Tuesday, March 01, 2005


What does it take to break out of Death Row?

Evidently not much.

Start off by making sure prison officials are tipped off. Twice. But ignore the warnings.

Follow that by hiding a 13 1/2 foot ladder made of rolled up magazines and blankets under a snow bank.

Then hoard water, candy bars, matches, and extra clothing.

Finally, make a break for it.
The two were able to scale the outdoor cage [of the Death Row complex] "because of staff complacency, gross deficiencies in supervision, decision making and policy compliance," the report said.

The two were caught when alarm bells sounded as they were climbing the prison's perimeter fences.
I guess maybe I should start paying more attention to those signs "Don't pick up Hitchhikers" signs around Mansfield.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ohio University Assistant Coach Blogs from Iraq

Last August, Ohio University Men's Assistant Basketball coach, Kevin Kuwik, was called up to serve in Iraq.

He completed his recruiting responsibilities for the Bobcats, and reported for Fort Sill, Oklahoma on October 23, 2004 for training. At that point, he began sending regular emails which have been posted to the OU website.

On December 20th, he went to Kuwait. On January 9th, he went into Iraq.

All the while, balancing his military responsibilities with his love of Bobcat basketball, routinely listening to the games on the Internet at 2:00 in the morning.

Here are a couple of excerpts. Go read the rest for yourself.
Wednesday, January 5

Hey everyone, I’m actually writing this on the 6th, at 2:12 am, as I sit on the computer cleaning up my inbox for the first time in a few days, and more importantly, get ready to tune in to Derek Scott and hear the Bobcats take on Ball State. That will make for a pretty sleepless night, but hopefully we can shake our road blues and get some momentum heading back to The Convo on Sunday.

I haven’t had an entry in a few days because we’ve been swamped – early mornings (a given with the Army) and late nights as we do all the planning and preparation for our move. I always thought moving a basketball team and its traveling party of 20-25 for a road game was a pain, but that pales in comparison to moving all our soldiers and all our equipment.

Since I last checked in, there have been plenty of adventures to go around. First off was my first sand storm on the 2nd. Although people who have been out here for a while tell me it was an easy one, the amount of sand that got in my ears and teeth and in general all over my body was quite the nuisance. I never thought I’d long for a good old Buffalo snowstorm, but at least the snow melts and becomes water and goes bye-bye!

Saturday, January 29

A great win for the Bobcats over 1st-place Bowling Green! We seemingly couldn’t get over the hump all second half but the defense really bore down over the last five minutes and we pulled it out, making four wins in our last five games. Now it’s back to my hometown to play Buffalo on Wednesday – they beat us pretty good last year in front of many of my family and friends so hopefully we can get a little payback.

The game was a good escape from what has been a very busy week for me. Obviously, the elections in Iraq are a huge story and will take place tomorrow, and Mosul is at the forefront of all that. Our unit has worked through the night the last couple nights to get all the polling sites ready and hopefully safe to vote at. But there definitely is some uncertainty here as no one knows how many people will really come out to vote. Not to mention how much violence there may be. So tomorrow probably will be one of the most memorable days of my life, one way or the other.

Wednesday, February 2

Over here, the elections went fairly well. Relatively speaking, there was a low turnout in Mosul due to all the violence and intimidation that has been going on but the numbers were considerably higher than what was expected – as a matter of fact, additional ballots had to be rushed in. One of the best stories I heard was at a polling site which had over 200 people milling around it as the polls opened but everyone was afraid to actually walk up to vote. Finally a very elderly woman had the courage to walk up and everyone else followed suit.

For our unit, despite only having been here a few weeks, we were thrown into the fire as we were responsible for emplacing over 800 concrete barriers at all the polling sites in Mosul to protect against vehicle borne explosives – a serious threat out here. Our soldiers ran all night for two consecutive nights to get the job done and it can be considered a mission well-done as there were no vehicular incidents at the polling sites. And then we had to turn around and spend two nights hauling them all back in.

Not to get preachy or sentimental but the last two days were very meaningful for me. First, I ate the first meal in the newly-opened dining facility that replaces the one destroyed by the December bombing. There was a commemorative flag that everyone there signed which will be on permanent display. Then tonight I watched “Miracle,” the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal team and its dramatic victory over the Soviet Union. I can’t say for sure how Operation Iraqi Freedom will be looked back on in history but what I do know is that the men and women that I am serving with over here, with as ordinary of backgrounds as they come, display that extraordinary resilience and dedication that makes our country what it is. And as much as I’m missing not being with the Bobcats this season, I’m gaining just as much through the chance to experience everything that I have.

So, go USA, and go BOBCATS!

Saturday, February 12

After we got this brief, we rolled out the gate and headed into town [Mosul]. The first thing that struck me was all the little kids lined up on each side of the road waving at us – definitely tugs at your heart.

Sunday, February 20

Not so fast, however – at this point it was 0700, the sun was up and we faced the unenviable task of rolling right through the best parts of Mosul (not!) with our snail-like engineer equipment. Well, thankfully we had a safe 30-minute ride back to the base (not a lot of people waving at the Americans in this part of town, however). Before I got to go to sleep, I had to sit through a 45-minute meeting, spend another half an hour coordinating events for the day, check in on the Bobcat game on the internet (not good) and finally, at 1000, I was able to sneak to my living unit and steal three hours of sleep. Just another day in Mosul.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there was joy in Mosul at about 0200 this morning as I jumped around in my living unit and probably woke up some terrorists when Jeremy Fears’ 3-pointer at the buzzer went in and Derek Scott went crazy as a short-handed Bobcat squad showed a lot of heart in coming back to beat Detroit. Just wish I could have been there for the backflip!

Have a great day – go Bobcats, beat Eastern!
The OU Bobcats are currently in a 4 way tie for second place in the MAC East with a 10-6 conference record.

As you can tell, Cpt. Kuwik is doing even better.

You can send him an email at the following address: kevin.kuwik@us.army.mil

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another Ohio Supreme Court Justice Hits the Headlines

Terrence O'Donnell is the latest Ohio Supreme Court Justice to be in the news. Seems he had $18,000 in cash stolen from his car.

"I recognize that this is very odd," O'Donnell said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "But I also recognize ... that it's my money, and I would like it back."

"It's just the oddest, most peculiar circumstance," he said. "One, that you would have that much money; two, you'd have it with you; three, that it would be on that night; and four, you'd be in that place where this would occur," he said. "I don't know what I can tell you. It's just very unsettling, as you can imagine."

He said he's kept cash at home "for a very, very, very long time."

"It's kind of the way that I operate. I have money in bank accounts, but this is another source, I guess, is all I can tell you," he said.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Congress Investigates Ohio's Provisional Ballots

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission came to Columbus today to gather information on Ohio's provisional ballots.
The panel will meet in Columbus to gather information on how provisional voting fared around the country. Voters who appear to be unregistered vote provisionally and their voter record is checked later. In Ohio, 77 percent of the 153,539 provisional ballots cast were found to be valid.
With all the voting problems in Ohio, it makes perfect sense to look into how goofed up Ohio was compared to the rest of the country, right?

Glad our government is focusing on the problem areas, right?

Coming with recommendations on how we can be more like the rest of the country, right?

Nationally, 32% of provisional ballots cast in last year's election were thrown out. Most states were using them for the first time.
Ohio's rate of invalid provisional ballots was 9% points lower than the national average.

The whole thing reminds me of the joke of the drunk searching for his lost keys under the streetlight. He lost them in a dark alley, but he can see better under the light.

No reason to look here, or here, or even here.

UPDATE: Dan Tojaki was a participant on the panel and I expect he will post something soon.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ohio Governor Candidate For Sale On EBay

Now's your chance to buy your very own Governor. Ebay bidding starts at $900.

