Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Wednesday, December 20


Best holiday wishes to all, from Yellow Dog Sammy and the "real" yellow dogs (Sam and Stella).

UPDATE: That was so much fun, I had to add some more:

This is so Golden -- both tongues hanging out in the breeze.

Stella is tennis ball-obsessed. Sam, not so much.

The problem here is that the car is stopped and I'm taking a picture. "Get in here and drive, Dad!"

Another from the Christmas card series. Poor things.

Thursday, December 14

Ohio2006 is Offline Until Further Notice

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this blog is on a temporary hiatus. Operations will resume at OhioDailyBlog.com in January.

Tuesday, December 12

Senate Overrides Veto; Local Gun Laws Preempted

On a sad day for public safety and for "home rule" authority on the part of local governments, the Ohio Senate voted 21-12 to override the veto by Gov. Bob Taft (R) of House Bill 347, which makes minor adjustments to the concealed carry weapon law but also voids all local regulations of the sale and possession of guns. This came despite the release of a poll indicating that 54% of Ohioans (and 57% of Ohio Republicans) agreed with Taft that it was a "bad idea" to preempt local gun control laws.

Thoughts on Kucinich (D) Entering Presidential Race

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is in the race:
"Democrats were swept into power on Nov. 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq," Kucinich said. "Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in polices and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war."
Unlike some, I'm very glad that he will join the field. It's not that I think he has a chance to win, it's that his hard-core anti-war stance will force the other Democratic candidates to take seriously the views of anti-war Democratic voters.

The White House and the right wingers are deep into a campaign to undermine the Iraq Study Group report and come up with a "change of course" that is merely a continuation of Bush's Iraq policy in disquise. I'm concerned that as the Republicans pull the debate hard to the right, the mainline Democratic Presidential candidates will shift to some perceived middle ground instead of maintaining stiff opposition to the debacle. We need a Kucinich in the mix to keep shouting about the emperor's nakedness. I don't think his idea of cutting off military funding will happen or would work, but his clamor will keep up the pressure to push for early redeployment.

Monday, December 11

Cong. OH-15: Recount Confirms Pryce (R) Win

Franklin County elections officials announced this morning that the automatic recount has been completed and did not change the results of the 15th Ohio Congressional district race, with Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) narrowly defeating Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).

UPDATE: Kilroy has posted an announcement on her site, confirming that the election process is over and thanking her supporters. She ran a fabulous campaign and came the closest of any Congressional challenger in Ohio to unseating an incumbent. As we go forward to 2008, the Ohio Democratic Party needs to think hard about this race, along with the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts that split Cincinnati. Along with the laudable 88-county strategy, the party needs to redouble our organization and voter turnout efforts in the core urban areas. It's not that nothing was done there, but much more could have and should have been done. Higher voter turnout in Columbus and Cincinnati could have tipped all three of those races in our favor, along with the race for state auditor.

Friday, December 8

Secty of State: Brunner (D) Announces Leadership Team

Secretary of State-elect Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) has announced key individuals who will serve under her after she takes office on January 8th:

Assistant Secretary of State – Christopher Nance, Deputy District Director for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland). "Nance’s experience includes extensive election work with Ohio and Cleveland voting issues on behalf of the Congresswoman, as well as non-profit administration, institutional advancement, development and private sector consulting."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – Elections, Campaign Finance and Field – David Farrell, Chairman of the Clark County Board of Elections. Farrell has "administrative experience gained in 18 years in government, serving currently as a communications program manager at The Ohio State University."

Chief of Staff
– Thomas Worley, coordinator of Brunner transition team. "As a former mediation administrator for the State Employment Relations Board, he is known nationally for his development of innovative labor-management cooperation training programs. Worley’s experience as a mediator, trainer, webmaster, and Election Judge has been excellent training to serve as Chief of Staff for the Secretary of State."

General Counsel – Eleanor Speelman, Senior Judicial Law Clerk to Chief Justice Thomas Moyers. "Speelman is an attorney with over 20 years of legal experience, including private practice and hearing office experience."

Assistant General Counsel/Elections Counsel
– Brian Shinn. "Shinn comes to the Brunner administration from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel with the Supreme Court of Ohio, with 10 years legal experience, including work in private practice and having served as a judicial law clerk with the Tenth District Court of Appeals and the Franklin County Common Pleas Court."

Director of Human Resources – Gretchen Green, Executive Director of Human Resources for the Ohio Department of Education. "Green has nearly 30 years of experience working in Human Resources with state and county government. She holds two Masters Degrees, one in Labor Relations and the other in Public Administration."

Director of Legislative Affairs and Counsel to the Voting Rights Institute – Laurel Beatty. "Beatty is an attorney with 7 years private practice experience ranging from government affairs to business transactional work. She is also actively involved in community service, currently serving on the boards of the YWCA of Columbus and the ADAMH Board. In 2005 she was selected as one of Business First’s “Forty under 40” and a fellow in the African American Leadership Academy."

Director of Communications – Patrick Gallaway, Communications Director for Brunner campaign. "Gallaway is a public relations professional serving in the communication and marketing arena for two state agencies, two non-profit agencies and a state university. Gallaway served as the Press Secretary to Brunner since June 2006. As Director of Communications, Gallaway will continue as Press Secretary for Secretary of State Brunner and oversee media services and public affairs."

Director of the Voting Rights Institute – Kellye Pinkleton, Statewide Field Director for Brunner campaign. "Pinkleton has a background in state government and non-profit administration, serving as interim director for Stonewall Columbus prior to" joining the campaign in July 2006.

