Nate Masternak’s latest exhibit is more than a portrait of an artist as a young man; it is a journey into the creative process. Masternak’s “Analytical Odysseys 2011” marks his solo debut. The exhibit is set to open at 6 p.m. June 3 in The Secor Studios sixth floor gallery.
“This is honestly the first solo show I’ve had in a real gallery space. The subject matter of the work in the show is thoughts, feelings, ideas, and logic. That’s where the title comes from. The best thing about working in the Secor is all of the connections I’ve made with other artists, before I came here I was working alone out of my parents’ basement,” Masternak said. “I’ve been drawing since I was very young, painting came later, but it wasn’t until I was in the Arts Commission’s Young Artist at Work program that I was pleased with what I was doing. That program was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Up until then I wasn’t really sure how far my talent could take me.”
Masternak’s talent has been showcased in group shows at highly respected venues such as the Parkwood Gallery, the Sanger Branch Library, Artomatic 419!, 20 North Gallery, and the Toledo Museum of Art. He has also been involved with a number of community projects such as the mural for Cherry Street Mission, created with Ben Miller through Dr. Lorna Gonsalves’ Community HeArtbeats organization in 2007 and the Arts Commission’s mix twenty10 fundraiser.
“One of my biggest influences as an artist is Terry Burton. He taught me about art and when I started to see him selling his work, that’s when I started to think that being an artist was something that I could do. I have a number of things coming up, including a group show at the Arts Commission’s Parkwood Gallery and I’m looking to get involved with Prizm. I’m also currently working on getting my own website going. There’s just a lot going on.”
The opening will also feature live music by Stephen Masternak and will run until 11 p.m.
The Secor Studios are located at 425 Jefferson Ave. in Downtown Toledo. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
For more information on display dates visit the Secor Artists page on Facebook.
Archive for May, 2011
Nate Masternak’s latest exhibit is more than a portrait of an artist as a young man; it is a journey into the creative process. Masternak’s “Analytical Odysseys 2011” marks his solo debut. The exhibit is set to open at 6 p.m. June 3 in The Secor Studios sixth floor gallery.
Comedian Carlos Mencia doesn’t have a lot of specific memories of the last time he played in Toledo, where he will appear at Connxtions Comedy Club on June 3 and 4. When you’ve been on the road for more than two decades, places, gigs and shows tend to blend together.
“I’ve been touring for a long time. I mean, I’ve been playing for going on 24 years. It’s been a while, brother,” Mencia said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. Then he started singing a Johnny Cash song he feels a special kinship to: “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
“When he sings that song, and he says all those cities, I’ve been to all those cities,” he said with a laugh.
But for all the stops the famous comic has made, one specific performance will always remain firm in his memory. He had been studying at California State University in Los Angeles when one night he decided to perform at an open mic night at the famous Laugh Factory.
“I remember it exactly. I remember the fact that, you know, my entire life, my parents were very strict about not saying stupid things in front of other people. My mother was always catching me, saying, ‘Hey, you better not say that here, and you better not say it now,’” Mencia said.
“I said in this one show what I had been thinking. And everybody laughed. And I realized, Oh my God, this is the place where I can say the things that I’ve been thinking my whole life.”
From there, Mencia said, he knew that he was onto something. “I’m one of those people that doesn’t believe in ‘try.’ I believe that, if you have the talent to do it, you gotta do it. It’s like watching an athlete. The difference between the greatest athletes and the guys that are really good is in between their head. It’s not physical. As soon as I got laughs onstage, I knew I could do this. And at that point, it’s all up to me.”
It was that competitive nature that drove him in his early years, though looking back now, Mencia noted how as a result, his early material was tinged with a lot of anger.
“It’s probably why the earlier 22 years of my career were very aggressive when I was onstage. Because I didn’t want to fail. And I knew I had to work hard, and I knew I had to do whatever it took. It’s funny how, as a comedian, I’ve changed. It seems when I’m onstage, I’m not as aggressive anymore. And it seems to be funnier than it used to. It’s just a different perspective.”
