Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Firefox, part deux

Firefox 1.5 was released recently, which smacks Internet Explorer around like a something or other.  Download it today and feel like a new person!

(Use the link on the right sidebar about halfway down)

Another video

And quite possibly, the greatest movie clip EVAH!

The Zombie explanation

I’ve been poking around on Google Video lately, don’t be surprised if you see a couple more of these in the next day or two.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Could you?

Since proficiency tests are a continuing subject, let’s all take one!


You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims’ Real Thanksgiving Lesson
Benjamin Powell – November 25, 2004


Feast and football. That’s what many of us think about at Thanksgiving. Most people identify the origin of the holiday with the Pilgrims’ first bountiful harvest. But few understand how the Pilgrims actually solved their chronic food shortages.

Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on “equality” and “need” as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” The problem was that “young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.” Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

This change, Bradford wrote, “had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, “the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.”

Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner.

We are direct beneficiaries of the economics lesson the pilgrims learned in 1623. Today we have a much better developed and well-defined set of property rights. Our economic system offers incentives for us—in the form of prices and profits—to coordinate our individual behavior for the mutual benefit of all; even those we may not personally know.

It is customary in many families to “give thanks to the hands that prepared this feast” during the Thanksgiving dinner blessing. Perhaps we should also be thankful for the millions of other hands that helped get the dinner to the table: the grocer who sold us the turkey, the truck driver who delivered it to the store, and the farmer who raised it all contributed to our Thanksgiving dinner because our economic system rewards them. That’s the real lesson of Thanksgiving. The economic incentives provided by private competitive markets where people are left free to make their own choices make bountiful feasts possible.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks -- for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation -- for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed -- for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed -- to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord -- To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York
the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I’ll be away for about a week unless something explodes in town.  Be back after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Village Income Tax Committee released a three page recommendation of Issue 34 prior to the last election.  The fourth paragraph on the first page reads:

Why do we need this tax?  Village officials became aware in 2003 that vendors were reluctant to do business with the Village due to unpaid invoices.  A further investigation revealed that we were sitting on tons of umpaid invoices for services or goods.

A call has been made on the Discussion Forum for any charges that would give a reason for people to dislike Mr. Moore.  The above situation certainly applies.  Mr. Moore was Mayor for the Village of Windham from October, 1999 to December, 2003.  The Village Administration office is part of the Mayor’s responsibility in our Village.  It was the Administrative office that was negligent in reference to the “tons of unpaid invoices for services or goods”.  Some, if not all, of this took place while Mr. Moore was in direct oversight of the Administrative Office. 

In a business, when negligence is found in financial records, those who prepared those records are generally fired.  Also, those who are in leadership positions are held accountable for the negligence.  All of those in the Administrative Office, and the Mayor, carry some blame for the present financial condition of the Village.

The Village Council decided to give Mr. Moore a “second chance”, as it were, by appointing him to Council after being removed as Mayor by the voters.  During Mr. Moore’s tenure as Village Council President, he has worked to right the Village’s financial ship.  Now, two and a half years removed from the initial finding, we are not in much of a better position. 

These are marks against Mr. Moore.  Our hope is that his second round of Mayoral leadership is marked by better financial accountability and openness in all decisions regarding the Village.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Well, there's always a recall, right?

According to a decision made long before I ever arrived on the scene here in Windham, the plan of government for the village is called the “Federal Plan” the Village was set up under laws governing "Municipal Corporations".

This is important.

Under the federal plan Under the rules of Municipal Corporations, the line of succession upon the removal or death of a village mayor is one person long. The president/leader type of the legislative council, or in our case, the Village Council.

You guessed it. Mr. Moore is mayor again.

And after this took place in 2003 to boot:



C. JIM MOORE 194 47.90

JESS E. STARKEY 211 52.10

How did we get to this point? Its quite an interesting turn of events. First, Mr. Moore loses the Mayor's office to Mr. Starkey, and gives it up at the beginning of January. At that time, a member of Village Council decided it was time for him to resign his post, and the remaining Council decided that the most qualified member of the community to replace the resigned position was the man whom the voters had recently rejected for a government post.

So time went by, the Village voted down a few tax increases, the Council required landlords to pay the water bills after requiring them to put the bills in their tenants names a few years before, days turned to weeks turned to months.

