“Majority of Electors”

Filed under: ELECTION,Uncategorized — tkm January 31, 2009 @ 10:0 am

There may be, and are, good arguments for voting yes or no on next week’s proposed charter amendment election question to require voter approval of city property tax increases.

One of the issues, however, is NOT one of “majority of electors” as is featured prominently in the Portsmouth Daily Times editorial or Mr. Trent Williams’ opinion piece.

Even as far back as 1909, “It was held in Green v. State Canvassers Board, 5 Idaho, 130, 95 Am. St. Rep. 169, 47 Pac. 259, that a majority of the votes cast at a general election, on the question of adopting a constitutional amendment, satisfied a requirement that such an amendment should be submitted “to the electors of the state at the next general election (and should be ratified by) a majority of the electors.” The court said this conclusion is impliedly recognized by another constitutional provision that the calling of a constitutional convention must be by the affirmative vote of “a majority of all the electors voting at” a general election…”

This court decision, and others since, have recognized that the term “majority of electors” is to be read as “a majority of all the electors voting at” — with one exception.

I’ll not divulge the exception herein… this is a civics quiz.

I am, however, disappointed that the Portsmouth Daily Times would take the word of an elected official concerning the legal ramifications of a charter amendment’s verbiage. Mr. Williams is, once again, in my opinion, dead wrong.

Kevin Johnson

VOTE – February 3, 2009

Filed under: ELECTION,Uncategorized — tkm January 28, 2009 @ 22:0 pm

VOTE YES ON CHARTER CHANGE!!!!!!!!!

Click image for larger view:

WHY AMEND THE CHARTER TO LIMIT TAXING AUTHORITY?

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board [GASB], which was established in 1984 to set accounting and reporting standards for state and local governments, states in its Concepts Statement Number 1, The Objectives of Financial Reporting:

“Accountability requires governments to answer to the citizenry–to justify the raising of public resources and the purpose for which they are used. Governmental accountability is based on the belief that the citizenry have the right to know, a right to receive openly declared facts that may lead to public debate by the citizens and their elected representatives….”

Government accounting systems are designed to hold elected officials accountable for the proper use of resources entrusted to them by the citizenry. These resources are obtained from the citizenry by the various taxes and fees imposed upon them by the elected officials. To accomplish this objective government accounting requires the use of a “fund”. A “fund” may be viewed as money collected for a specific purpose. The basic governmental fund is called the General Fund. Paul Copley, Ph.D.,CPA, Director of the School of Accounting at James Madison University and author of The Essentials of Accounting for Governmental and Not-For-Profit Organizations states, “The General Fund accounts for most of the basic services provided by the government”. Basic services include wages and other ordinary costs paid for administration, health, public safety, parks, recreation, street maintenance, repairs, sanitation, etc. Most basic services are financed through the collection of property taxes, fees, licenses, fines, income taxes, etc. Property taxes are usually the most important source of financing for the General Fund (basic) services.

Another major type of government fund is call a Capital Improvement Fund or Capital Project(s) Fund. Dr. Copley describes a Capital Project(s) Fund as one that “accounts for financial resources to be used for acquisition or construction of major capital facilities…”. Major asset acquisitions are usually financed by revenues collected specifically for such acquisitions. The Portsmouth City Charter currently designates a portion of the City’s income tax to be used for such acquisitions through the Capital Improvement Fund. Approximately, $ 1.4 million was collected through the city income tax for this purpose in 2008. Bonds may also be issued to acquire major capital assets, but the collection of the money to repay such bonds would generally be made through the General Fund. While major asset acquisitions may be made using General Fund monies, it seems to circumvent the intent of the Concepts Statement of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, quoted above.

The city has made major asset acquisitions through the General Fund in the past year that should have been made using capital money that was provided by the income taxes. The acquiring of these major assets through the General Fund causes an increase in the current property taxes that the citizens must pay. Higher property taxes impact the poor, elderly, and those on fixed income most severely. This is especially true in difficult economic times when the effect of property taxes is magnified since they must be paid irrespective of the income of the taxpayer. If additional capital acquisition monies are needed, a supplemental income tax should be submitted to the citizens for their approval. This would require the city officials provide a “rationale” to the citizenry for the additional tax needed to finance the acquisition of the equipment, vehicles, buildings, or improvements. Past experience has demonstrated that citizens are usually very generous in providing necessary resources for government programs when the need is adequately justified. Such was the case for the school levies that have been approved for the construction of the Portsmouth City Schools and, more recently, the New Boston Village School.

