House Speaker John Boehner has a challenger for next year’s GOP primary.
Eric Gurr, a local businessman and political neophyte, said he decided to run against Boehner after the West Chester congressman and House Speaker endorsed a U.S. military strike against Syria.
“It was a tipping point,” the 48-year-old Gurr said in an interview. “I’m not a big fan of getting involved in the internal politics of another country.”
On his website, Gurr states: “I am thoroughly convinced that the best foreign policy is to have no foreign policy at all.”
A Liberty Township resident, Gurr is the CEO of Best & Brightest Inc., a computer consulting firm based in West Chester. The father of three children and two grandchildren, Gurr said he also thinks Boehner has fallen short on other issues, such as immigration reform.
Speaker of the House John Boehner. File photo
Boehner has said the House would not take up a Senate-passed comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, opting for a more incremental approach. Gurr said he is staunchly opposed to the Senate proposal.
“They keep saying the immigration system is broken,” Gurr said. “That’s absolute nonsense.”
Gurr said his interest in politics was spurred by a longtime love of history books. He concedes he will have a hard time challenging Boehner, who as House Speaker wields immense power and raises millions of dollars. Boehner has consistently cruised to re-election in the 8th district.
Boehner’s campaign spokesman, Cory Fritz, declined to comment on Gurr’s announcement.
House Speaker John Boehner talks with reporters outside the White House on Sept. 3. / AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
House Speaker John Boehner was one of the early backers of President Barack Obama’s call for a military strike in Syria.
So, how’s that playing in Butler County, the heart of the 8th Congressional District of Ohio?
Not very well, according to The Enquirer’s discussions this week with residents and public officials in Butler County, where Boehner lives and which holds the most political weight in Boehner’s five-county Congressional District 8 in Ohio. Butler County is a staunch Republican stronghold with the largest population and the highest household incomes.
It’s the same place where Boehner lately has come under fire from some of his more conservative constituents. They accused him of losing sight his Republican principles for repeatedly voting on measures to raise the debt ceiling and taxes.
One political expert said Boehner’s support might cost him votes next session for Speaker of the House, but he doubts it would oust him from Congress.
Of the 20 people the Enquirer approached about Boehner, some didn’t even know who he was, much less what was his stance on an attack on Syria.
Other opinions ranged from applauding him for at least making a decision to questions about whether he’s still a conservative. One person said he staunchly agrees with what Boehner did and that politics shouldn’t be involved.
Patricia Harmon, 49, of Middletown, suggested Boehner was a turncoat.
“I thought he didn’t like Democrats. Why is he all of a sudden backing the president?” she said.
Dave Kern, a tea party member and head of the Butler County Republican Party, thinks Boehner is misguided but doesn’t necessarily blame him.
“I think John was given bad advice,” Kern said of Boehner’s support of the president. “What the President has proposed to do makes no sense. But (Boehner) surely has been privy to reports that I have not seen and should not have seen.”
Boehner was one of few Republicans to come out publicly in support of an airstrike in Syria. He said the United States needed to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, which reportedly killed 1,400 civilians in Damascus.
Since then, other local federal lawmakers such as Kentucky’s Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman have come out against military action.
Rawan Mubarak, 9, of Damascus, Syria, smiles as she plays with her host family, of West Chester, on Wednesday, June 5.
Amanda Davidson is a photojournalist and multimedia producer with The Enquirer
I met Rawan Mubarak on my birthday back in early June, and three months later, I’ve come to realize that the time I got to spend with her was a true gift and a reminder to never take anything for granted.
Rawan, 9, of Damascus, Syria, has seen and endured things in her short life that I can’t even imagine.
About a year and a half ago, in the beginning stages of Syria’s civil war, Rawan and members of her family ran to a neighboring home as shells exploded all around them. Shrapnel tore into her torso and right arm. She was hospitalized and parts of her stomach and intestines were removed. Her right arm was gone.
