Dems Attack Partisan GOP Ohio House Energy Bill

At 2:18 a.m. this morning the 11 GOP members of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee rammed through the 22nd version of Senate Bill 221, a substitute bill which was drafted by GOP legislators behind closed doors. The Democrats on the committee were not present, having walked out in protest of the heavy-handed tactics.

As a sign of how bought-and-sold the GOP leaders are to the big utilities, The Daily Briefing reports that the ten-page talking points memo sent out by Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted over the weekend was drafted by Sam Randazzo, general counsel for the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio. This fact was revealed by the information embedded in the .pdf document.

Dann Pledges Cooperation with Federal Investigation; Will Release Emails

Yesterday I went to a lecture by Attorney General Marc Dann at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at which he urged law students to pursue public service careers and explained how the philosophy of attorney generals across the country has changed due to the federal government's deliberate abandonment of its responsibility to regulate businesses under existing law, and aggressive attempts to stymie state regulation through federal preemption doctrine. In particular, Dann said that the subprime mortgage meltdown, which he characterized as the worst financial collapse in the history of this country, would not have happened if federal regulators had simply done their jobs. He described his office's ongoing effort to develop a basis to go after not only mortage lenders but the Wall Street players who propelled the explosion in subprime lending -- bond raters, investment banks, and other market intermediaries.

In his public remarks Dann did not mention the pending investigation of sexual harassment claims against his friend and subordinate Anthony Gutierrez, and no questions were asked about it during the question and answer period that followed the lecture. Instead, Dann met briefly with reporters before and after the event to address the matter. I stood nearby as Dann spoke on camera to a reporter for WKYC-TV (video clip here).

Dann declined to discuss the substance of the allegations, noting that there is an ongoing investigation from which he has recused himself, and it is being handled by Ben Espy of his office. However, Dann also said that "more importantly, there is a separate, independent federal investigation going on" because "the young women who have made allegations against my friend have filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission," and "you can't get any more independent than that."

Dann also said that he wants to give the people of Ohio an Attorney General's office they can be proud of, and that he "is as anxious as anyone to get to the bottom of this." He pledged full cooperation with the federal investigation.

In comments Dann made before the event (I was not present), he told Regina Fields of The Plain Dealer that the report in the Distpatch on Sunday that he has refused to turn over emails between himself and former scheduler Jessica Utovich was incorrect:

He blamed it on confusion about trying to figure out a cost-efficient way to provide the information to the newspaper. He said the records will be provided after they have been reviewed by two law enforcement bodies.

This is inconsistent with the story in the Dispatch today, which states that Dann agreed "yesterday" to "conditionally provide" the emails, suggesting that he had first refused and then changed his mind.

Also, Dann confirmed to Fields that his placing Communications Director Leo Jennings on paid leave based on "new information" is related to the investigation, although he would not say specifically what it is about. A letter to Jennings from Dann's human resources director reportedly says that Jennings could be fired if the undisclosed allegation against him is true.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's happening in the U.S. House races:

OH-01 - Yesterday State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) helped kick off the campaign of sister Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) to replace him in the General Assembly before a big crowd at the Front Porch Coffeehouse. *** Steve Driehaus is one of many angry critics of the GOP version of the energy bill in the Ohio House. The new bill was released Thursday and could get a full House vote as early as tomorrow. "We're not going to have any hearings as to the content of the bill," he said. "Doesn't that strike you as a little odd?"

OH-03 - Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) was endorsed recently by Eugene Rossides, a director of Sterling Bancorp and former GOP-appointed Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. He said that Mitakides "has a real shot at winning” and earned his support because she is “an entrepreneur who understands the importance of bringing good jobs to her community and ensuring that those jobs stay there.” *** Mitakides will be the keynote speaker on Friday at the Federated Democratic Women of Ohio Spring Convention in Toledo.

OH-10: Kucinich Hosts Public Meeting on Closing of 3rd District Police HQ 4/14

04/14/2008 - 12:00pm
04/14/2008 - 1:00pm

Now that the decision has been made to close Cleveland's 3rd District Police Headquarters, what will it mean to Slavic Village and the surrounding area?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is holding a meeting today (April 14th) at noon at Karlin Hall, located at 5304 Fleet Avenue in Cleveland, to hear the public's concerns and questions.

