Time to clean house at Wright State

I like Dr. David Hopkins. A lot.
I’ve done work for him- not a lot.

I’m a Wright State graduate. I was active in Student Government. Inter Club Council and Student Affairs when I was a student.

All that being said- in light of the really good journalism at the Dayton Daily news by Josh Sweigart, it’s time to clean house.

The newspaper no longer publishes editorials. There is no editorial bully pulpit that calls people out when things have gone to shit.

At Wright State- they’ve gone to shit.

First indication was when they hired Jim “Lefty” Leftwich on some consulting contract to get business from the state- while he had a contract from the state. Right there, someone should have ended up in prison- but, no, that was the tip of the iceberg.

Then comes the scandal of H1B visas. The school went into bunker mode. People got fired (and had the audacity to sue for “money owed”). Others, demoted. One person- the long time legal counsel, retired with a lump sum payment.

At the same time- they create an off-books corporation “Double Bowler Properties” with a lobbyist/former congressman to “acquire real estate” quietly. There is an interlocking directorship with the Director of the WSU Board of Trustees- who voted on the hiring of his son to do “cyber security” by the university, without a public job posting- a serious conflict of interest and violation of rules.

Then all of a sudden, there is some hoo-hah about the university needing “internet security upgrades” for “The Presidential Debate” and the numbers are in the millions- all for a few hours of a nationally televised show.

Next comes the whole issue of hiring Ron Wine Consulting- and continuing to pay Ron (no one has proved he has any employees and he doesn’t have a website) a million plus in a year when there was no contract in place. Mr. Wine makes suggestions like “you should offer to hold a fundraiser for the (insert politician’s name here)” as part of his counsel, yet claims he’s not a lobbyist. He also thinks he should be paid a commission on contracts he brings in to the school, something that shouldn’t sit well with anyone in charge of a public institution- funded largely by the taxpayers.

I could go on. I could link to article after article. I could sit and wait- and hope that the Ohio attorney general and the FBI and the others do their jobs- and start throwing people in prison, but we all know white collar crime doesn’t land you in prison- only being poor or having drug offenses will do that. These are all wealthy people. They have that magic “Get out of Jail Free” card given to them as a birthright.

Wright State needs new leadership. Yesterday.

This is too much of a distraction. It’s been taking up too much bandwidth. It’s time for a new set of trustees, a new president, and some sort of independent ethics oversight, since the moral compass of what Wright State should and should not be doing with tax dollars seems to have been tossed off campus.

The university is a key part of our community, which has hitched its cart to the stupid strategy of “Meds, Eds and Feds” (none of which pay property taxes). When the wheels come off one of the key parts of the cart, we’re all at risk.

Sorry Dr. Hopkins, too much has gone off the tracks under your watch. You’ve fallen in with the wrong crowd, and lost your credibility. It’s time to step down.

Legalized racketeering- only in Ohio

When Ohio voters amended the Ohio Constitution to allow casinos, they mandated the actual real estate for the casinos. When it came time to build the four casinos- a minor obstacle in Columbus- when the location they authorized wouldn’t work for the criminals who got the golden ticket had to move it. No worries, the legislature bent the voters over and moved it.

Now, we’re facing the same with pot growing operations. Vote for pot- and give 10 sites a monopoly on legal pot growing:

if Ohio voters approve a constitutional amendment in November to legalize pot for recreational and medical uses, documents released Monday show.

ResponsibleOhio released a 24-page summary of the ballot language that identifies where each of 10 grow sites will be. Investors bought or arranged purchase options on the 10 sites.

via Moraine site would grow marijuana if issue passes in November | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

The identification of specific parcels isn’t law- it’s racketeering.

ResponsibleOhio is backed by deep-pocket investors that include financiers, current and former professional athletes, real estate developers and others. It is opposed by anti-drug organizations, five statewide officeholders including Kasich and DeWine, and grassroots marijuana groups that believe carving out just 10 growing sites will unfairly block others who want to cultivate cannabis for sale.

ibid

If you don’t know what racketeering is-

Racketeering refers to criminal activity that is performed to benefit an organization such as a crime syndicate. Examples of racketeering activity include extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery.

