Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quotes of the Day

In honor of the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations:

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." ~ John Adams

"In terms of altering sociological patterns, free speech, rather than being the enemy, is a long-tested and worthy ally. To deny free speech in order to engineer social changes in the name of accomplishing a greater good for one sector of our society erodes the freedoms of all." ~ U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker

Monday, June 29, 2009

Toledo and police reach tentative contract agreement

This just in via email:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tentative agreement has been reached between the City of Toledo and the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association

Mayor Finkbeiner and TPPA President Dan Wagner announce a tentative agreement has been reached between the City of Toledo and the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association. The package will be presented to the TPPA for ratification on Wednesday, July 1st.

A special meeting of City Council will be requested on Thursday, July 2nd for Council approval.


Teamwork Toledo coalition down to five candidates

This just in via email:



The group of six candidates running as Teamwork Toledo will see itself whittled down to five candidates as David "P.R.E.Z." Washington, the last of the six to join the team has decided to leave as of today.

When asked what prompted him to make the decision, P.R.E.Z. commented, "It's become apparent that we simply have very different methods on how to attain and reach our goals. After a time of prayer and contemplation, it became clear that it would be best for me to move on and pursue things separately."

P.R.E.Z. is one of several individuals running for the six Toledo city council at large seats. He was active in the Toledo Tea Party and is a member of the civic organization the Children Of Liberty.

"There's no ill will here. I have formed some great relationships and I will still help in endeavors to get others onto city council."

P.R.E.Z. is running a campaign based on "Less is more: less taxing, less spending, less government." He's currently wrapping up his petition drive and will announce his idea platform by July 7th.

Anyone interested in following his campaign can go to www.prezforcouncil.org.

Teamwork Toledo statement (also via email):

The following statement is in response to David "P.R.E.Z." Washington's decision to leave Teamwork Toledo and pursue his own campaign for Toledo City Council:

"David made a tough decision that involves his campaign. We wish him well in his personal, professional, and political endeavors. We all have similar and strong core beliefs and look forward to working together on Toledo City Council in January."

Side note: I'm impressed by the professionalism and amicability exhibited by these individuals...I think Toledo's city council could use more of this type of behavior.

Quote of the Day

"Supporters of Waxman-Markey are now claiming it won't cost anything and have found official support for their claim. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office have estimated that it will cost each of us only pennies to reduce emissions drastically with Waxman-Markey. We can save the planet "for the cost of a postage stamp" a day--or even less.

If that were true, why did Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee defeat Republican amendments to suspend Waxman-Markey if gasoline reached five dollars a gallon or electric rates doubled or unemployment topped fifteen percent
?" ~ Myron Ebell

Konop gets heckled...

Several media outlets mentioned this, but Justin Billau has the video...

A timeline for Honduras

It's hard these days to get good information about what leads to what when it comes to actions that suddenly make the news. That holds true for the ouster of the Honduran president by the military over the weekend.

In case you're wondering just what happened that led to that ouster, the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) has a good article that explains the timeline and why the military took the action they did:

"That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too."

As a side note, we are living in interesting times. We have North Korea threatening nuclear attack on the U.S., extreme unrest and instability in the South American region, a president who is gaining a reputation for being nice to enemies while snubbing our friends and allies, and our own government which doesn't seem to care about what our Constitution says when it places limits on what they can do.

It's times like these when I wonder if one day we'll look back and say 'all the pieces were there and we should have seen it coming' ...

A nation of slaves

In February, I did a post called "Another form of slavery?" in which I questioned whether or not Americans were trading freedom and liberty for slavery to government through dependence upon various programs.

At the time, I linked a column by Star Parker asking similar questions. There is now another one, this time by Nathan Tabor, called "The De Facto Slavery of the American People."

"Unfortunately,too many citizens do not recognize the revival of slavery, albeit more refined and less obvious enslavement. And, sadly, today more and more Americans are willing to give up certain freedoms in return for the promise of government largesse. And most of these citizens don't even realize what they're doing, because the news media are failing to perform their role as purveyors of truth and accuracy.

Enslavement will not come with a bang, but with a slow, relentless whimper. Each day, each week, each month, each year brings us closer to a state of de facto slavery as a result of greed disguised as "civil rights."

Ask most Americans and they will tell you that food, clothing, shelter and other necessities are "rights." Surely, they are necessities, but they are not rights that need to be provided by an omnipotent government.

And even when warranted, government charity has a way of morphing into government nightmares."

He applies the slavery concept to President Obama's health care plan:

"Dressed up with flowery language and high-sounding platitudes, it is nothing more than a grand power grab of life-and-death decision-making.

A friend asked me rhetorically: Why would Americans turn over their health and welfare -- their very lives -- to a bunch of crooked politicians who spend most of their time covering up, lying, cajoling and cheating, all in the name of power?

Why are Americans so quick to turn life-and-death decisions to a government that continues to have a problem covering up its sex scandals? Could it be they want to be enslaved?"

It's a good question and one I wonder about regularly - do people really want to be enslaved by government and told where to live, where to go to school, where to 'work' (as in Lucas County Commissioner's scholarship program that would require recipients to perform service in exchange for the money to pay for college), where to put their kids in daycare, which agencies can help them, what programs to enroll in, etc...?

Are people so afraid of doing things on their own that they would trade their freedom for the security of government care? Do they even realize that they have lost their freedoms as a result? Do they care?

It is the thought that so many of our fellow citizens think slavery to government is a good thing that has me worried for the future of our nation.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Less tickets means less money

Today's paper has an article about the decline in filings by Toledo Police in the Toledo Municipal Court.

According to the article, traffic filings in May were 1,165. That's only 34% of the number filed in the same month last year. Criminal filings were down 34%.

While criminal filings don't generate a huge amount of revenue, traffic citations do. If the traffic filings continue at this pace, the city could see an overall reduction in revenue of a similar percentage and I'm am absolutely certain that the city did not budget for a 66% decrease in traffic revenue.

In fact, the 2009 budget shows about a $200,000 increase in revenue for the Municipal Court in the city fines and court costs categories, which are the line items for traffic citations.

Unintended consequences - but only because council and the administration failed to take them into account.

Most of the younger officers are the ones who were laid off. They're also the ones most likely to be on road patrol and writing tickets. When I was the Clerk of Toledo Municipal Court, I could tell when a new police class took to the streets strictly from the increase in the number of traffic citations. That's what they do.

With the layoffs, the reallocation of staff within the department and the re-prioritization of work, it's no surprise that traffic citations are down. It should have been expected that the corresponding revenue would also decline. But the city planned for an increase in revenue, completely contrary to what they should have done.

So now the city is without 75 officers and the money saved from those layoffs is greatly reduced by the lack of revenue those officers were producing. Additionally, the city will have to find some way to make up the decreased revenue since the current budget was based upon the original numbers. Of course, I don't expect them to do so with more cuts...

The administration and council have not inspired confidence with their budgeting over the last several years. This is just one more example of why the city is in the hole.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

'Big Brother' is here

A while back I blogged about the proposal from First Energy to give homes a programmable thermostat which could be remotely controlled by them to address such concerns as peak power demands.

Today's paper has an article about the consumers who've actually taken advantage of this. Apparently, more than 1,500 homes in Northwest Ohio had their air conditioning turned down eight times last year - by First Energy. And another 10,000 or so homes with the thermostats are subject to the control.

