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Commentary for 2019

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Published Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals meets the second Tuesday of the month to consider potential “violations” of Auburn Township Zoning Code. The July meeting, however, was held on July 23. Present were Attorney Charles V. Longo, representing Sandy and Antonio Marra, owners of a single family dwelling at 11365 Normandy Lane, Auburn Township in an R2 zoning district. Zoning Inspector Kitko had sent the owners two letters, one by regular mail and one by certified mail, to which, according to Kitko, there had been no response to him, thereby precipitating the need for BZA-19-12-ZI “alleging error by the Zoning Inspector in his determination of an accessory use to a main use. . . This accessory use (Bed & Breakfast, Hotel/Motel) is not a listed use. . .Any use not specifically listed . . .shall not be permitted. . .” (4.03c of Auburn Township Zoning Code)

Attorney Longo brought with him a notarized court reporter for preparing a transcript of the meeting for presentation in Geauga County Common Pleas Court. When he learned that BZA member Lewis Tomsik wasn’t a notary for the purpose of legally swearing in witnesses to provide testimony, he offered the court reporter, also a notary, to do that very thing. Not present at the meeting were Sandra Marra, Anthony Marra, BZA member David Parker, and BZA member Robert Ford. Present from the BZA were BZA Secretary/Assistant Zoning Inspector Jane Hardy, BZA member Brian Stewart, BZA member Lewis Tomsic, BZA member Scott Brockman, BZA member Doug Hogan, Auburn Fire Chief John Phillips, Normandy Lane residents Ms Pavia and Robert Biro, Auburn Township residents Tom and Diane Jones, and Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Rine from the office of Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz. BZA member Brockman expressed resentment that those testifying had never been required to be sworn in by an actual notary before, “a waste of time” in Brockman’s opinion. Eventually, all those with testimony permitted themselves to be sworn in by the court reporter.

Attorney Longo used the meeting to cross-examine Zoning Inspector Frank Kitko and Normany residents Pavia and Robert Biro. During the course of the hearing, after being questioned about the definitions of Auburn Zoning Code terms like Building, Dwelling, and Bed-and-Breakfast, a visibly irritated and frustrated Kitko told Longo that he would not answer any more questions until Assistant Prosecutor Rine informed Kitko that Longo was permitted to ask questions that Kitko was required to answer, even though that answer might be “I don’t know.” Kitko responded thereafter to all of Longo’s questions, resorting to a few “I don’t know”s.

When Normandy resident Pavia was speaking, Attorney Longo confiscated a hand-written note from member Brockman to member Lewis Tomsic. The printed communication read, “Reign[sic] her in and lets[sic] move on.” Longo noted that private communications between officials at public meetings were illegal. The communication appeared to be a reference to Pavia. Longo noted to Pavia that neighbors’ complaints/concerns did not constitute a zoning violation. Neither did parked cars belonging to alleged renters of 11365 Normandy Lane,

During the course of the hearing Attorney Longo opined that the “BnB” that described the property did not mean “Bed and Breakfast,” but “Bed and Bath.” Mr. Kitko disagreed. Mr. Longo suggested that BZA Board members had already made up their mind before the testimony was complete. He told board members that the correct decision would be made by a judge in court.

When Ms. Pavia was given permission to speak, her comments about the absent owner of the property noted, “I’m wondering why Sandy [Marra] kept this under the radar for so long, and I think she knows why, it’s because youre not allowed to do it, you’re not zoned for it, and I’m wondering why she isn’t here tonight.”

Mr. Longo responded, “The resolutions state that residents can be represented by counsel, which is me.” Later, after testimony that the property owner was in violation of Auburn Township zoning, he noted,” [s]o in order for my client to be liable for the violations, there has to be—the definitions of these things have to be met. . .It is not a bed and breakfast. . .If it’s not a bed and breakfast, she isn’t violating the resolution. . .and maybe they [the resolutions] need to be rewritten. . .It will be a court that is going to decide it. . .this is not going to be the last time you’re going to have to address this, and you need to redo your resolutions.”

When the Board chose to vote on the motion that Zoning Inspector Kitko had created error with his decision to cite the property owner for a zoning error, Board members voted unanimously against the charge of Zoning Inspector error. The decision would become final on August 6, when BZA members were to sign off on the meeting minutes and findings of fact. Those who signed the documents on August 6 were Scott Brockman, Francis Gibbons, Doug Hogan, Lewis Tomsic, and Brian Stewart and BZA Zoning Secretary/Assistant Zoning Inspector, Jane G. Hardy.. There were five findings of fact. Number three cited, “Appellant’s attorney claims dwelling does not meet the definition of a Bed N Breakfast or a Hotel/Motel, that dwellings are permitted to be rented in Auburn Township.”

In fact, when this writer checked on the website(s) noted by Zoning Inspector, she became aware that a residence on Munn Road, contiguous to Auburn Community Park, is available for rent. There is also a property close to that of Trustee John Eberly (May Court) advertised in the same manner as the cited Normandy Lane property. Shouldn’t Zoning Inspector Kitko be investigating/citing the owners of these properties for zoning violations? Per the 2016 Auburn Township Land Use Document completed by the Geauga County Planning Commission, there were sixteen privately-owned homes that were identified as rental property in Auburn Township. Shouldn’t Zoning Inspector Kitko be investigating the owners of these properties for zoning violations? See copy of page 113 of Auburn Township Land Use Plan below.

On August 14, 2019, Attorney Charles V. Longo and Attorney Greg Gipson, both of the Longo Law Firm, filed an Administrative Appeal seeking to reverse the judgment against the Marras’ Normandy Lane residence by the Auburn Township Zoning Inspector, the Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Auburn Township Board of Trustees, all with the address of 11010 East Washington Street, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44023. The case has been styled Sandy Marra v. Auburn Township Zoning Inspector and Auburn Township Board of Trustees, and Auburn Township Board of Zoning Appeals, Case No. 19A000662. It has been assigned to Judge Carolyn J. Paschke for judgment unless the Auburn Township Trustees, with the guidance of Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz and the Auburn Township Assistant Prosecutor, Kristin Rine, decide to negotiate with the plaintiffs to keep the court costs from being borne by Auburn Township and Geauga County taxpayers. In past cases of this nature filed against Auburn Township, the Prosecutor’s Office and insurance attorney Abraham Cantor worked together and Geauga County taxpayers footed the bill run-up by Auburn Township officials, in some cases alleged to be in vicinity of $100,000 by the time all appeals were heard.

Having attended the BZA hearing and videotaped the entire meeting, we look forward to a judicial and judicious outcome.

Published Wednesday, August 21, 2019
by William Haupt III | The Center Square

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Tea Party movement was born when NBC annalist Rick Santelli screamed that President Barack Obama’s mortgage relief plan would “subsidize losers” and Americans should revolt! This five-minute rant became the “Tea Party” rallying cry and created a whole new group of political activists.

Previous populist movements chastised big business. But the Tea Party focused its ire on the federal government and extolled the virtues of free markets. Although the Tea Party revolution faded into the archives of political movement history, 69 percent of the Republican Congress members proclaim allegiance to their platform of limited government and unlimited states rights.

While the growing domination of progressivism was once answered by the Tea Party movement, even through the efforts of Donald Trump, we have seen little meaningful change in Washington. There are more people voicing opinions about our federal government than any time in history. As tempers flair, political veterans and the politically uneducated point their fingers at DC as the cause and solution for every problem. Progressives are blatantly disrupting all efforts to govern and those looking for real solutions feel hopeless. The federal government is stuck behind a leftist roadblock and there is no detour around it. And they are snarled in their worst traffic jam in American history.

How soon we forget. What happens in our backyard doesn’t stay there. Our first governments were prototypical of the English “shireships.” Shires were created in the ninth century to serve as local bureaus for the crown. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, shires were renamed "counties." They functioned with a plural executive board of commissioners. Just as our county governments in the English counties, the shire-reeve, or "sheriff," was the justice of the peace. Today, our county sheriff remains the chief police authority in the state.

After the American Revolution, counties remained the first administrators of the states. They retain that status today. There were counties before there were cities or states in America. And county government remains the oldest local governing body in our union. Yet many have forgotten its importance and less participate in overseeing it. Despite the enormous role local government played in the lives of the colonies, when the Constitution was first presented to them, their biggest concern was limiting federalism. They demanded a bill of rights to further isolate them from federalism and felt the local governments would protect those rights, not violate them. That was the first mistake they made.

Although Obama’s new progressivism woke up the sleeping giant of American individualism and a desire to control federal government, the solutions are not in Washington. The problems take root in our local county seats. All government is local and local government is the core foundation for all government. If we have a nefariously corrupt, out-of-control county government, we will always have decadent and iniquitous officers in our state houses, Congress and White House. The health of our county governments reflects the health of our states and inevitably reflects the health of our nation.

Our county governments are our first line of defense against federalism. They exist as agents of the states and have the authority and power to enforce all state laws. In turn, they are responsible for adjudication of all directives in all cities. Cites have assumed many responsibilities for fire, police, and utility management, but core functions remain at the county level. This includes registering voters, collecting taxes, running elections, prosecuting criminals, recording deeds, legal records, making road repairs, keeping vital statistics, running sheriff stations, and public health agencies.

Richard Nixon once remarked, “Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government, too.” Originally, people served out of dedication and duty. Until the 20th century, most county officials were only compensated from fees and fines. It was not until the Progressive Era of the 1900s that fee-based compensation led to rampant local corruption. This was the beginning of the “good ol’ boy” clubs in our local governments. And this is how our county commissions got stacked against us with county employees and school board members.

The commission has always been the governing body in the county. And since this is the heart of the government, and has the most control over our lives, we should control it, not allow it to control us. But many county commissions no longer serve “the people,” but special interests, and in many cases, agencies and departments they work for. We’ve got “governments of employees” instead of “governments of the people”! And nobody seems to care.

Tip O’ Neil told us, “All politics is local” because these are the people who affect our lives the most. In the last century, urbanization has brought increased populations to our counties, which increased their authority. As populations grow, so does abuse by county commissions, yet county government remains an afterthought in America. Few know who their commissioner is, or who does what and when? When local elections are held, even fewer know or care who is running if they know about them at all? In America, county elections have the smallest turn-out of any election in the country.

When Obama told America, "We need to fundamentally change America,” too few got the message. But when they witnessed the overnight success of Moveon.org, the Center for American Progress, and Media Matters, many sleeping patriots got involved. They formed groups and held meetings and fought back. After Obamacare passed, they took over the House the next election, then “kicked back.” And too few bothered to vote in their next local election? They did nothing as The New Left was taking over county commissions and winning mayoral and city manager races.

Many Americans view county government as a necessary evil to provide services. But as they assume more authority, they incubate more future state and federal political officials. The citizen’s role in commission oversight is essential for survival in today’s progressive world. It all starts at the county. The more nepotistic and incestuous they become, the more corrupt our state and federal governments mirror them.

County government is the “minor league” for all governments. Federal spending is shaped by an incest-ridden relationship with influential local governments, politicians and special interests. This makes county government our biggest concern and liability. Local politicians petition federal and state governments for funding for local projects. This feeds the food chain that grows government. That is why voting for local county officials is more important than voting for the president. They are the ones who empower and shape federal policy; now and in the future. And that come back to haunt us in too many ways to count.

