Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cesar Chavez Day

Above, Cesar, Walter Reuther, and Larry Itilong. Top right, Chavez in Toledo (Photo linked from La Prensa). Lower right, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Chavez.

In more progressive states in our country, today is Cesar Chavez Day. Tonight I attended the 2nd Annual Adelante Cesar Chavez Humanitarian Awards Banquet at the University of Toledo. Alot of friends, great food by El Camino Real, and a dynamite program. Sat across from Mayor Ford, his daughter, and his wife, Cynthia. Little did we know that as we sat there the Carty-Kest gang was busy kicking people out of the county Democratic Party. (including me!) Instead of honoring one of the great Americans of the 20th century - and an incomparable labor leader - our local party was making up crazy rules to justify the selfish ambitions of Carty and the Kest gang. Its too bad, there are many good Democrats, including the new chair, who are caught up in all this.

In any event, the high point of the evening was when everyone at the banquet were christened members of the "Chavez family" - fighters across race, class, age, and other divisions, engaged in the battle to lift up the poor and pursue social justice.

My family is a family of Hungarian immigrants - my mom was born there, and my grandparents still send money and exchange cards & letters with family in the old country. What brought my family here, and the dreams that have propelled us across generations, are the same as so many of the migrants of today. I have a sense of deep solidarity with their struggles, as they have been the struggles of my family too. I hope that my activism and service honors those who have labored before me, and I'll continue to work hard and fight for a political movement that respects all people, and looks at the big picture.

With the spirit of Cesar Chavez in mind I offer the above images and a moving speech where Chavez shares his reflections on the work and meaning of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cesar E. Chavez, January 12, 1990. 
Click for link to speech: Lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Finally warming up! Got the yard raked & cleaned. Had to level out a huge gash in the front lawn from a midwinter snow plow. Did a little kayaking with my son. We saw 2 turtles, 2 ducks, 2 geese and 2 deer as we plied a section in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark located here in Toledo. Downloaded Springsteen's new single "Devils & Dust" from iTunes - a rootsy, searching song that reminds me of "Blood Brothers" and "Youngstown" - its an excellent piece from his new work to be released April 26 - with a summer tour to follow!! And Opening Day is less than a week out.

Tonight my imagination got "spring cleaning" at a great ideas meeting led by John Henry Fullen, a young downtown developer. Dozens of young people & progressives got together to debate how to put into practice the principles of New Urbanism - how can we lure more arts & culture, more housing, more pedestrians downtown? if we can, jobs will come with them. How do we provide incentives for urbanist development, thereby creating jobs, attracting people, and revitalizing our core? Then there was this exchange on the spirit of community and what that meant for public art and cleaning up our streets and neighborhoods and creeks. How do we get Toledoans to buy local & support local economic development, with an emphasis on entreprenuers & small business. Some of this work is being done statewide at Greater Ohio. A local web site is being developed with all this and more - I'll link when its ready.

I can link now the Communitarian Platform. Although it has a 1991 ring to it (when it was first drafted & I first read it as a student at GW), balancing individual rights and social responsibility is as pertinent this spring as ever.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

More Progressive Organizing

Americans Coming Together will gather in Cleveland to continue organizing progressives in Ohio. Our work must not stop. Contact me about carpooling to the event on April 16th. Read about ACT's plan for the future.

Don't forget Mayor Ford's Kickoff at 1111 Adams on April 9th.

Also contact me if you are interested in an April 12 bus trip to Columbus with Stop Ohio's Slide to work against regressive tax and spending plans by Gov. Taft and the GOP Legislature.

The Ohio Democratic Party will hold its 2005 State Dinner on Saturday, May 21st at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will be our featured speaker. Tickets are $150 per person. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please contact Denise Gastesi

Thursday, March 24, 2005

No Social Security Crisis

Attention Americans under 55! These meetings are about YOUR retirement!

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur kicked off a series of town hall meetings on Social Security last night in Sylvania - and though I'm sure its reassuring for the retirees who attended - the Bush privatization plan will radically reduce benefits for those currently under 55. Use this calculator to find out what it means to you - and then hit one of the upcoming Kaptur town halls to ask questions. Read this from The Washington Post showing plummeting support for Bush's plan. (registration required)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Toledo Works, A Winner

Toledo Works opens a new front in the battle to create jobs in Toledo. And its a good thing. We must act to maintain and attract jobs and development, and marketing our city to folks who make economic development decisions is a winning move.

The Toledo Works website invites people to share their economic success stories, learn about some of the big drivers in Toledo's economic rebound, and provides a download of a morale-boosting sign to get everyone involved in making Toledo Works a success.

Ignore the naysayers, Toledo Works - and through working together, our success is growing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Courage, Not Fear

149 out of nearly 500 possible Lucas County Democratic precinct committee members met last night and installed Jack Wilson as party chair. Fritz Wenzel reports in this morning's Blade that WIlson said "Hate is a good thing" and that Carty Finkbeiner agreed with him - supposedly in the context that disunity within the local Demorcatic party helps us win elections.


Carty has led this self-centered effort for the past 2 years, behind the scenes, and while employed as an on-air political commentator at WTVG Channel 13-ABC. His actions and words reflect shamefully on his associates, WTVG, 1817 Madison Avenue and the present officials of the LCDP.

A few weeks ago I publicly asked Carty to dispense with running for Mayor this year, to act like an elder statesman and help heal divisions. His response, available at (in the archives) is "No Way." He and his boosters have been on the phone and running around all over town for months "promising" jobs, threatening people, and asking for campaign cash commitments. Carty is responsible for stirring up the sentiments reflected in Wilson's remarks.

