How Piketon Ohio Became a Potemkin Village/by Geoffrey Sea

March 16, 2008
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Dear Friends,

The following Op-Ed piece by Geoffrey Sea may help explain some of the recent news and complexities of developments at Piketon. Please disseminate it widely, and encourage readers to attend the SONG community meeting at 4 pm, and the DOE public meeting at 6 pm, on Tuesday, March 18, at the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.

A truncated version of this piece appears in the Sunday, March 16, Pike County News Watchman. We hope other papers will also carry it. You are free to reprint or post it, but please let us know if you do.Hope to see you Tuesday!

Your neighbors at SONG


How Piketon Became a Potemkin Village

By Geoffrey Sea


When the Russian czarina toured war-ravaged Crimea in 1797, she viewed hundreds of hollow buildings and false fronts, momentarily populated by jovial village actors. Her minister, Grigori Potemkin, had engineered the grand theatrical production to boost his own political career. Hence the term Potemkin village – the mock display of a boomtown that is really bust.

Politicians now tour the ravaged lower Scioto Valley in election years, to announce grand new atomic projects, secured by none other than themselves, that will bring “many thousands” of new jobs.

In 2004, it was USEC’s “American Centrifuge Plant,” stewarded by a company acknowledged to have run a technology scam once before, convincing gullible investors that USEC had developed “atomic vapor lasers” it really hadn’t. The hollow buildings to house USEC’s newest boondoggle, were and are already standing – built in the 1980s to house the DOE’s Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant, another bit of stagecraft that never acquired innards.


Spin, gas, and vaporware, but no jobs. (more…)

Vital Public Meeting Tuesday 3/18 in Piketon/S.O.N.G.

March 14, 2008
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Dear Friends of SONG, [Southern Ohio Neighbors Group]

Last March, more than 300 of you responded to our appeal to turn out for a crucial public hearing held by the U.S. Department of Energy to protest a plan to turn Piketon into a massive storage dump for high-level nuclear waste.

We need your attendance again at a vital public meeting this Tuesday, March 18, at Piketon, at the same location. (Details below.)

Because of YOUR turnout last year and other activism, the GNEP plan was stalled. Congress radically cut GNEP funding, DOE has indefinitely delayed any siting decisions, and the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement due last summer is still not issued. Once a new administration takes office, GNEP likely will be dead. Thank you for helping us show that ordinary citizens do still have some power in America!

However, the demise of GNEP creates other problems at Piketon. Because DOE had planned to pack the old process buildings with spent fuel, they did not plan for cleanup of the site, and did not charter a Citizens Advisory Board to oversee that cleanup. Ted Strickland has just announced that he would like to bring a NEW uranium enrichment plant to Piketon, owned by AREVA, the national nuclear company of France. (more…)

Musings an Miscellania 11/17/07

November 17, 2007
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NY Times movie Critic A O Scott discusses movies about the Iraq War in a short video”column http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/10/26/movies/20071028_IRAQMOVIES_FEATURE.html


MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann: How to Really Support Our Troops [VIDEO]

Olbermann is the antithesis of the Faux News O’Reilly/Hannity spin cycles. http://www.alternet.org/blogs/waroniraq/68165



On the local front, it appears that much of the Interdenominational Ministers Alliance opposition to the City of Dayton’s proposed ordinance granting gays and lesbians equal protection against discrimination is driven by homophobic hysteria. Members of the alliance have ties to national church groups with strong stands against homosexuality, especially the Southern Baptist’s. I find it very troubling that an organization ostensibly geared toward fighting discrimination would employ discriminatory tactic to deny others equal protection under the law.The proposed ordinance is scheduled for discussion and a vote at the next City Commission meeting Nov 22 @6 pm. Commissioners should ignore the homophobic rantings of the local Talibanist’s and pass this legislation post haste


State may cut benefits for kids Parents fighting Medicaid limits on mental-health care/

Saturday, November 17, 2007 3:56 AM


<p>Keegan McCann, 6, walks to the car with his father, Jay, after being picked up from school at Ohio State University's Harding Hospital. Keegan, who is severely autistic, attends the school 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week.</p>


Keegan McCann, 6, walks to the car with his father, Jay, after being picked up from school at Ohio State University’s Harding Hospital. Keegan, who is severely autistic, attends the school 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week.

