Friday, August 30, 2013

Council members should reimburse city for contributions, candidate Ron Johns says

Toledo council candidate Ron Johns
In July, Toledo City Council voted to give $50,000 to two local charitable (non-profit) organizations. There is no policy guiding such expenditures and other organizations were not given the same opportunity to receive public funds. I'm opposed to government making charitable donations and thought that is the organizations were so "worthy," council should have given their own money - not ours.

I emailed council members to ask about whether they'd spent their own money in addition to ours.

Rob Ludeman explained his vote by saying both organizations were "worthy" but admitted he had not given any of his own money to them because they hadn't asked.

D. Michael Collins, also a candidate for mayor, balked at answering such a personal question, then personally attacked me for having the gall to question him.

Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson claimed the money sent to the charities wasn't a donation - but what was it then?

Now council candidate Ron Johns wants the members of council to reimburse the city for the donations.

Here is his press release (as issued) calling for a "F.A.I.R." resolution:

“The F.A.I.R. Resolution”
Fair Allocation of Internal Revenue (FAIR)

July, 23th of 2013, eleven out of twelve Toledo City council members and the mayor voted to give public monies to two private charities they saw fit of receiving it. The two charities were The African American Legacy fund who was given $20,000 and the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center who received $30,000 equating to $50,000 of public monies given away to private charities.

The mayor and 11 members of city council obviously saw these charities as doing a large amount of good, however they gave money that was not theirs to give. Our legislators had full intent to fund private organizations that they individually saw as worthy causes off of the taxpayers’ back, even if they didn’t agree with it. For that very reason I am today introducing the F.A.I.R. resolution to allow local politicians to give back the fair amount of money to the community from which they took from.

The FAIR resolution has been designed to point out what is fair and what is not, to illuminate the true role of government and reveal blatant misuse of city funds. The resolution is just a resolution, however if the mayor and eleven members of council who voted in favor of the donations really believe in the tax dollars it gave to private charities then they shouldn’t mind giving it themselves.

The resolution states that “If a vote is not held to cancel the donations before money is transferred, the Mayor and 11 City Council members who voted in favor of the donations shall be required to pay 1/12th of the final total of donations granted in reparations to the City of Toledo, or $4,167 per individual.”

Ron Johns will hold a press conference to discuss the F.A.I.R. resolution by the Civic Plaza fountain in front of 1 Government center Saturday, August 31st, beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m.

For more information contact: Ron Johns/419-481-3568

House Study Committee to hold drug addiction hearing in Toledo

Press release:

COLUMBUS—In an effort to facilitate a constructive, public discussion on drug addiction in Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives’ Prescription Drug Addiction and Healthcare Reform Study Committee will hold a regional hearing in Toledo on Tuesday, September 3rd. The hearing marks the third of four statewide hearings that strive to address this issue during the House’s summer recess.

“We are working side by side with Ohioans to address opioid addiction and keep our communities healthy,” said State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay), who serves as chairman of the study committee. “Prescription drug abuse has been a widespread problem throughout the state and is truly a scourge that knows no ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. The hearing in Toledo will bring this discussion to the people of northwest Ohio so they can share with the committee their experiences and expertise.”

The public hearing will be held at 1 p.m. at ProMedica Toledo Hospital’s Education Center auditorium (2142 N. Cove. Blvd.). Other members from northwest Ohio who serve on the study committee are House Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears (R-Monclova Twp.) and Chairman of the House Health and Aging Committee Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon).

The goal of the study committee is to explore ways to address the issue of drug abuse and addiction, an issue that has become a rampant problem in Ohio. Since 2007, unintentional drug overdose death has been the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. Two-thirds of these deaths involved a prescription opioid, more than cocaine, heroin and marijuana deaths combined.

The fight to address prescription drug abuse in Ohio was initiated by the signing of House Bill 93 into law in April 2011. Although this legislation was effective in helping to close Ohio’s pill mills, many Ohioans continue to struggle with addiction and move toward other illegal drugs, such as heroine, as accessibility of prescription opioids has decreased.

Members of the public are encouraged to testify on this important issue. Rep. Sprague requests that witness testimony be limited to five minutes or 1.5 single-spaced pages in length. Witnesses must fill out a witness form prior to testifying and should submit the witness form and written testimony to Rep. Sprague’s office 24 hours prior to the hearing, if possible. Individuals who decide to testify the day of the committee should supply 40 copies of written testimony upon arrival.

Testimony can be emailed in advance to Other questions about the hearing may be directed to Rep. Sprague’s office at (614) 466-3819.

Media are strongly encouraged to attend.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Candidate forum for Toledo City Council

My apologies for not being very active in posts this week, but I'm been taking care of some family things and now I'm finished...just in time to remind you of tonight's Candidate Forum for Toledo City Council!

It runs from 6 - 9 p.m. at the Colonial Banquet and Event Center,140 New Towne Square Drive (off Alexis) in Toledo. It's one of the outer buildings at the old Northtown Mall. Here is a map.

