Thursday, July 14, 2016

OpEditude: Clinton's 'Careless' Email Record Versus Illegal Actions By GOP Presidents

It's hard to recall any Republicans saying a discouraging word at the time about President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's federal crimes of lying about information they had about Iraq's involvement in the 911 attacks, and ginning up information they didn't have, that opened the door to war on Iraq. 

It's hard to recall those media reports of Republicans taking the Bush White House and Administration to task because there weren't any. Like a wagon train under attack, Republicans formed a circle around the Bush administration's criminal actions to take America into a war of political convenience against a nation that wasn't involved in the attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 in New York city. President Bush the Junior, our 43rd Commander-in-Chief, has cost this nation trillions in taxpayer funds so far with more to come since soldiers are still stuck there due to the deal George W. Bush cut with new Iraq leaders who wouldn't give immunity to actions committed by American Soldiers. Obama inherited Bush's exit agreement, and has done the best he can with a bad hand.

Not learning from former Republicans' illegal and costly mistakes, Republicans and their all-but crowned presidential nominee, Donald Trump, are raring to go to gin up another costly war, this time the pretext is defeat ISIS. Saddan Hussein was a brutal dictators, as most dictators throughout history have been, but he kept tight control on his Shiite citizens, who now control Iraq courtesy of Bush totally misunderstanding that religious sects don't really care about democracy. They don't hate us for our liberty and rules of law, as Republican neocons would have us believe. The west has been playing in their religious sandbox for decades, and Bush letting the furies of hell lose was the opportunity Shiites saw to persecute Sunnis. Catholics and Protestants warred against each other for centuries, and Shiites and Sunnis have been at it since the death of Mohammed in 632 A.D. Little has changed since.

Thousands of dead American soldiers and tens of thousands more who returned home wounded or maimed by a senseless war that in another era might have seen the powers behind such a ruthless agenda go to jail or meet their maker, is America's reward for allowing brazen rulers like George Bush and Dick Cheney to go unchallenged and unjailed.

With the news that FBI Director James Comey did not recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton's "careless" misuse of state department emails, which contained various levels of classified information, Republicans have hyperventilated that the Clinton's, this time Hillary, skirted laws again that have ensnared other lesser officials.

Discouraging as it may sound to Republicans, who despite one exhaustive report after another that cleared her of any legitimate crimes allegedly committed, this report from Director Comey again found Mrs. Clinton was not out to sabotage America as Trumpian Republicans accuse her of doing. Hillary Clinton's arrogance and carelessness maybe character flaws, but they are not federal crimes.

Shame: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, The Iraq War

Republicans have yet to apologize, let alone atone for George W. Bush's terrible, awful years in the White House. He left the nation with soaring job losses and an economic meltdown that nearly created a second Great Recession. But for a Democratic president who enjoyed a Democratic Congress for his first two years, GOP officials' austerity budgeting and misdirected tax programs would have paved the path to true economic devastation had they been the path pursued instead of the one approved by a Democratic congress that enabled President Obama to staunch the bleeding from dramatic job losses.

The stimulus package President Barack Obama proposed, that all Republicans obstructed at every turn and voted against, saved millions more jobs being lost by stabilizing state budgets, and saving an auto industry that Republicans like venture capitalist Mitt Romney, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rob Portman, the Buckeye State's junior senator in Washington, would to a man have let disappear. Following their led would have caused economic hardships across the nation, and especially in auto parts-supply chain intense Ohio, that would have taken down America, then the world, in a spectacularly irresponsible way to gruesome to even contemplate. America is still paying the price for George Bush's war in Iraq 13 years later.

Shame: Dick Cheney, Energy Meeting Minutes, Karl Rove, Missing WH Emails

In today's digital era full of emails, Hillary Clinton using a private email server is not unique, given so many others, including top Republicans in former administrations, have done the same. Republicans were suspiciously silent when Vice President Cheney fought to keep records of his secret meetings with energy industry leaders at the White House from prying public eyes. When George W. Bush did leave the White House, tens of thousands of emails on a separate email system set up by White House officials, including Bush kingmaker Karl Rove, went missing. The GOP establishment wasn't at all concerned then on what they did, so why are they now so intent on seeing Hillary Clinton wearing government -issue pinstripes?

Shame: Richard M. Nixon, Watergate, Gerald R Ford

Republicans today should reflect but won't on the full pardon Richard M. Nixon received in 1974 from his then vice president, Gerald R. Ford. President Ford took the oath of office when President Nixon resigned his office as roads from the Watergate Hotel break-in two years earlier in 1972, which Mr. Nixon knew about even though he said he didn't, led directly into his Oval Office redoubt. For the good of the country, President Ford issued a full pardon for all offenses President Nixon committed against the United States so his illegal criminal actions could pass into history books. Mr. Ford justified this decision claiming that a long, drawn-out trial would only have further polarized the public.

Democrats could have turned Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon for violating the constitution into a national crisis. But they didn't. President Nixon's abuses did open the Pandora's Box of government distrust that haunts us to this day. After World War II, government was an asset, not an enemy as many today see it.

Shame: Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra

Then there was the Great Communicator's administration in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan blatantly violated American law when he lied directly to the American public in a TV appearance about trading arms for hostages in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. It was all true, as the nation learned later, but Republicans revere Ronald Reagan as a political saint to this day when he clearly wasn't. Democrats complained at the time, but The Gipper served out his term in Washington instead of a federal jail cell.

