Ohio Supreme Court says We, the People, will be able to vote on Strickland’s slots plan

I’m pleased to say that the Ohio Supreme Court has determined that the people of Ohio may hold a referendum on Gov. Ted Strickland’s lottery expansion plan that would have introduced Video Lottery Terminals to Ohio’s horsetracks.

Here’s a report on the story from Cleveland’s Plain Dealer.

Had the decision gone the other way, the checks and balances that the people have, to hold the state accountable for how it raises revenue, would have been . . . obliterated!

Gambling buys politicians

I’m glad somebody besides me is starting to connect the dots, even though the proposed remedy is garbage.

Please read this article about a proposal from state senator Keith Faber (R-Celina) from The Daily Briefing section of The Columbus Dispatch.

There is finally an acknowledgment that the various gambling cartels (lottery vendors, casino tycoons, race track owners, off-track betting parlor operators, etc.) routinely buy up politicians.  It doesn’t matter whether you are Democrat, Republican, or even Libertarian, campaign money donated by gambling interests is shaping your political party and shaping Ohio’s elections.  For the most part, those politicians that are the most ethically-challenged are the ones that are able to retain office thanks to gambling contributions to political coffers.

So, if you, voters, would like to “clean house” of the corrupt rascals that reside in the halls of government, you’d do well to size up how politicians have aligned themselves on the issue of gambling.

Faber’s bill would limit contributions to candidates for state offices from the gambling industry to just $500.  This is well-intentioned, and shows, like I said, that someone besides me is connecting the dots, but this “remedy” would be a huge flop, much like McCain-Feingold in the federal campaign finance arena.  Just as there are gaping loopholes in McCain-Feingold that you can drive a truck through, Faber’s bill would be just as flimsy.

The Issue 3 crowd has the Fraternal Order of Police stumping for it.  Even if candidates could only accept $500 from the gambling industry, the FOP could leverage considerable influence in election races on behalf of the gambling industry.

So many officeholders of both major political parties favor one gambling faction or another (completely out of proportion to the allegiances of Ohio voters who’ve rejected the past four gambling issues that appeared on statewide ballots) that one ought to question whether the gambling industry already picks and chooses the frontrunners in primary contests.

Don’t believe me?  Please read this Mark Naymik article from the Plain Dealer (read the WHOLE THING), and ask yourself, what’s Bob Bennett doing, calling Republican operatives all over the state asking for support for Issue 3?  Are you starting to get the picture?  Is it dawning on you yet?  And what would Faber’s bill do to the flow of donations from the gambling industry to political parties?  It would increase it, since the direct flow to candidates, themselves, would be restricted.  This adds to the gambling industry’s leverage of party insiders who anoint and appoint.

But, like I said, this isn’t just a Republican Party phenomenon.  Read this article about interim Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce’s campaign from the Dayton Daily News.  The gambling industry, under Faber’s bill, would only be able to contribute $500 to the Boyce campaign, but Charlie Luken, former Democrat mayor of Cincinnati and current lobbyist for Key Bank who hosts fundraisers for Boyce, also happens to be a chairperson for the Issue 3 campaign.  Faber’s bill does nothing to address this.

Do you see the many tentacles extended just by one gambling faction, the cartel that is pushing Issue 3?

What if I started showing how far the tentacles of MTR, a rival gambling faction, stretched?  The spouse of Democrat Party chair Chris Redfern purportedly lobbies on behalf of MTR.  Strickland’s betrayal of his campaign pledges stand to benefit MTR as the vendor of the VLT slot machines that would be installed at racetracks on behalf of the Ohio Lottery.

Sandy Theis works as a spokesperson for both TruthPAC (mostly funded by MTR) and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.  When it came time to choose the pro and con arguments of Issue 3 that would be presented to Ohio voters, TruthPAC got the nod for the con side, while Ohio Roundtable, a truly anti-gambling organization, was shut out of the debate by Brunner.

MTR owns one of the Ohio horse tracks, and the horse track industry, in addition to it’s Democrat supporters, named above, has, in the past, also been backed by Republican heavy hitters like former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.  The bio of state representative Terry Blair (R-38) clearly places him in the horse track camp.

Let’s not forget past gambling issues, and who was involved in supporting those efforts, too.  Prominent Cuyahoga County Republican Jim Trakas was a backer for last year’s failed Issue 6.  In 2006, Ohio Chancellor and prominent Cuyahoga County Democrat Eric Fingerhut was ushering another Issue 3, “Ohio Learn and Earn,” to the ballot.

