Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cleveland consent decree provides blueprint for long-elusive police reforms

Cleveland's Division of Police, for years a source of civil-rights complaints and racial tensions, could see long-elusive reforms under a deal announced Tuesday by Mayor Frank Jackson and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The scope of the settlement, known as a consent decree, is sweeping.

A 105-page document will serve as a blueprint for overhauling policies that federal lawyers say promoted excessive force. It also demands more accountability and transparency from officers and their supervisors when justifying the use of force.

Perhaps most ambitiously, it aims to mend a frayed relationship between police and the community. Citizens would have a larger role and louder voice through a 13-member advisory committee established to recommend improvements.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Activists continue march for justice after the Michael Brelo acquittal 

Peaceful protests gave way to skirmishes and arrests Saturday, following the acquittal of a Cleveland police officer involved in a deadly 2012 shootout that presented the latest test to a city navigating unprecedented tensions between its citizens and law enforcement.

Mayor Frank Jackson and other city leaders had for weeks prepared for the worst – the possibility of dangerous and damaging riots like those that broke out after other police-community conflicts in Ferguson, Missouri, and, more recently, Baltimore.

For the most part, they got the calm they had urged. Protesters were high on emotion. But in the hours after the verdict, as they moved from the Justice Center and folded into neighborhood demonstrations or resurfaced later in the evening downtown, they remained nonviolent if increasingly disruptive.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

John Kasich pokes the organized labor bear

If you're keeping tabs on Gov. John Kasich's possible presidential campaign, prepare to hear a lot more about his move Friday to end collective bargaining for home health and in-home child care workers.

Organized labor will see it as Senate Bill 5 Light, a smaller version of the measure Kasich backed in 2011 to restrict bargaining by public-employee unions. Voters overwhelmingly repealed the law at the ballot box later that year.

And many will see Kasich's move as a politically calculated step timed to enhance his conservative credentials as he prepares to launch a White House bid.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

First Republican presidential debate in Cleveland could be limited to 10 candidates

Fox News announced Wednesday that it will limit the number of participants at the first Republican debate in Cleveland -- a decision that could exclude the field's only woman and the Ohio governor playing host.

Only hopefuls who have officially announced their candidacies and who rank in the top 10 in an average of five recent national polls will score invitations from the cable network, which will broadcast the Aug. 6 event at The Q.

"We support and respect the decision Fox has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an emailed statement.

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Where would John Kasich announce his run for president? A closer look at 9 possibilities

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his allies have been sending signals that the response to his presidential explorations is strong. A Kasich 2016 campaign now seems less a matter of if – and more a matter of when and where.

The "when" doesn't leave much room for guessing. Kasich told a Columbus television station last week that he will make his intentions known before the first Republican debate, scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

The "where" invites much more speculation.

These official announcements have turned into major media events. Precise choreography and a finely tuned message can help a mid- or low-tier candidate break away from the pack. And picking the right location is key. Every backdrop provides a backstory.

So where might Kasich launch his White House candidacy? Those close to the governor would not give any hints this week when asked by the Northeast Ohio Media Group. But there are at least nine locations that could work on one level or another.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Republicans preparing for crowded debate stage at first debate in Cleveland -- but just how crowded?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Republican National Committee leaders describe their party's ever-growing field of presidential candidates as an embarrassment of riches.

What if it's only an embarrassment?

What if a dozen or more candidates make the early debates an unwieldy mess? What if the flavor-of-the-month carousel that hurt 2012 nominee Mitt Romney spins again, despite RNC Chairman Reince Priebus' best efforts to limit such a spectacle?

These conversations dominated the hallways here this week as the RNC held its spring meeting. Tops on everyone's mind was the first debate, set for Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Nobody knows how many of the nearly 20 credible contenders will be allowed on stage.

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After growing pains, GOP leaders say Cleveland's convention team is back on track

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Cleveland, like host cities before it, is working through some growing pains as it prepares for the Republican National Convention.

That much was clear here this week as GOP leaders held their spring meeting, a mix of politicking and planning that all will culminate at the big July 2016 event.

What's not clear is if the pains will run deeper than problems with reserving hotel rooms and an abrupt change in leadership atop Cleveland's Host Committee.

Publicly, Republicans say things are moving in the right direction. No one was willing to share concerns on the record. But several acknowledged that early frustrations must not fester if Cleveland is to deliver the can-do hospitality it promised.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Connecting the political dots of Josh Mandel's Marco Rubio endorsement and John Kasich snub

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Matt Borges was steaming.

The Ohio GOP chairman was here Wednesday in the desert for the start of the Republican National Committee's spring meeting when Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel announced his endorsement of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for president.

