Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote of the Day - sycophant

"But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then you are not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then you are unworthy of the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward and the spirit of a sycophant." ~ Thomas Paine

Predictable consequences of trying to limit bank fees

Congress, in its infinite wisdom (yes, that's sarcasm), decides that banks shouldn't charge for a particular service. In this case, it's a fee on the use of a debit card.

So they pass a law that prohibits banks from charging merchants a percentage on every use. It's part of the Frank-Dodd financial overhaul bill and this particular restriction is the Durbin amendment, courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

But it costs money for banks to offer and process debit cards and their transactions - a factor members of Congress fail to understand. So what is a bank to do?

Well, they decide to charge the actual card holder a set monthly fee instead. Unintended consequences, which are entirely predictable, are certainly not part of the regular thinking of your 'average' congressional representative.

The fees range from $3-5 per month - if you're able to still have a debit card at all. Some banks, like JPMorganChase, have just eliminated the debit card completely.

So in their effort to 'help' consumers, Congress has ended up shifting the costs of the debit card service from the merchant to the card holder. Brilliant! What a bargain!

But that's not all. One aspect of the Frank-Dodd bill was limiting what banks could charge for overdraft fees. Now, in this day and age of instant information and various other provisions (like automatic transfers from savings to checking when the checking account gets to a certain level or overdraft protection programs), there really is no excuse for bouncing a check. People should know how much is in their account and whether or not there are funds to cover a check about to be written. When they write that check and it bounces, they should pay a fee to the bank.

It costs the bank money to return the check, notify you and deal with the subsequent actions that result. Why shouldn't they charge you a fee - large enough to make you not want to ever end up bouncing a check again in the future??? But people don't like being accountable - and politicians are too eager to help limit your liability for your own stupid actions.

And what, exactly, is the provider of a service supposed to do when they can no longer charge you their costs for that service, especially when they know they'll still need to provide the service even when they can't charge?

Well, they'll do what anyone else would - they'll charge for other things in order to cover the costs of the one they can't charge for.

So everyone who banks will pay more so that the small number who bounce checks don't have to pay for doing so. Again, brilliant!

Congress has decided it can determine how much a business should charge and how much profit it can make. They believe they know better than you and I the value of a service in the marketplace. But they're not actually limiting the profit, they're just playing around with various fees and imposing restrictions thinking (or, perhaps more accurately, hoping) that the banks will just take the restrictions and live with them.

But companies are in the business to make a profit. They don't exist to provide jobs (that's just a by-product of their effort to make money). They don't exist to do social programs (again, that's a by-product of their desire to have customers who thus help them to make a profit). They exist because they want to make money - for the owners and shareholders/investors - many of whom are the very people who are so adamant about restricting their profits in the first place.

In fact, it makes no sense to me that many unions argue against corporate profits when those very same profits are necessary to provide the jobs and benefits the unions so desire. And, most of the pension plans in America - whether individual IRAs, public pensions or private company pensions - are vested in the stocks of the very companies that are being demonized. Can you say 'stuck on stupid'???

So, when a company gets told by government that it can't make a profit with one item, it will begin charging for one that was previously free or add to the price of existing ones - or both.

This is completely and entirely predictable for anyone who understands anything whatsoever about business.

But Congress is, apparently, clueless and so, thanks to their 'help' for us poor consumers who cannot make good decisions on our own, we're now paying more.


Serious about jobs? Rein in the regs!

Below is a guest post by Heather Harlow from the John Pfeiffer Company. She is a small business owner here in Ohio and is also a member of the Small Business For Sensible Regulations Coalition:

Serious About Jobs? Rein in the Regs!

Ohio, like much of the country, has struggled considerably during the past few years with serious economic challenges. According to the Department of Job and Family Services, the state's unemployment rate stands at 9.1%. Amazingly, Ohio has shed jobs for three straight months; more than half a million Ohioans are unemployed.

It was against this backdrop that President Obama arrived in Cincinnati, to tout his recently announced jobs plan. While there, he called on Congress to fund long overdue infrastructure projects like the Brent Spence Bridge renovation.

I applaud the President's intentions and I appreciate the attention he brought to the bridge, but nobody believes that renovation of the bridge will jump start the economy. Experts predict that even if the project received funding immediately, the first jobs wouldn't come online until 2013 at the earliest, and perhaps as late as 2015. Even the President admitted a few months ago that, "there's no such thing as a shovel ready project."

If the President wants to create jobs today, he should focus on jump starting private sector job creation rather than increasing the amount of money that comes to Washington. He could do that by working to remove obstacles to small business growth. Regulations have been proposed at break neck speed over the past three years and currently there are over 4,000 different proposed rules on the books. With so many regulations in the works, small businesses in Ohio and across the country have struggled to plan for the future. On the other hand, much of the money that is being sent to Washington is being used to implement more regulations. This past week, for example, the EPA announced it would need to hire up to 230,000 new government bureaucrats to enforce newly proposed regulations. Those jobs aren't self-sustaining; instead, they rely on taxpayer dollars.

If President Obama is serious about immediate job creation, he should help small business succeed rather than growing Washington.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hurray for Texas - fighting for light bulb liberty!

From the National Center for Policy Analysis comes this summary of "Light Bulbs and Liberty," by Ryan Brannan at the Texas Public Policy Foundation:

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy and Security Act. The Act created energy efficiency standards for lighting, including household lighting, effectively ending the ability of American consumers to purchase the incandescent light bulbs that have been in use for the last 100 years. However, the law will not be implemented without overcoming obstacles and resistance. While U.S. Congressman Joe Barton's BULB Act, a move to repeal the 2007 Act, failed this past legislative session, another prong of attack has come out of the state of Texas, says Ryan Brannan, a policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

* Texas House Bill 2510 (HB 2510), which was recently signed by Governor Perry and will go into effect January 1, 2012 (the same day the Federal Energy and Security Act is slated to phase out the 100 watt light bulb), will effectively repeal the Energy and Security Act within the state of Texas.
* Asserting a constitutional argument, the bill's authors maintain that so long as the bulb itself is produced within the borders of Texas and remains within the state for use, it is not subject to the overarching authority of the interstate commerce clause.

In order for HB 2510 to stand, it will have to overcome judicial scrutiny assessing if the interstate commerce clause does in fact apply. There is precedent supporting both sides of the argument. Also, the state will have to attract a manufacturer of incandescent bulbs, which will undoubtedly be a challenge given that HB 2510 might be contested and overturned shortly after production begins, forcing them to close shop. In any case, it seems that a constitutional showdown regarding the consumer's right to make a market-based decision is inevitable.

Hopefully, Texas will be successful, though I believe the biggest obstacle will be to find a manufacturer. The last remaining U.S. light bulb manufacturer closed up shop earlier this month. So much for jobs....

Quotes of the Day - Constitution vs. the courts

"The public welfare demands that constitutional cases must be decided according to the terms of the Constitution itself, and not according to judges’ views of fairness, reasonableness, or justice. I have no fear of constitutional amendments properly adopted, but I do fear the rewriting of the Constitution by judges under the guise of interpretation." ~ Justice Hugo L. Black

"I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt (in a 1935 letter to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee concerning Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation)

"Under our Constitution, the federal government has delegated, enumerated and thus limited powers. Power is delegated by the founding generation or through subsequent amendment (that makes it legitimate); enumerated in the constitution (that makes it legal); and limited by that enumeration. As the 10th Amendment says, if a power hasn’t been delegated, the federal government doesn’t have it. For 150 years, that design held for the most part. When faced with a welfare bill in 1794, for example, James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, rose in the House to say that he could find no constitutional authority for the bill. A century later, when Congress passed a similar measure, President Cleveland vetoed it as beyond Congress’ authority. That all changed during the New Deal as both congress and the president sought to expand federal power. When the Supreme court objected, rather than amend the Constitution, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pack the court with six additional members. The scheme failed, but the threat worked. Thereafter, the court started reading the Constitution’s General Welfare and Commerce Clauses so broadly that the doctrine of enumerated powers was essentially destroyed—and with it limited government." ~ Roger Pilon

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bill to penalize TARTA-like campaign actions passes from house committee

Press Release on the bill to impose a criminal penalty for what TARTA did when it 'loaned' public funds to their levy campaign:

Legislation to Penalize Campaign Finance Violators Passes from House Committee

COLUMBUS—The House Criminal Justice Committee yesterday approved legislation that, when enacted, will impose a criminal penalty on public officials who knowingly use public funds for political purposes.

