Sunday, July 31, 2005

Akron's Filthy Lucre

According to yesterday's BJ (yes, I know. It was a hard day) the Akron area raked in serious highway funds in the recently passed Federal transportation bill.

Given that highway bills are traditionally porkfests and given that the recent CAFTA vote was notable for politicking, arm twisting and pork bribing, one has to wonder where the money came from. Brown and Ryan -- both famously protectionists -- voted against the bill. My suspicion is that we can thank Steve LaTourette.

LaTourette changed his vote very very late in the game to provide the apparent margin of victory (at least he prevented the North Carolina ghost vote from being determinative.) By my reading of this map, his district probably includes or at least is influenced by the project in Stow. Voinovich and DeWine are taking credit for the projects, but given the timing of LaTourette's switch, you gotta wonder.

So let's enjoy our new transportation hubs as we watch more manufacturing jobs move south. Thanks, Steve.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday Random Ten

I haven't been at this long enough to actually get memed, but one meme that has stood the test of time is the Random Ten; tell your i-Pod to shuffle and post the first ten songs. A couple of blogs I frequent still post a random ten or something like it regularly. Even on a mostly political blog like this, it humanizes the participants somewhat. Or it will just let you all know how cool I am.

I don't actually i-Pod; a concession to becoming a one-income household. But I do have an MP3 program on my computer that lets me shuffle the stuff I have loaded onto it. I've never done it before -- my tastes are quite eclectic and a random selection of even the small slice of my music collection that I have loaded so far yields some jarring juxtapositions. But I am drawn to the idea, so here goes:

"Return of the Grievous Angel" -- Gram Parsons
"Myxamatosis" -- Radiohead
"Pinhead" -- The Ramones
"Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue)" -- Rickie Lee Jones
"Saint Simon" -- The Shins
"Things Change" -- Dwight Yoakum
"Y Control" -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Bed Bed Bed" -- They Might Be Giants
"Who Needs the Peace Corps?" -- Mothers of Invention
"High 5 (Rock the Catskills)" -- Beck

And yes, I did actually listen to this mess in this order

Follow the Paul Hackett Endgame from the Ground

My essential blogging philosophy since starting this a couple months ago has been 1) stay as local most of the time and 2) find untrodden ground whenever possible. I haven't covered Coingate or BWC or Steelyard Commons because they are covered better than I could elsewhere.

I haven't mentioned the Paul Hackett race for much the same reason, though I have been following it in other blogs. But right now one Bob Brigham, who decribes himself as "an old field guy," is blogging live on the ground in Oh-2nd on Swing State Project. I will be as glued to this as the kids and getting-ready-for-vacation allows. It's the must-read of the weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Janet Creighton is not Tom Noe

A couple of blogs are piling on Canton Mayor Janet Creighton due to an inquiry in Stark County over property valuations. Yes, we are talking about property valuations. Hoo boy. Can we stand the excitement. Needless to say, for this to be a topic, someone thinks they catch the whiff of scandal.

Briefly, the current County Auditor, a Democrat, is wondering why a bunch of properties were appraised down in 2000, then appraised up again in 2003 – all while his Republican predecessor was still in office. His predecessor, Janet Weir Creighton, now the mayor of Canton, was active in Bush’s campaigns in ‘00 and ’04.

Still awake? Lets bring in Jeff Seeman (writing not on his blog, but on Grow Ohio) to spice things up. As I said, a number of properties were appraised down in 2000 – mostly in three jurisdictions. After noting that the three jurisdictions involved were among the wealthiest four in the county, he goes off as follows:

These same wealthy people had their property taxes INCREASED in 2003 back to the proper levels. One would think that perhaps this was simply correcting a wrong, and maybe it was....unless you happen to remember what Creighton was telling supporters during the 2004 Presidential campaign.

