If you watched Kasich’s State of the State speech on Tuesday you likely noticed, among the references to blue tongued cows and hot wives and wackadoodles from California, a short but loud outbreak of protests when the Governor discussed his plans for the expansion of fracking and fracking-related industry in the state.

While I personally may have chosen a different method for raising awareness of the dangers associated with the explosion of oil and gas exploration in the state, I have to say I did admire the enthusiasm and drive of the protesters, and I was more than a little intrigued by their message.

One person in particular caught my eye after her impassioned appeal for an end to fracking was posted on the Dispatch’s website.

Her name is Portia Boulger and she is a teacher from Ross County with over 40 year of experience in progressive, grassroots advocacy. We tracked her down and she gratefully agreed to talk to us. Our full interview with her is included below.

Since we conducted our interview, a number of right-wing blogs have reprinted a post by Jason Hart in which he implies Ms. Boulger was part of group of Occupy protesters and was transported and provided tickets to the event by State Rep. Bob Hagan as part of a big, complicated plan to interrupt the speech.

According to Ms. Boulger, the bus that carried her to Columbus was in no way associated with Representative Hagan. And neither was she. I can’t speak to the rest of Hart’s claims, but his “evidence” related Ms. Boulger is absolutely false.

Ms. Boulger did interrupt the speech. That’s much is true. And while I may not necessarily agree with her tactics, I do admire her energy and passion for a cause she so thoroughly believes in.

Portia called me earlier today and wanted to be sure that I mentioned, in a positive way, her interactions with the state troopers and the local police officers. According to Portia, the troopers inside the building, and the officers outside, we all very polite and professional.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a strong Progressive who cares deeply about my community, state, and country. I joined the SB5 protests at the statehouse in January and attended almost every one. I am a member of the 99% who is laid off due to budget cuts in Ohio. There is a positive flip side of being laid off: I turned my disappointment into putting my heart and soul into fighting the good fight for the future of our state.

  • Born and raised in Chillicothe, Ohio
  • 59 years old, married, 2 adult children, and 3 granddaughters
  • Masters in Education with reading and intervention specialist endorsements
  • Journey carpenter 1981 to 1985– locals 1255, Chillicothe, OH since merged with Portsmouth local & local 104, Dayton, OH
  • Worked to organize a union in Chillicothe in the 1970’s – Rubbermaid – now out of business and we were not successful
  • Co-founder of 2 non-profit organizations – Blue Collar Women (1980’s) & The Ross County Network For Children
  • Have been a grassroots advocate since 1960s- student, worker, women & minority rights, domestic and family violence
How did you get involved in activism and politics?

When I first voted at age 19 years, I was a young Republican but when Reagan went after the air traffic controllers, I changed to the Democratic Party. Reagan was working to gut the unions and strip minority populations of EEO rights. This was when Chief Justice Clarence Thomas was head of the EEOC. Thomas did a great job for Reagan by stalling substantiated civil rights complaints and other important work the agency was mandated to pursue.

I have always been concerned about the environment as I grew up in a mill town experiencing the pollution and horrible smells that poured out of the then Mead smokestack – now Glatfelter in Chillicothe. The soot from the stack actually ate paint off the vehicles.

There was quite a commotion for years before the Mead installed scrubbers – long ago, but I believe it happened because of EPA regulations NOT their willingness to be responsible. So, this experience, along with being raised Christian, made a lifelong impact on me as a child carrying into my adulthood. You see, I was taught that humans were given dominion over the earth and that is was our responsibility to take care of it.

I’m currently a member of the Ross County Democratic Executive Committee and I’ve been the Ross County Movement Builders Coordinator since March 2011 when the group started. I was a strong advocate in fighting against SB5/Issue 2 & HB 194. The Ross County Movement Builders took a lead role in collecting signatures in Ross County-working with AFL-CIO Shawnee & Tecumseh Labor Councils, State & Ross County Democratic Party, Organizing for America, & OEA.

I was honored for this work by receiving an invitation to the White House on December 13, 2012 for a holiday reception and a White House briefing with the Office of Public Engagement – Jon Carson, Director – and was asked to participate in the recent Ohio phone conference with Mrs. Obama – I was one who asked a question.



What made you decide to attend the speech?

I attended last year’s SOTS and wanted to hear what Kasich had to say. I wanted to be there to protest fracking and the Right to Work referendum effort.  Kasich wants to destroy the middle class and working poor in this state. He is following the Koch Brother/ALEC/Tea Party agenda and appears to be going full throttle in embracing their boilerplate legislation. He must have thought he could avoid the protesters he encountered at the 2011 SOTS. He was WRONG! He cannot keep the 99% from hearing him and he CANNOT silence us. It is our duty to educate the citizens of Ohio about his dastardly plans for Ohio.



