Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

Commentary for 2023 July thru September

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TAXPAYERS SPEAK LOUDLY AT THE VOTING BOOTH

Saturday, September 9, 2023

After Tuesday’s September 5th Auburn Township Trustee meeting, we checked out a story that recently aired on WKYC that involved overcollection of a city income tax. Although similar but not quite the same as the Auburn Township problem or the Geauga County budget debacle, the resolution clearly demonstrates the voters had their day.

The tax mistake

See the short video clip below from WKYC.

 

When Rittman Finance Director Matt Bubp found the mistake in 2022, he couldn't believe it. No one in the administration believed it.

Before going public, Law Director Matt Simpson told residents at a January forum that the city had to verify the problem existed.

The 1.5% income tax rate was on the books for 45 years — since 1977 when voters approved the 0.5% increase.

But when a 1996 city tax code change was implemented, the expiration date on the income tax increase slated for 2007 was never copied over, Simpson explained.

When 2007 came around, no one in city administration knew of the expiration date as it only existed in the original 1977 document, he said.

The mistake resulted in roughly $8.8 million in extra taxes that should not have been collected in the 15-year period from 2007 to 2022.

Once the problem was verified, the city came up with a plan of action.

That action, Simpson acknowledged, was unpopular. The city would refund the 0.5% income tax overcharge for 2022 alone, in line with the Ohio Revised Code.

To prevent such an oversight from happening again, the city said, it will work with the auditor, finance and law departments to make sure best practices are being followed and internal controls are in place.

The resolution

For Bubp and City Council, the budget needed to be tweaked to make up for the loss of revenue in 2022. While no major changes took place, without a 1.5% income tax rate, Bubp said, cuts will be made in future budgets.

To remedy the loss of taxes revenue, a municipal income tax was placed on the Special May 2, 2023 ballot.

Rittman voters shot down the additional 0.5% income tax that would have resumed the 1.5% rate the city had operated on since 1977.


TEMP-JOB DOWNTURN IS BAD NEWS FOR ALL

Monday, September 4, 2023
S. T. Karnick | The Heartland Institute

Signs of an economic retrenchment in the United States are multiplying. The federal government and Federal Reserve are suppressing the production of goods and services by the private sector, which will decrease economic output and the national quality of life as measured in economic terms.

The latest sign of an impending downturn is the ongoing reduction in the number of temporary jobs.

The Fed and the Biden administration have been highlighting unemployment, which is low, at 3.5 percent – exactly where it was in February 2020, right before the pandemic lockdowns cratered the economy. The Biden administration and congressional Democrats see the low unemployment rate as a vindication of their record-setting spending spree, and the Fed sees low unemployment as a terrifying prospect of upcoming inflation.

They are both wrong. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator of economic changes, not a leading one. Both the boasting and the fearmongering are unjustified.

The number of jobs for temporary workers is a very different story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says “falling temp jobs have been closely connected to trends in the business cycle,” meaning they can signal an upcoming recession, notes Mises Institute Executive Editor Ryan McMaken at the organization’s website.

That appears to be true in the present case.

The number of jobs filled by temporary help services (THS) has been decreasing throughout this year. “THS growth turned negative in December 2022 and as of July has been negative for seven months in a row,” McMaken writes.

The decline has been accelerating and is now ominous. “THS jobs in July were down 4.7 percent, which is the lowest since 2020 and is comparable to what we saw in the months before the beginnings of recessions in 1990, 2001, and 2007,” according to McMaken.

The BLS notes that a decline in THS employment preceded the unemployment increase in those three recessions by six to 12 months.

This is a strong indication that the U.S. economy is weakening. The BLS states, “when the economy contracts, flexible labor arrangements provided by temp agencies allow firms to scale down their operations readily and without the added expense of separation pay or having to let go of their best workers.”

Furthermore, “average weekly hours of all employees have been declining also,” McMaken writes. That means companies are reducing total work hours without having to lay people off, which will save them on severance costs now and training costs later. They are preparing for an economic slowdown.

