Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

Commentary for 2024 January thru March

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2024 Jan-March,      



PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA PREFERS BIDEN TO TRUMP BUT CRITICIZES CURRENT US POLICY

February 15, 2024
Darlene Superville | Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would prefer to see U.S. President Joe Biden win a second term, describing him as more experienced and predictable than Donald Trump — even though Moscow strongly disagrees with the current administration’s policies.

Putin’s comments during an interview with Russian state television Wednesday were his first about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, likely to pit Biden against Trump. They were rare praise for Biden, a fierce critic of the Russian leader who has frequently lauded Trump.

“Biden, he’s more experienced, more predictable, he’s a politician of the old formation,” Putin said, when asked which candidate would be better for Russia. “But we will work with any U.S. leader whom the American people trust.”

Putin’s motives for saying Biden is a better choice for Russia were unclear, but the assertion was eyebrow-raising given prior U.S. government assessments of the Russian leader’s support for Trump and of Kremlin efforts to tip American elections in his favor.

The apparent endorsement was not welcomed by the White House. Asked during a briefing on Thursday about Putin’s remarks, national security spokesman John Kirby responded, “I think Mr. Putin knows very well what this administration has been doing to counter Russia’s malign influence around the world.”

“Mr. Putin should just stay out of our elections,” Kirby added.

AP AUDIO: Putin says Russia prefers Biden to Trump, calling the US president more experienced and predictable.

AP correspondent Karen Chammas reports on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments on his favorite for president of the U.S.

Trump, by contrast, immediately hailed the statement at a campaign rally Wednesday night, calling it a “great compliment” to him.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Putin ordered a hidden campaign to influence the 2016 race in favor of Trump over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, with Russian operatives hacking Democratic emails and facilitating their release in the run-up to the election. More recently, intelligence agencies concluded that Putin had authorized influence operations in the 2020 election aimed at denigrating Biden, boosting Trump, undermining confidence in the vote and exacerbating social divisions in the U.S.

Trump and Putin, who have frequently praised each other in the past, have dismissed such findings.

Putin did also blast the White House’s policy toward Russia, describing it as “badly flawed and wrong.”

The remarks come at time of heightened tension between Russia and the West — and deep disagreements in the U.S. about how best to counter Russia and help Ukraine.

Putin has claimed that he sent troops into Ukraine to protect Russian speakers there and to prevent a threat to Russia’s security posed by Ukraine’s bid to join the NATO alliance. Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced Moscow’s action as an unprovoked act of aggression. Several NATO countries, chief among them the U.S. under Biden’s leadership, have sent Kyiv weapons and other military aid to fend off Russian forces.

Trump, meanwhile, recently called into question U.S. funding for Ukraine and said he once warned he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are “delinquent” in investing in their own defense. Those comments sent shock waves through Europe, where some leaders are preparing for a time when the U.S. does not play the pivotal role in NATO that it does now.

Trump’s statement sharply contrasted with Biden’s pledge “to defend every inch of NATO territory.” Biden accused Trump on Tuesday of having “bowed down to a Russian dictator.”

In the interview, Putin noted that Trumps’ view of relations with NATO’s allies is consistent with his approach during his presidency, even though the Europeans sharply disagree.

The Russian leader described NATO as a “U.S. foreign policy tool,” adding that “if the U.S. thinks that it no longer needs this tool it’s up to it to decide.”

Asked about speculation on Biden’s health issues, Putin responded that “I’m not a doctor and I don’t consider it proper to comment on that.” He added that Biden seemed in fine shape when the two leaders met in Switzerland in June 2021.

Biden’s team has worked to alleviate Democratic concerns over alarms raised by a special counsel about Biden’s age and memory. They came in a report determining that Biden would not be charged with any criminal activity for possessing classified documents while a private citizen.

Asked about his impressions from his last week’s interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Putin said he expected Carlson to be more aggressive. Putin used the interview to push his narrative on the fighting in Ukraine, urge Washington to recognize Moscow’s interests and press Kyiv to sit down for talks.

