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Fight Back: Health Care Reform Kurt Bateman, Solartopia Podcasts

Bob’s topic this week: Health Care Reform with Kurt Bateman, SPAN Ohio
Listen and call in this Wednesday July 13 from 7 – 8 PM
Call 877-932-9766

Kurt Bateman, a native of Ohio, has worked for the Ohio Healthy Families Act, an initiative petition campaign to enable workers to earn paid sick days and is currently the state director of SPAN (Single Payer Action Network) as director of the Ohio effort to gain passage of The Health Care For All Ohioans Act.

We need to hear from you — if you have a story about a health care dilemma and comments/questions on health care.

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Also, join Harvey “No Nukes” Wasserman
for THE NUCLEAR DELUSION!
LIVE with Rex Weyler of Greenpeace & Roy Morrison of the Clamshell Alliance
Wednesday, 8pm EST at www.talktainmentradio.com

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Here’s how to call in to the LIVE INTERNET radio show:
(on your computer – not on your broadcast radio dial)
On Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm
Go to: http://talktainmentradio.com
Click on “Listen Live
Call 877-932-9766

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Fight Back: Banning Plastic Bags In Columbus

Bob Fitrakis and Connie Gadell Newton interview Connie Everett and Susann Moeller about their activist efforts to promote a ban on plastic bags in Columbus, Ohio

Free Press Second Saturday Salon, July 9th

Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday, July 9, 6:30pm-midnight
With a presentation by the SPORE Infoshop and music by Steve Dodge,
progressive friends, good food and drink, art and culture.
1021 E. Broad St., Columbus (side door, parking in rear)
truth@freepress.org
253-2571

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Fight Back Call In: Kasich Budget With Brian Rothenberg

Listen to Fight Back! Talktainmentradio.com radio show this Wednesday
July 6 – 7pm
Bob discusses the Kasich budget and the future of Ohio
with
Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio, an organization that has sued Governonr Kasich

Here’s how to call in to the LIVE INTERNET radio show:
(on your computer – not on your broadcast radio dial)
On Wednesday nights at 7:00 pm
Go to: http://talktainmentradio.com
Click on “Listen Live
Bob’s program “Fight Back!” will be on
Call 877-932-9766

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John Kasich: The New York Times Smooth Operator

by Bob Fitrakis
July 4, 2011

You would never know it after reading the July 2, 2011 puff piece “In Ohio, a new Governor is off to a smooth start,” but Governor John Kasich is already on the ropes. In the Times’ analysis, the passage of Kasich’s controversial budget “…has been about as smooth as a knife through butter.”

In reality, Kasich is a founding member of the “gaffe of the week” club. His budget is based on busting all the public employee unions in the state of Ohio and began with the supposed savings Kasich cited in the union-busting Senate Bill 5. The bill not only went after state employees, public school teachers, and professors, but also attacked police and firemen. In a gaffe that went around the Buckeye state, Kasich justified union-busting by calling a police officer who gave him a traffic ticket “an idiot.”

Soon after that, during a speech in Cleveland, Ohio, Kasich pronounced himself a fan of the Cleveland Browns’ arch-rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After trying to get himself sworn-in secretly and refusing to live in the governor’s mansion, Kasich recently announced he will not honor the long-held tradition of the Ohio governor sleeping overnight in a barn at the Ohio State Fair.

When workers and their supporters gathered $1.3 million signatures to repeal Senate Bill 5, half a million more signatures than ever submitted for an Ohio initiative, Kasich stuck to the analysis that his budget will save the state.

Kasich emerged as a freshly-scrubbed Nixon supporter in the 1972 election after moving from Pennsylvania to attend Ohio State University. He parlayed his connections to Nixon and to Nixon supporter and cult-figure Reverend Moon into an internship at the Ohio legislature. His next step was from intern to hired staff, where he earned a reputation for being both volatile and lazy.

He had the good fortune, however, to run for state senator in a suburban district during the Reagan landslide of 1980. The ever-ambitious Kasich next ran for U.S. Congress against incumbent one-term representative Bob Shamansky. Good fortune again smiled on Kasich when legendary Ohio House Speaker Vern Riffe had the district re-drawn to favor Republican candidates because Shamansky failed to endorse Gov. Dick Celeste in the Democratic primary.

Kasich lorded over the gerrymandered 12th district in Ohio for nearly two decades. The district included the Republican stronghold Delaware County as well as the heavily Republican Licking County, thrown in with the east side of Columbus and the eastern suburbs, including Westerville, where he still lives.

