April 6, 2006

Bob McEwen’s WaterTreatmentGate

Filed under: OH-02 US House — Tom @ 3:08 pm

I received this e-mail a couple of nights ago, and filed it under “Hmmm….”:

Got a call from a County employee. Mid afternoon today, Mr. McEwen showed up at the Water Treatment Facility (that bears his name), unannounced and unscheduled. He had a television production crew and told the employee that he was there to shoot some commercials.

The employee stated that after 9/11, they don’t allow unannounced and unscheduled people to freely roam water treatment facilities with cameras.

Mr. McEwen asked the employee if he knew whose name was on the water treatment facility…to which the employee answered, “I don’t give a hoot,” and repeated the standard operating procedure based on a post-9/11 world.

Mr. McEwen then proceeded to “go over his head” to the supervisor, who told Mr. McEwen the exact same thing with the additional statement that he did not appreciate Bob harassing his employee for following S.O.P. with regards to the safety of Clermont’s Water Treatment facility which, incidentally belongs to the taxpayers, not Bob McEwen irrespective of whose name is on the building (perhaps it’s time to rename that site).

The supervisor called legal council (sic) afterwards who said that he did what was not only legal but crucial to the safety of the facility. This will be all over Clermont by the end of the day tomorrow. If you would like further confirmation, let me know.

Who does he think he is? And what is this…his “kingdom” where he can do whatever and go wherever he wishes? He is not right…not right at all.

Knowing that it’s more than a little dangerous to get into a he-said, she-said, we-said, they-said exercise, I wasn’t about to do anything with it without more — a lot more.

Part of the “a lot more” came yesterday, when someone called into Tony Snow’s radio program about the incident, and, I am told, essentially supported what was in the e-mail I received. Mr. Snow had some choice comments in response to what he heard that I won’t relay until I hear them myself (work on obtaining the audio file is in progress; the success at getting it in a readable format is dubious at this point). See the Update below for a transcript of the call.

The remaining part of “a lot more” that makes this incident reportable came today, when I received a copy of an e-mail that was sent out to all Clermont County employees yesterday:

From: Birck, Mary
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:06 PM
Subject: Illegal Campaigning/Attempted Breach of Security

Yesterday, a candidate for political office arrived at the BMW water treatment plant. Apparently, the candidate wanted to film the inside of the water plant.

Fortunately, an employee recognized this as a possible security breach and counter to county policy (prohibition of partisan political campaigning in the operational areas of the county) and prohibited the activity.

This question seems to arise every campaign season: Can a candidate for partisan political office campaign in the operational areas of county buildings?

The short answer is “no.”

It goes without saying that failure to keep operational areas of our government buildings secure is a concern which pales in comparison to illegal campaigning.
It is reassuring that our employee was alert to this.

Should you have a question about whether a candidate may campaign in a particular area, please contact Elizabeth Mason (x. 7585) or Mary Lynne Birck (x. 8178) of the Civil Division of the Prosecutor’s Office.

I have confirmed that this e-mail is authentic by speaking with Elizabeth Mason at the Clermont County Prosecutor’s office.

Finally, I was told about, and therefore had one chance to listen to, a replay during the 12 Noon – 3 PM rebroadcast of The Tony Snow show, of Bob McEwen’s phone call into the show earlier today about the incident. I am hoping to obtain an audio file of Mr. McEwen’s call as well.

Bob’s core contention was this (I apologize that I have to paraphrase, as I missed out on transcription school):

April 7, 10:30 a.m. Update — Go here for a transcript of the McEwen call and (eventually) further commentary.

What was reported to me was that I went out to the water treatment center in Clermont County that is named after me, and that I had gone out there and demanded to get in and said “do you know who I am?”

I want to let you know that that is so foreign to anything that I would say or do.

The rest of his call concerned the relative merits of France’s and Western Europe’s economy relative to ours, and is irrelevant to this post. At the end of the call, Snow said (again, paraphrasing) “It’s good to year from you, I’m not doing endorsements, but the idea that Bob McEwen said ‘Do you know who I am?’ is not true.”

As of late Friday morning, the rest of the post that follows stands.

Clever. Very clever.

