Thursday, June 08, 2006

 

Turnpike leasing constitutional?

Blackwell has proposed leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and using the money for "urban renewal." Besides some experts' opinions that he has grossly overstated what it could be leased for, doesn't this violate Article XII of the Ohio Constitution?
No moneys derived from fees, excises, or license taxes relating to registration, operation, or use of vehicles on public highways, or to fuels used for propelling such vehicles, shall be expended for other than costs of administering such laws, statutory refunds and adjustments provided therein, payment of highway obligations, costs for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of public highways and bridges and other statutory highway purposes, expense of state enforcement of traffic laws, and expenditures authorized for hospitalization of indigent persons injured in motor vehicle accidents on the public highways.
We supposed the key words are "public highways," but can one of our lawyer-readers please weigh in on this?

 

Blogger problems today . . .

Sorry, but their servers seem to be having a bad day.

 

Blog clean up - goodbye Herb

We are trying to make a few home improvements around Hypothetically Speaking, and one we wanted to alert readers to is that we have dropped our "Herb Asher sightings, too!" slogan.

This has (and had) nothing to do with Herb, a fellow we actually kind of like. The slogan was included in the original Hypothetically Speaking as something of an inside joke and a way to poke fun at lazy reporters. At the time, Herb was the "go to" guy whenever someone in the steno pool wanted an "independent" comment about some political development and his name was popping up in the major Ohio newspapers at least once a week.

Herb, however, seems to have had his quotable person credentials taken away once he aligned himself with the Reform Ohio Now group.

In his stead, the press corps has bestowed Asher's former duties on John Green of the Bliss Institute of the University of Akron. Indeed, a comparison of Google hits between Green and Asher show that the former has built up a scrapbook at least four times bigger than the forgotten Herb.

We don't, per se, quarrel with Green's credentials. We just really wonder (rhetorically) if he is the only credible "expert" on politics in Ohio, or is this just another sign of laziness among political reporters and the low bar that their editors have gotten in the habit of setting?

 

When it's not your money . . .

. . . leaving decent tips is easy to do. (BTW, we don really consider 20% to be a big tip anymore, and, in this case it seems kind of cheap given the restaurant involved and what we know about the bribes.)
"He was a 20 percent guy," said Mr. Wentz, referring to Gasper's tips. "He was one of those guys you wanted in your section, a nice cool guy. When I first heard about the whole scandal with coins and workers' comp, I just was hoping that he was not part of that."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

 

Squeeshy-squish

It's official:
Sentencing was expected to be delayed to allow for Gasper to cooperate with authorities as part of his negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors.

"I have been cooperating, and am more than willing to continue to do so," Gasper told the judge.

 

Our biggest fears about Nov. 2006 . . .

. . . is a repeat of this:
Busby bought the DC insider line that elections are about 'issues' unconnected to any larger narrative. Americans are mad about high gas prices therefore they will vote for Democrats. She ran against principles, against values, and against the base. She ran against the blogs, not in the sense that she bashed the blogs but in the sense that her message and our message did not overlap (unlike Hackett). Her message was 'look at these bullet points'.

 

Ohio wanker of the day: Joe Hallett

When covering political events, the m.o. of the Dispatch's Hallett seems to be to arrive late, leave early and get just enough info to cover his ass. We don't know if he is just disorganized, pissed-off about having to go out to events and dig up quotes instead of working the phones like he usually does, or what, but this story about the gubernatorial campaigns and a meeting of university officials/trustees is hackery at its best.

Let us preface our comments by saying that we weren't there and haven't heard anything independently about the quality of presentations by Kenny Blackwell and Frances Strickland. Maybe Blackwell hypnotized his audience and maybe it was a enormous mistake for Frances to stand in for Ted. Or, maybe not.

But, to report on how well either campaign is making an impression actually requires getting responses from both sides of the political spectrum. That is, unless you want to be considered a lazy wank:
trustees interviewed after Blackwell’s speech said he successfully communicated that he would be innovative and open in his approach to higher-education fund.
Exactly, which three university officials did Joe bother to talk to?
1) Brian K. Hicks, the ethically-challenged former Taft chief of staff, lobbyist and Republican operative;

2) Former GOP House Finance chair Bob Corbin, who while in the Ohio House of Representatives sponsored legislation to ban prevailing wage projects for schools (and one plank in Blackwells platform); and

3) Kenneth Yowell, president of Edison Community College.
Well, you ask, what's wrong with Yowell? Good question. We don't know much about him, but a search of campaign contribution databases turns up only three reported contributions: one for $250 to John Boehner and two ($100 and $250) to arch conservative Ohio Rep. Diane Fessler who, herself, is a Blackwell endorser. A little research provides enough of a picture to suggest that Yowell definetly can't be counted on to provide political "balance."

And Hallett purposely muddies the water by allowing Corbin to toss off the comment, "I’m not a supporter of Mr. Blackwell personally." Hallett knows full well that there is a huge bloc of the GOP establishment that personally abhor Blackwell but are strongly politically supporting him because they know the loss of the governor's race would be a body blow to the Republican strangle hold.

Is this what the Dispatch is going to allow to pass as reporting in the governor's race?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

 

Blackwell's office releases 5 million voters' Social Security numbers

So says the PD's Sandy Theis:::
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell got some good news and some bad news on Monday.

