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This Week In Wealth Distribution:
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of Trumpcare shows seniors who make the least would pay the most for healthcare.
Cleveland.com laid out how President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would impact Ohioans. The proposed budget includes steep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would cut the program to clean up Lake Erie. Trump’s proposal includes eliminating Community Development Block Grants which help fund things like Meals on Wheels.
In the GOP Drunk Tank: Wes Retherford, Butler County State Rep., Nick Conley, Driver for LG Mary Taylor
Earlier this week, after celebrating with fellow GOP faithful at an area Lincoln Day Dinner, State Rep. Wes Retherford was found drunk in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot with a loaded gun on his front seat.
This follows seven car accidents and 13 traffic tickets since 2000, some for speed in excess of 80 mph. Retherford was also asked to remove a liquor cabinet from his taxpayer-funded public office.
In 2016, Retherford who describes his arrest as an “unfortunate hiccup,” was rated the least engaged and among the least effective members of the Ohio General Assembly by his peers. Given all of this, it would seem that a more competitive district would improve the quality of representation in the Statehouse and that the people of Butler County deserve better.
Separately, Nick Conley, one of Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s drivers, was removed for being under the influence of alcohol during work hours and the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Taylor has a record turnover rate amongst her staff. This raises questions about her management abilities as she gears up to run for governor.
Trumpcare Would Hurt Kids, Spike Infant Mortality and Cause More Demand for Morgue Space
In his plea to lawmakers to leave Medicaid intact, Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Dr. Steve Allen shared some statistics regarding Medicaid in Ohio and across the country.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital created a unique partnership with Medicaid Managed Care Plans in Ohio to cover 330,000 children in the central and southern parts of the state. This program could be in jeopardy with any major structural change to the Medicaid program. And ultimately lead to a reduction in healthcare coverage for kids.
But Trumpcare isn’t just bad for kids. Medicaid funding provides critical addiction treatment which is much needed in a state like Ohio, ground zero of the current opioid epidemic. As Ohio overdose deaths continue to rise, more and more coroners are using mobile storage units to handle the surge in corpses.
What happens if the funding for addiction services – which barely scratches the surface of the opioid crisis – is gone?
Both Sides Prepare for a Fight Over Ohio’s Green Energy Industry Standards
Ohio House Republicans are looking to replace green energy standards with “goals,” after Governor John Kasich vetoed a freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy benchmarks. Kasich cited market competition as a reason to keep these standards in place.
A report from the right-wing Buckeye Institute argues that Ohio could lose more than 134,000 jobs and $15.5 billion in gross domestic product in the next ten years if the renewable standards are not repealed.
Both sides debate the issue here.
Now There Are Three Women Running for Ohio Governor: Connie Pillich Announces
Former State Representative and Air Force veteran Connie Pillich announced her campaign to run for governor earlier this week. In a statement recorded at the Women’s March in January, Pillich says:
“We cannot be afraid to stand up for our values. We believe individual liberty and shared responsibility lead to equal opportunity. We need new, progressive, and unflinching leadership to improve our schools, rebuild our infrastructure, [and] bring back industry and the jobs that can support a family.”
Pillich joins former Congresswoman Betty Sutton and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor as the third female candidate running for Governor of Ohio.
Two Years after Tamir Rice’s Death, Dispatcher who Handled Case Gets 8-Day Suspension
More than two years after an officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a police dispatcher was suspended for eight days for failing to relay a citizen’s 911 report that Rice was “probably a juvenile” and that his gun was “probably fake.” Neglecting to share both details arguably contributed to Tamir’s death.
Subodh Chandra, attorney for the family, said in a statement:
“Eight days for gross negligence resulting in the death of a 12-year-old boy. How pathetic is that?”
Democracy Could Get a Big Boost If Ohio Takes Up Congressional Redistricting Reform
The Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition which includes ProgressOhio is preparing for a signature-gathering effort and ballot campaign to create a less partisan process for drawing congressional districts.
Republicans drew the current congressional map in 2011, and the GOP has controlled 12 of 16 seats ever since. All of the congressional districts are uncompetitive. In 2016, when the average margin of victory for Ohio congressional races was 36.3 points.
Since Ohio is home to nearly even percentages of Republicans and Democrats, a fairer system of designing districts would likely result in a map that reflects Ohio’s swing state status.
