Politics

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…


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…


Funding defended for programs Trump wants to slash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While President Donald Trump’s administration is attacking the value of federally funded community programs, the proof is right here in Wood County. Local officials suggested the administration look at the seniors kept in their homes by the Meals on Wheels program, the children nourished through the WIC program, and the small villages improved through the CDBG program. When Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled Thursday, the winners were the military and border control. The losers were the arts, the environment, the poor, the elderly and the very young. And the cuts weren’t made with a scalpel, but with a guillotine. Local officials who normally make tempered responses to hot button political issues could no longer bite their tongues. When Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said the Meals on Wheels cuts were justified because the program was “just not showing any results,” the comments pushed Denise Niese past her normally polite poise. “I heard that last night and I was appalled,” said Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. The local Meals on Wheels program is not as dependent as some areas on the federal funding, but it is vital to local residents, serving 132,000 meals last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to collect hard data on social services, but Niese said the proof is in the pudding – and all the other menu items. “We do know that people with home-delivered meals can maintain themselves in their homes at a…


State universities face tough battles in Columbus, Mazey says

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News President Mary Ellen Mazey apologized for being the bearer of bad news to the Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate, Tuesday. A storm front is approaching the university from Columbus, and though Mazey said she hopes the worse effects could be forestalled, she knows it won’t be easy. “We have our work cut out for us” she said of the state budget. Gov. John Kasich’s proposal calls for a 1-percent increase in state support in the first year of the biennial budget and no increase in the second. This would be paired with a freeze on tuition and freeze. Now it’s up to the House to fashion its proposal. Mazey said the state’s university presidents were focusing on three areas as the House begins working on the higher education budget. Mazey seemed confident that a proposal that would shift the cost of buying textbooks from students to the university was fading. “I think we’re making progress,” she said. The proposal to have university pay for textbooks in exchange for levying a new $300 annual fee “does not seem to be getting a lot of traction in the House,” she said. The governor’s plan, Mazey said, is not academically sound. Also the financing was not adequately researched. It would not benefit all students and would create a new bureaucracy to administer. The state’s university provosts have shaped an alternative policy that would require universities to submit a plan to reduce textbook costs by fall, 2018….


Latta gets way on ACA repeal, but future of bill is uncertain

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News U.S. Rep. Robert Latta (R-Bowling Green) is throwing his support behind the House proposal aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act, and replacing it with a new plan. Latta, who has voted numerous times to repeal what is known as Obamacare, issued a statement Tuesday. “Obamacare has failed and it keeps getting worse as insurance marketplaces collapse and costs continue to rise. It’s time to repeal its broken promises and replace it with patient-centered health care. The plan proposed in the House will give Americans more choices, lower costs, and provides states with more flexibility to help repair markets damaged by Obamacare.” His spokesman Drew Griffin said the congressman was not available for an interview. A Bowling Green State University political science professor, however, questions the feasibility of the proposal and its political future. When Russell Mills saw the proposal that was released last night, he wondered:  “How are they going to pay for it?” Transforming subsidies into tax credits, he said, is a wash. “What they did was keep the most expensive parts of Obamacare but didn’t provide a way to pay for them,” Mills said. The proposal will allow young people to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26. And it continues to stop insurance companies from refusing to insure people because of pre-existing medical conditions. And it maintains, at least for a few years, the expansion of Medicaid to help people with low incomes. But the funding to the…


From Tunisia to BGSU, Amira Hassnaoui advocates for equality

By HOLLY SHIVELY Special to BG INDEPENDENT NEWS From being tear gassed in the streets of Tunisia during the Jasmine Revolution to working for students as Bowling Green State University’s Graduate Student Senate president, Amira Hassnaoui has stayed true to her passion—advocacy for equality of all people. “I care because I care about the human experience,” she said. “We share a lot as humans—more than we think we do.” While she didn’t grow up in a political family, Hassnaoui has time and time again found herself in political scenes, alongside journalists, scholars and underground musicians, fighting for the communities she cares about. Currently, that involves using her passion for advocacy in her Graduate Student Senate leadership role while completing her masters in popular culture. “I really care a lot about my BG community, and I’m so passionate about what I do,” Hassnaoui said. “I’m so involved—it’s because I do care. It’s because I do think that we can be the best. We’re good now, but we can definitely be among the best…That passion was the ribbon of my own experience because I definitely know how it feels.” While Hassnaoui has become the voice for international students, she said she advocates for students, whoever they are. “I don’t believe a lot in just sitting in my office and wait for things to come to me. I’m more of a person like feet on the ground,” Hassnaoui said. Since becoming an active member of the Bowling Green community, Hassnaoui has set forth…


