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Ohio public-records mediation a smart move for state and its citizens: editorial
Peace at last? A new Ohio mediation option applauded by the editorial board could stop the long, costly battles over public records between citizens and state and local governments. The Ohio legislature deserves a thumbs-up for giving citizens a way to dig into public records without forcing them to dig deep into their pockets.  Under Substitute Senate Bill 321, which passed in June and goes into effect Sept. 28, citizens denied public records by a government entity in Ohio will be able to opt for a $25 mediation process through the Ohio Court of Claims instead of having to file a lawsuit and thereby forcing the government to defend itself in court. Mediation should ensure that more Ohioans are able to take advantage of the state's open records law, which is the hallmark of good, transparent government.  Mediation part of public records bill Currently, citizens denied public records have only one legal remedy: a mandamus action, or a writ, through the courts forcing the government to turn the public records over. But litigation can be a sky-high barrier for many record-seeking citizens who lack the money to hire a lawyer.  Soon, rejected citizens will be able to pay $25 to file a complaint in their county clerk's office for the Ohio Court of Claims, which will then attempt to mediate the problem. About our editorials Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer -- the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization. * Talk about the topic of this editorial in the comments below. * Send a letter to the editor, which will be considered for print publication. * Email general questions or comments about the editorial board to Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director for cleveland.com. // $('.floatingSeries').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','line-height':'20px','color':'#333333','width':'255px','margin':'10px','margin-right':'0px','float':'right','border-bottom-color':'#dadada','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'1px','padding-bottom':'2px'});$('.floatingSeries h3').css({'text-transform':'uppercase','color':'#363636','font-size':'30px','line-height':'28px','padding-bottom':'7px','border-bottom-color':'#363636','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'4px'}); $('.floatingSeries ul').css({'list-style-type':'none','list-style-position':'outside','list-style-image':'none','margin':'0px','padding':'0px'});$('.floatingSeries li').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','font-weight':'normal','color':'#333333','font-weight':'bold','line-height':'20px','border-top-width':'1px','border-top-style':'solid','border-top-color':'#cccccc','margin':'0px','margin-top':'6px','margin-bottom':'6px','padding':'0px','padding-top':'6px','padding-bottom':'4px','color':'#333333','text-decoration':'none'});$('.floatingSeries a:link').css('color','#333333');$('.floatingSeries h3').css('margin-bottom','2px'); // ]]> If mediation fails, a special master steps in and gives the Court of Claims judge an advisory opinion. The judge can then issue a legally binding decision. That ruling is appealable, but the idea is that most of these disputes will be resolved efficiently within weeks, not months, by an independent, third party. About 28 states already offer mediation as a way to resolve public-records disputes, said Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association.   Hetzel supports the new Ohio law, as does state Auditor Dave Yost and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Yost and DeWine said they will likely dismantle their programs to mediate public-records disputes. Ideally, there should be no need for mediation or lawsuits. Ohio Revised Code 149.43 has a right-thinking view of how public records should be handled: Public records (with some reasonable exceptions, such as personal information about law-enforcement personnel) should be "promptly prepared and made available for inspection ( or copying) to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours." And the requester need not even give her or his name. Despite the clarity of Ohio law, it is not unusual for some cities and villages to thumb their noses at it and refuse to turn over consultant contracts, mayor's schedules, public officials' garage-door logs and other documents on the flimsiest excuses.  If public-records mediation works as it should, it will give many citizens an opportunity to pry those records free without costly dramas. That's how it should be. Gray skies during Sunshine Week Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings just below.
8 points by The Plain Dealer | Law Dispute resolution Mediation Government Ohio Attorney General Judge Sherrod Brown George Voinovich
Ohio colleges field queries from potential ITT transfers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Some Ohio colleges are fielding queries from potential transfer students left stranded in the midst of their studies when the for-profit chain ITT Technical Institute closed its campuses. The for-profit college closed its more than 130 campuses across 38 states after the U.S. Department of Education ...
-1 points by The Washington Times | University Ohio Democratic Party U.S. state United States State Sherrod Brown George Voinovich
Cleveland 2016 Fall Festival Guide
The end of summer just means the beginning of fall festivals. Northeast Ohio has a full harvest of autumn parties and events planned.
