Saturday, July 27, 2013

ExxonMobil ending housing assistance for Mayflower spill victims

From:  Arkansas Times 

 by Max Brantley 

READY TO OCCUPY? ExxonMobil is ending housing assistance payments to people routed from homes by its oil spill.
READY TO OCCUPY? ExxonMobil is ending
housing assistance payments to people
 routed from homes by its oil spill.
Sam Eifling, newly at work for us on our Mayflower oil spill project with Inside Climate News, is at work on a news story about ExxonMobil's notice to owners of property in the Mayflower subdivision soiled by the pipeline burst that the oil giant is cutting off temporary housing assistance Sept. 1 to displaced residents.
This is sooner than some had expected. Many do not want to move home. After Sept. 1, they must or pay their own money to live elsewhere.
I mention this before the article is complete because word is leaking out. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, one of the pipeline industry's biggest advocates, is trying to get out in front of more bad news from Exxon by issuing a statement urging it to do right. He's angry about the latest, he said.
As someone who first praised Exxon's initial response, Griffin has become more consumer oriented in recent days, a position he hasn't adopted in the face of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry the same kind of problematic Canadian tar sands across a senstive Nebraska aquifer. No word if Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who recently proclaimed Mayflower in better condition than pre-spill, shares Griffin's indignation.
Though Griffin is no longer alibiing for ExxonMobil, his heightened interest hasn't produced transparency from Exxon on reasons behind the pipeline break; solicitous treatment of directly affected homeowners, or adequate treatment of people farther removed from the pipeline break who insist they and Lake Conway have been harmed as well.
More later from Sam Eifling. In the meanwhile: Griffin's prepared statement follows on the jump. He again mentions his legislation to give an income tax break to people who receive voluntary payments from Exxon. That legislation won't cover payments won by lawsuits. Cessation of housing assistance raises another point of contention that might have to be resolved by legal action since Exxon intends to end voluntary payments.

WASHINGTON — Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after sending a letter to Gary Pruessing, president of the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company:

“It is my understanding that ExxonMobil informed displaced Mayflower residents whose homes have been cleared by the Unified Command that after September 1, 2013, ExxonMobil intends to cut off funding for their alternative housing. I am angered and deeply concerned that ExxonMobil would prematurely terminate housing assistance for these residents, forcing them to either move back into their homes or pay the full cost of alternative housing. In addition, weeks after I received highly technical raw data on these inspections, I have still not received a response from ExxonMobil to my request for a briefing on this raw data, which is indecipherable without technical assistance. In all of these matters, ExxonMobil should step up and fulfill its duty.”
A copy of the letter, which among other things requests that ExxonMobil continue to provide housing assistance to the affected residents through December 31, 2013, can be found here.
Since the March 29 oil spill, Rep. Griffin has toured the cleanup site several times (most recently last week), remained in constant contact with residents and representatives of the Unified Command, and called for relocating the Pegasus pipeline away from Lake Maumelle.
Last week, Griffin introduced H.R. 2724, which will prevent compensation provided to Mayflower residents from being taxable by classifying it as “a qualified disaster relief payment” under current law. This would protect the impacted families from facing thousands of dollars in additional taxes. [Only to the extent they received payment in excess of the cost value of their homes.] In a presidentially-declared disaster, such as those that occurred in Oklahoma and New Jersey, any benefits provided would automatically be tax-exempt.

charter group submits required signatures

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — A group trying to put a county charter government initiative on the November ballot has submitted the required number of petition names to do so, a spokesman said.

Robert Malinowski, of the Committee for a New Ashtabula, said Friday he understood volunteers had gathered around 663 additional names to replace those ruled invalid by the Ashtabula County Board of Elections earlier this month. The collection process is over, he said.

“Twenty-five petitions were turned in,” Malinowski said. “We have more than enough signatures.


An Open Invitation to my fellow Ashtabulians:

by Monique Kawalek

I am often the only citizen in attendance at meetings held by Ashtabula County Commissioners. Expenditures, new positions, levies and the like are barely discussed much less evaluated at work sessions.  Elaborate and lengthy resolutions, which are presumably derived as a result of work sessions, pass without discussion at the speed of light.
More taxpayers should make a point of attending. An informed, and participating, electorate is essential to ensuring any kind of government works as intended.
My family moved to Ashtabula a little over than two years ago. We chose this as our home because we were struck both by its beauty and the goodness of the people we met. Now, we are Ashtabulians.
 My background is in business and over the years I have watched businesses I knew fail because they ignored the realities of ensuring their resources were used well and judiciously. The problems here parallel those now confronting business, and government, around the country.
I began to interview people who depended on programs funded by Ashtabula County. My concerns grew. I found disabled people who are uneasy when making a doctor's appointment for fear of being stranded being just one of the rampant problems with the ACT Program. I wondered why this, and other programs, were contracted to businesses outside our county at such high costs.
People who had legitimate and dangerous issues which involved young children who were not being served by the Ashtabula Children's Services.  Those most in need were not being cared for and treated with dignity and respect. Their stories are appalling.

