Recent news

Huge majorities of Ohioans support broad, convenient voting options

Jun 17, 2020 2:04 PM

A resident waits in line to vote at a polling place. Photo by Scott Olson | Getty Images.

"Among the findings of the poll, which was conducted May 18-21:

  • 89% favor allowing counties to expand the number of early in-person voting locations in each county. 
  • 87% said it’s important to provide in-person voting. 
  • 76% oppose reducing the number of in-person voting locations.
  • 80% said the federal government should provide additional funding to states and counties to cover the increased costs of conducting elections due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • 85% said the state legislature should provide additional funding to counties to handle the increased costs of conducting elections due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

'The poll provides very clear evidence that Ohioans value having options for casting a ballot in a way that works for them and their safety,' the Public Opinion Strategies memo said. 'Ohio voters also strongly believe that the state legislature and US Congress both should provide additional funding to cover the increased costs of conducting elections in the age of coronavirus.'"

-- Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal

read more


Strengthen Ohio Elections

Jun 14, 2020 10:00 PM

Senate Bill 191 is common sense legislation to make our voting process more efficient for voters and election officials, by allowing voters to request an absentee ballot online. As public health concerns persist, Ohio must make improvements to absentee and early voting; no Ohioan should be forced to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot. The bill has had three hearings but is currently stalled in the Senate.

Strengthening Ohio's vote-by-mail system is critical as we head into the fall election. Maximizing the number of Ohioans who vote-by-mail will go a long way to minimizing long-lines at the polls in November. Both the Secretary of State and the Ohio Association of Election Officials strongly support SB191. Secretary LaRose says an online application system can be up and running in three months. We need to push the Senate to act now so this bill is passed before summer recess.

As we saw in the Primary, Ohio's vote by mail system is inefficient, confusing, and cumbersome for voters and election officials alike. Countless Ohioans were cut out of the process through no fault of their own. SB 191 would allow voters to securely request their ballot online -- but we also need other improvements to the bill: prepaid postage for ballots and applications, multiple drop boxes for ballots, and more Early Vote Centers per county, and more.

Contact your Ohio Senator today, and ask them to Support SB 191 and urge Senate leadership to bring the bill up for a vote before summer recess. Time is of the essence!

Step 1: Find your Ohio Senator at this link

Step 2: Call and ask them to support Senate Bill 191, plus other election improvements such as prepaid postage for ballots and applications, and ensuring there are are multiple drop boxes and Early Vote Centers per county.

Here’s an idea of what to say: Hi, this is [NAME], a constituent, calling from [TOWN]. I urge my senator to take action to strengthen Ohio's absentee and early voting systems so we're ready for the November election -- even if there is another health crisis.

I'm urging my senator to support Senate Bill 191 so Ohioans can apply for an absentee ballot online. I also would like my senator to support improvements to the bill including prepaid postage on absentee applications and ballots, as well as multiple drop boxes and Early Vote centers per county.

I also ask my senator to join me in urging the Senate Leadership to bring Senate Bill 191 up for a vote before the summer recess. Thank you!

Thank you for speaking out!


No Climate Justice without Racial Justice

Jun 03, 2020 1:40 PM

Our imperfect union is in turmoil, choking on the deadly long-term effects of systemic racism. So many can’t breathe through the toxins literally and figuratively polluting a culture built on racism and inequality -- a system that relies on the sacrifices of the marginalized many for the comfort of a powerful few.

This systemic bigotry guarantees that every crisis hits vulnerable communities much harder than others. Pandemics. Violence and brutality. Poisonous climates. As Eric Holthaus recently wrote, “Climate change is racist because the system that caused it is racist…. The urgency of climate change is also an urgency for racial justice.” As our democracy finds its way through this fragile time, we must focus on these intertwined issues. And the scale of our collective response must reflect the enormous scale of the problems before us.

Ohio Citizen Action has been organizing people to fight for renewable energy, consumer rights, and government and corporate accountability for 45 years. We recognize both the potential and peril in this opportunity before us, to perhaps finally clear the air of ugly prejudices of all kinds. OCA will do what we do best -- we will organize. We will work to be a reliable ally in this ongoing fight for change. We vow to listen to Black voices and all people of color, to all those that have been too often violently marginalized. Really, truly listen, and hold ourselves accountable as well. You and I were all born into this irretrievably broken system. Rooting out systemic racism requires advocating for broad systemic changes.

Who better to start with than ourselves?

