Friday, February 6, 2009

Promise of Lower Airfares Too Good To Be True? Let's Hope Not

I have long bemoaned the "travel tax" we have too long paid by being the nation's most expensive airport. This tax hits our residents' and businesses' pockets, and also makes us less competitive as a destination. And we at the County encouraged citizens to fill out a survey to show Delta just how much local business they are losing due to their high rates.

The Chamber has also stepped up recently to make it clear just how big a problem this has become for our entire region.

Well, knock on wood, the message may finally be getting through. The Enquirer reports that Delta is proposing a plan to slash fares from 5 to 60% at our airport, effective immediately. If this does happen, it is fantastic news. And we will do all we can to ensure this is not a short-term deal, but something that is a permanent fix to this nagging problem.

Calm and Cool

This audio tape of US Airways Flight 1549 after it strikes birds and turns to land in the Hudson is an unbelievable, inspirational display of calm amid crisis. If you haven't heard it, take a listen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Removing the "Health Care Handcuffs": A Summary of the Change We Helped Enact

A couple months ago, I was thrilled to announce a change that our Criminal Justice Commission and County had successfully pushed for at the state level. And it was a change that I first advocated for right here on this blog (ie. suspending Medicaid, rather than terminating it, while someone is incarcerated, so once they leave jail, they can get the medical care and medicines they need so they don't commit another crime--which is especially important for those battling mental illnesses that lead to their criminal behavior).

A Cleveland Plain Dealer Op-Ed ran yesterday that explained much better than I ever have why this change will be so important in reducing crime and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars, and it recognized our County's contribution to the effort.

Wilmington: Coming Together at a Challenging Time

Tuesday, I had the honor of speaking at a dinner in Wilmington. Among others, I met the Mayor, David Raizk, who has been such a force of resiliency and persistence in helping his City and region cope with as serious an economic challenge as any town in this Country.

As I shared with the guests, my hope is that Wilmington will not just be seen as "ground zero" of our nation's economic troubles. As it copes with the crisis by coming together, taking care of its impacted citizens, and envisioning and realizing a new economic future, my hope is that it will ultimately be seen as a model of how communities can find opportunity out of even the greatest of challenges.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Continued Progress in Preventing Foreclosures

Today we announced results from the County/City foreclosure prevention effort, which links troubled homeowners to free counselors who guide them through the steps needed to avoid foreclosure.

Through these efforts, the Homeowner Preservation initiative prevented 756 homes from being foreclosed upon in 2008 (with still others in process). In 2007, the number of foreclosures avoided was 436. That means almost 1200 families have been spared the trauma and impact of foreclosure, and broader communities have been spared the blight and lost property value (totalling tens of millions of dollars collectively) that would have resulted from those foreclosures.

In addition, while it contintues to increase in communities across the state and nation, the number of properties that ultimately went to Sheriff’s sale stabilized in 2008 versus 2007 (3081 versus 3076), and the % of initial foreclosure filings that resulted in sales declined (from 62.19% to 57.25%). These results indicate that our efforts to avoid foreclosures are really making a difference in the ongoing housing crisis.

The County will continue to fund these efforts in 2009, and we are looking for ways to expand them to save more homes. More to come shortly.

For more information on this effort, go to the partnership's website.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Take the Survey: Your Community's Priorities

Several weeks ago, I asked local government leaders across the County about their priorities, challenges, and opportunities, and how we can work together for the betterment of our citizens.

Now I hope to hear directly from residents about what is happening in YOUR COMMUNITY. What are your priorities for your neighborhood? What are your biggest challenges, and biggest opportunities.

I hope you can take 5 or so minutes to fill out this survey -- by clicking here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giving Dog Owners Another Month

It's a small item . . . unless you own a dog and have not yet obtained your license.

Today, due to the several weeks of cold and snow we've experienced that made just about every task difficult, the Commission passed a resolution giving dog owners until the end of February to obtain their dog licenses for 2009. Ohio law generally sets a January 31 deadline, unless circumstances justify extending it. We believe they did.

By doing this, owners can still get their license for $13, as opposed to paying double that to get it, or facing a fine almost ten times that if they are found not to have a license. Especially when our purpose is to increase the number of owners who get licenses (helping assure the safe return of their dog if it gets loose), we didn't want to penalize people who weren't able to get it done in the last two weeks due to weather and associated hassles.

So you still have a month to get it done. Go to or the Auditor's site to get your license.

And thanks to the SPCA and the County Auditor staff for their hard work to help get as many dogs licensed as possible.
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