Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pardon Our Dust

I'm slogging through a redesign this weekend, and at any given time the page will be in a particular state of disarray. I apologize if it's difficult to read, but it should be better by Monday.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rebirth of the Act Blue Link

A blurb from CQ today caught my eye. It turns out that Act Blue, the online donation aggregator, has "Draft Candidate" Accounts. You can donate money to someone who is not running, in an effort to encourage them to run:

Money collected in the draft funds will be held until the prospective candidate forms a presidential campaign committee, at which point the funds will be transferred to the campaign. Should the candidate not enter the race by the time of the Democratic National Convention, funds will be sent to the DNC. ActBlue staffers indicated that they would honor all "serious requests" to set up draft funds for prospective candidates.

They also have an account for "the Presumptive Democratic Nominee," where funds will sit until a candidate has enough delegates to insure the nomination.

So what the heck. I've taken down all the candidates from last cycle, and added three accounts for your donating pleasure:

  1. Draft Gore. He's not the perfect candidate, but he'd have my support if he gets in.
  2. Bill Richardson. I'm still pretty neutral in regards to the announced candidates, but among the second tier candidates, the one I'd most like to see still on stage a year from now is Richardson. The 1st tier doesn't need my help raising funds during primary season.
  3. Presumptive Nominee. 1st tier, 2nd tier, whatever. Our candidate will need some cash for the general.

Your donation portal is the "ActBlue" link in the upper right hand corner, but you can use this shortcut if you like.

P.S. to any and all who followed the BlogPac/BSB discussion, I've decided to offer folk a way to "return the money"

Strickland Appoints Catholic Dem Activist to Head Office of Faith-Based Initiatives

Ted Strickland had hinted that he wanted to take the OFBI in a different direction, looking to help the poor more than working to strengthen traditional families. He seems to have done so by naming Eric McFadden to head the office. Mr. McFadden has experience with a number of groups that have worked to broaden the Catholic political perspective to include such issues as health care, jobs, the war, hunger, and poverty.

Some Googling Yields:

PBS's Religion and Ethics:

KIM LAWTON: From the basement of his home in the Columbus, Ohio, suburbs, Eric McFadden is waging a faith-based, grassroots campaign in support of John Kerry. McFadden launched the Web site in July after meeting the senator and, he says, connecting with Kerry as a Catholic.

Photo of ERIC MCFADDEN ERIC MCFADDEN (Member, Knights of Columbus and John Kerry Supporter): I'm trying to give a voice to Catholics so that they can stand up and say, "I am a Catholic Democrat, and I'm proud, and these are the principles that I believe in."

From a Toledo Blade Story on a voting guide produced by Catholics In Alliance For The Common Good called: 'Voting for the Common Good: A Practical Guide for Conscientious Catholics':

“Some candidates claim to be pro-life, but never do anything pro-life once elected,” Mr. McFadden said.

And while some politicians do not support bans on abortion, they may seek to reduce abortions by providing health insurance and child care for single mothers or low-income families, or by boosting the minimum wage so parents will be better able to support more children.

Mr. McFadden said the voters’ guide is designed to benefit people of all denominations and faiths, as well as people of no faith — as long as they are seeking to use their vote to improve society.

What is this group (of which Mr. McFadden is a co-founder)? From an earlier Blade article:

“Basically, we came together after conversations in December, 2004, in which people felt that the message of Catholic social teaching really wasn’t being represented in the public conversation or policy,” Mr. McFadden said in an interview this week.

A few days later, he clarified this statement with a comment in a Dispatch piece:

The late Pope John Paul II condemned the Iraq war repeatedly, McFadden pointed out, yet the political debate two years ago focused largely on outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage.

"During the election cycle in 2004, our Catholic values were whittled down to four or five issues that were nonnegotiable," McFadden said. "We want to bring other issues into the discussion."

It appears that this group evolved from a group called Catholics for Faithful Citizenship. Mr McFadden identifies himself as president of this group in a January 2005 presser weighing in on the DNC Chair selection process.

Did they accomplish anything? Well, the National Catholic Reporter called the Democrat's success in the competition for the Catholic vote in '06 "a real thumping,"
allowing Mr. McFadden to chime in thusly:

In Ohio, where Republican Gov. Bob Taft pleaded guilty to corruption charges and former Rep. Bob Ney faces prison for his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, corruption was a key contributor to Republican losses. “Catholics care more about right and wrong than right and left,” said Alexia Kelly, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. The group sponsored 10 voter forums in the Buckeye state and distributed more than 50,000 of its voter guides in Ohio parishes.

Traditional social issues like abortion did not play this year in Ohio, said Eric McFadden, the alliance’s Ohio field director. “I expected [Ohio Republican Sen. Mike] DeWine to roll out his credentials as a Catholic, and he certainly has good ones, but he never made it an issue,” said McFadden. DeWine lost to Democrat Sherrod Brown by more than 10 points, and lost the Catholic vote by 8 percentage points.

