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News Clips June 8th, 2010

Posted by Sara Molski on June 9, 2010 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Union dues an issue in race for governor

Home health-care, child-care workers fund Strickland’s bid, critics say

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:52 AM

By Catherine Candisky and Mark Niquette


Six months after taking office, Gov. Ted Strickland signed an executive order allowing thousands of independent home health-care providers to join a labor union.

A year later, he created the same opportunity for thousands of self-employed child-care workers.

Supporters say the actions allow the state-paid workers, some of whom have been historically underpaid, to improve their pay and address work-related concerns as their counterparts in nursing homes and day-care centers can.

But some workers are not happy about joining a union, and other critics say Strickland is helping the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees collect millions of dollars in dues and fees that can be used to support the governor's re-election bid and other Democratic Party campaigns.

Patricia Griggs, a nurse from Loveland in Hamilton County, said she doesn't want union representation, nor does she want money withheld from her paycheck for union fees to be used to support candidates or causes she might oppose.

"I'm self-employed. Why do I want to be (in) a union?" Griggs asked. "The state will begin to take (union fees) out of our checks without us signing anything. ... It's stealing."

The workers provide services to low-income Ohioans and are paid through the state's Medicaid or subsidized child-care programs. As a result, Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine has suggested that taxpayers are helping to finance Strickland's re-election bid with what he calls "money laundering" because worker dues or assessments can be used for political spending.

Republicans cried foul, for example, over a recent television ad supporting Strickland because it is being funded by AFSCME and Building a Stronger Ohio, a group led by the Democratic Governors Association.

Strickland rejects such comments as "disingenuous," insisting that the executive orders he signed are good public policy, did not force anyone to join the union and were not motivated by politics.

"He believes people who work hard taking care of others have the right to collectively bargain," said spokeswoman Amanda Wurst.

Still, the governor's orders will allow Ohio Council 8 of AFSCME to collect about $2.1 million during the next year from the roughly 7,000 self-employed child-care providers.

The Service Employees International Union Local 1199, which is representing about 7,000 independent home health-care providers, could not provide its annual collection. However, the union will get 1.75 percent of the earnings of independent health-care workers who joined the union and a reduced portion from workers who have not become members.

Griggs said she will pay $12 a week. Even though she hasn't joined the SEIU, Griggs is covered by the union contract and must pay an assessment to the union.

Strickland has had strong support from both unions. According to state campaign-finance records, committees and individuals affiliated with SEIU have given Strickland nearly $162,000 since 2005, while AFSCME groups and individuals have contributed more than $119,000.

"This is the political world," said Joe Weidner, spokesman for AFSCME Ohio Council 8. "I don't see anyone getting excited when the Chamber of Commerce or manufacturers association give money to the people they endorse. The only thing that is different is we are a union."

John Russo, director of the Center for Working-Class Studies at Youngstown State University, agreed, saying, "The real issue is, you have this group of workers that have been chronically abused."

Weidner said 54 percent of self-employed child-care workers have joined the union. Members pay $25 a month in union dues, the same as the fair-share assessment paid by nonunion members.

Becky Williams, president of SEIU Local 1199, commended Strickland for taking so much political heat to give independent health-care workers the right to organize.

Both unions say they had been trying to organize workers for several years and Strickland's executive orders helped them do so. After the executive orders were signed, workers were notified by mail and given the opportunity to vote on whether to organize.

Critics say that only a small number of workers participated in elections. In the 2008 AFSCME election, for example, only 30 percent of the 8,563 eligible workers cast ballots. But 90 percent of those who voted supported joining the union.

In the 2007 SEIU election, 31 percent of the 6,724 eligible workers voted, and 84 percent of those wanted to be represented by the union.

Republicans attack attack ad

Anti-Kasich ad fails to mention Strickland voted for same legislation


Monday, June 7, 2010 07:47 PM

By Mark Niquette


A new television attack ad criticizes Republican gubernatorial nominee John Kasich because he "voted to help Wall Street banks" when he was in Congress.

But the ad doesn't mention that Gov. Ted Strickland, who also was in Congress, voted for one of the same bills that the ad criticizes Kasich for supporting.

The commercial is the second from Building a Stronger Ohio, which is led by the Democratic Governor's Association and funded by the association and the American Federation of Teachers. It started airing in the Columbus market on Friday.

The current ad, like the one that started airing last month, attacks Kasich for his ties to Wall Street as a managing director for the failed investment firm Lehman Brothers after he left Congress in 2000.

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It ends with the same line as the previous ad: "Ask John Kasich to explain how he got rich on Wall Street."

But one of the six congressional votes cited as back-up for the claim that "Kasich voted to help Wall Street banks and firms like Lehman Brothers" is the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act to deregulate the financial industry.

Both Kasich and then-U.S. Rep. Strickland voted for the bill on July 1, 1999.

"Ted Strickland's lousy record has left him and his big government union bosses no other choice but to smear John, and a closer look at their attack shows that they're not good at doing that either," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.

A spokeswoman from the Democratic Governors Association declined to comment.

