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Turner, state lawmakers upset state declined money for Wright-Patt

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 7:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 7:22 PM

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and area state lawmakers had a press conference Thursday to express their frustration with a state panel's rejection of a Wright-Patterson AFB plea for funding. Video produced by Barrie Barber.

Area lawmakers are upset Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was shut out of a share of $5 million in state aid vowed changes Thursday to a state panel that decided to split the money for projects at two Ohio Air National Guard bases.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and state Reps. Niraj Antani and Rick Perales spoke at a Thursday press conference about their frustrations with Wright-Patterson’s being shut out in a plea for funding for four infrastructure projects, covering everything from roof repairs to security gates.

Antani, R-Miami Twp., and Perales, R-Beavercreek, vowed to work to change how the money was awarded and review who sits on the nine-member Ohio Military Facilities Commission, five of whom were former high-ranking Ohio National Guard leaders.

Turner, R-Dayton, said he was “outraged” when he learned the commission bypassed Wright-Patterson for a share of millions of dollars to help pay for infrastructure projects.

“We know there are facilities that need funding all across the state but certainly with the largest single-site employer in the state right here in the Miami Valley we were very surprised and disappointed that not a dollar of the $5 million would come to Dayton, Ohio,” he said at a press conference in his downtown Dayton district office.

RELATED: Wright-Patt loses out on millions in state dollars

The congressman, a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said he had worked with Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, to push for the creation of a pot of state money to defray infrastructure costs at federal installations like Wright-Patterson in a bid to compete with other states doing the same thing and out to capture new missions and jobs.

Turner said he expects a base realignment and closure process, or BRAC, will begin next year and start to have an impact in 2020.

Wright-Patterson has a workforce of about 27,000, the most at one employer site in Ohio. The panel voted to send $2.5 million to help relocate a taxiway at Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base and $2.5 million to help build a combined deployment and processing and physical fitness center at Toledo Air National Guard Base.

“As the largest single-site employer, the entire region benefits from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and if this is only going to fund athletic facilities at National Gaurd bases which really don’t face a threat from the federal government to move jobs and missions around, we don’t want to support that funding,” Antani said.

For the panel to divide the “entire pot of funds for two facilities makes you question really what was doing on with the commission and the implications that were in front of them,” Turner said.

The evaluation process should include the workforce size at the facility and the spin-off technology created to “reflect the true value of the military installations” in Ohio, Perales said. He has a budget request for $5 million more to fund the program in the future.

RELATED: Wright-Patt to ask for state funds

The two state lawmakers also noted the majority, or five of the nine members of the commission, were former high-ranking Ohio National Guard leaders.

Antani said the Dayton region, which had one commission member, should have a higher share of the appointees with the state’s largest work site at Wright-Patterson.

“I think we need to retake a look at who’s getting appointed and if they have a conflict of interest in serving in the National Guard,” he said in part.

In an email Thursday, Commission Chairman Mark D. Wagoner Jr., a Toledo area lawyer and former state lawmaker, referred questions about who sits on the commission to the appointing authorities, which were the House, Senate and the governor’s office.

“I would also note that the vote of the Commission was unanimous, so the four members with no previous affiliation with the National Guard also voted to adopt the rankings of the neutral evaluator,” he wore in an email.

According to an OFMC document, chosen projects had applications with supporting documents that gave “much greater detail directly tying the infrastructure projects to military value” and the last base realignment and closure guidelines.

RELATED: Some U.S. military bases face closure threat to save money

Ten projects totaling $13.3 million in requests obtained a point score on how the improvement might increase the military value of the facility in a future round of base closures; local state or matching dollars offered; and a project cost estimate and deadline to completion.

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Judge candidate fails to make ballot in Montgomery County and will fight to get in race

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:22 PM
Updated: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 6:06 PM

Judge candidate fails to make ballot in Montgomery County
Judge candidate fails to make ballot in Montgomery County

One candidate for judge won’t make the May 8 primary ballot in Montgomery County after the board of elections on Tuesday certified nominating petitions submitted by candidates.

Democrat Alan D. Gabel of Dayton submitted nominating petitions with the wrong commencement date for the Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge-General Division position he sought, said Steve Harsman, deputy director of the board.

