Take back our country in this year’s elections

One more reminder that Mark Stewart needs to be challenged for Lorain County Auditor

With the economic meltdown, more than a few local businesses can’t keep up with their bills.  If a business becomes defunct, it might garner some news coverage.  If it garners news coverage, there’s a good chance that the outstanding debts will be reported, particularly if taxes are overdue, especially when taxes are a matter of public record.

Elyria’s Chronicle-Telegram has a story about a shuttered strip club that, yet again, reveals the trend of inflating property tax assessment values beyond what the market would support.  This particular property was sold for $10 to get out from under the debt, but the prior sale price was $750,000.  One would think that the ever-worsening economy would support the notion that assessed values would be revised downward, but the Lorain County Auditor’s office assessed the value at $768,200.  Does anyone know anybody that will by this property for &768,200?  Didn’t think so.  When you add this bit of information to the info about tax assessments on the former Ford Lorain Assembly Plant property, and the complaints I’ve heard from some Lorain County homeowners, it’s clear to me that Stewart has been gouging the public.  In October, the Lorain County Auditor’s office announced that assessed property values were dropping, and a news story of potentially-inflated assessed property values in neighboring Huron County may have motivated the Lorain County Auditor’s office to make such an announcement.

But these are not the most egregious excesses perpetrated by Mark Stewart during his tenure as Lorain County Auditor.  For the most egregious excesses, I recommend poring over That Woman’s Weblog under the category heading of “CRA.”  Mark Stewart thinks that a Lorain County Auditor has the right to veto ordinances enacted by Lorain City Council.  In Stewart’s wranglings to retroactively (a violation of ex post facto provisions of the Constitution) rescind tax abatements, he’s cost the county and Lorain city lots of $$$ in legal fees.  The power Stewart has usurped is absolutely tyrannical.

In my opinion, Lorain County Auditor Mark Stewart is in need of some checks and balances.  The check and balance I’d prefer is that someone runs against him for election this year so that voters can show him the door.

Here’s a recent blog entry about launching a candidacy.

The deadline for submitting election candidacy petitions to seek party nominations in the primaries is February 18, 2010, before 4 p.m., at the Lorain County Board of Elections.

[UPDATE]Civil trial before federal judge to be “YouTubed”–on trial: California’s Prop 8

Ah, the wonders of the world wide web . . . in this case, YouTube.

In the November 2008 elections, not only were Presidential candidates on the ballot in California, so was Proposition 8.  Proposition 8 sought to affirm that lawful marriage in California would be reserved for matrimonially joining one woman with one man.  Voters approved the measure.  Those opposed to the measure are apparently still miffed at “democracy” spelled with a little “d,” and have made numerous attempts to do an end run around voters and the fundamentals of American governance.

Among the latest attempts to circumvent democracy, those opposed to California’s Proposition 8 are in the process of litigating the measure as a civil matter in a federal court where one judge (no jury) will decide the case.   In an unprecedented move, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that courtroom proceedings will be recorded on video for display on YouTube.  (All the handier for harvesting sound bites out of context, don’t you think?  After all, who’d stare glassy-eyed at a computer monitor for hours upon hours watching courtroom YouTube clips to wrap their heads around the full scope and context of everything presented at trial?)

Michelle Malkin points out, in her blog post on the upcoming trial, that the move to YouTube the trial may be an attempt to intimidate witnesses that might be called to testify.

My advice to Prop 8 supporters who will be testifying:  Don’t let the opposing side sucker you into their straw man arguments wherein religion is the bogeyman.  Don’t let them turn this trial into a referendum on religion.  The opposing side has attempted to use that trick to sidetrack debating the real issue time after time.  As I’ve argued in a prior blog entry here at Buckeye RINO, one can be an atheist who subscribes to Darwinian evolution and still see the wisdom of withholding state recognition of same-sex “marriages.”

Of course, I’m not surprised that the opposing side is pushing for video coverage.  I’ve noted the opposing side’s double-speak before, when they’ve said that they want the government to stay out of bedrooms yet their actions demonstrate that they really want to parade their bedroom activity in full public view.

I suppose we could be thankful that the liberal left will only be presenting us with a courtroom video and not a bedroom video.

UPDATE 1/11/10: At least for the near future, the Supreme Court has blocked cameras from the courtroom for this trial.

The struggle to restructure Cleveland schools

I listened to the streaming internet feed of yesterday’s press conference wherein Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eugene Sanders unveiled the plans for the “transformation” of Cleveland’s public schools.  The Plain Dealer provides more coverage that you may access through this link.

One thought that ran through my head:  Isn’t it amazing (and wrong) that the school district has to seek to spin off and/or partner with charter schools in order to gain sufficient flexibility to pursue academic excellence?  Isn’t it an indictment of federal and state mandates that cause public education to be so rigid?  In the short term, since addressing root causes for the inflexibility of public schools would take a great deal of time (especially since no politician has even begun to desire to address root causes–the politicians are still piling on with the mandates that increase the level of paralysis), I have to say, in broad terms (not necessarily all the details), that I support Sanders and the path of change that he is seeking to blaze.

Another thought that raced through my head as I listened to the press conference:  Too many people within Cleveland are going to nonsensical lengths to try to stop these changes that Sanders seeks.  There are too many people in denial about the devastatingly poor performance of Cleveland’s schools.  I can’t think of any reason why Clevelanders should cling to the status quo.  Does everyone realize the societal cost of maintaining dropout factories?  Dropout factories = more prisons.  I don’t like that equation, so let’s subtract dropout factories so that we can subtract prisons.