Just because it’s voted into law, doesn’t make it legal.

It’s time for a constitutional amendment in Ohio to stop granting unfair advantages by government to any business- be it limiting the locations of pot farms or casinos to specific sites, or the awarding of individual tax breaks, incentives or grants to a single business without offering the same benefits to their competition.

A remaking of Ohio?

While many people make New Year’s Resolutions to change themselves, and after 6 weeks are back to the same old self, what if our state decided to make some radical changes that would make it stand out among its forty-nine brethren?

Of course, our state is run by Republicans bought with corporate cash, so it’s highly unlikely anything will change other than to make sure the 1% skates, but that’s everywhere in America where capitalism has triumphed over democracy.

For starters, let’s go with pet peeves that need to go.

You know the practice of elected officials putting their name all over their office- like the auditor putting his name on the gas pump stickers or the sheriff putting his name on the badge on the squad cars- ban it. Same goes for photos of elected officials in airports, rest stops etc. The only way to do it is if you pay for it out of campaign funds or your salary.

Patronage jobs- the ones awarded to party faithful, supporters, donors- in every political office- banned. Being elected is a position of authority and oversight- not of unlimited power and leaving of the senses. We lose experience and institutional knowledge with these kinds of broad powers and it’s not in the best interest of the people.

The BMV system of patronage. Nope, the BMV isn’t a state-run operation- it’s a contract that goes to political friends- guaranteed money. Why this isn’t handled by the State Highway Patrol is beyond me. Why title bureaus aren’t managed by the same system. And, while they are at it- inspect the vehicle annually like they do in Mass.- because having a bumper, fender, front windshield, intact bodywork really shouldn’t be optional. Studies show that a majority of accidents occur with poorly maintained vehicles.

Moving on to bigger and more important things, it’s time to stop running the entire state based on the Northwest Ordinance of 1785. How we drew county lines, established the many forms of jurisdictions and responsibilities- all need to be re-evaluated. Getting rid of urban townships would be step one, but even more importantly- setting some kind of limits of politicians to people needs to happen. Moraine has an entire set of politicians, police, fire, etc.- when it only has 6,300 residents, while Miami Township and Washington Township have five times that. This whole idea of “Home Rule” allowing cities to create mickey mouse laws like Dayton regulating taxis and Uber- while the rest of the county doesn’t is total BS and needs to go.

88 local governments ought to be enough- although population balance issues between them may make even that number too high.  And, by the way- while we’re getting rid of extra government- the school districts- all 600 plus of them, could and should be reduced down to the number of counties.

Taxing districts. We live in Ohio. There it is. One taxing district with statewide income tax. Real Estate Taxing statewide. With less bureaucrats and their patrons sucking at the teat, we can reasonably distribute taxes based on a few factors: population, wealth, needs. Any questions?

This eliminates all local tax incentives, TIF, JEDD, incentives, etc. If Ohio wants to create more green energy- give a tax credit that’s available statewide to anyone who meets criteria- if the tax credit isn’t utilized broadly- it’s rescinded as bad policy and the benefactors must pay it back on a payment plan.

Revamp the state unemployment system. Right now it’s not “insurance” in the conventional sense, it’s a savings account that empties every three years. This is ridiculous and a serious problem for small businesses while some big businesses like GM used to use it as a savings account for planned shutdowns. Having it, and the workers comp system totally revamped to not be company specific except for type of work- with companies that employ workers in more dangerous fields having to pay more. Simple.

Accountable minimum wage systems. If your employees pay income taxes and also accept benefits for medicaid or food stamps, and you employ more than 50 people, you get charged back. No more subsidies for Wal-mart or fast food chains that have been milking this system forever.

