Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

OMG

July 16, 2018

This just in: Andrew J. Tobias for cleveland.com headlines Southeast Ohio Republican Party leader resigns over Trump-Putin meeting (7-16-18). Chris Gagin, Chairman of the Belmont County Ohio Republican Party, sent out these two tweets today:

“I remain a proud conservative and Republican, but I resigned today as Belmont Co Ohio GOP Chairman. I did so as a matter of conscience, and my sense of duty.”

“The President is entitled to GOP party leaders, at all levels, fully committed to his views and agenda.  Following today’s press conference with Pres. Putin, as well as certain policy differences, most especially on trade, I could no longer fulfill that duty.  Thus, I resigned.”

Tobias gives this background info: “Gagin is a former staffer to ex-Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson who switched parties in 2013. He ran this year as a Belmont County commissioner, but lost in the Republican primary in May. In the 2017 fight for control of the Ohio Republican Party in the aftermath of Trump’s electoral victory, Gagin was an ally of then-Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges, who lost to now-Chairman Jane Timken, for whom Trump personally lobbied. The leadership fight generally was seen as a proxy fight between Trump’s and Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s political teams. Belmont County is among the historically Democratic counties in Ohio that have swung into Republican control in recent years. In November 2016, thanks in large part to Trump’s popularity, Republicans took control of the Belmont County commission in what may have been the first time in history.” Analysis must note that St. Clairsville is the county seat of Belmont County. During the heyday of coal strip mining Belmont County contained more than its share. It also contains Dysart Woods. Don’t know what Dysart Woods is? Wiki it.

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Not Worthy

July 12, 2018

July 12, 2018. Not appearing as news in the Newark Advocate today would be the news about John Schnatter (a perversion of Wayne’s World “not worthy”). You remember John, founder of Papa John’s (the one time official pizza of the NFL). He stepped down as Chairman of the Board of the company he founded (and still owns majority of the stock). Eh, just another case of whiteness in America, nothing to note (“not worthy”). But wait, there was a prequel to this episode. From the 12-21-17 Washington Post business section  Marwa Eltagouri headlined: Papa John’s founder will step down as CEO after criticizing national anthem protests in the NFL. “In November, Schnatter sparked outrage by blaming sagging sales at Papa John’s — a top NFL sponsor and advertiser — on the league’s “poor leadership” in response to the demonstrations during the national anthem. He said the practice of players kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice hurt the NFL’s TV ratings, which in turn hurt sales of his pizza, which is advertised heavily during games. “You need to look at exactly how the ratings are going backwards,” said Schnatter, who donated $1,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. “Last year the ratings for the NFL went backwards because of the elections. This year the ratings are going backwards because of the controversy. And so the controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”” Analysis surmises The Newark Advocate doesn’t wish to get involved with polarization when it comes to its customer base, its advertisers (its readers being “not worthy”). But then again “In the days after Schnatter’s remarks, white supremacist publication the Daily Stormer dubbed Papa John’s as the official pizza of the alt-right. Papa John’s spokesman Peter Collins told the Courier-Journal that the company was caught off-guard by the endorsement and condemned “racism in all forms.”” Do tell. Obviously not an advertiser but big news just the same, the huge rally by organized labor at the Ohio statehouse was also deemed “not worthy” by The Newark Advocate. After the financial meltdown at the end of the Bush presidency, multi-employer pension funds were thrown into a tailspin. Wall street got bailed out, as did GM and Chrysler along with farmers. Now the unions, who bargained in good faith with a pension plan as part of their wages, want a fix to the mess the demise of Lehman Bros. left (you remember, John Kasich’s old employer). “Republicans on the [House and Senate Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans] committee oppose a bailout for the plans, which are essentially private contracts.” “”We don’t want to be bailed out, but we want a little assistance to give us a leg up,” [Dave] Kalnbach [retired ironworker from Michigan] said. “We built America. We built all these buildings.” (Multi-employer pension rally draws thousands to Ohio Statehouse, Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com, 7-12-18). Elsewhere in the Op Ed section of the same publication Brent Larkin headlines; For Senate hopeful Jim Renacci, Ben Suarez is baggage that will not go away, nor should it (7-12-18). “Suarez was convicted of witness tampering and spent about a year in federal prison.” “A July 6 story by Dayton Daily News reporter Laura Bischoff revealed telephone logs obtained by federal investigators found Renacci and Suarez exchanged more than 40 calls between late 2010 and May 2012. Evidence in Suarez’s 2014 criminal trial showed that in 2011 Renacci wrote a letter to Gov. John Kasich complaining about an investigation into the business practices of Suarez’s company being conducted by the state of California. Renacci’s letter proved profitable.  Days later, checks from Suarez employees were headed to the congressman’s campaign treasury, eventually totaling a reported $100,000.” “Of the 40 or more telephone calls, government exhibit 802 in the Suarez trial shows:

*Eight telephone calls between Renacci and Suarez in the week before the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions began to arrive.

