June 30, 2012

“I love the Fourth of July…”

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October 20, 2011

By | OpEd News

My guest today is activist and filmmaker, John Wellington Ennis. Welcome to OpEdNews, John. In your career, you’ve produced and directed numerous reality shows and music documentaries. At some point, you became an activist and started utilizing your film skills to express your political passion. What set you off?

I guess what set me off on a course of independent political media was a combination of Bush I & Bush II, 13 years apart.

In high school, while I was immersed in journalism and theater, the Gulf War crystallized an understanding in me that there is a larger war machine in this country that outlasts sitting presidents, and that reality needed to be shared through mainstream entertainment somehow.  That time also got me into organizing anti-war demonstrations, public speaking at events, and networking with activists.

After the rampant election fraud that transpired in the Ohio 2004 presidential election, I felt I had no choice but to do my  small part to become the media.  The miraculous new era of digital video and social media didn’t make citizen journalism possible, but mandatory.  [Read more]

May 9, 2011

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The Business Journal | Youngstown, OH

A new report to be released today will show one in 10 properties in three of the state’s largest cities have been in foreclosure since the beginning of the housing crisis, disproportionately afflicting areas with nonwhite populations, activists say.

The report, being released in advance of JPMorgan Chase’s shareholder meeting May 17, demonstrates as well that more than one out of every 20 housing units in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus have been lost in foreclosure and have became bank-owned property during the last three years, according to National People’s Action, which is unveiling the report.

Ohio is one of the states hardest hit by the epidemic of foreclosure and joblessness. More than 280,000 homes are expected to go into foreclosure in Ohio by the end of next year, putting families out on the street and depleting the local tax base, the activists said. The cost of JPMorgan Chase foreclosures to Ohio taxpayers alone is estimated at $5.4 billion. [Read more]

May 7, 2011

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by Thomas Suddes | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Everyone has a “junk drawer” in the kitchen — a place to stow scissors and other odds and ends that you just don’t know what else to do with.

The Ohio House of Representatives has a junk drawer, too — House Bill 153. You think that’s Ohio’s next budget. But tucked between the 4,000-page budget’s dollar amounts and Revised Code bafflegab is a slew of ideas that, on their own, might never pass.

That fact is inconvenient to (supposedly) small-government Ohio Republicans, who for generations railed against Democratic “logrolling” — that is, winning votes for tough bills by slipping them into politically sweeter measures.

And make no mistake, even HB 153′s purported austerity is plenty sweet for the army of spenders that swarms the Statehouse like an 11th Plague of Egypt.  [Read more]

May 5, 2011

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by Dave Jamieson | Huffington Post

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) have decided to pay tribute to state workers.

In Ohio, Kasich declared this week “Public Service Appreciation Week” on Monday. The same day, Walker announced a new public employee “recognition” program in Wisconsin. Given their high-profile battles with unions and state employees, plenty of people in the two states are wondering whether the olive branches are some kind of joke.

When “honoring Ohio’s thousands of public employees,” Kasich asked his fellow Ohioans to “reflect on all that our public employees do in our communities, and thank them for the invaluable work they do each day.” During his first four months in office, Kasich has made rolling back the collective bargaining rights of public workers a centerpiece of his administration’s agenda.

In response to the declaration, Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish (D) said in a statement that he had to “check my calendar” to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. He continued: “Do you thank teachers and firefighters for the invaluable work before or after you slash their wages and benefits?”  [Read more]

April 12, 2011

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By Robert Wang | Canton Rep

GREEN — Diebold said Tuesday it had considered moving its headquarters and most of its local offices out of Ohio, but it would instead consolidate five of its seven area locations at a yet-to-be disclosed site in the Akron-Canton area.

Gov. John Kasich appeared at Diebold’s headquarters here Tuesday afternoon to announce that the company had accepted his administration’s offer of a $56 million package of tax credits, loans and grants to induce the company to stay.

“For the folks that are located in Akron, Canton (and) Green, this is a big save,” said Kasich.

Diebold President and CEO Thomas W. Swidarski said, “If it wasn’t for the governor’s aggressive stand and stepping up through this legislation, Ohio would not have been competitive enough for Diebold to remain here.”  [Read more]

March 30, 2011

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By KRIS MAHER | Wall Street Journal

An Ohio House panel approved a measure Tuesday curbing collective-bargaining rights for 350,000 state public workers, softening several measures that some Republicans opposed while strengthening other restrictions.

