WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by German Lopez 01.22.2013
Posted In: Education, Energy, Environment, Economy, News, Budget at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
debe terhar

Morning News and Stuff

Terhar compares Obama to Hitler, Cincinnati unemployment drops, Portman's deficit plan

Ohio State Board of Education President Debe Terhar posted an image of Adolf Hitler on Facebook that said, “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.’ — Adolf Hitler.” But the Cincinnati Republican, who was referencing President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals, now insists she was not comparing Obama to Hitler. It’s pretty obvious she was, though. Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in December, down from 6.9 percent in November. The drop is largely attributed to a decrease in the civilian labor force, which could imply less people are looking for work or seasonal changes are having an impact. Whatever the case, the amount of people who are employed and unemployed both dropped. Hamilton County’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent in December, down from 6.4 percent in November, but that drop was also attributed to a declining labor force or seasonal factors. Greater Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was unchanged from 6.4 percent, despite 2,600 less people working. In comparison, Ohio’s seasonally unadjusted rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from 6.5 percent in November, and the U.S. rate was 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, suggested the Dollar-for-Dollar Deficit Reduction Act. The plan requires debt ceiling increases to be matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. Increasing the debt ceiling is essentially Congress agreeing to pay its bills. During the budget process and while passing other legislation, Congress agrees to a certain amount of spending. Increasing the debt ceiling just makes it possible for the president to pay those bills, even if it means surpassing a set debt level. If the debt ceiling isn't raised by May 18, the United States will default on its debts, plunging the country into depression. But the threat of destroying the U.S. economy has not stopped Republicans from using the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool to get the spending cuts they so badly want. Public employees are avoiding changes to Ohio’s public pension system by retiring before the changes kick in. The changes make it so any teacher who retires before July 1 will get a 2 percent cost of living increase to their pensions in 2015. Anyone who retires after July 1 will not get the increase until 2018. After that, retirees will get a pension increase every five years. Experts are also expecting a rush of retirees in 2015, when age and years-of-service requirements for full benefits are set to gradually rise. A new report found Ohio’s graduation rate is still improving. The U.S. Department of Education report found the state’s graduation rate was 81.4 percent in the 2009-10 school year, higher than the nation’s rate of 78.2 percent, and an increase from 78.7 percent rate in the 2006-2007 school year. A study found a link between hourly workers at Hamilton County’s Fernald Feed Materials Production Center and intestinal cancer.  As Ohio cuts back its solar program, Canada is shutting down the rest of its coal-fired power plants by the end of 2013. The Cincinnati Reds may get to host the 2015 All-Stars Game. Scientists are rushing to build robots that save lives in disaster zones. Will John Connor please stand up?
 
 
by German Lopez 11.27.2012
Posted In: Budget, Republicans, Democrats, News, State Legislature at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
ohio statehouse

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Republican supermajority hangs on 14 votes, city unveils budget, county passes budget

In the Ohio House of Representatives, the difference between a Republican supermajority and a normal majority is now 14 votes. That’s how many votes are splitting Republican Rep. Al Landis and Democratic challenger Josh O'Farrell. The small difference has already triggered an automatic recount and likely a series of lawsuits from Democrats over counting provisional ballots. The supermajority would allow Ohio House Republicans to pass legislation without worry of a governor’s veto and place any measure on the ballot — including personhood initiatives — without bipartisan approval. City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. unveiled his 2013 budget proposal at a press conference yesterday. The proposal will pursue privatizing the city’s parking services to help close a $34 million deficit. The privatization plan has already faced some early criticism from Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld. The budget will also make minor cuts elsewhere. In addition to the 2013 budget, the Tentative Tax Budget proposal, which Dohoney passed to City Council and the mayor yesterday, also raises property tax rates. Meanwhile, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners approved the 2013 budget in a 2-1 vote. Democrat Todd Portune was outvoted by Republicans Chris Monzel and Board President Greg Hartmann. The final budget was basically Hartmann’s “austerity” proposal, barring some minor tweaks. The cuts could cost 150 or more Hamilton County jobs. Councilman Chris Smitherman is facing a challenge for his spot as president of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP. The councilman’s opponent is Bob Richardson, a former officer of Laborers Local 265 and former president of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council. Richardson’s son told WVXU, “I think we have seen the NAACP veer off its core principles and turn into a tool for Smitherman and his conservative ideas.” In a promising sign for the local economy, Greater Cincinnati banks are taking in more money from deposits. The 21c Museum Hotel opened yesterday. But the hotel has critics, including Josh Spring from the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Drawing a comparison to the situation between Western & Southern and the Anna Louise Inn, Spring said the hotel ended up displacing far too many people. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is taking up research into how autism develops. A new report found expanding Medicaid in Ohio could cost the state $3.1 billion. The money would be enough to insure 457,000 uninsured Ohioans. Previous studies found states that expanded Medicaid faced less health problems. One concern with the state's “fracking” boom: water supply. Some are worried that the amount of water needed to fuel hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique for oil and gas, will drain Ohio’s wells and reservoirs. After some sentencing reform, Ohio’s inmate population is not decreasing as fast as some state officials would like. As the state deals with prison overpopulation and more expensive prisons, Gov. John Kasich’s administration has turned to privatization. CityBeat looked at issues surrounding private prisons and the connections between the state government and private prison companies here. Ohio women are having fewer abortions in the state. The drop seems largely attributable to increased access to birth control. Better access to health care and improved health education are also factors.Ever forget to take some medication? No longer. There is now a pill that can inform others when it's taken.
 