How did you get a ticket to the speech? 

A friend of friend gave the ticket to me. I met the person for the first time on Tuesday, February 9, 2012. The person who gave me the ticket is not an elected official and has no part in any political administration. And is not an official of any union.



What was it that prompted your reaction during the speech?

When Kasich started trying discussing his support for fracking.



What did you hope to achieve by interrupting the speech?

Create awareness and garner support from the 99% and just maybe some of the 1% to DEMAND that fracking STOP NOW with hopes of building massive support within local and state government to focus on renewable energy.



What did you think, overall, of the governor’s speech?  Was there anything positive in it?

It was rambling, not a real beginning, middle, and end – no substance. His remark about his “hot wife” was over the top in being sexist. When he impersonated a person with Parkinson’s disease, I was outraged and embarrassed for the state of Ohio and myself. The medical process he spoke of “brain massage” is brain stimulation. I have a friend with Parkinson’s and he shared with me that this part of the speech insulted him. His body language is absolutely inappropriate and I couldn’t figure out why he kept mentioning Gee/OSU. I wonder…are we going to get hit with OSU going private? Gee supported SB5. When I heard him on All Sides with Ann Fisher, I knew he would get lots of future support from Kasich.

It is positive that he is focusing on the sex slave trade and the Courage Awards are a nice touch. But geez, don’t insult those you are honoring. Kasich told recipients of the Courage Awards that he didn’t want to see their medals for sale on EBay.

I was sickened when he said he was going to issue 60,000 vouchers for charter schools. It was infuriating to hear him speak of all the new job growth in Ohio as if we are not aware that it is due to the hard work of President Obama and not what he is doing. It was artificial when he acted like he was crying – a Boehner wanna be?

He tried to convince his listeners that he didn’t go to Steubenville because of the opportunity for building business for the fracking industry and anyone with common sense knows better. It mirrors the same tactics of the coal mine owners who came to small towns all over Appalachia and took advantage of poverty stricken families. Are the Pinkertons next?

One of the most mind-blowing things Kasich said was, “Hamilton, Ohio. ThyssenKrupp – big steel people. They were going to move their shock absorbers to Mexico. Not only are they not moving them because we got down there and worked with them–not only are they not moving to Mexico – they are moving people from Mexico to Hamilton, Ohio to make shock absorbers at ThyssenKrupp.” What is his reasoning and how could he possibly think any one, even the Tea Party, would support such an outlandish idea?



How do feel the governor is handling the issue of fracking in Ohio?

Kasich, just as Boehner with the Keystone pipeline, is trying to convince us fracking will produce job growth. He spoke of the billions of dollars being invested by Mark West and ballyhooed 700 temporary construction and hundreds of permanent jobs that would result. I am wondering where he got the permanent jobs number. A January 31, 2012 article on website BusinessWire, a Berrkshire Hathaway Company about MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. states: MarkWest Utica’s midstream development plans announced today are expected to result in up to 700 construction-related employment opportunities and more than 40 full-time, long-term positions with MarkWest. As MarkWest Utica develops additional midstream infrastructure in the future, construction-related and full-time, long-term job opportunities could increase significantly.”

He’s being deceptive and attempting to convince the public that he’s taking a cautious approach due to the seriousness of the earthquakes and increased awareness to environmental harm that results. Those in the know are not convinced.

Kasich is allowing Pennsylvania to truck their fracking wastewater in Ohio because Pennsylvania officials have banned it. He does NOT care about our state and is working to line the pockets of his buddies who are members of the 1% and own gas industry companies. A September 25, 2011 Columbus Dispatch article states “Roughly 55 percent of the brine injected into Ohio wells comes from “out of district,” and probably from Pennsylvania, where officials recently banned the dumping of brine in that state’s streams.”



What would you like to see done different regarding fracking, waste disposal and Ohio and gas exploration in general in Ohio?

Fracking has NO place in Ohio, the country, or the world. We MUST preserve the air, land, and water for our children, future generations, and ourselves. Fracking is NOT an option for becoming energy independent.

Fracking is a huge concern across the state, country, and world. It will devastate our land, water, and air and create huge noise pollution in the areas where drilling takes place. It is unacceptable and MUST be stopped.  We MUST focus on renewable energy and stop gambling with our lives and those of our children and future generations.