BELLBROOK — After working at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Matt attended Vermont Law School to pursue an interest in environmental and public interest law. During law school, he led the student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and has participated in anti-globalization and GE free food campaigns. After law school, and two clerkships in Alaska, he moved to Ohio and now leads the housing and economic development practice group at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Dayton. Matt also practices in the area of environmental justice, utilizing law to reach social justice goals.
“I tend to find my environmental ethics lining up with that of Social Ecology, which sees the causes of nearly all of our present ecological problems as originating in deep-seated social problems”, he says.
Matt was drawn to Ohio Citizen Action by its good neighbor campaign work, specifically the attributes of decentralism, community control, and direct, face-to-face democracy. “I am honored to be a part of an organization with a rich history in supporting communities’ efforts to protect themselves from pollution and other harmful contamination.”
He is also passionate about global justice issues, local and organic farming, civil liberties, wilderness, and alternative energy issues.
CLEVELAND — Christa Ebert became intrigued by the environment’s effect on human health after hearing her grandfather’s long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease may have been caused from the chemical dyes he handled in his work. In the third grade, she started a “Save the Earth” club at Copopa Elementary School in Columbia Station. The club grew to 110 members and encouraged the school administration to recycle.
Ebert began eight years of work at Ohio Citizen Action in Cleveland in 2003, first as a phone canvasser, and then as office manager. She then worked as a program assistant at Hard Hatted Women, and is now Sustainability Program Coordinator at Neighborhood Progress, Inc., a local community development funding intermediary in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Ebert also studied Urban Management at Cleveland State University where she graduated as valedictorian. She continues her education as a Masters student in Cleveland State’s Public Administration program.
In 2011, Christa Ebert was elected to the board of Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund, Ohio Citizen Action’s research and education affiliate, and is now Secretary/Treasurer. She says that serving on the board “allows me to be part of a truly admirable and honest organization.”
Stephen Gabor, right, with Caroline Beidler of Marietta Neighbors for Clean Air.
CLEVELAND – The Ohio Citizen Action Board has just elected Stephen Gabor to be a Board member for a three-year term beginning with the February 16, 2013 board meeting.
Gabor joined the staff of Ohio Citizen Action as a phone canvasser in November 1999. He soon became a Crew Manager and within a year became the organization’s Phone Canvass Director, a post he held for ten years. During that time, he also served as Regional Assistant for the Hudson Bay Company network of field and phone canvasses nationwide, helping to develop better fundraising techniques, better overall management practices and more systematic methods for canvasser retention, including developing and expanding the network’s cross-trainer program. From 2010 to 2012, he was the Cleveland Area Campaign Director for the organization. Gabor is now the General Manager for the Mutt Hutt in Cleveland, an award-winning dog daycare, boarding, grooming, and training facility.
Executive Director Sandy Buchanan said, “We’re so glad to have Stephen return to Ohio Citizen Action as a board member, with his strong commitment to the development of the organization, terrific track record with membership outreach, and strategic thinking about how to tackle environmental issues in Ohio.”
— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Expertise: Medical/mental heath/ psychosocial administration
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”
Barbara Wood first became involved with Ohio Citizen Action when she was active in a good neighbor campaign with Georgia Pacific to close their waste pit and reduce pollution in the Southfield/Marion Franklin neighborhood of Columbus. She found the organizational mission to work with communities at the grassroots on local pollution problems compelling enough to join the board. “I have lived on the Southside – Marion Franklin Area, since 1968 when I emigrated from Great Britain. At that time, the area was called Southfield Gardens and businesses providing services included the Busy Bee Market, Boyd’s Barber Shop, The Drug Store, Sill’s Ball Park (the Little League baseball field), two Laundromats, two or three gasoline stations. Many changes have taken place over the past 40 years. Most significantly has been the unhealthy environment created by the pollution from the ever increasing industrial sites. The residential areas are hemmed in by ‘M’ zoning districts, industrial sites and railroads. In spite of the challenges, I continue to remain optimistic and energized as many positive activities are underway.”
Barbara’s long career in healthcare led to her service on several boards and membership in groups as diverse as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Humane Society. She is also active in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the inner city and preventing elder mistreatment and abuse.
Read more Board of Directors profiles
Ohio Citizen Action lost a dear friend and long-time board member yesterday with the death of Mike Jones, 62, of Pataskala. Mike died, surrounded by his family, in hospice care after suffering from lung cancer.
