Welcome to Auburn Township in Beautiful Geauga County Ohio

News Stories and Events for 2023 October thru December

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Thursday, December 21, 2023

The shortest day of the winter solstice has returned to Geauga County, along with some no-brainers. Petitions to file petitions for Geauga County Offices, due by 4 pm . In the Geauga County Board of Elections, elicited only a few surprises—perhaps. Remaining unapposed as he seeks a second term for District 35 in Summit County but representing Auburn and Bainbridge Townships in a gerrymandered district is Steve Demetriou, registered Republican, resident of 7320 Samuel Lord Drive in Bainbridge.

Also unopposed in their current roles as members of the Budget Commission are Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, of Sherbrook Drive, South Russell; and Treasurer Chris Hitchcock of Laurelbrook Drive, South Russell.

Clerk of Courts Sheila Bevington , of Holl Dale Drive, Hambden 44024: Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand of Cutts Road, Chardon 44024; County Recorder Celesta Mullins of Sawgrass Lane, Middlefield 44062; and Coroner John Urbancic of Bean Road in Chardon 44024 all found themselves happily unopposed for their current offices, set to renew on January 6. 2025, unless, they are fiercely defeated by some write-in candidate.

Geauga’s “Just Dave,” finds himself in a contest with Ashtabula’s Kenneth Polka, and Novelty’s Mark Zetzer. Hats off to these two Republicans for challenging a less than hard-working perfectionist. Nevertheless, we have seen enough of the long-term incumbent to doubt that he will finally weed himself out amid sighs of relief from voters.

Hard-working Sarah Fowler Arthur, State Representative from District 99,finds herself in a contest with Democratic candidate Louis Murphy of Lake Road in Ashtabula 44004 To our knowledge. Murphy is the only self-reported Democrat running for an office that becomes official on January 1, 2025.

Vying for two seats on the Eleventh District Court of Appeals are incumbent Justice John Eklund, of Burlington Glen, Chardon 44024, unopposed, and two familiar Republican judicial names deadlocked.

Scott Lynch of Zrolka Drive in Huntsburg 44046 finds himself embroiled with former Appellate Judge, Colleen Mary O’Toole, of West Sixth Street, Ashtabula 44046. This contest may very well be the most important one for Primary Season 2024. Both offices are sworn in on February 9 and February 10, 2024. We urge all registered voters to pay particular attention to the arguments and to attend any public debates between the two that may be forthcoming, although we suspect that voters will not be afforded that kind of openness.

We believe the last three contests may very well present a crossroads for Geauga County voters.

In a very strange turn of fate, Nancy Mc Arthur of Cedar Glen, Chardon 44024, finds herself the only challenger to three-term incumbent seeking his fourth straight term, Ralph Spidalieri, who promised some years back that he would not seek a third term as Commissioner. Here he is doing himself one better and going for Commissioner term number four. On the other hand, challenger Nancy McArthur, who to our knowledge has never won a political contest for which she has campaigned, is actively opposing the incumbent who considerable baggage while he holds at least three paying jobs, one of them for the Portage County Sheriff, whose successful campaign he managed . Is it possible for a an incumbent Geauga Commissioner to be Chief Deputy Portage County Sheriff?? Hmmm!

Probably the most politically-maneuvered contests will be accession to the Geauga County Commissioner’s position currently held by two-term Commissioner Tim Lennon. We, among many Geauga residents, certainly respect Mr. Lennon’s decision about priorities and precedents. We want him to know that we have come to respect his ability to be a good listener and to encourage genuine dialog while asking important questions.

The Primary contest between two Republicans, Carolyn Brakey and former Commissioner Walter Claypool, defeated twice for the same position, will undoubtedly be the most challenging one that will determine Geauga County’s future. Whatever the outcome, we must inform that Candidate Brakey has quietly attended nearly every single Commissioner meeting and taken notes. She is one of the most indefatigable candidates we have ever met.

The best and toughest race of all remains the contest for retiring judge Ondrey’s position as Judge of Common Pleas Court. Having promised to serve only one term because of advanced age, he leaves the race to two very qualified candidates: current Russell trustee Matthew Rambo of Surrey Downs, Novelty 44072, and veteran attorney Mary Jane Trapp, Whispering Pines Dr., Novelty 44072. Pay particular attention to the candidates and any oral debates/contests between them.

Polls open at 6:30 on March 19. Bring photo identification when you go to vote. In any event, be sure to consider all the arguments and vote. The future integrity of Geauga County depends upon your participation.


Thursday, December 14, 2023
Tom Ozimek

Former President Donald Trump issued an urgent call for action to his fellow Republicans over what he called "the biggest story of the year," namely a survey showing that 20 percent of mail-in voters admitted to committing at least one kind of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The Heartland/Rasmussen poll, released on Dec. 12, suggests concerning levels of voter fraud in the 2020 election, bolstering President Trump's longstanding claim that he was cheated out of a victory amid an explosion in mail-in ballots combined with state-level moves by the courts that made it easier to cheat.

The new survey shows 17 percent of mail-in voters admitting to voting in a state where they are no longer permanent residents; 21 percent filling out ballots for others; 17 percent signing ballots for family members without consent, and 8 percent reporting offers of "pay" or "reward" for their vote.

What's more, 10 percent of all respondents to the survey (carried on a representative sample of 1,085 likely voters) said they know a friend, family member, co-worker, or other acquaintance who admitted to casting a mail-in ballot fraudulently.

Over 43 percent of 2020 votes were cast by mail, which is the highest percentage in U.S. history.

"Taken together, the results of these survey questions appear to show that voter fraud was widespread in the 2020 election, especially among those who cast mail-in ballots," the Heartland Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank, said in a statement.


President Trump, who is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in the 2024 race for the White House, took to social media to call on Republicans to take action in response to the survey's shocking results.

"This is the biggest story of the year, and Republicans must do something about it," the former president wrote. Further, he suggested that unless something is done quickly to address the problem of voter fraud, the issue will cast a pall over the 2024 election.

"Have to make a move now," President Trump continued. "Get tough, get smart. Our country is being stolen!"

While Democrats and their allies claim that election fraud is little more than a myth, President Trump has said for years that voter fraud is a pervasive problem in U.S. politics —and insists he was robbed of a win in the 2020 election.

In a recent interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the former president spoke about what went into his decision to challenge the results.

"I was listening to different people. And when I added it all up, the election was rigged," he said, adding that it was his choice to contest the results because "I won the election."


While Democrats and their allies, along with some in the scientific community, argue that voter fraud was so small in the 2020 elections as to be negligible, the findings of the Heartland/Rasmussen survey bolster President Trump's claims that he was robbed of victory.

Justin Haskins, the director of Heartland’s Socialism Research Center and primary author of the Heartland/Rasmussen survey, said in a statement that the results of the poll are "nothing short of stunning."

"For the past three years, Americans have repeatedly been told that the 2020 election was the most secure in history. But if this poll’s findings are reflective of reality, the exact opposite is true," Mr. Haskins said. "This conclusion isn’t based on conspiracy theories or suspect evidence, but rather from the responses made directly by the voters themselves."

Some progress has been made on election integrity measures in over a dozen states in the aftermath of the 2020 election, Mr. Haskins acknowledged. He insisted, however, that "much more" work is needed in most parts of the country to bolster the integrity of elections—and voter confidence that the results reflect the actual will of the people.

"If America's election laws do not improve soon, voters and politicians will continue to question the truthfulness and fairness of all future elections," Mr. Haskins said.

Some states have reformed their laws and procedures amid widespread vote integrity worries prompted by the 2020 presidential election controversy. However, according to conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, more needs to be done.

The group's Election Integrity Scorecard shows that not a single state in the country has a perfect score in a checklist of 12 possible problem spots, including voter ID, accuracy of voter registration lists, and absentee ballot management.

Tennessee has the best election integrity procedures in the country, with a score of 88 (out of a possible 100), followed by Georgia at 84, Alabama at 82, and Missouri at 83.

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, recently wrote that "no state in the country has a perfect score of 100, which means everyone has some work to do."

In order to make elections more secure and build shore-up public confidence that the declared results are legitimate, states should ensure that election officials maintain current, accurate voter rolls, he argues.

Further, they should require photo identification to cast a vote, both in person and absentee, according to Mr. Von Spakovsky, who also argues for a ban on partisan funding of state and local election offices.

He pointed to the Heritage Foundation's Election Fraud Database as a constantly updated record of various cases of voter fraud from across the country.

"In an era of razor-thin elections, guarding against this type of illegal behavior, as well as errors made by election officials, is especially important," he wrote.

"In 2024, it could prove critical."


Friday, December 8, 2023

A former public school teacher and college instructor, Ohio State Senator Sandra O’Brien is serving the 32nd Ohio Senate District and its residents from Geauga, Ashtabula, and Trumbull Counties. As a personal fan of agriculture, Senator O’Brien and her husband have tended their own Ashtabula farm for many years. Her devotion to farming has resulted in her being part of the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee as well as Chairperson of the Local Government Committee.

Senator O’Brien spoke to a packed room of Geauga County taxpayers as she explained that the Ohio Senate has viewed the problem of runaway inflation’s negative impact on fixed incomes and the ability to pay county real-estate taxes imposed twice a year.

“We don’t want owners to lose their property because they can’t pay their real-estate taxes,” she told the crowd of Geauga taxpayers.

She noted that on December 6, members of the Ohio Senate had been able to rewrite problematic sections of Ohio HB 187 and were in the “early stages” of revising property revaluations based on three year sales prices of homes. “We will get you some relief. We're here to help Ohioans. When we have the answers, we’ll let you know.” The crowd loved her confidence and enthusiasm and responded with a hearty round of applause as she commended the Geauga Budget Commission for “doing what a budget commission is supposed to do.”.

When given the opportunity to respond individually, a gentleman asked for “taxes to be frozen at age 75,”

County Auditor Charles Walder expressed his ongoing pride and gratitude to townships and municipalities that responded to the clarion of providing relief to taxpayers caught in a tax squeeze. “Our mitigation is short term; Geauga County is unique. . . In Butler County the inside millage revaluation results are catastrophic.”

Senator O’Brien caught the mood and the panic of the attendees. “I’m a taxpayer, just like you!”

When asked about the number of the newly approved bill that was approved by the Ohio Senate after being approved by the Ohio House, Auditor Walder identified it as “a completely rewritten HB 187,” whose passage was documented on the December 6, 2023, Ohio Channel.

Geauga Commissioner candidate, Carolyn Brakey, at this point was able to present 1745 signed petitions protesting any increased taxes for Geauga County taxpayers as she added, “I could not be more proud. . .I am so proud of our elected leaders for their conservative leadership.”

Chuck Walder probably had the last word: “It takes a lot of guts to come to talk to you in such a crisis.”

We will continue to report back on this real-estate tax crisis and any possible resolutions to provide Geauga County and all Ohio taxpayers with much needed relief!


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

To our faithful faithful readers everywhere.

First and foremost, we are extending our praises to our Geauga County Budget Commission, whose members alerted taxpayers about sixty days ago about a shocking state-auditor-imposed inside millage revaluation which without intervention and mitigation, will hit Geauga residential and agricultural landholders just in time for them to pay their real-estate taxes in February and in July, 2024.

This is by no means the first time that over-valued Geauga land prices have resulted in extra tax burdens on Geauga County residents. For those long-time residents on fixed incomes who have foregone personal luxuries and comforts to maintain faithful payment of their real-estate tax bills to the County Treasurer to prevent late penalties and possible foreclosure proceeding, 2023 has been an especially bitter challenge to resolve.

We have followed the efforts of the Geauga County Budget Commission so that we can provide accurate updates regarding the extent of the financial squeeze that might make the difference between home ownership and homelessness for people on fixed income.

We were were attracted to Geauga County’s land allure over thirty years ago when our urban real estate could not support the food crops we grew. We were happy to have the land to plant the most healthy, non-GMO food crops we could find. It was a life-changing and health-affirming journey. The revelation that our real-estate payments may possibly increase by 30% at a time when savings institutions have cut back on their own interest payouts to account holders and nearly all goods, grocery items, and necessary services are costing more every day is disheartening. How many items can we cut out and still survive and maintain our independence and integrity?

We have been intently focused on the efforts of the Geauga Budget Commission, comprised of Auditor Chuck Walder, Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, and Treasurer Chris Hitchcock, for enlisting the cooperation of 16 townships, 6 municipalities, one county government, and 10 school districts serving Geauga County to help mitigate impending financial crises that could spiral into foreclosure actions en masse.

In following the work of the Geauga County Budget Commission meetings held between October and the first full week of December 2023 we are delighted to report on the cooperative efforts exemplified by the following entities, as reported by a live meeting of the Monday, December 4, 2023, Budget Commission:

* West Geauga Local School District, with a $1,259,646 unvoted windfall, voted at its school board meeting to remove $1,000,000. Although no such plans are expressed to date by Kenston Local School District, Chardon Local School District, or Chagrin Falls Local School District, it is our understanding that any mitigation plans voted on before the end of 2023, either at a routine or special meeting, will go into effect.