 

Planned Parenthood Defunding Bill Moves Forward

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
One week after the major Democratic victories of Election Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators Nov. 14 pushed HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood, through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor.   
by German Lopez 11.14.2012
 
 
planned-parenthood-logo

Planned Parenthood Defunding Bill Moves Forward

Committee hearing filled with protesters, chants

One week after the major Democratic victories of Election Day, Ohio’s Republican legislators are pushing HB 298, a bill that will keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood. In a Health and Aging Committee hearing at today, Ohio Republicans voted to push the bill through committee and into the Ohio House of Representatives floor. If the bill passes the Republican-controlled General Assembly and is signed by Gov. John Kasich, it will block $2 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood and prioritize other family services. In the past few years, Planned Parenthood has become a popular target for Republicans because the organization provides abortion services. But that’s not all Planned Parenthood offers; a chart released by the organization in February demonstrated abortions only make up 3 percent of its services. Another criticism leveled by Planned Parenthood supporters is the federal funding is legally barred from being used for abortions. Instead, the funding would go to other health services within Planned Parenthood, which provides general women’s health services to poor and rural women. Some Democratic lawmakers say the bill shows an out-of-touch Republican Party. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans are so intent on taking away from women the right to make their own choices about their bodies,” said Ohio Sen. Nina Turner in a statement. “Voters soundly rejected the foolishness of the radical right on Election Day in favor of the dignity of American women, but some lawmakers must not have heard.” She added, “While Republicans rail against women making their own choices, they are cutting funding for education and critical social services that children need after they are born. They want small government, all right — small enough to fit into a woman’s womb.” The strong words showcase what was a loud, feisty exchange between Planned Parenthood supporters and Republican lawmakers. At the committee hearings, supporters and opponents of HB 298 testified. Some opponents cited their personal experience, including an emotional account from one woman regarding her own rape at age 13. She said she was glad young women like her can turn to Planned Parenthood for help. Ohio Rep. John Carney, a Columbus Democrat, pointed out that throughout the hearings, no health care provider testified in favor of HB 298. One doctor testified against the bill. Carney also pointed out that no tax dollars that go to Planned Parenthood pay for abortions.  The bill isn’t the only action Republicans have recently taken against women’s health rights. Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus told The Cincinnati Enquirer about the possibility of a renewed heartbeat bill on Nov. 8. In October, Kasich appointed two anti-abortion advocates to government positions. In this week’s news commentary (“Ohio Republicans Continue Anti-Abortion Agenda,” issue of Nov. 14), CityBeat covered the ensuing Republican campaign against abortion rights.
 
 

Jon Husted: Secretary of Suppression

1 Comment · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
By the time this article is published, the month of early voting and Election Day will have come to a close, and voters will have made their choices. But when it’s all said and done, voters will be making those choices not thanks to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, but despite him.   
by German Lopez 10.18.2012
Posted In: News, Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, Voting at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
 