Carlson didn’t ask Putin about war crimes Russian troops have been accused of in Ukraine, or about his relentless crackdown on dissent.

“I expected him to be aggressive and ask the so-called tough questions, and I wasn’t only ready for it but wanted it because it would have given me a chance to respond sharply,” Putin said.

“He didn’t allow me to do what I was ready for,” Putin said, describing Carlson as a “dangerous man.”



KENSTON SCHOOL DISTRICT – HOW SWEET THE $1.2 MILLION WINDFALL

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Based on the Geauga County Budget Commission Special Session of Tuesday, February 8, 2024, in the Auditor’s Conference Room, at 215 Main Street, Chardon, and the Video Record produced by the Auditor’s Staff, the following account is provided in reference to Kenston Local School District’s cash accounts.

If readers will recall, Kenston Local Schools were requested to help out Auburn and Bainbridge taxpayers by giving back a portion of the unvoted windfall the system “fell into” at the same time that a ballot levy failed.

The Revenue Certification of $71,002, 463.76 resulted from an accumulation of A$49,001,187.14 in the General Fund; $2,136,054.60 in Special Revenue; $6,762,090.20 in Debt Service; $1,308,226.40 in Capital Project; $2,174,895,72 in Enterprise Funds; $9,549,225.48 in Internal Service Funds; and $70,874,22 in Fiduciary Funds.

The Auditor noted Kenston Local School District’s inordinately large amount of revenue, one-third of third of the entire revenue of Geauga County solely because of property value increases mandated by the Auditor of the State of Ohio.

The Certification noted that NOT EVEN ONE PENNY of that horde was returned to Kenston taxpayers to ease their struggle to raise the funds demanded by the 2023 revaluations.

FOR THE RECORD, ALL GEAUGA COUNTY PROPERTY TAX PAYERS: YOUR TOTAL AMOUNT OF PROPERTY TAXES IS DUE BY THE LAST DAY OF COLLECTION, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2024.

It appears there is no such thing as outright home ownership, even if you paid cash for your home. If you can’t pay your real estate tax bill, you are an automatic debtor, subject to the dictates of foreclosure.



BALANCE OF OVERPAID PROPERTY TAXES STILL PENDING

Monday, February 12, 2024
By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

We would like to thank a Lake County concerned citizen for following up with the Lake County Treasurer Michael Zuren on the status of the overpayment of property taxes by Lake County residents. Here is the response the concerned citizen received from Treasurer Zuren:

“The current balance of the surplus account is $3,892,738. All the payments have been researched. We are waiting to apply or refund the overpayments from 1983 to 1989 until after the first-half collection closes. At that point (end of February), the prosecutor’s office will be notified and asked to notify the commissioner’s of the balance available to be sent to the general fund.”

Lake County Treasurer Michael Zuren

We wrote an article back in 2021 after doing some research on the County’s fund balances. We found over $6 million in taxpayers funds that had not been returned to their rightful owners.

“Account number 894 is titled “Surplus Over” and as of April 30, 2021 totaled $5,324,376.05. “This fund is the accumulation of overages of tax payments through the Treasurer’s Office on various parcels of real estate for various reasons.”

“Account number 803 is titled “Unclaimed Monies” and as of April 30, 2021 totaled $735,359.71. This is an account that is monitored by the Auditor’s office and the monies accumulated in this account are ‘unclaimed funds after a county department or an estate cannot locate the beneficiaries of the estate’.”

This means that Treasurer Zuren has returned $1,431,638.05 to date to the taxpayers. Thank you Treasurer Zuren. It is unknown how much from 1983 – 1989 time period will be returned to the taxpayers.

If you are wondering how this happens, the investment income on this money goes into the County’s General Fund. There has been no incentive to give the money back to the taxpayers.

Here is a link to the original article that we wrote back on July 21, 2021 where we highlighted the problem for the Commissioners.



