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Explosive New Vote Fraud Developments Continue To Rock Ohio And Florida

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
March 23, 2007

Breaking news in vote fraud cases in both Ohio and Florida are feeding a firestorm of controversy that is likely to continue escalating, with major implications for the 2008 election and the future of e-voting machines.

In Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, the newly elected Secretary of State, has received two of the four resignations she requested from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE). The two Democrats on the Board, Edward Coaxum, Jr. and Loree Soggs, have complied with her call for their departures from Cleveland’s scandal-ridden election authority.

However, Robert Bennett, who chairs both the Cuyahoga BOE and the Ohio Republican Party, has thus far refused Brunner’s request. So has Sally Florkiewicz, Bennett’s fellow Republican on the BOE. Should they continue with their refusal to resign, Brunner has threatened to hold public hearings, in the wake of which she could force the resignations.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that a criminal investigation is underway which centers on the Cuyahoga BOE’s conduct of the November 2006 election. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason has turned again to Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter who recently won felony convictions of two BOE workers for rigging the 2004 presidential recount for another criminal investigation. Baxter will be investigating “possible criminal wrongdoings” related to ballot security and the scanning of absentee ballots.

A Cleveland State University Center for Election Integrity study has exposed various election irregularities in Cuyahoga County in the 2006 election. Among the most egregious were the BOE’s failure to secure the dual keys (one for the Dems and one for the Republicans) required for the vote counting rooms; that they allowed shared computer passwords; and that they allowed an unexplained cable connection to the county’s vote counting computer.

The Free Press also has viewed a video shot by Jeff Kirkby showing Cuyahoga County election workers downloading the county’s election data onto portable laptops that were allegedly allowed to go home with BOE employees. These practices raise serious concerns over election data security.

Massive computer failures during the May 2006 primary led in February 2007 to the resignation of Michael Vu, who was the executive director of the Cuyahoga BOE at the time. Both Bennett and Vu pushed for the $20 million purchase of Diebold voting machines over strenuous objections from election protection activists, whose concerns were cablecast in the HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy” shown nationwide just prior to the November 2006 election.

On March 21, the Dayton Daily News reported that “After two days of tests, the results are in: About 2,500 people cast ballots in November on 56 malfunctioning electronic touch-screen voting machines in Montgomery County, said Steve Harsman, county board of elections director.”

The Free Press has previously reported that there were nearly 30,000 undervotes in Montgomery County during the 2006 gubernatorial race, meaning an abnormally high 13.67% of all voters reportedly recorded no vote for the state’s highest office. (See chart posted with this article at the Freepress.org web site courtesy of Pete Johnson and CASE-Ohio) Similar undervote problems exist in Adams, Darke, Highland, Mercer and Perry counties.

Meanwhile, Jonathon Simon has informed the Free Press that the Election Defense Alliance (EDA) is analyzing data from Adams County as part of a project to compare exit polls to actual votes. In the 2004 election, the exit polls showed John Kerry winning, while the actual machine and computer tabulated results gave the state to Bush by 118,000 votes.

Meanwhile, in Florida, internal memos from the ES&S voting machine company indicate an e-voting machine created an undervote problem, according to Wired News. In Sarasota County, 18,000 ballots recorded no votes in a hotly contested congressional race.

“But the memo, which the company sent to Florida election officials before the state’s September primary, revealed that the iVotronic machines had a flaw that sometimes caused machines to respond slowly to a voter’s touch ‘beyond the normal time a voter would expect to have their selection highlighted.’ The memo stated that a software upgrade was required but couldn’t be certified before the September election. In its absence, ES&S sent election officials a warning sign to post at polls advising voters that they might need to press the screen for several seconds before their votes would register,” wrote Wired News.

Reginald Mitchell, lawyer for People for the American Way, told Wired News that “this memo is the smoking gun….”

The six counties under investigation in Ohio all used Diebold machines suggesting that both major suppliers of e-voting machines have similar flaws that create undervotes.

