Perplexing questions about Cleveland cops

In the unfolding drama of political corruption in Cuyahoga County, where do the local forces of law enforcement fit into the picture?

The scandals we are learning about in 2009 have been going on for years and years.

Newspaper reports tell of FBI investigators cracking the case and federal prosecutors lining all the ducks in a row.

Without the FBI, would local law enforcement have ever brought the scandals to light?  The scandals have been under the noses of local cops for a long, long time.  Due to proximity to and familiarity with the prime suspects implicated in these scandals, local law enforcement officials should have pounced on the tell-tale warning signs a long time ago.  What happened?  Why isn’t this unfolding saga a tale of the heroism of local cops doing the right thing amidst a backdrop of graft?  Were they looking the other way?  Were key law enforcement officials complicit in covering things up?  Are they, themselves, active participants in the scandalous behavior?  Do they merely lack the tools to police these kinds of crimes?

Or, are local police organizations the unsung heroes of this purging of corruption?  Are local police officers the ones who initiated the process that’s culminating in Federal prosecutions, but they aren’t getting any credit for it?  Were they the ones who tipped off the FBI, realizing that the FBI could bring more resources to bear, and invited the FBI to widen a probe already begun by local police?  In the ongoing FBI investigations, has the FBI continuously been furnished with crucial help from local police, without which, the FBI probe would have been doomed and gone nowhere?  Have local police forces served as irreplaceable foot soldiers in this epic battle to beat back corruption?  Has the FBI been absorbing the lion’s share of the credit for this crackdown when the local police are chiefly responsible for bringing the corruptocrats to justice?

Which, of these two competing pictures, is the true portrayal of the various police forces within Cuyahoga County?

Or is it messier than that?  Is there a dichotomy of both heroic cops and dirty cops that, taken together, convey a murky picture of their overall role in breaking the case wide open?

How soon can we find out the answers to the questions I’m posing?

Why is it important to know the answers to the questions I’m posing?  I can at least attempt to answer the immediately preceding question from looking at just one facet (though there are countless other facets to look at).  Issue 3 will appear on Ohio’s election ballots this November, a proposal that would amend the Ohio Constitution to allow out-of-state entities to own and operate casinos in Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Columbus.  Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police, a labor union for police officers, has gone on the public record urging passage of Issue 3.  Police officers in those four cities constitute a huge chunk of the overall membership of Ohio’s FOP.  Cops from Cleveland and its suburbs have an enormous amount of say in whatever endorsement decisions are made by Ohio’s FOP.

Considering the opacity of the casino industry, an opacity that makes casinos the preferred venue for money laundering, and considering the demonstrated proficiency that the gambling industry has for buying politicians, are local police forces up to the task of policing the casinos?

Can we trust the local police to enforce the transparency, accountability, and compliance with the laws that are needed to keep casinos honest and above-board?

UNLESS (that’s a big “unless”) the local cops are the true, unmitigated heroes in reining in the corruption of Cuyahoga County, I place no faith whatsoever in their endorsement of Issue 3.

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:


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.

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.

The crux of oral arguments on slots

Oral arguments were made before the Ohio Supreme Court over whether the voters will have any say on the matter of Video Lottery Terminals at racetracks.

The Ohio Channel has a video clip of the oral arguments.

The lottery slots proponents argue that the people do not have the right to a referendum in the matter because appropriations are immune from referendum, and that the slots proposal is an appropriation because the money provided by slots has already been spent on education.  Furthermore, the slots proponents argue that under Ohio’s Constitution, the lottery commission has always possessed the authority to implement the slots plan.

Referendum backers argue that the slots proposal is not an appropriation.  It is a mechanism for raising revenue, and thus is not immune from referendum.  The referendum backers deny that the Ohio Constitution, alone, grants the authority to implement the slots plan, and the evidence cited is that the authority is only granted by way of HB1, the biennial budget, thus, without explicit legislation granting that authority, the lottery commission does NOT possess the authority.  Appropriations laws are temporary, because they expend money only for a biennium.  The portion of HB1’s legislation that authorizes the slots, however, is a permanent change, not a change that lasts only for two years, highlighting the point that the slots proposal is not an appropriation, and is therefore not immune from referendum.

I was particularly struck by an exchange between Justice Judith Lanzinger and slots attorney Benjamin C. Mizer that occurred 32 minutes and 5 seconds into the oral arguments, wherein Justice Lanzinger suggested that Mizer was adding language to the Ohio Constitution for the sake of advancing his argument about appropriations.  What struck me is how the referendum rights of the people of Ohio are limited pertaining to appropriations.  At 33:18, Mizer said that Constitutional limitations on referendum power were enacted because:

” . . . we didn’t want the power of the purse to be infringed by the referendum power, and, specifically, above all, the people did not want the referendum power to be used to create fiscal instability and fiscal crisis and to tie up appropriations.”

And Mizer reiterates at the 34-minute mark the danger of allowing a referendum:

” . . . what would happen in this case is the gumming up of the works of the budget bill and tying up a 2.3 billion-dollar appropriation.”

Oh horrors!  We can’t have the people stop government spending!  Why, uh, . . . that could lead to  . . . fiscal instability!  Crisis!  Mass hysteria!  The Apocalypse!  The extinction of humanity!  The end of the world as we know it!  Annihilation of the Universe!

So, we, the people, under Ohio’s Constitution, already have the deck stacked against us when it comes to checking and balancing the legislature’s fiscal policies.

