Ohio should not restrict citizens’ right to petition government

We want to thank Sen. Gardner for conducting the Town Hall Meeting last Saturday and listening to the concerns and questions from his constituents.  At that meeting, I asked him about HJR19 in regard to amending the process for getting a petition on the ballot. The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens several fundamental freedoms including ‘the freedom to PETITION the Government’.  In Ohio, the process to get a measure on the ballot is already quite stringent and HJR19 provisions make it even more difficult. Senator Gardner responded to me that the concern was that large donors from out of state were infringing on the rights of Ohio citizens.  If this is the true concern, we respectfully suggest that the Legislature address ‘Money in Politics’, rather than unduly burdening civic organizations, such as the non-partisan League of Women Voters, to successfully get a petition measure on the ballot. Fellow citizens, if this issue being rushed through the ‘Lame Duck’ Session is of concern to you, please contact your elected representatives: Sen. Gardner  614-466-8060 or 419-352-1984 Rep. Gavarone 614-466-1804 or 419-345-7768   Joan and Bob Callecod Bowling Green  

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Democrat Zack Space says as auditor he’d look to limit the role of money in politics

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Donald Trump got one thing right, Democrat Zack Space believes. Space, who is running for state auditor, said the president’s assertion during the campaign that the political system “was rigged” resonated with many voters. Space doesn’t agree with Trump on much but he agrees with him on that. Space is running against Republican Keith Faber. “The system has been rigged by money and political greed,” Space said during a recent campaign stop in Bowling Green. “The money manifests itself by political contributions, all of which are legal, and improper influence on policy. And political greed manifests itself through gerrymandering. Politicians drawing their own lines.” That allows politicians to select their voters, instead of voters selecting their candidates. As auditor he’ll have a say in addressing that. The auditor will have a place on the panel that will redraw state legislative districts, and possibly on the one that redraws congressional districts. Space, though, has mixed feelings about Issue 1, the constitutional amendment calling for the redrawing of congressional districts, which passed in May. While it is a step in the right direction, he said, it still will allow for gerrymandering by the Republican state legislature. All they have to do is lure a third of Democrats with “extremely safe” seats, and the status quo is maintained. “So the potential for gerrymandering still exists.” This kind of political chicanery “causes people to lose in politics and the institution of government and in democracy itself,” Space said. “When they lose faith in democracy they naturally turn to authoritarianism.” The influence of money in politics is seen in the two controversies roiling state government – for-profit charter schools and pay-day lending. The current a state auditor Republican Dave Yost, who is running for attorney general, could have brought the ECOT scandal to a head by declaring the books unauditable. Then it would be up to a judge to decide whether that was a proper use of public funds. Instead the Democrat said, the charter school company continued to received state money, costing local school district millions of dollars. Earlier this month Space, who served two terms in Congress before losing a bid for re-election, announced schools on his first day as auditor he would create a commission to investigate malfeasance in for-profit charter. The legislature, Space added, only addressed the pay day lending industry after the controversy boiled…

Two Democrats vying to take the Fifth for their party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If either James Neu Jr. or J. Michael Galbraith would succeed in their bids represent the Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. Congress, the winner would be the first Democrat to do that in 80 years. And for 40 of those years, a congressman named Latta has held the seat, Del Latta for 30 years from 1959-1989, and his son, Robert Latta, for the past 10. But both candidates, as well as the incumbent’s two Republican challengers, feel Latta is vulnerable, and all for the same reason – Latta has largely been unresponsive to constituents’ calls to meet with him on a range of issues. (A story on the Republican primary race with challengers Robert Kreienkamp of Wayne and Todd Wolfrum of Middle Point, is forthcoming.)  Voters will decide on May 8. Galbraith said in a recent interview that “hardly a day goes by when I don’t run into a Republican who tells me something has to be done about our current representative.” And, yes, those are Republicans. Latta “does not listen to us,” Galbraith said. “That’s why I’m running.” Neu said that Latta has four challengers is a sign of the dissatisfaction. “He does not listen to them. That’s the main thing we hear from them. He doesn’t listen to constituents.” James Neu Jr. This is the second time Neu, of Perrysburg, has challenged Latta. He ran in 2016 and garnered 100,000 votes, 29 percent of the vote. Neu said the only way to unseat an incumbent with high name recognition is for a candidate to build their own name recognition over several races. He’s said he has people who recognize him as the candidate who challenged Latta in 2016. Such recognition, he said, is “surreal.” Neu sees himself as a representative of the middle working people. He works on the floor at the Chrysler plant, and serves as a union steward. He said he’s knows the dilemma of having to decide whether to pay bills or buy food for his kids. “I can relate to the average worker in the Fifth District.” He sees the tax bill that was passed late last year with Latta’s vote as “the worst.” People may be seeing a little extra in their paychecks right now but in three or four years those will be gone and “we, the middle class, are going to be paying for…

