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Allen County’s RTA needs our help en masse for the mass transit vote!

Main takeaway:
In the May 7 primary election, voters throughout Allen County will consider a sales tax levy to support the Allen county Regional Transit Authority (RTA). RTA serves communities throughout the county, not just Lima and Bluffton, and FIVE school districts. They need our help and support to pass the levy!

Near-future needs:
Lawn signs are in, and we will be assembling them tomorrow, April 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the RTA garage. Canvassing will begin the following weekend. Sign up at www.citizens4RTA.com to get a lawn sign or help canvass. And consider writing a letter to the editor of the Lima News.

FACTS about the Allen County RTA Levy:

What is the May 7th Levy for Allen County RTA and how much will it cost me?
RTA is seeking a very small sales tax increase of one-tenth of one percent which equals 2 CENTS on a $20 purchase. The good thing about this small sales tax increase is that it does not affect income or property taxes or the cost of rent, utilities and groceries.

I have my own car, why should I support the RTA Levy?
Public transportation benefits all county residents, even if you don’t use the services. The workers who ride the buses pay taxes, which add to Allen County’s tax base. Riders use the buses to get to school, medical appointments and local businesses to buy goods and services. Local businesses benefit. Having reliable transportation for people who cannot drive gives our fellow residents the opportunity to be independent and live a fuller life in our community.

Why does RTA need more money?
Because over the past 5 years, federal and state funding has decreased by 30% while the need for services in our county has increased. Here area some statistics:

  • In 2018, Allen County RTA provided 46,671 rides for elderly and persons with disabilities from every corner of the county (Delphos, Bluffton, Elida, Spencerville, Harrod, Beaverdam, Lima).
  • Currently 47% of ACRTA’s riders are elderly or persons with disabilities and this population is growing.
  • Each month, RTA provides 1,475 rides for special needs students from 5 school districts: Shawnee, Bath, Bluffton, Elida and Lima City School Districts. They also transport hearing-impaired children to Findlay and children with Autism to their special school.
  • Each month, RTA is now providing more than 1,000 rides for workers to their place of employment.
  • Before the RTA was forced to make cuts, in 2017 they were providing nearly 400,000 rides which included 1,000 wheel chair rides a month. When they cut weekend and evening services as well as 3 routes in 2018, that total number dropped by 150,000.

–Allen County RTA Levy FACTS: https://www.citizens4rta.com/issue

Remember: Public transportation is vital in any thriving community!

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Release the Report Rally – This Thursday in Lima!

#ReleaseTheReport

Join AHEAD for a rally this Thursday at 5.pm., April 4, at the gazebo in the Lima Town Square to call for full transparency in regards to the Mueller report. We demand that Attorney General William Barr #ReleaseTheReport from the Mueller investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Bring signs and friends, and please share the event linked below!

This public rally will be held in coalition with MoveOn, Public Citizen, and People For The American Way.

A core principle shared by supporting organizations is a commitment to nonviolent, peaceful actions. All actions that are sponsored or organized by AHEAD are intended to be nonviolent and peaceful. We expect all participants to act lawfully at all times and to seek to de-escalate any potential confrontation with those that disagree with our values.

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What have we learned from Michael Cohen’s Testimony?

Thank you to Howard Fenton, Professor of Law Emeritus at Ohio Northern University, for writing the Cohen Testimony reflection below for AHEAD.

What have we learned from Michael Cohen’s Testimony?
Howard N. Fenton, Professor of Law Emeritus

By now we are all familiar with some parts of Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee (or at least have seen the marvelous Saturday Night Live send up with Ben Stiller). Aside from reminding us of the power of live television and its inherent drama at controversial and historic moments (think Army-McCarthy and Watergate hearings), the question remains what have we actually learned?  Not to make light of the situation, but I would suggest that one thing we learned is that Cooley Law School wants no part of its graduate Michael Cohen, and that Capital Law School would like to pretend Jim Jordan was not one of its graduates. Neither conducted themselves in ways that we lawyers like to think our profession should behave. But aside from that professional embarrassment, where does the Congressional inquiry into our President’s conduct stand?

As any number of commentators have noted we learned very little new from Cohen.  Perhaps his greatest contribution, aside from letting us know that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is very busy, was providing the names of others in the Trump organization that would have specific knowledge of Trump’s various schemes.  Many of them will soon have their own moments of televised fame I suspect. Cohen also provided some documentation such as the two reimbursement checks for $35,000 that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy greeted with a yawn and a “so what”. We have seen a pattern that will play out over the next several months with the newly empowered Democratic majority questioning witnesses and demanding documents, the administration and Trump organization resisting, and the Republicans in the House playing to what they perceive as their base by attacking every initiative of the House committees without attempting any substantive defense of their President.

It may be that there is little the Republicans can say in defense of Trump other than spinning conspiracy theories and attacking the media and the Democrats.  When the work of Mueller’s team and other prosecutors has been tested in the courts, the defenses mounted by the defendants’ lawyers has come up short in virtually every case.  This suggests there may be no basis for a substantive defense. There is the risk though that any statement of Cohen, no matter how minor, that proves to be incorrect at this point will be dramatically magnified in effort to discredit everything he said.  For example, he said that his false testimony to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Trump Tower negotiations was reviewed by two of Trump’s lawyers, at least implying their complicity in his lies. It is not clear that the two lawyers in question had any access to information about these negotiations and may not have been aware of the deceit.  This will be seized upon as further proof that Cohen cannot tell the truth, even as he faces prison for prior lies to Congress.