At a Bush rally in 2004, Creighton was the head cheerleader. The main focus of her speech was obviously the war...the other one was how Bush would lower their taxes.
My campaign had a person on the inside taking notes on all the speeches (mainly in the hopes my opponent would take the microphone, which he did not). Creighton blamed property tax increases on the "obstructionist Democrats", and promised that Bush would continue to lower them.

Add it all up yet?

* Taxes were the issue in 2000, Creighton gave breaks to the rich and pushed Bush's tax-break agenda.
* One year before his re-election, she had them raised again, outraging the rich, then promised them that the Republicans could lower them again.

In the end, she appears to have manipulated the system to help her party the most important county of the most important state of the most important election ever.

General Washington summarizes with even higher invective on Ohio Watch:

If anyone in local politics qualifies as a partisan Republican hack in this area - it's Janet Creighton. As far as missing documents - I wouldn't necessarily put it past these people to destroy evidence of wrongdoing. But regardless of that possibility, they've just provided another perfect example of how the Culture of Corruption doesn't only infect the statehouse, it's infecting at least one community in Ohio as well - one that cannot afford it anymore than the rest of the state. Canton would do well to see her gone from office.

So there we go. Janet Creighton tried, convicted and sentenced, and we haven't even brought in the special prosecutor yet. Well, I dissent.

I have three problems with all this. First, it’s premature. The posts above were based on the first newspaper story about the current auditor looking for someone to investigate who doesn’t have an appearance of conflict. Yes, it’s the blogosphere and all, but declaring someone a participant in the Culture of Corruption® based on a story that an investigation is imminent is a little rich.

In fact, already the story is getting muddier. The centerpiece of yesterday's story in the Canton Repository (no long available on the website, but check out the blog posts) was a former high-level appraiser claiming to have received orders to lower appraisals. Today another top-level appraisal denies any such order. In a day we have gone from "sounds like something ain't right" to "sounds like someone's talking shit."

Second, the logic of the plot escapes me. If you are going to don the tinfoil hat, at least spin a good yarn. This one makes no sense. Consider, Creighton is campaigning for Bush in the waning days of the Clinton administration. She wants wealthy people to believe they would be better off under a Republican administration, so she . . . lowers taxes? Then in 2003, again for the benefit of Bushco, she . . . raises them? Let me here you all say . . . Wha?

Finally, there is Janet Creighton herself. Unlike Jeff, I won’t claim to “know her personally,” but I do know her by reputation. I worked in the prosecutor’s office for five years and her reputation for both integrity and competence was beyond reproach in my – very Democratic – office. She was known as a party loyalist, but neither a rigid partisan nor a movement conservative. She was well-known for her ability to work with officials of all political stripes. She was, in the mold of most R politicos in Stark, a pro-business moderate.

I must say that it’s been some years since I had day-to-day contact with the Stark political scene. It could be that in the intervening time Janet Creighton has jumped the ethical tracks, though I think it unlikely. This post isn’t about I’m right and they’re wrong, this post is about not going off half-cocked. I am a firm advocate of Democrats being the adults in the room, not because it come naturally to us, but because someone has to be while the Republicans are playing G.I.Joe.

And in a similar vein, let me say that I don’t exactly weep for Janet Creighton. She has maintained her support of a party that has coursened the political dialogue in this country to the point that a half-baked story like this gets flogged. Her party dragged a sitting president through impeachment over a tawdry sexual dalliance. Her party responds to any public criticism with opposition research, personal attack and echo chamber smear. Her party . . . my God, do I really need to catalogue all of their sins?

Janet Creighton is not the sort of Republican that I have grown to loathe from the moment I wake to my last conscious thought as I retire. But that sort of Republican sent out the chickens that are now roosting in her back yard. Hard to lose sleep over that, even if it is ill-founded.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Some Blogkeeping Notes

First, I have added an email address. This was mostly in response to the very nice comments I received inviting me to the Cleveland blogger meetup. I thought people might want to contact me outside the comments section, so there it is. It is a Hotmail account I opened for blog-only email, so any evil trolls out there thinking of spamming me, save yourselves the trouble. If it gets clogged with crap, I'll just cancel the account.

