Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect pleads not guilty
By RAMESH SANTANAM
Monday, February 11
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre pleaded not guilty Monday to a new indictment that added 19 additional counts, but his lawyer expressed hope the case will be resolved without a trial.
Robert Bowers, a truck driver who authorities say gunned down 11 people at Tree of Life Synagogue, appeared in federal court with his new lawyer, prominent death penalty litigator Judy Clarke, who signaled that Bowers might be open to some sort of plea. Clarke’s past clients have included one the Boston Marathon bombers, a 9/11 conspirator and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
Bowers, who was shackled, said little, giving yes or no answers.
A grand jury on Jan. 29 added 19 counts to the 44 Bowers was already facing. The additional charges include hate crimes violations, obstruction of religious belief and the use of a firearm during crimes of violence.
Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pennsylvania, is accused of targeting worshipers from three Jewish congregations when he attacked Saturday, Oct. 27, while Sabbath services were being held.
Seven people were wounded, including five police officers.
Investigators say Bowers posted criticism of a Jewish charity on social media before the attack, claiming the immigrant aid society “likes to bring invaders that kill our people.” Authorities said he told investigators that “all these Jews need to die.”
Bowers has been jailed in the Butler County Prison, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) north of the shooting scene. If convicted of the most serious offenses, he could be sentenced to life without parole.
A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said a decision about whether to pursue the death penalty against Bowers remains under review.
Donna Coufal, a member of the Dor Hadash congregation that occupies space at Tree of Life, said she attended Monday’s arraignment “to bear witness. It’s been a painful time, but we remain strong as a community.”
PUCO Nominating Council seeks applicants for commissioner position
COLUMBUS, OHIO (Feb. 11, 2019) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Nominating Council is seeking applications for the position of commissioner of the PUCO to fill the a vacancy for the unexpired term commencing upon appointment by the governor and ending on April 10, 2021. Applications must be delivered to the Nominating Council no later than 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 28, 2019.
The PUCO Nominating Council is a broad-based 12-member panel that screens candidates for the position of PUCO commissioner. The PUCO is comprised of five commissioners appointed to rotating, five-year terms by the governor. The commissioners are responsible for regulating Ohio’s investor-owned public utilities.
After reviewing the résumés of all applicants, the Nominating Council will narrow the list to those most qualified for the position. On March 14, 2019, the Nominating Council will meet to interview the selected applicants and recommend four finalists to Gov. Mike DeWine. The governor will have 30 days to either appoint a commissioner from the list or request a new list from the Nominating Council. The governor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Ohio Senate.
The full text of the commissioner position posting is provided below. For additional information about the PUCO appointment process please visit www.PUCO.ohio.gov.
COMMISSIONER PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF OHIO
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Council is seeking applications for the position of commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to fill the a vacancy for the unexpired term commencing upon appointment by the Governor and ending on April 10, 2021. This is a full-time position with a salary range of $73,715 to $190,486. The commissioner’s actual salary will be determined by the Governor. The normal state of Ohio benefits package will be provided.
The Public Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating investor-owned public utilities in the state of Ohio. Section 4901.02(D) of the Ohio Revised Code requires that a commissioner have a minimum of three years’ experience in one or more of the following fields: economics, law, finance, accounting, engineering, physical or natural sciences, natural resources, or environmental studies. No person employed by a public utility subject to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission or holding stocks or bonds of a regulated public utility may be appointed a commissioner. A commissioner must be a resident of Ohio.
The Revised Code also specifies that the Commission may consist of no more than three members of the same political affiliation. Political affiliation is based upon one’s vote in the last primary election as defined under Sections 3513.19 and 3513.05, Revised Code. Based upon the present composition of the Commission, the position may be filled by an applicant of any political affiliation. Successful candidates must undergo a background check by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Applicants are required to send 16 copies of a current resume with a one-page cover letter attached to each resume. The cover letter and resume shall be stapled once in the upper left-hand corner. In the cover letter, the applicant must (1) indicate the applicant’s expertise in the areas of energy, transportation, or communications technology, if any; (2) explain why the applicant’s prior experience makes him or her qualified to be a commissioner or why the applicant is otherwise qualified to be a commissioner; and (3) state his or her political party affiliation or independent status.
Resumes shall be sent to: Public Utilities Commission Nominating Council, c/o Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, 180 E. Broad Street, 11th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3793. For further information, contact the Nominating Council coordinator, Angela Hawkins, at (614) 466-0122.
Information regarding the position and application requirements may also be found at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio website: www.PUCO.ohio.gov.
Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., Thursday, February 28, 2019. Mailed or hand-delivered applications must be received by that time. Faxed applications will not be considered.
