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City of Columbus Unveils Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Policy

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On Wednesday, March 29, Columbus City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown along with the Chair of the Columbus Women’s Commission and First Lady Shannon Ginther unveiled the new City of Columbus Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Policy at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, 111 Liberty Street in Columbus.

The Comprehensive Paid Family Leave benefit consists of two parts: parental leave that provides up to six weeks of leave for welcoming a new child, and a pilot caregiver leave program which grants up to four weeks of leave to care for a seriously ill family member. Both will be reimbursed at 70 percent of pay.

“Workplace policies in our country too often haven’t kept pace with the reality of what the modern family needs. But the facts are clear: what’s good for families is good for business is good for Columbus,” Councilmember Brown said.

“We are proud that this new benefit will cover our entire workforce – from a refuse driver making $19.79 per hour to an IT professional making six figures, whether you’re a new dad, a new mom, or caring for an aging parent,” Brown continued. 

Shannon Ginther, First Lady and Chair of the City of Columbus Women’s Commission, believes this benefit is vital to promote and sustain the health of women in the workplace.

“Women often struggle to find balance in the workplace, having to choose between work and maternity leave,” said Ginther. “Paid family leave gives mothers – and fathers – the opportunity to bond with their child in the first crucial days after birth or adoption. This leads to better health outcomes for the child and strength in the family.”

Paid family leave policies preserve income and increase health outcomes for women, families, and children.

According to Innovation Ohio, rates of infant mortality, immunization, and breastfeeding have all been seen to improve when women have access to paid leave during pregnancy and after childbirth. Statistics from AARP indicate 1.4 million Ohioans are caring for an aging loved one, and due to an increasingly older population, more and more American workers will assume this responsibility in the future. 

Currently, the City of Columbus offers unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act but does not offer a specific paid family leave benefit. In addition, birth mothers have access to short-term disability, but that benefit is not available to spouses or domestic partners, or to adoptive parents.

With the adoption of its policy, Columbus will be the first city in the Midwest and third city nationally to provide comprehensive paid family leave. In doing so, it joins the ranks of companies such as Deloitte and Choice Hotels who know the business benefits of supporting a leave policy made for the whole family. 

In 2015, Innovation Ohio issued a report on the state of paid family leave in Ohio. Since that time, the organization has been a leading voice on the issue. 

“In the absence of a national paid leave law, a growing number of municipalities, states, and businesses across the US have taken the lead to enact the commonsense, family-friendly policy for their workforce,” said Erin Ryan, policy analyst at Innovation Ohio and manager of the Women’s Public Policy Network. 

“Paid family leave policies ensure that working families are no longer forced to choose between their economic security and caring for a loved one,” she continued.

 The policy change also has economic benefits, said Brown.

“Studies have shown increased retention rates for employers who have paid family leave policies,” said Brown. “There is a proven link between reduced turnover and paid leave, which contributes to better workplace productivity and translates to real dollars saved in attraction and employee training.”

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Coronavirus

Gov. Mike DeWine to deliver address on COVID-19 spike

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has called a press conference for 5:30 p.m. to discuss the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state. 

DeWine canceled his typical Tuesday afternoon press conference only hours before it was to be held, then sent out a release informing the media of the Wednesday evening briefing, during which he said he would talk about the "current state of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent increases in cases and virus spread."

Right now the three-week average in Ohio is 1,041 cases, 80 hospitalizations, and 16 deaths for every 21 days due to the disease, according to the Department of Health

Tuesday, five people in Ohio died, including an unnamed Franklin county boy, who had yet to reach age 20. 

Franklin is one of 12 counties where it’s currently required for people out in public to wear a mask

Meanwhile, people who are traveling from Ohio to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are being asked to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. 

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Govt & Politics

Hate group discussion gives historical context to policing

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Current CPD screening process explained

Columbus City Councilmember and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Shayla Favor held an informative and at times eye-opening public hearing regarding the expansion of hate group affiliation background checks. 

Although no legislation was announced during the discussion, the point of the meeting was to have educational and collaborative conversations with experts in the field of systematic racism, psychology, and policing. Favor did mention that legislation defining more strict background checks for police officers potentially in hate groups or possibly affiliating with those groups would be drafted by the end of the month.

At the time of publication, Columbus City Council couldn’t say if a Columbus police officer was affiliated with a hate group.

Two-plus hours of presentations held by those representing education (Dr. Judson L. Jefferies, an OSU professor in the Department of African American and African Studies), civil service (Amy DeLong, executive director of the Civil Service Commission), and police (Richard Blunt II, Safety Manager of the Background Investigations segment of the CPD) preceded public testimony.

During the discussion, bits of historical facts and information were inserted giving a more robust understanding to the context of the topic. For example, there are 1,000 to 1,100 hate groups in the United States that we’re able to identify, according to Jefferies. Jefferies also pointed out that there is less concern about the number of members, and more concern about the number of supporters. 

