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Consumer advocates oppose telecom bill

DECEMBER 9, 2009

Consumer advocates oppose telecom bill

The following appeared December 9, 2009 in the Dayton Daily News (DDN). Ellis Jacobs (ABLE) is quoted in the article. Read below, or view on the DDN Web site.

By Laura Bischoff

Advocates for consumers and low-income Ohioans are opposing two telecom reform bills pending in the General Assembly that they say will lead to rate hikes for basic telephone service and weaker consumer protections.

More than 40 groups representing millions of Ohioans on Wednesday Dec. 9 signed onto a letter to state leaders urging defeat House Bill 276 and Senate Bill 162, which are supported by the Ohio Telecom Association.
 

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3 school board races face recount


NOVEMBER 25, 2009

Three school board races face recount
Election officials also agree to reduce the number of precincts.

The following article appeared in the November 24 edition of the Dayton Daily News (DDN). Read the article below, or view the contents on the DDN Web site.

By Lynn Hulsey, Dayton Daily News

DAYTON — Three local board of education races will get automatic recounts, Montgomery County Board of Elections officials said Tuesday, Nov. 24.

The races to be recounted are from board races in the Valley View, Huber Heights and Miamisburg school districts.

Races that finish with margins of one-half of one percentage point qualify for automatic recounts. The counts will be conducted Dec. 2-3.

Also Tuesday, the board of elections approved consolidating the number of voting precincts. The decision reduces the number to 360 from 548. The move will save money on poll workers and materials, cutting county costs by as much as $100,000 for major elections.

Only six of the mergers did not include entire precincts and voters in many cases will not change their polling location, said Steve Harsman, director of the board of elections.
 

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Telephone Companies' Competitors Fight Deregulation Proposal


DECEMBER 9, 2009

Telephone Companies' Competitors Fight Deregulation Proposal

The following is from Gongwer News Service, www.gongwer-oh.com, December 9, 2009.

Wireless, long-distance and cable companies lined up in opposition to a measure designed to deregulate incumbent telephone carriers, telling senators Wednesday that the proposal would give their competitors an unfair advantage.

The Senate Energy & Public Utilities Committee also heard more opposition testimony from consumer advocacy groups that say the bill (SB 162*) would allow telephone companies to gouge low-income consumers. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, December 8, 2009)

Despite urging from an array of telecom companies to delve into competitive issues, Chairman Sen. Chris Widener (R-Springfield) remained doubtful.

"Other states that have gone through the deregulation process have found themselves more successful when they stick to the retail issues between the company and the customer," he said in an interview.

"How do you get into those access rates and the other wholesale issues without trampling on the PUCO's already existing authority, or the FCC's authority, or other interested parties?" he said. "It just hasn't worked in any other state where they've tried to include those issues."
 

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Articles related to lawsuit alleging racial profiling


The following newspapers also published an articles related to the recently filed lawsuit alleging racial profiling of Hispanics in northwest Ohio.  Mark Heller is quoted in these articles, along with Organizational Plaintiff representative Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).

As seen in the Toledo Blade, published December 11, 2009, by Erica Blake

Hispanics claim racial profiling by officers
U.S. Border Patrol, 3 departments named

As seen in the Tiffin Advertiser-Journal, published December 11, 2009, by Erika Platt

Lawsuit charges racial profiling

As seen in the Mansfield News Journal, published December 12, 2009

Plymouth named in race profiling suit

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ABLE sues border patrol, police


As seen December 10, 2009 on Fox Toledo.

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Demanda alega perfiles raciales

Demanda alega perfiles raciales de la
Patrulla Fronteriza y los Departamentos de Policia
del Noroeste de Ohio.

Toledo, OH: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) y la firma de abogados de Murray y Murray, Co. LPA han presentado hoy una demanda colectiva en contra de la Patrulla Fronteriza de los Estados Unidos (Border Patrol) y varios Departamentos de policía locales en el noroeste de Ohio. La demanda alega que la Patrulla Fronteriza y los Departamentos de Policia retienen e interrogan a los hispanos sobre su estado de inmigración basado solamente en su apariencia hispana y que este perfil viola la prohibición de la 4 ª Enmienda en contra de registros y detenciones arbitrarias y garantiza la 5 ª Enmienda el proceso de igualdad y protección de la ley.