It took more than a decade of toil on the road and in clubs before Mencia got his biggest break with the Comedy Central show “Mind of Mencia.” He said that, generally, he had creative control over the show’s content but his network always had a hand in reshaping and filtering what was presented.
“Most of the time, because of the type of show that I did, and the material that we were talking about, and the edginess of it, yeah, they were always, ‘Well, don’t say it like that, say it like this. Don’t do it like that, do it like this.’ Massaging. It was annoying. But it’s the process, that’s all it is.”
In addition to the pressures from the network, there was a different kind of pressure from fans who channeled their aggression toward Mencia after the departure of Dave Chappelle, as “Mind” was seen as a replacement for Chappelle’s much-loved sketch comedy.
“I didn’t feel any of that pressure until I started getting the emails, like, ‘Who is this f***** a****** who replaced Chappelle? Why did they replace Chappelle with this d***?’ And I’m like, hey, guys, I’m not replacing anybody, man. This is my show, his show is his show. Matter of fact, I got shafted in the process, because I was supposed to follow Chappelle. Then there wouldn’t have been any comparisons whatsoever. But it is what it is, and you just gotta do the best you can.”
“Mind of Mencia” was canceled in 2008. Now, his focus is on his stage show, which, he said, is a full, polished evening of comedy that he has been working on for a long time.
“Most comedians, what they do is ‘try out’ their material. I had two and a half hours of material that I had to whittle down to about an hour. So, for me, the response is really different. 100 percent of the jokes work, 100 percent of the time. Now, I’m getting to the point where I’m not, ‘Do these work?,’ but, ‘How can I make them all, on a scale of 1-10, at least a nine?’ And that’s where I’m at.”
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.
At the May 31 Toledo City Council Economic Development committee hearing, Mayor Mike Bell spoke about his most recent trip to China. It was also announced by Scott Prephan, the investment broker for Dashing Pacific Group Ltd, that a letter of intent had been signed with Rudolph/Libbe to play a role in the construction of the Marina District should the sale be approved by City Council. At their later regularly scheduled Council Meeting, the legislation allowing the sale of the Marina District was approved.
“There has been a lot of concern over this particular project, when we went back to China last week, I think we covered a lot of ground in being able to be able to get this project moving back in a forward direction,” Bell said. “Not only are Dashing Pacific prepared to buy the land, they are prepared to put a $200 million to $300 million dollar project on that land.” He said if we looked around to see what $200 to $300 million would buy that you could almost buy the City of Toledo, that this project would change our riverfront into something it should have been some time ago.
Bell referenced the union concern and said that he has to represent everyone in our community, he said there has never been a time in our area where a project this large has taken place without union workers, he did not think this time would be any different. Bell said the cultural differences creates a scenario where the Chinese are more action oriented. “They are used to ‘OK you make a deal’ and start moving on it,” Bell said.
“We have been criticized for keeping this low key,” Bell said. But he said, other cities have tried to contact Dashing telling them that if Toledo wasn’t interested, their cities were and that was why they had tried to keep things low key. Bell said that foreign investment in China had spurred development there, and that is what they are trying to do here, spur development with foreign investment.
“The hard part was getting them to believe in Toledo,” Bell said. “We have to be able to believe in what they can do for us.”
Toledo Councilman Rob Ludeman said Cincinnati was building and that we have to view them and similar cities as our competition. He said they are accepting all kinds of investment in their community.
“When we first started to reach out across the ocean … they had never heard of the City of Toledo,” Bell said. He said other cities are doing what we are doing but they are being low key about it. He said Michigan was in China right before they were.
Prephan expressed the gratitude of the two Chinese Developers to the Mayor and his delegation. He said Scott Libbe from Rudolph/Libbe was part of the delegation to China. Prephan said his voice mail was full of messages from people interested in this type of development. “We’ve firmed up an agreeement, a letter of intent, for the Rudolph/Libbe folks to be participatory in the construction of what happens at the Marina District,” Prephan said. “A lot of that stems from the time and effort they put into the relationship.”