BG writer adds her voice to “The Nasty Women Project”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Kirsty Sayer, the rise of Donald Trump was personal. The Bowling Green woman was just starting to emerge from a complex Post-Traumatic Stress when Trump started his general election campaign. What she felt was more than political disagreement. His inescapable appearance triggered something deep inside. Emotions that she was just starting to come to grips with. Deep trauma that had controlled her life. Now Sayers saw in Trump a reflection of the older family member who has sexually abused her. And the candidate’s dismissive attitude toward the women who accused him of sexual improprieties, including assault, reminded her of how her abuser treated her. They were cut from the same cloth, both domineering narcissists. So Sayer was one of so many other women who “gritted our teeth” as the election approached, waiting for it to be over. Hopeful, even confident, that after Nov. 8 they’d be done with Donald Trump. Then the votes were counted, in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. “There was a sense of great helplessness,” Sayer said. “We were just unmoored. Nobody was really expecting it. … Now what?” For Sayer and about 80 other women, the answer to that question includes bringing their written reactions to Trump’s election together in a book “The Nasty Women Project,” available today (March 1) through the website http://nastywomenproject.com. All the proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood. “This is a labor of love. Nobody’s taking any money,” Sayer said. “Women particularly feel…


Residents to lift voices in protest song at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When people are frustrated, sometimes the only thing to do is sing. Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, of the First Presbyterian Church, knows many people are concerned about the current state of affairs, and she decided to help organize an event that will enable them to give voice to their frustrations. She was inspired in part by a video of Pete Seeger, Holly Near and others who use music as a form of activism. So Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ‘Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song’ will be presented at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Saunders enlisted the local ukulele quartet the GRUBs – Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp – to be the house band for the event. Sheri Wells-Jensen, of the GRUBS, said the set list will include both old and new material. The GRUBS have already dipped their toes, or ukuleles, into current issues when they recorded “Where’s Bob?” a humorous song about Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s unwillingness to hold a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen and her husband, Jason Wells-Jensen, added their voices to last Sunday’s rally to support immigrants. They have written a call and response blues number “Send Them All to Me” for “Singing for Our Lives,” she said. “The purpose is to reintroduce people to the power of singing together and why people do that,” Wells-Jensen said. The event seeks “to reclaim the label ‘protest music,’ and to give…


Forum on future of ACA generates healthy debate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A town hall forum on the future of health care drew about 150 people. Many of them had something to say. Many had questions for their legislators. Lawmakers, though, were in short supply. The dais in the front of the community room in the Bowling State University student union had signs representing a bipartisan all-star team of no-shows, including U.S. Rep. Bob Latta and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Kaptur did send a letter expressing her regret at not being present and praising the attendees for getting involved. Two state lawmakers did make the forum. State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). Gardner, as a Republican, knew he was in hostile territory, but he received applause on several occasions for showing up, listening to comments, sometime shouted, even when they were expressed while he was still talking. Gardner could not provide what many in the crowd wanted, any sort of commitment to take specific action. As Dr. Johnathan Ross, of Toledo, noted little of what concerned the crowd was in the hands of state government. Gardner made it clear that his purview was the state, and he urged those present, a large number of whom were his constituents, based on a show of hands, to monitor the progress of the state budget. As a legislator, he said, it is his job to listen to his 360,000 “bosses”– and that means not coming to a conclusion about anything as soon as…


DeWine stumps for governor during stop in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than a year out from the next gubernatorial election, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine brought his early campaign for the office to Bowling Green on Thursday. DeWine, a favorite for the Republican ticket for governor, spoke at the party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Stone Ridge Golf Club. As attorney general, DeWine has worked to strenghten victims’ rights and to correct some wrongs in the legal system. He spearheaded efforts to get hundreds of sexual assault kits tested after they had languished for years in evidence rooms. Many of those have resulted in DNA matches with people already in the system. DeWine has worked with State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, to create a violent offender registry. This was done in response to the abduction and murder of Sierah Joughin, 20, in Fulton County. Like the sex offender registry, this registry would notify communities of someone with a violent criminal past living nearby. And DeWine continues to work on solutions to the opiate epidemic in Ohio. Following the advice of people with addiction experience, DeWine said more emphasis needs to be put on K-12 age appropriate education on drugs, “to lessen people going down the path of addiction.” “As attorney general, sometimes I feel I’m picking up the pieces” after problems occur, he said before speaking Thursday evening. So he’s now looking at getting in front of problems – as governor. DeWine and others arriving at the Lincoln Day Dinner drove past…


