Friday, December 01, 2006

Pre-Weekend Updates

  • Tiberi LTE - I referenced a blogger named RUSSKC at An Ohioan's Blog as one source for the text of Tiberi's drivel. That post on AOB also included the text of a letter Russ sent to SNP in response. I'm happy to report that it was published in this week's issue. Nicely done, RUSSKC.

  • The Franklin County BOE eventually released the official abstract. I'd like to use it to highlight places where Bev Campbell could potentially pick up votes in her recount, but I've got a few questions that need answering first.

  • The Columbus Streetcar project got a big boost this week. As I said in a discussion that took place in the comments section, I like the idea of the streetcar, but only as a piece of a broader mass transit/rail plan. I hope MORPC knows what they're doing, because the closest thing to the vision I was looking for is in their 2030 t-plan (which has already needs some serious revising), and because they're rejecting funding for a project that is very similar to the popular 670 cap connecting Downtown to the Short North.

  • Speaking of discussions in comments sections, I once told a reader that the Kreider - Goodman election wasn't a clear liberal-conservative contest, because Goodman had LGBT endorsements, and Kreider had gun-group endorsements, and I guessed that the reader and I would both be happier if those were reversed. Well, I've got my cold comfort. Goodman is on the right side of the bad concealed carry law that Taft is expected to veto (which makes me slightly less irritated that the ABJ still lists his residence as Bexley). H/T to Jill at WLST.

Vote Additions in Franklin, A Question for the Experts

Checking the now-available official numbers of votes by precinct in Franklin County against the unofficial totals released the day after the election, and the number of outstanding provisionals that were listed during the interim, one finds that adding all of the provisionals to the unofficial count still falls short of the official vote count in 30 precincts (click to view data). This means that votes materialized from sources unknown in the interim (BTW, absentees are listed as absentees, not by precinct).

There were supposedly 30 voting machines that had unreported votes on election night due to "improper shutdown." This number does not seem like a coincidence, and it would make sense that those unaccounted votes could explain these totals. The problem arises from the fact that several of these precincts are only showing one extra vote, which means in these 6 cases, the number of uncounted votes on election night was exactly one greater than the number of rejected provisionals. So far, no problem, but, if the election night uncounted votes were to exactly equal the number of rejected provisionals, there would be no 'extra' votes in this analysis, it would just look like all the provisionals had been accepted. I find it hard to believe that the shutdown error and the rejected provisional count were off by one vote in one direction in six precincts, but never matched or differed by one in the other direction in any of the precincts.

If all of the above is true and makes sense, then there were more than 30 machines with problems on election night, and I would kind of like to know how many. But my first question is, Can you tell me which of my assumptions is wrong or doesn't make sense?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"A menace, a war zone and the worst blight (Mayor Coleman) has seen anywhere"

The complex is called Woodland Meadows. It is almost mandatory to mention that during one of it's earlier incarnations the Columbus Police nicknamed it 'Uzi Alley.'

I've intended to make a series of posts on Woodland Meadows my first big post-election blogging project. I still might, but recent events have caused the Dispatch to start covering the story again.

The basic outline is this: Woodland Meadows is the most recent name of an apartment complex that was primarily providing subsidized low-income housing. It has never been a chic address, and it has changed hands numerous times. The most recent owner is Jorge Newbery, who paid more than double what local real estate pros thought it was worth.

After the ice storm in 2004, many apartments were damaged directly, and others became unlivable due to secondary problems caused by situations as prolonged loss of heat and burst pipes. These problems were publicized, they were not fixed, and the apartments were de-certified for housing subsidies. The complex could not operate without subsidy revenues, and very quickly was shut down.

For me, I was aware of that part of the story, but never having seen the complex in person, I didn't get it. To me, 'apartment complex' means 5, 10, 20, maybe 30 buildings. Woodland Meadows has 122 buildings. They all look pretty similar about now, and this photo from the Dispatch should give you an idea:

But when you see pictures like this, you don't understand the scope, why Michael Coleman uses the language I've quoted in the title, calls it Public Enemy #1. It covers approximately 256 50-70 acres. That's about the size of Summit County's Firestone Metropark. You really need video, and I'll try and get some soon, but for now...

Compare the size of Woodland Meadows (in the upper right, shaded red) to the Campus of Capital University (lower left, shaded blue).

Or try to take the Dispatch Picture, which shows you three buildings, and multiply it by 40:

So that's your introduction to Woodland Meadows. It is a bad situation for Columbus. It is bad for Bexley. It is bad for the people who need subsidized housing. It is bad for the property owners in the area. More to come.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Purchased Media Earning Free Media, a GoogleAds blurb

I added GoogleAds to the site as part of the ongoing post-election makeover. I was ambivalent about adding ads to the site, for a number of reasons, one of which is that I have no direct control over what does and doesn't get posted on my site, but I was curious as to how it worked.