This past Tuesday, when I entered the scheduled Commissioner meeting, I expected to once again simply listen and take notes.
At first, it was like other meetings I have attended. The  Commissioners were present along with Lisa Hawkins, Clerk of the Board,  Janet Discher, County Administrator and a woman reporter from the Star Beacon. 
The 34 minute work session was fairly uneventful.  Of note a short discussion about a notice to request bids for a turnkey web content management system complete with training was discussed, this to cost in excess of 50k.  No mention was made of the impact passage of the Charter Amendment would necessarily have on any web presence for the County. 

But apparently the Charter Amendment  was very much on Mr. Claypool's mind as he confronted me at the conclusion of the meeting. Mr. Claypool and I are not acquainted so I was expecting cold courtesy.  Instead in increasingly shrill tones and ever redder face he complained about an email that said nothing about him and turned our discussion into being all about him. He ranted about his exemplary career,  he informed me he had never done anything illegal  and in summation he intimated I should be grateful for all his hard, honest work and accomplishments.

I am fairly new here to Ashtabula County so I am not very clear on what those accomplishments are, but I guess I can begin to research them. Despite his inappropriate tone to a citizen I think he deserves credit for honesty in this case. It’s not many politicians that would flat out come apart in front of a Charter Committee person  because when enacted he would lose his position. If that wasn’t such a selfish motivation, and if he hadn’t been so narcissistic and petulant in delivering it, I might admire him for that rare political trait: blunt honesty.
After a little research what I have discovered is that Mr. Claypool had retired and now is rehired.  He enjoys a pension as well as a salary at a time when many Ashtabulians are struggling for food and shelter with no promise of security in sight.

Among other things we must demand our politicians  approach  the challenges facing our County objectively.  They are responsible for what they do - and for what they do to us who trusted them to act on our behalf.

It was my initial attendance at Commissioner meetings which led me to become more involved with a diverse group of citizens proposing changes which bring government back to the people. The people involved are democrats, republicans, independents, and libertarians.  We share the sense that accountability along with effective research, are desperately needed to nurture prosperity here in Ashtabula County.  

The Charter government promises to return government to the people. Instead of 3 Commissioners the people will elect 7 Council people, each representing a specific constituency. We believe this makes the government more accountable and available to the people.

For more good things for Ashtabulians  please take a look at the details of the Charter at

I started this letter as an invitation, the invitation is to join me at our County meetings.  Email Lisa Hawkins ( and ask her to be put on the mailing list. Request from her the meeting schedule each week, the minutes from work sessions, the agendas and the resolutions.

I shake my head every time I see taxpayer money wasted, misappropriated or squandered.  All expenditures must be considered carefully so all can be served, especially those most in need.
Together we need to ask questions, support good ideas, and ensure the voice of the people is present in our government.

Monique Kawalek

Friday, July 26, 2013


A new website, $50,000.  Why now, just months before the vote on a new form of governance for Ashtabula County?

COMMENTARY through comments at bottom

The Board of County Commissioners of Ashtabula County, Ohio, met on the 23rd day of July, 2013 in regular session at the offices of the Board, Old Courthouse, 2nd Floor, Jefferson, Ohio, with the following members present: Joseph A. Moroski, Daniel R. Claypool, Peggy A. Carlo.

WHEREAS, Janet Discher, Ashtabula County Administrator, has submitted a request to the Board of Commissioners to order a Request for Proposal for to obtain a qualified private vendor to supply a turnkey Web Content Management (WCM) System, perform the initial conversion of existing web presence content and train Ashtabula County users on system usage; and

WHEREAS, Because the above request is estimated to be is in excess of $50,000.00, it is necessary to advertise for proposals as required by Section 307.862 Ohio Revised Code in accordance with specifications now on file in this office; now6

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Board of Commissioners of Ashtabula County, Ohio, that a proposal opening will be held on the 23rd day of August, 2013 at 2:00p.m. at the office of the Ashtabula County Commissioners and the Clerk of the Board is hereby ordered to post notice via the internet at the Ashtabula County Website, “”.