Joining the Rep. Kucinich will be long time residents, business owners and civic leaders.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

From the Ministry of Kultural Affairs:

Pardon the interruption in our usual programming, but I just HAD to share this.

I got to see Tim O'Brien play a sold out show at the Hamilton, OH campus of Miami U. this weekend. The opening act was an African-American string band called the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They were PHENOMENAL! What they play is basically what African-American music sounded like in the south, particularly the Carolinas and the Eastern seaboard, before the great exodus to the cities of the North, starting with the Great Depression and WWII. Band member Rhiannon Giddens attended the Oberlin Conservatory here in Ohio (where I hope my kids will go to college!) I cannot find the superlatives to do their performance justice. It has been a VERY long time since a new artist has affected me so much. If you can get a chance to hear them, by all means GO!!!!

Fund-Raising Reports in Key Ohio House Races

Ten days ago I wrote about 17 key Ohio House races, including nine GOP-held open seats, five Democratic challengers, and three potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Here is a rundown on post-primary campaign finance reporting in these races, with incumbents marked by an asterisk. Contributions shown are just cash contributions during the reporting period, not including in-kind contributions or loans:

Dist Dem Cand Contrib On Hand Rep Cand Contrib On Hand
16 Brady* $12,033.00 $25,898.35 Baker $2,250.00 $12,552.55
18 Patten $6,600.00 $35,583.84 Spada $4,400.00 $13,075.89
19 Harris $5,645.00 $19,361.29 Lewis $3,250.00 $3,917.94
20 Garland $13,180.00 $14,295.49 McGregor* DNF DNF
22 Carney $24,060.00 $138,233.56 Keenan $14,225.00 $56,280.31
28 Pillich $3,320.00 $22,341.01 Raussen* $14,268.00 $40,437.87
38 Leinisch DNF DNF Blair $11,800.00 $2,018.89
42 Moran $6,470.00 $24,288.43 Nero $14,200.00 $4,048.77
46 Dunn $5,055.00 $15,197.52 Sears* $12,350.00 $13,320.51
50 DeHoff $12,920.00 $1,421.42 Snitchler $10,730.00 $3,555.52
58 Barrett* $12,470.00 $27,211.99 Boose $11,820.00 $11,771.24
63 Schneider $585.00 $46,885.36 Schindel* $9,250.00 $15,618.58
84 Crockett $4,195.00 $4,682.29 Hackett $1,520.00 $7,460.14
85 Pryor $6,161.00 $14,323.32 Schlichter* $350.00 $627.67
91 Dodd* $2,750.00 $28,213.97 Hayes $1,940.00 $3,836.94
92 Phillips $24,844.06 $46,082.61 Thompson $2,400 $7,873.51
94 Stewart $8,855.00 $20,470.97 Balderson $8,895.00 $10,897.99

OH House-92: Great Fund-Raising News for Phillips (D)

In a race that represents one of the very best pickup opportunities for the Democratic Party in the Ohio House of Representatives, City Council member Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) has filed a post-primary report with $24,844.06 raised during the reporting period and $46,082.61 cash on hand. Her opponent, County Auditor Jill Thompson (R-The Plains), is reporting a paltry $2,400.00 raised and $7,873.51 on hand.

In addition, Thompson's reporting is sloppy as well as anemic: missing employment information for many individual contributors, and post office boxes instead of street addresses for numerous payees of campaign expenditures.

This is all good news for Phillips, a seasoned campaigner running for an open seat in a Democratic-leaning district.

Weekend Concert "Psych" Up

OK, the weekend is officially here. So from the Ministry of Kultural Affairs, let's send this one out to all the hosses in the Stable!

I'll be heading out to Hamilton, Ohio tomorrow to hang with my buddy (and Grammy Award winner) Tim O'Brien. (Sorry folks but it's SOLD OUT!) So I thought I'd offer this clip from the BBC Transatlantic Sessions 3 featuring Tim and Jerry Douglas, (the Charlie Parker of the dobro.)

Tim wrote this song which was the International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year for 2006.

And a special SHOUT OUT to Mando Momma, Tim's biggest fan in Twinsburg, Ohio.

And let me get in a special "break a leg" to all 800 hardworking and talented kids who will be competing in solo and ensemble at District 1 of OMEA tomorrow as well. (And to their long suffering parents who will be getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to get them there!)

