Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Old Business

1) A commenter on yesterday's post counters that Larry Flowers (R-Canal Winchester), who has run up against term limits this year, is the more likely candidate to fill a potential vacancy in the third senate district. They're probably right, although it makes a lot more sense to move Flowers there if McGregor loses than if McGregor wins. On the other hand, if Flowers is going to be the candidate in the 3rd in 2010 regardless, that could speak to the lack of vigor in McGregor's current campaign.

2) I received an email yesterday that let me know I had missed the answer to one of my biggest questions about the Payday Lending deceptive signature collection allegations. From the Aug. 13 Toledo Blade:

Kim Norris, spokesman for the industry-financed repeal effort, said employees of two organizations hired to circulate the petitions provide extensive training. One company is paying circulators by the hour, the other by the signature. (emphasis added)
Paying circulators by the signature is an invitation to fraud. By choosing to bring in a pay-per-signature outfit to collect signatures, the lenders are about as guilty of deception, IMHO, as if they had trained the circulators to lie. Opponents of Payday Lending, by the way, have a new URL: www.yesonissue5.com reflecting the outcome of the ballot language negotiations last week. They also have a new video featuring testimonials from people who claim they were misled into signing petitions:

You'll notice that the video features Peder Johanson, a musician from Bexley.

2.5 / 3) The 'Yes on 5' folks have sent a a letter to the Franklin Co. Board of elections demanding an investigation into the root causes of the signature deception, something that I would certainly like to see happen. The FCBOE denies, however, that they have the power to do anything beyond forwarding a formal complaint to the courts. At this point I need to state that the BOE has been responding to my emails, with Elections Director Michael Stinziano assuring me via email that the BOE will look into additional clarification of the ID requirements on their webpage. In the meantime, the transcript of the Voting Allocation meeting of 8/14/08 is now available from a link on that page. I had originally emailed Ben Piscitelli about the transcript. Mr. Piscitelli is the media relations/public information officer for the BOE. It's kind of sad that the county BOE needs a media relations person, but I've got to say that whether he's dealing with a lefty blogger like myself or the folks at Huffington Post, or conservative wingnuts who display no understanding of the special circumstances preventing voter roll cleanup in 2004, or speaking at length in defense of absentee voting to an alternative weekly, or providing official comment to the print dailies, or just churning out Press Releases, he has helped make the Franklin County BOE one of the most transparent boards in Ohio, if not anywhere. I may complain about information that I can't get, but I'm well aware that I can get much more info more easily in Franklin Co. than I could in Cuyahoga or Hamilton, let alone some place like Warren Co.


Blogesque said...

Someone approached me on my way into a store this morning with a petition. He said that it was about payday lenders and getting an issue on the ballot, but he couldn't say more than that. I looked at the petition sheet and there was nothing at all on it about what it was for. In other words, there was no proposed petition language to sign onto...it was just a batch of papers with spaces to sign and give info. I didn't sign this random paper of course, but isn't there some kind of requirement that you know what you're signing onto?

bonobo said...

Um, yeah. I think I might front page this after I fix the stupid table formatting in the next post. For now, here's a portion of the relevant sections from the ORC:

ORC 3519.05

...The general provisions set forth in this section relative to the form and order of an initiative petition shall be, so far as practical, applicable to a referendum petition, the heading of which shall be as follows:


To be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection”

The title, which follows the heading, shall contain a brief legislative history of the law, section, or item of law to be referred. The text of the law so referred shall be followed by the certification of the secretary of state, in accordance with division (B)(2)(b) of section 3519.01 of the Revised Code, that it has been compared with the copy of the enrolled act, on file in the secretary of state’s office, containing such law, section, or item of law, and found to be correct.

ORC 3501.38
(E)(1) ...On the circulator’s statement for a declaration of candidacy or nominating petition for a person seeking to become a statewide candidate or for a statewide initiative or a statewide referendum petition, the circulator shall identify the circulator’s name, the address of the circulator’s permanent residence, and the name and address of the person employing the circulator to circulate the petition, if any.

