Monday, November 02, 2009

Election Day Tomorrow. Blue Bexley Supports...

My policy here at BB is to confine myself to the candidates and issues appearing on the ballot in Bexley. You can view the Bexley ballot here, courtesy of the Franklin County Board of Elections. If you're in Franklin, and you'd like a sneak peek at your own ballot, search for yourself at this link, and then click on "sample ballot."

And so, on to the endorsements:

Franklin County Municipal Court: Mark A. Hummer. There are 7 uncontested races for FCMC Judge slots. I can accept arguments for and against voting in uncontested races. Do as you will for those 7. But in the one contested race, Hummer is the more qualified, has more non/bi-partisan support, is not the choice of the Republican Party, and is not seemingly attempting to pretend to be part of a famous Democratic family in order to weasel his way onto the bench. I'll be voting for him.

City of Bexley Auditor: Gary W. Qualmann. You'll have to write his name in, as there are no names on the ballot. For those of you who do not understand how write-in votes work (and I was well into adulthood before I was clued in), you can't just write anybody's name in and have it count as a vote. Candidates have to register as "write-in" candidates, and only write-in votes for those registered write-in candidates count (I know how silly it seems, but it kinda has to be that way...). So, your choices here are as follows: A) Leave it blank. B) Write in some random name, like your own. This is essentially the same thing as option A. C) Write in the name "Larry Heiser." Mr. Heiser, the incumbent, would have been running unopposed except for two things: His petitions did not conform to recently changed procedures, and having attempted to make the ballot left him ineligible to register as a write-in (This not only seems silly, I can't think of a good reason for it). Essentially, this yields the same result as options A or B, but seems like a more principled way of throwing away your vote. D) Write in "William G. Harvey." Mr. Harvey is currently Services Director for the city, and he really doesn't want to be auditor. He filed the paperwork to be a write-in candidate because he thought that not actually having an auditor in Bexley would be worse than being auditor. His name is still capable, however, of accruing votes. This would be a somewhat perverse vote, but for those who support the elimination of the auditor's position in favor of an external committee, this may be the best option. E) Write in "Gary W. Qualmann." Mr. Qualmann is a former city auditor here, and furthermore, actually wants the job. Good enough for me.

Bexley City Council (vote for up to 3 of 4): Jones, Lampke, and... Sharp. This race essentially asks you to vote against one candidate. I've met both Lampke and Jones due to their mayoral candidacies, and have, on balance, positive impressions of them both. I've been hemming and hawing on the Sharp/Weber choice for weeks now, but while I was half-dressed in my Scarecrow costume for Beggar's Night, Richard Sharp came to my door. I asked him "so... which of the incumbents should I vote against?" He considered the question, and I could tell he considered whether or not to actually answer it, and then proceeded to say that he'd encountered some voters who would be voting against Matt Lampke because... and some voters who would be voting against Rick Weber because... Not that he endorsed these positions, just that I had asked and such hearsay was the best he could do (half-wink). Then I told him about the blog, and he appeared a bit uncomfortable, but admitted he wasn't familiar with BB (don't worry, Richard, you're in excellent company), and recovered quickly without trying to push forward or pull back from our encounter. I admired that. So that's my slate.

Bexley Board of Education - Vote for up to 3 including Write-iN: DIANE T. PETERSON (write-in), Fey, and Snowdon. This is another election in which candidates were kicked off the ballot and prevented from becoming write-in candidates (notably, Michele Kusma, who came within a whisker of winning a seat two years ago) due to technicalities. I have positive impressions of Peterson (an incumbent) and Fey. I know less about Snowdon, but considering that she's running unopposed, we'll all have an opportunity to learn more.

State Issue 1 - Bonds for Veteran Compensation: Probably No. I'll be honest - I don't like borrowing an extra $200 million in a recession. I don't like putting a one-time funding request into the state constitution. Can you imagine a federal constitution that started something like "we the people, in order to form a more perfect union, do hereby authorize the state to issue up to two million...?" So I've got principled reasons to oppose this. But I feel a bit of unease, because I know that I personally believe that there are more compelling uses of $200 million dollars in this time of budgetary evisceration, and I wonder if my principles would be as strong if that weren't true. In 2006 or 2012 I might say yes. Tomorrow, however, is a no.