Attrition – people leaving the workforce for one reason or another – is reducing employee rolls further. The number of Americans not in the workforce has been rising steadily since the year 2000 as the Baby Boomers age out. In addition, an important reason the reported unemployment number is currently low is that the federal and state governments are increasingly paying people not to work: the trendline for the rise in federal transfer payments (government social benefits to individuals) is now well above what it was in January 2020. The rise is even steeper when you add in state and local transfer payments.

Businesses don’t need as many workers as they did previously– a sign of economic decline – but they are reluctant to lay people off, because they know it is difficult to get new employees to sign on. They are carrying workers they don’t really need and are cutting their hours to avoid having to find new people later.

That is no sign of a healthy economy, nor of an overheating one.

Another important data point is the yield curve: the difference between the interest rates paid on long-term Treasury bonds (10 years to maturity) and short-term ones (three months). The yield curve inverted before each of the seven recessions since President Richard Nixon ended dollar convertibility to gold in 1971. When the yield curve inverts, it means people are seeking safety in long-term bonds because they are expecting near-term trouble with the economy. They are always right.

Since 1978, the average lag time between yield curve inversion and the inevitably ensuing recession has been 12 months. This time, the yield curve inverted in October of 2022 – 10 months ago. In July, the yield curve inversion reached its biggest extent since 1981 – which hit 11 months before a long and deep recession.

These and other recent economic news items are distinct signs of an unhealthy economy made sick by government. The only cure is for the federal government to reduce spending and lower taxes and regulation – and significantly – as that is the one proven method of growing an economy.

As always, Biden gives us no cause for optimism in that regard.

S. T. Karnick is a senior fellow and director of publications for The Heartland Institute, where he edits Heartland Daily News and writes the Life, Liberty, Property e-newsletter.


INFLATION REDUCTION ACT POLICIES NEED FIXING, NOT CELEBRATING

Sunday, September 3, 2023

This week, the Biden Administration released the first ten medicines that will be subject to price negotiation. These negotiations are possible thanks to the key components in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that was passed last year. While it’s easy to think that this will save money, the hard fact is that it probably will not save patients money at all and will actually hurt the drugs that are in development. That is why when the drug list was announced, we saw headlines like “A Tragic Day For American Patients” and “Today is Not A Day To Celebrate.

The healthcare system in this country surely has its issues. At the same time, having worked with patients from 72 countries, we can say that there is no better country for healthcare anywhere. Anyone who has had a surprise medical bill, has been denied coverage, or had sticker shock at the pharmacy counter can certainly testify about the financial toxicity of healthcare. Instead of picking on one industry, the Administration would be wise to sit down with insurance companies, hospital systems, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to tackle healthcare costs in a way that puts a patient’s well-being first and profits secondary. But with the release of these ten medicines that will be “negotiated”, it’s obvious that the powers-that-be are picking on the very industry that provides the groundbreaking cures upon which patients rely.

The basic truth is that research and development is important if we are to see advancements. That is true in everything from aerospace to alternative energy to drug development. The Biden Administration has made the “Cancer Moonshot” program a major building block in their health care policy, but with the Inflation Reduction Act, they’ve essentially blown it up on the launchpad. To reach their goal of saving four million lives in the next 25 years, there needs to be innovation and breakthroughs in the way we treat cancer, but there needs to be funding and revenues available to get there. One of the drugs on the list to be negotiated is an innovative blood cancer medicine. That particular drug (ibrutinib/IMBRUVICA) has transformed patient care in CLL, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and has also been approved in Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) extending the lives of many blood cancer patients. Would ibrutinib have reached and remained in the market if there weren’t the significant investment and resources poured into its clinical development over nearly two decades? I think we know the answer.

That is why we cannot look at this policy and think that it’s a realistic solution to lowering drug prices. So what is the solution? Let’s start with the pharmacy benefit manager industry. PBMs are just middlemen who use every trick in the book to increase profits and leave patients out in the cold. That is why Congress has an array of bills out there to tackle the PBM industry. While none has passed yet, the fact that they are out there shows that our leaders are quickly realizing that it is the most realistic way we could see lower drug prices and lower out-of-pocket costs. The Inflation Reduction Act does not help patients. It simply shifts the money away from research, development, and innovative new technologies in treating diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. If the IRA--and in particular its small molecule penalty, which jeopardizes ongoing research and development going forward--is not rolled back or fixed, then the next wave of life-extending cancer therapeutics is in serious jeopardy. Those transformative and ever-more tolerable oral drugs simply won’t be developed.

Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly have the opportunity to put the patient voice in their policies. Now that the serious problems of the Inflation Reduction Act are coming into focus, I hope they will turn their attention to fixing the legislation so that we aren’t asking ourselves in twenty years “Where did all the cures go?”

Marcia K. Horn, JD is CEO of ICAN, International Cancer Advocacy Network, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, specializing in cancer patient advocacy and research advocacy since its founding in 1996. Phoenix-based attorney Sidney M. Rosen, JD is ICAN’s Founding Chair Emeritus with a focus on global patient advocacy and access issues.


GEAUGA BUDGET COMMISSION (WALDER. HITCHCOCK, AND FLAIZ) ID’S AUBURN TOWNSHIP ‘S 2024 FISCAL BUDGET AS “MOST IMPROVED”

Monday, August 21, 2023

In spite of finding revenue in Auburn Township’s Road and Bridges Account (the one that makes Auburn road improvement possible) erroneous by about $103,000, the tri-member Budget Commission found the time and encouragement to shower Auburn Township’s brand-new Fiscal Officer with genuine praise and admiration.

Those of us Auburn Township residents who have witnessed County Budget Commission reviews of township fiscal budgets year after year have not been surprised in the past to identify flaws in township budgets besides Auburn, Chester, Newbury, and Chardon Townships.

When Fiscal Officer Matsko appeared solo before the Budget Commission at 2 pm on Monday, he was without any Trustee moral support. Ironically, two of the current three trustees have been re-elected multiple times. Even the most recently-elected trustee, Eugene McCune, was an incumbent during the late 1990s- early 2000s, accompanied by Auburn’s clerk Dennis Squire, followed by Squire’s successor, Susan Plavchan. During that period of time, Mr. Matsko was totally involved with operation of the Auburn Township Volunteer Fire Department.

The first words of praise from Auditor Walder were, “Good job cleaning up a tough mess! You got a lot done in a very short time. We don’t know how you were able to do it. You must have worked around the clock!”

Although FO Matsko could have assumed a boastful demeanor, he maintained his humility and willingness to give credit to other individuals. “I didn’t do this on my own,” as he identified individuals who had offered time, encouragement, and understanding to help him along the way.

Thank you, Dan, for your dedication and hard work for Auburn Township.


“NEED TO GET OUT OF 470 CENTER STREET” AND “LACK OF PLANNING THE FIRST TIME” RESULT IN “NO ACTION” TAKEN IN EXECUTIVE SESSION

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

After cancellation of the Tuesday, August 15 meeting calling for an executive session to discuss plans to deal with 35 acres relevant to their current “purpose of considering the purchase of property for public purposes and the sale of property at competitive bidding,” we notice a lack of purpose as Commissioner Spidalieri was identified as “traveling.” We note that the three commissioners appear to be divided in purpose and/or objective in the midst of pre-Geauga County Fair doldrums.

We remind Geauga residents that the regularly-scheduled Commissioners Meeting of August 29 has been canceled in preference to the “public showtime” session on Thursday, August 31, at the Geauga County Fair. In spite of the showtime gala at the fair, the Commissioners received the bad word yesterday that their 2024 Annual Budget did not pass muster and remains in limbo as of this writing.

 

In response to oral concerns about accounting balances on the 2024 Budget during Public Comment time, Commissioner Dvorak acknowledged the public County Budget hearing set by the Budget Commission for 1:30 pm; Commissioner Clerk Christine Blair acknowledged complications in holding any special public meeting during that scheduled time period.

The Budget Commission has offered to work with the Geauga County Commissioners to resolve any last minute discrepancies and/or errors but the final day for the County to submit an acceptable 2024 Budget will be August 30, 2023.

There will be no public Geauga Commissioner meetings during the week beginning Labor Day, September 4, and ending September 8. The next public Geauga County Commissioner Meeting will occur on September 13 unless some other snafu gets in the way.

In 2022 the Geauga Park District became the subject of similar Budget Commission concerns when the GPD 2023 Budget was ruled unacceptable.