Rawan Mubarak, 9, of Damascus, Syria, smiles with photographer, Amanda Davidson, before her final doctor’s appointment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on August 26. The Enquirer/ Amanda Davidson
Rawan says that she was really sad when she lost her arm, but these days you would never know it. She’s always smiling.
She is the first child injured in the Syrian civil war to be brought to Cincinnati by the local chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The nonprofit covered all of her expenses and with the help of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and JF Rowley Prosthetic and Orthotic Laboratory, Rawan received a new prosthetic arm.
“I told her the new arm will be to help her, but it would not be a regular arm,” said Malak Falah. Malak and her husband, Saleh, hosted Rawan in their West Chester home. They became a surrogate family, as well as interpreters to the Arabic-speaking girl.
On June 10, Rawan was extremely excited for her first visit to Children’s, knowing she would be getting a new arm. But disappointment sank in when she realized the arm wasn’t real. Making matters worse, she also needed surgery to remove bone spurs, to ensure her prosthetic would have a proper fit and not cause discomfort. Surgery also meant that Rawan would be in Cincinnati six weeks longer than expected.
The Falah family made it a mission to ensure that Rawan would not be discouraged. In the following weeks, Rawan tried all sorts of new things including swimming, rock climbing and horseback riding. She became a fixture in the Falah’s West Chester home but remained in contact with her family back in Syria through texting and Skype.
One morning within the past month, as he prepared for work as a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble, Ashraf Traboulsi learned that his brother-in-law had been injured in a bombing in Syria.
“What is difficult for me and many of us is living daily life with this in the back of our minds,” Traboulsi said of the 2½-year Syrian uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. “You still have to go to meetings. Life goes on. It’s a constant struggle.”
For Traboulsi and the estimated 600 people in the local Syrian-American community, the bloody revolution that began in their homeland in March 2011 has been a source of anguish – even division – between those supporting Assad and those against him.
For Ashraf Traboulsi of West Chester Township and the estimated 600 people in the local Syrian- American community, the bloody revolution that began in their homeland in March 2011 has been a source of anguish even division. The Enquirer/ Cara Owsley
Yet for Syrian-Americans seeking a new government in Syria and peace for its 23 million people, violence in their homeland – including recent chemical weapons attacks by government troops against rebels and civilians – has united them in a cause and drawn them into the larger community, where they say they’ve been heartened by genuine concern and expressions of support.
“Some people don’t want to know what is going on,” said Traboulsi, 47, a married father of two sons who lives in West Chester Township. He left Syria in 1990 – becoming a U.S. citizen in 1995 – but left behind a sister and four nieces. “But other people, non-Muslims and non-Syrians, want to understand what is happening.”
To combat frustration and helplessness, as anti-government tensions arose throughout the Middle East and became known as the Arab Spring, local Syrian-Americans formed the Syrian American Foundation three years ago.
Traboulsi, its president, said the organization is into its third drive to collect relief supplies – winter clothing, shoes, toys and school supplies – to send via 40-foot sea container to Turkey. There, a nongovernmental organization takes the supplies to the estimated 6 million displaced Syrians who remain in the country. Another 2 million Syrian refugees are in camps in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
“We are doing what we can do,” said Dr. Mohammad Sheatt, 39, a foundation co-founder, director of TriHealth’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program and U.S. citizen for a year.
The foundation raised $184,000 at an April dinner to keep Syria’s only acute-care hospital open for two months.
Closer to home, in the Mason neighborhood where Sheatt lives with his wife and two young daughters, people who know of Sheatt’s Syrian roots have donated clothing, toys and school supplies to the foundation. Its Mason warehouse is filled with packed boxes.
After a meeting at the White House this morning, House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would back the president’s push for U.S. military action in Syria.
“I’m going to support the president’s call for action. I believe my colleagues should,” Boehner said after a meeting between President Obama and top congressional leaders.
