Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Toledo City Council Meeting November 29, 2011

Notes from Sherry:

In attendance: Councilmen Craig, Ludeman, Waniewski, Martinez, Collins, Steel, McNamara, Sarantou, Copeland, Councilwomen Brown, Webb, Hicks-Hudson. Deputy Mayor Cruthers, Herwat, and Mayor Bell present.

Item 533 – Resolution – Recognize Pastor Merlin Jacobs – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 529 – Designate Nebraska Ave. from Reynolds to Sibley as Duane C. Tisdale Way – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 530 – Resolution – Recognize Albert (Prince) Bell (Boxing - 1st Place at the Arena – going to the Olympics in 2012) – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 534 – Resolution – Recognize Toledo Free Press and their CD Holiday Wishes – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 528 – Enact Rule of Council No. 49; decorum, including no signs – Hicks-Hudson – send all colleges a note, complete ban – problematic. Steel – please hear from Law Department. Adam Loux – allow signs (size) or no signs (original law or amended law), similar to LA and Dallas,TX laws – Cincinnati has the same law as before you (Amended to have signs of a certain size). Steel – talked to the Sergeant at Arms – easier to enforce complete ban. Webb – gun held to head with these issues – talk about this at the retreat – pass no signs today. Collins – 2' x 3' sign displayed (physically). Adam Loux – without amendment, to Law Department. Hicks-Hudson – table legislation. Passed – Hicks-Hudson – no, rest yes.

Item 531 – Establish Recreation District Steering Committee, 17 members – Webb – amendment – add two more people – one from Parks Board, one from the Boys & Girls Club – passed – all voting yes. Webb – Thank you - Parks and Recreation Committee on shoestring budget.

Item 532 – Amend TMC Ch. 184, Toledo Youth Commission – to Youth, Parks, and Recreation Committee.

Item 535 – Resolution – Request NRC show objectivity/thoroughness regarding license extension for Davis-Besse – to Utilities & Public Services Committee.

Item 536 – Agreement with TPS, WLS, and Chrysler to reduce real estate value, 2010=$169.3M, 2011=$125M, 2012=$104M – passed – all voting yes.

Item 537 – Acquire 69-acre North Towne Square Mall, demolish vacant portions, market for development – Ludeman – good work done. Serum (sp? Lawyer for the people that own North Towne) - disagrees with current owners – separate real estate agents to do closing costs for the City and owners, should be within 10% of each other. Ludeman – received communication from Alexis Road Development Committee on property, OK with demolition of property. Steel – they will get permits once it's passed. Martinez – Amendment proposed – sunset provision, one year. Hicks-Hudson – have this matter held for two weeks – check with Law Department. Sarantou – if matter isn't approved, when does this go to Sheriff's Sale? Serum – two parcels to go to sale in nine months, if agreement isn't kept up. McNamara – go through appropriations. Steel – legislature does not have detail – wait two weeks. Martinez – Amendment. Ludeman – Amendment. Ludeman – change to reflect the agreed upon price – don't want to rush to judgment. Martinez – willing to wait two weeks. Steel – smart to the closing of the agreement. McNamara - 1st Reading tonight.

Item 538 – Resolution – Support application of Toledo Sailing Club to ODNR for navigational buoys in Maumee River – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 539 – Repair/replace fiber optic cables at Water Treatment Plant, $60,000 Water Operating Fund – passed – all voting yes.

Item 540 – Additional appropriation for freight elevator at Water Treatment Plant, $68,000 Water Replacement – passed – all voting yes.

Item 541 – Expenditure to Schumaker Bros. for combined sewer repair at 1849 N. Detroit Ave., $80,951 Sewer Operations – passed – all voting yes.

Item 542 – Budget adjustments necessary for 2011 financial reporting, various funds – Martinez – referral – no response to funds. Cruthers – answers Martinez question. Passed – all voting yes.

Item 543 – Providing for the 2012 Assessed Services Program – Street Services, $21,140,410 (2011=$20,598,435) - 1st Reading.

Item 544 - Providing for the 2012 Assessed Services Program – Citywide St. Lighting, $3,908,076 (2011=$3,689,127) - 1st Reading.

Item 545 - Providing for the 2012 Assessed Services Program – Downtown St. Lighting, $256,199 (2011=$248,142) - 1st Reading.

Item 546 - Providing for the 2012 Assessed Services Program – Street Trees, $4,942,125 (2011=5,003,516) - 1st Reading.

Item 547 - Providing for the 2012 Assessed Services Program – Surface Treatment, $856,940 (2011=$909,673) – 1st Reading.

Item 548 – Disestablish the Parking Garages Fund and transfer amount to General Fund - Amend , passed – all voting yes.

Item 549 – Contract for life insurance coverage for certain City employees, 3 years, $150,000/year various Funds – passed – Waniewski, no – rest yes.

Item 550 – Amend TMC Sec. 733.01 & 733.09 adding provisions regulating the sale of catalytic converters – passed – all voting yes.

Item 431 – Amend Toledo Expansion Incentive Program (TEI) Guidelines (Approved 4 – 2) – Martinez – doesn't agree with hodge podge of putting this together – hold tight for a couple of months. Cruthers – in 2007 we created expansion program – would like to move forward with this – don't want to muddy the waters – representative from DEIP – eliminate – sitting down with those folks and retaining them – remove point 5. Ludeman – work in progress – pass tonight – SEP tonight. McNamara – want to see what Economic Development produces (jobs), we have stats on many different things. Cruthers – TEI Program holds us back. Martinez – (goes over same points as before) – time to revisit – taking this out – legal conversation. Roll call – Martinez amendment - no – Collins, Hicks-Hudson, Martinez, McNamara. Yes – Waniewski, Craig, Ludeman, Brown, Sarantou, Steel, Copeland, Webb – motion carried. Passed – Martinez, McNamara – no, rest yes.

Item 494 – Establish an Economic Incentive Task Force, 21 members (Approved 6 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 551 – Amend 20/20 Plan for 2011 Toledo Downtown Plan (Approved 6 – 0) – Webb – this is for downtown folks. Passed – all voting yes.

Item 552 – Amend TMC Ch. 1104, 1107 & 1116 to establish guidelines for SUP for halfway houses (Approved 6 – 0) – passed – all voting yes. Martinez – Hicks-Hudson – job well done.

Item 553 – SUP for addition to existing convenience store at 551 East Broadway (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 554 - SUP for addition to existing convenience store at 2350 Airport Highway (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 555 – Zone change at 1804 N. Detroit Ave. (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 556 – Amend Planned Unit Development for addition of 90 units at 5916 Cresthaven Lane (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 557 – Zone change at 5916 Cresthaven Lane (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Item 558 – SUP for used vehicle sales at 728 – 736 Woodville Road & 607, 611 & 627 Navarre Ave. (Approved 5 – 0) – passed – all voting yes.

Last Call:

Webb - 1) Display, December 12th, 7 PM, Urban League, Library Village.

2) Caroling, December 15th, 7 PM, Friendship Community Center. Program on North Towne Mall issue – ready to move on.

Ludeman – Margaret's 31st Birthday.

Martinez – referral for docks (the actual docks) – how will they be used?

Sarantou – thanks to the Administration, for getting back to Mr. McNamara and myself on the flooding.

Waniewski – comment to the Administration – leaves blocking the sewers in the Harvest area. Congratulations to the Whitmer Football Team.

Brown – 3 PM tomorrow Neighborhoods Committee.

Mayor – Meeting on the 3/4% tax, Monday, 4 PM - 90 day window - 1/4 of the 3/4 to be taken from CIP for Police/Fire to the GF for roads. (We are open to this.) Collins – raise the 3/4% to 2-1/4% and make it permanent tax instead of temporary, it has been temporary for 20 years. The City know we are good stewards of their money. Webb – Why Primaries in March? Mayor – if we don't succeed in March, submit for Primaries June. If we don't succeed in June, submit in General Election in November.

Special meeting to discuss 3/4% payroll income tax

Toledo City Council will hold a special meeting Monday, Dec. 5th, at 4 p.m. to discuss Mayor Mike Bell's request to put the renewal of the 3/4% payroll income tax on the March 2012 primary ballot.

The Board of Elections deadline for the March ballot is Dec. 7th.

For more information about the request and the plans for the 3/4% tax, please read
my post, Toledo politicians just want 'more, more, more'.

