Attention All Voters: This is a must-see video

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner commissioned a test of the electronic voting machines in Ohio and here are the results! This Penn State professor is not an election rights advocate, but he’s a computer expert and his results will convince any voter that using computers in the voting process  — from pollbooks to voting machines to tabulating machines — is a very bad idea. Watch the video below and distribute to everyone you know. see and click on (SOS
2-21-08 Everest).

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Thanks to the videography of Voices of Cleveland Video Productions LLC.

The Free Press and the Drexel Gateway Theater present:Normon Solomon’s
WAR MADE EASY: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.
Narrated by Sean Penn
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 7pm
Admission is free!
Drexel Gateway screening room
Discussion will follow
War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.

Approx. 72 minutes

Drexel Gateway, 1550 N. High St.,

OSU campus, parking in rear in garage off 11th.



From the Sierra Club
Right now, there is an opportunity to potentially have a major impact on the energy legislation. Some are saying that at this point, House Speaker Jon Husted is leaning towards leaving nuclear energy out of the substitute bill he is drafting.  From what we are hearing, he simply doesn’t think that nuclear power makes economic sense.  To increase the likelihood that nuclear is left out of speaker’s substitute bill – it would be great to generate calls and letters to Husted’s office urging him to leave coal and nuclear energy out of the renewable standard.
Suggest calls or letters start by thanking the Speaker for his support of renewable energy – treat him as an ally.  As with other outreach, we should also include energy efficiency in the messaging.
Here is a sample phone script: “Hi, my name is ___________.  I am calling to thank Speaker Husted for his support of renewable energy and to urge him to remove coal and nuclear power from any future versions of SB 221. If Ohio is to safeguard consumers from future high energy prices it is important that the states invests in least costs resources, such as energy efficiency, rather than expensive coal and nuclear.  I would be happy to leave my name and address for a response from the Speaker.”
Jon Husted (R) Speaker of the House
77 S. High St., 14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 644-6008
Fax : (614) 719-3591
Email Address:
Also a call or letter to your State of Ohio Representative would be useful. You can find their contact information at

You are invited to join Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s radio show We’re recording live at 2:00pm every Saturday at Victorian’s Midnight Café, 251 W. Fifth at Neil. Join the audience, grab a mike, let your voice be heard.

Bob and Harvey are joined by Andrew Davis and Rob Jones for some political talk, discussion, interviews, commentary, and music. Victorian’s Midnight Café offers a great breakfast, brunch, lunch and drinks for your pleasure. Hear our archives at

Atttention Cuyahoga County Residents: You must see this presentation
on computerized voting machines!

Patrick McDaniel, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
of Penn State University gives a must-see presentation on the perils of
computer voting. Prof. McDaniel led the academic team that exposed
vulnerabilities of the computer voting systems in Ohio as part of Secretary
of State Jennifer Brunner’s Everest Project. The Free Press highly recommends
his presentation for all election protection advocates and anyone who wants
the facts about how a voting machine is easily hacked.

Details of the event are below:

Thursday, Feb. 21
Strosacker Auditorium
Case Western Reserve University
2125 Adelbert Rd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
5 – 7 p.m.
1-800-SOS-OHIO or by email at

In peace…

The Free Press

                                  drex corp logo

Dear Movie Lover, 

  On Sunday, February 24th Drexel Theatres will be having its 11th
straight Academy Award Party and this year’s Red Carpet Bash will
benefit the restoration of the historic 1937 neighborhood movie theatre.
We hope you will join us for Hollywood’s biggest night, from the red
carpet arrival of the stars to the presentations of the golden statues.
We’ll be giving out our own Awards to those in attendance for creativity
in Oscar attire and knowledge of Academy Awards trivia. 

In addition to the live telecast, there will be gourmet
hors d’oeuvres and libations from some of the cities finest restaurants,
unique Prizes donated by all the major film studios and your chance to
dress-up and walk the theatre’s red carpet where “paparazzi” and
fashion commentators will greet you on the way to the star-studded  
event. If you’ve never attended our Oscar Bash, it’s the closest you
can come to actually being at the awards. You’ll feel the excitement and
glamour along with Hollywood’s actors, directors, producers and filmmakers.   

  This year we’re inviting (don’t worry, it’s optional)
everyone to dress-up as your favorite Academy Award nominee or
nominated film or if you’re really adventurous, put on a short
skit from a nominated movie with some of your close friends.
Prizes will be awarded for the best nominee or movie impersonations
and for the best dressed at the show. Everyone will have a chance
to enter the annual You-Pick-The-Winners contest, with a year’s
worth of Drexel movie passes, and a special Studio Grand Prize
awarded to the person who predicts the most winners. Everyone
attending receives a special Red Carpet Goodie Bag.  