Here is more of what the West Chester Republican said:
“The use of chemical weapons is a barbarous act. It’s pretty clear to me the United Nations is unable to take action, NATO not likely to take action. The United States for our entire history has stood up for democracy and freedom for people around the world.
“The use of these weapons has to be responded to and only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated. I appreciate the president reaching out to me and my colleagues in Congress. I also appreciate the president asking the Congress to support him in this action. This is something the United States as a country needs to do. I’m going to support the president’s call for action. I believe my colleagues should support this call for action.”
He said the U.S. has have enemies “around the world that need to understand” they cannot use chemical weapons and we also have allies around the world “who need to know that America will be there and stand up when it’s necessary.”
To let West Chester and Liberty Township residents catch up with the news that they need to know, WestChesterBuzz.com will list and link to all of last week’s top local stories every Monday. That list was posted earlier this morning on the Buzz, visit the homepage of WestChesterBuzz.com for everything that happened June 24-30.
What about the rest of the month?
With it being July 1st, I thought it was time to review some of the bigger news items from June 1-23 in West Chester and Liberty townships.
A minivan plowed into the Taco Bell store at 8126 Princeton-Glendale Road on the afternoon of June 4th. Photo provided by Gail Wunderlin.
Van crashes into Taco Bell – The driver who plowed into the Taco Bell at 8126 Princeton-Glendale Road in West Chester Township on June was charged with having an open container. However, police say they believe the accident was caused by a medical condition and not because of alcohol.
Local Tea Party protests IRS – Members of The Cincinnati Tea Party, as well as members from the Liberty Township and West Chester tea parties, held signs and waved at passing motorists outside House Speaker John Boehner’s West Chester office June 19 afternoon. The group was protesting the IRS and its alleged targeting of conservative groups.
The Nasty Boys reunited this past week. It was the first time that the trio got together for a signing. Photo taken by Adam Kiefaber.
The Nasty Boys visit West Chester – For the first time since 2010, when Chris Sabo was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, The Nasty Boys – Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers – were together again when they took part in a special signing event at the Sports Gallery, 7967 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, in West Chester Township June 12. It was the first time that the three were together for a signing event.
Construction on debated roundabout – Construction began June 10 on a roundabout at the intersection of Kyles Station and Yankee roads in Liberty Township. Some neighbors don’t believe a roundabout at the intersection is needed and don’t want it built. County officials disagree and say the design of the roundabout forces drivers to slow down, improving safety.
SentriLock opens global HQ – Electronic lockbox systems provider SentriLock opened its new West Chester headquarters on June 21. The National Association of Realtors-owned SentriLock sought the move from Sharonville to a new 40,000-square-foot facility at 7701 Service Center Drive to house its 100 employees. The company said it sought the move as a result of its expanding operations.
Lt. Jon DeWitt. Photo provided.
West Chester Police mourn the loss of Lt. Jon DeWitt – Enquirer reporter Sheila McLaughlin recently wrote about the life of Lt. Jon DeWitt, who passed away June 1 after being diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer. DeWitt set his priorities: his wife and two teenaged children, the West Chester Township police force where he worked for more than two decades and the Marine Corps that gave him discipline and set a direction in his life.
West gets new AD – The Lakota school district recently announced that Scott Kaufman, the athletic director at Wyoming High School, will join the administrative team at Lakota East serving as an assistant principal and also as athletic director. Afterwards, school officials tweaked that announcement, saying Kaufman will serve at those positions at Lakota West instead of Lakota East.
Prosecutor to fight public records case - A case involving Butler County officials illegally withholding a 911 tape from The Enquirer in a 2012 Father’s Day slaying is headed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has filed notice that he’ll appeal an Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals decision last week that he and Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage violated the public records act in withholding the 911 tape containing a confession from defendant Michael Ray.
Woman dies in Lib. Twp. wreck – A 56-year-old Middletown woman died last June 13 after suffering injuries in a three-vehicle crash in Liberty Township. The Butler County coroner’s office pronounced Mary Schaeffer died at the crash scene at Ohio 747 just north of Willow Ridge Drive, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. Authorities received a call about the crash shortly after 6 a.m. wo other drivers — Michael McAninch, 41, of Mason, and Denise Wuebben, 59, of Hamilton — suffered injuries and were transported to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown.
