Archives for 2010

Columbus Dispatch: Conservatives’ suit alleges Strickland favored unions

Contracts to build schools at heart of corruption claim

Friday, October 15, 2010 02:55 AM
By Darrel Rowland

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

A conservative group sued Gov. Ted Strickland, his chief of staff, the Ohio School Facilities Commission and others yesterday, alleging that they engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity by favoring unions in school-construction contracts.

A lawyer for the Columbus-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed the action on behalf of six

Richland County residents – including the founder of the local tea party – in that county’s Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit parallels many of the August findings of Inspector General Thomas P. Charles about the commission’s pro-union slant after Richard Murray was hired to replace Michael Shoemaker as its head. The suit also names Murray and the Laborers International Union.

“It certainly appears as though union influence over the Strickland administration caused the firing of the prior OSFC director, and the hiring of Murray, with either the instructions or the implicit understanding that Murray would run roughshod over taxpayers and school districts to benefit union allies,” said center Executive Director Maurice Thompson in a news release.

“School districts are making construction decisions within this troublesome framework. This suit aims to clean up the process before additional tax dollars are wasted.”

Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst called the lawsuit “a really sad political stunt” by supporters of GOP opponent John Kasich.

“It’s an embarrassing sign of desperation just weeks before an election. We know that Congressman Kasich and his allies don’t share Ohio values, but to equate the governor’s support for policies that make sure working Ohioans get fair pay for a hard day’s work to corruption is just pathetic.”

The suit alleges that John Haseley, Strickland’s chief of staff, pressured Shoemaker to favor unions, noting that they are major Democratic contributors. Shoemaker was fired in July 2009 after unions threatened to withhold $400,000 in campaign contributions to Strickland, the suit contends.

The lawsuit accuses the Strickland administration of steering work – and state money – to the Laborers union “in exchange for (the union’s) contributions to the re-election campaign fund of Strickland.” The administration took part in bribery, intimidation, obstructing justice and money laundering, the suit alleges.

The complaint alleges instances of corrupt activity by the defendants in the Madison and Shelby school districts in Richland County, the Clay, New Boston and Washington-Nile school districts in Scioto County, and the Fremont school district in Sandusky County.

Gannett News Central Ohio:Lawsuit claims Strickland, Ohio School Facilities Commission engaged in corrupt activity

By LINDA MARTZ • CentralOhio.com • October 15, 2010

MANSFIELD — Six Richland County residents filed a lawsuit through a Columbus-based conservative group Thursday, claiming Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio School Facilities Commission engaged in corrupt activity by favoring unions on school construction projects.

Two Richland County school districts are named as defendants.

The lawsuit focuses partly on an April 12 meeting between Ohio School Facilities Commission director Richard C. Murray, Shelby and Madison school superintendents and Mansfield area union officials.

The lawsuit contends Murray, with encouragement by Strickland and his chief of staff, has pressured school districts to use Project Labor Agreements, which require contractors to hire workers from local union halls, or have their non-union employees pay dues to local unions, for the duration of construction projects.

In a prepared statement, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, whose attorneys filed the civil action, stated, “Tax dollars have been wasted and continue to be at risk due to an unlawfully cozy relationship between the Strickland administration and labor unions.”

“It certainly appears as though union influence over the Strickland administration caused the firing of the prior OSFC director, and the hiring of Murray, with either the instructions or the implicit understanding that Murray would run rough-shod over taxpayers and school districts to benefit union allies,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson said.

“School districts are making construction decisions within this troublesome framework. This suit aims to clean up the process before additional tax dollars are wasted,” Thompson said.

A governor’s spokeswoman said the lawsuit, timed less than three weeks away from the Nov. 2 election, is politically motivated.

“These accusations are flat-out wrong. This is a really sad political stunt. It’s an embarrassing sign of desperation just weeks before an election,” Amanda Wurst said.

The civil action focuses on Murray, who replaced Michael Shoemaker as executive director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission after Strickland came into office, and is a member of LIUNA Local No. 423.

The lawsuit says at the April 12 meeting, Murray told Madison and Shelby school superintendents that “construction problems” occurred in the absence of PLAs, and that the commission had begun to use them because of this.