* Geauga County Government, aka Geauga County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously in late October to suppress two outside Job and Family Services levies. Many thank-you’s to Craig Swenson and his JFS staff for stepping up to the plate and working with the community.

* Bainbridge Township removed 85% of its unvoted $496.894 windfall( a total of $425.000), leaving $71,894 on the books. Kudos to Bainbridge elected trustees and fiscal officer.

* Burton Township reduced $41,000.

* Chester Township voted to suppress .5 mill for police and EMS, exceeding its original unvoted windfall, noted at $384,449. Thank you, Chester Trustees, for your loyalty to your residents!

* Claridon Township reduced a Fire Levy.

* Hamden Township reduced an outside fire levy to 1.92 mills and allocated1.54 mills to the General Fund and 1.43 mills to Road and Bridge. Thank you, Hambden!

* Middlefield Township suppressed an EMS/Ambulance levy from 1.6 mill to 1.23 mill.

* Montville Township reduced its unvoted inside millage windfall by approximately $52,999.

* Munson Township partially suspended payment of a 1.94 mill Fire levy and removed $200,000 of a $248,148 unvoted windfall.

* Newbury Township modified payment of a 5.5mill Fire Levy to 4.5 mills. Many thanks to Newbury Trustees! Thanks, Greg Tropf, and fellow trustees and fiscal officer!

* Parkman Township

* Russell Township voted to remove $245,000 of its $272,975 unvoted windfall. Kudos, Russell trustees and Fiscal Officer, Karen Walder!

* Thompson Township voted to reduce 2.3 mills to 1.62 mills.

* Troy Township voted to reduce 2.9 mill EMS levy to 2.3 mills.

* Burton Village

|* South Russell Village in special session voted to remove 90% if uts $195,165 unvoted windfall. Thank you, Mayor Kuntz, and councilmen!

* City of Chardon voted to remove $88,000 of its unvoted $103,646 inside millage, about 70% of the windfall!

The Budget Commission noted that it plans to publish an update on whether the governmental/school entities cooperated with the Budget Commission’s requests to voluntarily reduce inside millage. As of the December 4th recorded meeting, the Budget Commission had not received any information from Chardon Township or Huntsburg Township, necessitating a call to those entities to determine if they had chosen to voluntarily reduce their unvoted windfalls. We will keep you informed.

Also as of this writing Aquilla Village from the outset determined it would not be participating with the other entities. Also as of this writing, in the words of Prosecutor Flaiz, Auburn Township’s failure to renew a 1 mill Road and Bridge levy since 2015, was not a voluntary action to reduce inside unvoted windfall millage. “We can’t count that [oversight] in the chart [of willing participation]. They [Auburn Township Trustees/Fiscal Officer] did NOT give any money back to their taxpayers.”

Added Kristin Sinatra, Deputy Auditor, that the fiscal irresponsibility on the part of non-renewal of the discounted Road and Bridge levy (one of four), inadvertently prevented an additional tax burden of $254,015 from being thrust on Auburn taxpayers.

Editors’ Note: This fiscal irresponsibility comes at a time when the current Auburn Township Fire Department contract, already submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office for correctness, contains a 3.2% COLA increase for firefighting staff. Moreover, we would not be surprised to see the addition of a replacement 1 mill Road and Bridge Levy that demonstrates extra burdens for Auburn Township taxpayers.

We are grateful to the Budget Commission for its transparency to taxpayers. We will recall Treasurer Hitchcock’s zeal in being part of a team that is charged with “completing the most important work [in Geauga County] in many years. Additionally, we ask readers to email and phone (614-466-7182) the offices of State Senator Sandra O’Brien, who received from Commissioner Candidate Carolyn Brakey over 1700 signed petitions of Geauga County residents protesting additional real estate taxes for consideration in the Ohio Senate.

The unvoted inside millage windfall issue continues to be one of the largest problems facing all Ohio counties, It is a breaking issue and we will work to keep you informed with documentation.


Thursday, December 7, 2023
By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall | Lobbyists for Citizens

Here is a letter we sent to the Ohio Ways and Means Committee regarding our concerns about the Lake County Budget Commission, and the rulings by the Lake County Prosecutor Mr. Charles Coulson.

We will inform our readers when we hear back from the Ways and Means Committee, or any Senator or Representative.


December 5, 2023

Representative Bill Roemer, Chair of Ways and Means Committee
Ohio House of Representatives
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Re: Local Government Funds – Alternate or Statutory Formula
Role of the Budget Commission in County Government

To All Members of the Ways and Means Committee:

Lake County’s Budget Commission finds itself in quite a dilemma at the expense of the Lake County taxpayers.

We have discovered that the financial interests of the Lake County taxpayers are not considered by the Lake County Budget Commission as required by the Ohio Revised Code sections 5705.27, 5704,34, 5705.31.

From a 2019 presentation by the Auditor of the State of Ohio, we find that the primary responsibilities of the Budget Commission are as follows:

1. Local Government Distribution based on locally approved formula.

2. Verify all tax levies are properly authorized and allocated (inside and outside millage).

3. Set the tax rates and millage.

4. Approve official and amended certificates.

Approve official and amended certificates.

ORC Section 5705.27 specifically states the role of the Budget Commission: “In adjusting the rates of taxation and fixing the amount of taxes to be levied each year…”.

Lobbyists for Citizens interprets this to mean that the primary role of the Budget Commission is to ensure that excessive taxation is not taking place by the various taxing authorities in the County. In effect, the Budget Commission is the check and balance needed to protect the financial interests of the taxpayers from excessive taxation.

However, what we have found is that the Lake County Budget Commission is merely a “rubber stamp” for the taxing authorities in Lake County because of a ruling by the County Prosecutor prohibiting the Budget Commission from reducing property taxes collected from the Outside Millage. This ruling has allowed tens of millions of dollars in property taxes to be accumulated in the various taxing authorities’ “rainy day funds” at the detriment of the Lake County taxpayers.

We have enclosed a February 6, 2023, memorandum written by Mr. Charles Coulson, Lake County’s Prosecuting Attorney, expressing his ruling on the authority of the Budget Commission to reduce levies approved by voters.

This ruling is not uniformly accepted by County Auditors throughout the State of Ohio. This does not mean that Mr. Coulson is incorrect, but rather illustrates confusion that needs to be addressed by the State legislators.

The second problem with the Lake County Budget Commission deals with the distribution of the Local Government Funds. The Lake County Prosecutor has issued an opinion on July 24, 2023 and a supplemental opinion dated August 23, 2023 (copies enclosed) that the Alternate Formula currently being used to distribute the Local Government Funds has been invalid since 2012, and the Statutory Method should be used. To date, the Budget Commission continues to use the Alternate Formula, thereby contradicting the Prosecutor’s directive.

Unfortunately, State of Ohio County officials have differing opinions on how the Budget Commission is supposed to discharge their duties under the Ohio Revised Code. The statutory language creating the Budget Commission needs, in our opinion, to:

1. Explicitly enumerate the powers and authorities of the County’s Budget Commission over the property tax revenue collected by either inside or outside millage by the taxing authorities in their County.

2. No member of the Budget Commission should have either a direct or indirect interest, or relationship in any taxing authority in the County. (Lake County Prosecutor Coulson is the legal representative for the Lake County Board of Developmentally Disabled, a taxing authority in Lake County.)

3. Mandate that the County Budget Commission shall have two (2) citizens, not currently holding a position of employment in the County government or with a taxing authority controlled by the Budget Commission.

4. Ensure that the members of the Budget Commission are entitled to legal protection by the County Prosecutor if the taxing authority decides to file a lawsuit against the Budget Commission members either as part of the Commission or individually.

Establish rules or guidelines for the appropriate retainage of excess property taxes for each taxing authority.

Respectfully submitted,

Brian Massie
Executive Director

Cc: Lake County Prosecutor
Lake County Auditor
Lake County Treasurer
Lake County Commissioners
State Representative Jamie Callender
State Senator Jerry Cirino


Friday, December 8, 2023
By Kelly Phillips Erb |Forbes Staff

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has been charged with nine counts of failing to file and pay taxes, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns according to the 56-page indictment. He is accused of failing to pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016 through 2019.

The indictment by a California grand jury is the latest in a string of legal troubles for the President's son. In June of 2023, he was charged with tax and gun charges as part of a plea deal. That plea deal fell apart two months later when U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed concern over some of the details in the agreement.

The following month, Biden was re-indicted on charges related to illegal possession of a gun and making false statements on the form to buy the gun. At the time, the feds were silent on the tax charges, leading many to speculate that additional charges would follow. That turned out to be true.

(You can read my prior coverage here and here.)


Biden had initially agreed to plead guilty to two charges of failure to pay under section 7203 of the Tax Code. That section covers a wide variety of offenses, including:

1. failure to pay estimated tax or tax;

2. failure to file a return;

3. failure to keep records; and

4. failure to supply information.

The gun charge was treated as a diversion case as part of the original agreement. That means he would not have been technically pleading guilty to gun charges—criminal possession of a gun can be considered a felony—but would enter a program for nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems. You can read those related documents, including the Memorandum of Plea Agreement and Exhibit 1, a statement of facts agreed to by Biden, his lawyers, and the federal prosecutors, here.

Those previous tax charges were filed in a Delaware federal court (the case focused on the tax charges was officially terminated in August, while the case related to the gun charges remains on the docket).


The facts outlined in the most recent indictment are not widely different from those initially charged—only the framing is different.

The indictment alleges that between 2016 and 2020, Hunter Biden received more than $7 million in gross income from business ventures, including those involving foreign companies (specifically, Chinese and Ukrainian companies): more than $1.5 million in 2016, $2.3 million in 2017, $2.1 million in 2018, $1 million in 2019 and approximately $188,000 from January through Oct. 15, 2020.

In addition, the indictment notes that a "personal friend" who was an attorney gave Hunter Biden $1.2 million to pay expenses—that information was also previously reported.

According to the indictment and previous legal documents, Biden's accountants discovered in 2020 that his 2016 return had yet to be filed (by 2020, he had a new accountant—his previous accountant had died). He also allegedly failed to timely file for 2017 and 2018, and did not pay on time for those years. And, while he filed his 2019 return in a timely manner, he did not make his estimated payments. Instead, Hunter Biden spent money, the prosecution says, "on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes."

Biden's substance abuse issues have been widely reported. He claims that he began using in 2016, and by 2018, he wrote in his autobiography," I was smoking crack every 15 minutes."


Biden is charged with nine counts of failing to file and pay taxes, tax evasion, and filing false tax returns.

Failure to pay (tax years 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019) and failure to file (tax years 2017 and 2018) are charged under the same section, 7203, as was charged in his previous case. As noted in prior coverage, charges under that section do not typically result in jail time. They are typically charged as a misdemeanor, resulting in fines of up to $25,000, though prison time of up to a year can be tacked on if the situation warrants.

A misdemeanor failure to pay can be escalated to a felony in some cases. According to the Department of Justice manual, those involve individuals who fail to file tax returns or pay a tax "but who also commit acts of evasion or obstruction." In that case, the charges could be brought as felonies under sections 7201 or 7212(a). Those sections are also being charged here (keep reading).

Evasion of assessment (tax year 2018) is charged under section 7201, which makes it a crime to "willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof." That's another way of saying tax evasion. In this case, prosecutors allege, among other things, that Hunter Biden claimed business expenses, including approximately $388,810 in business-related travel, when he was not conducting business. He is also accused of putting three women on his business payroll and providing health care benefits to three women with whom he had romantic or sexual relationships (a fourth woman is said to be related to one of those women).

Filing false and fraudulent tax returns (tax year 2018 for Form 1040 and again for Form 1120) are charged under section 7206. Among other things, that section focuses on a person who "[w]illfully makes and subscribes any return, statement, or other document, which contains or is verified by a written declaration that it is made under the penalties of perjury, and which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter." According to the indictment, Hunter Biden signed tax returns claiming various personal expenses as business expenses, including false "Travel, Transportation and Other" deductions, which were instead luxury vehicle rentals, house rentals for his then-girlfriend, hotel expenses, and New York City apartment rent for his daughter, and false "Legal Professional and Consulting" deductions, including payment of his daughter's Columbia Law school tuition and his personal life insurance policy.

If you think some of these details sound salacious, you're not wrong. The prosecutors substantiated some of the allegations by quoting from Biden's memoir where he admitted to heavy drug and alcohol abuse.


While it features prominently in the indictment, it is not a crime for a third party to pay your tax bill, and no associated crime was charged. While the source of the funds might not be concerning for political or security reasons, the IRS typically doesn't care who pays so long as they get paid. The source of the money doesn't even have to be a member of your family—Charlie Sheen infamously gifted Lindsay Lohan $100,000 to pay down her tax bill in 2012.


This matter is being charged as a criminal matter. Most civil issues don't typically become criminal investigations—though there are occasions when they may be referred for criminal investigation when there are indications of possible fraud. Criminal investigations may also be initiated when information is received from the public and ongoing investigations underway by other law enforcement agencies or U.S. Attorney offices.