A complete and exhaustive list of which Ohio politicians are bankrolled by which gambling factions would be difficult to compile due to length (and also due to the fact that some politicians play their cards close to the vest, hiding the gambling allegiances they have).

Do you see how wide the gambling industry has spread their nets to reel in politicians?  Or do I have to keep connecting dots?

All of this leads to the question:  What is inherently wrong about government favoring gambling? This is a question Libertarians are prone to ask, but many Republicans and Democrats ask the same question.

Some long answers to that question, from the perspective that gambling shrinks the economy, can be found here, here, here, and here.

The short answer is that the ethically-challenged politicians charged with the task of being gambling’s gatekeepers are able to consolidate their power through gambling’s redistribution of wealth.  I’ll let this sign from the 9/12 rally in DC spell it out for you:

redistribution

Remember that the gambling industry produces nothing. It exists just to plunder and redistribute wealth. The wealth is redistributed to help entrench the political status quo.

Also remember that just as we can’t tax our society into prosperity, we also can’t gamble our society into prosperity. Tax proceeds and gambling proceeds are used by elites for the same purposes: To consolidate, hold, and wield power and to subjugate the people.

Final question:  What do we do about it if Faber’s proposal won’t work?

We vote against Issue 3, we get a referendum for Strickland’s VLT plan on the ballot and vote that down.

We clamor for full transparency of political finances.  We inform voters.  We identify which politicians back gambling.  We recruit and support candidates who oppose gambling to challenge the candidates that back gambling.

Ideally, the state stops propping up the horsetracks and OTB parlors, allowing them to fail if they can’t remain profitable, and, finally, we put the Ohio Lottery, itself, back on the ballot for reconsideration, and urge voters to repeal it.

If we do these things, we will have empowered the people, toppled the status quo, improved the state’s economy, and put a huge dent in political corruption.

Another reminder that Mark Stewart needs challengers in 2010 Lorain County Auditor election race

Lorain County residents, take inventory amongst yourselves and scrounge up some opposition for Mark Stewart in the race for Lorain County Auditor next year. I’d like to see a Democrat challenge him in the primary as well as see some competition in the general election. In 2006, Mark Stewart waltzed to re-election with no competition.

Lorain’s Morning Journal provides us with yet another example of how Mark Stewart hurts the county.  Past valuations by Stewart’s office for the property that once housed Ford’s Lorain Assembly Plant stand at $28 million.  The current owners say that the property is actually worth $2.3 million.  I’m not suggesting that we automatically believe the assertion of the current owners, but common sense will tell you which number is closer to actual market value.

A silver lining behind the cloud of declining property values amidst Ohio’s broken economy should be that it’s now cheaper for companies to invest in Ohio’s real estate.  Mark Stewart’s outlandish property valuations rob Lorain County of that silver lining,  deterring companies from investing in the county, and thereby derailing economic resurgence that could lead to improved employment numbers.

As I’ve noted in a prior blog article, you may be wondering why your property taxes aren’t decreasing even though the real estate market has been in freefall.  The best way to tackle this is to vote Stewart out of office, and to do that, we need to recruit candidates for the auditor’s race.

It’s not too early to file a Designation of Treasurer form to organize a candidate campaign committee and start raising funds.  Asking voters to donate funds should be easier in this race than for any other race, because supporting a challenge to Stewart could mean the end of being gouged on property taxes.

Pics from DC on 9/12: It was crowded

Here’s my pictorial recap of the events of 9/12 during my trip to Washington DC.

This first picture is blurry, but that’s because I’m standing in a moving subway car as I’m snapping the photo.

dcsubway

When I stepped on the DC Metro’s Red Line subway in Rockville, Maryland, I encountered several people from Norwalk, Ohio, who had boarded the subway at the Shady Grove station. The reason for their subway trip was obvious by the protest signs they held: They were on their way to the 9/12 rally. They spotted me and said “There’s somebody from Ohio!” I made an excellent choice in choosing to wear an Ohio State Buckeyes t-shirt on 9/12, because I was greeted by Ohioans everywhere I went. Not only did I meet Ohioans from Norwalk, I met them from all over the state: Amherst, Lorain, Cleveland, Youngstown, Columbus, Cincinnati, Sharonville, Mason, Delaware, Toledo, Newark, Marion, Portsmouth, Lebanon, Lima, Moraine, Akron, Sidney, Perrysburg, Maumee, Westlake, North Olmsted, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Enon, New Carlisle, Lancaster, Powell, and so on and so forth.

When the subway rolled into DC to pick up local commuters, you should have seen the looks on the faces of the locals. I don’t think they’d ever before seen such a collection of independents and conservatives descending upon the capital in droves. I think they’d only seen liberals march on Washington before. The look on faces of the locals? They looked like they were seeing ghosts.