These waves of breaking news about serious problems in the conduct of the 2004 and 2006 elections, and in the performance of electronic voting machines in the two states that have decided the last two presidential elections, make it a virtual certainty that we have barely begun to see the full extent of what has really been done to the American democratic system.


Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of three books on the presidential election of 2004, and continue to cover breaking election protection issues at www.freepress.org.

Download the Excel spreadsheet.

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Forced Resignations And Stiff Prison Sentences Intensify The Escalating Blowback From Ohio’s 2004 Stolen Election

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
March 20, 2007

In a bold move “to restore trust to elections in Ohio,” Ohio’s newly-elected Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has requested the resignation of all four members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The two Democrats and two Republicans were formally asked to resign by the close of business on March 21. Cuyahoga County includes the heavily Democratic city of Cleveland. Brunner is a Democrat who was elected to be Ohio’s Secretary of State in November, 2006.

Felony convictions have also resulted in 18-month prison sentences for two employees of the Cuyahoga BOE as a result of what the county prosecutor in the case calls the “rigging” of the outcome in the recount following the 2004 presidential election. Further problems surfaced in the conduct of Cuyahoga County’s May, 2006 primary, in the wake of which Michel Vu, Executive Director of the county’s Board of Elections recently resigned.

In tandem, the shake-up in Ohio’s biggest county reflects a widening storm surrounding the outcome of the 2004 presidential election and the conduct of elections overall in the nation’s most pivotal state.

Among those Brunner has asked to resign is Cuyahoga County BOE Chair Robert Bennett, who chairs Ohio’s Republican Party. Voting rights attorney Cliff Arnebeck and others have long charged that Bennett worked closely with White House advisor Karl Rove and Ohio’s then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to secure Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio.

Bennett responded to Brunner by saying that he will refuse to resign. He has placed the blame for the May 2006 primary problems on private voting machine vendors, including Diebold. Bennett claims the rigging of the 2004 presidential recount was caused by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

If Bennett and other Board members refuse to resign by Wednesday, Brunner says they “will face a complaint and public hearing to be conducted in Cleveland…”

In the 2004 presidential election, Cuyahoga County suffered serious election irregularities that worked to the disadvantage of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Among them: the purging of 24.93% of all the voters in the city of Cleveland, where Kerry won 83% of the vote; mysterious and suspect vote totals for third party candidates in majority African American wards; unexplained “security” problems that caused the last-minute shift of voting locations in the inner city Cleveland Public School polling places; improbably low apparent turnouts in heavily Democratic inner city wards, and more.

Brunner’s request for the resignations comes a week after two Cuyahoga County election workers were each sentenced to 18 months in prison for rigging the recount of the 2004 election in Ohio’s biggest county. These are the first prison terms issued in the escalating scandal over the vote count that gave George W. Bush a second stay in the White House. The two women are out on bail pending appeal. But the substantial jail time demanded by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan indicates there may be more trials and convictions yet to come, especially in light of new evidence unearthed by the Free Press in other counties around the state.

Jacqueline Maiden and Kathleen Dreamer were each convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct by an election board employee. Maiden, 60, was the Cuyahoga Board of Elections’ third-highest ranking employee.

Dreamer, 40, was ballot manager. Maiden and Dreamer were also convicted of a separate misdemeanor. A third defendant in the case was acquitted of all charges.

The Free Press has unearthed evidence indicating possible criminal misconduct by a wide range of election officials throughout the state, including Blackwell. Under the law, election boards are required to do recounts by choosing 3% of a county’s voters at random for sampling. But throughout the state, apparently with the explicit knowledge and approval of Blackwell, precincts were hand-counted for recounting, a criminal act. This non-random sampling in essence voided the recount, for which backers of the Green and Libertarian Parties paid more than $100,000.

