22 May 2017

[UPDATED AT 4:03 A.M. ON 24 MAY] THEY’RE LYING ABOUT QUICKEN ARENA DEAL—IT IS A FRAUD

1600 by Roldo Bartimole

NOTE: THIS UNFOLDING STORY IS STUCK TO THE TOP OF THE PAGE

NEWER, UNRELATED, STORIES DO APPEAR BELOW

[Updated @0403 on 24 May—Sam Allard is possibly the only working journalist in Cleveland: City Council President Kevin Kelley is on Trial, Whether He Likes it or Not.

[Councilman and Mayoral candidate Zack] Reed stated what he’d mentioned to Scene prior to the meeting: that after the afternoon committee meeting, he had ventured to the law department to clarify the petition rejection. In lieu of, or in addition to, a written opinion, Reed had said that he’d like to be briefed by the city lawyers who provided advice to Kelley. (This was initially a suggestion of councilman Terrell Pruitt.) Kelley had seemed to indicate that this wouldn’t be a problem. But when Reed asked for information of the law department, a city lawyer told Reed that Kelley had invoked attorney-client privilege and that Kelley would have to waive that privilege if other city councilpeople wanted to be briefed. It would be difficult to overstate Reed’s bamboozlement at this turn of events. Though he already knew the answer, Reed asked Langhenry if this was indeed the case. Had Kelley really invoked privilege?

“That’s right,” Langhenry said. [Statement obscured by crowd noise, though she seemed to legally endorse attorney-client privilege in this instance.]

Reed then asked Kelley directly if he would waive this privilege “and tell these fine people in the audience [statement obscured by crowd noise] … they want to know from you, Mr. President: What is the reason you rejected their petitions?”

Kelley was getting annoyed. The crowd, boiling over with accumulated boredom and anger, began to chant “We want to know!” Kelley then advised Reed that he was not on trial. “This is miscellaneous,” he said.

“SHAME!!! SHAME!!! SHAME!!!!” The chants from the crowd rose in volume and violence, and the meeting was thus adjourned. The referendum coalition and their allies screamed at Kelley as the council members and the Mayor’s administration gathered their things and processed out.

Kelley said he was not on trial — and he told Scene Tuesday that he’d be surprised if the opposition leadership hadn’t anticipated a legal challenge from the city. “This isn’t on me,” he said — but the impression one can’t help receiving was that he was, and that he is. He is perceived, despite assertions to the contrary, as the lone author of this latest obstruction of citizen action.

The rejection of the Q deal signatures has been called by some a “giant middle finger” in the face of the people of Cleveland and in the face of Democracy itself. And whether it was Kelley, or the Clerk, or some other unseen force at City Hall, at least 20,603 citizens hopped up on activism are mad as hell.

Shame indeed.]

[Updated at 0738 on 23 May—Comment from Roldo:

I think the way to teach a lesson would be for someone to start a recall of the mayor. It’s his law department along with Council’s obscenity.

I think of those 20,000 plus signers. They need some satisfaction.

Hear, Hear! JH]

[Updated at 0710 on 23 May—Due to the gravity of this story, I’ve decided to stick the piece to the top of Have Coffee Will Write for the foreseeable future. Newer, but not related, stories do appear below. JH]

[Updated at 0457 on 23 May—yesterday Cleveland City Council refused to accept the petitions containing the signatures of 20,603 Cleveland voters. Sam Allard, writing in City Council Rejects 20,603 Q Deal Petition Signatures on Questionable Grounds for Scene and Robert Higgs, reporting in City refuses to accept petitions on Quicken Loans Arena referendum for The Plain Dealer, have details.

Predictably, the ignorant and xenophobic comments to Higgs’s story—leading off with this gem from the cowardly troll 1awesome:

Rev. Jawanza Colvin and Rev. Richard Gibson most likely both fake ‘rev’.

are rife, but reasonable people are speaking out.

