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By Jill Miller Zimon at 3:01 pm July 19th, 2013 in democracy | Comments Off 

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From Cleveland’s own Mike Polk. Hattip the Plain Dealer.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:44 pm July 10th, 2013 in Abortion, democracy, Gender, Health Care, Women | Comments Off 

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Boys club signing away reproductive rights and health care needs of Ohio's women

Photo by Karen Kasler of the Statehouse News Bureau for Ohio Public Radio and Television. Hattip to 100% Men tumblr.

For more about the unconscionable agenda forwarded by these elected officials sworn to represent all Ohioans, read here.

UPDATE:’s Carl Weiser names names re: which boys got into the seemingly boys-only event.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 8:49 am July 1st, 2013 in Abortion, democracy, Gender, Ohio, Politics, Women | Comments Off 

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It’s really unbelievable, given the size of the city and its inherent diversity, not to mention that more than half its population is woman. What gives? Read the full article here.

On the lack of media coverage of these results:

Surprisingly, women losing ground in the nation’s second largest city garnered little media or public attention during the election cycle.

“If there was a lack of Latino or African American representation on the city council, think about the uproar you would have heard,” said Rachel Michelin executive director of California Women Lead, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to getting more women elected to office.

“It would have been national news,” she said.

On why it matters:

“Women bring a different perspective,” said Michelin. “That different perspective adds to the diversity of thought that members of the city council or statewide office need to have when they’re making public policy decisions. I think that you’re going to see a decline in certain issues and viewpoints being made because you don’t have more women on the city council.”

Women need to have a strong voice and play a central role in the development of public policy, particularly at the local level. We live in neighborhoods and cities, the decisions made by local government have the greatest impact on our daily lives.

With just one woman sitting the city council, Michelin asked, “How much can she accomplish if she doesn’t have the critical mass of other women colleagues on a board as political as the Los Angeles City Council?”

And on why it’s happening: According to the article, at least in California, there are fewer politically educated women (I’m not exactly sure what they mean by that, to be honest), “behind the scenes” activities (i.e., consulting, polling, strategy) is dominated by men, fundraising when women don’t have the political networks men do, and moving from Sacramento to a city council isn’t happening as much. In addition, women need to make political contributions to women and mentor them up the ladder.

Anyone in California, what do you think?

By Jill Miller Zimon at 5:28 pm June 15th, 2013 in democracy, Elections, Gender, Women | Comments Off 

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I’d say I’m at a loss for words for how to express my extreme discontent over Ohio House Bill 200 but I’m going to save it for a steady and increasingly louder drumbeat of arguments against it starting tonight. Make no mistake, to defeat this absolute and absolutely invasive set of provisions that completely contradict the charades of conservatives who say they want to keep government out of our lives, we will need to be as adamant, sharp, specific, relentless and vocal as ever, if not more so.

Your education on HB 200 can start with these links but I have no doubt this is just the beginning of the battle:

The bill itself – it has no fiscal notes or bill analysis yet

The Plain Dealer story on it including the laundry list of restrictions:

Among other things, the bill would:

• Require doctors to give women a verbal description of the ultrasound, including an audible heartbeat, if available. (The bill notes, however, that a woman can refuse to view ultrasound images or listen to the sounds detected by a fetal heart monitor.)

Compel abortion providers to tell patients that fetuses and embryos can feel pain, and that a woman who has an abortion increases her risk of breast cancer.

Extend the waiting period for abortions to 48 hours instead of 24.

Require doctors to tell patients seeking abortions in writing how much money they earn and how much income they would lose by not performing abortions.

Eliminate “medical necessity” as a reason to waive the waiting period. Medical necessity had been defined as a medical condition that complicates the pregnancy so that it warrants an immediate abortion.

Allow a waiver for a “medical emergency,” which is redefined in the bill as a condition that would result in the woman’s death without an abortion, as opposed to one that presents a serious risk to her life or physical health.

Doctors who do not follow the rules could be charged with a first-degree felony and fined up to $1 million.

Look at all those job-creation proposals, eh? Exactly what Ohio needs – you smart drafters, you.

Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:02 pm June 13th, 2013 in activism, conservatives, Courage, democracy, Gender, Health Care, Ohio, OhioHD12, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Republicans, Sexism, Women | 1 Comment 

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and several other women in the United States Senate don’t give up and won’t be giving up, and no one should ever expect that they will, or should, when it comes to making sure that pursuit of sexual assault complaints in the military get handled with the utmost respect and efficacy as any other allegation, perhaps with more given the nature of the behavior involved. And so her statement, and the way in which she and other members of the Senate continue to press for what they believe is needed, while still acknowledging the challenges without delegitimizing the underlying concerns of those challenges, shows us how leadership in the political universe is and should be done.

