Trolling Not Allowed

Trolling Not Allowed! Comments from anonymous trolls are not permitted and are deleted if posted by the offending pest.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bush Vetoes Child Health

George W(warmonger) Bush has absolutely no problem spending billions upon billions of dollars in a politically motivated killing war such as he has done and continues to do in Iraq. However, he has no problem at all in vetoing far less money that is needed to assure the health of America's children from low-income families.
Read about the children's health program here.
Go this way to learn more about SCHIP.
Shame on Bush! Shame, shame, shame. What kind of person is he, any way? He certainly isn't much of a man in my opinion. Nor is George the Warmonger much of a President. George Bush has created the biggest blight on American history there has ever been and perhaps is the greatest sham (or shame, take your pick) of all American Presidents.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dollars and Cents (or is that sense?)

I am still on vacation with limited internet access (because I'm too busy enjoying real life outside the net), so I will make this short and sweet.
Today, I learned that the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar are now worth the same. Up until now, the U.S. dollar has always been worth more. The U.S. dollar has been in decline for several years.
I also learned a couple days ago that Alan Greenspan, who only recently retired as Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board and had served every President since being appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987, has written a book that basically alleges George W. Bush is a fiscal incompetent who has made economic policy decisions for the United States based on political reasons rather than on sound economic principles.
I say Bush has taken us all to the cleaners --- the dry cleaners, that is.
I'm glad I have saved any Canadian money I had left over from various visits to that country. What an investment! I only wish I had more; I could have become rich because of it and Bush's financial mismanagement of our American economy.
On the other hand, my American dollars are only worth cents now!!!
Does this make sense? Bush has brought all Americans to their knees, except the wealthy Americans such as his buddy, Dick Cheney, and all his Haliburton friends and others like them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Religious Freedom in the United States: Debatable

Many Americans, if not all Americans, proudly proclaim that we have religious freedom in the United States of America. I put forth that the topic of religious freedom in the United States is debatable. Religious freedom may exist technically in the United States; but, it does not necessarily exist in everyday America reality.
I have often heard it said by many, many people that the United States is a Christian nation. I have heard people say that the Founding Founders of our country were Christians and that this country was founded on Christian beliefs. Numerous people advocate and want to pass legislation permitting prayer in public schools, at public gatherings, and elsewhere throughout the governmental and public sector. There are any number of American city, county, and state governments that use public funds and public property to display symbols that are linked to specific religions. The Moral Majority has a political agenda that essentially lobbies for legislation that institutionalizes their religious concepts and imposes those concepts as law on all Americans.
As a first-generation American, I cannot claim a rich family history going back a hundred or two hundred or three hundred years, but the United States of America is my birthplace. Therefore, America’s heritage is my heritage.
One of our country’s Founding Founders, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was a powerful advocate of liberty and a staunch proponent of religious freedom. The University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, has some very good web pages entitled Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government. I encourage you to visit the section on Freedom of Religion to obtain some extensive information on Jefferson’s thoughts and statements in the cause of religious freedom.
You may say that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for religious freedom in our country. After all, the First Amendment does state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and then it continues about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right of people to assemble peacefully, and petition Government for a redress of grievances. All of that is in just one small sentence. Yeah, well, over the past 200 plus years, there has been much discussion and debate, as well as numerous court rulings, on the issue of religious freedom as it relates to the First Amendment. I suggest you read the full one sentence text of the First Amendment and annotations over at FindLaw.
Back to full circle. Traditionally, overall, our American history is abundant with Anti-Semitism, even reaching into the White House itself. People of the Jewish religion have been the recipients of much discrimination in the United States of America. And now, another religion with an extremely large number of adherents has come under attack. Not only do vast numbers of Americans advocate and proselytize Christianity as a part of American society, culture, and political scenery, it is no longer uncommon to hear Americans condemn Islam. Not only has Islam come under attack by so-called “good Christians” but there has also been a growing outcry to forbid any further immigration of Muslims into the United States. There are far too many ignorant people that have labeled all followers of Islam as terrorists.
In the world of reality, I do believe that topic of religious freedom in the United States is truly debatable.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Municipal Government in Toledo, Ohio