The Board of County Commissioners of Ashtabula County, Ohio, met on the 23rd day of July, 2013, in regular session at the offices of said Board in the Old Courthouse Building, 2nd Floor, Jefferson, Ohio, with the following members present: Joseph A. Moroski, Daniel R. Claypool, Peggy A. Carlo.

WHEREAS, it is declared and determined that all formal actions of the Board of County Commissioners concerning and relating to the adoption of all resolutions that were adopted in this meeting, and that all deliberations of the Board of Commissioners and any of its committees that resulted in such formal action, were open to the public and were in compliance with all legal requirements, including Section 121.11 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Carl Feather Employment Information

Carl Feather, formerly a reporter with the Star Beacon 


The New Hotel Tax, aimed at small business people and householders trying to make a few dollars  - Or, a Hunting License for Carl Feather (See Feather Employment Information

COMMENTARY through comments!

The Board of County Commissioners of Ashtabula County, Ohio, met on the 23rd day of July, 2013, in regular session at the offices of said Board in the Old Courthouse Building, 2nd Floor, Jefferson, Ohio, with the following members present: Joseph A. Moroski, Daniel R. Claypool, Peggy A. Carlo.

WHEREAS, On April 22, 1991, pursuant to Section 5739.024 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Board of Commissioners levied an excise tax on transactions by which lodging by a hotel or motel is furnished to guests; and

WHEREAS, Said Resolution has been previously amended by Resolution Numbers 91-825; 96-1687; 2002-221; 2002-471; 2002-924; and

WHEREAS, Ohio Revised Code Section 5739.024(G), as enacted by House Bill 94 of the 124th General Assembly, authorizes a board of county commissioners to adopt a resolution specifying that, for purposes of any lodging tax that may be imposed by the board under Ohio Revised Code Section 5739.024 or division (c) of Ohio Revised Code Section 5739.02, “hotel” as otherwise defined in Ohio Revised Code Section 5739.01, includes establishments in which fewer than five rooms are used for the accommodation of guests; and

WHEREAS, from time to time, it is found necessary to update the Ashtabula County Lodging Excise Tax Code of Regulations, to-wit:

Section 1: Title
This code of regulations shall be known and may be cited and referred to as “Ashtabula County Lodging Excise Tax Code of Regulations” or “County Lodging Excise Tax Code of Regulations” to the same effect. The authority for this code is ORC sections 5739.024(A), 5739.024(G) and 5739.09(A)(1), and 5739.09(A)(4) and Chapter 351, and Board of Commissioners resolutions 91-451, 91-825, 93-1687, 2002-221, 2002-471, 2002-924 and 2003-891.
Section 2: Definitions

Except where the context otherwise requires, the definitions given in this section govern the regulations and are the meanings of the words defined.
    a. “Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, social club, fraternal organization, joint stock company, corporation, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, trustee, syndicate or any other group or combination acting as a unit.
    b. Administrator means the Lodging Tax Administrator of Ashtabula County, Ohio, or his or her appointed designee, who has been authorized by the Board of Commissioners to administer the lodging tax rules and regulations. Such tax and associated penalties and interest are collected by the board, but the board, at its discretion, may assign that collection duty to the Ashtabula County Auditor or Treasurer.
    c. Auditor means the Auditor of Ashtabula County, Ohio, or his or her appointed designee.
    d. Lodging means every establishment kept, used, maintained, advertised or held out to the public to be a place where sleeping accommodations are offered for a consideration to transient guests, in which one or more rooms are used for the accommodation of such guests, whether such rooms are in one or several structures where keyed entry is provided. This includes but is not limited to hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, cottages, guest houses, tourist homes/houses, cabins, condominiums, vacation homes, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, lodges, sub-leased condominiums, dormitories or any public or private clubs at a fixed location.
    e. “Transient” guest means persons occupying a room or rooms for sleeping accommodations fewer than 30 consecutive nights.
    f. “Rent” means the consideration received for occupancy valued in money, whether received in money or otherwise, including all receipts, cash, credits and property or services of any kind or nature, and also any amount for which the occupant is liable for the occupancy without any deduction there from whatsoever. In those situations where the rent is part of a package that includes food, instruction, recreation, transportation or other services, the Operator must determine the reasonable value of the rent portion of the service and calculate the tax thereon. Additional fees imposed by the Operator for special situations, such as accommodating a pet or providing amenities or special guest accommodations, are subject to the lodging tax. Amenities that are advertised or offered as free or complimentary cannot be deducted from room rents.
    g. “Operator” means the person or persons who is (are) proprietor(s) of the lodging establishment, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee or any other capacity. Where the Operator performs his functions through a managing agent of any type or character other than an employee, the managing agent shall also be deemed an Operator for the purposes of this regulation and shall have the same duties and liabilities as his principal. Compliance with the provisions of this regulation by either the principal or the managing agent shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both.
    h. “Occupancy” means the use or possession, or the right to the use or possession of any room or rooms or space or portion thereof, in any lodging establishment for dwelling or sleeping purposes. The use or possession or right to use or possess any room or any suite of connecting rooms as office space, banquet or private dining rooms, or exhibit, sample or display space shall not be considered occupancy within the meaning of this definition unless the person exercising occupancy uses or possesses, or has the right to use or possess all or any portions of such room or suite of rooms for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purpose.

