Bill would ‘thwart the will of Ohioans.’ State Ed board independent for reason| Opinion 12/8/22

Bill would ‘thwart the will of Ohioans.’ State Ed board independent for reason| Opinion
“The people of Ohio passed the 1953 amendment to make the state board of education a fourth branch of government,” William L. Phillis, Guest columnist

Oct 12, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; LGBTQ+ allies protest outside the Ohio Department of Education building as the board hears public testimony on a resolution that opposes proposed changes to Title IX, the federal law that prohibited discrimination in schools on the basis of sex. Introduced by board member Brendan Shea, the resolution lays out an "unequivocal opposition" to the Biden Administration's proposal to expand Title IX's protections to gender identity and sexual orientation. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

 William L. Phillis is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and assistant superintendent of public instruction.  He is currently the executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding.

Leaders of the Ohio Senate seem to be inebriated with power.

With a super majority, they do what they want. They are in a position with a super majority in both chambers of the legislature, to overpower the Governor’s office if they wish.

Senate Bill 178 would neuter the State Board of Education by transferring most of the duties of the State Board of Education to the Governor’s office. The move is counter to Article VI, Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution.

In 1953 Ohioans, with a constitutional amendment, removed the state education agency from the governor’s office by establishing an independent state board of education.

A history lesson — which some state officials would ignore — is in order.

Ohio did not have a state school officer until 1837, when the legislature enacted the office of superintendent of common schools and employed Samuel Lewis as superintendent. After three years, Lewis resigned, and the legislature repealed the law which established the position.

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The Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851 called for the common school system.

Delegates debated, but ultimately rejecting the idea of establishing in the constitution a state officer for education.

In 1853 however the legislature enacted legislation providing for a state commissioner of common schools to be elected on a three-year cycle. During the constitutional convention of 1912, delegates crafted language to replace the state commissioner of common schools with a superintendent of public instruction.

Ohioans approved the amendment, and the legislature attached the position to the governor’s office.

In 1953, Ohioans passed a constitutional amendment as follows:

There shall be a state board of education which shall be selected in such manner and for such terms as shall be provided by law. There shall be a superintendent of public instruction, who shall be appointed by the state board of education. The respective powers and duties of the board and of the superintendent shall be prescribed by law.(Article VI, Section 4)

Ohioans removed the superintendent of public instruction and thus the state education agency from the governor’s office.

In the 1990’s Governor Voinovich requested the legislature to allow the governor to appoint State Board of Education members as a means to gain control of the state education agency.

The legislature gave Voinovich the authorization to appoint eight members in addition to the eleven elected members. This action paved the way for a dysfunctional environment that continues to this day.

State officials should restore the state board to an all-elected body to regain the credibility and the respect the state board had from 1956 to the Voinovich era.

The people of Ohio passed the 1953 amendment to make the state board of education a fourth branch of government.

Senate Bill 178 would thwart the will of Ohioans. But that does not matter to some current state political leadership.

The redistricting fiasco is another proof that the will of the people is of no concern to some current state officials.

Senate Bill 178 should be ditched.

William L. Phillis is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and assistant superintendent of public instruction.  He is currently the executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding.

“Past Ohio lawmakers would turn in graves about proposed constitution changes” by Steven H. Steinglass

“Past Ohio lawmakers would turn in graves about proposed constitution changes”
by Steven H. Steinglass, ·

Steven H. Steinglass is dean emeritus at the Cleveland State University College of Law

The link is here

Alternative link

Nov 8, 2022; Columbus, OH, United States; Dylan Bryan stands at a voting machine during the midterm elections at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Tuesday night, in Columbus, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Scheller-The Columbus Dispatch
Nov 8, 2022; Columbus, OH, United States; Dylan Bryan stands at a voting machine during the midterm elections at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Tuesday night, in Columbus, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Scheller-The Columbus Dispatch

One hundred ten years ago, 119 delegates met in Columbus for the state’s most important 20th century political event—the 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention.

A broad array of interests supported the convention to overcome an unresponsive General Assembly. They included the Direct Legislation League, organized labor, municipal home rule supporters, the Ohio State Board of Commerce, liquor interests and the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association.

To avoid a repeat of 1874, when voters rejected a new constitution, the 1912 Convention proposed 42 amendments; voters approved 34 of them.

The most important of the approved amendments involved direct democracy, which includes the constitutional initiative, the statutory initiative, and the referendum.

Ohio’s constitutional initiative permits filing a petition with valid signatures equaling at least 10 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. A proposed amendment then is placed on the fall general election ballot. A majority vote puts it in our constitution.

Ohio and all but two of the 18 states with the constitutional initiative require only a simple majority vote to approve amendments, although three states have very limited supermajority requirements for tax increases, amendments to the legislative article, and proposals to increase the vote to approve amendments.