Fred LeFebvre is the moderator and the following candidates have been invited:

Joseph Celusta (R)

Bill Delaney (I)

Shaun Enright (D)

Jack Ford (D)

Joshua Fowler (D)

Theresa Gabriel (I)

Ron Johns (R)

Rob Ludeman (R)

James Martin (R)

Adam Martinez (D)

Ernest McCarthy (R)

Alfonso Narvaez (R)

Sean Nestor (G)

James Nowak (R)

Alex Rivera (R)

Sandy Spang (I)

Steven Steel (D)

Larry Sykes (D)

It's hosted by the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, which has established a tradition of hosting candidate forums and offering candidates a chance to meet constituents while giving constituents a chance to ask questions of the candidates.

I hope you'll be able to attend so you can make an informed decision when you vote in the September primary. Twelve of these individuals will go on to the November ballot and six will be elected to represent you.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post - Oops! A whopping $47B Obamacare-Medicaid expansion error for Ohio

Opportunity Ohio found a whopping error in the recent claims that expanding Medicaid in Ohio would save us money. Aside from the fact that adding more people into a program cannot possibly result in less cost, the key is capping the rates. But what if we cap the rates and don't expand Medicaid?

As the Bard says, "Aye, there's the rub."

Here's the text of the report. For the full details, including footnotes, go here.

A number of individuals have falsely characterized a recent PowerPoint presentation given to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee’s Medicaid Subcommittee by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO).

The Columbus Dispatch flashed a headline that erroneously claims the presentation proved “Medicaid expansion would cost Ohio less than doing nothing.” The Dispatch’s editorial board followed up by asserting that the presentation proved that expanding Medicaid would “save the state money in the long term.” The Columbus Business First reported that the presentation showed that “Ohio could actually save by expanding Medicaid.” These headlines and reports would have Ohioans believe expanding one of the largest and fastest-growing line items in the state budget can reduce spending. But this is not what the HPIO actually found.

The authors created three different scenarios. In the first scenario, Ohio does not expand Medicaid and the program grows at 7.2 percent annually, what HPIO reports as the average annual growth rate since 2004. It should be noted that in a report released earlier this year, HPIO expected future Medicaid growth to average 5.6 percent per year without expansion, based on Ohio’s most recent actuarial analysis of Medicaid. It does not explain why it now assumes 7.2 percent growth as the baseline (without expansion) moving forward.

In the second scenario, Ohio caps its annual Medicaid spending growth at 5 percent and also expands Medicaid eligibility. In the final scenario, Ohio caps its annual Medicaid spending growth at 4.5 percent while also expanding Medicaid eligibility. Capping Medicaid spending growth is not related to expanding Medicaid eligibility. If Ohio wished to impose such a cap, it could do so without expanding Medicaid. The only valid comparison is one in which the only changing variable is whether or not the state expands Medicaid eligibility.

For example, the presentation asserts that by capping annual Medicaid spending growth at 5 percent, Ohio can expand Medicaid and still save $2 billion between now and 2025, when compared to 7.2 percent annual growth. But, using that same data, Ohio could save more than $48 billion during the same time period by capping annual growth at 5 percent and not expanding Medicaid eligibility. So, when using an honest comparison, Medicaid expansion will actually increase taxpayers’ costs by $46 billion, even if the state is able to aggressively reduce annual growth.

Choosing not to provide any specific recommendations to reduce the annual growth in Medicaid, HPIO instead provides a listing of possible new revenues to offset higher costs. Of course, increasing revenues does not lower spending. But even at the assumed lower annual growth rates, Medicaid spending would still double within the next 15 years. For comparison, the U.S. economy is expected to grow only 4.9 percent during the next decade. Ohio can expect to see slower growth, as the U.S. economy has historically grown 1.5 times as fast as Ohio’s economy.  If this trend continues, Ohio’s economy will grow by just 3.3 percent during the next decade. The Ohio Department of Development also expects Ohio’s economy to grow slower than the national average in the coming years.

This means Medicaid will continue to consume more and more funding, crowding out resources for other state priorities, even under the HPIO’s assumed lower Medicaid growth rates. Worse yet, the HPIO spending projections are based on the same flawed designs highlighted in a  Foundation for Government Accountability-Opportunity Ohio report published earlier this year. For example, HPIO uses Medicaid managed care rates for current adult enrollees to estimate the costs of covering newly-eligible individuals. However, evidence from states that previously expanded Medicaid eligibility to cover working-age adults without children found this population to be much more expensive to cover than parents. Additional research published by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that costs were an average of 60 percent higher to provide the same benefits package to childless adults as they were for low- income parents.

HPIO flawed analysis is also evident in its assumption that just 58 percent of all newly-eligible individuals will sign up for Medicaid after expansion. Even among the uninsured, HPIO assumes just 70 percent of newly-eligible individuals will enroll. These are much lower than other projections of participation, including projections by actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. States that have previously expanded Medicaid to cover working-age adults without children also relied on projections similar to those given by HPIO.  Those states experienced participation rates that far exceeded what was initially expected.

