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All posts for the month November, 2014

Missing OSU player last pinged in Grandview Heights – now found

Published November 28, 2014 by justicewg

(Sunday Nov. 30, Kosta’s body was found in a dumpster on campus, it is assumed at this point that he killed himself)

Kosta was last seen around 2 am November 26. His family is asking for info regarding his whereabouts.

Senior walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge was reported missing by his parents on Thursday morning. According to a Facebook post from Karageorge’s mother, Karageorge has been missing since 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Nov. 26, and the family filed a missing persons report hours later. At 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Karageorge’s phone was pinged in Grandview Heights.

Karageorge, 22, was last seen wearing black sweatpants over his jeans, a black sweatshirt with FOC on it, a black beanie, and Timberland boots. He also recently shaved his head and has a short beard.

A CH 4 report said Karageorge’s sister says he has a history of sports related concussions, so his family fears he may be disoriented. From the story:

His mother tells NBC4 she received a text from Kosta at 1:25 a.m. Wednesday that stated: “Sorry if I am an embarrassment, but these concussions have my head all [expletive] up.”

No matter what the outcome of the search for Kosta, this will add to the controversy over head injuries to college football players.

This would be a good time for Grandview residents to check in your backyard, inside garages and sheds, any place a disoriented person might be seeking shelter. A reward is being offered for info.

(Update)

Condolences to the friends and family of Karageorge. He sounded like a great kid.

There is still a question about the location of Karageorge during the time he was missing. The last ping from his phone was at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Grandview Heights. The women who found his body said she checked in the dumpster on Thursday and saw nothing. That means his whereabouts on Wednesday and Thursday are still unknown. There is a chance he was hiding inside a garage or shed inside Grandview during those days, and then returned to campus on Friday. It would still be a good thing to look for clues inside outbuildings here in Grandview that might pinpoint the place Kosta spent those days.

(Much later update)

There is a NYT story that covers the story about Karageorge. Although there is plenty of indication he suffered head injury from football, he also was getting damage from the wrestling injuries as far back as his high school career. Seems like a open and shut case for more rule changes in athletics to protect young people. Most of them will never achieve the high paid positions on professional sports teams, so the “suck it up and deal with injuries” mentality is causing permanent damage with nothing to show for it in the long run.

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Grandview Hts. – CrunkTown or OVI Trap? – (G.W.)

Published November 12, 2014 by justicewg

This repost from the old blog is a conversation I had with city councilman Ed Hastie. I don’t have any current data on OVI rates, but I’m assuming that Grandview has continued to have the same high rate of arrest for drunk drivers in the city that it had in 2009.

One change in Grandview that might make it even more of a OVI trap is the addition of bars to the Grandview Yard development. The new Hofbrauhaus seems like it would be a bonanza for cops waiting to bust drivers leaving the parking lot. My experience with the place is that it doesn’t really encourage hard drinking, the crowds and high prices drinks were not drunk friendly. I can’t even say I saw a single drunk person, there were people standing on benches, but if they were tipsy they would have ended on the floor. Things might change when the patio that is being built is opened next year.

(from 2009)

Reading through the gripping meeting notes of the Dec. council meeting, I came across this interesting little FYI from member Ed Hastie:

…Hastie commented that in reviewing statistics on OVI violations, the City of Columbus averages eleven (11) OVI’s per square mile and the City of Grandview Heights averages sixty-four (64). The City is by far the highest in the County … Hastie encouraged everyone to take a cab.

That’s a big jump in the OVI rate, something unusual is going on here in Grandview. I decided to go to the source and ask what Ed knew about these numbers.

JW: Where did you get the stats on OVI in the county?

EH: I was citing stats from an article in a magazine my friend edits. I’m sure its fairly easy to find the number of OVIs (OVI is the new “in” term with the legislature) in each municipality and then divide it by the square miles.

JW: Why do you think that Grandview has such a high number of OVIs?

EH: (1) Density: I don’t necessarily think Grandview has an abnormally high number considering that square mile figures are bound to be skewed in a place that is 1.42 sq. miles and monitors high traffic areas like 33. The bulk of our OVI’s happen on the edges of GH (33, 5th, Goodale). I’m sure if you took high traffic areas in Columbus the numbers would be comparable (315, Lane, High Street, etc). We have a heighten number of people who use 33/Goodale to travel through Grandview from Arena district and Short North.
(2) More Police: More observation leads to more arrests. The NHSTA cites a study that says each OVI offender drove 80 times (yes, that’s the right figure) under the influence in the year leading up the arrest. So the VAST majority of Drunk Drivers go uncaught. We have more police out in a small area, hence more arrest.

JW: Is it better enforcement? Or more residents who drink and drive?

EH: I doubt its GH residents that make up the bulk of the offenders.

JW: Is there something about Grandview that attracts outsiders to drink here, then drive? Maybe lax enforcement by the bars of cutting people off who drink at Grandview bars?

