Response From ProgressOhio Interim Director Sandy Theis

We received the following response to Derek's earlier post speculating about what is going on the ProgressOhio. Although the group has been going through a transition period, Sandy tells us that it is indeed still very active, and that founding executive director Brian Rothenberg left to pursue a new opportunity.

By Sandy Theis
Executive Director
ProgressOhio

I am writing in response to the Jan. 14 blog post by Derek K, “ProgressOhio still exists, I guess.”

Derek’s post shows a remarkable and reckless disregard for reality. He opens by confessing that he has not “directly” confirmed any of the information he is about share but goes on to say that Brian Rothenberg, ProgressOhio’s long-time executive director “quit. Or something” amid financial problems for the organization he founded.

A simple Google search would have turned up news stories showing that Brian left to become senior adviser for communications for the United Auto Workers. He landed a big job and the chance to help one of the globe’s premier labor unions and work in an industry vital to Ohio’s economic success.

Despite difficult times for Ohio progressives, Brian left the organization with a talented staff, sound finances and game plan for continued success, not the mess Derek suggests.
Among the few accurate facts contained in his post is that I am the interim executive director and formerly served as “a state house bureau chief for the Plain Dealer.’’ (Statehouse is one word, my friend.)

Other simple searches would show that despite Brian’s exit, ProgressOhio has continued its mission of success on important issues such as redistricting reform. ProgressOhio partnered with Opportunity Ohio, a leading free-market think tank, to issue a joint statement urging adoption of a bipartisan redistricting reform plan. We were so overwhelmed by the response that we launched a formal coalition that helped win legislative passage of a plan now headed for the November ballot. Congressional redistricting reform is on tap next.

ProgressOhio pushed back on Gov. Kasich’s clearly unqualified director of the Ohio Department of Health. Our ground-breaking, 2014 work on the need for charter school reform will continue. Stay tuned.

As a former journalist, I have some advice for Derek: Whoever peddled this incorrect information is either uninformed or has some sinister motive in peddling lies. Either way, I suggest you refrain from using this unreliable source in the future. It not only hurts your reputation, it also hurts the well-regarded, established bloggers who post on this site.

Ohio Democratic Party Priorities

For the last couple of months, conversations among Ohio Democrats have centered on "What is it we need to do now?" A change in party leadership, with Chris Redfern stepping aside after nearly a decade and our former attorney general candidate David Pepper taking the helm, along with Nina Turner, who ran for secretary of state. Both ran hard, good campaigns and should have won.

Why they didn't is the best case for "what we need to do now." I've heard a lot of conversation critiquing "the message" and saying "We need a better message." "The message" just seems t be a code word for everything that's wrong because few people at the meetings I've been to could really point to what the meant precisely.

Personally, I thought most of our candidates had a great message. Certainly Turner did. If there was a problem with Pepper's campaign, it may have been that he tried to convey too many messages and many of them were small, administrative issues not issues of philosophy of what the attorney general's office should be doing for Ohio citizens. But he did touch on that too.

No, Pepper and Turner pinpointed the problem in this Cincinnati Inquirer op-ed:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/01/08/pepper-e...

Two months ago, with the most important offices in Ohio up for grabs, along with every congressional seat and most of the seats in the Statehouse, more than 60 percent of registered voters chose not to vote at all.

That's right, fewer than 40 percent of Ohioans registered actually voted – the lowest turnout since 1942 (and in 1942, folks had a whole lot on their mind that might excuse not voting that year).

There are a lot of reasons for that. Pepper and Turner think it's because "political conversation in Ohio feels less and less relevant to what Ohioans believe is important to their everyday lives."

ProgressOhio still exists, I guess - ...

I've not been in touch with anyone directly to confirm any of this, but it seems like ProgressOhio had hit some hard times. I believe it lost its original funding some months ago, forcing its former executive director Brian Rothenberg to try to do some grassroots fundraising. That didn't seem to work out and Rothenberg quit. Or something.

Rothenberg's departure brought about new leadership with Sandy Theis, a title-driven conundrum, taking over as executive director. Sandy Theis was a state house bureau chief for the Plain Dealer. One would think she would be pretty good at writing informative articles, researching issues and creating informative communications. But she doesn't seem to be.

