Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thank you, Frank Szollosi

Last night, Toledo City Council was scheduled to vote - again - on an increase in the trash tax.

Rather than have a 6-6 tie with Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to break the vote (and he would have supported the tax increase as a way to help balance the budget), Councilman Frank Szollosi walked out. In doing so, he drew the ire of Council President Joe McNamara, who supports the tax. According to WTOL,

McNamara would not be moved, saying, "Members of council are elected to come to meetings and vote. And that's the basic bare requirement of our job and so it's disappointing that anyone would duck a vote."

I don't believe Szollosi was ducking a vote, but taking advantage of the only option left to him to prevent a tax increase.

According to 13ABC:

"If I can stop a tax increase from making life more difficult for thousands of Toledo families by stepping out, I'm going to do it," says Szollosi.

But if you'll remember, the last time this was voted upon, it was defeated 5-6 and Szollosi was going to vote no. The numbers don't add up. So what happened?

According to The Blade,

On Sept. 1, council voted down the trash fee increase, with five in favor and six against. Voting in favor of the trash fee increase and rewards program were Mr. McNamara, Wilma Brown, Phillip Copeland, George Sarantou, and Steven Steel.

Voting against were Mr. (D. Michael) Collins, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, Mike Craig, and Betty Shultz.

So if everyone had voted the same way, and Szollosi voted no, it would have be 5 in favor and 7 against.

The paper reports:

Mrs. Brown said last night she intended to change her vote to yes, which would have made the split six in favor of the increase and six opposed.

Mrs. Shultz said she did not think through the increase when it came up for a vote four weeks ago and also that she did not want to leave a legacy that included a "bankrupt city."

I believe the paper has mis-identified the person who was going to change their vote - reporting it was Wilman Brown when they meant Betty Shultz. (This was corrected after my blog post.)

And I find it inconceivable that Betty was going to change her vote, especially because the city would still be bankrupt in 2009, even if this tax increase had been approved.

As Frank explained: "There are so many people hurting in this city, the last thing they need is for the city and the mayor to reach into their pockets more when we have failed to live within our means."

The best part of the actions last night was reported by 13ABC:

13abc's Christine Long: "Any idea when it will come back?"

McNamara: "No. I think it's probably done this year, unless council members change their minds, I think the trash fee change is dead."

So thank you to the council members who remained steadfast in their opposition to tax increases: D Michael Collins, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, and Mike Craig.

And thank you to Frank Szollosi who used every means possible to prevent this unprecedented tax increase.

Quote of the Day

Passed along to me by a friend:

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." ~ Cicero 55 BC

What have we learned in 2,064 years?

Evidently nothing!

It's theft - even though we get 'ours'

H.R. 3548, The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, will extend unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks. This is on top of the 26 weeks most states already have provided and the 53 weeks the federal government extended to the unemployed because of the recession.

But, unlike the previous actions, the money in this bill will only go to states with over 8% unemployment, Ohio included. That means that taxpayers from across the nation, including those of us here in Ohio, will be paying.

However, only people in 29 of the 50 states will get these funds. If you're in the other 21 states, you're out of luck - even if you, too, are unemployed.

Votes results show that Marcy Kaptur voted in favor of the bill, but that Bob Latta voted against it. Sadly, 104 so-called Republicans thought this was a good idea...

The other 28 states, besides Ohio, getting these monies: AL, AZ, CA, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, ME, MI, MS, MO, NV, NJ, NY, NC, PA, OR, PR, RI, SC, TN, WA, WV, and WI.

So if you're in a state not listed, you're going to subsidize the bad decisions of governments elsewhere.

This is not just re-distribution of wealth; it's theft from the states that have made the hard decisions that resulted in them weathering this downturn better than others. What a nice 'reward' for being fiscally prudent - to have your citizens taxed so others can have the fruits of your labors.

What happens when ALL the states have unemployment above 8%? How will the wealth be redistributed then???

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Important to remember

Just remember:

Every single council member who votes in favor of increasing the trash tax is saying that they - and Toledo government - need your money more than you do.

The election for at-large council is November 3!

Treasury Dept. faces lawsuit for non-disclosure of cap-and-tax costs

This in via email:

Obama Treasury Dept Still Hiding Info on Global Warming ‘Cap-and-Tax’ Costs

Admissions of Job Losses & Hundreds of Billions in Cost Insufficient; CEI to Sue

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2009— The Competitive Enterprise Institute today notified the Treasury Department of CEI’s intent to sue for the administration’s inadequate disclosure of documents addressing its expectations of and intentions for a global warming “cap-and-trade” plan. CEI’s notice of intent to sue was contained in an appeal filed today with the agency.

The cost estimates running as high as $300 billion per year contained in the few documents released by Treasury two weeks ago set off a political firestorm. Such cost estimates were far above the government’s public estimates and previously hidden from the public. The higher figures and other expected impacts were revealed only after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents request by CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner.

The agency responded to CEI’s requests, after months of delay, by producing a mere five documents. Initially, even those documents were released with politically embarrassing portions blacked out. Days later, the same documents were re-released without the blacked out portions, but still not in their entirety.

“Your response fails any reasonable test for compliance with FOIA and constitutes an effective denial of our request,” stated Horner, in the notice of appeal filed today.

Documents released by Treasury on September 18 revealed:

* Internal agency estimates of a crushing blow to manufacturing jobs and that a global warming cap-and-trade plan could hit $300 billion annually, while raising billions in revenue to fund various programs.

* Treasury estimates that “domestic policies to address climate change and the related issues of energy security and affordability will involve significant costs and potential revenues, possibly up to several percentage points of annual GDP (i.e. equal in size to the corporate income tax).”; and that

* Treasury believes that carbon regulation “may result in loss of domestic and international market shares for U.S. companies, and relocation of U.S. firms abroad, representing both a political problem and an environmental problem” singling out how “energy-intensive sectors, such as the steel, aluminum, paper, chemicals, and cement industries, where imports are ready substitutes and lower carbon technologies are not widely available, are clearly vulnerable.”
(emphasis added)

Heeding President Obama’s call for such a scheme, a cap-and-trade plan already passed the House as part of the Waxman-Markey bill. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass) plan to introduce their version this week. Both approaches require Americans to purchase energy use “allowances” and amount to a large tax on energy and the cost of all goods, given the energy required to produce and bring them to market. As a candidate, Obama expressed his intention to use cap-and-trade to cause Americans’ energy costs to “necessarily skyrocket.”

Treasury’s response to date and CEI’s Appeal and Notice of Intent to Sue reveal how the administration is still not being straight with Congress and the American people about this.

> Read more about CEI’s Appeal and Notice of Intent to Sue

It's kindergarten time in the Obama administration

First it was Energy Secretary Steven Chu calling Americans 'teenagers' and telling us we needed to be treated as such - a topic I discussed on air when filling in for Brian Wilson last week on WSPD.

Now it's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, saying that a war-crimes dictator just needs a little milk and cookies and all will be well.

"We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration, who was appointed in March. "Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."

Is this guy serious????

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted in March by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Gration, in many stops, is urging the people to 'trust the government.'

This is just another example of the Obama administration emboldening our enemies while alienating our friends - and doing so in such a kindergarten manner that Obama's goal of 'changing the world's perception of us' is likely to be achieved, though not in a way that is good for America.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Commissioners have no authority to interfere in YMCA

According to a story in today's paper, the residents who want to save the South Toledo YMCA from closure want the Lucas County Commissioners to form a task force that will examine the finances of the organization.