The proposed Charter Amendment will provide the citizens a stronger voice in the use of their tax dollars. Major assets may still be acquired though the Capital Improvement Fund, the Water Works Capital Improvement Fund, and the Sanitation Capital Improvement Fund without any change in procedures. The amendment will only affect the acquisition of assets acquired through the General Fund, which should be restricted to smaller items, less than $100,000 in total during the year. Hopefully, the Charter Amendment will make city officials more effective stewards of the resources the citizens have entrusted to them. Major acquisitions of equipment, vehicles, buildings, etc., should be more effectively planned and provided for with the capital money collected through the city income tax. Ordinary maintenance of currently owned equipment, vehicles, buildings, etc. should be improved to extend the lives and usefulness of the assets.

Adoption of the Charter Amendment will also give the citizens a voice in the incurrence of long-term debt (bonds) which will have to be repaid in the future from increased real estate taxes which would be collected within the General Fund while the proceeds from the sale of the bonds should be accounted for in the applicable capital improvement fund as an “Other Financing Source” according to the Government Accounting Standards Board. The portion of the taxes collected for the repayment of such long-term debt and the interest become a part of the property tax base for many years. Thus, such debt imposes a future cost that must be collected from the property owners for an extended period of time.

GASB Concepts Statement Number 1 further states, “…Financial reporting plays a major role in fulfilling government’s duty to be publicly accountable in a democratic society”. The charter amendment will help achieve this objective by allowing more citizen participation and input into major expenditure of the tax dollars that they have entrusted to their elected officials.

Yates vs MRDD (update)

Filed under: MRDD,Uncategorized — tkm January 25, 2009 @ 13:0 pm

On Friday, January 23, 2009, I got a phone call from Dan Mault to let me know neither he nor Dave Ross got demoted at Scioto County MRDD during the timeframe Z. Douglas Loper was being investigated for criminal misconduct with students. In addition and according to Mault neither he nor Ross was Civil Service employees prior to the Yates inquiries. It appears to me that there are some inconsistencies during the testimonies of both Miller and Oakley in the two day trial that took place on January 12-13, 2009.

Also, Oakley provided testimony that Mault released patient confidentiality. Mault told me at no time did he release any patient confidentiality to anyone. When the Scioto County MRDD School was challenged by the public sector on their position and their actions concerning the suspected molestation of students by a faculty member he (Mault) provided the public sector preapproved statements at the direction of Oakley. The only information he discussed with the public sector was information already being talked about because of the inquiries by Denise Yates, mother of one of the victims, during her research of what happened to her daughter while in the care of Scioto County MRDD.

I still contend it takes determination like shown by Denise Yates to bring justice. She was up against a lot of obstacles including but certainly not all inclusive the Scioto County MRDD School, a large corporation with an vast amount of cash flow that hired an attorney from Columbus, Ohio to protect the interest of the school and not the interest of a student; Denise Yates’s previous lawyer, Stan Bender, initially took her case but then wanted to settle prior to justice being served. After listening to a couple of the defense witnesses on the 2nd day of the trial, it appears some employees of the Scioto County MRDD School distorted the truth in order to protect the school and their own reputation rather than see justice served for a student entrusted to the MRDD program.

Yates v MRDD

Filed under: MRDD,Uncategorized — tkm January 19, 2009 @ 14:0 pm

Tidbits of Information from the trial:

During the second day of the trial Tony Miller, Principal at the time of the rape, testified Detective Charles of the Portsmouth Police Department and a representative from the Scioto County Prosecutors’ office conducted an internal investigation at the Scioto County MRDD school concerning the alleged charges against Z. Douglas Loper. After the investigation was concluded MRDD officials established the investigation conducted by Charles and the Prosecutor’s office was sufficient and final.

