Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

Commentary for 2019

We start every year with a blank page. All previous years are still available by these links:

2019,      2018,      2017,     

2016,      2015,

Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019
By Thomas Suddes, freelance reporter

General Motors stopped Lordstown’s assembly line, but the Ohio General Assembly is revving up its own assembly line, thanks to the June 30 deadline for passing a new two-year state budget.

The Ohio House of Representatives, led by Republican Speaker Larry Householder of Perry County’s Glenford, passed its version of the budget, House Bill 166, on May 9. The bipartisan roll call was 85-9. The budget bill is now pending in the Ohio Senate, led by President Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican.

If the past is any guide (and it usually is at a Statehouse where new ideas are sometimes greeted like trespassers on private property), the state Senate’s rewrite will trim a tax or two or preserve a juicy “business income” tax break that the Ohio House pruned.

Policy Matters Ohio explains the tax break, which dates to 2013, this way: “Today, most business owners do not have to pay Ohio income tax on the first $250,000 in pass-through income and only pay a 3% tax rate on such income ... above that — a rate lower than (Ohio’s) 4.997% top income tax rate. The House budget bill trims the deduction to $100,000 and eliminates the special 3% rate.” (The deduction is now Ohio’s second-largest tax break, “worth more than $1 billion a year,” Policy Matters found.)

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine indicated he wants to continue the $250,000 deduction as is. The Columbus Dispatch reported last week: “One of the things that business men and women who are creating jobs are telling me is that they want some stability, so we didn’t (propose) any changes,” DeWine said.

Actually, what business owners want to do is further shift Ohio’s tax burden onto other Ohioans’ shoulders, which is pretty much what Statehouse politicking is all about.

Moreover, according to research by Policy Matters’ Zach Schiller, “Since the tax break was adopted (in 2013), first-time hiring by new businesses has not increased. Growth of new businesses and small business jobs and payroll continue to lag behind the nation. Overall growth of Ohio jobs, income and output also has trailed the U.S., and is expected to continue doing so.”

Meanwhile, the budget bill likely won’t lighten Ohio homeowners’ property tax burdens, which help fund K-12 schools. The legislature is expected to tackle possible school funding changes in separate legislation. In fairness, Householder, in particular, seems sincerely determined to help Ohio’s low-property-wealth school districts. Still, it’s been 22 years since the state Supreme Court ruled Ohio’s school funding setup is unconstitutional because it over-relies on the property tax.

Ohio officeholders traditionally vow that they’re devoted, heart and soul, to good schools: “We promise to foster the public school system, by appropriating from (the state’s General Revenue Fund) after the local levying power is exhausted, an amount necessary to meet necessary expenses of all public schools ... preventing a backward step in the public school system, which is now threatened because of a lack of funds,” the Ohio Republican Party’s platform proclaimed. In 1912.

In other General Assembly debates, the nuclear power plant bailout, House Bill 6, to keep FirstEnergy Solutions’ Perry and Davis-Besse generating plants in business, a bill the House passed on May 29, is awaiting state Senate action. As passed by the House, HB 6 has so many nooks and crannies it calls to mind Thomas’ English Muffins.

Example: Ohio electricity customers might want to know why the nuclear bailout bill would require them to prop up a coal-burning power plant — in Indiana. (In fairness, maybe Indiana needs a boost: It lags Ohio in per capita personal income, which is $46,646 in the Hoosier state, 35th in the nation. Ohio’s per capita is $48,242 — 29th in the nation. Nationwide per capita: $53,712.)

This week, the state Senate will likely unveil its rewrite of the House-passed budget. State senators’ debate and vote will send the budget to a conference committee for Senate-House horse-trading. If you believe those “how a bill becomes law” diagrams, the conference committee will decide the state budget’s final features.

But public palaver is beside the point. Real world truth: Householder and Obhof will decide what’s in Ohio’s next budget — and what isn’t.

Published Tuesday, June 4, 2019

We have a follow-up on our May 23 report about the new Geauga County Planning Director. As announced during public session this morning by County Administrator, Gerry Morgan, the successor Director of Planning is a fait accompli. The possibility is that both the new and interim administrators may be in attendance for the next meeting of the Planning Commission. Had some individuals “been paying attention,” we believe an apparent case of semantic misspeak would not be causing confusion.

The individual hired as Director of the Geauga County Planning Commission has indeed been selected and will take official command on June 24.

Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Judicial Watch (JW), for those who are unfamiliar with them, is a conservative, non-partisan organization in Washington, D.C. that promotes integrity in government. Their motto says it all: "Because no one is above the law." They use the open records act to investigate and uncover misconduct by public officials.

On April 2, 2019 JW sent a public records request to the office of Prosecutor James Flaiz requesting information about part-time investigator, Craig Young. Ironically, it is similar, although more extensive that the one submitted by resident Susan Daniels, who filed hers on December 11, 2018. Her record request became Exhibit A in a Writ of Mandamus filed in February 2019 because Flaiz refused to respond to her entire request. (Record request & Exhibit A)

Flaiz's outside legal firm filed an Answer to the writ and demanded a Jury Trial. A mandamus hearing is normally a simple hearing where a person is asked if they are entitled to the public records and, in this case, Flaiz would have been told to hand them over. By asking for a jury trial, Flaiz's attorneys have delayed the hearing and turned it into a trial, which will cost the taxpayers another $1,200.

No hearing date was set until Daniels called the bailiff for Judge Paschke, where the case was assigned. Daniels was told that that the pre-trial hearing date is set for December 9th.

Last week Flaiz's lawyers, from the law firm of Manzanec, Raskin & Ryder, filed a Motion for a Summary Judgment. (Summary Judgment) Why they included a record request from Daniels for the Sheriff's Dept. has everyone scratching their head.(For those who do not know, Ed Ryder is the Chairman for the Geauga County Board of Elections.)

In the Summary Judgment, they claim that Daniels' request was "overly broad" and the Writ should be dismissed. They do not want to give Daniels the records for which she asked.

However, on May 17, 2019, William Marshall received a letter from Flaiz’s office telling him they are preparing all the records for him. So the request from JW, which was more extensive, is not "overly broad" but the one for a tax paying resident is?

The buffoonery at the prosecutor's office continues.

Published Monday, May 20, 2019
By Bethany Blankley  | The Center Square

State government must reduce or hold its spending to match the growth in inflation and population to reverse employment plight and economic stagnation, The Buckeye Institute says in its updated brief, Sustaining Economic Growth: Tax and Budget Principles for Ohio.”

It argues, “Policymakers must be wary about increasing government spending to dangerous levels and choosing to reduce taxes for only a few rather than adopting across the board tax cuts that would help grow the economy.”

The institute urges the Legislature to return $658 million in surplus to taxpayers “through permanent lower taxes,” which it argues “would lead to 6,600 more jobs annually while encouraging more economic activity and business investment.”

The report comes after newly released employment data from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JFS), which shows slowed job growth.

Ohio's unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in April 2019, down by 0.1 percent in March, and by 0.3 percent from April 2018. Statewide, there were 11,000 less people filing unemployment claims in April than in March. Over the last 12 months, 15,000 less people filed unemployment claims.

The U.S. unemployment rate for April was 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent in March and down from 3.9 percent in April 2018.

“April was a disappointing month for job growth in Ohio,” Andrew J. Kidd, an economist with The Buckeye Institute's Economic Research Center, said in a statement.

“The state saw no net job increase in the private sector and March's numbers were revised downward to only 1,200 new jobs created,” Kidd added. “Although the unemployment rate continued to fall to 4.3 percent, the labor force participation rate saw only a slight increase to 62.8 percent, which raises concerns that people searching for jobs have either stopped looking or left the state.”

Ohio’s nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by 1,400 from March to April 2019, according to the latest business establishment survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor. The private service-providing sector added 200 jobs, the financial sector added 2,000 jobs, and the professional, scientific and technical and technical services sector added 1,600 jobs over the same time period.

Government employment also increased by 1,400; local government jobs accounted for half of them, JFS reports.

Employment in goods-producing industries decreased, with losses in manufacturing, mining and logging, and trade, transportation and utilities, according to JFS.

“One area that draws the most concern is the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, which lost 2,400 jobs in April,” Kidd adds. “As trade tensions with China increase, and job loss in this area of the economy continue, policymakers should be worried that new tariffs will do more harm to Ohio's families and businesses.”

While President Trump’s threat of a 25 percent tariff on about $325 billion worth of Chinese imports, and China’s proposed retaliation, is a real concern, the Buckeye Institute argues, state policy makers have gone too far in spending and need to cut back in order to alleviate unnecessary burdens on taxpayers at home.

The proposed House budget “advances good tax policy by eliminating some tax credits and loopholes for private jets and movie studios,” Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy at the institute, says. But “the budget increases taxes on Ohio’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, which will slow economic growth and job creation.”

“Given the budget comes at a time of economic expansion, policymakers have the perfect opportunity to pursue meaningful, sustainable pro-growth reforms that will make Ohio a national economic leader,” Hederman adds.

Kidd, who is co-author of the report, argues that, “Returning surpluses to taxpayers – rather than using them to increase government spending – will help grow Ohio’s economy and create more jobs for Ohioans.”

The report also recommends that the state lower Ohio’s commercial activity tax and the individual income tax; simplify Ohio’s tax code (standardize municipal tax collections and increase local government efficiency); and tie state spending to inflation and population growth.

Published Friday, May 17, 2019

Many of our readers in Geauga, Lake,Portage, and Cuyahoga Counties are familiar with the name of Brian Ames, who has on a number of occasions filed litigation in Portage County Common Pleas Court, in the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, in the Supreme Court of Ohio to protest the failures of the Open Meetings Act as implemented by governmental bodies,

The latest Portage County body to come under fire from Mr. Ames for failure to establish “a reasonable method whereby any person may determine the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place, and purpose of all special meetings” is the Portage County Solid waste Management District Board of Commissioners, located at 3588 Mogadore Road, Kent, Ohio 44240 and the Portage County Board of Commissioners, 449 South Meridian Street, Ravenna, Ohio 44266. Mr. Ames has established ninety counts of failures to establish meeting time and place in violation of the Ohio Open Meetings Act. Accordingly, he has filed Portage County Common Pleas Case No. 2019CV00384 , a Mandamamis filed State of Ohio Ex rel Brian M. Ames. The case is to be heard by Judge Laurie J. Pittman, who has been the judicial official in many of the cases filed by Mr. Ames. The case was filed on May 13, 2019.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ames has become a kind of cause celebre because his uncanny ability to understand and state legal issues and write legal arguments pro se. Further, Mr. Ames videoed a session in the presence of the sole Republican Commissioner, who asked for a way to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, when Mr. Ames responded to the question. the newly appointed Prosecutor, Christopher Meduri. was recorded voicing countless “legal objections” to Mr. Ames’ answers to questions. It is the understanding on this writer that Meduri replaced the former Portage County Prosecutor, when that elected official appears to have resigned under duress.

We are following this latest problem in Portage County concerning the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Ames has generated quite a stir in Portage County, having been the subject of Portage County Central Committee Member Featured, Portage County Republican Central Chair Removed, and Portage County Common Pleas Case 2017-CV00380.

Published Friday, May 10, 2019

Tom Hach, Executive Director of the Lake County Liberty Coalition, greeted a healthy group of attendees on the drizzly evening of Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Auburn Career Center in Concord, Ohio, to hear information prepared by two speakers regarding the bill introduced in mid April by Ohio House Representative 61, Jamie Callender, to consider the buy-out of the Davis-Besse power plant owned by the bankrupt First Energy Solutions, a sister company of First Energy. As noted, First Energy Solutions is bankrupt; First Energy itself is running nicely in the black with corporate leadership whose annual salaries are well in excess of $8.7 million annually. The program was underwritten by the Liberty Coalition with sponsorship from the Geauga County Tea Party, radio commentator Steven Kraus, Lobbyists for Citizens principal, Brian Massie; and the Tax Working Group.

The two speakers were John Morrow, taking the pro-argument on behalf of passage of HB 6 and Micah Aderry, taking the anti-argument. Mr. Morrow, with a Masters Degree in Economics from Rutgers and a former employee of General Dynamics, initiated the conversation, noting that HB 6 “allows lower energy bills” by providing a level playing field to all forms of energy. Although he explained that over $7 million worth of subsidies will be reduced with the ultimate beneficiaries being the residential payers of electric bills, he failed to state that lower energy bills would definitively result from passage of HB 6. Additionally, he contended that “massive subsidies from the federal government [to wind and solar energy ventures] put nuclear at risk, but “it is not true that HB 6 is a bailout” for First Energy, as has widely been intimated. As if these contentions were not emotional, Mr. Morrow noted that the “big money” interests against nuclear production are international financier, George Soros, and self-declared Socialist turned Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.

In the meantime, Morrow continued, the so-called subsidies awarded to wind and solar energy ventures benefit “environmental socialism,” another undefined term that may have been an emotional hook for those in attendance. HB 6 “allows nuclear to compete with $150 million” instead of the $700 million in subsidies on the table now. As a result, passage of HB 6 will reduce residential monthly expenses from $4.36 to $2.50, but failure of HB 6, according to Morrow will mean that “you will pay more” in monthly electric bills.

The major scapegoat of Morrow’s presentation appeared to be alternative energy, that is, wind and solar production. Mr Morrow noted that “wind turbine blades will fly five to six miles” and solar production is plagued by “unproductivity” with 30% efficiency. He reminded those in attendance that Ohio, site of “polar vortex” weather events, without Davis-Besse could result in northern Ohio residents being “froze” because of the unreliability of the wind and solar industry. As if those comments were not emotional enough, Morrow noted the ownership of the Blue Creed Wind Farm in Paulding County by very wealthy “farmer” Terry McClure, who is also the founder of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. While Mr. McClure makes tons of money, Ohio residents, he said, are paying for energy twice so that “without HB 6, Ohio is in a state of no-return” because the cost of electric energy will increase from 12 cents to 24 cents per kilowatt hour.”

Micah Aderry identified himself as a spokesman on public policy isues for Americans for Prosperity, and organization that seeks “long-term solutions.” He noted that he and speaker Morrow agree on most issues. He identified the status-quo electrical climate as an “embarrassment” because “there is no free market” with regard to production of electrical energy. He identified AFP’s four principles as “equal application of the law, openness, win-win, and no barriers to opportunity.” He expressed his opposition to subsidies being given to any producer of energy. He acquiesced that First Energy is owner of two money-losing nuclear plants in Ohio as well as noting that the owner of Davis-Besse, First Energy Solutions, is in bankruptcy, even though nowhere in the language of Jamie Callenders’s HB 6 is First Energy, Davis-Besse, or bankruptcy mentioned. First Energy Solutions, he asserted, “needs a protected income source” so HB 6 is “tailor-made for First Energy.” He defined HB 6 as resulting in “legal plunder,” defined as guaranteed revenues” through subsidies, “the forceful movement of money.”

Just to make certain that those in attendance, identified as conservative voters and allies of the Tea Party movement, did not feel animosity toward him, he noted that, like the first presenter, he did not like alternative energy either. His favorite, he noted, was natural gas, not nuclear production. He deplored the 33-page HB 6 sub-bill and its Energy Efficiency Rider, which he asserted would be more expensive than the cost of alternative energy. He attacked nuclear plants losing money because there was a need to create both energy and to have byproducts [that could be used in bomb manufacture].”

He related the action of the Pennsylvania State Legislature on May 8 in refusing to bail out the nuclear power plants in that state.

With an hour of time left, several attendees expressed negativity about the influence that First Energy appears to have on the Ohio Legislature, implying that the “reduction” of subsidies to “only” $150 million was intended to help First Energy. Why do residential payers of electric bills “have to help them [First Energy] minimalize their expenses. Other participants expressed the idea that nuclear production is 3-4 cents more per unit than the cost of natural gas. “Why is it so bad if First Energy goes out of business?”

Another important question was asking how much responsibility the State of Ohio would have in decommissioning bankrupt nuclear plants?” The response was that insurance companies would cover the first 10%, but the State of Ohio would be responsible for the remaining 90% with a decommission cost of $10 billion, Brian Massie, known and respected by many, expressed his honest opinion that the issue was too confusing for the average voter to comprehend.

This writer, piqued by information from both presenters that portrayed solar and wind as the bad guys, wishes to make it clear that there were huge attempts to present scare tactics and, especially in the case of Presenter Morrow, threats of “no-return.” This writer believes that using wind and solar energy as the scapegoats to dismantle the argument of bailout for special interests was/is a disservice to the intelligent people who were gathered in one place to learn.

In conclusion, Mr. Morrow, the proponent of HB 6, asserted that there were enough Republican votes in the Ohio House to pass the legislation, which is apparently supported by Governor DeWine, who has supported many things since his inauguration in January. Mr. Aderry, who appeared to have the last word, asserted that the measure is short on votes. It has had two hearings and twenty hours of testimony, most of which has not been in favor of passage. Me. Aderry noted that the bill is currently in subcommittee.

HB 6, especially now with the absence of former Representative Sarah LaTourette, and the imminent choice of a replacement by “the [GOP] Executive Committee members who live in the 76th District” per written statement by Geauga GOP Chair Nancy McArthur on May 8, and not as a result of a direct vote by registered voters, bears a great deal of scrutiny and a long memory.

Published Monday, May 6, 2019

Many in Geauga County have been aware of the combined efforts of Geauga County Probate Court Judge Timothy Grendell and County Recorder Sharon Gingrich to present a public service to senior citizens and others about the Good Deeds program in an effort to save county residents the needless costs of Probate Court dictated by faulty wording or lack of appropriate wording in a deed. Recently Probate Court has sent out a schedule of the Good Deeds program and has indicated that Auburn Township senior citizens, like South Russell and Bainbridge residents, will be the beneficiaries of the Good Deeds Program in August and November at Adam Hall.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
After Trustee Cavanagh reported that he had been impressed with the April program in South Russell with 90 some residents and four advising attorneys at no cost to the attendees, he recommended providing the service to Auburn residents at no charge to Probate Court and the Recorder’s Office as a public service. Upon hearing that there would be no charge, not even a cleaning fee, for the use of Adam Hall, Trustee Eberly appeared to go into a three-minute protest proclaiming the unfairness of such an action to “all the people” over the years who have been charged a cleaning fee. When told that it would be a public service for many Auburn residents who would be notified by Geauga Probate Court by postcard, Eberly noted that it didn’t matter even if there were 500 people.

Cavanagh quickly called for a motion and a vote, which ensued as follows: Eberly, no; Troyan, yes; Cavanagh, yes. The motion, noted by Fiscal Officer, Fred May, was approved 2-1. Therefore, Adam Hall will be the site of two separate sessions of the Good Deeds Program, held by Probate Court Judge Grendell and Recorder Gingrich in August and November to educated Auburn Township residents on how to avoid Probate Court with proper deed language.

We cannot remember ever a time before when Mr. Eberly was defeated by the combined vote of his fellow two trustees because they recognized the importance of the Good Deed Program and the importance of not screwing Auburn Township senior citizens and others who should not be burdened with Probate Court proceedings after the death of a loved one.

We laud Mr. Troyan and Mr. Cavanagh for taking a politically correct action, especially with a trustee election for Mr. Cavanagh just around the corner in November 2020. Eberly, who received victory in the 2018 Auburn Trustee election by only 12 votes, seemed oblivious to courtesy, respect, and deference once again—far too often for a public figure who brags about his long-time “service to the community.”

Published Monday, May 6, 2019
By Susan Crowell -editor at Farm and Dairy

In late February, the citizens of Toledo approved an amendment to the city’s charter form of government called the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, granting citizens there the right to sue polluters of Lake Erie.

We reported on the ballot initiative when it was approved, as well as on the lawsuit challenging the LEBOR measure that was filed by Wood County grain farmer Mark Drewes.

But there’s a backstory that deserves some attention, too.

Who or what is behind the bill of rights? The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), a nonprofit law firm based in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, which identifies communities that are ripe to advance local ordinances to legalize community rights and the rights of nature.

The firm has supported similar local ordinances, often focusing on agriculture or the oil and gas industry. In Toledo, the legal defense fund connected with Toledoans for Safe Water, a group that formed following events in August 2014 that led the city of Toledo to issue a drinking water ban.

The idea marries “home rule” — meaning local communities, not states nor the federal government, know best how to govern their communities — with environmental activism, and would return civil, political and environmental rights to the local level. They challenge corporate rights with binding local laws, sponsoring “democracy schools,” that teach citizens how to get involved.

The proponents believe in the “rights of nature”: that ecosystems have an inalienable right to exist and flourish (without human intervention), calling it “liberation ecology.” Basically, they believe nature has legally enforceable rights of its own.

