Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sheryl Harris gives holiday gift to keep giving until 2008

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/26/2006 - 16:03.

On Sunday, December 24, 2006, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sheryl Harris wrote a column I thought to write myself, titled "My holiday gift to you: A list of Ohio politicians who sold you out", "a list of the Northeast Ohio legislators who voted to curtail your consumer rights" by passing lobbyist, lawyer and industry-benefiting Amended Substitute Senate Bill Number 117, allowing significant corporate entitlements to soar through the Ohio legislature without community debate. The amendments are most significantly designed "to prohibit the use of enterprise theories of liability against manufacturers in product liability claims, and to include public nuisance claims under the definition of product liability claims", meaning to protect the paint industry here from liability for the public nuisance they have caused by selling lead based paint nearly a century after it was known to harm humans, as proved in their loss to the State of Rhode Island earlier this year. The amendments also protect car dealers, scam loan sharks, manufacturers, etc. from real accountability for harming the public. The legislators who are guilty of this abuse of their offices were listed in the PD article with the suggestion that is "a keepsake you could clip and save." Local blogger Jill Miller Zimon repeated the list on her excellent blog, "Writes like she talks", and I repeat it here, so it may be as present in cyberspace and available to the world as possible. We will need this list over the next many years, until all of these anti-Ohioan men and women are driven from public "service", as they have shown they do not protect public interests. By having this information in as many public places as possible, I hope we the people will be more successful protecting the public than has our legislature under current rule. The list of sell outs and further harms they cause the public is as follows, from Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sheryl Harris:

Sen. Ron Amstutz, Wooster.

Sen. Jeffrey Armbruster, North Ridgeville.

Sen. Kevin Coughlin, Cuya- hoga Falls.

Sen. Tim Grendell, Chesterland.

Sen. Bob Spada, North Royalton.

Rep. Chuck Calvert, Medina.

Rep. Matthew Dolan, Novelty.

Rep. Bob Gibbs, Lakeville.

Rep. Sally Conway-Kilbane, Rocky River.

Rep. Earl Martin, Avon Lake.

Rep. Tom Patton, Strongsville.

Rep. Mary Taylor, Uniontown (our auditor-elect).

Rep. Jim Trakas, Independence.

Rep. Dan White, Norwalk.

Rep. John Widowfield, Cuyahoga Falls.

In a single day, as the legislature was about to adjourn, these Republicans joined their lame-duck colleagues and weakened the state's 30-year-old Consumer Sales Practices Act.

In a single vote, they dulled the impact of the state's predatory lending law before it even went into effect.

They arbitrarily limited awards for noneconomic damages to $5,000.

Simply put, they voted to protect businesses that cheat consumers from having to pay the price in court.

Spurred on by the car dealer lobby, these legislators acted without holding a single hearing.

Without asking for testimony.

Without allowing even one consumer to speak out.

A House committee rammed the changes into a bill on an unrelated topic expressly so the public would be shut out of the process.

And they did so, as downstate Rep. Louis Blessing told me, because they knew the bill couldn't possibly pass in the next legislative session.

My gift to you is very small.

It cannot undo the damage that these legislators have done to you, or to the ideal of a fair marketplace, or to the very spirit of our democracy.

But some day, these people will come back to you and ask you for your vote.

My gift will help you remember who they are.

Previous columns online:

cleveland.com/columns

If you have a consumer problem you haven't been able to resolve on your own, e-mail sherylharris@ plaind.com; write to Plain Dealing in care of The Plain Dealer, 1801 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114; or call the Plain Dealing help line at 216-999-6344. By submitting a question, you are agreeing to have it published in the paper. Plain Dealing can respond to complaints only through the column.