Bill Rudolph, chairman of Rudolph/Libbe, said he has been personally involved in talks with Scott Prephan and Simon Guo for two years, Scott Libbe their vice president, went to China to discuss their goals and Rudolph/Libbe agreed to be their construction manager should council approve the sale.
“This is refreshing. It’s a great opportunity to bring new people to Toledo, with them new businesses to Toledo,” said Rudolph. “We believe strongly that Council should move ahead to allow Dashing Pacific to develop the Marina District and do so expeditiously and without unnecessary burdens or restrictions that unnecessarily hamper development in our community.”
The legislation to allow the sale to Dashing was unanimously approved by all 12 members of Toledo City Council at their regularly scheduled Council Meeting that took place several hours after the Economic Development committee meeting.
Dashing Pacific will be purchasing 69 acres of land at the Marina District for $3.8 million dollars. Deputy Mayor Tom Crothers announced at the Economic Development committee meeting that Dashing was also interested in an additional 22.75 acres of Marina District property. Crothers said this area includes the Acme Plant and Edison Park and that if a similar per acre sale price is negotiated it would generate an additional $1.25 million dollars.
Dr. Holly Atkinson wants women to think about their appetite.By appetite, she does not mean food. She means what women want, on and off the job.
“I still think we’re a society not engaged in women’s appetite,” Atkinson said. “I want to get women to think about what they want.”
She said her mantra is that women can have it all, just not all at once. The idea rests on balancing job mastery and strong intimate relationships based on priorities.
Thinking of core values, she said, and aligning behavior with those values will help women avoid the burden of stereotypes that often cause women to overextend their capabilities.
Atkinson, who got the idea from watching the women around her, said she believes women still need permission to engage in successful careers and love because historically, women needed that OK.
“My goal is to give women the permission to really think about and pursue what they want in life,” she said.
Atkinson is the chief medical officer and senior medical correspondent for HealthiNation, a company that films and produces health videos. She is also the assistant professor of medicine and co-director of the Advancing Idealism in Medicine program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and an assistant professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
She will talk at The University of Toledo (UT)’s Second Women’s Leadership Forum Luncheon on from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 1 at The Pinnacle, 1772 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee.
The forum costs $20 a person and includes lunch.
Carrie Herr, director of UT’s Executive Center for Global Competitiveness and co-director of the forum, said women’s imbalance of success in the workplace and love lives often drains them.
“Our goal is to address leadership issues for women throughout the region,” Herr said.
She said this year’s keynote speaker, Atkinson, was chosen by request from women who attended last year’s forum. Herr and her co-director, Debbe Skutch, kept hearing about how many roles women perform to be successful.
“We felt it was appropriate to bring someone in to address how women do all of these things and maintain their health,” Herr said.
Skutch said she started the forum because she noticed the number of women executives and leaders who were in need of the resources she and Herr could provide.
“We were overwhelmed with the response,” she said, “that showed us there is a very hungry community out there wanting these resources.”
She said the important thing is that the forum is business-oriented, so women can balance what they learn with business. She said the forum also provides sources for women to network.
About 200 participants are registered for the forum. Last year, when the forum was free, about 300 people attended.
The title of Janiva Magness’ 2010 disc says it all: “The Devil Is an Angel Too.”
“I knew instantly I needed to do the song,” she said. “It was not only going to be the title cut, it turned out it was the theme of the record.”
Twelve tracks explore darkness and light.
One of the singer’s favorite songs is “Walkin’ in the Sun.”
“It’s an old Percy Sledge tune that I first became aware of in the ’70s from a cover by a band called Rufus, and the lead singer for Rufus was a woman named Chaka Kahn,” Magness said. “I have been carrying around that tune for that long, hoping one day that I might have the opportunity to sing it.