There are more far-reaching implications to the “rights of nature” movement, than just celebrating and preserving natural resources. If you read more about CELDF founder Atty. Thomas Linzey, some would say his ultimate goal is dismantling corporate and private property rights.

Peggy Hall, an associate professor of agricultural and resource law at Ohio State University, has talked to judges and fellow attorneys across the country about the LEBOR issue, and says there’s definitely agreement that the amendment is unconstitutional. It conflicts with various state and federal laws, and also violates measures in both the state and federal constitution.

Ohio’s constitution grants cities the right of self government, but if that home rule reaches beyond a city’s limits and interferes with something that’s of general concern for the state’s residents, that’s not something the city can control. Lake Erie, as a natural resource, doesn’t belong to the city nor its residents and the state of Ohio is actually charged with protecting it.

So if it was doomed to fail, what’s the ultimate goal?

Beyond the courtroom, the goal is simply to increase awareness of the concept of “rights of nature” and “home rule,” and the proponents don’t have to win the case to win that battle.

A good controversy is key to elevating your cause — just ask the folks at PETA, who wrote the book on engaging in publicity stunts to reach the masses.

“We are all now talking about it,” Hall said during the Ohio Dairy Producers Association annual meeting April 4. “They want attention. I think that’s their primary goal.”

The veiled, death-by-a-thousand-cuts tactic reminds me a lot of the Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS, too.

You keep chiseling away, wounding in small but steady ways, none of which are fatal. But if continued, the blows finally add up to a slow and painful death. Meanwhile, the farm world that failed to get engaged wonders “how did this happen?” or “why didn’t someone do something?”


The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is taking advantage of the publicity to start a crowd funding campaign to raise money to “protect Lake Erie and grow the Rights of Nature movement,” according to the news release about the campaign.

In time, Hall says, they want to change everything that’s stopping this — they want to change the law that says the state can pre-empt this local right. They’re building momentum, membership and money, so when they have enough people behind this concept, they can go to legislators and say “we all want change.”

“They’re headed in that direction and it’s a long view,” the attorney added. “That’s something we all need to pay attention to.”

By Glinda Anon on Sunday, May 5, 2019

We have given you a LOT of background into the affairs of the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. in our article, Lake County Visitors Bureau and the Commissioners…Let’s Make a Deal. As you know from that article, there was a secret meeting between the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. and the Lake County Commissioners held on February 19, which has resulted in an Agreement in principle to give all 3% of the lodging taxes collected by Lake County directly to the Lake County Visitors Bureau with absolutely zero oversight.

We sent an official public records request to the Lake County Commissioners, pursuant to ORC 149.43, for a copy of the fully executed Agreement that the prosecutor’s office produced in draft form. We also asked that they produce a detailed accounting of the allocation of the lodging tax funds from the Tourism Reserve Fund for the period October 2018 through March 2019. Crickets. Today, Lobbyists for Citizens sent a friendly reminder to the Lake County Commissioners that we are still awaiting production of the aforementioned records, and that our records request will be 30 days old as of Friday, May 10.

As far as records requests go, the Lake County Visitors Bureau was only too happy to produce every record we requested prior to that secret meeting because they needed help. Frankly, we have not really asked for much from the Lake County Visitors Bureau…and only records of a financial nature, which they are bound by ORC Section 149.431 to produce as they take public money. After that secret meeting, everything changed. We wondered why…so we did some more digging, and boy did we hit pay-dirt.

Lobbyists for Citizens gave the President of the Board of the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. (Ms. Sabath) a heads up about something we uncovered that really needs addressing. Everything we’ve uncovered thus far needs addressing, but this is pretty straight-forward and damning. We will post another article with our documentation.

We had hoped that she and the Lake County Visitor Bureau, Inc. Board would do the right thing. Instead, Ms. Sabath tried to convince us that what was done is just fine and dandy…nothing to see here. She actually stated the following in an email to us on the matter: “The LCVB is funded by a bed tax from people who stay at hotels in Lake County. That is not the same as taxpayer money.” Bwah ha ha ha! Seriously? That is truly a REMARKABLE comment!

We really wonder if sometimes the Commissioners are experiencing a momentary lapse of judgement when appointing people to various boards. Unless….they are doing the quid pro quo thing for friends, donors, political consultants, and members of the entrenched establishment in Lake County on both sides of the aisle…we see a lot of “back-scratching” going on…we will save that for another article.

When she stated that there was no problem with the VB’s actions, we prepared formal complaints to four State agencies (Ohio AG, Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Ethics Commission, and the Ohio Auditor).

In a previous letter to the AG, we requested that he provide a legal opinion on whether paying operating expenses for the Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority is proper under the ORC. As we stated in our article, Port Authority and the Visitors Bureau…Joined by a Coastal Manager and the ORC, we believe that what all three entities have done over the past 6 years (Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority, Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc., and the Lake County Commissioners) is not allowed under ORC Section 5739.09.

Anyhoo…we filed another formal complaint against the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. with the same four state agencies yesterday, May 4, regarding the irregularities with their non-profit status. We told you a bit about those irregularities in our article, Visitors Bureau and Commissioners…Holding a Public Meeting in Private.

Our final letter has been prepared…on the real questionable stuff we mentioned above…and will be mailed to all four state agencies tomorrow, May 6. Given what has occurred in Pike County, well let’s just say this new complaint will likely open some eyes at the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Ohio Auditor’s Office. Stay tuned for our next article on that.

We were so hopeful that our fearless leaders would do the right thing, especially when presented with empirical proof. Unfortunately, it appears we were wrong about the leaders in Lake County. You will know them by their fruits, and actions speak louder than words.

We are concerned about the recent obstruction…slow-walking or outright refusal to produce official records requests made by Lobbyists for Citizens pursuant to ORC Section 149.43, and even being removed from the meeting between the Commissioners and the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. on February 19 by Commissioner Jerry Cirino.

You should be asking yourself this question…if LFC was not specifically asked to be present, how in the heck would we have known about the date, time, and location of that meeting? For the record, it was the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. that requested the meeting with the Commissioners. It is our opinion, that Cirino had no authority to remove the LFC representative from a meeting called by the Executive Director of the Visitors Bureau. We will let the state decide if there was a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

In her most recent email to Lobbyists for Citizens relative to the matter we will be sending to the state on May 6, Ms. Sabath said that the Lake County Visitors Bureau has nothing to hide…they’ve done nothing wrong. Alrighty then, why did the Lake County Visitors Bureau refuse, in writing by email from it’s Board President, to produce financial records specific to the matter, as we told you about in our article Visitors Bureau…Nothing to See Here Folks…Keep Moving…It’s Only Your Money? Contradictions cannot exist…one premise is wrong. We will see what the State of Ohio rules on this issue.

It is a sad day for Lake County when people are overheard in the hallways after Board meetings asking their lawyers how they can thwart records requests made by Lake County citizens…and then they make good on that course of action by just not producing. As we have told you many times, some of our records requests are over 2 months old.

Lobbyists for Citizens exists because we want honesty and transparency in government, and to ensure no one is “feathering their own nest” at the expense of the taxpayers…period! We believe that justice should be BLIND, i.e. not two sets of justice…one for the ivory tower crowd and another one for the people they rule.

We have brought very real concerns to the Lake County Commissioners about two entities in Lake County that need to be dealt with, i.e. the Lake County Ohio Port & Economic Development Authority and the Lake County Visitors Bureau, Inc. BOTH ENTITIES ARE FUNDED BY PUBLIC MONEY, AND THE COMMISSIONERS APPROVE ALL OF IT AS WELL AS THE APPOINTMENT OF THEIR BOARD MEMBERS…THEY NEED TO EXERCISE OVERSIGHT NOW SINCE THE RESPECTIVE BOARDS ARE NOT PROVIDING PROPER OVERSIGHT!

As you know, we do extensive research, and we provide empirical proof; but so far, with the exception of Commissioner Hamercheck, it all falls on deaf ears in Lake County government. Not only that, it appears that the Lake County entrenched establishment types are only too happy to circle the wagons and protect their little fiefdoms.

It appears they would rather cover up than clean up all the while attempting to impugn the character of the bringers of truth and facts. It truly is disappointing and despicable. We will let the State of Ohio, and the court of public opinion decide…The 2020 elections are not far off……


Published Friday, May 3, 2019

It’s been two months since the passage of HB 62 (the Transportation Bill) and the gas-tax increases and registration-fee increases for innocent owners of vehicles that run on solar energy or reduced amounts of gasoline. Remember when it was a good thing to conserve gasoline??? In case you forgot, those new expenses go into effect July 1, just an exhale away. In case you thought you could forget, we are referring to the lobbyism in favor of these tax increases by Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). In case you thought you could forget, we are republishing the list of Ohio legislators who voted for these tax increases.

Prior to passage of HB 62, we published an article on March 10 that originally appeared in the Trumbull County Tribune Chronicle, questioning whether grant money for senior citizens would be commingled with other funds to be used for the Ohio Department of Transportation. Recently we learned that Lake County Representative, Jamie Callender, with whom we met in early March, was the kingmaker on the final HB 62 language

Many thanks to Lobbyists for Citizens for their diligence in uncovering the connection of Callender to this extra finagling of funds that should be reserved for senior citizens. (See “Regional Transit versus County Transit”) Aren’t these old timers the ones who are on fixed incomes and being forced to pay out tax increases left and right, regardless of their efforts at the voting booth to have more control of their finances? In how many other ways is local government going to “use” old-timers to satisfy government’s “special interests”?

Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Readers may remember that we started out 2019 with a “show” trial in Geauga Common Pleas Court based on the $1.8 million heist of taxpayers’ money (it could be more, much more, after there is a final accounting, which we will ultimately provide) by the late Stephen Decatur, who departed this world in a suicide. In early January his daughter made her appearance, represented skillfully by Cleveland attorney Kimberly Corral. Ms. Corral appeared to maneuver with great agility, to the detriment perhaps of Geauga taxpayers, compared to the lumbering clumsiness demonstrated by County Prosecutor Flaiz. All-told the Prosecutor seemed to lose on many levels. Ms. Stewart, the defendant in that court appearance, came out of the “ordeal” with an “order” to pay back money to Geauga County, about $400,000 and one guilty count. You will remember that the prosecutor charged both her and her father, Stephen Decatur, with over 300 counts each.

Crime in Geauga County still pays, and it’s not over yet.

The last of the Geauga County “heist” cases filed by Flaiz is working its way through Geauga County Common Pleas under Judge David Ondrey, who inherited from the not-so-great retired Forrest Burt. Just about the time when we harbored some hope that Ondrey might be a bright ray of light compared to the dim Burt-bulb, we have learned that the defendant in 18C 000021 may avoid coming to stand trial by virtue of the latest motion offered for the Texan executive of Texas company ITERSource by his Texas attorney.  So just when we thought the public would at least be welcome to sit in on the May 2 “trial,” which has been continued and/or rescheduled multiple times since the case was filed in February 2018, we learn that defendant Eugene Joe Krus is the subject of an April 25 motion “to appear” at his “Change of Plea” hearing “by telephone conference.

How much are we willing to bet that the outcome of this latest Decatur debacle will be yet another slap on the hand? Is Prosecutor Flaiz a willing participant in these dealings? Is Prosecutor Flaiz simply a less-skillful courtroom litigator than Kimberly Corral or Krus’ attorney, Joe W. Bailey II, Texas State Bar Id. 01525600 of Hinton and Bailey, LLP, of Houston?

Today, two days before the “public” hearing on 18C000021, Judge Ondrey granted the request made by Krus’ attorney, Joe W. Bailey II. Inasmuch as the “public” court hearing is still scheduled for Thursday, May 2, the “public” case may be all over without the “public” as yet another Geauga legal outcome may be resolved with just a whisper and a whimper and an insult to the taxpayers who pay for what appears to be a whole hell of a lot of legal shenanigans behind the scene.

Meanwhile, in response to the mandamus filed in Geauga Common Pleas Court on February 19, 2019, Prosecutor Flaiz has hired Todd Raskin at $350 per hour at Geauga taxpayer-expense so that he can have his jury trial rather than grant a request for documents under the Public Information Act. In this case, Attorney Kimberly Corral, representing the plaintiff, will get another opportunity to demonstrate her agility vis a’ vis the lumbering Jim Flaiz.

If the responsibilities of Flaiz’s office involve honoring public information requests which he refuses to grant, is he guilty of a crime, a malfeasance, or just stubborn laziness?

Crime in Geauga County still pays, and it’s not over yet. . .


Published Friday, April26, 2019

Ohio House Bill 6, introduced by Republican Representative Jamie Callender from Lake County’s Concord Township, and by Republican Representative Shane Wilken from Hillsboro, is being whisked through hearings with a vote for approval coming as early as Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Titled the Ohio Clean Air Act with the intent of creating the illusion that clean energy production is the major objective, it becomes obvious after 98 testimonies that the legislation is an excuse to bail out First Energy Solutions and the Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant, which is being touted by First Energy Solutions as deserving of survival long after FES declared it bankrupt. Of the 98 testimonies occurring between April 17 and April 24, 80 were opposed and 18 were in favor.

We have taken the liberty to include the reports of five of the opponents (Luke Sulfridge Ohio Director, Solar United Neighbors; Lucas County Commissioners; Nuclear Information and Resource Service; City of Warren; and American Petroleum Institute) and highlighted the arguments that we believe are most cogent. Please read these testimonies and note the diversity that they represent. Like previous legislation in the Ohio Legislature this spring, Ohio House Bill 6 represents a whitewash for First Energy, whose top executives are awash in outrageous annual salaries, while the bill, if it is approved, will impose a financial burden, again, on average citizens and families.

Remember the outcome of House Bill 6 and the representatives who will vote for it in spite of receiving a huge outpouring of objection to it in the last two weeks.

Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Have you ever been parked in Chardon (where public parking is not so easily available) to find a ticket under your windshield wiper because the meter maid marked your tire and came back two hours later to find out that her chalk mark was in exactly the same place as it was two hours before (meaning you overstayed your two-hour- welcome)?

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Cincinnati) covers Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee. It ruled yesterday that municipalities like the City of Chardon who issue tickets to raise money and not to guarantee safety and welfare by trespassing upon private chattel like automobiles are violating the Fourth Amendment .

Here is a pretty definitive article, along with several links to relevant material, including the actual decision issued April 22, 2019. Does the judgment present another liability for the City of Chardon? We hope that Chardon officials are seriously considering the legal challenges headed their way if they do not change THEIR ways.

CHALKING TIRES AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT A markedly interesting case from the Sixth Circuit.
By Orin Kerr April 23, 2019

In a new case, Taylor v. City of Saginaw, the Sixth Circuit has ruled that the common practice of parking enforcement officers "chalking" a tire to see if the car has been moved violates the Fourth Amendment. I'm not sure the decision is correct. But it's plausible on current law, and it raises some really interesting conceptual issues.

Here's an overview of the new case and some thoughts on whether it's right.

First, the facts. Alison Taylor gets a lot of parking tickets, and she decided to make a federal case out of it. Specifically, she sued the city of Saginaw in federal court. She alleged that her constitutional rights were violated by practice of "chalking" her tire to figure out if she had overstayed the time she was permitted to park her car.

I don't know of any other cases in which "chalking" was alleged to violate the Fourth Amendment. But the Sixth Circuit ruled that it did, in a decision authored by Judge Donald joined by Judge Kethledge and Judge Keith. And the court's reasoning seems broadly applicable to all of our cars, not just Alison Taylor's.

Here's the court's thinking. First, the court reasons that the chalking is a search of the car because it is a trespass on to the car to obtain information under United States v. Jones. It's a trespass under Jones, the court says, because it satisfies the common law trespass test:
In accordance with Jones, the threshold question is whether chalking constitutes common-law trespass upon a constitutionally protected area. Though Jones does not provide clear boundaries for the meaning of common-law trespass, the Restatement offers some assistance. As defined by the Restatement, common-law trespass is "an act which brings [about] intended physical contact with a chattel in the possession of another." Restatement (Second) of Torts § 217 cmt. e (1965). Moreover, "[a]n actor may . . . commit a trespass by so acting upon a chattel as intentionally to cause it to come in contact with some other object." Id. Adopting this definition, there has been a trespass in this case because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle. As the district court properly found, this physical intrusion, regardless of how slight, constitutes common-law trespass. This is so, even though "no damage [is done] at all." Jones, 565 U.S. at 405 (quoting Entick v. Carrington, 95 Eng. Rep. 807, 817 (C.P. 1765)).
Next, it is an act conducted to obtain information, as Jones requires:
[O]nce we determine the government has trespassed upon a constitutionally protected area, we must then determine whether the trespass was "conjoined with . . . an attempt to find something or to obtain information." Id. at 408 n.5. Here, it was. Neither party disputes that the City uses the chalk marks for the purpose of identifying vehicles that have been parked in the same location for a certain period of time. That information is then used by the City to issue citations. As the district court aptly noted, "[d]espite the low-tech nature of the investigative technique . . . , the chalk marks clearly provided information to Hoskins." This practice amounts to an attempt to obtain information under Jones.
Having concluded that the chalking was a search, the court then concludes that it was unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional. The basic idea here is that no exceptions to the warrant requirement apply, so by default the warrantless search is unlawful. First, the automobile exception does not apply:
The automobile exception permits officers to search a vehicle without a warrant if they have "probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains evidence of a crime." United States v. Smith, 510 F.3d 641, 647 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). No such probable cause existed here. Thus, the automobile exception is inapplicable.
Next, the search was not reasonable under the community caretaker exception:
The City fails to carry its burden of establishing that the community caretaker exception applies in this instance. First, on these facts, the City fails to demonstrate how this search bears a relation to public safety. The City does not show that the location or length of time that Taylor's vehicle was parked created the type of "hazard" or traffic impediment amounting to a public safety concern. Nor does the City demonstrate that delaying a search would result in "injury or ongoing harm to the community." Washington, 573 F.3d at 289. To the contrary, at the time of the search, Taylor's vehicle was lawfully parked in a proper parking location, imposing no safety risk whatsoever. Because the purpose of chalking is to raise revenue, and not to mitigate public hazard, the City was not acting in its "role as [a] community caretake[.]" Id. at 287.
And finally, the search was not justifiable based on a general interest in having an orderly parking system:
While the City is entitled to maintain efficient, orderly parking, the manner in which it chooses to do so is not without constitutional limitation. As the Supreme Court explains, "the [Fourth] Amendment does not place an unduly oppressive weight on [the government] but merely . . . an orderly procedure. . . ." Jeffers, 342 U.S. at 51 (citation omitted).

The City does not demonstrate, in law or logic, that the need to deter drivers from exceeding the time permitted for parking—before they have even done so—is sufficient to justify a warrantless search under the community caretaker rationale. This is not to say that this exception can never apply to the warrantless search of a lawfully parked vehicle. Nor does our holding suggest that no other exceptions to the warrant requirement might apply in this case. However, on these facts and on the arguments the City proffers, the City fails to meet its burden in establishing an exception to the warrant requirement.
Here are a few thoughts on the case:

(1) From a practical perspective, this is a really important decision. It concludes that a routine practice that wasn't thought to be illegal (if it was thought of at all) is actually unconstitutional. I'm not sure if the decision is correct. And as I'll explain below, there are several plausible but debatable moves in the opinion. But this decision is now binding in the Sixth Circuit and may also be followed elsewhere: Traffic enforcement officers around the country should be paying attention to this.

(2) Is the decision right? As I said above, I'm not sure. United States v. Jones introduced the idea of the trespass or physical intrusion test for searches in 2012. As I've written before, Jones could mean a lot of different things. It's just not yet clear what the standard is or how it should apply. Given that, I think the result in Taylor is plausible but that it's also subject to several plausible objections.

(3) Start with the question of trespass. First, the court takes from Jones the idea that the test is "common law trespass." Maybe that's the test. But maybe it's not. The Court in Florida v. Jardines notably did not describe the Jones test as a trespass test. Instead, Jardines described the test as "physical intrusion." That's potentially pretty different. And assuming the test is common law trespass, figuring out what kind of trespass test that meant is actually pretty tricky. Maybe it's the Restatement test, but maybe it's something different.

(4) I'm also not sure of the court's conclusion that the chalking was "to obtain information," needed to satisfy the search test from Jones. That's certainly a possible result. But it also strikes me as a somewhat awkward fit.

Here's the context. In Jones, the officer installed the GPS device on a suspect's car and then obtained GPS info from it as the car was tracked for 28 days. The majority ruled this a search in part on the ground that installing the GPS was done to obtain information—specifically, the stream of data from the GPS that would provide the location of the car to which it was attached. Here's the most relevant discussion of the intent test from Footnote 5 of Jones:
Trespass alone does not qualify, but there must be conjoined with that what was present here: an attempt to find something or to obtain information.