PLAN COMES TO ELIMINATE OHIO’S INCOME TAX

Saturday, January 27, 2024
J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

Several Ohio lawmakers plan to once again introduce legislation to eliminate both the state’s income tax and the commercial activities tax.

The group plans conversations and town hall meetings throughout the state over the next several months to explain their plan for a six-year phase out of each.

“We’ve had years, decades even, of bringing Ohio’s income tax down from a record 9.5%,” Rep. Adam Mathews, R-Lebanon, said at a Tuesday news conference. “This is a long process but now we have the end in sight. It’s time to have the bold but necessary steps.”

The group plans to introduce different plans in the House and Senate. The House plan moves the state to a flat tax in 2026, while the Senate plan goes to flat in 2026.

“We’re introducing the plan today in a similar way of JFK’s moonshot. Here’s is our goal. How do we get there?” Mathews said. “Whether that is going flat faster, going lower faster to deal with economic conditions, that’s fine as long as we get to the end point.”

Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester, said he wants to make Ohio the most economically friendly state and dominate the rest of the nation.

“One tax after another, one regulation after another and we started driving business away,” Lang said. “I believe this plan will pay for itself by reducing the costs and complexity of government and by increasing revenues.”

Lang said the objective is to grow the state’s economy to $1 trillion by 2030 and move the state’s congressional delegation from 15 to 16.

The group believes cutting the state’s income will increase sales taxes and other forms of revenues to allow for a constitutionally required balanced budget without cutting things like education and Medicaid spending.

“When you cut taxes you have an increase of economic activity,” said Sen. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City. “I think this is the opportunity we need to be like states like Florida and Texas.”



CANCELING CO2: A CHILLING EPIPHANY

Monday, January 22, 2024
Paul E. Scates | Intellectual Takeout

In a 1962 episode of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, an alien race lands on Earth, promising to solve the problems of hunger, energy shortages, and war. In return, these aliens ask only to be trusted.

A book an alien leaves behind is analyzed by decoders, who translate the title as “To Serve Man.” An alien ambassador then passes a lie detector test, consequently resolving the hunger and energy crisis. Nations lay down their arms, placing their trust in the aliens. The aliens then invite humans to visit their home planet, and the first group sends back reports of paradise-like conditions. Millions sign up to visit, but as the leader of the decoding group is entering the spaceship, an assistant rushes up and yells, “It’s a cookbook!”

In our real-life drama today, the United Nations, wealthy globalists, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Big Tech oligarchs, and unctuous politicians tell us that man-caused CO2 emissions are effecting widespread “climate change.” They ask us to trust that their prescriptions to eliminate fossil fuels, gasoline-powered transportation, agriculture, and cattle farming will “save the planet.”

Intensive research, though, shows that true science offers no support for these claims about human CO2 emissions. Yet almost every human institution on Earth has trusted the globalists’ promises, and CO2—perhaps the second most important element to human life, behind oxygen—is now mercilessly vilified. According to climate change advocates, CO2 is a toxic pollutant that must be drastically reduced, even though life flourished in the past when CO2 levels were much higher.

Overall, climate change activists’ arguments are difficult to support. Commercial greenhouses pipe in elevated levels of CO2 to increase plant growth. On a global scale, the same phenomenon is happening: The increase of global CO2 over the past decades has resulted in a greening of the Earth. How could this life-sustaining element be an instrument of death (as the globalists claim)?

Research reveals that the real motivation of groups like the U.N. and the WEF is power to achieve their true goal, expressed by the 1972 book The Limits to Growth. This goal is to decrease the world’s population to around one billion people.

Their 1991 follow-up book, The First Global Revolution, brazenly revealed that they had (at the least) overemphasized the problem of global warming as a means to get support for that global government. The U.N.’s proposed world improvement plan, Agenda 2030, is the blueprint to achieve that goal.