The bad news: His office distributed 20 copies of registered voter lists that accidentally included millions of Social Security numbers.

The good news: No one who received a copy has a history of identity theft.
Geez, let's hope the good news is true. Seems like anyone who is registered in Ohio should assume they were on the lists, but the ODP suggests voters file public information requests.

 

Energy crunch hit Ohio's poor hard

What's more important than gay marriage?

According to the Hannah News Service [sub. req'd]:
Ohio's Home Energy Assistance Programs (HEAP) helped 510,185 low-income households to pay their heating bills this winter, approximately a 23 percent increase over last winter.

. . .

The increase doesn't surprise David Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, who predicted in early April that 500,000 households would be assisted this heating season.

. . .

He said that over 60,000 of the households that came onto the program this year had not participated in HEAP in the last eight years. "What was surprising was that most of these families had incomes below 100 percent of the poverty line. These are households that traditionally scraped together enough money to pay their bills but just couldn't anymore because of high prices."
The story also contains a warning about the coming winter:
In May, Taft allocated an additional $45 million to supplement the HEAP program during the 2006-2007 winter heating season -- $30 million short of what was added for 2005-06, Rinebolt is quick to point out. "Plus, we don't have the $58.6 million additional allocated by the federal government. We will be nearly $90 million short of what was spent heading into the 2006-07 heating season."

 

Dick Cheney: could be indictments for crimes against peace

Dick Cheney writes the Blade:
Having grown up during World War II and having followed the subsequent Nuremberg Trials, I'm curious as to why President Bush and his administration have not been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal. Probably, the answer lies in the age-old fact that "might makes right."

Reading over the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal (1950), I would think the President and others could be indicted for crimes against peace (i.e. planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances).

To see the results of their unnecessary war: a country devastated; thousands of American soldiers (and innocent Iraqi women and children) killed or maimed; billions of dollars wasted (to be paid by our children and grandchildren), I do not believe that their actions deserve impunity.
Why did the Blade have to ruin it by telling us it was Dick Cheney of Maumee? But we do like the homemade t-shirt anecdote.

 

Terry RICO to plead guilty to federal, state charges Wednesday

According to the Dispatch.

 

More mortgage fraud?

National City bank says:
When it comes to meeting the needs of our customers, we go beyond the
compliance requirements of applicable laws, especially when we believe that
additional protection is necessary to ensure that we’re keeping our pledge to
do what’s right. In fact, if we fail to do this for any reason, we’re committed
to promptly addressing the situation. - John D. Gellhausen, Executive Vice President
National Consumer Finance
But, uh, maybe not. According to the Dispatch, it seems HUD believes National City (and Huntington) has been trying to get taxpayers to foot the bill for its bad business practices and decisions:
National City Mortgage and Huntington National Bank could face fines and other penalties for improperly dumping $265 million in troubled mortgages into a government insurance program.

Separate government audits obtained by The Dispatch accuse the two Ohio-based lenders of shifting mortgages with histories of late payments off their books and into the Federal Housing Administration insurance program.

The transfers in many cases could amount to administrative fraud, not mere mistakes, because they included letters certifying that the borrowers hadn’t missed payments, according to reports by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

. . .

National City accounts for $263 million of the mortgages in question.

. . .

National City and Huntington were audited because they often submitted FHA loans late, according to the reports.
If this kind of crap pisses you off, send some love and money to the the Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio who have done great work to keep sleazy mortgage practices on the front pages and embarrasing legislators to do something relevant for a change.

Monday, June 05, 2006

 

All Ohioans should thank this union

This is one of those common sense proposals, but its happening in part because of an embarrassing report - done by the Service Employees International Union - on the BWC hospital subsidy reimbursement system. Call 614-461-1199 and tell 'em thanks.

 

Vote for me because, uh, uh, . . . it will be historic!

Novelty vote mining.

 

We don't have time for this

Jeffrey Felman poses some good questions:
How many people have died in Iraq because of a marriage?

How much has the price of gas gone up because of a marriage?

How many people died during Hurricane Katrina because of a marriage?

How much has the environment been damaged because of a marriage?

How many jobs have been shipped overseas illegally because of a marriage?

How many corporations have broken labor laws because of a marriage?

How many children have had their asthma untreated because of a marriage?

How many elected officials in Washington have been indicted for corruption because of a marriage?
To which we would add:

How many Ohio public investment funds have been looted because of a marriage?

How many unbid Ohio public contracts have been rigged because of a marriage?

How many Ohio school districts have gone bankrupt because of a marriage?

How many Ohio manufacturing jobs have been lost because of a marriage?

How many Ohio teenagers have decided they couldn't afford college because of a marriage?

. . . and so on.

 

Protecting Ohio's voters - from ourselves?

Ya know, its because of all that organized fraud that Bob Bennett warned about. From the ODP:
“Longline Blackwell strikes again,” said Brian Rothenberg, Communications Director of the Ohio Democratic Party. “This overly restrictive requirement is reminiscent of Secretary Blackwell’s 2004 paper-weight directive that he backed off of after national scrutiny. Ken Blackwell seems to stop at nothing to make it harder for Ohioans to vote.”

If enacted the order would require any circulator of voter registration who is paid by an entity, whether it is a private business, union, 527 organizations or non-profit organization, to personally deliver the signed registration form they assist with as opposed to allowing the collection of the organizations forms to be turned in en-masse.

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