Then the Mayor began to decline, and passed on to his reward.

Now we are in the situation of having a man whom the voters rejected in the same office from which he was expressly removed. Amazing. I have a feeling that the remainder of the new Mayor's term will not be the same as it was before. People just don't take that kind of thing lightly.

Consider the Record-Courier article from November 14. Mr. Moore speaks of the things which are upcoming for the Village. Let's consider those.

Sewer Line Construction

Here's something that's been needing done for years. The Water Department will save tens of thousands of dollars in water that leeches into the ground because of all these old tile lines.

Tax increase

Two things. One, you can dress up the tax increase however you'd like, its still a tax increase and people aren't going to be voting for it. A week ago the voters soundly voted against this increase, and just dropping another 1/2 percent to those who work outside the Village isn't going to influence the masses.

The second, and I really don't think I'm going too far out on a limb here, is considering the sentiment of some concerning Mr. Moore, any increase of revenue to the General Fund has the deck seriously stacked against it. There are those (not a majority I believe) who won't in any way, shape, or form, put their money into the hands of a man whom they feel they cannot trust.

Who knows what the next two years will bring? We have a new Village Council, a new/old Mayor, a new Village Council President. We don't know what is going to happen. I believe that we are at a major crossroads in the history of the Village, and the decisions that will be made in the next two years will impact our Village for many years to come.

Saying Goodbye

I had the distinct honor of attending the funeral service for Mr. Jess Starkey this morning.  Mr. Furl officiated the service and had many kind things to say about his friend of many years.  He spoke of deer hunting with Mr. Starkey in West Virginia, and how he would tell Howard, “Time to make the donuts” in the morning, though Howard didn’t understand what he meant for a while.  Mr. Starkey was part of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”; a generation of men and women who lived through an awful World War, and are especially noted for their duty, honor, sacrifice, and accomplishment, each of which accurately describe Mr. Starkey.

Mr. Furl also discussed the Biblical passages John 11:25–26; 1 Corinthians 15; and Psalm 23.  In closing we described the deceased as a patriot, a hero, and a son of the Republic. 

It was a small service (surprisingly), but truly heartfelt by all in attendance.  Our deepest condolences go out to his family.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

Today we offer our humblest thanks to those who have served and continue to serve our country.  It would do us well to honor them every day of our lives, but especially this day which has been dedicated to them.  November 11 marked the end of the First World War. 

In the news...

I like animals and all, really I do.  I think biting the heads off of birds is something that should be strongly discouraged.  Yes, even prosecuted at times.  But something about this for some reason doesn’t sit well with me.

Man jailed for biting off bird’s head Windham resident pleads guilty to decapitating friend’s pet

 By Marci Piltz
Record-Courier staff writer

WINDHAM - A village resident recently pleaded guilty to biting the head off a friend’s pet bird after DNA evidence linked him to the dead animal.

Cory Ledlow, 26, of 9859 Bright Drive, was fined $100 plus court costs and sentenced to 10 days in jail after pleading guilty to a charge of cruelty to animals, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to Portage County Municipal Court records.

Windham Police Chief Jack DeSalvo said the bizarre case was first reported more than six months ago, when a North Main Street resident called police to report finding her bird decapitated.

“The cockatoo’s head was just laying in the birdcage,” DeSalvo said.

He said Ledlow had gone to the residence after drinking at a bar one night in April. The pet’s owner and another person also were at the residence that night, DeSalvo said.

The next morning, the victim awoke to find the bird’s head detached from it’s body. The other person at the residence told the victim Ledlow had bit the head off the bird, but Ledlow denied doing so to police, DeSalvo said.

To check out the story, DeSalvo said police took DNA swabs from both Ledlow and the head of the bird. The samples were sent for analysis to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.

“It came back that the saliva on the bird’s head matched the DNA of the suspect,” DeSalvo said.

Once those results were obtained, police issued a warrant for Ledlow’s arrest. He was arraigned on the charges in October and eventually pleaded guilty to the charge.