We first met Mike in the 1990’s when he worked with our board member Carrie Garnes and his mother, Roberta Jones-Booth, on the campaign to protect their South Side Columbus community from pollution and accidents at Georgia Pacific. Although Mike and his family eventually moved to Pataskala, Mike never really left the South Side, continuing to work with his friends and neighbors on important community and public health issues.
Mike served on our board for 9 years, beginning in 1999, was term-limited off, and then came back to the board as soon as the by-laws allowed two years ago. He made these comments about his involvement on the board:
“It’s truly an exciting experience – it’s a joy being in the same boat with like-minded people. It reminds me of what Cleve Sellers wrote in his book, The River of No Return. He was a regular farmboy when he began organizing with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and he wrote about how once you realize what’s at stake, there’s no way to make that understanding go away. You can’t ignore it. You have to deal with it. You have to clean it up. We’re all paddling down the river of no return together.”
Mike was a joy to work with, forever thinking of new strategies and, as he would say, coming up with ideas for “propaganda.” Mike was a treasured colleague, a gracious host, and most of all, a fighter for justice.
Mike worked as a systems analyst at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. He is survived by his wife, Tressia Priestly- Jones, their five children and six grandchildren. The Celebration of Life Service for Mike will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 15, 2012, at the New Antioch Bible Fellowship Church, 1415 Lancaster Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH. Mike’s family will receive friends beginning at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Roberta Jones-Booth Scholarship Fund in care of The Columbus Foundation, 1234 E Broad St. Columbus, OH 43205.
– Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Zella Cook, hostess and Ohio Citizen Action board member Laura Rench and Ellen Dorle. Kathy Jones in background.
NEW LEBANON — Hosts David and Laura Rench welcomed 44 guests Saturday to the first-ever barn dance benefitting Ohio Citizen Action. The event raised over $3,500 for the organization’s anti-fracking campaign and brought together people from throughout southwest Ohio. New Lebanon was well represented, but people came from as far away as Cincinnati and Piqua. The Rabbit Hash String Band led six dances, concluding with the Virginia Reel and then treated guests to a short concert of some of their old-time favorites. Thanks to everyone who came, our event sponsors and especially Laura and David. Congratulations also to Jim Runkle, winner of the hollerin’ contest.
— Melissa English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
“I’m very interested in having a role with an organization that is working to organize people in an over-communicated world, where we often have such a distracted and distracting environment. I have a life-long commitment to civil rights and environmental justice, going back to the first Earth Day in 1970 when I was a high school student in Chicago.”
David Ashenhurst is a management and communications consultant to nonprofit organizations, public agencies, governing boards, and political and issue advocacy campaigns. He lives in Oberlin, and joined the board of Ohio Citizen Action in 2011.
David grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and was politically active from a very early age. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he worked as a program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, helping develop their first environmentally-purposed grants in the late 1970’s. He served as a program officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago in the 1980’s, and helped staff the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation in 1992-93, not long after its genesis in Administrator William K. Reilly’s EPA and establishment under the National Environmental Education Act of 1990. He moved to Ohio in 1995 to become executive director of the Nord Family Foundation in Elyria.
David was elected to Oberlin City Council in 2005 and 2007, and worked with Ohio Citizen Action and other groups on the successful campaign to prevent American Municipal Power from building a new 1000 megawatt coal plant in Southeast Ohio. Oberlin City Council’s vote in February 2008 to withdraw from the coal plant was a key turning point in the statewide campaign. The decision saved the City of Oberlin thousands of dollars in “stranded costs” that were charged to participating cities after the plant was canceled in November 2009.
He also serves on the board of the ACLU of Ohio and the Lorain County Board of Mental Health. He serves as Senior Project Director for Strategic Research Inc., a political consulting enterprise, and is founder and president of Oberlin By Design, Inc. , a small nonprofit.
Odor complaints could result in penalties for Clean Water Ltd.
Laura Rench of the Neighborhood Environmental Committee said after years of violations, it's time for RAPCA to take action against the plant.
DAYTON — “A new round of environmental problems have cropped up at the troubled Jefferson Twp. plant formerly known as Perma-Fix of Dayton, leading the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency to slap current owner Clean Water Ltd. with a notice of violation that could result in penalties against the company.