House Bill 326—jointly sponsored by Representatives Jeff McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) and Brian Hill (R-Zanesville)—institutes a penalty of a first-degree misdemeanor, similar to the penalty for other campaign finance law violations. Currently, the Ohio Revised Code specifies that it is illegal to utilize tax dollars for political purposes but does not include a criminal penalty.

“This bill is very straightforward,” McClain said. “It simply protects taxpayer dollars and is deserving of the unanimous support it received.”

“Taxpayers are one step closer to holding their public officials accountable if they misuse public dollars and violate campaign finance laws,” Hill said. “Thank you to Chairman Slaby and the members of the Criminal Justice committee for their speedy consideration and unanimous support of this important legislation.”

The issue arose after a recent audit of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) revealed that in 2007 and 2008, TARTA illegally loaned nearly $67,000 to Citizens for TARTA, the political action committee that gathers resources to fund TARTA levy campaigns.

Having passed from the Criminal Justice Committee, House Bill 326 now awaits a vote by the full Ohio House of Representatives.


Toledo Chamber and TASBA urge YES on Issue 2

Press Release:

Toledo Job Creators Support YES Vote on Issue 2

(Columbus) - The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Toledo Area Small Business Association announced today their support for the reasonable reforms of State Issue 2. The organization, ranked in the top 5 percent of chambers nationwide, represents more than 2,800 job creators throughout northwest Ohio.

"For Ohio and its communities to be strong again, government costs must be realigned with tax revenue," the chamber's board of directors said in a statement. "The passage of State Issue 2 would give local government elected officials and management the flexibility required to more effectively and efficiently manage their workplaces on behalf of Ohio’s taxpayers."

The Building a Better Ohio campaign welcomed the endorsement.

"We're proud to stand with Ohio's job creators in this effort to move our state in a new direction," said campaign spokesman Jason Mauk. "The people leading Ohio's economic recovery know exactly what needs to be done to create jobs. They know from experience that we can't make Ohio a more affordable place to live, work and do business until we get the cost of government under control. That starts with the reasonable reforms of State Issue 2."

The Toledo Chamber of Commerce joins a growing coalition of respected civic leaders across Ohio who have endorsed a YES vote on State Issue 2. Other recent endorsements include:

* Ohio Manufacturers' Association
* Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
* Ohio Society of CPAs
* Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio
* National Federation of Independent Business - Ohio
* Ohio Chamber of Commerce
* Columbus Chamber of Commerce
* Greater Cleveland Partnership
* Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce
* Youngstown Chamber of Commerce
* Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

These organizations jointly represent hundreds of thousands of hard-working Ohioans across the state.

Quote of the Day - resistance

"The inherent right in the people to reform their government, I do not deny; and they have another right, and that is to resist unconstitutional laws without overturning the government." ~ Daniel Webster

Vol. 4: An honest look at Ohio Issue 2 - nurses

In their continuing effort to tell the truth about Ohio Issue 2, GOHP blog has released another video. This one examines the claims in the fourth ad from the campaign against Issue 2. In debunking the claims, the video points out that most of the current issues facing nurses stem from problems in the system - problems that Issue 2 would fix.

1Matters presents HarrySandler Exhibit and Gala

Press Release:

1Matters Announces Harry Sandler Exhibit and Gala to Benefit the Unhoused

Toledo, Ohio. Ken Leslie, founder of 1Matters, announces that Harry Sandler will kick off the exhibit of his unique photographic artwork to begin the fundraiser for this local non-profit organization. All proceeds from the Gala and sales of artwork benefit 1Matters, which provides assistance to the unhoused.

GALA: V.I.P. Premier Gala, with Harry Sandler in attendance hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wine bar music by Claude Black Trio
DATE: Friday, October 7
TIME: 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
PLACE: 20 North Gallery
18 N. St. Clair Street, downtown Toledo
ADMISSION: $100 per person

OPENING RECEPTION: “Harry Sandler: Childhood and Other Neighborhoods”
DATE: Sunday, October 9
TIME: 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
PLACE: 20 North Gallery
18 N. St. Clair Street, downtown Toledo
ADMISSION: no admission charge

EXHIBIT: “Harry Sandler: Childhood and Other Neighborhoods”
DATE: Wednesdays – Saturdays, October 12 - 30
TIME: noon – 4:00 p.m. (and by appointment)
PLACE: 20 North Gallery
18 N. St. Clair Street, downtown Toledo
ADMISSION: no admission charge

As part of the effort to increase awareness about the unhoused in our area and to raise funds to secure housing for them, 1Matters and 20 North Gallery are sponsoring a Harry Sandler exhibit. Spending more than 30 years traveling the world as a tour manager for Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Van Halen, The Eagles, Jewel , Billy Joel and more, has given Harry Sandler rare opportunities to capture legends, landscapes and everyday life on film. Several items in this exhibit are signed by the performers pictured in them.

"John Mellencamp discovered this group’s work during a tour stop in Toledo. After getting to know Ken Leslie and the 1Matters mission as they worked with John on the road, John’s publicist, Bob Merlis, and I were impressed enough we both wanted to do something. Bob and I both joined the 1Matters Board of Directors and are working with John to build on something the music industry can support in a significant way," said Sandler.

Crystal Bowersox is one of many musicians who supports the efforts of 1Matters.

The V.I.P. Premier Gala is co-chaired by Mayor Mike Bell, Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, State Representative Teresa Fedor, Councilman Steve Steel, Samantha Platzke, Eric Hillenbrand, and Ken and Norma Leslie. It features a silent auction and raffle items, including two tickets to a Roger Daltrey concert, airfare to and hotel in Las Vegas.

The exhibit’s opening reception coincides with the “1 Walks – 1 Rocks –1Matters” event that supports World Homeless Day. The exhibit concludes the last weekend of October, the same weekend that 1Matters sponsors its annual Tent City in downtown Toledo.

1Matters is an all-volunteer organization founded by formerly homeless man-turned-comedian, Ken Leslie. The group has become expert in bringing entire communities and competitors together in community collaborations to care about, and care for, the unhoused. Through these collaborations and the help of the music industry, help is provided to get more individuals and families with children off the streets and into domestic autonomy.

Tickets may be purchased online hereFor further information:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vol. 3: An honest look at Issue 2

GOHP takes a look at the third ad from the campaign against Ohio Issue 2, pointing out the falsehoods in their latest television spot.

Be sure to share this information ...

Quotes of the Day - freedom vs. security

"One of the things that bothers me most is the growing belief in the country that security is more important than freedom. It ain't." ~ Lyn Nofziger

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." ~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toledo City Council Meeting September 20, 2011

My apologies...due to a problem with my email, I didn't get the Toledo City Council meeting notes from Sherry until today. Here they are with her comments about the proceedings in italics:

Toledo City Council Meeting

September 20, 2011

In attendance: Councilmen Martinez, McNamara, Craig, Steel, Waniewski, Sarantou, Copeland, Collins, Ludeman, Councilwomen Brown, Hicks-Hudson, Deputy Mayor Herwat. Councilwoman Webb had her baby.

I need to let you know the atmosphere. I arrived there at around 3:45. The place was packed. Every seat was taken, and at this point there is one row deep around the room. (They would not let anymore people in the room, it was two and three people deep around the room.) The Union was clapping, chanting, and waving flags. They were shouting, getting worked up, and there were things said, that I will not repeat. I ended up sitting in the back row. It was tough to hear, I did my best. The comments were flying as Council members entered. When Mr. Herwat and company entered the room, boos were heard everywhere. I kept hearing that the Mayor went to China on the taxpayer's dime. I tried to state that he didn't, but I was ignored. Union women (and I use the term lightly) stated that Webb should have been there with the baby. They would have done it. I looked at them and said that she had a C-Section with the first one, probably did with the second (I had two C-Sections). They excused that. Believe me, I'm no Webb fan, just stating facts. Ms. Brown opened the Meeting, letting everyone know that they will be escorted out if they cause a ruckus. The comments were flying, again.

Representative from the City (didn't catch the man's name) – the City will have a deficit of 5–8 mil – development 10 mil less – property taxes less – Income taxes down 20 mil – unemployment at 10.5% – benefits cannot be justified, 6.7 mil pension pick up, 2 mil insurance. We could end up laying off 130 people – we cannot afford to pay these things.