Published Thursday, August 15, 2019

Yesterday we brought you notification of the Ohio Supreme Court’s reversal of the Eighth District Court of Appeals (covering Cuyahoga County) ruling on State ex rel. v More Bratenahl v Bratenahl.. This decision, a new application of ORC 121.22, absolutely prohibits the use of secret ballots at public meeting to determine appointments.

Lobbyists for Citizens has already cited a Lake County incident where secret ballots were used to make a county level appointment. Readers will remember that there is a two-year-statute of limitations from the date of actual discovery for filing legal complaints in the form of a Writ of Mandamus.

We urge the Geauga County GOP under the leadership of Nancy McArthur to take particular note of this awareness in Lake County. Should this body have cause for concern as a result of any of its actions taken during meetings called to accomplish “public business”?

By Brian Massie | Lobbyists for Citizens,  August 15, 2019

Our “Pro Se Team” has uncovered a potential problem for the Lake County Republican Party, the Lake County Auditor, and by extension all Lake County citizens.

First some background information:
Unfortunately, our former Auditor, Mr. Ed Zupancic – a very fine gentleman – was struck with an illness that prevented him from finishing his term as Lake County Auditor. According to the Ohio Revised Code, the Lake County Republican Party was permitted to appoint his replacement.

The Executive Committee of the Republican Party. led by Dale Fellows, Jan Clair, and Jason Wuliger, convened the central committee to elect a replacement. After two SECRET BALLOTS, Mr. Chris Galloway was selected to become the new Auditor.

We were asked by several committeemen to perform an audit of the ballots, and we had a meeting with the three representative of the Executive Committee to review the ballots.
The voting method selected by the Executive Committee was to conduct a SECRET BALLOT. Each committeeman was given a ballot with their pre-printed name on it, and they were instructed to write their selection on the reverse side of the ballot.
Thank you to Lake County Republican Party
By Brian Massie on May 2, 2019

We at Lobbyists for Citizens believe in applauding when an individual or a group maintains the highest standards of honesty and transparency in dealing with the public.

To that end, we would like to compliment the Republican Party leaders, Dale Fellows, Jan Clair and Jason Wuliger for their complete transparency in educating us on how the election for the new Auditor was conducted.

Jan Clair went into great detail to ensure that we knew the entire process, and we verified the results of both ballots. We would like everyone to know that Mr. Fellows and Mr. Wuliger did not want to know how each committee person voted. The whole process was handled by Jan and LFC.

LFC committed to everyone that the individual votes will never be posted for public scrutiny. We believe that the voters’ selection is a very private matter, and we always keep our promise to people.
Ah, but here is what is known as a “sticky wicket” – a difficult circumstance , if you will….

The Ohio Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on the Ohio Open Meetings act [R.C. 121.22(C)]. They ruled on a case between the Village of Bratenahl and the citizens concerning replacing their president, pro tempore of council by SECRET BALLOT.

Here is their ruling: Ohio Supreme Court Ruling 3233

Here is the Court’s conclusion from page 8:
“We hold that the use of secret ballots in a public meeting violates the Open Meetings Act. Accordingly, we remand this matter to the court of common pleas to issue an injunction under R.C. 121.22 (I)(1), order the village council to pay a civil forfeiture under R.C. 121.22 (I)(2)(a), and award any other relief consistent with R.C. 121.22.”
Given this new ruling, it begs the question: “Now what do we do?” It certainly seems crystal clear to us that the Lake County Republican Party violated the Ohio Open Meetings Act by conducting a secret ballot to select Mr. Chris Galloway as the new Lake County Auditor. We will weigh our options, and try to decide what is in the best interests of Lake County citizens. You are welcome to give us your opinion on this matter.

As a wise man once said ‘You have come to the fork in the road, now take it.”

Published Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Many thanks to our Lake County associate, Brian Massie, for sharing the editorial presented by Lake County voter Scott Hamilton to explain why the Willoughby-Eastlake August levy failed so badly. Note Mr. Hamilton’s call to his fellow voters to be courageous and tough-minded to defeat outrageous monetary demands placed on the voters.

Geauga County voters: Be forewarned. Your county has three levies in November, along with school levies. These dollar issues add up quickly. How much can Geauga taxpayers afford to pay? Do they have to approve because it seems they have always approved? When is enough enough? Lake County resident Scott Hamilton has the answer.

Thank you, Scott Hamilton and Brian Massey!

Published Monday, August 12, 2019

The lawsuit involving the embezzlement of $1.8 million from the Auditor’s office (which is just a guess because no one knows for sure how money was actually taken) goes on and on, like the beat from the Sonny and Cher song.

Although Geauga Prosecutor James Flaiz was first alerted on June 14, 2014, that there was a money problem at the Auditors, he ignored it. He also ignored the other twenty-four efforts by Heidi Delaney, then an employee at the commissioner’s office, until she left that job in 2016. Fortunately, Delaney kept hand-written notes about every date she contacted Flaiz’s office.

Flaiz finally jumped into action in September 2017. How much money was stolen by the auditor’s employee and thief, Steven Decatur, in the intervening three year period? $600,000, $800,000, $1 million??? That loss falls directly at the feet of the irresponsible Flaiz and should be considered a crime for malfeasance and nonfeasance.

Then there is the payment for forensic accounting and a special prosecutor. That tally by now exceeds $300,000 because the case is still on-going, even though Decatur died in October 2018 and his daughter, Stephanie Stewart, who was also involved in the theft, was sentenced in January 2019.

What? Yep. Charges against a Texas company, INTERSource Corporation, which was part of the conspiracy against the good taxpayers of Geauga County is still not concluded.

Flaiz announced at Stewart’s trial that there would be no jail time for anyone from ITERSource. That made it easier for Stewart’s skilled attorney, Kimberly Corral, to keep her client out of jail.

Flaiz also announced that one of the two men charged from Texas was dismissed from the case because he was hired after the stealing began. Are we to believe that he never knew what was going on? Apparently. Flaiz let him go.

Now through a series of motions for continuances, the trial (which we are supposed to believe will ever take place) is set for October 21, 2019. And hasn’t this been a wonderful opportunity for the special prosecutor to keep billing the country? But before it goes to “trial” the prosecutor just dropped three of the four charges against the company.

And those three charges were related to the theft of money. The remaining charge is “Having an Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract.” This will end with a slap on the wrist and a small fine, just like happened with former Auditor Frank Gliha, who some think should be sitting in jail right now.

Published Friday, August 9, 2019
By Johnny Kampis | The Center Square

A study just released by the Pew Charitable Trusts examines how states fund broadband projects and reveals the various ways in which governments extract money from taxpayers to subsidize high-speed internet.

The funding mechanisms most often used are grants and loans, although Pew notes that states have varying approaches on how they distribute money and encourage investment. Michigan, for example, appropriated money from its general fund in its 2017-18 budget bill to create a broadband program.

“Any state can appropriate money for broadband in this manner, but if it does so, those dollars will compete with funds for many other state priorities, such as education, transportation, and health care,” the report states.

Ten states have established their own universal service fund (USF). Similar to the USF run by the federal government, these funds were initially created to help expand phone service to every American but are now siphoning money to broadband projects after the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The USF fees (i.e. taxes) are designed to offset the cost of deploying internet to unserved areas and are charged to telecom providers and passed on to consumers.

Many states have established grant and loan programs that can be tapped into by private providers, cooperatives and local governments. Some states like Tennessee offer only grants, while others, including West Virginia, fund such projects only through loans.

Tom Struble, technology policy manager at R Street Institute, said loans are much preferred to grants from the taxpayer perspective.

Pew also pointed out that the terms unserved and underserved vary greatly from state to state. For example, Indiana defines an area as unserved if no providers offer download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, while Georgia says an area is unserved if less than 20 percent of homes cannot access speeds of at least 25 mbps.

TPAF previously reported on Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Fund which considers an area receiving less than 100 mbps as underserved and an area receiving less than 25 mbps as unserved. A state task force member told TPAF the metrics were ludicrous.

Struble said that considering how fast technology improves, states shouldn’t put speeds into statute. He said they should instead follow the lead of Congress, which discussed the need for high-quality connections in the Telecommunications Act rather than try to nail down a particular speed.

“Those are going to be quickly outdated,” Struble said of the state standards. “The FCC has changed the standard several times in the past ten years.”

The current broadband standard as established by the Federal Communication Commission is a download speed of 25 mbps and an upload speed of 3 mbps.

Pew's study study also discovered that 16 states use tax-incentive programs to encourage broadband deployment, often giving breaks on the infrastructure or equipment used to build and maintain networks. Iowa offers property tax exemptions for broadband infrastructure for a decade after it’s installed, while Maine allows ISPs to claim a credit for the equipment they buy or lease.

Struble said he prefers this type of funding as it’s a discount for providers rather than a handout.

Alabama is one state that considered this method before going a different route. Legislation passed in 2017 that would have initially offered incentives to providers to expand to rural areas was changed to a granting program, as previously reported by TPAF.

The Pew study found there is no one-size-fits-all solution for broadband expansion and recommended that states should use creative and diverse ways to serve areas lacking in access. While there is no magic bullet, states should keep taxpayers and their money in mind when promotion high-speed internet growth and ensure the funds are spent effectively.

Published Wednesday, August 7, 2016
By Joseph V. Mestnik | Liberty News & Views

Joseph V. Mestnik
If they were serious about free for everything, then let’s start with what everyone should be entitled to, a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and a toilet. Everyone should be entitled to a functioning toilet and shower. No more sleeping on sidewalks in boxes, tents, tarp, plastic or anything else to cover themselves. No more pooping in an alley or park. No more smelling without a bath or shower. So many men and women are homeless. Let the Democrats, if they are sincere, eliminate Real Estate property taxes on homeowners, eliminate sales tax and make affordable housing for everyone. Let’s make sure everyone has a proper place to sleep, bathe and go to the toilet. That’s right, let the Democrats eliminate real estate taxes and sales tax, so everyone including seniors can afford to live at home that they worked for 25 or more years with a mortgage payment, property taxes and homeowners insurance. Why should home owning seniors be the ones who are always responsible and pay their taxes? Oh yes, Democrats are going to tax the rich, but the burden always falls on those who are responsible. That’s you and me. I can’t ever remember my parents or me not paying real estate property taxes and home owners insurance. Do you? I remember in 1948 when my Dad, who had a wood business, had to give sales tax stamps to customers. We also were maintaining the yard and cutting the grass. Healthcare for everyone? Let’s have a roof for everyone, a bed, a toilet and a job.

While in Philadelphia for the National School Board Conference I couldn’t believe the number of homeless people (men and women) at night sleeping on the sidewalks or under a bridge. Big City Democratic mayors should be ashamed of themselves, but no, these worthless and corrupt mayors would rather tolerate people living and defecating on the sidewalks and parks of many major cities than address the problem. What is worse is rat infestation, caused by refuse left everywhere. Recently, there have been warnings of the return of diseases such as the bubonic plague being brought in by the thousands of Central American invaders along the southern border and crowding into sanctuary cities. Diseases that were eradicated in the Unites States such as measles are now returning. Many of these diseases are deadly.

