Thursday, April 30, 2009

A great Hot Air Tour event

Well the weather wasn't the greatest, but the Americans For Prosperity Hot Air Tour balloon did make it and gave rides to lots of attendees. Guess the rain is okay, so long as there isn't any wind.

APF President Tim Phillips and Waterville Mayor Derick Merrin both spoke briefly. Tim gave out the phone numbers for Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (419-259-3875, 202-224-3353 and 614-469-6697) and urged everyone to call him and ask him to promise not impose any taxes in order to address any 'global warming' issue.

I took videos of the speeches and of several home-schooled kids who came out to get a ride in the balloon. I'll download them tonight and post them tomorrow.

There were about 60 people total who showed up and enjoyed coffee, donuts, the commentary and the rides. There were plenty of t-shirts for those who wanted them, as well.

Considering the time of day and the weather, AFP judged this event a success.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Others question value of All America City Awards

Toledo isn't the only city questioning the effort of competing in the All America City Awards.

Rowlett, TX, has an on-line Citizen Forum and one of the discussions is about the participation of the city in the All America City Awards - and whether or not the expense is worth it. Interesting, much of what is being said there is what is being said here - there are other things more important than applying and competing for an award, no matter how prestigious such an award claims to be.

An interesting question has arisen on that web page regarding just how many applications were received. You see, they don't release the number of communities who've applied, only the finalists (there are 39 this year). So the question they ask in Rowlett is whether or not all the finalists were the only applicants. But since the applicant list is never released, there is no way to ever know. They also question the dubious claim that such awards aid in economic development, wondering how you can measure such a claim.

Apparently, the idea of cities focusing on their core functions and not going after so-called 'highly prestigious' awards is one that is shared across the nation.

The impact of Specter's switch to Democrat

Patrick Ruffini hit the nail on the head when it comes to the impact of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's decision to switch to the Democratic Party:

"Today the mandate was cemented. The Democrats now have full control over Washington, D.C. They can now break the filibuster. And any failure to do so is not the result of GOP "obstruction" but of self-beclowning Democratic overreach of the sort they couldn't possibly hope to get away with if any semblance of a balance of power existed.

The Democrats are now fully responsible for what happens in Washington. ... "

There are no excuses anymore, so now we'll see if the Democrats actually believe and support everything they campaigned for.

Cheers and Jeers to Toledo City Council

Toledo City Council met last night - here are the cheers and jeers:

Cheers to Councilmen Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Philip Copeland, and D. Michael Collins who all voted against implementing fire department fees. With these four voting 'no,' the measure failed. Betty Shultz was sick and Michael Ashford left before the vote was taken, leaving not enough members to get the measure passed. Apparently, Ashford needed to appear before the Toledo Board of Education on behalf of his employer, the YMCA.

Jeers to the council members who thought billing us for services already paid for by our tax dollars: Wilma Brown, Mike Craig, Joe McNamara, George Sarantou, Mark Sobczak, and Frank Szollosi. Had the measure passed as written, it would have required the fire department to charge us for everything from the truck to the rubber gloves used in responding to a call for service.

Double Jeers to Councilman George Sarantou. According to today's paper, in response to the idea of increasing the amount of the garbage tax (otherwise known as the refuse fee), that "he would not even consider collecting more from taxpayers until the city and the unions reach consensus." Yet he was one of the 'yes' votes in favor of raising 'taxes' via the fire department.

Jeers to council as a body. They had previously approved budgeting $500,000 in additional fire fees but without details of how such a fee would be implemented. This prior approval of the revenue was the basis for many of the 'yes' votes in favor of the specific ordinance. Hopefully council has learned a valuable lesson to not approve revenue line items without the details of how any such revenue will be acquired.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Political correctness hits 'swine' flu

CNSNews is reporting that the American Meat Institute wants the media and others to stop calling the latest flu outbreak by the name of 'swine' flu - and instead call it North American flu.

"According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), North American Flu is a more accurate description of the virus that has affected people in North America," said American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle.

I guess I really don't blame them, as some people actually think you can catch it by eating pork, but it is 'swine' flu and calling it something else won't change that fact.

Putting the garbage tax into perspective

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, as part of his solution for the budget deficit, wants to increase taxes.

Among other things, he has asked council to raise the monthly refuse fee (aka: garbage tax) from $7 to $10 for people who do not recycle and from $2 to $7 for those who do. He says this would raise about $1.6 million.

I have several concerns about this proposal - aside from the fact that raising taxes is rarely the best solution.

First, the administration has not addressed, at least publicly, how they arrived at the $1.6 million. Did they assume that all people who currently pay the $7 would continue to refuse to recycle, or did they estimate a percentage of people might begin to recycle in order to keep their monthly payment the same?

Second, the increases in costs for the two groups are not the same. The $5 increase for those who are recycling (and helping the city maximize and prolong the use of the landfill) is 250%. The $3 increase for those who don't recycle is only 43%.

Why the disparity? Is it because they think that people will revolt if asked to pay more than $10 per month for this tax?

Third, and perhaps the most important one, is understanding the true cost of the 'refuse fee.' How do we compare this unvoted tax in order to understand just how much we're really paying?

At $10 per month, it's $120 per year - the equivalent of a 3.91 mill levy. At $7 per month, it's $84 per year - the equivalent of of 2.74 mill levy.

(A 1-mill levy raises about $30.62 per year when applied to a home valued at $100,000. Of course, as this is not a percentage but a flat fee, the costs are disproportionally higher for lower valued properties.)

That's more than we pay in total for the two permanent improvement levies for Toledo Public Schools - or about what we pay for the Port Authority levy, 911 levy, Senior Services levy, MetroParks land levy, and the COSI levy COMBINED.

If the City of Toledo asked you to approve a 2- or 3-mill levy, how would you vote? But if they call it a refuse fee (even though it is clearly a general revenue tax) and add it to your water bill, perhaps you don't realize just how much of a tax it really is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pedophiles, but not veterans

Erick Erickson at RedState has the post about the latest action in Congress when it comes to 'hate crimes.' You see, they added pedophiles as a protected class, but not Veterans.

You can't make this stuff up.

Personally, I'm opposed to any type of 'hate crime' legislation. I think it's Orwellian to make the penalties for a crime more or less severe depending upon your emotions regarding the victim. When we begin going down the road of making criminal penalties more severe because of the opinion of the offender, it's a slippery slope - and doesn't change the fact that the crime was committed in the first place and deserves punishment.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Sunday morning

* President Obama has said he wants reforms for credit card contracts. He wants protections that "forbid abusive fees and penalties" and said that plain language should be used. "No more fine print, no more confusing terms and conditions. We want clarity and transparency from here on out."

Can he please start first with the IRS and apply these conditions to them - and then to Congress?????

* The Blade editorial board has slammed the Ohio Supreme Court for upholding the confidentiality of attorney-client privilege and exemptions of such correspondence from Ohio's public records law. This was a ridiculous position for The Blade to have taken and they deserved their ruling. While their motives have nothing to do with the Court's decision, the only reason they wanted the report released was so that they could continue to attack Jim Hartung. It's not enough that the man is no longer the president of the Port Authority - they just want to bury him.

Their penchant for vendettas is part of what has cost them any semblance of credibility. Sadly, it doesn't seem to stop them.

* Can you say "CONTRADICTION"?

This past week, Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop asked the Warren County Commissioners to send him the stimulus funds they don't need and want to return. Warren County responded politely, telling Konop that such a decision would defeat the purpose of returning funds in the first place. (Read the correspondence here.)

Konop's statement upon receiving the response was, in part:

"...I will not get into a right-wing-radio-fueled, Rush Limbaugh-esque debate about taxes. Now is not the time for political posturing. Our job losses are real. Our home foreclosures are real. Our challenges are real. Despite Mr. Kilburn's objections and rejection, I will continue to fight for every dollar out there to provide the services our taxpayers deserve. Also, I will not apologize for, nor will I stop, pursuing every angle to put our citizens back to work. ..."

But just two days later, Konop, contradicts himself:

In a prepared response, Democratic opponent Ben Konop said he saw "a troubling pattern" - a reliance on taxpayer dollars "that don't exist."

So when you're slamming a campaign opponent, you oppose using tax dollars that don't exist, but when Warren County Commissioners tell you that the stimulus funds you want to take from them are tax dollars that don't exist, you don't want to discuss the issue? Unbelievable!

