An Ohio-based payments-processing giant says it’s giving bonuses, pay raises and improving benefits because of the GOP tax cuts.
By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio-based payments-processing giant said Friday (March 2) it’s giving bonuses, upping pay and improving benefits while crediting the GOP tax cuts.
Worldpay Inc. detailed its plans as Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman toured the company, formed recently from Cincinnati-based Vantiv’s acquisition of British rival Worldpay. Portman has been visiting different kinds of companies around the state to hear what they’re doing with reduced taxes. President Donald Trump came last month to a suburban Cincinnati cylinder manufacturer that said employees were getting $1,000 bonuses.
Worldpay said U.S. hourly workers are getting bonuses of $1,000 to $2,000 each, and some hourly wages are being hiked. The company is increasing its 401(k) match and investments in wellness and recognition programs. Charles Drucker, the company’s executive chairman and co-CEO, said the company also will increase charitable giving.
Democrats have said the tax cuts help mainly the wealthy and are deepening the federal deficit. Republicans will highlight boosts to worker pay in this year’s midterm elections as they try to keep political control of Ohio and to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Portman was re-elected to a second term in 2014.
Worldpay has more than 1,500 employees in Cincinnati, and some 8,000 globally. The company says it will process more than 40 billion transactions annually worth $1.6 trillion across 146 countries.
Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell
South Korean firm joins Ohio effort to build petrochemical plant
By MARK GILLISPIE and JULIE CARR SMYTH
Monday, March 12
COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich said Monday (March 12) that a major South Korean industrial plant builder has joined an effort to build a multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant in eastern Ohio to take advantage of the region’s oil-and-gas boom.
Kasich, a Republican, called the partnership between Seoul-based Daelim Industrial and Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical a “game-changer” for the proposed plant, which has idled in the planning stages for years. Daelim, according to its website, is South Korea’s oldest construction company and an expert in petrochemical technology.
“If this can happen, and I’m more optimistic ultimately that this will happen, we’re not just interested in this,” he said during a news conference. “We’re interested in building an entire community of technology.”
The U.S. subsidiary of PTT has been working for several years with officials from JobsOhio, Ohio’s privatized economic development office, on a proposal to build the plant on the site of a former FirstEnergy coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River in Belmont County.
The facility, commonly referred to as an ethane cracker, would convert ethane, a byproduct of natural gas drilling, into a hydrocarbon called ethylene that’s further processed and used for plastics production and has other industrial uses.
Monday’s announcement again stopped short of a full commitment by either firm to build the plant, which Kongkrapan Intarajang, PTT’s chief operating officer, said will approach $7.5 billion. JobsOhio officials said that decision could come by the end of 2018.
“What they would build here would be probably the leading technological effort at cracking gas in the world,” Kasich said, noting that he has told the two companies’ leaders “guys, you can’t wait.”
Asked whether Kasich had applied pressure to see the deal done, “Sean” Sang Woo Kim, president and chief executive officer of Daelim’s petrochemical division, told a reporter, “Oh, yeah, a tremendous amount of pressure. You know Mr. John Kasich.”
The uncertain future of the project has caused concern in an Appalachian region of the state that’s counting on the project to create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent positions. PTT officials said in February 2017 that the company would decide by the end of that year whether to build the plant. That was after previously saying the announcement would come in the spring of 2017.
Jen Miller, director of the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter, said going forward with the project is a bad idea that would have “disastrous consequences for our health and safety.”
“This plant would subject Ohio communities to increased air pollution, not to mention the threat of fires, explosions, and other large-scale disasters,” she said in a statement. “The health and safety of Ohioans and those who live downstream on the Ohio River are worth more than fracked gas industry profits.”
PTT has spent about $150 million on engineering and design so far, company and JobsOhio officials said.
The new partnership’s plans call for building a plant capable of producing 1.5 million metric tons (1.65 million tons) of ethylene a year, which would be a 50 percent increase in capacity over what PTT originally proposed.
Gillispie reported from Cleveland.