Here's "Look Down That Lonesome Road." Y'all enjoy,now.


New Report from CPBB: Income Gap Widening in Ohio

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a report today that analyzes income trends in all fifty states.

In Ohio, the richest 20% of families now have incomes 6.2 times as large as the poorest 20% of families, a ratio that was 5.6 in the late 1980s.

The richest 5% of families saw their incomes rise 34% from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, and the richest 20% saw their incomes rise 23.7% during that time frame. That compares to the middle 20% seeing 8.9% in income gain, and the poorest 20% seeing 11.6% in income gain.

Meanwhile John McCain, who has completely bought into the Bush administration's disastrous economic policies that have worsened the income gap, is coming to Ohio on April 22nd on a "Compassion Tour," stopping in economically ravaged Youngstown before heading off to a big-dollar fund-raiser in Toledo.

Ohio Superdelegate Bill Burga Endorses Clinton

So reports Mark Naymik on Openers - although he also reports that Burga had no desire to make any comment explaining his decision.

So that makes it five Ohio superdelegates declared for Clinton, 4 declared for Obama, and twelve left to be determined:

For Clinton:
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Gov. Ted Strickland
Labor leader Patricia Moss
Labor leader Ron Malone
Labor leader William Burga

For Obama:
Mayor Rhine McLin
Mayor Mark Mallory
Former DNC chair David Wilhelm
Labor leader Sonny Nardi

Undetermined:
Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Betty Sutton
Rep. Tim Ryan
Rep. Charlie Wilson
Rep. Zack Space
Sen. Sherrod Brown
State Rep. Joyce Beatty
State Rep. Chris Redfern
County part chair Enid Goubeaux
[Redfern Pick #1]
[Redfern Pick #2]

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Things are hopping in those critical legislative races:

OH House-01 - State Rep. Linda Bolon (D–Columbiana) announced Tuesday that ODOT has granted Columbiana County $26.36 million for its 2008 State and Local Construction Program, which consists of 25 road resurfacing and rehabilitation projects throughout the county. “We’d like to fix every road if we could, but this critical funding is a great start,” Rep. Bolon said. “I am thrilled that ODOT recognized the importance of these projects and will be a partner in improving our infrastructure so that Columbiana County can be a major player for jobs and opportunity.”

OH House-02 - Nurse and attorney Jan Lanier (D-Westerville) will be a featured speaker at the The Ohio Nurses Democratic Caucus Political Activism Convention on Saturday, April 26, from 1:00 to 4:15 p.m. at Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters in Columbus.

OH House-6 - Jeff Bretz (D-Bowling Green) will have a Baked Steak Fundraiser at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19th, at North Baltimore Eagles Aerie 2633, 140 North Main Street in North Baltimore. Donation is $8.00. More information on his newly improved campaign site.

OH House-16 - State Rep. Jennifer Brady (D-Westlake) will be featured at a Democratic Discussion Table at the City Club of Cleveland, 850 Euclid Avenue (at E. 9th St.), on Monday, April 21st, at 12:00 p.m. Register here.

OH House-19 - Marian Harris (D-Columbus) will attend a Voter Rights Rally featuring SOS Jennifer Brunner and several muscial groups at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13th, at 461 St. Clair Ave. in Columbus.

OH House-22 - John Carney (D) will have a fund-raising reception with Gov. Ted Strickland on Thursday, April 24th, at 6:00 p.m. in Upper Arlington. See his site for more information.

OH House-24 - State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview) will hold a "Distict 24 Dialogue" on the topic of education from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 28th, at Hilliard Crossing School, 3340 Hilliard-Rome Road.

OH House-31 - Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) will hold her Campaign Kick-off Party from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 13th, at the Front Porch Coffee House, 5245 Glenway, food and beverages provided, RSVP to 478-4160 or email mewagner1-at-yahoo-dot-com.

OH House-63 - Mark Schneider (D-Mentor) tells me he will have a campaign site up soon at SchneiderForOhio.com.

OH House-84 - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) will participate in the advanced energy summit hosted by Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) in Nelsonville tomorrow, and on Saturday, April 26th, he will host an auction and fish fry at his home, 263 Rozelle Creek Road in Chillicothe.

