Opinions differ in Ohio on when judge becomes ‘candidate’
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
Saturday, June 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Then-Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill’s decision last year to remain on the court well after announcing his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination prompted a storm of controversy. Response to the court’s proposed fix was less enthusiastic.
Only six people submitted comments in response to a proposal to clarify Ohio’s rules governing the legal profession to make clear that sitting judges who launch campaigns for non-judicial office must step down from the bench immediately.
Court spokesman Ed Miller said justices are weighing all the comments and haven’t yet set a date for released revisions.
The feedback, obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, ranged from praise to constructive input to derision.
“There is absolutely no reason to change the current application,” wrote commenter Kim Beem. “Justice O’Neill used the rule as it was designed. Changing it now would simply serve to create unnecessary questions about O’Neill’s approach. This change is clearly political in an effort to discredit a liberal justice who happens to be a Democrat. It’s a shamefully childish approach.”
O’Neill, who lost his bid in the May primary, had announced his candidacy last Oct. 29 and set a retirement date for months later, on Jan. 26.
Suggestions that he should step down began immediately, as lawyers around the state — including Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor — pointed to the prohibition against campaigning for non-judicial office while acting as a judge.
O’Neill insisted that he wasn’t yet a “candidate” under Ohio’s rules of judicial conduct because he hadn’t yet filed the necessary paperwork. Opponents of O’Neill’s approach — including lawmakers and some other statewide candidates — argued he was clearly engaging in campaigning and the paperwork shouldn’t be the bar for candidacy.
State Rep. Niraj Antani, a Miamisburg Republican, started formal removal proceedings against O’Neill for violating the rule, though O’Neill had retired by the time the ball got rolling.
The proposed rule change makes explicit that a judge becomes a “candidate” when the judge has made a public announcement of candidacy, declared or filed as a candidate, or begun soliciting contributions.
In his public comment, David Gormley, of Delaware County, said perhaps justices could use the gathering of signatures on candidacy forms as the trigger for leaving the bench. He said some county party leaders have remained on the central committee while gathering signatures for a judicial seat.
“Some persons take the view that those folks are not in fact running for a judicial office until the petition is filed with the county board of elections,” he wrote. “But I think that the very act of gathering petition signatures indicates that the person is acting as a judicial candidate” and so should resign.
Eric Brewer, of Cleveland, told justices in his comments that changing the definition of a candidate is a job for the General Assembly.
“The idea that the court would try to redefine ‘candidacy’ as a ‘rule’ to fit the whims of the judiciary is constitutionally offensive,” he wrote.
In her comments, Ohio State Bar Association CEO and Executive Director Mary Amos Augsburger said it would be good to spell out, for example, that having a campaign logo, website and policy platform “constitute public actions taken in furtherance of a candidacy,” while establishing an exploratory committee or talking with potential supporters, donors or political party leaders about a run do not.
But she urged justices not to define “candidate” too narrowly in the final rule. “(I)t should be made clear that these just that — examples — and should not be interpreted to be a complete list of all public actions that could impact whether someone is deemed a candidate…”
Ohio nurses seek relief from overwork and burnout
CLEVELAND (AP) — Some Ohio nurses say stress and staff shortages are burning them out and patient care is suffering.
The Plain Dealer reports the concerns are echoed by nurses across the state who say they love what they do but are overburdened by low staffing levels, greater numbers of patients and added responsibilities.
Some nurses consider leaving the profession, while others find ways to manage the stress. And they worry about what these issues mean for patients and the quality of care they receive.
Nationwide, 82 percent of nurses consider workplace stress the biggest risk to their health, according to the American Nurses Association’s Health Risk Appraisal. And about 57 percent say they work extra hours — before or after work or during lunch and breaks — to handle their workload, according to the ANA survey, which was completed by 10,688 nurses and nursing students.
Yet the number of patients continues to grow and, with it, the burden on nurses. People are living longer thanks to medical advances, and some are coming in with increasingly more complex medical issues. In addition, hundreds of thousands of patients in the state gained insurance coverage under the Barack Obama administration’s health care overhaul and Ohio’s Medicaid expansion.
“Our patients are more complex, and they’re sicker,” said Kelly Hancock, executive chief nursing officer for the Cleveland Clinic Health System and chief nursing officer for Cleveland Clinic Main Campus.
The Clinic saw 1.9 million unique patients in 2016, a 4 percent increase from the previous year.
By 2020, Northeast Ohio will have a nursing shortage of 3,500, according to the Center for Health Affairs Northeast Ohio Nursing Initiative’s Nursing Forecaster.
To fill that gap, hospitals are working with local colleges to prepare new nurses to enter the workforce, hosting recruiting fairs and hiring support staff to help with some aspects of patient care. But hospitals also are trying to operate more efficiently.
Brian Burger, president of the Ohio Nurses Association and a nurse practitioner at Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Cincinnati, said one of the biggest contributors to burnout is the nurse-to-patient ratio. Hospitals need to factor in how much care a patient will need when deciding how many nurses to staff a unit, he said.
“Just managing it by strict ratios isn’t enough; you need acuity as well,” said Burger. “A nurse having more patients leads to medical errors. It leads to hospital re-admissions. It leads to more money than just being proactive and having more staff in the hospitals.”
Ohio State to expand unprecedented affordability commitment
Ohio State University
University will cover full cost of tuition for Ohio Pell students at regional campuses, extending reach of program set to begin in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Low- and moderate-income students at Ohio State’s five regional campuses soon will have unprecedented support to cover the cost of their tuition and mandatory fees.
Starting in spring 2019, the university will commit up to $3 million a year in additional financial aid to meet the tuition and mandatory fee needs of regional campus students who are from Ohio, qualify for federal Pell Grants and have successfully begun their college career. To be eligible, students must have successfully completed the equivalent of at least one semester and initiated or completed a student-success course.
The Buckeye Opportunity Program, which is expected to benefit 3,000 students on the Columbus campus this fall, was announced in September. A pilot expansion of the program, announced today, will support an additional 1,200 students in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark and at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.
“Our campuses throughout Ohio are vital to the ways we provide ever-increasing access to an affordable and excellent Buckeye education,” said President Michael V. Drake.
“Expanding our tuition-coverage program will help ensure even more Ohio families have the opportunity to advance their lives and communities through higher education.”
Ohio State has committed more than $100 million in additional need-based aid since 2015, well exceeding Drake’s stated goal of reaching that number by 2020. Expanding the Buckeye Opportunity Program to all regional campuses is the latest step in Ohio State’s commitment to providing greater access, affordability and excellence for students and families — a key element of the university’s Time and Change strategic plan.
As regional campuses are open access, the implementation of the program is being customized to ensure its sustainability and to reflect the dynamics of the student bodies.
To participate, Pell-eligible students on regional campuses must be enrolled full time, have completed a full-time course load toward an Ohio State degree, and have successfully completed the University Survey course or be enrolled in the course for spring 2019. The course, required of all undergraduates in the first term of enrollment, is designed to help students assess their interests and plan their progress toward a degree.
Students will receive more information about the Buckeye Opportunity Program and notification about financial aid awards prior to spring semester 2019.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 90 percent of Pell recipients have an annual household income of $50,000 or less. The Buckeye Opportunity Program will use institutional aid to cover any gap that remains after federal and state aid are applied toward Spring 2019 tuition and mandatory fees at regional campuses.