Elections Counsel – Brian Green. "Green holds direct experience as Statewide Voter Protection Coordinator for the Ohio Democratic Party as well as legal experience in the federal court system and state government and business experience in New York and the U.K. before commencing his legal career. He also is active with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.

Elections Counsel – Gretchen Quinn. "Quinn, an attorney since 1987, has been an elections attorney with the Secretary of State’s office since 1995, joining the office under the Taft administration. Her background includes private practice experience and experience in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office."

Elections Administrator – Patricia Wolfe. "Wolfe has been with the office since 1992, having previously served as director and deputy director of the Coshocton County Board of Elections. Her knowledge of Ohio election administration will provide the Brunner administration with expertise and experience in direct advisement of the state’s 88 county boards of elections."

Campaign Finance Administrator – J. Curtis Mayhew. "Mayhew currently serves in the Secretary of State’s office, having worked in campaign finance since 1992. He has become an invaluable resource to many throughout the state who have sought his campaign finance expertise."

Assistant Campaign Finance Administrator – Kelly Joseph Neer. "Neer currently serves in the Secretary of State’s office, having joined the office in 1995. He has demonstrated the ability to work effectively in providing guidance and assistance in navigating the state’s campaign finance laws."

Thursday, December 7

Welcome, and Welcome Back

I don't often blog about blogs, but I want to extend an enthusiastic welcome to Bill Sloat, until very recently the Cleveland Plain Dealer's man on the scene in Cincinnati, who is bloggin' up a storm at The Daily Bellwether. His first post a few days ago suggested that Sen. Mike DeWine should go ahead and resign already. Since then he's churned out about a dozen posts, all of them thoroughly researched, thoughtful, beautifully written, and often hilarious. You won't find this stuff anywhere else. Lots about court rulings and the law, along with public affairs, politics, and personalities. (Interesting blogroll, too -- it alerted me to this blog devoted to all the departures from the PD via buyouts.) As Bill notes here, "the switch to the Internet for news and information has pushed [newspapers] into a down-cycle." Will the arrival of newspaper folk in the blogosphere push it into an up-cycle, quality wise?

Also, it's great to have Pho's Akron Pages back online after a long quiet time due to illness. The blogosphere has been poorer the last few weeks without his wit and insight. Or, you might say, it's been (ahem):
No phun pheeling pholorn as Pho phavors his phans with phewer of his phine phacile opherings while he's pheeling phoul.

Taft (R) Vetoes Concealed Carry Amendment UPDATED

Gov. Bob Taft (R) preserved local gun regulations under the "home rule" power of local governments (for now, anyway) by following through on his threat to veto a hastily passed amendment to Ohio's concealed carry gun law.

In his veto message, Taft said the law “exceeds the scope of a concealed carry corrective bill by preempting local gun regulations relating to owning, possessing, purchasing, selling, and transferring firearms and their ammunition. In so doing, the act nullifies many local municipalities' gun regulations that are more stringent than state law, including the assault weapons bans enacted by the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo. This vast prohibition of local control is unwarranted and fails to consider the differing challenges and circumstances faced by different communities and regions of the state.” The law also would have allowed guns to be carried in cars in a holster or purse, instead of in a locked container or in plain view.

Republican leaders said that they expect to override the veto. An override in the House requires 60 votes and the bill passed there easily with 70 votes. However, an override in the Senate requires 20 votes and the bill only managed 19 in that chamber.

Taft had vetoed only three laws before this one, and none of his vetoes have been overridden.

UPDATE: The House voted 71-21 to override the veto just before 2:30 pm today. The Senate probably won't vote until next week. The bill got only 19 votes in the Senate to pass but four State Senators were not present, all Democrats:
Ray Miller - (614) 466-5131
CJ Prentiss - (614) 466-4857
Charlie Wilson - (614) 466-6508
Marc Dann - (614) 466-7182
Unfortunately, Wilson is notably pro-gun.

You know that the gun lobby will be working the phones, so let's get on it. Call them and let them know that cities and towns should be able to regulate guns in their own neighborhoods and public places!

Jill has more.

Ohio House Dem Caucus Opposes GOP "Lame Duck Rush"

House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) today objected to Republican legislators rushing major policy changes to the House floor with little or no public debate in the waning days of the 126th General Assembly. She announced that the House Democratic Caucus would oppose three bills, two of which might otherwise merit serious consideration by Democrats, because they appear to be headed to the floor just days after being introduced. All are expected to be voted on in legislative committees today.

The three bills are HB 685, introduced on November 16th by Rep. Keith Faber (R-Celina), which would severely burden administrative rule-making; HB 694, introduced eight days ago by Rep. Kevin DeWine (R-Beavercreek), which would change contribution limits under campaign finance laws; and HB 695, introduced one week ago by Rep. Chuck Calvert (R-Medina), which would create an entirely new system of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics schools. The proposals were introduced just weeks after an election in which Democrats picked up four out of five statewide executive offices and seven new House seats, the largest such gain for Democrats since 1972.

Beatty said Democrats find "no redeeming value whatsoever" in HB 685, Faber’s rule-making proposal, which she termed a “paper pusher’s fantasy.” As of Wednesday night, no one had testified in support of the proposal other than Faber and at least two dozen individuals or organizations have expressed opposition. The other two bills deserve serious discussion, according to Beatty, but "are just too important to be rushed through this chamber as the clock strikes midnight.” Good legislation "demands an open, thoughtful public process," she added, because "when legislation is rushed through in the dark of night, the public loses out. We cannot, in good conscience, be expected to vote on these bills right now.”