“Bye, Dad.”Simple words to most parents; they hear them every day.

But they were very special words to Jay McCann when he heard them for the first time recently from Keegan, his 6-year-old, severely autistic son.

“That moment felt like the day he was born,” McCann said. “I saw a rebirth of my son.”

A rule proposed by the Strickland administration has McCann and other parents concerned that their children may be deprived of the specialized services they now receive.

The administrative rule, which would limit some services eligible for Medicaid payments in an attempt to head off action from the federal government, is scheduled for a public hearing Monday before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. (more…)

SHADOWS ON HIGH: Tuesday’s Vote Tells The Nation A Lot About Ohio ‘08

November 8, 2007
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Congratulations go out to Ohio Democrats and Progressives where big-city Mayors changed hands in Lorain and Canton (long held by the GOP) and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and his well-run coordinated campaign cruised to a third term in a landslide.

There were few misfires down at blue headquarters on State Street, but there are trends that give a glimpse into November 2008.  Lest progressives start high-fiving, Ohio is not going to be a cakewalk in a Presidential race. Just a sobering reminder: the Quinnipiac Poll has the two Presidential front-runners in an Ohio dead heat with Rudy up two points over Hillary in their latest Ohio head-to-head poll. (more…)

Watch Your Wallets Ohioans; It’s Electric Re-reg Time!

October 19, 2007
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Post from Brian Rothenberg’s Blog:


We invented it. Edison was from us. Brush lived among us. And we seldom think much about what the energy in that little light bulb has wrought unless we take a drive into Amish country in Ohio.

We take it for granted that it will power our appliances, chill our food, keep us cool and allow us to watch the Cleveland Indians, OSU Buckeyes (when the powers that be let us — but that’s another story) or the Daily Show’s daily dose of sarcasm.

If we’re in the hospital, everything from the bed to the equipment can’t work if the power doesn’t.
Each passing generation becomes more reliant on it – especially in our computer age. Without it, life would be much different.

And the fact is that if the price of electricity goes way up, it has probably more impact than George W’s rant on taxes, as most of our monthly bottom lines would be much different and the spiral of spending constraints could make a real impact on Ohio’s economy.

Which is a long way of saying that Senate Bill 221 deserves your attention, especially the part that explains what leeway legislators want to give the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to set the rates we all pay for electricity.
SB 221, as introduced, was largely the work of Gov. Ted Strickland, who joined with business leaders, labor leaders and municipal electricity companies and in expressing concern for Ohio’s bottom line.

The seeds for SB 221 were planted in 1999 after Ohio and 17 other states rushed to the finish line like 49ers to the gold rush to deregulate their electricity services and let the open market set the prices. This was after all the height of the free market Reaganomics in all its glory: Dereg of utilities, dereg of phones, dereg of airlines and yes NAFTA – a gold rush of profits many of which have lost their luster.

(By the way, anyone notice we deregulated phone companies, sliced them and diced them from the old Baby Bells and now they are put back in large part as supergiant AT&T? Makes you wonder who made all that money through corporate mergers on the way back to a monopoly, doesn’t it. And gee, who pays for phone service – why all of us of course. Dereg is a great thing.)
Now back to electricity.
The goals of deregulation were lofty: The market would result in competition, causing prices to go down and consumers to benefit. On the floor of the Statehouse, it was discussed as if the savings in our wallets were a foregone conclusion.
The problem: No competitive market actually emerged, so the market began setting prices as high as the market would tolerate. In Maryland, where the phase-in has already ended, prices spiked up 72 percent in one year.

