July 2007 Archive

Sorry, no posts today due to real work intervening. Why not add something to the OhioWiki instead? OhioWiki needs editors!

Don’t sleep on train tracks.

I, doctor

Robot hospital:

In just a few weeks, stroke patients who are taken to Mount Carmel East Hospital may be treated by a doctor located miles away. At the same time, that doctor will be bedside — all thanks to a robot….

If the doctor is out of the hospital when a patient arrives, the robot goes into action.

From a remote location, the doctor flips open a laptop and guides the robot to the patient’s bed. The doctor then sees the patient through a camera attached to the screen.

“Actually, they’re really not talking to the robot,” said Dr. Mark Hackman, vice president for Medical Affairs at Mount Carmel East. “They’re talking to the physician. The robot is just a tool. I’d say it’s a pretty revolutionary change.”

They call that sort of thing telepresence. I see some potential for stuff to go wrong with this. It would give new meaning to the phrase “blue screen of death.”

Farmer welfare passes House

The US House passed a $42 billion dollar welfare package for farmers on Friday. Dave Harding at Progress Ohio covers it- is he supposed to be proud that Democrats favored this? I don’t get it. There are some heros though:

[Passage of the bill] came after Democrats quashed a rebellion from one of their own, Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., who teamed with conservative GOP budget hawks and urban and suburban Democrats on an amendment to wean farmers from government payments. It would have imposed stricter income limits on farmers, barring subsidies to those making an average of $250,000 or more annually, and would have steered more money to conservation, nutrition, specialty crop and rural development programs….

“I had high hopes that this Congress — given market conditions and our commitment to a new direction for this country — would have the stomach to reform these outdated and unfair policies,” Kind said in a statement.

What are those billions for? Here’s one thing it does:

…leaves in place — and in some cases increases — subsidies to producers of major crops such as corn and soybeans at a time of record-high prices.

Nice. The Senate will work on their end of it in September.

Meh.

Less terrorism aid from the feds

Joe Hallet on the federal funds Columbus receives:

[Former official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Matt A.] Mayer said Columbus should be in the top half of cities eligible for terrorism funds because it is the nation’s 15th largest city, has America’s biggest university and the fifth-busiest zoo, is home to several Fortune 500 companies and large shopping centers and has critical infrastructure such as power plants, dams, rail lines and airports.

Columbus has been one of the busiest areas in the US as far as terrorism goes:

[Christopher] Paul, who grew up in Worthington, is awaiting trial, accused of helping train terrorists for attacks on America. Former Columbus truck driver Iyman Faris is serving a 20-year prison term for scouting the Brooklyn Bridge for al-Qaida. And Nuradin Abdi of Columbus, a Somali immigrant, is scheduled for trial Aug. 7 on charges involving a plot to bomb an unspecified Columbus-area shopping mall.

With allegations of three al-Qaida-related plots in its backyard, Columbus would seem primed for steep increases in terrorism funds. The opposite has occurred: The city received $4.7 million this year, nearly $3 million less than it got in 2004, the first year funds were available.

You’ll recall that major cities like New York complained that other places were getting too much money. I guess they fixed that.

Spinning the State Auditor’s report

Buckeye State Blog is reporting that $20M was misspent under Ohio’s charter school program. This is either spin or a misunderstanding of the Ohio Auditor of State’s report. Here’s BSB:

Doc Wood, BSB’s resident education expert, has some bad news for us. The Ohio Department of Education misspent $20+ million through problems with charter school’s/accountability. For comparison’s sake, the whole intern blunder cost us $2.2 mil. Wonder if the Republicans will be debating this one? -Jerid

It should not have been any surprise to read that Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor found that our own Ohio Department of Education mis-spent over $20,000,000 in the Community School program. These schools, also known as charter schools, were the focus of much of the debate around Governor Ted’s budget this past spring. While the Governor wanted to put the program on hold (and end payments to ‘for profit’ charters) while issues like this were straightened out, the General Assembly charged ahead and funded the program without any new controls.