And how can Casper Weinberger, Reagan's secretary of defense, be forgotten? He participated in the transfer of United States Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran during the Iran–Contra affair. As history and Wikipedia tells us, Prosecutors brought an additional indictment against Weinberge four days before the 1992 presidential election that cited a Weinberger diary entry contradicting a claim made by President George H.W. Bush. Republicans claimed that it contributed to Bill Clinton beating President Bush. Weinberger dodged a bullet when a judge threw out the indictment on technical grounds. 

"Before he [Weinberger] could be tried on the original charges, he received a pardon from President George H. W. Bush, who was Reagan's vice president during the scandal, on December 24, 1992.

Careless: Hillary Clinton, Emails

If Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for her email faux pas, as Republicans want and Donald Trump would do if elected president, appointing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to do the hunbting, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be dragged into federal court like Germans were dragged to Nuremberg to stand trial to answer for their high crimes and misdemeanors. Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condolezza Rice all intentional created catastrophic conditions that to this day still plague America, her allies and the world.

OpEditude: Clinton's 'Careless' Email Record Versus Illegal Actions By GOP Presidents

It's hard to recall any Republicans saying a discouraging word at the time about President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's federal crimes of lying about information they had about Iraq's involvement in the 911 attacks, and ginning up information they didn't have, that opened the door to war on Iraq. 

It's hard to recall those media reports of Republicans taking the Bush White House and Administration to task because there weren't any. Like a wagon train under attack, Republicans formed a circle around the Bush administration's criminal actions to take America into a war of political convenience against a nation that wasn't involved in the attacks carried out on September 11, 2001 in New York city. President Bush the Junior, our 43rd Commander-in-Chief, has cost this nation trillions in taxpayer funds so far with more to come since soldiers are still stuck there due to the deal George W. Bush cut with new Iraq leaders who wouldn't give immunity to actions committed by American Soldiers. Obama inherited Bush's exit agreement, and has done the best he can with a bad hand.

Not learning from former Republicans' illegal and costly mistakes, Republicans and their all-but crowned presidential nominee, Donald Trump, are raring to go to gin up another costly war, this time the pretext is defeat ISIS. Saddan Hussein was a brutal dictators, as most dictators throughout history have been, but he kept tight control on his Shiite citizens, who now control Iraq courtesy of Bush totally misunderstanding that religious sects don't really care about democracy. They don't hate us for our liberty and rules of law, as Republican neocons would have us believe. The west has been playing in their religious sandbox for decades, and Bush letting the furies of hell lose was the opportunity Shiites saw to persecute Sunnis. Catholics and Protestants warred against each other for centuries, and Shiites and Sunnis have been at it since the death of Mohammed in 632 A.D. Little has changed since.

Thousands of dead American soldiers and tens of thousands more who returned home wounded or maimed by a senseless war that in another era might have seen the powers behind such a ruthless agenda go to jail or meet their maker, is America's reward for allowing brazen rulers like George Bush and Dick Cheney to go unchallenged and unjailed.

With the news that FBI Director James Comey did not recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton's "careless" misuse of state department emails, which contained various levels of classified information, Republicans have hyperventilated that the Clinton's, this time Hillary, skirted laws again that have ensnared other lesser officials.

Discouraging as it may sound to Republicans, who despite one exhaustive report after another that cleared her of any legitimate crimes allegedly committed, this report from Director Comey again found Mrs. Clinton was not out to sabotage America as Trumpian Republicans accuse her of doing. Hillary Clinton's arrogance and carelessness maybe character flaws, but they are not federal crimes.

Shame: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, The Iraq War

Republicans have yet to apologize, let alone atone for George W. Bush's terrible, awful years in the White House. He left the nation with soaring job losses and an economic meltdown that nearly created a second Great Recession. But for a Democratic president who enjoyed a Democratic Congress for his first two years, GOP officials' austerity budgeting and misdirected tax programs would have paved the path to true economic devastation had they been the path pursued instead of the one approved by a Democratic congress that enabled President Obama to staunch the bleeding from dramatic job losses.

The stimulus package President Barack Obama proposed, that all Republicans obstructed at every turn and voted against, saved millions more jobs being lost by stabilizing state budgets, and saving an auto industry that Republicans like venture capitalist Mitt Romney, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rob Portman, the Buckeye State's junior senator in Washington, would to a man have let disappear. Following their led would have caused economic hardships across the nation, and especially in auto parts-supply chain intense Ohio, that would have taken down America, then the world, in a spectacularly irresponsible way to gruesome to even contemplate. America is still paying the price for George Bush's war in Iraq 13 years later.

Shame: Dick Cheney, Energy Meeting Minutes, Karl Rove, Missing WH Emails

In today's digital era full of emails, Hillary Clinton using a private email server is not unique, given so many others, including top Republicans in former administrations, have done the same. Republicans were suspiciously silent when Vice President Cheney fought to keep records of his secret meetings with energy industry leaders at the White House from prying public eyes. When George W. Bush did leave the White House, tens of thousands of emails on a separate email system set up by White House officials, including Bush kingmaker Karl Rove, went missing. The GOP establishment wasn't at all concerned then on what they did, so why are they now so intent on seeing Hillary Clinton wearing government -issue pinstripes?

Shame: Richard M. Nixon, Watergate, Gerald R Ford

Republicans today should reflect but won't on the full pardon Richard M. Nixon received in 1974 from his then vice president, Gerald R. Ford. President Ford took the oath of office when President Nixon resigned his office as roads from the Watergate Hotel break-in two years earlier in 1972, which Mr. Nixon knew about even though he said he didn't, led directly into his Oval Office redoubt. For the good of the country, President Ford issued a full pardon for all offenses President Nixon committed against the United States so his illegal criminal actions could pass into history books. Mr. Ford justified this decision claiming that a long, drawn-out trial would only have further polarized the public.

