State

“It’s difficult to say for sure whether this is real corruption or the appearance of corruption. But on the face of it, the situation looks bad.”

Marc Dann accepted contributions from gambling companies with cases before the Ohio AG.

Land deal heralds new age of enlightenment

Do you think maybe a bit too much is being made of a simple purchase of land from Ohio to Columbus? I don’t (just) mean the blogger.

“One of my favorite things about this project was how everyone came together,” said Senator Stivers (R-16), who sponsored the budget bill measure allowing the property to be sold. “We worked as a team for a common goal and walked away with a success. It’s a model of how bipartisanship can work, and work well.”

“This is an investment in public safety and we appreciate the State of Ohio for helping us find such a perfect, central location to make the new home of the Police heliport,” said Mayor Coleman. “By moving our existing heliport to the Hilltop, we are also making way for new investment and economic development at the Gowdy site, where hundreds of new jobs are coming into the City.”

“I want to thank everyone who was involved in identifying this site and helping the City of Columbus put it to good use,” said Councilmember Hearcel F. Craig. “This is a great example of inter-government cooperation that will benefit two of the City’s major priorities: public safety in the form of a new location for a modernized heliport, and economic development opportunities by freeing up space at the Gowdy site.”

I mean it’s nice that the transaction took place, but people buy and sell land every day without making it out to be akin to the second coming. But I guess it’s politicians’ natural instinct to look around for praise every time they tie their own shoes.

Bush in Cleveland today

OPENERS:

The president has several stops today — including GraftTech, which is doing fuel cell research, and the Cleveland Clinic, a leader in medical technology. But his real news is expected to be delivered this afternoon, when he reportedly will discuss his administration’s ideas for a long-term plan for success in Iraq.

Too soon to know whether it will appease critics of the current Iraq strategy, including Republican Sen. George Voinovich. Voinovich didn’t join Bush on this trip. His office said he had to be in Washington for expected votes on Senate business.

I don’t see Voinovich getting a lot of invitations from George Bush.

Voinovich calls for “disengagement” from Iraq

From his letter to President Bush:

“As you know, I have been concerned about the situation in Iraq for some time. Nonetheless, I was steadfast in voting against any legislation that would limit or cut off spending for the war,” Voinovich said in the letter, released this afternoon by his office. “I have consistently opposed attempts to limit your powers as our commander-in-chief, and I have openly opposed any form of precipitous withdrawal that would threaten our men and women in uniform, endanger American interests, or abandon the commitment we have made to the people of Iraq who do want our help.”

But now, “It’s in their (the Iraqis’) best interest to become part of the solution instead of sitting on the sidelines,” Voinovich told the Associated Press. “I don’t think they’ll get it until they know we’re leaving. It can’t be something that is precipitous, but I do believe that it should be enough so that people know we are indeed disengaging.”

He was one of 24 Republican senators to vote for cloture on the immigration bill too.

Here’s Left of Ohio, who’s got a good bead on this:

For being 70 years old (71 next month) George Voinovich I find it amazing that he is still able to pull off more flips than the U.S. gymnastics team.

Here’s Ohio 15th:

It looks like the Republicans are running scared and they are running away from President Bush’s Iraq policy as fast as they can.

Now Senator Voinovich is one of the ones you’d expect to bail early, but this is still not good for the Bush administration. But Bush was busy at a Saudi-funded mosque earlier today, so maybe he doesn’t have time to worry about domestic politics. Michelle Malkin:

According to USA Today, President Bush is scheduled to pay a visit tomorrow to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. for its re-dedication. Re-dedication to what and from what, I have no idea.

Strickland signs video bill

Gov. Strickland signed SB 117, the so-called video choice bill, into law yesterday. It will take effect September 23.

Previous post here.

More data stolen

From the Dispatch blog:

Another state data theft, this time from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, has exposed the personal information of 439 injured Ohioans.

