Archive for April, 2011

State Stats – SB 5

With all the debate on SB 5, we think it’s a good idea to compile a list of stats, facts and resources that can be very useful in articulating why so many of us oppose this bill.  Statistics give veracity to an argument, and having a few to pull out in the midst of a heated debate with your parents or roommates might be just the ticket you need for a quick, but victorious exit.  You never know, learning the facts behind SB 5 might even help you win a few of your Republican friends over to the blue side….let’s be the glass half-full kind of crowd!

SO, here’s to happy debating.  Keep it clean, and remember,  no blows below the belt. 

1) Public vs Private Sector Salaries:

Depending on which side of the political spectrum a person is coming from, the statistics he or she throws around on this issue can be very different.  One thing to remember when someone claims that so-and-so expert or such-and-such study says public workers get paid a lot more than private sector workers, is that most public sector jobs have no counterpart in the private realm.  This makes it extremely difficult to arrive at an accurate and fair comparison of average reimbursement between the two secotors.  The trick is to compare “apples-to-apples” and analyze the differences or similarities in wages and benefits  within the context of  varying educational requirements, on-the-job duties, etc.  

OPERS recently issued a report in rebuttal to the Buckeye Institute’s claim that state employees make, on average, 24.6 percent more than private employees. The report goes on to bust a number of bogus myths in the Buckeye Institute report and is a must-read for anyone who has questions about or an interest in SB 5.

2) Public Employee Union Concessions

Many of the SB 5 supporters have tried to frame the bill as a necessary step toward fixing Ohio’s looming budget shortfall, and have done so by portraying public employees as spoiled, whiny “rich kids” that live in big houses and drive luxury cars on the taxpayer’s dime. Nevermind that public employees are ALSO taxpaying citizens, and that most live a very modest, middle-class lifestyle. In this upside-down, through-the-looking-glass reality, public employees are the ones responsible for the economic problems in the state and are unreasonable tyrants that dictate their terms to local governments, regardless of economic realities. This, of course, is not true.

AlterNet, an award-winning online magazine that boasts over 1.5 million in unique monthly views, recently published a list of recent Union concessions. To name a few:

32 separate public employers in AFSCME Ohio Council 8 have switched to high deductible health savings accounts through negotiations for large savings in health care costs

City of Toledo: Cost savings of over $500,000 including elimination of 3% pension pickup (Equates to 3.5% loss in pay) and substantial increases in health insurance employee contributions

City of Olmstead: 21 unpaid furlough days in 2010 and an additional 21 unpaid days in 2011

City of Brooklyn: layoffs, furlough days, and longevity reduced by 50%

City of Dayton: 5 unpaid furlough days in 2010, 35 fulltime jobs converted to part-time jobs, substantial increases in employee health insurance co-pays

Richland County Employees: 26 unpaid furlough days in 2010, plus elimination of $2,000 employer contribution to employee health savings accounts

Marion County Engineer: Elimination of $4,000 contribution to employee savings accounts

To see the complete list at AlterNet, click here.

Civic duty is more than just showing up to the polls or wearing a button with your candidate”s name on it.  In order to drive real change, we need to learn that facts about the issue, take a stance and educate our friends and communities.  Civil debate is part of what drives a democracy, and we could all benefit from more fact-based dialogue. 

SB 5 is sure to be a hotbutton topic for months to come.  If you oppose this bill and the serious consequences it could have for so many of us in the state, do not let the conversation die.


Nitro’s Law – Fight Animal Cruelty in Ohio

Today in the House Committee on Criminal Justice, members heard powerful testimony in support of “Nitro’s Law,” legislation that would allow for harsher punishment in animal cruelty cases. The bill is HB 108, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Ron Gerberry and Robert Hagan, both of Youngstown.

“Nitro’s Law” was inspired by tragic events at High Caliber K9 in Youngstown, OH, where Nitro, a pure-bred Rottweiler, and 7 other dogs starved to death after weeks of neglect. Kennel/training school owner Steve Croley was sentenced in 2009 to a mere 4 months in jail.

Tom Siesto, Nitro’s “father”, came 8 hours from New York to Columbus to testify. He gave a teary account of his dog’s story today, pausing occasionally to fight back his tears as he mentioned the horrible suffering Nitro experienced in his last days. He placed a canister of Nitro’s remains on the podium while he spoke. One of the more emotional moments in the testimony came as he recalled Nitro’s playful way of letting him know when he was thirsty.

Nitro loved to drink water and he could drink it like a camel; he would pick up his metal water bowl when it was empty and throw it to let us know when he needed more, he wouldn’t stop picking it up and throwing it until we would refill it. I can’t tell you all…how many times I’ve sat and cried wondering how many times he must have picked up his bowl and thrown it around his kennel…waiting…so thirsty…but nobody ever came to give him any water.

Ohio ranks 43rd on the Humane Society’s 2010 “Humane State Report.” Currently, someone convicted of animal cruelty in Ohio receives the same punishment as someone who bashes a mail box with a baseball bat. It’s not acceptable for companion animals to be viewed on the same level as a mailbox, or to equate, even in a legal sense, violence toward animals and petty vandalism. Many studies have shown a correlation between violence to animals and violence to humans. If for no other reason, this should make our state less tolerant of the sorts of intolerable crimes such as the one that unfolded at High Caliber K9.

This video is from the Nitro Foundation web site. Be forewarned: It’s a tear jerker!

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