I'm a big separation of Church and State guy, so I've never been entirely comfortable with faith-based initiatives in general, but this looks like an excellent choice for the Office.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The State of Columbus in 25 Bullet Points

Snipping the meaty bits out of the full text of Mayor Coleman's speech tonight:

- we will create the 2012 Commission
- I am proposing that our 2012 plan be backed up by a vote of the people, ... in the form of a Bicentennial Bond Package
- authorize a multi-million dollar pool of money, solely dedicated to clean up blighted properties
- we should fund a new generation of family recreation centers
- with 58 miles of biking and walking trails today - we must expand up to 110 miles by 2012
- $50 million dollars in a new initiative of public investment called OPERATION SAFE-WALKS
- build sidewalks, and where necessary add curbs, gutters and in some cases even new roadways
- renovation on the Lincoln Theater will begin this summer
- We are devoting $25 million over the next five years to tackle 1,000 homes and properties, to abate, renovate or demolish
- we must never cease to fight against the perpetrators of poverty, the demons of decay and the captains of crime
- We will begin demolishing Woodland Meadows by this spring
- we will begin to license scrap metal yards, requiring every sellers personal identification and information on every sale
- we have organized the African American Male Empowerment Commission
- the City will step up again to crack down on truancy
- We will continue to hire more Police and Firefighters
- We must use the opening of Skybus as a catalyst for even more development around Port Columbus
- with the Mayors of Gahanna and Whitehall, we are joining forces to create The Port Columbus Growth Partnership
- We must continue to work across the city to bring back jobs and opportunities to neighborhoods
- we've got to keep Getting Green.
- we plan to host a statewide Young Professionals Summit in 2007
- by 2012, we will finish the Scioto Mile
- we must build on the momentum of housing creation downtown
- Our city must encourage the construction of a new full-service, 500 to 750 room, convention hotel downtown
- we need to deal with the biggest challenge on the block - City Center
- we have created a new team, the Columbus Franklin County Community Action Agency, to deal with issues of poverty in Columbus

Happy Freakin' Birthday Mr. Goodman

Now, I was a dj in college and I was playing Butthole Surfers records on the air back when they were still on Touch and Go, but... Who am I kidding? I have said plenty of negative things about David Goodman in the past, and I'm sure I will have occasion to again in the future, but anything I say tonight could justifiably be attributed to jealousy, plain and simple.

Tech, Bexley, Schools, Elections

It's been a while since I've done this, but my world is clumping itself along a chaotic attractor again...

I got a letter inviting me to a meeting for folks who volunteered for the Bexley Technology Commission. I'm very excited. Bexley has some pretty forward looking folks.

For an example, take Bexley School District's decision to dump Microsoft and switch over all of their IT to Linux. It makes sense for them technically, practically, and financially. How much?

Upgrading ME to Windows XP, a newer version of the popular operating system, would cost the district about $412,000, she said. That price would include purchasing new machines and upgrading software.

The technology budget for the district last year was $159,000, so the Linux licensing fee of 50 cents per user was a far cry from the six-figure cost for sticking with Microsoft.

412000 / 2100 students = $196/pupil to upgrade to XP. Any guesses on Vista? Excellent move, BSD.


I've learned a thing or two about per-pupil spending, so I can tell you that State Rep. Larry Wolpert (R-Hilliard) is misrepresenting the data he cites:

Comparing the highest-spending 26 districts in the state, which range from $11,000 to $17,000 per pupil, with the lowest-spending 25 districts in the state, ranging from $6,000 to $7,000 per pupil, Wolpert said it's the lower-spending districts that perform better.

"You ask the question, 'Which has the highest number of successful school districts?' It's the lower standard deviation (the lowest cost-districts compared to the highest-cost districts)," he said.

First of all, someone doesn't know what Standard Deviation means. And those ranges? He must be using old data. in FY'06, 42 school districts spent more than $11k/pupil, and only 16 spent less than $7k. But even putting those details aside, what about his larger point? Well, here are the 26 highest and 25 lowest spending districts in Ohio, grouped by performance designation:

(click to enlarge)

As you can see, the left hand column, which contains the highest spending districts, does include three 'academic watch' districts, compared to zero in the low-spending districts. That's not Wolpert's claim, however. He says that lower spending districts do better overall and have more high-performing districts. That's simply not true. Half of the high-spending districts achieved 'Excellent' ratings. Fewer than one-fourth of the low-spending districts attained that rating. More money is associated both with high-performance and low-performance. Low-Spending is associated with fair-to-middlin' performance. If Mr. Wolpert would like to have a sit-down to discuss data, I'd be happy to do so.


In the meantime, I'll re-iterate my competing claim that the best predictor of performance in my data was the amount of locally-generated funding, which probably does correlate with Mr. Wolpert's predictors. Here in Bexley, folks are extremely committed to funding the schools, supplementing the voluntary mills with an educational foundation that is the envy of other local districts. If you like to help inspire envy, the humongous annual fundraiser is coming up. See here for details on BRAVO!