-- Rachael Belz, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action


Listening/Reading resources

First, A Quick Read for White People Who Don't Consider Themselves Racist by Ola Caracola 

Studies from the Racial Equity Institute

Dismantling Racism Works web workbook  DismantlingRacism.org

A Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 'Fed Up'-rising The Root

Black History Month Library list compiled by Charles Preston

A Week of Podcasts for the Advocate New to Climate Justice Alexis Plair

I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Washington Post

White Dominant Culture Components Alliance for Climate Education

Cheryl Holder: The link between climate change, health and poverty 

Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus.  JSTOR Daily

#BlackLivesMatter in Ohio Towns and Villages, Too, Lynn Tramonte, Medium

Anti-Racism for White People, Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020

America, this is your chance, Michelle Alexander, New York Times

 


Crain's editorial: Power failure

May 31, 2020 5:21 PM

Crain's Editorial: Three Things We Like ... | The Fund for our ...

"LEEDCo. is weighing an appeal to the board, and potentially to the Ohio Supreme Court. The state, meanwhile, notes that LEEDCo. and its project partner, Fred Olsen Renewables, could begin operating at night in the eight-month period if they conduct radar studies and provide the power siting board with a bird and bat impact mitigation plan, including a collision monitoring plan. But as Energy News pointed out, there's "no guarantee of a favorable outcome even if monitoring data did not show significant impacts to bats or birds."

Regardless of how you feel about wind energy or this project in particular — as Karpinski points out, there's a lot of "pseudoscience around this issue" aimed at discrediting it — the process here was badly flawed. There's no way the Icebreaker project should have gone this far down the road, with all the energy expended on the development side and by regulatory bodies, to have what amounts to a significant financial poison pill reinserted so late in the process.

Any developer looking at a potential renewable energy venture in Ohio has to think twice about the wisdom of doing so. The message, once again, is that Ohio is not welcoming to renewable projects — a baffling position in a state that has much to gain on the manufacturing side if wind turbines take hold in the Midwest as they are doing now on the East Coast."

-- Editorial Board, Crain's Cleveland Business

read more


EDITORIAL: Gov. DeWine needs to direct energy panel he appointed to reconsider its anti-Cleveland wind energy ruling

May 31, 2020 4:42 PM

The Plain Dealer union is dissolved as Advance Local moves its ...

"Backers of the Lake Erie Icebreaker project have spent years raising money and perfecting engineering plans -- with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Case Western Reserve University, an early NASA wind-energy scientist, environmentalists and overseas investors, along with the city of Cleveland. Aim: to test the economic potential of wind power in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes as a whole.

Greater Cleveland’s leaders understand the economic and job-creating potential and the care with which this project was designed, eight to ten miles offshore of Cleveland, to minimize disruptions for boaters, birders and others.

Project leaders with the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, also had to surmount challenges from winter ice to finding a viable way to supply electricity to the local grid.

DeWine needs to show that he understands this project’s importance, too, by making it clear that his appointees – and that’s who they are, his people – should stop obstructing this renewable energy project."

-- Editorial Board, cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer

read more


Wind Energy decision must be revoked

May 28, 2020 12:21 PM

Ohio’s energy policy under Governor Mike DeWine includes a new “clean air” program that propped up a super-polluting coal plant and an offshore wind farm “approval” that actually blocks the new wind farm.

The Ohio Power Siting Board ruled last Thursday that the Icebreaker Wind project on Lake Erie could move forward, but only if blades on the demonstration project’s six turbines are turned off every night for eight months of the year.

Ohio Power Siting Board’s chairman Sam Randazzo is a longtime representative of the fossil fuel industry and vocal critic of renewables.

This decision has sparked outrage from clean energy advocates and a couple of blistering editorials:

The Columbus Dispatch: Another misguided vote to keep Ohio’s energy dirty

"As long as the state government is controlled by lawmakers who put the fossil fuel industry and its campaign contributions ahead of smart energy policy, Ohio will remain left out of the clean-energy economy of the future."

The Cleveland Plain DealerOhio siting board’s poison pill to kill pioneering Lake Erie wind project shows a state in thrall to major energy interests

"When it comes to energy in Ohio, there’s always a whiff of wrongdoing in the air. And the smell can almost always be traced to the vicinity of Broad and High streets in Columbus, where various state officials have for decades cared more about serving electricity and coal interests than the citizens of Ohio."

At a time when local governments and the state are in financial crisis, Ohio just missed another opportunity to add 500 jobs and $253 million in economic development.

Please ask Governor DeWine to revoke this terrible decision!

Twitter: @GovMikeDeWine

Facebook: @GovMikeDeWine https://www.facebook.com/GovMikeDeWine/

Governor DeWine's Office : (614) 644-4357 or

Send an email by completing the following form: https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/contact


Access to utilities needed during the pandemic

May 13, 2020 3:13 PM

CLEVELAND -  A statewide coalition representing nearly a hundred thousand Ohioans released a new set of demands calling on Governor Mike DeWine and PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo to ensure every Ohioan has access to basic water, power, and broadband internet during the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic fallout.