As of 0630 this morning, this comment was at the top of the queue:

It would not matter anyways even if they had accepted the petitions, the city never would have certified the signatures and when the group would appeal to the board of elections, those morons would have gone along with the lying filthy politicians. I know, I have been on the side of doing what is right only to have the politicians create a technicality and shut down due process, welcome to CORRUPT Cuyahoga County that is ran by liars and thieves whose sole purpose is to fleece the working people.

Roldo left this comment (and signed his name) on Allard’s story:

And they talk about Trump, Putin & Erdogon? Mere pikers to Kelley and Jackson.

Law Director Barbara Langhenry should resign immediately since this is under her domain.

Roldo Bartimole

This isn’t even close to over. JH]

Something in Cleveland stinks. Badly.

The Gund Arena—now Quicken Arena—cost $157 million to build. That was the overrun cost. Originally, they it said it would cost $75 million. We amazingly are still paying for overrun bonds issued by Cuyahoga County (till 2023).

But time for more!

The new façade for Quicken Arena will costs an estimated $140 million (more than the original estimated cost of the arena) with borrowing costs skyrocketed to $282 million. And they call it “citizen owned.” How quaint.

Something smells BAD.

What’s going on here?

What I’ve been trying to say for some time.

The media—led by the Plain Dealer and led by the nose by County Executive Armond and Mayor Frank Jackson—has been selling us dog meat for hamburger, if you know what I mean.

Here is my (our) problem: I’ve been trying to get the County to tell me exactly what the hell we taxpayers are buying. Details! What are we paying for? Is that so difficult? They have price tags.

Apparently it is tough, since for weeks I’ve not gotten the answer.

But I did get something that gives me serious pause.

This is NOT a mere upgrade of an older facility. That’s bogus.

This is a major project. This expansion will produce hefty profits—for Dan Gilbert alone. He doesn’t share a penny of its profits with taxpayers who are financing much of it.

The PD variously calls it a “makeover” or “upgrade” or “a striking $140 million upgrade to the Q Arena that dramatically alters the facility’s appearance…”

No, it is not just appearance advancement but a profitability one. That’s the key.

The PD says of the deal: “A $140 million reconstruction of the Q arena to modernize it with a glass front, public gathering spaces and dining areas that let you watch the game while you eat.” Sounds simple.

Yet this tells me that Betsy Sullivan, Chris Quinn, George Rodrigue are lying about the Quicken Arena deal they strongly back because if they even glanced at the figures they should know that it is a significant expansion of the facility with more than half being paid by the public. They want to be ignorant.

Here’s where it gets good.

Cuyahoga County did give me a few figures, not broken down. Recently, I gave you what the County is borrowing for this project. The plan is for the County to let three bonds: Bonds A—$35,000,000 (tax-exempt); Bonds B—$35,000,000; and Bonds C—$70,000,000 (latter 2 taxable). It notes the Cavs cash contribution will be $900,000 (how generous). Total: $140,900,000. No borrowing by the Cavs.

What’s of major interest to me and should be to you is another figure telling of “estimated uses” of those funds. One figure in particular—$14,600.000.

That’s a big chunk of dough.

It is marked: FF&E plus Technology.

This is an ADDITION to the arena.

FF&E means “furniture, fixtures & equipment.”

Without a breakdown of this FF&E, I go back to what this cost meant at then Jacobs Field. Just for a comparison. That $14.6 million is an astounding figure to me.

Gateway built the baseball stadium one large restaurant, the Terrace Club. It cost $5,155,893, over-budget, of course. At the time I wrote about it a marketing director of another downtown restaurant told me, “No other restaurant comes close to that (in seating).” It sat 900 people. The manager at Morton’s told me, “That’s absolutely huge.” Yes, and free!

In addition, the arena was built a more exclusive restaurant, then known as “Sammy’s,” and run by a former Gateway original board member. That restaurant cost $1,841,384 plus furniture of $178,750, and kitchen of $350,000 for a total cost of $2,370,134.

That’s a lot of money for two non-property tax paying restaurants but it still doesn’t match the $14.6 million.

That’s why I want a breakdown of the FF&E of $14.6 million. What the hell are they getting—not just a facade of glass.

What can we expect to give the money-grubber Gilbert?

“Technology” is included in the deal.

