Ohio’s Most Efficient Natural Gas Power Plant Now Online
Lucas County facility powers more than 700,000 homes
Oregon, OH (August 21, 2017) — Oregon Clean Energy Center welcomed Governor John Kasich today for a ceremonial ribbon cutting of Ohio’s newest, most efficient natural gas power generating facility. The Oregon Clean Energy Center (OCEC) is a combined-cycle natural gas-fired generation facility located in Oregon, Ohio. The facility has 870 MW of demonstrated capacity with planned upgrades bringing total capacity to 908 MW. This state-of-the-art combined-cycle technology can reliably produce low-cost electricity for more than 700,000 homes.
“We are excited to announce that the Oregon Clean Energy Center is online, providing clean, affordable reliable power to hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and consumers,” said Peter Rigney, Projects General Manager. “This milestone would not have been possible without the support and cooperation from the City of Oregon, from its initial approval of the project to reaching commercial operations this month.”
The plant’s commencement completes a four-year planning and construction period that included more than 2.7 million labor hours, employed more than 950 people at its peak, and completes a process that over four years resulted in total investments of more than $800 million. Now operational, the plant supports dozens of local, high-paying jobs and provides a $20 million economic boost to the area.
Ohio’s competitive, deregulated electric market as well as its abundance of affordable natural gas, were the primary drivers of the private investment. In fact, this advanced, latest generation power generating facility was built without taxpayer dollars or government subsidies and comes at zero risk to ratepayers. The plant is currently owned by funds managed by Ares Management, L.P. (NYSE:ARES) and I Squared Capital.
“With the closure of a number of old coal plants, which account for 12,000 MW of electricity over the next few years, OCEC is strategically positioned to lessen the risk of some of the hard-hitting effects of those closures for electricity consumers in the region,” said Herb Magid, Partner and Co-Head of Ares EIF Group. “The plant is the one of the most state-of-the-art natural gas-fueled power plants in Ohio and one of the most efficient plants in the country.”
This investment and the contribution to clean and affordable electricity made possible through OCEC will continue to deliver benefits to Ohioans for decades to come. Oregon local schools are projected to receive millions of dollars in new tax revenues from the plant’s operations. As a result of the plant, the region has realized critical improvements to local infrastructure, including water system upgrades and installation of natural gas pipelines, which will help attract new businesses to Lucas County and the state of Ohio.
“Think about this: This plant is providing the same amount of power as one nuclear plant. And at the same time we say that, there’s no risk to it,” Governor John Kasich said during the ribbon cutting today. “So this is the future here. This is a big deal. So I think it’s important that Ohio stay in a deregulated environment which brings in investors. If all of a sudden you don’t have a level playing field then you don’t have significant investment. It will go in another place.”
The Oregon Clean Energy Center will deliver environmental benefits to the region as well, emitting 90 percent less sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and fine particulate matter than coal-fired power plants, half as much carbon dioxide and one-third as much water as coal plants of the same size.
Locally elected officials and leaders joined Gov. Kasich in applauding the plant’s opening.
John Minor, President, JobsOhio: “Oregon Clean Energy Center’s state-of-the-art facility is an example of how shale activity is attracting significant investment and high-paying jobs across the state. Highly-efficient and reliable plants like this will provide low-cost, clean energy for Ohioans and Ohio businesses for decades.”
State Rep. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon): “The Oregon Clean Energy Center is a tremendous asset to the region. There have been hundreds of local workers out at the plant, safely bringing low-cost, clean burning electric generation to Ohioans and it will do so for years to come.”
Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley: “The City of Oregon is proud to be home to the Oregon Clean Energy Center. This facility serves as a monument to the hard work and collaboration of the investors, developers, state and local government leaders, and the thousands of area residents that helped to build it. It puts people to work while producing lower priced electrical power for Ohio businesses and homes for decades to come.”
The Oregon Clean Energy Center (OCEC) is a combined-cycle natural gas-fired generation facility located in Oregon, Ohio. The facility has 870 MW of demonstrated capacity with planned uprates bringing total capacity to 908 MW. This state-of-the-art combined-cycle technology can reliably produce low-cost electricity for more than 700,000 homes.
Committing to Columbus, White Castle to redevelop headquarters
$65 Million Mixed-Use Development Will Enhance Gateway to Downtown
Columbus – White Castle has solidified its commitment to Columbus and Ohio by announcing a $65 million redevelopment project that will transform its home office at 555 W. Goodale St. into a true 21st century hub of business and community activity. Pledging to expand its employment base of 220 full-time jobs at the site, White Castle will create a mixed-use campus with apartments, commercial office space and a community center that, once completed, can be of future use to local nonprofits. White Castle will partner with Columbus based Alford Construction on the development project.
“Columbus has been home to White Castle for 83 years, and we couldn’t be happier to announce our recommitment,” Lisa Ingram, White Castle president and CEO, said. “Thanks to encouraging and ongoing discussions with the City of Columbus, JobsOhio, Columbus 2020, Ohio Department of Transportation and Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority, we plan to reimagine this iconic site for the benefit of our wonderful community and outstanding team members.”
