Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Sad State Of Affairs

 In Florida 2-year-old Taj Ayesh got his little hands on his father's loaded pistol, pulled the trigger, and crumpled to the ground. You may have heard about 9-year-old Daniel Wiley, who was playing outside his house in Harrisburg, Texas, when a 13-year-old mishandled an unsecured shotgun, blasting Wiley in the face. Maybe you didn't hear about the case in which a child shot others and then committed suicide, but that also happened this year. Twice.
A year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Jones has analyzed the subsequent deaths of 194 children ages 12 and under who were reported in news accounts to have died in gun accidents, homicides, and suicides. They are spread across 43 states, from inner cities to tiny rural towns. From http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/12/children-killed-guns-newtown-anniversary.
In the meantime Wayne LaPierre, Mr. NRA gun selling shill, is quoted as saying “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.,”
Considering the results of the above study I would paraphrase ole Wayne by saying, “the only way to stop a bad child with a gun is with a good child with a gun. That'l teach'm.

Paul Hunter

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal

We can only hope that ATSG (Airborne) is able to create the promised 259 new, good paying $25 per hour jobs related to the new hangar nearing completion at the Air Park. In addition to the more than $500,000 that local tax payers contributed directly to the project the state of Ohio has given grants, low interest loans and tax credits to finance the $15.5 million construction costs of the joint use maintenance and paint (JUMP) hangar. The cash poor Clinton County Port Authority is granting a $270,000 annual rent reduction to ATSG as well
In addition a 23 year TIF agreement will divert the property tax normally paid on commercial property away from the city, city school district, county and township. The idea is that tax revenues generated by the new hires will offset the loss of other revenue streams.
I use the word “hope” advisedly because the below report is not encouraging.

An annual report by the Ohio Attorney General shows that 45 percent of those that received state help for development projects didn’t live up to their promises in 2012. Statewide, of the 266 development awards reviewed by the AG’s office, 120 fell short of meeting their promises while 146 met at least 90 percent of their pledges. The compliance rate has fluxuated: 55 percent in 2012, 63.5 percent in 2011, 59 percent in 2010.

Paul Hunter

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is It Time To Change Highway Funding?

Our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair and replacement at the same time as increased fuel efficiencies are cutting into highway fund revenues. 

One of several solutions is a method called Public-Private Partnership agreements, (P-3) with private-sector entities that can bring badly needed capital to a public project. This of course would require a toll system that, while attractive for projects like the new Brent Spence bridge in Cincinnati has a downside. Toll payment presents affordability considerations for low income commuters going to and from places of low wage employment.

Technology is eliminating one of the major down sides of toll systems, collections. Dash mounted transponders and license plate readers coupled with automated billing are replacing traffic slowing and labor intensive toll booth collection.

The only other options are to increase to decades old gas tax of a flat18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline, 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Or, given the current anti tax mood in Washington, divert federal income tax revenue from other areas to te highway fund.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/18/highway-funds-from-federal-gas-tax-approach-empty.html  Highway funds from federal gas tax approach empty
WASHINGTON — The fiscal cliff is gone, but a highway cliff has appeared on the horizon. The federal highway trust fund — paid for with a federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon — is on track to dry up in August, says the Congressional Budget Office, meaning the government would run out of money to pay for maintaining and building highways.

Paul Hunter budhunter@frontier.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

War, The Gift that Keeps On Taking

There are good wars and there are bad wars but there are no cheap wars.

Year to year defense costs have been costly but affordable, however, the long term costs snowball into huge personnel obligations in what are called the “out years” by bean counters.

A few examples:

Military heath care, including retirees, cost $50 billion dollars in 2012.
Military retiree payments were $52 billion in 2012 and are expected to rise to $59 billion by 2022.

After war personal support costs are also in an upward spiral. The Veterans Administration (VA) was $66.5 billion in 2002 and by 2012 it was $125.3 billion.

If we stopped enlisting another soldier or stopped buying another rifle, ship or plane we have a lifetime obligation for past service of over $200 billion per year.

Paul Hunter budhunter@frontier.com

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Where's The Money?

In my opinion the persistent and growing inequality of wealth distribution in our nation is caused in part by the virtual elimination of inheritance taxes on large estates.
If the old saying that,”it takes money to make money” holds true, then those with untaxed wealth will continue to increase personal wealth.
If this pattern continues unchecked, wealth will continue to be held by fewer and fewer people who will grow even wealthier.
Another factor at work is the stagnation of real wages of the working and lower middle class. Added together these trends will create a nation where the working poor will become ever more dependent on the voluntary charity that the economic elite may grant via their legislative employees.
My fear is that the system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and that working folks are being misled by skilful debaters into accepting political actions that are against their own interests.

