City expects to delay Internet cafe ban

Published: Sunday, September 02, 2012 @ 10:00 PM
Updated: Sunday, September 02, 2012 @ 10:00 PM

Nearly one month before Springfield’s ban on Internet cafes is scheduled to begin, city commissioners will likely delay its start until July of 2013.

Commissioners will likely vote on the updated ordinance on Sept. 11. Mayor Warren Copeland said he expects the revised ordinance to pass at the next meeting.

In December, city commissioners voted 3-2 to a delayed ban on Internet cafes, beginning this October, with hopes the state would regulate the industry in the state and to give local businesses time to comply.

The city has more than a dozen of the businesses.

Internet cafes and game rooms typically offer phone cards that can be purchased for time on computers and also includes sweepstakes entries for games where cash payouts are awarded. Many state and local lawmakers believe the computers are designed to take advantage of loopholes in Ohio’s gaming laws.

A statewide moratorium on new Internet cafes was enacted in May, but no other action has been taken by Ohio lawmakers. Attorney General Mike DeWine recently reiterated his stance that the Ohio General Assembly should adopt regulations on Internet cafes and sweepstakes parlors.

DeWine believes lawmakers must define the sweepstakes rules, establish a state-mandated payout, require certification of software and equipment, establish a computer system which monitors all machines in the state and the designation of a state agency to oversee the parlors. He also believes parlors should pay taxes and license fees.

City leaders wanted to give commissioners an opportunity to delay the ban in case the state does take action during the moratorium, according to Jerry Strozdas, the city’s law director. The statewide moratorium ends on June 30, 2013.

“We feel its appropriate to give (the commissioners) the option to wait and see what the state does,” Strozdas said.

Copeland said they’ve felt all along it was best to let the state take the lead on the issue of Internet cafes. If commissioners were to close down the Internet cafes in October, Copeland said, they’d likely try to move outside the city limits to stay open.

“We’re just trying to get out of the way to let the state what it needs to do and decide what the status of these facilities are,” said Copeland, who voted for the ban last December. “I hope they do that instead of sitting on the moratorium and not taking any action.”

Local Internet cafe owners or managers declined comment for this story.

Officials initially thought three Internet cafes were located within the city limits, but the number is higher. Affidavits filed through state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office show 782 Internet cafes or sweepstakes parlors in Ohio, including 25 in Clark County.

Of those 25, 14 are located within the city limits, according to the affidavits. Three businesses call themselves Internet cafes, while other businesses like bars, drive-thrus and restaurants offer similar computer devices.

City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill said the attorney general’s report shed a little different light on Clark County because “there was more found than we ever thought were out there.” He was happy to see the ban extended and that the employees of the Internet cafes will keep their jobs.

“I’m still a firm believer that they aren’t causing any problems,” O’Neill said. “I believe everyone that goes in there are adults, and they’re treated as such.”

He also believes it’s a quality of life issue for some people, rather than a way to make money.

“They don’t want to sit around a bar, they don’t want to look at the TV all the time,” O’Neill said. “Maybe they’re not computer-literate enough to get on a computer at home. I think it’s a good thing. If we wait for the state to take the lead and it’s governed properly, it’s a good thing.”

The state Senate and House of Representatives each have bills in the early stages of development in committees, Senate Bill 317 and House Bill 195. According to his office, DeWine prefers HB 195, which mirrors his beliefs on Internet cafes, but said some form of regulation is needed.

State Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, said he supports the regulation of Internet cafes, especially after the creation of the Ohio Gaming Commission. He expects it to happen before the moratorium ends next summer.

“We’re regulating everything else, Internet cafes should also be subject to consumer protection regulations,” McGregor said. “They should be regulated and held accountable to make sure they’re not ripping people off.”

Government shuts down, negotiations expected through weekend

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:23 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 20, 2018 @ 12:11 AM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

The federal government shut down Saturday for the first time since 2013 late Friday, with a handful of Republicans and the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate opposing efforts to keep the federal government running for another month.

By a vote of 50-48, Senate Republicans fell far short of the 60 votes needed to end floor debate and clear the way for a vote on a bill approved Thursday by the House which would keep the federal government open until the middle of February.

Hundreds of housands of federal workers faced the possibility of being furloughed during a shutdown.

While most of the functions of the federal government will still operate – the mail will be delivered, Social Security checks will still go out, the military will still function – workers deemed “non-essential” would be asked not to go to work, and would be paid only after the federal government resumed operations.