Vote for executive session – no – Steel, Collins, Copeland, Hicks-Hudson, Martinez - yes - McNamara, Waniewski, Craig, Ludeman, Brown, Sarantou. Motion failed.

Item 422 – Appropriation for 1st Phase of improve to Promenade Park, filling/grading & remove Water St, $750,000 CIP – refer back to Administration. *Prior to this reading, the agenda was turned over to Mr. Steel. He HAD to throw in his two cents. For what it is worth, here it is.* Steel - This is Democracy at work (I stated OUT LOUD that this was a Republic. We had just recited the pledge, “And to the Republic for which it stands”, I had multitudes of people around me. I was ignored.), and it is a good thing. Let me state that Collective Bargaining is a human right. (? SZ)

Item 423 – Amend TMC Ch. 2117, AFSCME Local 7, to implement terms and conditions of Fact Finding Report – Hicks-Hudson – Hold for 2 weeks – lets not make a decision tonight - it is premature to get rid of distrust. Copeland – Local 7 represents some 2,600 people - shame on the Mayor and the Administration – do the right thing – vote it down. (Hmmm, he must mean Issue 2?? Isn't this WRONG?! Isn't there a law? I just noticed this, as I typed. SZ) Collins – In 1979 Collective Bargaining in the State of OH, came under the Ferguson Act – Collective Bargaining doesn't need to be relinquished. In 2010 concessions were given – a true leader would do nothing that employees shouldn't do. Ludeman – this needs dialog – see what comes about – agree with the two week hold over. McNamara – agrees with the two week hold over. Sarantou – agrees with McNamara – negotiate/discussion agreement in two weeks. Martinez – it is not us vs. them. Vote to hold for 2 weeks – passed – all voting yes. Hold for 2 weeks. *Now 90% of the room leaves – noisily. I've moved up, so I can hear. There can't be anymore than 20 people left in the audience. Where are all these people when regular business is going on? These people were rude and crude. Good riddance.*

Item 425 – Resolution – Support integrated network of high-speed trains and expanded Amtrak service – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 426 – Authorize Administration to implement, enforce, and utilize HUD Section 108 Loan Program Policy – Martinez – this is an opportunity for economic Development – good team effort from the Port Authority. McNamara – states the same. Passed – all voting yes.

Item 427 – Resolution – Oppose proposed Congressional redistricting – Hicks-Hudson – Mayor is with Council on this issue. McNamara – letter to Toledo lobbyist – hearing today – we are not being silent about this. Adopted – all voting yes.

Item 428 - Purchase Laskey Road to Bancroft Street portion of abandoned CSX rail line for multi-use recreational trail - 1st Reading. Craig – UT to Dorr St. - you can get around Toledo on bicycles. (I did not understand why he said this, until Fred's Show the next day. Grrr! SZ)

Item 429 – Amend Ordinance 534-10 for proper accounting of ODNR GLRI grant for Environmental Services, $400,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 430 – Amend Enterprise Zone Policy with new section on job requirements – to Economic Development Committee.

Item 431 – Amend Toledo Expansion Incentive Program (TEI) Guidelines - to Economic Development Committee.

Item 432 – Grant 50% tax exemption for Chrysler Corp. $365M expansion and upgrade, retain 920, create 1105 - to Economic Development Committee.

Item 433 – Accept FirstEnergy grant for electrical upgrades at Standard Lofts, 34 Erie St, 75 Units, $40,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 434 – Grant 30' easement within Blair Park for United North Cranes Landing water source heat pump – passed – McNamara abstaining, rest voting yes.

Item 435 – Purchase foreclosed property at 4126 Ruskin Dr. for NSP model home, $41,000 NSP Funds – passed – all voting yes.

Item 436 – Accept ODOT grant for engineering/environmental study for Dorr St. (Upton-Byrne) Safety Project, $77,400 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 437 – Extend contracts 50/50 with N-Viro and S&L Fertilizer for biosolids at Water Reclamation, up to 90 days – passed – all voting yes.

Item 438 – Contract with S&L and Northwest BioEnergy for biosolids recycling/disposal program at Water Reclamation – to Utilities and Public Service Committee.

Item 439 – Expenditure to inspect and repair S&C switchgear at Water Reclamation, $25,000 Sewer Operating – passed – all voting yes.

Item 440 – Issue Water System Revenue Bonds, $40,000,000 - 1st Reading.

Last Call:

Hicks-Hudson – 1) Refuse and recycling pick up, September 24th, 420 E. Manhattan St, from 9 – 12. 2) Meeting about refuse and recycling, September 26th, Main Library, from 6 – 8. 3) Thanks to George Robinson for the tour of the Water Facility.

Ludeman – go Tigers!

Sarantou – Thank you for the success at the Greek-American Festival – Finance Committee meeting on Thursday.

Brown – going to Columbus to retire – keep it in Council .

Issue 2 and Issue 2 door hangers

If you support a 'yes' vote on Ohio Issues 2 and 3, you can go here to get your very own door hanger compliments of FreedomWorks.

Next month, FreedomWorks will host an official field hearing of the Tea Party Debt Commission in Cincinnatti where yard signs and door hangers will be available for pick up. For more information or to RSVP visit:

Across the Spectrum: The Future of Ohio and the Path to Prosperity

Press Release:


September 26, 2011- Columbus, OH - The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, The Center for Community Solutions and the Greater Ohio Policy Center-three Ohio-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations with varying perspectives on government and public policy-announce joint sponsorship of a unique conference, "Across the Spectrum: The Future of Ohio and the Path to Prosperity," to take place on December 8, 2011, at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel. The conference's dual goals are to:

* raise the level of public discourse in an era in which winning has replaced good public policy as the objective and
* explore differences and common ground on key substantive policy issues central to the future prosperity of Ohioans.

This conference recognizes that solving the deep economic and fiscal problems confronting Ohio and the nation requires fundamental government restructuring, across many areas, and new thinking about public policy and the roles of government. With its unique bipartisan underpinnings and multi-faceted approach, this conference is a singular event in the country at a time when partisanship has run amok and special interests on both sides of the aisle hold many elected officials hostage.

Keynote speakers include: Dr. Arthur Laffer, Founder and Chairman, Laffer Associates and The Laffer Center for Supply-Side Economics; Dr. Alice Rivlin, Member, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and former Director of Office of Management and Budget under President Bill Clinton; and Professor Walter Russell Mead, Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College & Editor-at-Large of The American Interest.

"While we acknowledge that we don't agree on all the answers to these sticky questions, we do agree that Ohioans must take a fresh look at and restructure many of its policies and programs to address the challenges of the current era - and the future," said John Begala, Executive Director of CCS. "Our aim is to challenge individuals and organizations to think out of their intellectual and ideological silos and work collaboratively to jumpstart a new economy in Ohio," concluded Lavea Brachmann, Executive Director of Greater Ohio. Matt Mayer, President of the Buckeye Institute added: "This conference provides the forum to promote a healthy exchange of ideas and lay the groundwork for concrete policy reforms, reflecting Ohio's aspiration to regain its status as the "state" of innovation."

The full agenda with speakers is below.

"Across the Spectrum: The Future of Ohio and the Path to Prosperity"

Renaissance Columbus
50 North 3rd Street
December 8, 2011

8:30 am
Opening Remarks: John Begala, The Center for Community Solutions

8:45 am to 10 am
Panel I - 21st Century Government: Consolidation & Smart Growth
Moderator: Lavea Brachman, Greater Ohio Policy Center
* Eric Fingerhut, former Chancellor, Ohio Board of Regents
* Mayor Karl Dean, City of Nashville (Invited)
* Mayor Michael Bell, City of Toledo

10:15 am to 10:30 a.m

10:30 am to 11:45 am
Panel II - Reforming Health Care: Improving Coverage & Outcomes While Restraining Costs
Moderator: Jon Honeck, The Center for Community Solutions
* Patrick Dugan, Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, Medical Mutual
* Edmund Haislmaier, Senior Research Fellow, Health Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation
* Amy Rohling McGee, President, Health Policy Institute of Ohio

11:45 am to 12:00 p.m

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
National Debt, Deficits & the Future of Fiscal Federalism
Moderator: Colleen Marshall, Anchor, NBC4
* Arthur Laffer, Founder and Chairman, Laffer Associates and The Laffer Center for Supply-Side Economics
I* Alice Rivlin, Member, National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and former Director of Office of Management and Budget