1972 points by The Plain Dealer | Cleveland The Plain Dealer Cuyahoga River George Voinovich Cleveland Press Cleveland Cavaliers
State says releasing autopsies in Pike County killings threatens case
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is arguing that releasing the final autopsy reports in the unsolved slayings of eight people from one family would threaten the investigation. COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is arguing that releasing the final autopsy reports in the unsolved slayings of eight people from one family would threaten the investigation. A filing by DeWine's office with the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday said the reports contain information known only to investigators and the killers. At issue is a complaint by The Columbus Dispatch before the court alleging the Pike County coroner is improperly withholding the reports. The newspaper wants the court to lift an order requiring that the two sides try to settle the matter. DeWine's office says it still believes a solution could be reached that satisfies both parties. Seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family were found shot at four homes near Piketon on April 22.
-1 points by The Plain Dealer | Springfield Ohio Sherrod Brown George Voinovich Ohio Attorney General After Dark Horrorfest Ohio A-side and B-side Lieutenant Governor of Ohio
Jackson to move slowly on lead paint inspections: Darcy cartoon
Neurotoxins don't take their time to poison children like Jackson wants to take his time doing what should have been done year ago. CLEVELAND, OHIO -- While President Trump is moving quickly and aggressively to implement his plan to "Make America Great Again,"  Mayor Frank Jackson wants to make Cleveland's rental properties safe again, slowly. Jackson said the city's new plan to inspect rental properties for safety violations will be phased-in, over a five-year period, beginning this summer. The mayor argued that by moving too quickly or aggressively, the city risked displacing too many poor families and placing too much of a burden on landlords. Last week, Jackson met with reporters to discuss the plan that was prompted by the city's ongoing lead poisoning crises. The Plain Dealer's Toxic Neglect series found that less than half of the homes where children had been exposed to lead poisoning had been inspected, over a five- year period. A team of 13 inspectors were hired with money from November's tax increase.  It's hard to believe, but the new inspection team marks the city's first attempt to conduct routine rental inspections. Jackson said  the city faces a "moral dilemma" in carrying out the inspection plan. "If you're talking about a very mechanical kind of thing, you know, half of the places would be closed up.   If you're talking about it in terms of the ethical or moral thing, probably three quarters of the places would be closed up. It's the way it is."  Jackson said that's "one of the reasons why our people are taking so long is because of that -- that decision around that moral dilemma. The Plain Dealer's Rachel Dissel and Brie Zeltner reported that those closest to the issue had mixed reactions to Jackson's comments, "some saying the mayor put a finger on a problem central to improving the safety of the city housing; others arguing his off-the-cuff estimates exaggerate the problem and provide an easy excuse for delay or inaction." Dissel and Zeltner reported, "officials in Rochester (New York) said concerns similar to Jackson's were floated a decade ago when the city instituted citywide inspections for lead hazards that have since resulted in a more than 80 percent drop in the number of kids poisoned by led." A Rochester housing official told The Plain Dealer that landlords who left the market shouldn't have been in it anyway, and the rest adjusted to the enforced code standards. Cleveland Lead Safe Network representative Spencer Wells  told Dissel and Zeltner that the group would like to see legislation that sets a "lead-safe" housing standard that's more affordable than making a home "lead-free." U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development currently requires homes to be made "lead-safe" and maintained.   "Lead-safe" basically entails sealing chipping paint and painting over it  with lead-free paint.   The cost is the cost of a can a paint,brush and roller, plus the labor.   If that bare minimum isn't doable for any landlord, then they have no business being a landlord. Jackson wants to do landlords a favor by phasing in safety inspections, but he's not doing the children of Cleveland a favor by taking another five-years to fully inspect unsafe homes.   Neurotoxins don't take their time to poison children like Jackson wants to take his time doing what should have been done years ago. The mayor and the city leaders need to act with the same sense of urgency they act with on maintaining and improving the homes of the Cleveland Cavaliers , Browns and Indians.   The health of Cleveland's children should be a bigger priority than the playpens of billionaires and millionaires.