Does that mean giant TV screens to which fans can pay something near the price of admission to get into the sold-out arena itself? What’s the charge? How many different eating places will be offered?

Why does the city of Cleveland with its heavy population of low income people have to provide resources with a billionaire NBA owner?

Here’s some of what we bought for the baseball franchise: Tile in kitchen: $48,000; lighting fixtures: $78,000; carpeting in restaurant and bar: $54,455; Tile for bar: $28,000; Stone for restaurant: $26,550. And so much more. You can get more at Gateway Dines On Taxpayers.

This is truly disgusting that our Democratic leaders are presenting this as a necessary gift to a billionaire. Isn’t that what’s wrong with our system? Isn’t that why a guy like Donald Trump can attract working class voters?

Because they know they’re being screwed. Not the details as cited above.

But in their gut, they know.

This deal is an accommodation not only to Gilbert but to a certain strata of economic life here. This deal thumbs its nose at a substantial part of our city.

The danger of this accommodation is to a certain strata of economic life. This catering to the needs (really wants) of so-called millennials with money is destructive to the rest of the community—which is the most substantial part of our city.

Do you really care that much if we have more upscale restaurants downtown?

I wrote this letter to the Plain Dealer this week. It was rejected since I had had a letter published within 30 days.

I’d like to ask my Congresswoman Marsha Fudge why the owners of the Quicken Arena, which she says has some 200 “diverse events annually” and draws two million people a year, mostly from outside Cleveland, can’t pay their own costs instead of asking for welfare from Cleveland residents who mostly can’t afford to attend those events? How many other businesses can expect the taxpayer to build them a place of business and improve it on demand?

She’s a poor excuse for a Democratic Congresswoman. But what can you expect from someone who doesn’t need to worry about being re-elected?

By Roldo Bartimole…

24 May 2017

PIPELINES ARE LEAKING LIKE THE WHITE HOUSE…

0300 by Jeff Hess

So, most mornings I post one new pipeline story to my running Keep Carbon In The Ground page, but this morning my news feed gushered.

First up is this story from Taylor McKinnon at The Center For Biological Diversity—Public Records Sought Over Rover Pipeline’s Compliance With Environmental Laws. McKinnon writes:

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed four public records requests to state and federal agencies demanding disclosure of environmental compliance documents relating to the Rover pipeline in Ohio. The natural gas pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

Earlier this month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted construction of unbuilt pipeline sections and required a doubling of environmental inspectors after 18 spills were reported. One of the spills released about 2 million gallons of drilling fluid into a pristine wetland along the Tuscarawas River south of Akron.

“Wildlife, including endangered species, can’t afford more spills and environmental disasters,” said Taylor McKinnon, with the Center. “We rely on state and federal agencies to protect us from these kinds of incidents, but clearly that didn’t happen with the Rover pipeline.”

Today’s requests target records relating to Endangered Species Act compliance in connection with all phases of the Rover pipeline construction and operation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio EPA.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, 30 species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act live in Ohio, many of which are dependent on streams, rivers and wetlands that could be harmed by the pipeline or associated fracking spills.

The second story comes from Larry Stine reporting for television station WMFD in Mansfield, Ohio. Reading a prepared public relations release from Energy Transfer Partners (despoiler of both the Rover and Dakota Access pipelines) over video showing the rabid destruction of Ohio farmland sacrificed to ETP profits, Stine offers no new information, but provides a visual reminder of what we’re dealing with.

The third story moves west: Two More Spills for Dakota Access Pipeline where sieve, er pipeline, has dumped 104 gallons of oil on North Dakota land. Before you dismiss such a small amount, consider how you would feel if a pickup truck stopped in front of your home and a worker proceeded to open and dump 104 gallon jugs of used motor oil on your lawn. These spills add up.

23 May 2017

SOMEONE IS THINKING IN THE WHITE HOUSE…?