Her statement:

Today we’ve taken several important steps forward to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases. But I’m disappointed that with respect to the provisions within the Military Justice Improvement Act that would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command, the voices of sexual assault victims have been drowned out by military leaders who’ve failed to combat the pervasive sexual assault crisis. I will continue fighting to strengthen the NDAA by offering the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment once we take it up on the Senate floor. I promise, our advocacy on this issue has only just begun.

And video:

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:43 pm June 12th, 2013 in activism, democracy, Gender, Military, Sexism, Women | Comments Off 

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I’m going to camp this weekend, and I’m as fair-skinned as they come, but sunblock is the last thing I’ll need.

That’s because I’m going to the Sunlight Foundation’s Transparency Camp in Washington, D.C. Tcamp, as many call it (you can follow it on Twitter via the hashtag, #tcamp13 and its handle, @tcampDC). And while the goal of shining light where it’s darkest or most obscured is a main function of the foundation, the last thing campers want is for people – and government – to start slathering on the block.

A couple of summers ago, Sunlight helped bring the Transparency Action Plan Summit to Cleveland and many of the folks involved in that effort continue to be good government stewards. They got a special shout-out at the 2012 TCamp.

This year, I’ve been asked to participate in a variety of ways (okay, okay, they’ve been trying to get me there for a few years now in part because there simply aren’t that many elected officials whose day jobs are also in the world of civic engagement, good government and transparency – but we’re trying to change that!). In particular, Sunlight has doubled-down on looking into what’s happening on the local government scene – what’s being done, what’s not being done, what’s needed and how does it happen or get made to happen. I’m just a wee bit excited.

So what am I packing? Well, for sure I’ll be packing links that highlight how the Civic Commons has become a tool through which citizens as well as government entities can dialogue and deliberate on tough subjects and can not only increase awareness about those subjects, but also can out the variety of views people hold. For example, in today’s Plain Dealer, the very front page, very top of the fold article’s headline has the word, “transparency” in it. But beyond that? The article is in regard to proposals by County Prosecutor Tim McGinty who participated vigorously in the Commons’ three-day online debate with the other four primary candidates for that office last year – an online discourse that was used to help the Citizens League of Greater Cleveland make an endorsement in that race.

And then there’s the example of the skywalk – a topic that’s gained big attention at the Commons and is also featured today in the PD as we learn that Dan Gilbert is willing to pay nearly $80 million dollars to buy a building so he can put a skywalk in it. I’m assuming he knows he can’t count on Joe Baur and company to cheer him on. But the question isn’t only what will they do next to make their feelings known – what can they do next if they want to stop the skywalk? What would you do? My mind goes to the ill-will this is creating in the community. What price will Gilbert pay because of that – what price will we all pay because of that?

With social media being what it is, you can follow me and the other campers (check out the attendee list here) on Twitter and Facebook, but also look for my What I Did Last Summer post next week when I report back on smores and more.

Cross-posted from the Civic Commons.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 11:32 am May 3rd, 2013 in activism, democracy, Engagement, social media | 1 Comment 

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I used to think that when someone called me, or in fact to be called an idealist, was some kind of a slight. But somehow, just now, 30 plus years into adulthood, I realize that in fact making the ideal real is all an idealist is about. And it’s a pretty powerful thing – to me, it means I never give up (okay, well, I rarely give up) – especially on really big picture things. Here’s a bit of what I’m talking about:

School district superintendents at your neighborhood coffee? Entire city councils, state elected officials and big city mayors tweeting themselves? What’s coming over people? Could it be that a critical mass of content finally has piled up (in no small part here on the Civic Commons: Dan’s blog post, his and Luke Frazier’s radio show on the subject of school board meetings, and this conversation started by a local resident) and folks are taking the hint that this is exactly what they should be doing, especially if they’re elected people in charge of taxpayer dollars?

The Internet and many other varieties of technological innovations multiply the ways in which we can engage with each other. My Civic Commons work often makes me think about how our platform makes saying “no” to engagement an impossibility, because it is so safe and easy here.

And yet the safe and easy isn’t even what the folks reaching out in any of those examples to which I’ve hyperlinked have in mind. If it was, you wouldn’t read about a superintendent who goes knocking on doors to get input and have conversations.

Read the rest here.