The only problem is that county commissioners have no such authority.

There is nothing in the Ohio Constitution or Revised Code that gives a board of commissioners the authority to examine the books, receipts, expenditures, etc... of a private organization.

A resolution submitted earlier in the month to the BCC to establish a task force was tabled. The Commissioner used the Zoo Task Force as a reason for this action. However, the Zoo is a different animal, so to speak. As a quasi-governmental entity, it exists solely to provide zoological services, under contract with the County, in accordance with the ORC. The YMCA doesn't. (Even then, I voted against the terms of the contract with the Zoo that mandated government appointments to that board because I believed it was outside the authority of the Commissioners to do so.)

The YMCA is a private organization and while they do get some public dollars for certain programs, those programs already have financial oversight and auditing, as required by the contract for those limited programs. If the YMCA did not bid to provide such programs, it would, unlike the Zoo Board, still exist.

The Commissioners should reject any request to interfere in the operations of a private organization - no matter what a few neighbors may think - and, in doing so, should remind that public that government is not always the solution to their problems nor a hammer to be used to force others to conform to a small minority's wants or desires.

However, should the Commissioners bow to the limited public pressure and attempt to exceed their authority, the YMCA should refuse to comply with any such efforts. If the Y allows a government-formed group to examine their internal, private information, they set the stage for other similar intrusions in the future. Such a precedent (and it will be a precedent) will enable the Commissioners and other governmental bodies to expect compliance with such encroachments in the future.

This cannot be allowed. All citizens, business owners, board members and others who do not want to see the heavy hand of government exceed its parameters should vigorously oppose this meddling, overstepping of authority.

Contact information for the Commissioners:

Pete Gerken:
Tina Skeldon Wozniak:
Ben Konop:
Phone number: 419-213-4500

Suprise! Youth unemployment skyrockets

This really shouldn't be a surprise, but the Labor Department is reporting that unemployment rates among youth have reached a post-WWII high of 52.2%. This story in the New York Post, however, never mentions one of the key contributors to this high rate: increased minimum wages.

It only makes sense that, when unemployment is high in general, as it is now during these recessionary times, employers are going to want the most for their money. Youth workers are the most unskilled, with the least experience. It's just common sense that a government mandate to pay a set amount will cause employers to want to get the most value for that wage, seeking out potential employees with attributes that provide that value - meaning older workers who have some level of skill and experience.

James Sherk, from The Heritage Foundation, arguing for a delay in the planned increase back in July, wrote:

On July 24, the minimum wage increase Congress passed two years ago will enter its final phase, increasing the cost of hiring unskilled workers by 10 percent. Economic research demonstrates that higher minimum wages come at the cost of higher unemployment for low-skilled workers, but when Congress passed the minimum wage increase unemployment was low. Now, in the middle of a deep recession, unemployment has risen sharply for the least skilled workers. Wage growth has flattened since the start of the year. This minimum wage increase will artificially increase costs for struggling businesses at exactly the wrong time. And as a result, it will cost 300,000 teenagers and young adults their jobs.
Most minimum wage research confirms this effect: Two-thirds of recent minimum wage studies find that it reduces employment, with the overwhelming majority of the most rigorous studies reaching this conclusion.

While it's hard to separate the various causes of high unemployment during a recession, one cannot ignore the fact that the increased minimum wage had some impact, contributing negatively to the other recessionary impacts.

Those who support increased minimum wages say this is a 'moral' thing to do ... that 'ensuring decent wages' for all is the proper role of government. However, such beliefs defy reason when you see that the result is higher unemployment for the unskilled and the youth - the very groups such higher minimum rates are supposed to help.

And that's in a normal economy. In a recession/down economy, the negative impact is even greater. But watch politicians campaign on the 'gift' of a higher wages that they've so generously 'given' to us, while ignoring the actual results of their actions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

Passed on to me by a friend - I do not know the author...

"The American Flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American Flag flies from the last breath of each Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine who has died protecting it."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Costs, facts ignored in Blade editorial on passenger rail

Today's Blade editorial, Keep Toledo On Track, continues the paper's editorial position in favor of passenger rail service across the state.

However, it ignores a very key point, reported in their own news pages: the cost!

"The study projected revenue of $12 million a year, with Ohio having to kick in an additional $17 million operating subsidy."(emphasis added)

Strangely, the editorial proudly mentions the yearly projected revenue (though it never questions the lack of accuracy found in most government revenue projections) but doesn't bother to include the critical data that comes from Amtrak: that Ohio taxpayers will have to pay nearly 60% of the yearly cost of the system!

I talked about this on WSPD this week when I was filling in for Brian Wilson on the Afternoon Drive, so if you listened, this may be a bit of repetition - but it's a point that needs to be made repeatedly.

How can anyone - elected officials, citizens, newspaper editorial boards - possibly support a project that would require the taxpayers to foot so much of the cost, especially during this economy and with many government entities facing huge deficits???? Even in a good economy, this is a bad idea since there are other existing needs in the state that could - and should - come before a new expense.

Where will the $17 million a year come from?

It can only come from us - the taxpayers of the state.

And that $17 million is just a guess. When was the last time you heard of a government program coming in at projected costs? Of course, the $17 million is only what they project at the start - as time goes on, that cost will increase ... continually.

There's another point in the editorial designed to skew your perspective: usage.

According to the paper, "478,000 people would patronize the new service in its first year." However, the study actually predicts 478,000 riders - which means that a single person making numerous trips does not count as 'one' - but rather counts as however many trips made or tickets purchased, the same way our TARTA system counts patronage. So the number of people who actually use the rail service would have to be no more than 239,000 because each person who got on a train to go somewhere would probably have to return home as well: one person, but two 'riders.'

We don't need another huge cost in the yearly state budget, especially when less than 2% of the state will be the beneficiaries.

It boggles the mind how anyone could support such a boondoggle when you weigh the exorbitant costs and the extremely small number of people served.

Ohioans need to say NO! to this expensive, unrealistic, and completely unnecessary project.

FOIA Friday - September 5, 2009

It's been a while since I've done a FOIA Friday - for a number of reasons - but my friend and fellow blogger, Bob Weeks, who writes at Wichita Liberty, has a post worthy of a FOIA Friday highlight.

You see, Wichita is in the process of selecting a firm to plan its downtown development. Now, Toledo could teach Wichita a thing or two about what NOT to do when it comes to downtown development, but that's not the point.

They've set public meetings during which the final four firms will make their presentations. Wanting to be prepared for the public meeting, Bob asked for copies of the proposals. He was told he couldn't have them, even though a select group of citizens had already received them.

And Bob's point was critical: how could citizens provide input about the selection process and the best company to hire if they couldn't read the proposals ahead of time - especially when the price tag for the plan was $475,000?

Bob wasn't the only one denied access to the records. As the Wichita Eagle reported:

"Bob Weeks, a blogger who runs, asked for the proposals more than two weeks ago.

The city denied his request, saying the proposals wouldn't be public until the City Council accepted one or rejected them all.

The Eagle got the same response and began questioning why the proposals that had already been circulated to non-city employees would be sealed.

The Eagle contended that the proposals should be public and that releasing them fits with the city's stated mission to be more transparent and make downtown's future a public process.