Latta eludes protesters outside Lincoln Day Dinner

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As 200 prepared to dine in the Stone Ridge Golf Club, another 40 stood outside holding posters and chanting. Their signs supported the Affordable Care Act, refugees, the environment, transgender youth, and asked the question, “Have you seen Bob?” They chanted “Love not hate makes America great,” and “We’re not paid,” in reference to accusations that town hall protesters across the nation are being paid for their efforts. Their presence on the normally quiet corner of the Stone Ridge housing development was met with a range of reactions. As motorists pulled into the golf club for the annual Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, some honked and waved, others stuck out tongues or stared straight ahead. Though the protesters were trying to get the attention of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, it was State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, who pulled over, got out and talked with the protesters for several minutes. “He came up, shook hands and chatted,” said Katie McKibben, one of the sign-holding protesters. “Randy actually parked his car and got out.” Latta’s vehicle proceeded into the golf club parking lot without stopping. One man going to the dinner stopped at the entrance, held up the middle fingers on both hands and yelled at the protesters to go home. “I’m tired of people being paid to protest,” the man said as he parked his vehicle. “They’re stupid.” But others welcomed the exchange of ideas. “I feel like we should always be able…


Sanders supporters hope to spark discussion of health coverage after Obamacare

By DAVID DUPONT BG independent News The Republicans have been gunning for the Affordable Care Act since it passed without a single GOP vote. Now with control of both Congress and the White House, they are on the brink of doing it. The problem, according to Kris Johnson, a Northwest Ohio activist, is: “They want to get rid of ACA, but they can’t come up with a solution that’s any better Our Revolution in Northwest Ohio, a group Johnson is affiliated with, wants to help. Yes, they are a group that is taking up the mantle of Independent socialist Bernie Sanders’ failed run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. “We are taking Bernie’s agenda and manifesting it any way we can,” said organizer Dennis Slotnick. Still they see a way out of the current logjam. One that addresses the problems that led to the passage of the ACA, and one that addresses that law’s flaws. Slotnick agrees with Sanders that while imperfect the law is “a lot better than what we had before.” More than 30 million people now have insurance who didn’t before, he said. And the law makes sure those with pre-existing conditions can still get insurance. What the ACA needs, he said, is a public option, where people can forego the private insurance market entirely. “We’re in a position of offering real solutions,” Slotnick said. Our Revolution in Northwest Ohio in conjunction with Single-Payer Action Network Ohio, a group that has been around for 20 years, want…


La Conexion will hold rally Sunday

La Conexion de Wood County will hold a rally on Sunday, Feb 26 at 5 p.m. in Bowling Green’s Green Space across Church Street from the police station. The rally is being help to express support and solidarity for immigrants following the issuance of the Trump Administration’s recent executive orders on immigration. The rally is also in support of the city’s and Bowling Green State University’s efforts to build welcoming, safe and inclusive communities.


Local citizens remind Latta that he works for them

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local voters – not paid protestors – left several messages for U.S. Rep. Bob Latta this morning, with the most important being that he works for them. The voters wanted to meet personally with Latta, R-Bowling Green, but met instead with his District 5 Director Andrew Lorenz. Only 20 people fit in the congressman’s office at a time, so others stood out along North Main Street, in front of his office, holding signs about issues they care about – clean water, immigration, health care and more. “There are so many reasons, where do I start,” said Dee Dee Wentland, Perrysburg, who took a day off work to join the protest. “We’re trying to get the congressman to have a town hall with his constituents, but all of our efforts to meet with him are ignored or turned down,” said Jennifer Harvey, of Bowling Green. Across the nation, congressional leaders are being confronted by hostile crowds at town hall meetings. So, many of the politicians are just refusing to hold open meetings with their constituents. Latta held a telephone town hall last week, but that isn’t good enough, according to people who crowded into his office today. Latta’s website lists his last true town hall meeting as June 2010. Lorenz said the congressman has held 51 courthouse conferences, where he meets one-on-one with constituents. When repeatedly asked where Latta was this morning, Lorenz repeatedly said “he’s out in the district today.” “That’s a…


Interfaith group to hold town hall meeting

Toledo/Sylvania Interfaith Friends, a community group devoted to ensuring that a diversity of voices is heard in District 5, will hold a town hall to hear citizens’ concerns about transparency, immigration, increasing marginalization of minority groups and women, healthcare, and Russian interference in the election, Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 7 to 8:30p.m. at at the Toledo Muslim Community Center, 5045 W. Sylvania Ave. in Toledo. The group invited T.S. Rep. Bob Latta to attend and received a response that he is unavailable, and none of his staff offered to attend. The town hall, which will take place without Latta as a way to elevate constituents’ concerns, comes during the weeklong congressional recess, when many members of Congress are taking the time to meet directly with their constituents.