by German Lopez
119 days ago
Posted In: Budget
at 03:37 PM | Permalink
April deadline to settle with AFSCME over accusations of underfunding
The city of Cincinnati and a union representing city workers are currently negotiating an out-of-court settlement for a lawsuit involving the city's pension program. The American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that the city government isn’t meeting funding requirements. A Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas motion filed Jan. 4
and accepted Jan. 23 gives the city and AFSCME until April to settle the case out
By law, Cincinnati is required to heed to the Cincinnati
Retirement System (CRS) Board of Trustees when setting the percent of
payroll the city must contribute to retirees. But the AFSCME lawsuit argues
the city hasn’t been making contributions dictated by the board.
The lawsuit, which dates back to June 2011, cites minutes
from a CRS Board of Trustees meeting on July 20, 2010 to show the board
accepted a report from Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting, LLC. The report
asked the city to contribute 46.22 percent of payroll to retiree
benefits — 12.32 percent to retiree health benefits and 33.9 percent to other CRS benefits — during the 2011 fiscal year.
Instead, the city biennial budget for 2011 and 2012 established a contribution rate of 17 percent — way below the recommended sum.
The AFSCME lawsuit alleges the low contributions reflect a
“longstanding pattern” from city government. It points to a 2002
report from the CRS Board of Trustees that found the city was not meeting requirements set by the board then, either.
The lawsuit asks for a court mandate requiring city government to find out how much it needs to contribute, establish a mechanism for
collecting the amounts required and appropriate and contribute the
required amounts.City Solicitor John Curp says the debate is between long-term and short-term interests. On AFSCME’s side, the union wants to get as much from payroll contributions as possible for represented retirees, even if it means a short-term economic and budget shock for the city. On the city’s side, City Council is more interested in meeting long-term requirements for the pension fund, instead of keeping up with shifting annual numbers that could negatively impact the city economy and budget.City government’s approach attempts to balance short-term and long-term needs with a long-term goal. It means the city pension is underfunded during some years, particularly when the economy is in a bad state. But it keeps rates steady, letting the city avoid sudden funding changes that would require spending cuts or tax hikes to keep the budget balanced.By adopting a large short-term contribution rate, the city would likely hurt its budget in ways that would negatively affect city employees represented by AFSCME. If the city was forced to contribute 46.22 percent of payroll to CRS — up from 17 percent — it would probably be forced to cut spending elsewhere, which would lead to layoffs.This story was updated on Jan. 25 at 12:40 p.m. to reflect comments from City Solicitor John Curp.
0 Comments · Wednesday, January 23, 2013
If the adverse publicity from pleading
guilty to a minor crime — say indecent exposure or public intoxication —
is likely to cause you mental anguish, pray that you go before a judge
like Robert Lyons in Oxford.
0 Comments · Thursday, December 27, 2012
Outgoing Hamilton County Sheriff Simon
Leis is retiring after his current term and Jim Neil will replace him on
Jan. 6, 2013, but that doesn’t mean Leis is done with public life.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The sealing of a criminal court case
involving a former Miami University student who posted a “Top Ten Ways
to Get Away with Rape” flier in a freshman dormitory now has the
presiding judge defending his decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
A state appeals court Nov. 7 rejected a lawsuit filed by city of Cincinnati retirees
who claimed promised healthcare benefits were illegally reduced in
2010. Before the cuts, retirees did not have to pay-out-of-pocket
expenses and deductions for prescriptions and medical care. The city
shifted some costs of the pension health package to the ex-workers under
an ordinance enacted to shore up its pension plan,
which is still under financial stress. The appeals court said it saw no
records guaranteeing ex-city employees set benefits at the time they
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Despite Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s best efforts
to deter early voting across the state this election cycle, state
election officials estimate that Ohio has seen a record turnout of early
voters this year. CINCINNATI +2
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
In an era when judges often give the
final word against Republican extremism, Democratic judges are more
important than ever. That’s why we endorse Martha Good and Bruce Whitman
for Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Judges play an understated role in the
U.S. While legislators write and pass the laws and mayors, governors and
presidents enforce the laws, judges interpret the laws. In a sense,
this can be just as important as writing the law. Sentencing in
particular can decide the weight of a law.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.Josh Mandel, state treasurer and Republican U.S.
senatorial candidate for Ohio, is denying he physically confronted a
campaign tracker. According to Mandel, the tracker approached and
confronted him, not the other way around. But the video of the
confrontation shows Mandel approaching and getting really close to the
tracker first. Ohio Democrats, who said Mandel’s campaign is a “campaign
of unending dishonesty,” were quick to jump on another example of
Mandel possibly being dishonest. CityBeat covered Mandel’s notorious
dishonesty here. Mandel is running against Democratic incumbent Sen.
The presidential debates are tonight at 9 p.m. A full
schedule of future debates can be found here. Whoever does better, keep
in mind debates rarely influence elections.
Michelle Obama was in town yesterday. She spoke to a crowd
of 6,800, asking them to take part in Ohio’s early voting
process and encourage friends and family to do the same.
Grocery store competition could soon be bringing lower prices to the Greater Cincinnati area, according to analysts.
