Saturday, August 27, 2005


Ohio’s top law enforcer turned back on SEC warnings

Ohio’s top law enforcer turned his back on SEC warnings

When your head’s up your ass, it’s predictable that many things are going to be “unclear.”
Petro’s office responded at the time by challenging some of the SEC information and concluding it was "unclear" how the SEC reached its conclusions.
Jim – exactly what conclusions are you referring to?

Friday, August 26, 2005


Ohio's Taliban versus Democracy

Glad to know where the Theocrats Christ-O-Crats stand:
Although it has nothing on the ballot for this year's election, it opposes three proposed constitutional amendments that would change Ohio election law. Johnson criticized the issue's backers as too liberal. He said liberals such as filmmaker Michael Moore and billionaire financier George Soros are behind the scenes of Reform Ohio Now, the group that collected signatures for the issues.

Reform Ohio Now spokesman Keary McCarthy said Moore and Soros have nothing to do with the campaign.

"Clearly they haven't read the amendments we're proposing because the amendments are inclusive to both political parties," McCarthy said.
The comments about Moore and Soros are actually significant. On the one hand, the RON staffers who are responsible for fundraising for the group probably laughed - or cried - when they heard those names being mentioned. It's pretty clear that RON's funding is no where near Soros/Moore money.

However, the comments show something else. They show that the ORP thinks its better to attack the RON backers and not the RON amendments, themselves. They know that the RON backers have linked the amendments to the "culture of corruption" frame. ORP hopes it can get the RON train derailed and off message by attacking the backers.

Lesson: Don't get side-tracked. Stick to the culture of corruption frame. Say it over and over and over . . .


Friday Basil blogging


Wonderful tales had our fathers of old,
Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars-
The Sun was Lord of the Marigold,
Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.


Speechless . . . [Updated]

So, Jim Petro knew BWC was getting ripped off by brokers but did nothing to stop it. And - big shocker - at least some of the brokers involved in the thievery were big political political players.

[Update] From the Plain Dealer:
Brokers for the six firms, their family members and associates gave a combined $48,900 to Deters' campaign from 1998 through April 2002, the review found. They also gave $144,000 to the Hamilton County Republican Party, where Deters acknowledged his campaign directed contributors. A trio of his associates were ultimately convicted in the scheme.
This boils it down:
Ohio Senate Democratic Leader C.J. Prentiss of Cleveland said. “This begs the question — why no action? As we peel away each layer of the onion, are we going to find a kickback scheme that was institutionalized by this administration to reward their campaign contributors? Why didn’t Governor Taft act? Why didn’t Attorney General Petro act?”
You know, there's stupidity - and then there's convenient stupidity. BWC was awash in the latter:
The SEC’s general complaint was that the bureau paid some of its brokers almost one cent more per share than it should have. This means that if a broker traded 10,000 shares of a stock 100 times during the course of a year, he could earn $60,000 in fees versus $50,000 in fees.
We're, of course, tempted to point out that a "discount" broker would charge about $10 a trade. Comparing BWC's trading expenses to that charged by Scottrade or Schwab is a little unfair, but not much.

From a purely technical point of view, the equity trades that BWC and other big state agencies need to be made are no different than that a small investor. The act of buying or selling 100 shares of Intel is not that different than for 10,000 shares. Actually, on a cost-per-share basis, the cost of trading 10,000 shares should be significantly less.

But, BWC and the others also expect their traders to do two other very important tasks - act quickly and keep their mouth shut. When there is trading on the scale that big institutions do, the very act of trading can shift market prices one way or another. For example, if BWC suddenly puts in an order for 10,000 or 20,000 shares of stock XYZ, the price often rises in response. If everything goes right, this change in price happens after the trade is made.

However, if word gets out in advance that BWC will be making a purchase, than the price will rise before the trade is made, thus potentially costing BWC thousands of dollars more than it should have paid. Secondarily, prior knowledge of a looming trade creates conditions for all sorts of game-playing (and potentially illegal) and betting in the stock market through various options.