And quality began to suffer as power companies traded the unseen commodity of electrical energy in a fluctuating market much like gasoline deregulated into OPEC oversight in the 1970s.

Just in the years since we’ve begun to phase in deregulation, we’ve watched Enron go bust from the diversification and accounting games that accompanied a non-transparent utility, we’ve seen a major blackout that began in Northern Ohio and blacked out electricity from New York to Montreal, and of course, who can forget the revelation of a rusted cap at the top of an Ohio nuclear power plant.

So here we are, at the end of the phase-in of deregulation that was supposed to lower our costs and make utilities more efficient and the market was supposed to demand increased quality; and at the end of next year, the market will begin setting the prices in Ohio, causing fears that our prices will skyrocket, much like Maryland’s did.

Other than a handful of self-serving utilities, nobody really is arguing that there really is a competitive market but the Governor gave it a nod by allowing one to exist if someone can prove it exists, and most experts are convinced that unless Ohio does something before the end of next year, we really will end up like Maryland.

Given the general agreement that deregulation was a failure, the arguments over ending our flirtation with deregulation center largely on how much leeway the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) should have — if and when Ohio returns to a system of regulating electricity prices. And how much you and I and the other ratepayers should know about what goes into the PUCO’s pricing calculation. Transparency. We should have the right to know what fees and charges are being levied for the electric energy we are using.
In Ohio, there is a strong case to be made for the public’s right to know – not only given our recent political history, but given the experts who oversee our utilities. If you don’t believe me, you should believe the Lehman Brothers (well-regarded bean counters from Wall Street.)
Lehman does an annual ranking of state utility regulators and the PUCO in Ohio is routinely ranked about the most utility-friendly in the nation. And why would we not expect that after 16-years of cow-towing to corporate leaders who know how to play the political system in Ohio. After all, we are a company town as a state. We host industry giants First Energy and AEP that are behemoths of the industry and have much greater territory than just the Buckeye State.

It’s clear from things the Commission has done – and not done – that average consumers are left to battle for their pocketbooks. And it’s clear from utilities’ annual reports that electricity stockholders are doing quite nicely.
The consumer/utility balance is so out of whack that large industrial companies like Ford, and GM, and AK Steel, and Worthington Industries have banded together to gang up on the PUCO and demand that if it’s given the power to set utility rates, those of us who pay the rates should be allowed to peek in the utilities’ books. That’s the only way we’ll know if the prices the commission is setting (and the prices we’re paying) are fair, just and reasonable.

Back in pre-deregulation days, we all got to peek in the books – it was considered part of the progressive agenda of Teddy Roosevelt’s Republicans that the monopoly of large utility companies could only be balanced by the transparency of an open corporate set of books.

Back before they fixed electricity to help our pocket books, when a utility company wanted to raise rates, they had to go before the PUCO to justify the higher costs. All parties viewed this arrangement as part of the compact between the utility companies and the customers:

The state guaranteed each utility a base of customers, the regulators guaranteed the utilities a profit, the utilities guaranteed the state that it would provide electricity to those customers for a fair, just and reasonable price. To prove the prices were fair, the PUCO demanded a peek into the utilities’ books.
All that changed in deregulation – in the name of protecting your wallet – irony of ironies.
David Boehm, a lawyer who is working for some of Ohio’s largest employers, testified in favor or SB 221 and explained why open books are necessary – and how the process should work:

    “Witnesses would be heard and subject to cross-examination and all interested parties would be represented.
    Utilities could put on whatever other evidence they think relevant including evidence of market rates. If, thereafter, negotiations are entered into with the utilities, the basic data underlying those negotiations is open and transparent and known to everyone.
    We do not see how anyone in an open society could oppose such a provision. While flexibility is an obvious goal of S.B. 221, it must not be at the expense of due process or transparency.
    A federal appeals court judge, Damon Keith said in 2002 ‘Democracies’ die behind closed doors. The Framers of the First Amendment did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us.”

