Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

News Stories and Events for 2023 April thru June

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Thursday, June 29, 2023
Casey Harper | The Center Square

Taxpayers lost nearly $200 billion to fraudsters that was meant for struggling small businesses, according to a new watchdog report on the Small Business Administration’ COVID-era pandemic relief programs.

The SBA Office of Inspector General released a report on COVID-19 Pandemic EIDL and PPP Loan Fraud, which found that 17% of the $1.2 trillion allocated by Congress was “disbursed to potentially fraudulent actors.”

“OIG’s oversight and investigative work has resulted in 1,011 indictments, 803 arrests, and 529 convictions related to COVID-19 EIDL and PPP fraud as of May 2023,” the report said.

Despite these arrests, only $30 billion of the lost funds has been recovered. The IG has pledged to continue working to get the funds back, saying it has thousands of open investigations.

Most of the lost taxpayer money, which was “intended to help eligible small business owners and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the crisis,” will likely not be recovered.

Lawmakers responded to the report with concern. Chair of the House Committee on Small Business Roger Williams, R-Texas, said the latest IG report shows far more criminal fraud taking advantage of SBA than has been reported so far.

Williams blasted the SBA, saying it “failed to implement basic guardrails to protect the integrity of these programs, resulting in roughly 1 in 5 loans dispersed being labeled as potentially fraudulent.”

“When COVID-19 hit the United States, the SBA was tasked with taking on an oversized role to help save small businesses and our nation’s job creators,” he said. “Unfortunately, these after-action reports show the agency was not up to the task. I look forward to hearing directly from Inspector General Ware in July on what went wrong, how to fix these issues, and what recourse we must take to recoup these stolen taxpayer dollars.”

The SBA is just one of several agencies that saw similar waste, fraud, and abuse to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in total lost during the rush of pandemic-era spending. As The Center Square previously reported, an analysis from Open The Books found 82 programs across 17 agencies made improper payments in fiscal year 2022 alone, averaging $20.5 billion per month, or $683 million per day.

With the latest report on SBA, which showed higher losses than previously reported, those number could be even higher.

“In 2022, the incorrect payments totaled $1,673 for every individual tax return filed that year. (167,915,264, according to the IRS),” said Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of Open the Books. “They amounted to $846 for every man, woman, and child in the country. So, the government wasted $3,384 for every family of four – an amount equal to two average mortgage payments. (331,893,745, U.S. pop in 2021, from U.S. Census Bureau website).”


Thursday, June 29, 2023
By Marty Schladen - Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on Wednesday said that it shouldn’t surprise anybody who knew former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder that he’s a crook. But LaRose continues to refuse to discuss his own ties to the scandal for which Householder is due to be sentenced today, Thursday.

LaRose’s name came up repeatedly earlier this year during Householder’s seven-week federal felony racketeering trial. In addition, a consultant working with a LaRose-aligned super PAC also worked with Householder’s campaign committee at the height of the massive bribery conspiracy.

But on Wednesday, Ohio’s top elections official — who is mulling a run for U.S. Senate — appeared on Scott Sloan’s show on Cincinnati’s 700 WLW and made it sound as if he’d been an opponent of Householder all along.

LaRose was promoting an attempt by the state’s extremely gerrymandered legislature to make it much harder for voters to put amendments to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot while keeping the rules for putting legislative-initiated amendments on the ballot the same. Sloan asked whether Ohio’s one-party rule was a recipe for corruption — regardless of which party’s in charge — when LaRose interrupted him.

“Let’s talk about Householder,” LaRose said. “I mean the guy turned out to be a crook. And that shouldn’t have surprised anybody, by the way — anybody that knew him. But he was trying to change the (Ohio) Constitution at the time the FBI was investigating him to essentially make himself speaker for life and that should not be able to happen with a 50%-plus-one vote. It should take a broader consensus.”


LaRose, who has given shifting reasons for needing to make it harder for voters to amend the state Constitution, has made that argument before.

Householder was convicted of taking more than $61 million from FirstEnergy and other Ohio utilities to make himself speaker and then pass and protect a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout that mostly benefited FirstEnergy. Federal prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Black to sentence the former speaker to between 16 and 20 years in prison today — something that Householder’s attorneys told the court would “likely amount to a life sentence.”

The conspiracy began with a meeting between Householder and FirstEnergy executives in their corporate box during the 2016 World Series and ended with Householder’s arrest in July 2020. By early 2020, Householder was plotting with them and other energy executives to use corporate money to amend the constitution and change the state’s term limits so Householder could conceivably remain speaker for another 16 years.

In April and again on Wednesday, LaRose argued that it’s important to make it harder for voters to initiate constitutional amendments to keep something like that from happening.

“Just remember that Larry Householder and FirstEnergy almost got away with a scheme to amend our constitution and keep control of the Statehouse for 16 more years. Imagine what they could have done,” LaRose wrote in The Columbus Dispatch in April.

But LaRose’s proposal makes it harder for voters to change the state Constitution in ways that it doesn’t for corrupt lawmakers.

Issue 1, the measure LaRose is pushing, would make it much more difficult for voters to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot and then require 60% of the vote to pass it, instead of the current 50%. And since the Aug. 8 election will be conducted under the current rules, it would only need 50% to pass.

Critics say the measure would make it next to impossible for voters to even get a proposed amendment on the ballot. Under the current rules, supporters have to gather a portion of more than 400,000 signatures from registered voters in at least 44 counties. But under LaRose’s proposal, voters would have to gather signatures in each of the state’s 88 counties, no matter how rural.

Meanwhile, all a corrupt lawmaker such as Householder would have to do under Issue 1 is pass an amendment through the supermajorities in the state’s gerrymandered legislature to get it on the ballot, where it would then face the higher bar of 60% of the vote for passage. Watchdog group Common Cause Ohio argues that the new restrictions would mean that “only special interests with deep pockets will be able to bring issues to the ballot.”


In addition to the questionable logic of LaRose’s claim that Issue 1 would protect Ohio from corruption like Householder’s is the fact that LaRose apparently didn’t raise any alarms during the former speaker’s 38-month racketeering conspiracy. In fact, some of the corrupt bailout’s central figures said they were in communication with LaRose during critical parts of it.

For example, the utility bailout was so unpopular that a citizen-led effort to repeal it got underway almost immediately after it passed in July 2019. FirstEnergy poured $36 million into a dark-money group to fund a xenophobic, reportedly violent campaign that successfully thwarted the repeal.

As that was happening, former Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges — who is set to be sentenced on Friday — texted a co-conspirator who has since pleaded guilty.

“LaRose is expecting us to be publicly supportive of him,” Borges said, according to messages displayed during his and Householder’s trial. Borges explained that LaRose expected public calls to recuse himself from the Ohio Ballot Board, which had a say over the repeal election, “because of ‘conflicts.’ He can be our friend in this process, so let’s be prepared to speak for him.”

And as repeal signatures were gathered, FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones texted John Kiani, the chairman of the FirstEnergy subsidiary that was to receive $1 billion of the bailout. Jones’ message indicated that — despite LaRose now saying everybody knew Householder was a crook — both he and Householder had been providing the FirstEnergy CEO with “private” information on the repeal effort.

“For what it’s worth, LaRose and Householder think it’s game over,” Jones told Kiani. “But that is a private conversation unless they’ve told you the same thing. And Householder has a ‘quick fix’ anyway.”

FirstEnergy, which signed a deferred-prosecution agreement over its involvement in the conspiracy, gave LaRose more than $25,000 during his 2018 race for secretary of state.

After the repeal failed, other messages presented at trial indicated that LaRose wanted to meet Kiani, a former Enron executive whom one of the conspirators testified stood to make $100 million off the sale of FirstEnergy’s bailed-out nuclear and coal plants.

LaRose’s office hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment on the secretary of state’s involvement in the Householder scandal. Nor did Andrea Martin.

Her firm, ANM Consulting, is raising money for a super PAC, the Leadership for Ohio Fund, that is expected to support a likely bid by LaRose to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown next year. ANM Consulting in 2019 received $7,600 from Friends of Larry Householder, the now-convicted speaker’s political action committee.

Martin’s firm last year also received $45,000 from Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC that supported Republican J.D. Vance’s U.S. Senate bid. The PAC is now the subject of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that it illegally coordinated its activities with the Vance campaign during the 2022 election.


LaRose last November said that Issue 1 wasn’t about stopping a citizen-initiated abortion-rights amendment expected to be on the ballot in November. Then earlier this month he said it was 100% about stopping it.

In April he said it was meant to stop attempted power grabs such as Householder’s, even though under Issue 1 the mechanism Householder almost certainly would have used would make it vastly easier to get the measure on the ballot than it would a group of ordinary voters.

LaRose also fought last year to end expensive, low-turnout August elections because they allow “a handful of voters” to make “big decisions,” benefiting those who have “a vested interest in the passage of the issue up for consideration.” But this year, he supports the legislature’s decision to reverse itself and put the measure on the Aug. 8 ballot.

And on Sloan’s show Wednesday, LaRose again claimed that the purpose of Issue 1 is to prevent wealthy, out-of-state interests from altering what LaRose calls the state’s “founding document.”

“What you’re talking about is citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. That’s really a misnomer,” LaRose said of the current, 111-year-old system. “It’s really a special-interest group with very deep pockets.”

He made that claim even though election-denying Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein has already contributed $1 million to LaRose’s push to make it much harder for Ohio voters to change their Constitution. CBS News reported last week that Uihlein is making such contributions in several states to limit voter access to state constitutions.

And LaRose said Issue 1 was needed to stop excessive amendments.

“Really, Issue 1 is a good-government improvement,” LaRose said.

However, Sloan challenged that claim with the fact that of the 20 amendments passed since 2000, three quarters were initiated by the gerrymandered legislature. Just five were initiated by voters.


Thursday, June 9, 2023
By Morgan Trau and Ian Cross - Ohio Capital Journal

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted in the largest bribery scheme in state history.

Householder was sentenced by federal judge Timothy Black in United States District Court in Cincinnati Thursday afternoon, over three months after he and ex-GOP chair Matt Borges were found guilty by a federal jury of felony racketeering. Householder passed a nearly $61 million scheme for a billion-dollar bailout, House Bill 6, at the expense of ratepayers.

As he walked into the court building, OCJ/WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau asked Householder how he was feeling ahead of the sentencing.

“I don’t feel — I don’t feel anything,” he responded.

When asked what he was hoping for today, he replied, “I don’t have a hope today.”

Trau live-tweeted during the sentencing hearing, including objections raised by Householder, and statements from prosecutors, and Householder and his attorney, ahead of the judge’s decision. View her tweet thread below:


The FBI had requested that Householder face 16-20 years in prison for “causing immeasurable damage to the institution of democracy,” according to a sentencing memorandum released last week.

“He acted as the quintessential mob boss, directing the criminal enterprise from the shadows and using his casket carriers to execute the scheme,” the filing states.

The scope of the conspiracy was unprecedented, the filing states, but so was the “damage it left in its wake, both in terms of its potential financial harm to Ohioans and its erosion of public trust.”


Householder had filed court documents stating that he believed he only deserved 12 to 18 months in prison.

“Mr. Householder is a broken man,” defense attorneys said. “He has been humiliated and disgraced.”

The attorneys for Householder acknowledge their request may be a “tall order,” however they say that “no defendant should be made a martyr to public passion.”

The good Householder has done for the community outweighs the bad, according to the filing.

“Our purpose here is not to relitigate the facts presented to the jury — that will be a task for the appellate lawyers and the appellate courts — but to present a perspective of Mr. Householder that was not reflected in his portrayal at trial and in the news media,” the document states.

Ultimately, the defense argued that the nature of the offense and Householder’s history and characteristics favor a “below-guidelines sentence.”

The attorneys argued that Householder “did not benefit financially from the offense,” claiming the money that came from his right-hand man who was in charge of running the financial aspect of the scheme was a loan. That “loan” was then used to pay off Householder’s debt and renovations to his Florida home.

The now-convicted felon has already faced punishment, the filing continues, as “his felony conviction bars him from ever holding public office in Ohio… his reputation has likewise been ruined.”

Householder was defiant after conviction

Back in March, the jury deliberated for nine hours before reaching a decision, finding both Householder and Borges guilty on charges including racketeering and conspiracy, charges which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

As he left the courthouse after the verdict was read, Householder maintained his innocence and said he was surprised by the jury’s decision.

“I was surprised by the verdict because I’m not guilty,” Householder said, telling reporters that he would return home to his Perry County farm to plant summer crops and go fishing with his son. “I respect their decision but I don’t agree with it.”

The sentencing memo filed by the FBI acknowledged Householder’s defiance in the face of the guilty verdict and prospect of a decades-long prison sentence.

“At no point in the investigation or trial did the defendant express remorse for his actions, and to the government’s knowledge he has not expressed remorse at any time,” the document says. “In fact, through his sworn testimony, Householder showed his disrespect for the rule of law.”


In a separate memorandum filed last week, the FBI had requested that Borges receive a 5 to 8 year sentence for his part in the corruption scheme.

“Borges’ primary role in the enterprise was to deprive Ohioans of the opportunity to overturn what Borges knew was corrupt legislation,” the filing said. “Borges furthered the criminal enterprise by laundering FirstEnergy payments through his own account.”

He then bribed Tyler Fehrman, a former friend turned FBI informant. During the bribe, Borges threatened Fehrman numerous times, saying things like “I’m going to blow your house up.”

“Matt threatened my life, disrupted my existence, and took advantage of our friendship to line his own pockets,” Fehrman told OCJ/WEWS following the sentencing memorandum’s release. “His actions are inexcusable and wrong — regardless of what sentence he is given. Personally, I hope that both he and Larry are given the maximum sentence for their crimes.”

The feds chose the 5-8 year time frame because it reflects the seriousness of the offense, goes over Borges’ checkered past with law enforcement and also sets an example for others.

“Borges is familiar with the criminal justice system,” the FBI said.

Borges pleaded guilty in 2004 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor charge of improper use of a public office and was fined $1,000 for this conduct, which happened while serving as chief of staff to the Ohio State Treasurer. This was later expunged.

“Borges knew exactly where the lines were when he decided to cross them and participate in a criminal enterprise,” the filing states.

In court documents filed by Borges and his legal team, he requested a sentence of 12 months and one day.

Attorneys for Borges argued that in comparison to the other co-conspirators, his “involvement was substantially less culpable.”

“He had no decision-making authority with respect to anyone else, no control over the money coming to Generation Now, no knowledge of the full scope of the conspiracy, was not involved in the planning or organizing of the conspiracy (which began years before Borges’ involvement) and was involved for a limited time,” the filing states.

Borges then seemingly took responsibility for his bribe to Fehrman.

“Therefore, the ‘criminal activity’ within the scope of what Borges agreed to undertake should be limited to the $15,000 attempted bribe of Tyler Fehrman,” it states.

The filing explained why the reduced sentence is appropriate: Borges has made “significant positive contributions” in his life, he has zero criminal history points, he has already suffered a loss of work and reputation since the arrest, it would deter him from participating in more criminal activity and it would “both vindicate society’s need for retribution and weigh out a just level of mercy.”

Borges will be sentenced at 11 a.m. on Friday.


Thursday, June 29, 2023
J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

Ohio moved a step closer to creating what advocates call the country's strongest hospital price transparency law.

The legislation moves to the Senate after passing the House by a 90-5 vote, despite objections by the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

“For far too long, consumers and patients have had to make significant financial decisions due to a lack of transparency regarding the costs of services provided by hospital systems,” said Rep. Tim Barhorst, R-Fort Loramie. “To me, it’s common sense. Ohioans should be able to see how much they will pay before making medical decisions.”

PatientRightsAdvocate.org, a national nonprofit pushing for health care transparency across the nation, said 24.5% of hospitals it reviewed nationwide comply with a 2021 federal law that requires all hospitals to make prices fully known to patients before treatment.

The group also said 18% of Ohio hospitals are compliant, and 60 hospitals in the state are not.

Cynthia Fisher, founder and chairman of PatientRightsAdvocate.org, called the House-passed bill the strongest in the country.

