Who wanted John Kasich’s White House visit, anyway?

  Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 View in browser  


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Invitation altercation: Ohio Gov. John Kasich and President Donald Trump have agreed to meet Friday at the White House. But what’s not agreed upon is who sought the visit, cleveland.com’s Henry J. Gomez reports. Kasich adviser John Weaver, along with another source close to the governor, said the president asked Kasich to come. But White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the sit-down was Kasich’s idea and that the governor had pressed for a visit on “multiple occasions."

Press play: Kasich is scheduled to be the keynote speaker during the March 27 award ceremony for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting in Washington, D.C., according to Syracuse University, which sponsors the award. The Columbus Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow tweeted that the appearance shows the governor is “polishing up his the-media-is-essential cred."

Seitz to renew mandate fight: Last year, Kasich vetoed Bill Seitz’s proposal to make Ohio’s renewable energy standards voluntary for two years. On Tuesday, Seitz said he’ll try again – this time, with a bill to turn all of the mandates into goals until they expire in 10 years, reports Tom Knox of Columbus Business First. The GOP lawmaker from Cincinnati, speaking at an energy management conference in Columbus, also pledged to allow every Ohio power customer, from individuals to businesses, to opt out of the goals.

Money matters, part 1: Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office has spent more than $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars on TV ads to boost an investment program for disabled Ohioans – more money than has been paid so far to manage the investment accounts. As cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt writes, Mandel, who’s running for U.S. Senate in 2018, “dodged scrutiny of the self-promotional ads by spending less than $50,000 at each TV station, so the buys were not subject to external review." In addition, a cost breakdown of the ads released by Mandel’s office only detailed about half the money spent on the ads. A Mandel spokesman said the treasurer’s office has been transparent about the ad buys, which he said are needed to raise awareness of the program.

Money matters, part 2: The Ohio Department of Transportation, with congressional approval, is redirecting $35.3 million in unspent federal money to other projects, cleveland.com’s Stephen Koff reports.

For example, a large chunk of an $8.6 million earmark for a never-realized ferry between Cleveland and Ontario will go to improve gates, roads and bulkheads at the Port of Cleveland. Some communities, such as Lakewood, were left empty-handed, though.



Putting the band back together: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was set to join U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cleveland on Tuesday night for an “energizing" fundraiser at the House of Blues, with tickets costing between $150 and $1,000 each. An Ohio Republican Party release mockingly ripped into the event, dubbing the event an “obstructionist sideshow" featuring Schumer and Brown, the “Blues Brothers."

Brown targeted by pro-Gorsuch activists: The Judicial Crisis Network, a coalition of right-leaning groups, is organizing events this week on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch in Ohio and other states where vulnerable Senate Democrats are up for re-election in 2018, writes Politico’s Burgess Everett. Republicans need to peel off at least eight Democratic votes to avoid a filibuster on Gorsuch’s nomination (that is, unless they change the rules).

RTA could hit funding pothole: “The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority could lose $19 million each year starting in 2019 if Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal is approved," writes The Plain Dealer’s Ginger Christ. That’s because the governor’s budget plan “only offers temporary relief for transit agencies that will lose funding from the end of a sales and use tax on Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs)." RTA CEO Joe Calabrese said the tax hit “would have to mean some reduction in service."

Cranley burnishes his liberal cred: Democratic Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, during his re-election campaign kickoff Tuesday afternoon, fought critics’ portrayals of him as a Republican, using the word “progressive" four times in his prepared remarks, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jason Williams. The mayor, who faces two Democratic opponents, also proposed a Hamilton County sales tax increase to roll back the earnings tax and spend more on city infrastructure.

Debuting this week on cleveland.com: “Ohio Matters" — a series that will take readers to six very different areas of the Buckeye State as we contemplate the Trump era and its impact here.

On Wednesday, Andrew J. Tobias will report on his findings from Cleveland and Jefferson County. Look for similar stories from me and Mary Kilpatrick later in the week. Here’s an introductory piece from cleveland.com’s Rich Exner.

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