Rawan Mubarak, 9, of Damascus, Syria, smiles as she plays with a stuffed animal inside her room at her host family’s home in West Chester. Photo taken by Amanda Davidson.
Wounded Syrian girl finds a haven in West Chester – Enquirer reporter Mark Curnutte shared a story about Rawan Mubarak, who lost her right arm during Syria’s civil war. Now the 9-year-old girl is on the verge of receiving a prosthetic right arm thanks to several individuals and organizations in Greater Cincinnati. She is also living with a host family in West Chester Township.
VOA Park sports complex seeks funds – At 435 acres, Voice of America MetroPark off Cox Road is the flagship of the Butler County system and one of the newest parks in the region. Millions are being spent on it to build a $24 million athletic complex that is counted on to draw regional and national tournaments from the eastern United States and to pump an estimated $26 million a year into the local economy by five years after the full complex is up and running.
Coney Island 1965 opens – EnterTRAINment Junction officially opened its replica of Coney Island as it was in 1965 on June 21. Overall, the project cost more than $150,000 to build and includes a 40-foot long roller coaster called the Shooting Star. The original Shooting Star was built in 1948. EnterTRAINment Junction is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
9-year-old Rawan, who lost an arm to shrapnel, gets a loving home and medical care here
Mark Curnutte reports:
A little more than a year ago, as shells exploded around her house in Damascus, Rawan Mubarak ran with her family for shelter in another house – not an uncommon escape plan for civilians trapped in Syria’s civil war.
Shrapnel flew from a shell and tore into Rawan’s torso and right arm. When she awoke days later in a local hospital, parts of her intestines and stomach had been removed. And her arm was gone.
“I didn’t see it,” she said in Arabic. “I cried. I got sad.”
Rawan Mubarak, 9, of Damascus, Syria, smiles as she plays with a stuffed animal inside her room at her host family’s home in West Chester. Photo taken by Amanda Davidson.
In the past year, though, Rawan completed third grade and relearned how to write, color, shower and – yes – even send text messages and shoot baskets left-handed.
Now the 9-year-old girl is on the verge of receiving a prosthetic right arm thanks to several individuals and organizations in Greater Cincinnati.
Rawan is the first child injured in the Syrian civil war brought to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center by the new local chapter of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. It is a self-described non-political, non-religious nonprofit, founded 20 years ago in Kent, Ohio, that provides expert surgery and humanitarian aid to children and families in the Middle East – primarily those from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Its other offices are in Saida, Lebanon, and the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the central West Bank.
Other Palestine Fund children are brought free of charge to other U.S. cities for donated medical care. The first Cincinnati chapter child, a boy, 1, is at Children’s for esophageal reconstruction. An 11-year-old boy is coming from the disputed lands for treatment of severe burns. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund covers all of a child’s expenses. Doctors and the prosthetic company here are donating goods and services.
More children are expected to come from Syria. Its civil war, which started in March 2011 when that nation’s Arab Spring revolts turned bloody, has led to the deaths of more than 80,000 people, some 500 of them children, according to the United Nations. An estimated 260,000 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, are in camps in Lebanon. The Palestine Children’s group sends medical missions to those camps.
Closer to home, the focus today is on helping one girl return as whole as possible.
“We have an incredibly generous host family for Rawan,” said Lena Shawwa, a banker who is the local chapter’s treasurer. “We want the experience to be positive for the child in all ways.”
The local chapter has nine volunteer board members and 20 additional volunteers who work directly with visiting children to provide transportation to medical appointments or take them for day outings if the host family is not available.
International patients and pediatric war wounds are not new for doctors at Cincinnati Children’s. In the past 20 years, patients from Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Haiti are among those who’ve received care at Children’s. (more…)