The HPIO presentation given to the Medicaid Subcommittee adds very little to the debate over Medicaid expansion in Ohio. It recycles old projections based upon faulty assumptions. The only “new” material is the conclusion that capping the annual growth in Medicaid spending will reduce total Medicaid spending, but this has no relevance to the debate at hand. Such a cap has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion, and conflating the two is intellectually dishonest. When comparing apples to apples, where the only changing variable is whether or not the state expands Medicaid, the only valid and fact-based conclusion is that Medicaid expansion will cost taxpayers much more.”

Quotes of the Day - individualism

"Paradoxical as it may seem, men and women who are free to pursue individualism and material wealth turn out to be the most compassionate of all." ~ Lawrence Lindsey

"Individualism is at once an ethical-psychological concept and an ethical-political one. As an ethical-psychological concept, individualism holds that a human being should think and judge independently, respecting nothing more than the sovereignty of his or her mind; thus, it is intimately connected with the concept of autonomy. As an ethical-political concept, individualism upholds the supremacy of individual rights ..." ~ Nathaniel Branden

"The fact that most people think that being selfish means harming one's fellow man, that pursuing one's own self-interest equates to behaving brutally or irrationally, is, as Ms. Rand noted, a "psychological confession" on their part. In fact it is against one's own long-term self-interest to behave irrationally or trample others. Such actions are the exact opposite of selfish -- they're self-destructive." ~ Wayne Dunn

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quotes of the Day - freedom depends upon individualism, not collectivism

"Freedom is an intellectual achievement which requires disavowal of collectivism and embrace of individualism." ~ Onkar Ghate

"Individualism regards man -- every man -- as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful co-existence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights -- and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members." ~ Ayn Rand

"Politically, true individualism means recognizing that one has a right to his own life and happiness. But it also means uniting with other citizens to preserve and defend the institutions that protect that right." ~ Shawn E. Klein

Friday, August 23, 2013

Quote of the Day - armed citizenry

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States." ~ Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ohio Watchdog roundup: theft in office, good bills, bad bills, balanced budget amendment

I wanted to share with you a roundup of some of the stories on Ohio Watchdog:

Two thefts paint strange tales in Ohio takes a look at the two public officials who stole from their employer - and the way the public bodies dealt with the crime:

Gary Madrzykowski, director of the Olander Park System in Sylvania, Ohio, wrote himself a $2,500 check from the park’s bank account.

He also was taking cash out of the park’s cash drawer, but replaced it the next day so it would go unnoticed.

Earlier this month, Madrzykowski was questioned about the check after the park’s bookkeeper brought it to the attention of a board member. He resigned his $71,000 per year position.

The three-member park board does not plan to press charges. The $2,500 has not yet been repaid.

Sharon R. Vankanegan was the clerk and treasurer of the Kinsman Free Public Library in Kinsman, Ohio, a small community about a half-hour north of Youngstown.

For two years beginning in January 2010, she used the library’s credit card and Sam’s Club card to make $22,830 worth of purchases that were not for the library or for which receipts could not be located.

Continue reading...

OH court ruling hurts bonding companies, taxpayers examines the story of former Toledo Public Schools business manager Dan Burns who stole hundreds of thousands from the district and continued the thefts when he moved to the Cleveland school system.

Should a school official convicted of theft in office still get a state pension?

According to Ohio law he does, and bonding companies that insure against such illegalities are not entitled to restitution, an appeals court has ruled.

In Ohio, many public officials, especially those who handle money, are bonded to ensure the “faithful execution of their duties.” The public employer pays the cost of bond, like an insurance policy, and if money goes missing or is misspent, the bonding company will reimburse the public employer.

But with this latest ruling, the courts have made it clear a public employee’s pension cannot be garnished to recoup any money paid by a bonding company when an employee steals from a public employer.

Continue reading...

The good, the bad and the ugly in Ohio’s summer recess bills examines some of the bills that state legislators have introduced - from outlawing special elections in February and August to mandating the color of car headlights.

Then there is the latest from Gov. John Kasich who wants a constitutional convention to address a balanced budget amendment. My concern is whether or not a constitutional convention can be limited to just one topic and, if not, what damage might be done if some decide to just start re-writing it?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ohio bill would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition rate

Rep. Matt Lynch
Ohio Rep. Matt Lynch (R-Bainbridge Township) and Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) have introduced legislation today that will reverse the recent decision by the Ohio Board of Regents to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants in Ohio.

“The recent decision by the Board of Regents will cost Ohio taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and blatantly ignores a requirement in administrative code that defines a resident as someone who is qualified to vote in the state,” Lynch said. “Illegal immigrants in the so-called DACA program do not have lawful status and cannot vote, and therefore should not be granted in-state status.”

On June 15th, 2012, the White House issued a memorandum ordering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to exercise prosecutorial discretion and defer action against certain individuals found to be in the country illegally. This action, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), did not grant lawful status to the individuals - it simply gave them legal presence in the country.