Konop also said:

"Now is not the time for pie-in-the-sky proposals," Mr. Konop said.

You mean, like having trash collectors serve as crime fighters? Or subsidizing loans so people can buy art? Or participating in fake food stamp challenges? Or using tax dollars to pay for a college education for everyone in Lucas County? etc., etc., etc., ...

Will anyone else call him on this?

* When it comes to Toledo's budget, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't aware of the massive deficit. Revenue predictions for income tax collections are a major part of the problem, as they are significantly below previous years.

But here's a critical question that no one is asking: Since it is now the end of April, what have the ACTUAL collections been for the first quarter? Are they consistent with projections? Are they higher - or lower? Where do we stand for the first quarter of the year???

Before council acts to raise taxes to address what is projected to be a decline in revenue, can we first get some FACTS about what the revenue actually is? Maybe then they can make informed decisions - for a change.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Air Tour

Press Release on the Hot Air Tour, brought to you by Americans for Prosperity:

Save the Date: April 30th
AFP’s Hot Air Balloon to Stop in Toledo

Right now in Washington, President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are pushing a Cap and Trade scheme that raises taxes on your gasoline, raises taxes on your home heating and cooling, and kills jobs by the thousands with government rationing of our energy -- all in the name of Al Gore's Global Warming alarmism.

You can fight back -- just like we did with Tea Parties. Bring your family out to Americans for Prosperity’s Hot Air Tour Thursday, April 30th in Toledo at University of Toledo’s Carter Recreational Field at 9:00 am as we urge Senator Brown to VOTE NO on the Cap and Trade Scheme. We'll have free food and a giant 70-foot-tall hot air balloon with free rides (weather permitting).

Toledo, Ohio (Register)
9:00am -- Thursday, April 30th
University of Toledo’s Carter Recreational Field (intersection of Oakwood & N. Westwood)

The first 50 registrants receive a free t-shirt.

For more information, contact Americans for Prosperity at 202-349-5880.

Be sure to forward this and encourage folks you know to sign up, including friends from work, family, your college, home school group, political group, and other community associations!

One of the driving forces behind Congressional inaction on the energy issue is global warming alarmism. We are working hard to bring you the missing half of the global warming issue. What will the impact of reactionary legislation be on our national economy, local businesses, and even your personal budget?

Note: Hot air balloon rides are weather and wind permitting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is this the way to treat employees?

Over the last week or so, Toledo's Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has threatened layoffs due to the city's $27 million budget deficit. Council cut out about $7 million so there is still $20 million to go, hence the layoff notices.

Originally, he said he'd be laying off around 300 employees - but that number has ranged as high as 350 and as low as 240-ish. Included in that total were 150 police officers along with prosecutors working in the Toledo Municipal Court (TMC).

Today, Judge Timothy Kuhlman, TMC's presiding judge, was a guest on WSPD with Brian Wilson (podcast here) and expressed his concern that a reduction in the number of prosecutors would seriously compromise the operations of the court and the safety of Toledoans. Without a sufficient number of prosecutors, it is likely that cases would be dismissed, leaving criminals to go free. He also said that the Court's probation department is already hearing 'bragging' about how gangs and criminals are just waiting for the layoff of police to occur.

Despite claims that they don't listen to WSPD, by 7 p.m. the Mayor had issued the following press release directly responding to the Judge's comments:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mayor Finkbeiner: 'Our Prosecutor's Office Is Not Closing.'

Today Mayor Finkbeiner released the following statement in response to allegations made by Municipal Court Judge Timothy Kuhlman that the City of Toledo's entire Prosecution Office staff could be laid off:

"Judge Timothy Kuhlman is misinformed and irresponsible in his statements about the possibility that the City of Toledo could lose its Prosecutor's Office. The City of Toledo will continue to employ a Law Director and the Prosecutor's Office will continue to operate with its current staff, barring any further economic downturn. While it is true that layoff notices were given to all General Fund employees, the Prosecution team would be the last in the Law Department to be cut. For Judge Kuhlman to go public without knowing of what he is speaking is absolutely unconscionable."

Of course, Carty, with his traditional 'ready, shoot, aim' behavior, did exactly what he accused Judge Kuhlman of doing: going "public without knowing of what he is speaking."

At no point did Judge Kuhlman say that the city would 'lose its Prosecutor's Office.' He did state the truth when he acknowledged that all prosecutors got layoff notices as Carty admits, and Wilson commented about even Chief of Staff Bob Reinbolt getting a layoff notice. Kuhlman talked about the consequences of both a lack of police and prosecutors and the impact layoffs of both would have to the court system and Toledoans.

But note what the release says - 'layoff notices were given to all General Fund employees.'

So the city gave layoff notices to people that they know they're not going to lay off? Talk about irresponsible!

How is that good employer-employee relations? Carty warned about media and others generating 'fear' over the lack of police, yet here he is generating 'fear' among his employees by telling them they could be laid off, even though he has no intention of doing so. He's also generated fear in Toledoans who are concerned that less than 500 officers is not enough to cover the city 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long.

Carty often praises the employees of the city for the good works that they do - and appropriately so. However, creating fear and uncertainty by giving layoff notices to those whom he knows will keep their jobs is not the way you treat employees you value - or at least that you say you value.

No wonder he's unable to accomplish anything in negotiations with the unions.

This is where news comes from

Ever wonder where 'news' comes from? Most people think that news organizations have reporters who are out on the streets, talking to people and gathering information, asking questions and conducting interviews, and then reporting the facts.

However, many times, the 'news' you see is nothing more than a press release that someone has sent out. While press releases are an effective method of notifying news organizations of what's going on, most agencies won't just print your release.

Well, here is The Blade story on the FEMA Flood Map public meeting I discussed last night on Eye On Toledo with Lucas County Engineer Keith Earley. Councilwoman Lindsay Webb will be my guest tonight to talk about Toledo issues with the new maps:

Article published April 23, 2009
FEMA to unveil floodplain documents
Point Place residents urged to attend forum

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will formally present the preliminary digital flood insurance rate maps during an open house Monday at Martin Luther King, Jr., Plaza.

The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. on the third-floor of the train station.

Toledo Councilman Lindsay Webb, who urged Point Place residents to attend, said approximately 1,700 homes are at issue - most of which are in the city's Point Place neighborhood. Last year, the city applied for a provisional accreditation of the Point Place Flood Control System, but the accreditation expires in January.

After that, the 1,700 homes will be included in the floodplain and required to carry flood insurance unless the city of Toledo can prove compliance, Ms. Webb said.

She said proving compliance within the time frame established by FEMA is almost impossible.

"The city is reviewing proposals to engage in an engineering study to find out what improvements need to be made to the dike, but this study will take time and any necessary improvements will require more time and more money," Ms. Webb said. "In these times, to require the city to engage in an expensive study and costly improvements on an aggressive timetable is egregious."

The preliminary floodplain maps are posted on the Lucas County Web site,

Here is the press release from Councilwoman Lindsay Webb:
April 21, 2009

Contact Info: Lindsay M. Webb, District 6,
Toledo City Councilwoman
Councilwoman Webb Encourages Citizens to Voice Their Concerns at FEMA Meeting

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will formally present the preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps at an Open House on Monday April 27th, 2009, on the third floor of the AMTRAK Train Station, Martin Luther King Plaza, 650 Vance Street from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. In addition to FEMA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), along with City and County officials will present information and be available to answer questions in the open forum.

At issue, are approximately 1700 homes, most of which are located in Toledo’s Point Place neighborhood. Last year, the City of Toledo applied for a provisional accreditation of the Point Place Flood Control System, but this accreditation will expire in January 2010. After January 2010, these 1700 homes, previously protected by the levee system and as such, exempt from flood insurance, will be included in the Floodplain, and required to carry flood insurance, unless the City of Toledo can prove compliance.

According to Webb, proving compliance within the timeframe established by FEMA is nearly impossible. “The City is reviewing proposals to engage in an engineering study to find out what improvements need to be made to the dike, but this study will take time and any necessary improvements will require more time and more money.” Councilwoman Webb believes that FEMA’s timeframe is unacceptable. “In these times, to require the City to engage in an expensive study and costly improvements on an aggressive timetable is egregious,” says Webb.