The crisis on the southern border is totally a Democratic created mess. Trump is the only one trying to solve this problem. Americans are wise to the Washington Democrats and their unworkable solutions. What is wrong with Pelosi and Schumer? Jerry Nadler is an idiot. They are the problem. Pelosi, Schumer and Nadler should go and look into the mirror and see the ones causing this endless stupidity created by these Washington swamp critters.

These rotten to the core Washington Democrats, want to impeach Trump? They have no solutions to the real problems. They want to keep the focus on impeachment of their own creation, the Russian hoax, and paid for by Hillary Clinton. Those who are voting for impeachment need to resign and let someone who wants to serve the people be appointed.

Published Friday, August 2, 2019
By Ryan Grim and Akela Lacy

On Tuesday, a dark-money effort linked primarily to the Ohio nuclear industry delivered an audacious payoff, as a newly elected state legislature overcame years of opposition to shower a $1.1 billion bailout on two state nuclear plants.

Several dark-money groups spent millions to replace key Republican state legislators in the spring of 2018, followed by a furious lobbying campaign to make sure those new lawmakers elected a new House speaker — one who was amenable to the subsidy. The nuclear industry in Ohio has been on the brink of failure for several years, but previous legislatures had objected to a bailout, reading the writing on the wall: Nuclear power is neither a cost-effective solution for power nor an effective response to climate change, despite hopes for its success.
Nuclear power is neither a cost-effective solution for power nor an effective response to climate change, despite hopes for its success.
In April 2018, two nuclear plants, both owned by the electric utility FirstEnergy, filed for bankruptcy and have been threatening to cease operations if not bailed out. They were under increasing pressure to compete with cheaper alternatives, ranging from natural gas to wind and solar. The bankruptcy filings give a glimpse into the company’s political spending: more than $30 million from 2018-2019 on lobbying and campaigns in Ohio and Pennsylvania (where the company also sought a bailout, so far unsuccessfully).

The dark-money effort deployed a variety of vehicles that went by names like the Conservative Leadership Alliance and the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance. Murray Energy, a coal company, also gave heavily to current state House Speaker Larry Householder and his allied candidates, and the bailout from Ohio also includes subsidies to prop up failing coal plants in the state.

The payoff is extraordinary in degree — something like $30 million for campaigns in Ohio and Pennsylvania to win $1.1 billion in government subsidy. But it is similar in kind to other nuclear projects across the country. According to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit devoted to research and advocacy, five cash-strapped states across the country have foisted more than $15 billion in subsidies on failing nuclear power plants since 2016, the latest sign that nuclear is unable to stand in a competitive energy market against lower-cost renewables.

In Ohio, the state House battle was fought in at least 18 competitive Republican primaries, all proxy battles between Reps. Ryan Smith, the incumbent House speaker, and Larry Householder. Householder was a co-sponsor of the nuclear bailout bill that stalled in the legislature in 2018, making him a key ally to the nuclear industry. Several dark-money vehicles backed the pro-Householder candidates, and won 15 of the 18 races. Four pro-Householder candidates lost in the general election, but the primary wins put Householder in contention for the speakership.

The industry even targeted one Republican state representative who had rebuffed FirstEnergy’s advances before making a bid for Congress. “I didn’t budge when they came into my office to lobby me,” former state Rep. Christina Hagan said of FirstEnergy. “I became the target of the company and the members of our leadership team who wanted to get it done but couldn’t because I wasn’t going to be supportive. I’m sure they just wanted to make an example of me in my race for higher office that if you don’t play well, this is what will happen to you.”

On top of the dark money, FirstEnergy’s political action committees directly contributed more than $150,000 to the campaigns of Householder and candidates aligned with him, while giving none to Smith last cycle. Of the pro-Householder candidates who won their races, all but one supported the bailout.

Dark money also contributed to ads on Ohio television. Generation Now spent almost $2 million on ads in favor of the bailout, and perhaps much more. The Growth & Opportunity PAC, which got more than $1 million in donations from Generation Now, also blanketed the state House districts with television ads in favor of Republican candidates. Generation Now’s office is listed as the Columbus address of a longtime Householder adviser, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The new lawmakers entered office in January, and Householder, who, along with his son, flew to Donald Trump’s inauguration on a FirstEnergy-chartered plane, won with the backing of 26 Republican and 26 Democratic representatives, while Smith got the votes of 34 and 11, respectively. Householder was able to win the support of those Democrats with his opposition to right-to-work legislation, as unions pushed Democrats to back him in the speaker fight with Smith.
The Ohio legislation includes measures designed specifically to undermine the planet’s continued capacity to support a steady human population.
That month, the legislature also began work on reviving the nuclear bill known as HB 6. At least seven witnesses who spoke to the legislature in support of the bill drew on testimony written by a FirstEnergy lobbying firm, according to a review of metadata by the Energy and Policy Institute, which has closely tracked the fight.

On July 23, Smith and 14 other House Republicans voted against the bailout, but Householder was able to push it through 51-38, backed by nine Democrats. It was quickly signed by the state’s new governor, Republican Mike DeWine. (FirstEnergy also contributed to the campaign of DeWine, who then tapped a FirstEnergy lobbyist to be his liaison to the legislature.)

The Ohio legislation reads as if it was designed specifically to undermine the planet’s continued capacity to support a steady human population. Along with propping up the state’s two nuclear plants, it also provides subsidies for failing coal plants in the state, as well as one in Indiana. It cuts and eventually ends any subsidies for new wind or solar, while approving just $20 million annually for large-scale solar projects that have already been approved. It even ends programs aimed at encouraging Ohio residents to reduce power consumption, through upgrades to appliances or heating and cooling systems.

In April, Householder denied that the corporate PAC money had anything to do with the nuclear bill, and said that FirstEnergy should be applauded for its civic engagement. “For them to care about those people who are trying to serve the state of Ohio and make sure they’ve got good quality candidates moving forward I think is important for anybody,” he said.

When asked specifically about ads from the dark-money-funded Growth & Opportunity PAC, Householder said, “I’ll tell you who’s paying for these ads: it’s working men and women from Ohio, who want to save their jobs and it’s Ohio corporations, headquartered in Ohio, that want to stay here. That’s who’s paying for it.” He did not respond to a request for comment from The Intercept.

The role of the nuclear industry in the shuffling of speakers was not prominent in the news coverage of the politics, but it wasn’t entirely unknown. Gregory Jaczko, who served as chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2009 to 2012, said that the industry’s role in the affair was visible to those paying close attention. “FirstEnergy has been trying, really, for years to get this subsidy, and the legislature kept denying it, and nobody really, even the previous governor [John Kasich] was not really supportive of it,” he said. “FirstEnergy put a lot of money into local races and essentially turned the legislature around. So they ran this thing through.”

On a policy level, the legislation is appalling, said Jaczko, who has become an outspoken critic of the industry, and recently published a book, “Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator.” Building new wind and solar capacity would not only be a better climate solution and produce more jobs, he said, it would be far cheaper for the state, and it’s the direction Ohio will have to go eventually anyway. Wind and solar “creates a brand new economy, which is going to be a future-looking economy rather than a dying economy,” said the former NRC chair. “Nuclear is dying. It’s dying in Ohio.”
“FirstEnergy put a lot of money into local races and essentially turned the legislature around. So they ran this thing through.”
The irony, he noted, is that Ohio had planned to be a testing ground for next-generation smaller nuclear power plants, which purported to solve some of the problems associated with nuclear energy, and won federal subsidies to try to build them. “As soon as they got that money from the Department of Energy, they decided they weren’t going to pursue these reactors anymore,” Jaczko said. No new nuclear plants are planned for Ohio or anywhere else in the United States, and the closure of the two currently operating facilities is not a matter of if, but when. The billion-dollar subsidy only delays the transition to wind and solar, he said.

Winning the speakership is quite the comeback for Householder, whose career appeared to be cut short in the mid-2000s by a federal investigation into kickbacks and a pay-to-play scandal. Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican, had referred the case to the FBI; it was resolved without charges. Householder won election back to the House in 2016, and during his first cycle, the incumbent speaker resigned amid his own FBI investigation. Smith took over on a temporary basis, leading to the battle between the two.

Ohio’s two senators, both of whose campaigns have taken money from FirstEnergy throughout their careers, were on different pages when asked about the billion-dollar bailout. Republican Sen. Rob Portman, whose campaigns have taken at least $615,000 from FirstEnergy PACs since his first run for Senate in 2009, said he didn’t know enough of the details of the decision and was swamped with other things this week.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown meets with retired coal miners at United Steelworkers Local 1238 in Martins Ferry, Ohio, on July 5, 2017.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, though, was indignant. “You don’t bail out utility companies and raise prices for customers,” Brown said. The utility has contributed around $380,000 to Brown’s campaigns since 1997, when he was in the House of Representatives. “And you don’t undermine the efforts our state has made on alternative energy and other energy sources. So it’s just wrong.” Asked about reports of the involvement of dark-money groups in pushing the bailout, Brown said: “Of course there is.”

“I mean, these things happen because these monied interests control the state legislature. There’s no question about it.”

In a statement Brown’s office sent later in the day, the senator added that expending enormous resources to prop up outdated sources of power would only hurt Ohio going forward. “Of course we need to make sure our state has access to reliable power, but we shouldn’t do that by raising the utility bills of hardworking Ohioans,” Brown said. “We need solutions designed for Ohio workers and families, not Wall Street and fat-cat lobbyists. By eliminating the renewable standard, Ohio is going backward when almost every other state is looking to the good-paying jobs of the future. It’s short-sighted and it is going to result in significant lost opportunities in our state—our businesses will be less competitive, energy developers will avoid investing in Ohio, and there will be fewer jobs in this growing sector.”

The cost of the nuclear bailout for Ohio ratepayers is a bargain compared to the bill being given to residents in South Carolina. The cost of a failed program to build a nuclear power plant there topped $9 billion. Two of the companies involved — Dominion Energy and SCANA Corporation — entered into a buyout and settled a large portion of the bill, leaving ratepayers responsible for footing the remaining $2.3 billion, more than twice the Ohio figure. Not a single kilowatt of energy was produced in South Carolina by the project, which consisted largely of a hole in the ground.

The Ohio subsidies for coal and nuclear, which follow bailouts doled out by Illinois, New York, and New Jersey, underscore the futility of pursuing nuclear power.

Nuclear power once offered the tantalizing promise of endless cheap and clean energy, and to this day remains a hope in the minds of some climate activists. But in reality, nuclear hasn’t met the promise. It is far more expensive to produce nuclear power than wind or solar, and the world has not solved the intractable problem of nuclear waste, to say nothing of safety. To truly meet the scale of the climate crisis with nuclear power, Jaczko said, the world would need to start construction on roughly 1,000 plants this year. But because of the safety concerns, waste problem, and astronomical cost, there are just a handful being built. Ohio lawmakers, though, are hanging on to the bitter end — courtesy of Ohio’s residents.

Published Friday, August 2, 2019

Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz doesn’t know when to stop acting like a spoiled brat. Or spending taxpayer money. Instead of releasing public records about a part-time employee that were requested by resident Susan Daniels in December 2018, he continues to beat a dead horse.