 
timburke

Senate Democrats Demand Investigation Into Voter Fraud Group

Claim True the Vote is unnecessarily intimidating voters

Ohio Senate Democrats sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking them to investigate True the Vote (TTV), a Tea Party group established to combat alleged voter fraud. The Democrats claim TTV is unnecessarily intimidating voters. In the letter, the Democrats say they would find voter fraud to be a serious problem if it was happening, but they also note recent studies have found no evidence of widespread voter impersonation fraud. An Oct. 4 Government Accountability Office study could not document a single case of voter impersonation fraud. A similar study by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found a total of 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. That’s less than one case a year.Tim Burke, chairman of both the Hamilton County Board of Elections and the Hamilton County Democratic Party, says the faulty voter registration forms, which groups like TTV typically cite as examples of in-person voter fraud, never amount to real voter fraud. “Those nonexistent voters never show up to vote,” he says. “(The forms) were put together by people working on voter registration drives. Frankly, the intent wasn’t to defraud the board of elections; the intent was to defraud their employer into making them think they’re doing more work.”In other words, people aren't submitting faulty voter registration forms to skew elections; registration drive employees are submitting the forms to try to keep their jobs. To combat the seemingly nonexistent problem of voter impersonation fraud, TTV is planning on recruiting one million poll watchers — people that will stand by polling places to ensure the voting process is legitimate. The Democrats insist some of the tactics promoted by the group are illegal. The letter claims it’s illegal for anyone but election officials to inhibit the voting process in any way. Most notably, Ohio law prohibits “loiter[ing] in or about a registration or polling place during registration or the casting and counting of ballots so as to hinder, delay, or interfere with the conduct of the registration or election,” according to the letter. Burke says state law allows both Democrats and Republicans to hire observers at polling booths. However, the observers can only watch, and they can’t challenge voters. Even if the appointed observers see suspicious activity, they have to leave the voting area and report the activity through other means. The tactics adopted by TTV have an ugly history in the U.S. Utilizing poll watchers was one way Southern officials pushed away minority voters during the segregation era. By asking questions and being as obstructive as possible, the poll watchers of the segregation era intimidated black voters into not voting. In the post-segregation era, the tactics have continued targeting minority and low-income voters. The Senate Democrats make note of the ugly history in their letter: “It has traditionally focused on the voter registration lists in minority and low-income precincts, utilizing ‘caging’ techniques to question registrations. It has included encouraging poll watchers to ‘raise a challenge’ when certain voters tried to vote by brandishing cameras at polling sites, asking humiliating questions of voters, and slowing down precinct lines with unnecessary challenges and intimidating tactics. These acts of intimidation undermine protection of the right to vote of all citizens.” TTV has already faced some failures in Hamilton County. Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the Ohio Voter Integrity Project (VIP), another Tea Party group, to file 380 challenges to the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Of the 380 challenges, only 35 remain. The vast majority were thrown out. “For the most part, they tried to get a bunch of UC students challenged because they didn’t have their dormitory rooms on their voter registration rolls,” Burke says. “All of those were rejected. We did nothing with those.” But he said the group did bring up one legitimate challenge. Some voters were still registered in a now-defunct trailer park in Harrison, Ohio. Since the trailer park no longer exists, Burke says no one should be voting from there. The board didn’t purge those voters from the roll, but the board unanimously agreed to ensure those voters are challenged and sent to the correct polling place if they show up to vote. Still, TTV insists on hunting down all the phantom impersonators and fraudulent voters. In partnership with VIP, TTV is continuing its mission to stop all the voter impersonation that isn't actually happening. VIP is brandishing the effort with a program of its own. That organization is now hosting special training programs for poll workers. The organization insists its programs are nonpartisan, but Democrats aren’t buying it. Burke says it’s normal for Democrats and Republicans to hire poll workers, but if the Voter Integrity Project program puts the organization’s anti-fraud politics into the training, it could go too far. “The job of the poll worker is to assist voters in getting their ballots cast correctly,” Burke says. “It’s to be helpful. It’s not to be belligerent. It’s not to be making voters feel like they’re doing something evil.” He added, “If poll workers are coming in and deciding that they’re going to be aggressive police officers making everybody feel like they’re engaged in voter fraud and therefore trying to intimidate voters, that’s absolutely wrong.”
 
 
by German Lopez 10.05.2012
Posted In: News, Economy, 2012 Election, Redistricting at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
us bls