“This was a child’s pet bird, and naturally, they were upset that such a thing happened to one of their pets,” DeSalvo said. “This was just disgusting and cruel. It was a terrible thing to do to the family, and there was nothing to provoke him to do this from what we found.”
I shudder to think how much this whole ordeal cost the Village.  Last I heard, DNA testing can regularly cost over $1000, not to mention investigation time. 
Really, I don’t want to come off as callous about this or anything.  Its just…odd.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wrap Up - Part Two

First, if you want to be elected to Council, make sure you get on the ballot.  As I understand it, Ms. Barrett did very little campaigning, yet garnered the most votes.  This can be attributed to having lots of friends, or simply being a name on the ballot that wasn’t already on Council.  The total amount of write-in votes trailed the lowest on-ballot candidate by nearly fifty.  This means that the last spot on Council could be filled by someone who received less than one hundred votes.  I’ll be interested to see the write-in breakdown.

Second, Howard Furl stands to be re-elected as a Township Trustee after a brutal campaign against him by the community, especially certain folks in the Village.  How this will affect relations between the Council and Trustees remains to be seen, but it can’t be a good thing.  There should be an automatic recount because of the number of votes separating him and Kevin Knight, but again, I’ve heard no certain statement in that direction.

The Village Income Tax increase failed again with nearly the same percentages as the last time the increase was proposed.  It seems that its not the fact that the increase is going up against various levies, but voters are speaking against the increase itself.  It is time that the Council look into alternative forms of funding the Police Department rather than primarily through the General Fund.

The Fire Levy passed by less than fifty votes.  It seems that this is the “OK, we’ll give you one last shot” voice speaking out from not only those in the Village, but also in the Township itself.  The Trustees and Council need to put aside their arguing and posturing and get to work for the people whom they represent.  If there is not a Joint Fire District in place (or a definitive reason for not doing so) by the time the next levy rolls around, that levy will fail.  Perhaps the Trustees can take a lesson from the Village’s reluctance to increase their own taxes for Police purposes.  This is about the will of the people, not which body or people maintain power and control.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh, and...

Issues 2, 3, 4 and 5 all failed.

Yeah, I’m smiling about that.


For Windham Village Council 100% reporting:

Write-in Votes16016.44%

For Windham Township Trustee 100% reporting:

HOWARD FURL22723.77%
DANN S. TIMMONS29130.47%

Windham Village .5% Income Tax Increase 100% reporting:


Windham Township 1 Mill Replacement Fire Levy 100% reporting:


Look for an automatic recount of the Trustee race in the next few days.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wrap Up - Part one

Yeah, this is likely only the first one, but I’d like to get some things said before yet another blow up over something.

First, I’d like to thank all the people who’ve volunteered for their respective positions.  You’ve stepped up in what has turned out to be a spirited election season and have weathered the storm.  Later today, some of you will take those positions, some of you will not.  Likely  some of you will be a bit relieved by not taking those positions too, as it seems that there is going to be a lot on the plates of those who take elected office this term. 

I’d also like to personally thank all of you who kindly responded to my questionnaire a few weeks back.  Your responses helped me to make decisions as to my own votes, I appreciate your time.

To the supporters and opponents of the tax and levy issues on the ballot, vote your conscience.  I’ve stepped out and spoke about my own reasoning on things, putting my neck on the line I guess.  Whether we agree or not, I hope that in the future we can all work together for the best in the community.  Whether the issues pass or fail, tomorrow will not be the end of the world.  November 9 will come (ok, Lord willing), and we’ll pick up whatever pieces that lay on the ground and press toward a better community.

I also hope that no matter what happens with the election, that both the Village Council and Township Trustees put their past differences behind them and work toward what’s best (and I continue to think that’s some kind of Joint District of Fire and EMS combined).  I intend to be more involved in the process, so expect me to continue to be a thorn in the side, or the nicest guy in the world.

We are all concerned for the health of Mayor Jess Starkey, take a moment and remember him today.  Thoughts and prayers are always appreciated by those who are suffering illnesses and by the family of those also.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Of Levies and Agreements

I had the pleasure of being able to sit in on some of the “Town Hall” meeting this evening with the Township Trustees. It was rather interesting to see the dynamic between those in the audience and the Trustees themselves. There were some notables in the audience, namely Jim Moore, Marian Garrett, Jason DeBolt, and Danny Burns. There may have been others (I’m sorry if I’ve left you out if so), but I wasn’t able to mingle with those who gathered. “Stuff posted on the internet” was mentioned on one occasion, so I imagine that quite a few of our friends from the Discussion Board were there. Again, sorry I didn’t get to say hi.