“And I just don’t know anyone who has had the experience of being beat up by life and then coming out the other side — I don’t know anyone who has had that experience and not known that feeling of what it’s like to walk from darkness into light; it’s beautiful.”
Magness knows. Growing up in Detroit, she lost both parents to suicide by the time she turned 16.
“I went through 12 foster places in two years. That’s not an uncommon story, sadly,” she said during a call from her Los Angeles home. “[Carrie] was an unlikely candidate to be a foster parent, yet she ended up being the one that was willing to truly stand up for me when no one else would. She wasn’t willing to let me go back out on the street again. She was a kind and loving and generous adult that had boundaries.
“What great luck it was to have found her. It didn’t just change one thing in my life, it ultimately changed everything; it changed the end of the story for me.”
She credits the right foster parent and the blues with saving her.
“The music has carried me through, given me hope. It helped me in some of the darkest times to understand that I’m not alone,” Magness said. “It lifts my heart, it soothes my soul; it always has.”
These days she offers comfort and hope by sharing her story as a national spokesperson for Casey Family Programs and as an ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America.
“It turns out the purpose of the early part of my life and the struggles — and also the fact that I’ve come through it and come out the other side and most days I’m a pretty happy person — to be able to say that to youth that are still in foster care is huge,” she said. “[Sharing] helps it make sense for me; maybe I’m going to be able to help someone else.”
She added, “My job is about human connection: The gift is the music.”
Magness — the second woman to win the Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year besides Koko Taylor — will headline the 2011 Blues & Jazz Festival at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania at 10 p.m. June 11.
Editor’s note: Toledo Free Press will follow the Blank family of Millbury for one year as they rebuild their lives after a June 5 tornado destroyed their Main Street home.
When Ed and Julie Blank lost their home on the night of June 5, they also lost the joy of watching Maddie Walters ride her bicycle, play in the yard and just be one of the kids in the neighborhood.
And while they only see the second-grader on occasional visits, they think of her frequently and want the best for the little girl who lost her whole family and home to the tornado.
“I miss seeing her and her brother Hayden riding their bikes on the driveway and they had a basketball hoop out there,” Julie Blank said. “They used to come over and go swimming, and I am sure I will miss that.”
Maddie’s aunt and legal guardian, Amy Sigler, does her best to keep her late sister’s daughter connected to the Blanks and the rest of the Millbury neighborhood. Amy brings Maddie to walk the property where her home once stood.
“It is something we do periodically. Drive through to just be there. That is where she was born and grew up. If neighbors are out, we say hello to them.”
But Amy and the Blanks were connected long before the tornado. Amy’s husband, Craig, grew up next door to Julie, and later Amy became her Mary Kay consultant.
Then, six months before the tornado, Ed’s son, Eddie, purchased the Siglers home in Millbury.
With that purchase, God’s plan was under way, according to Amy. She and her husband moved to Northwood with their twin daughters, Abbie and Evie, who are one year younger than Maddie.
Their new one-story home is handicap accessible. This ended up being helpful when they brought Maddie home in a wheelchair because of the injuries sustained when the tornado threw her 20 feet into the air.
Maddie also used their pool for physical therapy.
“God’s hand has been on that girl since Day 1,” Amy said. “It has been difficult this past year, but also a blessing to see how God has used this tragedy to bring people closer to him.”
People have been forced to look at Maddie’s life and said, “I want to make sure I don’t mess up this life,” Amy said. They have also secured their eternal life with God.
Amy and her family talk to Maddie about seeing her family in heaven. Life on Earth is short and temporary — and sometimes cut way too short — but Maddie will see her mom, Mary, dad, Ryan and little brother, Hayden, someday.
While Maddie has become their third daughter, they don’t want her to lose the memory of her parents and she still calls them aunt and uncle. One time, long before the tornado, Amy and her husband talked about possibly adopting a third child. When the will called for Amy to take Maddie, they knew it was part of God’s plan.
People often say her religion has helped her find peace in this tragedy, but it is more than religion, “It is a deep relationship with Jesus Christ,” Amy said.
