Tag Archive: Ohio

Jan 22 2017

Sunday Train: An Ohio Universities Rail System, Part 1 (Southern & Central Ohio)

Well, the 2016 High Speed Rail unlock has been postponed to 2018 or 2020. When transportation policy at the Federal level is grabbed with both hands by the Oil and Gas death lobby, we have to turn to the state level. Now, in Ohio, it might not look like that offers a prospect any better …

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May 24 2016

Good News For Ohio Voters, For Now

This morning, a court in Ohio restored early voting days The U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio ruled Tuesday that the deep cuts to Ohio’s early voting days signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R) are “unconstitutional and…accordingly unenforceable.” Judge Michael Watson sided with the Ohio Democratic Party, which had sued the state for …

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Mar 31 2014

Voter suppression efforts by Republicans still ongoing

It’s happening so often it’s like we’re getting used to it. A voter ID law here, reduced voting hours there. Ho-hum, “nothing to see here” says Mainstream Cable News.

A New York Times article highlights ongoing efforts by swing states with GOP-controlled legislatures to make it more difficult for people to vote.

In my state, Ohio, one of the biggest changes will be in early voting. For 2014, people will no longer be allowed to vote the Sunday before election day. This may sound like small change, but it’s a big deal. Some churches have done “souls to the polls” efforts to transport their members to the polls, and they do it on the Sunday before election day. The Sunday vote is important to low-wage workers forced to work 6-day weeks to make ends meet. Sunday may be the only day they have to vote. In 2012, I voted the Sunday before Election Day, and waited 2 and a half hours for the privilege.

Republicans, of course, know this. “They know when they are taking away early voting exactly who it’s affecting,”, says Democratic candidate for Governor, Ed Fitzgerald. It affects black voters, low-income voters, urban voters, groups that trend Democratic.

Recently, a group of officials in the Cincinnati area took part in a 90-minute bus ride and walk to a proposed early voting site as a protest over how long the trip took from one inner-city neighborhood.

Another dirty trick is to require documents that are harder to obtain.

Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport,

Low income voters are more likely to lack the time and money to obatin these documents. But that’s the point isn’t it?

Of course, in a classic mainstream media fair-and-balanced moment, the NYT article infers that by fighting against voter suppression, Democrats are somehow the badguys too.

Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, said Democrats had their own partisan agendas for doing so since an expanded electorate would benefit mostly Democrats.

“It’s not just out of the goodness of their own hearts they are doing this,” he said….

…”The case has not been made that these things so far have had a huge effect on turnout,”

But it has had an effect. Anecdotally, I didn’t wait in line at all in 2000 and 2004, but in 2012 I waited 2 and a half hours. My wife was forced to vote provisionally because her name was purged from the voter rolls, something mainstream media and blogs say isn’t happening. But it is. I used to just be able to show up, state my name, and exercise my right to vote. Now I need an ID and to make sure beforehand my name is still registered.

Even if mainstream polls and studies say there’s no decrease in turnout, voting is more difficult than it once was. Fact. It’s simple logic that if something is more difficult, people are less likely to do it. Waits are longer. There’s more hoops to jump through.

OK, so fighting against voter suppression does help Democrats, but it is also the right thing to do. For all their talk about being “pro-American” or whatever, Republicans have made it a priority to make it more difficult for Americans to vote. Their assault on voting rights is an assault on one of the most American of values: that everyone gets to vote, everyone has a say.

Voter suppression has been talked about before, but it’s not “old news”. It’s happening now. Republicans are getting away with it. It’s a dirty trick. By not talking about voter suppression, or even discouraging talk about voter suppression, we are enabling it. Not  only does it hurt Democrats’ chances in November, it’s fundamentally wrong.

Some of us in Ohio get annoyed at the Election Day circus that envelops us every four years. It seems like national politicians only care about us every four years, then return to Washington forgetting the people who helped them get there. We’re not stupid. We know it’s getting harder to vote, and if Democrats halfheartedly oppose voter suppression or wait until 2016 to care about it, we will remember. There needs to be a sustained, long-term pushback against the Republican agenda to Block the Vote.

