Ohio Department of Job and Family Services tries to bolster its own workforce by posting jobs with no medical benefits in pandemic

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.

Top regulator’s exit raises questions about utility and fossil fuel influence

Critics question whether the former Ohio utility commission chair should have recused himself more often to avoid any appearance of bias. 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. Concerns about the outsized influence of utility and fossil fuel interests have resurfaced as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio begins steps to name a new commissioner after the sudden exit of Chair Sam Randazzo.  

Randazzo resigned on Nov. 20 after an FBI team had searched his home and FirstEnergy released a mandatory quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ohio’s Hospital Capacity Data in Ten Charts

Interactive: Explore Newly Released Hospital Data

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. Updated: Additional data from Nov. 21-24 released on Nov. 27.

FirstEnergy’s evasive legal responses don’t say what happened after funds from ratepayers went into a shared pool

Statements could support broad scope for PUCO-ordered audit

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. FirstEnergy’s legal papers in a regulatory case state it can’t categorically deny that money from Ohio ratepayers was spent for activities related to the state’s nuclear and coal bailout law. The limited comments could support a broad scope for an independent audit ordered by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio earlier this month. The PUCO may come under increased scrutiny in the wake of FBI agents’ Nov.

After seven month legal battle, Eye on Ohio wins public records lawsuit over hospital capacity numbers

Court of Claims Rules that the Ohio Department of Health must disclose the number of beds and other equipment available

This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. As the ongoing pandemic continues to surge, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled last week that the Department of Health must share public records with Eye on Ohio, showing the number of beds and ventilators available for COVID-19 patients at individual hospitals throughout the state. 

The ruling comes seven months after Eye on Ohio initially sought the records. 

“In times of crisis transparency is paramount,” said Rebekah Crawford, who has her Ph.D. in Health Communication, Relating & Organizing from Ohio University. People want credibility and clear lines around what is known and what is uncertain. “When risk communicators are at their best,” Crawford said, “they remain credible by showing what is known and what is not known and by being clear about why we don’t know, and what we’re going to do to find out.” 

When Eye on Ohio first requested records, at the end of March, the state had only about 2,200 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to the online Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

FirstEnergy fights against disclosing more details about alleged HB 6 bribery cases

Case filings and delay of possible nuclear bailout combine to block Ohioans from learning more before voting. 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. var divElement = document.getElementById('viz1604006918434'); var vizElement = divElement.getElementsByTagName('object')[0]; if ( divElement.offsetWidth > 800 ) { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='1007px';} else if ( divElement.offsetWidth > 500 ) { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='971px';} else { vizElement.style.width='100%';vizElement.style.height='427px';} var scriptElement = document.createElement('script'); scriptElement.src = 'https://public.tableau.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js'; vizElement.parentNode.insertBefore(scriptElement, vizElement);

Consumer advocates, industry organizations and environmental groups continue efforts to learn more about claims that FirstEnergy and current or former subsidiaries may have financed an alleged $60-million conspiracy to make sure Ohio’s nuclear bailout bill became law and withstood a referendum attempt. Yet opposition by FirstEnergy in two regulatory cases and in state court has combined with the legislative recess to prevent those groups and voters from learning more before Election Day.