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Ohio Bar Foundation honors ABLE, Legal Aid

DECEMBER 15, 2010

The following appeared December 15, 2010 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view on The Blade's website.

Ohio Bar Foundation honors ABLE, Legal Aid

Two local agencies won statewide honors from the Ohio State Bar Foundation when named recipients of the 2010 Outstanding Program or Organization Award.

The Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in partnership with Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc., were recognized for their joint efforts to raise funds to renovate a downtown Toledo building to establish the Center for Equal Justice. The new center houses more than 180 personnel.

The organizations provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals and organizations in the northwest and west central counties of Ohio.

The annual award recognizes a nonprofit organization, agency, government entity, or association that promotes the dissemination of public information, improvement of public understanding, and enhancement of public education concerning the justice system.
 

Red Cross copes with a calamity of its own


NOVEMBER 11, 2010

Red Cross copes with a calamity of its own.

The following appeared November 11, 2010 in the Mansfield News Journal. Read below or view on the News Journal website

MANSFIELD -- The American Red Cross, an agency that responds to calamities, is trying to recover from its own misfortune.

A leaky roof at the 35 N. Park St. site, which also houses Legal Aid of Western Ohio, damaged part of the facility's offices.

Red Cross temporarily relocated to a classroom in the same building. The agency hopes to move its blood collection operation back to its usual quarters by the end of this month.

Legal Aid, which suffered greater damage at the Richland Community Services Center building, also will return to its own offices around that time. Two attorneys and a legal assistant are temporarily working in space offered by United Way and the Girl Scouts.

Read more...

Low-Income Entrepreneurs Legal Assistance


PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 9, 2010

ABLE and Equal Justice Works Join Forces to Offer
Low-Income Entrepreneurs Legal Assistance

Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Anneliese Gryta is fighting poverty and working to strengthen Toledo's economy with the launch of the Microenterprise Legal Assistance Project at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE). The project provides free legal services for entrepreneurs who cannot afford an attorney. While the services are available to all eligible Lucas County small business owners, the project focuses on entrepreneurs in neighborhoods that are most in need, such as the Lagrange area, the Old South End and the Old West End.

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ABLE Enters Settlement Agreement with City of Toledo


PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 3, 2010

ABLE Enters Settlement Agreement with City of Toledo
Vacating Decades Old Consent Decree

On October 13, 2010, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) entered into a settlement agreement with the City of Toledo to resolve a dispute over a three-decade old Consent Decree addressing hiring practice of the Toledo Fire Department.  The settlement provides that the selection and hiring practices that had been required as part of the Consent Decree will now become institutionalized as policy within the Civil Service Commission.  The settlement also provides for the creation of the Citizens' Committee for Toledo Fire Fighter Recruitment on Outreach. The Committee will be made up of community organizations as well as fire department and city personnel and will be charged with advising the fire department on outreach and recruitment strategies to improve the number and quality of African American and Hispanic applicants. As part of the settlement agreement, the parties have agreed to allow the Court to end its oversight of the hiring and selection process by vacating the Consent Decree.

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Review of Obama Administration's Immigration Detention Reform


Review of Obama Administration's Immigration Detention Reform Efforts
Reveals Lack of Progress in Creating Humane System

Chicago and Washington, D.C. (October 6, 2010) – On the first anniversary of the Obama administration's pledge to overhaul the immigration detention system, including improving human rights conditions for detained immigrants, a report card to be released by a coalition of rights groups shows no significant improvements for the approximately 32,000 immigrants held in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) each day.

"One year after the administration announced its intention to improve the immigrant detention system, it remains broken," said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center. "And while ICE leadership has expressed a commitment to improving conditions at these facilities, lack of transparency and accountability plague the system while individuals in detention suffer."

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Order lifted on city hiring of firefighters


OCTOBER 18, 2010

Order lifted on city hiring of firefighters
Toledo, ABLE to establish committee for recruitment

The following article by Blade Staff Writer Ignazio Messina appeared October 15, 2010 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the article on The Blade's website.

A federal consent decree that for more than three decades governed the city of Toledo's hiring and promotion practices for firefighters - particularly regarding race of applicants - has been withdrawn.

The city and Advocates For Basic Legal Equality agreed this week to vacate the court order from 1974 and U.S. District Judge David Katz on Wednesday signed that new order.