EH: I think more people drink elsewhere and happen to pass through Grandview(or Grandview Patrolled areas) on the way home. The vast majority of watering holes in the area are in Columbus, So I don’t think its GH bars per se. As far as lax enforcement by the bars – I don’t see these bars as a problem. I have watched people get cut off (or not even served) at several of the places in the area. The majority of my practice is representing bars, restaurants, and wineries. They have an IMMENSE amount to loose if they over serve and look the other way. I hope I was able to answer your questions. I’m always available to discuss.

What is a city council member doing at several bars in Grandview? Inspecting * the city? 😉

I think Mr. Hastie’s job representing alcohol serving establishments might bias his observation about cutting patrons off, but it does ring true from what I have seen. Bars in Grandview will not risk their licenses in a residential area that does not put up with drunks in the streets.

Both Goodale and 33 are frequent locations for the OVI busts listed in the police beat reports in the papers. They are probably considered “safe routes” for late night return drives from bars, who knows how the minds of drunk drivers work, but they could conclude that the freeway would be more highly patrolled.

So my conclusion is – Grandview is an OVI trap. Drunk drivers beware. Use the designated driver system. Or just stay in your own neighborhood and walk, there is no shortage of bars in the metro area.

*Columbus had a Mayor named Tom Moody (he served from 1972 to 1984) who was found with his car wrapped around a pole at 3AM on Cleveland Ave. As I remember the incident, he was able to use his status as Mayor to avoid taking an alcohol test, but it was assumed by everyone that it was the cause of the accident. When Moody was asked why he was out so late driving so far from home, he famously replied “I was inspecting the city”. This became a catch-phrase for drinkers, any time we would go out to hit bars we would say we were “out to do some city inspection”.

(From Grandview Watch, 2009)

I only post my comments on this blog

Published November 9, 2014 by justicewg

I was reading a post by tech journalist Steven Levy in which he tells the story of how his name has been erroneously added to a widely shared email about the so called “war on Christmas”. He had nothing to do with the email, but every year he gets comments from people who think it was his words in that rant.

I had a new experience in the days around the last election – people were sending emails out that pretended to be from me, or with my support. The election is over, hopefully things will calm down and the over-caffeinated people who try to send all kinds of rants on the internet will go back to normal. I hope that I will not have to deal with this during every election, but like Levy and many others who find themselves attributed with saying things that they never said on the internet, I have no way to stop it from happening.

I have had this blog (and the previous blog Grandview Watch) for more than 10 years. In all that time, I have used this blog to post my opinions, not emails. I don’t post on Facebook, I don’t use the comment sections of local newspapers. Other than a few letters to the editor in the Tri-Village News, this is where you will read anything that I post.

Any email you have read that pretends to be from Watching Grandview, or justicewg, or John Wagner, is fake. I am not famous enough to get a page on Snopes to debunk fake emails, but you can use this website as a substitute. If I don’t say it here, you are reading a false email.

I can’t say why someone would do this. Maybe somebody with a beef with a school board member is using my name to throw attention away from themselves. Maybe this is a false-flag operation. There are lots of reasons someone could try this. None of them very good, most of them pretty useless at attaining whatever goal they have.

I’m guessing things will go back to normal after the election, but I’ll again say this – you might think you are good at covering your tracks on the internet. Unless you are a hacker with some deep knowledge of the net, you are not as anonymous as you think.

How bad can it get?

If you are interested in learning how bad the trolling can get for someone who posts controversial material on the internet, try reading this story. Author and former Jezebel columnist Lindy West had a troll who made a fake twitter profile using the name and photo of her deceased father, and used it to send trolling comments. That’s how bad it can be.

The surprising part of the story is that after West found the true identity of the troll and confronted him, it turned out he was just mildly annoyed and though the trolling was a joke. When he read how hurtful the posts from her dead father were to West, he realized that it was way over the line, and had some regret (although who knows if that regret was made up because he got caught). A lot of internet trolling is not from anger, but boredom and envy.

Strategic compensation for teachers in Ohio

Published November 3, 2014 by justicewg

Performance based compensation. Merit pay. Strategic compensation. These are all names for a method of teacher compensation that uses teacher ratings, informed by standardized testing of students, and sets in place a system that gives more money to high rated teachers. Some think this is needed in order to “run schools like a business”. Others promote it because it weakens the options teacher unions have to ask for raises, and they see any method of weakening unions as a good thing. What none of the proponents can show is a correlation between these plans and increased performance in the classroom by students.

I looked back at the history of this idea in Ohio, identified some of the people pushing it, and how well they succeeded in putting it into practice. I also looked at the Reynoldsburg school district, to figure out how the school board members decided to try it in their schools, and what they told the parents about their plans before they caused a three week long strike, disrupting all learning and costing the school more than a million dollars.

What the experts say

I highly recommend reading this post by Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D.. He did an exhaustive compilation of the research on the issue of teacher evaluation based on student test scores. There isn’t any “maybe it works” to be found in the research, every single study done by a non-ideological researcher or organization finds that the “noise” in normal student test variation drowns out any useful teacher evaluation data.

