Thoughts After the Easley Hearings by Bob Hall Director Democracy NC


Dear Democracy NC Advocates,

When a politician cheats or steals, the media loves to play "gotcha" and the public is outraged. But what if the rules of the campaign system invite a candidate to cheat and lie in order to win election?

Will the media and public demand that the system change? And will they praise the politician who acts ethically and still wins? Why don’t politicians like House Speaker Joe Hackney or state Treasurer Janet Cowell get more kudos for their leadership on ethics and efforts to reform the campaign finance system?  It’s easy to criticize, but so much harder to take responsibility for fixing the problem.

Earlier this year, The News & Observer identified a number of travel-related donations the Mike Easley Committee failed to report and the State Board of Elections began investigating the Committee.  In July, Democracy North Carolina provided additional information and urged the State Board of Elections to investigate if the NC Democratic Party was "being used by a candidate as a conduit to launder earmarked donations that would be illegal if they were given directly to that candidate."

We acted because cheating in politics hurts voters and the good candidates who abide by the law.

On Friday, the State Board of Elections found that earmarking had occurred. By a unanimous vote, the Board ordered the Democratic Party to forfeit the $9,000 involved in two earmarked donations and, more importantly, sent an important message that it is illegal for a candidate to use a political party to conduit a donor’s funds back to the candidate’s campaign, particularly when the donor, candidate and party conspire together to evade the normal contribution limits for a candidate. We commend the Board for taking this action. 

The Board took a cautious approach in reaching its decision. Memos, detailed strategy plans, emails, ledger sheets, and other documents revealed that a specific "Governor’s Fund" had been set up within the Democratic Party to receive and spend money raised for the Mike Easley campaign, but most witnesses could not recall or simply denied any earmarking occurred. The Board focused its penalty on two donors who admitted they knew their checks to the party were really for the Easley campaign.

The Board also voted to impose a $100,000 fine on the Mike Easley Committee and to refer former Governor Easley "and others" involved in the hearing to the district attorney.  It’s a sad day when evidence justifies referring a governor for criminal investigation, but it’s in the best interest of the public and of the thousands of candidates who are acting properly for the State Board to make it clear that no one is above the law. In another unanimous vote, the Board recommended that the General Assembly amend state law to require the candidate to personally bear the cost of fines imposed as a result of election law violations if the candidate’s campaign committee is too broke to pay. Again, the Board sends a strong message that candidates must be held accountable for the conduct of their campaign.

After sitting through the hearings, I’ve been wondering about what to do with good and bad politicians:

  • We need, and all candidates need, the protection of strong laws, fairly enforced, to weed out the cheaters and hold everyone accountable. But no set of regulations can prevent immoral candidates and their consultants from using loopholes to channel large amounts of private money into a campaign. More regulation alone won’t produce better public officials.
  • We need more candidates with the personal moral strength to withstand the temptations and pressures of raising large amounts of private money for their campaigns. As the costs climb and the campaign’s consultants devise new methods to skirt the law, fewer candidates can hold on to their core values. How can we help them?
  • We need to provide honorable candidates with an alternative campaign system that helps them stay focused on serving the public, rather than become preoccupied with soliciting the next $4,000 or $50,000 check from a donor with a selfish agenda.  The voluntary public financing program for some candidates in North Carolina and in other states provides that alternative, because it rewards candidates who raise small donations and reject large donations with a public grant to run their campaign under strict rules.
  • We need to tell good candidates and public officials that we appreciate their service. We hurt ourselves by not noticing who is doing a good job or by stereotyping all politicians as corrupt. Good government requires many solid leaders and participation by all of us.

What do you think? Please send me your comments and let me know your thoughts on how we can turn this sad situation for North Carolina into a step toward positive electoral reform.

Sincerely,

Bob Hall, Director

Democracy North Carolina

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Photonews of Tibet Culturefest (with link)" & "FW: Help me build support for a public option now!" & “Latino Leaders Launch Campaign for Healthcare Reform"

FYI to people outside Ohio       – Munsup

· FW: Photonews of Tibet Culturefest (with link)

· FW: Help me build support for a public option now!

· FW: Latino Leaders Launch National Campaign for Healthcare Reform

· FW: Issue 2  &  FW: Issue 2: Our Results Are In and  It’s NO

From: Charleston Wang
Subject: Photonews of Tibet Culturefest (with link)

Get a glimpse of the Culture and Religion of Tibet,  Also photonews on

  -    Roaring Tiger, Leaping Carp

  -    5000 Club in the Heart of Cincinnati

  -    FBI Annual Update

  -    Life the in Turn Lane

  -    And more …

HERE IS THE LINK: www.wangnews.net

From: Alyssa Bernstein
Subject: Help me build support for a public option now!

I hope you agree with me about the importance of a public option for health insurance, and I hope you’ll take a moment to sign Harry Reid’s petition, as I’ve just done.  It is a very SIMPLE PETITION, which takes LESS THAN A MINUTE to sign, as you’ll see.

Thanks!    – Alyssa
*******************
———— Forwarded Message ————
From: Harry Reid
Subject: Help me build support for a public option now!

