You can lead a politician to a cause, but you can’t make her think.
State Sen. Teresa Fedor’s (D., Toledo) puzzling and irresponsible support for a boycott of all local YMCA & JCC locations is a grandstanding and reckless manipulation of a difficult and sad situation.
There is no question the YMCA made mistakes in handling the closing of the South Y, and we have never called into question the sincerity of the coalition of neighbors that fought to keep the Y open. But the call for a boycott reeks of sour grapes and it is embarrassing for a state senator to attach her name to it by appearing at a rally at which it is initiated.
I am not suggesting the coalition walk away from its cause. But the foot-stamping theatrics of a boycott that could potentially hurt the scholarships and services of what is at the end of the day a private business, albeit a nonprofit one, risk turning communication into drama, with Fedor eager to play the role of drama queen.
Fedor should be working on communication and finding common solutions, not seeking headlines for a nonsensical and counterproductive call for a boycott. Fedor did not actively contribute to any public rallying for the membership drive that could have saved the Y, and reportedly only bought her own membership on the very last day of the drive, a pathetic and transparent attempt at political CYA as it was known by then that the Y was going to close. But Fedor is willing to jeopardize the more than 2,000 local Y employees who have nothing to do with the decision to close the South Y. With the many challenges facing her district, one would think Fedor could find far better ways to invest her time. Pay attention, voters, to your representative’s priorities.
Fedor accused the Y of delivering a “lump of coal” to the neighborhood; that is her opinion. But just because she received a lump of coal does not mean she has to let it do her thinking.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.
Archive for December, 2009
You can lead a politician to a cause, but you can’t make her think.
There’s one thing that Wil Wheaton wants to make very clear: “Memories of the Future” is not, repeat, NOT a “tell-all” book about his time working on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
“It was extraordinarily important to me that this was not some kind of stupid, gossipy book,” Wheaton said. “I despise that kind of thing. I just hate it. It’s the reality television of literature, and I absolutely cannot stand it.”
Indeed, “Memories of the Future” is instead a funny review of, and a loving tribute to, the first season of “Next Generation,” which began its television run in 1987. The first book, “Volume One,” was released in October and covers the first 13 episodes of the series. “Volume Two” is scheduled to come out next year.
Wheaton, now 37, was just 14 when he was cast as the Starship Enterprise’s resident teenager, Wesley Crusher. Now working primarily as a writer, Wheaton began revisiting his days in Starfleet by writing humorous reviews of the show for the Web site TV Squad. Though the feature was enormously popular, when parent company AOL slashed the site’s budget, Wheaton’s column was let go.
“I figured that was just sort of the end of it, and then I started getting e-mails from people — including e-mails from my editor at TV Squad — who really wanted me to do more columns, wanted me to finish the season,” Wheaton said.
Having already self-published several books about his life, family and career, Wheaton decided to compile a book based upon the columns. “Everything just kind of lined up, and it made sense to put at least the first season into two volumes,” he said.
Though the final book does share some behind-the-scenes memories, the meat of the project lies in its very funny and bitingly observant reviews. Though “Next Generation” would eventually rise to widespread acclaim and create some amazingly powerful television, it cannot be denied that its first years on the air could be, well, somewhat inconsistent in quality. Wheaton has plenty of material for comedy, but the jabs are always loving and never mean-spirited.
Wheaton cites the writers of “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ as a major influence in the tone and construction of these passages, and notes the fine line he was walking as a humorist. “This book was risky,” he said. “I wanted to make it crystal clear in the introduction that this was not a book that should be taken very seriously. This is a book that’s supposed to make you laugh. And like my friend Anthony says, ‘If you remember the first season of “Next Generation” with equal parts nostalgia and face-palm, then you’re gonna love this book.”
“Memories” also represents a major departure from Wheaton’s previously published works, which focus on the realities of growing up a child star and self-described geek, as well as married life and raising two teenage boys. Wheaton has a lot of experience writing humor (he performs improvisational and sketch comedy for the ACME Comedy Theater in Hollywood), but for many of his readers, the shift in tone may come as somewhat of a surprise.
“Writing comedy is very different from writing other things. Comedy has a very specific set of rules. It’s like writing music, you have to write in a very specific time,” Wheaton said. “And the time signature for comedy is different than the time signature for everything else that I do.
In addition, Wheaton believes that he brings a different perspective to the proceedings — not just that of a cast member, but of someone who came to “Star Trek” at a very formative time of his childhood.
