Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

Commentary for 2024 April thru June

We start every quarter with a blank page. Previous pages are still available by these links:

2023 Jan-March,       2023 April-June,       2023 July-Sept,       2023 Oct-Dec,

2024 Jan-March,       2024 April-June,       2024 July-Sept,      


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

In conversation with Trustees McCune, Cavanagh, and Troyan, Geauga Auditor Charles Walder offered to publicly explain the anomaly of a one mill Road and Bridge Levy. In August 2023 the Prosecutor’s Office notified Fiscal Officer Matsko that there was a legal problem connected with a 5-year R & B Levy on the November 5, 2023, ballot. That renewal levy, scheduled to generate about $265,000, made the R&B levy essentially a four-year renewal instead of the five-year renewal levy that failed to be renewed during Geauga’s Covid experience.

Although the Geauga County Board of Elections discovered the “four-year anomaly” after the deadline for getting the issue on the November 2023 ballot, neither that entity nor the Ohio Department of Taxation was considered at fault for permitting three years’ worth of illegal taxpayer payments to an unauthorized road and bridge levy for the township’s benefit.

A September 13, 2023. Geauga Maple Leaf article, referenced Trustee Cavanagh’s admission that the renewal in question should have been put back on the ballot in November 2020, during COVID Pandemic fears, instead of the three-year illegal payment until the Prosecutor’s Office made the bizarre discovery. The question in late 2023 was whether the trustees, who were illegal recipients of Auburn-residents’ payments would have to return about $750,000 to taxpayers. Auditor Walder clarified the answer as yes.

During his presentation, Auditor Walder noted that some of those who had paid the 1 mill levy had already sold their residences and moved out of the community for one reason or another. Auditor Walder further emphasized that the Auditor’s Office has already hired a law firm to provide over $200,000 for each of three years’ plus interest payable to each Auburn property tax payer who paid into the levy without even the benefit of a vote.. The law firm is being reimbursed $20,000 for its assistance.

The Geauga County Board of Revision’s July meeting will determine the “refund with interest” that will be repaid to present and past Auburn taxpayers who overpaid the road tax without the benefit of passage of a levy. Should the beneficiary of this “refund with interest” not be able to be identified and correctly repaid for his/her/their troubles, the unclaimed “refund” will become part of a list of unclaimed funds that can correctly be identified and remitted to the correct individual(s).

When Trustee Troyan asked if the trustees could receive a more tangible reimbursement instead of having to get a commercial bank loan involving an “anticipation note” to be paid off by Fiscal Officer Matsko during 2025, he received a negative response from Auditor Walder..

Those Auburn residents entitled to refunds from Auburn Township will be notified by the legal firm hired by the Auditor; the actual electronic refund should appear no later than the first collection of 2025, according to Auditor Walder.

Many thanks to Auditor Walder for coming to Auburn Township’s Monday, June 17, 2024, public meeting to explain The Great Anomaly and The Great Refund that will follow for Auburn Township residents.


Friday, June 21, 2024
Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

Another member of Congress has warned a terrorist attack is imminent. This latest warning comes after a former CIA director argued that similar warning signs exist today that did before the 9/11 terror attack occurred.

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, told CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday, “We are at the highest level of a possible terrorist threat” resulting from Biden administration policies.

He issued the warning after eight foreign nationals traveling from Tajikistan with ties to ISIS were arrested. The men were released into the country by U.S. Border Patrol agents after they were apprehended for illegally entering the U.S. through the southwest border.

Under current administration policy, instead of processing inadmissible illegal foreign nationals for deportation, they are released into the U.S. with "notice to appear" documents for a future immigration court date. The agents claimed they didn’t have information tying them to ISIS when they “vetted” and released them. However, “law enforcement subsequently became concerned with their presence in the U.S. and took action,” CBS News reported.

FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces and Department of Homeland Security agents arrested the eight alleged terrorists in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. They are currently in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody pending removal proceedings.

Turner said, “what's important about these reports” is that a terrorism threat is “no longer speculative, no longer hypothetical.”

He also referred to warnings issued by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who in April testified before Congress that Islamic terrorist threats and national security threats were coming through the border. In March, he testified that smuggling organizations with ties to ISIS were coming through the border and the FBI was investigating, The Center Square reported.

Turner said his committee members “have con-concurred on the intelligence that we're seeing that as a result of the administration's policies allowing people to cross the border unvetted. We have terrorists that are actively working inside the United States that are a threat to Americans.”

His warning came after an Inspector General report found that Department of Homeland Security agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol, are not vetting illegal foreign nationals due to a range of problems, The Center Square reported.

“This administration, by their own policy, are then allowing those individuals in instead of fully vetting them, fully understanding what the risk is the United States and for the fact that they're letting them in, and … they're entering the United States through the southern border illegally. And that's what the threat is,” Turner said. “That's what Director Wray is identifying, and is bringing forward. This administration's policies are directly resulting in people who were in the United States illegally, who have ties to terrorist groups and organizations, and this is a threat.”

Former deputy director of the CIA Mike Morel also recently warned that a terrorist attack could occur in the next few months ahead of the election. In an op-ed published by Foreign Affairs, he drew parallels to warnings issued ahead of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to today, saying the “terrorism warnings lights are blinking red again.”

Terrorist threat warnings also continue after GOP House members have demanded answers about U.S. military base breaches by Jordanian and Chinese men after they illegally entered the country, The Center Square reported.

Republican Senators have also warned that because of President "Joe Biden’s open border policies, our country is really at an increased threat for a terrorist attack,” calling on him to close the border.

After claiming for years the border was secure and no border crisis existed, Biden just announced a new “border security” plan. Border experts pointed out it would codify policies he implemented that created the crisis and will allow another two million illegal entries, The Center Square reported.

Terrorist threat concerns continue to mount as CBP agents have apprehended a record number of known or suspected terrorists (KSTs), with the majority at the northern border, The Center Square first reported.

The greatest number of KSTs to ever be apprehended in U.S. history was in fiscal 2023 of 736; with the majority, 487, apprehended at the northern border, including an Iranian with terrorist ties, The Center Square first reported. In response, members of the U.S. House Northern Border Security Caucus called on DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to secure the northern border.

This fiscal year through May 15, the majority of KSTs, 173, have been apprehended at the northern border, according to CBP data.

Former acting director of ICE Tom Homan has been warning for some time of a likely terrorist attack because of Biden administration policies. He told The Center Square that Biden is the only president in U.S. history to “unsecure the border on purpose. … and has created the greatest national security crisis since 9/11.”


Friday, June 21, 2024
Morgan Trau | Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine deflected questions Monday about his relationship with former FirstEnergy executives after text messages revealed he asked for money ahead of his first gubernatorial campaign. He also seemed frustrated with our questions about him allegedly being informed about half a million dollars that the now-indicted CEO put into a dark money PAC for him.

For years, the governor downplayed any financial connection to FirstEnergy and its embattled executives. But a records request filed by a group of news organizations, including WEWS’ media partner the Ohio Capital Journal, paints a different picture. Cleveland.com was the first to report the text messages.

Texts between the governor and former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones show a relationship between the pair during DeWine’s first run for governor.

“Chuck. Can you call me?” DeWine wrote on October 13, 2018 — less than a month before he faced off against Democrat Rich Cordray in the governor’s race. “OEA put in million yesterday for Cordray.”

“OK,” Jones responded. “I’ll call at 2:30.”

Jones and former FirstEnergy Senior Vice President Michael Dowling were hit with state bribery charges earlier this year. They pleaded not guilty during their joint arraignment in mid-February. They are accused of masterminding the corruption scheme.

FirstEnergy has already admitted to bribing public officials to help the company behind the scenes — in one way — by pushing and helping to create H.B. 6. Back in 2019, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder took a $61 million bribe in exchange for legislation to give FirstEnergy a $1 billion bailout, named H.B. 6, all at the expense of utility ratepayers.

This landed Householder in federal prison for 20 years, and he is now facing state charges, as well.

But texts came out during the Householder trial and in the indictment that show FirstEnergy was communicating with DeWine — and about him and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

New records showing DeWine’s text interaction don’t look good for the governor, said Case Western Reserve University law professor Mike Benza.

“What you have with DeWine and DeWine’s family is a connection with money coming out of FirstEnergy, going to their political — either proxies or affiliates — in furtherance of that, which again adds to the bad optics of what’s going on,” Benza said.

In text messages, Dowling says, “Chuck — go ahead and call Mike DeWine on the $500k. It’s going to RGA’s C(4) called state solutions. All set.”

Jones responds, “OK. I’ll call him around 5.”

DeWine was confronted by this story’s author, Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau, about these messages during an unrelated press conference Monday. He was not pleased with the interest from reporters.

“I don’t remember,” the governor said about a conversation between Jones and himself.

“We were very mindful of no coordination between any independent expenditure,” the governor continued. “And we followed the law.”

DeWine has been subpoenaed for documents in a civil case, but he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The governor continued to defend himself, using the “politics as usual” argument.

“I’m making a lot of calls to a lot of people asking for money,” DeWine said. “And if that call was made, I have no doubt it was made.”

This is a legitimate argument, Benza said, although it doesn’t look great to use.

“At least in the public documents — nothing shows that same type of quid pro quo going to Jon Husted or Governor DeWine,” the professor said. “It certainly has the appearance of it, but there’s no smoking gun in this type of a case yet… but I think they have to be worried.”

Trau exclusively obtained a speech given by Chuck Jones, seemingly at his house, during a DeWine/Husted fundraiser on August 14, 2018.

“(DeWine and Husted’s) vision, experience and strong leadership will be great for our state, our communities, our company and our shareholders,” Jones said.

When this was read out loud to DeWine, he seemed to nod or tilt his head from side to side. He was also read a portion about his second-in-command.

“Jon has always been very accessible and great to work with, and I can say without question, he is a good friend of FirstEnergy,” Jones continued in his speech.

The former CEO then went on to say that DeWine and Husted joining together for a campaign “saved us some money… Otherwise, we would’ve had to contribute to two rival campaigns with candidates we supported.”

The governor didn’t address this part of the question. The Lt. Gov.’s team pointed us back to Jones and other FirstEnergy executives.

“These are people talking about him; not with him. So, we can’t comment on their conversations, you would have to ask them,” Husted’s spokesperson Hayley Carducci responded when asked about it.

Not only are there the texts, but the DeWine administration has been wrapped up with another scandal-ridden individual: Sam Randazzo, the man DeWine selected to be the state’s top utility regulator.

Randazzo was charged the past December with dozens of crimes related to bribery and embezzlement. He allegedly received more than $4.3 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, according to Department of Justice officials and Attorney General Dave Yost — and FirstEnergy admitted it themselves in a deferred prosecution agreement.

Back in February, DeWine defended one of his top advisors after a criminal indictment alleged she knew about millions going to Randazzo from FirstEnergy, right before he was appointed to power by the governor. She helped vet the former chair of the Public Utilities Commission, the supposed watchdog of utilities after her family had already received a $10,000 loan from him. She is now a witness in the criminal trial against Jones and Dowling, DeWine spokesperson Dan Tierney confirmed.

Randazzo died by suicide in April after he was indicted in both state and federal court. He is the second man, out of eight, to take his own life due to being connected to the scandal. Neil Clark, a lobbyist accused of bribery, died by suicide after pleading not guilty in 2021.

Based on all of the above information, Trau asked DeWine why anyone should believe what he was saying.

“Why should ratepayers believe you — that you didn’t have anything to do with this?” she asked.

“Didn’t have anything to do with what?” the governor responded.

“The corruption scheme,” she said.

He was silent for a significant moment.

“I’m trying to count the years — 45 years in public office, 45 years of trying to do the best that I can do, 45 years without any kind of personal scandal,” the governor said. “That’s why.”

“There are text messages saying that there’s $500,000 that was going to a dark money PAC and that they were gonna call you about it,” Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau responded. “Do you understand how that concerns people?”

“I think I’ve answered the question,” DeWine said, adding that his reputation is important to him.

Questions were cut off shortly after.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Been to the grocery store lately? If this is “summer time and the living is easy,” how come all the veggies and fruits are so crazy expensive? If we can’t afford the tomatoes, lettuce, carrots now, how will we afford them after the first frost or in January 2025?

The Geauga County Commissioners may be starting to get a little better feel about the mood of the voters during 2024 and thereafter, especially now that it is time to approve the 2025 Geauga County Tax Budget on top of paying the second round of property taxes. Didn’t we all just go through these agonies? In Geauga County, the second installment of property taxes, is due and payable to the Geauga County Treasurer no later than July 10, 2024, to avoid a 10% late penalty.

And here we go again. . . to try to understand the Geauga County 2025 Tax Budget to be discussed in public on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at the new Commissioners Chambers on Ravenwood Drive at 10 a.m.

Hopefully, the audio and visual presentation will be clear and the explanation will make sense, but the take-away seems to be that inflationary pressures, supply-and-demand conflicts, rising health insurance costs, salary demands, and litigation costs, among other pressures are making 2024 an unforgettable challenge.

The Geauga County 2025 Tax Budget will be due at the Auditor’s Office and in the hands of the Budget Commission by the end of June 2024.