Related to this, and similarly irrelevant, is the concurrence's point that, if analyzed separately, neither the installation of the device nor its use would constitute a Fourth Amendment search. Of course not. A trespass on "houses" or "effects," or a Katz invasion of privacy, is not alone a search unless it is done to obtain information; and the obtaining of information is not alone a search unless it is achieved by such a trespass or invasion of privacy.
The Sixth Circuit in Taylor sees that element satisfied by the chalking. And it is no doubt true that the officer chalked the car with the ultimate goal of finding out a fact—whether the car had moved. That may be right under Jones.

On the other hand, it seems like a somewhat unusual application of the intent test. I would think the Fourth Amendment idea of a "search" of a person's "effects" ordinarily implies intent to obtain information from the effect searched. Normally, searching a box means getting information from inside the box. Searching a home means getting information from inside the home.

In Taylor, however, the officer's plan is to place his chalk on the car and then come back later and see if the chalk moved—thus giving the officer a clue about whether the car moved. That's information about the car, but it seems removed from a search of the car itself. After all, the car is just out in public. It is sitting on a public street for anyone to see. And the officer is just looking at the chalk the officer placed. Is it really a search of the car at Time A to see at Time B if the chalk moved between Time A and Time B?

Maybe yes. Maybe the problem is that Jones itself was an awkward fit. The obtaining of information in Jones was also just ultimately about the car and where it had been in public, as well. And the Supreme Court apparently found that sufficient. But it's at least a question worth raising: Are there limits on what kind of information the government needs to want to obtain, and from what, and when, to satisfy the Jones test?

(5) Assuming the chalking is a search, the next question is whether it is constitutionally reasonable. I agree with the Court's analysis of the automobile exception and the community care-taking exception. But I suspect some courts might disagree with the Sixth Circuit's reasonableness analysis on the ground that chalking is a de minimis search as part of a regulatory scheme. It's just putting a temporary mark on a tire, it causes no damage, and it doesn't reveal anything. Some courts have articulated doctrines that allow low-level searches as reasonable based on a balancing of interests without particularized suspicion. I can imagine that as a possible path for other courts. We'll see.

(6) I have to wonder how much this issue matters in a world of smart phones. Everyone is now carrying around a camera. Instead of chalking the tire, the parking folks can just take a picture of the car. They can figure out if the car moved by comparing the pictures at Time A and Time B to see if the car is in the same place. It may be more complicated or expensive than chalking, but it avoids the Fourth Amendment concern by just observing what is in public without any physical attachment to property.

(7) Finally, it's not at all clear what if any remedies may be applicable. Chalking is common and hasn't been thought to be illegal. Given that, qualified immunity should attach and civil suits against the officers won't work. And it's not clear that there is any exclusionary rule available in an enforcement action to pay the parking ticket, as that is a civil proceeding and the exclusionary rule may not apply under United States v. Janis.

[UPDATE #1: Some readers suggest in that I should offer a more complete survey of remedies that are available in (7) above. In that case, I should note that civil suits should be available against municipalities that have a chalking policy, and injunctive relief may be available. For an overview of Fourth Amendment remedies, see this paper at pages 239-45.]

[UPDATE #2: Thinking about the case some more, let me add a new point (8). There's a way to read the Sixth Circuit's decision a lot more narrowly than I have above, and many others have elsewhere. Here's how. The ruling in Taylor was based on a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). This means that when Taylor sued, the defendants (the city and officer) responded that the case should be tossed out at the outset because the complaint itself didn't establish a plausible case. The court in Taylor is just ruling on that, and it isn't actually offering a full ruling yet on the constitutionality of the search. Ordinarily, the government has the burden of showing that a warrantless search was reasonable. But the government hasn't had the opportunity to make that showing yet, as we're just going on the complaint.

This means, if I'm understanding the civil procedure aspects of this case correctly—I'm a crim pro prof, not a civ pro prof—the rulings that the court offers on reasonableness are particularly tentative. Now that the case goes back down to the district court on remand, the civil defendants can make different arguments about why the searches were reasonable and can offer new evidence to support their reasonableness arguments (both old and new, if applicable). The Sixth Circuit's opinion notes this very briefly near the end:
Nor does our holding suggest that no other exceptions to the warrant requirement might apply in this case. However, on these facts and on the arguments the City proffers, the City fails to meet its burden in establishing an exception to the warrant requirement.
I had missed this in part because the court offers a pretty thorough discussion of several fact-specific exceptions to the warrant requirement. It's a little bit unusual to see that given the procedural posture. But I think the procedural posture of the case may end up being important, as it means that the court could issue a new ruling reaching a different result when the case is more fully litigated.

by Diane Jones
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Brian Ames of Portage County has been engaged in a heroic legal encounter to correct the mistakes and shortcomings of the Portage County Central Executive Committee for at least two years. With the ouster of Portage GOP Chairman Jonathan Jennings on Saturday, March 30, 2019, it appears that the Portage GOP has the opportunity to clean up its act. Many of our readers are aware that both the Lake County Republican Central Committee under Chairman Dale Fellows and the Geauga County Republican Central Committee under Chairman Nancy McArthur (chosen by Republican Ed Ryder to be employed at the Geauga County Board of Elections—Does this constitute a CONFLICT OF INTEREST) have been the subjects of litigation over the last few years. Now the same thing has happened to the Portage County GOP in Portage County Common Pleas Court Case No.: 2017-CV-00380.

What is wrong with these Republican organizations?

Doing some research on Geauga County voting patterns, this writer discovered that there are far more voters registered as Independent than either Republicans or Democrats. It would seem that there has been so much underhanded partisan politics that the average voter has decided to shy away from affiliation with either organization.

Something that both political parties need to keep in mind: 48% of all registered Geauga County voters are Independents, the single largest voting majority. They will swing a Geauga election every time so it’s time to make nice with them.

In the meantime, we are very grateful to Brian Ames for bringing litigation to set the Republican faction straight. . . We have a feeling that Mr. Ames’ litigation is just the beginning of many long overdue legal actions against corrupt and unjust behavior.

Brian Ames will appear at the Auburn Career Center 8140 Auburn Road Concord Twp., OH 44077 on the evening of Wednesday, April 24, from 7-9 PM . His topic is “Using Ohio Sunshine Laws, Open Meeting Laws, and Federal FOIA Laws To Combat Corruption.” The presentation is free, but those who wish to attend must register with Eventbrite. We believe that the event will be Standing Room Only. If you have an interest in attending, register via the link here.


Published Sunday, April 7, 2019

Many Auburn Township residents know that Duch Farm, with 42.6 acres on Franks Road, and a contiguous 41.8 acres on Bell Road, is the site of spreading by septic haulers. That means the owner has 84.4 acres to hide septic effluent but according to current rules only needs forty. These spreading operations are subject to regulations enforced by the Geauga County Department of Health. The actual regulations originate in Ohio Administrative Code and Ohio Revised Code, so that violation of these issues constitutes criminal behavior.

At one time approximately twenty years ago many septic haulers brought their tanker trucks full of effluent and dumped it on the grass and in the pond, also known as the lagoon. If you happened to be visiting the parcel during that point in time, the most impressive things about the landscape were the condoms and tampon applicators that had been flushed with fecal waste down toilets into septic tanks, which had been vacuumed by the septic tank cleaning organizations.

At the March 28, 2019, public meeting of the Auburn Township Zoning Commission, members Albert Tien, Jeff Pulsford, Scott Kamenir, and David Van Huyten listened to Trustee Patrick John Cavanagh give an update on the last fifteen or so years of development in the township. It was like listening to accelerated “Classical Gas.” Cavanagh took everyone back to the King James Development, which failed to be developed, then the town-center development plan presented by Kent State University, which also failed to be developed because it was based on a central water system; Auburn to this day still depends on well water.

Then Cavanagh went into the last Township Survey, undertaken in November 2011. Since it was undertaken when this farm was forced to take Auburn Township to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals following Judge David Fuhry’s flawed decision that the township could prohibit wind turbines (when in reality there was no zoning code to prohibit them, a decision which Fuhry should have known but left to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, who slapped his little hand red and raw before his retirement) trustees thought they could “forget” about mailing a survey to us to complete—until our attorney focused in on them. Cavanagh did not mention that phase of the 2011 Auburn Survey, but we won’t forget even though the Eleventh District Court of Appeals made the Wind in the Woods 10 kilowatt farm wind turbine a landmark.

The 2021 Auburn Survey is now on the horizon, once the 2020 Census is completed. Albert Tien noted that for the first time the Millennial Generation will be offering input into the Auburn 2021 Survey regarding the desirability or undesirability of Auburn real estate and the preferred amount of home square-footage. Another possible question for the 2021 Survey will be residents’ attitudes about the suitability of daycare centers for the elderly and funeral homes, two land uses that are not permitted at the present time. A financially adept, enterprising business owner, added Mr. Tien, will have a good opportunity to contest unpopular/unjust zoning decisions in the courts.

Identified by former Assistant Prosecutor Bridey Matheney as “not wanting to talk” to farm owners who ultimately beat the township in court, Trustees Cavanagh, Eberly, and Troyan have apparently instructed Board of Zoning Appeals members to soft-pedal some of the hard lines and lack of reason they exhibited in many of the zoning appeals decisions made during the 2009-2015, which ultimately wound up decided in a courtroom. It did not help that trustees conveyed to the Geauga Prosecutor that they had no desire to talk to residents with issues about zoning decisions; such pigheadedness on the part of “Dean of Zoning Inspectors” and his trustee cronies only served to make it more important for challengers of improper Auburn zoning to win at a court not eating out of the hands of local Geauga townships.

How long will learning gleaned the hard way last for trustees who may still demonstrate their arrogance instead of their skill at problem-solving? Readers will recall that none of the Auburn elected officials has completed the Leadership Academy sponsored by the Ohio Township Association to facilitate Conflict Resolution, Problem Solving, Developing Leadership Skills, etc. [See WHICH GEAUGA TOWNSHIP ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE COMPLETED THE TRAINING TO QUALIFY THEIR COMMUNITIES FOR FEDERAL FUNDS?] Had the Auburn elected officials availed themselves of those learning opportunities from OTA, is it possible that they could have avoided large numbers of litigation issues at massive legal costs to Geauga taxpayers?

Getting back to P. J. Cavanagh: He kept on talking for the Zoning Commission, savoring the Bernie Kozar experience: Sitting at the kitchen table of an Auburn property owner on Ravenna Road, Kozar wrote out a check for a cool $2.2 million for a building and ten acres. This high-priced purchase sold at sheriff’s auction less than ten years later for ten cents on the dollar so that Auburn Township trustee Cavanagh himself under the express guidance of then Assistant Prosecutor Bridey Matheney could extend a cemetery after scraping off some trees to make the parcel look like hell for a while.

Finally, Cavanagh seemed to settle in on a topic close to his heart. He made no mention of the January 2019 sale of just about 28 acres of Cavanagh land, to Klarich Farms, LLC for $250,000. Instead, he warmed up to bemoaning that hardly anyone comes to Geauga County Health District meetings anymore. Perhaps after reading further, more folks will be motivated to come to those meetings after learning about the conflicts of interest that may exist. Regular Board of Health Meetings are generally scheduled the third Monday of every month, except federal holidays. The meetings start at 5:00 PM. Unless otherwise stated, board meetings are held in the Conference Room, 470 Center St. Building #8, Chardon, Ohio 44024.

P. J. Cavanagh has been privy to information and conversations that the Board of Health has had regarding the application of septage and the requirements of fields where that septage is spread. Cavanagh kept talking to the Zoning Commission members present: in order to be an approved septage spreading field, a parcel must be at least 49 acres. We noted in the first paragraph that the spreading field owned by Duch Farms is 84.4 acres. Klarich purchased 28 acres.

Cavanagh continued that the Duch operation has recently put up barricades to limit which septic haulers can enter the spreading site and when they can do that. He noted that the “excluded” haulers now have the added expense of time and gasoline costs to take their septage “all the way” to the Oakwood/Solon dumping location. He avoided the Geauga County Health District Rules for Land Application of Septage, which are published online and perhaps help explain why there are “excluded” haulers. Section VI of the Geauga County Health District Rules are as follows:
Section VI: Operation Requirements:
A. All trucks must be clearly marked with name and phone number
B. Signs must be posted at the site indicating who uses the location for land application
C. There shall be no spreading of septage after 10:00 pm
D. Gates must be installed at the entry to limit accessibility
E. All sites shall have a spreading device which can be attached to all trucks. . .
F. All septage must be stored, handled and applied in a manner that will not allow a nuisance condition to develop. . .
G. Septage may not be applied to fields already saturated with septage or snow (Hmm. . .Aren’t all Auburn residents aware of individuals who spread their manure on snow with apparently no negative consequences? Why is that??
H. Any corporation, company, governmental agency, or individual proposing to apply septage by the aforementioned procedures must be registered to do so by the Geauga County Health District
I. If an imminent public health nuisance is found, the application site may be closed immediately
J. All pumping receipts must be submitted to the Geauga County HealthDistrict within 30 days of service
K. All sites must have at least 3 sample wells 50 feet down-hill of application area
Should Cavanagh have known at least some of the rules in Ohio Administrative Code, 3701-29-20, Septage and Sewage Management? For instance, according to that regulation, in 3701-29-20(B)(1), the county board of health provides notification to those permitted septage haulers of areas “that are authorized to accept septage or other available receiving locations” for septage. So, Mr. Cavanagh, just because a septage spreading field is in Auburn/Newbury does not mean that all those poor rejected septage haulers are being discriminated against; those that use the septage spreading area have to be authorized by the county board of health.

You seemed to imply that the dumping ground owned by Duch Farms had put up barriers to prevent a group of haulers from spreading. The real truth, according to Ohio Administrative Code, 3701-29-20 (E)(1)(c), is that the only septage haulers that are permitted upon the septage spreading field must have “[w]ritten permission from the property owner to land apply septage. . .”

Further, the regulation requires owners of septic lagoons to barricade the facility so that only those haulers registered and approved onsite are actually given access. Cavanagh’s description of those haulers not being able to use the Auburn/Newbury ground implied that they had been denied access for some other reason.

Cavanagh next told zoning commission members that an extra septic lagoon would be so beneficial for all the septic haulers who were denied entry to the parcel owned by Duch Farms, thereby losing money by having to travel further away to dispose of effluent. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful win-win if there were a second dumping ground close by, he cooed.

And where might that second dumping ground be? Well, how about the former Cavanagh Farms LLC Property? Granted, it does not meet the 80-acre retirement, but hey, wait a minute. . . Robert Cavanagh, father of P. J. Cavanagh, owns lots more land, all land-locked, behind the 28 acres just sold by P. J. So how many more acres would Mr. Klarich need to meet the 40-acre minimum to be a sewage dumping ground? Well, let’s do the math: 40-28=12. With that additional 12 acres, Mr. Klarich can be a dumping field and the Cavanaghs have sold their land, thanks to P. J.’s inside advantage of being a representative to the Geauga Department of Health.

Doesn’t this start to sound like an inside job, a conflict of interest, a special deal like the Geauga Park District arranged with certain families, most recently the owner of Junction Auto, for which Geauga taxpayers get to decide on a new GPD levy on the ballot in November?

Should Klarich be financially capable of buying the additional acreage (up to 250 acres owned by Robert Cavanagh), he would have to meet the requirements of Administrative Code while making both Cavanaghs wealthy. Should such a deal happen, another question arises: P. J. Cavanagh as an Auburn Trustee must have residence within Auburn Township. If he sold all of his farmland, with the possible exception of the two acres owned by Cavanagh Rentals, and Robert Cavanagh has sold his 250 acres, where in Auburn Township could P. J. be residing? With “wife” Ruth in her South Russell estate at Paw-Paw Lake?

This whole Cavanagh issue smells a little less sweet than a rose. In fact, it stinks like fecal discharge. This whole smelly arrangement appears to this writer to be a conflict of interest or a possible issue for the Ohio Ethics Commission.

How convenient would it be for the Cavanagh clan to arrange a sale to a “captive” party like Klarich? On the other hand, wouldn’t Klarich be a bigger fool to pass up the opportunity to purchase contiguous property to make his “ dumping dream” come true?

Will Auburn Township residents watch how a certain Trustee and his family member(s) climb the ladder of “Rags to Riches”?

by Diane Jones
Published Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Brian Ames of Portage County has been engaged in a heroic legal encounter to correct the mistakes and shortcomings of the Portage County Central Executive Committee for at least two years. With the ouster of Portage GOP Chairman Jonathan Jennings on Saturday, March 30, 2019, it appears that the Portage GOP has the opportunity to clean up its act. Many of our readers are aware that both the Lake County Republican Central Committee under Chairman Dale Fellows and the Geauga County Republican Central Committee under Chairman Nancy McArthur (chosen by Republican Ed Ryder to be employed at the Geauga County Board of Elections—Does this constitute a CONFLICT OF INTEREST) have been the subjects of litigation over the last few years. Now the same thing has happened to the Portage County GOP in Portage County Common Pleas Court Case No.: 2017-CV-00380.

What is wrong with these Republican organizations?

Doing some research on Geauga County voting patterns, this writer discovered that there are far more voters registered as Independent than either Republicans or Democrats. It would seem that there has been so much underhanded partisan politics that the average voter has decided to shy away from affiliation with either organization.

Something that both political parties need to keep in mind: 48% of all registered Geauga County voters are Independents, the single largest voting majority. They will swing a Geauga election every time so it’s time to make nice with them.

In the meantime, we are very grateful to Brian Ames for bringing litigation to set the Republican faction straight. . . We have a feeling that Mr. Ames’ litigation is just the beginning of many long overdue legal actions against corrupt and unjust behavior.

Brian Ames will appear at the Auburn Career Center 8140 Auburn Road Concord Twp., OH 44077 on the evening of Wednesday, April 24, from 7-9 PM . His topic is “Using Ohio Sunshine Laws, Open Meeting Laws, and Federal FOIA Laws To Combat Corruption.” The presentation is free, but those who wish to attend must register with Eventbrite. We believe that the event will be Standing Room Only. If you have an interest in attending, register via the link here.


By Brian Massie
Published Monday, April 1, 2019

Although Senator Eklund may be “termed out” of his current position, politicians never go away. With the help of the party elites, they simply move to another open political position – regardless if they are qualified or not for the position. It appears that the ability to get re-elected carries more weight with the party than what the taxpayers need – experience and competency for the office

The topic we discussed was the gasoline tax hike where the governor wanted an increase of 18 cents a gallon, the House voted for 10.7 cents per gallon, and the Senate passed 6 cents per gallon. He made two good points about this. The governor had indicated that this was an emergency measure given the current state of roads and bridges in Ohio. However, the governor’s plan included money for new projects as well. The second point was, as I understood it, that the tax was for two years. He had asked what happens at the end of the two years, will the necessary emergency conditions have been addressed? He hasn’t received a response to the question.

I made the point with him, can it really be that there is nothing in the current budget that is of lesser importance than our “crumbling infrastructure”? Everything else is apparently more important because there isn’t anything that can be cut to provide additional funds for roads and bridges. He took that point.

Also, I asked if there any restrictions to how these funds can be utilized, that is, are they restricted only to roads and bridges? Or can they be used for hiking and biking paths? I expressed the opinion that if our roads and bridges are in such bad shape why would be spending money, especially in Northeast Ohio, on bike paths and hiking trails? He indicated that this is largely to the area coordinating agencies, such as NOACA, which is the worst culprit. He didn’t think this was an issue anywhere else in Ohio. Therefore, he didn’t think that it could garner enough support from other parts of the state to restrict funds from the gasoline tax to only roads and bridges. I raised the point that if it isn’t a problem elsewhere, and only in NE Ohio, then it wouldn’t be a big deal to put restrictions on the money that it can only be used for roads and bridges since that wouldn’t affect anyone else other than NOACA. Why, if we don’t have enough money for roads and bridges, are we spending money on biking and hiking trails that are utilized by only a very small percentage of the population and only for a limited portion of the year?

I had opportunity at the beginning of our meeting to pray for Senator Eklund and his family. While we disagreed on a number of points, we had a very amicable meeting.

By Diane Jones
Published Friday, March 29, 2019

Free-roaming wolves were a big threat to the health, safety, and welfare of early Geauga County settlers. There are historical accounts Wolf of individuals venturing away from their homes and not returning, only to have their remains discovered after the winter thaw, victims of wolf attacks.

