All posts for the month January, 2016

Anti-Bullying programs are political

Published January 22, 2016 by justicewg

The parents who are trying to improve the anti-Bully programs at Grandview Heights are exasperated by the resistance they have encountered, if I’m reading their Facebook page correctly. After all, nobody will say, “I am pro bullying”. So why is it so hard to change the school? The problem is that change has a political component that is not spoken out loud. There is a close concept to anti-Bullying, called “Political Correctness”, that adds a political side effect . Given the current climate, nothing political will be easy.

Palin calls“Political Correctness” a Suicide Bomb Vest

There was a lot of word salad in the speech that Sarah Palin gave when she endorsed Donald Trump, but her use of the term “Political Correctness” and comparing those who want to see more PC speech to terrorists, is now standard for those on the far right (which now seems to be the majority of the Republicans).

For the most people, the term PC is nothing more than an expectation that rude speech is poor manners. Racist and sexist talk is not acceptable from anyone who represents a business, it can get people fired if they imply that brown customers are unwelcome or that women are too dumb to use a product or service of any company. Insulting a potential customer group is bad PR.

There has always been a conservative push back against PC in political speech, and it is now become one of the top issues of the race for the republican presidential candidates. All of them complain that they are being held back by PC critics, and spend much of their speeches blasting the concept of politically correct speech, as though it was a foreign invader which infected us.

Trump has brought racist speech to the front of the conversation, with his beliefs that Mexican immigrants are bringing crime and disease, and that Muslims should be stopped at the border. He has normalized anti-gay and sexist speech, he calls his female critics ‘fat pigs,’ and ‘dogs,’ Trump has supporters who say, “he speaks out when we can’t, because of PC police”.

Bullying is mostly about prejudice

Kids who make fun of gay classmates, or fat kids, or any of the different categories kids are divided into are mostly allowing prejudice to become a weapon to use against others. An important step in anti-Bully programs that are effective is to teach that prejudice is wrong.

Parents who belong to a church that teaches that gays are evil have probably already contacted school board members, and told them that they will not stand for any rules at the school that imply their religious beliefs are wrong. Conservative parents conflate anti-Bully with “PC out of control”, and they will made it clear that they will be looking for a new board member to support if the school gets serious about bully prevention.

Politics are crazy right now, and it’s sad that they have leaked into the school system. I think they will be the unspoken gunk that will slow the gears of change for the foreseeable future.

The majority of the school board members are conservatives who have not given any public comments about political correctness, but they can be expected to follow their leaders in condemning it. Bringing in some new board members in the next election will be needed for change at the school.


Article in the Dispatch – Programs to fight bullying set up in central Ohio schools

Culp is quoted in the article saying “I disagree that the district isn’t doing all it can.”


Safe Schools for Grandview asks Culp for better bullying prevention plan

Published January 18, 2016 by justicewg
Bullying on Flickr

Photo CC Flickr by Laura Lewis


A good article in the TVN outlines the position taken by Safe Schools for Grandview, a group formed as a reaction to bullying in the Grandview schools. They created a survey in Oct 2015 that was filled out by 60 parents at the school, it shows the actual number of bullying incidents is much higher than the public record of bullying the school is required to track and publish.

A long history of hazing ignored

Grandview Heights schools have a long history of attempting to deal with hazing, most prominently during the term of board member Brian Cook (1998 to 2003). As city attorney he had to deal with the results of hazing rituals that sometimes caused injury ( a student was duck taped and thrown in a car trunk then driven at high speed over bumps and sharp corners). Paddling with boat oars was done. During his time on the school board he passed new rules and programs that sharply reduced hazing, but the attitude of “that’s the way we do things in Grandview” was difficult to change. There were board members who voted against curbing the hazing at the school. (Read the post where Cook talked about his work on the school board).

The board had one meeting

The members of the Safe Schools group also tried to go before the school board in the past. I posted the story back in 2012, during the 3 hour meeting anguished parents described the torrents of abuse some of their kids had to put up with on a daily basis. Promises were made to address the problems by the board members, but since that meeting there have been little changes other than some paperwork.