Ode to the Welfare State

This was sent to me by a friend and I thought I'd share it. Sadly, it's too true, even today. You can click on the image for a larger view.

Toledo politicians just want 'more, more, more'

Mark Steyn recently wrote:

I see Andrea True died earlier this month. The late disco diva enjoyed a brief moment of global celebrity in 1976 with her ubiquitous glitterball favorite:

More More More
How do you like it?
How do you like it?
More More More
How do you like it?
How do you like it?

In honor of Andrea’s passing, I have asked my congressman to propose the adoption of this song as the U.S. national anthem. True, Miss True wrote the number as an autobiographical reflection on her days as a porn-movie actress but, consciously or not, it accurately distills the essence of American governmental philosophy in the early 21st century: excess even unto oblivion.

In case you weren't into disco, you can view the video here.

Apparently, Toledo is taking its cues from both Steyn and the federal government in always wanting more, as exhibited by the actions at last night's city council meeting.

Mayor Mike Bell asked city council to put the 3/4% payroll income tax renewal on the March ballot. The tax expires at the end of next year. But the kicker is that he wants to divert even more money from the Capital Improvement Plan budget (CIP) to the general fund.

Right now, the money from the 3/4% is split between the CIP, the general fund and police and fire. According to the most recent information I could find, the current allocation is:

* 1/3 for Police and Fire,
* 1/3 for the General Fund,
* 1/3 for Capital Improvements


Until 12/31/12, all or part of this 0.25% may be reallocated to the General Fund at the discretion of the Mayor and City Council.

And that's exactly what they've done - reducing the amount of money going into the CIP so that they can balance the general fund because they don't want to cut anything.

The mayor's proposal for the renewal of this temporary (since 1982) tax is to further reduce the amount that the CIP is getting to only 1/8 of the collected amount. The only good thing I can say about this proposal is that at least he's planning to put it to a vote.

Basically, the 3/4% isn't a temporary tax because it is relied upon for regular and continuing funding of the city operations. It does have to go before a vote of the people on a regular basis, but our local paper has advocated for making a permanent tax. Last night, District 2 Councilman D. Michael Collins jumped on that bandwagon and suggested the same thing.

The problem is that this tax is used for whatever the council/administration want, eliminating the need to actually keep city government within its fiscal means. If they want to spend more money here or there, they just change the allocation of this temporary tax - preferring to use the funds for today's wants while decimating the ability of the city to meet long-term needs through the CIP budget, as the state of our roads clearly attest.

As near as I can tell, over the past several years, they've diverted over $50 million from the CIP to cover every day expenses - primarily because they don't want to make the difficult choices that need to be made.

Routinely, Toledo council has passed budgets which they call balanced, but which, upon examination, show questionable estimates in both revenue and costs (for some examples you can read here, here, here and here).

And routinely, the result is that we end up with budget deficits at the end of year, as we have again this year with an estimated $7 million deficit.

As I wrote in 2009 - and still believe today:

If we keep raiding our capital budget, we won't have any money for structural items like roads, which are a major expenditure out of that fund.

Additionally, I'm tired of city council changing the allocation of this TEMPORARY addition to our payroll taxes. It was originally presented in 1982, the year I graduated from high school, as a temporary tax, but the city relies upon it as a permanent source of revenue. They've continued to spend as if they will always have this income - and the voters have continued to vote in favor of renewal because they're told doom and gloom will result if they don't.

Why did city council want to change the allocation in 2008? They wanted to put more money toward the CIP and they used that idea - and road improvements - as a reason for Toledoans to vote for it. Now, they've decided they want the money for their own pet projects in the General Fund, so they want to again raid the future (CIP) for the present (General Fund). Of course, the ever-present appeal to fear that they need the funds for police and fire, will be utilized.

Well, if they stopped funding all the non-mandatory items, perhaps they'd actually have the funds for the essentials - like police and fire. It's what we do with our own budgets but something government, and Toledo in particular, seems to not understand.

I mean, really, do we need to spend $150,000 on a study about a solar field on the landfill - or money for police and fire? That is the question council should be asking - but they don't. They spend money on such 'studies' while then telling the voters they've cut everywhere they possibly can and there just isn't any money left.

Yeah, right.

I wish the voters would tell council no on Issue 1. Not because I don't want more of those dollars allocated to police and fire, but because council needs to be sent a strong message that they can't just keep moving money around to suit their needs. This ballot measure robs Peter to pay Paul - and costs us more in the long-term than the temporary change will gain us for 2009.

This is still true - and with the mayor's latest proposal, it is continuing. The city's spending routinely exceeds revenue and, instead of reducing the spending, they just transfer money from the CIP, sacrificing our future so they don't have to risk political repercussions for making the decisions we elect them to make.

So the mayor is urging council to put this on the March 2012 ballot. If it doesn't pass then, he'll put it on the ballot in the summer and, if it still doesn't pass, he'll put it on the ballot in November. In effect, he'll keep asking until, like weary parents, the voters give in.

What I wrote in 2009 is even more relevant today as council - and Toledoans - consider the plan to renew the 3/4% payroll income tax which will continue to give council the ability to rob our future for the convenience of our present:

City Council and the Mayor need to learn to live within their means - actually, to live within OUR means - and to make better decisions, not play a constant shell game with our tax dollars.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote of the Day - federal government encroachment

"But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. ... But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity." ~ James Madison

What, indeed?!?

Despite blackmail threat, Toledo should 'just say no' to bailing out North Towne Mall

First, my apologies for not posting earlier, but we were deer hunting (bow) and I have very limited Internet access. This was my third time hunting and I did get a very nice doe with what Sam describes as an excellent shot. Now, back to the news of the day....

I've previously shared with you the plans for demolishing North Towne Mall. Since then, more details have been revealed.

Under the plan, the current owners would pay back taxes (around $200,000) and fees of $70,000 for utilities and other costs incurred by the city. Upon payment, ownership of the property would transfer to the city of Toledo which would then borrow around $700,000 from the federal brown fields revolving loan fund (from the EPA) and pull around $100,000 from the Capital Improvement Plan fund (CIP) to demolish the buildings. The Super Fitness portion would remain.

A new detail revealed this past week is that the current owners would have the ability to repurchase the property for the cost of the demolition, or they could benefit from the sale of the property. According to some reports, that share of the sale could be as much as $3.4 million, if the city gets the highest potential price.

This is a "developer bailout," as Councilman Adam Martinez correctly called it.

Why in the world would the the city bail out a developer? Well, as Mayor Mike Bell explains, because it's a nuisance. But then there is the dirty little fact that the current owners might have the city over a barrel. As the local paper is reporting:

Not that the city has much choice in the matter, according to Toledo attorney Matthew Fischer, who is representing the owners in negotiations with the city.

If the purchase and demolition deal does not go through, the current owners will drag out attempts to mandate demolition of the property through the court system for another two to three years, he said.

Sounds like blackmail to me - if Toledo doesn't bail out the current owners, they'll just drag out the court process several more years. In fact, the negotiations over this deal have been going on for about six months and I understand the owners wanted much more than this.

Of course, everyone 'believes' that they'll be able to sell the property 'very quickly.' But we have a prime example of why this 'belief' is nothing upon which to borrow and spend.

In 2009, city officials said the same thing about the old Southwyck Mall and nearly three years later, it's still empty. If anyone was interested in that much land to develop, they'd be looking at the Southwyck property, not waiting for the city to spend taxpayer money to clear another one.

So, despite the 'firm beliefs' of elected officials, there are no guarantees that the property won't continue to sit, cleared or not. And many Toledoans would just as soon let it sit as is rather than risk taxpayer dollars.

If the property isn't sold by 2012, the taxpayers of the city will be on the hook for repaying the borrowed federal funds. And that doesn't even get into the use of dwindling CIP funds.

For several years now, the city (with permission from the voters in a ballot issue) has been transferring money from the CIP fund into the general fund to cover every day expenses. The 2012 budget calls for a transfer of $11 million, though 2012 is the last year the city can do so unless it goes back to the voters with another proposal.

As I've previously said about raiding the CIP:

If we keep raiding our capital budget, we won't have any money for structural items like roads, which are a major expenditure out of that fund.

If my addition is correct, over the last several years we've transferred over $50 million out of the CIP and into the general fund. Can you imagine how much better our roads would be if we'd spent that money on repairing potholes and repaving rather than using it to balance the yearly budget???