"We thank and applaud the Ohio House of Representatives for its overwhelming bipartisan support of HB49, the strongest bill of its kind in the nation," Fisher said. "Health care price transparency empowers patients to greatly lower their costs through upfront prices and choice. It protects all consumers from hospital overcharging and gives them easy recourse if overbilled. HB49 will incentivize hospitals to comply by allowing patients to avoid paying bills from hospitals that hide their prices.

In committee testimony, the hospital associations called the bill inconsistent with federal law and said Ohio hospitals remain committed to providing useful and meaningful pricing information.

In written testimony, the hospital groups said, “We appreciate the bill sponsors’ intention to codify federal law to ensure Ohio hospitals are in full compliance – and believe there is a path forward to reach that shared goal. It was our hope to work with members of the House toward achieving the bill’s objectives without creating a duplicative, complex and costly state regulatory regime.”


Friday, June 23, 2023

Already delayed 15 minutes over unresolved “reaching out,” as opposed to “outreach” from agencies located within Lake County, Commissioners welcomed Geauga County’s finance team, Adrian Gorton and Deborah Ashburn. Mr. Gorton demonstrated his ability to “go with the flow” when one of the three wall monitors, previously blank and unresponsive, came to life with the power point. The sigh of satisfaction from observers was quickly followed by laughter as the monitor died again.


Pressed to present a joke to relieve the tension, Mr. Gorton won the trust of the observers by simply noting he had cajoled the three monitors and the computers during a dry-run the previous day so today there were no other opening remarks to soften the crowd. The crowd seemed to love the sincerity and settled in with Adrian and Debby.

The 2024 Geauga County Budget calls for $138.8 million dollars, a $5 million increase over the 2023 Budget presented by the same team a year ago. {link to 2023 Budget of June 28, 2022)Mr. Gorton noted that the numbers reflected a 23% increase, mainly because of additional expenses for outreach programs, payroll increases within selected departments (especially the Sheriff’s Office), 5% COLA increases during 2023 followed by 3% COLA increases during 2024, $350,000 in ADP requests for IT security and upgrades to Cloud storage, and $150,000 for Geauga County Court technology upgrades.

The revenue from the 6.75% county sales tax generates nearly 50% of the revenue for General Fund , followed by county real estate taxes, which fund 22% of General Fund operating expense. Together these two items account for nearly 70% of Geauga County’s sources of funding. The most accurate and recent data covering the end of the first half of the current year will be delayed for three months, but the latest current 2023 revenue data covering March 31 data shows a $75,000 increase over the data from March 31, 2022.

Of the operating funds distributed to the County, the biggest portion of the expenses are absorbed by Job and Family Services , Roads and Bridges, and Programs for Senior Citizens.

Mr. Gorton noted the existence of several existing funds to deal with the financial obligations for so-called Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction dealing with the original construction of the NEW County Administration Building on Ravenwood Drive, the site of many cost overruns. Readers will recall the initial litigation filed by the City of Chardon (20M000648) as City of Chardon vs. Geauga County, et al. Per Agreed Judgment Entry under Judge David M. Ondrey (see judgment), both Chardon Prosecutor Jim Flaiz and City of Chardon attorneys Majeed Makhlouf and Elizabeth Wells Rothenberg agreed to a number of terms, including the spending of Geauga County taxpayer money (at least $15Million) to improve the Courthouse for a December 31, 2023, “ground breaking.”

The 2024 Budget indicated a $4.4 Million fund to improve County buildings on the Square including the Courthouse and County buildings across the street (housing Prosecutor, Auditor, Treasurer, Recorder).

In a separate written inquiry, this writer asked Mr. Gorton to clarify the availability of funds to prevent a new county levy “to underwrite construction overruns in Phase 2.”

Mr. Gorton responded personally by email (pdf)

“We have the $10 million from the ARPA money (third fund from the top (link to screen) and the $7.6 million from the Capital Reserve Fund Phase 1 &2 (last fund at bottom). Between the two of these funding sources we should be able to meet our $15 million obligation.: He also cited the $4.4 million in the Building Improvements Fund “for all County buildings not just the Courthouse.”

Finally, he noted his efforts to accumulate $20 million available for the Courthouse project, indicating his knowledge of the massive cost overruns on the county building on Ravenwood but avoiding Judgment Entry Item #2 for the County to “spend a minimum of $15 million “with no FINAL UPPER LIMIT on the Courthouse addition costs.

Based on the Agreed Judgment Entry from 20M000648, the Office of the Geauga County Commissioners really has no choice but to “minimize the growth and government of Geauga County and to listen to the requests of Geauga Citizens.”

We will keep readers informed as final details unfold.


Friday, June 23, 2023

After resolving ten items of county business, they found themselves so hung up on their concerns over duplicating outreach efforts by Lake Geauga Recovery Services that they delayed the public hearing over the proposed 2024 Tax Budget by about 15 minutes. Lake Geauga Recovery CEO/President Melanie Blasko and her assistant, identified only as Charles, lauded the successful Geauga County substance rehabilitation program in which all 9 of the current participants will complete their rehab requirements by the end of June, thereby eliciting one commissioner’s response of “really impressive.” The six-month follow-up evaluation, however, was a little more nebulous, since that information is available only through probation officers.

Lake Geauga Recovery assistant, Charles, had the honor of performing the hard-sell to the Commissioners. Lake Geauga Recovery Services, Charles noted, explained the need to reach out to residents along the southern corridor of Geauga County: those living in Bainbridge, Auburn,Troy, and Parkman Townships after the three-year psychological and emotional setbacks resulting from the Covid Years. Charles noted his agency’s satisfaction with a 5% increase over the agency’s request for funding in summer 2022,bringing the Lake Geauga Recovery Center’s funding to $46,352.00. In addition, the new office to serve the southern townships would entail a “one-time” additional request of $66,336.00 for outpatient services.

Although Commissioner Dvorak took the time to opine that “8-10% of those receiving [rehab] services are drug/substance-abuse impaired,” he expressed his willingness to consider the merits of the proposed extra funding needed. Spidalieri noted that a central office for the Lake County Rehab Services would help eliminate duplicate services and utility bills for the Board of County Commissioners. Lennon asked if the recent Opioid Settlement money noted by the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office might be a valid source of funding for the agency. Ms. Blasko responded with her concerns about “the lack of transportation in Geauga County” available to individual potential outpatients.

While Commissioners approved the current operating budget request of $46,352.00, there was an obvious concern about providing funding for a second Geauga location because of the two current outreach offices in Lake County. Charles’ added explanation that the agency currently sees 250-280 walk-in clients annually prompted Lennon to request the additional funding for a “regional” outreach office to serve southern Geauga townships be tabled “for a week” so that Blasko and Charles can present a business plan for the new construction. Spidalieri suggested a further contact for Blasko and Charles; the Geauga County Department of Development, he thought, would be instrumental in finding a desirable location for Lake County Recovery Services near the central Ravenwood Drive complex.

Watch the Lake County Recovery Services presentation in the video below.



June 22, 2023
By Morgan Trau | Ohio Capital

Ohio House leadership voted to protect a scandal-ridden law that forces ratepayers to spend millions funding “dirty” coal plants. In doing this, the Republicans likely killed the bipartisan repeal effort.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) and his fellow GOP members on leadership voted Tuesday to recall House Bill 120. H.B. 120 would eliminate subsidies for two 1950s-era coal plants.

A jury found that Householder and former GOP leader Matt Borges, beyond a reasonable doubt, participated in the largest public corruption case in state history, a racketeering scheme that left four men guilty and another dead by suicide.

Householder passed a nearly $61 million scheme to pass a billion-dollar bailout, House Bill 6, at the expense of taxpayers and at the benefit of his pockets.

H.B. 6 mainly benefited FirstEnergy’s struggling nuclear power plants, which provisions were later repealed. There are remaining aspects of the bill still in place, though.

The Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) also got a handout from the scandal. It expanded a bailout of the OVEC plants and required Ohioans to pay for them. The main beneficiaries from this were American Electric Power Company (AEP), Duke Energy and AES Ohio.

Householder and Borges will be sentenced at 1 p.m. on June 29 and 11 a.m. on June 30, respectively, according to court documents.


Stephens has one of the coal plants in his district and has shown no signs of wanting to repeal the bailouts. The bill has received no hearings, despite it being introduced months ago.

“Ohioans are propping up these dirty, old, uncompetitive coal plants,” state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said.

In early June, News 5 broke the news that Ohio lawmakers decided to go over the speaker’s head to move their bill.

A faction of Republicans joined the Democrats to discharge the bill from the committee, meaning, with enough signatures, the legislation would move immediately to a full House vote, superseding the speaker.

If all 32 Democrats vote for the repeal, which is likely, only 18 Republicans are needed.

There are 22 signatures on the petition as of Tuesday evening, but News 5 was told that the rest of the Democrats and the Republicans in favor would be signing following the passage of the budget.


After House session on Wednesday, WEWS/OCJ asked Stephens why he recalled the bill.

“The rates are going up, we got all the budget stuff going on and all the other bills we’ve got dealing with that haven’t had a hearing yet,” Stephens responded. “We just went ahead and recalled it.”

H.B. 120 has also not had a hearing yet. The Public Utilities Committee, where the bill was originally in, only has three other bills it is supposed to hear. For comparison, Criminal Justice has 18 bills.

According to House rules, “only one discharge motion can be presented for each bill or resolution,” which could mean that pulling the bill out of committee completely killed the effort to get the legislation to the floor for a vote. Since Stephens is seemingly opposed to the bill, this could mean that it dies totally.

Right now, the bill is in Stephens’ hands, but could eventually be dropped back to another committee.

News 5 reached out to numerous other members of GOP leadership to ask their reasoning for voting to recall it, but none responded.

The bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats in support of the bill are expressing anger, accusing Stephens of pulling the bill because he knows it has the votes.

“Jason made a procedural move to stop OVEC repeal so corporate welfare can continue on the backs of Ohioans,” state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) said. “He knew we could get 50 signatures and force a floor vote and that the bill would pass.”

Merrin, who is rivals with Stephens, said there may be another option depending on how the House rules are read. To him, a discharge may work but it would be delayed a month. A bill has to be in a committee for about a month before it can be discharged.

“We have to wait another 30 days before we can pull another discharge petition, but I think we will and continue a bipartisan push to repeal this corporate welfare that was extended by H.B. 6,” he added. “Democrats put Jason in power, and they can get him to bring it up for a vote if they push hard enough.”


Monday, June 19, 2023
By Naveen Athrappully | Epoch Times

Electric vehicles fail to perform in adverse climatic conditions and when carrying heavy loads, giving credence to consumers’ range anxiety

The range of electric vehicles can fall by up to a quarter when made to carry heavy loads, according to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) on Ford’s EV pickup truck F-150 Lightning.

In an unloaded state, the 2022 Lightning had a driving range of 278 miles. However, with a payload of 1,400 pounds, the driving range dropped to 210 miles, a decline of 68 miles or 24.5 percent from the unloaded range, according to the June 13 study. Such payloads are equivalent to hauling around 20 bags of concrete mix. AAA advised that prospective buyers of EVs who are likely to carry heavy loads regularly should “consider the impact this can have to their driving range.”

“This study is important for broadening our understanding of the limitations of electric vehicles,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA, according to a June 13 post. “Range anxiety remains a top reason consumers are hesitant to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs.”

Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering, pointed out that though the test revealed a “significant range reduction,” it was done with the EV loaded near its maximum capacity.

Most buyers will typically use the Lightning with a lighter load. As such, even though there will still be a range reduction, it will be lower than the reduction at maximum load, he pointed out.


EVs not only lose range when carrying heavy loads, but they also lose it during winter conditions. In December 2022, EV insight firm Recurrent published research on range loss among electric vehicles during freezing conditions, finding that the loss of range can go up to 35 percent.

Recurrent explained why EVs lose range in winter by comparing it with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. ICEs turn all the energy that they don’t use into “waste heat,” or lost energy. During cold weather, this energy can be redirected from the engine to warm the cabin.

“On the other hand, an EV has a much more efficient motor which does not generate as much heat. In the cold, available motor heat is routed to warm the battery itself, meaning that cabin heating requires a power source. Cabin heaters generally draw from the high voltage battery, reducing how much battery is left for driving,” it said.

Comparing 13 popular EV models in freezing versus 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, Recurrent found that Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Chevy Bolt all lost 30 percent or more range in colder conditions.

The Tesla Model 3, Model S, Model X, and Model Y lost between 15 and 19 percent of their range, depending on the model. The Audi e-tron lost the least range at just eight percent.


In addition to range issues, EVs also pose multiple other challenges for owners, like the cost of batteries. EV batteries usually come with manufacturer warranties of eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever is earlier.

The cost of replacing an EV battery ranges from more than $15,000 for a Tesla to over $23,000 for a VW e-Golf. So, people who own used EVs or plan to buy one might end up in a tough spot if the battery were to malfunction.

To make matters worse, EV fuel costs are now even beating gas-powered vehicles. An analysis by Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that “in Q4 2022, typical mid-priced ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] car drivers paid about $11.29 to fuel their vehicles for 100 miles of driving.”

“That cost was around $0.31 cheaper than the amount paid by mid-priced EV drivers charging mostly at home, and over $3 less than the cost borne by comparable EV drivers charging commercially.”

During an event in September 2022, geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan dismissed the possibility of EVs going mainstream over the next 10 years, citing limitations on materials and unresolved supply chain issues.

“The lithium comes from one place, and it’s all processed in China. So, just building the alternate processing infrastructure … and by the way, we have to invade Russia too … just to get the materials to do EVs at scale is just laughable for the next decade. We need a new technological series of breakthroughs in material sciences before that is possible,” he said.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Having just returned from an Executive Session with Director Craig Swenson of Geauga County Department of Job and Family Services and hearing Commissioner Jim Dvorak’s cryptic remark, “It’s always right to follow the law,” we sensed some big upheaval as Commissioners announced the second Executive Session about 10:40 am regarding Agenda Item #18: “Executive Session for the purpose of discussing the employment and/or dismissal of public employees in the Transit Department.” Noticeably absent from any such discussion was JoAnn Santilli, the current Director of Geauga Transit, an active, able, and knowledgeable administrator. Over the course of the last several months, she has appeared with the representative of Lake Tran. To discuss a joint Geauga-Lake County venture purported to maintain and improve public transit opportunities for Geauga residents.

When Commissioners returned from the Executive Session at 11:35 am, they announced that all Geauga Transit employees will be laid off effective June 19, 2023, and become employees of Lake Transit. All Geauga County Transit employees subjected to layoffs and transfer to Lake County maintain the legal right to appeal the legal action. Geauga Transit, however, will continue to operate out of their current Merritt Road garage.

Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri announced that the new Lake Tran employees will receive pay increases over their Geauga Transit rates of pay. Furthermore, he noted that “small counties” like Geauga County cannot take advantage of buying “pools” for the best discounts.

Commissioner Dvorak reiterated that under the umbrella of Lake Tran, Geauga Transit becomes part of a bigger buying pool.


Re: BOCC action on Geauga Transit Employees
From: Gerard Morgan, County Administrator
Date: June 15, 2023

During the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting today (June 15, 2023) the Board took an action regarding laying-off current Geauga Transit employees. This action was taken at the behest of the Geauga County Prosecutor’s Office as a formality only.

All current Geauga County Transit employees except one (who is resigning from employment effective June 20, 2023) have already begun employment under the terms of the agreement between the Geauga County Commissioners and Lake Tran on June 12, 2023.

Unlike the agreement the Geauga County Health District made with the Lake County Health District, the Geauga County / Lake Tran agreement was designed to guarantee employment for all current Transit employees. Additionally, Geauga Transit employees will still be working out of the Geauga Transit facility on Merritt Road. The Geauga County / Lake Tran agreement was put in place to provide additional funding sources and an expanded fleet to better serve the people of Geauga County.

The action taken today was necessary to acknowledge the fact that the positions will no longer exist under Geauga County effective at the end of the day on June 30, 2023. Under the terms of the agreement if the agreement is terminated the Geauga Transit will return under the auspices of the Geauga County Commissioners and the employees will be brought back.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Commissioner Jim Dvorak confirmed rumors that Steve Oluic had resigned his position as Director of Water Resources effective July 8. Newly reappointed last week by Commissioners Dvorak, Spidalieri and Lennon to a new four-year term as member of the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services, the confirmation of Oluic’s resignation from Water Resources came as a surprise to some.