At the June 11, 2024, public Geauga County Commissioners Meeting, the first 9 agenda items were settled within 15 minutes, leaving Budget and Finance Manager Adrian Gorton about 40 minutes to discuss the “meat” in 25 pages of financial data current as of June 8, 2024. County Administrator Gerard (Gerry) Morgan got equal billing on the financial data titled “2024 Tax Budget Hearings, Budget Hearing Recap, June 11, 2024.” Assistant County Administrator Linda Burhenne, although present for the presentation, did not gain any credit for any financial or budget information contained in the 25-page Budget Hearing Recap, obviously in preparation for the July 2 public 2025 Tax Budget Hearings.

In case you are in the mood to learn the sources of the projected 2025 General Fund Revenue, the current 6.75% tax charged on all goods and services subject to sales tax collection is predicted to bring in $21 million, thus providing 45.50% of the General Fund. Your Geauga Real Estate Taxes, paid in February 2024 , provide another $11.4 million to the General Fund, according to page 4 of the presentation. The property tax revenue source, provides just a little less than 25%. Together, these two sources are predicted to provide about 80% of the revenue, about $33 million.

As of June 11, 2024, $50,046,395.57 out of $54,612,223.92 has been appropriated, leaving $4,565,828.35. A big unknown at this point is how consumers and property owners will respond to 2024’s Summer of the Squeeze; at what point will the sales tax take a huge hit when consumers are forced with the decision to purchase food or to keep on paying inflationary increases in health insurance, property insurance, etc?

In terms of payroll demands (page 22) of the”2025 Tax Budget Hearings, Budget Hearing Recap,” many Geauga County Departments are requesting 2025 funding that exceeds fair cost of living raises:

ADP’ S 2025 Budget Request is $1,450,000 (19.85% more than 2024); Common Pleas Court’s 2025 request of $1,511,912.00 represents an increase of 16% more than its 2024 request; Maintenance’s 2025 request of $1,487,796.00 represents a 29.88% increase over 2024; the Prosecutor has requested $1,934,379.00, a 12.11% increase over 2024.

A second indication that 2025 budget requests may be out of control is the astounding increase in price in contract services, with unacceptable inflationary increases, as noted on page 23 of the “2025 Tax Budget Hearings.” Additionally, the Equipment Requests presented on page 24 of the “2025 Tax Budget Hearings” again demonstrate that spiraling inflation is catching the taxpayer on fixed income, ie., between the pit and the pendulum.

The three possible areas to cut back on inflationary county expenditures so as not to wind up with a $2,440,000 DEFICIT are the areas of PAYROLL, CONTRACTS, and EQUIPMENT, noted on page 25 of the “2025 Tax Budget Hearings” presentation.

The Conclusions in spite of thoughts that “[County] revenue keeps pouring in” from Commissioner Lennon are as follows on page 27 of the “2025 Tax Budget Hearings”:

1. Geauga County “must stay vigilant regarding its conservative budgets.”

2. Geauga County “should not jump ahead of ourselves regarding revenue and continue in a steep upward trajectory with expenses.”

3. “[B]udget strictly for the necessities and consider increases . . .once we know we have the resources.”

4. “[S]pend what we need to and endeavor to put unneeded revenue back in the pockets of citizens.”

In summary, if taxpayers, particularly those on FIXED income must prioritize what are the most needed items to survive, then Geauga County elected and appointed officials must follow the same order of operations. If property owners on fixed incomes can no longer afford simple necessities by virtue of inflationary Geauga County Department demands, then which property owners will remain standing to pay for the county demands???

Remember: Public Hearing of Geauga County 2025 Tax Budget:

Time: 10 a.m. July 2, 2024

Place: Geauga County Commissioner Chambers, Third Floor, NEW Administration Bldg., 12611 Ravenwood Drive, CHARDON 44024




Friday, June 14, 2024
Nick Evans | Ohio Capital Journal

Two Ohio lawmakers are threatening felony charges if delegates take up outside issues in a hypothetical future convention

This week state lawmakers introduced a measure setting the guidelines for a hypothetical future constitutional convention.

The obscure process laid out in Article V of the U.S. Constitution has been embraced in recent years by activists to impose congressional term limits, balanced budget requirements or place new limits on money in politics. But there are precious few details in the Constitution about how it would operate.

Among the guardrails lawmakers proposed, delegates could face recall for speaking publicly about internal business. If they took up proposals deemed out of bounds, they could face a felony.

Additionally, federal officeholders or appointees and statewide officeholders would be barred from serving as delegates. State representatives or senators, however, would still be eligible. Although the bill directs lawmakers to select an odd number of delegates, there’s no mention of minority party representation.

The convention route is attractive to supporters because organizers can largely sidestep Congress, stacking up resolutions in state legislatures until they reach the required 2/3 threshold of 34 states. From there, convention backers are already a long way toward the 3/4 threshold (38 states) necessary to ratify an amendment.

The problem, government watchdogs argue, is that once you call a convention, all bets are off. While the U.S. Constitution lays out the benchmarks for ratification, it’s unclear on the rules for the convention itself.

Some argue the convention could have a limited “call” laid out in the states’ resolutions. It’s not clear, however, what would come of a so-called “runaway” convention that takes on matters outside that scope. In committee Wednesday, Ohio’s House Government Oversight Chairman Rep. Bob Peterson, R-Selina, said the very first constitutional convention might fit that definition.

“Thank God and thank goodness,” he added, “because they did great work.”

Catherine Turcer from Common Cause Ohio acknowledged there’s “something really inspiring” about picking up the pen the founders put down.

“It’s also, you know, terrifying,” she said, “when you think about it as an opportunity to open up absolutely every single issue.”

“We’re in such a contentious, just an incredibly contentious time for this kind of robust discussion,” she added.


State Reps. Riordan McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, and Bernie Willis, R-Springfield, have sponsored House Joint Resolution 3, which calls for a convention of the states. Their resolution, which has already had several hearings, includes explicit provisions aiming to limit the scope of delegates’ work.

Delegates are restricted to “proposing amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and Members of Congress,” according to the resolution.

The measure also carries language specifying Ohio’s call can only be combined with others drafted toward the “substantially same purpose,” and to rescind the application after the fact if the eventual convention considers changes to the Bill of Rights.

It’s not a carbon copy of the model resolution provided by Convention of States Action, but it would fit under the heading of “substantially same.” The organization has the backing of effectively every leading light in the conservative movement, and it has successfully lobbied for convention resolutions in 19 states.

It’s not the only effort to organize an Article V convention, however. The group Wolf-PAC, founded by Cenk Uygur, is promoting campaign finance reform in the wake of Citizens United. Wolf-PAC has passed resolutions in four states.

Although both groups insist it’s possible to limit the scope of a convention, it’s also uncharted territory. Wolf-PAC points to peer-reviewed studies and opinions from U.S. Justice Department officials. But because it has never been done before, there’s no judicial precedent.

“The convention could make its own rules and set its own agendas,” Turcer explained. “And it is true that, whether it’s the state legislature or Congress, they might try to limit the convention. But there’s no way to assure that the members of the convention would actually obey those rules.”

“It’s its own entity,” she added.

Convention of States notes that the biggest safeguard is the ratification process itself. Whatever the convention comes up with still needs the backing of 38 states, whether within its original scope or outside of it.

“That means if only 13 states vote no, the answer is no. It doesn’t get much safer than that!” the Convention of States website insists.

Still, there’s no denying some measure of uncertainty. No matter how narrowly convention backers draft their resolutions, even they acknowledge they have no say in the text of the eventual amendment.

A Congressional Research Service study from 2016 noted calling a convention to vote on a specifically worded amendment is one way Congress could argue states’ applications were “defective and invalid.”

Because the Constitution gives Congress or a convention the right to “propose” amendments, calling a convention simply for an up or down vote misconstrues its function. Its role is to deliberate and propose, not to approve or disapprove.


On Wednesday, McClain and Willis introduced their bill establishing the process for selecting delegates and policing their behavior as part of the convention.

“We want to be clear on the process both before and during a convention,” McClain said, “to make sure that the runaway (convention) does not happen, the delegates do not disobey their oath and their responsibility to this great state.”

The sponsors envision an Advisory Committee, responsible for keeping tabs on the delegation and recalling members who violate rules. It would be made up of three members of the General Assembly. The House Speaker and Senate president would get one designee each and the third would be a joint selection approved by a majority in each chamber.

Among the violations that could get a delegate recalled: expressing disagreement publicly once the delegation has taken a formal position, or speaking with the media at all if they aren’t the member designated handle communications.

“I believe the whole intent there is to have one voice for Ohio,” Willis explained. “And that that group of delegates are charged with producing that one message because there is only going to be one vote.”

State Rep. Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester, criticized the bill for not requiring representation from both political parties in the convention delegation or the advisory committee.

“Because like it or not,” he said, “we do have two parties in this state.”

McClain insisted, “I don’t see this as a partisan issue, frankly.”

He argued with the supermajorities required for passage, “to get anything through a convention of these United States it cannot fall on party line.”

Speaking after the hearing, McClain framed the legislation as a work in progress. He chalked up the decision to cut out statewide and federal officials, but not general assembly members, to delegates not being “considered a statewide position.”

But he acknowledged, “I’ve have had some conversations with members about looking at that provision, if we should exclude state lawmakers as well. So, I don’t know what the conversations will come (to), but this is the starting point for the for the bill.”

He also referenced hearing feedback on the minimum number of years required as a U.S. citizen and a resident of Ohio as well as how to handle dual citizens.

“Ultimately it’s about getting the right people there that are going to truly represent the voice of what Ohio wants,” he said.


While the bill threatens recall for delegates who speak out of turn, it proposes far harsher penalties for those who act outside the joint resolution’s scope.

Any member who votes for or promotes a convention voting process other than one vote per state, votes for an amendment altering the Bill of Rights, the Civil War Amendments or several others, votes for an amendment beyond the joint resolution’s call, would be guilty of a third-degree felony. Accepting gifts from anyone other than a family member worth more than $200 combined gets the same treatment.

“I get where you all were going in the sense of trying to make sure that things were protected in all of that,” Rep. Latyna Humphrey, D-Columbus, said. “But do you think that the penalty might be a little too high?

“F3 is real high,” she added. “It’s very high.”

“I think that the stakes are high,” McClain responded. “We want to say that the oath that you swear to do your duty means something, and that if you deviate from that it’s gonna be significant.”

Turcer is left shaking her head. To her, the bill’s heavy-handed punitive measures only underscore the risk of pursuing a convention.

“It’s as if the sponsor buys the premise that you could have a runaway convention and wants to come up with rules to rein it in,” she said, “without thinking really big picture that, you know, Ohio is not the center of the universe. It’s not an island, we’re one state, and the convention sets its own rules.”

“So, there’s a clear understanding that there need to be rules,” she added, “without understanding that you don’t get to choose.”


Ironically, in making the case for delegates restricting their focus to a limited call, McClain brought up Ohio’s recent special session. The governor called lawmakers back to the statehouse for the express purpose of ensuring Joe Biden got on the ballot and prohibiting campaign spending by foreign nationals, and they did.

“I see that much akin to what the convention is called for,” McClain said, “and the conversations that would happen at a convention with members to say that this this topic was not for what we were called, we cannot go down that path without experiencing issues both legally and otherwise.”

The problem is, at least in the eyes of two long-serving Republican House lawmakers, the Ohio Senate did exceed the governor’s narrow mandate. Rather than starting from scratch, the Senate tacked the governor’s demands onto an unrelated bill changing how statewide issues are numbered.

In a joint statement, Reps. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton, and Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, called that “unprecedented because it includes provisions that are extraneous to the Governor’s call for a special session.”

“The way the Senate is conducting business is constitutionally and procedurally questionable,” they continued, “and it presents undue litigation risk that can be wholly avoided by reaching agreement between the chambers on a correctly numbered bill.”


Monday June 10, 2024
Alan Guebert | Farm and Dairy

Long before the arrival of ATVs, UTVs and even color TVs, the most used implement on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth was our own two feet.

Everyone from my parents to Uncle Honey to the hired man walked everywhere every day without complaint, or as often was the case for my brothers and me, shoes.

My mother walked more than any of us. For decades, she was on her feet from before dawn until well after dark cleaning, cooking, canning, baking and doing laundry. You name it, Mom did it on her feet and in a hurried, keep-up! Pace.

Dad probably walked as much but his stride was less urgent. His day began with a starlit, 300 yard walk to the milking parlor and, after two hours of back-and-forth shuffling between cows (alongside the farm’s born shuffler, herdsman Howard) Dad walked home for breakfast.

After that it was work, work, work, and walk, walk, walk.

Noon dinner and a brief nap broke Dad and Mom’s on-their-feet routine.

Then, right at 1 p.m. an afternoon of more working and more walking ensued until 4 when Dad would walk back to the house for a “lunch.” Ten minutes later he was walking to the dairy barn for two more hours of the milking parlor shuffle with ever-shuffling Howard.

Finally, around 7 p.m. Dad would make another quiet, alone walk home to another quiet alone supper.

Those walks ended in the late 1960s when, after nearly 20 years of farming, Dad bought a used Ford pick-up truck. It had two purposes; to carry an equally-used pick-up camper a couple of times a year and to carry Dad to and from the dairy barn daily.

It was a mid-1960s plow horse, not a 2020’s bejeweled showhorse. It had a bent tailgate, a clattering six cylinder engine and three-speed-on-the-tree transmission. Its air condition was two hand-cranked windows, its power steering was your two arms, and its spring-filled bench seat sported the finest, cracked blue vinyl Detroit ever sold.

My brothers and I followed Dad’s cue. As we approached our mid-teen years, each of us traded our growing feet for rubber tires, gasoline engines, and the rush of wind through our crew-cut hair.

