Libertarian candidate shares ideas in Centerville

Published: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 6:00 PM
Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 6:00 PM

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson addressed a packed theater at Centerville High School on Friday, presenting a mix of policy positions from across the political spectrum.

Johnson was a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, and he calls for dramatic cuts to immediately balance the federal budget. He says Medicare is going broke, Social Security’s retirement age should be increased and federal government departments like education should be abolished and given back to state control.

But Johnson, speaking in a sport coat, jeans and a “peace symbol” T-shirt, also called for the immediate end of American military intervention abroad; repeal of the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security; the legalization, regulation and taxing of some drugs; and support for gay marriage.

“I think most people in this country are fiscally responsible and socially accepting,” Johnson said, adding he avoids the word tolerant. “I think actually we don’t really care at all as long as that behavior doesn’t negatively impact our lives.”

Johnson is one of seven presidential candidates listed on the Ohio ballot this fall, joining Socialist Stewart Alexander, Independent Richard Duncan, the Constitution Party’s Virgil Goode, Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

But Johnson pointed out that most “third party” candidates are on the ballot in half or fewer of the 50 states. Johnson is currently on the ballot in 47 states and is fighting in court to be listed in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

Third-party candidates have rarely garnered much support in presidential elections, as some voters fear “wasting their vote” on someone they believe can’t win.

“A wasted vote is voting for somebody that you don’t believe in,” Johnson said Friday. “You should vote for who you believe in. That’s how you change things in this country. … I’m making a request of everybody, to waste their vote on me. And if everybody will do that, I’m the next president of the United States.”

With this election focused so heavily on jobs and the economy, Johnson aims to restore America’s “industrial might” by replacing corporate, personal and other income taxes with the FairTax plan, which places a flat consumption tax on all retail sales. Johnson believes that move would cause corporations and jobs to flock back to the United States, creating “an explosion of growth” in the tax base.

Johnson admitted that adopting some of his plans would cause short-term pain. He said cutting the federal government as quickly as he proposes could cause “a short-term contraction, and yes, you have a whole bunch of people who are basically unemployed who would have been employed by the government.”

He said turning education back over to the states would likely lead to some “fabulous successes” and “horrible failures,” but innovation and competition would eventually elevate the system as a whole, adding that the current system of federal involvement has been far from perfect.

Kevin Fick, a Centerville High School senior, said Johnson’s ideas about ending the war on drugs and completely changing the system of health insurance in America stood out.

“(He) struck me as very down to earth, but also very different, because I’ve never heard a stance taken that far away from the median,” Fick said.

Congressmen Jordan, Davidson pushing welfare reform plan

Published: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 2:45 PM

Freedom Caucus former Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Washington Bureau
Freedom Caucus former Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(Washington Bureau)

More than 20 years after Bill Clinton, John Kasich and Newt Gingrich reformed “welfare as we know it,” two Ohio lawmakers are vowing to do it again, saying the government must do more to encourage people to work rather than live off of federal largesse.

Reps. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, and Warren Davidson, R–Troy, want to start by looking at some 92 federal means-tested programs — they include everything from cash aid to food aid to housing — and consolidating them. They say any social worker would be daunted by finding the best out of 92 programs, and many of them are duplicative.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, a member of the Freedom Caucus, leaves a meeting with the conservative coalition on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 23, 2017, after their trip to the White House. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(Washington Bureau)

They want to do this through a bipartisan panel comparable to the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission: A bipartisan group would spend a year taking a hard look at all 92 programs, consolidating and eliminating where necessary and Congress would have to vote for those recommendations on and up-or-down basis.

RELATED: $2M welfare fraud investigation ends in arrests, police say

Davidson said it’s not a matter of reducing benefits. It’s far easier for a social worker trying to help a family in need if he or she is familiar with the programs available, he said. It’s hard to be fluent in 92 different government programs.

But more broadly, Jordan, who, like Davidson is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, would like to beef up work requirements in order to receive federal benefits. While the Clinton-era welfare package created work requirements through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, such requirements weren’t instituted for other means-tested federal programs.

While the 1996 welfare overhaul “did what it was supposed to do, it really applied to one program,” said Davidson. “It didn’t have as broad an effect as it could have.”

The federal government has made it optional for states to impose work requirements on food stamps, but it hasn’t really forced them to, say analysts.