0300 by Jeff Hess

170523 tom tomorrow this modern world nixon trump bannon kisinger

Be sure to click through for the punchline…

21 May 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP: KNEE DEEP IN DEAD CANARIES

2300 by Jeff Hess


So, the impeachment discussions have begun and we need to carefully consider President Donald John Trump’s pocket ju-ju that Steve Bannon promised would protect him from removal from office: Vice President President Michael Richard Pence who operatives may have been setting up for a 10-year term in the White House from the get-go.

Writing in President Mike Pence? Dems should be ‘careful what they wish for’, experts say for The Guardian, David Smith explains:

The 22nd amendment to the constitution, Galen noted, stipulates that if the vice-president takes over with more than two years left in the term, he can only run for re-election once. If he takes over with less than two years remaining, he can run twice, raising the prospect of Pence serving as president for nearly 10 years.

Even our first impeached president—no, not this one, this one—held on for just a few days short of three years in office before being impeached and, like President William Jefferson Clinton, was found not guilty by the senate. Johnson, like Clinton, finished his term in office. Only one president, Richard Milhous Nixon, left office under investigation.

Tom McCarthy, reporting in What would happen if Donald Trump were impeached? for The Guardian, writes:

The president may… have broken his oath of office, according to analysis at Lawfareblog, whose top six analysts joined in a byline to write: “It’s very hard to argue that carelessly giving away highly sensitive material to an adversary foreign power constitutes a faithful execution of the office of president.”

The blog notes that allegations of oath violations have been central to every previous case of impeachment or near impeachment.

“Let’s not minimize it,” legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said on CNN late Monday. “Comey is in the wastebasket of history. Everything else is off the table. This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States. Let’s not underestimate it.”

The case against Trump was, to some minds, already strong. A campaign is under way to impeach Trump for allegedly violating constitutional bans on receiving certain gifts. Others have argued for an arcane application of constitutional law under which the vice-president and cabinet together might declare the president unfit to serve.

President Trump has now effectively shut down the Republican party wet dream trifecta of a Republican president working with a congress in which the party controls both houses. If this were a movie script, no one would look twice.

20 May 2017

I WANT A READING CHAIR LIKE THIS ONE…

0300 by Jeff Hess

170520 reading chair writer's rooms ahdaf soueifA cursory search on line did not turn up a reasonable facsimile of what wartier Ahdaf Soueif describes as his Victorian reading chair, but I think the chair, with a built-in book arm is near perfect.

19 May 2017

READING THIS WILL MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE…

0400 by Jeff Hess

Making people aware of a bad behavior makes people more likely to engage in that bad behavior. Our mothers were wrong: if everybody is jumping off the bridge, of course you’re going to want to jump off the bridge, even if doing so is blindingly stupid.

Yes, yes. I know that that is counter intuitive and makes no sense. But Oliver Burkeman, writing in When raising awareness backfires for The Guardian, makes the case:

The underlying issue here is a big headache for anyone involved in “awareness-raising campaigns”, and for anyone trying to solve a social problem: making people aware they’re doing something bad doesn’t necessarily make them more likely to stop. Sometimes, that’s down to the frustrating perversity of the human mind: for instance, there are some signs that scary campaigns against smoking or overeating backfire, not least because they make people anxious, and when smokers or overeaters get anxious, the first thing they do is… Well, yes, exactly. But often it’s simply because the greater the number of people engaged in a given behaviour, the less wrong it feels. Even campaigns against something as obviously criminal as domestic violence, research suggests, may prove similarly self-sabotaging: being an abuser feels less shameful when you know you’re not alone.

There is also more than a little oppositional psychology at work here. If you want someone to not do something, your first step ought not to be telling them not to do that. Burkeman gave me the headline when he concluded:

Consider this column an awareness-raising campaign about the limitations of awareness-raising campaigns. Which means I’ve probably made matters worse.

Make sure that you read the comments on this one. There are some possible insights into President Trump there.

Feck…

19 May 2017

THE PRESIDENT IS AWAKE… OMG! HE’S TWEETING…

0300 by Jeff Hess

Then there’s Seth Myers and Stephen Colbert

Time to start the Robert Mueller clock

18 May 2017

HAS MAYOR FRANK JACKSON’S MESSAGE BEEN
“DROP DEAD” TO CLEVELAND’S NEEDY?