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm
Panel III: Government Pensions: Balancing the Interests of the Public & their Employees
Moderator: Matt Mayer, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions
* Daniel Liljenquist, Utah State Senator
* Hank Kim, Executive Director & Counsel, National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems
* Andrew Biggs, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

2:30 pm to 2:45 pm

2:45 pm to 3:45 pm
Panel IV: State & Local Taxes & Ohio's Future Prosperity
Moderator: Gene Krebs, Greater Ohio Policy Center
* Mayor Don Plusquellic, City of Akron
* Bob Williams, President, State Budget Solutions
* Nick Johnson, Vice President for State Fiscal Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

4:00 pm to 5:15 pm
Panel V: Ohio's Constitutional Review: Maintaining Tradition & Meeting New Needs
Moderator: John Begala
* William Batchelder III, Speaker, Ohio House of Representatives
* Michael Curtin, Editor Emeritus, Columbus Dispatch
* Steven Steinglass, Dean Emeritus, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

5:15 pm
Conference Closing Remarks: Lavea Brachman

5:30 pm to 6:15 pm

6:30 pm to 8:15 pm
Dinner Keynote Address: Where Is America Headed?
Introductory Remarks: Matt Mayer

Walter Russell Mead, James Clark Chase Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College & Editor-at-Large of The American Interest

Dinner Closing Remarks: John Begala


How much does union release time cost the taxpayer?

That's a great question and one we should have an answer to since our tax dollars are actually paying for union people to do union work.

Release time, as it's referred to in all the contracts, is time that a public employee spends doing union work, rather than their public job.

You see, whenever an employee gets into trouble, they're entitled to union representation per the terms of the contracts. That's not really a problem except that the representation is usually by an another employee - a steward or union officer - who needs to be 'released' from their regular duties in order to perform their union one. This release time can be extensive if the charge is major and grievances/appeals of discipline result.

Negotiations are another example of union release time. Employees are 'released' from their regular work duties to participate in negotiations with management.

Quite often, it's not just a single employee. Sometimes it's more than one (especially when the time is for negotiations) and a paid union staff person is also present.

Additionally, sometimes the public employee is given an extended leave of absence in order to serve as a paid employee of the union. Their employment with the city is 'saved' for the period of time they are working for the union. While they get no benefits or pay during that time frame, they have the security of returning to the public position if it turns out they don't like their new job.

Sometimes, union officers are completely 'released' from all public work requirements because their unions are so large as to require full-time work by the officer. In these cases, the employee is paid their salary, earns their benefits and accumulates seniority during the time that they are working 100% for the union.

In Phoenix, the Goldwater Institute has calculated the cost of union release time.

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

For top officers, the typical amount of annual release time is 2,080 hours, a full year of work based on 52 weeks at 40 hours each. They continue to draw full pay and benefits, just as if they were showing up for their regular jobs. But they are released from their regular duties to conduct undefined union business.

Union officials say the time is a good investment that leads to a more productive workforce. Critics say it amounts to an illegal gift of taxpayer money.

“It’s shocking,” said Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who has battled with unions that represent city workers over employee pay and his efforts to trim spending. “Taxpayers should not be funding union activities. It should all come out of union dues.”

This investigative report is pretty extensive in documenting the hours and costs of the release time, as well as some of the history of how the release time was established.

There are valid arguments that can be made for such things as releasing union stewards for training on new contracts or for allowing employees charged with discipline to have representation. But over the years, the amount of time as well as the number of public employees who are released has grown.

In many cases, as with the Phoenix councilman quoted above, elected officials voting on the contracts have no clear understanding of the amount of release time or much less the cost. (Though why he hadn't read a contract he voted on is another matter entirely!)

All of Toledo's union contracts contain release time - as do most contracts in other cities and at the state level. It's valid to question how much taxpayer money is being spent to pay for the work the union is doing - work that perhaps union dues should cover instead of the taxpayer.

OEA deletes blog due to negative comments from own members

Jason Hart, who writes at that hero, has done some great work exposing the hypocrisy of the Ohio Education Association by detailing what OEA members were saying about their own union on the union's blog.

But surprisingly, the union didn't like it, so now the webpage is gone.

Yes, they removed not just the comments, but the whole page where their own members had criticized everything from charges of "hypocrisy, adamant in taking positions it tells its local affiliates to fight at all costs," to exposing the OEA's failure to bargain in good faith.

Fortunately, Hart printed out the entire OEA blog so all the comments have been saved.

The worst part of all of this isn't just that the OEA deleted all negative comments about their actions. It's that OEA is one of the largest in-state funders of the We Are Ohio campaign pushing to defeat Ohio Issue 2 - the union reform legislation.

So, as Hart asks, you have to wonder just how valid their claims of “solidarity” and “speaking for working people” are when there is clear evidence from their own members that they fail to live up to such standards.

Read the entire post here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Proposed maps for Ohio state legislative districts to be available

Press Release:

Timeline for Availability of Proposed Maps for State Legislative Reapportionment

COLUMBUS—The Joint Secretaries of the Ohio Apportionment Board have announced a timeline and process for availability of proposed state legislative maps today. The Joint Secretaries are making every effort to ensure all publicly submitted maps that meet today’s noon deadline for submission will be posted on a rolling basis at

Copies of the proposed map by the Joint Secretaries of the Apportionment Board will be on display and made available for pickup outside the House Chamber today at 11:30 a.m.

All Maps
Available as submitted on a rolling basis at

Proposed Map from Joint Secretaries of Apportionment Board
Copies available outside the House Chamber beginning at 11:30 today. Please note that each news organization will be limited to one copy; this and all other maps will be posted at this afternoon.


Save the Date: October 6th Taxpayer Town Hall on Issue 2

Via email from Americans for Prosperity - Ohio Chapter:

Americans for Prosperity-Ohio is continuing a statewide series of Taxpayer Town Halls on Thursday, October 6th in the Greater Toledo Area. Children of Liberty is partnering with us on this town hall which will explain what Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5) really does and why it it critical to moving Ohio toward a brighter future for all of us.

The town hall will feature Buckeye Institute President Matt Mayer and others as panelists and speakers, and will be moderated by former State Representative and AFP-Ohio Policy Director Seth Morgan.

We will focus on the financial crises faced by many of our cities, townships, villages, and schools, how these crises could affect Ohio's jobs and citizens, and how State Issue 2 (Senate Bill 5) can help solve these crises and help bring a strong and healthy economy back to Ohio.

Please join us and bring your friends, family, and neighbors to learn more and find out what you can do to take back your future.

What: Taxpayer Town Hall
When: Thursday, October 6th, 2011, 6:30pm
Where: Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St., Maumee, OH, 43537
Registration: Click here to register (although registration is appreciated, it is not required)

We've hosted town halls in Cincinnati-East, Troy, Tiffin, Zanesville, and Cincinnati-West. Over the next few weeks, we will partner with other liberty organizations to host Taxpayer Town halls in Norwalk, Mount Vernon, Canton, and additional locations to be announced. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Report shows Obamacare will have costly impact on Ohio

The Ohio Department of Insurance has analyzed Obamacare and its impacts on Ohio - and it's not good news.

From the press release about the report (emphasis added):

The report, conducted by Milliman, Inc., projects the impacts of the federal health care reform law starting in 2014, which is when most of the law’s provisions go into effect. The report shows significant changes that will increase premiums while dramatically expanding government programs.

"As I have been saying, the impacts of Obamacare will be widespread and expensive," Taylor said. "This report clearly shows what I have long predicted; Obamacare will result in bigger government, unsustainable costs, and ultimately, less consumer choice."

The report, available here, anticipates that premiums individuals pay could increase from 55-85% in 2014 - and that's not counting the existing trend of yearly increases which have averaged from 7-8% nationwide.

They expect that some people, depending on their individual health conditions, could see premiums rise by up to 130%, though they do show that some might actually see a decrease in costs.

The news for small group employers (those with 2-50 employees) could go up by as much as 15%, again, not including the yearly increases everyone sees. But groups with high numbers of employees with health issues could see their premiums rise by as much as 150%. Small groups with employees that have good health could see some decreases.

The report also predicts that more than 1,000,000 will be added to the state's Medicaid rolls while more than 500,000 will probably end up in the government-subsidized individual exchange. They anticipate that, when Obamacare is fully implemented, roughly half of Ohioans would be in some type of government-subsidized health care.

As Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor said,

"These results are alarming when you consider what is going to happen to Ohio's already competitive insurance market. While Obamacare supporters may argue these changes are necessary to ensure access, the results mean even more financial burden on the backs of taxpayers."