“I’m really clear in the book, this is the way *I* remember it. I may have a detail here or there that’s a little off, but I worked really hard to talk to my friends from the cast and crew to make sure, ‘Okay, this is the way I remember it, is this really the way it happened?’ That was the most wonderful gift; the most super-unexpected, joyful gift of writing this book was re-connecting with people I love and recalling really wonderful times in my life.
“It was really neat to see that, as a matter of fact, everybody on ‘Next Generation’ loved it and cared about it and was as proud of it as I was when I was doing it. That wasn’t just me being a teenager. That was like, ‘Yep, it really was that awesome.’”
“Memories of the Future” and all of Wil Wheaton’s other books are available through his Web site: http://wilwheaton.typepad.com.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com
Adam Martinez said he learned how to serve Toledo at a very young age from mentors and peers. Now, after a lifelong experience of helping others in a variety of ways, Martinez will begin serving on Toledo City Council in January.
Martinez, a graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School and Lourdes College, said he will use his experience working with others during his time in the Air Force, owning a landscape business and working at the nonprofits Viva South Toledo and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to succeed on council.
Viva and LISC support neighborhood and community development.
“(Working for nonprofits) taught me how to certainly budget and manage my time, how to sell projects or a portion of projects to get them funded, find creative solutions for partnerships and kind of going out of the box and finding other people who are interested in the same thing, but may not necessarily have the same resources or know how,” Martinez, a Democrat, said.
At Viva, Martinez began working to establish the first Latino-based credit union in Ohio, said Celso Rodriguez, the executive director of Viva.
The future at-large councilman worked on the project after he left Viva and the credit union called Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) recently was chartered after five years of work, Martinez said.
“This is like the best Christmas present ever,” he said.
At LISC, Martinez worked to build good relationships with his customers, said Hugh Grefe the Senior Executive Director for the Toledo branch of the national organization.
“Adam was very good at having people have confidence in him and having people talk to him,” Grefe said.
Martinez’s master’s degree in organizational leadership and the master’s degree that he is currently earning in urban planning helped him at LISC and will help him on council, Grefe said.
“We’re all extremely excited that he’s a new member of city council; we know that means neighborhood development will have a special friend there,” he said.
Martinez has set two major goals for his first 100 days on council.
“My first priority is to help capitalize a revolving loan fund to help smaller minority contractors,” he said, explaining that with the loan the contractors can go after more municipal jobs.
The councilman-elect also has other plans for smaller businesses in Toledo. He plans to host a business “right start” program that would bring together economic development agencies, municipalities, larger organizations and small businesses for a one day event. The small businesses would then be able to learn the process of working with larger organizations, Martinez said.
“As I was campaigning and being a small business owner myself, I understand a lot of the bottlenecks and the lack of capacity on the government’s side to be proactive with small businesses,” he said.
His optimism is going to help Martinez be a good councilman, said Councilman Michael Craig, D- 3rd District. Craig worked with Martinez on the credit union and other development projects in South Toledo, he said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a negative attitude towards anything. He’s always tried to look on the bright side and tried to look at the positive things that were happening,” Craig said. “He’s been very good at that.”
Bring a dish to share. When my wife and I hear those five words, we think cookies. Easy to bake, easy to transport, and easy to clean up afterwards, a plate of cookies can be a wonderful addition to any holiday potluck.
You place your plate of cookies next to a seemingly identical set of cookies, and your heart sinks as you secretly hope that your cookies will be eaten amidst the cookie-competition on the countertop.
Throughout the evening, you keep an eye on the cookie section of the countertop to monitor the success of your cookies. Your plate remains virtually untouched while the cookies next to it are nearly gone.
Confused, you start to evaluate why people are choosing the competition over your cookies. You look at the plates; they are virtually the same. You look at the cookies on the plate; they both look tasty. You decide you need to try out the competition, so you grab one and take a bite.
As you chomp up the other guy’s cookie, you admit it’s pretty good, but you mentally defend your own cookie as you parse the differences in your head. At the end of the evening, you’re stuck with a plate full of uneaten cookies and unimportant questions floating through your head.
To fully understand why people would choose another person’s cookie over your own, you do need to ask questions; you need to look at all of the ingredients and efforts that went into your cookies to truly understand why you’re stuck with an uneaten plate of cookies.
