Federal regulators are watching the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants in Ohio more closely after problems with backup systems surfaced at both sites within the last year. Speaking at a meeting about the Davis-Besse plant last month, Nuclear Regulatory Commission representatives seemed satisfied that appropriate measures had been taken and said oversight would continue while FirstEnergy’s generation subsidiaries are in bankruptcy. However, some critics worry about the plants’ ongoing attitudes towards safety. “The years-long uncertainty and financial pressure on reactor operations have already had a powerful impact, and the bankruptcy proceeding has only amplified that,” said Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), a Maryland-based anti-nuclear group. Other watchdog groups agreed that safety issues should not be dismissed lightly but had more confidence in regulators to manage the risks.
An Eye On Ohio review of public records for the past 10 years, however, found a strong correlation between the amount of campaign contributions and the revenue received by law firms doing collection work for the attorney general’s office.
The most dangerous time for Cincinnati heroin addicts is not a typical party time: 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. For Columbus, it’s 6 p.m. on Thursdays, and in Akron, 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. In a few Ohio cities, online interactive databases now let anyone with a browser track the strange course of opiates, sometimes even daily, as a few jurisdictions have experimented with a new weapon in the arsenal aimed at addiction: public release of overdose data. Emergency services personnel long have used the information to reduce response times by pinpointing the areas of greatest need, but now the community can see where new hotspots are popping up. This has allowed authorities to alert the public and aid workers to more quickly target troubled areas.
Licking Valley Schools Superintendent David Hile shuddered when he saw the Facebook image of the boy with a menacing stare and a gleaming assault rifle. It was the same boy who, after threatening students, had been expelled from school for 80 days, the maximum time allowed under state law. And now, two days before the boy’s anticipated return, Hile felt powerless to stop the boy he saw as a clear threat despite all the red flags. Last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead and questions about how a killer was able to fly under the radar with such a long history of intimidation. There were numerous citizens who called in warnings about Nikolas Cruz, he had had run-ins with police over incidents when his anger exploded, he had intimidated, bullied and threatened students at the school.
We are excited to announce that the Ohio Center for Investigative Journalism will begin regularly publishing again. In January, Eye On Ohio hired Lucia Walinchus as its new Executive Director. Walinchus moved to Ohio from Oklahoma where she freelanced for the New York Times, the Journal Record, and a sister INN publication, Oklahoma Watch. Walinchus brings a wealth of business and media law knowledge as well. She previously worked as a lawyer, and still holds active licenses in Oklahoma, Virginia and New York.
Corporate lobbyists, trade groups and advocacy organizations have in recent years increasingly turned their attention to state legislatures, rather than the gridlocked federal government, to promote their agendas. In many states, the number of registered lobbyists in the statehouses far outnumber those making the laws. Nationally, special interests outnumber lawmakers by a ratio of six to one. In Ohio, there are 13 registered lobbyists for every state legislator, according to a study just published by the Center for Public Integrity in conjunction with the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Ohio ranks eighth in the lobbyist-to-legislator ratio.
Ohio lawmakers have passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. Republican Gov. John Kasich, also a presidential candidate, strongly endorses the idea and has made the issue one of his central campaign themes. Ohio is one of 27 states that have called for an amendment, and the country is nearing the point at which a constitutional convention could be called to consider it. But who’s behind the national push to balance the budget? The Center for Public Integrity, a national, non-profit investigative news organization, has analyzed the money behind the initiative, and who’s really backing the bills. National conservative groups – not organizations within individual states – are leading the charge, lobbying heavily and writing model legislation to try to get more states on board.
How local are local ballot initiatives? Not very, according to a new investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, a national, non-profit news organization. Ohioans last year were inundated with ads –costing tens of millions of dollars – in support of or opposed to a controversial ballot measure to legalize marijuana. Much of the support for the measure came from groups or individuals outside of the state. Turns out, state ballot measures across the country often are not either proposed by or promoted financially by “grassroots” citizens wanting to improve their local communities, according to CPI’s findings.
Ohio is among the nation’s leaders when it comes to the number of title loan companies with local outlets, according to recent data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C. Read the story at www.cpi.org. The Center, in a new investigation, tracked how much these high-interest lenders have donated to the campaigns of state lawmakers. In Ohio, the contributions have totaled about $158,00 since 2004, according to CPI’s study. Three major lending companies operate in Ohio. Select Management Resources, which operates under the names Loan Star, Loan Max and Midwest Title Loans, is the largest operator with over 100 locations in the state The others are Community Loans of America, which operates about 40 stores, and TMX Finance, with 24 stores.