Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel ran such a shoddy, dishonest campaign that even the GOP-loving Columbus Dispatch endorsed his Democratic rival, Sen. Sherrod Brown. You know the drill: Mandel lied over and over, got caught and kept on lying.
Journalists are now debating whether he so badly damaged himself that he really won’t be America’s first Jewish president – as he and his frat brothers/political appointees are fond of predicting. Chutzpuh indeed.
While it is a bit early to know what fate will bring Ohio’s pants-on-fire king, it is not too late to survey the damage Mandel has already done to Ohio.
We’ve all heard the hullaballoo over Ohio’s “brain drain”? Lots of past and present state leaders have noodled over what we can do to keep our best and brightest within the state’s borders. But Mandel’s shoddy and dishonest campaign for state treasurer sent one of Ohio’s finest minds and public servants to Illinois. That mind belongs to Amer Ahmad.
Amer is the Muslim hired by Democratic Treasurer Rich Cordray and retained by his successor, Kevin Boyce. Mandel defeated Boyce with the help of a widely denounced TV ad that engaged in hard-core Muslim bashing. While the ad was airing, Amer’s family was harassed by Muslim haters.
Today, Amer is the Comptroller for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Crain’s, the city’s leading business publication. honored him as one of the Top Forty Under 40 leaders. Here are some highlights:
Six years ago, when Amer Ahmad’s first child arrived 15 weeks premature, at just 1 pound, 15 ounces, Dad decided he’d “had enough of investment banking,” at least for a while. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is glad he did, because the city’s combination comptroller and revenue director is getting rave reviews for his work to dig Chicago out of a deep fiscal hole.
“There’s been some extraordinary results,” says city CFO Lois Scott, noting Mr. Ahmad’s perhaps not universally appreciated efforts to get tax and fine delinquents to pay up, or the more than $100 million she says he saved by tightening up the city’s health insurance coverage. “I give major credit to Amer.”
The Crain’s report followed a major piece in the Chicago Sun Times that explained how Ahmad found a way to bring Chicago out of debt and hire more cops without raising taxes. Here are some highlights:
Earlier this year, the City Council gave the State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office the go-ahead to put a brick on the state income tax refunds of more than 100,000 Illinois residents and businesses with overdue Chicago parking tickets, red-light camera citations and judgments rendered by city hearing officers dating back to 2005.
Now, Ahmad is disclosing that the siphoning of income tax refunds will generate $11 million by year’s end. Half of those 66,000 people live outside the city.
“For those people who have been skirting the law and owe debt to the city, it’s not harsh to try to collect” by deducting it from their income tax refunds, he said.
“[In the past], we would call them. We would send them letters. But, somebody who doesn’t live in the city typically ignores our requests. [Now], they can’t ignore it because we took the money out of their tax refund.”
The city’s 20 tax enforcement group auditors also “hit it out of the park,” as the comptroller put it, by using additional training, new software and “analytics tools” to bring in $68.5 million, up from a projected $30 million. Another $10 million was generated by putting “holds” on the business, chauffeur, livery and taxi licenses held by deadbeats
Compare Amer’s actions to the most recent ones of Mandel.
After getting hammered for filling serveral top jobs with unqualified, over-paid cronies, Mandel has rehired his campaign political director Joe Aquilino into the treasurer’s office and put his campaign video tracker into a state job that pays $62,500-a-year, says the Dayton Daily News.
Aquilino, who has been an attorney for two years, is now the new deputy legal counsel and director of regional representatives — a job that pays $90,000 a year. The treasury’s new deputy director of regional representatives is Jared Borg, who served as Mandel’s Senate campaign political coordinator and collected video of Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown’s public appearances.
Brown won a second six-year term by defeating Mandel by 5 percentage points.
Although it is common for officeholders to hire people they know and trust, Mandel’s hires stood out because he took a strong stance against the previous treasurer, Kevin Boyce, for appointing politically connected people into key jobs. During the 2010 state treasurer’s campaign, Mandel said: “Unlike the current officeholder, I will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans.”
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