The attorney for the referendum backers, Michael A. Carvin, warns that if the court accepts the argument that the slots provisions are an appropriation because the money has already been spent on education and is therefore immune to referendum, then going forward, any money-raising mechanism that the legislature can imaginatively devise can be rendered immune to referendum by spending the money on a specific line item before the money is even collected.

If that were to happen, I would find that an extremely dangerous precedent to set, as the people would have no check or balance whatsoever on whatever money the legislature chooses to confiscate from the people by whatever method.

I sincerely hope that, the plaintiff represented by Mr. Carvin, prevails in this case.

From other blogs on this issue, for, against, and indifferent:

Madrigal Maniac

Southeastern Ohio Conservative Thoughts

The Pullins Report

Ohio Daily Blog

Glass City Jungle

Kennedy’s in Lorain? Meet Daly’s in Sandusky.

Deja vu all over again.  I’d written about the poker scheme hatched by Kennedy’s Billiards in Lorain.  Voila!  Read the Sandusky RegisterSame story, but this time the gambling scheme is being sought by Daly’s Pub in downtown Sandusky.

Governor Strickland, thanks to you, I think we are sliding headlong down that slippery slope.  I hope you feel guilty.

Erie County gambling petitions: “I see dead people”

Lorain city council ripping a page from the Strickland playbook?

Elyria’s Chronicle-Telegram is reporting that Lorain city council is mulling a way to enable poker tournaments at a Lorain bar/billiard lounge.

“State law only allows government facilities, veterans halls, sporting facilities and fraternal organizations to host gaming festivals for charity. Kennedy’s Billiards could only host such an event if the city leased it for a short period of time. The city would be reimbursed.”

I don’t think charity is the chief motive for the billiard lounge proprietor.  As with any business, the chief motive would be to profit from this “charitable” activity.  I don’t mind businesses making profits, as long as everything is above-board, but snaking through dubious legal loopholes doesn’t pass the smell test with me.

Ted Strickland, as governor of Ohio, though, has opened the Pandora’s Box, however, with his reversal on gambling expansion and his making a mockery of the Ohio Constitution with his VLT slots/lottery/racetrack scheme.  We can expect more of this erosion of Ohio’s statutes as Strickland continues down his current path.  As Ohio’s chief executive officer, he should be foremost in upholding the law, but, instead, he’s leading the charge to subvert the law.

Gambling: Plundering of other people’s wealth causes economic contraction

NOTE:  This entry has been cross-posted at Kyle Sisk’s blog,  You’ll also find his blog listed in my blogroll sidebar under the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance heading.  This is not my first post about how gambling hurts the economy, as I’ve written about the lost opportunity cost and diminished multiplier effect during last year’s Issue 6 campaign.  I’ve previously posted 4 other blog entries about this year’s casino ballot issue, which you can read by clicking here, here, here, and here.

The casino backers who seek an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to let out-of-state entities operate 4 casinos on Ohio soil have chosen to call themselves “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan.”  From the name of it, you’d think it was an advocacy group that would lobby state government with a comprehensive plan for bringing jobs to Ohio and lowering our unemployment rate.  But if you think that, you’d be wrong.  “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan” exists solely for the purpose of introducing casino gambling, nothing else.  The only connection between “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan” and real Ohio jobs is that the casinos plan to hire a few individuals if the constitution is amended.  They don’t plan to hire 34,000 employees, however, no matter how much they repeat that ridiculously bloated figure.  I don’t think they even plan to hire one-tenth of that amount for 4 casinos.

Do casinos grow an economy and grow jobs?  Think about it.  Then think about these questions:

Does piracy grow the economy and jobs in Somalia?

Thinking?  Ready for the next question?

Do internet scams grow the economy and jobs in Nigeria?

Ready for the next question?

Do intellectual property thieves (who infringe on copyrights, trademarks, and patents) grow the economy and jobs in China?

What do casinos, Somali pirates, Nigerian internet scammers, and Chinese intellectual property thieves have in common?

Let’s answer the last question first.  What these entities have in common is that they create nothing.  They produce nothing.  Any wealth these entities have was plundered from someone else.  The Somali pirates seize aquatic vessels by force.  Nigerian internet scammers acquire funds through trickery and deceit.  Chinese intellectual property thieves copy work done by others, and sell the knock-offs.  Casinos have their own bag of dirty tricks for plundering gamblers, but they are not unlike Nigerian internet scammers.

So, does piracy create jobs and economic growth for Somalia?  Yes.  Somalia is a failed state that has no education system, thus Somalis are not equipped to produce anything of value to trade in the global marketplace.  Therefore, they confiscate the property of those who did produce something of value, ransom it, and the proceeds can provide an influx of wealth to Somalia that wouldn’t be realized otherwise.

But what does Somali piracy do to the global economy?  It introduces inefficiencies into the global marketplace.  Costs rise as ransoms are paid, as security is beefed up, as time is lost, as vessels, cargo, and crew are forfeited.  If the higher costs make the producer’s enterprise unprofitable, they shut down.  If the producer doesn’t wish to increase investment to cover the higher costs, they drop out of the marketplace.  Inefficiencies cause the economy to contract.  Commerce shrinks.  Jobs are lost.

About one-fifth of Nigeria’s economy comes from scamming.  Yes, there is a boost to Nigeria’s economy, but what does it do to the global economy?  Like Somali piracy, it causes it to shrink.

Chinese intellectual property pirates?  Companies that actually do the creating of products have to compete against the knockoffs.  Some can’t.  Companies that continue to compete against the knockoffs have higher costs as they sue in court for infringement, or they tighten security against industrial espionage, or they add features to the product to make it easy to detect the counterfeits.  Some people in China make money off these knockoffs, but globally, knockoffs kill jobs, which is why the U.S.A. and its investors have lobbied China hard to go after these intellectual property pirates.