Second, I've blogrolled a few new sites. George at Brewed Fresh Daily blogrolled me, so, in the tradition of Spy Magazine I am blogrolling him back.

Ditto Sherrod Brown's maybe-campaign-maybe-freestanding-netroots site Grow Ohio.

I am involved in Summit County Progressive Democrats and have up till now kept our perpetually-under-construction site off my links. It's close enough now and should be even better in the near future. One other member is a blogger under the sobriquet Crosscurrent. I've added him as well.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Labor's Love Lost

I spent six hours today in a meeting at the Ohio AFL-CIO and have declared that it's enough of a local connection to permit me to blog about the Big Labor Split within the self-imposed rules of the blog.

The split sounds pretty inevitable -- much has been written about Andy Stern, the arrogant hotshot vs. John Sweeney, the ossified old-school high chieftain. Fortunately, the spat seems mostly about tactics, not policy. It's not like half of the rump labor movement will suddenly line up behind Jeb in '08.

Generally speaking in human enterprise, it is better for a number of institutions to try different ways of going about business than one big institution following the same playbook for decades. John Sweeney may have had early success running it up the middle, but the other side has stacked the line and he's still going there. I am hopeful that small, fast, energetic upstarts like SEIU and Unite Here can put together a bootleg or two.

Certainly it has been the case in Ohio. SEIU was the lead union in organizing the coalition against TABOR, and their Stop Ohio's Slide was to my knowledge the only union-led media campaign in the last budget cycle. One SEIU organizer I talked to said that Stop Ohio's Slide was so successful in generating grassroots contact to the legislature that the leadership held a press conference to say it wasn't working.

The real potential for damage comes from Sweeney refusing to make a clean break of it. Like in any long term relationship, when the end comes you can nurse your wounds and move on, or you can become Scary Stalker Guy. Listening to Stern today, he sounded wistful, but hopeful about a new beginning. From Sweeney's comments, he sounds ready to boil the rabbit. Stay tuned.

Shut up and drive

For the third time in my life, an idiot on a car phone has pulled in front of me. Yesterday I was driving in the Valley when a guy in a white Mercedes pulled to the end of a drive, stopped, then pulled out about twenty feet in front of me. As was the case the other two times, I was able to avoid the fool.

So why am I writing about this in a political blog? Because for certain breeds of conservatives – mostly radio ranters but also avatars of tiny government – local traffic ordinances against driving and cell phoning are something of a touchstone. They are supposed to be symptomatic of intrusion into every facet of our private lives. Brooklyn, Ohio, passed a talking-while driving ban a couple years back and the local radio mouth-breathers when insane. (Didn't find much on a Google search, though check this out if you need yet another example of how economists can justify anything by jiggering the numbers.)

In fact, such ordinances are examples of government responsiveness to new threats. As long as you believe that the government should step in when people engage in activity that endangers others, this is right in the wheelhouse of what government should do. As study after study after study shows, a driver is simply more dangerous behind the wheel if he also has a cell glued to his ear. White Mercedes Guy was out to freaking lunch yesterday. He stops, looks both ways and fails to see me. In broad daylight. On a flat stretch of road. WHEN I WAS IN A MINIVAN, FOR GOD'S SAKE.

We don't have laws against people reading while driving or having sex while driving or watching TV while driving because people generally don't do those things (though the last may be coming if Xhibit and crew have anything to say about it.) We have laws about driving while intoxicated, because people do that. And since people also yammer on their cells while they are supposed to be making sure they do not pancake me and mine, laws against it make sense.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Voice of the (Stupendously Ignorant, Intellectually Indolent and Just Plain Wrong) People

Unlike some bloggers, I’m generally not inclined to take on – or for that matter acknowledge – letters in the BJ’s Voice of the People. Generally it’s too easy. Comically bad writing, regurgitated talking points, wild leaps of logic – would anyone who has wandered into this blog and found enough to stick around really benefit from my take on something like “The Evolution Deception?”