Instead of adhering to a federal consent decree, the city will institutionalize the mandates within the court order in its own civil service requirements and also create a citizens committee for firefighter recruitment and outreach, Toledo Law Director Adam Loukx said.

ABLE had filed a complaint in July claiming the city was not adhering to the 1974 court order and asked the U.S. District Court to stop the city from hiring a new class of firefighters this year.

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TracFone upgrades plans for the poor


TracFone upgrades plans for the poor

The following article, written by Tim Feran, appeared in The Columbus Dispatch Tuesday, August 17, 2010.

Low-income people in Ohio who have cell-phone service through the Lifeline SafeLink program have two new options giving them more minutes.

The move by the company handling the service, TracFone Wireless Inc., comes just a couple of weeks after two consumer-advocacy groups raised questions about the price participants must pay if they exceed their monthly allotment.
 

Read more...

Legal Aid to participate in NHA Sister Care Series symposium


Legal Aid to participate in Neighborhood Health Association’s Sister Care Series symposium: "Domestic Violence: Understanding the Problem, Empowering Change."

The following appeared September 19, 2010 on WTVG 13abc. Lucinda Weller (LAWO) is interviewed in the video, speaking about the upcoming NHA symposium on domestic violence.

Symposium Information

Friday, October 1, 2010
Holiday Inn French Quarter Conference Center

Domestic Violence: Understanding the Problem, Empowering Change, will be a symposium designed to educate a broad range of constituencies about the problem of domestic violence.  The target audience will range from members of social and civic groups, health care practitioners and administrators, social service agencies and care providers, to legal professionals, law enforcement organizations, elected officials, the media, and even those who have been victims.

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City argues against race-related lawsuit


City argues against race-related lawsuit

The following appeared September 14, 2010 in The Toledo Journal. Read below, or view on The Toledo Journal website.

Written arguments have been submitted but no hearing has been scheduled yet in a federal court lawsuit filed against the City of Toledo regarding its latest firefighter class.

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), arguing racial imbalance, filed suit in July, asking U.S. District Court Judge David A. Katz to prohibit the city from using a 2008 eligibility list from which to draw its next class of firefighters.

The city, which will pay up to $50,000 to a private law firm to help defend its position, wants to bring aboard new firefighters by the end of this year. It contends that a consent decree, which was agreed to two years after a 1972 race-discrimination lawsuit, should be dissolved.

Read more...

Editorial: 'Baby Vanessa' needs a parent


JULY 26, 2010

The following editorial appeared in the Dayton Daily News (DDN) Sunday, July 25, 2010. View the contents here, or read on the DDN website.

Editorial: 'Baby Vanessa' needs a parent

By the Dayton Daily News | Sunday, July 25, 2010, 12:00 AM

There isn't a judge in his or her right mind who is going to give Benjamin Mills Jr. his biological daughter, a 2-year-old named Vanessa who has spent her entire short life with a California woman who's trying to adopt her.

But the process of formally getting to a decision is making the courts and other authorities appear as if they've lost their minds.

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Response to DDN Editorial (July 27)


JULY 27, 2010

Response to DDN Editorial (July 27)

In response to Sunday, July 25, 2010 Dayton Daily News editorial "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent."

The legal case you referred to in "Baby Vanessa Needs a Parent" is both difficult and heart-breaking. Mr. Mills from the start has sought a remedy for this case through the judicial system that would recognize his relationship as his child’s father and place her in a good home in Dayton.  As you note in your editorial, "Mr. Mills has done all the right things to protect his rights" and it is "not Mr. Mills' fault that this case has dragged on for so long..." 

Read more...

TracFone rates worry poverty groups


AUGUST 12, 2010

TracFone rates worry poverty groups
Lawyers want to see data on fees for going over free minutes

The following article by Tim Feran appeared August 9, 2010 in The Columbus Dispatch. Read below or view the contents on the Dispatch website.

Low-income telephone customers who use the state-subsidized Lifeline cell-phone service might be getting gouged by prepaid wireless phone provider TracFone, poverty law advocates fear.

Under the program in question, TracFone Wireless Inc.'s SafeLink service, qualifying Ohioans can get a free cell phone with 68 free minutes to use each month. Once the free time is used, customers are charged 20 cents a minute.

Although that price is roughly the same as what TracFone charges the public under at least one service plan, two groups consider the additional cost excessive.

