Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 Election Endorsements

For president: Barack Obama. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has faced a greater mess than Barack Obama confronted when he took office. Unlike FDR, Obama didn’t have three years to come up with solutions - the financial crisis emerged after he’d gotten the nomination. FDR used to compare the nation’s business people to an injured patient: “Some of these people really forget how sick they were. But I know how sick they were. I have their fever charts. I know how the knees of all of our rugged individualists were trembling four years ago and how their hearts fluttered. They came to Washington in great numbers. Washington did not look like a dangerous bureaucracy to them then. Oh, no! It looked like an emergency hospital. All of the distinguished patients wanted two things—a quick hypodermic to end the pain and a course of treatment to cure the disease. They wanted them in a hurry; we gave them both. And now most of the patients seem to be doing very nicely. Some of them are even well enough to throw their crutches at the doctor.” President Obama acted quickly to staunch the bleeding by passing both the stimulus and auto rescue packages. Then he achieved something which presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have tried and failed to do: push through comprehensive health care reform. Ironically, if the recession had been sharper and deeper, Obama might have an easier time of reelection. Too many Americans have forgotten the state of our nation four short years ago - not just economically, but how we were despised by much of the world for our misadventure in Iraq and embrace of torture. Many Americans have also forgotten how health insurers routinely denied important medical procedures, denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and tossed 18 year olds off their parents’ insurance. Many also have forgotten how credit card companies raised interest rates on a whim, without providing adequate notice. We have a long way to go to gain complete economic prosperity and international security - but anyone who thinks America is worse off today than in 2008 has their head in the sand. Joe Biden put it succinctly: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive [as is Chrysler].” Hopefully, a healthy majority of the American people will have longer memories and vote to reelect President Obama. But those with short memories need only look as far back as this week, and the President’s calm, resourceful leadership in responding to Hurricane Sandy. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, does not meet the character qualifications required to be President. With everything he's done, from bullying a student he perceived to be gay, his treatment of his dog, to his conduct as Governor of Massachusetts and his dishonest Presidential campaign, Romney has proved that, at best, he is a sociopath.

For United States Senate: Sherrod Brown. On the basis of the auto rescue package alone, Sherrod Brown deserves the gratitude of Ohioans - both in and out of the auto industry. Consider this: It’s not just those who work in the auto plants who benefited from the bailout, it’s those who work in the dealerships - the sales people, mechanics, and support staff; it’s the parts suppliers; it’s the vendors - who provide everything from food to toilet paper; it’s the local stores and restaurants; and it’s those who receive the money spent by all of the above. The auto rescue is a large part of why Ohio is ahead of the curve on the recovery. Brown has stuck to his principles, which - like them or not - are resoundingly liberal. Ohioans knew this from Brown’s many years in the House when they elected them to the Senate in 2006. He has never sold his vote to the highest bidder or the richest lobbyist or SuperPAC. Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel - backed by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS - has run the most mendacious campaign in recent memory, easily enough to disqualify him from public office.

State Issues

Issue 1 - Constitutional Convention: This issue pops up every twenty years. In the words of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Constitutional Convention would be a “grand waste of time“. No good would come of this convention, and the potential for mischief is great. It would take little effort for Bible-thumping gun lovers to flood the convention and enact amendments outlawing firearm registration, abortion, and public schooling. The proper way to amend the state constitution is via the established process of bringing the issue directly to the voters. Vote NO on Issue 1.

Issue 2 - Redistricting reform: Despite the scare tactics bandied about by Republican Super PACs, this initiative is a good thing. It would take the process of redistricting necessitated by the Census out of the hands of the legislature and make it the responsibility of an appointed, bi-partisan panel. Republicans would be in favor of this issue if Democrats were running the show. In a swing state ardently courted by Federal politicians, a more equitably balanced Congressional map will only enhance Ohio’s importance. The Gerrymandering done to Ohio’s districts this year is particularly egregious, and passage of Issue 2 ensures future redistricting would be more equitable. I strongly urge a YES vote on Issue 2.

Cuyahoga County Issue

Issue 108 - Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Levy: YES. Angry suburbanites have been voicing opposition to this levy on the basis of poor management in the past and, after all, the port is Cleveland’s problem. But if we’re going to embrace regionalism, we need to embrace regional solutions and abandon the specious notion that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are unrelated entities. Fact is, people from all over our county and beyond enjoy the river and benefit from the port. Greatly needed work, such as the repair of Riverbed Road, needs to be done, and in a time of declining state and federal assistance, this is the only way to pay for it. This levy would only cost $1.65/month per $100,000 in home value and its’ passage is a no-brainer.

South Euclid Issues

South Euclid City Confirmation Deadline Amendment: Yes. This issue provides for an important check and balance that is de-riguer in most cities but not in South Euclid: it merely requires that the city council must confirm or reject the mayor’s appointment of the law director.

South Euclid City Garbage Tax Amendment: No. This is merely another attempt by the same group of individuals who ran - and lost - in last year’s mayoral/council elections to enact the Tea Party’s stated goal: Starve the Beast. Constitutionally, we elect governments to, among other things, pass laws and levy taxes. If we feel the laws or taxes they have levied are unreasonable, we tell them so and they act accordingly (such as when the council reversed its decision to repeal the tax credit for residents who work outside the city in 2010), or we un-elect them.

School Levy:

Issue 115: The South Euclid-Lyndhurst school district has weathered some tough times over the last few decades. Declining population and enrollment have led to the demolition of several schools, while declining property values and the loss of state revenue have necessitated belt tightening. The previous operating levy was supposed to carry the district through another two years, but the district was able the make those funds last twice that long. After a brief drop into Continuous Improvement status last year, the district overall has returned to the Effective rating it has held for eleven of the last twelve years. The district’s previous superintendent, who was double-dipping while the district was sinking, has been replaced with a young a motivated superintendent: Linda Reid. She has stated that, while she welcomes a return to an Effective rating, she is not satisfied and wants to work to get the district into Excellent status. Some critics would contend that further improvements should take place before any such levy is granted. But the fact is, with the aforementioned cuts, the budget has already been cut to the bone, which makes further progress impossible. The additional cost would be $15/month per $100,000 in property value – the cost of two fast food “value” meals. I believe it’s time for our property owners – even those, like myself, who do not have children in the district schools – to step up to the plate and give superintendent Reid a chance. I urge a YES vote on Issue 115.