But today the BJ published a letter that is so screamingly factually incorrect that it raises serious questions about the editorial policy for VOP. Can any idiot get any cockamamie opinion published, irrespective of his claim that up is down and white is black? Apparently.

One Joseph C. McLeland of Munroe Falls is the lead VOPer today, beginning with the following stiletto-sharp legal analysis:

Your July 2 editorial headlined ``Justice of distinction'' only further
confounds the prevailing law regarding ``freedom of religion,'' the concept
found in the [] First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Your approbation of
Justice Breyer ignores the long-standing interpretation problem of the clear
meaning of this clause. The preposition ``of '' is all-important. It means
something far different than ``from.''
Boy, he’s absolutely right; the phrase “freedom of religion” means something fundamentally different from the phrase “freedom from religion.” And his argument would probably carry the day were it not for the pesky fact that the First Amendment does not contain the phrase “freedom of religion.”

The religion clauses in the First Amendment read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .”

So now this is just sad. Mr. McLeland conducting his education in public, arguing stridently his interpretation of a constitutional provision that does not exist. But the question isn’t why McLeland is such an ignorant fool, the question is why a letter so obviously wrong in its core argument ever saw print.

Now I don’t expect an editorial page editor to know the First Amendment of the Constitution. Oh, wait a minute. Yes I do. That’s exactly the sort of basic competence someone in such a position should have. Maybe not know the exact language of the top of his/her head, but at least have sufficient stored knowledge that paragraph one from McLeland is a little suspect.

If only such an editor had at his disposal some sort of information processing device. And if only this device were connected to a larger, perhaps much larger, maybe even, dare we dream Al Gore, World Wide network of computers. Then maybe this editor could type the words “United States Constitution” into some sort of program that could search the, geez, like googles of bits of information. He might then come up with results like this, this, this, this, and this, and could FREAKING CHECK THE WORDING OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT ALREADY!

But no. Let’s just take James McLeland’s word for it. He seems so sincere, after all.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

My Circuit Around the Blogosphere

Bill at Callahan's Cleveland Diary mentioned that at a Cleveland blogger's meetup they are compiling lists of those blogs they visit at least once every couple of days. I would never be invited to a Cleveland meetup even were I better established, given the apparently impassible divide between Akron and Cleveland (sorry, residue of a long meeting), but the idea of the list intrigues me. Here is mine

Hypothetically Speaking (by far and away the best. The rest of us can't pretend to compete)
Callahan's Cleveland Diary (next best, and based in the NEO)
Licking PAC
Rubber Buzz (yes, I know, but he means well)
slactivist (especially the Friday Left Behind posts)
Political Animal
Talking Points Memo
Woulda Coulda Shoulda (the only personal blog I can stand)
An Age Like This

A number of Ohio blogs I liked have either been sleepy lately or are revamping. I would read The Chief Source more often, it being Akron-based, if 1) it didn't take so infernally long to load and 2) they would write up a local story at least once in a while. While not actually a blog, the bloglike, Highland-Square-Centered, glacier-paced Cool People from Akron is worth the occasional dropby.

On the PD scandal

I've been out and about in the blogosphere (yes, I am feeling better -- I can almost smile without pain.) A fair amount of buzz about the PeeDee withholding the Mike White investigation story, Scene scooping the PD and the anticipated judicial inquiry. I've been commenting on other posts, so if you followed me here, this may get repetitive.

One topic for discussion is whether the PD should have withheld the story in the first place. Because I am a former prosecutor, I have slightly different sympathies. I don't have a problem with a newspaper holding off on a story if it will compromise an ongoing investigation. They still have it if Greg White (unexpectedly and inexplicably) elects not to pursue a viable case against Mike White. The function of the fourt estate is fulfilled. This sort of journalistic social responsibility is a thin line to walk and I have too little information to judge whether the PeeDee made the right call in this case. But in principle, I don't have a problem.