Still, why highlight CO2 as the main issue? After all, CO2 increases photosynthesis and crop yields, and it’s less than 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere (excluding water vapor). We know that increasing CO2 levels from the 1750 level of 280 ppm to 800 ppm (double the current level) would increase crop production by a minimum of about 70 to 80 percent. That’s a good thing, right? So why would globalists want to drastically reduce CO2?

And that’s when I had my “It’s a cookbook!” moment. CO2 increases food growth, which keeps people from starving. But that, in fact, is the opposite of what globalists want. Based on their declared objectives, they want to decrease the Earth’s population by over seven billion people, and—other than war and manufactured pandemics—starvation is the most reliable method. Consequently, they’ve used pseudo-science and the unquestioning media to redefine CO2 as an environmental poison. They’ve “canceled” CO2 not to save the planet but because it threatens their de-population plans.

Their most recent scare-mongering has been about impending food shortages, but they’ve been actively working toward that for decades. Bill Gates and other billionaires have been buying up U.S. farmland; the climate czars are restricting fertilizers that help feed the world’s population; others are eliminating cattle, thus removing a major source of protein from the human diet.

As implementation of Agenda 2030 continues, we should expect to hear more and more about food shortages. But that’s the planned, deliberate “crisis” that Agenda 2030 will bring about, pushing hungry people to accept global control. “Canceling” CO2 is part of that agenda.

While the U.N.’s Agenda 2030 is not a fictional “cookbook,” its call for Net Zero, decarbonization, and eliminating CO2 is a recipe … for global dictatorship and the mass starvation of humans. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.



AGENDA OOPS ON THE GEAUGA COMMISSIONERS FIRST PUBLIC MEETING OF 2024?

Friday, January 5, 2024

In our last edition, we pointed out the problem of the Metzenbaum Center [GCBDD] and DD Director having lost “tax exempt” status for the property at 8200 Cedar Road. We noted that this writer/editor asked for explanation about the reasons for DD’S re-application to the State Auditor as well as failure Chester Township Trustees and Fiscal Officer to make the situation equitable to Geauga County voters and real-estate property taxpayers. See “Flawed tax-exemption application may prove costly.” If the Metzenbaum Center does not clean up the discrepancy, then the Board of County Commissioners may indeed need to refund back tax-payments to Geauga taxpayers, who have been sporting the bills. . .

At the January 8 BOCC Public meeting, which will begin at 9:30 am on Monday, January 8, there may be a new problem regarding COMMISSIONER-OWNED PROPERTY, aka BERKSHIRE HEIGHTS SEWER, AT 11088 THWING ROAD. [PARCEL NUMBER 06-707463].

According to Geauga REALink, the listed 2023 sexennial valuation is $33,300 [Land]. And $10,500 [improvement]. So the taxable [payable ] portion of that $43,800 should wind up being $15,340. At the increased sexennial revaluation, how much will Geauga County taxpayers, especially those on fixed income, have to make up for Commissioner-owned property for which the residents of Geauga County will be expected to pay out in property taxes?

Is there a reason why the Commissioners, who have been farming out some of the duties for which they were elected to an administrator? And then, when one administrator apparently wasn’t adequate, the solution was to hire another administrator to “assist” the first one?

When we asked Commissioner Clerk, Christine Blair, if Commissioner James Dvorak would be present for the next public meeting, she answered in the affirmative.

FYI, the Berkshire Heights Sewer District at 11088 THWING ROAD has each year since 1995 had a property tax assigned to it. In 1995 the property tax owed was $26,610.

So, readers. . .your 2023 real-estate property tax, paid in full to Christopher Hitchcock’s Office in February. We continue to read all the cost-of-living raises and to experience the inflation for anything we need to buy, including non-meat sustenance, but homeowners and Geauga taxpayers, a word-of-caution: If you miss paying your property tax, even if you have paid continuously and forfeited other goods and services in order to maintain you property title, you are already on the slippery-slope down.

AGENDA ITEM #8 READS AS FOLLOWS:

“The Commissioners’ Office is requesting the Board approve and authorize the President of the Board to execute the Ohio Department of Taxation, Application for Real Property Tax Exemption and Remission for Permanent Parcel No. 06-707463, located at 11088 Thwing Road, Chardon, Ohio [aka Berkshire Heights Sewer Plant].”

