All posts by Camp Director

Important Prayer Request- Update

Prayer RequestOur Chairman, Dr. Mark Hamilton, is still in Cleveland Clinic fighting an infection that is keeping him from being placed on the liver transplant list.

We ask you to pray that the Lord guide the doctors in treating the infection and that He intervene directly in bringing Mark to a place where the doctors can do his transplant.

We also ask that you pray for Mark to have the will, strength and stamina to fight off the infection and quickly recover from the transplant.

Many thanks in advance for your prayers.

From The Will Of The People To The Will Of The Judiciary In One Easy Step

RadarAfter months of fraud tinged effort and at least 1.5 million dollars of sex shop, out-of-state pornography producer and strip club money spent by high-price Columbus political consulting firms, the effort to get the Community Defense Act (CDA) to the ballot for an up-or-down vote has failed. The final valid signature rate for the effort hovered somewhere around the 28% mark, a dismal performance by any standard.

The signature drive began with a group of buxom young strippers dressed in matching tight pink t-shirts, called the Dancers for Democracy (dubbed the double D coalition by one wag) holding a press conference. At least one Ohio State Senator, Teresa Fedor, stood in solidarity with the strippers and spoke at the press conference. Fedor later demonstrated gross hypocrisy by feigning shock and outrage that strippers had performed at a Lucas County Democratic Party fundraiser. The Dancers for Democracy, in reality a front group for the strip club owners, quickly faded from the public eye when it became clear that the women were a public relations nightmare. The PR guys just couldn’t sell wives and girlfriends on the “right to lap dance” as a women’s issue. Attempts to make the drive a grass roots effort never caught on. The public knows that strip clubs are often the central point for crime activity in their neighborhoods, especially as gateways for prostitution and human trafficking, and didn’t want them to continue unregulated.

Contrast the anti-CDA signature drive with other true grass roots efforts. In 2004 the successful Marriage Protection Amendment drive delivered valid signatures at a rate well over 50% and cost a fraction of what the anti-CDA effort has cost (so far). The vast majority of signatures were collected by volunteers, with a relative few collected by paid petition passers in contrast to the anti-CDA effort which utilized mostly paid gatherers, some making as much as $3 per signature! In short, the group who led the effort to repeal the CDA, the No On Issue 1 Committee (the Committee), simply could not match the efforts of a highly motivated group of volunteers with the help and support of a few donation-funded grass roots social issue groups with a swarm of paid signature gatherers hired and coordinated by high-priced professional electioneering consultants and using fraudulent collection methods.

Having failed to spark a groundswell of support for unregulated sex businesses with the general public, it should have been clear to the Committee that, unless mass confusion could be created among voters (and make no mistake that this was part of the plan. The Committee made a $5 million media buy before the signature drive failed), Issue 1 would go down to a resounding defeat at the ballot box. This does not appear to be the case, at least at first glance. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch on Thursday, October 18, 2007 two lawsuits have been filed in a last-ditch effort to get Issue 1 to the ballot. But the Committee seems to be torn regarding their approach, and for good reason.

First, even if the case in the Ohio Supreme Court, requiring that all signatures with bad addresses and those not returned by the deadline to the Secretary of State’s office succeeds, the issue faces the probable ballot box drubbing mentioned above.

Second, and this is what really makes the attorneys for the Committee sweat bullets, is the fact that the governing federal circuit courts of the federal district courts that are hearing the Committe’s suit on the bill’s constitutionality have already approved more stringent regulations in this circuit as well as other circuits. Citizens For Community Values (CCV) has listed several such cases on their website. This option looks like a low-percentage bet as well but could tie up the law for up to 2 years.

So which way should the Committee go? Well, the federal lawsuit angle has the potential to tie the law up for the longest length of time, thus maximizing the profits to the clubs. The Ohio ballot box option appears, currently at least, to be the act of a sadistic equestrian necrophile- beating a dead horse. Follow the money. Chances are a token effort will be made in the ballot access but the real effort will on the federal suit.

