Politics

“Sandy has worked hard for the residents of BG.” -Jill Carr

To The Residents of Bowling Green: I submit this letter to express my support of the candidacy of Sandy Rowland for re-election to the Bowling Green City Council. Our primary election is right around the corner. On May 2 I will be casting my vote for Sandy Rowland and I urge you to do likewise. The following are some of my reasons for supporting Sandy’s candidacy. First, Sandy is fully committed to the responsibilities associated with being a member of City Council. She is visible, approachable, an excellent listener, and consistently attends meetings and a wide variety of community events. She takes her constituents’ concerns and questions very seriously and follows-up accordingly. Sandy loves this community and serves it so well. Second, Sandy’s accomplishments during her time on Council are noteworthy. She has worked very hard to bring attention to the needs of residents on the east side of town, especially the deterioration of its neighborhoods. Sandy is a strong proponent of diversity as evidenced by her involvement in Not In Our Town and La Conexion. She has also been a strong advocate for public health and the environment. The list goes on, and will no doubt continue to grow when Sandy is re-elected to another term. Sandy has worked hard for the residents of BG. She wants to continue working hard for us and we need her! So I urge you to vote for Sandy Rowland on May 2. She is a proven hard worker, supporter, and advocate for the residents of Bowling Green. We will all benefit from her experience and her continued dedication. Jill Carr Bowling Green


“Ohio has already been designated as the sacrifice zone for fracking”

By LEATRA HARPER Most Ohioans have no idea of the destruction of the states’ clean air and water taking place right now in the Southeast part of the state in which the extreme energy extraction method of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is taking place and has been for over five years. Once the huge pipeline infrastructure like Energy Transfer’s Rover pipeline and the Williams/Spectra Nexus pipeline are in commission, fracking will take off even more. The pipelines themselves threaten our drinking water and clear cut our forests, spoiling agricultural land and polluting the air with their compressor stations. The pipelines steal private property through the use of eminent domain and threats and false promises made to landowners. Ohio has already been designated as the sacrifice zone for fracking and its toxic, radioactive waste, with Ohio land fills and injection wells solving the industry’s biggest problem on the cheap. It is becoming widely documented of the environmental damage and health impacts of fracking, with a recent study showing an increase in infant mortality likely due to water polluted by fracking with an addition 50 infant deaths as a result (http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2988876/fracking_kills_newborn_babies_polluted_water_likely_cause.html). The pipelines will cause even more death and destruction. A climate bus leaves from NW Ohio in Bluffton this Friday at 8 p.m. (for tickets click) for the Peoples’ Climate March in Washington D.C..  We have many reasons to march for the climate and against extreme energy extraction.  When Rover ramps up, Ohio’s clean air and water will be sacrificed for fracking. When the LLC’s take their spoils and leave, Ohio taxpayers will be on the hook to clean up the mess, if even possible. Accompanying this article is a picture of Rover taken on April 25 with directional drilling going on under the Maumee River – threatening our drinking water. Rover has already spilled over 2 million gallons of toxic drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands (http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/04/19/rover-pipeline-spills-more-than-2-million-gallons-of-drilling-fluid-in-ohio-wetlands-one-month-after-construction-began).The destruction of Ohio’s environment and future economy has been taking place for awhile, and will be even more so soon. With Nexus and Rover giving frack gas access to higher-priced export markets, it will be a fracking free for all with Ohio’s cheap disposal of frack waste for in-state and out of state drillers compounding the pollution and destruction. The harms of fracking are well known and documented – and yet, our legislators, regulators and Governor Kasich look the other way. We will pay dearly for what the multi-national investor community with corporate complicity purchased through campaign contributions is doing to us to reap short-term gain at our long-term pain!  Anyone who cares about their children and grandchildren should be outraged. If you can’t be in Washington DC to march for the climate – do something – anything – to get involved. There’s much more at stake, especially here in Ohio, than most people realize, and that’s what the frackers count on to get away with destroying our clean air and water and children’s futures!


