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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 77,735

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Behind Enemy Lines at ALEC's Right-Wing Policy Conference

Activists say the American Legislative Exchange Council backs corporate interests over people

The 15-foot-tall fat cat clutches his money bag in one paw and the working man's throat in the other. (Photo by John Anderson)

"Hey hey, ho ho, corporate lobbyists have got to go!" chanted around 100 labor, immigrant, environmental, disability, and social justice advocates outside the JW Marriott Hotel Downtown on Wed., Aug. 14. "Hey, ALEC, you can't hide, we can see your greedy side!" they later continued. The protesters stood alongside a 15-foot, cigar­-chomping, inflatable cat wearing a pinstriped suit – with one paw he held a construction worker by the throat; with the other, he grasped a bag of cash. The "unwelcome reception," organized by Progress Texas and joined by a coalition of advocacy groups, rallied against what was gathering inside the high-end hotel: the 46th annual American Legislative Exchange Council conference.

Better known as ALEC, the group markets itself as "America's largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism." Gaining public notoriety in the past decade, the group has been around since 1973. According to investigations into the shadowy organization, ALEC is a corporate-backed group with ties to the right-wing Koch Brothers network that drafts "model policy" for member legislators to use as their own at their statehouses.

While keeping members' identities secret, ALEC claims "one-quarter of the country's state legislators" participate in its efforts. The "corporate bill mill," as described by watchdog groups, is behind controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun laws and measures that limit workers' rights and health care access. With Reaganomics icon Arthur Laffer as a celebrated ALEC scholar, the group supports corporate tax breaks, the privatization of public services (from education to prisons), and voter suppression policies.

Activists laid out the charges against ALEC at the Downtown protest. "Hijacking the legislative process to serve corporate interests and right-wing billionaires is not welcome in Texas," said Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay. "ALEC has promoted far-right agendas on the environment, health care, disability rights, voting rights, immigration, and on other issues that we address every day in a quest to build a better Texas. They are a secretive, partisan shadow group. And this week, ALEC is in Austin working behind closed doors to hatch more bad bills."

Read more: https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2019-08-30/behind-enemy-lines-at-alecs-right-wing-policy-conference/
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 04:21 AM (4 replies)

Former Highland Heights mayor admits to stealing $160,000 from Ohio Rep. Dave Joyce's campaign

CHARDON, Ohio — Former Highland Heights Mayor Scott Coleman admitted in court Thursday that he embezzled $160,000 from U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce’s (R) campaign when he worked as the Northeast Ohio congressman’s campaign treasurer.

Coleman, 58, pleaded guilty to a grand theft charge, a fourth-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to 1 1/2 years in prison. Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said the former eastern suburban mayor stole the money from the Bainbridge Township Republican’s re-election operation over a three-year period.

The disgraced campaign official’s wife and four adult children looked on Coleman listened and answered a series of questions posed by Common Pleas Judge David Ondrey during the hearing.

Prior to his plea, Coleman gave Flaiz a check made out to Joyce’s campaign for $341,983.06 for the amount he stole as well as the cost Joyce’s campaign bore in investigative fees and actions it took to correct campaign filings.

Read more: https://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/2019/08/former-highland-heights-mayor-admits-to-stealing-150000-from-ohio-rep-dave-joyces-campaign.html
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 04:13 AM (0 replies)

Ohio $15 minimum wage movement continues as employers adopt pay increases, supporters plan ballot is

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The push for a $15 minimum wage emerged here more than five years ago, often with protests outside fast-food restaurants, where hundreds of demonstrators demanded higher wages for workers.

Many thought it a fledgling campaign that would soon fizzle. But what started on the fringes has influenced the mainstream.

On this Labor Day, we look at the current status of the local $15 minimum wage movement, some of the opposition it still faces, as well as how the movement’s message may have played a role in getting some employers to increase their minimum wage.

These include employers the movement didn’t target. Fifth Third Bancorp will raise its minimum wage to $18 on Oct. 28, after going from $12 to $15 in January 2018. Ohio’s minimum wage, currently $8.55, rises annually if the federal inflation rate goes up.

Read more: https://www.cleveland.com/business/2019/09/ohio-15-minimum-wage-movement-continues-as-employers-adopt-pay-increases-supporters-plan-ballot-issue.html
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 04:03 AM (1 replies)

'Unfathomable': How 1.6 million pills from a small-town doctor helped fuel the opioid crisis in Ohio

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Margaret Temponeras started her medical career in a small town as a family doctor. She ended it a felon, a rogue physician who authorities say fanned Ohio’s opioid epidemic with a prescription pad.

From 2006 through 2012, Temponeras ordered more than 1.6 million pills of hydrocodone and oxycodone from her offices in the tiny town of Wheelersburg, along the banks of the Ohio River.

That was more than any other medical practitioner in the state and more than some pharmacies. The drug distributor that supplied her kept shipping pills, despite her ever-increasing orders.