When matters move to a criminal case, it tends to be serious—and often results in jail time. Those tend to be investigated by IRS-CI, the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, which works closely on tax-related investigations with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and agencies. While they may work cases that involve other financial crimes, the IRS has considerable focus on "pure tax" or general tax crimes. Those include cases—like this one—where they take looks at high-income taxpayers who deliberately choose not to file returns or pay taxes owed, as well as abusive tax schemes and tax-related fraud (like refund schemes). In 2023, IRS-CI referred 1,838 matters for prosecution, resulting in 1,508 convictions—an 88.4% conviction rate.


The indictment was filed on Dec. 7, 2023, in U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Western Division - Los Angeles), and has been assigned to Judge Mark C. Scarsi. Leo J. Wise and Derek Edward Hines are listed as counsel for the government.

Typically, following an indictment, the suspect is arrested and formally charged. That doesn’t appear to have happened yet. No attorney has been noted for Biden, and no further activity, including a hearing, is yet on the docket.

This is a developing story. Check back with our Forbes tax team for updates.


December 4, 2023
By Ohio Capital Journal Staff

The former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has been indicted by a federal grand jury on bribery and embezzlement charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced in a news release Monday.

Sam Randazzo, 74, of Columbus, self-surrendered at U.S. District Court in Cincinnati Monday morning Dec. 4th, the release said. Randazzo is charged in an 11-count indictment on Nov. 29.

The charges stem from an ongoing investigation into what federal prosecutors have called the biggest political bribery scandal in state history, where Akron-based FirstEnergy paid more than $60 million in 2018 and 2019 to get the legislature to pass and protect a $1.3 billion bailout that was mostly intended to benefit FirstEnergy.

Former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, in June 2023 was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after a jury found him guilty of racketeering for his role in the scheme. Former Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges was sentenced to five years in the same case.

FirstEnergy fired two of its top executives, CEO Chuck Jones and Vice President Michael Dowling. And it signed a deferred prosecution agreement admitting wrongdoing and committing to pay a $230 million fine.

Jones, Dowling and Randazzo denied wrongdoing, but in the agreement, FirstEnergy said the executives paid Randazzo a $4.3 million bribe just as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was nominating him to be the top Ohio regulator overseeing FirstEnergy.

“Public officials — whether elected or appointed — are tasked with upholding the highest level of integrity in their duties and responsibilities. Such service to the public must be selfless, not selfish,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker in Monday morning’s release. “Through the indictment unsealed today, we seek to hold Randazzo accountable for his alleged illegal activities.”

FirstEnergy said the payment was made through Randazzo’s “consulting company in return for (Randazzo) performing official action in his capacity as (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio) Chairman to further FirstEnergy Corp.’s interests” and that “it was under no legal obligation to make the payment … ”

Randazzo was the PUCO chairman from April 2019 until November 2020, when he resigned.

Randazzo faces one count of conspiring to commit travel act bribery and honest services wire fraud, two counts of travel act bribery, two counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and five counts of making illegal monetary transactions.

According to the indictment, Randazzo allegedly received more than $4.3 million from an energy company and its affiliates to provide favorable official actions for the company through PUCO proceedings.

It is alleged that Randazzo received the bribe money from the energy company through his consulting business, Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio, Inc. (SFA), which was registered in Ohio in March 2010. SFA filings name Randazzo as the president and sole representative of the business and lists Randazzo’s home address as the business address.

The charging document alleges that Randazzo also used his consulting business, SFA, to carry out an embezzlement scheme, funneling to himself at least a million dollars meant for an association of large, industrial energy users in Ohio.

Randazzo was the general counsel of the industry group for multiple years, including from 2010 until his PUCO appointment, and at times served as the industry group’s executive director. Randazzo controlled the industry group’s bank accounts.

It is alleged Randazzo entered into settlements with companies on behalf of the industry group and kept portions of the settlement payments for himself. As one method to conceal his alleged embezzling, Randazzo allegedly created a fictitious member of the industry group that received payments along with legitimate members.

For example, in March 2019, it is alleged Randazzo attempted to conceal his embezzling by wiring approximately $1.1 million between bank accounts under his control.

If convicted as charged, the defendant could face up to 20 years in prison.

In the release, FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers said the indictment outlines an alleged scheme in which a public regulatory official ignored the Ohio consumers he was responsible for protecting, instead taking a bribe from an energy company seeking favors.

Last week, it was revealed that plaintiffs in a civil suit related to the massive bribery and money-laundering scandal have subpoenaed documents from DeWine and they’re scheduling a sworn deposition with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Maureen Willis in a statement Monday called the indictment an important step to bring justice to Ohio utility consumers.

Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Maureen Willis said, “calls for reform so far have gone unanswered. Ohioans deserve better from the public officials in this state.”


Sunday, December 3, 2023
Tom Ozimek

John Kerry, special presidential envoy on climate matters, announced Saturday that the United States has "proudly" committed not to build any new coal plants and to get rid of existing ones entirely.

"To meet our goal of 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, we need to phase out unabated coal," Mr. Kerry said in a Dec. 2 statement, in which he announced that the United States had officially joined a coalition of 56 other countries who all plan to ditch coal in the name of climate change.

“We will be working to accelerate unabated coal phase-out across the world, building stronger economies and more resilient communities,” Mr. Kerry said in his statement. “The first step is to stop making the problem worse: stop building new unabated coal power plants.”

While no specific date was given for when the Biden administration plans to nix America's existing coal plants, other regulatory actions by the administration zero in on 2035 as the year when coal ends.

Just under 20 percent of U.S. electricity was powered by coal as of October 2023, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).


The anti-coal pact that Mr. Kerry said Washington had just joined is called the Power Past Coal Alliance, which was started six years ago and had 50 members until Saturday, when the United States, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo, and Norway joined bringing the total to 56.

Citing IEA’s Net Zero Roadmap, the Power Past Coal Alliance said in a Dec. 2 statement that, in order to "keep the 1.5°C goal within reach," advanced economies like the United States need to immediately end the construction of new coal power plants and phase out existing plants by 2030, and by 2040 in the rest of the world.

The 1.5°C threshold, first established in the Paris Agreement in 2015, aims to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C by 2100.

In 2022, coal-fired plants generated 36 percent of global electricity, outstripping all other sources. Over half of this output was in China, which is building new coal plants at a fast pace, undeterred by various climate pledges and goals that the country's leadership has paid lip service to.

The next three largest contributors to global coal-fired electricity are India, the United States, and Japan, which jointly account for around 25 percent of the total.


China saw coal power projects jump in 2022 despite the country's pledge to cut down coal consumption by the end of the decade.

In 2022, coal power construction starts, new project announcements, and plant permissions “accelerated dramatically” in China, according to a February report (pdf) by Global Energy Monitor and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), which noted that roughly two new coal power plants were being permitted per week in China.

“50 GW of coal power capacity started construction in China in 2022, a more than 50 percent increase from 2021. Many of these projects had their permits fast-tracked and moved to construction in a matter of months,” the report said.

“A total of 106 GW of new coal power projects were permitted, the equivalent of two large coal power plants per week," the report continued. "The amount of capacity permitted more than quadrupled from 23 GW in 2021.”

The second-largest consumer of coal, India, has also seen its coal consumption rise. According to the “Coal 2022” report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal demand in India rose by 14 percent in 2021.

Meanwhile, coal demand in the United States saw a growth of 15 percent in 2021, per the IEA report.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Global Energy Monitor (GEM) found that roughly a million coal jobs could be lost by 2050 as mines retire—even without any climate policies being implemented.

The vast majority of job losses would be in Asia, with China and India taking the brunt.

As for the United States, the GEM report estimates more than 15,000 jobs in the coal sector will be lost per decade in the 2030s and 40s, and less than 15,000 jobs to be lost in the 2050s.

For the current decade, the report estimates a U.S. coal job loss of below 15,000.


Sunday, December 3, 2023
Contributors to this article: Marisa T. Darden, Shaneeda Jaffer, Jonathan Medows, Adam Gleason

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) will require all reporting companies to regularly disclose certain information on their beneficial owners to the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. This client alert provides an overview of those reporting requirements, including who must report, what must be reported, when it must be reported and how to report.

If you own a freelancer business, you need to be aware of the new reporting requirements effective Jan. 1, 2024 under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). This rule applies to you if you have a corporation, S-Corp, LLC or any other entity created by paperwork filed with a Secretary of State office. This is a business filing that is not related to tax filings in any way.

Because the Corporate Transparency Act is related to anti-laundering initiatives and financial accountability, many companies will instinctively turn to their accounting professionals for assistance. This offers an opportunity for accounting professionals to expand the scope of advisory services offered.

Ensuring company records are current with the accounting firm and in the FinCEN database will require an increase in due diligence and risk assessment activities. With high penalties and the potential for imprisonment, this is an area that should be closely monitored. Non-compliance can result in high penalties and possible imprisonment. The escalating fines range from $500 to $10,000 per violation and jail time of up to two years.


The Corporate Transparency Act applies to all foreign and domestic companies that are created or registered by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar office under the law of a state or Indian tribe. The act allows for several exceptions to this requirement, including for some financial institutions, banks, stockbrokers, insurance companies, accounting firms and other financial companies that are already regulated by other agencies.


Reporting companies must disclose identifying information of any person who exercises substantial control over a reporting company or owns or controls at least 25% of the ownership interests of a reporting company. FinCEN has indicated that it will look beyond simple personal ownership to determine whether a person owns or controls at least 25% of a reporting company, so reporting companies should cast a wide net when attempting to identify beneficial owners.


Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act in 2020 as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. The beneficial ownership information reporting requirements are codified at 31 U.S.C. § 5336. The statute also directs FinCEN to promulgate rules for the enforcement of this requirement. FinCEN published a final rule under this directive on Sept. 30, 2022. The text of the rule is available at 31 C.F.R. § 1010.


While the CTA’s disclosure requirement takes effect Jan. 1, 2024, reporting companies will have time to prepare disclosures after that. For companies in existence before Jan. 1, 2024, the due date for initial disclosures is Jan. 1, 2025. For companies created or registered after Jan. 1, 2024, the disclosure will be due within 30 days of notice of the company’s creation or registration. After filing the initial report, companies will have an ongoing obligation to report changes in beneficial ownership information to FinCEN.


Companies may face both civil and criminal penalties for failing to comply with the CTA’s reporting requirements, for providing false or incomplete information, or for failing to correct or update out of date or inaccurate information.


December 1, 2023
By Jo Ingles | Ohio Statehouse News Bureau

It was no surprise, but the Central Committee of the Ohio Republican Party voted to formally endorse former President Donald Trump for re-election to that office next year.

Though there are several other candidates in the race, the committee endorsed Trump as the GOP presidential candidate. Ohio Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou said he’s encouraged by the vote.

“We want to send a signal that the nominating process needs to end and we need to unite and our focus needs to be on defeating a failed president – Joe Biden," Triantafilou said.

Trump won Ohio in 2016 and 2020, each time by about eight percentage points.

But there was no endorsement in the hotly contested race for U.S. Senate, which features Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), businessman Bernie Moreno and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The winner of that contest will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The Ohio Democratic Party has already endorsed President Biden’s re-election. The party made that endorsement this past July.

The Ohio primary for president and U.S. Senate is in March, about 80 days from now.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Story by Laura A. Bischoff | Columbus Dispatch

The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio voted on Friday to place the pension fund's director on administrative leave and begin an investigation.

Bill Neville , who could not be reached for comment, has run the pension fund since July 2020.

A spokesman for the pension system issued a written statement on behalf of STRS Board Chairman Dale Price, which said, in part, that an outside third party has begun investigating Neville for personnel related matters.

An anonymous letter purporting to be from STRS staff alleged that Neville has been verbally abusive toward staff and prone to violent outbursts, according to a report from NBC4, a television station in Columbus.

“Any allegation of misconduct of this nature is troubling,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a written statement. “Half a million teachers and retirees rely upon the fiducial trust of STRS, which compounds my concern. I have appointed outside counsel to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of these allegations.”

STRS is the fifth largest public teacher pension system in the U.S. and is governed by an 11-member board that is a combination of elected and appointed people. It serves 528,000 teachers and retirees. It has roughly $90 billion in investments.

Lynn Hoover, the pension fund's chief financial officer, will serve as interim director.

STRS has been under pressure from retirees who have been angry over the cuts to the cost of living adjustments, a perceived lack of transparency and the payment of bonuses to pension investment staff.

A faction of reformers on the board have failed to take over a majority of seats. Some of the reformers have called for Neville's replacement.

Neville's annual salary is $318,270.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023
By Molly Walsh | Cleveland.com

A former Chester Township police officer has been indicted on a sexual battery charge after being accused of meeting up with a teenager while working.

A Geauga County grand jury handed up the indictment Monday charging Nicholas Iacampo, 29, with the third-degree felony and a first-degree misdemeanor charge of contributing to the unruliness of a minor.