The article says the agreement with the energy company allows for them to remotely activate the thermostats up to 20 times per year.

While there has been no effort this year to expand the program, FirstEnergy is studying other technologies that would allow thermostats to be similarly controlled via the Internet.

As electricity demand increases and outpaces additional supply, using centrally controlled technologies on high-demand days could help alleviate the need to build additional generation plants.

Right now, this is a voluntary program between supplier and customer. But in light of what the House did last night with the global warming bill, do you think government will mandate such control in the future?

I love fireworks!

Today is the Washington Township festival for the Point/Shoreland area as part of Point Place Days. It's at Shoreland Park.

And then tonight - FIREWORKS!!!!

I love these fireworks, put on by the Washington Township Fire Department, as I believe they are one of the best presentations in the entire area. They'll be set off from the Summit Street Bridge over the Ottawa River. Best viewing areas are the parks along Ottawa River Road and Shoreland Avenue, the boat clubs along the river and Merchant's Landing parking lot (though that fills up very early).

This is a great way to end the Point Place Days events and also kick off the Fourth of July celebrations. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

'Cap and Tax' bill passes - Kaptur, Dingell vote yes

The final tally for the Waxman-Markey energy bill - known as 'cap and trade' but more accurately called 'cap and tax' - was 219-212 with eight Republicans voting yes and 44 Democrats voting no.

If the eight GOP members had voted with their party, the bill would have failed.

Our representative, Marcy Kaptur (who consistently rails against high energy bills in this region), voted in favor of the bill, despite the costs it will impose on all her constituents. Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle has Kaptur's press release on the vote. Rep. Bob Latta voted no and his statement on the vote is here.

Also voting yes was Rep. John Dingell who'd previous said of this bill:

"Nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax, and it’s a great big one."

Thanks Kaptur and Dingell for voting to raise our taxes!

(The eight Republicans who helped pass the bill: Mack-CA, Castle-DE, Kirk-IL, Lance-NJ, LoBiondo-NJ, McHugh-NY, Reichert-WA, and Smith-NJ.)

Number of global warming 'skeptics' is growing

If you can, please read this Wall Street Journal article about the growing skepticism over human-caused global warming. (subscription may be required)

It starts with the story of Steve Fielding who recently asked the Obama administration to "reassure him" on the issue of global warming. When that didn't happen, he decided to vote against the pending legislation.

But he's an Australian senator and he's part of a growing group of individuals who are expressing their doubts about the so-called 'consensus' on man-made global warming.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Waxman-Markey global warming bill today. If you haven't already done so, call your legislator and tell them to vote no. We cannot afford the huge increases in costs just to reduce the temperature a fraction of a degree - if that.

Americans for Prosperity has a nice web tool to enter your zip code and get your representative's contact information. They also have a listing of where various reps stand on the issue. Please call today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A chilling read

From my friend Warner Todd Huston, here.

I am wondering when the euthanasia folks are going to start touting this one? I mean, it sure seemed to me as if the most caring, most civil, most intelligent president evah just said that healthcare could be cheaper if we don’t give old folks and the infirm the full measure of care they now get. It appeared that Obama said we should just let them die or suffer because they aren’t worth the effort. Imagine if Bush had said something like this? The left wouldn’t have hesitated to call him any manner of names.

Why should libraries be exempt from cuts?

They shouldn't - not really.

In today's economic environment and record deficits by our governments (federal, state, county, municipality), there is no entity or recipient of taxpayer dollars that should be exempt from reductions.

Despite all the doom and gloom predictions if government doesn't keep spending at the same - or even higher - levels, the world will not end. In our own families, we're setting priorities and making decisions about where and how we spend our limited dollars. We are cutting out many things in order to ensure that the essentials are covered.

Government should be no different.

First, the solution from so many who are opposed to cuts is that taxes should be raised - if they say anything at all. Most are just saying 'don't cut MY pet program' and are pretty silent when it comes to answering the question of where cuts should come from if their program's funding remains the same. When they do suggest a solution, it is to raise taxes so nothing needs to be cut.

Of course, those of us who are paying those taxes are finding our funds reduced as well, so taking more from people who really have nothing left just compounds the problem - it does not solve it. And the detrimental impacts of additional taxes are severe and long-term (think of loss of population and businesses...).

Second, there is no reason that any program or project should be sacrosanct when it comes to 'helping' the state meet its budget. I've applauded Gov. Ted Strickland's decisions to reduce the state spending in the past and for his position on not raising taxes. (Though I did take exception to his change of position when he decided that raising fees is not raising taxes despite his prior comments that an increase in fees is an increase in taxes.)

His approach has been to impose across-the-board cuts with lesser priority areas getting larger cuts. Libraries hold no more special position than anything else in government. In fact, they are far less of a priority that certain mandated functions. While library supporters may not like this, it is true and must be considered as part of an overall budget.

Third, there is certainly room in all budgets to make adjustments. The main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Since so much of the library focus is on children (and just what isn't these days when it comes to justifying public funding), there is certainly room to reduce hours, especially during the school year when kids cannot use the library during a normal school day. Additionally, most operations are not open 12 hours a day. Even our malls have reduced their hours of operations - so why not libraries. And if meeting the needs of the public is important, then why not have more weekend hours and close down on one of the week days when most adults are at work?

I am certain that anyone looking closely will find waste and inefficiency in any government operation - and certainly government should streamline itself, either voluntarily or forcibly by taxpayers who refuse to allow increased taxes. Libraries are no exception.

As a side note, I cannot express how angry I am that our library has a huge yellow and black ad that pops up before allowing me access to the library website. The ad tells me that the governor wants to cut funding by 50% and has a link for me to send an email to the legislators. Since our library is publicly funded, and this ad has no disclaimer on it, I can only conclude that tax dollars are being used to campaign for more funds. I know that some legislators want to make it against the law for publicly-funded agencies, etc., to use any of their assets to lobby for more public funding. Maybe they should start with the libraries.

There is one glitch in Strickland's plan to reduce funding, though. When the state decided to change its tax system (which has improved Ohio's rankings on tax-friendly charts), counties and libraries and other entities who received 'Local Government Funds' were found to have huge reductions as a result of the change. At that time, there were agreements reached which would ensure stable levels of funding during the new tax structure phase-in period. So there is some expectation that libraries would not have reductions as a result of the new tax structure.

However, the current circumstances have nothing to do with the change in tax structure and everything to do with the overall economy. The agreement for continued state funding did not anticipate huge state deficits - and why should it, government rarely plans ahead for downturns...

So given the challenges faced by everyone, libraries need to 'share the pain' especially if they also expect to 'share the wealth' when times are better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

High-speed rail a waste of money, report says

This just in from Buckeye Institute:

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

High-Speed Rail a Waste of Money, Says Report

COLUMBUS - The Obama Administration's proposed high-speed rail plan will cost $1,000 for every federal income taxpayer, yet the average American will ride high-speed trains less than 60 miles a year, says a new report from the Buckeye Institute. The report estimates that the average Ohio resident will take a round trip on high-speed trains only once every 19 years. The report can be found at http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/highspeedrail.pdf.

On Wednesday, June 17, the Federal Railroad Administration released criteria for state applications for high-speed rail projects. The new report warns that the cost of these projects could grow to be hundreds of billions of dollars with very little public or environmental benefit.

