Category Archives: Public Policy Principles News

AG Dann Awakens From Stupor!

He’s shocked-SHOCKED, to find gambling going on in the establishments! Croupier with a stack of money muttering “Here are your winnings, sir” brushed aside.

gamblingOK, OK! We know. It’s a famous scene from Casablanca. Inspector Louis Renault, looking for a diversionary reason to close down Rick’s Cafe Americain after being ordered to “find an excuse” by Major Strosser, his Nazi puppet master, utters this infamous phrase. And no, we aren’t accusing the Attorney General of accepting bribes. Campaign contributions from gambling interests, perhaps. Bribes, no.

The bottom line is that Marc Dann has made a sudden and complete u-turn in his agency’s policy on gambling devices. Trying desperately to repair the sizable hole he shot into his own foot just two short months ago (see our blog articles and the attached news stories here and here), Dann has issued a letter to more than 700 gambling device operators ordering them to cease operating them, according to the Columbus Dispatch on August 22, 2007.

The letters sent by Dann are based on an executive order signed by Governor Strickland which, according to the Dispatch article at least (the monetary payout amount is not stated in the executive order), defines gaming devices that payout more than $10 per win as gambling machines. Why $10 and not $1, $5, $50 or $500? Who knows? The governor may have a reason for setting a $10 limit but it looks completely arbitrary from our vantage point. Former AG Jim Petro, no enemy of gambling interests but aware that Ohioans don’t want gambling, agreed last June saying that the allowance of any payout was an open door for the future. Dann’s bungling of the issue followed by Strickland’s usurpation of the authority to allow gambling payouts props the door open for the possibility of a later upward change in the limit, also by executive order rather than legislative action, after the 2008 election pressure has been relieved. Stay tuned.

As stated earlier, the shot to the foot was fired by by Dann, himself. He toyed with the idea of defining certain electronic gambling devices as “games of skill” if an arbitrarily defined level of “50% skill” were involved in winning the game. Thus, the AG opened the door, and the gambling industry bull has rushed into the china shop. The result has been a nearly overnight proliferation of gaming devices. the number doubling from an already incredible 20,000 to more than 40,000 in three months.

So far, Governor Strickland’s quick political thinking (he is well aware that Ohio voters recently electorally shellacked an attempt by gambling interests to defraud Ohio voters into allowing slot machines at horse race tracks by promising “free college tuition”) has saved Dann from kissing the third rail of casino-style gambling. But the Governor’s quick thinking has not stopped the Attorney General from creating serious credibility problems for himself and consequently damaging the team.

Possibly the most telling and ironic part of the story is a quote from the Dispatch article from the same AG Dann who had declared only last June that these same devices were really games of skill. “In a nutshell, a machine cannot be an amusement machine if it’s also a gambling machine,” Dann said. “It’s as simple as that.”

No kidding.

Be Careful What You Sign


In order to be clear up front we are letting you know the following;

If you favor the implementation of the Community Defense Act, the law which forces strip clubs with liquor licenses to close at midnight and makes it a crime for a non-family member to touch a nude dancer while she is working, then DO NOT SIGN ANY PETITIONS BEING CIRCULATED. Despite what you are being told, THE PETITIONS ARE NOT TO REGULATE STRIP CLUBS THEY ARE TO STOP THE REGULATION OF STRIP CLUBS!

At least two major news outlets are reporting that petitioners collecting signatures for a referendum which would stop the implementation of SB 16, the Community Defense Act (CDA) are lying to voters to obtain their signatures. A front group formed by strip club owners calling itself Citizens For Community Standards began the petition drive shortly after the CDA was passed and allowed to go into law without Governor Strickland’s signature. The CDA is a bill which regulates the operating hours of strip clubs with liquor licenses and creates a “no-touch” zone around nude dancers which effectively prohibits so-called “lap dances.”

Ohio Public Radio reporter Bill Cohen broke the story and filed 2 reports which include audio of the fraudulent collection presentation by petitioners. The first report is Some on petitions to change new strip club rules may be surprised at what they’ve signed. This first report is a review of what the petition drive is all about. Most importantly, it is damning evidence of outright fraud through misrepresenting the purpose of the petition in getting signatures by petitioners. It is clear from the interviews that petition signers do not understand that they have signed a petition which causes the law to not go into effect until a referendum is held.

The second is Strip club owners, “values voters” group react to petition drive to change new rules on clubs. In this report you will hear spokesman for Citizens For Community Standards, Sandy Theis, attempt to explain away the fraud by saying that the issue is “inherently confusing” and that they didn’t “hire lawyers” to take signatures.