When we hopped off the subway, I guess we had supposed that the rally would be like a political party convention, grouped by states.  We were more amateur than that.  It was messier than that.  We combed through crowds, looking at everyone’s signs, seeing if there was a designated gathering point for Ohioans.  Apparently, there wasn’t.  Whoever the speakers were for the rally, it didn’t matter, because the low, faint rumble emanating from the feeble sound system wasn’t intelligible in the ruckus of the oversized crowd that couldn’t even fit onto Freedom Square.

onthemarch2

After a while, some got tired of milling around the square unable to hear the audio, so they began heading down Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill about half-an-hour to an hour ahead of schedule.  It was good that they got underway, even though it was early, because there wasn’t enough space for all of us to converge on Freedom Square at once, anyway.

onthemarch3

After people started marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, I caught a glimpse of Ohio’s distinctively-shaped State Flag, and I gravitated toward it, as many Ohioans followed suit.

onthemarch4

Do you see the Ohio flag held high aloft between two lamp posts on the right half of the photo? There’s another Ohio flag on the left half of the photo, not held quite so high, as well as an OSU Buckeye banner almost dead center above the crowd. I tried to stay within about three blocks of the flags. When I, and others, were concerned that we’d strayed beyond the Ohio contingent, we’d reassure ourselves that we were still surrounded by fellow Ohioans by shouting “O-H,” which would receive the thunderous response of “I-O!” That’s how we stayed in touch with each other through the densely-packed mayhem of the march to the Capitol.  It was plainly evident to me that thousands, yes, thousands, of Ohioans were present, not to mention that I encountered individuals from all 50 (57?) states during the day’s events.

onthemarcdh1

Can you see the Capitol’s dome in the chasm between the buildings that line Pennsylvania Avenue?

During the march, cheers erupted as marchers beheld the side of a building which had the words of the First Amendment etched into the stone.

first amendment

The steps of the Capitol were cordoned off, so there were limits as to how closely we could approach. Also, near the Capitol, I encountered a C-Span staffer who was bemoaning his plight to a DC security officer. Apparently, the crowd was so packed, the C-Span staffer couldn’t wend his way to the media camera banks, and, in fact, he told the security officer he wasn’t exactly sure where the camera banks were set up, as he hadn’t even been able to catch a glimpse of the camera banks.  I briefly accosted the C-Span staffer to ask if it was possible for the public to tour the C-Span studios.  He said “no,” that one must know somebody on C-Span staff to gain access to the network’s facilities.

capitol dome

I feel sorry for the families who brought their kids along on the march, as public toilet facilities were so scarce that I don’t know how people with little bladders were going to make it through the day’s activities. Yes, there were a few port-a-potties, but the operative word is “few.” Just as the sound system was inadequate for the size of the crowd, so was the number of port-a-potties.

Despite the inadequacy of the sound system, there was a moment on the Capitol Hill lawn when the whole crowd took notice of a sound that came from the microphone. Someone had started to sing our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and everyone stood at attention and doffed their hats. The crowd joined in the singing, but the crowd sang along in a whisper, whether to avoid drowning out the singing that could be faintly heard from the microphone, or whether from the inability to sing louder on the account of being emotionally choked up, it was hard to say. For me, I was emotionally choked up, and I silently mouthed the words during the occasions when my voice faltered. Applause erupted at the conclusion of the song, and faint garbled speech resumed.

The ground is fairly level in DC, so it was impossible for me to access a vantage point where I could snap a picture to encompass the entire crowd, but I tried.

capitol rally

Though I was in attendance, I really have no idea how many people were there. If you’re looking for a discussion of the numbers in attendance, I suggest that you take a look at Pajamas Media, where Charlie Martin has two articles, here and here, that attempt to estimate the size of the crowd.

Pics from DC on 9/12: Women have the best signs

I just got back from Washington DC a little over 24 hours ago, so I have some catching up to do.  I’m sorry I didn’t have the capability of uploading my pics sooner, when the events were more current.

I didn’t take any signs with me to the rally.  There wasn’t a shortage of signs, though.  Since the loudspeakers weren’t loud enough for featured speakers to be heard throughout the venues (perhaps they were expecting smaller crowds?) many of us circulated throughout the throngs to read people’s signs and ask people where they were from.  Since so many had never participated in a political rally before, it was difficult to sustain chants like the the professional astroturf mobs do so well.  We were just a bunch of grassroots amateurs, amazed at our surroundings, amazed at the turnout, amazed that we found ourselves even doing such a thing, and amazed at how far and we had trekked (and at what cost) to do it.