The people, having proven to be an “unenlightened” lot, at least on the issue of unregulated stripping and sex businesses, cannot be trusted to understand what is good for them and for society. Therefore, at least as far as the club owners thinking goes, it’s time to flout the will of the people and go to the only remaining remedy, a group that has proven itself capable of seeing things the way the pornographers and sex businesses do from time to time. The federal judiciary. And so we see that having failed to stir the will of the people, the Committee must rely on arousing the will of a potential champion of their “rights.” From the will of the people to the will of the judiciary in one easy step.

Legislative Invocations- Another Whiff For The Dispatch

Prayer RequestIn an editorial in the Columbus Dispatch on Friday October 12, 2007, the editorial writers reveal a glaring double standard in dealing with questions of religious expression vs. any other expression. The sub-headline for the article speaks volumes “Keeping invocations at Statehouse proper ought to be easy (emphasis added).” Just what does “proper” mean? According to the Dispatch editorial writer it means free of any meaningful pleadings to the Almighty.

According to the Dispatch

Conducting prayers before legislative sessions just shouldn’t be this difficult. The Ohio House of Representatives’ guidelines are clear: The prayers should be nondenominational, nonsectarian and noncontroversial, avoiding political issues that are facing the lawmakers.

Pastor’s shouldn’t ask for the intervention of God to guide legislators in dealing with complex issues before them? Then what’s the point of prayer at all? At the risk of alienating first amendment ambulance chasers like Jay Sekulow, who say absurd things about the “establishment clause” proving that the founders of the United States promoted and practiced “ceremonial deism,” we would point to Benjamin Franklin’s call for prayer at the Constitutional Convention in May 1787 as a model for what pastors should pray for.

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move–that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service– .

Does this sound “nondenominational, nonsectarian and noncontroversial, avoiding political issues that are facing the lawmakers?” And this plea for meaningful prayer comes not from a bi-vocational pastor or a “wild-eyed religious fanatic,” but arguably one of the least devout members of the Constitutional Convention. It contains two biblical references; Psalm 127:1 and Matthew 10:29.

What the Dispatch is calling for, in fact, is censorship. And they say so in so many words. We triple-dog dare anyone to suggest that some books with explicit scenes of debauchery should not be made available to kindergarteners at local or school libraries. Any person making such a suggestion would face the editorial long knives of the Dispatch editorial board who would scream at the top of their voices (or type at the top of their wordprocessors?) about “censorship” and proclaim it un-American. Only in the case of clergy offering public prayers is censorship proper by the standards of the Columbus Dispatch.

In order to bolster its weak case for continued censorship of prayer, the Dispatch continues to misreport the circumstances which ignited the current controversy. They have repeatedly claimed that “…a Lima-based minister made multiple references to Jesus Christ, spoke in favor of church-sponsored schools and mentioned the state regulation of strip clubs, an issue before the General Assembly.” Not really. The pastor invoked the name of Jesus Christ (as have several other pastors, in violation of the awful policy), asked for protection of the right of freedom of thought and religion and gave thanks for the right to continue to have church operated schools and asked for God’s guidance to the legislators on similar issues including the issue of regulation of adult oriented business. He did not “speak in favor of church-sponsored schools” as the Dispatch alleges. You can hear the prayer in question here. Not exactly as advertised, is it?