For now, nothing will become of the property where Maddie’s home once stood next to the Blanks. Amy said it is in the estate’s name and it will remain empty so the family can walk the grounds freely. Although grass and sidewalks will be installed, “nothing will become of it until we feel God’s direction,” Amy said.
After all, it is up to God. The tornado. Maddie. The empty lot.
“God is good. God is still in control,” Amy said.
The Johnny Knorr Orchestra is playing a free concert to celebrate founder Johnny Knorr’s 90th birthday as it opens its 51st season. The concert will be held June 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church.
Johnny’s son Jerry Knorr took over as director at the start of the year. He is the only original member of the band remaining, although the average tenure for a band member is more than 20 years.
“I’m quite excited about this concert,” Jerry said. “It’s the appropriate thing to do. Fifty years of the orchestra is an accomplishment. Living to be 90 is an accomplishment. He’s tied the two together. He’s spent his entire career in music.”
Johnny started the band in 1960, led by his tenor saxophone. Johnny Desmond, a vocalist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, once told Knorr, “You play tenor sax the way I like to hear it.” Johnny adapted the compliment into the band’s trademark: “The music you like, the way you like to hear it.”
The documentary “Satin Dolls, The Johnny Knorr Story,” by American Retrospects Films debuts June 4 on PBS stations. The DVD of the documentary will be on sale at the concert along with the CD “Just The Way You Like It.” The CD was recorded to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary, and every song on the album was done in a single take.
“It’s a very exceptional group of musicians,” Jerry said. “Nowadays, you can go into a studio and can work miracles on a soundtrack with computer technology. You can do multiple takes and piece parts from one to another. All of our recordings have been the initial take. The musicians step up to the plate and play the arrangements the way they are supposed to be played.”
The event is free to the public with approximately 200 seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Christ Presbyterian Church is located at 4225 W. Sylvania Ave.
With spring in the air and the worst of winter over, northern Ohio residents will be rejoicing not only for the warmer weather in the coming months, but also the opportunity to get back out on the water and do some fishing on Lake Erie. Recently, more than 260 professional anglers made the trip to Port Clinton to kick off the 2011 National Guard FLW Walleye Tour.
“I love going to Lake Erie and the western basin,” Professional angler Pete Harsh said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press. “It’s always one of my top favorite tournaments. It’s a place where you catch huge walleyes, good numbers of fish, and there’s such a variety of ways to catch them. I love the area. The people have been so nice and friendly. I love going to Lake Erie.”
Unfortunately, Harsh and the other pro anglers came to Port Clinton at a time when the area was experiencing lots of storms and rain, which churned up the water on Lake Erie and didn’t make for the best walleye fishing conditions. Though Harsh didn’t win any prize money at last week’s kickoff tournament, the Sauk Centre, Minn. native is no stranger to success on the water. The 2009 FLW Walleye Angler of the Year, Harsh has earned more than $800,000 as a pro angler, including more than $230,000 on the FLW Walleye Tour since 2002.
Harsh did his first local tournament in 1984, won Professional Walleye Trail Rookie of the Year in 1993 and has been fishing full-time since 2002. Lake Erie is still the site of Harsh’s largest day’s catch on the FLW Walleye Tour (weight total of 38 pounds, 15 oz. in 2003), and in 2008 he also caught the largest fish taken on either the FLW tour or the PWT tour at the time, a 33-and-a-half incher that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said was unusually long for that system. Harsh first came to Lake Erie in 1993 and says it’s still one of his favorite places to fish.
“I’ve fished from New York to Montana, fished walleyes as far south as Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and everywhere in between,” Harsh said. “I was looking one time at all the different states I’ve fished. Port Clinton —your area — I could easily adapt to living there and be very happy with the fishing. Extremely happy.”
Fellow Team Evinrude member and pro angler Mark Courts also enjoys making the trip to Lake Erie.