The entire system of elections in Ohio and the way it is managed could use an overhaul as well- from the five different database vendors for voter registration systems to the odd patronage rule over local boards of elections. This isn’t a two-party state by law and it shouldn’t be run as one. Changing this is beyond what I can write about here- I’m working on a book about it.

Centralized purchasing programs. We’ve already seen how a combination of laws and contracts ended up in price fixing for road salt in Ohio- but, I’m totally miffed about why other things are so screwed up, like the purchase of cop cars and handguns for police. How hard is it to have a standardized police vehicle statewide- bringing huge economies of scale? Same goes for sidearms, radios, computer systems. Even police and firefighter training- it would seem that these be best done at a statewide level. You wouldn’t believe the costs involved in just marking local cops cars with their individual municipal paint jobs- one car, one paint scheme (cop cars get body work way more than your car does- and replacing all these different paints and vinyls is expensive). Police vehicles are just one example- this could go for so many things from school and government IT to snow plows.

While all the above are general housekeeping changes, that could be adopted by any well-run state, Ohio really needs to do some things that set it apart from other states.

We could adopt smart policies like Voteing by Mail as practiced in Oregon. We could ban fracking like they did in New York. Our changes in how we tax and how we fairly approach businesses with cost structures that are manageable and easily understandable would do a lot to attract business, but we still need more.

Starting with the cost of higher education. Sorry, but winning a college football championship does nothing for the people of Ohio other than providing bragging rights and selling t-shirts. It’s time to reel in the money spent on college sports programs and build a real network of youth sports programs across the state. From proper sports facilities like ice rinks, soccer complexes, velodromes and even bobsled runs- if Ohio approached public access to sports with the same veracity it did Ohio State football- we’d have the best-prepared athletes to begin with. Paying a college football coach five times what you pay the university president is an insult to our intelligence, and paying college presidents at state schools a million a year is also questionable- especially if we only pay the governor $150k a year. Yes- I know I’m jumping around- but State Schools need to be funded so that all Ohio high school grads can afford them. They pay back in the long run.

A technology infrastructure to be jealous of. Make Ohio the first all fiber state- and cover it in wi-fi. If Estonia can do it- why can’t we?

And in the most controversial move for a breadbasket state- make Ohio a little Europe- banning all pesticides, and GMO crops- moving to an organic, sustainable natural agro-economy. With our fertilizer-induced algae blooms only getting worse- and our bountiful clean water a future selling point- it’s time to realize we can’t turn ourselves into a bio-hazard. The changes would be painful for a short term- but in the long term, Ohio would stand apart from the other 49 and with a push for local food- be healthier and less energy dependent.

When it comes to energy we’d also focus on green energy like the biodigesters from Quasar Energy in Cleveland and solar and wind power that have proven their viability. By eliminating nuclear and fossil-fuel power generation we could be clean and green which would be a first.

And as one last socialist move- reclaim the utility infrastructure for the public. The idea of “deregulation” of electricity, gas, internet, phone, cable, etc. is a joke. Most municipal sewer and water systems escaped this insanity and are fine. There is no reason for every consumer to be expected to play commodities trader in picking power prices. Let’s simplify this mess and get over it.

And one last pie-in-the-sky dream- to benefit schoolchildren everywhere- let’s make Ohio the first state to go entirely metric and finally say goodbye to the Queen’s system. How hard can it be if even the Brits did it?

I’m sure there are other ideas out there- feel free to share them in comments. None of this will make any difference at all- just like your new year’s resolutions, but, we’re allowed to dream a bit with every new year.

 

Elections that matter- and those that don’t

If the money spent on the Dee Gillis vs. Bill Beagle race were spent on a public works project, or hiring another (or 10) police officers in a rough neighborhood it would matter a lot. Instead, campaigns run by twenty somethings who have no idea about advertising has, or should embarrass both candidates, has been bombarding voters. In the grand scheme of things- one more Democrat in a gerrymandered house of Republicans won’t make a bit of difference. I’ll say this though- when I wrote 4 years ago to vote for Beagle because he wasn’t a career politician like Fred Strahorn– I made a mistake. Beagle is an empty suit, totally incapable of saying where he stands on the tough questions, and doing the repressive parties’ work perfectly.