“These bills may contain serious unintended consequences or partisan Trojan horses. Or they may not," Beatty said. "We just don’t know, because there has not been enough time for thoughtful public input and review. We believe it’s best to take a deep breath and look ahead to next year, when we can work on these issues in a focused, bipartisan manner.”

Cong OH-16: Todd (D) to Run for Regula's Seat in 2008

CQ Politics reports that attorney Michael Todd (D-Medina), a member of the state central Democratic committee, has notified the Federal Election Commission that he intends to run for the seat of 82-year-old veteran legislator Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) in 2008. Todd is a Medina township trustee and an army veteran.

Regula won re-election this year but not impressively. He got only 58% of the vote in the primary against county commissioner Matt Miller (R) and only 59% (a career low) in the general election against underfunded novice Rev. Thomas Shaw (D-Wooster), whose campaign was practically invisible. Regula had won with 67% of the vote in 2004.

Todd told CQPolitics that he was off to an early start in order to let people know “that I take this seriously. I want to engage in a conversation.” Todd joined the Army in 1993 and is a West Point graduate. He said that his military background would help him as Congress struggles with the Iraq situation and other potential conflicts. “The skills that I bring to the table in dealing with international conflict is something that I would like to bring to the forefront in this debate,” he said.

The 16th District looks to be competitive in 2008. Bush carried it by only 54% in 2004, and Kerry won its most populous county (Stark) by 51%. Governor-elect Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) carried Stark County with 64% and Senator-elect Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) got 57%. Regula's son Richard Regula (R), regarded by some as a possible successor to his father, lost his bid for re-election as Stark County Commissioner to businessman Todd Bosley (D).

Wednesday, December 6

GOP Revives Anti-Abortion Bill HB 239 UPDATED

Once again signaling their determination to push divisive partisan legislation during the lameduck session, Republican legislators revived an extreme anti-abortion law and voted it out of committee today. The bill, HB 239, has been essentially dormant since it was introduced by Rep. Michelle Schneider (R) in May.

The proposed law declares that "it is the public policy of the state to prefer childbirth over abortion to the extent that is constitutionally permissible." It expands the current prohibitions against the use of state funds and facilities for "non-therapeutic abortions" or for insurance coverage for same, and against public employees performing "non-therapeutic abortions," by redefining that term to include pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or that threaten the mental or physical health of the mother. In other words, only when pregnancy endangers the woman's life would the abortion be deemed "therapeutic." (The only exception is that state funds can be used for certain abortions resulting from rape or incest if federal funds pay for part of the abortion and the federal funds otherwise would not be available, and even then restrictions apply.) The ban is also expanded by applying it to a wider range of political subdivisions.
In short, the bill is a blunt assault on choice and women's health. As NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio wrote when the bill was introduced last spring, "this politically-motivated and dangerous bill would make it more difficult for Ohio women to obtain safe and legal abortion care. This legislation is full of rhetoric, but does nothing to prevent unintended pregnancies or to promote healthy pregnancies."

UPDATE: Stories in the Dayton Daily News and Columbus Dispatch refer to additional provisions not in the existing bill summary, including a provision that would give anti-abortion groups the right to go to court if they believe abortion clinics are unlicensed or not following their license requirements. Rep. John White (R-Kettering) confirms that the GOP is trying to rush the bill into law in order to avoid a veto by Governor-elect Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon).

Sign the DFA Petition to Make Paper Ballots Mandatory!

I urge readers to sign the online petition sponsored by Democracy for America, calling for mandatory verifiable paper ballots in elections. Here is what I wrote for my message to be included with the petition:
The 13th Florida Congressional District fiasco is absolutely the last straw. Electronic voting without a verifiable paper trail is unacceptable and un-American. Our nation stands for genuine democracy, not suspect elections shielded from meaningful recounts. Public trust in elections is flagging and must be built up. Require a verifiable paper trail now!

Tuesday, December 5

DeWine (R) Dismisses Speculation on UN Appointment

It was a strong enough rumor for the editors of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to herald the idea, calling him a "credible envoy with bipartisan backing," but outgoing U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) says nobody has talked to him about replacing John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and in fact he is not interested.

Meanwhile, at today's confirmation hearing Secretary of Defense nominee Robert Gates declared Iraq is the central battleground in the war on terror and the U.S. is not winning there. Not long ago that kind of talk would get him branded as an appeaser, an America-hater, and a friend to the terrorists.

John Edwards Picks David Bonior as Advisor and Possible Campaign Manager

The political blog First Read at MSNBC reports that presidential hopeful John Edwards (D-NC) will name former member of Congress David Bonior (D-MI) later today as a senior advisor for policy and politics, and hints that Bonior may serve as campaign manager should Edwards become an official candidate.

Bonior was in Congress for thirteen terms (1976-2003) and served as Majority Whip and Minority Whip. He stepped down due to redistricting and lost to Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) in the 2002 Michigan gubernatorial primary. He is closely associated with labor and now serves as president of American Rights at Work. He is also Catholic and pro-life. He was in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War (1968-72).

Cong OH-15 & Ohio House 20th: Recount Notes UPDATED

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the Franklin County Board of Elections will hand-count more than 19,000 ballots, 10% of the total cast, instead of 3% as required by law. This will be done in order to compare hand-count results to those produced by computers and counting machines. "It will give us a greater opportunity to test and prove the accuracy ... of our new system," said Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder.

