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Contact Me: jacquelyn.k.thompson@hotmail.com

Welcome

Hello and Welcome:

Over the summer of 2010 I began to ask myself, "what do you do if two of our Rights, as citizens of these United States, are diametrically opposed?" I came to the only viable conclusion: you compromise. Our great Nation works when there is compromise.

Right now most of you will agree with me that our political system is broken. What we currently have is: the politics of destruction; special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy; politicians who must spend their time raising money for the next election instead of doing the People's business; and, there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats.


The attacks that we were inundated with during the this election cycle belittled the democratic process. Shame on everyone involved. And, shame on the political obstructionists who are more interested in gaining and maintaining power than doing the people’s business. During these very difficult times all of us should be supporting our President. The challenge for all of us is, how do we improve upon this imperfect union that we call the United States of America? One thing I know for certain...it is not by dividing us.

I can remember when I was sixteen years old there was a day when my father called out to me, "Jackie, come quickly. You have to hear this. It's Winston Churchill. Come listen." I raced to the radio and for the first time heard a recording of Churchill's speech to a Nation standing alone against the greatest evil the world has ever known: "...we shall defend our island no matter what the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; and we shall not surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until in God's good time, the New World, with all it's power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of The Old."


That day my hero was born. Where are our heroes today? jkt

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Armed and Dangerous

Our Children: 3,000+ gun-related deaths per year. Ohio ranks 8th in the number of children & teens killed by guns. The gun owners care more for their guns than they do our children.

Our Women: One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. The gun owners care more for their guns than they do our women.

$14 Trillion debt and rising, failing schools, perpetual warrior, violent, armed and dangerous...we are becoming a Third World Nation.

Nothing will be right in this country until we put our children first.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Angel's First Christmas

                       

Angel is one of the 89 dogs that were rescued by the Delaware County (Ohio) Humane Society last summer. She is ten years old. She and the other dogs were living out their lives locked away in filthy cages. She had had puppies; one can only imagine how many times. She had never been outside. When she first came home with me, she shook in terror at sounds we take for granted and hardly notice. It took her three months of coaxing before she took off running and playing with me and my other dogs.  She is a brave little girl, and safe now in our home.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi

                         


Monday, December 20, 2010

Afghanistan

                                                                 

I urge everyone to go to The National Geographic website: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/afghan-women/rubin-text/1 and read about the plight of Afghan women who "suffer under the constraints of tribalism, poverty, and war".

The pictures tell the story of their heart-wrenching despair and sorrow. When I saw the photos and read the stories about the abused women of Afghanistan, I literally cried. This is the institutionalized abuse of an entire nation of women. We cannot abandon them. It would be immoral to do so.

If that is not reason enough, consider that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban of Afghanistan pose a real threat to all freedom-loving Nations. Pakistan, with it's nuclear arsenal, is in danger of falling to them.

From the beginning, this war should have been conducted by a mulitnational force with shared sacrifice of lives and resources by all. Nations everywhere need to step in and let our war-weary soldiers come home.

It is time to begin dismantling the "military-industrial complex" that President Eisenhower warned us about. We have gradually become the Perpetual Warrior State. It is time to stand down, America. Let the rest of the free world carry the load for awhile.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Drill Baby, Drill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Republican legislators have just come out with their recommendations for balancing Ohio's budget, including the recommendation to "allow drilling on state-owned lands to help fund the Ohio Department of Natural Resources".

My friend has a farm that abuts part of the Wayne National Forest. For years her daughter, Amy, and I rode horses there. To begin, the trail led upwards. Enveloped in a canopy of trees we rode higher and higher. At the top, our horses waded through flowing water at cliff's edge. We watched as it cascaded downward to the forest below. I imagined us as time travelers, riding into primeval forests untouched by man.

Onward we rode through meadows and woods. No sounds did we hear but the stomping of hooves, the swishing of tails and high-spirited snorts as we leaped over fallen trees and washed out gullies along our way. Every so often my horse, Trisket, would dance a little jig then come to a halt, spooked by shadows falling across our path. Then off we would go again, into the unknown, awaiting the next adventure just around the next bend.

Then one day the drillers came in. They downed trees and bulldozed over the top of the waterfall, literally putting a stop to the flow of water. They ruined that land with their machines and their drills.

Our parks and public lands are an integral part of the fabric of our Nation ( see Parks, Our Natural Heritage 09/05/10).

Do not let the Republicans and the gas and oil exploiters destroy our public lands. They have been set aside for future generations and should not be violated.

We the People

When our Legislators refuse to legislate, the People have the right to put an issue on the ballot to let the People decide. The latest trend is to stop issues from going to the ballot.

In my community, the men on Council refused to let the People decide if pit bulls should be banned. They refused to put the question to the voters when offered the opportunity.

500,000 Ohio voters signed the ballot initiative that would let the People decide upon improving the conditon of farm animals. The Governor and special interest groups made an agreement behind closed doors and stopped the issue from going to the ballot.

The greatest form of free speech is one person, one vote. The Conservative Justices on the Supreme Court recently ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. In dissent, Justice Stevens said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. Corporations may not have the vote, but they have the cash to buy our legislators through campaign contributions.

This is supposed to be a Nation of the People, by the People and for the People. Instead we have  special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy; politicians who spend their time raising money for the next election instead of doing the People's business; and, there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats.

It is a sad statement on the condition of politics in the U.S. If our legislators will not do the job, stop blocking the People from doing it for them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Destroyer & The Appeaser

It is a known fact that the Republican Party's plan, for decades, has been to bankrupt the country so that there would be an excuse to do away with the social safety nets put in place by Democrats... unemployment compensation, social security, Medicare, Medicaid and the minimum wage, to name a few.

In Geoge Bush, they found the perfect instrument of destruction. It has now come to fruition. And, at every step the Democratic Party has folded.  Democrats have become the modern day equivilant of Neville Chamberlain. Barack Obama is not the great compromiser, as he sees himself. He is an appeaser.

You will notice in the bi-partisan commission's recent proposal to lower the budget deficit, the recommendations include cuts in social security, a rise in the retirement age for social security recipients, an increase in Medicare costs for the elderly. There is no recommendation to raise taxes on the wealthy. There is no recommendation to raise taxes to pay for two wars, which to date have been funded by borrowing billions. There is no mention of shared sacrifice. The middle class and the least among us will be the ones paying.

At sixteen, I "met" my hero. Where are our heroes today? jkt

Sunday, December 5, 2010

War

photo
by
Rex B. Thompson

When I heard that George Bush was contemplating the invasion of Iraq, I became alarmed. His whole premise to justify an attack rang false to me.  I knew that the UN inspectors on the ground in Iraq had found no stockpiles of WMD and claimed to be close to resolving the remaining issues of disarmament as mandated by the UN Security Council. They concluded that it would take just months to finish their task to verify compliance.

Patriotism is nothing more than a political tool used to justify war. George Bush used the specter of 911 to manipulate doubters into submission in his march towards war in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of American and innocent Iraqi lives have been lost for naught. 

We have more to fear than the burgeoning military-industrial complex.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, Brother

The Columbus Dispatch reported today:

"It's party time in India because of Gov. Ted Strickland's loss to John Kasich. So says The Pioneer, an Indian newspaper. Strickland angered some Indian government and business officials by banning outsourcing of jobs under contract by state government to foreign countries. The Indian government vowed to complain to U.S. international trade officials.
"A cheer may well go up in India over the outcome of a US gubernatorial face," The Pioneer wrote. "Despite President Barack Obama making a number of visits to shore up his prospects, Strickland ended up losing the Ohio race..."