The federal government is proposing to build true high-speed rail lines - with trains going faster than 120 miles per hour - only in California and Florida. In Ohio and most of the rest of the country, it is merely proposing to upgrade existing freight tracks to boost top Amtrak speeds from 79 to 110 mph.

Trains with a top speed of 110 mph will have average speeds of just 55 to 75 mph. Not only will that attract few people out of their cars, says the report, such trains will actually be less energy efficient and more polluting than driving.

"High-speed rail is an idea whose time has gone," says Randal O'Toole, a Cato Institute senior fellow and the report's author. "It is bad for taxpayers and bad for the environment."

Premium fares and a downtown orientation means that the main people riding these trains will be bankers, lawyers, government officials, and other high-income people who hardly need subsidized transportation. Not only will each federal income taxpayer pay $1,000 for someone else to ride the train, that passenger probably earns more than the average taxpayer.

The administration has compared its high-speed rail plan with President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. But interstates were paid for entirely out of gas taxes and other user fees, not general taxes, and the average American travels on interstates 4,000 miles per year. By comparison, general taxpayers will pay for the cost of building and much of the costs of operating high-speed trains that will be used mainly by a wealthy elite.

The report urges Ohio to use its share of federal high-speed rail stimulus money for safety improvements such as grade crossings and signaling systems, but not for new trains that will obligate taxpayers to pay millions of dollars in annual subsidies.

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions is a nonpartisan research and educational institute devoted to individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government in Ohio.

Did EPA conceal global warming study?

This just in from the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

EPA Suppresses Internal Global Warming Study

CEI Calls for Agency to Release Concealed Report

Washington, D.C., June 24, 2009—The Competitive Enterprise Institute today charged that a senior official of the U.S. Environment Protection Agency actively suppressed a scientific analysis of climate change because of political pressure to support the Administration’s policy agenda of regulating carbon dioxide.

As part of a just-ended public comment period, CEI submitted a set of four EPA emails, dated March 12-17, 2009, which indicate that a significant internal critique of the agency’s global warming position was put under wraps and concealed.

The study the emails refer to, which ran counter to the administration’s views on carbon dioxide and climate change, was kept from circulating within the agency, was never disclosed to the public, and was not added to the body of materials relevant to EPA’s current “endangerment” proceeding. The emails further show that the study was treated in this manner not because of any problem with its quality, but for political reasons.

“This suppression of valid science for political reasons is beyond belief,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “EPA’s conduct is even more outlandish because it flies in the face of the President’s widely-touted claim that ‘the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.’”

CEI’s filing requests that EPA make the suppressed study public, place it into the endangerment docket, and extend the comment period to allow public response to the new information. CEI is also requesting that EPA publicly declare that it will engage in no reprisals against the study’s author, a senior analyst who has worked at EPA for over 35 years.


Random Thoughts on a Wednesday

* A recent Blade editorial praised the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Passed by Congress and signed by the President on Monday, it expands government control over the production and marketing of tobacco products.

We all know that smoking is bad for you - but so are a lot of other things. If this product is so bad for you that government has to mandate huge warnings on the package (as if we didn't already know the facts) why not just go ahead and make the things illegal?

Because politicians (and anti-smoking advocates) know that they cannot outlaw smoking - which is what many would like - because the public would revolt. So they attack it incrementally, removing a bit of freedom here, a bit of freedom there ... all under the guise of 'promoting public health.' They know what's best for you and so they'll take things slowly until one day when you'll wake up and wonder how government was able to mandate what you eat, drink and consume.

Of course, they're also counting on the revenue taxes on these products generate - a bit of irony, don't you think?

* Congress has passed the 'cash for clunkers' provision which, in case you haven't heard, would confiscate tax dollars from everyone in order to subsidize the purchase of new vehicle for some. Now, you only get the subsidy if you're trading in a 1984 model or later for a vehicle that gets at least four miles to the gallon more than the one you're trading in.

It's no surprise that liberals love this new law...but here's the problem. The old vehicles have to be scrapped. What, you ask? That's right. The old vehicles cannot be resold or traded, they must be destroyed.

This means that people without the financial ability to purchase new cars will no longer have older cars in the market. When you reduce supply, but the demand stays the same, the prices go up, making it harder for people in difficult economic times to actually afford the transportation that everyone says is key to getting and maintaining a job.

Liberals, of course, love the fact that the cars will no longer be consuming more gasoline than they think is proper. But the 'poor' people they constantly claim to want to 'help,' will be worse off in the long run.

And then there is the unintended consequences of the law. If a dealership must scrap the traded-in vehicle, it has no value to them. They're not going to give you a fair market value for the car with the hope of re-selling it for a bit more in order to make a profit. No - because they cannot re-sell it, you're only going to get what the government is willing to pay you for the vehicle. And that amount may be significantly (at least in these economic conditions) less than what the dealer would normally offer prior to the law taking effect.

Government has now interfered again in the free market - substituting their social agenda for the fair trading of goods.

And they claim we're not heading toward socialism....

* Lucas County Commissioner and Toledo mayoral candidate Ben Konop submitted an op-ed piece to the paper, which they published. It touts his idea to take savings from privatizing the county life squad transportation services to create a scholarship fund so people in Lucas County can go to college for free. Well, almost free, because they'd have to 'give back' to the community by performing one hour of 'service' for every $20 of scholarship they get.

As I've said before, if there are savings to be had in county government, let's look at them. Konop has previously suggested a work week of four 10-hour days. I think it needs to be considered - along with any other money-saving ideas. Gather the facts, evaluate the proposals, and, if they can result in the same level of service for less cost, go ahead! Don't wait until there is agreement on how to spend the savings before creating the savings in the first place.

Of course, Konop's ideas are NOT about savings for tax payers. They're all about how to get his ideas implemented, which is why you haven't seen any of his potentially good cost-savings ideas go anywhere.

Side note: he likens the area to a "sinking business lacking in forward-thinking leadership" and says, "We're speeding in a car toward the edge of a cliff, and all anyone cares to do is argue over which radio station we're listening to."
Actually, Ben, the car speeding toward the edge of the cliff is government spending and your idea is just more of the same. So who's really playing with the radio?

* We all know how Mayor Carty Finkbeiner likes to read articles about other cities and then try to duplicate their experiments here...Well, I just hope he hasn't seen this, or this yet.

* In case you missed it, Justin's got a great clip of mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski and Vice President Joe Biden. Apparently, Wilkowski was being so disruptive that Biden called it a 'conniption fit' in finally calling on him.

* Thomas Sowell is one of my favorites. In his column today, he starts with: "Even if the "stimulus" package doesn't seem to be doing much to stimulate the economy, it is certainly stimulating many potential recipients of government money to start lining up at the trough." So true - so true....

(And this column is also an excellent rebuttal to Konop's scholarship scheme, though I doubt Konop would heed any of it...)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

A quote to note in light of the ABC special which is being billed as an 'infomercial' for the White House:

"Nothing is inevitable in a democracy unless the public lets the political spinmasters and media talking heads lead them around by the nose." ~ Thomas Sowell

Monday, June 22, 2009

City still claims cameras are about safety, not money

Today's paper has an article about how the city is hoping to generate $2.5 million in income from red-light and speed cameras.

