Fourth Of July In Lakewood, Ohio

On the July 4, 2017, a dream came true. I experienced what a national holiday could be like. In Germany, my country, October 3 is not a day filled with celebration and events. It's not a day where everyone hangs up a large German flag. And it's not a day that makes us Germans feel like a proud community. To be honest, all of these things would see very strange to me, although that doesn’t mean that I would like to try some of them. However, I can't imagine having a day like this in my home country.

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:25 PM, 09.19.2017

Senator Skindell Introduces Bill To Reinvigorate Wind Industry In Ohio

Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) recently introduced Senate Bill 184, which would return wind farm setback standards to what they previously were before the passage of House Bill 483 in 2014. 
The standard established in House Bill 483 was inserted in the bill at the last minute and had no public hearings.  The legislation more than doubled the distance wind turbines have to be from “the nearest, habitable, residential structure.”  The change significantly reduced the number of turbines that could be placed in a wind project.
“Current restrictive setback standards have created a barrier to wind development in Ohio,” said Senator Skindell. “Since 2014, our state has seen a sharp decline in the number of new wind farm applications. Because of such stringent standards, we have lagged behind neighboring states, losing out on local economic development and jobs for our communities. Ohio should be embracing the renewable energy industry and securing clean energy for our future.”
Senator Skindell’s bill would simply measure the setback distance from the nearest habitable residential structure rather than the property line.
Many of the biggest companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook have made renewable energy a priority when looking for places to expand. In 2016, a representative from Amazon, John Stephenson, testified to the House Public Utilities Committee that the current requirements “have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio.”

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 12:35 PM, 09.06.2017

Candidate For City Council Meghan George Hosting Fundraiser In September

Meghan F. George, candidate for Lakewood City Council At-Large, will hold a fundraising event on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at Merry Arts, 15607 Detroit Ave. The event is from 5 to 7 p.m., cost $30. Everyone is welcome to meet the candidate and renew old friendships and make new ones.

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 12:35 PM, 09.06.2017

Local And National Endorsements Praise Tristan Rader For City Council

Local groups, national organizations and regular people alike are endorsing Tristan Rader’s candidacy for Lakewood City Council At-large.

AFSCME Council 8 became one of Rader’s first official endorsements, in July. AFSCME represents nonprofit and public employees, including correctional officers, school employees and health care workers.

Rader has emphasized the importance of high-quality public services, and says the endorsement by AFSCME is a welcome vote of confidence. “Instead of privatizing important services with poor accountability, we need to have proven, union professionals doing work we can count on,” he says. “AFSCME represents people who keep our communities running, and I’m honored by their support.”

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 12:35 PM, 09.06.2017

Gerrymandering: A Threat To Representative Democracy

The 19th century brought us President Abraham Lincoln, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, philosopher Henry David Thoreau, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and artist James Whistler - people who positively contributed to the world in which we live today.

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 12:35 PM, 07.18.2017

Get Involved, With Action Together Lakewood Area

Volunteer, grassroots activism is on a rebound in 2017. In big and small communities, ordinary people are taking on the challenge to "think globally, act locally." Figuring out how to do so has required a lot of improvisation.

Action Together Lakewood Area is a good example. The group has sponsored educational programs, community events and political advocacy projects; it holds meetings and has social media accounts. Despite which the structure of the group remains a bit loose, says Lakewood resident Sara Ridley.

Ridley founded Action Together Lakewood Area, essentially. Along with Sarah Kepple, she's now leading ATLA. But she didn't really plan on either role. After last November's election, members of the "Pantsuit Nation" Facebook group began forming local networks which eventually adopted the "Action Together" theme. As Ridley notes, even regional groups would have been too large "because 2,000 people couldn't meet" for an effective discussion.

So she posted a simple question: Does anyone in Lakewood want to meet? "I was expecting maybe 20 people," she recalls.

Instead more than 150 replies followed. When the group first met in December, at Lakewood's library, they talked for more than two hours.

The library's no-beverages policy made it something of an ordeal, an example Ridley cites when explaining how everything has been a learning process. "I think there was an assumption that I knew what I was doing," she says. People began asking her permission to pursue this or that idea; usually "I said yes, go!"

The loose approach has worked out, so far. Other Action Together groups describe themselves as a network of people, more than an organization, and Action Together Lakewood Area has readily played a supporting role in events and campaigns. Its members are active in collecting signatures for a redistricting reform measure promoted by the League of Women Voters, for example.