“It’s awesome,” Courts said in a phone interview. “Every time Lake Erie pops up on the schedule, we look forward to it.”
Like Harsh, Courts is also a Minnesota native and one of the sports’ top fishermen, having earned nearly $140,000 to go along with eight top-10 tournament finishes on the FLW Walleye Tour since 2002.
“There’s no other fishery in the country that the fish grow as fast as Lake Erie, so every time we get the opportunity to go there, you look forward to catching big fish,” Courts said. “The first time I came out to Lake Erie had to be right around that 2001-2002 era, and [I’ve] been looking forward to it on our schedule every year, whether we start out somewhere in Michigan, or typically Ohio will be one of those two spots usually every year at the start of the season.”
Also sponsored by the National Guard, Courts took the opportunity while in the area to visit Camp Perry and spend time with local troops, also doing a fishing tournament between 20 soldiers from Indiana and 20 soldiers from Ohio on May 14.
“I represent 350,000 soldiers,” Courts said. “For me to be able to represent those people that put their life on the line every day is quite the deal.”
And while Lake Erie has seen its fair share of ups and downs, Harsh feels the conditions today are better than in the past.
According to the Ohio DNR, in 2010 walleye fishing on the Maumee River was its best since 1990.
Because fiscal policy in this country is perhaps the most important subject to the long-term future of this country, debate in Congress turns to it occasionally. In spite of such importance, most of this is not serious debate however. There is an election coming up some eighteen months from now after all, so those we’ve sent to Washington would naturally much prefer to score political points by demonizing their opponents on the subject rather than to do their jobs and logically frame and debate the issue.
The truth of the matter is that when those in Washington are not ignoring the economic realities of this country, they are often purposefully distorting them. Voters are deluged with partisan talking points on both sides of the aisle and expected to accept these misrepresentations of fact while supporting incumbent legislators who have done everything in their power to ignore the work that they’ve done and were hired for. In no other line of work (at least, not one without union protection) is such consistent and virulent job non-performance accepted.
Economist Thomas Sowell got it right about such debate when he said in his recent book, ‘Economic Facts and Fallacies’ that, “Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, but many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.”
So it is that we can ignore the fact that government spending is the highest that it’s ever been in relation to the Gross Domestic Product of this country except during WWII; and at a rate almost twice as much as the value of all of the goods and services produced in this country by comparison with what it did during “The Great Depression” (according to usgovernmentspending.com) and refuse to discuss cutting it.
We are told that this unparalleled disparity is caused by defense spending of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when the facts are that Defense spending is only 25% of the total federal budget and not all of that is spent fighting. That number is closely followed by Healthcare at 23% and Pensions at 21%, and those numbers will grow far worse in the days ahead. They would in fact be far worse by comparison already were it not for these conflicts.
The debate then moves to the concept that over-spending is the fault of the Bush Administration, when the facts show that President Obama has gone further into the red in two years than Bush did in eight. Presidential blame is further misdirection of the debate however. Congress makes and passes budgets and both major parties share equal guilt in increasing the rate of government spending.
We are told that this can be solved by taking more money from ‘the wealthy’ by way of taxes. The facts however, recognize even if we took everything from these ‘evil rich’ we could not sustain the level current spending, let alone conservatively projected growth of such costs. Such thinking likewise ignores the fact that tax revenues grow in this country when the tax rates are reduced. No growth however, can possibly hope to compete with the increasing rate of government spending if something doesn’t change drastically … and soon.
Having lost the debate on facts, many attempt to re-frame the debate and talk about what are now ‘rights’ in this country; regardless their cost or sustainability. Economist Walter E Williams has refuted this quite ably however saying, “A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.”
But those pushing for increases in the size of government will resist the logic of such cogent arguments in any discussion, clinging arrogantly, vigorously, and sometimes furiously to failed theory and misrepresented fact in defense of false presupposition. This leaves yet another economist, Henry Rosovsky, as perhaps the final person framing the debate when says, “Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.”