Democrats could have turned Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon for violating the constitution into a national crisis. But they didn't. President Nixon's abuses did open the Pandora's Box of government distrust that haunts us to this day. After World War II, government was an asset, not an enemy as many today see it.

Shame: Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra

Then there was the Great Communicator's administration in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan blatantly violated American law when he lied directly to the American public in a TV appearance about trading arms for hostages in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair. It was all true, as the nation learned later, but Republicans revere Ronald Reagan as a political saint to this day when he clearly wasn't. Democrats complained at the time, but The Gipper served out his term in Washington instead of a federal jail cell.

And how can Casper Weinberger, Reagan's secretary of defense, be forgotten? He participated in the transfer of United States Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran during the Iran–Contra affair. As history and Wikipedia tells us, Prosecutors brought an additional indictment against Weinberge four days before the 1992 presidential election that cited a Weinberger diary entry contradicting a claim made by President George H.W. Bush. Republicans claimed that it contributed to Bill Clinton beating President Bush. Weinberger dodged a bullet when a judge threw out the indictment on technical grounds. 

"Before he [Weinberger] could be tried on the original charges, he received a pardon from President George H. W. Bush, who was Reagan's vice president during the scandal, on December 24, 1992.

Careless: Hillary Clinton, Emails

If Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted for her email faux pas, as Republicans want and Donald Trump would do if elected president, appointing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to do the hunbting, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be dragged into federal court like Germans were dragged to Nuremberg to stand trial to answer for their high crimes and misdemeanors. Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condolezza Rice all intentional created catastrophic conditions that to this day still plague America, her allies and the world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ted Strickland Talks About His Senate Race with Rob Portman



Saturday, April 09, 2016

Futuristic departure lounge might be just what the doctor ordered

For fans of the movie "Soylent Green" that features a futuristic world that's hot and crowded, the departure lounge Edward G. Robinson visits to end it all could be a good idea if society would just admit that committing suicide isn't the taboo it's been made out to be over time.
Actor Edward G. Robinson
plays Levi in Soylent Green
"Death has always been scary," Ronni Bennett writes on "Time Goes By," her popular outlet for thoughts on aging that has a world-wide following. "For centuries, humans have tried to mitigate that fear with ghost stories, with goblins and skeleton costumes on Halloween and the popularity of vampires in books and film, all of which have in common the possibility of some form of continued consciousness of self after death."
Bennett, who just turned 75 and lives in Oregon even though she left her heart in her beloved New York City after years of working there in the media industry, notes that the taboo against death talk has begun to loosen. She says it's connected, in part, "with the realization that for the foreseeable future there are going to be a whole lot more old people, in relation to the entire population, than has ever been seen on earth."
That means growing numbers who are concerned with and want to know more about how to control their deaths, Bennett said in a recent post that includes some help from one of her friends. Not too long ago, I sent her my view on the inevitable:
"Maybe a smart, fashionable, modern-day departure lounge equipped with all the amenities, including lawyers and accountants to put one's affairs in final order before takeoff, would be the right recipe for anyone who might want to walk into one one day and feel comfortable saying adios. 
"The first one could be located in the middle of a western state desert, so it wouldn't be convenient to get to for anyone who wasn't determined to get there. Of course, if lines start forming, other locations could be considered."
I also sent a YouTube clip to her from the 1973 science fiction movie Soylent Green that features a scene where Levi, played by Edward G Robinsin, who died shortly after he filmed the scene, enjoys a tranquil, comfortable exit. I have watched it many times, and now think it's not gruesome at all but actually something that just might work if given a chance.
The movie became notorious for its shocking end plot twist. You can read about it at Wikipedia if you want. I sent the clip to her, and she included it in a post on the subject of a "good death." 
"John and I had been emailing about death with dignity laws when he included a link to this Soylent Green clip titled, “Levi Goes Home,” in which Edward G. Robinson (in his last film role) goes, as John explained in his email, “to the futuristic service center that caters to people ready to say goodbye.”
Bennett reveals the emergence of Death cafes, which now commonly attract people to neighborly discussions of dying without too much flinching from anyone, she writes. "My favorite mortician, Caitlin Doughty, not only keeps a popular blog titled The Order of the Good Death which demystifies all deathly things, her Ask A Mortician videos on YouTube are as much a hoot as informative," Bennett informs us..
A student of all things aging and age related, Ms. Bennett said it came to mind a few days ago when The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in its April issue released a study titled Defining a Good Death (Successful Dying). She reports on the study, a review of 36 previous studies that includes patients, family members and healthcare provider stakeholders.  
Eleven core themes of good death were identified by the researchers:  preferences for a specific dying process,  pain-free status,  religiosity/spirituality,  emotional well-being,  life completion,  treatment preferences,  dignity,  family,  quality of life,  relationship with the health care provider,  other
Bennett tells us that one kind of control is physician-assisted suicide. Four states currently allow what is also called “death with dignity” under very strict rules and California, later this year, is likely to join Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana with such a law, she says.
"Many people oppose this kind of legal suicide as a slippery slope that can lead to pressure on people, the old in particular, I suppose, to hurry along their journey to whatever comes next," she notes.
Bennett says she welcomes death with dignity laws and thinks the rules are too strict. "But the idea that anyone would suggest that a person end his/her life to save the government some money is disgusting and dangerous," she says in rebuttal to a reader who reported on some thinking that was a good reason to end it all for the wrong reason. 