Although Mr. Boehm might not know how anyone in an open society could oppose it, Ohio’s utilities found a way to oppose it.

With the ever increasing throng of lobbyists, consultants and employees, the utilities offered a string of audacious amendments. The bottom line: The want to continue to have a guaranteed set of customers and a guaranteed profit – but they want authority to veto any PUCO decisions they don’t like.
And they don’t want us to peek in their books.

That’s right. Let’s get this straight, they want guaranteed customers, they want guaranteed profits and want veto authority over a board appointed to protect the public’s interest.

See a problem here? Why have a PUCO?

And that’s what makes this issue so fascinating. For a company whose mission is to illuminate our lives, they sure seem to be angling for some reason to protect their profits, while shielding their costs.

And in Ohio, when you see the shadowy deal making in the Statehouse start to move away from transparency into darkness, you better grab your wallet and run.
So, here’s hoping our legislature finds the light switch or else we all need to padlock our wallets. After all the last time they tried to save us money – it created this mess to begin with.

What’s that definition of insanity again?

Gov. Strickland Visits Piketon;SONG Demands Piketon Investigation

October 17, 2007
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SONG News Release:


Strickland Visits Piketon;

 SONG Demands Piketon Investigation

 as Architect of Nuclear Waste Plan Retires


    On Sunday, Ted Strickland paid his first visit as Governor to Pike County, where he was met by many opponents of the plan to store high-level nuclear waste at Piketon. Only hours later, the legislative architect of the waste storage plan, David Hobson, announced he will not seek reelection to Congress.

    Hobson is best known for securing big budget items for his suburban Dayton-Springfield district, as former chairman and now ranking member of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He was not so kind to neighboring Ohio districts. The plan for Piketon would have made lots of money for contractors in the wealthy Dayton-Springfield area, but would have sent the waste south, to Appalachian Ohio, for dumping in a poor rural county.

    Strickland appeared in Pike County at noon, to speak in the gymnasium at Piketon High School. He was met by a decidedly split audience. About half of those in attendance had some affiliation with SODI, one of the contractors on the waste project. The other half had some affiliation with SONG: The Southern Ohio Neighbors Group. About twenty in the crowd sported red-white-and-blue SONG caps.

    In his speech, which focused on statewide and national issues, the governor did not once mention the atomic site at Piketon. It is likely the first time since 1952 that a major politician has spoken in Pike County without boostering for the atomic boondoggle du jour. The US Department of Energy, which owns the site, is now stuck in a compulsory multi-billion dollar cleanup of the site, without the funds to do it. The waste project would have drastically reduced cleanup costs by allowing much of the contamination to remain in place.

    After the talk, the governor was approached by three SONG representatives, who handed his aides copies of the SONG petition that now has over 5,000 area signatures. The petition opposes any importation, storage or reprocessing of high-level nuclear waste in southern Ohio, and calls for establishment of a Citizens Advisory Board.

    The three also gave the governor a letter (attached) that calls on Strickland to return to Pike County for a town meeting, and that demands a full investigation of fraudulent misrepresentations in the waste dumping proposal. The three were Kathleen Boutis, president of SONG from Hobson’s Congressional district; Geoffrey Sea, who owns a historic home on the fence line of the atomic site; and Denny Bloomfield, former president of the union that represents Piketon workers.

    The letter highlights a promise made by Strickland in last year’s campaign to oppose both waste storage and nuclear reprocessing at Piketon. The letter notes, however, that on April 27, Strickland sent a letter to the Energy Secretary endorsing reprocessing at Piketon. SONG is calling on the Governor to retract that letter.

    “Ted, keep your promise!” is the letter’s refrain, and the phrase was used on a large banner in the parking lot outside the gymnasium where Strickland spoke.



SONG: Southern Ohio Neighbors Group

P.O. Box 161, Piketon, OH  45661

E-Mail: SHIPPSONG@aol.com   Website: www.OhioNeighbors.org


September 7, 2007
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For Cheung Shu-hung, the cultural humiliation was too much.