“We need more time, as well as financial and technical aid from the federal government, not a fast track approach that encourages the inevitable inclusion in the floodplain,” says the Councilwoman. According to her, the additional requirement of flood insurance could seal the fate of the neighborhood already at the tipping point. “Adding insult to injury for the good Citizens of Point Place is the fact that the adjacent property owners were originally assessed for the installation of the Point Place Flood Control System by the Army Corp. of Engineers,” notes Webb.

Webb recommends any citizen with questions about the Floodplain maps attend the meeting. Those who live in Point Place are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting on Monday, April 27th, between 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. According to Webb, this is the only chance residents will have to address this federal agency. Toledo’s District 6 Councilwoman is clear, “if the requirement of flood insurance will adversely impact your family’s bottom line, or if you paid the assessment for the Dike the first time, or if you have a business interest in the neighborhood, or if you just love the community, make plans to come to the train station on the 27th.”

For more information on the preliminary floodplain maps, visits the Lucas County website (

That The Blade copied the press release nearly word-for-word is a compliment to Webb. That they didn't bother to read it and then write their own story could be an indication of their lack of staffing (due to a lack of revenues) or to their own laziness in handling press releases.

The problem is that this happens more than you could ever imagine, which means there is no true 'reporting' when it comes to the 'news' you read.

Why Finkbeiner thinks he can withhold public records

It should come as no surprise to The Blade that Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is withholding a public record detailing the reorganization plans for the Police Department. They even did an editorial on the subject - the same day of the news coverage rather than a day or two later as is their normal practice.

This has been a standard of the Finkbeiner administration for several years now.

Despite a prior reputation of aggressiveness on the issue of public records, The Blade was strangely silent when it came to coverage of citizens who tried repeatedly to gain information from the city.

Whether it was the Erie Street Market, red light cameras (here and here), the number of vacant but funded positions, or more on the Erie Street Market, I and others have tried to get public records from the city - and most of these efforts got little or no coverage from the daily paper.

But I didn't expect them to. You see, The Blade has supported the red light cameras and the Erie Street Market, so why would they provide any coverage of citizens who were questioning the spending or efficacy of these pet projects?

But the police reorganization is important to them, and they were the ones being refused requested documents this time around.

Last night, an emailer to Eye On Toledo took exception to a caller who said Carty was the worst thing that had ever happened to Toledo. He wrote:

"I disagree with the last caller.

Carty has been and is a blight on this city, but he’s not the number one offender. That honor goes to JRB (John Robinson Block, publisher) and the editorial board at the Blade. Carty, if left to his own devises, is not bright enough to cause serious harm. The same can be said of Young Ben (Konop, Lucas County Commissioner). What makes these buffoons dangerous is the support and cover they get from the local paper. The list of problems with Toledo and Lucas County can all be traced back to the agenda pushed by the Blade. Commodore Perry, Hillcrest, Steam Plant, Erie St. Market, the ambulances, tow lots, etc, etc, etc, are all ideas first brought forth and championed by the Blade. Carty and Ben are just the most recent incarnations of the Blade's puppets.

Getting rid of Carty will help, but as long as that building on the Left Side of Superior is still calling the shots, Toledo will never be prosperous."

When the area's (supposed) primary 'watchdog' on public officials ignores the practice of refusing to release, in a timely manner and according to law, records that are public, it emboldens those officials to continue the practice, as they see no negative consequences from doing so.

In their editorial, they state:

"Refusing to release a clearly public record of such import to the citizens of Toledo at this crucial point in the city’s history is yet another example of the arrogance and imperiousness Mr. Finkbeiner has shown over the years that has caused citizens to line up to sign recall petitions."

Where was this opinion on all the other refusals to release public records?

It didn't exist and it was the lack of holding such officials accountable that caused them to think they could continue. Of course, The Blade now finds itself on the receiving end of what has become a pattern of behavior and so they're making it a major news story.

If they'd paid a bit more attention to the difficulties in getting public records in the past, they wouldn't be having this issue today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Konop embarrasses Lucas County

Yesterday I twittered about Warren County wanting to return/not accept stimulus funds for things they did not need. Last night, during Eye On Toledo, we were the first to bring you news of Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop's letter to the Warren County Commissioners asking for those funds.

Here are portions of his original letter:

"I read with dismay but also a sense of opportunity for our residents that your county rejected $373,400 and would like to return another $1.8 million in federal stimulus money. Simply put, if Warren County doesn't want or need the help, Lucas County will take it.
The federal stimulus funds being distributed as part of President Obama's economic recovery plan come from tax dollars paid by our citizens and I am confident they want to see that money return to the community when so offered.
I believe there is no shame in accepting stimulus funds to pay for repairs, improvements, and construction on county infrastructure that would otherwise be put on hold because of a local economy that continues to sour. The Warren County commissioners obviously do not agree with these beliefs, but I am hoping each of you will consider granting Lucas County your unwanted stimulus funds so that we might better meet our community's needs and create jobs.
In the event that you have federal stimulus dollars in your possession that you do not want, please consider forwarding that money onto the citizens in Lucas County.
Thank you for your consideration, and should you decide to award us with the funds you don't want and we need, than I thank you for your generosity

First, the monies Warren County was returning were for transportation equipment and couldn't be used 'to create jobs,' not that government creates jobs in the first place. And the federal dollars can't just be passed around to whomever the original recipient wants. Finally, it wouldn't be the generosity of the Warren County Commissioners (with a capital C) Konop should be thanking, but our children and future generations who will be footing the bill for all this spending.

But Warren County Commissioner C. Michael Kilburn put it best in his response:

Mr. Konop,

I am emailing in reply to your letter received yesterday, April 21, 2009, relative to our refusal to accept stimulus funding for our Warren County Transit Service.

First, let me say that I take exception to your comment that this money comes from tax dollars paid for by our citizens. In fact, this money is NOT tax dollars that our citizens have paid but rather additional debt which will become the responsibility of our future generation to pay. I also question the source of this money. Is it newly printed money from Washington D.C. or more China dollars? Also, what happens when China calls their notes on us?

Secondly, the Warren County Transit Service was being offered funding for the replacement of three vehicles which did not need to be replaced. They were also offering to “give” us funding for new computers and a software program that the grant would fund for the first year but would cost $2400 per month to our taxpayers thereafter. The software that we utilize now works just fine and doesn’t cost us $2400 per month.

I can appreciate your request to receive our share of stimulus funding but that would, in my opinion, defeat the purpose of us not accepting the money. I want our portion of the funding to be utilized to reduce the national debt and to send a message to Washington D.C. that says enough is enough. Stop spending money you don’t have and start being accountable to the taxpayers. God only asked for 10%, why do the politicians in Washington D.C. think they deserve more than 40%?

I respectfully decline your offer to receive our share of the stimulus funds.


C. Michael Kilburn
Warren County Commissioner

Not to be outdone by this smack down to a greedy commissioner seeking even larger handouts, Konop made this statement upon receipt of the response:

"During this period of economic uncertainty and struggle for our citizens, I will not get into a right-wing-radio-fueled, Rush Limbaugh-esque debate about taxes. Now is not the time for political posturing. Our job losses are real. Our home foreclosures are real. Our challenges are real. Despite Mr. Kilburn's objections and rejection, I will continue to fight for every dollar out there to provide the services our taxpayers deserve. Also, I will not apologize for, nor will I stop, pursuing every angle to put our citizens back to work. I thank Mr. Kilburn for his response, but I will continue to seek any stimulus funds Warren County returns or rejects for Lucas County."

If Lucas County wasn't looked down upon by other counties before, this kind of response will ensure it.

To engage in political posturing and then accuse others of it when they were polite enough to respond (in a polite manner) to a ridiculous request is just beyond belief. Konop has embarrassed himself and Lucas County in this matter, no matter how much he wants to 'posture' otherwise.

The debate is all about taxes - and Konop knows it. These funds are provided based upon But he cannot engage in such a debate from a logical or reasoned position, because he knows he'd lose the argument, so he throws around insults and distractions, thinking that getting his name in the paper will make people want to vote for him for mayor.

As many of my callers said tonight, he's Carty Finkbeiner - only younger.

Quotes of the Day

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...

[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers...

And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another ]... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery...

And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression

~ Thomas Jefferson

"The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations."

~ Adam Smith

Don't be fooled by Earth Day

Today is 'Earth Day,' in case you've missed the nearly constant references to the event.

And for those of you who've managed to remain oblivious to the newest attempt at a holiday, this is a day created by environmental leftists to help 'raise awareness' of how evil humans are and to promote everything from the elimination of coal to cap-and-tax legislation to the end of 'climate change.'