White Castle will replace its current headquarters with a new home office and create a community center available for public use, with an emphasis on partnering with charities and 501(c)(3) organizations. In addition, a second office building will be constructed adding up to 100,000 square feet to serve as the home of future businesses on the site. The project is contingent on final approval of incentives by JobsOhio.
“We are pleased that White Castle, a family-owned business with a rich history and national presence will continue to be a core company in Columbus,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. “White Castle’s revitalized home campus will allow us to create jobs and serve the needs of community organizations while beautifying the gateway to downtown from State Route 315.”
About White Castle
White Castle, America’s first fast-food hamburger chain based in Columbus, Ohio, owns and operates nearly 400 restaurants in 13 states. The pioneering original slider, Time Magazine’s most influential burger of all time, is served alongside a menu of creatively crafted sliders and other tasty food options. White Castle’s commitment to maintaining the highest quality products extends to the company owning and operating its own meat processing plants and bakeries as well as three frozen food processing plants. The retail division markets White Castle’s famous fare in grocery, club stores, convenience stores, vending operations and concessions across the United States and in a growing number of international locations, including military base exchanges around the world.
Joseph Tree Service, LLC Adheres to Best Industry Practices
Joseph Tree Service, LLC, a commercial and residential tree service in Dublin, Ohio, recently renewed their 3-year Residential/Commercial Accreditation in accordance with Tree Care Company Accreditation standards put forth by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), America’s oldest and most respected tree care trade association. Accredited companies must re-apply every three years so that TCIA can verify that the company continues to meet the standards of the accreditation and employs best business practices.
TCIA Accreditation is the only program of its kind in the tree care industry. The process evaluates businesses to ensure that professional practices and standards are met in every department and at every level of the company.
During the application process, an independent auditor checks the company for proper insurance, applicable licenses, reliable and ethical customer service practices, and strict operating standards. The company must also show evidence of formal employee training, adherence to safety and quality standards, compliance with industry standards, and employment of best business practices.
As a measure of protection to consumers, businesses undergo renewal check-ups annually. The annual renewal ensures that the company continues to employ trained professionals, is still properly insured and has a good safety and consumer satisfaction rating.
The 3-year Accreditation achievement demonstrates that Joseph Tree Service, LLC has undergone an extensive review of practices as well as a site visit, and adheres to all accreditation standards.
For more information about Joseph Tree Service, LLC, visit www.josephtreeservice.com or call 614-313-8138.
Secretary of State’s Office to Honor Information Control Company, LLC
Information Control Company, LLC in Columbus has been selected by Secretary of State Jon Husted as one of August’s featured businesses for the Ohio Business Profile Program. A representative from the Secretary of State’s office will visit Information Control Company, LLC to present the company with a certificate highlighting this accomplishment. As part of the Ohio Business Profile Program, Secretary Husted declared August as “STEMM in Ohio” month to feature companies that are currently seeking talent in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).
Information Control Company, LLC is a digital and information technology consulting company that employs nearly 600 consultants. By providing technological leadership, they help organizations enhance their performance by improving processes and increasing productivity.
WHEN: Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
WHERE: Information Control Company, LLC
2500 Corporate Exchange Drive, Suite 310
Columbus, Ohio 43231
New Con Claims Apple Support Is Contacting You
Do you have an Apple device and iCloud account? If so, don’t let this new scam fool you. Con artists are calling people across the United States and Canada and claiming that their iCloud accounts have been hacked.
BBB Scam Tracker has received reports of this scam nationally and locally. National reports state that scammers acting as Apple support staff have called consumers, and a Central Ohio consumer reported receiving a pop-up from “Apple” asking for $299 to put virus protection on their machine.
How the Scam Works:
You get a robocall or pop-up claiming to be from Apple Support. Your Caller ID may say “Apple Inc.” or the name of your local Apple store. The message informs you that your iCloud account was hacked and prompts you to stay on the line and speak to an Apple support “technician.”
If you stay on the line, this “technician” will offer to fix your account. But first, they will need remote access to your computer. Unfortunately, allowing a scammer to access your computer can open you up to the risk of identity theft. Scam artists can install malware that records passwords or hunts for personal information, such as bank account numbers, on your computer.
Protect yourself from tech support scams:
Don’t ever give a stranger remote access to your machine: Granting someone remote access to your computer permits them to install malware and access your files.
Be wary of anyone calling you and claiming to be from a big-name tech company. Most big tech company employees will not call customers who have not asked to be called.
Don’t believe Caller ID: Victims report falling for this scam because the calls appear to come from Apple Support. Scammers often spoof phone numbers, so don’t believe what you see on your phone.
Think twice when you see a pop-up notification on your computer that isn’t from a program you installed. Scammers make tech support scam pop-ups that look like they’re coming from your computer, but they are actually ads displaying in your internet browser.
Check out BBB Tips: Many tech support scams use similar techniques; see bbb.org/techsupportscam/ for more advice.
Find out about scams impersonating Apple by visiting this page on support.apple.com.
To learn more about scams, go to BBB Scam Tips (bbb.org/scamtips). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).
For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.