One study http://www.econ.nyu.edu/user/benhabib/Moll_wealth%20distr.pdf indicates that we are heading toward the same wealth distribution situation that existed early in the last century. In 1927 25% of all income was earned by 1% of the population. From 1943 to 1898, the hey day of the middle class, that same group's incomes fad fallen to just 12% of total income. By 2008 the 1% had regained their 25% share.
Paul Hunter

Please send civil comments to budhunter@frontier.com

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Residential Recycling Is On The Rise

APRIL 29, 2014 http://wasteandrecylingnews.com/residential-recycling-is-on-the-rise/

Headlines such as the one above are very encouraging for those of us that want to see the life of existing landfill space extended and a reduced need for opening new sites.
Another benefit is the saving of finite natural resources such a petroleum, trees and metals. Our grandchildren will thanks us if we continue to increase our recycling efforts.
Data from the Ohio EPA:
From 1990 to 2012, in Ohio. the highest landfill disposed pounds of solid waste per person per day was 5.46 pounds. The lowest point was 2012, the last year of record, was 4.07 pounds. If applied to Wilmington's landfill, the savings of landfill space would be 28,00o cubic yards per year.

Paul Hunter

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stealth Tax Increases

Our state legislature and governor have made a great deal of noise about cutting state tax rates in order to attract businesses to Ohio.
In the meantime Ohio home owners are seeing a significant tax increase during this same period.
Two property tax increases will shift the tax burden from the state to the local residents

I submit for the readers consideration two changes in the rules.

a. Let's say for example, that Wilmington decides that, due to other state revenue reductions coupled with a harsh winter, a 5 mill street repair levy will be placed on the November ballot.
Previously this levy would have cost the owner of a residence valued at $150,000, $229.69 per year in new property taxes. Under the new rules the bill for the same residence is now $262.50 per year. The amount the city receives stays the same but the $32.81 difference that the state used to pay now falls to the home owner.

b. In the past senior homeowners that have paid full property taxes for most of their lifetime received a significant reduction in property taxes upon reaching their 65th birthday regardless of income. That same $150,000 residence, at the Wilmington tax district rate, saves the owner an estimated $300.00 per year. That savings was also made up by the state and local revenue did not change.
Under the new rules if the household income of the owners exceeds $30,000 per year the savings will no longer be granted to new seniors.
Note: Those seniors already receiving the exemption prior to the rule change will not be effected.

In the two examples cited, the state saves a total of $333.00 and the home owner picks up the deficit. When added to the $75 in state sales tax increase, that our sample residents paid on an auto purchase this year, it starts to affect their quality of life.

Paul Hunter

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Choice Or Circumstance of Birth

This man (a), in spite his rabid racism, his swastika tattoo and passion for Hitler, despite his avowed and continued pride in having killed “Arabs” — is not just a monster. He is also the product of a cycle of poverty and neglect, with a mother who once told him she had been $50 short of having the money required to abort him; a young charge turned over to a state system of detention and incarceration.

This man (b): Was born in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Isabel and Melville. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. He graduated from High School in 1961. Then received a scholarship to attend the College of William and Mary, graduating in 1965 with a B.A in history.
Choice Or Circumstance of Birth

Man (a):Ten days after 9/11, self-professed “Texas loud, Texas proud” Mark Stroman walked into a Dallas mini-mart, pulled out a gun and asked the brown man working behind the counter where he was from. The hesitation in the clerk’s reply was enough to unleash Stroman’s hatred for Muslims, whom he referred to as people with “shawls on their face.” Stroman pulled the trigger, but his victim, Raisuddin Bhuiyan, an enterprising immigrant from Bangladesh — and a Muslim, indeed — would survive. The other two victims from the fortnight’s vigilante shooting spree, immigrants from India and Pakistan, would not.
(From Anand Giridharadas’s “The True American”.)
Man (b) Robert Gates on August 1, 2002, he became the 22nd President of Texas A&M.
Paul Hunter

Friday, May 9, 2014

Who is Running Ohio's Legislative Agenda?

 Ohioans or the Koch Brothers and friends.

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch finally got their way in 2011. After their decades of funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators, the project began finally to yield the intended result.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) American organization, whose membership primarily consists of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives. According to its website, ALEC "works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise,and limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public."[
One example: Until now, the biggest target in Alec's sights were state Renewable Portfolio Standards, which require electricity companies to source a share of their power from wind, solar, biomass, or other clean energy. Such measures are seen as critical to reducing America's use of coal and oil, and to the fight against climate change. RPS are now in force in 30 states.
In 2012, Alec drafted a model bill pushing for the outright repeal of RPS.
In the confidential materials, prepared for the August board meeting, Alec claimed to have made significant inroads against such clean energy policies in 2013.
"Approximately 15 states across the country introduced legislation to reform, freeze or repeal their state's renewable mandate," the task force reported.
Republican Senator Bill Seitz is the committee chairman and sponsor of the legislation.