Has anyone ever called you an idealist, or have you ever called someone an idealist, especially in a pejorative way? Maybe you need to think again.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 8:36 pm March 15th, 2013 in activism, Courage, democracy, leadership | Comments Off 

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From my latest:

When we’re talking public bodies, who gets to say, “enough’s enough” and then ban public dialogue at a public meeting?

This being the United States, intuition might tell you that no one does. If it’s a public body and a public meeting, then the public gets to talk. But, for starters, you’d be wrong here in Ohio where the law provides for a right to attend public meetings, but it does not provide for the public to have a right to participate or comment.

Punctuating the (perceived mis)use of a similar power, but in this case in New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy have sued the town of Sanford’s board for its September 2012 resolution that bans public comment on fracking:

The resolution said: “It is the determination of this Board that hereafter no further comment will be received during the public participation portion of this or any future meeting regarding natural gas development,” until the state’s environmental review was done.

Not so unreasonable?

Read the rest and start a conversation about it. Should electeds get to ban the public from what they can discuss?


By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:57 pm February 17th, 2013 in Debates, democracy, Ohio, Politics | Comments Off 

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At my day job:

As if we needed any more evidence as to why the Civic Commons wants its users to agree to be “civil” before engaging online, a Columbus Dispatch editorial declared last week, in regard to a social media incident involving the state Board of Education president, “This H-bomb is a dud: Invoking Hitler is unlikely to be a winning political strategy” and a highly regarded expert on online politicking likewise wrote of the same incident, “…dropping the H-bomb pretty much destroys the intellectual credibility of the dropper…”. That H-bomb, and many other words and utterances of name-calling, are the nuclear bomb equivalents of destroying any chance for meaningful, useful dialogue.  And that is the opposite of what the Civic Commons seeks to promote.

Of course, linguistic laziness in unpacking and examining controversial topics isn’t committed solely by people in the poltiical arena. Last year, a food industry CEO apologized for comparing President Obama’s health care reform efforts to fascism because, as he admitted, the word “fascism” has “…so much baggage attached to it.” He went on to say that he thinks we need a new word to describe what he sees as the country, “…no longer hav[ing] free-enterprise capitalism in health care…[because t]he government is directing it.

Read the full post here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 7:06 pm January 31st, 2013 in Courage, Culture, Debates, democracy, Politics | Comments Off 

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From my day job:

Many political candidates don’t just have a fear of commitment. They have a fear of engagement. But with 2013 being a local government election year, voters should pull no punches in putting the question about committing to public engagement to the people who want their votes. Contrary to the immortal words of the ultimate Meatloaf song, we can’t just sleep on it. We want to know: what’s it gonna be, yes or no?

So often, we clamor to know how a candidate will vote on an issue he or she hasn’t yet faced. We provide hypothetical circumstances that we want them to imagine are real. Sure, plenty of politicians pick and choose issues about which they will shake their fist and blurt out a reliable yes or no (consider how few elected folks waffled on the Affordable Care Act; most knew what they wanted, the issue was whether they’d vote for what came before them). But mostly, we’ve come to accept as routine a refusal to comply with such a demand. It’s truly rare to see courage rear it’s head and and expose itself through the voice of a political wannabe as he or she, instead, silently calculates the local vote count that can be earned by resisting commitment.

Now, with the fear of engagement, there is hope. At least, I have hope.

Read about why I have hope here and add you thoughts in the accompanying conversation.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:20 am January 11th, 2013 in democracy, Elections, Engagement, Politics | Comments Off 

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From my latest at the Civic Commons:

I am so radical about voting that I don’t even have a problem with mandatory (also called compulsory) voting. This isn’t new for me and I’m familiar with the arguments about why, in a so-called free society, we wouldn’t mandate voting. But we incentivize so many other activities with rewards and punishments. Why not voting and why not to the extent that we could actually get national voter turnout rates closer to at least 75% (look at this history of voter turnout rates in presidential elections – even 2008 was not even 58%!).

Please not only read it, but GO VOTE. Starting this Tuesday, October 2, you can VOTE. So do it.

And if you haven’t kept up with my work at the Commons, you can catch up here.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 6:44 pm September 30th, 2012 in democracy, Ohio, Voting | 1 Comment 

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Last night, long-time City Councilwoman Paulette “Cookie” Morganstern submitted a letter of resignation.  The Chagrin Solon Sun just published the news here.

Morganstern has served on council for more than 26 years. She cited as the reason for her resignation her intention to spend more time in Arizona, where she and her husband, Stanley, own a home. Stanley Morganstern resigned from the Orange Board of Education in January, stating his Ohio-based law practice was winding down.

