Recent news

House Bill 6 referendum effort is dead after group drops lawsuit appeal

Jan 22, 2020 5:14 PM

The Perry nuclear power plant in Lake County

The Perry nuclear plant in Lake County, seen here, and the Davis Besse plant near Toledo will be subsidized starting in 2021 thanks to House Bill 6. On Wednesday, HB6 opponents ended their legal battle to hold a statewide referendum overturning the nuclear and coal subsidy law. (John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer)

COLUMBUS — "The fight to hold a statewide referendum overturning House Bill 6, Ohio’s new law gutting green-energy standards and subsidizing nuclear and coal power plants, is officially over.

On Tuesday, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the group behind the effort to hold the referendum, filed a motion with the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to drop its appeal seeking to gain more time to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the 2020 ballot.

'We couldn’t see a path forward,' said Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, on Wednesday morning. 'I don’t know what anybody else wants to do, but we’re done.'"

—  Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

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Remembering James Thindwa

Jan 22, 2020 11:55 AM

OCA Canvasser Jen Mendoza and James Thindwa at Hudson Bay Canvasser Conference 
The following statement was written by Don Wolcott, President of the Hudson Bay Company, canvass consultants to Ohio Citizen Action. "James Thindwa was an extraordinarily successful and beloved Canvass Director in Columbus Ohio in the early 1990s. We at Ohio Citizen Action will miss him and his thoughtful, passionate and persistent approach to organizing." 
 
"My dearest James Thindwa died yesterday January 19, 2020 after a courageous fight against cancer. His passionate commitment to fighting for social justice and his belief in the power of ordinary people to change their lives, and our world, will live on in the rich legacy he imparted to so many. Born in Harare Zimbabwe in 1955, James later moved with his family to Blantyre Malawi. In what ended up as a permanent move to the United States, James left for Berea College in Kentucky in 1974. There he began his commitment, as an African immigrant, toward identifying and forging solidarity with African American struggles. Upon earning an MA in Political Science from Miami University, and briefly considering a career in academia—and wisely rejecting it—James began his beloved work as a community organizer. Spanning issues from climate justice, to racial justice and the right of workers to unionize, James’ incredible skills at organizing and fighting for social justice touched countless people and communities. From 1985 to 1992 he was staff director of Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana and Ohio Citizen Action. He spent nine years as lead organizer in Chicago with Metro Seniors in Action organizing for national health insurance and mass transit. He served for many years as executive director of Jobs With Justice in Chicago, where he fought in numerous local campaigns, most memorably in the fight for a municipal living wage ordinance. His work with JwJ was featured on a Bill Moyers show in 2009, of which James was very proud.
 
He spent his last years working for the American Federation of Teachers, initially in making unprecedented strides in organizing charter school teachers in Chicago and then in the union’s efforts nationally to strengthen relationships with parents and community organizations. A lifelong activist and champion of human rights, James fought in numerous struggles including the anti-apartheid movement, immigrant rights movement, antiwar movement and many campaigns for racial justice. James was a firm believer in the responsibility of government to tax the rich, defend the rights of workers, provide free health care for all and robust support for the elderly. He refused the lure of cynicism and despair his whole life. He instilled in so many young organizers a fervent belief in the power of personal and social transformation. He served on many boards over the years, including the Illinois Labor History Society and In These Times Magazine, for which he also occasionally wrote.  James loved music, especially Jazz, Soul, Blues, (and Rock and Country!) and a wide variety of the Afro-beat. He occasionally played guitar and drums in beloved South Side clubs and neighborhood bands. James cherished a wide circle of friends in Chicago and across the country and the world. He is survived by his comrade-spouse Martha Biondi, twin brother Jeff in Vienna VA and his wife Lucy; brother Robert in Harare and his wife Rosemary; sister Faith in Blantyre; his aunt, Joyce Kajama in Harare, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Arrangements are private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Crossroads Fund in Chicago, a public foundation supporting the kinds of social justice organizing to which James devoted his life. An ongoing initiative will be created in his honor." 


Final approval needed to move forward on Icebreaker Wind Project

Jan 09, 2020 2:49 PM

Click the photo for the full report about the Icebreaker Wind project, provided by LEEDCo. 
"In 2009, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), a nonprofit public-private partnership, was founded with a vision to make Ohio’s leadership potential into a reality by building a sustainable off-shore wind energy industry in the Great Lakes. Since then, LEEDCo has worked to develop Icebreaker Windpower, Inc., a 6-turbine demonstration wind farm off the Lake Erie coast.