Flaiz has five civil lawyers working in his office but instead of using them, he engaged two attorneys from Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder in Solon. They have tried three times now to win a judgment against Daniels’ Writ of Mandamus filed in 2/19. A Writ of Mandamus is a legal action filed in court to get public records released. Daniels had requested information about a part-time investigator for Flaiz. It was the sixth time last year that Flaiz ignored record requests from Daniels, sent partial replies, or sent her somewhere else.

A Writ of Mandamus usually ends in a hearing with the judge telling the offending official to release the records. But instead the officious Flaiz has asked Judge Carolyn Paschke for a jury trial, which, in itself, will cost the county $1,200.

Daniels’ attorney Kimberly Corral mopped the floor with Flaiz during the sentencing of Stephanie Stewart, the daughter of late Geauga County embezzler, Steven Decatur. Flaiz dismissed 333 of 334 felony counts against Stewart, whose punishment for involvement in the $1.8 million theft was probation. Corral has again displayed her skill as Daniels’ attorney by timely filing responses to all the wasted effort of Flaiz’s attorneys, except for the hefty bills they will submit to Geauga residents paying all of Flaiz’s legal expenses.

These attorneys filed several motions for summary judgment. Judge Carolyn Paschke, following the letter of the law, denied these motions, which would have dismissed Daniel’s Writ of Mandamus.

But that judicial proclamation was not good enough for Flaiz or his lawyers, who keep running up the bills with expensive motions. The newest one, “Respondent James Flaiz’s Revised Motion For Summary Judgment,” filed 07/29/2019, apparently assumes they can dissuade the judge from her correct legal decision.

Assistant Prosecutor Susan Weiland’s response to Daniels’ public information request for the time sheets of part-time “Regarding the timesheets (sic) that were requested, they simply did not exist.” The attached pay schedule for Craig Young shows him paid different amounts on different days. How did his employer, the Prosecutor’s Office, know what to pay him if there were no time sheets? Would Flaiz and his lawyers submit an affidavit they knew to be false? Is Flaiz that underhanded?

The pretrial date is in December 9th.

Published Wednesday, July 31, 2019
By William Haupt III | The Center Square

“Regardless of the strength of attachment to their own party, the more voters dislike the opposing party, the greater probability that they will vote for their party's candidate."– Steven Webster

W.C. Fields once proclaimed, “I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.”

Pew Research’s latest checklists of political benchmarks reveal what we already know. Americans are more divided than at any time in recent history on political issues. Republicans and Democrats today hold vastly disparate views on the role government plays on immigration, the economy, human rights, welfare, business, free speech, states rights and even on the food we eat and the drugs we take. The study underscores this deep distaste for the other side of the aisle that festered during the 2000 Florida election recount and escalated out of the stratosphere during Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

There have been numerous studies by political academics on how American political opinion changed over the course of Obama's eight years in the White House. Most credit Obama for birthing today’s new progressive movement. He changed the way Americans view everything government did during his tenure.

Their changes in attitude about government’s role in the free market, social programs, regulation, race relations, the economy, healthcare, and foreign policy directly attributed to Obama are staggering. At no other time in modern U.S. history, since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, has one person so dramatically divided the parties and changed the direction of his party than Obama did.

Ordinary citizens have preferences about what government ought to do and they elect leaders who will carry out those preferences. But even voters who pay close attention to politics are biased to blinkered decision-making. People make political decisions based on social identities and partisan loyalties, not by honest examination of issues or factual data about candidates. They make choices in their personal lives that directly affect their own well-being. Therefore, they believe by voting for a person that makes them feel they will be rewarded with something for their vote is a good reason to vote for them.

“When you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”– Barack Obama

Obama blazed the pathway for the new progressive era with grandiose promises of fortune and government gifts for everyone who wanted an entitlement. Although he expanded government and was overly generous in redistributing tax dollars, voters have always voted for people that sounded too good to be true. That is politics at its best, and a reason for voting for someone at its worst.

In 1934, Germany’s Adolf Hitler was elected by a huge majority in a free election. Hitler, a failed art student, became a successful community organizer by pitching his ideology in beer halls and town meetings. Promising the German youth to avenge the losses sustained by the Treaty of Versailles, he quickly rose to power.

Hitler's cunning political acuity attracted a cultish group of followers, enabling him to seize total control of Germany by 1934. He led his disciples into the bloodiest war in world history. Hitler’s reign of terror on Germany and the world ended in 1945 when he committed suicide in Berlin.

“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think.”– Adolf Hitler

In 1932, under the backdrop of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover by a landslide because he made promises to end the Depression by expanding government and putting a “chicken in every pot” in every American home. He is remembered for abusing his power to invade and control every industry and institution in America.

The day after FDR took office, he proclaimed a national banking holiday to prevent people from withdrawing their money. He decreed “all banking transactions are suspended." He followed that with a legislative rampage to win friends and influence people. He confiscated America’s gold and railroaded legislation through Congress to gain support from key business groups, unions and farmers. His economic policies resulted in cartelized business, high prices, less work, and steep labor costs. And Americans worshiped him?

Even more tragic is the lasting legacy of Roosevelt’s creation of billions of dollars of entitlement programs like Social Security, unemployment insurance and numerous taxpayer-funded working programs. They did nothing but redistribute wealth and misery.

The Wagner Act of 1935 increased the authority of federal government in industrial relations and gave unions unlimited power. FDR destroyed America’s individualism, free markets, and limited government. And voters elected him four consecutive terms? Congress finally had enough and passed the 22nd Amendment to protect America from another FDR.

“In politics, nothing happens by accident.”– Franklin D. Roosevelt

George H.W. Bush was the first president after the cold war with the arduous task of remaking our economy. He signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and led military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf. He had strong support from voters for his foreign policy, but lost his reelection to a hand-picked southerner Bill Clinton. This was due to one faux pas at the GOP’s National Convention in 1988. He promised "no new taxes – Read my lips.” That sound bite was played like a broken record by Clinton’s campaign to defeat him.

"I know there are always going to be people who want to be president, and some days I'd like to give it to them."– Bill Clinton

Martin Luther King said, “When will we judge a man by his character instead of his color?” When George Bush was mired in a recession because of a housing crisis created by Carter and Clinton during the 2008 election, the liberal media blamed him. Yet the scheme of “borrow now and pay it back later” was the left’s answer to “housing for all.” When this financial house of cards collapsed, people voted for a novelty candidate who campaigned on one word, “change”? And nobody ever figured out what “change” even was?

“I am the change you’ve been waiting for.– Barack Obama

The Democratic and Republican parties are in disillusionment. These two antiquated institutions cling to the status quo while America is undergoing a radical political transformation. More people than ever are claiming to be independents because they are ashamed to admit they belong to a political party.

The Democratic Party that once brokered bills with Republicans, has turned so far to the left; they are fighting with each other over who can turn our republic into a socialist democracy the fastest. The GOP is not supporting the most proactive conservative lawmaker they’ve had in the oval office since Ronald Reagan. People are seeking solutions and answers, not political drama and theatrics.

“Politics is such a disgrace good people don't go into government.”– Donald Trump

People will continue to vote for all of the wrong reasons as long as the qualities of the candidates reflect those of their political party not those of our American voters. American politics is no longer about serving out of love of our country. It is about self-adulation and political showmanship. We need to give voters more statesmen and fewer politicians if we want more concerned and better informed voters.

“Voting is voting your heart and voting your conscience and when you have, don't let anyone, a Democrat or a Republican, tell you that you've wasted your vote because the fact is – if you don’t vote your heart and conscience then you have wasted your vote.” – Jesse Ventura

Published Tuesday, July 30, 2019
ByKathleen Marquardt| American Policy Center

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Recently Tom DeWeese, President of American Policy Center, has been writing articles about the Green New Deal and the attack on ranchers, see [Growing Drive to Destroy the Beef Industry], [Green New Deal Reveals the Naked Truth of Agenda 21], and [Sustainability: The Green New Deal]. His articles have garnered tremendous response. I am the one who responds to the emails sent to American Policy Center and, lately, I have had to respond to people questioning Tom’s attacks on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF, also known as the World Wide Fund for Nature WWFN). The mail suggests that WWF is a St. Thomas of Assisi for cattle. That would be true only if you thought beef should no longer exist in our world, other than as something to worship.

I will give you some background data on WWF and its connection with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the United Nations, Agenda 21, and the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). Now if that isn’t a witches’ brew of alphabet soup, what is?

All of these seemingly disparate entities and their connections started coming together after the 1992 Earth Summit and the 1993, President’s Council on Sustainable Development was set up by Bill Clinton at President Bush’s behest. “The President’s Council on Sustainable Development was convened (on the one-year anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit) to harness corporations to green group ideology by promoting high-minded goals that sounded wonderful but silently eliminated natural resource extraction as part of a proper society.”[1]

The PCSD laid out ‘The Principles of Sustainability’ for ‘Our Vision of a Sustainable United States of America’:

quotes in italics
Principle 4. Human Population must be stabilized at a level consistent with the capacity of the earth to support all its inhabitants in healthy conditions over the long term. Hunger and starvation around the world have been caused, mainly, because of either government policies or wars – not by overpopulation. This ruse is to fulfill the goal of reducing the human population.

Principle 5. In order to protect natural systems and preserve their benefits for future generations, current patterns of consumption should be altered through steady improvements in the efficiency of natural resource use. This is a biggie. First, patterns of consumption: we will see later in this article that meat eating is considered unsustainable, not by science but by those with an agenda. And those ‘steady improvements in the efficiency’ is a ruse to shut down natural resource use by humans, thus is both the Wildlands Project (taking land from property owners and allowing only animals to inhabit), and to reduce the human population.

Principle 9. Where public health may be affected adversely, or environmental damage may be serious or irreversible, protective action may be necessary even in the face of scientific uncertainty. What might necessitate protective action in spite of hard knowledge either lacking or to the contrary? This murky statement rings of 1984 and Brave New World. This is a ruse to shut people out of natural resources, i.e., the Wildlands Project.

Principle 10. The traditional behavior of government, private institutions, and individuals must change fundamentally if we are to ensure economic growth, environmental protection, and social equity over the long term. This one is blatantly that we need a top-down powerful government that controls industry and people through Public Private Partnerships, and removal of property rights and freedom, with the social equity of Orwell’s four legs good, two legs bad.

Principle 15. Since sustainability in the United States is closely tied to global sustainability, U.S. policies regarding trade, economic development, and environmental protection must evolve in the context of their international implications. A mouthful but basically saying that the U.S. must obey the U.N. on trade, economic development, and environmental protection – or in other words, we will sell what the UN wants to whom the UN wishes, we will limit what we produce to what we are allowed by the U.N., and most of our environment will be off-limits to us humans.

Principle 16. Citizens must have access to formal and lifelong non-formal education that enables them to understand the interdependence of economic growth, environmental quality, and social equity, and prepares them to take actions that support all three. Note the qualifying part of the access to education; it will not be education, but programming so that we understand exactly what we must do to be the ideal global citizen zombies.

One of the PCSD task forces was the Sustainable Agriculture Task Force (SATF).