As I mentioned in the title of this piece, I think women hoisted the best signs at the rally.  I’m sure the men felt sincere about the messages that they displayed on their signs, such as “Taxed Enough Already,”  but they were . . . how shall I say it? . . . boring and repetitive.  If there were signs that brought a smile to my face, women were the ones brandishing them.  Here’s a sampling:

sign1

sign2

sign3

sign4

Sep. and Oct. town halls with state rep Terry Boose

Mark your calendars!  September 17–Wellington.  September 24–Attica.  September 27–Vermilion.  October 8–Bellevue.  October 17–Norwalk.  State Rep Terry Boose (R-58) will be conducting town hall meetings in these communities on these dates.

Previously, Boose held town halls in Willard, Amherst, New London, LaGrange, and Grafton.  So, if you happen to be in one of those communities and you missed those town halls, you can still make your voice heard at the upcoming town halls.

A press release from Rep. Boose’s office appears below:

Local Legislator Terry Boose announces additional Town Hall Meetings

COLUMBUS— State Representative Terry Boose (R- Norwalk) announced today that he will be holding additional town hall meetings in his district.

“The town hall meetings we have had were a success,” Rep. Boose said. “It was great to get a chance to hear what is on the hearts and minds of the people I serve, and I look forward to hearing from more people in my district.”

Below is a list of the upcoming Town Hall meetings:

Thurs. 9/17/2009        Wellington      7:00pm – 8:30pm        Lorain County Community College Wellington Center

Thurs. 9/24/2009        Attica               6:00pm – 7:15pm        Attica Village Hall (Prior to Attica Council Meeting)

Sun. 9/27/2009           Vermilion        5:00pm – 7:00pm        Vermilion-on-the-Lake Clubhouse

Thurs. 10/8/2009        Bellevue          7:00pm – 8:30pm        Bellevue City Hall Council Chamber

Sat. 10/17/2009          Norwalk           11:00am – 12:30pm    Sheri’s Coffee House

The 58th House district includes Huron County, Western and Southern Lorain County, and Eastern Seneca County.

While pressing national issues have been at the forefront of media coverage, it should be noted that our state government is also in dire straits, particularly since the budget will have to be revisited.  Previously, Rep. Boose expressed his own views on the state budget.  These town halls are opportunities to express your own views on the state budget and any other matters facing Ohio.

Round-up of Issue 3 posts to date

Collecting My Thoughts, a right-of-center blog appearing in my blogroll under the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance heading, has posted an excerpt of an email discussion about Issue 3, the casino issue that Ohioans will see on the November ballot.  The right-of-center bloggers of Ohio are not of one mind on the gambling issue, and the excerpt shown was an attempt, on my part, to advocate against this and other gambling issues.

Another fairly recent blog entry against Issue 3 appeared at Writes Like She Talks, wherein JMZ points out that this year’s Issue 3 contains many of the same shortfalls as the Issue 3 (Learn and Earn) of 2006.

Madrigal Maniac has also fairly recently posted an entry against Issue 3, highlighting friction between proposed casinos and charitable organizations that raise funds via bingo.

Glass City Jungle has posted multiple Issue 3 entries.  Blog author Lisa Renee Ward has made a conscious effort to report the issue fairly, and her posts are generally quite newsy.  The charitable bingo angle is covered at GCJ, too.  The pro-casino lobby likes to recycle FOP endorsements, but mixed in with that coverage is opposition from Catholics and opposition from a rival gambling organization that calls itself TruthPAC.  Among the GCJ entries that struck a nerve with readers was one that noted a former supporter of the issue is now an opponent.

Kyle Sisk’s blog has also contained entries that have attempted to allow both sides to have their say (three installments to date.)  Also making an appearance on the blog was a guest post by yours truly, pointing out that gambling is akin to piracy.

My own blog, has a history of opposing gambling, and my most-viewed blog entry of all time dates back to last year’s failed Issue 6 casino issue, examining the shortfalls in terms of the microeconomics principles of opportunity cost and multiplier effect.  Prior Buckeye RINO coverage of this year’s Issue 3 includes  a post consisting of my email communications with casino spokespersons, a post showing the Issue 3 proposal is far inferior to the principles that led to the founding of the famous Monte Carlo casino, a post that points out the special rights that would be granted by the Ohio Constitution to special people who are not Ohioans, a post containing a rebuttal from casino proponents with my reply, a repeat of the post that appeared on Kyle Sisk’s blog, and a post questioning the massive amount of fraudulent signatures appearing on the petitions that the casino proponents filed.