Bail Reform in Ohio. What are our Options? a forum on Dec 12, 2019

The flyer is here

Panelists
Judge John J. Russo, Administrative and Presiding Judge, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

Judge Michele D. Earley, Administrative and Presiding Judge, Cleveland Municipal Court

Claire Chevrier, Advocacy Counsel, ACLU of Ohio

Moderated by Nick Castele, WCPN/Ideastream

Bail reform has bipartisan support in Ohio. This forum will discuss why it matters and some of the options being considered to make our courts more fair for everyone.

Nick Castele, WCPN/Ideastream

Heights Public Library Main
2345 Lee Road, Cleveland Hts. OH 44118
Cosponsored by Ideastream, Heights Public Library, League of Women Voters Greater Cleveland and CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Properties, Ltd.

“Women’s Health in Ohio” a forum on Sept 17, 2019


“Women’s Health in Ohio
Tuesday September 17 6:30pm
The flyer is here
The video is here

with panelists:
Dr. Carla Harwell, University Hospitals
Iris E. Harvey, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio
Dr. Amy Hise,  CWRU School of Medicine
Tracy Carter, VP Government Relations, MetroHealth

Moderated by Marlene Harris Taylor WCPN/Ideastream

We’ll explore the state of women’s health in Ohio and the U.S. today and what can be done to improve it.

Ohio is ranked 32nd in overall health rankings for women (and children), according to a 2018 report published by America’s Health Rankings with: *high drug death among women
*low percentage of infants exclusively breastfed for 6 months
*low percentile of publicly-funded health services needs met

 In Ohio, black women are two to three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women while nationwide, American women are 50% more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago.

 And while there has been a shift toward including women in clinical drug trials in the last 25 years, there is still a long way to go in terms of robust representation of women. 

(Good news: for the first time since 2004, more women than men applied to U.S. medical schools. Women were also the majority of matriculants (new enrollees) to medical school for the second year in a row)

The statistics can be alarming, but what can be done to reverse these trends and inequalities? What role do our lawmakers play in our heath?   Where do we go from here?


Marelene Harris Taylor, Ideastream
Lakewood Public Library Main, 15425 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Cosponsored by Ideastream, LWV-Greater Cleveland, CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning and Lakewood Public Library

  

“The 2020 Census: what does it mean for Ohio and Cleveland?” a forum on September 12, 2019

“The 2020 Census: what does it mean for
Ohio and Cleveland?”
Thursday September 12 7pm

the flyer is here
the forum write-up is here
the forum video is here

with panelists:

Lisa Neidert, Univ of Michigan Institute for Social Research

Daniel Ortiz, Policy Matters Ohio

Michele Pomerantz, Cuyahoga County Government

The forum will begin with brief comments from County Executive Armond Budish, Co-Chair of the Cuyahoga County Complete Count Committee of the 2020 Census

Moderated by Rich Exner Cleveland.com 


Rich Exner, cleveland.com

CWRU Siegal Beachwood Landmark Centre
25700 Science Park Dr., Suite 100, Beachwood, OH 44122

Cosponsored by Cleveland.com, LWV-Greater Cleveland and CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning
   

 

Domestic Violence Forum, July 26, 2019 by Julie Hullett

Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights, Alexandria Ruden of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Judge K.J. Montgomery of Shaker Heights Municipal Court, Megen Gergen of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center

Rachel Dissell, moderator, The Plain Dealer

Local experts offer strategies for domestic violence victims
By JULIE HULLETT  The pdf is here

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Lethality tests, advocacy and victim support systems are key to ending domestic violence, according to panelists at a Thursday forum. With a combination of support from legislators, law enforcement agencies and organizations that offer services for victims, the panelists said that more men and women in abusive relationships will survive.

“When there are continuums of care, it’s harder for people to fall in the cracks,” state Rep. Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights said. “If we can engage them at one point and keep them engaged throughout the continuum, then you have a better chance of effectively helping them.”

Other panelists at the forum included:

  • Judge K.J. Montgomery of Shaker Heights Municipal Court
  • Alexandria Ruden of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
  • Megen Gergen of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center

Rachel Dissell, investigative reporter for The Plain Dealer, moderated the discussion. The event, which drew nearly 60 people, was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Shaker Heights, The Plain Dealer and the Shaker Heights Public Library, where it took place.

The forum video is here:

The highlights of the panel are below:

Aisha’s Law

Rep. Boyd spoke on the importance of House Bill 3, known as “Aisha’s Law” that she introduced in the state house in May. The bill is named after Aisha Fraser, who was murdered in Shaker Heights in November by her ex-husband, who was a former state representative, state senator and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge.