And how much will that financial burden be?

The report projects that the annual operating costs, for which the state is responsible, will be between $19-34 million once the exchange is up and running - and that doesn't include any of the costs of the computer systems necessary to run the mandated exchange.

So while our own costs will go up - either through our employer passing along their increases or directly for those of us who purchase our own insurance coverage - our taxes will have to go up to cover the yearly operating costs of the federally mandated exchanges.

Again - we'll be paying for ourselves and then paying for everyone else, too.

What a bargain!

Thursday roundup: class warfare, taxes, plastic bags and more

I can't help but wonder why people don't educate themselves more. This article, "Class Warfare: American Communists of 1928 Compared to Barack Obama" on, takes a look at the positions of the American Communists in 1928 and compares them to what our president - and many elected officials on the left as well as union leaders - are saying and advocating.

When the people who lead your organization sound exactly like the American Communist Party, you really need to think about your organization and your membership in it.


Also on is this post about "Green Profiteers and Plastic Bags." It looks at some of the claims being made by reusable bag manufacturers in their bid to eliminate disposable plastic bags - and shows why many of the claims are false.

Plastic bag makers sued - and won! But several towns in California have already banned the use of the plastic bags - or are imposing a tax on them as a former Toledo mayor wanted to do.

What I find so ridiculous is that we had to stop using paper bags because they were killing the trees, despite the fact that trees are actually a *renewable* resource, as we can always plant and grow more. The plastic bags, being recyclable, were supposed to be better for the environment and easier for stores to use. But then we find that, according to environmentalists, people aren't really recycling these bags (those nasty consumers!) so we need to go to reusable cloth (or other similar material) bags. And some are even saying we should go back to paper bags.

In Lancaster, PA, where my husband is working, you cannot put your newspapers in the recycling bin - you actually have to put them into a *paper* bag, or bind them with a specific type of biodegradable twine.

I just wish people (i.e. environmentalists and politicians) would actually think through the consequences of what they promote prior to promoting it and making it law.

Sadly, too many people act on emotions rather than logic.


From comes a synopsis of a recent article by Steve Conover, "The Myth of Middle Class Stagnation," in the September 16, 2011, issue of The American:

Conventional wisdom says that the middle class hasn't caught a break for at least a decade and incomes have stagnated or declined. But new research corrects a misconception regarding middle-class income, and therefore should come as a pleasant surprise -- not just to members of the middle class, but also to pundits, journalists, and of course, politicians, says Steve Conover.

* In the seven years from 2001-2007 (inclusive), not only did the middle class get at least its fair share of overall income growth, the income gap between the rich and the middle class actually got smaller.
* In an apparent paradox, the same Census Bureau database that told us that median household income was essentially unchanged in 2007 versus 2000 also tells us that the middle class enjoyed a higher income growth rate than did either the overall economy or the rich -- and therefore that their income gap versus the rich had actually decreased.

The key lies in the difference between the "median household" versus the "middle class." The median household is a single theoretical household exactly in the middle of the entire income-ranked list of U.S. households. Conversely, the "middle class" has no official definition, but it is certainly tens of millions of households in size and presumably centered around the median household.

Again, if people would only educate themselves rather than just accept talking points, we'd all be much better off.


Finally, this chart and analysis show that the way to boost 'revenue' to the government is very simple and - surprise! - it doesn't involve taxing the rich or the evil corporations.

This analysis shows that no matter what you do to tax rates, the biggest thing you can do to boost tax revenue is boost household income.

Imagine that!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ohio redistricting plan goes to governor for signature

Press Release:

Ohio House Approves Senate Changes to Redistricting Bill

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today voted to concur on Senate changes to House Bill 319, which establishes boundaries for Ohio’s 16 congressional districts based on the 2010 decennial census.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee added a $2.75 million appropriation to House Bill 319, which will be utilized by local boards of elections for preparation for the new district lines. This amendment was approved by the House with bipartisan support.

“This amendment will provide local governments the tools they need to prepare for upcoming elections and adapt to the newly drawn districts,” said State Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima).

House Bill 319 had passed from the House with bipartisan support on September 15th. It complies with the Voting Rights Act and U.S. Supreme Court precedents to ensure that the civil rights of minority communities are protected during the redistricting process. It also treats incumbent candidates equally, with three Republican and three Democrat incumbents drawn into overlapping territories.

Having passed both the House and the Senate, House Bill 319 will now move to the governor for his signature.


A perfect example of Toledo Council's devotion to unions over taxpayers

Last night Toledo City Council decided to postpone the administration's proposal to implement the terms of a fact finder's report on the AFSCME contract with the city.

One of the things that struck me in the report on the meeting was this:

"Steven Steel accused the administration of trying to “bully” council to vote for the contract..."

But, according to several news reports, the audience for this meeting, and this vote in particular, consisted of "hundreds of angry union members..."

Does anyone else see the irony?

But that's not all. Council's action last night is a perfect example of our elected officials' devotion to unions over taxpayers.

Last night, multiple members of council decided that the city needed to go back to the table for more negotiations. They couldn't understand why the administration had declared an impasse if the union still wanted to negotiate.

But their idiocy - and their willingness to cater to and adopt the union position - was in full view.

They were being asked to implement a fact finder's report. And how, exactly, do you end up with a fact finder's report? Well, both sides must declare an impasse and agree to bring in a fact finder.

Obviously, a bunch of current and former union members would know this simple basic fact of negotiations. But they were intentionally ignoring it.

You see, the union, having agreed with the administration that they were at an impasse and needed to bring in a fact finder, decided they didn't like the report that resulted. So now they want more negotiations - after the fact. As a result, council members accused the mayor of not wanting to sit down and bargain. Talk about spin....

The administration is correct in submitting the report for council approval. Council is wrong to not support the administration in this regard. Apparently, they'd rather adopt the union position than do what is right for the taxpayers. But this goes back to what I've said in the past about the symbiotic relationship our elected officials have with the unions:

The public sector unions rely upon agreements negotiated with mayors, governors, etc. They then rely upon votes by elected council members, commissioners, trustees, school board members or legislatures. These same individuals who are actually deciding upon the terms of the contracts are the same people who beg for endorsements from those same unions.

Elected officials seek union endorsements - and the contributions and volunteers that come along with those endorsements. The people making the decision about the compensation and other working terms are often dependent upon the recipients for their elected position.

The taxpayer, the ones the elected officials are supposed to representing, is more often than not left out in the cold - consistently being expected to fork over more money in taxes and fees so the benefits can flow to both sides (government and union).

This is clearly a conflict of interest, but one that is never raised because it would result in the end of the mutually-beneficial arrangement.

So rather than think about the taxpayer, our elected members of council took the union's side in the dispute and insisted that the administration re-open negotiations - all to make the union members - the "angry" union members - happy.

Do you see now why we need to pass Issue 2?

Will new DOL rules result in hit lists of people to be targeted by unions?

From LaborUnionReport comes this scary provision in a new rule under consideration by the Department of Labor. I expect the new rule to be implemented - so at least you'll know what's coming.

As a preface, sometimes it helps to have been “on the other side” when trying to determine what the unions’ game plan is within the Obama Administration. What you are about to read comes from having been on the other side and, quite frankly, putting two and two together. And, if you are not alarmed when you finish reading this, you should be, because there may be something much more sinister afoot at the Department of Labor than most people realize.

Yesterday, information was shared with you about the importance of submitting a comment by Wednesday on the Department of Labor’s proposed regulatory change on who would be newly classified as ‘persuaders.’

There has been one sentence, more than others, in the Department of Labor’s 160-page proposed rule change that indicates the DOL’s expansion of the definition of ‘persuader’ to mean just about any vendor who has anything to do directly or indirectly with an employer’s relationship with employees since activities may implicitly influence the decisions of employees with regard in the exercise of their rights in the workplace.

Until now, however, one part of the sentence has been overlooked which, unless addressed, may cause individuals great harm—literally, physical harm.

The post also includes this summary:

Under the Department of Labor’s proposal, not only will the firms that supply replacement workers like be required to file reports with the Department of Labor, it is highly likely that the Department of Labor will require the replacement workers themselves have to file with the DOL, which will then make the information public, on the internet, for union bosses (and others to view).