And this is ONLY the Organizational Meeting. . . After you look at the property tax data, take a deep breath and think about the chunk of change well-meaning Geauga taxpayers have plunked in to make Geauga County operate . . . Now, we are learning that the taxpayers apparently have to pay for official “oops.” How many more “oops” will be uncovered? Are taxpayers and homeowners only serfs when they can no longer keep their homes?

See you on January 8.

You will recognize our citizen-recording equipment in the front row so the county goal-posts can remain firmly implanted. Keep in mind that years ago the Commissioners videoed the public proceedings at every public meeting until a quorum of the current Commissioners determined that providing that kind of transparency might be more damaging to them than they liked. Why might they draw that conclusion?

The next PUBLIC Commissioner Meeting won’t be until Thursday, January 18, 2024, at 9:30 am. Less than 8 weeks later, YOU THE VOTER will remind the elected “officials” that THEY are the beholden, NOT YOU THE VOTER!

IT’S 2024.

IF YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE

THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE. . .

HAPPY SQUEAKY NEW YEAR AND MANY MORE TO COME!



WESTERN ARMS SUPPLIERS BIG WINNERS IN UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR

Tuesday, January 2, 2024
By Mike Fredenburg

Germany’s recent agreement to provide $400 million worth of NATO standard 155 mm shells to Ukraine is very generous, but it may end up being irrelevant as there’s reasonable doubt as to whether the war will still be going in 2025 when the shells are due to be delivered.

The $400 million breaks down to two major orders: a $305 million order from an undisclosed French company for 68,000 155 mm shells, and a $110 million order from Rheinmetall guesstimated to total some 24,000+ shells, bringing the number of shells Germany will send to Ukraine to about 92,000.

These artillery purchases average out to a whopping $4,485 price per shell, but apparently that’s a bargain as purchasing smaller quantities can yield prices of up to $8,500 per round. This is a lot per round, but not enough to purchase precision-guided rounds. Consequently, we can assume the purchases for Ukraine are mostly for standard unguided high explosive fragmentation rounds. These rounds will be roughly comparable to the U.S. Army’s 155 mm M795 round, which in 2020 was going for $1,400 per round. So, we’re looking at price premiums of roughly 300 to 600 percent above what’s already a high price for an unguided round.

Clearly, this is a matter of supply and demand, and the arms suppliers selling to Germany are able to command a high price as NATO’s reserve stocks of 155 mm shells have been depleted to the point that NATO countries are hanging on to whatever remains for their own purposes, as well as buying 155 mm rounds to replenish their own stocks.

The tens of thousands of shells Ukraine will eventually receive are sorely needed, as 155 mm high-explosive unitary rounds are more effective in destroying fortifications and heavy armor than the controversial 155 mm cluster munitions the United States has been supplying Ukraine. But given the shells will not make it to Ukraine until sometime in 2025, there’s legitimate concern as to whether the war will still be ongoing

Meanwhile, Sergey Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, recently announced that since February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Russia has increased artillery shell production by a factor of 17.5 times. That’s a stupendous number, and frankly hard to believe, especially if we’re talking about the larger 122 mm and 152 mm rounds. It becomes slightly more believable if small-caliber mortars are being counted as artillery.

For reference, prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Jamestown Foundation estimated Russia’s annual production of 122 mm and 152 mm shells, including the refurbishment of 570,000 existing shells, at somewhere around a maximum of 1.7 million shells in 2021. But it must be noted that Western analysts have consistently underestimated Russia’s ability to get around sanctions, and predictions that Russia would soon run out of artillery rounds, rockets, and missiles have proven wrong.

