Posts Tagged ‘ALEC’

Is Home Rule Homeless?

June 19, 2017

The recent news out of the Ohio legislature is the bait and switch (again) of the local government fund to balance the state budget. Jackie Borchardt, for Cleveland.com (6-16-17), headlines Ohio Budget Pulls $35 Million from Cities to Spend on Opioid Crisis. “Combined with a provision to give money to villages and townships, the budget halves the state’s local government revenue stream directed to the 614 of Ohio’s 940 municipalities that levy an income tax. Cities, counties, villages and townships were already anticipating an $89 million hit over two years because of declining state revenues.” Essentially, in exchange for agreeing to levy income tax on their residents (and guest workers) cities were promised a chunk of the state funding (“Senate GOP spokesman John Fortney said the city-specific funding is a “bonus payment” that would be better spent on treatment programs for people addicted to opiates”) Borchardt provides background perspective: “The fund was established in 1934 in a deal with local governments to create the state sales tax. When the state began collecting personal income tax in 1972, the legislature agreed to give a share to municipalities because the new state tax would make it more difficult to raise local taxes.” “In 2011, Kasich slashed the local government fund in half to help patch an $8 billion budget hole. The fund went from 3.68 percent of the state’s general revenue fund in 2011 to 1.66 percent today. The last state budget diverted $17 million from the city-specific funding stream to pay for statewide law enforcement office training and a state database tracking shootings involving officers. It also temporarily redirected about $24 million to townships and villages.” Reporting for the State House News service (6-14-17) Andy Chow headlines Local Government Group Criticizes Latest Budget Proposal. “Local governments are likely to see a loss of $150 million in funding from just the local government fund distribution and projects. The Ohio Municipal League’s Kent Scarrett says there are a lot of seemingly small changes in the Senate budget bill that could result in big cuts.” Unrelated, but certainly intimately connected and very relevant to the state legislature budgeting process is the continued legal struggle over Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law. 6-15-17 Robert Higgs updates the situation with National Coalition Joins Cleveland Fight to Save Fannie Lewis Law (Cleveland.com). “Named for the longtime Cleveland Councilwoman Fannie Lewis, the city ordinance was enacted more than a decade ago to help combat poverty and to ensure that residents participate in the city’s economic development – and share in its prosperity.” “The Fannie Lewis law requires that on projects of $100,000 or more, at least 20 percent of construction hours be performed by Cleveland residents. At least 4 percent of that work must be done by residents considered to be low-income. Failure to meet the requirements results in a fine equal to 1/8 of 1 percent of the total contract cost for each percentage by which the contractor misses the goal.” “A year ago the Ohio General Assembly approved a bill that would have barred cities from enacting local hiring regulations in contracts for public improvements as Cleveland’s Fannie Lewis law does. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law last May. Cleveland sued the state last August, shortly before the law was to take effect, claiming it violated home rule powers guaranteed in the Ohio Constitution. In January, Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo issued a permanent injunction that blocks the state from ever enforcing the law. That led to the state’s appeal.” “The Campaign to Defend Local Solutions on Tuesday filed a brief in the 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals arguing in favor of the city’s position.” “”Cities across the country are under attack by overreaching state legislatures, and a preemption threat to one city is a threat to all,” Michael Alfano, campaign manager for the coalition, said in a statement. “Whether in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, or North Carolina, the rights of cities like Cleveland to enact laws that reflect community values must be defended.”” Analysis finds there to be no coincidence that one of the “national conversations” currently ongoing (after the 2016 presidential election) is over the urban/rural cultural divide. It likewise is no coincidence that cities are gerrymandered (and isolated) with Democratic party expectations by GOP dominated state legislatures (currently in the majority across most of America). Likewise, Analysis finds it no coincidence that “cities across the country” are effected by such budgeting. Remember ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) of which Ohio’s governor and legislators are members? You know, the lobbying group that offers legislative templates that legislators have copied verbatim, even forgetting to change the name of the state to their own for which they are making law. Alfano raises suspicions as to the origins of such budgeting solutions. From ALEC’s home website’s “State Budget Solutions”: “Smart budgeting is vital to a state’s financial health. The ALEC State Budget Reform Toolkit offers more than 20 policy ideas for addressing today’s shortfalls in a forthright manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks or damaging tax increases.” Newark, of course, is at one with all this. Mayor Hall chose not to involve himself with the Ohio Municipal League’s initial complaint on Governor Kasich’s original budget manipulation, and the city council prefers to constantly defer to the state on most matters, even ones that have been voted on by its citizens through a ballot initiative (think marijuana, medical as well as misdemeanor). So much for getting the roads paved any time soon (but there will be a new bridge over 16 with “Downtown” written on it, in case one is lost).

Advertisements

Why Does A City Even Bother To Make Laws?