What I didn't realize is that, because I write about what's on my mind, and Google places ads based on what I write, Google is actually doing their darnedest to target me, personally, as a consumer. This morning, they actually got it right. An alternative arts network called Available Light Theatre has an ad on the site as of this posting. I clicked on it because it looked interesting, and it was. I had no idea they were in Columbus, so it's a good thing they started advertising. On the other hand, they read and link to national progressive blogs, but few or no local or Ohio blogs. Maybe if they get some traffic they'll start.

If you click on the ad to get to their site, I may or may not make a couple of cents (You need to cross a ten dollar total revenue threshhold before they disburse your earnings, which I may do by March...), that'd be kind of neat, but if the ad is gone, or you are opposed for any other reason, they're worth checking out, and the direct link is here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tiberi Grows Comfortable in Pathetic Jerk Role

After an ugly end to the campaign, in which he accused his opponent of encouraging experimentation on live fetuses, I expected Pat Tiberi to take a long shower and lay low for a couple of months. But no.

I leave town to eat some turkey, and look what I miss... Pat Tiberi has written an LTE to the Bexley News. Well, actually to Suburban News Publications in general. They don't have the letter (from their 11/22 issue) on their website, but 'An Ohioan's Blog' has a transcription, as does Newark, OH country station WCLT:

It certainly didn’t take long. Before they’ve even been assigned offices or picked up their fresh, shiny IDs, members of the new Democrat majorities in the House and Senate were told by a top former Clinton administration official that the first thing they should do is raise taxes.

Umm, WTF do you mean, Pat, there they go being told...? If I were to write: It certainly didn't take long. Less than a month after the election, Pat Tiberi is already being told by local bloggers that the very next thing he should do is to go make sweet love to a box turtle, what does that imply about Mr. Tiberi's actual romantic endeavors?

How about going after folks for things they actually do. Try this one on: It certainly didn't take long. Less than 10 days after the Wall Street Journal printed an editorial beginning:

That was fast. A mere two days after Democrats capture Congress claiming they wouldn't raise taxes, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin tells them they should do so anyway.

"You cannot solve the nation's fiscal problems without increased revenues," declared Mr. Rubin, the Democratic Party's leading economic spokesman, in a speech last Thursday.

Pa(rro)t may have to be renamed P(lagi)a(ris)t.

“You cannot solve the nation’s fiscal problems without increased revenues,” former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin advised during a Washington speech less than 48 hours after the mid-term elections. He wasn’t just talking about letting today’s low tax rates expire in a few years as required by law, either. He suggested that taxes be increased right now.

Yes, of course, it was suggested with that suggestive wink, that knowing nod, the impish half-grin... If you've got a quote, Pat, put up or shut up. Not only do you not have a pithy quote, but a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, no liberal group, looks at that same part of Mr. Rubin's speech and declares:

The press takes all this to mean that Rubin backs tax-rate increases, an assumption that makes sense given his repeated criticism of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts. Rubin also argues that tax-rate changes don’t affect economic behavior. He said recently that corporate executives work just as hard when tax rates are higher. The average taxpayer’s attitude must therefore be the same.

Still, watch what he does, not what he says. Then you begin to see that this man, who knows more about how the economy works than almost anyone, is ambivalent about raising taxes. He knows that tax increases can hurt the economy, and that voters understand that. He also knows that tax cuts can widen revenue.

Pat continues:

Forgive me, Mr. Rubin, but the American people are already providing their government with a huge increase in taxes. The government says revenues in the fiscal year that ended on September 30 were up 12% from the previous year, a trend that continued through October. In fact, the Treasury Department took in some $85.8 billion, the largest amount ever collected in a single day, on September 15.

This is that increased revenue Mr. Rubin mentioned. And it has nothing to do with keeping or repealing the tax cuts on individuals. Mr. Tiberi, try to understand, I am a person. Despite the legal definition, ExxonMobil is not. ExxonMobil is paying more in gross taxes based on obscene profits, according to the report that generated your figure:

Corporate Tax Receipts Reach Record High. "Record high U.S. corporate tax receipts in the third quarter signal stronger-than-expected corporate profits for the period and the likelihood of a smaller budget deficit than forecast for 2006 and possibly 2007, analysts said on Monday. Corporate tax receipts reached $71.8 billion in the third quarter, making Friday's gross receipts of $85.8 billion the largest in a single day in history, the Treasury Department said on Monday." (Mark Felsenthal, "Big Tax Haul Signals Strong Profits," Reuters, 9/18/06)

What about actual people, Pat?

