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by German Lopez 09.28.2012
 
 
connie pillich

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio Rep. Connie Pillich, a Cincinnati Democrat, is asking the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees to explain former UC President Greg Williams’ $1.3 million severance package. Williams abruptly left UC on Aug. 21, citing personal reasons. Pillich writes in her letter, “I was disappointed to learn that the University agreed to continue paying former President Greg Williams a sum of $1.3 million over the next two years, considering the former president abruptly resigned six days before classes were to start this fall.  It is disheartening to see such a great deal of public money spent in a manner that is inconsistent with the financial realities many colleges, students, and families face in the current economy. … The University’s tuition increase of 3.5 percent this year means students and families must incur a greater financial burden at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet.  Certainly Mr. Williams’ payday will weigh on the minds of these students and parents, leaving them to wonder, ‘Does this kind of decision result in tuition and fee increases?’”

The Cincinnati Enquirer gave some insight into what happened with Williams and the UC Board of Trustees the day before Williams’ resignation. Apparently, there was no sign of conflict in the correspondence and emails revealed under the Ohio Open Records Act, but anonymous sources told The Enquirer that the relationship between Williams and the UC Board of Trustees was breaking down prior to Williams’ resignation. The Enquirer could not get information from Margaret Buchanan, the publisher and president of the newspaper that is also on the UC Board of Trustees; instead, Buchanan referred reporters to Francis Barrett, another trustee.

In-person early voting in Ohio begins Tuesday. Get ready to vote.

A nonprofit group says Mitt Romney’s health care proposals are more expensive for Ohio than Obamacare. Families USA, a left-leaning group that lobbies on health issues, says Romney’s plan would make families pay about $10,100 a year on health care — almost twice the $5,100 paid under Obamacare.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced it will not be privatizing more prisons. The announcement came less than a week after CityBeat’s in-depth story on private prisons and the many issues they face.

The state’s efforts to drive down prison recidivism rates saw some positive news. In total, the state’s recidivism rate fell by 21 percent from 2003 to 2008.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Josh Mandel, state treasurer and the Republican candidate for this year's senate race, is only doing as well as he is in polling due to $20 million in pro-Mandel spending coming from out-of-state sources. But the money doesn't seem to be helping much; Mandel is currently down by 7.5 points in aggregate polling.

To celebrate Mandel’s birthday, Ohio Democrats gave him a new pair of pants. Democrats said Mandel, who is Ohio’s treasurer and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, will need the pants after earning “more ‘Pants on Fire’ ratings from Politifact Ohio than any politician in state history.”

Cincinnati is working on rainwater harvesting codes. A task force has made progress on the issue in the past year, but Cincinnati has only had one rainwater harvesting system installed since 2009.

A new manufacturer could be bringing 60 jobs to Northern Kentucky.

Bill Ackman, an activist investor, has a few bad things to say about Procter & Gamble. The problem? The public doesn’t know what those criticisms are.

Ohio’s exotic pet owners are acting slowly in registering their pets, putting themselves at risk for jail time if they don’t register before Nov. 5.

In an interview with Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, President Barack Obama said he will go after China's unfair trading practices, but the United States will not go out of our way to embarrass China. Obama said the lighter approach typically produces better results.

The Cincinnati Reds rode their great home season to a 6 percent attendance gain.

Science says traveling into the future is technically possible, but traveling to the past “can only exist in the movies.”

Speaking of the past and science, Popular Science posted an old article published in 1961 with predictions for the future’s family cars. The article predicted invisible, self-driving cars that could travel at 1,500 mph.

 
 
by German Lopez 09.27.2012
Posted In: News, Prisons, Government at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Liberty for Sale

ODRC: No More Privatizing Ohio Prisons

State agency says Ohio will focus on lowering recidivism

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) on Tuesday said it will not seek further privatization of state prisons. The announcement was made less than a week after CityBeat published an in-depth story detailing the various problems posed by privatizing prisons (“Liberty for Sale,” issue of Sept. 19). 

Gary Mohr, director of ODRC, made the announcement while talking to legislative reporting service Gongwer in Columbus Tuesday.

We're going to stay the course on those (sentencing reforms) and I think privatizing additional prisons would take away from that reform effort that we have, so I'm not anticipating privatizing any more prisons in the short term here,” he told Gongwer.

Ohio became the first state to sell one of its own prisons to a private prison company in 2011. The ACLU criticized the move for its potential conflict of interest. The organization argued that the profit goal of private prison companies, which make money by holding as many prisoners as possible, fundamentally contradicts the public policy goal of keeping inmate reentry into prisons and prison populations as low as possible.

In his comments to Gongwer, Mohr said the state will now focus on lowering recidivism, not increasing privatization: I don't think you can go through upheaval of a system and continue to put prioritization on reform at the same time. I think if we were to re-engage again on privatization of prisons, then we're going to take the eye off the ball a little bit, and I think we're making great progress. It's a matter of focus.

In the past, the ACLU and other groups criticized Mohr's previous ties to private prison companies — particularly his private work for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) before he became the director for ODRC. CCA in 2011 became the first private company in Ohio's history to purchase a state prison. The connection presents another possible conflict of interest, and it is only one of the many connections between CCA and Gov. John Kasich's administration.

Mike Brickner, ACLU researcher and director of communications and public policy, praised ODRC's decision in a statement: “Despite millions spent by private companies trying to convince policy makers and local governments otherwise, numerous studies have shown private prisons put their own profit ahead of good public policy. ODRC is wise to see that the privatization model distracts from their important efforts to shrink inmate population and reduce recidivism.”

But Brickner also made further demands from the state: “ODRC should go a step further by making a commitment not to privatize additional prison services such as food and medical care. Arguments for privatizing these services use the same faulty logic as the arguments for privatizing entire prisons.”

CityBeat was not able to immediately reach ODRC for comment on Mohr’s announcement. This story will be updated if comments become available.

During the course of researching and reporting last week's story on prison privatization in Ohio, CityBeat found the ODRC to be dismissive of our interest in speaking with Mohr or a spokesperson about private prisons. During two weeks of correspondence, CityBeat received numerous excuses as to why the ODRC couldn't grant an interview and eventually received two emails with the exact same statement — one from ODRC, a state department, and one from Management and Training Corporation, a private company that manages prisons in Ohio. The statement added a strange twist to the already-suspicious fact that the ODRC didn't want to talk about its prison privatization plan with the media. A full explanation of the issues ODRC posed to the reporting process can be found in the editor's note at the end of the cover story.

 
 

 

 

 
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