Friday, September 03, 2004


Moment of Zen

It was a deja vu of the morning of 9/11 - all over again. See clip here.


Deep thinking on Ohio's economy . . .

Paul Kostyu, Statehouse reporter for the Copley papers (e.g., the Canton Repository), stepped up to the plate and . . . whiffed!

Kostyu had the chance to ask some tough questions of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans this week about the economic problems of Ohio. The resulting article shows that Kostyu's dictation skills are better than his reporting, although Copley has never set that bar very high. But, you'd think maybe Kostyu could at least do a little prep work since it is, uh, the biggest issue in the state.

Why all this concern about Kostyu blowing this opportunity? Because Evan's couldn't even come up with a single comment that passed the BS-o-meter.

Here are a few of the absurdities, non sequiturs and lies Evans offered up:

"Ohio needs to create business-friendly rules, regulations and laws." (like getting rid of those silly unions, environmental laws and workers compensation laws?)

"Ohio economy was in dire straits four years ago, but it is stronger today." (name one measure)

"Stoking the recovery in Ohio . . is the turn-around of the steel industry" (what century are we in?)

"What the federal government does will not matter if a local community 'makes it difficult to put in a parking lot.'" (WTF?)

“The economy is always in transition" (so . . .?)

"It’s 'absurd' to blame Bush for the loss of jobs because companies outsource jobs to other countries." (so is the Bush campaign in favor of outsourcing?)


Bush as the anti-CEO

Juan Cole, great, as always here.


Another question . . .

for enterprising reporters to ask of Bush and his minions when they come to Ohio: What happened to the 1.7 million new jobs they promised back in February?

Given the lackluster jobs report, one would think this would be the second question off of their lips (after the first, "Why no mention of Osama at the convention?").


My, how soon they forget . . .

Guess what words were missing from the speeches of Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Laura Bush, Jenna and Barbara Bush, John McCain, Zell Miller, Michael Reagan, Dick Cheney and now George Bush.

Osama Bin Laden!

Given that the Bush bandwagon will be going through Ohio several times in the next few weeks, maybe one of the reporters at the Dispatch, Plain Dealer, Dayton Dail News, Blade, Enquirer, etc. can shake off their convention coma and ask when the campaign decided NOT to mention Osama (believe me, Rove made a conscious decision to leave any reference out for obvious reasons).


Great turnout!

Dayton Daily News reports that the midnight Kerry rally in Springfield draws over 15,000.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


Countdown 'til the Dispatch endorses Bush

Today's nauseating front-page fluff interview aboard Air Force One pretty much seals the issue about whether there really is a "new" Dispatch.

Despite eliminating some of the wingnut conservative editorials and better balance in reporting on issues like the Iraq war, deep down the Dispatch is still the Wolfe's paper.

Joe Hallett has always seemed to be a pretty honest reporter, so one can imagine him staining not to grimace during what was somehow described as a substitute for an editorial board meeting. (The session included owner John F. Wolfe and Associate Publisher and President Michael F. Curtin). Now, I don't blame Hallett because I've seen some of these situations and the one reporter present is basically there to take notes.

Hallett doesn't record exactly what question was asked and who asked it, but looking at the responses it appeared that Wolfe, Curtin et al made Bush sweat with these toughies:
- What are you going to talk about Thursday night?
- What's it like making difficult choices?
- What new initiatives are you going to mention?
- Are you going to rework the tax system?
- What are you going to do to improve Ohio's economy?

Wow! Call off the dogs! Give the prez a break would ya?

But if you've been watching the Dispatch lately, this should come as no surprise. Any time the Dispatch gives that hack Jack Torrey responsibility for reporting on Kerry and also give Torrey hatchet room on the op-ed page, you know the endorsement decision has already been made.

It's a pity since even the AM radio senses Ohioans are sick of this conservative crap that the try to peddle as news.


In case you thought he was serious . . .

Gov. Bob Taft, Jan 28, 2004, State of the Union speech:
" . . . My New Year's resolution is to spend every day doing all I can to help create jobs for Ohioans. Everything depends on a good job - strong families, strong communities, the pursuit of the American dream, and a tax base to support schools for our kids and services for our seniors. . . We are battling for our economic survival."

Gov. Bob Taft, Sept 1, 2004 on Hardball with Chris Matthews, responding to Cheney's RNC speech:
". . . Ohioans are concerned above all about the security of their families."


More on Steven Laws . . .

Catherine Gabe of the Plain Dealer adds today that . . .

