State Reps. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today announced they will introduce new whistleblower reforms for employees who come forward to report wrongdoing and corruption to authorities. The announcement follows explosive, far-reaching corruption cases that have rocked state government over the past year.
“When someone blows the whistle on corruption in state government, it’s our duty to listen, hold officials accountable and ensure the little guy is protected,” said Cera. “In some ways, we’ve become numb to the scandals and cover-ups because those who try to do the right thing are too often silenced—and that needs to change.”
Current Ohio law recognizes public and private sector employees who blow the whistle on potentially corrupt activities, but it provides them few protections from retribution, retaliation and loss of earnings and compensation for doing the right thing.
“This past year has seen one scandal after another, with high-ranking state officials looking the other way while taxpayer dollars were wasted and used to line the pockets of ECOT mastermind Bill Lager. They must be held accountable to Ohio taxpayers,” said Clyde. “By protecting those who report wrongdoing, we can begin to take on the culture of corruption that has plagued state government for too long. It’s time for a change.”
After the Ohio Supreme Court today ruled the online charter school ECOT violated state law by fraudulently boosting student attendance records to cheat taxpayers of some $80 million, state Rep. Teresa Fedor says the next step is holding the operators and founder criminally accountable.
“Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to fully understanding the extent of this tangled web of political payoffs and taxpayer fraud,” said Fedor. “Elected officials at the highest level of power turned a blind eye to this criminal empire while they took huge sums of campaign cash. Obviously, federal authorities now have an even more important role in independently determining the scope of corruption and malfeasance – not only within the school, but within state government.”
Three years after it was exposed that Gov. John Kasich’s handpicked charter-czar David Hansen, husband of Kasich’s chief of staff, was illegally changing charter school grades to allow failing charter schools like ECOT to draw down on more taxpayer funding, little has happened at the Republican-controlled Statehouse to crack down, once and for all, on Ohio’s largely unregulated charter school industry.
“There is no doubt that the corrupt charter school system in Ohio was designed, not to help our children prepare for their future, but to help pad Republican campaign coffers,” Fedor added. “Today’s ruling reiterates what Bill Lager allegedly said, this whole scheme ‘isn’t about the children.’”
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today issued a statement commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and putting out information on frequently asked voting questions in advance of tomorrow’s August 7 special congressional election in central Ohio.
Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece will lead a discussion on race, representation and important policy issues, like the threat of so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws and anti-voting legislation, at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Columbus TODAY at 2:30 p.m. in the Greater Columbus Convention Center Room C171.
Reece, the moderator of the Young, Black and Elected – New Era of Leadership panel, will be joined by Black leaders from across the nation, including DeSoto, Texas Councilwoman Canidce Quarles, and Louisiana state Rep. Katrina Jackson.
“When the Black community sees progress, we all, as Americans, share in that progress and the new opportunity that comes from it,” said Reece. “But we can’t make progress in this country when fundamentally flawed laws like so-called Stand Your Ground and anti-voter restrictions sow fear and justified racial violence in our communities. With these emerging threats to the basic security and safety of communities throughout our nation, the only path to a brighter future begins with action.”
So-called “Stand Your Ground” legislation is being considered by the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives, and could be up for a vote as soon as Sept. 19 during one of the House’s “if-needed” sessions.
In response to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office*, state Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) today called on AG DeWine to re-do the investigation into sexual harassment at the Statehouse in light of new information tainting the original investigation of state Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati).
“The conflict of interests here is glaring,” the lawmakers wrote in a response letter to AG DeWine. “This latest conflict to surface shows that the investigation that exonerated Seitz is even more tainted than we first believed.”
A copy of the lawmakers’ letter is attached.
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today issued a statement following a recent federal court order requiring Secretary Husted to issue a directive reinstating the “APRI exception.” The court-ordered directive will require purged voters’ ballots to be counted in the upcoming central Ohio congressional race that will occur next Tuesday, August 7.
State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today announced Ohio’s back-to-school sales tax-free holiday scheduled for this weekend, August 3-5, as a result of the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 226. The annual event helps lessen the sting of the 4.5 percent statewide sales tax hike passed by Republican lawmakers in the 2013 state budget. The hike has cost taxpayers almost $2 billion more since then, according to state revenue numbers.
“With so many Ohio families struggling to make ends meet already, the tax free holiday alleviates a bit of the financial burden that comes with back to school shopping,” said Galonski. “To be successful during the school year students and their families not only need to purchase class specific items, but also replace everyday use items. While a family may save a relatively small amount this weekend, those dollars add up so a student can have lunch money or be able to replace something later in the school year. Every little bit helps.”
House Democrats today announced Ohio’s back-to-school sales tax-free holiday scheduled for this weekend, August 3-5, as a result of the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 226. The annual event helps lessen the sting of the 4.5 percent statewide sales tax hike passed by Republican lawmakers in the 2013 state budget. The hike has cost taxpayers almost $2 billion more since then, according to state revenue numbers.
State Rep. Michael Ashford (D-Toledo), a joint sponsor of House Bill 123, today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Kasich’s signing of the bill to crack down on predatory short-term lenders in Ohio:
As summer heats up and families flock to fairs and festivals, including the Ohio State Fair which opened this week, beefed up safety standards for amusement rides sit dormant in the Ohio House.
After last year’s Fireball amusement ride failure at the Ohio State Fair tragically claimed the life of Tyler Jarrell and sent seven others to the hospital with serious injuries, state Rep. John Patterson’s (D-Jefferson) attention turned to ensuring such a tragedy never takes place in Ohio again.