WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.11.2012
at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Anti-Fracking Roadshow Kicks Off in Cincinnati

Advocates spread concerns over dangers in Kasich's energy plan

The first in a series of nine events in cities across Ohio, culminating with a rally at the Columbus statehouse, kicks off in Cincinnati tomorrow to protest the use of fracking across the state of Ohio. The event will take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church at 103 William Howard Taft Road. It's part of the Don't Frack Ohio Spring Roadshow, a project brainstormed by 350.org, which heads a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. According to Danny Berchenko, an Ohio organizer for 350.org, the roadshow is a much-needed venue for dialogue to discuss the problems fracking in Ohio poses to people and communities, including those related to public health, climate change and even potential to cause natural disasters such as earthquakes. "Kasich's office is not doing its job to protect people or communities — we need to focus on putting people to work in safe environments and employ people in sustainable, clean energy jobs," said Berchenko. Berchenko says that Saturday's event will involve a mix of discussing the generalities of fracking, why action is necessary, and tactics and strategies for how communities can rally together to strategically protect themselves from fracking and protest Kasich's energy plan, which heavily focuses on bringing frackers to Ohio, an integral part of his economic plan. Want to know more about fracking? Watch a kid with an Irish accent explain:  
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 05.03.2012
Posted In: News at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Changes in Ohio Medicaid Coming Next January

Experts weigh pros and cons in transition

In yet another effort to save tax dollars and fill holes in the state budget, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his health care advisers will streamline the state’s Medicaid system by altering the availability to care plans and condensing care regions. There are currently 38 health plans and 10 regions in the state of Ohio, which provide services to more than 1.6 million Ohioans each year. When changes in the system are implemented January 1, 2013, the availability will condense to five statewide plans and only three geographic regions, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).  The change is billed by Kasich's office as a way to simplify the way it offers coverage, eventually making a more sustainable, efficiently run program, which will supposedly trump the short-term inconveniences caused by the switch. According to The Enquirer, Medicaid costs the state of Ohio around $4.8 billion each year — nearly one fifth of the state’s budget. Those costs continue to grow. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the new plan will also mandate higher care standards and offer financial incentives to doctors, hospitals and other providers to help improve care quality and patient health.Selected managed care organizations include: Aetna Better Health of Ohio, CareSource, Meridian Health Plan, Paramount Advantage and United Healthcare Community Plan of Ohio. Managed care organizations who lost the bid include incumbent providers Centene, AmeriGroup and Molina Healthcare, among others. According to the Wall Street Journal, the loss of business marks a blow for those providers, who have benefited from covering "dual-eligible" patients — those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. WSJ reports that dual-eligible patients are seen as a $300 billion opportunity for managed care firms. Because Ohio is pushing to start better coordinating care for dual-eligible patients, dropped insurers will likely lose a piece of that pie. Streamlining the selection of managed care organizations available should help, in turn, streamline processes for dual-eligible patients, who often encounter difficultly in coordinating coverage with both Medicaid and Medicare services, says Jim Ashmore, performance improvement section chief for Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (HCJFS).ODJFS reports that the new providers were selected using a fair, through and open application process that was “based on applicants’ past performance in coordinating care and providing high-quality health outcomes.” Although the changes are generally perceived as a positive move forward, service providers, including doctors and health centers, acknowledge that the disruption in services could cause serious confusion when recipients are forced to find new providers and obtain new Medicaid cards. In Kentucky, the three private managed care companies which provided Medicaid services to more than 500,000 patients have received an influx of care-related complaints, including inefficiency in authorizing services and payment issues.  Ashmore challenges the notion that the transition will be a bumpy one, noting patients have little to worry about: When the transition is made, everyone will likely receive an enrollment package in the mail that will outline steps to switch over new care providers.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 04.19.2012
at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Ohio's Heartbeat Bill Drawing National Attention