I don't believe I'm that great of a writer. Actually, I think I'm a pretty weak writer overall. But Sandy Theis sends out some of the strangest communications I've ever seen. She sent this out a few weeks back regarding HB 234...

"He could make his decision today. That means we've got precious little time to make sure that as many Ohioans voice their opinion on the bill that would expand concealed carry.

Add your name to the dissent! Urge the Governor to VETO HB 234.

HB 234 is on Governor Kasich's desk and he could sign it today. Under Ohio law, he has up to 10 days to sign, veto, or do nothing and allow the bill to become law. The gun lobby is mobilizing their supporters to urge the Governor to sign the bill. Let Governor Kasich know that you are paying attention!

He could make his decision today. That means we've got precious little time to make sure that as many Ohioans voice their opinion on the bill that would expand concealed carry.

Make sure to add your name to the dissent! Urge the Governor to VETO HB 234."

And the ProgessOhio's website is filled with strange bulletpoint-filled "articles" (I guess), that in the end really don't say much of anything.

Frankenmedia Fails Again

I have a question, and I am asking in all sincerity: are there any editors over at the Northeast Ohio Media Group (NEOMG), the digital wing of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which I’ve dubbed Frankenmedia because it’s almost impossible to sort out who is responsible for what?

No, seriously.

The blunders keep piling up. We know about the videotape of the interviews with the candidates for governor that was mysteriously removed from website, followed by a week and a half of stonewalling from “vice president of content” Chris Quinn, who then got all huffy and blamed people for speculating about something he refused to explain.

We all know the outrageous hit job NEOMG did on the parents of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was murdered by Cleveland police November 22, a naked attempt to shift the blame to the boy before the video was released that showed the cops were lying.

Unbelievably, it got worse.

In mid-December, NEOMG published a story containing an inflammatory contention with the potential to rip open the city’s racial wounds and inject more poison into the already toxic community/police relationship. In the midst of all the conflict and debate about police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York and Cleveland, the story contended that a Cleveland-based gang had made a pact to start killing white police officers in retaliation.

Boy, that’s an incendiary claim. I sure hope you have rock-solid proof.

It’s the kind of story that once upon a time, when there was actual journalism being practiced, editors would have had multiple meetings about, agonizing over what was the right thing to do considering its potential to do damage, and how to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts. They would have sent the reporter out again and again to back herself up with even more sources. They would have demanded that it be ironclad.

Public Square Police Rally Left Bad Taste

It did little to improve my attitude about Cleveland to return after the Christmas holiday to learn about the ill-timed and deeply insensitive rally by police officers on Public Square Saturday December 27.

One of my Facebook friends dubbed it a “Blue Klux Klan” rally. While I would not go that far and I don’t believe every one of the participating officers is overtly racist, every one who participated was rallying in support of racism and a racist system. That rally was like dumping a truckload of salt into the city’s racial divide and likely setting back efforts at reform and reconciliation.

The problem the officers aren’t seeing is that support and respect cannot be demanded. They must be earned. And one of the things that’s clear in the recent belligerent pushback by police on public protests is that they want automatic support and respect without earning it through accountability. It’s a one-way street with them. There’s no give-and-take. They expect the citizens they work for to do all the giving.

I’ve heard over and over — and I’m sure you have — from police officers and people who know them that most officers are “good cops.” But are they truly “good” if they openly or tacitly support lack of accountability for those who are not?

To me a “good cop” is one who stands up and says, “We need to hold accountable those among us who act in violation of public trust.” A “good cop” is one who won’t tolerate officers who do their job badly and urges that they be encouraged to leave the profession, not protected. A good cop is one who would be saying, “It appears procedures may have been violated in the shooting of Tamir Rice. We need a thorough investigation before saying anything about what happened.” And a “good cop” would understand that after due process, if an officer is found to have acted wrongly, they should be terminated not defended.

Republican Congress is four days old and .... oh boy.

It’s going to be a bumpy two years.

Congress has been back in session for four days and already we’re seeing special interests and extreme ideology put on the front burner and rushed through without much debate by the same Republicans who whined that the Affordable Care Act was rammed through in a mere — what was it? 14 months?

So the House voted today to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Senate is voting Monday. It will pass and it will be the first bill on President Obama’s desk, as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell promised. Obama has said he will veto it, and there don’t seem to be enough votes to override his veto.

