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Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour – 01.12.17

Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour – 01.12.17

THE DONALD TRUMP SHOW has now moved to prime time as The Donald turns his first press conference into a hilarious un-reality show of abject absurdity and terror.

Co-author BOB FITRAKIS join filmmakers JiM HEDDLE & MARY-BETH BRANGAN to review the data on why this is the product of yet another stolen election that had nothing to do with the Russians.

We’re then joined by the great investigative journalist KARL GROSSMAN to tell us about the SHUT-DOWN OF INDIAN POINT and other nuclear/Solartopian realities we can expect with The Donald.

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Unraveling a Rigged Election – Fitrakis & Wasserman

original site/link: http://planetarianperspectives.net/unraveling-a-rigged-election-fitrakis-wasserman/

Posted on December 20, 2016 by James Heddle

Harvey Wasserman interviews investigative reporting partner Bob Fitrakis about the rigged 2016 selection and the inside story of the attempted recount for his weekly radio program, the Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour. EON photo

The Woodward and Bernstein of Election Integrity
Every presidential election since 2004, we have traveled to Columbus, in key swing state of Ohio, to video document election protection efforts by Harvey Wasserman, Bob Fitrakis and the Columbus Free Press team (FreePress.org). We made the trip again this year and have just returned from filming post-recount interviews with both of them in Columbus last week.

Harvey Wasserman – an author, historian, celebrated journalist and lifelong activist, and Bob Fitrakis – a practicing attorney who holds doctorates in both political science and law – are also both popular professors in Columbus colleges.

Dubbed by admirer Jesse Jackson as ‘the Woodward and Bernstein of election integrity’ – after the Washington Post reporters that famously broke the Watergate story in the Nixon era – Fitrakis and Wasserman’s research and reporting on election theft has twice won Project Censored awards.

The Free Press and its sponsoring organization the Columbus Institute of Contemporary Journalism (CICJ) has been in operation since 1970 and run since the ‘90s by life-partners Bob Fitrakis and Suzanne Patzer and their colleague Harvey Wasserman. Their work has been a vital epicenter not only of local community organizing and investigative reporting, but also of the national US Election Protection movement.

At the same time, they have either been consistently ignored or repeatedly denounced by mainstream media as “conspiracy theorists.”

Nevertheless, their ground-breaking findings have consistently been validated by subsequent developments. They were unfortunately right on target with their prescient analysis of the 2016 election in their book “The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft,” published in early 2016, months before the Nov. 8 vote.

For more than a decade, from their unique vantage point in one of the country’s main ground zero’s of vote rigging, they‘ve documented the multiple methods by which America’s elections have been stolen…and helped to galvanize grassroots awareness and resistance not only in Ohio, but across the country.

EON is proud to help give their important work wider exposure. Here are four recent video interviews done as the election saga unfolded, and links to recent articles.

[ In the works: A report from inside the recount saga and post-Electoral College analysis. ]

Interviews with the FreePress Team On EON’s YouTube Channel & Vimeo

Losers Win, Winners Lose
Bob Fritakis and Harvey Wasserman on the seriously flawed US voting and electoral college system and the outcome of the 2016 election. The FreePress.org reporting team that Jesse Jackson dubbed the Woodward and Bernstein of Election Protection comment on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and why the American election system needs a total overhaul from top to bottom.

Losers Win, Winners Lose – Fitrakis & Wasserman on Election 2016 from Ecological Options Network on Vimeo.

The Illegitimate Election 2016
What are the legitimate grounds for calling the recent election awarding the Presidency to Donald Trump illegitimate? Political scientist and attorney Dr. Robert Fitrakis and investigative historian Harvey Wasserman – editors of FreePress.org – summarize the evidence in this exclusive EON interview.

They are the co-authors of the book STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 – Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available here –
https://freepress.org/store.php

Greg Palast interviews Bob Fitrakis on Voter Purges
How did the Ohio Republican Sec. of State purge and disenfranchise so many voters from the voter rolls? A conversation between Bob Fitrakis and Greg Palast, two of the leading investigative reporters on the many vote rigging methods at work in US elections.

Palast Interviews Fitrakis on Election Theft
Why before the Nov. 8, 2016 election, did Republican authorities in key swing state Ohio turn off the safety features for ballot records even though this security measure is already programmed into their electronic voting machine software?
A conversation between Bob Fitrakis and Greg Palast, two of the leading investigative reporters on the many vote rigging methods at work in US elections.

Clips from this interview were aired as part of Greg Palast’s report on Democracy Now

Election Coverage Links

Free Press Election Reporting

FreePress.org Articles

#4 Story at Project Censored

Greg Palast Reports

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If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.

About James Heddle
James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan administer this blog as well as eon3EMFblog.net. Award-winning media producers as well as educators and community organizers, they co-direct EON – the Ecological Options Network . The EON YouTube channel has over 400 posts and over 2,000 subscribers.
View all posts by James Heddle

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The gatekeepers: Striking it rich in the bail bond business

Columbus Alive Archive Article

The gatekeepers (Bail bonds)
05/07/1997
FEATURED ARTICLE
The gatekeepers
Striking it rich in the bail bond business

by Bob Fitrakis

Despite a city ordinance prohibiting the soliciting of business by bail bondsmen, “in or around any court or public place,” a month-long investigation by Columbus Alive revealed that the law is routinely ignored. One firm, SMD & HLS Bonding Company, appears to be running its business from the “interview” room next to arraignment Courtroom 4D in the Municipal Court building. SMD & HLS bail bonders linger in the hall and sit in the back of the court and appear to be soliciting business.

The so-called public “interview” room appears to function as a high-powered office for the SMD & HLS Bonding Company, listed in the yellow pages as four different firms: Handler Bonding, Lowell Fox, Sam English and A-Aa Absolute Bail Bonds. Still appearing in the yellow pages entry is a photo of Sam English, who has been dead for several years. As of the writing of this article, the woman who answers the phone at the Sam English firm tells callers that Mr. English “isn’t in.”

Although the courthouse is a no-smoking public building, smoke wafts from the interview room when the door is opened as bail bondsmen hustle family and friends of defendants from the arraignment court to their office equipped with phones and a criss-cross phone directory. As one highly placed law-enforcement source put it, “It’s the old adage. The best place to hide illegal activity is out in the open.”

A non-Handler bondsman pointed out what he saw as an analogous situation. In 1990, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Judge Ralph D. Dye Jr. of McConnelsville for using public space to conduct private business. The board labeled his free-rent arrangement at the courthouse “inexcusable, unfair to other attorneys and unethical.”