The Dispatch writer waxes eloquent about clergy practicing “wisdom” and “common sense” in delivering invocations. Though the editorial writer couches it in terms of enlightenment rationalism, what he is really demanding is that Christian pastors who understand the biblical definition of folly- that “…the fool says in his heart that there is no God…”- get to the back of the bus, sit down and shut up. In other words, Christians who actually believe that God exists and that His Son Jesus Christ is King and Lord of all including government and public policy are second-class citizens whose silly beliefs make them, if not irrelevant, dangerous. In this latter point we agree. Christians who understand that Christ is truly Lord of all are dangerous, at least to those who approach public policy with a reliance on man-centered humanistic rationalism, devoid of reliance on God’s authority or any absolutes. We think the first chapter of the book of Romans explains the situation quite well-

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22 NASB)

Frankly, any Christian pastor who would deliver a Christless invocation, which is a plea for guidance and blessing from the Father for legislators, in order to please the powers that be is at least guilty of hiding the Light of Christ under a jar (Luke 8:16). Christ did not speak favorably of this and, in fact, says that His Light is impossible to hide permanently.

We would be the first to condemn any kind of denominational or sectarian imprecatory rants on the floor of the Ohio Legislature. Calling on Christ to intercede with the Father for guidance and wisdom for elected representatives on both general and specific issues, as Christians are taught to do in the Bible, is clearly not in this class. The Dispatch needs to back off and so does Speaker Husted.

Voter ID Law Commentary- A Critical Analysis Exercise

A commentary printed in the Toledo Blade on Friday September 28, 2007 titled “Voter ID laws are solution to a problem that doesn’t exist” is an interesting exercise in critical analysis. The author, Marilou Johanek, employs a veritable cornucopia of logical fallacies to make her point that is obvious from the article’s title.

The subject of the article is, of course, arguable but the arguments provided in it are not convincing in the least. The opening argument is a good example-

For years, decades, generations even, we operated just fine without voter ID laws and without rampant voting fraud. But after the shameful outcome of the 2000 presidential campaign, politicians, primarily Republican in nature, embarked on a crusade to ostensibly clean up crooked elections.

Ms. Johanek, gives the impression that before the year 2000 the country was a virtual electoral paradise and no voter fraud that would warrant asking voters to prove who they were before being permitted to practice what is probably the greatest responsibility a citizen can perform. Apparently she is not familiar with such vote theft hall-of-famers as “Landslide Lyndon” Johnson, whose Senate career was made with a stuffed ballot box from Alice TX in 1948, or Mayor Richard J. Daley whose Chicago political machine made the phrase “vote early, vote often” a not so funny national joke. Many researchers believe that Richard Daley delivered enough stolen votes (many of them long dead) in the 1960 election to give John F. Kennedy the Illinois electoral college votes and the election. Perhaps Ms. Johanek is unfamiliar with the Pendergast machine which got Harry Truman elected first to a judgeship and then to the Senate. Perhaps she doesn’t recall from American History the antics of New York’s infamous Tammany Hall machine. Or the electoral shenanigans in New York that probably re-elected Abraham Lincoln (though this one is more obscure) where Republicans and Democrats had to vote with different colored ballots and Democrats, easily identified because of their ballot color, were prohibited from casting their ballots by federal troops. The list goes on and on and almost as many ways of stealing elections have been tried as there are election thieves. Most of them include voters who vote multiple times under multiple identities.

That being said Ms. Johanek then engages in the repetition fallacy by vaguely insinuating that the 2000 presidential election outcome was fraudulent, calling the outcome “shameful.” Why is this repetition fallacy? The case that the 2000 presidential election was stolen was put to rest some time ago. Even New York Times reporters packed up and went home when it became obvious after numerous recounts, official and unofficial, that Albert Gore lost the 2000 election by losing the Florida vote. No matter what you think of George W. Bush as president, this is an undeniable fact. Yet tendentious journalists repeatedly imply or declare that the election was stolen from Gore. As Dr. Goebbels said- a lie told long and loud enough, squelching all opposition, eventually becomes the truth. A shining example of the repetition fallacy

So why the veiled accusation and what exactly does the term “Republican in nature” mean? It is an attempt to impugn the reputation of Republicans and “their ilk” (whatever that may entail) by linking them to election theft and create an us vs. them mentality about the issue at hand (a declaration of the superiority of her own position and those who agree- the snob appeal fallacy). The argument is also an ad hominem attack and a red herring argument, not to mention an appeal to fear.