OH House-86 - Bill Horne (D-Hillsboro) will attend the Hillsboro Athletic Boosters event at Hillsboro Elementary School, 500 U.S. Rte 62, on Saturday, April 12th, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

OH House-90 - Duane Grassbaugh (D-Howard) officially announced his campaign on Tuesday, with a post on his web site that describes his background and the issues on which he will run:

Duane Grassbaugh, 35, is a lifetime member of the Ohio Farmers Union and is the president of the Knox/Licking County Farmers Union. He is a lifetime farmer, currently working as the dairy herd manager at his family farm, Grassydell Farms, in Howard. He spent six years as a member of the Knox County Dairy Services Unit, and has been appointed to a term in Ohio ’s Water and Sewer Commission, a state-wide agency that manages relations between public waterworks and farmers’ property interests. Grassbaugh received a degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech in 1994.

Grassbaugh’s campaign will focus primarily on healthcare, education, and the economy. “We all know these are problem areas in Ohio ,” said Grassbaugh ... “I intend to do something about them.”

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

On the radar screen:

OH-01 - Bloggers Harry and Jack note that according to a Washington Post study, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) "has voted how President Bush and top Republicans want him to 90.6% of the time while the average for all other Republicans combined is just above 85%." *** Chabot hasn't done anything to press for an early end to the Iraq debacle, but he is getting attention in the national press for complaining about the cost during the testimony by General Petraeus. “At a time when Americans are paying all-time high gas prices, doesn’t it make sense that Iraq should be paying for its own reconstruction?” Chabot asked. Umm, what about all those U.S. soldiers that have been killed or maimed, shouldn't we be thinking about getting our troops out of there as well? It's not just money that is at stake. *** Blogger Michael Cohen at Democracy Arsenal, who attended the Petraeus/Crocker hearings, comments that GOP House members tend to have much better hair than Democrats EXCEPT for Chabot, who "seems to have combined some sort of comb over and homage to former Ohio Congressman James Traficant that has gone horribly awry."

OH-02 - Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) is a 100% supporter of the controversial Colombia Free Trade Agreement that Bush is trying to rush through Congress. "Colombia is an important trading partner not only for the United States but Cincinnati in particular," said Schmidt, just back from a trade delegation trip to that country. "Promoting free trade between our countries will continue to improve Southern Ohio's economic outlook."

OH-04 - Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) will attend a reception co-hosted by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the Ohio Democratic Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15th, at The Athletic Club of Columbus, 136 E Broad Street. For more information call 614-888-4868.

OH-06 - Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, expressed support for the proposal by Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) for the FHA to insure $300 billion in troubled loans if lenders agree to write them down to 85% of appraised values. "When there's foreclosure in a neighborhood, it brings down [the] valuation of the other homes around it," Wilson said. "We're really trying to make a significant effort to keep people from losing their homes to foreclosures. Not only to help them, but to help everyone." *** David has Wilson's reaction to the Petraeus testimony: "The message from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker is that there’s no end in sight for the war in Iraq. That’s not good enough. The troops have done their job and done it well. But, there’s been almost no political progress in Iraq and we just keep pouring our troops and money into it."

OH-10 - One of the "Muzzle" awards given by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of the Freedom of Expression this year is to the Texas Democratic Party for keeping Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) off the state’s primary ballot because he refused to sign a pledge that he would “fully support” the eventual Democratic nominee.

OH-12 - Stubborn Liberal reports that Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) continues to be a "a puppet for the current administration's failed policy in Iraq," saying (as reported in the Dispatch) that "if we begin a precipitous withdrawal of troops now, all of our gains made in Iraq could be reversed. I believe we must listen to our troops on the ground and the testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker as we plan our next steps in Iraq."

OH-15 - Blogger ohio06win notes that candidate and former bank lobbyist State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) has opposed placing a cap on payday loan interest.

Carnival of Ohio Politics #112: Smooth Groove Edition


Jill takes the Carnival into new thematic territory by introducing a musical twist for installment #112.

Great job - go give it a read and a listen!

Payday Lending and the Beattys: There's Another Side to the Story

The Plain Dealer and the Dispatch report momentum in the General Assembly toward passing a measure that caps interest on payday loans, probably at 36% per year. Both stories attribute this development to the revelation that Otto Beatty, spouse of Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), is doing consulting work of some kind for an Ohio-based payday lender. Mr Beatty says that the work relates to Virginia rather than Ohio, and both Beattys deny that his work has any influence on her actions in the legislature, but several lawmakers say that Beatty has been a roadblock to advancing the measure. In the absence of any other reason to do that, the implication of improper influence hangs heavy in the air.