The move came as Gov. John Kasich, Mandel's fellow Ohio Republican, edges closer to a White House campaign of his own. It also came with Rubio already established as a top-tier candidate and Kasich still eager to make a splash or, at the very least, looking to avoid being embarrassed by someone from his home team.

Borges, a top Kasich booster, couldn't help himself. He texted one reporter airborne for Phoenix for the RNC meetings and called another back home to vent.

So what does all this political intrigue mean? And why does it matter?

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Monday, May 11, 2015

First Republican presidential debate on track for Aug. 6 at The Q in Cleveland

Fox News, which will sponsor the first Republican presidential debate, is expected to announce soon that it has settled on Aug. 6 at The Q in Cleveland, GOP sources have told the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

The Republican National Committee announced in January that Ohio would host the party's first clash of 2016 contenders. And it was little secret that Cleveland was the preferred location, given that the city is hosting the RNC's summer meeting the first week of August, as well as the GOP's nominating convention next year.

But it took time to settle on a date and place. Scouts with the party and Fox News spent months sizing up possible venues -- The Q and Public Auditorium were believed to be the two finalists -- and hammering out details.

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Democratic presidential power rankings, May edition

Before Republicans gather in Cleveland next year to officially nominate their presidential candidate, they’ll have to sift through as many as 20 serious prospects.

That’s clearly not the case on the Democratic side, where the state of the race can best be summed up as Hillary Clinton and Everyone Else. At this early stage, the only real question is whether a candidate might succeed in moving the former U.S. secretary of state further to the left or whether someone might set himself up for 2020.

Yet Clinton could always stumble. Democratic eyes could always wander to someone new (see 2008, when Barack Obama took a jackhammer to Clinton’s seeming inevitability). There’s no Obama-like figure in this 2016 field – not yet, anyway – but there are some other hopefuls ready to play if Clinton can’t answer the bell.

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Republican presidential power rankings, May edition

The GOP field seems to grow by the day. Since our first rankings landed last month, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee all officially launched their campaigns. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has made some important moves.

Rick Santorum is expected to make his 2016 intentions clear May 27. Meanwhile, a number of fringe prospects, from former New York Gov. George Pataki to real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump, are still testing the waters.

At this rate, there’s not a stage big enough to hold every hopeful of generally high repute at the first Republican debate, scheduled for Cleveland this summer.

So let’s hear it for Rick Snyder. Just when it appeared he was about to join the pack, the Michigan governor said Thursday that he would not be running for president.

Here’s how the race looks 14 months before the start of the July 2016 Republican National Convention, also scheduled for Cleveland. Candidates are ranked based on their likelihood of being nominated.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Scott Walker once bashed the auto bailouts, but now he's balking. Will the issue be a factor in 2016?

At an Oldsmobile museum in Michigan this week, Scott Walker dodged a question about the federal loans that rescued the U.S. auto industry.

"That's a hypothetical question from the past," the Wisconsin governor and likely Republican presidential candidate replied, according to accounts from multiple local reporters. "I think what we're going to talk about is the future."

Walker's sidestep is as good a sign as any that, nearly seven years later, the so-called bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors remain a politically sensitive subject for Republicans eager to expand their party's electoral map in 2016.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

John Kasich's presidential campaign hinges on one last question: Can he raise enough cash?

Wherever John Kasich goes these days, people – mainly reporters, but also some curious Republicans – have the same question.

Is the Ohio governor running for president?

Kasich never gives a yes or no and, really, it's almost absurd to ask. He has a national fundraising committee, formed in part to test whether the GOP's big-money crowd will invest in his White House prospects. This week he will make his third trip in less than two months to New Hampshire, which hosts the nation's first primary. He has been on at least one news show each of the last three Sundays.

Bottom line, Kasich is running until he says he's not. And this week at a downtown Cleveland pizza shop, as he worked through a couple of slices of pepperoni, he made clear there is only one thing that can keep him from running: A lack of dough.

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John Kasich builds his 2016 team

Matt Carle, the veteran Ohio operative who steered Gov. John Kasich to a landslide re-election win last year, will manage Kasich's new national political committee as the Republican explores a bid for president in 2016.

The move, which the governor confirmed this week in an interview with the Northeast Ohio Media Group, signals a big role for Carle if Kasich runs.

Carle could find himself in charge of the campaign itself or with a group that could promote Kasich's candidacy but not coordinate with the campaign. Kasich also said Jeff Polesovsky, Carle's deputy on the 2014 re-election, has signed on with New Day for America, the nonprofit organization Kasich's allies established last month.

Dave Luketic, another Kasich insider who served as political director for the Ohio Republican Party and for the governor's re-election campaign, is working for New Day for America, too. Luketic was a key architect of Kasich's recent national tour to promote a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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