*A call on the day before Renacci wrote the letter to Kasich.

*Another call within hours after the Associated Press reported on May 21, 2012 that the donations were the subject of a federal investigation.” Larkin’s finale informs The Advocate’s choice for what is news worthy: “Suarez’s sick brand of vigilante justice includes raising money to defeat Dettelbach and Brown. And he’s offering rewards to anyone providing dirt on any of these four targets. Republican David Yost, Dettelbach’s opponent in the contest for attorney general, has already denounced Suarez’s effort, tweeting, “Mr. Suarez was convicted – by a jury of his peers. Politics and retribution have no place in the criminal justice system. This nonsense needs to stop.” Contrast that exercise in honesty with this from Renacci campaign spokeswoman Leslie Shedd: “Both the Obama Justice Department and the FBI conducted a thorough investigation and repeatedly made clear neither Jim Renacci nor his campaign engaged in any improper conduct. This is just another embarrassingly desperate attempt by Sherrod Brown to deceive voters and deflect from his liberal record in Washington.” That’s the new Republican way. When cornered, always obfuscate, mislead, change the subject. And make sure you include at least one mention of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.” When the reader is the product and the customer is the advertiser, then, during election years, such news is definitely “not worthy.”

I Scream For Ice Cream

June 17, 2018

One of the first more extensive voting polls since the May primary came out this past week. The Enquirer/Suffolk poll as well as the Quinnipiac University poll showed the Ohio governor’s race (4 months away) to be a statistical dead heat. Who is Rich Cordray? GOP pundits like to scoff that even vanilla ice cream is more interesting. At the same time Mike DeWine isn’t exactly Mister Charisma. Most do agree that Cordray is essentially an unknown (especially if one wants to “bank” on the post Parkland massacre young voter surge), while DeWine rivals reality TV with his preponderance of on stage appearances for “things that really matter.” Only no one remembers what he’s done. A bit of a Johnny-come-lately with the opioid addiction crisis, choosing to sue manufacturers and distributors only after witnessing the success other states were having at doing it (and making sure not to offend Dublin based Cardinal Health). Likewise way late on the ECOT scandal, and whatever happened with the Rhoden family massacre in Pike County when Mike’s best pugnacious face was on the news almost every night? Analysis finds the current race for governor to be very curious once you step away from the hype. It may actually revolve on policy and issues this time, something refreshing given the personality politics on the national level. How so? A recent cleveland.com article (6-15-18) is quite informative. Is Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s boast about jobs gains accurate? by Rich Exner covers the current Ohio Governor’s, and past presidential wannabe’s, recent boast that “Ohio is now creating jobs 48 percent faster than the national rate since the start of the year.” Exner immediately notes “Ohio jobs have increased this year at a faster rate than the country as a whole, for the first time since Kasich took office in 2011, cleveland.com found in reviewing the data.” He then goes on to quibble about the veracity of Kasich’s claim given it is about a half percent increase in job growth (whether that increase is 48% higher, etc.). In short, whether that half a point is itself 48% higher than previous lackluster performance. The pertinence to the excitement of our current “unknowns” vying for governor is buried at the bottom of the article. Exner includes the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering the Kasich years:                                                                                                           “2011 – U.S. 1.6 percent; Ohio 1.56 percent.

2012 – U.S. 1.6 percent; Ohio 1.5 percent

2013 – U.S. 1.7 percent, Ohio 1.5 percent.

2014 – U.S. 2.2 percent, Ohio 1.8 percent.

2015 – U.S. 1.9 percent, Ohio 1.1 percent.

2016 – U.S. 1.6 percent, Ohio 0.8 percent

2017 – U.S. 1.5 percent, Ohio 0.6 percent.

2018 (through May) – U.S. 0.7 percent, Ohio 1.2 percent.”                                                   Kasich, the made for TV personality, touted Ohio’s robust and vigorous job growth during his presidential wannabe years and beyond. After all, he was a commentator for Fox prior to his running for governor in 2010, as well as is currently much in demand as a foil for the Dear Leader. Had he not been a made for TV personality pre any of the elections, the veracity of his claims may have had some significance and bearing on the outcome. THAT is precisely the excitement of the current Ohio Governor’s race between two veritable bland as vanilla ice cream personalities.