Section 3: Intent

It is the intent of these rules and regulations to provide for the administration of imposing, collecting and distributing the levy of an excise tax of five percent (5%) on transactions by which lodging by an Operator is or is to be furnished to transient guests as referred to and authorized by Ohio Revised Code Section 5739.024. Accordingly, these rules and regulations shall be liberally construed to effectuate that purpose so as to be consistent with any requirement of law, compliance which is a prerequisite to the validity of the tax intended to be levied hereby.

The tax and any associated penalties shall be collected by the Administrator appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The Board may, in its discretion, assign collection duties to the Treasurer or Auditor of Ashtabula County.

Section 4: Imposition and Rate of Tax:

For the purpose of growing the tourism industry in Ashtabula County, an excise tax of five percent (5%) is levied upon all transactions when lodging is, or is to be, furnished to transient guests. Such excise tax consists of a three percent (3%) tax authorized pursuant to Section 5739.09(A)(1) of the Ohio Revised Code and allocated by the Board of Commissioners to the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACCVB), and a two percent (2%) tax authorized pursuant to Section 5739.09(A)(4) of the Ohio Revised Code and allocated to the Ashtabula County Convention Facilities Authority (CFA).

Collectively, such taxes are known as the Ashtabula County Lodging Tax.
The tax applies and is collectible at the time the lodging is furnished, regardless of when the price for same is paid. For the purpose of proper administration, and to prevent evasion of the tax, it is presumed that all rents for transient lodging in Ashtabula County are subject to the tax until the contrary is established.
The transient guest shall pay the excise tax to the Operator, and each Operator shall collect from the transient guest the full and exact amount of the tax payable. The tax required to be paid and collected shall be deemed to be held in trust by the Operator until paid to the Administrator. The guest’s failure to pay the tax does not relieve the Operator of his or her responsibility to report and remit the obligation to the Administrator

The Board of Commissioners recognizes the right of townships and municipalities that are located either partially or wholly within Ashtabula County to enact and administer lodging taxes as provided under ORC 5739.08.

Section 5: Exemptions

No Operator shall refuse to collect and no transient guest shall refuse to pay the full and exact tax as required by this regulation. No guest shall present to the Operator false evidence indicating that the lodging as furnished is not subject to the tax.

No tax shall be imposed under this regulation upon:
Rents not within the taxing power of the county under the Constitution or laws of Ohio or the United States;

No exemption claimed under this section shall be granted except upon a claim therefore made at the time rent is collected and under penalty of perjury upon a form prescribed by the Administrator.

Generally recognized exemptions are Federal Government Employees traveling on official business and employees of a federal credit union, traveling on official credit union business. To receive the exemption, a copy of a Transient Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate must be filed with the Operator’s tax return.

Section 6: Tax to be Stated and Charged Separately

The tax to be collected shall be stated on and charged separately from the rent and shown separately on all records, bills, statements or other documents evidencing the transaction. The tax shall be paid by the transient guest to the Operator as trustee for and on the account of the county. The Operator shall be liable for the collection and remittance of the tax to the County as set forth herein.
In instances where the Operator advertises the rent as “taxes included,” the Operator must be prepared to, upon request by the transient guest or Administrator, the cost of the lodging before any taxes.

Section 7: Refunds

The Administrator shall grant credits to Operators for the amount of any taxes paid illegally or erroneously, as well as any penalties or interest erroneously collected from the Operator.