ABLE y la firma de abogados de Murray y Murray, de Sandusky, Ohio, representan tanto a los demandantes o los demandantes de organización Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC) y el Proyecto de Trabajadores Inmigrantes (IWP) y sus miembros que han sido detenidos y encarcelados por el Departamento de Policia sin causa probable.
 

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Mobile Benefit Bank event


DECEMBER 10, 2009

Mobile Benefit Bank event at downtown Toledo Library

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is proud to join Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) in co-sponsoring a Mobile Benefit Bank event scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, December 12 in the Wintergarden at Main Library, 325 Michigan St. This public event is FREE.
 

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Lawsuit Alleges Racial Profiling by US Boarder Patrol and Law Enforcement in Northwest Ohio


DECEMBER 10, 2009

Lawsuit Alleges Racial Profiling by US Boarder Patrol
and Law Enforcement in Northwest Ohio

Toledo, OH: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) and the law firm of Murray and Murray, Co. L.P.A have filed a class action complaint today against the United States Border Patrol and several local law enforcement agencies in northwest Ohio.  The suit alleges that the Border Patrol and agencies restrain and interrogate Hispanics about their immigration status based solely on their Hispanic appearance and that this profiling violates the 4th Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures and the 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process and equal protection of the law.

ABLE and the law firm of Murray and Murray of Sandusky, Ohio, are representing both individual plaintiffs and organizational plaintiffs Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC) and the Immigrant Worker Project (IWP) and their members who have been stopped and detained by law enforcement without probable cause.
 

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Kaptur visits UT to discuss housing crisis


DECEMBER 4, 2009

Kaptur visits UT to discuss housing crisis.

The following article appear Thursday, December 3, in the Independent Collegian. Read below, or view the contents on the Independent Collegian Web site.

By Hasan Dudar

Twenty-seven years of representing the 9th Congressional District of Ohio — an area that stretches across parts of Lucas, Ottawa, Erie and Lorain counties — has taught Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur a great deal about the inner-workings of American politics — something she calls "peeling the onion."

One thing she has learned is that, when lawmakers and big money interests meet, the public interest doesn't always find its way into the legislation.

Speaking on the American housing crisis, Kaptur asked a group of over 70 students gathered at the University of Toledo's College of Law Auditorium, "Where's Congress?"

Her response: "They're off the reservation, in my opinion."

On Monday, Kaptur visited UT's law school, where she delivered a half-hour speech in which she discussed the "imprudent" lending schemes practiced by the nation's largest home lenders, the lack of oversight and action by Congress and the executive branch and the role the judicial branch and legal system can play in advocating on the behalf of troubled homeowners. Kaptur believes the banks' behavior and governmental complacency are what led up to the mortgage foreclosure crisis. However, she feels the solution to the crisis will come through the nation's lawyers and judges.

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Judge grants motion to allow additional plaintiffs in EPSDT case


NOVEMBER 10, 2009

Judge grants motion to allow additional plaintiffs in EPSDT case

Judge McCann King, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division issued an order to allow additional plaintiffs in G.D. v. Lumpkin. The Judge's order adds three additional plaintiffs who are receiving Medicaid services through Ohio's Managed Care plans and were required to go through the prior authorization process to receive services under the Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) program.

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A painful way to make a living, but for some migrants, little choice

 

NOVEMBER 2, 2009

A painful way to make a living, but for some migrants, little choice.

The following appeared Sunday, November 1, 2009 in the Sandusky Register. Read below, or view on the Register's Web site.
Clouds hang low in the light blue sky as workers dressed in flannel shirts, faded jeans and dusty baseball caps file out of a white school bus into an enormous field full of green pepper plants.

With mechanical efficiency, the 80 or so workers -- all men, all Hispanic, all younger than 45 -- begin sifting through the green, bushy leaves to find shiny, softball-sized peppers, which they pitch into plastic baskets they carry at their sides.

After the men fill their baskets past the brim, they hoist the 20-pound bins to their shoulders and shuffle over to the trailer. The pickers toss the baskets up to a pair of young men who straddle the crates and dump the peppers inside. It takes about 45 peppers to fill a basket, and a veteran field worker can fill one in less than two minutes. Even the slowest pickers take no longer than a few minutes to fill their bins.
 

