June 25, 2007

George Voinovich ‘Has Not Indicated’ on Immigration-Bill Cloture; Help Him Decide

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:09 am

UPDATE, 10:30 p.m.Porkopolis was his usual tenacious self, and copied me on an e-mail response he received from Ms. Garrett A.K. Silverman, George Voinovich’s Press Secretary, which is as follows:

While Sen. Voinovich thinks the current bill is far from perfect, he strongly supports border security and a way to bring people out of the shadows. He will continue to try to make this bill better—in his eyes, the status quo is not a possibility.

I don’t take a lot of comfort in that.

UPDATE: Just heard Hannity mention Voinovich as not having decided and quote (without appellation, but that’s okay in this circumstance) this post’s “comments from constituents” phrase.

If you have commented and you don’t see it, it’s because it’s on the server (old or new) other than the one you’re looking at. Sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll catch up on the comments at the new server tonight after it’s clear that the cutover is mostly complete out there in Webland.

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I called George Voinovich’s Washington Office at about 8:30 a.m. (ahem, the number is 202-224-3353).

The gentleman who answered the phone (whose name I didn’t get because his answer to my question about the senator’s planned vote on immigration-bill cloture almost threw me out of my chair) said that Voinovich has not indicated how he will vote on the measure. Voinovich voted FOR cloture (BizzyBlog link; roll call vote) a couple of weeks ago when the bill was killed the first time around.

I called the Senator’s Cleveland office and confirmed that he has not made up his mind, and is taking comments from constituents.

This is a surprise (to me, at least), because I haven’t seen Voinovich’s name on any of the “on the fence” (so to speak) lists like this one at Michelle Malkin’s place last Thursday, and had the impression he was a lost cause. Maybe he still is, and maybe he’s just posing, but it surely wouldn’t hurt to give the senator a civil and constructive piece of your mind.

You have the Washington number. Here’s a link to all of them.

NOTE: If you notice late in the day that the comments at this post disappeared, it means that it hasn’t/they haven’t been re-posted at the cutover site.

Ohio’s State Data-Theft Update, Including State Contact Info (PLUS: AP’s Unsolicited Damage Control and Dispatch Whitewash)

I updated last Thursday’s later related post with what was, and I believe still is, the complete roster of those affected. The data theft occurred, per this Thursday Cincinnati Enquirer article, when “a 22-year-old college intern (was) asked to take a backup computer device home for the weekend, only to have it lifted from his unlocked car in the parking lot of a Hilliard apartment complex.”

I’ll repeat the roster here, and follow it with the latest info on what people should do.

The roster, as of last Thursday evening (I looked for additional updates over the weekend and didn’t find anything new):

“Old News” —
- 64,000 state employees and 75,500 of their dependents.
- 77,000 Medicaid providers.
- 84,000 recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
- Unspecified school district and local government bank accounts.

(The last one doesn’t affect consumers directly, but is a potentially HUGE problem, especially at school districts, whose vigilance may have relaxed during the summer and/or during Finance Directors’ vacations. Every affected school district and local government bank account should be closed and replaced with a new one — Ed.)

Considered “new” victims per the Enquirer article –
- About 225,000 taxpayers with uncashed state or local income tax refunds going back to 2005.
- 602 Ohio Lottery winners who have not cashed checks during the past three months; their names and Social Security numbers also were on the device.
- 2,488 Ohioans who have not cashed checks for unclaimed fund payments.
- Up to 1,000 Ohioans whose electronic fund transfers of state payments failed to go through to their bank.

The total works out to a little less than 520,000.

The Enquirer article also references “338,634 files of data.” Presumably some files had multiple individuals’ data.

As to what to do, the state is advising the following:

Taxpayers with refunds issued in 2005, 2006 and through May 29 (2007) can check www.ohio.gov/idprotect or call 888-644-6812 for updates. For a live person or computer access help, call 800-267-4474, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

The state will pay for a year’s identity theft protection.

All 225,000 taxpayers also are being notified by mail and told how to set up an ID protection account.

The site appears to do a good job of providing the necessary guidance and supplemental warnings. Don’t forget that thieves posing as government officials sometimes try to capitalize on situations such as this one by contacting potential victims and tricking them into giving up their personal information.

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UPDATE: On Saturday, Stephen Morse of the Associated Press did a report (“Experts: Small risk of identity theft”) that reads more like damage control than a solid consumer-advice piece:

….. the sheer amount of information – including the names and Social Security numbers of nearly 400,000 people – means that the state employees, taxpayers and others unlucky enough to be on the tape are actually at a very low risk of having their identities stolen, experts said.

A company that has studied data breaches said personal information is at much greater risk when a particular person or small group of people is targeted – an everyday occurrence with no public announcement to scare away potential thieves.