This guest column is available free: Support the exchange of local and state ideas by subscribing to the Columbus Dispatch.

From 1851 to 1912, Ohio had a supermajority requirement for amendments proposed by the General Assembly. Such amendments, unlike those proposed by conventions, needed a majority of the total votes cast at the election. This policy was a disaster, and 19 of the 26 amendments proposed by the General Assembly but rejected by the voters received more yeas than nays.

The 1912 Convention reformed the process by proposing not only the constitutional initiative but also the elimination of the supermajority requirement; and the voters approved these changes.

Ohio voters have been selective in deciding which amendments to approve. Since 1912 they have approved only 19 of 71 amendments proposed by citizens (27 percent) while approving 108 of 156 proposed by the General Assembly (69 percent).

Secretary of State Frank LaRose now proposes abandoning Ohio’s 110-year tradition of respecting simple majority rule.

His proposal, House Joint Resolution 6, requires amendments proposed by citizen petitions to obtain a 60 percent supermajority vote.

The LaRose proposal would cause the 1912 delegates to turn in their graves. The very purpose of the direct democracy amendment was to allow Ohio’s citizens to bypass an unresponsive and often unrepresentative General Assembly.

LaRose notes that the General Assembly must achieve a three-fifths vote to place a proposed amendment on the ballot.

He then suggests that his proposal somehow levels the playing field. But the 60 percent requirement adopted in 1851 sought to limit the power of the General Assembly, whose abuse of power under our first Constitution contributed to the need for the state’s 1850-51 Convention.

Steven H. Steinglass is dean emeritus at the Cleveland State University College of Law, where he has taught, lectured, and written about the Ohio Constitution for more than three decades. From 2013 to 2017, he served as the Senior policy advisor for the Ohio Constitutional Modernization, and he is the co-author of "The Ohio State Constitution (Oxford University Press)."

Without evidence, he also argues incorrectly that the initiative is responsible for the length of Ohio’s almost 60,000-word constitution.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks about the importance of National Voter Registration Day efforts during an educational session for the news media at the Franklin County Board of Elections in September 2019.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks about the importance of National Voter Registration Day efforts during an educational session for the news media at the Franklin County Board of Elections in September 2019.

Even more bizarrely, he claims out-of-state interests are responsible for abuse of the initiative, and that a 60 percent requirement will encourage amendment proponents to be less partisan and to make alliances.

To add a non-partisan gloss to his proposal, LaRose claims that nine red and blue states have supermajority requirements for citizen-proposed constitutional amendments.

This is misleading. Indeed, even a cursory review of the policies in the states that he identified shows that only Florida actually has a supermajority requirement for all constitutional amendments proposed by initiative.

LaRose and his allies are moving quickly without respect for 110 years of precedent and without the care that should precede any effort to amend Ohio’s foundation document.

Conscientious Ohioans should conclude that LaRose’s proposal is a rushed, poorly researched, and cynical attempt to undercut proposed amendments expected to appear on the ballot over the next two years––proposals to create an independent redistricting commission, raise the minimum wage, and protect the reproductive freedom and health of Ohio’s women.

Steven H. Steinglass is dean emeritus at the Cleveland State University College of Law, where he has taught, lectured, and written about the Ohio Constitution for more than three decades.  From 2013 to 2017, he served as the Senior policy advisor for the Ohio Constitutional Modernization, and he is the co-author of “The Ohio State Constitution (Oxford University Press).”

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Opinion: What would be impact of House Joint Resolution 6?

Steven H. Steinglass is dean emeritus at the Cleveland State University College of Law, where he has taught, lectured, and written about the Ohio Constitution for more than three decades.  From 2013 to 2017, he served as the Senior policy advisor for the Ohio Constitutional Modernization, and he is the co-author of “The Ohio State Constitution (Oxford University Press).”

Great Lakes Science Center marks 25 years, keeps evolving, educating, entertaining, Cleveland.com, September 27, 2022

 

This year, the Great Lakes Science Center marked its 25th anniversary.David Anderson, cleveland.com

Great Lakes Science Center marks 25 years, keeps evolving, educating, entertaining
By Marc Bona Cleveland.com, September 27, 2022
The link is here

 

Candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive: Chris Ronayne and Lee Weingart debate. The City Club of Cleveland 9.20.22

Candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive: Chris Ronayne and Lee Weingart debate.
From The City Club of Cleveland 9.20.22
Chris Ronayne (L), Lee Weingart (R)
moderated by Nick Castele, Ideastream

Watch
The City Club of Cleveland debate between the two candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive: Chris Ronayne and Lee Weingart.
Cuyahoga County voters will vote on a new Executive on November 8, 2022
https://youtu.be/6D8GU4eiCbk?t=35

A bumpy road to regionalism by Jay Miller, Crain’s Cleveland Business 9/19/22

A bumpy road to regionalism
by Jay Miller, Crain’s Cleveland Business 9/19/22

“Regionalism sounds like a disease,” David Abbott, a retired former president of the Gund Foundation, told a group of law students at Case Western Reserve University in April. “I never really liked it for that reason, but also because it’s so hard to define and it’s even harder to apply in the real world.”

