July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Protesters slam Kasich’s policies

Nick Glunt and Dan Pompili | The Gazette

MEDINA — Several groups of dissatisfied Ohioans greeted Gov. John Kasich when he arrived at Medina High School on Monday.

About 200 teachers and their supporters were at the main entrance of the school to protest what they said were more than $500 million in education cuts since Kasich took office in 2011.

Outside the adjacent Medina Performing Arts Center, several dozen protesters waved signs attacking Kasich’s support of natural gas extraction through the drilling process known as “fracking.”

Other signs protested restrictions on abortion enacted by the Republican majority in the state’s General Assembly.

John Leatherman, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, was one of the speakers rallying protesters.

“When will Gov. Kasich realize that continued cuts like this will send Ohio down a very dark path?” Leatherman asked a rowdy crowd gathered at Weymouth Road and East Union Street at 5 p.m.

Funding to Medina Schools was cut $4.4 million, he said, and $13.7 million in funding was cut countywide.

Leatherman said Kasich has instead favored charter schools.

“But charter schools don’t have to jump through the same hoops,” he said.

Leatherman said teachers and counselors have lost jobs as a result of the cuts and the future is looking bleak.

“Gov. Kasich’s policies are punishing our children,” Leatherman said. “These devastating cuts are across the board for the whole state.”

Fracking opponents demanded clean air and water, resources they say the natural gas drilling industry in Ohio is threatening.

They say Kasich is to blame.

“He’s in bed with the oil and gas industry,” said Frack-Free Ohio leader Bill Baker.

Baker cited as evidence a document recently uncovered by the Sierra Club. He said the document contains an enemies list that includes fracking opposition groups and a friends list that include Halliburton and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

It also includes plans for agencies within the administration to “marginalize” opponents by teaming up with those allies.

Baker said anti-fracking groups have alliances with other agencies to get their message out, and he said it’s starting become louder and clearer.

“The movement is growing, and we’re doing better,” he said. “We at first had the great PR campaign of the industry to contend with, but we’re working with grassroots groups and other organizations to put out the right message.”

Baker said their greatest concern is the waste that comes into Ohio for disposal into injection wells. He said information about the dangers of injection wells is starting to bring around homeowners who might before have been sold on drilling because of high-paying signing bonuses and promised royalty payments.

Baker said he wants the governor to keep other states’ fracking waste out of Ohio.

“If we can stop or slow down injection wells here in Ohio, we can help other communities slow down fracking,” he said.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt
at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com and Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

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