We don't need to take even more money, even $100,000, from the CIP.

It's clear to see that this is a great deal for the current owners: they get the buildings demolished, the property cleared and, the longer it takes to sell the property, the more money they get.

And who, in their right mind, sets a sales price that increases the longer it remains unsold?

Yes, you heard that correctly. If the property is sold in 2012, the price per acre would be $55,000. If they sell the property in 2013, the price goes up to $57,500 per acre. And if they sell it in 2014, the price goes up again to $60,000.

And this makes sense to the city?!? This definitely qualifies for 'stuck-on-stupid' designation. By the way, they current value of the property is about $22,000 according to the Auditor's AREIS system.

Here's the thing, the longer the property sits, the lower the value will be, resulting, eventually, in a price that a private developer will find attractive. Or, if they don't pay their property taxes, the property should go to a Sheriff's sale over delinquent taxes. That, too, would result in a price that a private developer will find attractive and the property with change hands without the involvement of the City of Toledo - and, more importantly, without the involvement of tax dollars, borrowing and spending.

Thankfully, we have some members of city council who are opposed to this. Today, council will vote on the proposal. Let's just hope that more than half of them will 'just say no' to bailing out North Towne Mall.


I listened to Tom Crothers on WSPD this morning when he called in to talk about this issue. He said a couple of things that don't make any sense:

* that no taxpayer money was involved - that the funds were coming in a grant from the federal government through the state and were in a revolving loan fund under the control of the city. Apparently he doesn't understand that the federal government gets its money from....TAXPAYERS!

* he said the loan doesn't need to be repaid. But he then said that the fund was repaid upon the sale of the property. Apparently, he doesn't understand the term "repaid." I understand that the fund doesn't need to be repaid to the federal government, but the fund will need to be repaid - one way or the other. If the property is never sold, the funds will still need to be repaid to the revolving loan fund at some point in time.

* he said that tearing down the buildings will help surrounding properties in the area and lead to their growth and expansion. Morning show host Fred Lefebvre then asked him to name one company at or near Southwyck that expanded or grew as a result of tearing down the Southwyck Mall. After saying that was a really good question, he couldn't name a single one - and admitted so. This proves that his claim was bogus. Apparently, he was willing to make a claim he knew not to be true, never expecting to be called on it.

Basically, he made a bunch of bogus claims as justification for the city to take this course of action. His interview alone is reason enough for city council members to 'just say no!'

Friday, November 25, 2011

Quotes of the Day - Thomas Jefferson

I am continually struck by how much of what our founders opposed in the governance of King George III is present today in our federal system. One can only wonder what our founders would say were they to see how far awry their 'grand experiement' has gone from their hopes and intentions.

So, as many head out to do Christmas shopping and others seek to recouperate from turkey, ham and dressing, or continue to celebrate their win/drown their sorrows over the football games, here are three quotes from Thomas Jefferson to consider in relation to our present government.

"I do verily believe that if the principle were to prevail of a common law being in force in the United States (which principle possesses the general government at once of all the powers of the state governments, and reduces us to a single consolidated government), it would become the most corrupt government on the earth."

"He [King George III] has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

"The policy of American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

God and Thanksgiving Proclamations

I was searching around the Internet looking for the Thanksgiving proclamations by U.S. Presidents and came across this great article on

From the article:

While Lincoln issued the proclamation, credit for making Thanksgiving a national holiday should go to Sarah J. Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, a popular magazine for women in 19th century America.

Hale, who campaigned for years to make Thanksgiving a nationally observed holiday, wrote to Lincoln on September 28, 1863 and urged him to issue a proclamation. Hale mentioned in her letter that having such a national day of Thanksgiving would establish a "great Union Festival of America."

With the United States in the depths of the Civil War, perhaps Lincoln was attracted to the idea of a holiday unifying the nation. At that time Lincoln was also contemplating delivering an address on the purpose of the war which would become the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln wrote a proclamation, which was issued on October 3, 1863.

The proclamation, printed below, clearly evokes the emotions Lincoln must have been feeling as he strove to preserve a magnificent nation, yet one that was embroiled in a civil war. I was struck by his description of the nation itself - its bounty and greatness - in the midst of the "waste" of human life on the battlefield.

And struck, too, by his gratitude to God for the bounty and blessings.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Abraham Lincoln

President George Washington, likewise, gave God the glory, stating in his proclamation that it is the "the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor..." His proclamation, issued Oct. 3, 1789:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

An image of the actual document is available here.

President George W. Bush used such phrases as the following in his proclamations for this day:

* We recognize that all of these blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God.

* On this day, let us all give thanks to God who blessed our Nation's first days and who blesses us today. May He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country always.

* In thankfulness and humility, we acknowledge, especially now, our dependence on One greater than ourselves.

* May Almighty God, who is our refuge and our strength in this time of trouble, watch over our homeland, protect us, and grant us patience, resolve, and wisdom in all that is to come.

* We also thank God for the blessings of freedom and prosperity; and, with gratitude and humility, we acknowledge the importance of faith in our lives.

* Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace.

Giving thanks to the Almighty is what this day is all about. So I find it strange that President Barack Obama's proclamations, when they do mention God, seem to do so only in passing.

His 2009 proclamation mentions God only in quoting President Washington.

In 2010, he did use the following:

* "...bow our heads in humble recognition of the providence bestowed upon our Nation."

* "As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation."

* "...let us rejoice ... in the gifts of a gracious God."

And this year, the 2011 proclamation has only one reference to God, though it appears to be on equal footing with "each other":

As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives.

Our founding fathers knew that our rights were a gift from God, inherent in us and not by virtue of any government or king. They openly proclaimed their belief that God's guidance was on them and our nation as it strove to become the beacon of freedom and liberty in the world. As Lincoln said:

"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God..."

Our presidents, despite whatever their personal beliefs might have been, have always expressed gratitude to God (the Almighty, the Supreme Being or by whatever name He is called) on this day, as that was the intent.

So no matter what this president writes, let us remember - today and always - that, whatever our individual situation, we owe our thanks to God - and to our predecessors' faith in Him, and His goodness toward us and our nation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

UPDATED! Why was Michael Miller prohibited from talking about Make-A-Wish on WTOL?

Michael Miller, Editor in Chief of the Toledo Free Press, posted this as his Facebook status:

Michael Miller
So, WTOL's Jerry Anderson invited me to appear on his "Leading Edge" program this week to talk about the Make-A-Wish benefit CD. 30 minutes before taping, I was informed, "You are not allowed on our station" and the appearance was canceled. I have not been told the entire story, but I have no doubt WTOL's alliance with The Blade is the reason.

It is very sad that anyone would punish a Make-A-Wish project, and deny its kids, over media politics. On the day before Thanksgiving!

WTOL's Chrys Peterson has given her all for this project and the Make-A-Wish kids. I have always known her and Jerry to be class acts.

The powers that be (and bully) can keep me off a TV news show, but we are still going to sell our CD and we are still going to raise a ton of money and awareness for Make-A-Wish. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. Now more than ever, we need your support to make this CD a success. How long is this community going to allow a single entity to cast such a putrid shadow over our community's potential?

If, indeed, WTOL's reason for the cancellation is their media partnership with the Toledo Blade and the fact that the Blade has decided to sue the Free Press, Miller and its publisher Tom Pounds, then this is despicable.

Of course, it would also be par for the course for the paper ... and shame on WTOL for not standing up to a bully.

For a long time, many of us have thought that the single most negative and destructive influence in this town is The Blade, with the open bias it shows in its 'news' reports as well as the individual vendettas of its publisher, manifest throughout those same 'news' stories and editorials.

But to allow a personal issue with another newspaper get in the way of promoting Make-A-Wish and their benefit CD is just detestable, contemptible, loathsome, reprehensible and vile.

What does The Blade and it's publisher have against terminally-ill kids? Is their personal vendetta against a competitor so important that it cannot be set aside for a brief moment for the purpose of helping terminally-ill children get a final wish?!?

No words of condemnation are enough.

The telephone number for WTOL is 419-248-1111 and the number for the Toledo Blade is 419-724-6000 in case you want to share your thoughts with them or cancel your subscription.

Oh - and the CD will be available in all local Panera stores starting Black Friday. It's $10 and ALL proceeds go to Make-A-Wish.


