Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cost Of Governor's And Lieutenant Governor's Names On Highway Signs In Ohio

I heard back from the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) about the cost for putting the governor's and lieutenant governor's names on the "Welcome To Ohio" highway signs.  Steve Faulkner wrote, "No new signs are installed. We simply place overlays on existing signs. Cost is about $25,000."  I assume by overlays, he means the little signs they stick on the big signs, which is what I meant, but these people know their sign terminology, I'm sure, so fair enough.  $25,000 is even more than I thought it would come in at.  I hope this tradition can be abandoned.  In a state budget of billions, 25 grand every four or eight years might not be much, but it's still money that could be better used for other purposes.  Like I wrote before, I'm fine with buying new letterhead and business cards for the new governor.  Highway signs or overlays, not so much.  Actually, not at all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Wred's Reading: A Clergyman's Daughter

George Orwell is best known for 1984, Animal Farm, and some classic essays, but I've enjoyed reading his lesser-known works as well.  I'm closing in on the end of his oeuvre, so I'm finally getting to A Clergyman's Daughter.  I probably have taken so long to get to this one because the title makes it sound like a boring 19th Century novel.

It's not.  Like most of Orwell's work, it's quite good.  I'm more than halfway through and enjoying the read.  So far, the book has been divided into three sections.  The first just details the main character's life, that of a clergyman's daughter.

Then things get weird.

The second part finds her having lost her memory and ended up in London, where she migrates to picking hops on a farm.  The third part is written like a play and just involves the protagonist trying to survive while being homeless in London.

As usual, Orwell's sympathy with the poor comes through.  He, like many of us, seems baffled how a society could just have people waste time on the streets barely surviving.  Though he published this novel in the 1930s, it could be very easily updated to the presentday in the USA.

The only sad thing about finishing this book will be that I have almost no new Orwell to read now, and I've never been the type to read an author's letters and whatnot, except for scholarship purposes, so I'm probably done with George. But if you have never read any besides the famous Orwell works, then you should know that the less well-known works are also worth a read, though it is obvious why some of his work is more celebrated than the other work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Green Party Knows How To Save Taxpayer Green!

I heard back from the Green Party candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, Anita Rios and Bob Fitzrakis, about their policy on putting the names of the governor and lieutenant governor on the "Welcome to Ohio" highway signs.

They are against it.

Hooray!  Finally, some politicians with sense.

I asked, "If elected, will you be spending taxpayer money to put your names, like Kasich and Taylor do, on the 'Welcome to Ohio' highway signs?"

They replied, "No; but if someone's names [were] already on there, we would have to spend some money on getting that removed or replacing the signs.

Anita would issue an executive order stating that the practice of putting elected official[s]' names on signs should not be permitted as it is a frivolous waste of tax dollars for the sake of promoting politician[s]' names."

Yes, unfortunately, taking the signs off will cost money, but it has to be done sometime.  From the looks of them, the sign with the names can just get unscrewed from the main sign, but since I'm typically driving past the signs at 65 miles per hour, I can't say for sure.  In any case, it would be great to get the names off the signs as soon as possible and start a tradition of not having taxpayers shell out thousands of dollars every time the governor or lieutenant governor changes.

Well, I haven't heard from the other campaigns yet, but I know which candidates I'm voting for now!  I promised!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

R.I.P. Visible Voice Books

I am saddened by the imminent closing of Visible Voice Books in Cleveland, Ohio USA.  It is a cool store and not only because they stocked The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus for a time.  I live on the opposite side of town, but whenever I visited the Tremont neighborhood, I always stopped in.  They have a good selection of underground books (it probably was the only bookstore in town to sell The Dirty Poet) and magazines.  Plus, it is just a pleasant environment to be in.  Well, the doors are closing shortly.  The good news is that everything is 40% off.  The bad news is that, after September 27, 2014, another cool bookstore will be gone, as the digital revolution marches on, leaving more beloved casualties behind.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Updates! Updates! Updates!

With the end of summer, things get hectic, so, as you no doubt, noticed, blogging has slowed down.  So here is a speed round of updates.

1) I saw a rough cut of Monster Of Party Beach.  It was very funny.  Mark Justice told me that he filmed it for less than $200 or something.  I've seen Hollywood films made for millions that I have liked far less.  Fans of Ed Wood and films such as The Naked Gun will likely enjoy it.  My acting is horrible, but Mark seemed to enjoy it, so maybe you will as well.  I don't know when the first public showing is, but I will keep you posted.