Having drawn undiscerning readers and those who already share her flawed electoral presuppositions into her home arena, Ms. Johanek feels free to play fast and loose with with the facts regarding voter ID laws. She implies that these laws are a Republican conspiracy to “… affect election-day turnout by folks who notably skew Democratic…” For proof, the author tells us that “…many of the states now requiring voter identification at the polls went Republican red the last presidential election…” Ok, if true and there’s no attempt at verification in the article, so what? We are told that “In many cases, GOP-controlled legislatures passed laws signed by Republican governors stipulating the paperwork voters would need to produce in the future before they could vote.” How many of the 28 states who passed voter ID laws were red states and how many blue? We have no clue from the article. We only know that “many” of them were passed by the Republican conspiracy to rob Democrats of votes. But wouldn’t even a single Democratically controlled state passing a voter ID law negate this theory? After all, why would Democratic legislatures and governors sabotage their own parties’ efforts, disenfranchise their constituents and rob themselves of votes? In fact, doesn’t this blow holes in the theory posited in the argument that “…forcing registered voters to submit documents before voting may intimidate some citizens…?” Are we to believe then that Republican-controlled states passed voter ID laws to steal elections but Democrat-controlled states passed them out of principle? In the light of these questions the case for a conspiracy, specifically a Republican conspiracy, to disenfranchise begins to look like the haphazardly constructed house of cards that it is.

There are some truly absurd arguments planted throughout this article. For instance we are told that “Even though Indiana has never prosecuted anyone for voter fraud, it enacted one of the toughest precautions against voter fraud in the country.” This is yet another unreferenced assertion in an article filled with them. Indiana has never prosecuted a voter fraud case? In many states, Ohio included, county prosecutors bring fraud cases filed by local election boards. So has anyone been prosecuted for the type of voter fraud at which the law is aimed? A quote from the recent 7th Federal circuit Court of Appeals decision tells the tale. The actual decision says “…as far as anyone knows, no one in Indiana, and not many people elsewhere, are known to have been prosecuted for impersonating a registered voter…(emphasis added)” Not quite as concrete as we were lead to believe by Ms. Johanek. Apparently, no one has done an exhaustive search of the prosecutorial records to verify this question. Reporting this as an absolute proven fact is disingenuous and an example of the equivocation fallacy. That fact is bolstered by another quote from the decision.

The plaintiffs argue that while vote fraud by impersonation may be a problem in other states, it is not in Indiana, because there are no reports of such fraud in that state. But that lacuna may reflect nothing more than the vagaries of journalists’ and other investigators’ choice of scandals to investigate. Some voter impersonation has been found (though not much, for remember that it is difficult to detect) in the states that have been studied, and those states do not appear to be on average more “dishonest” than Indiana; for besides the notorious examples of Florida and Illinois, they include Michigan, Missouri, and Washington (state).

Furthermore, the low number of prosecutions is explained in the next paragraph of the decision and the explanation is a powerful argument for the need for voter ID.

But the absence of prosecutions is explained by the endemic underenforcement of minor criminal laws (minor as they appear to the public and prosecutors, at all events) and by the extreme difficulty of apprehending a voter impersonator. He enters the polling place, gives a name that is not his own, votes, and leaves. If later it is discovered that the name he gave is that of a dead person, no one at the polling place will remember the face of the person who gave that name, and if someone did remember it, what would he do with the information?

We disagree with the majority decision that this is a “minor criminal law.” Ms. Johanek needs refute this rather understated but important argument in favor of voter ID requirements for her arguments to hold water.