Layton said the city was concerned that releasing the proposals before the consultants gave presentations Tuesday and Wednesday could interfere with the competitive process since each would have access to the other's proposal.

But he agreed that making the proposals public could improve the process by giving more people a chance to review them and give informed opinions.

Weeks said he wanted to review the proposals before the presentations in public meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.

He got to see them Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before the second meeting."

The Eagle later opined:

"They can choose, as the city has now done, to release the information. And they should realize that doing so is in their best interests, as it can lead to better results.

By being open, governments allow the public to be part of the process and provide input. When that happens, the public tends to have more support for and confidence in the final decisions. Without such openness, the opposite tends to happen."

Because of the efforts of a Bob Weeks, and the support of the local paper, all the citizens in Wichita finally got access to the public records and were able to provide direction to their public servants - and that's the way it should be.

Thanks, Bob, for your continued efforts!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one’s self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all." ~ Michael Rivero

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toledo and Pittsburgh - two peas in a pod

The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, both owned by Block Communications, interviewed President Barack Obama in advance of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.

Pres. Obama had nice things to say about Pittsburgh and the change that's taken place in that city.

"Well, first of all, I think this is a recognition that Pittsburgh is a world-class city, that it represents the transition of the U.S. economy from an industrial state to a mix of strong industry — steel — but also now biotech and clean energy. It has transformed itself after some very tough times into a city that's competing in the world economy."

This is an appropriate thing for a visitor to a location to do, so I do not fault the president for giving the city a compliment.

However, Bill Steigerwald has a different perspective. Currently retired, Steigerwald was born and raised in Pittsburgh and has been a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. His perspective:

"We're grateful that federal taxpayers will pick up most of the $20 million-plus tab for extra security personnel. But we hope you didn't pick us to host the G-20 because you think we could afford it or because you really believe, as you recently said, that Pittsburgh is "a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy."

That sounds sweet to local boosters' ears, Mr. President. But it's not really what Pittsburgh is. In the real world, Mr. President, this city is what urbanologists and economists technically refer to as "a basket case."
Pittsburgh's "eds & meds" economy isn't booming or busting: it's stuck in the same stagnant-to-slowly-growing mini-recession we've been in since we pioneered deindustrialization in the 1970s.

The city you chose to host the G-20, Mr. President, is in fact bankrupt and in state receivership because of decades of chronic mismanagement, stupidity and generous pension deals that previous generations of political hacks promised their employees but couldn't pay for.

For at least the last 30 years, Pittsburgh's power brokers have wasted billions of federal and state tax money on a series of destructive urban renewal schemes, redevelopment boondoggles and wasteful mass-transit projects.

Almost everything new and shiny that you and Michelle will see in downtown Pittsburgh or on its riverbanks was built with government money or millions in taxpayer subsidies - whether it was PNC Financial Service's almost completed downtown skyscraper or the new homes of the Pirates, Steelers and (soon) the Penguins.

That kind of government intervention may not bother you and your crew of czars. But if you and Michelle get a chance to stroll around downtown this week, look for the big hole in the street in front of Fifth Avenue Place. You can hardly miss it.

That hole - part of a construction site that has ripped up parts of downtown for several years -- symbolizes everything that's wrong with Pittsburgh.

It is the downtown end of the infamous North Shore Connector, a 1.2-mile transit tunnel that was built under the Allegheny River to where the pro baseball and football palaces are. We un-affectionately call it our "Tunnel to Nowhere."

Our wise Democrat and Republican politicians, 1960's-era planners and mass-transit apologists thought the tunnel would be a swell way to waste at least $600 million in "free" federal and state money to carry fewer than 10,000 humans a day back and forth across (under) the river."

I was struck by the similarities to Toledo.

While not in bankruptcy - yet - Toledo still has an $8 million budget deficit to address for 2009 and a projected 2010 deficit of as much as $25 million which, like Pittsburgh, is the result of "decades of chronic mismanagement, stupidity and generous pension deals that previous generations of political hacks promised their employees but couldn't pay for."

We, too, have many government-funded or -subsidized projects in our downtown, including the Steam Plant and debt on several converted housing/condo projects (think Commodore Perry). We even have a soon-to-open completely publicly-funded arena.

And though we do not have a 'tunnel to nowhere,' we currently have a 'road to nowhere' in the Marina District, combined with multiple missed payments by the developer - all of which are topics in a City Council Economic Development Committee meeting this afternoon.

Toledo, like Pittsburgh, for the last 30 years or so has "wasted billions of federal and state tax money on a series of destructive urban renewal schemes, (and) redevelopment boondoggles."

Don't get me wrong - there are good things about both cities. I was in Pittsburgh recently for a conference and stayed at a hotel in Station Square, an area that reminded me of The Docks here in Toledo. The people I met were as friendly as the ones in Toledo - a hallmark distinction of a Midwestern city. Both cities proudly rejoice in our ethnic neighborhoods, traditions and festivals and both have 'affordable' housing and relatively good costs of living.

But those things only make the negatives a bit more tolerable. They do not overcome the years of "chronic mismanagement, (and) stupidity" that make many people want to leave for better locations.

Sadly, our recent voter turnout of 18.45% and the appearance of the same old familiar names in the primary do not bode well for a different future. As my husband likes to say: Toledo is like a drug addict that hasn't hit rock bottom yet to know it needs to change.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toledo Blade fails to 'fact-check' Obama claims

Yesterday on WSPD, we talked about the interview our local paper, The Blade, did with President Barack Obama in advance of the G20 Summit. One of the questions had to do with the future of the newspaper industry and Obama said:

"I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding."

However, in the same interview, Obama uttered a two bald-faced lies:

"When I came into office, we were losing 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen so that small businesses and large businesses alike couldn't borrow. You couldn't get an auto loan even if you had good credit. People were losing their homes at an extraordinary pace."(emphasis mine)

As this chart from the Wall Street Journal shows, people were buying cars and getting car loans in January when he was sworn in (though the numbers were down), yet the editors and reporters never questioned this statement.

They never 'fact-checked' the claim. And when a president compliments your industry on doing just that, don't you think you should?

Here's another 'fact' that didn't get checked: "losing 700,000 jobs per month."

According to, job losses in November 2008 were 584,000 and job losses in December 2008 were 524,000. Total losses for the months of September and October 2008 were 792,000, so clearly neither month was '700,000.'

U.S. News and World Report says that the January 2009 job losses were 598,000, while the New York Times reported February 2009 job losses of 651,000.

So when the president said we were losing 700,000 jobs per month when he came into office, was he lying? Or just, perhaps, exaggerating?

Regardless, why was there no 'fact-checking' of his numbers and claims?

The "fact" is that much of the checking occurring today is being done by the blogosphere, just like I have with these two examples.

It was the blogosphere that fact-checked and exposed the faked memos about George W. Bush's National Guard service which was reported by Dan Rather and later became known as Rathergate.

It's been bloggers and Glenn Beck who've exposed the extreme positions of the various czars appointed by Obama. And there are terrific websites that focus on investigative reporting. One of them, Texas Watchdog, not only 'watches' government, but helps train bloggers and reporters so they can learn how to "uncover waste, fraud and corruption in state and local governments."