(J) All declarations of candidacy, nominating petitions, or other petitions under this section shall be accompanied by the following statement in boldface capital letters: WHOEVER COMMITS ELECTION FALSIFICATION IS GUILTY OF A FELONY OF THE FIFTH DEGREE.

Anonymous said...

I was approaceh as well and found the issue on the front of the signature book I read it and I signed it.wasnt deceptive or misleading it was just like any other state petition i've signed before.I'll tell you one thing though somebody is working around the clock to try to discredit these guys thats the weird part.

Anonymous said...

i signed a petition. i actually read the document. Before you sign something it might be a good idea. i use the service and therefor need it to remain a viable option.

bonobo said...

Listen, there are a number of issues at play here:

1) Some folks like hb545 and would like to keep it intact. Others don't and would like the public to vote on whether to block a portion from taking effect. I'm pretty confident that the voters will vote for a complete and intact HB545, so the petition effort doesn't bother me, per se.

2) There have been a number of allegations that improper and illegal tactics have been employed to collect signatures. To the extent that this is true, it makes the petition effort itself something to oppose. To the extent it's false, making the allegations will potentially do much more harm than good.

3) Encountering some criminal petition gatherers does not mean that they are all engaging in that activity. Likewise, encountering some aboveboard circulators does not mean that there aren't serious problems elsewhere. I've tried to highlight that it matters who, how many, and why if you want to make a case against the lenders rather than against particular consultants or Ohio Election Law.

4) It certainly is a good idea to read what you're signing. On the other hand, I get pretty irritated at blaming victims of deception more than the perpetrators.

5) Blogesque's experience is just bizarre. I'd like to know if anyone else has shared that experience.

Anonymous said...

The payday lobby is honest about very little these days. They are excited about the endorsement of the Ohio Grocers Association, but have not shared why they have gotten the support: the President and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association is Tom Jackson, who just so conveniently happens to be the father in law of former Republican candidate and Check N Go lobbyist John Rabenold!

Must be tough getting an endorsement from a member of the family!

JohnDeer said...

As you've probably noticed, the payday lobby has been working overtime in our state to convince voters that 391% interest amounts to financial freedom. Between the millions of dollars in ads and the enumerable incidences of payday lending circulators lying and deceiving voters, November's Issue 5 will be confusing at best.
Here's a video with Ohio voters detailing their experiences with payday lending petitioners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDoeXujagE4.

This Sunday, the payday lobby submitted their signatures to the Secretary of State. I'd bet that a nice percentage of those signatures will be thrown out due to a large number of unregistered voters. There are thousands more signatures that were clearly collected under false pretenses - some people believing that their signature will help to "lower interest rates" on payday loans, which is completely contrary to the truth.

The Plain Dealer has a good editorial that may help clear up the issue for voters: http://www.cleveland.com/editorials/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1220171618297310.xml&coll=2%20

Spread the word! Vote Yes on Issue 5 for lower interest rates!

PensiveTara said...

Since when did we start integrating Church and State? Last I heard "Separation of Church and State" was required to lead normal lives both professionally and spiritually. However, a lot of payday critics feel its the States Moral Obligation to step in and eradicate a business that employes more than 6,000 Ohioans because of the APR that critics mis-calcuate frequently.

It is the Government's function to Regulate the State--not step in and make choices for the people or take away options. The option to Loan with a PayDay lender is just that--an option. Just like credit cards, bank loans, mortgage and auto loans are OPTIONS.

Ohio's HB545 caps an APR at 28%, but what many are mislead into believing is that payday loans ARE calculated at a One Year Term with an ANNUAL percentage rate. This isn't the case.

Pay Day loans charge $15 per $100. They are due typically in 2 weeks. Your APR is 15%.

To reach the false 391% APR being thrown down the throats of Ohio is reached--get this--ILLEGALLY.. Let me explain

In Order for a payday lender to reach the rate of 391% APR they would have to essentially break the law.