In September I wrote:

"The Huffington Post reported today that the "Senate Republicans beat back an effort by Democrats to end tax breaks for companies who send jobs overseas only to import the products back into the United States. The bill included a payroll tax holiday for companies that bring jobs back from overseas, ended tax breaks for plants that shut down to go elsewhere, and blocked companies from deferring their tax bill year to year by keeping money out of the U.S.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in the United States, has aggressively fought the effort to reduce outsourcing. In 2004, Chamber head Tom Donohue made the case that outsourcing shouldn't be a concern because only "two, maybe three million jobs, maybe four" would be lost.

During the debate over the stimulus, the U.S. Chamber also fought efforts to include a provision that would encourage taxpayer money to be spent on products made by domestic companies. It opposed the outsourcing bill, arguing in a letter to the Senate that "replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth". Really?

Our workers, the most productive in the world, do not deserve to be abandoned by Big Business in their time of need. It is time to bring the jobs home."

Since John Kasich won the gubernatorial election, I think we all know how this is going to work out for the American worker.

A New Political Party

                                                            
Now that we are at the end of this election cycle I am convinced, more than ever, that the United States is in need of a new political party...a party that represents the Center. The Left and Right have become so radicalized they no longer represent the majority of the people. I'm not talking about a Green Party, a Libertarian Party or a Socialist Party, each of which pulls in about 2-5% of the vote. In this technological age, it should be possible to form a national movement... a new political party.

During the months running up to the election I began to ask myself, "what do you do if two of our Rights, as citizens of these United States, are diametrically opposed?" I came to the only viable conclusion: you compromise. Our great Nation works when there is compromise.

So, upon this foundation a new party shall be born.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Education & Democracy

Our educational system is failing and is a root cause of the decline of this country. Not only is our country in danger economically, but an uneducated citizenry puts our Democracy in grave peril.

Corporate America can pour all of the money in the world into elections, but it is successful only if the majority of the voters believe the propagandists who use subterfuge to "create false realities". That is where education comes in. It is a sad statement on the condition of our schools, that only one third of them even teach Civics. Is it no wonder we are where we are?

I am amazed that voters continue to buy into the cacophony that has replaced civil discourse in this country. Have they forgotten the 8 years that preceded President Obama's two years in office? Why would they, once again, hand our country over to the pro-business, pro-rich, pro-war politicians who brought us to the brink of disaster?

If we do not educate future generations, the ideals upon which our country was founded will continue to wane and our place in history will have passed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homeless in America

                       
I have been laid off from jobs three times during my lifetime. The first time was during the recession of 1980. I was the single mother of two young children and I had to pack up, uproot my children and leave my beloved hills of southern Ohio to find work in Columbus. The second time my company laid me off two weeks before Christmas. Some of you know what that's like. Try to remain calm and upbeat so your kids can have a happy holiday, while you're drowning inside. Fortunately I was rehired soon after. The third time was awful. I was ill and afraid that I might lose the home I had purchased. Thank goodness the kids were grown and I had only myself to worry about.

During that dark period, on a day I will always remember, I rode the bus downtown early one morning. I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I walked across the Statehouse grounds to meet a friend when suddenly I came upon a homeless man asleep on the lawn. I stopped in my tracks and thought, "there, but for the grace of God, go I". That day stuck with me, even after I found work, and though I am not a poet, I felt compelled to be a witness to the tragedy of homelessness in America.  I would like to share it with you :
       
Lifeline
by
Jacquelyn K. Thompson

Homeless stranger lying on the lawn
wrapped in your tattered coat,
covered by the morning dew.

I can not say that I understand
what you are going through, because
 never have I walked in your shoes.

But I have walked along
my own life line
one step over...then draw back.

Walking a tightrope throughout the years...
stumble here, live with the fear.
No home now? My children, my children.

Then righting myself, just in time
a balancing act to walk that line
over and over...quickly draw back!

Another stranger sitting on the grass,
hand held out to share his bread
with God's small creature come to ask.

Turning full circle I looked about.
There lay all the strangers, homeless
on the Statehouse grounds.

While overhead steel monuments shadows cast
their pall...silently brooding
giving testimony to man's indifference.

Shadows falling down upon the flow of man
anxiously awaits the end of day, fleeing
to sheltered homes in sterile fortresses.

Ghostly shadows, passersby...preferred secrets
hidden in the recesses of their minds
rejects your existence with downturned eyes.

With silent tears I walked on by
cowardly determined to toe the line.
For willingly taken just two short steps...

Two steps over and I won't go back.   

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Budget Straight Talk

Last Friday (October 8th) I participated in the Franklin County Cosortium for Good Government's Candidates Forum at the Jewish Center. As it is for everyone during these difficult times, the state budget deficit was of concern to attendees. Unlike my opponents, I told the people what no one wants to admit to, we are going to have to raise taxes to get out of the hole we are in. The question for all of us is, how are we going to do it? We should put everything on the table and look for a permanent solution, not quick fixes:

1.)You cannot solve the budget deficit without tackling State employee wages and benefits. They are outpacing private industry by an ever-widening margin. Contrary to a widely held notion, the extra government (employee) benefits aren't compensation for lower pay.
2.)Raise State employee retirement age.
3.)Reduce various business tax breaks and close tax loopholes.
4.)Cut government waste.
5.)Levy the sales tax at a higher rate on luxury items.
6.)Review tax exemptions for certain businesses.
7.)Add new income tax brackets at the upper income level.
8.)We should not attempt to solve the budget crisis by increasing taxes on those who can least afford it, nor should we cut programs for those in need.
9.)We have ceded our moral authority by relying on what I call the "addiction" taxes on cigarettes, liquor, and, soon on gambling to balance the budget. Where is the incentive to help cure the addiction if we rely on the revenue to balance the budget?

According to Richard G. Sheridan, Financial Consultant, The Center for Community Solutions,"The state's problems are not only a result of the bad national and state economic conditions. It is also the result of actions taken by the state in 2005, to reduce the rate of the state's individual income tax by 21%, eliminate the corporate income tax and tangible personal property tax for the general businesses and telecommunications companies and enact a new commercial activity tax, the overall result of which was to reduce taxes on certain businesses by an average of 50%."

A cautionary note: Overruling precedent on the First Amendment rights of corporations, the Conservative Justices on the Supreme Court recently ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. Dissenting, Justice Stevens said the majority on the Court had "committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings". There is a reason that the Chamber of Commerce is contributing millions to promote the pro-business candidates in this election. I guarantee that it is not for the benefit of the people.

Lastly, however we balance the budget we must ensure that the money will be there to invest in the future of Ohio. I support free education all the way through college for our children, because that makes us competitive with the rest of the world; I support high-speed train systems and metro rail systems because our roads will continue to become more congested and gas prices will continue to rise; I support investment in innovative new companies that will grow and provide jobs for the future; I support practices that will protect the environment, because that is what sustains us.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vicious Dogs

Dog breeds commonly known as pit bulls are: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the American Bulldog. In addition each of these fighting breeds is either a pit bull derivative or was derived from ancestors similar to pit bull ancestors: dogo argentino, canary dog (presa canario), cane corso, tosa (tosa inu), fila brasileiro (Brazilian mastiff) and presa mallorquin. 