The Icebreaker Wind project is the first of its kind: The first offshore wind facility in the Great Lakes, the first freshwater wind farm in North America, and only the second offshore wind project in the entire US.[2]

Studies conducted by government agencies and research institutions and exhaustive regulatory reviews have shown that the projected economic advantages and minimal environmental impact surpass expectations. In addition to improving Ohio’s air quality, Icebreaker Wind would address our growing vulnerability to climate change and advance Ohio’s position in the clean energy economy. This includes over 500 new jobs, an estimated 253 million in economic impact for the region over the life of the project and an introduction into the multi-billion-dollar offshore wind industry. [2] LEEDCo has also made it an objective to seek out companies within Ohio’s existing manufacturing base to become a part of this new offshore wind energy supply chain.[3] Simply put, with Icebreaker Wind, Ohio would be a national competitor in this rapidly growing market.

For these reasons and more, Icebreaker Wind is publicly supported by a diverse range of groups, including elected officials and local governments, labor and trade unions, universities and business networks, and foundations and nonprofit organizations. Green Energy Ohio has been a strong supporter of LEEDCo and Icebreaker Wind for many years and has provided letters of support in several public and government forums."

-- Green Energy Ohio  

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Stanford engineers develop state-by-state plan to convert U.S. to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050

Jan 03, 2020 5:22 PM

"The study is published in the online edition of Energy and Environmental Sciences. An interactive map summarizing the plans for each state is available at www.thesolutionsproject.org.

Jacobson and his colleagues started by taking a close look at the current energy demands of each state, and how those demands would change under business-as-usual conditions by the year 2050. To create a full picture of energy use in each state, they examined energy usage in four sectors: residential, commercial, industrial and transportation.

For each sector, they then analyzed the current amount and source of the fuel consumed – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables – and calculated the fuel demands if all fuel usage were replaced with electricity. This is a significantly challenging step – it assumes that all the cars on the road become electric, and that homes and industry convert to fully electrified heating and cooling systems. But Jacobson said that their calculations were based on integrating existing technology, and the energy savings would be significant."

-- Mark Z. Jacobson and colleagues, Stanford News

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see the full report


Ohio Supreme Court agrees to weigh in on House Bill 6 referendum lawsuit

Dec 26, 2019 9:55 AM

Ohio Supreme Court building

COLUMBUS — "If Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts is given additional time, another question is whether they should get less than 38 days because their initial proposed ballot summary -- a succinct explanation of the proposal provided to potential petition signers -- was rejected by Attorney General Dave Yost. Yost approved revised ballot summary language a couple weeks later.

The Supreme Court wasn’t required to accept Sargus’ request. But on Tuesday, the court – without comment – agreed to hear it. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts will now have 40 days to file a brief arguing its case, after which the court will schedule oral arguments from each side and issue its opinion.

It’s unclear what the court’s opinion will be. Three justices – Pat DeWine, Pat Fischer, and Judith French – have recused themselves from the case, meaning three state appeals court judges will be temporarily seated in their place."

— Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com

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“Blocker” avoids conviction in clash with House Bill 6 petition circulator

Dec 18, 2019 4:55 PM

COLUMBUS -- "A woman accused of smacking a cellphone from the hands of a man gathering signatures on a petition in Dublin avoided a criminal-damaging conviction by paying a bond forfeiture on the misdemeanor offense.

Stinner Wimberly Shine, 51, of the East Side, on Monday agreed to pay a $150 bond forfeiture in the case, Franklin County Municipal Court records show.

'A bond forfeiture, in a nutshell, involves a defendant paying a bond in exchange for not having to enter a guilty plea to the charge,' Lindsay Weisenauer, a spokeswoman for city of Dublin, wrote in an email.

The deal was offered to her by Dublin Prosecutor Marty Nobile, she said, because the victim, Harold Chung, of Las Vegas, wasn’t available for Monday’s hearing."