You would have to borrow $100 ONCE

And Pay the $15 Fee to borrow it 26 times (thats every 2 weeks for a year) ($390 dollars paid for that 100 borrowed= 390%APR)

What this is called, My Friends, Is a rollover loan. This is prohibited in Ohio Revised Code 1315.

To loan, and pay a fee to extend the loan over and over is not allowed.

So the true math is as follows:

$100 borrowed 26 times (every two weeks for a year) = $2,600

$15 paid to borrow the $100 26 times = $390


No matter how you slice and dice it--you are paying 15% of what you borrowed as a loan fee. Cheaper than an NSF fee for bouncing a $100 check, cheaper than your credit card cash advance fee. The best part about it is--ITS AN OPTION out there in case you need it.

This bill ERADICATES it. The cap in interest allows less than $2 profit from each loan. That is BEFORE overhead expenses. It costs more to print the loan contract than this rate allows lenders to charge--because again--it is done on a yearly rate which doesnt apply to Payday loans. They are 2 weeks in age. Eradicate this industry--and you will add 6,000 to the number of unemployed. Couple that with the 8,000 at DHL--14,000 jobs GONE. And Ohio was supposed to be a hub of business success and growth. Ha.

There have been A LOT of Blogs against Pay Day lending--all presumably from Mr. Bill Faith's corner of tag teamers on a mission to misrepresent the facts about payday lenders. A lot of money and time has been spent to smear the business. I don't misrepresent a thing. I tell the truth. So let's get to it...

Bill Faith, a representative from Ohio is sticking his nose where it doesnt belong. Therefore other noses went where he probably prefers they don't--HIS business...How does it feel Bill?

Bill Faith made accusations that PayDay Circulators offered homeless people money for their signatures to get a referendum to overturn HB545 in November's ballot.

The Payday industry did some research, and guess what? You got it--not ONE name was found on the petition that he alleged they signed. When asked to retract his lies--he refused.

What Bill Faith-less and COHHIO DO have is circulators passing out PLEDGES to "lower interest" rates. But there have been an AWFUL lot of people saying "someone posing as payday lender petitioners told me to sign the petition to lower interest rates"...HMMM sounds a lil fishy Mr. Faith--are you going to SO much trouble to have your people impersonate payday circulators to remove the egg from your face? Its a simple question...Are you?

Oh--and Mr. Faith in a recent interview, you claimed you didnt have to disclose the donation amount you received to help you and Non Profit COHHIO fight the R eferendum and keep Payday lenders out of business...What did you do with that FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLAR ANONYMOUS donation??? (Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area of North ) Wow--thats 15 times MORE than your normal donations for COHHIO--are you going to use ANY of it on the Homeless?

Here's some interesting information on Bill Faith and his "non" profit organization COHHIO (Coalition on Homeless and Housing In Ohio)

In 2006 COHHIO raked in 1.3 Million in donations to support the homeless. Of that amount 8% EIGHT PERCENT--went to Bill Faith's salary at $104,000--did you really need that much Bill? How about some change for the homeless....

Ahh-but it gets better,According to PRNEWSWIRE out of that 1.3 Cool Million COHHIO spent LESS THAN 1/3 of that on programs they were designed to help --($420,838) a whopping $529,568 was spent on SALARIES alone. According to Give.org a group that sets guidelines for charities they state a group should spend at least SIXTY FIVE PERCENT of its income on programs...COHHIO didnt even make it to half their standards, and they didnt meet mine either.

I have morals and values. I also have the freedom to make my own choices. Thats why I live in AMERICA. I say its none of your business what options I choose to use, stop governmental power abuse. Who I talk to, how I eat, dress, speak, live--its MY life, and I'll live it how I want. Get Out of my Business, Get Real.

VOTE NO on ISSUE 5--preserve jobs, preserve options, preserve CHOICE.

bonobo said...