Of course, the income last year from the cameras was about half that, but under the city's logic, with the summer months and more people on the road, there will be more violations and more revenue.

But the problem is when the police chief is quoted as saying this is not about money - it's about safety. Eight paragraphs about how the cameras are being counted on for their revenue, with quotes from the finance director - and then two paragraphs about how it's about safety.

If safety is really the issue, then why did they increase the fines from $90 to $120 and increase the city's percentage of the fine from 25% up to 54.2%?

Well, because they need the money. And, despite the Chief's comments, the administration is counting on the money to help balance the budget. The deficit for the year is still around $12 million, though that is down from $27 million projection.

And before you start in on the 'if you don't break the law' arguments, this is not about whether or not you should run a red light or speed to get through an intersection when the light is getting ready to change to red. You shouldn't do those things.

But if you do, you deserve to have your day in court where you can challenge the accuser and question the accuracy, where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty and where your rights under the Constitution are protected - not ignored. That doesn't happen with the cameras.

Under Toledo's law, the picture is prima facie evidence that you've violated the law and the camera is presumed correct and no challenge to the accuracy is possible.

Additionally, if you are the registered owner of the vehicle, you are the guilty person. If you prove you were not driving the vehicle because you were out of town at the time of the infraction, you still must pay unless you name the guilty party. Know of any other offense where the only way you are not charged is to find the guilty party yourself???

Finally, you do not have the same rights as others accused of violating a traffic law because the city treats this as a civil offense - not a criminal one - so no right to a trial or representation, etc. The hearing officer who conducts any 'appeals' of the fine is hired and paid by the city. Regardless of the individuals personal integrity, the appearance of conflict is clear.

This is not about safety. Despite the claims by the police chief, the accident date has been referenced but not released. Every other city that has implemented these cameras has seen accidents increase, despite the decrease in the type of accidents caused by running a red light. Those cities realized they just exchanged one type of accident for another.

Besides, if it was really about safety, the city would have done what the National Traffic Safety Board has recommended: conduct a study of the intersection and its approaches to determine WHY there are red-light accidents and address those problems first, increase the amount of time the lights are yellow to allow more time to clear an intersection, go to 'all red' lights where all lights are red in all directions for a short period of time prior to some turning green.

Toledo did not do any of these things - they just added the cameras and counted upon the income to help meet their budget.

And mark my words - if they get away with these, there will be more. Already the city has added the speed cameras to the intersections to increase the revenue, and the mobile speed van to catch speeders. Redflex has stop-sign cameras and railroad crossing cameras. Do you really think the city won't be adding them in the future?

Get your petitions today - or stop in to Delaney's Lounge (309 W Alexis Rd # 3
) and sign a petition to put the issue on the ballot for a vote. Even if you support the cameras, you should want this on the ballot so that the voters can have their say on the issue.

***-Sepp at Uncommon Squalor has a few choice words on the matter as well....

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

A quote from Ronald Reagan to remind us how important fathers are:

'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,' Solomon tells us. Clearly, the future is in the care of our parents. Such is the responsibility, promise and hope of fatherhood. Such is the gift that our fathers give us. Our fathers bear an awesome responsibility -- one that they shoulder willingly and fulfill with a love that asks no recompense. By turns both gentle and firm, our fathers guide us along the path from infancy to adulthood. We embody their joy, pain and sacrifice, and inherit memories more cherished than any possession. On Father's Day each year, we express formally a love and gratitude whose roots go deeper than conscious memory can recite. It is only fitting that we have this special day to pay tribute to those men -- our natural fathers, adoptive fathers and foster fathers -- who deserve our deepest respect and devotion. It is equally fitting, as we recall the ancient and loving command to honor our fathers, that we resolve to do so by becoming ourselves parents and citizens who are worthy of honor.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My last night on radio

Tonight was my last night as host of Eye On Toledo on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD.

Last month my husband accepted a new project for his business and it requires him to travel more often. After having lost a dear friend last week to cancer, we realize more acutely just how important it is to spend time with those you love. Accordingly, I will be traveling with him when he's gone for extended periods of time.

Of course, that means that I won't be available to do a daily radio show.

I'm so very appreciative of Brian Wilson and WSPD for giving me the opportunity to do the show and for everything I learned.

I'm especially grateful for the listeners who make the show worth doing. It is the WSPD audience - those who listen, email and call, who have restored my faith that all is not lost for Toledo and Lucas County. All of you who think and reason and use logic – and, most importantly, common sense – and who are taking positive action to affect real change, have restored my hope in the future of our community. I want to encourage you to continue to call and email and pester our elected officials and candidates to do the right things – thanking them when they do and replacing them when they don’t.

I hope you will be as welcoming and supportive of the new host as you were to me.

It should go without saying that I will continue the blog. In fact, many of the points I made on air will now end up being made here, instead ... they'll just be in writing, rather than spoken word.

So stay tuned - it's going to be an interesting summer!

FAIR formed to oppose '9 is Fine' charter amendment

This just in from Terry Biel:

Terry Biel Establishes FAIR Committee to Defeat Council Restructuring

Candidate says scheme amounts to “wholesale disenfranchisement of Toledo voters”

Toledo, OH – City Council candidate Terry Biel will today form a campaign committee to defeat the so-called “Nine is Fine” initiative. Biel will file a Declaration of Treasurer for the Fair and Inclusive Representation (FAIR) committee today, Friday, June 19, at 3:30 p.m. at the Lucas County Board of Elections.

"This initiative is a wholesale disenfranchisement of Toledo voters," says Biel. "Under the current system, Toledoans vote for seven City Council members each. The proposed system reduces that number to two members per citizen. That’s a step backwards. Voters deserve fair and inclusive representation.”

Biel says the FAIR committee will bring citizens together to defeat the initiative in November.

For additional information, contact Biel at 419.290.6128.

Original announcement of '9 is Fine' campaign

My position on the proposal

Sobczak's replacement should NOT be a candidate

Karen Shanahan had a great post earlier this week calling for a statesman to be named to the open city council seat caused by Mark Sobczak's resignation.

I have to agree that the practice of naming a candidate to the position is not a good one and should be avoided.

As I said on Eye On Toledo this week, the city council is responsible to the public - the citizens of Toledo - not to the individual political parties who are (or plan on) endorsing a particular person. They should pick someone who is not interested in being a permanent replacement.

If they select a current candidate for council, they are, collectively, endorsing that candidate for a seat on council and putting the will of the respective political party ahead of the best interests of the public.

It will not serve the citizens of Toledo for members of council to play politics with the vacancy. All it will do is further divide the council (A Team, B Team, C Team, Republicans) along those political alignments and become a way for one grouping to 'win' over the others. The focus will be on the gamesmanship of the appointment, rather than on what is best for Toledo.

Had Rob Ludeman not announced his run for an at-large council seat, I would have suggested him because of his recent prior experience as well as his time as president of council. However, since he is a candidate, he's out of the picture.

But there are others, Republicans and Democrats alike, who could serve for a short period of time until the voters have decided who should take over. While some of these would not be my personal choice, they are individuals council should consider:

Donna Owens - R, former mayor and city council member
Sue Rioux - D, former Lucas County Recorder
Ellen Grachek - D, former District 5 council member
Joe Birmingham - R, former District 6 council member

Also, any former judge - and there are several who live in Toledo and could be appointed - or former elected official who is still in town could be named to the seat.