This is the perfect example of a bill that serves only a tiny special interest and is of no value to anyone else — and it showcases the dishonesty of Republicans in Congress.

Approval would clear the way for a Canadian company, TransCanada, to complete a pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the gulf to refine and export. There’s virtually no benefit to anyone in this country. All of the benefits accrue to a foreign company.

The pipeline has the potential for spills and leaks that would not only destroy farmland and rangeland, but also possibly contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water and agricultural irrigation for the entire Midwest and much of the Southwest. Given TransCanada’s record of oil spills, it’s probably a matter of when, not if.

The Republicans and others who support the pipeline (alas, too many Democrats) had several big lies they were using. One has been blasted to smithereens: that it would lower U.S. gas prices. It would have no impact on them because of the nature of where it was being shipped. But the precipitous drop in gas prices has rendered that argument toothless.

Erick Trickey's excellent article on Michael Brelo - ...

Journalism as I remember it - - Erick Trickey has been on a roll as of late producing some very thoughtful in-depth articles. I wish I had more time to highlight them. His latest article is on Michael Brelo. Don't know who Michael Brelo is? The article (link provided below) will explain in complete detail. It starts off...

"The voice squawked from the police radio, terse and staccato, a mix of alarm and calm.

"Old Chevy just popped a round as he passed by the mobile support, Justice Center. Westbound on Superior. Old Chevy."

It was seven hours into Cleveland policeman Michael Brelo's patrol shift on Nov. 29, 2012. At 10:31 p.m., driving north on West 25th Street, he heard the transmission from downtown, switched on his lights and sirens and hit the gas. He and his partner for the night, Cynthia Moore, sped past the West Side Market toward the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

"Two black males. Shots fired," the radio voice reported. "Popped a round right as he drove by us."

Though only age 28, Brelo had spent five years as a Cleveland police officer."

Please consider reading the entire article found here:
http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=E73ABD6180B44874871A...

You can follow Erick Trickey here: https://twitter.com/ericktrickey

Pretty much any thoughtful intelligent person would find his article worth reading. It's also the kind of article all journalist should be writing if they really cared about journalism. It's certainly not worthless click-bait shit about key card swipes that the bots at NEOMG seem to get their jollies writing about.

Plunderbund scoops stories on Ohio Right to Life's protected relationship with Kasich Admin -...

Plunderbund (www.plunderbund.com) has two good articles on the Kasich administration's stonewalling public records requests. The public records requests filed by Ohio NARAL Pro-Choice could reveal preferential treatment by the administration to Ohio Right to Life. In the first article John Michael Spinelli writes...

"The news Tuesday that NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation filed an amended mandamus action in the Ohio Supreme Courtasking that the Court order the Ohio Department of Health to produce public records revealing the extent to which the department has been working with the special-interest group Ohio Right to Life to restrict Ohio women’s access to reproductive health care likely didn’t bring smiles to the second-term governor or his administration."

Link: http://www.plunderbund.com/2015/01/06/pubic-records-linking-kasich-admin...

The second article written by David Dewitt touches on a subject I had written about all of the summer of 2014. And that is the very strange and close relationship the Kasich administration has with the Northeast Ohio Media Group (NEOMG). David Dewitt writes...

"The email exchange reveals that ORTL was able to obtain records from the ODH in real time, publishing them 3 hours later online, culminating in a Plain Dealer story just one day later, on Aug. 1, before the clinics themselves had even received via U.S. postage the ODH letters regarding adjudication of their own administrative hearings."

Link: http://www.plunderbund.com/2015/01/06/ohio-right-to-life-appears-to-get-...

Chris Redfern's final ODP email filled with lies and half-truths - ...

On December 31, 2014 Chris Redfern sent out his last email from the Ohio Democratic Party. It was his farewell message, I guess. It continued his delusion that the Ohio Democratic Party enjoyed great success under his tenure. He starts off with...

"Over the last nine years, I have had the honor of leading one of the great political organizations not just of our state, but our country. The Ohio Democratic Party remains one of the strongest state parties in the nation, respected by our colleagues and feared by political adversaries."

The part "one of the strongest state parties in the nation", I guess this could be one of the explanations Democrats got shellacked nationwide. Also, "feared by political adversaries". Is he kidding? I think it's more like barely acknowledged by adversaries.