Figuring Out the Female Boss: Two Key Steps
By Dr. Michelle Joy and Dr. Jody Foster
A bad boss can make the workplace miserable. And sometimes this person is a woman. Given how much time people spend in this office, life itself can become wretched. You start to feel angry, humiliated, anxious, and depressed. You tell your coworkers just how bad this supervisor is, how she treats you, how she makes you feel. She really is a “jerk,” you claim, “a b**ch” you all agree. You consider doing something about it but take no steps. You hope that she stops acting this way and that everything can just get better on its own.
But of course she doesn’t stop. She keeps yelling at you, keeping you late, making you redo reports. She criticizes your work. She criticizes you. You start to realize change is unlikely. You try to do everything you can do to avoid a blowout, but nothing works. Your job becomes a prison where each day is spent thinking about how much you hate your boss – feeling terrible and without any results. Dreading each interaction…
There are two steps on the path forward. Both may seem difficult but are surprisingly simple:
1. Acknowledge what you might be bringing to the table and why your boss’ behavior bothers you so much. Because even if you have found solace in group gossip about your manager, chances are there are some reasons why you are so personally frustrated by this person. Does she remind you of someone else in life? Can you absolutely not tolerate criticism? What is it about you that makes her seem so bad? As intolerable as she seems, and as little as you want to do this, you may be surprised at what answers arise.
2. Empathize. The complementary approach – one that can be incredibly hard to come to terms with – is to empathize with your boss. Why on earth would we suggest finding an empathic spot for this person when it’s quite literally the last thing you want to do? Because if you must find a way to get along, you’ll need to take the long view and try to understand why she acts in this particular way. In allowing yourself to empathize with your boss, you also give space for some of the negativity to fade away. In understanding her and yourself, a desire to learn and to grow can start to replace the bottled up disdain spilling into every part of your day.
We’ve consulted with a number of employees over the years who have had significant problems working for female bosses. Most were women, though some were also men. In all situations, we asked the workers to ask why they seemed to be so rattled by women in positions of authority. Why do they feel so minimized and humiliated when, for example, they were scolded or criticized? These are all issues that an employee brings to the table and must evaluate. Perhaps the same boss wouldn’t bother another colleague quite as much. We try to help people understand that it’s their responsibilities to look inward for answers to these questions.
At the same time, consulting employees often find themselves wondering whether the women who achieve high rank are in some way meaner or more difficult. And why they would act this way toward them when, as fellow women, they should presumably want to support one another. So we ask them to empathize and think about what be driving her boss to be so dismissive of her feelings. What does she know about her? What is the office like for her boss? What was her path to promotion? What in this story might have caused her to behave so distastefully? Most importantly, we try to frame what internal struggles the boss might be dealing with that cause her behavior.
Perhaps a micromanaging boss is so incredibly afraid of losing control that she needs to discipline everyone around her to feel more secure. Maybe her whole life has spent trying to be “perfect” in order to please others and she takes these insecurities out on those around her. Perhaps a seemingly arrogant boss only flies off the handle when she herself feels exposed or humiliated. She is afraid the world might discover that her big job is just a mask covering her cripplingly low self-esteem, and she constantly fears discovery of what she feels is her fraudulent, inadequate self.
In trying to understand the boss’s underlying anxiety, an employee can interact in ways that help keep the supervisor’s fear at bay:
- Find little ways to show the boss she’s in control if she needs to be
- If the boss has fragile self-esteem, show her value by acknowledging her positives when opportunities arise
- If a disorganized boss can’t finish anything and slows everyone else down, learn to interact with her in bite-sized tasks and complete them one at a time
The hardest part is acknowledging our own roles – and capabilities – in making the workplace more comfortable. In accepting the task of learning about ourselves and our bosses, we can do just that. People want to tell you about themselves and will do so all the time; they want to be heard. Just look and listen with the intent to understand. It works every time.
Dr. Michelle Joy and Dr. Jody Foster are the authors of The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively with Difficult People at Work. For more information, please visit, www.schmuckinmyoffice.com.
Uno Pizzeria Fires Chef Who Marched in Charlottesville White Supremacist Rally
By Guardians of Democracy Staff
Published on August 18, 2017
An Uno Pizzeria & Grill chef was fired Tuesday after the company was made aware of his participation in this weekend’s violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Ryan Roy has been terminated,” Skip Weldon, chief marketing officer for Boston-based Uno Pizzeria and Grill, told the Burlington Free Press on Tuesday evening.
Weldon added in an emailed statement: “We are committed to the fair treatment of all people and the safety of our guests and employees at our restaurants.”
Roy was featured on camera in a Vice News documentary about the march, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” while holding a tiki torch.
Twitter user @fast_sneakers identified the pizzeria employee and alerted his employer to his participation in the hate rally. Uno confirmed they were made aware of Weldon’s participation thanks to social-media messages Tuesday morning and calls to the South Burlington pizzeria.
Roy, 28, of Burlington had worked as a cook at the Shelburne Road restaurant in Vermont since 2016, reports the Burlington Free Press. He graduated from Essex High School in 2007.