Posted on the Toledo Free Press Facebook page was this response:

Hi, I'm CJ Hoyt, the News Director at WTOL 11. We are ecstatic that Chrys Peterson appears on the Make-a-Wish CD. We look forward to promoting this CD in our newscasts, on our website and through social media. Jerry will also be featuring the CD in a segment of Leading Edge next week. WTOL has a long relationship with Make-a-Wish and numerous charitable organizations throughout Northwest Ohio and we value those relationships and the benefits they bring to our community. However, we also value our partnership with the Toledo Blade. And it is our station policy to not promote a direct competitor of our valued partner. I, alone, made the decision not to use you in our Leading Edge segment. But that won't stop us from finding lots of ways from promoting this worthy cause. If anyone has any questions about how our newsroom operates, they are always welcome to reach out to me directly. My phone number is 419-248-1108 and my email address is Thanks!

I fail to see how interviewing Michael Miller about a Make-A-Wish CD equates to 'promoting' a direct competitor of The Blade. While The Blade may consider the Free Press to be a direct competitor, I'm not sure many people would say that a weekly newspaper is a direct competitor to a daily one.

But competitor issue aside, an interview does not equal promotion.

Tom Blumer, who writes at BizzyBlog and often covers media issues, has weighed in with his own post on the subject. I love his conclusion:

Remember this episode the next time you see an insufferable Blade editorial about how important it is that taxpayers empty their pocketbooks “for the children.”

And the great comment left by zf which sums up the entire fiasco rather succinctly:

In other words, WTOL values not angering it’s “partner” than helping kids. How is having the guy on there to talk about a CD benefiting a charity “promoting” a direct competitor?

Talk about putting politics before principles.

Quote of the Day - freedom vs. security

"[T]hose who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so." ~ Friedrich August von Hayek

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New details on the plan to demolish North Town Mall

Below is the press release from the City of Toledo regarding the plan to demolish North Towne Mall.

As I questioned in the initial post about this issue, if the building is in disrepair, why not cite the owner in Toledo Municipal Court? According to the release, they did and having the city take over ownership is part of the 'plan' to address the outstanding orders of the court. Under the plan, the owners would pay a $40,000 settlement for utilities along with $30,000 reimbursement for costs incurred by the city. They'd also pay outstanding property taxes. The city would then own the property and demolish all but the Super Fitness.

Of course, I think the city missed the fact that there is also a tanning salon as well as a beauty salon in the portion of the building that houses Super Fitness because they state in the press release that Super Fitness is the "only functioning business."

Here is the press release:

Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell and City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb (D-District 6) today announced a plan to acquire and demolish the former North Towne Square mall and prepare the land for future development.

The mall has been vacant for several years and current property owners have allowed it to fall into disrepair. In recent years the city has cited the owners for multiple code violations which have led to court filings and a judge’s order to remediate the danger the building poses to the community. The notable exception has been Super Fitness, a popular health and fitness complex that has remained the only functioning business in the former mall. Under the plan, Super Fitness will remain open as a stand-alone facility.

The proposed agreement would turn ownership of the property over to the city with the three affected owners paying $30,000 in costs incurred by the Departments of Neighborhoods and Inspection, a $40,000 settlement to cover outstanding costs owed to the Department of Public Utilities, and all outstanding property taxes paid in full before the city accepts title and demolishes the building. The current owners would only be eligible to re-purchase the property for development if the city is reimbursed the total cost for demolition services.

“This proposal is a sure bet for North Toledo and a sign of good things to come,” said Councilwoman Lindsay Webb.

The project would not use city general fund money, but instead would rely on U.S. EPA Transitioned Brownfield Revolving Assistance Grant dollars administered by the city’s Division of Environmental Services. The same fund was tapped to demolish the former Southwyck Mall in 2009.

“The plan we have put together will allow us to remove blight from the north Toledo community and specifically the surrounding businesses,” said Mayor Michael P. Bell. “It will also provide us another strategically located site ready for future development.”

The authorizing legislation has been sent to Toledo City Council for consideration and will first be considered at the November 22 Agenda Review meeting.


Putting the Black back in Republican

While at BlogCon11, sponsored by FreedomWorks, I had the opportunity to view an extensive trailer of the soon-to-be released film, Runaway Slave, a documentary that "exposes the economic slavery of the black community to the Progressive, big government policies of the U.S. government. The film’s heroes are black conservatives who are speaking out so that all Americans can truly be “free at last.”

The film will be released nationwide on January 13, 2012, intentionally to coincide with the celebratory weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. And yes, they seem to find great amusement that it is also Friday the 13th.

One of the stars in the film is AlfonZo Rachel, a social/political humorist of and MachoSauce Productions. He posted this new video to his website recently after sitting on the Runaway Slave panel at BlogCon11. AlfonZo, better known as "Zo" to his friends and followers, is one of many black conservatives across America who have contributed to the hard-hitting and revealing documentary. He leaves no thought to the imagination in his weekly commentaries as he targets his favorite liberal thoughts and double standards in each video blog.

Warning: no political correctness will be found in this video:

I hope you'll share this with your friends.

Quote of the Day - oppressive laws

Two great quotes from Frederic Bastiat with warnings we should have heeded long ago regarding the laws imposed upon us by all levels of government:

"The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its purpose is to protect persons and property.... If you exceed this proper limit -- if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, or artistic -- you will then be lost in uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it on you."

"All you have to do, is to see whether the law takes from some what belongs to them in order to give it to others to whom it does not belong. We must see whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen and to the detriment of others, an act which that citizen could not perform himself without being guilty of a crime. Repeal such a law without delay. ... [I]f you don’t take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system."

Just repair roads around North Towne and let owner worry about the building

Today, Mayor Mike Bell and District 6 Councilwoman Lindsay Webb are expected to announce that they will borrow from the federal brownfields revolving loan fund to demolish North Towne Mall. You can view the press releae they issued here.

They claim that the building is in disrepair and is a blight on the surrounding community (though one might question how strip joints could consider the empty mall to be a blight).

As I travel past the mall on a regular basis I can attest that the mall, itself, is not in that bad of shape - at least, no more so than any other empty business in the city limits. The building appears to be fine, even if empty.

The roads, however, are another story. Over the winter, you couldn't see the potholes that were present due to the snow cover, but as soon as the snow melted, you could clearly tell that the holes and ruts were, by far, some of the worst in the region. One area I measured had depths of over 9 inches in an area bigger than a semi.

Borrowing money we don't have the funds to repay to demolish a structure that isn't really doing any harm doesn't make a lot of sense. What does make sense is to repair the roads that are the only access to some of the nearby businesses and let the owner worry about maintaining the building.

And if, by some chance, the building has issues which aren't evident from the outside, we have a housing section in the Toledo Municipal Court for forcing owners to make the necessary repairs. It seems that would be a more productive use of city resources than borrowing more money to demolish another building that someone else owns.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toledo plans to demolish North Towne Mall

Press Release:

Bell, Webb to announce plan to demolish North Towne Square site

Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell and City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb will announce a plan to demolish the former North Towne Square mall at a press conference at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 in the Mayor’s Office.

The mall, vacant and allowed by owners to fall into disrepair, has become a blight on the community and surrounding businesses. Using a federal brownfield revolving loan fund the city can demolish the mall without tapping a stressed general fund. The same fund was used to demolish Southwyck in 2009. The plan will allow the Super Fitness health and fitness complex to remain open as a stand-alone facility.

The administration has sent authorizing legislation to city council for action. The item will be on the agenda at the November 22nd Agenda Review meeting.

You're not a 'victim' if you're shot while committing a crime

First, let me start by saying that the death of anyone is not something to celebrate. That being said, finding yourself dead because you were committing a robbery does not make you a victim.

From the local paper's report of the incident:

Person fatally shot in North Toledo
Victim was suspect in apparent robbery attempt

Toledo police are at the scene of a convenience store robbery in North Toledo where one person has been fatally shot.

The deceased was identified by police as Lamar Allen, 25, of Toledo.

The incident occurred about 9:45 a.m. at the Express Carryout, 1920 Mulberry St.

The two adult male suspects were in the process of emptying the store's cash register when the clerk fatally shot one of them, said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan. The victim, who was struck multiple times, collapsed right in front of the counter.

It was unclear whether the second suspect, who fled the store, was hit by a bullet or got away with any cash. He was last seen running toward Stickney Avenue.

