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

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!


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.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Read or heard:

OH-01 - The campaign of State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) has scheduled phone-banking for 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday (4/9) at Campaign HQ, 3741 Glenmore Avenue in Cheviot. Space is limited to please RSVP to Aryeh Alex at field-at-driehaus2008-dot-com or (513) 662-0205.

OH-03 - Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) joined organized labor and the United Way today to form a human chain in order to unload a large shipment of food to the AFL/CIO Food Pantry in Dayton, which helps thousands of working families in the Miami Valley. The food pantry has been hit hard recently as a result of thousands of manufacturing jobs being lost in the Dayton area. “Under the leadership of George Bush and Mike Turner, we’ve lost 250,000 American jobs so far in 2008, on top of all we’ve already lost, especially here in Ohio,” said Mitakides in a press release. “In Congress, I will fight to renew our commitment to the middle class by punishing companies who ship our jobs overseas, not rewarding them, and by giving tax breaks to working families and small businesses.” *** Mitakides will attend the Opening Day Party for Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. today at Democratic Headquarters, 131 S. Wilkinson St. in Dayton, and an Evening Reception for Recorder Willis Blackshear from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. tomorrow at The Color of Energy Art Gallery at 16 Brown Street in the Oregon District (Behind Pacchia). Details on the Montgomery County Democratic Party web site.

OH-04 - Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) has endorsed the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, joining Bill O'Neill, Jane Mitakides, and about fifty other Congressional challengers around the country.

OH-06 - There is an interesting piece about the Blue Dog Coalition in CQ Politics today. Once a splinter group with Southern populist roots, it now has strong ties to K Street, has raised more than any of the other House caucuses so far this year, and has a track record of successfully challenging House leadership on key legislation, especially as it affects business. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St.Clairsville) is a member, along with fellow Appalachian region first-termer Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), and they each received $10,000 from the Blue Dog PAC last spring. In our interview, Jane Mitakides said she was comfortable with being described as a Blue Dog based on her fiscal conservatism, but there is no guarantee she could get in if she is elected. The article says that membership is capped at 47, and for that reason Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) was unable to join.

OH-11 - The Plain Dealer reports that the Lewis Engineers and Scientists Ass'n, which is a union at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, is concerned because cancer has been diagnosed in about 40 of the 100 workers on the Developmental Engineering Building's third floor during the past three or four years. Contacted by the union, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) says he "takes the matter very seriously" and his staff will question Glenn officials and examine relevant documents.

OH-12 - David Robinson (D-Columbus) will hold a second campaign organizational meeting on Saturday (4/12) at 2:00 p.m. at the The Real Living University Training Center, 773 Brooksedge Plaza Drive in Westerville. His Campaign Corps is being organized into groups to work on for Finance, Grassroots, Media, Policy, etc. Robinson will give a briefing on the primary, the district, and plans for the general election. Details on the campaign site.

OH-16 - Blogger ohio06win at Ohio 15th District has a very good post today skewering State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), the bank lobbyist, over his role as a voting Executive Committee member of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, described by Ralph Nader on CommonDreams.org as a "cozy club" where "insurance lobbyists and the public officials they control meet without being bothered by the inefficiencies of democratic government."

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) will be at the Grand Opening Ceremony for ABC Manufacturing, which he helped bring to the district, at 1:00 p.m. today (4/7) at 210 13th Street in Malta. The event is open to the public.

McCain Debates McCain on the Economy

This is worth a visit. It's the DNC's second installment of McCain vs. McCain on major issues facing the county. This time he argue with himself on the Bush tax cuts, whether we are in a recession, and whether he knows what he is talking about when it comes to the economy. Hilarious.

OH-14: O'Neill (D) Has Questions for Gen. Petraeus- Video

Challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), a Vietnam veteran and a supporter of the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, has some questions for Gen. David Petraeus when he testifies before Congress about conditions in Iraq:

I'd like to know where Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) stands on Iraq now that the additional troops sent over for the surge aren't coming out on schedule and the situation on the ground is deteriorating, with the U.S. military getting drawn into the intra-Shia conflict between al-Maliki and al-Sadr. He's always tried to portray himself as a moderate, but he has consistently backed up the Bush administration on its endless war when push comes to shove.

