Guards working for the state of Ohio didn't poison Jerome Henderson of Cincinnati this week. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a stay of the execution, which had been scheduled Dec. 5 in the state prison in Lucasville.
In 1985 Henderson received a death sentence for the murder of 26-year-old Mary Acoff. The court delayed the execution pending a decision in the case of Cooey v. Taft, which asserts that the mix of poison — the polite term is "three-drug cocktail" — used to execute prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of a prisoner to challenge the state's method of execution (see "Making a Killing," issue of July 12). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Cooey v. Taft Thursday.
The good news about the Henderson ruling put a religious group, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC), in the unusual position of canceling a prayer service. Announcing there's no need now for a pre-execution vigil for Henderson, IJPC urged, "Enjoy your evening in celebration of the decision."
The I.R.S. is giving you a one-time opportunity to take back some of your war taxes. Because courts have ruled that the federal telephone excise tax doesn't apply to long-distance service as it's billed today, the I.R.S. is refunding the portion of the tax charged on long-distance calls.
The IRS is also refunding taxes collected on telephone service under plans that don't differentiate between long distance and local calls. The refunds, available only on 2006 tax returns, are for $30 to $60, based on the number of personal exemptions.
The telephone excise tax, enacted in 1898 to pay for the U.S. war against Spain, was renewed for the Korean and Vietnam wars and made permanent in 1990. About 50 percent of the funds raised by the tax goes to military spending, according to anti-war groups that have long urged citizens to withhold payment (see "Porkopolis," issue of Oct. 31, 2002). For details on the tax refund, visit www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=161506,00.html.
Leaders Lost and Found
Cincinnati progressives, labor supporters and anyone concerned about public schools were hit hard this week by the sudden death of Tom Mooney. Serving as president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers the past six years, Mooney expanded on the groundbreaking work he did during more than two decades as the head of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers — not only protecting the rights and economic interests of teachers but working to improve the quality of education for children. State and local leaders pronounced themselves shocked by Mooney's death at age 52 of an apparent heart attack.
"No one was more passionate about providing our children with an equal opportunity to learn and compete in a global society," said Gov.-Elect Ted Strickland. "And Tom was not afraid to challenge the status quo. He pushed higher standards while fighting to create a constitutional system of school funding in Ohio that is both adequate and equitable."
Ohio Senate Democratic Leader C.J. Prentiss called him "a pillar in the education community in Ohio."
"Mooney was a tireless fighter throughout his career on every issue that came before the education community," she said. "We turned to Mooney every step of the way to see to it that Ohio's schoolchildren were at the forefront of the state's goals. We will deeply miss him."
David Little, a veteran local Democratic campaign organizer, spoke for those who counted Mooney a friend.
"It is difficult to think of a future without his vitality, his passion, his humor and his uncompromising friendship," he said.
In late October, Mooney helped turn a birthday dinner for Little into a Halloween masquerade.
"He embraced that evening as he did all of life — with a fearless gusto unmatched and unrehearsed," Little said.
Strickland is calling on Hamilton County Democrats to help his transition into the Governor's Mansion. This week he named the people who will lead state government review teams to evaluate current practices and report their findings to the new administration. Included are Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, working on the Department of Youth Services; Hamilton County Coroner O'dell Owens, on the Commission on African-American Males; retired U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Jones and former Mayor Charlie Luken, named to the ethics team; former Mayor Dwight Tillery, working on the Ohio Racing Commission; Chad Wick, president of KnowledgeWorks Foundation, working on higher education; retiring State Rep. Catherine Barrett, the Department of Aging; and attorney John P. Gilligan, the Ohio Building Authority.
The local NAACP is in the midst of an electoral uproar. Read about it and about a truckload of meaningful but ill-fated pigs on CityBeat's Porkopolis blog at citybeat.wordpress.com.
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