It alleges that union officials, including some affiliated with LIUNA, offered school officials their support passing upcoming levies each of the two districts placed on the ballot.

AP: Suit against Ohio governor alleges favoritism

October 15, 2010 3:35 PM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A libertarian legal center has sued Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, key aides and a labor union alleging they engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity regarding school construction contracts.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law filed the suit on behalf of 6 residents of Richland County in north-central Ohio. It cites August findings of the state watchdog that Strickland’s schools construction chief, Richard Murray, abused his authority in awarding contracts.

The suit accuses Strickland, his chief of staff, Murray and the Laborers International Union of bribery, intimidation, obstructing justice, and money laundering.

The governor’s spokeswoman calls the suit an act of election-season desperation by supporters of Strickland’s political opponent, Republican John Kasich.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ohio RICO Complaint Filed to Stop School Construction Corruption

1851 Center Lawsuit alleges Strickland administration and OSFC placed union financial interests and remaining in office above fiscal responsibility in building schools.

COLUMBUS – Tax dollars have been wasted and continue to be at risk due to an unlawfully cozy relationship between the Strickland administration and labor unions, claim a group of Mansfield-area taxpayers. The residents today filed an Ohio Corrupt Activities Act complaint against Gov. Ted Strickland, Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) Executive Director Richard Murray, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and others. The suit will demonstrate members of the Strickland administration, organized labor, and Murray used the OSFC and school building construction contracts to engage in pattern of corrupt activities expressly prohibited under Ohio’s RICO laws. [Read more…]

Victory: Gahanna Backs Down on High-Risk Loan Fund

October 18, 2010 – Taxpayer Victory: Gahanna Indefinitely Postpones Ill-Advised $375K High-Risk Venture Capital Loan Fund

Gahanna City Council indefinitely postponed a vote authorizing a city-backed $375,000 high-risk venture capital loan fund after the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law threatened legal action against the city.

Gahanna City Council had proposed an ordinance permitting the mayor to contract with the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) for the creation of a venture capital loan fund. The fund would issue high-interest and interest-only loans to local businesses and individuals considered high-risk by conventional lenders.

During a Sept. 7 council meeting, 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson advised city officials against the constitutionally prohibited plan. Thompson informed council members that the Ohio Constitution (Section 6, Article VII) prohibits the city from “raising money for or loaning its credit to any private company, corporation or association.” Further, according to Ohio Supreme Court precedent, this constitutional provision is intended to protect taxpayers from the risks associated with the failure of a private project.

After Thompson’s presentation, council members decided to postpone a vote on the ordinance by two weeks while they review the consequences of the impending legal challenge. Council members’ decision to permanently drop the proposal is a significant victory for Gahanna residents, whose tax dollars will not be put a risk under this ill-conceived proposal.

The venture capital fund would have:

  • Used tax dollars to fund private enterprise;
  • Issued loans to individuals who lack conventional collateral or posed a high risk and may have been turned down by conventional lenders;
  • Issued loans at high interest rates of up to 12 percent; and
  • Allowed loans to be repaid on an interest-only basis.

In addition, the scuttled ordinance would have allowed the city to recover funds from defaulted loans by seizing an individual’s personal property, including “vehicles, personal items, antiques, collectibles jewelry, or livestock.”

 

 

 

 

October 13, 2010: ThisWeek Community News, Mayor Asks to Postpone Loan Fund

Merrill v. State of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

 

September 14, 2011 – Ohio Supreme Court Protects Property Rights

The court held that the State of Ohio extends to the natural shoreline, which is “the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes.” The court reiterated its role as a protector of private property rights against state incursions and reminded the state that private property rights are expressly protected in the Ohio Constitution.

October 1, 2010 – The Ohio AG’s Land-Grab on the Lake

The 1851 Center filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Ohio to stop Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray’s redefinition of property rights along Lake Erie.