Yes, this is a political movement, with much of their focus on brainwashing children into believing that doom and gloom awaits them should the temperature of the earth warm and/or cool. (And it appears that it doesn't really matter whether it's 'warming' or 'cooling' so long as they are browbeaten into adopting the agenda.) And it's apparently working.

But it's not just schools - it's in your churches as well, where they hope to twist Biblical teachings to care for the natural resources given to us by God into more of a worship of those same resources.

Now, being a conservative, I'm all for conservation and wise use of the planet, but I wouldn't mind a few degrees of warmth in Toledo. I just know that these leftist groups are trying to shove down our throats, through the force of government and indoctrination of our children, alternatives the free market doesn't support - and for good cause. I also reject bad science based upon fear and emotion rather than facts, especially when so many of their claims, like the decline of polar bears, have been proven false. (In fact, the population of polar bears is almost twice what is was four decades ago.)

And the earth goes through cyclical changes in temperatures no matter what we, as humans, do. The proof is right in our own back yard with glacial groves on the Lake Erie Islands, along with the Little Climatic Optimum followed by the Little Ice Age.

We all need to resist this political effort and instead insist upon science and facts - not upon fear as a motivator for more government, more taxes and other people telling us how to live our lives. We should certainly conserve our resources, but that does not mean that we do so at an even greater cost to ourselves and our children.

As they did with their Human Achievement Hour in response to Earth Hour, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has issued a press release and video to remind us that People Make Earth Day Better.

“While Earth Day has previously focused on traditional concerns like pollution and recycling, we think it’s also a perfect time to think about the challenges human beings themselves face around the world – like hunger, disease and poverty – and the many ways human ingenuity has helped drive them back,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Director of New Media Richard Morrison.

The video in particular highlights some of the life-saving and life-fulfilling technologies that have been criticized in the past for being environmentally incorrect. Things like affordable energy from fossil fuels, safe, convenient bottled water and inexpensive jet travel have repeatedly roused the ire of the environmental activist community. All too often, however, the alleged environmental crimes of these products and technologies are presented with little consideration of the positive benefits they provide.

“From pesticides that have saved millions from dying of malaria to genetically modified foods that have saved millions from dying of starvation, the video reminds us that when we worry about environmental issues, we shouldn’t forget the disastrous effects of banning useful technologies,” said Morrison.

CEI isn't the only entity thinking about the issue from a realistic perspective. My friend Bob (CAI-54) sent me this email yesterday:

While some granola crunchers may have their tree-hug-in tomorrow, I’d like to invite you to join us in the celebrations tomorrow of “Cylinder Appreciation Index” Day.

It is time to pay our respects to all the advances in modern society made possible by the invention of the internal combustion engine. Without a doubt, the most significant advancement in mankind since Velveeta.

To honor this day, one is to total all of the cylinders in every internal combustion engine within the household. The often used measure of success is a person’s CAI should meet or surpass their age.

In the event of a shortage, the individual should report to their nearest Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc and purchase the required number of gas powered lawn tools as to see them in good CAI standing. In the event of larger differentials, a trip to the local Hummer dealership is in order. For those of meager CAI’s, a twin-engine boat is the quickest way to reach the desired CAI.

We hope you will join us tomorrow to celebrate CYLINDER APPRECIATION INDEX DAY!!!

While the CAI is a humorous approach, this is not really a funny matter. The leftists/statists who promote Earth Day have found an innocuous way to make their agenda seem like a good thing, little by little. Really, who doesn't want to help conserve the planet and the resources it offers us? What's so bad about spending one day thinking about things we can do to recycle?

It just doesn't stop with these small good-intentioned efforts. The Earth Day Network believes that if you do not do these things voluntarily, you should be forced to by government. That's why the orange banner across the top of their website says "Call the Capitol switchboard at 202 224-3121 and tell your member of Congress to support the Markey climate bill."

Toledo already has some of the highest utility bills, and this legislation will only make them higher. Yeah - I want to increase my energy costs so a bunch of Congressional friends can make a fortune with taxpayer subsidies for technology that the free market knows is not profitable. That's a great way to celebrate Earth Day!

So remember these points when you hear or read about Earth Day - and be as skeptical of their claims as you are a politician's.

SIDE NOTE: Why are these groups in our schools in the first place? And shouldn't we 'Save the Humans!' instead? Or maybe we could save the environment for a profit?

Better yet, you can read a former president's warning against ecological extremism (and the Department of Homeland Security thinks right-wing thinkers are a threat?) or this reminder that richer countries have better environments.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toledo spending - a lesson NOT learned

About a year ago, I looked at the attendance at our city pools, as the city was planning on expending tax dollars for them in 2008.

From that post:

Last year, the pools served 25,151 entrants. The city did not keep track of how many of those 'entrants' were the same individual. They also charged $1 for entry.

In 2007, there were six pools open (one was a splash pad) compared to the 12 facilities opened in 2006. Despite the increased attendance at two of the pools, overall attendance at the six facilities declined 18.5% from 30,841 to 25,151.
As these numbers are visits and not visitors, it's hard to estimate just how important this cost is to the general public. For sake of argument, let's estimate that individuals likely to use the pool facilities will do so five times during the season. This seems a reasonable estimate considering the number of days the pools are open.

Using this assumption, the pools had about 5,000 unique visitors. The 2006 Census data shows that there are 74,896 children (under 18 years of age) in Toledo. Even if every visitor to the pools was a child, we would be serving less than 7% of the kids in the city. If we consider total population, those estimated 5,000 unique visitors represent less than 2% of the population.

Yet the city is planning to spend about $600,000 for this - which is about $120 per person served. It would be cheaper to buy every kid in the city a membership to the Boys and Girls Club ($5 per year for 16-18 year olds, but only $3 for 7-15 year olds) which would give them access to ALL activities, not just the pools.

I've just received the 2008 attendance information from the city: 23,675. That's a 6% decrease over last year - and remember that 2007 attendance was down 18.5% over 2006. And those numbers are visits, not unique individuals.

Using the same logic as before, if each person visited the pool five times in the season, then we're serving about 4,735 citizens. According to the 2007 Census data for Toledo, there are 73,095 residents under the age of 18. So if every person who visited the pool was under 18, which is certainly not a given, we're only serving 6% of the youth population. Since children did not always go without an adult, when you calculate the number served based upon the total city population, you'll see we are serving 1.6% of Toledoans. And that's using the older, smaller population number - not the increased population number Mayor Carty Finkbeiner worked so hard to get increased.

The total cost for 2008 for the pools, according to the 2009 Toledo budget was $219,234.44. Total revenue was $19,297.50, though the budgeted amount was $32,320.00, a loss of $13,022.50 or 40%. (With results like this is it any wonder the city had a 2008 deficit?)

So we spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars to make sure that 1.6% of the population had a 'service' and we ended 2008 with either an $8 million or $16 million deficit, depending on what city administrator you ask...

Pools are NOT a necessity, but the 'quality of life' issue is always raised as an excuse for such non-essential expenditures. So did this expenditure enhance YOUR quality of life? And was this expenditure more important than the police and fire classes we did NOT have as a result of last year's deficit?

Do you think City Council has learned the lesson from last year? Or will they again fund such non-essentials like pools, and ice rinks and athletic programs while laying off police officers and charging us for fire equipment used during a response?

Southern cities like Charleston, SC, and Memphis, TN are looking better all the time.

Lest you think this really doesn't impact you, remember that the city is looking to 'enhance revenue' by increasing the trash taxes. The decrease in police and the new fees for fire response will directly impact your insurance rates, driving them up. Combine that with the decrease in population and your home values will continue to decline. The spending by the Mayor and City Council - and the use of precious and limited tax dollars for non-essentials - impacts every single person in Toledo.

What are you willing to do about it?

Quotes of the Day

As a Republican in a Democrat county, I often drew inspiration from this quote from Sam Adams, which I kept in the corner of a photo of my husband and me:

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in peoples' minds." ~ Samuel Adams

I think it goes with this one from John Adams:

"But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution." ~ John Adams

Soros Watch

There has long been talk among conservatives and right-leaning bloggers about how effective the left is at targeting specific individuals and groups who oppose their goals or ideas.

The discussion is not about having a right-type of character assassination, which is the main purpose of the left, but about providing information that is so lacking in the main stream media that used to be the watch dog on all matters.