The transient guest may obtain a credit for the amount of taxes paid illegally or erroneously, but only when the transient guest paid the tax directly to the Administrator. No refund shall be paid unless the claimant establishes his right thereto in writing on forms furnished by the Administrator, stating under penalty of perjury the specific grounds upon which the claim is founded. Such claims shall be filed with the Administrator within three years of the date of payment. The form may be obtained by making a request to Lodging Tax Administrator, Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners, 25 W. Jefferson St., Jefferson, OH 44047, by calling the office at (440) 576-3750 or visiting the lodging tax section of the Ashtabula County website,

Section 8: Registration

Prior to 30 days before commencing business, each Operator of any lodging establishment renting lodging to transient guests shall register said establishment with the Administrator and obtain a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate. The document must be posted in a conspicuous place at all times on the Operator’s premises. Said certificate shall state:

 The Operator’s name
 The name(s) and street address of the operation
 The date the certificate was issued
 The county’s intent in collecting the excise tax
 The following language: “This Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate signifies that the person named on the face hereof has fulfilled the requirements of the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners Lodging Tax Code of Regulations by registering with the Administrator for the purpose of collecting from transient guests the Ashtabula County Lodging Excise Tax and remitting said tax to the county. This certificate does not constitute a permit.”
An Operator who elects to convert a property to “full-time (permanent) rental use,” i.e. the guest will be staying 30 days or more and the property is held out to the public as such, must surrender the Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate issued by the Administrator and pay the excise tax through the date of conversion. A new certificate must be obtained prior to the property being re-instated as transient guest lodging.

Section 9: Reporting and Remitting

The Administrator shall provide reporting forms either electronically (email/download) or by mail to each Operator responsible for collecting the tax.
Operators whose excise tax collection is anticipated to or actually exceeds $100 per month for three consecutive months must file and pay monthly. Operators whose tax liability is $100 or less per month may file quarterly. The Administrator, at his discretion, may revoke the option of quarterly filing if the Operator fails to file a report and pay taxes due in a timely manner.
All Operators whose business is seasonal (i.e. April through October) need not file reports during the months the property is not offered for lodging. However, said seasonal Operators must indicate the following information on the final report of the season for that calendar year:
• That the report is the final one for the season and no further reportable business will be conducted at the location;
• The year, month and day the Operator intends to resume the business.
Each Operator shall, on or before the last day of the month, complete and file a report for the preceding month (or quarterly reporting period) showing receipts from furnishing lodging and the amount of excise due from the Operator to the county for the period of the return. Returns must be delivered in person, mailed or, at the county’s discretion, submitted electronically, by the due date. Such returns that are mailed must have a postmark of the last day of the month or earlier to be within the required reporting period. For example, the return for the month of June or the second quarter must be postmarked on or before July 31 of the same year.

Payment of the lodging tax reported must be included with the report, as must be any claims for exemption filed by transient guests with the Operator for the period covered by the return. Acceptable payment forms include business check, certified check or money order. In the event a check is returned for insufficient funds, closed account or other reasons, the Administrator shall impose a penalty of $50 and require all future payments be made by certified check or money order.

The Administrator may extend the time for making and filing returns, but any payments that are due and unpaid will accrue penalties and interest as prescribed by Section 11 of this document.

As part of the reporting process, the Administrator, at his discretion, may request from the Operator other pertinent data, including but not limited to the number of rooms available/rented, the cost of such rooms on a weekly or daily basis and the 
Operator’s business forecast as part of the reporting requirement.

A lodging activity report must be filed even if the Operator received no consideration for lodging provided (including family/friends using the rooms) during the reporting period.

Operators who own more than one hotel in Ashtabula County must file a separate report for each property. Aggregate payments are acceptable, but multiple properties may not be combined on one report. Aggregate reports will be rejected and individual reports requested by the Administrator.

All returns and payments submitted by each Operator shall be treated as confidential by the Administrator and shall not be released by the Administrator except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or to an officer or agent of the United States, State of Ohio, County of Ashtabula, Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACCVB), fiscal officer of a municipality or township which levies a lodging tax or in order to comply with the requirements of Ohio Revised Code 149.43.

Returns and payments are due immediately upon cessation of business for any reason.

Section 10: Auditing

Audits are an integral part of a fair administration and collection of the tax.
The Administrator or Auditor of the County of Ashtabula may conduct audits as are deemed necessary in order to ensure compliance with these rules and regulations and the imposition and payment of the tax. The Administrator or Auditor has the right to inspect the Operator’s business records at all reasonable times. Operators are required to keep, preserve and produce upon request, for a period of three years, all records necessary to determine the amount of the tax and corroborate lodging reports as filed by the Operator.