State Issue 2 - Livestock Care Standards Board: NO. NO. NO. NO!!! One of two things is true: Agribusiness wants this amendment passed because the democratically elected State House and Senate will otherwise pass overly-restrictive animal-rights protections with a veto-proof majority in opposition to the wishes of a majority of Ohio residents and to the detriment of Ohio Agriculture, OR Agribusiness wants this amendment passed because some agricultural practices are so noxious to the non-farming public (and even several farmers) that the only way to maintain them is to take away the power of the legislature and the electorate to regulate them in any way. You might guess, I find the latter more plausible.

State Issue 3 - Casinos: No. Simply put, every election year some gaming company or consortium attempts to spend millions upon millions of dollars in order to get their business plan written into the state constitution. If this issue passes, I may seriously look into a campaign to restrict "direct democracy" ballot access for Constitutional amendments. If you would like to see casinos in Ohio, and FWIW I wouldn't be opposed to casinos on principle, you should hold out for a deal that allows for maximum revenue accruing to the public and allows for local control over the casino placement process. In other words, vote No on Issue 3, and work to support HJR4, a vastly better casino plan that has been introduced in the Ohio House.

Franklin County Issue #4 - Franklin County Childrens' Services Levy: Yes. Remember how I said in regard to issue 1 that I have different priorities for limited resources? Making sure there is money to help abused and neglected children is one of them.

Bexley Issue #45 - Library Levy: Yes. There are a handful of institutions that give Bexley a true hometown feel, rather than the more urban or suburban profile one might expect. Near the top of any such list would be the Bexley Public Library. I can, and will, vote for this on purely selfish grounds: Friday is Taco and Movie Night at our house, and the movie almost always comes from the library. My daughter gets two stories before bed every night, and at least one is typically from a library book. I have read 15-20 books this calendar year - all but one were checked out from the Bexley Public Library. So it's easy to ask y'all to subsidize my family's education, enrichment, and entertainment. Is what's good for my family good for Bexley? In general, I'd hope the answer is yes, and in this specific case I hope I can get you to agree.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dispatch Slams Tiberi in Editorial, but Somehow Confuses Him with Obama !?!?

Yesterday, Blue Bexley's favorite Washington correspondent Jonathan Riskind posted the following on the Columbus Dipatch's political blog The Daily Briefing:

Rep. Pat Tiberi says the furor over no Social Security benefit increases should lead people to consider a proposal he and two other Republicans made earlier this month.

The Genoa Township Republican, a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, co-authored a bill proposing that unobligated stimulus dollars be used to provide Social Security recipients and veterans with a $250 check in 2010.


President Obama and some Democrats have endorsed a second $250 payment, but reportedly are focusing on a proposal by Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Or., that would fund the payments with a new Social Security payroll tax on people with incomes between $250,000 and $395,000.


Tiberi's office acknowledges that it is waiting for his proposal to be "scored" by the Congressional Budget Office to show whether there would be enough unused stimulus money left next year to fund the $250 payments next year.

Unless that can be shown, Tiberi's proposal likely wouldn't be considered deficit-neutral and thus wouldn't have much chance of going any further.

Today's editorial in the Dispatch:

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass a bill granting Social Security recipients bonus checks for $250. This giveaway proposal, estimated to cost $13 billion to $14 billion in money that the federal government doesn't have, perfectly illustrates why government policy and fiscal common sense are so rarely seen together in public.


And so, even though seniors do not have to deal with a higher cost of living, their voting power and sense of entitlement override common sense and lead politicians to propose spending money the nation doesn't have for a benefit that shouldn't be paid because it isn't needed.

The editorial does not mention Pat Tiberi.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bexley City Schools

A couple of years ago, Bexley City Schools were accused by some parents of racial bias in the enforcement of residency requirements. This year, they're going after a wealthy white family.

The district has spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and a private investigator in an attempt to make their (pretty solid, but not airtight) case. They are now facing a lawsuit from the family, and have filed a countersuit for the cost of one the children's education over the past two years. If they win that, I wonder if the father can demand a refund of any Bexley City and Bexley City School District income taxes paid? And if not, if the City of Columbus could.