25 points by The Plain Dealer | Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers The Plain Dealer Lead Inspection George Voinovich Landlord Cleveland Press
Ohio's newest budget lacks new ideas: Thomas Suddes
Ohio Gov. John Kasich presents a new budget, but it has few new ideas to make Ohio more competitive, writes Thomas Suddes. The staff of the state Budget Office, an agency that answers to Gov. John R. Kasich, has done, as the Budget Office's staff always does, superhuman work assembling and posting the 2017-19 state budget that Kasich has proposed. Likewise, the Legislative Service Commission staff, which offers legislators nonpartisan analyses of proposed laws and budgets, will, as always, be similarly superhuman amid a General Assembly budget debate that's just begun but, if all goes as planned, should end by June 30. (The budget was introduced in bill form Wednesday as House Bill 49.) So, what follows in no way reflects on dedicated public servants. But in looking over the budget that Kasich, a Republican, is pitching, a reader sees what he or she's usually seen going back, say, 40 years: Mostly same old, same old. What's really new, as in, break-the-mold new? Except for the budgets sought by two governors, the typical answer has been, "not much." Exception One was Republican James A. Rhodes during his 1963-70 governorship. Exception Two was Democrat John J. Gilligan (1971-74). Rhodes's imprint on Ohio politics means every one of his successors has talked - that's the operative word - jobs, jobs, jobs. As for Gilligan, he did something an Ohio governor's not supposed to do. He took a very big risk. Gilligan got a (Republican-run) Ohio General Assembly to pass a state income tax. Voters repaid Gilligan by retiring him. Still, as surely as Rhodes made state government's politics what they are today, Gilligan made state government's structure what it is today. Ohioans have groused for decades about "Gilligan's income tax." But they've never repealed it. James A. Rhodes's jobs-and-progress pitch is like one of those songs you just can't get out of your head. Makes no difference if you're a Democrat or a Republican - Rhodes scored the movie. Every governor since has had to film a remake. If a would-be governor didn't, he or she would be taking a risk, and Gilligan showed where risk-taking gets you. In fairness, John Kasich is, if anything, way more interested in new ideas than most other officeholders. Kasich's "Big Data" push, which could use advanced data analysis to identify and resolve public policy problems, is one example. And Kasich has done today's and tomorrow's Ohio a tremendous public service by re-thinking health-care policy, a giant budget factor. But if Ohio likes change at all, it likes it slow, though slow doesn't help a state if the world's passing it by. In 1983, anti-tax campaigners, led by the late Thomas A. Van Meter, an iconic GOP conservative from Ashland, asked voters to repeal steep tax increases Democratic Gov. Richard F. Celeste got legislators to pass. (Voters left the taxes in place.) Amid that campaign, a Wall Street expert, with no dog in the fight, said Ohio, come what may, was in "a secular decline." That is, economic factors that had helped Ohio prosper after World War II were disappearing. One of many examples: Europe and Japan, rebuilt, hadn't needed Ohio's steel and other basics since the 1950s, at the latest. And Ohio coal production had peaked in 1970. That's why someone needs to shake Capitol Square's hammocks. Legislators repeatedly OK sweet tax-breaks to "create jobs." Yet, as Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has pointed out, 1969 was the last time Ohioans' per capita personal income equaled 100 percent or more of the U.S. average; ever since, it's been less. And now, robots, etc., mean that, down Ohio's road, there'll likely be fewer jobs to begin with, for anybody - except, that is, inside a Statehouse that always seems prepared for the past. Thomas Suddes, a member of the editorial board, writes from Athens. To reach Thomas Suddes: [email protected], 216-999-4689 Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings (in blue) just below.
4 points by The Plain Dealer | Jim Rhodes George Voinovich Dick Celeste John William Brown John J. Gilligan Ohio George W. Bush Democratic Party
Mayor questions RTA traffic and safety studies that support reopening Public Square to buses
Mayor Frank Jackson says more information needs to be collected safety and traffic studies on Public Square are not yet complete. CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Mayor Frank Jackson says the traffic and safety studies RTA had done regarding Public Square are incomplete.  The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority this morning released summaries of the traffic and safety studies that recommended reopening the square to buses.  But Mayor Jackson thinks that the release of those summaries was premature because the actual studies have not been completed to the city's standards. "We were completely surprised at the fact othat a final report was issued," Jackson said during a meeting Tuesday with The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com. "Not only have we not completed a process, we do not have a report."  The Mayor took specific issue with the safety study being completed by K & J Consulting. That study, he said, did not take into account the city's concerns about potential terrorist threats to Public Square and instead only focused on whether to not there are current terrorist threats to the square.  This story is being updated. 