The recount for the 15th Congressional District, mostly located in Franklin County, is expected to be finished by December 15th. Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) leads challenger Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) by 1,055 votes.

Meanwhile, I'm told that challenger Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna) has requested a full recount in the 20th Ohio House District, also in Franklin County. She trails Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) by 364 votes, not quite close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

A reader has alerted me that the election law experts at the Moritz College of Law Election Blog question whether state election law, as amended, requires only a 3% recount, or in fact a total recount. See here, here, and here.

2nd UPDATE: As Bonobo notes at Blue Bexley, that's 109 precincts in the 20th Ohio House District for which Bev Campbell is paying $50 each to get this recount. A total of $5,450. The campaign needs more donations and volunteers to observe the recount.

ODP Chair Redfern to Marry Fundraiser Who is Republican

This just in -- Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) and Republican Kim Kahlert have announced plans to wed. Kahlert is director of development for Equality Ohio, a civil rights organization, and lives in Franklin County. The pair met at a political event in Columbus in March.

"Kim just needs a little direction politically, and I'm providing it," joked Redfern. Kahlert declared herself a Republican in the May primary, but said she may be more liberal than Redfern in some of her views and considers herself an independent. "As far as social issues, I'm as far on the left as I could possibly be," she said.
Wait, it gets better -- they want Governor-elect Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon), an ordained but inactive Methodist minister, to perform the wedding.

Best wishes to the happy couple. No word on whether James Carville and Mary Matalin will attend the nuptials.

I should have mentioned that Equality Ohio is an organization that supports equal rhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifights for GLBT's. Bless her heart!

2nd UPDATE: I was fooled by the AP headline, corrected by this post at DailyKos. Ms. Kahlert is a fundraiser and a Republican, but does not raise funds FOR the Republicans.

Monday, December 4

Strickland-Fisher Transition Team Leaders UPDATED

Governor-elect Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) has announced leaders of 14 transition committees, who will evaluate current practices and report their findings to the new administration. The following list includes chairpeople and coordinators for particular departments or programs. These are transition leaders, not necessarily people who will assume permanent posts in the administration, but they will have important influence in shaping the new administration and their selection indicates high regard on the part of the Strickland team.

Chair Pari Sabety, Strickland-Fisher Transition Senior Policy Adviser
Chair John Reardon, Mahoning County Treasurer
Office of Budget and Management - Sabety
Tax Department - Rich Levin, Coordinator Former Dep. State Tax Commissioner

Chair Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland
Chair John Smith, Former Adjutant General
Dept of Public Safety - Dale Shipley, Former Exec. Dir., Ohio Emergency Management Agency
Adjutant General - John Smith, Former Adjutant General

Chair Don Plusquellic, Mayor of Akron
Chair Mark Barbash, Columbus Development Director
Dept of Development - Terri Gehr, CFO, Columbus State Community College; Sharon Sobol Jordan, CEO, Center for Families and Children
Dept of Agriculture - Bobby Moser, VP Agricultural Administration, Ohio State University
ODJFS/Workforce Investment Act - Rosie Picklesimer, Dir., Workforce Connections; Jeff Weber, Exec. Dir., Workforce One Investment Board of Southwest Ohio
ODOT/Turnpike - Jim Beasley, Brown County Engineer
ODOT/Buy Ohio - Kenny Holland, Sec. Treas., Laborer's District Council of Ohio
Ohio Historical Society - Fred Deel, Gallia County Commissioner
Gov Office of Appalachia - Amos Loveday, Former State Historic Preservation Officer
Comm'n on African American Males - Ron Browder, Dir., Children's Defense Fund-Ohio; Dr. O'dell Owens, Hamilton County Coroner
Comm'n on Hispanic-Latino Affairs - Baldemar Velasquez, Pres., Farm Labor Organizing Committee/AFL-CIO; Lupe Williams, Lecturer, Ohio State University-Wooster

Chair C.J. Prentiss, Ohio Senate Minority Leader
Dept of Education - George Wood, Principal on leave, Federal Hocking High School
School Facilities Commission - Ralph Cole, Laborer's District Council of Ohio
Tuition Trust Authority & Board of Regents & Higher Ed Facilities Comm'n - Chad Wick, Pres., KnowledgeWorks Foundation

Chair Charles "Rocky" Saxbe, Partner, Chester, Willcox & Saxbe
Dept of Natural Resources - Sean Logan, Columbiana County Commissioner
Environmental Protection Agency - Joe Secrest, Guernsey Co. Commissioner
Air Quality Development Auth & Water Development Auth - Tom Chema, President, Hiram College

Chair Nathaniel Jones, Ret. Federal Appeals Court Judge
Ohio Ethics Comm'n - Steve Dettelbach, Partner, Baker Hostetler
Inspector General - Roy Landreth, Former Dep. Assistant Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor; Charlie Luken, Former Mayor of Cincinnati
Elections Comm'n - Terri Enns, Assoc. Clinical Professor of Law, Ohio State University

Chair Len Roberts, Dayton Clerk of Commission
Dept of Admin. Services - Ty Marsh, CEO, Columbus Chamber of Commerce; Alexis Clark-Amison, Interim Pres., Northern Ohio Minority Business Council
Ohio Building Auth. - John Gilligan, Partner, Schottenstein Zox & Dunn Co. (son of former governor)
Lottery Comm'n - Parma Mayor Dean DePiero
Racing Comm'n - Dwight Tillery, Former Cincinnati Mayor
Expositions Comm'n - Mike Noel, Scioto County Agricultural Society
Public Works Comm'n - Keith Early, Lucas County Engineer
Ohio Arts Council - Susan Saxbe, Arts Consultant; Patrick Shepherd, Assoc. Dir., Film Society; Dr. Barbara Nicholson, Exec. Dir., MLK Performing & Cultural Arts Center

Chair Eric Fingerhut, Ohio State Sen.

