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Meet Sharen Neuhardt, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor

This year’s Ohio gubernatorial race recently became more interesting, as Sharen Neuhardt of Yellow Springs was selected to be the running mate of Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald.

“I’m honored and thrilled,” Neuhardt said in an interview last Friday.

Neuhardt has taken a leave of absence from her job in the law firm of Thompson Hine, where she works in the firm’s corporate transactions and securities practice group, to campaign full time.

On Friday, Neuhardt said she sees the economy as the main issue of the race for the governor’s seat. “I think that the issue when voters vote next fall will be, who do you trust to protect the middle class?” she said.

Neuhardt cited Ohio’s standing of forty-sixth in the nation in job growth, with more unemployed in 2014 than in 2013. The Kasich administration has contributed to the financial struggle with its cuts to municipal governments and school budgets, she said.

Neuhardt is a strong proponent of women’s issues, and she plans to challenge the Kasich administration’s record of closing women’s health clinics and cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, where about 100,000 Ohio women receive basic healthcare. “John Kasich and a lot of Republicans say that Ed picked me, basically, because I have ovaries,” Neuhardt said. “Ed FitzGerald picked me because I have a brain. Women in this state have brains, we have memories and we vote. Memo to John Kasich: You’re going to be really sorry that you messed with women come November.”

FitzGerald, an attorney who is a former FBI agent and prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, is the county executive of Cuyahoga County, home of Cleveland. In his position, he is credited with a range of reforms, including community policing and the enforcement of a strict code of ethics.

Before working at Thompson Hine, Neuhardt was the general counsel and vice president of Mead Data Central. The daughter of a Dayton police officer, Neuhardt was the first in her family to attend college. She received a bachelors from Northwestern University and a law degree from Georgetown University.

Via YSNews.com.

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Toledo Blade Sues Over Coingate Scandal

The Blade has sued to force the Ohio inspector general to release his report of the “Coingate” scandal nine years after the investigation was launched.

The lawsuit, filed in the Ohio Supreme Court, noted it’s been two years since Inspector General Randall J. Meyer’s office reversed position and announced it would complete the report after initially saying it would not. It also notes that annual reports issued in recent years by the office have stopped mentioning any ongoing investigation of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2014/01/29/The-Blade-sues-Ohio-inspector-general.html#TWiJcVCMIwxMMVBd.99

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Citizens Testify Against House Bill 231

Yesterday’s hearing for House Bill 231 was a success! Multiple organizations, students, religious leaders, teachers, and concerned citizens showed up and let their voices be heard.

House Bill 231 would open the door for people to carry concealed weapons in places like churches, day care centers, schools, government buildings, and other places where they are now prohibited. Allowing people to carry a concealed weapon diminishes our right to be free from gun violence.

From this point, the bill could either die in committee (meaning not get another hearing for a vote) or it could receive another hearing, where more testimony will be permitted and possibly voted on by the committee members.

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Democrats Ask Prosecutor to Examine Contributions to DeWine

Legislative Democrats on Wednesday asked a federal prosecutor to investigate whether Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office broke federal laws in awarding legal contracts to campaign donors.

The Democrats’ letter to U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart follows a story about law firms that gave campaign donations to DeWine and were named to a state panel that decides cases to pursue.

Firms seeking to do business with the attorney general’s office have donated $1.3 million to DeWine, his son Pat DeWine, and the Ohio Republican Party.

In some cases, firms gave thousands of dollars to DeWine’s campaign about the same time they submitted requests to join the panel. One firm, Labaton Sucharow, appeared to violate Ohio’s campaign donation limits; DeWine’s office said they would return the $16,000 contribution.

Democratic House leadership asked Stewart to look at whether DeWine’s broke any federal laws.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said that the attorney general follows the law. “When it was discovered that contributions were made in error, they were returned,” Tierney said.

Via Cleveland.com.

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Snow Rollers Spotted Across Ohio

Central Ohio residents are seeing snow rollers across the region.

Snow rollers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are solid, while some have holes. In fact, some people even call them snow donuts.

It looks like someone started a snowman or snow ball, only human hands did not play a role in shaping these snow rollers.

The ground must be covered with ice and then wet snow. It then takes a strong wind to create the rolled snow. Snow rollers are more common in hilly areas, but the precise nature of the conditions required makes them a very rare phenomenon.


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Joe Blundo commentary: Botching of execution can’t be justified

To state my bias upfront: I oppose the death penalty on philosophical grounds.

Punish those who deserve to be punished. Get them off the streets to protect the public. But kill them? No. That’s too much power to grant a fallible government.

So I would not have wanted to see Dennis McGuire executed last week even if his death had been perfectly administered.

Obviously, his death was not perfectly administered, unless you think a goal of the justice system is to inflict agony on the guilty while experimenting with new drug combinations.

Some time ago, Ohio ran out of pentobarbital, its lethal drug of choice, because manufacturers won’t sell it for executions. So, to kill McGuire, the state switched to two other drugs that hadn’t been used before in U.S. executions.

The result: McGuire gasped, heaved and choked for about 10 minutes before dying, just as his attorneys had warned he would.

The ordeal doesn’t sound like the “humane, dignified execution” that prisons Director Gary Mohr had promised the new drugs would produce.

And, really, what was the basis for that promise? The execution method was new. How would he know?

McGuire’s death struggle has been pooh-poohed by many people.

They point out that whatever terror, if any, McGuire felt in his last moments surely pales next to the terror of his victim: In February 1989, McGuire raped Joy Stewart, then choked her before slashing her throat deeply with a knife. She was 30 weeks pregnant. The baby died, too.

Undoubtedly, she suffered more than he did, and anyone with a heart finds the crime appalling.

I still don’t think that excuses the state for what happened last week.

There isn’t a more extreme exercise of state power than the execution of a prisoner. If Ohio is to get anything right, it had better be that.

McGuire’s is just the latest case suggesting that the state isn’t very good at it.

Romell Broom remains on Death Row after a botched attempt at his execution in 2009. (You remember: the two-hour struggle to establish an intravenous line, with Broom himself trying to help.)

Christopher Newton “suffocated alive” during a drawn-out execution in 2007, according to doctors.

Ohio has been scolded by a federal judge for a “dubious cycle of defending often-indefensible conduct” in executions. (To be fair, the same judge later praised reforms in procedures.)

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime and costs a fortune to administer. Worse, it grants a degree of power that not even the most commendable government deserves.

And I’d say we’re falling well short of commendable in Ohio.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.

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Support a Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Workers that make the federal minimum wage haven’t gotten a raise since 2009. Tipped minimum wage workers haven’t gotten a raise since 1991.

These people work hard. They struggle to provide for their families. As many as 25% of those making the federal minimum wage have children.

Ohioans believe that if you put in a hard day’s work, you should bring home a check you can live on. That’s why we raised our minimum wage.

Sign the petition to support a raise in the federal minimum wage.

There is no evidence that raising the federal minimum wage hurts businesses. The only reason we haven’t gotten this done is because radical members of Congress refuse to move forward.

We can — and should — raise the federal minimum wage. And members of Congress who aren’t on board need to know just how many of us there are supporting this. Tell Congress that you support raising the federal minimum wage. Sign the petition today.

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Rep. Ryan Wants Manufacturing Focus at SOTU

Rep. Tim Ryan

During last year’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama highlighted the success of a Youngstown manufacturing innovation institute that specializes in 3-D printing technology.

Representative Tim Ryan (D-Niles) and other boosters of domestic manufacturing say they hope to hear more along those lines during Obama’s State of the Union address tomorrow night. Ninety percent of the nation’s patents come from the manufacturing sector, which contributes $120 trillion to the nation’s economy each year, compared with $20 trillion for web-related products.

“To focus on manufacturing is to focus on the majority of our economy,” Rep. Ryan said at a Monday press conference hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Earlier this month, Pres. Obama announced creation of a new manufacturing hub in North Carolina that will use semiconductor technology to develop energy-efficient devices for cars, industrial motors, and electronics goods. Two more hubs will be announced soon.

Rep. Ryan said  that Congress needs to pass legislation, such as a billauthored by Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, that would fund up to fifteen more institutes.

Via Cleveland.com.

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Perry Plant Leaking Radioactive Water

A water leak containing Tritium has occurred at Perry Nuclear Power Plant. Tritium is a weakly radioactive isotope occurring in nuclear plant operations. It is found in self-luminescent items like wristwatches and aircraft dials.

The leak of water from a steam pipe was found on Monday afternoon. Samples taken at the site found tritium in the under drain system of the plant’s Auxiliary Building.

The plant says work is underway to repair the leak.

A spokeswoman for FirstEnergy says the water was captured and remains in a storage area under the plant and that the water did not go into the lake.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector has been notified of the event as required.

This is the second event in the past seven months at the plant.

In June 2013, the plant was shut down while maintenance workers repaired a contained leak of radioactive steam. On June 17, a busted weld on a vent line meant some steam that should be part of the reactor’s re-circulation system was seeping into a sump system chamber used to capture excess steam.


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Toledo Threatens Eminent Domain

Toledo and AT&T have reached an impasse over a land sale, forcing the city to begin the process of eminent domain against the telecommunications company.

The city plans to widen parts of Dorr Street in West Toledo so it can build center median islands and designated turn areas along the roads between Byrne Road and Westwood Avenue. The project requires the city to buy less than 0.19 acre of land.

Council could vote next week on the eminent domain request. It would have to approve a follow-up ordinance for the mayor’s office to officially file an eminent-domain request.

City Law Director Adam Loukx said the city uses eminent domain commonly for street and sewer work. “Typically they do not go to trial,” Mr. Loukx said. “Most of the time, the landowner will make a deal with you and sometimes they won’t, so you have to go to trial.”

In 1999, Toledo used eminent domain to remove eighty-three homes and fifteen businesses in North Toledo to allow construction of the $1.2 billion Toledo Jeep Assembly plant.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2014/01/21/City-threatens-eminent-domain.html#fV8Vg4wXc31XOb49.99

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