Sep 02 2013

Sunday Train: The Proposed Chicago – Fort Wayne – Columbus Rapid Rail Service

cross-posted from Voices on the Square

The Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association, on 28 June 2013, announced the results of their study of a Northern Indiana / Ohio rail corridor to Chicago:

The proposed system would operate twelve trains each way per day, including at least six express schedules.  With modern diesel equipment running at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour to start, the three-hundred mile trip between downtown Chicago and downtown Columbus would normally require only three hours, forty-five minutes (express service), or four hours (local service).  Track and safety  improvements in a potential future phase would support speeds up to 130 mph and a downtown Chicago to downtown Columbus express time of three hours, twenty minutes.

Longer time readers of the Sunday Train may recognize this as a piece of the Ohio Hub project, first developed in the 1990’s. At the time that the Ohio Hub was originally developed, the Fort Wayne to Chicago link was slated to be the second connection from Ohio to Chicago, with the envisioned phasing being:

  • Phase 1: Chicago to Detroit; and Cincinnati – Columbus – Cleveland ~ the Triple C backbone of the Ohio Hub
  • Phase 2: Cleveland to Toledo, Toledo to Detroit, completing Cleveland to Chicago via Michigan
  • Phase 3: Fort Wayne to Chicago; Toledo to Fort Wayne; Columbus to Fort Wayne; Cincinnati – Indianapolis – Gary – Chicago, completing Dayton/Cincinnati to Chicago via Indianapolis and Columbus/Cleveland to Chicago via Fort Wayne
  • Phase 4: Cleveland to Pittsburgh via Youngstown, connecting with services to Philadelphia / New York on the Keystone Corridor
  • Phase 5: Columbus to Pittsburgh, connecting with services to Philadelphia / New York on the Keystone Corridor
  • Phase 6: Cleveland to Toronto via Buffalo and Niagara Falls, connecting with services to New York and Boston on the Empire Corridor

So what the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association is doing is pulling out a section of the Phase Three of the Ohio Hub and proposing it as a free-standing project. This free-standing project would bring intercity rail service back to Columbus, the largest or second largest urban area lacking rail service (depending on how you count Phoenix), and to Fort Wayne, the largest urban area in Indiana without intercity passenger rail service.

Oct 16 2012

Ohio Voters Win

The Obama/ Biden campaign sued the state of Ohio  over changes in Ohio law that took away the three days of voting for most people, but made exceptions for military personnel and Ohioans living overseas. The 9th Circuit Cout of Appeals ruled that Ohio must make early voting available (pdf) to all Ohio voters and Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court weighed in this afternoon declining to block early voting.

The Supreme Court is siding with Democrats in refusing to block early voting in the battleground state of Ohio.

The court on Tuesday refused a Republican request to get involved in a dispute over early voting in the state on the three days before Election Day.

This is not just a win for Democrats, it is a victory for democracy.

Oct 10 2012

Supressing the Vote: Ohio

As in the past, Ohio is a key state in the electoral politics of the 2012 general election and the Republican Party is doing their level best to suppress voter turnout. On Friday, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Ohio must make early voting (pdf) during the three days before the election available to all voters if it’s available to military members and voters who live overseas. The ruling upheld a lower court decision. On Tuesday Ohio Secretary of State John Husted announced that he would appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court:

This is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal courts into how states run elections and because of its impact on all 50 states as to who and how elections will be run in America we are asking the Supreme Court to step in and allow Ohioans to run Ohio elections.

This ruling not only doesn’t make legal sense, it doesn’t make practical sense. The court is saying that all voters must be treated the same way under Ohio law, but also grants Ohio’s 88 elections boards the authority to establish 88 different sets of rules. That means that one county may close down voting for the final weekend while a neighboring county may remain open. How any court could consider this a remedy to an equal protection problem is stunning.

At FDL News Desk, David Dayen doesn’t think this will fly with the Supreme Court:

Remember that Husted’s original ruling for early voting would have allowed Republican districts to keep their voting hours open longer and for more days. And he sought to keep options for military voters open while closing them for, say, minorities in Cleveland. So his appeal to equal protection, in light of his previous decisions, is comical.

I doubt that the Supreme Court would choose to intervene here, though of course you never know. But that won’t stop Husted’s well-earned gold star as the hardest-working voter suppressor in America.

Who knows what this Supreme Court will do but here’s hoping that they let the lower court decision stand.

May 14 2012

Sunday Train: Faster Trains Yields More Services Per Day

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Back in the 29 Nov 2009 Sunday Train, Frequency and Waiting on a Train, I reacted to a point made in John McCommon’s book, Waiting on a Train:

“Once those intermodal trains can go through Stampede Pass, it will take some traffic off the main line and free up more room for additional passenger trains,” said Uznanski.