Because of the uncertainty that the 80th Academy Awards would actually
happen due to the just settled Writers Guild of America strike, our
event got off to a late start.  We need your help getting the word
out to movie fans and Drexel Theatres supporters.  This year we are
offering a Special Discount to our loyal Drexel Fans and their friends.
We hope you can join us for this gala evening.
   Jeff and Kathy Frank 

    Drexel Friends & Family – Red Carpet Bash – Discount Voucher
       Save $5.00 off any amount of Drexel Red Carpet Bash Tickets
To enjoy this special discount, your price only $15.00, order tickets by
phone(614)222-0947 ext. 6 M-F  9-5
(and mention Code Drexel Friends) or
present this letter to any Drexel Theatre Box-Office. 
Offer valid thru Friday, Feb. 22nd only. Not valid at the door. 
For more information on the event visit 

by Bob Fitrakis

Columbus Police Chief James G. Jackson should do us all a favor and resign. No, not because of the obviously botched handling of the Columbus Police Commander Walter J. Burns case. We can rest assured that Assistant Safety Director David Sturtz will conduct a fair and thorough investigation. When Sturtz was Ohio’s Inspector General, his investigations were beyond reproach and models to be emulated by other public officials.

Jackson should resign because he’s failed the citizens of Columbus by creating a police department that charitably could be called the minor league, AAA squad to the L.A. Police Department. Sure, there are minor differences. The LAPD has a reputation for beating and harassing primarily minorities. The more enlightened Columbus police are equal opportunity Macers and muggers.

Columbus Safety Director Thomas W. Rice is admirably trying to prod Jackson into current professional practices such as community policing. But Jackson resists and seems to wax nostalgic for the good old days of the rubber hose and policemen as unaccountable thugs. Let’s briefly recall some of Chief Jackson’s most notable recent accomplishments: indiscriminate Macing of OSU football fans following the last win against Michigan at home; the beating and Macing of lawfully demonstrating Antioch students; at least three major street clashes since October between Jackson’s police and south campus area residents; and continued charges of discrimination from the African-American organization Police Officers for Equal Rights (POER). His inability to control his police force is an embarrassment. Inaction Jackson’s tenure has truly been a disaster.

Jackson is partly the product of a flawed system. Columbus, unlike other major cities, lacks any form of civilian review of police. Plus, Jackson does not serve at the pleasure of the safety director or mayor, rather he has civil service protection. This is the worst possible combination of policies. And Jackson has taken advantage of it, and sent a message that the small percentage of rogue and unprofessional cops will be pampered and protected.

At the June 12 University Area Commission (UAC) meeting, the commissioners unanimously endorsed “the community review of police” as part of Campus Partners “Final Final Draft” plan for campus revitalization. One commissioner joked, “If we call for this, should we also ask for witness protection programs to hide us from the police?”

Richard Talbott, a university area developer and commissioner, is a strong proponent of “real community policing like they have in New York.

“What we have in the campus area is the ‘Barney wave’… cops still in cruisers roll by at 20 mph and give you the fake smile and the silly purple dinosaur salute,” he said.

Talbott describes himself as a “dyed-in-the-wool Republican,” but agrees with the other commissioners that the cops are out of control in the south campus area. As another commissioner put it, “They’re arrogant. You see them prancing through the bars, chit-chatting with the girls while someone’s being mugged around the corner.”

Talbott keeps a tear gas canister and a handful of “knee-knockers”-rubber riot bullets-from the most recent police/student clash as a reminder of the problem.

Commissioner Steve Nicol, who manages apartments and lives on 12th Avenue-ground zero of the student ghetto war zone-points out that “the tear gas goes through the walls.” Thus, those not battling the police are forced out of their apartments and subjected to the indiscriminate Macing and beating. Both Nicol and Talbott report that they own some 700 feet of orange plastic fencing that they’ll deliver to any tenants having a party. Both insist that students have made a sincere effort to check I.D. and keep uninvited guests off private premises. Police demanded this “appearance of order” but still they attack in their riot gear.

Another commissioner, Joe Jackson, a real estate agent, believes that the police are out of line and that the students have become “an easy target.” Brad Miller, owner of Maxwell’s, echoes this view. The south campus students have been “targeted.”

If you talk to the students who live and drink in the area, the first thing that strikes you is how un-radical and un-militant they are. For the most part, they’re business majors and accountant wanna-bes who find themselves reluctantly drawn into the fray by circumstances beyond their control.