JobsOhio chief Mark Kvamme is stepping down. The
high-profile venture capitalist, who was originally from California, was
originally recruited by Gov. John Kasich to lead the Ohio Department of
Development. But soon
Kvamme hopped onto JobsOhio, a nonprofit company established by Kasich
and the state legislature to bring investment into Ohio. Under Kvamme’s
leadership, JobsOhio, which is supposed to replace the Department of Development, has brought in 400 companies to invest in Ohio,
leading to $6.1 billion in capital investment, according to a press
release. But the nonprofit company has been heavily criticized by
liberal groups like Progress Ohio, which say JobsOhio is
unconstitutional. Lower courts have generally legitimized Progress
Ohio’s claims, but the Ohio Supreme Court recently turned down a case
dealing with JobsOhio. The court said a lower court would have to give a
declaratory judgment first.
William O’Neill, former judge and Democratic candidate for
the Ohio Supreme Court, is asking Republican justices Robert Cupp and
Terrence O’Donnell to “recuse or refuse.” O’Neill says the Republican
justices are sitting on cases that involve FirstEnergy, an Akron-based
energy company that has contributed to the re-election campaigns of Cupp
and O’Donnell. O’Neill says the conflict of interest diminishes faith
in the highest court of Ohio’s justice system.
A new study on Taser use in Hamilton County found local
law enforcement have some problematic policies on the books and in
practice. The study was put together by a local law firm that’s
demanding policy reform.
Americans United for Life (AUL) is celebrating a federal
court ruling against Planned Parenthood that maintains Ohio regulations on an abortion drug. The
regulations require physicians to administer the drug in a clinic or
physician’s office, and the drug may only be taken within 49 days of
gestation. AUL says health groups like Planned Parenthood want to avoid
sound health regulations, but Planned Parenthood argues the regulations
make it too difficult for women to use the drug.
Natalie Portman is in a new commercial in support of President Barack Obama. In the ad, she touts Obama’s support of women’s rights.
It seems most Americans are avoiding or can’t afford as many trips to the doctor as before.
One of the most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world is wood.It turns out the vampire squid is not a lethal ocean predator. Still, who wouldn't run away from that?
by German Lopez
Posted In: Courts
at 12:40 PM | Permalink
P&G and contractor allegedly fired Muslim worker who was humiliated by coworker
Two Cincinnati-based companies are facing a lawsuit over
the termination of a former Muslim worker. The lawsuit, filed in an North Carolina
court Monday, claims a woman named Safa Elhassan was fired from Procter & Gamble facilities after facing discrimination in the workplace.
Elhassan worked for P&G through XLC Services, a Cincinnati-based company that
provides manufacturing services and warehouse management to other
companies, at P&G facilities in Guilford County, N.C.
The lawsuit charges P&G and XLC with religious
harassment, religious discrimination, failing to accommodate after
religious discrimination in the workplace, national origin
discrimination, sexual discrimination, two counts of retaliation,
negligence, unfair and deceptive trade practices, assault, battery and
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit tells the story that led to the charges as
follows: Elhassan, who wears a hijab and wedding ring for religious
reasons, was employed at P&G’s facilities through XLC between 2004
and Sept. 16, 2011. During her employment, Elhassan followed P&G
rules and regulations and kept “a performance record which was
satisfactory or better.”
However, Elhassan was unaware of a company policy that
banned jewelry in the workplace, even jewelry of religious significance.
This policy was mostly not a problem for Elhassan because, as the lawsuit
claims, “Other employees of different religions and national origins
routinely wear jewelry under clothing and/or protective wear and are not
punished or searched.”
That is until a woman named Ernestine Wilson allegedly approached
Elhassan, forcibly searched Elhassan for her wedding ring and removed
Elhassan’s hijab in front of coworkers, including men, according to the suit. Under Islam’s
rules, a woman uses a hijab, which is a religious head and neck wrap, to
maintain sexual modesty, and being exposed without a hijab to men who are not family is a major offense and source of humiliation.
Elhassan reported the forced search to higher-ups at XLC.
After a few meetings, Wilson provided an apology, according to the lawsuit, but Elhassan claimed the
apology was insincere because Wilson kept telling coworkers that she
hoped Elhassan was fired. After Elhassan
refused to accept the apology, she was suspended then fired, allegedly
under the orders of P&G.
The lawsuit suggests that Wilson's actions were potentially connected to another workplace incident. The lawsuit says Elhassan was sexually harassed in
the past by George (no last name provided), a man with whom Wilson was allegedly “engaged in a
friendly, physical, and/or romantic relationship." Elhassan
reported the incident, which got George
fired. The lawsuit claims Wilson’s actions were in retaliation to
Since Wilson did work for P&G through XLC, Elhassan
blames both P&G and XLC for the damages. The lawsuit claims she was
unfairly fired in retaliation for not accepting Wilson’s apology. It
also alleges that XLC forced Elhassan to sign a document she did not
understand upon her termination without her lawyer present, even though
Elhassan asked to have her lawyer read the document. The document, which
P&G officials were supposedly aware of, allegedly sought to release
P&G and XLC of any wrongdoing related to the termination.
Mary Ralles, spokesperson for P&G, responded to the lawsuit in an email: “As
a matter of company policy, we do not comment on pending litigation,
but I did want to make one correction. The individual was not (or ever)
a P&G employee.”
The distinction Ralles made is that Elhassan was not
officially employed by P&G, but she did work for P&G through her
employment at XLC.
XLC could not be immediately reached for comment. This story will be updated if a comment becomes available.