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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Compromise will be needed for state budget

Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State Address on Tuesday now serves as the blueprint for many policies in Ohio during the next two years.

After hearing from several local legislators and politicians this past week it appears to me that few are ready to fully endorse the governor’s budget plan.

However, it does contain individual proposals that both sides of the political aisle like but that neither seem to agree on together.

What that likely means is after the debate process the budget could look much different than what Kasich proposed.

Compromise will be necessary, and unlike the federal government, the state must operate with a balanced budget as of July 1.

Some Republican legislators have a hard time coming to grips with Kasich’s wish to expand Medicaid coverage and they might not vote for a budget if that is included. Democrats are generally pleased by the proposed expansion, but most oppose the bulk of the rest of the budget.

As part of the new federal health care law, which many in the GOP still fundamentally oppose, extending who can be cared for through Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level is an option for states to accept with the federal government paying 100 percent of that cost for the first three years and gradually dropping down to 90 percent funding.

When it comes to tax reform, the GOP and Democrats again differ. Republicans favor an income tax reduction, lowering the state’s sales tax rate and the expansion of services that would be subject to sales tax.

Democrats argue the tax policy changes would help wealthy taxpayers more and hurt lower income residents who would spend a greater percentage of their income on services like haircuts, sporting events, and funeral services.

Republicans argue the proposals are a more fair way to tax because it would lower the state’s sales tax rate and provide residents and business owners with income tax relief.

Unless some things change, this budget might not follow party lines. It’s possible that neither side will be completely happy with what transpires, but the fact that Democrats and Republicans might have to work more closely together in Columbus would be a nice change.

Joyce joins Auto Industry Pension Task Force

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, announced he has joined the Auto Industry Pension Task Force.

The Congressional Auto Industry Pension Task Force, co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, will serve as an informal group of members dedicated to issues related to the termination of Delphi Salaried Retiree pensions and educating other members on the subject.

Picked up petitions

Recently taking out petitions with the Lake County Elections Board are Jeff Black for Willoughby Council at large; Laura DePledge for Eastlake Council at large; Larry Luciano for Willoughby-Eastlake School Board; Ronald P. Ely for Wickliffe Council Ward 3; Duane H. Frager for Madison Village Council; Chuck Klco for Leroy Township trustee; and Teresa Wagoner, MaryAnn Guy-Froebe and Timothy Rillahan for Madison Township trustee.


n Re-election kickoff party for Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets, 5 to 8 p.m. March 7 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Ed or Cindy Hughes.

n Re-election kickoff for Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 21 at Patrician Party, Eastlake. See Ted or Patricia Andrzejewski.

n Lake County Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish hosts St. Patrick’s Day Celebration 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 12 at LaMalfa Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites. See Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour or Ernie Koenig.

n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser is rescheduled to 5 to 7 p.m. April 1 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newheraldjah

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reps. Joyce, Fudge, Kaptur announce Restore Our Neighborhoods Act

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce announced legislation aimed to protect responsible homeowners by allocating funds to demolish vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed properties.

Joyce, R-Russell Township, was joined at a press conference Wednesday by Reps. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights; Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; and Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed.

The legislation is named the Restore Our Neighborhoods Act, H.R. 656, said Joyce.

“This common-sense bill will increase home values, decrease crime, and protect responsible homeowners from the enormous economic drag of vacant or abandoned homes in their neighborhoods," Joyce said. "For too long, responsible Ohioans paying their mortgage every month and meticulously taking care of their homes have been punished. This legislation will protect Ohio homeowners who are doing exactly what they should be doing and I look forward to bipartisan support.”

According to the Government Accountability Office, a foreclosed, vacant, and tax-delinquent property reduces neighboring property prices by almost 10 percent and can reduce values of nearby homes by as much as $8,600 to $17,000 per property, Joyce said.

