Tuesday, December 13, 2005

No Rosy Outlook in Ohio

When Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH-15) said that our country was enjoying a strong economy, she obviously hadn't checked her facts. A story in the Chicago Tribune describes the poverty and unemployment that Ohioans are really dealing with in this economy. Here are some excerpts:

Beneath the federal government statistics that show the nation's economy is improving are the smaller and more focused numbers that tell a different story in the industrial Midwest and elsewhere around the nation. In small Ohio manufacturing centers such as Wooster, Archbold, Lima and the Ohio River village of Hannibal--where 650 jobs, including Burkhart's, are about to end with the closing of an aluminum mill--there still is little to celebrate.

These places, among those where about 3,100 Ohio jobs will be eliminated in the next few months, underscore the reality that the economy, despite job gains on the national scale, remains an intensely local matter...

However, in this region of eastern Ohio, those numbers don't tell the whole story. Unemployment rates here are consistently higher than the national average, and poverty rates are high too. In Monroe County, for example, the unemployment rate is 7.5 percent. In Athens County in southeastern Ohio the rate is 5.2 percent, but the poverty rate is 28 percent, reflecting the fact that nearly 3 in 10 working people in low-wage jobs live below the poverty line...

Food pantries, many of which diverted supplies to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, are serving 1 million more Ohioans than they did two years ago, and many are stretched beyond their limit.

"The well is almost dry," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks...

In a 55-foot-long trailer, retiree Lester Harden, 61, and his wife are raising their 7-year-old grandson, Andrew. Harden is the father of seven grown children and has 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His daughter has mental problems, he said, and cannot care for her child. Now, with a monthly state check of $223 and a state-paid health insurance card, he is raising the child, diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Harden, who lives in the southeast Ohio hamlet of Glouster, drives the youngster to and from school every day and seven times a month takes Andrew to a psychiatrist at a nearby clinic in nearby Athens.

"We're responsible for everything--his food, his clothes, his transportation," Harden said, sitting in the trailer's tiny living area, with Christmas decorations strung from the ceiling and pictures of grandchildren on the wall.

Harden, who has diabetes, said he was raised by his grandparents and "this is what I have to do," but he wishes the state would provide food and transportation assistance to help.

"I'm not really bitter--stressed, maybe," he said with a laugh. "I can say this isn't how my wife and I planned to spend our retirement."

Jack Frech, who runs the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, said the debate about the health of the economy is heavily influenced by political spin. The reality, Frech said, is that increasing numbers of people are working in jobs that force them to rely on food pantries. And the concerns of many of the working poor and their children do not rank high as political priorities.

"Just look around," he said. "Now you see food pantries that are mainstays in towns. It didn't used to be that way."

Please read the rest of the article.
Also....Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce has announced some staff changes, according to THE HILL.
Here are two paragraphs from the large article:

Kathryn Lehman, Pryce's chief of staff, will depart Capitol Hill after a 15-year career; she is reviewing offers in the private sector. Greg Crist, the communications director, will join Dutko Worldwide, a lobbying firm...

Crist joins Dutko, where Gary Andres is a top lobbyist. Andres and his wife, Sue, a lobbyist at Union Pacific, are confidantes of Pryce. Their daughter interned in Pryce's office last summer.

Here is info on Dutko Worldwide.

It is not my intention to tell Rep. Pryce how to choose her friends, but this closeness and trading of staffs with lobbyists has created problems. Does a representative respond to a request from a friend who is a lobbyist faster than from a constituent??????