On July 29th 2013, the Ohio Board of Regents announced that DACA recipients would be eligible for in-state tuition at public universities. This decision came despite the fact that the Ohio Administrative Code defines a resident of Ohio, for purposes of receiving in-state tuition, as someone “who is qualified as a resident to vote in Ohio.” Because DACA recipients do not have lawful status and therefore cannot vote, the Board of Regents decision stands in violation of its own administrative rules and necessitates the legislation. Without legislative action, Ohio taxpaying citizens will be forced to subsidize students who are admittedly in the state illegally.

Rep. Wes Retherford
“It is unfortunate that we must take this step of filing legislation because of this egregious decision,” Retherford said. “The Board of Regents can still do the right thing and reverse the decision, but we will work quickly to move this bill through the legislative process in order to prevent this from continuing any longer.”

When the legislation is assigned a bill number and referred to a House committee, it will be linked here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

NSA overreach sparks defiance in Cleveland Public Square

This just in via email:

(Cleveland, OH) - - Ohioans will gather in Cleveland Public Square this Saturday, August 24, to protest unconstitutional NSA surveillance. The demonstration will last from noon to 3:00 PM.

56% of Americans believe federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and Internet data the government collects, according to a recent Pew Research poll. Concern for Fourth Amendment privacy rights is the foundation of Restore The Fourth, a grassroots, nonpartisan, non-violent movement that works to protect citizens from intrusion into their personal lives, in Cleveland and across the nation.

"1984 is a warning, not an instruction manual," says Brian Buckley of Restore the Fourth. "As we find out about more unconstitutional programs every week, it is clear that the NSA’s domestic spying has gone too far and must be stopped before it’s too late."

To that end, Restore The Fourth has organized a protest rally this Saturday. Demonstrators will gather to demand a government that respects personal privacy, and to inform the public about the massive scope of the NSA's surveillance programs.

More information about Restore The Fourth is at:


Higher Education Study Committee coming to Wood County

The Ohio House of Representatives Higher Education Study Committee will be in Wood County at Penta Career Center Tuesday, Aug. 20th from 1-3 p.m.

From State Rep. Tim Brown: "The work of this committee is critical to enhancing our education system so that every child can reach their full potential. A student’s ability to develop their own skills through Ohio’s education system is critical to paving the path to college or being immediately competitive in the workforce. I welcome you or someone you may know to come out and listen, or offer testimony."

Here are the details:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013:   Penta Career Center, Perrysburg – 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

  • Transitioning to Higher Education and the Workforce
  • Dual enrollment programs
  • Improved student preparation/reducing remediation rates
  • Developmental education reform
  • Higher education – high school alignment project
  • Career counseling
  • What parents need to know about higher education

If you want to provide testimony to this committee you can contact Daniel James in Rep. Brown's office at (614) 466-8104 or

Written testimony must be submitted to TODAY by 5:00 p.m. Due to the limited time available for testimony, Chairman Rosenberger asks that testimony is limited to five minutes per presentation to allow adequate time for questions and conversation.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Frustrated with the Toledo Water Department? Give money to Anita Lopez, flyer urgers

In a clever fundraising event, Lucas County Auditor and mayoral candidate Anita Lopez is hoping to raise money by piggybacking on the area's frustration with the Toledo Water Department.

The flyer, pictured below, starts with "OVERHAUL THE WATER DEPARTMENT" and asks "Fed up with the water department? Please join us for a shindig featuring Anita Lopez." It's Aug. 29th and light snacks are provided, but it's a cash bar.

The contribution levels are:

  • $25 Fed Up
  • $100 No Deposits
  • $250 No Back Billing
  • $500 No waiting for phone calls to be answered
  • $1000 Accurate Meter Readings
  • $5000 Put the Bill in the Consumers' Names

A lot of people are upset with the Water Department, so this seems like a perfect theme for a fundraiser and it's also one of the more clever ones I've seen since I started in politics 20 years ago.

The department requires the property owner to be the name on the water account for an address. This has a lot of landlords and renters upset because it makes them responsible for billing and collecting for water service in a rental unit.

Earlier this year, they started requiring a $200 deposit for any new service, but quickly backed off on on the terms, allowing prior customers with good service to have the deposit waived.

Responding to complaints about waiting hours to get a phone call answered, the city expanded the department's customer service call center hours, beginning at 7 a.m. (an hour earlier) and closing at 6 p.m. (a half-hour later). They also said they'd answer all the calls for anyone still on hold in the queue at 6 p.m. They also hired 8 more people and changed the grace period from 15 calendar days to 15 business day.

But Toledoans are still upset with the increased fees for water and sewer service and the increases that are scheduled over the next couple of years.

Interestingly, it is City Council that actually approved the fee increases, though the current mayor, Mike Bell, did sign the legislation.

And it was City Council who decided, along with the previous mayor, to put the trash tax on the water bill and threaten people with the cut off of their water service if they didn't pay the trash tax and recycling fee (which was supposed to be reduced to zero but is now a permanent part of the city's revenue).

Of course, this doesn't even get to the minimum charge structure. If you're traveling or frugal with your water consumption, it doesn't matter. If you don't use a certain amount of water each month, they'll bill you a minimum. And your sewer service charge is tied to your water usage.