One reason many newspapers are seeing a decline in circulation and many television news networks see their numbers falling is because of this very 'fact.' They've stopped 'reporting' and started spending too much time 'putting stories in context' for us - telling us what we should think about events rather than reporting the facts so we can decide on our own. As a result, people have turned to other outlets, like blogs, for additional information so they can make an informed decision and not rely upon some talking head reading from a teleprompter.

Then there are events like Wolf Blitzer's appearance on the Celebrity Jeopardy charity tournament. Blitzer is the anchor for CNN's The Situation Room and the lead political reporter for CNN. Yet despite his vast experience and knowledge, he finished the easy-question Jeopardy episode in the hole - significantly - with a score of minus $4,600.

Is this the type of person Obama thinks we need to 'trust' to put news stories into context for us?

As the examples I've documented above prove, it is arrogant and pretentious to think that only the main stream media can provide the type of news coverage that fulfills the function of a free and independent press and helps keep our governments in check.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Municipalized trash is 'uncivilized'

I came across this great article on the municipal monopoly of trash pickup and wanted to share it with you...certainly food for thought!

Some excerpts:

Municipalized Trash: It's Uncivilized
Mises Daily by Jeffrey A. Tucker

"Humanity has some experience with the results of failing to dispose of trash properly, and that experience is deadly."Driving into work today, I saw garbage bins overflowing and city dumpsters spilling out with trash. It stinks. It's disgusting. It's uncivilized. It's probably dangerous to some extent.

It's a holiday, so of course the government workers charged with picking up this nasty refuse can't work, even though construction workers in private firms are busy bees taking advantage of the extra time.

It's true with house trash too: pickup is once per week — on schedule — and there is nothing you can do to make it more frequent. It's part of the master plan, don't you know, and if you make more trash than the once-per-week pickup can contain, that is your problem, not the city's.

The very fear that people have about private trash collection — that it will pile up and no one will do anything about it — turns out to be a regular feature of government trash collection. But we look the other way. Why?


And we put up with this for the same reason that we put up with lost mail, potholes in roads, dilapidated schools, depreciated money, and a clogged court system: because these services are monopolized by government.

Now you can make all the public-goods arguments you want to about roads and courts, but trash disposal is not rocket science and could be easily handled by the market. Everyone wants trash removed, and the sooner the better.

That means that there is a market demand for the service. There is money to be made. The only way to keep something like this at bay is to make it illegal.

If the market were in charge, pickup would surely be more than once per week. We wouldn't have to drag our trash bins out to the curb. In fact, we would be faced with several or many possible options for trash pickup.

If we made more trash than we "should," we wouldn't get angry notes from the city government. The private pickup companies would be thrilled. We might be paying by frequency of pickup or perhaps by the pound. That would be for the market to decide.

In fact, trash pickup services might actually be characterized by — perish the thought — innovation, just as they were in the early part of the 20th century, when trash collection was mostly private. Our houses might be directly connected to underground trash-transmission services that would whisk it all away in an instant. Our kitchens might have highly effective trash chutes that would zap away trash as we make it.

But because of this ghastly tradition of municipalizing trash pickup (or we might call it Sovietizing), the entire industry is stuck in the past, utterly impervious to improvement and modernization.

We get our news through fiber optics, walk around with tiny wireless phones that can instantly connect with anyone anywhere, and shop digitally with any vendor in the world. But when it comes to trash, we are still relying on once-per-week, strictly scheduled pickups by tax-funded workers driving monstrous, old-model trucks.

In my town, even the trashcans are paid for and owned by the government, as if the private sector has yet to figure out on its own initiative how to make a tub for holding things.


It seems like a preposterously unobjectionable plan: open this system to private ownership and competition, and thereby innovation.

I don't just mean contracting out. I mean abolishing city trash pickup and letting private enterprise completely take over.

Quotes of the Day

"If the Constitution is adopted the Union will be in fact and in theory an asociation of States of a Confederacy." ~ Alexander Hamilton

"Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their own posterity's liberty!" ~ Samuel Adams

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wood County to be designated a 'recovery zone'

This just in via email from Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown:

I just wanted to give you notice that on Monday, September 21, 2009, the Wood County Board of Commissioners will hold a special session of the Board to enact a resolution to designate all of Wood County as a recovery zone. Our meeting will take place at 10:00 a.m. in the Courthouse Atrium. You and any citizen or business owner you may know is welcome to attend.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a county determined to meet certain criteria may designate a recovery zone. The purpose is to enable political subdivisions who may need to advance a tax financed project to access $8,835,000 in Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds and private business entities to access $13,253,000 in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.

At the meeting our Bond Counsel will explain the particulars of the program to the media and interested citizens and answer any technical questions that individuals may have.

This designation will make available tools that may reduce the cost of local public projects and assist local businesses that will ultimately lead our region and State to economic recovery.

Light postings this week

Just a heads-up that this week I may not be posting as much as I normally do because I'll be filling in for Brian Wilson on the afternoon drive from 3-6 p.m. on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD.

I'm looking forward to being back on the radio for a bit and re-connecting with the WSPD listeners.

But doing a 3-hour radio show requires a lot of prep work, so the blog will be a lower priority, though I will probably write about the things I don't have time to mention on the show.

I hope you'll tune and join me! If you're not in the Toledo region, you can listen live via the internet.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oh, the irony!

For decades, we've listened to politicians in the Toledo area tell us how terrible our electric and gas suppliers are. They're overcharging, we're told. We have the highest utility rates in the entire state, they say. These are evil companies who are too greedy to give us lower rates, they bemoan.

But when one of those 'terrible, evil, greedy' companies comes through with some grant money - $3.2 million - that can help save the city and erase almost half of the 2009 deficit?

What then? Will those same politicians refuse to take the money that was obtained by 'overcharging' the residents? I doubt it!

They'll probably justify it by saying 'some good' is coming from the high rates. Of course, that overlooks the point that the 'good' came from the rate payers, but is going to the government. But that's how most liberals think it should be, so that wouldn't be much of surprise.

There's actually more to this story than meets the eye, though. The 'grant' is in exchange for a six-year extension of the contract nine jurisdictions have with FirstEnergy Solutions to provide service within those municipalities. Following deregulation, several communities - including Lucas County - joined together to aggregate their buying power in order to obtain lower rates for customers. The Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition has been successful in negotiating lower rates over the years, and this contract is no different.

But it's still extremely ironic that the recipient of the ire of politicians, especially in election years, is now somewhat of a savior when it comes to Toledo's budget deficit.

And talk about timing! Toledoans on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that would raid the Capital Improvements Fund in order to balance the general fund deficit. If that measure had been approved and the city got this grant money, their budget problems would pretty much have been over. Now, though, council and the mayor will have to continue to reduce spending - which is what they should have been doing in the first place - unless they take the easy way out and decide to raise taxes through various 'revenue enhancements.'

But even if the tax switch had been approved and the grant money received, it would only address this year's problem. Many of the concessions agreed to in the union contracts are for 2009 only. The reduction in the amount the city 'picks up' for PERS will end beginning in January - putting the city back into the position of paying for the employer and the employee contributions to that retirement program. Those PERS pickups are a large part of what makes the union contracts unsustainable over time - as we've all seen over the last several years.

But instead of addressing the long-term issues of the city's financial situation - the spending that just doesn't end - council and the mayor look to short-term solutions and one-time payments to save them.

Oh, the irony of having to depend upon your 'enemy' for your 'salvation.'

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where does Kaptur really stand on government takeover of student loans?