Here’s an alternative: Instead or telling Americans they need to pay more, how about just collecting what’s already owed? Earlier this year, we were told that as much as $345 billion--that's right, billion--in taxes went uncollected in 2001. The magnitude of that number cannot be overstated. If unpaid taxes totaled a similar amount last year, it would have been more than enough to wipe out the $248 billion federal deficit reported for fiscal 2006—with plenty to spare.

First, Pat, just because those taxes weren't collected in 2001 doesn't mean they weren't collected. We already go after it:

Late payments and other IRS enforcement and compliance efforts, including taxpayer audits and collection activities (payment arrangements, liens, levies and other legal actions) recover some of the Tax Gap. For Tax Year 2001, the IRS expects eventually to collect an additional $55 billion of the tax gap, reducing the net amount of the tax gap to between $257 billion and $298 billion.

So what about that $250-$300 Billion not collected... who has it?

Among the areas where taxpayer compliance appears to have worsened are:

Reporting of net income from flow-through entities, such as partnerships and S corporations.
Reporting of proprietor income and expenses, such as gross receipts, bad debts and vehicle expenses
Reporting of various types of deductions

So here's Pat's alternative - Fix the economy by auditing every single small business owner, and a hefty sample of those who itemize deductions.

The former Treasury Secretary was right about one thing. There are serious, long term structural problems that must be addressed, most notably with Social Security and Medicare. But it’s wrong to suggest that the only answer is to increase taxes now. First, any immediate tax hike wouldn’t be used to help Social Security or Medicare because those programs are now running surpluses and will for years to come. Does anybody seriously believe Democrats would increase taxes now, then set the money aside? They’d simply spend it, and worry about entitlement programs later.

There are problems. Nobody suggested the only answer was to increase taxes. Nobody. Let me repeat - Nobody. I've been trying (prior to this post) to be more diplomatic in the days post-election, but quite simply, P(lagi)a(ris)t is a pathetic, dishonest, partisan hack. Need more proof? He asks if anyone seriously believes Democrats... We've had an astronomical increase in the budget deficit, due not just to the revenue decreases from the irresponsible tax cuts, but to dramatically increased spending. Republicans don't spend cash, they run up the credit cards and blame Democrats for paying the bills. What did Al Gore want to do with the surplus? Put it in a lock-box (set money aside) to protect entitlement programs. So yes, I do believe that Democrats are more likely to be responsible with my money.

Further, Rubin proposed tax hikes as a rushed first response, not a last resort. There are numerous options for reform in Social Security, Medicare and all other government programs that should be considered before higher taxes are even brought to the table for discussion.

No, Rubin didn't. He didn't propose tax hikes at all. That's a bald-faced lie. Patrick J. Tiberi is lying. Not telling the truth. Fabricating. Making stuff up. Bearing False Witness.

The timing of Rubin’s let’s-raise-taxes statement was curious for another reason. He waited until after the election. He must have known that a number of Democrat candidates told voters they were against tax increases. His statement to the contrary, if offered during the campaign, would have put them in an extremely uncomfortable position. Now, of course, voters could be forgiven for wondering if they’ll be hearing the same old song from Democrats, saying one thing before election day, then doing the opposite once they get to Washington.

No, Pat, he waited until after the election to provide consultation to the Dems because the minority party is pretty impotent when it comes to setting budget policy. I'm sure you'll get used to it.

We’ll find out after they officially take over as the majority party in Congress on January third.

Yes we will, Pat. I only regret that people didn't get more of a taste of the real Rep. Tiberi a month ago, and that you'll still have a front row seat when it happens.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Campbell to Seek Recount in OH House 20th District

From Ms. Campbell:

yes we will be seeking a recount

The certified results indicate a total of 43356 votes were counted. The margin is down to 364 votes. With just .17% more of the margin, we would qualify for an automatic recount, so yes, we will be requesting one as well as seeking to see all the provisionals and absentees that were rejected and not counted. By our calculations we received nearly 70% of the provisionals which were counted.
So you can see why we are not even close to conceding at this point. When all the legitimate votes are counted - and counted fairly - then the results are final.

Updates as I get them.

Hey Matt, Justify My Love

If you've descended this deep into the blogosphere, you no doubt already know that Matthew Damschroder, Franklin County BOE Director, has announced the official vote counts for Franklin County, which have resulted in the erasing of approximately two-thirds of the margin in both the nationally watched Kilroy-Pryce race, and the locally watched OH House 20 race between Bev Campbell and Jim McGregor.

These are pretty big changes, so show me the data. I've talked about the improvements in cleanliness and transparency, and I realize that these two things are negatively correlated with speed, but please... If you're announcing the numbers to the media, you can post the numbers to the web.