He doesn’t deserve re-election, no matter how many mailers, TV ads, radio ads, etc., he runs. Strahorn on the other hand, humbled by his defeat, seems to be fully engaged and recognizing that to be a representative isn’t a union job where you can’t get fired for doing the minimum. He’s a way better candidate than the oddballs running against him for the house seat he inherited when Clayton Luckie went off to jail.

I consider myself lucky this election cycle. Due to an abundance of work, I’ve not seen much TV. I never watch our local news which is so negative and worthless I’m surprised we don’t have “breaking news” causing suicides every day. I did happen to catch the Foley ad attacking Mike Nolan which made me wonder why Foley, another life-long politician who thinks it’s his birthright to be elected, felt the need to run it? Polling must be telling his people that his career of smiling and wearing a suit is wearing on people- and that people are just tired of supporting the Royalty of Montgomery County. The good news here is that people can vote for a really good guy who would shake things up- former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, who actually does have the capability to have an original thought- and isn’t having his seat bought for him by the local puppet masters behind the curtain (take a look at Foley’s campaign donations if you want to know who they are.) Full disclosure- Leitzell buys his printing and web hosting from me.

The most important race in the state- for governor was botched by the Ohio Democratic Party with their absolute failure in vetting their candidate. The rest of the Dem ticket fully deserves your support- because with the inevitable Republican landslide due to gerrymandering in the House and Senate (which is one elected body too much for our state) we’re doomed to more bull like “Jobs Ohio” which is just a political slush fund to hand out tax dollars to big business as if it’s play money.

For the top spot- I’m voting Green Party. Although they have no chance of winning, if they get over 2% of the vote, a major obstacle for their party goes away statewide- the requirements of getting way more signatures than the major parties to run. This would provide ballot access to many and give us a sliver of a chance of having a real choice at election time instead of the lesser of two evils.

Speaking of vetting- the race between two veterans for Ohio 41 is another case of party failure- although Wayne Small is a really nice guy, as is Jim Butler, Small has basically run a non-existent campaign, and may not be capable of handling the job if elected.  Not that he has a chance against the machine in the first place. Full disclosure- I printed signs and used to host Small’s site when he ran for Riverside council, and I’ve printed some things for the Butler campaign.

The only race where you can really send a message is the Oh-10 congressional race, where Mike Turner has gotten way too comfy doing whatever he pleases. Much like the Eric Cantor race upset, sending school teacher Robert Klepinger to represent us would be a shot heard across the nation- and give our country a chance at not being totally taken over by corporate and special interest money. Turner may be the only one in the country who still thinks nuclear weapons are a great idea- and while claiming to “work for WPAFB” so many times he sounds like a guy with a string you pull out of his back- and out comes the same dogma- he voted to shut the base down. We could have some integrity in office in a place it matters by just saying no to the bum in office. Full disclosure I printed bumper stickers for Klepinger.

The sad thing is that even if we “throw the bums out,” our system is being so co-opted by money, parties run like fraternities, and the glacial speed of change by government- that very few seats matter much, no matter how many ads they run. The only people who are benefiting from our woefully inadequate system of choosing figureheads only benefits the major media- who without this huge cash infusion would be struggling like the rest of us.

Hail to the losers and the victors for keeping broadcast TV, newspapers and the US Mail in business.
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We’re all screwed until we take the money out of politics and put the emphasis back on statesmanship.

Kasich appoints A.J. Wagner to State School Board

Just in:

A.J. Wagner of Dayton (Montgomery Co.) has been appointed to represent District 3 on the State Board of Education. He will assume the seat on August 4, 2014, and must run in November 2014 to retain the seat for the unexpired term ending December 31, 2017. Wagner is replacing Jeffery J. Mims, Jr., who resigned.

The State School Board is woefully short on people who have common sense and really care about our kids. A.J. will be a good addition.

As far as I know, there were no other candidates running in the November election.