Success stories

Davidson and Jordan argue that the states that did impose work requirements are success stories. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage in 2014 instituted work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents in order for them to receive food stamps. Three months after he instituted that policy, the number of able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps had plummeted by 80 percent, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“I think at the federal level, we ought to say, ‘these are federal dollars. Do what you want to with your own state, but for the federal dollars, you only get them if you expect able-bodied adults to work,” Davidson said.

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Jordan said the 1996 overhaul worked relatively well until the financial crisis, when then-President Barack Obama lifted some of the work requirements to receive TANF. During the meltdown, Obama allowed states to seek a federal waiver from work participation rules that allowed welfare recipients to also engage in one of 12 work activities, such as job training. In order to receive the waiver, states had to come up with a plan to better promote ways to help people find work.

Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the moderate Brookings Institution and a former senior advisor to President George H.W. Bush, said Obama may have loosened the work requirements during the Great Recession, but the move was temporary.

“I’m not aware of a permanent change in the law because of the recession,” he said. “I certainly do not think President Obama deliberately undermined the work requirements. If he did, it didn’t work very well because they’re still pretty strong.”

Haskins said the larger problem is that states, over time, have figured out how to meet the work requirements without requiring people to work.

“Work programs are very difficult to run,” he said. “They are administratively complex and states have never been especially good at it…they play all these games and it’s the games that need to stop.”

‘We’re not doing enough of that’

Robert Doar — a former commissioner of social services in New York during part of the welfare implementation who is now with the conservative American Enterprise Institute — said the federal government has not done enough to encourage and promote work in food stamps, public health insurance, housing assistance or Medicaid.

He said the policy of “giving benefits and saying, ‘see you in a year’” “is not really helpful in my opinion.”

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“What a person seeking assistance really wants, really needs is a pathway to a job, and we’re not doing enough of that,” he said. “In the new administration, the focus is more on work and less on just providing assistance. I think that’s good.”

Doar said the 1996 effort worked, with the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps and public health insurance also helping to improve the poor’s standard of living. The poor, he said, “are much better off than they were in 1993 or 1994.”

“That doesn’t mean it solved all the problems or that we don’t have a lot more to do in helping poor Americans, but it certainly did what it set out to do.”

Counter view

Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program at the left leaning Center for American Progress disputes the notion that the 1995 welfare reform was a success. Twenty years after TANF was created, “it helps very few struggling families with children,” she said.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, while the program served 4.4 million families in 1996, it served 1.6 million in 2015, even as the number of families with children rose to more than 7.1 million by 2016.

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She said Temporary Assistance to Needy Families also was not effective in responding to the Great Recession. Hardship went up, the unemployed went up, and so did food stamps and other programs for the poor.

TANF, Boteach said, “remained flat” even as unemployment and poverty rose.

She disputes the philosophy that a work requirement will motivate someone to work, saying taking a person’s food away is not going to make them a more productive job applicant.

“Work requirements don’t create jobs,” she said. “Work requirements punish people while they’re looking for jobs.”

Austin Landing South development could spur $350 million in investment

Published: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 9:39 AM
Updated: Friday, July 21, 2017 @ 1:18 PM


            So far, Austin Landing South is undeveloped land at the southeast corner of Austin Boulevard and Interstate 75. This view comes from the south side of the property in one of Springboro’s industrial parks. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd
            Lawrence Budd
So far, Austin Landing South is undeveloped land at the southeast corner of Austin Boulevard and Interstate 75. This view comes from the south side of the property in one of Springboro’s industrial parks. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd(Lawrence Budd)

As much as $350 million could be invested in development of Austin Landing South, the project proposed in Springboro across Austin Boulevard from the existing mixed-use development, according to Springboro City Manager Christine Thompson.

RELATED: Development to move across Austin Boulevard into Springboro

That would be 10 times $35 million of potential public investment in roads and other infrastructure Springboro could provide to support the project to be constructed on about 60 acres, just east of Interstate 75, on the southwest corner of Austin Boulevard and Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro.

On Friday, local officials and developer Larry Dillin said the 10 percent public share was necessary to make the project a reality.

“To develop a special project of this magnitude requires a public/private investment partnership to accomplish creation of space that is both special and lasting. That’s my commitment to Springboro and theirs to me,” Dillin said in a statement.

Thompson said the city government was considering the financial commitment to the project - on some of the last undeveloped acres within Springboro’s city limits - in hopes of securing “the best thing for the Springboro region.”

“This is an unusual opportunity. There are a broad spectrum of opportunities and development possibilities,” Thompson said. “So we need to be open to examine all of them.”

The Warren County Port Authority is preparing to finance as much as $35 million for Springboro to use in “acquiring, constructing, and equipping certain public improvements in connection with the Austin Landing South project”.

