Third parties rebuked


Staff & Wire Reports



FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, left, and Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine wave to the crowd before a debate at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. A third party contending it was unfairly excluded from a fledgling debate series in Ohio's 2018 governor's race is about to air its claims before state election regulators. The Ohio Elections Commission is hearing the Libertarian Party of Ohio's case Thursday, Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, Pool, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, left, and Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine wave to the crowd before a debate at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. A third party contending it was unfairly excluded from a fledgling debate series in Ohio's 2018 governor's race is about to air its claims before state election regulators. The Ohio Elections Commission is hearing the Libertarian Party of Ohio's case Thursday, Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, Pool, File)


Former Ohio Gov. candidate Constance Gadell-Newton, of the Green Party, addresses members of the Ohio Election Commission on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)


Ohio election panel tosses minor parties’ debate complaint

By JULIE CARR SMYTH

AP Statehouse Correspondent

Thursday, December 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State election regulators in Ohio delivered a blow to two minor parties on Thursday, dismissing complaints that alleged three debates this year that excluded their candidates for governor represented illegal corporate contributions.

In a unanimous vote without discussion, the Ohio Elections Commission tossed out complaints brought by the Libertarian and Green parties over three face-offs between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, including one organized by the newly formed Ohio Debate Commission.

Facing the complaints was an ironic twist for the debate commission, a presumably nonpartisan collaboration among civic, media and academic partners that said its goal was to bring more accountability and consistency to Ohio debates.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined a growing number of high-profile candidates around the country when he refused to debate his rival, Democrat Ed FitzGerald, during a runaway re-election bid in 2014. The debate process, in general, has concerned voter advocates across the U.S. as it’s become increasingly subject to boycotts, political positioning and onstage grand-standing that they see as unhelpful to democracy.

But the minor parties and their candidates contended the new commission and debate sponsors benefited major parties over minor ones.

Specifically, they alleged in their elections complaints that The City Club of Cleveland, through its “alter-ego” the debate commission, as well as the University of Dayton and Marietta College, violated state election law by giving DeWine and Cordray valuable exclusive exposure that was unavailable to third-party candidates.

The governor’s race, which DeWine won, also included Libertarian candidate Travis Irvine and Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton.

Commissioner Scott Norman, who led the vote to dismiss, said he didn’t think the minor parties had the law on their side. Debates featuring only the Democratic and Republican candidates are nothing new in Ohio.

“I don’t think our role has changed,” Norman said. “I think if you want to change that, you have to go across the street to the Legislature.”

Gadell-Newton, an attorney who represented herself during Thursday’s hearing, said she believes that indeed things have changed.

“I can’t really speak to what has happened in the past,” she said. “But I do think that, right now, there’s a lot of political discontent and people are looking for something new.”

She told commissioners that excluding her and Irvine from the debates was a disservice to voters, democracy and the free exchange of ideas.

Irvine, also present Thursday, said he was “surprised, but not surprised” by the outcome, which Libertarian party officials said simply affirmed the existing “two-party duopoly.”

The Libertarians’ initial complaint came in September, between the first and second debates. It alleges the first debate’s sponsor, the University of Dayton, “planned, sponsored and staged” the debate “after being solicited and being aided and abetted by the Cordray and DeWine Campaigns.”

“No pre-existing objective criteria — other than the participants being Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine — were published, documented, or in any way made available to the public, the press, the two minor political parties, or the two minor political parties’ qualified gubernatorial candidates,” the complaint said.

The Cleveland and Marietta sponsors were added to the complaint in October.

Attorneys for all three sponsors and both campaigns disputed the Libertarians’ reading of Ohio law on Thursday, and their arguments won the day.

“The purpose of our joining together on the brief was simply to promote future debates because we think they are important to the electorate,” said Cordray campaign attorney John Gilligan. “And the notion that third parties or fourth parties are somehow new in this state is simply inaccurate.”

In a joint filing Nov. 15, DeWine, Cordray and their campaigns argued that the Libertarians are seeking to misapply corporate prohibitions contained in federal election law to an Ohio campaign. They said Ohio’s definition of a “contribution” is “fundamentally different” from the federal one and defines a “thing of value” as something intended to influence an election for or against a candidate — not just anything that’s connected to one.

Cleveland’s City Club, a nonprofit behind the debate commission effort, argued that Ohio’s ban on corporate campaign contributions is aimed at those intending to wield political influence, not to educate voters.