Defense attorney Ian Friedman said Iacampo, who resigned from the police department in September, plans to plead not guilty at his arraignment scheduled for Dec. 13.

“After reviewing the indictment, it is clear that there is a difference in factual interpretation,” Friedman said in a statement. “This is exactly why all citizens -- presumed innocent-- are afforded juries and due process,” Friedman said in a statement.

Lake County deputies arrested Iacampo on Aug. 6 after he was accused of meeting the girl in a parking lot of the Church of the Blessed Hope on Wilson Mills Road in Chester Township. Iacampo was on-duty at the time.

The girl’s father that day called 911 from a phone outside the Chester Police Department and asked for an officer other than Iacampo. He told dispatchers Iacampo was “messing around” with his 16-year-old daughter and that he had numerous text messages between his daughter and Iacampo.

He told the dispatcher that Iacampo, while on-duty, was witnessed “making out” with his daughter by his neighbor and son.

Lake County Prosecutor Charles Coulson is handling the case because because Iacampo’s mother is Chardon Municipal Court Judge Terri Stupica.

Iacampo temporarily served as a school resource officer at West Geauga High School from January through June. This spring, he helped locate a student who had brought a gun into the school with plans of shooting his classmates.

In a press release on Monday, Chester Township Police Chief Craig Young invited community members to reach out to him with any concerns and said the police department is committed to being “the best police agency, fully capable of handling your safety needs.”

“No one is above the law and our personnel are held to strict standards of conduct to ensure faithful service and protection; our community deserves nothing less,” Young said in a statement. “The recent investigation involving the reported misconduct of a former officer in no way reflects any type of accepted behavior by this office; the members of this organization find this reported behavior appalling.”


Saturday, November 18, 2023

The stated purpose of the 10 am Special Meeting of November 17, 2023, for “Commissioners, the Sheriff, Probate Judge, Clerk of Courts, and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas to review and, if appropriate, approve . . .the current plans, drawings, representations, bills of material, specifications of work and estimates of the cost.” With absences of Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri and the Probate/Juvenile Court (Timothy Grendell), the go-ahead was approved unanimously in a 5-0 roll call vote by 11:40 am. Commissioners Dvorak and Lennon, along with Clerk of Courts Bevington, Sheriff Hildenbrand, and Common Pleas Court Judge Paschke, after having looked at a multi-page document, voted unanimously to go forward in spite of learning that several items on their “wish lists” for the prospective doubled-in-size courthouse would cost over and above their original expectations of $14 million.

Observing silently from the rear of the Commissioners’ Meeting Room in the New Office Building recently completed with delays, substitutions, and extensive litigation that penalized taxpayers were Chardon City Administrator Randy Sharpe, Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, and Co-County Administrator Linda Burhenne. On the right side sat three partners of Then Design, two partners from Infinity Construction, one Estimator for Infinity Construction, and one Representative for Construction

Representing Then Design and presenting a power-point presentation was Brad Gellert. Quiet were Lee Hribar of Then Design, Brandon Pasela, and Eric R. Melkerson, the cost estimator for Infinity Construction. We will inform our readers when we receive our requested copy of the power-point presentation from County Administrator, Gerry Morgan.

Mr. Gellert announced that each of the two Common Pleas Judges would have a complete floor comprising an enlarged courtroom and an adjacent Press Room. Two magistrate courtrooms and probation offices are planned for the third floor. Additionally, the renderings in the power point depicted a Sally Port, identified as a series of doors or gates to maintain maximum security for any defendant. Gellert identified a common anxiety voiced Common Pleas Judges and their staffs is too much exposure to the public from the current parking arrangement and limited egress and exits. The addition will feature extra entrances/exits available only to staff.

The power-point renderings dramatically played up the Italianate architecture, sandstone exterior matching the original courthouse outer walls, and the multiple Courthouse-era unique windows “for air and light” that would unify the structure with the rest of Chardon Square, but these specialty items raised questions from the five individuals casting their votes, particularly Commissioner Lennon.

When extensive new sidewalk was mentioned as a way to promote pedestrian safety, Mr Lennon expressed multiple reservations, first asking whether Chardon City or the Commissioners had the “authority over the final sidewalks.

Gellert quite quickly noted that the City has the responsibility of contributing $2 million in sidewalks, regardless of current increases of as much as 50% over estimates given to Mr. Melkerson last fall. When Lennon asked about the cost of “matching sandstone coins” to cover the corners of the renovated Courthouse, he was cited with a preliminary answer of $592,500, an expense he considered less utilitarian than he liked.

Sheriff Hildenbrand learned that the X-ray scanners and magnetometers (in everyday English, read “metal-detectors”) to which all visitors will be exposed would be an additional cost from the initial $14 million estimate.

Clerk of Courts Sheila Bevington asked about the sturdiness of the generator needed to power the interior courtrooms. Although Gellert assured her of the generator safety, he avoided any discussion of how the windowless courtroom would function should the interior lighting and HVAC fail and create utter blackness for judges, juries, and security risks.

Infinity Construction’s cost estimator, quiet Mr. Melkerson, mentioned on two separate occasions his estimate of $600 per square foot. Mr. Lennon repeated the importance of bringing the cost down to the original $14 million.

County Administrator Morgan clearly and quite audibly noted that the five County vote-casters needed to think of and voice all concerns, reservations, questions, and objections. Objections that came up once the renovation was in progress would not modify the plans presented once construction of the renovated and enlarged Courthouse began, he added, a reference to countless additional expenses on the backs of Geauga taxpayers.

The special meeting adjourned at 10:43 am.


Saturday, November 18, 2023
By Jessie Balmert | Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio will allow companies to bid for oil and gas drilling under a state park and two wildlife areas, a decision made as opponents vocally protested throughout the meeting.

Ohio’s Oil and Gas Land Management Commission voted Wednesday, November 15, 2023, to greenlight accepting bids for fracking under Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County and Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County. Bids will be accepted starting in January.

The committee denied a request for Wolf Run State Park in Noble County, in part because of concerns about land used by Ohio State University. The university's Eastern Agricultural Research Station uses the land to conduct research into cattle reproduction, sheep management and other studies.

After the five-member commission unanimously approved accepting bids for land under Salt Fork State Park, opponents started yelling: "Public land is not for profit." They forced the commission to take a 15-minute recess as Chair Ryan Richardson asked them to stop. No public comment was permitted at Wednesday's hearing, prompting one person to yell: “You’re allowed to give away our state and we can’t say anything."

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process that uses pressurized water, sand and chemical additives to extract oil and gas reserves from mineral supplies under the Earth's surface.

Ohio legalized leasing its public lands for oil and gas exploration in 2011, but the law stalled until Republicans in the state legislature rewrote it in December 2022. Legislators said they wanted to kickstart a law that had been on the books for more than a decade.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association President Rob Brundrett said he was "pleased to see the commission continue to advance nominated parcels to the bidding process laid out by the statute."

Opponents of fracking under parks say it's bad for the environment, emitting greenhouse gases like methane and threatening Ohio's protected parks. Gov. Mike DeWine has said he won't approve surface drilling, but some worry the governor's promise alone won't protect Ohio's natural wonders.

"Fracking our parks is not a wise use of natural resources," said Cathy Cowan Becker with Save Ohio Parks. "It's about locking Ohio into a dying fossil fuel industry allowing out-of-state oil and gas companies to make a profit."

The commission did add some language requested by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to address water sources, reduce light pollution and limit fracking during hunting season.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is still investigating fake pro-fracking letters sent to the commission after a Cleveland.com investigation. The probe is ongoing, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.


Saturday, November 18, 2023
By Rachel Wagoner | Oct 12th Farm and Dairy

CAUV values are going up in nearly half of Ohio’s counties this year, in some cases more than 300%.

Property values in 41 counties were reappraised or updated, on a schedule mandated by the state, which means Current Agricultural Use Values were also updated. The Ohio Department of Taxation released its new CAUV values to counties this summer.

Ohio Farm Bureau said some county auditors are reporting increases between 80-100%, but David Thomas, Ashtabula County auditor, said in a letter to the editor in The Vindicator that some CAUV values in Ashtabula County jumped more than 300%.

“While value increase does not equal tax increase dollar for dollar, this mandate will kill some small farm operations,” Thomas said, in the letter.

There’s not much that can be done locally, but Ohio Farm Bureau is encouraging its members to support two pieces of state legislation that the group says aims to soften the blow.

Basics of CAUV

The state’s CAUV program is a way for people who own farmland to get some relief in their tax bill.

Under the CAUV, farmland is taxed at a rate that reflects its value for agricultural purposes, instead of its “highest and best” potential use, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. This typically results in a substantially lower tax bill for landowners.

CAUV value is based, first and foremost, on the soil type of the land. There are more than 3,500 soil types in Ohio. Each soil type has its own value, calculated through a complex formula that takes into account agricultural data like crop yields and crop prices as well as non-agricultural factors like capitalization rate. More productive soils have higher CAUV values.

The idea is that CAUV values will follow the farm economy. With crop prices hitting record highs in the past few years and staying relatively high, comparatively, to five or 10 years ago, the current CAUV value has increased accordingly.

What can be done

Property taxes in Ohio are paid a year behind, so the changes won’t be reflected until new tax bills come out in January. Counties have no authority to change CAUV levels, but landowners can file an appeal with the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals.

Some counties have put out online calculators to help landowners see what the new values will do to their tax bill. Others are waiting until after the November election, as there are tax levies on the ballot that could impact the tax rate, to talk specific numbers.

In some cases, levies may be adjusted down to offset the increase in property valuations.

Ohio Farm Bureau is encouraging members to reach out to local lawmakers to urge them to support House Bill 187 and Senate Bill 153. HB 187 is sponsored by Republican Reps. Tom Hall, of Madison Township, and Adam C. Bird, of New Richmond. SB 153 is sponsored by Republicans George Lang, of West Chester, and Terry Johnson, of McDermott.

The sister bills would temporarily adjust the CAUV to an average of the past three years.

“Landowners will still have an increase, but it will soften a very sharp curve,” said Whittney Bowers, director of state policy and grassroots engagement for Ohio Farm Bureau.

The adjusted value would apply to tax years 2023, 2024 and 2025, impacting not just counties being reappraised this year, but those due for reappraisal or update in the next two years.

The House version of the bill would also take away the state’s authority to order county auditors to change property values. It was voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee and sent to the full Ohio House on Sept. 20. The Ohio Soybean Association supports the Senate version of the legislation, which is still in the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee.

Counties reappraised in 2023

Auglaize, Clinton, Darke, Defiance, Delaware, Franklin, Gallia, Geauga, Hamilton, Hardin, Harrison, Henry, Jackson, Licking, Mahoning, Mercer, Morrow, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Putnam, Richland, Seneca, Shelby, Trumbull, Van Wert and Wood

Counties updated in 2023

Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Butler, Clermont, Fulton, Greene, Knox, Madison, Montgomery, Noble, Summit and Wayne


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Geauga County Budget Director Adrian Gorton acknowledged that $47,600 for vehicle license-plate recognition cameras had already been paid for ten stationary cameras capable of being installed to a building or a telephone pole to aid in identifying the last known registered owner of any vehicle caught on camera along with official address. violation of law or commitment of a criminal crime. Mr. Gorton indicated that this expense would be a one-time only expenditure in an effort to keep Geauga County a safe community. Each stationary device represents nearly a $5,000 investment.

At what point will the upfront investment be judged ineffective because of repair or maintenance issues?


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

In a meeting on November 7, 2023, Commissioners announced tentative acquisition of 9 parcels and an abandoned building formerly known as Dollar General Store. The latter after rehab, if the business deal is completed, will become the new Geauga County Senior Citizens Center.

Further, the splitting of the segment of land housing the Geauga County Courthouse announced on the same date involves setting a special public meeting announced on November 14, 2023 (pdf attached here). County Administrator announced that the special meeting pursuant to

ORC 153.36 and ORC 9.33 would take place on Friday, November 17, 2023, at 10:00 am in the Commissioners Meeting Room B303, 12611 Ravenwood Drive. It will involve the three Commissioners and their co-County Administrators, the Probate-Juvenile Court judge/representative, and Judges Carolyn Paschke and David Ondrey.

We will be present to record the meeting, We invite as many members of the public as possible to be present to get the lowdown in writing about the latest round of expenses (prior to overruns, corrections, misjudgments, etc) in this year of incredible hardship for Geauga County taxpayers as they await their real estate tax bills.

The stated purpose of Agenda Item 24, added in the third version of the November 14 Agenda, is “for the review and approval of plans, drawings, representations, bills of material, specifications of work and estimates of the cost thereof in detail and in the aggregate for the proposed Geauga County Addition,” as an outcome of the Geauga County Case initiated against the County Commissioners by the City of Chardon and adjudicated by Judge David Ondrey.

We invite you to be aware of the latest round of expenses to make the Courthouse addition achievable.


