Reality Check for the Dayton Development Coalition

The top paid administrator in Montgomery County is Deborah Feldman- her pay is around $180K

That pales in comparison to what the Dayton Development Coalition pays its top honcho, who has been paid in the $300K range (numbers are hard to nail down because the DDC is always late in filing its financials).

While all of us are tightening belts, and people are losing jobs, benefits and accepting pay cuts- it’s business as usual for the DC lobbyists of the Dayton Development Coalition. Funded partially with your tax dollars, yet with no oversight by the public, this organizations continues on cruise control as if nothing has changed.

Yesterday, 2 of 3 Greene County Commissioners decided to put direct services to the people first and cut the Dayton Development Coalitions allowance:

Greene County Commissioners in 2010 will provide only one-eighth of the funding they did 2008 to the Dayton Development Coalition, one of the largest cuts the group has seen.

Greene County’s contribution this year will be $25,000, compared with roughly $200,000 in 2008.

The coalition is a collaborative of business and elected leaders who lobby to bring jobs and project money to the area. It’s funded by business and municipal members….

Commissioner Marilyn Reid said she couldn’t agree to more funding for the coalition when county employees had been furloughed, had hours cut and had no pay raises in two years. “It’s just a very, very difficult situation,” she said.

via Greene County slices funding to Dayton Development Coalition.

The sad part is that our “elected leadership” doesn’t feel welcome, or capable going to either the State House or the White House to lobby for you directly. They seem to think they need to hire these slick talking, well dressed, high dollar suits to remind those at the top who really represents us.

Not only that, they need private corporations’ help to fund them (or the private corporations need our help- can’t tell) on their mission of “economic development.” The sad truth is that these people are still living in the “If it’s good for General Motors, it’s good for the country” mantra- we see where GM is now- and in reality, the beneficiary these days still has the word “General” involved- but, it’s the retired generals– who are cleaning up for the military-industrial complex.

The real question is whether other communities will follow Greene County’s lead?

These are your tax dollars. You can’t vote the DDC out- but, is this the beginning of a move to demand that the people we elect be our only lobbyists? Since the Supreme Court just gave corporations a blank check in elections- will we need lobbyists at all? We can just auction off the seats in Congress on Ebay.

Kudos to Greene County for taking this bold step.

Supreme Stupidity: Best politicians money can buy

Today our country was officially sold out. In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court gave corporations carte blanche to buy their politicians.

Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

via Supreme Court Blocks Ban on Corporate Political Spending – NYTimes.com.

This all came out of a case on whether or not a corporation could pay to show an anti-Hillary movie on old school broadcast media. Apparently the Supremes haven’t been paying attention to video streaming sites like YouTube. The real issue is buying off politicians- it’s bad enough what the lobbyists spend:

A campaign finance watchdog’s analysis of insurance and HMO political contributions and lobbying expenses found the industries spent $126,430,438 over the first half of 2009 and $585,725,712 over the past two and a half years to influence public policy and elected officials. The group, Public Campaign Action Fund, found that in the first part of 2009, the industries were spending money at nearly a $700,000 a day clip to influence the political process and that the monthly pace of political spending this year has increased by nearly $400,000 over the average spent per month in the previous two years.

via INSURANCE AND HMO INDUSTRIES SPEND NEARLY $700,000 PER DAY TO KILL HEALTH CARE REFORM MEASURES | Public Campaign Action Fund.

How are our interests protected by that kind of spending power- especially, when campaign costs keep escalating?

Greg and I have a real short 3 minute discussion on the subject:

What do you think of this latest decision?

I think we have the best politicians money can buy.

How your leaders fail you. Payday lenders less dangerous than big banking.

The financial crisis we’re in started when we deregulated banking. Banks got bigger, greedier, more powerful. My little local bank never would spend money on a lobbyist, but Bank of America, would spend lavishly.