He then goes on...

"When I became chairman in December 2005, the ODP had fewer than 10 employees, and we hadn't won a statewide election in years. But with hard work, generous donors, and the best political team anywhere, we won and won again."

Does having tons of staffers really matter? It really doesn't seem to, I mean the party hasn't won anything on its own in years. And the part about "won and won again". Won what? Delusional.

We then get to the lies and half-truths...

"We elected the president twice with 50% of the vote and elected a senator twice. We won four new congressional seats and gained a majority of GOP drawn seats in the State House. That is something that has never been achieved by ODP, ever. At the same time, our friend Governor Strickland was swept to victory in 2006 and Senate Bill 5 was repealed with record turnout. Thank you for helping make history!"

The Ohio Democratic Party elected the President and US Senator twice. Two federal elections - - one with a nationwide presence.

Sure.

Same to you Sheila Bair - ...

Sheila Bair (R), former FDIC Chair New Year's wish...

Thanks, Ms Bair. And Happy New Year to you too.

NBC's Meet the Press features Ken Blackwell as panelist

Good gravy, in the continuing death of any decent political debate in this country NBC's Meet the Press show featured Ken Blackwell as a panelist for their "serious" roundtable discussion.

Ken Blackwell - who as Ohio Secretary of State thought it was a good idea to serve as Co-Chair for George W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004.

Ken Blackwell - who then used his authority as Secretary of State to disenfranchise voters by stating voter registration forms had to be on a specific weight of paper. (80-pound stock). Made it as hard as possible to count provisional ballots. Oversaw a presidential election that had unusually long lines to vote. And in the end made Ohio a laughingstock when it came to elections.

Ken Blackwell - who lost to Ted Strickland by over 20 points in his bid for governor in 2006.

Ken Blackwell - who George W. Bush called a "nut" according to Bob Woodward in his book State of Denial.

Ken Blackwell - who recently blamed a mass shooting on gay marriage. http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/05/29/pundit-who-blamed-ucsb-mass-murd...

Good gravy Meet the Press, why didn't you all just fill out the panel with other thoughtful intellectuals like Orly Taitz. There's a reason why I and so many others stopped watching the show after Tim Russert passed.

Here's David & Nina on their vision going forward

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
— Harriet Beecher Stowe

This is a defining moment in the history of the Ohio Democratic Party, and the decision we make on Tuesday will set in motion the path for our future. We get it. We know how important this decision is and how much work needs to be done in order for us to restore confidence, rebuild our infrastructure and win elections.

Individually and as a team, we’ve both had the honor of being elected to office and serving our communities, and are proud of results we’ve delivered in our years of service. And as candidates, we’ve been to every corner of this great state -- from union halls in Parma and Rossford, churches in Dayton and Columbus, coffee shops in Akron, and VFW halls in Marietta -- to the brick streets of Athens, picnic shelters in Hillsboro and Sandusky, the homes of supporters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo -- and so many other incredible places in between.

We’ve had the opportunity to learn, to listen, and to grow, as officeholders, candidates, as Democrats and as Ohioans, and it’s each one of these experiences that serve as our inspiration and motivation to use our collective talents and resources to lift our Party to the next level. And we are humbled by the strong support we have received in our quest to lead the party.

Leading the Ohio Democratic Party, our number one responsibility and goal will be to win elections.

Here's Sharen Neuhardt's withdrawal letter.

Dear Fellow Democrat:
Since November 4, Democrats around this state have been engaging in spirited conversations about the future of our party and how best to move us forward and take the Ohio Democratic Party to the next level. I have been proud to be part of that conversation, along with David Pepper, Janet Carson, Antoinette Wilson, and Bob Hagan, the four other fine candidates who expressed an interest in being the next Chair of the party. We have participated in listening tour meetings held throughout the state, including two held yesterday in Dayton and Cincinnati, and there have been countless personal conversations and emails about the best way forward for our party.
Each of the five candidates for party Chair has written about his or her vision for the party, and our statements are in large part perfectly consistent with what we have been hearing on the listening tours and from fellow Democrats, including each of you on the Executive Committee. Just yesterday, David Pepper and Nina Turner released a statement of their vision, which I thought was an extraordinary document.
Apart from our vision, however, I have also wanted to discuss why the party desperately needs to adopt good governance policies – the kind of governance policies that any well-respected business or nonprofit entity would have had in place for years, but which the ODP has neglected to adopt. As a result, we hear again and again about situations like these:
Over the last several years, contracts for consulting, campaign, and other services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars being entered into between the party and companies owned directly or indirectly by party officials or members of the Executive Committee.
The party being burdened with nearly $2.0 million of debt that few, if any, Executive Committee members even knew exists.