Roy confirmed to the paper that he attended multiple events in Charlottesville over the weekend, including the rally to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Roy said he favors separation based on race and a white nation.
“Obviously I would advocate for racial separation and racial nationalism or repatriation or even a return to — our country was a white country up until the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act,” Roy said. The act removed quotas that favored immigrants from northern Europe.
As for the legality of his termination, Jay Diaz of the American Civil Liberties tells the Burlington Free Press: “If he’s working at a private company, the First Amendment doesn’t protect him from being fired.”
Secretary of State’s Office to Honor Idea Foundry
Idea Foundry in Columbus has been selected by Secretary of State Jon Husted as one of August’s featured businesses for the Ohio Business Profile Program. A representative from the Secretary of State’s office will visit Idea Foundry to present the company with a certificate highlighting this accomplishment. As part of the Ohio Business Profile Program, Secretary Husted declared August as “STEMM in Ohio” month to feature companies that are currently seeking talent in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).
Idea Foundry is a community workspace and learning center. They provide training and access to a variety of resources so their members can develop ideas and grow their businesses.
WHEN: Thursday, August 24, 2017.
WHERE: Idea Foundry
421 West State Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
An American Dialect Dictionary Is Dying Out. Here Are Some Of Its Best Words.
From twistification to storm caves to slushburgers, the U.S. has quite the history of local language quirks.
By Katherine Brooks
Source: Dictionary of American Regional English
Bizmaroon, doodinkus and splo.
For over 50 years, a group of intrepid lexicographers have been documenting words like these ― regional terms and phrases that were once popular in states like Wisconsin, Kansas and Tennessee. Collected together in the Dictionary of American Regional English, the words make up a fascinating repository for old-fashioned, funny-sounding and unmistakably local language quirks across the United States.
But the six-volume compendium might soon be coming to an end.
DARE began with a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor named Frederic Cassidy. In 1962, he became chief editor of a project dedicated to American dialects, and from 1965 to 1970, he oversaw a team of 80 fieldworkers who traveled the country surveying thousands of English speakers and the regional sayings they held dear. From 1970 until 2013, experts in Madison used the massive amounts of survey data gathered to create an impressive, 60,000-entry dictionary now run by people like longtime DARE editors Joan Hall and George Goebel. Existing in both physical and digital form, the dictionary logs words including bluebird weather (in Maryland, it means a brief period of warm weather in autumn) and slushburger (to South Dakotans, a sloppy joe), as well as phrases like “I hope to my die” (used to make a strong assertion in Kentucky) and “inso” (a contraction meaning “Isn’t that so? Don’t you agree?” in Wisconsin).
While non-regional slang words spread like wildfire across the internet now, DARE is a lovely reminder that colloquialisms were once ― and still are, in some cases ― bound to the people and places of localized areas. Even if we’ve long forgotten that bizmaroon is a term for a bullfrog, doodinkus means gadget and splo is a stand-in for liquor, they remain a part of our country’s rich oral history. One of the dictionary’s primary functions today is, according to Hall, to combat the idea that language has been “homogenized” by present-day media and a hyperconnected population, and preserve the dialect that sets us all apart along the way.
“Language is changing, no doubt about that,” Hall, who’s been with DARE since the 1970s, told HuffPost, “but it doesn’t mean it’s becoming homogenized. If you think about the parts of your vocabulary that have to do with your family and friends and your community ― that have nothing to do with school or newspapers or standardized forms of communication ― you realize a lot of these words are not going to change because they are part and parcel of our human lives.”
And Hall’s not alone in her thinking. Bert Vaux, one of the linguistic professors behind a viral New York Times quiz adapted from the Harvard Dialect Survey he developed, claims that while it might be true that “traditional features of non-standard dialects are dying out, regional differences in vocabulary and pronunciation remain alive and well, and may even be increasing.” He cited the many, many enduring synonyms for “doodlebug,” a term he and other Houston-area natives use to refer to what others call a pill bug, roly poly, sow bug, potato bug, armadillo bug, slater, woody wig or monkey pea as evidence. Hall similarly offers the word “budge,” a relatively new Wisconsin term used in schools to denote cutting or butting in line, as in: “No budging, I was here first!”
Unfortunately, there are few resources other than DARE and projects like Vaux’s Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes that are taking the time to not only track new regionalisms across the U.S., but safeguard the local words and phrases whose usage is dwindling ― from Gullah words on the southern coasts to Mormon and Amish sayings in the heartland to Spanish-infused speech in the American Southwest. Due to lack of funding, Hall says that DARE will be winding down its services by the end of the year. Any future funding ― be it from federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities or private foundations like the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ― will be used to continue to update the digital version of DARE, but the organization will cease plans to continue its fieldwork and in-person research.
What will be lost if DARE discontinues its research? “We’d be losing an excellent resource for discovering things about our past,” Hall, who’s been technically retired for two years, said. “It’s a hugely important resource for history of the language in this country. It’s also very important for discovering differences among ethnic cultures. We have an index where you can look up Norwegian or Swedish or Spanish or French and find all the entries that say something about that in their etymologies, or you can look and see which entries were used primarily by rural people as opposed to urban, or well-educated as opposed to poorly educated, men and women. These are things that other resources don’t tell you about.”