The Sustainable Agriculture Task Force is developing an integrated vision of sustainable agriculture, focusing on sustainable production practices and systems. The Task Force will recommend goals and actions in the areas of agriculture-related research and education, technology, and farming practices and systems to the Council for the National Action Strategy.

In other words, they will tell the farmers and ranchers how they must run their operations. SAFT’s definition of sustainable is not the dictionary’s definition. Sustainable, to SAFT, the UN, and NGOs is to provide enough for themselves and their useful idiots, and free up the rest of the land to be Wildlands. From: [Our Vision of a Sustainable United States of America]

That was written back in 1995, almost a quarter of a century ago. Since then, there has been major ‘progress’ to advance the Agenda 21 (and now, 2030) goals. Now you can see where those other alphabet/NGO groups come in. This task force was chaired by John H. Adams, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council; Richard Barth, Chairman, President & CEO, Ciba-Geigy Corporation; and Richard Rominger, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, i.e., big Green + Big Pharma with a little government added. Other members were Carol M. Browner of the EPA; John Sawhill, President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy; and Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute (WRI).

A note on WRI: The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Worldwatch Institute, EPA, Sierra Club, and others argue that the cost in human tragedy is a cost well incurred if there is even a remote chance that global warming will occur with all its forecast catastrophes.[2] The Institute generally argues through its key research leaders that national economics must be controlled by interventionists and that natural resources should not be used at all. The Institute’s highly impressive studies generally ignore the costs of environmentalism, the value of private property and individual liberty. The intellect this Institute brings to bear to stop development throughout the world is equaled only by its financing.[3] *(emphasis mine)

Back to beef ranchers and their foe. In 2010, the NCBA invited World Wildlife Federation’s Jason Clay to be the keynote speaker at their Summer Convention. That signaled the embedding of the WWF’s global sustainability guidelines as well as production standards into the U.S. beef industry. That included adding the WWF’s panda onto the Beef Check-off logo. And the road to so-called sustainable beef was taken. You might ask where this road is going. Let the World Wildlife Federation’s 2017 report, Appetite for Destruction, reported here in “Meat eaters are destroying the planet, says report”, tell you the destination:

Meat consumption is devastating some of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable regions, due to the vast amount of land needed to produce animal feed, a report has warned.

The growing popularity of a Western diet, which contains high levels of meat and dairy, means an area 1.5 times the size of the European Union would be saved if global consumption of animal products was reduced to meet nutritional requirements. The report went on to say that, to save the Earth, it was vital that we change human consumption habits away from meat.

Now, if this happened 20 years ago – if the beef industry put itself under the control of an organization that was working toward their imminent demise – sane people would have ask why in the world they would do that. But we have far fewer people in the world who are able to think critically, so when people go to the grocery store to buy their beef and see the WWF panda logo on the package, they think nothing of it (if they think at all) or think it is cute.

We all know that government never met a regulation that they didn’t like. Yet, the NCBA and cohorts were successful in persuading Congress to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), which was actually a good piece of legislation for both the public and the ranchers. Now, beef can be brought in from other countries and labeled as US beef; we know that no other country has such strict guidelines for both quality and animal welfare as the U.S., so we will never know what we are getting with the new so-called U.S. beef.

Next, the USRSB, the US Round table for Sustainable Beef, formed in 2015, “ is a multi-stakehold initiative developed to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain. The USRSB achieves this through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement, and collaboration”.

A lot of the fuzzy-wuzzy Sustainable Development words, but what do they mean? Stakeholders are those who are involved but few have any physical stake in the cattle business other than what they will squeeze out of it by being one of those wielding control from afar. This includes Civil Society: Academic institutions, non-government and non-commercial institutions, foundations, alliances and associations with a stake in the beef value chain (it doesn’t say how these groups get a stake in the chain).

When they talk about “to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain”, they are blowing smoke. Many, if not most, of today’s ranchers have been on their land for several generations. They know more about making their land sustainable (in the true sense of the word), than any ‘sustainablist’ from the UN ever could (or would want to). If the ranchers hadn’t been using the best practices in caring for their land, they wouldn’t have any usable land at all by now. And that ‘beef value chain’, what is it? It is vertical marketing – controlling every aspect of beef production from the feed to the barns, to the care, to the slaughterhouse, to the packaging, selling, and transporting of the final product. They are intent at controlling every aspect of the beef industry; that way they have to do only minor changes to shut down the entire US beef supply when they are ready.

I hope this clears up a lot of misinformation that is spread thicker than cow manure in the MSM. But if you have questions, I am the one answering the emails at American Policy Center. I will try to answer any you have.

P.S. If none of that convinced you that the American beef industry shouldn’t be in bed with the World Wildlife Fund, how about this: “Anti-poaching guards backed by the World Wide Fund for Nature have gang-raped women and tortured villagers by tying their penises with fishing lines, according to the charity’s own investigators. WWF told its partners to treat the findings in a ‘non-public fashion.’”

© 2019 Kathleen Marquardt – All Rights Reserved

E-Mail Kathleen Marquardt: koikpm@yahoo.com


[1] Arnold, Ron and Alan Gottlieb, Trashing the Economy, p 280;…

[2] Coffman, Michael S., Ph.D., Saviors of the Earth?, p.45.

[3] Arnold, Ron and Alan Gottlieb, Trashing the Economy, p 537.

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About the Author: Kathleen Marquardt

Kathleen Marquardt has been in the freedom movement since before it was called that. She was founder and chairman of Putting People First, a non-profit organization combatting the animal rights movement. Her book, AnimalScam: the Beastly Abuse of Human Rights, was published by Regnery in 1993. In 1990, she became the emcee for the annual Wise Use Conference. She has testified before state legislatures, appeared on national television, spearheaded opposition to legislative initiatives, become involved in lawsuits, contributed to a number of books, been vilified in other books and articles, and has spoken to thousands across the country. She has written materials for distribution in schools, and her book AnimalScam was used in universities as a textbook. She was a contributing writer and researcher for Freedom Advocates, and her articles appear on numerous websites. She has been Vice President of American Policy Center since 2000.

Published Sunday, July 28, 2019
By William Haupt III | The Center Square

“The death of democracy will be our final wake-up call: Can we wait for that to happen?”Ben Hett

Conspiracy theorists have been predicting the earth will soon be invaded by esoteric aliens from a mythical asteroid. We have been warned of the horrors of emissions from barbecuing hamburgers causing global warming. We have been scolded that if we do not stop mining fossil fuels, the world will shrink to the size of a jellybean. The EPA has warned us if we continue flushing our toilets every time we use them, we will dry up our water supply. They also claim bovine gas is destroying the air. And the media reports this as fact. While this makes great fodder for publishers of comic book writers, it also proves, if you repeat a falsehood often enough, people will believe it is true.

Over the past decade, America has become a fearful and gullible nation. Like windup toys, we obediently follow the direction our government decides to take us, regardless of their motives or its consequences. Political paragons create these false social conundrums to enable them to control economic and individual freedom. This way, they run the country their way, not how we wish. The mal-machinations of special interest groups and politicians are well concealed in today’s political machines. If people knew how little influence they have with today’s government, they would throw another Boston Tea Party. Maybe we should heed the advice of Rand Paul: “I have a message from the Tea Party, a message that is loud and clear. We've come to take our government back.”

Since the formation of political parties, politicians have become notorious for telling people what they want to hear. Through the years they have found many ways to buffalo voters into believing the voodoo they peddle. Many Americans claim they have lost faith in the media, but when their scandal-mongering stories are quoted and re-quoted on social media, their fictions soon become fact. Once these platitudinal rumors are posted and re-posted over again, the unbelievable soon becomes credible. And this plays right into the hands of the political class and their media friends.

“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.” Eric Hoffer

The media became a tool for the left to promote and sustain federalism when JP Morgan infiltrated the U.S. media to exploit and control it in 1917. He hired 12 news hounds from affluent papers to accomplish this. His plan was to buy key primary news institutions that others looked up to and respected. Morgan bought the top 25 news conglomerates and appointed an army of generals to command it. This enabled him to control all stories in every paper, and the watchdog duty of the Fourth Estate was officially neutered. And the media soon was in bed with the feds. Now, 100-plus years later:

“The left controls academia, the culture, and the news media.” Monica Crowley

Many Americans have fallen asleep at the wheel of democracy. It takes effort to separate fact from fiction. We are being bushwhacked by contrived conspiracy theorists. The pathway to socialism is being laid through a far left media. We have allowed leftist conspirators to infiltrate our government and convince gullible voters our Constitution is outmoded. Congress today is governing by their will and not that of the people. Although outwardly we have a constitutional government, inwardly, we have an oligarchic political monopoly of party patricians. By infiltrating the system, they dictate law and social order through panic-media.

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso

This blue-blooded political action group has its own army of media generals. They have moved to the front of the line to protect their interests. But we have failed to shelter our vested interests. If anyone doesn’t believe the entire nation is under siege by the press today, they are blind in both eyes. Knowledge regurgitated through social media osmosis is misinformation generated by the propaganda machines. While we kick back with blind faith in lawmakers, the media is working overtime popularizing progressive idealistic perceptions fed to them by the left. And this is our Achilles heel. We have become so accustomed to bad reporting many have given up looking for the truth.

Now that the media has teamed up with elite progressives, they have been given a license to steal our liberty. This facilitates their ability to use intimidation and distorted, gum-shoe hyperbole to enforce the left’s wish list. By simply avoiding stories, the Fourth Estate should be divulging, traditional media has learned to mix a little truth with a lot of mistruth to muddy the pool of news they report. They obfuscate facts with fables and tales force-fed to them from insignificant, unreliable sources. New age liberals control public opinion and try to convince readers if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, someone else will do it for them. And when they do, it will be more painful than if they did it themselves.

“People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” A.J. Liebling

As George Orwell pointed out, “Big Brother will control every facet of our lives by 1984.” Nineteen eighty-four is long gone and so is the independent press. If the privileged members of the new age media machine want to retain their preferred status, they cannot write an honest story for the AP. The business of today’s avant-garde reporters is to misconstrue the truth. They vilify everything our sitting president does to improve our nation. They rewrite approved White House press releases to assail the president’s accomplishments to keep public opinion low. They know if they throw enough crap on the wall some of it will stick. And that is the problem we face today. Too much of it does!

Morgan and his gang led the way toward information and news control in the U.S. They birthed censorship, disinformation and propaganda. Media, the once anointed watchdogs over our republic, quietly became a deadly weapon for the government when Morgan seized control of it. And today, the press is used to terrorize Americans into believing false science and invented theory to pass laws that exercise total control over us by partisan orators. Few realize it was just 100 years ago our free press was hijacked by the same guy who concocted the Federal Reserve, the monster from Jekyll Island. Today,

“An editor is a person employed on a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.” Elbert Hubbard

The great 15th century political strategist, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.” In a recent poll taken by Hayward Group, 58 percent of those surveyed claim they get the majority of their news from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Although nobody should shed any tears over the loss of market share for traditional media, new and better news sources are online and they are filling the void left by print media when they sold out to the left. And these new watchdogs come in every flavor and breed imaginable. And the most credible ones are non-profits who rely on donations, not advertisers, to pay their bills.