Sharen Neuhardt Withdraws From Party Chair Race

With the executive committee election for a new Ohio Democratic Party chair taking place in Columbus tomorrow, it looks like David Pepper is a lock to be new ODP chair. The other primary contender, Sharen Neuhardt, has withdrawn from consideration.

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2014/12/15/david-pepper-ex...

While some Democrats have grumbled that both David and Sharen lost their races in November and hence should not be considered, that standard pretty much eliminated every potential Democrat since the year was a bad one for Democrats across the country. In fact, both Sharen, who was Ed FitzGerald's lieutenant governor running mate, and David, who ran for attorney general against Mike DeWine, worked tirelessly, crisscrossing the state and getting to know voters, activists and party leaders. Both were strong candidates for chair. Hopefully Sharen will remain involved on some level.

I'm sure the usual complainers and whiners will announce they are now dropping out because the party is doomed, it's time for those who really care about Ohio's future to step up and let the new chair know what they consider to be the priorities and to let him know what they will contribute to make their goals a reality.

Obviously, for me, women's issues and fair election issues — ending gerrymandering and voter suppression — are primary, as well as economic issues, a top priority for probably most Ohioans. Lots of people have talked about the lack of economic opportunity, the lack of living-wage jobs, shrinking salaries, job loss — all the things Kasich lied his way back into office about. It's up to the Democrats to really slam it to Kasich and rip away his false front of caring about ordinary people even while he dumps more and more of the cost of government on them in order to reward his wealthy friends.

Here's More Good News from Our Clown Car Legislature

In my previous post I mentioned anti-woman extremist Matt Lynch of Geauga County and how — after the Heartbeat Bill failed to gain the needed momentum as a stand-alone bill in the last few weeks — he tried to stuff it into a bill on infant mortality.

The ploy failed.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, writes:

After a series of sneaky maneuvers during lame duck session, including trying to hijack a measure to combat infant mortality, the Ohio House rejected the Heartless Abortion Ban. Although we are elated that this dangerous bill has failed to be enacted again, the games that anti-choice politician have been playing have had a chilling effect on Ohio women and their physicians. ”

Sadly, we know that defeat of this legislation is not the end of the threat to women’s health. Anti-choice forces already have more restrictions on access to reproductive health care ready for introduction when the legislature returns in January. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and our supports will continue to stand up for the rights of Ohioans to make their own reproductive health care decisions without interference from politicians.

These misogynists are ruthless in their contempt for women and their determination to restrict women's lives and drive more women and children into poverty — and incidentally probably increase the already appalling infant mortality rate, which has reached third-world proportions in some parts of Ohio. Keep in mind — these anti-choice restrictions primarily working and poor woman. Affluent women will still be able to choose — to go to another state or even another country if something like the Heartbeat Bill, which bans abortion as early as six weeks, is passed. So in a real sense, trying to insert the Heartbeat Bill into a bill to address infant mortality is a conflict of purposes.

Ohio Legislature Agrees on Something Good, Finally

I just am having a hard time keeping up with the crap that's going on in the lame duck session of the legislature — and the emphasis really should be on "lame."

There's the usual assaults on public education, beyond depressing, which you can keep up with by following Greg Mild over at Plunderbund.

http://www.plunderbund.com/author/greg/

So far, they've dropped the minimum wage scale for teachers and replaced it with ....? Because you know paying teachers $18,000 a year is going to accomplish their alleged goal of having an excellent teacher in every classroom. They've followed up by dropping requirements for schools to have a certain number of support personnel like school nurses, librarians, counselors, social workers and art and music teachers claiming this gives districts "flexibility." Yes, "flexibility" to deal with the legislature's and Governor Kasich's heartless and destruction slashing of education funding by providing fewer resources for their kids. And of course the districts that will be forced to support these positions will be the poorer ones where the kids need them most to even remotely dream of being competitive with their more affluent peers.