You are much more at risk if someone goes through your garbage can than if you are part of a large data breach, said Thomas Oscherwitz, vice president of government affairs and chief privacy officer for San-Diego based ID Analytics.

“In that case you are a targeted victim as opposed to a large population where it will be difficult for a fraudster to go through that list,” Oscherwitz said.

It then refers to a study of four big data breaches covering about 500,000 consumer identities, which concluded that “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent, or one in 1,000 identities, was subjected to fraud in the breach the company described as an intentional target by identity thieves.”

The problems with that conclusion are that:

  • It surely looked at only a limited time period after the breaches (perhaps a year).
  • The fact that the thieves successfully used up to almost 500 identities (“less than one-tenth of 1%”) means that they probably could have used more of them, but were perhaps skimming the cream of the victim crop.
  • The information, if accessed, can be sold on the black market, including overseas. People can be victimized long after the one year of ID-theft protection expires. I would be particularly concerned about the dependents in the list above. To be fair, Morse’s article notes what follows, but not until the very end. Other outlets carrying the story edited out the info — example here.

I feel that Morse’s report provided too much comfort in the circumstances.

UPDATE 2: Columbus Dispatch reporters Strickland Administration mouthpieces Joe Hallett and Mark Niquette totally missed the point in their report yesterday, and in my opinion deliberately (bolds are mine) –

“There was absolutely no negative consequence of any part of our response save the delay in notifying the Highway Patrol,” he (Strickland) said, possibly allowing the trail to grow cold.

The reason for the delay, he said, is that he wasn’t told of the missing tape quickly enough.

Oh, that’s all. (/sarcasm)

Actually, that’s not all:

Budget Director J. Pari Sabety has said that after the theft was discovered, two state workers conducted an automated search of the second backup tape for four days, using keywords to identify sensitive information. It wasn’t until the fifth day that a team of workers started actually examining the data directly.

Geez, why didn’t they copy the data and go through both procedures at the same time? Hallett and Niquette would be ripping a GOP administration limb from limb for what’s described here.

And we’re still taking everyone’s word for what they’re saying. Given the embarrassment the governor and the state have suffered, that’s not good enough. Again: Independent, investigation.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (062507)

Filed under: Education,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:06 am

That a suit like this needs to be brought shows how upside-down things are:

A city councilman from New York City is challenging that city’s policy that allows and encourages Muslim, Jewish and secular decorations in public schools during Christmas, but does not permit Christian symbols. Councilman Tony Avella will unveil a resolution this weekend that would change public school policy regarding the display of Christmas decorations.

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Speaking of upside-down:

A federal judge has blocked a Dallas suburb from enforcing a voter-approved ordinance that would have prohibited landlords from renting apartments to illegal immigrants in the community. The judge in the case has issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement until a legal challenge to the law is resolved.

Three apartment complexes are suing the city of Farmers Branch, contending that the ordinance is unconstitutional. Mayor Pro-Tem Tim O’Hare, who helped craft the ordinance, is not surprised at the judge’s ruling, despite the fact that 68 percent of the voters approved the measure.

Of course, the next step, if the law doesn’t stand up, is that a landlord will be forced to rent to illegals whether or not the landlord objects to the idea on principle — all in the name of (grrr) “civil rights.”

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The hidden tax, otherwise known as the cost of government regulations:

Federal regulatory agencies will spend $47 billion in 2008, an increase of nearly $2 billion over the 2007 budget.

….. The study points out that the budget contains only a fraction of the cost of federal regulations. “In terms of lost output, the regulations cost the U.S. economy $1 trillion each year, or $8,000 per household,” said Jerry Brito, of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center in Arlingon, Va.

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Peace Train My A**Go here (HT LGF; go to the last 25 seconds of the vid) and see Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, express his wish in 1989 that he could participate in “the real thing” involving a burning of Salmon Rushdie instead of “just an effigy.”

Positivity: Mavs Rally Around Miracle Man

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Dallas, a long weekender of a story not to miss:

June 15, 2007

DALLAS (AP) — Sitting courtside with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in New Jersey, Ray Johnston watches his buddies play and tries getting lost in the action.

He can’t do it. Instead, Johnston imagines the ball back in his hands, spotting Josh Howard, throwing a lob for a dunk and getting a nod of appreciation.

Oh, how he loved those “attaboy” moments.

Johnston never lets the memories linger for long. It’s been a couple years and way too many doses of arsenic and chemotherapy since everything happened, all of it so fast:

The scout at the Hoop-it-Up tournament. The tryout. Going from a 25-year-old loan officer with season tickets to having Steve Nash’s locker, a No. 2 jersey and being teammates with Howard and Devin Harris on the Mavericks’ summer league team.

Then a bump in a pickup game led to surgery — and a coma. All because of the leukemia no one knew he had.

Go here for the rest of the story.