If you glossed over the school stuff, you missed reading that Mr. Wolpert's colleague in the G.A., Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) got a much trendier committee chairmanship, Alternative Energy. I almost missed his somewhat bizarre assertion that switch-grass will improve highway safety because I was thinking about what woulda-coulda-and-perhaps shoulda happened to Mr. McGregor. He won an extremely close race against Bev Campbell, with a margin that shrank quite a bit after the recount. Ms. Campbell had considered challenging the election results, but ultimately decided against doing so. Carole Squire, who was officially defeated by a much larger margin, did decide to go forward and seek to have that result set aside. At least one expert testifying on her behalf during the hearings examining the election has stated:

"There were so many egregious disparities in the (conduct of the election), it is beyond any experience I ever had."

It'll be interesting to see how this develops.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You know what's cool?

Having John Glenn and Ted Strickland hanging out outside of your office. You know what's not-so-cool? When your best attempt at taking an unobtrusive cell phone photo of the occasion is a pic of somewhere between 7-9 legs, of which 3-4 belong to the aforementioned gentlemen.


school funding 420

From the Bay of Pigs to Columbine, the date conjures up disaster.
The number itself conjures up pipe dreams.

On April 20, the Ohio Education Association will hold an election with 1300 delegates in Columbus voting to approve a one-time $25 dollar increase in dues that would raise $2.5m for the GIRFOF ballot drive, representing 25-35% of the projected budget for the campaign.

Beyond any superstitions or symbolism of the vote's timing, the article leaves me a bit confused:

If there are 130,000 OEA members,
and they each contribute $25,
and 25 X 130000 = 3,250,000

isn't there $750,000 I'm missing?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Meta Posturing

Folks who were in opposition to this weeks "anti-surge" resolutions almost invariably stated that they were opposed to debating a resolution that would not and could not actually do anything. For instance, the Dispatch published an editorial titled "Empty Gesture," which was referenced by Pat Tiberi in his remarks regarding the resolution. There's a point to be made on these grounds, but not until we establish that the Republicans are no more serious about this than the Democrats they disparage. Ask Mr. Boehner if he would oppose a resolution 'supporting the troops' on the grounds that it would be "a political charade, lacking both the seriousness and gravity of the issue it is meant to address." Picture in your mind Pat Tiberi standing up and saying "For all the chest-pounding from my Republican colleagues about supporting the troops, this resolution does nothing."

These guys are too gutless to vocalize support for the escalation, and patently insincere in their justifications for opposing the resolution.

Now that that's out of the way, perhaps we can discuss the point. The New York Times, in their editorial supporting the resolution, stated:

...we welcome the House of Representatives’ long-overdue attempt to shake some sense into Mr. Bush with a resolution opposing his decision to send another 20,000 combat troops to fight this disastrous war without any plan to end it. Yet yesterday’s vote, in which 17 Republicans joined the Democrats to produce a margin of 246 to 182, was the easy part. It takes no great courage or creativity for a politician to express continuing support for the troops and opposition to a vastly unpopular and unpromising military escalation.

So what we see are opinion makers stating that they support the resolution, even though it is an ineffectual and ultimately meaningless gesture, or conversely stating that they strongly oppose the measure, even though it is an ineffectual and ultimately meaningless gesture. We see Dennis Kucinich lining up with conservatives who are itching for a fight over funding the war.

Now, a number of folks, like Mike Turner (R-Centerville), are calling out the Democrats for not offering up their own alternatives. Let's be absolutely clear here - war planning is the responsibility of the executive branch. Congress gets a role in making declarations, in oversight and advice, and of course, in funding. The new Congress is not a rubber stamp (we're looking at you, Pat), but they still have the function of dealing with what comes across their desks.

So, rather than asking Mr. Turner why he is willing to state that "serious mistakes have been made in the execution of the Iraqi conflict," but he thinks that it is the responsibility of other congressfolk to come up with solutions for him to debate while he complains, I'm going to point out two alternatives that are floating out there:

1) The Murtha proposal, as outlined in the NYT editorial:

Mr. Murtha would link this year’s war financing to the Pentagon’s adoption of new deployment rules, including longer stretches from the battlefield for returning troops, more specialized training and better defensive equipment. That would let representatives cast a politically safe vote for financing the war, while forcing the Pentagon to gradually reduce the number of active duty troops available to serve in Iraq.

2) Believe it or not, Pat Tiberi dropped a hint in his floor speech that he wants to debate the findings of the Iraq Study Group. Mr. Tiberi could lead a movement to have Congress make support contingent on the President adopting the recommendations of the ISG as a complete package.

I don't see it happening. I expect to see more of the griping that I've described in previous posts and that Johnathan Riskind is now noting as well. The Republicans were never an attractive bunch, but they're particularly distasteful to listen to now that they're in the minority. Many of them can't bring themselves to oppose the actual acts of the majority, they oppose the fact that they no longer are the acting majority. Right now, they're complaining about political posturing by the Dems. As I said, I disagree, but there's a debate to be had over that point. The complaints of people like my Representative, however, are simply political posturing over the politically expedient issue of political posturing, which makes it seem as if they really just want to wrap themselves up in a blanket of irrelevance.