurance of choice' for those eligible, after all - if the government is going to pay for something, why should I?

In 1994, the Republicans won control of Congress by promising to reduce government. But they didn't. Recently, under the guise of 'compassionate conservatism,' Republicans continued to expand the scope and reach of the federal government. One would think they would have learned a good lesson from previous experiences - that it is almost impossible to roll back entitlement programs once they're created, especially health-care entitlements. Yet instead of learning that lesson, in 1997 Republicans helped create the largest health-care entitlement in 30 years. And then, in 2003, they exceeded their previous record by passing what became the largest expansion of health-care entitlements when they approved the Medicare Prescription Drug program.

If they support the proposed expansion of eligibility for SCHIP, they may get credit for paving the road to socialized medicine.

Fellow SOBers weigh in: Porkopolis has additional information on SCHIP and some good links, and One Oar in the Water shares thoughts about socialism and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 16, 2007

Guest Hosting Eye on Toledo

As Kevin Milliken is on vacation this week, both Michael Miller, editor of the Toledo Free Press, and I will guest host WSPD 1370's Eye on Toledo Show from 6-7 p.m.

Michael will cover Monday and Wednesday and I'll cover Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

On Tuesday, I'll be talking about festival fees and cat license'll have to tune in to find out what they have in common.

Hope that you'll listen - and you can listen on-line if you're outside their broadcast radius.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Carnival #73

The 73rd Carnival of Ohio Politics is up. Cruise on over and enjoy the informative and thought-provoking posts you'll find linked.

If you're a blogger, you might want to consider offering your posts for inclusion, as well.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Who speaks for Lucas County Republicans?

This morning on WSPD 1370 AM, morning show host, Fred Lefebvre, asked why I hadn't spoken out about the recent Democrat Party Fundraiser controversy, wherein certain 'female entertainers' were recruited to be waitresses at a golf outing. (This link will take you to the first story in The Blade, but it is only the first of many.)

My first reaction was to spout off a well-known adage that many candidates learn early in their careers: When your opponent is destroying himself, don't get in the way. And this certainly applies to the controversy currently splitting the local Democrat Party - with A-Teamers taking proper advantage of a lack of good judgment by B-Teamer party chairman, John Irish, and going so far as to call for his resignation.

That this issue represents a lack of good judgment is clear, considering it's gotten international attention. But the local Republican Party leaders and elected officials have been pretty quiet on the issue.

I'd defend them, by going back to the adage...the local Dems don't need a lot of help on this one as they're doing a good enough job internally. But Fred does raise a good question - who IS speaking for the local GOP?

We have a party chairman who has traditionally been the spokesman for our local GOP. Certainly, elected officials have spoken for themselves on all sorts of issues, so their ability to comment on this one is a given...whether or not they WANT to comment is another question, entirely.

So if Fred - or anyone else, for that matter - is looking for an official GOP response, this is where they should start. As for me, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the show.

UPDATE: Lisa at Glass City Jungle has an interesting post about local Democrat women calling for a boycott of a meeting at their local headquarters. Rumor has it that State Party Chair Chris Redfern has decided NOT to attend the meeting, as scheduled.

As I said, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the show...although now I may need some popcorn.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blog Tag...Are You It?

Well, there's an interesting little game going around the blogosphere called "Blog Tag," and apparantly, I'm one of the 'its.'

These are the rules imparted to me by my 'tagger,' HoodaThunkit:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

However, this blog post by Jeff Pulver from back in December says that the number of 'facts' and people to tag should be five. So, Hooda, I'm going with the ORIGINAL rules - and I'm sure I could go into some kind of political commentary about checking first for the originator's intent before joining the

So, five little known facts about me:

1. When I was younger, I used to bite my nails. This so annoyed my grandmother that she resorted to bribery to get me to stop. While it took about 7 years for me to stop this 'despicable habit,' as she called it, I did manage to do this - more because it seemed so important to her. I still have the birthstone ring she bought me in celebration of my accomplishment.

2. I enjoy watching fishing shows - not the bass masters or other small fresh water fish ... the Shark Hunters or Spanish Fly or Offshore Adventures are the ones I like - basically, anything with large, preferable edible, salt water targets.

3. I don't particularly like berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries...pretty much berries in general. Although this non-preference has my husband absolutely flumoxed, as he could live on berries alone.

4. I don't drink beer...just never developed a taste for it, I guess.

5. I raced in my first sailboat race at the age of 7.

So, for the second part of the blog-tag, here are those whom I've tagged:

Chad, Right Wing Toledo, Luke at Smoke If You've Got 'Em, Matt at Toledo Tattler, and Kurt at Progressive Toledo.

Enjoy the game!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Happy Birthday America!

“Somewhere in our growing up we began to be aware of the meaning of days and with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today, that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth... In recent years, however, I’ve come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation. It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history. Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that changed the very concept of government. Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people. We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should. Happy Fourth of July.” Ronald Reagan

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism." - Erma Bombeck

"A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle." - George William Curtis

"How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy." - Paul Sweeney

"The United States is the only country with a known birthday." - James G. Blaine
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