A Chinese manufacturer who co-owned Lee Der Industrial Co., he was faced with the recall of millions of toys including Big Bird, Elmo and Dora the Explorer products. Why? Because lead paint was discovered by the American companies that outsourced manufacturing to his Beijing facility.

On the heels of an already alarmed U.S. public over trade issues abroad, and a much publicized tainted pet food scandal last winter, Chinese authorities were cracking down by banning his company from exporting products and requiring a recall worth a financial loss in the area of $30 million dollars, according to the Associated Press.

Soon after the problems were disclosed, Cheung Shu-hung committed suicide.

AP reported that Cheung’s best friend’s company supplied the tainted paint. Since then, over 9 million toys have been recalled, including Barbie items and Thomas the Train wood products.

A world away in Ohio, we have no such cultural shame. A lame duck session of legislators last December, over the objections of then ruby red Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro and current cobalt blue Attorney General Marc Dann, put a cap on Ohioans’ rights to sue over lead paint exposure in their homes. Out-going Gov. Bob Taft had his own reservations but let it – he thought—become law.

Ted Strickland then vetoed the bill on his first day in office. The Ohio Legislature quickly sued, saying the Secretary of State had no right to give the bill back to the new Governor for his veto. The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed and reversed the veto.

In Ohio, there isn’t shame over lead poisoning – our leaders have effectively said, “Let Them Eat Paint.” Which leads to the rather embarrassing question; how is it that in Communist China, they can crack down on product liability and thrive economically – but in the name of jobs – our own Ohio legislative lemmings seek to look the other way?

And why is it that we care more about paint chips flaking on Barbie and Tickle Me Elmo than the paint on your window sill – when both are abundantly edible to our young children?

A legislative analysis of the bill passed in the whirlwind session last year, S.B. 117, states that “a manufacturer may not be held liable in a product liability action based on market share, enterprise or industry wide liability.” Even if you could sue a paint company in Ohio, the law limits consumer sales lawsuits to actual economic damages, plus an amount not exceeding $5,000 in noneconomic damage, or three times the consumer’s actual economic damages.

It further requires proof that the company is directly responsible for the damaged consumer product – provided some much-needed wiggle room in an age of limited liability companies and outsourced manufacturing.

    “The act requires the claimant, in order to subject a manufacturer to liability for compensatory damages based on a product liability claim, to prove, in addition to the defective nature of the product and proximate cause as described in (1) and (2) above, that the manufacturer designed, formulated, produced, constructed, created, assembled, or rebuilt the actual product that was the cause of the harm for which the claimant seeks to recover compensatory damages. The act provides that proof that a manufacturer designed, formulated, produced, constructed, created, assembled, or rebuilt the type of product in question is not proof that the manufacturer designed, formulated, produced, constructed, created, assembled, or rebuilt the actual defective product in a claim. (R.C. 2307.73(A)(3) and (C).)”

The Ohio law would appear to allow in the case of these tainted toys, for the American company selling the item to pass of liability to the outsourced manufacturer a world away under this new language. Even the notorious toy-hater BurgerMeister MeisterBurger in the classic Christmas cartoon would have to marvel at that little piece of real Ohio law – (we can only wish it were a cartoon.)

In short, it appears to be a sad fact that Communist China takes consumer product liability more seriously than our Grand Ol’ Ohio Democracy here in Ohio’s legislature and Supreme Court. Hoo-Ahh – now there’s a gut punch to our Ohio pride.

Of course in Ohio, it’s always about cash in the system.

Earlier this year, Ohio Citizen Action researched fundraising from both the paint industry and the lobbyists and organizations representing paint companies (law firms, manufacturer’s association and chamber of commerce). The study included money paid to judicial candidates in the years preceding their Supreme Court elections. Obviously, some of these organizations represent other clients and interests – but the study clearly showed large corporate interests were not shy about advocating for the paint industry.