Yesterday, October 5, 2010, A 67-year-old Delaware man was viciously attacked by 4 Cane Corsos.

How many attacks, how much suffering must there be before our legislators finally act and ban these vicious animals?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) "supports such laws because they have the potential to prevent an enormous amount of suffering. In the United States, pit bulls stand out as the most abused of all dog breeds. Are some pit bulls loving companions? Absolutely. But it is imprtant to bear in mind that nice families rarely come to a shelter seeking pit bulls. The vast majority of people who want pit bulls are attracted to the "macho" image of the breed as a living weapon and seek to play up this image by putting the animals in heavy chains, kicking, beating and otherwise abusing them into aggression."                                                                              
                                                       
Did you know that the Ohio House has passed legislation that would remove the "vicious dog" designation from the pit bull breeds, further exposing the public to danger? Currently dogs commonly known as a Pit Bull must be confined on the owner's property by means of a locked fenced yard, a locked dog pen that has a top, or some other locked enclosure that has a top (such as a house). This law applies not only to pure bred American Pit Bull dogs, but also to other pure bred and mixed breed dogs that have similar physical and/or behavioral characteristics. Owners of these dogs must also maintain at least $100,000 of liability insurance coverage. The maximum penalty for any violation is a $1,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment. These minimal protections offered up by the State are soon to be eliminated.
                                  
Records in Delaware County Municipal Court show that the owner of the 4 Cane Corso dogs, involved in yesterday's attack, has been charged six times since 2001 with allowing his dogs to run free. It's time for the Courts to take vicious animals seriously and quit giving owners a slap on the wrist when charged.

Where are our heroes? Is there no one who will stand up to special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy? Then there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats. Shame on all of them.                                   

Friday, October 1, 2010

Elder Care

                                  
                                                                         
The Columbus Dispatch recently reported (7-23-10) that "not only is nursing-home care more expensive than in-home care and community-based alternatives, but most elderly people want to stay in their homes as long as possible. In Ohio, however, many are forced to give up their homes and move into nursing homes because formulas written into law at the behest of the nursing-home lobby have made seemingly endless funds available to fill the excess of nursing-home beds but have been stingy with funding for assisted living and other less-expensive care."

According to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, the state spends an average of $22,000 per year for senior citizens older than 65 or disabled, while the national average is $15,000.

More than 80 percent of Americans 45 and older say they want to stay home as long as possible. If seniors prefer staying in their homes and it is cost effective to do so, why are we directing tax dollars to the nursing home industry?

There is a song, based on words in the Book of Ecclesiastes:
"To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose, under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die."

We all deserve a life of dignity and dignity in death. Forcing our elders into nursing homes, when they are better off at home, is wrong. I will work to overcome the influence of lobbyists in State government.

Heat

This is from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio website at

[If you get worn out trying to decipher this, skip to the bottom at any time]

"Columbia Gas of Ohio Apples to Apples Chart
Publication Date: September 21, 2010

The PUCO produces the Apples to Apples charts to provide consumers with a snapshot comparison of current natural gas supplier price options and contract terms for individual customers. You may also want to check with your local government to see if your community has grouped together citizens into a buying pool to purchase gas. The PUCO updates the charts on a weekly basis and verifies each supplier offer to ensure accuracy. As with all contracts, consumers should carefully read and understand all terms and conditions before signing any forms or agreeing to enroll with a supplier for natural gas service. For a description of Apples to Apples chart-related terms, please refer to Chart Definitions .

The PUCO provides the tools you need to calculate your estimated cost. The Self-Calculation Worksheet that is available on the PDF version of the Apples to Apples Charts, walks you through the steps needed to manually calculate your own estimated cost. Or, you can access the Apples to Apples Interactive Calculator to automatically calculate your estimated costs.

Columbia Gas of Ohio's Rate
The Standard Service Offer (SSO) rate is based on the New York Mercantile Exchange month-end settlement price, plus a Retail Price Adjustment of $0.193. The SSO is a monthly variable rate and represents cost associated with the securing natural gas for CGO customers.

Columbia Gas of Ohio's (CGO) current total rate is $0.69919 per hundred cubic feet (ccf)
Effective from August 27, 2010 to September 27, 2010

This total rate includes: A Standard Service Offer (SSO) rate of $0.55810 per ccf
A Regulatory Assessment Rider rate of $0.00177 per ccf
A Gross Receipts Tax amount of $ 0.02792 per ccf
Transportation costs of $0.11140 per ccf (gross receipts tax included)

Contact information for Columbia Gas of Ohio: 200 Civic Center Dr., Columbus, OH 43215, (800) 344-4077, www.ColumbiagasofOhio.com .

PUCO-Certified Retail Natural Gas Suppliers Actively Soliciting New Customers
Supplier Name Web Page Address Telephone
Border Energy, Inc. http://www.border-energy.com/ (888) 479-4427
Columbia Retail Energy http://www.columbiaretailenergy.com (888) 493-6790
Direct Energy Services, LLC http://www.directenergy.com (888) 566-9988
Dominion East Ohio Energy http://www.dom.com/about/companies/retail/choice_eoe.jsp (800) 990-4090
Energy Cooperative of Ohio http://www.ohioenergycoop.org (877) 439-3706
Gateway Energy Services, Corp. http://www.gesc.com (800) 313-8333
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. http://www.integrysenergy.com (866) 336-5547
Just Energy http://www.justenergy.com/ (877) 226-5371
MxEnergy, Inc. http://www.mxenergy.com (888) 898-4323
Ohio Natural Gas http://www.onlyong.com (888) 466-4427
Vectren Source http://www.vectrensource.com (800) 516-6740
Volunteer Energy Services, Inc. http://www.volunteerenergy.com (800) 977-8374

Supplier Plans, Rates, Terms and Descriptions
Listed below are the natural gas plan offers of PUCO-certified suppliers, per Ccf. Published offers are subject to change without prior notice. The Supplier Total Rate , which is the price to compare, includes the Supplier Base Rate and CGO's current transportation charge . If comparing Supplier Total Rate to CGO's total SSO rate, which is currently set at $ 0.69919 /Ccf, keep in mind that the Supplier Base Rate is exclusive of applicable state and county sales tax, whereas CGO's total SSO rate is tax inclusive.

As CGO's transportation rate historically changes quarterly, the Supplier Total Rate is subject to change post publication; therefore, this information should be used only as a guide. Consumers should verify offers with the supplier before signing a contract. The PUCO is not responsible for selections you make based on the information contained herein.