Chair Barbara Sykes, State Rep. and Pres., Ohio Legislative Black Caucus
Dept of Aging - State Rep. Catherine Barrett
Dept of Health - Doni Miller, CEO, Neighborhood Health Association
ODADAS - Charleta Tavares, Exec. Dir., Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence and Columbus City Councilwoman
MRDD - Susan Ignelzi, Ohio Family and Children First Initiative
ODMH - Amy Rohling McGee, Exec.Dir., Ohio Association of Free Clinics
ODJFS-Human Services - Yvette McGee Brown, Pres., Center for Child and Family Advocacy; David Ellis, Dir. Policy Planning and Programs, Center for Community Solutions
Minority Health Comm'n - Dr. Harry Walker, Dir., MetroHealth Center for Community Health
Gov Office of Faith-Based Initiatives - Eric McFadden, Field Dir., Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Rehabilitation Services Comm'n - Marjory Pizzuti, CEO, Goodwill Columbus
Ohio Housing Finance Agency - Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer
Ohio Comm'n on Fatherhood - Peter Lawson Jones, Cuyahoga County Commissioner

Chair Bill Mason, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor
Rehabilitation and Corrections - Ron Edwards, Former Regional Dir., Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction
Dept of Youth Services - Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory; Cheri Walter, CEO, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities
Legal Rights Service & Dispute Resolution - Mimi Dane, Partner, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey
Civil Rights Comm'n - Jaladah Aslam, AFSCME Ohio Council 8

City/State Relations - Chair Carty Finkbeiner, Mayor of Toledo; Chair Marcia Fudge, Mayor of Warrensville Heights; Chair Rhine McLin, Mayor of Dayton; Chair Joe Sulzer, Mayor of Chillicothe; Chair Sabra Pierce Scott, Cleveland City Councilwoman
County/State Relations - Chair Peter Lawson Jones, Cuyahoga County Commissioner; Chair Mark Forni, Monroe County Commissioner

Chair John Haseley, Dir., Strickland-Fisher Transition

Chair Jerry Tater, Former CEO of MeadeWestvaco
Department of Commerce - Hugh Quill, Montgomery County Treasurer
Bureau of Workers Compensation/Industrial Commission - Phil Fulton, Philip J. Fulton Law Office; Catherine Duhigg, Workers' Compensation Manager, Eaton Corporation
Public Utilities Commission & Ohio Consumers Counsel - Mark D. Griffin, Coordinator Griffin Law Firm
Department of Insurance - Mary Jo Hudson, Columbus City Councilwoman

Chair Teresa Fedor, Ohio Senate Minority Leader-elect
Chair Steve Stivers, State Sen.
Chair John Boccieri, State Rep., State Sen.-elect

UPDATE: Jill Zimon has some observations, including that Stat Sen. Steve Stivers is an example of a Republican on the list. So is Rocky Saxbe, but he was also a key figure in the "Republicans for Strickland" group. By the way, while Stivers voiced support for mental health parity, as head of the applicable committee he also managed to bottle up the legislation for several years. So, how does he really feel about it? Jill likes Charleta Tavares and Chad Wick.

Lisa Renee over at Glass City Jungle also has some thoughts, including pointing out who is from Northeast Ohio and expressing approval of those picks.

There is a fair degree of symbolism (e.g., all three of the Veterans Affairs people have military experience) and geographic balancing going on here, I would say. A few random thoughts:
* Interesting that there are five city/state relations chairs, and only two county/state relations chairs. Simply a matter of there being more mayors to placate, or an actual emphasis on the neglected urban agenda?

* Jim Rokakis and Peter Lawson Jones from Cuyahoga County are excellent picks. If Strickland taps Rokakis for a permanent slot it will be great for state government but a huge loss for the county.

* When I see these unsuccessful candidates for statewide office, it makes me think they're headed for high-level state positions: Barbara Sykes, Hugh Quill, John Reardon, Eric Fingerhut. (Quill and Reardon dropped out of their races for the sake of party unity, Sykes joined hers when she was asked to do so. They're all good people and they all should be rewarded. Fingerhut bucked the party, but he would be an excellent adminstrator.) Add Catherine Barrett to that list, too -- she dropped out of the race for Ohio Senate early. C.J. Prentiss is leaving the Ohio Senate this year due to term limits, but I have a hunch she is not anxious to jump into the executive branch. If she does, it will be because she was offered something she just couldn't resist.
2nd UPDATE: The Columbus Dispatch notes that Chema, Sabety, and Levin are "Celestials," meaning people who served in the 1983-1991 administration of former Gov. Richard Celeste.

Thanks to a reader for pointing out that John Gilligan is the son of the former governor, not the former governor himself.