1999-2000—Justice Terrence O’Donnell [lost, later appointed and elected] (Total: $25,450 ($8,000 total from Jones Day, $7,950 total from Sherwin-Williams, $3,000 from OMA)

2001-2002 Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Maureen O’Connor were running for the Supreme Court in this election cycle.

  • Stratton Total: $34,100 ($20,750 total from Jones Day, $6,400 from OMA, $3,250 from OH Chamber, $3,700 from Sherwin-Williams)
  • O’Connor Total: Total: $24,450 ($3,250 from the Ohio Chamber, $6,400 from the OMA, $12,700 from

Jones Day, $2,100 from S-W)

2003-2004 –Thomas Moyer, Terrence O’Donnell, and Judith Ann Lanzinger were all elected or re-elected to the Supreme Court in this election. Although Maureen O’Connor wasn’t running, contributions to her are present in this election cycle. All of her contributions are recorded as being received prior to March 6, 2003.

  • O’Connor Total: $5,450 ($3,450 from Jones Day)
  • Moyer Total: $27,551.67 ($1,526.67 from OMA, $21,525 from Jones Day, $2,000 from S-W)
  • O’Donnell Total: $29,051.67 ($6,250 Chamber, $2,526.67 OMA, $15,775 Jones Day, $4,500 S-W)
  • Lanzinger Total: $22,876.67 ($5,650 Chamber, $5,526.67 OMA, $7,450 Jones Day, $4,250 S-W)

2005-2006 — Terrence O’Donnell and Robert Cupp won election or re-election to the Supreme Court this cycle.

  • O’Donnell Total: $22,675 ($5,625 OH Chamber, $2,100 OMA, $12,450 Jones Day, $2,500 S-W
  • Robert Cupp Total: $14,875 ($5,675 Chamber, $2,200 OMA, $5,500 Jones Day, $1,500 S-W)

When the decision to overrule the governor’s veto and preserve the lead paint lawsuit limits came down last month from the Ohio Supreme Court, it was written by Justice Cupp and supported by Chief Justice Moyer and Justices Stratton, O’Connor and O’Donnell. Rather uncharacteristically, Justice Lanziger dissented, disagreeing over the way days are counted leading up to a veto. Justice Pfeiffer strongly dissented.

This, of course, shouldn’t surprise Ohioans. Less than a year ago the New York Times wrote an article by Adam Liptak and Janet Roberts titled, “Campaign Cash Mirrors a High Court’s Ruling” in which Ohio’s notorious pay-to-play system took yet another inglorious black eye, front and center, as national news.

And just what exactly does this mean to Ohio kids whose Barbies and Doras are quarantined, but who still have flakes of paint lying around?

According to the National Safety Council, young children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to health problems because of the development of their brains and central nervous system. “For them, even very low levels of exposure can result in reduced I.Q, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, behavioral problems, stunted growth, impaired hearing and kidney damage. At high levels of exposure, a child may become mentally retarded, fall into a coma or even die from lead poisoning.

In the last ten years, cases of death from lead poisoning have been reported in New Hampshire and Alabama. In adults, the NSC reports that lead poisoning can increase blood pressure, cause fertility problems, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, irritability and memory or concentration lapses. In pregnant women, lead poisoning can be transferred to a fetus.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that about 25% of the nation’s housing stock or some 24 million homes contain significant lead paint hazards largely from older homes with deteriorating lead paint or lead-contaminated dust.

Back in December, when the Ohio Legislature passed the cap on damages, Maureen Martin, senior fellow for legal affairs for the right-wing Heartland Institute, told Environment News, “There are relatively simple and inexpensive methods available to homeowners and landlords to keep lead paint intact or to fix it if it deteriorates. So unless there is reason to suspect deteriorated lead-based paint is present in Akron houses and apartments, such inspections might not even be legal. They certainly are not necessary” – HUH?

Doesn’t that just smack of a modern day Marie Antoinette “Let-Them-Eat-Paint” attitude?