When I emailed last night, I told you we were working on ideas for mobilizing support for the bill I sent to the Congressional Budget Office yesterday. Well, we did just that and decided that the best way to build support in the Senate is for me to have as many signatures from as many Americans as possible that support health insurance reform with a public option.

This way, when I ask my colleagues to support a bill with a public option, I can tell them that it’s not just me asking, it’s me AND thousands of Nevadans – AND a majority of our fellow Senators – AND thousands of voters from their home state. To do this, I need you to add your voice to mine right away.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN MY PETITION FOR REFORM WITH A PUBLIC OPTION

[If this link doesn’t work, please go to: http://harryreid.com/ee/index.php/publicoption]

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being the Senate Majority Leader, it’s that we need strong grassroots momentum to win the support required to pass big legislation. Change isn’t easy. And big change is even more difficult. But we have the chance to deliver real health insurance reform this year, we just have to work together to convince every Senator we can that a vote for this bill is a vote on the right side of history.

Please, sign our petition today and tell your friends and family to add their names as well. Thanks so much for your support.

Together, we’ll get this done.    –Harry

———- End Forwarded Message ———-

From: Jason Riveiro
Subject: Latino Leaders Launch National Campaign for Healthcare Reform

Action Alert
Latino Leaders Launch National Campaign for Healthcare Reform

New website unveiled today will educate and mobilize community on healthcare reform.

Washington, DC – A coalition of national, state and local Hispanic leaders who are advocating in support of healthcare reform announced today the creation of Latinos United for Healthcare (LUH) and the launch of www.latinosunitedforhealthcare.org. Latinos United for Healthcare will serve as a platform for Latino leaders to engage in the healthcare reform debate and its website will be an organizing tool, providing relevant and up-to-date information about the current debate as well as ways to advocate for reform.
“We are asking all our LULAC members visit web site today and share their personal stories of struggle with us,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “With one in three Latinos lacking health insurance it is important that we speak out for the passage of health care reform now.”
LUH will work directly with national Latino organizations, as well as with Hispanic state and local elected officials, health experts, medical professionals, and community advocates. The campaign will include educational briefings in target states, media outreach and grassroots lobbying.
“In the coming weeks, Congress will have no doubt where the Latino community stands, said Rosales.”
The guiding principles of the coalition are to: 1) Improve and make healthcare more affordable; 2) End healthcare disparities; and 3) Not permit discrimination in the care received by the individual or families.
In support of these principles, LULAC invites the Latinos to visit
www.latinosunitedforhealthcare.org to learn more and sign the petition.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide

From: Richard Carlson
Subject: Ohio’s Issue 2

Ordinarily I’m pretty clear about voting on state issues, but this Issue 2 has had me stymied.  The good guys and the bad guys aren’t clear to me in this.  Not even the big guys and the small guys seem lined up coherently.  Apparently it’s a constitutional amendment regarding livestock care and "safe" food supply.  Most of the email a person like me receives has advised to vote No against it, but I haven’t really discerned a rationale.

Then yesterday I got a message from Marcia Lewandowski suggesting a vote Yes.  This didn’t appear to be a big emailing campaign because there were only 4 other addressees on it, one of whom I know (as far as I know—which distance is getting to be less and less).  I don’t think I know Marcia, so I wrote back to her asking if she is "the highly respected knitting person and author of a couple books."  She sorta said that’s who she is, so with her acknowledgment I’ll send it on~~~

"Hi to all,

This last week or so I have received numerous emails concerning Issue 2.  Thank you for including me in the discussion and I hope that I can clear up a few issues that you all may be wondering about.

First, I must tell you that I will be voting ‘YES’ on issue 2.  WHY? Well to begin with, this issue is whole-heartedly being endorsed by the farm community.  My friends and aquaintances who are farmers, and actually I know quite a few, none of whom are considered big by any stretch of the imagination, are all behind this issue. Since I live here in SE Ohio the farmers I know belong to the Ohio’s Cattlemen’s Assn, and Ohio Sheep Improvement Assn, both groups that worked with the Ohio General Assembly to put this on the ballet. Joining them in this effort were the Ohio Corn Growers Assn, Ohio Dairy producers Assn, Ohio Pork Growers Assn, Ohio Poultry Assn, Ohio Soybean Assn, Ohio Wheat Growers Assn, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (of which I am a member).  These groups represent farmers of all shapes and sizes across our state and they are looking out to make Agriculture a viable option for those who wish to farmer, and keep food affordable for all.

This is also supported by Gov Ted Strickland and has bipartisan support in the state legislature, hey aren’t those the very people we elected to represent us!  And while I don’t agree with everything they do and say, I think they got this one right, and are looking out for the farmers. 

Who will be on the board issue 2 hopes to create? Family farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of the local humane society, members from statewide organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and members representing Ohio consumers.  All of them from Ohio, all of them hoping to be part of the process of ensuring  good animal husbandry and to keep Ohio farmers on the farm and food affordable for all.

