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Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 @ 12:17 PM
DAYTON — Mason Kennedy spent a weekend leading dozens of Boy Scouts and other volunteers to rebuild the stockade at SunWatch Indian Village as part of his push to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
The Beavercreek sophomore and member of Troop 68 is continuing a family tradition: his father Steve Kennedy and his two uncles are all Eagle Scouts.
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To rebuild the roughly 300-foot long stockade that serves as a barrier surrounding part of the village, Mason and his volunteers harvested willow boughs around a pond at the Germantown MetroPark and transported them to the village site off West River Road in Dayton.
The volunteers then had to work the bendable green boughs in between the posts that make up the stockade, a skill known as waddling, before the tree limbs dried out.
Bill Kennedy, Mason Kennedy’s uncle and also an Eagle Scout, works to preserve SunWatch Indian Village, which is operated by the Dayton Society of Natural History, a nonprofit organization operating three local museums.
Bill Kennedy said these are tough times for nonprofit organizations, meaning heavy reliance on volunteers and support from the community.
“This was a phenomenal contribution of labor but also planning,” Bill Kennedy said. “It provided something for the public that we could not have afforded to do. The labor that Mason and Troop 68 put into this was very efficient … they were able to do in a day and a half what would probably have taken at least a week with paid staff and saved the museum thousands of dollars that we don’t have to spend.”
SunWatch Indian Village is made entirely of perishable materials. The thatched-roof huts, stockade and other features over time require repairs.
Bill Kennedy said his organization is in the process of rebuilding the village, and they can now put rebuilding the stockade off the to-do list.
In addition to the Boy Scouts, Mason Kennedy’s other passion is swimming. He is a member of the Dayton Raiders Swim Club. He swims and dives for Beavercreek High School.
Mason Kennedy said he hopes his project helps the student groups who visit the site better understand the American Indians who once populated Southwest Ohio and the Miami Valley.
“There are a lot of younger children who come to this facility to be educated about what native Americans did as part of school projects as part of class field trips. I wanted them to be able to understand the full extent as to what the native Americans did and built,” he said.
Mason Kennedy said the most challenging aspect was harvesting all the willow boughs and getting them transported to the site.
“I had to keep people organized. I had to make sure everybody was doing the correct job and most efficiently,” he said.
Among the merit badges pinned to Kennedy’s Boy Scouts uniform are for life-saving, camping, physical fitness, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and sculpture.
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 3:07 PM
— If you can measure the popularity of a job by the number of people seeking it, the race for the Ohio House 42 district in southern Montgomery County is the region’s winner.
Five people — three Republicans and two Democrats — are on the May 8 ballot for a seat in a district that has long been a Republican stronghold. About 62 percent of the district is Republican, according to the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association’s 2016 Election Guide.
The candidates will take part in a debate Monday night, April 23, at Miamisburg High School, 1860 Belvo Road, at 6:30 p.m.
The debate is sponsored by the Dayton Daily News, WHIO and the Dayton Area League of Women Voters
Here is a look at the candidates:
Two candidates, Zach Dickerson and Autumn J. Kern, both of Miamisburg, are running for the Democratic nomination. Kern did not respond to any requests for comment or complete a Dayton Daily News Voter Guide.
Dickerson describes himself as a moderate Democrat who wants to focus on “kitchen table” issues such as fixing potholes, improving schools, funding first responders, battling the drug crisis and bringing good jobs and investment to the district.
He supports establishing a new microloan program for small businesses, restoring the local government fund and improving school funding so districts do not have to go on the ballot for property taxes so often. He’s not sure where he would find the money for those measures but said a review is needed to determine whether state tax cuts have been effective in stimulating the economy.
He supports the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which provides heath insurance to 685,000 Ohioans who were previously ineligible for coverage under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act. He said that expansion is crucial not only for helping people get preventative care but also in getting treatment for drug addiction.
He said he wants to work on bipartisan legislation to help the district.
“I feel like I will be an advocate for civility,” Dickerson said. “I want a functioning government run by reasonable people. I don’t think we have that right now.”
On other issues, Dickerson said he supports Republican proposed limits on pay day loans and reducing hours for cosmetology licenses. But he said Republican efforts to cut access to safe, legal abortions are wrong-headed and sometimes do not pass constitutional muster.
He did say he would support “reasonable restrictions” such as banning late-term abortions, according to his Voter Guide answers.
Dickerson grew up hunting and said there needs to be a balance between Second Amendment rights and protecting the public. He said assault-style weapons should be banned and he supports “red-flag” legislation that would keep people from having weapons if they pose a threat to themselves or others.
Three candidates are seeking the Republican nomination: State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg; Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah M. Clark and political newcomer Marcus Rech.