One of nation's harshest anti-abortion bills still stalled in Ohio Senate

"WE ARE ABOUT TO END ALMOST EVERY ABORTION IN OHIO!" proclaims the heading at heartbeatbill.com, the brainchild of the bill's most staunch supporters. That's a terrifyingly bold statement, and it's one that's not entirely true. What is true, though, is that the longtime movement by steadfast anti-abortionists to pass a bill with the power to overturn Roe v. Wade and prevent the majority of abortions within the state has grown steam and caused pro-choicers around the country to perk up and say, "Really?"If you don't know much about the bill, here are the basics: If passed, the legislation would effectively outlaw just about every abortion in Ohio. That includes no exceptions would be granted due to rape, incest or threats to the mother's health. If a heartbeat could be detected in the fetus, an abortion would be halted from moving forward. To be exact, the proposed bill, HB 125, would do three things: 1. It requires the abortionist to check to see if the unborn baby the pregnant woman is carrying has a heartbeat. Sec. 2919.19(C).2. If the child has been found to have a heartbeat, it requires the abortionist to let the mother know this. Sec. 2919.19(D)3. If the baby is found to have a detectable heartbeat, that child is protected from being killed by an elective abortion. Sec. 2919.19(E).Keep in mind that a fetus's heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks after conception; a point in time when many women won't even know they're pregnant. Heartbeat bill advocates recently ran a full-page ad in The Columbus Dispatch, which features a letter from Dr. Jack Willke, a proponent of the bill at the forefront of the movement, pleading Republican senators to bring the bill to a Senate vote. "Tell the Ohio GOP Senate to pass the strongest Heartbeat Bill now — or we will work to replace them with people who will," says the ad. A poll released by Quinnipiac University in January suggests that the issue does hold steam among a marked amount of Ohio voters; 50 percent of Ohio voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases while 44 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases. Those are fairly staggering numbers, considering Roe v. Wade has been around since 1973 protecting women's right to choose what to do with their bodies (until viability, that is — when a fetus could sustain itself outside a mother's womb). Jezebel.com just gave Cleveland, Ohio a spot on its not-so prestigious list of "The Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America." Even with the anti-abortion supporters in the minority, it's a bit terrifying that the gap is so slim. And if voters are really as evenly divided as the statistics suggest, we've got some major reform to do. "The law's bullshit and will likely be blocked from ever being enforced by a judge with some damn sense, but, like most crazy abortion laws, it's the thought that counts," says the Jezebel article. So it's true: The atmosphere regarding reproductive rights in Ohio is one that is markedly unforgiving. What does that mean for Ohio women? Right now, the bill continues to stall in the Senate, as it has for more than a year. Even if the bill should somehow go before the Senate for a vote, there's a strong likelihood it would be struck down, perhaps even weakening the pro-life movement, should a precedent further supporting Roe v. Wade be set. Still, the anti-abortion force in Ohio is one to be reckoned with, and it champions a voice that's had a pervasive presence since Roe v. Wade days. Certainly crazier legislative changes have happened; what if, by some chance, the bill was passed? Only time will tell. Faith2Action, a staunch pro-life organization driving much of the support behind the bill's passage, has organized the "Final Push" rally on May 19 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to assemble support for the bill's approval in Senate. The event will commence with a worship and prayer session, and conclude with a rally to get the Senate's attention.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 04.18.2012
Posted In: Equality, Ethics at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Kasich Office Shows Gender Wage Gap