A great deal was obviously discussed in light of the 1 mill levy that’s on the ballot next Tuesday. A couple of days ago, we stated that we could not endorse the levy. Look to this post to see the full reasoning, but briefly, it was to show the strong intent of the Village to press toward a Joint Fire District.

My position has changed.

It really wasn’t so much the candor between the warring parties (OK, I know they’re not warring, but that’s too much of a fun idea to let it slide). Valid points were raised on both sides about how things had been done. Time and again the past was rehashed until finally squashed by Dann Timmons, who was leading the discussion of the evening.

Two things changed my mind. First, it is apparent by the statements made by the Trustees this evening that they do have every expectation of forming an Exploratory Council looking into whether we have a need to form a Joint Fire District, and the pro’s and con’s of doing so. This this was the only with which I came away from the meeting, it would make my previous opposition moot, for that was the primary reason that I recommended a no vote on the levy. But there is a second reason also.

In the proposed Agreement of Operation proposed by the Trustees to the Village, there is ample opportunity for the Village Council to give the citizens of the Village a voice in many operations of the Fire Department. The Village would have direct voice in:

  • Selecting a Fire Chief
  • Contribution of funds above and beyond levied revenue
  • Rate of pay for fire and rescue personnel, chief and officers
  • Dispatching service
  • Large equipment purchases
  • Capital purchases
  • Policy decisions
  • Reviewing District business and setting District policy

The Village would also be required to have a representative at each of the regular Trustee’s meetings and would report back to the Village concerning regular business, thus “keeping tabs” on the Trustees to prevent them from making decisions without the Village’s knowledge. This representative would have the power to table any decisions that he/she believes should be presented to the Village.

There would also be quarterly meetings between the Township and Village (as was policy under other Agreements) to determine policy and discuss business (as noted above). The Agreement would automatically renew every two years unless one body desires to modify the Agreement, and they would have to provide six months notification before changing the Agreement. Hopefully this would prevent the current situation from happening again.

In many ways, this Agreement is an effective Joint Fire District, at least in the working of things. Perhaps there’s no “name on the sign” that would definitively point to such a body, but it is pretty much the case.

It is (now) because of these things that I can endorse the Windham Township Fire District 1 Mill Levy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Two tax issues are on the ballot next Tuesday that have a direct impact upon the Village of Windham.  While there are important tax levies concerning mental health and PARTA, we will lay those aside for the moment and consider the Income Tax increase (Issue 34) and the Fire District 1 Mill Replacement Levy.

The problem is that there are so many tangenial issues to both of these levies that its hard to make any kind of decision about one without taking the other into consideration at times.  There is no question that the Village and Township are inexorably tied together in many ways, the most important being Fire and EMS service.  The Village is dependent upon the Township’s service, and the Township is dependent upon the Village’s tax funds.  So where to begin?

Let’s start with the Income Tax increase.  Perhaps you’ve seen the “Please Vote ‘YES’ for Issue 34” papers that have been passed out around the Village recently.  If you’ve not, track a copy down or let me know and I’ll post a copy here.  Its a good thing to take the time to inform the electorate about the issues that they are voting upon, and these papers attempt to do just that.  In my estimation though, it raises more questions than it answers.

To its credit, the handout states that the “add’l tax will either be voided as of January 1, 2011 or will again have to appear on the ballot for a renewal vote.”  It also points out that the Village intends to continue the 0.5% credit for those people who work in another town and pay taxes in that town along with paying tax in Windham.  The Village is in terrible financial condition, even to the point that vendors with which the Village did business with “were reluctant to do business with the Village due to unpaid invoices.”  Council has tried to clean up the mess and are now current with regular monthly payments, but there is still much debt outstanding (though we never quite find out exactly what that debt entails).  No matter what happens with the tax levy, the Village “will continue to struggle with short funds” but that could be alleviated by passing this increase on April 15, 2007 when the tax increase will actually be paid on 2006 income.  The paper states:

Why should I vote for Issue 34?

