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Mayor Ruffner Tackles Blight
From the News-Herald:
As Wickliffe Mayor Thomas Ruffner drives down Euclid Avenue each morning, he can't help but admire the improvements that have been made to the street over the past few years... Ruffner, his administrators and owners of many businesses on the street have worked together to turn it into a town center, complete with new streetscaping, improved signs and colorful planters.
But when Ruffner gets to 29553 Euclid Ave., his smile quickly fades. The former Ponderosa Steakhouse building has been the eyesore of Euclid Avenue - and the monkey on Ruffner's back - for years. With boarded-up windows, overgrown bushes and graffiti scrawled across the front, the building, in Ruffner's mind, is the one thing still holding the city back.
"It's the ugliest thing," Ruffner said. "It's been a longtime nightmare for the city." ...
"On behalf of the residents, business owners, City Council members and passers-by who judge our city by its main street, I implore the owner of the properties in question to immediately tear down your dilapidated buildings so we can all toast a new Wickliffe," Ruffner said. "Euclid Avenue will never be completed without action taken to improve this vital piece of real estate."
The Plain Dealer reports that Congressman LaTourette met with President Bush this week.
LaTourette was among eleven moderate Republicans who met with Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday to discuss the Iraq war. He described the discussion as "frank and candid" but wouldn't divulge specifics.
"I will respect the president of the United States and not be a big blabbermouth," said LaTouretteApparently Bush's long-term Iraq plan is too important to share with the American people.
LaTourette went on to vote to continue the Iraq War. So far 3,380 Americans have died in Iraq and no weapons of mass destruction have been found.
Carol-Ann Schindel Refuses to Go Extra (Quarter) Mile for Constituents
-- Rep. Carol-Ann Schindel --
Last week Perry Schools officials noticed an error in the proposed state funding levels produced by the Ohio Office of Budget Management (OBM). They notified newly-elected Rep. Carol Ann-Schindel (R-Leroy) to seek her help.
Rep. Schindel “called and called OBM […] ” and could not get a hold of someone to answer questions. She could have followed up on behalf of her constituents and gone directly to the Office of Budget Management to demand answers. Instead she gave up and reported to the local press that she couldn’t get her phone calls returned.
Rep. Schindel acts as though OBM is on a different planet when in reality her Columbus office and OBM are in the same government complex and are only 250 yards apart. Simply put, Carol-Ann Schindel refused to walk down the block to get answers for her constituents.
To put this in perspective, this is about the same distance between Dillard’s and JC Penney at Great Lakes Mall. Perhaps OBM could have offered a 10% off sale to coax Rep. Schindel down the street.
NH: Dann Did The Right Thing
Attorney General Marc Dann
From Saturday's News-Herald:
BRICKBATS: To the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which illegally appointed Paul Centolella as its newest member in a closed session Feb. 7. Such appointments are required by Ohio's Open Meetings Act to be made in open session, with the public invited. There's a very good reason for that - it makes government bodies more accountable to you, the people they serve.
Attorney General Marc Dann's office this week sent out a letter demanding that the nomination be undertaken again in open session. Ultimately, it probably won't make much difference, as Gov. Ted Strickland will apparently ask for Centolella to be appointed again, and there's no reason to think he won't be a good commissioner. Regardless, it's a good thing someone is there to make sure PUCO and other public bodies don't ignore the law.
Lt. Gov Fisher Visits Lake County
From the News-Herald:
Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher said Friday that one of his newest goals isLee Fisher previously served as Attorney General for Ohio and is from Greater Cleveland.
for the state to change the way it looks at economic and work force development. Fisher, a political veteran from Cleveland, made his first public appearance in Lake County as lieutenant governor. He appeared as the keynote speaker at LaMalfa Centre in Mentor for a luncheon hosted by the Lake County Economic Development Center. About 200 people were in attendance. His talk came one day after Gov. Ted Strickland made his first Lake County appearance since taking office.
Fisher, who also serves as Ohio Department of Development director, said the state needs to develop a talented work force, and the best way to do that is to better coordinate and improve education. He said prominent companies that are looking to retain or expand their businesses are seeking locations where they know they can find qualified, skilled workers. These companies also want a place where they know their workers will be able to live in safe neighborhoods and send their kids to good schools, the lieutenant governor said. He said the game isn't always best played just by providing tax abatements to companies and promises of new highway interchanges.