The bureau said this morning that a laptop computer stolen from the garage of one of its auditors in late May contained information of 439 injured workers, including their names, claim numbers, Social Security numbers, amount of workers’ compensation received, and possibly the medical diagnosis associated with the workplace injury.

The bureau is in the process of notifying affected workers, and free identity protection service will be offered to each.

No kudos for early and forthright coming clean with the facts this time. And could the BWC’s reputation get any worse? -Yes.

Ohio unemployment

Ohio saw an increase in mass layoffs last month:

With mass layoffs increasing in May, Ohio saw the number of workers that filed for unemployment insurance during the month jump by 8 percent compared with the same month last year.

Ohio experienced 34 mass layoffs of 50 or more workers in May, leading to 3,350 claims for unemployment, according to a Friday release by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau Statistics. In May 2006, it experienced 30 large-scale layoffs resulting in 3,012 claims.

Overall though, the numbers are unchanged from April:

The unemployment rate for Ohio in May was 27 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.

The national unemployment rate was 4.5 percent. Ohio’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in May.

There was no change in the unemployment rates from April, as the U.S. rate was 4.5 percent and Ohio’s was 5.7.

Columbus-based Limited brands will be reducing its corporate employees by 10%:

Retailer Limited Brands Inc. will cut corporate jobs in Columbus and New York to reflect a smaller company that is moving away from apparel sales to concentrate on lingerie and beauty businesses, the company said Friday.

The operator of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works will reduce the size of its corporate staff by about 530 jobs, or 10 percent. The reductions will include the elimination of open positions, transfers as part of its plan to sell two-thirds of its stake in Express and reductions of current staff, the company said.

Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games

Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies 039

Another event that Columbus is hosting all this weekend is the Special Olympics Ohio Summer Games. The opening ceremonies were held yesterday at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the OSU campus. This year is the 36th that OSU has hosted the Ohio Special Olympics games.

2800 athletes from all parts of Ohio are competing. Cabot Rea, the Columbus NBC affiliate news anchor hosted, and he did a fine job. Click on the pics for more photos.

More on the event at Planet of the Blind.

Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies 063

Blog truthers

Inside blog baseball coming up. Skip this post if these things make your eyes roll back into your head. Here’s Jerid at Buckeye State Blog today:

It’s unfortunate, but a lot of questions are arising at this juncture in the Ohio blogosphere about who’s who, what/if folks are paid shills, and if some of the more nefarious bloggers are moonlighting under other identities. Eric raised the question re: Columbuser. While folks that have been to that hack hole know that the guy’s off his track at times, I’m curious about other posters too.

Hmm. That hack hole. It would make a semi-decent subtitle for the blog: Columbuser.com: that hack hole. Except that Jerid’s far more of a hack than I am, in that I actually have good things to say about Democrats from time to time, and criticize Republicans once in a while. I lean libertarian right, but the goal of this blog is not to put a particular party in power, unlike BSB. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you know, pot, kettle, and the rest of it.

And here’s Eric’s post at Plunderbund which questions my existence that Jerid referred to above. That theory seems to have started on this thread, but they may have been holding on to it for some time.

It is actually possible for several different people to disagree with them simultaneously without coordinating it- or being the same person! As for Matt Naugle, I have no idea if he actually exists or not.

Strinkland’s transition team identified data security problem

The Dispatch is reporting that Gov. Strickland’s transition team identified the state’s data security problem before the governor took office.

Strickland had asked for teams of experts to evaluate several key areas of state government and submit their findings and recommendations in reports.

The team studying the state’s Office of Information Technology included an evaluation of state data privacy and security in its report, concluding that the state had “little to no policy guidance or standards.”

“Ohio’s lack of a robust, unified privacy/security capacity lays it open to the type of data spills and breaches that have been plaguing the government and the corporate sectors in increasing numbers over the past few years,” the report concluded.

That turned out to be helpful, didn’t it?

(Previous post here.)

