Sunday, November 30, 2008

County Hearings on 2009 Budget

  • Wed., Dec. 3, 2008 at 6:30 PM
    Drake Center, Rooms F & G, Level A, West Pavilion,
    151 West Galbraith RoadCincinnati, Ohio 45216-1096

  • Wed., Dec. 10, 2008 at 6:30 PM
    Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
    3520 Central ParkwayCincinnati, Ohio 45223-2690
    (no room number given)

Will they do it again? Only last year, our liberal, democrat Hamilton County Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper imposed without a public vote a 1/2 cent sales tax increase. In his 2008 COAST candidate questionnaire, Todd Portune says he might do it again.

On Wednesday, December 3 and Wednesday, December 10, the Commission is holding public hearings on its 2009 Budget. The budget contains millions of wasteful spending, and evidence that our elected officials stubbornly refuse to reform County government.

They claim they don't have enough money for Sheriff's deputies or housing inmates, but in the past two years they have found $4 million in entirely new spending for Convention Center promotions, $75,000 for the Film Commission (and David Pepper's former girlfriend), and $26,000 for Planned Parenthood. Indeed, the Commissioners have nine employees on their staff. They are not cutting a single one of these positions as a part of the so-called deep cuts. Clearly safety is not their priority.

Please plan on attending these two public hearings and tell our Commissioners a tax increase now or in the future is unacceptable and that their mis-spending surely is setting us up for such a fall.

Here are the points COAST asks you to make at these hearings:

  1. They did it to us once before and are surely setting us up for it again -- another unvoted sales tax increase.

  2. Instead, they should reform County government operations, thoroughly and promptly.

  3. The Commissioners have stated and it is a general community consensus that public safety is a top priority. If this is so, then why has the County Administrator, hired and paid by our two democrat County Commissioners, established budget prioritization that places clearly lower-priority items below Sheriff patrols and incarcerating inmates? These include:

    a. Two decades ago, when the County population was 50% higher than it was today, the three County Commissioners had a total of one staffer between them. Today, that number is nine. How many positions are the Commissioners cutting from this bloated staff in the face of this crisis shortfall? Not one. Not a single solitary one. In fact, they have increased this line item of expenditure 2% in 2009. My goodness, even the County's Clerk has her own assistant!

    b. In 2007, upon the election of this current Commission majority, the County began a new policy of spending millions of new dollars on convention center promotion, a clear non-priority item. Admittedly this is in a segregated fund that can't be spent on safety, but we have repeatedly asked the Commission to seek state authorization to spend this windfall on our community's #1 priority, and the Commissioners refuse to even ask for that authorization. This coming year, that number will exceed $2 million of either wasted or certainly non-priority spending. In the face of the threat "people will die," this is utterly irresponsible on the part of our Commission. This income stream will generate an estimated $84 million over the life of the convention center tax.

    c. The Sheriff is sitting on more than $3 million in drug forfeiture funds. He claims these cannot be converted to public safety uses, but this is not completely true. First, $800,000 can be spent in any manner he likes., Second, the remaining funds can be "must be used to finance that office's law enforcement efforts relative to drug offenses." Thus, these monies could be completely converted to alleviating the patrol layoffs and the closing of Queensgate. Instead, the Sheriff spends these funds on his Bagpipe brigade, coloring books, donations to the Boy Scouts and teddy bears.

    d. The County has identified that it can achieve $250,000 in savings from combining and competitively bidding vehicle maintenance and yet it steadfastly refuses to implement this cost savings. In the face of the threat that "people will die," how can our elected officials justify ignoring this cost savings., Indeed, the Sheriff, who cries the loudest about budget cuts refuses to implement this simple reform.

    e. This Commission has gutted the managed competition commission empanelled by the prior County Commission. The Chairman resigns and a new chairman was never appointed. The notion that savings will emerge on their own is ludicrous, and this Commission has eliminated the focus on ferreting out savings from the bowels of the County. You are reaping the rewards from these poor decisions.