Earlier this month, the authority board approved a resolution in preparation for the financing, as well as a cooperative agreement with the city to help with the project, located in Montgomery County.

On Thursday night, Thompson and Assistant City Manager Chris Pozzuto said they were unaware of the port authority financing resolution and indicated the amount to be borrowed and repaid through diversion of property taxes on the improvements was yet to be determined.

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“We don’t have all of the numbers yet,” Thompson said after contacting port authority officicials about the resolution, approved on July 10 by the port board.

There has been no public presentation on Austin Landing South. Few details have been provided.

Dillin recently described his vision as “a mixed-use development that can readily adapt to the changing retail industry.”

RELATED: What’s next at Austin Landing?

How much of the development winds up residential, commercial or retail has yet to be determined.

Thompson has expressed hope Austin Landing South is developed as Levis Commons was by Dillin in the Toledo area.

In emails obtained by the newspaper, Dillin indicated Austin Landing South would be “pedestrian oriented and created at a quality level comparable to Levis Commons- complete with clock tower and fountains.”

RELATED: Springboro council traveled to Toledo area to tour example of developer’s work

Earlier this year, the entire city council and staff spent the night at the Hilton Inn at Levis Commons. During the trip, the Springboro group was to tour the development, hear a presentation from Dillin and meet with local officials involved in the Levis Commons development in the Perrysburg area.

On July 10, the Warren County Port Authority approved an agreement, mirroring one already approved by the Springboro council, establishing a partnership in developing Austin Landing South - although the land is in the Montgomery County portion of Springboro.

Austin Landing South “is expected to enhance, foster, aid, provide, and promote economic development within the City and the State by creating and preserving jobs and employment opportunities and enhancing the availability of adequate housing in the City and improving the economic and general well-being of the people of the State of Ohio,” according to the resolution.

“The Authority is possessed of broad powers relating to economic development and the creation and preservation of jobs and employment opportunities,” according to the cooperative agreement.

The other resolution indicates the financing would be used by the port authority to “reimburse” the city or developer for infrastructure, such as roads and utilities.

It indicates Springboro is expected to use money from a tax incremental financing fund set up for the Austin Development District - land in the four quadrants around the interchange in Miamisburg, Miami Twp . and Springboro. Property taxes from building improvements typically comprise tax incremental financing funds.

But no development agreement has been reached between the port authority, Dillin, acting on behalf of Springboro Landing Associates, and the city.

The resolution including the $35 million figure fulfills “an IRS requirement allowing future tax revenue to be used for developer public improvements. We were given that number as an estimate, but the plans are not ready to the best of my knowledge. We are waiting for their and the city’s lead,” Martin Russell, deputy administrator in Warren County, said in an email.

The newspaper has been covering development around the Austin Boulevard interchange for more than a decade. We will continue to bring you the latest information on this regional economic development, including the unfolding of plans for Austin Landing South, the 60 acres of the development district in Springboro.

Springboro moves forward with medical marijuana ban

Published: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 8:30 PM


            Springboro City Council, at their meeting Thursday evening, July 20, 2017. (Lawrence Budd/Staff)
Springboro City Council, at their meeting Thursday evening, July 20, 2017. (Lawrence Budd/Staff)

The Springboro City Council moved forward on Thursday with a prohibition on cultivation, processing and distribution to a second reading.

RELATED: Communities approach medical pot in different ways

The council held a first reading on the prohibition after a public hearing on the issue during which no one other than Dan Boron, the city’s planning consultant, spoke.

The prohibition would replace an existing moratorium after council approval.

Ohio, local leaders react to news Sen. John McCain has brain cancer

Published: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 11:31 AM
Updated: Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 11:31 AM

McCain cancer

The news that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, has brain cancer drew reaction from across the country and in Ohio.

Here’s what some local and Ohio leaders had to say:

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton

“I have had the privilege of working and traveling overseas with Senator John McCain to strengthen our Armed Forces. He has not only been a hero for our country but also a mentor to me. I have no doubt that Senator McCain will tackle this diagnosis with his decided courage and strength. My thoughts and prayers are with the Senator and his family.”

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich

“If there is anyone who knows how to fight against the challenges life throws at us, it’s Senator John McCain. Prayers for a speedy recovery.”

RELATED: Trump, Obama others send messages to McCain

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

“John has more fight in him than anyone I know, and I look forward to having him back in the Senatr soon.”

RELATED: McCain diagnosed with brain cancer