In a letter dated November 21, 1996, in response to a public records request, Municipal Clerk of Courts Paul Herbert, stated: “I have not been designated, nor do I have any authority to enforce the use of the conference room next to Court Room 4D. …The rules for the use of the room have been clearly posted on the door.”

Asked if his bondsmen are soliciting business on the fourth floor, Handler said in a telephone interview: “Totally untrue. I don’t need to solicit. I’ve been in business 25 years. I advertise. People refer other people to me.”

Are his bondsmen running a business out of the Interview room next to 4D? “No,” Handler responded.

Most court officials say that the interview room is set up to serve lawyers and their clients for privileged private discussion. On three different occasions, when Columbus Alive watched the Interview Room, the only people inside were bail bondsmen. The rules, according to a non-Handler bondsman, are “first-come, first-serve. But, it’s like the Old West. [Handler]’s got Woody Fox, a retired Columbus police officer working as a bondsman. He’s got Al Clark, former chief deputy at the sheriff’s department, and when you go up there, Handler’s got the nerve to tell you that you’re not supposed to be there. ‘No soliciting.’ So now I just sit by the phone and wait for people to call for bonds. It’s cheaper. Everyone over there has their palms out; if you pay one, you’ve got to pay ’em all.”

Handler now appears to be the top gun, but not after a fight—literally. In 1994, the Columbus Dispatch reported that “Bondsman Jack Bates said his nose was bloodied and his face bruised when Mark Glaser, a bondsman with Harvey Handler’s bail bonding agency, struck him in the face on the fourth floor of the Franklin County Municipal Court.”

Ironically, bail bondsmen were supposed to be a thing of the past. In 1972, Ohio Chief Justice C. William O’Neill attacked the Ohio General Assembly for yielding to “pressure from bail bondsmen in rejecting rules for criminal procedure” reforms proposed by the Ohio Supreme Court in January of ’72. In a Dispatch article, O’Neill stated that, “In 90 percent of the cases the bail bondsman renders no service and takes no risk, but keeps his profit.”

By 1974, the Franklin County Municipal Court initiated its Pre-Trial Release Program (PTRP) in hopes of eliminating the need for costly and often unnecessary bond fees in most criminal cases. The era of reform is long over in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Herbert acknowledges in his letter that between January 1, 1996 and September 30, 1996 SMD & HLS Bonding Company wrote far more bonds in Municipal Court than any other firm. The breakdown is as follows: SMD & HLS Bonding Company – 3411; Columbus Bail Bonds – 891; Chuck Brown Bail Bond Agency – 603; International Bonds – 424; Bates Bonding – 52; American Bail Bond Agency – 15; other – 75.

Whether it’s legal or not is a question few judges or court officials care to probe. A cozy relationship exists between bail bondsman Harvey Handler—who manages or controls the four different bail bonding agencies in Columbus—and judges, Clerk of Court officials and court employees. Handler is a major political contributor to judicial and Clerk of Court office candidates and sometimes generous benefactor to court employees.

“Handler runs the fourth floor,” said former bail bondsman Bill Neil. “It’s a protected racket. The reason they like the fourth floor of Muni Court is because the felons are initially arraigned there, even though they’re tried in Common Pleas.

“It’s easy money. They can bail somebody out and they know the charges will be dropped within two weeks in Municipal Court because they have to be tried in Common Pleas. They’re just taking people’s money with no risk involved,” explained Neil.

Neil claims he went “broke in the business. Every two weeks, when the clerks didn’t get paid, I had to spend $50 or $60 to get pizzas…. And I had to give a security guard 30 bucks to pass out my business card.”

Under the current system, for example, if you are arrested for felonious assault and your bond is set at $5,000, you must pay 10 percent, or $500, to the court for an “appearance bond” or $500 to a bail bondsman for a “surety” bond. In the case of an appearance bond, you would get all but 10 percent ($450) back when you appear in court. With a surety bond from a bail bondsman, you would get nothing back when you appear at trial. But if you paid a surety bond and failed to show at trial, the bondsman is legally liable for the entire $5,000 bond.

The type of bonds are set at the judge’s discretion. Judges may also set recognizance bonds and release the defendant without posting any cash.

“Judges vary greatly. When I was in the business, if [Municipal Court Judge] Anne Taylor was on the bench doing arraignments, we took the week off,” Neil explained.

Curiously, Criminal Rule 46 of Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure concerning the “Pre-trial release in felony cases,” provides that judges should use “personal recognizance” or an “unsecured appearance bond” as the “preferred method of release.” But few judges besides Taylor appear to follow it.

Since the Municipal Court cannot try felony cases, arrested felons are seen by municipal judges primarily for the setting of bond. Court records indicate that arrested felons are routinely arraigned and bonded on the fourth floor of the Municipal Court building and, just as routinely, the charges are dismissed a short time later. Defendants are told that the case will “be dismissed for possible future indictment.”

A grand jury later meets in the Common Pleas Court and holds a hearing. If an indictment is handed up, a summons is usually issued for a Common Pleas court appearance. Thus, what the bail bondsmen know is that there is little or no risk involved in forfeiting a surety bond in Municipal Court since the charges against the defendants will be dismissed. “It’s a scam,” as one bondsman put it. By not carrying over the bonds from the Municipal Court arraignments of felons to Common Pleas Court cases, Handler and other bondsmen are regularly pocketing thousands of dollars in risk-free money. And defendants are often surprised when they are required to repost bond money when they are summoned to Common Pleas Court.

If Municipal Clerk of Courts Herbert, “wanted to put his foot down, he could end this practice tomorrow,” said a S. High Street bondsman critical of Handler. “I’ve practiced in Marion County, Delaware County, Madison County and Franklin County. This is the only place that allows this to go on,” he added.

Herbert, who is up for re-election this year, is on record defending the practices of his court. “…You must realize that surety bonds provide a valuable service to the criminal justice system. Not only do you have agents with a vested interest in catching and returning defendants to court to stand trial for their conduct, but the court holds the security (in the form of a power) that can be executed against for the amount of the bond if the defendant does not return or the agent does not pay the bond.”

Herbert pointed out in a telephone interview Monday that the interview room is “open to the public, attorneys and bondsmen.” While his office is on the fourth floor, he said he was unaware of any soliciting of business by bondsmen. “I have no idea; I don’t police those rooms.” He suggested that Administrative Judge David Fais or Building Manager Bill Charlton would be responsible. “I try to stay out of that area,” Herbert added.

Asked about his relationship with Handler, Herbert acknowledged that Handler is a political contributor to Herbert and other judges and court-related officials, but not a “big donor.” Herbert did term Handler “very supportive” of his own political campaign.