Although the resignation does not go into effect until July, Dr. Oluic was not present when the Board of County Commissioners heard and approved two Water Resources Agenda Items originally scheduled on the Tuesday, July 13 public meeting. That agenda was canceled June 12th for lack of a quorum but rescheduled June 14th as a Special Commissioners Meeting for today, June 15.

Nick Gorris introduced both Items 11 and 12 and received unanimous approval from the Commissioners.

Item 11 requested that “the Board approve and authorize the President of the Board to execute the Environmental Protection Agency, Certification Regarding Lobbying in regard to Certification for Contracts, Grants, Loans and Cooperative Agreements for the FY22 Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) Grant request for the McFarland Wastewater Treatment Plant Renovation and Upgrade project in the amount of $800,000.

Item 12 requested that “the Board approve and execute Resolution #23-107 Approving American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Berkshire Heights Sewer Connection Increase for Certain Properties, for an additional expenditure for two parcels, #06-101800 for an increase of $6500.00 and #06-093090 for an increase of $11,100.00 for a combined total increase of $17,600.00.” Said dollar increase represents a larger than originally anticipated cost of sewer connection for two properties within the 115-home Berkshire Hills complex.

When Commissioners were asked to comment on Commissioners’ possible new appointments to fulfill the vacancy created by Oluic’s sudden resignation, Commissioner Jim Dvorak noted that Dr. Oluic was still serving as the Director of Water Resources.


June 7, 2023

Ms. Kimberly Brown and her chief assistant, Rick Szasz, at the invitation of Commissioners Clerk, Christine Blair, offered a 28 minute power point presentation identified as Agenda Item #14:

“Kimberly Brown, regional Program Manager, Ohio Guidestone (Geauga and Lake Counties) will discuss the services Ohio Guidestone provides for Geauga County, including outreach.”


About 26 minutes into the presentation, Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri responded from his position as President of the Commissioners,

“I’m just speaking personally, I mean, it’s just its just difficult to sometimes swallow information because it’s either we fail tremendously on our education system to be able to build this [sic] or parenting skills of parents out there to give people basic skills. But but 55 people or 55 kids for summer jobs [sic]. Drive around in every every places [sic] got the sign up in the front, you know, and it’s like, if they [sic] want to work, they can work.”

Ms. Brown apparently understood Spidalieri’s reference to “55 kids for summer jobs.”

She responded with a smile:

“They can, they can. However, we don’t just provide that work program. We have the wraparound for the yearly program where they learn other job skills they learned from employers in the agency or in the county. We also look at the fact that not all people hiring in the county want to work with individuals who have been in such troubled pasts.

Yeah, so some of the kids that we have, have been submitted to significant barriers—homelessness, foster care, aging out of foster care-- you know, we’re talking about sexual abuse, mental health issues. So, yeah, it’s not just an everyday individual walking off the street. They have to be under 200% of the poverty level in order to be a part of our program.

And yeah, it hits hard, Commissioner Spidalieri. You and I...If you would like to sit down and talk about it, I’d be more than happy to. Ohio Guidestone runs a program called ‘Bridges out of Poverty’ and it talks exactly why individuals are in generational poverty and the steps that they need to get out of it.”

In fewer than two minutes, Ms. Brown continued to smile, acknowledging the individuals in attendance whom she could praise for their services as role models to help youth with ‘significant barriers.’


Sunday, May 21, 2023
By Adam Ferrise | Cleveland.com

CHARDON, Ohio — It seemed simple enough. More than two years ago, some Geauga County officials wanted to ditch an independent contractor handling the water department’s IT in favor of the county’s own IT system — a requirement under Ohio law.

Those years have been nothing short of tumultuous. They’ve been filled with elected and appointed officials shouting insults at each other in public meetings, a wastewater plant shutdown, a lawsuit filed by commissioners against other county officials and a Russian-based hack of the water department’s emails.

The longstanding fight escalated earlier this month when investigators for the Geauga County prosecutor, along with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, simultaneously raided an employee’s office at the Department of Water Resources and the contractor’s business and home.

The raids came as little surprise to some, like Geauga County Auditor Chuck Walder, who led the charge to bring Water Resources’ technology under the Automated Data Processing Board, the county’s IT department.

“Honestly, it answered a lot of questions for me,” Walder said. “Why would you resist oversight that much? Why would you fight it? Because you don’t want someone looking over your shoulder.”

The criminal investigation centers around the contractor, Joe Camino of CSJ Technologies, and Water Resources IT administrator Mike Kurzinger. Investigators searched Camino’s home and business in Mentor at the same time as Kurzinger’s office in the county building on Ravenwood Drive.

Investigators are probing accusations that Camino gave money to Kurzinger, according to interviews. Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz confirmed some of the examination’s focus.

Another aspect of the investigation includes a $16,000 contract in 2022 for Camino’s CSJ Technologies that was approved about three weeks after county IT officials told Camino his services were no longer needed. Nearly a year later, county officials paid Camino $3,000, according to documents and interviews.

No one in county government can explain the contracts, their timing, what they were for or what services were provided. Camino and Kurzinger did not respond to messages seeking comment. Camino’s attorney, Larry Zukerman, said Camino never paid Kurzinger and that his client did nothing wrong.

No charges have been filed, and Flaiz stressed that the investigation is in its early stages.


The raids underscored a longstanding and messy fight in Geauga County that has gone on for more than 20 years. More recently, it split county officials into two factions.

One side includes members of the Automated Data Processing Board, which, by law, oversees all IT-related purchases and operations in the county. Walder leads the board, which is made up of 10 elected officials, including Flaiz.

Water Resources officials, including the office’s director, Steve Oluic, and the county’s administrator, Gerry Morgan, make up the other side.

County commissioners also appear split. Jim Dvorak has sided in votes with Walder’s faction; the other two commissioners, Ralph Spidalieri and Tim Lennon, often sided with Morgan, including staving off disciplinary action against Morgan that Dvorak unsuccessfully attempted.

After years of clashing, the two sides agree only on a few things: that trust between them has been destroyed and that there’s little hope the relationships can be repaired. And those who pay the price are Geauga County’s residents.


No one can pinpoint exactly how or why the fight started more than two decades ago. Some point to Water Resources being quasi-independent and wanting to stay that way. The department runs off the revenue it generates from delivering services to residents, and it requires less oversight from the commissioners.

Others, like Walder, said it could stem from Camino’s involvement in county business. Walder pointed out that the former Water Resources director, Morgan, is now the county administrator, and he worked with Camino for years in that position.

Morgan said he was Water Resources director at the time Camino gave Kurzinger a loan, but he said he never knew about it. And he rejected Walder’s argument about favoritism and said he’s operating like he would with any other department. He said Water Resources reduced Camino’s role over the years by hiring more IT employees to prepare for the eventual retirement of Kurzinger, the IT administrator for the department.

Oluic, the Water Resources director, and Morgan both said the Water Resources’ internal IT department backed by Camino is more responsive and gives the department better flexibility and security in the event of a catastrophe than the county’s automated data processing system.

Walder, who ran a software company for more than two decades before jumping into local politics, said the move is required by law. The county’s system is better equipped and staffed to handle emergencies and day-to-day operations, Walder said.

He said he started moving all county departments under the processing board’s control shortly after he was elected auditor in 2018 following a scandal in the auditor’s office. The former auditor, Frank Gliha, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that said he negligently managed the office for years, as his IT chief embezzled some $1.8 million in public funds.

Walder said Gliha and other former auditors failed to keep the county’s system updated.

“We wanted to bring this county out of the Stone Age with ADP (the data processing system),” he said.

He quickly found pushback in Water Resources. In January 2021, Walder sent a formal letter to the department saying it was legally required to come under the county’s data processing system, and the process would soon begin.


On Feb. 25, 2022, the county’s data processing officials said in emails that they were starting by migrating Water Resources’ emails. Kurzinger, the Water Resources’ IT administrator, emailed back that he was “blindsided” and asked for more information.

Camino, in a March 1 email, said he was “confused by the game plan,” that Kurzinger would be swamped with work, and there was nothing for the county to gain by the switch.

“I’m scratching my head at how anyone benefits from this considering it’s such a daunting task,” Camino’s email said.

Allen Keener, the county processing system’s chief technology officer, responded and said Camino’s assistance was no longer needed.

On March 29, 2022, Water Resources approved the $16,000 contract for CSJ Technologies.

A few months later, on July 14, 2022, the county’s data processing officials notified Water Resources that they had begun changing administrative passwords in the switch.

Morgan, the county administrator, sent an email shortly after, calling the password switch a “hostile takeover.” He wrote that the county’s system would be “responsible for any issues that occurred” at any wastewater or water plants, noting that no issues had occurred under the prior arrangement.

Two days later, the McFarland Wastewater Treatment plant in Bainbridge Township shut down.


The incident sent public officials scrambling to find a fix while blaming each other.

The shutdown could have caused waste to spill into the nearby Chagrin River. It cost Water Resources about $30,000 in overtime and other costs to keep the plant running manually, while trying to fix the issue, said Oluic, the director of Water Resources.

Accusations flew. It was the county processing system’s fault for changing passwords and installing a firewall called CrowdStrike, Oluic and Morgan said.

Walder, the county auditor, shot back. He said that was impossible because CrowdStrike had been installed weeks before the shutdown, and passwords had been changed days before. Any issue would have caused a shutdown immediately, not days or weeks later.

He accused Oluic and Kurzinger of incompetence, allowing the department’s technology to become vulnerable by refusing to come under the county’s control. He hinted at sabotage.

The plant was down for three days.

Oluic said once CrowdStrike was removed, the plant’s technology restarted. Walder and the deputy data processing administrator, Frank Antenucci, said CrowdStrike was never removed.

Walder said the timing of the issue, coming two days after Morgan’s email about a plant shutdown, made him skeptical. He said he believes an “insider” caused the shutdown.

When officials tried to access a log that would have said exactly who or what accessed the plant before the shutdown, the log had been erased.

“I just don’t buy those kinds of coincidences,” Walder said.


The fight between the two factions over the plant shutdown took another turn.

Oluic on July 26, 2022, called Bainbridge Township police and requested a criminal investigation into Antenucci, the deputy administrator for the county data processing system.

Oluic reported an employee found a camera installed in a technology room in the plant that housed a server. He said he had never been told about the camera and worried about someone spying on the plant and his workers, according to the police report.

An officer called an investigator for the Geauga County prosecutor’s office who said the data processing system had installed the camera, and it was legal. Oluic, in an email, asked the officer to re-open the case.

Bainbridge Police Chief Jon Bokovitz called the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to see if it would take over the investigation.

BCI agents said the county prosecutor would need to refer the case to them for an investigation. Bokovitz closed the probe without charges. He declined to comment on the situation.

The issues stemming from the plant shutdown and the report to Bainbridge police continue to plague the county. Both sides regularly fire off accusations at the other stemming from the issues at the plant.

And nearly a year later, no one has found out exactly what caused the plant to shut down.


As the fight over the water plant raged, another issue emerged. County officials told Water Resources employees that their keycard access would be changed when they moved into the new county building on Ravenwood Drive in July 2022.

The county’s data processing officials said that they should control keycard access to the new building. Morgan and two county commissioners pushed back and said the commissioners controlled the access, under the maintenance department.

In September, two commissioners— Spidalieri and Lennon— hired attorney Stephen Funk, who filed a lawsuit against Walder, Flaiz and the Automated Data Processing Board. Dvorak said he wasn’t in favor of the lawsuit but was overruled. The lawsuit said the data processing board overstepped its legal authority and created “an unreasonable security risk.”

Flaiz, the county’s prosecutor, represented the board against the county commissioners, flipping his typical role. He said in court filings that the lawsuit was an “ambush” and argued the data processing board had the authority to control keycards.

The judge in the case granted Flaiz’s request to go to mediation. The commissioners ultimately dropped the suit on April 4. The county so far has paid about $40,000 to the outside attorneys, records show.


After the lawsuit was dismissed, the push to bring Water Resources under the data processing umbrella stumbled again.

On April 13, a Russian-based hacker attacked the Water Resources’ email system. The data processing system’s firewall, CrowdStrike, blocked the hack from advancing.

The hack happened on a Water Resources server that Camino set up and was responsible for maintaining. The server was built in 2012 and had a 2016 operating system that hadn’t been updated in months, partly because officials put a hold on doing anything with Water Resources while the lawsuit was pending.

Tempers exploded at an emergency data processing meeting the next day.

Flaiz, the county prosecutor, asked why Water Resources hadn’t moved to the county data board’s email system yet. Kurzinger blamed the lawsuit.

“I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened” if Water Resources were under the county’s data processing system, Walder said. “It’s a different server.”

Flaiz asked Kurzinger if any of the agency’s vendors had issues with ransomware. An uncomfortable silence fell on the room. Kurzinger spoke up: “Joe did.”

Camino said his business was hit by ransomware in December and ultimately paid the hackers. Flaiz asked him if his server was connected to Water Resources. Camino initially said no.

He later said his servers did have access to those of Water Resources but that they hadn’t connected for more than a year. Walder asked if Camino installed free updates on Water Resources servers. Camino said they weren’t in the budget.

Flaiz turned his ire on Morgan, and he blamed him for the ordeal. He asked if Morgan would allow Water Resources to finally come under the county data system’s umbrella. Morgan said he had already decided to move forward.

“Apparently you run the whole county,” Flaiz said. “Okay, so Gerry has now given his blessing after a horrible cyberattack on us during the migration.”

Morgan shot back: “You can stop trying to correct my testimony.”

Flaiz: “Gerry, you lie all the time.”

The feelings were still raw a month later. Oluic, when asked about the meeting, called Flaiz an “immature imbecile” and said everyone involved should be embarrassed.


At an Automated Data Processing Board meeting on May 3, federal agents and investigators for the Geauga County prosecutor’s office showed up with a search warrant signed by Chardon Municipal Judge Terri Stupica.

The search warrant said investigators are probing the crime of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony.

They pulled Kurzinger from the meeting and interviewed him at a nearby county building.

Investigators took Kurzinger’s cellphones, computer, external hard drives, a dozen thumb drives, other electronic data storage devices and invoices from CSJ Technologies from the top drawer of a filing cabinet from Kurzinger’s office, according to the records.

Two other search warrants, for Camino’s home and business, are sealed, as are the affidavits detailing the probable cause for the search.

Oluic said after the raid he became aware of accusations that Camino had paid Kurzinger. He said he saw checks, worth $2,000 each from Camino to Kurzinger.

He said Kurzinger took the money as loans for down payments on a car lease. He said Kurzinger paid back Camino.

Oluic said the Camino and Kurzinger are friends outside of work. Camino has contracted with Water Resources for decades, and Kurzinger has worked there for more than 20 years.

“From what I understand Mike was having tough times,” Oluic said. “They’ve known each other for 30 years. That’s the problem with working in a county that’s so incestuous and inbred.

“What he did was wrong. He shouldn’t have taken a loan from a vendor. But is there anything illegal? That’s the thing I doubt.”

Flaiz, in a brief interview, said: “A loan versus a payment is a distinction without a difference.”

Camino had been paid some $328,000 for county work since 2014, according to county records, though the contracts are never worth more than $30,000, which don’t warrant competitive bids.

Camino’s contracts with the county in 2022 for $16,000 and 2023 for $3,000, however, have gone unexplained.

The purchase orders were both signed by Oluic. He said he was unsure exactly what the contracts were for, even though he signed them.

“I don’t know,” Oluic said. “I could have signed it. You know how many times I sign stuff every day? Lots. I guess the innuendo is we were trying to get something by, but if we wanted to do that, we could have gone straight to the commissioners. There’s no intent to deceive anyone.”

Dvorak and Spidalieri said they were unaware of the contracts. Lennon didn’t respond to requests for interviews for this story.

Walder, as the auditor, signed off on the money.

He said if the contracts had said they were for IT services, his office would have flagged them for approval by the data board. Instead, the paperwork that went to the auditor’s office said the contracts were for “computer services and repairs” and for “materials and supplies.”

