Tag Archives: columbus

John Glenn has died at age 95

Former astronaut and Sen. John Glenn died on Thursday, Dec. 8, at age 95 at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.

In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Glenn. The White House’s tribute from that year reads: Medal of Freedom recipient John Glenn is a former U.S. Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and U.S. senator. In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth. After retiring from the Marine Corps, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 1974. He was an architect and sponsor of the 1978 Nonproliferation Act and served as chairman of the Senate Government Affairs committee from 1987 until 1995. In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at the age of 77. He retired from the Senate in 1999. Glenn is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Astronaut John Glenn.
Astronaut John Glenn.


Democrats near decision on 2016 convention site

For Democrats, New York would offer a diverse tableau in liberal Brooklyn and a touch of Clinton nostalgia. Philadelphia would give the party a patriotic backdrop while Columbus would raise the curtain on another campaign showdown in Ohio.

Democrats are closing in on a final decision on where to hold their 2016 convention, a site that could serve as a passing of the baton from President Barack Obama to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading contender for the Democratic nomination should she run for president again.

With a price tag of at least $65 million, the choice will come down to whether to set the stage for Obama’s Democratic successor in a big city or in the confines of another battleground state. Obama was formally nominated in Denver in 2008 and in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012, allowing his campaign to use the events to register new voters and recruit volunteers in states crucial to his political map. The three cities in the hunt for the 2016 host venue have been negotiating with the Democratic National Committee and a final decision is expected in late January or early February.

New York, the nation’s largest city, has been a popular choice in the past, holding Democratic conventions in 1976, 1980 and 1992, when former President Bill Clinton was first nominated at Madison Square Garden. The city has played up its diversity as the home to a large Latino population and organizers are confident that Brooklyn’s bid – the first time New York has pitched a political convention outside Manhattan – wouldn’t have trouble raising money.

Hillary Clinton represented New York in the Senate and the Clintons live in nearby Westchester County, where the former secretary of state’s presidential campaign is expected to be headquartered should she seek the nomination, as widely expected.

Philadelphia’s organizers point to the city’s heritage as the home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were adopted, along with its convenient East Coast location and compact, easy-to-navigate community.

Columbus, meanwhile, would bring the convention to one of the nation’s top presidential battleground states and offer a convenient rebuttal to Republicans, who are holding their July 2016 convention in Cleveland.

Downplaying symbolism, party leaders say their choice will be based on practical matters such as finances, transportation, security and available hotel rooms. Organizers of the 2012 convention in Charlotte struggled with fundraising and some delegates at past conventions have complained of long commutes from far-flung hotels.

“This decision will primarily center around logistics, financing and security, but we have three excellent options and are looking forward to a diverse and inclusive 2016 convention that displays our party’s values,” said Lily Adams, a DNC spokeswoman.

Democrats also need to pick a date, which could factor into the party’s 2016 strategy. Republicans will hold their Cleveland convention from July 18-21. Democrats are considering either the week of July 25, immediately after the Republican event, or the week of Aug. 22, following the Summer Olympics.

Here’s a look at the three cities vying for the convention:


PROS: Brooklyn has become its own brand, a comeback story that is a symbol of youthful energy and urban cool. The convention would be held at the gleaming Barclays Center, arguably the nation’s most state-of-the-art arena, while delegates would split their time between Brooklyn and Manhattan just a few subway stops away. Along with its fundraising ability, New York’s Brooklyn has become a symbol of liberalism, embodied by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will still be in office in 2016.

CONS: The ongoing rift between de Blasio and rank-and-file members of the New York Police Department threatens to overshadow the bid in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of two police officers and protests over police conduct in the Eric Garner case. The city’s tense relationship with the NYPD unions – who are working on an expired contract – could be a problem at Barclays, which will rely heavily on the department to provide security. A New York location could also put a spotlight on Clinton’s ties to Wall Street at a time when some liberals vilify the financial industry.

QUOTE: “Brooklyn matters, because Brooklyn has shown the way – this amazing renaissance over the last few decades, a place that was often the underdog is now the envy of the world.” – de Blasio.


PROS: Columbus, Ohio’s capital city, sits at the heart of a coveted political swing state. The last Democrat to win the White House without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960 and no Republican ever has. One study found 147.5 million people, or 48 percent of the U.S. population, live within a day’s drive of Columbus. The convention would be held at Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, and the neighborhood includes a convention center and an array of restaurants, bars and hotels. Republicans’ choice of Cleveland might give Democrats an incentive to make a quick counterpoint before the state’s coveted voter base.