However, CEO Dan Moulthrop said participants in the debate commission project would meet Thursday to review how this year went and to make improvements beneficial to voters. The commission also sponsored a U.S. Senate debate.

Group plans new $230M stadium to keep MLS team in Columbus

Friday, December 7

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam are part of a group planning to build a $230 million stadium for the Columbus Crew as part of a bid to keep the MLS team in the city.

The Haslams and Columbus-area investors announced in October they are trying to buy the Crew after it looked like the team was headed to Austin, Texas, after this season.

The group on Thursday released their plans to build a 20,000-seat stadium in downtown Columbus.

The overall proposal says the group would spend $645 million to buy the team, build the stadium and develop the surrounding area.

Columbus and Franklin County would spend $50 million each for developing the site and on infrastructure.

The MLS says the entire deal must be completed by year’s end.

Columbus Crew’s Steffen to join Manchester City next summer

Tuesday, December 11

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — American goalkeeper Zack Steffen will transfer to Manchester City from the Columbus Crew in July.

The Crew said Tuesday that Steffen will join City when the summer transfer window opens July 9.

The 23-year-old played two seasons at the University of Maryland and joined Germany’s Freiburg in December 2014. He never got into a first-team match, signed with the Crew in July 2016 and was on loan to third-tier Pittsburgh for the rest of the season. He made his Crew debut in 2017 and was voted Major League Soccer’s top goalkeeper this season.

Steffen made his U.S. national team debut in January and had six appearances this year.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ohio recognized as leader in electric grid modernization

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Dec. 6, 2018) – Today Ohio was recognized with an “Outstanding Progress Award” by the GridWise Alliance for its accomplishments in rapidly expanding grid modernization efforts. GridWise cited the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)’s PowerForward Roadmap as the major factor for Ohio’s improved ranking in this year’s Gridwise Modernization Index (GMI).

“The PowerForward Roadmap is bold, and we see it as our duty to chart a path forward for Ohio,” stated PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque. “We are thrilled to see Ohio being recognized as one of the most innovative states in terms of grid modernization policy.”

On Aug. 29, 2018, the PUCO issued PowerForward: A Roadmap to Ohio’s Electricity Future. The PowerForward Roadmap envisions the future electric distribution grid as a secure, open-access platform that will give customers more control over how they consume electricity, and allow customers to adopt innovative applications of their choosing as they are introduced on the market.

The PowerForward Roadmap is the culmination of nearly 18 months of public dialog focused on how the PUCO can enhance the electricity experience for Ohioans through innovation.

The GridWise Alliance’s GMI uses data inputs and publicly available information to evaluate and rank the status of grid modernization efforts across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The GMI has become widely recognized across the industry as a resource that benchmarks states on a wide range of grid modernization policies, practices and investments; providing insights into the progress and various approaches. The GMI takes a comprehensive view, tracking dozens of specific changes in each state and highlighting several of the most significant changes in the industry.

Additional information regarding GridWise Alliance’s GMI can be found on their website at https://gridwise.org/grid-modernization-index-2018/.

Additional information regarding PowerForward, including over 100 hours of high definition video, is available on the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.

Council OKs ticket taxes to fund arts, arena repairs

Tuesday, December 11

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus City Council has approved two 5 percent taxes on arts, sports and entertainment ticket sales to fund the arts and improvements to the multipurpose Nationwide Arena in Ohio’s capital city.

The council voted 6-0 Monday to adopt the taxes that would begin to be collected on July 1, 2019.

One tax will be on performances and sporting events costing more than $10 a ticket at venues with more than 400 seats, not including Nationwide Arena. It will raise $6 million for arts groups. The second tax will generate an estimated $2.4 million for arena repairs and $600,000 for the arts.

Opponents say the taxes would hurt event attendance. They plan to seek a ballot referendum on the arts tax and file a legal challenge to the arena tax.

FBI charge 2 in Ohio accused of plotting separate attacks

By JOHN SEEWER

Associated Press

Monday, December 10

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Federal authorities said they’ve charged two people involved in planning separate large-scale attacks — one who wanted to carry out a shooting at a synagogue and another who had been plotting a bar shooting and blowing up a pipeline.

While the alleged attacks were in the planning stages, there was never an immediate threat to the public, the FBI and Department of Justice said Monday in a news conference announcing the charges.

Both suspects who are from the Toledo area had identified specific places they wanted to target, authorities said.

The two have been under investigation for months and had talked about their plans with undercover FBI agents, according to the Justice Department.

“These cases demonstrate terrorism comes in many forms,” said Justin Herdman, the U.S. attorney for northern Ohio.