The robbery attempt happened about 9:45 a.m. and just as the store had opened for the morning.

The clerk, whose name police withheld, was working by himself at the time.

The robbery attempt was caught on a store video camera. Forensic experts are reviewing the tapes.

Note the choice of words (emphasis added): "The victim, who was struck multiple times, collapsed right in front of the counter."

Anyone who is shot while emptying a store's cash register cannot be a 'victim.' They could have called him 'suspect' or 'robber' or 'thief' or even included the term 'alleged' in conjunction. But "victim" certainly was a poor and inaccurate choice and makes it appear as if the news report is trying to garner sympathy for the robber.

Because remember: when you have a victim, you also have a perpetrator. So is the paper implying that the store clerk is somehow guilty in defending himself? It would appear so.

Then they make sure to point out that the robber was "struck multiple times" and "collapsed right in front of the counter." My take on this is that the clerk shot the guy several times and killed him dead.

Never having found myself in a similar position as the clerk, I have no idea how many times one might fire a weapon at two people who are robbing your business. But there's also no way to know, when you come upon such a situation, whether or not the robbers will fire back.

The perception the paper seems to want you have is that, somehow, the clerk must have used 'excessive' force since he killed the robber on the spot. I could be wrong in their motive, but knowing the penchant of the paper for such positions, I doubt it.

The bottom line is that the story could have been written and reported on without such biased words being used. But liberal bias in our local daily is a given, rather than the exception.

***Side Note:

While I can have sympathy for the robber's family at their loss, I have more concern for the store clerk. Even in self-defense, it must be a terrible thing to know you have taken someone's life - and logic about it being the 'right' thing is usually not enough to overcome the feelings that must result.

The figures don't lie - an economic case for Right-To-Work in Ohio

In responding to a post on a local Internet forum, I came across some rather startling information regarding right-to-work (RTW) states and Ohio.

It's from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research and it contrasts economic performance of RTW states and Ohio from 1995-2005. It says:

There is overwhelming evidence that Right to Work laws are economically beneficial. Here’s how David Littmann, the former senior vice president and chief economist for the Detroit-based Comerica Bank and current senior economist for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, summed up the evidence this February in testimony before the Michigan House Tax Committee on Restructuring: “Economic growth in right-to-work states has so convincingly and consistently eclipsed the average growth for non-right-to-work states that it makes the whole argument for workplace flexibility a non-controversial subject.”

Between 1995 and 2005, U.S. Department of Labor data show private-sector job growth in Right to Work states exceeded private-sector job growth in non-Right to Work states as a group by 79% and in Ohio alone by nearly 500%. Over the same period, inflation-adjusted U.S. Commerce Department data show real personal income growth in Right to Work states exceeded overall personal income growth in non-Right to Work states by 39% and exceeded Ohio’s meager increase by 142%. Meanwhile, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that, from 1994 to 2004, the number of citizens covered by private health insurance grew by 11.5% in Right to Work states, slightly more than double the aggregate growth in non-Right to Work states. In Ohio, over the same period, the ranks of the privately insured actually declined by 0.2%.

I'm certain some people will take exception to the source of the information - the NILRR - because of its mission:

NILRR's primary function is to act as a research facility for the general public, scholars and students. It provides the supplementary analysis and research necessary to expose the inequities of compulsory unionism.

It publishes monographs, brochures and briefing papers designed to stimulate research and discussion with easy-to-read summaries of current events. NILRR also conducts nonpartisan analysis and study for the benefit of the general public.

It will render aid gratuitously to individuals suffering from government over-regulation of labor relations and will provide educational assistance to those individuals who have proved themselves worthy thereof.

But those who do so would be making a grave error. The data isn't from them - just compiled by them. The data is from the government: Department of Labor, Commerce Department and U.S. Census.

The linked article also looks at two states that enacted RTW laws: Idaho and Oklahoma. It's worth your time to examine the article and have some of the information on hand as people begin to discuss the pending Ohio Workforce Freedom Amendment.

Quote of the Day - welfare state vs. totalitarian state

"The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time." ~ Ayn Rand

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'If a tree falls in the forest' - the political/racial equivalent or why the left hates black conservatives

UPDATE: This story is gaining traction - see links at the bottom of the article.

We've all heard the philosophical question:

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

I've recently learned the political - and racial - equivalent in what happened to Bill Randall, a candidate for Congress in North Carolina's 13th District, which includes portions of Raleigh.

You see, in early October, his campaign billboards were defaced with a vulgar phallic symbol and the letters "KKK."

What would generate such a hateful action?

Randall grew up in New Orleans in a family of simple means. His 27-year military career was inspired by his family. From his biography:

His Vietnam War era veteran brother, Adolph Randall, served in U.S. Marines. His Naval Officer sister, Alice Randall Flanders, achieved a Lieutenant Commander’s rank and served as her brother Bill’s reenlisting officer three times - this rare military reenlistment combination is part of U.S. Navy history.

High school and Naval Junior ROTC graduation was followed by a distinguished, decorated twenty-seven year Navy career, which included achieving Command Master Chief - the highest “non-commissioned officer” rank.

He served in Desert Storm and at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

His civilian record is just as impressive and seems suited to service as a representative. He has both a bachelor's and master's degree in business administration. He started a successful independent insurance agency and served in a sales position at a business management consulting firm. He understands business both as an owner and an advisor.

He is also a practicing minister and author.

What's not to like?

Oh - did I mention that Randall is Black? And that he's a - gasp! - conservative?

Not just a 'conservative' - but a tea party conservative, no less.

Perhaps now you have the context for the racism directed against him.

But, you say, racism is still alive in our world. So what makes this act of vandalism so unique?

Well, in keeping with the original question, the media basically ignored the event. And if they ignore it, did it really happen? has one of the very few news clips from NBC-17. But for the most part, despite press releases and a press conference, the issue was largely suppressed.

Even the main newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer, chose NOT to report on the story, despite a record of covering other such vandalism.

If Randall had been a Democrat, do you think the vandalism would have attracted national attention? Wouldn't the liberal left be screaming "Hate crime!" at the top of their lungs?

Why is it that such hatred and vandalism is either tolerated or ignored when the subject is a conservative, but decried far and wide when the subject is a liberal?

Is this just an example of acceptable campaign hooliganism - or a concerted effort to minimize a serious offense simply because of the political philosophy of the victim? Perhaps the beating of Kenneth Gladney (which received no outrage from liberals), along with Randall's situation, is the just the tip of the iceberg.

I believe it's something more insidious: fear.

As Francis Rice (a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Chairman of the National Black Republican Association) writes:

History shows that during the 1960's Democrats used racist slurs and brutality against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Republican until the day he died, and other nonviolent activists who were trying to stop the Democrats from denying civil rights to black Americans. Today, Democrats are using similar reprehensible tactics against conservatives and Republicans, especially black Republicans, who are trying to stop the Democrats from stripping civil liberties from all Americans.

While claiming to be racially sensitive, Democrats use racist invectives to denigrate black Republicans, demeaning them as "sellouts", "Uncle Toms", "House Negroes", "House N-word", or worse. The list of black Republicans attacked by Democrats is long and includes RNC Chairman Michael Steel, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, General Colin Powell and Justice Clarence Thomas.
Written out of our history books are the following facts. The Republican Party was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party and, after the Civil War, Republicans amended the US Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment). Republicans then passed the civil rights laws to ensure blacks could exercise their Constitutional rights, including the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1867 and 1875. After Democrats took control of Congress in 1892, Democrats passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil rights legislation enacted by the Republicans. It took Republicans nearly six decades to finally achieve passage of civil rights legislation in the 1950's and 1960's pushed through by Republican Senator Everett Dirksen over the objection of the Democrats.

In addition to their reprehensible of record of fighting against civil rights legislation, Democrats have a long history of racial violence. Recorded by liberal professor Dr. Eric Foner in his book "A Short History of Reconstruction", is the horrifying fact that Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan in 1866 to lynch and terrorize Republicans - black and white. The Klan became the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, killing over 2,000 black Republicans and over 1,000 white Republicans.

No wonder the Democrats so demean and debase Black conservatives.

At BlogCon11, sponsored by FreedomWorks, I had the pleasure of hearing Deneen Borelli speak. During her presentation, she described, in a voice cracking with emotion, the names she's been called and the threats she's received because she is a conservative who just happens to be Black.