RELATED: Five things to know if a shutdown happens

RELATED: Dreamers rally in Dayton to support DACA

At issue was what would be the fourth temporary spending bill passed by Congress since the fiscal year began in October.

That bill would also extend the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, for six years. Republicans included the measure as a sweetener aimed at attracting Democratic support.

At first, the plan seemed to work, with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio indicating he’d likely support the bill. But Brown joined most Senate Democrats Friday in blocking a floor vote.

Brown was influenced in part by the announcement Friday that a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona did not plan to vote for the bill. They had been working toward a separate measure aimed at extending a program that allows people brought to the United States illegally as children to stay, and called for a short-term bill that would keep the government open through early next week, expressing confidence that they could come up with a long term plan during that time.

Brown jumped, saying he’d support the shorter-term plan.

“We are very close to a bipartisan agreement, and we owe it to the people we work for to keep working and get the job done,” said Brown.

RELATED: 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

RELATED: Trump and Schumer end private talks with no deal in hand

But in agreeing to the shorter-term plan, he became the object of derision from Republicans who hope to unseat him later this year. They said by opting not to support the bill passed by the House, he was effectively voting against the six-year extension of CHIP.

Blaine Kelly of the Ohio Republican Party said Brown’s decision not to vote for the GOP plan “is a flip flop beyond belief, and puts the health insurance of nearly a quarter million Ohio children at risk.”

Jennifer Donohue, communications director for Brown, replied that CHIP would have passed “months ago” if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, “had listened to Senator Brown, but instead they’re holding the program hostage and using Ohio kids as political leverage.”

Last December, Brown voted against a temporary spending bill that kept the government open because it only extended CHIP money for three months instead of five years.

While Republicans blamed Senate Democrats for the shutdown, a Washington Post-ABC News Poll released Friday indicated most Americans blamed the party in power: 48 percent of those polled blamed Republicans while 28 percent blamed Democrats.

Ohio Democrats, meanwhile, pointed out that Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is challenging Brown for Senate, voted for the measure that led to the federal government shutdown in 2013.

“If the government shuts down tonight, the blame will lay at the feet of Republicans in control of Washington, like Rep. Jim Renacci, who irresponsibly govern by crisis and play political games,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger.

Renacci and Senate Republican candidate Mike Gibbons were quick to strike back. James Slepian, a Renacci aide said “after Sherrod Brown vowed to shut down the government, cut off funding to our troops and deny health insurance to 9 million low income children, Senator Brown and his lackeys at the Ohio Democratic Party are terrified by the hell he’ll pay with Ohio voters.”

Gibbons said that “Sherrod Brown and Chuck Schumer are playing politics with people's lives for partisan advantage.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” seemed puzzled that Democrats were holding up the bill in large part because of the immigration issue, saying “it’s an issue that hasn’t been resolved yet and it will take a little more time.” He backed moving the bill forward.

“This is not a good way to score political points,” Portman said. 

Despite the shutdown, much of the government will remain effectively operational, albeit on a smaller scale, at least in the short term. The mail will still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual but active duty members will not be paid until the shutdown ends, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.

The state in 2016 had 77,400 federal employees, of which 5,250 were on active duty with the Air Force. Air Force civilian employment was 13,838, almost all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

During past partial shutdowns, some civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In the 2013 shutdown, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Whitehall were furloughed.

In part, Democrats have adopted a strategy aimed at their political base which is demanding action on the Dreamers and wants more confrontation with Trump. By doing so, they are emulating the Republican strategy of 2013 in which the GOP closed the government in a futile effort to convince President Barack Obama to scrap his 2010 health law known as Obamacare.

“Smart Republicans have learned how stupid it is politically to shut down the government,” said one longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington. “You don’t win when you shut down the government.

The Republican said the Senate Democrat strategy was complicated when House Republicans overcame their vast differences and passed the temporary spending bill Thursday. Until then, Senate Democrats could justifiably argue that the GOP-controlled House could not keep the government open.

“It would have been one thing if the House failed,” the Republican said. “But once (House Speaker Paul) Ryan did the miraculous and passed a bill with votes from people who hate spending bills of any kind, it totally changed the dynamic.” 
 

Enjoy fine arts and give back: 4 events in Springfield this weekend

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:22 PM


            The Shimasaki Sisters will perform as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s NightLights concert series at the Clark State Performing Arts Center on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED
The Shimasaki Sisters will perform as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s NightLights concert series at the Clark State Performing Arts Center on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED

Looking for a way to enjoy the break in the weather this weekend? Here are four events going on in the greater Springfield area.

1. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

The Springfield Promise Neighborhood will host the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Saturday, Jan. 20 starting at noon. The event had been scheduled for Jan. 15 but was postponed due to the weather.

» READ MORE: Promise Neighborhood to hold service project on Martin Luther King Day

The event, which will take place at 237 E. High St. in Springfield, will focus on an art project centered around advertising and expanding the community garden located on Linden Avenue. The neighborhood plans on installing the completed mural in the garden, along with performing other small upgrades. The event is free and open to the public.

2. Shimasaki Sisters Live in Concert

Springfield-raised violinist Kanako Shimasaki and her younger sister Mariko Shimasaki will take the stage as a duet for the first time as part of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s NightLights Concert on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Clark State Performing Arts Center. The concert is set to start at 5 p.m.

» RELATED: Sister violinists to perform orchestral homecoming in Springfield

Kanako has performed on many famous stages, including Carnegie Hall in New York City and the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Her sister Mariko is a graduate of the Julliard School and is working toward a Master’s degree at the Mannes School of Music in New York City.

The program will feature baroque-era works, as well as modern pieces. Tickets for the concert start at $31 and are available through ticketmaster.

3. OPAI’s ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ Auditions

The Ohio Performing Arts Institute will be holding auditions for their rendition of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The auditions, which will take place at the institute, located at 1616 E. High St., require all auditioners to bring their own sheet music and perform one song to showcase their abilities. An accompanist will be provided. Performers may also be asked to read from the script. Anyone from ages 6 to adult are allowed to audition.

» READ MORE: Ragtime orchestra scores with silent film presentation in Springfield

4. Springfield Motorcycle Swap Meet

The Clark County Fairgrounds will play host to the Walneck Motorcycle Swap Meet on Sunday, Jan. 21, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees will be able to find a variety of different merchandise and memorabilia from leather goods to spare parts at the gathering. Indoor motorcycle events will also be part of the showcase. Admission to the event is $7 and all ages are welcome to attend.

Northeastern adjusts bus driver’s reprimand, rebuts safety allegations

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:14 PM


            The Northeastern Board of Education voted to adjust a reprimand against a bus driver this week. JEFF GUERINI/ STAFF
The Northeastern Board of Education voted to adjust a reprimand against a bus driver this week. JEFF GUERINI/ STAFF

The Northeastern Local Board of Education voted to adjust a reprimand against a school bus driver who reported to the state that the district allegedly violated state and federal bus safety rules.

Cindy Ladig was reprimanded last year and faced possible reassignment after she filed a complaint with the Ohio Department of Education regarding the district’s handling of the transportation of a student who uses a wheelchair.

Northeastern board members decided unanimously Thursday night that Ladig wasn’t insubordinate when she filed the complaint with the state but didn’t completely remove the reprimand from her personnel record.

RELATED: State says Northeastern violated federal, state bus safety rules

Northeastern Superintendent John Kronour told the Springfield News-Sun the district maintains it followed all bus safety laws at all times and was addressing the wheelchair issue before a complaint was filed.

A current bus driver and a former transportation department administrator said at the school board meeting Thursday they have concerns about how the district’s transportation department is run. Northeastern is the second largest school district in Clark County.

The Northeastern board members met in executive session for about three hours Thursday night for a grievance hearing regarding the reprimand filed against Ladig.

In the original written reprimand, Ladig was accused of making “baseless allegations” when she filed the complaint accusing the district of not doing enough to stabilize an 18-year-old student’s wheelchair while riding a school bus. It swayed and allegedly caused the student to hit his head on the window, a letter from Ohio Department of Education Assistant Director for the Office of Exceptional Children Monica Drvota says.

The vote removes the insubordination part of the reprimand but it still alleges she broke policy by disclosing student records and health information without authorization.

Ladig declined to comment Thursday night and her attorney, John Concannon, didn’t return phone calls Friday. Kronour said he supports the school board’s decision.

DETAILS: Training for school bus drivers

Northeastern allegedly violated an Ohio administrative code because no district transportation department staff members attended a team meeting to review an individualized education program for the student involved and no documentation was submitted to the transportation department, the state’s letter says.

The school district rebutted those allegations in a Aug. 31, 2017, letter recently obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

The district says in that letter they worked extensively to fix the problem and didn’t violate any laws.