Both Neil and other bondsmen charge that the Clerk’s office allows another infamous “rip-off” of criminal defendants. All bonds include an additional fee collected for the Victims of Crime Fund and the Public Defender’s Office. In felony cases, this amounts to $41: $30 to the Victim’s Fund and $11 to the Public Defenders. When cases are dismissed, or defendants are found not guilty, the money is returned to the bondsman who posted it, not to the defendant who supplied the cash. Legally, the money belongs to the defendants, but all too frequently, bondsmen fail to return the money and pocket it as pure profit. With no court enforcement to return the funds, the bail bondsmen benefit. “Money for nothing,” one bondsman explained. Neil pointed out that since most of the defendants are poor and uneducated, they are “easy marks” who don’t understand the legal system and are unlikely to protest the practice. Plus, their reputation as suspected criminals does not garner much sympathy for their plight.

Asked if the bondsmen are essentially taking defendants’ money twice, Herbert responded, “I suppose they would [be]. You need to ask the prosecutors, they’re the ones that dismiss the cases.”

According to a 1994 Dispatch article, 1,279 defendants released on surety bonds set in Municipal Court skipped bond. Neil and other bail bondsmen charge that Municipal Clerk of Court Herbert and Franklin County Clerk of Courts Jesse Oddi show favoritism to Handler’s firms. “Hell, when I had to pay a bond for a skip, the deputy clerks used to joke that ‘Handler’s guys are never down here,’” said Neil.

The Dispatch article also reported that: “In reality, court officials say more than half of bond forfeitures are set aside by judges. They may forgive the debt at their discretion.” Court records obtained by Columbus Alive indicate that court officials seem to be more forgiving for the Handler firms than others. Take the case of Dean Hinchee, arrested in 1991. Handler posted a $3,500 surety bonded for Hinchee on November 11, 1991. When Hinchee failed to show on January 28, 1992, Handler had 30 days to produce him or forfeit the bond. In a November 1996 billing to the SMD & HLS Bonding Company, a Dean Hinchere is listed instead of Hinchee. Although the names are spelled differently, Alive has obtained copies showing that the case numbers are the same: 29681. In the ’96 Handler billing the court requests only $350 from SMD & HLS Bonding when the full amount that should have been forfeited by Handler in 1992 for Hinchee’s court skip is $3,500.

Either by accident or design, Franklin County Courts are apparently shaving a zero off of Handler’s bond forfeiture bills, in effect billing one of the court’s major political donors at only 10 percent of the amount due.

Asked about the apparent shaving, Herbert said, “It’s currently being litigated” and refused further comment.

Asked about the allegations that bills are being shaved, Handler answered: “Totally incorrect. It doesn’t deserve a response. My attorneys are dealing with it.”

When probed about allegations that court employees have accepted gratuities from Handler and other bail bondsmen, Herbert said, “I don’t think that’s going on; if it is, they need to knock it off. We’re not supposed to be taking anything of value; but it’s a gray area of the law.” Herbert pointed out that, unless there was a quid pro quo, a gift for service, any gratuities or perks provided court officials by bondsmen probably aren’t illegal. “We should avoid the appearance of impropriety, and I’ve instructed my people not to accept any gifts.”

The billing of bondsmen seems to be a haphazard system. Herbert and his deputy clerks reportedly have busied themselves of late putting records into “storage.” This may make it all the more difficult to account for the total amount of forfeited bonds owed the Municipal Court by bond firms. In an independent audit by KPMG Peat Marwick LLP for the period January 1, 1994 through December 31, 1994, the report states that the Municipal Court practices “other than generally accepted accounting principles.” In a June 25, 1996 letter, State Auditor Jim Petro—currently lobbying to head the U.S. General Accounting Office—”accepted” the KPMG report “in lieu of the audit required by Section 117.11 Revised Code.” Petro noted “The Auditor of State did not audit the accompanying financial statements and accordingly, we are unable to express, and do not express an opinion on them.”

The obvious beneficiaries of such a system are not the public or poor and uneducated defendants and their families and friends, but the incumbent judges and clerk candidates who receive political donations, and the bonding companies who benefit from court officials’ lack of oversight.

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Fight Back – Episode: 03/27/15 Columbus City Council Candidate Will Petrik

Fight Back – Episode: 03/27/15 Columbus City Council
Will Petrik Guest
https://www.facebook.com/will.petrik

See more at:

http://www.talktainmentradio.com/shows/fightback.html

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Fight Back – Episode: 03/20/15 Siddique Hasan Announcing The Hunger Strike At The Ohio State Penn

Fight Back – Episode: 03/20/15 Siddique Hasan announcing the hunger strike at the Ohio State Penn Play – See more at:

http://www.talktainmentradio.com/shows/fightback.html

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We can be silent no more: Shocking conditions at Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility

The Free Press has obtained a copy of a shocking Statement by concerned employees of the Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility (FCCBCF). They describe an understaffed facility with overworked employees, rampant sex among the inmates, virus epidemics, ignored suicide attempts, illusionary and inaccurate data, and tyrannical management personally invested in a training manual and soon-to-be book intended for profit.

The facility houses felony offenders as part of the Ohio penal system’s diversion program. Diversion facilities tend to take prisoners at the end of their sentence, inmates with alcohol and addiction problems, and those with mental illnesses that are not being served by incarceration. The facility is centered around the core cognitive behavioral therapy program known as the Responsible Adult Culture Program (RACP).

The RACP’s central premise is if inmates change their negative self-centered thinking, their behavior will be adjusted so that they can function outside of the prison system. Former FCCBCF Director Bud Potter who retired in 2013 created and implemented the system. Potter continues to serve as a consultant to the facility.
Employees charge that Potter hand-picked current Director Molly Robbins because of her promotion of his RACP system.
The 17-point Statement, sent to numerous government officials and bodies including the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Ohio Inspector General, raises specific concerns as to the operations of the FCCBCF institution.

The Free Press met with an employee of the FCCBCF and went over internal documents that substantiate the allegations. In point 2 of the Statement, employees allege that “In November 2013 due to a lack of non-alcohol hand sanitizer and hand soap, a ‘Noro Virus’ outbreak occurred…” The Statement claims that “The facility was without soap for three days” and that “approximately 50 resident inmates, more than one-fifth of the facility’s population, was affected.”

The Statement alleges that “Resident inmates were not allowed to be transported to the hospital for their symptoms,” and that the case managers, “who have no medical training were pulled from their caseloads and mandated to work extra shifts providing for the dispensing of medication….”

