Battle heats up over how Ohio should draw congressional district lines

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:17 PM

Grassroots groups seek to end gerrymandering

Rather than fix a broken system, a plan backed by Republican state lawmakers will make certain Ohio voters get gerrymandered congressional districts for years to come, according to grassroots groups that are pushing a vastly different reform package.

The groups — Common Cause Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Ohio NAACP — came out against the lawmaker’s plan Monday, saying it is unfair to voters.

“It does not provide relief from the current situation of partisan gerrymandering and it does make things worse,” said Ann Henneker of the League of Women Voters.

She said it’s possible under the lawmaker plan to draw districts so that Ohio has a dozen GOP-held congressional seats and just three Democratic-held seats. The current makeup is 12 GOP districts and four Democratic districts, but Ohio is expected to lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census.

Related: Groups rebuke redistricting plan

State Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, couldn’t be reached for comment, but previously has said that the lawmaker plan would “ensure that the process for drawing congressional district lines is fair and equitable no matter which party is in the majority.

“We are committed to reaching a reasonable solution in a bipartisan manner,” he has said.

Lawmakers are working to hit a Feb. 7 deadline to put the congressional redistricting proposal before Ohio voters in May. Huffman’s proposal is scheduled for hearings in Columbus this week.

Fair Districts = Fair Elections, a grassroots coalition of 35 groups including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, has 200,000 voters’ signatures of the required 306,000 to put a different constitutional amendment before Ohio voters in November. It is facing a July 4 deadline for collection of the signatures.

Related: Ohio voters may change the way Congressional district lines are drawn

Ohioans could end up voting on both proposals this year. Henneker said if both pass, the Fair Districts = Fair Elections’ plan would trump an earlier-adopted measure.

Ohio redraws legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the U.S. Census. For generations, the party that controls the process has drawn districts in its favor.

But grassroots groups have fought party control over the maps — often termed gerrymandering — in a number of states, including Ohio.

In November 2015, 71 percent of Ohio voters approved a reform plan for drawing legislative districts. It set up an expanded redistricting commission that gives the minority party more power and discourages partisanship, requires compact and competitive districts and adds transparency to the process.

But that new system only applies to legislative seats in the Ohio Statehouse — not congressional seats. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections’ plan would set up a system for drawing congressional lines that is similar to the ballot proposal on legislative districts.

Related: Former state Sen. Tom Roberts elected Ohio Conference NAACP president

The Huffman plan is different. It would initially leave redistricting in the hands of the state legislature but require support from one-third of the minority party. If the legislature couldn’t reach agreement, a seven-member Redistricting Commission would get involved under rules that specify some minority party input.

Former state lawmaker Tom Roberts, a Dayton Democrat and president of the Ohio Conference of the NAACP, said just because gerrymandered districts have been the norm for decades doesn’t make it right.

“What’s going on in Columbus and what’s going on in Washington right now shows us what the problem is when it comes to not having fair districts,” Roberts said.

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Power restored along U.S. 35 in western Montgomery Co.

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 12:23 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:36 AM

UPDATE @ 2:36 a.m.:

Power has been fully restored to customers in New Lebanon, along U.S. 35, according to a DP&L worker who was on scene working on the outage. 

The outage lasted for about 2 and a half hours and affected over 4,000 customers. 

It’s not known what caused the outage.

UPDATE @ 2:23 a.m.:

According to the DP&L outage map, the number of affected customers has dropped to 1,084. The estimated restoration time is 3 a.m.

UPDATE @ 12:35 a.m.:

The number of reported outages now stands at 2,101, according to the DP&L online outage map.

INITIAL REPORT

More than 4,000 Dayton Power & Light customers in New Lebanon, along U.S. 35, are without power and we're working to find out why. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: All eyes on Tropics, Alberto

According to the DP&L outage map, the outage is affecting 4,013 in the area of the Voyager Village Trailer Park and the Snickers Bar & Restaurant, between North Lutheran Church and Diamond Mill roads. 

An email to our newsroom describes a "complete power outage, lots of emergency vehicles" near the trailer park and the bar/restaurant. 

We will update this developing report as information becomes available. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Indiana couple finds bobcat sleeping on front porch

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 1:22 AM

A bobcat (not pictured) was found sleeping on a couple's front porch in  Georgetown, Indiana. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/Getty Images
A bobcat (not pictured) was found sleeping on a couple's front porch in Georgetown, Indiana. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images/Getty Images)

A family in Georgetown, Indiana, said they walked on their front porch to find a bobcat sleeping on a chair.

WAVE reported that Donna and Ray Singleton, the owners of the home, walked out onto the porch around 7:30 a.m. Monday. 

“I looked at it and I thought, ‘That is the biggest cat I have ever seen,’” Donna Singleton told WDRB. “It was very, very beautiful.”

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They left the home for four hours and the big cat hadn’t moved.

“My husband, Ray, said, ‘I think that's a bobcat.’ With that, we got in the car, came back at 11:30 and it’s still there,” Donna Singleton said.

Like Donna Singleton, neighbors began taking videos and photos of the bobcat.

According to WDRB, residents in the area suspect that the bobcat is a pet because it’s been seen in the area before. It’s also known that someone in the area owns a bobcat. With the proper permit, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says it’s legal to own the big cat, according to WDRB.

The bobcat eventually woke and walked away. 

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Endangered Missing Adult Alert for Columbus man, 79, is canceled

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:53 PM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 11:51 PM

Stanley Lapczynski
Stanley Lapczynski

UPDATE @ 11:50 p.m.: The alert for the 79-year-old Columbus man has been canceled.

INITIAL REPORT

An Endangered Missing Adult Alert has been issued for a Columbus man. 

Stanley Lapcynski, 79, suffers from dementia and was last seen around noon Friday when he left his residence but did not return.

He stands 5 feet 6 inches and weighs 190 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a Home Depot shirt and blue jeans.

He is believed to be driving a dark green 2001 Chevrolet Aveo with Ohio plate FFW4599.

Anyone with information is urged to call police or the Ohio Attorney General Missing Persons Unit at 866-693-9171.

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All eyes on the Tropics and Alberto; remnants could reach Miami Valley

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 10:36 PM

Subtropical Storm Alberto formed in the Caribbean Sea near Cancun Mexico Friday morning. The system is forecast to slowly strengthen as it moves into the Gulf Of Mexico, perhaps threatening the northern Gulf Coast around Memorial Day. There is also some potential it could influence the weather in the Miami Valley late next week.

Alberto, the first named storm of the Atlantic Ocean season, is forecast to strengthen as it emerges into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center brings the system to strong tropical storm strength before making landfall somewhere along the Louisiana to Florida coastlines, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.

Long range model tracks show that the remnants of Alberto could influence the weather here in the middle or later half of next week. The main threat for this area would be significant rain.

RELATED: 1st named storm of Atlantic season could hit Gulf states Memorial Day

There is still a lot to keep an eye on through the holiday weekend, Elwell said.

It also is important to note that your WHIO Weather App may alert you if the Miami Valley is placed within the uncertainty cone issued by the National Hurricane Center sometime this weekend. If you get that alert, it doesn’t mean to expect a tropical storm … but that there is an increased possibility of some influence of the storm.

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