However, there is in fact good reason to tread carefully with payday lending regulation. I agree that the Beattys should have disclosed the matter when Mr Beatty started doing the work in mid-January, in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict. However, Joyce Beatty voiced concerns about the payday lending interest cap last summer, and for good cause.
Continued after the flip.

Wisconsin Passes Great Lakes Water Compact, Focus Turns to Ohio

Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) announced today that a deal has been reached and the Wisconsin legislature will meet in a special session on April 17th to vote on the Great Lakes Water Compact.

The other states involved have either approved the compact or are expected to do so. Attention should now shift to Ohio, where State Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) has been holding up approval of the measure out of misguided concern over private property rights. He protests that the compact would convert privately owned groundwater into public trust property, but experts dispute his contention. And even Grendell concedes that a compact of some kind is necessary to ward off large-scale diversions of Great Lakes water to the thirsty Southwest.

Gov. Strickland (D) is a solid proponent of the agreement. Hopefully public attention and scrutiny will overcome Grendell's pig-headed opposition and Ohio will get this thing done.

Second Chance Act SIgned Today

Time to celebrate a win for the good guys. Four years after the measure was first introduced, the bipartisan Second Chance Act was signed today. It provides provides $330 million in federal funding for programs designed to help released prisoners re-enter society successfully, including employment services, housing assistance, and substance-abuse treatment.

My Congresswoman, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland), was one of four co-sponsors of the House version of the bill. (Another was a personal hero, the great progressive statesman Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) of Chicago.) Senate sponsors include ideological adversaries Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the left and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) on the right. The bipartisan nature of the support for this law is in fact remarkable. "The enthusiasm about it is just so high," said Jessica Nickel, director of government affairs for the Council of State Governments, quoted in a story in U.S. News & World Report. "It's been a true left-right coalition."

The proportion of ex-convicts in urban African American communities is shockingly high - as much as one in three males in some areas. Helping released prisoners find jobs and housing is the key to reducing recidivism, which is good for society as well as the individuals involved. Housing prisoners is expensive, and studies have shown that about half of released prisoners wind up in jail again within three years under current conditions.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Items of interest:

OH-02 - Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) is among 16 candidates endorsed by the SBA List Candidate Fund, a pro-life organization created to counter Emily's List and Planned Parenthood Federal PAC and deceptively named for women's rights icon Susan B. Anthony. It is holding its first fund-raiser of the cycle in Washington DC this afternoon.

OH-04 - Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) is one of four GOP freshman members of the House to receive an "A" rating from the National Taxpayers Union, an organization devoted to fanatically slashing federal spending, even for essential programs. *** Attorney Rick Siferd (D-Lima), who ran for this seat in 2006, has been selected to replace retiring Gary Frueh as Chair of the Allen County Democratic Party.

OH-06 - Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) reports on his six-stop Economic Listening Tour today in the East Liverpool Review. He got an earful about rising healthcare premiums, college tuition, and especially gas prices. *** David has the tale from Wilson's office about how his announcement that the IRS held unclaimed funds owed to 199 taxpayers in the 6th District led to one woman recovering $3,500. Also, David reported yesterday that Wilson came out strong against the proposed Columbia Free Trade Agreement:

On my recent economic listening tour throughout the Ohio River Valley, I heard loud and clear from working families that free trade may work on Wall Street, but it isn’t working on Main Street. Rest assured that I’m not for NAFTA, CAFTA or any other AFTA.

OH-17 - Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) is proudly announcing an FAA grant of $962,885 to the Western Reserve Port Authority (WRPA) and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport for safety equipment, airfield guidance signs, and fencing improvements. The fence part is especially important because it will trigger FAA approval for the airport to proceed with its master plan. “I pledge to continue working for the airport’s needed resources but also look forward to working with the Port Authority on broader economic development projects throughout the Mahoning Valley,” said Rep. Ryan.