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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Little Blockbuster Case On Kasich Dirty Tricks That Won't Go Away

Plaintiff attorneys representing the Libertarian Party of Ohio [LPO] and its candidate for governor in 2014 just won't give up. Their case that exposes what Gov. John Kasich and his political friends and allies will do behind the scenes to assure him a win by eliminating his competition has another life to live, this time in an appeal filed Monday with the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth Appellate District.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the Lincoln
Room at the Ohio Statehouse
Plaintiff attorneys Mark Brown and Mark G. Kafantaris filed the appeal after it was dismissed by out-going Republican Franklin County Administrative Judge Patrick Sheeran, who ruled in March that the Ohio Elections Commission made the correct decision when it voted 5-2 in May of 2015 to not investigate coordinated activities between Mr. Kasich's campaign staff, the Ohio Republican Party and a long-time friend and political operative to derail LPO's candidate for governor, Charlie Earl. At the time, Camp Kasich thought Earl popular enough that he could drain enough votes away from Gov. Kasich and make the election with the Democratic candidate closer than Camp Kasich wanted it to be.

The Walking Dead Of Court Cases
According to the court document outlining the reasons for an appeal, LPO's team of lawyers argued that Judge Sheeran erred in his decision to dismiss the case. "The Common Pleas Court erred in concluding that the Commission's record 'absolutely refuted' the possibility that the full Commission's dismissal might have been on the merits," Plaintiff attorneys wrote.

101 Refresher on Kasich Dirty Tricks Squad
In a short refresher course, the filing says the case to dump Earl from the 2014 ballot, which with the help of Ohio's Secretary of State was successful, starts with the 2014 gubernatorial election in Ohio, when LPO had on January 7, 2014 won back its right to participate in Ohio's elections. That presence, the argument goes, threatened "Kasich's hegemony in Ohio. Not because its candidate, Charlie Earl, would win the election; but because Earl threatened to siphon votes away from Kasich's campaign."

When Mr. Earl qualified for the ballot, the filing says, "Kasich's campaign became concerned that Earl could draw votes away from Kasich in the general election. Earl had to be stopped."

Gov. John Kasich's dirty tricks squad went to work, but it's task wasn't easy. "As the record makes clear in this case, it cost almost $600,000. For legal and political reasons, the Kasich Campaign went to great lengths to distance itself from Earl's removal. It constructed a 'secret client,' Terry Casey, to take care of the needed financial transactions. It was Casey, a secret operative, who hired the lawyers (the Zeiger firm or "ZTL") to remove Earl. Casey hired the Zeiger firm; Casey received the bills from the Zeiger firm; Casey agreed to insure that the bills -- which came to $600,000 -- were paid," the filing says. Mr. Casey has been a friend of John Kasich's going back to Mr. Kasich's first run for office in the late 1970s. When Kasich became governor in 2011, one of his first appoints was to install Mr. Casey to headsup the state's powerful personnel review board. Casey has argued he was a "self starter" and did not take direction from anyone from Kasich's team.

"Political espionage is a nasty business. When allowed to prosper in the shadows, it grows. It infects. Soon, the political process is consumed by this cancer. Only public disclosure and strident enforcement can prevent it," Brown and Kafantaris argue in the brief.

This State's campaign finance laws must be enforced, the appeal says. "This case is about enforcing Ohio's plain and understandable campaign finance laws. It is about preventing political espionage like that perpetrated by the Kasich Campaign."

Gov. Kasich, who is running for president for the second time in 16 years, and who finds himself one of three Republican candidates still in the 2016 race for GOP nominee, has not had to explain the findings of fact presented by LPO in this case. Mr. Kasich's reliable refrain is that he's above politics and only wants to bring people together. His record, from his early days to today, show that claim to be false on nearly all accounts.

As he struggles to remain relevant as voters in one state after another not choosing him but Donald Trump or Ted Cruz instead, Ohio's term-limited governor has managed to avoid any serious scrutiny from state or national media, who are more interested in his town hall meeting song playlist or his faux pas of eating pizza with a fork in New York City. Mr. Kasich has lots of scandals on his watch waiting to be delved into, and his underhanded tactic to take down a potential challenger that smacks of Nixonian era dirty tricks appears to have little interest among social media reporters who appear too lazy to look into the case let alone even mention it.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

'Late Show' Lampoons John Kasich For 'Fargo' Film Rant

For everyone who watched the Friday night edition of the "Late Show" with Stephen Colbert, the surprise and hilarious treat was a sketch that lampooned Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the rant he wrote in his book "Stand For Something" about the disgust he and his wife had after watching the quirky film "Fargo."

Stephen Colbert, who will forever be remembered for his searing take down of President George W. Bush at a White House Correspondents dinner with Mr. Bush sitting just feet from him,  hasn't been a friend to Mr. Kasich on either of his two guest appearances on the popular CBS late night anchor show featuring actors and musicians among other guests.

Colbert's first guest, Steve Buscemi, who is well known for his many riveting roles on TV and at the movies, starred in the Cohen Brother's production of "Fargo," a crime drama set in Minnesota in 1987. The plot of the film involves a car salesman in Minneapolis who has gotten himself into debt and is so desperate for money that he hires two thugs to kidnap his own wife. One of those thugs was played by Mr. Buscemi.

Colbert, who moved to the Late Show on CBS from his Comedy Channel show where he played a right-wing pundit identical to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, handed John Kasich's book "Stand For Something" to Buscemi, then asked him to read passages written by Kasich on how the film disgusted him and his wife so much that he tried to get Blockbuster Video to ban it.

Buscemi read aloud Kasich's story of renting it, watching it and being revolted by it. The two then did a sketch with Buscemi, whose bad-guy character that eventually gets ground up in a wood chipper being the tipping point for John Kasich, using Kasich's own words as the script. It was a hoot.