  4. In light of these obvious deviations from your stated priorities, and the choice to avoid reform, to state that public safety is a priority is a transparent lie. Your desire is to protect the waste and privilege that exists in this County to the detriment of the public.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

COAST Rallies Against New City Trash Tax

Please join us this Wednesday, November 26 at 1 PM on the inner steps of City Hall

City Manager Milton Dohoney has proposed a new $20 per year fee per household for trash collection. Until now, City trash collection was paid for out of the general fund, from other taxes paid by City residents.

Please join COAST THIS Wednesday (November 26) on the inner steps of City Hall (Plum Street side) at 1:00 PM to rally against this new and unnecessary tax on City residents.

"Running out of things to tax, Cincinnati City Council now wants to tax our trash," said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. "This City, which has acted utterly irresponsibly for decades with City dollars, now wants to make its over-spending problem the problem of City taxpayers. Join us to 'Trash the Tax' this Wednesday at City Hall at 1:00 PM."

All spending items fit into one of two categories. They're either needs or wants.

There are certain things you have to have in order to be a city; police officers, fire-fighters, roads, streetlights, water, sewers, garbage collection and many others are required city services. They are basic needs.

Flowers, parks, arts and streetcars are luxuries. They're optional. You can live without them. They're very nice to have, but no matter how badly you want them, you really don't NEED them in the truest sense of that word.

A family facing budget problems who called for cutting off the water and sewer services in order to keep the cable TV would rightly be ridiculed. City Manager Dohoney's recent budget proposal is every bit as ludicrous as that.

Eliminating an entire class of police and firefighter recruits in order to continue funding bike trails and global warming measures is the height of irresponsibility. Mr. Dohoney is grinding the seed-corn of the city.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pepper and Portune vote to fund Planned Parenthood

"Change in political climate" opens tax floodgates to abortion provider

In a move that is as much tragic as predictable, Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper have reversed more than a decade of County policy in allowing county monies and monies flowing through its Family and Children's First Council to flow to Planned Parenthood.
On October 20, the Commission voted to approve a $26,225 contract between the County and Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Ohio. A copy of the resolution is here. Commissioner Pat DeWine was alone in voting against this contract. Indeed, the grant was for services to patients with an "undocumented immigration status," meaning illegal aliens.
Terribly, this decision to fund Planned Parenthood is not intended to be an isolated occurrence. Rather, as the March 13, 2008 minutes of the Family & Children First Council show here, "Since the political climate has changed" (i.e., a new pro-abortion majority on the Commission), the Family and Children First Council voted to include Planned Parenthood as a "full member of the Child and Family Health Services Consortium and a subgrantee of the Council." This means it is now eligible for grants from the agency.

Commissioner DeWine has introduced a resolution that will work to reverse this new policy.

Super-Sized Jail Tax opponents faired well at ballot box

The two public officials who were among the most vocal opponents of the Todd Portune-David Pepper Super-Sized Jail Tax in 2007, Commissioner Pat DeWine and Treasurer Rob Goering , excelled at the polls Tuesday, leading Republicans in vote totals, while those who stayed on the sidelines struggled.

Of all the contested judicial races, jail tax opponent hero Pat DeWine led, pulling 58% of the vote. Similarly, Treasurer Rob Goering won re-election with 54% of the vote. Both performances were well ahead of contested races for Clerk of Courts and Recorder in which the Republican candidates garnered 50.4 and 51.3% of the vote respectively.

“Standing tall against the outrageous and Super-Sized Jail Tax was not only the right thing to do,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd, “it was also recognized and ultimately rewarded by the voters.”

COAST had strongly endorsed and campaigned for DeWine and Goering in appreciation of their principled stands against the Super-Sized Jail Tax. In contrast, Commissioner Todd Portune took his own campaign funds to air commercials opposing both DeWine and Goering. Thus, the voters' verdict was further repudiation of the ruinous Portune agenda for Hamilton County.

In an historically ignoble act, on May 30, 2007, Todd Portune and David Pepper imposed on Hamilton County citizens a ½ cent sales tax without a vote of the people only six months after a much smaller tax had been rejected by the voters. At that time, Portune acknowledged he had done so because the voters would likely reject the gluttony if placed before them.

