And Now To Get Political…

It’s the midterms. And while I’ve not been as political as I have been in previous years, I don’t think I’m doing any favors by not speaking up the day before the elections. If you regularly read this space, you already know where I stand on the Congressional and Senate elections: Anyone who held a seat in October, 2013 needs to be sacked. Now, that’s not going to happen to House Speaker John Boehner. His Democratic opponent, whatsisname, is so forgettable that I’m convinced they ran him just to have a slot on the ballot. According to one local blogger, the opponent’s web site lacks a means to donate and resembles a fanfic site from the old days of Geocities and angelfire.com.

But that’s one district over from me. Not my circus, not my monkey. Butler County and Dayton will continue to slip Congress a Boehner.

However, since my Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a normally reasonable guy who paid the requisite amount of lip service to the Tea Party (occupational hazard in the GOP these days) was my Congressman in October of 2013, neither he nor Rob Portman nor Democrat Sherrod Brown (the last two Ohio’s current senators) will ever get my vote for anything again. Not even to the board of the local homeowners association. Yeah, kids. I’m pissed, and I hold looooong grudges with politicians. It’s a virtue I’d like to see more people embrace.

The big race in Ohio is for governor. I usually have to have a compelling reason to vote out an executive, be it governor or president. For instance, most of the complaints against Obama was that he was not Republican, which is a stupid reason to vote against someone. You want to be loyal to a party? Go move to North Korea. Also, the opponent would have to be either so spectacularly awesome that I can’t not vote for them, or they have to be so spectacularly bad that I’d vote for Kim Jong Un before I’d vote for this person.

Well, John Kasich has managed to piss me off quite a bit, but when the people exerted their will when he went against it, he shrugged, said the people have spoken, and got on with the job. I voted for his predecessor last time because, really, I had no compelling reason to get rid of him. That’s where Kasich finds himself with me. Moreover, his opponent is… See above. Ed Fitzgerald is a man who drove without a license for a decade and was caught with a woman in the backseat of his car. It was not Mrs. Fitzgerald. And this guy wants to govern an entire state. So let’s do the math here: Recovered state economy + stubborn but cooperative incumbent + an idiot running against him = vote for Kasich.

The auditor’s job belongs to Dave Yost, who has run only one real attack ad this season. (And I think that one was actually run by some front for whatever Citizens United calls itself these days.) Yost points out that he’s saved the state a lot of money on his watch. Again, do a good job, and I’ll vote for you.

I’m kind of torn on the attorney general’s race here. On the one hand, we have incumbent Mike DeWine. I voted against him in his last run for Senate because it was his second term. That’s part of my calculus. Two and out for anyone. (For representatives, I give them eight years because the two-year term is one of the dumbest things the Founding Fathers came up with. Not the dumbest. That was counting each slave as 2/3 of a person. But two-year terms is pretty stupid.)  On the other hand, I’ve generally liked Democrat David Pepper in the past. Since the FOP like him for Ohio’s top cop, I’ve decided to go with Pepper. He almost lost my vote, however, when his ads started resembling…

Josh Mandel, the incumbent treasurer. But where Pepper’s attack ads are largely puffery or out-of-context comments, Mandel out and out makes up stuff about his opponents. In his initial run for treasurer, he accused the then-incumbent of giving a contract to a guy who went to his mosque. Then, as now, he ends by reminding you he’s an ex-Marine. There are four problems I have with that: 1.) It’s not criminal to be a Muslim, nor even an indication of any moral failing, 2.) said deal never happened, 3.) John Kerry pimped his military service, too, and that didn’t convince anyone, and 4.) his opponent was not even a Muslim. So don’t vote for a guy who cut a nonexistent deal because the other guy attends the same fictitious mosque, oh, and Josh Mandel was a Marine. Uh-huh. Lots of people have served our country, including my sister-in-law, who thinks he’s an idiot. That’s the most egregious example of Mandel’s tactics. He does it every time, and it cost him a senate run. This year, he’s whining about non-existent attack ads. There were none. His opponent, Connie Pillich, doesn’t even mention this lying sack in her ads. Let’s put it this way. If Josh Mandel told me the sky was blue, I’d have to go outside with a color chart just to make sure he wasn’t lying. And even then, I’d have my doubts. And since Pillich is my state senator, a vote for Pillich is a no-brainer. Josh Mandel should not be elected to anything, even president of the Liar’s Club. This jackass reminds me too much of Nixon. Only Nixon had some redeeming qualities. I’ve yet to see any in Mandel.