OH-18 - In a story in The Hill, reporter Aaron Blake gives 0H-18 as one example of the NRCC's failure to recruit top-tier challengers in what should be targeted races, leading analysts to conclude that the GOP has no chance of regaining control of the House. *** Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) will hold the third Working Group session of his Renew Ohio-18 initiative, this one on expanding advanced energy resources, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday (4/11) at the Inn at Hocking College, 15770 State Route 691 in Nelsonville. This session is open to the media and public. *** Challenger Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon) will resign his position as president of Farmer Mac, a government sponsored provider of agricultural real estate and rural housing mortgage services, effective June 30th in order to devote himself to his campaign.

Bill Clinton Next in Line For Dismissal?

Over the weekend Hillary Clinton "fired" chief strategist Mark Penn (demoted, really, since he is still doing work for the campaign) because he worked to support the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in the course of his day job.

Now Perry Bacon, Jr. is reporting on The Trail that Bill Clinton is also supporting the controversial new trade deal:

Her campaign on Tuesday acknowledged that former President Clinton has also spoken in favor of the proposed bilateral agreement with Colombia . . .

"Senator Clinton is the candidate for president and she is a clear and firm opponent of the Colombian free trade agreement," said Jay Carson, a Clinton spokesman, who said the ex-president has spoken in favor of the agreement since 2000. "Like other married couples who disagree on issues from time to time, she disagrees with her on husband on this issue."

Hillary and Bill may be separate people entitled to separate opinions, but so are Obama and the economic advisor who made those comments about NAFTA to Canadian diplomatic personnel, for which Clinton gave Obama so much grief in the days preceding the Ohio primary. In any event, Clinton takes a lot of credit for the accomplishments of her husband's presidential administration, so it will be difficult for her to achieve tactical separation from his views on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement as the Pennsylvania vote approaches.

An Ode to Cleveland and Reminder about "Maxed Out" with Cordray, Rokakis, Engel

Sarah Byrnes, Campaign Manager for Americans For Fairness in Lending (AFFIL), has penned an ode to Cleveland for a blog post about tonight's screening of "Maxed Out" at the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University:

Cleveland is a city on Lake Erie
The amount of foreclosures there makes me weary
It's a very bad thing
Subprime lenders did bring
But we could fix it if our reps would see clearly!

(Ouch.)

The event tonight is a great opportunity to see an important documentary on predatory lending (writer/director James Scurlock won the 2008 Ridenhour Book Prize for the book on which it is based, Maxed Out: Hard Times in an Age of Easy Credit) and to hear a discussion by three nationally-recognized leaders and authorities on predatory lending: Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, and CSU Law Professor Kathleen Engel.

Here is the trailer for the movie:



The event is from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the atrium of Glickman-Miller Hall (the Levin College of Urban Affairs) at 1717 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland (corner of 18th Street). The event is free but please register.

Applications Due Friday 4/11 For Replacement Clinton Delegates to Convention

Todd Hoffman, Director of Internet Operations for the Ohio Democratic Party, reports that there are three vacancies that need to be filled in the slate of Ohio delegates to the Democratic National Convention for Hillary Clinton:

* OH-6 (Southeast Ohio) – Clinton Female Delegate
* OH-10 (Cuyahoga) – Clinton Female Alternate Delegate
* OH-16 (Medina, Ashland, Wayne and Stark) – Clinton Male Alternate

To be considered for these positions you must submit a Declaration of Candidacy Form [pdf] by Friday, April 11 at 5pm. Additional details after the flip.

Memo to Dann: Do More

I'm an admirer of what Attorney General Marc Dann stands for and what he has already accomplished in his official capacity, but I'm appalled at the poor judgment he has shown in his hiring decisions. As to the latest and growing scandal concerning sexual harassment complaints against a subordinate with long personal ties to Dann, I'm with Joseph of Plunderbund -- Dann needs to do a thorough house-cleaning. And, I think he needs to send this investigation outside the department to some independent person or entity.

During his campaign in 2006, I heard Dann say on more than one occasion that he wanted us -- his supporters -- to hold him to the highest standard of conduct while in office. Although the charges are directed against subordinates rather than Dann himself, I think the time has come to hold Dann to the spirit of his statement. He should exert himself to take every conceivable precaution to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Merely saying (as his spokesman has) that these kind of allegations are taken "incredibly seriously" is not enough. Dann should take incredibly serious steps to root out the problem.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

What's going on:

OH Sen-2 - As noted by Lisa Renee, the Toledo Blade has a story on Sylvia Washburn (D-Maumee) dropping out of the race. Washburn attributes it to family considerations, noting that her mother died recently. I don't know who is under consideration to replace Washburn on the ballot, but I'm told that former Bowling Green School Board member and 2004 Democratic National Convention delegate John Hartman (D-Bowling Green) would consider running. He ran against former Attorney General Betty Montgomery (R-Perrysburg) for this seat in 1992.