Perhaps it was the fact that you did not follow the recipe closely enough when you were mixing up the cookie batter. Recipes are important, not only for baking cookies, but in creating anything that people desire.
Why do recipes exist? Recipes exist to make sure we pay attention to the details. Without a recipe, we freestyle. Without a recipe, we let our moods, feelings, and tastes to influence the amounts of ingredients we bake into our creations. We are feeling chocolately, so we add more chocolate. We are feeling healthy, so we skimp on the butter. The end result is a creation with unknown results.
Recipes go beyond the ingredients your creation calls for, they also tell you what order to add your ingredients, what temperature to bake your ingredients, and what time to take your ingredients out of the oven.
When you freestyle, you succumb to the temptation to mix everything together at the same time and to bake your cookies at a higher temperature to speed up the process. The result of your efficiency is an untasty cookie that nobody wants.
Businesspeople that approach sales and marketing with a deliberate recipe reach a point where profits and growth become predictable. They know that their cookies are mighty tasty; they know that their cookies, when placed on a full countertop of competitive options, will be gobbled up with haste.
Everything matters. Your recipe for growth takes more than just looks, more than just taste, and more than just proper placement – it takes everything blended together with deliberate precision. This deliberate precision is your recipe for a wonderful experience, a well-received product, and a value-adding proposition.
Yes, it may seem that in this economy there are fewer takers out there for your cookies, but people are still eating cookies everyday – you just need to bake up a tastier cookie.
If you are not sure what your recipe is, then you can rest assured that you do not have one (and that nobody is following it). Where do you start? You start by reverse engineering your previous successes, then you add a heaping portion of research. Mix your experience with your research until you see a consistent texture, bake for one week, let stand for one day, serve with a smile, and enjoy.
To see the recipes that Tom Richard recommends go to www.boltfromtheblue.com and enter the word CRUMBLES in the blueprint box.
On Dec. 21, the Lucas County Republican Party had a central committee meeting. When it was over, two men were claiming to be the Lucas County GOP chairman.
“I’m still the chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party,” Jon Stainbrook said following the meeting.
But attorney Jeff Simpson said he is the duly elected leader of the party.
Stainbrook said “the only meeting that took place” Dec. 21 was the one concerning a vote on collecting petitions and that vote passed unanimously.
According to Simpson supporters, the meeting did not adjourn properly and a vote to replace Stainbrook took place.
The evening was an “intra-party battle” for new leadership in the party, Simpson said.
“People were concerned with what they saw, and they were not happy. The leadership, the central committee believed, didn’t have the best interest of the candidates in mind, or the party in general in mind. A lot of people felt attacked, as if they weren’t welcome. They felt intimidated,” Simpson said. “This is a big picture, a big idea type of thing … It was not out of vengeance or any vindictive nature, it’s about can we do these things better.”
According to Chris Myers, a central committee and former executive committee member, motions were made to add a vote to remove Stainbrook and Meghan Gallagher, party Central Committee Chairwoman, to the agenda.
“Jon has some real genuine legal and ethical issues over his head,” Myers said. [See related story on Page A6] “The looming issues can hurt the Republicans next year, so we had to do something. It was better to get this done now so we can move forward with a clean slate.”
Both sides claim to have audio and/or video to support their claims.
Simpson said he was approached by a number of central committee members and asked if he were nominated to Lucas County GOP executive committee chair would he consider serving, he said. After taking some time to think about it, he concluded it was something he should do.
“After the ’07 election [in which he lost a bid for city council], I thought of myself as a volunteer rather than any type of candidate or front runner in the Republican Party. The more I thought about what I could give to the candidates and to the party it felt like something I could do and still keep my commitments,” Simpson said.
In the short term, Simpson is focused on making sure everything that happened Dec. 21 was proper, which he maintains it is, and making sure his faction adheres to the proper procedures as events progress.
The long term however, is Simpson’s main focus.
Simpson wants to unite the party, establish credibility in the county and get things in order so the Republicans can compete in next year’s state and local elections.
“We can’t lose focus on what’s important and why we do these things, and that’s to get Republicans elected,” he said.
The first step in getting Republicans elected is uniting the party and working together to deliver the message of the candidates, issues and party, Simpson said. In order to do this, Simpson said he needs Stainbrook’s supporters to continue to work for the party.