CONS: Columbus does not have the national reputation of its two rivals and has never staged a national convention for either party. The city lacks a robust subway system and its bus system doesn’t effectively serve some of the hotel clusters around Columbus’ outskirts, where delegates may be staying. The decision by local police to pepper spray crowds of fans celebrating Ohio State University’s national football championship could also be considered.

QUOTE: “There are few events that provide us the opportunity to showcase our city on a national stage, and we are ready to put forth our best effort and show the DNC and the entire nation just what Columbus is all about.” – Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman.


PROS: A highly walkable and historic city, Philadelphia has been the home to a variety of large events and played host to the Republican National Convention in 2000. The Vatican chose Philadelphia as the site for the World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis will attend in September. Philadelphia has a booming millennial population, a demographic that Democrats want to capture in next year’s election. Clinton also has ties to Pennsylvania – her father was born in Scranton and she has longtime allies in the state such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, an ex-chairman of the DNC. Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in every presidential election since 1992 but Republicans hope for a breakthrough there.

CONS: Though the main political gathering would take place at the Wells Fargo Center sports arena, some smaller events would be held at a downtown convention center involved in a major dispute with the carpenters union. During the Republican convention in 2000, police were criticized for their heavy-handed dealings with protesters.

QUOTE: “The road to the White House leads right through the city of Philadelphia.” – Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Democrats to check out potential 2016 convention sites

Democrats plan to travel to six cities this summer to evaluate potential sites for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Officials with the Democratic National Committee are studying how each city might accommodate the tens of thousands of party leaders and activists who will flock to the convention, where the party will nominate its next presidential candidate.

The DNC said it will visit:

• Birmingham, Alabama, on July 21-22.

• Cleveland on Aug. 4-5.

• Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 6-7.

• New York City on Aug. 11-12.

• Philadelphia on Aug. 13-14.

• Phoenix on Sept. 10-11.

The group will be led by Amy Dacey, the DNC’s chief executive officer, and review potential venues, hotels and transportation options for delegates, party activists and media.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to announce the host city later this year or in early 2015.

Republicans have two finalists for its convention: Dallas and Cleveland. The Republican National Committee is scheduled to select the winning convention site later this summer.

Democrats have an exclusivity requirement, meaning if Republicans select Cleveland, that city would not be in the running to hold the Democratic party’s convention, said DNC spokeswoman Lily Adams.

Ohio judge bans right-wing Minutemen protests in front of church

Members of a right-wing Christian group cannot protest in the land in front of one of Ohio’s largest churches, a central Ohio judge ruled this week.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider sided with Vineyard Columbus, an orthodox, evangelical church that for months had been the subject of protests of the Columbus-based Minutemen United. Schneider said protesters were trespassing with their demonstrations.

The protesting group had argued that it was expressing its message within the public right of way. But Schneider ruled that the right of way ends at the edge of the road along the church. That stretch of the road in a northeast Columbus suburb has no curb or sidewalk.

“Due to the absence of a sidewalk, a berm or a shoulder on Vineyard’s property, the city has a prescriptive easement only to the edge of the pavement,” Schneider wrote. “The right of way can be no larger.”

The judge further noted that protesters are not allowed to place “signs or any other object of any type” on Vineyard’s property.

Members of Minutemen United have said they are targeting Vineyard because it’s been too passive when it comes to fighting “the culture war” against abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage – including helping women recover from abortions and accepting gay members. The group’s displays include signs – one labeling the 8,500-member evangelical church “pagan” – and graphic images of aborted fetuses.

Court records identify two Minutemen United members and list others as John and Jane Does.

A Minutemen member who represented himself, Richard D. Justman, said the ruling will be appealed.

“You can’t take the public right of way away from the public,” he told The Columbus Dispatch.

Schneider had issued a temporary restraining order against Minutemen United last month while he deliberated on the case. The order prompted the protesters to move their demonstrations across the street from the church.

Diocese won’t reinstate fired gay Ohio teacher

The superintendent for a Roman Catholic Diocese has declined to reinstate a lesbian teacher who is challenging her firing by a Catholic school.

Lucia McQuaide, the diocese’s Superintendent of Education, informed Carla Hale in a June 6 letter that her decision follows her consideration “of all of the facts and circumstances.”

Hale’s attorney Thomas Tootle said Tuesday the next step is a request to the diocese for binding arbitration.

Hale has also filed a discrimination complaint with the city of Columbus.

Hale says she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her partner’s name was revealed in her mother’s published obituary.

Bishop Frederick Campbell says Hale was fired because she violated the church’s moral teaching by having what he describes as a “quasi-spousal relationship” with a woman.