“Sandy always does her homework” -Marcy St. John

Four Democrat candidates will appear on the May 2 primary ballot for Bowling Green City Council. Voters will choose two of them to be the endorsed Democrat candidates for the two at-large Council positions which will be on the November 7 ballot. To my mind, Sandy Rowland is the strongest candidate for an at-large City Council seat. Sandy’s record of leadership and community involvement is decades-long and includes work on the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission and Not In Our Town Bowling Green [NIOT], both of which I worked on with her. She is an excellent choice to represent the community at large, because as a professional realtor, she is able to discern the needs and wants of her clients, who come from all walks of life. She knows how to listen and how to represent a diverse clientele. Sandy always does her homework–she’s visible throughout the community and she is on top of current issues. She asks BG residents about their concerns and she listens to their answers. She has been an outspoken supporter for our new Green Space and for the rejuvenation of East Side neighborhoods. She serves on the Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee for City Council, and she chairs Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. She has been a key player in the development and application of both Bowling Green’s Land Use Plan and its Community Action Plan [revitalizing the East Side]. Sandy knows how essential it is to make positive and ongoing changes in our city, and she has the skills to help keep these changes on course. It is Sandy Rowland’s goal to serve on an innovative and effective City Council for the betterment of our entire community. I encourage you to vote for her in the May 2 primary. Marcy St.John Bowling Green


‘Sandy Rowland has a special eye for ordinances that enhance our life experiences in BG’ – Diane Vogtsberger

I write to support the candidacy of Sandy Rowland for Council-at-Large. Sandy’s resume attests to her qualifications, but I would like to address her performance in support of projects that have made Bowling Green a better place to live and raise a family. Her volunteering at Black Swamp, BG Art Walk, Classics on Main, and Winterfest are just a few examples; there are many more. Perhaps the one I can speak to the most is the preservation of the green space, now referred to as Wooster Green. At every presentation given to Council in order to promote this town square, Sandy asked pertinent questions about its feasibility and indicated her support for such an endeavor. Overtime, as more information was presented, she became more of an advocate for the project. When the mayor announced the creation of the Task Force, she supported it wholeheartedly. And finally, when it came to a vote after the third reading of the resolution, she spoke enthusiastically about why it would be good for our community to embrace this opportunity. The resolution passed 7-0. I relay this story because I believe it reflects how much Sandy cares about providing the best possible community for all of us. Certainly, she and other council members can pass ordinances that govern, but she has a special eye for those that enhance our life experiences here in Bowling Green. Please join me in voting for Sandy Rowland in the primary on May 2. Diane Vogtsberger Bowling Green


“Holly Cipriani has the qualifications needed to lead Bowling Green on City Council” -Jakki Kleinhans

On May 2, voters will select two Democratic candidates to be endorsed for the two at-large positions on Bowling Green City Council. Holly Cipriani is the leader I want for City Council At Large. I fell in love with Bowling Green when I began my undergraduate career at BGSU. The small town feel with the big city opportunities make BG an amazing place to work, live, and raise my family. Cipriani has the Bowling Green values that make our city so exceptional. She is committed to making BG a better place for herself and other community members. Holly Cipriani has the qualifications needed to lead Bowling Green on City Council. After completing her Master of Public Administration at BGSU, she has devoted her time and energy to helping the community. From her years working as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking to her involvement in the Civics 101 teach-in series, Cipriani continues to focus on ways to engage and uplift our community and its citizens. Cipriani’s vision of inclusion will continue to promote the safe and welcoming atmosphere which sets Bowling Green apart. Cipriani has dedicated her life to learning the newest, best, and most effective training in politics. She will continue to bring this knowledge and experience to serve on City Council and build Bowling Green upward and outward. I encourage you to cast your ballot for her in the primary. Sincerely, Jakki Kleinhans Bowling Green, OH


“Being elected to public office often means facing disagreement” -Gary Jones

Latta Town Hall My letter is to encourage Congressman Latta to to hold a town hall event for his constituents. Those of his colleagues that have done so have improved the perception the public has of them. Those in congress represent all of the people and in a two party system there will be those who disagree with the position that a member of congress may have. That is how democracy works. Being elected to public office often means facing disagreement. Please Congressman Latta: a town hall for everyone. There is no danger to you in such an event. Gary Jones Bowling Green