According to the prosecution in the case against Maiden and Dreamer, this method of action led to the recount being illegally “rigged.” When investigators working with the Free Press attempted to audit the Cuyahoga County ballots from the 2004 election last summer, BOE officials were unable to find the ballots for four full days. The investigation team, led by Richard Hayes Phillips, had to find the ballots on their own. Under Ohio law, the ballots were to be locked in a known location, and secured by two keys, one controlled by each major party.

Brunner says she acted in part because she is concerned that many of the problems from 2004 and 2006 might resurface in the upcoming 2008 election. “With maximum 18-month prison sentences being handed down to two Cuyahoga County election workers last week, for their role in the 2004 presidential recount, the tremendous problems that surfaced in the May 2006 primary that delayed even the unofficial vote count for five days, and the uncertain future of this board as another Presidential election looms on the near horizon, it is incumbent on me as Secretary of State to provide the direction needed to get this troubled board on track,” she says. “The voters of Cuyahoga county deserve it, the citizens of Ohio expect it and the rest of the nation will be watching.”

In the 2006 primary, Cuyahoga County used the controversial Diebold touchscreen voting machines. These machines suffered a well-publicized meltdown, in which many malfunctioned. A report from the Election Science Institute (ESI) documented significant differences between votes actually cast on the machines as opposed to those officially counted.

Immediately following the election, 562,498 votes were reported cast in Cuyahoga County, with 30,791 listed as absentee or provisional ballots. But the official results show just 468,056 counted. This means that 94,442 ballots cast in the unofficial total disappeared in the official tallies, representing a shocking 16.8% of all the votes cast in Cuyahoga.

Michael Vu, who was the Cuyahoga BOE executive director, came under intense criticism for the bitter controversies surrounding both the 2004 and 2006 elections. Last month, he resigned “to pursue future career growth,” according to a Cuyahoga County Board of Elections release.

In an interesting and perhaps telling statement coming from a Republican who was commenting on an appointee supported by the Democratic Party, Bennett said “Michael Vu has worked hard and accomplished a great deal on behalf of Cuyahoga County votes and will, I am sure, continue to have success in his career of public service.

“Michael oversaw a difficult transition period at the Board including the implementation of a new electronic voting system county-wide in the May (2006) primary followed by a near flawless general election,” Bennett concluded.

Brunner’s action underscores a growing sentiment that the unraveling of what happened during and after the 2004 election has only just begun.

The Free Press has learned that Brunner’s office is also investigating an unexplained undercount in the 2006 general election in six Ohio counties which all used the Diebold TSX DRE voting machines. In Montgomery County, where the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland beat Blackwell, the Republican nominee, by 107,593 to 76,189, there was an abnormally high 13.76% of the machines registering no vote for the state’s highest office. Problems are also under investigation in Adams, Darke, Highland, Mercer and Perry Counties.

With stiff prison terms, forced resignations and widespread investigations underway, there is a well-founded sense in Ohio that much more is yet to surface about the disputed presidential election of 2004 and what has come after it.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO? (New Press) and of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available via www.freepress.org.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2007/2503

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After Ohio’s Recount Rigging Convictions In Cuyahoga, Is Coshocton County Next?

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
March 6, 2007

After the recent convictions of two Cuyahoga County Board of Election workers for felony recount tampering, Republican County Prosecutor Robert Batchelor is stonewalling efforts to investigate similar well-documented charges in Coshocton County, Ohio.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) third-ranking employee and an assistant manager were each convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct and a misdemeanor count of failing to perform their duties during the 2004 recount. The convictions stemmed from the secret pre-counting of precincts prior to the lawfully required open recount. The convicted election workers only allowed the pre-counted precincts that matched the official results to be used in the recount. This caused the special prosecutor to tell the jury that the election recount was “rigged” in Cuyahoga.

Testimony and eyewitness reports document similar activity in several Ohio counties regarding the illegal rigging of the 2004 recount.