The employees state in point 4 that because of a long waiting list, programs have been dramatically cut back under Robbins so that they no longer meet Ohio Department of Corrections minimum standards.
Point 7 is also related to programs offered by FCCBCF. Employees claim that there has been high turnover among the case managers and that the overworked and understaffed employees are incapable of administering the promised programs.

Point 8 specifically outlines that while the facility “…accepts felony offenders who have severe mental health challenges,” the under staffing has eliminated the number of escorts who are needed to take the prisoners for mental health therapy. Thus it takes an extended time for inmates to earn the right to go to mental health treatment on their own. Sixty to eighty-five days is a long time for a resident to wait to see a certified psychiatrist, the Statement says.

The employees go on to document that the promised GED classes are no longer being offered at the facility and rather are being outsourced to the Alvis House. Because of a lack of escorts, the inmates cannot meet the requirements to earn their GED.

Employees issued the Statement anonymously “…due to our fear of retaliation, retribution, and revenge by administration, specifically at the hands of Director Molly Robbins….” The employees are requesting that they be put under oath by state investigators.

“We are sworn to protect the community by assisting in the rehabilitation of felony offenders sentenced to our facility…we request your government agency address this situation by launching an immediate and thorough investigation of our allegations,” the Statement reads. The employee who met with the Free Press emphasizes that the facility should practice what it preaches. The Statement ends, “We can remain silent no more. We teach resident inmates to own their irresponsible lifestyles, their past mistakes, how they’ve hurt victims, family and friends. We hold them accountable for their actions and do not allow them to make excuses.”

Associated Files:
CBCF Statement.pdf

or as follows:

To: Facility Governing Board – Franklin County Community Based Correctional
Facility: Karen Days, Chairperson, Kort Gatterdam, Clarence Glover, Mary Catherine
Kurila & Joseph Scott
Franklin County Board of Commissioners
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas – All Judges
Franklin County Prosecutor – Ron O’Brien
Franklin County Sheriff – Zach Scott
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction – Director Gary Mohor
Ohio Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice – PREA
U.S. Department of Labor & Statistics
American Correctional Association
February 2, 2015
Statement of Grievances and Request for Redress
We the employees of the Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility
(FCCBCF) provide the following as a true and accurate description of the environment,
culture and happenings at the FCCBCF. Should a government regulatory body ensue
investigation, we assure you these statements will be corroborated via direct sworn
testimony provided by staff members, resident inmates and through documentation
including county electronic mail records, employee files and resident inmate files.
Considering the nature of these allegations, which are true and correct, we ask that a
proper Court order be issued immediately to stay the destruction or withdrawal of records
– files that may lend credibility to these allegations and/or provide clarity which may lead
to the discovery of additional issues of impropriety and misconduct by FCCBCF
administration. We the employees of FCCBCF submit this statement anonymously not
with a “throw a rock, hide your hand” mentality but due to our fear of retaliation,
retribution, and revenge by administration, specifically at the hands Director Molly
Robbins and her immediate subordinate Senior Operations Manager Daniel Shaun Scott.
Outside FCCBCF Director Robbins wields much power and is deeply connected. She
has directly impacted current and past employees’ ability to obtain new employment,
especially in the realm of corrections – testimony is available to corroborate this
allegation. *Names of resident inmates have been withheld due to legal requirements.
Should we be subpoenaed to testify in a investigation or future proceedings we will be
willing to tie names to the situations described below.
Administration as an Institution
FCCBCF is a correctional facility that accepts felony offenders as a means to diversion
from the Ohio penal system. The facility receives funding from the State of Ohio
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The Responsible Adult Culture Program
(RAC) is a cognitive behavioral therapy program created and installed by former
FCCBCF director Bud Potter (retired 2013); currently a paid consultant to the facility and
program. The RAC program’s premise is if one changes their negative self centered
thinking, their behavior will follow suit.
The current director of FCCBCF is Molly Robbins (promoted 2013). She is a long term
employee who rose through two ranks of management and was repeatedly promoted, up
to her current position, by former director Bud Potter and the FCCBCF Facility
Governing Board (FGB) which by state statute serves as a board of trustees; essentially a
board entrusted to hold the director and their subordinates accountable for the
performance and care of the facility and the residents entrusted to the facility by the State
of Ohio. Director Robbins per the FCCBCF policy and procedure is the final authority
on all matters concerning personnel; staff discipline including termination, staff and
resident inmate grievances, including those related to EEO complaints and all employee
and programmatic (RAC) adjustments.
Top – Down Management
The declines of the success of the RAC program as well as many other concerns
described herein are the direct result of director Molly Robbins’ dereliction of duty. We
provide the following account:
1) For most of year 2013 and all of 2014 Director Robbins has busied herself by
co-authoring an updated version of “The Equip Program: Evidence Based
Program for the prevention and Reduction of Antisocial Behavior”, the
umbrella program under which FCCBCF’s RAC program is derived. It is by
the usage of quantitative data of resident inmate “success” that the “evidence
base” is provided for the previous and current versions the Equip Program.
We submit that should qualitative data be compared to the purported
quantitative data, which is controlled solely by Director Robbins, a truer and
accurate depiction of the happenings (high rates of recidivism, return to usage
of narcotics) of FCCBCF would be brought to light.
2) In November 2013 due to a lack of non-alcohol hand sanitizer and hand soap,
a “Noro Virus” outbreak occurred at the FCCBCF. The facility was without
soap for three (3) days. Approximately fifty (50) resident inmates, more than
one-fifth of the facility population was affected. The staff nurse at the time
believed the outbreak began in the facility kitchen and spread throughout the
facility, both men and women were affected. Infected residents were
quarantined in the program (GED/AOD) section of the facility. The entire
facility was scrubbed down with bleach. GED and AOD (alcohol and/or
drug) classes were cancelled for two weeks due to the outbreak. All Case
Facilitators (case managers), who have no medical training were pulled from
their caseloads and mandated to work extra shifts providing for the dispensing
of medication, security, distribution of bottles of Pepto-Bismol to those
afflicted. Resident inmates were not allowed to be transported to the hospital
for their symptoms. Resident inmates were given snacks (Oreo cookies and
thirst quencher type drinks) and watched movies during the quarantine.
Telephone calls from the infected to their loved ones were limited and
monitored. Staff was not directly told to not discuss the matter outside the
facility, but in various emails sent by Director Robbins, the message was clear
and understood. At no time should a correctional facility be without sanitary
products. Staff with no medical training should not be mandated to provide
medical care for those afflicted; this is against medical care practices and
surely is outside the scope of employment for case facilitators. Several
resident inmates’ programs were affected due to this outbreak; they were
penalized for not completing classes in a timely manner and ultimately their
programs delayed. Sworn testimony and documents can be provided to
corroborate this allegation.
3) August 2013, a male and female inmate were found having sexual intercourse
in a classroom within the facility. Both residents were placed in separate
isolation cells pending a termination hearing. The male resident, an African
American male (female resident was Caucasian) had a history of past suicide
attempts (3 in total), those attempts were noted in his case file. Per FCCBCF
policy and procedure when residents are placed in isolation and placed on
suicide watch, they must be searched thoroughly up to including a “stripsearch”.
The male resident was not searched per policy and was placed in
isolation. Within an hour of his placement, the male resident had sliced his
wrist open with a cutting object – from his hand upwards to his forearm,
ensuring he would bleed out until he died. When security personnel checked
on him, they found him barely conscious; the isolation cell floor was covered
with a thick coat of blood. Resident was still alive, transported to the hospital
and was immediately terminated the following day by Director Robbins.
Security staff instructed a Resident Advisor (security personnel) to clean up
the blood with a facility mop. It was nearly impossible as several pints had
been lost. A Franklin County “Haz-Mat” team was eventually called to clean
up the bio-hazardous liquid. Director Molly Robbins instructed then Deputy
Director Patrick Monroe to conceal the incident, via omission of facts in a
required report to the ODRC. Deputy Director Monroe refused forcing
Director Robbins to threaten his employment. Director Monroe contacted
legal counsel who thereby pressured Director Robbins to allow him to resign.
She relented, Monroe resigned; investigation closed. Sworn testimony and
documents can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
4) During the Spring and Summer of 2014 a new initiative was given to Case
Facilitators of FCCBCF, in order to meet guidelines of ODRC the minimum
time limit (134 days) a resident inmate needed to successfully complete the
RAC program was lowered to 120 days (in county), out of county resident
inmates minimum time limit was lowered from 115 days to 100 days. Staff
was informed this was happening because the waiting list was very long
(residents purported to be waiting in the Franklin County Corr. Center I and II
for periods of 2 to 3 months). We allege that a more accurate reason for the
change in policy was to prove to ODRC that FCCBCF could handle and had
handled more residents allowing FCCBCF to request an increased budget
allotment. In the RAC Staff Manual and in RAC Staff Training both Bud
Potter and Molly Robbins have stated it takes a minimum of four to six
months for the cognitive behavioral changes to even begin taking effect. Our
primary responsibility is to keep the community of Franklin County safe by
administering the RAC program. By lowering the number of days FCCBCF
essentially put dollars above safety. As front line employees, we know that it
takes 50 to 70 days at minimum for the slightest behavioral change to occur;
most resident inmates have been involved in harsh – violent criminal activities
(including heavy usage of narcotics) for most of their lives. This transition to
the new requirement only lasted 2 ½ months and once our goal was reached,
we returned to the previous standard of 134 (in Franklin County) and 115 (out
of county) days minimum for release. The negative impact was substantial as
tens upon tens of new residents poured into the facility, the culture tipped out
of balance, meaning older residents who could affect and check the negative
behavior of new residents didn’t exist as they had been pushed out of the door.
Many residents from that new group that poured in to FCCBCF eventually
were terminated because they couldn’t comply with the program (they had
been confined for in FCCC I and II for 6 months to a year – from trial to
sentencing). In actuality the program was being administered incorrectly,
essentially for profit; profit for the director by direct state funds and via her
co-authorship of the new Equip Program. Sworn testimony and documents
can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
5) Summer 2014, former Unit Manager Daniel Shaun Scott was promoted to
Senior Operations Manager of Programming, a new position that was created
by Director Robbins specifically for Daniel Scott. This was a substantial
promotion with substantial monetary benefits; he essentially became Director
Robbins’ right hand man. Both the director and senior operations manager
attended conferences together with out the attendance of other management
staff. It is common knowledge that there is an “inappropriate” relationship
between the two as staff employees overheard personal conversations between
the two, which made it totally clear the relationship was more than platonic or
work related. This situation places employees at a disadvantage and skews
the grievance process as Senior Operations Manager Scott is a buffer in the
process between staff and the director. Sworn testimony and documents can
be provided to corroborate this allegation.
6) To highlight the authoritarian nature of leadership of Director Robbins, during
the Winter/Spring of 2014 half of the administration (front office) and middle
management staff resigned from FCCBCF leaving a huge void. This is the
second time during the tenure of Director Robbins this has happened, the first
being during the transitional period between former director Bud Potter’s
departure and her becoming director of the facility. Sworn testimony and
documents can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
Case Facilitator Concerns
7) Turnover of case facilitators, a critical position in the RAC program has been
substantial. Whether the FGB members are aware of the reason is unsure as
employees are allowed to attend FGB quarterly meetings but do not because
of the substantial amount of work associated with their respected caseloads.
For the past two years FCCBCF has been short case facilitators. Ninety-Seven
percent (97%) of the current case facilitators have been employed two years or
less at FCCBCF. Most if not all case facilitators were not trained according to
FCCBCF policies and procedures, many received little to no training, were
self taught or had their official training delayed for 4 – 6 months because of
the severe shortage of managerial and support staff. Recently, in January
2015, case facilitators were notified that a “random” audit of payroll
timesheets had been conducted for a three week period in September 2014.
Administration said that most case facilitators had worked more time
(overtime) than what they placed on their timesheets and that administration
would have to pay out overtime to the employees to cover the deficits. In
addition to the timesheet discrepancies, additional reasons given for discipline
were due to progress notes; summaries and other resident related paperwork
not being up to date. Because of the inconsistency, case facilitators were
disciplined via corrective action (written warning) up to unpaid time off (3 to
5 days). We assure you, the reader of this statement that we are a professional
team of employees, all of whom are college educated and many have years of
correctional experience. The reason progress notes are not up to snuff, is
simply because ninety percent (90%) of current case facilitators have two
caseloads (twenty people). One may say that twenty people is not a huge
amount to manage, but please understand case facilitators not only file
paperwork – we conduct group therapy three times a week and teach classes
three times a week per caseload. Should an employee be on vacation, call in
sick or request other approved time their caseload must be covered. If a case
facilitator has two caseloads those are 12 classes, 1 hour and 15 minutes in
length that must be held each week. We must also counsel residents on
various topics relating to their lives, assist with housing placement, drug
counseling placement, and job searches as well as a host of other
responsibilities. There isn’t enough time in the day to do all that we’re asked
to, but we do our best. We enjoy our jobs so we go about our day with no
complaints. The remaining 10 % of employees who do not have two