WHAT A DIFFERENCE A MERE WEEK MAKES AS ALL LOGIC FALLS BY THE WAYSIDE. . . BUT FORGET ALL THIS GOVERNMENTAL TRANSPARENCY AND HAVE A GREAT TIME AT THE 2023 GEAUGA FAIR !!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

On Tuesday, August 8, 2023,Geauga Commissioners’ reactions left us with total disenchantment. Assistant County Engineer Shane Heijer gushed over state funding. Acting Water Resources Director Nick Gorris seemed enchanted by possible NOACA financial approval down the road. Soft-spoken County Administrator with possible other conflicts of interest related Geauga Hospital’s hand-out for any “unused” ARPA County funds/credits.

Perhaps Tim Lennon pulled off the coup de gras as he wordlessly shook his head in in response to Spidalieri’s latest search for campaign re-approval rally. As if that subtle difference of opinion had gone unnoticed, Dvorak noted Chardon City’s cluster housing preferences were clearly outside the jurisdiction of Geauga County Commissioners .

That was just a week ago. . .

At approximately 10 am, on Tuesday, August 15, as a relaxed and unusually audible County Administrator sat up in one of the county’s high chairs, attendees puzzled over the growing probability of meeting cancellation. . New Assistant County Administrator Linda Burhenne sashayed up to the massive front desk to get a handle on things at least twice.

Those in attendance dared to wonder whether the lack of a quorum half-an-hour late was a deliberate attempt to stonewall any Executive Session (Agenda Item #13) “for the purpose of considering the purchase of property for public purposes and the sale of property at competitive bidding all pursuant to O.R.C. 121.22 (G)(2).”

At last Spidalieri noted that because of lack of a quorum, the meeting was officially canceled in the midst of loud personal conversations among those gathered to present the county’s business. At last, attendees learned that Commissioner Dvorak, though in the County Administration Building, was somewhere unsuccessfully trying to stop an incessant nosebleed and would soon be transported to Geauga Hospital.

Responding to the question of the number of County meetings that had been canceled in 2023 because of lack of quorum, Gerry Morgan noted to this writer that he felt no panic if Commissioners were forced to cancel 4 meetings in the summer.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting is Tuesday, August 22 at 9:30 am. Because of many balls being thrown in the air simultaneously the August 22 meeting appears to be a jaw-buster because the regularly-scheduled meeting for 9:30 am, Tuesday, August 29 has been canceled so that the Commissioners can glitter the Junior Fair Stage on Thursday, August 31, at 10 am. We expect a whole lot of showmanship and nice-nice behind the curtain. Enjoy the fried ice-cream and the cotton-candy and all the campaigning.

If readers are interested, the next possibly genuine Commissioners meeting won’t surface at least until Thursday, September 7, but stay tuned for the next carnival show under the Big Four Ring Circle.


GEAUGA COMMISSIONERS MEETING OF AUGUST 1, 2023

August 2, 2023, updated August 3, 2023

In one of the shortest Geauga County public meetings on record, Geauga County Commissioners rubber stamped eight agenda items and permitting Ralph Spidalieri to signal adjournment with a second from Jim Dvorak. Commissioner Lennon appeared to scratch the surface regarding the creation of two Contract Coordinator positions in the Maintenance Department and to $3.5 million in carryover funding within the Lake-County based “Geauga Department of Health.” No motion to table any motions pending a more-thorough examination of inaudible or incomprehensible oral testimony. At 9:55 am, all three Commissioners chose to rubber-stamp their approval of an expanding county bureaucracy.

Debby Ashton, filled in again for Finance Director Adrian Gorton, who will apparently be returning to his position on Tuesday, August 8. Commissioners appeared to acknowledge Gorton’s expected return after a 3-week hiatus with an inside joke.

When it came time for County Administrator Gerry Morgan, to address Lennon’s concerns about creation of extra administrative Maintenance positions, that the average voter would categorize as Expanding Bureaucracy, his voice dropped off into the surrounding aether. The two new Contract Coordinators that Glen Verdienk seeks were finally identified as Contract Coordinator With Focus on Projects and Contract Coordinator With Focus on Service Contracts, effective August 1, 2023, at undisclosed salaries. Pressed for an audible, accountable, explanation, Morgan’s voice simply dropped off into the aether, and Lennon simply accepted the the concept of TWO (count ‘em, voters!) CONTRACT COORDINATORS, who might find themselves screwing the same bulb into the same socket at the same time. With this kind of unchecked growth of internal bureaucracy, how long might it take to bankrupt the taxpayers who keep the Golden Goose alive?