NRDC: Clean Energy Is Key to New England’s Fuel Security
Bruce Ho, an energy expert with the NRDC, discussed today how renewable energy sources are critical for New England’s energy security.
In his new blog, he writes “The New England power grid is rapidly changing as energy efficiency and wind and solar power increasingly replace fossil fuels, and natural gas replaces more expensive coal and oil. On Friday, ISO New England, the organization that operates the grid in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, filed comments with its federal regulator—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC—raising concerns that reliance on natural gas could undermine the grid due to potential wintertime shortfalls in gas supply. The ISO’s “fuel security” analysis shows why the transition to pollution- and fuel-free clean energy is critical to New England’s future. Unfortunately, this is not the narrative the ISO has emphasized.
Instead, the ISO has floated a dirty energy path: paying many millions of dollars to uneconomic oil or nuclear generators not to retire, on top of its previous calls to construct new gas pipelines in the region. The ISO has presented the region’s choice in a biased way, with clean energy discounted as speculative or far off and paths relying on pipelines or bailouts to polluting energy as more reliable or certain.”
When is a deal not a deal? When Donald Trump is involved
By Micheline Maynard
No matter where negotiations take place, the give and take of the two sides has some time-honoured tenets.
One is to understand your adversary’s true aim in negotiations, and to make sure that your team respects it.
Another is to bargain vigorously, dealing with every contingency before anything is signed. And once you have come to agreement, stand by a conclusion that was reached in good faith.
Donald Trump seems not to know, or care, about any of those rules. And, his attitude toward negotiation is resulting in global confusion.
North Korea: deal or no deal?
Last week, Trump announced plans to meet with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader whom he has belittled as “rocket man” and taunted mercilessly in Trump’s first year in office.
The announcement, which came with little warning even to Mr Trump’s Vice-President, seemed like a coup de grace for the mercurial American leader.
It would be the first time a US president had met with a North Korean leader, and seemed to spell a continuation of the thaw that began at the Winter Olympics, when North and South Korean athletes competed on blended teams.
No sooner was the meeting announced, however, then the diplomats weighed in. They noted that North Korean leaders have wanted to meet with their US counterparts for decades, so it was hardly the victory that Mr Trump was claiming it to be.
They warned Mr Trump that he was in danger of being used by North Korea for propaganda purposes. And, they pointed out that Mr Trump had agreed to a meeting without knowing exactly why Mr Kim wanted to see him.
Suddenly, the White House backed away from its embrace of a no-strings meeting with Mr Kim. Now, the White House is saying that a meeting depends on the terms that can be reached.
It appeared that the deal to meet was now a no deal to meet. And, Mr Trump’s behaviour was precisely in line with what those who know him have been saying all along.
Tony Schwartz, who wrote Mr Trump’s autobiography, The Art of The Deal, says the President has an unshakable belief in his negotiating abilities. In fact, Mr Trump expressed that confidence to Jane Meyer of The New Yorker in 2016.
“I’ve made a fortune by making deals. I do that. I do that well. That’s what I do,” he told her.
TPP and NAFTA: deal or no deal?
Mr Trump also refuses to be pinned down until the last possible moment, Schwartz says. And even when a deal is done, it isn’t done.
He has already proved that numerous times in just 14 months. As soon as he was in office, he pulled the plug on US participation in the Paris Climate Accords.
He pulled the US out of the meticulously crafted Trans-Pacific Partnership (which he now says the US may re-join, given that the nations have signed an agreement without the Americans).
He launched talks with Canada and Mexico to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Australian steel: deal or no deal?
Last week, he shocked global leaders by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, which many economists said were superfluous, and could wind up hurting American industry more than it would help.
Initially declaring there would be no exceptions to the tariffs, by Friday, a new version was drafted, excluding Canada and Mexico, while the European Union and China also demanded their levies to be set aside as well.
After a flurry of conversations, Australia is now excluded as well, and there is some question about whether the country escaped in return for security considerations.
