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Ohio Gov. Kasich links Cleveland serial killings to poverty


Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks on the new state budget at a meeting with members of local Chambers of Commerce, on July 18, in Batavia, Ohio.

By Barbara Raab, Senior Producer, NBC News
Ohio’s Governor John Kasich made some attention-getting comments this week about poverty and poor neighborhoods.

“We are seeing some of the heartbreaking results of poverty in our community today,” Kasich said, just a few miles away from the East Cleveland neighborhood where three women were found dead over the weekend.

Kasich said the murders are an example of what happens to neighborhoods hard hit by poverty.

"It’s what happens when you have individuals who are very dangerous inside of a community and somehow we lose track of them,” he said. “It’s about breakdown of neighborhoods, sometimes where we don’t always know our neighbors. There’s so much to it but poverty to me is kind of at the core of it.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich cites poverty and the "breakdown of neighborhoods" in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Cleveland women.

The best way to tackle poverty, Kasich continued, is to “give people hope by giving them a sense that they can get work.”

“That’s why I always say that jobs are the greatest moral imperative because when mom and dad are working, the family’s stronger, the marriage is better and the kids are better off,” he said.

Nearly 16.5 percent, or 1.85 million, Ohioans live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, slightly higher than the percentage of Americans overall. The poverty rate in East Cleveland is 37 percent.

Kasich’s comments, which came during an announcement about local construction projects, inspired derision among some critics in Ohio.

"The disconnect is phenomenal," said Jack Frech, the longtime director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services in Appalachian Ohio. "He is actively throwing thousands of people off cash assistance in Cleveland and elsewhere, leaving them with no cash income whatsoever. He is creating the most severe and dire living conditions for these families you can imagine."