Her story is an inspiring one and I hope you'll take the time to learn about her because, as she said during her comments, her personal experience dispels the liberal myth that Blacks need government in order to succeed.

And I also heard from AlfonZo Rachel who stars in the upcoming movie, Runaway Slave. He told us that there used to be a saying: what white mean feared most was an educated Black man. Today, he says, the saying is: what liberals fear most is a Black conservative.

But he clarified that he doesn't call himself a "hyphenated American" and he won't call himself a "hyphenated conservative." I believe he truly understands what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us about looking to the content of a person's character - not the color of their skin.

It is thought that there are more Black Conservatives running for office now than at any other time in U.S. history. And to the party that enslaves Blacks on the government plantation (as Deneen described) that cannot be tolerated. Which is why racism against conservatives who happen to have a skin color that is a darker shade than others is ignored, denied and suppressed.

As such conservative candidates come forward and point out the failures of liberal policies (check out poverty, unemployment, unwed births, participation in government programs, educational attainment, etc... in predominately minority communities), they prove that conservative philosophies offer more to minorities than what has been offered by the Democratic Party for decades. And that scares Democrats to death.

So, what is the best way to deal with Democrats, liberals and their double standard and hypocrisy toward Blacks?

The answer is simple: elect conservatives like Bill Randall - who just happens to also be Black.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Toledo leaf collection continues over weekend

Press release from City of Toledo:

City leaf crews continue collection over weekend to beat winter weather

The 2011 leaf collection program will move through parts of south and west Toledo Saturday and Monday as the Division of Streets, Bridges and Harbor continue efforts to sweep away the last signs of fall and colder temperatures signal the impending winter weather.

Crews will work Saturday, November 19 in the uncurbed streets of ZIP code 43623 and the curbed streets of ZIP codes 43606 and 43614.

Work will resume Monday, November 21 in the curbed streets of 43606 and the uncurbed streets of ZIP codes 43615 and 43623.

Signs announcing leaf collection in each neighborhood have been posted to notify residents that crews will soon be in the area. Please remember to leave plenty of room between your vehicle and city crews during collection operations.

This collection is for loose leaves only. Crews will not collect general yard waste including brush, sticks, or bags of leaves or grass clippings.

Leaves should be raked to the edge of the pavement on uncurbed streets and just over the curb on curbed streets. Residents are asked not place leaves on any boulevard or cul-de-sac islands.

Upon conclusion of leaf collection, any remaining leaves can be mixed with your solid waste and placed out for refuse collection.

For additional information and collection dates, please visit the Department of Public Service page on the City of Toledo website at or call 419-936-2523.


Senate Rules Committee blocks Tea Party Debt Commission Hearing

Yesterday, I wrote about the Tea Party Debt Commission and their crowd-sourced budget cuts document which they planned to present to Congress yesterday. The hearing was supposed to be broadcast on CSPAN.

Unfortunately for the American people, the Senate Rules Committee closed down the hearing. From the press release:

Senate Rules Committee staff on Thursday removed microphones and locked the doors of a hearing room in the Russell Senate Office Building where an informal hearing was scheduled to review the findings of the Tea Party Debt Commission, a months-long crowd-sourced effort to develop a budget proposal that balances the budget, reduces the debt and gets America’s fiscal house back in order

“The Senate hasn’t been able to pass a budget resolution three years running. They have been unable to do their job, and now the Rules Committee is trying to prevent the American people from doing it for them,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks

“The Senate has refused to let the American people know what the highly secretive budget ‘Super Committee’ is doing behind closed doors,” Kibbe added. “We’ve come to Washington with the real solutions developed by the American people, and the Rules Committee won’t let their voices be heard in an open forum. It’s outrageous. They’re kicking us out of our own building because they’re afraid we are going to do something crazy like balance the budget.”

The hearing was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Hearing Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building, one of three senate office buildings across Constitution Avenue from the U.S. Capitol. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) sponsored the hearing so lawmakers and the public would have an opportunity to hear the findings of the Tea Party Debt Commission (TPDC).

Apparently, the Rules Committee, headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, was "uncomfortable" with the word 'hearing.' This from a Senate that hasn't passed a budget in 932 days!!!

Despite the best efforts of Sen. Lee, the hearing had to be moved, resulting in no CSPAN coverage. The group was joined by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Steve King (R-IA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Paul Broun (R-GA). Rep. Broun stated that he would help draft and sponsor legislation to implement the recommendations.

Nearly three years without a budget from the Senate and when the American people decide to their job for them, they lock them out.


You can view the PDF of the recommendations here. From the introduction:

[W]e offer a bold — but, we believe, feasible — plan that:

“Cuts, caps, and balances” federal spending.

Balances the budget in four years, and keeps it balanced, without tax hikes.

Closes an historically large budget gap, equal to almost one-tenth of our economy.

Reduces federal spending by $9.7 trillion over the next 10 years, as opposed to the President’splan to
increase spending by $2.3 trillion.

Shrinks the federal government from 24 percent of GDP — a level exceed only in World War II —to about 17.5 percent, in line with the postwar norm.

Stops the growth of the debt, and begins paying it down, with a goal of eliminating it within this generation.To achieve these goals, our plan, among other things:

Repeals ObamaCare in toto.

Eliminates four Cabinet agencies — Energy, Education, Commerce, and HUD — and reduces orprivatizes many others, including EPA, TSA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

Ends farm subsidies, student loans, and foreign aid to countries that don’t support us — luxuries we can no longer afford.

Saves Social Security and greatly improves future benefits by shifting ownership and control from government to individuals, through new SMART Accounts.

Gives Medicare seniors the right to opt into the Congressional health care plan.

Suspends pension contributions and COLAs for Members of Congress, whenever the budget is in deficit.In short, the Tea Party Budget enables us to end chronic deficits and pay down debt, while moving us back toward the kind of limited, constitutional government intended by our Founding Fathers. And it does all this without raising taxes. In fact, we make the so-called Bush tax cuts, and other expiring tax relief provisions, permanent. With these reforms, we can unburden the productive sector and get back to robust economic growth and rising living standards for all. With this plan, everyone benefits.

Other coverage:

Steve Eggleston: Senate Rules Committee freezes out Tea Party Debt Commission hearing

Video of the event:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tea Party Debt Commission to present findings

I attended BlogCon11, sponsored by FreedomWorks, and learned quite a bit, including information about the Tea Party Debt Commission - a crowd-sourced document that identifies various cuts in the federal budget.

Today, FreedomWorks and various members of tea parties from across the nation will present the findings of the Debt Commission on Capital Hill before a joint hearing of Senators and Congressmen.

C-SPAN will be streaming live from the Tea Party Debt Commission hearing on Capitol Hill - it can be watched online here beginning at 2 p.m.

The TPDC identified several spending cuts which have been discussed in the past and asked participants to select only one of two options presented. In addition, the TPDC spent the last three months traveling the country asking thousands of grassroots activists to come up with ways to cut the budget. As a result of hundreds of thousands of responses, the TPCD has come up with recommendations for our legislators.

Interestingly, one of the things that I learned at BlogCon11 is that most participants to date did NOT want to cut funding to NASA, despite the fact that Pres. Barack Obama's budget did just that.

If, like me, you're unable to view the hearing, I'm sure there will be a press release and news coverage which I'll link to following the event.

Guest Column: Ohio’s Natural Resources Present Economic Opportunities

Guest post from State Rep. Barbara Sears:

Ohio’s Natural Resources Present Economic Opportunities

There has been a great deal of attention directed toward the development of Ohio’s natural gas and oil through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” A recent editorial in the Toledo Blade expressed the need for caution and government oversight before pursuing these interests because a misstep in the fracking process can harm our environment and threaten public safety.

One of the most common concerns about fracking is the potential for chemicals used during the process to leak into neighboring water sources, including drinking water. Though certainly a legitimate concern, the facts of past drilling show that the possibility for groundwater contamination is extremely uncommon. In fact, according to the Ohio Engineers Association, since the early 1950s, more than 80,000 wells of varying depths have been drilled in Ohio using this process with no confirmed incidents of groundwater contamination.

Obviously, an adequate level of supervision and oversight is necessary in order to protect the environment and the lives of Ohio citizens. But where should this oversight come from? A distant, centralized authority in Washington? Or a more localized governing body that knows the unique attributes of the state’s land and people?