"Laws says that he may be registered in several places but that he establishes residency 30 days before he works somewhere. He said he votes in only one place: Lorain, Ohio. But Donald McTigue, a Columbus lawyer hired by the Democratic Party to file the challenge, said a felony conviction automatically cancels a person's voter registration, requiring re-registration."

And geez, will some reporter please reveal what six companies Laws worked for and asked some the Republican leaders (I think they are all in one place today) if they happened to write any checks to them?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Repub . . I mean Nader, hires felons to gather signatures? And who is Steve Laws?

On Tuesday, Plain Dealer reporters Sandy Theis and Rena Koontz reported that republican signatures were showing up very often on Nader petitions:

"[Nader's] petitions, however, show hefty support from Republicans such as Medina County Commissioner Patricia Geissman, who said she doesn't plan to vote for Nader but hopes he'll siphon votes from Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry. In Medina County alone, 90 of the 138 signatures belonged to Republicans and include Common Pleas Judge Christopher Collier, county Recorder Nancy Abbott and GOP Chairman Ralph Berry."

Theis and Koontz also references that the Ohio Democratic party has filed a protest that in particular singles out a signature gatherer named Steve Laws who is identified as being from Lorain.

Unfortunately, the Theis and Koontz story doesn't go any farther. But, the Lorain Journal's Krista Schultz reports today that the Lorain Co. prosecutor has been contacted about problems with Steve Laws and also with John Laws, who is reported to be a nephew.

However, Steve Laws apparently has at least one run in with the courts that could cause major problems. Apparently Laws was convicted in February of non-support of dependents, a fifth-degree felony, which can cancel voter registration in certain counties.

Schultz also reports Laws as saying he has worked for SIX petition-signing companies.

There may be another problem. Laws may not be a registered voter. Petition gatherers are required to be registered voters in Ohio. In addition, the ODP has documented several problems with John Laws registration status in Ohio and also claims that Steve Laws is also a registered voter in California and John in Nevada.

Finally, there is a problem with Steven Laws in Butler County. County officials have petitions with signatures supposedly gathered by Laws Aug. 14-15 in the county. But Laws also collected signatures those days in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties. Butler County officials threw out those signatures, saying that it was up to the Nader campaign to prove their validity.

Three questions:
- Shouldn't Lorain County also throw out Laws signatures gathered on those two days in August, at least until Nader can - legally - explain the descrepancies?
- Who is providing the money for the six voter registration companies?
- Given Bob Bennett's recent propensity for following the letter of the voter registration laws, why hasn't he joined the ODP to denounce these illegal signature gathering efforts.


Follow the money trail to uncover real MR/DD scandal

Recent articles by Randy Ludlow in Dispatch uncovered a twisted web of conflicts of interest, pay to play schemes, and downright theft involving Director of the Ohio Association of County Boards of MR/DD Charlie Arndt and his private training outfit, Leadership Academy.

But insiders don’t believe that the problems end (or begin) with Arndt and the OACBMR/DD, but believe that Auditor Betty Montgomery’s audit is too narrow and will never uncover how the current MR/DD P & A system (Protection and Advocacy System) is just swimming in self serving loyalties.

Clearly, the publicly funded MR/DD system in Ohio is shot through with many conflicts of interest – from the local county boards of MR/DD all the way up to the Governor. Does Betty really have the guts to take that on?

The money trail goes something like this:
The Ohio Legal Rights Service, Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. and the Developmental Disabilities Council - all who are perceived to be "advocacy organizations," but only serve at the will of the Governor. These agencies are not independent. They are part of Ohio’s DD State Plan and are funded with federal monies from the DD Act and from state funds.

The Governor designates which agencies within a state will be the Protection and Advocacy System, eligible to receive these funds: The Governor can and has changed the designated P & A Service in Ohio. Prior to the Ohio Legal Rights Service being designated, another agency had that distinction. But that agency did not always agree with the Governor and in fact came out highly critical of the Governor’s policies towards individuals with MRDD. The result: They were out of a job. The Governor then designated OLRS to be the P & A.

In other words, you say what the Administration wants you to say, you keep getting funded. You cross them, you’re out. The point here is that these agencies who depend on this funding are not “independent” and do not function without the full knowledge and blessing of the Administration or at least ODMR/DD. Reporters must pay more attention to this.

For example, the Developmental Disabilities Council is the agency within the state that oversees distribution of federal funds to agencies through grants that compliment the policies of the Council. Conveniently, the agencies that serve on DD Council Board are also the agencies that receive the funds in most cases.

Cases in point: ARC Ohio, OLRS, APSI, People First, etc.