Granted, the city council and Democrat mayors (since 1990) ignored maintenance and replacement needs of the water/sewer infrastructure over the years, choosing instead to spend limited tax dollars on their own pet projects, so we do have some serious needs in the area, as the recent sink holes and water main breaks demonstrate. And we're still dealing with EPA regulations that are impacting the costs.

But connecting the problems which have been decades in the making with the current mayor, who is rather good at public relations, might be a bit hard.

In fact, Bell, as an independent, would have a great response by saying it was the Democrats who ignored the problem for so long and he's actually dealing with instead of 'kicking the can down the road' (one of his oft-used phrases).

He inherited a mess and he's cleaning it up.

While it might not be as valid an issue for the actual campaign, it's definitely a fun one for a fundraiser.

Here is the flyer:

*** Aside: I have not decided which mayoral candidate to support in the upcoming election. ***

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Toledo files motion to dismiss 'gang map' lawsuit

From The Blade
The City of Toledo filed a motion today asking for a dismissal of their appeal of the lower court decision regarding a map depicting the territory of gangs. They say in their filing that the publication of the map renders the question moot.

The Toledo Blade maintained that the map was a public record subject to disclosure. The city maintained that it was a confidential investigatory item which is exempt from disclosure under Ohio public records law.

The Blade filed a writ a mandamus asking that the city be ordered to release the map. The court ruled 2-1 that the map was a public record and the city appealed.

However, the paper published a copy of the map it says it was given by someone not in the city law department nor in the police police department.

Here is the press release:

City files motion to dismiss in “Gang Map Case”

The City of Toledo today filed a motion to dismiss in the case of State, ex rel The Toledo Blade Company. The motion stated the following:

“This case is before this Court as an appeal of right as it originated in the court of appeals as an original action seeking a writ of mandamus. At issue was the City’s refusal to provide the Relator-Appellee with a document prepared by a Toledo police detective and referred to as a “gang map.” The City refused to provide the map as it believed the map was a confidential law enforcement investigatory record and, thus, not a public record under Ohio law.

“In a 2-1 decision the Sixth District Court of Appeals granted the requested writ and this appeal was taken. On or before August 12 the Relator was provided with a copy of the requested “gang map” by an undisclosed source. The map was published in the Relator’s newspaper on August 13, 2013.

“While, arguably, important legal questions remain that are capable of repetition yet evading review, Respondent-Appellant believes that the publication of the requested record moots the underlying issue before this Court.

“Accordingly, dismissal of this action is appropriate at this time.”


Taxes - how it all began

It's not often that I'd share a bit of information from, but I thought this infographic about taxes and the IRS was pretty interesting...

Playing the Numbers: How the U.S. Government Has Mishandled Your Tax Dollars

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ohio AG rejects petition for End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012

The Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has rejected the summary language for a constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana use (under certain conditions) in the state.

The AG has the responsibility under Ohio law to review summary language for petitions to be circulated in the state to create a ballot initiative or amend the state constitution.

He notes four reasons for his rejection of the language, but also notes that his transmittal letter did not "represent an exhaustive list of all the defects in the submitted summary."

Petitioners can revise the language, gather another 1,000 signatures and again submit it for approval.

Here is the press release:

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today rejected the petition for the proposed End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012 because the summary of the petition was not “fair and truthful.”

On August 2nd, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition from Responsible Ohioans for Cannabis to amend the Ohio Constitution by adding the End Ohio Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012. Attorney General DeWine’s letter rejected the summary because it was unable to be certified as “fair and truthful” for the following reasons:

* The summary omits references to amendment language which repudiates federal cannabis prohibitions.
* The summary omits references to amendment language that persons cannot be considered to be under the influence of cannabis “solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of cannabis in his or her body.”
* The summary states that educational courses may be held by licensed commercial production companies or educational institutions to teach people, among other things, about “medical harms or benefits from the personal use of cannabis products.” However, no such language referencing medical harms or benefits exists in the amendment.
* The summary omits references to amendment language that confer new duties and responsibilities on the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Commerce.

“For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine stated in his letter rejecting the petition. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”

In order for a constitutional amendment to proceed, an initial petition containing summary language of the amendment and 1,000 signatures from Ohio registered voters must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General. Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board would determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

The full text of today’s letter and of the initiative petitions submitted can be found at

AFP-Ohio says Rep. Sears and Pres. Obama are the same when it comes to Medicaid expansion

Press release from Americans for Prosperity - Ohio:

Americans for Prosperity-Ohio: No Difference Between Rep. Sears’ and President Obama on Medicaid Expansion 

COLUMBUS - Americans for Prosperity – Ohio is expressing their strong opposition to proposed legislation aimed at expanding Medicaid in the state of Ohio.  According to a recent Columbus Dispatch story, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-47) plans to introduce roughly a dozen Medicaid bills in the next few weeks with the end-goal of expanding Medicaid in the state.  The expansion of Medicaid is made possible through Obamacare.