Unfortunately for Gov. Kasich, he does stand for something, but as his long record tells shows, it's the wrong stuff. Meanwhile, as one of the three amigos remaining in the race for Republican presidential nominee this year, he finds himself far behind league leader Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in second place. Kasich was in Wisconsin today, ahead of next Tuesday's primary. With only one first-place finish in 30 races so far—he won his home state of Ohio with less than 50 percent of the vote—polls show he's a shoe-in for third place. With 18 more state primaries to go, the smart money isn't being bet on John Kasich winning those either. His plan, as reports on what Camp Kasich is planning, is to try to steal the nomination when Republicans convene in Cleveland in July.

The 63-year old term-limited governor is ripe for picking, and some reporters did that this week when the former Congressman and Lehman Brothers banker was caught eating pizza with a fork. Colbert and Buscemi didn't include that faux pas this time, but there's little doubt that Colbert's supper smart writers took notice since it happened in the Big Apple.

"In 2006, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and inducted into the United States National Film Registry for preservation, making it one of six films to have been preserved in their first year of eligibility.[5] The American Film Institute named it one of the 100 greatest American movies of all time in 1998," according to Wikipedia.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

google21880f83e970f591.html

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Federal cuts could hurt Ohio even more

Now that the clarion call to be mindful of federal spending, hammered home by Republicans and Tea Party backers since President Obama took the oath of office, has sunk in with Democrats fearful a backlash from voters upset with big spenders in Washington will sink their hopes for election, Ohio public service unions are saying doing do would compound the hurt the state is already experiencing from The Great Recession.

in reference to:

"nearly $940 million in additional funding for an already hurting Ohio."
- News - Federal funding to states brutally stripped from House jobs bill. Tell Congress they are making a HUGE mistake! 888-340-6517 (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Could $64M for schools, govs be endangered if Columbus Stands Up to Penn National casino plan?

Penn National Gaming (PNG), backers of a $250 million casino in Columbus, contradicts claims made on a new Web site launched Monday by opponents that claims key local business leaders were not consulted for their input before the authorizing amendment to the Ohio Constitution, known as Issue 3, was subjected to a statewide vote this November.

Issue 3 authorized building a casino each in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo at specific geographic coordinates and won 53 percent of the statewide vote. Voters in Franklin County, who opposed it by 58 percent, are being marshaled by a new city-wide group in Franklin County -- Stand Up Columbus! (SUC) -- that wants to dissuade PNG from building its Central Ohio casino where voters statewide approved building it, to an alternative site within the county.

Claims, corrections on who met with who and when

Former Franklin county commissioner and president of the local and national Fraternal Order of Police, Dewey Stokes, now a co-chair of SUC, said on the Web site, "...all of us agree it's not right that an out-of-town casino operator – without any community input -- gets to decide where a casino will be built in our city."

In a statement provided to this Examiner from PNG's Ohio spokesman Bob Tenenbaum, it appears key local leaders were not left out in the cold on the issue as much as some say they were.

"We have heard the allegation from this newly formed affiliate of Mr. Wolfe's and the Columbus Partnership that we did not seek community input on our site prior to the election. We find that curious given that we met personally with Mike Curtin of the Dispatch before Issue 3 was qualified for the November ballot and discussed the Arena District site. We also extended the same courtesy to Mr. Brian Ellis at Nationwide. We figured that given Nationwide's prior involvement in a proposed casino project in Pittsburgh's Arena District, he would understand the merits of our plan."

Contrary to protestations made by Curtin on a local radio talk show Tuesday morning that PNG ignored or failed to take into consideration community concerns, PNG sought to correct that viewpoint, saying it has spent considerable time in Columbus listening to the concerns of the local business community and local officials about the casino project.

The national casino operation wasted no time underscoring the job creation component of the project. PNG's prepared remarks noted it has "been meeting with our friends and supporters who are eager to get the thousands of new construction and permanent jobs" building the casino will create. Labor unions and the Fraternal Order of Police supported Issue 3, which promised to create 34,000 jobs.

Casino backers noted that Issue 3 contained site-specific criteria, and that any change in locations -- in Columbus or the other three Ohio cities who supported it -- would require a new statewide constitutional amendment.

PNG said that while it will "listen to our community, and will continue to do so in an open and inclusive manner," it will not do so "to the extent that those who were unsuccessfull on Nov. 3 seek to unreasonably delay or even try to kill our project and the thousands of new jobs and more than $64 million in new annual tax revenues it will generate for Columbus and Franklin County."

Local legislators assist Stand Up Columbus!

One local political leader, David Goodman, who joined Curtin by phone from Florida on WOSU's All Sides program today, readily acknowledged that the legislature didn't deal with the issue as it should have. Goodman has signed onto a constitutional amendment he says will preserve local control over casino developments.

“Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati voters should not be in a position to make development decisions for Columbus any more than Columbus residents should be weighing in on Cleveland projects,” Senator Goodman said in a statement. “This amendment gives local communities more control as Ohio takes its first steps into casino gaming.”

The effort, while it caters to the interests as expressed on SUC, can be seen by many as a Hail Mary pass of major proportions. If it vaults the high hurdles before it and becomes a statewide ballot issue, statewide voters, if convinced, will give voters in Franklin county another vote on whether they want a casino -- and the estimated $64 million in revenue sharing dollars that local governments and schools would benefit from -- in their county.

Locals want revenue sharing and new location

Communicating with this Examiner today, Goodman, a term-limited member of the Senate Republican caucus, said he is not inclined to trust Penn's estimates on revenue sharing, and that he "has never proposed any legislation that would take away a casino."