Will this be a perfect solution, probably not, but I believe it is the best solution for Ohio’s family farmers and those of us who depend on them to eat a healthy affordable diet.

I say keep Ohio Agriculture in the hands of Ohio.

Again thanks for including me in on your discussion,  marcia"

She added these thoughts in her reply this morning~~~

"As I hope I communicated, I am sure there are parts of the issue that I will not be comfortable with, but it is the best that we have to choose from at this point.  I am sure next year will be quite ugly as folks from outside Ohio start a smear campaign on Ohio agriculture, impose their vision of what it should look like and trying to pit farmer against farmer in the process.  And don’t get me wrong, there are parts of the Ag community that should get a closer eye and be cleaned up a bit. That is the reason for setting up a board to do just that. I also wish it wouldn’t be so closely tied to politicians.
The email was to communicate my perspective, but each of us should vote with their conscience and I respect that. If you forward my email, please make that clear to its recipients."

From: Richard Carlson

Subject: Issue 2: Our Results Are In and It’s NO

The response to yesterday’s message has been extraordinary.  I will try to include everyone who replied with copies of this summary, and make addies visible to we can do Replies All.  I do blind copies to individuals (I do not have a "list" of recipients for stuff) because a few—very few—people complained they don’t want a lot of email.  I appreciate the valuable information so many sent.  Some of these messages already appeared obviously at the Yahoo groups.  I’m presuming everybody knows everybody here—and there are replies from friends sprinkled around the State—but if you don’t, email me and I’ll provide credentials.

Phil’s reply included the PDF.  I hope it forwards OK, but if not it can be found at the main site he’s referencing http://www.ohioact.org/ ~~~

From: Philip Cantino

Subject: Re: Ohio’s Issue 2

Hi Richard,

That’s interesting (and to me, distressing) that Marcia and many farmers she knows favor Issue 2.  I am attaching a fact sheet that explains the concerns about Issue 2.  Until I read this, my reaction to the issue was similar to yours (confusion), but I found this pretty convincing and plan to vote against it.

I am not a member of the listservs that your message went out to.  Feel free to forward this factsheet to them if you see fit.

Phil

From Mary Anne Swardson~~~

If you can pick up an issue of the League of Women Voters guide to the election, you will see a good and objective discussion of this issue. The league does not take a stand but they have a "for" and "against" section. One reason for voting against it is that it does not seem like an appropriate use of the constitution. It seems more like it should be decided in the legislature. Mary Anne

From Jay Warmke, up around Philo~~~

Some of your confusion may come from the fact that this is confusing.  Basically the argument is – we need to turn over the running of agriculture in Ohio to a group of people to prevent another group of people (normally referred to as "tree huggers from California") who will come in and take over.  So it really comes down to – 1) do you feel there is a legitimate threat from outside interests coming in and forcing through rules that will make farming impractical? and 2) do you trust that the group being proposed by Amendment 2 will fairly represent the interests of farmers in Ohio?
For my part, it seems unlikely that there really is a threat from the outside.  And also I am cynical enough to believe that the interests of the agri-industry (the ADM’s and Monsantos) will be more represented by the new panel than the needs of small farmers.  It seems this is a "solution" in search of a problem.  What exactly are we fixing by creating this panel that will become part of our Constitution?
Jay Warmke
Blue Rock Station

From Dana…and a couple others~~~

Our Home _Column

2009 #20 Ed Perkins

_Run October 26

                                State Issue 2 – a Closer Look

                                         By Ed Perkins

  Next _Tuesday voters will decide on State Issue 2 – a proposed constitutional amendment to create the Ohio LIvestock _Care _Standards Board.  The 13- member-appointed board would establish and implement standards of care for livestock and poultry in Ohio.

  On paper it sounds good – a board of experts who will protect Ohio’s food supply, farmers, and families. _But there is more than meets the eye.

  Issue 2 would embody within the Ohio _Constitution a special interest board.  Ohio’s four major newspapers – _The Plain _Dealer, _Columbus Dispatch, _Akron-Beacon Journal and _Dayton Daily News, all oppose Issue 2 on this grounds.  "Ohio _Constitution is wrong place to address livestock-care standards" – _Columbus Dispatch, _Sept 13.

  The board would consist of 13 members with 10 being appointed by the Governor and one each by the leaders of the Ohio House and Senate.  __The board sounds well balanced but could be easily stacked to favor big Ag and factory farm interests.  It would have unchecked power to issue regulations with no public input or appeal processes.  _Changing it would require another constitutional amendment.

  The forces behind Issue 2 are the big Ag interests – Ohio _Farm _Bureau, Ohio Pork Producers ___Council, Ohio _Cattlemen’s _Assoc.  _In Ohio there are over 200 concentrated animal feeding operations (__CAFO) or so-called factory farms.  __These are the sources of money behind Issue 2.  _Since the board is appointed, you can be sure they will work tirelessly to get it stacked in their favor.