You’ll note that the original e-mail above reports that “Mr. McEwen asked the employee if he knew whose name was on the water treatment facility.” Mr. McEwen’s statement to Snow is a denial of something that the original e-mail did not claim; it remains to be seen if it is a denial of what was actually said by the caller into Snow’s show yesterday. And Mr. McEwen in his call did not address, let alone apologize for, the fundamental impropriety of making an unannounced visit. The Snow show would have been perfect opportunity to do that.

Regardless of how the uncleared items above turn out, this is very clearly an incident that says a whole lot about Mr. McEwen’s temperament, his pre-September 11 mentality, and his sense of entitlement that I don’t even need to waste space elaborating on.

As they say, developing …..

UPDATE: While trying to work through the technicial challenges, Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion has transcribed yesterday’s call-in to Snow by Josie (major thanks, Matt!).

Here it is:

SNOW: Let’s go to Josie in Cincinnati. Josie, you are up next. Hello, Josie?

JOSIE: Hello!

SNOW: Hey!

JOSIE: How are you?

SNOW: I’m fine, how are you?

JOSIE: I’m fine, thank you.

SNOW: Good.

JOSIE: (laughs) Hey, uh, you know, we had an incident here that reminded me of the Cynthia McKinney thing. Uh, we have a guy that has, uh, come back to run for Congress. And he hasn’t been here in a long time, but when he was here, they, uh, I guess they put his name on a water treatment facility. And he showed up yesterday with a full telvision production crew wanting to film a commercial, but he was unannounced and unscheduled, so the guard said, you know, “We don’t do that here after 9/11 we have certain provisions in place. And he said, “Did you know that my name is on this water treatment facility?” And he said, “Well, I don’t care.” (nervous giggle) “You know, we need some advance notice.” And so, the guy, I guess, went over his head, and called the supervisor and called legal and it’s just all over the county and I thought, you know…

SNOW: Now, who is this person?

JOSIE: Uh, what is his name? His name is, uh, McEwen.

SNOW: (laughs) Oh, no! (Laughs) Oh my, he’s running against Jean Schmidt for the, uh, second congressional seat. (Laughs) Rob Portman’s old seat in the Cincinnati area. Well, you know what? Any politician who says, “Do you know who I am?” or “Did you know that this was named after me?”; they ought to be immediately drummed out just for having their heads in places they don’t belong. Josie, thank you for the call.

OK, so Snow is the one who turned it into “Do you know who I am?”

That does not appear to change the fact that Bob McEwen has NOT denied what the original e-mailer claimed: “Mr. McEwen asked the employee if he knew whose name was on the water treatment facility.”

Snow’s final sentiment yesterday speaks for itself, regardless of the half-hearted backtracking Bob McEwen attempted today. See the next post; the McEwen camp is claiming his interview Thursday constituted a denial that he was there.

Chinese Telecom Wants Internet Calls Blocked

Somehow I doubt that this is only about controlling what Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) companies can operate in Mainland China:

China Firm Wants Internet Calls Blocked

NEW YORK (AP) – A U.S. maker of network management systems said Wednesday it had received an order from Shanghai Telecom Co. for a system that can detect and block telephone calls placed over the Internet.

Shanghai Telecom, which has 6.2 million landlines, plans to use Narus Inc.’s system to improve its ability to block “unauthorized” Internet calls that connect to its phone system, bypassing its toll structure.

Use of Internet calling, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is growing quickly across the world, threatening the business models of some telephone companies.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission fined a small telephone company that prevented its Internet subscribers from accessing competing VoIP service, but some countries with state-owned telecommunications companies are taking a different tack.

In China, the government has sided with carriers and allowed them to block VoIP services that compete with the carrier’s own products. A recent report in the Financial Times quoted an executive with a Hong Kong company as saying that the government would not issue new licenses for computer-to-phone calling services until 2008.

The Chinese government and major phone companies have refused to confirm that account.
Steve Bannerman, a spokesman for Mountain View, Calif.-based Narus, said carriers in several countries, including Egypt, are using its software to block gateways that connect VoIP calls to the phone network.

It seems to me that if the number of phone companies can be limited, the ability to monitor phone calls will be enhanced.

Alternative explanations are welcome.

New members of the BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame may be added soon.