Somali pirates are not enriched from plundering Somali sources of wealth.

Nigerian scammers are not enriched by plundering Nigerian sources of wealth.

Chinese intellectual property pirates are not enriched by plundering Chinese sources of wealth.

That’s why the economy shrinkage they cause is compartmentalized so that it isn’t experienced domestically.

Casinos, however, plunder victims in close proximity.  Nevada, with the most casinos in the USA, has a higher unemployment rate than Ohio.  It has a higher home foreclosure rate, too.  In fact, Nevada leads the nation in foreclosures.

Of course, sub-prime mortgage scams played a huge role in the rising foreclosure rate and the rising unemployment rate.  The difference between sub-prime mortgage scammers and casino operators is that the sub-prime mortgage scammers produce a paper trail that shows us exactly how the wealth they plundered has evaporated.  The casinos don’t produce such a paper trail.  They are much less transparent.  Casinos are every bit as much of a scam, plundering wealth that they didn’t create, and making our economy less efficient, thereby causing economic shrinkage.

So the jobs that casinos create come at the expense of jobs lost elsewhere in the economy.  Thus, the moniker of “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan” is an attempt to deceive.  The 34,000 jobs?  That’s an attempt to deceive, too.  Nigerian internet scammers like to lure victims with numbers so big, like, “We have identified you as the next of kin to inherit $20,000,000,” in order to coax people into divulging bank account information.  The rule of thumb?  Invent a number so big that it causes you to take a risk.  All of the numbers provided by “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan” follow this rule of thumb, and they parade those numbers every chance they get.  Even Donald Trump, gambling tycoon, admits to using this trick in his personal life, as he’s admitted to exaggerating his net wealth to obtain a myriad of objectives.

Overall, the economy of Nevada suffers because of gambling.  Overall, the economy of Detroit suffers because of gambling.  Overall, the economy of West Virginia suffers because of gambling.  I could go on and on.  The opulence of the casinos are meant to deceive you into thinking that wealth is being created, when it’s really just being plundered.

Casino rebuttal and counter-rebuttal

Today I received an e-mail from Justin Higgins, a former blog author of  Right on the Right, which can be found in my blogroll sidebar under the heading of State of Ohio Blogger Alliance.   Mr.Higgins is also a contributor to Shots on the House.  Mr. Higgins is involved in internet outreach for the casino proponents, who call themselves “Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan” (a misnomer if I ever heard one, over-the-top propagandistic, but that’s a topic for a blog entry for some other day).

The State of Ohio Blogger Alliance is comprised of blogs that consider themselves politically right-of-center.  Buckeye RINO, this very blog, is also part of the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance.  As you can tell already, from the intro to this blog entry, there are differing opinions within the Alliance, and gambling is one of the issues that the SOB Alliance is divided on.  Most of those within the Alliance who favor casinos describe themselves as somewhat Libertarian in their social views.  The others on the right who favor casinos are more moderate.  I think there are valid reasons why, even from a Libertarian viewpoint, Ohio’s casino issues don’t pass muster (here’s an example from last year’s Issue 6).  As one can read in my right-hand sidebar, I’m neither Libertarian nor moderate.  I consider myself to be a conservative Republican, even though a few people label me as a RINO (don’t be fooled by this graph).  At any rate, I’ve been catching flak from some on my own side of the aisle for my opposition to gambling.  They don’t usually leave comments here on the blog, for all to see.  They usually just let me know of their disapproval through e-mail.  Mr. Higgins, though, intended this email to be part of the public discourse, so here it is:


From: Justin Higgins <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 10:35:23 AM
Subject: Touching Base from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


I contacted you back in the spring and since then you’ve spoken to a couple folks from the Jobs & Growth Plan, including our spokesman. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be talking to bloggers and providing information from now until November and I’m available as a resource for information. We’re glad you’re writing about the issue and I wanted to contact you to provide some facts and thoughts that might answer some questions and stand contrary to a few of your arguments.

1)      First, in response to the notion that this is another deal that only benefits out-of-state gambling operators: Dan Gilbert employs Ohioans, contributes immensely to the Cleveland area, and has contributed immensely to Ohio’s economy. He employs over 2,000 Ohioans through a Quicken Loans web center in downtown Cleveland, a Fathead distribution center in Columbus, and his other Ohio ventures. He is a significant investor in the state.

2)      Also, in a similar manner, you wrote about the Monte Carlo scenario being different because outside money was flowing into Monaco. I think the missing piece of the puzzle that makes our proposal beneficial is that Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and even Canada are Ohio’s “Monte Carlo’s”. They are the ones siphoning wealth and prospering while Ohio refuses to fight for the market share that is already being spent out of state and will be spent whether Ohio has casinos or not. It is estimated through the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan that $1 billion in Ohio gambling dollars that are currently leaving the state will be repatriated.

3)      Also on the issue of “money leaving Ohio”, it’s not just about the management and companies owning the casino, but it is about the jobs and peripheral benefit the casinos will have on area businesses such as hotels and restaurants. The amendment requires the facilities to be $250 million investments at the minimum, so they will be first-class establishments.

4)      In response to your final argument about a free market for gambling in Ohio, it is a frustrating case of reality setting in. As Bob said, it is “impractical” to have 50 casinos operating in Ohio right now, not only from the business perspective but from the political perspective.

I am sure you will cover this issue more going forward, and I am available to answer your questions or provide you information by phone or e-mail.

