Saturday, September 10, 2005

 

What they tell the kids

The failure of the children to stop Katrina. The little weasels! How dare they not pray for and care about Michael Brown after they have learned that:
Growing up in "tornado alley," Michael D. Brown was raised in Oklahoma and had a basset hound named Roosevelt and a dachshund named Eisenhower. When he was a boy there were many tornadoes and he recalls a time when he went into his grandparents' storm shelter during a particularly big one! He enjoyed fishing, hiking and camping as well as debate, speech and history classes in school.

With his team at FEMA, Michael Brown doesn't just help when things go wrong, he also works to keep people safe in case a disaster happens, by providing training for firefighters and emergency managers and a flood insurance program, along with many other things!

Mr. Brown followed his dream to be a lawyer and went to law school after getting his college degree and was an attorney in Colorado and Oklahoma. He has been a part of FEMA since 2001.

Friday, September 09, 2005

 

AP falls for spin on war rallies

Check on the chicanery going on in the headline to the AP story below (actually, the whole story is pretty bad). Get ready because there is going to be plenty of this bullshit being foisted upon the media by Bush, Rove & Co. and the wingnuts in the run up to the Sept. 24-26 period.

ONN/AP headline

A friend of ours called the state AP office to complain, and the editor he spoke to went into full defensive mode and claimed that they couldn't understand what the fuss was about. We explained that Cindy Sheehan would argue that she is more pro-troops than the Freepers. Our friend also alerted the Military Families Speak Out and the Bring Them Home Now groups who are involved in the Sept. 24 rally

The full AP story is now posted on the WaPo website (see below), and we have been told that the original headline was close to the one above. If the headline below is indeed new, it isn't much better, and it still gives a sense of how really unbalanced the entire piece is.

Picture 4

We urge readers to contact the AP as well as the editors of any publication that runs this crap and urge them to substitute a more balanced headline, or preferably, delete the whole story. While our friend hit a brick wall with the AP, he found that the Ohio New Network staffer immediately understood the problem with the story and promised to work on getting some change in place.

 

[Updated] RON Victory! - Court rules against challengers

The details are few, but the Gongwer Report (no link - subscription required) has just released the following:
The 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals on Friday dismissed a Republican-backed lawsuit to block four election-related constitutional amendments from the fall ballot, Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, said.

Opponent group Ohio First had argued that Mr. Blackwell had illegally assumed quasi-judicial powers in a directive to election boards that allowed non-residents to circulate petitions.
We hope to know more about the court's legal decision and whether they took our advice (didn't sound like it from early reports) in a few hours.

Yes, an appeal is possible to the Supreme Court, but it's chances there would be even worse than what they were in the District Court.

[Update at 12:50 pm] The AP has confirmed the courts decision and has added this new information.
The three-judge panel of the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals said the state's chief election officer, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, acted within his jurisdiction when he said out-of-state petition circulators were allowed under state law.
It should be noted that it's only about 9 weeks to the election and the Reform Ohio Now campaign needs volunteers and donations. These initiatives have the potential of opening enormous political possibilities and bringing real change to our corruption-riddled state. The blogosphere will play a key role - perhaps the decisive role - in getting these passed Nov. 8. Please go to the campaign website and help in any way you can.

[Updated at 3:30 pm] We have now read the courts opinion. The only one with more mud on their face that us is Jim Petro. The court dismissed our constitutional arguments (how dare they?!) with a wave of their jurisdictional wand. Translation: The District Court of Appeal is happy to handle this case, thank you very much.

Then the three judges unanimously flicked away the AG's reasonings for requests for writs of prohibition and manadamus. Case dismissed, Mr. Petro - please pay the court's bill as you leave.

 

Taft, Bush fare badly in Marietta Times "poll"

There is nothing statistically significant in a voluntary opinion poll conducted by the Marietta Times at the paper's booth at the Washington County Fair booth, but it does provide some interesting hints about the mood of the populace outside the big cities of Ohio:
60.1 percent of participants are not in favor of how President Bush is handling the war in Iraq.

54.3 percent of participants think Taft should resign in light of his recent admission of guilt in court of failure to report information to the Ohio Ethics Commission.

. . .

In one of the two national questions asked in the poll, the majority of participants — 57.1 percent vs. 42.8 percent of 112 votes — agreed that people speaking out against the war in Iraq were not hurting the war effort.

One of the two questions on statewide issues found that 72.5 percent of the 113 people who responded to the question support U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland’s candidacy for Ohio governor.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 

Car dealers get smooth ride with new tax system

Here's an interesting laugher regarding Ohio's new tax system that's making the rounds of the Capital Square watering holes.