Not Voting Is Government By Other Means

June 13, 2018

News out of SCOTUS this past week affected Ohio and the rest of the nation. Almost every news source covered the story. For this essay Analysis will reference New York Times’ Supreme Court Upholds Ohio’s Purge of Voting Rolls by Adam Liptak (6-11-18). For those of you keeping score at home the ruling concerns Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, No. 16-980. The “Husted” is Jon Husted, current Ohio Secretary of State as well as current candidate for lieutenant governor in the upcoming 2018 election (timing is everything). For the namesake of the Institute on the obverse side WIKI gives “In response to the 1963 Children’s Crusade and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, A. Philip Randolph, former head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, an early black trade union, and Bayard Rustin, founded the APRI to forge an alliance between the civil rights movement and the labor movement. These efforts got them on the master list of Nixon political opponents.” (obviously not running for anything). Lots of handwringing and OMG accompanied this story in terms of national elections, voter suppression as an instrument of one party domination, etc. In an ambivalent gesture of affirmation with regard to these concerns Husted tried to minimize them by asserting Ohio would not “enforce” the ruling until after the fall election (appearance of conflict of interest and all). His official response (according to the NY Times): ““Today’s decision is a victory for election integrity,” Mr. Husted, a Republican, said in a statement, adding that “this decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls” and could “serve as a model for other states to use.”” (A veritable “C’mon down” call on The Price Is Right). Writing for the majority “Federal law, Justice Alito wrote, “plainly reflects Congress’s judgment that the failure to send back the card, coupled with the failure to vote during the period covering the next two general federal elections, is significant evidence that the addressee has moved.”” (from whence most of the outrage flows given that statistically, not as many people as get purged move within that period of time – in Ohio or elsewhere.) The Times relays his succinct reasoning: ““The dissents have a policy disagreement, not just with Ohio, but with Congress,” he wrote. “But this case presents a question of statutory interpretation, not a question of policy. We have no authority to second-guess Congress or to decide whether” Ohio’s notification program “is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date.” “The only question before us is whether it violates federal law,” Justice Alito wrote. “It does not.”” Analysis finds the reasoning to be flawless. Eliding the “political” questions of voter suppression, rigging the game through voter ID, or “use it or lose it” requirements, or discount double check those weekly mailings that all look like official car warranty, healthcare, or government benefit notices, Analysis finds the significance of the ruling more in line with the economic stimulus endeavors following the financial meltdown during the Bush administration. How so? Given the ruling and the current Ohio Secretary of State, it is difficult to ascertain what percentage of Ohioans eligible to vote are registered and really can vote, especially if they haven’t voted. One figure from 2012 gives 70% registered. It is important to bear in mind that in addition to the countless ways to register  (library, DMV, etc.) there is also the political theater of interest groups energetically soliciting the remaining 30% to register at large public gatherings (festivals, rallies, etc.). Yet after the registration comes…what? It is akin to all the unmarried couples who live together and introduce their significant other as their “fiancé.” No one bothers to equally forcefully get people to the polls to vote in innumerable local elections. Why? Because most elections concern mundane local concerns, not the stuff of national news (and populist outrage). Analysis finds the significance of the ruling, its stimulus character, to be that to change the “Congress’s judgment that the failure to send back the card, coupled with the failure to vote during the period covering the next two general federal elections, is significant evidence that the addressee has moved” doesn’t require changing the US congress. It does require changing one’s local Ohio representative or senator which requires actually voting in the mundane local elections that determine these members of the Ohio legislature. Not only does voting make the ruling moot (since the registered voter is active) but also makes it possible to improve the state’s voting policy to be more inclusive (EZ). According to the NY Times “The case concerned Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron, Ohio. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but did not vote in 2012, saying he was unimpressed by the candidates. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014. But in 2015, Mr. Harmon did want to vote against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and found that his name had been stricken from the voting rolls. State officials said that they had done so after sending Mr. Harmon a notice in 2011 asking him to confirm his eligibility to vote and that he did not respond. Mr. Harmon said he did not remember receiving a notice, but he was dropped from the voter rolls.” As pointed out in a past blog post, no government is politics by other means. Not voting is government by other means. By not bothering with mundane local elections, Mr. Harmon inadvertently affirmed Ohio’s purge policy.

 

 

 

 

Who Hit The Snooze Button?