Just last year, the previous Ohio General Assembly passed one of the strictest laws in the country pertaining to oil, gas and shale development. This law enacted oversight on a wide range of issues and concerns dealing with the process, including hydraulic fracturing. Therefore, I think the claims that Ohio’s laws on this topic are too lenient are either disingenuous or absent of fact.

There is no question that Ohio’s primary concern is jobs. Our state’s economy has been struggling over the past few years, which has resulted in businesses, and subsequently large numbers of citizens, leaving our state to pursue greener economic pastures. The most prominent example proving this point is the fact that Ohio will be losing two members of Congress beginning in 2013 because of slowing population growth.

Our success at attracting business and investment in the state depends on our ability—and ultimately our willingness—to act upon economic opportunities when they present themselves. The development of Ohio’s natural resources has the potential to pump billions of dollars into our local economies and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Environmental concerns regarding this process are genuine and must be considered. But the technology required to extract these resources has an extensive track record of being safe and effective. Furthermore, the techniques in hydraulic fracturing are forever being improved.

In order for Ohio to once again be competitive with other states, we must prove to industries that we are willing to invest in economic opportunities and to show our citizens that we are willing to fight to keep them in the state.

Rep. Sears may be reached by calling (614) 466-1731, e-mailing, or writing to State Rep. Barbara Sears, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrities Received Federal Funds

From NCPA: Celebrities Received Federal Funds

Wealthy celebrities including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi have received federal subsidies, according to "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous," a new report from the office of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, reports the Daily Caller.

* The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified several individuals receiving farm payments "whose professions had nothing to do with farming or agricultur[e]," says the report.

* These individuals include real estate developer Maurice Wilder, a "part-owner of a professional sports franchise [who] received total of more than $200,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006."

* The report says millionaires Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen have collected farm subsidies, noting that Bon Jovi paid property taxes of just $100 last year on his real estate holdings in New Jersey that he uses to raise bees.

* Springsteen also received farm subsidies "because he leases his property to an organic farmer," the report explains.

For study:

Toledo City Council Meeting November 15, 2011

Notes from Sherry:

In attendance: Councilwomen Webb, Brown, Hicks-Hudson, Councilmen Steel, Martinez, Craig, Waniewski, Ludeman, Collins, McNamara, Sarantou, Copeland, Deputy Mayor Herwat. (Mayor Bell was there)

Item 514 – Appointment – Old West End Historic District Commission – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 515 – Appointments – Toledo-Lucas County Civic Center Mall Oversight Commission – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 516 – Appointment – Advisory Audit Committee – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 517 – Resolution – Committing Council Members increased monthly deduction for health care, 2012 – 2014 – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 518 – Resolution – Local Landmark Designation for Fiberglas Tower (Tower on the Maumee) to Plan Commission – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 519 – Amend TMC Part 5, General Offenses, to raise misdemeanor theft/arson offenses from $500 to $1,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 520 – Continuing support of application to HUD for Section 108 loan for Berdan Building, $10.25M – Martinez – proposed amendment – takes away 9/30 deadline – won't affect project. McNamara – doesn't understand it. Martinez – loan will be agreed upon from Columbus – Administration – took out date – doesn't want the same thing that happened to the Glass Tower (sunset clause). This amendment will give it a sunset clause. Adam Loux – eliminate any doubt – could be argued at the application process. Martinez – definitive sunset clause. McNamara – was there something wrong with what was proposed? Adam Loux – no deadline. Ludeman – don't want to “muddy the waters” on this project – don't want to do anything to jeopardize this project. Webb – This is a confusing issue. Cruthers – Agrees with an end clause. Webb – this will slow down project. Hicks-Hudson – clarification. Adam Loux – was this satisfied with a sunset provision? - no challenge from HUD – this will nail it. Steel – confused – clarification. Adam Loux – doesn't agree with Martinez. McNamara – created an Amendment with all the points in it – date of 9/29/12 as a sunset. Cruthers – we have a deadline of 9/30/11 for HUD application – can't accept deadline for Amendment – HUD loan is already done – we put them in (dates) – could cause problems. Copeland – this will hold things up (He is hard to understand. SZ) Martinez – disagree with the date – need accountability. Herwat – move forward. - vote for 520-11 amended. Collins – changing times (dates) won't change the Amendment – we don't control HUD. Martinez – reiterates his Amendment. Roll call (Martinez Amendment) no – Waniewski, Craig, Ludeman, Brown, Sarantou, Hicks-Hudson, Steel, Collins, Copeland, Webb. Yes – McNamara, Martinez – motion failed. Vote (for 520 as written) passed – yes – Craig, Ludeman, Brown, Sarantou, Hicks-Hudson, Steel, Collins, Copeland, Webb – no – Waniewski, McNamara, Martinez.

Item 521 – Expenditure to LMHA for $12.1M Collingwood Green Phase I project, 65 units, $1,300,000 HOME – passed – all voting yes.

Item 522 – Appropriation to LISC for assistant capacity building & quality of life plans for non-profits, $125,000 CDBG – passed – all voting yes.

Item 523 – MOU with Lucas County for Joint Recyclable Material Recovery Facility at 1011 Matzinger Road – passed – all voting yes.

Item 524 – Accept ODOT grant for sidewalks along east side of Reynolds, Heatherdowns to Glendale, $117,392 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 525 – Additional appropriation for sewer separation project at Collins Park Water Treatment, $29,626 Water Imp – passed – all voting yes.

Item 526 – Accept Ohio EPA grant for environmental insurance policy for Westside Rail Corridor, $12,600 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 527 – Agreement with Lucas County and ODOT on rehabbing Perrysburg-Holland Bridge over Swan Creek – passed – all voting yes.

Last Call:

Webb – Two pieces of legislation – 1) response from the Youth Commission – Steel to look at recreation (BCSN) – look to the future 2) no liaison (Youth Commission) – let us know whom the liaison is (Mayor) – looked at budget – this will take a hit. Thank you to District 6.

Collins – Congrats to Brown's replacement (Tyrone Riley in the room). Martinez proposed a retreat for Council – reduction of money – Maumee Bay State Park – Friday night through weekend.

Copeland – Congrats to Brown's replacement.

Ludeman – Economic Committee to meet tomorrow at 2 PM. Congrats to all who ran, and Brown's replacement.

Martinez – Congrats to everyone – he became engaged this past weekend (after 8 years) – October 12, 2012 wedding.

McNamara – Congrats to Mr. Martinez.

Sarantou – Congrats to all – Thursday, 1:30 PM, Finance Committee to meet. There should be meetings with the citizens for the budget – taxpayers need to have their say.

Steel – Congrats to everyone.

Waniewski – need to look at hole on Cheltam/Orchard.

Herwat – budget is online

Brown – Do you all really know what you are doing?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toledo's 2012 Operating Budget

Mayor Mike Bell has presented the 2012 Operating Budget for the City of Toledo. Here are links to the various documents:

Mayor's cover letter

Budget in detail

2012 budget summary

State revenue sharing

General fund history 2001-2012

The budget again transfers money from the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) Fund, but 2012 is the last year that can be done under the proposal approved by voters. It again counts on some funds from the sale of assets, but most assets that could be sold have been. It predicts a slight increase in revenue from income taxes and a reduction (finally!) in Recreation programs. (I thought those should have been reduced years ago instead of raiding the CIP.)

It also *assumes* concessions from the city's labor unions. If concessions are not agreed to, the budget will be higher, requiring either layoffs, tax increases, other reductions or a combination of all three - though the press release calls it 'amending' the budget.

Press Release from City of Toledo:

Bell Administration releases 2012 operating budget

Mayor Michael P. Bell today released the 2012 Operating Budget at a press conference that included his administration’s finance staff, Safety Director, Police and Fire Chiefs and other directors. The Mayor made clear that 2012 again poses fiscal challenges for the city and will require a change in mindset and acceptance of reality to address the lingering structural deficit.

Ensuring a balanced budget will once again require at $10.85 million transfer from the CIP fund to the general fund. Under the current authorization from Toledo voters, 2012 is the last year that this will be allowed. The Mayor also warned of the expiration of the ¾% levy at the conclusion of 2012. The city has relied on one-time revenues, such as the sale of assets, for the past several budget cycles, and as advised these revenue sources are becoming increasingly scarce. The 2012 budget includes an estimate of $480,000 in asset sales. Additionally, the administration expects only to receive $10.6 million in local government revenue, a reduction from $15.1 million in 2011. Estate taxes received from the state will remain stagnant in 2012, but will be eliminated in 2013 leaving a gap of approximately $3 million.