The Center for Union Facts has their website, Muth, a long-time favorite of mine, has been hosting The Union Label which is run by another friend, Eric Odom. Both these websites have provided facts and postings that are ignored by the media.

But there aren't a lot of sites that focus on the individuals who fund the activities of the left, but that's beginning to change. is now up and running:

" is a project of Citizen Outreach, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, non-partisan organization established for the purpose of grassroots advocacy at the federal, state and local levels. Citizen Outreach supports free-market principles both in the United States and abroad.

The American billionaire George Soros has been amassing his fortune at the expense of foreign economies. Soros is widely known as the sly investor who broke the Bank of England in 1992; he has reaped billions of dollars by manipulating the currencies of developing nations, including Malaysia, Thailand, and, most recently, Hungary. As a result of these dubious dealings, his net worth totals more than most developing countries’ GDPs; still, he continues to reap financial rewards from their fragile banking systems.

The laundry list of his shady activities reads like a rap sheet. By discouraging foreign direct investment, engaging in insider trading, short-selling bank stocks, and speculating against foreign currency, George Soros has single-handedly arrested the economic growth of many developing countries.

When Soros and his investment fund aren’t directly attacking foreign capital markets, he’s recruiting NGOs to execute public misinformation campaigns against foreign investment in developing economies. In one instance, Soros along with a cabal of activists made a show of lobbying for aid to foreign governments. With the public distracted by Soros’ stunt, his investment fund stealthily focuses its efforts on bankrupting their financial markets.

As a result of this racket, developing countries in Africa and Asia have slammed the door on would-be investors, hindering their ability to witness just how beneficial foreign investments can be to their economic prosperity.

It’s time to tear down the facade.

Citizen Outreach is calling on George Soros to stop exploiting the delicate financial situation of developing countries and reaping rewards from their fledgling banks and reserves. He must stop hiding behind the veil of philanthropy while pursuing a self-seeking agenda. Simply put, George Soros must give up his crusade against the poor."

I hope you'll add these sites to your regular reading list.

NOTE - August, 2010: There have been quite a number of hits on this particular post recently as more people do searches on George Soros. Unfortunately, SorosWatch is no longer active. I've contacted Chuck Muth, the originator of the page, and informed him of the growing interest. He said he'd look into re-activiting the website after November's election.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Calling it 'capitalism' doesn't make it so

In a recent New York Times column, Richard W. Stevenson wrote:

In a series of comments in recent weeks, Mr. Obama has begun to sketch a vision of where he would like to drive the economy once this crisis is past. His goals include diminishing the consumerism that has long been the main source of growth in the United States, and encouraging more savings and investment. He would redistribute wealth toward the middle class and make the rest of the world less dependent on the American market for its prosperity. And he would seek a consensus recognizing that an activist government is an acceptable and necessary partner for a stable, market-based economy.

The article, 'Redefining Capitalism After the Fall,' reminds me of George Orwell's 1984 wherein the definition and meaning of words are modified by government. Just like the old joke: "How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg? Four - calling it a leg doesn't make it so." If you take socialist-type practices and call them capitalism, it doesn't mean it's capitalism.

But let's look at what Pres. Obama has suggested.

"His goals include diminishing the consumerism that has long been the main source of growth in the United States, and encouraging more savings and investment."

There's a lot to be said for encouraging individuals to save and invest. However, such an approach is completely contrary to what government has done. Congress, under both Presidents Bush and Obama, has taken various steps to encourage spending - everything from direct 'stimulus' checks (which didn't 'stimulate' the economy) to the latest 'stimulus bill' which borrows against future generations in order to spend now.

How do you say people should save and invest when you are encouraging them to do the exact opposite? And if saving and investing is good in the long term, why are we not encouraging such activity now? How can people (or government) borrow now, incur huge debt and then expect to have any money left over to save in the future?

"He would redistribute wealth toward the middle class..."

Well of course he would. He said exactly that to Joe the Plumber. The problem with this scenario is, as Margaret Thatcher said, eventually you run out of other people's money. Under such schemes, the threshold of whose wealth is 'redistributed' continually goes down, meaning that those 'middle class' people who think they're going to be getting someone else's wealth find themselves classified as 'wealthy.'

As it is, Obama has said that 'rich' starts at earnings of $250,000. According to the most recent data from the IRS (2006), the top 10% of filers, those earning more than $108,904, paid more than 70 percent of all taxes. If you have two union members in a household working overtime, it is very likely they earn enough to put them into the top 10%. If the top 10% are paying 70% of all taxes, that means that 90% of the people are paying only 30% of the bill. How much more does wealth need to be redistributed?

Obama also wants to:

"...make the rest of the world less dependent on the American market for its prosperity."

While I certainly want other nations to be economically successful, I still want them to depend upon the American market. We live in a global economy and I want other nations to depend upon the American market. I want the United States to be in the driver's seat when it comes to the economy. I want our citizens to be the client the world's businesses want to satisfy. But the way to do that is through capitalism - not through a mandated version of what government thinks we want or need.

Finally, Obama says he:

"...would seek a consensus recognizing that an activist government is an acceptable and necessary partner for a stable, market-based economy."

Well that's not capitalism, which is precisely the point. The last thing our founders had in mind for this nation was an 'activist' government. They saw the results of 'activist government' and fought a revolution in order to free of us from such oversight.

Just look at the words: 'activist government' and 'market-based economy.' If government is determining the economy, it cannot be 'market-based.' Either the market determines the economy or government does. And you cannot redefine capitalism to remove the market-based aspect and replace it with government-based and still have 'capitalism.' Socialism or fascism, maybe, but not capitalism.

Leftist like to say that the so-called 'failure' of the economy is a result of our capitalism, failing to realize that the U.S. has moved so far from a free-market economy due to government interference, regulations, subsidies, support, etc. It isn't the failure of a free market that brought us to today's economy, it is the idea, practiced in many areas, that government can dictate to that free-market and still have a free market. If government hadn't mandated loans to individuals not determined, under normal circumstances, to be qualified, do you really think the burst of the housing bubble would have been so severe? When you order banks to consider unemployment insurance payments as income, is it any wonder that people who didn't have a job had trouble making their loan payments?

Of course, leftists also believe that the solution to problems government created is...more government.

Additionally, capitalism includes the possibility and consequences of failure - something government has now determined to prevent, via bailouts, loans and the 'too big to fail' concept. That's not capitalism, either, as capitalism requires reward commensurate with risk. If I risk nothing because I have a government willing to bail me out, I'm likely to take on riskier propositions. The situation becomes worse as a result of government guarantees against suffering the consequences of severe risk, i.e. failure.

Of course, the 'government' really isn't doing this. We, the taxpayers are - those same taxpayers who wouldn't invest their own personal funds in such endeavors are doing so, through taxation and distribution by government, after the failure has been achieved.

Again, that's not capitalism and calling such doesn't make it true.

It is these types of goals and ideas that have so many Americans worried and concerned over the future of their nation. While we're not a socialist country, yet, we see signs that we are moving in that direction and when Pres. Obama says those are his goals, is it any wonder every day citizens took to the streets to protest such aims at the Tea Parties?

For more on the free market, I highly suggest this article from the Foundation for Economic Education.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ridiculing Tea Parties is popular, but isn't working

Tom Blumer at Bizzy Blog had a post Friday with a terrific chart showing how the first six months of this fiscal year compares to the same period last year.

The revenue is down 16%, the expenditures are up 33% and the deficit is up 206%.

As Tom says:

"If spending continues at the rate seen during this year’s first six months, the government will exceed last year’s outlays on July 6.

There’s little reason to believe the spending spree will slow down."

Today's Blade editorial asks where was all the angst from Tax Day Tea Party attendees when the Bush administration was spending money? Apparently, they missed the fact that Democrats gained control specifically because conservatives became disillusioned with our 'leaders' spending habits.

The Tea Parties weren't the manifestation of a new, suddenly-found anger over spending - that anger and frustration with elected officials and their decisions has been growing for a long time, but with the Obama administration - and more specifically Congress - taking us over the deep end, citizens reached the tipping point.

Leftists are trying to ridicule and denigrate not only the sentiment of the Tea Parties, but the participants as well. And their own anger is rising because it's not working.

As Ann Coulter explained:

"I had no idea how important this week's nationwide anti-tax tea parties were until hearing liberals denounce them with such ferocity."