My name is Larry Bays. I am a Republican for the working people, and I am running for Governor of Ohio. In an attempt to raise money for my campaign, I am auctioning myself off to the highest bidder. I will come to your home or business anywhere in Ohio one (1) eight-hour day each month during the first year that I am in office. I will paint, clean, any handy man job you have.

The Akron Beacon Journal says it's legal.

Carlo LoParo, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, said Bays may have found "a gray area in the law."

"While Ohio's election bribery statutes refer to offering something of value for a vote, they do not specifically address offering something of future value for a campaign contribution," LoParo said.

LoParo said Bays' auction will not violate any campaign finance laws as long as the winning bid does not exceed the $2,500 limit for an individual contribution to a campaign.

Guess that means you can Buy It Now for $2,500.

UPDATE: What is it with Ohioans and Ebay today? OSU President Karen Holbrook was also on Ebay, but they pulled her auction after bidding exceeded $10,000,000.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Ohio Vote Fraud Conviction

Remember the guy who registered the likes of Dick Tracey and Mary Poppins in return for crack cocaine? Well, he just pleaded guilty to 10 counts of false registration.
Two months after pleading not guilty to faking voter registration forms in exchange for crack cocaine, a Defiance man has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of false registration.

Chad Staton, 22, of Stratton Street appeared in Defiance County Common Pleas Court Thursday to enter pleas to the 10 counts of the fifth-degree felony. In December, a grand jury returned indictments against him for filing forms in the names of Mary Poppins, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Michael Jordan, Dick Tracy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Brett Favre, George Foreman, Maria Lopez, and George Lopez.

He faces a $2,500 fine and a year in prison for each count.

Let's hope he gets jail time. Lots of it.

An Open Letter to the Columbus Dispatch

On Sunday, a column by Dispatch editor Benjamin Marrison touted many advances of the dispatch.com website and asked for feedback. Like most columns on the Dispatch site, you need a paid subscription to access it.

That prompted this feedback:


Mr. Marrison,

I read your column in the Columbus Dispatch today commenting on your web site, dispatch.com, and asking for feedback.

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to give you some feedback.

I agree that the dispatch.com site it one of the top Ohio based newspaper sites. Obviously it is the premier site for OSU news. It also has very strong coverage of Ohio and national politics.

Recently, I have noticed the real time updates for breaking local news. Again, another step forward and a feather in your cap.

Unfortunately, most Ohioans - and non-Ohioans for that matter - will never know this. And the reason is simple. It is your policy of charging nonsubscribers to access the site and limiting access to your archive.

I run a blog at ohiovoter.blogspot.com. It was started after the November election and provides a conservative view on Ohio politics. I routinely excerpt, link, and comment on articles written in Ohio's newspapers, the Dispatch included.

Unfortunately, because most of my readers do not have a Dispatch subscription, I am often forced to link to your competitors. Even when you have superior coverage. As one example, your analysis of the distribution of voting machines in Franklin county was outstanding and of interest to many outside the state. Unfortunately, few had the chance to recognize that fact.

The Akron Beacon Journal has also started to post breaking stories on their site and I have begun to link to them. The Enquirer is also a good source that I have started to use.

I understand your need to make a profit and I have no idea how much you make on your web subscriptions versus the ad revenue from your site. However, I am writing this email so that you understand that your actions are driving readers to your competitors.

You have the writing and reporters to make the Dispatch Ohio's premier news source. Your access policy however, will not allow it.

If you don't believe me, ask your own columnist, Michael Meckler. On his blog, red-state.com, he has recently linked to articles in the Enquirer and area television stations instead of the corresponding articles in the Dispatch. I assume he did so for the same reasons I did, so my readers can have access to the original source.

The blogs are not your competitors. They can drive traffic to your site that would never visit otherwise. If you allow them.

In fact, by adding a Trackback feature that is common among blogs and is now starting to take hold on some mainstream sites, you would be able to see who is linking to your site and why. And bloggers would like it because it would also drive traffic to their sites as well. Taking this action would easily set your site apart from Ohio's other news sites.

If you truly want dispatch.com to become the premier source, I strongly encourage you to open access to your site and find other ways to make it blog-friendly. If you don't, you will have the best site no one has ever seen.

I will be posting this letter to my blog and look forward to your reply.


No Blogs at City Hall

Cincinnati City Hall has banned access to blogs. Evidently, they have been using a software program to limit access to specific sites since 2002.

But last week, the program apparently started to forbid access to any site in the blogspot.com domain - a popular place for posting web diaries called "blogs." Websense categorized them as message boards, which are forbidden on city computers.

Brendon Cull, press secretary for Mayor Charlie Luken, immediately requested - and received - permission to view two local blogs on his computer only: Brian Griffin's Cincinnati Blog (cincinnati.blogspot.com), and Nathaniel Livingston's Black Cincinnati Blog (blackcincinnati.blogspot.com). That gives Cull - and only Cull - the ability to read those sites from his city computer.

First, I can understand wanting to limit the ability to access Blogger to make posts from work. I can see how this could easily start to take productive time from city employees. I could also see that there are probably some sites that are less than "business related."

But at the same time, there are many blogs that I think would be of interest to city employees and government officials. Banning them all is overkill. I suspect that the total ban is the only technical solution to the "problem", and if you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so be it.

But it also appears, as though the press secretary - and only the press secretary - will have access to his favorate left leaning sites.
Brendon Cull, press secretary for Mayor Charlie Luken, immediately requested - and received - permission to view two local blogs on his computer only: Brian Griffin's Cincinnati Blog (cincinnati.blogspot.com), and Nathaniel Livingston's Black Cincinnati Blog (blackcincinnati.blogspot.com). That gives Cull - and only Cull - the ability to read those sites from his city computer.
This is probably more disturbing. On a couple fronts.

The obvious question is why should Cull get special access to the sites, and none of the other employees.

But the bigger question is why would Cull want access to these two blogs, but none of the other Cincinnati based ones. Is Cincy City Hall interested in hearing the voices of it's citizens - as long as they come from the left. Or even more specifically, from these two blogs. All other bloggers need not apply.

As the blogosphere continues to grow, access to blogs will give government officials insights into the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of many of their constituents that they would otherwise not have.

To ban access to them is a short sited decision. It throws away a tool that has tremendous potential in the future.

City Hall should embrace blogs, not ban them.

Hat Tip: A Face Made 4 Radio, A Voice Made 4 the Internet

Saturday, February 19, 2005

But What about the Husbands?

Michelle Malkin links to a study explaining how women who argue with their husbands are 4 times less likely to die from heart disease than those who don't argue.

LONDON - A WOMAN who keeps quiet during an argument with her husband is four times more likely to die from heart disease and other causes, according to a study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal.

Researchers believe women who argue with their husbands are warding off heart disease and other causes of death.

No word on the life expectancy of their husbands though.

More on the Ohio Use Tax

In the previous post, I explained how the Ohio Department of Taxation is going after people who bought tobacco products online without paying taxes. Technically, they should be paying an Ohio use tax on the purchase.

Knowing that all Ohio Voter readers are good, law-abiding citizens, I thought I would provide a list of sample items that are subject to the Ohio use tax if you didn't pay sales tax at the time of purchase.
  • All Internet purchases
  • All catalog orders
  • All direct sales purchases such as those Ginsu knife you called up and ordered at 2:00am in a moment of weakness
  • All out-of-state purchases made while traveling or vacationing in another state with a different state tax rate than Ohio
Luckily, being the law-abiding citizen that you are, you dutifully kept your receipts for all of the above purchases throughout the year. Unfortunately, there's still another situation you need to watch out for.
  • All purchases you made in another Ohio county with a lower sales tax rate than your resident county.
Yes, you read that correctly.

Ohio's 88 counties have 6 different sales tax rates, ranging from 6.5% to 8.0%. If you happen to live in Cuyahoga county - which has a sales tax rate of 8% - and you bought anything in another Ohio county, you need to pay the difference in the tax rate between the county you purchased the item in and your 8% rate.

I hope you kept your receipts Cleveland.