By bringing the number of trains up to eight a day between Vancouver and Portland, ridership and ticket revenue will increase significantly. Currently ticket sales – what is known as farebox – cover 43% of the Amtrak Cascades’ operating expenses; the state subsidizes the remainder. Run eight trains daily, however, the farebox recovery goes up to 70%.

It’s all about frequency. When trains are frequency and convenient, ridership – particularly business travel – grows dramatically, said Uznanski.

It was a mantra I was to hear from experts all across the country – frequency builds ridership and only frequency significantly builds farebox recovery. Sure its great to have trains running more than 100mph in a corridor, but if there are only a couple of trains a day, they just aren’t convenient enough to move people off the highway or away from the airport.

– John McCommons, Waiting on a Train, Chelsea Green Publishing: Vermont, p. 51

This came back to mind when I was thinking last week about the “Cornhusker Rocket” proposal to reintroduce regular corridor service between Omaha and Chicago via Des Moines, Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Often times, a substantial benefit in getting train speeds up is that ability to operate more services per day with the same number of trains.

Nov 13 2011

Missing the Point of Ohio’s Referendum

In a comment posted in response to the Open Salon version of my previous entry, Barzin Pakandam posted the following:

Hi Michael, I completely agree with your assessment. My post goes one step further:

http://open.salon.com/blog/bar…

Mr. Pakandam, with all due respect, I think you glossed over what I wrote about Obama.  Yes, voters are fed up with far right, anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-civil-liberties, pro-war, anti-environment, pro-torture, pro-corporate Republican policies.  But they’re also fed up with far right, anti-labor, anti-woman, anti-civil-liberties, pro-war, anti-environment, pro-torture, pro-corporate Democrat policies.

On the issue of health care, for example, Obama cynically bet that by ramming through what amounts to a corporate boondoggle, he could remove health care as a wedge issue going into 2012.  And the best way he could do that was to pass something the Republicans had already passed at the state level.

Enter Romneycare, on which Obamacare was modeled and which bears many similarities to the Clinton plan Obama campaigned against in ’08.  (And they all appear to have swiped the idea from Richard Nixon.  Go figure.)

The thinking on this was painfully simple, and horrendously evil.  There’s an institutional crisis in how Americans are able to gain access to decent health care.  So Obama’s, Clinton’s, and Romney’s plan was to institutionalize the problem.  If it’s a built-in part of the system, no more crisis in the system because it’s now a feature instead of a supposed aberration.  Now we’re being forced to bail out the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries because they went too far in price gouging and were losing paying customers.

And, of course, Obamacare, as is Romneycare before it, is deliberately designed to fail.  As Jon Walker and Scarecrow at FDL reported last year, the Massachusetts plan failed spectacularly the same week Obamacare became law.  The state objected to proposed premium increases, which prompted insurers to back out of agreements to offer new coverage.

Why pass such a flawed plan if it’s very design guarantees failure?  As I wrote above, there’s a cynical political ploy at the heart of the matter.  But it runs much deeper than that.  By passing a health care law at the national level that’s designed to fail, the far right-wing lackeys of Wall Street (which include Obama in their ranks) can pretend to justify their long-disproven claims that government health care or insurance doesn’t work.  And also as I wrote above, they got to bail out two massive industries that had priced their goods so ridiculouly high that they were starting to worry that they’d not have enough customers.

It’s pretty insidious, but then what can be expected from a guy who, as a state senator in Illinois, and at the behest of his corporate bosses, actively and enthusiastically worked to gut a proposed bill that would have extended health insurance to impoverished children?

By the way, a year after the collapse of Romneycare in Massachusetts, it was still a miserable failure.

And that’s just on health care reform.  Look at each and every one of Obama’s policies and you will find a continuation or expansion of Bush’s far right policies.  He isn’t doing these things out of weakness or some misguided desire to be conciliatory.  He’s doing them because he is a right-wing extremist and his policies are the same as those of the Republicans.  THAT is what voters rejected in Ohio on Tuesday.

