Thursday, April 24, 2014

May 6, 2014 ballot: We're Broke

Times are tough all over according to the Sylvania Board of Education.  The Sylvania school system needs more money.  A lot more.  There's only one place to get that money, and that's from property owners in the school district.  Never mind that we're already over-taxed.  What matters is the school system, because it's for the children.

This all came about because of greed and the path of least resistance.  Greed, because if you're on the Board of Education your job is easier and a lot more enjoyable if you can fund some kind of program without cutting the funding for something else.  That way, everyone with their own personal agenda is satisfied and the board members will get re-elected next term.  This dovetails nicely into the path of least resistance because it's a whole lot easier to explain why the school system has no choice but to put another levy on the ballot rather than cut unnecessary services and eliminate extraneous personnel.

It's tough to get solid information about school funding and this levy, but I've found some.  In an article from the Toledo Blade, Sylvania Schools Levy Supporters To Greet Voters At Polls

According to the article, the school system has recruited volunteers to greet the voters and encourage these people to support this brand new levy, which is a 3.8 mill continual-operating levy.  That means that once it's voted in, we can't get rid of it.  There is absolutely no way to get a levy revoked.

What voters don't realize is that up until recently, the State of Ohio was picking up a portion of those property taxes, but as of July 2013 that activity is discontinued.

From the Toledo Blade on Monday, 7/29/2013:

Ohio Cancels Property Tax Rollback - Existing Levies To Get Funding Break, But New Ones Will Not

Many Ohioans didn't realize the state was picking up as much as 12.5 percent of their local property tax bills, one Senate Republican recently said.
Which is very likely the truth.  Most people get sick when they write that check for property tax.  How many taxpayers would take the time to see how the amount is calculated and if it's correct?  Not many, I'm thinking.

Local governments and schools heading for the ballot in November to ask voters to support new or replacement levies will have to tell them that the price tags attached will be higher than they were previously told. The taxpayer will pay the entire tab for any new taxes approved.
Which is only partially true.  Up until I found this article, I hadn't been aware of that particular circumstance.  All I'd heard was the usual mantra about needing more money and how none of this was the BOE's fault.  It was the Federal government, the State, the economy, the falling property values... anything but uncontrolled, irresponsible school spending.  At the root of this is the State of Ohio making cuts to education - except that it isn't.
The recently passed [Ohio State] budget contains $717 million more in basic per-pupil subsidies for K-12 schools over the next two years...
The State of Ohio is continuing to subsidize K-12 education.  That includes Sylvania.

One item that is never spoken of, and I kind of think might be the dirty little secret that the Sylvania Board of Education wants to suppress is the current tax rate.  Information on this is hard to find, but what I did manage to find is worth reading. From the Toledo Blade on Monday, 1/27/2014:

Auditor Gets Sylvania Tax Measure - Schools To Seek Additional $4.9 Million Levy To Avoid Deficit In ’16

The article states that the school system doesn't need the money right this instant, which is what they would have us believe.  No, they say they need the additional money to avoid a deficit in 2016.  In plain English, they say if they don't get more money now, right now, in 2016 they'll be spending more money than they are taking in.  Running in the red, so to speak.  To my way of thinking, this gives them two years to decide just which expenses they'll cut back on.

So how much are we taxed right now?  According to the article:

The Sylvania schools now collect 44.98 mills of operating levies, all continuing.

Compare that to the measly 3.8 mills they are asking for now, and it doesn't seem like much.  It's only an increase of 8.44%, but that's how levies work.  Just increase the tax a little at a time and maybe no one will notice.  Until they try to buy groceries, that is.

We've been through this entire business before.  Again, according to the article:
Its most recent new levies were 4.9 mills each, passed in 2004 and 2011.
Just three years ago a new levy barely passed, and they had to hold a special election to do it.  That levy was supposed to 'stabilize everything', according to the school board.  But now they're back again, asking for more money.

So how much will a property owner be paying?  If your property is worth $100,000.00, you'll be writing the Sylvania school system a check for $4,878.00, and because the State of Ohio is no longer covering a part of your property tax, you'll be paying the entire amount.