Section 11: Penalties, interest and fines on delinquent payments

A report and the tax due the county shall be considered delinquent if the same are not received by the last day of the month for the preceding reporting period, whether a month or quarter.
• A tax payment that is delinquent shall be subject to a 10 percent penalty. In the event that an audit reveals intention to defraud the county of the lodging tax, the penalty shall be increased to 25 percent
• Any penalty assessed by the Administrator is due immediately.
• Additionally, the Administrator may impose a penalty of $25 for any Operator who files three or more reports past the due date in a given year. A penalty of $100 will be imposed for each month a tax payment is delinquent six months or more. These fines are imposed under the authority of the ORC 5739.99(D).
• Penalties, interest and fines shall be retained by the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners as administrative fees.
• No penalties shall be imposed on the Operator during the pendency of the appeals process.

Section 12: Noncompliance estimate of tax due

If any Operator fails or refuses to collect the transient guest tax or to file a return and to make a remittance of such tax or any portion thereof as required herein, the Administrator shall proceed in such manner deemed best to obtain facts and information on which to base an estimate of the tax due. The estimate will be used to calculate a penalty and interest due, as well. The burden of proving the estimate inaccurate rests upon the Operator.

Once a determination of the amount due is made, the Administrator shall give notice to the Operator by serving the same upon the Operator, personally or by registered or certified mail. Such Operator may, within ten (10) days after the serving or mailing of such notice, make application in writing to the Administrator for a hearing of the amount assessed. If the application by the Operator is not made within the time prescribed, then the tax, penalty and interest determined by the Administrator shall become final, conclusive and immediately due and payable.

If such application is made, the Administrator shall give not less than five (5) days written notice in the manner prescribed in this section to the Operator to show cause at a time and place fixed in such notice why the amount specified therein shall not be fixed for such acts and penalty. In any such hearing, the Operator may appear and offer evidence why such specified tax and penalty should not be so fixed. After such hearing, the Administrator shall determine, within ten (10) days, the proper tax and any penalties and/or interest due and give written notice, in person or by registered or certified mail, of same to the Operator. The amount determined to be due shall be payable with fifteen (15) days of receipt of the notice by the Operator, unless an appeal is taken as provided in Section 13.

Section 13: Appeal

An Operator aggrieved by any decision of the Administrator with respect to the amount of such tax and penalties due, may appeal to the Board of Ashtabula County Commissioners by filing a written notice of appeal with the Administrator within 15 days of receipt of the determination of the amount tax due. The Board of Ashtabula County Commissioners shall fix a time and place for hearing such appeal, and shall give notice in writing to such Operator at his last known place of address. The findings of the Board of Ashtabula County Commissioners shall be final and conclusive of the tax and any penalties, and notice of same shall be served upon the appellant in the manner prescribed above for service of notice of hearing. Any amount found to be due shall immediately be due and payable upon the service of notice.

Section 14 - Severability

If any sentence, clause, section or part of these rules and regulations, or any tax imposed as specified herein, is found to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such unconstitutional, illegality or invalidity shall affect only such clause, sentence, section or part and shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions, sentences, clauses, sections or other parts of these rules and regulations

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Rules and Regulations adopted pursuant to Resolution Number 91-451, 91-825; 96-1687; 2002-221; 2002-471; 2002-924 are hereby amended to update the Ashtabula County Lodging Excise Tax Code of Regulations, as noted above and in accordance with a copy of the amended Code of Regulations now on file in this office; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That such amendment shall be effective immediately.

A Vietnamese Lunch on Bridge Street and Time Banking for Ashtabula

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The Vietnamese Beef Grill with noodles came with a salad, alive with flavor. I added hot sauce to my noodles. My son, Arthur, dined on appetizers. The owner of Pho Saigon used his mother's recipes. Good move. A lunch and dinner menu are now being planned.

Rebecca Monda, who teaches our Pilates class at the Wellness Center, mentioned the existence of a Vietnamese restaurant on Bridge Street. Naturally, we had to try it immediately, and we were glad we did.

Local restaurants, owned and operated by locally, are good to see. Establishing them reverses the trend toward franchises, which take money out of the area.

Keeping our energies, and income, local has been a real problem in Ashtabula, and around the country. Ashtabula experienced the depletion caused by outsourcing jobs from the 1960s on.

Tools which relocalize exist, and are beginning to be used both in Ashtabula and elsewhere around the country.

Ashtabula now has its own Time Bank, thanks to St. Peter's Episcopal Church. By providing a Time Bank through their website, St. Peter's and the My Neighborhood group, which has been working on promoting local cooperation, are following a well-tread path which has proven useful to many around the world.