UPDATE: A reader reminded me about LaTourette's comment last August that the Iraq war would be over by November:

“I think the war will be over [by the election],” LaTourette said. “We will see a drawdown in troops. [Bush] won’t leave office with this thing going on.”

Is that what he thinks now? If not, does he admit that the surge is NOT working?

AG Marc Dann to Speak on Predatory Lending Debacle in Cleveland 4/14

04/14/2008 - 4:00pm
04/14/2008 - 5:00pm

Attorney General Marc Dann to discuss "The Predatory
Lending Debacle, and What the State Is Doing to Stop It”
at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

April 14; 4:00 p.m.
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Moot Court Room

In recent years, Cleveland has had the dubious distinction of leading the country in the foreclosure epidemic that has spared few American cities. Within Cuyahoga County, Cleveland has been especially hard hit, as families on both sides of the Cuyahoga River have been forced to walk away from their homes. In Cleveland’s poorer neighborhoods, the sites of boarded-up and vandalized houses, crime and homelessness are on the rise. Shuttered homes line the streets of the older, inner-inner-ring suburbs as well.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann will discuss the state’s foreclosure crisis in a free public lecture, “The Predatory Lending Debacle, and What the State Is Doing to Stop It," on April 14 at 4:00 p.m. at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law on East 18th and Euclid Avenue. There will be an opportunity for members of the audience to question the Attorney General following his presentation, and a reception will follow the event.

Attorney General Dann is appearing as a guest of the law school’s Democratic Law Organization (D-LO).

Marc Dann, a former Ohio Democratic State Senator, was elected Ohio Attorney General in November 2006. In the office of Attorney General, he serves as an advocate of the people of Ohio and its institutions.

Since his inauguration in January 2007, he has been diligent in his efforts to protect homeowners from exploitation by unscrupulous mortgage lenders. During his years in the Ohio Senate, Mr. Dann played a critical role in the investigation of Coingate, the scandal surrounding the investment of $50 million by the Bureau of Workers Compensation in rare coins peddled by Tom Noe, a long-time Republican fundraiser.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Communiques from the campaign trail:

OH-04 - Here's a photo of Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) on the campaign trail in Hancock County:

The picture is from the Ohio AFL/CIO Flickr account with this notation:
Mike Carroll, member of USW 169 in Mansfield and a lifelong resident of Richland County, is running against Jim Jordan in Ohio's fourth Congressional District. Republican Jim Jordan has a solid record of voting against the middle class.

Mike says he's running because his district hasn't had a working class representative who would put working families' interests at heart in a very long time. "For too long we've elected professional politicians who aren't in touch with regular people's issues," he said.

OH-15 - Blogger Ohio06Win notes today that Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) has raised 68% of her contributions from individuals, while opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers has raised only 44% from individuals. Also noted recently is former bank lobbyist Stivers' increasingly isolated position in maintaining that Ohio should remain one of only two states in the country to exempt the mortgage industry from the Consumer Sales Practices Act. *** This article in The Other Paper attributes Stivers' equivocation over S.B. 305, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, to fear of the reaction by Christian conservatives:

In any other year, supporters would be confident about winning over Columbus’s Steve Stivers, one of the few Republicans to oppose the Defense of Marriage Bill in 2003.

But Stivers is in the middle of what promises to be a bruising campaign to replace his fellow Republican Deborah Pryce in Congress. Although Stivers’s opponent, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, has endorsed SB 303—and Pryce has cosponsored a similar bill in the U.S. House—Stivers has no desire to anger conservative Christians in the 15th Congressional District.

OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is touring the Rolls-Royce Fuel Systems facility in North Canton with Gov. Ted Strickland (D) at 2:00 p.m. today. Lt Gov. Lee Fisher (D) recently announced that Roll-Royce, a specialist in fuel cell research and production, will get a $1 million Third Frontier grant. "Another 80,000 jobs were lost in March and the unemployment rates increased for the third straight month in a row," Boccieri commented in a statement. "For too long our area has witnessed the mass exodus of jobs firsthand. I applaud Governor Strickland's efforts to stimulate the Ohio economy by working with the business community to keep good paying jobs here. Companies like Rolls-Royce also deserve credit for seeking creative solutions to providing jobs and education for our workforce in Ohio."