These students are not the self-proclaimed “vanguard of the revolution.” I know, because I was one. Yet, just as in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the present repressive tactics of Chief Jackson will inevitably lead to rebellion. President Gee and Campus Partners’ recent “temperance crusade” has fanned the flames and inadvertently promoted this outdated and unacceptable police conduct. Still, it is the police chief who is ultimately responsible.

That’s why Jackson must resign. He has made every cop a criminal and suspect in the eyes of a marginalized community that will only be able to reduce its crime rate if trust and true community policing exist-concepts alien to Jackson.

Saturday Feb. 9, 6:30-9 P.M. 

Food – fun – relaxation – political discourse Bring your friends!
Free Press office – 1000 E. Main St., parking in rear or next door at Salvation Army parking lot

Every Second Saturday!

by Bob Fitrakis

Helluva way to kick off Gay Pride Month. For the fourth straight year–and I do mean “straight”–Ohio’s Executive Committee of the Bourgeoisie (aka Ohio State University trustees) refused to consider health insurance coverage for the “domestic partners” of graduate assistants.
Domestic partners are couples in committed monogamous long-term relationships attested to by affidavits, who, for legal (read gay and lesbians), philosophical or financial reasons, aren’t married.

Students for Domestic Partnerships, however, did not go quietly this time. Yes, Les Wexner and all those incredibly important and pious people on the board could clearly hear the megaphone chants: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has got to go!”

The exchange between admitted “queer” advocate and graduate student, T.J. Ghose, and Les Wexner was a classic. The immaculately tailored Wexner was unruffled by the impassioned plea from T.J. But Les did offer to allow T.J. to address the board at the next meeting just before security ushered him out of the building.

Take him up on it, T.J.! But don’t concern yourself with the facts. You know that many other universities already offer domestic partner coverage including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, Wright State, etc. Or that the coverage would not use university funds, but simply add 49 cents of each paycheck to individual premiums paid for out of the employee’s profit. Or even that the school has a non-discriminatory policy that includes sexual orientation that they are clearly violating.

No T.J., you’re dealing here with very sophisticated people. Tell ’em that it’s been helping Michigan recruit promiscuous football players prone to “shacking up,” and that Ohio State will return to the glory of yesteryears if they’d just get on even footing with those devious and perverted Wolverines.

George is my shepherd

While I’m on the subject of important, pious and pompous people, how ’bout our guv? I’m still adjusting to the fact that he proclaimed me and other Ohioans part of his “flock.” I’ve been waking up in the night screaming, but I’m trying to work through it with Hannibal Lecter.

I’ve been saying a little prayer each night: “George is my shepherd, I shall not want, he leadeth me to the state Lotto terminals, he taketh me to lie down in green radioactive pastures, he tempts me with his privatized liquor stores, he teaches me to take the Lord’s name in vain.

“And though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For I know it is called the Statehouse and my shepherd has etched the words in stone ‘With God All Things Are Possible.’ And he shall dwell in this House of hypocrisy all the days of his life.”

Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, the primer on modern power politics, suggested that political leaders should make great public displays of their religious conviction while privately pursuing ruthless amoral political agendas. At least the governor’s well-read. Another reason Bob Dole should take our devout shepherd from us and anoint him a VP.

Last thought on Dole: In America we cherish equal rights. Both the living and the undead have the same right to pursue high office. In Dole’s case, though, there probably should be law requiring him to wear a cape.

Look Out Bosses!

The Labor Party Advocates became The Labor Party last weekend in Cleveland. They’re not running candidates yet, although there were current and former presidential hopefuls in attendance. Ralph Nader was there and signed off on the Green Party’s efforts to place his name on the Ohio ballot as an Independent. Jerry Brown was in high spirits as he passionately denounced the “corrupt two-party system.” In a chat with the decidedly un-Voinovichy Brown, I learned among other things that the former California guv’s Oakland commune now houses some 20 members.

Brown pointed out that two words were missing from Clinton’s Democratic Party Platform in 1992, and most likely will be again in ’96: “unions” and “justice.”

Ironically, just as 1,500 enthusiastic unionists were founding a new Labor Party, the AFL-CIO endorsed President Clinton earlier in the presidential election year than any time in its history. The fact that Mr. NAFTA, Mr. GATT, Mr. Bill is once again the AFL-CIO leadership’s darling did not sit well with the delegates.

A large contingent of striking Detroit Free Press and Detroit News newspaper people rocked the hall with their militancy. The Labor Party endorsed a nationwide march on Detroit to support the 2,000 workers well into their 11th month on strike. As a Detroit native, I can’t wait.

In anticipation of the coming hot time in the motor city, delegates practiced for the upcoming event by marching on Cleveland City Hall and heckling Cleveland’s Democratic mayor, Michael White, after he suggested doing away with Ohio’s public employee organizing law.

