Scene & Heard

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ohio House Passes Heartbeat Bill

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 5:18 PM

  • Republican Ohio State Rep. Christina Hagan, Ohio House of Representatives

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed one of the nation's strictest abortion restrictions. But even if the Senate passes it as well, it could face a veto by Gov. John Kasich.

House Bill 258, sponsored by Republican State Reps. Christina Hagan and Ron Hood, would make it a fifth-degree felony to administer an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as soon as six weeks after conception. The legislation doesn't make exceptions for rape or incest, a fact opponents pointed to in order to illustrate their stance that the legislation is too extreme.

The bill passed 58-35 — just shy of the 60-vote margin to protect it from a Kasich veto.

If Kasich doesn't veto it — or if it comes up again next year — the law could become part of a much larger battle around abortion access. Under the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, women have a right to abortion access prior to fetal viability, generally accepted to be the point at which a fetus can live outside the mother's womb. But abortion opponents have argued — so far unsuccessfully — that an earlier milestone — a heartbeat — should be the cutoff for terminating a pregnancy.

“It gives a more consistent and reliable marker for the courts to use to determine the validity of a human baby,” Hagan said today. “We know that when a heartbeat stops, we’ve lost a human life.”

Recent federal court decisions have blocked laws that ban abortions simply because a heartbeat has been detected.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a heartbeat bill in 2016, saying it likely violated the U.S. Constitution under Roe v. Wade. Instead, Kasich signed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.

In the years prior, Arkansas and North Dakota lost federal court battles over similar laws to the one currently before the Ohio House. In the Arkansas case, a federal appeals court struck down the law banning abortion after 12 weeks because it would “prevent a woman’s constitutional right to elect to have an abortion before viability.”

A federal court in North Dakota issued a similar ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up appeals from both states on the lower courts' rulings.

But all that was prior to the election of President Donald Trump, who has appointed two conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court whom some experts say may be willing to overturn or significantly amend Roe v. Wade.

Past fights over the heartbeat bill in Ohio were also prior to the Nov. 6 election, when current Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine won the governorship. DeWine has indicated he would sign a heartbeat bill when he takes office in January. In the meantime, it's unclear if Kasich will veto the current legislation.

A similar law passed by the Iowa state legislature this summer is tied up in legal battles — ones that some of the measure's supporters actually hope ends up with the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The science and technology have significantly advanced since 1973," said Republican Iowa State Rep. Shannon Lundgren about the state's law. "It is time for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of life. It has taken decades for the science to catch up to what many have believed all along: that she’s a baby."

Supporters of Ohio's bill have expressed similar sentiments.

"This legislation is aimed at the heart of Roe v. Wade," Hagan said of an attempt to pass a heartbeat bill through Ohio's House last year.

Democrats today blasted the bill.

"It’s shameful that Ohio Republicans continue to try to dictate, control and direct the lives of women and their families,” said Democratic State Rep. Catherine Ingram of Cincinnati in a statement. "Women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions with their doctors, not politicians at the Ohio Statehouse.”

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Dan Gilbert Buys Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 5:16 PM

  • Robert Nixon

Promise (noun): a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one; an express assurance on which expectation is to be based;
something that has the effect of an express assurance; indication of what may be expected.

Bait and switch (noun/adjective): denoting a deceptive method of selling, by which customers, attracted to a store by sale items, are told either that the advertised bargain item is out of stock or is inferior to a higher-priced item that is available.

Anyway, now that that's out of the way:

Dan Gilbert is the proud new owner of Dictionary.com and Thesuarus.com.

The news comes just a day after Gilbert announced Jack Entertainment LLC would soon be selling Greektown Casino to an investment trust for upwards of $1 billion, telling the Detroit News that he would continue to focus his investments on "real estate business and technology businesses and start-up businesses in the city of Detroit."

According to the Rock Holdings Inc. press release, which is purposefully and annoyingly unintelligible and, for many, may require a website like dictionary.com to properly navigate, Gilbert is quite the poet, saying this of his new online real estate:

"Over the past two decades, these ‘raw materials’ of language are in essence not only the ‘vessels’ of all communication but at the same time they are also becoming the currency of the digital age.”