Congressional candidate to hold listening session

From GALBRAITH FOR CONGRESS Michael Galbraith (D) announced today his plans to hold a listening session with interested area residents at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green, Tuesday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. Galbraith recently declared his candidacy to challenge incumbent Robert E. Latta in the 2018 election for the right to represent Ohio’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I am getting in this race to represent the people of the 5th Congressional District, and the first step in the process is to hear their hopes and concerns,” said Galbraith. “The most important job of a Member of Congress is listening to constituents. This listening session is just the start.” Following the announcement of his candidacy, the chairman of the Wood County Democratic Party, Michael Zickar, said “I think he’ll be a great candidate. So many people are frustrated with the status quo. There’s a lot more energy this cycle. People are really fired up.” Details about the event can also be found on the campaign’s Facebook page, Galbraith for Congress, and at the website, www.GalbraithforCongress.com. J. Michael Galbraith grew up in Maumee. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bucknell University and an MBA from Bowling Green State University. He also worked in international finance, mostly in London, for almost 30 years. When he returned to Northwest Ohio, in 2003, he worked as a financial adviser for Northwestern Mutual. He now teaches in the Finance Department at BGSU. His father, John A. Galbraith, served in the Ohio Legislature as a Republican from 1967 to 1986. Galbraith currently runs his own small investment firm and serves on the Water Committee of the Toledo Rotary Club. He resides with his wife in his hometown of Maumee.


Voters want to see Latta and Trump’s tax returns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every Friday they show up with their signs – fueled by frustration and fear about the future of the nation. This week, constituents of Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District had two main questions for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta at his office in Bowling Green. But as usual, they had to settle for talking to the congressman’s staff. First question – why has Latta refused to meet with his constituents? “Where is Bob Latta. We really want to see him,” said Betsey Davis, of Indivisible Maumee River Progressives. And second, where are President Donald Trump’s tax returns, and why did Latta vote that the president shouldn’t have to make them public? “Where are his taxes? Let’s have some honesty,” Davis said. As some citizens stood out along North Main Street, others went into Latta’s office and voiced their concerns and questions to the congressman’s staff. Despite repeated requests, Latta has not responded to their efforts to meet with him. “We’ve invited him so many times,” said Kathy Bangle, of Fulton County Indivisible. “We want to talk to him. We want to hear what he has to say. We come every single Friday. His aides are wonderful. But it’s not the same as talking with him.” On Friday, the posters again revealed the thoughts of the constituents. “Latta is Lost,” “Wanted for Not Doing His Job,” “MIA.” They periodically broke out into chants of “Where is Bob?” “We need him to listen, and we need him to start protecting us,” Davis said. “It’s not good enough,” to talk with the congressman’s aides each week. “We’ve invited him. He’s declined every single time.” Staff in Latta’s Bowling Green office said any questions about a public meeting during Congress’ two-week Easter break had to be directed to Latta’s office in Washington, D.C. A question left for his director of communications, Drew Griffin, was answered with an email stating, “Thanks for reaching out. We don’t have any town halls scheduled at this time.” Latta has defended his use of telephone town halls as his way of connecting with constituents. But Susan Shelangoski, of NOFA Indivisible, said that format doesn’t allow for effective communication. “I think that’s a very controlled form,” she said. After asking three times to be on Latta’s telephone town hall list, Shelangoski said she got a phone call with no notice, and a quick cut off after she posed a question. “It was very unsatisfying.” Since March, Shelangoski said she has made multiple requests with Latta’s D.C. office to meet with the congressman. “He claims to do that on his website,” she said. “I didn’t even get the courtesy of a response.” Neocles Leontis, of Bowling Green, shared the same frustration. “Bob continues to refuse to hold a public hearing where he answers questions from the public.” “It is his job to listen to us,” Shelangoski said. Janice Veitch, also of Bowling Green, said she objects to the votes placed by Latta, and would like to talk with him about issues she feels are important. “He hides. We at least need a chance to tell him our issues.” Since many in the nation are rushing to finish their taxes by the approaching deadline, several of the citizens had questions about Trump’s taxes and about Latta’s…


Guest Column from State Representative Theresa Gavarone

Improving Communication Between Law Enforcement and Disabled Ohioans   The most important part of being a state representative is to ensure a clear and effective channel of communication between myself and my constituents of Wood County. Oftentimes, with this assurance, great ideas for legislation can come directly from everyday Ohioans, truly influencing the day-to-day issues and struggles that can be addressed from the state level of government. Exactly this kind of exchange recently occurred and became the impetus behind House Bill 115, which I recently introduced with my colleague, Representative Scott Wiggam.   The idea for the “No Labels Initiative” was brought to my attention by Jenny Hughes, a constituent from Walbridge, who has two sons who have been diagnosed with autism. House Bill 115 would create a voluntary database of individuals with a communication disability to be utilized by law enforcement. Administered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the database would be available to law enforcement officers through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS).   The designation would be used through LEADS in a similar manner as individuals who carry a concealed carry license. Before approaching a vehicle, an officer may run its registration and will be notified if a driver or passenger has registered as having a communication disability. This will help improve communication between the officer and the individual, preventing possible misunderstandings and improving the safety and security of both parties in such situations.   Additionally, House Bill 115 seeks to remove the stigma behind being labeled as a person with a disability by keeping the information private, rather than having a visible marker on the license plate or driver’s license. The ultimate goal of this legislation is to enhance the working knowledge of our law enforcement officers while giving those with a communication disability an equal opportunity to be fairly heard and understood. The database would be available to those with autism, a hearing disability, or another communication disability, and individuals can voluntarily enroll with the submission of a verification form and certification by a physician.   House Bill 115 is a common-sense, responsible measure that simultaneously makes our officers more informed and better prepared to handle particular situations while taking steps to end the stigma associated with those who have inhibitions when it comes to communication. Being pulled over can be stressful enough, but this bill ultimately seeks to eliminate some of those stressors for Ohio’s disabled population.