Ohio 42 battle heating up: Johnson withdraws

West Carrollton Council member Democrat Patrick Merris has just expressed interest in running vs. Republican Niraj Antani for the seat vacated by Terry Blair in Ohio 42. Leonard Johnson, who was the Dem candidate has turned in a letter saying he’s withdrawing.

If Merris wins, there will be a vacancy on the West Carrolton council. Merris has been a commenter on this site.

Term Expires: 12/31/17

Education: Sinclair Community College, Associate’s Applied Sciences Paralegal Studies. Professional Accomplishments: Navy and Army Veteran, Citizens Police Academy Graduate 2011, Parks and Recreation Board, West Carrollton Historical Society Member & Trustee. Statement to citizens: I have been and continue to be an aggressive advocate for all residents and businesses in West Carrollton. My belief is ‘Progress Through Cooperation and Transparency for West Carrollton.’ I need constructive input from everyone to be able to serve to the best of my ability.

via Patrick Merris.

While Merris is newly elected, Antani is seen as beatable, whereas Blair was not.

Expect money to flow into this race, and possibly other candidates now that Johnson has withdrawn. A meeting of the party next week will finalize this change of candidates.

The Republican party had to go through 4 rounds of voting to select Antani. It will be interesting how much money the parties choose to throw into this last-minute street fight.

Why having the sheriff as a political party chair is a bad idea in Montgomery County

When Robert Scott stepped down as chair of the Montgomery County Republican Party last October, the party machinery didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to. Typically, there is an order of ascendency, and the vice chairmen would become chairman. However, vice-chairman Nick Brusky stepped down too, and next on the pecking order was Dave Landon who should have been made party chair- but since he was already on the County Patronage Payroll at the Board of Elections and couldn’t be party chair and get paid, so he abdicated as well.

UPDATE

Apr 23 see comment below- Co-chair was Kate Burch, who stepped down, leaving Landon, who couldn’t and then second vice-chairman, Nick Brusky, who should, technically be leading the party

There should have been an election, with a quorum of the Precinct Captains voting. A quorum is 50 percent plus one of the central committee. That meeting/election never took place. For a very short period, Landon was representing himself as acting party chair. See this PDF of the filing with the Ohio Elections Commission case about the “endorsement” by the party of a candidate, even though the party wasn’t actually functioning at the time: Landon at Ohio Elections Commission

Screen shot of Ohio Republican Party site showing Phil Plummer as party chair

Here is a screen grab from the Ohio Republican Party Site showing Plummer as chair

Somewhere along the line, Landon realized he could lose his high-dollar job, and then Montgomery County Sheriff, Phil Plummer anointed himself  chair. Never mind the election wasn’t held, thereby breaking state law, but it is highly unlikely that Plummer would be able to get the votes, since Scott took over the party by getting a majority of the precinct captains elected who supported his brand of Republicanism. It was a message that the good-ole boy days were over, and yet, that’s exactly who is back in power now.

While the equally dysfunctional Democratic party in town can laugh about all this, there is one major problem with having the sheriff as the head of one political party in Ohio- he’s the guy you call when you have an election day problem. Yep, the person who is to enforce order on election day, the one you call if someone is within 100 feet of the polls doing electioneering, the one who oversees the safe transportation of the ballots- is the sheriff in Ohio.

You need to read this Memo from Secretary of State Jon Husted  of October 22, 2013, outlining the Special Powers and Responsibilities of Sheriffs on Election Day via http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/elections/memos/2013/2013-10-22.pdf

“Election officials are charged with preventing violence and disorder at the polls and may call upon the sheriff or other peace officers to aid them in enforcing the law, including the arrest of violators.
The sheriff has a statutory duty to respond immediately to such a request.

“At least one policeman shall be assigned to duty in each precinct on each day of an election, when requested by the board or the secretary of state. Such police officer shall have access at all times to the polling place, and he shall promptly place under arrest any person found violating any provisions of Title XXXV [35] of the Revised Code.”