June 1, 2018

Two items of note in the news with regard to public transportation (you remember public transportation – what most growing areas of the world rely on to move their population from home to work in an accessible and affordable manner, reliably, sustainably). In a mostly promotional press release, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance headlined Downtown Cleveland’s commuter options drive economic development (6-1-18). The opening line reads: “In cities across the U.S., businesses are beginning to think differently about the importance of mobility options when it comes to talent attraction and real estate decision-making.” The centrality of public transportation is underlined a few lines later by “A robust and growing multi-modal transportation system fuels this growth.” Of particular interest to the public transportation infidels in Newark and Licking County is “Recognized by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as the leading example of bus rapid transit (BRT) innovation in North America, the Healthline connects Downtown Cleveland and University Circle — Ohio’s largest and fourth largest job hubs — with 24-hour service. Since its inception, the Healthline has helped attract more than $6 billion of investment along its route. RTA continues to build upon this innovation with additional BRT service like the Cleveland State University Line and MetroHealth Line, making downtown employment further accessible to residents of surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.” Butt weight, there’s more! Remember the chatter about Mound Builders State memorial (Great Circle Earthworks), World Heritage status and converting the old Meritor factory site into a “tourist destination”? Of course you do. In Ohio, the two major tourist destinations are western Lake Erie (the islands, Cedar Point, etc.) and the Hocking Hills. The AP, through US News, headlined Shuttle Expected to Ease Parking Headaches at Hocking Hills (5-28-18). “Officials say the shuttle bus between downtown Logan and Old Man’s Cave will run on weekends through Oct. 28.” “The shuttle departs downtown Logan beginning at 10 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes, with the last shuttle at 6:30 p.m.” It’s reliable, sustainable, affordable and accessible public transportation that will draw people to downtown Logan when their destination is really the Hocking Hills parks. Even Logan has recognized it is of value not to be stuck in the past. Analysis wonders when Newark and Licking County will wake from their Rip Van Winkle Z’s. Who hit the snooze button?

No Government Is Politics By Other Means

May 22, 2018

Well, this is actually quite old, only now it is so much more overt than covert. How so? News blackout in Newark, The Advocate has definitely NOT been covering the Payday lender news in its editions. As pointed out in this blog’s Buried Lead posting (4-18-18), the resignation of House Speaker Cliff Rosenbeger had beaucoup to do with the definitely weird and unaccountable primary reelection campaign ads by Larry Householder (whose win was, to use the liberal term for a conservative cause celebre, “inevitable”, aside from also being within The Advocate’s coverage area. As mentioned in previous posts, The Advocate’s customer base is its paying advertisers, not readers). Those ads positioned Householder (and the various other state rep candidates he backed so they would back him) for election as Speaker of the House in 2019. Though a bit odd, he is not one of the candidates to replace Rosenberger who resigned, to run out the rest of the Speaker’s term in 2018. Most voters will find this strange as there were two separate lists of primary candidates for the 12thUS Congressional district – one to fill out Pat Tiberi’s recent term, and one to run for the next term. These two lists included the same names. Ditto for Ohio House Speaker? Emphatic nyet! Yet Householder’s “inevitable” campaigning was all about the speaker’s job. Confused? Following all this for the Dayton Daily news, Laura Bischoff headlined Payday lender made 3 international trips with ex-Ohio House speaker (4-25-18). In it she reports on various overseas trips to China, Great Britain and France by Rosenberger accompanied by Advance America exec Carol Stewart. “Advance America, which has 2,000 stores across the nation, employs lobbyists to influence legislation, including House Bill 123, a payday lending reform measure that had been stalled in the Ohio House for months.” Since then, other lobbyist for various umbrella groups of the Payday Lending industry have been named as being involved in financing other such trips (as well as accompanying Mr. Rosenberger). For Cleveland.com Jackie Borchardt headlined Payday loan ballot measure advances while Ohio lawmakers debate bill (5-21-18). After originally refusing to allow a citizen initiative petition, Ohio Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine eventually certified the Short Term Loan Consumer Protection Amendment. “The effort now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether the proposal is one or multiple ballot issues. After it clears the Ballot Board, supporters can begin collecting the 305,591 signatures of Ohio registered voters to put the measure on a statewide ballot. The deadline for the November ballot is July 4.” The citizen Amendment initiative is in response to the constipated effort of the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee to move HB 123. As mentioned in this blog’s posting “Buried Lead”, the committee moved the bill along immediately following Speaker Rosenberger’s resignation. Committee member and House Speaker candidate Ryan Smith supports and promotes the bill as is. Smith is running for filling out the unexpired speaker’s term as well as opposing Householder for the next session. What does this have to do with The Advocate and all the trips to China, etc.? The House Speaker’s position is one of the most powerful in the legislature, determining not only what legislation moves along (and what never sees the light of day) but also what is funded, etc. For the unfulfilled speakership term the GOP caucus is currently deadlocked which means no special sessions of the house can be assembled. Though a vote on HB 123 is on tap for the regular scheduled session later this summer, the bill still needs to pass the Senate in the fall (an election year) before seeking Governor Kasich’s lame duck approval. With a new session (and speaker) in 2019, HB 123 would need to start all over again from scratch. Rosenberger’s trysts with the Payday lenders association, along with Mike DeWine’s footdragging and now the failure of the GOP to fill out Rosenberger’s unexpired term have effectively killed the possibility of any meaningful short term loan regulation. None of which is newsworthy for The Advocate. It is often said that “war is politics by other means.” In the US today it is more like “No government is politics by other means.”

