Mouth can't help but envision Clevo City Hall last week when U.S. EPA inspectors trooped in to review the books at the city's health department. Their mission? Find out who's been screwing up at the Bureau of Air Pollution Control! Heh-heh, terror's gotta grip a room when it's invaded by an army that exists solely to find people screwing up. Shucks, this visit even prompted Mayor Mike White to launch into one of his frenzied flurries of maniacal mayhem. You know, where he starts pointing the finger and firing people.
Two days after the feds showed up, Hizzoner jettisoned his top two appointed bureaucrats at the Pollute-bureau. (Not to be confused with the old Soviet Politburo, comrades.) Two months earlier, the mayor expressed steadfast support for these two 'crats, and this was after the state EPA fingered the bureau for being lax on industrial polluters. Now Hizzoner's turned tail and replaced them with two people who've worked at the Pollute-bureau less than two months. And that ain't all. He ordered an audit of the finance chief and a disciplinary hearing for the health commissioner. Heh-heh. As we saw with the Hopkins purge a year back, Hizzoner's great at indicting the bank tellers after his fave customers have cleaned out the vault.
Hizzoner announced all this via a news release. And guess what--when a Plain Feeler reporter called for comment, like usual, the mayor didn't return calls. Ah hell, it's only taxpayer money. Do ya notice how this secretive silence on serious stuff contrasts with Hizzoner's penchant for targeted photo ops? When it's time to reinvent Al Lerner and market him before the adoring TV cameras, he's Johnny-on-the-spot. But when a reporter has questions on a significant issue, you can't even get a publicly funded PR flack to return the call.
The bottom line in this bureaucratic pollution-control charade is, those that can lobby key politicos get regulated a little, and those that can't get regulated a lot. The utilities and industrialists have lobbyists lurking outside every governmental chamber, so they're "da boss" here. Car owners have no paid lobbyists, so they get E-Check. Forget that car emissions have decreased far more than utility/industrial emissions. Former Guv George Voinovich did. Hell, even he knows that "da boss" signs the checks.
Any Port in a Scam
Evidently, Summit County Executive Tim Davis doesn't spend all his time in Germany. Last week, he found time to give his annual State of the County speech in downtown Akron. Nope, he didn't say anything about those five county folks who've pled guilty to corruption in the past six months. Well, maybe "This is not a dysfunctional government" was an oblique reference, but that's it.
His primary sales pitch was for increasing the powers of the Summit County Port Authority. Yep, that's the same port authority where the ex-treasurer just pled guilty to ripping off $45,000. In its five years of existence, the Port's lone duty has been to control sixteen miles of abandoned railroad tracks. Now Travelin' Tim wants the Port to "issue bonds" for that $200 million development proposed for Akron's Main and Market intersection.
Does that sound familiar, astute comrades? It does to Davis. He said this Port could do for Akron what the Cuyahoga County Port Authority did for Clevo and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hmm, does that mean he wants to create a publicly funded entity with private books that the public never gets to see, or simply create a river of red ink? Whatever the case, using a port authority to sell bonds is just a slick new way for politicos to get their hands on more dough and do some "creative financing."
Oh, and what about that Main/Market downtown development? It's the one where they want to move the innards of the historic Akron Civic Theatre and stick it next to a huge new movie multiplex. Oh jeez, government funding in the movie biz? Well, government stuck its nose in sports via stadium-building, and look at the marvelous effect that's had on ticket prices. Are you ready for $30 movie tickets? Hey, in Travelin' Tim's Tinseltown, maybe you can watch a movie from a $500 perch in a luxury box. They may let you fire up a cigar there, but you'd probably need a Personal Stogie License.
Oo-ee, it was like opening day at the State Fair down in Columbo all last week. Yep, the real Fair's in August, but it was showtime at the opening legislative sessions in the Statehouse. It's a time to introduce new bills, and all the legislators were out parading theirs like blue-ribbon prize porkers. We'll skip the few good ones and head straight for some overfed swine. Git yer forks out.
State Rep Kevin Coughlin of Cuyahoga Falls has an "asset forfeiture" bill to let the state confiscate the vehicle of anyone getting three DUIs in six years. Why not just jail anyone getting a third DUI in six years, and let his family have the car? They may even need to sell it to pay the drunk's bills.
Clevo Rep John Barnes introduced a bill to make all schools teach "personal responsibility" in high school. Ain't high school a little late for that? Once again, teachers have to waste time on something that's best learned at home, where at least you can lock a little brat in the john with only a dictionary for entertainment. With all this extraneous crap forced on our schools, no wonder nobody can read.
Here's a higher education proposal. Rep George Terwilleger of Maineville (it ain't on our Ohio map) has a bill to let students seek refunds from universities when their teachers don't speak English. Uh, is this such a widespread problem that we need a new law for it? If Mouth notices the prof is speaking Latvian on Day One, we're coming back on Day Two with a drop slip. Then we go pick up another class. No legal wrangling, case closed, Johnnie Cochran need not apply.
This last hog could make y'all squeal, cuz it sounds like a real life-or-death issue. Columbo Rep Pat Tiberi wants to make the Melrose apple our state fruit. Gee, why not a kumquat or a nectarine? This one could be in for a lengthy floor debate.