Constitutional Scholars Concerned About Trump’s Court Pick; Democrats Demand #ExtremeVetting
This week three constitutional scholars expressed concerns over President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch. Immigration lawyer David Leopold told reporters at a news conference, “Courtrooms in this country are the guardians of Democracy.’’ Leopold represents Dr. Suha Abushamma, an Internal Medicine resident at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, who is suing Trump over his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days.
Cincinnati-based lawyer Jennifer Branch’s specialty includes civil rights and women’s reproductive rights. She noted that Judge Gorsuch has twice ruled against birth control access and was nominated by a President who vowed to only appoint justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In 2013, Gorsuch joined an appeals court ruling that the Obama administration could not require Hobby Lobby – a Christian-owned craft store – to include birth control in their employee health care plans. This moved corporate rights from just “free speech” or First Amendment Rights (Citizen United v. FEC) to Freedom of Religion thus circumventing the rights of actual human beings, the employees of Hobby Lobby.
For more information on Judge Gorsuch’s controversial statements and rulings, check out this article from Plunderbund.
To see why U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will vote against Judge Gorsuch’s appointment to the highest court and go-along, get-along Sen. Rob Portman will support him, visit The Columbus Dispatch for details.
Union Proposes Plan to Save State $4.4 Million on Food Service Contract
As prison food service vendor Aramark has struggled with ways to keep maggots out of its food and stop employees from smuggling contraband inside to inmates, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) has a solution: Let the union handle the contract and do so at a lower cost.
The union sent the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction a new proposal – its third – which would save the state $4.4 million annually. The proposal includes sanitation training and would return 39 employees to their jobs.
Governor John Kasich is looking for ways save money. Here’s one he needs to examine.
Even Some GOP Leaders Wary of Picking Another Losing Fight With Labor; Congress Still Eyeing Assaults on Workers
On Wednesday, both Democratic and Republican state legislative leaders said that Ohio voters made their views clear on unions in 2011 when voters repealed Senate Bill 5.
Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni said, “It wasn’t just union people fighting the bill – it was Ohioans fighting the bill because they understand the negative implications of a piece of legislation like that.”
According to cleveland.com, Rep. Ryan Smith, a Republican, said Right-to-Work is one of those “thorny issues” they’ll likely discuss as a caucus. He further stated that Right-to-Work is an issue his fellow Republican “care deeply about, along with the heartbeat bill and other issues that are controversial.”
Meanwhile in the swamp, Congressional Republicans discussed a plan to institute Right-to-Work policies in the entire country, hoping to deliver a severe blow to the labor movement and lower wages for workers.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump said. “I love the right to work, it is better for the people. You are not paying the big fees to the unions.”
Kasich’s Budget Favors Tax Cuts for Rich Over Investments in Education, Kids and Help For Addicts
Groundhogs day came early this week, as Governor Kasich released his two-year state budget with many of the same proposals we’ve seen in past spending plans. While the wealthy would again see tax cuts, little is proposed to help Ohio lose its spot as the national leader in opioid overdose deaths, lower our shamefully high infant mortality rate or provide more stable funding for education.
Policy Matters Ohio analyzes how the proposed tax cuts could be better spent in investments in education, workers and health care.
At the beginning of the month, Kasich announced his intention to include congressional redistricting reform in his state budget bill. However, the state budget was introduced without a fix for gerrymandering.
On Sunday, the Dayton Daily News’ Lynn Hulsey provided an overview of the problem with manipulated congressional districts and the challenge for reformers and the Canton Repository highlighted the need for reform:
“Ohioans have shown appetite for such changes – not because they’re good for one party or another, but because they’re best for democracy. We hope state lawmakers see it that way, too, and act to reform how congressional districts are drawn ahead of 2021.”
Ohio House Speaker under Fire for Mystery Rent Payments to Mega GOP Donor
According to the Dayton Daily Newspaper, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has been living large. His luxury condo in downtown Columbus might be subsidized by GOP-donor Virginia “Ginni” Ragan. While not a lobbyist, Ragan has donated or hosted fundraisers yielding over a million dollars for her pet causes. At question here is whether Rosenberg is paying fair market value for the Columbus condo he rents from Ragan. When not in Columbus, Rosenberger lives at home with his mom and dad.
Columbus Cops Revisiting Crowd Control Tactics After Protestors Get Pepper Sprayed
On Monday, citizens exercised their constitutional right to protest and the Columbus police used pepper spray to clear a downtown intersection blocked by a crowd unhappy with Trump’s policies. No arrests were made, but several ambulances were called to the scene to treat the victims.
The protesters were part of a group of more than 2,000 who held a peaceful gathering earlier in the night at the Statehouse. Social media captured the event and injuries, prompting city officials to announce a re-examination of its crowd control policies.