The AG and several left-wing environmental interest groups now claim that because the State of Ohio owns the waters of Lake Erie, it also owns the beaches of Lake Erie. However, property owners along the lake have deeds that demonstrate their ownership, have paid taxes on the land for years, and were previously told (by the state) that they owned the land. The state is proceeding under the “Public Trust Doctrine,” which says it owns navigable waters and wild animals in Ohio. This is the first time Ohio’s politicians have attempted to extend the doctrine to dry land.

Both state and federal courts have supported the residents’ legal position. However, Attorney General Cordray has appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Ohio, despite being told by lower courts that he lacks standing to pursue the matter, since he has no client in the case.

“Ohioans have a constitutional right to acquire, possess, use and dispose of their private property in a way that does not harm others. Lake Erie property owners have owned this land since Ohio became a state. Only now, with dollar signs in its eyes, does the political class claim that it has always owned the property, and that lakefront owners must actually lease it back from the state,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson said in the court filing.

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2011 – Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Supreme Court should rule soon on Lake Erie private v. public shoreline battle

September 23, 2010 – Maurice Thompson discusses the case on the Fred LeFebvre Show –

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September 20, 2010 1851 Center’s Amicus Brief

Federal Court Upholds Andover Township Residents’ Constitutional Rights

Andover Park

1851 Center Wins Injunction Against Andover Township Officials Who Blocked Constitution Day Rally

(COLUMBUS) Wednesday a federal court granted the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law a temporary injunction against Andover Township in Ashtabula County. The ruling is a victory for Andover Township residents who were previously blocked by township officials from celebrating Constitutional Day (Sept. 17) with a rally at a public park. [Read more…]

Slingluff v. Andover Twp.

 

The First Amendment clearly protects the right to gather on the public square, speak out in support of limited constitutional government, and critique the current state of affairs. The government’s action in this case, ironically, demonstrates the need for greater public understanding of Constitutional rights. One way to do that is through commemoration of Constitution Day.

September 10, 2010 – 1851 Center Files Federal Court Action to Defend First Amendment Rights

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today filed a complaint and temporary restraining order against Andover Township (Ashtabula County) in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. The complaint charges that township trustees’ actions blocking a Constitution Day (Sept. 17) rally on Andover Public Square, by local residents, violated the First Amendment. The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.

Township officials informed the residents that speech at the Constitution Day rally could be of a “political nature,” and thus inappropriate for the public square.

The decision to deny access to the park was made in accordance with a township resolution allowing officials to determine public space usage “on a case by case basis,” and to ban speech that they deem too “political.” However, the park in question is a common gathering point for public events that often have far more political overtones. Officials made no inquiry as to the size of the rally, or other pertinent logistical concerns.

September 15, 2010: 1851 Center Wins Injunction Against Andover Township Officials Who Blocked Constitution Day Rally

A federal court granted the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law a temporary injunction against Andover Township in Ashtabula County. The ruling is a victory for Andover Township residents who were previously blocked by township officials from celebrating Constitutional Day (Sept. 17) with a rally at a public park.

The order was issued by Judge Donald C. Nugent.

The 1851 Center, a non-partisan public interest law firm, is representing residents Margaret L. Slingluff, Emily Kobialko and Scott Bankson, organizers of the “Andover Tea Party,” in the action.

Media

  • September 15, 2010: Fox News:  Tea Party Wins Fight
  • September 16, 2010: The Rush Limbaugh Show: 

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  • September 17, 2010: Beforeitnews.com: Constitution Day Too Political
  • Listen to Maurice Thompson on WTVN AM 610’s Dirk Thompson show: 

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Filings

Motion for Temporary Restraining Order
Memo in support of Temporary Restraining Order
Andover Township letter to residents blocking the rally
Judge Nugent’s Order

Is the Individual Mandate Unprecedented?

Back in March, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced that Ohio would not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the federal healthcare law) because the suits did not “have any legal merit whatsoever.” He based his decision, in part, on his expansive reading of the Commerce Clause.   [Read more…]

Where is the State of Ohio in the Fight against Obamacare?

According to a March 2010 press release issued by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, our state will not be joining other state lawsuits against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the official name of the federal health care law) because the suits do not have “any legal merit whatsoever.” [Read more…]