Bob Evans has died

SundayBreakfast

NBC4i:

Bob Evans, founder of a chain of family-style restaurants, has died, company officials confirmed on Thursday.

Evans founded the company and a retail sausage business headquartered in Columbus.

Evans suffered a stroke in February 2007 and was readmitted to Cleveland Clinic on June 8 with complications. He was 89 years old.

(Photo: SundayBreakfast by brutal @ Flickr.)

Buckeye State Blog engaging in blackmail?

Last time around I questioned whether Jerid at BSB had illegally recorded a telephone conversation with Eric Forbes, the political director of the Bill Todd campaign. Now it appears that he’s blackmailing the Todd campaign. I don’t care to get sued for libel, and I am not a lawyer, but here’s Wikipedia on blackmail:

Blackmail is the act of threatening to reveal information about a person, or even do something to destroy the threatened person, unless the blackmailed target fullfills certain demands. This information is usually of an embarrassing or socially damaging nature.

Here’s Admin at BSB, who I believe is Jerid:

Since Eric didn’t get the seriousness of my vague warning to the Todd campaign the other day, which I emailed to Eric at that same personal email address he used to contact Williamson, we’re going to play a game. I’m going to give the Todd campaign some lifelines. When the campaign decides to make a dick move, I’m going to take a lifeline away. Cause I’m a swell guy, I’m starting them with four lifelines - one of which they’ve used today.

I really don’t want to have to drop my electoral surprise. And honestly, Eric, Todd, it’s your decision. Shape up, or deal with the consequences.

The shoe seems to fit. Any actual lawyers out there familiar with state or local blackmail laws? Please comment.

Progressive lawyer vs. ex-Todd client

From the Dispatch blog:

It took six years to resolve a claim that corporations and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce conspired to illegally dump money into the 2000 race for the state Supreme Court.

Now, attorney Clifford O. Arnebeck Jr. wants to go another round.

Arnebeck, who represented the liberal Alliance for Democracy in an Ohio Elections Commission case against the chamber, this morning announced his intention to sue the chamber under the state’s corrupt-practices law.

Arnebeck told reporters in his law office that corporations illegally funneled some $15 million into Supreme Court races in 2000, 2002 and 2004 through the chamber’s political arm.

Here’s Arnebeck’s opening salvo (pdf). Much more on this at Buckeye State Blog and Progress Ohio. They’re focusing on Republican Columbus mayoral candidate Bill Todd’s involvement- he was the lawyer for Citizens for a Strong Ohio, the Chamber of Commerce political group, which the Ohio Election Commission found had acted improperly. Here’s an AP news item dated December 26, 2006, which I could only find on one of the complainants’ sites, the Alliance for Democracy:

Citizens for a Strong Ohio called itself an issue advocacy group, free from elections laws that require political action committees to fully disclose their activities, such as disclosing names of contributors and the amount they give. Yet its TV ads so clearly targeted [candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court Alice Robie] Resnick that the elections commission found the group had crossed the line into partisan politics.

The group’s ads targeting Resnick began running in the early fall of 2000. The ads implied that Resnick was for sale.

One ad featured a lady justice figure lifting her blindfold as money was placed on one of the scales of justice. Another portrayed a female judge changing her vote as bags of money were piled on her desk. The chamber group claimed Resnick voted 70 percent of the time with lawyer-contributors.

Resnick, a Democrat, had caught the wrath of pro-business groups for her votes on insurance, workers’ compensation and in other cases. The ads drew the attention of two nonprofit reform groups: Common Cause and the Alliance for Democracy.

Both filed complaints against Citizens for a Strong Ohio before the election, which Resnick won with 57 percent of the vote.

The fight dragged out for six years, ending less than two weeks before the end of Resnick’s term on Jan. 1 [2007]. Veteran elections lawyer Cliff Arnebeck, who represented the Alliance for Democracy, said the long battle was worth it.

“We had to fight to get the chamber to adhere to the same law everybody has to adhere to. It’s important when large entities are held accountable,” Arnebeck said.