Read the entire post - and be sure to note the U.S. Supreme Court case which gives cover to those who commit union violence - here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Raid at the local IHOPs

WTOL is reporting that search warrants were executed this morning at several Northwest Ohio IHOP locations:

-Talmadge Road in west Toledo

-Fremont-Pike location in Perrysburg

-Airport Highway

-Central Avenue

According to the county's AREIS website, the Talmadge Road location is owned by Talmadge HOP Investors, LLC, a company incorporated in 2004 and registered with the State of Ohio listing Todd J. Kuhn as their agent. Kuhn is listed as the agent on multiple corporations in the state of Ohio. The news station reported that all these locations are owned by the same private company.

According to WTOL:

Homeland Security, and the FBI are involved in a joint investigation with the Toledo Police Department assisting. They have only revealed so far that it is a closed investigation.

We have learned they are investigating terrorist accusations including money laundering as well possible illegal workers at many locations across the country right now. It is not yet known if all the locations nationally are IHOP restaurants.

Putting the federal budget into perspective

This was sent to me via email from my friend Tom...I don't know the source, but I think it's pretty telling and really helps people understand the federal budget:

China's actions send light bulb prices soaring

Well, we can thank the U.S. Congress, President George W. Bush, the Environmental Protection Agency and a bunch of globaloney junk science 'experts' for this ....

Starting next year, the United States will begin phasing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, light-emitting diodes (LED) and other technologies. Oh - and the European Union has also mandated a switch.

Politicians and environmentalists rejoiced while regular people like you and me questioned how a light bulb that requires special disposal methods if broken could actually qualify as 'better.'

It's not just the mercury disposal - there are other drawbacks to CFLs, like the time it takes them to get to full strength, especially in colder temperatures, the type of light they emit which some people don't like, and their inability to work with dimmers.

But one of the biggest impacts of the upcoming ban is the impact it had on manufacturing in our country. Many incandescent bulb makers closed up shop and moved their production to countries that still allow such bulbs, like Mexico.

So where are the new, mercury-laden bulbs being produced? China.

And the latest news is that China has closed or nationalized their producers of rare earth metals, the materials which are used in these CFL bulbs and other 'green' products, which has sent their prices skyrocketing.

BEIJING — In the name of fighting pollution, China has sent the price of compact fluorescent light bulbs soaring in the United States.

By closing or nationalizing dozens of the producers of rare earth metals — which are used in energy-efficient bulbs and many other green-energy products — China is temporarily shutting down most of the industry and crimping the global supply of the vital resources.

China produces nearly 95 percent of the world’s rare earth materials, and it is taking the steps to improve pollution controls in a notoriously toxic mining and processing industry. But the moves also have potential international trade implications and have started yet another round of price increases for rare earths, which are vital for green-energy products including giant wind turbines, hybrid gasoline-electric cars and compact fluorescent bulbs.

General Electric, facing complaints in the United States about rising prices for its compact fluorescent bulbs, recently noted in a statement that if the rate of inflation over the last 12 months on the rare earth element europium oxide had been applied to a $2 cup of coffee, that coffee would now cost $24.55.

An 11-watt G.E. compact fluorescent bulb — the lighting equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb — was priced on Thursday at $15.88 on Wal-Mart’s Web site for pickup in a Nashville, Ark., store.
(emphasis added)

CFLs are more expensive than incandescents to begin with - and now their price is going up even more. Even Walmart had to raise the price they charge!

But it's not just the light bulbs. These rare earth metals are used in a lot of 'green' products (emphasis added):

“The high cost of rare earths is having a significant chilling effect on wind turbine and electric motor production in spite of offsetting government subsidies for green tech products,” said one of the conference attendees, Michael N. Silver, chairman and chief executive of American Elements, a chemical company based in Los Angeles. It supplies rare earths and other high-tech materials to a wide range of American and foreign businesses.

The linked article explains that this shut-down is expected to last for about three months and, because they're using the excuse of 'environmental concerns,' "China could potentially try to circumvent international trade rules that are supposed to prohibit export restrictions of vital materials."

Imagine that! Do you think any politician or environmentalist thought about the fact that China is pretty much the only supplier for these materials and that, by eliminating 'old' alternatives, we'd be at the mercy of this communist nation? Don't you just hate those unintended consequences that politicians never consider?!?

But that's not all:

China has been imposing tariffs and quotas on its rare earth exports for the last several years, curtailing global supplies and forcing prices to rise eightfold to fortyfold during that period for the various 17 rare earth elements.

Even before this latest move by China, the United States and the European Union were preparing to file a case at the W.T.O. this winter that would challenge Chinese export taxes and export quotas on rare earths.

So now we have no alternatives and are at the mercy of the Chinese government and their whims since they're taking over the independent producers.

Beijing authorities are creating a single government-controlled monopoly, Bao Gang Rare Earth, to mine and process ore in northern China, the region that accounts for two-thirds of China’s output. The government is ordering 31 mostly private rare earth processing companies to close this year in that region and is forcing four other companies into mergers with Bao Gang, said Li Zhong, the vice general manager of Bao Gang Rare Earth.

The government also plans to consolidate 80 percent of the production from southern China, which produces the rest of China’s rare earths, into three companies within the next year or two, Mr. Li said. All three of these companies are former ministries of the Chinese government that were spun out as corporations, and the central government still owns most of the shares.

The Chinese government now has a monopoly. The prices have already gone up and are likely to go up even more.

Aren't you glad we're no longer making and using incandescent bulbs in the U.S.?

I think this qualifies as 'stuck-on-stupid.'

Quote of the Day - 'no' and 'not'

"No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words 'no' and 'not' employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights." ~ Rev. Edmund A. Opitz

Monday, September 19, 2011

We don't need another Obama czar

In case you missed it, President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act creates another czar.


That's right. But wait, there's more...

It's not just a new czar - it's an entire new agency. And one that duplicates existing federal agencies already in place. Can you say 'stuck-on-stupid'?

American Infrastructure Financing Authority (AIFA) will be the name, complete with staff, office space, computers and phones and desks, etc.., etc..., etc.... And don't forget its 7-member board!

And what, exactly, is this new agency supposed to do? Well, this article spells it out nicely - including the duplication:

All of the infrastructure projects and tasks identified to be performed by Obama’s new Czar are already the responsibilities of the Senate-confirmed heads of Department of Transportation, the U.S. General Services Administration and the Department of Energy.

Some of these tasks are:

"oversee entering into and carry out contracts, leases, cooperative agreements or any other transactions as are necessary"

to approve the acquisition, lease, pledge, exchange and disposal of real personal property

to review all financial assistance packages to all eligible infrastructure projects" which includes “any non-Federal transportation, water, or energy infrastructure project, or an aggregation of such infrastructure projects, as provided in this Act.

the construction, alteration, or repair, including the facilitation of intermodal transit, of the following subsectors:
· Highways or roads.

· Bridges.

· Mass transit.

· Inland waterways.

· Commercial ports.

· Airports.

· Air traffic control systems.

· Passenger rail, including high-speed rail.

· Freight rail systems.

· Waterwaste treatment facilities.

· Storm water management systems.

· Dams.

· Solid waste disposal facilities.

· Drinking water treatment facilities.

· Levees.

· Open space management systems.

· Pollution reduced energy generation.

· Transmission and distribution.

· Storage.

· Energy efficiency enhancements for buildings, including public and commercial buildings.

Obviously, our president doesn't think the existing agencies can do their jobs or else he wouldn't be proposing to duplicate/replace them. Of course, it could be that he just wants to have political control over all the spending he's proposing rather than run it though the existing agencies with their rules, regulations and congressional oversight. You decide.

Either way, we don't need to create a new agency, a new board and a new czar - that's just plain 'stuck-on-stupid' when everyone, including the President, is talking about raising taxes and cutting spending elsewhere just to pay for this latest stimulus inaccurately called the American Jobs Act.

A tale of three cities: Houston, Detroit and Toledo

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." ~ George Santayana

Mario Loyola has a great column on that takes a look at two cities and their different approaches to similar circumstances.

He writes:

What Houston did for itself is not merely a model for any city facing the danger of sudden economic decline: The policies that Houston and Texas have followed are proof of concept for the conservative vision of government, which is, essentially, to keep the government off the people’s backs and let a free society find its own way to prosperity.

Detroit, conversely, is proof of concept for the liberal vision of government, which seeks to solve every problem through government, to shape economic development through government, to redress grievances through government, to attain social justice through government, and, finally, to insinuate government into every aspect of our lives. The problems Detroit faced in the latter half of the 20th century would have been enormously challenging no matter what policies it embraced. But it embraced the worst ones and so plunged recklessly down the slope of decline.