Hale’s union also has declined to provide support in her fight.

Union won’t support fired lesbian teacher

A lesbian teacher challenging her dismissal from an Ohio Catholic school says the local union for Catholic educators has decided not to proceed with her complaint.

Carla Hale said on May 13 that the grievance committee for the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators isn’t supporting her efforts to get back her job as a physical-education teacher.

The association hasn’t returned telephone calls seeking comment.

Hale also filed a complaint with the city of Columbus, which prohibits firings based on sexual orientation.

Hale says she was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her partner’s name was printed in her mother’s published obituary and someone complained.

Bishop Frederick Campbell says Hale was fired not because of her sexual orientation, but because she violated the church’s moral teaching by having what he describes as a “quasi-spousal relationship” with a woman.

Teacher fired for listing her partner’s name in her mother’s obituary

A teacher in the Columbus, Ohio, area was fired for listing her partner as part of her family in her mother’s obituary.

When Bishop Watterson High School teacher Carla Hale returned to work last month after her mother’s death, administrators at the Catholic school in Clintonville confronted her about the obit, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Several weeks later, Hale was fired for being in a same-sex relationship, she said.

Students and other supporters initiated a petition on change.org to seek Hale’s reinstatement. “The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale,” the petition says.

“It’s amazing that they’ve come together and rallied around this situation,” Hale, a physical education teacher at the school for 19 years, told the Dispatch. “I’m in awe of them.”

According to a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.

Hale said she’s filed a grievance under the terms of the contract, seeking her job back. Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, said they are exploring other legal options.

Ohio gay rights group fills vacancy after director’s arrest

Ohio’s largest gay civil rights group, Equality Ohio, has tapped one of its employees to lead after the arrest and resignation of its director.

Kim Welter, who had been the director of programs and outreach, is serving as interim executive director.

She succeeds Ed Mullen, who resigned after his arrest on June 16 for an incident at Columbus Pride. Mullen has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and menacing.

The Columbus Dispatch, citing police and court reports, said Mullen, a civil rights attorney, allegedly went onto the property of a resident and threatened him. The complaint alleged Mullen also began taking pictures of the man’s house, saying, “Smile now, we’ll be back for you.”

He resigned soon after his arrest, apparently without pressure from the Equality Ohio board.

Welter, in a news release, said, “I’m looking forward to helping this organization through a time of transition, and I’m excited to continue the important and necessary work of Equality Ohio.”

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Company won’t allow ‘Down There’ safe-sex ad on Ohio billboard

A health department’s plans to post a billboard as part of a safe-sex ad campaign hit a snag when an ad company refused to accept a spot featuring a shirtless man and an arrow pointing “down there.”

The Columbus, Ohio, Public Health agency’s “Take Care Down There” campaign is targeted at young gay African-American men and gay men over 40, spokesman Jose Rodriguez said. It was launched in March with an ad in Outlook, a local magazine for gay readers, and also will use radio spots, print ads, bar coasters, pocket cards and social media sites.

Clear Channel felt the billboard was inappropriate and specifically objected to the arrow and had concerns that it would be seen by children, said spokesman Jim Cullinan.

“We suggested some slight alterations which would have made the ad acceptable, but those small changes were rejected,” the company said in a statement. “Clear Channel is a member of the Columbus community and we have a responsibility to the community to ensure ad copy on our billboards is appropriate.”

Rodriguez said the company wanted the arrow removed completely from the billboard, so health department officials decided to seek out other ad companies to post the message.

“It was very disappointing that they made an objective decision not to allow our board,” he said.

It was to be placed in a neighborhood in downtown Columbus that Rodriguez described as diverse.

The theme was created input from two focus groups from the populations being targeted, Rodriguez said.  

“Those folks kind of led the way,” he said. “They wanted it to be clear, simple, succinct and to the point.”

The $20,000 campaign is funded by federal money aimed at preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Additional phases of the campaign will garget other populations.

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Ohio City OKs partnership benefits

Ohio’s largest city will offer domestic partner benefits to its employees a dozen years after a similar plan was canceled under public pressure.

The Columbus City Council in late November approved health insurance coverage for the gay and unmarried partners of city workers.

The vote came after two people addressed the council about the benefits: a man who was in favor of them and a woman who was opposed. She said the council should, in her words, “make God smile, not make Satan smile.”

A similar meeting was packed in 1998 when council members first tried to offer domestic partner benefits. They pulled back on the plan when opponents collected enough petition signatures to put a measure on the ballot.

From WiG and AP reports