Then there's the cynical action taken by teabagger Matt Lynch who likes to advertise his mean-spirited, inhumane, far-right opinions on a big display sign in front of his house out on Route 306 near route 422 if you really need to have a look. He's managed to corrupt a bill on infant and early childhood mortality —the high rate of which is the shame of this state — by trying to insert the Heartbeat aka the Heartless Bill into it. The utter amorality of people like Lynch — who love to front as "Christians" but are nothing recognizable as such — is shown in the fact that if they cannot get what they want by being upfront and honest, they sneak around and try to trick and deceive people.

Who Does Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Work For?

If you answered “the people of Ohio,” guess again.

States attorneys general are often called “the lawyer for the people.” But in Ohio and way too many states where Republican attorneys general hold office, the correct answer is “unofficial counsel for big corporate interests.”

Yeah, I know — big surprise.

But the extent to which AGs like Mike DeWine go to bat for the interests of big-money corporate donors over the interests of the citizens who elected them is shocking and dispiriting.

In an article in the New York Times this weekend called “Energy Firms in Secret Alliance With Attorneys General, writer Eric Lipton lays out just how completely bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry Republican AGs are. He tracks how a giant flood of money from these interests and others elected an unprecedented 27 incoming GOP AGs, almost all of them coming into office to use tax dollars and the power of the office to front for frackers and coal plant operators, among others.

Worse, they are coordinating across the state lines to push an ideological agenda focused on trying to cripple anything President Obama does or has done, whether it’s on health care or immigration or environmental regulations. Under the banner of “states right,” this coalition is looking to destroy the power of the federal government to act on behalf of citizens and increase their own power to act on behalf of corporations.

And near the top of the money list, according to the NY Times, is our very own Mike DeWine, the second largest AG beneficiary of fossil fuel industry money among AG candidates in the 2014 election cycle. He was second only to Ken Patton, who won office in Texas in November.

PIcking a New Democratic Chair

On December 16, the executive committee of the Ohio Democratic Party will gather in Columbus and elect a new state chair.

If you haven’t been following the situation, Chris Redfern, who was recently reelected as ODP chair, offered his resignation following the election in November in which Democrats lost all statewide races and Redfern lost his own seat in the legislation to a man who was recently indicted. Although I think the people blaming Redfern entirely for the losses are off the mark — he had his strengths and shortcomings — it was an appropriate move and he deserves thanks for understanding that it provides the party a chance to start afresh and move in a new direction, perhaps shedding some baggage.

There was an immediate flurry of action in the few days after the election when Sherrod Brown announced he was supporting an old friend, ’80s state legislator David Wojtanowski, and then Wojtanowski withdrew days later, perhaps prodded by the negative feelings aroused in weary activists not prepared to have a candidate forced on them so quickly. Certainly, his unsuitability was clear when it was revealed he had made a sizable donation to John Kasich’s 2000 presidential campaign, something that almost certainly would have crippled him as Democratic Party leader.

In the weeks that followed a couple of things happened: multiple other candidates emerged, and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and president of the association of county chairs Janet Carson organized a series of “listening” events around the state. So far they’ve been held in Toledo and Cleveland with others to come in other parts of the state.

More Brickbats for Frankenmedia aka Northeast Ohio Media Group/Plain Dealer

That bizarre Frankenmedia creature known variously as the Plain Dealer or the Northeast Ohio Media Group took yet another hit in the national media this week. It comes on the heels of its national shaming for yanking the video of its endorsement interviews with the candidates for governor and subsequent repeated fumbling of the aftermath.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/12/02/clevelandcoms-very-bad-month-att...

Now, despite heightened racial tensions in the wake of the failure to indict cop Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August, the NEOMG decided to pitch a tanker full of gasoline on the flames. A week ago Saturday, two days before the Ferguson decision, a 12-year-old boy, playing with a toy gun at the Zone Rec Center at West 65th and Lorain, was gunned down by a police officer and subsequently died. Video released early last week revealed that officers had rolled up on the boy and shot him instantly with no time for the warnings they initially claimed they had given.

