After Courting Russia, Trump Gives North Korea Just What It Wants
In his speech to the United Nations earlier this week, President Donald Trump said, “If [the U.S.] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission.”
Considering that North Koreans are taught from a young age that Americans are the enemy, these comments will likely make the North Korean regime less likely to negotiate a halt to its weapons program, according to Prof. Stephan Haggard, a Korea expert at the University Of California- San Diego School Of Global Policy.
In other news from the swamp, as President Trump crusades against voter fraud, one of his own nominees for deputy U.S. trade representative, Jeffrey Gerrish, appears to have voted illegally. Gerrish voted last fall in Virginia but purchased a home earlier that year in Maryland, which lists the Maryland home as his “principal residence.”
Yet Gerrish voted four months later in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Under Virginia law, voting by nonresidents is a misdemeanor.
Voter fraud is rare but the GOP has been insisting it’s common and then attempts to pass voter ID requirements and other measures intended to suppress the votes of Democrats.
This week we also learned that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has been taking privately chartered planes. Traditionally, much less expensive commercial flights have been used.
Voters and Their Rights Take a Hit in Badly Gerrymandered Districts
The Center for American Progress just released a report about how gerrymandering impacts lawmaking and determined that “distorted election districts lead to skewed representation and legislators who are less responsive to the will of the voters.” The Fair Districts campaign hopes to reverse this trend in Ohio.
As Many Charter Schools Fail, Backers Seek New Ways to Keep Cash Flowing
Earlier this summer, Florida’s education agency gave a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as “the worst public school in the county and one of the lowest performing in the state.”
But the school didn’t shut down. It reopened last month as a private school charging $5,000 a year to low-income students who can pay using the state voucher program.
This depicts a frightening trend of failing charter schools: They privatize, then use vouchers to stay open with state assistance.
A ProPublica nationwide review found that at least 16 failing or struggling charter schools in five states — Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Georgia — have gone private with the help of publicly funded voucher programs, including 13 since 2010.
Ohio’s famously terrible online charter, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) continues to try to remake itself as a “dropout recovery school.’’ ECOT likes the designation because it requires even less oversight.
The Plain Dealer has more details.
National Hate Group Targets Ohio and Other States as Clinic Violence Increases
Just this past weekend, the Founders Women’s Health Center in Columbus was targeted by the “Bible Believers,” an organization recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Protesters used megaphones to call patients “whores,” railed against “homo sex” and attempted to physically prevent patients and staff from entering the facility.
Violence and vandalism at clinics is on the rise nationally but Republicans who run the Ohio General Assembly refuse to hold hearings on a clinic protection bill. House Bill 234 would make it a crime to impede access to a reproductive health care facility and harass or intimidate its employees, but is stuck in committee.
Akron’s Tent City Gives Hope to Homeless
A controversial issue for area homeowners, but a second chance for those who need it. That sums up the Second Chance Village in Akron, which is run by Sage Lewis. Lewis has created space for a non-traditional campsite for homeless people who, for whatever reason, cannot find space in a traditional shelter or halfway house. The group is working to solicit clothing and food donations and has rules for residents.
A 2014 study by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty found 100 homeless tent encampments spread across 46 states, ‘often in response to an inadequate number of local beds,’ according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Joe Deters Uses Asset Forfeiture Funds for Furniture, Briefcases
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has used a criminal forfeiture fund, a special account funded by property and cash seized from criminal offenders, to buy items such as “briefcases for attorneys” to the tune of $15,000. Deters’ office also spent $3,800 to pay his membership dues to three bar associations.
Given the opioid epidemic and other challenges, we have to wonder what else these funds could’ve been spent on.
Read the full story at citybeat.com.
Kasich Calls Out Own Party for Peddling Lies About Health Care
Governor John Kasich called out members of his own party earlier this week in response to a memo that was circulated with clearly false information about the impacts and costs of Medicaid Expansion.
It’s not just GOP House members disagreeing with him; earlier this week Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor promised to end Medicaid Expansion if elected. While Taylor has been open about her family’s struggle with addiction, she seems prepared to end a program that is one of Ohio’s best tools in fighting the current opioid epidemic.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he would be “OK’’ the block-granting provisions in the Graham-Cassidy bill – the latest Obamacare rewrite – even though it would result in deep cuts for Ohio. Portman also said he remains undecided on the overall bill, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The bill has been opposed by nearly every major medical organization and association in the country.
Portman’s support for block grants – but public indecision on Graham-Cassidy as a whole – is part of a pattern: He speaks out firmly for popular things, against unpopular ones and insists he’s undecided on thorny, hot-button issues such as the future of healthcare. Then he casts his vote in line with party bosses.
Speaking of terrible decisions on health care, Congressman Jim Renacci thinks there is no tie between Medicaid Expansion and access to treatment for addiction services. Calling for an end to the “Good Samaritan Law,” Renacci proposes criminalizing addicts.
Renacci is one of four Republicans hoping to be the 2018 nominee for governor.
And some good news! Friday afternoon, U.S. Sen. John McCain announced opposition to Graham-Cassidy. This may put an end to the GOP’s quest to end Obamacare.
Sen. McCain on the proposed legislation:
“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”
McCain’s courage standing against the Republican leadership stands in stark contrast with Senator Rob Portman, who has been a reliable foot soldier for Trump and McConnell no matter how many Ohioans are harmed.
Educated, Productive, Involved Millennial Fears Deportation under DACA
Elvis Saldias and others like him have had their future put on hold after the Trump Administration was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Elvis, one of the “Dreamers,” came to the United States from Bolivia with his mom as a young child. President Trump has ordered the conclusion to the program in six months.
DACA protects young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents as children from being removed from this country. Many of the “Dreamers” are active in their communities and are seeking higher education. Elvis was completing his associate’s degree at Northwest State Community College when Trump announced the end of DACA.
Elvis, and the nearly 800,000 young people like him, are now wary of their fate in the only country they have ever known.
Looking Ahead to ‘18
Mike Gibbons, one of four Ohio Republicans running for U.S. Senate, said he’s in the race because he doesn’t think the better-known Josh Mandel can beat Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.
Gibbons is one of four Republicans seeking the chance to run against Brown. Others are Don Elijah Eckhart, a retiree from Galloway, and Marysville business owner Melissa Ackison.
Former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, already endorsed by more than 30 labor groups and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, received the endorsements from some state legislators in her run for the Democratic nomination for governor. These legislators included Reps. Nicholas Celebrezze of Parma, Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Emilia Strong Sykes of Akron, Teresa Fedor of Toledo, Kent Smith of Euclid and Tavia Galonski of Akron.
At a forum earlier this week in Athens, Ohio, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley harshly criticized charter schools. Whaley described Ohio’s ongoing charter-school scandals as “crony capitalism.” She ties campaign contributions to elected officials to their decision to not hold charter-school providers accountable, according to athensnews.com.
Progressive Action Calendar Alerts
September 25: Watch: Ohio’s Leading Healthcare Experts Oppose Graham-Cassidy
September 25: Kill the Bill Rally at OSU
September 26: Columbus Rally Against Graham-Cassidy Bill
September 26: Kill the Bill Zombie Die In – Toledo