In Ohio, our legislators went after “Payday lenders” and their 500% interest rates which was a good thing, but, now- they are chasing after the loopholes:

At Check Into Cash, customers taking out a two week, $300 loan repay $318.62 — $15 for an origination fee and $3.62 in interest. Loans are not dispersed in cash, so Check Into Cash charges 3 percent — $9 on $300 — if borrowers wish to cash the check at the store.

via Payday lenders use loopholes to survive.

What’s amazing is that if you overdraw your checking by a dollar, miss a payment window by a few hours with a “bank” can charge you $39 and get away with it- over, and over again. It’s how they pay their lobbyists and push you closer to foreclosure, bankruptcy, failure.

If you do the math, and it’s pretty simple, even with the “origination fee, interest and the 3% fee for cashing the check, you are still ahead of the big banks.

When Commissioner Dean Lovelace worked to pass anti-predatory lending practices in Dayton, very quickly the banks went into action, paying their lobbyists to override local laws with State ones. The predatory lending legislation at the State level was toothless and worthless, but the politicians who wrote it all got paid.

It’s time to ask your State reps about why banks haven’t been challenged with their exorbitant fees, and leave the payday lenders alone for a while.

Why do we have an Ohio Department of Development?

Ohio Public Radio had an interesting story on the Ohio Department of Development– which is also missing a director. Unfortunately, they don’t have a full transcript- and you have to listen to hear the whole report:

Ohio has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last few years, and the state’s unemployment rate has soared to levels not seen in a quarter of a century. But the state still has no permanent director of the agency that’s charged with job creation and development.

via Statehouse News Bureau.

This is an expensive boondoggle- in the report, Rich Vedder Professor of Economics at Ohio University, would abolish the whole thing- claiming that the $971 Million dollar budget is a waste and that it costs the State $200,000 per job created.

Before the era of big government, we used to depend on the private sector Chambers of Commerce to do much of this work. It was unethical for tax dollars to be redistributed to private corporations, and our politicians weren’t barraged by lobbyists writing the laws to benefit their minders.

It’s departments exactly like this one, in Georgia, that recruited and bought NCR away from Dayton. A nationwide ban on this practice, at all levels should be the next Constitutional amendment.

The best politicians money can buy- the continuing saga

Maybe I missed something in the Dayton Daily Newsless- but, this news from February’s Cleveland Plain Dealer (thank’s TG) covers the Fed’s raiding a defense lobbying firm that has given considerable amounts to Congressmen Hobson, Turner and Austria.

PMA Group specializes in securing defense earmarks for clients in spending bills. The Center for Responsive Politics says it was the top campaign donor last year to 40 members of Congress, including Ohio Democrats Tim Ryan of Niles and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, as well as Springfield Republican David Hobson, who retired from Congress at the beginning of this year.

Although PMA gave Murtha’s campaign fund $134,200 over the years, it’s only his fifth largest career donor, behind defense behemoths like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. In the 2007-2008 campaign cycle, it was his 10th largest donor, with $26,700.

But PMA lobbyists have been the top source of Ryan and Hobson’s campaign cash throughout their careers…

Hobson got $87,500 from PMA throughout his career, while Kaptur got $40,500. During the last election cycle, PMA gave Kaptur’s campaign $26,500. Kaptur’s top all-time donors are unions.

Other current Ohio members of Congress who have accepted PMA money include GOP Sen. George Voinovich, Democrats John Boccieri of Alliance, Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville, Mary Jo Kilroy of Columbus and Republicans Steve Austria of Beavercreek and Michael Turner of Centerville.

via Federal authorities raid top donor to Ohio congressmen – Openers – cleveland.com.

I think it’s time to do what I heard The Onion advocating- dress our congressmen up like NASCAR drivers- with all of their sponsors clearly on display. If we want to see real change, it’s time to kick the lobbyists off the hill.

What do companies like PMA get for their investments? How much is it costing the taxpayers? And why, didn’t this make the DDN?