But Action Together Lakewood Area has found its own rhythm, also, balancing education and activism. Meetings tend to focus on learning, with a well-attended April event on refugees and immigration being one of ATLA's highlights so far.

Getting informed helps with outreach, Ridley says, whether calling a Senator's office or sharing information with the public. In June, the group took up stations outside of Lakewood's and other local libraries, alerting people to proposed cuts to library funding. Along with related efforts nationwide, public pressure succeeded in preventing most of the cuts.

In July, the group held a picnic to recharge. (Even there, several members were busy circulating redistricting petitions, or talking with passersby about pending healthcare legislation.) After looking back over Action Together Lakewood Area's first several months, Ridley briefly discussed possible future activities. Overall, though, she said that the group will remain flexible in trying to accommodate anyone who wants to get more involved. She had recently heard from a woman, for example, who wanted to know if Ridley had ideas for how she might remain active while recovering from recent hip surgery.

The answer was definitely "Yes." Which likely sums up the core mission of Action Together Lakewood Area: there is no fixed format or program, but if you want to help make a difference, ATLA will help you find a way.

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Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 5:08 PM, 08.01.2017

LECPTA's Fall Baby & Big Kid Resale Event Is Quickly Approaching

The Lakewood Early Childhood PTA (LECPTA) is once again planning its popular children's resale of gently used children's clothing (sizes newborn to 10), furniture, toys and other items. The Baby Bargain Bonanza (BBB) is planned for Saturday, September 9th at Garfield Middle School, which is located at 13114 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. The sale is open to the public and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Admission is $5 from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. and just $1 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 5:08 PM, 08.01.2017

Senator Michael Skindell Comments On State Budget Vote

Last week, State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) voted “No” on Amended Substitute House Bill 49, known as the state’s biennial operating budget. Among many concerns, Senator Skindell cited the disinvestment in people and communities and the continuation of tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy as areas where the bill fell short.
“The evidence is clear that there is no Ohio miracle but rather an Ohio calamity,” said Senator Skindell. “The LLC tax loophole created in 2013 and expanded in 2015 has created a massive fiscal hole. This year alone, the budget hole stands at $840 million dollars, and is apparently growing. Ohio's finances are shrinking. The current imbalance is comparable to the imbalance we faced earlier this decade, largely caused by the 2005 tax giveaway.”
During the budget debate, Senator Skindell advocated for greater state investment in need-based financial aid for college students, quality childcare programs, K-12 education, public transportation and senior programs like Meals-On-Wheels. Senator Skindell noted that past disinvestment in higher education has made Ohio one of the most costly places for students to go to college. He also expressed concern that many schools in the 23rd Senate District would experience a cut in state funding under the budget bill.
Continuing cuts and diversions from local government funding also prevented Senator Skindell from supporting House Bill 49.
“Recent state budgets have not provided the Local Government Fund with the stable and predictable funding source they need to be able to provide critical services to their communities,” said Senator Skindell. “State action has resulted in extraordinary cuts to the revenues collected by our counties, cities, and townships. Meanwhile, the ability of county and city officials to pay for services with locally raised taxes have been hampered.
“In the simplest of terms, the budget we are asked to vote on today offers short-sighted, short-term solutions for long-term problems, such as the lack of meaningful investment in working families, lack of meaningful investment in our communities, and lack of meaningful investment to increase the opportunities of all Ohioans. Once more, the wealthy and big business will fare far better than working families under this budget.”
The bill will now move to Conference Committee to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate.

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Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 3:03 PM, 07.05.2017

Town Halls Come To Lakewood

All of Lakewood is invited to a series of Town Hall meetings, beginning June 10.

City Council At-large candidate Tristan Rader says the events will focus on learning what is important to Lakewood citizens. “I’m interested in an open discussion on the issues,” he explains, “I'm dedicated to not just listening to people but to getting more people involved.”

Each Town Hall will open with brief introductory remarks, with progressive activist and former state Senator Nina Turner planning to address the Ward 4 Town Hall on July 8. Rader says Turner is an inspiring advocate for the kind of citizen-led change he wants to encourage, and that he’s honored to welcome her to Lakewood.

As pleased as he is about Turner, Rader emphasizes that local community is the Town Halls’ true centerpiece. “Elected officials and candidates get many opportunities to share our ideas and concerns,” he says. “I want to give other people a platform.”