The audit report doesn’t actually conclude that the money was misspent, but rather that the proper oversight wasn’t in place to insure that the money, all of which was federal grants, wasn’t misspent. Apparently, the state had rules in place that said that only schools spending over half a mil in federal funds had to file certain reports, but that schools spending less than that accounted for the majority of the money. From the 2006 state audit report (pdf, real page 189):

During SFY 2006, EDU disbursed $20.8 million in Federal Charter Schools grant funds to qualified charter schools in the form of start-up (planning and design) and implementation sub-grants. EDU’s Office of Community Schools (OCS) is responsible for monitoring the use of the Federal Charter Schools funds by the charter schools. However, during the majority of SFY 2006, OCS did not have an effective system in place to determine whether subrecipients were using these Federal funds in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

As in previous years the Department has a number of potential monitoring tools in place such as required site visit reports and other monitoring procedures performed by charter school sponsors, reviews of Annual Performance Reviews (APRs) and Final Expenditure Reports (FERs), and the monitoring of A-133 audits performed on the schools. However, these tools either were not used effectively or did not provide for adequate subrecipient monitoring during SFY 2006.

OCS did not have procedures in place to ensure that charter school sponsors were performing their required compliance monitoring. Furthermore, the majority of these schools did not expend $500,000 or more in Federal money during SFY 2005, and therefore were not required to have an A-133 audit. Of the 137 charter school subrecipients that received funding during SFY 2006, only three were required to have an A-133 audit for SFY 2005, and none of these three were submitted to EDU until after SFY 2006. Finally, while the APRs and FERs do address these Federal funds, they do not provide a level of detail which would allow the Department to determine whether subrecipients are complying with applicable Federal regulations.

This is a problem obviously, and one that is being resolved. But lack of oversight of the money is quite a different thing from saying that it’s known that the money was misspent. It’s no doubt that some of it was misspent, statistically speaking, but I think quite unlikely that anything approaching most of it was.

As BSB mentioned, this problem was the one Gov. Ted Strickland used in an attempt to trash the whole program, certainly a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The better solution is to fix the oversight problems.

NBC4i also covers this, and they get the story right:

Improper accounting practices led the state to overpay Medicaid providers $13 million last year and made it impossible to know whether $20 million in state payouts to charter schools was being properly handled, according to a state audit released Thursday.

In all, state Auditor Mary Taylor questioned $36 million in spending at six state agencies last year, most at the departments of Education and of Job and Family Services.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for BSB’s post on the $13 million in questioned expenditures “related to the Medicaid Cluster and State Children’s Insurance Program.”

Jeff at Urban In-Fill looks at the little-known second Parsons Avenue Kroger parking lot.

New immigrants need not apply?

The AP has this story on a proposal that Columbus cabbies should have had a US license for 5 years rather than the current 6 months:

The Independent Taxicab Association of Columbus, which represents mostly foreign-born drivers, says about 530 of the group’s 700 drivers would lose their jobs under the proposal.

A committee of city, community and business officials recommended the requirement to make the capital city a more cab-friendly town….

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says the proposal is somewhere between ill-advised and illegal.

I have to side with the ACLU on this one. If having a driver’s license is not a sufficient guarantor of good drivers, then increase the licensing requirements. Discriminating against recent immigrants isn’t the way to go.

Walker Evans is looking for input into the YP Commission “Convince” Subcommittee that he’s a member of.

Chiquita’s terrorist pay-offs and the Ohio media

Bill Sloat on Chiquita’s payoffs to a terrorist group in Colombia and the failure of Ohio media to cover the Cincinnati-based company:

Ohio’s newspapers seem to have been stricken with sleeping sickness. Or maybe they have lost consciousness. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn. What else could explain how the Los Angeles Times dug up a story about a $4.5 billion Oho corporation that seems to have been treated leniently by the Bush Administration in a case involving pay-offs to terrorists.

Big Fruit of course has a long and sordid history in Latin America. The fickle nature of the Ohio news media in what they choose to cover and what they choose to ignore has come up before.

A recent email pointed out a site that I wasn’t aware of before: Campaigns & Elections, which has an Ohio section. A couple of recent articles focus on Ohio Democratic blogs and conservative blogs. The site allows subscribing by email, but not by feed, which is so 2002.