Lawyers for Ohio Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc./Western Ohio filed a public-records request with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio last week to find out how many people exceed the 68 minutes and by how much.
 

Read more...

HEAP Summer Crisis Program wraps up end of August

AUGUST 21, 2010

HEAP Summer Crisis Program wraps up end of August
Up to $175 still available for eligible households

From the Ohio Department of Development – Ohio Department of Development Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel wants to remind Ohioans who are elderly or have health problems that funding to assist eligible households with summer cooling costs through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Summer Crisis Program is available through August 31, 2010.

"With temperatures consistently in the 90s this week, I want to take this opportunity to encourage eligible families to apply for the Summer Crisis Program," Patt-McDaniel said. "The program is designed to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe and healthy during these hot summer months, and we don't want people to miss out on the help available to them."

So far this summer, 34,138 households have been approved for assistance through the Summer Crisis Program. Out of $6.4 million available, $4.9 million has been obligated to assist households with their cooling bills.
 

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HEAP Summer Crisis Program


JUNE 24, 2010

Press release from the Ohio Department of Development:

HEAP Summer Crisis Program begins July 1.
Up to $175 available for eligible households.

Ohio Department of Development Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel today announced that funding to assist eligible households with summer cooling costs through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Summer Crisis Program is available July 1, 2010 through August 31, 2010.

"The HEAP Summer Crisis Program is vital to the safety and well-being of Ohio's older citizens, ensuring they receive the assistance they need during the hot summer months," Patt-McDaniel said.
 

Read more...

Seminar for social workers examines plight of the undocumented


JUNE 25, 2010

The following appeared in La Prensa on June 25, 2010. Read below, or view on La Prensa's website.

Unique seminar for social workers
examines plight of the undocumented

By Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent

The preamble to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics clearly spells out their primary mission "with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty."

Thus it was no surprise that Martha Delgado, Social Work Field Director and Workshop Facilitator of the University of Toledo Social Work Department quickly associated that mandate with the plight of undocumented workers and immigrants. Delgado is responsible for UT's Social Work internships as well as for the curriculum for Master's and Bachelor's candidates.

The result was an informative "Social Work Practice Workshop" presented June 17, 2010, at La Galeria at 1222-24 Broadway Street in Toledo, Ohio.

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Mobile Benefit Bank Secures $1 Million in Benefits


JUNE 27, 2010

ABLE Mobile Benefit Bank Secures $1 Million in Benefits
for Residents of Lucas County

The Mobile Benefit Bank (MBB) of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) reports securing close to $1 million in food stamps and other benefits for residents of Lucas County since April 2009.

"Approximately three-quarters of a million dollars in food stamps have been secured for more than 500 individuals and families. These are new benefits that people in great need never had before," says Lisa Mantel, an attorney with ABLE's Legal Aid Line and the MBB project. The Mobile Benefit Bank operates as part of Legal Aid Line and provides applicants with a legal assessment as well as an eligibility screening for various government benefit programs.
 

Read more...

Group forms to monitor well-being of the elderly


JUNE 29, 2010

Group forms to monitor well-being of the elderly 

The following article appeared June 28, 2010 in The Toledo Blade and was written by Blade staff writer Sarah Mervosh. Sandra Hamilton (ABLE) is featured in the story. Read below, or view the article on The Blade's website.

When Sandra Hamilton was employed as a lawyer, she handled a case in which an elderly man was taken advantage of by his much younger wife, beginning when she forced him to live alone while she lived with a boyfriend.

"He was starting to complain to his neighbors because he didn't have food. He was out of cigarettes," Ms. Hamilton said.

"She wasn't really taking care of him."

The abuse culminated when she kidnapped him from the hospital so she could start receiving his pension checks again.

"At the time, I really didn't realize the crime that was being committed. It just seemed to be wrong," Ms. Hamilton said.

Now, she knows the woman was guilty of financial exploitation and neglect - two common types of abuse against the elderly. To raise awareness and help protect the elderly from being victims of abuse, Ms. Hamilton recently founded the Coalition of Organizations Protecting Elders (COPE).
 

Read more...

Payday lenders take advantage of loopholes


JULY 1, 2010

Payday lenders take advantage of loopholes

The following Letter to the Editor written by Stan Hirtle (ABLE) appeared Wednesday, June 16, 2010 in the Dayton Daily News (DDN). Read the article below, or view on the DDN website.