Agenda Item #5 read,

“The Geauga County Board of Health is requesting the Board acknowledge receipt of the Certificate of Estimated Property Tax Revenue from the County Auditor for the Public Health .2 Mill renewal.”

Accompanying Lake-County-based Geauga Department Administrator, Adam Litke. Lake County Health Commissioner, Gary Graham, offered no introductions or oral testimonies. In fact, it took a request from this citizen co-editor of auburntownship.org for Mr. Graham to identify himself as a Lake County administrator. Did Mr. Graham travel all the way from Mentor just to lend his silent influence so Geauga voters might approve a .2mill renewal on Tuesday, November 7?.

The citizen-editors have recorded Geauga County Commissioner events via live video footage since 2011. If the two multi-term INCUMBENT Commissioners seeking yet another term, had been in favor of providing Transparency with an OFFICIAL video, they would have continued that directive. If the Geauga Commissioners choose to be honest, they must acknowledge the public OFFICIAL videos of County Commissioners all over Ohio, including none other than the Commissioners of Lake County.

Under targeted questions from Lennon, Litke acknowledged that the $600,000 from Geauga County collected from the .2mill renewal would offset $757,912 collected in advance for “sanitary” services.

But according to Mr. Litke (see video below), it will take $2.5 million of the public’s tax funds to make it possible to initiate the refunds beginning in August, 2023. Wait a minute, folks. Is this this the left hand asking for yet another “cash advance” to return illegally-collected fund? Are we supposed to believe that the county Ponzi scheme will fade into the dust and never, ever happen again if only the voters will buy in and rescue everyone from complications from Covid (2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022)? Ironically, the Lake-County based “Geauga Health Department” acknowledged the presence of a $3.5 million carryover.

 

What financial information are voters on a fixed incomes not being told? This interlude took a total of six minutes of the entire 25 minute meeting.

Newly-appointed administrator, Linda Burhenne, observed without comment from the left side of the room. After the 9:55 adjournment, she acknowledged that she was unable to hear or comprehend the negative impacts of poor acoustics, defective sound transmission. In addition, there remain unresolved issues about an Interagency Agreement with Laketran of Lake County approved in March 2023 and subsequent addenda that may raise more questions. Perhaps the most obvious solution is for Spidalieri and Lennon restore Official Geauga County Commissioner video recordings (The Board of Lake County Commissioner meetings will be accessible to the public via the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5z4YajVK8fUW2B7UVO6Vmw/live ).

These citizen co-editors remember the clean, succinct observation offered by writer/critic Oscar Wilde. “The Bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the Expanding Bureaucracy.”

When you vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2023,

STAMP OUT THE EXPANDING BUREAUCRACY OF GEAUGA COUNTY!


ENERGY INDUSTRY FEARS WHITE HOUSE WILL DECLARE COVID-LIKE 'CLIMATE EMERGENCY'

Monday, July 31, 2023
By Addison Smith

Some energy industry groups are expressing concern that the White House will declare a COVID-19-like emergency—but for the climate instead.

"They're leaning to that direction," U.S. Oil and Gas Association President Tim Stewart told Just the News in an article published on July 30. "If you grant the president's emergency powers to declare a climate emergency, it's just like COVID.”

An emergency declaration on the climate could give the president “vast and unchecked authority to shut down everything from communications to infrastructure," said Mr. Stewart, who has been a critic of the Biden administration.

Infrastructure around water and electricity could be affected by such a decision, he said.

“They can literally do exactly what they did in COVID,” Mr. Stewart said. "If you disagree with the climate emergency, [speech] can be shut down. We really need to be paying attention to that because that power could be extended indefinitely until the ‘climate emergency’ is over. Who knows how long that would last."

President Joe Biden and other administration officials have said that the United States and the world are in the midst of a "climate crisis" and have used language describing it as an emergency. So far, Mr. Biden has stopped short of declaring an emergency, although some Democrats and environmental groups have pushed the idea.