David Smith: NOW He Tells Us (“Deceiving From the Very Start” Edition)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:15 am

US Senate candidate David Smith (left), pictured with a Smithbot

Sometimes it pays to go back to the beginning. This is one such time.

The December 1 Cincinnati Enquirer Invisibler had a story about David Smith’s announcement of his US Senate candidacy the previous evening.

In light of all that has happened in this campaign, the third paragraph of the story is a sight to behold:

The Mason man has only one political race under his belt – a candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District GOP nomination in the special primary election held in June. Smith finished ninth in an 11-candidate field, with only 374 votes out of nearly 40,000 cast.

(Aside: It was 362 out of 45,682; but who’s counting?)

From the very beginning, it would appear, David “NOW he tells us” Smith did not want us to know about his 2004 congressional run in Tennessee, or his candidacy for a congressional nomination at the 2002 Utah GOP state convention. And by not revealing those two political runs, Smith could thus avoid discussing the relatively short length of time he had resided in the state of Ohio (at most, just over a year and a few months at the time of his announcement).

Now it’s possible that reporter Howard Wilkinson may have assumed, based on Smith’s weak performance in the 2005 Second District Primary (including, by my evaluation, an 8th place performance at the June 3 Values Forum out of 11 candidates from both parties present — an evaluation that took place before I knew Bill Pierce, or before I ever encountered a Smithbot), that he had “only one political race under his belt.” I have e-mailed and left a voice message for Mr. Wilkinson in the hope that he will tell me whether he assumed this or was specifically told that this would be Smith’s second race. Given how rough I have been on the Enquirer Invisibler during this campaign season, I’m not at all confident that I will get a response.

But even if Wilkinson made an assumptive mistake, David Smith certainly read the article (you would be sure to read it if it were YOUR first Senate run), and should have made sure that the record was correct from the very start.

This is yet more proof, as if we needed any, that this has been a disgraceful candidacy from the very beginning, and yet more evidence that David Smith should withdraw from the race while he still has at least a shred of hope for a future in politics — anywhere.

David Smith: NOW He Tells Us (Fulton County Obfuscation Edition)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:07 am

On Tuesday, March 28, Fulton County’s GOP Central Committee shocked the state when it rejected incumbent US Senator Mike DeWine on the first ballot.

On the second ballot, neither of the two remaining candidates, David Smith and Bill Pierce, could muster the two-thirds majority necessary to win endorsement. Both were thus evaluated as “qualified.”

The format, as told to me by several of those who attended, was a brief speech by each candidate (or his representative, in the case of DeWine), followed by the balloting. No time was allowed for committee members to ask questions of the candidates.

How serendipitous for David “NOW he tells us” Smith.

With the permission of new S.O.B. Alliance member Black Swamp Conservative, who is a member of the Fulton County GOP Central Committee, I made confidential phone calls to committee members yesterday. I was able to speak to nine of them, and may receive return phone calls from a couple more who I expect will not change the thrust of this post. I chose not to leave answering machine messages, but did leave messages for return calls when actual humans answered the phone.

I did not pressure anyone to answer my questions. I wanted to get their sense of three things:

  1. Whether they personally knew David Smith’s full resume at the time they cast their endorsement ballots, including his three runs for Congress in three different states and the results he achieved in each of them. You may recall that his “Fact Sheet” was most likely not posted on his web site until the early AM hours of March 29, and that until then all we had was a very vague bio.
  2. Whether they believed that a significant number of other committee members knew Smith’s full resume.
  3. If the answer to the second question was “no,” whether full knowledge of Mr. Smith’s resume might have affected the votes of the committee.

I deliberately did not ask if the lack of full resume disclosure would have affected their own vote, because I felt it would violate the confidentiality of the voting process that had just occurred.

The results were these:

  • Some of those I spoke with did not know Smith’s full resume, ranging from only not knowing about his 2002 Utah attempt to gain a congressional nomination at that state’s GOP nominating convention to not knowing about his limited time residing in Ohio and/or not being aware of any of his previous three runs and/or the results of them.
  • The vast majority of those I spoke with agreed that knowledge of Smith’s full resume had the potential to affect the results of the balloting, ranging from “could have” to “would have” and points in between.