I talked to outgoing board member Adam Miller and asked him why that meeting changed so little at the school. He thought it may be traced to the “laid back” style of management that former superintendent O’Reilly used. Unless administration and teachers buy into any changes in policy and are made to be responsible for the implementation, any change in policies at the school will remain on paper.

The school board also makes it clear that they had little interest in follow up on bullying policy. In the past the school board has scheduled multiple meetings to deal with issues they cared about. The 2012 meeting was the end of the board’s public meetings or making statements on bullying.

The survey showed pervasive bullying

The Safe Schools group asked asked parents a number of questions about the experiences of their children and how they saw the school reacting to those incidents. The most important numbers – 74 percent of the respondents reported their child had been bullied – but only 30 percent had reported it to the district.

Both parents and children reported that they felt that the best action to take was to stay silent in the majority of cases. That might be a positive tactic if the child felt they could deal with bullying on their own, and then did successfully push back. Unfortunately it also is an indication of resignation, that there was no use in reporting because the school would take no actions. The survey found that in the cases where the parents reported bullying to the school, only five said the issue was handled appropriately.

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program recommended

The parent group has specific changes they would like to see implanted at the school, one of them is a program with researched backed effectiveness in prevention of bullying. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program has an impressive website and they say they are the most researched and best-known bullying prevention program available today.

On the group’s Facebook page they criticize the present “Bully-Proofing Youth” Program. This program, presented by a therapist with no academic credentials in dealing with bullying, focuses on teaching the child defensive tactics and suggests that parents and schools stay out of the conflicts between children. The group members feel this is blaming the victim.

Watch Culp for his reaction

The school board has already shown that they have little concern over bullying at the school. The parents group has taken the correct path and made a pitch to Superintendent Culp, asking for more than the pages of documentation he has offered (and which must be labeled as the programs that have been tried and failed at the schools). Watch Culp to see if he has any interest in making changes at the school, and if he has any ability to make administrators and teachers implement those changes.

(Feb update)

Article in the Dispatch – Programs to fight bullying set up in central Ohio schools

Culp is quoted in the article saying “I disagree that the district isn’t doing all it can.”

Who owns the trash in alleys?

Published January 12, 2016 by justicewg

Xmas TrashmanYou’re taking the trash out early one morning on the way to work. Across the alley you notice a nice picture frame set out beside your neighbor’s trash can. You walk over and check it out – nice condition, clean, the picture is nothing you want but the frame will fit perfectly in your living room with a new photo. You begin to walk back to your house, when suddenly a blinding light comes from a car you didn’t notice rolling up the alley. A loud voice comes from the police car.

“Sir, please stop. You are in violation of Grandview Ordinance 955.06 . Put the frame on the ground and place your hands behind your head!”

Could that happen in Grandview? I’m not sure if you can be arrested for picking items out of the alleys, but you certainly can be ticketed by the Grandview cops. Every couple months there is a story in the TVN police beat where people are ticketed “for removing material from alleys without a permit”. I wondered – what is the real deal on this law, can the city really make it illegal to remove trash – which was headed to packer trucks, then shredding and the landfill? Who owns stuff that is thrown away? Wouldn’t it be better for this stuff to be used by anyone who wanted it, or recycled for the value of the materials? And what is the “permit “ that is mentioned in the news stories, who gives these permits out?

Taking broken electronics from alleys

I have written about the topic of junk in the alleys before, please read this old post for more on why this issues is something I care about.

I have a more selfish reason to care about junk in the alleys, I belong to a small and nerdy group of people who look for old electronics equipment, do repairs, and use this old stuff. Watch this video from a YouTube guy who is well known for fixing discarded equipment.

My own attempts to learn electronic repair have been limited by a shortage of old electronics to practice on. Nobody tries to sell the old stuff on Craigslist, they either sell working equipment that is a few years old (for too much money), or they throw the old stuff in the trash. I have found a few treasures in the past, but I am limited in looking in the area around my house, I don’t want to have to explain to police officers why I want that old radio that is sitting on top of a trash can.

I asked for information from the Grandview police – exactly what ordinance is used to ticket people who take stuff out of the trash? How does one get a permit?