“They gamed the system,” Walder said. “There was nothing to show for it.”

Morgan, the county administrator, said he took the issue with Kurzinger seriously, despite accusations that he’d been downplaying the raid privately.

“Even in this case where it was a loan, there’s the appearance of impropriety,” Morgan said. “From my perspective, from what little I know, I don’t know if anyone gained anything from it. But our county policy says you can’t take money from a vendor.”

Camino’s attorney, Zukerman, said his client was an integral part of county operations and is “upset his name has been brought into this.”

“He hopes to work with the county in the future but will respect the process,” Zukerman said.


It’s unclear what happens from here. The criminal investigation will move forward. The two sides now only communicate during public meetings or via email so there’s a record of what was said.

Spidalieri said he has never seen the “disconnect” in county government that exists now. He said everyone wants control.

“This isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing for the people of our county,” he said. “I think we’re doing a huge disservice to the county by all of the egos that are in place that aren’t working together. That’s been the bottom line. It’s never been like this. Now it’s the norm in all of these situations.”

Dvorak said he still wants answers.

“With the FBI and Secret Service’s help,” he said, “we’re hopefully going to find out more in the weeks and months to come.”


Friday, June 2, 2023

Legal issues and the unpreparedness to take on more attorney costs briefly brought Geauga Commissioners and their appointed County Administrator, Gerry Morgan, closer to agreement .

Item # 27 asked the following:

“The Commissioners’ Office is requesting the Board approve an increase in the amount of $5,000.00 for the Retention Agreement re: Representation of Geauga County Commissioners in Mediation and Potential Litigation Filed by Charles Walder, Geauga County Auditor, and/or the Geauga County ADP Board with Roetzel and Andress for a new not to exceed amount of $45,000.00 unless prior approval by the Board.”

Following announcement of settlement grievances involving the Commissioners as a result of alleged security breaches, transfer of Commissioner business to a location before completing change of county-seat regulations, and grievances over proper handling of Board of Elections voting equipment, Commissioners now find themselves wearied and frustrated by the unexpected maelstrom of being the center of attention. Gerry Morgan, acknowledging “ everything going on,” may for once have properly expressed the feelings of the four heads behind the high desk, when all three Commissioners approved a motion to table #27.

Commissioner Dvorak, seconded by Commissioner Lennon, made the motion to table #27. The oral vote resulted in 3-0 approval to table #27, while the results of a May 10 emergency ADP session has resulted in ADP’s receipt of logs from the Department of Water Resources.

Tabling the approval for an additional $45,000 for legal representation did not end the potential legal quagmire as the Commissioners finally got through #28.

“The Commissioners’ Office is requesting the Board approve and authorize the County Administrator, Gerard Morgan [sic] to execute the Engagement Letter with Fishel Downey Albrecht and Riepenhoff, LLP for representation concerning a disciplinary investigation in an amount not [sic] exceed $20,000.00 unless prior authorization by the Board.”

This item was unanimously approved by all three Commissioners with the understanding that Fishel Downey is working for CORSA, the insurance group covering Geauga County employees.

Before the meeting was officially adjourned Ralph Spidalieri publicly wailed, “I have no knowledge of this case.” Commissioner Dvorak cited ORC 2921.42 as the guidepost from Ohio Revised Code.


Clearly, Summer 2023 has opened up some huge issues as Commissioners Spidalieri and Lennon face some potentially formidable reelection issues as voters declare need for new moral-ethical compass.


Friday, June 2, 2023

It must be summer in Geauga County because Washington Street in Auburn and Bainbridge Townships will experience its seasonal asphalt resurfacing. For Sections C-E, which include Auburn and Bainbridge Townships, Ronyak Paving is the approved vendor at a price of $1,312,655.00. Additionally, Sections A-B, totally within Bainbridge Township, will undergo asphalt resurfacing with Karvo Companies completing the work per the contract price of $843,449.11.

In addition to the usual one-lane traffic, detours, and paving smells, taxpayers in Auburn and Bainbridge can savor the $2,156,104.

Be mindful of the road crews keeping Washington Street in great shape.


Friday, June 2, 2023
Connor Vasile | Charlemagne Institute

As with most things espoused in the name of social progress, the left’s aggressive push for EV technology conveniently forgets the lives of those affected by it the most.

“On my watch, the great American road trip is going to be fully electrified…you can get up to $7,500 on a new electric vehicle,” Biden exclaimed during a photo-op in a shiny electric Hummer. I bet that tax credit will come in handy when the average American is forced to buy a $60,000 EV after gas-powered cars are banned outright.

Leftists love to harp on the life-or-death need to eliminate anything non-electric. Biden is currently setting his sights on an emissions mandate that could severely limit the accessibility of gas-powered cars to blue-collar citizens. The administration is justifying its control of the market by stating that it’s the equitable thing to do.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced: “President Biden’s historic clean energy laws are making it possible for us to get more EVs on the road by expanding charging infrastructure into underserved communities, while reducing range and cost anxiety among drivers who want to go electric.”

I’m sure Granholm herself traveled to these underserved communities to see what gives those people “cost anxiety.” For some reason, I don’t think that EVs are anywhere remotely on their minds.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg affirmed that he would be using $1 billion dollars from the laughably bipartisan infrastructure bill to, “deconstruct the racism that was built into the roadways.” Mr. Pete is one of the elites who celebrated the immense spikes in gasoline prices as that somehow meant that more people would be inclined to buy EVs. Since then, he’s been hard at work to desegregate the highways and combat systemically oppressive potholes.


What these short-sighted armchair activists fail to realize is that their green absolutism actually promotes inequality. Do they know what is being done to satiate their need for all these electric batteries?

Slavery and child labor.

No, I’m not being hyperbolic. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), so-called “artisanal” miners work in extremely dangerous conditions to mine cobalt and nickel-elements crucial in the production of batteries seen in electric cars like Teslas, Fords, and VWs. Men, women, and children scrounge about in debilitating heat and die in mine shaft collapses while the militias who “recruited” them from villages across the country look on in indifference. At best, these indentured servants are paid a dollar or two a day for their grueling work.

Siddharth Kara, a fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied these mining operations and noted: “Cobalt is toxic to touch and breathe-and there are hundreds of thousands of poor Congolese people touching and breathing it… Young mothers with babies strapped to their backs, all breathing in this toxic cobalt dust. There’s complete cross-contamination between industrial excavator-derived cobalt and cobalt dug by women and children with their bare hands.”

There are an estimated 40,000 children working in these toxic mines, with many of them being as young as six.

So much for “clean energy.”

What’s even more terrifying is that as these operations are unaccounted for in official audits thanks to local corruption and gray-market business tactics, there’s no telling exactly how many people are working in these dangerous conditions under the threat of force.

Now despite being illegal, these operations are widespread throughout the country—and are well funded by outside interests. It is estimated that around 70 percent of Congolese mining operations are owned by Chinese government-backed investment firms. So we now not only have the issue of questionable business practices and unsafe work environments in poverty-stricken regions, but also a multi-billion dollar industry which directly benefits an authoritarian government well known for its genocidal practices.

That doesn’t sound equitable.


Even when faced with these glaring human rights abuses, the west has been peculiarly mute on the subject. You certainly don’t see any big-name politicians protesting the manufacture of such covetable batteries, do you? At the bottom of this violent supply chain, you have Congolese of all ages dying or becoming seriously injured while being forced to mine toxic cobalt veins. At the end of the day, these are the people who are supporting the west’s EV production.

From the legacy media and politicians we receive only silence. How can they say that America switching to completely EV-based transportation will bring equity to our racist country, when their own policies directly support modern-day African slavery outfits?

Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder have to pay for their ‘enlightened’ whims. Why should the elites care? All this systemic abuse is being committed in some far away land-out of sight, out of mind. It’s not an issue because it’s over there. This is the sort of “progress” politicians are rooting for, regardless of how many Ford electrics they sell.

As Henry Hazlitt pointed out: “The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups.”

That is the issue. Lawmakers and business moguls don’t care about the real-world ramifications of their actions. While they push “equitable” standards in a PR stunt to get better ESG scores, they are completely neglecting the actual life-or-death effects of “green” legislation.


Monday, May 29, 2023
Patricia Tolson, Investigative Reporter

The demand for unvaccinated blood is on the rise, a blood products and services provider said.

Kirby Winn, public relations manager of ImpactLife, says that while the hospitals his company serves have not expressed any interest in receiving unvaccinated blood, he has noticed the demand for “pure blood” rising from the general population.

According to its website, ImpactLife provides blood products and services to more than 120 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

“We have a lot of conversations with people who have questions and concerns about this,” Winn said.

However, he acknowledged that those who ask questions about receiving blood from vaccinated donors “might not be satisfied with the answers.”

In a joint statement (pdf) issued on Jan. 26, the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross vouched for the safety of America’s blood supply, assuring the public that “vaccines do not pose a risk to patients receiving blood transfusions.”

As Winn explained, blood providers nationally “are confident that this is the right position” and they “continue to monitor blood transfusion-related incidents with the recipients of blood transfusions through a process called hemovigilance.”

“As far as the medical treatment goes, it’s not relevant if the donor is vaccinated or not vaccinated for COVID and we don’t track it,” Winn said. “When people come in to give blood we don’t ask the question, ‘Have you received a COVID vaccine or have you not received a COVID- vaccine.'”


The Jan. 26 joint statement also assured the public that because “there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates adverse outcomes” from blood transfusions from vaccinated donors, there is “no medical reason to distinguish or separate blood donations from individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.”

However, the Red Cross states on its website that donors who received a COVID-19 vaccine will “need to provide the manufacturer name” when they come to donate.

“Upon vaccination, you should receive a card or printout indicating what COVID-19 vaccine was received, and we encourage you to bring that card with you to your next donation,” the Red Cross advises. “In most cases, there is no deferral time for individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of donation.”

While the FDA updated its information on Jan. 11, 2022, saying it “does not recommend using COVID-19 laboratory tests to screen routine blood donors,” it also said that “the blood establishment’s responsible physician must evaluate prospective donors and determine eligibility.”

The FDA further advised that donor candidates who were diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19 should “refrain from donating blood for at least 10 days after complete resolution of symptoms.” However, “individuals who are tested and found positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies” in their blood “can donate without a waiting period and without performing a diagnostic test.”

The coronavirus disease, commonly known as COVID-19, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and originated in Wuhan, China.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the entire world. The protocols that were instituted to mitigate the deadly impact of COVID-19 caused additional damage.

Masking and social isolation measures divided America’s population into two camps. Those who embraced the mandates became intolerant of those who rejected them, and vice versa. According to data compiled by USA Facts, approximately 81 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of May 10. About 70 percent are considered fully vaccinated. Those vaccines triggered a whole new era of segregation: the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated.


The safety of COVID-19 vaccines became a highly-controversial issue after they were rolled out.

An analysis (pdf) regarding the demand for unvaccinated blood, issued Dec. 17, 2022, noted that “embalmers have reported finding unusual clots not only in deceased people” who’ve received COVID-19 vaccinations “but also in those who have had a blood transfusion.”

The analysis included comments from Steve Kirsch, executive director of the Vaccine Safety Research Foundation, who concluded that “the risk is not zero.”

A study led by the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) and published on Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science confirmed that COVID-19 vaccines do pose a small risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots.

Dr. Peter L. Elkin, first author of the paper and a UB distinguished professor, called the risk “trivial,” noting that “about 1.4 cases per million” vaccinated patients were affected.

Mark Sherwood, a naturopathic doctor with the Functional Medicine Institute, suggests other factors are involved.

“I have talked to morticians who have been in the business for 25 and 30 years and they are indeed seeing an increase in clots in the bodies of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” Sherwood said. “Further, they indicate to me that the question of vaccination or not is coming up more.”

Sherwood also said he “would be remiss” if he didn’t mention that the American diet is “creating massive inflammation on an organ system called the endothelium, which lends itself to more damage and more clot risk.”

He also noted the rise in cases of heart disease and vascular disease.

“That’s a very important point,” Sherwood insisted. “We need to look at all angles of this from both a medical and a journalistic standpoint.”


On May 11, the FDA finalized recommendations “assessing blood donor eligibility using a set of individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV.”

“These final recommendations are consistent with the policy initially proposed in January,” the FDA said.

“This policy eliminates time-based deferrals and screening questions specific to men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM,” the FDA advised.

Under the final guidance, all questions “will be the same for every donor, regardless of sexual orientation, sex or gender,” and blood-related establishments are advised that they “may now implement these recommendations by revising their donor history questionnaires and procedures.”

“All prospective donors who report having a new sexual partner, or more than one sexual partner in the past three months, and anal sex in the past three months, would be deferred to reduce the likelihood of donations by individuals with new or recent HIV infection who may be in the window period for detection of HIV by nucleic acid testing,” the FDA advised.

People taking medications to treat or prevent HIV infection will also be deferred.

While the FDA has issued final guidance, Winn said the changes have not yet been implemented.

“We have many changes to make to our donor screening system, donor records, and staff training,” Winn explained. “Even though the new guidance has been out for a couple of weeks, blood providers are not able to make these changes overnight. We are beginning the process, and welcome the change, but we have a lot of i’s to dot and a lot of t’s to cross.”

Winn anticipates the new eligibility criteria should be running by the end of the year.


By using individual risk-based questions, the FDA hopes to “reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted HIV.” However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says blood transfusions pose the highest rate of HIV transmission per exposure.

For every 10,000 exposures through a blood transfusion, 9,250 recipients of that blood will contract HIV.

In a statement (pdf) issued on May 17, the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies (AABB) joined the American Red Cross to “applaud the important, science-driven step forward in blood donation criteria that will base eligibility on an individual donor assessment using the same set of questions for all donors, regardless of sexual orientation.”

“The blood community is proud to mark this progress towards a more inclusive blood donation process and is committed to working with the FDA and other stakeholders to ensure that deferral changes continue to be examined moving forward.”

Sherwood said he is “very concerned” about the FDA’s decision to revise the screening requirements for assessing the eligibility of donors.

He believes the FDA’s new guidance is more of “a political stunt” than an effort to protect the public.

“When we start compromising principles for political correctness, we’re losing our direction,” Sherwood suggested. “This is a natural next step in the regressive progression.”

Sherwood warned that the new guidance could have devastating consequences.

“What if one HIV-infected donation slips through?” he asked. “While some will argue HIV is very treatable today, why would you be willing to pass it on to someone just because it’s easier to treat?”


Monday, May 29, 2023
By: Marty Schladen | Ohio Capital Journal

Judges denied two delays in recent days that would have been key to a bribery and money laundering scandal that took place in Ohio between 2017 to 2020. Lawyers in one suit called it “one of the largest corruption and bribery schemes in U.S. history.”

Denial of a delay in one court case means that a player will still be sentenced late next month.

In denying the other, the judge in that case agreed with two former FirstEnergy executives who said federal law enforcement has them in its crosshairs. But she ordered that they be questioned under oath anyway.

One of those denied was former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, who on March 9 was convicted of racketeering along with former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford. Two others who were also charged in 2020 pleaded guilty and a third died by suicide.

Borges and Householder played very different roles in a scheme to use more than $60 million from Akron-based FirstEnergy to make Householder speaker at the start of 2019 so Householder could pass and protect a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout that mostly benefited FirstEnergy. But both made heavy use of funds that were passed through 501(c)(4) “dark money” accounts that enabled them to disguise its FirstEnergy source.

Householder directed the effort in 2018 to elect friendly representatives who would make him speaker. He led the 2019 legislative fight to pass the bailout. And he engineered the nasty, dishonest battle to beat back an attempted repeal.

Borges’ role was much more limited. He acted as a go-between with statewide officials such as Attorney General Dave Yost and Secretary of State Frank LaRose — and he paid a worker on the repeal campaign $15,000 as the worker shared inside information about its likelihood of success.

Even though Householder’s role in the scandal was much bigger than that of Borges, each faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison on the one count of racketeering of which he was convicted. Householder is scheduled to be sentenced in the Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse in Cincinnati on June 29. Borges was scheduled for sentencing the next day.

But after his conviction, Borges asked the court for extra time to file post-trial motions asking that his conviction be thrown out. U.S. District Judge Timothy Black agreed, giving him until April 24.