Mixing politics with his elected duties is not only a very large potential conflict of interest, it also opens a big can of worms if something ends up in court. Plummer should resign as party chair, or as sheriff immediately.

Right now, Plummer has one of his officers, a “Detective of Special Investigations” J.M. Clymer, out doing the Ohio Democratic Party’s dirty work. Although the Board of Elections has already accepted the required number of signatures on petitions submitted for Larry Ealy, the long-shot Dem candidate for governor in the upcoming primary, Plummer’s pogue is out trying to harass Ealy’s circulators with the threat of felony charges for submitting questionable petitions. Considering that current Dayton City Commissioners have turned in petitions with as many as 40% failing signatures, why these circulators are being harassed is questionable, and the credibility of Plummer’s office in the case is nil. You can’t be a political party chair and the criminal investigator for election law at the same time.

The Dayton Daily news has written about this investigation twice- even trying to infer that one of the circulators had a previous case for election fraud- stemming from a questionably legal eminent domain case in Moraine and his attempt to vote once he was made homeless. Here is what they published on Feb 18:

Petitions to run for governor submitted by Trotwood resident Larry Ealy were forwarded to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for investigation of possible fraudulent signatures, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Husted spokesman Matt McClellan said the office had not yet received the complaint, but would ask the local board to do the formal investigation in conjunction with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office. Harsman said election falsification is a fifth-degree felony. The maximum penalty for a fifth-degree felony in Ohio is 12 months in prison.

via Fraud probe launched in candidate’s run for governor | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

My only question is who is going to investigate Plummer- our illegitimate Republican Party Chair/Sheriff who has illegally elected himself? Shouldn’t that be a fifth-degree felony as well?

 

 

Dayton Daily news writer Laura Bischoff – pretends to be a journalist

In today’s Dayton Daily news- “reporter” Laura Bischoff questions State Representative Jim Butler’s official bio:

In his official Ohio House biography, state Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, tells the public that he “served in the United States Navy as a fighter pilot, flying the F-14 Tomcat. ”Butler trained on the F-14 but received a medical discharge from the Navy before he ever landed one on an aircraft carrier or received an assignment to a fleet. So does that still make him a ‘fighter pilot?’ ”

via Lawmaker’s military claims questioned | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

She goes on to cite a Retired Navy Capt. Jack Kennedy- claiming that Butler is “exaggerating his military experience.”

My question is if Mr. Butler had crashed his F-14, would the story have said he wasn’t a fighter pilot? The difference between being a fighter pilot and not being a fighter pilot- is one of them has actually flown a fighter. There are plenty of Naval Captains that never were Captain of a ship- does that still make them a captain (if you want to go totally stupid Capt. Kennedy). In the military, you are assigned a vocation, MOS, which is what you are trained to do, you are also assigned a unit- which may or may not use your vocation. What unit the military assigns you to has nothing to do with your skill set, or what you put on your résumé.

To be clear, there is no 2-pilot seat version of the F-14. If you’re in it- either you are a pilot- a back seat RIO or a jackass VIP getting a chance to shit yourself. The Navy doesn’t let people sit in the front seat and take their $38 million planes for a joyride for giggles.

Unfortunately- they’ll let any fool sit down in front of a computer at the Dayton Daily news and write crap. No lives are at stake, and if you make a mistake, no one dies and you don’t crash $38 million worth of avionics and propulsion systems.

Jim Butler served his country as a jet jockey after graduating from the Naval Academy. There aren’t that many people that get to do that. He now serves as our elected State Representative. Is Bischoff’s next article going to question if he really is a State Rep. because he didn’t sponsor enough bills?

The only thing that needs questioning is why did she write this bullshit article and why did it appear in the newspaper?
Frankly, if you want to talk about dishonor- questioning this naval officer’s résumé in public, when there is no legitimate basis- is the true dishonor.

The editors of the Dayton Daily News owe Mr. Butler a public apology.