One involved Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, a Toledo suburb, who spent months planning a violent attack on behalf of ISIS, and eventually settled on targeting a synagogue in the Toledo area, Herdman said.

Joseph started focusing on killing Jews after a gunman killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, Herdman said. Authorities said he told an undercover agent that “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually.”

He wanted to kill as many people as possible, including a rabbi, and make sure no one escaped, the DOJ said.

Joseph was arrested Friday after he received two AR-15 rifles from an undercover agent and was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS.

There was no telephone listing for Joseph and court records did not indicate whether he has an attorney.

FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said it did not appear Joseph was working with anyone else.

Authorities also arrested Elizabeth Lecron, 23, of Toledo, Monday after they said she bought bomb-making materials. She was charged with transporting explosives and explosive material with the purpose of harming others.

A telephone listing for Lecron could not be located and court records did not indicate whether she has an attorney.

Lecron had been talking about carrying out several different types of violent attacks, including telling undercover agents in August that she and an associate had come up with a plan to commit a mass killing at a Toledo bar, officials said.

She also discussed attacking a livestock farm, her workplace and bombing a pipeline, according to authorities who also said Lecron told agents she was making a pipe bomb.

Happy Holidays Thanks for a great year!

It’s been an exciting year for Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, one centered around our new mission statement: We connect the people of our community through the power of nature, wellness and creativity.

We strive to live our mission every day by providing engaging programs that enrich the lives of our residents. Our newly launched Columbus Recreation and Parks Foundation will support that mission and provide greater access to programming, helping to remove financial barriers for many of our families.

But that is just one of our many accomplishments this year, a few of our highlights include:

  • Launched the Columbus Recreation and Parks Foundation
  • Constructed two of eight new playgrounds committed by the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation
  • Collaborated with partners within Central Ohio Greenways (COG) on a new five year plan for trails to connect neighborhoods
  • Announced and finalized plans for a new Linden Community Center and Park as well as Indian Mound Community Center
  • Began a project to add turf to all fields at Lou Berliner Sports Park
  • Celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Arts Center
  • Provided nearly 500,000 meals to youth in Columbus through the Go Lunch! Program
  • Provided more than 2,800 youth the opportunity to participate in programs by distributing over $78,000 in PLAY grants
  • Opened Dorrian Green, an interactive park dedicated to longtime Columbus City Auditor Hugh Dorrian
  • Welcomed more than 125,000 visitors to our indoor facilities and wedding sites

I want to thank you for your support this past year and for making everything possible. I hope you were able to enjoy a performance, learn a new skill, appreciate the natural beauty of our parks or get active in one of our centers. If not, I invite you to explore all Columbus Recreation and Parks has to offer in 2019.

Happy Holidays!

Tony Collins, Director

Columbus Recreation and Parks

Man accused of plotting large-scale attack at Ohio synagogue

By JOHN SEEWER

Associated Press

Monday, December 10

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Federal authorities said Monday they have charged two people involved in planning separate large-scale attacks — one who wanted to carry out a shooting at a synagogue and another who had been plotting to attack a bar and blow up a pipeline.

The attacks were never carried out, and there was never an immediate threat to the public, the FBI and Department of Justice said in a news conference announcing the charges.

Both suspects who are from the Toledo area had identified specific places they wanted to target, authorities said.

The two have been under investigation for months and had talked about their plans with undercover FBI agents, according to the Justice Department.

“These cases demonstrate terrorism comes in many forms,” said Justin Herdman, the U.S. attorney for northern Ohio.

One involved Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, a Toledo suburb, who spent months posting photos of weapons, praising the Islamic State group and talking about carrying out a violent attack before he eventually settled on targeting a synagogue in the Toledo area, Herdman said.

His plans for a synagogue shooting came together after a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, Herdman said. Authorities said he told an undercover agent: “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually.”

He wanted to kill as many people as possible, including a rabbi, and make sure no one escaped, the Justice Department said.

Joseph said his decision about which synagogue to attack would come down to “which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home,” according to court documents.

Joseph was arrested Friday after he received two AR-15 rifles from an undercover agent and was charged with attempting to provide material support to IS.

He appeared in court Monday and waived a preliminary hearing, The Blade reported. There was no telephone listing for Joseph and a message seeking comment was left with his attorney.

FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said it did not appear Joseph was working with anyone else.

Within months, Joseph became radicalized and began planning an attack, Fortunato said.

