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With driver’s license suspensions soaring, lawmakers seek solutions

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 7:00 AM


            State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF
            Chris Stewart
State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF(Chris Stewart)

Ohio lawmakers seem ready to relax some restrictions on the driving privileges of those who have lost their licenses and have little means to pay the reinstatement fees.

At least three bills related to license suspensions are pending in the Ohio legislature.

In one, co-sponsored by Jim Butler, R-Ohio, limited driving privileges would be restored for those whose driver’s licenses were suspended for issues unrelated to driving or using a vehicle for criminal purposes.

In Ohio, there are at least 32 ways people can lose their driver’s license, including dropping out of high school.

In another measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, judges would be allowed to impose community service in lieu of paying reinstatement fees.

The proposed reforms come as license suspensions soar in Ohio. Last year, 1.1 million Ohioans had their driver’s license suspended for one or more reasons — nearly 12 percent of those old enough to drive in the state.

“There’s this permanent underclass that we’ve created,” Huffman said. “If you’re $4,000 or $5,000 down and that’s what it takes to get your driver’s license, you just don’t do it.”

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Perales GOP opponent indicted for extortion and coercion

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:42 PM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 6:48 PM

State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek defeated Republican Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election
State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek defeated Republican Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election

Former Republican statehouse candidate Jocelyn Smith, 36, of Fairborn, was indicted on felony and misdemeanor counts related to alleged threats she made during her campaign against State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, during this year’s GOP primary, according to Greene County Common Pleas Court records.

Smith faces a third-degree felony count of extortion and a second-degree misdemeanor count of coercion, according to court records of the secret indictment filed June 15. Smith, who is a registered-nurse case manager at Sheakley Unicomp and a teacher at Fortis College, is scheduled to be arraigned in Greene County Common Pleas Court on July 6 at 1 p.m.

RELATED: Perales: My opponent is extorting me

Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller referred the case to a special prosecutor, Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai, to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

“The indictment against my client, Jocelyn Smith, is a politically motivated witch hunt by the Greene County ‘good-old-boys’ network and a prosecutorial abuse of discretion and power that will be vigorously defended against,” said Smith’s attorney, Ben Swift, in an email Friday. “We look forward to our day in court when all of the true facts will come out.”

Perales, a former Greene County commissioner and Beavercreek councilman, said he just wants to focus on serving his western Greene County 73rd District, which he has represented since 2013.

“There are no winners in this situation. Justice just needs to take its course,” Perales said. “People have to be held accountable for their words and deeds. I remain focused on winning in November.”

On May 8 Perales defeated Smith 80 percent to 20 percent after bitter primary campaign. Perales faces Kim McCarthy, a Sugarcreek Twp. Democrat, in the Nov. 6 General Election.

During the campaign, Smith alleged that Perales had choked, forcibly kissed, fondled and sexted with her in 2015.

RELATED:Ohio House Rep. denies opponent’s claim he kissed and choked her

Perales, who is married, admits sending inappropriate sexually oriented text messages to Smith during a brief consensual relationship in early 2015 but denies that he choked, kissed or touched her in any intimate way. Perales said Smith sent him topless photos of herself but that he did not send any sexually oriented photos to her.

Smith denied sending the pictures and said that because she refused to have sex with him Perales would not sponsor a pancreatic cancer specialty license plate bill she supported. State records show Perales did co-sponsor and vote for a bill establishing the specialty plate.

RELATED: Perales prevails over Smith in bizarre Greene County statehouse race

The indictment stems from a complaint accusing Smith of extortion that Perales filed with Fairborn Police in April after Smith held a March 27 news conference in Fairborn. At the news conference, Smith said that if Perales did not resign from the state legislature and withdraw from the Republican primary, she would release texts and other documentation she said proved her allegations.

“Please don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages and other mountains of evidence,” Smith said at the news conference. “I think you know the honorable thing to do is to step down.”

RELATED:‘Don’t force me to release the rest of the text messages,’ local candidate tells lawmaker 

In a May 2 interview Smith called Perales’ extortion complaint “a bogus charge. Perales is very good at writing these false reports.”

Smith ultimately released some sexually oriented texts to local news media but there was no way to verify that they came from Perales, nor did they contain any proof that he had choked, forcibly kissed or fondled her.

Perales questioned Smith’s credibility, saying her story changed multiple times and pointing to court cases involving her.

RELATED: Polygraph test for local statehouse candidate canceled

In 2014, a Warren County judge placed Smith in a pre-trial diversion program on three counts of telephone harassment of a man, according to court records. She completed the program and the case was dismissed in November 2014.

In September 2017 Smith successfully petitioned the court to expunge the case, according to Warren County court records.

In 2015 she obtained a temporary civil protection order against the man in the telephone harassment case, and that protection order was later dismissed at her request, according to Greene County court records.

In a separate court case, a civil protection order was issued in 2009 against Smith by a Clark County Common Pleas Domestic Relations Court magistrate after a former boyfriend accused her of harassing him after they broke up, Clark County court records show. That temporary order was dismissed 17 days later after a hearing in which a Clark County Common Pleas magistrate warned Smith against escalating her behavior.

