Feds dump on Amherst (Video)

Amherst (Ohio) School Board Meeting, Monday, June 20, 2016.  About 150 Amherst citizens came out to share their concerns about who should be using which bathrooms and locker rooms in the schools.  The impetus for these concerns originate from the federal government’s reinterpretation of Title IX.

Rex Engle, board president, makes an opening statement at the beginning of video Part 1 and a closing statement (minute 26:30) in Part 4.

To get a quick background on the bathroom / locker room issue that has unfolded in Amherst since the federal government sent their “Dear Colleague” letter last month, check out other recent posts:  Being PolicyFluid in Amherst SchoolsThe firestorm begins in Amherst, Ohio, and cis vs trans or policy.




Cis vs Trans or the Bathroom Policy Can of Worms?


Rex Engle, Amherst OH Board of Education president, at 6-20-16 meeting in the junior high gymnasium.

The Amherst Board of Education met this past Monday evening at 4:30 in the Junior High School gymnasium, a venue sized to hold the crowd of interested parties expected there to voice their concerns over the new federally “mandated” bathroom policy.

Board President, Rex Engle, opened the BOE’s meeting in their standard way with the Pledge of Allegiance and included a tiny amount of housekeeping items before he dove straight into Agenda Item 6, the “transgender bathroom policy.”


Amherst resident and parent, Markos Athineos

One-by-one, those citizens who signed up to speak to the Board stepped up to the podium and shared their concerns. Engle did have to change plans slightly when a few audience members complained loudly that they were being prohibited from speaking; it turned out that those folks were late to the meeting and didn’t sign up to speak.  Engle acquiesced and assured the audience that everyone who wanted to speak would be granted the opportunity.  They were still limited to five minutes, no matter what their own timing pieces indicated.   (It took nearly two hours to complete the roster of speakers.)


Kirsten Penton Hill, one of the Amherst residents who spoke at the BOE meeting Monday, 6-20-16

There was only one real surprise that came out during the meeting, something that even the Board might not have picked up on, and it was that “transgender” people felt debased and insulted when they are called “transgender.” Who knew?  They want to be called merely “Trans.”  Again, who knew? 

If you’ve been living under a rock – or in outer space, perhaps – and don’t know what the uproar is about, in a nutshell it is this:

People with boy “parts” shouldn’t be allowed
in the bathrooms where there are

People with girl “parts,” and, of course, vice versa.

But it’s the sexualization of the transgender issue that has nearly obliterated the emotional needs of both Cis and Trans children. (Cis and trans are latin for “on the side of” versus “on the other side of.”)  Cisgenders identify with the male or female anatomies they were born with, while Transgenders identify with the opposite of their naturally-occurring anatomies.

Most of the fear expressed at the podium Monday night was all about those people who are neither Cis nor Trans, but rather the “perverts” who prey on young, unsuspecting children and adolescents who enter bathrooms with the intent to practice their perversity. The other expressions were from folks sympathetic to the emotional needs or disposition of the people who feel they were given the wrong body at birth.

The Amherst Board of Education appeared to be sympathetic to both sides of the argument and even claimed to have been considerate of trans needs right along. It remains to be seen, though, if the Board puts its dollars where its mouth is, and how long they can fend off the Federal government in its quest to insinuate itself into each and every aspect of our lives.  It’s probably not at all about the children, rather it’s about imposing the Federal will on each and every one of us – whether we need it or not.

The Firestorm Begins in Amherst, Ohio (Video)

Just slightly west of Cleveland, OH, is the city of Amherst, an unlikely hot spot for a confrontation between the parents of school-aged children and the federal government.  But that’s where Markos Athineos, Amherst resident and father, finds himself at the moment.

From  the May 23, 2016 edition of the “Amherst News Times” we read:

Federal transgender bathroom policy supported locally

School officials in Amherst, Oberlin, and Wellington say they’ll comply with a new federal bathroom and locker room policy for transgender students.

The policy directive reminds school officials that they must treat transgender students as the sex they identify with including when it applies to bathrooms and locker rooms.”

Athineos was invited to talk about the locally “mandated” bathroom policy at last Saturday’s Totally Engaged Americans meeting in Amherst.  Athineos went into detail about the back-and-forth discussions he had with district superintendent Steven Sayers, which included the written intervention of Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine.

It was clear that Athineos is sympathetic to the plight of the transgender students and pleaded with the superintendent for a reasonable solution.

Below is an excerpt of Athineos’ talk:

Athineos hopes that everyone concerned about the transgender bathroom policy issue – and how it’s being handled in Amherst – will attend an upcoming meeting:

“Please attend the Amherst Board meeting, June 20, at 4:30PM, Amherst Junior High Media Center, 548 Milan Avenue, Amherst OH

Don’t let the safety, modesty and privacy of your kids be violated.”

June 17, 2016 Update to post  –  Markos on the RADIO.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.41.06 PM

Markos Athineos was on WHK radio AM1420 on Friday, June 17, 2016.  Listen to the interview here starting at minute 15:20.  Again he explains the up to date situation on bathrooms & locker rooms in Amherst Schools.

