Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ohio Needs Reform  

[Update 11:20pm: Wow. The full results aren't yet in, but with about 79% of the votes counted it looks like all four of the RON issues got squashed badly. What a shame -- so many Ohioans will be disenfranchised by this, and the state will continue to be mired in economic woes. The current batch of crooks who got us into this mess will continue to rig the system to keep themselves in office. A sad day for Ohio.]

If you live in Ohio, you've probably heard about the Reform Ohio Now proposals that are on the ballot as Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5.

These are at issue in the election on November 8th. That's TODAY! Make sure you get to the polls and vote YES on these issues!

What are these issues about?

I would recommend reading either the summary or the actual text yourself, but in a nutshell:

  • Issue 2 makes it easier for Ohioans to vote by mail. This is a growing trend in voting, since many precincts have lines of up to several hours to vote and many people can't take that kind of time off from work to vote. It's proven successful in other states, and it's long overdue here: Ohio has some of the most restrictive rules for absentee ballots in the nation.

  • Issue 3 puts limits on state campaign contributions. These limits are similar to the McCain-Feingold limits in place for national campaigns. These are designed as a step towards making sure that the super-rich can't have an undue influence on politics.

  • Issue 4 fights gerrymandering. This is what it's called when elected politicians redraw political boundaries to favor themselves. Gerrymandering leads to fractured districts and unfair elections, and is designed to artificially skew the balance so that the politicians elected do not actually represent the true mix of views in the state. In Ohio, many counties are sliced up into two or three different districts, and two congressional districts (OH-5 and OH-18) cover parts of sixteen different counties. Ohio as a whole votes almost exactly 50-50 Republican vs Democratic, but out-of-control gerrymandering has conveniently adjusted the boundaries to disenfranchise voters so that our Congressional representatives are two-thirds Republican.

  • Issue 5 creates an independent panel to administer elections. Right now we have strongly partisan career politicians like Ken Blackwell in charge of oversight for the elections of themselves and their cronies, and they do a deliberately bad job of it -- wilfully disenfranchising thousands of Ohioans in order to push the vote in the direction they want it to go.

Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5 are from the people of Ohio

These issues come from people just like you and me, people who are fed up with the amount of corruption in Ohio. There's a phrase that describes the situation here, where the political machine is making the rules for itself and overseeing itself: "the fox guarding the henhouse". Not surprisingly, that fox has been burying its face in all the eggs it can steal.

Corruption? Our state has plenty. You've heard of Tom Noe, the coin dealer and state Republican crony who got $50 million in unaudited sweetheart investment contracts from the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation, and was disgraced for allegedly embezzling and just outright "losing" up to $10 million of that money. He was recently indicted for money-laundering, accused of circumventing the campaign finance donation limits by giving people money that they would then donate to various campaigns. The hell of it is that the money he used was probably from that $10 million he "lost" of the state's money.

Follow the trail: crony given contract by corrupt Republican officials, crony uses that contract to steal money from the state, crony uses stolen money to make sure corrupt Republican officials get re-elected. It's a vicious circle, and we need a change.

A group named Ohio First has been trying to portray these amendments as coming from "special interests". But they're full of shit -- fact is, they are the special interests. The average donation to Ohio First is $12,941. And remember, that's the average. How many Ohioans do you know that can afford to donate that much to a political campaign? Not even a candidate. A campaign against a couple of amendments. Meanwhile the average donation to Reform Ohio Now is $545. That reflects the large number of small donations (over three thousand and counting) from people like you and me across the state supporting the amendments.

Vote YES on Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5

On November 8th, vote for reform. Vote YES on Issues 2, 3, 4, and 5. While you're at it, I'd suggest voting YES on the following:

  • YES on State Issue 1 -- investment in high-tech and Ohio businesses. Ohio needs to invest and plan for the future, and this seems like a good start.

  • Cuyahoga residents should vote YES for County Issue 6 — funding for Tri-C.

  • Cuyahoga residents should also vote YES for County Issue 7. If this issue doesn't pass, funding for the Cuyahoga County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities will be cut by 60% and many programs that help retarded and developmentally disabled kids and adults will be cut.

Any other Brecksvillians out there? Here in Brecksville we've got Issue 14, which appears to be an adjustment of zoning height restrictions to make it easier to build McMansions in the new developments. Currently each McMansion has to get individual variances, which are almost always granted. I believe this would just make the variances permanent across the board. Personally, I am probably going to vote against it because I'm not in favor of McMansions in general -- they tend to be energy-wasteful and detract from the small-town atmosphere of Brecksville. But given their popularity around here and the deliberately vague wording of the issue, I'm afraid it's going to pass anyway.