Leading up to the official announcement, Gilbert spent the better part of Thursday morning playing an adorable game of Twitter tag with Rock Ventures' newly purchased domain, first teasing the acquisition with a query:"Does anyone know what the word "epigram" means? Asking for a friend..."

While none of the 50 plus commenters gave a legitimate answer, many simply demanded he sell the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gilbert persisted and eventually spilled the beans.

As per the press release, "The annexations of Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com append a prodigious coterie of inestimable content proprietaries to Rock Holdings and its affiliated companies such as Rocket Mortgage, ForSaleByOwner.com, LowerMyBills, StockX, Cleveland Cavaliers, Robb Report, and Genius, among others."

In other words, Gilbert owns a lot of shit and will continue to buy a lot of shit and every time you need a synonym for, say, the word "shit" a Dan Gilbert gets his wings, or likely, cash.

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Offering Free Admission This Thanksgiving

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 3:06 PM

  • Photo via Cleveland Metroparks Zoo/Facebook
Thanksgiving is a trying time for many. From dealing with all the relatives you only see once a year, to battling that turkey coma, the holiday can often leave folks feeling like they need to get out of the house.

Thankfully, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is offering a means of escape this season with free admission on the holiday. That's right, all the adorable baby animals, along with their parents, are set to be on display rain or shine this Thanksgiving. 

The park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and all visitors and families are welcome.

Find out more below:

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Investigative Reporter Carl Monday Leaving Channel 19, Hanging Up His Trench Coat ... For Now

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 2:47 PM

  • James Douglas Shields
The Dean of Cleveland's TV investigators, Carl Monday, has announced that after a decade working for WOIO Channel 19, he'll be signing off.

"It’s been a blast exposing government waste, consumer fraud, and corruption in Cleveland here at Channel 19," he said in a statement. "Yes, even the marathon edits, midnight surveillance and crazy confrontations. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible."

Scene profiled Monday in a 2016 feature story. He said Thursday that he has been working without a day off in between reporting jobs for 46 years, and that while he had originally planned to depart the station in March, the recent acquisition by Atlanta-based Gray Television "allowed [him] to step back a few months earlier."

That's a nice way of putting it!

This departure follows anchor Ramona Robinson's, who announced last month that she'd be leaving Channel 19 in the wake of the Gray takeover as well.

"As for the trench coat," Monday added, "it’s getting a bit nasty. Good time for a trip to the cleaners!" 

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RTA Red Line Train Slowly Breaks Through Banner, Celebrates 50 Years of Airport Service

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 2:19 PM

Above, watch an RTA Red Line train slowly break through a banner commemorating the 50th anniversary of direct rail service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The banner ceremony is a callback to 1968, when on Nov. 15, per RTA, "the first rapid transit train broke through a banner stretched across the entrance to the airport, making Cleveland the first city in the world with direct public transit rail service between a city’s downtown district and an international airport."

Floun'say Caver, RTA's interim CEO, said that the rail service to the airport "landed Cleveland on the world map."

“It wasn’t Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or even Washington D.C.,” he said. “It was Cleveland, and RTA’s service became one of many of Cleveland ‘firsts’ and a major asset to the region. Today, it remains a critical component, not only to downtown economic development but to the burgeoning travel, tourism and convention business in the city.”


Things have certainly changed since 1968. While the opening ceremony "drew 18 officials from Washington, D.C., including Transportation Secretary Alan Boyd" and was the talk of the town, according to the PD's Grant Segall, these days it's nearly impossible to get elected or civic leaders excited about public transit, or for that matter to seriously reckon with the fact that increased funding likely won't be coming from the state anytime soon.

The Ohio legislature has also, of course, handcuffed Ohio cities by preempting obvious sources of revenue. And as a county, we've taxed the daylights out of ourselves to pay for three professional sports facilities. This makes finding additional funding for public transit tricky.

Service cuts and fare hikes in the past several years have precipitated steep declines in ridership. Surprisingly, though, in the face of  recurring track work and the use of single cars off and on for months, Red Line ridership has slightly increased in 2018, even as bus and light rail (Blue and Green line) ridership continues to dramatically fall.

RTA noted that ODOT has provided nearly $9 million to help fund track repairs between the West Park station and the airport.  