Borges didn’t file anything by that deadline. But on May 15, Borges again asked permission to file post-trial motions. He argued that his conviction was on much shakier ground in light of two decisions handed down on May 11 by the U.S. Supreme Court: Ciminelli vs. United States and Percoco vs. United States.

Judge Black, however, on Monday agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter that the legal theories those decisions dealt with were “neither charged, nor argued, nor instructed” in Borges’ case. Black added that it’s important to keep the case moving.

“Finally, this case has been litigated, tried, and a verdict returned. Defendant Borges is now scheduled for sentencing on June 30, 2023. Disrupting the schedule would needlessly undermine the interests in judicial efficiency and finality,” the judge wrote.

Similarly, a separate federal judge declined to postpone sworn depositions of the two former FirstEnergy executives who directed more than $60 million in corporate cash to Householder-controlled dark money groups that fueled the scandal. She did so even as she acknowledged that former CEO Chuck Jones and former Vice President Michael Dowling “fear they are next in line for indictment” and don’t want to incriminate themselves in their depositions.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Jolson is helping to manage the administration of a massive class-action suit against FirstEnergy, Jones and Dowling over the Householder scandal. Investors say the recklessness of the scheme cost them big — especially when it came to light and stock values plummeted.

Alleging federal securities fraud, lawyers for pension funds and other investors have said in court filings, “FirstEnergy and its most senior executives bankrolled one of the largest corruption and bribery schemes in U.S. history.”

Judge Jolson already slapped Sam Randazzo — Gov. Mike DeWine’s chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio — for not producing documents related to the $4.3 million FirstEnergy paid him just as DeWine was nominating Randazzo. Even though he was supposed to be regulating the utility, Randazzo, who has not been charged, helped draft the corrupt bailout law.

Last Friday, Jolson also rejected attempts by Jones and Dowling — the former FirstEnergy executives — to delay sworn depositions to September or even later. The depositions had been scheduled for this week and next, but plaintiffs and defendants agreed to a short delay while Jolson considered the request.

In asking to hold off until Sept. 8, Jones and Dowling said that having to give a deposition under oath put them in a position in which they were damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t.

Answering questions could put them in criminal jeopardy, but if they took the Fifth, the jury in the class-action case is free to conclude they have something bad to hide, Jones and Dowling argued. They added that it’s certain that the feds are coming after them.

“Although the defendants in (the Householder trial) have been found guilty (but are yet to be sentenced) and charges have not yet been brought against Jones or Dowling, there can be no doubt that the government’s investigation into Jones and Dowling remains ongoing,” their motion said.

Judge Jolson replied that she had to weigh those concerns against those of FirstEnergy investors, who already have been fighting the case for nearly three years.

Jones and Dowling “say the stay is temporary, (but) their grounds supporting the stay could extend for months or even years,” Jolson wrote. “Presently, they request that the depositions be delayed until at least September 8, 2023. (Jones and Dowling) have chosen this date because it is the first date on which investigations and proceedings conducted by PUCO might resume—after a third six-month stay of those proceedings was recently granted at the request of” federal prosecutors.

The judge added it didn’t help the former executives’ argument that they haven’t been indicted yet because waiting until that question is resolved is a recipe for further delay.

Jolson said she understood the executives’ dilemma.

“In sum, there is substantial overlap between the issues in this case and the criminal investigation surrounding the Householder case,” she wrote. “And (Jones and Dowling) are faced with legitimate concerns regarding the invocation of their Fifth Amendment rights.”

Jolson added, however, that granting a delay would privilege the former executives who funded the corrupt bailout scheme over the aggrieved investors and the public.

“A stay of these key depositions at this moment — with no clear end in sight — would throw a wrench into the works of discovery and impede or even halt the litigation,” she wrote. “It would privilege the interests of (Jones and Dowling) above those of Plaintiffs, the public (whose interests are particularly implicated given that this is a class action), and the Court.”


Sunday, May 21, 2023
Matthew Vadum

Editors Note: EVERYONE is at risk as a result of this Supreme Court Ruling. Read carefully.

The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in a delinquent taxpayer case that it is lawful for the IRS to secretly summons the bank records of third parties.

In other words, the nation’s highest court recognized that the Internal Revenue Service is not required to notify third parties who are not under investigation when seeking a summons for banking records thought to be relevant to the tax delinquency of another person.

One lawyer who briefed the Supreme Court said the new ruling gives the IRS “startlingly broad authority to pry into the financial records of people who may be only remotely connected to a delinquent taxpayer.”

The ruling, a victory for the Biden administration, came after the administration’s attempts to strengthen IRS enforcement efforts became an issue in the midterm congressional elections. The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022, allocated almost $80 billion to the IRS to hire an extra 87,000 agents. Democrats say the IRS has long been underfunded, but Republicans say the extra money will be used to harass taxpayers.

At oral arguments on March 29 the justices had seemed sympathetic to the claim of the wife of a man who owed substantial taxes that the IRS went too far in pursuing her bank records without prior notice. At the same time, they acknowledged the agency needs effective tools to attempt to collect delinquent accounts.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s opinion (pdf) in Polselli v. IRS, court file 21-1599, which was issued on May 18.

The IRS claims Remo Polselli owes $2 million in assessed taxes and penalties and issued summonses without notice seeking financial records from banks. His bank records as well as those of his wife, Hanna Polselli, and law firms that performed work for them were sought.

The Biden administration said the IRS does not need to provide notice to third parties and that having to do so would give delinquent taxpayers “a head start in hiding assets.” Besides, the administration argued, persons involved in the process have access to the courts to combat alleged abuses.

Petitioner Hanna Polselli and the law firms argued that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit departed from a 2000 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, creating a circuit split the Supreme Court needed to resolve.

The 6th Circuit held that the disputed summonses were lawful because they were covered by an exception in the tax code pertaining to third-party record keepers. The 6th Circuit rejected the 9th Circuit’s holding that the exception applies only when the targeted taxpayer has a recognized legal interest in the records.

But the Supreme Court disagreed with Polselli and affirmed the 6th Circuit ruling.

“Congress has given the IRS considerable power to go after unpaid taxes,” Roberts wrote.

“One tool at the Service’s disposal is the authority to summon people with information concerning a delinquent taxpayer. But to safeguard privacy, the IRS is generally required to provide notice to anyone named in a summons, who can then sue to quash it. Today’s case concerns an exception to that general rule.”

The IRS is allowed to request the production of “books, papers, records, or other data” from “any person” who possesses information concerning a delinquent taxpayer, Roberts wrote.

“Given the breadth of this power, Congress has imposed certain safeguards” and generally has to give notice of the summons to any person identified in the summons, who is then entitled to bring a motion to quash the summons. But notice does not have to be provided if the summons is issued in aid of the collection of an assessment made or judgment rendered.

“In other words, the IRS may issue summonses both to determine whether a taxpayer owes money and later to collect any outstanding liability. When the IRS conducts an investigation for the purpose of ‘determining the liability’ of a taxpayer … it must provide notice … But once the Service has reached the stage of ‘collecting any such liability,’ … —which is a distinct activity—notice may not be required.”

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson filed a separate opinion concurring with the Supreme Court’s judgment. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined her concurring opinion.

Congress has “recognized that there might be situations, particularly in the collection context, where providing notice could frustrate the IRS’s ability to effectively administer the tax laws,” Jackson wrote.

“For instance, upon receiving notice that the IRS has served a summons, interested persons might move or hide collectable assets, making the agency’s collection efforts substantially harder.”

But when writing the tax code, Congress balanced the interests of the IRS and the taxpayer and “did not give the IRS a blank check, so to speak, to do with as it will in the collection arena,” Jackson wrote.

Paul Sherman, counsel for the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm, expressed alarm at the new ruling. The group filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Polselli.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling grants the IRS startlingly broad authority to pry into the financial records of people who may be only remotely connected to a delinquent taxpayer.

“That ruling raises serious Fourth Amendment concerns. Thankfully, the Court stressed that its ruling was narrowly focused on the statutory question before it. In a future case, the Court should address the constitutional limits on the government’s power to demand access to people’s most sensitive financial information.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Polselli, declined to comment.


Friday, May 19, 2023

Effective May 16, 2023, the Geauga County Commissioners Office announced “the creation, title and job description for the position of Special Projects Coordinator (#1328 to be effective May 16, 2023” to appear in the revised Organizational Chart.” That new position will be sought internally from current Geauga County employees/hirees “for a period of five days, with applications accepted from May 22, 2023 through 4:30 p.m. on May 25, 2023,” at which time the vacancy will be sought externally “until the position is filled.”


We understand that this newest position will equate to the title of Assistant or Deputy County Executive to relieve the backlog of duties currently assigned to County Administrator Gerry Morgan.

No job responsibilities, hours of employment, or per-hour compensation or package of health benefits ultimately to be paid by Geauga County voters has been publicly announced, and any compensation is subject to a 5% retroactive cost of living wage increase retroactive to the first pay period in 2023, followed by a 3% cumulative cost of living wage increase effective the first pay period in 2024, topped off by another 3% cumulative cost of living effective the first pay period and effective through the last pay period of 2024.

Do you think that Gerry Morgan will find the proper “deputy” that he can train the right way?


Friday, May 19, 2023
Casey Harper | The Center Square

Will the Biden administration’s latest energy regulations force Americans out of gas vehicles and into more expensive electric cars? Lawmakers in the U.S. House held a hearing Wednesday tackling that key question.

The hearing, held by the Oversight Committee’s Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, focused on newly proposed Environmental Protection Agency tailpipe emission rules that the federal agency itself called “ambitious.”

The EPA projects the proposed regulation would mean that fully electric vehicles make up two thirds of all new "light duty" and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales by 2032.

The EPA, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said in a news release that the rules would improve air quality and would avoid “nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions.” The rule changes still faces a lengthy public comment and approval process as well as avoiding an override from Congress after it is implemented.

“By proposing the most ambitious pollution standards ever for cars and trucks, we are delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to protect people and the planet, securing critical reductions in dangerous air and climate pollution and ensuring significant economic benefits like lower fuel and maintenance costs for families,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

The rule proposal was a focal point of scrutiny from Republicans during the hearing Wednesday.

“The rules would require an incredibly rapid EV transition that industry, the grid, and consumer demand cannot keep pace with,” U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, who chairs the subcommittee, said during the hearing. “Further, the critical mineral supply chain is already under stress. Does EPA even know whether there is enough raw material to meet its proposed standards?”

Fallon pointed out he does not oppose electric vehicles, only the federal effort to rapidly replace gas vehicles with them via government regulation. He also said EPA officials were invited to testify but declined.

“We hope this hearing will sound an alarm about the costs these two rules would inflict on American consumers, American manufacturers, the American economy, and American national security,” Fallon said.

Some witnesses pushed back against the EPA’s claims and poked holes in the assumptions about electric vehicles.

“The EPA defines EVs as zero-emission vehicles. However, EVs are not truly zero-emission vehicles,” Josh Roe, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, said during his testimony. “While they do not have a tailpipe, you still need to account for the emissions that come from the power grid. The U.S. power grid is currently 60% powered by coal and natural gas. Current and proposed EPA rules do not account for these upstream emissions when calculating compliance, let alone the additional emissions and toxic pollution generated by mining rare earth minerals around the world.”

Roe pointed to the added cost for Americans, especially farmers and those in rural areas.

“EVs are $10,000-25,000 more expensive than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles, placing them out of reach for many consumers including those in rural America where median incomes are lower than that of urban areas,” he said.

Critics say the new rule is the latest in what they call the Biden administration's sustained war on American energy and fossil fuel companies. They point to Biden’s discouragement of pipeline investment and oil permitting while simultaneously calling on other nations to produce more oil.

“The administration is on a whole-of-government mission to address climate change, no matter the law or the choices of consumers,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told The Center Square, adding that the rule changes would “force everyone into electric vehicles.”

The Biden administration is standing by the rules, one of several changes to implement a more progressive, green agenda at the federal level.

“These ambitious standards are readily achievable thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is already driving historic progress to build more American-made electric cars and secure America’s global competitiveness," Regan said.


Monday, May 15, 2023

After the the second special ADP meeting within the week, ADP members were made blatantly aware that Water Resource employee Michael Kurzinger “was instructed to return to work” on May 10, 2023, after being the subject of federal investigation.

The four official recipients of the letter (pdf), all current or former top dogs of the Department of Water Resources, maintain their offices at 12611 Ravenwood Drive, the so-called New Administrative Building. Gerry Morgan, former Director of Water Resources, as County Administrator, sits at the same table with the Commissioners in Room B303. The other three addressees, Dr. Steven Oluic, Nicholas J. Gorris, and Dave Osborn, all share Room 390.

All four addressees are under ADP’s “demand [for] any and all information. . .regarding the May 10, 2023, instruction to return to work in violation of Paid Administrative Lead. Each addressee shall provide all “information in writing to the ADP Board as soon as possible.”

The four questions are as follows:

1) Who instructed Kurzinger to return to work on May 10, 2023?

2) For what specific reason was Kurzinger instructed to work on May 10, 2023?

3) Who accompanied Kurzinger during the time he was at work on May 10, 2023?

4) What specific work did Kurzinger perform while at work on May 10, 2023?


Friday, May 12, 2023

Following fast upon the heels of spiraling internal data breaches, absence of formal disciplinary policy in regard to paid employee administrative leave prior to termination, inability of county commissioners to understand their legal rights to control security as a board, and failure to recognize growing signs of blatant indecision or subjectivity among county employees in sensitive positions, the Geauga ADP called two special meetings this week, Tuesday, May 9, from 1pm-2:45 pm and Thursday, May 11 from 3:30-4:30 pm. In the process the current atmosphere is the enmeshment of a bizarre, surreal, nightmare with individual laughter among those present invoking absolute incredulity over the next pieces of the puzzle to come together.

Following Tuesday’s discussion of the pros and cons of individual key cards to permit individual access to individual offices at the problematic Administration Building, as well as heightened security for individual offices along Chardon Square, there were allegations of “pulling wires” and last-minute construction and electric foibles by contractors, as well as concern about the inability of safety/security personnel to solve potentially life-threatening situations without a master key-card themselves.

Such questions resulted in the tabling of items 7 and 8 at Tuesday’s ADP meeting until submission of a detailed internal wiring diagram for the Administration Building from Intertech and common terminology regarding definition of the term silo.

County Administrator Gerry Morgan’s failure to provide the rationale/defense of “operation of the Mission technology ...long used by the Water Resources Department” to operate county water treatment plants behind ADP ‘s approval of #8 created growing distrust of Morgan’s ability to keep commitments and promises.

By 3:30 pm on Thursday, a minimal group of ADP board members dropped everything to arrange an emergency meeting. Absent after his obvious lack of any understanding of internal data security at Tuesday’s ADP meeting was Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri, whose full-time employment as Chief Deputy in service of Portage County voters kept him from being able to serve his own Geauga County constituents.

Commissioner Jim Dvorak noted that at Tuesday’s public meeting, wherein Water Resources network employee Mike Kurzinger had been placed on immediate paid administrative leave until further notice after being subject to FBI and U.S. Secret Service search and seizure of data. Joe Camino, a Mentor vendor with possible conflicts of interest, like Kurzinger, was also denied any access to the County’s data systems. In the absence of a formal motion or an individual oral vote, Commissioners appeared content to rely on Administrator Gerry Morgan’s oral assurance of “looking into the formal policy” to enforce the denied access of either party to Water Resources’ internal data.

By Thursday’s emergency meeting involving Auditor Walder, Prosecutor Flaiz, Commissioner Dvorak, and a series of technical experts, there was overwhelming consensus that there had an illegal episode of illegal file sharing of Water Resources internal data by someone with permission to operate a generic computer using knowledge of Remote Desktop Protocol [RDP] to change passwords, alter accessibility of fellow Water Resources employees to their own email or stored data, or to cause unspecified future threats to Geauga County, through stupidity or malicious intention.

The consensus was that Geauga County voters were close to open revolt as a result of elected and appointed leaders who have failed to honor their duties and promises and/or have been too lazy to protect the electorate.