I have no problem with folks duking this out in the comments. I also think that there are arguments to be made on the Vote No side. But most of these listed by Pensive Tara are absolute crap.

First of all, APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. ANNUAL. There is only one way to express APR, and it is the cost of borrowing money if one borrowed it for a year. It doesn't matter that you can't actually borrow money from a payday lender for a whole year at a time. A year is 26 times longer than two weeks, and 390 is 26 times more than 15. There is no other way to calculate APR.

Second of all, you'll be hard pressed to find many folks more concerned with the separation of church and state than myself. You're actually arguing for a separation of morality and state, functionally anarchy, with a religion dig in at Bill Faith and COHHIO.

You're either really ignorant or really dishonest, and in the end that's what's going to sink your cause.

Try this one:

"Yes, even though we would prefer no rate cap whatsoever, we have been able to run a successful business with a 391% APR on short term loans. Is that a high APR? Sure it is. So what? Are some people compounding a bad financial situation by borrowing money that they can't really afford to pay back? Especially given the high APR? Unfortunately yes. For most of those folks, though, we didn't start the debt spiral, we were merely the most recent creditor they've added. And finally, nothing's stopping any one of you from starting a financial service business that offers short term loans at 28% APR. Heck, if you can start a non-profit that makes short term loans at 130% APR you'll put us all out of business without ever getting the legislature involved.

That wasn't so hard. Maybe not as easy as whining about jobs (how many good-paying jobs could we create by legalizing heroin?) or how a 391% APR isn't accurate (when the entire reason for the stat called APR being in existence is to standardize credit costs across different payment terms). I would have thought you'd have learned a lesson from the casino proponents. Last time around,they claimed the casino proposal was really an education proposal. It was solidly defeated. You can tell by the polling this year that Ohioans aren't generally against casinos, they're just opposed to sleazy misleading campaigns.

As for me, I've been against the payday lending industry ever since I let my utilities get shut off for a few days rather than pay the outrageous terms available on a payday loan. It was immediately apparent that if I paid $45 dollars to get $300, I'd be borrowing money again in two weeks. It was also immediately obvious that this was the point of payday lending, to prey upon the desperate.

I'm not real happy about parts of the campaign against y'all (I'm not surprised that the story about the homeless shelter hasn't been substantiated. I wrote at the time that it didn't make any sense. I also think that some of these cases of "misleading" info are actually misunderstandings on the part of the signers), but all in all I don't think you'll want to get into a fight about who's running the cleaner campaign.

Anonymous said...

I find it pretty amusing that the payday lobby continually attacks COHHIO, a homeless advocacy organization that is dedicated to helping low income Ohioans. The payday lobby spent more on advertisements in 2 weeks ($2.1 million) than COHHIO's entire annual operating budget. Remember the farmer ad and the soccer mom ad? What's more, the CEO of Check into Cash, Alan Jones, has a net worth of more than $500 million made off the backs of poor people in Ohio and elsewhere. Who should you trust? Those with nothing to gain or those with billions to gain? I'm going to help out my fellow citizens who are caught in the debt trap by voting yes for lower interest rates.

Vote yes on issue 5!

PensiveTara said...

Bonobo--your post is right regarding APR--it is an ANNUALIZED rate, and it was made to standardize terms across the board. However, it is still misrepresenting a loan term SHORTER than one year--it inflates it--when PayDay loans arent given in yearly terms. Do the math on a loan. If a lender makes 15 bucks on a 100 loan, that is at 390% APR, what is the profit on a 28% APR cap? $1.08. Thats it--ONE DOLLAR and EIGHT cents. Can you print a contrac off for that? or pay a teller for their wages off that? Tell me that a bank would loan you for that profit (or lack thereof)? Especially when you dont have stellar credit--who WILL loan to a person in need? Step back and "appreciate" the duking out via comments--but also step back and do some math here--we will NOT be able to stay open with that rate.
Additionally, all slamming aside--the bottom line is this--regardless of whether the loans are agreed with or not--its an option that WILL be eliminated. I'm not okay with that. I appreciate Options, and freedom of choice, as an employee, as a consumer, as an american. No one tells me what choices I HAVE to make (thus the definition of CHOICE). Why start now?