OH House-01 - State Rep. Linda Bolon (D-East Palestine) announced yesterday that the State Library of Ohio Board has approved a $20,110 grant to the Carnegie Public Library of East Liverpool to establish a “Ready to Read” initiative in the community. “This is an important initiative,” said Rep. Bolon. “Reading early and often to children equips them with the necessary skills needed to succeed as learners.”

OH House-10 - State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) introduced legislation last week to protect municipal water revenue by limiting who can purchase water meter keys, which some customers use to turn their water back on after it has been shut off for non-payment. “In Cleveland alone, this practice is costing the city thousands of dollars,” Rep. Miller said. “We need to make sure that people are not skirting the law at the expense of their neighbors..”

OH House-15 - State Rep. Tim DeGeeter (D-Parma) has his campaign kickoff event on Thursday evening (4/10) at 5:00 p.m. at the Blue Moose Tavern & Eatery, 5513 Pearl Road in Parma.

OH House-39 - Saying that "Ohio has allowed charter schools to operate without proper oversight or accountability for far too long," State Rep. Clayton Luckie (D-Dayton) objected yesterday to the opening of a new charter school in Dayton to be run by Imagine Schools, Inc., and called for "a true moratorium on new charter schools so we can repair what’s broken in our school systems." Imagine Schools operates two charter schools in Columbus, Great Western Academy and Academy of Columbus, which are on Academic Watch and Academic Emergency, respectively. "Public schools struggle to meet rising benchmarks while getting robbed of necessary funds that instead filter to under-regulated charter schools," Rep. Luckie said. "We have heard report after report of low test scores, misuse of public funds and for-profit companies lining their pockets with education dollars. Enough is enough."

OH House-46 - Darlene Dunn (D-Sylvania Twp) is having a fundraiser on Saturday, April 19th that sounds like a lot of fun -- a luncheon and tea in two sittings at Clara J's Tea Room, 219 West Wayne Street in Maumee.

OH House-48 - State Rep. Edna Brown (D-Toledo), whom I enjoyed getting to know a little bit at the Take Back America 2008 conference in Washington last month, is having a Birthday Celebration event on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. at the Park Lane Hotel, 142 23rd St. (Collingwood & Jefferson) in Toledo.

OH House-91 - State Rep. Dan Dodd (D-Hebron) joined with Treasurer Richard Cordray (D-Grove City), State Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston), and State Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) today to announce the introduction of legislation to create SaveNOW, a program designed to tie personal savings to financial education. “Economically, we live in safe but definitely uncertain times,” Rep. Dodd said. “Families should have a financial anchor, and too many of them don’t. SaveNOW will tie financial education and protection into an incentive for first-time savers to develop the life-long habit of saving money.”

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Items in the news about Ohio's races for the U.S. House:

OH-02 - The DCCC may not have put challenger Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) into their Red-to-Blue program yet, but this CQ Politics story confirms that the NRCC understands that Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) is vulnerable -- she is one of ten GOP candidates (mostly incumbents) added to their "Regain Our Majority Program." The story describes the ten as "candidates who are in difficult races and in need of extra campaign cash." *** Independent candidate David Krikorian (I-Madeira) has been certified.

OH-03 - Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) has announced two appearances for next week. On Tuesday (4/15) at 5:30 p.m. she will attend the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Reception (call 614-888-4868 for more information), and on Friday (4/18) at 7:00 p.m. she wil speak at the Federated Democratic Women of Ohio Spring Convention in Toledo (contact FDWC President Eileen Krupinski at 740-264-3633).

OH-13 - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) didn't waste any time attacking the Colombia Free Trade Agreement that Bush sent to Congress yesterday -- her blistering reaction arrived in my mailbox just a couple of hours later:

It makes no sense to push an FTA with a country that seems to ignore the continued blatant violations of basic human rights. How can a trade agreement be beneficial when the workers in one of the countries involved lack basic labor rights and are punished and often killed for their involvement in union activities? We should not even be considering a trade agreement with Colombia until this horrific violence ends and those responsible for the murder of thousands are brought to justice.