Buried Lead

April 18, 2018

Seen the TV ad of Larry Householder in camo with locked and loaded 12 gauge shooting a television set out in a corn field, ending with “we stick to our guns”? Of course you have. And along with Analysis, you haven’t a clue what all that is about. Cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias headlines Ohio State Rep. Larry Householder sues political groups over attack ads (4-18-18). “Householder alleges the TV, radio and printed ads — which make reference to an FBI investigation, which closed without charges in 2006, into Householder’s activities as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in the 2000s — are false and defamatory, and asks a judge to pull them off the air. The ads were produced by the Honor and Principles PAC and the Conservative Alliance PAC, two Virginia-based groups that are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Householder’s home Perry County on Wednesday.” “The lawsuit is the latest turn in the heated, months-long, behind-the-scenes political battle among Republicans to be the next leader of the Ohio House of Representatives for the session beginning next year. Householder is among the candidates vying for the position, which is chosen by Ohio House members. The position’s future is more uncertain than ever after former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s sudden resignation last week. Rosenberger stepped down eight months before his term was to have expired, appointing a temporary successor, amid an FBI probe into a trip he took to London last summer with lobbyists for the auto title-loan industry.” Same day, same news source, Laura Hancock headlined Payday lending bill advances out of Ohio legislative committee. Analysis found the opening line significant. “A House committee advanced a bill Wednesday morning that would cap fees and interest rates on payday loan businesses – after more than a year of the bill stalling and less than a week after the chamber’s speaker, Cliff Rosenberger, resigned amid a reported FBI inquiry into his ties with the industry. The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee cleared House Bill 123 with a vote of 9 to 1.” Of equal importance “But Rep. Ryan Smith, who is running for House speaker, said it was time to move the bill. “Quite frankly the idea that we’re making progress in (negotiation) meetings when everything is stalled, stalled, stalled,” he said. “it’s pretty obvious what’s happening.” Later, Smith said his comment wasn’t a critique on Rosenberger but on the payday lenders, who he doesn’t believe want any changes in the law.” What could be more rural than shotguns, camo fatigues, cornfields and TV sets? Still the same day, Columbus Business First’s Robin Smith headlined: Central Ohio’s fastest-growing school districts are largely rural. “Delaware County leads off with the top two districts, with the top five rounded out by districts in Licking, Fairfield and Union counties. Another Delaware County district and four Franklin County districts fill out the top 10.” The rural burbs, not just corn sprouting and growing there! Analysis referenced all that to reference the AP’s Andrew Taylor’s headline House panel moves to curb food stamps, renew farm subsidies (4-18-18). “The hard-fought food stamp provisions would tighten existing work requirements and expand funding for state training programs, though not by enough to cover everybody subject to the new work and training requirements. Agriculture panel chair Michael Conaway said the provisions would offer food stamp beneficiaries “the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”” The bulk of the article is about the nuances. Toward the end: “The measure mostly tinkers with those programs, adding provisions aimed at helping rural America obtain high-speed internet access, assist beginning farmers, and ease regulations on producers. “When you step away from the social nutrition policy much of this is a refinement of the 2014 farm bill. So we’re not reinventing the wheel. That makes it dramatically simpler,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a former chairman of the committee. “Most folks are generally satisfied with the fundamentals of the farm safety net.”” The final lines of the article are “The House measure also would cut funding for land conservation programs long championed by Democrats, prompting criticism from environmental groups. At the same time, it contains a proposal backed by pesticide manufacturers such as the Dow Chemical Company that would streamline the process for approving pesticides by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to skip reviews required under the Endangered Species Act.” Analysis finds various continuous coverage of the impact of pesticide use, in conjunction with rural gentrification (the 21stcentury’s version of the burbs) on insect population as well as those dependent on insects (like birds, aquatic life, amphibians, etc. and humans!). Just a few (from many available): from The Guardian (Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say, 2-14-18) “Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.” Burb bug zappers and Raid aside, have you seen a lot of bugs around outdoor lights at night? Or on your windshield? And from Wired (Not Just Bees: Controversial Pesticides Linked to Bird Declines, 7-9-14) “As neonicotinoid levels rose in streams, lakes and wetlands, populations of insect-eating birds declined. The pesticides appear to have eliminated the insects on which they rely. … There they can poison aquatic invertebrates or be absorbed by plants, eventually harming plant-eating insects.”  Along with Rachel Carson, the lead of the farm bill story has also been buried.

