From the monthly archives: May 2014

A funny thing happened to Treasurer Josh Mandel and U.S. Rep.Jim Renacci on their way to November’s elections. The two Ohio Republicans find themselves mired in a messy case involving indicted Canton businessman Benjamin Suarez, who will stand trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, beginning Monday, on money laundering charges.

The basic scheme, as revealed by Suarez’s convicted treasurer Michael Giorgio, who blabbed in a a plea deal, turned on having a couple of dozen company employees drop in $5,000 each to fill the political pot, with assurances from Suarez that their “gifts” would be reimbursed. Nothing very imaginative, [...]

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The Ohio Republican caucus in the United States House of Representatives is known to not have a strong grip on reality. However, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) of the 15th District and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) of the 12th District have successively portrayed themselves as reasonable moderates. They’ve done this in spite of their voting record.

Along with EVERY GOP member of the Ohio Congressional Delegation, Stivers and Tiberi both voted to forbid the DOD to use climate change data in threat assessment or any strategic policy decisions. Every Ohio Democrat voted Nay.

During most of the 20th Century Republicans portrayed [...]

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The Cleveland School District is in the news this week as they are working to remove teachers who have received good evaluations while simultaneously expanding their contract with Teach For America.  This contract expansion will replace these experienced and qualified teachers with untested, under-trained TFA corps members (who each come with a “finders fee” paid out to Teach For America which will total $400,000 in additional spending).

At the Cleveland School District Board of Education meeting this past Tuesday, hundreds of teachers gathered to protest these changes that caught these successful teachers off-guard.  One of the key speakers to [...]

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Republican Fossil Fueled Fog Machines Gear Up
by Mark Shanahan

The bill to dismantle Ohio’s clean energy standards (SB 310) passed the House Wednesday afternoon 53-38; within the hour, the Senate concurred with the House’s minor changes 21-11.  And, Governor Kasich’s office announced he “looked forward to signing it.”

The Republican floor debate and the Kasich statement reveal the strategy that will be deployed over the next months to confuse Ohioans about what just happened.  Here are the arguments:

We were just protecting clean energy requirements against the extremes. The two extremes here are the desire of the “free [...]

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Earlier this week I received a mailer from School Choice Ohio, a non-profit that promotes charter schools and private school vouchers.  The mailer discusses Kasich’s new private school voucher program which lets any student in kindergarten or first grade get a voucher to a private school if their family meets certain financial requirements.  The mailer was targeted at me, but used my kid’s name on the mailers.   This freaked me out a little bit.

According to Columbus City Schools, anyone can request information about CCS students from their student directory, this include includes name, address, phone number and even date and place of birth. [...]

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Plunderbund’s public records case against the Kasich Administration took another step forward today when our lawyer, Victoria Ullmann, and lawyers representing the Ohio Department of Public Safety presented oral arguments in front of the Ohio Supreme Court.  Media outlets around the state picked up the story including WOSU , WKSU, the Plain Dealer and even the Dispatch.

The case stems from a record request we made back in 2012 after Kasich’s office refused to release his schedules claiming the governor was receiving “daily” threats.    To verify Kasich’s claims, we requested incident reports from the Ohio Highway Patrol related to [...]

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Capitol Hill insiders say President Obama will celebrate Memorial Day by designating John Boehner as a medieval national monument. They say the president has reacted sharply to the Speaker’s jack-in-the-box oppostion to Obama’s designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument. Although the border control says otherwise, Boehner says Obama’s action will threaten security while many others in the area applaud the decision as a boon for tourism.

Obama reportedly will classify Boehner’s office on Capitol Hill as a tourist site open even to those without birth certificates and photo ID’s. But the Republicans [...]

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Race To Ohio’s Energy Past
by Mark Shanahan

Ohio’s clean energy future is in grave peril.  Senate Bill 310 as passed by the Senate now is scheduled to be voted out of the House and sent to Governor Kasich for signature. (Committee vote currently scheduled for Tuesday.)

What’s in the bill?  The main elements are:

“Freeze” the renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements for Ohio’s electric distribution companies at 2014 levels through 2016.  Theoretically, if the General Assembly does not act, the current standards then resume. Sets up the Energy Mandates Study Committee to make recommendations to be implemented [...]

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During one of his taxpayer-funded telephone town halls last night, State Treasurer Josh Mandel told listeners that that when he got elected, he put the salaries of all of his employees online. Like most of Mandel’s claims about transparency in his office, this one is absolutely not true.

A few months after taking office in 2011, Mandel launched his so-called “transparency” website using state salary employee data from the ultra-conservative Buckeye Institute.  For some mysterious reason, information about the salaries of his closest advisers was left off of the site.    As the AP reported, salary data for both Joel Ritter and Scott [...]

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Joe Vardon, the Columbus Dispatch’s politics and government writer, turned up at a news conference Wednesday following Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s luncheon speech at the Quaker Square Inn.  Actually, it wasn’t so much a news conference as we have come to know them.  With notebook and pencil in hand, Vardon turned it into an inquisition of the candidate regarding questions raised by the other side of the Cuyahoga County inspector general who has been accused of doing  campaign work on  public time.

In fact, State GOP Chairman Matt Borges has called for  the inspector’s resignation, which was a little odd inasmuch as [...]

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Indeed, In case you haven’t heard, this isn’t the best of times for Ben Suarez, the Canton big- businessman whose multi-tasking enterprises range far and wide and include a couple of well- known Ohio Republican pols.

OK. His company is embroiled in a deepening scandal.

It has reached the critical point where he must appear in the federal court in Cleveland in a couple of weeks under indictment to explain why his top company man, Mike Giorgio, has accused his boss of complicity in a money laundering scheme that would reward Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, [...]

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