William Todd, a longtime lawyer who mostly represents Republican causes, came on board with Citizens for a Strong Ohio early in the case. Todd tried to make the case that advocacy advertising is a form of free speech and shouldn’t be subjected to campaign law.

Which I agree with, actually. But the question for the mayoral race: how much will this affect Bill Todd? I don’t have a good guess, but I’m leaning toward “not much”. We’ll see how accurate that is as time marches on.

UPDATE: Here’s OPENERS’ report:

Public interest attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who represented Alliance for Democracy in the earlier litigation, on Thursday sent the Chamber’s attorney, Bradley Smith, a letter stating that he plans to bring a lawsuit against the Chamber under the state’s corrupt practices act. Arnebeck said he probably will file the suit in September but still doesn’t know who all the plantiffs will be or who the suit will target beyond the Chamber itself.

Arnebeck estimates the Chamber spent up to $15 million campaigning for Republican judicial candidates between 2000 and 2004 and said that he will ask for $45 million in his suit — $15 million trebled, as the law allows, if victorious.

Smith, the chamber’s attorney, said Arnebeck should move on and focus on upcoming elections. If the lawsuit comes as promised, Smith said, he’s prepared to defend the business group.

Strickland dribbling out stolen data details

I’ve generally been a defender of Gov. Strickland on the stolen data tape issue because the bad backup policy was already in force when he became governor, and the matter is hardly the type of thing that would be addressed in the first 100 or 200 days of a new administration. But the way details are coming out on exactly what information was on the tape seems a bit too controlled. As seemingly everyone reported yesterday, in addition to all the other data, the tape also contained 200,000 taxpayer records.

Here’s BizzyBlog:

But in my opinion, the need for an independent investigation is there because we don’t know who and what are causing the situation to continually mushroom. It’s making the governor (unfairly, in this case) look like a buffoon. To be finding out 10 days later that what was thought to be encrypted isn’t, what was thought to be locked wasn’t, and that the scope of what was stolen is still growing, is ridiculous. If the game-playing goes high enough (like to the governor’s cabinet? or a handler?), any attempted internal investigation might be compromised. It’s better to have an independent investigation now and clean house than to either never get a handle on what happened or to have the truly guilty parties engineer some kind of fall-guy/gal result.

I don’t believe Ted Strickland is foolish enough to be dribbling out the bad news like this. If he is, that’s a whole different matter entirely.

To which Conservative Culture responds:

I disagree with the last line. Strickland I think knows what he is doing and that he is intentionally dribbling it out. Perhaps he doesn’t know just how bad it might be but he could have after the first mis-information had his aids double back to verify what they knew.

I just don’t see how it could take so long to find out and tell us what’s on the tape when they have had an exact duplicate of the tape the whole time.

Cable bill ready for governor’s signature

Via Right Angle Blog, news that the Ohio Senate unanimously approved the House changes to SB 117:

Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign legislation that would make it easier for phone companies and other competitors to break into Ohio’s cable television market, Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said Tuesday.

The bill now goes to Strickland after the Senate voted 33-0 to agree with changes the House made to the legislation first passed by the Senate….

Strickland believes the legislation “will result in significant investment in Ohio” and expand consumer choice while also protecting consumers and local governments, said Dailey.

The Dispatch has an article about cities’ opposition:

The legislation would replace the existing patchwork of agreements between providers and individual communities across the state. Those agreements mean big bucks to the local governments that authorize the companies to provide service.

For instance, Newark’s agreement with Time Warner brought in about $280,000 last year, said Service Director David Calhoun….

Another worry for many communities is how the bill will affect local access channels. The bill changes the regulation of local channels and allows cable providers to drop channels that it thinks are under-used in some instances.

That throws into question how well public-access channels can be maintained by some communities.

Newark schools use the channels for the high-school broadcasting class and run advertisements for local nonprofits and church groups.

Previous post on the topic here.

The Feed

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