‘All Politics is Local’ and some is pretty nasty right now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If you want to make your words count with politicians, forget the form letter. Face-to-face conversations are best. Personally written letters and phone calls also carry some weight. But email form letters are next to worthless – especially if you forget to put your name in the “insert your name here” slot – which oddly enough, many people do. “Personal contact is best, if you can,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said Saturday during the second in the three part series on “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” Gardner was joined in the “All Politics is Local” program by former State Rep. Tim Brown, Bowling Green City Council members Bob McOmber and Sandy Rowland, and Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner. The “Civics 101” project is the brainchild of local citizens who were moved by the last election to become more engaged in the workings of government. “I know people are cynical about politics,” Gardner told the crowd. But individuals can make a difference in government. And despite what many people think, it’s not about the money for many politicians, he said. “That’s not true for most,” Gardner said. It’s the chance meeting with a physician at a Kiwanis pancake breakfast about the need for children to carry their asthma inhalers at school, or an emotional plea from a mom about the need for children to have comprehensive eye exams. “Sometimes it’s just one person” who starts the ball rolling on new legislation, Gardner said. When he was just new as a county commissioner, Brown remembered a campaign donor calling him about a job opening in the commissioners’ office. The donor gave Brown the name of a person he felt was perfect for the job. Brown offered to submit the person’s name for the standard hiring process. But that wasn’t good enough for the donor, who asked Brown what good his donation was if it couldn’t buy him some sway in the office. Brown offered to send the donation back and never heard from the man again. Local constituents are politicians’ bosses – based purely on their residency, not on their donations. “Regardless of your politics – you are my boss,” Gardner said. Gardner told of a talk he gave to Conneaut fifth graders last year on Constitution Day. He informed them that they were his boss. Days later, he received a colorful thank you card from one of the students, signed “Your boss, Savannah.” If done properly, the job of a public official means that a five-minute run into the grocery store for one item frequently takes a half hour, Brown said. Some potential public servants give up because of the difficult running for office. “It’s very easy to become discouraged,” Brown said. But the work can be very rewarding. “It all matters. We are all pillars of our nation’s democracy.” But both Brown and Gardner agree that the political environment has sunk to new lows. “In this day and age of social media, I’m not sure we’re better informed,” Gardner said. “People tend to gravitate toward their own mode of thinking” and become less tolerant of other opinions. That leads to more narrow mindedness and more half-truths. Gardner talked about the current state budget…



Brush up on civics: Series explores how to influence public affairs

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A period of political turmoil may be the time for citizens to brush up on their civics. A collection of civic and campus groups are offering residents that opportunity with a three-part series “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” The sessions will be held Saturday mornings, April 1, 8, and 15 from 9:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. at the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 20189 N. Dixie Highway (Route 25) Bowling Green. “I’ve been talking to a lot of people about politics,” said Meghan Wilson, one of the organizers. Many expressed frustration that they don’t know more about how government works, from local council to the halls of Congress. As someone with a lifelong passion for politics, it was an issue she wanted to address. So she posted on social media asking if anyone else wanted to work on the project. That was in February. Since then Civics 101 has come together, as the organizers decided what topics to address and who to get to address them. Michelle Chronister was one of those who responded. She was already thinking about something along the same lines. She liked that it was initiated by individual citizens, “just a bunch of people who came together and said, ‘let’s do it.’” They did solicit sponsorship from a number of organizations – the League of Women Voters of Bowling Green; the BGSU Center for Community and Civic Engagement; the Women’s Club of Bowling Green; the American Association of University Women of BG; and the Common Good. Those groups, Chronister said, lend the series credibility. The series is a strictly non-partisan, and having the League of Women Voters on board helps project that image as well as helping to publicize the series, Wilson said. “I care very much about democracy,” she said, “and I think that’s true of everyone. This is a good opportunity to step outside of partisanship.” “We can all come together to discuss democracy,” Chronister said. “Everyone cares about that. It doesn’t matter what party you’re in.” The idea, Russell Mills, a BGSU professor of political science, is to “give citizens a better idea of how to influence the government.” The sessions will be: April 1 – The Foundation of Federal Government. April 8 – All Politics is Local. April 15 – Power to the People. The April 1 session will cover the three branches of government with the first half devoted to the legislative branch. Staffers from the U.S. Senate offices of Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown, and from the office of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) will be on hand to lead the discussion. Chronister said the liaison for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) was unable to attend because of a prior commitment. They will discuss the day to day operations of their offices and the most effective ways for citizens to contact them and share their concerns, Chronister said. Mills, Chronister and Wilson will also speak about their experience working in government. The April 8 session focuses on local and county government. Among those participating will be Judge David Woessner, State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and BG city councilors Sandy Rowland and Bob McComber. The series will conclude on April 15 with a wide ranging program covering money in…