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Center for Equal Justice Building in Toledo Receives LEED Gold Certification

NOVEMBER 2, 2009

Center for Equal Justice Building in Toledo receives LEED Gold Certification

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO), the largest providers of legal aid in Ohio, are pleased to announce that their new headquarters in Toledo was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Center for Equal Justice is the third LEED Gold Certified building in northwest Ohio, and one of 25 throughout Ohio. LEED certification is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.  The LEED system awards points for satisfying specified green criteria to address human and environmental health, including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design.

"Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems," says Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, USGBC. "The Center for Equal Justice project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come."

According to Paul Hollenbeck, AIA, architect and partner with The Collaborative Inc., "ABLE and LAWO’s commitment to downtown Toledo and LEED certification supports both the fabric of the community and our future economy." The Collaborative Inc., along with Willson Builders, JDRM Engineering, and LKL Engineers were partners in the renovation and in seeking LEED certification.
 

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Consumer advocates launch effort to defeat telephone industry’s legislation


OCTOBER 27, 2009

Consumer advocates launch effort to defeat telephone industry's legislation

The following is a Press Release from the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, October 23, 2009. Ellis Jacobs (ABLE Dayton) is quoted in the article.  Read the contents below, or view on the OCC Web site. This story has also been picked up by the following news outlets:
A shortened announcement of the Press Release appeared in the following locations:

Consumer advocates launch effort to defeat telephone industry’s legislation

COLUMBUS, Ohio – October 23, 2009 – A diverse group of consumer advocates joined today as Ohioans Protecting Telephone Consumers (OPTC) to call for the defeat of deregulation legislation that allows rate increases for basic telephone services, weakens consumer protections and lowers service quality standards.

The formation of OPTC was announced at a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse. The group’s members stand united against the passage of Senate Bill 162 and House Bill 276, which are backed by the telephone industry and would make sweeping changes to the pricing and oversight of Ohio’s local telephone companies’ services.

A number of organizations representing a variety of Ohioans make up OPTC, including seniors and low-income Ohioans. The members of the group include the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Communities United For Action, AARP Ohio, Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Appalachian Peace and Justice Network, Ohio Poverty Law Center, Citizens Coalition and Pro Seniors Inc. Group representatives said they will seek new members from other concerned citizen groups around the state.
 

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Protecting yourself from identity thieves


OCTOBER 21, 2009

Protecting yourself from identity thieves

Message from the Ohio Attorney General

Ohioans filed more than 8,000 identity theft complaints in 2008, and it seems clear that many others who did not file reports also were affected by this growing crime. This week, National Protect Your Identity Week, take some time to learn more about identity theft:

www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/IDTheft

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ABLE, LAWO show appreciation for clients


OCTOBER 6, 2009

ABLE, LAWO show appreciation for clients

The following appeared October 6, 2009 in The Toledo Journal. Read below, or view on The Toledo Journal Web site.

Clients appreciate the services they receive from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO). Staff members for both nonprofit law firms wanted to let the clients know the feeling is mutual.

We are doing this as a show of appreciation to our client community," Deb Jennings said at ABLE/LAWO's Community & Client Advocacy Day held Friday, Oct. 2, outside the new Center for Equal Justice on Jefferson Avenue.

"We want the community to know that it is truly more than a building," added Ms. Jennings, the managing attorney for the firms' Legal Aid Line. "It's a place where the community feels they can come for the services they need."

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Press Release from Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel

OCTOBER 6, 2009

Press Release from Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel 

Consumer advocates: Telephone legislation strips consumer protections

COLUMBUS, Ohio – September 29, 2009 – In response to hearings being held today in the Ohio General Assembly, a group of advocacy organizations said legislation to deregulate local telephone service throughout the state will hurt consumers. The hearings are to consider Senate Bill 162 and House Bill 276, which are industry-backed bills that would make significant changes to the pricing and oversight of Ohio’s local telephone companies.
 

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Budget Cuts Will End Medical Program for the Needy on November 1, 2009



SEPTEMBER 22, 2009

Budget Cuts Will End Medical Program for the Needy on November 1, 2009.