caseloads are employees who are awaiting training to become group therapy
leaders and are unable to perform all aspects of their hired position, which
means that the additional work that is uncovered is shifted to the 90% that is
trained. We have been warned by Director Robbins that we are not allowed to
work unapproved overtime, so in an effort to complete our work most case
facilitators arrive early and stay late but do not log those hours. We knew
either way we would be punished; not being paid for time worked was the
lesser of two evils. The same 90% of case facilitators that are trained is the
same numbers of employees who were disciplined in January 2015. Since
January, two employees, who were disciplined with unpaid leave for the
above mentioned reasons, have been assigned additional duties such as
teaching AOD (alcohol and drug) classes in addition to their current work
load. Per the RAC Staff Manual and FCCBCF policies and procedures and
the employment contract signed by administration and employees, the ratio of
residents to case facilitator is 10:1; that is to say ten residents assigned to one
case manager. It is that model that is successful. It is impossible to
effectively manage two caseloads effectively. We have informed
administration of this for months. We were told by Director Robbins and
Senior Operations Manager Scott that our concerns are related to time
management issues on our part and have nothing to do with the RAC program
overseen by administration. Sworn testimony and documents can be
provided to corroborate this allegation.
8) FCCBCF accepts felony offenders who have severe mental health challenges.
This alone violates FCCBCF policies and procedures as any resident inmate
who has these challenges may pose a safety risk to fellow inmates and/or staff.
Many of these residents have self medicated for years via usage of narcotics.
Due to a shortage of resident advisors (security staff) who operate the
transportation for the facility, case facilitators are unable to schedule
appointments for these resident inmates to attend psychiatrist appointments
with community partners such as Southeast Inc. Per Director Robbins,
residents must wait to attend these types of appointments until they have been
approved for open itinerary (when they can enter and exit the facility,
unescorted with staff approval). Per FCCBCF policies and procedures,
residents can not receive open itinerary until they have reached sixty days
minimum; that approval can actually take up to 85 days in some cases. Sixty
to eighty-five days is a long time for a resident to wait to see a certified
psychiatrist. Many residents suffer from ADHD, Schizophrenia, depression,
delusions, grief/loss and other mental ailments. It is unacceptable and
unreasonable to expect a person with these challenges to work through his/her
RAC program in a positive manner when their mental health is challenged.
So when a resident inmate acts out, violates rules of behavior, etc, is it their
fault or is it the fault of staff for not meeting their needs as we promised them
we would when we accepted them into our program? Sworn testimony and
documents can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
9) On the point of mental health challenges, those resident inmates who have
these challenges are assigned to various caseloads throughout the facility. The
concern of staff is that 95% of case facilitators have received little to no
training in how to handle a resident inmate who possesses mental health
challenges. Imagine working two caseloads with 4 to 5 residents who are
severely mentally handicapped. Sworn testimony and documents can be
provided to corroborate this allegation.
Resident Inmate Concerns
10) Inconsistent discipline of resident inmates has been an ongoing challenge.
Director Robbins and administration will argue that discipline is handled on a
case by case system, we the front line staff members know otherwise. For
example, there were two transsexual (transformation from men to women with
hormone replacement therapy) residents accepted to FCCBCF Winter of 2014.
One of the two residents was known to be a carrier of the communicable and
infectious disease HIV. It was documented via progress notes, informational
write-ups and via direct verbal reports to middle and upper-management that
these two individuals were on occasion coerced into performing and on other
occasions voluntarily performed sexual acts including fellatio on male
residents with whom they were housed. One of the two inmates was
eventually terminated due to repeated minor violations, the other although
guilty of the same infractions was allowed to successfully complete FCCBCF.
The unfairness in discipline comes to surface when one realizes that nontranssexual
male residents have been terminated from FCCBCF for violations
as minor as smoking a rolled cigarette in the bathroom of the housing dorms.
How is it that a resident can perform gross sexual acts time and time again, it
be documented and reported but nothing done? It is because Director Robbins
needed to show ODRC and the U.S. Department of Justice (overseer of PREA
standards) that FCCBCF could successfully pass a transsexual inmate. When
the PREA auditor came to the facility near the end of summer 2014 nothing
was ever mentioned regarding the coerced sexual acts perpetrated upon the
transsexual inmates
11) Untimely discipline – Throughout the past year and especially this past
December many resident inmates who because of rule violations were placed
on possible termination status, waited 2 – 4 weeks for a termination hearing to
be held. The director and senior operations manager are the individuals
responsible for holding these resident discipline hearings; they were
unavailable due to being on vacation, returning on the same date. When a
resident inmate is on termination their entire program ceases, leaving many
residents in a precarious position because if certain milestones aren’t reached
in the program they will not complete successfully and will return to the state
penitentiary. Any resident terminated does not count against the facilities
overall successful completion rate; it’s as if they never entered the program.
Sworn testimony and documents can be provided to corroborate this
allegation.
12) When FCCBCF, by direction of Director Robbins restructured the RAC
programming hours in February 2014 from 8am – 5pm to 7:30am – 9:15pm in
an effort to meet ODRC standards she created another exodus of employees.
ODRC said that FCCBCF needed more programming hours because of the
type (highly likely to recidivate) of offenders we housed. What didn’t happen
was the offering of more classes as ODRC intended, Director Robbins
“stretched” the day out so it appeared we offered more than what we do. At
that time FCCBCF had two GED teachers on staff, one GED teacher
immediately resigned, the other held out but eventually resigned due to
receiving threats of physical violence from resident inmates. These threats
were reported, but were not investigated. The last GED teacher resigned
September 2014. Since then, FCCBCF has sent resident inmates to the Alvis
House for GED testing. Unfortunately, this leaves many residents at a
disadvantage because they are not allowed to leave the facility for again, 60 to
85 days. Since GED classes stopped, no resident inmate has graduated
FCCBCF with a GED, whereas before, most residents who took in-house
GED classes graduated the RAC program with a GED. We now have more
than ever totally illiterate residents who must rely on help from other inmates
to read, write and progress through the program. There is no help for them.
Our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Sworn testimony and documents can
be provided to corroborate this allegation.
13) In the fall of 2014, the staff nurse who oversaw the medical care for upwards
of 250 residents, solely, resigned due to stress and lack of assistance. She
solicited on a weekly basis (requests were directed to Lauren Fish, FCCBCF
Clinical Manager) for a part time nurse to help with the burden monitoring the
health of so many resident inmates, many of them who have serious medical
conditions such as Hepatitis B & C, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes as well as other
ailments. When she left, the medical office was a disaster, with thousands of
documents scattered about; violation of HIPPA laws. We do not fault the
nurse for her inability to keep up. She was a great nurse who cared and
showed great concern for the resident inmates. The fault lies with the director
and clinical manager, Lauren Fish who directly oversaw the medical suite.
After the nurse resigned management scrambled to clear the office of the
scattered medical documentation as to not scare away the temporary nurse
who would eventually be brought in from an outside agency. For almost three
weeks resident inmates had to be transported to local emergency rooms for
treatment; all bills and fees associated with these emergency room visits are
billed directly to the inmate, whereas if the inmate were seen in-house nurse, a
$3.00 co-pay would be assessed. Currently those thousands of documents are
in the conference room in the administration suite where upper management
has been sifting and sorting trying to put things in order before ACA’s July
2015 accreditation audit. Sworn testimony and documents can be provided to
corroborate this allegation.
Resident Advisor (Security Personnel) Concerns
14) Untimely &Uninformed Work Decisions – Resident Advisors act as unarmed
security personnel at FCCBCF. We too have been the victims of severe staff
shortages and high rates of turnover, to the extent that resident advisors who
are newly hired are informed that they should expect to work two to three 16
hour days a week; this has been and still is the case. The reason for the high
turnover is partly because of the long hours of mandatory work. FCCBCF
spends huge amounts on overtime for resident advisors which is a slap in the
face of case facilitators who are responsible for the direct administering of the
RAC problem but, can receive no overtime to complete work although they
too are short staffed and have been assigned two caseloads. The two work
groups are not envious of one another, neither are they in conflict, but have
partnered to shine light to the inconsistencies in policy directly related to the
administration of FCCBCF Director Molly Robbins. Resident advisors work a
straight 8 hours with no paid lunch. The resident advisors must eat at the
security desk on the resident halls. They are not allowed to leave the building.
Meaning a work day of 16 hours straight with an inability to relieve one’s self
both to eat and at times to use the restroom; resident advisors can not leave
their posts, they must be relieved by another resident advisor. Sworn
testimony and documents can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
15) Inconsistent discipline – On occasion when a resident advisor is informed of
mandation, resident advisors have on occasion declined to be mandated and
left at the end of their regularly scheduled shift. This goes against FCCBCF
policies and procedures. When complaint has been made to direct
supervisors, middle management and the director; the complaint again falls on
deaf ears. Some employees are disciplined, issued corrective action issued or
disciplinary hearing held others receive no discipline. It is an effort to keep
the troops somewhat happy and to keep staff in place. There is a system of
favorite employees, those who complain are disciplined, those who play nice
are let off the hook. Sworn testimony and documents can be provided to
corroborate this allegation.
16) Untimely Corrective Action & Discipline – Please see above under Case
Facilitator; same concern
Wages & Time Keeping
17) Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics, employers may not use a security
badge system as a measure of employee timeliness and wage pay out. That is
exactly how FCCBCF employees were disciplined for timesheet versus
security badge swipe in-outs. There are currently three time keeping systems
in use at FCCBCF, a new punch time clock installed December 2014,
timesheets – still in use and now the security bade swipes (which are illegal).
By using three different systems, FCCBCF has set its employees up to fail
because naturally all three systems will show a different time depending on
when and where a person is located, which location they arrive/leave etc.
This policy was instituted by Director Robbins. Sworn testimony and
documents can be provided to corroborate this allegation.
Summary
As employees of the Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility, we are
sworn to protect the community by assisting in the rehabilitation of felony offenders
sentenced to our facility. The Responsible Adult Culture/Equip Program as currently
administered by Director Molly Robbins is effective only as much as her leadership is
effective. FCCBCF Human Resources Police #13 states “supervisory staff will be held to
a higher level of compliance than non supervisory staff”. Currently administration,
including the director, senior operations managers and middle managers all are in
violation of this policy. We request your government agency address this situation by
launching an immediate and thorough investigation of our complaint. We ask that you
speak with us individually should an investigation ensue. We also request we be
protected from prosecution as we hold no responsibility for the actions discussed herein.
We request that our disciplinary records be reviewed and corrected. Moreover we
request that the terminations of residents be reviewed for possible malfeasance by the
director and her direct subordinate Senior Operations Manager Shaun Scott. Please
understand we made a real attempt to address these concerns in house but because of the
possibility of being terminated with no redress, we remained silent. We can be silent no
more. We teach resident inmates to own their irresponsible lifestyles, their past mistakes;
how they’ve hurt victims, family and friends. We hold them accountable for their actions
and do not allow them to make excuses. Management must also be held accountable.
Lastly, the concerns listed highlight some of the more egregious acts that have occurred
at FCCBCF. Should an investigation proceed, and we be called to sworn testimony with
the assurance of protection from prosecution, we will provide the documents mentioned
and the any remaining information we have. Thank you for your time, attention and
assistance.
Submitted Respectfully,
Staff Employees of the Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility
Franklin County, Ohio
February 2, 2015

