I know I promised some fresh reading for Sundays but this one is coming a little early. Ironically, I'm writing this on Friday morning, which I used to devote to writing those Sunday commentaries that appeared in the local newspaper for 19 or so years.
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New Philadelphia resident Joanne Limbach, who served as tax commissioner under Gov. Richard Celeste, was among experts who participated in a panel discussion recently at the Columbus Dispatch. The topic was the impending $8 billion deficit the state is facing and the discussion served as fodder for a story in the Dispatch last Sunday (Oct. 10).
I turn to Limbach often for facts and figures on the state budget. Among them: A penny increase in the state sales tax would generate about $1.3 billion annually. So, you can kind of figure out what it would take to fix the deficit if the Legislature decided to go that route. Tuscarawas County's rate is 6.5 percent.
The Dispatch story is here.
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Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, whom I met a long time ago when he first launched his political career, is becoming something of a rock star. He was the subject of a story recently in the New York Times for his role in the foreclosure crisis.
Cordray, endorsed by this blog, is an unassuming individual who once appeared (and won) on the TV game show "Jeopardy." He's extremely bright.
I'm interested in watching the impact of the foreclosure freeze in all 50 states. If I understand it correctly, banks can no longer sell homes in foreclosure until there's a resolution of the attorney generals' lawsuits. Ultimately, it could cost banks billions. Their stocks are taking a hit.
Hindsight will tell us whether the Cordray-led assault was a really good idea or a really bad one. I suppose, though, that if a bank is going to foreclose on a homeowner it ought to review all the fine print before it pulls the trigger. There is a lot of evidence to suggest the process was not only flawed, but downright fraudulent.
Says the Times in another story: "As the furor grows over lenders’ efforts to sidestep legal rules in their zeal to reclaim homes from delinquent borrowers ... banks insist that they have been overwhelmed by the housing collapse. But interviews with bank employees, executives and federal regulators suggest that this mess was years in the making and came as little surprise to industry insiders and government officials."
I'd also add that some homeowners brought the mess on themselves by ignoring the simple rules of housing affordability.
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The only thing that surprises me about the Twin City Hospital Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it didn't come much sooner than this.
It was apparent for a long time that the hospital could not pay its bills. In late spring, it owed $1 million to the physician group that staffed the emergency room.
The biggest problem TCH faces is that it operates in an impoverished area with a large percentage of Medicaid patients. My bet is that the hospital emerges from bankruptcy eventually but not without a controlling partner.
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No debate here that Tuscarawas County is a great place to live and work, but we do have our share of nut cases. Most recent nut case in point is the arsonist who was at work the other night, setting fires in Strasburg, Beach City and Brewster.
Perhaps our communities need to take a cue from the big cities and begin to install security cameras at strategic points.
Anyway, I hope law enforcement (Walt? Orvis? You there? I'm counting on you guys!) nabs the culprit quickly. My guess is that there are a lot of nervous property owners along the Rt. 21/250 corridor.
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Rob Burch of Dover has emerged from the shadows. Apparently some local Democrats met up with Burch at a local watering hole after the recent "Meet the Candidates" night at Kent-Tuscarawas. Burch was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1994 and was trounced by Republican George Voinovich.
Even Burch's hometown newspaper, The Times-Reporter, didn't endorse him.
Burch, who was informed that blogger Dick was at the "Candidates" session, replied: "I will pi-- upon his grave."
It's good to know that Rob still has that sense of humor.
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I recently got a sneak peek at the Performing Arts Center at Kent-Tuscarawas and it's something else. When theater/concert patrons enter the stage area for the first time, they will be overwhelmed by its beauty and majesty. There are no bad seats.
I am understating the experience. You have to see it.
I normally don't get excited about such things. But this is different. I am excited.
And thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.
Check out the upcoming shows here. The center's grand opening weekend starts Nov. 27.