Federal prosecutors are speculating that a defense attorney is a source of the leak. If so it means that 1) any public's-right-to-know arguments are crap. This is just a defense attorney trying to screw with the government's case, and 2) a newspaper serves the public interest when it thinks twice about being the tool of an unethical lawyer.

So the mere fact that the PD held off on the story as a result of the court order doesn't bother me. On the other hand, I have a problem with Clifton being a wuss about it. If he withheld the stories because it was the right thing to do, fine. If he withheld out of fear of being hauled up to court, he should be ridiculed about it. And I can't help but wonder if he was holding the story to respect the investigation, then saw the opportunity for his "pity we poor journalists" editorial when Judith Miller did the perp walk.

I mentioned in the discussion on Kevin Drum's blog that the Ohio press shield law, while comprehensive enough to cover this situation, won't help in this case since this is in Federal Court. For anyone keeping score at home, the Ohio statute is here.

Finally, for some idle speculation about where this goes from here. I have appeared before Judge Gwin; he would lose no sleep over sitting reporters or editors in the pokey for not revealing their source(s). The sources themselves would be in considerably less trouble. For defying a court order they probably are eligible for no more than a civil contempt fine, though if they are lawyers on the case, they could get a bar complaint for their troubles as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Incompetent or absent, you make the call

Taft filing lists up to 60 outings, sources say , Columbus Dispatch

If Taft has gone on so many freebee soirees that he has forgotten 60 of them, it explains a lot about his governorship.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I'm back, more or less.

The procedure went well. I'm just waiting for the fog to clear. I've gotten to the point where I can read William Gibson (Idoru turns out to be his weakest novel) and take a shower without napping afterwards. But I'm still shaky on the part of blogging that requires, whaddyacallit -- thinking.

But I hate to leave the blog fallow so early in its existence. This is a political blog rather than a personal blog mostly because I can't share The Truth about My Life with the world, but I have a deep admiration for a number of personal bloggers. Especially I love Mir at Woulda Shoulda Coulda who can bring the funny when she is at her lowest. Her posts about her medical issues in particular are the stuff of legend. So, why not. This isn't about baring my soul, it's just a sinus.

The symptoms that set me on my medical pilgrimage first arose in 1999, then subsided for a time. It all came roaring back one night about two years ago and we have been doing medical detective ever since. The primary problem has been dizziness, which is also at the root of the delay in tracking down a cause. "Dizziness" doesn't elicit a "call the MedEvac, stat!!" response. Tell your doctor you are dizzy, you will get a weary, knowing sigh, followed by entreaties to "be more specific."

Indeed, a specific description of the malady has eluded me. Dizziness, yes -- once so bad that I threw up. But mostly it is more like a fog has settled over my higher mental functions than anything even as concrete as dizziness. Headache, sometimes, but generally I can chase it away with Tylenol. My best description is that when I am symptomatic, I am noticably stupider than usual. Like I was hit by a ray developed by Dr. Drakkin, or a similarly comically inept supervillian.

This description has not exactly endeared me to the medical specialists in the greater Akron area. Which specialists are, it goes without saying, utterly bereft of anything resembling a sense of humor. I pined for the opportunity, just once, to go into a new doctor's office and say "My brain hurts."


Many tests, many possibilities crossed off the differential diagnosis, many times recounting my inchoate symptomatology. Finally the third CAT scan revealed a cysts inhabiting most of my right maxillary sinus (the one in my cheekbone.) Incidently, I found an online CAT scan that could be the mirror image twin of mine.

The diagnosis is that of a dentigerous cyst, though it doesn't exactly fit the definition here since there was no tooth in it. This could become important since my HMO has made noises about calling this a dental problem and denying coverage. More on that if it goes down that way.

The treatment? The Caldwell-Luc procedure, which involves "fenestrating," i.e. opening a window in, i.e. cutting a big goddam hole in, my upper mandible. I was under for a couple of hours and woke out of the anesthesia frantically trying to get myself moving because of all the work I have to do. It worked even less well than my usual morning wake-up.