Justin Higgins

The Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan



I do have to concede one point to Mr. Higgins.  I thought I’d included all prior correspondence with Ohio Jobs and Growth in this post.  I took a look through my email inbox and found I’d overlooked a prior message from Mr. Higgins.  Here it is:

From: Justin Higgins <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2009 6:56:08 AM
Subject: Introduction to Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


First off, I want to introduce myself. My name is Justin Higgins and like you, I’m a blogger in Ohio. Recently however I’ve taken on a new role and I’m doing some internet outreach for the Ohio Jobs & Growth plan. I am not a spokesman, I’m just here to get you guys (good bloggers) in touch with folks and give you info on our proposal. Feel free to ask me any questions but treat anything I send as off-the-record unless noted otherwise (or unless a link to a story or official statement). Basically, I wanted to share some info about the plan. This plan will bring in 4 casinos and create roughly 20,000 jobs. It will generate the state over $650 million in tax revenues every year. I recall you writing that Ohioans oppose gambling, and while that’s true in the past, new polling data shows a shift. I’d direct you to the Vindicator for this-

/A total of 60 percent of respondents said they favored making casino-style gambling legal in Ohio. /

/That result is comparable to past Ohio Polls but does not mean voters will back specific casino issues on the ballot, said Eric Rademacher, co-director of the institute./

/According to a release, “While the Ohio Poll has found in the past that a majority of Ohio adults approve of casino gambling in major cities near their home, the poll has also found election day voters unwilling to approve ballot issues that would lead to the legalization of gambling in the state. This has been reflected in election day outcomes over the past decade.”/

We believe a considerable amount of opposition to past proposals has more to do with the strength of those proposals. We believe this plan is the right plan at the right time for Ohio. Feel free to contact me with any questions or requests.

— Justin Higgins
Online Communications Specialist
Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


OK.  I’m finished with concessions.  Now, onto my counterpoints to Mr. Higgins rebuttal.

To Mr. Higgins point number one:  There are many, many people who invest in Ohio, who employ people in Ohio, and who, themselves are Ohioans.  Mr. Gilbert is not an Ohioan, but he would get special rights under this proposed constitutional amendment that resident Ohio investors/employers would not be granted.

To Mr. Higgins point number two:   As for the casinos that exist in neighboring states, they cannibalize the assets of the populations of their own states more than they do Ohio’s.  This differs from Monte Carlo, because that casino was off-limits to Monaco’s citizenry.  Monaco was only gaining money from the casino.  They weren’t simultaneously losing money to the casino.  So there was an economic net gain from Monte Carlo.  The surrounding states don’t receive a net gain, and this post during last year’s issue 6 campaign explains some of the reasons why, from a microeconomics point of view (and I’ll be building on that theme in the near future).  I can’t help that those other states have casinos, as I’ve not been registered to vote in those states.  I CAN, however, strive to make a difference in Ohio, so that we don’t make the same mistakes that surrounding states have made (and casinos are mistakes, in my book).

To Mr. Higgins point number three:  Ohio gets the table scraps, while the out-of-state casino owners/operators pump their profits out of Ohio.  Ohioans might as well continue gambling at the out-of-state casinos.  Opening the casinos here only increases the cannibalization of Ohio’s population while sending the profits out to some of the exact same entities that own the out-of-state casinos.  If Ohio were to approve casinos, I’d rather that the casino owners making the profits were Ohioans, and if Dan Gilbert wants to get in on the action, he can work as a peon blackjack dealer and earn a fraction of those table scraps.  How’s that for turning your idea on it’s head?

To Mr. Higgins point number 4:  Thanks for pointing out that libertarians, who champion free enterprise, should not support the casino industry, where much marketplace intervention is required to keep the industry artificially sustained.  Also, thanks for pointing out that there are business realities and political realities, for casinos aren’t the utopias they are made out to be.  Among the political realities are the fact that we rely on government officials to be the gatekeepers of casino gambling, and that, since Ohio has had a recent history of corruption in government, politicians can’t be trusted as gatekeepers.  The pro-gambling lobby provides great temptations for ethically-challenged government officials.  Libertarians clamour for transparency and accountability.  Conversely, the gambling industry corrodes both transparency and accountability.   I’ll have much more to say about all of these points in the near future.

Compare with Monte Carlo . . .

In November, Ohioans will be asked if they wish to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow 4 casinos, owned and operated by out-of-state entities, to do business on Ohio soil.

As one can determine upon reading my correspondence with spokespersons for the casino proponents, the major thrust of their marketing efforts is to portray casinos as an economic booster.  I will have much to say about this portrayal beyond what is contained in this blog entry, so stay tuned . . .

Last year, in the days preceding the vote on another casino issue, Issue 6, I made a fuss over who gets the privilege of owning and operating a casino in at least a couple of posts (like this one, and this one).  With this latest casino proposal, I’ve already made this same fuss over special Constitutional rights to own and operate a casino granted to out-of-state tycoons that won’t be extended to the 11 million residents of Ohio.

Why is it that I concern myself so much with the right to own a casino and not so much with the right to gamble at a casino?  One obvious reason would be that adults already have the mobility to get to a casino, and if they can get there, they have the right to gamble there.  Therefore, the rights to gamble are not, in reality, curtailed.  However, the rights to own and operate a casino are very much curtailed.  If a casino happens to be publicly traded (and not all of them are) the average person might be able to own a few shares of stock, but a controlling interest in the corporation would clearly be out of reach.  Meanwhile, the average person, if they felt entrepreneurial enough, might manage to open a restaurant, a fitness center, a retail shop, a trucking service, a dry cleaners, a laundromat, an automotive repair shop, a mortgage brokerage, a realty, a manufacturing facility, a marina, a hotel, a software company, and so on and so forth . . . except a casino.