Local Distribution Company SSO Rate
per ccf Total Rate
per ccf Effective Date
Columbia Gas $0.55810 $0.69919 August 27, 2010 to September 27, 2010

Fixed Rate Plan
Supplier Name Plan ID Supplier Base Rate Supplier Total Rate Contract Term Plan Description Contract Early Termination Fee
Border Energy, Inc. 10929 $0.73900 $0.85040 12-Month .739 fixed rate Nov 2010 to May 2011; variable thereafter $75.00
Columbia Retail Energy 10892 $0.75000 $0.86140 Through 09/2011 Billing Cycle $100.00
Direct Energy Services, LLC 10916 $0.69900 $0.81040 12-Month $50.00
Direct Energy Services, LLC 10915 $0.69900 $0.81040 6-Month $0.00
Dominion East Ohio Energy 10887 $0.76500 $0.87640 Through 09/2011 Billing Cycle $50.00
Gateway Energy Services, Corp. 10938 $0.73960 $0.85100 12-Month Special Introductory $50 Prepaid Card. Use promo code OH50V. $12.50
Gateway Energy Services, Corp. 10936 $0.78320 $0.89460 24-Month Special Introductory $50 Prepaid Card. Use promo code OH50V. $12.50
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. 10937 $0.71800 $0.82940 13-Month $75.00
Just Energy 10889 $0.89900 $1.01040 60-Month $100 ETF for Res. & Small Commercial. $100.00
Just Energy 10888 $0.67500 $0.78640 12-Month $50.00
MxEnergy, Inc. 10920 $0.79900 $0.91040 12-Month $150.00
MxEnergy, Inc. 10919 $0.84900 $0.96040 6-Month $150.00
Ohio Natural Gas 10896 $0.67900 $0.79040 12-Month $100.00
Vectren Source 10931 $0.68000 $0.79140 12-Month $25.00

Fixed Summer/Fixed Winter Rate Plan
Supplier Name Plan ID Supplier Base Rate Supplier Total Rate Contract Term Plan Description Contract Early Termination Fee
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. 10942 $0.73600 $0.84740 Through 10/2010 Billing Cycle Summer billing period is May 2010 through October 2010. $75.00

Monthly Variable Rate Plan
Supplier Name Plan ID Supplier Base Rate Supplier Total Rate Contract Term Plan Description Contract Early Termination Fee
Energy Cooperative of Ohio 10932 $0.69900 $0.81040 Monthly $0.00
Gateway Energy Services, Corp. 10940 $0.70000 $0.81140 Monthly Special Introductory $50 Prepaid Card. Use promo code OH50V. $0.00
Gateway Energy Services, Corp. 10939 $0.66500 $0.77640 Monthly Special Introductory $50 Prepaid Card. Use promo code OH50V. $0.00
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. 10934 $0.66500 $0.77640 12-Month EcoVations Renewable Gas w/Carbon Offsets at NO EXTRA COST $0.00
MxEnergy, Inc. 10921 $0.69900 $0.81040 Monthly $0.00
Volunteer Energy Services, Inc. 10906 $0.72000 $0.83140 Monthly $0.00

Quarterly Variable Rate Plan
Supplier Name Plan ID Supplier Base Rate Supplier Total Rate Contract Term Plan Description Contract Early Termination Fee
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. 10941 $0.66500 $0.77640 12-Month EcoVations Renewable Gas w/ Carbon Offsets AT NO EXTRA COST $75.00

Variable Summer/Fixed Winter Rate Plan
Supplier Name Plan ID Supplier Base Rate Supplier Total Rate Contract Term Plan Description Contract Early Termination Fee
Integrys Energy Services, Inc. 10935 $0.66500 $0.77640 12-Month Fixed winter months are November - April $75."

There's more, but I think you get the picture. It is mind-boggling. Heating our homes is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Ohioans should not have to play the lottery in order to get natural gas to heat their homes. If you make the wrong choice your bills could be astronomical. And what if the plan you choose has a contract? More than likely there will be cancellation penalties if you try to switch providers in the middle of the contract. Who can afford that...especially in these times? We need to slay this monster the State has created. And after reading the Apples to Apples comparison charts, I have to ask, "who is the PUCO working for...the gas suppliers or the people"? If elected I will work towards re-regulating the natural gas industry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Appalachia-What If?

Appalachia, comprised of the eastern and southeastern Ohio counties, ranks among the poorest parts of the state. I have lived there and have seen the abject poverty that plagues the region.

In July, Ann Curry of NBC News reported, "All across America, it is happening. People are hurting. For some, this economy may be turning around. But millions of families are at risk of going hungry in one of the richest nations on earth. The number of Americans visiting local food pantries has jumped 30 percent in the past two years alone. And here, in this rural region of Ohio, the very heart of America, the need is especially urgent...the stories poignant. Tonight, a very personal look inside the lives of families who’ve had it all vanish – jobs, homes, and dreams. How do you choose between paying your bills and feeding your kids?"

What If?

How many of us have called our phone company, our bank, or internet support and have ended up talking to someone in India? If companies can build and operate call centers thousands of miles away, why can't they build them in Appalachia? Business is conducted by telephone and computer. Call centers can be anywhere.

What if the State approached the companies that have outsourced American jobs to foreign countries with a proposal:

-The State of Ohio will build and operate educational/training centers in Southeastern Ohio to prepare Ohioans for employment in call centers. 
-The State of Ohio will build the infrastructure, as needed.
-The State of Ohio will provide tax incentives to any company building a call center in Appalchia.
-The State of Ohio will, on a sliding scale, subsidize employee income to offset the salary differential between wages paid to workers in Third World countries and those paid in the U.S,
-The State of Ohio will pay employee contributions to company-sponsored health insurance.
-The company will import temporary management to oversee operations, as needed, with the intention of eventually promoting exclusively from within.
-In return for incentives provided by the State, the company will agree to a long-term commitment to the area.

Call centers employ thousands of workers. Why not build them in Appalachia? We can spend our tax dollars on welfare, or food stamps, or medicaid or subsidized housing or we can build a foundation for the future of Appalachia.
                                                                                

Outsourcing

The Huffington Post reported today that the "Senate Republicans beat back an effort by Democrats to end tax breaks for companies who send jobs overseas only to import the products back into the United States. The bill included a payroll tax holiday for companies that bring jobs back from overseas, ended tax breaks for plants that shut down to go elsewhere, and blocked companies from deferring their tax bill year to year by keeping money out of the U.S.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in the United States, has aggressively fought the effort to reduce outsourcing. In 2004, Chamber head Tom Donohue made the case that outsourcing shouldn't be a concern because only "two, maybe three million jobs, maybe four" would be lost.

During the debate over the stimulus, the U.S. Chamber also fought efforts to include a provision that would encourage taxpayer money to be spent on products made by domestic companies. It opposed the outsourcing bill, arguing in a letter to the Senate that "replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth". Really?

Our workers, the most productive in the world, do not deserve to be abandoned by Big Business in their time of need. It is time to bring the jobs home.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Outsourcing

The Huffington Post reported today that the "Senate Republicans beat back an effort by Democrats to end tax breaks for companies who send jobs overseas only to import the products back into the United States. The bill included a payroll tax holiday for companies that bring jobs back from overseas, ended tax breaks for plants that shut down to go elsewhere, and blocked companies from deferring their tax bill year to year by keeping money out of the U.S.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in the United States, has aggressively fought the effort to reduce outsourcing. In 2004, Chamber head Tom Donohue made the case that outsourcing shouldn't be a concern because "two, maybe three million jobs, maybe four" would be lost.

During the debate over the stimulus, the U.S. Chamber also fought efforts to include a provision that would encourage taxpayer money to be spent on products made by domestic companies. It opposed the outsourcing bill, arguing in a letter to the Senate that "replacing a job that is based in another country with a domestic job does not stimulate economic growth". Really?

Our workers, the most productive in the world, do not deserve to be abandoned by Big Business in their time of need. It is time to bring the jobs home.

.