Monday, November 13, 2023
Bill Bush, Columbus Dispatch

As the Franklin County Auditor's Office puts the final touches on its property reappraisal increases, the city of Columbus expects its property tax revenue will jump by almost 29% next year, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther's proposed 2024 city budget released Thursday November 9th shows.

Columbus expects to collect $81.8 million in property taxes in 2024, up from $63.4 million that was budgeted in 2023. The city's total general fund budget spending is expected to grow to a record of just under $1.2 billion.

The reason for the surge in property tax revenues is the gain that the city expects to realize from the reappraisal, with new bills going out in January, a city budget department spokesman said. In 2022 and 2023, property tax collections increased by only single digits.

Franklin County home values are set to rise a record 41% in this year's reappraisal, double the previous record of 20% set in the county's previous reappraisal in 2020.

Columbus' income tax of 2.5%, which provides the bulk of its general budget revenue, is expected to increase 3% next year to $872.3 million.

Spending on the city Department of Public Safety, the largest general fund category that includes police and fire protection, would grow about 3.2%, or $24.4 million, to $753.2 million, under Ginther's proposed budget.

During a Thursday morning news conference, held before the actual 408-page budget was released by the mayor's office, Ginther said the increase in public safety spending would fund three new police and fire recruit classes each that could add up to 150 new police officers and 150 new firefighters next year.

However, the city also planned three police classes for 2022 and 2023, and things didn't work out as planned, with the number of new recruits signing up being significantly lower than in previous classes, The Dispatch reported in July. A class of 34 Columbus police recruits graduated July 14. Another class of 48 officers began training at the police academy in August. The third class is set to begin in December.

The budget document shows the number of uniformed police officers in Columbus dropping next year by 16, to 1,980. But the Public Safety Department said numbers from 2022 and 2023 were revised down each of those years because of increased retirements, and 1,980 officers for next year is actually a year-over-year increase of about 75 officers.

Whether the Division of Police can recruit a full complement of 150 new police officers next year remains to be seen, said Glenn McEntyre, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

The police division is also budgeting for 10 new officers it expects to recruit from other police departments around the state.

The struggle to fill budgeted police positions comes amid an announcement last week that the police division would begin for the first time providing a full-time security detail of three sworn officers to protect members of City Council when they are out in public — beyond officers stationed at council meetings.

Council President Shannon Hardin has maintained the detail would not only protect council members but also the public. Previously, only the mayor and police chief have had security details.

The city expects that council security detail members would at least initially be rotated out by 60 days to fall under the city's contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, which has filed a grievance arguing that any such detail assignment over 60 days must be negotiated with the union.

The Dispatch reported last week that Columbus taxpayers initially will pay $315,314 per year to the detail, which could grow as officials determined the right number of officers needed to protect council members at public events, and potentially while they are off the job shopping, going to movies and or out to eat.

Hardin said last week that the Division of Police would decide how many officers are ultimately needed.

The mayor's proposed budget now goes to City Council for consideration, any changes and final approval.

Asked at the news conference if the mayor would commit to having three police recruit classes a year beyond 2024, Ginther — who was reelected to another four-year term Tuesday after a campaign focused on improving public safety — said he would only commit to do as many classes "as we can afford."

Other highlights in the proposed budget, according to Ginther, are:

$19.2 million to continue expanding affordable housing options across Columbus

$21 million for summer, after-school and jobs-readiness programming to keep Columbus youth safe, active and engaged

$10 million in human services grants for 112 social service organizations that provide support for vulnerable residents and neighborhoods

An expected balance of $101 million in the city’s "rainy day fund" by the end of 2024

Click this link to download a PDF and view the entire proposed 2024 City of Columbus budget.


Monday, November 13, 2023
Jim Weiker | The Columbus Dispatch

Franklin County home values are set to rise a record average 41% in this year's reappraisal, led by a 68% leap in Whitehall.

The increase, fueled by a booming housing market, doubles the previous record of 20% set in the county's last reappraisal, in 2020.

"The raw number is eye-opening," said Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano, whose office conducted the reappraisal and who forecast the historic jump this spring.

"Knowing what the market has looked like, it’s very consistent. We continue this perfect storm of population booming, and housing that hasn’t kept up with demand, creating pressure on prices."

Stinziano's office found that the county's residential values rose 41% on average since the 2020 reappraisal, ranging from 17% in Grandview Heights to 68% in Whitehall and 70% in the Hamilton Local School District in the Obetz and Lockbourne area in southern Franklin County.

"We are so happy to see more people looking to call Whitehall home," said Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard, "Rising home values in our city is another sign that people want to live and thrive here. The City of Whitehall offers a variety of housing options that continue to grow."

County auditors are required to update property values every three years and conduct a full property-by-property reappraisal every six years, including this year. This reappraisal covers three boom years in the central Ohio housing market, fueled by COVID work-from-home demands, a rise in disposable income, and what were historically low interest rates before the Federal Reserve began raising rates about a year ago.


Stinziano emphasized that because of legal caps on property tax increases, a 40% rise in property values won't mean a 40% rise in property taxes.

"We want to remind everyone that percentage change in value doesn't mean property taxes will go up the same change," he said.

In the last reappraisal, average taxes rose 6% based on the 20% increase in values.

Stinziano said final values will be set in December, after the outcomes of some tax issues on the November ballot are determined.

Stinziano said proposed values of individual properties will be posted on the auditor's website Aug. 8. Homeowners will also be notified by mail later in August.


Homeowners who believe the auditor's valuation of their home is inaccurate can challenge the values starting in September. Stinziano reminded owners to present evidence such as comparable sales, an appraisal, or proof that the auditor's information on the home is inaccurate.

"When you look at your property, look at recent sales, valuations within your neighborhood, to see how your property stacks up," Stinziano said. "Homeowners can also provide photos. We don’t go inside the home so there might be conditions we aren’t aware of."

The auditor's Know Your Home Values website explains property taxes and how to challenge the county's appraised value, including how to find sales in the same neighborhood.

The auditor's office is also holding in-person meetings on property values. The next one is scheduled in Reynoldsburg (which saw values jump 50%) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on July 13 at the Reynoldsburg Senior Center, 1520 Davidson Drive. The other remaining one listed is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Columbus Metropolitan Library Parsons branch, 1113 Parsons Ave.

Homeowners may also challenge their property values in Board of Revision hearings in the spring.


Franklin County agricultural land rose 40% in value; commercial, 19%; industrial, 14%; and exempt, 10%. In all, the value of property in the county rose 35% from $145 billion in 2020 to $195 billion at the end of last year.

Valuations tended to show the biggest percentage gains in less-expensive areas. In part, that’s due to math: Those areas are starting from lower figures. The increase also is an indication of the enormous demand for affordable homes that has driven buyers in recent years to communities such as Whitehall, Obetz and Reynoldsburg.

Here's where home values rose in Franklin County, by school district:

Hamilton, 70%

Whitehall, 68%

Groveport-Madison, 61%

Jonathan Alder, 58%

Reynoldsburg, 50%

Southwestern, 48%

Columbus, 48%

Canal Winchester, 47%

Licking Heights, 47%

Olentangy, 45%

Teays Valley, 41%

Pickerington, 41%

Westerville, 38%

New Albany-Plain, 36%

Worthington, 35%

Gahanna-Jefferson, 35%

Madison-Plains, 35%

Hilliard, 34%

Dublin, 32%

Bexley, 27%

Upper Arlington, 26%

Grandview Heights, 17%


Tuesday, November 7, 2023, update Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Geauga County Commissioners this morning announced in Agenda Item 17 that the 3.120 acre Chardon Public Square Plat containing the Chardon Courthouse will undergo “ Re-Survey and Lot Split for the Geauga County Commissioners and the City of Chardon.”

The City of Chardon Planning Commission in its PC#23-209 on October 24, 2023 authorized “concept plan approval to allow for the lot split on Chardon Square” into the 1.379 acre North Parcel containing the original courthouse and parking spaces and the 1.741 acre South Parcel with the gazebo and sugar shack. The North Parcel with the Courthouse and its $15 million additions/improvements will be part of Parcel 10-709526 and the sugar shack and gazebo will be part of Parcel 210-702500,

Chardon City Council’s approval of the lot-split has paved the way for the historic courthouse to be purchased and owned outright by the Geauga Board of County Commissioners.

Just breezing through Item 17, Commissioners took County Administrator Gerry Morgan and Assistant County Administrator into a 45 minute Executive Session ending at 10:50 am.

The split of Chardon Square is part of a bigger central plan authorized by Judge David Ondrey. The remaining plans involve purchase of the parcel once housing the Dollar General and a refitting of the Chase Building, which Commissioner Dvorak identified as a site with 70 parking spaces and enough space on the first floor to house the Law Library.

Commissioner Lennon referenced the future Chase building property as a positive outcome of “working with the City of Chardon for good, productive tenants” as well as “opportunities for weekend retail opportunities” in the ongoing attempt to “get down to two county campuses.”

Ralph Spidalieri referenced the public acquisitions and dispersals as the result of the necessity “to make decisions” that will “at the end of the day” result in less than the original “$400 per square foot original investment” in the 12611 Ravenwood Drive, Office Building. Spidalieri did not reference the multiple litigations, construction adjustments, and delays in his $400 per square foot original construction costs. Becoming almost glib, he announced that sale prices will “exceed the continuing costs” incurred by the Commissioners. Most of all, the overall vision will be “good for years to come.”

In the meantime, Commissioner Candidate Carolyn Brakey, Esq., sat quietly taking notes. Attorney Brakely has been widely observed attending recent county events, even gathering a petition with 450 signatures of Geauga taxpayers opposed to a massive inside millage revaluation that will grossly increase their February 21, 2024, real-estate payments to County Treasurer Christopher Hitchcock.


Published Saturday, November 4, 2023

It all started back the end of September when Treasurer Chris Hitchcock gave his quarterly investment

report to two of the Geauga County Commissioners: “We’ve got all the money we need, but wait until the second-half 2023 real estate bills arrive in early January. People will be livid! We’ll be as gentle as we can, and we will extend the due date to January 21.”

What in the world? Paying Geauga County real estate taxes has NEVER been pleasant, but why will the taxes we pay by February 21 be such trauma? Hitchcock explained that the February 21, 2024, payment will reflect the results of an 18 month revaluation of inside millage ordered by the State Auditor. Geauga County is one of 28 counties whose residents, we are told, will howl and grown in grief over the 30% increase in residential real estate values, largely based on wildly spiraling sales prices for any available homes, often going for thousands above the initial asking price. The job of the County Auditor’s Department is to document these skyrocketing prices and revalue nearby homes based on the inflated sales prices of residences in the area over the years 2020, 2021, 2022. Read it and weep.

There have been tough times before, but according to the commissioners, tax year 2023 presents an unparalleled burden for its real-estate taxpayer. It would not be so bad if there was enough money to pay off all the bills and have a little extra cash left for a rainy day. . .

Auditor Walder, along with 27 other county auditors, never expected the so-called inside millage to be inflated this quickly and this profoundly. Starting about mid October, the Auditor’s staff has held two evening meetings, both very well attended. At the first meeting, October 19th, Auditor Walder explained that the process of raising the valuation of inside millage during the sixth year or sexennial of the budget cycle, in this case, following three years of wildly increasing prices that buyers are willing to pay for the opportunity to be buyers rather than renters of real estate at a time when the costs of necessary goods and services (i.e., food, monthly utilities) keep increasing when one’s individual paycheck is not increasing.

According to Auditor Walder and his staff at the first public meeting, a a letter from the County Budget Commission went out October 19 to all local township government as well as to local school systems. Township and municipal governments have received a 30% windfall. Local school districts have automatically achieved a 45% increase, courtesy of the State Auditor, without expending any effort and without requiring any voter approval. Likewise, county inside millage just assumed a 25% increase, like holding the prize lottery ticket.

When Flaiz, Walder, and Hitchcock showed up on October 24 to meet with the Commissioners to warn about the unprecedented crises that might result from voting in new levies for institutions that have received windfalls without voter approval. Commissioners expressed their understanding of the squeeze upon Geauga seniors, roughly 25% of registered Geauga voters.

The Budget Commission returned to address Commissioners October 31. Commissioners officially suspended, at least for one year, partial collection of the .7 mill and .5 mill JFS levy, with the understanding that any financial shortfalls to the department will be eliminated by direct deposits from Geauga County’s General Fund until the economic anxiety and instability has a chance to calm down with the help of County officials.

Additionally, the Wednesday, November 1, special meeting of the Budget Commission, from 7-8:10pm, drew a huge group of Geauga local elected officials from townships and villages. Perhaps in response to the written communication sent them by the Budget Commission, many expressed vocally their desire to help alleviate the pain for the taxpayers, who would see their first real-estate taxes as early as the first or second week of January 2024, payable by February 21, 2024. The concern overall is that Geauga taxpayers, credited during normal financial times with 98% collection, might find it harder to pay for the approximately 30% rise in inside millage, mostly because goods and services costs are increasing all at once so the problem becomes one of finding some obligation –health insurance, medicine, food, home maintenance costs, etc.-- that the taxpayer can temporarily put off so he/she can pay the real-estate tax bill: finding the path that will dodge the rock and the hard place.