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 12:39 PM, 06.06.2017

Senator Skindell Casts Vote To Certify Congressional Redistricting Ballot Issue

On May 30, 2017 State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood), in his role as a member of the State Ballot Board, voted to certify a proposed constitutional amendment to change Ohio’s system of drawing congressional districts. The vote, which was unanimous, means the group backing the proposal can begin collecting signatures to place the issue on the ballot next year.
“The gerrymandering of our state’s congressional districts creates more partisanship that undermines our ability to find common ground on issues affecting Ohioans on a daily basis,” said Senator Skindell, who made the motion for the board to certify the ballot issue. “I am pleased Ohio voters are a step closer to having the opportunity to decide if it is the right time to make reforms.”
The proposal is modeled after a ballot issue voters approved in 2015 that changed the process of drawing Ohio’s state legislative districts. That plan created a seven-member bipartisan commission made up of legislators and statewide elected officials, and set new guidelines for drawing maps to limit gerrymandering.
The group pushing for the congressional redistricting ballot issue will need to collect 305,591 valid signatures of registered voters from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties to qualify for the ballot.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 12:39 PM, 06.06.2017

Ohio House Pushes Unfinished, Unbalanced State Budget Off On Senate

Before new state economic indicators came out, the Ohio House today passed a version of the state’s two-year budget, House Bill (HB) 49, that remains hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance, if not more. The vote comes a little more than two weeks after Gov. Kasich and GOP legislative leaders announced they would need to cut close to $1 billion from the bill to maintain a stable, balanced budget. Still, the final version of House Bill 49 approved largely along party lines today fell over $400 million short of being a balanced budget bill by that standard.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 3:01 PM, 05.16.2017

Refugee Resettlement Challenges And How To Help Locally

The life of a refugee involves tremendous difficulties, which misunderstandings and ignorance only make worse. Lakewood resident Kerissa MacKay helps address these challenges, as a local program coordinator for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). On May 25, MacKay will speak about her work, refugees’ lives, and ways that all of us can help.

MacKay will explore resettlement in the U.S. during a presentation to the Lakewood Democratic Club. She will relate some of the struggles and personal experiences of refugees, before and after resettlement. Her presentation will provide insight into

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 3:01 PM, 05.16.2017

Rose Iron Works - Hidden Cleveland Gem

Overlook Park Neighborhood Association had the wonderful opportunity of taking a field trip of sorts to Rose Iron Works on E. 43rd St. in Cleveland. For over 100 years, Rose Iron Works, a family business, has been known for exceptional quality decorative metalwork. Together with industrial metalworking (started during the Depression to make ends meet), their products range from traditional to Art Deco and Contemporary styles. 

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 4:19 PM, 05.02.2017

Senator Skindell Introduces The Retail And Restaurant Employee Rights Act

State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) has introduced Senate Bill 101 to provide struggling employees with predictive scheduling and fair treatment in the workplace. Ohioans are known for their hard work ethic and dedication to their jobs. The Retail and Employee Rights Act is necessary to pay Ohio workers the same respect that they put into building a stronger and greater Ohio.
In today's post-recession economy, many large retailers are employing part-time workers at relatively low wages, forcing many employees to work multiple jobs. At the same time, retail employers are utilizing "just in-time" scheduling practices and changing schedules the "day of" an employee's work shift. These practices make it difficult for the employees to hold that crucial second job. Employees can only work for multiple employers if they have predictability in scheduling and are treated fairly. The bill also covers workers in fast-food restaurant franchises.
"Predictive scheduling protects our most vulnerable workers, those who need to rely on more than one job – either part-time or full-time – to make ends meet,” said Deb Kline, Director at Cleveland Jobs With Justice. “It is impossible for a low wage earner to seek more than one place of employment unless they know the hours their employers are going to require them to work. Erratic scheduling also negatively impacts workers in need of childcare or those who have become caretakers of aging or disabled family members. Cleveland Jobs with Justice hopes that the Ohio Legislature will take action now to protect our workers by passing predictive scheduling."

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 5:10 PM, 04.04.2017

Senator Skindell Celebrates National Sunshine Week, Recognizes Need For Access To Public Information