  Issue 2 is opposed by most alternative agriculture and environmental groups – Ohio _Farmers Union, Ohio _Ecological _Food and _Farm _Assoc., _Sierra Club, Ohio __Environmental _Council.  _The board would open the door to more _CAFOs.  Many environmental and health problems come with such operations.  They produce high concentrations of manure, which causes water pollution and odor problems.  _The closely confined animals are sicker and require regular doses of antibiotics. _This overuse of antibiotics results in more antibiotic-resistant disease organisms.  Livestock create 18 percent of global warming emissions as methane.  Grain-fed animals in CAFOs make more methane than grass-fed livestock on small farms.  Issue 2 calls for maintaining affordable food but does not charge the board with considering such environmental and health problems caused by CAFO’s.

  _But the real reason for Issue 2 is that it is a pre-emptive strike against the Humane __Society of the U_nited __States (HSUS).  The HSUS (not to be confused with the many local humane societies) has been going state-by-state to ban certain livestock confinement practices.

  The HSUS seeks more humane treatment of farm animals.  Legislation has been passed in several states and is pending in Michigan.  The big _Ag interests feared Ohio would be next so they pressed the legislature to put Issue 2 on the ballot.  A lot of fear-mongering is going on in support of Issue 2.  If it does not pass and the HSUS gets its way farm animals will be elevated to the status of people, thousands of farmers will be put out of work, we’ll all be eating rice and so on.

  In Michigan the HSUS has negotiated with the state legislature, and the pending bill, approved 36-0, would ban battery cages for egg production and gestation stalls for swine in about 10 years and veal crates in three years.  These are the most inhumane of livestock practices – keeping animals confined in small cages their entire lives.  Livestock farmers can adapt to more humane practices without going out of business.

_  This process should be allowed to play out in Ohio.  If the HSUS puts an initiative on the ballot that is too restrictive we can vote it down.  The Ohio legislature can negotiate reasonable reforms, as is being done in Michigan. 

  Issue 2 would close the door on needed reform.  _Vote no on Issue 2.________

_Ed Perkins is the _President of the Athens Chapter of the Ohio _Ecological _Food and _Farm Association.

From Ernie Johansson, now up and over in Toledo~~~

I see the point in your latest.  Gambling is out.  But why should these issues be amendments to the constitution?  Yikes!  We’re getting like CA.  I can see possibly gender issues, or capital punishment, but agriculture and gambling?  C’mon.  I’m persuaded by the e-mail on the issue but the amendment move worries me.

From Constantine Faller~~~

Richard, I sure can relate to your comments on confusion.
Here we have Marcia, quite well connected in many ways to a broad cross section of Agriculture, saying 2 is a good thing for the most part.
And here we see comments from Rich Blazier that Issue 2 is going to put him out of business.  Why?  Cost of compliance?
And here we have OEFFA saying no on 2.
Anyone know if OEFFA was invited into the process of drafting this legislation??
Constantine

Muriel Grim~~~

The Messenger has published the exact wording of the amendment

(not just the ballot wording) several times.  Although it is a difficult slog

for those of us who are not lawyers to read through it, that may help

you make up your mind.  It did help me.

The League of Women Voters will hold a Ballot Issues Forum on

Tues, Oct. 27 at 7pm at the Athens Public Library.  There will be

panelists representing the proponents and opponents of Issue 2

at that forum.  Hopefully it will provide voters the information they

need.

Kathy Jacobson~~~

A google search reveals a broad spectrum of opinion and recommendation
regarding this issue.
Anyone have the links to the actual documents?
I found
http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/ballotboard/2009/2-final_language.pdf
but it doesn’t tell me much.
The following site appears at first glance to offer a good summation with
various perspectives. I will check it out more later…seems we need to
go right to the donkey’s mouth to learn about this and make our own
informed choices.
http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Ohio_Livestock_Care_Standards,_Issue_2_(2009)
Any other reference documents out there?
kj

Here’s Paul Clever, at Good Earth Farm, part of Good Shepherd’s mission efforts~~~

As usual, I love your thoughtful and thought provoking blog. I thought I might add a few thoughts to this discussion. I have been involved in ag. for 10 years working on small and big farms alike from the mountains to the bread basket. I am not an expert but I have smelled many different types of manure.
I agree that this issue is difficult to figure out. Even after you read past the simple amendment itself, the "fine" print doesn’t seem so bad. It may be possible, in fact, that this constitutional board will not act exactly like opponents fear. However, I will vote against Issue Two and advise anyone else to do so for the following reasons and unresolved questions.
1. Why does this need to be constitutional rather than statutory? Both the League of Women Voters and the Ohio Farmers Union oppose this amendment primarily for this reason alone. It will be much harder to change if it does not work out.
2. Appointed Board versus Public Hearing…If you support a more humane and sustainable form of agriculture you can not be happy with the status quo in Ohio. That said, the Ohio Department of Ag. does currently regulate these issues and makes use of public hearings. As far as I understand, this appointed board will have the power regulate without any formal public process.
3. A campaign of fear… The list of ag. supporters (all the various commodity organizations and the Farm Bureau) do not have a good track record in promoting a sustainable vision for agriculture. They are spending big bucks to market Issue 2. Rural papers use phrases like a "defense of lifestyle". The Humane Society is being equated with PETA, and state rights is being taken to a jingoistic extreme.  That said, I do not think it is as simple as most "Vote No" posters indicate (a reactive fear campaign). It is not simply a "corporate power grab". The left continually doesn’t understand how agriculture really works. While there are 200 "factory farms" in Ohio, vertical integration in ag. is still rare.  Even large farms (10,000 acres plus or 500 cows plus) are owned and to some extent operated by an individual, group of individuals, or family.
4. What is the all the fear about? This amendment is all about last years Prop. Two in California banning the worst forms of confinement ag. by 2015. We are talking about farrowing pens, calf hutches, and confinement poultry operations. These practices have been standard for a long time (at least the last thirty years) on small and large farms alike. Farmers do not like hearing that these practices are wrong, will argue that they promote animal welfare in there own way, and promote farm safety. Further, banning these practices would have huge economic costs to many different types of farms. I believe we must face these changes. The above practices are inhumane and therefore make us less human.  Agriculture will not end it will just change.
Hope this adds to the conversation in a constructive way. Thanks again Richard!
Peace,
Paul Clever