If council were to appointment such an individual, they would truly be doing the will of the people by allowing the voters to decide the makeup of council without any preferential treatment by the council members as a whole.

The question is, though, do they have the backbone to take such a stand? Or will politics being their overriding consideration?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garbage revolt?

A friend sent me the link to this Daily Mail story about garbage collection. Is this what we have to look forward to????

From the article:

What could possibly be behind this disturbing breakdown of relations between the general public and this fine body of men providing one of the most basic and valuable public services?

Here's a clue. 'It is not the job of our waste teams to collect wheeled bins from driveways.'

There you have the authentic voice of local government in Britain today, in this case one Dennis Pennill, who styles himself 'waste service manager' of Rochdale council in Lancashire.

He was attempting to justify the refusal of his dustmen to empty the wheelie bin of 64-year-old arthritis sufferer Mrs Patricia Pilkington, on the grounds that it was all of 12in from the pavement and therefore classified as 'not out for collection'.

When she rang the council to complain, she was told it was her own fault. The bin should have been put out on the pavement, not left a foot within the boundary of her property.

Only when this outrage came to the attention of the Daily Mail did Obergrupenfuhrer Pennill concede, with a hint of menace and complete absence of contrition, that: 'In this instance and as a gesture of goodwill, as long as the bin contains only appropriate waste and has its lid closed, we will return to collect it.'

That was big of him. Since when did emptying a dustbin, for which we pay a small fortune in council taxes, become a matter of 'goodwill'?

But the blame doesn't lie with the dustmen themselves, despite the legendary ingenuity of the average British workman for inventing excuses for not doing the job for which he is being paid

You must read the entire article!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Night-shining clouds

SpaceWeather.com is reporting that "intense, electric-blue noctilucent clouds rippled across Europe last night. Sightings were made in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland and all parts of the British Isles."

A video of the clouds is available here.

According to the report:

"For reasons no one fully understands, noctilucent clouds tend to be most active during years of solar minimum. 2009 is such a year. The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century, and many researchers expect a banner season for these mysterious clouds.
NLC OBSERVING TIPS: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset when the Sun has dipped 6 to 16 degrees below the horizon: diagram. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you've probably spotted a noctilucent cloud. Although noctilucent clouds appear most often at high latitudes, they have been sighted in recent years as far south as Colorado, Utah and Virginia."

For more awesome pictures of this phenomenon, visit the 2009 noctilucent cloud photo gallery.

I just love stuff like this!

Study shows Estate Tax is killing Ohio jobs

This just in from The Buckeye Institute:

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Estate Tax is Killing 58,000 Ohio Jobs Study Says

COLUMBUS - Ohio could add 58,363 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers if the federal estate tax were repealed, according to a new analysis by the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions. The estimates are based on research by the former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. The research was conducted for the nonprofit American Family Business Foundation (AFBF), Washington, DC. The full report can be found at http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/estatetaxreport.pdf.

"As this study clearly shows, the federal estate tax is hurting Ohio's families and businesses," said Buckeye Institute analyst Marc Kilmer. "The penalties this tax imposes on Ohioans who save and invest are ridiculous. Our state's economy would be in better shape if this death tax died and Ohioans were allowed to keep and pass on the assets they worked so hard to build."

The AFBF study found the estate tax has a significant impact on family businesses. Many small businesses are hit especially hard by the estate tax's high marginal tax rate. The current federal estate tax will be eliminated for one year, 2010, but in 2011 it will be reimposed at a rate of 55% on estates over $1 million.

The study found permanently eliminating the death tax would create 1.5 million additional small business jobs. In addition, it would increase hiring by almost 9%, increase payrolls by almost 3%, and expand investment by 3%. The state estimate is calculated based on the percentage of national small-business jobs located in Ohio.

By imposing a high marginal rate on savings and asset accumulation, an estate tax gives entrepreneurs incentives to spend and not save. In a small business context, this hurts the ability of businesses to grow and expand, leading to higher unemployment.

"President Obama has put job creation at the top of his priority list," said Kilmer. "Permanently eliminating the estate tax would be one of the most effective stimulus packages our nation could see."

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions is a nonpartisan research and educational institute devoted to individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government in Ohio. The American Family Business Foundation is the research and education voice of the American Family Business Institute, an organization representing American family business owners and farmers.

House Democrats shut out GOP

I'm signed up to get a daily update from Erick Erickson who runs RedState.com. The e-letter lists pertinent national posts by various bloggers. The last item this morning was this:

4. House Democrats Shut GOP Entirely Out of Process

The writers of the Federalist Papers would not be amused

Last night the House Democrats denied the Republican members of the House the right to offer amendments to spending bills before the Congress.

This is the first time in American history the majority has denied the minority the right to offer up amendments to spending bills. The first time. Ever.

So much for bipartisanship, openness and inclusion ... and don't be surprised if bills get no Republican support.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toledo 'nickle and diming' its residents - UPDATED

In case you missed it, 13ABC had the story about a city employee issuing parking tickets to residents who have gravel driveways. This morning, the Drudge Report picked up the story.

According to Toledo Municipal Code, Section 351.07 Standing and/or parking; prohibited or limited, it is illegal to:

(33) Stand or park a vehicle upon any unpaved portion of a front lot or side lot in any residence district, or upon any unpaved portion of a vacant lot in any residence district, except as otherwise permitted under the local Zoning Ordinance, Part Eleven of the Toledo Municipal Code.

The problem is that only certain individuals are authorized, under Toledo's code, to issue such tickets.

351.18. Parking tickets.

Whenever any vehicle without an operator is found parked or standing in violation of the provisions of this Traffic Code or State law, the police officer finding such vehicle shall take its registration number and may take any other information which may identify its user and shall conspicuously affix to such vehicle a parking ticket. Such ticket shall give notice of the charge against the operator of such vehicle and the place and hours that the charge shall be answered. The officer shall send a copy of such parking ticket to the place where the charge is to be answered.
(emphasis added)

Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, told WSPD that he is considering filing a complaint with the court over a contract violation, as only police officers have this authority (except in the downtown area where the city has authorized the Downtown Parking Authority to issue certain types of tickets for meter violations).

Wagner was also encouraging individuals to fight the tickets in court.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner refused to respond to questions about the ticketing from various news media, saying he'd already answered any and all questions regarding that issue - despite the fact that his statement was in response to questions he'd not yet answered.

He also issued the following press release:

Monday, June 15, 2009

City of Toledo addresses illegally parked vehicles

In response to a citizen complaint to the City of Toledo Board of Community Relations, the Commissioner of Streets, Bridges and Harbor responded by going to the location of the complaint to assess whether it was valid or not. She personally observed that it was a valid complaint. She observed several illegally parked vehicles along the first street she visited. While there, a neighbor asked her to check out his street, which also had a number of illegally parked vehicles. Once she observed they too were illegally parked, she cited them as well.

The City of Toledo supports its laws in general and illegally parked vehicles can and will be ticketed, and these tickets are considered valid.

Well, just because the mayor considers these tickets valid doesn't make them so. The law director should have been consulted, but that might have resulted in an opinion Carty didn't like. In the end, the Toledo Municipal Court judge who hears any such challenge will decide if a city employee can assume the role of a police officer and issue a parking ticket.

