Sunday, January 09, 2000

Suggestion to widow wasn't promise


The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Linda Pope was surprised to find out the Ohio Attorney General's office had recommended her claim for crime victims' compensation be denied.

        After all, a victims' advocate from the attorney general's office first suggested she file a claim after her husband, Cincinnati Police Officer Daniel Pope, was shot to death while trying to arrest a domestic violence suspect.

        Another section of the attorney general's office later recommended the claim be denied because Mrs. Pope didn't fit the definition of an “indirect victim.” In a two-page document filed with the Ohio Court of Claims, an assistant attorney general concluded Mrs. Pope didn't have “direct awareness” of her husband's December 1997 slaying, nor did she witness the immediate aftermath.

        She is appealing the recommendation to the claims court, which has the final say on awards.

        Christopher Davey, a spokesman for the attorney general, said it isn't unusual for a claim to be denied even though somebody from his office has encouraged the claim.

        “When our staff meets with victims, they suggest they should apply for any benefits that are available. That isn't a guarantee, though,” Mr. Davey said.

        Are folks at the Ohio Department of Public Safety trying to hide something? Or do they just need a refresher course on writing in plain English?

        Here's the text of a press release the department faxed last week:

        “Senior U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich of the state's Northern District has issued her opinion granting the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction in J.L. Spoons, Inc. vs. Maureen O'Connor, Director of Public Safety. The judge enjoined the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) Investigative Unit from enforcing challenged sections of "Rule 52.'”


        It turns out this ruling is significant. J.L. Spoons is a Cleveland-area company that owns strip clubs.The judge's decision reversed, for the time being, a state rule allowing strip clubs to serve liquor.

        Never fear, code-breakers. According to the press release, “The Ohio Department of Public Safety's Investigative Unit will uniformly apply "Rule 52' throughout the state as limited by the judge's ruling.”

        Dick Finan and Ken Blackwell may both be from Cincinnati. They both may be Republicans. But they often are at odds with each other.

        Mr. Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state, backs attempts to require a hard-to-muster three-fifths majority to pass tax increases in the General Assembly. Mr. Finan, president of the state Senate, staunchly opposes the idea, saying it would constrain state government in tough times.

        While Mr. Finan helped lead the 1998 effort to get voters to approve a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase for schools and property tax relief, Mr. Blackwell helped lead the opposition.

        So it was a bit of a shock last week to see Mr. Finan coming to Mr. Blackwell's defense in his latest constituent column.

        Mr. Finan called complaints about Mr. Blackwell's numerous trips out of state on other business “either politics or sour grapes.”

        “Ken Blackwell is doing tremendous work as co-chairman of the Census Monitoring Board,” Mr. Finan wrote. “It is crucial that we get a fair, complete and honest count of who lives in this country and where they live. I am happy to have my taxpayer money help in this endeavor.

        “As far as his time working for a presidential candidate, I consider that to be totally politics and a non-event.”

        By the way, Mr. Finan and Mr. Blackwell also are on opposite sides in the presidential race. Mr. Finan backs Texas Gov. George W. Bush, while Mr. Blackwell is national chairman of Steve Forbes' campaign.


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- Suggestion to widow wasn't promise