The members of the Public Utilities Commission Nominating Council will review the applications and select individuals to be interviewed for the position. Interested persons may submit comments to the members of the Nominating Council regarding any of the applicants. Comments should be submitted to the Nominating Council coordinator. Persons interested in receiving a list of the names of persons submitting applications or selected to be interviewed should notify the Nominating Council coordinator at the above address or telephone number. The Nominating Council will determine the four most qualified persons for the position and submit those names to Governor DeWine who will then select the commissioner.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.
FEB. 11, 2019
Brown named top Democrat on House Civil Justice Committee
Lawmaker also assigned to Armed Services & Veterans Affairs and Insurance Committees
COLUMBUS—State Rep. Richard D. Brown (D-Canal Winchester) was named the Ranking Democrat on the Ohio House Civil Justice Committee Friday.
“I am honored to have been selected for this important responsibility, and look forward to working together to improve our civil justice system to benefit families both in my district and around the state,” said Brown.
In addition, Rep. Brown was reappointed to the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee and assigned to the Insurance Committee.
“I am pleased to return to the Armed Services committee to continue my work to better the lives of Ohio’s veterans, and am excited for the new task of representing hardworking Ohioans on the Insurance Committee,” Brown stated.
Senators make a bipartisan push to limit Trump’s trade powers
As President Donald Trump prepares to once again make a bipartisan appeal in his State of the Union address Tuesday, members of Congress are linking arms on one of his favorite issues: trade.
Yet they’re working against the president, seeking to limit his authority to impose tariffs unilaterally on national security grounds, as he did last year on steel and aluminum, sparking a dispute with the European Union and alienating close partners such as Canada and Mexico.
Multiple Republican lawmakers are working alongside Democrats to put forward legislation curtailing Trump’s existing national security tariff powers. They include Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who recently introduced a bill with Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner that would require congressional approval to impose trade restrictions for national security reasons.
“It is not impossible for there to be a very good reason to use trade measures in response to a genuine national security threat,” Toomey told reporters after introducing the bill. “However, we have seen this administration use this tool in a way that was never intended.”
Even as Trump and some of his closest GOP allies in the House continue to push for the US Reciprocal Trade Act, which would give the president authority to raise tariffs in response to various duties and trade barriers American products face abroad, senators are renewing their efforts to challenge the White House’s approach after a bruising year of escalating trade fights, including a painful tit-for-tat trade war with China that cost US farmers and importers while also contributing to economic turmoil in Asia.
Toomey’s bill, a revamped version of legislation initially introduced by former Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker — a frequent Trump antagonist before his retirement last year — expands on the legislation by granting the Defense Department, rather than the Department of Commerce, the power to investigate whether different goods threaten national security.
Toomey’s bill would also provide a narrow definition of “national security” and would limit the items that can be considered under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to those related to military equipment, energy resources, and critical infrastructure.
Toomey and Warner have nine cosponsors in the Senate, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a companion bill in the House, but proponents could find the same uphill climb Corker faced last year. His original legislation never got a full vote in the Senate, though it passed 88-11 as a non-binding, symbolic measure in July.
But they’re not the only game in town. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman says he plans to reintroduce a more moderate bill with Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones as early as Wednesday that would preserve the president’s flexibility under the provision, while still increasing oversight of decisions citing national security concerns.
While Toomey’s bill would require Congress to approve any new trade restrictions, Portman — a former U.S. trade representative — would leave wiggle room for the White House by allowing Congress to disapprove of such tariffs only after the fact.
Portman’s approach would also put the Defense Department in charge of determining national security threats under Section 232 but would not rescind Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, a point that could win over more labor-friendly Democrats.
Portman expressed optimism in an interview Monday that the bill could receive a hearing and mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee now that Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley is chair. Grassley hasn’t endorsed one bill or another, but in December he pointed to Portman’s bill as “a prudent starting point for the discussion we need to have on Section 232 authority in the next Congress.”
“It’s important to actually accomplish something here, and that will require us to have a proposal that retains the tool and makes it workable, but also narrows it to its original purpose, which was for real national security crises,” said Portman.
Republicans for the most part remain hesitant to split with the President, and Democratic leaders may be unwilling to provoke steel interests by passing a bill that would lead to the removal of Trump’s current tariffs.
Others argue that Congress delegated such powers to the White House because the President needs to have a degree of autonomy to make key trade decisions.
“With trade policy, we’ve given the president authority, and just because they don’t like what this President does on tariffs — I don’t either like the way he’s done it — but I like that the President has the power on tariffs,” Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, who is eying a potential 2020 run, told CNN Monday night. “Because you have to be more agile and nimble than this Congress can be on something like that.”