It’s easy to wonder where Australia stands with the US president, since the relationship has bounced from rocky over refugees to effusive praise last week.
“We have a very close relationship with Australia, we have a trade surplus with Australia, great country, long term partner, we’ll be doing something with them,” Mr Trump said in a cabinet meeting.
But no matter the public words of encouragement, it’s only natural to wonder whether Mr Trump might wake up someday and turn on its ally with no warning.
Only last month, The New York Times was talking about a “reset” with Australia, with the nations sharing common concerns about China, trade and immigration.
And yet it’s clear after tariffs, the environment, TPP, and North Korea that nothing is predictable about the American President, least of all his view of negotiations.
Three decades ago, the author Suzanne Massie taught Ronald Reagan a Russian proverb to keep in mind when he met with Soviet officials: “Trust, but verify.”
Australian officials, and indeed any global leaders who deal with Mr Trump, might do well to remember another Russian saying:
“If you are given something, take it. If you are being beaten, run.”
Micheline Maynard is an American journalist and author who has covered numerous sets of union, business and trade negotiations.
Statement from Secretary Husted on DHS Reauthorization, Potential Elections Amendments
COLUMBUS – Secretary of State Jon Husted has joined chief elections officials from across the country in opposing certain provisions related to elections administration currently being considered for inclusion in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reauthorization bill (HR 2825). Those concerns have been outlined in a letter co-signed by multiple secretaries of state. The following may be directly attributed to Secretary Husted:
“The fact that the U.S. Senate would even consider enacting a law that would allow a President to place Secret Service agents in polling places is shocking. The frightening irony is that in creating additional safeguards to prevent Russian meddling in American elections, these Senators would open the door to unprecedented federal intrusion that could lead to an American election system that looks more like Putin’s Russia.
“We have and will continue to work with DHS, but much of what is being considered is a dangerous federal overreach. In Ohio, we have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat. This has been made evident year after year through our ability to deliver secure, well run elections in our state. We work closely with federal, state, and local agencies to preserve a high standard of integrity in the voting process. This work should be able to proceed as necessary without any short-sighted interference from the federal government.”
The letter —
March 9, 2018
Hon. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader
Hon. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader
Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer:
We write to you today out of concern regarding unprecedented and shocking language currently included in Section 4012 of HR 2825, the reauthorization of the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Section 4012 allows Secret Service personnel unlimited access to polling places pursuant to the President’s direction. This is an alarming proposal which raises the possibility that armed federal agents will be patrolling neighborhood precincts and vote centers.
Title 18 of the US Code makes it a crime for a military or civil officer in the service of the United States to bring or keep their troops “at any place where a general or special election is held,” unless it is necessary to protect against an armed invasion. This longstanding and carefully crafted statute ensures the right of voters to cast their ballots under the limited authority of civil officers rather than law enforcement.
Secretaries of State across the country agree that there is no discernable need for federal Secret Service agents to intrude, at the discretion of the president, who may also be a candidate in that election, into the thousands of citadels where democracy is enshrined.
Due to this grave concern, we write to you today to humbly request your assistance in removing this damaging and concerning provision from the proposed legislation. Yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee considered this legislation and heard our concerns, expressed to Senators Johnson and McCaskill, regarding this and other amendments to the bill that we found disquieting. However, the committee did not have the authority to address this important issue, and therefore we bring this request directly to you as leaders of your respective parties within the Senate.
We welcome your questions on this topic, and we are happy to communicate with you further should you require clarity or testimony regarding this matter.
Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico Secretary of State
Tom Schedler, Louisiana Secretary of State
Jim Condos, Vermont Secretary of State
Connie Lawson, Indiana Secretary of State
Steve Simon, Minnesota Secretary of State
Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State
Elaine Manlove, Delaware State Election Commissioner
Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State
Kim Wyman, Washington Secretary of State
Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of State
Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State
Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State
Talent is a gift; character is a choice. Aristotle said it best in 4th century BC: You are what you repeatedly do. You do not act rightly because you have character; you have character because you have acted rightly.