Joyce Beatty (D) Warns Against Partisan Confrontation in Lame Duck Session

At a press availabilty in Columbus today, House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) issued a stern warning about GOP initiatives in the lame duck session of the General Assembly that threaten to interfere with the incoming Strickland administration or are otherwise inconsistent with the mandate given to the Democratic Party by Ohio voters on November 7th. "Actions speak louder than words – and the actions of the past couple of weeks are unsettling,” said Beatty. “Recent events suggest we might be headed for a series of partisan power plays and surprises that could poison the Statehouse climate.”

“How we conduct ourselves in these next three weeks will set the tone for the next General Assembly,” Beatty added. “I’m still hopeful we can end this month with a level of civility and build on that in 2007. But we have reason for concern.”

One major concern is HB 685, a revision to agency rule-making that threatens to slow up much important work by Gov. Strickland's executive departments. “It seems like we would be better off calling it the ‘Red Tape in Government Act,’ because that’s what it amounts to: A paper pusher’s fantasy,” Beatty said. “No one wants government for government’s sake, and that’s what this looks like.”

Other problematic new proposals include:
* A proposal (not yet publicly announced) that could limit or eliminate lead paint manufacturers’ liability for selling products they knew for decades were dangerous to children.

* HB 695, a long bill introduced by Rep. Chuck Calvert (R) on Thursday, which would create a third system of schools in Ohio (in addition to the public schools and charter). Hearings are expected to start Tuesday in the Finance and Appropriations Committee.

* A proposal by Rep. Kevin DeWine (R) to put new limits on campaign contributions. DeWine wrote the law passed two years ago that quadrupled prior limits, so that individuals can now contribute $10,000 to a single state candidate in both the primary and the general election in one election cycle. Republicans were surprised when 2006 Democratic candidates, especially Ted Strickland, received a large number of contributions at the new $10,000 maximum level. Democrats say that any additional changes to the law should be developed in a bipartisan way, not rushed through the lame duck session on a party line vote.

Struggle Over Dem Economic Policy Looms

There is a battle shaping up over Democratic economic policy in the next Congress. New York Times reporter Louis Uchitelle identified the players and stakes here, and there is an in-depth report on Alternet as well. David Sirota also weighs in, naming names in a piece that defines the battle as "The People Party" vs. "The Money Party."

On the one hand you have Clinton-era "centrist" economics, associated with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and called "Rubinomics" for short. This perspective resists market intervention and welcomes free trade. On the other hand you have the populist variety of economics espoused by a number of successful 2006 candidates, notably Sen.-elect Sherrod Brown (D-Avon, OH) and Sen.-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), which favors greater market intervention and includes the "fair trade" position of opposing trade agreements without labor and environmental protections (e.g., NAFTA and CAFTA). The populist perspective is championed by labor union economists and the Economic Policy Institute. The centrist "Rubinomics" perspective is advanced by the recently formed Hamilton Project, a unit of the Brookings Institution.

It is important to note that these two economic perspectives are in agreement on a number of basic points. They agree that the middle class has largely been left out of the economic revival of the last few years, and they agree that globalization has hurt American workers. Some of their policy proposals are indistinguishable:
Both would sponsor legislation that reduced college tuition, mainly through tax credits or lower interest rates on student loans. Both would expand the earned-income tax credit to subsidize the working poor. Both would have the government negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare’s prescription drug plan. And despite their relentless criticisms of President Bush’s tax cuts, neither the populists nor the Rubinite regulars would try to roll them back now, risking a veto that the Democrats lack the votes to override.
However, on other points their ideas diverge sharply:
The populists argue that the national income has flowed disproportionately into corporate coffers and the nation’s wealthiest households, and that the imbalance has grown worse in recent years. They want to rethink America’s role in the global economy. They would intervene in markets and regulate them much more than the Rubinites would. For a start, they would declare a moratorium on new trade agreements until clauses were included that would, for example, restrict layoffs and protect incomes.

But the Rubin camp argues that regulating trade, or imposing other market restrictions, would be self-defeating. “You pay a steep economic cost when you adopt market interventions,” said Peter R. Orszag, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a leader of the Rubin group. He argued, for example, that restrictions on layoffs “would impede the ability of markets to reallocate labor efficiently.” As a result, the Rubinites contend, there would be slower economic growth and less national income to distribute — equally or unequally.
This divide is likely to spill over into lobbying reform (the populists will want to reduce the influence of Wall Street and corporate interests much more sharply) and tax policy (for example, Sherrod Brown has advocated not only stopping incentives to off-shoring of jobs, but putting in new incentives to promote domestic production).

How are battle lines shaping up? As reported in The Nation here, new House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has expressed a determination to "govern from the middle," and apparently part of her resistance to any left-ward shift was having only Robert Rubin speak to freshman legislators about economic policy. Labor unions sought to supplement Rubin with one or more economists of their own choosing, but were rebuffed. Also, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney met privately with Rubin earlier this month to air their differences over trade policy, budget deficits, and wage and wealth-gap issues, according to this story at Bloomberg.com. Additional meetings are planned. These get-togethers were occasioned by a letter written by AFL-CIO Treasurer Richard Trumpka:
[Rubin] has called for a new economic direction by balancing the federal government's budget through spending cuts and tax increases, more free-trade agreements, wage insurance for workers dislocated by globalization and restraining personal- injury lawsuits.

"The strategy you propose offers little, in my view, to either bolster economic growth or address the stagnating wages and living standards of American working families," Trumka wrote in a Feb. 7 letter to Rubin. "I am simply astonished that you would suggest such a politically toxic agenda for the Democratic Party."