The Columbus Dispatch has also run a story titled Strip-club law: Petition collectors deceptive, some say in which they also document clear fraud by petitioners, in which potential signers were told that petitions were to “close strip clubs at midnight.” The article contains another quote from Sandy Theis who says circulators are “not intentionally misleading anybody. We’ve trained and retrained the circulators.” Really? What would you call telling a deliberate lie to get a signature, Ms. Theis? An inoperative statement, perhaps? A serial misunderstanding being repeated throughout the state? What script were the circulators trained on and is it possible that having been promised $15-20 per hour the circulators were finding out that the only way to actually meet those figures was to lie to the public because the other approach got them turned down too often? And what does this say for the prospects of passing this referendum if, by some miracle, the Citizens For Community Standards succeed in defrauding enough registered voters to get the required number of valid signatures? You can’t get that done by asking 14 year-olds to sign, as the circulator in the Dispatch story did.

These questions are only the beginning of what smart journalists should be asking. Why are news outlets treating the cease and desist trademark infringement letter from Citizens For Community Values (CCV, the family values group which got the CDA through the legislature) to Citizens For Community Standards (CCS) as if it’s inconsequential? The Dispatch‘s coverage is typical. They’re calling it the “name game.” But why hasn’t this raised questions in journalist’s minds? In the light of the clear fraud being perpetrated by the petitioners shouldn’t they be at least thinking about why a name so close to CCV’s would have been chosen? Wouldn’t a reasonable person, in the light of CCS activities in collecting signatures, at least consider the possibility that the name was chosen in order to deceive voters into thinking they were signing petitions being circulated by CCV, a group which has a proven track record in successful referendum and ballot issue drives in the recent past?

Another question, in light of the tacit admission by the individual circulators that sufficient signatures cannot be gathered ethically, is why CCS is going through with this dog-and-pony show of continuing to take signatures? Is it possible that is merely a delaying tactic? When insufficient valid signatures are turned in, is it not possible that CCS is counting on using the maximum allowable time before the ballot access deadline for a fall referendum, and that then they plan to drop an injunction stopping the implementation of the law anyway, when the effort is finally ruled to have fallen short by the Ohio Secretary of State? Keep in mind that this tactics could stretch actual implementation of the law into next year! Where is journalistic curiosity in this matter?

Since CCS has stated that there will eventually be legal action taken, it is important that as much evidence of fraud be collected as possible. If you’ve been approached by a petition circulator in the last few weeks and asked to sign a petition that would close strip clubs at midnight, regulate strip clubs, make it illegal to touch dancers, etc. we would like to hear about it. Please let the Institute For Principled Policy know at this email address. There’s no shame in being deceived or lied to. We just need to know.

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Columbus Dispatch

A recent commentary in the Columbus Dispatch is a nearly textbook illustration of the biblical warning that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). In this case the man is a woman, the context of the passage making clear that man is the generic “mankind” rather than the specific gender identifier. The commenter is Ann Fisher and the article is entitled Protest billboards with power of the dollar.

First let us congratulate Ms. Fisher for being right on in some of her analysis. The core of the commentary is about the billboards posted all over Columbus advertising a local radio station with a picture of an abundantly endowed female chest in a sleeveless t-shirt which advises us to listen to their station and “pray for rain”, thus making it a wet t-shirt. Aside from the clear dilemma presented by this advice (asking God to make this woman’s t-shirt wet so that men can act lustfully towards her really doesn’t square with the biblical idea that we should all treat the opposite sex with the respect he or she deserves as the image bearer of the Creator) there is the clear appeal to the prurient interests of travelers which has the potential of creating a serious traffic hazard (if you have seen this billboard then you understand).

Ms. Fisher correctly draws a connection between these billboards and the rather cavalier attitude allegedly exhibited by some Columbus Police officers who are accused of using the billboard as an example for a young woman trying to keep her boyfriend from being arrested. She accuses them of coercing her to expose her chest to them in exchange for letting him go, which she alleges she did, and that they honored her action (after defiling her body and making photographic evidence against themselves with a camera phone). Fisher also calls for a boycott of the station’s sponsors saying that the consumers have the power to make them stop the billboard campaign. More on this later.