Despite his skepticism, Abbott and other civic leaders in Northeast Ohio — past and present — have been trying to think and plan beyond their traditional city and county borders for more than 100 years, not always successfully. The early efforts were focused on providing public services at a lower cost and evolved to include improving the environment, transportation systems, housing and the economy. More recently, civic leaders have been thinking more broadly about regional economies.

People may live in one city, send their children to school in another and work in another county a 60-minute drive away. As important, businesses looking to relocate or open a new operation focus on the infrastructure, available real estate and talent pool in that 60-minute radius.

In 1917, the Citizens League, a government watchdog group that lasted until 2004, proposed creating a metropolitan government for all of Cuyahoga County. At the time, only a few suburbs had been created out of the county’s townships — 85% of the county’s population still lived in the city of Cleveland — and the Citizens League believed a strong county government would lower taxes and improve services.

Similarly, Akron in 1929 annexed the city of Kenmore and the village of Ellet and was unsuccessful in bids to annex Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls before the Great Depression and a change in state law. The communities sought as merger partners typically feared higher taxes and the loss of local identity.

One reason thinking regionally might be making Abbott feel ill is that, for much of the 20th century, Northeast Ohio was not actually considered a region. Instead, it was five cities, and then five metropolitan areas — Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Elyria-Lorain and Youngstown — surrounded by small towns and farmland.

That statistical breaking of borders came about in 1949 when the U.S. Census Bureau created the “standard metropolitan area,” acknowledging that the automobile and its freeways and the expansion of economic activity into suburban areas had created interconnected communities beyond city and county borders.

That led to the creation of organizations such as metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) — which allocate federal transportation dollars — and regional councils of government, which perform a variety of services for member communities. Unlike most regions, Northeast Ohio has four MPOs — the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study, which serves Summit and Portage counties; the Eastgate Council of Governments, serving Mahoning and Trumbull counties; the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which covers Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties; and Stark County Area Transportation Study serving Stark County.

Then came the recession of the early 1980s, when the cities of the Midwest’s Factory Belt turned to rust. Cleveland lost 12,000 manufacturing jobs, and Akron lost 10,000 jobs in its rubber and plastics industry. That led to steep declines in population. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit research group, by 2007, Cleveland had lost 28.9% of its 1980 population while Akron lost 14.9%, Canton lost 26.4% and Youngstown 40.3%.

At first, after the recession, communities continued to focus on finding more local tax dollars. In Summit County, Akron pushed legislation through the state legislature in the early 1990s that allowed a city to join a development district with a township. The new structure was called a Joint Economic Development District, or JEDD. Since Ohio townships can’t levy income taxes, the JEDD allows the two communities to share the tax revenue on commercial development in the township.

Those consolidations of public services are still few and far between because many communities continue to see collaborations, where their name may be obscured by a bigger name community, as a loss of local identity and independence.

In 2002, regional business leaders, led by the late H. Peter Burg, then chairman and CEO of FirstEnergy Corp., began talking about creating a nonprofit that would bring together economic development efforts in Northeast Ohio. “The time for a more regional approach may have been right for some time, but we didn’t have the vehicle to drive it home,” Burg told Crain’s at the time. Rather than emphasize the virtues of particular cities or counties to businesses in and outside Northeast Ohio, Team NEO would sell as a single market the 13 counties in the new group. “Our focus is to find what companies need and then find where in the region that need can be met,” Burg said.

Among the groups that helped shape and fund the new organization, which opened shop in January 2003, were the Greater Akron Chamber, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, the Stark Development Board and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. The 13 counties in the region were Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne.

Team NEO focused only on attracting businesses to the region, leaving local chambers of commerce and public development agencies to help existing businesses in their areas expand. But it didn’t work out as planned, Crain’s reported in 2011, as public officials and local economic development organizations resisted giving up their role as leaders for their communities’ business attraction. “It was passive aggressiveness done in a beautiful fashion,” Ned Hill, dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University at the time, said recently.

About the same time, in 2004, a group of 28 philanthropies and businesses committed $30 million to create a nonprofit, the Fund for Our Economic Future, to build stronger ties between the shrinking cities and the region, and to shake off the rust. “We’ve been individual cities, competitive with each other, very parochial, and that doesn’t sell in the 21st century,” said Robert Briggs, then president of the GAR Foundation in Akron. Specifically, the Fund began with aspirations to be the place where regional economic strategy — looking at issues such as stimulating entrepreneurship and improving transportation links and higher education — was hashed out. But that didn’t pan out.

