Archive for the ‘State Politics’ Category

Messing with High School Football in Ohio

May 11, 2011

An interesting article from JJHuddle:

*End of the Herbstreit Classic? Entertainment over Education?…Have you heard of House Bill 191? No? Well listen up.

Sponsored by Rep. Bill Hayes, a Licking County Republican, HB 191 would force Ohio’s schools to operate only after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. HB 191 is built upon the premise of students spending the same amount of time in the classroom, but instead of requiring 182 days, students (depending on elementary, middle or high school status) would be required to be in school for 960-1,050 or more hours.

Why suggest this? Hayes thinks the plan will boost tourism opportunities and dollars for Ohio’s amusement parks, resorts and state parks by clearing the entire month of August for family time. As it’s written now, though, HB 191 could also signal the end of high school football – and all extracurriculars – for some schools on Labor Day Weekend.

The bill’s Sec. 3313.621, article (D) states that: “No school district board shall agree to or permit a school under its control to participate in any extracurricular events on Friday through Monday of the Labor day weekend. This prohibition shall not apply to any district or school that has an agreement with another district or school or with an athletic association or conference, entered into prior to the effective date of this section, that requires participation in extracurricular events on that weekend. However, the district board shall not enter into a new agreement or renew an expiring agreement on or after the effective date of this section that requires participation in extracurricular events on that weekend.”

Basically what that means is unless you’re football team is playing a league game in Week 2, you would eventually be locked out of competition on Labor Day Weekend should HB 191 pass. Since the Herbstreit Classic operates on year-to-year contracts, that event would be finished, unless it moved to a different weekend.

Soccer, volleyball, cross country, golf, tennis and even band would be affected.

Workarounds for schools could include signing “lifetime” contracts with non-league opponents or a “pool” of non-league opponents.

According to an article in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, the legislation has been assigned to the House Education Committee and has yet to have a hearing.

As one educator put it: “It’s ludicrous. You’re (bleeping) with children’s education in order to get more people to spend money.”

Not to mention you’re messing with high school football…

Not sure where to begin on this one.  First of all there is the obvious loophole that his blackout period is Friday-Monday of Labor Day Weekend, which leaves open playing the games on Thursday night in that week, which is usually Week 2 of the high school season.  But either way I find it rather confusing.  I thought Republicans were the party of smaller government, and greater local control of schools instead of hamstringing schools with big brother mandates and rules?  I know I heard that somewhere.


OHSAA Considers New Formula for Tournament Divisions

January 13, 2011

This is a proposal at this point and will be submitted to the member schools for a vote this spring (from