School system that try to use these teacher rating systems regularly show how wrong they can be. A Teacher of Year rated “unsatisfactory” in Florida. One of nation’s top high schools rated as ‘needs improvement’ under the state’s teacher evaluation system. Contrary the what the Bill Gates style reformers think, the best schools come from areas with strong teacher unions.

Bill Gates should stick to computers

Bill Gates retired from running his software mega-giant, and decided to use his vast wealth to make changes in the way schools are run. The problem is that using methods and thinking that made him a billionaire turns out to have little value in improving schools.

Around 2000 he decided that big schools were the problem with education, and he began a program to offer schools money to break up the size of large schools. Not a totally wrong idea, but after he found that it it resulted in small improvements after spending a lot of money, he dropped the plan. His current idea that will revolutionize the school system in this country is to “run schools like a business”, and offer more money to teachers who have students that do well in standardized tests.

That’s not a new idea at all, it has been tried (and failed) a number of times in the past. The difference is that Gates’s foundation has the money to really promote the idea, and the political power to push it in the halls of government. The federal “Race to the Top” program encourages these ideas. The school system that have implemented these teacher rating systems have again shown that the plan is a failure.

SB 5 in Ohio

While Gates says he doesn’t have a problem with teacher unions, and is not shy about trying to buy their willingness to try out his ideas, the Republicans in Ohio are open with their contempt for unions. This resulted in the passing of Senate Bill 5 in 2011.

Under the supervision of Governor John Kasich, the Republican controlled senate passed a bill called SB 5 that was a direct attack on all public employee unions. It sharply limited the ability of police, teachers, firefighters and all other public union members to negotiate for higher wages and better working conditions. It would have stripped step pay increases from teachers and required student test based compensation plans.

The unions went full out in opposition. In the Nov. 2011 general election the law was repealed 62 percent to 38 percent. It was hoped that this was the end of these sort of dumb ideas in Ohio, but instead it just shifted the plans to implement them on a local level, one school board at a time.

Reynoldsburg board drives off a cliff

There were clues that indicated the Reynoldsburg school board was trying to remove step pay and implement teacher compensation based on student scores. The vice-president was a hard line right winger, featured in a film that showed the anger and contempt she held for those outside her Value Voter Coalition. Yet there was no conversation between the board and the community about the possibility of the board taking this radical action, the newspaper report of the candidate night recorded that the questions and answers were focused on class size. Board president Swope and VP Tornero were re-elected in 2013, and took this as an approval for them to take the school system off the cliff on a foolish and expensive attack on the teacher union. They hired a new superintendent who was an insider with the Kasich team.

The only way the public found out about the removal of step pay from teachers was as the negotiations broke down in the summer. Large crowds attended Reynoldsburg board meetings in August and September, pleading with the board to stop. The board ignored the large crowds and hired a strike-breaking company, insuring that the fight would be long and dirty.

Three weeks after they started the fight with the teachers, the board capitulated on all points. The school had not been able to hire enough strike-breaking teachers or control the fighting going on inside the schools with private security patrolling the halls. Teaching was reduced to giving the kids chromebooks and telling them to look at online instruction.

The school system now faces a bill of more than a million dollars for the failed attempt at running a school without union teachers. The students now need to re-start the year, with weeks of wasted learning to try to catch up on. The October board meeting was filled with angry parents who booed the board into silence when they tried to fend off criticism. A petition signed by more than 1K community members asked for the resignation of the superintendent and the president and VP of the board.

(Dec 16) Reynoldsburg Board of Education President Andrew Swope resigned, and said he was moving his family out of the area.

Who is next?

This will not be the end of the attempts by the true believers in pushing the teachers of Ohio into giving up step pay and using performance compensation. The only question is, which school district will be next?

The Kasich question

A complication to the question of strategic teacher compensation is the re-election of Kasich to the Governor’s office. Will he take his re-election, and the even more republican statehouse, as an opportunity to pass “Son of SB5”, as a way to solidify his support with the tea party on the way to a presidential run?

I have read a lot of stories that try to plot out the path Kasich could take on the way to a run for the white house. Most of them fail to see a man who wants to go through the wringer of a national campaign after his failed attempt in 1999. But he has a window that is open – the current field is filled with tea party, hard right candidates, unpopular with women and working class voters. Kasich won in the 2014 Ohio election with 60 percent of the women’s vote. He had support from workers. He even had 40% of the black vote. There is no other national republican candidate who seems to have a broad a support base as Kasich, even if he is unpopular with the tea party for accepting Medicaid money to bring Obamacare to the poor in Ohio.

If Kasich is thinking about running for national office, he has no reason to bring back a fight he lost the last time SB 5 was tried in Ohio. His brand will be “the moderate republican who can get a broad base of support”. And if he doesn’t run – what does he gain by doing something he said he wouldn’t try in his election campaign?

The above is speculation about Kasich’s plan for the future. His party in Ohio, and the true believers who want strategic compensation, will continue to push it on a local level. As soon as the memory of Reynoldsburg has faded (and Kasich showed that memories are short), a new school district will be the pushing the idea, bringing in strike-breaking management, filling the school with private security. You can be sure that Reynoldsburg was the laboratory for learning how to break unions.