The significance of this is that we don’t know whether David Smith would have earned the “Qualified” rating he received if he had fully disclosed the length of time he has lived in teh state, his past political runs, and their results. His “Qualified” rating is thus at least tainted, and at most undeserved.

Bill Pierce, by contrast, has no such taint, and instead may have been denied an endorsement by David Smith’s basic lack of honor — yet another reason why he should, for his own good and the integrity of the electoral process, withdraw from Ohio’s US Senate race.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (040606)

Free Links:

  • I Thought This Couldn’t Happen with Nationalized Health Care — In the UK, “Nine people and five companies will be charged with conspiracy to defraud the NHS over drug prices and supply, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said.”
  • Male Chauvinist Question of the Day — Now that tennis’s French Open will have equal prize money for men’s and women’s champion, does that mean the women will play best-of-five sets? Oh.
  • Eric Pianka, the guy I mentioned earlier this week (second item at link) who wants to shrink the world’s population by 90%, won’t be happy about this:

    Because of legalized abortion and the revocation of maternity benefits to women who have a third child South Korea is facing a severe underpopulation problem and will soon spend $20 billion to combat it.

    Fearing overpopulation problems similar to China’s and not wanting to dampen economic prosperity, South Korea 40 years ago began encouraging couples to limit their number of children to two.

    The nation legalized abortion in 1973 and, in 1984, ended maternity benefits for women having a third child.

    Now, South Korea has the lowest birth rate of any of the OECD members and is having problems sustaining its economic growth. It also faces the prospect of an aging population and not having enough younger Koreans in the workforce to support them.

    National Statistical Office figures show the number of births dropped to 476,000 last year from 1 million in 1970. The nation has the world’s fastest aging population, the office said.

    The Korea Economic Institute in Washington says the current problems are the result of the population policies South Korea put into effect long ago.

    The $20 billion will go towards paying for kindergarten costs for all children and additional financial help for families with three or more children, according to a Bloomberg report.

    Another lesson in “be careful what you wish for.”

  • Apple Announces Windows Boot Camp — So much for my predictive powers; I doubted that this would ever happen (third item at link). On Intel-based Macs, you will be able to start up the computer using either Windows or OSX, but not both at the same time. Coverage is here and here. Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, in a subscription-only piece, is very impressed.
  • Katie Couric is leaving The Today Show to anchor the CBS Evening News. Tony Snow’s comment on his radio show yesterday that this proves that the big networks don’t take covering the news seriously any more is dead-on. This is a woman who has less experience doing real reporting than Ohio’s US Senate candidate David Smith has at living in Ohio, or at keeping promises while living here.
  • This story about all patriotic clothes and flags being banned is a downer, but look at the bright side — maybe the idea of having school uniforms will catch on again, saving parents hundreds of dollars a year and teachers all kinds of time policing a dress code. Aside: What in the world are the color guards for the marching bands going to do?
  • Ted Kennedy and history had a very strange convergence yesterday, according to new S.O.B. Alliance member ChuckoBlog, where he (Kennedy, not Chucko) essentially ended up equating President Bush with the Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. Zheesh — We may have found Jay Bennish’s replacement.
  • Sharon Stone says she wants to direct aBasic Instinct 3” — Given how BI2 has done at the box office, she may also have to fund it.

Positivity: A Public Expression of Gratitude to a Lifesaver

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

On the occasion of a her daughter’s rescuer being honored, here is a couple has the class to express their gratitude publicly:

Act of bravery changed our family’s lives
April 2, 2006

Coingate, war, bomb threats, drugs, prostitution, bankruptcy, greed, and fraud. It makes big front-page news every day. Every once in a while a story comes along that is good news, a happy ending, that shows there is still good out there.

Our daughter’s life was saved on Nov. 20, 2004, by Patty Rupert. Jillian Badenhop-Fitzenreiter was mere seconds away from being burned alive when Patty pulled her from her burning car. She didn’t do it for money or fame. She didn’t do it because she knew Jillian. She just did it because someone needed help.

Congratulations to Patty on receiving her Carnegie Medal for Bravery. Our family’s lives were forever changed that day because of her selfless act of compassion. Instead of walking to the cemetery, we were able to walk Jillian down the aisle to get married last year.

Let’s hear the good news more often: ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Liberty Center, Ohio

The Badenhops’ daughter is lucky, and not just to be saved.