While County government administration takes 25% of inside millage. Township government administration is allotted 30% of the inside millage budget. By far and away, the biggest beneficiary of inside millage are local school districts, like Berkshire, Cardinal, Chardon, Kenston, West Geauga, and Chagrin Falls. The latest calculations we saw, as of the November 1 meeting, demonstrate that all of the above districts now have a lot more padding than they did before the sexennial revaluation without needing a simple majority of the voting public and without extending any more effort. We understand that Berkshire is better off by about $406,000; Cardinal, by about $343,000; Chardon by $809,000; Chagrin Falls LSD by $339,000. The two giants, West Geauga, and Kenston, are both better off by over $1,000,000.

Although Walder explained that West Geauga (Chesterland) had already reached out to cooperate and to help mitigate the pain to its property-tax payer and he hoped that the other school districts would reach out to become a part of the role models for other school districts across the state, he also acknowledged that local school districts might be less willing to follow the examples set by Geauga County and many local governments. The problem is that school districts get 45% of the windfall inside millage.

Flaiz promised that if entities who received the windfall would agree to help the burdened taxpayers by suspending payments, one year at a time, of levies issued after 2015, Geauga County just might avert an avalanche of unhappy taxpayers with absolutely no say in the State Auditor’s revaluation.

Check your local township and village public meetings, as well as your county public meetings. Geauga Commissioners meet at 9:30 am on Election Day at 12611 Ravenwood Drive, Suite 350 (third floor). Show them that you care. Show up on Election Day to vote at your polling place, but let your elected officials know that you understand the seriousness of taxation without representation.

See you there! Don’t let government bureaucracy in Columbus kill the goose that lays the golden egg-- the taxpayer.


Saturday, November 4, 2023
By Ben Terangi

“We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

So said Jen Psaki, then-White House press secretary, in July 2021. They were words that would return to haunt the Biden administration and its sprawling network of faceless federal thought police.

Over two years later, the highest court in the land has agreed to hear arguments in Missouri v. Biden, the bombshell case brought against the Federal Government and its agencies first triggered when Psaki belled the cat.

The latest news makes it harder to deny that President Joe Biden’s White House violated the First Amendment by pressuring Big Tech platforms to silence content — much of which was factual — that simply proved inconvenient to their Covid-era agenda.

Topics that were muffled by the Biden administration include “the COVID–19 lab leak theory, pandemic lockdowns, vaccine side effects, election fraud, and the Hunter Biden laptop story,” per the original lawsuit.

“The United States Supreme Court has granted cert in Missouri v. Biden — the nation’s highest court will hear the most important free speech case in American history,” Eric Schmitt announced on X (formerly Twitter) last week.

As then-Attorney General of Missouri, Schmitt was one of two AGs to act as plaintiffs in the case on behalf of their states, the other being Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana. Joining them as litigants were five other individuals, mostly medical doctors.

Too plentiful to recount here, the long list of defendants begins with President Biden and his current press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, before taking in a swathe of U.S. federal departments and dozens of officials.

The Supreme Court’s announcement comes as a mixture of good news and bad for defenders of free speech.

The bad is that, before examining the full record of the case, SCOTUS granted the Biden legal team’s application for stay, effectively allowing them to resume colluding with Big Tech platforms until the case is heard by the bench next spring.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented in the 6-3 ruling, arguing, “Government censorship of private speech is antithetical to our democratic form of government, and therefore today’s decision is highly disturbing.”

“At this time in the history of our country, what the Court has done, I fear, will be seen by some as giving the Government a green light to use heavy-handed tactics to skew the presentation of views on the medium that increasingly dominates the dissemination of news. That is most unfortunate,” they added.

The good news is that the current makeup of the Supreme Court makes likely the success of a landmark free speech case whose merits have so far proven strong, as evidenced by the decisions of lower courts.

As reported by Mercator back in July, Louisiana judge Terry Doughty conspicuously used the United States’ national holiday — a day when federal rulings are rarely issued — to release a blistering 155-page ruling against Biden and his co-belligerents.

“If the allegations made by Plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,” the judge fired in his very first paragraph.

“The evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario,” added Judge Doughty, who was an appointee of former President Donald Trump.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’.”

Doughty’s July ruling prohibited numerous executive branch officials from contacting social media companies to collude in censorship of American citizens.

The Biden legal team took Doughty’s ruling to the court of appeals in September and managed to narrow the scope of the preliminary injunction.

Even so, as reported by the New York Post, “A three-judge panel found that the White House, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI; likely coerced or significantly encouraged social-media platforms to moderate content’ and in doing so, likely censored free speech.”

It is about time President Biden and his censorious allies suffer legal defeat for their shameless suspension of Americans’ First Amendment rights, and wear all of the embarrassment that comes with such a ruling.

Until then, it will be a nervous wait to see if sanity prevails in the Marble Palace.


By Hans Bader
Saturday, November 4, 2023

Electric vehicles require enormous damage to the environment just to produce their batteries — 250 tons of mining is required for a single battery, according to Real Clear Energy. Switching to electric cars would require a radical expansion of mining across the world, and the minerals for the car batteries will be refined mainly using the coal-powered electric grid of China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Yet states are starting to mandate electric vehicles. Nine states, including California, have now decided to ban gasoline-powered cars by 2035, requiring that all cars sold be electric instead. In 2021, Virginia’s Democratic-controlled legislature passed a law adopting California standards for Virginia vehicles, so Virginia also will ban gasoline-powered cars in 2035, unless that law is repealed, as Republicans seek to do (the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates voted to repeal the ban on gas-powered cars in 2023, but the Democratic-controlled Virginia state senate kept the ban in place).

Real Clear Energy describes the challenges of switching to electric vehicles (EVs):

a typical EV battery weighs about 1,000 pounds…That half-ton battery is made from a wide range of minerals including copper, nickel, aluminum, graphite, cobalt, manganese, and of course, lithium. And to get the materials to fabricate that half-ton battery requires digging up and processing some 250 tons of the earth somewhere on the planet…80%–90% of relevant minerals are mined and refined outside the U.S. and E.U. and will be for a long time regardless of subsidies. And, since China refines 50%–90% of the world’s suite of energy minerals for EVs, it’s relevant that its grid is two-thirds coal-fired—and will be for a long time.

Moreover, compared to building and fueling a gasoline-powered car for a ten year period, an electric vehicle “entails a ten-fold greater extraction and handling of materials from the earth, and far, far more acreage of land disturbed and, unfortunately, often polluted….the mines operating and planned can’t supply even a small fraction of the 400% to 7000% increase in demand for minerals that will be needed within a decade to meet the [electric vehicle mandate]. What’s relevant is that the IEA [International Energy Agency] has told us we’ll need hundreds of new mega-mines, and that it takes 10 to 16 years to find, plan and open a new mine.”

Since most of these mines will not open before 2035, the minerals needed for electric car batteries will be in increasingly short supply as 2035 approaches, causing price spikes for car batteries, which typically cost up to $20,000 in 2022. That means the price of electric vehicles, which typically cost more than gasoline-powered cars, could skyrocket. Real Clear Energy’s conclusions are echoed by The Guardian, which notes that a “transition to electric vehicles” in the U.S. “could require three times as much lithium as is currently produced for the entire global market, causing needless water shortages…and ecosystem destruction.”

It is sometimes claimed that electric vehicles result in less emissions of greenhouse gases than gasoline-powered cars. But this claim is based mostly on flawed studies that assume electric car batteries are smaller than they in fact are, radically understating their environmental footprint and the greenhouse gases emitted to produce them.

As Real Clear Energy explains, “nearly all studies making emissions claims are worse than guesses,” typically cherry picking “low numbers” for battery size:

A meta-study of 50 different technical studies found the estimates of emissions varied by over 300%. And, worse, that analysis exposed the fact that most emissions claims were based on assuming use of a small 30 kWh battery. That’s one-third the size of batteries actually used in most EVs. Triple the battery size and you triple the upstream emissions – and you triple the demand and thus price-pressure for the minerals.

A “net increase in global emissions” could easily result from the transition to electric vehicles, it says. That is because the mining needed for car batteries would not only expand massively, but require mining low-grade ores that require enormous amounts of energy and greenhouse gas emissions to dig up and process:

Geologists have long documented that ore grades have been and will continue declining. That’s because global ore grades are declining – for the non-cognoscenti, that means for each new ton of mineral there’s a steady and unavoidable increase in the quantity of rock dug up and processed. A decrease of just 0.4% in copper ore grade will require seven times more energy to access the copper.

If a significant fraction of motorists switch to electric vehicles, that could strain the power grid. CNBC says that when “half of all new cars sold in the U.S.” are electric vehicles, that may “put a major strain on our nation’s electric grid, an aging system built for a world that runs on fossil fuels.”

In states like California and Virginia, all new cars sold in 2035 will be electric vehicles, posing an even greater risk of straining the electric grid. As Real Clear Energy points out, the infrastructure needed for “EV fueling stations is greater than it is for” gas stations. Because EV charging takes longer than filling a gas tank, “long refueling times will translate into long lines at EV fueling stations as well as the need for five to 10 times more charging ports than fuel pumps.” Moreover, EV fueling stations will have “staggering requirements for grid infrastructure upgrades. Today roadside fuel stations have the electric demand of a 7-Eleven; but convert those to EV fueling station and every one of them will have the electric demand of a steel mill – and highways will need thousands of them.”

Electric vehicles will also place a strain on transportation infrastructure. They are much heavier than gasoline-powered vehicles. As Axlewise explains, “The average EV battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Some batteries weigh more than 2,000 pounds. The heaviest EV battery is the Hummer EV battery, which weighs around 2,923 pounds.” One study found that electric vehicles place more than twice as much stress on roads as gas-powered vehicles. That means more cracks in the pavement.

A convoy of electric trucks could cause a bridge to collapse, even if it could handle being packed with gas-powered trucks. This May, the Telegraph reported that the “sheer weight of electric vehicles could sink” some bridges in England.


Zachary Stieber
Saturday, November 4, 2023

A primary election in Connecticut has been overturned by a judge, who said the evidence presented was "shocking."

The Sept. 12 Democrat primary for the race to become Bridgeport's mayor included thousands of absentee ballots. John Gomes, one of the candidates, presented evidence indicating some of the ballots were cast fraudulently.

State law enables absentee voting but contains multiple rules, including that a person who helps distribute more than five absentee applications must register with the town clerk as a distributor.

Wanda Geter-Pataky is a city worker who supports another mayoral candidate, the party-endorsed Mayor Joe Ganim. She and Eneida Martinez, another supporter of Mr. Ganim, did not register as absentee ballot distributors or sign any applications, which is required if they assisted voters, nor were they designated by absentee voters to drop off absentee ballots.

Both women were captured on video dropping off multiple absentee ballots, on multiple occasions, into drop boxes. They each declined to testify during the fraud trial, asserting their Fifth Amendment rights.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge William Clark said on Nov. 1 that the conduct on the video "represents multiple violations" of state law governing absentee voting.

Given the violations, the judge said he was "unable to determine the results of the primary." He ordered a new primary election.

In the primary, Mr. Ganim received 4,212 votes, 251 more than Mr. Gomes. Mr. Ganim's total included 1,564 absentee votes, compared to 861 for his challenger.

Under Connecticut law, candidates are able to ask for a new election based on "a mistake in the count of votes cast" or having been "aggrieved by a violation" of state law.

The judge did not schedule a new primary but ordered the city and Mr. Gomes to confer and propose a date.

Denies Involvement

Mr. Ganim has served nearly seven terms as Bridgeport's mayor. He was convicted on corruption charges in the past.

In a statement after the video was made public, Mr. Ganim said he wanted to "state unequivocally that I do not condone, in any way, actions taken by anyone including any campaign, city, or elected official, which undermines the integrity of either the electoral process or city property."

During the case, he testified that he was not involved in the scheme.

Mr. Ganim also said that he was "shocked" by the video evidence.

“Mr. Ganim was also correct to be ‘shocked’ at what he saw on the video clips in evidence that were shown to him while he was on the witness stand,” Judge Clark wrote in his ruling. “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties."

City officials had argued that absent testimony from the voters themselves, the primary should not be overturned.

The judge said that argument amounted to asking the court "to ignore the significant mishandling of ballots by partisans that were caught on video flouting the mandatory provisions of Connecticut law."

He added: "To do so would undermine the clear intention of the statutes which specifically prohibit such ballot contact and would endorse this blatant practice of ballot harvesting. It would also endorse the illegal conduct engaged in by these partisan actors and the improper counting of invalid votes."

Mr. Gomes welcomed the ruling in a statement.

"Today, Lady Justice fulfilled her duty. She attentively heard the voices of the people of Bridgeport, carefully considered the facts, and impartially applied the law, as justice should always be served," he said.