Inured To Work

March 20, 2018

In his final year in office Governor John Kasich has befuddled political news aficionados by actively promoting the consolidation of Ohio’s Department of Education with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Training (House Bill 512). He has denigrated the independence of the Education Department and called for control of education to be within the purview of the governor. Since he is in his final year, and his children are likewise in the last of their K-12 education, what is the intention or rationale behind such an aggressive position? Adrian Ma, reporting for WOSU, headlined Ohio School Board Opposes Education Consolidation Bill (3-14-18). “Members of the Ohio Board of Education [which the Governor dissed in his promotion] have approved a resolution speaking out against a bill being considered in the General Assembly.” “Both the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT) released statements in opposition to the bill Wednesday.” “Speaking to the Board of Education, OEA Vice President Scott DiMauro said even though the bill’s intent is to consolidate to improve collaboration between the agencies, but K-12 officials have to collaborate with more than just higher education and workforce development. DiMauro said they also have to work with local districts, the state Medicaid office, mental healthcare and addiction specialists and many more.” 3-19-18 The Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell headlined Computers are now grading essays on Ohio’s state tests. “No, not just all those fill-in-the bubble multiple choice questions. The longer answers and essays too. After Ohio started using American Institutes for Research in 2015 to provide and score state tests, Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs have increasingly taken over grading. Computers are now scoring the entire test for about 75 percent of Ohio students, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria and state testing official Brian Roget told the state school board recently. The other 25 percent are scored by people to help verify the computer’s work.” “According to the department, some students copied large portions of the questions or of the passages that they had to read into their answers.  That led the computer to give them zeroes on the question – either as apparent plagiarism or simply because the student offered little original thought in the answer. That’s a sticky point because the tests ask students to show what parts of the passage led them to their answer.” “The most clear guidance so far: An update this month of all the ways students can earn a zero on a question. “A score of zero also is earned when there is a significant amount of text copied directly from the prompt and/or reading passage, with little to no original writing from the student,” that new guide states. “Copying limited text from the prompt is allowable but, as a rule, at least 30 percent of a response needs to be original to demonstrate understanding and earn points.”” Analysis can’t help but ask how the AI program determines writing to be original (since AI is based on data in/data out, that is past examples of “writing” determine the algorithm)? Wiki gives “In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.” Fair or unfair? We’ve all become captive to algorithm solving our problems, taken this to be “naturally” equitable. Is it? Speaking with Harry Shearer (Le Show, 11-26-17) Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons Of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy, explained how they are really rather biased, depending on how the plan is put together. Analysis would liken this to be analogous to routing a road map to a given destination by various sources – AAA, Google, Travel and Tourism Bureau, etc. Speaking with Guy Raz on the TED Radio Hour (1-26-18) she elaborated: “I mean, look – it’s really important to understand the difference between accuracy and fairness. So it used to be that life insurance companies made black men pay more for life insurance than white men simply because they were going to die sooner. That lasted for a long time before the regulators in question were like – wait a second – that’s racist. And it’s racist because we have to ask the question why. Why are black men living less than white men? And is that their fault that they should take responsibility for and they should pay for, or is that a problem that society itself should take on and fix? So it wasn’t an inaccurate fact that black men lived less time. But the question was, how should we deal with that? And that’s a question of fairness, and it’s a question that we all have to grapple with together. And many of these questions are of that nature. So yes, it’s true that people who live in this ZIP code are more likely to default on their debt. Does that mean we don’t loan them any money, or do we make a rule that people of this age who have a job, who finish college or whatever – what do we decide is fair? And that’s a really hard question. Data science has done nothing to address that question.” “This is Roger Ailes. He founded Fox News in 1996. More than 20 women complained about sexual harassment. They said they weren’t allowed to succeed at Fox News. He was ousted last year, but we’ve seen recently that the problems have persisted. That begs the question, what should Fox News do to turn over another leaf? Well, what if they replaced their hiring process with a machine learning algorithm? That sounds good. Right? Think about it. The data – what would the data be? A reasonable choice would be the last 21 years of applications to Fox News – reasonable. What about the definition of success? Reasonable choice would be – well, who’s successful at Fox News? I guess someone who, say, stayed there for four years and was promoted at least once – sounds reasonable. And then the algorithm would be trained. It would be trained to look for people to learn what led to success. What kind of applications historically led to success by that definition? Now think about what would happen if we applied that to a current pool of applicants. It would filter out women because they do not look like people who were successful in the past. Algorithms don’t make things fair if you just blithely, blindly apply algorithms. They don’t make things fair. They repeat our past practices, our patterns. They automate the status quo. That would be great if we had a perfect world, but we don’t. And I’ll add that most companies don’t have embarrassing lawsuits. But the data scientists in those companies are told to follow the data, to focus on accuracy. Think about what that means. Because we all have bias, it means they could be codifying sexism or any other kind of bigotry.” Which brings us back to the lame duck Governor enthusiastically promoting consolidating the Department of Education into the governor’s Office of Workforce Training, although his children (and grandchildren) will be unaffected. In A People’s History of the United States (pg. 73-74) Howard Zinn writes: “The philosophy of the Declaration [of Independence], that government is set up by the people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown when it no longer does that, is often traced to the ideas of John Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government. That was published in England in 1689, when the English were rebelling against tyrannical kings and setting up parliamentary government. The Declaration, like Locke’s Second Treatise, talked about government and political rights, but ignored the existing inequalities in property. And how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth? Locke himself was a wealthy man… As adviser to the Carolinas, he had suggested a government of slave owners run by forty wealthy land barons. Locke’s statement of people’s government was in support of a revolution in England for the free development of mercantile capitalism at home and abroad. Locke himself regretted that the labor of poor children “is generally lost to the public till they are twelve or fourteen years old” and suggested that all children over three, of families on relief, should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy… inured to work.”’