Over 600 areas in the United States and Great Britain and 34 nations around the world have started various versions of a time hour system. The reasons include encouraging exchange between people, resisting inflation, facilitating trade, and building a cooperative community.

A long step up from barter, participants can trade skills they have for the skills of others, producing exchanges which decrease the dependence on money and expand the circle of people you know.
Since the first modern Time Bank, Ithaca Hours, began in 1991, the number of Time Banks has steadily increased as confidence in the dollar continues to wane. Ithaca Hours can also be used for professional services, such as dental care, in many instances.

It was not the first time Americans have been moved by a need to establish alternatives to the dollar. Local currencies proliferated in America during the great depression, fell into disuse after the end of World War II, and today are back and growing more numerous.

Trade catering for gardening, having a dress made, or your bathroom renovated. Visit the Ashtabula Time Banking link on the St. Peter's website. Maybe before long Time Hours will be accepted at your local restaurant.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Locomobile, Henry Ford, and 3-D Printing

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In 1900 the first automobile entered Yosemite Valley, causing a roil of excitement. The machine, a Locomobile, was owned by Oliver Lippincott. Over the next decade Americans would begin their move from horses as the primary source of transportation, to automobiles.

Automobiles were promptly banned in the Valley by the Park Service for the next 13 years.

In the meantime, Henry Ford, whose hometown win in his specially designed auto, the Sweepstakes, against Alexander Winton on October 10, 1901 provided the impetus allowing Ford to prove the concept of low-cost production with the Model T.

It was the assembly line, not the Model T, which put the world on wheels and changed how Americans lived.

The moving assembly line also changed how people viewed themselves.

While the assembly line lowered the cost of the finished product, bringing them within the reach of more people, things produced were identical. The assembly line changed how the world production and our relationship with how we create. These things were identical.

But people are all different.

Today, a new form of production has entered the market, moving the means of production from factory to garage.

Jay Leno uses 3-D printing to save him the aggravation of searching out old car parts for his extensive collection of antique cars. Leno is a practical guy, and scrounging through junk yards is now a thing of the past for him as he views his collection of vintage autos.

The new technology is shaking up assumptions about how a broad range of things can be best produced and how we do business.

Today, 3-D is producing hearing aids, exactly tailored to the wearer's ear canal, and is being used in experiments producing custom-fitted prosthetic limbs. The cost for complex aircraft parts may move to 3-D, doing away with bolts and screws which before held components together.

Printers are not expensive. Free plans are available on the Internet, and you can buy a small 3-D printer for under $1,000. The process lends itself to programs which can handle the technical side of the work. Patterns are generated by computer, transmitted and downloaded. Using layers of material laid down incrementally, the object is produced.

Today, the impact on the market is only beginning. Many believe 3-D will reverse the outsourcing of production, bringing it all the way home to people.

Imagine deciding exactly what you want, and getting it.   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Depth: What is Pegasus Pipeline?

From:  THV11

A day after Exxon cited an independent study claiming manufacturer defects caused the rupture of the Pegasus Pipeline Mayflower residents responded.

The Mind of the Stalker

COMMENT - The title of this article is slightly deceptive, as it actually provides a succinct overview of psychopaths which is very insightful.  It is well worth reading in toto.  Editor, Ashtabula Times

January 12, 2013

(GOLD BAR, WA) -- The Sky Valley Chronicle was asked recently by a Snohomish County resident who plans to file criminal charges against a cyber-stalker(s), how the state law on “regular stalking” comes into play in making sure a stalker or stalkers is charged with as many criminal counts as possible.

In the context of the question and being that January is Stalking Awareness Monthaccording to the U.S. Department of Justice, we present the following information for your review and consideration.

The good news for victims of stalker crimes is that the Washington law on regular stalking (RCW 9a.46.110) can b e used in many cases to file additional criminal charges (charges in addition, for example to cyber-stalking charges) against the perpetrators of such crimes. 

This is a powerful tool a victim can deploy in the fight against such criminals in that many sociopaths who engage in both “regular” stalking and cyber-stalking are often unaware of – or simply ignore – the sheer number of laws they are breaking (or how often) or that laws overlap allowing for the filing of multiple charges under different statutes.