Antani is seeking re-election to the seat he has held since 2014.
He said he has been a strong voice for conservative values in the Statehouse and has voted to cut taxes, for stronger abortion restrictions and for capping college tuition increases.
“As I’m in office longer I have more ability to deliver on legislation,” Antani said.
Antani wants to eliminate the state income tax and says he would oppose raising taxes. At the same time he advocates providing more support to community colleges for workforce development, increasing funding for law enforcement and restoring funding to local governments so they can fix roads and bridges instead of relying on the state to do it.
He also wants to have a drug dog inspecting every Fed Ex and U.S. mail piece in the state in an effort to stop the mailing of drugs. Antani said he doesn’t know what that would cost but it “would be very expensive.”
Doing without the state’s income tax revenue — which totaled $8 billion in 2017 — would be a tall order. Although he didn’t have a firm plan for reducing state revenues by that amount while still increasing funding for measures he supports, Antani said lawmakers would have to set priorities. He also advocated using $1 billion of the state’s rainy day fund for law enforcement to help fight the opioid epidemic.
Antani said he wants to reduce the number of people on Medicaid by providing work training and job coaches for able-bodied, childless adults.
Antani would eliminate the state-mandated minimum wage, which is currently governed by a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2006 that requires that it rise with inflation.
“The market should dictate wages,” Antani said.
He wants to freeze any changes in kindergarten through 12 education for five years and study best practices during the period, he said.
Antani is a strong supporter of restricting abortion rights and of loosening restrictions on guns. He said will support any anti-abortion legislation, including requiring that schools teach the controversial concept that a fetus feels pain at 18-20 weeks, something many scientists say is not true based on the neurological development of a fetus, according to Factcheck.org.
Earlier this year he advocated that 18-year-olds be allowed to carry long guns to high school, a position that was criticized by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. He said he is no longer commenting on the subject.
Sarah M. Clark
The Miamisburg councilwoman said her opposition to Antani’s representation of the district is what put her in the race. She said she has more real world experience than he does and believes she would do a better job in the Statehouse.
Clark said she supports the Second Amendment but Antani’s idea that students could bring guns to school is wrong-headed and dangerous.
“I think it certainly highlighted his immaturity and inexperience,” Clark said, arguing that highly-trained armed security guards are a better option.
Clark wants to eliminate the Medicaid expansion, which she said costs taxpayers too much and hurts the people who are on Medicaid because she says they can’t find doctors who will take Medicaid.
She said health care wouldn’t be so expensive if the state passed a health care cost transparency plan that would make pricing more competitive.
She does credit Medicaid with covering drug treatment for addiction. She said too many legislators focus on punishing addicts but she wants to instead have the state get people 18 months of treatment and imprison all drug dealers who sell opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Clark said she wants to get rid of government regulations that have hurt job creation, though she couldn’t name one that she would put on the chopping block.
She also wants to cut taxes if possible and said tax breaks have enabled Miamisburg to attract companies to the city.
Clark opposes “abortion in all circumstances,” according to her Voter Guide answers. She said abortion opponents should extend their “pro-life” view to making sure people are “supported and cared for” after they are born as well. She said she’d like to see churches and other community groups take over more of the job of helping people with addiction, health care and foster care.
Rech said he is running because he believes Antani is too divisive. He also said he opposes Antani’s idea of teenagers bringing guns to school.
“You can’t have 18 year olds walking around with loaded long rifles in schools,” Rech said. “It was a big blow to Second Amendment supporters. It made us look stupid.”
Rech said a better plan for school safety would be more use of metal detectors, hiring more security and training school staff as backups.
Rech wants to repeal the expansion of Medicaid health insurance and said people who lose their insurance should negotiate their own prices with doctors under the Direct Primary Care model. He supports more transparency in health care pricing as well.
“I just want people to have choices,” Rech said.
He believes government subsidies for medical care are what has driven up prices.
A big theme for Rech is that Americans need to be the ones getting jobs. He said schools should upgrade the core curriculum and the state needs to give teachers more freedom. He also said there needs to be more vocational training because not everyone is cut out for college.
“I’d like to see a cheaper version of education,” Rech said. “I’d like to see it more streamlined.”
He opposes the use of special visas and green cards to hire non-Americans by universities, contractors and government.
“I think we should talk to these companies and if we need to maybe we can do some taxation to discourage it,” said Rech.
Ohio House of Representatives 42nd District
Term: 2 years
Pay: $60,584 annually
District: Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Germantown and part of Centerville, and Washington, Miami and German townships.