OK, so now you got to the point where you've gathered up all of your receipts from your out-of-county purchases, figured out the diffences in the tax rates and added the total to all of your other purchases listed above. You are ready to join the 1% of all Ohio taxpayers who declared any use tax last year.

You must be fine now.

Well, only if you were very careful in filling out your federal taxes too.

You see, federal law allows you to deduct state income taxes from your federal return. It does not allow you to deduct state use taxes. If you mistakenly deduct your use taxes (which are reported and paid as part of your income tax form) from your federal taxes, then the IRS can come after you with fines.

So there you have it. A quick guide to Ohio's use case tax. Have a nice day and have fun gathering your receipts.

Hat tip to Douglas L Oliver from The Buckeye Institute and his article "Ohio's Useless Tax", the source of much of this information.

Is Amazon Next?

I haven't seen this touched on yet.
The Ohio Department of Taxation wants to collect on thousands of dollars in unpaid cigarette taxes from Internet sales and plans to mail about 1,000 letters demanding payment from Ohio residents.
Evidently, the agency has already sent out 25 letters requesting $5,000 in lost taxes. They aren't saying how much more money they expect from to get from the remaining letters, but it's safe to assume they went after the biggest offenders first.

Even assuming everyone who receives a letter pays immediately and they continue to average $200 per letter, the state will pull in a total $205,000 in lost taxes. Now do you really think they're going to pay immediately. How many follow-ups will be needed? Will a lawyer have to get involved?

It doesn't take long before we spend over $200K collecting our lost taxes.

The point is clearly not the taxes. Or at least not these taxes.

The point is to generate visibility and publicity to scare Ohioans about all of their Internet purchases. It's just easier to get the list of tobacco sellers. Plus, it's always safe to pick on the smokers.

In 2001, Ohio added a line to it's tax form where Ohioans can enter a Use Tax, for any out-of-state purchases made over the Internet or through catalogs. No one heard of it then.

In a statewide survey done for ODT, nearly 86 percent of respondents had never heard of the use tax. More than 77 percent were not aware that Ohio charges tax on purchases from out-of-state catalog and internet retailers.

Commissioner Zaino said overcoming that lack of awareness is critical for both the retail industry and state and local government, "We have a lot at stake here -- thousands of retail jobs and a vital source of revenue for both local and state government services. I believe taxpayers will understand the importance of this issue and be responsive. If we can’t slow the losses, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where you’d have to raise other taxes to compensate."

That was in 2001. It's safe to say little has changed except that the lost revenue continues to grow. Nothing a little free press about the threat of lawsuits can't help.

It is a little ironic to see the Ohio Department of Taxation taking the same approach to a problem as the RIAA. I just don't know which one has the worst reputation to be hurt by the comparison.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Wrong Number

An 84-year-old Fairview Park man is facing charges of killing his neighbor's dog. Among the evidence again him are dozens of threatening phone messages left on the answering machine of of another person he called, mistakenly thinking it was his neighbor.
Dibin said she tried to tell Taips that he called the wrong person, but she says he just kept dialing, making dozens of calls over a three-month period.

In one message, Taips said, "Your damn dog woke me up 10 o'clock last night, 5 o'clock this morning. You're asking for real trouble."

In another message he said, "We have a right to sleep, understood by your dog. And you will pay for this, you (expletive)."
The man is currently undergoing a mental assessment.

I really hope they find he's not all there mentally.

Ohio Republicans, Round 2

Less than two years before Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial race and the Republican candidates are at it again.

At a 2005 Associated Press forum, the three Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidates took potshots at each other. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell started it off.
"My constitutional amendment has been maligned by people who haven't read it," he said in response to a question about Taft's budget calling for a cut to local government aid.
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro responded.
Of the 20 states with some sort of restraints in place, Petro said, "This one (Blackwell's) is probably the most gimmicky of all."
And not to be left out, State Auditor Betty Montgomery made sure to get her point in too.

Later, as Montgomery started answering the day's last question, on the state's Third Frontier technology investment program, she realized she hadn't brought up the issue of collecting on Medicaid overpayments.

"I'm going to do a Ken Blackwell for a moment and divert," she said, before making her point.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Michael Coleman was in northern Ohio talking about the importance of lower taxes and decrying a proposed introduction of parking fees at state parks.

UPDATE: The Cincinnati Enquirer has more fun quotes.
Montgomery managed to jab both of her opponents at once - noting that her office is more productive today than when Petro ran it three years ago, while also criticizing Blackwell's plan as "doing government by autopilot."

Blackwell called Montgomery's autopilot statement "foolish."

"Wait a minute, this sounds like a Jerry Springer show," Montgomery interjected.
Ohio Republicans better get the act together quickly or they will be the sideshow even after Springer enters the race.

Not a good sign, and no reason to believe the rhetoric will tone down.

From Peak to Vally in Less Than 90 Minutes

Rob Bernard tracks several posts from the official Kerry-Edwards blog from election night.

It starts at 11:15 with "My analysis of the numbers indicates Kerry will almost certainly win Ohio".

But by 12:37, "May god have mercy on all of us".

Check out the whole thing and try not not to smirk.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's a Girl

A pregnant Cincinnati woman, Sarah Brady, who fought off and killed a knife wielding attacker ealier this month gave birth to a baby girl.

Brady, laid off from a bank, became a media sensation after she killed a woman who police think was trying to steal her fetus.

"I do believe that I fought harder because it was for my child," Brady said on TV.

Commonwealth's Attorney Bill Crockett said an investigation might not be completed for several weeks, but everything appears to support Brady's statements that she killed the woman in self-defense.

We here in the Voter household are expecting our first in just over a month. It's been an amazing 8 months for both of us and we are very excited. I can't imagine any like this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It's Over

No hockey in 2005.

In Columbus, the Blue Jackets played in the new Nationwide Arena in the Arena District downtown, home of several bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.

At the start - or more accurately, the non-start - of the season, Nationwide cut the rent in half for restaurants and bars in the area.
"We thought reducing rent was the fair thing to do," Ellis said. "These restaurants have depended on and planned for Blue Jackets games - they were an important part of their business plans."
Meanwhile, John H. McConnell, owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets has refused to lay off any fulltime Blue Jacket employees.
The Blue Jackets have not laid off any workers, although around 35 people have left the franchise since last fall and have not been replaced. Still, no season means no jobs for the roughly 1,000 people who are employed by the franchise as vendors, ushers, ticket-takers, security officers and janitors at a typical game.
The impact on the local bars and restaurants, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Not far away, Stewart Miller sits in a deserted bar and wonders when the athletes, agents, owners, and league officials lost touch with the real world.

"We'll still be here next year," said Miller, who figures his bar will lose $200,000 to $300,000 because of the lockout. "I sure hope they come back and get their act together."

So do I.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ohio Sets the Trend

I know, I'm making a big deal out of nothing.

First Bar Fined for Ignoring Columbus Smoking Ban

The first bar has been fined for ignoring the Columbus smoking ban. Just didn't expect it to be 5 minutes from where I live.

I never realized we lived in such a crime infested area.

Source of Gahanna Vote Tally Error Discovered

The source of the problem causing a Gahanna voting tabulation error has been found.
The maker of Franklin County's election machines has pinpointed the error that made a laptop computer give thousands of extra votes to President Bush on election night: Just like any overworked and distracted human, the machine was trying to do too much at once.

The mistake, caught days after the election, had Bush receiving 4,258 votes in a precinct in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, where only 638 voters cast ballots. The corrected official count shows 365 votes for Bush.
The problem was a concurrency error that occurred when the computer was performing one task at the exact same time data was being downloaded from another machine.

Technicians concluded the laptop was completing another task just as numbers from that precinct were being fed into it.

"As a result, the laptop did not receive the data as fast as it was sent," said an elections board report. "Consequently, data was lost."

Danaher went further, identifying what computer bytes in the data disappeared. By feeding in data missing those bytes, technicians produced the same wrong vote total.