Tax Loopholes & More

CNN Money reported that quite contrary to President Ronald Reagan’s reputation, he actually signed into law what amounted to the “largest tax increase in (peacetime) American history”–upon realizing that our country couldn’t really afford the largest tax cuts that he had put in place earlier in his Administration. But the Reagan Administration’s tax increases were large in terms of revenue gains, not in terms of marginal tax rates, because they did it the smart way: by reforming the tax system to make the tax base broader and more efficient. Two bills passed in 1982 and 1984 together “constituted the biggest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime,” tax historian Joseph Thorndike said.

Reagan didn’t raise more revenue by hiking individual income tax rates though. Instead he and a bi-partisan Congress did it largely through making it tougher to evade taxes, and through “base broadening” — that is, reducing various federal tax breaks and closing tax loopholes.

Imagine if the slash-and-burn budget cuts that have become a new way of life for recession-stricken state governments could be ended by keeping the tax burden off low- and middle-income families while raising taxes on the wealthy.

When asked about a proposed new income tax in Washington state, Willaim Gates, Sr., a prominent retired lawyer, philanthropist and father to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, commented  "state cutbacks have put our kids at risk, and we can't just sit here and do nothing about it."

Gates said skewing taxes toward the rich is nothing new. "I have a very clear recollection of the days when we took for granted an income tax rate on the highest earners of 90%, 70%, at times when our country was just motoring along in very good style," he said. "The notion of adding a couple of points to a 35% [federal] rate — it isn't going to change the world."

Did you know that the top twenty-five hedge fund managers made a combined $25 billion but because of tax policy their lobbyists helped write, they pay a lower effective tax rate than many teachers, nurses and police officers? As a result of tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and elsewhere, the wealthy and large corporations are evading some $100 billion a year in U.S. taxes. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people on earth, has often commented that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.

We need to overhaul Ohio's tax structure. Do not be fooled by those politicians who claim that raising taxes on the wealthy will somehow harm the economy or will negatively impact the low- and middle-class. The present tax system favors the rich and big business. They have the means to lobby politicians, the means to pay for access through unlimited campaign contributions, and the belief that wealth and power equals entitlement. Funny...these are the same people who want to end entitlements for everyone else.

We know for a fact that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen and the middle-class is shrinking.  I remember awhile ago watching Chris Matthews, MSNBC, interviewing a Republican operative about the state of the economy. Chris asked the man what will happen to the economy when 75% of the people can no longer afford to spend? The Republican shrugged and blithely responded that the other 25% will have to make up the difference. Matthews, shocked that this man would suggest that it was OK for three quarters of the populace to do without, retorted, "You don't really mean that do you? That's un-American."

 If elected, I will work to eliminate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy and to put in place an equitable tax system for all Ohioans.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Decentralize or Divide?

We hear a lot of complaints about the Federal Government being too big and there are people who want to give all power to the States. They go so far as to suggest that we disband the Federal government except on matters of national defense.

I agree with the concept of decentralization, of restoring more power and responsibility to communities and regions. But is it feasible? First, we live in a very complex world and we need a National agenda to succeed. Look at our school system. Currently our public schools are in the hands of local school boards. They’re a disaster. In addition, they’re subject to local mores and prejudices.

Texas is a good example of how a local educational system can be perverted to fit a political agenda. According to CNN, the Texas Board of Education recently "moved aggressively to put its hard-right conservative stamp on what students need to learn about the American past. Among the changes made by the board was the elimination of Thomas Jefferson from a list of thinkers who had inspired revolutions around the world. Conservatives object to Jefferson's support for a clear separation of church and state." Can you imagine? One of the greatest men in the history of the United States has been edited out of history in Texas.

CNN goes on to say that "conservatives want an American history that ignores or marginalizes African-Americans, women, Latinos, immigrants and popular culture. Rather than genuinely engaging the fundamental conflicts that have shaped our past, they prefer a celebratory history that denies those fundamental conflicts. And they insist books stress, as school board chairman Don McLeroy put it, that "America was built on Biblical ideals"."

Then there is the concept of municipal “Home Rule”, which invites corruption in City government. Civil Rights, freedom of and freedom from religion…in many communities these rights would not exist were it not for our Federal Government. We, as a Nation, rose above the local prejudices that deprived millions of Americans of their inalienable right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

There are those who want to return us to the past. Has history not taught us anything? The challenge for all of us is, how do we improve upon this imperfect union that we call the United States of America? One thing I know for certain...it is not by dividing us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Old Strategems Not the Answer

In an earlier post (Jobs) I stated that we should discard old business stratagems that no longer work in today's economic environment.

Our politicians keep trumping the role that small business plays in job creation and employment. However, according to Time magazine (September 13, 2010) the National Bureau of Economic Research "found that small, mature firms (those with fewer than 500 employees and at least 10 years in operation) are actually net drags on job growth". It went on to report that in 2005, as an example, "small businesses lost about a million jobs, even as the overall economy expanded by about 2.5 million. Between 1992 and 2005, small business destroyed more salaries than they created." New startup companies accounted for nearly all the growth.

Ohio should turn its focus away from the old crop of small businesses, and instead support the new start-up businesses that have the potential to become the next big firms. The fact is, large companies employ the most people.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Appalachia-What If?

Appalachia, comprised of the eastern and southeastern Ohio counties, ranks among the poorest parts of the state. I have lived there and have seen the abject poverty that plagues the region.

In July, Ann Curry of NBC News reported, "All across America, it is happening. People are hurting. For some, this economy may be turning around. But millions of families are at risk of going hungry in one of the richest nations on earth. The number of Americans visiting local food pantries has jumped 30 percent in the past two years alone. And here, in this rural region of Ohio, the very heart of America, the need is especially urgent...the stories poignant. Tonight, a very personal look inside the lives of families who’ve had it all vanish – jobs, homes, and dreams. How do you choose between paying your bills and feeding your kids?"

What If?

How many of us have called our phone company, our bank, or internet support and have ended up talking to someone in India? If companies can build and operate call centers thousands of miles away, why can't they build them in Appalachia? Business is conducted by telephone and computer. Call centers can be anywhere.

What if the State approached the companies that have outsourced American jobs to foreign countries with a proposal:

-The State of Ohio will build and operate educational/training centers in Southeastern Ohio to prepare Ohioans for employment in call centers. 
-The State of Ohio will build the infrastructure, as needed.
-The State of Ohio will provide tax incentives to any company building a call center in Appalchia.
-The State of Ohio will, on a sliding scale, subsidize employee income to offset the salary differential between wages paid to workers in Third World countries and those paid in the U.S,
-The State of Ohio will pay employee contributions to company-sponsored health insurance.
-The company will import temporary management to oversee operations, as needed, with the intention of eventually promoting exclusively from within.
-In return for incentives provided by the State, the company will agree to a long-term commitment to the area.

Call centers employ thousands of workers. Why not build them in Appalachia? We can spend our tax dollars on welfare, or food stamps, or medicaid or subsidized housing or we can build a foundation for the future of Appalachia.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Breathe

Where do the people razing our forests think the air we breathe comes from? Do they know the forests sustain us?

The primary way in which the Earth generates oxygen for the atmosphere is through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis accounts for 98% of the world's atmospheric oxygen. It is the process plants and trees use to extract energy from the sun. Water and carbon dioxide are taken in by the plants and trees, and sunlight provides energy for converting these substances into sugars and other energy-rich substances that nourish them. Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis, and when the Earth is in balance, enough atmospheric oxygen is produced to replace the oxygen that is used.