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) got some good press in the Zanesville Times Recorder for introducing a bill to combat regional variances in disability pay for veterans by requiring the VA to collect and monitor regional data on disability ratings, conduct reviews and audits of the rating system, submit an annual report to Congress, and assign identification codes to all rating adjudications. *** Just for fun, here is a zinger of a comment left by Fleetwood85, self-described as a moderate, on a short post praising challenger Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon) at PoliticalBase.com:

Zack Space will do and has done more in Congress than Fred Dailey could ever even conceive. Zack Space represents the ever-changing, youthful, energetic, hard-working face of today's congress. I grew up in Mount Vernon and even had Fred's wife Rita as my English teacher. The woman was neurotic and consumed with her daughter's wedding, often ignoring the needs and concerns of the teenagers she was supposed to teach. Also, Since when did serving as the Director of the Department of Agriculture position someone for a legislative seat in the United State House of Representatives? Fred's ideas will keep the 18th district down and out, not improve it. Keep the old guys with narrow minds and antiquated ideas OUT of congress.

OH-08: YDS Interview with Nick Von Stein

Continuing with the tradition of Yellow Dog Sammy interviews with exciting progressive candidates in Ohio, here is my interview with U.S. Air Force veteran, recent America Votes organizer, and political science graduate student Nick Von Stein (D-Mason), carrying the Democratic banner in the 8th Ohio Congressional District against the flawlessly suntanned House Minority Leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester).

YDS: So, talking to Nick Von Stein, who is the Democratic candidate in the 8th Ohio Congressional District. Nice to talk to you!

NVS: Sure, nice to talk to you too.

YDS: Can you talk for a bit about how you first became interested in politics.

NVS: That goes pretty far back! Probably one of the first things I remember about politics is that my mom bought me the picture book, "Life in Camelot." It depicts John and Jacqueline Kennedy and their family and a lot of their experiences. It had a pretty big impact on me. My mom was a big Kennedy fan and she was influenced by that era.

My dad - it's pretty funny, my parents are pretty much on opposite sides of the spectrum. My mom is a moderate Democrat, my father is fairly conservative, and also very opinionated as well. I remember I used to talk to him about who might run for president, and was he "fair tax" or "flat tax." He thought that Jack Kemp should run for president.

Politics always just stood out for me, and also I always felt that I had a call to do public service. It's kind of the reason that I joined the military, and why I'm seeking to do what I do.

YDS: Have you always identified yourself as a Democrat?

NVS: Yes. It was hard because, like I said, my parents were on opposite sides of the fence. But even when they had those student votes in high school I always voted for the Democrat.

I was in the military for four years. And that is a very different culture, it is fairly conservative. So it was hard, to be one of the only people, and to be constantly arguing with your supervisors about politics, and to be ganged up on.

OH House-46: Help Darlene Dunn Kick-Start Her Campaign

Today is the cut-off for the Post-Primary Election Campaign Finance Report for Ohio House candidates, and I have written previously about the importance of making donations to Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in key targeted races before midnight tonight. These candidates need to report positive numbers in order to generate momentum and set a benchmark for fundraising and other support as their campaigns go forward. And remember, you can take a credit of $50.00 ($100.00 for married couples filing jointly) on next year's state income tax return for donations that you make now, so it basically costs you nothing.

Attorney Darlene Dunn (D-Sylvania Twp) is another promising candidates in a key swing district who deserves our support. I published an introductory interview with Ms. Dunn in January after meeting her at RootsCamp, and recently described her race against newly appointed State Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) in my roundup of top races. She now has an online donation link and I encourage readers to join me in supporting her.