“This is about unity. This isn’t about us versus them. This isn’t to divide people. My focus is to bring people together. We can’t do what needs to be done with a handful of people,” Simpson said. “There are a lot of things that people can bring to the table that I’m going to need. So the people brought in by Mr. Stainbrook, I need them to stay. I need their talent. Help me do what you came here to do. You came here to build a party; I want to build a party.”
Simpson understands it will take time to build trust within the county but will work for that trust as the party moves forward.
“We’re working to build an efficient organization. Something that you can build on. We’ll find candidates that adhere to Republican principles of small government and give the voters a chance to be represented and be heard,” Simpson said.
Simpson graduated from UT’s College of Law and is a practicing defense attorney in Toledo.
Simpson serves as president of the Toledo Young Republicans and Northwest Ohio Young Republicans regional vice-chair. As things progress Simpson may have to resign from those positions, but he will remain an active member, he said.
Stainbrook has been reported saying Lynn Olman of the Lucas County Board of Elections is responsible for the “coup” that voted him out as chair.
“What happened tonight was Lynn Olman from the Board of Elections tried to bring a bunch of people to the meeting who were not registered Republicans so he could get a vote and try to not pass the fact that we need petitions to get on the ballot,” Stainbrook said.
Olman thinks the accusation is “laughable.”
“Never have I gotten so much credit for doing so little,” he said. “I wasn’t the person who planned the event and I didn’t make any motions, I just happened to be there.”
Olman confirmed that he did make five phone calls, all to central committee members from Maumee, to have them come out to the meeting. Olman said he wanted to make sure the party had support for the process by which a central committee member gets placed on the ballot.
“It’s important for someone who is going to run for office have to put forth a little effort,” Olman said.
To be recognized in their positions, State Central Committeman Paul Hoag and Simpson need to fill out a certification of new officers with the Lucas County Board of Elections.
A certification of new officers has been filed with the board on Dec. 23, according to Olga Vallejo at the Lucas County Board of Elections. The Lucas County Board of Elections will host a special meeting of the board on Dec. 26 at 8:30 a.m. discussing the certification of the GOP central committee and executive committee members to the State Republican Party.
“Right now we’re doing our best to get organized, we’re fighting against the season a little bit,” Simpson said.
The Ohio Revised Code, section 3517.06, has steps laid out for instances where two organized groups claim to be the rightful county or executive committee. The Ohio Republican Party explains that law.
“Leadership decisions are made at the local level by the county party’s central committee and certified by the board of elections,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine. “If there’s a disagreement over who represents the official county Republican Party organization, the Republican state committee is required by law to meet within 30 days of board certification to resolve the conflict.”
Prosecutors have been informed that an in-kind donation given to the Lucas County Republican Party was not reported in accordance with state campaign finance laws.
In November 2008, members of the Ohio Republican Party were in Toledo assisting with the John McCain presidential campaign. The rooms they stayed in were supposed to be charged to the Ohio Republican Party, but were mistakenly charged to a Lucas County Republican Party member instead.
Lucas County GOP executives told the member they would deal with the hotel, a source inside the party said.
After mix-ups with room charges for Ohio Republican Party members, the Lucas County Republican Party was compensated for the cost of the 2008 election victory party, which was unrelated to the room incident.
Mike Sapara, general manager of the Park Inn, confirmed that the party was not charged for its victory party, a cost of $1,081.67.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, section 3517.01, “In-kind contribution means anything of value other than money that is used to influence the results of an election or is transferred to or used in support of or in opposition to a candidate, campaign committee, legislative campaign fund, political party, political action committee, or political contributing entity and that is made with the consent of, in coordination, cooperation, or consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of the benefited candidate, committee, fund, party, or entity.”
No statement of an in-kind donation has been reported by the GOP for services from the Park Inn in the 2008 post-general report or the amended 2008 pre-general report filed Dec.11, 2008.
The incident has been reported to Cuyahoga County Prosecutors office for further investigation.
Jon Stainbrook, whose chairmanship of the Lucas County GOP is being disputed by Jeff Simpson, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Stainbrook was a failed candidate for county auditor and twice lost bids for election to city council.
Currently, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors office is investigating an alleged signature fraud case involving campaign finance forms filed during Stainbrook’s chairmanship. The case was sent to Cleveland on Oct. 26 after Lucas County Chief Investigator Frank Stiles concluded his investigation because of “allegations that are flying around” in the Toledo market.
Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller sent a letter to the Lucas County Board of Elections and Ohio Secretary of State on July 30, alerting them to potential inconsistencies among signatures on Lucas County GOP campaign finance reports and other official documents.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, section 3517.10, “The statement of contributions and expenditures shall be signed by the person completing the form.” Under Ohio law, according to the office of the Ohio Secretary of State, “A fifth-degree felony conviction [of election falsification] may result in a prison sentence of six to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.”
Other campaign finance issues have occurred under Stainbrook’s chairmanship. The Lucas County Republican Party filed its semi-annual campaign finance report on July 31 and received a letter of 21-day notice to amend the report Sept. 11.
Among the items requiring clarification, the Lucas County Board of elections requested “receipts for the reimbursements for Stainbrook in the amount of $2534.98 and Meghan Gallagher for the amount of $600,” that were reported in the semi-annual report statement of expenditures.
The Board of Elections voted to send a second 21-day notice letter to amend the outstanding semi-annual report before reporting the incident to the Ohio Elections Commission on Dec. 8. A second 21-day notice letter was sent by certified letter on Dec. 8 and signed for on Dec.9. The Republican Party has until Dec. 30 to file its amended report.
As of press time Dec. 22, no amended report has been filed.
A new public and private partnership, Toledo Brand Initiative, is starting a campaign to “brand” Toledo.
“We need to be able create one brand, one city. A consistent message we know the community agrees with,” said David Nolan, president and CEO of Destination Toledo.
The campaign will engage local businesses and residents to share what is good and bad about Toledo. Through public summits the group hopes to define how the region sees itself and in turn develop a campaign to market Toledo.
The Toledo Brand Initiative has an online survey for those who cannot make it to one of the community forums. Surveys are available at www.toledoregionstory.com.
The campaign begins in January with a business information session Jan.6 at the Toledo Club and community forums will follow later in the month. Applied Storytelling, a brand development firm based out of Berkeley, Calif., will work with Toledo to facilitate the business meetings and public forums. Forums will take place:
- Jan. 25 at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library McMaster Center, 325 N. Michigan St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.;
- Jan. 26 at Oregon Council Chamber, 5330 Seaman Road, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.;
- Jan. 27 at Olander Park Nederhouser Community Hall, 6930 Sylvania Ave., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.;
- Jan. 28 at BGSU Bowen-Thompson Student Union, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.;
- Feb. 2 at Maumee City Hall Chamber, 400 Conant St. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“What we’ve really tried is to make it as inclusive as possible. Anyone at any time can share a comment online, and were hosting forums for business, the community and civic organizations. We want people to get engaged in the process” said Eric La Brecque, a principal at Applied Storytelling.
Owens Community College is expanding access to higher education in Northwest Ohio by opening a new educational complex at Arrowhead Park in Maumee next month.
The Arrowhead Park Learning Center will provide academic courses for students and non-credit training and certificate programs for businesses and their employees as the new home of the college’s Workforce and Community Services Division.
“Our research and analysis showed needs for this area with individuals interested in basic education and courses for students and business people to meet their career, degree or continuing education goals,” said Renay Scott, vice provost at Owens.
The grand opening and first classes at the Arrowhead Center will be Jan. 11 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The center is located at 1724 Indianwood Circle in the business park.
“We’ll have a better opportunity to work with companies located here by offering custom courses designed for businesses on-site or at the Arrowhead Center,” said Michael Bankey, vice president of Workforce and Community Services at Owens, whose office is located there.
“We invite businesses to contact us here for their meeting and training needs.”
Owens already conducted some internal auditor’s training last year on-site at Metal Forming and Coining Corporation in Maumee. The company makes engine and transmission components for Chrysler, Ford, GM, Dana, Cummins and Navistar with a total of 94 employees.
“The Arrowhead Center would be more convenient for our training needs in the future,” said Kathy Church, director of process engineering at Metal Forming who worked with Owens.
All of the non-credit courses and most of the work force training programs will be offered at the Arrowhead Center. The technical labs will remain at the Center for Development and Training on Tracy Road, according to Bankey.
“We will have non-credit courses available at four locations,” Bankey said, referring to the training center on Tracy Road in Northwood, The Source in Downtown Toledo, Arrowhead Center in Maumee and the college’s campus in Findlay.
The Workforce and Community Services Division is dedicated
to providing customer-driven workforce development, job training
and continuing education for business, industry and residents throughout Northwest Ohio, according to Bankey.