The Restore Our Neighborhoods Act creates a national qualified urban demolition bond limitation that the Secretary of the Treasury shall allocate among the states to empower states to undertake significant residential and commercial structure demolition projects.

The bonds will be issued by land banks, and in cases where a state does not have a land bank, by the state itself.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

State of the Union speech interesting, questions remain

One of the two major speeches I’ve anticipated hearing this month was finished Tuesday when President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address.

The other comes this Tuesday in Lima, when Gov. John Kasich will give his State of the State Address.

Initially, I thought a few of Obama’s proposals were interesting, but I also was left with questions.
The president wants high-quality preschool available to every child in America.

Obama said that every dollar spent on children for that purpose can save $7 down the road.

The president didn’t exactly specify how — no matter how much merit the idea might have — it would be funded initially.

Obama also called for an increase in the minimum wage and for Congress to put gun-control legislation up for a vote.

Critics often argue that increases in minimum wage lead to inflation and prompt businesses to raise prices or cut employee hours or jobs to offset the added wages.

Minimum wage proponents frequently say people should be able to earn enough to make a living and the added income gives minimum wage recipients more money to purchase goods and services.

Obama said gun violence victims deserve a vote, and he shared the story of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago who was killed recently in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from Obama’s house.

Obama said people including Pendelton’s family, the people of Newtown, Conn., and other victims such as former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords deserve a vote on gun control measures, whether it be a yes or no.

Emotion aside, my question is what would that legislation look like and how effective might it be?

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, gave the Republican rebuttal speech and provided a sharp contrast to the president in terms of policies moving forward.

He also shared a little bit of his family’s roots and was encouraged by a renewed effort by Congress to take up immigration reform.

Unfortunately, Rubio’s speech will likely be remembered as much, if not more, for his awkward attempt to grab a drink from a bottle of water.

But the appearance did raise Rubio’s profile on the national stage and may position him to be thought more as a presidential candidate in 2016.

United Solutions
U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, has joined the United Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of freshman Members of Congress committed to working together to find common ground on issues.
The caucus was founded by U.S. Reps. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., and Patrick Murphy, D-Fla. Nearly 30 members of the freshman class have joined.

Picked up petitions

Recently taking out petitions with the Lake County Elections Board was Lori Lipton for Concord Township trustee. The deadline to file for the position is Aug. 7.

Hear ye, hear ye

The Ohio Supreme Court has approved the nomination of Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge Tim Grendell as a member of the Commission on the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio Courts representing the Ohio Association of Juvenile Court Judges. The term ends Dec. 31, 2015.


The weekly deadline for information to appear in this column is Wednesday at 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser is 5 to 7 p.m. March 4 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

n Re-election kickoff party for Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets, 5 to 8 p.m. March 7 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Ed or Cindy Hughes.

n Re-election kickoff for Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 21 at Patrician Party, Eastlake. See Ted or Patricia Andrzejewski.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce signs letter to leadership supporting VAWA reauthorization (document)

U.S. Rep. David P. Joyce and 16 Republican colleagues sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to urge the House of Representatives reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

“As a former public prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the crucial resources the Violence Against Women Act provides victims of abuse and law enforcement officials,” Joyce, R-Russell Township, said in a statement.

“Violence has absolutely zero place in a civilized society and we must do everything possible to help the victims. I urge my colleagues to reauthorize this important legislation so that we’re able to provide victims of abuse the best resources possible and hopefully prevent further tragedies.”

The Violence Against Women Act was first signed into law in 1994 and subsequently reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.

The legislation is a vital resource for communities and organizations that help victims of sexual abuse and violence.

During the 112th Congress, both the House of Representatives and Senate passed their own versions of VAWA but no final legislation was presented for a vote in either chamber.

Members of Congress who signed the letter believe that this legislation should be advanced quickly to ensure the programs that rely up VAWA will not be put in jeopardy.