That drew a joke from fellow Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who was walking with Brown and quipped: “Now that he’s going to be president, he’s all into presidential power now.”
(Senators make a bipartisan push to limit Trump’s trade powers. CNN. February 5, 2019.)
Hejmanowski Named to Government’s Top Juvenile Law Board
DELAWARE, Ohio — Delaware County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski has been named to the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, the federal committee that directly advises the White House and Congress on juvenile justice issues. Created by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, the committee meets four times per year, three electronically and one in person. Hejmanowski will join the board at their Washington meeting on March 22.
The FACJJ consists of only 28 members, who are chosen based on their knowledge and experience in the area of juvenile law, and selected to be geographically and demographically diverse. The committee includes law professors, psychologists, prosecutors, defense attorneys and child advocates. Judge Hejmanowski will be one of only three sitting juvenile court judges on the board, and was selected for that honor out of more than 3,000 juvenile and family court judges in the United States. He will be the only representative from Ohio.
“Our understanding of juvenile justice, and particularly of the role of adolescent brain development in juvenile behavior, has changed dramatically in the 20 years I’ve been practicing law,” Hejmanowski said. “In an era in which our financial resources are stretched so thin, and in which there are so many worthwhile needs, it is important that we make sure those limited resources are being used wisely and in programs where they can do the most good. I’m thrilled to have one small voice in policy-making in that area, particularly since I can do it while only having to be away from the court one day a year.”
Hejmanowski was also recently appointed to the advisory board of the research oriented National Center for Juvenile Justice, re-appointed to Ohio’s Governor’s Council on Juvenile Justice, and was also recently reappointed to the National Council of Juvenile Family Court Judges curriculum committee, which plans educational offerings for more than 30,000 professionals in the juvenile justice system across the United States. He currently serves on 14 boards or commissions at the local, state or national level, serving as chair or vice-chair of six of them.
For more information about the Delaware County’s Juvenile Court, please go to: https://juvenile.co.delaware.oh.us/.
FEB. 11, 2019
Rep. Miller announces $111 million state investment in Hilltop
COLUMBUS—State Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) today announced the Controlling Board approved the release of $110 million in state investments for two major projects in Columbus’s west side Hilltop neighborhood, including $110 million in facility funding at the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Hospital and more than $1.2 million for the Housing Development Assistance Program’s Hilltop City Cottages Project.
“Investing in neighborhoods is more than investing in steel and concrete, it’s investing in the people that make it a community,” said Rep. Miller. “These projects will provide much-needed services, create jobs and continue historic revitalization efforts on the city’s west side.”
Both projects will provide massive state investment in the West Columbus Hilltop neighborhood, including more than $110 million to replace the Kosar civil hospital facility at the Hilltop’s Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Hospital and $1.2 million for the Housing Development Assistance Program’s Hilltop City Cottages Project.
Twin Valley provides recovery-based, comprehensive, quality, cost-effective mental health services to adults with a severe mental illness in a secure inpatient setting. They work collaboratively with mental health centers to link patients with an outpatient treatment team or their own psychiatrist to maintain their progress in their community.
The City Cottages project includes funding for the construction of six rental homes on land bank sites in the North Hilltop neighborhood of Columbus. Construction is scheduled to begin this year. The project is funded, in part, by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which provides funding for the development, rehabilitation and financing of low- to moderate-income housing. It is an independent state agency.
The State Controlling Board is a joint committee of the Ohio General Assembly that performs legislative oversight over capital and operating expenditures by state agencies.
POISON CONTROL CENTERS RECEIVE 10 CALLS EVERY HOUR FOR EYE EXPOSURES
RESEARCHERS REMIND PARENTS TO USE CHILD-RESISTANT CONTAINERS AND STORE DANGEROUS PRODUCTS UP, AWAY, AND OUT OF SIGHT
Columbus,OH – 02/11/2019
A new study published recently by Ophthalmic Epidemiology and conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that from 2000 through 2016 there were nearly 1.5 million calls to US poison centers for eye exposures associated with pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical substances. This averages about 7,000 exposures per month or ten exposures every hour. The annual frequency of eye exposures declined significantly (by 37%) from 2006 to 2016.
Most exposures were associated with non-pharmaceutical substances (84%) and occurred at a residence (85%) or workplace (8%). Household cleaning products (22%), cosmetics/personal care products (16%), and pesticides (7%) were the most common substance categories associated with exposures, but exposures to building and construction products (18%), industrial cleaners (15%), and chemicals (14%) resulted in higher percentages of moderate or major effects.