In an April interview, Strickland acknowledged that he supported certain deregulation efforts in Congress but said he is not responsible for the greed that led to the collapse of the financial markets in 2008.

"I don't think anything that was done while I was a member of Congress logically led to what eventually happened," Strickland said. "I think it was greed and the manipulation and the lying and the distortion and the exaggeration of Wall Streeters that caused this economy to come to the brink of collapse."

State forfeits $525,000 for veterans


Ohio officials failed to staff program sufficiently to get federal funding

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:53 AM

By James Nash


A state program intended to help disabled veterans re-enter the work force saw its funding slashed by more than $500,000 this year because state officials fell short of a federal requirement to hire and retain vocational counselors.

The U.S. Department of Labor cut funding for Ohio's Disabled Veterans Outreach Program by $525,000 in March, the culmination of months of warnings that state officials were jeopardizing their grant by understaffing the program. The grant was reduced from $6.2million to $5.7 million.

The reduction means that Ohio - which has the nation's sixth-largest population of veterans - will continue to shortchange veterans with disabilities who are trying to transition back into civilian life, according to Terry L. Janke, a state official who had administered the program.

Janke said he was demoted earlier this year for agitating the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to fill vacancies among the dozens of counselors who are supposed to help hard-to-hire veterans get jobs in the civilian workplace.

Agency spokesman Benjamin Johnson said Janke was demoted for other reasons, which he declined to specify. Johnson said the state has been working hard to recruit counselors for the disabled veterans program.

Janke was demoted and saw his pay cut from $40 an hour to $26 on March 26, three days after he sent a "report of wrongdoing" to his superiors and three weeks after the U.S. Department of Labor informed his bosses that they were cutting the state's grant. Up to that point, Janke had been receiving favorable performance reviews, documents in his personnel file show.

Janke says he was punished for pushing his superiors to fill as many as

13 vacancies among the 72 counselors who are supposed to help veterans find jobs. An Air Force veteran himself, Janke said current state leaders, including Gov. Ted Strickland, seem indifferent to his entreaties.

"I voted for Strickland, and one of the reasons was that I thought he was a veterans advocate," Janke said. "I have to say that since I moved into this program, I have to question that belief."

In January 2010, a human-resources administrator in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services suggested that Strickland's priorities did not lie with the veterans program.

"The agency is following the governor's direction of providing benefits (unemployment compensation) to Ohioans, even if federal monies are sent back for other programs," wrote Penny Purviance, a longtime program administrator.

Johnson said the veterans program remains a priority for the administration.

"We're focused on bringing costs in line with revenues while at the same time providing the maximum level of service to the target population of disabled veterans," Johnson said.

Frank Williams, state adjutant of Disabled American Veterans of Ohio, said his organization has not received complaints from members about the Department of Job and Family Services program.

But documents released by the state under a public-records request show that Janke was not alone in his concern. His direct boss, Tom Hutter, noted in March 2009 that the state was at risk of losing grant money if it did not quickly hire counselors.

"The vet's grant is primarily a staffing grant so we are in dire need of filling these positions," Hutter wrote on March 10. "Time is of the essence for these hires."

It's not clear from records whether any of the hires actually happened, but in any case, the feds deemed the state out of compliance a year later.

Johnson said that conclusion was based on data from the summer and fall of 2009 and that the agency has since filled the vacancies. Johnson said he doesn't expect the state's grant to be reduced again.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor, Scott Allen, said state officials appear to be working diligently on restoring the program to full staffing levels.

"Strategies are being developed and researched to ensure a shorter turnaround on the filling of (disabled-veteran counselor) vacancies throughout Ohio," he said.

The Disabled Veterans Outreach Program has existed in Ohio in some form since the 1970s. It pairs eligible veterans with career counselors who assess their job skills, interests and barriers to employment and help them receive counseling and job-placement services. State officials said the program serves about 75,000 veterans a year.

As of 2008, the latest data available, 56 percent of disabled veterans in the program were able to find jobs and of those, 84 percent were able to keep them, according to documents released by the state. The veterans' average earnings were $18,615.

Those numbers are in line with the averages in other Midwestern states, according to federal data.

Janke maintains that the program has been hamstrung by an overly cumbersome hiring process and by neglect from top management at the Department of Job and Family Services and the governor's office. He said Strickland's priorities are misplaced if the governor is focusing on unemployment compensation to the detriment of helping disabled veterans find jobs.

"At the same time we are borrowing money from the federal government to pay (unemployment compensation) we are willing to send federal money back instead of using it to help people find work," Janke wrote in January.

"God help us if this ever gets to the media."


Low bidder to get dog shelter work

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:53 AM

By Barbara Carmen


Franklin County commissioners, rebuked by Ohio's top court for improperly awarding contracts, are expected to reverse course this morning and hire the cheapest electrician for the construction of a dog shelter.

That would allow construction to resume at the Northland site in about two weeks. But the $18 million animal-rescue center is now expected to open in September 2011.

"We've lost about 12 weeks," said Jim Goodenow, the county's facilities-management director.

The 51,450-square-foot building off Morse Road will replace a cramped, hard-to-clean and poorly designed 1970s shelter on Alum Creek Drive on the South Side.