About 60 congressional Democrats recently backed legislation known as the "Climate Emergency Act of 2021," sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), that would require the Biden administration to make a climate-related emergency declaration.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres released an alarmist message saying that "the era of global warming has ended” and “the era of global boiling has arrived.” Using adjectives that included "terrifying," Mr. Guterres said U.N. member states "must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition."

A number of legacy media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, have floated proposals such as purposefully implementing an "occasional blackout" to "help solve climate change." A Guardian article published last week calls on the Biden administration to "declare a climate emergency" and states that it "must do so now."

Mr. Stewart recently said the LA Times article and similar reports are part of a "propaganda war" that's designed to "condition the public to think people it is their duty to the State to be miserable, cold, and hungry."

"It wasn’t too long ago that even posing a question like this would be considered preposterous even from Democrats," he said. "After all—one of the defining problems of Third World countries is the lack of reliable energy infrastructure and supply."

Amid relatively high temperatures across the East Coast last week, the White House sent out what it described as the "first-ever" heat wave hazard alert for people working outside.

“President Biden has asked the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue the first-ever Hazard Alert for heat, and DOL will also ramp up enforcement to protect workers from extreme heat,” a White House fact sheet released on July 27 states. “For years, heat has been the number one cause of weather-related deaths in America."

At the time, Mr. Biden’s announcement came as about 40 percent of the U.S. population was under heat advisories, according to the National Weather Service. As of July 30, the hot weather was mostly relegated to the southeastern United States, the agency stated.

The largest power grid operator in the country also issued an emergency alert, which ended on July 28, because of high demand.

“PJM has issued these alerts to help prepare generators for the onset of intense heat,” the grid operator said. “A Hot Weather Alert helps to prepare transmission and generation personnel and facilities for extreme heat and/or humidity that may cause capacity problems on the grid.”

"Temperatures are expected to be near or above 90 degrees in these regions, which drives up the demand for electricity."

Notably, data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that some of the hottest heat waves in the United States occurred in the 1930s and particularly in 1936. At the same time during that same decade, the Dust Bowl occurred, greatly damaging farmland across the central United States while sparking a mass exodus of farmers to Southern California that inspired author John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath."

Earlier this year, PJM released a report that suggested that state and federal policies to de-carbonize the grid are “[presenting] increasing reliability risks during the transition, due to a potential timing mismatch between resource retirements, load growth and the pace of new generation entry.”

De-carbonization of the grid refers to the reduction of fossil fuel usage and greater reliance on solar, wind, and hydroelectric power sources.


IRS WHISTLEBLOWER ACCUSES DOJ OF ‘OBSTRUCTION’ IN HUNTER BIDEN PROBE, DEMANDS SPECIAL COUNSEL

Saturday, July 29, 2033
By Tom Ozimek, Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

IRS whistleblower Joseph Ziegler accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of obstructing the tax probe into Hunter Biden and called for the appointment of a special counsel to look into what he alleged were “deficient investigative steps and improper decisions.”

Mr. Ziegler, an IRS special agent, issued the call in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on July 27, a day after Mr. Biden entered a not guilty plea to tax and gun crimes in a Delaware courtroom after the presiding judge refused to accept a plea agreement that Republicans criticized as being too lenient.

Mr. Biden was on track to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to pay taxes and agree to a so-called diversion agreement that would allow him to avoid prosecution on a gun charge if he met certain conditions.

But the deal unraveled, leading to Mr. Biden pleading not guilty and the judge giving both sides 30 days to file briefs addressing her concerns about the structure of the plea deal.

“Hunter Biden’s plea deal on gun and tax charges fell apart Wednesday, most likely because the Justice Department rushed to charge the case and failed to follow standard investigative processes,” Mr. Ziegler wrote in the op-ed.

“I urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel so an independent reviewer can examine what I believe were deficient investigative steps and improper decisions,” he continued, while alleging that DOJ officials “prevented investigators from following the evidence.”

Mr. Ziegler alleged that DOJ officials “prevented investigators from following the evidence” and that appointing a special counsel would “create a path for the investigation to continue with integrity.”