1900 by Roldo Bartimole

170518 ford drop dead roldo daily news

For the past 10 years or so Mayor Frank Jackson’s message to Cleveland’s most needy neighborhoods has been seen by many as: Drop Dead.

Back in 1975 when New York City was on the brink of bankruptcy President Gerald Ford delivered a speech essentially offering no federal help to our largest city.

The New York Daily News the next day summed up his message with blazing front-page headline: Ford to City: Drop Dead. He lost re-election a year later.

That’s what Cleveland’s poverty neighborhoods have been hearing from Mayor Jackson by actions, not words: Drop Dead.

Jackson hails from likely the most impoverished inner city neighborhood but he’s concentrated—until very recently—on the downtown agenda of Cleveland’s corporate community.

Zack Reed, one of a number of his mayoral opponents in the upcoming September runoff election, has apparently gotten under Jackson’s thin skin.

So much so that the mayor, angered by Reed’s attack on his $2.3 million dirt bike plan—seems to have a raw nerve hit.

Indeed, when questioned by Channel 19 Carl Monday at a press conference the day following Reed’s attack on the floor of the Council regular meeting, Jackson seemed to lose it.

He called Reed a “pimp.”

The Plain Dealer reported: “He can say anything, whatever he thinks Continue Reading »

17 May 2017

SANDERS/KASICH: NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT…

0500 by Jeff Hess

17 May 2017

WHAT I (AND EVERYONE) DIDN’T LEARN IN SCHOOL…

0400 by Jeff Hess

I am fond of saying that I only learned on useful lesson in four years of high school and that was how to type (and I learned that for all the wrong reasons, primarily that I got to be one of only two guys in a class of girls). Public education is broken for many reasons and Ralph Nader has some observations on that idea.

Nader, in Schooling for Myths and Powerlessness, writes:

All over America, school children are completing another academic year before their summer vacation. This invites the questions, what did they learn and what did they do with what they learned?

I’m not talking about their test scores, nor the latest fads in rebranding education, like the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum that de-emphasizes the first two thirds of the old mantra—reading, writing and arithmetic. Rather, I am questioning what they learned about their real-world surroundings, about preparing themselves for life as citizens, workers, consumers, taxpayers, voters and members of various communities.

Not very much, sad to say. The same is true of my generation. Instead of receiving an enriching and well-rounded education, we were fed myths. All societies perpetuate lavish myths that enable the few to rule over the many, repress critical thinking and camouflage the grim realities. Our country was, and remains, no exception.

In school we learned that our country was number one, the greatest in the world. We sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” in music class. Being the “greatest” was neither defined nor questioned. We simply had a vague sense that “great” Continue Reading »

17 May 2017

WHAT’S IN THE PIPE IS THE PROBLEM, NOT LEAKS…

0300 by Jeff Hess

The increasing cadence of that annoying drip is becoming a pas de charge. Michael Schmidt, reporting in Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation for The New York Times, writes:

President Trump asked the FBI director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia. Late Tuesday, Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the FBI turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey.

Such documents, Mr. Chaffetz wrote, would “raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede” the F.B.I.

So, in my mind the question now becomes, do Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell prove their loyalty to the President—clearly an attribute the president highly values—or do they attempt what may already be the impossible: save some remnant of the Republican party?

Seth Meyers reminds us of the prescience of President Donald John Trump…

16 May 2017

BUT, BUT BENGHAZI, WHAT ABOUT BENGHAZI…!

0700 by Jeff Hess

From the newspaper that brought us Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Deep Throat comes Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and a source-to-be-code-named-later in Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador. Note that neither in the headline nor the body of the story does The Washington Post uses words like allegedly or reportedly. Miller and Jaffe write:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

From David Kochel comes this tweet:

John McCain probably revealed less to the KGB in 5+ years of torture at the Hanoi Hilton than Trump did in 5 minutes in the Oval.

Finally, Stephen Colbert had this to say:

16 May 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
ROGUE ETP PISSING ON OHIO AND OUR HISTORY…

0300 by Jeff Hess
Would you be pissed if this were your backyard?