December 7, 2016

In the 11-20-16 post (It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense) Analysis posed the rhetorical question “Why does a city make laws to begin with?” Today, Maria DeVito reports that a handful of Newark residents asked the same question, only non rhetorically. “Despite the cold and rain Tuesday morning, about a dozen protesters chanted outside the Newark Municipal Building to voice their frustration that the city will ignore the newly passed marijuana decriminalization law. Shawn Aber, a Newark resident, organized the People Have Spoken rally after learning the city will charge people under the state laws for marijuana.” “”If the people voted it in, one man should not be able to change it,” Aber said.” (Group protests Newark decision to ignore pot law, Advocate, 12-6-16). It appears the question is not so rhetorical after all, and maybe Mr. Aber is on to something that he himself is totally unaware of. Same day, the Advocate’s parent company, Gannett, reporter in Cincinnati headlines “Lawmakers want to block $15 minimum wage (Jessie Balmert 12-6-16). “Legislators want to block efforts like one from Cincinnatians for a Strong Economy to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour. Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature would prohibit cities from imposing a minimum wage that is higher than the state’s rate, which will be $8.15 next year.” “State lawmakers plan to add the prohibition to another bill: One that would prevent cities from imposing their own rules on where pet stores can purchase animals. That proposed legislation, called the Petland Bill, is a reaction to a Grove City ordinance that prevented pet stores from purchasing animals from puppy mills.” Dear reader, please recall the fracking brouhaha that resulted in the state overriding individual municipalities from enacting drilling restrictions within their communities. In the previous We’re Dealin’ post (11-27-16) Analysis found itself questioning “Which “public” will our political leaders be fighting for?” It was pointed out that the various government entities all claim to be looking out for the best interest of “the public”. Even Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb feels the sting of who gets to represent “the public” when he told LCJFS Director John Fisher “We’re looking at some loss of revenue next year courtesy of the state.” (see previous post Cleansing 12-5-16). Analysis detects a thread here that was anticipated years ago at the start of this blog but has been difficult to corroborate. Over the past decades there has been a concerted effort made to redefine how America is governed through the lobbying of ALEC (if the reader is not familiar with ALEC, Wiki American Legislative Exchange Council, then Google same). Anecdotal evidence always appeared in the form of various disparate states passing similar legislation, all modeled on wording drawn up by ALEC. Americans For Prosperity likewise found that pursuing an agenda of changing state legislature to fulfill their demands of free market and smaller government was more effective than doing it through the federal government (Some would say the outcome of the recent election confirms the effectiveness of that back door strategy). Analysis points at the plethora of ultimate state determination of everything from education (pre-K through grad school), economic development, employment, etc. to health, marijuana, minimum wage, children’s services and puppy sourcing. This is done not only through economic incentives/prohibitions (taxes, cuts in funding) but also in the legislative creation and enactment of law. Why does a city even bother to make laws?

The Very Public-ness Of Democracy

November 11, 2014

“It’s the economy, stupid.” was the issue of elections in the 1990’s. No matter boom or bust, this has carried through as the case until the recent US Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling. Since that decision, the focus has shifted widely, unpredictably and spasmodically. What is “the issue” is no longer being determined consensually.

The recent election, with its record low turn out and high stakes implications, was also the first post Citizens United mature exercise of money as speech. It was notably marked by a significant absence of any central consensual issue. It certainly wasn’t the economy, or national security, or jobs. Analysis finds that “non issue” was the predominant characteristic of the recent mid term election. This disparate but central (and ever present) “non issue” was primarily created and driven by the machinations made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling.

Analysis reveals various materializations from this recent “non issue” exercise in democracy. Labor (organizations and unions), the great bug-a-boo equalizer of the pro Citizen United argument, played a practically non existent role within the non issue midterm election. This is (and was only obviously) to be expected. It is impossible and illogical to believe that those whose labor exists solely to benefit and produce wealth for business ownership could ever “outspend” ownership itself. The NFL Player’s Association can never outspend the NFL owners who ultimately make union funding possible. Money, as speech, pretty much pre determines who is speaking (and being heard) now. Much of the ALEC driven legislation that fostered the candidacy and issues meant to undermine and eliminate labor organizations, public or private, was and is central to the recent election outcome (like right to work legislation). Why are organized employees such a threat to business ownership and its associations? Analysis finds that, with money legitimated as speech and the creation/predominance of “non issues” within the publicly accessible but privately owned media of recent elections, compelling reasons emerge. Organizations such as the AARP, NRA, or NAACP, etc. usually involve the exercise of free speech and communication within the organization itself (as well as outside). Newsletters and internal communiqués function to relay, reproduce and reinforce information and outlooks critical to the maintenance of the members’ interest. By eliminating employee based organizations, owners eliminate this communication, this exercise of free speech. Individual teachers, bus drivers, EMT’s, laborers, electricians, etc. become cut off from any speech or communication regarding their particular interests and needs. Employees become totally subservient to whatever issues are created, determined and broadcast by privately owned media. As recently witnessed by the “non issue” election, their genuine interests and needs will not be communicated at all.

Analysis articulates this degradation of democracy with its sibling, the emphasis on restricting access to the ballot box through personal ID requirements. Privately, within the sphere of what is today taken as essential social exchange (communication), an email address is a given presumption. Yet obtaining an email address is not a given. Without an ISP or some form of mobile communication service contract, an email account is not. Be it for reasons of super cookies or just plain old advertising mailing list, account providers (owners) need to know how to keep track of (and be able to contact) the account holder. The same applies for anyone entering the rolls of verifiable electorate. From there it is only a hop and a skip to requiring that the voter’s official ID be regularly “updated and stay current”. Given the Freedom of Information Act and the wonders of computer programming, exclusive and customized communication access to potential voters (customers) is virtually guaranteed. As the recent election just showed, with money as speech, “non issues” can readily be communicated as not only essential but central to upcoming elections. Without access to any alternate communication that is not privately owned (and determined by sale to the highest bidder), election results can be more easily managed by those with the most money. Analysis finds the image of an electorate having its heads bent, preoccupied by smart phones or tablets, totally absorbed within their own private “personal” communications to be rather derogatory of the very public-ness of democracy.