OH-15 - The Wall Street Journal discusses State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) today in an article about GOP candidates who are Iraq veterans, but the author points out that the results in Ohio's presidential primary don't bode well for him and his unflinching support for McCain on the war:

[Stivers] won the March 4 primary with 66% of the vote, but his prospects in November are dicey. Sen. Barack Obama, who has trumpeted his antiwar record, carried the counties that compose most of Mr. Stivers's district, including the Columbus suburbs, where Sen. Obama beat Sen. Hillary Clinton by 14 points. The district is also home to the main campus of Ohio State University, where a Republican candidate's call to "complete the mission" in Iraq is more likely to drive turnout for the Democrats than for Mr. Stivers.

*** Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is one of six candidates endorsed so far by Yale University-based SNAP PAC (it stands for Students for a New American Politics). The group provides "fellowships for students, especially those facing financial hardships, to work on progressive campaigns."

OH-16 - Stuart Rothenberg has a new "Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats List" out, and OH-16 is ranked third most likely to flip:

State Sen. John Boccieri should be a strong Democratic nominee, while the Republican nominee, state Sen. Kirk Schuring, may have problems holding his party’'s base.

OH-18 Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has been pushing for hearings on the immigration enforcement bill he is co-sponsoring, the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement ("SAVE") Act of 2007, and according to a press release issued today his wish has been granted. *** Space's appearance at the new ABC Manufacturing Facility yesterday got glowing coverage from WHIZ in Zanesville:

In addition to the jobs at ABC, forty hires have already been made through the purchase of Malta Glass Company. Congressman Space says it's just the first of many brighter days ahead for everyone in the community.

"It's not just the employees that work here and their families, it's the grocer, the banker, the car dealer, the schools, the housing appreciation, it's a tremendous shot in the arm. It's all good, it's what we want to see much more of."

OH-14: LaTourette Refuses to Disavow Unfair Assault on O'Neill

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) is taking the low road again, with Lake County Republican Chairman Dale Fellows slinging the mud for him and LaTourette refusing to disavow it.

Fellows accused challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) of "protecting murders, rapists and child pornographers" on a local cable show, focusing in particular on one appellate ruling in which O'Neill and another judge overturned a child pornography conviction. It so happens that I have read that decision (State v. Tooley, 2005-Ohio-6709, 2005 WL 3476649 (Ohio Ct. App. 11th Dist. Portage County 2005) and it is a straight-up first amendment ruling based on the statute's failure to distinguish computer-generated imagery (in which no real children are used) from actual child pornography -- it is settled law that the former is constitutionally protected while the latter is not. Of course, the all-Republican Ohio Supreme Court found a way to reverse (essentially finding an insufficient factual showing that computer-generated imagery can be indistinguishable from photographic imagery), but the appellate ruling was based on sound legal reasoning.

Mortgage Lenders Sign Non-Binding "Compacts" on Foreclosure Crisis

I'm not optimistic that this will do much good, ultimately.

After eleven mortgage lenders refused to sign agreements with the state by the deadline set last fall (November 8th), the state has continued to negotiate with them and now nine have signed agreements that they will "work with borrowers to modify those loans or at least notify borrowers several months in advance of when their loans will reset." Gov. Strickland hailed the agreements as "historic" and said they "will reduce foreclosures in Ohio and bring stability to the families and communities affected by this crisis."

However, the agreements are "non-binding" and the companies' obligations appear to be qualified, as least if the description in the press are accurate (the lenders will "try" to modify mortgages and make "good-faith efforts" to contact borrowers). The agreements appear to consist of generalized goals that the companies will decide how to implement.

I'll be interested to hear what Bill Callahan has to say about these compacts, but they seem too vague and watered-down to do much good, especially since many of these subprime mortgage lenders have previously proclaimed that they were assisting borrowers when in fact they were not. I think the state still needs to be investigating the causes of the mortage meltdown and taking appropriate legal action against the perpetrators, not relying on these non-binding agreements.

Sponsored Post

The Views Expressed In Reader-Contributed Comments, Forums And Posts Are Not Necessarily Those Of OhioDaily Or Its Management.