Lots of posts about Sherrod Brown being named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill by The Hill. But Nancy Pelosi is number 4 on that list, so a huge grain of salt is certainly warranted here.

No light rail for Columbus

Light rail for Columbus is officially off the table for now. (Note: this does not refer to the city’s streetcar project.) From ThisWeek:

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has officially removed the proposed light rail transit plan from its Fiscally Balanced Transportation Plan and placed the concept on the commission’s “wish list.”

Ahmad Al-Akhras, assistant director of transportation, recently told the group’s policy committee that MORPC will continue to monitor conditions for the proposed light rail transit corridor and federal policy, but the project cannot move forward without federal support and approval.

The project doesn’t meet federal guidelines for subsidies, so it’s a no-go.

Ahmad Al-Akhras, by the way, is a defender of accused terrorist Christopher Paul, is one of Mayor Coleman’s closest associates, and is vice chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations which has several former leaders convicted of terrorism-related charges and which is linked to the terrorist group HAMAS.

UPDATE: Blue Bexley has a good post on why Columbus doesn’t qualify for federal funds (and incidentally channels the Smiths). Bottom line: per dollar, the project doesn’t reduce transit times from current levels nearly enough.

1840’s Columbus

Ed Lentz at ThisWeek has a cool column on the Columbus social scene of the 1840’s.

Columbus is a created city, created in a special place for a special purpose - to be the center of things for the people and state of Ohio. Since 1812, it has been just that.

In 1900, a local writer named Alice Faye Potter wrote a short article describing what the social life of the capital city was like in the 1840s. It is worth recalling as a reminder of a world that used to be in the capital city.

Read about the Parsons, the Deshlers, and Dr. Goodale. Abraham Lincoln makes a cameo.

The Feed

Eastland Mall for sale with Glimcher setting June auction

Glimcher Realty Trust has put Eastland Mall on the market with an auction scheduled for June. The national Cushman & Wakefield brokerage has set a....

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Apr 24, 2014 11:15 am

Berger Health takes 1st steps toward partnership with larger hospital syste

Berger Health System has asked larger Central Ohio health systems for partnership proposals such as joining specialty networks or shared purchasing....

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Apr 24, 2014 10:34 am

Cardinal Energy selling Ohio and California holdings to focus on Texas

A Dublin-based oil and gas producer is selling all of its Ohio and California assets so it can focus exclusively on Texas. Cardinal Energy Group....

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Apr 24, 2014 10:28 am

Dish Deathmatch: Chicken and Waffles Edition

Friends, it’s apples and oranges. Two new chicken and waffle offerings have hit the Columbus dining scene. Locally based White Castle has....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 24, 2014 9:20 am

2Checkout raises $60M from VC firms for expansion in Columbus, Ireland

2Checkout.com Inc. said Thursday it has closed the final phase of a $60 million investment led by venture capital firms Chicago Growth Partners and....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 24, 2014 8:56 am

Morning Roundup: Koch Brothers against Columbus Zoo levy, Wendy's testi

Americans for Prosperity urging no vote on Columbus Zoo levy, Wendy's testing pulled-pork barbecue sandwich, Ohio putting $88.5 million into state....

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Apr 24, 2014 7:38 am

Jack Nicklaus: Golf has 3 problems

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Apr 24, 2014 7:28 am

Monday’s a Drag: Queens and Wine

Monday evening was the second night of Alternative Fashion Week with Monday’s a Drag, which took place at Camelot Cellars in the Short North.....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 24, 2014 7:00 am

Uber Expanding Short North Offices

Uber officially launched in Columbus back in October, and the ride-sharing app-based transportation service is ready to expand. Their local team, led....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 24, 2014 7:00 am

Event Showcases Ideas for Future of Transit in Columbus

If the ideas presented at Seventh Son Brewing Company Tuesday night are any indication, young professionals in Columbus are dreaming big about the....

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Apr 24, 2014 7:00 am

Blue Jackets Win Game Four to Even Series

In what may be the biggest win in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets battled back from an early deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in....