I value and valued Paulette as someone with immense, invaluable institutional knowledge about Pepper Pike.  Her departure will leave a vacuum of practical, direct experience from years with the city government during which no one else left on Council served (Rick Taft being the next most senior council member with about 13-14 years of experience).  I wish her the absolute best of good times ahead wherever her choices take her.

For those residents who are interested, or if you would like to please pass this information along:

Paulette Morganstern’s current term expires at the end of 2013. Council is authorized by the city charter to appoint a replacement within 45 days to complete her term.

Residents who wish to be considered for the position are asked to submit a letter explaining their interest and qualifications by May 10 to Mayor Richard Bain at City Hall, 28000 Shaker Blvd., Pepper Pike, OH 44124.

Thank you again to Paulette for all these years of public service and if you have any questions, comments or concerns, as always, don’t hesitate to be in touch.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 3:39 pm April 26th, 2012 in democracy, Pepper Pike | Comments Off 

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The most recent avalanche of earned media for the concept of civility derives from multiple rants enunciated by Rush Limbaugh - who would have thunk, eh? This particular set of rants targeted a 30 year old female law student who wanted to testify on Capitol Hill about why contraception should be covered by health care insurance. Suffice it to say that Limbaugh’s behavior in this instance has been deemed so uncivil by so broad a swath of Americans that nearly 50 advertisers (and I’ve seen some counts as high as 80 or more) including AOL, LegalZoom, ProFlowers and Cleveland’s own Quicken Loans no longer support the show. And of course, coverage of people with the money, standing up to say that they don’t want their money supporting someone who expresses thoughts the way Limbaugh does, is another boost to the idea that we do value civility.

But wait! There’s more. Read it at my Civic Commons blog post.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 6:05 pm March 11th, 2012 in democracy, Media | Comments Off 

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Go Hoyas – he did so much better than me in undergrad ConLaw anyway; just received in the inbox. The one thing I keep noticing is how little knowledge of or respect for transparency and openness seems to be reflected in what the public records seem to show. How to protect what people didn’t want other people to know seems to have been the overriding interest in the process. Read Aaron Marshall’s piece from today’s front page above the fold Plain Dealer story for background.

State Representative
Dennis Murray

Contact: Sarah Bender, House Democratic Communications (614) 466-9036

Rep. Murray Request Joint Investigation into Waste, Abuse and Fraud
Calls for Investigation into Secretive Map Drawing Processes

COLUMBUS – State Representative and Ranking Member of the Judiciary and Ethics Committee Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) sent a letter to Inspector General Randall Meyer and Legislative Inspector General Tony Bledsoe requesting a joint investigation into potential waste, abuse, fraud, and violations of state sunshine and public records laws. This comes after the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting released a transparency report yesterday highlighting some of the misconduct in the redistricting and re-apportionment processes.

“The information in yesterday’s report revealed is absolutely appalling.  I ask for a joint investigation today because I fear we are just beginning to lift the veil of secrecy that surrounds the congressional redistricting and re-apportionment processes,” Rep. Murray said.  “My Democratic colleagues and I are deeply troubled at the wasteful spending of Ohioan’s tax dollars, and the violation of Ohio’s sunshine and public records laws.”

A copy of the letter can be seen below. Read more

By Jill Miller Zimon at 4:39 pm December 13th, 2011 in Congress, conservatives, democracy, Ethics, Government, Ohio, Statehouse, Transparency | 1 Comment 

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Nice photo and article about the opening keynote in which I got to participate at last week’s CampaignTech conference (which was really excellent).  There are other articles and photos floating around out there but I’ve not had time to track them down.

Many thanks to Julie Germany, Shane Greer & Shane D’Aprile of Campaigns & Elections, Pete Snyder of New Media Strategies (NMS) and all the folks who put on this event.  It was an incredible honor to be involved in not one, not two but three speaking opportunities there (here’s an article about the Innovators Award speeches and presentation) and I’m sure the message that local electeds and constituencies need to “get it” and now and how got across.

And – in the spirit of political leadership in the digital age, while I was at the event, there was a Road & Safety/Finance & Planning meeting in Pepper Pike which I observed, from my hotel in DC, via Skype. Another first for our city & for our city government.  I wasn’t counted for the quorum, there were no votes taken and even if there would have been, I would not have participated.  But it was great for me to follow along during a very long and content-rich meeting so that at this coming week’s City Council meeting, I can participate fully and well-informed.  Many thanks to my colleague Scott Newell who provided the laptop through which I could view the meeting.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 2:03 pm November 13th, 2011 in democracy, Government, leadership, Pepper Pike, Pepper Pike 2.0, Politics, Transparency | Comments Off 

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And that is not leadership.