Sherrod Brown Leads Dem Boycott to Stall Trump’s Questionable Cabinet Picks
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown led a boycott of the confirmation hearings of both Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price of Georgia and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.
Brown noted that the boycott was not a delay tactic, but rather about accountability. His boycott came amid new revelations that Mnuchin lied to the Senate Finance Committee about foreclosure practices used during the days he served as executive officer of OneWest Bank, known for its unethical and aggressive foreclosure practices.
Mnuchin denied that the lender used “robo-signing,” the practice in which a mortgage company signs hundreds of foreclosures, swearing they have scrutinized the documents as required by law but they have not in fact done so.
The Columbus Dispatch exposed the lies and introduced us to some of the lender’s victims:
“OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents,” Mnuchin wrote in response to questions from individual senators, “and as the only bank to successfully complete the Independent Foreclosure Review required by federal banking regulators to investigate allegations of ‘robo-signing,’ I am proud of our institution’s extremely low error rate.”
Carla Duncan, a social worker from Cleveland Heights, was snared by OneWest’s robo-signing machinery.
On her way out of town for a short trip in 2010, Duncan stopped by her home to get her mail and found a note from a field inspector for her mortgage company saying that her house was vacant and was going to be boarded up.
“It wasn’t vacant. I was living there,” Duncan said. “There were curtains on the windows. The radio was playing and the dog was there.”
What Duncan didn’t know at the time was that OneWest had begun foreclosure proceedings on her three-bedroom home even though she was up-to-date on her payments. OneWest refused to accept a loan modification approved by a previous lender that had been purchased by OneWest, and it wanted to substantially increase Duncan’s interest rate and monthly payment and add late fees. The company also put a lock box on a separate rental property she owned in Cleveland.
After hiring former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, waging a five-year court battle and filing personal bankruptcy, Duncan was finally able to get the foreclosures dismissed and keep her home and rental property. She said the experience was devastating.
Despite the lies, Republicans used a procedural maneuver to approve Mnuchin and Price and send the nominations to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Youngstown Leaders Roll Out Red, White and Blue Carpet to Refugees from Syria, Congo
A White House executive order placing a temporary ban on immigration of people from seven mostly Muslim countries is not stopping plans by a charity to resettle 50 refugees in Youngstown, according to the Diocese of Youngstown.
“Welcoming immigrants and refugees is part of being Catholic and reflects the biblical tradition to welcome the stranger that is embraced by many faiths,” according to a statement from the Diocese.
Youngstown Mayor John McNally has expressed a willingness to investigate the possibility of bringing the refugees to the city.
An increasingly activist Pope Francis has echoed these sentiments on twitter, saying:
FROM THE SWAMP
Exxon CEO Tillerson Now Officially Trump’s Secretary of State
Concerns linger both over Rex Tillerson’s ability to navigate foreign policy, how his previous experience managing a multi-billion-dollar oil firm will influence him, and his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship from Russia in 2013.
No Mention of Jews During Holocaust Remembrance
While commemorating the Holocaust, Donald Trump neglected to mention a critical component: the Jewish people. This prompted the Holocaust Museum to issue the following statement:
“The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators … Nazi ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus on the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core. Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy. As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.’”
Puzder Hasn’t Shared Plan to Divest From Business Conflicts
Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder’s hearing has been postponed four times now because of delays with his ethics review and holdups with other nominees.
Potential Cabinet members must submit paperwork that compiles general background information and some financial details at least five days before their hearings.
Puzder began working on his ethics paperwork weeks ago but encountered complications because of his relationships with privately held corporations. The Washington Post has details.
Even Big Charter Supporters Don’t Support DeVos
Billionaire charter school advocate Eli Broad urged Senate leaders to oppose Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos. Broad listed his concerns and stated that he believes she is “unprepared and unqualified for the position.”
Broad’s opposition to DeVos, a fellow billionaire, comes as she was accused of plagiarizing written answers provided for her confirmation process. She could not answer basic questions about education policy.
As became manifestly clear in DeVos’ confirmation hearing, she has no qualifications even remotely suited to the job.
Portman has a rare opportunity to show that he will be an independent thinker, not a party hack, and to save the country from a terrible choice.
Organizer Of The Year -Donald Trump
As #Resistance grows toward Donald Trump’s mean-spirited, hurtful, and downright illegal policies, everyday citizens are mobilizing and taking to streets in Dayton, airports across America, students on college campus and interfaith leaders at houses of worship to stand up for the values we as Americans believe in.
Please join in and check out what’s happening this week here.
PROGRESSIVE ACTION CALENDAR ALERTS
Saturday, Feb. 4th
No DAPL Cleveland Rally
Sunday, Feb 5th
The Resistance: Miami Valley Action Meeting
Wednesday, Feb. 8th
Roe Together – Columbus Activist Bootcamp
Thursday, Feb. 9th
Cincinnati Postcard Writing Party