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Free Press Free Fourth Tuesday Film Night “Black Lives Matter”

Free Press free film night:
“Black Lives Matter”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
7:30pm

Free Press free fourth Tuesday film night:
Black Lives Matter Newsreel: Why Columbus Needs a Citizens Review Board
Tues, March 24, 7:30pm, Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St.
Police shootings of citizens in Columbus are almost always ruled as justified, the Columbus Dispatch reported. “Of seven cities surveyed by The Dispatch — all similar in size to Columbus — Columbus had the second-highest rate of police shootings, both fatal and nonfatal, in 2013. Last year, the city ranked fourth, at 1.1 shootings per 100,000.”
To highlight the need for a civilian review board to investigate officer-involved shootings, videographer Will Delphia has compiled a newsreel of footage from the local and regional #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Discussion will follow.
colsfreepress@gmail.com or 614-253-2517

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Free Press Second Saturday Salon, Saturday March 14, 2015

Join us at the March
Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday
March 14, 2015
6:30 – 11 PM

March Free Press Second Saturday Salon
Saturday, March 14, 6:30-11pm @ 1021 E. Broad St.
Free. No RSVP necessary.
Socialize and network with progressive friends for hors-d’oeuvres, drink, art and music. Showing “Maestra” [Teacher] about Cuban literacy program and music by Solartopia.
colsfreepress@gmail.com, (614) 253-2571.

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To Cuba With Love

by Bob Fitrakis
FEBRUARY 21, 2015

Americans In Cuba With Love

“…Cuba’s voice is a voice that must be heard in the United States of America. Yet it has not been heard. It must now be heard because the United States is too powerful, its responsibilities to the world and to itself are too great, for its people not to be able to listen to every voice of the hungry world.” ~ C. Wright Mills, Listen, Yankee: The Revolution in Cuba, 1960.