Translated to our Chinese Toy crisis, unless you see a toy begin to have paint chip away or pieces start to flake – just let those kids gnaw away – right Ms. Martin? It’s about the free market correcting itself – and hey a few kids mentally afflicted will correct the market in a hurry. Quite a socially responsible and economically responsible attitude.

Apparently, when it comes to China and imported toys, free market ideology takes a backseat to practical public perceptions. Just last week, both U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois; and Rep. Mike Ferguson, a Republican from New Jersey, weighed in with their concerns about product safety. Rep. Ferguson told AP that companies in China have to make sure their products meet our American standards. “If they don’t, I believe Congress must give federal regulators the authority to ensure our kids’ toys won’t actually harm them.”

It makes you wonder – did Rep. Ferguson ever think of pointing that searchlight on our own product liability standards? It sure seems like under the Ohio law, if an Ohioan sued Mattel or any other American toy company, they likely would kick the product liability responsibility to the Chinese manufacturer. Even if you prevailed, even with catastrophic effects on your child’s mental development, your damages for a life of diminished skill would be capped – and this after years of litigation.

But it sure didn’t take years of litigation for the Chinese to correct their toy problem, or for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to force a recall.

But back in Ohio there is just a callousness about the way in which this liability cap issue was passed in a lame-duck session of legislators and a Governor both stuck in their waning days, and on the part of the Ohio-based manufacturers who pushed the issue so expeditiously.

In early August, the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice — a coalition of businesses — told the Columbus Dispatch after the Governor’s veto was overturned that the law “benefits all Ohioans by protecting jobs and our economy and keeping the state’s businesses competitive.” But you have to wonder about that, given the fact that the Chinese economy does not seem to be slowing down – and if anything, it was the American importer’s lack of quality control that allowed these toys to go into the American market.

Could it be that it was our American callous view of the bottom line that imposed this laisse faire attitude on the Chinese manufacturer? After all, clearly American culture does not react culturally to business improprieties in the same manner as many pan-Asian cultures.

And it raises even more troubling societal issues for each of us as Ohioans.

Do we not care about lead-paint in houses because it mostly deals with older, urban and rural housing where lower-income residents frequent? Do we care more about toys made in China because all kids are exposed, including those in suburbia whose post-1978 housing has no lead-based paint?

Are we xenophobic to the point that we can make the Chinese manufacturer a villain here, which is easier than digging the depths of our souls about the behavior of our own Ohio manufacturers and legislators?

And most of all, although the act itself is not condoned — and at some level a by-product of the totalitarian system in which he lived — there was some sense of cultural duty and humiliation that Cheung Shu-hung felt that August day that he took his own life.

Why here in Ohio, is there no such corporate humility about past actions? Have we really gotten to the point that Ohio legislators and manufacturers are so caught up in their own profit-based ideologies that health of the customer be damned?

The one thing factually certain is that, in China last month a totalitarian Communist regime found a manufacturing scoundrel and moved quickly to shut it down. But in Ohio, we just watched our Ohio Supreme Court re-define our Ohio Constitution to instead say essentially to the same situation: “Let them eat paint.”

It makes you wonder what the purpose of government in Columbus is for, if it’s not to protect our kids health and mental development.

Read more Brian Rothenberg @ progressohio.org

Gov Strickland Outlines New Energy Policy Goals

August 30, 2007
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8.29.07 – Governor Strickland Proposes Energy, Jobs and Progress Plan
  Columbus, Ohio – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today announced his Energy, Jobs and Progress plan that will ensure predictability of affordable energy prices and serve as a catalyst to enhance energy industries in Ohio, bringing new jobs while protecting existing jobs.

The Energy, Jobs and Progress plan will achieve three objectives:

* Ensure affordable and stable energy prices to protect Ohio consumers and existing Ohio jobs
* Attract energy jobs of the future through an Ohio advanced energy portfolio standard
* Safeguard Ohio families by empowering consumers and modernizing Ohio’s energy infrastructure.

Read the whole press release @


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