I am going to spare you a blow-by-blow of my recovery. More than you need to know: it revolves around . . . drainage.

So hopefully back to full sentient being mode in another day or two. So unless something outrageously stupid happens that I can just rage about, light postings probably for the duration of the week.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Back in a Couple Days

I am going in for surgery tomorrow and should be out of commission briefly. If you have ever employed the Roto-Rooter Company in your home, you have some idea what will happen to my sinus tomorrow.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

David Brennan, Concerned Citizen

White Hat Guy is under investigation for operating as an unregistered lobbyist. The Beacon Journal's Doug Oplinger and Dennis Willard give a typically (for them) in-depth treatment of the facts. As I noted in an earlier post (and addendum), the new state budget for education pretty well hoses traditional schools and contains some warm fuzzies for charters. The new article highlights the special perks White Hat got, including exemptions for Life Skills Centers and the death of the Legislative Office of Education Oversight (about which anon.)

According to the BJ, Brennan has met with many members of the General Assembly, both in his condo in Columbus and his home in Akron. Named in the article are Representatives Tom Raga (R-Dayton), Diana Fessler (R-New Carlisle), Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati), Jon Peterson (R-Delaware), Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Mary Taylor (R-Green); and Senators Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Lynn Wactman (R-Napolean), and Jim Jordan (R-West Liberty). That's six Reps and three Senators only one of whom (Taylor), is from anywhere near Akron.

Brennan flack Tom Needles says Brennan was merely "exercising his fundamental rights embodied in the Constitution to express his personal views and interests before elected representatives in the state of Ohio." The members of the legislature who met with him did so in response to "personal invitations that he made as a private citizen." See Brennan just wanted to share his "passion for school choice." That's all. He wasn't asking for anything. He just has important people over to his house every once in a while to share his concern for underprivileged school children and the $100 million-plus alotted to their education every year.

Fair enough. I'm a private citizen too, and I have concerns about charter schools. And I have a pretty nice house in Akron. I am happy to host a breakfast meeting for the Republican delegations so we can kick it about my passions. One of which is transparent government. So anyone reading with a line into the statehouse, tell 'em to leave a comment and we'll arrange something.

The BJ gets DiD disease

Much much much has been made lately of the media's fixation on Damsels in Distress, especially white Damsels. The modal story is one of a missing white woman; vanished teen reveler Natalie Halloway and faux abductee Jennifer Wilbanks being the two most recent editions. Professional media critics and bloggers alike have been taking the press -- most especially the cable news outlets -- to task for their collective cant into tabloid territory. The criticism has had little effect, primarily because these stories apparently make for salable product.

The Beacon Journal, apparently unable or unwilling to wait for a missing white* woman of its own, has devised its own entry into the subgenre: The Damsel Formerly in Distress Who Must Now Cope with the Trauma. The lead story in the Sunday Beacon is Becky's Story, the first in a multipart recounting of a particularly nasty case of domestic violence last July. Yes, we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of this sad story with a serial retelling. Can't we just sell the movie rights to Lifetime and be done with it?

I am trying to convey how bad this is without rehashing any of the sorry details. The Free Times thinks this is tawdry. You can't read it without that eerie Vincent Price soundalike narrator from A&E's City Confidential subvocalizing the words.

Sometimes the BJ will pull out the stops on a story to illuminate some overarching theme. Not this time. This is a human interest story for the kind of humans who linger around accident scenes. If the True Crime section of Borders is too highbrow for you, check it out.

*Curiously, the Beacon Journal does have a Missing Woman to cover but has been burying the stories. Sejal Patel was found dead in her car last weekend. The story about the positive identification of her remains was relegated to B5 of the Saturday Local Section. Granted the story has been percolating for a while now, but a significant development buried in Local? I hate being Racial Sensitivity Guy, but that just looks bad.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Correction on Charter Schools

Buried in my rant about the state budget a couple weeks back was an erroneous statement that the only charter school caps to survive the conference committee were caps applied to e-schools. Apparently some new-school caps remained, but enrollment caps were removed. There were enough provisos and exceptions that I thought the effect would be negligible, but apparently the charter organizers at least are bent about it.

