Congressman Bob Latta

Citizens ask Latta to stand up against Trump’s hateful rhetoric

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Citizens horrified by the racist attack at Waffle House in Bowling Green earlier this year demanded Thursday that U.S. Rep. Bob Latta take a stand against racist rhetoric from President Donald Trump. As customary, their pleas were made to a staff member in the congressman’s Bowling Green office. District Director David Wirt took notes and said he would pass along the information to Latta. Members of La Conexion of Wood County have asked many times to meet with Latta, R-Bowling Green, but have yet to gain access to the congressman. Wirt asked if the citizens had seen Latta’s statement on Facebook after the Waffle House attack. Beatriz Maya, director of La Conexion, said the hate crime calls for more than a Facebook post. “We found that Facebook post not up to what the situation is requiring,” she said. “We’re expecting him to be more of a strong voice in this incident.” Initially, news media was kept out of the meeting Thursday between Wirt and the citizens, and were told to wait outside the office. However, when it started pouring rain, members of the media were allowed in. Maya explained that a series of community meetings have been held since the March 31 attack involving two men using racist slurs and beating up two customers at the Waffle House. The victims reported the attackers said Trump would deal with immigrants like them. Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, have been charged with felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. The community meetings identified some actions to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future. Bowling Green city and police officials have responded by agreeing to offer employee and bystander training, and working on an ordinance on hate crimes. But the community also had the following recommendations for Latta: “We ask that you send a clear and strong message from your constituents to President Trump that his rhetoric is inciting violence in local communities. The recent incident is deeply damaging the reputation of the city and of BGSU. This racist rhetoric must immediately cease.”“We ask that you work with Congress to address the dramatic increase in hate crimes and specifically the rise of white supremacy and white nationalism.”“We invite you to work with the City of Bowling Green, BGSU, the community at large, and with victims of hate crimes to develop…


‘Die-in’ shows grave concerns about GOP health plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A strip along North Main Street was turned into a makeshift “cemetery” Thursday as supporters of the Affordable Care Act laid on the ground and held up cardboard tombstones. “Last Thursday, the House passed a bill that will have this effect on people,” said Sara Jobin, one of the organizers of the “die-in.” One “tombstone” read “Beloved daughter chose college over health care.” Another stated, “Killed by heartless lies.” And another, “RIP Democracy.” The protest was held in front of the office of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green. Latta was not present and the office closed shortly after the “die-in” began. Molly Tomaszewski, of Northwood, held signs protesting the projections that 24 million Americans will lose coverage under the American Health Care Act passed by the House GOP members, including Latta.  She believes the answer is a single payer system. “Universal health care is not a partisan issue. It’s a life issue,” she said. “We need health care.” Tomaszewski said her husband has good health insurance through his job. But she has 27 pre-existing conditions as listed in the new GOP plan. Without insurance, her prescriptions would cost $5,000 a month. “They could put lifetime caps on,” she said, worrying about how she would then afford her medications. Of the 30 people gathered for the protest, the majority were women. Anesa Miller, of Bowling Green, said her husband died last month after a long illness. She was insured through him, and is two years away from qualifying from Medicare. So she may have to pay six times as much for coverage through Cobra. Miller is a cancer survivor, and currently needs foot surgery. But that will probably have to wait. She also talked about the difficulty her husband had finding doctors who would accept his insurance when the couple moved back to Ohio from Washington state. “I just think the system we have is insane,” Miller said. Julie Dougherty, from Archbold, has good insurance now – but she is uncertain of the future. “I have a desire that everybody in society should have basic health care,” she said. “I have a pre-existing condition, so I’m concerned about how this will shake out.” Dougherty sees good health insurance as a characteristic of developed countries – like good roads and good schools. Kendal Kissinger, of Weston, shared a similar view. “I think health…


Latta’s health care vote leaves some constituents feeling sick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Congressman Bob Latta said the nation needs rescuing from the “disaster that is Obamacare.” So on Thursday he became one of the 217 Republicans who voted to push out the Affordable Care Act to replace it with the American Health Care Act. The vote was followed by cheers from Republican members of Congress who had promised for seven years that they would get rid of the ACA. “It’s very evident that Obamacare is failing the American people, and its problems continue to grow,” Latta posted on his website. “The promises of Obamacare have been thoroughly broken, and the problems it has foisted on hardworking families can’t be ignored.” “Constituents in my district have told me about skyrocketing premiums, difficultly using their insurance, and the lack of choices they face thanks to Obamacare,” Latta stated. But many constituents in Wood County were left wondering Thursday if Latta listened at all to their concerns. Those citizens, who support the ACA, peacefully protested each week outside the congressman’s Bowling Green office. They wrote countless letters and made countless phone calls. The local citizens pleaded to be heard. They begged for a chance to meet with Latta. But on Thursday, he voted without a single town hall meeting on the health care issue. Some constituents did receive letters back from Latta – but they were identical form letters mailed out months after the local residents sent letters voicing their concerns. “In his bogus form letter that many of you received, he wrote that premiums would go down 10 percent under the new plan and that he would ensure that people with pre-existing conditions would continue to get coverage,” Bowling Green citizen Meghan Wilson wrote after many local citizens received the exact same letters from Latta. “What he didn’t say is that he would vote on a bill that includes high-risk pools, which will cause premiums to skyrocket for people with pre-existing conditions. There is no end to how disastrous this plan is,” Wilson said. One Bowling Green resident voiced her anger on Facebook after Thursday’s vote. “Thanks GOP. Every person that lives in my house has a pre-existing condition. Glad you’re looking out for us,” she wrote. Twenty congressional Republicans voted against repealing the ACA, because they felt it wasn’t in their constituents’ best interests. But Latta’s statement about the GOP plan painted a…


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…