Would you be pissed if this were your backyard?

My congressional representative Jim Bupkis* Renacci remains silent on the rogue fossil fuel company pissing on his constituents living along the scorched-scorched earth path of the Rover pipeline. This morning I learned two additional ways that Energy Transfer Partners is flipping the bird at Ohioans as workers gleefully bulldoze a path across the state, regardless of the wishes of property owners.

The first instance involves reneging on a payment to the Ohio Historical Society for leveling a historic home. Shane Hoover, reporting in Pipeline project owes $1.5 million, according to State Historic Preservation Office, but Rover vows to “vigorously defend itself.” for the Canton Repository, writes:

The Rover Pipeline hasn’t honored an agreement to pay for harm the project does to historic properties, according to the State Historic Preservation Office.

The dispute surfaced a week after state environmental regulators proposed penalizing Rover for construction mishaps and questioned whether the project is taking Ohio seriously as it rushes to finish the $4.2 billion natural gas pipeline.

In February, Rover agreed to pay the State Historic Preservation Office $1.5 million a year for five years. The money will fund statewide education for historic preservation.

Rover was supposed to make the first payment by March 1, but the bill remains unpaid, despite repeated contacts between the State Historic Preservation Office and Rover, according to an April 28 letter from the preservation office to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The letter was filed Friday on the FERC online docketing system.

The State Historic Preservation Office asked FERC, as the lead federal agency with jurisdiction over the project, to resolve the dispute.

“The matter’s now in FERC’s hands to decide what happens next,” said Emmy Beach, spokeswoman for Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society.

The second instance involves that reported $431,000 fine levied against Energy Transfer Partners by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for dumping millions of gallons of (watch the video) goop.

Turns out that the fine was more of a request. Tim Rudell, reporting in Ohio EPA Penalties With The Rover Pipeline Builder Must Be Negotiated for WKSU, explains:

A week ago, there were widespread reports that Ohio EPA fined the owners of the Rover pipeline for environmental violations during ongoing construction of the natural gas transmission system across northern Ohio. But the fine was more a matter of definition.

OEPA did tell Rover’s parent corporation Energy Transfer that it will have to pay a penalty, in addition to cleaning up recent spills in Ohio, and change a number of its practices.

However, it did so not by levying fines or issuing directives. It proposed “administrative orders” that may be binding, but only after negotiations. James Lee is a spokesman for Ohio EPA.

“A fine has not yet been levied against Rover. Ohio EPA’s proposed administrative orders direct the company to pay appropriate civil penalties for destroying a category three wetland in Stark County, and other air and water violations. That enforcement case is ongoing. And the company has an opportunity to respond.”

That means, course, that Ohio taxpayer time and money will be expended negotiating a fine that very well may never be paid.

Thanks Bupkis.

*After extensive searches, I have been unable to determine what Renacci’s middle initial stands for. Until I can find a reliable reference to Renacci full name, Bupkis will do.

Previously…

15 May 2017

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI (OH-16):
MEET ETP, THE ROGUE COMPANY PISSING ON OHIO…

0400 by Jeff Hess

If you were an Ohioan pissed off at those protesters in South Dakota supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the attempt to halt Energy Transfer Partners construction of the Dakota Access Pipe Line, then environmental karma is coming for your land. ETP has already had the first leak in the not-yet-opened DAPL and—surprise, surprise—dumped millions of gallons of goop on Ohio wetlands. How does the fossil-fuel company responded: with a big fuck you Ohio.

The Akron Beacon Journal’s editorial board, in Rover defies the state EPA, explains:

John Kasich long has insisted that he takes two views of the expanding oil and gas industry in Ohio. The governor likes the boost to economic development. He also says he wants the work done right, protecting public health and the environment. Of late, the state Environmental Protection Agency has backed up the latter view. It has taken an appropriately tough line with Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Rover Pipeline.

On Wednesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did its part. It ordered a halt to new drilling activity involving the pipeline, designed to travel through 18 counties, from Washington in the southeast to Defiance in the northwest. The commission instructed the Rover Pipeline to add environmental inspectors and hire an independent contractor to evaluate its work at the site where bentonite mud, a natural clay used as a drilling lubricant, spilled across 6.5 acres of a protected wetland near the Tuscarawas River.

Dumping a “natural clay” doesn’t sound all that bad, until you consider what we’re talking about wetlands where amphibious and aquatic life live and from where the Tuscarawas grows. How upset would you be if ETP dumped two million gallons of liquefied clay on your front lawn? My congressional representative (and laughable candidate for governor), Jim Bupkis* Renacci, has been silent on the pipeline that crosses his district.

Still, the company reported the spill—one of 20—and began cleanup procedures, so, that’s all good, right?

No. That’s where the fuck you comes in.

The expectation is that laying an underground pipeline across hundreds of miles will cause disruption. What the state EPA has seen with the Rover Pipeline is something much worse. Craig Butler, the agency director, views the company as in too much of a hurry, failing to heed best management practices, even demolishing a Leesville house under consideration for the National Register of Historic Places. [Then there’s the trees clear-cut before endangered bats could roost in them. Time is money. Chop. Chop. JH]

Butler told the Columbus Dispatch, “This is pretty systemic—that’s when alarm bells go off in my head.”

Of note, too, has been the defiance of Energy Transfer, Butler pointing to a lack of contrition, or adequate response to the state’s concerns. “They’re not taking Ohio seriously,” the director said. The company initially argued that its permits fall under federal regulation. It has talked about “inadvertent releases” as “a common part” of the drilling in the pipeline construction.

Yeah, and dogs peeing in the house is a common part of pet ownership, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the problem.

*After extensive searches, I have been unable to determine what Renacci’s middle initial stands for. Until I can find a reliable reference to Renacci full name, Bupkis will do.

Previously…

15 May 2017

A PERFECT MANTRA FOR WRITERS…

0300 by Jeff Hess

170515 tom peters mistakes fails writers mantra

Previously…

14 May 2017

THIS NEEDS TO BE A CHANGE MAYORAL ELECTION

1800 by Roldo Bartimole

It was eight years ago that I wrote this about Jeff Johnson:

The retirement of Glenville Councilwoman Sabra Pierce Scott should mean a return to city hall of Jeff Johnson. With a bit of humility Johnson becomes a strong future possibility for Mayor of Cleveland.

He’s got the guts for the job.

I also wrote of Johnson’s problem:

Johnson allowed his arrogance to throw him off the path of political stardom here when he was videotaped seeming to ask for campaign contributions for political favors. It was sleazy stuff to watch.

As he enters the race against Mayor Frank Jackson he’s been charged as not even being eligible to appear on the ballot because he was convicted of bribery.

Johnson counters that he was not convicted of bribery but extortion in 1998. Not a smart answer. He should stick to his right to run for office, as he already has done.

Johnson’s political career was revived by former Mayor Jane Campbell when she hired him as community relations worker and later brought him into the cabinet as head of that department. Then he won a seat on City Council.

I have watched the tapes used to convict Johnson. They weren’t pretty. The placement of cameras to catch Johnson asking for what he considered promised campaign contributions smelled like a set-up.

Johnson showed his arrogant side and the showboating didn’t help him, especially when it was on tape for TV exposure. And in a dingy basement.

Johnson, I believe, was set up. By what other politician I don’t know but have suspicions.

That doesn’t make what he did right. But it does mitigate the crime.

Johnson’s career came at a particular time of a rough political culture Continue Reading »

14 May 2017

JOHN OLIVER UPDATES NET NEUTRALITY FIGHT…

1700 by Jeff Hess

13 May 2017

WHY WE CAN NEVER WIN IN THE MIDDLE EAST…

0700 by Jeff Hess

Leslie Neilson, of all people, in his television role as American Revolutionary war hero Francis Marion make the precise case why no foreign power—from Alexander The Great to the Soviet Union—has ever come out out a winner in Afghanistan. Any leader is insane to believe that this time will be different.