Another conspiracy goes down the drain.

Source of Gahanna Vote Tally Error Discovered

The source of the problem causing a Gahanna voting tabulation error has been found.
The maker of Franklin County's election machines has pinpointed the error that made a laptop computer give thousands of extra votes to President Bush on election night: Just like any overworked and distracted human, the machine was trying to do too much at once.

The mistake, caught days after the election, had Bush receiving 4,258 votes in a precinct in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, where only 638 voters cast ballots. The corrected official count shows 365 votes for Bush.
The problem was a concurrency error that occurred when the computer was performing one task at the exact same time data was being downloaded from another machine.

Technicians concluded the laptop was completing another task just as numbers from that precinct were being fed into it.

"As a result, the laptop did not receive the data as fast as it was sent," said an elections board report. "Consequently, data was lost."

Danaher went further, identifying what computer bytes in the data disappeared. By feeding in data missing those bytes, technicians produced the same wrong vote total.

Another conspiracy goes down the drain.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

$150 Million

The Dispatch is reporting that's the amount of money spent on TV ads and GOTV campaigns in Ohio during the 2004 election season.

At first glance, a new study of the 2004 presidential election tells Ohioans what they already know quite well: Their state got attention like no other.

But "The Battle for Ohio" lays out in unprecedented detail the intense struggle for votes in the Buckeye State.

One figure that leaps from the study is $100 million. That’s the total spent on TV ads in Ohio.

How big is that?

It equals the nationwide total spent by George W. Bush to win the 2000 Republican nomination — not just TV ads, but everything.

Another $50 million is estimated to have been spent on get out the vote activities such as mailings, door to door contact, phone calls, etc. Among the other statistics:

• Republicans made about 2.2 million phone calls and knocked on 339,000 doors before the final weekend of the campaign, when an additional 1.8 million calls and 761,000 home visits were made as part of the GOP’s 72 Hour Task Force.

Democrats reported about 1.3 million calls and 200,000 home visits.

• One of the Democratic Party’s liberal allies, Americans Coming Together, knocked on 3.7 million doors and made "hundreds of thousands" of telephone and mail contacts. And organized labor knocked on 2 million doors and handed out more than 6 million fliers at work sites.

• The GOP sent 3.5 million pieces of mail to Ohio voters.

Ohio has a total population of 11.4 million. On election night, 5.6 million people voted.

That means $13.15 was spent for every man, woman, and child in Ohio

If you look at those who actually cast a ballot, $28.78 was spent per voter.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Court Extends Blackwell's Deadline

Two judges have separately ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell did not have the authority to force Ohio's county election boards to choose between two optical scan voting machines.

Large metropolitan counties had protested the decree because of the ongoing expense of creating optical scan ballots. They prefer electronic voting machines. Ohio law requires electronic voting machines to keep a voter verified paper trail. Currently, not existing electronic voting machines meet the state requirements.

Voters use optical-scan machines by coloring in circles with ink or pencil, then feeding the card they've filled out into a machine that reads the votes.

But some elections officials say touch-screen machines are better because they help prevent voter error and don't require paper ballots, which will save counties thousands of dollars in printing and paper costs.

Five Ohio counties - Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lake and Portage - defied Blackwell's order and refused to select a company by the deadline.

Four of the five counties lean strongly Democratic.

If they end of using a different voting mechanism than the rest of the state, expect complaints of unfairness and comspiracy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Things Are Going to Get Ugly

I reported in mid-January that Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell decided that optical scan voting devices must be used in all of Ohio's 88 counties.

Now, Attorney General Jim Petro has stated that Blackwell doesn't have the authority to make such a decision.

The state's top elections official did not have authority to order counties to use one type of voting machine, Attorney General Jim Petro said Tuesday, a day before the deadline for counties to submit their machine choices.

"The ultimate discretion is really the county boards' and not the state and that's the law," Petro said Tuesday evening.

Blackwell's spokesman responded.
And unlike Petro's written opinion, "The secretary of state's directive carries the weight of law, and he expects that to be complied with," LoParo said.
Both Republicans are running for Ohio governor in 2006. The two have already clashed on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit Ohio's budget spending.

The jockeying for position in 2006 has begun.

These two, plus Auditor Betty Montgomery, are going to tangle many times over the next several months. It isn't going to be pretty.

I Didn't Even Know a 'State of the County' Address Existed

What do you say in an all-important State of the County address?

If you are Summit county executive Jim McCarthy, you say that your county should secede from the state of Ohio:
"I wasn't kidding when I said sometimes I think we ought to be a separate state," McCarthy told reporters after his speech. "If we can get out from underneath the onerous policies of the state of Ohio, I believe Northeast Ohio can grow on its own. We have the smartest business folk. We have the smartest political folk. We have the political will and courage to do it."
I couldn't make some of this stuff up if I tried.

Monday, February 07, 2005

One Day, Brian will Admit I'm Right about Something...

It's not often that I agree with Brian from the Cincinnati Blog, but this proposal by four Ohio Republicans goes just a tad too far, to put it mildly.
Four Republican Ohio senators have introduced an "academic bill of rights for higher education," claiming college minds are being indoctrinated by left-winged faculty.

The bill would require every state-supported college and university in Ohio to prohibit instructors and faculty members from introducing into the classroom controversial matter and coursework that has no relation to the class’s subject of study. It also calls for universities to hire, fire and promote faculty based on professors’ knowledge of their field and not on their political views.
Just goes to show neither side has a monopoly on stupid ideas.


Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick pleaded guilty to DUI in court today.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick pleaded guilty Monday to drunken driving, lost her license for six months, paid $600 in fines and will spend three days in an alcohol treatment program.

Resnick, 65, of Toledo appeared in Bowling Green Municipal Court with her husband, retired state appellate judge Melvin Resnick, and her attorney, Sheldon Wittenberg of Toledo.

In a brief statement after the court appearance, Resnick, the state's only Democrat in a statewide office, again apologized for what happened.

That was a lot quicker than I was ever expecting. Nice to see her do the right thing and get it over with.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Coleman: No Courtesy Call to Ohio Democratic Party

There was an interesting comment in an editorial by Joe Hallett of the Columbus Dispatch. As with all Dispatch links, you need a subscription to read the full article.

I posted several quotes from Democrat Michael Coleman earlier in the month, quoting various Republicans, when he announced his intent to enter the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial race. Now we learn that there were other, more subtle steps, away from the Ohio Democratic party structure.

[Jimmy] Dimora [a Cuyahoga county commissioner and chairman of Ohio's largest Democratic county party] is one of the 40 politicians, party activists, union officials and business leaders Coleman called the day before his official announcement. In a telling gesture of no-confidence, Coleman excluded Dennis L. White, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

"He’s going to have to win despite the state party," said Dimora.

Among Coleman's positions:
  • Abortion: Legal, safe, and rare.
  • Death Penalty: Supports it.
  • Gambling: Not for Columbus, no comments on Ohio at large.
  • Gay Rights: Opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions.
  • Gun Rights: Supported extending assault weapons ban and opposed Ohio's concealed-carry law.
  • Fiscal Discipline: Increased Columbus' budget by only 1.3% since 2001, while reducing city employees from 1,882 to 1,410.

Dispatch Explains Iraqi Vote Headline

Last Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch ran a front page headline of "Violence Mars Election" covering the Iraq election. This week, the paper's editor, Benjiman Marrison, agrees that it didn't capture the essence of the elections and gives a timeline explaining how the headline came about.

At 10:30 p.m. last Saturday, we had to send our first-edition pages. It’s our earliest deadline all week, necessary because we print about 100,000 more papers on Sundays than we do the other days of the week.

The Iraqi voting had not begun. The polls wouldn’t open for another half-hour. Our headline: ‘‘New hope amid fear."

