Dear Donald: Do You Know the Saying, ‘The Cover-up is Always Worse than the Crime?’
The Trump administration tried to block former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying in the House investigation of possible links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s campaign, according to letters provided to The Washington Post.
Why does Yates’ name ring a bell? Earlier this year, she declined to enforce Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban, and was immediately fired.
That was just at the beginning of the week.
President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has been seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Why does his name ring a bell?
Trump fired Flynn three weeks into the new administration after news reports disclosed that he had lied to White House colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn was an early supporter of Trump and often led those anti-Hillary “Lock her up chants’’ at rallies.
FBI Investigating Possible Kickbacks at Gulen-Linked Charter Schools; Trump’s Budget Calls for Deep Cuts to Schools
CBS News reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating Gulen-affiliated charter schools amid reports that they illegally force Turkish employees to kick back a percentage of their taxpayer-funded salaries to the Gulen movement.
The chain of schools operates in Ohio under the names Horizon Science Academy and Noble Academy. At least four of these Ohio schools have been raided by the FBI, and the schools have sub-par academic performances.
The FBI raids have been reported across Ohio but CBS is the first to report that the FBI is looking into the forced kickbacks.
The schools are affiliated with Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
ProgressOhio exposed widespread problems at the Ohio schools that included test-tampering, unqualified teachers and sexual misconduct in the classroom. State officials covered it up.
As problems mount for many charter schools, Donald Trump tapped charter apologist Betsy DeVos for his Secretary of Education, then rolled out a budget that attacks programs that directly help low-income kids.
In a guest column in the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper has the details:
“The proposed budget slashes education spending by 14 percent, or $9 billion, the largest dollar cut to the education budget ever and the largest percentage reduction since the Reagan administration. DeVos had the audacity to proclaim this week that the budget actually invests in underserved communities because it invests in school choice (privatized alternatives like vouchers, charters and virtual schools), and that it reflects an intention to support programs that work and eliminate those considered ineffective, duplicative or best left to states or local districts.’
Some Ohio Leaders Hoping Faith Can Help Heal Ohioans who Are Battling Opioid Addictions
To some elected leaders, the faith community’s involvement is the missing piece to halting the opiate epidemic.
“It’s a very unique pastor who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday and doesn’t look out and see people hurting. They know someone who is an addict, they know someone who has died, they know someone who is suffering,” Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch.
We agree that the faith community is a critical component of addressing addiction, but so is funding further treatment centers and educational programs, as well as coordinating the response from state and local governments.
Ohio is leading the nation in overdose deaths. Just last week outgoing State Rep. Greta Johnson penned a letter to Gov. John Kasich urging further action to address the crisis. Johnson asked the Governor to declare the opioid crisis a health emergency. She says both his efforts, and those of the state legislature, have been “piecemeal and uncoordinated.”
As Ohio Attracts More Solar Jobs, State Lawmakers Promote Legislation that Would Set Green Economy Back
Ohio gained more than 1,000 jobs related to solar power in 2016. Unfortunately, this rate of growth lags behind the nation, according to a new report from a national solar advocacy group.
House Bill 114, which would turn requirements for renewable energy into optional goals, was debated this week and passed by the Ohio House 65-31.
Solar advocates are holding out hope that the GOP-led Ohio Senate won’t roll-back these requirements which will likely limit good-paying jobs related to solar and wind energy.
Sen. Sherrod Brown: ‘Disgraceful’ that Congress Voted to Get Rid Of Online Privacy Protections
This week Congress passed a resolution that allows cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they want with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location, etc. The bill would also prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.
Fortunately, Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown spoke out on behalf of consumers in an open letter to President Trump urging him to veto the resolution. Brown’s letter notes that, if the resolution is signed into law, a consumer’s most sensitive personal data stored on personal computers and cell phones such as browser history, one’s Social Security Number, email contents, precise geo-location and more, could be sold to the highest bidder without their consent or knowledge.
Not to be outdone, some opponents of the resolution are crowdfunding to buy Congress’ web histories.
Sen. Rob Portman Doubles down on Support for Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Despite Growing Opposition from Ohioans
U.S. Sen. Portman penned an editorial last week praising Judge Neil Gorsuch. Portman told the Highland County Press:
“Judge Gorsuch and I met recently to talk about his philosophy of judging cases. I was impressed with his approach. He assured me that he will uphold the law as written—even if it goes against his personal beliefs.”
While many constitutional law experts have expressed their ambivalence regarding Gorsuch, there is an argument to be made that the Senate should not confirm a LIFETIME appointment from Donald Trump until the investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence our election has concluded.
Gov. Kasich Returns to New Hampshire on Taxpayers’ Dime While Insisting He’s Not Running for President Again
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is returning to New Hampshire next month to promote his new book, “Two Paths: America Divided or United.”
Kasich has already spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars with his non-campaign related travel. It looks like the meter is still running.
Columbus to Offer City Workers Paid Family Leave; Now that’s Pro-Life
Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown announced this week that city workers will receive four weeks of parental leave and two weeks to care for a sick family member at 70 percent of normal pay.
The benefit will be extended to both men and women and also cover adoptive parents.
“Workplace policies haven’t kept up with the reality of the modern American family,” Brown said.
New name for the Freedom Caucus, a mostly secretive group of white men who define “freedom” as hurting the poor, worsening infant mortality, increasing opioid-related overdose deaths, screwing over senior citizens, enriching zillionaires, obstructing government and forcing hospitals to cut jobs and services.
If the Callous Caucus gets its way, infant mortality and drug overdoses will rise in Ohio, and Caucus members won’t care because they are Callous.
Citizens Lobby Day
Want to learn how laws get passed at the Statehouse, and how you can have more influence in the process?
Innovation Ohio, ProgressOhio and For Ohio’s Future are hosting a statewide Citizen Lobby Day on April 5th to demystify the process and arm advocates and activists with tools and training to be more effective citizen activists.
There is still time to register! Click here.