Ralph Nader, in The Losing Warfare State, writes:

The USA is still bogged down in Afghanistan (the 16 year-old occupation is the longest in American history) and in Iraq (since the unconstitutional, illegal invasion of the country 14 years ago).

With about 30,000 poorly equipped fighters, the Taliban has held down a US equipped and trained Afghan army eight times larger in soldiers, plus the US forces—fluctuating from 100,000 at its peak to 8,500 now, plus contractors—[mercenaries, JH] with advanced air, sea and land weaponry that is second to none.

Moreover, the Taliban has been advancing, controlling 30 to 40 percent of the country and a third of the population, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In Iraq, the US had hundreds of thousands of soldiers and contractors [mercenaries, JH] during the Bush years. Yet today the country is still in the throes of a civil war, where a previously nonexistent threat—ISIS—with less than 15,000 fighters, has been successfully resisting a huge Iraqi army backed by US trainers and air force.

How can this be? “We are vulnerable,” writes military author William Greider, “because our presumption of unconquerable superiority leads us deeper and deeper into unwinnable military conflicts.”

Jim Fallows, asserts in The Atlantic, that our military “is the best-equipped fighting force in history…also better trained, motivated, and disciplined than during Continue Reading »

12 May 2017

THIS IS SHERRY MILLER’S SHERRODSVILLE, OHIO…

0500 by Jeff Hess

170513 sherrodsville rover pipeline video

Sherry Miller did not say that taking her land, at any price, was acceptable, but when a giant fossil fuel company—with the full support of climate-change denying Republican politicians—comes banging on your front door, there is no good choice but to believe that David could smite Goliath and win the good fight. So Miller fought for three years and lost. This story isn’t about some Indian reservation half a nation away. This is in Ohio and none of us is immune.

Marion Renault, reporting in Sherrodsville home ‘trapped’ by Rover pipeline construction for The Columbus Dispatch, writes:

As pushback to the pipeline’s construction escalated to the federal government Wednesday, Sherry Miller couldn’t escape its presence in her own backyard.

Miller has lived in her Sherrodsville home in Carroll County for 18 years. The past three have been a battle to keep the Rover Pipeline from running through her property, she said.

Since February, bulldozers and cranes operate on three sides of her property starting at 6:30 a.m. Heavy machinery roars just a few feet from the small pasture, coop and yard where Miller’s three pigs, four goats, six dogs and dozens of chickens live.

“This company has proven to everyone that they just disregard everything … and they do what they want to do,” she said.

Miller said she and her husband may move out of the dream home they spent years building.

“It feels like we’re trapped,” she said. “I try to tell myself it’ll be fine when these pipelines are done, when they’re underground and the construction crews leave.

“Then the other side of me says, ‘You’ve got to run.’”

Sherrodsville is only about 80 miles south-south-west from me here in North Royalton. I can easily imagine the city of Lorain, Ohio, landing a lucrative deal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on Lake Erie to export the takings from Ohio around the globe. To get the fossil fuel to the port, however, would need a pipeline potentially running through my backyard.

If we allow the destruction of our lands to benefit the billionaires, then none of us will fare well.

11 May 2017

TRUMP THINKS HE’S STILL ON THE APPRENTICE…

0400 by Jeff Hess

Comey had this to say to his colleagues at the FBI:

To all:

I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.

I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality of its people, who together make it that rock for America.

It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.

Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.

Jim Comey

What we know this morning from The Guardian, The Intercept; and The New York Times.

Senator Angus King (I-Maine), realizing that Comey was now available for other employment, has this great idea:

As the fallout from the unexpected firing of James Comey on Tuesday continues to rock Washington, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) suggested a new job for the ousted FBI director: leading the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

“I think the intelligence committee ought to hire James Comey to direct our investigation,” King said during a Wednesday morning appearance on CNN’s New Day. “I’m going to float that today and see what kind of reaction I get.”

King, who sits on the committee, argued that Comey would be a good fit for the position. “Already got his clearances,” he said. “Knows the subject. Man of integrity.”

Bar none, however, this will go down as the definitive comment on the firing of James Comey:
170511 nixon library james comey notnixonian

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