After a disastrous bid for president, Kasich took a turn bloviating on Fox News and took another turn ripping off stockholders with Lehman Brothers. He sold $400 million in junk assets into the State Teachers pension fund just prior to Lehman Brothers going belly up. This has not stopped him as governor from attacking the teacher’s union for making bad investments and not being solvent. Despite the fact that teachers gave back $11 billion to make their fund solvent, Kasich has demanded 2% morec of their salaries in his budget.

Kasich ran for Ohio governor backed by the Republican Governors’ Association and Rupert Murdoch. Exit polls in his gubernatorial election showed that he actually lost by 2.7%.

Kasich’s most recent approval numbers show 33% approval and 56% disapproval, tying him with Florida governor Rick Scott as the worst in the nation.

An analysis of Kasich’s budget shows the standard Republican tax cuts to the wealthy followed by cuts to public schools and local governments. It also includes huge handouts to Republican-connected corporations.

In April, Kasich gave Diebold a $56 million package of grants, tax credits and loans to keep its headquarters in Ohio. Diebold made national news in the 2004 Ohio presidential election when its then-CEO Wally O’Dell pledged to deliver Ohio’s electoral vote to George W. Bush. This was no idle promise since much of Ohio’s vote was tallied and counted on Diebold computers and their GEMS software. The software is proprietary and secret.

Kasich also gave the Bob Evans restaurant company a $7.8 million incentive package to move its headquarters out of Columbus into the wealthy suburb of New Albany, well-known as being created by Ohio’s only billionaire Les Wexner. In the Bob Evans case, he cited population losses in cities like Columbus as the reason for the incentive package.

Lost on Kasich was the fact that Columbus had added nearly 155,000 residencies in the last 20 years, according to the U.S. Census. Kasich has always taken the Reagan approach on facts: “Facts are stupid things,” as Reagan said.

At the same time he was giving the wealthy Bob Evans owners nearly a $8 million welfare check, he was attacking public workers for having decent benefits when a waitress at Bob Evans had “shabby at best” health care benefits and no pension.

Here’s an analysis of Kasich’s budget:

• In order to fill an $8 billion budget deficit, Kasich extended a 4.2% income tax cut.
• Kasich’s budget cut $640 million from local government and $700 million from Ohio schools.
• Despite massive problems with Correction Corporations of America, a private prison company in Ohio, Kasich is putting 6 state prisons up for sale.
• The Kasich administration also plans to lease the Ohio turnpike, a 241-mile toll road in northern Ohio. Kasich began his term by refusing $400 million of federal money for passenger rail service from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati. Columbus, Ohio, the nation’s 15th largest city has not had passenger rail service since 1979.
• Kasich cut state Medicaid payments to nursing homes by 6% and initiated new rules that lift the requirement that each nursing home room has access to a bathtub or shower (hey – it works in the Ohio State University dorms).
• Kasich will lease Ohio’s wholesale liquor operations to the so-called JobsOhio. Thus, he will be able to take credit for creating jobs when the state workers go from being public workers to private workers without any real net job gain.
• Kasich, of course, slashed funding to the Ohio Consumer Council and banned it from operating a call center to take consumer complaints and inform people of their rights against utility companies.
• Kasich’s budget also provides heavy subsidies to charter schools increasing the number of vouchers paid by the state from 14,000 to 60,000 by the 2012-13 school year.
• Kasich’s budget eliminates the seniority system for teachers in determining layoffs. Any new and cheaper teacher with a better evaluation will be kept over a higher-priced senior teacher.
• Senate Bill 5, which was passed in conjunction with the budget, eliminated all unions for public college and university professors.
• His budget also prohibits municipalities from regulating fast food restaurants ingredients or requiring restaurant nutritional data be displayed.
• Kasich’s budget does, in fact, move away from privatization and toward heavy government regulation in one key area – it mandates that those who obtain Freemason license plates to document membership in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio.

So there’s Kasich’s “smooth as butter” start. We can only hope his departure will be even smoother.

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Bob Fitrakis ran against Kasich for Congress in 1992 and is currently the co-chair of the Ohio Green Party.

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The Ohio Republican Party Is Poised To Steal The 2012 Vote In Ohio

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
July 4, 2011

The Ohio Republican Party is poised to steal the 2012 vote in Ohio. Unlike 2004, this time it will be legal. The vote could come Tuesday, July 5, in the Ohio legislature.

The Bill is House Bill 194, which targets the core of Ohio’s Democratic voters. Given the closely divided swing nature of the Ohio electorate, it is likely to disenfranchise more than enough young, elderly, low income, working class and people of color to guarantee a permanent Republican majority in the Buckeye State.