Each city has offered a nearly pure exposition of a particular philosophy of government and a vivid demonstration of the results. In the degree of collusion between business and government, in the power of labor unions, in the method of economic development, in the burden of taxation and regulation, in the tolerance for diversity — in all these ways and more, the two cities stand as diametric opposites in the choices a society can make.

Loyola then recites the histories of the two cities, citing their problems and how government officials responded to them. He concludes:

As the next election looms, Americans should consider how rapidly we could unleash the power of American industry and bounce out of this recession, if instead of taking our cue from Detroit, we follow Houston.

But there is a message for Toledo as well. Many have called us 'little Detroit' - and not in a good way. We've not been as reliant upon the auto industry as Detroit was/is, but we still depend upon it as one of our major employers in the area.

Unfortunately, our political leaders are more like Detroit's than Houston's. They tend to adopt the liberal vision of government, "which seeks to solve every problem through government, to shape economic development through government, to redress grievances through government, to attain social justice through government, and, finally, to insinuate government into every aspect of our lives."

If you don't believe me, I challenge you to find any example where our political leaders and the local paper (an opinion 'pusher') have ever embraced a 'leave it alone' approach to anything.

We have two very clear examples with plenty of historical facts and measurable outcomes in Detroit and Houston. We can repeat Detroit's mistakes or we can grow by copying Houston's approach.

As Loyola writes, the choice - and the outcome - is up to us:

But as Oscar Wilde lamented as he languished in Reading Gaol near the end of his life: “I must say to myself that I ruined myself, and that nobody great or small can be ruined except by his own hand . . . Terrible as was what the world did to me, what I did to myself was far more terrible still.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Constitution Day 2011

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." ~ Abraham Lincoln

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

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks." ~ Samuel Adams

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.

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government." ~ James Madison

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.

"The U. S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself." ~ Benjamin Franklin

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.

"To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race." ~ Calvin Coolidge

If it's been a while since you read it, please take the time to do so now. Know what it says, what it does in terms of granting only limited powers to our federal government and pay attention to what our elected officials are saying and doing when it comes to carrying out those 'limited' tasks. And when they exceed the authority of the Constitution, hold them accountable.

"I will always vote what I have promised, and always vote the Constitution..." ~ Ron Paul

If you'd like more information, you can visit The Constitution Center, Constitution Facts or Constitution Day.

"The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon." ~ George Washington

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quotes of the Day - political games, emergencies and revolutions

We’re in a national emergency. We’ve been grappling with a crisis for three years, and instead of getting folks to rise up above partisanship in a spirit that says we’re all in this together, we got folks who are purposely dividing, purposely thinking just in terms of how does this play out just in terms of this election.” ~ President Barack Obama from Politico

"Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'emergency'. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And 'emergency' became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains." ~ Herbert Hoover

The above quote by Pres. Obama also contrasts against his latest move to highlight a bridge between Ohio and Kentucky as part of his 'love me - pass my bill' tour:

"President Obama’s decision to travel next Thursday to the failing Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati is a remarkable slap at both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the very moment Obama says he is trying to work with the GOP leadership to pass a jobs bill.
The bridge connects Cincinnati with Covington, Kentucky, making Obama’s highlighting of its disrepair bad public relations for both McConnell – the Republican senator from Kentucky – and Boehner.
(White House Press Secretary Jay) Carney denied that the White House had chosen the bridge to slight the Speaker."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ohio House passes redistricting legislation

Press Release:

Congressional Map Receives Bipartisan Support in Ohio House

Proposed fair and legal map garners support from Cuyahoga County Democrats

COLUMBUS—After months of diligent work and many regional hearings throughout Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 319, which establishes boundaries for Ohio’s 16 congressional districts based on the 2010 decennial census. The legislation—which passed with bipartisan support—adheres to the U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act to ensure that it respects all requirements set forth in law.

“I am very pleased with the hard work of Chairman Huffman and the members of the House State Government and Elections Committee in creating a map that is fair, legal and in the best interest of all Ohioans,” said Speaker of the House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “Most importantly, we have maintained a transparent process by taking the discussions to all corners of Ohio and soliciting the opinions of the people.”

“We held five regional hearings to gain feedback from Ohioans, and their suggestions and concerns were taken into consideration in drafting this proposal,” said State Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who serves as chairman of the State Government and Elections Committee. “I applaud the timely action by my colleagues in the House to pass this bill and ensure that county boards of elections have adequate time to prepare for upcoming elections.”

The map outlined in H.B. 319 treats incumbent candidates equally, with three Republican and three Democrat incumbents drawn into overlapping territories. It also complies with clear precedents of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court in ensuring that the civil rights of minority communities are protected in the redistricting process. Similarly, it creates an additional minority opportunity district in Franklin County.

However, despite the opportunity for bipartisanship in the redrawing of district lines, the House Republican Caucus did not receive a single suggestion for a congressional map from the House Democrats—even though the minority caucus was granted equal funding for such a project. Like all Ohioans, the House Democrats were encouraged to research and submit congressional map proposals for consideration by the State Government and Elections Committee.

“Although many Ohioans took the time to prepare maps for submission, I am disappointed that the House Democrat Caucus snubbed the opportunity to provide their own ideas, yet continue to criticize from the sidelines,” Huffman said. “This map will impact Ohioans for the next decade and will play an enormous role within our communities. All lawmakers have an obligation to represent their constituents by leading with common-sense, bipartisan solutions, not partisan rhetoric. However, I am extremely pleased that Representatives Barnes, Patmon and Williams expressed their support for this common-sense measure and recognized the benefits of this proposal for all Ohioans—Republican and Democrat, urban and rural.”

House Bill 319 has received the support of the Ohio Association of Election Officials, which “commends the House for working in a timely fashion to pass a congressional redistricting bill,” according to Executive Director Aaron Ockerman.

H.B. 319 will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration and debate.


Better Ohio's second Issue 2 ad and statewide leadership coalition

Building a Better Ohio has released a second pro-Issue 2 ad entitled "The Facts."

They also announced their state-wide leadership coalition, though conspicuously absent is anyone from the Toledo/Northwest Ohio area.

(Columbus) – The Building a Better Ohio campaign announced today its statewide leadership coalition at an event hosted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

“These job-creator organizations standing with us know firsthand why passage of Issue 2 is crucial to the economic stability of our state,” said campaign spokesman Jason Mauk. “Representing hundreds of thousands of employers and employees, they believe that Ohioans deserve the facts on Issue 2. Unfortunately, opponents have made it clear that they want to talk about anything but what is actually in Issue 2. As members of our statewide leadership coalition, these organizations will help lead the charge to educate voters to ensure they know what Issue 2 is really about – fairness, accountability for taxpayers, and getting Ohio back on track.”

The following organizations and individuals participated in today’s event:

* Associated Builders and Contractors – Thaddeus Claggett, Chairman
* NFIB/Ohio - Roger Geiger, VP/Executive Director
* Ohio Chamber of Commerce - Linda Woggon, Executive VP of Government Affairs
* Ohio Farm Bureau Federation - Steve Hirsch, Farmer President
* Ohio Manufacturers’ Association – Eric Burkland, President
* Ohio Society of CPAs – Walt Eckert of Russell, Board Member
* Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce – Matt Davis, VP of Government Affairs
* Columbus Chamber of Commerce – Mike Hartley, VP of Government Relations
* Dayton Chamber of Commerce – Chris Kershner, VP of Public Policy & Economic Development
* Greater Cleveland Partnership – Martin McGann, VP of State and Local Government Affairs

Issue 2 makes long overdue reforms to Ohio’s costly and unfair government employment practices. These reforms include asking government employees to earn pay raises in part based on job performance and to pay at least 15 percent of their health insurance premium and 10 percent of their pension contribution. They are estimated to save local communities millions of dollars annually, which will help save jobs, balance budgets and avoid the endless demand for local tax increases. Issue 2 also contains significant reforms to education by finally adopting policies that reward the best and brightest teachers, while making it harder for bad teachers to hide behind the protections of a union contract.

Quote of the Day - general welfare and tyrants

"The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." ~ Albert Camus

Chief Navarre to retire from TPD

Congratulations to Mike Navarre on his retirement from the Toledo Police Department. Having worked with Mike throughout my political career, first as Clerk of Toledo Municipal Court and then as Lucas County Commissioner, I know we are losing an excellent police officer, conscientious public servant and respected leader.