Jane King~~~

I’d like to add some comments to this Issue 2 discussion.  First of all, most small farmers are in favor of the ammendment because it SOUNDS good.  They are already selling locally, and treating their animals humanely. But the hidden agenda of this issue is in favor of the factory farms that do need to clean up their act–both in animal treatment and environmental concerns are being pressured by PETA to change. This board will APPOINTED, not elected, and at best will be another layer of wheel-spinning bureaucracy run at taxpayers expense.  At worst, it will be a case of the fox guarding the henhouse!
I have copied a letter to the editor from the Marietta Times.  The author presents arguments much better than I have.

I grew up on a dairy farm and I buy most of my food from the local farmer’s market every week. So imagine my surprise when I picked up a sample ballot at the courthouse a few weeks ago and saw that there was proposed constitutional amendment concerning farming that I knew nothing about. The soothing language of this amendment makes it sound as if our food supply will be improved if the amendment passes – I urge voters to look further.
The bottom line of this constitutional amendment is that only 13 appointed (not elected) people will have total power over establishing nebulous "agricultural best-management practices" for all livestock farmers in Ohio. There is no way that 13 appointed people should have that kind of power over the farmers of Ohio, and by extension, power over our food supply. How do people get appointed in these political situations? They are almost always people who have power and influence and an agenda. Most small farmers that I know are too busy running their farms to have time to travel around and sit in meetings. Big farmers with big budgets are going to end up running the show.
The organizations with the most to gain from this consolidation of power are big agra companies, the very same people who have done the most to degrade the quality of our food supply and who have created huge factory farms that pollute the air, soil and water. Do we really want to have foxes on a 13-member board in charge of the entire henhouse?
Do we really want our small farmers to have to deal with more regulation? And if rules are going to be made, then we (the taxpayers) must invest the resources to make sure they will be complied with. What if small farmers lack the resources to comply with the tracking of every animal on their farms should this board enact such a regulation? What if farmers don’t have time or resources to do the paperwork? Will they be fined? Jailed? Will they be shut down? This broad constitutional amendment seeks to make extremely complicated issues with far-reaching ramifications sound both simple and benign, as if the issues at stake could be encompassed by the talents of 13 magical people.
I spoke to one farmer who said she will vote for this because it will keep PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) from coming into our state and shutting down our livestock industry. This story is a complete and total fabrication – PETA has to go through the same legislative process as any group in terms of establishing and enforcing standards. Their chances of achieving their agenda in the legislature of an agricultural state such as Ohio are nil.
Anyone who has followed the court trials of two of our local farmers who sell at the farmer’s market will be convinced that giving over any more regulatory power to the Ohio Department of Agriculture is complete insanity. We don’t need this constitutional amendment. Thirteen appointed (not elected) people should not be dictating livestock regulations that will be final without any public input whatsoever. I urge you to vote no on Issue 2.
Barbara Stewart
Marietta