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Construction stopped after Gaylor Inc. sued commissioners in March for rejecting its $1.29 million low bid and hiring Jess Howard Electric Co. Gaylor's proposal was $100,000 cheaper. But it had settled minor wage complaints with the state, which the commissioners used to disqualify its bid.

By late April, the writing was on the wall that Gaylor would prevail. Ohio Supreme Court justices, considering a similar case by a low bidder who was denied a painting job at the Huntington Park baseball stadium, ruled that commissioners had abused their authority by branding routine settlements as violations of state prevailing-wage laws.

Goodenow said a standard "termination by convenience" clause in Jess Howard's contract allowed the county to cancel it.

Rescinding the deal still will cost taxpayers.

County Administrator Don L. Brown said Jess Howard had begun work and should be compensated for expenses: "We realize they mobilized the site, and they prepared field plans," Brown said.

Those expenses are "significant," said Don Gregory, an attorney for Jess Howard. "They're very disappointed, obviously."

Gregory said he's negotiating for a "fair and equitable reimbursement."

Michael F. Copley, attorney for Gaylor, said his client looks forward to working with the county to build the shelter. He couldn't say whether Gaylor will ask the county to pay its $40,000 legal bill.

"It's up to Gaylor to make decisions on that," Copley said. "They want to get the county's confidence that they are a team player. I think they are very happy that the court process worked, and they're extremely pleased with the county's good faith."


Advocates for needy urge Medicaid extension

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:52 AM

By Catherine Candisky


With Ohio facing a projected shortfall of $8 billion in the upcoming state budget, advocates for some of Ohio's neediest citizens urged Congress yesterday to approve a six-month extension of increased federal aid for Medicaid.

Advocates say that without the help, the state could be forced to cut not only health care for poor families, but also mental-health services, assistance to the developmentally disabled and child-protective services. Also at risk are the jobs of social workers, counselors and health-care workers who provide such services.

Unlike officials in many other states who believed congressional extension of the assistance was a given, Gov. Ted Strickland did not include the money in Ohio's two-year budget that ends June30, 2011. Because Ohio did not bank on the money, it is not facing the larger-than-expected shortfalls confronting other states.

Still, advocates say that Ohio needs the proposed six-month extension, which would provide the state with a projected $760 million in federal aid.

"Reduced access and quality would be a real concern," said Jane Taylor, executive director of AARP Ohio. The organization represents older Ohioans, many of whom rely on Medicaid for home health services, assisted living and nursing-home care.

Theresa Lampl, associate director of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers, said many Medicaid-eligible Ohioans in need of mental-health services wait for services. "Without the extension, those waits will grow," Lampl said. "Uninsured and underinsured adults will find it virtually impossible to get services."

Congress increased the federal share of Medicaid costs in last year's stimulus package. Under the enhanced match, the federal government pays 73.5percent of Ohio's Medicaid costs, with the state paying the rest. Typically, the federal match is 64percent.

There had been much talk in Congress of extending the assistance, but the $24billion measure was stripped from a bill that the House passed Friday and sent to the Senate amid concerns about increasing the budget deficit.

The Senate plans to take up the measure this week.

In a letter to Ohio's congressional delegation, Strickland urged lawmakers to extend assistance while "the economy is still in recovery" to protect both services and jobs.

"This increased federal Medicaid match has allowed Ohio to maintain core services during our national recession," Strickland wrote.

Ohio OKs standards in math, English

State board adopts own science guidelines over objections

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:52 AM

By Catherine Candisky


Ohio has become the seventh state to adopt common academic standards spelling out what students should know in mathematics and English-language arts to ensure they are ready for college and a career.

The Ohio Board of Education voted unanimously at its monthly meeting yesterday in Columbus to use the grade-by-grade guidelines.

Ohio was among 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia working together for the past year to develop Common Core State Standards.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers launched the initiative, which sought to replace the patchwork of standards that vary from state to state and leave some students unprepared. The new, more cohesive standards aim to raise academic achievement.

The standards were released earlier this month, although they have been available for review in draft form for several months. Kentucky was the first state to adopt them, followed by Maryland, Hawaii, West Virginia, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

The state board also voted 16 to 1 to approve new science and social-studies standards developed by the Department of Education despite complaints that the science guidelines are weaker than the ones they will replace.

"We can talk forever; not everyone will be satisfied," said Tammy O'Brien, a board member from Akron.

Lynn Elfner of the Ohio Academy of Sciences has complained that the science standards "fall flat and are less effective than the 2002 standards because they avoid content on the nature and workings of contemporary science and are silent on technology and technological design."

For instance, Elfner noted that the term, or concept, of evolution does not appear in the standards. He said there is only a vague reference to extinct organisms, and he fears that "teachers will not be able to teach evolution, the underlying tenet of modern biology."

Stan Hefner, associate state superintendent, said it is difficult to get 100 percent agreement among academics on how the standards should be written, but he insisted that the state wants evolution taught in Ohio classrooms, and the concept will be included in model curriculum for schools to use.

Several people on the 19-member board said they would support the standards because they were confident the issues would be addressed, and if not, can be re-examined.