“Several efforts were made to check and re-check the student’s wheelchair as secured to the bus, different methods to secure the wheelchair to the bus were attempted and complainant was given explicit instructions regarding the same, contacts were made to NuMotion (wheelchair company) to assist in checking the student’s wheelchair for defects/stability, etc.,” the letters says.

READ MORE: Graham schools to invest $600K on new transportation facility

The rebuttal letter also says the transportation department was constantly involved in discussions regarding the wheelchair malfunction.

“Transportation personnel was consulted on numerous occasions, including but not limited to the meeting on March 21 and that information from the transportation personnel was taken into consideration both before and during the IEP team meeting on April 21,” the letter says.

TRENDING STORY: Yellow Springs restaurant Williams Eatery shuts its doors

The letter goes on to say, “Transportation personnel was in fact consulted in preparation to the student’s IEP and that the consultation with transportation personnel was discussed at the student’s IEP team meeting on April 21.”

A separate letter addressed to the Ohio Department of Education on Jan. 5, 2018, recommends the state look into adding an appeal process. It’s not fair that Northeastern cannot appeal the findings, the letter claims.

“This left the board with no means of redressing the findings in the state complaint,” the letters says. “The board believes this is a serious void in the conflict resolution process codified in (Ohio administrative code).”

The Ohio Department of Education hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment. The Springfield News-Sun also has submitted public records requests to the Ohio Department of Education for more information on the allegations but hasn’t received them.

MORE COVERAGE: Clark DD to privatize transportation for disabled

Transportation concerns

At the school board meeting Thursday, former and current employees also asked questions about the Northeastern transportation department.

Current bus driver Jodie Childs, who’s worked at the district for 38 years, said the operations aren’t running smoothly.

“We have lost communication in our transportation department,” Childs said. “It’s critical. We need help there and I am asking the board to look into it.”

She supports Ladig, she said.

“Addressing the issues of safety on our school buses is a critical, critical thing,” Childs said. “I don’t really feel like they are listening to our concerns about transporting students in general, not just (students with disabilities). It’s across the board.”

Bob Skelton, who served as Northeastern transportation director before retiring several years ago, said he still monitors the bus radios and is concerned about what he’s heard.

“It’s shameful, what’s going on,” Skelton said.

He said he heard on the monitor buses breaking down often and a lack of good communication.

MORE ABOUT NORTHEASTERN: Student of the Week Northeastern High School

“It is getting really, really dangerous,” Skelton said.

He said the board needs to focus on its transportation department.

“I live in this district and I am very concerned about it,” Skelton said. “I hope somebody gets on it and someone listens and pays attention.”

Most school board members didn’t respond to the concerns during the meeting but school board member Steve Schwitzgable did.

“I can assure you we will have conversations about what’s going on in bus transportation,” Schwitzgable said.

Kronour said in an email that he will look into the concerns, too.

“I will be investigating concerns raised last evening over the course of the next few days,” Kronour said.

By the numbers

3,300: Students in Northeastern Local School District

2: Codes, one federal and one state, the Ohio Department of Education says Northeastern violated when transporting a student who uses a wheelchair

3: Corrective steps the state says Northeastern should take to remedy the situation

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun first broke the news about state allegations against Northeastern Local Schools and will continue to follow the story.

What happens to veterans if the government shuts down?

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 6:36 PM

Dayton VA Medical Center STAFF FILE PHOTO
Staff Writer
Dayton VA Medical Center STAFF FILE PHOTO(Staff Writer)

Vital services for veterans will not be threatened if the government shuts down this weekend. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, including the Dayton VA Medical Center, would remain open.

After previous partial shutdowns caused headaches for the VA, the department lobbied Congress to fund the VA on a two-year budget cycle. That exempts the department from the latest funding skirmish in Washington.

About 4 percent of the department’s workforce — nearly 16,000 workers — would be subject to furloughs during a shutdown, with almost half of that total coming from the Veterans Benefits Administration, according to Navy Times

Veterans would still get checks during a shutdown, but some education benefit programs would cease as well as the hearing of case appeals. 

MORE COVERAGE: 

Could your travel plans be impacted by the government shutdown?

Will a government shutdown delay my tax return?

With no deal on shutdown, GOP accuses Sherrod Brown of flip-flop

Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patterson is in a holding pattern

Temporary funding prevents shutdown but hurts military, officials say