Vaux agrees that nuanced data like that provided by DARE “can play significant roles in combating prejudices by making the general public aware of the sorts of variations that exist in our language and the fact that they typically result not from differences in intelligence or sophistication, but often are simply regional differences.”
“Language is changing, no doubt about that, but it doesn’t mean it’s becoming homogenized.
For West Virginia–based writer Scott McClanahan, author of Crapalachia and The Sarah Book, a focus on dialect differences is certainly complex. “It’s easier to take a people’s natural [and] mineral resources as a society if you think they talk funny,” he explained. “It’s easier to stereotype and exploit a people who are seen as uneducated because they pronounce the word ‘pin’ the same as the word ‘pen.’”
McClanahan, whose books explore the people and things that make rural Appalachia tick, says his children won’t sound the way he sounds or use the words he uses, and he doesn’t think they should. “The way their great-grandparents sounded or the words they used would probably be shocking to their ears,” he said. “But inside of all our words are these secret little histories about war and famine and immigration and jobs our ancestors had.”
At the end of the day, Vaux believes that regionalism will persist “as long as it is important for humans to identify in-group and out-group status,” he concluded. “I don’t think that language as a whole will homogenize.”
Hall doesn’t think it will either, though she’s not relying on blind hope. “As an editor of DARE, I regret that many words seem to be on their way out, because they are interesting, appropriate and reflective of their regions,” she said. “But I also recognize that language change is inevitable, and nothing DARE or anyone else can do will keep them alive if they no longer serve their purpose.”
For more information on DARE’s recent efforts ― such as its digitization of more than 1,800 recordings of regional pronunciation ― you can visit the dictionary’s website. In the meantime, here are 50 words and phrases plucked straight from DARE’s catalogue that define the wonder of American Regional English:
twistification (noun): a dance or quasi-dance with partners in facing columns; a party at which this and similar dances are danced
sno-go (noun, verb): a snowmobile; to travel or transport by snowmobile
Hualapai tiger (noun): a medium to large-sized, usually black predatory bug of the family Reduviidae, also called an assassin bug
rusty lizard (noun): a fence lizard
dingy (adjective): foolish, silly, crazy
dagwood (noun): a large sandwich, layered with various ingredients
glawackus (noun): an imaginary monster
mung you (pronoun): you all
scaper (noun): a rascal; a critter, varmint
jook (noun): a hidden or sheltered place; an isolated stand of trees
nani (adjective): beautiful
whistle pig (noun): a marmot, especially the woodchuck; a ground squirrel; a prairie dog
bube (noun): a boy; a baby
pully bone (noun): wishbone
storm cave (noun): cellar
doodinkus (noun): something whose name is unknown or forgotten; a gadget
dry-land fish (noun): an edible mushroom, usually a morel
king cake (noun): a party cake, usually made for Mardi Gras season, containing an object used to determine the “king” or host of a succeeding party
tunklehead (noun): a fool
papershell (noun): a molted crab whose shell is just beginning to harden
hosey (verb): to stake a claim or reserve a right to (something); to choose; the claim so made
ya hey (interjection): used variously as an affirmation, greeting or attention-getter
ishy (adjective): icky
crab-apple switch (noun): a large pocket knife
eversharp (noun): any mechanical pencil
lamb licker (noun): a sheepherder or lamber
waddy (noun): a cowboy, ranch hand
cow country (noun): a rural place, “the sticks”
baster (noun): an extraordinarily large or vigorous example of its kind; used as a mildly derogatory or affectionate term for a person or animal
Jersey devil (noun): an imaginary monster; a hobgoblin
majordomo (noun): the overseer of a ranch or mission; a person in charge of a group or project
gooney (noun): a stupid, awkward person
gee-haw whimmeydiddle (noun): folk toy
hot dish (noun): a casserole or main dish
devil’s strip (noun): the strip of grass and trees between the sidewalk and the curb
turd-floater (noun): a heavy rain
thunder egg (noun): a geode
grinnie (noun): chipmunk or ground squirrel
stuffie (noun): a clamshell (especially that of a quahog) filled with a mixture of chopped clams and other ingredients and baked
sand chicken (noun): a small shore bird
slushburger (noun): a sloppy joe
oodlins (noun): a great quantity
Juneteenth (noun): June 19th, celebrated as the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in Texas on that date in 1865
snowdrop (noun): a wood anemone (here: Anemone quinquefolia) or the closely related rue anemone
leaf peeper (noun): a tourist who comes to view autumn foliage
flosh (verb): to spill, splash; to cause to splash up, agitate
geoduck (noun): a large edible clam
slicky slide (noun): a playground slide
inso (interrogative, exclamation): Isn’t that so? Don’t you agree?
coulee (noun): a valley or depression between hills
Screenshots of new USDA Ethics App, as unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue unveiled a new mobile application for Apple and Android devices to provide Executive Branch employees answers to questions about government ethics issues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ethics App is the first of its kind in the federal government and reaffirms Perdue’s commitment to applying President Trump’s government-wide ethics standards to the department.