"When the wizards of Wall Street start dictating Democratic policy, the first to be forgotten are the Democratic voters who made these election successes possible," said Rick Sloan, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "We get screwed every time these guys grab the handles of power. They forget the need to create jobs. They are much more interested in Chinese growth than Cleveland's growth."
When the new Congress gets underway, this polarization over economic policy will likely escalate, and if neither camp prevails then gridlock on economic initiatives may result. However, that is not the only potential battleground. The primaries for the 2008 presidential election are likely to feature a continuing debate about "Rubinomics" vs. populist economics. Assuming that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is involved, her association with Clinton-era free trade policy (i.e., NAFTA) will be a hot issue.

GOP-Controlled Legislature and Court Trampling Home Rule

There is an important article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today that connects the dots in recent Ohio legislation and high court rulings to reach the conclusion that the so-called "home rule" provision of the Ohio constitution (article 18, section 3), which empowers local governments to enforce laws specific to their territory so long as such laws "are not in conflict with general laws," is in danger of extinction. "I think that when we look back on this 126th General Assembly," said State Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D-Shaker Heights) in the story, "the epitaph has to be the death of home rule."

The legislature saps home rule by passing statewide laws that explicitly or implicitly preempt local laws. Prominent recent and current examples are:
  • The state law signed by Gov. Taft in January that wiped out residency requirements for municipal workers in certain cities. Several big cities have filed lawsuits against the statute.
  • The state predatory lending law signed in May and effective January 1st, which negates local regulations against the abusive practice. The Ohio Supreme Court recently confirmed that an existing mortgage fraud law, to be supplanted by the new law, preempts local ordinances.
  • The General Assembly just approved an amendment to the concealed carry gun law that will wipe out local gun regulations in over 80 localities. Taft has threatened to veto this bill, although Republican legislative leaders say they have the votes to override his veto.
  • A bill to regulate the use of red light and speeding cameras has been approved by the House and is expected to get through the Senate soon.
Republicans control the General Assembly and the Ohio Supreme Court. The reporter nevertheless sees only a limited partisan slant to this situation:
"At the Statehouse, Democrats tend to support "home rule" while Republicans do not. But that is not always the case. The residency bill passed with bipartisan support."
I think the partisan underpinnings are much stronger than that. Democrats control the big cities and nine out of ten of the most populous counties. Those are the local governments that are most active in passing and enforcing local laws, and they have interests that diverge from less populated areas. For example, many bigger cities and towns have gun regulations such as laws against assault weapons and against bringing guns into public parks, all of which will be erased if the current amendment to concealed carry gun law passes. I see the flood of statewide laws that intrude into areas previously legislated by local governments, and court decisions that uphold such statewide laws, as shifting the balance of power from Democratic to Republican control. Along with that shift comes a fundamental change in the underlying policy bases of the law, from more urban/inner-surburb and liberal to more rural/outer-suburb and conservative.

In this way, this development is analogous on the political level to pending HB 685, discussed here, which seeks to limit the rule-making authority of administrative agencies (which Democrats will control starting in January) by increasing the power of a supervisory legislative committee controlled by Republicans. As Ohio enters a period of divided government, these are the faultlines in the struggle to control policy and political power.

Sunday, December 3

BREAKING: Yellow Dog Sammy Will Not Seek Presidency

Today's shocking announcement that former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) will not run for president in 2008 had political pundits scrambling to identify equally-credible alternative candidates, including noted Ohio political blogger Yellow Dog Sammy. While Sammy has not actually formed an exploratory committee or met with political operatives in Iowa or New Hampshire, he is known to have personal friends in those states and to be fond of both corn-on-the-cob and maple syrup (although not served together).

However, the reclusive blogger squashed all such speculation by issuing this statement late today:
After intensive consultation with my advisors, my spouse, and my inner canine, I have reluctantly concluded that I can best serve the nation by continuing to publish my blog about Ohio politics. Let me be perfectly clear: If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I would completely redecorate the Oval Office in sage and neutral earth tones. I hate that dark-blue-and-gold-with-crimson-accents color scheme.
Political insiders speculate that Sammy may be angling for the vice presidential nomination, or may simply be attempting to provoke a popular draft-Yellow Dog Sammy movement.

Additional coverage on similarly viable presidential candidates may be found on this and other political blogs, and throughout the cable news channels.

Ohio House 20th: Campbell (D) Seeking Donations and Volunteers for Recount

The adding in of absentee and provisional ballots (and some votes not counted due to e-voting machine problems) by the Franklin County Board of Elections whittled the lead of Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) over spirited challenger Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna) in the 20th Ohio House District from 933 in the unofficial count to just 364 in the official count announced last Monday. That's just 0.84% of the votes cast, not quite close enough for an automatic recount.

Campbell has sent a message to supporters indicating that she has spent countless hours reviewing the situation with Don McTigue, an election lawyer representing her campaign, as well as voting rights lawyer Cliff Arnebeck and elections expert Dr. Herb Asher. As a result of their legal research and statistical analysis, they have concluded that anomalies in the vote count and the large number of disqualified provisional ballots require that a recount be conducted. "The votes are out there to definitely turn this election result around," she writes. Accordingly, she is looking for volunteers and financial commitments in order to meet Tuesday's deadline for requesting the recount.