Arbitrary Notions About How Much Things ‘Should’ Cost

February 16, 2018

“The more books I read the more passionately I embraced the truth that widespread human well-being demands a system that clearly defines and protects private property rights, allows people to speak freely without intimidation or legal repercussions, refrains from interference with private parties’ agreements and exchanges, and allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” (Charles Koch from 2015 Good Profit found as mission statement on Charles Koch Foundation website) Remember the Constitutional Convention to Balance the Budget initiative promoted by Ohio’s governor and other GOP leaders? Of course you don’t after the GOP’s tax cuts of December 2017 followed by the national budget just recently passed. Both covered the “deficit” in manure and kept it in the dark so it could mushroom. But back then “One of the two main groups pushing an Article V convention is the Convention of States, a project by Citizens for Self-Government, a nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors and has a variety of connections to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist brothers whose eponymous company is one of the country’s worst polluters and who have become synonymous with both overt and covert political spending in pursuit of limited government. Another nonprofit supporting the movement is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism” that brings corporations and lawmakers together to draft model legislation that is then introduced in the states. ALEC doesn’t disclose its members, although the group’s opposition to climate change measures, gun control and voting rights has led to a recent exodus of member corporations and lawmakers.” (The Koch Brothers Want To Rewrite The Constitution Josh Keefe, International Business Times, 6-14-17) Locally ALEC’s agenda is heavily prevalent at Licking County GOP Commissioner Tim Bubb’s radio station. More on that later. All of these folk are elbowing each other to be in the driver seat of the Right To Work (but can’t get there because of lack of public transportation) bus. GOP state legislators “John Becker and Craig Riedel have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that would limit how unions are funded, ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects and eliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects.” “Their proposed constitutional amendments:

Private-sector right-to-work: Eliminates requirement employees pay fair share dues. Employees would have to opt in to pay dues.

Public-sector right-to-work: Eliminates fair share dues for public sector unions.

Prevailing wage: Repeals Ohio’s prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum hourly wages and benefits for skilled workers on certain projects. A standalone bill on this issue has not advanced in the Ohio Senate.

Dues withholding: Prohibits state and local government employers from withholding union dues or fees from workers’ wages. Unions could not spend dues on political activities without workers’ consent.

Project Labor Agreements: Bans state and local government entities from requiring project bidders or contractors to enter into project labor agreements, which are pre-hire agreements that set timelines for project completion and methods for resolving disputes, among other terms. A standalone bill was introduced during the last legislative session but did not pass.

