Politics

Redistricting makes May ballot – thanks to compromise

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It looked as if Ohio’s redistricting reform might be doomed to failure – with opposing sides of the issue not budging. But on Monday, a compromise was reached that satisfied both political parties plus the League of Women Voters and other citizen groups which had been pushing hard for reform. Ohio Senate Majority Leader Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, called the unanimous Senate passage of Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform “pretty remarkable.” The compromise, he said, should help restore public confidence that state legislators can tackle controversial issues in a bipartisan way. “This historic, bipartisan vote is yet another example how state legislators in Columbus find ways to work together,” Gardner said. This afternoon, the Ohio House voted to support the bill. The compromise was reached just in time, since the deadline to get an issue on the primary election ballot is this Wednesday at 4 p.m. The proposed plan keeps the legislature in charge of drawing congressional district maps, but adds additional steps requiring minority party support to put a map in place for 10 years. Ohio’s current process allows the majority party to dissect counties and cities to create districts that favor the party in power. Under the current map, drawn by Republicans in 2011, the GOP holds 12 of Ohio’s 16 seats while only winning 56 percent of the votes. The plan establishes, for the first time, criteria for limiting the number of times counties, cities, villages and townships can be divided into multiple districts. Monday night the Senate voted 31-0 for a Senate resolution that would place the proposed constitutional amendment on the May primary ballot.  Gardner referred to the effort as a “major breakthrough.” Joan Callecod, a member of the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, was excited to hear about the compromise in the Senate. “It looks promising,” she said. “It’s a positive thing, anytime there is compromise.” The Bowling Green League of Women Voters has been advocating redistricting reform. Local members have been collecting petition signatures for…

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Peace Symposium to address nuclear threat

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS  “Seeking Peace in the Nuclear Era: A Peace Symposium” is the focus of a series of presentations Oct. 16-19 at Bowling Green State University. Four speakers will provide insights on the dangers of nuclear war and threats to peace facing the world today. At the end of the Cold War, the constant threat of nuclear annihilation seemed to be over. Today, though nuclear stockpiles have been reduced, the weapons are still with us. In recent years, new political and military conflicts, especially between western democracies and North Korea and Russia, have revived the specter of nuclear war. Yet the U.S. public, especially young people, are generally unaware of the issues, the nature of nuclear war, the history of Hiroshima, and effective ways to achieve peace. BGSU alumnus Dr. Thomas Snitch ’75, ’15 (Hon.), a scientist and policymaker who spent decades working on nuclear policy for the U.S. State Department, will give the Hiroko Nakamoto Peace Lecture Oct. 16. He will tell the story, based on declassified intelligence, diplomatic history, political intrigue, technology diversions, skullduggery, and his trips to North Korea, about how Pyongyang was able to successfully build, test, and now, possibly deploy a thermonuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. His presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater (Room 206). Gwynne Dyer, a renowned journalist, military historian, author, and filmmaker, will provide an overview and analysis of an array of current threats to peace, with a focus on nuclear issues and North Korea. His Oct. 17 lecture at 7:30 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, titled “Don’t Panic: Threats to Peace in this Nuclear Age,” will explain how people and governments can effectively deal with threats from North Korea, ISIS, the rise of populism, and climate change. Two presentations – an on-campus talk and an event in the community – will feature a discussion with two Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima bomb. Ms. Keiko Ogura and Ms. Setsuko Thurlow will speak on campus at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater, and at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Wood County District Public Library’s…


BGSU’s Albert Dzur to receive medal for promoting democracy

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Albert Dzur, professor of political science and philosophy at Bowling Green State University, is the winner of the 2017 Laurence and Lynne Brown Democracy Medal from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State University. The McCourtney Institute promotes rigorous scholarship and practical innovations to advance the democratic process in the United States and abroad. The institute awards the Brown Democracy Medal annually to honor the best work being done to advance democracy in the United States and internationally. “Albert Dzur’s work represents an important new frontier in democratic theory,” noted Dr. Michael Berkman, professor of political science and director of the McCourtney Institute, in announcing the 2017 Brown Democracy Medal recipient. “When partisan rancor is at an all-time high and confidence in democratic processes is at an all-time low, Dzur shows that democracy is still an effective and empowering way for citizens to address their common problems.” Dzur argues that some of the most innovative and important work in democracy is taking place face-to-face and is encouraged by power-sharing professionals who bring citizens into their decision-making processes. These “democratic professionals” co-create institutional cultures that lead to better decisions, increased trust and less “civic lethargy.” His most recent work focuses on how democratic professionalism can better manifest itself in the operation of our criminal justice system — from juries to prisons. He rejects the conventional wisdom that more expertise and less democracy are needed in criminal justice because of the links between a fearful public, demagogic politicians and mass incarceration. Instead, Dzur focuses on the more foundational problem of “repellent” criminal justice institutions that hinder public awareness of the moral complexity, harmful effects and deeply biased implementation of punishment. He advocates, as remedies, more widespread citizen action and reflection within a revitalized jury system, restorative justice programs and community policing. Dzur’s research in democratic theory has sparked long-term collaborations and has found many practical applications. It has captured the attention of organizations in the United States and around the world. Oxford University and Leeds…


