Details about event

The February Free Press Second Saturday Cyber-Salon started with some songs from local musician/activist Bill Cohen. He gave us a sample of the type of music and trivia we will find during his Annual Valentine's Concert to benefit Central Ohio Folk Festival, live-streamed on the “Bill Cohen Sings” Facebook page,Sunday, February 14, 7pm. Facebook Event
Bill will sing popular songs from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, tunes made famous by John Denver, the Everly Brothers, Sam Cooke, James Taylor, Bing Crosby, Patti Page, Eagles, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, and others.There will be a lighter side too, with fun trivia questions about romance.
Admission will be free but donations are welcomed.
During his trivia contest with us, Pat Marida pointed out she didn’t think Tiny Tim (one of the answers) was an activist, but then remembered in the chat that he came to visit the Great Peace March in Toledo when she was there and she got a photo of him!

Next, Dr. Marilyn Howard and Bob Fitrakis discussed their new book, co-written with Dr. Michael Brooks of Bowling Green: “A History of Hate in Ohio: Then and Now” Dr. Howard is a professor at Columbus State Community College who wrote her dissertation on the lynchings of black men in Ohio. She wrote the introduction to the book, now on pre-order from Ohio State University Press. Michael Brooks wrote the history of hate in Ohio from the 1800s through the 1970s, and Dr. Fitrakis wrote the more recent historical developments of white supremacy and neo-Nazis in our state from the 70s to the present day. The photo in the lower half of the book is one of Bob’s from a neo-Nazi rally in Newark, Ohio. Several guests relayed personal stories about experiences with white supremacists in their past.

Verbz Vegas posted an anti-fascist song he recorded for us in the chat.

Dusty Estepp, an enthusiastic campaign volunteer, announced an upcoming Zoom fundraiser for Nina Turner’s campaign for Congress in the 11th district of Ohio, a Cleveland-area district formerly held by Marcia Fudge, who recently accepted the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration. Turner was very active in the Bernie Sanders campaign and a very progressive candidate. Dusty will be hosting the Zoom fundraiser and some confirmed speakers will be celebrity guest Ben Hauck (actor and stand-in for John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight”), Adrienne Hood, Bob Fitrakis, and of course, Nina Turner. The fundraiser is on March 31 at 9pm and has a Facebook event page.

We were unhappy and outraged to learn that the Kossuth Street Garden received an eviction notice earlier in the day.Troy Anthony Harris joined us to promote the Save Kossuth Street Garden: Don't Let Developers Destroy Our Community! event that will be Sunday, February 14, 4:30pm at 614 E. Kossuth St. Please register for this event here:
Kossuth Street Garden is a 15-year- old community garden in a working class community of color. It won the Franklin Conservatory's 2020 Neighborhood Improvement Project of the Year award. This garden has been an educational and social space for the community.
Although the community that runs the garden had offered to buy the land, it was instead sold to developer Tracy Cohen for the same amount of money.
Now, the developer is planning on building expensive homes ranging from $250,000-$350,000. On top of contributing to gentrification, the future owners of these homes would likely receive tax abatements.
Join the Kossuth Street Garden and other community organizations on Sunday, February 14th as we build support in advance of a city council hearing and vote about the garden on the 22nd.

We learned Comfest will be virtual again this year – and even better than ever! Marty Stutz, from Comfest committee, told us they are putting together an event that will have live and recorded music, a street fair with vendors and community organization workshops. He noted the deadline for grants this year is extended to April 1st and that the annual Logo Contest is now open, also with an April 1st deadline.

Stu Nicholson gave us great news from All Aboard Ohio – that we can expect Amtrak to expand their passenger rail service in Ohio, including a station in Columbus! This was great news for people who have been harboring rage against the Kasich machine from when he gave back federal funding for a rail system when he became governor in 2010. There is a lot of news about the potential rail system on the All Aboard Ohio website: five new routes linking Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati with Dayton, Indianapolis, Detroit-Pontiac in Michigan, Buffalo-Albany-New York, and Pittsburgh. But, they need us to contact our congressional representatives to encourage them to give the funding.  
Contact Gov. Mike DeWine HERE
Contact your Senator HERE
Contact your Representative HERE
There is also the possibility of a Chicago-Ft. Wayne-Columbus-Pittsburgh train through MORPC.

Rachel Coyle of How Things Work at the Ohio Statehouse presented on some current bills in the state legislature: Ohio House Bill 55 would allow the public to give virtual testimony. Please join the demand for virtual testimony here.
Ohio Senate Bill 17 (the budget bill) will make it very difficult for people to receive food assistance. Also, we discussed House Bill 60 which would allow Autism Spectrum Disorder to be a qualifying condition to receive medial marijuana.
Pat Marida pointed out that we still need to repeal the repulsive HB 6 that gives bailouts to the nuclear industry.
Bill Lyons mentioned the anti-protest bill we should be keeping an eye on – SB 16, making it a felony for protests that block roads and sidewalks.
Rachel told us that her group gives virtual one-hour trainings on how to keep understand state legislation, how to best contact legislators, how to testify, and keep track of of the progress. The group is very closely watching redistricting efforts in Ohio – which we need badly – but the process is slowed down because of census delays. Stay tuned.

Sandy Bolzenius let us know about this event: Move to Amend, Central Ohio -- "Reversing Gerrymandering in Ohio" (Thursday, February 25, 7-8PM). Register here.
You can also sign up here and get email invites for all Move to Amend, Central Ohio events. She also announced this: Are you in Joyce Beatty's district? If so and are willing to be part of a group meeting with her, contact me. TOPIC: an amendment declaring that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

Victoria Kahn told us about the educational gardening events at Beat the Blues with Something Green CFAES.

The Free Press thanks Steve Caruso for being our technical guru for these cyber-salons!

Hope to see you at the next one!
Pete Johnson
President, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism
Contact: 614-253-2571