State Rep. Tom Letson and other Democrats in the Ohio House tried up to the very end to slow down the process of approving the state's new U.S. congressional district boundaries.
Letson offered an amendment that would have required the following: A public comment period; that any piece of legislation have maps appended to it; that those would be available in hard and electronic copies for public consumption; and that the House speaker and Senate president hold four public hearings, one in each quadrant of Ohio, before a vote is taken.
''What we heard all over the state, said time after time by witnesses, wherever we were, is that the public should be able to see the real maps and comment on them prior to a vote,'' said Letson, ranking Democrat on State Government and Elections Committee's subcommittee on redistricting.
The amendment died on the table by a vote of 58 to 34 on Sept. 13. The bill then went on to be approved 56 to 36 two days later.
Letson said he and the Democrats did open the eyes of five Republicans, who voted against the plan, panned by critics as a terrible case of gerrymandering.
But, really, it was an uphill battle for Democrats from the beginning. Republicans were able to show their strength because they held the pen. Republicans control the House and the Senate, which approved the map on Wednesday.
Senate Democrats also threw a Hail Mary in the final minutes.
State Sen. Tom Sawyer, who represents Portage County and portions of Summit County, offered an amendment Wednesday putting forth a different proposal, one that Sawyer said earlier ''illustrates how it is possible to draw a fairer map that uses the same data and follows the law.''
Sawyer used a map drawn by Illinois Republican state Rep. Mike Fortner, saying although it might not be perfect, it was ''light years ahead'' of the House-approved proposal.
Sawyer's suggestion fell to the same fate as Letson's - dead on the table.
Letson wouldn't go so far as to say it felt like he was banging his head against a wall trying to convince Republicans to slow down the process and make it open to public inspection. He also wouldn't say if he began the process optimistic that a fair proposal would be made or if Democrats would be rolled over by Republicans.
''I'm a mixture of realist and optimist. I always hope for the best and prepare for alternatives,'' Letson said.
In this instance, Letson probably was more realist than optimist, knowing because of the Democrats being the minority, they were helpless to stop a Republican steamroller.
New congressional laws are redrawn after each census to reflect changes in population. Because of Ohio's slow population growth, the state is shrinking from 18 to 16 congressional seats.
Republican Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill.
The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee has recommended the full House approve what has become known as Nitro's Law, legislation that increases the penalty for abuse of a companion animal.
The legislation, sponsored by state Reps. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown and Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, makes animal abuse knowingly committed by a kennel owner, manager or operator a fifth degree felony. It stems from a kennel in Youngstown, where Nitro, a Rottweiler and seven other dogs were found starved to death.