Adults (20 years or older) represented half of exposures (50%), followed by children younger than 6 (30%), children age 6-12 years (11%), and teens (8%). Young children (under 6 years) had the highest exposure rate (10.7 per 10,000), particularly two-year-olds (20.5 per 10,000). Adults had the lowest exposure rate.
Among young children, more than half of the exposures were associated with common household items such as cleaning products (27%) and cosmetics/personal care products (26%).
“Young children are always exploring their environment,” said Henry Spiller, MS, D.ABAT, study author, and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. “Kids aren’t able to recognize danger which is why it’s so important that parents put cleaning products like bleach and spray bottles, and personal care products like sunscreen, insect repellent, makeup, and perfume up, away, and out of sight and reach of curious kids.”
Poison control centers provide lots of information on how to keep children and adults safer and are there to answer questions in case of a suspected exposure. The Central Ohio Poison Center offers these tips for keeping children safer from eye exposure:
Use child-resistant containers. Purchase cleaning products in child-resistant containers and keep all products that contain chemicals in their original containers. Be sure to turn nozzles to their locked position when they’re not in use, and close containers all the way before storing.
Up, away, and out of sight. Store dangerous products safely: up, away, and out of sight – in a locked cabinet is best.
Apply carefully. Be sure to carefully apply products like sunscreen and insect repellent on children’s faces so it does not get into their eyes. Remember, children may sweat, go swimming, or rub their eyes, all of which leave the potential for products to get into their eyes.
Call poison control. If your child gets one of these products in his eye, or you have questions about a possible exposure, call the Poison Help Line: 1-800-222-1222. Save the national Poison Help Line number in your cellphone and post it near your home phones.
Data for this study were obtained from the National Poison Data System, which is maintained by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The AAPCC receives data on calls to regional poison control centers that serve the US and its territories. Poison control centers receive phone calls through the Poison Help Line and document information about the product involved, route of exposure, individual exposed, exposure scenario, and other data.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research at its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, policy, and advances in clinical care. For related injury prevention materials or to learn more about CIRP, visit www.injurycenter.org.
The Central Ohio Poison Center provides state-of-the-art poison prevention, assessment, and treatment to residents in 64 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The center services are available to the public, medical professionals, industry, and human service agencies. The Poison Center handles more than 42,000 poison exposure calls annually, and confidential, free emergency poisoning treatment advice is available 24/7. To learn more about the Poison Center, visit www.bepoisonsmart.org.
First Ohio State woman inducted into National Academy of Engineering
Grejner-Brzezinska has earned international acclaim for work in GPS and navigation
COLUMBUS, Ohio—An Ohio State University engineering professor has become the first woman from the university to be named to the National Academy of Engineering.
Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, associate dean for research in Ohio State’s College of Engineering, was one of 86 new members to receive the honor this year. Grejner-Brzezinska is also a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering.
The Academy cited Grejner-Brzezinska’s contributions to “geodetic science and satellite navigation, including integration with artificial intelligence.”
“Dorota is both an extraordinary scholar and a consummate research leader,” said David B. Williams, dean of the Ohio State College of Engineering. “We are honored to have her in the College of Engineering and thoroughly delighted that her international research leadership has been recognized by the Academy.”
She is the 13th faculty member from Ohio State to be elected to the NAE. Election to the academy is one of the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive, and honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education,” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
Grejner-Brzezinska’s early research helped build more reliable GPS navigation, adding to the body of work that would eventually allow for navigation systems to be built into today’s smartphones. In recent years, she and her research teams have built navigation systems that rely on artificial intelligence and image-based navigation rather than satellite systems alone, allowing for autonomous vehicle navigation and navigation and positioning in confined environments, where GPS signals are not available.
Grejner-Brzezinska came to Ohio State more than 20 years ago as a Fulbright Scholar from Poland intent on studying geodetic science, which, among other things, focuses on the size and shape of the Earth and the estimation of spatial coordinates—two keys to creating reliable global positioning systems. She went on to earn a Ph.D. and become a faculty member at the College of Engineering. She served as chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering for four years prior to becoming the associate dean for research in 2017. She also served as President of the Institute of Navigation (ION). She is an ION Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation.
She said she hopes her award inspires young female engineers.
“I have been there—not thinking that I can make it,” she said. “But what I can tell you is that some of my best students have always been women. And it means a lot to me to show the younger women that we can do it.
“And I hope this will be empowering to women, to say to themselves that they can do it because they are smart and there is really no limit to their talent and imagination. I would say to them: ‘You are all doing the right thing. Just trust your abilities and trust your work.’”
Grejner-Brzezinska and her class will be formally inducted at a ceremony during the academy’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 6.