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September — the lowest jobless rate in nearly four years. The country added 114,000 jobs during the month, and labor participation actually rose with 418,000 people joining the labor force. Jobs numbers for July and August were also revised upward, indicating that the summer’s economy was not as weak as previously estimated. Unlike previous reports that were mired with dropping labor participation rates and job additions below expectations, this report paints a generally rosy picture of a recovering economy.A new report found Ohio-based Murray Energy might be coercing employees into making campaign contributions to Republicans. It seems Bob Murray, Murray Energy’s CEO, directly encourages employees to make donations through memos and strong language. As a result, the company has an unusually high amount of donations to Republican candidates, including senatorial candidate Josh Mandel, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner. The company’s PAC and staffers are the sixth biggest source of funding for Mandel.By their own admission, Republicans misrepresented Issue 2. The good news is they have agreed to stop using some of the misleading language. If Issue 2 is approved by voters, it will give redistricting powers to an independent citizens commission. Currently, elected officials redraw the district boundaries, and they use the system in politically advantageous ways. The Republican majority redrew the First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati to include Warren County, which places less emphasis on urban voters that typically vote Democrat and more emphasis on rural voters that typically vote Republican. CityBeat previously covered redistricting and Voters First’s reform here. The state auditor gave a mixed review to Ohio’s schools and education department yesterday. In an interim report, the auditor criticized a handful of school districts for scrubbing attendance reports and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) for having poor oversight. ODE promised “additional safeguards” in response to the report.Gov. John Kasich is continuing his privatization campaign. The governor is finally close to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, and he says that could raise more than $1 billion. It turns out Kasich’s number about Ohio’s auto industry losing 500 jobs might be correct, but only because of the time frame and terms Kasich used. In general, the auto industry in Ohio has improved since 2009. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is leading the charge, but it’s only the beginning. A few movies are taking advantage of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, which is meant to bring film production to Ohio. Seven films will be filmed in Ohio: Underdogs, Crooked Tree, Blood of Redemption, The Tribunal, A Dog Named Suki, In Other Words and The Do Over. Since the tax credit began, the Ohio Film Office has helped employ more than 19,000 Ohioans and added nearly $205 million to Ohio’s economy. Some in the aerospace business want southwest Ohio to take bigger advantage of the area’s strong aerospace industry and make it stronger. A survey found Ohio is among the 25 best states for entrepreneurs. The state moved up 18 spots — from No. 40 to No. 22 — in the past year. Update on Ohio Supreme Court candidate William O’Neill’s demands for Justice Robert Cupp to “recuse or refuse” due to campaign donations: Mark Weaver, Cupp’s spokesperson, responded, saying, “Mr. O'Neill previously raised this argument with disciplinary authorities by filing a complaint. It was reviewed by disciplinary authorities, and they unanimously dismissed it as having no merit.”An Eden Park microbrewery got approval from City Council. A study found students enrolled in parents’ health care plans are 5.7 percent more likely to attend college full time. The finding is good news for Obamacare, which forces insurance companies to allow sons and daughters to stay on family insurance plans until they turn 26.Robot sea turtles might soon carry cargo in their shells.
 
 

Shades of Blue

DNC executive director discusses Ohio’s importance in 2012 and beyond

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, sat down with CityBeat for an exclusive interview during which he previewed his remarks to Ohio steelworkers and talked about Hamilton County’s importance to the presidential race.   
by Andy Brownfield 10.02.2012
 
 
Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Visits Cincinnati on First Early Voting Day

First lady urges Ohioans to vote early; Romney campaign launches Ohio early voting bus tour

While the presidential candidates prepared for Wednesday’s debate, Michelle Obama urged Cincinnatians on Tuesday to take advantage of the first day of early voting, before leading a group to the board of elections to cast their ballots. “I’ve got news for you: Here in Ohio it’s already Election Day. Early voting starts today,” Obama told a crowd of 6,800 inside the Duke Energy Convention Center. She urged everyone to reach out and encourage their friends to vote after they had cast their own ballots. “Twitter them. Tweet them. What do you do? It’s tweeting, right? Tweet them,” she joked to the crowd. Earlier in the morning, the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney kicked off its “Commit to Mitt Early Vote Express” statewide bus tour in downtown Cincinnati.  The tour started in Hamilton County before moving through Butler County and is scheduled to end the day in Preble County. The bus is scheduled to make its way through every region of Ohio during the early voting period and will serve as a mobile campaign headquarters, dispensing voter contact materials and featuring Romney campaign surrogates, according to a news release. At the convention center, Michelle Obama avoided some of the direct attacks employed by her husband or the Romney campaign, but used her 30-minute speech to counter some of the criticisms from the GOP nominee, recapping some of her convention speech. “Our families weren’t asking for much,” Michelle said of her own and Barack’s families. “They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success, you know, they didn’t mind if others had much more than they did, in fact they admired it. That’s why they pushed us to succeed.” Her comment seemed to come in response to an attack that the Romney campaign levied against Barack Obama after his infamous “you didn’t build that” comment, where the GOP candidate argues that Obama and Democrats are fostering enmity among the middle class by stoking jealousy of rich, successful Americans like Mitt Romney. “Our families believed also that when you work hard and have done well and finally walk through that doorway of opportunity, you don’t slam it shut behind you,” Michelle Obama continued.  “No, you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed. You see, that’s how Barack and I and so many of you were raised. … We learned that the truth matters – you don’t take shortcuts, you don’t game the system, you don’t play by your own set of rules.” She went on to say that Americans are part of something bigger than themselves and obligated to give back to others, counter to the Republicans’ narrative of the individual pulled up by his or her own bootstraps. Danielle Henderson, 40, a teacher’s assistant from Cincinnati, said she was a fan of the first lady’s and joked that she wanted to know if Michelle was running for president in 2016. “Behind every good man is a good woman,” Henderson said. “Honestly, a woman is a backbone of the family.” She said she thought the first family was a good model for the rest of the country. Henderson’s mother-in-law Barbara joked that she was excited to see what the first lady was going to wear. “I see trends she sets trickle down to other politicians’ wives,” she joked.
 