2) I have doggedly (ok, a couple of emails a week probably doesn't count as "doggedly" but I don't see anyone else concerned about this issue, so I'm sticking with that as a fair description) been pursuing trying to turn putting the governor's name on highway signs into a campaign issue, but without much luck.  I emailed Melissa Ayers of the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) to find out how much it cost to put the governor's and the lieutenant governor's names on all the "Welcome to Ohio" signs.  From some articles that I've been able to dig up from Maryland and Pennsylvania, that work of political vanity seems to cost taxpayers between 9,000 and 12,000 dollars.  Ayers works in the communications department of ODOT, so I figured that she would know whom I should talk to in order to find out how much Ohio wastes on that (more would be my guess since the lieutenant governor's name goes up as well).  Unfortunately, she's on leave until Sept. 15th. (well, maybe fortunately for her; I know that I enjoy my time away from work), so I emailed Brian Cunningham of the same department as well, but he apparently is content to let Ayers handle it when she returns.  If I don't hear from them, then I will followup elsewhere in the department.  I also emailed the Democratic (Ed Fitzgerald and Sharen Neuhardt) and Green (Anita Rios and Bob Fitzrakis) Party gubernatorial campaigns, asking for their positions on the issue (I'm hoping for a pledge that the new governor will abandon the practice), but I didn't hear from them either.  That kind of hurt, especially since the Green Party campaign website is a Wordpress blog.  I mean I use Blogger, but then again I'm not running for governor of Ohio.  I didn't bother contacting the Republicans (John Kasich and Mary Taylor) since their names are up on the signs.  I'm assuming that they have no intention of taking down the signs.  But if a pledge can be gotten from one of the other campaigns, then maybe they will reconsider.  In fact, if you're really bored, email the campaigns and ask them to pledge that they will not put their names on the "Welcome to Ohio" signs (and in Kasich and Taylor's case that they will take them down).  This should be an easy issue that will unite people of most political persuasions, though I would love to hear some ridiculous counterargument for why motorists need to know who the governor is.  I also emailed Mike McIntyre of The Plain Dealer and WCPN in hopes that he was really hardup for story ideas.  Again, no dice.  I will keep plugging away and keep you posted.  In the meantime, I will make a campaign promise.  The first set of candidates who promise not to put their names up on the sign (or take them down) get my vote.

3) The talent show that I entered didn't go so well.  The website for the submission was buggy, so I emailed the organizers to make sure they had received my submission.  They assured me that if they didn't they would let me know, but I couldn't find my video among the ones up for a vote.  I kind of got the impression that they were disorganized, so I wasn't surprised.  By that point, my buddy Matt had already invited me to his birthday party, which was the same night as the show, so it worked out well.  Maybe next year!

4) I did play the Sam Ash open mic.  I'm supposed to get a $10 giftcard as a result, but it's a month later and it still hasn't arrived in the mail.  Seeing as they were also disorganized, I think I'll just skip playing there in the future, though the next time I go there, which frankly might be years from now, I'll try to remember to ask them about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taxpayer Supported Campaign Ads?

When I used to drive to Pennsylvania on I-80, I would pass the welcome to PA sign and for years it listed the governor's name on it.  Quite honestly, do many motorists really care who the governor is?  It's not like one is visiting a general store and it's nifty to know the proprietor's name; it's not like any motorist is likely to drive to the state capital and ask for the governor by name to register a complaint about the potholes on the highway or something (if so, just ask for the governor--that usually will work).  It's a whole state (or commonwealth, in PA's case, to be technical).  Basically, the metal signs with the governor's name appears to be taxpayer supported campaign advertising for future campaigns by that politician.  I imagine those metal signs aren't cheap either nor do the highway folks put them up for free.

It was quite annoying.

Thankfully, PA finally ditched the governor's name on the signs.

Alas, Ohio is even worse.  I was driving on 80 into Ohio and noted that the Ohio welcome sign has the governor's and lieutenant governor's name.  Who cares who the lieutenant governor is?  I doubt 100 buckeyes in the entire state could even name the current lieutenant governor.  Which I suppose is the point of the sign.  It builds up name recognition for politicians, and taxpayers get to pay for it.  To confirm this, I've contacted someone at the Department Of Transportation.  I'll let you know if I hear anything.

I mean letterhead, business cards, the website, and whatnot are fine.  Change them for the new governor and lieutenant governor.  But signs on every highway?  No, that's a waste of money.  Tell the politicians to stuff it and pay for their own signs.  What's really annoying about the I-80 sign is that right after it is a closed rest area, presumably due to budget cuts.

The current sign can stay up (and probably for the next four years as it looks as if the current governor is going to get reelected--his main opponent has a scandal about driving without a license; given how badly most people in Ohio who have licenses drive, he must be an extra-special bad driver), but I would love to see that when the name sign gets taken down that no other one ever goes up.  "Welcome to Ohio" is quite sufficient.        

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Mitt Romney Dreams Of The Last Taxpayer And Nightsweats, Soaking His Magical Underwear"

My pals at The Red Fez have kindly published my poem "Mitt Romney Dreams Of The Last Taxpayer And Nightsweats, Soaking His Magical Underwear".  I wrote it back in 2013 to trade with my zine pal Mark Sonnenfeld.  It is nice that now others can read it.