Casey said...

For the love of Pete--- COOHIO is a sham! As a supposed "not for profit" organization they spent less than 33% of their annual budget on programs supporting their clients. (Normal is 65%) They pay Bill Faith over $100,000 a YEAR to run the organization. Why?? And they received a 15 MILLION donation and where's that money??? Hmmm, something smells fishy....

As for people being worth such and such or making a profit... UMM, that's what businesses do folks. Just like retailers, gas stations, fast food places, car dealers, etc). All companies are in business to make a profit!! EUREKA

VOTE NO--- MY $$, My Choice!!

JohnDeer said...

It's really pretty pathetic. A multi-billion dollar industry that makes hundreds of millions off the backs of hardworking Ohioans has the nerve to attack an organization that works tirelessly to help those less fortunate in our society. How much money do the CEO's of payday loan companies make? Well, Allan Jones of Check Into Cash has a net worth over $500 million.

The notion of there being a $15 million donation to COHHIO is absolutely preposterous! The payday lenders are just loan sharks and liars, two things I'd be ashamed of if I were them.

Vote yes on issue 5! We don't need 391% APR!

Casey said...

Some Facts foks---
"In truth, the typical payday advance customer represents the lion's share of America's middle class. A typical payday loan customer is a hard working, family raising adult who does not have savings or disposable income to use as a safety net when an unexpected expense occurs.

Here are the facts*:

The majority of payday advance customers earn between $25,000 and $50,000 annually;
Sixty-eight percent are under 45 years old; only 4 percent are over 65, compared to 20 percent of the population;
Ninety-four percent have a high school diploma or better, with 56 percent having some college or a degree;
Forty-two percent own their own homes;
The majority are married and 64 percent have children in the household; and,
One hundred percent have steady incomes and active checking accounts, both of which are required to receive a payday advance"

Casey said...

"On average, the nation's five publicly traded payday lending companies earn a 6.6 percent profit on their income. To help put this in perspective, IHOP Corp., otherwise known as the International House of Pancakes, earns a profit margin of 12.6 percent. Is IHOP gouging Americans' wallets with their Belgian waffles, omelets, and blueberry pancakes? The restaurant industry is commonly said to have "razor-thin profit margins," yet payday lending companies earn half of what this well-known chain brings in.

When compared to traditional banks, payday lenders' profits ARE measly. The average profit margin of the top 10 banking holding companies in the United States is 18.5 percent. Traditional banks earn far higher profit margins on late charges, bounced checks fees, ATM fees, over-draft protection, and credit card balances than what payday lenders earn on their regular fees. The bank profits come from charges most people don't think twice about paying nearly every day. But again, no one is accusing the traditional banks with overcharging Americans."

Anonymous said...

When a stranger walks into your front door and is interested in your lending service, you would quickly go out of business and no longer be able to provide that service if your interest rates were too low to account for the risk you're taking. Personally, I think pay day lending should be considered a public service. Going to Check Into Cash and getting some extra money is a good option when compared to getting hit with my bank's $30 overdraft fee or my sky-high Bank of America credit card interest rate. And it's certainly better than asking my parents for money. It's a tool that can be used wisely and help individuals have more control over their financial situation. Instead of letting a balance sit on my credit card and accrue interest, I'd rather pay a flat fee.

It's audacious and condescending to argue against payday lending under the ruse of "helping others who don't know any better." My thoughts on opponents of state lotteries fall into this same argument. You manage your money, and I will manage mine. Yes, those who are unwilling or unable to understand the lending process should not be using it, but destroying the industry for everyone else is unfair.

During college, I know a lot of people who used Check Into Cash and who would be disappointed if that service was no longer available.

Payday lenders have small profit margins. The reason they are wealthy is because many, many people use and want their service.