This week, State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) recognizes National Sunshine Week and the importance of access to public information. This year, Sunshine Week takes place from March 12th-18th. It brings together nonpartisan organizations to inform Americans about public records laws in government. The week’s events focus on accountability, transparency, and open dialogue to foster an environment where government works for the people.
“Transparency helps hold our public officials accountable. It provides valuable information for citizens to make informed decisions about their legislators,” said Senator Skindell. “Open government is the cornerstone of our democracy.”
Senator Skindell has taken the issue of government accountability and transparency very seriously throughout his career in public service. In 2014, he worked to pass Senate Bill 270, which requires the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to post inspection and compliance reports for service providers online. Allowing families to easily access these reports helps them make the best decisions for the care of their loved ones.
In 2015, Senator Skindell introduced a bill to clarify that public money paid from a charter school to an operator or management company still retains its status as public money. This bill was accepted as an amendment into another bill and signed into law. Previously, the Ohio Supreme Court had decided that Ohio law lacked language to keep these dollars public, and ruled that for-profit operators could sell property and keep the funds. With the passage of HB 2 and Senator Skindell’s provision, taxpayer dollars are safeguarded in the event of a school closure.
“Public trust can only be earned when the sun is allowed to shine upon government dealings. Our public officials must turn on the lights, open the shutters and raise the blinds,” Senator Skindell added. “Only sunshine will guard our public assets. Only transparent government will protect the people's interests. Only accountability will restore public trust. “


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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 8:14 PM, 03.21.2017

College Students Lose Exemption From City Income Tax

Lakewood students away at college must file city income tax returns, this year, as a result of new policies adopted in late 2015.

Prior to the revised policies, students living in Lakewood for less than 16 weeks of the year could simply file a Declaration of Exemption. Beginning with the 2016 tax year, however, this changed, and the city’s new Declaration of Exemption omits the line for students.

Lakewood’s government points to state legislation as the reason behind this change. The 2014 HB5 measure imposed a number of changes on municipal income tax. Finance Director Jennifer Pae says that Lakewood considered at length what local revisions this required.

“In response to the uniformity changes at the State level, the City of Lakewood reviewed its income tax ordinances during 2015, and using recommended language developed by the Ohio Municipal League, revised the city's ordinances… to be in compliance,” Pae said in an e-mail.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 8:14 PM, 03.21.2017

Senator Skindell Introduces Transportation Funding Bill

This past week State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 61 to increase state funding to public transportation. The bill would increase General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars for the remainder of this current fiscal year by $5 million. In the upcoming biennium budget, it would increase the public transportation line item to $25 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. It would also increase the use of federal flex funds in the public transportation budget to $50 million in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. 
The use of General Revenue Fund (GRF) dollars has radically decreased from $44 million in 2000 to $7.3 in both Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 in the last biennium budget. Currently, the use of federal flex dollars for public transportation is only at $10 million per year.
“Public transportation in this state is quite underfunded, with Ohio ranking 47 out of the 50 states. The demands of younger Ohioans, coupled with the increased needs of our low-income and senior citizens, make such low funding unsustainable," said Senator Skindell. "Many low-income workers rely exclusively on public transit to keep a stable job. But these jobs are not exclusively located in urban areas, nor are the people who most use public transit. By providing a more robust system, the state can more adequately promote self-sustainability and independence. A better investment in affordable public transportation will best serve the needs of all citizens."
“The proposed bill to flex $50 million in highway funds to help replace bus vehicles is welcome news to RTA and all transit systems in Ohio,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and General Manager of Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). “Across this state, more than $400 million is needed today to replace outdated vehicles. It’s critical that this bill obtains widespread support.”

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 6:18 PM, 03.07.2017

Senator Skindell Introduces Income Tax Reform Bill to Assist Struggling Ohioans

COLUMBUS - Today, Senator Michael Skindell (D–Lakewood) introduced Senate Bill 35, which reforms Ohio's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to assist struggling Ohioans.  When passed in 2013, after years of advocacy by Senator Skindell, Ohio's EITC contained a cap and was not refundable.  Senate Bill 35 makes the tax credit stronger by removing the income restrictions and making it refundable.
“The goal of this proposed legislation is to allow for a refundable tax-relief benefit to working families in Ohio, particularly lower-income households.  It is imperative that we provide these families who work so hard and still struggle to pay bills a fair shot in our economy,” said Senator Skindell.
The EITC currently exists as a credit for taxpayers whose Ohio adjusted gross income exceeds $20,000. The state credit equals 10% of the federal EITC. Ohio's EITC cannot currently exceed 50% of the tax due.  The credit is also nonrefundable, thus it can only result in a reduction or elimination of tax liability, not a refund.
The existing provisions make our state EITC one of the weakest in the nation. Removing the income restrictions and making the EITC refundable would boost family income and assist poor communities by stimulating local economies. When low-income families receive their refund checks with an EITC, they purchase groceries, childcare, school supplies and other goods and services. This not only helps the families, it also boosts the local economy. 

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:40 PM, 02.21.2017

St. Mark On Track To Raise $50K For Pediatric Cancer Research

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, will host one of its signature head-shaving events for the fourth year at St. Mark School in Cleveland on March 10, 2017, where nearly 100 students, staff, parents, and other family members will shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money to conquer childhood cancers.