Oldest brother Rich acquired a high-mileage Cushman motor scooter. It was fat-tired, primer gray and almost impossible to start. Still, when running, it was a dream machine to any farm boy.

Shortly thereafter, second oldest David purchased a solidly-built, homemade go-kart. It sat about four inches off the ground, a real hazard on our crowned rock road, but its baby Briggs & Stratton engine pushed it past 20 miles per hour.

It inspired me to weld together a short-lived duplicate; short-lived because Dad preferred his garden tiller engine on his garden tiller.

I soon out-machined everyone, though. Through an advertisement in Boys Life magazine, I bought — for only $69 — a sparkling blue, factory-made minibike. The purchase included a frame, wheels, handlebars, hand throttle, chain centrifugal clutch and the promise of unparalleled freedom.

Mom was furious that I had purchased a “deathtrap” without her permission. For days she predicted I would break my arm or neck — “or both!” — The first time I rode it. I assured her that nothing of the sort would ever happen.

Then, on my maiden voyage across a frozen soybean stubble field, I crashed. Hard.

My arms and neck were fine; my pride and the minibike’s right handlebar were in pieces. Somehow I got the broken machine back to the farm shop without Mom’s notice. There, David, a better welder than me, tacked the deathtrap back together.

That minibike, again as good as new, ended my farm walking days forever. Better yet, I explored every back road, field road and road shoulder — all without a license for the minibike or myself — within 15 miles of the farm.

Two years ago, my speedy, two-wheeling days ended for good with a crash on my bicycle to make me, again, a full-time walker.

Pride, it’s said, comes before a fall. True enough, and it’s usually feet that come after it.


Sunday, June 9, 2024

Some readers may recall that in January 2017 the Geauga Commissioners, while they could not forbid video recording of their public meetings by attendees, refused to continue the long-standing policy of having a county employee video Geauga Commissioner meetings without edit or redaction. Those video recordings were so accurate that all Geauga residents, even Senior Citizens and those unable to physically attend the Commissioners meetings in person, were able to witness the transparency of Geauga County government.

Your ability to witness the Geauga County Commissioners on video after an unavoidable interruption of some eight weeks results from the necessity of keeping Geauga County taxpayers informed of details that do not get explained if no one asks for clarification. Defective acoustics in the new office building continue to make public elected and appointed officials even more difficult to hear, let alone understand. While conducting their public meetings at 470 Center Street, the Commissioners and their County Department Directors were quite skillful at being audible and rarely reminded that their words and ideas could not be heard. Unfortunately, the new administrative quarters have helped to make a mockery of county government transparency at a time when uncontrolled increases in product and service costs, even the most basic of needs, have placed the average well-intentioned citizen unable to keep up with the turning of the screw. Nevertheless, those elected officials who openly opposed any video documentation as a threat to their own continued job security, that is, re-election, now express the contradictory idea that they must find and preserve a particular a segment of public video, presumably recorded by Portage County officials, that proves without a doubt that once again Geauga County has been cheated, outsmarted, outthunk, out-politicked by other politicians..

The Geauga County primary election has passed (Furthermore, Tuesday, March 4. 2024). In fact, the political hoodwinks calmed down so much that incumbent Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell reported in glorious person to Commissioners on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. No underlings or representatives this time to represent the Juvenile Court Office. Judge Grendell appeared in person to report that the cost to Geauga taxpayers to house Geauga juvenile delinquents in the Portage County Juvenile Detention Center has become a “financial headache” in the midst of many financial headaches imposed on county taxpayers. Grendell cited the 2023 cost to Geauga taxpayers of $465,000 as a valid reason for pulling out of any contractual arrangement with Portage County or its Juvenile Detention Center. How long before the squeeze between the rock and the hard place, the frying pan and the fire becomes a final breaking point before the November 2024 GREAT ELECTION?

At the May 21 meeting Commissioner Lennon voiced personal frustration with the Portage County Detention Center Board. Lennon revealed Geauga County ‘s three votes on that board have no general sway against Portage County’s four votes. In the end, the power of the vote has prevailed over the thousands of dollars dumped on the backs of Geauga County taxpayers to finance the Portage County Juvenile Detention Center.

Nevertheless, on the advice of Geauga County’s Prosecutor, Jim Flaiz, the Geauga Commissioners made arrangements immediately after Grendell’s personal appearance, for a meeting to exit the contractual arrangement with Portage County Commissioners and the Portage County Detention Center before entering into any other contractual arrangements to house Geauga juveniles who have been judged in need of housing in a county detention center.

The May 21 Geauga Commissioners Meeting with Judge Grendell was the last public Geauga County Commissioner meeting. It appears that concern over misused Geauga taxpayer funds in Portage County did not prevent the two week delay in public reporting to those poor Geauga County constituents. The June 4 meeting also managed to whiz through 17 agenda items in approximately 34 minutes with the County Maintenance Department fielding five of those items ( #10-14) with record brevity.

By the time co-County Administrator Gerry Morgan finished with Item 17 and his improvised Item 18, only about 30 minutes had fled by. Warming into his topic at about 34 minutes, after this attendee asked for clarification, Mr. Spidalieri announced the priority of seeking the return of more than $200,000 to Geauga County taxpayers from the Portage County Juvenile Detention Center, which carried a market value of $400,000 per research of the Portage County Auditor’s website.

Commissioner Tim Lennon noted ,”If we dropped everything [with Portage County Juvenile Detention Center] right now, we would still be ahead of the game.” This statement clearly reiterated Lennon’s frustration with everything Portage County.

Spidalieri continued, “Whether or not we go through the auditor’s office, they [Portage County] owe us $200,000.” Addressing the Clerk, Spid continued, “The video clearly indicates there was a motion to reimburse Geauga County… Preserve that video!” We are pleased that Mr. Spidalieri, for one, has recognized the need for documentation and proof in his quest to serve Geauga County constituents after the November 2024 election.

In response to this editor’s request for clarification about the $200,000 in Geauga tax funds now alleged to be squirreled in the 2023 Portage County Budget, Spid elaborated that at the post May 21, 2024 with Portage County officials, the Geauga Commissioners had agreed to putting $30,000 of those Geauga-paid fees in escrow to aid the Portage Detention Center in payment of unforeseen expenses and bills that would impact its current cash flow and general fund. Still, Spidalieri concluded, Portage County’s handling of the situation was unjust. “They never gave us enough [tangible money] back.”

Hey, Mr. Spidalieri, being squeezed between the rock and the hard-place, the frying pan and the fire, kind of a real-world experience for many voters these days, especially those Geauga constituents and taxpayers who must manage on a fixed income. It becomes imperative to determine priorities when there is only so much money to go around, especially as November 2024 and the BIG GEAUGA ELECTION become that biggest priority for taxpayers as well as those on the Geauga County Dole.

Make certain to vote on November 5, 2024.

We will keep you apprised of all events that impact the November 2024 Geauga County election as these unfold so we can gain further clarification or communicate our findings/conclusions!

Obviously, we are dealing with a breaking story.


Sunday, June 9, 2024
Tom Fitton | Judicial Watch

Federal Agency Produces 210 Joe Biden Alias Emails

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received 426 pages of records in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that show then-Vice President Joe Biden’s use of an email alias to correspond with family members, including son Hunter and brother James; and that Joe Biden signed off on the cessation of Secret Service protection for Hunter Biden and Beau Biden’s daughter Natalie during an August 2016 trip to Kosovo.

These emails include messages to Jim and Hunter Biden regarding the then-vice president’s schedule and meetings. Some emails show Biden using the alias: robinware456@gmail.com.

The emails also show that Hunter and Jim Biden accompanied Joe Biden on taxpayer-funded trips; and then-Vice President Biden in December 2009 emailing an aide after he forgot the password to his West Wing computer.

The emails were uncovered in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the National Archives for Biden communications (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. National Archives (No. 1:23-cv-01432)).

The records show that Hunter Biden used an email address (hbiden@rosemontseneca.com) from his now-dissolved firm Rosemont Seneca Partners.

The records also show that James Biden used an email address (jbiden@lionhallgp.com) tied to his consulting firm Lion Hall, which had been the subject of an FBI bribery investigation in the 1990s.

There were 210 Biden vice presidential email messages produced related to the lawsuit. Most were redacted due to Presidential Records Act (PRA) restrictions and applicable FOIA exemptions, which specify what material may be released to the public.

Previously, Judicial Watch released five pages of records that show then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter received a May 26, 2016, email detailing a scheduled “8:45 am prep for a 9 am phone call with Pres Poroshenko,” who was the president of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s email address is the alias robert.l.peters@pci.gov, Hunter Biden’s email account is disclosed as hbiden@rosemontseneca.com. (Hunter Biden was on the board of the controversial Ukrainian firm Burisma at the time.)

The new records include an August 18, 2016, email sent from his Rosemont Seneca email address to Secret Service Assistant Director of the Office of Investigations Jeremy Sherida, Hunter Biden writes: “Thank you. Both the Vice President and I sign off on the agreed upon requested interruption in protection for Natalie and Hunter.” The interruption in protection was from August 18 to August 22, 2016, during their trip to Kosovo and was to resume up their return to Washington, D.C., on August 22, 2016. The Biden family was in Kosovo where the country erected a statue of and named a highway after Beau Biden. It is not known where Hunter Biden and Natalie Biden went without their Secret Service detail.

(Judicial Watch litigation had previously found that, for the first five-and-a-half years of the Obama administration, Hunter Biden traveled extensively while receiving a Secret Service protective detail. During the time period of the records provided, Hunter Biden, son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, took 411 separate domestic and international flights, including to 29 different foreign countries. He visited China five times.)

An email from Michele Smith, executive assistant to the vice president, dated June 24, 2011, and titled “News piece and wire photos from the first Greece stop.” The email is addressed to Hunter Biden, Beau Biden, Hallie Biden, and Kathleen Biden. The email contains two attachments, which are photos of Jill Biden with U.S. troops on the USS Ramage. The email is a news release concerning Jill Biden arriving in Greece for the 2011 Special Olympic Games. Prior to attending the “Flame of Hope” lighting ceremony, Mrs. Biden visited the USS Ramage, a destroyer anchored off the Faliro Marina in southern coastal Athens. Biden told the crew members of the destroyer she was looking forward to attending the Special Olympic Games.

An email from Michele Smith, dated October 24, 2010, addressed to James Biden. The subject of the email is “Tomorrow’s Schedule – safe travels.” The email is an itinerary for then-Vice President Joe Biden and James Biden for one-day travel from the VP’s private residence in Delaware to Orlando, Florida, to address the International Association of Police Chief’s. On the return trip, there were short stops at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport for a dinner visit with Ann McLane Kuster at Norton’s Classic Café followed by a visit to Salon 263, Nashau, New Hampshire. Afterwards, Vice President Biden and Jim Biden returned to his private residence.

An email from Fran Person, Vice President Biden’s personal assistant, dated July 24, 2009, is addressed to Beau Biden and Hunter Biden and is titled, “Fw. A Very Successful Visit.” Two email recipients are redacted. The email is a forward from Antony Blinken, deputy assistant to the president, from Ambassador John Teft regarding Biden’s trip to Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia. The email states that everyone from President Saakashvili to his most ardent opponents had great things to say about Biden.

An email from Fran Person, dated March 14, 2010, addressed to Hunter Biden is titled “Tomorrow’s, Monday March 15, Latest Schedule.” Two email recipients are redacted from the email. The one-day itinerary involves travel to Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio for a meeting with Congressman Steve Driehaus and attending a small reception for Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland at a law office.

An email from Michele Smith, dated November 25, 2009, is addressed to a redacted recipient and CCd to Hunter Biden and Beau Biden, titled “Follow Up.” The email also has a BCC to Joseph R. Biden, Jr., email address redacted. The email is addressed to “Boss” and concerns a possible visit by Sen. John Kerry to Nantucket over the holiday weekend and a call to Ambassador Lou Sussman on Thanksgiving weekend.

An email from Fran Person, dated March 17, 2010, is addressed to Hunter Biden and an additional redacted recipient and is titled “Tomorrow’s Sched Run thru.” The email has a BCC to Kathleen Biden, email address redacted. The email concerns Hunter traveling with Joe Biden on a one-day trip to a factory in North Carolina to meet Energy Secretary Steven Chu to address workers at the Cree factory and to participate in several media events.

A forwarded email from Fran Person, dated August 19, 2012, is addressed to Joe Biden, Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, Valerie Biden, and James Biden. There are an additional two redacted recipients on the email. The email is titled, “Fw. AP Profile Piece: THE VEEP: A REGULAR AND NOT-SO-REGULAR JOE.

An email from Fran Person, dated May 18, 2012, is addressed to Joe Biden, Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, Valerie Biden, Ashley Biden; Jill Biden, James Biden and wife Sarah Biden. There are numerous redacted recipients on the email. The email is titled “Press Recap” and consists of an attachment with 13 press releases related to Biden that occurred over several days.

An email from Fran Person, dated July 31, 2013, is addressed to Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, and Jill Biden. There are numerous redacted recipients on the email. The email is titled, “FW: OVP Press Recap India/Singapore 2013” and consists of an attachment with 203 pages of press information relating to Biden’s trip to India and Singapore.

An email from Joe Biden dated October 19, 2010, titled “NY Times: As G.O.P seeks spending cuts, details are scarce.” The email is addressed to: Terrell McSweeny, James F. Carney, Jared Bernstein, JACK (redacted), James Biden, Elizabeth Alexander, Evan M. Ryan, Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, and several email administrative groups associated with his staff. The email contains a link to a NY Times article.