Gov. DeWine has taken much-needed steps to ensure that Ohioans have access to utilities throughout the state of emergency, but more must be done to guarantee continued access once the state of emergency is lifted and Ohioans try to recover from the current economic crisis. Although many regulated utilities have taken steps to reconnect households in response to the crisis, most of those steps have been voluntary and unenforceable. Most regulated utilities are only deferring reconnection fees, rather than waiving such penalties entirely.

This is a matter of public health: how can you wash your hands without water? This is a matter of public education: how can children be properly homeschooled without access to power and broadband? This is about economic recovery: how can Ohioans keep working from home without adequate utilities?

Without clear and humane statewide guidelines for all utilities, and without a plan to alleviate the financial burden facing households affected by the ongoing crisis, Ohioans face uncertainty about how they will maintain access to essential utility services. State regulators have asked investor-owned utilities to submit a plan to deal with the crisis, but there is no deadline or transparency regarding these submissions. In comparison, the Ohio EPA has ordered that all public water utilities stop shutoffs, reconnect all households and waive reconnection fees.

"Too many Ohio families are on the brink of a fiscal cliff," said Rachael Belz, Executive Director for Ohio Citizen Action, one of 52 co-sponsors of the effort. "As bills for electricity, water, gas, and internet come due, hundreds of thousands of Ohioians who have lost jobs and income due to the crisis are at risk for shutoffs. Without these basic services for all, our economic recovery will be uneven and ineffective. We need decisive action from state policy makers right now."


Public interest groups unite to form Duke Energy watchdog

May 07, 2020 12:19 PM

Public Interest Groups Unite To Form Duke Energy Watchdog

WASHINGTON -- "A coalition of public interest, social justice, watchdog and environmental groups are joining forces to hold Duke Energy, the largest investor-owned U.S. electric utility, accountable for its policies, which impact almost 8 million Americans in six states – and by extension, impede the nation’s progress toward a clean energy future.

The coalition will work to improve Duke Energy’s greenhouse gas emission reductions, transition from fossil fuels to renewables, ratepayer affordability and equity, coal ash cleanup and health impacts, influence spending and more. The announcement of the new coalition comes on the same day Duke Energy holds its annual shareholder meeting.

The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition is a project of Appalachian Voices, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Energy and Policy Institute, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, NC WARN, Ohio Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. (For statements from some of the member organizations, see below.)

The coalition will spotlight work by environmental and consumer advocates, energy experts and frontline communities in states where Duke Energy operates as a monopoly utility. It will provide fact checks on key documents released by Duke, such as its federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings, annual Sustainability Reports and Integrated Resource Plans."

-- Alex Formuzis, Environmental Working Group

read more


Car Protest to Demand Utility Restoration

May 05, 2020 1:07 PM

CLEVELAND -- Wednesday, April 29 saw a well-attended, car-based protest that drew urgent attention to the need  for a utility shutoff moratorium during this pandemic.

How can you wash your hands if you don't have water? How can you homeschool your children if you don't have power and the internet?

Activists from all over the city gathered downtown for a short and socially-distant rally, followed by a protest caravan around the Cleveland Public Power and Cleveland Public Water buildings. More than 50 cars participated, honking horns and bearing signs with a clear message: utilities are a human right.

Ohio Citizen Action and its allies in the End Poverty Now Coalition got the message acrossed to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson that now was a time for compassion and accountability. You can still sign the petition, urging the immediate reconnection of utilities for any residents currently without them, as well as the suspension of penalties and reconnection fees for the duration of Ohio state of emergency and stimulus efforts to drive our economic recovery. 

More photos from the event:


Citizens groups demand aggressive Cleveland utility reconnections

Apr 15, 2020 5:23 PM

End Poverty Now is a coalition of 22 groups in Cleveland that works to address and combat issues of poverty in Cleveland communities. The above photo lists the coalition's demands concerning the utility shutoffs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

CLEVELAND — "Rachael Belz, Executive Director for Ohio Citizen Action told News 5 the coalition has started a petition drive, calling on the city to more aggressively let citizens know they can have service temporarily restored.

Belz said the growing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis is going to have even more residents get behind on paying their utility bills.

'How do they even find out that’s what they’re supposed to do,' Belz said.

'Even sending a postcard or making a phone call or at least try to make a phone call and leave a message.'

— Joe Pagonakis, News 5 Cleveland

read more