The Pioneer and General History of Geauga County, published in 1880, by the Geauga County Historical Society, recounts the long and tedious efforts to rid the county of these carnivorous animals. In June 1812, when cannon fire from Lake Erie battles during the War of 1812 could be clearly heard in Chardon, the Geauga County Commissioners were preoccupied with the wolf threat. Commissioners’ Clerk, Captain Edward Paine, agent for much of the land sold in this area of the Western Reserve, himself a veteran of military service for the early nation, a clerk of courts, and the first postmaster in Chardon, recorded the Commissioners’ resolution of the problem:
“Resolved. That the rate of bounty to be paid out of the county treasury for the scalps of wolves over six months old, killed in this county, shall be two dollars, and for those under six months old, one dollar, for the ensuing year.”
Over the next several years the settlers made four-sided wooden traps that resembled log-houses big enough to catch one animal at a time. The traps worked with a sliding-door that would slam down once the animal was far enough inside in search of the food left as bait.

Although adult bear and bear cub meat were both used as legal tender to pay off debts, wolves were not mentioned as edible. Instead, they became so notorious for killing sheep that sheep-owners were forced to stay awake during the black of night to chase off the wolves or, better, to kill them for the 1812 bounty. The beauty of raising sheep during that time was that they were not taxed by County Auditor John Roper, a Hambden Township resident. The author of the chronicle reported that his own father had lost half of his herd of eighteen sheep when the family had been distracted by the presence of company and had therefore failed to kill the wolf.

By 1817, the wolves were such a threat to so many Geauga residents that they decided to have a mass wolf hunt. This was at a time when John Roper, great-great-great-great- great-grandfather of Wind in the Woods Farm (Auburn Township) co-owner Thomas Jones, the tax-collector for Geauga County, had collected a total of $39.32. The largest amount of tax that Roper ever collected from one individual was $5.94 and the smallest amount from one individual was ten cents. At that time Roper assessed horses at thirty cents and cattle at ten cents each. Chardon Village parcels were taxable, but farming lands on the outskirts of the village were exempt.

John Roper was more well-known as the developer, along with his friend John Langdon and his son-in-law Nathaniel Parks, of the first water-powered lumber mills in Chardon Township, well before 1820. Since Captain Paine was already a well-known leader, he became the leader of the movement to wipe out the wolf packs. For the purpose of easy identification, Captain Paine wore a hat made from a deer tail. John Roper, Langdon, and Parks were part of the group clamoring for the demise of the wild wolves.

There was a great deal of preparation for the wolf hunt. Although a specific date is not recorded, the chronicle implies autumn, perhaps October. A group of residents decided to meet along a circular line of trees covered in fall-colored foliage. This was to be the meeting point of all the individuals from Chardon, Chester, Newbury, Claridon, and Kirtland, which was still a part of Geauga County, The men and boys who showed up carried whatever implements they had available: guns, pitchforks, Revolution-era bayonets on sticks, and clubs. Those that brought tin-horns blew on them, starting in the northeast corner of Munson, until every individual in the huge circle with a horn had signaled the beginning of the hunt about 9 AM.

The second blowing of the horns was the signal for everyone to march toward the center of Munson, where there was an eight-acre area of more trees with autumn foliage. The men who were thought to be the best marksmen were chosen to shoot the wolves that were to be surrounded. The plan was not to wound any of the humans. The chronicle on page 294 reports that the men flushed out a large number of both wolves and bears, which “were seen running from side to side to escape, but, coming in contact with men on every side, they would wheel and run in the opposite direction.”

Everything was going according to plan, and it looked as though the wolves would be wiped out and no longer create a problem. At just about the last minute, there was an unexpected change of plans. Among the men and boys in the line, there were some who opposed deer-killing. As the hunters closed in more tightly around the wolves and bears, a few of them spotted some deer in the group. At that point, the opponents of deer-killing created a break in the line. Bears, wolves, and deer scrambled through the opening. At the very last moment, when the line was restored, the group managed to capture a few deer and one elk. Thus ended the Great Geauga Wolf Hunt of 1817, but not the wolves.

In the years that followed, whenever an early Geaugan spotted a wild animal, he would tell Captain Paine. In one case when a couple of men spotted a big bear, Captain Paine gathered a large number of men and dogs to surround the tree where the bear was “resting.” When the bear awakened, the men with guns were to shoot. Although the chronicle did not go into detail about who got the meat, we presume it was equally divided among those who had taken the effort to be there.

At other times when fresh meat was the legal tender for work done, the man who was carrying the meat in some kind of cloth bag attracted the onset of a wolf, according to the chronicle. The chronicle bragged, however, that brandishing a “large, dry piece of limb that was near, and, by striking it loudly over a log, caused the wolf to disappear.” Thus, it is hard to tell whether the threats from wolves was really so serious or whether the wolves were equally scared of the Geauga settlers.

In the end, the last bounty for a wolf scalp was recorded by the Geauga County Commissioners’ Clerk who had succeeded Captain Paine. The County Commissioners paid $1.50 for that scalp in 1835. The wolf problem was at last resolved, twenty-four years after the solution had been proposed.

In any event, time marched on. The Munson Pond still exists, but we all know it today as Bass Lake. John Roper and Captain Edward Paine lived out their lives. John Roper, discontented with Chardon and Geauga County, favored Painesville as the county seat of Geauga County. He, along with other proponents of Painesville, were responsible for the formation of Lake County with Painesville as county seat about 1840. John Roper died there in 1840 at the age of 58, His son-in-law and daughter, Nathaniel and Alamena Parks, remained in Chardon, but their son, Edward Parks, settled on the frontier of Auburn Township, where, after he death of his first wife, Olive, he married her sister Loretta. Together they produced many children, among them, members of the Sprague and Butts families, all living for eternity in Auburn Township cemeteries.

John Roper’s old friend, governmental cohort, and co-wolf-slayer, Captain Paine, stuck it out in Chardon Village until the end of his days in 1858. He was age 71. He is buried in the Chardon Municipal Cemetery.

Published Sunday, March 24, 2019

Geauga County has sixteen townships, each with three elected trustees and one elected fiscal officer. These political subdivisions are paid members (with taxpayer funds) of the Geauga County Township Association, which is, in turn, an entity that is part of the Ohio Township Association. Ohio Township Association sponsors an annual Winter Conference, which typically is scheduled for the last week in January from Wednesday to Saturday. OTA provides a large variety of workshops geared to assist elected township officials to handle challenges such as water supply, zoning updates, and other topics). Readers may already know this information and be aware of their elected officials’ participation in these professional opportunities during January of any year, when township officials anticipate the three-to-four day experience in Columbus.

Geauga County’s sixteen townships and their elected officials are as follows:

Auburn Township
Trustees: Patrick Cavanagh, John Eberly, Michael Troyan
Fiscal Officer: Fredrick May

Bainbridge Township
Trustees: Lorrie Sass Benza, Jeffrey Markley, Kristina O’Brien
Fiscal Officer: Janice Sugarman

Burton Township
Trustees: Kenneth Burnett, Daniel Whiting, and replacement for James Dvorak(elected Commissioner in November 2018
Fiscal Officer: Shelley McDermott

Chardon Township
Trustees: Michael Brown, Timothy McKenna, Charles Strazinsky
Fiscal Officer: Beverly Borawski

Chester Township
Trustees: Joseph Mazzurro, Ken Radtke, Robert Rogish
Fiscal Officer: Craig Richter

Claridon Township
Trustees: Roger Miller, Cooper Sherman, Jonathan Tiber
Fiscal Officer: Craig Richter

Hambden Township
Trustees: Paul Mohan, Keith McClintock, Scott Yamamoto
Fiscal Officer: Laura Chorman

Huntsburg Township
Trustees: Jon Hunter, Eric Peck, Nancy Saunders
Fiscal Officer: Michele A Saunders

Middlefield Township
Trustees: Mervin Miller, Paul Porter, Robert Troyer
Fiscal Officer: Mary Ann Pierce

Mountville Township
Trustees: Frank Antenucci, James Marsic, Randal Peterson
Fiscal Officer: Karen Hawkins

Munson Township
Trustees: Andrew Bushman, Jim McCaskey, Irene McMullen
Fiscal Officer: Judy Toth

Newbury Township
Trustees: Glen Quigley, William Skomrock, Jr., Greg Tropf
Fiscal Officer: Marcia Mansfield

Parkman Township
Trustees: Roger Anderson, Jon Ferguson, Dennis Ikeler
Fiscal Officer: Nina Reed

Russell Township
Trustees: Gary Gabran, Justin Madden, Jim Mueller
Fiscal Officer: Karen Walder

Thompson Township
Trustees: Erwin Leffel, Alfred Saflek, Frank Sirna
Fiscal Officer: Cindy Lausin

Troy Township
Trustees: Leonard A Barcikowski, Gerald Mitchell, Ken Zwolinski
Fiscal Officer: Kate Barcikowski

Read how the highligted  trustees have gone the extra mile for their townships.

Each of the foregoing individuals is a paid member of Geauga County Township Association and Ohio Township Association and authorized to attend the annual OTA winter conference in Columbus. Since OTA has been a member of the National Association of Towns and Townships (NATaT), each of these individuals has been eligible to participate in the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy (OTALA), a joint undertaking of OTA, OSU Extension, and Miami University’s Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs.

The stated purpose of OTALA is “to provide useful programs that will enhance the leadership and decision making skills of the township leadership team. A leadership diploma will be presented to each individual who successfully completes the program.” The requirements are submission of a registration form, .completion of a general workshop, six of ten elective workshops completed within a three-year period at OTA conferences, completion of the annual National Association of Towns and Townships (NATaT) conference.

NATaT’s stated mission is “to champion fair-share federal funding decisions and promote legislative and regulatory policies that strengthen grassroots local government. . .Today, NATaT’s Board of Directors has identified three pressing goals ensuring that . . .townships receive their fair share of federal funding: protecting the role of local governments in new telecommunications legislation and increasing funding for local first responders.” Included here is a NATaT catalog of outlined opportunities for townships via well-informed elected officials.

OOTA keeps a registry of all individuals who have decided to take part in the OTALA. In fact, the OTA database as of February 2019 consists of 575 individuals from the time period of 2005 to the present. One does not need to be an elected official to participate, only a full or associate member of OTA. Full members are elected township officials; associate members can be township appointees or members of the public who pay a reduced dollar amount to belong.

Of the 575 members of the database who have taken part in some capacity in OTALA, 24 Geaugans are part of the database. Of these 24 attendees, 9 are not currently serving in Geauga County Township government. These 9 are former Troy Trustee Enos Detweiler, former Chester Trustee Clay Lawrence, former Claridon Trustee Mary Briggs (who completed the OTALA program in 2006), former Bainbridge Trustee Linda White, former Chardon Township Trustee Joan Windnagel, former Burton Township Trustee Lou Mucci, Pat Bayer (township and office unknown from the data), Edward Ward (township and office unknown from the data), and former Chester Fiscal Officer Karen Austin (who completed all requirements except the NATaT conference).

Ten incumbent Geauga trustees have participated in the OTALA program:

From Auburn Township, Trustees PJ Cavanagh and Michael Troyan and Fiscal Officer Fred May have completed at least one requirement. Cavanagh attended the General Workshop at the 2013 OTA winter conference and wrote “YES” without a corroborating date for the Effective Meetings and the Conflict Management workshops. Troyan completed two of the ten elective workshops, one in 2006 and one in 2008. Fred May completed one of the ten elective workshops, one at OTA winter conference in 2013 and one (according to the database) at winter conference 2006 [NOTE: This may be an error because May was not a fiscal officer in 2006; perhaps, the correct date is 2016].

From Bainbridge Township only Trustee Lorrie Benza has been participating in the OTALA program since 2013, with completion of only the Decision-Making workshop out of ten elective workshops.

Burton Trustee Dan Whiting completed three workshops, one in 2006, one in 2008, and one in 2009; since the period of ten years has passed since his completion of one workshop with several requirements still uncompleted, the indication is that he will not complete the program.

FFrom Chardon Township, Trustee Michael Brown, who started the program in 2008, has completed the General Workshop and the required six elective workshops, the last in 2013. It appears that the only incomplete requirement is attendance of the NATaT workshop, though it would be six years after his last course work. Prediction of Mr. Brown’s success is therefore problematic.

Claridon Township Trustee Jonathan Tiber completed his very first OTALA workshop in January 2019.

Huntsburg Trustee Nancy Saunders completed four of six elective workshops nine years ago. Predicting success in completion of the program is problematic, since it is supposed to be no more than a three-year undertaking.

Munson Trustee Irene McMullen, who became involved with the OTALA program in 2009, has completed seven of the elective workshops, the last in 2011, but has not attended the NATaT conference. Because eight years have lapsed, it would seem difficult for her to complete the OTALA program.

Trustee Frank Sirna of Thompson signed up for the program in 2005, completing his sixth elective workshop, but no NATaT conference in 2009. Probability of his completion of the program appears slim to nil.

We are delighted to introduce to you four incumbent Geauga Trustees who have completed the OTALA program, in one case in just two years:

Bainbridge Trustee Jeffrey Markley, who completed 9 of the 10 workshops and NATaT conference and received his OTALA diploma in 2015

Munson Trustee Jim McCaskey, who completed 10 of the 10 workshops and NATaT conference and received his OTALA diploma in 2018

Middlefield Trustee Paul Porter, who completed every single requirement in the two-year period of 2018 and 2019 (January 30) and awaits receipt of his OTALA diploma at the 2020 OTA Winter Conference

Hambden Trustee Scott Yamamoto, who completed all his requirements on February 1, 2019, after attending the NATaT conference in summer 2017 and everything else in 2018 and 2019. He awaits his OTALA diploma at the 2020 OTA Winter Conference

Congratulations to these four stellar participants.

IIf we add up the total number of participants we arrive at 24 out of a possible 64 elected township officials eligible to perform. From the totals, it would appear that approximately one-third of the eligible participants from Geauga County actually chose to take on more skills about Conducting Effective Meetings, Communicating and Working with Media, Communicating and Working with Citizens, Building Sustainable Communities, Team Building, Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution and Leadership Skills and Styles or to avail themselves of the chance to find more funding opportunities other than tax levies imposed upon their citizens.

The conclusion is that  40 of 64 incumbent Geauga elected officials have not participated in the cost-free OTALA leadership program that OTA claims will make them better leaders and decision-makers. Worse, these individuals have closed the door on being able to guide their townships to apply for (and receive) federal grant and funding programs.

Is it any surprise that township trustee meetings often seem so incompatible with efficiency and transparency? Have your elected township officials completed the OTALA program to help your township qualify for more opportunities? If not, why not? Have your township officials at least taken the initiative to participate in the OTALA program? Do you need to ask them when and if they intend to complete the program or give up altogether?

Is your township one of those whose elected officials just never bothered to take on the OTALA leadership program even after as much as twenty years in township office? Do these officials deserve to be elected again? WHY???

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Is it difficult to balance your household finances? Do you have to make choices and declare priorities where your finances should go in order to do little things like pay your Geauga county real estate taxes, keep yourself fed, and perhaps a little “pin money” for dinner and a movie out?

Someone should let the Geauga Prosecutor, James Flaiz, know that he is outspending his budget. Does he think that the Commissioners are going to save his ass by giving him more spending money? Have they been watching his spending habits over the last five years? Is it time for them to exercise some tough love with their bad little boy so he is able to exercise more in-house fiscal and tactical responsibility instead of hiring outside legal help on stuff like the Big Pharma litigation and investigation, forensic “niche” work, and “pissing matches” with other professionals?

An examination of the Geauga Prosecutor’s fiscal activities from 2014 to the present helps us draw some sober conclusions. In 2014 the present prosecutor produced $362,305.40 of revenue while spending $1,595,870.92. That means the Prosecutor’s Department was in the hole for $1,233,565.52. What would have happened to a homeowner who, in the course of a single year, was in the hole for $1,233,565.52. Would the Geauga Treasurer have sent the homeowner a note warning of impending foreclosure for non-payment of real estate taxes? Would the lending institution have sent a written warning of the consequences of not paying the mortgage? Would the utility companies have sent warning notices of cancellation of services? Yes, yes, yes, and yes!!! But, you see and believe, not only does the Prosecutor still have his tangible location, the shingle over his head, but also he and his growing staff continue to collect their salaries. As you may know, the Prosecutor’s salary is determined, not by the Commissioners, but by statute. Prosecutorial staff, however, are compensated by the Commissioners.

Let’s cut the Prosecutor some slack and say he just had an off-year for which he would compensate. That would be a feel-good ending. . .except it hasn’t happened that way. Accounting records, in fact, demonstrate that during the course of five years, the Prosecutor’s Department has continued to demonstrate unsustainability. In 2018 the department brought in $328,521.57 while spending $1,910,378.35, putting the department in arrears for $1,581,856.78.

On December 31, 2018, the Geauga Prosecutor had brought in $33,283.83 less than his 2014 revenue, a decrease of 9.32% for the time period, or nearly 1.9% per year. As an employer, would you retain an individual who brought in less income every year? How employable in the real world is an individual who cannot maintain the revenue stream?

On December 31, 2018, the Geauga Prosecutor’s expenses of $1,919,378.35 demonstrated 28.23% more indebtedness than at the end of 2014. In fact, that number represents an annual growth of 5.65% indebtedness each year.

What is WRONG with this performance record?? Instead of turning his department around, Prosecutor Flaiz demonstrates to all Geaugans that there are no negative consequences for spending more and more beyond Geauga taxpayers’ means. We dare homeowners to try the same behavior to see how long they would have a job. Geauga County does not need a Prosecutor who is a LOSER. Let’s find a WINNER.

Published Monday, March 11, 2019

Over the past few years, electric vehicles and hybrids have emerged as viable alternatives to traditional gasoline vehicles.

EVs are clean, fun to drive, and are an especially great fit with solar. After all, what’s better than the idea of powering your car with sunshine!

But now, Ohio lawmakers have proposed a bill imposing high registration fees on electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. The House has already passed HB 62, which will impose annual registration fees of $200 on pure battery electric vehicles and a $100 annual fee on all hybrid vehicles.

Click here to urge your Senator to oppose HB 62 and unfair fees » Your State Senator is selected based on your zip code.

For Geauga County call:
18thDistrict – Senator John Eklund: 614/644-7718
32nd District – Senator SEAN J. O'BRIEN: 614/466-7182

These punitive and excessive fees discourage people from purchasing EVs and hybrids at a time when we should be encouraging these purchases.

Tell your senator you are opposed to the new fees on electric vehicles and hybrids. The Senate will be considering the House bill in hearings this Wednesday and Thursday, so please sign immediately so legislators have time to consider your voice!


Luke Sulfridge
Program Director
Solar United Neighbors of Ohio
Support our work

www.solarunitedneighbors.org 1350 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 412 Washington D.C., 20036

Published Friday, March 8, 2019

Most of our readers will recall the name Grace Gallucci as the Executive Director of Northeastern Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. She’s the one who wants to spend $600,000 of Federal Highway tax money to build a tube that will in minutes allegedly shoot people from Cleveland to Chicago (and maybe a few other unmentionable places) to rave reviews from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She also supports bicycle baths, like the one in Chardon, with tax funds that should be used to fund highway projects. As if that would not be enough to remember Gallucci, keep in mind that on February 22 she made a special trip to Columbus to yack up the reasons why Ohio legislators should raise the gasoline tax. No surprise, really, because she’s been talking up the extra bucks at Ohio gasoline purchasers’ expense for close to a year now.

Having made her debut before Ohio’s less-than-finest, she will preside over the NOACA quarterly meeting today in downtown Cleveland, where NOACA reps will rubber-stamp an endorsement backing the Ohio House’s grand fait accompli. Ohio Rep Jamie Callender last week told us the whole push to raise all this dough is to cover up the quiet Kasich bond purchase of about four years ago in lieu of raising taxes that might compromise Kasich’s Presidential run. In fact, the principle on that bond debt is due—like yesterday.

So as we get this commentary online, all the NOACA people are flooding into the Superior Avenue NOACA headquarters to savor their special flavored coffees and teas, fruit and cookies, and free lunch for sticking around for the whole morning. In the process they will also hear a bunch of drivel about the glorious raise in gas taxes and registration fees, in spite of pleas from Americans for Tax Reform for Ohio legislators not to set themselves up for the Yellow Vest movement, which has ripped France apart and resulted in suspension of the gasoline hikes, anyway.

Grace has already presented her great speech about the necessity of gas-tax hikes. In the NOACA endorsement this morning. these may be her take-away cameos at the expense of Ohio gasoline consumers who are held captive with their gasoline- and electric-energy consuming vehicles:

“The [Ohio House of Representatives] Finance and Audit Committee requested the development of a transportation funding position statement at its February 2019 meeting.” Are you sure, Grace, that it might not have been the other way around with your courting them?

