September 14, 2018
Patrol OVI checkpoint on East Main Street Tonight
COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Highway Patrol announced today that an OVI checkpoint will be held from 8 p.m. through 12 a.m. tonight on East Main Street, in Franklin County.
The OVI checkpoint, funded by federal grant funds, is planned to deter and intercept impaired drivers.
The checkpoint will also be held in conjunction with nearby saturation patrols to aggressively combat impaired driver-related injury and fatal crashes.
If you plan to consume alcohol, designate a driver or make other travel arrangements before you drink. Don’t let another life be lost for the senseless and selfish act of getting behind the wheel impaired.
“Based on provisional data, there were 379 OVI-related fatal crashes in which 405 people were killed last year in Ohio.” Lieutenant Akers, commander of the Columbus Metro Post, said “State troopers make on average 25,000 OVI arrests each year in an attempt to combat these dangerous drivers. OVI checkpoints are designed to not only deter impaired driving but to proactively remove these dangerous drivers from our roadways.”
UPDATE: US 37 between Wildcat Pike and LaRue-Decliff Rd.
SR 37 is closed for culvert replacement. DETOUR: SR 37 to SR 309 to SR 203 to SR 95 to SR 37 or reverse.
3 PM THURSDAY 9/20/18: All lanes open.
SR 314 at CR 201
7 AM MONDAY 9/17/18: SR 314 will close for culvert replacement. DETOUR: SR 656 to SR 61 to SR 3 to SR 314 or reverse.
3 PM FRIDAY 9/21/18: All lanes open.
Ad firm worked for Cordray’s agency, then governor campaign
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
Thursday, September 13
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An advertising and media firm to which Ohio gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray’s agency gave government work while he was a federal official is now doing political work for him.
Washington-based GMMB has been making Ohio ad buys for Democrat Cordray’s gubernatorial campaign against Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press. The two are locked in a high-profile fight for the office Republican Gov. John Kasich vacates in January because of term limits.
GMMB’s political work for Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, follows Republican criticism that the bureau’s decision to hire the firm under Cordray’s watch was politically questionable.
GMMB was the lead advertising agency for the successful presidential bids of Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Obama is campaigning for Cordray in Cleveland on Thursday.
“The whole thing is peculiar,” said Matthew Henderson, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, an Ohio Republican who questioned the contract during a hearing in April. “Why was former director Cordray spending so much on a PR firm he would eventually hire to run his campaign for governor? And why was a government agency that was created to protect consumers and prosecute fraud spending a higher percentage on PR than a car brand like Chevy?”
Cordray’s campaign said there’s nothing improper about the firm’s work for the government or the campaign. At the time it was hired by the federal consumer bureau, the agency was working to raise a new federal agency’s pro-consumer profile among Americans.
“Rich Cordray is proud of the work he did at the CFPB to take on predatory lenders and put $12 billion back into the pockets of 30 million Americans who had been cheated or mistreated,” said spokesman Mike Gwin. “It’s unsurprising that those same powerful interests are now using bogus and debunked smears to try to misrepresent Rich’s record of standing up for middle class families.”
The Office of Inspector General reported in June that costs tied to GMMB’s contract with the consumer bureau grew from the original estimated value of $11.5 million to $43.8 million from August 2013 to February 2018. The office found the bureau could have better managed the contract and urged stronger controls.
Mick Mulvaney, appointed by Republican President Donald Trump to succeed Cordray as bureau director, said during the April hearing that he planned to cancel the contract.
Besides Obama’s campaigns, GMMB has served Democrat-aligned clients including Emily’s List, the Democratic Governors Association and the League of Conservation Voters, according to its website. It also did government work pitching the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
GMMB has worked for Democratic and Republican administrations, including Trump’s. The inspector general said the firm was selected by the consumer bureau through an open competitive process.
Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the Cordray campaign may have looked at GMMB’s successful work for Obama and felt it was a good fit — but such relationships should still be approached with caution.
“The problem is, of course, that elections now are so closely tied to governing that it makes voters concerned because everything’s so embedded and intertwined,” she said. “It at least deserves a conversation.”
A spokesperson for GMMB said the firm was “honored to have worked with the CFPB to advance its mission to educate and protect consumers in the financial marketplace.”
A spokeswoman for DeWine’s campaign said the relationship “presents a major trust issue with voters.”
Friday, Sept 14, 2018
Brown Cosponsoring Bill to Ensure Customers Have Information to Pay Less for Medications
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, the U.S. Senate is expected to pass legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), that would crack down on the outrageous gag clauses that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers how to save money by paying out of pocket for medicines rather than going through insurance.