As of January, 57 [2011] members, or roughly 43% of the Ohio legislature were members of ALEC: 

Of Note: Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-86) Rep. Peter Beck (R-67) Sen. Bill Seitz (R-8)

Decide for yourself

Paul Hunter

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Civilized Society?

In my opinion it's better that ten guilty persons escape the death penalty than one innocent person to be put to death in error. Put yourself in the same position.

From The Economist 4/26
ON THE morning of December 23rd 1991 a fire destroyed a home in Corsicana, Texas shared by Cameron Todd Willingham, his wife and their three daughters. The fire killed the girls; Mrs Willingham was at the Salvation Army store shopping for Christmas gifts. Mr Willingham survived. The next year he was convicted of setting the fire. He was sentenced to death and executed in 2004.
His conviction rested on arson investigators’ findings and the testimony of Johnny Webb, a jailhouse informant who claimed that Willingham had confessed to him. Shortly before the execution, Willingham’s lawyers sent the governor and parole board a report from Gerald Hurst, another arson investigator, detailing multiple flaws in the first investigation. He concluded that the fire was caused by a space heater or faulty electrical wiring. Officials appear to have received this report before Willingham’s execution, but did nothing with it. Several independent arson investigators reached similar conclusions.
Willingham insisted on his innocence, refusing to plead guilty even to avoid execution. Mr Webb testified that, as he was passing Willingham’s cell, he heard him confess to having done the deed to cover up child abuse committed by his wife. But no bruises or signs of abuse were found on the children’s bodies.

Mr Webb recanted his testimony in 2000. He then recanted his recantation, but admitted to a journalist that “It’s very possible I misunderstood what [Willingham] said.” Mr Webb also testified that he was promised no benefit in exchange for his testimony. In February, however, lawyers working to get Willingham a posthumous pardon revealed a note discovered in Mr Webb’s file with the Navarro County prosecutor promising a reduced charge “based on cooperation in Willingham”. On April 3rd Texas denied Willingham a pardon. His lawyers can reapply in April 2016.
Paul Hunter

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fiscal Emergencies In Ohio Cities.

Several Ohio cities have gone into into fiscal emergency status since 2010. The status applies when the state auditor finds that a government entity, such as a city or a school district has debts and obligations that exceed revenues.
Could the state government budgets approved by the legislature, including yes votes by our representative Cliff Rosenberger and Senator Bob Peterson and signed by the Governor, have contributed to this growing problem?.
Let us count the ways: A $1 billion a year cut in state funding for local governments, major reduction in state revenue sharing with county and city governments, the elimination of the estate tax, a 12.5 % reduction in state contributions to local property taxes on new tax levies and means testing new senior citizen's $300 property tax relief.
A further attack on cities revenue streams, now pending in the legislature, will require a unified income tax collection scheme that takes away local collections and requires cities to contract for collection services.

To prevent our city from becoming a fiscal basket case we residents will either have to vote for higher local taxes or accept reduced city services including police and fire protection. Locally, streets were hard hit by the harsh winter and lack of past preventative maintenance and there is no money in the street fund for needed action.

Paul Hunter 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Local Boy Makes Good?


Then: Randy Meyer is New Ohio IG

From The Columbus Dispatch January 2018
Randy Meyer, the chief investigator for state Auditor Mary Taylor and a former police officer, was appointed Ohio inspector general today by Gov.-elect John Kasich.
Meyer, 44, a Republican from Wilmington, will replace Thomas P. Charles, who will be Kasich’s public safety director when he takes office on Jan. 10. Kasich and Taylor announced the appointment today at the Clinton County Courthouse in Wilmington, where Meyer was a police officer from 1994-99.

Now: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/01/new-coingate-report-to-include-roles-of-taft-aide.html

New ‘Coingate’ report to include roles of Taft, aide

State Inspector General Randy Meyer is expected to release a new “Coingate” report today that reflects the criminal convictions of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft and his executive assistant on ethics charges.
The report Meyer released last week of his investigation into the investment scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation from nearly a decade ago did not include the convictions of five whose records were expunged.

The roles of Taft, former aide J. Douglas Moormann and three others were missing from Meyer’s report.
Now, the inspector general’s office concedes that blame for the presumed sealing of Taft’s and Moormann’s case files was incorrecting the mistake on an investigative attorney’s research error.

................Meanwhile, top Democratic leaders called yesterday for Meyer’s ousterbecause of the initial report. Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said Meyer should “resign immediately,” citing not only the report that turned up nothing new but also Meyer’s failure to interview Taft or Noe. Redfern said a new state investigation should be conducted by Ohio Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald said Republican Gov. John Kasich, who appointed Meyer, should demand that Meyer resign................
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Paul Hunter