The most controversial amendment would enable public workers to opt out of paying union dues. Currently, workers who don’t want to join a public-employee union can pay a lower dues rate. Public unions would also have to obtain consent from members in order to use dues for political purposes.

A third measure would enable local voters to veto a labor contract that results in a taxpayer-funded spending increase. The bill moves to the full House for a vote Wednesday and the Senate later this week. Republicans hold majorities in both chambers.

Mike Dittoe, spokesman for Republican House Speaker William Batchelder, said the bill “is about being fiscally responsible,” and that lawmakers sought input from public unions on the amendments. “This isn’t about busting unions.”  [Read more]

March 29, 2011

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by Chris Hedges | Truthdig

The uprisings in the Middle East, the unrest that is tearing apart nations such as the Ivory Coast, the bubbling discontent in Greece, Ireland and Britain and the labor disputes in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio presage the collapse of globalization. They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty. They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

We must embrace, and embrace rapidly, a radical new ethic of simplicity and rigorous protection of our ecosystem—especially the climate—or we will all be holding on to life by our fingertips. We must rebuild radical socialist movements that demand that the resources of the state and the nation provide for the welfare of all citizens and the heavy hand of state power be employed to prohibit the plunder by the corporate power elite. We must view the corporate capitalists who have seized control of our money, our food, our energy, our education, our press, our health care system and our governance as mortal enemies to be vanquished.   [Read more]

March 27, 2011

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by Allison Kilkenny | The Nation

Video and photos from US Uncut’s 40 nationwide protests are beginning to come in. Perhaps the liveliest chapter is US Uncut DC whose 100+ members shut down a Bank of America branch on Saturday. Reportedly, the bank managers pulled a fire alarm [1] as action began at the protest. This is not the first time the franchise has successfully shut down BoA’s operations.

Other states decided to target different corporate tax dodgers. In 2009 and 2010, Verizon reported $24.2 billion in pretax income, but the company hasn’t paid a penny in taxes on that revenue, so in Ohio members of the “Citizens’ Revenue Service” went to a local Verizon store in order to collect the taxes on behalf of the American people.

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March 24, 2011

by Bob Fitrakis | Free Press

While Ohio public employees’ rights to bargain collectively are under siege, the Ohio Republican Party executed a perfect sleight of hand by disenfranchising nearly 900,000 Ohio voters. In the most vicious and direct attack on voting rights since Bull Connor ran amok in the deep South, Ohio House Republicans passed HB 159 that requires Ohio voters to produce one of four state photo IDs at the polls.

The only IDs that will be accepted in Ohio if this bill passes the overwhelming Republican State Senate are a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID, an Ohio driver’s license, or an Ohio state ID. This is the most restrictive standard in the nation.

The Republican Party’s target is obvious. Studies indicate that 25% of African Americans nationwide do not have a government-issued photo ID, 18% of voters over age 65 do not have a photo ID, and 15% of voters with incomes under $35,000 lack the ID as well. Besides going after blacks, the elderly and the poor, the bill also sets its sights on college students. What do these people have in common? They tend to vote Democratic.

The Republicans refuse to discuss an amendment that would have accepted a college student ID with a photo from their own state-funded university, including The Ohio State University, one of the nation’s largest institutions of higher education.    [Read more]

March 15, 2011

by ModernEsquire | Plunderbund

The Columbus Dispatch may have unknowingly reported the biggest political story of the year.

Kasich’s budget and the tough measures it calls for has virtually nothing to do with the projected $8 billion deficit (which most people are finally realizing is overstated.)

The Dispatch reports that most of what is going to be in Kasich’s budget has been planned by Kasich and his closest political allies as early as January 2008.

image “Even if there weren’t an $8 billion deficit, we’d probably be proposing many of the same things.”—Gov. Kasich’s Policy Director Wayne Struble

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March 14, 2011

by Vince Grzegorek | Cleveland Scene

It’s a busy news day for Ohio’s governor, even if he wishes news didn’t exist.

John Kasich will deliver the highly anticipated budget for the state tomorrow, but he doesn’t want anyone to watch it. Kasich’s camp announced no TV cameras will be allowed to film the speech. Reporters will be allowed only pen, paper, and recorders, but only for the sake of accuracy, not to be broadcast. No confirmation that this was a compromise, and that initially he told reporters to, “Just try and remember stuff.”

