Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fallout from the Space vote

This promises to be an interesting re-election campaign for Democrat U.S. Rep. Zack Space of Dover in the wake of his "no" vote on health care reform.

Space was the only member of the Democrats' Ohio delegation to vote no on the controversial issue, which no doubt reflected the wishes of the majority of his constituents in the 18th District. At least that's what everyone's telling me.

By announcing he was going to vote against the bill on the eve of its up/down roll call, Space did four things:

-- He alienated some members of his base, which -- surprise -- includes liberal Democrats.

-- He alienated House leadership and, from what I'm reading, the Obama administration. President Obama made the remark that he wouldn't have a lot of time this election season for Democrats who didn't fall in line. (I'm paraphrasing here.)

-- Space alienated big unions, who have vowed to withdraw their financial support of his re-election campaign.

-- He did little to win back the praises of crossover Republicans, who are suspicious of Space's timing on the "no" on health care plan announcement and his past votes, including a "yes" on cap and trade.

That said, Space did the right thing. The bill was/is flawed and probably will end up costing Americans money, or reducing their health care benefits coverage or both or something that none of us can predict now. You know, unintended consequences.

I don't believe the bill is Armageddon as House Minority Leader John Boehner or your favorite Fox News pundit would have you believe. And eventually maybe we'll all come to appreciate it like we have Social Security and Medicare. We'll see.

Health care reform also might be easier to swallow for seniors who regularly fall into the Medicare Part D prescription drug doughnut hole or for those of us who have pre-existing conditions.

I would have preferred solving one issue at a time such as the underpayments to health care providers by Medicare. Many doctors would rather not deal with Medicare patients and that's a worrisome aspect for those of us who are getting up there in years.

But back to Zack Space.

Space was damned if he didn't and damned if he did.

We're an angry America right now. Many have lost jobs. Others are upside down on their mortgages. And some think there's some sort of conspiracy going on. The government's taking over health care for goodness sake.

The terms "Marxist" and "Socialist" are referenced by people who clearly don't understand the definitions.

Tea parties? Sarah Palin? Rush Limbaugh?

I think the country needs a shrink.

* * *
I attended a community forum on the future of Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center a couple of weeks ago and I left it with the belief that in the not too distant future Atwood Lodge will be a memory.

Whoever buys the lodge will have to consider upgrading the water supply system to the tune of $4 million. That's not to say that someone with deep pockets won't come along and invest millions more into the property to make it a viable destination. But I doubt it.

With a less-than-30 percent occupancy rate, there is no way it can continue in its current form. And no amount of emotional testimonials can save it.

And I feel bad about that.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Whitmer reaches the finish line

I would be remiss if I didn't note that longtime Times-Reporter Sports Editor Dave Whitmer is retiring.

Whitmer, who joined the T-R around the same time I did back in the early '70s, quietly went about his job as sports editor by organizing high school coverage every week of every year. That meant assigning reporters and photographers to games, finding freelancers and producing the sports pages that everyone takes for granted.

With 20 high schools in the coverage area, it is a daunting task especially in the spring when there are baseball and softball games, track meets and tennis matches all going on at the same time.

Whitmer also was the organizational wizard behind the annual T-R All-Star Charity Football Game. Dave's mark will be on the 2010 game -- some of the work already is done -- but I suspect that will be his last.

One anecdote...

Back in the '90s as the T-R was preparing to enter the digital age, he came into my office with a question.

"Let me get this straight," he said. "We're going to put our stories on the Internet where everyone can read them for free."

"That's right," I responded.

"But the people who read us in the newspaper will still have to pay for the newspaper."

"Yep, that's right, too."

Dave shook his head and exited. Clearly he didn't understand the strategy of giving away content that was subsidized by subscribers. And he didn't think it was fair.

His questioning, I suppose, was somewhat prophetic. Media bigwigs continue to debate strategy while dismantling the traditional outlets -- print and TV included -- which further diminishes the worth of the product.

I've read all about the current strategies and have yet to settle on any conclusions. Except, of course, that the one embraced in the '90s was wrong.

Anyway, good luck to Dave in his well-deserved retirement.

* * *

If you're in management and occasionally send memos by e-mail, do me a favor. Never, ever start the memo with this:


All? What the heck does that mean? All? What, you have a bunch of robots working for you?

How about, "Dear Valued Employees:"


"Hi, folks."


"To my colleagues in the trenches:"

Anything, but "All:"

It's corporate-speak and usually whatever follows is bad news.

* * *

The Daily Beast recently listed the best and worst states, including the District of Columbia, for job growth.

Ohio finished 50th, in front of only one state -- Michigan.

Forbes magazine also declared recently that Cleveland was the most miserable city in the country. Forbes said Cleveland took the top spot "thanks to its high unemployment, high taxes, lousy weather, corruption by public officials and crummy sports teams (Cavaliers of the NBA excepted)."

It's no wonder we have an inferiority complex. Hold your head up, Ohio. The snow will melt soon. Guaranteed.