Being PolicyFluid in Amherst Schools

Transgender LogoAmherst Schools are walking a fine line by promoting the transgender agenda with regard to bathroom rights, while at the same time never voting on an actual policy change to codify those rights. This issue became front and center when President Obama and the Department of Education posted a “Dear Colleague” letter informing schools that students must be allowed to self-report their gender. It claims that if a school does not treat the student by their self-reported gender, then they may be in violation of Title IX, the 1972 law that generally prohibited certain discrimination between males and females.

It is clear that the 1972 law is speaking only of a person’s biological sex. Any transgender awareness at the time certainly did not reach the halls of Congress. Yet as progressives frequently do when it suits them, they have removed  chromosomes from the definition of “sex” and inserted the term gender identity. So who made this decision? How do they have authority to make this change? And wouldn’t it be better to have citizens buy in to any change through the democratic process? Voting and public discussions are the way to change people’s hearts and minds, not by issuing edicts from on high.

Returning to Amherst, questions were raised about their school policy regarding the transgender issue as defined in the Dear Colleague letter. Those questions went unanswered, though, until Superintendent Steve Sayers announced his support of the edict in the Amherst News on May 23. (And note that Oberlin and Wellington schools have responded as well.) He said the school’s job is to create a safe environment for its students and that this includes allowing students to go to the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender of their choice. Missing in Sayers’ equation, of course, are the students who feel UNSAFE by sharing a bathroom or locker room with a student of the opposite biological sex. These students are likely being told to get over their transphobia and to stop being a bigot. Quite a lesson from a school alleging a safe environment for all of its students.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wrote a letter to the Departments of Justice and Education asserting that the Dear Colleague letter was simply a threat and was sent without the force of law. And again he reiterates the political truth that we have known for generations but is antithetical to the philosophies on the left: “There are many, many questions that, consistent with constitutional guarantees, are best left to the decent, common sense judgment of individuals and communities at the state and local level.”

Please watch the Steele News Live video from May 19 on the transgender issue.

And finally, please attend the Amherst School Board meeting at Amherst Junior High School,  548 Milan Ave, Amherst, OH on Monday, June 20 at 4:30 for an evening of public discourse on the matter. As DeWine stated, there can be common sense responses to this issue that should be agreeable to students, parents, and school personnel.

Chronicle-Telegram Misspells “Revitalization”

spouting shoots of grassWhat may seem like a “Civil War” to some may actually be a healthy discussion for others. Now there is certainly no doubt that conservative Republicans across the country have felt let down by statements, actions, and inactions by leaders of the national GOP. This frustration, brewing since before 2008, led to the birth of the modern Tea Party in 2009. The insurgent vs. establishment lines were drawn, and the dialog began.

On Saturday March 26, the Chronicle-Telegram featured in its top story the “Civil War” occurring within the Lorain County Republican Party. Despite efforts to use violent imagery and characterizations, those directly involved in this particular dialog should consider this a war of civility. The changes that occurred happened at the ballot box. It happened because people came to the polls and made a choice with their vote. There is an enormous opportunity for the Republican Party to be more active throughout the county and to be more engaged with the 44,000 Lorain County voters who pulled a Republican ballot on March 15.

In last week’s Republican primary while everybody else was looking at the Kasich-Trump match-up, over 30 Lorain County Republican Central Committee vacancies were filled. It’s also worth noting that among the 188 precincts available in Lorain County, only 17 had competitive races. There will now be 127 members in the Republican Central Committee which, by the way, is more members than the Democrat Central Committee.

These 127 members are resources for the people in Lorain County to influence and steer the direction of the Lorain County Republican Party. Voters WANT to be engaged by their party. Voters WANT to feel that they’ve been given a fair hearing. Despite the negativity that some people have towards politics, we’ve seen great voter enthusiasm this year as primary turnout is hitting record levels. We witnessed this enthusiasm on March 15 where in the “Democrat” county of Lorain, thousands more people actually came out to vote Republican!

There’s much to do before the next County Central Committee elections in the primary of 2020. First, the GOP Convention in Cleveland will choose, by whatever means necessary, a Republican nominee for President. Then of course, we have the November elections where Lorain County citizens will have a chance to change the makeup of the Ohio Statehouse and County offices and judgeships. 2018 will see a slate of new statewide officeholders.

Returning to the Chronicle-Telegram article, it fairly captures the planning of and reactions to the March 15 election of the Lorain County Republican Central Committee. The term “Civil War” might be a little hyperbolic, and maybe we can forgive the need to grab a good headline. But regardless of personalities and details, the Republican Party of Lorain County will be revitalized. On that, we can all agree.

Where are all the Presidential ads?

I Heart Voting buttonWe’re just one week away from the March 15 primary, and Ohio is somewhat silent when it comes to television advertisements for the GOP presidential candidates. You may hear radio ads and see some bumper stickers or yard signs, but the overall ad reach seems to be subdued.