…The plant at 300 Cherokee Drive, off West Third Street in the Drexel area, recycles oil and industrial wastewater. It is in a residential area, and neighbors have complained for years about strong odors and fumes they said caused nausea, headaches, dizziness and breathing problems. The December 2007 consent decree was reached to settle a federal lawsuit against Perma-Fix filed by neighbors and joined by the U.S. EPA. Clean Water Ltd. bought the plant shortly after the consent decree was approved.
That wasn’t the only controversy involving the plant. A grassroots neighborhood group mounted a campaign that in 2003 resulted in the U.S. Army canceling a contract with Perma-Fix for treatment of up to 900,000 gallons of neutralized VX nerve agent to be discharged into the Mongomery County sewer system.”
— Tom Beyerlein
, Dayton Daily News
Read the whole story: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/air-pollution-agency-cites-jefferson-twp-company-for-violations-1358034.html
Dr. Anne Wise with Staughton and Alice Lynd.
CLEVELAND — Ohio Citizen Action presented the Howard M. Metzenbaum award to Alice and Staughton Lynd on February 18 at the College Club of Cleveland.
Call for nominations for the next Ohio Citizen Action Howard M. Metzenbaum Award – deadline: March 31, 2012
Notes for attorneys working with groups fighting for Environmental Justice
“Where there is an active community group and no obvious slam dunk case:
It is generally wise to save the big law suit for last, for a lot of reasons.
They can be disempowering – everyone stands around and watches the suit (unless the other stuff is hot). And, they frequently take a long time.
They cost tons of money, so lots of time is spent raising money (instead of raising hell).
If clients raise too much hell, you or someone, will worry about upsetting or alienating the Judge, or providing ammunition to the opposing party.
If you lose, the group will be discouraged – the courts, who have the final say, will have put their stamp of approval on the bad behavior you are challenging.
Why should you let someone, who probably shares very few of your client’s life experiences, decide who wins?
They tend to make you (the attorney) the key decision maker – not the group.
If the community organizes first, and does end up filing a case, they will have already developed community sympathy and support.
If you buy this approach then make sure your clients understand that you will not win this for them they will win it for themselves. They will not do less work because you are on board – probably more. You will help them understand how things fit together, who can give them what they want, where the pressure points are likely to be. Assess their willingness to continue on.”
— Ellis Jacobs, Attorney at Law
Read the whole story
Ellis Jacobs, outgoing president of the Ohio Citizen Action board, and Tom Trimble, outgoing president of the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund board, are seen here cutting a cake at our board meeting in Columbus on Saturday. Board members and staff presented them with original artwork by Angela Oster and expressed their appreciation for their extraordinary service.
Jacobs, an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Dayton, and Trimble, a Columbus trial lawyer, have both served on the boards for nine years, and reached their term limits. Dr. Anne Wise, a physician with Neighborhood Family Practice in Cleveland, will take over as president of the Ohio Citizen Action board in January 2012, and Bruce French, a law professor at Ohio Northern University, will be president of the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund board.
— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
DAYTON — Willa Bronston retired from the Berry Company after 30 years in 2003 and now owns an Auntie Ann’s Pretzels franchise. Willa first heard of Ohio Citizen Action after the organization helped start a community group she joined called Citizens for the Responsible Destruction of Chemical Weapons. The group formed in 2003 to halt the Army’s plans to treat VX nerve agent in the Dayton area community of Drexel.
“We first learned that Perma Fix planned to destroy VX nerve agent in our community after they had won the contract from the Army,” Willa remembers. “The citizens most affected by this plan were not consulted, so we had to gear up and organize ourselves pretty quickly,” she added. One tactic the neighbors used was to organize their township trustees and other local jurisdictions to pass resolutions opposing the Perma Fix plan. It was partly due to her experience in the Perma Fix fight that Willa joined the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund board in 2007 and stood for and won election to the Jefferson Township Board of Trustees in 2009.
She has also worked on the issue of payday lending reform and is active in her parish of St. Benedict’s.
“I had been impressed with the dedication, passion and track record of success of the Ohio Citizen Action board and staff. I wanted to be a part of a winning team,” she said. “It’s about the issues the organization works on and the results, but it’s also about the people.”
— Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Leo Pierson (right) after helping to secure Cincinnati resident Bernard Pastor’s release from federal detention. Pastor (left), a teenager who came to the U.S. at three years of age, was jailed and threatened with deportation for failing to produce a driver’s license after a fender bender.