According to Goodman, his current proposal would "simply move the casino's location within the county" if a statewide vote allows local voters to decide whether they want their casino built where the constitutional amendment sites it.

The proposed Columbus casino is authorized to be built in Columbus' Arena District, an upscale retail and office area controlled by Nationwide Insurance that falls within the larger Downtown area. Bill Webster, Administrator for Downtown and Economic Development for the City of Columbus, said the Arena District is not specifically defined. Casino opponents say it should not be built where it's sited because the Arena District is a "family oriented" area and it would degrade the area while simultaneously devaluing the warren of residential properties located close by.

A larger issue is what recipients of revenue-sharing from the casino have to say if their share of gambling revenue doesn't flow to them if the casino is delayed or scrubbed.

$64 million in gambling revenue to flow to local schools, governments

Based on information on estimates of total casino revenue statewide provided by Tenenbaum, The Columbus Public Schools would receive an estimated $6.53 million per year in casino tax revenues. The total for all school districts in the county is $22.9 million.

Franklin County and City of Columbus would each receive an estimated $16.1 million a year. Columbus would also benefit from an additional amount as a casino host city – a proportional share of $13 million that will be divided among the four host cities based on the revenue of each casino.

CCS asked to weigh in on grassroots group, casino revenue sharing

A request to Kim Norris of the Columbus City Schools for a comment or statement on the launch of Stand Up Columbus! or on whether it thinks the $6.53 million it would gain every year would be endangered if local efforts to change the venue are successful were not received in time for this article.

Follow me on Twitter @ohionewsbureau. Read more stories on people, politics and government in Ohio here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coming bloodbath in Ohio to test Strickland, Kasich as each defend, attack size, scope of government

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Whether the General Election next November launches a second term for Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland or signals a first term for Republican challenger John Kasich, Ohio's next executive leader will face the uncomfortable task of finding politically workable solutions to the blood bath made all too real by tumbling revenues, disappearing dollars from Washington and conflicting political ideologies that argue government is the answer to and the problem of a brighter future.

As 2009 ended with a battle of political wills between Strickland and Republican leaders in the Senate over how to fill an approximately $850 million hole in the state's two year budget, the accumulation of billions upon billions from a combination of revenue shortfalls to the state or disappearing stimulus dollars from Washington, that may vanish as spending hawks in Congress pull back on deficit spending to help prop up states hit hard by the Great Recession, will require Ohioans -- and the leaders they elect to represent them in Columbus -- to rethink whether government is a friend or foe to their future.

The gauntlet Strickland, Kasich must run

Estimates from published reports show the state's structural deficit for the 2012-13 budget range from $4 billion to $9 billion. Ohio's next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is balanced with about $3.5 billion in one-time state and federal funding that includes $426 million from the latest budget fix, which delayed a 4.2 percent income-tax cut until Jan. 1, 2011.

What will intensify the drama of where and how much to cut spending on government or whether raising taxes is unavoidable despite declarations by both candidates that that option is off the table, is the fact that the state's so-called rainy-day fund was sucked dry to fill a previous budget gap, leaving the Buckeye State with no emergency parachute to deploy when it is falling the fastest.

Ohio facing billions in revenue shortfalls, loan paybacks

Added to this bitter brew will be the need in 2012 to repay Washington nearly $1.7 billion in funds borrowed to continue paying jobless benefits to the steadily rising number of Ohioans who have lost their jobs in the throes of a Great Recession that some economists say may stay weak for at least another year.

Exacerbating the state's worsening fiscal picture -- GRF tax revenues declined two years in a row and expected to do so again next year -- will be the need to fund its social safety net -- already tattered from billions in budget cuts -- at levels to protect Medicaid eligibility and services, MR/DD services, early care and education programs and disability financial assistance.

Republicans have generally opposed spending from Washington, but reports of new analysis based on Census data showing that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is keeping large numbers of Americans out of poverty in states across the country have both challenged their ideological bent and kept many Ohioans from falling further into untenable situations.

In addition to boosting economic activity and preserving or creating jobs, the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the recovery act is softening the recession’s impact on poverty by directly lifting family incomes.

Kasich income tax elimination plan could add $7 to government spending cuts

If Ohio's future doesn't look bleak enough, consider what it will be like should an energized Gov. Kasich, who one national polling firm says is ahead of Strickland now, is emboldened to follow through on his campaign promise to eliminate the state's income tax -- 7.73 billion or about 44 percent of total GRF tax receipts -- with the help of a House of Representatives again controlled by GOP loyalists.

That stunning possibility, which would demand the virtual dismemberment of government as we know it, will truly be an ill wind of monumental proportions that will blow no good to anyone, not even the businesses Kasich hopes will flock to the state as the gears of government are dismantled, prepping his "new day, new way" plan for improving the state's business climate.

Factor in the imploding budgets of Ohio's six major cities and the landscape for delivering services of all kinds at the state and local level becomes a bleak and burnt nightmare of historic proportions.

A seasoned Republican legislator, who served in the House and who's now a senator and cognizant of what lies ahead, even went so far as to take a swipe at a fellow GOPer whose grand plan is to consolidate government. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati told one reporter that his lawmaker colleagues just "can't come waltzing in the day before a budget is passed and say: 'I know, let's cut state government from 24 agencies to 10 tomorrow.'"

Another budget watcher said that while downsizing government may sound good, as Rep. John Adams wants to do, reality shows that 85 percent of state spending goes directly to local services and schools.