OHSAA Board of Directors Tackles Competitive
Balance Concerns
Referendum Issue is First Step in Possible Changes on How Schools are
Placed Into Tournament Divisions
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Acting on a recommendation from the Ohio High School Athletic Association
(OHSAA) Competitive Balance Committee, the OHSAA Board of Directors today unanimously placed a
new bylaw up for vote of the OHSAA membership that would be the first step toward possible changes on
how schools are assigned to tournament divisions. The proposed new bylaw, which will be voted upon by
OHSAA member schools during the annual referendum voting process in May, states that “each school
shall be placed into tournament divisions based on its sport-by-sport athletic count.” Schools would not be
separated into tournaments for public schools and non-public schools, nor would a “multiplier” be applied to
non-public schools to increase their enrollment, which a few other states utilize. Rather, the enrollment
numbers for all schools (both public and non-public) would be entered into a three-part formula to establish
their “athletic count.”
The proposed bylaw goes on to say that the formula for determining “athletic counts” and to which
sports the athletic counts shall be applied will be determined every other year by the Board of Directors and
will be listed in the OHSAA’s General Sports Regulations. If approved, implementation of the new formula
would begin no later than the 2013-14 school year. In addition, a standing committee would be formed to
monitor the effectiveness of the athletic count formula and to recommend to the Board of Directors any
changes in the weight to be given to any one or more of the factors in the formula.
At the present time, all schools are placed into tournament divisions based strictly on enrollment
figures that the schools submit to the Ohio Department of Education. The proposed three-part formula to
establish athletic counts would require the OHSAA to also include a school boundary factor (how
students are obtained – non-public schools with no boundaries; non-public schools with limited boundaries;
public schools with statewide open enrollment; public schools with adjacent open enrollment, and public
schools with no open enrollment), a socioeconomic factor (the number of free lunch participants) and a
tradition factor (state championship game appearances, state tournament appearances and regional
finals appearances). The school boundary and tradition factors could increase a school’s enrollment while
— more —
OHSAA Board of Directors Action -2-2-2
the socioeconomic factor could decrease a school’s enrollment. The tradition factor is the only one of the
three that would be implemented on a sport-by-sport basis. Once all three factors are applied to the
enrollment count, each school will have a sport-by-sport “athletic count” for purposes of tournament division
“The issue of competitive balance has been discussed for years not only in Ohio but also in other
states,” said OHSAA Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph. D. “Ohio is unique in that our public schools have
the option to approve open enrollment policies, but, at the same time, there’s no question that most nonpublic
schools in the state have no geographical boundaries in which they can secure students and the
result has been a disproportionate number of championships won by those schools.
“The meetings we have conducted with the Competitive Balance Committee have been both
productive and professional, and I believe the proposal from the group is fair and equitable and we will see
some leveling of the playing field.
“Competitive balance is a complex issue,” Ross continued. “The formula recommended by the
committee is not as complex as it sounds, nor is it as complex as any of the viable alternatives and the
unintended consequences of those alternatives.”
The Board’s current plan is to propose that athletic counts only be utilized in the sports of football,
soccer and volleyball in the fall; basketball in the winter, and baseball and softball in the spring.
Consideration will be given to add other sports in the future.
The OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee was formed in January 2010 in response to concerns
raised by a group of school administrators in northeast Ohio who conducted a study that showed that 43
percent (146 of 340) of the state championships in selected team sports between 1999 and 2010 have
been won by non-public schools, even though non-public schools make up only 17 percent of the total
membership of the OHSAA. The OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee met numerous times throughout
2010 in an attempt to identify competitive balance factors and to propose changes that would bring the
competitive inequities into balance. The Committee was comprised of 29 school administrators and
coaches from across the state from public and non-public schools both large and small along with members
of the OHSAA Board of Directors and administrative staff and representatives from both the state
superintendents and state principals associations.
In the near future, the OHSAA will place on its website examples of how the athletic count formula
could look when applied.

I think its a laudable goal to try and make the divisions more “fair” than simply dividing the schools into x number of equal sized chunks based soley on enrollment figures.  But I would be curious to see the exact formulas.  While I can see the utility of a socioeconomic formula or a competitive history formula I would hope they carry less weight than the enrollment status of the school, especially the competitive history formula.  My alma mater, East Liverpool, was state runner-up in baseball in 1969; do we get pushed into a larger division because of a randomly good ball club my parents’ senior year?  I think it would be useful to only use more recent history, say the past 10 years or so.  Of course, its a give that 4 teams will make the state semifinals, and 8 teams the Regional finals in a given year in a given sport in a given division.  A school might have a group of kids that are really good at, say, volleyball, and then they graduate, and then the next biannual determination of divisions rolls around and a group of kids that aren’t nearly as good at digging and setting is bumped into a higher division.  So that formula could cause unintended consequences.

The socioeconomic factor certainly makes sense.  A public school in, say, Upper Arlington, has obvious advantages on a public school of the same size in Cleveland public.  But again if this formula is too strong it can create unintended consequences.

The school boundary formula is another way of weighting private schools without coming out and saying they are weighting private schools.  Mind you, I’m not saying its a bad thing to weight things.  I think it manifestly obvious the advantages of being able to recruit kids (and trust me, it happens, I think that point is beyond argument) as opposed to simply playing the hand your dealt in terms of student body talent pool.  Again, however, you don’t want to make the formula too strong.  There are certainly seasons where Youngstown Ursuline football can compete with anyone.  The same is not true of, say, Steubenville Catholic Central.

Bottom line is I am not opposed to this proposal.  I suspect, however, that the devil is in the details.

Media Matters Fox News Aiding Republicans Who Want to be POTUS

January 9, 2011

Below is a re-posting of an email from Media Matters for America:

Media Matters: Fox’s 2012 GOP Influence

In a November ad for their special series “Fox News Reporting: The Challengers for 2012,” Fox News promised “unrivaled access” to “the GOP’s top White House contenders.” Such access, however, isn’t hard when correspondents just have to walk down the hall.