The clear economic advantage of having a casino in your city would accrue to the casino’s owners, not the casino’s gamblers . . . and since the casino’s owners aren’t even from your city, or even your state . . .

So, can you name an example of a casino that actually boosted an economy?  How about the famous Monte Carlo casino in the Mediterranean principality of Monaco?

OK, let’s look into the history of the Monte Carlo casino.  We can then compare it with what’s being proposed now.

The land area of Monaco amounts to less than a square mile.  It has a population of between 30 and 35 thousand people.  It lies on the shores of the Mediterranean, and beyond its land boundaries lies the nation of France.

The terrain of Monaco is sharply sloping, and it’s soil is relatively rocky.  Nevertheless, through much of Monaco’s early history, much of it’s economic lifeblood came from agriculture.  Lemons, oranges, olives, and grapes were cultivated in Monaco, once upon a time.

There was a sudden drastic change that left Monaco bereft of its agriculture.   Suddenly, Monaco was the poorest state in Europe.  What happened?

Monaco’s territory used to be bigger.  The Grimaldi dynasty that ruled Monaco imposed high taxes.  Grumblings over taxes led to a separatist movement.  The royal family didn’t have the power to hold Monaco together intact, especially with the behemoth of France breathing down its neck.  So, in order to remain a family of privilege with at least a tiny parcel of territory to rule, the Prince of Monaco arranged a treaty with France that recognized the Grimaldi family’s self-rule over the tiny parcel of land that constitutes present-day Monaco, but the Grimaldi family was forced to relinquish claims on the agricultural lands inhabited by the separatists.  In the year 1861, Monaco lost 90% of its territory, including all of its arable land.

What’s a Prince to do?  If the Prince allows Monaco to wallow in poverty, all its remaining residents will also revolt, and there will be no territory or people left to rule over.

In 1863, the first phase of the Monte Carlo casino was built.  Prince Charles III had been to a luxurious combo spa and gambling resort in Germany, and decided to give it a try in Monaco.  His resort would cater to the very wealthy, and he’d use the balmy Mediterranean seaside climate as an additional marketing tool to attract the upper crust.

The Prince knew that the casino would fail to enrich Monaco if its residents gambled there. Therefore, from its inception, the Monte Carlo casino was off-limits to Monaco’s citizens, including the royal family, itself.  Monaco’s citizens were not even to enter the casino.  To make sure that the casino was catering to an upscale clientele, guests had to dress up in order to gain entry.  No shorts or blue jeans or t-shirts.  Tuxedos and evening gowns, however, were quite acceptable attire.

In less than a decade, Monaco’s income tax was scrapped.  The royal family had managed to solidify its rule within its principality.

But that’s not the end of the story . . .

During the Great Depression, revenues at the casino dropped substantially.  The royal family realized they had to diversify Monaco’s economy.  From that time to this, Monaco has been working toward minimizing its dependence on casino revenue.  Nowadays, there’s competition from casinos in France, so there’s even more reason to diversify the economy.  When casino revenues fell, instead of pouring larger investments into casino expansion, the Grimaldi family invested in other  diverse ventures. The tourism industry is the largest economic sector of Monaco, even today, constituting roughly 50% of GDP.  The casino’s share of today’s economy?  Less than 5%.  The famous casino, while it endures, is not an economic necessity for Monaco.  The economy of Monaco today could survive quite well without it.  Many of the biggest investments the Grimaldi family made weren’t even in the tourism sector of the economy.  A chunk of land was filled in and reclaimed from the sea, and light, non-polluting, industry was attracted to the new stretch of land by the siren call of low taxes.

At one point, Monaco had to modify its stance on taxes.  The neighboring behemoth of France noticed too much of its tax revenue was being drained by wealthy people taking up residence and setting up business in  tiny little Monaco.  Therefore, French citizens must reside in Monaco for at least 5 years before they become exempt from French taxes.  With its scarce land, Monaco is a pricey location when it comes to renting an apartment, but, depending on a person’s tax bracket elsewhere, moving to Monaco could make your net income grow by 50%.  Wouldn’t that be worth something to you?  As a result, only 16% of Monaco’s population is comprised of native citizens.  The rest have been lured there from elsewhere, and they have a very high standard of living.  The Grimaldi family doesn’t have to worry about separatist movements any more.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Ohio aspired to be a tax haven?

OK, so let’s compare the Ohio casino proposals with the Monte Carlo model.  The royal family of Monaco has a controlling interest in the casino, and they, in fact, reside in Monaco.  Ohio’s casino moguls would not be based in Ohio.  Monaco’s citizens have not been permitted to gamble at Monte Carlo.  Ohio’s citizens would be be incessantly entreated to gamble at the casinos.  Monte Carlo’s marketing targeted only wealthy clientele.  Casinos in the USA, including the current casino proponents, have no such qualms over who they entice to gamble.  Monte Carlo pumps money into Monaco from elsewhere.  Ohio casinos would pump money in the outward direction.  During an economic downturn, Monaco did not ramp up its investment in casino expansion to shore up lagging revenues, while the casino tycoons seeking entry into Ohio are doing exactly the opposite.  Instead, Monaco sought to diversify it’s economy, while Ohio is seeking to put all its eggs in one basket: gambling.  Monaco realized that a casino is not an economic cure-all, but Ohio hasn’t caught on to that yet.  Monaco learned that high taxation will only cause power to slip through your fingers, and that low taxes can spur economic growth and diversification.  Ohio’s government?  They don’t seem to know squat about that.