All forests have global implications not just on life but on the quality of it. Trees not only improve the quality of the air that species breath by trapping the carbon and other particles produced by pollution, they also determine rainfall and replenish the atmosphere. As more water gets put back in the atmosphere, clouds form and provide another way to block out the sun's heat. Trees are what cool and regulates the earth's climate in conjunction with other such valuable services as preventing erosion, landslides, and making the most infertile soil rich with life. Mother earth has given much responsibility to trees.

How much forest are we losing? Global annual estimates for 1990-95 show a net forest loss of 112,600 square kilometers per year. The world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.

What would our world be like without trees? What will we breathe?

[to be continued]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who's Running Our Schools?

The Gahanna News reported that teachers' association concerns kept Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools out of the running for Race to the Top federal funds. School Superintendent Mark White said, "the federal dollars had a few strings attached, including a federal teacher evaluation process."

At the same time, voters in the Gahanna Jefferson public school district are being asked to pass Issue 5, a school operating levy, in November. The issue, if approved by voters, will generate about $10 million per year for the school district and will cost homeowners an additional $208.25 per year in property taxes per $100,000 in home value. (White) said Issue 5 is necessary to fund the day-to-day operations in the district, which includes textbooks, utilities and teacher salaries."

The Los Angeles Times recently used school district test data to rank elementary school teachers based upon how much their students improved from year to year on standardized reading and math tests. The data, which school districts across the nation possess on their own students, had never been analyzed. How can that be?  What it found was that "the best teachers often taught just down the hall from the worst, and those highly effective teachers consistently raised test scores no matter who their students were".

As USA Today put it, "bad teachers don't get replaced, great teachers don't get rewarded and students' lives are blunted." Reform doesn't come easy. Michelle Rhee was hired as Washington DC's school chancellor. She was brought in to reform a failing school system. One of the reforms she implemented was teacher evaluations that combined value-added with sophisticated observations. Her firing this summer of 76 teachers has so angered the union that it is now working to oust the mayor who hired her.

"We cannot cede our responsibility to our children to appease those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats. Nothing will be right in this country until we put our children first." -jkt-


The D.C. schools have been awarded $75 million in Race to the Top grants. In House District 20, kudos to Bexley, Columbus and Whitehall for going after and receiving Race to the Top dollars.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Jobs

I remember several years ago reading the results of a survey of business men and women in the surrounding area, that sought their opinions on our business environment. A "how are we doing" and "would you consider opening a business here" questionnaire. One business owner responded that he had no intention of bringing his business here because he thinks the workers are less educated and less sophisticated.

The Pew Center Education Report Card 2010 grades the states on education performance and policy. According to the Center, "the Nation scores high on education standards policies, but struggles to provide opportunities to succeed." In it "the Chance-for-Success Index grades the nation and states on 13 indicators capturing the critical role that education plays as a person moves from childhood, through the K-12 system, and into college and the workforce." Ohio ranks 25th among the states. And that raises the question...are our schools educating our children to succeed?

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of education and the role it plays in attracting businesses to Ohio and providing jobs for Ohioans. I understand that we have an immediate need to create jobs and I will work tirelessly to assist those who are unemployed to find jobs. But we need to lay the foundation for the future of Ohio and the future of our children.

No. 1 - A highly educated and highly skilled workforce will attract businesses to Ohio.
No. 2 - Agressive retraining programs for Ohioans whose companies have packed up and left the State or have shipped their jobs overseas.
No. 3 -We should not give tax breaks to companies who ship jobs overseas. Bring the jobs home.
No. 4 - There has been a change in consumer buying habits as a result of current economic conditions. We must discard old business stratagems that no longer work in today's economic environment and develop a blueprint for the future of small business in Ohio.
No. 5 - I will be looking very closely at the Ohio Department of Development; its structure and effectiveness. Peoples' livelihoods are at stake. We need to get politics out of it.


[to be continued]

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Parks, Our Natural Heritage

Central Ohio has a wonderful park system. Our parks are teeming with wildlife and offer scenic vistas that can take us far away from the hectic clamor of our everyday lives. Everyone should have access to the parks. They are our Natural Heritage.

Our parks fulfill the longing in our children for adventure and exploration. By cultivating the natural curiosity and sense of wonderment in our children, we prepare them for the future. It is from a childhood well spent...days and nights filled with dreams, both real and imagined; of curiosities and longings (for what, we do not always know); of adventures, awaiting, around the next bend. It is from these children that our future leaders, our inventors and innovators, our writers and philosophers will emerge. Our parks are an integral part of the fabric of our Nation.

I was so entranced by my winter walk earlier this year, that I wrote to my friends:

"I woke up at about 8 this morning and concluded that today was the day I was going to take a long-overdue winter walk at Three Creeks Park. We'd just had new snow, but the roads were passable. I threw on my winter wear and off I went…..temperature 19 degrees. What a glorious day it was!!!

When I arrived, not another person was there. At first the sun shone down upon the frozen landscape and tiny snowflakes drifted to the ground, like sparkling diamonds falling from the sky. As I entered into the woods, the sky turned grey, enveloping me in solitary silence. I wandered off the beaten path and onto Confluence Trail, which leads to where three creeks converge into one.

I was walking along gazing left and right into the forest hoping to see deer. I turned just in time to see one leaping across my path and away, a fleeting moment....almost lost. Next I passed by geese and ducks bobbing calmly in an icy waterhole. Further on I paused to view the joining of the creeks and listened to the gurgling of water as it traveled on downstream.
Suddenly, I sensed motion to my left. I saw another deer running away from me. Then another and yet another raced by, finally stopping at a perceived safe distance from me and turning to stare. In all, there were seven of them.....6 girlies and one boy. Three of them stood their ground as I gazed upon them in awe. We stayed there for minutes studying each other, their white tails flicking as they contemplated my presence.

Finally I walked on as they disappeared amongst the trees. The trail was rough and my eyes were focused on the ground as I meandered along. Next I looked up, there stood a doe in the middle of the trail. Once again we two stood our ground, immersed in our own thoughts. She finally wandered off. Before I could move on, to my amazement, I spotted a baby deer just to the side of the trail, camouflaged by the brush. I remained a frozen observer in this frozen world of snow and ice and watched this sweet darling as she crossed before my eyes.
                                                                             
She and her mama finally moseyed off, while I continued upon my way. I emerged from the woods onto the main trail and headed back towards my car. The mama and baby deer raced by me one last time, as if following me to my destination. As I passed by the marsh, to my right I espied yet three more deer frolicking and prancing across the ice.

Now out of sight, I journeyed on through a stand of pines and at last crossed the foot bridge. A flock of geese flew overhead in formation, honking their goodbyes. No man did I encounter. Today, Three Creeks was all mine."-jkt-

Capital Punishment

                                                                           

Ohio had not executed a convicted murderer since the seventies. I remember when the killing began again. It was the spring of 2001. I and other people of faith gathered to pray in St. Joseph's Cathedral in downtown Columbus just before the execution was to occur. I was horrified that the State was going to kill a human being in my name. Mind you, I do not forget the victims. Nor do I forgive the murderer. But I refuse to follow the tenet, "an eye for an eye". I  do not wish to participate in barbarism. We, as a civilized Nation, should rise above this.