Last year, the General Assembly directed the board to update standards in all four curriculum areas by June30.

State educators say they plan to replace the guidelines with science and social-studies standards now being developed through the Common Core Initiative when they become available.

The standards are available at At the bottom of that home page, click on the Academic Content Standards link beneath the Educators header.


Editorial: Short takes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:2 AM

• OHIOANS HAVE until Saturday to cast a ballot to determine which of 10 Ohioans will be represented by a statue in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

About 13,000 votes have been cast so far. The nominees are abolitionist James M. Ashley, inventor Thomas Edison, Civil War general and President Ulysses S. Grant, congressman and civil-rights activist William McCulloch, athlete Jesse Owens, astronaut Judith Resnik, polio vaccine inventor Albert Sabin, abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe, suffragist Harriet Taylor Upton and, counted as one, airplane inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright. To learn more about nominees, voters can visit There, they also can download a ballot, which can be mailed to Ohio Statuary Vote, c/o Ohio Historical Society, 982 Velma Ave., Columbus, OH 43211, or e-mailed to [email protected] Ballots also are available at Ohio's 36 historic sites and museums.


Editorial: Not the time

For now, the Obama administration should focus on fixing oil spill, not blame

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 02:52 AM

As oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster smothers pelicans and dolphins and fouls the feet of beachgoers in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, the Obama administration's tough talk about criminal charges against BP is poorly timed and counterproductive.

With oil still gushing into the gulf and damage to the shoreline accelerating with each passing hour, the administration's focus should be twofold: helping find a way to shut off the oil and deploying all available resources to mitigate the damage to the coast.

Talk of punishing BP is politically expedient. Americans are outraged by the destruction and want to see something done about it. Many mistakenly believe the government can fix anything, and they're impatient to see some kind of effective response.

But capping a broken pipe a mile underwater is hard, and cleaning up the 50 million barrels or so of oil that have entered the Gulf of Mexico will be an incalculable task that will take years and may never be complete. So the administration is pandering to the outrage with promises to prosecute BP and its executives under every applicable law and to hold the company responsible for every penny of cleanup cost.

Chest-beating might satisfy the public and deflect some anger from the administration, but it doesn't help stop the spill or clean up the coast.

It is more likely to get in the way of progress. Threatening corporate and personal prosecution likely will cause BP officials to focus on saving their company and themselves from the ax. That could mean a more hesitant and defensive approach to the capping and cleanup. Cooperation with the government by BP, which is the only party with the capacity to deal with the spill, could dry up. Even within the company, officials could start looking to protect themselves rather than working with each other to find solutions.

The public is right to be furious - at any of the corporations that played a role in building and operating the doomed rig, and at a federal regulatory system that failed to establish clear accountability for enforcing rules meant to ensure the safety of offshore-oil workers and prevent disasters like the April 20 explosion that started the oil flowing.

When the well is plugged and a well-coordinated cleanup effort is going full-bore, then the government can turn its attention to the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Endangered Species Act and any other tool available to hold accountable those responsible for the disaster.

Until then, there is more urgent work to be done, even if it doesn't bring the immediate public-approval boost that can be had with strong words about punishment.

Franklin Country Republican Party's Endorsed Candidates

Posted by Sara Molski on May 18, 2010 at 10:31 PM Comments comments (7)

Franklin County Republican Candidates



2010 Franklin County Republican Party Endorsed Candidates:

*Please note that the Cap City YRs does NOT endorse any one candidate


Governor/Lt. Governor - John Kasich and Mary Taylor

U.S. Senate - Rob Portman

Attorney General - Mike DeWine

Secretary of State - Jon Husted

Treasurer - Josh Mandel


Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice - Maureen O'Connor

Ohio Supreme Court Justice - Judith Lanzinger

Ohio Supreme Court Justice - Paul Pfeifer


Franklin County Auditor - Clarence Mingo

Franklin County Commissioner - Julie Hubler


7th Congressional District - Steve Austria

12th Congressional District - Pat Tiberi

15th Congressional District - Steve Stivers


3rd Ohio Senate District - Kevin Bacon

15th Ohio Senate District - Alicia Healy


19th Ohio House District - Anne Gonzales

20th Ohio House District - Matt Carle

21st Ohio House District - Mike Duffey

22nd Ohio House District - Angel Rhodes

23rd Ohio House District - Cheryl Grossman

24th Ohio House District - Jason Rafeld

25th Ohio House District - Chris Heiberger

26th Ohio House District - Joseph Healy

27th Ohio House District - Meagan Cyrus


10th District Court of Appeals

Judge Susan Brown

Judge Judith French

Judge William Klatt

Dan Hawkins


Court of Common Pleas

Judge John Bender

Judge Kim Browne (Domestic Division)

Judge Michael Holbrook

Judge Julie Lynch

Judge Patrick Sheeran

Kim Doucher

Patrick Piccininni

News Clips week of May 17th

Posted by Sara Molski on May 18, 2010 at 9:23 PM Comments comments (0)

Public safety agency hits back on inspector general's report

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By Mark Niquette


The Ohio inspector general ignored, mischaracterized or misrepresented evidence to reach the wrong conclusion that Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor lied under oath, a report released by the agency last night says.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety issued the 26-page "white paper" as an appendix to the expected testimony from Collins-Taylor when she appears before a Senate committee this week for a confirmation hearing.