1.  The most critical reason is to protect your children and property by funding adequate police protection (see Police Dept fact sheet)

2.  To avoid the State of Ohio declaring the village in a state of “fiscal emergency”! (The State comes in and forces cuts to be made regardless of the impace on our residents.)

Two other pages include a very basic financial reckoning of Village finances for 2004, though no records for 2005 are revealed.  The State’s ability to declare fiscal emergency is briefly discussed, pointing to a website for the State Auditor about Fiscal Emergency.  The third page discusses the ability for seniors who “feel guilty voting for a tax they will not pay” to pay into the Police Department’s “Crime Prevention Fund”. 

There are some distinct questions that are raised that aren’t discussed.  The Village “became aware” of the vendors’ issues in 2004.  Where was all our money going before that point?  Surely such a thing could be noticed in a Financial Report presented to the Village Council.  Even if it wasn’t though, there seemed to be plenty of money before the revelation of the bad financial state of the Village.  Remember, these things were discovered in 2004 while 2003 taxes were being collected.  At that point, we were three years into the economic recession.  We were not dealing with the late 1990’s economy with large income tax revenues, the bottom had already fallen out of the revenue at that point.  Where was all that money being spent before this?

The paper also directly states that the revenue collected from this increase will not show up until April of 2007.  It also states that we have to deal with short funds until that point.  What will we do until then?  The issue has been raised by the Mayor and Council that we should be considering pulling out of our deal with the Township for fire service if they don’t look into a Joint Fire District.  Is that money just going to magically appear for the Village?  I do believe that the situation is dire, but certainly the Mayor and Council realize that there is simply no way to jump into some other huge expenditure before resolving our normal everyday problems.  Why have they sought to use this tactic against the Township knowing that the Village is in terrible financial shape?  Do we have the full picture of what’s going on? 

I’m also disappointed that there is no record of our financial state in 2005.  The 2004 numbers are bad, without a doubt, but the most recent numbers should have been presented to give the Village a full picture of the state of the Village.  Again, all this does is leave another question as to what exactly is going on. 

On the third page, and yes, I realize that this is being picky, the income tax issue is stated to be a .05% tax increase.  That’s just flat out wrong.  The number is .5% or 0.5%.  If you’re going to put literature in the people’s hands, at the very least proofread the document. 

On top of all this, there is the issue of trust.  Has the current Council demonstrated that the electorate can trust them to make wise decisions concerning the finances of the Village?  Is there the hope that the future elected Council will make good decisions and lead the Village in the right direction? 

So now it comes down to it.  Should we vote for or against the proposed 0.5% Income Tax increase that will appear on the ballot.  For now, there are too many unanswered questions concerning the increase. 

We cannot endorse Issue 34.

Concerning the Fire Department’s Levy, it continues in the same vein in many regards.  Have the Township Trustees demonstrated that they are trustworthy concerning the finances that the Village is entrusting to them for lifesaving use?  To a degree, the answer to that question is yes.  The fire department and EMS service are doing very well in servicing the community as a whole.

Questions have been raised though over the recent court cases brought by the Township against some who’ve not been able to pay their service bill because of lack of insurance.  This issue remains open for many people, while resolved for others. 

There is a continued reluctance to actively look into forming a Joint Fire District, for no obvious good reason.  The statements of one Trustee has been trumpeted throughout the community, but there are three members of the Trustee board, and the issue remains unresolved.

The Fire Department is an excellent group of people who are willing to give of themselves for the betterment of the community, and the preservation of life and property.  For this reason alone, we should seriously consider the levy itself.

It is the opinion of many in the Village that a Joint Fire District should at least be considered by the Village Council and Township Trustees combined.  We as the Village electorate have no choice in whom is voted as a Township Trustee.  Our power lies in the passing or failing of Fire District levies. 

It is because of the reluctance of the Township Trustees to seriously consider the forming of a Joint Fire District that we cannot at this time endorse the Levy for the Fire Department.

Our hope is that the Council and Trustees will seriously consider the Joint District and take steps to resolve the issues between the two bodies.  It is also our hope that the Trustees will put another levy on the ballot in the next year to take the place of this levy.  If these two qualifications are met, we will happily endorse the levy proposed by the Trustees for these services in the next year.