Protestors in BG won’t let Portman forget vote to repeal Obamacare

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Other controversies and crises may have knocked the continuing fight over the Affordable Care Act out of the headlines, but for some citizens it is not a dead issue: it is an issue of life or death issue. About a dozen protestors gathered at Wooster Green in Bowling Green Thursday late afternoon to send a message to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. The gathering was organized by several liberal groups – For Ohio’s Future Action Fund, Indivisible OH5, and MoveOn.org. “This demonstration is to remind people that this fight to protect the ACA is not over,” said Jeremy Bernstein, from For Ohio’s Future Action Fund. Public health care is a “great, great value” for children, elderly and disabled. Dennis Slotnick, another organizer, said the protest was meant as a reproach to Portman, whom the group had earlier praised for voting against the House version of repeal and replace. Then when the issue came before the Senate again, he voted for the so-called Obamacare-light proposal. Slotnick said he felt Portman still “has it in him” to continue to support health care for the public. “But he has to be disciplined in some ways by his constituents.” he said. The group planned to send a letter with a photo of the protest. Several of them spoke of their own experiences with the Affordable Care Act. For Melissa Kritzell, Findlay, having the coverage under the ACA when she was being treated for ovarian cancer saved her life. She traveled to Washington D.C., she said, to tell Portman her story to Portman, but “they’re not listening to us.” “Rob Portman equivocated for a long time,” Anesa Miller, of Bowling Green, said. “He showed a lot of signs that he was going protect the ACA, going to protect the people of Ohio, especially the opioid addicts of Ohio and then he voted against us, and I don’t want him to think we failed to notice that or have so quickly forgotten.” She also said: “I don’t think he’s spoken against…


Rainbow proudly flies again over Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation had a full house Sunday morning. They were a mix of regular congregants, and a lot of visitors who had shown up to support the church as it responded to an act of hatred. On Tuesday someone stole the church’s rainbow pride flag and mutilated it. The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident At noon on Sunday, about 100 people gathered around the flag pole as Andrew Schocket, president of the congregation, raised a new rainbow flag. The morning message on the congregation message board was “Still We Rise.” Schocket said that the news of the desecration of the church’s flag had an extra kick given the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend before during a march by Nazis and other white supremacist groups. The Rev. Lynn Kerr said that in her sermon “I was asking people: don’t sleep through the revolution. The revolution is one of compassion. There’s just too much hate and division, and it only seems to be getting worse. .. We might feel like we’re a small group, but we can’t sit on our hands any more. We’re small, but mighty.” Kerr said she was grateful for all the visitors at that morning’s service. They had read about the incident and “just came out to support us.” “It felt wonderful,” Kerr said. “You just don’t always know how they feel about you. That came out today.” Kerr said she has also received many calls and emails. “The whole community has been very supportive.” After raising the new rainbow flag, Schocket said that the church now has another rainbow flag in storage, so that if something happens to this one, the congregation will be able to get a new one flying immediately.  


Rally in BG responds to right wing violence in Charlottesville

A couple hundred people  gathered Sunday afternoon on the Bowling Green green space for what is being called a Rally to Protect Freedom. The gathering, organized by BG City Councilman Daniel Gordon is in response to deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted by a march of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. One woman died when a car slammed into a a group of counter-protesters. Media have identified the driver who faces multiple charges as James Alex Fields, resident of Maumee. Those attending the rally carried signs including the messages: Racism is NOT history yet No hate here Justice for all A Great America is not racist, sexist, or homophobic.  


Local election official favors limited voter info sharing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio is one of the 44 states refusing to give President Donald Trump’s elections commission all the voter information requested. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has said he will provide the newly created Elections Integrity Commission with information that is already made public to campaigns and political parties. But Husted is drawing the line at Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. The information on Wood County voters is already at the fingertips of the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, according to Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. “Our voter information already is linked with the state data bases,” Burton said on Friday. Though not privy to all the details, Burton said Ohio is handing over only public information. “It sounds like everything he is supplying is public record that could be accessed by anyone else,” Burton said of Husted. The Elections Integrity Commission requested all 50 states to submit full voter information, including registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas. Trump set up the commission to investigate undocumented widespread voter fraud in national elections. He has claimed 3 million votes were illegally cast in the presidential election last year, robbing him of the popular vote. Husted said earlier this year that voter fraud is not widespread in Ohio and the presidential commission’s inquiry was not necessary. Burton shares that opinion, and believes that states should manage elections and counties should maintain the voter rolls. “I fall into the camp that voting and elections fall under the state’s purview,” Burton said. “I’m comfortable with how Ohio and Wood County have gone about the process.” The county board of election’s ultimate responsibility is to make sure that everyone legally able to,…