Failing to put the correct date on the petition is considered a “fatal error” because each common pleas judge position has a specific start date and the correct one must be listed on nominating petitions signed by registered voters, Harsman said..

That means there will be no primary race for the remaining Democrat, Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Gerald Parker of Centerville, who will face Judge Erik R. Blaine, a Republican, in the November 6 General Election.

Gabel said on Friday that he will fight the decision, first by asking the local board to reconsider and then by appealing in court. He said it was clear which judgeship he was running for and that his petitions should have been accepted even though they had the wrong date.

All other candidates were certified except some seeking political party state central committee spots.

County voters will see contested primary races for U.S. Congress and the Ohio House.

RELATED: Who is running for Congress locally? Field is taking shape

RELATED: Who is running?: 18 local state House and Senate on ballot this year

Contested primaries will also occur in the races for Montgomery County Commission, County Clerk of Courts and two other Common Pleas Court races.

Boards of election in Ohio must certify petitions for the May primary election by Feb. 19.

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Springboro to spend $200,000 on land for new park

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 11:04 AM

5.7 acres on NW corner Crosley Rd, Lytle-Five Points in Clearcreek Twp.

The Springboro City Council authorized the city manager to pay $190,000 for 5.8 acres of residential property on Lytle-Five Points Road and shift $200,000 in city funds to pay for the land.

The votes during Thursday’s council meeting came on two legislative items added to the agenda and approved on first readings.

Supporters say the new park would help serve residents in an area where most of the city’s growth has happened.

MORE: Springboro to unveil Veterans Memorial

The land is at 525 W. Lytle-Five Points Road, at the southwest corner of Lytle-Five Points and Crosley Road, in Clearcreek Twp.

City Manager Chris Pozzuto said the seller was Gary Gibson. Property tax records indicate the owners, Gibson and his wife, live nearby on Crosley Road.

The land is valued at $76,270 by the Warren County Auditor’s Office. A home on the property has been removed and a sign indicated it was still up for sale on Friday.

During Thursday’s council work session before the formal meeting, Councilwoman Janie Ridd asked what would happen if the Clearcreek Twp. Board of Trustees decided not to collaborate with the city on the park.

“We have a lot of options,” Pozzuto said, including leaving the land as green space or reselling it.

MORE: Springboro development could spur $350 million in investment

Previous discussion of the land purchase was in executive session.

On Thursday, the council adjourned into another executive session before returning to approve the purchase during an open meeting.

“While the city has over 400 acres of park land / public open space, most of it lies in the west and southwest parts of the city. There aren’t any public parks in the northeast area of the city, where most of the residential growth has been over the past 10-15 years,” Pozzuto said in a email this morning.

Before the votes, Pozzuto indicated the land could be developed as a park or left as green space.

With Councilman Jim Chmiel absent, the vote on each item was 6-0.

“This will allow the city to develop a park close to many of the newer neighborhoods that have been developed recently. The hope is to create a passive park that would contain open space, picnic shelter(s), playground(s), a small paved walking trail, etc.,” Pozzuto added Friday.

The city’s North Park is 2.4 miles away, across Ohio 741, Main Street in Springboro.

MORE: Developer withdraws plan for development of historic farm

The property sale price is $190,000, with $10,000 for a title search and other work done in anticipation of the sale, according to Pozzuto.

We were unable to reach Clearcreek Twp. officials about the proposed park.

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The new Hamilton fire chief has many to thank for his career, including his mother-in-law

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 12:47 PM


            New Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer was sworn in on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF
New Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer was sworn in on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

Some people, when they’re sworn in to a new city government position, bring a few family members with them.

When new Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer was sworn in on Wednesday, he brought a few … and a few more.

They all gathered at the front of Hamilton City Council Chambers for the swearing-in ceremony. There was even one from New York, and Mercer’s mother-in-law, Treva Wyatt, who herself worked 31 years in the city’s tax department.

After the new chief was sworn in, Wyatt announced that she was the one who set him on the path of firefighting for Hamilton 29 years ago.