Mike wasn't flashy like some of Toledo's other chiefs - he quietly went about doing his job in the best way he knew how. As we worked together implementing a criminal-justice-wide computer system, we were in complete agreement that nothing we did with the system could put response time - and thus the safety of our officers on the street - at risk. I was always impressed that, despite any other political pressures or any other demands, Mike always emphasized the safety of the officers he led.

Over the years, Mike became a friend and I know he's looking forward to no longer having the responsibilities he's shouldered for a significant number of years. He has a significant list of accomplishments to be proud of - and he will be missed.

I also worked with Asst. Chief Derrick Diggs, though he was a lieutenant when we first met, and know he will be another excellent Chief of Police. I wish him all the best!

Here is the press release from the City of Toledo:

Toledo Police Chief Navarre to retire after 33 years of service

Assistant Chief Diggs tapped to be next department leader

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre has announced that he will retire from the department on October 21, 2011. The Chief will join Mayor Michael P. Bell at a press conference at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 15 in the Mayor's office to discuss his retirement and the transition of leadership in the department.

Chief Navarre, 55 years old, was appointed to the police department on July 12, 1977. He was appointed Chief of Police in May of 1998 by then Mayor Carleton S. Finkbeiner, after the departure of Chief Gerald T. Galvin who was appointed to the chief’s position in Albuquerque, New Mexico that year.

The Toledo Police Department has had 27 Chiefs of Police dating back to 1867. Chief Navarre is the third longest serving chief, with close to 13 ½ years, surpassed only by Chief Ray E. Allen Sr. who served from 1936-1956, and Chief Anthony A. Bosch who served from 1956-1970.

During his tenure as Toledo’s “Top Cop”, Chief Navarre implemented the Retired Senior Volunteers on Patrol (RSVP) program in 2000, the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in 2001, and also acquired a police helicopter in 2001. In 2003, the police department became nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). In November 2000, the Toledo Police Department became the first city in the mid-west to utilize photo enforcement at intersections for red light violations.

The number of Block Watch groups in the city of Toledo nearly tripled during his tenure as Chief of Police-from 59 groups in 1998 to nearly 140 today.

Chief Navarre and his wife, Julie, reside in west Toledo. They have four children; their oldest, Lindsay Navarre, is an Assistant Lucas County Prosecutor. Chief Navarre’s father, James, retired in 1981 after 33 years with the police department, and his brother Daniel, a detective, retired in 2010, also with 33 years with the department.

As Chief Navarre departs Mayor Bell has tapped Assistant Chief Derrick Diggs to lead the department and will ask Toledo City Council to confirm his formal appointment as the next Chief of Police. Assistant Chief Diggs is 56 years old and was hired by the police department on July 12, 1977. He was promoted to sergeant May 2, 1986; lieutenant, May 16, 1990; captain, May 26, 1995; and deputy chief on October 10, 2001. He has worked in the Operations Division, Administrative Services Division, Community Affairs, Public Affairs, Recruitment, Investigative Services Division, Special Enforcement Division, Vice/Metro, and Internal Affairs.

"Chief Navarre has provided the Toledo Police Department with steady leadership for the last 13 years," said Mayor Bell. "It was a pleasure to serve with him as Fire Chief and a relief to know I could count on him as Mayor. I know that I can count on the same qualities in Chief Diggs, and trust the department will be well served under his guidance."


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Obama's 'tax cut' isn't a tax cut

Perhaps this is just semantics, but words mean things and I can't find any evidence that President Barack Obama's latest jobs proposal has a 'tax cut' for small businesses.

In my mind, a cut is when what you are currently paying is reduced. Under what I've read (as his bill isn't actually in print anywhere that I could find), the President is offering a lesser rate of taxation on a new activity: for hiring a new employee, there would be a credit of varying amounts depending on the type of employee (veteran, long-term unemployed).

His plan would also reduce the rate of Social Security taxation if there is an increase in payroll. Again, this is only available for a new activity: a pay hike for your employees which raises your payroll.

He also wants to extend the tax break for the purchase of new equipment. But you have to purchase the new equipment to be eligible for the break.

These are not cuts. If you don't actually do these things, you don't benefit. But they are credits.

In Columbus yesterday, Pres. Obama said of his plan:

It will provide tax relief for every worker and small business in America.

But that's not true. Every small business in America will be eligible for the tax relief, but not all will be able to perform the activity that will give them the 'relief.'

This is the same way it was with his 'tax breaks for every American' in 2009 after he first took office. Most of those 'cuts' were just credits for specific acts - like weatherizing your home, buying a new car, buying a new appliance, etc...

Additionally, these specific proposals are designed to be short-term and only 'continue' if you continue the activity - unlike an actual tax cut which would require no action and be in effect unless (or until) a future congress changed the code.

Words are important and when a politician speaks, it's important to know what they're actually saying. In this case, we're not getting a tax cut, no matter what President Obama and his supporters want to call it.

New video debunks second Issue 2 ad from 'We Are Ohio'

From GOHPBlog comes another analysis of the claims being made by the opponents of Issue 2 - primarily unions and the Ohio Democratic Party. The video dissects the 2nd ad paid for by We Are Ohio and puts truth the claims that Issue 2 somehow 'exempts' elected officials from the requirements.

The fact is that the elected officials are already in compliance with Issue 2 provisions! It's so blatantly wrong, I wonder how it doesn't earn a complaint with the Ohio Elections authorities.

Here is the video:

Quote of the Day - dependence vs. responsibility

"There was a time in America not too long ago when people mostly looked out for themselves and their relatives. Parents cared for their children when they were little and the children returned the favor when their parents got old. Now we dump the kids in day care and they return the favor by dumping their elderly parents in nursing homes. The biblical commandment about honoring your mother and father was once taken seriously. Now it's the government's responsibility because too many think we are constitutionally mandated to be free of "burdens."

If we want government to become smaller and perform within its constitutional boundaries, we are going to have to expect less from it and more from ourselves."
(emphasis added) ~ Cal Thomas

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ohio Redistricting Map proposed

Below is the congressional redistricting map that was introduced today in the House State Government and Elections Committee. Press release is below the map.

You'll note that our Congressional District 9 has been changed. It used to contain Toledo, Oregon, Jerusalem Township, and all of Ottawa and Erie Counties, with just a small portion of Lorain County. Now it contains a small portion of Ottawa, about half of Erie and extends into Lorain County with a portion of Cuyahoga carved out for inclusion. It also looks like Oregon has been excluded from the district.

It still follows along the edge of Lake Erie, but talk about gerrymandering - no one in their right mind would draw a district like this.

State Government and Elections Committee Unveils Fair and Legal Congressional Map

COLUMBUS—Today, the House State Government and Elections Committee unveiled the new map of Ohio’s congressional districts, which accounts for population changes over the past decade as determined by the federally administered decennial census.

“This is a fair and legal map that incorporates input from Ohioans across the state,” said State Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima), who serves as chairman of the House State Government and Elections Committee. “We held five regional hearings across Ohio and heard testimony from many witnesses who provided input on what the new congressional map should look like. Based on the public input at these hearings, I am confident that the map I am presenting today accomplishes several goals, among them creating fair and competitive districts.”

The proposed map treats incumbent candidates equally, with three Republican and three Democrat incumbents drawn into overlapping territories as a result of slow regional population growth.

The congressional redistricting plan also protects the civil rights of minority communities by complying with the clear precedents of the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court in creating an African American majority-minority district in Cuyahoga and Summit counties. It also creates a minority opportunity district in Franklin County.

“In drawing these districts and moving House Bill 319 through the legislative process, it was vital to not only respect both Republican and Democrat congressmen, but also to take into account how Ohio’s minority populations will be impacted,” Rep. Huffman said. “It is important that we consider and pass this measure promptly and methodically, so as to ensure that communities and local boards of elections have ample time to prepare for upcoming elections.”

“The Ohio Association of Election Officials commends the House for working in a timely fashion to pass a congressional redistricting bill,” said Aaron Ockerman, Executive Director of the Ohio Association of Election Officials. “It is our hope that the General Assembly will move quickly to pass new lines which, when coupled with passage of a bill to move the primary to May, will help ensure an orderly voting process for all Ohio voters in 2012.”

The congressional district map as outlined in House Bill 319 is the result of months of work and adheres to all requirements set forth in law.

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