Here we go again! It seems to happen every generation or so that Toledoans change their form of city government. So, it is no surprise that they're talking a lot lately about changing the form of city government in Toledo, Ohio.
I had intended to address this topic yesterday but I was interrupted by unexpected company that did not depart until late in the evening. Then today, to my surprise, was a newspaper article entitled "Politics puts Toledo's charter to the test" that provides a vast amount of the information of which I intended to write. For a while, I thought I should just pass on this subject as an entry into Roland Hansen Commentary. Instead, I have decided to incorporate the newspaper article into this commentary. After all, by reading the article, a person will obtain the history that I had intended to provide.
As the information in the following embedded links will provide, there are basically three forms of municipal government and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Toledo has gone back and forth between mayor-council and council-manager forms of government. The City has had the strong mayor and the weak mayor forms of government. Toledo has had mayors chosen by city council and mayors elected directly by the general electorate with and without appointed city managers. Toledo, Ohio has had city councils chosen at-large, chosen by proportional representation, and chosen by a combination of district and at-large.
In the never-ending quest to secure a responsive government and in a variety of attempts to remove politics from municipal government, Toledo has gone back and forth and back again, time and time again, with various forms of city government.
And yet, Toledoans still have been unable to convince themselves that politics cannot be removed from the governing process. Mayors have blamed council for things not getting done, and so have city managers; and city councils have blamed city managers for things not getting done, and city councils have blamed mayors for things not getting done.
Regardless of the lessons from local history, Toledoans have been unable (or maybe it is unwilling) to retain an institutional memory. They are under the misimpression that politics can indeed be removed. Toledo citizenry puts itself in another catch-22. On one hand, Toledoans want a supposedly non-partisan, non-political, professional CEO that they allege can only be secured by having a city manager. On the other hand, Toledoans want a CEO that is accountable and responsible to the citizens, something that can only come through a CEO who is elected directly by the people, that is a strong mayor. Past experience in Toledo has shown that previous city managers did pretty much what they wanted, and neither the mayor nor the city council would accept responsibility for unpopular managerial actions. To make the politics of city manager accountability even more complicated was the fact that although the mayor nominated and the council confirmed the appointment of the manager, none of the previous mayors or councils were willing to dismiss any of the previous managers. Instead, everyone pointed fingers at everyone else for any problems that may have existed.
It's been approximately 15 years now that Toledo has had a Strong Mayor and a 12- member City Council, consisting of 6 at-large and 6 district members all of whom now serve 4-year terms having replaced the previous two-year terms and with staggered terms separating the at-large from the district council members.
When the incumbent mayor suggested reducing the size of council from 12 to 8, people immediately picked up on that. Folks started pointing the fingers alleging the mayor was being punitive, that the mayor wanted to control council, and that reduction of district seats would dilute the strength of minority representation. Do these people think the present mayor will influence future mayors and councils?
I keep hearing people talking of a four at-large and four district city council membership. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Why are people only talking of eight and why are people only talking of an at-large and district combination? With an even number of council members, what happens when there is a tie vote? Do folks want those situations go to the mayor? Why not propose an odd number council membership in order to minimize the chances of tie votes. Toledoans are constantly clamoring about constituent services for their neighborhoods. And yet, the only ideas of which I am aware are those suggestions that would decrease the number of district council members.
I have some thoughts of my own. I believe that Toledo, Ohio should go to a 9-member city council, all elected from districts. I believe that Toledo should stay with a strong mayor, but also require an appointed professional City Administrator who is nominated by the Mayor and approved by City Council and who can only be removed by the mayor. I believe that this would result in a more responsible, responsive, and accountable form of municipal government for Toledo, Ohio than what has existed in the past, than what presently exists, and than what is being openly proposed by public leaders and others to exist for the future.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Selecting Judges in Ohio