However, as I said last night during Eye On Toledo, watch out! If the court decides this has to be done by a police officer, I expect the city's next step will be to decriminalize such offenses, have city employees take photographs of the parked vehicle and then issue a civil fine, appealable only to a hearing officer hired by the city, and when not paid, send it to collection - just like they do for red-light and speed cameras.

After all - if it works for other traffic violations, why not for parking violations as well?!? All to get some extra cash because our politicians have spent us into million dollar deficits.

UPDATE: The tickets issued to the residents by the acting commissioner are not regular traffic citations. They are the white form parking tickets - usually disbursed by the Downtown Parking Authority. Under TMC 129.05, certain individuals within city government have special police powers:

(a) Special police power is hereby conferred upon the following officers of the City: Mayor, President of Council, members of Council, Clerk of Council, Director of Law and all Legal Assistants to the Director of Law, Police Prosecutor, Director of Public Service and Commissioner of Streets, Bridges and Harbor; and such power is hereby determined to be the same and coextensive with that of the police officers of the Department of Police Operations. The Director of Police Operations is hereby directed to procure for each of the above officials suitable badges which shall remain the property of the City.

And Chapter 309 of the TMC specifically cites individuals authorized under the 129.05 definitions as having authority to issue tickets. So the tickets are, technically, valid.

However, that brings up the question of whether or not the city is selectively enforcing the law about parking on unpaved areas in the front and side yards, especially since many homes within the city have gravel driveways and have had them since before this particular law was put in place.

The real issue of city pools

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm a proponent of limited government. I believe that government has a purpose, but a limited one, and that government should stick to those limited tasks.

I also believe that government takes too much money from us in the form of taxes and fees - and they do so in order to 'provide' more than the basic services government should be providing.

So it should come as no surprise that I oppose public funding of pools and recreation under the guise of 'quality of life' or 'for the children' arguments. I'm of the firm opinion that families would be able to provide such 'recreation' for their children if government wasn't taking so much of their money in the first place.

But I am apparently in the minority on that position, as the City of Toledo is again planning on opening the pools because, as the ordinance states, it's important that "citizens in all areas of the city will be able to enjoy aquatic recreational opportunities this summer."

On a positive note, the funding for the pools is coming from donations and the Parks Trust Fund - not the general fund. I'm very glad that community groups and churches have stepped up to fund these activities, though I must admit that one of the sources (a grant from EOPA) is actually tax dollars from the federal government. I believe that this is the proper way to permanently fund these types of things. I believe that other groups might step forward to do the same if the government hadn't taken over the responsibility in the first place.

The total amount to be spent this year (three ordinances are on the agenda) is $136,398. The problem is the number of children to be served.

As I've highlighted in previous posts, the pools serve less than 2% of the population and less than 6% of the children in the city. And the number of users has declined over the last three years.

As calculated in my previous posts, the pools serve roughly 4,700 unique visitors. At that number for this year's funding, it's about $28 per person. For the same amount of money, the city could purchase a year-long membership at the Boys & Girls Club for 27,000+ kids (calculated at the 16-18 year old membership rate of $5, not the 7-15 year old rate of $3). If we really care about kids, why aren't we providing them with year-round activities instead of just a couple of months (depending on weather) of pool access?

But if the city told you that they were going to purchase memberships for kids to a club, would you support the expenditure of those dollars while we're laying off police and not planning on residential road improvements? Probably not.

It's an issue of priorities and Toledo government doesn't have a track record of setting good ones.

Beyond that, it's an issue of responsibilities - it is not the responsibility of taxpayers to provide entertainment and recreation for the children in the city. If you want to do something like that, you make a donation to private organizations who provide those types of services. And if there are private organizations who are willing to fund such activities this year, let's develop a plan by which they will be able to do so every year and get the city out of the business of swimming pools.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Feds order Ohio to use stimulus funds for shovel-ready projects

A press release from U.S. Rep. John Boehner:

Boehner Statement on Federal Officials Ordering Ohio to Shut Down Its Transportation Slush Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) issued the following statement after federal officials ordered the Ohio Department of Transportation to kill a $57 million slush fund to study projects and put the money into shovel-ready projects:

“The stated intent of the so-called stimulus package was to create jobs, and certainly a $57 million slush fund studying projects did nothing to achieve that goal. With Ohio’s unemployment rate the highest it’s been in 25 years, I’m pleased that federal officials stepped in to order Ohio to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs.”

NOTE: Ohio’s Republican congressional delegation wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in April asking him to investigate Ohio’s plans to create the slush fund after media reports disclosed the fund’s existence. U.S. House Republicans also wrote to Gov. Strickland expressing their frustration that Ohio would spend money to study projects that may never get built while denying shovel-ready jobs that would create jobs immediately.

This is second allocation of “stimulus” dollars Ohio has been forced to rescind. Last week, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reversed its decision to award $1.1 million to clean up a Cold War-era weapons facility that was declared clean two years ago. Despite continued misuse of “stimulus” dollars, Gov. Strickland refuses to establish an independent, bipartisan oversight board to ensure Ohioans that their federal tax dollars are being spent appropriately.

Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.

Unnecessary government spending is unnecessary - regardless of the amount

This is an interesting article about spending in the State Treasurer's office.

Kevin Boyce, who was appointed to replace Richard Cordray when he became Attorney General, is seeking election to the office. Both men are Democrats. He says his spending on 'promotional items,' which include his name, are less than Cordray's.

But it's still taxpayer dollars being spent on unnecessary items.

The article quotes Boyce as "spending $1.2 million a year less on staff than Cordray did." If that's true, that's good - but what does it say about Cordray???? Was Cordray so grossly overspending as Treasurer that his replacement had room to cut more than a million dollars out of the budget? And if that's the case, is Cordray likely to overspend as AG?

Cordray is also up for election as Attorney General next year and Boyce's defense of his spending is going to be great fodder for both their opponents.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saying goodbye to a dear friend

I won't be doing any posts over the next several days as my husband and I join with the family and friends of Mary Lou Osborne to mourn her loss and to celebrate her life. She was the best type of friend anyone could hope for and will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Acting like children

Remember last August when the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives wanted to discuss the ‘drill here, drill now’ issue and the Democrats just turned off the lights, the microphones and the television feeds - and went home?

Turns out that New York Democrats are following the example.

Why is it that these Democrats, when faced with issues or discussions they don’t want to have just decide to take their ball and go home? What is it that they are so afraid of? That their positions won’t hold up under scrutiny? That the ‘will of the people’ that they’re so fond of touting might be something different than what they, personally, want? That given an open, inclusive discussion they might actually lose a following vote on an issue?

And if their positions are so tenuous as to not be able to withstand such scrutiny, are they really such good positions at all?

Is this what governance has come to? Maintain power and control at all costs and declare sessions closed when it looks like the ‘other team’ might actually have a win?

I guess the ‘party of diversity’ excludes diversity of thought.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A tax on plane tickets to fund global warming fight?

Yep - that's what's being suggested.

Of course, it's only 'rich' countries that will be subject to the tax,despite the fact that 'countries' don't actually purchase plane tickets...

And then there are the super rich who don't purchase tickets, but fly in private planes.

What are the implications? Well, if you make ticket prices higher, the individuals who would normally purchase them might decide not to. That will result in less tourism across the globe - and less 'income' from the tax. Businesses who have no choice but to travel internationally will pass along those increased taxes to the individuals who purchase their products, causing an overall increase in costs, as well.