We’ve personified everything else in this country from the most humble creature that walks or crawls to Mother Earth herself. Perhaps if we personified fiscal policy debate in this country, it might have something to say about the way it’s being treated. In fact, I have little doubt that it would say, “I’ve been framed … badly”.
The more heated the rhetoric from opponents of SB5, the more ridiculous it gets. The usual cliché is that it’s a vicious attack on Ohio’s workers and hardworking middle class – as if only union members, and especially only public employees, work hard or comprise the middle class. More specifically, SB5 is accused of destroying collective bargaining rights, pensions and health care benefits. All right, then: If any opponent of SB5 reads this, then please share with us the exact citations from the law, as passed and signed, that document this.
SB5, in part, allows public employees’ pay to be cut and for them to bear a higher portion of the costs of their benefits. The uproar that provokes is perfectly understandable; any employee faced with reduced net pay and higher costs has every right to be upset. But I say to that upset: Welcome to reality, in which millions of private sector workers are facing that exact problem without the convenience of forcing taxpayers to bail them out.
And what about us hard-working non-union members of the middle class? Do we not have a right to enjoy the fruits of our labor without the government redistributing them to enrich a tiny number of other workers? Evidently, everyone else is supposed to sacrifice for the benefit of the favored few; but why?
Buying of political favor. Summarizing remarks at a May 19 press conference, The Toledo Blade reports that State Representative Matt Szollosi (D) denied that, “Democrats were championing the rights of the unions in order to promote their own political power.” But unions very typically bankroll Democrat candidates, which makes little sense given the progressive Democrats’ record of killing private sector jobs through punitive taxes, litigation and regulation. SB5 partially restricts the inherent conflict of interest in which public employees can demand higher wages and benefits from politicians for whom they campaign and vote and who, in turn, confiscate these goodies from the rest of us by duress.
Again quoting The Blade, Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins (Ind) claimed in the same conference, “This is all about unbridled power to (sic) an administration that would seek out and destroy the middle class in the state of Ohio,” and that “binding arbitration is what’s held the state together since 1983.” Councilman Collins, as a former constituent of yours, I am ashamed of you. I repeat the challenge: Show us in the law where the administration is given “unbridled power.” The “seek out and destroy” remark is so foolish that it refutes itself, and a look at the long history of the state’s deteriorating economic health and business climate shows just how poor a job binding arbitration has done of holding the state together.
This gets directly to the heart of the problem. Contrary to the ridiculous rhetoric used by Councilman Collins and other SB5 opponents, what is being attacked is not the middle class, nor organized labor. It is decades of irresponsible spending and concessions by government intended specifically to buy the votes of the beneficiaries. If the economy were to continually grow and prosper, these giveaways could – and only could – be affordable. But the downturns in tax revenues brought about by recession doom them to insolvency and expose the folly of increasing costs while revenues stagnate. And, no, the answer is not punitive taxation; see above.
With all this said, I wholeheartedly applaud the effort of SB5 opponents to put the law on the ballot for a popular vote. In doing this, they’ve conducted themselves far more honorably than have their counterparts in Wisconsin; there, supporters of public employee unionism tried to elect a candidate with no judicial experience to the state Supreme Court specifically to cast a tie-breaking vote on public employee collective bargaining after she prejudiced herself on the issue.
My main reservation about the ballot measure is the susceptibility of voters to hyperemotional pleas. Count on it: We will be bombarded by tearjerking ads about how evil, greedy Republicans are balancing the state budget on the backs of underpaid, impoverished workers. Never mind that those workers are in fact overpaid, receive tremendous benefits and get a dozen or more paid holidays a year, all at our expense, and never mind that the payment is made by government forcing us at gunpoint to underwrite the lifestyles of the few whose favor it buys for votes.
My other concern is that voters accustomed to voting as the progressives dictate will vote against SB5 merely because progressive politicians whose names they recognize, or some union, told them to. Would that they would instead think independently, do their homework, learn the facts and vote accordingly.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty.