Blogs > Northern Ohio Local Politics

Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ryan to Columbus? (And later, D.C.?)

This tidbit was posted on the Washington Post's Web site Monday:

Ryan for (Lt.) Gov: Youthful Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (he's 35) will announce that he is running for lieutenant governor later this week, according to two sources familiar with the decision. The LG’s office is being vacated by Lee Fisher who is one of several candidates running for the seat of retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010. Ryan would presumably run as the hand-picked choice of Gov. Ted Strickland and, if the ticket is elected in 2010, would be the obvious favorite to replace the term-limited incumbent in 2014. Ryan's departure will create an open seat in the House where state Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro would be an early favorite.

Ryan, from Niles, represents Ohio's 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Portage and Trumbull counties as well as parts of Summit County and Mahoning County (including Youngstown).

The speculation revolving around Ryan's future seems plausible. Why else give up a seat in the U.S. House — one he could likely be re-elected to numerous times — unless he aspires to something higher? "But," you ask, "how is the Ohio governor's office higher than a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?"

Well, those two offices alone may be debatable. However, should all of this play out and Ryan is elected governor sometime after Strickland leaves office, don't be surprised if he makes a run at becoming the President of the United States.

Might sound far-fetched, but don't rule it out. Being the governor of Ohio would be a nice stepping stone to the Oval Office.

Don't believe it? Look at Strickland. He left the U.S. House to run for governor at an opportune time, and one could argue Strickland aspired to be vice president on the coattails of Hillary Clinton, though the plan never came to fruition. Clinton of course lost the Democratic primary to eventual Pres. Barack Obama.

-- Michael C. Butz

Monday, March 30, 2009

A new sheriff in town

The residents of Cuyahoga County — of which I am one — were done a great service on Saturday when Warrensville Heights Police Chief Frank Bova was named interim sheriff.

I'm not sure who else was considered for the position, but I once had the opportunity to meet Bova, and I can tell you he’s a stand-up guy who will conduct himself with integrity.

I met Bova at his police department just a few years ago as a college student earning my journalism degree. Thus, this was before I became a reporter, yet the chief treated me and talked to me with the same level of respect he treated his officers.

Also, it was clear to me his officers paid him that same respect. Over the next 45 days, at the most, it’s my hope that Bova can restore some of that respect to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office.

As it stands now, the sheriff's office is in shambles. Last week, Sheriff Gerald McFaul announced he would retire effective April 1, citing health reasons. However, the following day his office was raided by state authorities as part of an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor.

Bova will serve an interim term while the county Democratic party decides on a full-time replacement who will serve until the office is vacated in 2010. Bova has made clear through various media reports that he has no intention to run for the office, and at that time will return to Warrensville Heights.

While I’m sure that's the best decision for him and his family, it's a shame for the residents of Cuyahoga County, who would benefit greatly from his service.

-- Michael C. Butz

Friday, March 27, 2009

Legislation to address illegal cell phone pics

While the intent of new technology is usually good, it often comes with problems making sure people aren't doing things they're not supposed to do.

Some teenagers have turned to sending nude or semi-nude images to others on their cell phone, an event called "sexting".

According to a story in the The Columbus Dispatch one in five teens has sent or posted nude or seminude photos of themselves, according to a recent study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Pictures are often transmitted via cell phones, e-mails or Web postings, and can be spread quickly.

The paper reported the issue has caught the attention of at least one state lawmaker who is worried that teens could run into harsh criminal penalties for sending or receiving such pictures.

Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, said he will soon introduce a bill making the creation, exchange and possession of nude materials between minors a first-degree misdemeanor, the Dispatch reports.

In January, The News-Herald wrote about the issue in a story by staff writer Jacob Lammers. The article also includes a video of students discussing the topic.

-- John Arthur Hutchison:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ohio AG Cordray rejects casino proposal language

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said the language for a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution to allow casino gambling will have to go back to the drawing board.

"After reviewing your submission, I have concluded that I am unable at this point to certify your summary as a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred." Cordray wrote in a letter to the committee that was proposing the measure.

The state attorney general said he was rejecting the submission for two reasons.

He said the language should expand on parcel numbers and include fuller descriptions of where the casinos would be placed.