He also mentioned that in the 1960s, police would post ads to recruit Southern-minded people to become police officers in Chicago and Los Angeles. Jefferies did acknowledge that being a police officer is the hardest job of any street bureaucrat because they see the worst of the human condition.

The current screening process of the CPD, as it pertains to hate group affiliation, was presented by Blunt. This is what it looks like::

  • Personal History Statement (PSH)—Undetected Acts
    • At any time in your life have you ever committed a hate crime?
    • Are you now, or have you ever been a member or associate of a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual preference, or disability?
    • Has any member of your family ever been a member of, or associated with any, street gang or organized criminal enterprise such as outlaw motorcycle groups, prison gangs, or tagging crews?
    • Do you have, or have you ever had, a tattoo signifying membership in, or affiliation with, a criminal enterprise, street gang, or any group that advocates violence against individuals because of their race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic origin, nationality, or gender.
  • Tattoo Policy 
    • Shall have no visible tattoos on the head, neck, or hands 
    • Shall have no tattoos that depict obscene, gang-related, extremist or otherwise offensive images, which may bring the Division into disrepute 
    • Visible and exposed tattoos are photographed
  • Polygraph Examination
    • Taken to an ID UNIT where they are fingerprinted and taken photographs of their visible and exposed tattoos
    • Pre-interview to meet with background investigator and go over PSH with candidate one more time
    • Taken to polygraph unit where they answer over 100 questions before being hooked up to a polygraph, some being:
      • To your knowledge, have you, your spouse, significant other, any member of your family, or close friends ever been associated with any subversive, radical, or terrorist organization, such as hate groups or gangs?
      • Have you ever posted offensive, derogatory, or racist material to social media?
    • Right before the polygraph, the candidate is given four documents called mind maps, which include falsifying information, illegal substance use, sex offenses, serious crimes (hate crimes, racially-motivated crimes, gang membership, terrorist sympathizer), and to tell the interviewee if anything comes to mind that the candidate hasn’t already discussed.
    • Once hooked up to the polygraph, they will be asked if they are concealing any of those crimes, and will come up with one of three results:
      • Deception indicated
      • No deception indicated
      • Inconclusive

With that being known, there are definitely improvements to be made in how the CPD does intensive background checks when it comes to hate group affiliation. By the end of July, the Columbus City Council hopes to have legislation drafted on hate-group screening.

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Govt & Politics

Ginther names two independent entities for administrative and criminal review of CPD

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Mayor Andrew J. Ginther addressed masked members of the media at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center on Wednesday. In the mayor’s address, Ginther gave an update on who would be heading the investigations into police response to protests. 

“I challenge the FOP in joining the community in demanding change and reform,” Ginther said during the press conference.

Ned Pettus, Director of Public Safety, introduced Ginther before he announced the two independent entities charged with completing an administrative and criminal review of the Columbus Division of Police.

The law firm BakerHostetler is being brought in to review cases that require administrative action outside of police policy and are open for discipline with the CPD. So far 40 incidents have been identified for referral to the law firm.

A professional investigator, also a retired FBI agent, will be brought in to review 16 incidents that may result in criminal charges. The name of the professional investigator has not yet been disclosed.

Although Ginther mentioned that the images of the use of pepper spray by the CPD “don’t live up to community or (his) standards,” he did support the continued use of it being dispersed amongst peaceful protestors who were impeding traffic. Ginther did bring up that the city has encouraged peaceful protestors to stay on sidewalks.

Ginther also announced the workgroup that would help establish the future civilian review board, which is slated  for creation by the end of the year Those city officials include:

·        Jasmine Ayres, community organizer, People's Justice Project

·        Fred Benton, attorney

·        Bo Chilton, President and CEO, Impact Community Action

·        Dr. Lewis Dodley, IMPACT Community Action

·        Stephanie Hightower, President and CEO of Columbus Urban League

·        Pastor Frederick LaMarr, President, Baptist Pastors Conference

·        Kent Markus, General/Bar Counsel, Columbus Bar Association

·        Jonathan McCombs, Dean of College of Health and Public Administration, Franklin University

·        Ismail Mohammad, attorney, Ismail Law Office

·        Densil R. Porteous, Chair, Create Columbus

·        Aslyne Rodriguez, Director of Government Affairs, COTA

·        Janay Stevens, President, John Mercer Langston Bar Association, Associate, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

·        Kyle Strickland, Senior Legal Analyst, Kirwin Institute

·        Erin Synk, Director of Government Relations, LNE Group

·        Nana Watson, President, NAACP Columbus

·        Anthony Wilson, Vice President National Organization of Black Law Enforcement - Columbus Chapter

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