The Green and Libertarian Parties brought the Ohio 2004 recount after Democratic hopeful John Kerry conceded with nearly a quarter of million votes uncounted in the state. Under Ohio law, county boards of elections must set a “time and place fixed for making a recount”” and “”in the presence of all witnesses [who may] may be in attendance, shall open the sealed containers containing the ballots to be recounted and shall recount them.” The sealed ballot containers are to be opened in front of BOE officials and recount candidates may “attend an witness the recount and may have any person whom the candidate designates attend and witness the recount,” under ORC 3515.03.

It is illegal to secretly pre-count recount ballots. The BOE can”t do a pre-count of ballots for whatever reason, secretly, after the certified vote goes to the state and after there has been a mandate for a statewide recount.

What happened in Coshocton County before the 2004 recount also appears to be a clear violation of Ohio law and could be damning for the Coshocton County BOE.

On December 8, 2004, Tim Kettler, the Coshocton County recount coordinator for Green presidential candidate David Cobb, was informed by a Coshocton County Board of Elections (BOE) employee that the county would officially recount on Tuesday, December 14.

In a follow up phone call to the BOE a few days later, Kettler learned that BOE Director Mary Fry was planning a full hand count on December 14. This was a surprise, since the Coshocton County BOE had certified its vote total to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on December 6 as required by law and the required recount only mandated a hand count of 3% of the county’s votes, not a full hand recount. The reasons for the hand count would prove even more shocking.

Documents obtained by the Free Press, from a criminal complaint filed by Kettler, show that despite fixing the legal time and place for the recount, the Coshocton County BOE ha begun to pre-count, just like Cuyahoga County, the ballots without notifying representatives of the Green and Libertarian Parties.

BOE records obtained by the Free Press, and filed by Kettler with Prosecutor Batchelor, indicate that a ‘special Meeting” was called on December 9 by the Coshocton County BOE to discuss the recount. At the BOE meeting, “a motion was made by David Burns to hand count Precinct 3-C . . . ” after the legal certification of the vote, and prior to the recount.

Records indicate that on December 10, 2004, a new certified vote total was sent to Blackwell’s office.

Fry informed Kettler in a December 27, 2004 letter that the unexplained December 10 filing contained “. . . amended totals.”

The December 27 letter to Kettler also documents that Director Fry knew that errors were being made by the ES&S 550 vote counting machines in tabulating the certified Election Day votes.

“Fry’s reason for the allegedly illegal pre-count calls into question the accuracy of ES&S scantron voting machines: “MANY OF THE ERRORS IN TOTALS WERE NOTED TO HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED ON THE 550 [ES&S] COUNTER, WHERE TOTALS ON THE 150 COUNTER WERE STILL REMAINING THE SAME AS ON ELECTION NIGHT AND DURING OUR RECOUNT OF THE BALLOTS FOR CERTIFICATION TOTALS.”

The Free Press found similar problems with ES&S 550 counting machines during the 2004 election in Miami County. In Miami County, the counter appeared to add phantom votes never cast to the 2004 presidential election totals. (See “Official States Electronic Voting System Added Votes Never Cast in 2004 Presidential Election; Audit Log Missing,” by Peter Peckarsky, Ron Baiman and Robert Fitrakis. Article)

Fry claims that she contacted the Secretary of State’s office and was told to pre-count the ballots prior to the recount, thus raising potential criminal conduct by Secretary of State Blackwell’s office.

“”I THEN CALLED PAT WOLFE WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE’s OFFICE, TO SEE WHAT WE SHOULD DO. MRS. WOLFE WAS IN MEETING ALL DAY LONG, THIS TRANSPIRED ON DECEMBER 9, 2004. HAVING NOT REACHED HER OR GETTING A PHONE CALL BACK FROM MRS. WOLFE. WE THEN CALLED OUR REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE’s OFFICE, MICHAEL HERNON, HAVING EXPLAINED WHAT WE HAD DISCOVERED, MICHAEL RECOMMENDED THAT WE RECOUNT ALL BALLOTS THAT WERE RAN ON THE [ES&S] 550 MACHINE, AND IMMEDIATELY GET AN AMENDED SET OF TOTALS TO THEIR OFFICE BEFORE THE ELECTORAL COLLEGES MET, WHICH WAS ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 2004. WHILE TALKING WITH MICHAEL HERNON, PAT WOLFE RETURNED OUR PHONE CALL, EVERYTHING WAS EXPLAINED TO PAT WOLFE, SHE ALSO RECOMMENDED THAT WE RECOUNT ALL BALLOTS ON THE 550 COUNTER ALONG WITH ALL BALLOTS,” Fry wrote Kettler in the December 27, 2004 letter.