“On my first day as Secretary of Agriculture, I emphasized USDA’s firm commitment to maintaining the highest degree of integrity and ethical behavior in keeping with President Trump’s ethics pledge,” Perdue wrote in an email to all USDA staff to announce the application. “As public servants, our greater understanding of these important rules will help serve USDA’s mission and our new motto to ‘Do right and feed everyone’ so that we enhance the American public’s confidence in the integrity and important work of the Department of Agriculture.”
The Ethics App brings to users’ fingertips short, easy-to-read summaries of federal ethics rules and Hatch Act limitations on political activity. It includes a comprehensive video library so that officials can quickly become familiar with these important rules at any time, whether in the office, off-site, or on official travel. It also contains a resources section so USDA employees can readily contact an ethics advisor at USDA. The groundbreaking application was designed to make compliance with the federal ethics rules a one-stop-shop for USDA employees, but the app is available to anyone with Android devices or Apple devices.
Note: You may find additional USDA ethics resources on the Office of Ethics webpage on the USDA website.
BWC proposes rate cut for Ohio local governments
COLUMBUS – School districts, cities and other Ohio local government employers could see a 6.1 percent reduction in their workers’ compensation premiums beginning Jan. 1.
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison asked BWC’s Board of Directors today to grant the reduction for Ohio’s 3,700 public entities covered by BWC.
“This rate cut demonstrates our commitment to maintaining low rates for public employers and the communities they serve,” said Morrison. “A number of factors make the reduction possible, including declining claims and a favorable forecast for future average claim costs.”
The board discussed the proposal today during its actuarial committee meeting. If it approves the reduction at its Sept. 28 meeting, public employers will pay $11.8 million less in premiums than in 2017. The cut would also bring the total decrease to local government rates since the start of 2011 to 33.9 percent for a combined statewide financial impact of $434 million. BWC also delivered more than $135 million in “Third Billion Back” rebate checks to these employers last month.
The decrease represents a reduction to the statewide average of the collectible rates for public employer taxing districts. Actual premium changes for individual public entities will differ based on several factors, including their manual classification, recent claims history and program participation.
‘Voluntary’ workplace wellness programs dealt setback by U.S. court
By Sharon Begley @sxbegle
August 23, 2017
A federal court on Tuesday threw out a rule allowing employers to call their workplace wellness programs “voluntary” when employees stand to lose thousands of dollars for not participating — a win for groups that challenged what they argue are coercive programs that have not been shown to improve employees’ health.
The ruling, a summary judgment for the group that challenged the federal rule, orders the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to come up with a “reasoned explanation” for deeming workplace wellness programs voluntary even if the programs impose steep penalties on workers who opt out, calling the absence of such an explanation when the EEOC issued its rule last year “a serious failing.”
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in an opinion by Judge John Bates, allows the 2016 EEOC rules to stay in place for now, however. Immediately unwinding the penalties and incentives in workplace wellness programs, which are built into employer-based health insurance plans, would be too disruptive, he ruled, since those plans have been in effect for months.
“Employees who received incentives from their employers would presumably be obligated to pay these back, which may not be feasible for many; employers who imposed a penalty rather than an incentive would likewise be obligated to repay to employees the cost of the penalty, which again, may or may not be feasible,” he said. In addition, “any employees who have chosen to disclose their protected medical information have already done so; this information cannot be made confidential again.”
EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic told STAT that the agency is “assessing the impact of the court’s decision and order, and options with respect to these regulations going forward.” Deborah Chalfie of AARP, the group that challenged the EEOC, said it “will be difficult” for the agency to come up with a “reasoned explanation” for its view on what makes a workplace wellness program voluntary (or not) “given the judge’s decision.”
The ruling “is unlikely to be the end of the story and for now nothing changes for employer wellness initiatives,” said Steven Wojcik, vice president for public policy at the National Business Group on Health, an association for large employers which supports the wellness programs. “Though the EEOC rules are not perfect, they do clarify underlying ambiguities in the law and have helped assure that employees and their families can benefit from these programs that promote their well-being.”
The controversy over the meaning of “voluntary” stems from apparent conflicts among at least three landmark laws. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) both prohibit employers from asking for or collecting medical or genetic information from employees. But the ADA allows employers to conduct medical examinations and collect employee medical history as part of an “employee health program,” as long as participation in the program is “voluntary” — a term the law does not define. GINA has an analogous prohibition on employers asking for, requiring, or purchasing “genetic information” from employees, again with a carve-out for a “voluntary” (again, undefined) wellness program.
Because the EEOC administers both ADA and GINA, it stepped in to define “voluntary” in the context of workplace wellness programs. The programs have become increasingly popular as employers seek ways to reduce their health care spending. In addition, the Affordable Care Act allows employers to offer even higher workplace-wellness incentives than had previously been permitted. Last year, the agency issued a rule saying that “use of a penalty or incentive of up to 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage will not render ‘involuntary’ a wellness program that seeks the disclosure” of workers’ ADA- and GINA-protected medical or genetic information.