Eight of her patients died in her care, federal records allege. One was Ira Marsh, a 38-year-old laborer, who saw her over a three-year period during which she treated him for a back issue. Then, on Oct. 28, 2009, Temponeras prescribed him the opioid oxycodone, the muscle relaxer carisoprodol and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, according to federal court filings.

Read more: https://www.cleveland.com/news/2019/09/unfathomable-how-16-million-pills-from-a-small-town-doctor-helped-fuel-the-opioid-crisis-in-ohio.html
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 03:34 AM (5 replies)

Ohio lawmakers seek to extend driver's license amnesty program

More than 74,000 Ohioans were approved for the pilot program, which waived or reduced reinstatement fees for those on government assistance who had their driver’s licenses suspended.

Thousands more Ohio drivers could have their driver’s licenses reinstated and get back on the road thanks to a new bill looking to extend the Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative.

The six-month program, which ran from January to July as a result of a law passed last year, reduced or waived license reinstatement fees for drivers who have been suspended for certain violations.

Of the approximately 410,000 Ohioan eligible for the program in January, more than 74,000 Ohioans were approved for the pilot, said Lindsey Bohrer, an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman.

Read more: https://www.dispatch.com/news/20190831/ohio-lawmakers-seek-to-extend-drivers-license-amnesty-program
(Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 03:24 AM (0 replies)

Ohio to host Democrats' presidential debate in October

Ohio will host the October Democratic presidential debate, the Ohio Democratic Party announced Saturday.

The debate is scheduled for Oct. 15 and, if necessary, Oct. 16. Officials aren’t yet naming the city where the event will take place.

State party chairman David Pepper believes the Buckeye State’s 18 Electoral College votes are up for grabs in 2020.

“As is happening across the nation, Democrats are energized, formerly Republican suburbs are trending blue and voters across the state are waking up to Donald Trump’s many broken promises,” he said in a news release.

Read more: https://www.dispatch.com/news/20190831/ohio-to-host-democrats-presidential-debate-in-october
(Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 03:08 AM (0 replies)

New website provides Ohioans with free legal information, court forms

A much-anticipated website launched last week to provide Ohioans with free, easy-to-use legal information, court forms and referrals.

Advocates say that Ohio Legal Help — online at ohiolegalhelp.org — is meant to serve as a front door to the civil justice system so that people can understand their options, make informed decisions and connect with appropriate resources.

Creation of the website fulfills a 2015 recommendation by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice that called for the development of a statewide, online resource to aid the growing number of Ohioans who say that cost and confusion keep them from accessing the legal system.

“We had a ton of stakeholders as we built this, and we also did a consumer survey,” said Susan Choe, executive director of Ohio Legal Help. “Everybody said, ‘Make it simple, and make it fit in the palm of my hand.’”

Read more: https://www.dispatch.com/news/20190902/new-website-provides-ohioans-with-free-legal-information-court-forms
(Columbus Dispatch)
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 02:57 AM (0 replies)

Full Speech by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio From Yesterday's Indictment of a

Full Speech by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio From Yesterday's Indictment of a White Nationalist

The Feds yesterday indicted an Ohio man named James Reardon, a self-described white nationalist who posted various anti-Semitic messages on the internet, for making threats against a Jewish community center.

In a press conference, Justin Herdman, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, issued a direct rebuke to those with similar beliefs in a speech that is wholly deserving of your time.

The full prepared remarks are below.

Good morning. Thank you for coming today and thank you to all of the local police chiefs who are here. Special thanks to Chief D’Egidio who drove here from New Middletown.

We are here to announce the unsealing of a federal complaint against James Reardon, age 20, of New Middletown, Ohio. He is charged with one count of making threats using a facility of interstate commerce.

Federal rules give us a few weeks before seeking an indictment in the Grand Jury and we will continue to use that time to further our investigation of Mr. Reardon’s conduct and to determine if others were involved. In just a moment, Special Agent Eric Smith of the FBI will detail the facts uncovered in our investigation thus far.

I want to start by thanking the community. This case is the result of a concerned citizen who took the time to point out Mr. Reardon’s social media activity to a New Middletown Police Officer. This case is just one of several over the past few weeks that are the product of our friends and neighbors seeing something, and then saying something.

For example, a few weeks ago, Timothy Ireland was indicted on firearms and threat charges after a private citizen alerted law enforcement. And at the beginning of this month, Vincent Armstrong pleaded guilty to charges related to a planning an attack on a bar in Toledo. That case started with a tip from a concerned citizen to Toledo police. There are several more examples and they illustrate the fact that these type of cases rely on very two important people – a concerned citizen and a responsive law enforcement officer. Fortunately, we have both of those in abundance in northern Ohio.

I want to thank the men and women who make up our police departments, and some of their leadership are here today. As I said, tips only matter if police officers take them seriously and investigate them thoroughly. The presence of our local law enforcement highlights the message that police officers are trained to be responsive to information from the public, and the officers assigned to these departments – and many others – will do just that when confronted with credible and specific threats. I also want to thank the FBI and ATF agents who joined with the police in each of these cases and bring outstanding expertise to these investigations.