Nov 09 2011

Ohio Voters Reject Senate Bill 5, Obamacare; Mississippi Defeats Anti-Abortion Amendment

Ohio voters last night voted overwhelmingly against both Republican and Democrat corporate-favoring policies in a referendum.  Senate Bill 5, passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed into law by Republican governor John Kasich, was shot down by sixty-one percent, too large a margin for the GOP to rig the vote count in its favor.

By a reportedly larger margin than Issue 2, Obamacare, the law passed in spring of 2010 in a huge giveaway to the health insurance industry, was voted down at sixty-six percent of the vote, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  However, the constitutional amendment as written would make it extremely difficult to pass meaningful regulations on insurance companies, and pretty much rules out all hope of single-payer health insurance in the Buckeye State.

In Mississippi, voters shot down the anti-abortion amendment proposed by right-wing extremists.  The bid to declare life as beginning at conception was defeated 58-42%.

The measure would have bestowed legal rights on fertilized eggs and cut off access to abortion by equating it with murder, making no exception for rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger. Medical groups warned it might have criminalized contraception and miscarriages while limiting access to treatments such as in-vitro fertilization.

The voters of Mississippi are smarter than the far right gives them credit for.  Cheers to them!

What, however, does the defeat of Issue 2 and the passage of Issue 3 in Ohio mean?  It is incredibly easy for Democrats and Republicans, and their spinmeisters in the corporate-owned media, to speculate as to what it means, and many are doing just that.  But what it all boils down to is that voters are fed up with far right policies that benefit no one but large business interests.  In Massachusetts, for example, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, Romneycare – the insurance giveaway on which Obamacare was modeled – nearly 400,000 people still find health insurance unaffordable, and those people are predominantly the working poor.  Given this realization, it is no wonder voters would rather opt out.

On a broader scale, Americans are increasingly hostile to far right policies, be they industry bailouts, invasive laws designed to take away women’s reproductive rights, or attempts to restrict voting rights, We the People are starting to fight back against the wave of fascist power grabs.  Only time, though, will tell if it’s not too little, too late.

Cross-posted from Progressive Independence.

Oct 20 2011

Tiger, Tiger: The Year of the Tiger

I wrote this diary a year ago October 22. In light of the tragic event in Ohio that ended the lives of 18 Bengal Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 1 Wolf, I am republishing it.

What digby said:

I cannot understand why anyone should be allowed to keep endangered species in a private zoo. But even assuming that property worshiping Americans won’t stand for such a ban, no one should be able to do this after having been cited over and over again for animal cruelty and abuse. What a horrible story.

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TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

h/t watertiger @ Dependable Renegade

Yaaaay . . . um, Putin?

Leaders to Convene on Tiger Rescue

By John Rudolph Collins

With just 3,200 tigers thought to remain in the wild, time is growing short to save the species. Poaching and habitat destruction continue to imperil the tiger, which has undergone an estimated 40 percent drop in its wild population over the last decade and is now perched on the brink of extinction throughout much of its range.

Next month, however, officials from the remaining countries with wild tigers will gather in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a major conference on how to reverse the decline of the species. A draft declaration for the summit sets a goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022, and conservationists and biologists have high hopes for the gathering.

The summit conference “promises to be the most significant meeting ever held to discuss the fate of a single non-human species,” a group of tiger experts declared in September, in the preface of a major new report charting the tiger’s perilous condition.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has already agreed to attend the event and has been a critical force behind its development. His presence is expected to draw numerous heads of state and high-level delegations from the 13 “tiger range” nations.

Look at the size of these paws

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Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink-The Six Percent Solution

The Tiger Summit, to be hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Russia in November 2010-the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the International Year of Biodiversity-promises to be the most significant meeting ever held to discuss the fate of a single non-human species. The Summit will culminate efforts by the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), launched in 2008 by Robert Zoellick, World Bank President. Leaders of 13 tiger range states, supported by international donors and conservationists attending the summit, are being asked to commit to substantive measures to prevent the unthinkable: extinction of the world’s last wild tiger populations.

Wild tiger numbers are at an historic low. There is no evidence of breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and DPR Korea. Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the last two decades. While the scale of the challenge is enormous, we submit that the complexity of effective implementation is not: commitments should shift to focus on protecting tigers at spatially well-defined priority sites, supported by proven best practices of law enforcement, wildlife management, and scientific monitoring. Conflict with local people needs to be mitigated. We argue that such a shift in emphasis would reverse the decline of wild tigers and do so in a rapid and cost-efficient manner.

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Save the Tiger