Another glaring example is an explanation of what Johanek thinks plaintiffs in the suit need to prove-“Their only hope lies in the high court asking Indiana for evidence that not only is voter fraud a legitimate reason for the voter ID law but that impersonating a registered voter in the state is so serious a problem that it demands a remedy.” Honestly, it is doubtful (but considering the current state of the court, not impossible) that the justices would ask Indiana if they really thought voter fraud was a crime that needed to be deterred by threat of prosecution. Equally inane is the proposal that the justices ask questions about whether voting under a false name is really all that bad. Of course it’s that bad. It is ironic that people who fulminate with outrage at an election allegedly stolen by voting machine malfunctions (long since disproven) are so nonchalant about votes being stolen by crooks voting under false identities.

Johanek attempts to appeal to the readers sense of nostalgia to show that the ID requirement is overreaching.

When I first went to the polls as a registered 18-year-old voter, all I had to do was sign a poll book where a photocopy of my name was kept on file for comparison. For 30-some years, I’ve done the same thing, often before the same people at the same polling place.

She actually weakens her own argument in this case. Many of us have had the same experience of seeing the same poll workers year after year. Many of them are elderly and some of them clearly don’t have great eyesight anymore. Will it be easier for these folks to see a photo ID? Not necessarily, but it does reduce the odds of getting away with voting under a phony name. According to the majority opinion “Without requiring a photo ID, there is little if any chance of preventing this kind of fraud because busy poll workers are unlikely to scrutinize signatures carefully and argue with people who deny having forged someone else’s signature…” Anyone who has voted in a “big” election knows the truth of this statement.

Ms. Johanek dutifully repeats the Democratic talking points about Democratic voters being the primary victims of the law. She even quotes from the 7th Circuit majority opinion that stipulates to that. Of course, she fails to mention that the reason that this is stipulated to is to provide standing to the Democratic party, which allows them to continue the suit. Without standing the suit would have to be dismissed or, at least, the Democratic party dropped as a plaintiff. Wouldn’t you think that if there were some vast Republican conspiracy to rob the Democrats of votes through the judicial process the justices would simply dismiss the suit on the basis that the claim that the voters who would be deterred from voting by the law would be mostly Democratic is bogus?

Instead, the justices chose to acknowledge the truth of the claim and weigh that fact against other factors which affect how voter behave. They chose to look at whether or not the potential for stolen votes outweighed discouraging the unknown but presumably tiny number of voters who will allow themselves to be deterred. It is interesting to note, according to the decision, that not one of the plaintiffs in the case was someone who would be deterred from voting by the photo ID requirement. In fact no one knows how many would actually be deterred by the requirement and no reliable testimony to the number was offered. One of the most important factors in the majority opinion upholding the law was a lack of a single plaintiff who would be deterred from voting (though the justices stipulated that it would happen) and a lack of any concrete evidence that it would be more than an exceedingly small number of voters.

One of the most interesting quotes from the majority opinion regards the motivation of the Democratic Party in this particular suit.

No doubt there are at least a few such people in Indiana, but the inability of the sponsors of this litigation to find any such person to join as a plaintiff suggests that the motivation for the suit is simply that the law may require the Democratic Party and the other organizational plaintiffs to work harder to get every last one of their supporters to the polls. (emphasis added)

To look at this point another way, are the Democrats not now being hoist by their own petard? Since the 2000 elections, the Democratic talking points have included stolen elections, fraud and vote theft by Republican election officials using fraudulent and faulty voting equipment, etc. Is it any wonder that having spent nearly 7 years creating paranoia within the voting ranks with apocryphal tales about stolen elections, like the article being analyzed, for instance, some potential voters have become discouraged from voting? Why bother voting when those evil Republicans are just going to steal my vote anyway? Now, having been presented with a law designed to reduce fraud, these same paranoid voters only see these measures as further evidence of election theft, further enhanced by this kind of lawsuit, and stay away from the polls, forcing Democrats to work harder to get voters out to vote.