Nancy Sullivan, over here often from Cincinnati, as her son attends OU~~~

I hope that this will be helpful to RIchard and others.  I think it clarifies the issues very well. As always, "who pays and who benefits" are the right questions to ask.
Subject: info on Issue 2
This is such an important issue that I’m sending it again.  I hope it will give you the facts you need to vote NO on Issue 2.  This year the Humane Society of the United States was in Ohio talking with owners of factory farms.  They wanted to negotiate better conditions for the animals – namely that cages are big enough that animals can move their limbs, lie down, and turn around.  Instead of negotiations, these people decided to fund a preemptive strike, Issue 2 as a Constitutional amendment to safeguard their current animal practices.  Please read further.  Issue 2 is a BAD idea for many reasons.    Nancy
—————————–
Four issues regarding Issue 2:
1)     History
In November of 2008, Californians passed Proposition 2, the Standards for Confining Farm Animals, which requires by January 2015 that certain farm animals be confined only in ways that allow them to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely.  Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado have passed similar legislation.
Ohio currently has more than 200 CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and owners are trying to prevent Ohioans from limiting them in the future.  Issue 2 is a preemptive strike to keep the status quo and permit more factory farms.
Issue 2 emphasizes the need of the livestock industry to provide "affordable food," yet ignores its hidden costs, including environmental contamination, human health impacts, and the loss of rural communities.  Don’t let Big Agribusiness get away with a power grab that would codify abusive practices through the state constitution.  Please vote NO on Issue 2!
2)     Constitutional Amendment
The Ohio constitution exists to establish the structure and rules of our government and define the rights of citizens.  Its purpose is not to define the way a particular industry operates. Issue 2 is an inappropriate use of the Ohio constitution, and would set a dangerous precedent by creating a permanent place for special interests in the constitution.
Issue 2 would change the Ohio constitution to create a Livestock Care Standards Board, stacked with Big Ag and factory farm supporters.  The board would have sweeping authority to make decisions related to farms and food in Ohio that would have the force of law.  It would override any act by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Assembly, with no accountability to the voters.  There would be no further review or evaluation of the standard, no established forum for public comment, and no ability to appeal its decisions without a new constitutional amendment.
Abusing the Ohio Constitution to include a Livestock Care Standards Board would set a dangerous precedent by creating a permanent place for special interests in the constitution.
3)     Issue 2 will edge out family and independent farms and encourage factory farming.
·        Continued use of antibiotics and growth hormones, genetically engineered animals, cloned animals, NAIS (national animal identification system)
·        Low doses of antibiotics are administered regularly to animals in a preemptive move to ward off the diseases bred by unnatural, unsanitary conditions.
·        In addition to preventive medicines, animals are fed hormones and antibiotics to promote faster growth.
·        Pens and cages restrict the natural behavior and movement of animals. In some cases, such as veal calves and mothering pigs, the animals can’t even turn around.
·        Metal buildings confine animals indoors, with minimal room for normal behaviors and little or no access to sunlight and fresh air.
·        In Ohio, tens of millions of egg-laying hens, veal calves, and breeding pigs are confined in crates and cages where they can barely move an inch, many of them unable even turn around or stretch their limbs. Six other states have passed laws to address this type of extreme confinement, but Ohio is lagging behind.
·        Animals are mutilated to adapt them to factory farm conditions. This includes cutting off the beaks of chickens and turkeys (de-beaking), and amputating the tails of cows and pigs (docking).
·        Millions of newborn male chicks are systematically destroyed by suffocation, electrocution and being ground up alive at the hatchery, because male chicks do not lay eggs and are considered mere "hatchery debris" on the way to becoming pet food and farmed animal feed.
·        Turkeys in commercial hatcheries undergo a series of painful amputations during their first three hours after breaking out of their shells. The newborn turkeys are dumped out of metal trays, jostled onto conveyer belts after being mechanically separated from cracked eggshells, then sorted, sexed, debeaked and detoed, all without anesthetic.  Countless baby turkeys are "mangled from the machinery," suffocated in plastic bags, and dumped into the "same disposal system as the discarded egg shells they were separated from hours earlier.
·        Recent food safety issues, including e-coli breakouts and H1N1, are the result of confined animal feeding operations which are a breeding area for more and more resistant viruses and bacteria.
·        Excessive waste created by large concentrations of animals is handled in ways that can pollute air and water.
·        Man-made lagoons on industrial farms hold millions of gallons of liquid waste, from which contaminants can leach into groundwater. The manure is normally sprayed on crops, but often excessively, leading it to run off into surface waters.  Nutrients and bacteria from waste contaminate waterways, killing fish and shellfish and disturbing aquatic ecosystems.
·        Industrially produced food appears to be inexpensive, but the price tag doesn’t reflect the actual costs that we taxpayers bear.
a.      Factory farms pollute communities and adversely affect public health, thereby increasing medical costs for those living near such farms-costs that are often shouldered by public budgets.
b.      Taxpayers fund government subsidies, which go primarily to large industrial farms.
c.      Jobs are lost and wages driven down, as corporate consolidation bankrupts small businesses and factory farms pay unethically low wages for dangerous, undesirable work.
4)     Pro & Con Groups
The ballot issue is heavily backed by groups representing major agribusiness interests and opens the door for the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.  Supporters emphasize the need of the livestock industry to provide "affordable food," yet ignore its hidden costs, including environmental contamination, human health impacts, and the loss of rural communities.
The Ohio Cattlemen’s Association
The Ohio Farm Bureau
The Ohio Pork Producers Council

The broad coalition of organizations opposing Issue 2 includes:
OEFFA – Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association
OhioACT
The Akron Beacon Journal
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Columbus Dispatch
The Dayton Daily News
The Food and Water Watch
The Humane Society of Ohio
The Humane Society of the United States
The League of Women Voters of Ohio
The Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance
The Ohio Farmers Union
The Ohio League of Humane Voters
The Ohio Sierra Club

Michelle Ajamian~~~

you might go to facebook and look at OEFFA’s page on issue 2. You can join as well and get the messages they are sending. it was mentioned at OSU Stinner Summit in the crowd as a big ag control strategy. I am voting against it b/c of the use of the constitution to run it as well as the interests supporting its success. More detail can be had from OEFFA. I will pass info I have along after the work of the day is done..