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Ohio House of Representatives, Which is Definitely Not Racist, Does Racist Thing as it Passes Racist Bill

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 12:55 PM

Ohio's Legislative Black Caucus, with Stephanie Howse in front. - OHIOHOUSE.GOV
  • OhioHouse.Gov
  • Ohio's Legislative Black Caucus, with Stephanie Howse in front.
Wednesday, the Ohio House of Representatives voted along party lines to pass a "Stand Your Ground" bill which Democratic lawmakers who oppose it refer to as the "Kill at Will" bill. They say it will endanger Ohio's communities by allowing individuals to "shoot first and ask questions later."

The bill would reduce some firearm offenses to minor misdemeanors, make it much harder to prosecute gun violence cases, and preempt local authority to enact gun restrictions. 

While the evidence is mixed on whether or not Stand Your Ground laws increases violent crime in other states, it certainly doesn't deter it. The nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, which opposes the bill, says that Ohio's HB228 would "upend centuries of traditional self-defense doctrine and threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism and giving civilians in public places more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives soldiers in war zones."

One of its key effects, according to a 2013 study from the Urban Institute, is to justify the killing of black people by white people. In Stand Your Ground states, the study found, when white shooters kill black victims, the shootings are deemed justifiable 11 times more frequently than when the shooter is black and the victim is white.

That's one reason why Rep. Stephanie Howse, (D-Cleveland), spoke about the racial implications of the law before the vote yesterday. But when she mentioned that the bill's sponsors represented districts that were 90 percent white, House speaker Ryan Smith cut off her mic. He later said that he did so because she'd referred to other legislators by name, a no-no, apparently.

Smith was challenged about that decision after the vote, per Cleveland.com:

Smith told reporters after Wednesday’s session that it was “infuriating” that Howse suggested that he and the co-sponsors of the bill are racist.

The speaker said he cut off Howse because of a House rule that prohibits floor speakers from mentioning other lawmakers by name.

“It was disrespectful to the chair,” Smith said. “You cannot do that. That’s not how we do things.”

When it was pointed out that other lawmakers during Wednesday’s session mentioned colleagues by name and weren’t gaveled down, Smith replied, “When you’re speaker, you’re always second-guessed and [there are] armchair quarterbacks everywhere. It’s a subjective situation. I try to manage it as best I can.”

Howse, in an official statement, said that Smith and Republicans were creating greater division in the state of Ohio.

“This type of legislation is dangerous and leads to justified murder," she said. "The leaders of the Republican Party have shown their disregard for Ohioans and especially their disregard of black lives. It is a sad day in Ohio and I pray that one day my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will truly value the voices and lives of Ohioans—especially the 18 percent minority population of Ohio—and not intentionally divide Ohioans based on unfounded fear.”

Gov. John Kasich himself has said that he would veto any Stand Your Ground bill and has voiced his support for "Red Flag" legislation, which would allow police or family members to present evidence to a judge, who could then issue a specialized gun violence restraining order. The bill had the unanimous support of Cleveland City Council. When state Democrats tried to put forward a Red Flag bill, though, it was crushed in a party-line vote.

The current Stand Your Ground bill is supported by the usual suspects, the Ohio Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry, and opposed by more or less everyone else, including law enforcement (represented by the State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police). The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys and high schoolers everywhere, who marched this year "for [their] lives" are opposed to the bill as well. 

It is needless to mention that the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action is vocally opposed to the bill. The group issued a statement saying they'd be urging Ohio's Senators to reject it.

“Ohio’s public safety laws are in place for good reason,” said Sarah Mouncey, a volunteer leader with the state chapter. “At a time when the consensus is growing that we need to do more to prevent gun violence, this would move Ohio in the exact opposite direction.”

The bill comes on the heels of the gun massacre in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which, at the time, (Nov. 7), was the 307th mass shooting of 2018. There have been four mass shootings since then

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Pinecrest Announces Its Holiday Happenings and New Store Openings

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 1:48 PM

Pinecrest has just announced its schedule of holiday happenings and grand opening celebrations. Illumin18, its inaugural holiday lighting event, takes place on Sunday. It’ll include family-friendly activities and performances, including the opening of its Central Park skating rink. Ohio City Singers, the local ensemble that plays original Christmas music, will perform at 4:30 p.m., and there will be an outdoor showing of The Polar Express.

In addition, starting this weekend, historic Higbee's displays can be seen at the south end of Park Ave. between REI and West Elm.

Continue reading »

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