Also during his testimony Miller talked about his lawsuit against the Scioto County MRDD School and John Oakley. How he felt his tenure contract was not approved due to the school needing someone to take the fall for the Yates case. He also described how he felt Oakley had retaliated against him for his performance appraisal conducted with Oakley’s wife.

John Oakley’s testimony provided how plans were being discussed to bring Loper back to work at Scioto County MRDD. Oakley also imparted information that two individuals were demoted in the Adult Program Department. These two (2) individuals were Dan Mault for releasing student information to outside individuals and Dave Ross who took a position, which included a $5,000 cut in pay.

If it were not for Denise Yates’ perseverance and determination a thorough investigation would never had been done and Z. Douglas Loper might still be working at the Portsmouth MRDD School and students at the school might still be unprotected victims of his sexual molestation. If not for Denise Yates’ persistence the external investigation would not have been completed and the deficient inquiry conducted by Charles and the Scioto Prosecutors Office would have been final. If not for Denise Yates Loper could still be involved in our schools and abusing students; yes even yours.

This crime against this woman and her child took place in 1998; this is an example of what it takes to see justice served.
____________________________________

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Reinhold Niebuhr

Yates vs MRDD et al

Filed under: MRDD,Uncategorized — tkm January 14, 2009 @ 0:0 am

The trial between Yates vs MRDD in Scioto County Common Pleas Court, Judge Marshall’s Court room, wrapped up today, Tuesday, January 13th, 2009. The Plaintiff’s witnesses testified on the first day of the trial, Monday, January 12th, 2009, while today the Defense finished up the two-day trial with John Oakley. John Oakley is the retired Superintendent of the Vern Riffe School of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD) during the time Zane Douglas Loper committed crimes against female students of the MRDD School. Loper is currently serving time in the Ross County Correctional Institution for 3 counts of 3rd degree felony (ORC 2907.054) against a female child, 1 count 3rd degree felony (ORC 2907.054) against a female child, 1 count 3rd degree felony (ORC 2907.054) against a female child. His 18 year and 6 mo sentence commenced on May 6th, 2002 and is scheduled to expire on May 28th, 2020; he will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release. Loper was initially charged with 22 counts until a plea bargain was reached between Loper and the Scioto County Prosecutors office, which reduced his charges to the 5 counts listed above.

During closing remarks the Plaintiff’s attorney, D. Joe Griffith, told jurors the Defense Attorney and his witnesses did not bring facts to the witness stand but delivered a CYA type of defense. Also, during closing remarks Mr. Griffith reminded the jurors that at the time John Oakley was deposed, documented provided, his first concern was for the reputation of the school and secondly the safety of the students.

In my opinion during closing remarks by the Defense Attorney all he could produce was to instruct the jurors to find MRDD blameless in allowing a female student enrolled in their school to be sexually abused by a male staff member because of the possibility of a sexual discrimination lawsuit. John Oakley provided the excuse for not properly documenting and enforcing policy and procedures that a female student must be escorted to the restroom by another female staff member may give an appearance of discrimination. I don’t know about the rest of you but I would rather deal with a discrimination charge above placing a student(s), a staff(s) member and/or the school in a position to have to defend or prosecute a charge of gross sexual imposition, sexual assault or even rape. Mr. Oakley, even after an impending investigation and lawsuit, felt it unnecessary to reinforce policy and procedures through documentation. It appeared to me he was still more interested in public facade over student safety.

Prior to dismissing the jurors to deliberate and render a final decision Judge Marshall reminded the jurors they should rule only on the merits of the testimony heard and the documents (Exhibits) that will be available to them when they are excused to the jurors room; the exhibits are reviewed and approved by both sides. He also reminded them if the decision they render should be for the Plaintiff they must trust there was a conscious disregard and a reckless attitude by the MRDD staff (John Oakley and Tony Miller, Principal at the time of the offenses).

After about 1.5 hours (~6:30 pm) the jurors returned to the courtroom with a verdict that was read by Judge Marshall, Judgment for the Plaintiff’s. Remember, the Plaintiff’s had the Burden of Proof to show a reckless willful and wanting disregard by MRDD and staff.

Justice was Served.

Teresa

Additional Information:

CLICK: Yates vs MRDD et al

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