This bill is a follow up to the Know the Lowest Price Act, which passed the Senate last week. That bill would prohibit Medicare Part D Plans from restricting a pharmacy’s ability to provide drug price information when there is a difference between the cost of the drug under the plan and the cost of the drug when purchased without insurance. Monday’s bill would go one step further and prohibit this practice for all consumers, regardless of their source of health insurance.
“Too many Ohioans still struggle to afford the medicine they need, and too often, the culprit is price gouging by big pharmaceutical corporations,” said Brown. “By ensuring pharmacists can provide their customers with all the information – even the information Big Pharma doesn’t want them to know – we can save Ohioans money, improve health care, and increase transparency in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Many customers have no idea that they could pay less for their prescription if they paid out of pocket rather than using their insurance at the pharmacy counter. That’s because many pharmacists are prohibited from telling their customers that a prescription to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may cost only $8 out of pocket instead of $20 through insurance coverage. One 2018 report found that customers overpaid for prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter 23% of the time. And many pharmacists are frustrated that they can’t help their customers save money.
Tax Levy Estimator now available a month prior to start of early voting
Auditor Clarence Mingo
Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo earlier this week announced the popular “Tax Levy Estimator” is now available one month prior to the start of early voting in Ohio.
The Tax Levy Estimator is an easy-to-use tool that allows Franklin County residents the ability to see the monthly cost associated with proposed tax levies.
“Technology has created an expectation amongst citizens that information regarding important issues will be readily available for them to digest,” Mingo said. “Our Tax Levy Estimator makes it easy for someone to not only learn about levy issues but also see the personalized dollar amount that comes along with a proposed levy.”
Absentee and early voting begins Wednesday, Oct. 10 in Ohio. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“People – now more than ever – are able to examine issues thoroughly,” Mingo said. “Franklin County residents have about eight weeks to study these levy issues with the help of this feature.”
To access the tool, click on the “Tax Levy Estimator” headline on the homepage. Residents can then input their address to see individualized estimates of costs associated with levies.
Franklin County voters will decide on 15 levies in the general election. Five school districts in the county – Dublin, Grandview, SouthWestern, Whitehall and Worthington – have issues on the ballot. Voters countywide will decide on a Metro Parks operating levy.
Under Ohio Law, all voted levies are subject to rate reductions commensurate with corresponding increases in tax valuation. The county auditor neither endorses nor opposes the tax levies appearing on the ballot.
August home sales continue to sizzle
There were 1,782 single-family homes were sold during August in Franklin County. There have now been 11,282 homes sold during the first eight months of 2018.
“This is the earliest on record we have ever surpassed 10,000 home sales in the county,” Mingo said. “Not only are we seeing the highest volume of sales we have ever seen but we are also seeing those homes sold for far more than the value listed on our website.”
Of those 1,782 single-family homes sold during August, about 85.2 percent (1,519) of them sold for more than the current value on the auditor’s website set following last year’s 2017 Reappraisal of all 430,000-plus properties in the county.
The Franklin County Auditor’s Office completed its 2017 Reappraisal in August 2017. The next property value update will come during the 2020 Triennial Update two years from now.
There have been 11,282 homes sold in the county during the first eight months of 2018. About 82.9 percent (9,351) have been sold for more than the auditor’s value.
Ohio State Bar Association Opposes State Issue 1
Statement from OSBA President Robin Weaver
COLUMBUS (September 13, 2018) At the Ohio Judicial Conference’s annual meeting today, OSBA President Robin Weaver announced that the OSBA stands together with Ohio judges and the growing list of organizations, which are opposing State Issue 1. Regarding the OSBA’s position, all of the following may be attributed to President Weaver:
“We firmly believe that treatment and rehabilitation are the right strategies for curbing Ohio’s opiate crisis and have seen them working in drug courts around the state. However, when you categorically strip our judges of their discretion and take away an important tool — the threat of prison time — you significantly lower the chances that they will get sober, enroll in and complete a drug treatment program.
“Make no mistake, by removing accountability for defendants and shifting the cost burden to local governments, this proposal will set Ohio back, and because it would be written into the Ohio Constitution, it will take years and significant resources to fix.
“We understand and share the sense of urgency of Issue 1 proponents, but our time would be better spent working together through the legislative process to expand and promote the use of drug courts and treatment in lieu of conviction. We urge all Ohioans to vote NO on State Issue 1.”
About the Ohio State Bar Association
The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 26,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.
Rev. John Watson to Teach the Ohio Central Bible College Fall Seminar on C.S. Lewis
Reverend John Watson, M.Th. of Columbus will teach the Fall Seminar at Ohio Central Bible College. The event will be held Saturday, October 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Iberia Presbyterian Church, 8607 County Road 30 in Iberia through the courtesy of the congregation. His topic will be “The Life and Work of Christian Author C.S. Lewis.” All are welcome to attend.