U.S. Rep. David P. Joyce Signs Letter To Leadership Supporting VAWA Reauthorization by The News-Herald

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Kasich announces public lottery for State of State speech tickets

Gov. John Kasich announced that an internet lottery will be used to distribute a limited number of tickets to his 2013 State of the State address on Feb. 19.

Interested individuals can register for the ticket lottery at:

Names will be collected until 6 p.m. Thursday and people selected for tickets by random lottery will be notified via e-mail by noon on Friday.

Kasich will conduct the speech in Lima at Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center. The Center offers a spacious auditorium that allows for more Ohioans to attend.

The governor continues a tradition to conduct the speed outside the state capital that he began last year at Steubenville’s Wells Academy.

Kasich said his decision to deliver the State of the State outside the capital is again rooted in a desire to make state government more accessible to Ohioans and shine a light on communities across Ohio making contributions to the state’s success.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

State budget battle looms large

An interesting state budget battle has already begun with state political leaders engaging in lively banter regarding Gov. John Kasich’s two-year proposal.

Kasich’s budget looks to implement a number of big policy changes such as a Medicaid coverage expansion and changes to state income tax and sales tax rates.

The budget has parts that Democrats and Republicans like, although initially there doesn’t seem to be much mutual agreement.

Interestingly, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said the state GOP wouldn’t officially support or oppose the governor’s plan, rather it would let the legislative process play out.

However, Bennett said the budget delivers on education reform, tax cuts and accelerated job growth for the next two years.

Meanwhile, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern made it known quite clearly the party adamantly opposes the governor’s budget, although he agrees with Kasich’s proposal to accept federal funding to help the state expand Medicaid health care coverage.

The Republican governor raised a few eyebrows when he broke ranks from what some other GOP governors have done by wishing to expand Medicaid.

It may take a bit to persuade some Republicans to go along with that idea, especially GOP state lawmakers who oppose the nation’s new health care law, dubbed Obamacare.

Redfern said Democrats would look to separate a Medicaid expansion from the budget and offer amendments for the issue to be considered as stand-alone legislation.

Republicans have a clear majority in the Ohio General Assembly, but I think Democrats could have some success separating Medicaid expansion from the budget.

I’m probably in the minority there, but I think it could provide a path for some Republicans to then support the governor’s budget and provide them political cover from the more conservative members of the party.

The Ohio Republican Party also cited support of Kasich’s signature program, JobsOhio, to attract new businesses. JobsOhio has received little support from Democrats who say the program is unconstitutional. They also have questioned its transparency.

Bennett also criticized Democrats who “have been hard at work (last) week spreading outright lies about the new budget.”

In fact, Bennett unveiled Thursday a new website,, that he said is “promising that the old lies and new lies to come will now be available to the public.”

Redfern blasted Bennett saying “This soon-to-be outgoing chairman has the audacity to suggest it’s the Democrats who want to kill jobs. Quite the contrary.”

The Democratic Party chairman then said former Gov. Ted Strickland offered seniors the largest property tax cut in state history by expanding the Homestead Exemption. He then said Kasich’s plan to expand the base of the state sales tax is one of the largest expansions of sales tax in state history.

Despite the fact the overall rate would be lowered, Redfern said the proposal would disproportionately effect lower-income residents and would now raise the cost of services such as haircuts, funerals and foreclosures.

Joyce makes friends

As a freshmen federal lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce continues to reach across the political aisle in Congress to make friends and build relationships.

Joyce, R-Russell Township, plans to sit next to fellow freshman lawmaker U.S. Rep. Cheri Busto, D-Ill., during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The two members of Congress, who first met during a bipartisan Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, said their decision was based in the spirit of bipartisanship and working together.


n Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hosts his annual Mardi Gras Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.

n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser is 5 to 7 p.m. March 4 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

n Re-election kickoff party for Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets, 5 to 8 p.m. March 7 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Ed or Cindy Hughes.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce plans to sit by Democrat at State of the Union

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce plans not to sit next to a fellow Republican during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Instead Joyce, R-Russell Township and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., announced they will sit together.