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, which basically takes over all student loans from the private sector, creates a new federal bureaucracy - including a 'green schools czar,' and puts the government in the position of being able to deny loans for students at schools that don't adhere to its wishes.

Oh - and it will cost about $100 billion a year!

The vote on the bill was 253-171, with 4 Democrats voting no and 6 Republicans voting yes. Our representative, Marcy Kaptur, voted with her party in the affirmative.

However ....

Last year, Congress voted on the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA), approving it by a vote of 388-21, with unanimous Democrat support - including Kaptur.

That bill allowed private sector lending and didn't create a new agency:

"The bill urges the Federal Financing Bank, the Federal Reserve, and other federal-chartered private entities such as the Federal Home Loan Banks to work with the Departments of Treasury and Education to ensure that students and families have access to federal student loans in the 2008-2009 academic year."

Because this bill had such broad support last year, the Republicans in Congress offered an amendment to extend ECASLA through 2014 as a substitute for H.R. 3221. Makes sense, doesn't it? After all, ECASLA had unanimous support from the Democrats - why wouldn't they want to continue something they'd previously supported?

Apparently, something changed - drastically!

The amendment failed 165-265 with 257 Democrats unanimously voting no - including Kaptur.

Why? Why was the private sector the solution last year, but government is the solution this year?

And why did Kaptur vote in favor of the private sector provision last year, but against it this year?

Inquiring minds....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BREAKING: Frederick gets one-month suspension for 'conduct unbecoming'

This just in via email:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Acting Commissioner of S,B & H suspended without pay

Acting Commissioner of Streets, Bridges & Harbor Sue Frederick, met with the Acting Law Director, Assistant Chief of Staff and Director of Public Service on September 16. She agreed that her behavior constituted conduct unbecoming an employee of the City of Toledo. Therefore, effective immediately, she has been suspended without pay for one month.

This discipline takes into account the years of dedicated public service that Ms. Frederick has given the City while at the same time recognizes the seriousness of the allegations against her.


What I'd like to know is this: was this just for the theft of the campaign sign? Or does this penalty include her 'offer' to hire the owner of the sign???

Here's another thing for the Mayor to consider during her one-month suspension: how long does a person without the legal requirements for a position get to be 'acting'???

Constitution Day 2009

"Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents." ~ James Madison

It was on this day in 1787 that the first 39 signatures were placed on the Constitution - the document that became the core of our nation's government.

On December 8, 2004, the Congress of the United States, one branch of the government established by the Constitution, passed a "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005" (118 Stat. 2809, 3344-45), establishing Constitution Day in the United States.

I've previously written about the irony of this day on which Congress mandates that "all federal agencies and schools receiving federal funds hold educational programs pertaining to the Constitution." I guess the Constitutional limits on our federal government don't really apply to the members of Congress who passed this law - and many others.

But it is right and proper that we remember what our Constitution says and be especially vigilant in insisting that our elected officials honor those words and abide by the limits the document places on them.

Perhaps the Tea Parties and 9/12 marches are an indication that the document still holds a place in the hearts of Americans and that those Americans are willing to take the effort and energy to remind our elected officials of that fact. Maybe you'd like to express your support publicly.

If it's been a while since you read it, please take the time to do so now. If you'd like more information, you can visit The Constitution Center, Constitution Facts or Constitution Day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Post-primary thoughts

Because I've just spent the last 11 hours driving from Memphis to Toledo, this post-primary blog post is a bit late...but better late than never.

My primary predictions for mayor were right on with Keith Wilkowski and Mike Bell ending up on the November ballot.

Complete unofficial results are available here.

Republican Jim Moody barely edged out D. Michael Collins for third place, with only 255 votes separating the two. Ben Konop was a distant fourth, garnering only 3,393 votes out of the 36,307 cast. His poor finish does not bode will for the county commissioner re-election campaign he has to run next year, but it does present a marvelous opportunity for either another Democrat (rumors are that several area mayors are interested) or a Republican.

I think the biggest surprise in the voting was the first place finish of former district councilman Rob Ludeman, with fellow Republican George Sarantou in second place. Their top finishes clearly indicate a problem with Moody's campaign, in that he could not earn the support of voters who put these other two well-known Republicans in the top places.

What is disappointing, however, is that incumbents (or names that sound like incumbents - as in Polly Taylor-Gerken, wife of current county commissioner and former city councilman Pete Gerken) on city council did so well, despite the poor performance of city council members over the past years when it comes to budgeting, spending and deficits.

What is encouraging is the defeat of the '9 is Fine' charter amendment to create super districts and eliminate the at-large council members - a proposal I opposed. Obviously the voters understood that changing the form of government doesn't always solve the problems, and reducing the number of elected officials responsible directly to the voter does not really increase representation.

Additionally, voters rejected the re-allocation of the 3/4% payroll income tax as well. I guess they agreed with me that changing the allocation of this tax four times during a five-year period was one time too many. I wonder if the council members who supported this plan now regret not accepting Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's back-up proposal to put a similar issue on the November ballot....

The biggest problem with this primary election, however, has nothing to do with the outcome - and everything to do with the number of voters. Only 40,069 people bothered to vote. That's only 18.45%. This means that less than 1/5 of those eligible determined what the other 4/5 will live with. That's just sad.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sue Frederick suspended

This just in via email:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sue Frederick has been suspended with pay pending the conclusion of our investigation.


For background, check out this post on Swamp Bubbles about her stealing campaign signs.

ICYMI - another government takeover

In Case You Missed It....

The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article on the 12th about a government takeover few are noticing. The headline:

The Quietest Trillion
Congratulations. You're about to own $100 billion a year in student loans.

The details:

The Obama plan calls for the U.S. Department of Education to move from its current 20% share of the student-loan origination market to 80% on July 1, 2010, when private lenders will be barred from making government-guaranteed loans. The remaining 20% of the market that is now completely private will likely shrink further as lenders try to comply with regulations Congress created last year. Starting next summer, taxpayers will have to put up roughly $100 billion per year to lend to students.

Why, exactly, would private lenders be barred from making such loans? What is the purpose of eliminating the private market from the equation? Isn't this the same type of 'public option' being promoted in the health care bill? And where, exactly, will the government get $100 billion a year to cover this plan?

According to the article, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reviewed the numbers and says that the programs will cost a fortune for the government to run and that the savings projected from the takeover are not anywhere near the official budget estimate, also called the 'score.' Despite the CBO assertions that the accounting is bogus, the accounting remains the official 'score' under the budget rules, "even though the official scorekeeper says it is wrong."

So when our representatives talk to us about the impact of this takeover, which numbers do you think they'll use????

The conclusion:

All of this is certain to pass the House, and the only chance for stopping it is in the Senate. If it passes, parents will soon have no choice beyond a Washington bureaucracy to borrow money for their college-bound children, and taxpayers will pay a fortune for the privilege.

I hope you'll read the entire article and then call your representatives and see if they can identify where they'd get the money to cover this additional cost - and you can also ask them how they can support a plan whose Enron-style accounting would land the private sector in jail.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Initiative to repeal Ohio's estate tax begins

This just in via email:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Buckeye Institute Sample Language Used for Estate Tax Repeal

COLUMBUS - The Buckeye Institute's 1851 Center drafted language for an initiated statute amendment to eliminate Ohio's estate tax that was adopted by Citizens United to End Ohio's Estate Tax. On Friday the Attorney General approved the language for the group to begin collecting the signatures required to have the state legislature consider the initiative.