The caps are summarized on the Ohio Fair Schools website as follows:

(1) Establishes a statewide cap until July 1, 2007 on startup community schools
sponsored by the school districts in which the schools are located. The cap is
30 additional schools. Permits an operator to manage a new community
school in excess of the cap, based on the number of schools that the operator is
managing that are excellent, effective, or in continuous improvement. (2)
Extends the current statewide cap on the number of startup community schools
sponsored by entities other than school districts for two years to July 1,
2007. Extends the cap to 30. Permits an operator to manage a new
community school in excess of the cap, based on the number of schools that the
operator is managing that are excellent, effective, or in continuous
improvement. (3) Requires ODE within thirty days after the bill's
effective date, to conduct a lottery to fill the 30 additional slots below each
cap. (4) Essentially establishes a moratorium on startup and conversion
e-schools, by prohibiting a sponsor from entering into a contract to open a new
e-school between May 1, 2005 and the effective date of any standards governing
e-school operations enacted by the General Assembly.

Whew! Got all that? Any questions?

The Columbus Dispatch ($$$ only) reports today that charter organizers are complaining about the caps. The article is written with something of a slant toward charters. No mention of, for example, the chaos that charter schools have wrought on district budgeting.

How much the caps will help remains to be seen. We are a long way from establishing either a level playing field for traditional and charter schools, or real accountability for charters.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Ohio Blogosphere is all A-Twitter

With news of Sherrod Brown's new website. Liccopac thinks it means he is running for Senator, as apparently does Paul at peoplehavethepower. The Ticked-Off Ohioan simply gives it a thumbs-up. The newly revamped Seven Cent Nickel also has a take.

I like the site for itself. If it is a precusor to a Senate run, it is looks a good one. Fresh look, lots of content, room for interactivity.

If Sherrod doesn't run for Senate, I fear we are reaching saturation with good ideas for organizing. Right now we have Blue 88. We have PDA chapters and DFA chapters springing up. I get a really good idea for a meetup from MoveOn in my inbox about every other day. We have the Bring Ohio Back, Wake Up Ohio and the Ohio Progressive Alliance.

It's great that people are getting involved and organized. But at some point folks need to get together on this stuff, rather than create their own fiefdoms.

Republicans screwed the Amish?

I don't want to turn this blog into AmishWatch. But as I noted earlier, the Republicans have created an interesting dynamic with Ohio's Amish community. And now the General Assembly's Medicaid "reform" has put the Amish in a difficult position.

The GOP's outreach to the Amish was an important factor in the election (and possibly in the unfortunate Bush-stole-the-Ohio-election vortex that has sucked in too many of my liberal peers*). The Amish earned and received a big wet sloppy kiss in the form of a blanket exemption from jury dury.

The Republicans' indebtedness raised some potentially ticklish problems when they considered a photo ID requriment for new voters. Apparently, the bill that contained the proposal is effectively dead. It's not clear how we got to that point and whether Amish issues figured in.

But now the ABJ reports that the changes to Medicaid in the recent budget require the Amish to register for Medicaid to receive subsidized care they have received for years. The Amish apparently object to Medicaid on religious grounds (much of the Amish faith revolves around the community taking care of itself.) So they are left in a bind.

From the ABJ story it appears that the General Assembly actually removed a religious exemption. How the change saves Ohio money is not clear, but much of Medicaid "reform" in the last budget cycle was about reducing rolls.

Once again we will have to see if the Amish receive their own exemption. If not, an opportunity opens for Democrats.