Re "Consumers want option of small-dollar loans," June 1: Ted Saunders, chief executive of CheckSmart, says that with Ohio experiencing an economic downturn, people need reliable access to short-term credit. This is certainly true. What Ohioans don’t need is high-cost, short-term credit that they can't repay.

The new payday loan products being offered are similar to the old payday loan products that led the Ohio legislature to amend the payday loan law in 2008 to reduce costs to borrowers.

Unfortunately, there were loopholes in laws that licensed other forms of loans, and the payday lenders have sought to maintain their high-cost structure by migrating there.
 

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Statement by attorney Elizabeth Gorman (July 2)


JULY 2, 2010

Statement by attorney Elizabeth Gorman (July 2)

The following statement can be attributed to Elizabeth Gorman, attorney for Benjamin Mills. Ms. Gorman is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.

"Our client, Mr. Mills, has consistently acted to protect the parent-child relationship between him and his daughter," says Elizabeth Gorman, lead counsel and attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.  "Before his daughter was one month old, Mr. Mills had registered with the Ohio putative father registry and filed a complaint for paternity and custody of his daughter. In fact, Mr. Mills had filed his complaint for paternity and custody before Ms. Doss was approved as the placement through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and before Ms. Doss and his daughter left the State of Ohio.  Our client was found to be the biological father by genetic testing and established paternity of his daughter in Ohio," she says. 

Read more...

Citizenship not based on mother


JULY 7, 2010

Citizenship not based on mother

The following Letter to the Editor by Managing Attorney Mark Heller (ABLE) appeared July 7, 2010 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the article on the Blade's website.

Contrary to the July 2 Readers' Forum letter "Mother's country decides citizens," a mother's country does not decide the citizenship of newborn babies.

The only persons born in the United States who are not citizens of the United States — because they are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction — are babies born to foreign diplomats and foreign occupying armed forces.
 

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Rules regulate water shutoffs


JULY 11, 2010

Rules regulate water shutoffs
Judge cites 20-year-old pact

The following article was published July 2, 2010 in The Toledo Blade. Read the story below, or view on The Blade's website.

Any regulations implemented by the city of Toledo's water department must be consistent with an agreement put in place nearly two decades ago - including the notification of homeowners before their water is shut off, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge recently ruled.

Visiting Judge Steven Yarbrough's order, released earlier this week, effectively halts some new administrative regulations that the water department had intended to implement. Instead, the regulations outlined in a 1992 consent judgment agreed upon in court will continue in effect.

Attorney George Thomas from Legal Aid of Western Ohio said the ruling was in response to a recent filing by the agency on behalf of a man whose water was turned off without notice. He added that the judge's decision will keep Toledo's obligations status quo.
 

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Statement by Attorney Elizabeth Gorman (July 7)


JULY 7, 2010

Statement by Attorney Elizabeth Gorman (July 7)

The following statement can be attributed to Elizabeth Gorman, attorney for Benjamin Mills. Ms. Gorman is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.

For most people, it is difficult to imagine anything more painful to a father than having his child offered up for adoption in a distant state without his knowledge or consent. That is exactly what happened in this case.

Read more...

Statement from Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (July 14)


JULY 14, 2010

Statement from Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (July 14)

The following statement can be attributed to Elizabeth Gorman, attorney for Benjamin Mills. Ms. Gorman is an attorney with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. in Dayton, Ohio.

Since being ordered by the Ohio court to return Benjamin Mills' daughter to Dayton, Stacey Doss has gone to two courts in California to prevent Mr. Mills' child from returning to Ohio. Previously, three judges, including two California judges have ruled that issues surrounding Mr. Mill's daughter's future should be heard in an Ohio court.

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Statement from Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (July 23)


JULY 24

Statement from Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (July 23)

This statement can be attributed to LAWO Attorney Elizabeth Gorman:

As the custody case between Benjamin Mills and his daughter's mother, Andrea Conley, progresses toward court next week in Dayton/Montgomery County, Ohio, Mr. Mills continues to place his trust in the court to reach a fair resolution regarding the custody of his daughter.  Mr. Mills sought legal assistance in July of 2008 in order to protect his rights as a parent of his daughter. Mr. Mills did not consent to the adoption or the removal of his daughter from Dayton/Montgomery County and took immediate action to establish himself as the father, to locate his child, and have courts honor his parent-child relationship with her.

Read more...