Starting an article with a false scenario and using that scenario to justify the the liberal (pun intended) use of ad hominem arguments designed to bring the choir being preached at to a resounding crescendo of emotional response is not the way to convince the non-converted to the justice of “the cause.” Are there legitimate questions around the voter ID issue? Yes, lots of them. Some of them involve whether or not we live in a democracy with universal suffrage or a republic with more restrictive legally defined voting requirements. Some of them involve the Constitution and how far the federal government can go in restricting state voting regulations. The 15th amendment outlaws racial discrimination and Article I § 4 allows Congress to set the time, place and manner of how the election for its own body can be conducted by law but does not allow it to dictate who may or may not be an elector and how that elector’s qualifications can be determined. That responsibility is left to the states. Some of them involve who should and who should not be permitted to vote and whether that those who would be deterred from voting by the simple presentation of a state issued photo ID card are competent to vote.

Like a building built on a poor foundation, an argument based on a false premise must eventually collapse. And collapse this argument does, in a spectacular fashion. Had this question been approached in a less tendentious and more logical fashion, the arguments presented from that approach may have carried more weight. Unfortunately, the author chose a blatant emotional appeal over a reasoned argument and so has surrendered the opportunity to seriously impact the debate.

When Is Enough Not Enough- Update

RadarAn article in the Columbus Dispatch is helping connect the dots on the fraud-riddled campaign to kill the Community Defense Act (CDA), a law which puts restrictions on what dancers and patrons can do at strip clubs and also (finally) gives some power to local authorities in rural areas to pass effective local restrictions. A group known as the Vote No on Issue 1 Committee (the Committee) is using every legal maneuver in its bag of tricks (and its a very big bag full of tricks and illusions designed to fool the public as noted in earlier blog articles) to get more time to gather signatures for its effort to get its referendum to the ballot.

The Dispatch reports that attorneys for the committee are trying desperate maneuvers to get a few extra days of signature gathering time. They have sued to change the signature gathering deadline from Friday October 5, 2007 to Sunday October 7, 2007, an additional 2 days and really 4 days since the Secretary of State’s office is closed on Sundays and Monday is a holiday. The judge, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Horton, has refused to issue a temporary restraining order but is holding a hearing at 9:00 AM on Friday October 5, 2007 for an injunction.

Why are we concluding that desperation is behind these efforts? The Committee is arguing for just 2 more days (really 4) using an almost unbelievably vacuous legal argument. Attorneys for the Committee are arguing that an additional 10 day window for meeting the signature minimums required for ballot access (a standard practice) began not when the Secretary of State sent the letter but when representatives of the Committee received the letter. What makes this argument absurd you ask? First, because the letter is a formality. The Committee has known for some time that they weren’t going to make it. They didn’t need the letter from the Secretary of State to know that. Secondly, because the Committee never stopped collecting signatures after it turned in the original batch in September. They have had weeks to gather the nearly 400,000 they will need, if the previous valid signature rate of 31% holds, so two more days probably won’t make much difference if recent scuttlebutt proves true. And that scuttlebutt says that signature gatherers are having trouble getting people to sign. A lot of trouble. The bad publicity from earlier petition fraud has now caught up and is stifling additional efforts to gather signatures. People want to avoid being defrauded or being involved in fraud. The Dispatch reports that as of Tuesday October 2, 2007 the Committee had only added 150,000 additional signatures to their total. Assuming a 31% validity rate thats less than 47,000 valid signatures towards about 116,000 necessary. Pretty dismal.

An article in the Dispatch from Tuesday October 2, 2007 says that the Craig Group is “…no longer is collecting signatures…” a polite way of saying they’ve been fired. The article also says they were paid $1 million dollars, a million bucks (!), to get the job done. Who wonders out there if the check has cleared or even if it has been cut yet? Frankly, it is difficult to believe that any group that condones petition fraud by turning in signatures gathered under false pretenses wouldn’t also hesitate to stiff the people hired to get the signatures. Oh, yes and where exactly has all of the money to run the referendum campaign come from. Preliminary reports say that about 75% of the millions spent so far have come from out of state pornography producers. Nice allies, eh?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line on all of this is that, despite the bad news coming out for the Committee we must assume that this issue will be on the ballot. There are still lots of legal tricks and shenanigans available to the strip club executives and pornography producers behind this effort and the Secretary of State has proven to be at least “friendly” to the Committee, perhaps due to her husband’s cozy relations with the strip club owners.