The report concludes that Inspector General Thomas P. Charles was guilty of "an apparent rush to judgment" that Collins-Taylor lied about killing a planned State Highway Patrol operation at the Governor's Residence in January to protect Gov. Ted Strickland from political embarrassment.

"It appears that the (inspector general) has not prepared a full, fair, complete and accurate report," the document says. "Instead, the report relies too heavily on opinions and unsubstantiated claims, while failing to acknowledge substantial evidence that leads to a contrary view of the facts of this case."

The report cites e-mails and testimony not cited in Charles' report that support Collins-Taylor's contention that Col. David Dicken, superintendent of the State Highway Patrol, called off the operation to stop an attempt to drop off contraband for an inmate working at the residence.

Reached late last night, Charles said he has not read the agency's report but that, "I stand by what we said."

Kilroy's 'free' communications added up to $377,713 in '09



Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By Jonathan Riskind


WASHINGTON - Taxpayer-funded mailings have long been one of the most powerful weapons in the armory of an incumbent member of Congress - and freshman Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy is taking full advantage.

The Columbus Democrat deployed $377,713 worth of taxpayer-funded communications in 2009, which now include tele-town hall meetings and automated phone calls in addition to the traditional glossy mailers touting lawmakers' accomplishments and stands on issues.

Kilroy's spending on "franking," the historical term for the taxpayer-funded congressional mailings, was higher than that of any other Ohio member of the U.S. House last year. It was the seventh highest among all House members, according to a database of House records compiled by the Gannett Washington Bureau.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., was the top spender at $470,059.

Kilroy is embroiled in a nationally watched race for the 15th District seat against Republican Steve Stivers, a rematch of a contest Kilroy narrowly won in 2008.

Rep. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek, came in second among the Ohio delegation in franking last year at $217,196.

GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, who is being challenged by Democrat Paula Brooks, a Franklin County commissioner, spent $75,459, below the House average of about $100,000. The Ohio lawmaker who spent the least was Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, at $3,500.

The House sets its own rules for the taxpayer-funded communications, and those rules grant wide latitude. One restriction: None of the taxpayer-funded communications can occur within 90 days of a primary or general election.

A typical flier sent out by Kilroy touted the $787 billion stimulus package. It stated, "Mary Jo refuses to do nothing while Ohio is suffering. Economic recovery will happen in stages, and an important first step to recovery is to take immediate action."

Kilroy, like many other lawmakers, also hosted tele-town hall meetings, during which constituents call into a telephone conference, and she sent out "robo-calls" touting her work and positions on issues.

"In my first 100 days as your representative, I've helped pass the largest tax cut in American history, put a plan in place that will create 133,000 jobs in Ohio and cover health care for more children in our state," Kilroy said in one robo-call to constituents throughout her central Ohio district.

Kilroy's office noted that her mailings gave constituents the chance to return surveys, with nearly 8,300 surveys returned.

"As a new member of Congress with a new office I want to make myself and my staff available to constituents for federal issues they need help with or have an interest in," Kilroy said in a statement. "Our proactive communications with constituents helped us to generate over 1,000 cases from people who needed help with veterans and Social Security benefits, student loans, and other issues as well as feedback on major issues like jobs, the economy, Wall Street reform and health-care reform."

A spokeswoman for Austria also said that his mailers contained surveys to which thousands of constituents responded.

A Stivers spokesman said the Republican would also use franking if elected, but maintained it would be in a more cost-effective manner and be "clearly distinct in tone and format from his campaign communication."

"There is no doubt Mary Jo Kilroy is using her taxpayer-funded status to boost her campaign through direct mail and robo-calls," John Damschroder, Stivers' spokesman, said. "The color scheme and logo on her campaign website and franked mail are the same, so her true intention is undeniably clear."

Dann said he didn't want friend hired



Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By James Nash


Former Attorney General Marc Dann said he recommended a friend and neighbor for a key position in his office, secretly hoping that the man's trouble-filled background would prevent him from being hired.

But Dann's office did end up hiring Anthony Gutierrez as general-services director and, within months, Gutierrez's scandalous behavior - drunkenness, misspending of state money, harassment of subordinates - ended up costing Dann his job.

The souring relationship between the two men, and the ultimate consequences for Dann's political career, is detailed in the transcript of a three-hour interview that Dann gave to investigators last month as they wrapped up a criminal investigation of Ohio's former top lawman.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien's office released the interview transcript late yesterday after Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider gave permission.

During the interview, Dann comes off as truculent, scrappy, remorseful and wounded - all the while adamantly denying that he committed any criminal acts.

The interview was conducted April 27, the day after Dann's estranged wife was fined $1,000 as part of a plea agreement to resolve criminal charges from her role in the scandals that plagued Dann's 17-month term.

Two weeks later, Dann himself reached a plea agreement in which he declined to contest two misdemeanor charges: one that he had failed to report thousands of dollars in outside income, and another that he allowed aides to supplement their own paychecks with money from his political accounts.