Sound familiar? Like the inauguration incident where Kasich at first said reporters wouldn’t be permitted to attend the official swearing-in, only to double back later on? As the Dayton Daily News points out, Kasich thinks of government transparency like the crew from Jersey Shore thinks about condoms.    [Read more]

February 22, 2011

Press Release by ODP

COLUMBUS – According to sources at the Statehouse, thousands of Ohioans who travelled from all parts of the state are being shut out and not allowed to make their voices heard. Sources say that only 750 people have been allowed in.

“This is the people’s house. Ohioans came from all over the state today to make their voices heard,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said. “To make them stand in the freezing cold and snow today is an unfathomable and unprecedented step. Thousands and thousands of people were allowed in the Statehouse last week to voice their opposition to Senate Bill 5, and they must be let in today. I call on John Kasich to immediately instruct the Highway Patrol to open the Statehouse and let these people in.”

Redfern is a former member of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board. “I’ve seen more than 750 people in the Statehouse for a wedding,” Redfern added. “We routinely received and approved requests from associations and organizations that numbered in the thousands. What is happening now is intimidation, plain and simple. The people’s house has suddenly been closed.”  [Read more]

February 18, 2011

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By Reginald Fields | The Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As many as 3,800 boisterous public workers from across the state descended on the Ohio Statehouse on Thursday, rocking the normally sleepy Capitol to protest a far-reaching bill that would restrict collective bargaining rights.

The union workers filled the Statehouse’s atrium, rotunda areas and adjacent stairwells as they listened to testimony on Senate Bill 5 being piped in over speakers from a heavily guarded second-floor hearing room. A smaller group of tea party activists were also in the crowd to support the bill.

Security was stepped up in and around the Statehouse where the public is normally allowed to move about freely. Highway Patrol troopers blocked access to hallways leading to the Senate room and turned people away as they stepped off elevators. Columbus police cruisers, typically absent at the Statehouse, lined each side of the Capitol, occasionally circling the building.

Not since 1997 when the Republican-controlled Senate removed a provision requiring that prevailing wage be paid on school building construction contracts has there been this heavy a union-backed protest inside the Statehouse while lawmakers are in session.

During that protest, union contractors jammed the Ohio Senate chamber and rotunda and caused so much commotion that a frustrated then-Senate President Richard Finan shattered his gavel trying to restore order.

But that was not the case on Thursday. While the protesters, many from the Ohio AFL-CIO and various police and fire and teachers unions across the state, were loud, the demonstrations were peaceful.

The highway patrol estimated the crowd at 1,800 on the low end. The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board put the crowd total at 3,800, explaining that nearly 1,000 were in the atrium alone.   [Read more]

February 18, 2011

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By Suzy Khimm| Mother Jones

As the political showdown between Republicans and labor unions in Wisconsin continues unabated, an anti-union bill in Ohio has also begun inflaming similar tensions. Thousands of protesters descended upon Columbus on Thursday to register their opposition to a Republican bill that would abolish or weaken collective bargaining rights for public-sector union members, ban public worker strikes, and weaken bargaining rights for police and firefighters prohibited from striking, according to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. In addition, the Ohio paper adds, “Local unions’ right to bargain for health insurance would be limited, automatic pay increases for public employees would be eliminated and teachers would lose their right to pick their classes or schools if the bill passes.”

In one of the most prominent union strongholds in the country, the crowd—”estimated between 3,800 and 5,000″—was the biggest turnout that Columbus had seen for any legislation in a decade. As in Wisconsin, partisan tensions are exceedingly high in wake of the 2010 election results. In both states, the governorship and the statehouse flipped from Democratic to Republican control last year in highly contested races with heavy union involvement. In Ohio, the ousted former governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, even showed up at the Capitol to display solidarity with the thousands of protesting union members. “This has little to do with balancing this year’s budget,” he told the AP. “I think it’s a power grab. It’s an attempt to diminish the rights of working people. I think it’s an assault of the middle class of this state and it’s so unfair and out of balance.”  [Read more]

January 26, 2011

Cuyahoga’s new government overlooks campaign inequities

by Anastasia Pantsios | Cleveland Scene

Cuyahoga County’s new government charter was unveiled last year amid the rising drama of the FBI’s takedown of some of the county’s top players — characters who for years had brazenly interlocked campaign donations for jobs, gifts for contracts, and other mutual favors.