RELATED: New Hamilton fire chief promoted from within

“Because of me, he is a fireman,” she said. After he married her daughter, “I said, ‘Here’s your application.’ I got it when personnel brought it to me. ‘Fill this out.’”

“We’re lucky and happy to have you as our fire chief,” Mayor Pat Moeller told him. “He’s obviously a family guy.”

The graduate of Badin High School and the University of Cincinnati “knows a lot about technology,” Moeller said. “I think he’s going to advance our fire and (emergency services) in the technology area…. He’s also very responsive to my very stupid telephone questions.”

Mercer displayed his wit during the ceremony. When Moeller asked if any family members wanted to say something, Mercer quipped: “There are a few that probably we want to not.”

At least two kiddingly raised their hands, indicating they were ones who probably should not.

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NRA spent millions to keep Ohio Sen. Portman in office

Published: Thursday, February 15, 2018 @ 2:48 PM

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)(J. Scott Applewhite)

During the 2016 election, the National Rifle Association and its donors gave Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign $9,900 — a drop in the bucket of the $25 million Portman raised and an argument against the notion that the gun rights group had “bought” the support of the state’s junior senator.

But three other numbers are also worth considering: $242,708; $1.55 million and $3.06 million.

RELATED: 5 Ohio school shootings that shocked local communities

The first represents the amount that the NRA spent on independent expenditures such as ads supporting Portman in 2016. The second represents the amount spent opposing Democrat Ted Strickland, who Portman defeated in 2016.

The third is what the organization has spent on Portman since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The oft–repeated refrain from gun control advocates after mass shootings is that gun rights groups used political donations in order to influence lawmakers to oppose gun control measures.

But it’s a little more complicated than that. Instead, say those who monitor the NRA and other gun rights groups, the goal is to make sure that the seats are never held by anyone who might support new restrictions in the first place.

Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, said “it’s mostly hyperbole that campaign contributions can directly buy votes in Congress.”

Instead, he said, the issue falls on strictly ideological grounds: Republicans rarely stray from the party’s stance of opposing new gun restrictions while Democrats — once far more divided on the issue – have dug in on the notion of additional restrictions.

“The debate is on clear party and ideological lines,” he said.

And while Democrats have become more vocal on the issue, it’s episodic. No one is shutting down the government over gun control.

“It’s not like it’s the number one issue in the Democratic Party,” he said.

» MUST-READ COVERAGE: Loaded guns showing up in younger hands at area schools

While money may not change hearts and minds, it does, however, help win seats. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks money in politics, gun rights groups spent some $54 million in outside spending on the 2016 elections. Gun control groups, by contrast, spent about $3 million.

Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles and the author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” said while “money helps,” it’s how that money is spent that matters.

“The NRA is strong today not simply because it doles out independent expenditures,” he said. “The NRA is strong today because voters listen to the NRA.”

He also dismisses the frequent notion that pro–gun rights lawmakers vote that way solely because of campaign contributions.

“If you think elected officials are for sale to the highest bidder, then Michael Bloomberg (who founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group) should just spend more than the NRA does on the exact same candidates,” he said. “I would assure you that all the Republican candidates who got a huge contribution from Michael Bloomberg are not going to change their positions on guns…the NRA’s power comes from the fact that they can swing voters on Election Day and politicians know that.”

While polls taken as late as November 2017 indicate that 94 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers, for example, Winkler said, the gun rights advocates often have more power because they are more vocal.

“In a democracy, a mobilized and vocal minority can often win over a diffuse majority,” he said. “And that’s how it is on gun control. A lot of people support federal gun control laws but are not single issue pro-gun control voters, whereas people are often single-issue pro-gun voters.”

Asked about NRA contributions to her boss, Portman spokeswoman Emily Benavides said Portman supports Second Amendment rights but believes in strengthening the national background check system and working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

“Rob’s priority is doing what’s right for the people of the Ohio and that’s what guides his legislative decisions in Washington,” she said.

She called the most recent mass shooting at a Florida high school — which killed at least 17 — “an unspeakable tragedy.”

“Senator Portman and his wife, Jane, send their prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire school community,” she said.

 

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