Looking for tax revenue in all the wrong places: Kasich

The changes to taxes and distribution under the Kasich administration has had devastating effect on local governments. Most are scrambling to replace revenue that used to come from the “local government fund” and the windfalls of the inheritance tax used to prop up some communities that wouldn’t exist had it not been for wealthy residents kicking the bucket and consequently kicking in millions to the general fund:

That unpredictability has been most palpable in Elizabeth Twp. The Miami County township received $16.1 million in 1999 and $20.7 million in 2002 in estate tax revenues, both linked to the estate of Yellow Pages magnate John W. Berry.

That immense revenue is in stark contrast to other years – 2003, 2006 and 2009, for example – in which Elizabeth Twp. received no estate tax revenue.

via Communities find losing estate tax money painful.

Shifting tax burdens is never easy, and almost always, someone gets hurt more than others. In general, taxes are able to be classified as progressive- as in the tax increases on those that have more- or regressive, as the tax affects those with less more. Sales tax is considered a regressive tax by most accounts- and due to the digital divide, it has become even more regressive- many internet shoppers don’t pay a sales tax when buying from companies that don’t have operations out of Ohio (Amazon being a prime example). Now, our governor wants to “lower the sales tax” but increasing the number of things it is applied to. I remember being shocked when I moved to Georgia as a teen and finding that groceries carried a sales tax- something Ohio deems an essential and excludes.

Kasich wants to lower the state sales tax rate by half a percentage point, lower local sales tax rates by varying amounts and expand eligible goods and services to generate about $3 million over three years. Revenues from sales tax and higher taxes on oil and gas extracted from Ohio soil would fuel across-the-board income tax cuts.

via Changes to Kasich tax plan.

In my business, advertising, the only thing I charge sales tax on is the printing of business cards, letterheads and envelopes. Anything that’s considered advertising- is exempt. It has always seemed a little odd to me. However, with Kasich’s sweeping sales tax expansion, all we’re doing is shifting taxes around to be collected under a different vehicle. Instead of one kind of tax, we’re going to another. Sales tax depends on businesses to self-report and collect, whereas other taxes are collected by the government. Tracking tax liability in all cases requires monitoring and collecting and with these sweeping changes, many businesses will have added expense, complexity and be subject to fines (haircuts are pretty much a necessity, much like food and medical care, yet will no longer be excluded. When Joe Hairdresser doesn’t file properly, the state can send an estimated tax bill that would far exceed the real liability, never mind how much hair is cut on a cash basis).

Of course, since our governor is a former Wall Street banker, a very needed tax isn’t being considered- the Wall Street transaction tax. This video explaining the “Robin Hood tax” as they are calling it in the UK makes it very clear where there is room for a new tax that would have benefits of slowing down a wild Wall Street’s programmed trading and volatility that has hurt us all:

Yes, I understand this isn’t a tax that Governor Kasich can levy, but it would be a start to protecting public pensions, investments and ordinary citizens’ retirements from the fake economy created by churning fiat paper that is so weakly linked to actual company performance. Kasich has no problem taxing casino revenue- but, our country hasn’t addressed the biggest casino of them all- Wall Street. Here is a brief bit about what the transaction tax would do from the New York Times:

On this side of the Atlantic, there is a ghostly silence on a transaction tax in respectable political quarters. But that might change. This month, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, and Representative Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, plan to reintroduce their bill calling for just such a tax.

A transaction tax could raise a huge amount of money and cause less pain than many alternatives. It could offset the need for cuts to the social safety net or tax increases that damage consumer demand. How huge a sum? Mr. Harkin and Mr. DeFazio got an estimate from the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which scores tax plans. It’s a hearty one: $352 billion over 10 years.

The money would come from a tiny levy. The bill calls for a three-basis-point charge on most trades. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. So it amounts to 3 cents on every $100 traded.

And the bill contains some exemptions intended to make the tax more politically palatable. The first sales of stocks (initial public offerings) and bonds are exempted, so that the markets’ capital-raising function isn’t harmed. Initial investments and withdrawals from tax-protected accounts, like retirement or education funds, also have a measure of protection.

via Time to Revive the Financial Transaction Tax – NYTimes.com.