This bill would offer additional protections to domestic violence victims, including requiring courts to make restraining orders available at all times and requiring law enforcement to create a separate track for high-risk domestic violence cases.

“Law enforcement has been one of the most supportive groups around the bill because domestic violence calls are among the most lethal for law enforcement,” she said. “They know the people and it’s a revolving door.”

Rep. Boyd said that Gov. Mike DeWine has shown support for this legislation. In the state budget for FY 2020-21, she said that there is a line-tem for statewide domestic violence programs for $1 million per year.

Lethality tests

One of the most important aspects of Aisha’s Law is the lethality test, a method to determine the lethality of a domestic situation. According to Ms. Ruden, the lethality test asks detailed questions so law enforcement can fully understand if a victim’s life is in danger and how to handle the people involved.

The lethality questionnaire asks the victim if his or her abuser is obsessive or has access to weapons. One vital question on the lethality test is whether or not the victim has been strangled. Panelists said that strangulation is a known precursor to more violence. Ms. Ruden said that Aisha’s Law also has a provision that makes strangulation a crime.

“The thing that we’re most excited about is that there is a piece in there on strangulation, finally, working with strangulation and making it a crime—and calling it what it is,” Ms. Ruden said. “It’s not attempted murder, it’s not attempted assault. It’s near-fatal strangulation.”

Victim support

The panelists stressed the importance of offering support and resources for the victims of domestic violence. When Ms. Gergen meets with clients at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, she said that she helps them make a plan, such as where to live and how to support themselves.

Judge Montgomery also said that the advocates are instrumental in keeping the victims safe. She said that victims need to have a code word, so if the victim calls a friend or family member and uses that word, the other person will know to call 911. She also noted that in some cases it is necessary to keep a packed bag when it is time to leave the household.

“If somebody wants to kill you, they’re going to do it,” Ms. Ruden said. “[We need to] educate our victims, and the best way to do that is the lethality assessment because you educate not just the victim, but the community.”

Education to end the stigma

According to the panelists, another challenge with domestic violence situations is overcoming the stigma toward them. Judge Montgomery said that this crime knows no boundaries.

“One of the first things you realize is this is a crime that knows no economic constraints, no ethnicity, no neighborhood,” she said. “It comes from all five of our communities that come into the Shaker court, whether they be the most affluent or the most poor.”

Ms. Gergen said that victims are still stigmatized because their stories are questioned and some may blame the victim. She said that society sometimes asks what the victim did to make her husband hit her, or why she chose to be in a violent relationship.

“There has been an increase in conversations, but it’s still uncomfortable for folks,” she said.

Ms. Gergen explained that education and empowerment are key to overcoming the stigma. She said that it can be easy to identify domestic violence on TV, when a professional athlete is caught in the act on video. But it can be harder to admit that domestic violence is occurring if the suspected abuser is an acquaintance, such as a neighbor or a co-worker.

What can I do?

The panelists offered many opportunities for everyday citizens to get involved to help stop domestic violence. Ms. Gergen advised citizens to get to know their neighbors and check in to see how things are going.

Judge Montgomery said that parents must educate themselves and their children on how to handle difficult situations. Ms. Ruden said that people should be supportive to the victims, and suggested not to get upset with the victim if he or she returns to the abuser.

“It takes a victim of domestic violence seven to 10 times to get out of a battery situation,” Ms. Ruden said. “If you are that support system, don’t turn them away when they go back. At some point, they will get out.”

Rep. Boyd advised citizens to advocate for funding for domestic violence programs and resources at the federal level by calling their congressperson and senator and asking for matching funds and grants in states that are implementing the lethality protocol.

An audience member, Eileen Burkhart of Cleveland Heights, said that the presentation was information but is still waiting for more progress.

“This was a good education piece about what the law is, but we need to come up with a way where domestic violence situations are addressed way earlier than letting them get into court and the legal system,” Ms. Burkhart said. “We don’t catch it soon enough, there’s not enough support out there for victims to get the help they need.”

2020 U.S. CENSUS FORUM: Accurate census vital to Ohio’s future by Julie Hullett 9/12/19

Photo: left to right: Michele Pomerantz, Daniel Ortiz, Lisa Neidert, Rich Exner, mod.Accurate census vital to Ohio’s future
By JULIE HULLETT
SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
The pdf is here
The video is here

BEACHWOOD — Local government officials and activists are doing everything they can to get an accurate count for the 2020 census, which will affect redistricting and funding for various programs and projects, according to a panel of experts.

