March 2007 News from Policy Matters Ohio: New board, new staff, new events, new reports

- March 20, 2007

Welcome Aboard – Attorney Joyce Goldstein will be our new board chair and David Bergholz and Seth Rosen have also come on board. Bergholz is a photographer, education leader, and the retired Executive Director of the George Gund Foundation. Rosen is the inspired Vice President of the Communication Workers of America District Four, a five-state region. Goldstein, a founding board member of Policy Matters, has been a labor lawyer in Cleveland for nearly 25 years and has her own firm. “Joyce, David and Seth have a strong vision for the organization, passion for public policy and phenomenal reputations in their respective professional communities,” said Amy Hanauer, Executive Director of Policy Matters. “They will help us amplify our voice in the Ohio policy debate.” See our entire board list here.

Staffing Up – Kahlil Seren Huff brings creativity; strong web design skills; a commitment to environmental, racial and economic justice; and a calm, easy style to our new Communications Coordinator position. His resume also claims expertise in ‘behavioral analysis and control’ but we’re hoping he doesn’t immediately put those skills to use on the rest of the staff. Welcome Kahlil.

For the calendar – Jonathan Cohn, a Senior Fellow at the national think tank Demos, and a senior editor at The New Republic, will come to the Cleveland City Club on Friday May 11 to discuss his new book Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price. Save the date for what is sure to be a healthy discussion.

Fries with that? – Last month’s finding that there are now more payday lenders in Ohio than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King combined led a U.S. House subcommittee to invite Policy Matters to testify on payday lending. Researcher David Rothstein told Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich and the other representatives that the number of payday lenders has ballooned more than fourteen-fold to 1562 by last year. These lenders charge interest rates that exceed 300 percent annually, draining borrowers and communities. We could solve this problem – in fact Congress  recently limited interest that could be charged to military families to a still-high 36 percent. Other families deserve the same protection.  Here’s the testimony, and the research it was based on.

Foreclosing Ohio – Ohio foreclosure filings jumped sharply in 2006, Policy Matters Ohio reported in a study released this week. There were 79,072 new foreclosure filings, a leap of more than 15,000 or 23.6 percent from 2005. Ohio’s foreclosure crisis, already severe, just keeps getting worse. Cuyahoga County again led the state in foreclosure filings per person, while filings in Delaware County shot up faster from the year before – almost 50 percent – than in any Ohio county. Predatory home loans contribute immensely to this problem and common sense regulation could turn the tide. Read the study here.

Stormy Weather? – The ground has thawed but Ohio’s job market has not. The state lost jobs during the winter, more than offsetting the modest gains experienced during calendar 2006. Over the past year, the state has lost 24,000 jobs. Get the dismal forecast here.

Education Experts – Policy Matters Executive Director Amy Hanauer joined Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammon, the Center for Community Change’s Deepak Bhargava, the Forum for Education and Democracy’s George Wood, Ohio Education Department’s Special Advisor C.J. Prentiss and charter school experts from around the country at Keeping the Promise or Dismantling Communities, a forum co-sponsored by the Center for Community Change, the Forum for Education and Democracy and the Open Society Institute on March 28 in Washington, DC.

A fond farewell – The end of March brings one sad bit of news as Jeff Miller, who has kept our webpage snappy, our e-news timely, our office running and our staff smiling leaves to take a full-time job with the ACLU of Ohio. We’ll miss Jeff terribly but we take some consolation in knowing that he’s just a few blocks away and is still fighting for things he believes in. Join us in wishing that the road rises to meet him.

That’s all!
The Policy Matters Ohio Team 

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