"The estate tax causes a significant harm to Ohio's families, specifically families owning small businesses and farmers," said Maurice Thompson, 1851 Center Director. "It also drives many of our wealthiest citizens, who are sometimes our most productive, out of the state."

The Buckeye Institute released a study in cooperation with the American Legislative Exchange Council which finds Ohio's estate tax is the worst in the country, kicking in on estates valued as low as $338,333.

"People shouldn't be forced to move away from their homes and their families in order to avoid an overreaching government," Thompson added.

The language for the initiative is available here.

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, together with its 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, is a nonpartisan research and educational institute devoted to individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government in Ohio.


What do Toledo and Memphis have in common?

Well, besides being dominated by the Democratic Party, having high unemployment, poor economic growth, and a host of depressing conditions? They've both drawn the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation over their prayers before city council meetings.

While visiting my family in Memphis this past weekend, I happened to page through the Sunday paper looking for the section with the movie schedule. That's when the lead story in their local news section caught my eye: "Council prayers draw protest" (on-line headline is expanded). When I saw that it was the same organization that protested Toledo's prayers, I read the whole article.

Interestingly, the letters sent to the two city councils (Memphis letter here, Toledo letter here) are nearly identical when it comes to the prayer section. Memphis also does a 'Chaplain of the Day' program which draws the ire of the foundation.

The foundation has also targeted Tehachapi, CA, Turlock, CA, North Richland Hills, TX, and Philadelphia, PA, with the same letter and objections. All in the last month.

This is an organization of only 14,000 members nationwide, with headquarters in Madison, WI. It was incorporated in 1978 and led by co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, who are married. According to their IRS 990 form for 2008, they have roughly $6.5 million in assets and had income of about $2 million from grants, membership dues, contributions, interest and program revenue. Memberships range from $40 for an individual up to $5,000 for an 'After-Life' membership (one-time payment).

Since July of this year, they've issued 12 action alerts to their members, In 2008, they only issued five. In 2007, it was eight alerts and in 2006, it was nine.

I believe this organization is embarking upon a coordinated campaign to raise the awareness of their group. Now, that's probably what the members would want them to do, and they are keeping with the stated goals of their organization in doing so.

However, as a Toledoan, I resent being used as a pawn for their public relations efforts. And I wonder if other people feel the same way.

The Freedom From Religion website says that only 14% of the American public is non-religious, according to a CUNY American Religious Identification Survey conducted in 2001. Which means that 86% of the population has some sort of religious belief, with 77% identifying themselves as Christian.

Most city councils who have prayers rotate among various clergy members from all faiths. FFRF objects because the majority of the prayers offered by those clergy members are 'too christian' in content. Is it any wonder, since three-fourths of the population is Christian?

Here's an idea: If atheists want to 'be represented' in the rotation of 'prayers,' that's simple. Just ensure that 14% of the meetings have no prayer. In Toledo, that means 3 of the 26 council meetings would not have anything. This way, everyone, including atheists/agnostics would be represented. How could such an idea possibly 'offend' a nation that teaches tolerance for others' views and beliefs?

Somehow, though, I don't believe the FRRF would agree. From their website:

"(We fail to see why divine guidance is needed over such earthly matters, anyway.)"

They are not interested in being tolerant and inclusive of all views. They don't want any religious demonstration in any way by any part of government - no matter what other people think or want. And they're willing to sue to ensure their opinions and desires are the ones everyone must live by.

As I've said before - we have a prohibition in our Constitution against government establishing a religion. I know what the courts say, but common sense will tell you that government doesn't 'establish' any religion when it allows prayers from all faiths to take place prior to a meeting. And isn't 'atheism' a religion in its own way? Isn't rejection of a deity a type of 'belief' in and of itself?

The Constitution never guaranteed freedom from religion ... something this foundation fails to acknowledge. And since they are likely to pressure politicians into agreeing with them, we will all have to live by their beliefs instead of our own.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Health Czar - Interrupted

Something to entertain you (HA!) on a Saturday morning:

After months of Americans happily sacrificing for the Health Administration Bureau, Health Czar O'Brien holds his first press conference, ready to answer the tough questions.

But when an uninvited reporter tries to stump him with a question touting free-market reform*, the bureau's audio/visual team thinks fast and debunks her question with, hands-down, The Best(TM) answer possible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why do we pay for politicians' life insurance?

The City of Toledo has the following ordinance on the agenda for next week:

Authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with Consumers Life Insurance Company to provide group term life insurance for the City of Toledo Exempt employees, Mayor, City Council, Municipal Court Judges, Clerk of Court, Municipal Court employee’s, Police Command Officers, Fire Chief’s, and Teamsters: such contract shall contain terms and conditions deemed proper and requisite according to the Director of Law and the Mayor, and authorizing the expenditure of funds in the amount of sixty eight thousand, seven hundred nineteen dollars and ninety cents ($68,719.90) per annum for the life insurance program; and declaring an emergency.

In order to maintain a beneficial service on behalf of City of Toledo employees (Exempt employees, Mayor, City Council, Municipal Court Judges, Clerk of Court, Municipal Court employees, Police Command Officers, Fire Chiefs, and Teamsters), it is necessary to enter into a contract to provide group term life insurance services.

Toledo is not the only municipality to do this - many do, including (the last time I checked) Lucas County.

But why?

I realize it's a benefit for the exempt employees, but have we ever actually used it? And have we used it to the point that we can afford to spend roughly $70,000 per year for it?

While it's not enough to address an $8 million budget deficit, it's the principle of continuing to pay for things that are unnecessary and really provide no true value to the taxpayers.

The only way an employee would actually 'benefit' from this provision is to die. And most exempt employees probably have their own life insurance policies for their families. I'm certain no employee relies upon this benefit as the only recompense for their families upon their death.

So what does it gain us, as taxpayers, to continue to provide this 'benefit' to certain employees?

Do you believe the claim that it's necessary in order to attract good employees? I don't. I don't think that the presence or absence of a life insurance policy paid for by the government is enough of an incentive to make a potential employee choose the city over any other employer. Nor is it enough of an incentive to make an employee with another offer actually stay with the city.

So it's a nice thing to do for our exempt workers in government. That's great! Except that the city doesn't have the financial wherewithal to actually do something 'nice' while eliminating necessities - like police officers.

Furthermore, please note that the elected officials are getting this benefit!!!! Are the finances in the city really sufficient that we can afford this perk for the elected 'servants'???

Even if you believe this is a necessity for exempt employees, do you believe the elected officials need to have us pay for a life insurance policy for them and their families should they die?

Taxpayers need to be aware of the 'benefits' we provide our public servants, which is why I've posted so often on the health insurance and PERS pickups. We also need to insist that unnecessary perks are eliminated.

It is not the role of government to pay for life insurance policies for elected officials - especially when they're considering raising fees, trash taxes and other 'revenue enhancements' to cover basic - and mandatory - services.

Call City Council today and tell them to eliminate all elected officials from this ordinance. The phone number is 419-245-1050.

And pay special attention to how they respond - remember, the at-large seats are up for election!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nothing new in Obama speech to Congress

I don't know about you, but I heard absolutely nothing new in President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last night. As a reiteration of previous statements and speeches, I don't think it was deserving of a joint session or national television coverage.