Strickland to Kasich, GOP: Show me your budget plan

Strickland told Ohioans he is proud of his education reforms and said he hopes things will get better. Fit and ready to run what will be a no-holds-barred campaign, the man from Duck Run said is ready to talk with Republicans about future budgets. But he offered them a challenge too: He wants anyone opposed to his remedies to declare "what functions (of government) will be eliminated and how they're going to continue to carry out the essential services that people expect from government."

Of course, what people expect from government and what they are willing to pay for is the key question. For those who see government as an obstacle to progress, employing people who do little but who benefit from great benefit packages, the answer is simple: shrink it. For those who see government as critical to protecting those least able to fend for themselves or that checks abuses spawned by a marketplace unchecked, the answer is simple: defend it.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ohio AG Cordray joins other state AGs in asking Fed's Bernanke to ban mortgage incentives

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Christmas Eve, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced that he joined 14 other state attorneys general in asking the Federal Reserve, and by extension its chairman Ben Bernanke, to support elimination of incentives paid to loan officers and mortgage brokers that result in borrowers being placed in loans that are riskier and more expensive than they need to be.

Cordray, who will run next year for a full four-year term as Ohio's top cop, said he strongly supports changing the law to end predatory practices like these that fueled the foreclosure crisis and the collapse of the mortgage market.

"Paying incentives to place customers in riskier loans is rewarding the behavior that is ruining so many communities," he said in prepared remarks, adding, "What's even more tragic is that without this type of steering, some consumers may have been able to get more affordable loans and avoid foreclosure entirely."

Information supplied by Cordray's communication staff said mortgage brokers and loan officers currently can receive additional compensation based on the type of loan they originate. Examples given included that of a broker who could receive extra compensation for originating an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) instead of fixed-rate mortgage, or a broker who could receive an incentive called a yield spread premium, or YSP, for placing consumers into loans with higher rates than the consumer could otherwise have qualified for. Cordray said these types of compensation give brokers and loan officers financial incentives to originate loans that consumers cannot afford.

Cordray joined the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia in commenting to the Federal Reserve about changes to the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA)'s Regulation Z. The media announcement noted that the comment period closed today.

Cordray noted in his statement that while the proposed changes would eliminate certain types of compensation, brokers and loan officers could still receive compensation based on other factors, such as by a flat fee, by the volume of loans originated or by the time spent originating the loan. The state treasurer elected in 2006 who became attorney general this year recommended that the Federal Reserve encourage compensation based on long-term loan performance.

"Right now, brokers and lenders often stand to profit from originating high-cost loans that consumers can't actually afford," Cordray said. "Ultimately, we want to provide incentives for originating loans that perform well in the long run. These proposed changes are an important step toward that goal."

The Ohio AG's office said the Federal Reserve must now determine whether to move ahead with the changes. It offered this Web site for anyone who wanted to read the comments.

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/RegulationZCommentLetter

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ohio Award of $1.8 Million for broadband mapping project will show, help close gaps in IT coverage

December 23, 2:29 PMColumbus Government ExaminerJohn Michael Spinelli
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The announcement of the award by Gov. Ted Strickland that Ohio will receive $1.8 million for a broadband mapping project is good news, because when the data is collected and the map is drawn, it will show just how far, when compared to other states or countries, Ohio is behind the curve of deploying broadband connectivity technology to its citizens and business community.

Strickland administration works to close IT gaps

Prepared remarks from Strickland's office said stimulus funding from the Recovery Act Washington passed earlier this year will again be the source of cash to finance this project. Development of important state infrastructure projects, like the expansion of information technology infrastructure sufficiently that all citizens and business have access to it, is a must if Ohio is to be ahead of and not behind the technology curve other states and even countries have vaulted with success, enabling them to be future competitive.

The award is to help implement the Strickland Administration’s plan to compile and map broadband availability in Ohio, including location, available speed and type of technology delivering the service, said a media release.

Strickland said Connect Ohio was created in 2008 to determine "where Ohio’s broadband infrastructure exists – and where it doesn’t exist – to better target the investments that will help us reach our goal of providing broadband access to all Ohioans.” He said the grant will accelerate efforts to expand economic and educational opportunities to more Ohioans.

The guts of the project will increase broadband access and adoption through better data collection and broadband planning. The data collected is to be displayed in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s national broadband map, a tool the announcement said will "inform policymakers' efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them."

Two years and one week ago, Strickland, who had just finishing his first year on the job, launched the public-private partnership known as Connect Ohio, whose mission was to expand broadband services across the state by working with local communities and providers to map gaps in access.

At the time, Strickland said this on the goal of Connect Ohio: "The digital divide in Ohio takes many forms – from lack of access to computers and broadband services to a lack of technological skills necessary for the jobs of the future,” Strickland said. “The goal of Connect Ohio is to create customized support for local communities to meet their individual technological needs while helping expand broadband service to all residents and businesses

Strickland said partnering with "cable and telecommunications industries and their workers to build demand for their services and deploy broadband to areas of the state that are currently underserved” was worth the $6.8, paid out over four years or two bienniums, needed to run Connect Ohio.

Program administration falls to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, working in collaboration with Connect Ohio.

“We are pleased to be working with the Strickland Administration to help create and enhance a comprehensive broadband map in the state of Ohio, and we’re particularly pleased to provide continuing broadband planning efforts to local communities across the state,” said Tom Fritz, executive director of Connect Ohio. He applauded the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for "working diligently to create a national broadband map and are honored to continue the work in Ohio to provide tools that will enable economic, social, and educational benefits to residents and businesses across the state.”