To hear Dann tell it, the former attorney general was largely detached from the machinations of his scheming subordinates - specifically Gutierrez, a friend and neighbor in suburban Youngstown, and Leo Jennings III, another longtime friend whom Dann hired as his communication director.

Dann denied that he got Gutierrez a job. In fact, the former attorney general said he forwarded Gutierrez's name to the office with the expectation that Gutierrez's problems - tax liens, a bankruptcy, a drunken-driving conviction - would keep him from working for the state.

"I never expected that (human-resources administrators) would let somebody like Tony get hired," Dann said. "But I'm a politician and so my job was to say, go apply."

After Gutierrez was hired, he had a business associate install security windows at Dann's home. Prosecutors charged Gutierrez with inflating the bill for the windows by $5,000 and using the extra money to settle a private debt. Dann's campaign account covered the entire bill. Investigators concluded that Dann should not have used political funds for security improvements at his home, but Dann was not criminally charged for that.

During his interview with prosecutors last month, Dann said he was livid to discover the Gutierrez associate - who himself was a convicted criminal - in his home installing the windows. Dann said he called Jennings in a "complete (expletive) rage" and asked Jennings to get to the bottom of the matter.

But the windows remained. And Dann said he never spoke to Gutierrez again.

During his interview, Dann also provided new details of a plane trip he took shortly after taking office in 2007 that was bankrolled by Ben Barnes, a powerhouse Democratic lobbyist from Texas. Barnes had earlier represented a company that did business with the Ohio Lottery but, in 2007, he was a lobbyist for the Houston law firm of Bailey Perrin Bailey LLC.

Dann picked the law firm for a plum case that could have netted millions of dollars: a lawsuit against three major pharmaceutical companies.

One of the criminal charges against Dann accused the former attorney general of accepting a flight on a private plane to Scottsdale, Ariz., with his family and Gutierrez's children that was paid for by Barnes. Dann was accused of failing to report the freebie on his financial-disclosure forms.

In the interview, Dann professed ignorance of the details of the trip, saying he had no idea who paid for it and didn't even know where the plane was heading.

"My schedule said to show up at the Burke Lakefront Airport," Dann said, referring to the airfield in Cleveland.



Ohioans pursue 'green' jobs with confidence

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By Dan Gearino and Joe Hallett


While business leaders and policymakers talk about the potential for "green" jobs, some Ohio workers have made a profound commitment.

They have bet everything on the idea that green energy will lead to jobs - high-wage jobs with decent benefits. Some of them walked away from established industries. Others went straight from high school or college into new fields.

These are not naive dreamers. They don't expect instant results, and they know the next few steps will not be easy. Their risks and their hopes underscore the broad scope of the state's economic transformation, and the potential harm if this change fails to live up to its potential.

"I've known for years that we have to do things that are more sustainable," said Norma True of Londonderry in Ross County.

True, 50, is a student at the Hocking College Energy Institute in Logan, one of a growing number of programs that offer training in alternative energy. She hopes to find work helping companies audit and reduce their energy use.

Few of those jobs exist, but True is betting that the field will expand dramatically in the years to come.

Last year, she took a buyout from her factory job at YSK, an auto-parts supplier in Chillicothe. In doing so, she was able to leave the auto industry on her terms as its job security and benefits continued to shrink. The buyout also gave her the money for school.

She has a special kind of faith mixed with patience, a combination that she shares with many peers who want to work in renewable energy. This is more than simply training for a job.

"The whole green-energy movement is kind of like a religion," said Ken Mayland of ClearView Economics in the Cleveland area. "People accept it as a matter of faith."

For an economist, this is a sign that workers aren't being clear-eyed in their career choices. For the workers themselves, though, this is liberating, providing them with a certainty of purpose that many people don't have.

Ned Hill, the dean of urban affairs at Cleveland State University, offers this advice: be flexible.

Workers need to "make certain that the skills they're learning are generic enough that they can have other uses," he said. "There are lots of blue-collar jobs around 'green' that may be transferable to other jobs and other industries."

The optimists' club

In northeastern Ohio, Jim Maloney is teaching a new generation about the engineering of fuel cells. His classroom, at Stark State College near North Canton, shares a building with the company where some of the students might work one day: Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems.

"The students are very optimistic about the future," Maloney said. "They want to get into this area because it's growing."

His students are a diverse group of recent high-school graduates, former manufacturing employees and college graduates who want additional training.

Maloney's background includes a few twists and turns, with stints on the engineering faculty at the University of Southern California and Duke University and several decades as a pilot of a Goodyear blimp.

Most people probably don't know what a fuel cell is, but Maloney is looking ahead to a day when the devices are in most homes and businesses. Put simply, a fuel cell generates electricity by combining a fuel - often natural gas or hydrogen - with air in an electrochemical reaction that produces almost no emissions.

With improvements in technology, researchers hope to mass-produce a model that is as small as a box of cereal and capable of providing most of the power for a household.

"You're going to be able to have your own home power-generation plant," Maloney said. Households still would be connected to the power grid, but they would be able to meet most electricity needs on their own.