To sum it all up, Monte Carlo was an economic boost for Monaco in the short run when they were in dire straits, but the proposal in front of Ohio voters is not at all like the Monte Carlo model.  The Ohio proposal, as structured, cannot possibly duplicate the results that Monte Carlo achieved.  In the end, the real lesson that Monaco learned was that tax policy is among the fundamental building blocks to obtaining and maintaining economic and political power.

Casino operators: Special rights for special people

There are so many illuminating tidbits of information to cull from my correspondence with the backers of the casino issue.  Thus, this will not be the only blog entry written about what’s revealed in that correspondence, so stay tuned . . .

If voters were to approve this casino issue in the November election, casinos would be legal in Ohio by an amendment of the Ohio Constitution.

So, are you, Ohio residents, ready to open up your casinos?  Oops!  Wait a minute.  Who do you think you are?  Dan Gilbert?  If you aren’t Dan Gilbert, and you open a casino, you will be raided by the police, your gambling equipment and revenues will be confiscated, you will be thrown in jail, and you will be charged with a crime and prosecuted.  PERIOD! But if you ARE Dan Gilbert . . . CHA-CHING!

Think that’s unfair?  Think it’s so unfair that it should be unconstitutional?  Guess again . . . it’ll be TOTALLY constitutional, because we will have amended Ohio’s constitution to make casino operation permissable for Dan Gilbert, and out-of-state casino operators (like Penn National Gaming Inc.), but IMPERMISSABLE for other Ohio residents.  Isn’t it interesting that an out of state casino corporation will be granted more constitutional rights by Ohio than Ohioans, themselves, will be granted?

And just who is Dan Gilbert, anyway?  He’s the loan-shark-in-chief of Quicken Loans.  He’s the special Ohioan who gets to own and operate a casino in Cleveland.  OOOPS!  Did I say Ohioan?  Duh!  I meant to say Wolverine (or, at least Spartan, as he’s a Michigan State alum)!  His hometown is Livonia, Michigan!  My oh my!  Do ANY Ohioans, any at all, get a crack at opening an Ohio casino if we approve this amendment to our state’s constitution?

So, all this agitating over neighboring states having casinos, but not Ohio, would result in allowing the entities from the neighboring states to be the ones to operate Ohio’s casinos.  So, after the taxes are paid by the casinos, where will the casino profits go that the casino owners get to keep?  Outside of Ohio?  WAIT A MINUTE!  I thought that the whole idea behind voting for this constitutional amendment was to KEEP THE GAMBLING MONEY INSIDE OHIO!!!!!  BUT IT WON”T BE THAT WAY AT ALL!!  MONEY THAT COMES FROM INSIDE OHIO WILL STILL BE PUMPED OUTSIDE OHIO!!!! The people who will be enriched by casinos will be non-Ohioans, and the people who will be impoverished by casinos will be Ohioans.  Sound like a wonderful state constitutional amendment to you?

And why won’t Ohioans be allowed to open casinos?  That’s the question I asked to the spokespersons of the casino proponents.  It’s because it’s “impractical.”  Our economy can’t sustain a free marketplace filled with casinos (and THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER ISSUE TO EXPLORE IN FUTURE BLOG ENTRIES!).  Expect any expansion beyond the original four casinos to be jealously fought over if they would allow new casino ownership groups to compete with the original mix of casino owners.

E-mail correspondence with casino issue spokesmen

From: David Kormanik <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 1:36:54 PM
Subject: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


Hello, my name is David Kormanik and I represent the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will keep you informed on our activities and make sure you have the latest information on our plan to bring four first-class casinos to Ohio —one in Cleveland , Columbus , Cincinnati , and Toledo .

In the meantime, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news, endorsements and campaign updates.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you have!


David Kormanik

Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan



From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 5:14 PM
To: David Kormanik
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Question:  If the casino proposal represents a plan for Ohio ‘s jobs and growth, why just cherry pick 4 locations?

Question: If America is, by its nature, is intended to be a land of opportunity and free enterprise, and if Ohio voters favor legalization of casinos, why limit competition by creating a casino cartel, as your proposal intends, instead of allowing anyone to open up, own, and operate casinos wherever the zoning of Ohio’s communities permit them?

–Daniel Williamson


From: David Kormanik <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 11:36:32 AM
Subject: RE: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


Please contact our spokesperson, Bob Tenenbaum ( He will be able to answer the questions below, as well as address any other concerns you may have.

I have also attached a document containing information on our proposal.


David Kormanik

Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan


From: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 1:25:31 PM
Subject: Fw: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Question:  If the casino proposal represents a plan for Ohio ‘s jobs and growth, why just cherry pick 4 locations?

Question: If America is, by its nature, intended to be a land of opportunity and free enterprise, and if Ohio voters favor legalization of casinos, why limit competition by creating a casino cartel, as your proposal intends, instead of allowing anyone to open up, own, and operate casinos wherever the zoning of Ohio’s communities permit them?

–Daniel Williamson


From: Daniel Williamson [] Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 3:49 PM
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Question: Didn’t you pledge to answer questions?

–Daniel Jack Williamson


From: ” Tenenbaum, Bob ” <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 12:50:24 PM
Subject: RE: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Is this for a publication, or are these just personal questions? (We will answer either way, I’m just curious.)


From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 4:09 PM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

I definitely intend to blog about the casino issue multiple times this year.  I’m surprised that you have a two-track answering system, one for on the record, and one for off the record.

Consider this “on the record.”