Now let me speak generally to those who are advocates for white supremacy, or white nationalism. I am talking directly to you. The Constitution protects your right to speak, your right to think, and your right to believe. If you want to waste the blessings of liberty by going down a path of hatred and failed ideologies, that is your choice.

Democracy allows you to test those ideas in the public forum. If you want to submit your beliefs to the American people and get their reaction, please be my guest. Keep this in mind, though. Thousands and thousands of young Americans already voted with their lives to ensure that this same message of intolerance, death, and destruction would not prevail - you can count their ballots by visiting any American cemetery in North Africa, Italy, France, or Belgium and tallying the white headstones. You can also recite the many names of civil rights advocates who bled and died in opposing supporters of those same ideologies of hatred. Their voices may be distant, but they can still be heard.

Go ahead and make your case for Nazism, a white nation, and racial superiority. The Constitution may give you a voice, but it doesn’t guarantee you a receptive audience.

Your right to free speech does not automatically mean that people will agree with you. In fact, you have an absolute God-given and inalienable right to be on the losing end of this argument.

What you don’t have, though, is the right to take out your frustration at failure in the political arena by resorting to violence. You don’t have any right to threaten the lives and well-being of our neighbors. They have an absolute God-given and inalienable right to live peacefully, to worship as they please, to be free from fear that they might become a target simply because of the color of their skin, the country of their birth, or the form of their prayer.

Threatening to kill Jewish people, gunning down innocent Latinos on a weekend shopping trip, planning and plotting to perpetrate murders in the name of a nonsense racial theory, sitting to pray with God-fearing people who you execute moments later - those actions don’t make you soldiers, they make you criminals. Law enforcement doesn’t go to war with cowards who break the law, we arrest them and send them to prison.

As I said, this case was made by a concerned member of the public and a responsive police officer. That’s all it takes to stop you. The men and women of our community are allied with law enforcement. And every single member of law enforcement took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Many of us have taken that oath several times - as police officers, federal agents, prosecutors, military members, and elected officials.

Together, we represent the absolute best of what America has to offer. Our skin is every color you can imagine, our families come from a hundred different countries and a hundred different faiths. What makes us different doesn’t split us apart, though. Those differences are insignificant compared to what is the same about us - we are united in our commitment to each other, to our families, and to our communities. We are the living embodiment of everything you say is impossible.

Together, we are united to ensure that you commit no further acts of violence in the name of your beliefs. When you wake up tomorrow morning, no matter what time, I want you to remember something. You can’t set your alarm clock early enough to beat us out of bed. The men and women of law enforcement don’t wake up. We never went to sleep. We are always awake. And arm in arm with the public, when your hatred leads you to break the law, we will do everything we can to be there to stop you.

Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 02:47 AM (1 replies)

Governor, lawmakers set to debate law changes in wake of mass shooting

COLUMBUS — The night after the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District, Daytonians shouted “Do Something” to Gov. Mike DeWine and a few days later he answered the call rolling out a 17-point plan for changing gun laws and bolstering access to mental health services.

That was the easy part.

Now the governor must now convince pro-Second Amendment conservatives who control the Ohio General Assembly to support his plan, which includes expanding access to state psychiatric hospital beds, operating a school safety tip line (844-723-7764) and increasing penalties for gun crimes.

“I have an obligation to do this. This is something I want to do. We’re focused on this. It’s the right thing to do. These are all things that I believe we can do,” DeWine said. “Look, you run for governor because you want to be able to make things happen, change things.”

The hardest sell will be getting legislative leaders to say yes to universal background checks and a ‘Red Flag Law,’ which allows police or family members to seek a court order to remove firearms from those who appear to be a danger to themselves or others. ‘Red Flag’ is such a toxic term among pro-gun groups that the DeWine team insists on calling a ‘Safety Protection Order.’

Read more: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/governor-lawmakers-set-debate-law-changes-wake-mass-shooting/zwgey1RHiof4dRGukLsnfK/
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 02:11 AM (1 replies)

Investigators look at role Positive Train Control played in Carey derailment

CAREY, Ohio — It was the sort of railroad collision that Positive Train Control was intended to prevent.

At a switch where two tracks on CSX Transportation’s line between Toledo, Fostoria, and Columbus converge into one, a train hauling demolition debris and other waste north toward a Fostoria-area landfill ran into the cars of a southbound train laden with sand for use in oil or gas drilling.

The Aug. 12 crash in a field north of Carey caused no serious injuries, and no hazardous materials were involved other than diesel fuel in a wrecked locomotive.

But it’s getting extra scrutiny from investigators because of how it appears to have happened: the debris train ran past a signal where it was supposed to have stopped and waited for the sand train to pass. And that despite the presence of Positive Train Control, which is supposed to prevent just that sort of crash, along with others involving excessive train speed, trains accidentally entering work zones, and misaligned track switches.

Read more: https://www.toledoblade.com/local/transportation/2019/08/28/Investigators-look-at-role-Positive-Train-Control-played-in-Carey-de/stories/20190828161
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2019, 01:48 AM (1 replies)
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