Best to all,   – M

More from Constantine later in the day~~~

Richard, the following was prompted by our reflections and questions:

Are you seeing any sites I could direct folks to for open and informative dialog on Issue 2?
Constantine

I would contact Leah Miller at the Small Farm Institute ( leah@smallfarminstitute.org).  I have not seen any well-rounded blogs.

I will give you my personal thoughts on a division I see occurring related to different agricultural groups:

Over the past few weeks of teaching , I have listened to several individuals I respect, as they have presented their views of food animal production, product marketing, and the worldwide political implications of food trade.  I’m very concerned that Ohio’s proposed animal livestock care standards board election is causing an unhealthy and unnecessary division in Ohio between some ‘all natural’, organic, and ‘local food’ animal producers and the people they view as having ‘corporate’ farms.  I am concerned, because I work with honest, hard-working, dedicated family farmers and food producers who are in each group, and whom I respect.  I read things on blogs with which I completely disagree, from the scientific and economic standpoint of food production and food safety.  I think that it is extremely important that our research and outreach activities not lead to the distinction that the size of an operation makes a person’s role in food animal production either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and I’m very concerned by the distinction that some are trying to make.  Every farm is distinct, and is a reflection of the owner’s management capability.  However, I do believe that large-scale operations can be exceptional, as nearly every large-scale beef feedlot I have ever worked with had a consulting veterinarian and a consulting nutritionist who made monthly visits to meet with and update the training of the feedlot management team and personnel, a waste management plan, an environmental impact plan, and an animal welfare plan that included facilities designed or approved by Temple Grandin.  I am concerned about the labels placed on ‘corporate farms’, because from a business standpoint, over 97% of Ohio’s corporate farms are such because of the involvement of multiple family members, the tax structure for corporations, and the inheritance tax issue.  These farms get a negative label by some, but they are still family farms, many with extended families still involved in one operation.  I feel an obligation to investigate those nutritional and health aspects of animal production that let producers use scientifically validated production practices to pursue whatever consumer market they wish.  Recently, I read the best article on ‘factory farms’ I’ve ever seen.  I’m attaching it, because it addresses several key issues.  One of the most pertinent is related to our trip to France in 2007.  Namely, that in the U.S., we enjoy a cheap food supply, and without this supply, we would face the hunger which many countries face, as reported just this past week by the World Health Organization, that there are now over 1 billion people in the world who face hunger and starvation.  We should be glad that we have an economy that which allows the vast majority of the poor still to have a safe, nutritious food supply, and which also enables many small to medium-sized farms (as well as many larger farms involved in organic farming) to pursue higher-value ‘all natural’ and organic markets which permit them to remain economically viable and thus allow many families to continue to remain on the farms their ancestors started.

I would like you to take 20 minutes to read the following article by Mr. Blake Hurst, because he is a family farmer with several valid points to consider:

http://www.american.com/archive/2009/july/the-omnivore2019s-delusion-against-the-agri-intellectuals

The following bio on Mr. Hurst is taken directly from the Missouri Farm Bureau web page at: http://www.mofb.org/tb_BOD.htm

‘Blake Hurst was re-elected vice-president of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation during the organization’s 93rd annual meeting in 2007. He was first elected to the position in 2003. Hurst served on the Missouri Farm Bureau board of directors between 1994 and 2002, representing District 1 in the northwest area of the state. He is a past Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) state committee chairman and served on the American Farm Bureau YF&R committee. He also serves as Atchison County Farm Bureau president. He and his wife, Julie, operate a row crop farm with his father, Charles, brothers Kevin and Brooks, nephew Brooks, and son-in-law Ryan Harms. All row crop fields utilize no-till. Their daughter, Lee Harms, is head grower for the greenhouse operation that includes four acres, two of which are under roof. Hurst Greenery is a wholesale greenhouse, selling bedding plants in four states. Hurst is a member of the Missouri corn and soybean growers associations. He is also a freelance writer with numerous agricultural articles published in Reader’s Digest, Wilson Quarterly and Wall Street Journal. He is the author of a book, Real Life, featuring a collection of his essays. The Hursts have three children and a grandchild.’

I hope you enjoy the intellectual stimulation which I’m sure the article will provide, whether you agree or disagree with his perspective.  I think it’s important to have a broad view of the issues of food production, and marketing, as all the food producers I know care about the safety of their product, and how their animals are treated, regardless of size, even if it is out of economic survivaility as a mistreated animal is not a good producing animal.

While I am not addressing your question, this is the thing that bothers me the most as a result of the discussions.

Thanks again to all, and I hope we all have clearer ideas about this issue…and what to do!

Peace,   – Richard

See related:

Health Care Reform

The North Carolina Committee on Dropout Prevention Schedules Meetings

The North Carolina Committee

on

Dropout Prevention Schedules Meetings

The North Carolina Committee on Dropout Prevention will meet via Webinar on Monday, Nov. 2, from 2:00pm – 3:00p.m., to review the evaluation of 2007 and 2008 dropout prevention grant programs.  Members of the public who would like to attend may register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/377029616 .