In the meantime, the contract talks (or lack thereof) between the school board and the Bexley Education Association are increasingly happening in the public domain, with Board meetings attracting hundreds of stakeholders and consequent media attention.

It would seem that the issues of the contract, legal pursuits, budget changes due to Strickland's education reform package, and the role of each of these in determining the scope and timing of the next levy request could provide fodder for some great debates as three slots on the board are up for grabs in this election. Unfortunately, due to problems filing petitions, only two names will appear on the ballot for those two slots, and only one name - incumbent Diane T. Peterson's - will be accepted as a write-in.

We will have to look elsewhere for entertainment.

Blissful Ignoramus of the Day

Michael Keenan, Dublin City Councilman.

Mr. Keenan wrote a letter to the Dispatch, in which he states

"I know (Rep. Pat) Tiberi and he is deeply concerned about the welfare of his family, his country and all of his constituents."

He offers this up in contrast to something he doesn't know:

"I don't know what is or who is a part of the organization, and probably I never will. These organizations prefer to stay out of the light of day and exist solely to tear down the good name of many who strive to simply have an honest debate about the issues important to each and every one of us."

Mr. Keenan does not know what is, despite more than a million unique Google hits, including 1,660 hits on "," and if we include the umbrella group, there are more than 1.5 million mentions on the web, 2800 of them in Keenan's hometown newspaper. The organization claims more than 5,000,000 members, 4.2 million active, approximately the number of people who live in Colorado and Kentucky, respectively (to be fair, Colorado and Kentucky have been around longer, so perhaps Keenan has heard of one or both.) Although the millions upon millions of members prefer to stay out of the light of day, I've managed to infiltrate the organization and smuggle out a slideshow and current agenda, both of which include rare photos of actual members.

Imagine Mr. Keenan's shock when he finds out there are actually two major political parties...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bexley's Irvine to run as Libertarian in OH-12

Ex-mayoral candidate, congressional intern, film director, and comedian Travis Irvine has announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Libertarian. He will presumably be taking on incumbent Pat Tiberi and Democratic challenger Paula Brooks.

Make no mistake, if Travis is still an active candidate at this time next year, he'll get some votes. He can come across as a bit of a goofball, but he's whip-smart and got a good feel for populist appeal. In 2008, Steven Linnabary rode a horrible (I called it "amusingly befuddled" at the time) debate performance and the Libertarian endorsement to 2.97% of the vote in OH-12. I'd start the over/under on Irvine at 4.58%, the vote share he took in the 8-way Bexley Mayoral race.

If this race is as close as the DCCC seems to think it can be, %5 will be a pretty big deal.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Local Health Care Debate Question

When Paul Leithart uses a Dispatch LTE to attack an article on preventable deaths from medical errors, because it contains references to a 1999 report from the Institutes of Medicine that he doesn't agree with, despite the fact that the estimates in the article are based on 10 years of subsequent monitoring and research, concluding "Let's not use more lies to bring about socialized medicine," is it more important to note that he is is:

A) A retired doctor, or
B) On the National Council of the John Birch Society, approaching his 50 year anniversary with the organization?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Recess Equals Playtime

So, in the ongoing saga of Pat Tiberi's love/hate relationship with pork, he's holding his annual hog roast this Saturday, an event at which the newly formed Central Ohio Republican Women will be a Hog Sponsor. I found out about it from Sara Marie Brenner's blog. Sara's a hoot. I'd like to link to her picture, so you could see how she looks like a wannabe Alaskan governor. Then I'd link to her blog post where she compares her personal experience with baselesss persecution to that self-same Ms. Palin's. But I won't, because she includes in the basic description of her blog a prohibition against doing things like linking to any of her posts or quoting her, etc.. A prohibition which, for obvious reasons, I can only summarize. I could, instead link to her husband's campaign site, which she designed, as the profile (that I'm guessing she wrote) of him gratuitously includes her resume (including her involvement in a non-existent state senate campaign??), but I won't.