Legal Aid Advocates Advise on Other Options for Assistance

According to legal aid advocates for low income persons, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is terminating its Disability Medical Assistance (DMA) program effective November 1, 2009. “If you have been getting your prescription drugs through the DMA program, your last month to do so will be October 2009,” says Rebecca Steinhauser, Regional Managing Attorney for Government Benefits at Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO). “If possible, DMA program recipients should refill their prescriptions at or near the end of the month in order to give themselves time to make other arrangements,” she adds.
 

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Homeless Coalition forum September 24


SEPTEMBER 10, 2009

Sandusky County Homeless Coalition holding forum September 24.

The following appeared in The News-Messenger on Friday, September 4. Read below, or view the contents on The News-Messenger Web site.

The Sandusky County Homeless Coalition will offer a public forum on homelessness in the area September 24 at 6:30 p.m. The forum will be at the Sandusky County Department of Job and Family Services, 2511 Countryside Drive.

"It's really important that community leaders are aware of this problem and take steps to address it," said Ragan Claypool, a member of the coalition and supportive services coordinator at WSOS. "The downturn in the economy has created a new set of homelessness issues for the community."
 

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Mobile home owners hope to buy properties

The following article appeared in the Sunday, July 19 Springfield Sun News. Toby Fey (ABLE) is interviewed in the story. Read below, or view the contents on the Springfield Sun News Web site.


Mobile home owners hope to buy properties
By Bridgette Outten

GERMAN TWP. — Some residents of three mobile home parks currently in foreclosure want more control over their future.

Dal-Mar, 1630 Baker Road; Rose Garden, 2744 Upper Valley Pike; and Happy Valley, 1750 Baker Road, are mobile home parks owned by Happy Valley Mobile Home Park LLC.

Wells Fargo Bank, which holds the loan on the three properties, filed foreclosure actions in April, alleging Happy Valley owes the bank more than $3.3 million.

The residents group — about 70 people and counting — is in favor of forming a nonprofit cooperative to own the land where the homes sit, said Toby Fey, attorney from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE).
 

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Mobile home owners hope to buy properties


JULY 19, 2009

Mobile home owners hope to buy properties.

The following article appeared in the Sunday, July 19 Springfield Sun News. Toby Fey (ABLE) is interviewed in the story. Read below, or view the contents on the Springfield Sun News Web site.

By Bridgette Outten

GERMAN TWP. — Some residents of three mobile home parks currently in foreclosure want more control over their future.

Dal-Mar, 1630 Baker Road; Rose Garden, 2744 Upper Valley Pike; and Happy Valley, 1750 Baker Road, are mobile home parks owned by Happy Valley Mobile Home Park LLC. Wells Fargo Bank, which holds the loan on the three properties, filed foreclosure actions in April, alleging Happy Valley owes the bank more than $3.3 million.

The residents group — about 70 people and counting — is in favor of forming a nonprofit cooperative to own the land where the homes sit, said Toby Fey, attorney from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE).
 

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Families Coping: Ruiz Family Keeps House, Thanks to ABLE

The following video appeared on WTOL, Toledo's CBS News station, on June 22, 2009. 

Families Coping: Ruiz Family Keeps House, Thanks to ABLE



JUNE 22, 2009

Families Coping: Ruiz Family Keeps House, Thanks to ABLE

The following video appeared on WTOL, Toledo's CBS News station, on June 22, 2009.

Complaint filed against TPS

Complaint filed with State Department of Education against Toledo Public Schools on Behalf of Students Seeking Special Education Evaluations.

School system fails to identify students with educational disabilities
and ignores requests for evaluations and services.

According to an administrative complaint filed with the Ohio Department of Education Office of Exceptional Children, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) allege that Toledo Public Schools (TPS) has violated federal law by failing to adequately identify and evaluate students who may be disabled and in need of special education supports and services in school.

The 15-page administrative complaint outlines the district’s failure to comply with federal and state laws pertaining to students with disabilities. The complaint aims to bring the school district into compliance with the Child Find provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Operating Standards for Ohio Educational Agencies serving Children with Disabilities.
 

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Volunteer Ombudsmen Needed

Advocates for Residents Living in Nursing Homes Needed, Summer Training to be Scheduled

Volunteer to be a voice for the powerless. The Regional Long Term Care Ombudsman Program at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is seeking volunteer ombudsmen to help provide advocacy services to residents living in nursing homes located in your county. Training sessions are being planned for this summer.  Applicants must complete an application process before attending classes.
 

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