194 points by The Plain Dealer | Cleveland English-language films The Plain Dealer George Voinovich Cleveland Cavaliers Town Cleveland Press Euclid Avenue
Richard Cordray's allies are encouraging him to come back to Ohio and run for governor
Cordray himself must refrain from partisan politics because of his federal job running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But one Democratic source confirmed that the new Twitter account is the work of his supporters. And State Rep. David Leland of the Columbus area, told cleveland.com Friday that he "would be happy to help" a Cordray campaign. CLEVELAND, Ohio - Richard Cordray won't talk about it. More precisely, he can't talk about it. But allies of the former Ohio attorney general are increasing their activity on his behalf with one goal in mind: Making him the Democratic frontrunner for governor in 2018. The latest sign came Friday with the launch of @RichCordrayOH on Twitter. "Hello Ohio!" reads the social media account's first message. Cordray himself must refrain from partisan politics because of his federal job running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But one Democratic source confirmed that the new Twitter account is the work of his supporters. And State Rep. David Leland of the Columbus area, told cleveland.com Friday that he "would be happy to help" a Cordray campaign. "I would strongly encourage Rich to run for governor of Ohio," said Leland, a former Ohio Democratic Party chairman. "I think far and away he would be the strongest candidate." But Leland also said he is not involved with any early Cordray efforts, which also included loyalists promoting him over the summer as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton. "I don't think there's anything official," Leland said. Related: Ohio Democrats remain in a 2018 holding pattern The future of Cordray's consumer-finance watchdog agency and his role with it is unclear after last week's election of Republican Donald Trump as president. Cordray's term as director does not expire until mid-2018, by which time it would be too late to compete in that year's gubernatorial race. But Trump might have the discretion to remove Cordray, under a recent appeals court ruling that appeared to strike at the director's independent authority. Or Cordray could choose to resign early, worried that a GOP administration would cramp his style. One thing is certain. If Cordray wants to run for governor, he needs to leave the agency soon to begin raising money and hiring a staff. Several other Democrats are eyeing the race, including Connie Pillich, a former state lawmaker from the Cincinnati area, and Boardman's Joe Schiavoni, the Democratic leader in the Ohio Senate. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of the Youngstown area is also a possibility if his challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi fails. Many Democrats believe Cordray and Ryan are the top options, with Cordray offering the strength of someone who already has won statewide (though he has lost more than he has won). Cordray's work as the finance industry's top cop also might be a selling point at a time when Democrats are eager to tap into the populist sentiment Trump rode to the White House. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's leading champion was Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Massachusetts senator who now is one of the Democratic Party's biggest stars. "This summer I was at an event with Elizabeth Warren in Columbus - a fundraising event," Leland recalled Friday. "It had absolutely nothing to do with Rich. In the middle of it, she spent five minutes talking about what a great person Rich Cordray was. It was unsolicited. "What that told me," Leland continued, "is that Rich not only has contacts in the state of Ohio to be successful, but he also has the ability to have contacts and resources outside Ohio." The Republican competition for governor - a wide-open race with Gov. John Kasich facing term limits - is shaping up to be a battle featuring Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and possibly U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth. DeWine unseated Cordray six years ago by a narrow margin.
1047 points by The Plain Dealer | Ohio Democratic Party Republican Party George W. Bush Sherrod Brown Ohio Attorney General George Voinovich Kentucky
Tests show high lead levels in water at 60 Cleveland schools
CLEVELAND (AP) - Cleveland schools say tests done this summer show high lead levels in the water at 60 of its buildings. The district said Friday that it will begin replacing 582 drinking fountains, faucets and other water fixtures that were over the federal limits. That includes removing and replacing ...
-2 points by The Washington Times | High school Cleveland The Plain Dealer Water crisis George Voinovich Water resources Cleveland Press Water supply
High lead levels in water found at 60 Cleveland schools
The district said Friday that it will begin replacing 582 drinking fountains, faucets and other water fixtures       
-2 points by The Detroit News | High school Cleveland The Plain Dealer Education Teacher Water crisis George Voinovich Water resources
Let it snow! Photos of Northeast Ohio snowfalls -- and a few storms -- over the years (vintage photos)
A vintage photo gallery featuring some of cleveland.com and the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best snow pictures. CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Winter is coming, Cleveland. The first significant snowfall of the year is expected this weekend, likely ending the period of unseasonably warm temperatures of the last several weeks. This being Northeast Ohio, we're all used to seeing that white stuff blanket the land as cold weather approaches.  Snowstorms have hit Cleveland every year for as long as anyone can remember, and cleveland.com and Cleveland Plain Dealer photographers have always been there to document them. With this year's first snowfall possibly hitting us this weekend, we thought now might be a good time to sift through our photo archives and come up with some of the best snow pictures we've printed through the years. The pictures in the gallery at the top of this post date back decades, and include blizzards and winter storms severe enough to leave motorist stranded on the highway. But the images also include the lighter side of winter, with children sledding and making snowman. Scroll through the gallery above to see some of our best vintage snow pictures.