Since 2008, Strickland's office noted that Connect Ohio has benchmarked Ohio’s broadband availability and usage through the use of surveys and data gathered through its relationships with broadband providers across the state. It's detailed information is available at a statewide and county level for businesses and residents regarding broadband availability, access, subscribership, barriers to adoption, computer ownership and average subscriber rates.

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CBS 60 Minute report on heartache in Wilmington, Ohio from DHL job losses recalls Gift of Magi story

CBS 60 Minute report on heartache in Wilmington, Ohio from DHL job losses recalls Gift of Magi story
December 21, 12:53 AMColumbus Government ExaminerJohn Michael Spinelli
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November 2009 State Unemployment Rates (Photo/CalculatedRiskBlog)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The federal prisoner incarcerated in the 1890s at the Ohio penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio, who became known as the author O. Henry, wrote a now-famous story called Gift of the Magi, about a couple who loved each other but whose poverty forced them to give up something they cherished in order to afford the Christmas gift they knew they other wanted, that cannot help but be recalled by anyone who watched the 60 Minutes episode aired Sunday night about the heartache and despair that grips Wilmington, Ohio, a small community whose core was eviserated by the loss of 10,000 jobs but whose spirit awaits a chance, however slim, to rise from the beating it has and continues to take.

CBS 60 Minutes aires episode on Wilmington, Ohio

A transcript of Sunday's program, a follow up to the first one done on Wilmington in Green County, about 30 miles southeast of Dayton, about the desperation that befell the community when its major employer DHL Express closed its domestic delivery service, pictures the community as "exactly the kind of town that Washington hoped to rescue with stimulus spending, cash for clunkers and mortgage relief."

Pelley said "It's one of the unique things about the Great Recession - never before have so many people been out of work for the long term. At least, not since they've starting keeping records back in 1948. Today, 40 percent of all of those who've lost their jobs have been out of work for six months or more."

The 60 Minutes video, with its heartwrenching testimonials from residents of Wilmington who lost their job, their health insurance and in one case a loved one, and who will do anything to survive the economic vortex that will wash them down the drain if help of one kind or another doesn't arrive soon, will create a lump in your throat and tear in your eye.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Ohio and U.S. Employment Situation (Seasonally Adjusted)

Ohio's unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in November, relatively unchanged from 10.5 percent in October, according to data released this morning by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio's nonfarm wage and salary employment increased 5,400 over the month, from 5,104,000 in October to 5,109,400 in November.

"The number of employed Ohioans rose slightly in November, but not enough to produce a significant change in the unemployment rate," ODJFS Director Douglas Lumpkin said. "An increase in service-providing employment was partially offset by a slight decrease in goods-producing jobs."

The number of workers unemployed in Ohio in November was 623,000, up from 618,000 in October. The number of unemployed has increased by 199,000 in the past 12 months from 424,000. The November unemployment rate for Ohio was up from 7.1 percent in November 2008.

The U.S. unemployment rate for November was 10.0 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October.

Will work for hope

With budget holes near term and in the distance forcing Gov. Ted Strickland to cut government workers or programs or both more than the billions he has already been forced to cut in the first three years of his four-year term, residents of Wilmington have good reason to believe that their is little hope they can believe in anymore.

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Ohio AG Cordray fishes for solution to curb Asian carp from entering Great Lakes

December 21, 11:01 PMColumbus Government ExaminerJohn Michael Spinelli
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced Monday that the state of Ohio will file a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to stop the spread of Asian carp, a species of fish he and others consider a major threat to the Great Lakes fishing industry.

Asian carp have been found in the Illinois River, which connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which found that due to their large size and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem.

To prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, the State of Illinois, the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to install and maintain a permanent electric barrier between the fish and Lake Michigan.

State AGs stop carping, start fishing for solutions

In an email sent to out late in the afternoon today, Cordray, a Democrat running next year for a full four-year term, said Ohio's brief will ask to reopen a prior original action in the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Cordray's office said it has consulted with Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox -- who is initiating the joint effort by filing an initial petition in the same action today -- and other attorneys general from states adjacent to the Great Lakes.

The man elected in 2006 as Ohio Treasurer but who became Ohio AG after winning a special election last year noted that original actions in the U.S. Supreme Court are "expressly contemplated and authorized in Article III of the U.S. Constitution and have long been perceived as the proper means to peacefully resolve disputes that arise among the sovereign states as a substitute for the original avenues of diplomacy or war."

"We are comfortable putting this matter in the hands of the Supreme Court, which is a neutral arbiter that can hear and evaluate our concerns about protecting the precious natural resources of the Great Lakes against the new threat from this invasive species that has already spread into channels that are dangerously close to Lake Michigan," Cordray said in prepared remarks.

"The impact on the commercial fishing industry and sport fishing as well as the ability of Ohio citizens to enjoy one of the world's most treasured resources would be devastating," he said. By working together to protect the Great Lakes while balancing the important commercial shipping interests that depend upon the connection of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Cordray said he "looks forward to working with Michigan and our other sister states to develop a comprehensive resolution to this difficult challenge as soon as possible."

How did Asian carp get so close to the Great Lakes?

Two species of Asian carp -- the bighead and silver -- were imported by catfish farmers in the 1970's to remove algae and suspended matter out of their ponds. During large floods in the early 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed their banks, and the Asian carp were released into local waterways in the Mississippi River basin.

The carp have steadily made their way northward up the Mississippi, becoming the most abundant species in some areas of the River.

What effects might Asian carp have on the Great Lakes?

Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet. They are well-suited to the climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Asian habitats.

Researchers expect that Asian carp would disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes. Due to their large size, ravenous appetites, and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem.

Follow me on Twitter @ohionewsbureau. Read more stories on people, politics and government in Ohio here.