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Apr 23, 2014 9:26 pm

Ohio State wins trademark case against T-shirt maker Skreened

Ohio State University has prevailed in a trademark dispute with Columbus-based T-shirt maker Skreened. U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost ruled....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 4:49 pm

First Defiance bullish on Columbus market despite merger termination with F

First Defiance Financial Corp. will continue building its brand in Central Ohio despite the termination of a merger with First Community Bank,....

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Apr 23, 2014 4:46 pm

Global library confab will 'Make it Columbus' after OSU, Columbus l

The region’s heavy hitters in the world of libraries have helped lure the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ 2016....

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Apr 23, 2014 4:11 pm

Freshbox Catering Opening Downtown Café

Freshbox Catering announced this afternoon that the business would be expanding to the realm of brick-and-mortar retail business with the launch of a....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 23, 2014 3:42 pm

Rickenbacker lands new weekly cargo flights from Amerijet International

Rickenbacker International Airport will serve as a cargo hub for Amerijet International Inc. in what airport officials tout as a major victory for....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 2:26 pm

Honda sets world-wide production record with 4.4M vehicles

Honda Motor Co. made more cars than ever over the past year. The Japanese automaker set a company record for worldwide production with 4.4 million....

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Apr 23, 2014 1:56 pm

Cardinal Energy raising $5M in private offering

Dublin-based oil and gas producer Cardinal Energy Group Inc. has raised $3.5 million in a private offering of convertible notes. It says it has....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 1:47 pm

King Business Interiors opening downtown showroom at 175 on the Park

King Business Interiors plans to establish a toehold downtown this summer. The furniture retailer signed a lease for 3,100 square feet on the ground....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 1:25 pm

TEDxColumbus Relocates to Capitol Theatre in 2014

The sixth annual TEDxColumbus event will take place on November 7th from noon to 6pm in a brand new venue: The Capitol Theatre in the Riffe Center. A....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 23, 2014 1:12 pm

Adena Health to market Adena Care health insurance to southeast Ohio employ

Adena Health System is getting into the insurance business. The Chillicothe-based system created an insurance subsidiary last year to bring....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 12:51 pm

Top of the List: Central Ohio’s biggest office leases

The biggest office lease in 2013 involved a global company that’s moving hundreds of workers into a suburban market in a deal that will bring....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 12:45 pm

CCS: Cleaning House or Sweeping Under the Rug?

Last summer, the local newspaper headlines read, “New Columbus schools chief says he’s cleaning house”. At the time, Dr. Dan Good had just....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 23, 2014 11:50 am

2Checkout names ZestFinance co-founder Shawn Budde as CEO

2Checkout.com Inc. on Wednesday announced its new CEO is Shawn Budde, a credit industry veteran who most recently was president of credit-scoring....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 11:18 am

Pennsylvania regulators delay hearing on FirstEnergy’s polar vortex surch

Pennsylvania regulators have delayed an order to investigate FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.’s polar vortex charge until next month. The Public....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 11:06 am

Columbus librarians to test program promoting financial literacy

Feel comfortable going to the library to research your finances? You ought to, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency is rolling....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 10:35 am

Power plant using natural gas set to replace closing AEP coal-fired plant

A West Virginia power company plans to build a natural-gas-fired plant across the Ohio River to replace some output from a coal-fired plant AEP is....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 10:11 am

Gulfport Energy promotes Ohio COO to corporate post

Gulfport Energy Corp. has removed the “interim” tag from acting CEO Michael Moore and promoted Ohio-division chief operating officer J. Ross....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 9:37 am

Moss and Bark Opening Downtown on Main Street

After sitting empty for the past eight years, the building that housed Ray Johnson’s Fish Market at 113 East Main Street will get a new lease....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 23, 2014 8:33 am

Drauma: Alternative Fashion Week Kicks Off

Alternative Fashion Week kicked off with a bang Saturday evening, presenting its opening runway show at Drauma. The Bluestone was alive with light....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 23, 2014 8:06 am

Morning Roundup: Columbus invited to bid for DNC, Tressel makes the cut at

The Democrats want to hear Columbus' interest in their convention, Jim Tressel in the final three for University of Akron president, White Castle....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 23, 2014 6:55 am