Governor's male staffers earn 56 percent more than women

As of late, the media has been shoving it in my face that being a woman kind of sucks. Yesterday in particular was a painful reminder that aside from women's highly publicized birth control and body woes as of late, our male counterparts still earn more than $10,000 per year more the rest of us working females. April 17 was "Equal Pay Day," a holiday created to illuminate the gap between the wages of women and men, even in the 21st century. We've been "celebrating" the holiday in April since 1996 in order to signify the point in the year into which women must work (on top of the previous year) to earn what male counterparts earned in one year. Jezebel reported it best with a lovely chart illustrating all the things men can buy with the extra moolah they make (I'd pay off my student loans and then buy a modest beach bungalow on the Mediterranean. You?).  Political website plunderbund.com recently took the time to dig up some even more grim statistics — ones that bode far more ominously for anyone working under Ohio Gov. John Kasich's regime. A simple examination of public salary records found massive inequities between Kasich's male staffers and female staffers. The findings, which highlight the biweekly earnings of employees working in the governor's office, showcase that Kasich's male staffers earn a whopping 56 percent more than female staffers. The below image shows women's salaries highlighted in yellow, while men's are left blue. Granted, the positions of the people named aren't listed, but the gap exists nonetheless. "Of the 34 people listed as Governor’s office employees, only 4 of the top 17 paid staffers are women (76 percent are men). And only 4 of the bottom 17 are men (76 percent are women)," reports Plunderbund. If you compute the average salaries earned by men and women in Kasich's office, respectively, you'll find the numbers even more stark; $77,730.88 versus $49,498.52. According to the latest Census statistics, women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. If the numbers in Kasich's offices meshed up with that statistic, women working in his office should, in theory, be making about $60,000 compared to men's $77,730.88. What gives? Perhaps it has something to do with Kasich simply not wanting to employ women in high-power positions in his office, instead relegating them to lower positions; it was Kasich, after all, who famously said, "I had a woman campaign manager, I have a woman lieutenant governor, I have a woman finance chairman, and I’m married to a woman with two daughters, OK? I’ve said all along, I really wish I could get some guys around me."Either way, the gap in Kasich's office should raise some eyebrows about staffing and salary decisions by the state governor. Critics of the existing pay gap nationwide insist that it continues to triumph because of occupational and lifestyle choices (e.g., not as many women pursue high-paying, elected positions), "rigorous analysis of data by labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found that over 40 percent of the pay gap cannot be explained by such differences, concluding that 'there is evidence that…discrimination does still continue to exist.'" according to this article published by the Center for American Progress, an independent, nonpartisan educational institute.
 
 

Seelbach to Introduce Motion to Repeal Pit Bull Ban

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 11, 2012
City Councilman Chris Seelbach plans to draft a motion that will take out breed-discriminatory language targeting pit bulls and harshen punishments for negligent owners in Cincinnati. Once the motion is drafted, it will need a minimum of five signatures from other City Council members.   
by Kevin Osborne 03.30.2012
 
 
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Did Santorum Use 'N-Word'?

Some allege candidate almost made racial slur at campaign event

Some critics of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said video footage of a speech at a campaign event shows him starting to utter a racial slur while referring to President Obama, then cutting himself off mid-word.   While speaking to a group of supporters in Wisconsin on Tuesday, Santorum said, “We know what the candidate, Barack Obama, was like. The anti-war, government nig--, uh…” before stopping abruptly, then adding, “America was, uh, a source for division around the world. And that what we were doing was wrong. We needed to pull out and we needed to pull back.”   Although the uncompleted word sure sounds like it began with “nig” and what Santorum said next in the sentence didn’t flow naturally with the other words, a campaign spokesman today denied that the uncompleted word was “nigger.”   In January Santorum told a crowd of supporters in Iowa that he didn’t “want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”   Here is the clip of Tuesday’s speech. The remark causing controversy is spoken around the 34:30 mark. You can decide for yourself.
 
 
by Hannah McCartney 03.30.2012
Posted In: Human Rights at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Ohio Creates Human Trafficking Task Force

Gov. Kasich gives task force 90 days to measure ability to identify victims

“Can you tell me how a 13-year-old kid can be snatched, blackmailed, drugged, raped, in our state? In our country?”That’s the question Ohio Gov. John Kasich asked audiences Thursday before signing an executive order to create the Human Trafficking Task Force, which is intended to combat human trafficking across the state and help victims recover. “I don’t think I can think of a greater evil than what we know as the human slave trade,” said Kasich, before signing the  order. A 2010 study conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission revealed that about 1,000 American-born children are forced into sex trade in Ohio every year, while about 800 immigrants fall victim to human trafficking, either through sexual exploitation or manipulation into hard labor. Kasich’s executive order will give the task force 90 days to examine Ohio’s current ability to identify victims. The board of the task force will be comprised of representatives from youth prisons, public safety departments, state health and human services and the state Cosmetology Board (some trafficking is suspected in nail salons, which the Cosmetology Board oversees). “They’ll tell me where the holes are, but we have lot more work to do,” Kasich said. “We need everybody in America to step in on this.” Ohio is suspected to be a major player in the U.S. human trafficking industry because of its large immigrant population, proximity to Canada and growing demand for cheap labor in light of difficult economic times, according to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report. There’s currently no state funding set aside for the task force; the task will work hand-in-hand with Attorney General Mike DeWine's Human Trafficking Commission to buffer already existing efforts.
 