"Talent development is the game-changer," Fisher said.
One change in philosophy he cited for the Department of Development is the importance for representatives from the private sector and nonprofit organizations to play a role and be involved when there are internal discussions of how to attract and retain certain companies, he said. Fisher said it is also important for the state to share in the risks that organizations and local governments take to improve economic development.
"No one person is taking the risk alone," he said. "That's the strategy Gov. Strickland wants to do. Over the coming months, the governor and I will reach out to regional economic development leaders. ... It will be our job to tie the threads of the region together."
He said times have changed to the point that economic and work force development needs to be undertaken on a regional basis, rather than by smaller entities and governments.
"In a global economy, we need to compete on a different scale," Fisher said.
He touted Ohio's place as a leader in fuel cell production and said the state is leading that charge to create a new industry. "It's an industry that needs a lot of watering, but the returns could be unlimited," he said.
Governor Strickland Visits Mentor
From the News-Herald:
Visiting Lake County for the first time since taking office, Gov. Ted Strickland hammered home his key proposals for the state budget Thursday at a fund-raiser for state Rep. Lorraine M. Fende, D-Willowick, at LaMalfa Party Center at Holiday Inn in Mentor. Strickland's proposals included a hit list of four basic items: Affordable health care for Ohioans under 21, a constitutional resolution to school funding, more affordable college tuition and economic opportunity that will create jobs and provide living wages. Representative Fende is serving in her second term and is the Ranking Democrat on the Alternative Energy Committee.
The state's economic situation sounded bleak as Strickland said Ohio leads the nation in foreclosures. The funding package he inherited from former Gov. Bob Taft left him with $1 billion-$1.5 billion less than the former administration said he would have, he said. Budgets for the next two years will have the least growth, at 2.2 percent, of any for the past 42 years, he said.
"How do you balance a budget like that and also do new things? I asked the cabinet to scrutinize their departments for every savings possibility," he told the estimated 300 in attendance.
Strickland said he is committed to living within the state's means and concentrating on what really matters. He said if Republican leaders support his proposals, he will make affordable health care available to every child in the state under age 21. His public school education initiative includes increasing the state's share of funding to 54 percent by 2011, thereby reducing property owners' share. College costs were also one of the governor's concerns.
"Since 1996, we've seen an average of 9 percent increase each year in the cost of college tuition in Ohio," he said. "Ohio is 47 percent above the national average in college tuition costs to our young people. In this budget, we are calling for a significant investment in Ohio's education system. I've asked our colleges for zero tuition increase for next year."
Additionally, Strickland proposed:
Although Ohio has lost a significant amount of manufacturing in the past decades, it continues to be the nation's third-greatest manufacturer and is fourth in production of durable goods, he said. The manufacturing base requires energy and Strickland proposed to spend $250 million annually to help fund development of alternative energy sources including wind, bio-diesel, ethanol and liquefied coal.
- That the state's $5 billion tobacco settlement funds be used to expedite school construction projects that are already on the books
- Providing for a smoker cessation program
- Deferring bond debt for the next three years, saving $257 million annually in interest to be used to provide tax cuts to seniors and the disabled.
"We must invest in the things that will break us free from the past and help move an aggressive agenda forward," he said.
Strickland urged the audience to support Fende as she runs for re-election in 2008. He said she has been a good friend and supporter of his agenda in Columbus.
"I think we now have the political will and vision to move forward," he said.
After the event, Fende said the state of Ohio is lucky to have Strickland as their governor.
"He represents working families, cares for seniors and supports a strong educational program," she said. "He is committed to making a positive difference in the state."
Elizabeth Edwards Receives Warm Welcome in Cleveland
From Akron Beacon Journal:
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, was in Cleveland today for her first solo appearance since the couple announced that she has Stage 4 breast cancer.Watch the full speech at WKYC.COM
Her courage was rewarded with two standing ovations at a Cleveland City Club luncheon.
Edwards -- whose cancer initially was diagnosed at the end of the 2004 presidential campaign -- learned that the cancer has moved to her bones.
Even so, her message is one of pushing forward, including continuing to campaign on her husband's behalf [...]
She said her greatest hope is that the thousands of people who sent her emails and letters of support will redirect their kindness and concern to families in their own communities who are receiving the same unsettling news.