Then there is the suggestion to match the plane ticket tax with a shipping fuel tax. Of course, that drives up the costs of commerce - again making products more expensive.

The worst part of all this is that the billion and trillions 'they' want to spend to combat global warming may - just maybe - reduce temperatures by a fraction of a degree. Is a fraction of a degree really worth the extra cost?

The core problem, however, is that everyone just assumes that our current temperature is the 'right' one and that it must be preserved. Personally, I'd like it to be a bit warmer, especially during the winter months. And who can tell us, with any amount of authority whatsoever, what the 'proper' temperature of the earth should be so that we can aspire to reach it?

If you read the linked article, you'll see that another complaint from the conference is that 'rich' countries aren't giving enough money to the 'poor' countries. That whole 'redistribute the wealth' idea doesn't work - all it does is make the 'rich' want to stop producing. As Margaret Thatcher said, 'eventually you run out of other people's money.'

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday morning - catching up on my reading

* I'm so glad that Indiana pension funds have challenged the bailout/bankruptcy of Chrysler in the U.S. Supreme Court.

For weeks people have been questioning under what authority the federal government is acting when it comes to the automobile companies. While the administration says their authority derives from the TARP funds, Congress only authorized that funding for financial institutions - not auto makers. Complicating matters is Congress's rejection of an auto bailout plan after the approved TARP. If TARP allowed the administration to address the car companies, then why was separate legislation even introduced, much less defeated?

I was opposed to the bailouts in the first place and hope the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Indiana pension funds.

* The stimulus isn't working and April figures prove it. At least, that's what Dick Morris and Eileen McGann say in their latest column:

1. Household personal income (inflation adjusted) rose, but every penny -- and then some -- went into savings or paying down debts. Consumer spending, on which Barack Obama is betting to stimulate the economy, actually fell. None of the stimulus money was sent. None.

2. Meanwhile, to pay for this stimulus spending that didn't stimulate, Obama had to borrow so much money that long-term interest rates have almost doubled since he took office, forcing postponement or abandonment of business expansion and hiring across the board.
The stimulus package was a total and complete failure. As predicted, as happened with Bush's 2008 tax cut, as happened with the Japanese stimulus packages of the '90s, fearful consumers sat on their money and wouldn't spend it. Keynesian economics didn't work. Again.
Consumers are not idiots. They know that when their paycheck is fatter -- either because of tax cuts or government spending -- that it is not the beginning of Nirvana, but just a short-term, one-shot respite from hard times. They know the difference between standing in front of an electric fan and a windy day.

Barack Obama has fatally undermined our currency, our solvency, our financial stability and -- ultimately -- our economy, all to spend money that has had no economic effect!

* According to Rich Tucker, 75% of Americans live in suburbs, but the government thinks that's a bad thing. And if government thinks you're doing something you shouldn't they'll create rules and laws to make sure you do what government wants.

We’d all like to think Washington has bigger problems to worry about than whether we make one trip or two to pick up, say, groceries and prescription medicine.

But, just for the sake of argument, consider the fact that it’s much easier to “combine errands” in suburbia than it is in Manhattan. With one trip to the Super Target, one can pick up everything from food to clothing to entertainment. That would require at least three separate stops in a city, imposing a much higher cost in both time and money.

Still, if Washington gets its way, we’ll have more people packed into smaller spaces.

Tucker also details how the Energy Department’s 2008 Buildings Energy Data Book, which purports to show how apartment living is better than owning a home, failed to take into account the energy costs of common areas including lobbies and parking lots. When those shared areas are included, apartment living is far less efficient than the report claims.

* George Will has a great column on the contradiction between the words and the actions when it comes to President Barack Obama's statements regarding General Motors. Despite saying he doesn't want to run the car company, that's exactly what he's doing.

And Congress will be sure to be part of the act, as well, as they insist upon adding their own dictates under the guise of a 'responsibility' to oversee how public dollars are spent. After all, this approach has been sooooo successful with Amtrak - right?

* If Chrysler gets bought out by Fiat, is it still an American company? Honda builds cars in Marysville, OH, and local UAW members will tell you the cars built there are 'not really' American cars since they're owned by a foreign company. Will that claim still be true when Fiat buys Chrysler? Or will they conveniently change their definition of 'American company'?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The 65th anniversary of D-Day

When I was growing up, we'd come down for breakfast and my dad would ask: Do you know what today is?

That early in the morning, we'd think we were awake if we could get the day of the week right ... but over time, it became a sort of game to figure out what happened in history on the given day that would generate the question.

Today is the 65th Anniversary of D-Day - or "Operation Overlord," the codename for the invasion of Normandy. It actually started around midnight on June 5th with airborne divisions parachuting in behind enemy lines. In the early morning hours, bombardments began. Around daybreak, landings on the beaches started. By night, the Allies had secured their position on the beaches, but it was a precarious one and came at the cost of 9,500 casualties.

For days, the battle continued, with the eventual success of the U.S. and her allies.

The world is forever grateful to those who served and those whose graves mark the location of that valiant fight.

For more information about the battles of that day, I suggest "The Atlantic Wall" by Brian Williams and the Army's D-Day page.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Point Place Parade

Tomorrow is the Point Place Days Parade, one of the best parades in the area. Here are the scheduled events:

Saturday, June 6
•9 a.m. to 4 p.m., food beverage and rummage sale by the seniors at Friendship Center, and Placers Car and Truck Show at Friendship Park.

•10 a.m., Dress Your Pet and Decorate Your Bike contests at Ottawa River Automotive.

•Noon, parade on Summit Street begins with a fly-over by the St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center Life Flight. Parade route is along Summit Street, starting at 108th St., and then down 131st St. ending at Friendship Park.

•1:30 to 3 p.m., fingerprinting by Toledo Police at Friendship Center entrance.
•Chicken barbecue at American Legion Post 110

•2 to 5 p.m., free bicycle inspection and repair at CrossPoint Community Church.

The mayor's 'confidential' memo

Yesterday on WSPD, we talked about the March memo Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre sent to Mayor Carty Finkbeiner detailing the impact of police layoffs and how he planned to re-organize the department.

That memo is here:

Finkbeiner's 'confidential' response, getting the facts wrong and telling Navarre to rewrite the memo to make it sound better, is here:

Chief Navarre's response, disputing the mayor's position and opposing police layoffs, is here:

As I said last night on Eye On Toledo, there are only certain documents that can actually be considered 'confidential' under Ohio law. This memo to the police chief is not one of them. It's a public document that anyone could request and view - and which the public has every right to see.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Brunner rejects LCRP request to change Board of Elections members

I've previously written about the request made to Ohio's Secretary of State by the Lucas County Republican Party Executive Committee to remove Patrick Kriner from the Board of Elections and replace him with LCRP Chairman Jon Stainbrook.