With the growing economic divide in the United States the last thing we need to increase is a regressive tax like the sales tax while leaving other areas like Wall Street virtually exempt from taxation- where even the revenue generated is taxed at a lower rate.

The one big question I have about the new Ohio sales tax reduction is: Will the counties and RTA all get a windfall from their sales tax overrides (Montgomery County and RTA currently collect an extra 1% on sales taxes) that will now extend to more goods and services? I’ve missed the details on this part- if so, local governments will probably fall in line to support it, just out of pure necessity thanks to Kasich’s other tax cuts that have devastated their financial base.

School funding in Ohio needs to address the digital divide

If you are reading this, more than likely you have internet access. In fact, you probably take it for granted. Not so in many of the homes with doors I knock on to campaign for the Dayton City Commission. Using Google to look things up, or email to communicate is as foreign to them as airplanes were to the caveman. While Dayton Public Schools was considering a “bring your technology to school” program to allow kids to bring netbooks, tablets, laptops and e-readers to school, the elephant in the room was that some kids are lucky to have shoes to wear to school.

Governor Kasich just pulled yet another fast one in his new school funding plan. He made sure to provide a way to send public money to private schools (of course, only when those schools weren’t doing their jobs) but he didn’t take the much needed step to make sure every student has equal access to the technology (and increasingly- teach-knowlegly) that is essential to doing anything remotely resembling a job in today’s society.

Kasich proposed several new programs outside the school-funding formula, including $300 million in one-time grants for innovations that lead to cost-reductions.

The voucher program would provide $8.5 million in fiscal year 2014 and $17 million in fiscal year 2015 from a separate fund and would not be deducted from school districts. Students in households below 200 percent of federal poverty level — a family of four making $46,100 or less in 2012 — would be eligible.

Students entering kindergarten would be eligible in the first year and the program would expand to first grade and kindergarten in 2014-15. Vouchers would also be offered to students in schools that fail to pass third-graders who read at grade level.

The vouchers would be paid from a separate fund and would not be deducted from school districts.

Currently, Ohio offers private school vouchers to students attending chronically low-performing schools through the EdChoice program. EdChoice vouchers cover $4,250 for elementary and middle school students and $5,000 for high school students, a portion of what public schools receive per student.

via KASICH: MORE FUNDS WITHOUT ANY CUTS.

If the Governor really wants to see “Achievement Everywhere” it’s time to address this basic fundamental of a modern education- access to the internet and a device to take advantage of it are essential. And, while we’re at it, we also need to realize that what we consider “high-speed internet” is still woefully slow, even where people do have U-verse or FIOS, we are still virtual snails compared to what the people of South Korea are using. And when it comes to rural Ohio- where the only “high speed” option is typically a data capped cell phone connection, we’re still in the stone age.

The value of universally accessible high speed internet to Ohio’s students with devices capable of providing a rich internet experience is as essential, if not more important than teachers with Masters degrees or even current textbooks. We live in a day when those of us with an internet connection can teach ourselves anything from multiplication to string theory physics by utilizing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) taught by the leading thinkers in almost any subject. Grant the ability of every Ohio student to access these, and maybe we will find that “school funding” in the traditional sense wasn’t the real issue at all. The lawsuit demanding equal funding was caused by the inequity of taxes between rich and poor districts- which is also the difference between rich and poor homes. If we make sure the poor homes have equal access to the global repository of knowledge, we may start seeing a leveling of the educational playing field.

And before any of you start talking about how the poor kids’ parents will sell off their kids’ computers for crack, when these computers are bought in the same quantities as textbooks, we’ll have huge cost savings via purchasing power, the computers will be trackable, and lastly, they will save us potentially billions in paper, mailings, and textbook purchases very quickly. As a side benefit, you and I may actually see a huge drop in the cost of Internet access and an increase in speeds as Ohio spans the digital divide and moves into modern times.