From the monthly archives: June 2014

As has been much discussed, the Ohio House held a hearing last week on HB 351, which does two main things:

bans insurance coverage for hormonal birth control forces women to bear the cost of life-saving abortion care

I’ve already talked about its inherent misunderstanding of how popular methods of birth control work. What needs more attention is the monstrous treatment of women with pregnancy complications.

Contrary to the assertion of the Dispatch, HB 351 isn’t really a bill to “restrict abortion coverage”. Coverage for nontherapeutic abortion (or elective abortion) is already banned on Ohio’s exchange, […]

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When the Ohio General Assembly finally adopted changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) through House Bill 362 last week, there was one positive remnant left from the original Senate Bill 229 introduced in late 2013 that does offer school districts some relief from the time-intensive process.  With the majority of teachers in in the state being expected to receive a rating of skilled or accomplished, and with those ratings being aligned with teachers who are effectively doing their jobs by demonstrating desired classroom practices and expected student growth (according to the legislators and Ohio Department of […]

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Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s chief of staff and her administrative assistant resigned today after a record request from Plunderbund revealed that Laura Johnson and her assistant Heather Brandt had been billing the state for hours they were not working.

The Associated Press released their story about the resignation at 2:36 PM today.   The Ohio Department of Administrative Services finally released the records to us 2:40 PM, four minutes after the story was published online.

Plunderbund filed the request after receiving a tip that Johnson and Brandt had been stealing state time, working on John Kasich’s reelection campaign while being paid by the […]

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Last week the Taliban released Bowe Bergdahl, an Idaho native and sergeant in the United State Army.  He had been their prisoner for five years.  The release was negotiated by the Obama Administration in exchange for the transfer of five Taliban-associated prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, where they will be held in custody for at least another year.

Initial responses from politicians on both sides of the aisle were very positive.  Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci, for example, tweeted: “So glad to hear that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is coming home safely. He’s a true American hero”.

But it didn’t take long for […]

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There is nothing in Secretary of State Jon Husted’s clean-cut boyish appearance, demeanor and voice to suggest that he is a threat to  anybody.  Not only is he a Republican poster politician from southwestern Ohio, he also was a small-college all-American football player, which is packed with style points.

So when he stands before a microphone to assure everyone that he has made it easier to vote and harder to cheat, you want to give him the good-guy benefit of the doubt.  Even when you know that in neither case is it true..

That was his essential message to an […]

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The Ohio GOP has introduced a bill that is intended to prevent insurance coverage for IUDs (and also, monstrously, to penalize women with life-threatening pregnancy complications).

The bill’s author, Rep. John Becker, said that the bill would ban coverage for IUDs but not birth control pills. When asked how the pill form is kosher but how progestin from a suppository is the same as abortion, Rep. Becker said:

This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.

This piece, then, is an honest attempt to get Rep. Becker to change his […]

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When House Bill 362 was amended to include changes to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System and quickly passed through both the Ohio Senate and House this week, legislators trumpeted their efforts as evidence that “Columbus listened to local concerns” and districts will have flexibility to modify their implementation of the system in the 2014-2015 school year.

Not so fast…

First, let’s look at the key changes to Ohio Revised Code that were adopted in HB362:

Student Growth Measures are still legislated to be 50% of a teacher’s evaluation unless a school district elects to use […]

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Last month the Cincinnati Enquirer highlighted the growing tension between local law enforcement officials and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office over the AG’s plan to replace the local crime lab in Hamilton County with a new, state-run crime lab in Butler County.

Local law enforcement leaders and the county coroner complained that Mike DeWine had not included them in these discussions.  Emails obtained by Plunderbund confirm this account.

The emails show that county administrators and the AG’s office spent months discussing plans for a regional crime lab in Southwest Ohio without ever consulting local law enforcement, who use the crime lab every day, or the county […]

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Senate Bill 229 is officially dead.  The bill that received unanimous approval for providing local school districts greater flexibility to focus a greater proportion of a teacher’s evaluation on research-based practices vanished today in Ohio’s General Assembly so quickly that the public had absolutely no time to react or provide additional feedback on the changes.

Try to follow along…

First, the Senate Education Committee met this morning to discuss House Bill 362, a bill described when it reached the committee as “[authorizing] the STEM Committee to grant a designation of STEM school equivalent to a community school […]

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During oral arguments in front of the Ohio Supreme Court last week, lawyers for the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) claimed they couldn’t release the records we requested in 2012 from ODPS Director Tom Charles because terrorists might be able to review the documents and somehow piece together security procedures used to protect Governor Kasich.   But a review of investigation records from 2010 shows that then-Inspector General Tom Charles released many documents detailing actual procedures used by troopers protecting Governor Strickland.   This, we believe, is even more evidence that Kasich’s ODPS team is refusing to honor our request for purely political reasons.

Our Supreme […]

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In Reynoldsburg, a small suburb east of Columbus, the district and teachers have entered into negotiations on a new contract.  The proposal from the School Board displays a complete lack of understanding of the research surrounding best practices as well as the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

The Board’s proposal includes two very significant changes from traditional contracts described in a slick marketing flyer (see end of post).

First, the elimination of health coverage provided by the school district:

The Board will convert its current spending on one-size-fits-all health insurance coverage to cash payments directly to employees.

The amount of this […]

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