In 2008 Smith was fired as a Clark County deputy after being accused of showing photos of her nude breasts to male co-workers, pointing pepper spray at an inmate as a joke and having an inappropriate relationship with a former inmate. Smith denied all the charges except the pepper-spray incident but lost her 2009 lawsuit and 2012 appeal alleging race and gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Alvanitakis responded to the indictment of Smith by saying, that Democratic Party “candidates are focused on fixing the GOP culture of corruption in Columbus, rather than the unseemly details of their opponents' private lives. That said, we hope Representative Perales has taken the time over the past few months to reflect on how he should interact with constituents moving forward."

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

‘Throw the bums out’ mantra didn’t apply to primary election

The deaths of five women in Dayton linked by drugs, possible foul play

Two drug deaths from one family. Says mom: ‘It was like living in hell’

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Ohio Democratic voters surged for primary, Husted reports

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 1:53 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 1:53 PM


            Voting (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images)
Voting (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images)

Democratic Party voters more than doubled Republicans in party-switching and overall voter affiliation growth for Ohio’s 2018 primaries.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted released voter data Thursday tracking changes for the May primary.

RELATED: Trump may factor into Ohio governor’s race

In 2016, Republicans had outgained Democrats in party-switchers and new voters in a presidential year featuring Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the GOP nomination race.

Ohio voters don’t register with a party, but are considered affiliated with the party whose ballot they choose in a partisan primary.

The elections chief says more than half of Ohio’s 7.96 million registered voters are unaffiliated.

Among partisan voters, Democrat-affiliated voters grew 165,432 this year to top 1.4 million. Republican-affiliated voters grew 60,162 to top 2 million.

Poll: Ohio governor race too close to call

Green Party-affiliated voters more than doubled to 7,353.Ohio voters don’t register with a party, but are affiliated with the party whose ballot they choose in a partisan primary.

Ohio voters don’t register with a party, but are affiliated with the party whose ballot they choose in a partisan primary.

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Ohioans against increased tariffs on Canada, Mexico; split on China, poll says

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 1:19 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 1:19 PM

China Set to Impose New Tariffs on US Products China is adding tariffs on meat, fruit, wine and other goods from the United States. The move comes in response to taxes on imported steel and aluminium approved by President Trump. The new tariffs are to begin on Monday, the Chinese Finance Ministry said. Beijing increased the tariff rate on pork by 25 percent and 15 percent on 120 other U.S. goods.

A new survey shows Ohio voters oppose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union while they are equally divided on tariffs on Chinese goods if those duties raise the cost of consumer goods.

The poll, released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, suggest Ohio voters are more wary of tariffs and protectionist policies by the federal government than many political analysts believe.

By a difference of 45 percent to 35 percent, Ohio voters oppose the new 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imposed last month by President Donald Trump.

RELATED: How would Trump tariffs work?

That opposition increases to 57 percent if the steel and aluminum tariffs lead to higher prices. Economists have argued that tariffs on steel and aluminum will raise the price of a broad array of consumer products from cars, trucks, and washing machines.

“Despite Ohio’s reputation as a blue-collar bastion, Buckeye state voters overall are not supportive of increasing tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the United States from foreign lands,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.

RELATED: What is a tarrif and why should you be worried about it

The polls shows 55 percent of Ohio voters favor tariffs on Chinese imports, but when asked if they would back those tariffs “raised the costs of goods that you buy,” support plummets to 46 percent while 46 percent would oppose the tariffs.

The poll of 1,082 Ohio voters was conducted by landline telephones and cell phones from June 7 through Tuesday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

The poll also showed that 76 percent of Ohio voters favor allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain while 51 percent of voters want to retain the 2010 health law known as Obamacare.

Those numbers suggest that Republican officeholders are at odds with voters in Ohio. Republicans have been cool to overhauling immigration laws and a sizable majority oppose Obamacare.

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Gov. John Kasich more popular with Democrats in Ohio than Republicans, poll says

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 5:24 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 5:24 PM

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)

Gov. John Kasich has a good approval rating with one political party in Ohio, just not his own.

A new Quinnipiac University poll reports that that Gov. John Kasich has a 52 percent job approval rating overall and he’s more popular among Democrats than his fellow Republicans who are evenly divided over the governor.

Fifty-seven percent of Democrats give Kasich the thumbs up and 52 percent of them would like to see Kasich make another run for president in 2020.

Meanwhile, nearly three in four Republicans say they don’t want him to run for president in 2020.

Related: What’s next? DeWine versus Cordray fight for Ohio

Kasich was the last Republican candidate to drop out of the race against Donald Trump in the Republican primary in 2016.

Rumors have swirled since that Kasich may run again as a Republican in 2020. Kasich says he is unlikely to challenge President Trump as an independent, but hasn’t ruled it out.

It’s unlikely, but when you have options on the table, all options are on the table, right?” Kasich said in an interview with CNN.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted June 7 to June 12, contacted 1,082 Ohio voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

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