The company we keep:
Top10 Countries with the highest number of executions by population.
-China 1718
-Iran 346
-Saudi Arabia 102
-USA 37
-Pakistan 36
-Iraq 34
-Vietnam 19
-Afghanistan 17
-North Korea 15
-Japan 15

There were 52 executions in the United States in 2009.
-Texas 24
-Alabama 6
-Ohio 5
-Virginia 3
-Oklahoma  3
-Georgia  3
-Florida 2
-S Carolina  2
-Tennessee 2
-Missouri 1
-Indiana 1
 
There have been 111 people exonerated (freed) while waiting to be executed, and a dozen or so found innocent after execution. http://officeofstrategicinfluence.com/deathpenalty/

The death of one innocent man can never be justifed to sate the thirst for revenge.

Business

If you read my previous article, "Regulations" you might think that I am against Business. Not at all. I am not unmindful of the benefits I have reaped working for Big Business. But I think most of you will agree that things are out of balance in this country right now.

U.S. executives earn about 400 times the pay of the lowest paid workers in their own companies. In Europe and Asia, the pay of executives is about 10 times that of the lowest paid worker. And, that does not include the generous stock options or severance packages that many top U.S. executives receive that increase the value of their compensation. These compensation packages of American executives have received a lot of media attention during the current economic crisis, especially when corporations with high pay rates for CEOs and other top employees are also shipping jobs abroad, laying off employees or closing plants.

As Harvard law professor Joseph Singer put it, there is "a disconnect between widely shared moral intuitions and our prevalent economic institutions and norms. We can bridge this gap between our values and our institutions through policy and law: the law is the site where [our] values are effectuated and implemented." That includes "corporate laws that balance employee, community, and shareholder interests."

I remember reading about Aaron Feuerstein, the owner of a textile factory in Massachusetts. His factory caught fire and burnt to the ground. At that point, he could have walked away. But, instead, Mr. Feuerstein promised his workers and the community that he would rebuild. And, while he was rebuilding, he continued to pay his employees. Here is a man who was tested and did "what everyone would agree was right, but what few people actually do".

Our workers, the most productive in the world, do not deserve to be abandoned by Big Business in their time of need. It is time to bring the jobs home.


[While writing this article, I remembered the story about Mr. Feuerstein and wanted to include it. A Google search landed me at:
www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_common_interest_in_property
I highly recommend it. I am tired of the labels Conservative, Liberal, Progressive. We are all Americans, together. We should not tear this country apart for a political agenda. More on this later.]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Regulations

The collapse on Wall Street and of our banking system; the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11, injured 17, and released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for three months; and, the deaths of 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia...all are a cautionary reminder that Big Business cannot be trusted on its own.

You know, I predicted the financial collapse long before it happened. All of the indicators were there: deregulation of the banks, leading to mergers that created financial monsters "too big to allow to fail" (did we learn nothing from the Great Depression and the Recession of 1980?); The Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates to give a false sense of security, while abetting mindless spending; our elected officials raiding the Treasury; people paying a million dollars for tract houses in California; Government borrowing from foreign countries to pay for two wars, instead of raising taxes as we had in the past; a Vice President scornfully saying deficits don't matter. Oh, the indicators were all there. And like drunken sailors our leaders just kept swimming into the abyss.

Then there's the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Did you know that a device that costs just one half million dollars may have prevented the oil spill in the Gulf? Yes, that's right. The Orlando Independent Examiner reported that "the device is called an acoustic switch or actuator. It is a remote-controlled device deployed off oil rigs that sends acoustic impulses through the water, triggering an underwater valve or explosives to shut down the well even if the rig is catastrophically damaged or abandoned. Norway and Brazil require these devices in all offshore drilling operations. While they are not required with rigs offshore the U.K., BP elects to deploy them there. BP chose not to equip oil rigs off the coast of the U.S. with acoustic triggers because U.S. regulations enacted in 2003 do not require companies to do so."

"The Upper Big Branch coal mine", according to ABC News, "had amassed scores of citations from mining safety officials, including 57 infractions just last month for violations that included repeatedly failing to develop and follow a ventilation plan. Another Massey subsidiary agreed to pay $4.2 million in criminal and civil fines last year and admitted to willfully violating mandatory safety standards that led to the deaths of two miners."

No, Big Business cannot be trusted on its own. 5,214 workers died on the job in 2008 alone, and that doesn't count the number who died from occupational diseases. It is why we need regulations.

I have to tell you, I do not like politicians who put on a performance for television, sneering at a stack of books of regulations, just to win votes. It demeans the lives and suffering of those who have died or been permanently disabled because their employers care more for the bottom line than for them.

The Governor says a review has already been done and over 2,000 regulations have been eliminated. If elected, I would be willing to initiate a further review to do away with unnecessary ones. However I will not sacrifice the health and safety of Ohioans. I will not do so on the backs of those less fortunate. Nor will I remove any regulations that would further erode the environment, which sustains us.

Lastly, regulations are only as good as enforcement. If we are not enforcing laws and regulations, it becomes a stealthy means of doing away with them. We need to step up enforcement.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Domestic Violence

I began researching domestic violence after a man in Whitehall shot and killed his wife and two children and then turned the gun on himself. I was on City Council at the time and I began asking myself what we could do to try to prevent this from ever happening again in our town.

What I learned about this horrific crime was:
-There were 3 guns in the house.
-The man had been arrested for domestic violence years before.
-A 1994 federal law, reconfirmed and expanded by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in February, 2009, prohibits domestic violence offenders from gun ownership. The Court ruled that the law applies even to people guilty of misdemeanors involving physical attacks on spouses, ex-spouses and other household members, regardless of whether the State law used the term domestic violence. And yet, even though he was banned from owning guns because of his conviction, he not only had the guns, he also was issued a concealed carry permit.
-The wife wanted to leave him. He would rather see his family dead than split up.
-Someone knew there was danger, but failed to notify anyone.

Did you know that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew. Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. And, one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship.

According to The Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, "Domestic violence is real violence, often resulting in death or permanent injuries and making home one of the least safe places for victims to be. It accounts for more injuries to women than rapes, muggings, and automobile accidents combined. Unlike crimes by strangers, domestic violence is likely to be repeated and often involves an abuser who will go to great lengths to impede the victim's escape. Domestic violence is a crime that uses violence as a tool to intimidate and control the behaviors of another person. Domestic violence has been the primary factor in almost one quarter of all homicides committed in Franklin County, (Ohio) since 1990."

Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.

 
After gathering together all of the facts, I worked up a proposal of some steps we could take to prevent domestic violence in our community. It included:
-The City had left the Domestic Violence Coordinator position vacant to save money. I recommended that someone be immediately hired and that the job description be expanded to include conducting educational programs about domestic violence throughout the community.
-Given the fact that people are hesitant to get involved in family disputes and because involving one's self might be dangerous, I recommended that the City establish an anonymous phone line. I also suggested a city-wide campaign, a "get involved, save a life" campaign.
-Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability. I recommended the formation of a coalition between the City and our schools to offer age-based education about domestic violence, to offer a safe haven within our schools for children in abusive homes and to offer counseling. Children with poor coping skills are more likely to experience problems than children with strong coping skills and supportive social networks.

[Domestic violence misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders were the second most common reason for denials of handgun purchase applications between 1994 and 1998. From 1998 to 2001, more than 2,800 people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions were able to purchase guns without being identified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.]

-The Columbus Dispatch put it better than I when it recommended that, "Sheriffs and other officials who administer the concealed-carry permitting system in this and other states should cross-check the names of new domestic-violence convicts and other offenders against these lists. State and local police and court officials should get the names of DV offenders onto the federal background-chick databank. And high-tech tools should be employed to cross-check public records to improve the accuracy of this reporting."
-And, lastly, when I made my recommendations to Council, I asked the very narrow question, "how do you get guns out of the hands of the abusers?"

