by Andy Brownfield
Suit claims governor is intentionally ignoring public records requests
The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against Gov.
John Kasich — who they claim is improperly using his office to campaign
for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — to get the
governor to release his schedule of public events.
The ODP’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Franklin County
Court of Common Pleas, contends that Kasich’s office either ignored or
only partially fulfilled the request.
“It’s unfortunate that this Governor is so opposed to
transparency and public disclosure that we have to ask the Court to
force him to follow the law,” ODP Chairman Chris Redfern said in a
“Serious questions remain regarding whether the Governor
has improperly used his office for the benefit of Mitt Romney, and it’s
deeply disappointing Kasich is so secretive he won’t even tell the
public what he’s done or where he’s gone.”
Kasich press secretary Rob Nichols said the administration
doesn’t comment on litigation, but dismissed the Ohio Democratic
“We release public records in accordance with the law, and
in fact have already publicly released the governor’s schedule six
times, including a schedule request to the ODP,” Nichols said.
“This is predictable election year politics from the same
people who were just rebuked for using public records demands to
interfere with the Auditor of State’s investigation into possible data
manipulation in some school districts.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jerid Kurtz said Kasich’s
office did respond to one of the seven requests for the schedule, but
some of the information in the records was redacted — including an
entire week that was blacked out with no explanation.
“Ohio law is very clear, and it states you have to give a specific excuse when you redact something,” Kurtz said.
According to the lawsuit and court documents, the ODP
requested on July 2 Kasich’s public schedule from that date through Aug.
According to a letter to the Ohio Democratic Party from
Mehek M. Cook — assistant chief counsel to Kasich — the information
about the governor's future plans was blacked out because that information
could put him at risk.
“The governor and his office receive threats on any given
day and the release of his whereabouts increases security issues
surrounding the governor’s safety,” Cook wrote.
Cook wrote that any information in the records used by the
Executive Protection Unit assigned to guard Kasich constitutes a
security record and was redacted.
He also wrote that some information that would reveal
confidential business meetings and trade secrets that would harm Ohio
efforts to court businesses was blacked out. Additionally, information
not relevant to the request was redacted.
Kurtz said it’s important that the public have access
those schedules because voters have a right to know what their governor
is doing on the public dime.
The schedules include where the governor is and with whom
he meets, but they also show scheduled phone calls and media interviews.
The Ohio Democratic Party worries that Kasich is
improperly campaigning for Romney while receiving a taxpayer-funded
paycheck, or using public money to have his staff do so.
The concerns stem from statements made by Kasich both in
public and on his Twitter account either praising the presumed
Republican presidential nominee or slamming President Obama.
For instance, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported that when Obama visited Ohio on Aug. 1 the governor tweeted “On
the occasion of the President's latest visit to Ohio, we have a
question for him,” with a link to a graphic asking “If the President's
policies are behind Ohio's success, why is the rest of the country
Democrats claim that Ohio’s success relative to the rest
of the country are due to efforts by President Obama, while Republicans
say Governor Kasich is behind Ohio’s faster-than-average recovery.
While the Ohio Democratic Party is suing to have Kasich
release his public schedule (Kurtz says Attorney General Mike DeWine and
Auditor Dave Yost complied with similar requests in a timely manner)
the state Republican Party has also submitted similar requests to
Democrats throughout Ohio.
Kurtz characterized the GOP requests as being sent by
Kasich’s “hand-picked lieutenants in the Ohio Republican Party,” though
Nichols told The Plain Dealer that the governor had no involvement.
Ohio GOP executive director Matt Borges told the newspaper that the requests were routine.
Still, Kurtz called Kasich’s refusal to release his own schedule “hypocritical.”
“He’s a bully and the only way you can deal with a bully is fighting back.”
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Despite a study that shows Medicaid expansion in the three states improved coverage, access to care
and self-reported health, Gov. John Kasich
has said he will wait on his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Oil
at 11:10 AM | Permalink
Agency authorized 36 permits in June, up from 20 in May
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is not being slowed down by critics of hydraulic fracturing. ODNR in June authorized 36 new permits for horizontal drilling wells used for the process also known as fracking, a record for ODNR, according to Friday's Hannah Report.Carroll County was at the top of obtaining new permits with 11 total. Columbiana County followed with seven new permits, and Harrison County was third with nine. Chesapeake Energy Corporation obtained most of those permits, a total of 22.CityBeat spoke with Carroll County Commissioner Jeffrey Ohler, a Republican, in June about the impact of fracking on his county. Ohler was generally skeptical of how many domestic jobs fracking had created in the county, and he said he was cautious about the long-term economic impact the influx of fracking activity could have in the area.Critics claim fracking is too dangerous and its risks are too unclear. In a June 17 rally, environmentalist group Don’t Frack Ohio took over the Columbus statehouse asking state officials to put a stop to fracking. More than 1,000 attended the rally, according to the organization.But some state officials, including Gov. John Kasich, say the process can be safe with regulations in place. In June, Kasich signed into law S.B. 315, which added new rules and regulations to the fracking process. Following that, Kasich signed an executive order on July 12 that strengthened state regulators with the ability to stop and impose new requirements on wastewater injection wells deemed risky or dangerous.The wastewater injection wells were the most likely cause of recent earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio around New Year’s Eve. In response, Kasich placed a moratorium on deep wastewater injection wells in the area.Fracking is a process in which millions of gallons of water are pumped underground to release oil and gas from rock formations. The water is then recycled and deposited in underground facilities known as wastewater injection wells.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 25, 2012
In a joint statement July 18, the Ohio
School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School
Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials
explained that a record $771 million in lottery
profits doesn’t mean more school funding.
by German Lopez
Education and local government aid programs cut by $241 million in Hamilton County
A new website called Cuts Hurt Ohio shows the impact of the state
government slashing budgets. It gives a glimpse into how each county
has been affected by cuts in education and local government aid
For Hamilton County, the website shows cuts of $241 million in
the 2012-2013 budget. Education funds in Hamilton County were cut by a
total of $136 million, while other funds have been slashed by $105
million. The website also reports budget-related news headlines for
Hamilton County: “Cincinnati superintendent salary to be cut in half,”
“Townships may not have any police presence when they lose sheriff
patrols” and “Report: Children services in Cincinnati stretched.”