The new charter arrived with extravagant claims that the reformed government would clean up corruption and lead Cuyahoga into a brighter tomorrow. And for whatever reason, it would apparently accomplish this with no campaign-finance regulations of any kind.

With no limits on donations, Republican county executive candidate Matt Dolan was able to accept $200,000 and $300,000 checks from his father, Indians owner Larry Dolan, and his uncle, Cablevision boss Charlie Dolan — something he could not have done if he had been running for state or federal office. But most proponents of the charter didn’t seem too troubled by that.

When transition work groups — organized to make non-binding recommendations to the incoming officials — were announced, there was no such group devoted to campaign-finance reform.

“When I saw the reform measures quote unquote being ‘promoted,’ there was this giant missing hole in these supposedly comprehensive reforms — money in politics,” says Greg Coleridge, director of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Society, whose group was responsible for helping cap contributions in Akron. “Several of us, having seen corruption and the power of corporations, started writing and e-mailing and asking questions. How this could be missing was sort of mind-boggling.”

Their reward for speaking up: an additional group devoted to finance reform — and invitations to take part in it.   [Read more]

December 19, 2010

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By Darrel Rowland | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

There’s the guy who became a billionaire selling dog food, a couple of sports-team owners and the developer of an international spy museum.

That’s not to mention the convicted felon, the business leader who was the main financier of Bob Ney’s defense fund before the former Heath congressman went to federal prison, or the cowboy-hat-wearing industrialist who supports a mysterious out-of-state entity now delinquent in paying a record $5.2 million election fine in Ohio.

They are among an esoteric baker’s dozen of individuals and families who have led the way in bankrolling Ohio political campaigns during the past decade. Together, those 13 deep-pocketed donors poured more than $25 million into state races since 2000.

Despite limits placed on campaign contributions in the mid-1990s, Ohioans just witnessed the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in state history. In fact, every statewide nonjudicial race this year broke spending records, some of which had stood for 20 years.

When he signed legislation capping donations to candidates, parties and political-action committees in May 1995, Gov. George V. Voinovich said, “I’m confident there’ll be a substantial reduction in the amount of money spent on campaigns.” Others readily agreed.

Instead, the price tag for statewide campaigns in the past decade leaped almost 73 percent from the total for the 1990s, most of which had no limits on political contributions, according to a Dispatch computer analysis of more than 4.3 million state campaign-finance records involving more than $1.7 billion in transactions.

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December 4, 2010

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by Sam Stein | Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The Fox News network has solicited the services of a prominent D.C. law firm and an equally prominent campaign finance lawyer to ward off a suit alleging that it made illegal in-kind contributions to a Republican gubernatorial candidate.

The conservative-leaning network has hired Larry Noble, a well-known attorney at the firm Skadden Arps, to defend itself against a suit filed during the height of the 2010 campaign by the Democratic Governor’s Association.

The Great Seal of the State of Ohio

In a filing with the Ohio Elections Commission in late November, Noble argued that the allegations leveled by the DGA were not just baseless but also designed to have a “chilling effect” on future press coverage.

In early August, the Democratic campaign arm accused Fox of illegally helping to raise money on behalf of incoming Ohio Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) by running a chyron featuring his website at the same time that he was soliciting donations during an interview on Bill O’Reilly’s show.

Filed shortly after it was reported that Fox’s parent company, NewsCorp. had made a million dollar donation to the Republican Governor’s Association, the DGA’s complaint seemed politically-motivated. And in his response, Noble makes the case that there was little precedent to interpret campaign finance law with such sweeping conclusions.   [Read more]

October 31, 2010

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by John Wellington Ennis | Huffington Post

Karl Rove was served with a subpoena Sunday, Oct. 24th, 2010, as he arrived at CBS studios to appear on “Face the Nation.” The subpoena was to compel Rove to provide a deposition in a lawsuit that stems from the 2004 election in Ohio. Despite the fact that news crews from CBS and CNN taped Rove being served, neither have reported it or aired the footage.

I sat down with the attorneys who issued the subpoena, Clifford Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis, who explained how their suit reached this point and what Mr. Rove’s legal obligations are, considering his aversion to appearing under oath.

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