Thursday, June 29, 2006

Money & Politics

The Noe Conduits - illegal money, likely stolen from Ohio's injured workers, knowingly laundered into the Bush-Cheney war-political machine. No way, no way, these veteran political figures didn't know exactly what they were doing - Betty and Maggie in particular point out legal technicalities at city council and at the Board of Commissioners religiously. Neither deserve to keep their public office one more day.

Kudos to The Blade for their investigation, as they write:

Since The Blade broke the story last year of problems in Noe’s failed $50 million state rare-coin funds and his close ties with Gov. Bob Taft’s office and others in Columbus, 14 people — including several gubernatorial aides and the governor himself — have been convicted or charged with crimes.

We Dems have our problems, to be sure, but we can all hold Ohio Republican "leaders" responsible by sweeping Blackwell, Montgomery and their House and Senate leaders out of office this fall. In fact, if Betty and Maggie don't resign, it will even more deeply hurt the entire GOP ticket this fall, especially here in Lucas County.

Among the solutions to the problem of money in politics: public financing. A new national public opinion survey shows support is growing. Here is analysis by Nathan Newman:

The result is bipartisan with eighty percent of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans support this reform.

What's important to emphasize is why voters said things would improve with public financing of elections.

82% of voters believe it is likely, as a result of publicly financed elections, that candidates will win on their ideas, not because of the money they raise.

79% said it would allow candidates with good ideas rather than just the rich and powerful to have a shot at winning elections.

77% said that special interests would not receive as many favors, tax breaks and deals from politicians.

This last point is important. Public financing of elections are NOT a policy that will increase government spending; in fact, it's almost guaranteed to pay for itself many times over with less tax and government contract giveaways and more honest, cheaper services. 77% of the public recognize that our present system of legalized bribery costs the public every day, so replacing it with public financing will be a cost-saver.

I suggest something of a mix of public-private, something stonger than the weak Presidential Election Fund - which clearly is no disincentive to corruption. I value people's ability to support a candidate of their choice with honest contributions - its how I got elected twice, after all. But when you look at state and federal races that cost into the millions and which increase every cycle, and react to the resulting scandals and wasted tax dollars - the concept of public financing begins making sense.

Finally, the U.S Supreme Court made a significant decision recently about contribution limits, which gets a brief discussion at Democracy Now!. Reform has a long way to go in this country of ours.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Nice Mess

From HistoryMike comes a valiant defense of Carty by Brian Schwartz.

"The debate is over" secondhand smoke kills

From today's Press Release by our U.S. Surgeon General:

“The health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are more pervasive than we previously thought,” said Surgeon General Carmona, vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service. “The scientific evidence is now indisputable: secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance. It is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.” Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals, and is itself a known human carcinogen.
“Our progress over the past 20 years in clearing the air of tobacco smoke is a major public health success story,” Surgeon General Carmona said. “We have averted many thousands of cases of disease and early death and saved millions of dollars in health care costs.” He emphasized, however, that sustained efforts are required to protect the more than 126 million Americans who continue to be regularly exposed to secondhand smoke in the home, at work, and in enclosed public spaces.

Get the full report.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Szollosi Listens

Rolling out my "land blog" - a 1975 24' Argosy Travel Trailer - built in Ohio by Airstream. A companion blog is also being launched focusing on the nuts and bolts of citizen services. Helping people is the most satisfying part of serving as an elected official. I'm looking forward to spending more time in more neighborhoods, meeting more Toledoans and solving more and more problems. Look for us to spend time in your neighborhood, festival or event - and let us know what we can do to help. Also launching a 24-hour Action Hotline, 419-754-2124 - for any city issue.

This blog, Szollosi Toledo, will remain active and continue its focus on policy and politics. Szollosi Listens is all about Toledoans and delivering services: cutting grass, cleaning allies, filling potholes, demonstrative help to businesses and working people, neighborhood efforts, trash collection, police, fire and emergency response issues, you name it.

I'm ramping up images & the look of Szollosi Listens - please check in often and share your ideas, complaints, and suggestions.

Lost in the Flood

Just returned from late briefings at the 911 Building. All non-emergency reports should be directed to 936-2020. Of course, for emergencies call 911.

Top priorities: saving lives. from the flood waters, from downed power lines, and potential natural gas leaks from doused pilot lights. If you smell gas, don't do ANYTHING but leave the house immediately - no touching light switches, no phone calls, no opening windows. Call the gas company from your cell outside or next door.

Check on neighbors, especially seniors, kids, or those with special needs. Obviously real important for a sense of community to kick in here.

Toledo Police, at least on Thursday, are shifting to what's called a Phase 2 response. If you get into a fender bender and noone is hurt, please share insurance & contact info as police will only be responding to life threatening situations. You can file a report at any substation after the fact.

Secondary issues:

abandoned vehicles. The city and contract tow companies will clear the streets of abandoned vehicles and simply move them into the closest empty parking lot or off to the side of the road. Contact me if you can't find your vehicle, I'll call records division.

garbage collection. The city is encouraging people to put refuse out on the day of regular pick-up, though will try to accomodate special situations. Use the 936-2020 number or contact me directly if I can be of service.

health concerns from sewer water. Worst case scenario, intestinal infection from exposure to untreated sewage. Stay out of the water, and keep kids and pets out of the water too. Health Department already working with Mosquito Control, as well.

structural damages. both to city infrastructure, i.e caved-in streets, big pot holes, fallen tree limbs. AND to residential basements and foundations. Check for cracks or shifting of foundation & report it ASAP.

Traveling from Glendale to Downtown took some doing after 9:30pm. All the underpasses were flooded and blocked with cars. Douglas north of Kenwood was especially bad, as was Douglas at Sylvania down to Deveaux School. Our Deputy Clerk of Council was marooned in a driveway for more than an hour there.

Roughly 18,000 people without power.

Lucas County Emergency Management Agency is documenting damage for application for state and federal help. Keep track and forward all costs associated with storm, and forward images of damage - take pictures BEFORE cleaning things up. In 2000, the county was successful in obtaining $15,000,000 in grants and loans for the water and flood damage that year.

Very interested in hearing stories, ideas, complaints or suggestions on the blog here.

Kudos to the men and women who went out and worked in the elements tonight, from public safety to street crews and everyone who stopped (and dodged some serious lightening) to help someone in need.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Flat Tired

The Finkbeiner Administration Bikepath proposal is disappointing on many levels, despite the fact that fitness is worth encouraging.

First, public input. Where the heck was it? Why not have neighborhoods compete for bikepath development, sidestepping the hurtful neighbor versus neighbor events now occurring in South Toledo's Wildwood area. Council has received dozens of letters, emails and phone calls on this one.

Second, our threadbare budget and the return of tax dollars back to our community. We give away so much of our state and federal taxes, its shameful that the Mayor would so easily part with scarce City of Toledo Capital Improvement dollars without seeking ample state and federal match money for bike paths. (Would you believe, $11 million a year available to Ohio municipalities, with another $8.9 million yearly through organizations like TMACOG. Holy smokes, that's a lot of our taxes going to other communities!) As recently as June 2006, Columbus City Council accepted 33% in state matching funds for bikeways.

Here are the state links: ODOT read: Transportation Enhancement and ODNR

Let me be the first to go on record supporting Mayor Finkbeiner's applications for the return of our state and federal tax dollars for Toledo bikepaths for improved fitness, and let's hear from interested neighborhoods that want improved lifestyles and higher property values. The ordinance this Tuesday should be tabled.