So here it is-

On the November 6 ballot the ballot initiative will be Issue 1.

If you want the CDA law which regulates strip club and adult business hours and activities to take effect you must voteYES

If you want strip clubs and adult businesses to continue to operate unregulated you must vote- NO

If you care about this issue- GET OUT AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6!

I’ll Love You Forever, Respect You In The Morning, And Call You Later, I Swear!

Commentary By Chuck Michaelis

Those of us who grew up in the ’70’s can’t help but remember several rock ‘n roll classics. One of these memorable classics is Meat Loaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Light. What does this song have to do with principled public policy, you might ask?

Well a quick look at an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (PD) should make it clearer. On Saturday July 21, 2007 they ran an article titled Medical Mart sales tax hike would be limited to 20 years.

Let’s see who’s paying attention. What’s wrong with the headline? That’s right, it’s a “temporary” tax, and will “only” last for 20 years. Now you’ll pardon this writer’s cynicism about oxymoronically named “temporary” taxes. And you may have something of a point. After all, a temporary telecommunications tax instituted in 1898 to help defray the costs of the Spanish-American War was eventually ended- in 2006. Originally 1 cent per call, it grew to be 3% of the total phone bill before Congress realized that the Spanish-American War had been over for nearly 108 years, only lasted 3 1/2 months and resulted in the acquisition of the Phillippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Caroline Islands, thus actually paying for itself. So granted, it was technically a “temporary tax.” On the other hand, who remembers Ohio’s “temporary” two-year 20% sales tax increase of 2003? Feeling the mounting pressure of a coming election, the Ohio GOP leadership engineered a “tax rollback” to only a 10% increase in 2005 before making the change permanent. So much for a “temporary” increase.

Of course, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate and current Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan (whose 2002 gubernatorial platform included a statewide tax increase, thus making him the only honest candidate on taxes in that race) “promises” that the temporary nature of the tax will be in the resolution approving it. Who, in twenty years, will remember that this proposed sales tax increase was only temporary? And even if someone does, how long will it be before someone in Cuyahoga county government declares that the tax must be kept to pay for “necessary services” whose continued funding is “critical?”

The proposed 0.25% increase in the Cuyahoga county sales tax is, of course, a boondoggle corporate welfare scheme. It provides a private showcase for its goods to a privately held for-profit corporation who has made a very nebulous pledge to do it’s best to bring a few medical conventions to a permanent convention center to be built by the county for its benefit. No real promises, mind you, but they’ll try real hard in exchange for the $450 million (!) taxpayer dollars required to construct this monument to fraud and waste. Why isn’t this corporation building its own showcases? Why would it if gullible city and county leaders can be hoodwinked by pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by “pledges” like this one to do it for them? If Cuyahoga county voters allow this to be passed without some type of taxpayer response it can truly be said that while Cleveland may rock, it certainly cannot think.

The Cuyahoga county taxpayers will find themselves in the same situation as the male singer of the Meat Loaf rock classic whose final regretful lament is-

So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!

Because ’til the end of time is about how long they’ll be dealing with that tax increase.

Chuck Michaelis is the president of Rocky Fork Formulas, Inc., a dietary supplement design and distribution company. He is also the Executive Director of Camp American, a week-long summer Christian worldview education camp for ages 12 years to adult. He is currently the Vice-chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy. You can contact him at [email protected]

Report From Ohio Family Lobby Day

Every year in the spring, a coalition of Christian family policy groups come together to sponsor Ohio Family Lobby Day (OFLD). This year it took place on Wednesday April 25. More than 60 people participated in this year’s event including my wife and two of my three children. Sponsoring groups included The Institute For Principled Policy, Pro-Family Network, Ohio Christian Alliance, Family First, Homemakers For America, Citizens For Community Values, Center For Bio-Ethical Reform and many others.