Union recertification: Requires annual “recertification” where workers vote to renew public collective bargaining units.” (Right to work’ could be on the ballot in Ohio with support from lawmakers 1-23-18, Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com) Another tactic of the Koch ALEC coalition is the promotion and legitimization of parallel or multiple unions which can be “funded” variously (by foundations such as Chuck and Dave’s), and offer lower health care premiums, retirement, etc. (so laborer’s can have “choice”). Of course they also dilute any kind of worker negotiating capacity. All of which begs the question of why? Why, in a free market, is it so outrageous for labor to negotiate what it has to offer and contribute in return for an agreed upon wage?  “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” Maybe the GOP County Commissioner’s radio station could inform us as to the answer. In addition to school closings plus hogs and frogs reports, the service is underwritten by a plethora of advertisers. Vying for first and second position are not big box food stores and car dealers (remember public transportation?), but rather gun dealers and jobs creators – and we ain’t talking about temp services which were number one years ago. The jobs creators, the lions and kings of the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! economy are now neck and neck with multiple gun dealerships, from feed stores to boutique “we aim to please” specialty shops (no bumps in price here). And the jobs creators aren’t advertising their products or services. They are looking for employees to fill positions right now. Analysis finds this unprecedented scale of help wanted advertising to be indicative of a wide spread lack, a need. For them to be profitable requires someone to tote that barge, lift that bale. “The Art of the Deal” isn’t required reading to recognize that when it comes to negotiating, admissions of lack, of need, are a vulnerability. One solution for a business to set the price (wages) while maintaining hegemony in negotiating working conditions and benefits (if any) is to eliminate collective representation. Collective representation is the only way that “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” of actual labor costs.

Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

February 12, 2018

Remember Governor Kasich’s 20 million dollar solution to Ohio’s opioid epidemic? Of course you do. Spring of 2017 Ohio’s presidential wannabee offered a high tech solution to the epidemic. He put money down, no, not separately in the budget but by offering $20 mil in Ohio Third Frontier Funding to innovators who come up with high tech solutions. This was touted as a win-win for Ohio. The opioid addiction scourge would be addressed while Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! would be provided through the entrepreneurial endeavors of Ohio based new technology providers. Well, back in December of 2017 $10 mil in winners were announced. One winner was Elysium Therapeutics. “It is developing a new kind of pill that would limit how much of the painkilling substance would be released into the body.” “Other projects that got state money include programs that use analytics to identify and prevent addiction, other types of pain management devices, and a web-based service that can streamline recovery services.” (Ohio Awards $10 Million For New Technology Projects To Fight Addiction By Andy Chow for WKSU,12-7-17) . This week Analysis noted a story out of Cleveland. Various reports but Analysis will reference “Cost of methadone treatment skyrockets leaving local treatment center to scramble for funding” by Brenda Cain for Cleveland.com, 2-7-18. “The price of methadone is skyrocketing — from $1 per dose to more than $14 per dose — at one local addiction clinic. Funding for the drug, which interrupts the symptoms of withdraw in recovering addicts, has run out, leaving the agency to scramble for options for its patients.” “Community Action Against Addiction (CAAA), one of two nonprofit suppliers of the drug in the region, told cleveland.com on this week that the abrupt price hike is the result of a loss of funding.” “Clinical Director Mary Bazie said the agency has stopped accepting new clients, unless they are covered by insurance or can self-pay. CAAA has a team of caseworkers helping existing clients, many of whom have low incomes, find other ways to pay for their medication. “Treatment saves lives and we have no intention of just pricing people out of their medications without trying to find alternatives for them,” Bazie said. The agency dispenses an average of 570 doses of methadone every day. Methadone is used to treat heroin abusers and people who have become addicted to opioid-based painkillers. The drug interrupts the symptoms of physical withdrawal from drug abuse. In an email, received Thursday, CAAA Chief Executive Officer Gladys Hall clarified that the potential price hike is not an increase in cost for the methadone, itself, but rather for the entire treatment process — which includes: a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone; random monthly drug testing, medication monitoring, medical consultation, initial physical examination, annual follow-up physical examination, annual tuberculosis test, individual and group counseling, as well as Narcan training and education.” The funding loss was through the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS (who of course gets their funding through other public sources). “Those affected by the price increase included the working poor who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid and patients who have allowed their Medicaid coverage to lapse, or have shifted to Medicare, which doesn’t cover addiction medication.” Analysis can’t help but note that the Ohio Governor’s magnanimous solution is not one the governor or state would take with regard to the current flu epidemic. The win-win solution proffered by the Governor is characteristic of a perpetual motion machine solution to social problems continuously promoted by the GOP – whether Kasich or Trump GOP matters little. This mechanism prioritizes any opportunity to create wealth in the midst of dire public need. One of the oldest proven methods for recovering addicts to function as productive members of their community is jeopardized by the Pollyanna precedence of making lemonade out of lemons.