Lewis was a prolific British author, critic and educator most famous for his “Narnia” children’s stories and Mere Christianity. Rev. Watson, a Christian scholar, is a recognized authority on Lewis. He is the academic dean emeritus and professor emeritus of religious studies at Ohio Central Bible College. Rev. Watson is a graduate of Wheaton College, the Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Aberdeen.
Cost for the seminar is $20 per person, with lunch included, and registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. Students will receive a certificate of completion. For more information, phone Mark Phillips in Mount Gilead at (419) 946-5576 or visit Ohio Central Bible College on Facebook, Twitter or at www.ohiocentralbiblecollege.org.
(This institution is not certified by the department of higher education or the state of Ohio and it does not racially discriminate. ORC 1713.02 E).
Savvy social media strategies boost anti-establishment political wins
September 12, 2018
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, West Virginia University
Ph.D. student in Computer Science, West Virginia University
The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Mexico’s anti-establishment presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, faced opposition from the mainstream media. And he spent 13 percent less on advertising than his opponents. Yet the man commonly known by his initials as “AMLO” went on to win the Mexican presidency in a landslide with over 53 percent of the vote in a four-way race in July.
That remarkable victory was at least partly due to the social media strategies of the political activists who backed him. Similar strategies appeared in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2017 French presidential race.
Our lab has been analyzing these social media activities to understand how they’ve worked to threaten – and topple – establishment candidates. By analyzing more than 6 million posts from Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, we identified three main online strategies: using activist slang, attempting to “go viral” and providing historical context.
Some of these strategies might simply be online adaptations of long-standing strategies used in traditional offline campaigning. But others seem to be new ways of connecting and driving people to the polls. Our lab was interested in understanding the dynamics behind these online activists in greater detail, especially as some had crossed over from being merely supporters – even anonymous ones – not formally affiliated with campaigns, to being officially incorporated in campaign teams.
Integrating activist slang
Some political activists pointedly used slang in their online conversations, creating a dynamic that elevated their candidate as an opponent of the status quo. Trump backers, for instance, called themselves “Deplorables,” supporting “the God Emperor” Trump against “Killary” Clinton.
AMLO backers called themselves “AMLOVERS” or “Chairos,” and had nicknames for his opponents, such as calling the other presidential candidate, Ricardo Anaya, “Ricky Riquin Canayin” – Spanish for “The Despicable Richy Rich.”
Efforts to ‘go viral’
Some political activists worked hard to identify the material that was most likely to attract wide attention online and get media coverage. Trump backers, for instance, organized on the Discord chat service and Reddit forums to see which variations of edited images of Hillary Clinton were most likely to get shared and go viral. They became so good at getting attention for their posts that Reddit actually changed its algorithm to stop Trump backers from filling up the site’s front page with pro-Trump propaganda.
Similarly, AMLO backers were able to keep pro-AMLO hashtags trending on Twitter, such as #AMLOmania, in which people across Mexico made promises of what they would do for the country if AMLO won. The vows ranged from free beer and food in restaurants to free legal advice.
For instance, an artist promised to paint an entire rural school in Veracruz, Mexico, if AMLO won. A law firm promised to waive its fees for 100 divorces and alimony lawsuits if AMLO won. The goal of citizen activists was to motivate others to support AMLO, while doing positive things for their country.
The historian-style activists
Some anti-establishment activists were able to recruit more supporters by providing detailed explanations of the political system as they saw it. Trump backers, for instance, created electronic manuals advising supporters how to explain their viewpoint to opponents to get them to switch sides. They compiled the top WikiLeaks revelations about Hillary Clinton, assembled explanations of what they meant and asked people to share it.
Pro-AMLO activists did even more, creating a manual that explained Mexico’s current economics and how the proposals of their candidate would, in their view, transform and improve Mexico’s economy.
Our analysis identified that one of the most effective strategies was taking time to explain the sociopolitical context. Citizens responded well to, and engaged with, specific reasoning about why they should back specific candidates.
As the U.S. midterm elections approach, it’s worth paying attention to whether – and in what races – these methods reappear; and even how people might use them to engage in fruitful political activism that brings the changes they want to see.
Anniversary of Lehman’s collapse reminds us – booms are often followed by busts
September 12, 2018
Christie’s auctions off a Lehman Brothers sign in 2010. Reuters/Andrew Winning
Anjan V. Thakor
Professor of Finance, Washington University in St Louis
Anjan V. Thakor does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Only a decade has passed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and it seems the mortgage crisis and subsequent Great Recession are already ancient history in the minds of many investors, bankers and regulators.