 

Cincinnati vs. The World 3.7.12

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Rush Limbaugh Show, the most listened to talk show in America, is suffering from an exodus of advertisers, including AOL Inc., after Limbaugh called a law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her views on contraception.  
by Hannah McCartney 03.05.2012
Posted In: Governor, Government, Ethics at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
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ACLU of Ohio Protests Privatizing State Prisons

Says it will add to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to unnecessary incarcerations

There are certain institutions in the U.S. that we don't like to think of as strictly profit-seeking endeavors. It can be difficult to swallow that (supposedly) do-good establishments like retirement homes, textbook companies and hospitals exist to bring in revenue rather than serve the needs of a community without waiver. In Ohio, one state prison is already that — a business — and others could soon follow suit.  In September of 2011, Ohio became the first state in the nation to sell a state prison facility to a private prison company when the Lake Erie Correctional Institute in Ashtabula County was sold to the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest prison operator, for $72.7 million. The idea to privatize Ohio prisons was concocted by Gov. John Kasich in an attempt to fill an $8 billion hole in Ohio's budget. The sale brought in an extra $50 million to use in balancing Ohio's prison budget.Kasich's budget strategy included an overhaul of Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, which means that private prison facility owners would actually benefit from more incarcerations. Now, CCA has made an offerto  48 U.S. states to buy and privatize state prisons. The offer, the Corrections Investment Initiative, outlines CCA's plan to spend up to $250 million on state, local and federal entities and then manage the facilities. According to the CCA's statement from Harley Lappin, Chief Corrections Officer at CCA, they're only interested in buying facilities that are willing to sign over rights of ownership to the CCA for a minimum of 20 years, and states must agree to keep the facilities at least 90 percent full. With six million Americans in the corrections system, the U.S. already has the highest rates of incarceration in the world — including per capita and in absolute terms — surpassing countries like Iran, China and Russia. CCA'S website glorifies its mission as noble; a video on the home page shows a patriotic, proudly waving flag. Text touts its strategies as forward-thinking and altruistic, noting that they are "protecting public safety, employing the best people in solid careers, rehabilitating inmates, giving back to communities, and bringing innovative security to government corrections."The ACLU of Ohio has issued a statement strongly opposing the change; it argues that privatizing state prisons will add debt to state budges, hurt public safety and lead to more unnecessary incarcerations. According to "Prisons for Profit: A Look at Prison Privatization," a report published by ACLU-Ohio, privately-run prisons only offer a short-term infusion of cash, not long-term savings. "Cost savings in privately run facilities [like those run by CCA] are achieved by cutting the pay of workers," says Mike Bricker, ACLU Director of Communications and Public Policy. Corrections officers in private facilities make significantly less and receive far less benefits than those in public facilities. This difference, he says, results in an astronomically higher turnover rate in private facilities. "When something bad happens, they leave," he says.The high turnover rate makes for a consistently less experienced staff, which means officers aren't as well-prepared when a bad situation does arise. He cites an example when cutting corners came at a high price: A CCA-run Youngstown facility that opened in 1997 brought in 1,700 violent inmates from Washington, D.C. at what was supposed to be a medium-security prison. Over the course of a year, there were 16 stabbings, two murders and six escapes; the situation became such a concern to the community that Youngstown sued CCA in 1998 and the facility was shut down. According to Brickner, the smallest incident is enough to negate the short-term revenue from privatizing prisons; when the main objective is profit, privatized prisons want to book non-violent offenders who won't be in facilities for a long period of time. That means cells become overcrowded when minor offenders could be in rehabilitation, and extremely violent detainees tend to be managed improperly. "It is inherently wrong to allow private businesses to make a profit off the incarceration of others," said Brickner in an ACLU press release. “Our state’s prison system is bloated, and private corporations have a vested financial interest to ensure our prisons remain full. If state officials have any hope of shrinking our prison population, we must implement transformative criminal justice reform policies and reject interests that grow our prison system.” Brickner suggests that concerned citizens contact their elected representatives to express their opposition to privatizing prisons. Read the ACLU's full report on privatizing prisons here.
 
 

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