The Tea Parties are based upon principles - our country's and our citizen's. Just like when you attempt to make fun of a person's religious beliefs, trying to belittle the principles of life, liberty and property will not work. It will only make Tea Party protesters more resolute in their support of and admonition for those principles.

The Blade also gets it wrong in terms of the idea of 'taxation without representation.' Yes, that is the familiar phrase we all associate with the original Boston Tea Party - and the Blade tries to make the point that we have representation, even if we don't like the decisions such representatives are making on our behalf. Funny, I don't remember this logic being employed against the leftists who cried that 'Bush wasn't THEIR president.'

But Leslie Carbone has a more comprehensive explanation of that original event, explaining:

"The financial cost of the tax was not the issue inflaming the colonists. The true issue was the moral question of whether or not Britain had the right to tax the colonists at all without their consent.(emphasis added)
Americans today face similar tyranny. We made it crystal clear that we do not consent to the ersatz financial palliatives offerred in the form of the bank bail-out, the auto bail-out, and the so-called stimulus. Government made it clear that it doesn't care whether we consent or not, and blew billions of dollars on each of these outrages, billions that we don't have, meaning that the money has been borrowed from Americans yet unborn, the ultimate taxation without representation.

Just as it did in the middle of the 18th century, popular resistance to this kind of tyranny is building. And some of it is finding expression in "tea parties" across the nation."

And the fear of these protesters in light of Bizzy Blog's chart is well-founded.

So go ahead and laugh at us and call us names. You can ridicule us and say that we're not a socialist nation.

Our reply will be 'not yet - and we're going to do all we can to prevent us from getting to that point.'

And as parents say to their children when they've gotten out of line, "someday you'll thank us for this."

UPDATE: I strongly recommend this column from Lorie Byrd, especially the last several paragraphs about 'what we learned.'

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

Considering the fantastic weather and all the work that needs to be done in my yard, I thought this an apt quote for the day, especially coming from one of my favorite founding fathers:

"What a glorious morning this is!"

~ Samuel Adams to John Hancock at the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, 19 April 1775

Friday, April 17, 2009

Toledo issues layoff notices

This just in via email from Jason Webber:

Friday, April 17, 2009

City of Toledo Distributes Layoff Notices

Today at 3 p.m., Mayor Finkbeiner released the following statement:

"These are not steps I wish to take, but they are nonetheless necessary to balance the City of Toledo’s budget. Contract negotiations will continue, but until our Union’s bargaining units recognize the need for concessions and shared sacrifice, these announced layoffs will continue as planned:

· 142 General Fund employees, which are ALL non-safety employees, paid 100% by the General Fund, effective May 15, 2009. While we do not expect the entire 142 to be laid off, the final number will be substantial and likely involve a minimum of 50% of our General Fund workforce. This will significantly impact many aspects of our General Fund Operations.

· 75 Police Officers in addition to the 75 previously notified, effective May 1, 2009.

· 17 Police Department Civilians, effective May 15, 2009.

· 6 Fire Command Officers will be reassigned to line duty, effective immediately.

If action is taken by Council to increase revenue, and all Unions grant concessions, the number of layoffs can be reduced.

Effective the week of May 4, all General Fund Executive Exempt employees will begin a 32-hour workweek, which amounts to a 20% pay cut. Many City of Toledo departments will abide by a Monday - Thursday operating schedule, with the exception of Public Safety, Refuse, and Public Utilities.

This is a time for leadership, and I ask our Union leaders to accept the challenge of resolving this fiscal crisis.

The layoffs can be significantly reduced. I am again respectfully appealing to our Union leaders and City Council to join with us in reducing the number of layoffs through revenue enhancements and across-the-board payroll reductions."

Jason Webber
City of Toledo
Public Information Officer
Office: 419-245-1016
Cell: 734-731-1114

"Toledo ranks third Top Ten Metro Area in America."
- Site Selection Magazine, March 2009

The first test for Toledo Tea Party attendees

Yesterday we learned that the City of Toledo plans to lay off up to 350 employees, including 150 police officers. They expect that 75 of those officers will, however, work through the summer because they've gotten permission to divert a federal grant, originally to intended to pay for equipment, to cover the cost of those officers.

The city is facing a $27.7 million deficit and they have made some cuts and modifications which have reduced that to $20 million. Elected officials have repeatedly said that they've cut everywhere they possibly can.

However, at last week's council meeting, they tabled a motion to cut out the $457,000 athletic program. They also still plan to open a pool this summer.

This is INSANE!!!!

The role of government is to provide the protection for life and property - not to entertain us. To say that they have to lay off police officers when they are planning to fund sports programs this summer makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever.

And these types of decisions are part of the reason why so many people believe their government is out of control - and why they expressed their frustrations on Tax Day at the Tea Parties.

Tea Party attendees have wondered, "what next?" Well - here is your first test.

Are you going to let Toledo politicians fund athletic programs instead of police officers? Are you going to allow sports to be a priority over your safety?

You need to act. Call or email them today and insist that the basic, core functions of government be provided before the non-essentials.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner: 419-245-1001

Toledo City Council: 419-245-1050

If you are not a resident of Toledo, but you either work in the city, travel through the city, have friends or relatives in the city, or just care about the city, you have every right to call and express your opinion. Any time that government forgoes its basic responsibilities, citizens need to speak out.

Here's the thing to remember: the reason Council didn't cut out the athletic programs is because 50 - yes, 50 - people showed up and begged them not to. If 20 times that number (the people who attended Toledo's Tea Party) pick up the phone and call, they will listen.

Better yet, if every TDTP attendee also gets three other people to call, they will certainly listen. If they get so many calls it overwhelms the phone system, they will have no choice but to listen.

You cannot just attend a protest, wave a few signs and expect that our elected officials will change their ways. You have to be vigilant in ensuring that they are constantly reminded what the priorities should be.

This is the first test. Will we pass?

We talked about this last night on Eye On Toledo, in case you missed it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking: Mayor recall petitions are okay

This just in from the WSPD newsroom:

Date: April 15, 2009

To: Linda Howe, Director, Lucas County Board of Elections

From: Gerald E. Dendinger, Clerk of Council

Subject: Mayor Recall Petitions

Pursuant to the recent attention of perceived defects in the petitions submitted on April 9, 2009 for the removal of the Mayor by recall, I have consulted with our legal counsel Adam W. Loukx, Acting Director of Law, and with outside legal counsel Donald McTigue. Both have given the same opinion.

I hereby determine that the petitions are not insufficient due to lack of Ohio R.C. 3501.38(J) language.

Please notify me by April 19, 2009 if the petition has been signed by at least 25% of the electors voting at the last regular City election for Mayor. I will make a final determination of sufficiency at that time.


With this ruling, the county by the Board of Elections will continue and if there are the appropriate number of signatures from registered Toledo voters, Dendinger will decide if all conditions have been met for the recall to go forward.

UPDATED: Toledo Tea Party a huge success

(UPDATED: Links to videos of the Tea Party are added as they are available)

The Tax Day Tea Party at International Park was well-attended with three law enforcement officers estimating the crowd at about 1,000.

The representative from the NRA and former Toledo Police Chief Jack Smith were the obvious favorites of the crowd. The signs were great and several parents had their children with them - home schooled kids, as one mom said, so she could control their education - not the government.

The videos, when uploaded will show you the crowd, the signs and the speeches. My sincerest thanks and major kudos to Tricia Lyons who, with some other volunteers, organized the Tea Party - and congratulations to them for their outstanding event!

As this is my first time doing video, my apologies for any shakiness - it was actually cold and rainy and my hands were like ice...additionally, I was not able to record all the speakers due to the one-hour capacity of my recorder, so I focused on the citizens and not the elected officials. Additionally, I had to replace the batteries during one speaker and then delete the set-up video because I was running out of space, so there are a couple of stops where I missed a bit of the commentary. Did I mention that this is my first time doing video? There are other videos available on and here are pictures from today's event.

When the videos finish uploading, they will be available below:

The introduction to the event from MC Jeff Webber, founder of Network 1776, with the National Anthem led by Anna Allegrini and then the Pledge of Allegiance

Speakers: MC Jeff Webber and State Senator Kevin Coughlin

Speakers: Michael Watson and Lee Repass - concerned citizens

Speakers: Carol Greenberg - NRA member (part 1)

Speakers: Carol Greenberg - NRA member (part 2), local attorney Ryan Crozier, former Toledo Police Chief Jack Smith (part 1)

Speakers: former Toledo Police Chief Jack Smith (part 2)

Speakers: John Adams

(note: the videos are taking longer than I expected to upload so check back as I'll link them as soon as they are up.)