If journalists and politicians are best buddies, something is wrong with both of them. If politicians fear journalists, all of America wins. When journalists and politicians are in bed together, anything goes. And it usually does. As long as the press takes their marching orders from politicians, we’ll be on the outside of government looking in. It is time Americans reconsider from where they get their news. Is it fact, is it fiction or is it real news?

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”  Patrick Henry

Published Sunday, July 28, 2019
By Brian Massie of Lobbyists for Citizens

39 RINO GOP Reps voted with Democrats & US Chamber of Commerce to offer Amnesty to millions of illegal aliens from Venezuela!

Special thanks to ALIPAC supported Rep. Mo Brooks for leading the fight against this terrible bill! We can still stop this bill in the Senate or via Trump veto! Call Trump about this now at… 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414

Contact these 39 liberal Democrats masquerading as Republicans and let them know what you think of their Amnesty for illegal aliens from Venezuela.

Call those Open-Borders Amnesty backers at the US Chamber of Commerce too.

House Democrats and 39 Republicans passed a plan to provide asylum in the United States to potentially millions of Venezuelans fleeing their socialist dictator.

In a 272 to 158 House vote on Thursday, every Democrat and 39 Republicans voted to create a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Venezuela’s population — allowing nationals who are already in the U.S. to remain and incentivizing more to migrate.

Officials with the Trump administration previously voiced their opposition to the plan in an interview with Breitbart News.

“We would not want to open the floodgates for them,” an official said in March.
The Republicans who voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN) include:
• Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)
• Rep. Michael Bost (R-IL)
• Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
• Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX)
• Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)
• Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
• Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)
• Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
• Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
• Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)
• Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)
• Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)
• Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
• Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
• Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA)
• Rep. French Hill (R-AR)
• Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
Rep. David Joyce (R-OH)
• Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
• Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
• Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
• Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
• Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
• Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)
• Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA)
• Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL)
• Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
• Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
• Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
• Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL)
• Rep. Elise Stefancik (R-NY)
• Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI)
• Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
• Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
• Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL)
• Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR)
• Rep. Rod Woodall (R-GA)
• Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
• Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019
By Brian Massie

We would be remiss if we did not discuss, once again, the Concord Township 28 year, .83 mill bond levy to be on the November, 2019 ballot for two new fire stations. The lack of fiscal responsibility by the Concord trustees and the administrator is disconcerting to this writer and a growing number of Concord residents. Many are looking for a life preserver to save them from the ever-increasing taxes.

So that there is no confusion, doubt, or misinformation about Lobbyists for Citizens’ position on this subject, we agree with the following statements:
1. Fire fighters are an integral part of the community, and are needed to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents.

2. Concord fire fighters do an excellent job.

3. The existing Concord fire stations are in need of an upgrade.

4. Concord’s property taxes are growing at an alarming rate, and seniors should not be taxed to the point of needing to sell their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.
Our bone of contention is with the trustees’ and the administrator’s irresponsible decision to build both fire stations requiring a 28 year bond levy to pay for one of them. We have not heard a compelling reason why both fire stations need to be built in the same year. We support the fire station on Prouty Road being built with JEDD funds and TIF financing, thereby eliminating the need to place an additional property tax burden on the citizens.

Once that bill is paid, then we can use those same JEDD funds to pay for the second fire station. We would also like to see if this administration can complete a project within time and budget.

We are also very concerned about the size of the proposed fire stations. The new fire station at the Prouty location will be 12,500 square feet (currently comprised of a small building with an adjacent home for offices); and the main fire station next to the Town Hall will expand from 6,000 square feet to a robust 25,000 square feet. We have not heard any solid reasons why there is a need for that size of a facility.

When Trustee Paul Malchesky was justifying the need for the station, he dropped this “pearl of wisdom”. This new fire station will not result in any significant new property taxes since the Morley library existing .70 mill levy will be eliminated soon. As if that is supposed to make us feel so much better. Are we asking too much if we think our property taxes should actually DECREASE?  

Those living in Concord’s taxing district 10 (Mentor school & Mentor library supporters) will not “enjoy” any tax decrease since their district does not support Morley library.

    See  Concord Fire Station Levy….fact checking
Malchesky sits on the Morley library board, and supported the last Morley library continuous levy. It appears that Mr. Malchesky loves big buildings, the bigger and more expensive the better. He is either oblivious, or uncaring to the pain on seniors that his liberal tax and spend policies inflict. This $10 million bond levy will cost another $7 million in interest costs – enough to build another fire station!

It will be interesting to hear what the new Trustee candidates have to say about the proposed new Bond Levy. We suggest they get ready to answer questions on this subject.

Lobbyists for Citizens will be promoting this mantra:


Update: Resolution for the Bond Levy

Published Monday, July 22, 2019

Fifty years ago a very memorable countdown prefaced the announcement that the US lunar landing was “one small step for man. . .one giant step for mankind.” Everyone felt the quickening sense of purpose and the unlimited possibilities for advancement. Several nations have followed in the footsteps of the Apollo, most recently India.

The Davis-Besse nuclear power station is seen in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Fifty years after that illustrious event Ohio voters have witnessed the ignominy and shame of their elected servants bowing and caving in to the whims and wishes of big business and corporate leaders, this time the honchos in charge of electric utilities: First Energy Corporation, Dayton Power and Light Company, Duke Energy Corporation, and American Electric Power Company. Ohio voters are being screwed again. How long, oh Lord, how long must we endure?

Amidst talk last month that House Bill 6 would not prevail under the fine-tooth scrutiny of Ohio Senate members, they approved the Senate version on Wednesday, July 17, and immediately scooted it back to the Ohio House of Representatives for quick final approval so it could fly into the hands of DeWine for signing. Just a little unexpected turbulence to the free flight : four House members who were not around on purpose or by chance. When the Ohio House adjourned until August 1, they were short the necessary votes to give Big Electric Power the luscious grapes from the Garden of Babylon it has been lusting over. . .Patience, big boys. It’s almost yours on the blood, sweat, and tears of the little guys who just pay your bills and subsidize your excesses. Nevertheless, it’s summertime. Do the voters have a plan with a huge election season just ahead?

First Energy Solutions knows all about patience and playing its cards. You may remember that FES warned incessantly that the Ohio Legislature had only until June 30 to approve the bailout. Else there would be dire outcomes: the immediate dismantling of two nuclear power plants and the loss of several hundred crucial positions that would identify Ohio as the crux of US unemployment. June 30 came and went, didn’t it? Now we are told that the jobs of the potentially-afflicted workers and the future of Ohio itself will be all right after all if the legislature will pass the issue soon. Is August 1 soon enough for you to lick your chops and keep the gleam in your money-hungry eyes, Big Energy? Even so, First Energy Solutions is still threatening the decommission of the North Perry Plant by early 2021 if the Ohio Legislature and the Republican governor don’t Bend the Knee.

To its credit, the Ohio Senate appeared to dig its heels in to at least demonstrate to environmentalists whose votes they might possibly need in the upcoming election season that Big Energy did not deserve 100% of its demands. As a result, they cut the $200 million for FES bailout back to $150,000 and imposed a monthly surcharge of $.80 for each residential electric customer from 2021 until 2027. This arrangement, according to cleveland.com  reporter Thomas Suddes in his July 20 article, “Lawmakers, Take Advantage of Ratepayers,” will bring in $170 million each of those years. Out of this pot, First Energy Solutions will net its $150 million for bailout, even though it never outlined the expenses of that procedure to either voters or elected legislators. Residential customers will also subsidize Ohio and Indiana coal plants that are operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, although we do not know at this time the actual dollar amount per year or in total that they will fund at this time. Why Indiana, Ohio Senators?

Is the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation an Ohio registered company? We’re not sure. According to reporter Suddes, the conglomerate includes Dayton Power and Light Company, Duke Energy Corporation, First Energy Corporation, and American Electric Power Company, but not necessarily just them.

The remaining $20 million, in an appearance of appeasement to “Alternative Energy,” will subsidize six solar energy projects slated to be installed “somewhere out there” in “rural Ohio.” Is that move supposed to make rural voters sidle up to Ohio legislators in primary races? Pork Barrel?

It is also our understanding that the electric charges imposed on commercial customers will be reduced, but we do not know the amount of that reduction at this time. Why is it necessary for the voter to subsidize this latest favor to Big Energy, which has run into some snafus when it has been awarded rate increases by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Nevertheless, Big Energy, aka First Energy Corporation, has the finances and the lobbyists to reach your elected state representatives for major bailouts. Whatever happened to the Free Enterprise System? Back in the day market forces, not political friendships and influence-peddling, determined which commercial interests would survive and which would fall on their own swords.

Reporter Suddes opines, “Democratic-run New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois already regulate their states’ electric customers to subsidize nuclear power plants. Pennsylvania, with a Republican legislature and Democratic governor, has refused, so far. Too bad; maybe Pennsylvania could have helped subsidize an Ohio power plant the way HB 6 would make Ohioans help subsidize an Indiana power plant.”

Big Energy is like the wolf at the door licking its chops for another reason. Thanks to Ohio state law thus far and a 1957 Ohio Supreme Court ruling, Big Energy, aka First Energy Solutions and others, don’t have to refund Ohio customers when utility rates awarded by the Public Utility Commission are overturned by the Supreme Court. Although the rate increases may have been illegal, First Energy gets to keep the illegal funds. The Ohio Consumer Council announced last week, “Since 2009. . .Ohio consumers of electric utilities have been denied about $1.2 billion in PUCO approved utility charges that the [Ohio] Supreme Court has found to be improper.”

And now for the piece de resistance! We present to you the latest Wall of Shame. In case you might have forgotten, local Ohio Rep Jamie Callender from District 61 (Concord) and Shane Wilkin of District 91 are the primary sponsors of HB6. Election season is coming up . . . The latest honorees belong to the Ohio Senate. The Senate version passed 19-12. Here are the names and party affiliations of the nineteen who played into the latest buyout/bailout:

Andrew Brenner, Republican
Dave Burke, Republican
Teresa Fedor, Democrat
Theresa Favarone, Republican
Bob Hackett, Republican
Frank Hoagland, Republican
Joy Hottinger, Republican
Matt Huffman, Republican
Peggy Lehner, Republican
Rob Peterson, Republican
Tim Schaffer, Republican
Lou Terhar. Republican
Steve Wilson, Republican
We have saved the BEST, the bunch from Northeast Ohio, for the greatest glory:

Larry Obhof, Republican from Medina
Kirk Schuring, Republican from Canton,
Sandra Williams, Democrat from Cleveland
Kenny Yurko, Democrat from Richmond Heights
Matt Dolan, Republican from Chagrin Falls
John Eklund, Republican from Munson (you won’t get to vote against him; he quits)

You can’t blame this debacle on the Democrats. Sixteen of the nineteen are REPUBLICANS, folks. Maybe it’s time to consider alternative partisan procedures. If the Republicans can sell you out this easily in favor of brown-nosing to Big Energy, what other nasty things can they do to you before you figure out a new strategy?

Election season is just ahead. . . but the August 1 “vote” comes first.