That Fox News helps Republicans get their message across to their conservative base — long documented and publicly acknowledged by Republican officials — is nothing new. But what’s unprecedented is the level of influence one news organization can exert on a party’s presidential primary, and the rest of the media’s coverage of that primary, by simple fact of who is on its payroll.

Fox News employs five Republicans considering runs for the GOP nomination: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and John Bolton. All five regularly appear on the network through exclusive contracts and all five have used their employment to position themselves for their respective runs.

Take the cases of Rick Santorum and John Bolton — two potential candidates who have so little chance of winning the nomination that Fox didn’t even include them in their twelve challenger profiles.

Both would largely be out of the public spotlight if not for their Fox News contracts, yet Santorum — who lost his Senate seat to Bob Casey (D-PA) by 17 points in 2006 — has appeared on the Fox programs America’s Nightly Scoreboard (twice), America’s Newsroom (twice), The Willis Report (twice), America Live, On the Record (twice) and Varney & Company (twice, as a “special guest”) in the past two weeks.

During the same time, Bolton has appeared as a foreign policy and national security expert on America’s News HQ (where he has a regular weekly slot), Follow The Money, America’s Newsroom (twice), America Live, Fox & Friends, Hannity, On the Record, and Varney & Company (as a “special guest”!).

On the other side of the spectrum is Sarah Palin, who has little trouble attracting attention. But as her TLC program and public comments indicate, Palin prefers a certain type of attention in which she can tightly control the messaging. It’s no wonder then that her media appearances have mostly come within the friendly confines of Fox News, where she can pass on debunked theories and pal around with conservative opinion makers like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

After leaving public office in disgrace, Newt Gingrich signed his “first television deal since leaving Congress” with Fox News in 1999. Since then, Fox News has treated him like royalty during his attempted rehabilitation. Gingrich has hosted Fox News Specials on college costs, religion, international gangs and bird flu (yes, bird flu). On one day in 2009, Fox dispatched a reporter to provide round-the-clock coverage to a Gingrich-convened “Jobs Summit.” Last year, during a typical softball interview, a Fox “straight news” program directed viewers to Gingrich’s GOP tour and website.

Mike Huckabee is the only Fox candidate with a regularly scheduled show, the weekend talker Huckabee. Huckabee’s show has always been closely tied to his political machine: the show was first announced in a statement posted on his political action committee and, according to the New York Post (via Nexis), “not, as is customary, from the network.”

Since then, Huckabee has unsurprisingly used his program to position himself for a potential political run. The former Arkansas governor has used Fox News’ airwaves to grow his PAC and email lists directly (he touted the address of an email catcher website run by his PAC) and indirectly, through regular solicitations to give “feedback” to, which conveniently links to his PAC and an email signup page. Huckabee has also used his program’s guest list as an extension of his PAC.

But why wouldn’t Huckabee run? Again, Fox News’ influence comes into play.

In November 2009, Huckabee remarked on Fox News Sunday that if he doesn’t run for president, it’s because “this Fox gig I got right now” is “really, really wonderful.” Last month, conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote that there’s “growing buzz” that Huckabee “may not run because he’s got a big new contract with Fox News in the works” (a Huckabee aide responded that there were no Fox talks). Financial considerations could also come into play for Palin, who reportedly makes $1 million a year with Fox News.

According to Politico, Fox “indicated that once any of the candidates declares for the presidency he or she will have to sever the deal with the network.” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that the Fox candidates may actually delay their announcements to reap the benefits of the Fox cocoon for as long as possible. Reporter Claire Shipman replied that Fox’s “very healthy platform” allows the Fox candidates to keep visible without spending money early.

The potential delay of their “official” announcements means that the Fox candidates can also compile staff and resources while still cashing a paycheck.

Huckabee, Palin and Gingrich have Fox-promoted groups ready to convert to campaign mode if each chooses to run. Santorum has already hired a staff member (for his PAC) in the important primary state of New Hampshire and, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, is “expected to formally” announce “in the spring.” And Bolton is reportedly “very serious about a presidential bid and has begun to speak with potential staff.”