“We’ve already had some people stop and ask when classes will begin at Arrowhead. We have families out here that wouldn’t drive to the main campus or development center in Northwood. I think people will feel comfortable coming here from communities on the west side even from Sylvania,” Bankey said.
Workforce and Community Services was honored for excellence in a brochure design by the Learning Resources Network, an international association in lifelong learning. The winning entry, the “Work — Play” brochure includes a cover design that looks like a magazine and course offerings from professional training to personal enrichment, Bankey said.
The brochure was selected from more than 140 entries and featured in a showcase of exemplary programs at the LERN annual conference Nov. 19 through Nov. 21 in Savannah, Ga.
Credit classes will begin Jan. 21 at Arrowhead but the first non-credit class, “Intro to PC and Windows,” will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the evening of the grand opening.
The newly renovated 24,665 square-foot site at Arrowhead Park features 12 classrooms, four computer laboratories, 19 offices and one state tested nursing assistant laboratory, all with state-of-the-art technology and academic resources to provide expanded educational choices for meeting the current and future needs of students and businesses throughout the region.
Basic education courses in economics, psychology, sociology, improving spoken or written communications and business administration will be offered at Arrowhead Center, Scott said.
Children’s courses in LEGO Engineering for ages 5 to 12, video games, yoga and homeschooling classes for families are available there.
Owens renewed its partnership with Heidelberg University on Dec. 15 so course credits would transfer toward a bachelor’s degree at the university that has a branch campus in Arrowhead Park. It is essentially a renewal of a similar agreement created 16 years ago when Owens became a community college.
“It’s an excellent partnership to help meet the educational needs of students and business professionals in that area,” Scott said.
It’s a better opportunity for students with Owens opening the learning center in Arrowhead Park to finish their college education at the Heidelberg branch there that was designed specifically for degree completion, said Tamara Williams, associate vice provost at Owens.
The first students have already enrolled to begin taking advantage of the opportunity in January, said Sue Stine, associate director of admissions, who worked on the agreement with Williams and officials from Heidelberg.
Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and more than 130 technical program areas in agriculture, business, health sciences, public safety and emergency preparedness, skilled trades, and engineering and transportation technologies.
Designed by The Collaborative Inc. in Toledo, the exterior of Owens’ Arrowhead Center is a gray masonry single-story structure with the Owens logo above the center’s main entrance. Program Solutions Group in Perrysburg served as the project manager of the renovation.
“The City of Maumee has been wonderful throughout the whole process of planning and creating the Arrowhead Center,” Bankey said.
There are only a few days left to go until it’s a new decade and boy where did time go. We remember celebrating the new millennium with family and friends only a short time ago. In 1999, Michael Jordan retired for the 2nd time, President Clinton was acquitted, and The Dow Jones closed above 11,000 for the first time ever. Looking back over the past ten years, there is still no better NBA super star as the great Michael Jordan, politicians continue to fool around, and The Dow Jones is still not back above 11,000. There are many lessons to be learned.
In the 90’s it seemed like all the stock market did was go up. Yet, in the last decade we have suffered two major bear markets. In the first one, the S&P 500 Index went down 49% and this last time it went down 57%. Buying and holding onto investments for a retiree living off a stock market account just didn’t work. Today and in the future, a retiree needs to be prepared as the world has become faster moving and more volatile. There are steps that can be taken to protect your principal against loss.
Indexed annuities, proved to be one of the biggest advancements in the last decade. Sure they aren’t perfect and aren’t the solution for every investor, but the concept is simple with most accounts. Set aside money for the long-term and an investor can participate in the good years of the stock market, while avoiding losses in the bad years. Every time an investor makes money it becomes their new starting point. They can only go forward and never backwards, due to a stock market decline.
The last decade was a yo-yo economy. That is, “You are on Your own.” The 10 largest bankruptcies in US history occurred in the last decade. Toledo and Northwest Ohio has felt a large brunt of this as we still suffer with major employment problems and pensions that were once considered safe have been turned over to the Pension Benefit and Guarantee Corporation. Relying on someone else after years of service isn’t a sure bet anymore. Plus, many other companies in the last 10 years have done away with traditional defined pension plans and have turned to defined contribution plans putting your future retirement in your hands. For some, that may seem scary, while for others having more control over their own future is a great opportunity.