The now-legendary WeDemandAVote.Com alliance, headed by NAACP, COAST, Cincinnati Progressive Action, the Libertarian Party and the Green Party, mobilized 435 volunteers to collect 56,000 signatures in 40 days to place the issue before the voters. In November of 2007, the Super-Sized Jail Tax was rejected by 56% of Hamilton County voters, thus completely snubbing the failed Pepper-Portune plan.

"Despite the cynical actions of Portune attempting to undermine these courageous leaders," said Gloyd, "they instead thrived under voter scrutiny precisely due to their honest leadership on this issue critical to our community's future."

Democrats take control of Ohio House

After sixteen years of increasing taxes and spending under Governors Voinovich and Taft, and two more years of ineffectual leadership against the agenda of Ted Strickland, Republican control of the Ohio House of Representatives ended on election day 2008.

House Republican leadership most recently angered conservatives by passing funding for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, refusing even to allow a vote on State Representative Tom Brinkman’s amendment to strip the funding.

“Good riddance,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “After more than a decade of deafness on the tax and spending issue under Speakers Larry Householder and Jon Husted they finally got their comeuppance. Our preference would have been for them to reform their ways and hold true to Republican principles, but alas it was not to be.”

Read the Cleveland Plain Dealer story on the hostile takeover here.

"It’s not that the democrats will do any better on taxes and spending,” said Gloyd. “It’s just that they cannot do any worse.”

COAST did not endorse any House Democrat candidates in this year’s election.

Tax-and-spend "Republican" Lovitt loses to Democrat Pillich for 28th House district

Partners in taxing and spending -- Lovitt and Gov. Strickland

The formerly safe Republican seat of Jim Raussen fell into democrat hands election night, with democrat Connie Pillich out-polling tax-and-spend Republican Virg Lovitt 54% to 46%. This loss contributed to the Republicans’ historic loss of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2008.

In July of this year, three-term representative Jim Raussen abruptly left his constituents in the 28th House District to accept a newly-created $115,000 per year job at the Ohio Department of Insurance. Governor Strickland created the position to create a vacancy in the Raussen seat, and make it easier for a democrat to seize the seat. The district, which includes Arlington Heights, Blue Ash, Evendale, Fairfield, Forest Park, Glendale, Lincoln Heights, Lockland, has historically seen tough-fought contests. However, Raussen succeeded in holding the seat for six consecutive years.

“We felt from the very beginning that Virg Lovitt was not the correct pick to run for the seat,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “He was cut right from the tax-and-spend cloth of Jean Schmidt and Bob Taft, and his constituents would have suffered with his election.” In a strange display of Party loyalty, Lovitt endorsed for re-election to his County Commission seat liberal, big-taxing democrat Todd Portune.

After Raussen’s resignation, the Hamilton County Republican Party had a choice between Lovitt, 12-year Mayor of Sharonville with a long record of supporting wasteful spending projects and higher taxes and other candidates with records as fiscal conservatives. The Party chose Lovitt. Lovitt’s tax-hiking credentials are legendary. For example, the web site Republicans for Higher Taxes, gave him its “Tax Hiker of the Year” Award for 2008, citing his support for the Super-Sized Jail Tax, a 50% hike in the Sharonville Income Tax, huge increases in the Sharonville Hotel-Motel tax, and his support of Bob Taft’s wasteful 3rd Frontier Initiative.

The message to Republican headquarters is not only that it is wrong as a matter of policy to promote those who have shown distain for the core Republican values,” said Gloyd, “but also that they can’t win tough elections.”

Lovitt’s performance trailed Raussen’s 2006 numbers in the same district against the same opponent by a full ten percentage points.

As campaign faltered, McCain decried Republican spending excesses

Republican spending excesses under President Bush were a lead anchor that helped to drag the McCain-Palin ticket to defeat in November. Read here how even John McCain acknowledged this reality as he struggled to live down the Bush legacy during Campaign 2008. Read the Enquirer story that tells us the same thing here.

“Every two years,” said Jason Gloyd, “our national and state Republicans come home to spending discipline, as they realize that the voters demand fiscal responsibility.” And then as soon as they are sworn in, they seem to forget this cold reality. Sadly for McCain, the Party realized the errors of its ways far too late.”