Back to the issue of independence (or lack thereof). The DD Council is overseen by ODMR/DD. Director Ken Ritchey is DD Council Director Dave Zwyer's boss. Insiders say that if Dave does something Ken does not like - or if DD Council funds a project that goes against the Department's and the Governor's agenda - he is in trouble.

So here there are two problems. First, the DD Council awards grants to themselves, and two, they don’t accept proposals that conflict with the Administration’s agenda (get out of state or private institutional care).

Insiders also point to problems at APSI, the guardianship service that the state contracts with. The service is meant to “protect” the rights of retarded/disabled clients when there are no family members available. Many advocates believe the guardianship service should be provided through local Legal Service agencies that are not tied to the ODMRDD or the Executive branch. But this has been opposed by Ritchey, and (no surprise) the DD Council and (even less of a surprise) ARC.

There are other problems with ARC. Insiders say ARC Ohio has received millions of dollars in DD Council Grants over 20 years and probably a million dollars in unbid funds from the Department of MRDD in the past few years since Ritchey has been in charge. ARC is on one side of a very polarized fight among advocates about how to care for clients who are profoundly retarded and require specialized 24-hour care.

Although nominally independent, insiders say most of their funding comes from the interconnected web of county and state sources. The county MR/DD Boards provide monies as does the OACBMR/DD.

Is Ritchey clean in all of this? He was president of the Superintendents of County Boards prior to becoming a director. Was this group doing business with Charlie's for-profit company too?

Ritchey should also be questioned about why he allowed public funds flow to the OACBMR/DD – unbid - for training.

Insiders say much of the training, held during the OACBMRDD Annual Conventions, was held in a way that seemed to ignore the fire funding MR/DD funding problems at the state and county levels. These sessions are described as a little training surrounded by plenty drinking and good food. At one conference, Charlie Arndt served shrimp appetizers, followed by filet mignon. All of this money was public money, in one way or another either by the state funding of the OACBMRDD or the county boards who picked up the registration fees and other expenses to attend the conventions.


Herb rules!

Here and here, but I think he is probably going to stay away from this


Good news

Project Vote reported that there are - so far - 140,249 new registrants in Ohio.

The Dispatch poll also shows Kerry with a (slight) lead over new registrations.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Is this real?

I've been tied up in some other projects for several days and have been negligent withh my email. I just found this that I apparently overlooked at first:

"For more than a decade, talk radio's image has been dominated by a mostly-conservative political perspective. Although we know this is simply a business of garnering ratings that can be leveraged for revenue, the right-wing perception of the talk-radio format has been emblazoned upon many due to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others. This has left many with a sense of being left out of current events discussions unless they hold similar conservative beliefs...

"Clear Channel Columbus radio will be offering Progressive talk radio for the rest of Columbus on the all-new AM1230!Effective next Tuesday, September 7 at Noon, AM1230 will debut with Al Franken, the posterboy of Air America Radio. The remainder of the station will be hosted by other progressive personalities, including Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, Janeane Garafalo and Jesse Jackson. . .

Has anyone independently confirmed this?

It is real! See the AM 1230 website for the promo and schedule.

Monday, August 30, 2004


Dispatch shows Kerry-Bush dead heat, trouble for Bush

Sunday's Dispatch now has the race at a virtual dead heat. Check it quick before it goes to the pay-per-view archives. The Dispatch's mail ballot survey methodology always raises eyebrows but has a good track record. With a large sample (3,000+) there is a small margin of error (2%). Here are the key sections - keep in mind that the Dispatch had Bush leading Gore by 6 points at this time in 2000:

Bush trend line:

"Bush had a 2-point lead over Kerry in the first Dispatch Poll of the 2004 general-election campaign, published April 4. . ."

"Bush led by 3 points in a Dispatch Poll just before the Democratic National Convention in late July. . ."

Confidence in Bush:

"Only 6 percent of poll participants labeled themselves as undecided. As with the survey a month ago, that group hardly seems poised to vote for Bush: 72 percent say the country is on the wrong track, and 75 percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy (compared with 54 percent of all respondents to both questions).

"Other danger signs for Bush: His approval ratings are at the same modest levels as in July. Also, Kerry holds a 12-point lead among independents. . ."

Even good news for senate candidate Eric Fingerhut:

"The survey also shows that Democrat Eric D. Fingerhut has moved to within shouting distance of U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich. The former GOP governor, forecast for an easy victory by most political observers, has a 14-point lead over Fingerhut, a modestly funded state senator from Cleveland. Voinovich held a 21-point advantage over Fingerhut in the July poll, but Fingerhut’s walk across Ohio has been generating publicity in several local media outlets during the past couple of weeks."

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