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Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 12:35 PM
— Democrat Richard Cordray brought his brand new campaign for Ohio governor to Dayton on Wednesday as one of his rivals announced he won’t be pulling out of the race after all.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill on Wednesday backed off his pledge to drop out of the 2018 Democratic race for governor if Cordray entered the race.
Cordray, who last month stepped down as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Tuesday he will seek the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary. Other Democrats in the race include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron.
O’Neill, whose decision to stay on the bench after announcing his candidacy is controversial, now says he will only leave the race if one of the other Democratic candidates agrees to his anti-opioid addiction plan.
“I told Rich that I would not be leaving the race unless I heard that someone accepts my proposition that opening the mental hospitals and legalizing marijuana” is the solution to the opioid crisis, said O’Neill, who proposes funding the hospitals with $300 million in annual revenues he believes will come from legalizing marijuana.
O’Neill was criticized for not resigning from the court when he announced his candidacy on Oct. 29. The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to resign if they enter a partisan race, but O’Neill contends that he would only become a candidate officially when he turns in his nominating petitions by the Feb. 7 deadline.
“I have recused on all future cases, and on Friday I will be announcing my retirement date if my approach is not accepted by Rich,” said O’Neill, who plans to remain on the court until his term ends in 2019 if he withdraws from the governor’s race.
O’Neill ignited further controversy and calls for his resignation last month when he posted remarks on Facebook touting his sexual exploits with “50 very attractive females.” He subsequently apologized for the post.
“After his inflammatory, degrading sexist comments, I called on O’Neill to resign from the court,” said Whaley. “More than once, he has disqualified himself from asking - never mind demanding - anyone take up his platform.
Ryan Stubenrauch, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Mike DeWine, said the state already has six regional psychiatric hospitals.
“Mike DeWine has always been against recreational marijuana. The solution to a drug crisis is not adding another,” Stubenrauch said. “Mike DeWine is focused on fighting the opioid crisis and the drug cartels and the drug companies that are responsible for it.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor are also running in the GOP primary.
Cordray declined to comment on O’Neill’s remarks and said any position he takes on legal marijuana in Ohio will take into consideration that Ohio voters in 2015 rejected a ballot initiative to legalize recreational and medical marijuana. Last year the Ohio legislature legalized medical marijuana, but it won’t be available until 2018.
“I’m very concerned about the opioid crisis. It’s obviously the new crisis, like the foreclosure crisis was 10 years ago, that’s washing over the state,” Cordray said in Dayton.
He said the problem needs a bold approach.
“But my way to do it would be to have the state working closely with local officials, non-profit agencies who do so much good in our communities and the private sector on bringing everybody to bear on solving a problem that otherwise will not get solved and has not been solved,” Cordray said. “And by the way it has blown up over the last five years with no real attention and no effective solutions from Columbus.”
Cordray’s visit to Dayton was the second stop of the day on his “Kitchen Table Tour” of Ohio.
“The kitchen table issues will be my focus, issues of economics and how people can afford health care and they can afford the cost of college education for their children or further training or whatever it is that is needed to prepare young people for the workforce,” Cordray said during his speech in front of about 50 people at The Old Courthouse in downtown Dayton. “It’s about finding that better job, and it’s about providing for people’s retirement.”
Cordray served as Ohio treasurer and attorney general before being tapped by then-President Barack Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He said he’s worked for 15 years on issues of economic insecurity.
Cordray touted his battle as attorney general to help Ohioans as the financial collapse and 2009 recession sent foreclosure filings skyrocketing, and his efforts at the consumer bureau, which was set up in the wake of the financial crisis.
“I’m willing to tackle big problems like the foreclosure crisis, like the Wall Street abuses and get results for (Ohioans),” Cordray said. “I think you look at the work that I did on behalf of all Americans at the consumer bureau, that’s the kind of work that progressives feel is important. People like Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Warren, she’s endorsing me today.”
Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 5:55 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 6:02 PM
Ohio lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to put up more hurdles for cities that want to use automated cameras to enforce traffic laws
House Bill 410 is the latest effort by state Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, to staunch use of the cameras that supporters say help make roads safer and opponents call modern-day speed traps designed to rake in revenue.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in July that a previous restriction on red light cameras conflicted with cities’ home-rule authority. The bill would require cities to file traffic cases in municipal court, instead of using an administrative process.
Seitz said the bill will bring due process back to those who receive citations and test the cities’ claim that the cameras are in use for safety, not revenue. The bill calls for reducing state funding to cities by the amount they earn from camera citations.
The issue appears to have bi-partisan support, it passed the House 65-19 and now heads to the Senate.
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 11:55 AM
— The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio issued an open letter to school administrators ahead of the student protests and walkouts expected across the nation Wednesday after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
The ACLU’s message was clear: We’re watching how schools handle these protests.
The full letter appears at the bottom of this story.
“As students plan walkouts to press for changes in social policy, please bear firmly in mind: The Constitution forbids disciplining students more harshly for politically motivated conduct,” ACLU of Ohio Executive Director J. Bennett Guess wrote. “The ACLU of Ohio may intervene if a student who leaves school as an act of political protest faces more severe punishment because of their political beliefs.”
At schools across the state — including here in southwest Ohio — students have organized walkouts with a variety of intentions, all sparked by the slaughter of 17 people at the Parlkand, Fla., high school.
Some of the walkouts are geared expressly toward more strict gun control, while others are aimed at memorializing the dead in as non-political a manner as possible.
In 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that neither students nor teachers “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” but also recognized the need to prevent substantial disruption to the educational process.
Earlier this month, the Dayton Daily News used Ohio’s public records law to reveal how area superintendents debated whether or not students should be punished for walkouts.
Troy Superintendent Eric Herman said he would not punish Troy students who participate peacefully in walkouts, instead telling school principals not to physically stop the students and “escort them out if need be — supervise them — and return them into the buildings.”
Other schools decided discipline would need to be enforced should students choose to walk out. Miami Valley Career Technology Center Superintendent Nick Weldy told the Daily News he decided the district would enforce discipline measures.
The ACLU letter encourages school officials to “choose their most appropriate response to student activism.”
“This is why we are asking that, instead of focusing on discipline and punishment, school officials should seize this as a teachable moment by nurturing students’ commitment to social action by removing barriers to their participation,” Guess wrote, later adding, “Public schools are essential in educating young people about democracy, and that includes their role in enacting it.”
Read more coverage of school safety issues:
Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 2:30 PM
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 2:33 PM
— State and local governments make payroll with public money, which is why this news organization launched its annual I-Team Payroll Project this month to provide the public with details on how government employees are compensated.
The Payroll Project includes a searchable online database of 388,643 salaries — and counting — from employees in state government, as well as area counties, school districts, cities, townships, villages and other local entities such as libraries.
The Payroll Project is assembled using Ohio public records law. This week, March 11-17, is National Sunshine Week, a time to raise awareness of the importance of transparency in government and access to public records.
Dennis Hetzel, president of the Ohio News Media Association, said there’s good reason public employees’ payroll and personnel records should be accessible.
“These are taxpayer dollars and there’s no accountability if you don’t know how the money is being spent,” he said.
The database currently has the salaries of public employees who earned at least $50,000 — Ohio’s median household income is $50,674, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It includes state employees and numerous government in our region for the years 2014 through 2016. We are gathering 2017 payroll data and updating the database as information is received.
I-Team Payroll Project
Go to MyDaytonDailyNews.com/data/news/payroll-project for a searchable database of public employee salaries in state government, as well as area counties, school districts, cities, townships, villages and other local entities such as libraries.
Published: Friday, March 09, 2018 @ 1:25 PM
Columbus — After a 10-year battle in the Ohio Statehouse to give victims of dating violence the chance to get civil protection orders in the courts, Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign House Bill 1 into law.