*SIDEBAR. Much of the handwringing over Bush's supposedly stolen victory goes like this: "acknowledged problem, acknowledged problem, acknowledged problem, exit poll discrepency, it must have been stolen, the end." A number of factors on the other side are not discussed like, for instance, the Amish. The represent a new voting bloc, one that is centered in areas not traditional frequented by exit pollsters. Furthermore their insularity makes them less likely to talk to pollsters. Since much of the scientific evaluation of the exit poll discrepency focuses on refusals (see, e.g., Mystery Pollster's meta-exit poll page), the Amish variable has to be part of the discussion.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Musical chairs in non-music radio

Okayfine. The odd saga of progressive talk radio in the NEO continues.

A few weeks back ClearChannel reformatted an Akron station to progressive talk amidst one of the more bizzare media campaigns in recent memory -- one that vilified ClearChannel. One possible reading of the move and the campaign was that -- conservative roots to the contrary -- ClearChannel is more about making money than about any political agenda.

The former incarnation of CC's 1350 was as WTOU, a Fox Sports affiliate that also carried Jim Rome. The new 1350 is WARF ("but we won't use the call letters because they start with 'W'" CC's politics also won't stand in the way of bad jokes), which carries Ed Shultz and Stephanie Miller -- whom I do not care for -- and Thom Hartmann, who is bearable.

Meanwhile, if the ions lined up right and I stayed out of the Valley, my car radio could pick up a fuzzy, picket-fenced, wah-wah version of Air America from WJMP out of Kent. Not satisfying, but after more than a year of contriving reasons to be by my computer from 1-3 that didn't involve actual computer work so that I could listen to Al Franken, it was a welcome change.

So this morning I tune into WJMP and hear -- Fox Sports. Round about noon, WJPM is playing -- Rome. In an exercise of desperate hope, I tune to 1350 and hear -- Al.

Contrary to expectations, this is not all about ClearChannel. According to this article, WJMP is owned by locally-based Media-Com. (In another business-makes-stranger-bedfellows note, Media-Com also owns lumpenprole wingnut talk station WNIR.)

I've been unable to find info about the switch. Don't read anything into the adoption of Fox Sports -- the politics of sports radio is fairly insulated from actual politics. Fox Sports is simply where you go if you want to compete with a local ESPN affiliate (i.e. WKNR). To further confuse you, the Fox Sports on WJMP is punctuated by CBS radio news updates, while the liberals on WARF have to tune out ABC news breaks.

And we won't even talk about Springer backing into Paul Harvey and Limbaugh on TAM.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

To: The Lady in the Flower Print Dress Behind Me in Line at the Giant Eagle

From: Pho

Re: Your recent purchase.

I am assuming from your sour expression that you read my sour expression. And you probably guessed the reason. It was my disgust at seeing that you had taken time out of your Saturday evening to stop at a supermarket for the apparent sole purpose of purchasing The Truth About Hillary.

I was sorely tempted to say something. I didn't, partly because I had my 3-year-old with me, partly to avoid a public spectacle, but mostly because at first blush it seemed fruitless. Really, what are the odds that my speaking could change your mind about anything. You are proposing to devote several hours to a book whose sole purpose is to fling poo on its subject. A book that makes the collected works of Kitty Kelly look like hagiography and the journalism of the National Enquirer like Woodward and Bernstein. A book that has been roundly denounced by journalists, historians and several responsible conservatives.

As I completed my transaction, I realized what really needed to be said, though again I held my tongue. Here it is: You are being suckered. A hack writer has shaken the dust off a collection of old rumors, cobbled together a few new anonymous sources, synthesized some misrepresentations of his own and put a hard cover on it for the apparent purpose of separating you from $18.81 (list price minus GE's 25% discount) of your money.

Surely you must have heard the criticisms. (If you haven't, check out here, here, here and here.) And surely the book itself isn't important to your ultimate opinion. Would you really vote for her if convinced that she isn't a lesbian?

So I am left with the conclusion that you shell out the money to buy a pestilent book that confirms your darkest fears about your liberal boogeymen. The Ed Klein's of the world are happy to take your money and give you a shoddy product that reinforces your paranoia about the left and forestalls any possibilty of real debate. How very sad that you so freely give it to them.