During this non-“official” period, the Fox candidates can also cite their Fox contract as a reason to decline appearances on other news organizations who may offer a tougher environment than Fox (a low bar). Indeed, Politico reported that “C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox’s permission — which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences.”

Fox’s 2012 situation has a parallel in something that happened in the 2010 midterms with former Fox News host and contributor John Kasich.

After leaving Congress in 2001, Kasich openly considered running for higher public office and joined Fox News to keep himself in public view. A former Kasich pollster told the Columbus Dispatch in 2002 that Kasich was “leaving himself in a position so that if something happens, he is as well-situated as somebody else.”

On March 27, 2008, the Dispatch reported that Kasich announced “he is paving the way now for a gubernatorial bid” and quoted Kasich stating: “I’m going to go forward even more aggressively, and we’re going to continue to ramp it up (for a gubernatorial run).” But Fox News didn’t take him off the air — presumably because he still hadn’t “officially” announced his candidacy — and by the time he formally announced his bid on June 1, 2009, Kasich had logged more than 100 Fox News segments as a guest host or contributor.

In a column last November, Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race author Dick Morris wrote that the “GOP primaries of 12 will be held on Fox News. … we will see all the candidates on Fox News. Not just in debates, but in frequent appearances on the opinion and news shows on the network.” For once, it seems Morris is right.

Dog Days of Campaigns

August 7, 2010

Got this email from the Lee Fisher for Senate campaign Saturday on his 59th birthday.  Ostensibly written by his father Stan.  Apparently I am to vote for Lee because Stan played football for Woody Hayes at New Philadelphia High School:


Help Lee celebrate his birthday with a contributionWhen I was in high school, I was lucky enough to play football for a coach loved by a lot of Ohioans: Woody Hayes.

He led our team at New Philadelphia High years before he ever went to Ohio State, and he was a great coach even then. While I can’t say Coach Hayes turned me into a great football player, he taught me a lot about playing the game.

He would tell our team that it is easy to play a perfect game if you’re sitting in the stands. When you’re in the game, you’re going to get knocked down. Winning is about how strong you are when you get back up.

When my son Lee was born on August 7, 1951, I knew that was a lesson I wanted him to learn; fifty-nine years later, I couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s played the game.

Help Lee celebrate his birthday with a campaign contribution of $5 today.

Lee is a tireless advocate for Ohio families, a relentless fighter on behalf of the middle class, and a hard worker who won’t stop until he’s done everything he can to solve the problems put in front of him.

While he might have had an easier time if he’d chosen to live a quiet life, he knows that the work he can do on the field is worth taking a hit or two.

I know Lee will be an incredible force when he’s elected to the U.S. Senate, but he needs your help to get past Congressman Rob Portman’s dishonest hits on his record and his character.

To celebrate Lee’s birthday, please help support the campaign with a contribution of $5 now.

Nothing makes me prouder than seeing my son use his life to serve his community and country, so it’s my birthday wish for Lee that you’ll do what you can to celebrate his birthday today.


Stan Fisher

Contribute today!

Paid for by Fisher for Ohio
P.O. Box 1418
Columbus, Ohio 43216

Fisher Wants 7 Debates

July 19, 2010

Below is a letter Lee Fisher sent Rob Portman suggesting 7 debates for their upcoming Senate campaign (as contained in a Fisher campaign e-mail sent to me and countless others):

Congressman Portman:

I am writing to propose we meet for a series of debates across Ohio to present voters with the clear choice they have in this election.

Just last week I met with workers in the Mahoning Valley. And it’s there you can see the choice voters have this November – the choice between going back to the failed trade policies that sent our jobs overseas and the investments we need to make in creating new jobs right here in Ohio.

At Delphi, thousands of hardworking men and women have lost their jobs and pensions due to no fault of their own. But just down the road, the GM-Lordstown plant has restored its second and third shifts, creating hundreds of jobs and the fuel-efficient cars of the future. And for the first time in three decades, a new steel plant is opening at V&M Star.

I’m running for the Senate because I believe Washington is broken. I believe Ohio’s middle class families can’t afford to go back to the same failed policies and the same failed politics that got us into this economic mess in the first place.