One of the biggest concerns was the ability of anyone, including a disgruntled or terminated employee with RDP expertise to access the McFarland sanitary water treatment pumps and/or valves to prevent proper sewage removal or to prevent or alter the ability of Water Resources to accept bill payment or for county employees to receive their paychecks on a timely basis.

Research into Remote Desktop Protocol, originally a Microsoft initiative, indicates the possibility of a disgruntled employee to damage the server by deleting critical files and/or system configurations, installing malware, or disrupting network connectivity, Multi-factor authentication and regular audits of access logs to detect any suspicious activity.

ADP adjourned with the commitment to send a formal letter to County Administrator Gerry Morgan, Water Resources Director, and one or more Sanitary Engineers. We have requested a copy of that letter regarding official policy to be afforded those whose credentials have been revoked during paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a federal investigation.

We requested a copy of a public letter outlining a point-by-point chronology. As of time of publication we have not received that letter.

More information can be found at The Geauga Mapleleaf in this story by Amy Patterson ADP Board Acts After New IT Incident at Water Resources


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Adam Litke, the “voice” of Geauga Public Health, is also known as its Director; he has indicated in public that he will be a major operative for Public Health when officially it is operated in Mentor, Lake County, as a joint venture between Lake County Commissioners and Geauga County Commissioners, raising concerns among many observers that Geauga County has chosen to abandon the financial obligations of a completely local health operative. Mr. Litke has acknowledged his own expectation that he will no longer have office space in the new Office Building after June 21.

As a frequent attendee of the Commissioners’ public meetings, he landed a brief bombshell when asked for his comment at the May 9 meeting. His stunning comment was a summary of an outside audit conducted by McDonald Hopkins, LLC, Special Investigator, Bryan Kostura, in a formal letter charging Adam Litke and the Geauga County Board of Health, Suite 300, 12611 Ravenwood Drive to examine “financial records, inspections forms, l forms, various electronic databases and public records of GPH” with regard to HB 110 (now known as 116) and sanitary disposal system regulations between 2010-2020.

In fewer than 3 minutes, Litke reported the written audit results presented at the previous public health board meeting: Geauga Public Health owes those private individuals and small business owners who contracted with the agency over 10 years ago for septic inspections about $750,000. Given the 10% + rate of inflation, the value of those fees may now exceed $800,000. He announced GPH’s commitment to return fees for all neglected, ignored, forgotten, or otherwise advance fees for which GPH never completed its inspections.


Further, he noted that all final details would be publicly available at Geauga Public Health’s Facebook Page by the end of day. Personally checking out that lead an hour ago, this writer discovered the latest entry for Wednesday, May 11, 2023, with the publication of the McDonald Hopkins multi-page report and its findings on pages 4 and 5: GPH kept $757,912.00 of $791,084.00 charged. The indication is implication is that GPH is charged with the return of that $757,912.00 not accounting for inflationary impacts.

Commissioner Lennon can be heard indicating the address where GPH can send him his refund as a small business owner. Each reader is the final judge of Commissioner Lennon’s expression of sarcasm or comic relief to vent about the obvious deficiencies of another governmental entity. When Lennon’s tongue-in-cheek was greeted by the laughter of everyone else in the room, he expressed obvious self- comfort with his talent in eliminating political adversity.

After artfully receiving Lennon’s praise for being a problem-solver, Litke announced the next GPH public meeting as 5 pm, May 24, 2023, in Room 301 of the new Administration Building, Board President, Carolyn Brakey’s April 27, public comments, as revealed on GPH’s Facebook page, note that the GPH audit deficiencies represent an unacceptable “breach of trust “ against Geauga residents.

What Attorney Brakey did not comment for the public to analyze is whether GPH’s inclusion as a Lake County governmental entity and Geauga County’s actual or implied relinquishment of control/authority will ensure Brakey’s own order “ to ensure that this [breach of trust] will never happen again.”

When was the last time that Geauga County voters heard such a promise? Of course, this is a breaking story. . .

As always, fellow voters, stay tuned...


Thursday, May 11, 2023
By Katabella Roberts | Epoch Times

Millions of working-age Americans aged between 56 and 64 are edging closer to retirement without having savings stashed away.

Census data for 2020 shows that less than 60 percent (approximately 58.1 percent) of American “baby boomers”—generally defined as those born between 1946 to 1964—owned a retirement account three years ago, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic upended jobs and the global economy.

That means over two-fifths of baby boomers nearing retirement had no retirement savings stored in financial institutions.

The U.S. Census Bureau defined retirement accounts as 401(k), 403(b), 503(b), Thrift Savings Plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), Keogh accounts, and defined-benefit and cash balance plans.

The Census data also revealed that just 56.1 percent of “Generation X” members, or those aged between 40 and 55 had a retirement account in 2020, while roughly half of “millennials” ages 24 to 39 had one.

Meanwhile, just 7.7 percent of Americans who fall under the “Generation Z” category, meaning those aged 15 to 23, owned retirement accounts in 2020. However, given their ages, they also have more time to accumulate additional retirement savings.

A separate report (pdf) from the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found a similar trend, noting that baby boomers have been “susceptible to employment risks, volatility in the financial markets, and increasing inflation—all of which could disrupt their retirement plans” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


That report is based on an online survey conducted between October 28 and December 10, 2021, among a nationally representative sample of 5,493 workers aged 18 or over in a for-profit company employing one or more employees.

It found that just 23 percent of Baby Boomers feel “very confident” that they can fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle, while 48 percent are “somewhat confident.” Approximately 16 percent are “not too confident,” and 14 percent are “not at all confident” that they will be able to enjoy what they consider to be a comfortable lifestyle after retiring from the workforce.

Just 22 percent said they believe they are currently building a “large enough retirement nest egg,” while 34 percent said they “somewhat disagree” or “strongly disagree” that this is the case.

Overall the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 85 percent of Baby Boomers expect Social Security income to be one of their sources of income after they retire, while 78 percent plan to use self-funded savings.

When it comes to their primary source of income in retirement, though, approximately 40 percent cited Social Security, the report found.

The average monthly Social Security check to a retired worker in February 2023 was about $1,782, or about $21,384 annually, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

However, statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that an American household headed by someone aged 65 and up spent an average of $48,791 per year, or $4,065.95 per month, between 2016 and 2020.


Meanwhile, households headed by someone between the ages of 65 and 74 spent $53,916 annually during that same time period, while spending declined to $41,637 annually for people aged 75 and older.

Those nearing retirement, aged between 55 to 64, spent $65,392 annually between 2016 and 2020, the data shows, far more than the $21,384 they are set to receive annually in Social Security.

Amid inflation, the cost of living has soared, meaning the typical American household spent $5,111 per month, on average, in 2021, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey from BLS.

As of 2023, that figure stands at $5,577 for an average household or $66,928 per year, BLS data shows.

“With Social Security, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Dave Goodsell, executive director at the Natixis Center for Investor Insight, told CBS News.

“What people need to do, the bottom line is take a minute to step back and say, ‘What do I need to retire, what will my income be,’ and then start saving,” he added.

The latest data comes as the OASI Trust Fund, which pays monthly benefits to retired workers and their spouses and to survivors of deceased insured workers, is “projected to become depleted in 2033, one year sooner than last year’s estimate, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time.”

That would mean huge cuts in benefits to the 67 million retired Americans who receive Social Security checks every month.

In response to the current volatile economic environment, data shows that more baby boomers expect to work past the age of 70 or do not plan to retire at all.


Wednesday, May 10, 2023
By Jack Phillips

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released a video on Tuesday afternoon saying he will bring a new show to Twitter.

“Starting soon, we’ll be bringing a new version of the show to Twitter,” Carlson said in his first remarks about his future post-Fox plans. It’s “the show we’ve been doing for the last six and a half years” but will come to Twitter, he added.

“We bring some other things, too, which we’ll tell you about. But for now, we’re just grateful to be here. Free speech is the main right that you have. Without it, you have no others,” Carlson said.

Carlson also praised Twitter, which was bought by Tesla owner Elon Musk late last year, for being one of the few “platforms left that allow free speech.” He noted that in the U.S. media business, there are rules governing “what you can’t say,” which he said undermines the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

“Speech is the fundamental pre-requisite for democracy. That’s why it was enshrined in the first of our Constitutional amendments,” he added. “Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining … is Twitter, where we are now.”

Because of “limits” that are imposed on media figures and journalists, if one bumps “against those limits often enough you will be fired for it,” saying, “That’s not a guess, that’s guaranteed.”

In the video, he did not elaborate on how long the show will be, when it will start, or if he came to an agreement with Musk. There were unconfirmed reports this week claiming that Carlson spoke with Musk about a possible program on the social media network.

Carlson’s video has since racked up millions of thousands of views and impressions a few minutes after it was posted. A previous video that Carlson released on his account days after he left Fox generated nearly 100 million impressions.

“On this platform, unlike the one-way street of broadcast, people are able to interact, critique and refute whatever is said. And, of course, anything misleading will get @CommunityNotes . I also want to be clear that we have not signed a deal of any kind whatsoever,” Musk wrote.

“Tucker is subject to the same rules & rewards of all content creators. Rewards means subscriptions and advertising revenue share (coming soon), which is a function of how many people subscribe and the advertising views associated with the content. I hope that many others, particularly from the left, also choose to be content creators on this platform.”

The former Fox News host did not say anything about his former network, coming just over two weeks after the company released a statement saying it parted ways with him. Few details about his departure have been given so far, although there has been rampant speculation on why he left.

Bolstered by former Fox host Megyn Kelly’s allegations, there have been rumors that Carlson is looking to take action against his former network amid claims that he is still under contract until early 2025. A lawyer for Carlson, Bryan Freedman, responded to those reports by saying that the “idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.”

“I don’t know what drove Fox News to make this decision. And it was clearly Fox News’ decision because they’re not letting him say goodbye,” Kelly said last month on her podcast. “That’s my supposition. That’s not inside knowledge … talk about misjudging your audience yet again.”

A potential public battle between Carlson and Fox News would shake up the broadcasting world even more, coming just two years after the network’s viewership temporarily dropped after it called the 2020 presidential election contest in Arizona for Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump. The former president, in the meantime, has repeatedly criticized Fox and claimed it is veering to the left.

If Carlson publicly criticizes Fox, it could pare down the channel’s viewership even further. Since his departure, Fox News’ primetime ratings have seen a sharp decline across the board, sparking questions from analysts about whether it will be able to recover.


The video comes just hours after Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch told investors on a conference call that the network has no plans to change its programming strategy, responding to a question about Carlson.

Fox News has “obviously a successful strategy,” he said, suggesting that Carlson’s exit was merely a tweaking of its strategy and wouldn’t represent a major change of plans. “As always, we are adjusting our programming and lineup and that is what we continue to do,” Murdoch said, according to multiple news reports.

Since leaving, Fox News’ primetime ratings have dropped significantly. A replacement show, “Fox News Tonight,” too, has seen a sharp decline in ratings.

Viewership figures for the night of May 5 show that “Fox News Tonight” attracted only 90,000 people in the 25–54 demographic coveted by advertisers, while MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” attracted 145,000. In comparison, Carlson’s final show on April 21 obtained more than 270,000 in the 25–54 demographic and drew about 2.6 million overall viewers.

Across all of March 2023, Carlson averaged well more than 3 million viewers per show, in part buoyed by his coverage of new footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Morning host Brian Kilmeade was the first to take over Carlson’s timeslot on “Fox News Tonight,” followed by Lawrence Jones. Kayleigh McEnany, a former Trump White House press secretary, is hosting the show this week.

A Fox News spokesperson told news outlets Tuesday that the cable news network “continues as the highest-rated cable news network in primetime and total day. The network also continues to be the most-watched cable news channel at 8 p.m. ET with Fox News Tonight.”


Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

Instead of U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehending, detaining and deporting people who’ve illegally entered the U.S., they will be implementing a plan decided on last year to release them en masse into local border communities.

The public health authority Title 42, which has given Border Patrol agents an additional tool to deport certain individuals, was slated to end last May. On May 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana enjoined the repeal of Title 42 in a case filed by 24 states, issuing a nationwide injunction.

The federal court order was the only thing that stopped CBP from enacting its policy of releasing foreign nationals en masse into local border communities. The federal injunction imposed last May halted the administration from ending Title 42.

After President Joe Biden ended the national public emergency implemented under the Trump administration to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Title 42, which can only be utilized during a public health emergency, will expire Thursday (May 11).

While Fox News reported on Tuesday that CBP and Border Patrol made a decision Monday night to “authorize all Border Patrol sectors to begin ‘safe’ street releases of migrants to communities across the border *if* NGO shelters and CBP facilities do not have the capacity to hold them,” this isn’t a new plan.

It’s been a plan in place for over a year, which The Center Square first reported on last September. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody uncovered the plan as part of discovery in a lawsuit Florida filed against the administration over its “catch and release” policy.

Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez also told local Texas law enforcement last December she was working with local municipalities to learn where foreign nationals should be released into their communities when shelters, NGOs and nonprofits assisting them were at capacity. A recording of her remarks was provided to The Center Square, which broke this story ahead of her giving testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability in February.

In a May 19, 2022, memo, Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz instructed Border Patrol agents to release “processed noncitizens in the vicinity of nongovernmental organizations” and coordinate with NGOs in advance as to the specific locations where they’d be released, “paying particular attention to the availability of services and transportation options.”

“If safe locations are not available” to release illegal foreign nationals, instead of processing them for removal, Ortiz said agents would “engage with nearby cities and local governments to identify alternate safe locations for release.”

Foreign nationals were also instructed to be released into the U.S. in a “safe, humane and orderly manner,” not “late at night in an unpopulated area or in circumstances in which the individual would face a known safety risk.”

On Dec. 20, 2022, Chavez told local law enforcement that she was coordinating with local mayors and NGOs to move people into the U.S., saying the NGOs “are phenomenal.” She was learning of “particular areas they [mayors, local officials] want us to drop them off at.”

Many Texas border counties first issued declarations of disaster in early 2021 after their communities were inundated with people committing crimes and burdening local taxpayers with services they didn’t have the resources to provide – including thousands infected with COVID-19 who were released into local communities even while Title 42 was in place.

By July 5, 2022, the first county judge and later judges and commissioners of over 40 Texas counties declared an invasion, arguing Mexican cartels are bringing in drugs, terrorists and criminals through the southern border using “migrant warfare” and “nonconventional warfare” to do it. The amount of fentanyl being seized by law enforcement in single vehicles over 100 miles from the border in Texas, Arizona and California is enough to kill entire populations of small cities and towns. The amount of fentanyl Texas Operation Lone Star officers have seized since March 2021 is enough to kill everyone in the United States.

More counties are likely to issue disaster and invasion declarations as the Biden administration continues to facilitate “legal pathways” for people from all over the world to illegally enter the United States. An estimated 13,000 are expected to arrive a day when Title 42 ends, officials have estimated, or roughly 4.6 million within a year.


Wednesday, May 3, 2023
By Adam Ferrise | cleveland.com

CHARDON, Ohio — Investigators for the Geauga County prosecutor’s office and federal agents on Wednesday raided the county’s Department of Water Resources, taking hard drives from department computers, officials said.

Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, sheriff’s deputies and Russell Township police conducted several raids in the area, including at the water resources department on Ravenwood Drive.

Flaiz said the investigation centers around “individuals having an unlawful interest in a public contract.” He declined further comment.

Water Resources Department director Steve Oluic said investigators interrupted a meeting at the office early Wednesday and took one employee to a different building for questioning.

Later, investigators returned with a search warrant and seized some hard drives from department computers. He said investigators told him that they are investigating old contracts, but didn’t elaborate.

“I wish I could tell you more,” Oluic said.

Water Resources is the sewer and water department for the county, and services 6,200 water and sewer accounts. Its budget is about $7 million, according to its website.

Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri said he was aware of the raid, but was unsure what prompted it.

A Secret Service supervisor at the Cleveland Field Office said their agency doesn’t publicly comment on cases.

Recently, the water resources department has clashed with the Geauga County auditor’s office about the water department having its own IT administrator, instead of coming under the county’s automated data processing system.