An email from Joe Biden dated May 28, 2012, titled “NY Times: West Point is Divided on a War Doctrine’s Fate / great article. Joe. The email is addressed to: Ted (Redacted); Thomas E. Donilon, Antony Blinken, Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, James Biden, Bobbi J. Doorenbos, Bruce N. Reed, John Martilla, Mike Christopher, and Mike Donilon. The email contains a link to a NY Times article.

An email from Joe Biden dated December 27, 2012, titled “Interesting.” The email is addressed to Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, Howard (redacted), Valerie Biden, Ashley (Redacted); Missy (Redacted); and Michael Donilon. The email contained a link to a poll taken by CNN regarding Vice President Biden’s job performance.

An email from Joe Biden dated May 6, 2011, is titled “The Employment Situation In April.” The email is addressed to Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, James Biden, Bobbi J., Bruce N. Reed, JACK (redacted), and Jared Bernstein. The email states, “I thought you would find this interesting” and provides a link to a whitehouse.gov press release.

An email from Joe Biden dated February 22, 2011, titled “NY Times: Why Cuts Don’t Bring Prosperity.” The email is addressed to Ted (Redacted), Thomas E. Donilon, Antony Blinken, Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, James Biden, Elizabeth Alexander, Allan L. Hoffman, Ted Kaufman, Terrell McSweeny, Matthew S. Teper, Mike Donilon, Cynthia Hogan, Ron Klain, Evan M. Ryan, Bruce N. Reed, and Terrell P. McSweeny. The email provides a link to a NY Times article.

An email from Joe Biden dated January 23, 2011, titled “NY Times: Maybe Japan Was Just a Warm-Up.” The email is addressed to Beau Biden, Hunter Biden, James Biden, Jared Bernstein, Jay Carney, Cynthia Hogan, Ted Kaufmann, Terrell P. McSweeny, Courtney O’Donnell, and Evan M. Ryan. The email provides a link to a NY Times article.

In a December 6, 2009, email to Fran Person sent from his alias account champ4@att.blackberry.net on his BlackBerry via AT&T, Joe Biden asks: “What is my password for my west wing computer.” Person responds by sending the password [redacted].

Joe Biden’s alias emails show Joe Biden and his family had a close working relationship on government matters,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “No wonder the Biden administration had been hiding these emails from Congress and the American people.”

Judicial Watch has nearly a dozen Freedom of Information Act lawsuits regarding records concerning Biden corruption issues, including:

In March 2023, the Archives had released only 1,276 pages of over 8,000 records about the unprecedented document dispute and raid on the home of former President Trump.

In October 2022, Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all communications between the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the search warrant which precipitated the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022.

Also in October 2022, Judicial Watch sued the Barack Obama Presidential Library for Obama White House records about the 2016 “Russia Collusion Hoax.” The records, which by law were not available under FOIA until five years after President Obama left office, are held at the library, which is part of the National Archives system.


Monday, May 13, 2024
David Stockman for the Brownstone Institute

Editors’ Note: We are grateful for David Stockman’s timely analysis. Originally approaching 2400 words, we have taken the liberty to shorten Mr. Stockman’s critique while preserving his concerns about the impossibilities of U.S. workers achieving the “American dream” of home ownership.

By the end of 2024 the US economy will be freighted down with more than $100 trillion of combined public and private debt. And it will not be characterized as either strong or even resilient.

So we’d bet that real output gains amounted to 1.5% per annum at best during the last six quarters. And that more than two-thirds of that was accounted for by the runoff of excess household cash. In short, maybe the US economy has actually been growing at 0.5% per annum.

Friday’s Jobs Report for April on May 10, 2024, provides further reinforcement. In fact, the 175,000 gain in the headline jobs number represented the action of an economy that is living on borrowed time but made to look more robust with a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. By the BLS’ own reckoning, total hours worked in the private sector during April 2024 declined by 0.2% from the March 2024 level, contradicting the strong labor market promoted by Wall Street “permabulls.”

When you look at the proper metric for labor utilization—hours worked rather than headline job counts which conflated 15 hour per week burger-flippers with 50 hour per week oilfield roughnecks—that de-acceleration has fallen by nearly two-thirds.

The Feds would have you believe that between June 2023 and today’s April 2024 report about 2.26 million new jobs have been created in the US economy, which amounts to a seemingly healthy gain of 226,000 per month.

Thar impressive number based on “mail-in” ballots from about 119,000 US businesses or about 2.0% of the nation’s 6.1 million total business units that have at least one paid employee. Moreover, there is no special reason to believe that the missing 68,000 responses are random or consistent with the mix of firms actually mailing in their results in prior months, quarters, and years.

Never mind that everything below the Bureau of Labor Statistics report’s headline jobs number warns of disconnects, inconsistencies, puzzles, contradictions, and unreliability. For instance, today’s companion “household “survey, which is based on 50,000 phone interviews, as opposed to mail-in reports, indicated a job gain of just 25,000.

The BLS reported 161.004 million total employed workers in June 2023, with a figure posted at 161.491 million in April 2024. The implied gain is 487,000 “workers” compared to the 2,260,000 additional “jobs” reported for the ten months ending in April.

So either each new “worker” in April was holding down 4.64 “jobs” (2,260,000 divided by 487,000) or there is a skunk on the woodpile here somewhere. And in fact, the full-time versus part-time employee factor turns out to be a special kind of big when it comes to the stink on the numbers.

According to the BLS, here are the levels and the change between June 2023 and April 2024:

Full-Time Employees: 134.787 million versus 133,889 million for a loss of 898,000 full-time employees.

Part-Time Employees: 26.248 million versus 27.718 million for a gain of 1.470 million part-time employees.

We’d say go figure or, better yet, throw a dart at the BLS report and go with the number it lands on—since nearly all of them are badly massaged and incessantly revised.

To be clear, our point here is not to give the BLS a C- for its efforts at job counting. To the contrary, it’s to give the Federal Reserve an F for even presuming that it can fiddle America’s $28 trillion economy between full employment and inflation on a month-to-month and even day-to-day basis via massive open market operations on Wall Street.

The whole misguided effort at monetary central planning has been an abject failure in part because the US economy—integrally intertwined in the $105 trillion global economy—is too complex, fast-moving, opaque, and ultimately mysterious to be stage-managed by the 12 mere mortals who sit on the Fed’s Open Market Committee, and who on a daily basis command the movements of tens of trillions of securities and derivative financial instruments. That’s because the Fed’s rate curs and interest rate suppression long ago lost their potency in an economy now saddled with $98 trillion of public and private debt.

In any event, the proof is actually in the pudding from April’s jobs report. As detailed above, between 1964 and the dotcom peak in 2000—and at a time before money-printing really went off the deep end—the BLS’ reasonably serviceable metric for total hours worked in the private economy had grown by about 2.0% per annum. Add another 2.0% per year for productivity improvement due to robust investment, technology progress, and the equipping of workers with more and better tools and production processes, and you had a 4% growth economy.

Obviously, no more. The Fed’s massive inflation of financial assets has caused a drastic diversion of capital into speculation on Wall Street rather than productive investment on Main Street. So productivity growth has faltered badly to just 1.25% per annum since 2010.

At the same time, the inflation-saturated US economy has lost much of its industrial base to lower-cost venues abroad. Consequently, since the pre-dotcom peak in 2000, the growth rate of private sector labor hours employed has plunged to 0.74% per annum. Thus, the ingredients of economic growth added together now amount to just 2.0% or half the historic rate.

At the end of the day, there is no doubt about it. Both productivity growth and labor growth have been systematically undermined and diminished by monetary central planning currently pursued by the Federal Reserve. And there is a trend toward a new round of destructive money-printing.

The failure of the Fed’s monetary central planning policy has maximized its harm on Main Street America. For instance, during the most recent month (January 2024) US home prices were up by 6.0% on a Year to Year basis and were therefore just one more reminder of why the Fed’s pro-inflation policies are so insidious. In essence, they set up a running battle between asset prices and wages, and the former wins hands down.

Index of Median Home Price Versus Average Hourly Wage, 1970 to 2023

We have indexed the median sales price of homes in America and the average hourly wage to their values as of Quarter 1, 1970. That was the eve of Nixon’s plunge into pure fiat money at Camp David in August 1971 and all the resulting monetary excesses and metastases since then.

Home prices today stand at 18.2X their Quarter 1, 1970 value while average hourly wages are at only 8.7X their value during that same time period. The median home sales price of $23,900 in Quarter 1, 1970 represented 7,113 hours of work at the average hourly wage. Assuming a standard 2,000-hour work year, wage workers had to toil for 3.6 years to pay for a median-priced home.

With the passage of time, of course, the Fed’s pro-inflation policies have done far more to goose asset prices than wages. Thus, at the time of Alan Greenspan’s arrival at the Fed after Quarter 2,1987, it required 11,350 hours to purchase a median home, which had risen to 12,138 hours by Quarter 1 ,2012 when the Fed made its 2.00% inflation target official. And after still another decade of inflationary monetary policy, it now stands at just under 15,000 hours.

In a word, today’s median home price of $435,400 requires 7.5 standard work years at the average hourly wage to purchase, meaning that workers now toil well more than twice as long as they did in 1970 to afford the dream of home ownership.

Why in the world would our esteemed central bankers wish to impoverish America’s workers by doubling the working hours needed to buy a median priced home? And, yes, the above assault on the middle class is a monetary phenomenon. It was not caused by home builders monopolizing the price of new houses nor by shortages of land, lumber, paint, or construction labor over that half-century period.

To the contrary, when the Fed inflates the monetary system, the resulting ill effects work through the financial markets and real economy unevenly. Prices, including those for labor and assets, do not move in lockstep, because foreign competition holds down some prices and wages while falling real interest rates and higher valuation multiples inherently cause asset prices to rise disproportionately.

Thus, the reference rate for all asset prices — the 10-year US Treasury note (UST) — fell drastically in real terms during the last four decades of that period. Real rates at 5%+ during the 1980s fell to the 2–5% range during the Greenspan era, and then plunged further, to zero or below, owing to the even more commonplace money-printing policies of his successors.

The stated purpose of the easy-money trend depicted above, of course, was to spur more investment in housing, among other sectors. But that didn’t happen. The residential housing investment-to-GDP ratio dropped from the historical 5–6% zone prior in 1965 to an average of 4.5% during the period of the Greenspan housing bubble peak in 2005. After the housing crash during the Great Financial Crisis it barely posted at 3% of GDP before rebounding irregularly to 3.9% in 2023.

Any way you slice it, however, the aggressive monetary expansion after 1987 did not spur incremental housing investment on any sustainable basis. Instead, it led to debt-fueled speculation in the existing housing stock, sending prices rising far faster and far higher than the growth of household income and wages. That untenable inflation is a stinging repudiation of the low interest rates promoted by both Wall Street and the Washington bureaucracy. The Federal Reserve’s fiddling with the U.S. $28 million economy to achieve full employment and 2.00% inflation is a trainwreck in full flight.

David Stockman, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is the author of many books on politics, finance, and economics. He is a former congressman from Michigan, and the former Director of the Congressional Office of Management and Budget


Monday, May 6, 2024
Alan Guebert | South Bend Tribune

There’s a joke about my fellow baby boomers making the rounds that goes something like this: In the 1960s, boomers didn’t trust anyone over 30, but as soon as they reached their 60s, they didn’t trust anyone under 30.

American farmers and ranchers have nearly the same dynamic with China: As long as its people and companies buy our soybeans, beef, pork and corn, we love each and every one of them and their dollar-stuffed wallets.

When Chinese companies or citizens start buying our farmland, technology and businesses, however, our farm leaders and politicians call them every name under the sun except “customer” or “investor.”

American farmers and ranchers aren’t alone in their sometimes-sunny, oftentimes-dark view of China and its political — and possibly nefarious — role in international markets. New York University business professor and popular podcaster Scott Galloway sees TikTok, the popular China-based social media platform used by nearly 145 million Americans, as “the ultimate propaganda tool.”

Galloway, who has often described TikTok as the most addictive social media platform he’s ever seen, adds that China “would be dumb ‘not to put their finger on the scales’” to make “the West look bad.”

More than 30 U.S. states have that same concern; 10 have banned state employees from loading the app on state-owned electronic devices and 20-plus (the number keeps growing) are considering legislation to do so. India, the world’s most populous country, banned TikTok after its user numbers nationwide hit 190 million.

Many in U.S. agriculture see China’s growing presence in our business and political arenas as even more sinister. For example, in 2023, 10 states enacted “restrictions on the ability of land purchases by foreign nationals,” according to MultiState, a lobbying firm that operates throughout the U.S.

While only one of those states, Alabama, enacted its law against China specifically, five other states did direct their new laws against American “adversaries such as China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran.” Presently, 19 states have “introduced some form of foreign land ownership ban …” in their statehouses.

While all this worrying and banning has been going on, China spent most of 2023 learning one of capitalism’s biggest lessons: Economic growth isn’t an endless ride upward. Even though the Chinese economy did, in fact, grow last year, its rise was the smallest since 1990, noted the Wall Street Journal.

Leading the slowdown was real estate. Sales, as measured by square footage, were down a calamitous 23% in 2023. Worse, in mid-January a Chinese court ordered Evergrande, one of China’s largest real estate developers, to liquidate its crumbling $300 billion “debt mountain.”