“Due to inflation and the increased fuel efficiency of motor vehicles, Ohio’s [motor fuel user] fee is not [sic] longer adequate to maintain the state;s roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair. Furthermore, past additional revenues experienced through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and borrowing via Ohio Turnpike bonds has been exhausted through the end of June 2019. At an Ohio Association of Regional Councils (OARC) election forum in July 2018, then-candidate Mike DeWine promised to appoint a blue-ribbon task force, which he did, and which subsequent;y concluded that Ohio needs to raise the motor fuel user fee in order to meet transportation demands. . .At 28 cents Ohio ranks 29th in the nation, while we are 6th in the country in total vehicle miles traveled.” Again, Grace, words are cheaper than written documentation.

“NOACA strongly supports this opportunity to increase revenue to a sufficient level through an increase in the user fee or other alternate methods.” These are being touted in the House of Representatives Bill 62 as the increase in yearly registration fees of electric and hybrid vehicles to $200 and $100. respectively, on an annual basis. These are fees which can substantially discourage the growth and popularity of those vehicles. As an aside relating to the assertion, Ohioans are aware that the Rainy Day Fund in Ohio has escalated to about $3 billion. Why is DeWine holding out on the use of those funds to assist highway development if the problem is as imminent and critical as is being represented? Wouldn’t this be a good time not to horde the funds in the emperor’s cache if he would like to be anointed, er, elected again?

Grace continued, “In Northeast Ohio, cost estimates for repair and maintenance of existing assets within the locally maintained non-interstate system reflect a backing need of $892 million for pavements and $239 million for bridges.” Can you prove those numbers in writing, Grace?

“RESOLUTION [2019-013] OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE NORTHEAST OHIO AREAWIDE COORDINATING AGENCY WHEREAS, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the counties of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina, and the City of Cleveland, and the areawide water quality management agency for the same region. . .NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, consisting of 45 principal officials serving general purpose local governments throughout and within the counties of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Median that RESOLUTION 2019-013 (NOACA POSITION ON INCREASED FEES FOR TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE)

Gallucci’s going through the motions follows her February 22 appearance before the Ohio House of Representatives in February when she, as President of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils, which she took the pains to define as “24 agencies serving 1500 municipalities, villages, townships and counties. OARC members coordinate and work to streamline statewide services at the regional level, leverage federal resources [How do you pull that one off, Grace?], and serve as stewards of the state’s resource [Again, how do you pull that one off? It all sounds like a bunch of slick double-talk from Franz Kafka at Ohioans’ expense so NOACA can preempt $600,000 to explore a tube to Chicago instead of improving highways with designated funding instead of demanding more money in the style of France’s Yellow Vest Movement. . .

The rhetoric that Grace spread like peanut butter on soft new bread for the Ohio House on February 22 went further: “In every corner of Ohio we know the projects that are vitally needed tor educe congestion, improve the economy, maintain, our transportation systems in good repair, and keep Ohioans safe. . .A cutback in transportation investment will have a negative ripple effect throughout Ohio’s communities. The state cannot remain competitive if we do not invest enough to maintain and improve infrastructure. . . Reduced funding will also inhibit our communities ability to attract and retain businesses, jobs, and skilled workers. . .

Hey, Grace, you are full of undocumented rhetoric. While you were practicing your speech, the Lordstown plant shut down, losing 300 jobs. On top of it, you want all these unemployed “skilled” workers to bite the bullet and pay for more roads when Ohio’s governor and/or legislators are too stingy to use rainy-day funds just hanging around. No jobs, no extra gas taxes.

There are other undocumented rumors, Grace. Unfortunates who have lost their jobs figure you are pulling down a salary far in excess of $150,000. If so, why not share your Rainy Day Fund to “keep Ohioans safe” and to prevent “a negative effect throughout Ohio’s communities”?

Is there a revolution coming? A lot of skilled workers are watching and thinking and wondering if recent actions by their legislators and other highly-paid bureaucrats may not have stretched economic conditions in Ohio beyond a breaking point.

We will know the answer soon enough. . .

To: Members of the Ohio House of Representatives
From: Americans for Tax Reform

Published Thursday, March 7, 2019

Americans for tax reform

Dear Representative,

I write on behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across the state of Ohio to urge you to avoid approving a straight-up gas tax increase as you move forward with the state budget process.

There are many opportunities to improve Ohio’s tax and regulatory climate, like pursuing reductions in income tax rates, it’s important to first do no harm. As such, I urge that you reject the aggressive, but misguided push to hike the state gas tax.

A gas tax hike does the greatest harm to households who can least afford it. Coupled with gas tax prices that have been creeping up in Ohio, a gas tax hike would have especially adverse effects on the state’s lower income earners. Additionally, the 2003 gas tax increase failed to meet revenue projections.

Also consider that a state gas tax increase would counteract the benefits of federal tax reform and eat into Ohio taxpayers’ federal tax cut savings. This is one of the reasons why Congress has declined to raise the federal gas tax, despite pressure for them to do so.

According to Strategas Research Partners, 60% of the federal income tax cut would be wiped out by a $0.25 gas tax increase and rising prices.

In addition to being bad policy, a gas tax increase is bad politics. Ballot measures to hike state gas taxes were resoundingly rejected in Missouri, Utah, and Washington State just last year. Between that and the throngs of French citizens now protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s gas tax hike, which he just suspended, it’s clear that gas tax hikes are a political loser, both at home and abroad.

A significant gas tax increase is also being proposed in Minnesota, by a new Democrat Governor, with a Democrat-controlled House. Ohio’s Republican-led government can definitely do better.

We thank you for your past, and continued efforts on reforms that enhance the liberty of Ohioans and their opportunities for success, like licensing reform, criminal justice reform, tax relief, and regulatory reform. We trust a better option than a straight-up gas tax increase will be found.

If you have any questions or if ATR can be of assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me or Doug Kellogg, ATR State Projects Director, at dkellogg@atr.org or 202-785-0266.


Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Published Tuesday, March 5. 2019

An unusual thing happened at an Auburn Township Trustee meeting on Monday, March 4. It was crowded with about a dozen high-school students. They laughed that they all had to be there because their attendance at required civic meetings must be completed for their government class before the scholastic quarter ends on Friday. It was a captive audience for three crusty old trustees hungry for the sense that they make a difference. The captive audience-phenomenon occurs about once an academic year and last night it made its appearance like a blazing appearance of Halley’s Comet.

             Where is the road rightaway anyway             
From the observers’ seats we could almost see a gleam in the eyes of Master of Ceremonies John Eberly as he launched into his sage polemic about township, county, and state roads, just in case the captives had no knowledge. Careful to avoid any acid-reflux sarcasm which might drive his treasures out the township’s newly-installed glass front-door, Eberly spoke slowly and evenly. Washington Street, he said, is a county road. That means, he droned, that the township does not have the authority to do a single thing along, to, or with it, not even to pound a single post in the dirt.

And then, P.J. Cavanagh seemed to figure out his grand opportunity to use up some of his time in BS as well. He decided to romance the long-awaited project by which the Geauga County Engineer streamlines Washington Street by pulling the curb off in front of the cemetery a year or two from now. This was after he asked what should be done about the split-rail cemetery fence that was on its last legs. Put in a hedge, said, Eberly. Yeah, great idea, John, noted Cavanagh.

What else is great about the long-anticipated Washington Street project, said Cavanagh, is that the County Engineer will blend the pavement in with the approach to Shadyside Cemetery. Like, wow, isn’t this experience turning into a fab lesson for the high-schoolers?

And then, keep talking, Emrick Gordon noted at last that, hey, wait-a-minute, that fence has been in the Washington Street right-of-way for as long as anyone (including both Eberly and Cavanagh) could remember. So, gee, why would you shoot the breeze to the high-school students by talking about paying for new split-rail or hedges when the Engineer will only be pulling out the fence altogether when the project finally gets finished within the next two years?

Reality check. .

Auburn Trustees, you haven’t had a bumper crop of innocents of these proportions for YEARS! We think this would have been a time when just a little thinking ahead by shooting fewer words across the bow might have permitted “Auburn’s same ole’ same old” to demonstrate more smarts and ingenuity.

Nevertheless, there is a consolation prize. Remember, guys, you’ll get your chance again in 2020 when the Kenston academic quarter ends the first Friday in March! Don’t forget to do your homework, practice the twinkles in your eyes, and win those potential voters over.

By Rea S. Hederman Jr. executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy.
Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” “Money burns a hole in your pocket.” Such simple proverbs help children learn important lessons about saving and spending money. As Ohio enters its biennial budget process, state policymakers would do
Rea S. Hederman Jr.
Rea S. Hederman Jr.
well to apply those elementary lessons as they decide how to spend our tax dollars.

When Gov. John Kasich took office eight years ago, a grand total of 89 cents rattled around in Ohio’s rainy day fund. Through fiscal prudence and a growing economy, that fund has since grown to almost $3 billion. Despite that exponential growth and improvement, analysts from Moody’s still consider Ohio financially unprepared to weather even a moderate recession — one that some economists warn could be just around the corner — making fiscal prudence and proverbial wisdom all the wiser to follow.

So, as Gov. Mike DeWine crafts his first budget, three fundamental principles should guide his administration’s fiscal policy.

First, every dollar that Ohio spends comes from hardworking men and women — the taxpayers — and taxpayers know best how to spend their money. Taxpayers spend their money supporting their families, paying the mortgage, fixing the car and saving for retirement. They spend money on things that matter to them, things that improve life for themselves and their children.

Politicians, on the other hand, love to propose grandiose ways to spend other people’s money, from soccer stadiums to music venues, from public statues to special-interest advertising campaigns. Politicians spend our money on things that tend not to matter to us or our families, things that governments have no business supporting, and things that pale in comparison to the value of letting hardworking men and women keep more of their own money.

Gov. DeWine and his budget-makers would do well to remember where the state’s money really comes from and who knows best how to spend it.

Second, think long-term — plan more for tomorrow and worry less about today. Fixing short-term problems is much easier — and gets much more attention — than planning for the future. Consequently, long-term projects that may be fiscally wise and prudent are too often ignored in favor of short-term spending. But being short-sighted almost never pays.

Ohio’s infrastructure needs and looming public-pension shortfall are perfect examples. The new administration should focus on funding long-term projects that will benefit Ohioans for years to come: building and repairing roads, improving public-transportation systems and maintaining the integrity of Ohio’s aging infrastructure. Likewise, DeWine should use the upcoming budget to bolster Ohio’s books and make the public pension system solvent for the long-run.

Moody’s analysts have warned that delaying public pension payments is “a recipe for long-term fiscal disaster.” It would be wise to address the pension system before a rainy day comes.

Finally, it is better to refund than to receive. State policymakers should make every effort to give the money they don’t spend back to the hardworking people it came from: the taxpayers. Remember, “money burns a hole in your pocket” and unspent surpluses sitting in government pockets will only make it easier for bureaucrats and politicians to spend other people’s money on non-essential items and favored special-interest groups.

It is wise, of course, to maintain a robust rainy-day fund, but once that account has a healthy balance policymakers should give taxpayers a healthy refund and resist the temptation to spend money that doesn’t belong to them.

Gov. DeWine’s new administration inherits a financially healthier Ohio than his predecessor, but he and the General Assembly must continue building upon the fiscal discipline that has helped the state recover from the Great Recession by putting taxpayer needs first, saving and spending for tomorrow, and always remembering that the money Columbus has jingling in its pockets really belongs to the hardworking people of Ohio.

Published Saturday, March 2, 2019

The editorial team of AuburnTownship.org was privileged with seven other individuals to meet Lake County’s newly-elected representative to the Ohio House of Representatives, Jamie Callender. Mr. Callender was handily-elected in
Jamie Callender
Jamie Callender
House District 61
November 2018 as a Republican from Concord to represent District 61 (Concord, Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, LeRoy, Madison, Madison Township, North Perry, Perry Township, Waite Hills, Willoughby Hills, Mentor, and Painesville). Residents of those areas will recognize Jamie Callender as Ph. D. in Economics, an attorney, founder of The Callender Group, and adjunct professor for Kent State University.

For those who met with Representative Callender on Friday, March 1, 2019, the single-most burning issue is the growth of tax issues at the local, county, and state level which threaten to undermine the ability to achieve and maintain home ownership on a continuing basis. Among those individuals who attended was Brian Massie, founder of lobbyistsforcitizens.com, a think-tank for Lake County. He has determined that when the cost of home-and-property maintenance in the form of of MORTGAGE EXPENSES + UTILITY COSTS + TOTAL TAXES PAID EXCEED 30% OF ONE’S TOTAL INCOME. HOME OWNERSHIP BECOMES LESS AND LESS POSSIBLE. The most predictable outcome of such difficult financial straits is the loss of the private home, either by sale or foreclosure, because of lack of affordability. He presented some very credible documentation to Mr. Callender for reflection. We are including it here and here in this presentation as well. Readers may recall this situation being referenced as “self-inflicted eviction.”

AuburnTownship.org has drawn some similar conclusions by doing a micro-economic study of its own neighborhood in Auburn Township. That community on its official website continues to tout the premise that Auburn Township, as a result of 2010 census data, is the fastest-growing community in Geauga County. Nevertheless, the AuburnTownship.org study has concluded that in the Lindsay Lane-Jennifer Lane subdivision of fifteen private homes, six seniors are original owners who built their homes in the subdivision; another six of the homes have had sixteen owners, while the remaining three are empty nesters, one of whom currently has his house up for sale. (see spreadsheet here) The current owners with residency dating back more than ten years are senior citizens, the subject of this commentary.

The purpose of the visit to Representative Callender’s office was to demonstrate that tax liability is growing at a faster rate than income for residents on a fixed income in Lake and Geauga Counties. In fact, in the last few years with exorbitant revenues being raised for the Geauga County Library System and a new one being being touted by the Geauga County Park System since the purchase at about $1.5 million of the Wicked Woods Golf Course from Junction-Auto owners Ed and Connie Babcock, as well as results awaiting the 2019 Geauga County Auditor’s Property Re-evaluation program, there appears to be good reason to be fearful of exorbitant tax-payments in the very near future.

As for Mr. Callender, he seems much more concerned about the proposed 18 cent per gallon gasoline tax increase which has been the center of attention since Governor DeWine’s announcement of need to raise that revenue. Mr. Callender was at least able to explain how and why that gasoline tax is imminent and necessary. He attributes the issue to the political ambitions of John Kasich, starting about 2014. Readers will recall that Kasich made the rounds for a few years as a US Presidential hopeful. At a time when raising taxes in Ohio would have diminished his popularity as an electable President, Kasich, according to Representative Callender, chose instead to float a five-year bond for the purpose of maintaining/upgrading Ohio roads and highways. During that time period, vehicular gas consumption became more efficient, inflation cut into the value of the dollar in the Ohio governmental budget, and the actual value of the 28 cents-per-gallon tax is actually 18 cents, according to Mr. Callender.

Five years later the $1 billion plus principle from the bonds finagled by Kasich and added to the Ohio budget without apparently informing anyone including its legislators is due and payable as this article is being written . What is the easiest and least painful way to find the funds to pay that debt off? An increase in gasoline tax. Interestingly, the amount of tax that will cozily retire that $1 billion plus in principle happens to be the 18 cents that we have been reading about in the last couple of weeks since Mike DeWine has found it necessary to promote it. Jamie Callender noted that a lot of Ohio legislators had figured that 12 cents per gallon could have been sufficient, but 18 cents guarantees the payoff of the bondholders. The increase will be approved within the next couple of weeks, according to Callender, to assure that the gas tax hike can go into effect by July first, guaranteeing that the new tax is given at least ninety days to go into effect.

Although local media have reported that local governmental authorities have expressed enthusiasm for the tax increase because of the rumor that 40% of the revenue raised will go for local government funds, Callender has expressed that the 40% figure is by no means guaranteed.

In response to the premise that senior citizens and those on fixed incomes are being taxed out of home-ownership, Representative Callender left the suggestion that officials elected at the state level would be wise to follow the example of Tennessee, which has been able to eliminate a state income tax altogether but initiate a sales or consumption tax of 10%. As a result of its progressive stance on state finance, Tennessee has gained two more federal legislators while Ohio has lost two. In addition, Callender speculated that in order to make the Ohio budget bill may be necessary to raise residential monthly electrical bills by $1-2 in order to salvage the Perry nuclear plant at the same time that legislators settle for less than an 18 cent gasoline tax hike and work on reducing Ohio income tax. The last proposal echoes that of Ohio House of Representatives Speaker, Larry Obhof.

So, if, readers, you are feeling alarm at the increasing number and dollar amount of tax levies to the point that the only solution is elimination of home ownership, join the ranks of northern Ohioans, including seniors. If you expect any kind of immediate assistance from your legislator(s), it might be a long haul. Maybe, then, the time to get organized with protests against increased spending for tax issues is NOW. Another issue exacerbating this tax problem is the ever increasing number of properties being placed in land conservancies resulting in a reduced tax base.

By Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American
Published Saturday, March 2, 2019

Extremely respectful and supportive of Islam, Barrack Husein Obama was more hostile to Christianity than any other US president.

Loyd Marcus
Loyd Marcus
With the election of President Trump, prayer has made a striking comeback in the political arena. Everywhere I turn, I hear people asking fellow Americans to pray for our president. During a conference call, VP Mike Pence asked religious leaders to pray for president Trump. President Trump humbly asked for our prayers. “Trump Prayer Warriors” is one of several Facebook groups advocating praying for our president. Christian leaders contributed prayers to a book titled Prayers for the President. Why are so many Americans feeling an urgent need to pray for our president and country?

Mainstream media seek to convince us that a majority of Americans embrace their anti-Christian anything-goes-sexually agenda. The truth is, millions of Americans are disturbed by our nation’s cultural and moral decline. Why don’t you accept it and move on? Every time we allow ourselves to become desensitized to a deviance, Democrats introduce another more evil. Who could imagine that Democrats would seek to legalize pedophilia and murdering babies even after they are born?

Our nation was shocked when Democrats in New York responded with a standing ovation to passing a bill to kill babies even on the date of birth. Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, kicked Democrats’ evil up to a new extreme by defending a bill to murder babies after birth. Rather than backing away from this demonic idea, other Democrat states are pushing to pass laws to murder babies on their birth dates. In a sane world, how could these evil people get elected? Rush Limbaugh theorizes that because Democrats fear the overturn of Roe v. Wade, they seek to kill as many babies as possible.

For years, Planned Parenthood claimed that abortion is okay because they are only removing an unviable tissue mass, not a baby. Technology confirms that it is a baby. “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5). Planned Parenthood now says it does not matter that it’s a baby. A mother has a moral right to abort her baby for any reason she deems necessary before or after birth.

By Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Is Republican Gov. Mike DeWine a socialist? If this was Minnesota, he might be given that label for his proposal to raise the gas tax by 18 cents.

GOP leaders in that state are attacking the governor for a remarkably similar proposal -- a hike of 20 cents a gallon.

The big difference in Minnesota? The governor, Tim Walz, is a Democrat.

“More taxes for you, Minnesota!” wrote Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan in her weekly email blast, which began by calling Democrats the "New Socialist Party of America." Carnahan invited voters to share their stories with the party about the harm they would suffer from Walz's proposal.

“I don’t know about you, but my Ford Escape has a 14-gallon tank which I fill approximately 1.5 times per week," Carnahan wrote. "At this new rate, I’ll be paying $732 a year in gas tax!!!!”
Not just a 70% gas tax increase: @GovTimWalz wants to hike other taxes on Minnesota drivers too. #mnleg pic.twitter.com/7ggxhvxViS

— MN House Republicans (@mnhousegop) February 21, 2019
It’s striking how similar the Minnesota and Ohio proposals are. Minnesota’s current state gas tax is 28.6 cents per gallon, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. Ohio’s is 28 cents per gallon. What’s different is which party controls which state.

Minnesota Republican state lawmakers have vowed to oppose Walz’s tax-hike request, according to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, a Republican, called the gas tax “one of the most regressive taxes” and called on Walz to find money for road and bridge funding elsewhere in the state budget.

Paul Gazelka, the top Republican in the GOP-controlled Minnesota senate, said: “It’s not something we’re just going to move to the middle on.”

Walz has pitched his proposal as a means to keep the state’s roads and bridges safe and accessible, similar to DeWine's pitch.

“This is not a choice between whether we want the gas tax or not. It is a choice between living in a state with the best transportation system in the country or one with crumbling roads and bridges that risk our safety and keep away businesses,” he said in a budget briefing, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

In Ohio, Republican leaders have been reasonably supportive of — or at least quiet about — DeWine’s request, which he formally introduced Thursday. Republican House Speaker Larry Householder has said he’s open to hiking gas taxes.

“When you look at the case that Gov. DeWine has laid out, it certainly shows that there’s a need for some additional revenue in order to maintain the investments the motorists of the state of Ohio have already made in the highways across our state,” Householder told reporters on Tuesday at a political forum organized by the Ohio Associated Press.

Larry Obhof, the top Republican in the GOP-controlled Ohio Senate, has been more circumspect in his feelings on a gas-tax hike.