The North Carolina Committee on Dropout Prevention will also meet Nov. 16-18 at Wake Technical Community College, Western Wake Campus located in Millpond Village, 3434 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary. Agenda items include awarding 2009 grants and review of a procedures manual. The meeting will begin at 10:00a.m on Nov. 16 and 9:00a.m on Nov. 17-18.

For more information on either of these meetings, please contact Debora Williams at dwilliams@dpi.state.nc.us or 919.807.3925 or 919.807.3912.

Get Out The Vote Rally Tonight At The Old Phillipi Church

GET OUT THE VOTE RALLY!!!

Monday night at 6:30 at  the old Phillipi Church (Sycamore Chapel) at 1607 Farmville Blvd. at 6:30 p.m.

Different choirs, dancers and speakers that will tell you how important it is for you to exercise your right to vote.

Marvin Wiggins, known as "Marvin Sax", from Oxon Hill, Maryland  will be our special guest Monday night and Tuesday night at ReStart, Inc. at 2602 Courtier Drive.

We need JOBS with benefits, Help our Youth, Housing, Reduction in Crime, New businesses and industries back in Greenville area and much more.  We need strong leadership to bring these things to fruition.

Come Monday night and so we can

GET OUT THE VOTE!!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, rides to the polls, CALL 252-347-3234 and ask for Minnie Anderson.

Lewis Campaign Picks Up Momentum in National Fundraising

—– Original Message —–

From: Kenneth Lewis for US Senate

To: cdancyii@embarqmail.com

Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 5:35 PM

Subject: Lewis Campaign Picks Up Momentum in National Fundraising


Dear Supporter,

The Lewis campaign is picking up momentum in national fundraising The Raleigh News & Observer reports:

Democratic Senate candidate Kenneth Lewis has received some help from one of the major heavy hitters in the Democratic Party.

Peter L. Buttenwieser of Philadelphia, a long-time Democratic fund raiser, gave Lewis (sic) $1,500 to Lewis, an attorney from Chapel Hill, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Richard Burr, according to Lewis’ latest campaign report.

Buttenwieser is well known in Democratic circles as a big-time fund raiser, Rob Christensen reports. He is also a major donor having contributed about $3 million to the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates during the past decade, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Lewis met Buttenwieser during a fund raising trip to Philly.

Lewis faces Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and possibly other candidates in next May’s Democratic primary.

You can read the News & Observer article by clicking here http://projects.newsobserver.com/tags/peter_l_buttenweiser


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See related:

Kenneth Lewis

National Elder Issues Call To Action

—– Original Message —–

From: African Genesis Media Group

To: jclingman@blackonomics.com

Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 4:07 PM

Subject: National Elder Issues Call To Action

African Genesis Media Group

Press Release
October 27, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Bob Lott
(215)247-1545

AGMG Principals
National Elder Issues Call to Action

National Elder, 91 year old Dr. Edward W. Robinson, Jr., is calling to action those individuals and organizations that are ready to step up and help him implement his solution to combat the rise in violence and other social ills that disproportionately affect the African American community ("THE PROBLEM"). For 65 years, Dr. Robinson, an author, attorney, activist, curriculum specialist, film maker, historian and past president of a Black-owned insurance company has conducted numerous experiments to define the causes of, and find the solutions to, "the problem". This effort has led Robinson to launch a new company called the African Genesis Media Group (AGMG).

His work has proven that THE PROBLEM is that the total society (inclusive of Africans and African Americans) has been programmed by the media to despise everything African. He contends that all of the conditions referred to as "problems" are merely symptoms or manifestations of that one problem. His ground-breaking research recently resulted in the Philadelphia School District commissioning him to infuse African history into the curriculum which all students must complete in order to graduate from high school.

He has gathered together some of the best and brightest minds to form the African Genesis Media Group. The mission of this new company is to promote positive images of the African American community through television, film, print, the arts, lectures and cultural trips. Its purpose is to correct the false perceptions generated by the media over the past 400 years concerning Africans and to restore the world’s belief in the fact that ancient Africans created civilization.

If you are sick and tired of your community being plagued by "the problem"; fratricide / teen pregnancy / rising school drop out and incarceration, then heed the call of Dr Robinson to all serious minded individuals and groups interested in doing something in an organized, scientific manner as opposed to just moaning and groaning.

Join him in this effort by visiting www.agmg1.com and signing up.  Further information can also be obtained by calling 215-247-1545 or email at: info@agmg1.com.

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African Genesis Media Group | P.O. Box 682 | Glenside | PA | 19038

Former East Tarboro City Councilman Speak Out On The Cemetery Issue Source: Tarboro Daily Southerner

Having read the recent commentary by Mr. Bobby Freuler (Oct. 23), I am compelled to totally agree with him.

As clearly stated by Mr. Freuler, race is not a factor in the proposed fee increases for Eastlawn Cemetery grave plots. (Read More @ The Tarboro Daily Southerner)

See related:

Tarboro Town Council