“Rep. Sears and President Obama are both calling for the expansion of the Medicaid system.  How many blank checks and empty promises are we going to allow Washington to pass onto the states before we stop falling for it?,” said Eli Miller, State Director of Americans for Prosperity – Ohio. “The federal government can barely meet its current financial obligations.  We cannot allow Ohio families and businesses to be left holding the bag when, not if, the federal government realizes they cannot meet the financial obligations promised surrounding Medicaid expansion.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch story, Medicaid expansion legislation would need to pass the Ohio General Assembly in October of this year so that enrollment could begin in January 2014.

“At a time when even the Obama Administration is essentially admitting defeat by delaying key provisions of Obamacare, Rep. Sears should not recklessly and irresponsibly tie our state’s finances and the physical health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens to this eventual disaster,” continued Miller. “We call on all members of the Ohio General Assembly to support Ohio families, stand up for fiscal responsibility, and oppose Rep. Sears and President Obama’s Medicaid expansion.”

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual’s right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans.  For more information, visit

Quote of the Day - the income tax

This says it all:

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." ~ Albert Einstein

Friday, August 09, 2013

Surprise! No Republican wants to run against Kasich

Kasich probably won't face
a primary challenger.
According to various reports and information I've received, it looks like there won't be a primary challenge against Gov. John Kasich.

Despite intense anger from many conservatives and tea party groups, potential candidates are calling it 'political suicide' to challenge the incumbent. And they're probably right.

"If they want to have a future at the party, they're told not to run," Tom Zawistowski, former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition who was unsuccessful in his bid for GOP state chairman, recently told Gongwer Ohio.

Mounting a primary challenge would require raising significant amounts of money from many of the same people already committed to Kasich. And it's never easy going up against the party's standard bearer, even when the 'bearer' is short on consistency with cord standards and principles.

Which is not to say that incumbents should not face challenges - just that the ideal candidate to do so has to have considerable resources, reputation and support already in place and not have too much to risk if they lose.

Charlie Earl, the gubernatorial candidate from the Libertarian Party, might prove to be an option in the general election for those who just can't pull the lever (yes, an old reference) for Kasich, but I don't think most Republicans will change party affiliation by pulling a Libertarian ballot in the primary.

Of course, it's still early and, as upset as conservatives are with Kasich, he's still a better choice than the Democrat, Ed FitzGerald.

***Side note: I'm headed to Indianapolis for the weekend to participate in the Smart Girl Summit and will try to blog about some of the sessions, especially the ones focusing on culture. ***

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Is it time for an Ohio Financial Responsibility in Government Act?

I received the following press release about a bill that Rep. Lou Terhar wants to introduce in the Ohio House. It *sounds* good, but the devil is always in the details.

One detail extremely important to Toledoans is whether or not the language would allow the city to transfer funds from the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the General Fund in order to cover their overspending - as in spending more than they take in.

Inquiring minds....guess we'll have to wait for the actual language, but if it would ban such a transfer, expect to see huge pressure from municipalities to defeat the bill.

Press Release:

Rep. Terhar Announces Financial Responsibility in Government Act

COLUMBUS—Rep. Lou Terhar (R- Green Township) announced today that he will soon be introducing legislation, the Financial Responsibility in Government Act, and that he will be seeking co-sponsors during the next ten days.

The proposed legislation will focus on financial requirements that would apply to three main areas:

1. All governmental subdivisions in the state will be required to operate their annual budgets without any deficit spending. The balanced budget requirement applicable to the state under the Ohio Constitution will also be applicable to all of the state’s political subdivisions.

2. Indebtedness undertaken by any political subdivision in Ohio must comply with the total indebtedness restrictions and funding requirements that are applicable to the State of Ohio.

3. All political subdivisions of the State of Ohio that sponsor any type of pension plan must comply with the actuarial requirements that are currently in place for the State of Ohio.

“The bankruptcy of Stockton, California and more recent filing in Detroit serve as reminders that we should not leave Ohio’s political subdivisions open to this type of potential budget crisis in the future. Municipal bankruptcies hurt not only the city, but also negatively affect the economic health of the region. State resources are stretched thin due to new unemployment claims, added health care costs and a whole host of social services. We in the legislature have an obligation to protect our constituents,” said Representative Terhar.

“The state itself is required by the Ohio Constitution to balance its operating budget,” Representative Terhar continued. “It only makes sense that the political subdivisions of the state have balanced budgets as well. Therefore, I will be introducing legislation requiring Ohio’s political subdivisions to balance their budgets in the same manner as the state is required to balance its budget.”

An official bill has yet to be released but is expected to be introduced before the end of the legislative recess.


Tax Reform Committee hearing schedule set, includes stop in Bowling Green

Press Release:

Scherer Announces Summer Tax Reform Committee Schedule

COLUMBUS—State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) today announced the schedule of the House Tax Reform Legislative Study Committee.

A total of five hearings will be held through August and September:

  • August 14: Ohio University Chillicothe Branch (101 University Drive, Chillicothe, OH 45601); 10 a.m.  All taxes except municipal income taxes.
  • August 21: University of Cincinnati East Branch (1981 James E. Sauls Sr. Drive, Batavia, OH 45103); 10 a.m.  All taxes except municipal income taxes.
  • September 3: Bowling Green City Council Chambers (304 North Church Street, Bowling Green, OH 43402); 10 a.m.  All taxes except municipal income taxes.
  • September 12: North Ridgeville City Council Chambers (7307 Avon Belden Road, North Ridgeville, OH 44039); 10 a.m.  All taxes except municipal income taxes.
  • September 17: Ohio Statehouse (1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215), room to be determined; 1 p.m.Municipal income taxes only.

The Tax Reform Study Committee is one of three study committees being conducted this summer by the Ohio House of Representatives. The other two are the Higher Education Reform Study Committee chaired by Representative Cliff Rosenberger and the Prescription Drug Addiction and Healthcare Reform Study Committee chaired by Representative Robert Sprague.

“I look forward to getting these committee hearings underway,” Scherer said. “It will be very beneficial to the General Assembly to hear citizens bring forth ideas and concerns regarding tax policies in Ohio.”

The first four hearings will include discussions on all state and local taxes with the exception of the municipal income tax, which will be the only topic for discussion during the September 17th committee meeting at the Ohio Statehouse.

Anyone wishing to offer testimony should submit a written version of the testimony to Alex Goodman at (614)644-7928 or by noon the day before each hearing. Due to the limited time available for testimony, Chairman Scherer asks that it is limited to five minutes per presentation to allow adequate time for questions and conversation. 


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Fiscally conservative Ohio school board turns a deficit into a surplus while cutting taxes and giving raises

In light of the fact that Swanton has a school levy on the ballot today (after it was defeated in May), and several others, including Toledo Public Schools, will have levies on the ballot in November, I thought this was an important article to share.

It's from, the website for the Education Action Group Foundation in Muskegon, MI. It's about the success of Springboro Schools here in Ohio.

SPRINGBORO, Ohio – It’s tempting to describe the financial turnaround that’s taking place in the Springboro school district as something of a miracle.

How else to describe the district’s dramatic reversal in fortune?

In the span of just four years, Springboro schools have gone from projecting a massive deficit of $28.7 million to planning for a surplus of nearly $7.2 million by 2017.

That’s a swing of nearly $36 million to the district’s benefit.

That’s unheard of during these tough economic times in which many U.S. school districts are cutting student programs, laying off teachers and raising taxes.

Here’s something else that’s unheard of: Instead of just stockpiling the extra money in the district’s bank account, Springboro school board members are preparing to give a portion of it back to taxpayers.

Last month, Springboro board members voted to place a five-year levy renewal on the November ballot that will actually cut taxes by 15 percent, which equals about $1.3 million a year. The levy would shrink the projected surplus by several million dollars, but the once-needy district would still be left with a tidy sum in reserve.

In a press release, Springboro school board President Kelly Kohls told taxpayers that if they pass the levy, the district “will be able to move forward without any type of levy for some time to come.”

It’ll be up to voters whether or not to accept the deal, though it’s difficult to imagine them turning it down.

It’s not just taxpayers who are reaping the benefits from Springboro schools’ improved financial condition. The district just agreed to a new contract with the local teachers union that gives many educators a 12 percent pay raise – through step increases and a base pay increase – over the next two years.

And even though the new contract also increases teachers’ health insurance contributions – from 15 to 20 percent – most teachers will still see their take home pay increase by about 10 percent over the next two school years, according to Kohls.

This district focused on a 'children-first' approach, adopted zero-based budgeting (where they don't start with last year's spending and add to it), and their test scores improved.

Continue reading...

But that's not enough. Unions didn't want the reduced levy on the ballot. Giving back money just isn't done and if the district isn't 'flush with cash' it doesn't need, how can the unions demand - and get - even more?

Taxpayers will probably like this a lot, though, but we'll have to wait until November to find out for sure.

There's the big question: Can you imagine any school district in Lucas County doing the same thing?

Your answer is 'probably not' - which is a sad commentary on our local educational system and the people we elected to do what is best 'for the children.'

Friday, August 02, 2013

Ohio insurance rates to increase 41 percent due to Obamacare; subsidies may not help

Here's the latest from the Ohio Department of Insurance:

Health Insurance Premiums to Increase 41 Percent Due to Affordable Care Act

Premiums for Federal Exchange Show Higher Costs for Ohio Consumers and Small Businesses

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Insurance announced today that individual consumers buying health insurance on the federal government's health insurance exchange for Ohio will pay an average of 41 percent more than they did in 2013.

In addition, ODI confirmed previously-released preliminary calculations that insurance companies’ costs to provide individual health coverage will increase by 83 percent.

“Ohio has traditionally had a more competitive health insurance market than other states with a wider range of prices and choices – from simple, high deductible coverage to comprehensive, full service plans,” Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor said. “That level of diversity is essentially outlawed under Obamacare so Ohio's rates and premiums are going up significantly, and going up more than in other states where prices were already high.”


So Ohioans had a wide diversity of options and costs and with Obamacare, that much diversity is 'essentially outlawed'???

Did anyone who voted for and supported the Affordable Care Act really think about the implications?

