GOP Floats Plan to Limit Russian Probe; Trump Boasts of Crowd Size While Touring Harvey Damage
While touring the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey, President Donald Trump wore everyone’s go-to disaster-wear: a hat he sells on his 2020 campaign site. Trump began his speech boasting about crowd sizes and TV ratings.
“What a crowd, what a turnout,’’ Trump told hundreds of spectators, including many who had just lost everything they own.
But Trump stayed dry and far away from the flooding when he met with state and local officials and emergency personnel in Corpus Christi and Austin.
Back at the swamp, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment to limit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
In and out of the swamp, Americans are growing impatient with Trump’s unpresidential antics. According to a recent poll, 25 percent of American adults say they have “mixed feelings” about Trump’s behavior in office and just 16 percent “like” it. Only about 1 in 6 voters say they like the way Trump has conducted himself as president.
After Brief Celebration, Referendum on the Q in Cleveland Could Die After All
Earlier this week, the Cleveland Cavaliers said that the Q Deal was officially off the table after faith and community leaders had filed a referendum on the deal and the Supreme Court forced the city to place the issue on the ballot. Activists insisted there was not enough of a community benefit to justify the large amount of tax dollars that would be invested in the project.
Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert and his biz partner, Penn National Gaming, ponied up $50 million to buy themselves a constitutional monopoly for a casino, but poor Dan insisted he could not scrape together money for Q renovations and the referendum had him hinting that the Cavs might have to find a new home – or new owner.
But the celebration by referendum organizers was short lived.
In a stunning reversal, the Greater Cleveland Congregations withdrew the petition from the ballot after secret negotiations with Cuyahoga County that give no concrete financial commitment on a further community benefit agreement.
Things are still up in the air. City Council President Kevin Kelley told Cleveland.com that he does not consider the referendum off the November ballot unless at least three of the five petitioners request that the petitions be withdrawn in writing and submitted to the clerk of City Council.
Kasich’s Plan to Stabilize Healthcare Markets Helps Keep Him in National Spotlight
At a time when Americans want to see bipartisan solutions rather than congressional gridlock, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are working together on health care reform. The governors released a joint plan, titled “Blueprint for Stronger Health Insurance Markets,” to Congressional leaders.
The letter states that “Continuing uncertainty about the direction of federal policy is driving up premiums, eliminating competition and leaving consumers with fewer choices.”
Kasich, a Republican, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, call for keeping the individual health insurance mandate as a way to keep healthy people enrolled in coverage.
In anticipation of the release of this plan, and to keep his presidential aspirations viable, Kasich has been appearing on national TV.
White Supremacist from Ohio Charged With Charlottesville Beating
Earlier this week, 18-year-old white supremacist Daniel Borden from Ohio was charged with malicious wounding for attacking African American anti-racist protester Deandre Harris in Charlottesville.
Photos and video show several white supremacists punching, kicking and beating Harris with large metal poles. Read the full story here.
Sponsor of Failing Charter School Knows How, Shows How, to Game the System
The Ohio Council of Community Schools (OCCS), a prominent charter school sponsor, will avoid potential penalties for the failing grades of its schools due to a special exemption in state law.
The OCCS had partnered with the University of Toledo to create and oversee charter schools for the past 15 years. After receiving failing grades, the council simply severed its relationship with the university and is moving forward with a clean slate as a charter school sponsor on its own.
This loophole, among others, is legal in Ohio – a state with a history of allowing chronically failing charter schools to write weak charter oversight laws.
ECOT’s Sponsor Must Re-Pay Money Too
The sponsor of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) has to repay its share of overpayments from the state.
The Ohio Department of Education says the school was overpaid because it inflated its attendance, an accusation the school denies and is challenging before the Ohio Supreme Court.
Those overpayments trickled down to several other organizations – including ECOT sponsor, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West. The sponsor gets paid a percentage of ECOT’s revenue. The sponsor repayments are the latest sign that ECOT owner Bill Lager’s lavish campaign contributions aren’t nearly as effective as they used to be.
Despite Safety, Environmental Concerns Feds Approve 255-Mile Pipeline that Will Run Through Ohio
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given final approval to the Nexus natural gas pipeline, which will cover 255 miles of Ohio and the southeastern portion of Michigan and into Canada.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held only one public meeting before issuing Nexus Pipeline’s permit, which will allow it to drill under Ohio streams and wetlands, reports the Sierra Club.
If there is one thing that we have learned about pipelines this summer, it is that they can create massive damage to our environment – even before they are put into service transporting fracked gas.
Cuyahoga County Democrats Get a New Leader: Shontel Brown
Cuyahoga County Democrats made a groundbreaking choice for their new chair by electing Shontel M. Brown. Brown, an African-American female, is an energetic leader with a background in business.
The Cuyahoga County Democrats have come a long way since the rule of boss Jimmy Dimora, who is serving a 28-year sentence on corruption charges. Read more at Plunderbund.
Save My Care Bus Keeps Rolling Through Ohio
After successful stops in Cincinnati and Dayton last week, the #SaveMyCare bus made a stop in Cleveland for doctors, consumers and faith leaders to continue to advocate for quality health care.
See more details here.
Looking Ahead to 2018: Jobs, Ethics and Josh Mandel’s Latest Dog Whistling
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton rolled out a plan to create a new state agency aimed at spurring the creation of good-paying jobs. She calls it the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and says it would work with other state agencies, educational institutions and the business community to “streamline efforts and cut red-tape when necessary,” reports the Columbus Dispatch.
One of her 2018 primary competitors, State Senator Joe Schiavoni, announced his job growth plan that would, among other things, create a $2,000 income tax credit for businesses that hire and employ veterans. The tax credit increases to $2,500 for businesses that hire disabled veterans.
Republicans in Congress are pressuring Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rich Cordray to declare his intention to either remain on the job until his five-year term expires or resign to run for Ohio governor. A dark money entity has stepped up digital ads that question Cordray’s integrity – a sign the GOP views him as a serious threat and wants to sully his good reputation early.
Also making some news this week, Reality TV Host Jerry Springer is still considering running for Ohio governor. To be eligible, Springer would have to leave Florida where he’s been living and re-establish his Ohio residency.
Need help keeping track of the list of gubernatorial candidates? Read this Columbus Monthly article to keep track of the candidates, as well as who would play them in a Hollywood movie.
Former Congressman Zack Space made it official this week and announced his campaign for Ohio Auditor through a series of stops across southern Ohio. Space will likely face Republican Keith Faber in November 2018.
In the U.S. Senate race, Josh Mandel announced a new faith outreach team whose first goal is to repeal a federal law prohibiting religious organizations and other charitable groups from backing political candidates. This would mean that nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, including churches, universities and many foundations, could endorse political candidates.