Additionally, more signs of coming weakness — deflation, falling stock markets (as U.S. stock indices hit record highs), and flagging consumer spending — suggest China is well on the path to become the next Japan, a global powerhouse that’s about to stumble for years as it juggles too much debt, a declining population and flagging exports.

While those deepening signs of trouble suggest Xi Jinping, China’s 70-year-old president, will surely spend more time on domestic politics to maintain power and order, other experienced China watchers think Xi will work even harder to lower tensions between his nation and the U.S.

In fact, noted the Washington Post, relations between the world’s two superpowers have taken a decidedly positive turn — probably because of China’s worsening economic outlook. “Much of the shift … stems from Beijing’s recognition that its own economy has been foundering while the United States’ is booming,” the Post reported Jan. 27.

Which only proves the age-old axiom that there’s nothing like a good customer — China for our ag exports and America for China’s manufactured and digital goods — to move people from pounding their fists at the negotiating table to picking up forks at the dinner table.


Sunday, May 5, 2024
By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

As the never ending fiasco known as Auburn Career Center versus CATA (CAREER & TECHNICAL ASSOCIATION) plods on, we have permission to publish a recent event between citizen extraordinaire, Mr. Brian Ames of Portage County, and Matt Markling, attorney for the wasteful taxing authority known as the Auburn Vocational School District Board of Education.

Matt Markling, the attorney responsible for the interminable delays on the CATA case, got his ass booted of my Public Records Act case. I don’t know if it is because he beclowned himself before the 11th district or because Auburn is realizing what a huge mistake they made in ever having him involved.

Best regards,
Brian M. Ames

LFC Input: The additional legal expenses of Auburn Career Center started by Matt Markling filing for a “Motion for Definite Statement”: 2024_04_16_motion_for_definite_statement.pdf

LFC Input: Mr. Ames filed an original action in mandamus in response to Markling’s “Motion for a Definite Statement”: 2024_04_24_response_definite_statement.pdf

LFC input: And here is the coup de grâce for attorney Markling, a “Notice of Substitution of Counsel and Appearance of Counsel for Defendant” filed by Auburn’s new lawyer in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals: 2024_05_01_notice_substitution_counsel.pdf

LFC Input: Auburn continues to burn through the taxpayers’ money on legal fees fighting a claim that they have already lost about five times in court. (Honestly, we have lost count.)

A note to all taxpayers: it appears Auburn will continue to fight in court because their money supply is endless because we voted for a continuous levy. That means they will keep collecting property taxes forever, and do not have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

We call on the Board of Trustees to do what is right and settle this case with CATA, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money. Although we know that you are all appointed and not elected by the people, therefore, regretfully, not accountable to the people, we want you to know that we are watching your actions. Do we have leaders or followers on this Board? We shall judge you by your fruits.

We will give all Board members a “heads up” because we, as overtaxed and abused taxpayers, will be exploring our options with Judicial Watch this coming week.

Here are the Auburn Board of Trustees, minus the new Chardon School District member Todd Albright:

Neysa Gaskins
Mary Wheeler
Barb Rayburn

Roger Miller

Susan Culotta

Kenneth Cahill
Jean Brush
Geoffrey Kent

Sherry Maruschak

Thomas Hach

Mr. Paul Stefanko, a man of honor with a moral code, resigned as a Board member over the Administration’s unethical behavior.


May 3, 2024
Tom Patterson | Townhall

Joe Biden loves to give away money, especially if it’s not his own. He has spent trillions of dollars for political benefit that didn’t need otherwise to be spent.

The recipients laud his compassion and generosity. Common Americans though are trapped in an inflationary spiral while our grandchildren face an unpayable bill.

Thus, in a recent presentation about his second attempt to forgive student loan debt, he actually bragged about the hundreds of billions it would cost. He twice mentioned the fact that many blacks would receive benefits.

He became so consumed in self-congratulation, that he apparently lost awareness of how blatant his political pandering. We know black voters are a key demographic in play in the upcoming election.

Biden’s sheer enthusiasm for spending again evidenced itself in his response to the Baltimore bridge collapse. His first reaction was to guarantee that the federal government would underwrite the entire cost of reconstruction. What a guy!

Neither offer made sense. Regarding student loan debt, the Supreme Court had affirmed that the Constitution means what it says, that the power to initiate spending lies solely with Congress. Most public criticism focused on the obvious unfairness of the policy, and how it would disadvantage those who had been responsible in favor of those who wished to renounce their legal obligations.

Biden’s bridge proposal was also nonsense. The bridge isn’t owned by the United States. There is no conceivable reason for the federal government to be deemed responsible for its repair. The bridge was demolished by a cargo ship, in an industry which insures heavily against such misfortunes. Other jurisdictions have also acknowledged partial responsibility.


Here’s the problem with the mindset that it’s okay to get involved with all these giveaways: we don’t have the money. We’re seriously in debt, with expenses vastly exceeding our income and no plan in place for repayment or even deficit reduction.

Biden is hardly the only politician who has deduced that spending other people's money (OPM) can win elections. Even many Republicans, to their shame, support the spending juggernaut. The spenders are the moral equivalent of a wastrel with no money and no job, with bankruptcy looming, who continues to pick up tabs and buy pricey gifts with credit cards he has no intention of paying off.

Still, the spenders know that Americans have mostly normalized excessive spending even when unnecessary. So Biden was able to propose a whopping $7.3 trillion budget for next year (up $500 billion in the last year alone) without provoking much outrage.

The $2 trillion spent on Covid relief accomplished nothing. It was mainly an excuse to push more money out the door. At least it was supposed to be temporary. Biden’s budget though would pocket the Covid bump and add yet more permanent spending, mostly on programs for “climate change” and other boondoggles. A $10 trillion budget by 2033 is projected.

What can’t go on forever won’t. Our present course is unsustainable. Income tax revenues are soaring yet the debt continues to grow. We are using borrowed money to pay the debt interest, which has surpassed all budget items except entitlement programs.

How do we get out of this death spiral? The left’s favorite solution is to raise taxes. That doesn’t work. The historical record shows that tax increases put us further in the hole.

For example, the Obamacare tax increases raised $1.4 trillion but so hindered economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that the feds lost $3.8 trillion in revenues. In contrast, President Clinton signed the 1997 Republican tax and spending cuts. Four years of budget surpluses ensued.

It’s well known that reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is necessary for a balanced budget. Yet both parties are interested only in demagoguing the other if they catch them even considering the issue. If the politicians, including Donald Trump, continue to insist on prioritizing incumbent reelection, the only way out may be for the people to take matters into their own hands.

Is anybody else interested in seriously revisiting the notion of amending the Constitution to mandate a balanced budget? Sure it may (or may not) be difficult but the consequence of doing nothing is surely worse.

Thomas C. Patterson is a retired emergency physician who lives in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He is the former majority leader of the Arizona State Senate and was chairman of the Goldwater Institute from 2000-2013.


Wednesday, May 1, 2024
By Judicial Watch

In a grim indicator of how news will be covered on taxpayer dime, the new head of the government-funded National Public Radio (NPR) is on the board of a leftwing activist organization called Center for Democracy and Technology that pushes for censorship and receives funding from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Her name is Katherine Maher, a former Wikimedia Foundation CEO, with liberal views publicly expressed throughout the years in her social media posts. In 2018, she called former President Donald Trump a racist in a post that has since been deleted, according to a mainstream newspaper report. A couple of years ago Maher shared a photo of herself in a “President Biden” campaign hat. In a 2021 video clip the new NPR chief describes the First Amendment as the top challenge in the fight against disinformation, a fictitious crisis created by the Biden administration to control information.

Maher takes over at NPR as a longtime NPR editor, Uri Berliner, reveals that liberal bias has altered the public radio network’s coverage in recent years, resulting in errors on major stories such as the Hamas attacks in Israel, Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal and COVID-19. “It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed,” Berliner, a 25-year NPR veteran wrote in a recently published essay. “We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding. In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population. An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America. That wouldn’t be a problem for an openly polemical news outlet serving a niche audience. But for NPR, which purports to consider all things, it’s devastating both for its journalism and its business model.” Berliner confirms that race and identity have become paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace and journalists are required to ask everyone they interview about race, gender, and ethnicity.

A few days ago, Berliner, a senior business editor, resigned, citing Maher’s response to his recent exposé. In an email to the radio network’s new CEO, Berliner wrote: “I am resigning from NPR, a great American institution where I have worked for 25 years. I respect the integrity of my colleagues and wish for NPR to thrive and do important journalism. But I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cite in my Free Press essay.” NPR and its new chief declined to comment publicly but the network’s news executive, Edith Chapin, wrote a memo to employees saying that inclusion among staff, sourcing and overall coverage is critical to telling the nuanced stories of this country and our world.

NPR is simply following the mainstream media’s leftist trajectory, though it has a duty to remain objective because it receives taxpayer dollars. The radio network was created over five decades ago as an educational news source that operates under the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which also includes television’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Its headquarters are in Washington D.C., and it has more than 1,000 radio stations nationwide. CPB’s 2024 operating budget is a whopping $535 million and, though most of it does not go to NPR, the public radio network says “federal funding is essential” and its continuation is critical. In fact, the news outlet’s website states that the elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism and eventually the loss of public radio stations.

This month a Virginia congressman introduced legislation to strip NPR of public money so that no taxpayer dollars fund its “radical left messaging.” The proposed legislation prohibits federal funding of NPR and prevents local public radio stations from using federal grant money to purchase content or pay dues to NPR. “It is bad enough that so many media outlets push their slanted views instead of reporting the news, but it is even more egregious for hardworking taxpayers to be forced to pay for it,” said Congressman Bob Good, the lawmaker behind the measure. “My legislation would ensure no taxpayer dollars are used to fund the woke, leftist propaganda of National Public Radio.”


Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Marty Schladen | Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s claim to not know about the millions an Akron utility spent supporting his 2018 campaign for governor simply isn’t credible, an Ohio political scientist said in a recent interview. A spokesperson for DeWine pushed back.

FirstEnergy provided that support, then spent more than $60 million to pass and protect a $1.3 billion ratepayer-financed bailout that mostly benefited the utility. In 2019, DeWine signed the law within hours of its passage.

But now that two GOP officials are in federal prison as part of the scandal and two others involved in the scheme have died by suicide, DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted are downplaying what they knew about FirstEnergy’s support for their campaigns. They’re also downplaying connections between their administration and the utility.

They say they supported the unpopular bailout because they thought it was good public policy to protect nuclear generation in Ohio.

However, a batch of records turned over in response to a records request by a group of news organizations — including Floodlight, the Energy News Network, the USA Today Network and the Capital Journal — are showing that the support they’ve gotten from FirstEnergy is greater than previously known.


The company made donations totaling $1 million to 501(c)(4) dark money groups supporting Husted in 2018 before he dropped his gubernatorial bid and joined the DeWine ticket. The records also reveal that the company gave as much as $2.5 million to dark money groups supporting DeWine the same year.

Husted’s office wouldn’t say whether the lieutenant governor knew about the contributions at the time they were made. DeWine Press Secretary Dan Tierney last week denied that DeWine knew about the trove of newly revealed FirstEnergy contributions.

University of Cincinnati political scientist David Niven said there’s a “zero-percent chance” that DeWine’s claim is true. He explained that in 2018, there was a nationwide backlash against the presidency of Donald Trump and support for Democrats was surging. That meant a “razor-wire thin” election for DeWine, a Republican running in a state Trump carried by eight points two years earlier, Niven said.

DeWine “was running in an election cycle when the tide was going against his party,” Niven said. “The notion that he was just this fumbling, naive grandpa who has no idea about seven-figure flows (supporting) his campaign is perhaps the single most far-fetched thing he’s ever said.”

There’s also the fact that it’s questionable for a company to make such a huge expenditure and not make sure the public official benefiting from it knew about it That seems especially true of FirstEnergy, which later admitted to paying an outright bribe of $4.3 million to Sam Randazzo just before DeWine nominated him to regulate the company and other Ohio utilities.

A state indictment of Randazzo and two former FirstEnergy executives says that on Dec. 18, 2018, the executives had dinner with Gov.-elect DeWine and Lt. Gov.-elect Husted and went from there to Randazzo’s condo to arrange the bribe. Randazzo, who was accused of helping to draft and lobby for the corrupt bailout, died by suicide earlier this month.


Tierney, DeWine’s press secretary, was asked last week why FirstEnergy would spend millions supporting his boss and not make sure DeWine knew about it. Tierney cited rules prohibiting dark-money groups from coordinating their activities with campaigns.

“Regarding your question regarding why donors to independent expenditures might not engage candidates directly on the independent expenditures, my guess is that this goes back to the fact that it is illegal for candidates to coordinate with 501 (c)(4) independent expenditure groups,” Tierney said in an email. “I would guess that entities that frequently make such donations are aware of those legal restrictions. I don’t believe you were trying to accuse the Governor of illegal conduct, as he follows the law, but I would vociferously push back on any such innuendo as there is no basis for it.”

However, merely informing a candidate of a contribution to an independent group doesn’t seem sufficient to meet the state’s definition of “coordination.” That applies to communications “made pursuant to any arrangement, coordination, or direction by the candidate, the candidate’s campaign committee, or the candidate’s agent… ” the Ohio Revised Code says.

Some special interests have made pious claims that they spend millions supporting candidates not to buy influence, but because they wish to support good governance. Niven, the political scientist, said such a claim would be laughable in the context of FirstEnergy and Ohio’s 2018 gubernatorial election.