The government has spent our country into bankruptcy. In the last few years, our politicians have spent more money than we can even imagine. The website www.usdebtclock.org shows this point in real time. If you haven’t visited this site before, you really should. Here are a couple highlights. Our nation currently has over $12,000,000,000,000 in debt. It would take every US tax payer over $111,000 just to pay off our current level of debt. Keep in mind, we said tax payer, because only about 1/3 of the population of the US pays taxes.
Now let us look at what everyone owes. The total future liabilities for social security payments, medicare costs, and prescription drug benefits, each liability per citizen would be over $346,000. Add the estimated $54,000 that every person has in personal debt and we are literally in a world of hurt.
How will the government ever collect this debt? In our opinion it is simple, raise taxes. Taxes currently are at one of the lowest levels in history. According to some estimates 40% of a family’s net worth is in their retirement account, so where do you think higher taxes will come from? If you are like us and feel that taxes will be higher in the future, you will want to learn how to correctly move your money in the right direction. That means moving money from taxable to tax-deferred accounts to finally tax-free accounts.
The next decade will be history in the making. Change is coming, and depending upon how you plan for change, it can be your best friend or worst enemy. Take what you have learned in the last ten years and use that knowledge to put a plan in place to improve in the next decade. If you don’t feel that you know all you should know about retirement, take time to continue to get educated and then take action.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information about The Retirement Guys, tune in every Saturday at 1 PM on 1370 WSPD or visit www.retirementguysradio.com. Securities are offered through NEXT Financial Group Inc., Member FINRA / SIPC. The Retirement Guys are not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group. Their office is located at 1700 Woodlands Drive, Suite 100, Maumee, OH 43537. The guarantee of an indexed annuity is subject to the claims paying ability of the insurance company.
Very rarely does any one person receive the best and worst the life can throw at someone. Even more rarely is anyone exposed to completely opposite ends of the spectrum at the same time. I guess Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke must just be lucky.
While being chastised by Congressmen and loathed by a large portion of Americans, Bernanke has somehow been blessed with the love and admiration of many of his colleagues – big bankers – and the media, most notably Time Magazine, whose cover his visage recently graced.
Though Time praises the professor-turned-bureaucrat for his apparent victory over the free markets, a sense of foreboding is in the air. Well-read individuals will, of course, recall at the cover of Time once depicted the face of another banker – Alan Greenspan – right before the economy turned sour and the sky started falling.
Ben Bernanke’s tenure has Chairman has coincided with the second half of what may very well prove to be the worst decade in stocks in recorded history (Lauricella, Wall Street Journal). You read write; even the 1930s, home in history to the Great Depression, can’t hold a candle to the decade we’re just exiting. Great Recession, they say? Ya, sure.
But fear not, there’s still good news, for the last decade, terrible as it may have been, is now ending. And as any good investor knows, odds are that terrible decades tend not to gather in groups. Put more simply: expect better times in the 2010s.
Like the 2000s, the financial markets had a very difficult decade in the 1970s, culminating with Jimmy Carter. However, after a final shakeout in the markets during the late ‘70s, improvement came swiftly in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan – after all, they don’t lend popular economic terms like Reaganomics to just anyone.
While we can bet there are better times ahead, hopefully we can emerge from this decade with a few lessons learned; lessons that will make the next decade all the more bountiful. If the 2000s have taught us anything at all, hopefully they have left no doubt in our minds that the theory of buy-and-hold as an investment strategy is deader than a doorknob.
Hopefully investors can leave the 2000s with a greater respect for the financial markets, and for the knowledge required to use those markets to one’s advantage. Hopefully advisors, in their downtime, have finally gotten around to reading the last chapter of Markowitz’s pioneering work on diversification, Portfolio Selection: Efficient Diversification of Investments.
The chapter I’m referring to, as boring and academic as it is, specifically mentions that the principles discussed were not intended for real-world application.
Of course, the appeal of Markowitz’s work to the masses is at least partially due to laziness. Using concepts laid out in Portfolio Selection and developed even further by academics, the investing public fell in the love with the idea that they could somehow build a diverse portfolio spread across several classes of assets, and then stuff it in the back of a drawer until tax time.
Unfortunately for investors, this simply isn’t the case. The financial markets are not a beast that can be understood withr only occasional review. They require constant study and continual maneuvering in order to achieve any kind of profit. Anyone who thinks otherwise will likely experience many more decades of poor performance going forward.
Dock David Treece is a stockbroker licensed with FINRA. He works for Treece Financial Services Corp., www.TreeceInvestments.com. The above information is the express opinion of Dock David Treece and should not be used without outside verification.