Adam Ferrise covers federal courts at cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

By Marty Schladen | Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio’s retired teachers might have gotten only one 3% cost-of-living increase since 2017, but the staff that’s managing their pension funds is requesting a 31% increase in its already big annual bonuses.

The same staff last year was awarded $10 million in bonuses and then reported $5.3 billion in losses — 77% higher than the employees receiving bonuses estimated.

The bonus request, made at the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System’s April board meeting, has further enraged a group that represents some of the state’s retired teachers.

“STRS leadership has always put their interests ahead of teachers,” Robin Rayfield, executive director of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association, said in a statement. “After a public outcry over $10 million in contrived bonuses after losing $5 billion dollars last year, it’s shameful to ask for a 30% increase in bonuses when STRS has done nothing to provide relief to active and retired teachers.”

Some retired teachers have been critical of a retirement system that has been so stingy increasing benefits while paying big salaries to a staff of nearly 500 employees at the retirement system. More than half made more than $100,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30. Of them, 86 made more than $200,000, 51 made more than $300,000, 21 made more than $400,000, and 15 made more than a half-million.

A spokesman for the system has said that growing numbers of retirees and legislative changes from 2012 have made it difficult for the system to adjust benefits upward to enable retirees to cope with inflation. But retirees have said that the system’s well-paid staff is guilty of mismanaging funds.

Instead of “passive” investing — making and holding investments indexed to, say, the S&P 500 — STRS has a substantial portion of the nearly $90 billion it manages in “alternative” investments. The large staff and outside consultants conduct frequent high-fee transactions in things such as private equity funds and real estate that critics say can be hard to value.

But even if you accept those values, those investments performed three percentage points worse than the system’s traditional investments over the previous decade, a spokesman said last summer. And since 2009, 2022 was the only year that STRS’s alternative investments outperformed its traditional investments.

However, STRS in a statement said that it’s important to reward performance, and “our investment returns exceeded the State Teachers Retirement Board-approved benchmark, net of costs and expenses, and again outperformed the market and preserved around $1.8 billion of teachers’ funds.”

It added, “Performance-based incentives (PBI) are only awarded to eligible associates in the investment department. No associates outside of the investment department, including senior management, receive a PBI. STRS Ohio’s investment benchmarks, the PBI policy and the PBI payouts are approved by the Retirement Board.”


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Geauga County voters, accustomed to Mother Nature’s slush attacks as late as mid-May, mostly demonstrated their willingness to express their frustration with uncontrolled inflation.

Although the five-year additional Thompson 2.5 mill Fire and EMS levy literally squeaked through with exactly 1 vote [101-100], the additional 4.75 mill Bainbridge Township EMS permanent issue provoked an overwhelming defeat of 1755-338.

Chardon Township’s additional 2.75 mill Road and Bridge levy attracted 394 votes, but township trustees got the message : 223-171 defeat. Ironically, 2 Chardon Township voters braved Mother Nature’s last stand (!) to approve Kirtland Local School District’s 10-year 3.74 mill Emergency request are celebrating with the rest of the Lake County School District.

In the meantime, those voters in the Kenston School District, need to stay informed about the District’s presentation of a hefty tax issue on the Geauga County November ballot. This is a breaking story . . .


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

In a publicly-accessible Budget Commission meeting, Vice Chairman Jim Flaiz shared Attorney General Dave Yost’s Opinion 2022-017 (pdf), dated December 14, 2022. As a result of an on-going evaluation of Yost’s four Conclusions as well as a follow-up identifying Geauga County Public Health Board’s apparent misrepresentation its own 2024 Fiscal Budget, the Budget Commission has sent out two formal communications urging “remediation for past, current, and future collections” and “local government officials’ statutory compliance” to ensure “transparency and [financial] accountability” to Geauga County voters.

As voters may remember, Geauga Park District, as an acknowledged 1545 Park District, encountered several difficulties during its 2022 budget hearing. As per Attorney General Yost’s 13-page ruling, GPD’s most blatant shortcomings are the inability to commit ANY reserve fund [unspent carryover/accumulated funds from the previous year] as well as the inability to RENEW a tax levy, an organizational right afforded to taxing units under ORC 5705.

The second written documentation (pdf) deals with miscommunications regarding the legal approval of the Geauga Public Health 2024 Budget before the actual approval date of April 26, 2023, in apparent disregard or misunderstanding of O.R.C. 3709.28 and 5705.38 - 5705.40.

2024 Budget Hearings with both the Geauga Park District and the Geauga Public Health District are slated to begin this summer.


Sunday, April 30, 2023
Tom Ozimek

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is hiring armed tax agents nationwide to bolster the ranks of its criminal investigations division as the Biden administration seeks to beef up enforcement of tax laws with $80 billion in new funding.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel confirmed during a Thursday hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee that the IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) unit plans to hire additional staff who are authorized to carry guns.

Werfel was responding to a question from Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) about whether an estimated 360 new armed agents would be hired per year over the next five years for a net gain of 1,200 after attrition due to resignation and retirement.

The IRS replied that Smith’s estimate sounds “about right,” though he added that they would not be used to increase the number of tax audits.

“Our CI division or Criminal Investigation Division, they do not conduct audits,” Werfel said. “What they do is, they are investigating acute issues of fraud and tax evasion. And typically, they’re armed when they’re putting themselves in danger.”

The IRS-CI examines potential criminal activity related to tax crimes and makes recommendations for prosecution to the tax division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).


Dubbed “gun-toters,” the armed special agents in the IRS-CI unit are responsible for enforcing those parts of the tax code whose violations amount to crimes, former IRS Special Agent Robert Nordlander told Accounting Today in a wide-ranging interview in February.

“When crimes are committed, the IRS-CI are the ones that actually enforce” the law, Nordlander said.

There are now around 2,100 agents in the criminal investigations division, Carissa Cutrell, a public affairs officer at IRS-CI, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“As the only agency with the authority to investigate tax crimes, and the only agency that spends 100 percent of its time investigating financial crimes, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) ensures its limited resources are allocated to the most egregious financial crime cases,” she explained.

“IRS-CI’s mission includes not only investigating criminals for crimes they’ve committed but also deterring potential criminals from committing future crimes,” Cutrell added.

In the mid-1990s, the unit had around 3,500 special agents, and Cutrell said they lose between 150 and 175 agents each year due to retirement and attrition.

She said the unit plans to hire around 350 agents this fiscal year for a net gain of between 150 and 175, numbers that are roughly in line with the estimate Werfel confirmed during the hearing.

According to a job posting on USAJOBS.gov, IRS-CI is looking to fill 360 vacancies for new full-time criminal investigation special agents spread across all 50 states.

A job posting on the IRS Careers website for criminal investigation special agents says they will be authorized to carry a firearm and must be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments.”

“As a Special Agent you will combine your accounting skills with law enforcement skills to investigate financial crimes. Special Agents are duly sworn law enforcement officers trained to ‘follow the money,’” the posting reads.

Salaries range from $52,921 to $94,228 per year, though IRS-CI special agent positions are unique in that they offer special pay incentives not offered with other IRS positions.

Criminal investigations special agents are eligible for a Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) adjustment, which gives a 25 percent increase over the standard Office of Personnel Management (OPM) pay scale.

This is a special added benefit for federal law enforcement professionals and considers the fact that you may be working long and irregular hours and may be called upon to respond on a moment’s notice as needed,” IRS-CI said in a note explaining that such agents are expected to work an average of 50 hours per week.

Some have questioned why IRS agents would need to carry firearms at all. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, for example, on Aug. 4, 2022, led a segment on his show by expressing concern that the government is “treating the IRS as a military agency” and is “stockpiling” ammunition.

The IRS-CI says agents might need to respond to “life-threatening situations” on the job, be willing and able to participate in “dangerous assignments” and protect themselves and others from physical attacks, and be willing to use “deadly force.”


A strategic operating plan released on April 6 indicates how the IRS plans to use the $80 billion in new funding provided by the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

The plan shows the new cash infusion will be used to hire thousands of new employees, improve tax enforcement and customer service, and audit wealthy taxpayers and corporations.

The IRS employed 80,006 full-time staffers as of the 2022 budget year, per the plan.

The agency intends to hire nearly 20,000 new full-time employees during the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years, including 8,782 hires in enforcement and 13,883 in taxpayer service.

Assuming no attrition owing to resignation and retirement, that would put the IRS’s total workforce by 2024 at roughly 100,000 employees.

Republicans have warned that the IRS’s $80 billion cash infusion would be used to hire an “army of 87,000” tax enforcers.

The 87,000 figure comes from a 2021 Treasury Department report (pdf) that estimated that the IRS could hire 86,852 full-time employees over a decade if it received an $80 billion funding boost.


Friday, April 28, 2023

We urge all registered voters to pay special attention to local levies asking voters to approve by simple majority ( 50% +1 of total votes cast for specific ballot issue when polls close at 7:30 pm) four levies and one approval for Sunday alcohol sales (ballot approval presented to Chester Township Precinct F only).

In one case, registered Bainbridge voters will decide a “continuing” [ie., permanent] 4.75 mill EMA/Ambulance issue to collect $3,095,674 annually for the rest of recorded time to furnish EMA/rescue/ ambulance service, beginning with first payment due in February 2024.

Thompson Township, although requesting simple majority approval (50%+1 vote) for EMA equipment and personnel, is requesting a 5-year 2.5 mill levy to collect $157,722 annually, subject to the need for voter approval again in 2028.

Chardon Township Precinct D voters served by Kirtland Local School District are being asked to approve by simple majority a 10-year 3.74 mill levy to meet “emergency requirements” identified by the school system. First collection for property taxes will take place in February 2024.

Precinct wide, Chardon Township is asking for an approval of 50% + 1 vote for passage of a 2.75 mill Road and Bridge improvement levy for five years, with first collection in real-estate taxes in calendar year 2024.

Because voter turnout at primary special elections (first Tuesday in May) usually is light, we urge all registered voters from the targeted communities to participate in the voting process or lose the right to determine the outcome of the special ballot(s).

Lake County voters face 18 issues on May 2. Follow this link for details and financial impact on Lake County property owners.


Saturday, April 22, 2023
By Bruce Japsen | Forbes.com

Rite Aid reported a quarterly loss of more than $241 million as the struggling drugstore chain suffers from a loss of revenue from store closures on top of the loss of COVID-19 vaccine and testing sales.

Rite Aid, which closed 145 unprofitable stores in the last year or so, on Thursday reported a fiscal fourth quarter loss of $241.3 million, or $4.39 per share, for the period ended March 4, 2023. The losses were greater than some Wall Street analysts expected.

Meanwhile, the drugstore chain said revenues for the quarter were $6.09 billion compared to $6.07 billion in the year-ago period, “largely due to an extra week in the fourth quarter and increases in both comparable front-end sales and non-COVID prescriptions, partially offset by a reduction in revenue from COVID vaccines and testing, store closures and the loss of commercial clients at Elixir,” which is the pharmacy benefit management company Rite Aid owns.

Rite Aid, which has struggled in recent years to compete with larger rivals Walgreens, CVS Health and Walmart pharmacies, reported a net loss for the fiscal year ended March 4, 2023, of $749.9 million, or $13.71 per share, which compared to the previous year’s net loss of $538.5 million, or $9.96 per share. Rite Aid has more than 2,300 drugstores across 17 states

And there’s not much improvement forecast for the new fiscal year, according to Rite Aid’s fiscal 2024 guidance unveiled Thursday, which said a “net loss is expected to be between $439 million and $466 million.”

Still, Rite Aid interim chief executive Elizabeth “Busy” Burr, who replaced Heyward Donigan in January said the company was “making progress.”

Our fourth quarter results were at the higher end of our guidance and above consensus, driven by encouraging results in retail pharmacy and year over year improvement for the quarter at Elixir,” Burr said in a statement accompanying earnings. “We are making progress in our turnaround program to drive performance acceleration that we expect will help mitigate fiscal 2024 challenges related to reimbursement, COVID headwinds and enrollment at Elixir, and to drive meaningful Adjusted EBITDA growth in fiscal 2025 and 2026.


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

A video-recording of the special 1 pm ADP meeting on April 17 demonstrates the the cyber vulnerability of the Geauga Department of Water Resources resulting from use of outdated and unsupported IT. Although ADP services were able on Monday to assure county members that GIS accounts and Water Resources employee mailboxes to send and receive email were on track to be restored by Monday evening, ADP members adjourned at approximately 2:30 pm. Three ADP technicians confirmed that there was documentation of contact with at least one unmanned server and a Russian network. Fortunately, the CloudStrike that had forced automatic shutdown and data loss did not, according to Prosecutor Flaiz, prevent Water Resources employees from reporting the server shut-down allegations as a malicious fabrication brought by ADP staff.

Serving to complicate the loss of Water Resources email and e-data, those ADP members and employees sharing information attested that Water Resources personnel/webmasters avoided any sharing of electronic e-mail addresses. Although, eventually ADP technicians were able to gain the information from a master list of Geauga County department employees working for/at Water Resources, evidence implied that Water Resources personnel demonstrated negligence by ignoring proper backup procedures.

In the course of restoring electronic data to Water Resources servers, ADP IT technicians reported the Water Resources obsolete firewall lacked all secure features. The replacement firewall had never been installed, although it is possible to still use the equipment to troubleshoot and upgrade Water Resources servers.

Prosecutor Flaiz recalled the last time when an upgrade/modification of passwords resulted in the apparent shut down of the McFarland Wastewater Plant and stated concerns by the Water Resources Director for massive waste-removal by hired trucks to compensate for electronic switch failure.

Based on the reports of ADP technicians that password change had not resulted in Water Resources plant shutdown, there were repeated warnings that ADP must be prepared for the worst-case scenario at McFarland (plant shut down).

After a review of 2022 ADP Board policy regarding password security, there was agreement to dismantle the defective firewall at Water Resources (470 Center Street) and the upgrade all passwords to a 25-characters with multiple means of authentication. Some network accounts at Water Resources are less than ten characters and easily accessed, according to ADP reports to the commission.

By adjournment at 2:40 pm. Jim Flaiz had elicited a positive response from Gerry Morgan, current appointed County Administrator and still responsible, by his own testimony, for the operation of Water Resources in spite of the current Commissioners’ appointing Dr. Steven Ohluic to that position approximately three years ago.

At the time of adjournment, ADP members acknowledged the need to dismantle Operational Technology [OT], that is, the Wonder Ware Server to McFarland. Additionally, Prosecutor Flaiz reiterated Water Resources clearly came under the authority of ADP. Should Water Resources continue to operate outside ADP Board approved policies (Password regulations), then Water Resources is operating outside legal limits and, as such, subject to legal outcomes.


Published Thursday, April 13, 2023

Geauga County Auditor/ADP Secretary Charles Walder, authorized an emergency noon meeting of the ADP to deal with the latest conflict resulting from the Department of Water Resource’s use of the “endpoint Cybersecurity product” installed on all five Department of Water Resources data servers As noted on DarkReading.com , “[Cyber] attacks have escalated over the past two weeks, prompting responses from US government and the security community.” The vulnerabilities which emerged on March 2, have raised concerns about the responsibility of Hafnium, a Chinese mainland state-sponsored data hacking organization.

According to the confounder of CrowdStrike / CrowdStrike Falcon, the cyber attacks have been used “to dump credentials, add user accounts, steal copies of Active Directory databases, and move laterally to other systems.” During predawn operations, at least one Water Resources data server utilizing Microsoft Exchange Server, which no longer receives security updates.

Although “risk-based patching is critical, the key is knowing which flaws are high risk and being able to prioritize them “with a patch management program”. The “nefarious script and command-line activity on a critical water resource server” utilizing end-of-life CrowdStrike Falcon technology, during the early morning operation of April 23, resulted in the shutdown of at least one of the five Water Resources outdated servers. The April 12 press release from ADP highlighted the fact that “Water Resources did not properly patch the ISP switch.

Although the cyber attack compromised Water Resources electronic data and email, the shutdown, according to information discussed from noon-1 pm on Thursday, April 13, without damaging other county departments served by the ADP Commission. The major concern is that the compromised Water Resources server operated independently of ADP.

The emergency meeting of ADP brought comments from its director, Dr. Steven Oehlic, who indicated that “ADP did not respond to Water Resources’ request for remediation.. “You guys were busy. . .”