“This is all about return on investment,” he said. “This isn’t even primarily about affecting the outcome of the election, it’s about affecting the behavior of the elected.”

And, Niven said, given that FirstEnergy’s expenditures in 2018 and 2019 won it a billion-dollar bailout, “The return on investment on this thing is spectacular.”


In an email, Tierney questioned press coverage implying that groups supporting DeWine received all of the $2.5 million in dark money FirstEnergy put up in 2018. The donations were made to a dark money group affiliated with the Republican Governors Association, but only $500,000 was specifically labeled “DeWine.”

“… I am sure Ohio political reporters are laser-focused on Ohio matters, I would point out that FirstEnergy operates in seven states,” Tierney said. “Some of those states have Republican governors, others have had recent Republican governors, and even more have had competitive gubernatorial elections recently as well.”

However, of those states, only four — Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland — had gubernatorial elections in 2018. And of those, Ohio’s was by far the closest and thus the most likely to be affected by big expenditures. It’s also the the state that had two nuclear plants that FirstEnergy was desperate to bail out.

DeWine beat Democrat Richard Corday by 3.7 percentage points. The next-closest race was in Maryland, where Republican Larry Hogan beat Democrat Ben Jealous by 12 points — or more than triple the margin in the Ohio race.

In addition, among the documents obtained by the news organizations are messages that demonstrate FirstEnergy’s interest in plowing dark money into Ohio’s 2018 gubernatorial election. One, from FirstEnergy Vice President Michael Dowling, attempted to ease worries over the company’s massive expenditures through the Republican Governors Association to help DeWine and Husted.

“Theoretically, DeWine/Husted could have a balance of $10M in their campaign account and the RGA could spend $40M in support of DeWine in Ohio,” Dowling said in an email first reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. “My point is that comparing the size of a contribution to the RGA to what the DeWine campaign has raised or what the DeWine Campaign’s current balance is can be done, but I’m not sure is logical.”


In addition to pleading ignorance of FirstEnergy’s dark money, the governor and his staff haven’t explained what senior members of his administration who had close connections to the company knew about about a vital part of the scandal — the relationship between FirstEnergy and the man DeWine picked to regulate it.

The governor and his staff have claimed that connections between Randazzo and FirstEnergy were common knowledge when DeWine took office in 2019. However, there’s little evidence to support the claim.

Meanwhile, Randazzo’s state indictment says Randazzo and FirstEnergy had a long, secret partnership that paid Randazzo millions even before his $4.3 million payoff in 2019. It also lays out evidence that both parties were anxious to keep it hidden.

Throughout the scandal, DeWine and his staff have staunchly maintained that the governor supported the FirstEnergy bailout not out of any ulterior motive, but because he thought it was good public policy. To support that, Tierney last week pointed to the fact that Cordray, DeWine’s Democratic challenger, also supported keeping FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants open.

But there’s some important context. FirstEnergy gave dark money to support DeWine and oppose Cordray. In addition, DeWine’s chief of staff, legislative-affairs director and his choice to regulate the industry all had lucrative financial connections to the company either contemporaneously or in the recent past.

“It’s just laughable,” Niven said. “They find themselves in the literal center of the biggest corporate-political swindle in the state’s history and their answer is, ‘Well anybody would have done this.'”


April 26, 2024
Sulma Arias | Ohio Capital Journal

Giant corporations want to keep their taxes low and the prices we pay high. We can’t let them win.

In 2004, I was a single mom raising three daughters on my own. I worked three jobs, including an overnight shift as a translator at our local hospital, to make ends meet. Every time I stood in line at the supermarket, I worried about what I would have to put back on the shelf to stay within our weekly $100 food budget.

My daughters are all grown now. But whenever I’m buying groceries, I still get that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach as I remember not knowing if we would have enough to eat, and how much — or how little — I could provide for my family with $100.

Prices for all of us have gone way up since COVID, and $100 now buys about $65 worth of groceries compared to five years ago. This puts a huge bite on working families, because we spend most of our income every month — as much as 90 percent — on food and other necessities. So when prices rise, we hurt the most.

Big corporations tell us that policies and supply chains are to blame for rising costs, but there’s a big part of the story they don’t want you to know: These giant corporations are themselves largely responsible for higher prices.

According to a new report by the Federal Trade Commission, the largest grocery retailers — which include Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon, which owns Whole Foods — used the pandemic as an excuse to raise prices across the board. The same is true for big agribusinesses like Tyson Foods and DuPont, which sell the lion’s share of meat products and seeds.

These giant companies wrote themselves a blank check during COVID, which they now expect us to pay for.

What all of these corporations have in common is they always want to get bigger. Why? Because when consumers have fewer choices, corporations can force us to pay higher prices. This is especially true with food, which none of us can live without. And according to the FTC, a big reason for these higher prices is corporate greed.

Time and again, big companies tell us that if they could only get bigger, they would pass savings on to consumers. This is almost never true. Instead, they give money back to their investors and reward executives — like Walmart’s Doug McMillon, who takes home over $25 million a year, and Kroger’s Rodney McMullen, who makes more than $19 million. That’s 671 times more than the amount an average Kroger’s worker makes.

Corporate consolidation can have deadly consequences. In health care, which my organization tracks closely, we see that the domination of private insurance by a handful of companies — Aetna, United Healthcare, and Cigna — leads to bigger bills, worse health outcomes, and lost lives.

The profits of retailers and agribusinesses have now risen to record levels, as much as five times the rate of inflation. How do companies like Tyson Foods, Kroger, and Walmart boost profits? The way they always do: by raising prices, while 65 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

No American should ever have to work three or more jobs just to survive: not in 2004, 2024, or 2044. We want a world in which every one of us has what we need not only to live, but also to dream. Identifying who is behind the rising cost of everyday essentials is a necessary first step.

Sulma Arias is executive director of People’s Action, the nation’s largest network of grassroots power-building groups, with more than a million members in 30 states.


Sunday, April, 28, 2024
Opinion by Alan Guebert

The first economist, Scotland’s Adam Smith, had it right almost 250 years ago when, as writer Eric Schlosser notes in the foreword of an important new book by Iowan Austin Frerick, that “…merchants and manufacturers were ‘an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public.’”

Few groups know this better than American farmers and ranchers who have seen the most vital sectors of their food-producing business–like meatpacking, grain merchandising, and seed technology–overtaken by today’s ever-growing, ever-grabbing “merchants and manufacturers.”

Frerick, like Smith, gets it right from the start in the callout title of his new book, Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry.

(Full disclosure: Frerick is a valued colleague and friend. Barons includes a handful of references to previous Farm and Food Files.)

In it, Frerick digs deeply into the rise of seven of these powerful, largely unknown baronial food families to tell how each came to dominate their respective sectors and how they now wield their accrued market power to make everything–from their neighbors to the environment to you–pay for it.

He begins with the compelling story of Jeff and Deb Hansen, two of the most unlikely hog farmers you’ve never heard of. Both were Iowa farm kids who, after marriage, began a hog enterprise with three sows. Their drive, skill, and innovations soon led them to expand. Then expand again. Then really expand.

Now their company, Iowa Select Farms, Frerick writes, “employs more than 7,400 people… and brings about five million hogs to market annually.”

Iowa Select became a cornerstone for the CAFO, or concentrated animal feeding operations, takeover of Iowa’s–then the nation’s–hog sector. Since 1992, Iowa’s CAFO-based hog population statewide has increased by “more than 50 percent while the number of hog farms has declined by over 80 percent.”

That rise delivered the Hansens a private jet (whose tail is reportedly emblazoned with the humble brag, “When Pigs Fly”), multiple homes, and kingmaker status in Iowa’s agbiz-dominated state government.

Their home state, however, hasn’t fared as well. Pigs, for example, now outnumber Iowans seven to one and produce the “manure equivalent to the waste of nearly eighty-four million people,” or “more than the population of California, Texas, and Illinois combined.”

Some “farmers,” huh?

Wait until you read about dairy barons, Sue and Mike McCloskey, whose cows produce 4 million school cartons of milk each day and 430,000 gallons–or a staggering 16 times more–manure.

Or the “faceless” Reimann family of Germany whose Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings is now the “world’s second largest purveyor of coffee” through brands like Peet’s, Caribou, Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and others too numerous to name. What is known, however, is that JAB entered the coffee-slinging business just 12 years ago and is now a global, if unknown, baron.

Other barons include the Cargill-McMillian family, the world’s most dominant grain merchandising company; “The Berry Barons,” J. Miles and Garland Reiter, who own Driscoll’s through which they control “about one-third of the US berry market” while not “actually growing any berries” at all; the Brazilian “Slaughter Barons,” Joesley and Wesley Batista of JBS infamy; and the Walton family whose domination of American grocery retailing continues to grow.

Frerick’s skill as both a serious academic and gifted storyteller keeps the pages turning as his colorful cast of characters build empires with everyday dinner items like pork chops, milk, coffee, and strawberries while few Americans even know who they are.

And even fewer know the ruinous impacts their rise in market power has had on rural America’s environment, economy, and people.

Frerick, a Fellow at Yale University, knows and his Barons warns us that these modern “merchants and manufacturers,” just like their 18th century counterparts, are nothing more than naked mercantilists.


April 27, 2024
Linda Harvey

WARNING: This report contains explicit content.

Recently, parents in several northern Ohio school districts became outraged when they discovered how schools were fulfilling a new Ohio instructional mandate. The new regulation, “Erin’s Law” went into effect in 2023, named after a victim of sexual abuse, and it requires child sexual abuse prevention education for children in K through 6th grade classes.

One curriculum recommended by Ohio officials to satisfy this requirement is Second Step, which many will recognize as a prominent provider of SEL programs (social emotional learning).

What these Ohio parents-- and they aren’t alone-- discovered is that Second Step’s bias is clear in promoting “LGBTQ” material to even young children, and then if you look at the underlying child development approach, their “expertise” is way off base and may even lead children into being groomed for sexual abuse.

Everyone wants to protect children from sexual abuse but not if the lessons are riddled with opportunities for children to be traumatized or to adopt an age inappropriate/harmful sexual perspective.

Second Step is owned by the Committee for Children, a Seattle-based company whose CEO, Andrea Lovanhill, is an open lesbian “married” to a woman. That one-sided, child-endangering perspective is woven throughout Second Step material.

When it comes to their abuse prevention lessons, we should pay particular attention to how this organization views normal child sexual development.

A CFC child sexual development chart compares “typical” behavior vs. areas of concern. CFC considers typical sexual behavior of children ages 2-3 years old to include the following: “Explore and touch their own genitals and show them to others” and “Rub their genitals on purpose (masturbate).” Children ages 4-6 year of age can be expected to “sometimes masturbate in front of others and can have orgasms.”

The Committee for Children “experts” also believe that children ages 7 to 12 may display these “typical” behaviors: “Masturbate, usually in private; play games involving sexual behavior such as ‘Truth or Dare’ or ‘Spin the Bottle’; try to see people without their clothes; look at pictures of people who are naked or with just a few clothes on; watch or listen to media with sexual content (TV, movies, music, websites, games).” They may also “Begin to be sexually attracted to their peers” and “Begin to have a sexual orientation,” i.e., something other than heterosexual as an identity or behavior.

And remember, these behaviors are what they consider normative -- not to be concerned about. On masturbation, a parent is only to be concerned if the child is doing this in public. This website is promoted to parents as a “support.”

Infamous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey would love this. Kinsey published the results of experiments on young children as if it was science, not horrific rape and abuse. Kinsey wanted to normalize child sexual behavior, even with adults, and included pedophiles among his academic collaborators. Yet his phony, criminally-obtained child research is still used to support countless policies on youth and sexuality.

No wonder parents don’t want Second Step teaching children about “child sexual abuse prevention.” Affirming the above activities among children is what many would consider grooming.

Those of us who were concerned from the outset that “Erin’s Law” would bring out the child sexualizers as school consultants were not wrong, unfortunately.

The pro-“LGBTQ” messaging and bias is throughout Second Step programming. For instance, CEO Lovanhill is featured in a Second Step video celebrating “pride” among youth. Second Step has a cozy relationship with GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. CEO Lovanhill interviewed the executive director of GLSEN on her podcast: “In this conversation, .... they share their insights into how schools can create a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment for LGBTQIA+ youth, educators, and families.”

The Second Step website posts numerous links to GLSEN material, as if this group is a positive influence on youth. It’s exactly the opposite.

GLSEN is a child-corruption group that advocates “LGBTQ” behaviors and identities for children of all ages and supports the “rights” of children to express these identities when and how they want, even without parental knowledge.

Second Step not only normalizes homosexuality and gender deviance in its SEL program but also in the child sexual abuse prevention curriculum through the topic of “sexual harassment” (by their flawed definition): “Along with reinforcing a sense of personal empowerment, addressing sexual and gender-based harassment (harassment based on gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression) is a crucial part of sexual abuse prevention.” [emphasis added]

The Second Step SEL material is opposed by many parents throughout the country as they discovered not only the extreme bias and advocacy of teen sexuality, but links are provided that lead adolescents to explicit, even dangerous misinformation. For instance, a quick review of the Second Step recommended website “Love Is Respect” will flabbergast many parents.

Marsha Metzger, founder of Parents on the Level, has uncovered much of this troubling information about Second Step. For details, go here to listen to Marsha’s excellent webinar.