Even if they do realize such a thing, stalkers – many of whom are textbook sociopaths who cannot control their behavior because of the high they get from it – simply can’t stop from doing what has always been a pleasurable behavior they were certain had no downside risk to their lives.  MORE

Monday, July 15, 2013

Muckraking the Mayflower Oil Spill

InsideClimate News, winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, is teaming up with theArkansas Times, an aggressive daily news site with a weekly print edition based in Little Rock,  to get to the bottom of the ExxonMobil oil spill in Mayflower, Ark. Why? Because it’s a disaster in danger of being forgotten or ignored, even though it has irrevocably changed the lives of many people like you and me — and because this spill, like previous spills, should be part of the national debate about the future of energy and the impacts of carbon pollution.
The Mayflower spill occurred on March 29. As many as 400,000 gallons of tar sands oil spilled into a residential neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of 22 homes that remain empty today. Residents continue to complain of a variety of health effects. A pile of oil-soaked debris hasn’t been removed from the area, and oil saturating a cove still threatens Lake Conway, a popular fishing lake. Yet little information about the cause of the spill — or when the shuttered pipeline might be re-started — has been forthcoming from Exxon or federal authorities.
The Mayflower story has national implications. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry the same type of unconventional oil from Canada to Texas. But in this age of shrinking newsrooms, few media outlets have been covering this important story from a small town in Arkansas. The collaboration between Arkansas Times and InsideClimate News will allow this story to be told from both a local and national perspective, and fill a glaring gap in media coverage.

The Knowledge Effect

From:  Thomson Reuters 

A federal judge in Arkansas has denied Exxon Mobil Corp.’s motion to dismiss or strike class-action allegations in a suit over the March rupture of the Pegasus pipeline and resulting oil spill.
U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller of the Eastern District of Arkansas found Ellen Burgess’ amended pleading rendered Exxon Mobil’s objections to the original complaint’s proposed classes and alleged damages moot.
The amended pleading removed a previously proposed class of property owners with land within 3 miles of the rupture site near Mayflower, Ark., and now includes only owners of land bordering nearby Lake Conway and its coves and inlets at the time of the spill.  MORE

Lac-Megantic Oil Train Disaster & OPFLEX & Downstream Contamination

From:  Opflex

Increased Frequency of Earthquakes Linked to Fracking Wastewater Injection Wells

From:  EcoWatch 

The increased rates of earthquakes occurring in the central and eastern U.S over the past few years is a growing cause of concern. Two recent reports delve into the probability of man-made, induced earthquakes.
According to the U.S Geological Survey (USGS), more than 300 earthquakes above a magnitude 3.0 occurred from 2010-2012, compared with a much lower national average rate of 21 earthquakes per year observed from 1967-2000. The USGS also found that the increase in seismic activity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells. Much of this is a byproduct of oil and gas production which uses the process of fracking for extraction. The fracking wastewater is disposed of into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose.
Seismicity of the coterminous U.S. and surrounding regions, 2009–2012. Black dots denote earthquakes with a magnitude ≥ 3.0 are shown; larger dots denote events with a magnitude ≥ 4.0. Background colors indicate earthquake hazard levels from the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Map (NSHM). Graphic courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey
The journal Science published a report Thursday, concluding that powerful earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection well sites like those used in oil and gas recovery, sometimes followed months later by quakes big enough to destroy buildings.
What seems to happen is that wastewater injection leaves local faults “critically loaded,” or on the verge of rupture. Even weak seismic waves from faraway quakes are therefore enough to set off a throngs of small quakes in a process called “dynamic triggering.”
Geologists have known for 50 years that injecting fluid underground, by the impoundment of water in reservoirs, surface and underground mining, can increase pressure on seismic faults and make them more likely to slip. The result is an induced quake.
The “natural gas boom” of recent years has been linked to an increase in small to moderate earthquakes. According to Rueters, seismologists at Columbia University say they have identified three earthquakes—in Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas—that were triggered at injection-well sites by major quakes a far distance away.
The seismic waves from an 8.8 quake in Maule, Chile, in February 2010 triggered a 4.1 magnitude quake in Prague, OK—site of the Wilzetta oil field—some 16 hours later. Months of smaller tremors in Oklahoma ensued, and then on Nov. 6, 2011, a 5.7 magnitude quake—the largest yet associated with wastewater injection—hit the city of Prague. It destroyed 14 homes, buckled a highway and injured two people.
“The fluids [in wastewater injection wells] are driving the faults to their tipping point,” said Nicholas van der Elst of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who led the study. 
Before the advent of injection wells, triggered earthquakes were a purely natural phenomenon. Now, according to the Science paper, triggered quakes can occur where human activity has weakened faults.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING and FRACKING WASTEWATER pages for more related news on this topic.