All it took was a few short years of low default rates and good loan growth to re-create the kind of heady atmosphere of irrational exuberance that transforms staid bankers into high-wire risk takers.
For those who have forgotten, such risk takers are the the ones who caused the 2008 crisis, which resulted in the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15 and the worst recession since the 1930s.
With their hubris restored, bankers once again have convinced themselves and others that they are the “masters of the universe,” with superhero risk management skills.
At the same time, regulators are beginning to loosen their reins, in part on the belief that the booming economy, flush with the gains from tax breaks and deregulation, no longer needs such restraints.
But, as my research into past financial crises has shown, the seeds of the next bust tend to be sown during the boom times.
Boom foreshadows doom
A psychological bias known as the availability heuristic helps explain why this happens.
This is sort of a mental shortcut in which people rely on only the most readily available information, such as from the very recent past, to arrive at inferences about the current and future state of affairs. In other words, if things are going well, it’s easy to convince yourself that they’ll continue that way indefinitely.
And this bias becomes very prevalent on Wall Street when times are good, leading to the kind of reckless behavior that sparks crises.
Research into the conditions that existed prior to the major financial crises of the past eight centuries shows that virtually every one was preceded by an asset price bubble in the economy – which makes it appear like it’s booming – and an excessive amount of debt held by banks, conditions that suggest an environment tolerant of high risk.
My own research into the conditions and causes of the last two major financial crises – in the 1980s and 2008 – reveals that the longer a lending boom lasts, the more trouble it foreshadows. More generally, during booms, any aspects of risk management in financial institutions get corrupted by a kind of overconfidence in the skills of bankers.
And that’s exactly the environment we have now. A decade of ultra-low interest rates across the world have led to ever-rising debt loads for every type of borrower in most countries and have created incentives for increased risk-taking among investors and traders in the pursuit of high yields.
I believe this is putting the global financial system at risk of another collapse if regulators don’t act soon.
The author explains how booms can turn into crises.
Stemming the cycle
So is there something we can do to break this cycle and avert another crisis?
In my view, it primarily comes down to capital requirements, which are rules meant to ensure banks have enough equity – and not too much debt as percentage of total assets – to absorb the risk they’re taking with their investments.
In short, the current requirements are just not high enough to protect banks and the financial system. Furthermore, regulators tend to loosen them and other lending requirements when the economic picture is improving – the precise time when they should be raising them.
Asking banks to hold more capital in good times, like now, will put in place the right incentives to prevent the kind of behavior that puts entire economies at risk. That’s because the more capital banks have, the more circumspect they’ll be in terms of how much risk they take, thus making a bust caused by the kinds of investments they made in the run-up to the last financial crisis much less likely.
Beefing up Basel III
One way regulators could do this is by beefing up Basel III, a voluntary, global regulatory framework on bank capital adequacy, stress-testing and market liquidity risk.
Basel III set banks’ so-called leverage ratio – a measure of how much capital a lender has relative to debt – at 3 percent. U.S. regulators have gone a bit further, requiring 5 percent. But that’s far too low for a healthy banking system.
Regulators should be aiming for 15 percent because research has shown that such a ratio will reduce the systemic risk of the banking sector significantly. With that much equity capital on their balance sheets, banks will resist the temptation to take undue risks that jeopardize the safety net taxpayers provide them through deposit insurance and occasional bailouts.
The greater cushion will also give them more time to adjust when the next crisis comes, as it inevitably will. And the more capital a bank has, the more time it has to take protective actions before going belly-up as losses start wiping out its equity.
Just imagine, would a bank ever give you a reasonably priced home mortgage if you only put 5 percent down and wanted to borrow the other 95 percent?
Some bankers complain this will hurt shareholders because being required to hold more equity as a share of total assets will lead to lower returns.
A paper I co-authored in 2009, however, found that higher bank capital levels are actually associated with greater bank values, not to mention a safer and sounder banking system.
Preventing the next big one
I’m not suggesting that regulators and banks do this overnight, but I think when the economy is doing well, lenders are doing well and profits are high, it’s relatively easy to build up capital over a period of three to five years.
And it’s the most effective means of preventing a financial crisis.
What regulators often do instead is focus on restricting banking activities and driving up the costs of complying with regulations. Rather than creating systemic protection, this simply leads banks to move their riskier activities to areas of the industry where regulators aren’t looking.
Regulators can only do so much to keep these firms from taking excessive risks. What they can do is ensure banks have enough capital to absorb future shocks so that the global financial system isn’t once again brought to the brink of collapse.
This is an updated version of an article published on May 27, 2015.