Ms. Dunn ran a competitive race for this seat previously and is committed to winning and helping to get the district's economy back on track, as she indicates in this message today:

It is imperative that we revitalize Ohio's economy. Our region traditionally had a primary concentration in manufacturing especially in automobile assembly and parts production. We have been hit hard with layoffs and plant closings. In Northwest Ohio we are attempting to reinvent our area as an emerging market for solar energy. Our area includes First Solar which is the world's largest producer of thin film solar panels and the University of Toledo's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator. This is a start but I will work to bring jobs to our area by promoting wind power, specifically by manufacturing wind turbines in our area. The auto industry has left us a skilled workforce who with some retraining are able and wanting to work. We also have many closed plants and facilities ripe to reopen as "clean energy" plants.

Sen. Brown Tries to Salvage Some Good From Watered-Down Foreclosure Bill

All February the GOP filibustered efforts in the U.S. Senate to assist homeowners at risk. Now they've abandoned that tactic, but they've succeeded in negotiating concessions that resulted in the pending Dodd-Shelby substitute amendment. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich derides this diluted measure as "something Herbert Hoover would have been proud of," principally because it "leaves out the most important things distressed homeowners need" – (1) changing bankruptcy law so borrowers have enough bargaining power to get refinanced, and (2) letting the Federal Housing Administration guarantee the refinanced loans if lenders reduce the amounts the borrowers owe to reflect the reduced home values.

In a press conference call yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) conceded that the bankruptcy provision now at risk is a critical piece of the puzzle as far as providing real relief to homeowners in danger. However, he is not letting this legislation slip through without at least trying to get something good out of it.

Today Sen. Brown's office announced that he has joined up with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to propose a change to the Dodd-Shelby amendment that would double the funding for mortgage counselors that assist borrowers at risk of losing their homes, from $100 million to $200 million. The need for this funding is demonstrated by the fate of $180 million for such counseling allocated by the the Omnibus Appropriations bill earlier this year:

Demand for counseling services was so high that NeighborWorks, the group charged with managing the funds, received applications for $340 million in grants to combat the foreclosure crisis in the two weeks applications were available. Of the funds approved by Congress, $130 million was awarded to counseling groups within sixty days of enactment. The remainder of the appropriation is being held by NeighborWorks as an emergency fund for the massive wave of foreclosures expected to hit this summer, which means they have no additional funds to award to communities struggling today. If Congress provides additional foreclosure prevention funding, NeighborWorks can award counselors with much needed funding now and also this summer, reaching hundreds of thousands of additional homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.

It isn't a huge improvement, but everything that can be done to deal with the avalanche of foreclosures across the country helps.

"Housing counseling can help thousands of families stuck in bad subprime loans," said Sen. Brown in the press release. "These are middle class families, and we need to help keep them in their homes. Housing counseling is proven, it works, and we need to fund it."

UPDATE: Bill Callahan has more, including a joint statement by concerned organizations objecting to the compromise bill, and linking Sen. George Voinovich's praise for the bad bill to campaign contributions he receives from banking and mortgage industry interests.

Ohio Independents Are Aligned with Democrats on the Issues

Carl Weiser wrote on Politics Extra today that Tuesday's Quinnipiac poll has interesting numbers on race (more Ohioans say that race helps Obama than say it hurts him), Bush's approval rating (only 27%), and Iraq (59% think it was the wrong thing to do).

Looking over the crosstabs in response to Weiser's post, the thing that strikes me is how consistently independents align with Democrats. Take a look at these responses:

Terrorism is the most important issue:
1% Dem
4% Ind
18% Rep

Going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do:
84% Dem
59% Ind
20% Rep

Want withdrawal or timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq:
90% Dem
70% Ind
35% Rep

It is government's responsibility to make sure everyone has adequate health-care:
83% Dem
60% Ind
33% Rep

Respondent's family is best described as falling behind or holding steady (i.e., not getting ahead):
89% Dem
87% Ind
72% Rep

Disapprove Bush's job performance:
92% Dem
72% Ind
27% Rep

It's like the independents are all undeclared Democrats.

This all appears to confirm that once again, if the election is about the issues then the Democrats must win. There are more independent voters than registered voters of either party, and they are strongly in agreement with Democrats. Looking at it another way, Democrats' views on vital issues like Iraq and health care are in fact mainstream views, and Republicans are the ones who are out of step.

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