Ohio and Georgia are the only states that don’t extend protections afforded to victims of domestic violence to victims of dating violence, according to state Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, a primary sponsor of House Bill 1.
Current law defines domestic violence as occurring between spouses, ex-spouses, family members, those living together or parents. It leaves out boyfriends and girlfriends in intimate or dating relationships where the same patterns of domestic abuse and violence often play out.
“It’s happening all the time. It’s just so dangerous. Any way we can intervene and use the power and the strength and the authority of the law to help these women get out of these relationships, we have to do it,” Sykes said. “The sooner, the better because it’ll be easier for them to break those ties and keep them from ending up in a very deadly situation.”
Examples of domestic violence turning deadly are common across Ohio: two Westerville officers were killed in February when responding to a domestic dispute; four people, including the shooter and the Kirkersville police chief, were killed in May 2017 in another domestic dispute; and in August 2017, a woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murdering her ex-husband after he sought full custody of their children.
Related: Protection orders work but didn’t help victim in Kirkersville shooting House Bill 1 will allow victims of dating violence to obtain civil protection orders through domestic relations courts.
Sykes acknowledges that a piece of paper from a court isn’t 100 percent effective, but she said studies show the orders are followed 75 percent of the time, making them helpful tools in ending cycles of abuse.
When abuse starts
Dating violence can be physical, sexual or emotional: hitting, shoving, choking; unwanted touching or pressure to have sex; being extremely controlling, threatening to harm self or others, stalking or using put downs and insults.
Sykes, who holds a law degree and a master’s in public health, said the earlier a woman can break free from abusive relationships, the better.
Often, abuse starts early. In the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, almost 12 percent of high school girls reported physical violence and nearly 16 percent reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the previous 12 months.
Forty-three percent of college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four women and one in nine men were the victims of intimate partner violence, leading to fear, safety concerns and symptoms of PTSD.
The effort to extend civil protection orders to victims of dating violence began in 2008 when then state representative Edna Brown, D-Toledo, introduced a bill. The dating violence portion was stripped out of Brown’s bill.
Sykes, the daughter of two Ohio lawmakers, finished law and graduate school, returned to Akron and volunteered at a community legal services agency where she discovered that Ohio lacked protections for victims of dating violence.
When she joined the Ohio House in 2015, she teamed up with Cincinnati Democrat Christie Kuhns to pick up where Brown left off. They conducted a 50-state survey and developed a spreadsheet” with 48 ways to define dating violence, Sykes said.
The 2015 bill passed the House but died in the Senate.
Then Sykes and state Rep. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, introduced House Bill 1 on Feb. 1, 2017, passing it 28 days later. The Senate passed it this year.
The only public opposition came from the Ohio Public Defender’s office, which said the definition of dating violence was overly broad and offering protection orders to ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends could turn into he said/she said disputes.
“To be perfectly frank, this bill requires judicial officers to sort out the complicated emotional and sexual interactions of two people to determine if those exchanges were romantic or intimate,” said testimony from the public defender’s office.
Types of protection orders in Ohio
Civil protection order: It’s a legal document that restrains one party from contacting another party, such as those involved in domestic disputes. Issued by a court after a hearing, it can last up to five years.
Temporary criminal protection order: Issued by a court while a criminal case is in progress. It expires once the case is closed.
Anti-stalking civil protection order: This is an order issued by common pleas or juvenile court against someone convicted of stalking or sexually oriented offenses against an individual. The order can last up to five years.
Juvenile civil protection order: Issued by juvenile court, it is an order that applies only when the parties are minors.
What is dating violence?
Behaviors that include physical, sexual and emotional abuse between individuals in a romantic or intimate relationship. Physical abuse may include hitting, choking, shoving, grabbing, pulling hair. Sexual abuse may include pressuring someone to have sex or forcing them to have unsafe sex, unwanted touching, ignoring pleas to stop sexual advances. Emotional abuses may include being extremely possessive or controlling, stalking or harassing, threatening harm to self or others, using put downs and insults and misusing someone’s social network.