The ways in which judges are chosen vary from state to state. Just as there are a wide variety of methods that are used to choose judges, there are a wide variety of opinions from people on the way judges should be chosen.
But many people do not know the basics of what is involved in the judicial selection process, whichever method is used. Judicial Selection and Retention FAQs from the National Center for State Courts' Knowledge and Information Services is a good place to start for the person who would like a basic understanding of the overall topic.
The method of selecting judges in the State of Ohio continues to be mired in controversy. Judges in Ohio are elected in nonpartisan elections. However, if there is a mid-term vacancy, the vacancy is filled by gubernatorial appointment until the next election for that judgeship is held. While these elections are technically nonpartisan, political parties and special interest groups are intricately involved. The American Judicature Society has some very interesting pages on Ohio judicial selection including an introduction, current methods, history of judicial selection reform, judicial campaigns and elections, and diversity on the bench.
If political parties and special interest groups are involved, you can bet your bottom dollar that big money is also a very major player. That is the topic of an interesting article entitled “Money Talks” with the subtitle “In a race for Ohio Supreme Court, one candidate spoke freely about his views and the other filled his war chest. Guess who won.” by Andrew Goldstein which is a must-read.
The Justice at Stake organization claims that it “works to protect courts from special interest groups and partisan pressure.” Its website has a press release dated October 30, 2006 with the headline “Next Ohio Governor Should Fill Court Vacancies Based On Merit, Not Politics, Says Justice at Stake Campaign” Guess What? The Justice at Stake organization got what it wanted. This is clearly ascertained by reading the January 30, 2007 press release on the website of The Supreme Court of Ohio entitled “Gov. Strickland Announces Executive Order on Judicial Selection.” The Governor did indeed appoint a panel to make recommendations of candidates to him for gubernatorial appointment of judges to vacant judicial positions. I have a question. Is not the Justice at Stake organization a special interest group?
Many people believe the election of judges should be entirely eliminated. They believe merit selection is the route to go because they believe it will remove politics from the judicial selection process. I disagree. Any panel that makes recommendations of judicial candidates for appointment is composed of people who are themselves appointed by means of a political process. In the current situation in Ohio, the panel is appointed by the Governor who is himself a politically partisan elected official. Why on earth would anyone think, even for a minute, that a politically partisan elected official would not consider politics in making the appointments to such a panel??? It’s all politics, any way you cut it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

OHIO: Lucas County Democratic Party and Unity

This is a long entry. I hope you have the patience to read it all. If not, then you are not the type of person to be reading this Roland Hansen Commentary blog anyway.

By now, you would think I would have learned that everyone is an expert when it comes to politics. That is especially true for those anonymous persons who comment on electronic message boards, forums, and blogs. Just ask them; they have the answer to everything, or at the very least they will tell you that the people involved in politics are all corrupt or something along those lines. They’ll tell you what a candidate is doing wrong, even though they have never worked on a political campaign. They will condemn or criticize political parties, even though they have never been an active participant in a political party (other than voting, that is, even if they do that much). I strongly suspect those people do not even understand what a political party is all about, let alone know about platforms and planks of a political party.
Yes, indeed, the naysayers are the experts. Not me! Heck, what do I know? Apparently very little according to the “expert” anonymous political commentators I have been reading. Sarcasm intended. I must add that I do admire and respect a few anonymous political commentators who have demonstrated their credibility and their knowledge.
For those who might read this but are unaware of some of my background, I’ll give you just a quick short glimpse of me. I have a long and interesting history of involvement with Lucas County politics that spans approximately 36 years now. Along with that extensive personal involvement, I have taught political science classes at the University of Toledo and at Owens Community College. I am also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society and a member of Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Public Administration.

Now, let’s get to the topic at hand. But first a little background.
There has been schism, fractures, in-fighting, feuding, public squabbles, divisions, and the like within the Lucas County Democratic Party over the years. Disagreements and in-fighting are natural aspects of almost any and all organizations; but, the problems that have ensued in Lucas County over the most recent years resulted in two separate organizations for a couple years, both of which claimed to represent Lucas County Democrats.
The serious difficulties began approximately a decade ago. It was when the Lucas County Chairmanship went to a former “Independent” who had been the Campaign Manager of an Independent Mayoral candidate just a couple years previously. That Chairperson (Paula Ross) brought in some new people, which in itself was not bad, but became problematic because long-time Party activists were concurrently being excluded (including yours truly).
After a few years of that person’s leadership, there was a coup that resulted in a new Chair (Sandy Isenberg) who lasted one year, and then another new Chair (Jack Wilson) who also lasted one year, and then another new Chair (John Irish) who also lasted but one year. With all those persons, there were some attempts at bringing all Dems into one big family again. None succeeded.