The only reports out of Iraq gave thin details of the U.S. Embassy being bombed in the Green Zone in Baghdad, and of officials anxiously awaiting the polls’ opening.

At midnight, our second edition was due. By then, Iraqis had been voting for about an hour. There was some violence, but it was limited.

We stuck with the same headline. We looked for better, fresher photos, but none were available from any of the many services we subscribe to.

At 1:30 a.m., our final edition was due. There were reports of growing violence, including an explosion that killed an officer. That indicated to us that the carnage everyone had predicted was going to materialize. Live television coverage did not show people lining up to vote. Most reports were of people ‘‘trickling" into the polling places.

Democratic elections were being held, but it was impossible to know whether the turnout would be overwhelming or more akin to an off-year election in the United States.

Based on the escalating violence, we changed the headline to ‘‘Violence mars voting."

It is accurate, as violence did mar the elections. But in the end, we and the world learned, the violence was small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

We made a decision based on the facts we had, and it turned out to be a bit inflated.

For those who think the paper was purposely trying to portray the event in a negative light, he points out the headline from Monday's edition.
Proof otherwise could be found on Monday’s front page. The headline ‘‘Undeterred" captured the day. The Iraqis who voted were phenomenally brave. The sight of men and women heading to the polls, children in tow, was historic and heartwarming.
I thought Marrison's explanation and timeline was very insightful. It shows how deadlines and incomplete data can sometimes lead to headlines and stories that out of date by the time they hit the doorstep.

Newspapering is an art, not a science. Despite the best-laid plans and good intentions, the outcome isn’t always exactly what we want or you expect.

The good news is that on those infrequent occasions when we fall short, we have another shot the next day.

But Those Rulings Weren't Supposed to Apply to Supreme Court Justices...

More comments from Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick:
"My God, you know, I decide all these cases in their favor and my golly and look at what they're doing to me," Resnick is heard telling Sgt. Bill Stidham about Trooper Vilay Sayarath's description of her weaving on Interstate 75.
Shouldn't a Supreme Court Justice be considering the implications of her rulings before she makes them. She also questioned the accuracy of the unofficial BAC test that she took on the side of the road. And of course, look what they're doing to her.
But Resnick, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Ohio, can be heard commenting to Stidham on the way to the patrol's Findlay post: "I'm the only Democrat on the court and you're forcing me to retire."
To be fair, Resnick had a blood alcohol content of .216 when she made those statements. It's safe to say, she was not thinking or speaking clearly at the time.

With that said, I do think there is a hint of a feeling of "I know what's good for others but it doesn't necessarily apply to me" attitude.

A scary attitude to be held by any sitting Supreme Court Judge.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

What Super Bowl Player Reminds You of the Democrats?

Real Clear Politic's suggests that Tom Brady is the Super Bowl player that most reminds them of George Bush, and asks the following:
Now, just for the sake of fun, consider the Democrats. Which players would they represent? The answer isn't very obvious at all.
Well, for those of us in Ohio, the answer is actually pretty obvious. Consider these quotes:

From the Toledo Blade:

But he complained about playing time, about how he was being used, about the franchise's commitment to winning, and was considered a malcontent, an "I" man.

It hit rock bottom during the 2003 season when he played in just 13 games and garnered career lows in carries (138) and yards (541), then read a quote in the paper where an unnamed teammate called him "a cancer in the locker room."

From USA Today:

• He found it necessary to tell a Seattle radio station after a 4-12 record in 2000 that he "would rather flip burgers" than play for the [his former team].

He once took himself out of the game when he became frustrated by Baltimore's staunch defense, then defied coach Bruce Coslet by refusing to rejoin the huddle.

• He blew off minicamp before last season and generally was unwilling to embrace the enthusiasm new head coach brought.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
[He] made up stuff about the offensive line not wanting to block for him. He decided [his coach] was "messing" with him by asking him to talk with the media during training camp in 2003. He called [his teammate] a "bum."
The player in question? Corey Dillon, during his 7 losing seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dillon let his frustrations with losing get the best of him over and over again. He took it out on the fans, the media, and his team. He was worried about himself instead of his team, and he didn't care who he hurt to get what was important to him, regardless of the consequences.

Dillon was lucky. He could get up and go to a different, already winning team.

Kennedy, Kerry, and Boxer don't have that option.

Hockey Thoughts

Mrs. Voter and I share season tickets with a group of friends for the Columbus Blue Jackets games.

My feelings throughout the non-season...
October - Can wait a while before the season starts, wouldn't have been able to make opening night anyway. Maybe this is a good way to keep my streak alive.

November - Went down to the Arena district after work and it was pretty empty. But the Happy Hour prices were a nice change of pace.

December - Snow. Cold weather. We really should be playing hockey now.

January - Really getting the itch. Come on boys, time to settle this thing.

February - Forget it. A thirty game season isn't worth it. Start it up next year. If there isn't a contract, sign whoever is willing to play, lower the ticket prices, and show me some action.
Looks like I'm about to get my wish.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I want my HDTV

A lot of HDTV owning Columbus residents are not going to be happy come Super Sunday.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates local Fox affiliate WTTE-TV (Channel 28), is refusing to allow Time Warner and Wide Open West cable companies the right to transmit the game in highdefinition unless the companies pay Sinclair for the signal.
Luckily our HDTV has a tuner. Plug in a pair of cheap rabbit ears and we're ready to go.

What a Small World

From the Columbus Dispatch today:

A Franklin County judge yesterday declined to fine the Ohio Chamber of Commerce or order the release of any new details about its political fund raising in the unsuccessful 2000 campaign to defeat Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick.

Columbus lawyer Clifford O. Arnebeck had asked that the Ohio chamber itemize its $200,000 share of $4.2 million in contributions to a negative television ad campaign. One ad showed a justice peeking from behind a blindfold as bags of cash were dumped on her desk.

You remember Resnick, she was last seen staggering along I-75.

You also remember Arnebeck, he was last seen filing lawsuits challenging the 2004 election results.

It just makes you think the Ohio Chamber of Commerce wants to take out a big "We told you so" ad.

The Dispatch link requires a subscription.

Resnick Video: How to Drive Off from a Police Officer and Not Get Charged

Judge Alice Robie Resnick will not be charged for driving away from officers as they questioned her the first time.

Also yesterday, Mr. Reger said Justice Resnick would not face criminal charges for driving away from law enforcement officers who were questioning her about reports that she had been driving erratically on I-75 Monday afternoon.

He said the "elements were not there" to file either a charge of fleeing and eluding or failure to comply.

Justice Resnick drove off after a Bowling Green police officer and an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper approached her parked vehicle at a BP gas station on West Wooster Street, talked with her about reports she had been driving erratically, and told her she was "not free to go."

Actually, she drove off as the officers were leaning against her car, as this cruiser video from WBNS Columbus shows.

Once she did leave, officers followed and a second cruiser video shows the result.

I find it hard to believe that if this were a regular citizen that additional charges would not be filed. Who would have guessed that when a law enforcement officer says you are "not free to go" you can leave anyway.

Go ahead and try it the next time you're pulled over and let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It's Pretty Bad When...

You have to head to a bar in Columbus to get a breath of fresh air.

The Amendment of Unintended Consequences

Critics of Ohio's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage have always warned that it was overly broad and would have many unintended consequences.

The amendment passed despite widespread opposition to it from major figures on both sides of the aisle. Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was the only major Ohio Republican that supported the amendment.

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting one of those potential consequences: A Cleveland area man is claiming that Ohio's domestic violence laws does not apply to him because he is in an unmarried relationship.
Darnell Forte is accused of slapping a woman he lived with. To try to get a domestic violence charged overturned, his lawyer has raised a wider issue, claiming a conflict between Ohio's new constitutional amendment defining marriage and the state's domestic violence law.
The problem comes from the wording in Ohio's domestic violence law and the broad language of the newly passed amendment.

Ohio’s 1979 domestic violence law applies to a “spouse, a person living as a spouse, or former spouse.” This has been interpreted to include unmarried couples, including same-sex ones.