With Russia going to 24/7, three-shift production schedules and the addition of new weapons production factories, Russia is no doubt well on its way to producing over 2 million large-caliber shells per year. While only Russia truly knows how many millions of rounds of artillery ammunition are being produced in Russian factories, a senior defense official of NATO ally Estonia estimates Russia is outproducing the West by seven times when it comes to artillery ammo production. So, while Russia has almost certainly not upped artillery shell production by a factor of 17.5 since February 2022, it’s undoubtedly manufacturing a whole lot more artillery shells than it was prior to the war.

In the United States, production of 155 mm shells is planned to go from about 28,000 per month today, to 100,000 per month sometime in 2025. We see an even more gradual ramp up of artillery production in Europe.

The sense of urgency by the United States and its NATO partners to increase production is anemic compared to what we’re seeing in Russia. This lack of urgency tells us that the United States and Europe don’t consider Russia to be an existential threat. Instead, what we see are low-risk contracts being put in place that, in the near term, will deliver very little to Ukraine.

Of course, even if Ukraine is forced to sue for peace before the contracts really begin to deliver significant quantities of artillery shells, these contracts for Ukraine could potentially be repurposed to help replenish U.S./NATO stocks of ammunition that have been depleted by the U.S./NATO proxy war against Russia.

As it sits right now, other than China, the biggest long-term winners in this war are Western arms suppliers who will benefit for years to come by selling hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons and ammunition at premium prices to replenish and build up the stocks of the United States and NATO countries, which have collectively supplied Ukraine with some $100 billion in military aid since the war began.

While the relatively slow ramp up by Western defense companies limited war-related profits and revenues in 2022, in 2023 war-related profits began to increase and should continue to increase for years to come.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author



GEAUGA COUNTY ARCHIVES TO COME UNDER AUTHORITY OF ADP

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

In the last official public commissioners’ meeting of 2023. characterized by the absence of Commissioner Jim Dvorak, Commissioners Lennon and Spidalieri, listened to Assistant County Administrator, Linda Burhenne, starting about 9:50 am, provide a brief history of the Department of Archives, even though officially, the topic had not been provided on the original or updated Agenda, although we are providing an video link to the discussion. Meeting adjourned at the conclusion of the discussion and after the two-member commissioner quorum signed Resolution #23-2123 to require the County Automatic Data Processing Board (ADP) to coordinate the management of information resources of the county in lieu of having a County Records Commission and a County Microfilming Board.” Please note that the reverse side of the Resolution, which “becomes part of the permanent record of the Board of Commissioners, Geauga County, Ohio,” said resolution is identified as #23-213.

This writer received a copy of the official resolution by email on January 2, 2024, in anticipation of the Geauga County ADP Board Agenda Special Meeting Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at 11 a.m.

1. Discussion on Geauga County BOCC 12/28/2023 Resolution #23-2123 [sic] Regarding the County Records Commission and County Microfilming Board.

Ms. Burhenne noted that there were three possible outcomes to resolve the current situation:

1) get rid of Archives altogether

2) put Archives back under the Recorder, the procedure utilized until 2007

3) establish Archives under the Automated Data Processing Board

Lennon and Spidalieri as the majority on site decided to approve Choice #3 in the absence of Dvorak.

Commissioner Lennon noted that his understanding was that Commissioner Jim Dvorak, absent for this meeting, had been the catalyst for the resolution. Ms. Burhenne noted that Mr. Dvorak had expressed that he “had wanted to do this from the very beginning” of his first term of office. Regular attendees, as well as this writer, recall the process by which Mr. Dvorak learned the ins-and-outs of many departments starting back in 2019 when he first upset incumbent Walter Skip Claypool.

Mr. Lennon noted that Archives employees would remain classified Ms. Burhenne noted her willingness to offer her services.

Commissioner Spidalieri, now officially in a March Primary race against Nancy McArthur to retain his own seat was adamant about his empathy for Archives employees: “I don’t want to see people losing their jobs,” which he identified as “difficult positions to fill.”

Spidalieri appeared to recognize the long-term value of Assistant County Administrator Burhenne as well with his judgment that she “had tested the system many times.”