But now we come to the rather obvious problems with Ms. Fisher’s addled analysis of the larger picture (so to speak). She says that the billboards and the accused policeman’s activities makes Columbus seem “unsophisticated.” It would be interesting to know how Ms. Fisher defines “sophistication.” She displays a very liberal “sophistication” in contradicting the head of the Lucas county YWCA, Lisa McDuffie who called attention to the plight of local strippers while rejecting the money from strip clubs that the Lucas county Democrats collected from the fundraiser. Fisher writes that “Those women don’t want or need our pity. They were just doing their jobs…” One wonders how “sophisticated” Ms. Fisher’s view would be if it were to be suggested to her that drug dealers and cigarette company executives were “only doing their jobs’ and that it is really those despicable addicts who buy the products that are the real problem. We can presume that the answer would be “not very.” Fisher is also apparently oblivious to the fact that the Lucas county YWCA chief is only too aware of the sad side effects of the sex trade and its connections with human trafficking, a serious problem that the Toledo area is very familiar with. McDuffie was right to refuse the strip club donation profits and she was right to call for Lucas county Democratic leadership to become enlightened as to the reasons why.

It is at this point that Ms. Fisher seems to realize that she is walking a high-wire over a yawning chasm with no net. She sighs aloud that the radio station owners “…correctly wrap themselves in the free-speech portion of the U.S. Constitution…” Correctly? While it is a very “sophisticated” interpretation of the first amendment which says that obscenity (and while the billboards may not meet the technical definition the average viewer will probably consider them to be obscene) is “protected speech.” The framers never intended it to protect pornography, soft, hard or otherwise, vile language or public lewdness. It was designed to foster and protect public debate of political issues. The expansion of “free-speech and expression” protections to lewd behavior and obscenity date back only to the early 1960’s. Why point this out and what makes Ms. Fisher’s call for boycotts of radio stations (media competitors) while creating a convenient artificial shield in the Constitution hypocritical? Because her employer, the Columbus Dispatch, collects money by the virtual wheelbarrow full every year from strip (“gentlemen’s”) clubs, massage parlors, adult toy and book shops, escort services, S/M dungeons, by-the-hour motels, prostitutes, etc. in both column and classified ads. Some preliminary analyses indicate that the Dispatch’s various revenues from the sex trade approach or exceed $1 million yearly. Thus, it’s clear that the donkey is calling the pig “long ears” at the top of its voice. Quite sophisticated, indeed.

Ms. Fisher digs this hole even deeper in attempting to make a hero of Democratic State Party Chairman and State Representative Chris Redfern in the recent Lucas county dust up involving the Lucas county Democratic party golf fund raiser where local strip clubs made party donations and provided strippers as “cart girls.” Again, we see the same pretzel logic with the strippers as demonstrated previously. They are merely plying their trade. It’s the customers who should be the target of our disgust. Everyone involved either denied that the strippers engaged in their trade or expressed outrage that they did so, thus exposing the disingenuousness of the deniers. The Toledo Blade has run a very informative series of stories on this, drudging up a great deal of information and eclipsing other state papers’ dismal coverage of an important story. You can click the links below for details.

Democratic Party treasurer teed off over golf outing’s strippers
Resignation of party boss sought for having strippers at golf fund-raiser
McNamara, Irish spar over strippers
Democrats’ scandal over strippers spills into city committee meeting
Council candidate rejects strip club’s $50 donation
Dems still squabbling over stripper scandal
Party hit by fallout from golf scandal
Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper
Irish resigns as chairman of Democrats over scandal involving strippers
Lucas County Dems’ new leader slams party rivals

But what makes this part of the story so interesting is the lionization of Redfern for threatening to cut off funding for the Lucas county party leadership who allowed the strippers to attend the event when both he and Toledo area State Senator Teresa Fedor voted against SB 16, the Community Defense Act (CDA), a law which regulates strip clubs. Senator Fedor went so far as to stand in support of a group of professional strippers calling themselves the Dancers For Democracy, giving a speech in their support at their press conference. On the floor of the Senate she stood in opposition to portions of the bill that would prohibit customers having physical contact with dancers, the so-called lap dance prohibition. Probably the most laughable quote, one which exposes the utter hypocrisy of Senator Fedor is in the article Lucas County Democratic chief resists calls to resign over stripper wherein Fedor is quoted as having said “…the reported activity of a woman baring her body to some golfers was the last straw for her” followed by a letter to the Lucas county Democratic Party Chairman in which she wrote “Your egregious decision in staffing the golf outing is disrespectful to all women, to Democrats, to Toledo, and to the state of Ohio…” And what of your decision to vote against a bill that would regulate the behavior you pretend to abhor and to stand with women who allow their bodies to be exploited for profit, Senator Fedor?

Apparently both Redfern and Fedor oppose local governments being able to regulate adult business activities but have vowed to enforce a much stricter standard at Democratic party events. This hypocritical demonstration of political logrolling in the guise of mock outrage (read the last 3 articles on the list and you’ll find that the Lucas county Democratic Party ballet is more about control of the party than the strippers at a party event, about which Redfern and Fedor couldn’t really care less if their Ohio House and Senate votes mean anything) show the intricate dance amongst the cow patties that politicians are willing to perform in order to cover their duplicity. And also to what lengths members of the press are willing to go to make the same politicians look like defenders of the Constitution. Especially when they profit from the trade the politicians are working to protect.