But the second sentence of the amendment, passed in November as Issue 1, reads: “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage.”

During the Issue 1 campaign, domestic violence advocates warned that this could be used to void parts of the domestic violence law.

The motions to dismiss domestic violence charges assert that the law creates a legal relationship between unmarried individuals that the state can no longer recognize under the amendment, which is now Article 15, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

At Least it's their own Money...

From the Cincinnati Enquirer...
The national Democratic Party will spend up to $500,000 to investigate voting problems that critics say might have occurred last year in the battleground state of Ohio, the party's leader said Tuesday.

"I want them to open up the machines," outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe told Gannett News Service and USA Today reporters. "If there's nothing wrong with the machines, we ought to be able to go in and take a look at them."

Why do such a thing?

McAuliffe and other Democrats have acknowledged that Bush won the election. "The election wasn't stolen," McAuliffe declared.

But he said the DNC's investigation was a bow to "blogworld," referring to activists who write Web logs about politics and continue to talk about a stolen election. There's even a Web site, www.bushstole04.com, largely about the Ohio vote.

Do you think if we started a blog swarm suggesting they all jump off a bridge they would?

Coleman Stakes Claim to the Political Center

Demonstrating how he was able to become the first Democratic mayor in Columbus in 28 years, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Coleman attempted to stake his claim on the political center.

Coleman, addressing 200 supporters in the back yard of his East Side home, issued a Reaganesque call for "growing a bigger economy, not a bigger government."

He mimicked President Bush’s 2000 pledge to be a uniter, saying: "Republicans, Democrats and independents alike . . . we must all pull together to make Ohio great again."

The mayor, in an interview, harkened back to the "work harder and smarter and do more with less" mantra of 1990 gubernatorial candidate George V. Voinovich, now a U.S. senator.

Coleman quoted from a Dec. 6 speech in which Sen. Mike DeWine warned that Ohio had become "an undereducated, underemployed, underpaid state, with a tax structure that is reflective of the past, not the future."

He even echoed Gov. Bob Taft’s frequent lament about Ohio’s "anti-business tax structure."

In a state where Republicans have made hay by successfully painting Democratic gubernatorial and presidential nominees as out-oftouch liberals, Coleman rhetorically strode toward the sensible center, defining himself as the pragmatic manager and fiscal conservative needed to rescue a state in crisis.

Republicans will have a hard time portraying Coleman as an extremist. He's not. Robert Bennett tried, but I don't think it's going to stick.
That didn’t deter Ohio GOP Chairman Robert T. Bennett from returning to the well: "(Coleman’s) political views on the death penalty, gay marriage, taxes and gun control might be in sync with John Kerry, but they’re out of touch with mainstream Ohioans."
Coleman has been successful in Columbus because he is a moderate. He has been a very successful fund raiser as mayor, getting a strong support from the Republican leaning Columbus business community.

"As mayor, he has made a claim as a moderate Democrat, somebody who’s able to build bridges to different voters, whether community groups or business leaders," said Herb Asher, an Ohio State University political scientist and Democratic activist.

"He is a candidate who happens to be black but is not a black politician in the classic sense. He’s been a candidate who wins office in a heavily white majority constituency, so he really does know how to reach out to all voters."

Coleman's personal story will also appeal to Republicans. He and his wife have three children, two sons and one daughter. One son is currently in the Columbus Police academy and the other is a Marine, about to be deployed to Iraq.

Coleman's biggest challenge will be gaining statewide name recognition.

Many Ohio Democrats have been hoping that Jerry Springer runs in the primary. Not so he would win, but because of the attention he would bring to the other candidates in the race. Springer would also have the effect of making the other candidates look more moderate.

If Coleman can win the Democratic primary and get the statewide name recognition that he needs, he would be a very serious candidate in 2006.

Raw Feed: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Arrested for DUI

WCHM Channel 4, the NBC affiliate in Columbus has posted the raw feed from the police cruiser that pulled over Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick. It's not pretty.
Resnick released a formal statement Wednesday afternoon about her arrest. "It is unfortunate that this situation has arisen after 22 years of sobriety," Resnick said. "For that, I extend my regrets to the citizens of Ohio. ... I will accept full responsibility for my actions."

The Wood County prosecutor said Wednesday that more charges might be filed against Resnick because she left the scene after being pulled over the first time by Bowling Green officers, NBC 4 reported.
Resnick registered a 0.216 blood alcohol content on an unofficial roadside test. She refused an official test when taken to the patrol post and her license was automatically suspended for one year.
The Highway Patrol started following the judge after a number of drivers called 911, Burton reported.

"I have a car right in front of me going on 75 South swerving all over the place, going across the median," one caller said.

"I got what looks like a drunk driver out here on 75 southbound, south of Toledo," another caller said.

Resnick pulled over at mile marker 173. "The way you were driving, I can't let you go on," an officer told Resnick.

The two troopers who pulled Resnick over called for a supervisor. Instead of waiting inside her car, Resnick confronted the two troopers, Burton reported.

"This is ridiculous," Resnick is heard saying on the in-cruiser camera. "There's nothing wrong with me." Resnick conversed with the troopers often during the stop.

"I've always said the Highway Patrol should drive us to work," Resnick told the officers at one point. "They do it for the U.S. Supreme Court. This is so embarrassing."

The trooper told Resnick that he could smell alcohol. "Come on," Resnick responded. "I have not been drinking. You know you are really infringing on my ... OK, I'm not going to [inaudible]." Resnick then returned to her vehicle.
UPDATE: Resnick has now entered a plea of Not Guilty.

UPDATE 2: The Toledo Blade has summarized some of Resnick's past rulings on DUI cases.

On the high court, Justice Resnick has ruled in a number of cases involving drunken-driving issues.

In a 1999 ruling involving a Lucas County case, she voted with a 4-3 majority to uphold the constitutionality of pulling a suspected drunken driver over based on solely on information supplied by a cell-phone caller.

In 2000, she was again part of a 4-3 majority in an Erie County case that warned police to strictly adhere to DUI field sobriety procedures or risk having convictions overturned.

William Meeks, a Columbus criminal-defense attorney who is not involved in this case, said he routinely warns clients not to take Breathalyzer tests after being pulled over for suspected drunken driver. He said the tests can be inaccurate, and that the courts, including the Ohio Supreme Court, have restricted the ability of the defense to successfully challenge them.

UPDATE 3: The Toledo Blade is now reporting that Resnick is planning to change her plea.

UPDATE 4: More video, including her first stop in Bowling Green where she drove away from with a BG officer leaning against her car.

UPDATE 5: Resnick changed her plea to guilty in court today: 6 month license suspension, $600 fine, and 3 days in a treatment center.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Ohio 2006: History and the Current Environment

In commenting on US Rep Ted Strickland's (D-OH) decision not to run for Ohio governor in 2006, the Dayton Daily News summed up the statewide political environment in Ohio pretty well:

After a decade and a half of Republican dominance of Ohio, even Republicans like U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike De-Wine view the state's condition with alarm. And now the cash-strapped government is faced with difficult, unpopular choices. So conventional wisdom holds that in '06, the "it's-time-for-a-change" cry should be powerful.

The state government will be up for grabs. Gov. Bob Taft is term-limited. Attorney General Jim Petro, Auditor Betty Montgomery and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell plan to leave their jobs to run for governor. (Secretary Blackwell has to move because he, too, is term-limited.)

For more than a decade, Republicans have functioned as a team. Ambitious GOP politicians have meekly accepted election assignments. But now they all want to be governor. That's another reason the Democrats have a special opportunity. But do they have the candidates?

There are several key points in the above that bear repeating:

1. Under Robert Bennett's leadership as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, Ohio Republican's have come to dominate state politics.