Eartha working with Rain Brothers at shared Franklinton HQ

When food composting startup Eartha Ltd. found available space at the Rain Brothers LLC headquarters in Franklinton, the combination was just....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 4:21 pm

Nada was no-brainer for Arena District developer Nationwide Realty

How long did it take Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd. to decide it wanted Nada in the Arena District? “I don’t even think we made it through....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 4:12 pm

‘Shark Tank’ to fish for pitches at Black Enterprise conference in Colu

Media company Black Enterprise is bringing its national  2014 Entrepreneurs Conference & Expo to Columbus for a second year based on positive....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 1:33 pm

AEP expects demand to fall 16% through 2024

American Electric Power Company Inc. expects electric consumption over the next decade to fall 16 percent in Ohio from 2011 levels. Federal and....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 1:26 pm

Dog care boutique for downtown gets OK despite residents’ objections

The Downtown Commission has approved a dog day care and boarding business at 113 E. Main St. in Columbus, following a 75-minute-long hearing that....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 1:24 pm

Peoples Bancorp buying another Ohio bank to fill out along I-77

Peoples Bancorp Inc. isn’t waiting long to expand in Ohio. Weeks after agreeing to acquire a bank with roots in Coshocton, the Marietta-based....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 1:20 pm

LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria Expanding from Cincinnati to Dublin

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Cincinnati-to-Columbus restaurant expansion news, another business has announced plans to enter the Central....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 22, 2014 11:49 am

Central Ohio home sales drop sharply in March

Sales of existing homes in the Columbus region and statewide took a punch in March. Central Ohio home sales fell 10.5 percent as the  statewide....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 10:59 am

Magnum Hunter ditching Canada to concentrate on Utica and Marcellus shale

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. (NYSE:MHR) is ditching its Canadian oil and gas operations to focus on its core assets in the Utica and Marcellus....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 10:41 am

Exxon CEO drops out of fracking water tower lawsuit

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) CEO Rex Tillerson has  dropped out of a lawsuit against a proposed fracking water tower, a few months after....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 10:30 am

First Community Bank and First Defiance call off merger

The family that owns First Community Bank  won’t be handing it off as expected. The Columbus-based bank and First Defiance Financial Corp. called....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 10:08 am

LaRosa’s coming to Central Ohio with Dublin pizzeria

The LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria family now includes Central Ohio. The 60-year-old Cincinnati staple has secured Brandon Salamone as its first area....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 9:22 am

Morning Roundup: Jackets lose late, AT&T adding ultra-high-speed Internet,

Blue Jackets thrive on excitement but still lose, AT&T bringing ultra-high-speed Internet service to northeast Ohio, Direct Energy no longer looking....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 22, 2014 7:09 am

Blue Jackets Drop Game Three 4-3

The Columbus Blue Jackets let an early 2-0 lead slip away Monday night, as they drop game three 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The loss puts....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 21, 2014 10:18 pm

OSU students’ non-polluting KAir battery wins $100K from feds

A non-polluting industrial battery invented by Ohio State University students won $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and will compete in....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 21, 2014 4:25 pm

Popular Cincinnati restaurant Nada coming to Arena District

With all due respect to its name, the newest Arena District restaurant is hardly nothing. Cincinnati restaurateur David Falk is bringing his ....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 21, 2014 3:34 pm

Cincinnati-based Nada Restaurant Opening in Arena District

Another dose of Cincinnati is coming to Columbus by way of Nada — a popular restaurant located not far from Fountain Square. Their Columbus....

The Walker Evans Effect

Apr 21, 2014 3:18 pm

Gahanna hoping AEP replaces jobs lost to New Albany

Gahanna is holding out hope American Electric Power Company Inc. will eventually backfill space at 700 Morrison Road following last week’s....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 21, 2014 1:47 pm

Adena Health swings back to black in 2013 after 2 years of losses

Adena Health System posted an $18.5 million swing in operating income in 2013 following two consecutive years of losses. The Chillicothe hospital....

Business First of Columbus

Apr 21, 2014 1:23 pm