So, it's not unreasonable for large institutions to pay something of a premium to brokers based on the costs of quick trades and maintaining tight security on all trade discussions. But the cost of providing these extra services should be somewhat offset by the discounts (compared to retail brokerages) they should provide based on the size and frequency of the trades).

To be sure, being speedy and keeping that kind of security is not an easy task. Since most brokers serve multiple clients, surrounding looming transactions in constant secrecy requires that those handling the institutional accounts are totally insulated from the rest of the business, and that there is an entire management structure devoted to maintaining that security.

Although they'd never admit it, small brokers simply cannot provide this level of security. In fact, there are probably less than 10 firms nationally that can. When you add quality and cost considerations, the number probably drops to five or fewer. And, let's be perfectly clear about one thing - none of these firms are Ohio firms. That's why the state's retirement funds cried "bullshit" when the legislature tried to force them to adopt a "Buy Ohio" mandate for investment services.

The difference between the retirement funds and the BWC is that they fought and defeated the stringent Buy Ohio requirements while BWC was gung ho for it.

Now we know why.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


If only the other 11.4 million Ohioans could do the same thing

Seitz kept losing track of the governor and did not know where he was.
Seitz happens to be Bob Taft's personal body guard, who apparently was more concerned about boobs than the state's big boob:
The head of Gov. Bob Taft's security detail has been demoted after an investigation found that he attended strip clubs in New York, tried to pick up a woman at a bar during Taft's trade mission to Asia and received phone calls at his office from a go-go dancer in Columbus.

A State Highway Patrol report issued Wednesday says the dancer even left her name when she called the governor's Executive Protection Unit in the Riffe Center: "Cinnamon, from Columbus Gold."

Cinnamon was searching for former Patrol Lt. Craig Seitz, who headed Taft's security detail until Friday, when he was busted down to trooper.

If she's still looking for Seitz, she can find him at the patrol post in Granville, 25 miles east of Columbus.
And what's really, really important in Bob Taft's universe? Apparently being pimped out:
The investigator quotes Sgt. Janet Mulder-Yeagley as saying she once "pretty much got chewed out all the way to Cleveland" by Taft because he wanted to be driven in a Ford Expedition and the vehicle wasn't ready because Seitz had neglected to fill the tank.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Cordray to announce for state treasurer

The list of candidates for Ohio seats in 2006 is about to change.

Our sources tell us that Franklin County Treasurer Richard Cordray will formally announce in the next 48 hours that he will be running for State Treasurer, the first Democrat to do so. We haven't heard of any other Dems seriously thinking about that race, and Cordray of formidable enough to scare off a lot of would-be candidates. [UPDATE] Apparently we have been asleep on this race. Montgomery County's Hugh Quill has previously announced that he is also running for Democratic nomination for state treasurer.

Presuming that turns out to be the case, it would but him the Democrat's candidate in a contentious but highly-winnable race with Jennette Bradley, someone who has never impressed us with much campaign ability, especially one that must be run statewide.

Cordray always struck us as be capable and squeaky clean. He beat his head against the wall as a State Representive for several years, but he will probably be haunted by his pop-culture fame as a multi-champion of Jeopardy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Another Culture of Corruption chicken comes home to roost

Yikes. From Columbus Business First:
Ohio layoffs rank near U.S. top

The number of mass layoffs increased again in July in the Buckeye state, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

Ohio employers initiated 115 mass layoff events in July, resulting in 25,306 initial claims for unemployment insurance, according to the bureau. Those numbers are an increase over June figures that showed employers took 62 mass layoff actions, resulting in 11,541 unemployment insurance claims.

. . .

Among the states, Ohio recorded the third-highest number of initial claims in July, trailing California, with 41,741, and Michigan, with 34,561. Indiana was fourth with 15,176. The four states accounted for 45 percent of all mass layoff events and 48 percent of the initial claims for unemployment insurance.
See Marc Dann's post on a similar topic.