NEOMG’s response? Print inflammatory articles about issues the boy’s PARENTS had with the law, suggesting that this somehow provided context why officers had killed a child clearly in violation of proper policing procedures. And once again, NEOMG’s “vice president of content” Chris Quinn and its “reader representative” (management apologist) Ted Diadiun offered tone-deaf, insensitive justifications for this unilluminating and (probably) unintentionally racist coverage.

Respected media critic Eric Bohlert has posted a piece at Media Matters for America titled “Cleveland.com's Very Bad Month: Attacks Parents of Dead 12-Year-Old After Covering Up GOP Gov's Odd Interview” that shreds the tottering media group for its flagrant lack of journalistic responsibility.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/12/02/clevelandcoms-very-bad-month-att...

Riot Shaming, Family Blaming and Ferguson, America

The exoneration of police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August is on everyone’s mind. It’s weighed heavily on mine too. But it’s hard to know what to say right off the top of your head. It's something you really need to mull over at the risk of saying the sort of shallow things you're probably seeing on Facebook.

The decision of the grand jury Monday night to — incredibly — not indict Wilson comes on the heels of the killing of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun by a police officer at the Michael Zone community center in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood Saturday.

It almost goes without saying that the victims were black, the police officers were white. That it almost goes without saying is only one of the depressing factors surrounding the shootings and the reactions to them.

One of the most depressing reactions was the amount of kneejerk victim blaming coming from every direction. Friends you would not describe as racist and who were clearly trying to sound reasonable were blaming 12-year-old Tamir Rice and his family, smearing them with secondhand information, as if that would somehow excuse his death — when we still had few facts about the circumstances. (We have more now since the release of the video this afternoon and they deepen the tragedy).

Too many tried the dead boy and his family and found them guilty in their minds. Just as many have given an automatic pass to the officer, again with no facts about the circumstances, insisting an officer’s first duty is to his own safety (no, it’s not) and he was clearly in danger or thought he was. We've now found out he probably acted with reckless haste.

Columbus Is a Finalist for the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Yesterday it was announced that Columbus is in the running to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, along with Brooklyn, NY and Philadelphia. Columbus has never hosted a national political convention by either party.

It was announced a few months ago that the Republican National Convention would be in Cleveland for the second time (the first was in 1936), and there has been much conversation and speculation about what this might mean for Cleveland, for creating a favorable climate in Ohio for the GOP and how it might impact Governor Kasich and his alleged presidential aspirations, which should be dead in the water by then.

In fact, in recent years, the idea that holding the convention in a particular state helps that party's candidate carry that state has pretty much been shot out of the water. The last time the Republicans did so was 1992 when George HW Bush was the candidate and the convention was in his backyard — Houston. But the location of the convention would seem to have little bearing on the fact that he carried the state that year (despite losing the election). Many of the GOP conventions since have been in blue states like California and New York but the last one was in competitive Florida, which they lost.

That alleged advantage didn't work out for the Democrats last time out either when they held their 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C. and lost the state narrowly in the general election. But their schedule as well for the past several decades has been heavy on blue states like California, Illinois and Massachusetts. Before 2012, the last time they lost the state where they held their convention was in 1988 when it was in Atlanta, and Michael Dukakis did not carry Georgia.

This Week in Women’s Rights in Ohio: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In the last few years here in Ohio, we’ve seen a narrow-minded, mean-spirited, misogynist bunch of men (and a few judgmental women who probably see themselves as better than those sluts who accidentally get pregnant) trying to inject government into women’s life-changing reproductive choices.

Among other things, they inserted provisions into the budget bills limiting women’s access to abortion, provisions that had no business being there. Among them was the requirement that abortion clinics have transfer agreements with hospitals — after making it illegal for public hospitals to make such agreements. Since Catholic hospitals won’t make them, that threatened the existence of many clinics, and clinics in Toledo and Cincinnati were closed down.

One clinic remained in the Cincinnati area — the Planned Parenthood clinic in Mt. Auburn —and it was in danger of being closed. According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, that would have made Cincinnati the largest metro area without an abortion provider. The clinic had filed a lawsuit in a federal court to challenge the state law. However, this week, it was granted a variance by the state health department when it lined up four doctors who agreed to accept patients in an emergency, and it has dropped the lawsuit.