You remember the "tax-reforms" the Ohio GOP rammed thru the legislature that supposed to provide "a powerful new tool to market Ohio’s economy. . . that creates a new business climate that will generate jobs." Yup, those are the ones.

Funny thing, though. It seems that one of the big beneficiaries of the tax changes is one sector of the retail industry that - we'd be willing to guarantee - will not be the source any new jobs: Car dealers.

From a story this week by the Cincinnati Business Journal:
For some auto dealers, the state's new budget/tax reform measure is like the Cadillac of tax cuts.

That is about the value of the savings some dealers will realize, according to the numbers crunched by local accounting firm Jackson, Rolfes, Spurgeon & Co. Based on its research, an auto dealer generating $30 million in annual sales, and who manages an annual inventory of $10 million a year, will see its taxes cut in half over five years, to $110,790 in 2010 from $226,888 in 2005.

. . .

It is a complete reversal of how dealers would have been affected in the original version of the bill, which would have raised their taxes over five years, said Mallory Collier, tax manager at Jackson, Rolfes.

"The car dealers, I have to give them a lot of credit," said Collier, whose firm serves 10 vehicle dealers in Greater Cincinnati. "They really got on this very quickly, they got the car dealers together and they started lobbying. As a result, it actually in the long run is a good thing for them."
A good thing for them? Well, hell yeah, but it's a shitty deal for other Ohioans who are looking for jobs and sending their kids to shitty schools because some other jerks refuse to pay their fair share.

How, exactly, did these car dealers manage to reverse their fortunes and come out smelling like roses? We suspect that maybe the guy behind the Bill Harris Auto Dealerships of Ashland (and elsewhere) might have the answer. Yes, we'd be referring to the Bill Harris.

 

Another "uh-oh" just came from the RNC

Calling Steve Chabot. There's nothing wrong with being flexible with what businesses should qualify for loans after a national disaster, but someone wasn't watching the store, for example, in Ohio.
Low-interest loans meant for Sept. 11 recovery helped an airport convenience store and fledgling video producers, but also a dentist and other business owners who said they didn't know they were receiving terrorism-related aid.

"Am I in that program? Nobody told me," said Tom Brower, a former airline pilot who borrowed $917,000 to open a Ritter's Frozen Custard franchise in the suburb of Hilliard.

About $120 million was approved for about 435 Ohio businesses through the $5 billion U.S. Small Business Administration program, although the agency didn't track how many businesses took the money. The SBA set a loose definition of what adversity from 9/11 would qualify a company for the low-interest, lower-fee loans, including disruption of business or difficulty paying bills or securing financing.

A review by The Associated Press found that many borrowers appear to have little or no connection to the terrorist attacks, including 25 fast-food restaurants, a handful of tanning salons and businesses that didn't open until late 2002.

Several recipients, including a day spa and a bed and breakfast, said they didn't know they had received money meant to speed disaster recovery.
It's pretty clear that the lendees had no idea where their loans were coming from. It sure looks like it was the lending institutions who had the most to gain by making sure all of the STAR money was dealt out quickly. The AP mentions Midwest Business Capital, but we suspect other institutions were involved.

 

Petro in free fall

It happened to Tom Noe, Bob Taft, Brian Hicks, and Mark Lay, just to name a few. Now it continues to rain day after day on Jim Petro's career.

Today, all of Ohio is learning (thanks to the Dayton Daily News) that Jim-boy kept law firm, Schottenstein Zox & Dunn doing work for his office even after SZD lawyer David Robinson failed to notify the AG's office about the enormous losses being incurred by BWC's MDL fund.

Yesterday, Sen. Marc Dann made available a pathetic set of documents Petro provided that purports to show that his office "investigated" SEC allegations of mismanagement at BWC. As Dann points at, the AG's "big" investigation into the SEC complaints amounted to a half-page of scribbled notes.

We also noted something interesting in one of Petro's documents. He included a recent 3-page rant sent to the SEC just 10 days ago. In his frothing, Petro writes:
We cannot, however, blindly accuse companies with whom the BWC has or had contracts of wrongdoing without sufficient assurances that such wrongdoing may have occured . . .
The reason we quote this is because it reveals Petro continued willful ignorance and attempts to misdirect the media regarding the SEC allegations and his office's incompetency. The SEC simply raised that it appeared that BWC investment officials had "abused their discretion."