36 points by The Plain Dealer | Cleveland Greater Cleveland Blizzard George Voinovich Cuyahoga River Cleveland Cavaliers The Plain Dealer Winter storm
Army Corps of Engineers' serially mistaken Cuyahoga River dredge approach: editorial
The Army Corps' shortsighted and economically damaging position on Cuyahoga River dredge keeps driving up taxpayer costs – this week forcing state and local officials to file a second lawsuit as part of an ongoing federal court battle, writes the editorial board. The bureaucratic mulishness of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in refusing to dredge the Cuyahoga River -- as required not just by congressional directives but also by the needs of major Cleveland employers who rely on the river for essential cargo -- must end.   The Corps' shortsighted and economically damaging position keeps driving up taxpayer costs - this week forcing Ohio and Cleveland port officials to file a second lawsuit as part of an ongoing federal court battle in Cleveland. Ohio again sues Army Corps of Engineers over dredging of Cuyahoga River shipping channel About our editorials Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer -- the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization. * Talk about the topic of this editorial in the comments below. * Send a letter to the editor, which will be considered for print publication. * Email general questions or comments about the editorial board to Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director for cleveland.com. // $('.floatingSeries').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','line-height':'20px','color':'#333333','width':'255px','margin':'10px','margin-right':'0px','float':'right','border-bottom-color':'#dadada','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'1px','padding-bottom':'2px'});$('.floatingSeries h3').css({'text-transform':'uppercase','color':'#363636','font-size':'30px','line-height':'28px','padding-bottom':'7px','border-bottom-color':'#363636','border-bottom-style':'solid','border-bottom-width':'4px'}); $('.floatingSeries ul').css({'list-style-type':'none','list-style-position':'outside','list-style-image':'none','margin':'0px','padding':'0px'});$('.floatingSeries li').css({'font-family':'arial,helvetica,sans-serif','font-size':'14px','font-weight':'normal','color':'#333333','font-weight':'bold','line-height':'20px','border-top-width':'1px','border-top-style':'solid','border-top-color':'#cccccc','margin':'0px','margin-top':'6px','margin-bottom':'6px','padding':'0px','padding-top':'6px','padding-bottom':'4px','color':'#333333','text-decoration':'none'});$('.floatingSeries a:link').css('color','#333333');$('.floatingSeries h3').css('margin-bottom','2px'); // ]]> Fortunately, U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent signaled in a Sept. 12 order that he's prepared to consolidate claims as needed to speed this case to a prompt conclusion. Good. The Corps' refusal to dredge the river already has had economic consequences. Throughout August and so far in September, ships "are light loading by nearly 20%" and "only able to fully traverse the Upper Cuyahoga Navigation Channel by plowing their keels through the shoaled sediments in portions of the Channel," the lawsuit states. So much for the Corps' assertion that low rains and and high lake levels had eliminated the need to dredge, at least so far this year. The truth is that the Corps refuses to dredge because it hasn't been able to strong-arm Ohio into allowing it to dump tainted river dredge directly into Lake Erie to save money on containing PCBs and other potentially carcinogenic toxins. "The Corps' position again forces Ohio into a Catch-22 where it must choose between two unjust options," states Monday's lawsuit: "either 1) submitting to the Corps' unlawful demand for money [to pay for safer dredge-disposal options]. . . or 2) passively accepting the severe economic distress that will befall local industry, the Port, the City of Cleveland, and the State of Ohio when the Corps allows the Cleveland Harbor to become unnavigable." This is so wrong it's shocking that the White House hasn't stepped in to overrule. March: Army Corps to Cleveland - Drop dead: editorial The river channel is "the lifeline for one of the most productive steel mills in the world and a major engine of the Cleveland and Ohio economies," said officials of ArcelorMittal USA's Cleveland steel mill last year. The Corps of Engineers has been serially wrong in threatening to throttle that lifeline to get its way on dredge disposal. If it, or its federal bosses, don't recognize that soon, the courts may -- and, we hope, will -- provide the needed course correction. Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings (in blue) just below.
87 points by The Plain Dealer | Lake Erie Akron Ohio Ohio Greater Cleveland Cuyahoga River Cuyahoga County Ohio Great Lakes George Voinovich