–Daniel Jack Williamson

From: ” Tenenbaum, Bob ” <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 1:13:02 PM
Subject: RE: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

We don’t ever answer “off the record,” and there is no two-track system. As I said, I was just personally interested.


From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 4:31 PM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

I recant.  I’m so sorry, I apologize.  I shouldn’t be flippant like that, especially when the information is offered to me so graciously.

But, yes, I’ll be blogging about the casino issue.

–Daniel Jack Williamson


From: David Kormanik <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2009 4:18 PM
Subject: YouTube Petition Filing Video

Dear Daniel,

The Ohio Jobs & Growth Committee released a video today on Facebook and YouTube highlighting last Thursday’s petition filing.

It includes footage of the 200+ petition boxes containing over 850,000 signatures (double what is necessary to qualify) being submitted to the Secretary of State’s office.

I invite you to watch the video at

Please let me know if you need any additional information about the campaign! Thanks for your time.


David Kormanik

Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan





From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 11:53 PM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

I’ve been waiting for your answer to the two questions I asked.  Plenty of time has elapsed.  I do intend to blog about the casino gambling issue.  I will include your answers in my blog if I can receive those answers in the next 48 hours.  If I do not receive answers, I will compose a blog entry, anyway, even without answers.

Daniel Jack Williamson
Buckeye RINO


From: ” Tenenbaum, Bob ” <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 6:34:02 AM
Subject: RE: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Here you go:

Question:  If the casino proposal represents a plan for Ohio ‘s jobs and growth, why just cherry pick 4 locations?

Casino gaming is a business, and as such needs to be looked at in terms of what is practical. It is clear Ohio can support four casinos in the state’s four largest cities, where they will create jobs, contribute to the revitalization of our largest urban areas, and generate tax revenues to help support local governments and schools throughout the state. Every state that allows casino gaming limits the number of licenses available. The supporters of this issue believe that the most practical solution for Ohio is to place casinos in the state’s four largest cities, while making sure that every county and every school district in Ohio benefits from the tax revenue the casinos will generate.

Question: If America is, by its nature, intended to be a land of opportunity and free enterprise, and if Ohio voters favor legalization of casinos, why limit competition by creating a casino cartel, as your proposal intends, instead of allowing anyone to open up, own, and operate casinos wherever the zoning of Ohio’s communities permit them?

The notion that “anyone” can “open up, own and operate casinos wherever the zoning of Ohio’s communities permit them” implies that Ohio could support 10, or 20, or maybe 50 casinos spread throughout the state. It’s simply a totally impractical idea. Every state that has permitted casino gaming has limited the number of licenses available. In addition, opening up the state to casino gaming requires an amendment to the Ohio Constitution, and that requires a campaign that someone has to fund. The developers of the casinos proposed in this ballot issue have been very open about the fact that they are supporting the campaign because they want to develop these casinos. They have also committed to investing a minimum of $250 million of private money in each casino . . . a significant contribution to the economy of the state and its four largest cities.

Bob Tenenbaum

Spokesman for the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

250 Civic Center Dr., Suite 440

Columbus OH 43215

(614) 573-1377


From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2009 9:45 AM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Thank you very much.  This will be posted soon.

Daniel Jack Williamson
Buckeye RINO


From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:18 AM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

My initial reaction:  What you refer to as practical and impractical serves to highlight one of the big differences between the casino industry and most other industries in a free market system: Sustainability.  Casinos require a very structured marketplace because they cannot be sustained in a free marketplace.

–Daniel Williamson


From: “Tenenbaum, Bob” <>
To: Daniel Williamson <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:20:21 AM
Subject: RE: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

If you’re opposed to allowing the casino industry in Ohio , I respect your viewpoint. But this is for the voters to decide. Independent polls have consistently shown that Ohioans favor allowing casino gaming in concept. It is our belief that they have defeated four previous issues because they did not provide the kind of economic development and tax revenues the voters were looking for. We think this issue does . . . and therefore believe it has a very good chance of gaining passage in November.


From: Daniel Williamson []
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:29 AM
To: Tenenbaum, Bob
Subject: Re: Hello from the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan

Of course.  I want the voters to decide, also.  I think this dialogue will be instructive.

–Daniel Williamson


Dear readers:  This is raw source material.  I plan to expand on this information in the near future.  Stay tuned . . .

Gambling: Something to NOT do when one loses a job

In the heat of summer, I don’ t have much patience for sitting at a keyboard to blog, so there hasn’t been much new content here at Buckeye RINO in a while.

But I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time at my keyboard if I can just point you in the direction of others who have been at their keyboards lately.  The sidebar is full of links to other blogs.

A post I’d recommend on the subject of gambling (which I oppose, in case you didn’t know) appears at Freedom’s Right (one of the many fine blogs of the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance).  Giving a green light to gambling makes no economic sense when one is down and out on their luck.

Ohio House Speaker Budish: “I’m for sale!”

He can’t help it.  Armond Budish is a Democrat politician from Cuyahoga County, after all.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, then you’ve probably never heard of the name of Jimmy Dimora, either.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Did you think that statehouse pay-to-play politics vanished because we switched from a Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives to a Democrat majority in the Ohio House of Representatives?  Did you think monumental changes are in store now that Democrats control legislation?  If you thought so, you haven’t been paying any attention to Buckeye RINO.  I’ve been saying all along that pay-to-play politics is a game that special interests play with BOTH political parties in the Ohio General Assembly.  I’ve been saying all along that you have to learn about the INDIVIDUAL you are voting for, and not just the party affiliation.

So, if you thought that ensconcing Armond Budish as the new Speaker of the House with Democrats in control would mark some kind of improvement over Householder/Husted/Dolan and a bunch of Republicans, you were WRONG.