When Bennett began in 1988, Republicans held no statewide executive offices, were a minority party in the Ohio House, and held a slim majority in the Ohio Senate. By 1994, Republicans held all statewide executive offices and were the majority party in the Ohio House and Senate. They have maintained control ever since. It was a remarkable turnaround.

2. Ohio's economy has lagged that of the rest of the nation significantly over the last 10 years.

According an analysis of Ohio's economy over the last 10 years (available only in the Columbus Dispatch archives), when compared to the percentage improvement in other states, Ohio was ranked #49 in total job creation, #49 in unemployment rate, #39 in per capita income, #49 in gross state product per job, #43 in bankruptcies, and #28 in college graduates.

Bush was able to focus on other issues in 2004. But Ohio Republicans will have to answer the inevitable questions that will come.

3. Ohio Republicans have "waited their turn" for state offices, avoiding contested primaries. That is about to change.

In the past, Bennett has been able to juggle Republicans across multiple statewide offices, giving them all a piece of the pie. In 1998, Bob Taft got the biggest piece - an uncontested Republican gubernatorial primary and eventual governorship. Taft has had a very mediocre 2 terms in office, and now Ohio Republicans will be in a vulnerable position in 2006.

In 2006, the Republicans have stopped playing nice. Three Republicans - Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, Auditor Betty Montegomery, and Attorney General Jim Petro - have all announced that their intentions to seek the Republican nomination. And they are each already staking out their positions.

Over the next several days, I will continue to provide more insight into the Republican and Democratic candidates, but the bottom line is clear.

This will be no cakewalk for either party.

Monday, January 31, 2005

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

Scioto Downs Racetrack
Donerick's Pub
St. Christopher's Catholic Church
Frisch's Big Boy
Sawmill Lanes Bowling Alley

If you answered Donerick's Pub in Dublin, Ohio, you would be right.

All of these other public establishments were impacted by Columbus's Smoking Ban, which went into effect at midnight last night. The ban forbids smoking in all public buildings: bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and churches alike.

This is just another example of a law designed to protect us from ourselves. I hear all the proponents talk about the dangers of secondhand smoke. How they have a right to a smoke free environment. How public establishments actually do better financially when they are smoke free.

I say, then let the market decide. If a smoke free establishment does better, let someone start one up and put the smoke filled ones out of business. If someone is doesn't want to be exposed to second hand smoke, just don't frequent places that welcome smokers. It's that easy.

My wife is eight months pregnant. We don't need a law to protect us. We just don't go to places that have a lot of smokers. It's pretty simple.

And just in case you were curious, it's the Bingo players who were complaining at St. Christopher's.

Oh, and another thing, I don't smoke.

Coleman to Run for Ohio Governor

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman will announce his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Ohio govenor's race in 2006.

Coleman, the popular mayor of Ohio's largest city since 1999, ran statewide in 1998 as Lee Fisher's lieutenant-governor running mate. The Democrats lost to Republican Bob Taft's ticket by 5 percentage points.

Coleman rolled up an easy victory the next year, becoming Columbus' first Democratic mayor in 28 years. He had no GOP opponent in his 2003 re-election campaign.

Republicans have held the governor's office since 1991. Taft easily defeated little-known Democrat Tim Hagan to win re-election in 2002.

Coleman, 50, would bring a formidable campaign to the Democratic ticket, the chairmen of both state parties said. Republican Chairman Bob Bennett acknowledged Coleman's popularity but said the Republican nominee will be able to run a strong campaign should Coleman win the nomination.

The Columbus Dispatch has an exclusive interview:
"I have to stand up,'' Coleman said. "I feel a need, an obligation and frankly a duty to run and it's because our state's in crisis.''

"My family said go for it,'' Coleman said.

The state, facing a potential $5 billion budget shortfall, is adrift and has been failed by Republicans' decade-long control of state government, Coleman said.

"I don't think our state can afford more of the same,'' he said. "It's time for a change.''

Coleman said he would not shy away from a Democratic primary challenge that could come from talk-show host Jerry Springer of Cincinnati, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, state Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland, and former Attorney General Lee Fisher of Shaker Heights.

"My decision to run has not been based on other candidates' decisions,'' he said. "My decision to run is based on my believe[sic] that I have a duty and an obligation to serve, to stand up and not stand by.''

Coleman is a moderate Democrat with limited statewide name recognition. He will need to increase his exposure over the next year. With that said, I expect him to be a strong contender.

More tomorrow.

"Hillary's Husband"

Hillary fainted.

But it was this line that caught my attention.
In September, Clinton's 58-year-old husband underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
The article did not mention her husband by name or title anywhere.

Obviously another step in the moderatization of Hillary.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Kerry's "Warning" Applicable to Democrats

Read the full transcript of Geraldo reporting live on Fox News if you haven't already.
All I know is what I saw with my own eyes. What I saw with my own eyes were the people of this community turning out to vote, turning out in droves....I tell you, the job they did, it's--they've created an environment stable enough so that these people--not only are our GIs heroes, each one of these voters is a hero. Remember what they have been threatened with. Remember what they have endured. Remember the people who have been beheaded. Remember the threats that if you come out today, this is your last warning, you're going to be killed, your family is going to be killed. Well look at them. They're turning out anyway....

It's just amazing....There are the explosions, there's no doubt about it, in the background, the occasional fire, but that's not the news. Yes, it's the news of course, but the real news is that despite everything they are going to cast their ballots. It's incredibly heartwarming....
An exciting day, an historic day here in Iraq. It is the dawn of freedom....You folks who live in the United States who are watching this, just be proud. Be proud of this. This is amazing. This was inconceivable, wasn't it, during the days of Saddam Hussein. Look how far this country has come. It will heal its wounds. The terrorists are going to lose.
The next time you hear somone say the results are not legitimate, that the votes don't count, remember these words. The Iraqi people certainly didn't behave as if they thought their votes were meaningless.

Hopefully, over the next couple of days, the Democrats will realize how hollow and cynical the words of the Kennedy, Kerry, and Boxer coalition sound.

To paraphrase Kerry from Meet the Press this morning, what the Democrats do in the next few days will decide the outcome of the Democratic party for years to come. And this is - not may be - this is the last chance for the Democratic party to get it right.

Hopefully they will realize that we, as Americans, should be working together against a common enemy.


If not, they will isolate themselves from mainstream America in ways they haven't even dreamed of.

Live from Baghdad

The cable channel HDNet is broadcasting live from the Iraq elections as I write this. No newsmen. No commentators. Just the sights and sounds from the streets. Uncut and uncensored.

What strikes my is how ordinary the scene is. Poll workers registering the voters. Women with children waiting in line. Going to vote behind cardboard boxes. Smiles, conversations, and neighborly greetings.

All juxtaposed with security guards and US infantry men frisking people. An old man describing the increasing violence over the last couple of weeks. Another stating he is not scared, he is proud to help his country take a step in the right direction.

More smiles. More belief. Iraqi flags. Long lines and big crowds.

These are people who believe their actions are making a difference. And they are. Over the next couple of days, it will be interesting how this election will be portrayed.

I expect there will be some who attempt to declare it illegitimate due to low participation rates in parts of the country. To do so would be an absolute insult to the many Iraqi's who risked there lives by coming out to vote. Those who celebrated their next step towards democracy. Those who know their actions are making a difference.

For those in the US who consider waiting in long lines too much of a burden and a form of voter suppression, the Iraqi people are displaying just how valuable the right to vote is. What sacrifices and risks many are willing to take in order to exercise that right - a right many of us take for granted. A right that others of us seek to undermine and discredit. I right that I suspect none of us fully appreciate.

Today is a great day for the Iraqi people. It's also a great opportunity for all Americans to reflect on just how blessed we are.

UPDATE: As predicted, it didn't take long for some to question the legitimacy of the election, despite what appears to be an heroic turnout by the Iraqi people. Even I didn't expect it in a nationally televised interview hours after my initial post.
"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites), D-Mass., said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Disgusting is not a harsh enough word.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sticker Price: $500,000

The Other Paper describes the Bad Boy, a $500,000 street legal vehicle made in Grove City, Ohio that makes a Hummer look "like a small compact car."