“We’re at the beginning of our legislative process,” Obhof said earlier this week.

Ohio Democrats, who are a minority in both chambers of the Ohio state legislature, have shared reservations about DeWine’s proposal to raise gas taxes in Ohio.

In a committee hearing in Columbus Thursday morning, Brigid Kelly, a Cincinnati Democrat, noted that the gas tax affects the poor the most, and it’s considered a “regressive tax.”

“To people in this room, it may not seem like that much, but for people trying to make ends meet, that can be prohibitive” for them to get to work and school, she said.

Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat and former leader of the Ohio Democratic Party, has posted on his Twitter account that DeWine’s gas-tax hike would represent a 64 percent increase.

“The governor’s proposed $2 billion tax increase is a tremendous amount of money to working people, families and seniors - people who have done everything right, but are now being asked to do even more,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes in a statement. “We’ll be evaluating the governor’s proposed tax increase and working with our Republican colleagues to determine a path forward that doesn’t overburden people living paycheck to paycheck.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper largely has focused on the irony that DeWine is asking to raise taxes after spending last year’s campaign accusing his Democratic opponent, Richard Cordray, of planning to raise taxes once he assumed office.

Will Ohio's Republican Party leaders condemn DeWine's proposal, as their counterparts up north have?

That seems unlikely.

In a statement, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said: “Ohioans elected Governor DeWine because he is willing to take Ohio’s biggest challenges head on and make responsible decisions now to help move Ohio forward.”

11th District said judge improperly dismissed case against Portage GOP
by Diane Smith, Kent Record-Courier
Monday, February 25, 2019

Any sports coach will tell you that an ugly win is still a win.

And to Brian Ames, a win on a technical issue is still a victory.

Ames, a Randolph resident who has sued Portage County officials more than 10 times over the past few years, recently got a victory in the 11th District Court of Appeals. The court ruled in his favor on a procedural issue, agreeing that an area judge dismissed his case against the Portage County Republican Party without the proper motion being filed by the party’s attorneys.

Brian AmesThe case now goes before the Portage County Common Pleas Court, where an outside judge is expected to hear the case on March 26.

“It’s important that these things be run by the rules,” he said.

Ames filed the case about a year ago with the Supreme Court of Ohio against Judge Richard Reinhold Jr., a retired Stark County judge who has overseen some cases in Portage County.

The original case, filed in April 2017, was against the Portage County Republican Party, of which Ames is a member. Ames claimed that the party’s main committee was not operating according to Ohio law, and that the party should have both a Central Committee and an Executive Committee, instead of a combined committee that the party now has. He asked the court to declare that the combined committee is a “ sham organization, that its bylaws are sham, that the true controlling committee of the Republican Party consists of those committeemen duly elected and qualified or appointed by law, The Statutory Members.”

Then in January 2018 Ames filed a complaint that Reinhold dismissed that case without any motion for dismissal filed. Ames said Reinhold scheduled a hearing on the sanctions after the case had already been dismissed.

Although the appellate court did not rule on the main case against the local GOP, Ames said comments made by one of the appellate judges in the ruling gives him confidence that the case will eventually be decided in his favor.

To Ames, such details are important because the party helps make sure that elections are fair. The party also can appoint some elected officials if that official resigns, as it did when it appointed Sabrina Christian-Bennett to succeed former Portage County Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsillo in 2014.

Ames likens appointing additional members to the committee to what would happen if former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were to appoint additional members to the House of Representatives. That, he said, would dilute the votes of elected members so he could continue to keep himself in power in the next Congress. He said that letting some party leaders have too much power is similar to Tammany Hall the political machine that dominated New York ?City Politics for 80 years.

“Most of these local party members don’t challenge these things,” he said. “They just say, ‘We’ll let Boss Tweed do what he wants.”

Ames is not stranger to challenging things that other don’t want to deal with/ A while back, he learned that most violations of public meeting act violations aren’t challenged in court because it costs too much money to hire attorneys. Ames challenges them as a “prose” party, meaning that he represents himself and pays only a small filing fee.

One time he challenged meeting procedures in Brimfield. His victory in that case changed the system, and trustees are now specific about the reason to hold an executive session.

“They will now be a model for how local governments should operate in this county,” he said lat year.

Jonathan Jennings, chairman of the Portage County Party, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Published Sunday, February 24, 2019
By Brian Massie

Thanks to our patriot friend named George for the heads up on this Oho legislator’s proposed changes in the property tax law. (See cleveland.com)

We will be reaching out to Representative Merrin to see how we can help him to get this legislation passed.

Please note the fact that the public schools have paid lobbyists fighting for them.

“Barbara Shaner, a lobbyist for the professional association that represents public school administrators, said Merrin’s proposed language doesn’t capture the complexities of how property taxes are calculated, like tax rollbacks or the differences in how residential, agriculture and commercial properties are valued.”

A paid lobbyist for the public school administrators? We have to admit that this is new news to us. We will try to find out more about who they are, who writes the checks to them, and what they are paid on an annual basis.

We are going to go out on a limb here……….how many of you think that the public school administrators are paying this lobbyist out of their own personal funds?

What if the schools are using our tax dollars to hire the lobbyists to fight any legislator that tries to pass laws that help the taxpayers understand school property taxes?

We smell a huge deception being played on the taxpayers. Sometimes the more you stir the pot, the worse it stinks!

Let’s “pull back the curtain” a little —–

We found the following information on-line:
Taxpayer-funded lobbying is when public entities, including counties, cities, state schools, and public facilities, lobby with money received from taxes. This lobbying can be explicit, such as membership in government sector lobbying associations or advocacy before a legislative body. The practice can be more subtle, such as school districts hosting legislators for a breakfast to create favorable relationships with legislators.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations (TFLAs) are groups that use funds that come directly or indirectly from taxpayers for political lobbying purposes. Local entities—cities, counties, school district—use taxpayer funds to pay membership dues to a group such as the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. That association then lobbies or pays money directly to lobbyists to promote or oppose legislation. These associations tend to be 501(c) organizations.
Oh, exposing this deception will be fun……when they “feather their own nest” (add link) at the expense of the taxpayers, then they will be exposed….

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Geauga County Planning Commission, in the absence of its former planning director, has been working with Portage County Planning Director, Todd Peetz. Mr. Peetz was quick to communicate in the meeting of February 12, 2019, that planning in Geauga County has “been quiet” with only twelve new applications in the last three weeks. He explained that initially he and his Planning Commission had been concerned that his action as interim Geauga County Planning Director would have required a great deal of activity and action, “as much as forty hours per week.” This conclusion leads this writer to question just how much activity the former Geauga Planning Director, a retire-rehire veteran of nearly forty years in the department, actually had engaged or non-engaged in without too many others being made aware? Was it possible that the role of Geauga County Planning Director has been one of the best-kept secrets in Geauga County, perhaps akin to the activities of the former Geauga County Auditor, the former IT Director, and perhaps a few more yet to be discovered? For those with a pretty good memory, the former Planning Director had been known to be in the salary range of $100,000 even as a retire-rehire. . . The acting Portage County Planning Director told everyone gathered yesterday that he has been able to do the job quite comfortably on just “six-to-eight hours a week.” In the search for a new planning Director, the acceptance of a new corporation to develop an improved County Plan, and the addition of a new and improved Economic Plan, one would have expected Mr. Peetz to feel overwhelmed. What does this mean?

Additionally, during the reporting of expenses, it was reported that of appropriations of $172,871 nearly $18,000 was spent within just the most recent month. If you think about the math here, the amount of money that the Planning Commission must spend prudently is the remaining $154,888, or approximately $15,489 per month? There is speculation that with the vacation-hours accumulated by the former director, a large part of the payout might be attributed to the late director’s pay for a huge number of “vacation hours.” While no one present at the meeting asked for an accounting during that meeting of the vast payout, a request was heard at the end of the meeting to examine the excessive expenditures and report back to the Planning Commission members in March what possibly could have caused expenditures which could wipe out appropriations by October 2019.

Finally, there was a discussion at the end of the meeting about irregularities about a document known as Model Zoning, a document which had existed on the Geauga County Planning Commission website for many years, but within the last several years the document had disappeared from the website of the Planning Commission to have instead appeared without permission from Planning Commission members at the website of the Geauga County Prosecutor, Jim Flaiz, when he wrote that the Model Zoning document was the property of that office. As reported yesterday by Planning Commission Chairman, Charles Stevens, there apparently had been some unannounced changes during 2018 in that document without Planning Commission members having been made aware of them. Mr. Stevens noted his own awareness of the content of the Model Zoning document upon his appointment to the commission in early 2016. When he re-examined the document very recently, he discovered without explanation or notification that Model Zoning had changed inexplicably during 2018: Section 4 in September and Section 17 in October. Commissioner Lennon as well expressed dismay in the changes in the document without being notified. In Mr. Lennon’s words, the changes were the “work of one man.” Did he mean the former Geauga County highly-paid former Geauga County Planning Director, the claimant of many, many hours of vacation time that he apparently had never claimed until his official retirement?

In Mr. Stevens’ own words, Model Zoning is a special document. “There should be a procedure to institute any changes in the Model Zoning. The Board’s [Planning Commission’s] responsibility for ownership demonstrates the need for Model Zoning to be a visible public document.”

How much more disillusionment must Geauga taxpayers experience because of some individuals who have not, and continue not, to play by the rules, particularly those assigned by ORC to County Planning Commissions?

There will be more. . .Stay tuned.

Published Monday, February 11 2019

The disgraced former Auditor Frank Gliha pled guilty to four of five counts of Dereliction of Duty for allowing the theft of $1.8 million from the taxpayers of Geauga County. He lost his job, had his hand slapped, was ordered to pay a nominal fine and can’t run for office for four years.

Didn’t Prosecutor James Flaiz played a bigger role in the embezzlement? Flaiz is a member of the Automatic Data Processing Board (ADP). It’s Mission Statement is:

“[p]rovide the highest level of technology in the most effective and efficient manner in the most realistic time frame for the most reasonable cost.”

In other words, the ADP is supposed to be guarding the financial hen house of the county. Flaiz, as prosecutor, is automatically a member of the board (ADP Board). Even though Frank Gliha took full blame for what happened under his watch, Flaiz was warned from June 2014 to September 2017 that money was missing. This information was even brought out at the sentencing of Stephanie Stewart whose father, the late Stephen Decatur, ran the financial scam for eight years. A former county employee, Heidi Delaney, tried to warn Flaiz twenty-three times that something was wrong. (Delaney).

Flaiz attended eleven of the seventeen ADP meetings between June 2014 and September 2017 and, apparently, never said anything to anyone about Delaney's concerns of missing money (ADP meetings.) After the **** hit the fan in September 2017, though, his attendance improved.

The only reason Flaiz finally initiated an investigation was because a second county employee came forward and forced the issue. To date the debacle has cost taxpayers: $246,739.11, beside the $1.8 million. And that's not the end of it because the totally worthless trial of a company in Texas that laundered the money for Decatur is approaching. Why? No one can really say. It also came out at the Stewart hearing that one of the two defendants from Texas has been dismissed and the other has been promised no jail time since the company's insurance is going to pay something.

Of the $246,739.11, $82,001.71 went to the law firm, McGlinchey Stafford) and $164,737.40 went to Skoda Minotti, an accounting company. (201900204083126410) and (20190204083129033)

Flaiz brags continuously how he has the only forensic expert in the county, Richard Warner, on his staff as an investigator. If so, why was the Skoda Minotti bill so high? How much work did Warner do and how much of an expert is he really?

Richard Warner worked at the the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) with Dennis Sweet, the husband of Karen Sweet, an investigator in Flaiz's office. Warner was fired at the end of his probationary period with BCI on May 15, 2009, in a letter that said: Unfortunately, we have not seen the level of performance necessary during your probationary period to warrant continued employment with the office." He got his job back in July 2009 through involvement of the police union. (Warner's lack of ability)

Warner quit BCI in April 2016 and was hired the following month by Flaiz for $75,000 a year plus another 30% in benefits. (Warner Employee info) Was this done as a favor by Flaiz because Warner was a friend of the Sweets? Did Geauga County really need another investigator?

Because of Flaiz ignoring warnings of two dedicated county employees about missing money, the theft went on for three more years. How much money did taxpayers lose because of Flaiz's lack of action? $800,000? A million? Add to that the debt incurred of $246,739.11 for a forensic accounting company and a law firm. And what will the next trial cost? So far Geauga County has recovered about $464,000 from its insurance company against a loss of $1.8 million, and with the additional costs incurred now totals more than $2 million.

Again - why is Flaiz still the prosecutor and why has he not been charged with Dereliction of Duty? He ignored warnings for three years that money was missing from the Auditor's Office and did nothing. If that isn't Dereliction of Duty, what is?

It's time for the taxpayers to look around for a new prosecutor. Flaiz is up for re-election next year. We can't afford him anymore.

Susan Daniels

By Ed DeGraffinried, Accurate Tax Service
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019

If every tax payer reads this story, and becomes proactive, they may be able to save billions of dollars this year. Let’s start with ways the IRS gets to keep too much of your money, actually it’s within the law:
1. They have sponsored programs, such as VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) and TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly). In the VITA Program, volunteers do your taxes free if your income is not over $54,000. There are a few problems that allow too much of your money to stay with the IRS. Many people, some in that same category, say to me “I do my own taxes or my friend does my taxes free.”
a. Many volunteers are students learning to do taxes, others might be bored retirees. I commend these people for their effort to give back to their communities; but, many mistakes are made because most volunteers are not experienced tax accountants. Approximately 30% of the returns I looked over after they were done “FREE” had errors, and about 80% of those errors gave too much of your money to the IRS. Here are a few examples.

b. A young lady called for me to do her 2010 taxes, and I asked her to bring her 2009 return for a second look. I informed her that her refund was short by $4,000 because she did not get her $3,000 Earned Income Tax Credit, nor her $1,000 Education Credit. She said the person that did her free return, told her she was not eligible for EIC because her baby was born in August 2009 and did not live with her more than six months. She paid $36,000 in College Tuition, but it was input as Tuition and Fees, which is not refundable. The input should have been for the American Opportunity Credit, which provides up to $1,000 refund.

c. A person was recently directed to my tax office by a current client who knew she was not suppose to be taxed again when drawing the original contribution from a Roth IRA regardless of age. Unfortunately, the three year statute of limitation had expired and she could not get her $1,158 that was double taxes paid when she withdrew funds from her Roth IRA in 2011. She was also double taxed $3,650 by having it done at the same free place again in 2014. The expired statute of limitation is actually a legal way for the IRS to hold onto your tax over payment.

d. IRS Tax Tip on healthcare 2014-07, implemented in March of 2014, but made retroactive for 2013 and 2014, allows states to pay parents TAX FREE money for taking care of their disabled adult children at home. This program has not been very well publicized; therefore, most tax preparers don’t know about it. A couple had been over paying one of the big 3 for tax preparation, until one of my long time clients sent them to me in 2017 for preparing their 2016 taxes. They brought several years of returns for us to take a second look. They had over paid an average of $10,000 per year 2012 through 2015. We amended their returns for all four years and crossed our fingers and toes, LOL. They were immediately paid for 2014 and 2015. The statute of limitation had expired for 2012. I had them sign all four amended returns and stapled each year separately. The IRS sent the 2013 return back, stating they did not get signatures because the second page was missing. After they signed and sent it to them again after April 15 of 2017, they said it was too late, which is a common practice of theirs. I watched them sign everything.
Due to time and space, we only listed a few of the many situations witnessed during the last few years. The IRS does not keep your money illegally, but congress should not limit the time needed for tax payers to prove the IRS owe them money!
2. Most scammers that take advantage of other tax payers are disguised as professional tax preparers. I’m fed up with them taking other people’s money, so I will give you a few examples of how they work. Those that scam the IRS is beyond the scope of this article.
a. The biggest and first red flag is when the preparer does not give you a copy of YOUR tax return.

b. A person came to my office a few years back and brought IRS transcripts of her previous years returns, because her aunt’s friend who said she did the returns free but did not give her a copy. I looked at the first return and asked why did her refund go into two checking accounts. She said that she only had one bank account. The preparer had sent over $2,000 to the tax payer, and $300 to the “FREE” tax preparer’s checking account. My client asked her aunt to get a transcript and, you guessed it, the same thing had happened.

c. A lady came into my office a couple weeks ago and said she wanted to get a house but the bank told her the last 2017 return was done incorrectly. I saw $39,000 of business expenses. She looked very surprised when I asked what kind of business she operates. She wasn’t given a copy of the return until the client demanded it for the bank. I asked her what happened to her $980 state refund. She said that she was not expecting one. We called the Ohio Department of Taxation, and was shocked when told that the money had gone on a card that did not belong to the client. The preparer said she had only charged $125.

d. One of my clients has a daughter living in Michigan. The daughter called and faxed a copy of the audit letter she had gotten from the IRS, asking her to explain the $40,000 business expense deduction. She was not given a copy of her tax return, and was told that she broke even, but the transcript showed that a $9,000 refund had gone into an unknown checking account. When she went back to the other tax preparer, they had moved out and left the office empty.

e. Another lady earned about $19,000 and only had one W2. Her refund for 2012 and 2013 was around $11,000 each year, so one of the big 3 had charged $700 and $600. It’s illegal to charge a percentage or any fee based on the refund.
My bio: I’m a Master Tax Consultant, have an EMBA from Baldwin Wallace University, taught 4 levels of accounting at the college level, have taught aspiring CPA interns, and other one on one students for 15 years. My job is to get your maximum refund, LEGALLY. If your dependent children work, their return must state “dependent of another.”

If your kids file their return first, and this is not done correctly, you cannot efile your return. If we file your return, and you claim your dependent children, we do their tax returns absolutely free.

New clients, bring this letter, or a copy into my office and get a 50% deduction. Phone 440-252-7103.

Published Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Mark your calendars, Northern Ohioans, for February 26. That is the date that voters in the City of Toledo will vote on a special charter amendment that will appear on the ballot because enough valid signatures from Toledoans were gathered. It is apparently insignificant to the issue that neither Toledo City Council, Toledo Board of Elections, nor the Ohio Supreme Court has supported the measure. On the contrary, these entities have expressed negative opinions about the measure, but voters will determine its outcome anyhow on February 26, just shy of three weeks from now.

Lake Erie Bill of Rights mapWhat is the Lake Erie Bill of Rights [LEBOR]? If it is passed by voter majority on February 26, it is a charter amendment in Toledo that will give Lake Erie and the Lake Erie Watershed the right to exist and flourish, permitting organisms, soils, and ecosystems not only to exist but also to evolve and flourish.

If this charter amendment is successful on the February 26 Toledo ballot, any state and/or federal license granted to a Toledo business, industry, farm, or agribusiness [or those in the 36 Northern Ohio counties stretching east to west across Ohio] that violates the right of organisms, soils, and ecosystems of the Lake Erie Watershed to flourish shall be invalidated. Moreover, the City of Toledo and/or any citizen(s) are entitled to bring suit against the entity in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas Court. Not only will the business/agricultural entity be struck down, but also the plaintiff will have the right to recover ALL COSTS OF LITIGATION AND DAMAGES WITHOUT ANY LIMITATION. The damages will be measured by the cost of mitigation and restoration of the Lake Erie ecosystem, but at this time there is no understanding of what organization or which individuals will carry the responsibility of the restoration process. Understand additionally that the only place where the defendant can provide defense for his/her actions is the the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas Court. LEBOR, if successful would be the first Right of Natural Law in the United States to protect an ecosystem.

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, an organization to which thousands of Ohioans belong as a result of purchasing Nationwide Insurance or identifying themselves as farmers, ranchers, raisers of livestock, has gotten involved in LEBOR. In the fall of 2018 OFBF filed an amicus curiae [a friend of the court] letter that successfully kept the issue off the Toledo fall ballot. As it became apparent that the issue would be offered again on the Toledo ballot on February 26, OFBF filed another amicus in January that was turned down by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Since Farm Bureau believes that farms, and particularly large livestock operations, will be the most obvious focus of attention from Toledo supporters of Lake Erie ecosystems, the organization is urging agricultural entities to enroll as an Agricultural District with their county auditors. Agricultural Districts provide some defense for farmers who engage in activities which might be identified by some residents as nuisance operations because of noises, smells, or unpleasant sights.

Farm Bureau in its publicity campaign has expressed its belief that any business operating within the Lake Erie Watershed could be targeted by Toledo residents if the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is successful on February 26. The result, according to Farm Bureau, is the possibility of thousands of lawsuits and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses to be realized before and until the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is determined to be unconstitutional. Farm Bureau notes that NO OHIO COURT has of this writing granted standing in a legal case to an inanimate object, such as Lake Erie, or a feature of nature, such as soils. Additionally, the Farm Bureau argument is that if the Lake Erie Bill of Rights is successful, the power of the City of Toledo and its citizens to bring litigation against individuals, agricultural entities, and businesses in 36 northern counties, including Geauga, Lake, Ashtabula, Portage,Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and many others, far exceeds its municipal authority.