While the intentions of Erin’s Law are no doubt positive, the reality often plays out quite differently. If Second Step SEL or its program for sexual abuse prevention is in your school, remove those lessons now.


Friday, April 26, 2024
Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor | ZDNET

Seven years ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under President Donald Trump's hand-picked Chair jit Pai, a former Verizon in-house lawyer, killed off net neutrality. In a decisive move, the now Democrat-controlled FCC has restored net neutrality rules along a 3-2 party-line vote.

Overseen by FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC has reinstated rules ensuring equal treatment for all internet traffic, marking a significant policy reversal from the Trump administration's deregulatory stance. The restored rules aim to ensure that broadband internet remains devoid of any preferential treatment or restrictions by internet service providers (ISPs).

Net neutrality seeks to ensure all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination. The policy means that ISPs shouldn't be allowed to speed up, slow down, or block access to specific websites or online services. Net neutrality aims to ensure that the internet remains a level playing field for everyone.

Net neutrality has been a vital component of the internet's operation for decades. Indeed, the basic concept of all ISPs sharing bandwidth equally and equitably dates back to the Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX), which made way for today's internet.

Specifically, the return of net neutrality in the US means, according to the FCC, that ISPs "will again be prohibited from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content." This is the formation of a national policy standard to "ensure that broadband internet service is treated as an essential service."

According to the FCC, these changes also mean that the agency can now play an active role "when workers cannot telework, students cannot study, or businesses cannot market their products because their internet service is out."

Rosenworcel also said the FCC can now stop ISPs from selling Americans' personal data or sharing it with tech companies to train artificial intelligence (AI) models. This does not mean, however, that the FCC will be "policing online speech. On the contrary, freedom of speech will be enhanced by open internet protections, because they will prevent broadband providers from blocking or disfavoring any type of online speech."

In an oral dissent, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr called this policy shift nothing more than a "power grab." He wasn't the only one. Republican politicians, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senator Ted Cruz, also labeled the plan an" illegal power grab." They argue that it subjects the broadband industry to burdensome regulations, which could include rate regulations and other restrictive measures.

Other critics of the return of net neutrality, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, agree. The Chamber lambasted the recent FCC decision, claiming it re-imposes an antiquated regulatory framework on a modern broadband landscape, potentially hampering future technological investments and innovation.

Conversely, public interest advocates like Free Press heralded the move as a pivotal victory for consumers, empowering the FCC to keep major ISPs like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon accountable for any detrimental practices affecting internet users.

"This is a huge victory for the public interest," Free Press said in a statement. "The agency now has the ability to protect the free and open internet -- and to track service outages, protect internet users from ISPs' privacy invasions, promote broadband competition and deployment, and take action against hidden junk fees, data caps, and billing rip-offs."

Some tech organizations, such as the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, and Meta, have voiced support for the restored net neutrality rules. The CCIA's chief of staff and SVP Stephanie Joyce said the "CCIA applauds and thanks the FCC for restoring the light-touch but necessary Open Internet rules that will give broadband internet access subscribers the protections that Congress established for all users of telecommunications."

This issue is far from settled. The battle for net neutrality will now be played out in the courts and the ballot boxes.


Thursday, April 25, 2024
David DeWitt | Ohio Capital Journal Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Columnist

Our first knowledge of the bailout that became known as HB6 was in 2018 when a group of us met with Jamie Callender, Ohio House district 57, in his office in Lake County. Though we came to Jamie with other issues, he spent most of the meeting lobbying us for a bailout for First Energy, owner and operator of Perry Nuclear.

It was some time later when we attended with a group of citizens a conservative meeting in the building across from Auburn Career Center. Two professional lobbyists took turns preaching to us about what we should believe. Davis-Besse plant in Oak Harbor, near Sandusky and Perry Nuclear plant, east of Cleveland, were the topic. The two lobbyists played a game, one for bailout and the other against. They conned almost the whole crowd.

Several weeks later we attended a Tea Party meeting at the Metzenbaum Center in Chester, Geauga County. This time a different professional tried to convince us pass the bill that became HB6, which became the most notorious scandal in Ohio history. Again, almost the whole group was mesmerized and in the lobbyist’s corner.

Together we witnessed first hand how dark money works. We are amazed just how easy it was to sway a group of people.


Next to gerrymandering, the biggest institutional driver of dangerous and destructive political misrepresentation in Ohio and across America is the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 Citizens United ruling allowing unbridled, dark money, pay-to-play corruption, which has now led to the biggest political bribery scandal in state history.

The central feature of that criminal racketeering scheme was the use of 501(c)(4) dark money groups by FirstEnergy and now-imprisoned former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder to launder campaign donations and prop up the candidacies of politicians who would support an unnecessary $1.3 billion bailout for the utilities industry at the expense of consumers.


Householder’s dark money group, Generation Now, has pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy, and was used by FirstEnergy to funnel more than $60 million worth of bribes to Householder’s political machine to make him Ohio House Speaker and pass the bailout. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bailout the same day it was passed.

$15 million of the Generation Now came via another dark money group, Partners for Progress. FirstEnergy gave $25 million to Partners for Progress between 2017 and 2019. A FirstEnergy lobbyist named Dan McCarthy was listed as the principal of Partners for Progress in 2017, later leaving to become DeWine’s legislative affairs director where he lobbied to pass the House Bill 6 bailout. Certain FirstEnergy executives were also involved in choosing the three directors of Partners for Progress, two of whom were FirstEnergy lobbyists.

FirstEnergy also gave $1 million in 2017 to a dark money group called Freedom Frontier supporting Jon Husted as he made a Republican Party primary bid for the nomination to run for governor. The group then supported DeWine after Husted dropped out of the primary race to become his running mate.

In 2018, FirstEnergy donated $2.5 million to a Republican Governors Association-affiliated dark money group called State Solutions backing DeWine for governor. In 2019, they gave $300,000 to another dark money group called Securing Ohio’s Future, for a grand total of nearly $4 million in dark money to support DeWine/Husted.

Leaving no pocket unfilled, FirstEnergy also made a $300,000 contribution in 2019 to a dark money group called Liberty Ohio, which a FirstEnergy lobbyist tied to now-Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, calling it “the Huffman C4.”

As far as traditional campaign spending, now-indicted former FirstEnergy executive Chuck Jones hosted a fundraiser for DeWine at his home. The company also gave nearly $1 million in traditional campaign money to legislators, other officeholders, candidates and political parties. This included FirstEnergy’s largely employee-funded political action committee, which gave $25,202 to the 2018 DeWine campaign and $10,000 to his inaugural committee. Alongside Jones providing $12,700 in food and beverages for the DeWine fundraiser, the total in traditional funding comes to $47,902. After the scandal broke in 2020, DeWine pledged to donate $35,000 of that, noting at the time that FirstEnergy executives had not been charged.


Shortly before winning the 2018 race for governor, DeWine met with FirstEnergy executives at an RGA fundraiser in downtown Columbus on Oct. 10, 2018, the Dayton Daily News first reported. FirstEnergy Solutions then donated $500,000 to the Republican Governor’s Association, according to tax records.

Shortly after winning the 2018 race for governor, on Dec. 18, 2018, DeWine, Husted, Jones and now-indicted FirstEnergy executive Michael Dowling met at the Columbus Athletic Club. That same night, Jones and Dowling went from that dinner to the German Village condo of FirstEnergy lobbyist Sam Randazzo, where they seem to have negotiated a $4.3 million payment that FirstEnergy has admitted in a deferred prosecution agreement was a bribe.

When Randazzo was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in December 2023 on 11 felony counts of bribery and embezzlement, the charges included allegations that Randazzo had a corrupt relationship with the FirstEnergy executives stretching back to 2010, allegedly serving as general counsel to the Industrial Energy Users of Ohio while secretly being paid as a consultant for FirstEnergy: Randazzo settled disputes over electricity rates on terms acceptable to the energy companies, then channeled the settlement money through shell companies where he skimmed off a portion, the indictment said.

Between 2016 and 2019, FirstEnergy paid $13 million into Randazzo’s shell companies, a state-level indictment of Randazzo said. Of that, Randazzo passed $7.75 million to the industrial users and pocketed the rest, it said. DeWine’s chief of staff, Laurel Dawson, was married to a man who had been a paid lobbyist for FirstEnergy — and who had received a $10,000 loan from Randazzo in 2016, the indictment said.

In January 2019, as Randazzo was being vetted to chair the PUCO, he told Dawson, DeWine’s then-chief of staff, about the $4.3 million payment, but he did not tell her about the other millions he had received from FirstEnergy, the indictment said. Randazzo didn’t report any of the payments to the Ohio Ethics Commission, it added.

A former aide gave DeWine a 198-page dossier reporting shady financial connections between Randazzo and FirstEnergy on Jan. 28, 2019. But the governor’s office says that Dawson never told the governor about the $4.3 million payment before DeWine nominated Randazzo to chair the PUCO on Feb. 4, 2019.

According to the state indictment, Randazzo spent the rest of the year and part of the next helping to draft and openly lobby for the corrupt bailout. The bailout was passed and signed in July 2019.

Householder and four others were arrested in July 2020. But it wasn’t until the following November — when the FBI searched Randazzo’s condo — that Dawson says she told the governor about the $4.3 million payout.

DeWine has staunchly defended Dawson, just as he defended McCarthy, the former aide and FirstEnergy lobbyist with the dark money bribery pass-through group. McCarthy resigned his position in September 2021, but DeWine has kept Dawson on staff as an advisor earning more than $180,000 per year. In September 2023, DeWine appointed McCarthy to the state racing commission.


After the scandal broke, the nuclear part of Ohio House Bill 6 was eventually repealed, but the law’s gutting of the state’s renewable energy portfolio still stands, as does the bailout of two 1950s-era coal plants, one of which is in Indiana.

Householder and former state GOP Chairman Matt Borges are serving 20 years and five years respectively in federal prison for their roles. Two other lobbyists cooperated and are awaiting sentencing, while a third died by suicide wearing a “DeWine for governor” t-shirt in June 2021. Randazzo died by suicide on April 9, 2024.

FirstEnergy shareholders have filed a lawsuit, an ongoing case in which DeWine has been subpoenaed and Husted has been called on to give a sworn deposition.

Asked this week about the Oct. 10, 2018 RGA fundraiser meeting with FirstEnergy executives, DeWine claimed, “I don’t remember that. I’m not disputing it. I just don’t remember. I don’t remember the meeting.”

As for the Dec. 18, 2018 dinner with FirstEnergy executives, DeWine has said he doesn’t recall Randazzo’s name coming up.

Asked this week about the $4 million that FirstEnergy spent in dark money supporting his bid for governor, DeWine claimed he didn’t know about it.

After the death of Randazzo, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has said the state’s prosecution will proceed, and Jones and Dowling, who have pleaded not guilty, will still have to face their day in court.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Ken Parker has said his team will also continue to pursue the widespread corruption case.


Deploying one of the most absurd, naive, and destructively dumb statements I’ve ever read in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from my lifetime, then-Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2010 authored the landmark campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission:

“(W)e now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. … The fact that speakers (i.e., donors) may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt. … The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy,” Kennedy claimed.

What combination of delusional hallucinogenics was Kennedy on what he made that obnoxious declaration?

As then-Justice John Paul Stevens observed in his dissent, the majority’s Citizens United ruling is “a rejection of the common sense of the American people.”

This entire dark money political bribery and money laundering scheme in Ohio was made possible exactly because a narrow majority of Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court declared that for the purposes of the constitution, corporations are people and money is speech.

They followed the Citizens United ruling with several others that removed any and all accountability for dark money political spending, including upholding the SpeechNow.org v. FEC appellate ruling months after Citizens United, and their McCutcheon v. FEC ruling in 2014 by another 5-4 vote.

Combined, these decisions have cleared the way for wealthy individual donors, corporations, and other moneyed special interests to spend unlimited dark money on elections. And oh boy, have they ever.

Outside groups have poured billions of dollars into influencing American elections since the Citizens United ruling.

Take just our races in Ohio for one of our seats in the U.S. Senate, and just outside spending for or against candidates: According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2004 the amount was just over $45,000. In 2010, it was nearly $3.5 million. In 2016, it was more than $54 million. In 2022, it was just shy of $100 million dollars.


This is all so far beyond ridiculous there’s nary a word for it. Gerrymandered rigging of district maps to guarantee supermajority party power goes hand-in-hand with a system of campaign finance that allows for this kind of pervasive pay-to-play corruption infecting government.

If voters are ever to truly save Ohio and the American Republic by restoring true representation of the people and the people’s interests, poisonous gerrymandering and corrupt political spending have to be addressed as first priorities.

This should have been done here in Ohio nearly four years ago when the FirstEnergy scandal first broke. But supermajority Republican lawmakers, with DeWine by their side, instead spent 2021 and 2022 imposing more unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps. And while they’ve found time to indulge every culture war distraction on the extremist right-wing menu, they’ve done absolutely nothing to address widespread public corruption.

This relentless, belligerent misrepresentation of the people of Ohio and our best interests has only led to miserable public outcomes, and for myself, as a seventh generation Ohioan whose family moved here in 1805, it all embarrasses us deeply in the eyes of the nation.


Thursday, April 25, 2024
Laura Link | The Conversation

After refusing to give some students grades they hadn’t earned, high school chemistry teacher Toni Ognibene sued the Clovis Unified School District in California for allegedly retaliating against her. The lawsuit was filed in December 2023.