Strong Support for Congressional Term Limits in Ohio Senate Race
U.S. Term Limits (USTL), the leader in the national movement to limit terms for elected officials, praised Melissa Ackison, candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, for signing its term limits pledge. Previously, Mike Gibbons pledged his commitment to support term limits on Congress as well.
In November 2017, U.S. Term Limits had more than 50 pledge signers in Congress. USTL President Philip Blumel commented on the pledges saying, “This support of term limits shows that there are individuals who are willing to put self-interest aside to follow the will of the people. America needs a Congress that will be served by citizen legislators, not career politicians.”
The U.S. Term Limits Amendment Pledge is provided to every announced candidate for federal office. It reads, “I pledge that as a member of Congress I will co-sponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.” The U.S. Term Limits Constitutional Amendment has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House of Representatives by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
Blumel noted, “We have seen a dramatic increase in those wanting term limits on Congress. More than 82% of Americans have rejected the career politician model and want to replace it with citizen leadership. Ackison and Gibbons know this and are willing to work to assure we reach our goal. The way to achieve that goal is through congressional term limits.
According to the last nationwide poll on term limits conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, conducted in January 2018, term limits enjoys wide bipartisan support. McLaughlin’s analysis states, “Support for term limits is broad and strong across all political, geographic and demographic groups. An overwhelming 82% of voters approve of a Constitutional Amendment that will place term limits on members of Congress.”
Blumel concluded, “America is in trouble. Our career politicians have let the people down. It is time to return control of our nation to the people. It is time for a constitutional amendment limiting congressional terms.”
The term limits amendment bills would require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, and ratification by 38 states, in order to become part of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Term Limits is the largest grassroots term limits advocacy group in the country. We connect term limits supporters with their legislators and work to pass term limits at all levels of government, particularly on the U.S. Congress.
Kroger and Instacart Expand Partnership
Retailer increases customer coverage area
CINCINNATI, March 12, 2018 – The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced it is expanding its partnership with Instacart to increase its customer delivery coverage area in 2018.
“As part of Restock Kroger, we are investing in redefining our customers’ grocery shopping experience by bringing online and offline seamlessly together,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s Chief Digital Officer.
“Having grown our digital sales in 2017 by 90 percent, we continue to accelerate our digital roadmap in 2018 to make shopping with Kroger simpler and more personalized.”
Kroger currently delivers from more than 872 stores across the country, and it offers 1,091 curbside pickup locations with plans to add 500 new locations in 2018.
“When you look at Kroger’s customer coverage area for seamless shopping, two-thirds of our customers – more than 40 million households – have access to curbside pickup and/or delivery,” added Mr. Cosset. “Our goal is for these convenient services to be available to every customer.”
Kroger will continue to expand its seamless coverage area and enhance its digital shopping experience to provide customers with quicker and easier access to personalized products, recipes, digital coupons, weekly ads, smart shopping lists, and more.
Kroger customers can experience the seamless experience by shopping on the company’s website or app.
“With the expansion of our Instacart partnership, it provides Kroger the opportunity to increase our delivery offerings even further and when you combine it with our successful curbside service, it will help us accelerate our ecommerce reach significantly,” continued Mr. Cosset.
“We are thrilled to work with Kroger and share the same vision of bringing same-day grocery delivery to more American households and cities every day,” said Nilam Ganenthiran, Instacart’s Chief Business Officer. “When an admired household brand such as Kroger unites with a leading technology platform in Instacart, it is our customers who ultimately win.”
Kroger now offers home delivery in 45 markets through Instacart and other delivery partners representing the following divisions: Atlanta; Central; Cincinnati; Columbus; Dallas; Dillons; Fred Meyer; Fry’s; Harris Teeter; Houston; King Soopers; Louisville; Mariano’s; Metro Market; Michigan; Mid-Atlantic; Nashville; Pic ‘n Save; Ralphs; QFC; and Smith’s.
At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: to Feed the Human Spirit.
We are nearly half a million associates who serve nine million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025.