This is the start of the biennium.  It’s the start of a new session of the General Assembly.   Do you know what that means?  Since it’s the point in time most distant from the time that one must stand for re-election,  that means now is the time to consider the most odious of legislation.  If there are issues that Ohioans oppose, but legislators favor, now is the time that legislators will act on those issues.

Why do legislators oppose the will of the people?  Because they get campaign contributions for doing so.  Now is the time to reward campaign donors, and now is the time to line up campaign donors for the next election run.  The legislators hope for two things:  First, that you won’t be paying any attention to the legislation that gets passed; and second, if you are paying attention, that you have a very short memory.

Perhaps the most publicized pay-to-play legislation at the beginning of the previous biennium was a Senate bill that hurt mom-and-pop cable television utilities in order to favor the big behemoths of the cable industry.  The spin of the politicians was that we’d see more competition within the cable TV industry, and our rates would go down.  Did anybody’s rates go down?  During the past year, my rate actually took a hike.  The Ohio General Assembly tried to feed us this hogwash because the cable TV behemoths, through their Political Action Committees, are able to be much more generous in donating to campaigns than the little mom-and-pop cable TV companies.

This biennium, the granddaddy of the pay-to-play PAC’s appear to be those connected to casino gambling.  Ohioans have repeatedly voted against casino ballot issues.  Ohioans don’t want casinos.  Our legislators do.  Our legislators always have.  Why?  Because if our legislators oppose gambling, they don’t receive PAC donations to their campaigns for sticking to their principles.  If our legislators support gambling, however, they stand to receive lots of campaign donations to gambling-related PAC’s.  With our legislators, money talks.  Ohioans talk, too, but our legislators turn a deaf ear when there’s no money attached.

Armond Budish (remember, he’s a Democrat politician from Cuyahoga County) was asked by the media about his thoughts on gambling.  The Plain Dealer quotes him thus:

“I have no inherent opposition to gambling by any means.”

He’s so emphatic, by adding the words “by any means” to the phrase “no inherent opposition.”  Doesn’t it sound like code for “I have no inner convictions,” or “I haven’t developed any scruples,” or, at the very least, “I might have some inner convictions/scruples, but why don’t you offer me some campaign money, and together we’ll explore just where those scruples might or might not be.”

How convenient.  At the get-go, politician Armond Budish is pointing out the lack of a personal conviction.  Just what we need more of–politicians without principles.  Yet, even if he, himself, lacked a personal conviction when it came to the gambling issue, isn’t he elected to represent Ohioans?  Since he leads the majority caucus in the Ohio House of Representatives, shouldn’t he feel a need to represent the majority of Ohioans?  And didn’t a majority of Ohioans vote down casino gambling every single time it was ever put before them as a ballot issue?  Yet, Budish did not acknowledge the demonstrated views of the majority of Ohioans in giving his position on gambling.  Instead, it was as if he was elected to a House district wherein he only represents himself, saying on the public record that he, himself, has no inherent opposition to gambling.  He’s not representing anybody but himself.  And by representing only himself, he’s advertising to all the PAC’s, even beyond the issue of gambling, that he’s all ears if you’ve got money to contribute.  Ohioans?  Bah, humbug!  Who are they, unless they can contribute $omething?

Hence, Armond Budish, Ohio’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced to the world of lobbyists and donors, “I’M FOR SALE!!!!”

From the same Plain Dealer article, we see that Governor Strickland is advertising the fact that his spine is missing, as he’s caving in on pledges made to voters in 2006 that he opposes expansion of gambling.  He already introduced Keno to the Ohio Lottery.  Now he’s sounding the trumpet beckoning to all the casino tycoons.  If you want to read more on Strickland and gambling, check out Writes Like She Talks, with this article, this one, and also this one.

Before Strickland caved in on gambling, he was opposed.  Before he was opposed, he was wishy-washy, i.e. he was sending signals that he could be influenced, could be bought.  Again, Jill Miller Zimon posted at WLST about an interview that Strickland gave to an assembly of bloggers.  Back on March 27th, 2006, I had this to say about Strickland’s non-committal response:

” . . . As for Strickland and gambling, he has left the door open for pro-gambling PAC’s to donate to his campaign (I haven’t looked at any campaign finance reports yet to find out if this has indeed happened), and I certainly get the sense that he will let others do the dirty work to expand gambling here. He’s sending a signal that he can be ‘bought’ . . .”

Jill wanted me to elaborate on this point , so later, I added this:

” When a candidate makes a clear and definitive statement on an issue, then a candidate is clearly sending a message that they cannot be bought at an auction to the highest bidder. When a candidate makes a public statement on an issue that is totally ambiguous, that’s sending a message of ‘Go ahead and influence me! Make your checks out to . . .’”

And after Jill continued to press me on the point, I concluded with this:

“Someone who has known all sides of the issues for as long as Strickland has (How could he not? His whole career revolves around issues.) should have been able to draw some conclusions by now and found ways to effectively articulate for the positions he advocates. If he were merely a bystander, it would be easier to understand his indecisiveness. It almost makes me think that Strickland concedes that it’s a foregone conclusion that Ohioans support casinos. I doubt that Ohioans support casinos, since every ballot issue on the matter has gone down to defeat. The pro-gambling lobbyists have curried favor with our legislators, and that’s the arena where gambling really needs to be held in check.”

Was I clairvoyant, or what?  I’m telling you now, that I had Strickland pegged way back then.  So what I’m telling you about Budish . . . mark my words, he’s for sale.