But the biggest drawback to the new Labor Party is its top-down approach. A skeptical press corps worked up a list of jokes. “What’s the difference between the Labor Party and the Catholic Church?” “One’s a male-dominated, undemocratic, patriarchal organization and the other is run by the Pope.”


by Bob Fitrakis

Put a hundred of “Columbus’ finest” in riot gear and you can count on a riot–usually a police riot.

The police tactics on Friday, May 17 are simply the last in a long series of police-instigated rioting and misconduct in the campus area. Last Friday, May 31, I spoke with a dozen students and a lizard exercising their First Amendment rights on the northwest corner of 12th and High. Their demonstration posed a simple question: “Is South Campus a student neighborhood or a penal colony!?”

Neither. It’s condemned and occupied territory, thanks, in part, to the hysteria whipped up by Campus Partners. All that “neighborhood in decay” rhetoric has been taken to heart by the Columbus Police Department.

Tom Vigarino, one of the first arrested on May 17, reports that he was “tackled from behind by a couple undercover cops” that he never saw and who have failed to identify themselves as officers. As they beat him, he recalls one of them warning, “Motherfucker, don’t ever come back to 12th again!” Vigarino, who lives two blocks away on 10th, wonders why he can’t walk the streets in his neighborhood. He is charged with “rioting” for allegedly throwing a bottle at the police, a charge he and various witnesses vehemently deny.

Other witnesses report that police officers purposely shoved Shomas Jones, a third-year criminal law major, over a chain-enclosed planter. Jones was attempting to videotape police activity, and as he lay defenseless on the pavement he was repeatedly Maced and his camera smashed. When police returned his tape, the video had been erased. Another triumph for the Columbus police’s interpretation of the First Amendment.

The police then beat, Maced and arrested Chris Wisniewski, a fourth-year journalism student, for complaining about Jones’ treatment. “I was knocked flat on my ass from behind. We were in back of the police by High Street watching what they were doing on 12th, away from the action, and they just turned on us because Shomas had a camera,” recalls Wisniewski.

Wisniewski says he was taken to the Zettler Hardware parking lot near campus and held. When students complained about their treatment, they were met with the flippant comments of officers, including one who encouraged others to “get ’em riled up, so I can Mace ’em again.”

Writing in the Lantern on May 24, Eric Sims, a senior majoring in journalism, recounts how he and a friend were accosted while walking to a convenience store on May 17 by police who offered helpful hints like “…What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Turn around, NOW!”

“They chased the students down, beating the ones they caught, Macing the others. Students were screaming and almost trampling each other to run back to their houses,” wrote Sims.

The students all tell the same story. No problems, no fights, prior to the police invasion. In fact, area residents had complied with earlier police requests to use plastic fencing to contain their guests and even made public announcements over a PA system asking residents to cooperate with police. Only after the police actions were bottles thrown and items set on fire. But, that must be put in the context of the indiscriminate beatings, excessive Macing and random assault with “knee-knockers”–rubber riot bullets–and other anti-riot devices. Throw in the mounted riot police and cop helicopter and you’ve got the makings for police-state mayhem. But, the students are fighting back.

The demonstrators announced the formation a new and long-overdue organization: Copwatch. They plan to monitor police activity and take legal action to prevent what has now become a long stream of abuses.

Let’s recall the most obvious. After Ohio State’s last big win at home over Michigan, unlike other universities that enjoy victory celebrations, Columbus cops Maced the hell out of celebrating fans attempting to tear down the goalpost. Last spring, riot police Maced and brutally beat Antioch students for holding a peaceful demonstration at the federal building opposing cuts in student loans. And last fall, police fired tear gas canisters and “knee-knockers” indiscriminately into south campus streets and residences making the air in a four-square block area virtually unbreatheable, and then beat and arrested students fleeing to fresh air.

The seeds of the problem germinated in bad social policy. First, an asinine decision to raise the drinking age. This only makes sense if raising the drinking age means that the students would comply; they won’t. College students always drink alcohol. If the drinking age is 18, they drink it in local bars; if it’s 21, they drink at house parties. If you close and burn down the bars, they’ll drink in their cars and alcohol-related fatalities will rise. In our society, it’s a rite of adult passage. The college and the city should be promoting responsible drinking, not police rioting.

What message was being sent when the police department decided to crack down on “drunk walkers” in the campus area a year or so ago? Again, why not crack down on drunk walkers at Christopher’s after the Ohio legislature adjourns on any given day? If the police would contact me, I could gladly give them the names of a few senators and representatives I’ve never seen sober.

Stop the police repression and brutality. Have the police read the Constitution. And if this is what the Columbus Public Safety Department means by a new policy of “community policing,” I wonder about their definition.