Kudos to The Blade on the ongoing investigation into the Tom Noe-BWC scandal. Unfortunately, it appears that you were doing the job our elected statewide leaders have failed to do.
Where was Gov. Bob Taft when the foolish and imprudent investment scheme was first proposed? No government money should ever have been invested in rare coins. Where were Jim Petro and Betty Montgomery? Mr. Petro is the current attorney general and Ms. Montgomery is the former attorney general. Wasn't it their job as chief legal counsel for the state to advise against such an investment? Ms. Montgomery is the current state auditor and Petro was the former auditor. Wasn't it their job to ensure the security of Ohio government investments?
Even after The Blade broke the story, all three failed to demonstrate true leadership. They continued to defend Tom Noe and delayed action. They chose to put their political party and personal friendships ahead of protecting the interests of the citizens of Ohio. The media scrutiny forced them into taking action.
Ohio's Republican Party has had a stranglehold on state government for the past 14 years. One-party dominance and the failure of the rest of the corporate media in Ohio to scrutinize the activity in Columbus has created a culture of corruption in state government. Lord Acton, a British historian of the late 19th and early 20th century, put it best when he said, "Power tends to corrupt; Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Clearly that has been the case in Ohio's state capital. Ohioans need to take back control of their state government. Reforms are needed to end the "pay to play" mentality that permeates state government.
Finally, those who have failed to perform in their current elected office should not be rewarded by Ohioans with re-election or election to a new position just because they have a familiar name. It is time to clean house in Columbus!
Michael Dansack, Jr.
At least State Auditor Betty Montgomery is the one state politician who is honest enough to inform the electorate of her actions during the coin scandal involving the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and other politicians at the state level. I quote: "I hope my record will reflect after all of these years, that I am guilty of doing nothing." I doubt whether anyone else could have said it better.
In the May 27 Blade, State Auditor Betty Montgomery is quoted as saying regarding the Tom Noe situation: ". . . I am guilty of doing nothing."
Congratulations to Betty! She deserves credit for at least recognizing part of the problem! She did nothing to properly audit this questionable scheme over the last seven years; she did nothing to get the audit ball rolling in a timely fashion when The Blade alerted us all to possible problems with the coin fund in early April, and she did nothing until late May, by which time the situation was totally out of hand. She should resign. Along with her fellow "do-nothings" State Attorney General Jim Petro and Gov. "Do Nothing" Bob Taft.
After seeing the Tom Noe coin scandal dominate your headlines for the past month, I have had enough. I wonder what The Blade would have done if this was a Democrat in the same position. The obvious answer would be that your liberal newspaper would have failed to print the story, or thrown it on the back page of the Second News where no one would have noticed.
What are you trying to prove with your two-plus pages of daily investigation? Everyone already knows that this paper hates anything and everything that deals with Republicans or our party.
Get over this story and move on printing the news like a newspaper should. While you're at it, go ahead and change that slogan from "One of America's Great Newspapers" to simply "America's Most Liberal Newspaper."
A Hollywood filmmaker could not script a better film than the Taft administration at play. The characters needed from central casting are bouncing Bob Taft, influence peddler Tom Noe, Jim "I am a great administrator" Conrad, and the bagman, Brian Hicks, former Taft chief-of-staff and now a big time Ohio lobbyist, whose client list includes the Taft and Bush-Cheney campaigns. We are told the Noes' "investments" go beyond the highly speculative coin operation and now include investments in "paintings, autographs, and other collectibles." I am betting among the collectibles are a significant collection of "Beanie Babies."
Like most Ohioans, I am wondering where Administrator Conrad was when his good buddy Mr. Noe was making all of these "highly profitable" $54.7 million investments on behalf of the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. Perhaps he was vacationing with Mr. Hicks at Mr. Noe's palatial $1.3 million compound in Florida, soaking up the sun while Mr. Noe invested in "Beanie Babies." It's a little like Nero at the fiddle while Rome burned.
The situation is so bad that five of the Ohio Supreme Court Justices had to step aside so several lawsuits could be heard before the Supreme Court regarding this scandal. The justices, who stepped aside, were the beneficiaries of the Noes' largesse to the tune of $23,500 in campaign contributions.
It's easy for Mr. Noe and his wife to be great contributors to Republicans and for them to enjoy a life of the "rich and famous" when he is making millions from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, not to mention their job opportunities with the Voinovich/Taft administrations over the years. You just can't script a situation like Bob Taft and company have visited upon the Ohio taxpayers.
James Patrick Leahy
On behalf of myself and all the taxpayers of Ohio, on behalf of all those who have had legitimate worker compensation claims denied, for whatever reasons, on behalf of all those who witnessed the arrogance of BWC's James Conrad and the ineptitude of Gov. Bob Taft, I would like to say thank you, Toledo Blade, for exposing the blatant insider corruption of "Coingate." Your persistence made a difference when even few in the state government wanted to hear, let alone deal, with the problem. Another testimony to the Jeffersonian ideals of a free and independent press.
Indian Knoll Drive
If it looks like a duck, it must be a duck! Here's the best one I've come across on this Noe scandal. The oversight board that includes one of the state's most influential Democrats, AFL-CIO President William Burga.
In an interview, Mr. Burga said he "had no recollection of approving the Noe contract, but that all investments are cleared based on the advice of the bureau's investment team." The panel signed off on the bureau investment staff's recommendation to give Mr. Noe the business.
"I don't have any investment expertise, and neither do most of the others on the commission," he said. How in the heck did that get by that panel with so much money involved?
Five on the panel and all say that they didn't know anything about this. They should all resign. The Democrats are all jumping on this. This smells like the Crofters scandal of the 1970s, where loans were made from state funds and quite a few went belly up.
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