AARP, the membership organization for older Americans, filed its lawsuit challenging that rule last in October. The group argued that when employers are permitted to offer incentives to participate in workplace wellness programs — which often require workers to take blood tests, report their weight and blood pressure and other “biometrics,” and disclose other information that landmark laws made private — those programs are not “voluntary,” since workers who cannot afford the penalty will be forced to disclose health and genetic information that they would otherwise choose not to share with their employer.
AARP spokesman David Nathan said the group “is very pleased with this victory for workers’ rights. The court’s opinion thoroughly dismantled the agency’s reasoning, and we expect the agency to have a tough time justifying this rule or a similar one while staying faithful to the purpose of the civil rights statutes.”
In issuing a summary judgment against the EEOC, the court noted that the agency had long viewed the use of incentives for workplace wellness participation as making such participation no longer truly voluntary, and took the agency to task for not explaining why, in its 2016 rule, it reversed course. “The Court can find nothing … that explains the agency’s conclusion that the 30 percent incentive level is the appropriate measure for voluntariness,” Bates wrote. The penalty for not giving an employer medical information “is the equivalent of several months’ worth of food for the average family, two months of child care in most states, and roughly two months’ rent,” suggesting that such steep penalties make workplace wellness participation less than voluntary.
Business groups that support workplace wellness programs are working with congressional Republicans on legislation that would remove the restraints that the ADA and GINA place on the programs. It is not clear if congressional leaders plan to move the bill, H.R. 1313, forward when they return to Washington next month.
Attorney Barbara Zabawa, president of the Wisconsin-based Center for Health and Wellness Law, said she “was surprised that the Court found the EEOC’s administrative rules to be arbitrary and capricious.” Recent U.S. Supreme Court cases have deferred to federal agencies’ interpretations of what various laws allow. But President Trump’s appointee, Neil Gorsuch, “is known to have questioned the validity” of such deference, Zabawa said, raising the possibility that “courts will be more critical of an agency’s interpretation.”
Two Ohio restaurant owners convicted for cheating workers’ comp system
Each owes BWC more than $9,400
COLUMBUS — The owner of a central Ohio restaurant must reimburse the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) $9,406 after his former employer accused him of cheating the agency.
Mark J. Cothern, of Danville, Ohio, in Knox County, also must serve three years probation after pleading guilty Aug. 11 to one fifth-degree felony count of attempted workers’ compensation fraud in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas. Investigators found Cothern, who was injured while working for a Mount Vernon employer in 2014, was receiving BWC benefits while working at his restaurant in Danville, the Score-board Drive-in.
“We conducted multiple undercover and surveillance operations, which supported the allegation we received,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s special investigations department.
In other news, the owner of a northeast Ohio restaurant pleaded guilty Aug. 18 to a second-degree misdemeanor count of failure to comply after he refused to cooperate with BWC to reinstate his workers’ comp coverage.
Elton Rista must pay BWC for back premiums totaling $9,478 for operating his Avon Lake restaurant without workers’ compensation coverage from June 30, 2011 through Aug. 7, 2015. He was also sentenced to two years of community control.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.
Exxon Mobil ‘Misled’ Public On Climate Change For 40 Years, Harvard Study Finds
Researchers found a “systematic, quantifiable discrepancy” between what the oil giant said about climate change in private versus what it told the public.
By Dominique Mosbergen
Exxon Mobil Corp. deliberately deceived the public about the dangers of climate change for four decades, a new Harvard University study finds.
For the peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters Wednesday, two Harvard researchers analyzed nearly 200 documents related to Exxon Mobil’s climate change communications. The researchers found that America’s largest oil producer had repeatedly made “explicit factual misrepresentations” about global warming in advertisements aimed at the general public, while simultaneously acknowledging its risks behind closed doors.
“Our findings are clear: Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications,” study authors Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran wrote in a New York Times op-ed this week. “Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.”
The discrepancy, the researchers said, was staggering. About 80 percent of Exxon Mobil’s research and internal memos acknowledged that climate change was real and caused by humans. However, 80 percent of the company’s newspaper ads regarding climate change questioned this fact, the study found.
An internal Exxon Mobil memo penned in 1979, for instance, acknowledged a possible link between fossil fuel combustion and an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Another memo from 1982 described “potentially catastrophic events” that could arise from climate change, such as the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet.
A peer-reviewed study conducted by Exxon Mobil scientists in the 1990s concluded “the body of evidence … now points towards a discernible human influence on global climate.” Another one from 2002 found that limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could be needed to “forestall coral reef bleaching, thermohaline circulation shutdown, and sea level rise.”
But in 1997, the same year that the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, Exxon Mobil released an ad that called the science of climate change “too uncertain to mandate a plan of action that could plunge economies into turmoil.” A 2000 Exxon Mobil advertorial in The New York Times described climate change as an “unsettled science.”
The oil giant has previously defended itself by saying that it has never “suppressed climate change research.” But Oreskes and Supran said in their study that “the question is not whether Exxon Mobil ‘suppressed climate change research,’ but rather how they communicated about it.”
Exxon Mobil’s peer-reviewed studies about climate change weren’t widely distributed or readily available to the general public, while their ads were meant to reach millions, the researchers noted.
