GOP Continues to Splinter, but Fork-Tongued Rob Portman Stays Attached to Trump
As the Trump administration drags its feet on the Russia probe, it is facing another type of attack from within. Several GOP leaders have taken to publicly criticizing Trump for his recent decisions, breaking Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment that bans saying unkind things about a fellow Republican. Watch the fun on msnbc.com.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake gave one of the most pointed criticisms of President Trump this week saying:
“Without fear of the consequences and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal.”
Criticisms from within the GOP have been somewhat of a distraction from the wildly unpopular Trump Tax Plan. Just how popular is Trump’s proposed tax plan? A new poll shows that just 28% of Americans favor the plan that would slash taxes for the wealthy and large corporations.
Asked if he stands with Sen. Flake and Sen. Bob Corker, another GOP critic of Trump, Sen. Rob Portman said, “There’s blame on the right and the left.” Isn’t that what was said about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville?
Gerrymandering Even Has an Impact on Locations of Ohio Prisons
According to the multi-part series, Out of Line: Impact 2017 and Beyond, 91 percent of Ohio’s prison inmates are in Republican districts, with inmates usually far from where they lived before being imprisoned. Felons in Ohio cannot vote while they are serving their time, but they play an important part of the gerrymandering puzzle. By being counted where they are incarcerated instead of where they live, prisoners then help boost rural Ohio’s influence in Congress.
For example, the 12th Congressional District is solidly Republican, won by Congressman Pat Tiberi but also Donald Trump in 2016. According to Cleveland.com, if it weren’t for state prisons at the northern tip of the district in Mansfield – filled with non-voting prisoners – map drawers “may have needed to include more voters from Democratic-leaning Columbus areas.”
The Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group held its first public hearing at the Statehouse this week. Eighteen members of the public testified about the problem of gerrymandering and why they support reforms that focus on the voters, rather than benefit on political party over others.
Highlights include Carol Lunney of Upper Arlington:
“In preparing to become a citizen, you learn things about one person, one vote. They do not teach you about gerrymandering when you are becoming a citizen. Instead I learned about gerrymandering by seeing the consequences of the most recent process. … The lines were drawn in such a way that not one congressional race in Ohio has been competitive.”
The next hearing is on Wednesday, November 1 at 6:00pm in Room 313 of the Ohio Statehouse.
Cincinnati-Area College Presidents Seek Congressional Help for Dreamers
To push back on President Trump’s threat to roll-back protection for Dreamers, the presidents of the University of Cincinnati (UC), Miami University, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University and Mount St. Joseph’s University signed onto an Oct.19 letter from the American Council of Education asking Congress to pass legislation protecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students.
According to a statement from UC President Neville Pinto to the Cincinnati Enquirer, UC has dozens of DACA students enrolled on multiple campuses across the university and this decision jeopardizes students’ ability to “complete their academic studies, maintain employment and contribute to the future well-being of their families and the Cincinnati community.”
As Another Abortion Ban Advances, Cleveland’s Lone Clinic Let’s Us Hear from Its Patients
As maternal and infant mortality in Ohio continue to rise, state legislators continue to advance legislation to limit women’s reproductive options and undermine women’s health. The latest: A bill to ban abortion after a diagnosis the fetus has Down syndrome.
Channel 4 in Columbus offers coverage of the controversy.
To help Ohioans better understand why women chose abortion, Preterm, a clinic in Cleveland, offers “My Abortion, My Life” which allows the public to hear directly from women who have had one.
Preterm says the goal of the website is to “change the conversation about abortion by creating safe spaces for nuanced and respectful conversation about abortion experiences’’ and provide “resources and tools to help get those conversations started.’’
You can listen to the women here.
Former State Prison, Lorain’s Palace Theater among Ohio’s Haunted Haunts
There are some truly haunting stories from notable locations across the state of Ohio. For The top five spookiest locales are listed here.
Live in the Cincinnati area? On Halloween, come for lunch and learn about the Horrors of Gerrymandering.
State Waffles on Promise to Crack Down on Poor Charter School Sponsors
After the state of Ohio committed to cracking down on poor performing charter sponsors, two awful schools remain open. They are in Cincinnati and Newark and you can learn more about the failing ratings.
ECOT is a Public School That Really, Really Resists Public Records Requirements
By law, school board meetings are open to the public, and the agenda and supporting documents must be made to the public. This week, a Columbus Dispatch reporter had to jump through hoops to even attend the meeting. From a security escort to several explanations regarding the law, the reporter chronicles the process to simply listen to a public meeting that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) clearly wanted to keep private.
With Help from Ex-Lawmakers Now on Its Payroll, ECOT Asks Ohio Supreme Court for Mercy
According to the Columbus Dispatch, five former lawmakers filed a brief with the Ohio Supreme Court arguing the Department of Education is violating legislative intent by requiring ECOT to verify its enrollment with log-in duration data.
Bill Batchelder is described in the brief as the former House speaker, but it doesn’t disclose his firm was paid to represent ECOT’s founder until this summer.
Jim Trakas is described as a former House member, CEO of American Online Learning Center and past board chairman of a pair of Cleveland dropout recovery schools. The brief fails to mention that Trakas was ECOT’s director of community school advancement and is registered as ECOT sponsor, Altair Management’s lobbyist.
Chuck Calvert is described as a former House member and a former member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing Student Success. The brief fails to mention that Chuck’s wife, Sandy Calvert, lobbies for an Akron-based charter school management company.
Pants-On-Fire-King Josh Mandel Gets Ridiculed in Smokin’ New Microsite
Described as “Lighting the Ohio Checkbook on Fire,” a new website launched this week highlights Treasurer Mandel’s record in state office. For a throwback to corruption of the past mixed with editorials from throughout Mandel’s tenure, check out mandelcheckbook.com.
Mandel’s inability to tell the truth, whole truth and anything resembling the truth makes him a favorite of the Truth-O-Meter at PolitiFact.
Looking Ahead to ‘18
Rosenberger Weighs Run for Auditor, Sutton Takes on DeWine, Whaley Wants Pill Tax for Opioid Crisis
Term-limited House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is thinking about running for state auditor. This would put him in a primary against State Rep. Keith Faber (we’re making popcorn).
Former Congresswoman and candidate for governor Betty Sutton urged Attorney General Mike DeWine to recover the $2.3 million in fines owed by the Rover pipeline spill earlier this year. DeWine has a personal investment in Rover’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners.
To recap, the Rover pipeline, which will carry natural gas from Appalachia to Canada, spilled an estimated 2 million gallons of drilling fluid into Ohio wetlands in April, potentially impacting the drinking water for thousands of Ohioans. Energy Transfer Partners, with whom Mike DeWine has a financial stake, has yet to pay fines levied by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. His office has not pursued collection of the fines.
Read Sutton’s full statement and further information at plunderbund.com.
Sound familiar? It should. DeWine also failed to collect the record-setting $5.2 million fine levied against a pro-charter school Political Action Committee (PAC) for laundering money. This PAC is connected to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The money flowed from charter school titan David Brennan to some of Ohio’s top Republicans – including two who, like DeWine, are seeking the GOP nomination for governor. It’s complicated but Politico has the details.
In other news, Mayor Nan Whaley announced her plan to create a nickel tax on prescribed opiates. The money would be used to better fund treatment centers and other addiction programs. Read more at cincinnati.com. On Thursday, Trump declared the Opioid Epidemic is an emergency but provided no funding.
Another GOP candidate for governor, Congressman Jim Renacci is a CPA but was no match for MSNBC hosts when he incorrectly said that America has the world’s highest corporate tax rate. The Plain Dealer has the details.