Vacation open thread . . .

Any comments on the impeachment discussions? How about Mike Coleman's public stance on the war. Hackett for Senate?


Light blogging ahead

. . . vacationing for a week with limited access . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Why does Rod Parsley hate the GOP?

Whether genuine or a PR stunt, GOP chair Bob Bennett tried to make nice with Ohio Muslims back in July:
Columbus - Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett met Thursday with thirteen representatives of Ohio’s Muslim community at state party headquarters as part of an ongoing outreach effort to various ethnic coalitions throughout the state.

“Ohio Republicans are committed to expanding minority community involvement in our party, and I look forward to more of these meetings,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett. “We welcome and support the Muslim community’s efforts to become more politically active and assertive in local and state politics.”
On the other hand, we have Rod Parsley who back in May had a fundamentally different and ignorant take on the followers of Islam:
Americans need to wake up.

I will give you some basics about Islam, then I will let you go.

Out the outset I must state three important truths that I will provide support for later.

Here they are.

Number one. The god of Christianity and the god of Islam are two separate beings. Excuse me, Mr. Bush – I support you. You need to stop saying that the god of Islam and the god of Christianity are the same god. They are not the same god. They are not the same entity. And I will prove that to you.

Number two. Mohammad received revelations from demon spirits, not from the living god.

Number three. Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world.
This isn't exactly "breaking news" except for the fact that the Dispatch today has a long, but ultimately disappointing profile of Parsley in today's paper.

We had heard writer Dennis Mahoney had been thinking about a piece on Parsley. We have talked to at least two people who claim they had talked to Dispatch religion editors about doing a story about Parsley's extreme views on gays and Muslims, and the politicians who like to share a podium with him.

But Mahoney only wades knee-deep into these controversies:
‘‘No one wants to talk about that because we hide behind this thin veil of political correctness," Parsley said during an interview. ‘‘I love homosexuals and lesbians, and I love them enough to tell them the truth."

In his book, he also condemns Islam as being responsible for ‘‘more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation than nearly any other force on Earth."

Yet Parsley said that he loves Muslims, too, and that it is his duty to try to convert them to Christianity.

He added that many Muslims want to destroy the United States, an objective he said is driven by some leaders within their faith.

‘‘There are clerics who will espouse love and teach their people that that’s what the Quran teaches," he said.

‘‘But unless Islam is confronted from without and reformed from within, we are going to continue to have the kinds of difficulties we’re seeing played out around the world today."
Now, Mr. Mahoney, since Parsley is on record as believing "that the god of Islam and the god of Christianity . . . are not the same god," and that "Islam is an anti-Christ religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world," shouldn't you have some follow-up questions about what exactly he means by having Islam be "confronted from without and reformed from within"? Aren't those code words among the more extreme sectors of the evangelical movement for something a little more, uh, extreme?

And what about the question we keep asking? When is a reporter or an editor going to have the balls to demand that politicians who want to benefit from Parsley's blessing (like Ken Blackwell and Pat Tiberi) say whether they agree with Parsley's views on gays and Muslims?

We asked that same question back in May and, to our knowledge, only one reporter has taken up the challenge. Although she isn't "mainstream," Cleveland Free Times writer Anastasia Pantsios, at least showed that she had more moxie than the entire Statehouse Steno Pool:
The Free Times asked Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo to comment on Parsley's writings. LoParo responded by forwarding the text of a speech that Blackwell made to the American Muslim Council three years ago.

Among general thoughts on freedom and fighting terrorism, he said: "Already I have seen many instances of our shared moral code overshadowing our differences, as citizens of all races, religions, and ethnicities form alliances to make sure our national security is preserved within the framework of the Constitution ... and to fight bigotry."

Asked again for a response to Parsley's words, LoParo did not reply.
Thank you, Anastasia.

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