Published Sunday, July 14, 2019
By Ron Edwards

We all know that the United States of America came into being because of the brutal British monarchy of King George that provoked the colonists to rebel and seek liberty. The Founding Fathers were influenced by such great Signing of the Magna Carta thinkers as William Blackstone who wrote the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights and led the Glorious Revolution [of 1688]. [Editors note: William Blackstone in 1759 produced the first modern critical edition of the many versions of Magna Carta that were issued between 1215 and 1297.] Blackstone also created a record of common law. Thus the Founders had a good political foundation of which to build upon. But Men such as John Adams, George Washington and even Benjamin Franklin just to name a few understood the need for a higher moral standard. They knew that to realize the lofty goal of a good moral society, they must remain connected to the source of good morality.

The founders believed that if the people remained moral and self governing, there would be no need for a cradle to grave domineering government. The Founders knew that a moral and free people would be more inclined to work, be creative, innovative and thus produce a better society. In fact, liberty which is a combination of freedom with responsibility can only exist so long as the people freely maintain it. First via an unyielding faith in our creator. Second, the teaching of his word and principles to every succeeding generation must never be stopped.

Though the fight for liberty changed the course of history, there were those who did not want liberty, seeking Providential guidance or teachings from the Bible to the young. I guess you could call them the ancestors of the democrats of today. John Marshall (1755-1835), the Chief justice of the United States supreme Court, was appointed by President John Adams and held that position for 34 years. He had been a captain in the Revolutionary War and had served with General George Washington during the freezing winter at Valley Forge in 1777-78. Marshall was a member of the Virginia ratification of the constitution. He was also a strong advocate for the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In the book America’s God and Country, written by historian William Federer is chronicled an encounter where John Marshall addressed those who spent five hours raging against the teaching of Jesus Christ. The Winchester Republican newspaper published the following occurrence involving Chief Justice John Marshall at McGuire’s Hotel in Winchester, after he had encountered trouble with his carriage along the road. In the tavern a heated discussion arose among some young men regarding the merits of the Christian religion. The debate lasted from six o’ clock until eleven. No one knew Marshal who sat there listening.

Finally, one of the youthful combatants turned to him and said: Well, my old gentleman, what think you of these things?” Marshall responded with a most eloquent and unanswerable appeal. “He talked for about an hour. He answered every ‘every argument urged against” the teachings of Jesus. “In the whole lecture, there was so much simplicity and energy, pathos and sublimity, that not another word was uttered.” The listeners wondered who the old man could be. Some thought him a preacher; and great was their surprise when they learned afterwards that he was the Chief Justice of the United States. Without making ostentatious professions of religion, he was a sincere believer in the Christian faith, and a truly devout man.

Marshall, as well as most of the Founding Fathers understood that for America to be great, her people must remain morally good. They also understood, as do I that the good we seek comes through Christ who strengthens us through his word and sterling example of how to live. Unfortunately, throughout history and in our republic today, there is a sizable number of those seeking to literally destroy our republic by calling those things that are good as though they are bad. Just as energetically they call those things that are evil good. Today’s educators, democrats and activist judges are trying to replace good with evil in every aspect of society. America’s founding and formation were both bathed in prayers to God almighty for his blessings, guidance, grace and mercy. Her Judeo/Christian roots cannot be denied nor allowed to be squandered away by those who prefer the evils of government tyranny, bad behaviors and evil murderous cruelties to unborn and newborn babies.

The secret to America’s greatness is embedded in the beliefs and actions of We the People who are relied upon to maintain our exceptional Constitutionally limited government way of life. To do that, again we must be good and not need government lording over our lives. Freedom with personal responsibility equals true liberty, thus maintaining our republic if we are willing to maintain the faith and exercise the moral principles rooted in the one continues to bless us even now.

Re-published March 8, 2017 July 11, 2019

As the Auburn trustees contemplate a replay of the annual “community” picnic and as Trustee John Eberly and Fiscal Officer Fred May wax ebullient over the exploits of Auburn pioneer, Bildad Bradley, and the contemporary Auburn resident who has, they think, gained some fame or notoriety in portraying him for Auburn residents looking for a good time and a rationale for keeping them in office, we are reminded of a real American patriot who helped preserve the freedom, not only of Auburn Township, but also the entire United States, but who has never even received a word of thanks from the current politicos. Seventy-seven years after his heroism, some of us still remember this local Auburn hero with gratitude. Don’t forget to watch the video to learn how at least one current Auburn trustee could not care less about true heroism because he is too busy asserting that because no one addressed the issue fourteen years ago, there is no reason today to correct the ignorance, lack of respect, and small-mindedness that has accompanied Auburn Township faux-leadership for more than a generation.

Those of you who have lived in Auburn Township for a while undoubtedly were familiar with the large parcel of land near the corner of Munn and East Washington Streets as Cathan Farm. There is no Cathan Farm any longer because the owners, James and Ruth, have passed on to their greater rewards. Both James and Ruth were “locals,” but they did not know each other until their college years at Kent State University. Both born about 1918, they married in 1939, acquiring over 50 acres in Auburn Township to raise livestock, particularly dairy cows, and to grow crops. Not too many years after their marriage, they were raising five lively youngsters: John, Joanne, Edic, Janet, and Michael.

Unknown to James Cathan’s children, he was living a secret life of developing mathematical and chemical formulas that led to the completion of World War II’s Manhattan Project. What was the Manhattan Project? It was the employment of thousands of skilled workers under scientists Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi, and others, to find a way to end World War II. In August 1945, the Manhattan Project came to fruition when two bombs were dropped on the wartime enemy, Japan. The first bomb, composed of 120 pounds of the uranium isotope, U235, was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 aircraft. The explosion of August 6, 1945, resulted in 40,000 immediate deaths and tens of thousands of additional fatalities from the effects of the bomb’s radiation, in total 90% of Hiroshima’s population. The plutonium bomb dropped from a second B-29 on Nagasaki on August 9 killed an estimated 40,000 people. Those two cataclysmic events brought a surrender from Emperor Hirohito of Japan and a return to peacetime. Without the efforts of the over 13,000 individuals, like Auburn’s Farmer James Cathan, World War II might have dragged on for several more years.

One of James’ and Ruth’s children, Janet Cathan Giunto, noted several years ago that as a child, she remembered her father’s interrupting his farming routine to answer questions on the phone. Unknown to her at the time, those questions involved scientific/mathematical questions regarding her father’s work on the Manhattan Project. It wasn’t until his death, however, that the children found the paperwork connecting their father with the Manhattan Project. Participants in the project received certificates from the Secretary of War at the time identifying “work essential to the production of the Atomic Bomb, thereby contributing to the successful conclusion of World War II.” Mrs. Giunto noted that her father’s farm work, for example milking the cows, was a way to relieve the stress of his wartime efforts.

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For most of Auburn Township, “Cathan Farm” came to symbolize the rural farm effort. James Cathan died in 2006, followed by the death of wife Ruth in 2014. For many people, the purchase of the farm parcel in 2005, not from the heroic Cathan family, but from the entity now known as the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, seemed like less than the most honorable treatment. To add insult to injury, Cathan Farm, without public input, became known as Auburn Community Park, cutting off all association of the parcel with a brave farm family that helped ensure American freedom.

At the Auburn Township March 6, 2017, trustee meeting, P. J. Cavanagh apparently felt compelled to provide another name for “Auburn Community Park.” Then the boastful egotism of John Eberly took over as he publicly ridiculed Cavanagh for having such thoughts. Cavanagh may have felt compelled to do something honorable and decent during the 200th anniversary of the founding of Auburn Township. And then the moment was all over, John Eberly gloated triumphantly, and the importance of one of Auburn Township’s most selfless citizens and protectors of freedom became buried once again. Too bad, P.J., that you just didn’t have the fortitude, the passion, or the persistence to do the right thing. If history does not remember Farmer-Hero Jim Cathan, it certainly won’t remember an Eberly, a Troyan, or a Cavanagh.

Thanks, anyway, PJ for the stab at providing honor and respect where they have been due.

Published Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Thanks to Brian Massie, known to many in northeast Ohio as Lobbyists for Citizens, and one of his readers for sharing this brutally frank assessment of House Bill 6 and reminding us of its startlingly prophetic similarities to the FDR era movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Call your Ohio State Senator immediately and tell him or her to vote NO on House Bill 6 before you no longer have any voice at all in the decision.

NEWS ALERT: Just what if it could be determined by an independent, wholly objective and credible source that First Energy Solutions does NOT need the $1.2 Billion bailout that is the basis of the highly controversial HB-6 bill under final (rushed) consideration by the Ohio Senate this very weekend?

First Energy Solutions itself refuses to open its books to justify its demand for the bailout of it’s [sic] two Ohio nuclear plants – reasons cited: it is in bankruptcy and “cannot disclose precisely how much money it is losing”?

Really? Does anybody actually believe that First Energy Solutions (FES) would have to withhold financial information from the Ohio General Assembly so it could possibly deceive (?) a federal bankruptcy court? Are you kidding?

It is far more likely that FES doesn’t want to open its books because it would reveal to the General Assembly (and us all) that their $1.2 Billion bailout is just not warranted…and that it is an over-reach unlike any we have seen in at least recent Ohio history.

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The attached video clip from the 1939 Hollywood blockbuster “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” has striking parallels to this current legislative battle, now being deliberated in the Ohio Senate.

Watch for the powerful political boss in the attached movie clip (substitute for powerful First Energy monolith); Watch for the special interest dam project that was not needed (substitute First Energy nuclear plant bailout); Watch for the political machinations and need to rush into a legislative “fix” to a problem that didn’t exist (substitute First Energy’s mad rush to pass HB-6 over a weekend, mid-night session).

Compare and contrast this 1939 video clip with the modern day duplicity and greed-driven zeal with which the most powerful special interest in this state (First Energy) … who has given UNPRECEDENTED campaign contributions to “every” political entity in Columbus … has manipulated ‘the peoples’ houses of government for their own financial gain.

In the final analysis, what’s going on, behind the scenes, with HB-6, may well be the greatest rip-off of the people of Ohio in our long history – a RIP-off of epoch proportions.

The Ohio Senate could either stop this ill-advised misadventure or it could, at the very least, place iron-clad “safeguards” into the bill which would demand ‘open book’ accountability and real transparency on the part of FES. It remains to be seen if there is yet a ‘Mr. Smith in Washington’ moment coming in the Ohio Senate.

Published Thursday, June 20, 2019

What is a public servant’s responsibility to provide and maintain transparency about his duties? The Ohio State Auditor says that Ohio’s Public Records Act exists”to Promote Open and Accountable Government” in its Certified Public Records Training Seminar “for Public Officials, Citizens, and the Media.” In fact, the State Auditor’s Office, under the leadership of Keith Faber, regularly presents its Certified Public Records Training Seminar free of cost multiple times during the year in various accessible locations across the State of Ohio.

This writer attended such a seminar on May 31 at the Dolan Auditorium on the campus of John Carroll University along with about thirty other individuals. It was a beautifully sunny day in northeast Ohio with temperatures in the seventies. In a conversation with the presenter, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice and present State Auditor employee, Mary DeGenero, born in Cleveland Heights, this writer was identified as one of two private citizens taking on the three-hour course. The public employees in attendance were doing so to meet the mandatory annual three-hour course required of all public officials; they were also eligible to earn a three-hour CEU certificate. While there, this writer did not recognize any public official, let alone anyone from the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office, in attendance. Again, for the record, it was a beautifully sunny Friday right after the celebrated Memorial Day holiday: a time for high spirits and celebration.