He said what he's said before and didn't add to the discussion. It sounded more like a campaign speech designed to 'put to shame' those he considers his opponents, though I do not believe he succeeded.

If he'd presented something new or announced a major policy change, I would feel differently. But he didn't, and I don't.

I've read H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, and I know that many of the things he stated in his speech are not true.

While the bill does say that illegal immigrants are not to be covered, it does not include any way of identifying who is or is not a citizen. Because there is no way of verifying citizenship before providing coverage, it is likely that illegal immigrants can be covered under this bill.

Obama said that you can keep your coverage if you want. However ... the bill says that all plans must meet certain criteria established by the government in order to 'qualify' as 'benefit plans.' If your employer does not meet those criteria, you will be required to change to a plan that has the government mandates. That's not 'keeping your coverage' - that's the government deciding what coverage you MUST have and then penalizing you and/or the employer if you don't.

He said that this will not add to the deficit, though every entity that has examined the bill says that it will. Obama says that savings and efficiencies will cover the extra costs. If there are savings and efficiencies to be had - do them now! Prove to the American public that they do exist and show us exactly how much they will produce in dollars and cents. Then - and only then - could you go forward with 'utilizing' those savings to pay for an expansion of government. (Personally, I'd like any 'savings' returned to the taxpayers, but I realize that's not the thinking of our politicians.)

He said he's open to other ideas. Two ideas expressed loudly and often at the town hall meetings and by many in emails and phones calls are tort reform and interstate competition (allowing insurance companies to sell products across state lines). Here are two prominent ideas that a majority of Americans believe would help provide instant reform. They are not even considered as part of the bill, nor were they addressed by the president. How 'open' to ideas are you if you continue to ignore those two concepts that the majority of Americans support?

In the end, it was the same old-same old from the President and I don't believe it swayed the public one way or the other.

If you'd like another perspective on the speech, I recommend Erick Erickson's post at

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

GOP response to Obama speech to Congress

This in via email:

GOP Talking Points on Health Care Address by Dr. Charles Boustany (R-LA)

· The American people have spoken. They oppose government-run health care. Republicans are on the side of the American people.

· Tonight, Dr. Charles Boustany (R-LA) will deliver the Republican address following President Obama's speech to a Joint Session of Congress. Dr. Boustany is a heart surgeon with 20 years of experience, who knows first-hand about the need for lower health care costs and the harmful effect government-run care would have on cost and quality.

· What Americans want are common-sense, responsible solutions that address the rising cost of health care and other major problems in a manner our nation can afford. To date, they haven't gotten that from Democratic leaders in Washington, who've proposed a costly government takeover that will replace many Americans' current health care with government-run care, add hundreds of billions to the national debt, ration care, and destroy millions of American jobs.

· What Americans want is for President Obama to take government-run health care off the table and start over on a common-sense, bipartisan health care reform plan our nation can afford.

· Reports indicate the president may mention medical liability reform, which Republicans have championed for years to help curb rising health care costs for patients and their families. But will he propose and support real medical liability reform solutions, or simply offer more Washington rhetoric that does nothing to end junk lawsuits and lower costs? We hope he does the former – and if he does, we’ll welcome his support.

· Republicans believe the president must address the harmful impact Democrats' proposed health care plans will have on American jobs. House Democrats' health care bill would raise taxes on job creators by $600 billion and destroy millions of American jobs in the midst of what is already, at best, a jobless recovery.

· The Obama Administration promised that its "stimulus" spending bill would keep the unemployment rate from going above 8 percent; instead, last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the national unemployment rate has reached 9.7 percent, the highest level in a generation, and more than 2.4 million private-sector jobs have been destroyed since the "stimulus" became law.

· Americans don’t want a government takeover of their health care. They don't want a new speech. They want a new plan. Republicans hope the president uses tonight's speech to hit the "reset" button and start over, this time working with Republicans to craft a bipartisan, responsible health care reform plan our nation can afford.

Excerpts from Obama address to Congress

This just in via email:


Office of the Press Secretary


September 9, 2009


I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or expensive to cover.


During that time, we have seen Washington at its best and its worst.

We have seen many in this chamber work tirelessly for the better part of this year to offer thoughtful ideas about how to achieve reform. Of the five committees asked to develop bills, four have completed their work, and the Senate Finance Committee announced today that it will move forward next week. That has never happened before. Our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors’ groups and even drug companies – many of whom opposed reform in the past. And there is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge – not just government and insurance companies, but employers and individuals. And it’s a plan that incorporates ideas from Senators and Congressmen; from Democrats and Republicans – and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.


Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

That’s what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan – more security and stability.

Now, if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it’s time to give every American the same opportunity that we’ve given ourselves.


This is the plan I’m proposing. It’s a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight – Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.

But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true.

That is why we cannot fail. Because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed – the ones who suffer silently, and the ones who shared their stories with us at town hall meetings, in emails, and in letters.


Obama's speech to Congress

Politico has talking points that have been released in advance of President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress tonight.

I thought this particular point was very interesting, in light of what polls have said:

"Members heard a lot from their constituents over August including stories from people who are struggling with the rising cost of health care or who have been denied coverage because they or someone in their family got sick. One thing has became crystal clear to any member who really spent time talking to constituents last month: Doing nothing is not an option."

Actually, according to Rasmussen, that's not true. From an Aug. 17th article on

Most voters (54%) now say no health care reform legislation this year would be better than passage of the bill currently working its way through Congress. This does not mean that most voters are opposed to health care reform, but it does highlight the level of concern about the specifics now being discussed in Washington.

Doing nothing is an option, especially with 70% of Americans rating their own health insurance coverage as good or excellent.

However, if Senators and Representatives really want to do something that the American public would welcome, they could make the Congressional health plan available to everyone.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of U.S. voters say every American should be allowed to purchase the same health insurance plan that members of Congress use.

Note, too, the use of words in the talking point: "...any member who really spent time talking to constituents last month..." This is, I believe, a not-so-subtle slam on all the individuals who showed up at town halls to protest the specifics of the plan - or ask unanswered questions about the cost.

Many representatives didn't hold public meetings for their constituents, though many made appearances at friendly-crowd places like union halls. And while representatives 'talked to' constituents, many did not listen.

But that's the focus of the talking point: if Congress talked to the 'right' people, they heard what they wanted to hear and have 'approval' to go forward, when in actuality, going forward with a health care bill would mean Congress is overriding the 'will of the people.'

It will be interesting to see how closely the speech mirrors these released talking points.

And just for fun, you can play "Obama Health-Care Speech Bingo"

Toledo mayor primary prediction

As mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins was quick to add to his campaign website, pollster Fritz Wenzel (on Conklin and Company) predicted that Collins and Mike Bell would be the top two vote-getters in Tuesday's primary. Wenzel believes the two independents will benefit from voter dissatisfaction and anger.

I will agree with him on Bell, as I don't believe Mike Bell has done anything to discourage the general 'feel-good' opinion and respect most Toledoans have of him and his prior service as Fire Chief.

However, I don't believe Collins has the necessary momentum to finish in the top two, due to his late entry into the race. While he's very well known within his current council district (District 2), I don't believe he's had the time or the media coverage to garner the support of the rest of the city.

So my prediction is that Keith Wilkowski will be the other candidate we'll see on the November ballot.