What will it take to allow public schools to be flexible enough to emulate the best practices implemented by private schools?  I think Ohio’s politicians ought to be scouring the revised code and administrative code to see what can be weeded out in response to that question.

Obama to visit Lorain County on January 22

Several media sources are reporting that President Obama will be visiting Lorain County on January 22.  Ostensibly, his message will focus on employment and economic recovery for Main Streets all over America.

Of course, politically speaking, Ohio is a bellweather state, so I understand why the President would, from time to time, schedule appearances here.  I suppose U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is quite pleased with himself that the President has selected Lorain County for the upcoming occasion.  I’m sure local residents, whether they voted for the President or not, will be eager to make the President’s acquaintance.

Since 2002, I’ve been campaigning for improvements to Lorain County’s economy, and my proposals aren’t really on the same page as Senator Brown’s.  I’m curious what the President will say, but, if I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d venture to say that the President’s message to Lorain County residents will not substantively differ from what Senator Brown’s message has been.  If the President did say anything that marked a departure from what Senator Brown says, that would raise lots of eyebrows in the blogosphere, and perhaps in the MSM, as well.

I’ve been less active in posting on my blog in recent weeks.  Perhaps I should give myself a swift kick-in-the-pants to increase my blog content before the President arrives.  My transportation series, in particular, keeps nagging at me.  I need to complete it.

I’m sure to weigh in on the President’s message in the aftermath of his visit . . . unless, of course, he hires me to be the czar in charge of scheduling sports events in order to save the BCS from itself, in which case, as a czar, I’d have to recuse myself from criticizing the President.

Will the President’s appearance be carefully stage-managed?  Or will there be unscripted and impromptu moments in which local residents can interact authentically with the President?  I’m curious to see how that turns out.

Reader’s opinions are welcome.  What are your thoughts and feelings about the President’s upcoming visit?

Ohio House GOP press release: Strickland, House Democrats Gamble With Education

Editor’s note: This press release was issued today, Jan. 4, 2010, on behalf of the Republican caucus in the Ohio House of Representatives. Rep. Martin represents the 70th Ohio House District, Rep. Morgan represents the 36th Ohio House District, and Rep. Stebelton represents the 5th Ohio House District.  Further information regarding this press release may be obtained via Megan Piwowar at (614) 466-0863.  As an aside, yours truly, DJW, the Buckeye RINO, thinks it is a huge mistake to depend upon the state’s gambling revenues, including the Lottery, to fund the essentials for K-12 education.  In my not-so-humble opinion, such gambling proceeds should be managed as a windfall, as the state ought not to be enticing more and more of Ohio’s residents to begin to gamble, or to gamble more often, or to gamble more $$$. Furthermore, it is the opinion of yours truly that education mandates ought to originate from the citizens within local school districts, not so much the state government, and definitely not the Federal government.

Strickland, House Democrats Gamble With Education: Schools Targeted As Political Pawns Throughout 2009

COLUMBUS— One year to the day House Democrats took the majority, State Representatives Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek), Seth Morgan, CPA, (R-Huber Heights), and Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster) summarized the 2009 legislative year as time of unfunded mandates on schools and damaging funding cuts to poorer districts, charter schools, e-schools and Catholic schools. Additionally, rather than streamlining state spending to ensure adequate funding for education, Governor Strickland chose to fund K-12 education with unstable revenue from video lottery terminals, an unconstitutional plan that eventually failed and put Ohio’s education system at risk.

“Throughout this economic turmoil, lawmakers Republican or Democrat need to remain committed to ensuring a bright future for Ohio’s students,” said Martin.  “The political pandering and aggressive tone that threatened devastating cuts to education was a clear demonstration of partisanship by Governor Strickland and House Democrats who carelessly placed the reductions on education before examining other bloated areas of the Executive branch or legislature.”

House Democrats managed to cut state education funding by nearly $400 million over the next two years, the first time since the DeRolph case of 1997 that the Legislature recommended education funding cuts. They also imposed costly mandates on schools by requiring the implementation of all-day kindergarten starting in the 2010-2011 school year, which many districts have said they could not afford in this economy.

“Recognizing that education is central to Ohio’s long-term success,” said Morgan.  “House Republicans proposed numerous ideas to increase Ohio’s chances of receiving federal funding through the Race to the Top program, preserve school choice, and alleviate oppressive mandates on districts. They also introduced a number of amendments to the budget to improve the governor’s evidence-based model.”

The Ohio Department of Development has estimated that establishing all-day kindergarten in Ohio’s 613 school districts will cost more than $200 million, including $127 million in operating costs and $78 million for classroom space. House Republicans avow that enforcing this mandate on already-struggling schools will force many to cut programs or extracurricular activities to be able to afford the mandate.

“I will continue to fight to save the taxpayers of Ohio money, and to cut wasteful government spending, while protecting our most valuable asset, the future of Ohio-our children’s education,” said Stebelton.  “I was disheartened by the inept leadership in Columbus to threaten our schools and even libraries while budget discussions were still going on.”

However, House Democrats have silenced many Republican initiatives since the beginning of the General Assembly. Although the Ohio House has been plagued by stalemates and inaction in 2009, House Republicans remain hopeful that 2010 will bring bipartisan discussions about Ohio’s future and how to responsibly bring our education system into the 21st century economy.