St. Mark last year raised $49,552 and this year organizers hope to hit $50,000. The school is nearly a halfway to meeting that goal. In the past three years, St. Mark has raised $145,000 for pediatric cancer research. Besides soliciting donations from the community and local businesses, participants are also holding bake sales and restaurant fundraisers in support of St. Baldrick’s and the Shave Your Mane event. Hair salons such as Sports Clips Illusions Unlimited, Dante Lucci are donating stylists to shave the manes.

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:40 PM, 02.21.2017

Rep. Antonio Again To Serve As Top Democrat On House Health Committee

As your State Representative, it is an honor to serve house District 13, consider the many views and interests of our diverse and vibrant community and bring your voice to the Statehouse in Columbus. We know that the laws made in Columbus have a direct impact on our lives in Lakewood. To help make the lawmaking process more efficient and thorough, pieces of legislation, once introduced and then assigned to issue-specific committees, are vetted through committee hearings where testimony and expert opinion on each bill are presented. 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:24 PM, 02.07.2017

Our Friend Dennis Petkac Has So Much To Live For!

Our friend Dennis is a longtime Lakewood resident and owner of Elements Hair Studio on Madison Ave. He’s also dad, a husband, and a pretty damn good musician. Most of all Dennis is a kind, sweet, jovial, creative and generous dear friend to many who are lucky to know him and call him friend. He’s also THE best damn story-teller you'd ever want holding court at your party.

2016 was somewhat of an unpleasant year for many and it hit Dennis, his wife Karen and son Olliver especially hard. Beginning some years ago, Dennis and his family have had to overcome several misfortunes which in recent years included some serious family health issues, an abrupt lease termination to his business Elements Hair Studio and a fire to a building under renovation which was to be the new Lakewood home to Elements Hair Studio. Through all these and other hardships, I and many who know Dennis have watched him take it all on and get right back up with few complaints. More striking than each episode of adversity has been seeing Dennis face it all down with few complaints and a casual, confident attitude of just knowing that somehow things are going to be even better. We could all learn something from this.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 2:16 PM, 01.24.2017

Renewable Energy Power-Up For Northeast Ohio

You’re purchasing a lot more renewable energy this year, most likely, thanks to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC).

Beginning this month, NOPEC member cities including Lakewood are changing their default electricity supplier, from FirstEnergy Solutions to NextEra. It’s a nearly invisible transition for the individual household; bills still arrive from The Illuminating Company, rates aren’t increasing, and there is no action to complete. Unless you opt out of it, your electric bill payments automatically go toward 50% renewable power, now.

This places NOPEC and its membership well ahead of Ohio’s current goal—which recently went back into force after a two-year “freeze”—of 12.5% electricity from renewable sources by 2027. The partnership with NextEra effectively leapfrogs that goal in replacing FirstEnergy Solutions, which supplied renewable content of only a few percent.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 2:16 PM, 01.24.2017

Twilight's Last Gleaming

As I write this, we are less than 21 hours until the Trump Regime takes over in Washington. As I posted on November 9, I fear that there will be dark and troubled times.

In recent weeks it has occurred to me that Lakewood is a preview of Trump's Administration. There are many parallels between Team Trump and Team Summers. So perhaps we shouldn't be too alarmed by Trump...We have already seen many of his tactics locally. As the Bible says, "There is nothing new under the Sun."

Here are some of the parallels I've noticed.

*Both Summers and Trump are members of the "Lucky Sperm Club," comprised of heirs that inherited the family business from their parents.

*Despite acquiring their wealth via family, both have convinced voters that they are "smart businessmen."
*Both ran campaigns touting themselves as "successful businessmen" running against "career politicians."

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 1:46 PM, 01.24.2017

Our First Stand To Save Health Care

Sunday, more than 400 people came to the SEIU 1199 headquarters on E. 30th St. to rally and protest together- to stand up and demand that healthcare should be a right! The first round of applause went to the first speaker Steve Holecko of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC), “We will not be satisfied when healthcare is merely protected; we want universal care!” Dave Pavlick of the Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) and Representative, D-District 13, Nickie Antonio also delivered remarks about moving towards a Medicare for all or single payer model and fighting back against Medicare voucher programs. 