"The victory today belongs not only to me as the Plaintiff but to all the people of Bridgeport who were wronged in the numerous ways detailed in Judge Clark's remarkable decision. Today, democracy prevails," he added.

The city of Bridgeport could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Ganim said in a statement that the decision was substantial and that he would "wait to be apprised by the lawyers as to whether or not they want to take an appeal."

"But what hasn't changed, and what's really important, is this November 7th, Tuesday, in the city of Bridgeport is Election Day," Mr. Ganim added. "It's a general election for mayor and all the municipal offices. I'm the endorsed Democratic candidate on the top line, and I'm asking everyone to come out and vote in this election. Let's send a powerful message that we want to keep the progress going in Bridgeport.”

Connecticut Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas, a Democrat, told news outlets in a statement she was pleased with the ruling.

“The Court’s finding that there was a ‘significant mishandling of ballots’ should be of great concern to all,” Ms. Thomas said. “Our office will continue to advocate for policies such as drop box surveillance, a Connecticut Election Court, and investment in voter education—all of which will strengthen our election system.”

Stamp Question

Mr. Gomes also challenged the stamp used by city officials when processing the ballots, because the stamp did not contain the required town clerk's signature.

The stamp is placed on the envelopes in which the absentee ballots are contained.

The clerk's office later alleged the stamp with the signature was damaged and not able to be used, resulting in the use of a more generic stamp.

The judge ruled that the stamp was in "substantial compliance" with state law despite the missing signature, finding that invalidating "virtually all absentee ballots in this primary would have far reaching impacts to disenfranchise voters, through no fault of their own."

Charles E. Walder

Chief Fiscal Officer


Wednesday - November 1, 2023, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Geauga County Office Building
12611 Ravenwood Drive, Suite A333-A334
Chardon, OH 44024

PURPOSE: Meet with Geauga County Local Government Elected Officials and support staff.
Discuss the 2023 Revaluation Inside Millage Increase.
Regular Business

Charles E. Walder, Auditor
Secretary / Budget Commission
October 27, 2023

cc: Board Members
Chagrin Valley Times
Maple Leaf
News Herald
Plain Dealer
Star Beacon
Bulletin Board


Courthouse Annex, 231 Main Street, Suite 1A, Chardon, OH 44024-1293
Direct Line: (440) 279-1600
FAX: Fiscal Office (440) 279-2184 * Real Estate/ Appraisal (440) 286-4359
Web site: http:/ / www.auditor.co.geauga.oh.us
Email: auditor@co.geauga.oh.us



October 27, 2023
By Dr. Mercola


In September 2023, Moms Across America (MAA) submitted food samples from 10 fast food chains to the Health Research Institute, a nonprofit laboratory that tests food for nutrient content, contaminants and toxins. Each food sample was tested for the presence of 104 of the most common veterinary drugs and hormones. You can read the certificate of analysis here.1

Fast food restaurants sampled included McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Dunkin’, Wendy’s and Domino's. Of these, only Chipotle and Subway tested negative for veterinary drugs.

This isn’t all that surprising, considering most chain restaurants rely on beef and chicken from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where veterinary drugs are routinely used. As explained by MAA:2

"Due to large, industry, confined animal feeding operation conditions, which include extremely close quarters, unsanitary spaces, and high incidence of disease, most of America’s nonorganic meat comes from livestock that is heavily treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, and an anti-parasitic which is also a known aviary contraceptive."

Six of the 10 fast food samples (Taco Bell, Dunkin', Wendy’s, Domino's, Burger King and McDonald's)3 contained a veterinary antibiotic ionophore called monensin, which is not approved for human use as it can cause severe harm. The sample with the highest concentration (Taco Bell) contained 0.64 micrograms (mcg). The "acceptable" daily intake is 12.5 mcg/kg of body weight per day.

Monensin also has a number of side effects in animals, including anorexia, diarrhea, depression, ataxia, degeneration of heart and skeletal muscles, necrosis and death.

The antibiotic narasin, which has the same side effects in animals as monensin, was found in 4 of the 10 samples (Wendy’s, Dunkin’, Domino’s and Starbucks). The highest concentration, 1.53 mcg, was found in a Wendy’s cheeseburger. The three others contained only trace concentrations. The "acceptable" daily intake is 5 mcg/kg per day.

Both monensin and narasin are toxic to dogs and horses and can cause paralysis of the hind legs at extremely low levels. They can also cause acute cardiac rhabdomyocyte degeneration and necrosis in beef and dairy cattle. The reason they’re used in cattle is because they encourage weight gain. MAA commented on these findings:4

"Moms Across America is gravely concerned about our population, especially children, unknowingly eating unprescribed antibiotic ionophores livestock, even at low levels, consistently because of potential damage to the microbiome as well as the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria growth.
We question if the side effects of these ionophores in dogs and horses, leaving their hind legs dysfunctional, might be related to millions of Americans presenting with restless leg syndrome and neuropathy, conditions unknown to most humans just a generation or two ago ... Until proven safe, we urge our regulatory agencies, such as the USDA and FDA, to disallow the use of these drugs in our livestock."


The Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich was found to contain nicarbazin,5 an antiparasitic drug and fowl contraceptive that causes infertility in certain poultry, such as pigeons and geese. In fact, it’s used to control geese and pigeon populations.

In chickens, it’s used to control certain types of infections and fatten them up. Side effects of the drug include increased sensitivity to heat stress, degenerative processes in the liver and kidneys, and death.

In 2009, the British Soil Association sought to have nicarbazin banned in the U.K., as evidence proving the drug would not cause genetic damage, mutations, birth deformities or malformations was lacking. As a result, a European review board was unable to establish a safe level of residue in chickens and eggs.6


In September 2022, MAA also tested 43 school lunches for the presence of not only hormones and veterinary drugs, but also pesticides, heavy metals and nutritional content.10 The results there were even more concerning.

Ninety-five percent of the school lunch items had detectable levels of glyphosate, a carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting weed killer routinely used on GMO grains that has been linked to liver inflammation, metabolic disorder, cardiovascular disease and cancer, including liver cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.11,12

The highest levels of glyphosate were found in beef taco with soft wheat tortilla (286.77 nanograms per gram) and pizza (156.14 ng/g). As noted by MAA, these levels are highly concerning:13

"If consumed regularly, results with Total Effective Glyphosate above 25 ng/g could have harmful effects. These are levels that, if routinely fed to rats, cause them to show symptoms of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is life-threatening and is an epidemic in the USA. These levels of glyphosate in school lunches would be expected to have similar effects on children.
Levels lower than 25 ng/g can be expected to contribute to NAFLD and other pathologies because a child will eat more than one thing during the day that contains glyphosate, and the levels of glyphosate would be cumulative."

Other toxic pesticides found in the school meals include:

Thiabendazole, which has immune suppressing effects, was found in 27.9% of the samples.

Piperonal butoxide, present in 18 of the 43 samples (41%), is a developmental toxin that causes birth defects and neurodevelopment disruptions.

Pyrimethanil, detected at 595.04 ppb on an apple, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in animals.


Nine of the 43 school lunches also contained four types of veterinary drugs and hormones, and a shocking 100% of meals contained heavy metals at levels up to 6,293 times higher than the maximum levels allowed in drinking water. Levels ranged from 0.5 ppb to 94.4 mcg/kg.

The highest levels of heavy metals were cadmium and lead, found at up to 46.8 mcg/kg (cadmium) and 94.4 mcg/kg (lead). Meanwhile, most of the meals were "abysmally low" in essential nutrients. As reported by the MAA:

"An advisor has calculated the contribution that the sample food would make to a person’s nutritional requirements, assuming that they ate a 4 oz portion (standardly used in nutritional analysis) and assuming that this food contributed ¼ of their nutrition for the day.
‘The nutritional items are consistently very deficient in Copper and are also consistently deficient (but to a lesser extent) in calcium, potassium, and phosphorous. Magnesium, zinc, and manganese are deficient in many of the samples, roughly 50%. The only mineral that is consistently meeting or exceeding requirements is iron. That is good but it is not enough!’ ...
Without proper nutrients, our children’s brains will not function properly, and their bodies will not be developed as needed. Often children with learning and behavioral issues are deficient in just one or two minerals or vitamins; when those nutrients are added to their diet, their mental, physical, and behavioral issues subside. Even violent behavior is discontinued. Our children must have proper nutrient-dense food."


After completing the veterinary drug analysis on 10 fast food meals, MAA went on to test 21 fast food brands for essential minerals, and the top 10 brands for B vitamins.

"The testing was conducted out of concern for America's skyrocketing mental and physical health crisis," Honeycutt writes in her October 18, 2023, report.14
"Eighty-five million Americans eat fast food every day. Fast food companies often supply a significant portion of the 30 million school meals served to our children each day.
The quality of the food, including the contamination of agrochemicals and lack of nutrients due to toxic chemical inputs, contributes to our mental and physical health issues. One in five Americans have a mental illness, and 54% of our children have a chronic health issue.
For many impoverished children, school meals are the only food they consume each day. Numerous studies have linked toxins in the food supply and lack of nutrition to conditions such as autism, depression, aggression, suicide, and homicides. This report will ... disclose the mineral, vitamin B, and calorie levels in the top 20 fast food restaurants/ school lunch suppliers."

Based on the micronutrient testing done on school lunches in 2022 (above), you can probably guess what this nutritional testing revealed. The mineral content of the fast food tested did not meet the recommended daily requirements of calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron.

For example, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of copper is 900 mcg per day, and Chick-fil-A’s chicken nuggets contain just 1.4 mcg of copper per gram. To meet the RDA, an adult would need to consume nearly nine servings of nuggets.

Signs of copper deficiency include fatigue, poor concentration and low mood. Also, "children with autism and violent behavior often have an imbalance of copper," Honeycutt writes.


Even worse, zero amounts of vitamin B9 or B12 were detected in the top 10 fast food samples, and deficiencies in these B vitamins can lead to fatigue, digestive issues, heart problems, nervous system disorders and erratic behavior. Indeed, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is known as "the energy vitamin." Your body requires it for energy production.

It also plays an important role in neurological function, and deficiency can culminate in a range of mental health symptoms, from irritability and depression to dementia and even psychosis. You can learn more about vitamin B12’s role in mental health in this November 6, 2022 article.

Warning signs of B12 deficiency include brain fog, memory lapses, mood swings, apathy, fatigue, muscle weakness and tingling in the extremities. Unfortunately, B12 deficiency may not present itself for several years, so by the time you notice symptoms, you may be quite deficient.

The fact that NONE of the top 10 fast foods contained B12 is rather remarkable when you consider B12-rich foods include beef, seafood, chicken and eggs. Beef and chicken are staples in fast food, yet fast food beef and chicken provide no B12 at all! If that doesn’t convince you that fast food meat is nowhere near the same as grass fed organic meat, I don’t know what will.

Levels of B3 (niacin) were also abysmal. The RDA for women is 14 mg per day and for men it’s 16 mg. To meet that RDA, a woman would need to consume 333 servings of Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches (at a serving size of 210 grams) and a man would need to eat 380 servings.

Chipotle’s carnitas bowl with everything, which had the highest amount of B3, still requires you to eat eight servings if you’re a woman and nine servings if you’re a man, to meet your RDA of niacin. As reported by MAA:15

"On average, adults would need to consume between 64-73 servings of the top 10 fast foods to get proper vitamin B3 nutrition per day. Alternatively, a portion of liver (pasture-raised, ideally) or a can of tuna (SafeCatch) would supply enough vitamin B3 or niacin for proper nutrition for a day. Clearly, cheap fast food is not as cheap as it seems when one factors in the value of the nutrients provided in the purchase."

- Sources and References:

1, 3 Health Research Institute Certificate of Analysis
2, 4 Moms Across America October 9, 2023
5, 7 EPA Nicarbazin
6 The Poultry Site March 9, 2009
8 Science Direct, Nicarbazine, Detecting and Controlling Veterinary Drug Residues in Poultry
9 Zero Hedge October 13, 2023
10, 13 Moms Across America September 28, 2022
11 Berkeley Public Health March 1, 2023
12 Patient Power Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma February 13, 2023
14, 15 Moms Across America October 18, 2023


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

When Geauga Auditor Chris Hitchcock showed up about October 6, 2023, to report on how solvent Geauga County was standing with “plenty of cash,” it becomes apparent that he did not expect the month of October to produce documentation from the County Auditor’s Office that as a result of a windfall to beneficiaries of inside millage (County Commissioners Office, Township and Municipal Governments, and Local School Systems), there would be a need for the County Budget Commission ( Auditor, Treasurer, and Prosecutor) to reduce or suspend the devastating effects of increased property taxes without the ability to vote on such measures.

When the County Auditor called a public meeting on Thursday, October 19, 2023, to help property owners know the paths they can/should follow to get help from legislators from the State Legislature: Sandra O’ Brien, Sarah Fowler Arthur, Matt Dolan, Jerry Cirino, Steve Demetriou, he committed to those present that the three members of the Budget Commission would be on the agenda of the Commissioners Meeting of Tuesday, October 24. 2023. All three Budget Commission members appeared on behalf of Agenda Item # 10:

“The Budget Commission would like to discuss options to help mitigate the effect on taxpayers’ increased property taxes due to the 2023 Revaluation Inside Millage increase.”