What kind of person buys a $500,000 vehicle with a high-tech air-filtration system designed to withstand a biological, nuclear or chemical attack?

"I see people like, you know, Bill Gates will probably get one. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely needs one," Connaughton said. "A lot of basketball stars are going to want to park these in their garages."

And that's not all...

Ayres told Connaughton what he wanted—a luxury vehicle that could withstand a terrorist attack—and Connaughton got to work.

The result is a truck you can drive safely and comfortably as your less-fortunate fellow humans perish right outside your tinted windows.

"You could literally drive through the hot zone," Ayres said.

The truck is equipped with a satellite phone which the driver could use to call for help—if there's anyone left alive to call—and is built so that a helicopter could lift the truck to a safe area, Connaughton said.

But what if guerilla fighters happen to be peppering your tires with machine-gun fire while you're trying to escape? No worries.

The air pressure in the Bad Boy's tires will stay consistent even if there are soda can-sized bullet holes in them, Connaughton said.

The truck was crafted to be driven through up to 5 feet of water, and the engine is capable of working in temperatures ranging from 120 degrees to 50-below.

and then...

The inside of the truck is carpeted and the seats are black leather. The ceiling is mirrored, and features flashing colored lights.

The Bad Boy also has a safe, a joystick-controlled floodlight, an elaborate sound system, a satellite radio, two liquid crystal display screens, a shortwave radio, a satellite phone and a global positioning system.

But is doesn't have everything...

The Bad Boy does have its limitations, however. Unlike the Army's vehicle, the Bad Boys don't have machine guns in their recesses.

"We elected not to offer that to the civilians," Connaughton said. "That could be dangerous, with road rage and all."

Phone Conversation

Me: Hello
Ford Service: Sir, we found the cause of your Check Engine light turning on.
Me: OK.
FS: Dogfood.
Me: What?
FS: Dogfood.
Me: {Silence}
FS: Sir? Do you have a dog?
Me: Yes.
FS: We found dogfood all inside your air duct. About 5 pounds.
Me: What?
FS: About 5 pounds. And they're still finding more and taking it out.
Me: What?
FS: We had to remove the battery to get to all of it. We are going to exceed our original estimate, do you want us to continue?
Me: Cleaning out the dogfood?
FS: Yes. We think a small rodent has been getting in your dogfood and carrying it to the car where it is warm.
Me: 5 pounds?
FS: Yes. That's the only thing we can think of. Do you give us permission to exceed our original estimate?
Me: Yes.
FS: Great, we should be done in about an hour. Good bye.
Me: Bye.

Me: Honey, you aren't going to believe this...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here's a Ping Pong Punchline for You

In response to DC, who seems to enjoy a good - and I use the term very loosely - ping pong joke without a punchline...

I proudly present the Top 10 Ping Pong Joke Punchlines of all time, jokes not included:

10. He got excited and fell off the table.
9. You can play ping pong without a paddle.
8. See if it's truly possible to launch a ping pong ball 20 feet in the air.
7. A lid.
6. The now satisfied mathematician tosses the ping pong ball aside, sits back down and resumes thinking about his math problems.
5. You've ever had Thanksgiving dinner on a ping pong table.
4. "Ping Pong, the witch is dead."
3. "Ping pong balls? I thought you said King Kong's balls!"
2. "Bill Cosby, see you Tuesday!"

And finally, just for Julie with a B:
1. They had the volley of the dills.

Just to be clear, these punchlines are not alternative endings for DC's Ye Olde Ping Pong Ball Joke. They are actual punchlines for 10 separate jokes about Ping Pong balls pulled from the far reaches of the internet.

Included among them are a knock knock joke, a you might be a redneck joke, and obviously the obligatory pun. It's an exercise for the reader to figure out which is which - as well as try to track down the rest of the jokes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Me Blog Gooder

Stating Me Blog Good, Brian from Cincinnati Blog points out that Cincinnati was rated above average in a recent Men's Health survey rating 101 cities from smartest to dumbest, leaving it to me to point out which city is Ohio's smartest...

Cleveland got a D-plus and just escaped the bottom quarter by ranking 74th out of 101 cities -- between Anchorage, Alaska, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

We [Cleveland] trailed Columbus -- Ohio's "smartest" city, in 19th place with a B-plus -- and Cincinnati (27th, B-minus) and Akron (53rd, C).

For those keeping score, Minneapolis, MN ranked #1 and Fort Wayne, IN ranked #101.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New Ohio License Plates?

Plans for by Ohio officials to begin issuing license plates with a "Choose Life" slogan on them are now up in the air after the US Supreme court let stand a lower court ruling that the plates violated the First Amendment because an equivalent pro-choice plate was not offered.

I never thought the plates were appropriate. I don't think religious or polical views belong on license plates. But that doesn't mean they violate anyone's constitutional rights.

While trying to define where to draw the line, I came up with these new Ohio plates that I think are probably needed to provide a forum for alternate points of view of existing Ohio plates.

Current plate: Cincinnati Bengals
New plate: Cincinnati Bengals Still Suck

Current plate: Cleveland Indians
New plate: Cleveland Native Americans Whose Land the White Man Stole and Abused

Current plate: Celebrate Kids
New plate: Celebrate Birth Control

Current plate: Ducks Unlimited
New plate: Peking Duck Dinners

Current plate: Future Farmers of America
New plate: Future Construction Workers Supporting Urban Scrawl

Current plate: Leader in Flight
New plate: Aviophobiac

Current plate: Ohio Cattlemens Association
New Plate: Vegetarians Unlimited

And of course...
Proposed Plate: Choose Life
Alternative Plate: Choose Death

Holocaust Survivor 1, Deer 0

Not quite sure how a deer gets inside your house, but here's what happens once it does:
"I never, in my mind, was thinking that when my wife was yelling, 'Look it's a big deer in the living room!' ... I couldn't believe it," Tibor said. "I just didn't know what to do."

As Tibor distracted the deer, his wife ran outside and flagged down a passing taxi for help."When that buck was charging on me, and there were 10 antlers close in on my stomach, I don't know where I got the strength, but I guided him to the side with the antlers I was holding," Tibor said.

Tibor said the same inner strength that he found to make it through six years in a Siberian prison camp helped him survive the ordeal with the deer.
Six years in a Siberian prison camp would pretty much put any "ordeal" in perspective.

UPDATE: Redstate.com reports that Tibor is expected to fully recover and should be back home today.

Ohio Town Makes Superbowl Footballs

USA Today traveled to Ada in northwest Ohio to visit the only remaining football factory in the US:

In his trips to eight Super Bowls, Charles Moore has met fans who figure perfect spirals originate with somebody hitting a button: "Some people think you just put leather in a machine and out pops a football."

Hardly. Super Bowl footballs come from workers such as Moore, who used his bare and bandaged hands Monday to twist 600 balls. As a "ball turner," Moore grapples with balls that are inside out, so they can be stitched, and turns them right-side out.

He has had the job for 40 years. Not that it would be easy to take his specialty elsewhere: Every ball used in the NFL, and most used in college and high school games, comes from the Wilson Sporting Goods factory in this town of 5,582.

What's abundantly clear from the article is how manual the process is and how long the average employee has worked at the factory. Of the 5-10 people interviewed for the story, the newest employee started 15 years ago.

I don't think I would last 15 days.

No Moore Osc

Oscar nominations are in, and Fahrenheit 9/11 received zero nominations:
Michael Moore, a 2002 documentary winner for "Bowling for Columbine," missed out on nominations this time with his hit "Fahrenheit 9/11." Moore decided against entering "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the documentary category to boost its prospects for best-picture and other categories, but the film failed to earn any nominations.
Funny, I always thought the decision was made because a film has to have at least some factual basis to be considered a documentary.