Lisa Neidert of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Daniel Ortiz of Policy Matters Ohio and Michele Pomerantz, director of regional collaboration for Cuyahoga County spoke on the importance of the census and how they are working to count every individual, in addition to brief comments from county Executive Armond Budish. Rich Exner, data analyst editor for cleveland.com, moderated the panel discussion, which drew a crowd of more than 50 people at the Beachwood Landmark Centre on Sept. 12.

“The county has been putting a lot of resources into this effort because it is so important. We need everyone to be counted,” Executive Budish said, who is also co-chairman of the Cuyahoga County Complete Count Committee.

“So many of the things we do depend on a complete census. We provide Medicaid, SNAP, Head Start, foster care and the resources that come through those programs to people who need it depend on the census.”

The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, The Siegal Lifelong Learning Center at Case Western Reserve University and cleveland.com.

Self-reporting for 2020 census

Ms. Pomerantz noted an important change for the census. The 2020 census is the first one that will offer the option to self-report online or on the phone. In the past, a U.S. Census Bureau employee, known as an enumerator, came door-to-door to gather information or the census was mailed for residents to fill out and return.

“Self-response is the first and preferred way that we ask of those to respond,” according to Susan Licate, partnership specialist at the Philadelphia Regional Census Center.

She explained the process for reporting census information this year. There are four “touch points.” In early March, households will receive the invitation in the mail to respond to the census online or by phone. One week after the first notification arrives, the household will receive a reminder in the mail. If a household still does not respond, it will receive another reminder. The fourth reminder comes as a paper census page in the mail to fill out. After that, an enumerator will come to the door to gather census information, including name, age, race, sex, relation to the head of the household and whether the person rents or owns the home.

Protecting underreported populations

Mr. Ortiz serves as the chairman of the county subcommittee on Hard to Count Communities, including minorities, homeless people and those living in poverty. He said that although the technical process has improved over time, the U.S. still has a history of undercounting certain populations.

“It’s something that’s always been political. There’s a history of people not being fully counted,” he said of the census, which has occurred every 10 years since 1790.

He noted that black Americans were not fully counted until after slavery, Native Americans were not counted until 1870 and Hispanic and Latinx individuals were counted as Mexican in 1930 and then counted with the term Hispanic in 1970. The census committee is looking at ways to target hard-to-count communities to ensure that they are informed and prepared for the census.

Ms. Pomerantz added that after the census is over for regular households, enumerators will spend several days in communities to count homeless people, whether they are on the street or in a shelter.

Earning trust for the census

Ms. Neidert said that it will prove to be a challenge to gain the trust of individuals filling out the census and convince them that the information is necessary for leaders to efficiently govern. Mr. Exner noted that there will not be a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

“Even when the president decides to create havoc about the citizenship question…[committees] are put together with those individuals who already have the relationship so that this continues to be an outpouring of a message that the census is safe to take,” Ms. Pomerantz said.

The panelists said that the challenges arise in finding every person to count and convincing each one that their information is private and will not be misused. Ms. Neidert also noted that following WWII, census data was used for Japanese internment.

Funding the effort

According to Ms. Pomerantz, Ohio legislators did not appropriate additional funds in the biennial budget for the 2020 census.

“If the state of Ohio was to put extra funding in for the census, even just for promotional materials, it would go a long way,” she said. “But we have not seen that funding and we were pretty surprised about that.”

Ms. Neidert said that the state has been “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” and that the money will not be useful if it comes too late. According to Ms. Pomerantz, the county census team has relied on the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation for their philanthropic efforts.

How to get involved

Armed with knowledge by the end of the discussion, attendees asked how they can get involved in the 2020 census. Panelists advised them to spread the word with their family, friends and community neighbors about the importance of the census. The bureau is still seeking enumerators and those interested can gather more information at cuyahogacounty.us/2020census.

Melanie Biché of Cleveland Heights said that she came to the discussion to learn more about the census and gerrymandering.

“I’m very concerned about gerrymandering and I want to understand how the census will impact us,” she said. “I didn’t realize the amount of money that is involved in this. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the census was. Right now I have more questions than answers.”

As for the census itself, committee members and census bureau employees are working to make it as clear and straightforward as possible. They are hoping that the process will be easier to complete with the option of sharing information online or on the phone, according to the panelists. Nada Martinovic, who represents Cuyahoga County at the Philadelphia Regional Census Center, said that people can respond in 12 languages online and 59 languages on the phone, in addition to English online or by phone.