Ms. DeGenero started out on page 1 of the course guide, answering the question,: Why Do We Care about transparency in the State of Ohio? She responded that “Transparency facilitates effective government. . .People who aim to be their own governors must be armed with knowledge. . .Public records are the people’s records.” This Seminar identified a Public Record on page 2 of the coursework as Ohio Revised Code Section 149.43: “records kept by any public office.” Anyone in a Public Office is responsible for holding these records and dispensing them to anyone in the public who requests the record in “fixed medium” of paper or electronic recording, including but not limited to calendars, schematics, CDs, flash drives, emails, etc. (as noted on pages 4 and 9 of the training manual).

This writer has become intrigued with the process of public information requests pursuant to ORC 149.43 because of the ongoing experiences of one Geauga County voter who has documentation that her public information requests regarding the practices of Geauga Prosecutor Jim Flaiz were delayed and/or ignored in bad faith to his office. It all started in early January 2018 when Chardon voter/private investigator Susan Daniels made multiple requests to Flaiz asking for the number of criminal cases pursued by Flaiz in 2018 and employment records regarding Prosecutor’ special investigators, Karen Sweet, Christopher Scott, Craig T. Young, and Richard Warner over the time period of January 2018 through December 31, 2018. Records demonstrate that Ms. Daniels, although not required to do so in making public information requests pursuant to ORC 149.43, requested the information three times during the course of 2018. Ultimately, she was able to obtain the same requested information from the Geauga County Auditor without delay or travail.

Nevertheless, as a result of failure of the Prosecutor to supply the requested public information documents, Ms. Daniels filed a Mandamus styled as 19M000156 on February 19, 2019. A Mandamus is a legal action filed to force public officials to engage in actions that are required of them because of their office and responsibility to the public.

In Ohio, a Mandamus that results in a victory for the filer of the action, known as a Relator, awards the Relator $500 per day to recompense him/her for the expense of being denied information that is his public right to receive. A Mandamus is always filed in the form of State of Ohio, Ex. Rel John/Jane Doe, Relator, v. Jack Smith, Respondent with the demand for denied public information guaranteed by the Ohio Public Records Act, legal expenses incurred by the Relator in order to get information that was fraudulently denied by the public officer, and/or a monetary award for damages caused by the public officer’s neglect or misuse of the Ohio Public Records Act.

In response to the Mandamus filed against him, Prosecutor Flaiz demanded a jury trial to prove that he had acted wisely to refuse Ms. Daniels her information and hired two attorneys, Todd Raskin and Frank Scialdone, both of Mazanec, Raskin, and Ryder Co., LPA, at Geauga County taxpayer expense. His defense argument was that the information requested by Ms. Daniels was not in the form of public information documents and that the request was overly broad. Case Judge Carolyn Paschke set the first pre-trial hearing for December 19, 2019. The Relator/Plaintiff, Ms. Daniels, continued to pay her own expenses in her quest for public information guaranteed by the Ohio Public Records Act to each and every Geauga County citizen.

On April 2, 2019, the national organization, Judicial Watch, also sent a public information request to the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office, 231 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Chardon, Ohio4 44024. The communication requested
“All personnel records, training records, discipline records,resumes, expense
reports, and time sheets for Criminal Investigator Craig Young

All investigative records and reports generated by Criminal Investigator
Craig Young

All records of work-related communications, including but not limited to
email, text messages, and instant chats, between Criminal Investigator
Craig Young and any other federal, state or municipal government officials”
over the time period of December 2017 to April 2, 2019. In addition, pursuant to the Ohio Public Records Act, the letter from Judicial Watch noted, "If the request is denied, you are required to provide a written statement of the grounds for such denial. Such statement shall cite specific provisions of the law under which access is denied and shall be furnished to the requester no later than the end of the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received." ORC 149.43(B)(3). Also see WHY IS JUDICIAL WATCH INTERESTED IN THE PROSECUTOR?

Interestingly, on May 17, 2019, on behalf of Prosecutor Flaiz, Legal Assistant , Nancy Douglas, responded back to William Marshall of Judicial Watch, Inc, “Our office has begun compiling the records responsive to your request. However, they are voluminous. . .given the volume of records this may take another 30-45 days.”

Within the same time period (May 20, 2019) Flaiz’s attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment of 19M000156. RELATOR’S BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND RELATOR’S MOTION FOR ORDER REQUIRING RESPONDEN T TO PAY RELATOR’S COSTS PURSUANT TO CIVIL RULE 56(E) was filed Monday, May 17, 2019.

One of the issues covered at the May 31 Certified Public Records Training Seminar required annually of all public servants was what to do once an office releases public information documents for any entity or individual. During 2018 Prosecutor Flaiz refused public information requests regarding Craig Young and the other “special investigators” multiple times, identifying Ms. Daniels’ requests as “overly broad” and “not responsive to public information documents.” When Judicial Watch made substantially the same requests regarding Special Investigator Craig Young, her request filed in early 2018 remains refused on the grounds of “not responsive to public information documents” and “overly broad.” Page 17 of the Certified Public Records Training Seminar notes that once a public office makes a disclosure to anyone by choice, it is henceforth required to make the same disclosure to anyone else anytime the filer requests. The presenter of the Certified Public Records Training Seminar, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Mary deGenero verbally responded to my inquiry regarding 19M000156 in Geauga County with the same response: The Prosecutor’s Office must treat all Relator’s and requesters of the same public information in the same manner. The Prosecutor must comply with the requested information, which the Prosecutor’s Office in its response to Judicial Watch and the Auditor’s transmission of information regarding Craig Young have demonstrated is indeed public information subject to public receipt under ORC 149.43.

Daniels’ BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, filed by Cleveland Criminal Attorney, Kimberly Kendall Corral, cites Flaiz’s violation of Civil Rule 56C.  "A summary judgment shall not be rendered unless it appears from the evidence or stipulation. . .that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made."  Additionally, the opposition brief cites 149.43 (C)(1)(b) and argues that “the Relator must be able to prove that 1) he/she as a clear legal right to have a specific act performed by a public official and 2) the public official has a corresponding duty to perform the act, and 3) there is no other legal remedy that could be pursued to adequately resolve the matter.” State ex rel Sanders v. Enlow. 11th Dist. 2010 Ohio 5053 at p.14

BRIEF IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT argues the flaws in the Prosecutor’s actions and arguments. It argues that Respondent Flaiz’s claims that Relator's requests have been fulfilled at the same time that they have been overly-broad demonstrates a contradiction and situations which cannot exist at the same time (page 9). Additionally, the brief points out the difficulty that the Prosecutor’s Office has provided for itself by fulfilling the voluminous public information requests of Judicial Watch, while refusing Daniels’. Finally, the opposition brief notes on page 11 that the “respondent has provided no explanation for the conclusion that the request was overly-broad,” in violation of ORC 149.43(B)(3) and therefore asks for attorney fees and Statutory damages and costs, per ORC 149.43(C)(2) and 149.43(C)(3)(a) and (b), and Civil Rule 56(E).

What will Judge Carolyn Paschke do? Will she issue a ruling within 30 days? Will she enable the charade to continue by waiting until December 2019 to hold a pretrial hearing and subsequently seat a jury at a cost of $1200 at the cost of Geauga County taxpayers or the Relator?

We will be following this case with intense interest. We remind everyone that the Ohio State Auditor provides mandatory, but free, public records training for ALL public officials on an annual basis. This training is open to ANYONE! Additionally, the State Auditor offers a yearly update of Ohio Sunshine Laws, affectionately known as The Yellow Book, a 120-page publication with 70 Appendices offered simply by contacting the Ohio State Auditor’s Office by phone or email at that website. In the words of Mary DeGenero, presenter for the Ohio State Auditor’s Certified Public Records Training, public officials need to foster good will by complying with reasonable public information requests, rather than denying reasonable requests and creating litigation for themselves and a bad impression of Ohio government.

We will revisit these topics of transparent government, irresponsible and arrogant public servants who disregard the law, and the valiant efforts of citizens to make public servants answerable to their constituencies.

Published Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Have you spent any money on a dehumidifier recently? How much would you expect to pay for
that device?

At the June 17, 2019, Auburn Township Trustee meeting, Trustee Michael Troyan, without mentioning the
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prices paid or the number of dehumidifiers purchased, noted that the 80% + humidity problem on the second floor of the Auburn Township Fire Station dropped to 50% when four dehumidifiers were installed in the heating system at a cost of $4000. The payment was made in warrant 5234 to Green Heating on June 17, 2019, as Fire Chief John Phillips responded to a question from the audience.

Troyan noted that future examination by the same company for the same problem on the first floor of the building may result in the same solution to reduce excess humidity. Can we expect a price of $4000 for four more dehumidifiers in the heating system?

A couple of observations are worth mentioning. In doing some price analysis, we noted that 70-pint capacity dehumidifiers ( Vremi, Frigidaire, Pure & Dry, Shinco, Ivation, HomeLabs, and other brands; priced between $200-$300 each).

Why did the dehumidifiers cost about $1000 each? Are they made of precious metal?

How long has excess humidity been a problem? Or has it been a problem since the “new” fire station was built in 2011?

Is the excess humidity problem (over 80%) the result of a faulty heating system that could be inducing carbon monoxide along with the humidity?

Could Mr. Troyan have misspoken and meant the air conditioning part of the HVAC not the heating system?

Is this a safety problem that threatens the health and welfare of our firefighters and any visitors who enter the Auburn Township Fire Department?

Published Tuesday, June 18, 2019

It appears that there are two Geauga townships trying to play one-upsmanship in Geauga County. It all seemed to start when the former county planning director, already a participant in the retire-rehire game
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some twenty years ago, finally left his office for good during December 2018-January 2019. Though the Ohio Ethics Commission indicates a problem if a government employee engages in the same kind of activities within six months of leaving employment, Bainbridge Township announced earlier this spring that it was hiring the individual at a rate of $25 per hour to serve in a possible “planning capacity.” Thus far, Bainbridge Township has expressed no negative consequences for creating a possible conflict of interest.

At the June 17, 2019, Auburn Township meeting, Trustee Eberly announced that after the former director had announced his availability as a “planning” expert at the April 10, 2019, Geauga Township Association Quarterly Dinner, Auburn Township decided to hire him at the same $25 per hour rate as Bainbridge offered. At the January 8, 2019, Auburn Township Trustee meeting, Kitko soaked up a 10% raise to pull down $2200 per month for his three-hours-a-week availability to residents. Hardy appeared to be paid $19.15 per hour (over her $18.60 per hour 2018 wage) for her function as Zoning Secretary, Board of Zoning Secretary, and Assistant Zoning Inspector.

Since Auburn Township already has 50-year Zoning Inspector Frank Kitko, stylized by one Trustee as “The Dean,” (office hours, Friday afternoons), and Assistant Zoning Inspector, Zoning Secretary, and Board of Zoning Appeals Secretary, Twinsburg resident, Jane Hardy, what need does the township have for the extra planning baggage strewn their way?

. . .Must have something to do with looking as important as Bainbridge . . .

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.

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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.

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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