While you and I have proposed vastly different plans to get our economy moving forward again, we both have a responsibility to share our plans for creating jobs directly with Ohioans.

Ohioans deserve to hear from both of us-about what we’ve done for Ohio and our vision for how to help our great state continue to recover from this recession. How to rebuild our middle class and ensure our children have the opportunities to get an education and raise their families here.

We should discuss our different ideas during a series of 7 debates, from Dayton to Appalachia; from Toledo to the Mahoning Valley; from Columbus to our hometowns of Cincinnati and Cleveland and allow all Ohioans to hear from us firsthand.

We can have a respectful, substantive debate about how each of us would create jobs here in Ohio. That’s what Ohioans deserve, and why we must meet with them to share our ideas.

I look forward to meeting with you. I hope you’ll join me.


Lee Fisher

I like politics and all, but 7 debates sounds rather redundant and, well, dull.

Ohio Judge Suggests Packing Heat

April 9, 2010

Copy/pasted from

A judge in an Ohio county is urging citizens to be vigilant and carry firearms because of budget cuts to the sheriff’s department.

Ashtabula (ash-tuh-BYOO’-luh) County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey tells Cleveland’s WKYC-TV that the cuts mean citizens should arm themselves and watch out for their neighbors.

The northeast Ohio county is the state’s largest in area and is mostly rural. With deputies assigned to transport prisoners and serve warrants, one radio car is assigned to patrol 720 square miles.

Sheriff William Johnson has threatened to sue county commissioners to have some of his department’s funding restored.

RIP Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Moyer

April 2, 2010

Breaking news is that he has passed away at the age of 70.  He was admitted to a Columbus hospital yesterday with an illness that had not been believed to be life threatening.  He served on the Court since 1987 and was planning to retire at the end of his current term at the end of this year.

Ohio Has an Open Senate This Year (If You Didn’t Know That)

April 1, 2010

Some analysis from Salon:

I would be one of those Ohio Dems that is curiously disengaged from this race.  I assume I will support whoever against Rob Portman in the fall.  Lee Fisher has been around forever in Ohio politics and I don’t really have anything against him, but like a lot of Democrats that have run statewide in Ohio he’s frankly rather boring.  Well, really, like a lot of people of either party that have run statewide in Ohio (the words “spellbinding” and “Bob Taft” never having been used in the same sentence either).  As for Brunner she’s newer and fresher, and who doesn’t like the underdog?  Her campaign is better from the standpoint that I get e-mails from her several times a week and have never gotten one from Lee Fisher.  I’ve been more comfortable with her as Secretary of State than I was with Ken Blackwell, but that is damning with faint praise for sure.  So its just a ho-hum boring race.

Ohio Democrats also likely aren’t ultra excited by this race because we have never really been bothered by George Voinovich either.  He’s certainly no firebrand, not a lightning rod for controversy.  I heard him speak in person once when he was Governor; he seemed like a decent enough fellow.  He’s retiring of course and not in this race but I don’t know a ton of people that have been frothing to get this seat when he held it, so again, its ho hum right now.  We’re exciting hoping to win about the way an NBA team is excited about playing a boring opponent in mid-December.  I guess we’ll try to win.

Trig Could FOIL Graduation in Ohio

January 5, 2010

Algebra II will now become a high school graduation requirement in Ohio:

Let’s face it: we all went to high school with people that would have no chance of passing higher level math classes.  Is denying these young people the society entry high school diploma really a good idea?  Its not like being able to combine binomials is generally necessary to succeed in life.  I’m all for imparting as much wisdom as possible to our students, and I deplore the dumbing down of a lot of things in society.  Certainly those planning to go onto college will need Algebra II, if not Calculus.  But I don’t think we should be requiring high level math just to pass high school.


December 30, 2009

Jim Traficant is running for Congress.  Somewhere.

I sincerely hope he doesn’t pick my district, the 6th, which does include the parts of Mahoning County south of Youngstown proper.  If he runs somewhere else I can treat it as entertaining.  If he runs here it’ll just annoy the crap out of me.  And, while you wouldn’t think a convicted felon could get elected to Congress, Jim Traficant is, um, well, he’s a unique person.