Local citizens fight to hang onto Affordable Care Act

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Minutes after news broke Thursday that the vote on a new health plan for the nation had been put on hold, local residents were celebrating the seventh birthday of the Affordable Care Act. Wearing birthday hats, holding balloons and blowing noise makers, the citizens presented birthday cards and decorated cupcakes to staff at U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office in Bowling Green. Others stood along North Main Street, bearing signs like the one stating, “Trump Care Doesn’t Care….it’s tax credits for the rich.” As cars drove, they sang “Happy Birthday,” with some following the last stanza with an optimistic “and many more.” One of the birthday party organizers, Sean Elliott of Bowling Green, said he was “relieved” that the Republican health care bill failed to advance on Thursday, though he realized the delay was likely to be brief. “It seems really unacceptable,” considering the millions of people it would leave uninsured. For Elloitt, it’s not just a matter of public policy. It’s personal. “It’s not just a statistic,” he said. Elliott’s 4-year-old son, Jacoby, has a rare chromosome disorder that has delayed his motor skills. He is unable to walk or to talk. The Affordable Care Act has helped with Jacoby’s medical bills – but the replacement bill could halt that coverage. “To see that program gutted would be devastating,” Elliott said. Inside Latta’s office, citizens asked Andy Lorenz, the representative’s district director, where Latta stands on the Republican health care bill.  Lorenz said his boss supported the bill when it came out of committee, but he wasn’t sure of his stance since so many changes had been made to the legislation. “He’s currently reviewing it,” Lorenz told the citizens. The citizens crammed into Latta’s office were not happy with all the expected changes to their health care coverage – and they weren’t shy about sharing their feelings. “If you take away the Affordable Care Act, you’re just going to be making America sicker again,” one said. “You’re supposed to be replacing it with something better,” another said. “I feel like Republicans have abandoned the American people,” said another. Outside Latta’s office, Nancy Myerholtz and Rori Mason, of Waterville, put on their party hats. “I’m here to support staying with the Affordable Care Act – working with what we have,” Mason said. “It’s not perfect, no one ever said that it was,” Myerholtz said. Another one of the birthday party organizers, Meghan Wilson of Bowling Green, arrived shortly after hearing that the vote had been postponed on the health care bill. “I just heard the news,” Wilson said. “I feel like any delay means there is more chance they will come up with a more common sense plan. I don’t think the current plan is going to fix our problems.” Jennifer Harvey, holding a birthday poster, said she found it “terrifying” that Congress was preparing to vote on a health care bill that would leave so many people behind. “I want to have our Congress modify the Affordable Care Act so it works for all Americans,” Harvey said. Some worried what Congress was giving away in the effort to woo the most conservative Freedom Caucus members. “It will result in deaths,” Harvey said, adding that the bill may have to undergo more cuts…