We urge our readers to stay aware of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and the negative consequences it threatens to hold for the economic survival all of Northern Ohio agriculture, agribusiness, business, and industry.

By Tom Niewulis
Published Sunday, January 28, 2019

Is The Public Pension Crisis Affecting Everyone?   
Wharton School of Business posted an article/pod cast in August 2018 regarding “The Time Bomb Inside Public Pension Plans.” On the pod cast, Wharton’s Olivia Mitchell and Leora Friedberg of the University of Virginia discuss the $4.4 trillion public sector pension shortfall. The research is very clear that these Public Pension plans have been it trouble for years and the chickens are coming home to roost.

What’s that mean for Ohio?
About a year ago everyone was getting excited that the five Ohio Public Pension programs were really hitting the growth numbers in "Big returns help bolster Ohio’s five public pension funds" and all would be well. Yet when one follows the other links in the noted article one will see that the candy in the jar is really all paper wrappers. In fact we will have to start back five months earlier to September 2017 and an article from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, titled “Ohio’s Worsening Pension Crisis” that opens with “Ohio’s unfunded pension liability was an estimated $312 billion in fiscal year 2015, a $50 billion increase from the previous year. This figure, measured using a risk-free discount rate, equals 62 percent of the state’s aggregate personal income—that is, residents’ total earnings from wages, investments, and other sources of income.”

Here from the Mercatus Center article is a really interesting and scary comment when we consider all the “special class of citizens” created by the Boards of the various County “taxing Subdivisions”: “The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has only a 50 percent chance of being able to meet its obligations by 2037–just two decades from now.”

So why is it that the various Boards of the “taxing Subdivisions” use the County’s taxpayer dollars to fund 100% of the retirements for key individuals hired by the Boards? Do you get 100% of your retirement paid for by your employer or do you have to contribute?

One Thoughtful Remedy
Let us consider this remedy as one that any business owner would. Or even better, let’s look at it from the home owner’s perspective that when the next flurry of Levies comes up in May or any special election, hard questions are asked about the “special class of citizens” working for the entity wanting Levy dollars.

Here are several thoughts to check off:
• What if the Citizens begin to ask questions as to which County Boards were paying 100% of the benefits and for which employees?
• What if the Citizens demand to know if the ‘retirement buy outs’ are funded?
• What if the Citizens demand of the County Commissioners to press on those they appoint to the various taxing Subdivision Boards to take deep dives into the financial statements?
• What if the Citizens demand that anyone hired or presently employed by the various taxing Subdivision Boards change the compensation plans to meet what is common in the private sector? That means that everyone in the public sector pays a portion of their benefits especially into their retirement.
For the most part many public employees in public safety and education do pay somewhere around or up to 14% of their retirement out of their paycheck. Yet, as the Mercatus Center article points out, “Other plans at even greater risk of not meeting obligations include the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System, the Ohio School Employees Retirement System, and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.”

Ouch! That is a whole other area to investigate. But let’s focus on those taxing Subdivision Boards that are going to be coming after your property taxes. Remember that increasing property taxes cut into your disposable income!

In the four preceding articles of this series we know that in general Levies are proven to be ‘Unaffordable.’ We now know that there is a National Pension Crisis in the Public Employee Pensions. We also know that Ohio has a critical problem with the Public Pension System, too.

We also know that unbeknownst to the everyday property tax-paying Citizen, the taxing Subdivision Boards have created a ‘special class of citizen’ that for all mathematical purposes has exasperated the problem of the Public Pension issue to the extent that you are not taxed enough to fix it.

So when the Levies come around these next cycles, and they will, ask yourself:

By voting for this Levy am I causing “Self-Inflicted Eviction” when I can no longer afford my Property Taxes?

Additional Resource:
1. Mercatus Center: 2016, Ohio Public Pension System, Erick M. Elder and David Mitchell
2. Dayton Daily News: Sept 20,2017, 1 million Ohio public employees, retirees may see pension cut
3. Mercatus Center: 2016. The Extent and Nature of State and Local Government Pension Problems and a Solution, Mark J. Warshawsky and Ross Marchand
4. Dayton Daily News: Feb 27, 2018, Big returns help bolster Ohio’s five public pension funds, Laura A. Bischoff
5. Reason Foundation: Dec 1, 2017, Struggling Ohio Pensions Seek Ways to Cut the Growing Costs, Anil Niraula
6. Culture Cheat Sheet: June 3, 218, The 15 States Making America’s Pension Crisis Worse, Jason Rossi

Published Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Although the Geauga Commissioners have heard little from Prosecutor Jim Flaiz in regard to the Big Pharma Multi District Litigation (MDL) filed in early 2018 by an outside legal firm that he hired to do the job for him in early 2018, he made an appearance at this morning’s Commissioner meeting to discuss Item Number 9: “The Prosecutor’s Office is requesting the Board approve and execute Resolution 19-015 Requesting the Prosecuting Attorney to File a Brief on Behalf of Geauga County in the Pending Action in Federal Court Challenging Ohio’s Current Congressional District Boundaries.” Commissioner Lennon was very quick to indicate that he had asked for Flaiz’s assistance on this issue after receiving a phone call from Lake County Commissioner Jerry Cirino asking for intervention in the cited litigation.

The litigation referenced was filed on behalf of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and several individual registered Democratic electors from many areas that were redistricted in 2011 as a result of the 2010 Census and the preponderance of Republican members in the Ohio General Assembly and the apparent overwhelming power of the the Republican Party in that redistricting process. The legal action, one of many filed in multiple states since 2016, would appear to be a reaction to recent Republican national and state successes.

The Randolph Institute is described by Wikipedia as an organization composed of African-American trade-unionists and registered Democratic voters. It has initiated litigation in federal courts in other states. Most recently (July 2018) it was the victor in litigation it initiated in Michigan federal court protesting unequal treatment of voters because of the manner in which US House of Representatives were redistricted there. Additionally, there have been recent victories ensuing from similar litigation in Wisconsin, North Carolina .

The case at bar resulting in Geauga County involvement was filed, like the MDL case, in early 2018. Unlike the MDL which was filed in US Federal Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, this new case was filed in US Federal Court for the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati. The latter case is identified as 1:18-cv-00357-TSB. It is styled as A. Philip Randolph Institute, League of Women Voters of Ohio, et al. v. Ryan Smith, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives; Larry Obhof, President of the Ohio Senate; and Jon Husted, Secretary of State of Ohio. The latest brief in the case was the Second Amended Complaint filed on 7/11/2018.

Jim Flaiz to join Big Pharma Multi District Litigation
Proceedings on the case, including the trial in Cincinnati Federal Court under Judges Timothy S,. Black, Karen Nelson Moore, and Michael H. Watson, and Magistrate Judge Karon L. Litkovitz, have been stalled recently as a result of the federal partial shutdown that lasted five weeks and shut down the services of federal lawyers. Now that all federal services have been restored, trial is stated to occur in March. At the time of the Second Amended Complaint, the Trial Attorney for Plaintiffs was identified as Freda Levenson, a servant of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. Cooperating Attorney for the Plaintiff(s) is Paul Moke, Cooperating Attorney for the ACLU of Ohio at Wilmington College. Additionally, several employees from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of New York City are listed as active servants for the Plaintiff(s).

In its introduction, the Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Brief notes that the Ohio redistricting map “was drawn by the Republicans in Ohio, with the support and assistance of the national Republican Party. The goal was to design a map that would, through packing and cracking across each individual district, establish a 12-4 Republican to Democratic seat ratio through the decade for Ohio’s US congressional delegation. The 12-4 map was drawn in secret in a hotel room, nicknamed “the bunker” by the map drawers, to which only the Republicans had access. Versions of the map had to be approved by national Republicans, despite there being no official role in Ohio’ redistricting statutes for the national
Republican Party. The terms packing and cracking are used often and appear integral to the Plaintiffs’ arguments. On page 38, the Plaintiffs’ brief defines packing as “those votes cast in excess of the 50% + 1 needed for the party to win the district.” Cracking is identified as “votes cast for a losing candidate.” The Plaintiffs’ brief also utilizes terminology like efficiency gap and partisan bias and cites the research work conducted by the Brennan Center, the Maxine Goodman Levine School of Urban Studies at Cleveland State University. Part of documentation cited by the Plaintiffs notes that the Ohio redistricting map of 2011 is “skewed more than 97% of all districting maps since 1972.”

Current congressional district map

Proposed congressional district map
Currently, redistricting results when the partisan party in power is able to draw new voting districts. This process has been going on from nearly the beginning of the United States as a nation under the US Constitution. The original redistricting, became known as Gerrymander to commemorate the name of the individual responsible for the new districts and the resulting irregular “salamander” shapes of the districts to benefit the partisan party in power. As a result of Gerrymandering, the case cites Ohio’s Issue 1, approved by about 75% voter approval in the 2018 May Primary election to amend the Ohio Constitution. That issue, to become effective after the 2020 Census, will result in Congressional redistricting with the appointment of a seven-member committee, consisting of four elected state officials, including the Ohio Secretary of State and two Democrats and two Republicans.

Flaiz insisted that the filing of the amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief together with the Lake County Prosecutor would not result in the hiring of any outside lawyer or additional legal fees for Geauga County residents, and would just communicate the wish of these two counties that there would be no redistricting to impact negatively on the influence of the Republican Party in each. The proposed redistricting map, if it is enacted as a result of the success of Plaintiff A. William Randolph Institute et al, would divide Geauga County into two distinct Congressional Districts and House leadership from someone other than a local like David Joyce. Such a result might truly upset the Republican status quo.

Flaiz, when asked when the case at bar might be resolved, indicated his expectation that there would be an appeal to the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as well as the US Supreme Court. Based on recent outcomes in several other states based on the same issues, this writer expects a favorable decision for the Plaintiffs to be followed by appeals undertaken by supporters of the Defendants, the Republican Party, and Ryan, Husted, and Obhof as representatives of the Republican Party majority. Appeals cost money, and it is expected that legal representation of Geauga County at that point will cost taxpayers money to help offset the expenses incurred by current Defendants and Republican counties like Geauga filing amici curiae.

As of 4 PM on the day of this writing, Cleveland.com posted that the Ohio Attorney General has filed a motion to delay the start of the trial, currently slated to begin March 4th until after the US Supreme Court decides gerrymandering cases brought by Democratic interests in North Caroline and Maryland. Those rulings are expected in June of this year.

Commissioner Lennon noted this morning that he alone, without the urging of the Geauga County GOP Central Committee under the leadership of Chardon councilman, Nancy McArthur, was responsible for involving Flaiz in the Ohio Randolph litigation. Our question: If there is to be any financial responsibility for the filing of briefs to support the Republican majority in Geauga County and the current Geauga districting, why aren’t McArthur and the Geauga GOP taking a lead? They already have legal counsel Nancy Schuster, whom McArthur has alleged to have paid bundles for her assistance in earlier litigation involving the Geauga GOP. Where is all this heady help when the Geauga Republican Party needs it—perhaps, after all, just to survive in Geauga County?

As we were about to publish, we received this e-mail from Prosecutor Jim Flaiz:
Tim [Lennon] and Diane, I realized I misspoke at the meeting this morning. The Philip Randolph Institute is the advocacy group funded by labor unions (AFL-CIO). They are a party to the lawsuit. The political arm of the League of Woman Voters is also involved. The attorneys for the ACLU are representing the plaintiffs. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.
James R. Flaiz
Prosecuting Attorney

Published on Friday, January 25, 2019

Contrary to the customary tradition of Auburn’s Board of Zoning Appeals meeting at 7 PM on the second Tuesday of the month, the organization has gathered three times during the month of January 2019. The third meeting occurred on Tuesday, January 22, with members Brian Stewart, Lewis Tomsic, Scott Brockman, Doug Hogan, and Francis Gibbons, who are reimbursed by Auburn taxpayers at the rate of $50 per attended meeting, volunteering to make the judgment. Testifying for Tarkett USA, Inc., 16930 Munn Road, were Gary Ellsworth and John Easter. Also addressing the BZA from seats identified as “Reserved” were Auburn Fire Chief John Phillips and Zoning Inspector Frank Kitko.

In a meeting that was over in less than an hour, Mr. Ellsworth testified that each of the four new silos requested in four variances (BZA-19-02v, BZA-19-03v, BZA 19-04v, and BZA-19-05v) will hold 120,000 tons of material. Each of the variances was worded the same:
“an appeal requesting a variance. . .from the Auburn Township Zoning Resolution, Article 4A,08: Height Regulations, No building in an industrial district shall exceed the following heights, 35 feet allowed, 60’ proposed for Material Storage Silo [1,2,3,4] to be located at 16930 Munn Road. . .in an I-1 zoning district.”
Tarkett presented three other variances for the construction of three accessory buildings for variances from zoning regulations on building height and distance from side-lot lines. When asked by BZA members why Tarkett simply didn’t use available contiguous property the company had purchased for a reported $2.1 million (reported by former Planning Commission Director, David Dietrich, in 2017) from the former Mar-Bal, Inc., to construct buildings within acceptable zoning side-lot regulations, Ellsworth stated that such action was simply not preferred. The three variances were stated as follows:
“BZA-19-06v, an appeal . . .from the Auburn Township Zoning Resolution, Article 5.02(a) Accessory Buildings:. . .Detached accessory buildings may be located in side yards at least 15 feet from any lot line. . .15’ required, 11’7” proposed for a proposed 32’x 32’ Accessory Building to be located at 16930 Munn Road . . .in an I-1 zoning district.”

“BZA-19-07v, an appeal. . .from the Auburn Township Zoning Resolution, Article 5.02(a) Accessory Buildings. . .Detached accessory buildings may be located in side yards at least 15 feet from any lot line. . .15’ required, 8’4” proposed for a proposed 35’ x 35’ Accessory Building to be located at 16930 Munn Road. . .in an I-1 zoning district.”

“BZA-19-08v, an appeal . . .from the Auburn Township Zoning Resolution, Article 4A.08: Height Regulations, No building in an industrial district shall exceed the following heights, 35’ allowed, 56’ proposed, for a proposed 35’ x 35’ Accessory Building located at 16930 Munn Road. . .in an I-1 zoning district.”
   Auburn Township BZA January 22, 2019   
By 7:15 PM a single motion was made for all seven variances to be approved. A voice vote within minutes confirmed unanimous approval for the eight variances.

We wish to comment on the ease and speed with which Tarkett was able to gain approval for such a massive undertaking. This is not the first time that the facility at 16930 Munn Road has sought and gained BZA approval for construction of a large silo. About 2015 approval was gained when Johnson Industries, the former plastics manufacturer, sought construction and placement of two silos to accompany the existing one to hold calcium carbonate. Two of the four silos approved by variance this week will hold calcium carbonate. The other two will hold plastics compounds.

At no time during the discussion was there any mention of potential contamination of the area from misuse or error using chemicals. This event is in distinct contradiction to the BZA hearing of January 15 when numerous individuals, including a sanitary site engineer and a medical doctor, testified that proposed storage of porta-potties would pose health hazards from chemical contamination. Additionally, a private attorney representing one of the attendees presented a signed petition objecting to the issuance of the requested variance. The result of that hearing was the unanimous defeat of BZA-19-01 by Scott Brockman, David Parker, Francis Gibbons, Doug Hogan, and Robert Ford, each of them receiving $ 50 for their brief services. Seated among the attendees that evening but offering no comment on that issue was BZA member Lewis Tomsic. We do not know if his appearance entitled him to the same $50 fee.

What a difference a week makes! Chemical contamination is still chemical contamination however and whenever it may occur.

By Tom Niewulis (SamAdamsReturns.net)
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Is ANYONE actually watching or being held accountable for your levy tax dollars?
Every time you vote in favor of a levy without demanding accountability, you are contributing to self-inflicted eviction. It has taken a long time to bring this information to you since the details of it had to be more fully investigated and then written in more of a White Paper format. The challenge for this writer has been to drill down on the Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Administrative Code, and the various bureaucratic entities’ rules, grants, strategies, and policies.

Gulp! Where’s the Tylenol™ for the headache?

It is abundantly clear that many of the non-elected boards and bureaucrats of some nineteen taxing subdivisions in Ohio have ZERO Accountability to the citizens of the counties. Why? Because no one is paying attention to them.

We need to look at two very important considerations as to who is accountable regarding your property tax dollars collected for the various taxing subdivisions in levies.

Elected Vs. Appointed
We can count about twenty-two defined entities that ‘shall’ or ‘can’ increase your property taxes. It is important to understand that this list not only defines the entity that can tax you but also who should be looked to for accountability.

What is fact is that only about five of those taxing subdivisions elect, hopefully, responsible persons. Those elected to the various offices in taxing subdivisions are accountable to those who elected them. Take a deep breath and think that through…. (Pause and reflect on that) …. Those you elect are accountable to you for all aspects of what the taxing subdivision does and how it spends YOUR property tax money.

Do you know which four or five taxing subdivisions have elected seats out of our list of twenty-two? They are shown at your County’s Elections Board web site. As of this writing the list for the ELECTED has not been updated on the Geauga County Elections Board web site. With this posted list available for Local Authorities, it is clear that counties, municipal corporations, townships, and boards of education all have elected representation as the responsible, fiduciary agents who are accountable to the electors (that being you). Now the elected officials of these four primary entities, according to state law, “shall” establish certain boards and districts. This is where the possibility of nineteen other districts and boards come from. What is critical to note is that those who serve on the boards or are trustees for these taxing districts are not elected.

Now I’m trying to keep this simple. The state mandates that these non-elected boards “shall” hire executive directors and staff to carry out the functions of the boards. Thus, a bureaucracy is created. Often with this bureaucracy a special class of citizen is also created in that these executive directors receive all of their benefits paid for by you – in your property taxes.

Who Does This To the County Citizens?
In all cases, the boards are made up of citizens that have some common association to the type of board that is mandated. In all cases a lesser number of a Boards members are appointed by the state agency that the taxing subdivision is associated with. The majority of board members are supposed to be appointed by the County Commissioners. In the majority of cases the state sets the criteria for whom the boards shall hire as an executive director.

With all respect to those that are appointed to the various boards of the taxing subdivisions, they are not often educated in business practices or the functions of a board. The board members are citizens wanting to do the correct actions for the benefit of the boards’ legal requirements. No one is minding the store. Sadly the board members rarely if ever consider how their decisions will affect the entire county. Therefore, when they seek levy dollars from you, they never take into consideration the total cost of all the other levies you are paying for.

In the final analysis consider this: Once a board is put in motion, those that appoint the members never pay attention to what they are really doing. The state agencies claim no oversight capability, and most often the County Commissioners have other things to do that are more interesting. What that means is that these boards for the various taxing subdivisions are in fact self-policing.

I leave you with this to ponder as you hear about levies in future elections: Who’s minding the hen house when the foxes are the managers at the door?

Tom Niewulis is better known to many Northeastern Ohioans as Sam AdamsReturns.net. Through American patriot, Sam Adams, Mr. Niewulis provides lively commentaries regarding both national and local topics of civic interest. The condensed commentary presented here is actually Part 4 of a series entitled “Self-Inflicted Eviction,” which first appeared in the fall of 2018. These are the links to the four original presentations:

Part 1 of Self-Inflicted Eviction - Taxed Enough Already?

Part 2 of Self-Inflicted Eviction - Consequences of Passing Local Levies

Part 3 of Self-Inflicted Eviction - Confusion - Good Intentions By Deception and Legislation

Part 4 of Self-Inflicted Eviction - Who’s Minding The Boards?

By Brian Massie, Director, Lobbyists for Citizens
Published Monday January 21, 2019

In our ongoing effort to review any and all issues that are impacting our local property taxes, we thought that we would look at the issue of increasing drug use in our community.  Our property taxes are used by the ADAMHS Board, Police Departments, the Crime lab, and probably many other governmental and “non-profits” entities to address the growing drug problem impacting many citizens in the community.

We are spending billions of dollars nationwide in treating people with drug addictions, but many Americans find it reprehensible to use any and all means to stop the supply of illicit drugs – it makes absolutely no sense to us.  Here are three solutions that we believe will drastically impact the flow of drugs into our community, and make our communities safer.

One of the Lake County’s non-profit agencies treating drug addiction is the Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers. We have followed their financial progress for the last couple of years. We are looking for their support to stop the flow of drugs into our community.