“In the spirit of bipartisanship and working together, we look forward to attending President Obama’s State of the Union address together,” the two federal lawmakers said in a statement. “As freshman Members new to Washington, we understand our constituents want to see common-sense solutions to our nation’s problems, not partisan bickering.

“We look forward to hearing the president’s proposals to address our challenges and working together to tackle the serious issues facing the U.S. such as reducing our debt, creating jobs and growing our economy.”

Joyce and Bustos now serve their first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. They met while attending a bipartisan Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service with eleven other Members of Congress.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Joyce votes in favor of balanced budget legislation

U.S. Rep. David P. Joyce, R-Russell Township, announced Wednesday that he voted for the Require a Plan Act.

The legislation, H.R. 444, would require the White House to either produce a balanced budget within a 10-year window or by April 1, 2013, provide a supplemental budget plan that identifies what year their plan would achieve a balanced budget.

“Today, I voted to put the U.S. on a path toward balancing our budget,” Joyce said in a statement. “No more budget tricks. No more accounting gimmicks. No more empty promises. Every year, Northeast Ohio families sit down to write a budget, why shouldn't Washington do the same?  It’s my hope that this starts a serious conversation in Washington about controlling spending to provide a more stable and secure future.”

The Require a Plan Act passed by a vote of 253-167 and the current U.S. debt is more than $16.5 trillion.

Joyce also commented on introduction of the bipartisan Protect Medical Innovation Act, which would repeal a nearly $30 billion tax on medical devices.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn. and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisc.
“Now is not the time to be raising taxes on American manufacturing,” Joyce said. “Congress should make it easier, not harder for American businesses to create more high-paying jobs and careers for qualified Americans ready to work. We need to protect jobs, not threaten them.”

Ohio’s 14th Congressional District is home to several device manufacturers including Mentor-based STERIS Corp. and Philips Healthcare in Highland Heights, Joyce noted.

He said that according to The Lewin Group, Inc., national health care and human services consulting firm based in Virginia, the tax puts at risk the 422,778 American jobs in the medical device industry.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

NAMI Ohio applauds Kasich for proposing Medicaid expansion

The Ohio chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness applauded Gov. John Kasich today for including an expansion of Medicaid for Ohio residents into his biennnial budget proposal.

The advocacy group send a letter Tuesday to Kasich to thank him and said it would work with state legislators to convince them to include the expansion in the budget.

Here’s what the letter stated:

An Open Letter to Governor John Kasich

February 5, 2013

Dear Governor Kasich,

On behalf of the thousands of Ohioans with mental health disorders and their families, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI Ohio) wants to THANK YOU for including Medicaid expansion in your budget proposal.  Your decision will make an enormous difference in the lives of those who struggle with holding down a job while battling depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders that make it difficult to cope with everyday life.

Ensuring that those in need have access to Medicaid services, including mental and physical healthcare, will not only make it easier for Ohioans with mental illness to fulfill their job responsibilities, but it will also improve the quality of their lives and the lives of those who love them.

NAMI Ohio, the state’s voice on mental illness, will be working with the legislature to convince them this is crucial legislation that addresses both mental and physical health care needs of working Ohioans.

Thank you, Governor Kasich, for your commitment to improving the lives of all Ohioans.

Your friends at NAMI Ohio

Phone: 614-224-2700 / 800-686-2646  

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Can Washington move forward now after debt ceiling crisis?

Federal lawmakers finally approved a proposal that will stop the nation from hitting its debt ceiling limit — at least through May 18.

The legislation would allow the government to borrow money to meet its obligations until that time and resets the debt limit to reflect that change.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill that passed by a 64-34 vote in the U.S. Senate.
Among those who voted against the measure was U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Portman said that no one was arguing that the country must pay its bills, but rather the debate should be about how to shrink those bills moving forward.