Court records show that Joseph was charged with domestic violence nearly two years ago and later entered an Alford plea, which acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict without admitting guilt.

Authorities also arrested Elizabeth Lecron, 23, of Toledo, on Monday after they said she bought bomb-making materials. She was charged with transporting explosives and explosive material with the purpose of harming others.

A telephone listing for Lecron could not be located and court records did not indicate whether she has an attorney.

Lecron had been talking about carrying out several different types of violent attacks, including telling undercover agents in August that she and someone else had come up with a plan to commit a mass killing at a Toledo bar, officials said.

She also discussed attacking a livestock farm, her workplace and bombing a pipeline, according to authorities, who also said Lecron told agents she was making a pipe bomb.

Nieporte to become ONMA executive director in 2019

Monica Nieporte with captionMonica Nieporte, the president and publisher of the APG Ohio media group in Athens, will become the next president and executive director of the Ohio News Media Association in 2019.

The announcement was made by Ron Waite, publisher of the Sandusky Register and chair of the ONMA search committee that was tasked to find a replacement for Executive Director Dennis Hetzel. Nieporte and Hetzel will work together from mid-January until April when Hetzel will depart.

“I’m honored to be selected by the search committee and board of trustees to follow in Dennis’ footsteps,” Nieporte said. “Dennis has been a great leader of the association, and I look forward to working and learning from him as he transitions to retirement.

“I’m excited to start working on behalf our members at ONMA,” she added. “This position allows me to utilize all of the skills I’ve learned as an editor, ad director and leader to be a strong advocate for the industry that has been my passion for my entire professional career. “

Nieporte is a Canton native and graduate of the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She has held her position since 2014 when the parent company purchased ACM’s media properties in Ohio. She had been a regional vice president of ACM since 2008 and with previous positions as a publisher in Logan, editor and reporter in Athens and as city editor at the Zanesville Times Recorder.

She has resigned from her role as a trustee and president of the ONMA Board of Trustees, where she recused herself from the search process.

“The search committee was pleased to have had so many quality candidates apply for the ONMA’s top position,” Waite said. “Monica stood out for her industry leadership and experience, along with her many years of serving ONMA in various capacities. Her knowledge of our organization and passion for our industry should provide a successful transition of leadership for ONMA in 2019 and many years to come.

As a result of Nieporte’s resignation from the board, the ONMA Board of Trustees voted to move its other officers up the leadership ladder. Waite moves from board vice president to president. Lori Figurski of Ogden Newspapers in Martins Ferry moves from treasurer to vice president, where she also will serve as president of the Ohio News Media Foundation. Bruce Winges of the Akron Beacon Journal was named treasurer.

Hetzel announced earlier this year that he and his wife will move to their home in North Carolina, where he plans to stay active in the media industry and government relations work. He joined the ONMA in 2010 from Enquirer Media in Cincinnati following a career as a reporter, editor, general manager and publisher at newspapers in several states. Hetzel also has taught journalism at Temple and Penn State universities and published two political thriller novels.

“It has been the highlight of my career to work on behalf of an industry that reports important news that’s anything but fake,” Hetzel said. “Monica will be a great leader to build on the legislative results we’ve achieved to keep government open and accountable, not only for journalists but all Ohio citizens.”

Founded in 1933, the ONMA is the trade association representing more than 300 Ohio newspapers and local news websites. It also is the parent organization to the Ohio News Media Foundation, the Ohio Coalition for Open Government and AdOhio, an agency specializing in print and digital media placement.

FILE – In this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, left, and Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine wave to the crowd before a debate at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. A third party contending it was unfairly excluded from a fledgling debate series in Ohio’s 2018 governor’s race is about to air its claims before state election regulators. The Ohio Elections Commission is hearing the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s case Thursday, Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, Pool, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/12/web1_121917918-7d96d303b35047f9b7d3031c0999ace6.jpgFILE – In this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, left, and Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine wave to the crowd before a debate at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. A third party contending it was unfairly excluded from a fledgling debate series in Ohio’s 2018 governor’s race is about to air its claims before state election regulators. The Ohio Elections Commission is hearing the Libertarian Party of Ohio’s case Thursday, Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, Pool, File)

Former Ohio Gov. candidate Constance Gadell-Newton, of the Green Party, addresses members of the Ohio Election Commission on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/12/web1_121917918-281757e5a5554bf1b51da37e124d9a46.jpgFormer Ohio Gov. candidate Constance Gadell-Newton, of the Green Party, addresses members of the Ohio Election Commission on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)

Staff & Wire Reports