In 2020, Michael Ramsaroop, a teacher at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism High School in Brooklyn, New York, sued his principal, his union and the city’s Department of Education after he was fired following a series of disputes that began when he refused to change his students’ grades.

In 2018, fifth grade teacher Sheri Mimbs sued Henry County Schools in Georgia. She claimed she was fired in 2017 for objecting to the assistant principal’s directive to change a number of zeroes she reported for students’ missing assignments. The district had a policy, she asserts, indicating that a failing grade of 60% is the lowest possible score a student can receive on any particular assignment or exam.

Ognibene, Ramsaroop and Mimbs are among a growing group of teachers rebelling against orders to change grades – and filing federal lawsuits to allege they’ve been disciplined for their refusals or protests.

They object to directives to ease grading standards, pass failing students and implement minimum grade policies – for example, policies requiring all students to receive a grade no less than a “D” or 60%. The educators assert that these are dishonest and unfair practices that misrepresent students’ true academic performance.

As a scholar of education who studies grading practices, I view these lawsuits as proof that some districts are undermining teacher autonomy and disregarding the importance of accurate grades. I’m also aware that in many cases, administrators are trying to correct unfair grading itself.

I believe the system needs serious reforms, and I have some ideas.


Each of these lawsuits is alike despite differences in geography, subject matter and grade level.

Ognibene said she received a formal “Memorandum of Concern” after resisting pressure to raise students’ grades on multiple occasions. “I didn’t want to do it, but along with being against it for ethical and moral reasons, my credential was at risk,” Ognibene told the Sacramento Bee. Her lawsuit is pending.

Ramsaroop alleges that his refusal to inflate grades began a series of disputes that led to his 2017 termination. The principal “created a hostile work environment based upon his age and seniority at the Academy … in retaliation for his opposition to falsifying student grades,” the lawsuit claims. Ramsaroop’s lawsuit was dismissed in 2022.

Likewise, in 2018, Mimbs alleged that she was fired for protesting an administrator directive to not give grades below 60%. The case, dismissed on technical grounds, was revived by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2022. It is still pending. Mimbs, meanwhile, says she hasn’t been able to find a teaching job since her firing.

If teachers give students grades they haven’t earned, “how do we know when kids are failing or when they’re doing well?” Mimbs asked WSB-TV in Atlanta.

It’s an important question. Grades remain the primary basis for making important decisions about students. They determine a student’s promotion, honor roll status and enrollment in advanced or remedial classes. They factor into special education services and college admissions. Parents turn to grades to reward their child or determine if support, such as tutoring, is needed.

Everyone involved – the school, the teacher, the specific student, their classmates and colleges – suffers harm when grades are inaccurate, inflated and unjustified.


Still, there are serious concerns with how grading works. As I wrote for The Conversation in March 2023, there is also a wave of litigation across the U.S. in which students and parents are suing schools over grading schemes they claim are unjust and inappropriate.

While teacher autonomy is a bedrock tradition in education, my research shows it also results in inconsistency, inequity and even unreliability. What one teacher considers a quality assignment or paper, for example, can differ greatly from another. Teachers often include aspects of students’ behavior, such as effort and participation, in the grades they assign.

I contend that mixing students’ behavior with their academic performance distorts the meaning of grades and diminishes their academic accuracy. Students of color may get lower grades when teachers’ implicit biases influence how they consider behavioral factors when assigning grades, studies show.

Minimum grade requirements, then, are a way some schools address these issues. But multiple recent investigations show that report-card grades often don’t accurately reflect how students perform on tests at the end of the year.


School leaders shouldn’t wait until a conflict arises to ensure grade integrity. Here are three practical steps administrators can take to head off problems in advance.

1. First, schools could conduct gradebook audits throughout each marking period to detect common issues like grade deflation, in which an overabundance of lower-than-expected grades or lack of grades are reported. A proactive intervention could avert headaches later.

2. Second, schools can create grade reports using a three- to five-point scale. This would provide a more accurate reflection of academic proficiency than a conventional 100-point scale. In a three- to five-point scale, a zero or low number wouldn’t excessively penalize a student for one missed assignment or poor performance early in a marking period. Students would still be able to recover from low scores, and this provides an incentive to try.

3. Finally, teachers could use grading rubrics that are explained to students at the start of the semester or when an assignment is given. As I have written, by establishing clear and detailed criteria for grading, teachers can be more transparent and lessen the potential for their own biases to affect how they grade.

Conflict over grades is a fixable problem. The teachers who are suing feel it’s a professional affront to be forced to alter grades, and families suing believe the grading systems are unfair. Both have important points and perspectives. If these three proactive solutions are implemented, many of the conflicts and legal challenges over grades can be averted.

Laura Link is Associate Professor of Teaching and Leadership, University of North Dakota


Tuesday, April 23, 2024
by Jeff Reynolds| The Ohio Star

President Joe Biden has taken every part of the federal government and transformed it into his personal reelection machine, creating a hyper-partisan election apparatus out of supposedly neutral federal agencies. And American taxpayers pay for all of it.

Just since the beginning of April, several explosive revelations have surfaced that show the extent to which Joe Biden has weaponized the federal government in election matters. This should come as no surprise, as the administration continues to unfairly weaponize the federal courts against January 6 defendants, and state and federal courts maliciously prosecute Donald Trump, his rival in the presidential election.

The plan is as brazen as it is comprehensive, proving the Biden administration doesn’t want a fair election in 2024.


A non-governmental agency (NGO) that receives taxpayer money—and also lobbies the federal government—encourages illegal immigrants to vote for Biden once they get established in the United States. The Daily Signal, citing MuckRaker.com, reported fliers found all over a staging center for migrants in northeastern Mexico, on the US border:

An advocacy group based in Northeastern Mexico that lobbies U.S. lawmakers has distributed and posted flyers encouraging illegal immigrants to vote for President Joe Biden in the 2024 election, according to The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project.
Translated from Spanish, the Oversight Project notes, the flyers posted by the organization Resource Center Matamoros say: “Reminder to vote for President Biden when you are in the United States. We need another four years of his term to stay open.”

The Resource Center Matamoros (RCM) works with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), which the Oversight Project says “helps illegal aliens enter the United States.” Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas (D) formerly served on the HIAS board of directors. HIAS has received “numerous” grants from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Many faith-based non-profits that take U.S. taxpayer money, including HIAS, help migrants cross the border illegally.

Independent war correspondent Michael Yon has spent significant time in the Darien Gap, a treacherous mountainous area on the border of Panama and Colombia. Yon documents the flow of illegal immigrants coming to America from across the world. In 2023, he recorded a HIAS employee as she instructed illegals how to make the long journey across Central America, through Mexico, and over the US border. Another video from Feb. 2024 shows the large caravans of migrants, sometimes aided in their journey with rides on brand new bus transports.

The U.S. House of Representatives delivered Articles of Impeachment against Sec. Mayorkas to the Senate on Apr. 16. This will have no effect on the almost 10 million illegal immigrants that have already come to the United States. The vast majority of those illegals will likely not vote in 2024. But if the election is as close as it was in 2020—in which Biden “won” the Electoral College with 81,139 votes in four swing states—it would take only a tiny fraction of those ten million illegals to vote and swing the election. Even if they don’t cast a vote, their mere presence on the voter rolls in swing states presents an inordinate opportunity for election malfeasance.


According to the Voter Reference Foundation (VRF), while states have put in place several security steps to verify identity for new or updated voter registration records, no requirement exists to prove citizenship in order to vote in a federal election:

The only protection citizens have is the requirement for a registrant to attest that they are a citizen, and if an alien votes in a federal election, it is a crime under US law, punishable by fines and up to a year in prison. Many would argue that there need to be more controls and harsher punishments in place to deter bad actors and ensure only citizens are registering to vote, and we at the Voter Reference Foundation tend to agree. While the risk of non-citizens participating our election system is relatively small, the impact it can have on voter confidence is enormous and extremely disruptive to the electoral process.

In some states, illegal aliens can obtain driver’s licenses or driver’s cards distinct from a license. VRF notes that this presents a security vulnerability:

There are currently 31 states who do not issue drivers licenses to non-citizens, so any registrant information in those states would in-fact be checking for citizenship. The remaining 19 plus the District of Columbia do have programs that can issue drivers licenses to non-citizens with appropriate identifying information. All drivers’ licenses are not equal though, and in the [motor vehicle] databases there are distinctions between citizen and non-citizen drivers licenses that would indicate to the voter registration system the citizenship status of that registrant.


According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), DHS has refused to publicly identify the “dozens of U.S. international airports for which it has approved direct flights from abroad for certain inadmissible aliens.” As of February, almost 400,000 “migrants” had flown to interior American airports under a program launched by the Biden administration in Oct. 2022. CIS Senior National Security Fellow Todd Bensman reports the vast majority of those flights landed in Florida, a state won by Republicans by an average of 20 points in the 2022 election cycle in statewide races. A smaller but significant number of those flights went to Texas, New York, and California.

Bensman reports that states have begun to sue the federal government for hiding the data from the public:

Public knowledge of where these flights deliver migrants should matter to local, state, and national leaders in cities struggling with migrant influxes, who could use the information to financially plan for their care, or petition the federal government to stop the flights. The information may also hold implications for litigation by Texas, Florida, and other states that have sued to stop the parole programs on grounds that the administration’s illegal abuse of the narrow statutory parole authority has directly harmed them.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody accused the Biden administration of “disproportionately taxing the resources of certain states.”


Biden’s 2021 Executive Order (EO) 14019 directs all government agencies to “expand access to voter registration,” among other efforts. The Governmental Accountability Institute (GAI), run by author Peter Schweizer, has sounded the alarm. GAI raised the likelihood that the various agencies will exploit this order to target blue precincts and demographics that will vote for Democrats:

American federal elections are, by Constitutional design, administered by the states. This ingenious design was to prevent a tyrannical federal government from interfering in its own elections. The intent of Biden’s executive order undercuts that. And supporters of the effort think as many as 3.5 million new voter registrations will come of it.
By “weaponizing” federal agencies that operate within the states to integrate voter registration efforts through careful targeting to their most reliable constituents. That’s why HHS has added voter registration assistance to the website Healthcare.gov, for example. It’s why the Treasury department is now integrating voter registration into the tax preparation services it offers to low-income people. It’s why the Housing and Urban Development department, which administers public housing, is integrating voter registration in the units the department manages, or why the General Services Administration has spent millions on translating voter registration forms.

GAI also reports that the US Marshals Service now offers voter registration to prisoners in pre-trial federal custody. They even plan to install voting booths in NINE HUNDRED federal prisons and jails for use on Election Day. Federal agencies even include voter registration on student loan application forms.

States with Republican Attorneys General have sued to stop all this, as GAI notes, calling them “partisan electioneering for Democrats, funded by taxpayer money.”

Campaigns should make these types of efforts. Federal agencies should not. The potential for partisan abuse is obvious.


The Daily Caller reported the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has handed out “millions of taxpayer dollars to a coalition featuring two immigration-focused activist organizations, one which pushes voter registration for traditionally Democrat-leaning demographics.” Under its Environmental Justice grant making program in December 2023, EPA gave $50 million to two “immigrant justice” non-profit organizations in the New York City area. These radical organizations explicitly engage in voter registration and GOTV efforts in heavily democratic precincts. The report also cites several studies showing immigrants “identify more frequently with the Democratic Party.”


In February, the Department of Education publicized a new rule taking advantage of EO 14019. The new rule allows colleges to use federal work-study funds to pay college students who work on voter registration campaigns:

This work can include supporting broad-based get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, providing voter assistance at a polling place or through a voter hotline, or serving as a poll worker. We believe this reading is supported by the language of 34 CFR § 675.22(b)(5) and adheres to the meaning of the regulation when read as a whole, namely promoting student employment in the public interest while ensuring that such work is neither associated with any faction in election for public or party office, nor constitutes political activity.

Yet another policy by a federal agency targeted to expand registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts in demographics that strongly skew blue.


The Federalist reports the Biden administration mandated federal agencies, under EO 14019, to work with “approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations.” In 2020, the Zuck Bucks grants, now illegal in 28 states, distributed over $400 million to state and county election offices. Ostensibly for election support in these “unprecedented times” of the pandemic, Zuck Bucks often targeted GOTV and voter registration efforts in heavily Democratic precincts.

Hold my beer, says the Biden administration. $400 million pales in comparison to the resources the federal government can throw at these mandates. The Biden administration has sent those resources through the Department of Agriculture (USDA)—not exactly noted for its voter integrity function. The USDA will work with state agencies to “provide local program operators with promotional materials, including voter registration and non-partisan, non-campaign election information, to disseminate among voting-age program participants and their families”—via the school breakfast and lunch programs in various states. “The left doesn’t have COVID to lean on this time around,” The Federalist reports, “so it’s using the full force of the federal government in its attempt to keep and consolidate its power.”

That is the theme of everything the Biden administration has done. Using the excuse of “expanding voter access” and “combating systemic racism,” it has weaponized federal agencies of all types to mount the largest Democrat GOTV in human history—all paid by your taxes.

From voter registration, to voter turnout, to encouraging illegal immigrants to vote, Americ’’s most radical president has hijacked every arm of the federal government to drag him across the finish line this November. And you’re paying for it.

– – –

Jeff Reynolds is the Senior Investigative Researcher for Restoration of America. He is the author of the book, Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Effort to Undermine Democracy. You can find all his work at www.whoownsthedems.net.