The company had “really good scientists,” Oreskes, a history of science professor, told the Times. “That finding then makes the contrast with the advertorials that much more notable.”
Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., has called for a carbon tax since taking over from Rex Tillerson, who left the company to become secretary of state. Exxon Mobil called the Harvard study findings “inaccurate.”
The study comes as Exxon Mobil faces several lawsuits and investigations related to its transparency, or lack thereof, regarding climate science.
Reacting to the Harvard study, Exxon Mobil called the research “inaccurate and preposterous.”
“Our statements have been consistent with our understanding of climate science,” said spokesman Scott Silvestri in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse news agency.
Silvestri added that the researchers had “cherry-picked” data to “attack” Exxon Mobil’s reputation. Speaking to the Times, he highlighted two Exxon Mobil ads that had suggested that climate change “may pose” long-term risks.
The scientists, however, rejected Silvestri’s claim. Supran told AFP that they’d “looked at the whole cherry tree” in their research, including the ads that the spokesman had mentioned.
While Exxon Mobil did publish some ads that suggested potential risks associated with global warming, the “predominant stance taken [in the company’s climate change] advertorials is ‘Doubt,’” said the study, which was funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund.
Following the publication of the Harvard paper on Wednesday and the related op-ed, the hashtag #ExxonKnew began appearing on social media. The hashtag first gained popularity in 2015 after InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times published reports alleging that the oil had purposefully covered up what it knew about climate change.
Since then, numerous investigations at the state and federal level have been launched and lawsuits have been filed related to whether Exxon Mobil deceived the public or its investors about the risks posed by climate change, both to the environment and to its business.
Last month, three communities in California sued 37 oil, gas and coal companies including Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron for their alleged contributions to sea level rise and for concealing the hazards posed by global warming.
The companies “have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” the complaint reads. ″They have nevertheless engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats, discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence, and persistently create doubt in the minds of customers, consumers, regulators, the media, journalists, teachers, and the public about the reality and consequences of the impacts of their fossil fuel pollution.”
Contractor Accused of Violating Ohio Consumer Protection Laws
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a consumer protection lawsuit against a Columbus-based general contractor accused of failing to deliver promised home improvement services.
The lawsuit accuses Weylin Stewart of Leadway General Contracting and Construction Managment, Inc. of taking an estimated $30,000 from consumers but failing to complete work, provide requested refunds, and, in some cases, performing shoddy work.
Consumers who complained to the Attorney General’s Office said they signed contracts and paid deposits; however, work was left incomplete.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, accuses Stewart of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act. Counts include: failure to deliver, performing shoddy work, failure to give consumers notice of their right to cancel their contract, and failure to give consumers a cancellation form.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks restitution for consumers and an end to any violations of Ohio consumer protection laws.
Attorney General DeWine encourages consumers to research home improvement contractors carefully before making any payments. Consumers should check both the company name and the name of the owner or individuals involved with the operation, as some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to find their record of shoddy work.
To research a contractor, search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau, check business filings with the Ohio Secretary of State, conduct internet searches, check court websites for legal action, and talk to past customers to learn about their experiences with the contractor.
Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
Ohio AG’s Office Awarded Best Brief Honors
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced his office was awarded Best Brief awards from the National Association for Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) during their recent awards cycles.
In June, NAAG presented the Best Brief Supreme Court honor to Eric Murphy, the state solicitor and head of the Attorney General’s Appeals Section. Murphy filed a brief regarding the National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, et al., which litigated the “Waters of the United States” rule. Ohio contended that the federal government went too far in stating which bodies of water it had the authority to regulate. This is the third consecutive year that the Attorney General’s Office has won Best Brief in this category.
This spring, the OSBA’s Best Public Brief award went to Assistant Attorneys General Zach Keller, Jordan Berman and Ryan Richardson. According to the OSBA, the team drafted one of the best public briefs defending the Ohio Ballot Board’s ballot language for the 2015 statewide issue to legalize marijuana, also known as “ResponsibleOhio.”
“I am proud that some of our state’s brightest attorneys serve the people of Ohio through the Attorney General’s office,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We have highly skilled litigators and writers on our team, and I am pleased that their skills are being recognized.”
Audit Reports Released
Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office is responsible for auditing all public entities in Ohio. His mission is to protect Ohioans’ tax dollars while aggressively fighting fraud, waste and misuse of public money.
Audit reports are released semi-weekly. The following audits will be released Tuesday, August 29, 2017. Entities earning the Auditor of State Award are bold and italicized. If there are findings for recovery in an audit or determinations that money was improperly spent and must be repaid, that audit will be marked by an asterisk. Audits with Medicaid findings will be marked with a plus sign (+).
A full copy of each report is available online.
Berwyn East Academy
City of Upper Arlington
City of Westerville
Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism
Ohio Department of Aging
Ohio Judicial Conference
Ohio Occupational, Physical Therapy and Athletic Trainers Board
Ohio Office of The Inspector General
Ohio Retirement Study Council
Ohio St. Bd. of Registration for Professional Engineers & Surveyors
Ohio State Chiropractic Board
City of Mount Vernon
Salt Creek Township
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.