On December 14 as the recount began, the BOE distributed a document entitled “Official – Nov. 2, 2004” dated December 10, 2004, including lists of vote totals, indicating that the Board had secretly hand recounted the ballots prior to the official recount. Fry, in her December 27 letter to Kettler, admits to the secret recount: “DURING THE TIME OF HAND POSTING ELECTION CERTIFIED RESULTS ON OUR ABSTRACT MANY OF THE FIGURES WERE UNUSUAL LOOKING. THEREFORE KATHY [HENDRICKS] AND MYSELF PULLED SEVERAL PRECINCTS AND HAND COUNTED THE PRSSIDENTAL [sic] RACE ONLY, FINDING MANY ERRORS IN TOTALS THAT WERE CERTIFIED TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE’s OFFICE.”

Kettler contends that Fry’s statement is a “blatant lie” and that the minutes of the December 9 special meeting document that the discrepancies in presidential vote totals were discovered during the “cursory count” of Precinct 3-C. That precinct had been pre-selected for the recount, according to Kettler.

On December 14, Coshocton County conducted the only full hand recount of any of Ohio’s 88 counties. The hand recount produced a total vote discrepancy of 1079 presidential votes between the certified results of December 6 and the recount results of December 14. With only 17,321 votes cast in Coshocton County, this represented a discrepancy of 6.25% of all votes cast in the county.

In the 1079 vote discrepancy, Kerry received 49% of the vote. This is a stark contrast to the less than 43% he received of the original certified vote totals, before the amended totals.

Kettler further asserts that the “full hand recount” was meant not only to cover up the illegal unwitnessed pre-count but to also steer witnesses away from running a test deck of ballots through the malfunctioning machine.” He claims that a test deck of ballots was only run through one of the tabulators, probably the “150,” which did not experience problems.

Despite the known problems with the ES&S 550 machines, Fry stated in a Coshocton Tribune interview published on December 18 that the “optical scan technology worked remarkably well.”

Kettler asks “Why in the hell would you make a statement like that knowing that the tabulators lost over 6% of the vote?”

He also is “greatly concerned” with what he calls “the unmonitored handling of the ballots during the period of November 2 to December 14” 2004. “No one really knows what may have happened to the ballots given the cardboard box security and the Board’s willingness to act in a manner inconsistent with Ohio law,” said Kettler.

He noted that the December 9 minutes of the Coshocton BOE meeting recorded that similar events had occurred in another county an d that their Board had proceeded in the same manner as Coshocton.

According the Kettler, though, the Coschocton County BOE officials have not been indicted or convicted because they are being protected by Batchelor.

On August 16, 2006, Kettler filed a police report charging that the Coshocton County BOE had violated Ohio election laws and delivered a copy to prosecutor Batchelor. Three days later, the police assigned a complaint number 0106002634.

A letter was sent from the police investigator to the Coshocton prosecutor on October 10. On October 13 Batchelor refused to prosecute BOE officials in Coshocton County although he never denied that the alleged criminal events occurred. Following the Cuyahoga County convictions, Kettler has now asked that Batchelor be removed and that a special prosecutor be appointed in Coshocton County to investigate this case.

Kettler wrote the Free Press and stated, “My purpose in pursuing this to the bloody end is accountability, reform and [that] the people who perpetrated these misdeeds are still running our elections. Unacceptable!”


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008 (http://www.freepress.org/), and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, published by the New Press.