The senator said it would be irresponsible to merely pay past obligations without having a real debate about Washington’s spending habits and how to avoid the situation in the future.

Voted down prior to the bill’s passage were two amendments offered by Portman that he said would ensure one dollar in savings for every dollar in new debt and end the threat of a government shutdown and artificial cliffs.

However, Portman said he was pleased that Senate Democrats have promised to move forward passing a budget.

Now that the debt ceiling has been averted for a few months, can Washington leaders move forward and work together and resolve this issue permanently?

There are other potential topics on the agenda for Congress and the president to work on such as immigration reform, gun control and what to do about entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare to name just a few.

Kasich unveils school funding plan

Gov. John Kasich believes his school funding plan to overhaul educational funding will be pass constitutional muster as the Ohio Supreme Court years ago ruled the state relies too much on property taxes for school funding.

“I think you’ll be surprised by the depth, the content of the plan,” Kasich said, according to the Associated Press.

The governor said his plan would “strip all the politics out,” and focus on directing dollars to classrooms and resources for districts that need the most help.

Early criticism by the Ohio Democratic Party said Kasich unveiled a disappointing new formula.

The state Democratic Party said while the Governor’s proposal was short on specifics and lacked a district-by-district breakdown, it was clear Kasich does not intend to fully restore the historic $1.8 billion taken from the state education budget in 2011.

Democrats said a recent independent study found that due to the governor’s education cuts, more than $1 billion in new tax levies have been on the ballot across the state, and Kasich’s plan ensures that number will only increase.

LaTourette next Transportation Secretary?

With U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood leaving his post, among the names mentioned for a possible appointment is former U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette.

LaTourette, a Bainbridge Township Republican, served for years on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

LaHood, a Republican, is the only member of the GOP on President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

LaTourette recently retired from his 18-year career as a congressman and now heads a new subsidiary of McDonald Hopkins, a business advisory and advocacy law firm in Washington D.C.

He told the Columbus Dispatch this week it would be a “huge honor” to be picked but that the White House had not contacted him about the possibility.

Picked up petitions
Recently taking out petitions with the Lake County Elections Board are Joshua Pennock for Painesville Township trustee, Dan Hill for Timberlake Council, Desirea Thompson for Mentor-on-the-Lake Council, and Ken Hoefle for Eastlake Council.


n Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy hosts his annual Mardi Gras Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Kip Molenaar.

n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser is 5 to 7 p.m. March 4 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

n Re-election kickoff party for Mentor Municipal Court Judge John Trebets, 5 to 8 p.m. March 7 at Holiday Inn Express LaMalfa Centre in Mentor. See Ed or Cindy Hughes.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Sen. Rob Portman disappointed by latest jobs report

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman was disappointed with the latest jobs report that showed the nation’s unemployment rate rising to 7.9 percent.

Portman, R-Ohio, noted the report comes after the Commerce Department announced earlier this week that the U.S. economy shrank in the last quarter of 2012 for the first time since the recession ended.

“This week, we were sad to learn not only that unemployment remains high, but also that the economy actually shrunk in the most recent quarter,” Portman said in a statement. “This is far from the robust economic recovery that we hope for and that was promised; it’s time to face the facts and start implementing pro-growth policies to rejuvenate our economy and put people back to work.”

Portman said that in order to get the economy back on the right track, lawmakers must rein in Washington’s out-of-control deficits, modernize an antiquated and inefficient tax code, reform important but unsustainable entitlement programs, and reduce onerous regulations that prevent businesses from expanding here at home.

“Yesterday, I fought to tackle one piece of the problem by introducing two commonsense amendments to the debt limit bill that would provide a pathway forward to really address our soaring debt, but unfortunately they did not pass the Senate,” Portman said. “This week’s two troubling reports are the latest sign in a string of evidence that we need to get serious about growing our economy, and I am disappointed that the Senate Democrats shied away from having a real conversation about DC’s reckless spending habits.”

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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