Voters overwhelmingly approved reforms to Ohio’s state legislative redistricting process in 2015.
David Daley, former editor-in-chief of Salon who has written a book on gerrymandering across the country, said:
“Ohio is certainly one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, both in its legislature and congressional districts.”
For example, Rep. Pat Tiberi’s 12th Congressional District veers from Mansfield southwestwardly to Franklin County’s northern suburbs, then as far east as Zanesville.
Rather than striving to keep counties and neighborhoods intact, the congressional map splits county boundaries 54 times. Seven counties are carved up among three or more districts, explains former State Representative Mike Curtin.
More competitive districts would encourage better candidates to run for office, and better accountability to avoid the “Retherford situation.”
Last month former Governor and Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger released a video connecting gerrymandering to inability to vote out members of Congress. The Govinator urged an end to gerrymandering by comparing the popularity of Congress unfavorably to herpes, hemorrhoids and the band Nickelback.
Once a supporter of more bipartisan reform, State Sen. Frank LaRose now favors a watered-down proposal that the Akron Beacon Journal called “at best, misguided. At worst, it appears politically motivated.”
LaRose is a likely candidate for secretary of state next year and introduced his weak proposal the same day State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda announced her candidacy for the same office.
Mark Weaver Gets Schooled on the Facts of Ohio’s Charter School Scandal
Our pals at Plunderbund were kind enough to run ProgressOhio’s blog post on noted charter school apologist Mark Weaver and his dirty tricks:
The New York Times outed one of Columbus consultant Mark Weaver’s shady pro-charter school groups more than five years ago.
Like so many of the online charter chains, The Times found that K12 Schools did a terrible job of educating kids — but a magnificent job of enriching investors. It also found a pattern of smarmy tactics employed to try and discredit champions of charter school reform.
One such champion: Ohio legislator Stephen Dyer.
The Times has the details:
Former State Representative Stephen Dyer became suspicious when members of the benignly named organization My School, My Choice paraded through his northeastern Ohio district carrying signs attacking him: “Why Won’t Rep. Stephen Dyer let parents choose the best education for their kids?”
The protest was prompted by questions Mr. Dyer had raised over the state’s financing formula for charter and online schools. The group describes itself as a coalition of parents, teachers and employees of the schools. But Mr. Dyer said that his wife questioned the people carrying the signs and found out they were paid temp agency workers.
The Times traced My School, My Choice to Mark Weaver.
When Steve Dyer lost a tough re-election, Ohio taxpayers lost a tough champion. To this day, Steve believes that Weaver and his fake group played a big role in his defeat.
My School, My Choice re-appeared this week. ProgressOhio is its latest target.
You can read the rest of the piece here:
JobsOhio’s Weak Performance Yields Big Paychecks for Executives
The president of JobsOhio, the now privatized Department of Development, was paid $445,036 last year. JobsOhio pays six-figure salaries for 27 of the 83 positions listed on its 2016 employee salary report. Nine of those employees make in excess of $200,000 a year, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
As a reminder, these JobsOhio salaries top earnings for both the Governor of Ohio and the President of the United States.
ProgressOhio’s own Sandy Theis responded:
“Since JobsOhio started, Ohio has trailed the national recovery. We are rewarding people handsomely for horrible performance. Because we can’t really look at what they are doing because there is no transparency, we can’t even properly diagnose the problem.”
Students Win Reprieve over Plans for New Tests; Cleveland Teachers Get New Contract
The Ohio Department of Education will delay submitting an education plan to the federal government until September, a victory for educators and stakeholders who lobbied for the state to incorporate more public feedback.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, “lacks a vision for reshaping our current education system to be more reflective of what students truly need,” according to Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.
Excessive testing was one of the top concerns of parents and educators about the proposed ESSA plan during public hearings held around the state.
In another victory for students, the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU) reached an agreement with the school district that axes many of the controversial components of the Cleveland Plan, passed by the Ohio legislature in 2012. The plan set up a complicated, multi-tiered merit system; the new contract throws out that plan.
“There are many new provisions in this agreement that are good for kids and fair for educators,” said David Quolke, CTU President.
PROGRESSIVE ACTION CALENDAR ALERTS
Miami Valley Community Organizing Conference
All OH12 Rally to Save Healthcare and our Democracy
Cincinnati Anti-Trumpcare Die-In
Licking County Democracy Gathering