“This is an important victory for the pro-choice activists in Ohio that have fought to protect women’s health,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland. “We are relieved that abortion will remain safe, legal and accessible in the Cincinnati metro area. We call on the Ohio Department of Health to also grant a variance to the clinic in Dayton whose request has been pending for over a year.”

That was the good news. Now for the bad AND the ugly.

Affordable Health Insurance for Ohioans Hangs in Balance as Supreme Court Considers New Obamacare Case

Last week we learned that the Supreme Court will hear yet another challenge to a critical provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The central question raised in the case, King v. Burwell, is whether those individuals who purchase health insurance plans on exchanges run by the federal government’s web portal, healthcare.gov, are eligible for the federal subsidies that make those plans affordable. In Ohio, according to The Dispatch’s Ben Sutherly, the average monthly premium for plans purchased on healthcare.gov is about $121. But this price is reached only after federal subsidies of about $250 per month are applied. King’s supporters seek to ban these subsidies.

The central question in King arises out of a textual dispute over the meaning of the phrase “established by the State,” which appears some nine times in the ACA’s statute. King asks whether “established by the State” is meant to restrict federal subsidies to those situations in which states have opted to run their own exchanges, or whether “established by the State” is meant to include federally-run exchanges as well.

Not Ready for Hillary

I may have mentioned before that I am not “Ready for Hillary.” I thought hyping Hillary’s potential presidential candidacy before the midterms was distracting and premature.

Now we’re past the midterms and it’s gotten worse. It’s like the Hillary supporters are trying to lock her in before we have a chance to recover, so we’ll just go along meekly, convinced she's "inevitable" and that we have no voice in the matter. In one 24-hour period a few days ago, I got three emails from Ohio Democrats titled “Ready for Hillary.” Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Columbus, Congressman Tim Ryan of Youngstown and State Senator Nina Turner of Cleveland all sent out these dispiriting, choice-robbing missives.

While the result of the midterms wasn’t exactly some unanticipated bolt out of the blue, there’s a lot of conversation, both in Ohio and nationally, about how we turn things around — not just electorally but in terms of promoting progressive policies that focus on lifting up the average person in contrast to the ever more extreme Republican policies of handing rapacious corporations completely control of everything. And, with a lot of Democrats are demoralized by the losses in the midterms and the bloodthirsty extremism of the victorious Republicans, I am sensing that an increasing number of Democrats are ready for someone other than Hillary.

In many ways, Hillary represents the past — when the results of corporate-favoring policies, bank licentiousness and bad trade deals weren’t yet so obvious in part because of the fortuitous timing of the Internet bubble, in part because the housing bubble had not yet burst. The prosperity gap between the ultra-wealthy and pretty much everyone else had not yet widened into the almost unbridgeable chasm it is now.

State Rep. John Barnes Suing Democratic Party Because It Didn't Endorse Him After He Cozied Up to GOP

Oh dear God. I’ve been reading about poor, put-upon Cleveland-area state representative John Barnes Jr. and how he’s all sad at his fellow state Democrats for not endorsing him in his primary and at his fellow state House members for not giving him a plum committee assignment because RACISM RACISM. I haven’t stopped laughing for hours.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/11/11/chris-redfern-d...

So now he’s suing the Ohio Democratic Party claiming he’s the powerful independent voice for black people who deserves the support of a party he has dissed just because … well, I don’t know.

Barnes loves to tout his “independence” from the Democratic Party and the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus as if he is some brave and daring free thinker. He seems to think going against your own party and aligning with Republicans on significant issues is somehow heroic because hey, you’re your own man and not beholden to party leaders. (Whether he is truly his own man or Bill Patmon’s mini-me is an issue we won’t take up here).

Barnes is upset that the party endorsed his challenger in last May’s primary. He thinks they should faithfully endorse the incumbent, never mind that that’s one of the things that has led to stale thinking and a closed system that shuts out new blood.

Earth to John Barnes! The reason you were not endorsed is not because you are black but because you are not a good Democrat. It’s not because you are so bold and independent but because you violated some of the party’s core values.

We’ve been hearing lots of talk since the election about whether many Democrats lost because they were timid about expressing those core values, coming off like watered-down Republicans. Maybe, maybe not. But there are certain principles you have to stand up for to be counted as a good Democrat.

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