Blade bias - #7

While we are no longer surprised, in any way whatsoever, by the bias shown in our local newspaper, The Blade, I will continue to point it out - hoping that either you will learn to recognize it yourself, or that they will stop doing it. I'm more confident of the former than the latter.

But with so many prior posts on the issue, I've had to start numbering them.

Today's story on the indictment of several Lucas County Sheriff employees, including Sheriff James Telb, is the third version of the article since the news broke yesterday.

Despite mentioning his age (70) and how many years he's served in elected office (25), the article does not mention his party affiliation - which is Democrat, by the way.

Contrast that how often the party affiliation is used in any other story and you'll see that their omission on this one is glaring, particularly in light of the fact that this is a 'scandal' story about a Democrat. Would a Republican have been spared the party affiliation?

While they do have a side bar about his lack of campaign opponents, it's on page 9 and the note on the front page referencing the additional information only says "James Telb's first campaign for public office was in 1984. Page 9."

That side bar does give his party affiliation, but there is no reason to exclude it on the front page main story about the incident.

This is what we've all come to expect from our paper. But just because we can anticipate it does not mean that we have to tolerate it without comment.

UPDATE: This issue is now a story at NewsBusters, thanks to fellow Ohio blogger Tom Blumer at Bizzy Blog.

Why the Tax Day Tea Party is important

As an elected official for 13 years, I took some stands on government spending and taxation that were certainly not popular.

I opposed spending tax dollars for 'community funding,' the politically-worded name for county commissioners to make charitable donations with your money. For taking such a position, I was called stingy, cruel, mean, heartless - and those are the adjectives I can print. My response, of course, was that I was very much in favor of supporting charitable organizations - I just preferred to do it with my own money - not someone else's.

In a discussion with a reporter in 2004, I was asked about long-term goals and my response was that I wanted to reduce the county sales tax. I said that if Lucas County were ever going to achieve such a goal, we needed to start now discussing how it could be done - and then planning accordingly.

The Blade editorial response (Sunday, July 11, 2004) was this:

LUCAS County Commissioner Maggie Thurber is not up for re-election this year, so she must have a lot of free time on her hands. That's a charitable view of her suggestion that the county sales tax can be cut three to five years down the road - at a time when a $7 million deficit is staring county officials in the face for next year.

...but it looks very much as if Commissioner Thurber has purposefully tossed a political bomb into the county budget process.

Ms. Thurber claimed to have no specific cuts in mind. She said: "If we sat down and told all the county elected officials that over the next three years we're going to try to cut county government, so we can cut our sales tax , I think we could do that." She apparently is parroting the attractive but disingenuous Republican Party line that taxes - all taxes - should be cut, regardless of the economic circumstances or the consequences for county services.


So why is she tossing out politically explosive suggestions without specifying how much of the county's 1.25 percent sales tax she wants to cut and what services she would cut as a result?

Lopping off the 0.25 percent portion added by commissioners in 1993 would result in a revenue loss to the county of $13.4 million a year. The bulk of that money, $9 million, pays for emergency medical service, with the rest going for such safety-related items as extra sheriff's deputies, court security, and a courthouse computer system. If that's what Ms. Thurber wants to cut, she should say so. While we agree that economy in government should always be in the minds of public officials, tax -cut showboating is a playground for the politically idle, who take no responsibility for ensuring that needed services are delivered to real people. Economy in government is rarely, if ever, achieved by waving a magic wand over the budget.

Ms. Thurber 's two colleagues on the county board made it clear they do not take such a light-hearted view of the budget situation. Harry Barlos, board president, said that a sales tax cut would not be fiscally prudent. "Any discussion of lowering taxes is totally premature," he commented...

Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, a Democrat, also took a dim view of tax -cut talk, pointing out that she had voted against the 2004 budget because she thought it did not provide enough money for the sheriff and prosecutor's office.


Ms. Thurber 's tax -cut talk is an air-headed trial balloon. Talk is cheap, but talk alone won't bring about cheaper government.

Note the terms and phrases: too much free time, political bomb, parroting, disingenuous, politically explosive, no specifics, showboating, politically idle, no responsibility, magic wand, not fiscally prudent, premature, air-headed.

As a result of that editorial and the cover it gave my fellow elected officials, no one would even consider having a discussion about how to lower the tax rate in the county. Since the paper was against it, no elected official had to worry about seriously contemplating the idea.

But - as was often the case with positions I took - I got a lot of phone calls telling me that I was right about the sales tax. When I asked those callers if they would take a stand with me, they all said no. They wouldn't go up against The Blade and didn't want to risk their businesses or reputations on the issue.

This was very common and it wasn't just the sales tax idea. The conservative positions I advocated had considerable support throughout the community - but not public support. And the lack of public support meant that other elected officials did not have to take those positions seriously - they could continue to go along as they always had because they did not believe the public opposed them.

Since leaving office, I have seen what I call 'pockets of change.' These are small groups of people who come together for an issue or idea and pressure elected officials to act. One will pop up here or there, and address an issue. I'm not talking about the Community Development Corporations (CDCs) or other organizations - I'm talking regular citizens, like Block Watch groups or the supporters of the Three For Change slate of candidates for Toledo School Board. They are non-partisan (or bi-partisan, depending on your preference) and they are focused on a goal that is not related to a certain political party or even money.

And now there is the Tax Day Tea Party. Regular citizens who are tired of the interference and cost of government - and the elected officials who ignore them - are coming together to show that frustration.

Contrary to the leftist spin, these individuals are not being 'told' to do this by any particular group or organization or party. Many of them have never been involved in political activity and they realize that if they are to have the government they want, they must be.

Some have questioned what a rally/protest will accomplish. Will it send the desired message to those in charge? I don't know - that will depend on whether or not those in charge actually LISTEN to what the people are saying.

But it will be successful if two things happen:

1) People will attend and realize they are not alone. As a result, they will be more likely to express their opinions. No one wants to be the 'lone voice crying in the wilderness' and sometimes, all it takes is to know that others feel the same way you do. As the participants look around and see their neighbors who share their ideas about how government should work, they will realize that those ideas are truly mainstream and not an aberration. That, in and of itself, can be enough to keep them engaged in the processes and providing the direction to our employees in government that is so desperately needed.

2) They use the Tea Party as a first step. Most Tea Parties will have volunteers collecting contact information for future activities. Participants need to be willing to share that information and, when contacted on an issue, act. While I do not expect that every person who attends will do so, if some allow themselves to be contacted and then actually act the next time an issue arises, it will be more participation in the past - and that will be good.

As I look back on my years in public office, I know I certainly would have listened to such a crowd...and I can only imagine what could have been if such a party had been held to support just the one idea of lowering the county sales tax.

I'll see you all at International Park at 11:30 today!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Toledo's proposed Capital Improvements Budget

Today city council has a new item from the administration on the agenda - the 2009-2013 Proposed Capital Improvements (CIP) Budget.

Since it's not been published anywhere, I thought you'd like to see how the mayor has suggested spending your tax dollars.

Here is the spreadsheet.

(Cross posted on my Eye On Toledo blog page)

Stop Spending Our Future

I received this email from Americans For Prosperity. They've teamed up with Heritage Foundation and will be offering $5,000 in prizes identified below:

I wanted to give you all a heads up about the Stop Spending Our Future project that Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Heritage Foundation have teamed up on. In addition to four contests with $5,000 in prizes, we have a few videos that should provide engaging content for your blogs and websites.

Make a Video| What's your biggest frustration about the government's appetite for more spending in the midst of the tough economic climate? The top 5 submissions will each receive a prize in the amount of $500.

Write a Letter| Explain how you feel about the debt via a letter that your child, grandchild, or great-grandchild will open 30 years from now? The top 5 submissions will each receive a prize in the amount of $250.

Give It a Name| Convey the threat of government over-spending and/or excessive debt using 10 words or less. The single best idea-as voted on by visitors to this website-will receive $250 and be the basis for a new video.

Spread the Word| Capture the stories of five people at one of the Taxpayer Tea Parties happening all over the nation on Tax Day, April 15. The person that captures the best testimonial will receive $1,000.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer recently said that “the American people don’t really care” about the wasteful pork-barrel spending that is sinking us dangerously into debt, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has told critics to "get a life!”