The CORW appears to have been her idea, so it's only fitting that she's the president. "Singer, Educator, Avon Rep" Cheli Turner is the VP. Renee Seeley, who unfortunately is probably not the PUMA Renee Seeley who stated that : "Obama is just another Bush. Stealing votes is the Bush Way. To win caucuses by bussing in college students and his church friends is cheating the Bush Way," is Secretary. Evangelical Reverend/NRA shooting instructor Sue Antolik is Treasurer. (Gina Baker is Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, with a less amusing Google trail, although the sec/treas combination title is one she has no doubt grown used to while holding it in her husband's company.)

Their marketers at Constant Contact would have you believe that the group looks like this, rather than other generic womens groups like this, or this (to be fair, 2 of their 140 Facebook fans are in fact African American females, compared to only 29 who are white males).

While I can only dream of seeing Tim Russo interviewing the CORW table at the Tiberi Hog Roast, a more realistic hope is audio from the Tiberi Tele-Town Hall on Tuesday:

"Constituents who want to be on the call should call Tiberi's district office by 5 p.m. Monday, at 614-523-2555, according to his office."

I'll be out of even cell-phone contact at the time, but if any other constituents would care to ensure that Pat gets a more representative view of his district's feelings regarding health-care reform, please do so and keep me informed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lurching into the present...

1) This is bound to get ugly someday: If you've ever worried about the source code for touch screen voting systems, and the things that could go accidentally or intentionally awry as a result of modifying that code, would it make you feel better to know that Franklin County has purchased the source code for its voting machines, and Matt Damschroder and the Franklin County BOE will now exclusively maintain and support that software in-house?

2) Pat Tiberi has been trying to convince people that it doesn't matter that he's much more conservative than his district, because of what he does for his constituents. At the same time, he's been trying to convince his buddies that he really is that conservative, by gradually ceasing to bring any federal money back into the district. It appears that he's getting even more cute about it. He hates pork. He loves pork.

3) Speaking of Pat, he'll be featured at an "energy summit" in Columbus on Sept. 2. I'll be in a tent on an island at the time, but somebody should show up to fight the crazy: the other featured participants include Jean Schmidt, John Boehner, Steve Austria and Mike Pence. All of their talking points are available here. I'll give you the short version: The biggest problem with American Energy is that we're not producing enough carbon/fossil-fuel energy. The second biggest problem is that we're wasting time by trying to figure out a workable disposal system for nuclear waste first, and then worrying about building new reactors. We should be building reactors while we figure out if there's a way to make Yucca Mountain and recycling viable. The third biggest problem is that Bush/Cheney proposed a bunch of things that Obama hasn't chosen to follow through with. We need to make Obama follow Bush/Cheney energy policy. And the fourth biggest problem is that people keep finding problems. If we make it nearly impossible for citizens to take energy companies to court, gut the Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act, and turn environmental policies over to the states, it'd be a lot easier to solve the first three problems. Oh, and by the way, anthropogenic climate change? Not in the top 20. If you're the type that's been jealous of unruly right-wing protestors in recent weeks, the OSU/Nationwide/Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H center event at 10 a.m. (and 11:30 a.m.?) Sept. 2, 2009 "will be open to the public and press." Just fyi.

4) I've updated my ActBlue page, so that readers can now easily donate to Jennifer Brunner's U.S. Senate campaign, or Paula Brooks' U.S. House campaign.

5) If you value the future of the Democratic Party in Ohio, a pretty darn good argument could be made for donating to Marilyn Brown, sooner rather than later. Of course, unlike donations to Brunner or Brooks, donations of up to $50 to Brown are refundable if you haven't made a similar donation so far in calendar 2009. At the moment, I don't have Brown on my ActBlue page, although her on-line donations appear to be handled exclusively through ActBlue. A strange interpretation of campaign finance law by the OEC in 2006 effectively eliminated ActBlue as a viable method for contributing to state-level campaigns in Ohio (including disqualifying your contribution for the aforementioned tax credit). I'm assuming something has changed, and I'll let y'all know when I get clarification. Of course, I'm sure that checks made out to 'Brown for Ohio' and sent to 309 S. 4th St., Ste. 100, Columbus, OH, 43215 would be perfectly acceptable on all fronts.

6) A nice non-partisan debunking of 5 big lies in the health care reform debate. One of them even comes from a Democrat.

7) More later on Bexley's City Council election. Three incumbents and one challenger are running. The challenger, Richard Sharp, applied for the vacant council position when Helen MacMurray left in 2007, a vacancy which was eventually filled by Hanz Wasserburger. The cover letters and resumes for all applicants at that time, including Sharp's, are available here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

8/14/08 - In which I'm disappointed.

There are some who see no difference between Republicans and Democrats. If I believed that, this blog would never have existed. Or I'd be posting more these days instead of less. Given the way our system works, putting a "bad" Democrat into office rather than a "good" Republican is the only way to allow the "good" Democrats to get anything done and prevent "bad" Republicans from doing much damage.

Given this, when Republicans controlled the Presidency, the U.S. House, The U.S. Senate, the Ohio Governorship, the Ohio House, and the Ohio Senate, my personal mission was clear: vote for Dems and convince others to do likewise.

We've flipped five of six. So what's the new mission? That's tougher. Let's start at the Federal level:

Obama is banking his presidency on health-care reform and environmental/energy policy reform. I'm pretty sure that he figures that if he can get these things done, nobody will begrudge him things like extending and defending the state secrets privilege, meeting in private with lobbyists and stonewalling requests for visitors logs, refusing to consider prosecuting or even investigating possible crimes against the citizenry by an overzealous executive branch and against foreigners by interrogators, treating gays like whiny children, and placing a justice on the Supreme Court who has been reliably conservative on issues like defendants' rights.

Perhaps he's right. But that assumes he gets those first two things done. On health care, he has no policy or plan. From a political standpoint, it might have made sense to insist that Congress come up with a plan and present it to him. What we have right now, though, is a situation in which some folks are arguing against any change (a coherent position), and the rest of us in the position of arguing that some sort of change would be better because it would have some subset of possible improvements compared to the current system, although we don't know for sure which improvements we should expect (an incoherent argument). Unless one believes that there is no such thing as a "bad" health-care reform bill, we're pretty much reduced to playing defense and ad hominem attacks. And losing. Given that I do believe that a "bad" bill is a possible outcome, I don't even enjoy playing defense. This coming from a guy who has always said that health-care reform is the number one issue at the federal level.

If Obama can't get health-care done, climate-change legislation is dead. Which is why it's not unlikely he'll compromise on cap-and-trade/alternative energy to get some form of health-care reform done. Obama was quoted today as saying (about health-care reform):

"if it makes me a one-term president, I'm going to, we're going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on."

On the one hand, I admire that greatly. On the other hand, it's not as if he has much choice at this point.

If I had to do it all over again, would I vote for Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin? In a motherf***ing heartbeat. Will I vote for them against whomever the GOP nominates in '12? Of course. Which is why my opinion counts for nothing.

Same goes for Ted here in Bexley/C-Bus. I think he's overseen a disturbing consolidation of power into the governor's office. I think he wimped out on education reform. I think he's sincere in his socially conservative tendencies, which is not exactly an endearing trait. I keep trying to come up with a reason to not unconditionally endorse today's Dispatch editorial, but for the first time in memory I agree with them completely. I normally think of Tim at Blogger Interrupted as pushing the envelope to pull the mainstream, but as mean/speculative as it is, I think that his post yesterday is going to become the consensus opinion of mainstream rank-and-file Ohio Democrats, if it isn't already.

My mind cannot fathom how bad the state would have fared under J.K. Blackwell. Neither can I imagine not doing whatever I can to keep John Kasich out of office. So really now, why would anyone care about what I have to say?

There are such things as primaries, and there is still work to be done. You can thank Jennifer Brunner, Marilyn Brown, and Paula Brooks for my renewed interest in blogging (not that any of them would likely endorse anything I've written today). I believe Ohio will be a better place when they assume their new offices in 17 months, and I'm committed to seeing that happen.

So I'll just finish up with this statement to my dearly elected Dem officeholders who have been dealing with state budgets and national health care: If you do things in office that could possibly cause swing voters to switch allegiances, then you won't survive to be able to do anything at all in the future. I get that. But if the alternative is not doing anything that could alienate swing voters, then ability is obviously not the issue, character is. Republicans were voted out in droves because they tried their policies and the policies failed. But, give them this: they tried, didn't they?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Paula Brooks for OH-12

While I was writing that last post, the high-powered candidate for the Dems announced that she was running. So at least I wasn't crazy.

And, by the way, I'll take credit for the idea.

Can someone please tell me what has caused Tiberi's sudden "weakness?"

Okay, so I was never that connected and these days I'm totally out of the loop. But I'm still interested, and I'm hoping somebody can tell me what's going on...

During the last two election cycles, a major focus of this blog was putting pressure on Pat Tiberi, and if possible, defeating him and getting a Dem to represent OH-12. One of the major frustrations I had was that the national players were helping out significantly in dozens of other races (e.g. OH-1,2,15,16, etc.), but OH-12 was treated as a lost cause. As it turns out, even in years of huge Democratic gains, Tiberi won re-election by a solid enough margin to justify the decisions to allocate resources elsewhere.

But somehow, that thinking has obviously changed:

The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is the key party source for assistance in winning house elections. They are targeting 8 "vulnerable" GOP congressfolk with radio ads and 25 with live/robo calls dealing with health care reform. Pat is one of those being targeted by both campaigns.

The AFSCME and the affiliated lobbying group Health Care for America Now (HCAN) already have been targeting Tiberi and 6 others with television ads.

While the healthcare ads have been going on for the last two weeks, they've been joined by an even more targeted campaign by EDF (the Environmental Defense Fund), which is spending $150k on radio, tv, on-line and print ads criticizing 3 total GOP congressmen - Holden from PA, Souder from IN, and our friend Pat.

These ads are supposed to put lawmakers in a position where they change their position, or pay a price in lost votes next election year. When a lawmaker is likely to be in a tight race, the lawmakers position runs counter to the typical swing voter in his/her district, and the legislators vote could really swing a bill's passage, this is a no-lose strategy for the advertiser. Is that the situation here? I submit to you Tiberi's recent statement on healthcare (missing spaces preserved from original):

“Once again I’m baffled.President Barack Obama again repeated his refrain that if Americans liketheir current healthcare plan, they can keep it, if the Democrats governmenttake-over of healthcare becomes law. Irespectfully say, ‘Read the bill, Mr. President. Your claims simply aren’t true.’ Right there on pages 16 and 17 of the HouseDemocrats bill, the legislation says if healthcare plans don’t meetrequirements described by a government-appointed commissioner, they must changeor be fined. If your employer providesyou with the healthcare plan, and it doesn’t meet the commissioner’s approval,your employer will be taxed and you must enter the government exchangeprogram. It’s time the president readthe bill and quit misleading the American people. The Democrats’ plan is really a governmenttake-over of healthcare and Ohioans deserve real healthcare reform thatpreserves their choices. No one shouldbe forced into a government-run plan where bureaucrats, not doctors andpatients, make an individual’s personal healthcare decisions.”

He might say that "Ohioans deserve real healthcare reform," but it's clear from his rhetoric that he's not going to vote for any plan written by House Dems. So how about the energy bill, which seeks to drastically cut carbon emissions? Here's Pat with another one of his Newark Advocate op/eds:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's energy bill is intended to make the planet greener, but it will leave Ohioans and other Midwesterners seeing red. The Waxman-Markey bill, also known as Cap and Trade, should be known as Cap and Tax. In an answer to the liberal left's demands, Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman have tied climate change legislation to energy reform mandates that have resulted in the Democrats proposing a national energy tax increase that would impose unprecedented energy mandates that result in higher costs for nearly every good and service individuals need...

Once again, I think Pat's made his position pretty clear.

Which means that all of this ad money is a waste, unless folks inside the beltway think they can win this seat in 2010. Given that they're in the loop and putting their money where their mouths are, I have to assume that there is new evidence that he can be beat. Is it a fantastic candidate they've recruited to run? Is it a possible scandal? Do they think that large numbers of African Americans will finally turn on him if he can be portrayed as anti-Obama? Is there new and unprecedented polling? Or is it simply that the Dems have already plucked all the low-hanging fruit among pickup opportunities?