There is still a significant portion of retired people in Sylvania, or people who have moved here and are not wealthy.  An extra $5,000 a year goes a long way towards a nice life.  You can forget that, though, and it's because of the school system.  They don't care if you're poor, if you're retired or laid off or have other expense.  Their attitude: Too bad.  Pay me.  Just be thankful I'm not asking for more.

My family has lived in Sylvania for over 50 years, but it's getting to the point where we are being taxed out of our own home, and we're being forced out by an elite cadre of elected officials who don't give one final damn whether we stay or leave, so long as their hog trough is full.

If you would like to write these people and share your views on lower taxes and responsible government, here's a list of email addresses:

Sylvania Board of Education

Jim Nusbaum, President

Julie Hoffman, Vice President

David Spiess

Vicki Donovan Lyle

Stephen Rothschild

Sylvania Township Trustees

John Crandall

John Jennewine

Neal Mahoney

All three turncoats trustees have publicly supported the new school levy, I suppose because it means more money for the government.  Never mind the constituents that have to live with it.  They'll get along just fine.

The real truth is that if this levy fails two things will happen.  One, there will be a special election held at a time when voter turnout opposing the levy is likely to be very low.  Two, there will not be any change in the performance of the Sylvania school system.  Of course you can't convince the school board of that, but it's true none-the-less.

Vote no.  Tell them that they've got enough money already, and that they can learn to live within their means.  Like the rest of us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

So Long to XP

Well, today is the day.  My OpSys is officially orphaned, kicked to the curb and treated like last week's fish wrap.  I'm not worried, nor do I intend to upgrade to anything else.  I've got several layers of protection and I perform regular back ups of my data.

While I'm usually against all forms of government regulation, this might be one area where the government should get involved.  If the Federal Government could rise to the level of mediocrity, that is.  The government might consider forcing Microsoft to support XP for another 10 years or so, but given the past performance of the government... I don't think so.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Being Railroaded

On the morning of May 2, 2013, on her farm in Lambertville, Michigan, Stephanie Sonnenberg swears that she saw two dogs kill two show pigs inside her barn.  Sonnenberg says one dog attacked her, but she was able to defend herself with a wooden board and overpower the dog, holding it for animal control.  One dog is a husky, weighing in at 60 pounds.  The other is a husky mix, weighing about 30 pounds.  The two pigs weigh approximately 100 pounds each.  The two dogs are owned by Janni Juhasz who resides just across the border in Ohio.

By Michigan law, the dogs must be destroyed and Sonnenberg must be compensated for her loss.  Sonnenberg claims the pigs were worth $45,000, or about $225 per pound.  Another source states that Sonnenberg was offered $9,000 ($45 per pound) and turned it down.  These appear to be pretty expensive show pigs.

The first time I read about this insanity I wrote it off as just another filler for the birdcage liner, but then I got to thinking.  Pigs are tough customers and have an irascible disposition.  They are not anything close to Arnold from Green Acres.  If the dogs actually did mix it up with the pigs, why aren't the dogs all torn up?  As it turns out, I'm not the only one asking that question.  Keep reading to see the latest news.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hines Farm to Reopen

Thumbing through the local bird cage liner, I fat-fingered the keyboard and discovered the following:

Historical blues club to reopen
From the article in The Blade:
The original owners, Frank and Sarah Hines, died in the 1970s and Henry Griffin, who grew up near Hines Farm, bought the property in 1978 and patiently worked to restore it over the years.
He continued to host occasional blues concerts in the club, and a yearly blues festival in an adjacent outdoor venue called the Pavilion until his death in January, 2013.
Steve Coleman, the new owner of Griffin Hines Farm, said he knows rumors have been swirling about the legendary blues club near Swanton since his father, Henry Griffin, died more than a year ago.
Steve says he's going to reopen Hines Farm and have it operating by this spring.  There's more information on the web site: Griffin Hines Farm

I like Hines Farm and I intend to make their very first show.  I'm hungry for ribs, whiskey and blues. I wrote about Hines Farm several times.  Here, in The eagle flies... and another article here, Griffin's Hines Farm Blues Club - Revisited. There are plenty of photos so you can get a feel for the place.