More information on the candidates
Education: Law degree from University of Denver and bachelor of fine arts from Texas State University
Employment: Market research manager at Lexis-Nexis
Political experience: None
Political party: Democrat
Autumn J. Kern
Political party: Democrat
Kern did not respond to requests for further information
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State University
Employment: State representative
Political experience: State representative since 2014
Political party: Republican
Sarah M. Clark
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Trevveca Nazarene University
Employment: Business manager at Midwest Dental and Miamisburg vice mayor
Political experience: Mimaisburg council member since 2010
Political party: Republican
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management from Thomas Edison State University
Employment: R &R Painting and Flooring
Political experience: None
Political party: Republican
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 2:52 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 2:52 PM
WASHINGTON — Most Ohio lawmakers on Capitol Hill — including Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — say it would be a mistake for President Donald Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, though taking action to block the president from doing so has more opposition among local Republicans.
“We need to let Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation go forward,” said Turner, R-Dayton. “He is looking at important questions: what was the activity that was undertaken by Russia, how do we stop it in the future, and what actions may have been undertaken by Russia with the presidential campaigns?”
Emily Benavides, a Portman spokeswoman, said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “has already stated that only he can fire the special counsel and he believes there is no cause to do so. Rob has said numerous times that it would be a big mistake to head down this path.”
Portman, however, is not certain a bill to protect Mueller is constitutional. In an interview last week on CNN, Portman said “the president has the constitutional right to be able to hire and fire people who work for him. As my lawyers have looked at the legislation … they believe it is not consistent with that constitutional right.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said Trump “has the right” to fire Mueller but added the president has “been very clear he’s not going to do it. I don’t know how many times he has to say it.”
Calls by some conservatives to fire Mueller intensified after an April raid on the home and offices of Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Although the raid was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and not Mueller’s office, some see it as an example of the special counsel expanding the probe beyond its original purpose.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Trump is to blame for how long the investigation is taking. “I just wish the president would put everything on the table, would quit stonewalling, tell us everything and get this investigation done with,” Brown said. “It’s gone and on and on because the president continues to call people names and continues to tweet that there’s nothing there and then things are found.”
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, has expressed concerns about the Mueller probe, but agreed it would not be “advisable” to fire him. But Davidson said he would probably vote against a bill protecting Mueller from firing, preferring instead a measure questioning the amount of money the Justice Department is spending on the probe.
“We’re OK with you launching an investigation. We support letting Justice have its blindfold on and restoring credibility to the Department of Justice. But we are concerned the actions of the special investigator are working at odds with that,” he said.
Mueller, a former director of the FBI, was named special counsel last spring after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigating potential contacts between Russian intelligence officials and Trump aides.
Because of Mueller’s investigation, federal grand juries have indicted 13 Russian nationals for trying to interfere with the 2016 campaign. In addition, Paul Manafort, who for a time managed Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Rick Gates, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, were indicted on charges of money laundering in connection with the Ukraine government
Gates, former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to making false statements and are cooperating with Mueller’s investigators. But no information has been made public about whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tip the election toward Trump.
Presidents have the power to fire people in the executive branch. In October of 1973, U.S. Solicitor General Robert Bork carried out President Richard Nixon’s order to dismiss Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox who was investigating the Watergate break-in.
Bork obeyed Nixon’s order after U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned rather than fire Cox and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus was fired when he refused to dismiss Cox.
Known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Cox’s dismissal intensified calls for Nixon’s impeachment and directly led to his resignation as president in August of 1974.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, predicted a similar outcome if Trump fired Mueller.
“Let me be perfectly clear — firing Robert Mueller or appointing a new deputy attorney general with the express purpose of stonewalling this investigation would be an egregious abuse of power, and an impeachable offense,” Ryan said.
Rep. Stive Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said Mueller should “follow the facts wherever they may lead. I look forward to seeing the results of his investigation, and hope it reaches a conclusion soon.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he would “like to see this investigation carried out fairly, thoroughly, and expeditiously.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 12:52 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:03 PM
— One crowded Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, led Nashville resident James Shaw Jr. to the restaurant where a gunman opened fire early Sunday morning, killing four people. Shaw acted quickly to disarm the gunman and toss the rifle over the counter at the Antioch restaurant, an action police said saved several lives, The Tennessean reported.
Shaw, 29, a graduate of Tennessee State University, said he was at a fraternity house party on Saturday night and decided to go to a Waffle House with some friends, the newspaper reported.
The restaurant on Bell Road in Antioch was crowded when Shaw and his friends arrived at 2:30 a.m., so they decided to go to the one on Murfreesboro Pike, which was two miles away, the Tennessean reported.
They arrived at the second Waffle House at 3:20 a.m., shortly before the shooting began.
According to his Facebook page, Shaw is a wire technician for AT&T. At a news conference Sunday afternoon, he said that he was born and raised in Nashville and has a 4-year-old daughter.