I choose Wilkowski for two reasons:

1) He's the better known and more 'liked' candidate among the democrats running. He's spent roughly a full year preparing his campaign and his supporters for next Tuesday. He's also had more positive press than the other candidates - due to his length in the race and the kind headlines the local paper has given him.

2) He's organized and will, I believe, have a good 'on-the-ground' effort for Tuesday. I'm sure he learned valuable lessons from working on the Obama campaign on how to mobilize your identified voters, and that he will use those techniques to be sure his supporters get to the polls and vote.

All candidates know that the important part of an election is not just getting people to vote - but getting your supporters to show up and vote for you. I believe that will be the key to his finishing in the top two.

As for the other candidates, I don't believe that Jim Moody has generated the enthusiasm within the local Republican Party that he would need to ensure a top-two finish. While he has many good ideas, the internal issues with being Chairman Jon Stainbrook's candidate may be too much to overcome. In general, Toledo Republicans are not motivated toward the GOP candidates, though they may be motivated toward conservatives in general. This will hurt Moody and will, I predict, cost him on Sept. 15th.

Current County Commissioner Ben Konop has also benefited from positive press from The Blade, but not enough to overcome his other campaign problems, including his push for failed policies and, especially, his disrespect for the U.S. Flag. He is seem by too many as immature and 'not ready for prime time.' Additionally, being perceived as a favorite of The Blade may actually hurt Konop at the ballot box. I predict he will not finish in the top three.

Opal Covey, the final candidate, will probably finish last, even though there are some who've stated they'll vote for her just because they're so fed up with everyone else. Whether words are followed through with votes in the ballot box remains to be seen. While Opal has passion, it is not tempered with reason, and her references to being sent by God make her more of a fringe candidate than anything else. However, some people are talking that she may, considering the general mood of the voting public, be able to pull off a fourth-place finish ahead of Konop, which would be a remarkable thing if it happened.

Do you have a prediction? We'll await the results to see who is right.

Things I'd blog about if I had all day

* There's an interesting analysis of the Van Jones resignation and what it says about President Barack Obama and his administration in the Washington Examiner. While I was driving yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh's take on this as well.

Both author Michael Barone and Limbaugh questioned how someone like 'green jobs' czar Van Jones, a self-avowed 'truther' could end up in the Obama administration, especially given his other beliefs and associations. Could it be that the Obama administration didn't know? Or is it that they knew, and approved?

Either way, it spells long-term trouble for the president. If he didn't know about Van Jones, what else doesn't he know about the other czars in his administration who are in charge of multiple initiatives and public funds? If he did know and brought him in anyway, is it an indication of Obama's belief in and/or support for such theories or philosophies?

Perhaps only time will tell.

* This same article also had an interesting opinion on 'green jobs' which I fully share:

"If there were money to be made in green jobs, private investors would be creating them already. In fact big corporations like General Electric are scrambling to position themselves as green companies, gaming legislation and regulations so they can make profits by doing so. Big business is ready to create green jobs -- if government subsidizes them. But the idea that green jobs will replace all the lost carbon-emitting jobs is magical thinking."

I only hope our local mayoral candidates will remember this fact about the free market.

* Michael Moore's new movie premiered this week and basically says that capitalism is evil. Here's my question for all candidates, especially those who say they are Democrats (as that party has embraced this filmmaker and his films): Do you agree with Michael Moore that capitalism is evil?

The answer to that question will tell more about the candidate than any policy or position paper or press conference.

I'd also like to know what the everyday Democrat thinks of this opinion? Is this really what my neighbors, who are registered as Democrats, think of our economic system?

Or is that some people are evil and do bad things - and that even good people will make bad (evil) decisions?

* There's been a lot of discussion about the conservative opposition to the health care bill and government-run health care versus Medicare and Veteran's Services health programs.

Here's the thing: I oppose the concept of Medicare and of the government forcing our Veterans to use a government-run program for their health care needs. I can find no authorization in the Constitution (except the 'general welfare' clause which our founders specifically said should not be used as a catch-all for anything government wants to do) for such programs.

However, individuals have participated in and paid into the Medicare program and expect a return for that investment and promise. So it wouldn't be 'fair' or 'right' to suddenly eliminate a program people are participating in, or expect to provide for them in the future.

There is another way, though, that those on the left fail to consider. Instead of continuing to collect the money from today's payers in order to fund yesterday's enrollees (which is causing the bankrupting of the system as it goes broke), modify it so that the individuals get the funds back and make the decisions about how to spend those funds on their own. That way, they get more purchasing power for their money since the government isn't taking its share (for government salaries, program administration, etc...) right off the top.

What would happen if we suddenly returned to the individuals their portion of what they'd paid in and then said, 'we trust you to make good decisions that are in your best interests without us telling you what to do?' Or would there be too many who truly believe that people cannot make good decisions which is why the government must do it for them?

Again, the answer to that question tells us everything we need to know about the person giving the answer.

* I heard a sound clip on one of the talk shows yesterday about a businesswoman in California at one of the health care town hall meetings - it should be heard by everyone, especially the elected officials.

What go her so upset to begin with was that she had taken the time to call and write her representative. But she said that when she did so, she got a form letter response saying 'thank you for your support', which obviously indicated no one had really read what she'd written; or she was condescendingly told by staffers that the representative really knew better than she did.

Her point was that as a business owner, there were two things Congress could do immediately to help 'solve' the claimed health care 'crisis': 1) tort reform and 2) open up the market between states. She then said something startling: there are 1,300 insurance companies in the nation but only six that are available in California for her to choose from.

Can you imagine? Over 1,300 companies that could be offering plans and competing for our business, but only six that Californians can select? I have no idea how many there are in Ohio, but could it be a similar amount?

Opening up inter-state competition wouldn't cost a thing. And it could be done by Congress pretty much immediately. Why not try it and see if providing such immediate 'choice and competition' would have any effect before setting up huge bureaucracies to 'provide choice and competition'????

The only reason why that would be opposed would be in lawmakers thought they'd somehow lose either control, power or campaign funds in doing so.

It's an instant way to provide exactly what they say they want to provide without costing taxpayers a single penny. Why wouldn't they do so if 'choice and competition' were truly the goal?

* Hourglass 1941 blog has a second video of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy refusing to answer questions about H.R. 3200, America's AFfordable Health Choices Act of 2009, will be paid for. Instead, she walks away. She should either admit she doesn't know or explain how the bill will be funded. Perhaps she just afraid that doing either would look worse than just walking away?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

"Folks who never do any more than they get paid for, never get paid for any more than they do." ~ Elbert Hubbard

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." ~ Thomas Jefferson

"Men are made stronger on realization that the helping hand they need is at the end of their own arm." ~ Sidney J. Phillips

"The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves." ~ Garth Henrichs

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all." ~ Sam Ewing

"If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor." ~ Ulysses S. Grant

And finally, an interesting take on the value of hard work versus the society we find ourselves in today.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Show me the money!

The blogger from Hourglass1941 attended a health care forum at the Ohio Expo Center on September 1 and decided, after the event, to ask several of the speakers how the federal government was going to pay for all the things promoted in the bill.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (also a candidate for U.S. Senate to replace retiring Senator George Voinovich) were really not able to explain where the money would come from, with Coleman referring to her as "darlin'" and Fisher talking about a 'fence at the top of the cliff instead of an ambulance below' ... whatever that means.

In their own words:

H/T The Jawa Report
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