The first question to Dr. Oehlic was “Why haven’t you gone to Microsoft 365?” When Oehlic responded that “the gag order that everyone signed [during mediation/dismissal of 22M000541, initiated by Geauga County Commissioners as plaintiffs against the ADP Commission] deterred Oehlic and/or Water Resources staff from discussing the April 12 cyber attack.

Noted Walder, “What does the gag order have to do with the cyber violation?”

Commissioner Tim Lennon, in what sounded like an attempt at reconciliation between two departments whose conflicts date back to late August 2022, advised Water Resources’ “starting the process of migrating to Microsoft 365” and then indicated that he was already experiencing Phishing attacks on his brand new Microsoft 365 email system.

By about 12:20 pm, an ADP staff member indicated that on February 22, 2023, Geauga County Administrator, the liaison for the Commissioners, instructed Water Resources Director Steve Oehlic and staff member Mike Kurzinger not to migrate the department to Microsoft 365. On April 13, 2023, Gerry Morgan has given the “go ahead” for Water Resources to migrate to 365.

Although Walder determined that ADP will recover the lost email on the outdated server at Water Resources, he expressed concern about incurring additional expense incurred after initiating diagnostics from Dragos during the last conflict involving Water Resource’s need to be ready to transport solid waste off-site with hired trucks about September 2022. Walder noted with great disappointment the failure of the current Geauga Commissioners to pay further expenses from Dragos incurred as part of a diagnostic initiative to resolve data failure then claimed/incurred by Water Resources.

By 12:43 Prosecutor Flaiz reminded Gerry Morgan that he had lied to ADP, of which officially he was not a current member. At 12:53 Flaiz continued : It’s your [Water Resources] fault, and I don’t have any sympathy for you.”

Immediately thereafter, Commissioner Lennon inquired, “If the [Water Resources] server is down, can you connect to Cloud Strike with a patch?”

At 12:48, Walder’s response: “It is irresponsible for waste water services to be using outdated services. . .’

At 1 pm, in an apparent move as peacemaker, Lennon interjected his advice “to work together to avoid pointing fingers. . .” Under current litigation expenses (see warrants 1122444, 1133913, 1130113, 1131789, 1127927, 1125438, and 1131789 in re Roetzel and Andress), the belated moves at peace-keeping and amelioration seem to be the latest example of acting first and thinking later.

Apparently recognizing the seriousness of the lost server files, the Water Resources individual asked, “How do we get our files back?”

At approximately 1:05, Chuck Walder appeared to have the last word(s) on the matter. “The fact that you (Water Resources), were just one step away from disaster scares me to death. I don’t want ANY outdated equipment.”


Wednesday, April 12, 2023
By Sabrina Ortiz | Associate Editor

China has released a new draft regulation that it says is necessary to ensure the safe development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as Chat GPT.

While it supports the innovative use of AI algorithms to improve user experience and access to information, the growth of such applications can lead to abuse. Emphasis should be placed on such tools and data resources to be used safely and reliably, said the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

Regulations were needed to drive a healthy and sustainable development of generative AI algorithms, said the government agency, as it published the draft laws on its website.

Under the proposed rules. operators will be required to send their applications to regulators for "safety reviews" before offering the services to the public, according to a report by state-owned media Global Times. They also are not to use AI algorithms and data to engage in unfair competition.

The CAC's draft laws further establish guidelines to which generative Ai services must adhere, such as the types of content such applications can generate. These will ensure the accuracy of information and prevent the spread of false information, the regulator said.

The draft laws are open for public feedback until May 10.

The move comes a day after the US government said it was seeking public input on AI accountability. The US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said the feedback would guide policies that support AI audits, risk and safety assessments, certifications, and tools to establish trust in AI systems.

"Responsible AI systems could bring enormous benefits, but only if we address their potential consequences and harms. For these systems to reach their full potential, companies and consumers need to be able to trust them," said NTIA's administrator Alan Davidson.

Submissions for feedback to the NTIA will close on June 10.

Efforts from China and the US to gain some control come as interest in generative AI applications, such as ChatGPT, continues to grow. Key players from both markets including the likes of Tencent, Alibaba, Google, and Microsoft are offering or integrating the AI model into their products.

Alibaba Cloud just yesterday unveiled its large language AI platform, called Tongyi Qianwen, which currently is available to customers in China for beta testing and as an API to developers. The AI model also will be integrated with Alibaba's enterprise applications and tapped to power its products and services, including its online collaboration workplace platform DingTalk as well as smart voice assistant, Tmall Genie.


April 12, 2023
By Electronic Payments Coalition

The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) applauds the National Parks Service (NPS) at Devils Tower National Monument for its decision to solely accept electronic payments for park entry. The NPS—like so many other cost-savvy organizations—recognized that cash transactions placed a heavy burden on their park staff. In their announcement, NPS cited reduced administrative costs, increased park revenue, and greater payment security as reasons for their transition to cashless fee collection.

Additionally, the NPS stated that transitioning to electronic payments would improve the safety and security of the park’s payment operations. Holding large quantities of physical currency creates unnecessary risk and opportunities for wrongdoing.


Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Joshua Phili

A slew of nations recently announced they will begin moving away from the U.S. dollar when trading key products, and some are openly promoting a new movement to ditch the dollar for the Chinese yuan. The new movement in “de-dollarization” could deeply impact America’s role as the world leader, and damage its ability to sanction countries that violate basic standards on human rights.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is launching a new program called FedNow, which is slated as a first step toward a centralized banking digital currency (CBDC) for the United States. The use of digital currencies is being promoted as a way to stop crimes like money laundering, but it’s also deeply criticized as a direct threat to financial freedom. Digital currencies would represent a new type of money where every payment is tracked.


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

After plowing through 11 items, including a $40,000 contract with Western Reserve Lightning Rod Company (Agenda Item 6), the Maintenance Department’s request to install a “Lightning Protection system for the Geauga County Office Building” for a one-year- period at a price of $40,000 , the Commissioners seemed to be feeling pretty bullish . The contract was awarded to Western Reserve Lightning Rod Company. Our conclusion is that the price did not meet the threshold to require a bid process. Although the expenditure was approved, Commissioners Lennon and Dvorak were able to communicate an underlying but growing distrust for the original building plans presented to them regarding the Geauga County Office Building aka the Administration Building. This latest $40,000 expenditure represents one more unplanned-for expense / cost overrun for Geauga County taxpayers.

“Why wasn’t that (Lightning protection) part of the original design plan of this building?” averred Lennon.

“The lack of planning [in regard to electrical wiring design] has been very disappointing, chimed in Jim Dvorak, as he seconded the motion to approve an additional unplanned $40,000 overage on the total final cost of Phase 1, the Geauga County Administration Building.

Thirty seconds later Chairman Ralph Spidalieri without one additional thought on the matter, provided his positive vote to make a unanimous approval.

It was 9:45 am. Time for Agenda Item Number 12: “a Work Session with the Airport Authority to discuss projects at the Airport.” The three-members who stepped forward to “discuss projects” apparently were focused on just one project, the need for the Commissioners to authorize a 2-year local match of about $100,000 so that the Airport Authority could meet a May 5 deadline to submit a grant application. In the words of Chip Hess, “Things are going to have to happen bing, bang, boom “ if the Authority was going to be able to qualify for grant money.

When Clerk Christine Blair started to explain that the approximate $100K in county funding ( identified as $91,791.64 and $96,909) required the County Airport board to come up with a resolution as soon as possible before the county commissioners can approve it, presumably at the April 18 Commissioner Meeting.

Although Chairman Spidalieri sought a “short-cut for funding” to speed the process up, the other two commissioners did not follow up on the initiative, which involved Spidalieri’s attraction to a county investment of “$182,000 return for a $100,000 investment” by the county. Spidalieri, who at recent public opportunities to speak has been quoted sputtering his words and tripping over an uncooperative tongue, suddenly found himself personally motivated and animated because he houses a personal helicopter, he reported at Hangar 1, as one of many who pay monthly rent to house personal aircraft.

Interesting to observe was the response of Clerk Christine Blair to Chip Hess’ interruptions, When she directly and succinctly retorted, “Let me finish. . .” it seemed that the Airport Authority’s effectiveness was undermined because “no action can be taken during a work session.”

Although Chip Hess glanced at his partners, Chris Schloss, and Rick Blamer, for additional moral support and verbal rationale, the best that the trio could accomplish was an apparent apology for a “misunderstanding regarding red tape during a previous airport grant proceeding in 2021, which evoked different memories of the final outcome.

Although Hess presented a10-year record of county matches, alleged to be in the $13,000-$15,000 range annually,’ (see pdf documentation provided by Adrian Gorton), Lennon responded that the airport needs to run as a business,” instead of installing “new roofs on old hangars.”

When Rick Blamer referenced the huge demand for rented plane space at the county airport, Adrian Gorton asked, “has the hangar rental (income) been consistent?” The response, presumably from Blamer, was that renters have experienced an annual 4% Cost of Living raise in their monthly rental agreements.”

Adrian Gorton responded that according to the data presented to him, the so-called demand for hangar space indicated that the rental fees charged are too low. “You guys are charging rents barely above the the rates we charged you.”

Spidalieri noted with great fluency, “You guys have done a wonderful job and we want want to stay partners with you,” Uncharacteristically, Spidalieri, added to all in attendance, “ Anyone have any extra questions?” The time was 10:45 am and the members of the Airport Authority left the room without ever having been introduced to the public.

If the proper procedure is followed, the members of the County Airport Authority will be placed on the April 18 agenda with a resolution for the County Commissioners to meet about $10,000 during 2023 and an additional $90,000 (see other figures noted above) during 2024 as the local funding match. Stay tuned to keep tabs on this story.


Saturday, April 8, 2023
By The Associated Press

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said it would increase enforcement in the area of digital asset transactions and listed transactions.

The federal agency identified certain transactions to have high-risk issues in noncompliance and vowed to ramp up enforcement in those transactions.

“The IRS tracks many known, high-risk issues in noncompliance, such as digital asset transactions, listed transactions and certain international issues. These issues arise in multiple taxpayer segments, and data analysis shows a higher potential for noncompliance,” the tax agency wrote in its newly-released funding plan (pdf).

“We will prioritize resources to increase enforcement activities, including criminal investigation as appropriate,” the agency added.

According to the plan, the IRS will develop the information platform to support digital asset reporting and analytics tools to increase digital asset compliance in the fiscal year 2024, which is between April 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024.

Digital assets include convertible virtual currency, cryptocurrency, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other digital representations of value, according to the IRS website.

The IRS treats digital assets as property and requires taxpayers to report taxable gains or losses from digital asset transactions.

As it’s difficult to identify the owners of digital assets, U.S. judges allow the IRS to use “John Doe summons” to seek the identities of taxpayers of interest.


The IRS released details Thursday on how it plans to use an infusion of $80 billion for improved operations, pledging to invest in new technology, hire more customer service representatives, and expand its ability to audit high-wealth taxpayers.

The plan lays out the specifics of how the IRS will allocate the $80 billion of funding—from fiscal year 2024 to 2031—that was approved through legislation.

Some improvements have been long expected, such as bringing more paper-based systems online and answering taxpayers’ phone calls promptly. Others are more ambitious: continuing to explore ways to create a government-operated electronic free-file tax return system, for example.

After Congress passed legislation for the funding last summer, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen directed the IRS to develop a plan outlining how the tax agency would overhaul its technology, customer service, and hiring processes. Her memo sent instructions to IRS leadership not to increase audit rates on people making less than $400,000 a year annually.

During a call with reporters, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the plan “is heavily driven by the fact that we need to make technology investments that will improve productivity, which will mean that over time the number of employees and the mix of employees at the IRS will change.”

Officials are promising not “to raise audit rates on small businesses and households making under $400,000 per year, relative to historic levels.” The report says more than half of the new money—$45.6 billion—will be devoted to pursuing high-wealth individuals and companies.

“Given the size and complex nature of these tax filings, this work often requires specialized approaches, and we will make these resources available,” the report said. “We will use data and analytics to improve our understanding of the tax filings of high-wealth individuals.”


Saturday, April 8, 2023
By Bryan Chai

As America grapples with unprecedented inflation, soaring grocery bills and a deadly school shooting that targeted Christians, President Joe Biden and his administration have opted to focus on gas-powered vehicles.

According to a new report from Reuters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to enact “sweeping cuts in vehicle emissions pollution that will push automakers towards a big increase in electric vehicle sales.”

That big push for electric vehicle sales, naturally, means a big decrease in gas-powered vehicle sales.

“Environmental groups and some automakers think the proposal will result in at least 50 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet by 2030 being electric or plug-in hybrids,” the report notes.

Per a separate Bloomberg report, these momentous announcements are expected to be made on Wednesday in Detroit.

According to the two reports, it does appear that these sweeping changes stop just short of a full-on ban of gas-powered vehicles.

While these moves are being made with “green” and environmental concerns at heart, the move still appears to be ruffling feathers — even among those who are onboard with green initiatives.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that represents nearly all automakers (including heavy-hitters like Ford and Volkswagen) made it clear that the issue wasn’t the move to electric vehicles, the issue was the timing of the move.

“The question isn’t whether it can be done, it’s how fast can it be done,” the alliance told Reuters.

The main concern with the timing of this move, according to the alliance, is that automakers are worried about improving the current fleet of cars — only for those cars to be all but phased out as electric vehicles become more prominent.

“Every dollar invested in internal combustion technology is a dollar not spent on zero carbon technology,” the alliance added.

Bloomberg also notes that automakers have actually been asking Biden for more time to better prepare for a mass shift to electric vehicles, while electric vehicle manufacturers, like Elon Musk’s Tesla, actually want the government to enact even stricter restrictions on gas-powered vehicles.

As it stands, these changes could be sneaking up on Americans far sooner than expected.

Biden’s crackdown on gas-powered vehicles could impact vehicles manufactured for model years 2027 through 2032. That’s just a few years away.

So, what specifically will these crackdowns focus on?

Per Bloomberg, these sweeping changes will focus on governing “tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxide and other pollution from vehicles.”

Biden and his administration have long stated their desire to crack down on gas-powered vehicles, but aside from the above stated concerns from automakers, there’s one more rather large group of people that could be concerned: everyday Americans who drive to work.

There are numerous, documented, issues with electric vehicles, ranging from the silly to the downright dangerous.

Even attempting to foist these changes on Americans could have an indelibly negative effect on Biden’s chances at re-election in 2024 — should he run again.


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

At 9:40 am on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, Geauga County Commissioners went into an executive session “for the purpose of discussing Pending Litigation,” resulting in about a 40-minute delay for the scheduled “Public Hearing #1 at 10:00 a.m. for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Cities Programs” Agenda [Item Number 7].

The delayed hearing, with no public comment, whatsoever, was completed in mere minutes, accompanied by Commissioner Lennon’s praise for the “good work” being done.

Although Commissioners returned with absolutely no comment regarding their previous attorney-client discussions, later research on the Commissioners’ Complaint, 22M000541, against Auditor Charles Walder and two members of his staff, was voluntarily dismissed “without prejudice,” According to Commissioners’ attorney, Stephen Funk, in his motion for “Notice of Voluntary Dismissal,” Judge David Ondrey now has thirty days to agree to the motion.

In the meantime, the Commissioners, as well as Walder and his ADP staff, are still embroiled with overcosts attributed to complications resulting from delays caused by the Geauga County Board of Elections.


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

At their regular March 14, 2023, meeting Geauga County Planning Commission approved with some recommendations the first Auburn Township zoning code amendment. Identified as ZC2023-01, the document was forwarded back to Auburn Trustees effective March 14, 2023.

It is our understanding that the concerns expressed by some long-term board members involved restrictions on any potential outdoor shooting range for Auburn Township.

Currently, Auburn Township Zoning Board member, Dennis Bergansky, serves as one of the Planning Commission members. Mr. Bergansky is serving his second uncontested three-year term on the Planning Commission, having been appointed by the Geauga Commissioners.

At the regular April 3. 2023, Auburn Trustee meeting, Trustee Gene McCune announced a public hearing to review this amendment for 7 pm, April 17, prior to the regular 7:30 pm meeting.