Hate is fear. The present Lucas County Democratic Party is now consumed with fear. Sure, Kerry lost to Bush, the GOP presently dominates our state and is pointing daggers at the foundations of organized labor, threatening prevailing wage, taking away labor's voice through big money campaign finance reform, and even Right-to-Work is being mentioned in Columbus. Jobs and benefits are being threatened. There are unmistakable racial fears to all this, too. A generation of us have grown up only knowing diversity - not the open & sanctioned racial divisions of our parents youth.

The response to fear is not hate, not appealing to our base instincts. The response to fear is courage, its finding noble words and deeds that inspire us to our better angels.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

300 at Szollosi-Ford Unity Rally

I was humbled and honored tonight by a rally for my re-election to Toledo City Council and in support of Mayor Jack Ford (above, right - his campaign kick-off is April 9). Hosted by UAW Region 2-B and Regional Director Lloyd Mahaffey (above, left) and attended by hundreds, we set a positive and upbeat tone to the 2005 election season and vowed to fight on and take back Ohio in 2006. Board of Lucas County Commissioners President Tina Skeldon Wozniak (above, center) and Toledo City Councilwoman Karyn McConnell-Hancock (and her newborn son, LJ) joined us for a short program. Rev. John E. Roberts, Pastor at Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church gave the invocation, which followed an awe-inspiring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by veteran Rex Shanahan.

It's late, my wife and I are tired (she did the heavy lifting for the event) and I've got to board a bus tomorrow morning at 6:30am with Toledo Police, Fire, and municipal workers to Columbus to fight cuts to the Local Government Fund (I'll blog from the road.) Enjoy some quick snapshots and check back for multimedia coverage of tonight's event.

Toledo Federation of Teachers President Fran Lawrence. Dozens of teachers attended the event, many from Jones Jr High on Broadway where my dad teaches.

Supporters Jim Ruvolo and Gretchen DeBacker.

Oregon City Councilman Jeff Keller, an attorney and future Oregon Judge.

Even my son Lucas got into the swing of things - helping us clean up after the event!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

FEC To Make Rules on Blogs

Fellow bloggers, on the left and on the right, are organizing a defense of free speech as the Federal Elections Commission proceeds to begin rule making on blogs and the internet.

I signed a letter joining the Online Coalition asking the FEC to grant bloggers the same protections afforded broadcast media, newspapers, or periodicals by clearly including them under the FEC’s “media exemption” rule. You can sign it too, if you agree.

There has been remarkable disharmony among the FEC Commissioners about all this, with good analysis from Richard Hasen and a timely report from Micah Sifry

Adding a Multimedia Edge

If we are going to win elections and successfully govern, Democrats need to find ways to deliver message past the GOP voices within the Clear Channel, Sinclair and FoxNews Broadcasting empires (as well as past the local cartyformayor show, despite carty's wish to be crowned Emperor)

To that end, innovators are building online multimedia tools to mobilize and inform activists: is part news, part funny game show, and all progressive content. Download a Windows MediaPlayer if the show doesnt go on.

Air America Radio and Workers Indepedent News (WIN) are two great audio feeds.

Reality Check - America Works! is a series of 2004 news programs that looks at issues from the perspective of working families, and is an innovative production of UAW Region 2-B.

Check back soon for more pathbreaking progressive multimedia

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fight for Clean Air Continues

Today I'm blogging from Columbus, where advocates for public health are gathering to plot a statewide strategy on clean indoor air.

I joined City Council members from Lakewood, near Cleveland, and Centerville, near Dayton to address a couple of the sessions.

First, some bad news. Toledo's clean air defeat this past November has set back clean air efforts in Cleveland and Dayton, among other cities. In fact, I am sorry to report that Arnie Elzey and friends are popping up at City Councils around the state and misrepresent what's been happening in Toledo. There must be a counter attack.

The good news is that clean air advocates in Ohio have been working hard and smart and are poised for a big fight. And some striking stats...according to RTI's Survey of Adult Smokers, only the NW Ohio region saw a drop in smoking..going from 32.4 percent in 2003 down to 20.2 percent in 2004. Other regions in OH went up or stayed flat. Moral: smoking bans and even the debate resylt in lower smoking rates, less death and disease and suffering.

The battle for clean air in Ohio is about to be joined.

We Need a Democratic Governor in Ohio

"About the only good news to
report is that Bob Taft is term limited and
cannot run for office again."

This sums up not a liberal-Democratic critique of our Governor, but is the opinion of the conservative CATO Institute in Washington, DC & its just released annual report card on Governors. Gov. Taft gets an F, particularly for the record tax hikes he and his Republican Legislators have pushed through since 1999.

Even today, splashed across front pages statewide, tax and fee increases that hurt Ohio's middle class continue (Ohio Parks Discontinue Free Parking), and our own Republican Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou is on a utility rate jihad against the GOP dominated Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. And the GOP's wrong priorities are likely to result in a $3 million cut for disabled children in Toledo Public Schools.

Ahh, but we need to cut income taxes for the wealthiest in Ohio by more than 20%, says the Governor! (late in his term)

There is a new thread going on the Ohio Democratic Party's blog with reaction to today's scathing Cleveland Plain Dealer column on the good Governor.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Martin Sheen for US Senate?

Sources tell me that President Bartlett is considering a run for the Senate from Ohio in 2006. Sheen is from Dayton. More details to follow...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bush Budget Impact on Ohio

Download this red hot briefing from the Democratic National Committee.