Cordray also said the language makes it appear as though winnings would not be taxable.

It is not unusual for the Attorney General’s Office to reject summary language as initially proposed, Cordray said.

Certification of summary language is just one step in the process, he said.

The Ohio Ballot Board must determine whether the petition represents a single or multiple Constitutional Amendments.

If approved by the Ballot Board, the petitioners must then collect signatures from more than 402,000 registered voters or equal to 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Truckers can't drive 55?

The Ohio Senate has approved a version of the state's two-year transportation budget.

In the bill contains a provision that would eliminate split speeds for truckers and cars on Ohio's interstate.

Any vehicle or noncommercial bus weighing more than 8,000 pounds could legally drive 65 miles per hour, just like a car. Now trucks can't legally drive faster than 55 miles per hour, while cars can drive 65 miles per hour.

Many in the trucking industry argue that there would be fewer accidents because cars would be traveling the same speed as trucks. For example, they cite less chance for a car to hit the backside of a truck.

The Ohio Highway Patrol disagrees and in the past has lobbied heavily against the proposal.

The OHP says that studies show raising the speed limit causes more accidents and that the damage during an accident is often worse and leads to more fatalities because it takes longer for these heavier vehicles to stop.

This isn't the first time this proposal has been floated.

We'll see who wins.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Public officials to be celebrity servers

Willoughby Hills Mayor Robert Weger told me today that he and City Council President Kevin Malecek are looking forward to taking part in the United Way of Lake County’s annual Celebrity Server Luncheon next week.

Instead of serving up legislation for the city, the public officials will serve up entrees to those who attend — all in an effort to raise money for those in need in Lake County.

Each server is asked to recruit at least a table of 10 to attend, and during the luncheon, the local celebrities will do their best to earn as many tips as possible. All the money raised goes to UWLC, which as of last week, was still trying to reach their goal for the 2008 campaign.

The luncheon will be held on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, at Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites LaMalfa, 5785 Heisley Road, Mentor. More than 800 attendees took part in the luncheon last year, according to UWLC’s Web site.

-- Michael C. Butz

Monday, March 2, 2009

President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services nominee has Ohio roots

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland supports President Barack Obama’s nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Strickland said Sebelius has ties to the state as she is the daughter of former Ohio Gov. John Gilligan.

“Kathleen spent much of her young life here in Ohio and we consider her one of our own," Strickland said. "I know that her enthusiasm for meaningful health care reform will benefit Ohio and the nation."

Strickland said the selection of Sebelius demonstrates a strong commitment to providing more Americans with access to affordable health care and she is able to work in a bipartisan fashion.

"Gov. Sebelius is respected by both Democrats and Republicans for her no-nonsense, bipartisan approach to getting things done for the people of Kansas," Strickland said. "That’s exactly the kind of leadership we need in our next Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

Sebelius, 60, is married to her husband, Gary, and has two sons, Ned and John.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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News from the Governor's office ...

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced today that as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Ohio National Guard will receive more than $8.5 million for capital improvements to its facilities across the state.

“These funds will help us modernize and restore 22 National Guard facilities across the state while also putting more Ohioans to work,” Strickland said. “Not only will we extend the lives of the facilities, but we will reduce our operating expenses and be more environmentally friendly.”

The National Guard Bureau began collecting information on "shovel ready" projects from state National Guards in November 2008 in anticipation of a federal stimulus bill. The Bureau focused on roofing projects and projects related to energy efficiency. In the final bill, approximately $266 million was made available for these types of National Guard capital improvement projects nationwide.

Three of the projects will install solar panels at National Guard facilities.

"The stimulus package will fund Ohio National Guard renewable energy projects, installing solar panels at locations in Columbus, Toledo and at the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Newton Falls," said Maj. Gen Gregory L. Wayt, the adjutant general. "These projects will save the National Guard about $78,000 in utility costs within the first year of operation, and will generate about 375,000 Kilowatt hours of electricity per year."

The 22 projects will differ in planning and implementation time, but the goal is to move projects forward as soon as possible. The federal stimulus bill requires that these funds be obligated by the end of September 2010.

-- John Arthur Hutchison

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