CINCINNATI – Ohio Citizen Action is pleased to welcome Leo Pierson to our board of directors. Leo is an expert on immigration policy and an immigrant and Latino civil rights advocate. “I was moved to join the board because as a part of a new generational wave of Latino American citizens, I have grown up in a political environment that not only requests, but demands personal engagement with the crucial debates in our communities and country, “ Leo says. “The environmental debate is not a silo issue, it directly engages questions regarding the long-term health, well-being, and sustainability of our population. It touches on concerns regarding food production and consumption, water access issues, air-quality, long term health care, appropriate housing and education excellence.
“I bring a new perspective to the board, one that includes not only the traditional definitions of diversity, but one that seeks to represent Ohio’s fastest growing constituency base. 75% of Ohio’s population growth over the past 10 years has been driven by an increase in the Latino population; 50% higher than national trends. Such rapid demographic shifts can make it difficult for developed institutions to “keep up”. On the other hand, new populations—due to cultural and linguistic distinctions—often have trouble understanding how to best navigate existing structures in their new home communities or even to simply include themselves in already on-going conversations—political or otherwise. As a child of an immigrant, a native born citizen and a person who has built my life’s work around both understanding and translating the complexities of specifically Latino immigration to the United States, I often act as a bridge between cultures and between existing institutions and new Americans, which are often foreign to each other. In that sense, I do not seek to be a voice for the Latino community, but rather to bridge the gap between two communities of which I am very much a part: Ohio’s environmental progressives and Ohio’s new Latino Americans..
Leo is a member of the Cincinnati board of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), sits on the LULAC state board as Dir. of Civil Rights and is an advisor to the national board as a member of the LULAC National Committee on Civil Rights. Leo is an adjunct professor of sociology at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, has given guest lectures on immigration policy at Xavier, University of Cincinnati and Chase School of Law, and has made frequent media appearances in Cincinnati, as well as the BBC, NPR and Conservative Talk Radio. Leo is the first Latino board member/ Vice-Chair of the Cincinnati Citizens’ Complaint Authority.
— Melissa English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Ellis Jacobs, President, Ohio Citizen Action Board of Directors
YELLOW SPRINGS — Ellis Jacobs is one well-rounded activist. He has been an attorney committed to public interest work for the past 20 years. Since 1987 he has worked at the Legal Aid Society of Dayton. Before he became an attorney, Ellis was one of the organizers of the Miami Valley Power Project which in the 1970′s fought utility rate increases and nuclear power. He also helped organize unions at several Dayton workplaces and for a time worked for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.
A native Daytonian, Ellis has always shared his legal expertise with community groups in a variety of environmental, housing, health and utility cases:
He served as legal counsel for the Edgemont Neighborhood Coalition and the Dayton Clean Air Coalition in 1990 and worked on Citizen Action’s good neighbor campaign to stop Dayton-Walther foundry’s pollution. Neighbors of the Dayton-Walther Foundry worked long and hard to document the foundry’s violations of clean air laws. Ellis provided legal assistance. The organizing and his legal work resulted in the foundry receiving what was at that time the highest air pollution fine in Ohio history.
In 1995 Ellis helped establish the Dayton Clean Air Coalition to shut down two hazardous waste incinerators in Montgomery County. The campaign stopped the $113 million retrofit of the dioxin producing facilities. Ellis provided legal counsel to the group. He helped design a successful strategy that resulted in the incinerators being converted to transfer stations and recycling centers. Continue reading Board member profile: Ellis Jacobs
Dayton utility being purchased for $4.7 billion
DAYTON — “The Miami Valley’s residential and business electricity consumers won’t feel any immediate impact from Wednesday’s announcement that Dayton Power and Light Co.’s corporate parent is to be sold to a global energy company with operations on five continents…
The deal requires approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal antitrust regulators and the PUCO.
‘A deal like this needs very careful regulatory scrutiny, both on the state and federal levels, to make sure the utility’s customers aren’t put at a disadvantage,’ said longtime local consumer advocate Ellis Jacobs. He said the additional debt required for the acquisition could adversely impact rates and reliability. Those concerns are shared by Ohio’s consumer counsel, who serves as an advocate for ratepayers before the PUCO.”
— John Nolan and Tom Beyerlein, Dayton Daily News
Read the whole story
— Jim Fink, Investigating Daily