Earth Week speaker: People favor protections, but not if labeled ‘job-killing regulations’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lana Pollack got her first taste of government regulation, or protection as she prefers to call it, when she was a girl watching beef being butchered. As the Lamb Peace lecturer, Pollack, who chairs the U.S. section, International Joint Commission, kicked off Earth Week at Bowling Green State University posing the question: “If protections are good, why are regulations bad?” Certainly her father who ran a grocery store and butcher shop in rural western Michigan didn’t appreciate the state inspector who stood by while he and his help processed a beef carcass. Her father, Pollack said, was the kind of person who fed a lot of people whether they could pay their bills or not. Once a week he’d go to the cattle auction and buy a couple steers, which he’d bring back. Pollack said she went along, and watched the processing. “I know where my meat comes from.” She could see her father was “aggravated” by the inspector and his seemingly petty demands. In his later years, his daughter asked him if the state regulations made his ground beef or hot dogs any better. No, he said. “But it kept the guy down the road from adding sawdust to his hot dogs.” The consumer wasn’t protected from an ethical business like the one her father ran, but from the unethical ‘guy down the road.” That holds true for the environment as well, including the Great Lakes. That’s why the EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Regulatory Agency. People like “protection,” she said. They think far less of regulations, especially when they are so constantly referred to as “job-killing regulations.” That phrase is tossed around so much that it almost becomes one word. It’s a favorite of conservative lobbying efforts like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Words matter,” Pollack said. It’s not like businesses, including agribusiness, are opposed to government action, she said. They’re fine with it as long as it benefits them. While agribusiness may fight rules aimed at controlling the run-off of phosphorus from fields that causes toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, farm interests back federal government support for ethanol production, Pollack said. Now 40 percent of corn on 7 million acres of heavily fertilized cropland is grown for fuel. Taking action to combat pollution of the Great Lakes is a complex issue that involves understanding the science,…

Speaker encourages conservatives to extol the virtues of the free market

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a building tucked away in the Wood County Fairgrounds, area conservatives gathered to hear a message they feel has too long been hidden. The topic of the evening’s talk, hosted by the Wood County Young Republicans, was the moral case for capitalism. Set aside talk about greed is good, they’d rather talk about self- free markets have resulted in lifting the economic fortunes of people around the world. That was the message of Jeb Morris, a senior trainer with the Grassroots Leadership Academy, an affiliate of Americans for Prosperity. He had a willing audience of about 15 people. In the ice-breaker before his talk he asked them to name someone, living or dead, whom they would like to dine with. Several attendees said their spouses, and Jesus had been put off limits. The others mentioned Lincoln and Washington, economist Milton Friedman, writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, basketball coach Bobby Knight, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and radio host Rush Limbaugh. Despite the blandishments of the left, which for Morris includes Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and most of all Bernie Sanders, the way to lift people out of poverty is free enterprise. With charts and graphs and quotations flashing on the screen, he maintained that as economic freedom has expanded world poverty has plummeted. “Economic freedom has lifted more people out of poverty” than any other system, he said. This means improvements in quality of life for people around the globe. Morris traced this process starting with women’s underwear. Sam Walton founded his business on finding products, such as women’s underwear, that he could purchase wholesale for the cheapest price, allowing him to pass that onto his customers. He didn’t do this, Morris said, “to be altruistic.” Walton did it because it was in his self-interest, just as it is in the self-interest of his customers to purchase his low cost goods. At the root of this, Morris said, is the notion that the value of goods is not intrinsic but subjective. He then showed a slide with a quotation from Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises: “Value is not intrinsic, it is not in things. It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment.” Capitalism is a system, Morris said, that is based on mutually beneficial agreements made freely that protect and respect individual rights….

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 a project called “Fair Districts = Fair Elections,” a non-partisan effort to place a redistricting amendment on the November 2018 ballot across the state. The ultimate goal was to get congressional district lines drawn so that the elections aren’t decided before the votes are cast. “The way it is right now, it just intensifies the divisiveness,” Callecod said last year…

Daniel Gordon announces run for state representative

Submitted by DANIEL GORDON Bowling Green City Councilman Daniel Gordon has announced he is filing petitions this week to run for State Representative in Ohio House District 3, comprising Wood County. “Serving on City Council for the better part of a decade has given me a front row seat to see that decisions made by the state legislature have made our lives worse here in Wood County, and I refuse to sit by and watch that continue,” Gordon said. “We deserve better, and I’m going to offer all of us a real choice and a new path.” Gordon singled out the state legislature’s decision to cut millions of dollars from the Local Government Fund — which is vital to ensuring Ohio cities, towns, and villages have the money needed to maintain services — to close a state budget shortfall. Cuts to the fund have forced local communities in turn to cut needed services and raise fees or taxes to protect schools, fire, police, and social and mental health services. Despite state politicians’ promises that these cuts would make the state healthier, Ohio has consistently lagged behind other states in job creation and economic security, and risks another recession. And Gordon says he knows why. “The legislature has been fiscally irresponsible,” Gordon asserted. They can’t fix the roof by knocking out the foundation. They couldn’t pay off the money they lost spending on pet projects and rewarding their corporate friends, so they took our taxpayers’ money instead. And they have nothing to show for it. We got ripped off, and the worst part is they keep doing it. Not on my watch.” “I’m going to get our money back,” Gordon promised. Gordon sees the state government’s funding cuts as a pattern of assault on local communities. “These folks go to Columbus and preach about “small government,” but then go and pass bills to give themselves more power and restrict ours at the local level,” he said, referring to so-called “preemption bills” which demand new restrictions on what mayors and city councils can do in Ohio. “I believe in local control. If I’m elected, we’re going to take back our municipal authority. That power belongs to us, at the local level, where we know best how to run our communities.” Economic policy is Gordon’s chief focus. “People are working harder than ever, but wages aren’t keeping up with our productivity. They’re stagnating….