Why would this be? Ohio is a significantly important swing state in November and if history is any guide, we will be seeing mountains of advertising in the fall. But there are two aspects of the GOP primary that makes this year a bit more unique: John Kasich’s campaign and the move to a winner-take-all primary. This appears to have caused other candidates, specifically Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, to give up the fight for second and concentrate their resources elsewhere.

Polls today will show that Gov. Kasich is close to the lead in Ohio, but this wasn’t always the case. In October, a poll showed him with support only in the teens behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The latest Quinnipiac poll from a couple weeks ago had Trump at 31, Kasich at 26, Cruz at 21, Rubio at 13, then Carson at 5. So Kasich, with the backing of the Ohio GOP machine, is returning to the top tier in Ohio but still behind Trump who is attracting Democrats and independents who will vote as Republicans in Ohio’s open primary. (Read the Vindicator story about the Trump effect in Mahoning County.) There simply appears to be no path for an Ohio victory for Cruz or Rubio and there is no prize for second place.

Of course, this is upsetting for all of the Cruz and Rubio supporters in Ohio. Ohio Conservatives United, the group that has been tracking presidential preferences for the last nine months, has illustrated that a solid number of tea party and liberty-minded activists prefer Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio received the endorsement of Ohio Treasurer John Mandel, who risked his own political capital by not endorsing Gov. Kasich, and Rubio made a number of stops in Ohio during the summer and fall of 2015. What should you do if you support one of these two candidates?

The answer is that these activists and supporters need to go old-school. There was a time when candidates did not need millions of dollars to run a campaign simply to get 30-second spots on TV. If you support Cruz or if you support Rubio, do not be discouraged by the lack of campaign resources coming to this state. You are a resource! Recruit like-minded friends to be resources!

This year has been very volatile and sometimes surprising in presidential politics. Some polls have been close, but some polls and conventional wisdom has underestimated the support a particular candidate may have. Make sure you express the necessary energy to get your candidate as much support as you possibly can.

P.S. Ohioans need to look at this primary, as we do every primary, and see what we can learn from it. For instance, look at early voting. When early voting started on Feb 17, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson were still candidates. Early voting in the November 2012 election began before ANY of the presidential debates. Four weeks before an election is an extremely long time and anyone who is in the least bit undecided should wait as long as possible… like Election Day… before casting a ballot.

Secondly, we should discuss the open vs. closed primary. On the one hand, it allows anybody who has a development of political perspective to vote in the primary with which they feel most aligned. On the other hand, it allows for an “Operation Chaos” where opponents of a party will vote to change the outcome of the competition.

And lastly, the proportional vs winner-take-all primaries need to be reviewed. By June, we will see what effect the winner-take-all states had on the GOP Primary outcome. In the past, the winner-take-all method has allowed a candidate with only 35% of the vote to get 100% of the delegates. The proportional method in the Democrat Party allows Bernie Sanders to continue picking up delegates. In the Republican primary, it had previously allowed Ron Paul to gather delegates even after it was clear he was not going to win.

The candidates for Ohio House and Senate may have a chance to amend the laws for the 2020 primary, and it would be a good question to ask them before they earn your vote.

Become An Informed Voter!

Lorain County Board of ElectionsOhio’s primary is only six weeks away on Tuesday, March 15, and it should prove to be a very important and decisive day for the leading presidential candidates. But there are many other races on the ballot on both the Democrat and the Republican side, and many of us usually feel more and more disconnected as we moved down the ballot. Well, this is the OPPOSITE of how it should be! Those people further down the ballot are the ones who live closest to you and over whom you can have most influence. For this reason, let’s look at the Lorain County races (candidates list here) moving up-ballot!

Political Party

Many cities have wards which are the smallest political unit, but not everybody lives in a ward. Everybody in Lorain County does, however, live in one of 188 precincts.

Precinct Committee Chairmen are elected to office on the primary ballot as they only reflect the opinions of those who choose a political party. Some actually go unfilled, and many are unopposed. Primary challenges do exist this year, especially in Amherst and Elyria and then scattered throughout the county. These individuals make up the committee for the Lorain County Democrat or Republican Party.  It is their job to make sure the party is acting as a positive force within the county, and in a direction that correlates with the views of most voters. The split within the Republican Party has been well-documented can be characterized as conservative vs. establishment.

State Central Committee members make up the committee that directs and leads the statewide party. The Democrats don’t have seats up for election this year, but the Republican party (and Green Party) does. There is one male and one female from the 13th State Senate district, covering Lorain and Huron counties, who represent the party on the state level.

The female candidates are incumbent Joyce Houck and challenger Kirsten Penton Hill. The male candidates include incumbent Matt Cox and challengers David Moore and Michael Witte. Kirsten Penton Hill is the director of Totally Engaged Americans of Lorain County, and Michael Witte is a longtime member and is active with the Convention of States project. All three challengers, Kirsten, Michael, and David Moore, spoke at our candidate’s forum last month. Continue reading