“I think I’m a pretty cool guy,” he told reporters.
Shaw began receiving messages on social media, lauding him for his quick action.
“You are my hero!” Jackie Thames posted on Facebook. “You are so brave and your daughter has just another reason to be proud! Thank you for saving lives sir! The world is a better place with you in it ♡”
James Shaw Jr. was identified as the hero who helped stop the Waffle House shooter this morning. He says he doesn’t feel like a hero, which is exactly what you’d expect a real hero to say. https://t.co/0N08omw80u— Jon Henshaw (@henshaw) April 22, 2018
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 2:47 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 2:47 PM
WASHINGTON — Republicans’ next big push for welfare reform has come courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs.
The federal farm bill, which expires Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, making the bill’s passage traditionally a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing rough times from being driven out of business entirely.
But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at welfare reform.
A bill passed on party lines by the House Agriculture Committee last week would significantly beef up current SNAP work requirements. Republicans say the program should shrink – the economy has improved and the program was designed to be a hand up, not a hand out. Democrats, meanwhile, say it’s cruel.
Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, compares it to the unemployed good friend who moves in with you. “You’d be like, ‘hey, man, I’m glad to help you out for awhile, but are you going to go to any job interviews?’” he said. “We would do that! And somehow when the government does it it’s mean. And we have to be willing to do what we would do even for our friends or we’re not going to get this spending under control.”
Counters Melissa Boteach, the senior vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity program at the left-leaning Center for American Progress: “Taking away someone’s food isn’t going to help them find a job any faster.”
Here’s how the bill would change work requirements: Current law requires able-bodied adults between 18 and 49 with no dependents to work at least 20 hours a week or receive an equivalent amount of job training in order to receive the benefits.
They’re allowed to be unemployed for three months during a three-year period, but beyond that, face the risk of losing their benefits. And states have the flexibility to loosen that requirement or beef it up, depending on their preference. The disabled, seniors, and those taking care of children are exempt from the work requirement.
The bill passed last week by the House Agriculture Committee changes that age range to the ages of 18 to 59. It also imposed the work requirements on those with children over age six. And it imposed a set of progressively tougher sanctions for those who can’t prove they’re working or receiving job training, starting with the loss of benefits for a year.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks, said the new requirements include “some of the most punitive provisions I’ve ever seen in doing 30 years of doing this work.”
“I’ve never seen anything as cruel as this piece of legislation,” she said.
But its defenders say the bill will help refocus the program into one that helps those who cannot help themselves.
“The economy’s in great shape,” said Robert Doar of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “There are opportunities out there. The labor force participation is still below what it was at the beginning of the Great Recession. There are still people who are eligible to work who are remaining on the sidelines.”
He said more than nine million Americans to receive the benefits “could work.”
“I think most Americans believe the purpose of programs like the food stamp benefit is to help people move out of poverty through earnings, not to keep them more comfortable or less uncomfortable in poverty,” he said.
SNAP helps to feed some 40 million low income Americans. In Ohio, Hamler-Fugitt said, some 1.4 million people participate. Of that group, more than 700,000 are children. Some 200,000 are seniors. And 360,000 are people with disabilities.
The bill also federal dollars to help states create job training programs for those who must meet the work requirement.
Democrats, however, argue that money isn’t nearly enough.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, a Cleveland Democrat who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, said states will have to develop training programs to comply with the bill. And there’s no requirement, she said, that training leads to work. “We are, in fact, creating a bureaucracy at the state and local level,” she said, saying that the bill doesn’t include enough money to actually pay for that bureaucracy.
But Doar disputes the notion that the bill underfunded the job training programs, saying states and localities also have job training resources. “I think they could make substantial, significant progress to helping people move out of poverty with the resources being offered here,” said Doar, a former commissioner of social services for the state of New York.
Rep. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican who has long championed welfare reform, said the move is overdue.
He said reforming welfare would “help everyone – help the economy, help the budget, help employers and most importantly, help people stuck in the dependency welfare lifestyle.”
“Every single day when I’m out an about in the district, I’m talking to employers who are finding it difficult to find people to work,” he said. “There are employment needs out there.”
Still, he’s not sure if he’ll back the bill when it comes to the floor of the House, he said in an interview this week. He’s concerned about the money devoted to workforce development. “I’m nervous about another government program,” he said. And he knows it will be a hard sell in the Senate, where the majority is far more narrow. He said if Congress can’t reform welfare as part of its agriculture bill, it should consider a short-term extension until it can do so.
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BY THE NUMBERS
80 percent of the farm bill goes to federal food assistance
SNAP helps to feed some 40 million low income Americans.