The cost of the recount is $50 per precinct and the Campbell campaign is looking at recounting at least 55 precincts. She asks supporters to consider adopting one (or more) precincts, or joining with others to do so. Volunteers will be trained by McTigue to be official recount observers. She emphasizes the urgency of her cause:
We need to accomplish all of this very quickly or lose our right to a recount - and the election. The GOP is already trying to neutralize the gains we made last month, by introducing and passing HB 685 restricting Strickland's ability to use the rule making function of state agencies to effect his new policies and goals. We already gained 7 seats in the House and this 20th district House seat can make a huge difference in preventing the GOP from effectively handcuffing our new governor and thwarting the changes that the voters overwhelmingly demanded.
Supporters are urged to call or email immediately. The email contact is bev-at-bevcampbellforohio-dot-com.

Saturday, December 2

Cong OH-15: Call For Volunteers -- Official Recount Observers!

Be a Recount Observer

Participate in Our Democracy!

Attend the Organizational Meeting:

Date: Sunday December 3, 2006
Time: 2:00pm
Location: 3391 North High Street <Map>
Columbus, Ohio 43202

Take Action -- Oppose HB 685!

Lorraine Bieber of the League of Young (& Youngish) Voters posted the following as a comment to my piece on HB 685 over at BSB:
Word is Dan Stewart is working with the transition team on this & they encourage anyone who has concerns about 685 to testify and get their concerns on the record. This is moving fast... the committee hearing is this Tuesday Dec. 5, 1PM in Rm. 018 – House State Government Committee. HB 685 is the 5th of 5 bills on the schedule that day.

If you want to make calls: 1-800-282-0253 is the main switchboard. Individual phone numbers for legislators are here. The sponsors: Faber, Blasdel, DeWine, Flowers, Seitz, Carmichael, C. Evans, Peterson, Daniels, Raussen, Raga. The State Government Committee members are: Republicans: Buehrer (chair), Uecker, Blasdel, Carmichael, Flowers, Reinhard, Setzer, T. Patton. Democrats: Dan Stewart, Book, Foley, Hartnett, Mitchell.

The League of Young (& Youngish) Voters will be making calls on HB 685 this monday night during our weekly drink-n-dial, and a few of us are going to try to make it to the hearing Tuesday.

Friday, December 1

Dennis! You Rock!

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has a piece up at Huffington Post, calling on Democrats to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq Civil War by the simple expedient of cutting off funding for military operations. He includes an interesting chart of past votes on Iraq funding, and brings up the unsuccessful lawsuit by Kucinich and others against Bill Clinton (an attempt to stop military action in Serbia as an undeclared war) for the legal point that Congressional funding equals implied consent to war.

I want the U.S. out of Iraq with all my heart. I have only two things to say about Kucinich's plan for accomplishing that:
(1) Ain't going to happen.

(2) Kudos to Kucinich for having the audacity to demand it!
Dennis Kucinich doesn't give a hoot for political expediency, never has. It is his great strength as a visionary, and his great liability as a politician.

Gloves Come Off -- General Assembly Targets Strickland Administrative Rule-Making Power

It's time to wake up the media and the public about House Bill 685, introduced last week and on the fast track to quick passage in a matter of a few weeks. Although Republican legislative leaders Sen. Bill Harris (R-Ashland) and Rep. Jon Husted (R-Kettering) have said they wouldn't take action in the lame duck session to interfere with the incoming Strickland administration, this bill does just that.

As a Democratic governor saddled with a Republican-dominated General Assembly, Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) will rely heavily on adminstrative agency action to implement his policy agenda. Administrative agencies act largely through rule-making. Such rules implement the broad policy dictates of legislation, and by defining the details they shape policy. Just consider the importance of Clinton-era rule-making in advancing his environmental agenda, and of Bush-era rule-making in killing it.

On the state level, new and revised rules proposed by Ohio agencies are reviewed by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), staffed with six Republican legislators and four Democrats. Currently JCARR is limited to assessing whether proposed or revised rules follow legislative intent and stay within the scope of statutory authority, a function that yields only limited opportunity for obfuscation. Now the Republican majority intends to railroad through a drastic expansion of JCARR's role that will hamstring administative power.

HB 685 is a classic power-grab. Administrative agencies will now be required to pay a $50 fee (required to come out of each agency's own appropriation) for each new or revised rule. Rules cannot be accumulated under one fee, so a package of 50 rules will cost $2,500. (The fee does not apply to rules that merely track federal regulation, revealing the anti-regulatory ideological animus of the change.)

The real damage, however, is not the fee but an expanded scope of review and broad new power on the part of JCARR to delay implementation. Under HB 685, agencies are required to analyze any economic impact the proposed rule is likely to have upon Ohio businesses in the rule summary and fiscal analysis (RSFA), including which businesses are affected, how much it will cost to comply with the rule, the additional time businesses will spend on compliance, measuring the regulatory burden on business, and "any other information" needed to "fully explain" the impact on Ohio business. If 6 members of JCARR (i.e., the Republicans) decide that the RSFA is "incomplete or inaccurate," they can return the rules to the agency or simply postpone consideration for 60 days. After the 60 days have passed, the rules are treated as if they were the original version of the rules, apparently meaning that they can be postponed again and again. In other words, unlimited delay and obstruction.

Bottom line, this law gives six Republican legislators unbridled power to stall administrative rule-making by the Democrat-controlled executive branch of government. It's a direct strike at Ted Strickland's ability to govern the state effectively.

It's time to sound the alarm, before this drastic change is whisked through the General Assembly during the lame duck session. Write to your local newspaper, post a comment on a blog or forum, talk to your friends and neighbors. Public outcry is the only thing that can stop it.

Cross-posted at Buckeye State Blog and Ohio Daily Blog