Auditor Walder asked the Commissioners directly if they could act as a unified entity to suspend windfall/inside millage. He noted that Local School District attorneys can grab remaining increased inside millage at the end of the day .

Prosecutor Flaiz talked about the importance of maintaining an adequate inside millage, noting that many years ago Newbury Township trustees ran short of necessary funds as a result of inside millage that was misplaced or inadvertently forgotten when it was most needed by the township for necessary projects.

In the face of the looming crisis, which seemed to blow up about October 16, Walder acknowledged about half a dozen Geauga County townships which stepped up to the bat to help be part of the solution for Geauga property owners, who will receive their real estate bills in early January for payment February 21, 2024, at the latest without penalty and again in July 2024. Auditor Walder was quick to commend the Commissioners for any resolutions, for instance, suspension or reduction of levies presented to taxpayers on November 7, 2023, which would ease the “unprecedented” pain from such revaluation results for Tax Year 2023, which officially began on January 1, 2023.

Treasurer Hitchcock emphasized that in his public career in Geauga County he has never seen such a looming financial crisis because given the sheer steepness of the increased taxes due from parcel holders, there will be many who will risk a late penalty of at least 10% because they will be stunned and devastated with the severity of the increase, otherwise identified as usury. “We are all very busy, but this [impending real estate tax crisis] is of singular importance,” an unprecedented and unsustainable set of conditions in modern times. There will be a $9.6 million inherent tax increase without a single vote [of approval from the stakeholders or taxpayers].”

Ralph Spidalieri was ready with the number one question, which Chuck Walder chose to address:

“The County has [both] inside millage [ of 25% or 2.5 mills of total 10 inside mills] and the returns from the [6.75%]sales tax.”

Page 2 of the Auditor’s three-page handout titled 2023 REVALUATION EFFECT ON INSIDE MILLAGE demonstrated to all three Commissioners, County Administrator Gerry Morgan, and Deputy County Administrator Linda Burhenne that as a result of the revaluation effect on inside millage, Geauga County will have gained $2.407,800, pretty much correlating Treasurer Hitchcock’s early October Investment Observation that Geauga County is sitting on “plenty of cash.”

Walder expanded by clarifying the two levies on the November 7 ballot: Job and Family Services and the Department of Aging, apparently both of which will start being collectible in 2024. Although there are also a Department of Health Levy and a Mental Health levy, first collections will not be payable until February 2025. Of 30 levies on the Geauga County ballot, six are brand new.

Commissioner Lennon was first to indicate his approval to move forward ASAP, especially to provide some relief from school levies on the ballot. These will be collected to reflect the $4,342,700 increase in windfall inside millage to school districts [45% or 4.5 mills of total 10 inside mills].

Walder clarified that current school funding is unconstitutional and that those pro-levy administrators have demonstrated detachment for the pain that property owners will endure just trying to endure the new real estate payments and keep their heads above water.

Although Tim Lennon expressed concern for any negative impacts to JFS and Department of Aging if either/both levy issues are suspended or reduced, Auditor Walder indicated that at .5 mill, any suspensions or rescindments would help gain the credibility of Geauga taxpayers and went one step further: “We take responsibility.”

Treasurer Hitchcock indicated that a resolution from the Commissioners must be forthcoming by no later than November 15, 2023.

With Commissioner Dvorak’s conclusion that Geauga County, by its willingness to step in and help its taxpayers will be the poster child to prevent inside millage from incessant increase at the expense of its property holders, particularly those on fixed income, all three Commissioners seemed comfortable. Walder reminded the Commissioners that their individual 2024 real estate property taxes will be an uncomfortable burden.

Flaiz says he will draft the language necessary so that there will be total suppression of .5 mills and funding of issues through the General Fund.

The final conclusion was the healthy financial carryover for local schools. Although West Geauga and Chardon Schools were noted to be the highest recipients of carryovers, Kenston Schools are also noted to be flush with cash.

Interestingly, during the period of executive session(10:37am – 11:39 am) Job and Family Services Director, Craig Swenson, reflected total disappointment for not having been included within the Commissioners’ thoughts and inner circle, but waited until Commissioners returned to express his disappointment. Interestingly, Spidalieri assured him that it “is more important to be transparent” although during the first six months of 2023 as Commission President, he appeared to discourage more transparency than he could encourage by personal example.

Meanwhile, Craig Swenson steadfastly and respectfully addressed the Commissioners. “I had no idea that there would be any discussion about a JFS levy. I should have been part of the discussion. I believe I have a very good relationship with ADP. It is shameful that I have been blindsided. Gerry and I talk about these projects. It [being blindsided] was a kick in the gut.”

In the absence of the Budget Commission, Commissioner Lennon offered immediate support for Job and Family Services undertakings He pledged support going forward for any JFS levies.

Almost immediately, Spidalieri cut in. “The reality is we don’t agree with the revaluation. It is irresponsible to spend money just because you have it. If we can’t be flexible with JFS levies, we have to use [Department of] Aging levies.”

The transparency of today’s Commissioner meeting cut like a knife. In-person voting with personal ID occurs within two weeks on November 7.


Saturday, October 21, 2023 updated October 22, 2023

Per October 18, 2023, Press Release, the Geauga County Auditor, Charles Walder, and his staff, hosted about 50-75 Geauga County parcel-holders concerned about added real-estate taxes that will become payable to the County Treasurer on February 21, 2024, as a result of a State-Auditor mandated sexennial reevaluation due to about a 29% increase in Inside Millage. As a result of the inside 10 mills to operate local government (3.0 mills), county government (2.5 mills), and school districts (4.5 mills), voters will receive automatic increases in their real-estate bills, payable to the Geauga County Treasurer.

Auditor Walder, Prosecutor Flaiz, and Treasurer Hitchcock will personally attend the Tuesday, October 24, 2023, Geauga County Commissioner Meeting in an effort to see if there is a way for Commissioners to demonstrate their appreciation and respect for taxpayers by voluntarily cutting back or suspending collection of two Geauga County levies on the November 7, 2023, Geauga ballot: Job and Family Services and Department of Aging.


Additionally, we urge you to contact your local State Representatives, ask to have inside millage included in HB920 rollback. Return windfall taxes to the home owner:

Representative Sarah Fowler Arthur, House District 99, Office 614-466-1405

Representative Steve Demetriou, House District 35. Office 614-719-6998

Senator Jerry C. Cirino, Senate District 18, Office 614-455-7718

Senator Matt Dolan, Senate District 24, Office 614-466-8056

Senator Sandra O;Brien, Senate District 32, Office 614-466-7182

Charles E. Walder
Chief Fiscal Officer

October 2023


Chardon, Oh...…………………………………………………………………………. Geauga County

The Geauga County Auditor’s Office is hosting an open meeting for the public to discuss the notifications they will soon be receiving on their property values for the upcoming year. In Ohio, pursuant to R.C. 5713.01(B), county auditors shall reappraise every real estate parcel in their county once every six years.

These values were mandated by the Ohio Tax Commissioner based on the value of what you could have sold your property for on Jan. 1, 2023, based on comparable sales data from 2020, 2021, and 2022.

The Auditor’s Office will host a meeting to provide more information and answer questions about the tentative value and reappraisal process and how it will affect your property taxes.

The meeting will be held from 6-7 pm p.m., Thursday, October 19, 2023, at the Geauga County Office building at 12611 Ravenwood Drive Suite A333-A334 (3 Floor) Chardon, OH.

Please remember taxes will not increase at the same rate as property values however Inside Millage will. The 2023 property tax rates will not be calculated until after the November election is certified by the Board of Elections.

For more information, please contact the Appraisal Office at 440-279-1601 or email appraisal@gcauditor.com.

Courthouse Annex, 231 Main Street, Suite 1A, Chardon, OH 44024-1293

Direct Line: (440) 279-1600 FAX: Fiscal Office (440) 279-2184 * Real Estate/ Appraisal (440) 286-4359

Web site: http://www auditor.co.geauga.oh.usEmail: auditor@co.geauga.oh.us


Saturday, October 14, 2023

The feel-good portion of the Thursday, October 12, Geauga Commissioners meeting, permitted another dog to retire to the domicile of his handler, Scott Carpenter, for a flat $1.00, while attendees learned at last that Nick Gorris (fanfares of surprise and awe) at the hourly rate of $51.28 + healthcare benefits (fanfares of shock and awe) was officially the newest Director of Water Resources to assume smooth sailing of the turmoil-impacted Department of Water Resources.

Assistant County Administrator, Linda Burhenne, after smiling acknowledgment that a $201,570 grant availability was available only from October 2 until October 12 and hence, an exercise of “short notice,” offered to work with the director to apply on time for a $201,570 grant available from October 2 until October 12.

Thursday’s , meeting brought with it one-half of a marketing from Eliza Jennings, the new prospective purchaser of “The Weils.” Attorney Eugene Killeen, from Tucker Ellis, L.P.A., a long-time arranger of financial notes typically arranged to lower “the bottom line” for Eliza Jennings came alone for this meeting after his joint October 5th appearance with Richard Boyson, a long-time financial expert who has been both President and CEO of Eliza Jennings since May 2015. Commissioner Lennon continued his October 2nd questioning why it was so important for Eliza Jennings to get favored “acquisition costs” of 5.2% on the backs of the Commissioners instead of the conventional rate of 6.4%. Additionally, Boyson, at his only appearance, asserted that the new purchase would keep the current professional staff and be operated : the same way it has been operated in the past” before its current sale by Montefiore without any new construction or job expansion.

At Thursday’s meeting, the three Commissioners demonstrated that they had taken the time to investigate and discuss the “conduit financing” that Killeen kept suggesting benefited “community relations.” To his credit, Commissioner Spidalieri looked Killeen directly in the eye and noted

This visit follows requests on the part of Vision Development to develop 331 dwelling units on a 19-acre site formerly identified as Geauga Lake several weeks earlier as well as the disbursement of Geauga Transit to the monumental Lake Tran of Lake County, reported to already have a mass carryover. The latest request by Attorney Killeen and Jennings’ Chief Owner to reduce investment costs in a long-term federally-tax exempt instrument identified by Killeen as a single-holder brought Killeen back after a 10-day hiatus.

As Killeen approached the Commissioners directly after Executive Session regarding purchase/sale of public property, he found himself in more hostile territory than during the initial presentation of October 3, when he and his cohort explained that the availability of a kind of written guarantee or recommendation undertaken by County Administrator, would not make the difference between ability to purchase or abandon purchase of The Weils, formerly undertaken by Montefiore; instead such “advantage,” or “conduit financing” would save Eliza Jennings thousands of dollars over the life of the finance mechanism.

Incumbent Commissioner Spidalieri, over speculation that he was still desirous of of serving yet another term as commissioner, was apparently ready to ask the number one question.

Looking Killeen squarely in the eye,Spidalieri landed the right question at the right time. “We know what’s in it for you. What’s in it for us in Geauga County?”

When Killeen identified the backing by County Commissioners as “good public relations” with no further concrete example of any financial benefit for Geauga County, all discussion was ended, including the possibility of further discussions on Tuesday, October 24.

Commissioners’ Clerk Christine Blair indicated that she would relay the final judgment to Killeen and and Boyson.

In conversation after adjournment, Commissioner Spidalieri opined that he had not responded well to an attorney’s attempt to use high pressure/intimidation.

Next Commissioner meeting is Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at 10 am.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Auburn Township
Bainbridge Township
Burton Village
Burton Township
Chardon City
Chardon Township
Chester Township
Aquilla Village
Claridon Township
Hamden Township
Huntsburg Township
Middlefield Village
Middlefield Township
Montville Township
Munson Township
Newbury Township
Parkman Township
South Russell Village
Hunting Valley Village
Russell Township
Thomson Township
Troy Township


Wednesday, October 4, 2023.

Agenda Item Number 5 brought sighs of comfort and pleasure for both Sergeant Jake Smith and his long time loyal German Shepherd partner, Spirit. Resolution #23-167 made it possible for Spirit to continue his long-time loving relationship with Sergeant Smith for $1.

At age 12, Spirit’s eyesight has deteriorated with the development of age-related cataracts, but clearly he enjoyed his time in the highlight with Sergeant Smith.


Live long and in good health, Sergeant Spirit!


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

It was a year ago, September 21, 2022, to be precise, we printed a story about a window problem at the new Geauga County Office building. Today, October 3, 2023, while parking on the north side of the building, we happened to notice a repeat of the problem windows. Several on the first and second floor were showing signs of condensing water between panes of glass.

Our photo today is a window next to entrance 3 on the north side of the building adjacent to room B150. The one-year warranty that Administrator Gerry Morgan cited in 2022 is gone with the wind.

The windows on this building are faulty. Who is minding your tax dollars tonight?