For all of Ohio, cuts total $2.88 billion. Education programs
were cut by $1.8 billion statewide, and aid provided to local
governments was reduced by $1.08 billion.
Innovation Ohio and Policy Matters Ohio opened created the website to
raise awareness and show the differences between former Gov. Ted
Strickland’s 2010-2011 budget and Gov. John Kasich’s 2012-2013 budget.
The numbers are based on data provided by the Ohio Department of
Taxation and Ohio Department of Education.
Since some cuts are due to the loss of federal stimulus funds, not all
the cuts are directly linked to the state government slashing its
budget. But the 2012-2013 budget will pull funding to the Ohio
Department of Education down to $9.8 billion in the 2013 fiscal year,
which is lower than the amount of funding education received before Ohio
obtained federal stimulus dollars.
To check out the website, go to www.cutshurtohio.com.
by German Lopez
Posted In: Governor
at 12:45 PM | Permalink
State funding will continue to be reduced despite $771 million in lottery profits
Ohio schools expecting more funding from record lottery profits may want to hold off.
Last week, it was reported that the Ohio Department of Education had hit
the jackpot with a record $771 million in lottery profits. By state
law, lottery profits are supposed to go to the Lottery Profits Education
Fund, which funds schools in Ohio. At first, it seemed like a great
opportunity to increase education funding.
Maybe not. In a joint statement this morning, the Ohio School Boards
Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the
Ohio Association of School Business Officials explained the money does
not mean more money for schools.
“While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to
fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free
up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools,
allowing more money to be transferred into the state’s rainy day fund,”
OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis said in the statement.
Despite the lottery profits, funding for Ohio’s school foundation
payment program remains at $7.2 billion — exactly as established by Gov.
John Kasich’s 2011 budget plan.
In other words, no gain for schools, but some gain for the state’s rainy day fund.
The news comes as a bit of a buzz-kill to schools that are already
feeling cuts from the two-year state budget plan passed by the
Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Kasich.
For the 2012 fiscal year, Kasich’s budget cut funding to the Department
of Education down to $10.3 billion, a 4.9 percent reduction from the
year before, largely due to the loss of federal stimulus dollars. But
another 4.9 percent cut is planned for the 2013 fiscal year, lowering
funding to $9.8 billion, which is even lower than the amount of funding
the Department of Education received in 2008 and 2009 — before the state
received federal stimulus dollars.
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The volatile Asian silver carp, an invasive fish species
notorious for its ability to “leap” out of water and injure boaters, has
been discovered at the mouth of the Great Miami River, its first-ever
spotting in the Cincinnati region. CINCINNATI -2
by German Lopez
at 01:48 PM | Permalink
New assessments could result in worse ratings
Ohio received a No Child Left
Behind waiver yesterday, and the state is now expected to evaluate its schools
with a more stringent assessment plan suggested by Gov. John Kasich.The state released district-by-district
data showing how each school district would fall under the new system, which
uses letter grades to evaluate schools. The simulation, which uses 2010-2011
data, shows most local schools would dropCincinnati Public Schools would
drop from the second-best rating of “Effective” under the current system to a
D-, with 23 schools flunking and Walnut Hills High School retaining its top
mark with an A.Charter schools in particular are
worried about surviving under the new grading system. Under Ohio law, if a
charter school flunks two out of three consecutive years, the school has to
close down.Some local charter schools are
especially desperate to improve performance. Earlier this year, Dohn Community High School began a program that would literally pay students for showing up to class and working hard.The waiver from No Child Left
Behind frees Ohio from a requirement to make 100 percent of students
“proficient” in math and reading by 2014. Many parents, teachers and schools
had criticized the No Child Left Behind requirement for being unrealistic.With freedom from No Child Left
Behind, Ohio now has the responsibility of paving its own path toward school
and student accountability. The new grading system was singled out as a big
caveat by the Obama administration. Ohio is also expected to put extra funds in
low-performing schools and create new accountability measures for teachers and
principals.Ohio is expected to work out the
full details of its plan by Sept. 15. If it doesn’t, the No Child Left Behind
waiver will expire. The suggestions would then need to be approved by the
legislature before January 2013 and go into effect August 2013.The Obama administration is using
the waivers as an incentive for education reform in states. Ohio was one of
eight states to get waivers yesterday. Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana,
Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island also obtained waivers.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Pit bulls can legally put their paws on
Cincinnati ground for the first time in nine years. After a long,
arduous battle for dog lovers and Cincinnati animal welfare advocates,
Cincinnati City Council on May 16 voted 8-1 to officially repeal the
breed-specific language in Cincinnati’s vicious dog ordinance, which
previously made ownership of pit bulls within city limits illegal.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 23, 2012
In a move that was quickly contested by
Democrats, Republicans on May 15 attempted to add another controversial
policy to John Kasich’s mid-biennium budget review: drug testing for