By the way Republicans, you shouldn’t feel too superior based on this incident. There are plenty of GOP legislative peccadilloes connected with the passage of the CDA. Had Republicans including leadership in the Ohio Senate not bowed to the tremendous pressure applied by the strip club owners in the 2006 legislative session, the (CDA) would not have required a petition drive aimed at a referendum to force the legislative replacement of the enforcement “teeth” removed by that body.

Finally, Fisher ends her cognitive dissonance tour de force with the following logically sound appeal which she carefully and self-servingly applies only to the radio station billboards but which could just as conveniently apply to the adult business advertising in the Dispatch; “…If they bother you, forget the city, forget the station managers. Go to the sponsors. They aren’t emotionally attached to smarmy, sexist and degrading crap, but they speak profit margin fluently. That’s the American way.” We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to the editorial staff of the Columbus Dispatch for making it crystal clear what needs to be done to solve a growing problem.

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]

Games of Skill? No Chance! Update

gamblingIn an article in today’s Columbus Dispatch (June 20, 2007), Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted called for legislation to ban so-called “games of skill,” reiterating his opinion that “…just because a game is 51% skill does not make it a game of skill…” and also that the move to re-label the games is merely a backdoor incremental approach to legalize the devices. Governor Ted Strickland and Attorney General Mark Dann have called for limiting payouts but Husted isn’t swayed by the arguments for this. He says limiting payouts will not limit losses, which is the bottom line for the gambling device manufacturers, distributors and operators who rely on the long odds for their considerable profit margins.

We can only speculate what effect this will have on attempts to expand gambling through Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s) modified to show archived horse races that are represented in HB 118 and SB 125, currently before the Ohio Legislature.

We applaud Speaker Husted’s stand on principle. Thank you, sir!

Come back for updates. Tell us what you think with a comment.

How To Make A Passage Say What It Doesn’t Say- In One Easy Lesson!

An article in today’s Columbus Dispatch (June 20, 2007) titled Only Adam and Eve? is an interesting exercise in obfuscation. Using techniques that aspiring writers are taught to avoid in Journalism 101, Leviticus 18:22 and Galatians 3:28 are compared side by side.

Homosexuality is wrong. The Bible says so. Leviticus 18:22.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.

But wait. What about Galatians 3:28?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

A powerful argument you say? Well, not really. As anyone experienced in reading any document, especially the Bible, knows quotes and passages pulled out of their context for use as proof texts can make the document say virtually anything. Anyone who has spent time reading the Bible knows that you should never read a verse. You should read the chapter at least and the entire book preferably and, even more preferably, compare the verse to the whole of Scripture.

This simple principle works with reading the newspaper, too. Take, for instance, an article in the same date’s Dispatch called Debit Program Helps You Save On Property Taxes. In this article we read about a woman who “…didn’t want to lend the county her money, and she didn’t intend to face a 10 percent late fee.” But we see that a county official says that “A lot of people really love it,” thus throwing the woman’s concerns into doubt. Why is she worried about early payments and penalties? People love it!

Of course, reading the article in context shows that these two excerpts can’t be interpreted as I have done here. They don’t fit together to paint an accurate picture of what was actually said as I have juxtaposed them. And neither do the two non-contextual biblical passages quoted in the prior article. In this light Galatians 3:28 does not say what the author of the article wants you to think it says.

What do you think? Read the article and leave a comment below.

A Pagan Review Of The New Creation Museum

This article reviewing the new Creation Museum in suburban Cincinnati was found safely and snugly nestled between ads for gay bars, strip clubs, massage parlors, escort services and personal ads in a local Cincinnati Fish-Wrap and Bird-Cage Liner known as City Beat.

You won’t have to read very far for the ad hominem attacks to begin, with phrases like “intellectual molestation,” “fraud” and “ignorance is a form of terrorism” peppered throughout the article. Apparently Ken Ham has struck a nerve and the pagans and atheists are howling and calling for him to be immediatel and permanently silenced by whatever means necessary. Nice work Mr. Ham!

How many logical fallacies can you find being employed by the writer and the scientists?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

A “Creative” New Way To Tax Churches

The Columbus Dispatch has a story today (June 16, 2007) about a new tax imposed on churches in the guise of a $25 annual “permit fee” to allow a church (or other entity, though it’s difficult to imagine who else would use candles regularly) to hold candle light services.

The comments by the various local officials who are clearly uncomfortable and working very hard to “pass the buck” is telling.

Read the article then tell us what you think by leaving a comment.