Violence against women is a national epidemic. I will work tirelessly to end this scourge. -jkt-

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Parks, Our Natural Heritage

Central Ohio has a wonderful park system. Our parks are teeming with wildlife and offer scenic vistas that can take us far away from the hectic clamor of our everyday lives. Everyone should have access to the parks. They are our Natural Heritage.

Our parks fulfill the longing in our children for adventure and exploration. By cultivating the natural curiosity and sense of wonderment in our children, we prepare them for the future. It is from a childhood well spent...days and nights filled with dreams, both real and imagined; of curiosities and longings (for what, we do not always know); of adventures, awaiting, around the next bend. It is from these children that our future leaders, our inventors and innovators, our writers and philosophers will emerge. Our parks are an integral part of the fabric of our Nation.

I was so entranced by my winter walk earlier this year, that I wrote to my friends:

"I woke up at about 8 this morning and concluded that today was the day I was going to take a long-overdue winter walk at Three Creeks Park. We'd just had new snow, but the roads were passable. I threw on my winter wear and off I went…..temperature 19 degrees. What a glorious day it was!!!

When I arrived, not another person was there. At first the sun shone down upon the frozen landscape and tiny snowflakes drifted to the ground, like sparkling diamonds falling from the sky. As I entered into the woods, the sky turned grey, enveloping me in solitary silence. I wandered off the beaten path and onto Confluence Trail, which leads to where three creeks converge into one.

I was walking along gazing left and right into the forest hoping to see deer. I turned just in time to see one leaping across my path and away, a fleeting moment....almost lost. Next I passed by geese and ducks bobbing calmly in an icy waterhole. Further on I paused to view the joining of the creeks and listened to the gurgling of water as it traveled on downstream.

Suddenly, I sensed motion to my left. I saw another deer running away from me. Then another and yet another raced by, finally stopping at a perceived safe distance from me and turning to stare. In all, there were seven of them.....6 girlies and one boy. Three of them stood their ground as I gazed upon them in awe. We stayed there for minutes studying each other, their white tails flicking as they contemplated my presence.

Finally I walked on as they disappeared amongst the trees. The trail was rough and my eyes were focused on the ground as I meandered along. Next I looked up, there stood a doe in the middle of the trail. Once again we two stood our ground, immersed in our own thoughts. She finally wandered off. Before I could move on, to my amazement, I spotted a baby deer just to the side of the trail, camouflaged by the brush. I remained a frozen observer in this frozen world of snow and ice and watched this sweet darling as she crossed before my eyes.

                                                                            
She and her mama finally moseyed off, while I continued upon my way. I emerged from the woods onto the main trail and headed back towards my car. The mama and baby deer raced by me one last time, as if following me to my destination. As I passed by the marsh, to my right I espied yet three more deer frolicking and prancing across the ice.

Now out of sight, I journeyed on through a stand of pines and at last crossed the foot bridge. A flock of geese flew overhead in formation, honking their goodbyes. No man did I encounter. Today, Three Creeks was all mine." [I guess I never lost that sense of wonder.] -jkt-                                    

Taxes

We have the income tax, the property tax, the sales tax, the estate tax (Well, except for this year. If you're rich and you die this year your estate won't have to pay it.), the luxury tax, the corporate tax. But another, and more insidious tax, is what I call the addiction tax.

When our government is facing a revenue shortage, it starts raising taxes on the things people are addicted to. Why? Because no matter what the cost, an addict will pay or play. Booze and cigarettes...addictive. Gasoline...addictive in America. Gambling...addictive. And, the more reliant the government becomes on the income from the addiction taxes, the less enthusiastic it becomes to cure the addiction. In fact, in one case, it encourages it. Gambling.

As of February 1, 2010 the Tax Foundation reported that the State of Ohio addiction taxes are: Gasoline tax (per gallon) $0.28; cigarettes tax (per 20 pack) $1.25; spirits tax (per gallon) $9.04; table wine tax (per gallon) $0.32; and, beer tax (per gallon) $0.18. That's just the State taxes! There are federal taxes loaded on top of that.

Now casinos are coming to Ohio. According to the Columbus Dispatch (February 27, 2010), "The casinos approved in the fall for Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo each will pay taxes equal to 33 percent of their gross revenue. It will be distributed as follows, based on the new constitutional amendment:
-- 51 percent to Ohio's 88 counties, based on their share of the state population. If the biggest city in a county has more than 80,000 residents, it gets half its county's share. (Columbus would get $16.2 million of Franklin County's estimated $32.4 million.)
-- 34 percent to Ohio's public-school districts based on their enrollment. ($22.9 million estimated to Franklin County districts)
-- 5 percent to Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo as the host cities for casinos. ($8 million estimated for Columbus)
-- 3 percent to run a new state agency that will regulate casinos.
-- 3 percent to help Ohio's horse-racing industry, which fears that casinos will hurt its business.
-- 2 percent to a state fund that will pay for police training.
-- 2 percent to a state fund to support treatment of gambling addiction and substance abuse.
[Sources: Ohio Constitution, Penn National Gaming Inc.]

Columbus City Councilman Andrew J. Ginther, who chairs the council's finance committee, said he worries that the new tax revenue might not boost the budget in the long run. Ginther fears that state legislators might use the flow of casino taxes to Ohio cities and counties as an excuse to reduce local governments' share of state income taxes. That's what happened with Ohio Lottery money, which replaced previous state support for schools instead of adding to it."

So, let the feeding frenzy begin as various government entities fight over the millions of dollars gambling will bring to the State. But the real quesiton for our elected officials should be, "Have we ceded our moral compass to balance the budget?"

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

I love Cleveland. The first time I drove from Columbus to the City on the Lake was to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was springtime and the cherry blossoms were in bloom. As I turned the corner and first saw the stately marble building, there sat Rodin's great sculpture, The Thinker. It was love at first sight.


                                                                          
Since then I have made many trips to Cleveland, always discovering some new gem each time I would visit. Cleveland has buildings by two of the greatest living architects:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by IM Pei

                                                                                
and, the Case Western Reserve law library, by Frank Gehry.


                                                                                
Each time I would get in my car and drive to Cleveland, I would discover another hidden jewel in the City on the Lake. But here's the point of my story. Each time I want to visit Cleveland, I have the dreaded two and a half hour drive to get there. The anticipation of the destination was enough to sustain me for the first three or four trips, but that wore off a long time ago.

I never go to Cincinnati. It's a wonderful city with lots to see and do. But the freeways terrify me. On one trip to Cinci, I ended up in Indiana when I missed my exit. The last time I visited I got stuck on the freeway in five o'clock traffic. It was terrifying. I haven't been back.

What's the alternative? It's crazy to think about going by airplane. The wasted time at the airports and the thought that I might be stuck in a steel tube on a runway has been enough to turn me off to flying.

The solution? Trains. I want trains to take me away to Cleveland and Cincinnati and points in between. And none of those wimpy trains that the governor is proposing. I want fast trains, like they have in Japan, France, Germany, Sweden and England. The question becomes, are we building the foundation for the future, or stagnating in the past? As our highways become more and more congested and gasoline prices continue to rise, what are we doing in the present to fast forward Ohio into the future?