The Northshore AFL-CIO teamed up with CCPC to sponsor the event which was called for by three of the top democrats in the country: Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Columbus and Akron also had similar events and many more were happening all over the country. At the meeting, we collected over 100 hand-written narratives regarding the importance of our healthcare that will be sent to Rob Portman this week.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 1:46 PM, 01.24.2017

Antonio: Complex Bridge Rehab Project Moves Forward

Last month State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced the release of $345,287 in state funding to complete construction contract plans for the rehabilitation of the State Route 176 southbound bridge over Interstate Route 71 southbound in Cuyahoga County. The Controlling Board, a panel tasked with oversight of state spending, approved the funding at today’s meeting.

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 8:12 PM, 01.10.2017

“#Change2017” Investment And Retirement

Happy 2017! This past year may be one the most memorable in recent generations. “Change” might be the key word heading into 2017. “Change” will apply to: The Presidency, one party controls both the Executive/Legislative branches of government, Interest Rates, countless regulations across the board, and the Affordable Care Act, to name but a few. 

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 8:12 PM, 01.10.2017

Antonio: Vetoes Of Two Bills Necessary

The phrase “lame-duck” describes the period of time after an election but before the end of the General Assembly – November and December of an election year. During this time, there is a rush to pass pending legislation before the end of the year

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 8:12 PM, 01.10.2017

Senator Skindell Honored To Cast Vote To Give John Glenn Rare Statehouse Tribute

Today, I joined my colleagues on the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board in voting to allow former astronaut and U. S. Senator John Glenn to lie in state at the Ohio Statehouse. Glenn died Thursday at the age of 95. The honor is normally reserved for current and former governors, statewide office holders and members of the legislature. So, it was necessary for the Board to meet this morning to grant an exemption. 
The Glenn family made the request and I was honored to make a motion at the board meeting to fulfill their wishes for a Statehouse tribute to a remarkable man and a true American hero.
Members of the public were able to pay their respects to Senator Glenn when he lied in state on Friday, December 16 in the Statehouse rotunda. The New Concord, Ohio native and Marine Corps combat pilot became the first American to orbit the earth before he served 24 years in the United States Senate.

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Volume 12, Issue 26, Posted 8:36 PM, 12.20.2016

Dead Flowers: A Small Consideration On The Heroin Pandemic

“Well when you're sitting back
in your rose-pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day
I'll be in my basement room
with a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away.”

- Mick Jagger/Keith Richards – Dead Flowers

[In the following personal stories, names have been changed for the sake of discretion.]

STEVEN WAS IN THE BACK SEAT when he noticed Amir, riding shotgun, opening his backpack and beginning to assemble his gear. Andy was driving. The three, all around 22, were heading out toward Nelson’s Ledges, getting high on sour diesel, with no destination in mind. “Pull up over here,” Amir told Andy.

“Dude,” said Andy. “You’re not doing that right now.”

“Duuuuude,” mimicked Amir. “Pull up over here.”

Andy finally did so as Amir proceeded with an air of ritual, one which Steven had never seen in person. Amir did his thing—the alcohol swab, the cook, the vein reconnaissance, the tie-off, the spike, the injection—Steven and Andy watching from their respective spots, mesmerized by the flow of motion, the concentration of purpose.

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Volume 12, Issue 25, Posted 7:29 PM, 12.06.2016

Analysis Shows Ohio Workers Will Suffer From GOP Unemployment Compensation Plan

State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) recently spoke out against proposed changes to Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund because the legislation unfairly punishes workers. A fiscal analysis of SB 374, conducted by the non-partisan Legislative Service Commission (LSC), found that the financial burden for getting the unemployment fund to solvency would fall 83% on workers and only 17% on business owners.

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Volume 12, Issue 25, Posted 7:29 PM, 12.06.2016

“Christmas Secret”

I know a Christmas Secret,

I think all of you should know,

And being the nice guy that I am,

This secret, I’m going to show;

It’s all about “Light Up Lakewood”,

And why it shows up every year,

Plus all the work that makes it great,

That brings this Christmas cheer;

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 4:35 PM, 11.22.2016

Year-End Tips for Financial Housekeeping

As we enter the end of the year, there are many things on people’s minds. Sure, there are the upcoming holidays, but there are many financial decisions that must be addressed. I’ve put together just a few for you to consider:

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 3:38 PM, 11.09.2016

Love Trumps Fear

What’s next? Are you wandering well beyond your spiritual upbringing? Might the realities of our current violent culture and war orientation be bringing you pain, suffering, and questioning? Are you energized by efforts of healing, peacemaking and art? There are myriad ways to move into a future for yourself (and because of yourself) in cooperation, peacemaking, art, imagination, and wonder. Have faith, avoid certainty. The world has already been saved. These are days to be heroic in waging creativity and healing with the same intensity as those who seek to divide us and keep us afraid of each other.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 3:38 PM, 11.09.2016

Rep. Antonio Recognized As Legislator Of The Year

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) received recognition as the Legislator of the Year by the Buckeye Art Therapy Association at the organization's 35th Annual Symposium earlier this month. The Lakewood lawmaker was recognized for her significant contributions to the improvement and advancement of art therapy in Ohio.