Here is her response:

Jennifer Brunner
Ohio Secretary of State
TEL: 1-877-767-6446 FAX: 1-6 1 4-644-O649

June 3,2009
Via U.S. Mail & E-mail (admin@lucascountygop.org)
Hans Schnapp
Secretary, Lucas County Republican Party
10 S. Superior
Toledo, Ohio 43604

Re: Appointment of Patrick Kriner

Dear Mr. Schnapp:

This letter is in response to your letter of May 29, 2009, sent by you in your capacity as Secretary to the Lucas County Republican Party Executive Committee, and received by this office on June 2, 2009. In your letter, you request that I "appoint Jon Stainbrook to the vacant position as a member of the Lucas County Board of Elections * * * by the close of business on June 3, 2009." You enclosed with your letter a completed Form No. 301 (Recommendation for Unexpired Term Appointment of Member of Board of Elections) and Form No. 302 (Questionnaire for Prospective Appointment as a Member of the Lucas County Board of Elections).

This office has not received a resignation letter from Mr. Kriner or any other documentation of a vacancy on the Lucas County Board of Elections. R.C.3501.07 provides that the executive committee of a county party may meet and recommend a qualified elector to serve on the board of elections within fifteen days after a vacancy occurs on the board.' Because no vacancy existed when the party met on May 28, 2009 and recommended Mr. Stainbrook to serve on the board, the party's recommendation is premature and must be rejected as a matter of law.

The records of this office reflect that, on January 19, 2008, the Lucas County Republican Party Executive Committee recommended the re-appointment of Patrick Ki'iner to a full term on the Lucas County Board of Elections. In accordance with this recommendation and with the appointment procedure established in RC.3501.07,1 appointed Mr. Kriner to serve a four-year term on the board beginning March 1, 2008. The forms filed by die Lucas County Republican Party Executive Committee with this office in connection with the recommendation of Mr. Kriner were, on their face, proper, and I was not aware of any facts that brought Mr. Kriner's competence into question. For the past sixteen months since the filing of the recommendation, neither you nor anyone else has raised with this office any concerns regarding either the process by which Mr. Kriner received the party's recommendation for the appointment or Mr. Kriner's service on the board.

It appears from reading the January 20, 2008 Toledo Blade article included with your letter that Mr. Stainbrook may have contemporaneously raised with the party an objection to the party's recommendation process. However, to my knowledge, Mr. Stainbrook did not, prior to the date of Mr. Kriner's appointment, raise an objection with this office or seek from the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas injunctive relief to enforce Ohio's Open Meetings Act as authorized by R.C.121.22(I).2

As Secretary of State, I do have the authority to remove members of boards of elections, including Mr. Kriner, for "neglect of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, for any willful violation of Title XXXV of the Revised Code, or for any other good and sufficient cause. * * R.C.3501.16. You assert that the process by which the party recommended Mr. Kriner for the appointment violated the Open Meetings Act and that this is "good and sufficient cause" for me to remove him from the board. The Revised Code does not, however, vest in me the authority to adjudicate legal issues arising under the Open Meetings Act. Nor has Mr. Kriner had the opportunity to present any facts or arguments that he might wish to be considered concerning the issues you raise.

Even assuming, arguendo, that errors or irregularities occurred during the party's January 2008 recommendation process in violation of Ohio's Sunshine Laws, Mr. Kriner is, at a minimum, a de facto member of the Lucas County Board of Elections. Moreover, because Mr. Kriner held the position on the board prior to the recommendation process in question, Ohio law requires that Mr. Kriner continue to serve until a successor has been duly appointed. R.C.3.01.3

For the reasons stated herein, and in the absence of a judicial determination to the contrary, I decline at this time to remove Mr. Kriner from the Lucas County Board of Elections. Unless and until a vacancy occurs on the board, I cannot appoint Mr. Stainbrook to a position on the board as you request.

Sincerely yours,

Jennifer Brunner

1 R.C.3501.07 states:
[a]t a meeting held * * * within fifteen days after a vacancy occurs in the board, the county executive committee of the major political party entitled to the appointment may make and file a recommendation with the secretary of state for the appointment of a qualified elector. The secretary of state shall appoint such elector, unless he has reason to believe that the elector would not be a competent member of such board. * * *If no such recommendation is made, the secretary of state shall make the appointment. (Emphasis added.)

2R.C.i2i.22(I) provides as follows:
[a]ny person may bring an action to enforce this section [Ohio's Open Meetings Act]. An action under division (I)(i) of this section shall be brought within two years after the date of the alleged violation or threatened violation. Upon proof of a violation or threatened violation of this section in an action brought by any person, the court of common pleas shall issue an injunction to compel the members of the public body to comply with its provisions.

3 "A person holding an office of public trust shall continue therein until his successor is elected or appointed and qualified, unless otherwise provided in the constitution or laws of this state."

(cross posted on Eye On Toledo page)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Street cleaners - but no cops

It's 8:38 a.m. and a city worker on a street sweeper/cleaning machine has just passed in front of my house - twice (once going in each direction).

Now, I don't know if this 'service' is part of the assessed fees I'm charged on my property taxes, or if it's funded through something other than the general fund.

What I do know is that most people won't stop to ask about the source of funding for this particular task, but will wonder just why it is that their street can be swept but the city has a budget deficit of $27 million that has been reduced to around $15 million by laying off workers, including 75 police officers.

They will rightly wonder about the priorities of a city that can find the ability to sweep streets but not fund cops - or cut down the large dead trees on the public property on some of those same streets being cleaned.

And when the politicians tell us that they've 'cut everywhere they possibly can' and that 'there's nowhere else to cut,' the citizens who've had their streets swept will not believe them.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Walleye and Bullfrogs tickets to go on sale

This in via email:

Toledo Walleye Hockey Club
Official Press Release
406 Washington Street Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: (419) 725-WALL Fax: (419) 725-4368


For Immediate Release

Toledo Walleye/Bullfrogs Mini-Plan Ticket Packages To Go On Sale!

Mini-plan options for all fans and every budget…

TOLEDO, OH - The Toledo Walleye hockey team and Toledo Bullfrogs football team are pleased to announce the sale of mini-plan ticket packages.

Mini-plans will be available beginning Thursday, June 4 at 9:00 a.m. by phone at (419) 725-WALL or online at www.toledowalleye.com/miniplans and www.toledobullfrogs.com/miniplans.

Assistant General Manager, Erik Ibsen said, “Club seats and full season tickets plans continue to be quite popular and we are pleased with the progress. We have had many inquiries about partial ticket plans and we are excited for the next step of the process. The plans that we have constructed are sure to fit every fan’s interest and budget.”

Fans can guarantee the best available seats to the most popular games during the hockey and arena football seasons.

Mini-plan options for the Toledo Walleye and Toledo Bullfrogs:

18 Walleye Regular Season Games
8 Bullfrogs Regular Season Games
26 Total Games
**Guaranteed seats to Opening Night for Walleye and Bullfrogs

9 Walleye Regular Season Games
4 Bullfrogs Regular Season Games
13 Total Games
Entered into a lottery for Opening Night Walleye and Bullfrogs tickets

18 Walleye Regular Season Games
8 Walleye Playoff Games
26 Total Games
**Guaranteed seats to Opening Night for Walleye

9 Walleye Regular Season Games
4 Walleye Playoff Games
13 Total Games
Entered into a lottery for Opening Night Walleye tickets

For more information, call (419) 725-WALL (9255), visit the Walleye website at www.toledowalleye.com/miniplans or the Bullfrogs website at www.toledobullfrogs.com/minplans.

The Toledo Walleye will hit the ice at the brand new Downtown Arena in October of this year!

The Toledo Bullfrogs will take the field at the arena in March of 2010.
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