Speakers at BGSU rally decry the specter of white supremacy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A rally to protest surreptitious visits by the white nationalist group Identity Evropa drew about 60 people outside the Education Building on the Bowling Green State University campus. Speakers condemned white supremacy and criticized the BGSU administration for not taking stronger action. Those fliers are the “burning crosses of the 21st century,” Ashley Philipp, one of the organizers of the rally, said quoting Indiana University professor Charles Geyh. The initial posting of the flyers, which occurred over spring break, and subsequent postings represent an attack on campus and “show how the ideology of white supremacy runs deep in this campus and in this country.” Some postings have reportedly been booby trapped with razor blades. Dave Kielmeyer said that was “absolutely not” the case with the flyers posted at BGSU. On its website the group asserts: “We are a generation of awakened Europeans who have discovered that we are part of the great peoples, history, and civilizations that flowed from the European continent.” The site publicizes the group’s opposition to sanctuary cities and support for building a border wall. City Councilor Daniel Gordon noted that Wood County had been early in the last century a hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan. “This was always here.” Gordon said he was tired of protestors being condemned as anti-American. “The only anti-American thing I see is Fascist support, stated or understood, for our current administration.” Anisah Hashmi, an American of Pakistani descent, said too many people believe the country has entered a “post-racial utopia.” People remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, but not the speech in which he opposed the War in Vietnam and the country’s militaristic reach around the globe. Hashmi said as a Muslim she must endure lectures from strangers about what her religion says about women. “They don’t even speak Arabic.” Beatrice Fields urged her listeners to guard against complacency and “learn about people who can’t fight for themselves” and recognize their own privilege. She said training for those who want to be allies to those under threat was starting late that afternoon. She also reached out to the administration saying she’d “like to break bread” with them. Kielmeyer issued a statement in response to the rally: “Bowling Green State University strongly condemned the white separatist group that targeted our university and the University of Toledo earlier this month. The fliers, which were posted illegally and in violation of University policy, were removed immediately. “Our top priority is to create an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome on our campuses and to live up to our core values of showing respect for one another and supporting a culture of inclusion. “Over the last month, members of the University’s senior leadership team have conducted listening tours with student organizations and held office hours for students to better understand their concerns. Based on those conversations, the University is in the process of finalizing a comprehensive action plan to address the concerns that have been raised and strengthen our campus climate.”  


Higher ed, faculty are under fire, union president says

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Higher education has been dealing with challenges for a awhile. “Basically for quite some time it’s been open season on public education,” Rudy Fichtenbaum, national president of the American Association of University Professors, told a gathering of union members and guests last week. Those include attacks on unions, funding reductions, challenges to tenure, increased use of part-time instructors, and changing rationale for funding. Fichtenbaum’s talk for the first part of a session that included a review of legislative action pending in Ohio. (A story on that presentation will be forthcoming from BG Independent News.) “Many of these problems stem from ill-conceived policies implemented over the last 30 years on a bipartisan basis,” he said. But those threats on all fronts have escalated since the November election. “His presidency represents the greatest threat to academic freedom since the McCarthy era,” Fichtenbaum said. “Actions show this not an exaggeration.” Trump’s election has emboldened followers to threaten others. “The AAUP continues to make a distinction between speech and action,” he said. .”We’re talking about actions that threaten people, burning a mosque, painting swastikas, yelling at people, pushing people into the street because of the color of their skin or their religion. … We oppose discrimination on the basis of race gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin. We’ll fight for a welcoming learning environment where all people can freely and safely learn.” The AAUP, he said, is supportive of the idea of sanctuary campuses. Tightening restrictions on immigration has an effect on international students, about 10 percent of whom come from majority Muslim countries, he said. He said there’s already “anecdotal evidence” that international students are already looking elsewhere, particularly Canada and Australia, to further their studies. That’s a loss for campuses. Having foreign students on campus provides the kind of atmosphere needed for students dealing with a global economy. International students also benefit higher education budgets. “These are students who generally pay full tuition,” he said. More legislation is taking aim at faculty unions and unions in general. Fichtenbaum expects a right-to-work case to make it to the Supreme Court within a couple terms. Bills targeting both private and public unions are already in the works in Ohio. That’s not the only way academic freedom is being attacked. There’s legislation proposed in Iowa and North Carolina that would require that faculty to have an ideological balance, essentially “a political litmus test,” he said. While the bills have gotten out of committee, he said, “just the very fact people are so emboldened to propose this kind of stuff” is troubling. At some point one of these bills make get through and become law. The Trump Administration is looking at privatizing the federal student loan programs. They also want to hold colleges and universities responsible for students who can’t pay back their loans because they dropped out or aren’t earning enough after graduating. The idea, Fichtenbaum said, is schools “need to have some skin in the game.” But schools will then be less willing to enroll higher risk students, he said. This is already happening as Ohio with state support tied to retention and graduation rates. College completion rates are correlated to family income. “Just get more students with higher incomes, and you’ll increase your graduate rate,” he…