Investigation: Blacks, black neighborhoods most likely to be traffic stop targets in Ohio’s 3 biggest cities
By Max Londberg and Lucia Walinchus
Video by Michael Nyerges
Reporters from the nonprofit newsroom Eye on Ohio, The Cincinnati Enquirer and researchers from Stanford University’s Big Local News program examined police stops to assess how the three largest communities in Ohio use public safety resources and to identify potential bias in policing. Followed in a public park and forced to leave. Cuffed and questioned for whistling while waiting for a bus. Pulled over for spending too much time at a gas station. Some black drivers and pedestrians in Cincinnati say they’ve been unfairly stopped and questioned by police.
“It seems to be if you are a minority, you’re a target and you’re automatically doing something wrong,” said Michelle Cameron, a black resident who lives in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Westwood.
A surgical repeal of parts of the 2019 bailout law means utilities, fossil fuel interests and nuclear plants still benefit. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Utilities, fossil fuel interests and nuclear plants are still reaping advantages over clean energy in Ohio, despite last month’s repeal of part of the law at the heart of an alleged $60 million corruption scandal. A federal complaint released last July alleged an unlawful conspiracy to elect lawmakers who would favor Rep. Larry Householder as House speaker, secure passage of House Bill 6 and defend it against a referendum.
In the early months of the pandemic, Cleveland Councilwoman Jasmin Santana, who represents a West Side ward with the densest population of Latinos in the city, said health department officials reassured her that when the city released urgent health updates, they would be translated into Spanish.
It didn’t happen.
The city put out public releases, sometimes daily, as the pandemic evolved – about safety precautions, work restrictions, and how many people were infected with the virus – but the information didn’t seem to make its way to the Spanish-speaking residents in Santana’s ward, where close to 40% of residents are Hispanic.
When she pressed again, this time with city communications officials, Santana said she was told the city didn’t have resources for translation.
One high-ranking city official suggested Santana and her office should create Spanish-language versions to distribute, she said.
The reaction startled her.
“I almost didn’t know how to respond,” Santana said. “That's when I started really realizing, ‘You know what? This is a huge issue for the city.’ Who would have thought that a city with more than 300,000 residents wouldn’t be ready to have their communications translated?”
(A city spokesperson did respond to questions about what Santana was told.)
Santana’s concerns as a councilwoman were rooted in what she’d witnessed growing up in her community and later as a health outreach worker: that language and trust act as barriers to resources that can improve or save lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified pressure on a chronically underfunded public health system that already faced staggering disparities in access to medical care and health outcomes, especially for people with limited English proficiency.
But the crisis also has offered an opportunity, which some local health departments have embraced, to forge relationships and connections that could outlast the virus.
Cleveland, a city that declared racism a public health crisis almost a year ago, with officials vowing to tackle disparities and inequities, has seen some progress but it has been sluggish.
Despite a windfall in pandemic aid, Cleveland still has not beefed up its own contract tracing operations by adding bilingual staff. Instead, it has relied on the state health department for virtual assistance with Spanish-speaking residents and a language translation line.
FirstEnergy news raises questions about grid resiliency and clean energy approaches to cope with climate change. A notorious investor’s plan to acquire a significant stake in FirstEnergy voting shares has critics worried that pressure to turn quick profits could undercut the company’s duties to ratepayers and need to invest in a cleaner and more resilient grid. In its Feb. 18 earnings call, FirstEnergy revealed it had received notice of Icahn Capital’s intent to acquire between $184 million and $920 million in voting securities. The fund would have a minority voting interest, but it might be enough to sway changes in its board of directors, company management and more.
This article is from Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join their free mailing list, as this helps provide more public service reporting. For women survivors of sex trafficking struggling to make ends meet, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already desperate situation. Funding programs to support them have shifted to more urgent crisis funding— to house and feed the homeless, for example. Losing financial and food security only places these already scuffling women at an even greater risk of being trafficked again to earn money just to survive.
House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz called the law at the heart of an alleged corruption case “the best energy bill we ever passed.”
This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Documents made available last week show how House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, championed gutting Ohio’s clean energy standards in the state’s 2019 coal and nuclear bailout law. He has since served as a force against repeal. Claims in a federal complaint released in July indicate that the law was at the heart of an alleged corruption scheme involving roughly $60 million.
The order comes as newly released documents point to a larger role on legislative matters for the former utilities commission chair. This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join our free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy New Network as this helps us provide more public service reporting. An upcoming audit could reveal whether FirstEnergy improperly used ratepayer money to funnel millions of dollars to an alleged unlawful conspiracy to pass and defend the state’s coal and nuclear bailout law. The Dec.
More help is on the way, but will it be enough? This article is from Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join theirfree mailing list, as this helps provide more public service reporting. Janet Cook’s utility bills are stacking up and she doesn’t have enough money to pay them. The 62-year-old Clevelander’s main source of income is monthly Social Security disability checks.
Lots of forfeiture money goes to association outside of public purview; giving checks directly to kids
This article is from Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join their free mailing list, as this helps provide more public service reporting. When the Vinton County Fair was canceled because of the pandemic, outgoing County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown wrote $100 checks to every child who completed a 4-H project this year. She did so in the name of anti-drug education through her Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) account.
The move stoked the ire of Vinton County Auditor Cindy Waugh, who did not like the fact that Kimes-Brown gave cash directly to people right before her reelection campaign. (Though Kimes-Brown eventually lost anyway.)
The death of Breonna Taylor renewed interest in police forfeiture raids, and Eye on Ohio asked every prosecutor about their LETF accounts, the fund that benefits from seized cash. Eye on Ohio found:
This article is from Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join their free mailing list, as this helps provide more public service reporting. Amid a raging pandemic, Ohio’s agency responsible for looking out for workers’ welfare has started posting full-time temporary jobs with no benefits for its own workforce.
For example, this week the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) sought to hire an “electronic design specialist,” a job that requires a bachelor’s degree, years of experience, or some combination of both. The hours listed are full time, with a schedule that is “not negotiable” and the position is “not eligible” for benefits.
As total COVID-19 cases in the state soared to nearly 600,000 and deaths rose to almost 8,000, Eye on Ohio asked why the positions are listed without medical benefits when large employers have to give most of their workforce— even temporary workers— medical insurance eventually under the Affordable Care Act, or pay a penalty.
A spokesman for ODJFS said “Benefit eligibility under the ACA for temporary or part-time positions is determined based on the length of time employed and hours worked during that period of time.”
Eye on Ohio further inquired if the positions have a set end date and why officials listed positions with no health care as the chances of getting a debilitating disease have risen. Officials did not respond to multiple requests to comment.
Each job posting begins with, “The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ mission is to improve the well-being of Ohio's workforce and families by promoting economic self-sufficiency and ensuring the safety of Ohio's most vulnerable citizens.”
But it’s not clear if ODJFS’ own workers could be self-sufficient with its own positions: according to Heatlhcare.gov, a monthly premium for a nonsmoking family of four in Columbus is approximately $810. That’s about 24% of what an ODJFS electronic design would make after taxes.
Ohio juvenile court Judge Timothy Grendell thought coronavirus precautions were overblown, and made sure people knew it. In one case he forbade a mother from getting her children tested for COVID-19. Then, one of them had to go to the emergency room. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.