Finally, there’s the secretary of state, which in Ohio is the guy who not only manages the registration of businesses and trademarks but also runs the elections. John Husted already lost my vote by trying to rig polling hours to deny Obama a win in Ohio. (Didn’t work.) But I’ve already decided that I will never again vote for a major party for this office. So I’m voting for Kevin Knedler, the Libertarian Party chairman for Ohio, who’s running for this job. I have no idea what his position is. I only know that Husted’s job is to preserve the office for a Republican successor and, failing that, ensure that only a Democrat can take it away. A Democrat does exactly the reverse: Preserve the job for his party, and make sure only the opposing major party has a chance to take over. Unacceptable. So I’m voting for Knedler. Oh, and Greens, Modern Whigs, and Constitutionalists? You’ve let me down. I don’t see a single name from any of you this time.

And that’s about it. I’ll spare you the local races. They’re not of much interest outside of the Cincinnati area. But that’s where I stand. Tomorrow, go let them know where you stand. If I put things in perspective for you, great. Even if I haven’t, vote your conscience. And if you don’t vote tomorrow, kindly sit down and shut up.

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I Call Bullshit On TruthPac

Casinos are on Ohio’s ballots again.  This time, the proposition is straight forward.  Casinos will be approved for four cities:  Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.  The Indiana casinos are not fighting it, and one casino near Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland is shovel-ready.

So what’s the argument against casinos this time?

The anti-casino crowd claims that, because no hiring preference is being given to Ohioans, all the jobs will go to out-of-state “licensed” casino workers.

Two words:  Bull.  Shit.

First off, most casinos anywhere hire locals.  Almost all the jobs require no more than a high school education.  And the only licenses granted are for the casino operators themselves.

For proof, you need only look thirty miles east of where I’m sitting at Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Do you know what Argosy Casino (since replaced by Hollywood) brought to the area?

Jobs.

You know who they hired?

Indianans.  Kentuckians.  Ohioans.  Yanno, people who, like, live in and around Lawrenceburg?

Let’s go down river a bit to Rising Sun.  Hey, whattaya know!  A sleepy little Ohio River village suddenly had a lot of jobs to offer.  And guess what?  Most of them went to locals.

And wow!  The same thing happened in Vevay, the next town downriver to get a casino.  Yeah, I guess the casino operators in Indiana must be stupid hiring local people who’ve only seen casinos in New Jersey and Atlanta.

Now, do I think 34,000 jobs is a questionable number?

It’s a campaign.  What do you think?  34,000 is a giddily optimistic number that translates into “a lot,” which will still be thousands more jobs in Ohio than we have now.

But TruthPac claims, or at least implies, that no one from Ohio would be hired.  From a business standpoint, that’s not just foolhardy, it’s criminally stupid.

Bottom line:  Either by implication or by direct statement, TruthPac is lying.

Here’s the truth:  Casinos bring local jobs.   If they bring people in from out of state to work, so much the better.  Ohio is suffering a population drain anyway.  No one, however, is going to drive more than 50 miles from inside another state to work in a casino here.  Last I checked, Cleveland and Columbus were over 50 miles from the nearest state border.  Frankly, it’s just not feasible to freeze out local residents anyway.  It never happens.  [Indian reservations don’t count.  Then again, Indian casinos also hire locals.  See a trend?]

The crime rate is less likely to go up than is usually stated.  Indiana still has a lower crime rate along the Ohio River than Indianapolis.  The mob no longer controls Las Vegas, and they haven’t shown much of a presence along the Ohio River.  And not every city with casinos is Atlantic City.  (But many without them are.)  So the crime argument doesn’t wash.  Not unless some backroom operator from the bad ol’ days of Newport, Kentucky, is somehow getting Cincinnati’s casino operation.  Write off slim, bet on none, and you have the chances of that actually happening.

Casinos attract business.  Really, outside of downtown Cleveland or Columbus, what is there to do in Ohio?  Watch the Amish make cheese?  Ride a couple of roller coasters?  Ohio has its attractions, but they don’t compete with California or the Gulf Coast.  Let’s be honest.  People go where the sin and vice are.   And if the sin and vice are clean and regulated, businesses set up shop in the area.  Real businesses that hire assembly line workers and accountants and IT workers.

You know.  Tax payers.  Consumers.  Home owners.

Get the picture?

Or you can continue listening to TruthPac lie.  The State Board of Elections is.  And they have some hard questions.

Gambling In Ohio: It’s Overdue

Slot machines are coming to Ohio racetracks in an effort to make up a $3 billion shortfall in the state budget.  Soon, a new gambling issue will be on the Ohio ballot, this time without narrow provisions of Issue 6, nor interference from the former Argosy (now Hollywood) Casino.  In fact, Hollywood’s owners are looking to put a casino in Cleveland, a city that could use the economic boost.