Something has changed peoples minds. Seriously, email me if you know or can guess what it is.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Off

It's going to be a couple of months before I resume blogging, and it is still up in the air what that will look like. But enough has been happening that I can't keep my mouth shut, so to the folks still subscribed to the RSS/e-mail of Blue Bexley, Here You Go:

1) Blue Bexley endorses Jennifer Brunner for U.S. Senate, as she is easily the Ohio Dem for whom I have the most respect. One of the last statements I made before hibernating was that I anticipated the campaign I'd be most enthusiastic about in 2010 was getting her re-elected as SOS. I'm even more excited about seeing her run against Portman. This is going to be a fairly big referendum on the role of the grassroots and blogosphere in Ohio... The traditional power brokers all favor Lee Fisher as a candidate. There is tremendous support among the younger and activist rank-and-file Dems for Brunner. Unlike most folks, I hope they both stick around 'til the Primary. IMHO, you are less bloodied by winning an election than you are sullied by winning a power struggle.

2) Ted Strickland supports Fisher. A cynic might say that Ted would support any situation which would let him get a new Development Director. But that's not fair. It is fair to bring up that Ted was an early vocal endorser of Hillary Clinton, who went on to take 83 of 88 Ohio Counties in what was kind of the final gasp of her campaign. Naymik at the Plain Dealer has already commented that Brunner seems to be channeling Obama. The question is, would Ted and Lee make a straight-faced attempt to turn Fisher into HRC?

3) Speaking of Ted - from the looks of it, his school funding fix sucks. It brings the state into technical compliance with DeRolph by completely ignoring the spirit of the decision. These newly funded schools will then use the increases or reductions in cash to fund a bunch of evidence-based changes to instruction format and curriculum. It'd be nice if he actually pointed to some of the supposed evidence. In his defense, there would be more money for schools if people would just throw more money away on Keno, which is why spending for marketing campaigns convincing people to gamble in a recession seems to be bucking more general trends in state expenditures.

4) Of course, playing Keno is only marginally less financially harmful than taking out a payday loan. "What?!?!" I hear you asking... Didn't we ban payday lending?!? Well, yes, sort of. It turns out that the lenders have gotten creative about fees, and the APR is still about 200%. I was pretty scared about loopholes that would be exposed if Issue 5 failed, but I wasn't expecting the law to be so easily skirted if it passed. I have to think the Payday Lenders couldn't have foreseen it either, or they may not have spent so much cash on the futile campaign.

5) Obama has been pretty much everything I feared when I refused to support him in the primary, and pretty much everything I hoped for when I supported him in the general. In other words, I'm of the opinion that anybody who has been at all surprised wasn't paying attention.

6) The economy is in free-fall and we've passed a stimulus package. I'm ambivalent. What I find most frustrating is that we should be putting in place a strong social(ist) safety net during times of economic growth, as a way of protecting individuals and lessening the collective impact during times of economic downturn, and when times get tough we should be relaxing barriers to trade and commerce to provide fuel for the natural forces of the market that cause economic growth. Instead, we use economic growth as evidence that social protections and economic regulation are not only unnecessary but harmful, and when the inevitable crash comes, it is magnified and accelerated by the lack of protection and regulation. This is followed by a recession/depression in which people clamor for more government services and public intervention into the private sector, impeding the speed at which the economy can recover. Given that it is too late to properly prepare for an economic crisis, I guess it's better to have stimulated and lost than to never have stimulated at all. And despite the (understandable) preference on the part of conservatives to pull the economy up from the top down rather than attempt the slower and less efficient process of pushing the economy up from the bottom up, it is only defensible when the bottom is stable and sustainable. Until then, government spending trumps tax cuts.

6) Some of you know that there's a non-trivial chance that I'll be leaving the State of Ohio in 2009. If it becomes apparent that that is the case, I'll be shutting down Blue Bexley for good and pursuing other outlets. If, as is more likely, it becomes apparent that I will be sticking around for the foreseeable future, I will most likely be doing a pretty thorough makeover of BB, but still writing about state and local politics as a big chunk of the content. I'll let you know. Thanks for your patience.