Here's a hoist of the morning bourbon glass and a tip of the old fedora to Steve for getting the place open and running again. Here's how!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stand Your Ground and The Bully Pulpit

One way or another I stumbled across Lethal Lessons from Florida, a post on a blog by Jeff Gerritt and sponsored by the local bird cage liner.  For a solid explanation of stand-your-ground law, read Much Confusion Around Both Stand-Your-Ground and Castle Doctrine by Andrew F. Branca.

I wrote a brief response which will probably last until the censors see it, and so was inspired to write a more lengthy response here.  Keep reading to find out why I disagree with Jeff and his anti-freedom agenda.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Foster Care and Violence

You may remember that my brother, Shotgun Bob, has a houseful of critters to include three or four dogs and an equal number of cats.  He also has a wife, The Girl, and a son, Albert.  You'd think this would be enough to satisfy, but The Girl wanted to stay in the foster care business (Albert is the result of foster care) so Shotgun Bob acquiesced for reasons I neither know nor care about.  The latest foster care child is a 13 year old boy we'll call Dim.

Things went along pretty smoothly for six months or so, then yesterday Shotgun Bob found out just what had been living in his house.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Robert Burns Dinner 2014 - The Review

I first attended a Robert Burns dinner in 2012; I wrote about it here: Robert Burns Dinner in Review. The Burns Dinner is held at Barley's Ale House, an excellent restaurant which I reviewed here: Restaurant Review: Barley's Ale House No. 2.

Somehow or other, and I'm not sure just how this happened, we missed the Robert Burns dinner in 2013.  I know - heresy,  heresy, devil worship, witchcraft, no new taxes and other unspeakable perversions.  To which I say: Bite me.  I made it this year, and to atone for this incredible faux pas I'm posting a much longer review than I'd planned, along with interesting pictures of a few notable guests and staff.

Keep reading to see what you missed at the Fifteenth Annual Robert Burns Dinner and find out why you should attend next year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Robert Burns Dinner 2014 - Hospitality

I would be sorely remiss if I failed to thank my brother Big Mike for his excellent hospitality.  Should you ever be so fortunate as to be a guest at Big Mike's house, know that he feels a great deal of responsibility for your personal comfort.

Keep reading for a few highlights and photos.

Robert Burns Dinner 2014 - Road Trip

On Friday afternoon I packed my bag, put my car under me and headed South on US 23 with a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation of an excellent weekend.  I was going to enjoy three days of my brother Big Mike's hospitality and the Robert Burns Dinner at Barley's.

Keep reading for a restaurant review and general highlights.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Another Government Screw Up

On February 12, 1989 Dennis McGuire killed Joy Stewart and her unborn baby.  On Thursday, January 16, 2014 McGuire was executed by lethal injection.  By all accounts McGuire spent about 14 years in the justice system, ended up on the go to Jesus cart with a needle in his arm and took 25 minutes to expire noisily from a botched execution.

The citizens of Ohio should be marching on the State Capitol with torches and pitchforks, tar and feathers and effigies of every single elected weasel in State government.  They aren't, and here's why along with a nice diatribe on why they should.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pain, Sweat and Hose Draggers

If you think being a fireman (firefighter? fireperson?) is anything close to easy, here's a post that is required reading for you: Pain, Sweat and Grunts. The author is a retired fireman and has produced a very high quality photo essay about one training session involving the fire department and Pops, a bigger dummy than I am.

Well, a dumber dummy anyway.  Do yourself a favor and read this one.

Curtis Reeves and Chad Oulson Shooting

Curtis Reeves is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Chad Oulson.  You can read all about this story in any number of places.  Here's one that better than most - From CNN: Dad'S Texting to Daughter Sparks Argument, Fatal Shooting in Movie Theater, By Steve Almasy.

People are astounded by this, and in retrospect, arm chair quarterbacking it all the way, I'm not.  Keep reading to find out why, with the usual foul language warning coupled with a standard politically incorrect and unpopular opinion disclaimer.