 

Making Sense of Local Judicial Elections a forum on May 7, 2019

Making Sense of Local Judicial Elections
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
7:00 – 8:30pm
Heights Library Main Branch
2345 Lee Road Cleveland Hts 44118
The flyer is here
The handout from the forum is here
The video is here

Panelists
Deborah Coleman, Esq., Chair, Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition

The Honorable C. Ellen Connally, Cleveland Municipal Court (retired)

Judge J.J. Costello, Cleveland Heights Municipal Court

Judge Robert C. McClelland, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas

Moderated by Catherine LaCroix, LWV-Greater Cleveland

Did you know that far too many Ohio voters skip the judicial portion of their ballot? Some call it ballot fatigue, or the SAT effect—but the reality is that most voters don’t know who or what they’re voting for. Our panelists will explain the structure of the Ohio judicial system and the role local judges play in our everyday lives. And they’ll give you the tools you need to research judicial candidates so you can make informed choices on Election Day. Please join us on Tuesday, May 7 – and bring a friend!

Free and open to the public
Cosponsored by
Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University
League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Ltd.

MONEY IN POLITICS:  The impact of unchecked campaign financing and what we can do about it – April 10, 2019


MONEY IN POLITICS:  The impact of unchecked campaign financing and what we can do about it
The flyer is here
The video is here

WHEN:  7-8:30pm, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
WHERE:  Olin Hall, Room 124, University of Akron, 361 Buchtel Common, Akron 44304
MODERATOR:  Bruce Winges, Retired V.P. and Editor, Akron Beacon Journal
PANELISTS:
Cyndra Miller Cole, Lecturer, Bliss Institute for Public Policy, U. of Akron

William D. Rich, Emeritus Professor, University of Akron School of Law; Chairman, Summit County Board of Elections

Catherine Turcer, Executive Director, Common Cause Ohio

ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

It’s been nine years since The Supreme Court issued its Citizens United Ruling. While we know campaign financing has increased exponentially, what we don’t know is where all the money’s coming from.  Dark money, money from non-profit political action committees (PACs) that do not require source disclosures, has become more prevalent in state and local office campaigns.  What can we do, if anything, to shed light and stem the flow.

CO-SPONSORED BY:  The Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, University of Akron; The League of Women Voters of the Akron Area; The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland; Common Cause Ohio

“How Can We Reduce Gun Violence in Cleveland” (when the laws are made in Columbus) a forum on Feb 26, 2019

Tuesday February 26, 2019  7pm
“How to Reduce Gun Violence in Ohio

Here’s the video from the forum

The Cleveland.com preview is here
The flyer is here

Tinkham Veale University Center, CWRU Campus
11038 Bellflower Road, Cleveland OH 44106
Free and open to the public

Moderated by Peter Krouse,
Public Interest and Advocacy Reporter, Cleveland.com

Panelists:
Andrés González, Chief of Police, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

Dr. Lolita McDavid, MD,
Medical Director of Child Advocacy and Protection, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children

Judge Joan Synenberg,
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

Jane Timmons-Mitchell, PhD,
Senior Research Associate, CWRU Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education

This forum takes a non-political perspective and asks a judge, a suicide prevention expert, and a physician for advice on how to reduce gun violence and gun deaths in Northeast Ohio

Co-sponsored by Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Begun Center for Violence Prevention, Research and Education Case Western Reserve University
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Properties, Ltd.

“Voting Rights Forum: What have we learned about how to run elections” a forum on Feb 7, 2019

Thursday Feb 7, 2019 at 7pm
“Voting Rights Forum: What have we learned about how to run elections”
moderated by Rich Exner, Cleveland. com
The video is here
The post forum summary is here
The flyer is here
Facebook/RSVP
Panelists:
•Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State
•Michael Li, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program
•Camille Wimbish, Director, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition

   
Rich Exner, Cleveland.com, Frank LaRose, Ohio Secretary of State, Michael Li, Brennan Center for Justice, Camille Wimbish, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition
CWRU Beachwood Facility: 25700 Science Park Dr #100, Beachwood 44122 
Free and open to the public
Co-sponsored by Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, CWRU Siegel Lifelong Learning, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, LWV-Akron Chapter, Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron, Common Cause Ohio
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate LTD

 The 2020 U.S. Census. Why Does It Matter? Weds April 3, 2019

 The 2020 U.S. Census. Why Does It Matter?
(w/ways we can help to improve the count)

The flyer is here
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

7:00 – 8:30pm
Fairview Park Branch Library
21255 Lorain Road 44126

With Nada Martinovic, U.S. Census Partner Specialist
Free and open to the public

Cosponsored by Lakewood, Bay Village, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Rocky River & Westlake Chapters