Income tax collections in 2012 will generate approximately $154.50 million in revenue, an increase of 2.63% over 2011. Overall, general fund revenue is anticipated to reach $224.19 million before the CIP funds transfer. Expenditures however are expected to top $235.04 million in the general fund and $591.15 million across all funds.

“We continue to walk a tight rope in allocating resources that maintain the services our citizens expect and deserve with the money available to us,” Bell said. “Our dependence on the CIP fund in place of real structural change that includes support for employee contracts in line with the reality of our financial abilities will continue to mean roads are not paved and other capital needs are denied in order to pay salaries and benefits.”

The administration has recommended police and fire classes of 30 recruits each to begin in December 2012. The budget does not call for layoffs to any large degree; however there will be a hiring freeze for non-safety personnel and many vacancies will be left unfilled. Core services will be maintained, but there will be a reduction of programs in Recreation as there is simply not enough money to fund all activities currently offered through the division.

A major and necessary assumption of the 2012 spending plan includes concessions in labor contracts as the city continues to negotiate with four of its collective bargaining units. If contract savings are not realized the budget will have to be amended to reflect the additional expenditures for personnel costs. With emphasis on the provision of city services and maintaining employment for municipal workers, the Mayor will continue to negotiate with the unions to achieve greater savings in personnel costs which constitute approximately 80% of the general fund expenditures.

“As elected leaders, we must work together to continue to provide our citizens with the service they expect within the constraints of our fiscal reality,” Bell noted in his cover memo to City Council.

The municipal court and the Clerk of Court budgets are at or below 2011 levels, however a 4% reduction in contractual changes for criminal justice services will have to be negotiated with Lucas County and the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio.

The Mayor did note that despite the difficult budget cycles of the past two years the city has continued to make progress in delivering public safety and core services. Since January 2010, 81 police officers and 98 firefighters have been hired; the city has replaced 105 police vehicles and obtained six new transport units for the fire department. The city has also begun construction on a new fire station #6 in east Toledo.

“We continue to face challenges,” he said, “but we also continue to maximize every dollar that comes into this city to improve every aspect of service possible for our citizens.”

The City of Toledo 2012 Operating Budget will be made available online later today at


Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment

Statistics you should know when people talk about banning plastic bags:

* Plastic bags generate 39 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than regular paper bags and require only 6 percent of the water necessary to make paper bags.

* Simultaneously, they consume 71 percent less energy during production than paper bags and produce one-fifth the amount of solid waste.

* Similarly, reusable bags are only more environmentally friendly than plastic bags if they are used 103 times, yet on average they are used only 51 times before they are thrown away.

* A comparison of the environmental impacts of plastic cups with paper alternatives yielded similar results, with plastic causing 50 percent less solid waste by volume.

For the complete article: Plastic Bag Bans Are Bad for the Environment

Bell to release 2012 Toledo operating budget

Press Release from City of Toledo:

Bell to release 2012 operating budget

Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell will release his proposed 2012 operating budget at a press conference beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 in the Mayor’s Office Suite on the 22nd floor of Government Center.

The city continues to face strained revenues and a structural deficit. The budget recommendation are anticipated to include a hiring freeze for non-safety personnel, the need for contract concessions to be achieved during current negotiations with four of the city’s bargaining units, and small police and fire classes late in the year.

The city will again see decreased local government revenue sharing. Additionally, 2012 is the last year the city may transfer CIP funds to the general fund under the current authorization by voters. The state of Ohio will also phase out the estate tax beginning in 2013.

Guest Column: Let states regulate fracking

The following is a guest column from Rep. Bob Latta who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

Latta Op-Ed: “Let states regulate fracking”

Too often, Washington ignores the complexities inherent in our vast and diverse nation and reverts to a one-size-fits-all approach in which Washington “knows” best.

Most federal agencies operate under this assumption. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a perfect example. It sets uniformstandards for the effects of energy production on air and water, regardless of the characteristics of different localities. The obvious problem with this is that many of these municipalities are as dissimilar as my hometown, BowlingGreen, Ohio, and San Francisco, entirely different geographically and demographically.

EPA’s impulse to regulate first and ask questions later is contrary to the wishes of many states, which have spent years crafting stringent, well-tailored regulatory frameworks at the state level and desire little intrusion from Washington.

In the past decade, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — techniques used to extract shale gas from tight pockets deep underground — has allowed access to large volumes of natural gas that were not accessible just a few years ago.

The production boom of natural gas from shale formations has sparked a vigorous debate about how much regulation is necessary and who should oversee it — Washington bureaucrats or state regulators who reside in the communities they regulate and have detailed knowledge of local geologic formations?

State regulators know their natural resources. They know the local geology, geography and production characteristics, making them bettersuited to regulate local energy producers than distant federal bureaucrats.

The fundamental question that must be asked is: Who is best suited to protect the health and safety of Ohioans — experienced Ohio regulators and geologists, or somebody in Washington?

Today (Monday, Nov. 14th), I’ll ask this question at a natural gas forum in Washington at which we will hear from esteemed energy experts and industry leaders who can help us better understand the natural gas revolution that’s changing our energy landscape for the better.

At a similar forum that I co-hosted in Ohio, I posed this question to state regulators, shale oil and gas development companies and end-users.

The answer was loud and clear: Ohio has it under control, no need for Big Government to step in.

Dave Mustine, director of Jobs Ohio, a nonprofit focused on business development, said, “We have a very advanced oil and gas law that was updated in the last General Assembly. We believe we have the regulatory framework in place to provide effective oversight to this industry, protecting the environment, doing it right — and we’re very proud of that here in our state.”

In 2010, the Ohio Legislature approved the most stringent oil and gas laws in the country that address every phase of shale development: site preparation, drilling and well completion, hydraulic fracturing, production, treatment and storage, waste management and disposal, plugging and restoration and orphaned well sites.

Still, Ohio’s work appears to fall on deaf ears in Washington, where the EPA is spending taxpayer money to study the need for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, despite Administrator Lisa Jackson’s recent statements that she’s not “aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

EPA also recently announced its intention to set new regulations for shale wastewater, a process that Ohio has already perfectedwith numerous well-regulated and EPA-approved underground injection wells. As the old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, reiterated the point, stating, “EPA’s announcement was yet another Washington solution in search of a problem.”

Rick Simmers, statewide enforcement manager with Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who oversees wastewater management, says Ohio’s 28-year-old state-run wastewater disposal program, composed of 180 underground injection wells, is a safe, well-managed, disposal program. Thesystem in Ohio has been run so efficiently and effectively that drilling operations in Pennsylvania pay for wastewater disposal services in Ohio.

Still, Washington bureaucrats ignore the success of state regulatory bodies. This is especially troubling because one-size-fits-all EPA rule making could jeopardize the expected creation within the next four years of 204,500 jobs in Ohio and annual state tax revenues of $478.9 million, according to the Oil and Gas Energy Education Association.

To avoid a scenario of cavalier regulations by federal agencies, Washington should take the advice of Tom Stewart of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and allow states “to follow the state review process,” a program that has demonstrated success.

The practice brings together a variety of stakeholders — the environmental community, state and federal regulators and industry — who go to state governments and peer critique one another’s programs, finding out what works well and what doesn’t. Based on their evaluations, they recommend how to make state-specific improvements. This is the most effective way to ensure the needs of states and their citizens are accounted for.

Finally, we have to understand that when we talk about regulations, we are discussing potential threats to employment opportunities at a time when our country needs new jobs more than ever. Right now, we are seeing an influx of Americans moving to towns across America in which shale deposits have been discovered.

As a father of two, I want my kids to be proud of their home state and to find jobs that allow them to stay in Ohio. But this can only happen if the federal government allows Ohio to manage its resources and foster an environment conducive to job creation. We need more jobs than more job-killing federal regulations.

Government cannot create jobs, but government can help create an environment that attracts job creators and allows them to hire workers. We have all the tools we need to spur an economic recovery and rejuvenate our society if we can get the right regulatory environment in place.

Our forefathers meant for states to be laboratories for experimentation with the right governance. Regulation of hydraulic fracturing is the perfect example of a process better left to state governments, whichhave the best, firsthand knowledge of how to deal with their specific circumstances.
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