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 5:52 PM, 10.25.2016

State Can, Should Do More To Combat Statewide Opioid Emergency

Democratic lawmakers from the Ohio House and Senate held a press conference earlier this month pushing for legislative action to combat the worsening statewide opioid emergency. Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and state Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) pushed for the legislature and the governor to finish work on Senate Bill (SB) 319, opioid and heroin omnibus legislation that the Senate passed before the summer recess but has since stalled in the House.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 4:56 PM, 10.11.2016

Lakewood Community Loses Beloved Pediatrician At Age 95

Some of my earliest memories place me naively waiting in a Lakewood doctor’s office waiting area, playing with cardboard bricks that we begged our parents to get for us. I was blissfully unaware of the next shot (1, 2, 3 this will hurt!) nor really aware of how good our family had it going to Dr. McEvoy for our pediatrician visits. In hindsight the good was obvious, because “Bowtie Bob” would also take calls at his home, stop by your house, ask mom to put a sick kid on the phone so he could listen to them, call in prescriptions and in many ways, help parents to learn how to be parents by teaching them to trust their instincts.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 4:56 PM, 10.11.2016

Democratic Lawmakers Recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month

State Reps. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Janine R. Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today introduced a bipartisan resolution to recognize October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Ohio. Advocates with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network today gathered to present an annual report of Ohio Domestic Fatality Data at a press conference in the state capitol.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 4:56 PM, 10.11.2016

Rep. Antonio Reacts To Denial Of Ohio’s Medicaid Waiver Application

Ohio House Health and Aging Ranking Member and State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) released the following statement on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) denial of the state’s request to charge premiums for Ohio’s Medicaid Program, regardless of age. The federal decision cited concerns that such charges undermine access to coverage and the affordability of care, and do not support the objectives of the Medicaid program.

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Volume 12, Issue 20, Posted 5:03 PM, 09.27.2016

Representative Antonio Calls On Kasich To Declare Opioid Crisis A Statewide Public Health Emergency

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) called on the Governor John Kasich to recognize the devastating opioid addiction epidemic for what it is: a public health emergency. At a statehouse press conference last week, the lawmakers said the state must have a strong, unified response and release emergency state funding to combat the statewide opioid crisis that is claiming lives in rural areas and urban centers alike.

“Local addiction service providers are doing everything they can to prevent the opioid addiction crisis from overtaking our communities, but they have been pushed to capacity and their resources have been drained,” said Minority Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The state can’t just rely on local communities to take on the opioid crisis alone. We need to call this what it is – a statewide public health emergency. The lives of Ohioans are at stake and we cannot afford to wait.”


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Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 5:46 PM, 09.13.2016

Senator Skindell Receives The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Leader Award

Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) recently accepted The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Leader Award.“It is an exceptional honor to be selected for this award. The Nature Conservancy has been a notable leader in the conservation movement,” said Senator Skindell. “I have made it a top priority in my time in the legislature to make sure our diverse natural resources are protected and restored, and I will continue to do so.”
The Nature Conservancy is an organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the lands and water in order to sustain the diversity of life. The Conservation Leader Award is presented in recognition of exceptional leadership in advancing state conservation and environmental policy issues that improve the quality of life for all Ohioans.

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Volume 12, Issue 18, Posted 4:10 PM, 08.30.2016

An Insider's View Of The DNC Convention In Philly

WWE SmackDown was coming to Cleveland, and a friend of mine and I thought it would be hilarious to get ringside tickets. I’ve never really followed the show but found the whole “sport” intriguing and hysterical. We made sure to get some wrestling t-shirts so that we would fit in and headed downtown.

Expecting to attend a sporting-type event, I was taken aback to find myself on the set of a TV show...a drama. 80%-90% of the 10,000 or so seats in the arena were roped off and blacked out. Only four or five sections on the first level were open, and maybe 1,000 or 1,500 people were in attendance. The producers moved people around for the best optics. They told us when to hold up signs, and when to cheer. They also had a few signs, shirts and hats on hand to give to people in strategic places. The whole experience was curated, managed and as fake as the “sport” itself. Yet, I still had a great time.