Flash forward to the present.
On August 9, 2007, Ron Rothenbuhler was elected as the new Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman by the Lucas County Democratic Party’s central committee.
It was on August 16, 2007 that I stated on Glass City Jungle, the local political blog of the ever-efficient and knowledgeable LisaRenee and one of the best and most credible political blogs in all of Ohio: "I, myself, think that the efforts being made in the local Democratic Party should be considered as honest and sincere. Unless there is any FACTUAL information to the contrary, I welcome getting back to what the Democratic Party is really all about. I would also like to see the local Republican Party have a rebirth. Regardless of the doomsayers and critics of political parties, a strong two-party system is a very intricate part of our political system and of our country.”
The next morning, on August 17, I made this comment on Glass City Jungle: “I predict that the Lucas County Democratic Party will come together on a united front in the not-too-distant future.” Later that same day another poster wrote: “Roland, perhaps you have some of that magical powder mud mentions and could drop it off at 1817 Madison tonight!” to which I replied: “I have no magical powder. I only have 36 years experience in the local political arena. I stand by my prediction.”
It was on August 27 that I attended the press conference called by Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler. Later that same day on GCJ, I wrote: “I was quite impressed by the Lucas County Democratic Party Press conference today. There is no way a person can truly realize its importance and impact unless the person was there personally to see the variety of people and hear the conversations and cross-conversations. I suspect the media will not provide sufficient coverage in such a way as to effectively communicate the extremely positive ramifications that may result from this renewed effort at Democratic Party unity in Lucas County.”
I have been frustrated for decades with local political neophytes who seem to think that the City of Toledo is one and the same as Lucas County. Consequently, part of another comment I had made concerning that press conference was that it “included the Mayor of Maumee, Maumee councilpersons, the Mayor of Oregon, Oregon Councilpersons, the County Clerk of Courts, the County Recorder, the County Treasurer, all three County Commissioners, and many others.”
None-the-less, the local “expert” anonymous political commentators zeroed in on situations with the Democrats on Toledo City Council and on the fact that several of the county-wide elected officials had at one time served on Toledo City Council.
While I do understand the frustrations some people may have with some elected Democratic Party officeholders, I do not agree with painting all Democrats with one broad brush.
I repeat here what I have written elsewhere. The local Democrats of the Lucas County Democratic Party are not just the folks on Toledo City Council, or the people who live within the City of Toledo. Local Democrats consist of ALL LUCAS COUNTY Democrats.
There is more to the Lucas County Democratic Party than what some media would have you believe. There are also many Democrats who are elected officials in Lucas County.

To my chagrin, when the topic of the Lucas County Democratic Party was again brought forth on GCJ on September 3, I thought there was another undue intermingling of Toledo City Council politics and the renewed consensus building of the Lucas County Democratic Party. The reason I formed such an opinion was due to its headline "Democrat Vs Democrat Or Unity At Last?" and the inclusion in the following text of the phrase "the future on the unity between two factions of the Lucas County Democratic Party" along with linking to a newspaper article entitled "Toledo city Council chief, mayor have history of enmity."
I placed the following comment in reply: “If the topic is about unity of the Democrats throughout Lucas County and the Lucas County Democratic Party, then my response is unity is indeed in the process of coming together. If on the other hand, the topic is about Toledo City Council, my response is that there will always be differences. Toledo City Council IS NOT the LUCAS COUNTY Democratic Party. The Democrat members of Toledo City Council are indeed individuals. UNITY does NOT equate with GROUPTHINK. Nor does Toledo City Council equate Lucas County Democratic Party.”
Part of a response to my posting stated “other candidates and former candidates outside of Toledo had and still have some concerns.” And in another response, once again it was brought up about the politics of Toledo City Council and the fact that some Lucas County Democrats holding office today were once on Toledo City Council.
To which I restate here what I stated there: “I understand that of which you are speaking. I do not disagree with you. As some folks are aware, I have been an outspoken critic of several of those same things to which you allude. However, I am looking beyond the high visibility offices and situations that get the bulk of public attention.
In addition to Toledo City Council and County-wide elected officials, my perspective regarding the Lucas County Democratic Party also takes into consideration other local elected officials such as in: the cities of Oregon, Maumee, and Sylvania; the villages of Ottawa Hills, Waterville, Whitehouse, and others; the various township trustees and township clerks, and the numerous Boards of Education. From what I have been able to observe and collaterally ascertain, it appears that the elected Democratic officials and candidates of all these areas are coalescing within the Lucas County Democratic Party. I’ve also observed the outreach efforts to rank and file Democrats who had been ignored, castigated, or ostracized in the past.
Those things of which I mention have not received media exposure and coverage. I am seeing things and hearing things that are not in the every-day public eye.