“I think when the Fund first got started, it was trying to be the keeper of the regional strategy with a portfolio of economic development (projects), but it was just too unwieldy,” said Brad Whitehead, who served as the Fund’s president from its founding in 2004 until 2020 and is now a senior adviser. “We have thriving sector partnerships (in areas such as manufacturing) that are sub-regional but there’s not an (overall) strategy.”

However, the Fund has built a strong reputation for its work in building the skills of job seekers and connecting them with well-paid, in-demand jobs. And though it considers itself a regional organization, current Fund president Bethia Burke considers its partners on workforce issues to be local organizations.

“Workforce services aren’t delivered regionally, nor I don’t think they should they be,” she said. “But what I think has been useful is we share (ideas on) what makes local workforce delivery better.”

In 2011, Team NEO was able to firmly establish itself as the principal manager of economic development in Northeast Ohio. Then Gov. John Kasich created JobsOhio, his vehicle for channeling state incentives to induce businesses to invest in Ohio. JobsOhio then sought existing regional organizations to be its partner around the state. It chose Team NEO to oversee economic development for 18 counties, only slightly more than was planned for the original Team NEO. The added counties were Ashland, Erie, Huron, Richland and Tuscarawas.

“Companies choose to invest in Northeast Ohio because of the critical mass that exists within the 18 counties — an integrated supply chain, 7,700 manufacturing companies, 25 higher education institutions and a $240 billion economy,” said William Koehler, Team NEO’s president since 2015. “The question then is: How do we take advantage of the focus people have and their desire to invest in (their) communities, while also challenging them to lift up their eyes and recognize there are some things that are better-off if they’re leveraged regionally?”

Team NEO gained clout among the region’s mayors and economic development professionals because, as one of JobsOhio’s six regional partners, it would hold the strings on the $100 million business-attraction purse that Kasich was creating from state liquor profits to invest in business attraction and job creation. So most, but not all, local officials applauded the move.

Bob Bowman, then deputy mayor of Akron for economic development, didn’t jump on the bandwagon, not understanding how a nonprofit organization could put together the kinds of deals he was doing. “I don’t know how somebody from the private sector puts together a public deal,” he told Crain’s, conceding that politicians would be unhappy not being the center of deals. “Who gets the credit? The state always wants credit, and now the region will want credit, which was not involved until now, and there’s also the local level and all the people in between.”

Northeast Ohio, like much of the Rust Belt, continues to lag the national economy. But observers are optimistic that with Team NEO playing its regional role, the region and its communities are making headway.

Ward J. Timken Jr., former chairman, CEO and president of North Canton’s TimkenSteel and a member of the Team NEO board of directors, believes the region’s civic leaders, who he calls “leados,” and Team NEO are meshing well.

“I think all of the leados that I have been involved with through Team NEO are doing a great job,” he said, noting that many of the key regional organizations have gone through leadership changes in the last few years. “I think they’re cooperating, which is really, really important. Everybody is rowing in the same direction right now, which is great.”

Another civic leader who did not want to be named said he is more skeptical that the region is working well together, but he is hopeful.

“I’ve watched for years as the chambers have just stuck their middle fingers up at Team NEO, because as much as they need Team NEO, Team NEO needs them,” he said. “But it looks like (Bill Koehler’s) got them working together.”

Updating the list of Cleveland’s most influential people: Brent Larkin July 17, 2022

In 1998, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, left, won election to Congress to succeed legendary U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, right, who shared the delight of her victory. In his column today, Brent Larkin adds Tubbs Jones, who died in office in 2008, to his expanded list of the most influential Clevelanders The Plain Dealer orginally published in 2007, and moves to “right a wrong” by adding Lou Stokes in his own right to the original list.
Updating the list of Cleveland’s most influential people: Brent Larkin
July 17, 2022
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The original 2007 article:

The Plain Dealer’s 2007 list of the most influential Clevelanders in history
The link is here

11 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby arrived By Frederic J. Frommer/Washington Post July 5, 2022

 

Larry Doby threw out the first pitch before the 1997 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

11 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby arrived
By Frederic J. Frommer/Washington Post July 5, 2022
Team owner Bill Veeck recalled receiving 20,000 letters after signing Doby, “most of them in violent and sometimes obscene protest. Over a period of time I answered all. In each answer, I included a paragraph congratulating them on being wise enough to have chosen parents so obviously to their liking.” “Signing Doby was Veeck’s first defining moment as a major league owner,” wrote Paul Dickson in “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.” The move “gave him a voice as a progressive and social critic.”
The link is here