Under the direction of GOP Governor John Kasich—himself the beneficiary of a dubious vote count in 2010—the Ohio Republicans are clearly determined to make it as difficult as possible for traditional Democrats to register, vote or get their votes counted in future elections.

Since 2000, the Republicans have eliminated more than a 1.5 million voters from the Buckeye state voter rolls. The purges have been centered on urban voters. Moreover, in 2004 hundreds of thousands of additional Ohio voters were disenfranchised by orchestrated bottlenecks at polling places that forced people to wait seven hours and more in line. The lines were most evident in the heavily Democratic urban areas of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

But in 2008, because the Democrats controlled the legislature and state house, voters were allowed to cast their ballots up to 35 days before election day. The lines disappeared. Polling places were voter-friendly, with election workers giving voters clear directions on how to proceed.

Now the GOP is intent on ending all that. Ohio HB 194 slashes the timeframe for early in-person voting from 35 days to 16. The new law also prohibits Ohio’s 88 counties from mailing absentee ballots to all voters, or to pay the return postage. (In 2004, thousands of absentee ballots never made it to the county boards of elections because they had a pre-printed space for one stamp when they actually required two, and most voters only put on one stamp).

The HB 194 law also prohibits local board of elections officials from designing systems that best meet the needs of their community. For example, it forbids the county boards of elections from setting up off-site early voting locations. Banning voter-friendly practices such as pre-paid postage for absentee ballots and convenient places for citizens to vote, the law mandates practices design to lower turnouts as much as possible.

In perhaps the Bill’s most shocking provision, pollworkers are prohibited from helping voters find the right precinct line at the polling site. They are actually barred from answering questions or providing directions to voters.

In the 2004 election, then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, directed that any voter in the right polling place but in the wrong precinct, could not have his or her vote counted. Prior to Blackwell, Ohioans would have had all of their votes counted in that case, except for the rare precinct-level vote which would usually be about alcohol sales.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio has written the legislature to ask: “Why else would we expend scarce taxpayer dollars on training and paying pollworkers? Ohio should not pass legislation that tells pollworkers not to do their job.”

HB 194 also overrides an the existing law—passed after the 2004 debacle—that required pollworkers to direct voters to the correct precinct. As the ACLU puts it: “Pollworkers will not be allowed to direct voters to the correct precinct or help them fill out forms correctly, both of which are required for a ballot to be counted. This will lead to more ballots that are not counted, and likely more lawsuits.”

The ACLU adds that HB 194 “…shifts responsibility for fair elections off of taxpayer-paid election officials whose job it is to administer elections, and on to the voters, who have a constitutional right to vote.”

The intent of Governor Kasich and the Republican-dominated legislature in Ohio is clear. Whatever minor detail they can find will be used to prevent Ohioans from voting. As the ACLU puts it, voters are “guilty until proven innocent, by assuming that all errors are voters’ errors.”

In a separate bill—House Bill 159 (see Free Press Article) the Republicans will disenfranchise an estimated 900,000 Ohio voters, primarily Democrats, by requiring a photo ID to vote. Under the bill, an Ohio voter must produce either an Ohio driver’s license, or an Ohio state ID card, military ID, or U.S. passport. IDs with photos and address provided by Ohio colleges or universities are prohibited as well as any ID provided by a county board of elections.

In a courageous move, Republican Secretary of State John Husted has come out against HB 159. In a speech to the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Husted said “I believe if you have a government-issued check, a utility bill in your name with your address on it, that no one made that up, they didn’t call AEP and establish utilities in their name to commit voter fraud. Let’s be clear about this. There are some other forms that are legitimate.”

The League of Women Voters, the American Association of Retired People of Ohio (AARP), Project Vote, and the ACLU all join Husted in opposing House Bill 159. But its passage seems all but assured.

And taken in tandem with HB 194 and the rest of the GOP assault on the ability of working Ohioans to vote, the day when Democrats had any chance of carrying any or all of swing state Ohio may be long gone.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, including HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION, published by www.freepress.org, where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES also appear. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.harveywasserman.com

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Fight Back With Wayne Madsen

Dr. Bob Talks to Wayne Madsen, investigative journalist who traveled to Libya with Bob at the invitation of former congress person Cynthia McKinney.

Wayne has also been published in the Columbus Dispatch.

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Bob and Connie Interview Eriyah Flynn About Veganism

Bob and Connie interview Eriyah Flynn about veganism