With the state in a deep hole, and basically any sort of legalized vice that might attract people to the state banned, it’s time to let people play slots, Texas Hold ‘Em, and roulette.  It’s time to get rid of the state’s outdated, outmoded ban on gambling.

To put this in perspective, I honestly don’t want to go to any casino.  I spent an afternoon in Belterra over in Vevay, Indiana about five years ago.  It was noisey, and people at the slots get pretty obnoxious when you get between them and their favorite machines.  I never returned until Bill Engvall did a show there in 2006.  Gambling to me consists of playing the Megamillions when it tops $26 million (a million a year for the next 26 years.)

So when I say Ohio needs gambling, I don’t say it out of a need to gamble.  I say it because it attracts gamblers and jobs.  It’s more than people sitting like zombies at the slots.  Certainly, there are risks to gambling.  Pete Rose, anyone?  But casinos would provide a well-regulated environment that would mitigate some of those issues.

The argument I’m tired of hearing is the argument that has the least substance behind it: crime and prostitution.  The puritanical groups in this state scream hysterically that Ohio would suddenly sprout Midwestern versions of the Mustang Ranch and be overrun by Mafia types.

Indiana started allowing casinos in 1993.  There’s been some uptick in crime that comes with an uptick in tourism.  Show me a tourist attraction that doesn’t cause that.  Lawrenceburg, the nearest suburb in Indiana to Cincinnati, is not exactly an epicenter of crime and violence.  Prostitution?  There have been isolated incidents, but Lawrenceburg, Rising Sun, and Vevay aren’t exactly meccas of whoredom.  Try Vine Street or Covington after midnight.

Gambling’s not an ideal situation, but Ohio needs to stop legislating other people’s morals.  The simple fact is when you go into a casino, you need to take responsibility for yourself.  Since a majority of people who go do, or at least know to quit when they get burned, it makes no sense to continue an outmoded and, frankly, downright silly ban.  Regulate gambling.  Tax the hell out of it; it’s a tax people gladly pay.  But it’s time for the ban to go.  The schools need it.  The libraries need it.  Police and fire departments need it.

UPDATE:  A gent from Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan emailed me with a couple of corrections.  The ballot issue was Issue 6, not 5 (payday loan restrictions), as I originally wrote.  I also learned Cleveland’s proposed casino is actually a project by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

And Speaking Of Ripping Off Ohio…

Here in the Buckeye State, we have a referendum called Issue 5 which will permanently cap payday loans at 28% APR.

The payday loan companies are howling in agony because, frankly, they just can’t make it without the 391% APR they charged before the Ohio Legislature originally passed this law.

So what are they saying?

“Issue 5 takes away my choices when I need to borrow money.”

Issue 5 doesn’t ban payday loans.  It just bans usury.  If Citifinancial and Beneficial aren’t allowed to charge more than 33% APR (Yes, I know someone who paid that.  No, it was not me.  No, I don’t want to know how he got himself into that much trouble.), why should Check N Go be allowed?  The answer is they shouldn’t.  It’s called predatory lending.  Sure, people don’t have to take out a payday loan.  But when you charge more than a loan shark (and I asked a former loan shark.  I’m not kidding.), and that’s all that’s available to people who can’t get the overpriced consumer loans or a credit card, that’s predatory lending.

When voters didn’t bite on that tactic, they stole a page from the Issue 6 (Casino gambling) playbook:  Jobs!

But where Issue 6 points out the undisputed fact that the proposed casino will, in fact, have to hire people (Yanno.  Taxpayers?  People who might use those salaries to pay, yanno, their mortgages?), the payday loan companies claim voting yes on Issue 5 will cost jobs.

Excuse me if I say don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of state.  The truth is that, even at 28% APR, someone is going to make money in this state on payday loans, especially in this economic climate.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and as soon as the payday loan companies flee Ohio, someone will step in and fill the void.

A no-vote on Issue 5 will be a yes vote on predatory lending.

[This is an editorial, not a political ad.  No one paid for the content of this message.  We will resume our regularly scheduled making fun of the presidential candidates next week.]

Argosy Casino Wants Your Money

Here in Ohio, we have lots of casinos.  They’re located in Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  For some reason, George Voinovich (who should have been on board with this in the 1980’s as mayor of Cleveland) and Governor Ted Strickland are against the idea of gamblers actually spending their money in Ohio.  But they’re quiet about it this time.

Who isn’t quiet?

Why Argosy Casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Last month, they announced they would be spending millions to shoot down Issue 6, a ballot issue that would allow a resort casino to be built in Wilmington, a city half way between Columbus and Cincinnati.  Why?