What is "abuse of discretion?" Attorney readers may split hairs with us, but for the lay people out there, it means this: When making decisions, BWC investment managers must act in the best interest of the fund. The gist of the SEC charges is that BWC managers were - inexplicably - paying enormously excessive fees, including fees to brokers who were incapable of executing the stock trades.

Despite Petro's spin, the SEC didn't accuse brokers, per se, of wrongdoing. The SEC suggested that some of the brokers may have violated National Association of Security Dealers' conduct guidelines, but these are professional rules - not laws - and Petro knows it.

Finally, as we noted in a previous post, Petro is going to get mud all over him today or tomorrow when it presents the case for the opponents of the Reform Ohio Now measures.

We can already imagine GOP chair Bob Bennett's advice to Petro: Like Larry Householder and Joe Deters, you best career bet might be to start looking for a safe, rehabilitative county job.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

 

One head rolls at BWC. More to come?

From the AP late Thursday:
The state insurance fund for injured workers fired its top investments manager Wednesday following more than $300 million in fund losses and the disappearance of as much as $13 million invested in rare coins.

Chief investments officer James McLean had been on paid leave since June as increasing financial losses were discovered at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. He has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing but was fired for poor performance.
Now, what about the folks that provided the phony brokerage fee data?

[typo fixed, thank you!]

 

Goodbye, Jennifer Brunner

Jennifer - it's bad enough your ambitions got so strong that you bailed out of your judgeship so soon after your supporters busted their ass to get you on the court. But now we read (a special tip-o-the Hypothetically Speaking hat to Earl for the link) that you oppose at least two of the RON provisions (and it's unclear where you stand on the other two):
Ms. Brunner said yesterday she opposes a proposed constitutional amendment slated for the Nov. 8 election that would strip the office she hopes to hold of its election oversight authority.

She also opposes a proposal to roll back campaign contribution limit.
Jen, we knew you were already going to get whipped in the primary by Mary Jo Kilroy, who - by all accounts - has done an excellent job as a Franklin County Commissioner. Thanks for making Mary Jo's campaign easier.

 

Watch this . . .

Here . . . and then
1) call your legislators to demand Michael Brown be fired,
2) demand an independent inquiry, and
2) then click on the donation link to the left.

 

Nation's eyes focusing on RON

The national and international press is really starting to sense how the Reform Ohio Now amendments may change the political landscape for the state and the nation.

The New York Times. The Washington Post. Reuters.

 

Prediction: RON opponents to lose court battle

With yesterday's approval by the Secretary of State's office (and various county boards of election) of the Reform Ohio Now petitions, the Republican-led opponents to this election clean-up effort are spinning the story that tomorrow's hearing in the Franklin County Court of Appeals is a big deal.

Sorry, it isn't.

The hearing all pomp and circumstance, primarily for Kenny Blackwell sake, we have to figure. It's fluff and strutting stuff, that Kenny could have easily done away with. But far be it from Blackwell to miss an opportunity - especially with all the national media watching - to be on a a big stage.

The backstory to all this is that every attorney, quasi-attorney and capital square denizen knows that 1) the court of appeals has no jurisdiction, and ( less importantly) 2) has no desire to be sucked into this mess.

The jurisdictional thing is clear. Quoth any reader of the Ohio Constitution:
The Supreme Court shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction in all cases challenging the adoption or submission of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electors.
Simple. Straightforward. No wiggle room. Period. End of story.

But, you might be thinking, "Well, Hypothetically Speaking, if you are so smart, why hasn't the that election whiz Don McTigue and the rest of the RON braintrust attempted to use this provision to get the matter thrown out of court?"

Friends, the explantion to this is in the very next sentence of the Ohio Constitution:
No such case challenging the ballot language, the explanation, or the actions or procedures of the General Assembly in adopting and submitting a constitutional amendment shall be filed later than sixty-four days before the election.
If you look at our little RON counter in the left sidebar you will notice that there are now fewer than 64 days left before the Nov. 8 election. If the RON coalition or Blackwell had acted earlier, Dick Finan and his Ohio First group would have had the opportunity to refile with the Supreme Court. (Why didn't Finan do this in the first place? Because he knew he'd lose. His only chance - a long shot - would be in the court of appeals. Nevertheless, the Statehouse steno pool has fallen for his hype, as they are often want to do.)

Thus, the easy thing for Blackwell to do on Thursday when he appears in court would be to immediately ask the court to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. But like we said, in Blackwell's world a podium is a terrible thing to waste. So look for theatrics and a big show about the meaning of the various petition and election-related statutes - but watch the court act later Thursday or Friday to excuse themselves on the jurisdictional issue.

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