He said that in his more than a decade of work as an IRS special agent, standard operating procedures were followed in every single case he worked on except the Hunter Biden probe.

“We went by the book, and every taxpayer we investigated received fair and equitable treatment,” Mr. Ziegler wrote.

But looking back on his five-year tax investigation into Hunter Biden, Mr. Ziegler said he recalled “many disagreements between prosecutors and investigators,” including around search warrants for Mr. Biden’s residence and storage unit, verification of WhatsApp messages suggesting President Joe Biden as present during business discussions, as well as “delayed or blocked interviews with members of the Biden family.”

“I would characterize the Justice Department’s behavior as obstruction,” he wrote.

While the DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr. Ziegler’s claims of obstruction and calls for a special counsel, Mr. Garland earlier denied any DOJ interference in the case into Hunter Biden’s tax records.

The president has repeatedly denied taking part in any business discussions involving his son.

‘Hamstrung, Limited, And Marginalized’

This is not the first time Mr. Ziegler has accused the Biden administration of interfering in the Hunter Biden investigation.

He alleged in earlier July 19 testimony before the House Oversight Committee that the Justice Department had “hamstrung, limited, and marginalized” the probe.

At that hearing, Ziegler was joined by IRS supervisor and investigator Gary Shapley, with both whistleblowers alleging that the DOJ tipped the scales in the Hunter Biden investigation in part by limiting the authority of U.S. Attorney David Weiss to prosecute the president’s son.

The IRS ultimately recommended three charges against Mr. Biden: a felony attempt to defeat or evade tax charge, making felony fraudulent or false statements, and willful failure to file returns, supply information, or pay tax.

However, despite ultimately recommending two felony counts against Mr. Biden, none of the more serious counts were ultimately executed. Instead, Mr. Biden made an agreement to plead guilty to two lesser tax charges and enter a diversion deal relating to the illegal possession of a firearm, an agreement Republicans derided as a “sweetheart deal.”

Mr. Ziegler said in Wednesday’s op-ed that things reached a “breaking point” for him when he and Mr. Shapley were “sidelined” after a disagreement with Mr. Weiss.

He said that four prosecutors and Mr. Weiss initially agreed to recommend misdemeanor and felony charges against Mr. Biden before “Mr. Weiss ultimately claimed he wasn’t the deciding person on whether to file charges.”

Mr. Ziegler said he decided to blow the whistle when Biden-appointed prosecutors declined to bring forward more serious charges and “refused to allow Mr. Shapley or me to brief them on our findings.”

In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. Shapley provided a similar characterization of the Hunter Biden investigation, saying that obstruction of the probe became especially pronounced after Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee.

In one case, IRS investigators determined that they needed to search a guest home used by the younger Biden and owned by Joe Biden prior to the 2020 election. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf reportedly told them that “there is no way” that such a warrant would be approved, despite stating that there was probable cause.

In another case, the whistleblowers claimed that Mr. Biden’s attorneys were tipped off about investigators’ interest in a storage unit owned by Mr. Biden, allowing attorneys ample time to clear the unit of condemnatory materials.

Mr. Ziegler’s call for a special counsel comes as House Republicans continue to probe the Biden family’s overseas business dealing, arguing that there are possible national security implications to payments from foreign nationals.


DOCTOR MERCOLA’S BUSINESS ACCOUNT AND EXECUTIVES’ PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNTS

Wednesday, July 26, 2023
By Jason Cohen | Daily Caller News Foundation

JPMorgan Chase canceled Dr. Joseph Mercola’s business account and the personal accounts of Mercola Market’s CEO, his wife and the company’s CFO, according to documents obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mercola Market is a Florida-based health business, and Chase abruptly closed its accounts for unspecified reasons, according to the documents. Chase sent the letters on July 13, notifying the company it had until September 10 to shut down account operations and informing CEO Steven A. Rye and his wife, as well as CFO Amy Legaspi, that they have until August 11 to close their personal accounts and open new ones at another bank.

“After careful consideration, we decided to close your accounts because of unexpected activity on this or another Chase account,” the letters stated. Chase did not give a more specific reason.

“I was told for legal reasons they cannot tell me why they are closing the accounts,” a Chase representative told Rye in a voicemail.