‘Cuz Argosy wants all that lovely CIncinnati money.  And if Wilmington gets a casino, Cincinnatians might bypass Indiana for the home-grown casino.  Also, it would make it easier for the proposed Indian casino to be built in Monroe.  Which would make it easier for casinos to be built in cities like Lorain (near Cedar Point Amusement Park and the Lake Erie Islands), Cleveland (looking to revitalize its lakefront), and…

Cincinnati, sucking more of that lovely Ohio money out of Argosy’s pocket.

Argosy has gone so far as to say the WIlmington casino will pay no taxes to the state, a bald-faced lie that would make the presidential campaign managers pause and say, “Dude, that’s just dishonest even for us.”  The actual language of the issue reads…

2. Require the casino to pay a tax of up to 30% on its gross receipts
for gaming less payouts. The taxes are to be used first to pay expenses of
regulating and collecting taxes from the casino, then for funding of
gambling prevention and treatment programs, and the remainder to be
distributed in the amount of 10% to Clinton County and 90% to the remaining
counties based on population and to be used at each county’s discretion.

    3. Reduce the tax paid by the casino authorized by this amendment to
the lesser of the rate taxed on another casino or 25%, in the event another
casino is permitted in Ohio in the future.

    4. Require that the casino be subject to all other applicable types of
taxes that are currently in effect in Ohio.

In other words, they pay a boatload of taxes until another casino is built, in which case, that casino (unless it is a tribal casino), picks up the slack.  So who might build another casino?  Say in Cleveland or Cincinnati?

Argosy, are you sure interfering in out-of-state politics is in your best interests?  I don’t think so.

Places I Want To Be

Yesterday, I talked about the travel budget being shot to hell for the foreseeable future.  Nita and I, though, have talked about places we’d like to go next year.  Jamaica has been discussed, as has been Florida, Savannah, and the Tennessee or West Virginia mountains.  One place I talk about a lot, though, is the Lake Erie Islands.

Last year, I got to go to historic Put in Bay for the first time.  Both as a place to waste time in bars and a tourist trap, I loved Put in Bay.  Out in the middle of a large inland sea, it stays cool from breezes off the water.  You get around South Bass Island – where the village of Put in Bay sits – mainly by golf cart.  They have a winery, the Perry Monument, where you can see clear to Canada or back to the Ohio mainland and Cedar Point Amusement Park.  Most of the island is a state park, and the island is a place to party.  Plus, Put in Bay has one of the largest marinas in the state.  It’s a great place to dock the boat while you go out to eat or just chill on the beach.

Kelley’s Island, closer to the mainland, is more “suburban” than Put in Bay.  While Put In Bay shows signs everywhere that hardly anyone lives full time on the island, Kelley’s looks more like a small town out in the middle of the sea.  It, too, has a terrific state park, great for hiking, and a winery that fully admits all Lake Erie wines (and Ohio wines for that matter) are sweet because you can’t age the grapes there more than a year.  (A certain nameless winery on the afforementioned island suggested they’re bullshitting you in California.  Kelley’s Island suggests you try Napa Valley for the dryer wines.)  The odd thing about the Kelley’s Island WInery is that it’s more like a bar.  I sat having wine and cheese at the Kelley’s while watching the Nationwide NASCAR Series.

Kelley’s is a fully functioning town with its own school and a working rock quarry.  While tourists pack the island from April through October, there are 367 people who call this place home.  Like South Bass, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation for visitors.  However, most of the bars are clustered near the marina on the eastern side of the island.

My one visit to Kelley’s involved bar hopping.  After spending the morning exploring the island, I started out at one bar at the beginning of an Ohio State football game and worked may way over to the island’s sole brew pub and back to The Caddyshack for the end of the game.  It was late fall, and the tourists were fewer in number.  All in all, a cheap weekend away while the ex enjoyed Cedar Point on the mainland.

Ziggins and I talk about having a boys weekend out on the lake, starting in Sandusky and boating over to Kelley’s Island, then Put-in-Bay, before heading back to the mainland.  There’s something these tiny, isolated villages in the middle of the water that’s irresistable.

In Case You Were Wondering, I Sound Like I’m From Cleveland.

Cincinnati?  Not so much.  After nearly two decades in the Queen City, I still don’t say “Please?” when I want someone to repeat what they’ve said.  I do, however, make fun of people for saying “Cincinnatuh” instead of “Cincinnatee.”  But then no one who lives in the State of Ahia* says that.

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Midland
 

“You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
 
The Northeast
 
Philadelphia
 
The South
 
The West
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

*For the record, no one from Ohio says Ahia either.  If they do, we call them “hicks,” even out in SE Ohio, where it’s all trees and hills.