One of Maloney's students, Mark Johnson, 47, is a mechanical engineer looking to broaden his training. He describes the promise of fuel cells with the enthusiasm of a kid.

"It's a very, very interesting program," he said. "You don't want to get me started talking about it."

Green in Athens

Athens has become a hub of the state's green economy because of the presence of Ohio University and the entrepreneurial ventures that came from it.

Daniel Weber, 35, graduated from OU with a degree in wildlife biology in 2004. He always envisioned a job working outdoors, among trees, plants, streams and animals, but he landed a green job in a very different environment.

His work realm is enclosed by walls and a roof and has a concrete floor, machines and laboratories. There are few occasions for a workday brush with animals.

Weber is production manager at Global Cooling in Athens, and he feels good about what he and his company are doing for the environment.

"I went to school for wildlife biology because I care about the environment, particularly the welfare of animals," Weber said. "But every aspect of protecting the environment is important to me because it impacts the health of the planet. That's why I like my job and look forward to coming to work on Monday mornings."

Global Cooling, established in 1995, provides high-performance, energy-efficient products to customers in the scientific, medical and electronics fields. The company developed cooling and freezing technology that consumes about half the energy of conventional technology without using environmentally damaging refrigerants.

In late 2008, Global Cooling began manufacturing its own products, not just licensing its intellectual property. It launched the world's first portable ultra-low-temperature freezer for various uses, including preserving stem cells, DNA and other tissue. The freezer weighs less than a third as much as the nearest competitor's and consumes a quarter of the electricity.

The company employs 23 and expects that to grow to 100.

"The reason I have this job is because my wife and I wanted to stay in this area, and there weren't any jobs in wildlife biology, so I'm happy to have a chance to be working with green technology," Weber said.

Another Athens resident, Toby Grove, 32, was a roofer before he decided to look for a job in the solar industry. He is a graduate of the Hocking College program.

Unlike many of his older colleagues, Grove never worked in manufacturing and never faced the instability brought on by the sector's decline.

He has an infectious eagerness. "I wanted to do something in alternative energy - passionately," he said.

He has found a job he loves, but students such as Norma True don't know what to expect when they graduate. They realize that the jobs might not pay as much as manufacturing jobs once did, and might be difficult to find.

But they are undeterred.

"I know it's the way," said True.



Bills would let schools tackle cyberbullying off campus

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By Jim Siegel


Democrats in the House and Senate want to move Ohio schools into modern times when it comes to dealing with the destructive problem of bullying.

Far more than just passing notes or pushing down a classmate in the hallway, bullying today has moved online and into telecommunication, where text messages or Facebook postings can reach an abundance of recipients within seconds.

"The definition of bullying has expanded with the onset of cyberbullying," said Rep. Marian Harris, D-Columbus. "We are not asking schools to be cyberpolice, but we are asking them to be alert and responsive to the situation."

Harris and Rep. Nancy Garland, D-New Albany, are jointly sponsoring a bill that would require schools to expand their bullying policies to cover incidents of cyberbullying that occur off school grounds. It also requires that schools provide anti-cyberbullying training as part of their current bullying training for school employees.

School districts have been required since 2007 to establish bullying policies. Garland said the bill would take those policies a step further to cover rapidly advancing technology.

The bill mirrors one introduced a year ago by Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo. That bill has been supported by a handful of groups, including the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management and state superintendents.

Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduju, co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center, wrote in the September 2009 edition of School Climate Matters that 15 percent to 35 percent of students have been victims of cyberbullying. Girls are just as likely, if not more likely, to be involved, and the hurtful activity tends to peak during middle-school years, grades six through eight.

The co-directors said that schools dealing with off-campus behavioral issues are in "muddy legal water," but some courts have upheld the discipline if schools can show the behavior substantially disrupts learning or interferes with school discipline.

"Cyberbullying can range from minor incidents to devastating harm," said Carolyn Givens, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, in a presentation to a Senate committee. "Cyberbullying may be more harmful than in-person bullying because it can happen 24/7, it can be very public and bullies can be anonymous."

Eighteen other states reportedly have passed similar legislation.



Cordray wanted Dann's job


Richard Cordray, ever the opportunist, smelled blood.

It was the summer of 2007 and then-Attorney General Marc Dann was just a few months into his term. But Dann was failing as Ohio's top lawman, and press accounts were beginning to detail his blunders.

Cordray, a fellow Democrat and the state treasurer at the time, was preparing to take on Dann for his job in the 2010 Democratic primary, Dann said in an interview he granted to investigators April 27 as part of the criminal investigation of the former attorney general. Dann disclosed Cordray's aspirations while discussing his own political operation, which got Dann into legal trouble.

Dann said he worked assiduously to lock down support from Democrats and law-enforcement officials to deter Cordray from challenging him.

Dann said his political operation was focused on "building friendships and relationships so that if I were to have a primary challenge in 2010, ... I would be able to call in those chips and Rich wouldn't be able to run against me."

Cordray never had to. Dann imploded in an office scandal in 2008, and within months, Cordray was elected to replace him. Cordray now is running for his first full term as attorney general.