Mills’ words are unfortunately still true today. Cuban people remain hungry and we have not heard their voices because the U.S. has silenced them for more than 50 years by imposing a brutal “blockade” that we call an “embargo.” If any ship in the world goes to a Cuban port, they may not enter a U.S. port for six months. Any company that trades with Cuba is banned from the U.S. market. If any product uses any materials, pieces or parts from Cuba, it is not allowed to be sold in the United States.

Cuba’s crime? Being the only nation in the western hemisphere with the cojones to resist the world’s only “megapower.”

It appears that President Barack Obama however, in the aftermath of a thrashing by the Republican Party in the midterm Congressional elections, suddenly heard the whispers of his own conscience and the Cuban people. On December 17, he announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the largest island in the Caribbean.

The action is largely symbolic, but did make it a bit easier for U.S. citizens to go to Cuba. You can now take an 80 minute-flight directly from the United States, receive an official visa and have a Cuban stamp on your passport. No more sneaking through Mexico or Canada, though you still cannot visit as a tourist.

We visited as educators and journalists with the folks from Code Pink.

Senator John McCain recently called Code Pink “low-life scum” for recently attempting a citizens’ arrest of Henry Kissinger for war crimes. The Code Pink organizers spurned in the U.S., sought affection elsewhere when they sent a delegation of 150 people “To Cuba with Love” from February 8-15, 2015. I was part of that “largest group to visit Cuba from the United States.” Code Pink director Medea Benjamin saw the trip as the “move toward world peace” and a “powerful solidarity message” to the Cuban people.

Because Cuba exists in part in a strange 1950s time warp thanks to the embargo that began in 1961 and continues to this day. The city of Havana seems frozen in time, like a 1950s postcard faded and frayed at the edges. The city of Havana’s architecture varies from crumbling but still stunning Spanish Colonial mansions to brightly colored stucco haciendas to huge art deco and art nouveau apartment buildings with each unit sporting its own balcony. In the rural areas, Cuba appears more Amish and pre-industrial with farmers using oxen and horse-drawn plows.

Cuban native Jesus Noguera Ravelo invited a small Code Pink group to his home in Havana, where he answered questions about life in Cuba and its future. He insisted that there has been more change in the last ten years than in the previous thirty.

Revalo had originally aspired to be a diplomat and majored in international studies. He was working on his Masters when he realized that, rather than stamping visas all day, he should be using his fluency in English to share the Cuban experience with English speaking visitors as a tour guide.

Tourism has been either the first or second leading industry in Cuba since the early 1990s. A key point is that Canada never broke diplomatic ties with Cuba and the rest of the English speaking world now has normal relations with the country.

The entire Code Pink group was greeted at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP) by its President Ricardo Alarcon, who served for 30 years as Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and was President of the National Assembly of People’s Power from 1993 to 2013. He expressed hope that the Code Pink visit would be an “exchange of knowledge.”

While the head of ICAP was encouraged by the restoration of diplomatic ties after President Kennedy broke them off 55 years ago, he called the remaining embargo of Cuba continuing “economic warfare.” He called Obama’s decision “very positive.”

Alarcon questioned the logic of Cuba remaining one of four countries on the U.S. list of governments that sponsor terrorism, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria. That’s right – North Korea isn’t on the list nor was Libya when the U.S. and NATO attacked it in 2011. He pointed out the irony of the United States torturing people at Guantanamo while labeling Cuba a terrorist state.

He also mentioned the hypocrisy of any demand by the U.S. for Cuba to restore fundamental human rights. The point was well made, since the U.S. is the world’s largest surveillance state and tortured both the guilty and innocent on Cuban soil at Guantanamo. Most Cubans we talked with conceded that there were problems in Cuba, but wondered why a country they associated with torture and the open shooting of blacks on the streets of major U.S. cities would be so concerned about Cuban human rights instead of putting their own house in order.

Alarcon also noted that the U.S. retains great relations with many countries that do not recognize fundamental human rights, especially rights of women. He proudly pointed out that Cuba’s Parliament is 48.8 percent female and the governments of the local provinces elected 46 percent women. Currently the U.S. Congress had 19.4 percent women.

Alarcon also reminded the delegates that since 2003, Cuban mothers and fathers receive one year paid maternity/paternity leave. The U.S. government has no law requiring paid leave for new parents.

Cuba, after being abandoned by the Soviet Union in 1991 is transitioning away from its old Soviet-style model of state planning of economy used in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In the new economy, the country – having survived the “Special Period” of the 1990s when the Soviet Union withdrew support – some 440,000 workers are now self-employed. Revalo is now one of the so-called self-employed Cubans. Virtually all Cubans worked for the state government until the Special Period.

Alarcon noted “we should not be afraid of capitalists. This time it won’t be like when Columbus came.” He emphatically stated, “Cuba is not for sale. You must get the approval of the government, which will say yes or no” to capital investment in the country.

Our tour guide Betty, who works for the same co-op travel agency as Jesus, told us we need to remember that “most Cubans owned nothing in 1959 when the nationalization of property occurred. Fidel recognizes we have made mistakes. Here we are now without any model, without anybody to look to, working out our problems.”

Ravelo said that one of the country’s major changes was moving from sugar-only agriculture to diversified organic farming “because they had to.” Without financial credits from the Soviet Union and a guaranteed market for the sugar exports, Cuba could no longer employ the industrial strength model of heavy herbicides and pesticides.

When asked why there was not better internet service in Cuba and whether it had to do with an authoritarian government, Alarcon answered that it was “because the U.S. does not permit us” to get internet service and it has to go through Canada which never broke relations with Cuba.

Alarcon offered a question to the delegates: “Why did your government make it so hard to come to Cuba? We invite you to come and make up your own mind. Why does your government stop people from coming and making up their own mind? One state cannot dictate to another state.”

He also suggested that one day the people of the U.S. may not be under the control of a “plutocracy” but it may “take some time” and that “we don’t want to impose a social revolution on the United States.”

The Code Pink delegates listened to the Cuban people, shared knowledge and ideas, and agreed to take their words back to the people of the United States. Their key request is that the U.S. government end the blockade. The second request is to remove Cuba from the state-sponsored terrorist list. The third request is to stop torturing detainees at Guantanamo and return that land to the Cuban people.

As C. Wright Mills stated, “If we do not listen to them, if we do not hear them well, we face all the perils of ignorance—and with these, the perils of dangerous mistakes.”

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The Other Side of the News December 29, 2014 – 2014 Year in Review

The Other Side of the News December 29, 2014 -2014
Year in Review
Submitted by fightback on Mon, 12/29/2014 – 1:27pm
Bob Fitrakis discusses the important issues that happened during 2014 in central Ohio and the world