The various House committees will be busy investigating a broad range of Trump-related, initiated, condoned, or otherwise approved activities.  New information will be uncovered, new individuals will be interviewed and new attacks by the Republicans will fly. Federal prosecutors will likely add to the number of Trump related defendants indicted, drawing closer and closer to his inner circle.  Six months from now I think we will find Trump scandals and prosecutions competing with the Democratic Presidential race for media time. Six months will also find Michael Cohen in jail, already an historic footnote like John Dean, who, like Dean, contributed to the unraveling of one of the most corrupt Presidential administrations in the history of our republic.  On the bright side, from this historical perspective, Trump’s administration may well rehabilitate the reputations of even the worst Ohio Presidents!

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Upcoming AHEAD Meeting: March 14th

The next AHEAD monthly meeting will be Thursday, March 14, 6-8 p.m., in Lima at the Cambridge Center: 418 N. Central Ave.

Our monthly meeting will include a potluck and a focus on how we can support the Allen County Regional Transit Authority funding initiative on the ballot May 7. We will also have a meet and greet with some candidates running in November. Come and get involved!

Official Facebook event: AHEAD March Meeting

Interested in supporting AHEAD? Consider joining the leadership team. The team plans monthly meetings and approves official AHEAD actions. We need reinforcement — and welcome your energy! More info here about joining the Leadership Team, and the current Leadership Team member bios can be found here.

 

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Border Walls and National Emergencies

A huge thank you to Howard Fenton, Professor of Law Emeritus at Ohio Northern University, for writing the briefing below for AHEAD.

Border Walls and National Emergencies
Howard Fenton, Professor of Law Emeritus

Last week President Trump invoked powers under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to re-program appropriated Defense Department funds to build his wall along the U.S. Mexico border. Since the enactment of the law every president has declared emergencies, totaling almost 60, with half still in place (Obama declared 12 and G.W. Bush 13). What is different about Trump’s border wall emergency is that he is trying to use funds for a purpose that Congress has specifically refused to approve. This sets up a potential constitutional crisis between Congress’ control over budget and appropriations and the President’s desires.

The National Emergencies Act sets out procedures for the president to follow in invoking emergency powers granted under several different statutes. In this case, the law in question provides that if the emergency is one “that requires use of the armed forces” the president can take appropriated construction funds for one military purpose and reprogram them for the emergency purpose. This provision has only been invoked twice before, during the first Gulf War and following 9/11. Thus, there is a legal question as to whether this “emergency” meets the statutory test. This and the constitutionality of his actions will be the focus of the multiple lawsuits that have already been filed, including one action by fifteen states.

When Congress passed the NEA is sought to provide some restraint on the emergency power granted to the President. Originally it provided that the Congress could invalidate the declaration by passing a joint resolution. This was struck down by the Supreme Court (INS v. Chadha, the legislative veto case) and the law was amended to provide that both houses would have to pass the resolution and the President would have to sign or veto it. Trump has indicted that he would veto any such resolution. With a 2/3 vote by both houses, Congress could override the veto, but this is unlikely with the current Congress. What then is the value of the Congress passing this disapproval resolution?

The law provides an expedited procedure for consideration of the resolution, one that cannot be delayed or avoided. Thus, Senator McConnell will have to bring the resolution to the floor and the Senators will have to vote on it. McConnell has skillfully protected the Republican Senators from having to vote against the President but this time there is no option. Many Senators, as well as the Vice President, are strongly on the record against use of presidential emergency powers by President Obama. While passage of the Congressional resolution will not end Trump’s border wall emergency, it will certainly demonstrate which Republicans have principled concerns about separation of powers and the appropriate roles of Congress and the Presidency or which are simply partisan shills fearful of Trump and his base voters.

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Working Together to Work with Others: This Thursday’s January AHEAD Meeting

Join us this Thursday, January 24th, from 6-8 p.m. at the Town Hall in Bluffton (154 N. Main St.) for the January AHEAD meeting.

The January meeting will begin with our delicious potluck, followed by a sensitivity workshop that will include training on how to work effectively with people from different backgrounds than our own. AHEAD’s goals include “Connect with diverse populations in our communities and work with them to support the vulnerable.” This training will give us some of the skills and insights to communicate with a wide variety of groups who are allies in moving toward a just and better democracy.

We are lucky to have as our workshop leader Chris Caldwell, the diversity lead at Tiffin University. He is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warm. This event will bring us together as AHEAD members in a supportive atmosphere to expand our understanding and skills. Please join us!

For more information, please visit the Facebook event page for the meeting: AHEAD January Meeting and Sensitivity Workshop

We hope to see you there!

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UPDATE: MLK Day event RESCHEDULED due to weather

Due to this weekend’s snowy weather, tomorrow’s (Sunday, January 20th) Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration at St. John’s Evangelical Church has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 3rd, at the same time and place: 3pm at St. John’s Evangelical Church (211 E. Carrol St.) in Kenton.

For a full description of this wonderful upcoming event brought to our community by the Hardin County Talks Planning Committee, please see previous AHEAD post: “She Sang Freedom”: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration in Hardin County – ALL INVITED!