Supporting Documentation

complaint_cover_letter.rtf
Complaint_page_one.rtf
complaint_page_2.rtf
complaint_page_three.rtf
complaint_page_four.rtf
exhibit_A_page_one.rtf
exhibit_A_page_2.rtf
exhibit_A_page_3.rtf
exhibit_B_minutes_12_8_04.rtf
exhibit_B_minutes_12_9_04.rtf
exhibit_C_redo.jpg
exhibit_C_redo_pg_2.jpg
Exhibit_E_pg_1.jpg
Exhibit_E_pg_2.jpg
Exhibit_E_pg_1.jpg
Exhibit_E_pg_2.jpg
letter_to_prosecutor.jpg
prosecutor’s_reply_pg_2.jpg
works_remarkably_well.jpg
Cosh_Sheriff_Report_pg_1.rtf
Cosh_Sheriff_Report_pg_2.rtf  

Original link at

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2007/2462

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The Airwaves Belong To The People, Speak Out March 7th

Bob Fitrakis

I’m heading out in a few hours to speak at Victorian’s Midnight Café. It’s a fundraiser for Ohio Majority Radio, the folks who are trying to bring back Air America to Columbus. As you know, there’s been a huge vacuum since 1230 AM took Air America off the air. Couple that with the loss of WVKO 1580AM last May – and we find that talk radio in Columbus spans the political spectrum from ultraconservativism to neofascism.

This is a point that needs to be made at the Town Meeting on the Future of Media in Columbus on Wednesday, March 7 at the Broad Street Presbyterian Church, 760 E. Broad St. The meeting starts at 5:30pm and FCC Commissioners will be in attendance to take testimony from Central Ohioans on how well – or in our case, not well – the broadcast community is serving the people of our community.

The freepress.net, one of the sponsors of the Town Meeting, has done a good job of analyzing who owns the media in Columbus. As they point out, just four companies control 75% of the Columbus area’s local news market. And, the Republican Wolfe family, owner of the Dispatch company, not only has a daily monopoly over the print media, also owns WBNS TV-10, WBNS 1460 AM and WBNS FM 97.1. These media entities comprise nearly half of all the local news market in our area.

Points that need to be made are that the media ownership in Columbus fails to reflect the genuine diversity of our community. For example, racial and ethnic minorities comprise 23% of the population in the Columbus TV market, 19% of the radio market, and 33% of the city’s population. Despite that diversity, only 7.5% of the area’s commercial broadcast stations are minority owned. And the only station that was willing to look at minority disenfranchisement during the 2004 election was the incredibly brave WVKO. With WVKO out of the market, there’s virtually no alternative local coverage of events that matter the most to civil rights and human rights advocates and minorities.

March 7 is YOUR opportunity to speak out against the oligarchs and plutocrats who own Columbus media.

Remember, the airwaves belong to the people. And, with that in mind, the Free Press is desperate to raise money for a 135 watt radio translator that could add a new progressive voice to Columbus radio. We are running out of time and must broadcast a signal by March 26. Tax deductible donations can be made out to to the CICJ Radio Project and can be donated online soon at our online store at http://www.freepress.org/ or sent to: 1240 Bryden Rd., Columbus, OH 43205.

So – hope to see you on Wednesday March 7 at 5:30pm at the church. Come prepared to testify and we will be videotaping and streaming it live.

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Authors Dr. Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman Book Signing Event

What_Happened_in_Ohio.JPG

March 3, 2007
Local Activists and Authors Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman book signing

Featured at Simply Living Bookstore. 12 noon until 2 p.m. Bob and Harvey are well known locally for their work with the Free Press, and their recent books addressing election issues in Ohio have received national attention. Mark your calendars now to meet them in person and purchase a signed copy of What Happened in Ohio? – a piece of living history that you will want to pass on to your children and grandchildren.

Location:Clintonville Community Market, 200 Crestview.

Email: Contact
Website: What Happened in Ohio?