Official reply from Grandview Police

I asked the police chief some questions about the laws covering removal of trash from the alleys in Grandview, this is what I was emailed.

My name is Officer Janna Cohill with the Grandview Heights Police Department. I’m our Public Information Officer if you have any future questions.  The ordinance is 955.06-Private Collection Restricted, and it is posted under the Streets, Utilities, and Public Service Codes. I will attach a copy of the ordinance to this email.

The police department started enforcing the ordinance approximately five years ago, because we noticed that many of the people driving through to “scrap” were also committing crimes, such as, theft and criminal trespass. The thefts included items in residential yards, open garages and construction material that were obviously not scrap or trash. This ordinance assisted with monitoring our alley ways and combating crime in our city.

As far as obtaining a permit for this, the Mayor has the authority to issue them, but I do not believe he is approving any at this time.


Officer Janna Cohill

This is the ordinance that was attached to the email.


After January 1, 1955, no person, firm, or corporation shall engage in the business of collecting, hauling, or transporting along or over the streets, alleys, or public ways of the City and garbage except as is provided for by this chapter.

(Ord 63-54. Passed 12-6-54)

The obvious question this information provokes – it says you can not “engage in the business of collecting”. But if you are just a Grandview resident taking a picture frame leaning against the neighbor’s trash can, you are not engaged in any sort of business. How can this ordinance apply to you?

What the internet says about taking trash from alleys

I found a number of online legal resources, all of them said that it is not illegal to take something that has been thrown away, and that discarded items are in the public domain. You can’t trespass, you can’t take things that are not clearly trash, you can’t make a mess while looking in the alley, but it is not illegal to take discarded items.

The highest law in the land, the Supreme Court, made a decision in 1988 called California v. Greenwood that is the final words on the ownership of trash. From the website:

“CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) stemmed from a 1984 investigation in Laguna Beach, Calif. Investigators suspected Billy Greenwood of drug trafficking and found evidence in his curbside trash. The evidence enabled them to obtain a full search warrant of his house which lead to his arrest, but charges were dropped because of the unwarranted search of his trash citing fourth amendment rights.

In California v. Greenwood, the Supreme Court ended up ruling in favor of investigators and held that “the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home.”

Because the police want the right to go through trash looking for evidence of crime, the Supreme Court has ruled that all trash is public domain. Anyone who wants it can take it, police or private citizen.

If you are uneasy about the though of either police or snoopy neighbors looking in your trash can, understand this – your trash has always been a weak security spot, no matter what the laws say. If you throw important paperwork out without shredding, if you toss computer equipment away without wiping the hard drives, you have set yourself up for identity theft. It is your responsibility to keep vital information secure, so that nobody can use it. This is identity theft prevention 101, it has been hammered in the news reports about identity security, and by police who are trying to stop this crime.

Even if Grandview could make it illegal to take items from the alley, where do you think that stuff goes after it leaves the trash trucks? Do you think the people who work further down the trash pipe have security clearances?

Grandview considers the law as written

After I asked further questions about the ownership of discarded trash and the city ordinance, I was told that more consideration is needed.

I’ll be posting more on the questions about this issue. Stay tuned.

Previously – Junkman in the alley

Junkman in the alley, part two

The final word on taking junk from the alley –

Khouzam agrees that taking discarded stuff from the alley is legal

Council presidency moves from Panzera to Kearns

Published January 6, 2016 by justicewg

Greta KearnsCouncil member Greta Kearns has moved up to the presidency position at the first 2016 meeting. Chris Smith, who was also elected on an uncontested ballot in 2013, will be the new council vice-president.

Kearns is a local attorney in private practice. A quick search of the local news reporting of the council shows that she was not associated with any newsworthy policy changes at the council . She was quoted in one Dispatch story about the possible cancellation of the COTA #19 bus, she expressed opposition to the ending of the route. She served as the Planning and administration chair on the council committee assignment. Sometimes council members with more neutral positions are the ones who can earn the most votes from their fellow council members.

Anthony Panzera was first elected to serve as council vice president during a mid-2000’s term on the council. He was elected to the top spot in 2013, and will continue as a regular council member.