It’s time to send a message to Senators Schumer and Reid that enough is enough! American citizens DO care, we DO have lives and families, and we’re fed up with policies that mortgage our futures and rob us of our economic liberties.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Heritage Foundation have launched a joint project called Stop Spending Our Future to provide average Americans with the opportunity to speak up and make their voices heard over the widespread outrage to record-breaking debt spending.

Visit to speak up, make a difference, and maybe even stimulate your own economy by participating in one of our four contests with $5,000 in prize money.

As a result of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid so-called “stimulus,” your portion of the national debt increased by $9,400. All three have stated that they want the money spent as quickly as possible; creating a situation that is ripe for waste, fraud and abuse.

The government has already pledged more than $3.8 trillion in its attempt to solve this economic crisis, that’s more than the cost of World War II. As though that’s not enough, the government has committed to spend trillions more over the next few years, which will bring the grand total to a staggering $11.6 trillion in new spending. That’s more than 26 times the size of the New Deal.

We will not stop this spending spree with policy wonks and talking heads. It takes average Americans – just like you – to tell the stories of how this record spending and erosion of individual economic liberty will impact you, your family, and your children’s future.

Visit and speak out!

Quotes in honor of the Tea Parties

As we prepare for tomorrow's Tax Day Tea Parties, I thought these quotes from President Ronald Reagan particularly relevant:

"Are you entitled to the fruits of your labor or does government have some presumptive right to spend and spend and spend?"

"Government does not tax to get the money it needs; government always finds a need for the money it gets."

"Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? ... Today in our country the tax collector's share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp."

Also, for a perspective on WHY there are hundreds of Tea Parties, I recommend this post from my friend and author, Leslie Carbone.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tax Day Tea Parties in our area

With the number of Tea Parties expanding, I wanted to be sure that anyone who needs to know where to go to find one, has a good link.

Ohio Tax Day Tea Parties

Michigan Tax Day Tea Parties

Happy Tax Freedom Day!!!

According to the Tax Foundation, today is Tax Freedom Day!'ve now earned enough to pay all your taxes. From here on in, you're working for yourself - not government.

From their website:

Tax Freedom Day is calculated by dividing the official government tally of all taxes collected in each year by the official government tally of all income earned in each year. Governments—federal, state and local—took 30.4% of income in 1980; 30.4% in 1990; 33.6% in 2000; and so on. This percentage is what is properly called the "nation's total tax burden." We then use the historical trend and the most recent economic data to make a projection of what the tax burden will be in the current year.

Does Tax Freedom Day measure the "average" American tax burden?
Yes. The mathematical average of any group is found by adding up all the values and dividing by the number of values. Tax Freedom Day totals up tax collections and divides by national income. The result is the average tax burden for the U.S. economy as a whole. Including high-income taxpayers tends to increase the average tax burden—just as including low-income taxpayers decreases it. To be an objective mathematical average, Tax Freedom Day must include all taxpayers.

Thoughts on garbage collection

One of the things I've always liked about living in Point Place was our garbage collection.

I know - that sounds very strange - and it even looks strange as I write it ... but it's true.

The Point is a great place in the summer and living on the water means you have lots of guests on the weekends. More guests means more garbage/recyclables, naturally. Our garbage collection (prior to this year) was always on Mondays. Whether by accident or design, it meant that all our weekend trash was gone Monday morning - with nothing to sit and stew during a long, warm week.

I often wondered how people in other parts of the city managed this...and did other areas have the amount of raccoons and opossums that loved such appetizing smells?

But the city, in an effort to save money - for which I commend them, has stopped the overtime on weekends that used to make up for no pickup on weekday holidays. While I thought their color-coded system was a bit more complicated than it needed to be (and what if you're color blind?), a bit of inconvenience for me to keep track of my scheduled day is a small price to pay for the tax dollar savings it is giving us.

But I was just thinking about our garbage day now being Friday as a result of the Good Friday holiday and the move-a-day schedule.

And then I realized that our next holiday, Memorial Day, will leap us over to Mondays again. And that we'll be on Mondays until the Fourth of July. Even after Labor Day, the pickup will be Tuesdays, which isn't so bad for our weekend garbage.

So our higher amounts of trash for the summer won't sit in our cans all week long - and I won't have to worry about the critters and making sure there is a stretch cord over the tops so they don't lift them up...

Thank heaven for small favors.

Quote of the Day

While I clean up after our Easter activities, I wanted to share this with you.

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

I am continually amazed at how wise our Founding Fathers were. They gave us a form of government that has lasted successfully for centuries and gave us both the representation and checks and balances necessary to that success. While I (and many others) believe our government today is a far cry from what they intended, it's still the best one around.

I also wonder if we have these types of individuals in our midst today. Who do you know that you think would be comparable to our founders?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why did Toledo income tax decline 'shock' administrators

Today's paper has an interesting article attempting to address the huge budget deficit that officials claim has caught them off-guard.

The story praises two professors from The University of Toledo who were hired to provide an estimate of income tax revenue. When they finished their work, their estimate came in much lower than what the city finance office was projecting.

"City officials were caught off-guard by the new numbers.

"I think most of the council members were very surprised that their numbers would be that low, and the administration was clearly shocked," said Councilman George Sarantou, chairman of council's finance committee."

But WHY????

(SIDE NOTE: And just why does Toledo need to hire a couple of professors to do this? Isn't that the job of the Finance Department? And if the Finance Department was so off in their projections, why are they still employed????)

Anyone looking at the unemployment numbers, the temporary layoffs - and then the permanent ones, as well as the city's own actual income tax receipts for 2008 could have easily seen that Toledo was heading for a major problem.

Their 2008 budget contained many assumptions that never came to fruition (my questions about those assumptions are here) which had a negative impact on revenues.

Council and the mayor should have known that estimates of revenue based upon 12 months of certain operations (like monthly air traffic monitoring) would never achieve the projected totals if they only performed such operations for part of the year.

But they did not amend their budget to reflect this, even after being asked. Instead, they left the revenue numbers as submitted which meant they could spend more, since the budget for expenditures could be as high as the unrealistic revenue amount.

Last November, I made this post regarding the Mayor's proposed 2009 budget assumptions (in bold) and my thoughts on those estimates:

Revenue Assumptions:
Income Taxes are estimated to decline in 2009 approximately 2.09%, or $3,603,078 from the 2008 estimate, reflecting 2007 levels.

In 2008, Incomes Taxes were estimated to be 2.5% more than in 2007. Interestingly, 2007 estimates were 2.6% higher than in 2006. The problem is in current collections. According to the October Finance Committee report, as of September 2008, overall tax revenue to the city was down "nearly 6% from 2007." The only way to tell if this is a good projection would be to compare it to the 2007 final amounts.

The article also says that the primary reason Toledo is in this situation is the unexpected decline in income tax revenue at the end of 2008. But if their September finance report was correct, Council knew that as of September, their overall collections were down 6%.

Prior months reports showed similar declines, indicating a sustained pattern of failure to meet key revenue projections.

In January, I wrote:

"Last year I analyzed the projected revenue and raised all kinds of questions about the city's estimate of how much money would be received. My questions were never answered, but my concerns proved to be accurate. I'll go out on a limb and say the same thing will be true this year as well - that the city has over-estimated the revenue and will have some rude awakenings when they realize that their income is not meeting projections."

In fact, arbitrarily increasing the revenue amounts to cover planned spending seems to be an option the city considers valid:

"...from Bob Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff:

"He said the city's $6.4 million rainy-day fund would be applied to the 2008 deficit. Because $2 million of that was earmarked for the 2009 general-fund budget, the 2009 plan would need to be revised with more cuts, inflated revenue assumptions, or anticipated savings.

But even using the entire rainy-day fund would leave the city's 2008 budget $1.7 million in the red."(emphasis added)

I cannot believe they would even consider such a scheme, especially in times of increased unemployment, people leaving the city and business closings. What they're saying is that they may arbitrarily decide to just raise the estimated revenue in order to present a budget that is 'balanced' on paper.

Isn't that part of what got us into our current mess

With all these available facts, why are they now claiming to have been surprised by decreased revenue projections? One can only speculate, but if they claim the deficit was something that could never have been anticipated, then they have no culpability for the problem.

If that is, indeed, the case, then they all need to go - council, mayor and the finance department. Toledo cannot afford to have such clueless individuals in charge if this is what we get as a result.
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