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Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 6:39 PM, 08.02.2016

Confessions Of An RNC Uber Driver

I'm an Uber driver from Lakewood. In fact, I came to drive for Uber largely because Cleveland was the host of the Republican National Convention. Sure, it was an chance to make some extra money, but, moreover, it was an opportunity to engage in democracy at the most fundamental level. Below are a series of confessions drawn from my experiences, which were originally sent as text messages to my family and friends throughout the week of the RNC.    

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 6:37 PM, 08.02.2016

Public Libraries In Cuyahoga County Raise Dialogue About Social Change

As communities grapple with the social implications of the shootings in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas in the past month, libraries across the United States are stepping up to offer resources and support. Issues of race, prejudice, inequity, and violence are challenging topics, but they must be addressed in open, safe and productive conversations if we wish to move forward as a nation. As President Obama stated in his July 12 speech in Dallas, “…if we cannot even talk about these things, if we cannot talk honestly and openly, not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with those who look different than us or bring a different perspective, then we will never break this dangerous cycle.”

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 6:37 PM, 08.02.2016

New Political Group Takes Root In Lakewood

As you already know, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently endorsed Hillary Clinton for the democratic nomination. This left many political observers wondering what will become of Bernie’s enthusiastic corps of volunteers. The NEO for Bernie operation, which has hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors, has transitioned into the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC), a countywide group that will be based here in Lakewood.

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Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 4:38 PM, 07.19.2016

Senator Skindell Announces Affordable Senior Living Tax Credits

Today, Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) announced that the Ohio Housing Finance Agency has awarded $10,000,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits to Westerly Senior Housing for its Westerly II apartments. Senator Skindell had sent a letter of support on behalf of Westerly Apartments, applauding their desire to expand and improve affordable senior living throughout the district.

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Volume 12, Issue 14, Posted 4:11 PM, 07.06.2016

Annual Summer Supper Of The Lakewood Democratic Club With Guest Speaker, Margaret Wong

The Lakewood Democratic Club is happy to announce that the Annual Summer Supper will be held next month in the Gardens at the Clifton Club on July 13th at 6pm, featuring special guest speaker, US Immigration Attorney and Cleveland philanthropist, Margaret Wong. Ms. Wong, author of “The Immigrant’s Way” will address the timely topic, Immigration Myth & Reality in Election 2016.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 8:13 PM, 06.21.2016

Hillary Clinton National Security Visit In Cleveland

A political rally to unify the country became a somber and reflective event centered on National Security and the hate crime in Orlando. Democratic Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton, outlined her plan to defeat the Isis terrorist group on the battleground, identify lone wolves, pushing our security partners to do more and supporting First Responders in our communities. Secretary Clinton will also work with business owners to develop a plan to protect soft targets from mass shootings as president.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 8:13 PM, 06.21.2016

Senator Skindell Introduces Ohio Patient Protection Act

State Senator Michael Skindell (D- Lakewood) recently introduced Senate Bill 324 to increase patient safety by setting limits on the number of patients a registered nurse (RN) may care for at one time. The ratio requirements will be based on the seriousness of the condition being treated or the medical procedure that the respective patient is undergoing.  
The legislation would require a minimum, numerical nurse-to-patient ratio with a requirement that additional nurses be added when needed. Some of the more critical procedures for which the requirement would be one nurse to one patient are patients in an operating room, a trauma or critical care patient, an unstable newborn or one in a resuscitation period. An intermediate ratio level for which one nurse would be caring for three patients would include pediatric units and pregnant patients who are not in active labor. The ratio would go down to a one nurse to five patient threshold for such patients as infants in nurseries.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 5:02 PM, 06.07.2016

Northeast Ohio Lawmakers Announce Naming Of The Governor Richard F. Celeste Shoreway

State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and State Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) today applauded the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 159, which designates a portion of State Route 2 – also known as the West Shoreway, beginning in Lakewood and connecting to Cleveland – as the Richard F. Celeste Shoreway.
“I am pleased to announce the passage of this bill, which honors hometown public servant Richard F. Celeste and his career of service to our state,” said Rep. Antonio. “The naming of this portion of the shoreway celebrates an outstanding governor and the Celeste family’s legacy of public service to Ohio.”
Richard F. Celeste served two terms as Ohio governor from 1983 to 1991. Governor Celeste and his brother, former Representative Ted Celeste, are both natives of Lakewood, Ohio. Their father, Frank P. Celeste, served two terms as mayor of Lakewood from 1956 to1963.

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 5:02 PM, 06.07.2016