-- John Futty, The Columbus Dispatch

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The media was on our side

Dec 17, 2019 10:22 AM

House Bill 6 was supposed to be easy to pass. In the end it took our opposition an extra month and a huge effort to win by just one vote. The media was on our side. The public was on our side. The strength of our members and power of grassroots organizing almost defeated the Goliath of greed and corruption.

It is simply astonishing to see the sheer number of articles, commentary and editorials published against House Bill 6. Not only while the bill was being debated in the legislature, but even after Governor Mike DeWine signed HB6 into law, every major newspaper continued to report on how HB6 is a giant leap backward for Ohio:


FirstEnergy corrupts democracy with gifts

Dec 16, 2019 11:55 AM

FirstEnergy spent millions on advertisements, lobbying and charitable giving to ensure the passage of House Bill 6, corrupting every branch of state government.

Supreme Court

The fate of FirstEnergy's bailout of its struggling nuclear and coal plants may rest in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court.

But six of the seven justices sitting on the court have received campaign cash from the utility at some point in their judicial careers.

FirstEnergy’s PAC contributed more than $78,000 to state Supreme Court candidates since 2010.

source: Toledo Blade

Executive Branch

FirstEnergy gave nearly $23,000 to the campaign and inaugural celebration of Governor Mike DeWine. FirstEnergy also was among DeWine’s top campaign contributors in each of his last three elections (for governor and attorney general).

.

Both Ohio’s Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost received money from FirstEnergy and other utility companies that supported HB 6. FirstEnergy ranked amongst LaRose’s top campaign donors with contributions totalling $25,408. It’s unsurprising, then, that these officials responsible for approving the HB 6 referendum effort would take their time in doing so.

Ohio General Assembly

FirstEnergy poured more than $400,000 into state legislative campaigns during the 2017-18 election cycle that helped create the General Assembly that passed HB6.

source: Toledo Blade

Charitable giving 

on Tuesday, the Energy and Policy Institute released a report, Strings Attached, that notes numerous cases in which recipients of gifts from utilities or their parent corporations provided legislative testimony or regulatory comments favorable to companies’ interests.

FirstEnergy uses philanthropy specifically to manipulate politics, policies and regulation.


Strings Attached: How utilities use charitable giving to influence politics and increase investor profits

Dec 12, 2019 4:11 PM

"Other non-profit organizations have also received funding from FirstEnergy and backed proposals to bail out the utility’s coal and nuclear power plants.

In 2019, Laura Jones, the executive director of Leadership Ashtabula, provided testimony in support of the bill that bailed out the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio, which are now operated by the bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions. 

Leadership Ashtabula also submitted comments to FERC supporting Perry’s 2017 bailout proposal. The group received $4,000 from the FirstEnergy Foundation in 2017. 

Beth Hannam, executive director of the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC), testified in support of the 2019 bailout bill. The SCEDC received $3,000 from FirstEnergy Foundation in 2017.

A metadata analysis found the name of an outside lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions at the Dewey Square Group listed as the “author” of Hannam’s testimony. 

Hans Rosebrook, for FirstEnergy Corp., serves on the SCEDC’s board of directors and capital campaign and strategic plan committee.  
Applicants for grants from the FirstEnergy Foundations are encouraged to contact the local external affairs manager for FirstEnergy for their community. The company’s external affairs managers serve in leadership roles in some of the nonprofits the foundation funds."

-- The Energy and Policy Institute

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download the full report


Nuke plant owner gave to justices

Dec 09, 2019 10:23 AM

COLUMBUS — "The sole member of the current bench who has not received money from FirstEnergy PAC is Democratic Justice Michael Donnelly, elected in 2018.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor received $6,000 from the PAC in 2010; Justice Fischer received $13,400 in 2016; Justice Judith French, $6,700 in 2014; and Justice Sharon Kennedy, a total of $13,000 in 2012 and 2014. Justice Patrick DeWine received $2,700 for a prior lower court campaign in 2012.

All are Republicans.

The Supreme Court’s rules of practice allow for a party in a case to request that a particular justice recuse himself or herself from the case, but it is the justice’s decision whether to do so. Campaign contributions are not mentioned as potential disqualifier.

'Justices have no obligation to state a reason for a recusal, but are free to do so, since it is solely their decision whether to recuse or state a reason,' said Supreme Court spokesman Edward Miller."

— Jim Provance, The Toledo Blade

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