Oh - wait - they had to pass to it to know what was in it. Even Congress doesn't like what it sees in the law and the IRS chief, charged with enforcing it, doesn't like it either.

For individuals plans in Ohio, the average cost is $236.29 per month. That cost will increase to $332.58 in 2014 due to the provisions of the Act.

The ACA is actually driving rates across the country closer together, the press release notes. Since Ohio had lower costs to begin with, we're seeing rate increases that are higher than other states, while some states with higher costs are seeing steady or even lower rates. Since the ACA is really a one-size-fits-all approach, Ohioans are also seeing fewer options when it comes to type of insurance because of the minimum level of coverage mandated by the federal law.

The states were supposed to be the place where innovations and 'experiments' could be tried. If a state was successful with an idea, other states could duplicate it. Conversely, they could avoid failures after seeing them elsewhere. Our federal government was never designed to be this involved in such affairs and the results, perhaps good for some, are very costly for Ohio.

Benjamin Franklin said:

"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened."

Apparently, our federal government took that as a prescription and not a warning when it came to Obamacare...

Photo from
Interestingly, I received an email from ProgressOhio about the latest estimate which said:

** This statement can be attributed in whole or in part to Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director, ProgressOhio.

"It goes against the trends seen in big states and doesn’t include the discounts created by the subsidies. Announcing them without the subsidies is cynical because that’s not how people are going to buy insurance. If the goal is to enroll people, announcing rates without examples of subsidies makes no sense.

It’s not surprising that this is how Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor would handle this. Her well known hatred for the Affordable Care Act is causing her to take an action as the state's insurance commissioner that hurts the people of Ohio. She shouldn’t announce rates without illustrating what that means for real people benefiting from tax credits that can be substantial in some moderate income categories."

It raises a good point about including the offset due to expected subsidies, but it misses the bigger picture regarding the basic concept that taxpayers are seeing increased rates while at the same time paying for others to have those higher rates subsidized.

And the subsidies might not be there for Ohioans.

According to this article in the Washington Free Beacon, the legality of the subsidies is being challenged.

As the article explains, the subsidies were part of the deal for the states to set up exchanges.

The law says that the government can provide subsidies for insurance sold on an “Exchange established by the state.” Thirty-four states have refused to set up their own exchanges, leaving the federal government set them instead.

The Obama administration maintains that the subsidies can be applied to a federal exchange as well, though some legal experts and Republicans in Congress say that's outside the scope of the law.

“When Congress passed the health care act, they presented states a choice,” (Oklahoma Attorney General Scott) Pruitt told the congressmen. “That choice was to establish a state health care exchange or to opt for a federal exchange. The ACA included with that choice a set of consequences and benefits.”

If states opted to create an exchange themselves, then their citizens would receive federal subsidies to buy insurance on the exchange, but employers would also be subject to fines for not offering affordable health insurance, Pruitt argued. However, if they opted against the exchange, they would not receive subsidies and employers would not be subject to fines.

Pruitt has launched a lawsuit against the administration arguing that they do not have the power to offer the subsidies on federally run exchanges. Experts predict that Oklahoma’s lawsuit, if successful, could fatally cripple the law.

Since Ohio did not set up its own exchange, defaulting to the federal one, residents may not see any subsidies if the lawsuit is successful.

Of course, states will then be criticized as being evil, uncaring and 'responsible for deaths' along with all sorts of terrible things for not wanting their residents to have that handout. But if it could "fatally cripple the law," Ohioans would benefit by not having such huge increases in insurance rates while maintaining a large diversity of plan options and costs.

The problem is that no one in Congress writing this law could have the depth of knowledge to re-design an insurance program/health care coverage that will fit the needs of so many people. This is where a free market comes into play.

In a 'free' market, entrepreneurs can create a product or service that fits the needs of some, while not needing to fit the needs of all. Ohio is a good example with our current variety of options that fit a multitude of needs and budgets.

With the federal government, they've decided what everyone must have (forced it upon us, actually) and then told us we'll have to pay for it, even if we don't need or want it.

Well-baby care is an example. My husband and I don't have kids and have no need for well-baby care which includes office visits, immunizations, etc... But that coverage is mandated by the ACA and the state of Ohio. So I'm paying for a portion of insurance that I don't need and will never use. A 'free' market, would give me the option to have a plan that didn't include that at, hopefully, a lesser cost than one that did.

Another example is young people who are generally healthy and don't need a full-service comprehensive plan. In a 'free' market, they could choose something like the old 80-20 insurance plans where routine doctor visits were not covered, but hospital bills for emergencies, injuries or serious illness were covered at 80%.

The Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - has removed those options from us, forcing us to have to what a bunch of bureaucrats in D.C. *think* we need. There is no way they can ever meet individual wants and needs the way a free market does so we are all forced into the one-size-fits-all mandate - and you and I will pay more as a result.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Quote of the Day - liberty and ignorance

A quote of the day from one of my favorite Founding Fathers while I read the latest Toledo Public Schools audit and management letter which, surprisingly, got very little local news coverage:

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders." ~ Samuel Adams
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