The purpose of OFLD is really four-fold. First, the participants get practical experience in meeting and speaking with their elected representatives. This is absolutely necessary if Christians are to have influence in making state and national policy. Second, the participants learn the best way to be persuasive in speaking with lawmakers. It is imperative that Christians develop cordial working relationships with lawmakers coming from a variety of perspectives and political parties. Third, Christians learn the details of bills which impact their families, churches, jobs and lives. Being aware of what legislators are working on is necessary for all families, if they are to have the impact on the culture that the Christian faith mandates. Fourth, important information is returned to Christian policy groups regarding where representatives stand on legislation that they believe to be crucial to their efforts.

The OFLD participants were divided into teams of four or 5 members. Several teams had whole families as members. My own team consisted of my wife and youngest daughter, two delightful pro-life Christian activists and me. I was appointed a team leader. My oldest daughter was placed on another team. The OFLD organizers made appointments for each team with legislators. Registration began at 8:00 AM and the group opened with prayer slightly behind schedule, a little after 9:00 AM. Following this was a short instruction on lobbying followed by briefings on several bills that the group would be concentrating on.

Among the bills the group was working for were SB-16, the Community Defense Act (CDA) already passed by the Ohio Senate and now pending in the Ohio House, a continuation of abstinence education which Governor Strickland has stated he will not continue; SB-20, the Adoption Tax Credit Increase already passed by the Ohio Senate and now pending in the Ohio House; continuation of the Ed Choice Scholarship program in the budget process and charter schools, which Governor Strickland wants to end or seriously curtail; HB-47 and HB-123, two bills which would end the attempts to tax churches in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and prevent this from occurring in the future. The group also was instructed on opposition to HB-81, The Mandatory Gardasil Vaccination Bill, support for the Covenant Marriage Bill (not yet numbered), seeking co-sponsors for the Personhood bill and opposition to the Prevention First Act.

Our team met with two state Senators and had appointments with three state Representatives. Due to the State of the Judiciary speech followed immediately by House session, we met mostly with aides of the lawmakers and unfortunately, one of the representative’s aides was taken ill and so our team’s appointment was canceled. Appointments lasted about 15 minutes and each team leader tried to make sure that any team member who had something to contribute to the lobbying efforts was given the opportunity to speak. I have had some limited experience and did most of the talking, but all of my team-mates also made important contributions to the effort. Only my daughter Stephanie had very little to say, she’s only 12, but she did manage to charm her way into a tour of the Capitol and she was very attentive to what was being said and done by the adults.

A fine lunch was provided as part of the cost of registration. The lobbyists-in-training were treated by a talk from Representative Bill Batchelder who asked us to not let our lobbying efforts be a once-a-year event but that we continue our work throughout the legislative session. We also were treated to a surprise speaker- former Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, who gave a very inspirational talk on our efforts to have an influence in policymaking.

Between meetings some team members took advantage of the opportunity to watch the legislative process in action from the galleries while others took the time to explore the Capitol’s many historical displays, or to study legislative talking points.

At the end of the day, the teams were asked to fill out a de-briefing form which asked important questions regarding how the lobbying efforts were received, what legislative efforts the lawmakers supported and which ones they opposed. Thus invaluable information was gathered about which representatives support or oppose important bills and give insight on their approachability on future efforts.

My family’s OFLD experience was very positive. As a homeschooling parent, we believe our children gained a priceless lesson on how policy-related things are done, they got to see their parents in action trying to make Ohio a better place to live and they got experience in how to do the job themselves in the future. My oldest daughter thinks she might like to work in the state legislature, something she had never thought about before. This was well worth the registration fee. Come join us next spring and bring the kids!