 
by German Lopez 09.19.2012
Posted In: News, Redistricting, Reagan, Government, Republicans at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
yesonissue2

Voters First Sues Over Republican Claims

GOP mailer allegedly misrepresents redistricting amendment

Voters First Ohio is not letting Republicans get away with any dishonesty on Issue 2. In a complaint filed to the Ohio Elections Commission yesterday, the pro-redistricting reform group claimed a recent mailer from Republicans contained three incorrect statements. “In an effort to affect the outcome of the election and defeat State Issue 2, Republicans have knowingly, or with reckless disregard of the truth, made false statements in printed campaign material disseminated to registered voters,” the complaint said. If approved by voters in November, Issue 2 will place the responsibility of redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens commission. Currently, politicians handle the process, which they use to redraw district boundaries in politically advantageous ways in a process known as “gerrymandering.” Ohio’s First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, was redrawn by the Republican-controlled process to include Warren County, which contains more rural voters that tend to vote Republican, and less of Cincinnati, which contains more urban voters that tend to vote Democrat. The Voters First complaint outlines three allegedly false statements made by the Republican mailer. The first claim is “Some of the members will be chosen in secret.” As the complaint points out, this is false. The redistricting amendment on the November ballot will require nine of twelve members to be chosen in public, and then those nine members will pick the three final members. All of this has to be done in the public eye, according to the amendment: “All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public.” The second disputed claim is that the amendment will provide a “blank check to spend our money” for the commission. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against that claim on Sept. 12 when it ruled against Secretary of State Jon Husted’s proposed ballot language for Issue 2: “The actual text of the proposed amendment does not state that the redistricting amendment would have — as the ballot board’s language indicates — a blank check for all funds as determined by the commission.” The mailer also claims that, in the redistricting amendment, “There’s no process for removing these bureaucrats, even if they commit a felony.” But the amendment says commissioners must be electors, and when an elector is convicted of a felony, that status is lost. The complaint says commissioners can also be removed “by a judge under a petition process that applies to public officials generally for exercising power not authorized by law, refusing or neglecting to perform a duty imposed by law, gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, nonfeasance, or malfeasance.” The Ohio Elections Commission will take up the complaint Thursday morning. The full complaint can be read here. Matthew Henderson, spokesperson for the Ohio Republican Party, called the complaint a "distraction”: “It’s a cheap shot. It’s up to the Ohio Elections Commission, and they’ll likely throw it out. It’s essentially a distraction from the real issues. The bottom line is that Issue 2 is going to create a panel of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, and they’ll have influence over our elections.” He added, “Ohio voters will be able to decide for themselves this fall whether they want to pay for these commissioners or not.” When pressed about whether or not the Ohio Republican Party is sticking to the claims found in the mailer, he said that’s up to the Ohio Elections Commission to decide. It is true the independent citizens commission created by Voters First is unelected, but that’s the entire point. The current problem with the system, as argued by Voters First, is elected officials are too vested in reelection to place the district boundary needs of the public above electoral needs. That’s why districts like Ohio’s First Congressional District are redrawn in a way that includes Cincinnati and Warren County — two regions that are vastly different. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting issue when Husted’s ballot language lost in court and when We Are Ohio threw its support behind Voters First.While current Republicans oppose redistricting reform in Ohio, some Republicans of the past advocated for it. Ronald Reagan was one such advocate:
 
 

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