By November 4, the brand identity of Republicans being the Party of limited government had been squandered and the call to action based upon fiscal prudence finally fell upon deaf ears of the electorate.

“The can of whoop ass that the democrats opened up on Republicans nationwide,” said Gloyd, “was a richly-deserved and long overdue rebuke of the GOP’s wanton abandonment of any semblance of fiscal discipline. In short, as a Party we got exactly what we deserved for not learning anything from our previous defeats!"

COAST posits that the only remaining question is whether any of these GOP leaders were listening. We have not seen any evidence that they were.

Cincinnati Public Schools pays employees too much

State audit blasts bloated salary structure


A state audit released in October says Cincinnati Public Schools pays its employees more than those in comparable school districts or at companies in the Cincinnati region. Read the full article here. Read the full state audit here.

Also, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in October that teachers accused of mis-conduct are placed on unnecessarily long assignments in a science warehouse in Walnut Hills, while accusations against them are being investigated. Read that story here.

Finally, COAST reminds its readers that property owners in Cincinnati, Silverton, Amberly Village and Cheviot will be receiving an overall increase in their tax property bills of 14% in December, and a whopping 23% increase in the school portion due to a 7.89 mill tax increase passed in March of this year.

“We suppose the bureaucrats will deny that there is a connection between the wasteful spending patterns of CPS and the massive tax increase imposed this year,” said COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd. “Yet, the consequences of their reckless handling of the tax dollars which with they have been entrusted is obvious. CPS voters are getting the performance they deserve by electing irresponsible Board members and voting in favor of giving them more money to waste.”

Red Light Camera ban passes

Second win for WeDemandAVote.Com coalition

Cincinnati voters on November 4 passed a ban on use of red light and speeding cameras. The amendment to the City Charter - a first in the nation - prevents City Council from enacting the odious revenue-generating scheme implemented in cities across the nation.

The initiative was the idea of WeDemandAVote.Com partner Christopher Smitherman and the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, which announced the initiative in January. Soon, other WeDemand partners joined in, including COAST, the Libertarian Party, and the Green Party. We were also joined by new supporters, including the Hamilton County Republican Party, Commission candidates Ed Rothenberg and Greg Hartmann, Congressional candidates Victoria Wulsin and David Krikorian, Councilmember Chris Monzel and former Councilmember Charlie Winburn.

The ban on red light cameras not only prevents the City from needlessly harassing thousands of motorists per year, but it deprives the City of millions in planned revenue. Cincinnati motorist will be spared tremendous new intrusions into civil liberties suffered by motorists in cities in which the cameras have been implemented. The win is the second in two years for the left-right coalition, having defeated the Portune-Pepper Super-Sized Jail Tax in 2007.

"We are proud of our continuing partnership on issues of limiting the power and scope of government with the NAACP, the Greens and the Libertarians," said Jason Gloyd. "We have a good relationship going that we want to continue into the future." The WeDemandAVote.Com partnership is actively exploring new ideas for issues to promote in 2009.

COASTer leads defeat of Fairfield School Levy

Committed COASTer Arnie Engel, a member of the Fairfield Board of Education, led forces opposed to the Fairfield School Levy on the November ballot, a five-year 2-mill permanent improvement levy. Opponents knocked down the levy by 52% of the vote on election day. The tax would have generated an estimated $2.7 million. Engel contends the school district wastes money, primarily on inflated teacher salaries. Engel's efforts were so successful, the Board has also decided not to pursue a tax increase on the February 2009 ballot. Great work, Arnie!

COAST October Newsletter Correction

Bortz did not lead drive to repeal Cincinnati property tax rollback

COAST prides itself on the integrity of its communications, thus we hate to make mistakes. However, we did in our October edition, when addressing the City's decision not to raise property tax rates in 2008, we said: "Council members Chris Bortz and Roxanne Qualls led efforts to hike Cincinnati property taxes." Representatives of Bortz' office have contacted us and assured COAST that Mr. Bortz made no attempts to increase the property taxes this year and did not support such a proposal. COAST sincerely apologizes for the error.