Whether we’re talking Herman Cain’s economic plan (9-9-9 or 9-0-9) or how he and his campaign are failing to deal with Politico’s reporting on the settlement specifics between the National Restaurant Association (when Cain was its head) and two of its former employees regarding alleged sexual harassment in the workplace, Cain seems to believe that he can reduce, minimize and make disappear whatever complexities he thinks ail others from being able to come up with solutions.

The problem is, whether it’s people who view certain behavior of his as being inappropriate and constituting sexual harassment (even if he doesn’t see it that way) or people saying that his 9-9-9 plan won’t help the poor but would in fact exacerbate their economic standing, he seeks to make the complicating factors – women and the poor – disappear from the equation altogether.

Lucky for women and sadly for the poor, there are tens of millions in both groups.  We won’t disappear and we don’t call people who would like to see that happen, “leader.”

Seriously, Herman. You can claim the leader mantle in a number of ways. Including, leader of the reductionists.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 1:50 pm November 1st, 2011 in Campaigning, democracy, Elections, Government, leadership, Politics, Transparency, WH2012, White House 2012 | 2 Comments 

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Now, I haven’t double checked to be sure that it is in fact ALL the competitive mayoral races in the county (as opposed to ones in other counties that might get the PD and ones where there is no challenger), but it looks that way.

And I must say, thank you.

I can’t dredge up the post or email that I know I wrote last year, during the County Council campaigns, in which I expressed extreme distress over how the PD was rolling out it’s endorsements one at a time, and not in what seemed to be in any order, and sometimes before the mail-in start day, and sometimes well past that, but I know that I did communicate to someone there just how unhappy it made me and how easy it seemed to be to remedy.

And remedy it they did: today, in the FORUM section of the Sunday PD, the entire left-hand side page was full of the endorsements, text, photos, conclusion. Again, you can read them all online here.

Now, whether those endorsements have other issues you may find, I’m not addressing that in this post. But I think it is SUPREMELY superior to have these endorsements all come out at the same time so as not to benefit or be to the detriment of any one candidate or community.

Thank you – I noticed. And I bet a few others did too.  Hmm, maybe I will even go leave this comment on the comment page.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 7:18 pm October 2nd, 2011 in Campaigning, Cleveland+, democracy, Elections, Media, Ohio | 1 Comment 

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NOT BALLOTS, people. Not the ballot itself.  This link takes you only to instructions for how you can APPLY to get a ballot. The Plain Dealer, according to this editorial, Mail-in ballot application opportunities abound, will also be printing, in its newspaper, a ballot application (not an actual ballot) for people to send in as well.

I’ve placed a link to the application in the right-hand sidebar of this blog and it will stay there through the end of the month.  Starting on Tuesday, October 4, the Board of Elections will start sending absentee ballots themselves to those voters who have applied and are eligible to vote.

Please do vote – whether by mail or in-person (Tuesday, November 8).

By Jill Miller Zimon at 9:15 am October 1st, 2011 in CuyahogaCounty, democracy, Elections, Ohio, Voting | Comments Off 

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Just submitted to the Plain Dealer:

Thank you for providing the online interactive map of the proposed Congressional districts which was passed by the Ohio House this week. It is shameful that the chair of the House committee that was responsible for creating the map did not make it or something similar available at the same time they released what they did. I have “read” HB 319 and it is incomprehensible unless you know your home’s census tract number or how to find those and then suffer through finding that information within HB 319.  No voter should be required to have to do that in order to figure out who may represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The so-called leaders who have chosen to pursue redistricting in this way clearly define public service in an extremely narrow and exclusionary manner.  Their actions undermine all that so many other elected officials do to instill trust in government. As a fellow elected official (Pepper Pike City Council), I am angry and disappointed.

I should also mention that I called Ohio House Rep. Matt Huffman’s office on Wednesday and asked for a map that would show voters where there city is vis a vis the old and proposed congressional district maps. I have yet to get any kind of reply.

I am a garden variety Democratic, but if there is one way to make sure that a voter who sees himself or herself as an independent never supports you, refusing to let them know who is going to represent them and refusing to give them a say in how you think they should be divvied out, it’s how Huffman and others have abused the system in this task of redistricting. I’ll stop there since have some work to do that actually relates to serving all of the public – not just the ones who vote for me.

By Jill Miller Zimon at 10:46 am September 16th, 2011 in democracy, Elections, Government, Ohio, Politics, Statehouse, Transparency | 3 Comments 

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