Ironically, Cordray's Republican opponent for the job, Mike DeWine, is trying to link Dann and Cordray as friends and political allies. But the interview transcripts clearly show that Dann viewed Cordray as a potential rival.

Charter schools rebel in suit



Ten take on for-profit management firm’s lack of open finances

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

By Catherine Candisky


A group of tax-funded charter schools is challenging the authority of Ohio's largest for-profit school-management company.

In a lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court yesterday, the schools say that White Hat Management, the Akron-based firm of generous Republican donor David L. Brennan, "wields total, unchecked and unconstitutional control over its client charter schools and their funding."

The schools are seeking to void or renegotiate their contracts with White Hat and block the firm from seizing computers, textbooks and other school equipment.

Under management agreements with its schools, White Hat receives 95 percent of state funds allocated to the schools and, in turn, handles school operations, including payroll, facilities and purchases of equipment and supplies. It also has the sole power to hire and fire school administrators and teachers.

The 10 schools - Hope Academies and Life Skills Centers in Cleveland and Akron - say that White Hat has refused to provide them with an accounting of how the money was spent, making it impossible for the schools' governing bodies to evaluate the schools' financial situations or the company's performance.

The schools' management agreements with White Hat expire June30.

"Charter schools were created to free children trapped in failing public schools and give parents a desperately needed educational option," said April Hart, school legal counsel.

"The governing boards of Hope Academies and Life Skills are community members who seek to ensure that state and federal dollars directly benefit the students. White Hat Management is a for-profit company. Its interest in making a profit often conflicts with the schools' goal to educate and show student progress. There are no real rules in place to make White Hat fully account for the nonprofit dollars they receive to manage Ohio charters. It's the big elephant in the room that seems to slip by the legislature every year."

The lawsuit also seeks a declaration that the 2006 state law granting White Hat its authority is unconstitutional, arguing that it was approved by a Republican-controlled General Assembly with which Brennan, a millionaire, had "considerable clout."

The law allows management companies to oust a school board if the board terminates or fails to renew management contracts. It also gives the companies authority to seize school property, the schools say.

Neither Brennan nor his representative in Columbus returned phone messages seeking comment. A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, also named as a defendant in the case, declined to comment.

Questions have long been raised about how much White Hat profits from its management of the tax-funded, privately operated charter schools. A Dispatch series in 2006 found that Brennan's company was making nearly $1 million for each charter school it operated. At that time, 17 of his 34 schools earned White Hat $15.4 million in combined profits and management fees.

Ohio taxpayers spent $646 million last year financing about 320 charter schools.

White Hat now manages 31 charter schools across the state, including in Columbus. It oversees 19 others in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Total enrollment is 38,000.



Ohioans played pivotal role in nomination of Lincoln

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 2:51 AM

Abraham Lincoln won the Republican nomination for president 150 years ago today.

An Ohio-educated political operator and a Buckeye lawyer with a loud voice helped him secure the prize.

Without them, history might have been different, says Peter W. Dickson, a historian and an alumnus of Kenyon College in Gambier.

Because Lincoln is an icon, we forget that in 1860 he was a former Illinois congressman who was a long shot to upset Sen. William Seward of New York for the nomination, Dickson says.

Backroom dealing, a well-spoken sentence and counterfeit tickets helped put Lincoln over the top at the convention in Chicago.

Dickson, a former CIA analyst who lives in Arlington, Va., explores the maneuvers that lifted Lincoln to victory, along with his Kenyon connections, in his book, Old Kenyon & Lincoln's Kenyon Men.

Among the maneuvers:

• Campaign manager David Davis, a Kenyon graduate who served as a judge in Lincoln's home state of Illinois, tirelessly wooed the Pennsylvania and Indiana delegations.

"Until he was nearly dead with fatigue," one account said.

Davis thought he could secure Pennsylvania votes by offering a cabinet post to a rival, Pennsylvania Sen. Simon Cameron.

"Make no deals that bind me," Lincoln telegraphed in response.

Davis went ahead anyway, saying, "Lincoln ain't here." (Candidates didn't attend conventions back then.)

• Lincoln's men arranged the convention-hall seating so that Seward's supporters were hemmed in. They couldn't get to the wavering Pennsylvanians, who had been strategically seated next to the pro-Lincoln delegation from Illinois.

• Lincoln's operatives printed counterfeit tickets that enabled thousands of Illinois supporters to pack the hall on May 18 and supply the all-important lung power that demonstrated the candidate's strength.

That lung power reached its crescendo after Columbus Delano, an Ohio lawyer from Mount Vernon and a Kenyon trustee, delivered a one-sentence speech to second Lincoln's nomination: "I desire to second the nomination of a man who can split rails and maul Democrats - Abraham Lincoln."

A Cincinnati newspaper compared the resulting din to "all the hogs ever slaughtered in Cincinnati giving their death squeals together."

(For a comprehensive look at the convention, Dickson recommends The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds To Win the 1860 Republican Nomination by Gary Ecelbarger.)

Davis went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1862. Delano served as President Grant's secretary of the interior.

And we all know what became of the candidate they helped nominate 150 years ago today.