BOTTOM LINE: The renewed efforts at unity within the Lucas County Democratic Party began less than one month ago. I have personally observed and experienced some of that which has taken place within this brief period of time. I doubt the anonymous “experts” can say the same. Instead, they tend to rehash the personal concerns that while important are not relevant or germane to the structure, procedures, policies, and processes of a political party. Of course, the outreach effort has not yet reached everyone and everywhere throughout Lucas County. Be realistic, people. The process of bringing forth unity within the Lucas County Democratic Party does take longer than one month.

I stand by my prediction. I predict that the Lucas County Democratic Party will come together on a united front in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Total Makeover for Public Education

Isn’t it about time that we Americans abandoned the archaic system of primary and secondary public education in our country that we have been trying to fix with band-aides for many, many decades? Do you realize that there are thousands and thousands of public school districts throughout the United States? Rather than fixing the American public education system, a total restructure is in order. Let’s have a total makeover.

There are a wide variety of school systems throughout the United States because each state has its own system of public education. The reason for that is because public education is the responsibility of each and every one of the 50 State Governments rather than the responsibility of the National Government. Yet, many people expect the President and/or the Congress to do something about our schools and the whole system of public education. If people want the Feds to address public education, then we really should consider an amendment to the United States Constitution requiring the National Government to establish a national system of public education. I would favor that approach, but I bet you that idea would be met with staunch opposition.

However, I do have an alternative suggestion for at least overhauling K – 12 education here in Ohio. Let me begin by making some comparisons. Amongst the many different State systems of public education, I draw attention to those of the three states of Ohio, Florida, and Hawai’i.

In Ohio, there are 723 school districts consisting of 190 City districts, 60 Educational Service Center districts, 373 Local districts, 1 Municipal district, 49 Exempted Village districts, and 49 Joint Vocational districts. While the State of Ohio also permits Joint High School districts, there are none at present. In my opinion, that’s just way too many school districts. Take a look at the website of the Ohio Department of Education.

The State of Florida has hundreds upon hundreds of fewer school districts than does its Ohio counterpart. In fact to be more exact, Florida has 655 less school districts than Ohio. Did you do the math? Yes, that’s correct. Florida has just 68 school districts. The reason for only 68 districts is because Florida Public Schools are structured on a countywide school district system. That seems much more manageable and efficient than Ohio’s system of 723 distinct school districts. Give a look-see at the website of the Florida Department of Education.

And then, there is the State of Hawai’i. The paradise state goes it 67 better than Florida. Yes, you read that correctly. The State of Florida has 67 more school districts than the State of Hawai’i. Huh? Yes, indeed, that means there is only one school district in the entire State of Hawai’i. One. That’s right, ONE — a single, statewide district on seven islands. That seems even more efficient than the 68 public school districts in Florida. Visit the website of the Hawai’i Department of Education.

Which all leads me to my suggestion regarding the overhaul and restructuring of the State of Ohio public education system for grades K through 12. Ohio could go to a state funded, statewide school system that would be administered at the county level with the county administrative superintendent paid a salary based on the county size as we do with other county officials. We would save money just on the economy of scale issue. Think how much money could be saved on textbook purchases and educational supplies alone if all were bought on a statewide basis rather than by 723 separate entities. Think about how much money could be saved by having one school system with one administrative entity and one overall administrative cost versus 723 school treasurers, and 723 school finance offices, and 723 purchasing offices, and 723 human resources offices, and 723 transportation departments, and 723 food services departments, and 723 curriculum committees, and 723 —– well, I think that’s enough to give a picture.

With a statewide, county administered system that would include citizen advisory committees and utilize sited-based management, we could practice economy of scale, families would have wider choice of schools, movement within the state would not be disruptive to the student, etc.

But first, people need to get over their feudal school turf protection mindset.