The representative told Rye to send him the letters he received to begin the process of restoring the accounts but repeatedly stressed there was no guarantee that the effort would be fruitful. “We are going to try because you’re a good client of our institution,” he said.

“I believe they canceled all of the accounts because of Dr. Mercola’s (our employer) opinions,” Rye told the DCNF. “He … co-authored the best selling book The Truth About COVID-19 which exposed the likelihood that this virus was engineered in a laboratory funded by the NIH. He correctly predicted the vaccines would not prevent transmission or infection of COVID-19. He has been directly censored by the Biden administration and is being targeted by politically weaponized agencies.”

Mercola was also singled out as one of the top spreaders of COVID-19 falsehoods in a report by the British nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, titled “The Disinformation Dozen.” The report led to him being censored on Twitter for vaccine misinformation, according to a recent batch of Twitter Files posted by journalist Paul D. Thacker.

Legaspi said she did not “have any idea” why Chase closed her personal accounts and was “surprised” that the letters were exactly the same for the business and personal accounts in a statement Rye shared with the DCNF. She also alleged her young adult son’s accounts “are subject for closing.”

David Bahnsen, founder and managing partner of the Bahnsen Group, put forward a shareholder resolution in April urging a review of JPMorgan Chase’s discrimination policies concerning religious and political beliefs. The proposal was in response to media reports that suggested the company has “debanked” customers because they were Christian or conservative, Bahnsen wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

“For privacy reasons, we can’t discuss customer relationships, but we don’t close accounts because of political affiliations, and we didn’t do so in this case,” Chase told the DCNF on Wednesday.


COMMISSIONERS’ PUBLIC MEETING OF THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2023

Published Friday, July 7, 2023

With just half-an-hour of public business and an hour behind closed doors, Geauga Commissioners okayed the appointment/hiring of two “assistant/interim” administrators, okayed the spending of $59,600+ in legal fees to put an end to Board of Election complaints, and entered the Twenty-first Century of IP with ADP Board’s Commitment to streamline to a fiber-optic continuous IT with 8 servers and nearly instantaneous feedback for all county data stored on the cloud.

Veteran Geauga employee, Linda Burhenne emerged from a 26-minute Executive Session at 10:56 am with Commissioners and County Administrator, Gerry Morgan, the new Assistant County Administrator so she could publicly announce her enthusiasm to “provide good help to government” (at the hourly rate of $46.20). Morgan, who has come under negative attention since his alleged involvement with IT/website/ email snafus and federal raids resulting in confiscated IT/electronic equipment / protocols at the Department of Water Resources, has been seeking an assistant since that time. Burhenne, just prior to being named to her new internal position, received praise from Commissioner Spidalieri for mentoring him during his initial “green” phase to his current expertise in decision-making. Burhenne’s expertise in whittling down the Archives Department during 2023 was a huge positive factor in her new position.

Four minutes after Burhenne’s appointment, Commissioners re-entered Executive Session to appoint Sanitary Engineer Nick Gorris, to the position of Water Resources Interim Director, effective July 9, 2023. Gorris was touted as one of a very small number of individuals with a recognized degree as Sanitary Engineer. Those who have followed recent events in Geauga County Department business and finances, remember that County Administrator Morgan, himself a licensed Sanitary Engineer, for years operated as the Director of Water Resources and continues to be viewed by some observers and critics as having a conflict of interest regarding his involvement with the inner workings of Water Resources.

Those familiar with Water Resources are aware that Dr. Steven Oluic, a highly-valued military veteran and former Lake County Community College administrator, will leave Geauga County effective July 8, 2023, with his resignation of the same date. This vacancy within Geauga County’s internal affairs made possible both the hiring of Gerry Morgan’s Assistant Administrator and the appointment of Nick Gorris, effective the same date. With his acceptance of his new role, Gorris becomes eligible to apply for the permanent vacancy of Director of Water Resources effective July 9, 2023.

As if that were not exciting enough for the new Office Administration Building at 12611, vendors hawking their fast-food meals are now available on-site from about 11 am until 3 pm.

As usual Geauga politics are moving at the speed of light internally and / or being shifted to Lake County as the Political Silly Season [aka Election/Re-Election Time] rapidly approaches.