We sent the following email to Ms. Melanie Blasko, Executive Director of the Lake-Geauga Recovery Center. We provided copies of the email to our Lake County Commissioners, County Administrator, Finance Director, and Ms. Kim Fraser, Executive Director of the ADAMHS Board.

Ms. Blasko,
We have reviewed your Form 990 for the fiscal year ended 6/30/17, and we commend you for another stellar year of financial performance. Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers constantly exceeds a 10% profit margin each year.

We have known many “for profit” business owners, who have risked their entire personal net worth in their business, that would have “sold their souls” for those profit margins.

We were wondering if LGRC is contemplating accepting less contributions from the ADAMHS Board, since it seems you have found the correct formula to make money.

There are many other “non-profits” that could use more help from the ADAMHS Board, such as the Forbes House that receives no funding at all.

We noticed that you accept food stamps in payment for services rendered. Is there a story behind why you accept food stamps from clients? We, naively, thought that food stamps were supposed to buy food.

From your Form 990, we found your mission statement: “Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers aspires to provide premier behavioral healthcare services. We strive for excellence through proven practices and for leadership in partnering with community organizations to work toward an addiction-free society.”

While that is a very notable goal, we believe that you should be working to put yourselves out of business, or drastically reduce the need for your services, thereby using less of the taxpayers’ money. There are three public policies that, if they are not currently supported, we hope that LGRC would consider supporting:
1. Stop the medical community from dispensing opioids in such a cavalier fashion, and replace them with non-addictive pain killers.
2. Build a barrier along our nation’s Southern border to stem the tide of illegal drugs.
3. Encourage local police departments to support the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
We have attached an article from Judicial Watch that illustrates the routes of illegal drug activities. Please note the last sentence of the article: “But Farrell says that “the dirty little secret” about the nation’s opioid epidemic is that it is “leveraged by corrupt public officials” who either turn a blind eye as the cartels smuggle truckloads of heroin into the U.S. or actively help them distribute their deadly product to every corner of the nation.” We are sure that you would agree that this is a very damning statement of our public officials.

We would also suggest that LGRC adopt a written public policy to ask all local police departments to support the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement in removing from our communities those that are distributing these illicit drugs.

To us, it is only common sense that we stop the dispensing of the highly addictive drugs; we then stop the inflow of the illicit drugs into our country, and support the law enforcement officials, who are doing their duty to uphold the drug laws currently in place, in order to protect the citizens of the community.
Thank you, we wait for your response.

Here are select pages from their Form 990 for the year ended June 30, 2017:
form 990 lake-geauga recovery centers 2017

Here is the Judicial Watch article regarding Cartel Territories and Drug Routes:
Cartel territories and drug routes

Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals decided its second case in a week last evening. In the process, it attracted all seven BZA appointees. One of them, Lewis Tomsic, Sr., sat in the audience after signing in and giving the impression that he might testify as an interested party. He never got the chance because the Auburn Township Administration Building, whose capacity is stated to be twenty individuals, was filled to the gills with approximately forty-five “contiguous” neighbors of the applicant for the variance, including a physician and a private attorney reportedly hired for one of those neighbors. Attendants were standing along the walls although there were approximately five vacant seats, all posted with the notice, “Reserved for Contiguous Neighbors.” By 8 PM it was all over: “Contiguous” Neighbors, 1; Applicant, 0.

The new business before the board consisted of a variance,
“BZA-19-01v, an appeal requesting a variance, submitted by Alan P. Weilacher, for DWSK Holdings, from the Auburn Township Zoning Resolution, Article 4A.04(d) Prohibited Uses: Any use not specifically listed in this Resolution shall not be permitted. . . for a proposed prohibited use of a Septic Cleaning Company and a portable restroom rental company to be located at 11484 Washington Street, in Auburn Township, Ohio 44023, in a B-1A zoning district.”
Mr. Weilacher explained that his business will utilize 8-10 employees, incorporate mounds planted with trees and a six-foot fence gated in two places for privacy and provide storage for twenty vehicles and about 2500 portable restrooms. During his explanation, the front door of the building opened constantly with new people coming to listen and/or testify.

Zoning Inspector Frank Kitko clarified that the property upon which the variance was requested has been part of the Auburn business district since 1948. Additionally, there have been some issues about lighting on the commercial property that have been recently resolved, and there have been some residential complaints about the occupants of the property discharging firearms. Kitko insisted that the occupants of the property were not the guilty parties.

During the course of the testimony from neighbors on Ascot and Lancaster Drives, Attorney James Grendell asked several questions of Alan Weilacher. BZA member Doug Hogan advised Weilacher that he did not have to answer questions from an attorney without his own attorney present. Mr. Weilacher seemed unconcerned and continued answering Mr. Grendell’s questions. Six residents testified about their objections to having the business receive a variance. One of those individuals was a sanitary engineer who testified as to the negative impacts of high-power cleaning agents used to clean and disinfect portable restrooms. One other resident, a medical doctor, expressed concerns about the environmental conditions on the retail property fostering the growth of Hepatitis 2 organisms and threatening the health of neighbors.

When the vote was taken on the issue, the vote was 5-0 against granting the variance. Either the owner of the property or the applicant for the variance has thirty days to file an administrative appeal at the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas. The decision will be a judicial ruling without any jury by one of the two Geauga County Common Pleas Justices, Carolyn Paschke or David Ondrey.

While this writer found the forty-five residents well-prepared and articulate, especially after the court judgments that favored two landscape businesses on East Washington Street over the residents of the same neighborhood some three-four years ago, there still is a question about Auburn Township zoning language. This writer contends that the argument known as “Any use not specifically listed in this
Resolution shall not be permitted” is vague and not logically correct, since it implies the presentation of a list of correct activities. Should this decision be appealed (applicant has thirty days to do so), we will watch with interest. Looking back upon active litigation visited upon Auburn Township Board of Trustees and the Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals within the time period of 2009-2016, we have reason to believe that an Eleventh District Court of Appeals might find good reason to rule against contrary zoning language. We are particularly concerned that business zoning in Auburn Township preceded the residential home owners’ associations in the area and wonder whether the NIMBY issue may have raised its head again.

We will keep an eye on this issue.

Published Monday, January 14, 2019

Samuel Adams one of the Founding Fathers of the United States

Yes, we are approaching the twenty-fifth day of a partial US federal shutdown. We are hearing a lot of complaints because some government workers have missed their first paycheck. We are confident that their paychecks will be restored, though admittedly they are going through challenging times right now.

Tom Nieuwulis, otherwise known to many as the voice of the blog. “Sam Adams Returns,” has shared his thoughts about the current situation facing both President Trump and the government workers in question. Thank you, Sam Adams.

Samuel Adams was  born September 27, 1722, and died October 2, 1803. Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Could the former employee who stole at least $1.8 million from county taxpayers over a period of nine years have demonstrated that crime really pays?

Photo courtesy of Lake County News Herald
Back row L to R: Probation Attorney "Sandy,"
Geauga County Prosecutor Flaiz. Front Row L to R:
Stephanie Decatur Stewart,
Defense Attorney Kimberly Corral

Steve Decatur’s daughter and co-defendant, Stephanie Decatur Stewart, came through a watered-down sentencing hearing today at 12:50 PM, the beneficiary of Defense Attorney Kimberly Corral’s December 31 twenty-four page request for no-jail time complete with four letters of reference from friends and family members.

1) Seeing the probation attorney who identified herself only as “Sandy” sitting next to Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz was considerable evidence that Stewart would face no prison sentence. Did it matter that she had previously pleaded guilty to the felony charge of “engaging in a pattern of corruption”? Did it matter that this particular offense carried a minimum of two and maximum of eight years in prison? Did it matter that the mighty Prosecutor Flaiz, not his underling assistants, had personally come to finish the job for the benefit of several media reporters? Was his call for four years’ jail time for the accused offender who used the alias of Elaine convincing? No, no, no, and finally no.

2) By 1 PM Stewart knew that she would not have to pay back a penny of the $487,000 or so in stolen funds because as a one-time single mom of three and now a mom of five,she had spent the whole bundle at the rate of $45,000 per year on her $148,000 Akron-home mortgage, food for the kids, and upkeep of the 2003-model car, though she reports a spouse who may just provide some support.

3) By 1 PM she knew that she would be on probation for four years with 400 hours of community service.

4) By 1 PM she knew that she would be on house arrest with an electronic bracelet at $180 per month---but just for one year.

36-year-old Defendant, Stephanie Elaine Decatur Stewart appeared to be the victor today. Today, this writer did not witness any victory statements from County Prosecutor Flaiz, just some facial contortions. At the February 5, 2018, arraignment Assistant Prosecutors, Christopher Joyce and Nicholas Burling had been in charge of announcing 334 counts each against Decatur and Stewart. In the meantime, the journalists from Auburntownship.org, who regularly record public meetings, were denied their written request to video this particular public hearing. Newly-elected judge David Ondrey, assigned 18C000021 for April 8, 2019, trial against remaining defendant, Eugene Joseph Krus of ITERSource Corporation in Texas, observed.

Decatur, reported originally to be a terminal cancer patient, is now reported to have drunk a corrosive liquid that led to his October death. The Cuyahoga Coroner, according to Flaiz today, has not yet provided the final cause of death. Flaiz recounted Stewart’s use of the alias “Elaine” as a log-in name to access electronic county reports and bank deposits multiple times per day as indications that Stewart “knew what she was doing.” In addition, he expressed little hope of gaining restitution as a result of a lien against the foreclosed Decatur house in Shaker Heights.

Defense Attorney Corral noted, “It is [the Texas corporation] IterSource who presented invoices to the county. Everyone believed that they were legitimate. . . .The Auditor [former Geauga County Auditor Frank Gliha] approved everything and he received only a $1200 fine. Krus and Kelley [the two IterSource defendants] were dismissed. Members of the Automated Data Processing Commission were notified in 2010 when one County Commissioner reported irregularities in IT spending. The ADP was not litigated against. I am asking that my client get the same treatment-- non-residential sentencing.” It did not matter that a records check notes that only the Kelly case had been dismissed [18C000021 on September 20, 2018, by Judge Forrest Burt].

Judge Brown had the final say. “The outcome as of right now is really a good one for Ms. Stewart. It’s obvious that Decatur conned Gliha. The conning started in 2010. Decatur was the principal beneficiary. I can see how Ms. Stewart believed her father. It is the judgment of the Court that the defendant will receive four years of probation, electronic monitoring for one year, and no restitution. The Court will suspend the four year prison term. Probation will permit Ms. Stewart leaving home. She will complete 400 hours of community service.”

Today’s outcome has raised only more questions:
1) Readers may remember the $4.3 million theft by Chester Township Fiscal Officer Michael Spellman. Because of lack of alert intervention by Spellman’s financial institutions, they became defendants in civil litigation initiated by the township for restitution. If Stewart’s financial institution(s) allowed multiple deposits and/or withdrawals per day without being alert to money laundering and fraud in violation of Interstate Commerce regulations [ITERSource Corporation and Defendant Krus are in Texas], are they subject to civil litigation by the Prosecutor?

2) The Automated Data Processing Commission, composed of the Auditor, the Treasurer, at least one Commissioner, at least one member of the Board of Elections, the Sheriff, and the Prosecutor, were supposed to be the only authority for approval expenses to Decatur, his agent ITERSource, and anyone else acting under Decatur’s authority. Nevertheless, written testimony presented in the Stewart sentencing hearing demonstrated that “representatives from the Geauga County Commissioner’s [sic] office notified at least one member of the ADP Board about the procedural irregularities of the handling of these [ADP] invoices within Geauga County. Records indicate that ADP Board member(s) were notified more than twenty times in 2010.” Fiduciary knowledge by ADP members occurred at least four years earlier than reported by Geauga Budget employee Heidi Delaney to Flaiz. Since Flaiz was not initially appointed by the Geauga County Republican GOP Central Committee to complete Prosecutor David Joyce’s position until about 2012, did Prosecutor Joyce know about the potential damage looming on the horizon? Was there the possibility, though, that silence might allow all the storm clouds to blow over with no one, especially the Geauga electorate, being the wiser?

3) In the spring of 2018, then Auditor Gliha, already under fire for his approval of contracts over $50,000 without the bidding process, identified Tracey Jemison in his role as Auditor or Commissioner as the individual who vetted Decatur before hiring him as IT Director. Will readers recall that Jemison quietly left the Commissioner’s position to become head of Geauga Growth? As Auditor and then Commissioner, Jemison should have played a prominent role on the ADP Board, at least from 2010. Did Jemison suffer as a result of the flagrant thefts committed during his watch?

4) What about current ADP Board member, Treasurer Chris Hitchcock, who handles the investments of the Geauga County Commissioners? Within the last month Hitchcock reported that the county’s investments were in great shape, noting the availability of $1.2 million in county savings to help build a county office complex on thirty plus county-owned acres. “It’s kind of scary,” (see Financial shape) he noted. Isn’t it equally scary if as a member of the ADP Board long before 2010, Hitchcock didn’t sense the oncoming of the financial devastation? Shouldn’t the voters have more value than just being the source of real-estate taxes like clockwork twice a year?

5) Who was the County Sheriff in 2010? Wasn’t that Dan McClelland, owner of the feisty little PR treasure, Midge? Wasn’t McClelland an esteemed member of the ADP Board in 2010? Sure enough, all the way back to 2003. Wasn’t that when he slipped out of his Republican garb to become a Democrat so that dying Sheriff Red Simmons could appoint him the new Sheriff? As a member of the ADP Board, could he have had some smarts about a $1.8 million theft of the Geauga electorate brewing? Was it more important for McClelland to leave with the blessing of the Geauga County GOP Central Committee and Geauga Growth? How important was it for Hambden full-time Fire Chief, Scott Hildebrand, to be “handpicked by Dan McClelland”? How important was it to have the blessing of the Geauga County GOP McArthur from Chardon? Was the full-time Hambden Fire Chief / Geauga County Sheriff asleep at the switch when he might have used his role as ADP member to protect Geauga voters being duped of $1.8 million? Did he have a conflict of interest?

6) How has Jim Flaiz survived the possibility of having a conflict of interest as a result of being an ADP Board member since about 2012? We know that he was aware of reported irregularities involving Decatur and ITERSource in 2014. Is it possible that because another election cycle faces him a year from now in March 2020, it could be strategically important to wrap up the Stewart case NOW?

Readers will remember that the fleecing of Geauga County resulted not only in the theft of at least $1.8 million dollars but expenses from “Special Investigator” Brian Kostura and forensic accounting payments of at least $33,776 for “special work” for the Prosecutor’s Office during March 2018. (see SKODA MINOTTI 1.pdf) Payments attested by Budget Officer Adrian Gorton on at least two occasions in June noted remuneration of $20,000, $22,000, and $12,900 to McGlinchey Stafford for special legal work, presumably to Brian Kostura. (see “When will it all end" June 8, 2018) This writer fully cannot ascertain if that $57,000 is the total paid out by the county. Did Brian Kostura benefit from his working relationship with Flaiz on the South Russell Council? What special “forensic” skill did Kostura bring that role? Is there something unique about Mr. Kostura’s collection of extra funds at the expense of taxpayers while the co-defendant sentenced today need not pay a penny?

So, does crime pay in Geauga County? The remaining defendant will be through the gauntlet by early spring, but will voters survive the experience of paying over and over? This writer has seen some Department of Aging information that 30% of Geauga residents are senior citizens. How many of them are on fixed income? How long before taxpayer boycott results in foreclosure of real estate? When that happens, who might choose to settle amid the petrified animal poop scattered on vacant Geauga landscapes?

Published January 2, 2019

Geauga is the second wealthiest county per capita in the State of Ohio. Unfortunately, many in positions of power here appear determined to spend every penny they can and individual avarice is breathtaking.

Video 4-17 James Gillette, Esq., Chardon Law Director
Let’s take a look at James Gillette, Esq., Chardon Law Director and part-time Police Prosecutor. He showed up at the Commissioner’s Prosecutor’s Budget Hearing on September 27, admittedly uninvited, but he was there nevertheless to pitch for more money for the three part-time police prosecutors: Gillette, Dennis Coyne and Steve Patton. He was complaining that the Commissioners only pay 14%, or $ $40,000, of the prosecutor’s annual budget of $284,774 to help run the court. Gillette thinks the Commissioners should increase it to 25%, or $ 71,428, which he admitted would go toward the police prosecutors’ salaries. (See Video 4-7)

Except Coyne and Patton are city employees so how would any of the additional $31,000 Gillette is asking for go to them because they are limited to the same raises as other employees. Where would that money for salaries go? (See Gillette increase letter)

Gillette, always pontificating at center stage, repeatedly told the Commissioners that he hasn’t had a pay raise as the police prosecutor in ten years.
Video 4-21-26 He told the Commissioners that he hasn’t
had a pay raise as the police prosecutor in ten years
Gillette said that the caseload has not increased. When questioned about the working arrangements of the three part-time prosecutors, Gillette said that he works in the court on Monday and Friday afternoons, if necessary. Patton works on Tuesday and Thursday and Coyne works on Wednesday and Friday morning. (See Video 4-21)

A call to the courthouse revealed that Monday hearings are usually done at noon. If anything is scheduled in the afternoon, it is scheduled at 1:30 and no later than 2:30. It turns out there are only civil trials heard on Thursday, so no police prosecutor is needed. Sometimes things are scheduled for Friday, but rarely in the afternoon.

So Gillette usually works one-half day a week (Monday) for $43,933/yr. and thinks he needs a raise. As it happens, eight Mondays this year were holidays (which is probably why he picked Mondays) so Gillette worked forty-four days — $1,000 a day. But think he needs a raise. (See Muni Court holiday calendar)

The three prosecutors are paid $43,933 a year for Gillette, $35,707 for Coyne and $39,848 for Patton. As mentioned, the last two are city employees and get the same raise percentages each year that other employees do. It is confusing whether or not Gillette is an employee and would be limited by employee raises. Coyne and Patton get PERS [Public Employee Retirement System] but not health care. Gillette gets everything in benefits as Law Director.

The entire time Gillette was whining about no raise for ten years, he never bothered to mention the $53,600 he is paid each year by the City of Chardon as Law Director. So far the City of Chardon is paying Gillette $43,933 (police prosecutor), $53,600 (law director) and $31,149 (benefits) and $57,830, for expenses. for a total of $186,512. (See Gillette agreement, Pgs. 2 & 4)

And the other $124,109, doesn’t hurt, either. What? (See Overhead) and (See Exp. Account)

He is actually paid $124,000, for a total of $252,802
Gillette isn’t paid $57,830 for expenses. He is actually paid $124,000, for a total of $252,802.

It’s the $124,000 that Gillette said he received for the last five years for overhead. When asked by former Commissioner Skip Claypool what was included in the “overhead,” Gillette comically rifled through his papers. How could he possibly remember what he had paid in overhead for five years in a row?

Gillette responded: “Maintaining an office, paying a secretary, copier, all of that.” (See Video 4-17)

How was the overhead paid? Gillette said it was allocated to him and he took care of everything. He said that he is paid about 2/3 the cost of his secretary, a portion of his rent, the city supplies him with a phone line, he has two computers given to him but if he needs new copy equipment, he assumes the cost of it. He added at the end that they
Video 4-25-50 He added at the end that they also
pay for his office overhead, which is $5,000/mo
also pay for his office overhead, which is $5,000/mo. (See Video 4-25-50)

Now add his salaries and benefits, $128,682, to 124,000 and you get $ 252,682. Not bad for one day a week as police prosecutor and Law Director of the City of Chardon with a population of 5,171. But now he wants an additional increase of $31,000?

City of Chardon Finance Director Mate Rogonjic said that Gillette does not get that much in overhead but Gillette already identified where the money goes in his answer to Skip Claypool. When challenged about Gillette’s comment, Rogonjic last salvo reads: “It does not change what we track in the accounting system.” (See Finance Dir. email)

So it must be true and don’t believe your lying ears?

Prosecutor Jim Flaiz then piled on to praise Gillette and about his wealth of experience and knowledge and how he could never afford to hire someone with the ability of Jim Gillette. It quickly became a gag fest.

After the meeting, Gillette followed Flaiz to the parking lot and profusely and endlessly thanked him for his support. Apparently, Gillette thinks that Flaiz, who everyone now knows let embezzlement at the Country Auditor’s office continue by Stephen Decatur for three years, seems to think that Flaiz’s opinion carries any weight anymore. And that Gillette’s raise is a done deal.

Gillette appears to be a financial albatross around the neck of the City of Chardon. A lot of young lawyers are capable of doing the same jobs for a lot less.

Every person reading this should call the Commissioners and demand that no increase be given to the Chardon municipal court for the police prosecutor’s budget. If the City of Chardon can afford to pay one greedy lawyer a quarter of a million dollars, they don’t need any more county money. And, if anything, Gillette needs to start paying his own expenses.

Susan Daniels