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Lenient judges visit the woodshed
Written by Byron McNutt   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

We have a problem in this country when 191 of the most lenient administrative law judges have approved more than 85 percent of Social Security disability claims they heard from 2005 to 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of $153 billion.

Most of those claims had been denied one or two times previously by SS workers in state offices. This act of rubber-stamping claims results in lifetime payments to many people and has led to a recent hearing by the U.S. House Oversight Committee chaired by Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Keep in mind, lifetime benefits average $300,000. Average monthly payments are $1,150, according to the Social Security Administration. This column is based on coverage of the congressional hearing by AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher.

The two most lenient administrative judges called to testify were Tennessee Judge Gerald Krafsur and Pennsylvania Judge Charles Bridges. They have held their positions a long time and were arrogant when called to the congressional woodshed.

Krafsur approved 99 percent of the cases he heard from 2005 to 2013. As a result, Social Security is on the hook for an estimated $1.8 billion. Bridges has approved 95 percent of his cases. Both judges hear 3 to 4 times the number of cases as other administrative law judges. There are a total of 1,400 judges.

A skeptical Chairman Issa asked Bridges “Are the people working below you always wrong (when denying disability claims)? Should every physical ailment qualify a person for a lifetime disability payout?”

 
Lessons from the public records audit: 10 years after
Written by Dennis Hetzel   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

Results are encouraging but major problems remain

There’s good news for Ohio citizens in the results of a statewide, county-by-county public records audit that was conducted by more than 60 Ohio media outlets in April under the auspices of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.

But you shouldn’t get too excited. Problems with open records in Ohio are deeper and more complicated than ever. Let me explain why.

Why were this year’s results so much better? I suspect the main reason is greater awareness by government officials – and it also suggests that, stereotypes to the contrary, local newspapers continue to keep local officials on their toes. The training of local officials on the importance and requirements of Ohio’s records laws is far broader and more consistent than it was in 2004, the last time such an audit was conducted.

However, keep the results in perspective. This is all the audit showed: When you request a record from local government, and there’s no doubt it’s a public record, the chances of obtaining the record in the correct manner are quite good.

 
Why I Relay
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM | Updated ( Friday, June 20, 2014 6:42 PM )

There are many reasons why I participate in Relay for Life. The first and most important is because I truly believe that research is the way to beat cancer. I know there are many people who could use help with medical bills, gas, food and lodging when a family is struck by this disease. The money raised at the Relay each year would hardly touch those bills for one person. However, you never know which dollar is going to find the cure for a cancer and make those hospital bills and other expenses unnecessary for anyone.

Another reason I relay is because I have lost family members to this enemy of mankind. My father was taken 16 years ago and my aunt soon followed. They had different types of cancer but suffered much the same. It was hard to let them go but even harder to ask them to stay when they were so tired and in pain. I was by each of their bedsides when they took that final breath. It was heartbreaking to see strong, once vibrant people taken in such a manner.

The first question is always why? Why my dad? Why my aunt? Why? Until we find a cure, it will be why not. Until we find a cure, it will be our friends and loved ones and US who battle this disease with our bodies.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by cancer. It’s a disease that doesn’t distinguish between race, gender or creed. No one is safe. I know people who have lived their lives exercising and eating right and taking every precaution and they still hear those words: You have cancer.

Cancer doesn’t care if you are a nice person or not so much. It doesn’t care if you are going to leave behind loved ones or those who need you. It doesn’t care that you haven’t accomplished what you would like in life. It doesn’t care that you are a mother, father, son, daughter, wife, etc.

Relayers care.

 
Happy Fathers Day to all!
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:00 PM | Updated ( Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:26 PM )

Sunday is Father’s Day — a celebration of dad and all he does throughout the year.

It can be a bittersweet day for those who no longer have the patriarch of the family around to honor. My father has been gone for 16 years now and there are still times it feels like just a few months.

It’s funny the things that stick in your mind about people when they are gone. Little things that don’t really mean anything — except to you.

My father had many good qualities. He was honest, hard-working and always ready to extend help to others. He also had a few, well, let’s call them quirks.

We had a summer cottage in Michigan for more than 20 years. Each weekend, we would pack up and travel north for fishing, swimming and a host of other activities. Packing the car was always dad’s job.

First, just let me say the man had an uncanny ability to pack three cars’ worth of stuff in the back of our station wagon and still have clear visibility in the rear-view mirror.

Anyone who unwittingly put something in the car without his knowledge was quickly redressed. “Now, why would you put that there?” he would demand. “If you put it here, we still have room for…” And of course, he would be right.

He also loved to mow the grass. I would watch him walk along behind the mower holding a conversation with himself. Sometimes, I guess you just need to work things out on your own.

 
What we learned from our fathers
Written by Byron McNutt   
Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:00 PM

It has been said: one father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters. It is important to have a father in the home for the life lessons he can pass on to his children.

New babies make men out of fathers and boys out of grandfathers. The best years of fatherhood are when your kids are old enough to wash your car but too young to drive it.

Many a father works hard to keep the wolf from the door, then his daughter grows up and brings one home. It is not easy to be a parent, but it is vital to have both a mother and father in the home raising children.

Sonora Smart was one of six children. When she was still very young, her mother passed away. Sonora and her five brothers were raised by their father, William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War.

In 1909, Sonora, now Mrs. John Dodd, living in Spokane, WA, got the idea for Father’s Day. She wanted the celebration to be the first Sunday of June in 1910 because that would have been her father’s birthday, but the local ministers had a conflict with that Sunday, so it was agreed to mark the day on the third Sunday.

Congress made Father’s Day a national holiday in 1971. What have we learned from our fathers the last 115 year? Here’s a sample of things learned that I found at the bottom of my “borrowed” file:

My father taught me religion—“You better pray that stain will come out of the carpet.” He taught me about logic—“Because I said so, that’s why.” And he taught me about foresight—“Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”

My father taught me about irony—“Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.” He taught me about the science of osmosis—“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.” Father taught me about contortionism—“Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck!”

My father taught me about stamina—“You’ll sit there until that spinach is all gone.” He taught me about weather—“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.” And, he taught me about hypocrisy—“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!”

My father taught me the circle of life—“I helped bring you into this world and I can take you out.” My dad taught me about behavior modification—“Stop acting like your mother!” My father taught me about envy—“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

My father taught me about anticipation—“Just wait until we get home.” And, he taught me about receiving—“You are going to get it when you get home!” My dad taught me ESP —“Don’t give me that look, I know exactly what you’re thinking!”

But most of all, my father taught me about justice. “One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you.”

*****

A husband took his wife to her 30th class reunion and disco was the dance theme. There was a guy on the dance floor getting down big time—break dancing, moonwalking, back flips…the works.

The wife turned to her husband and said: “See that guy dancing? Twenty-seven years ago he proposed to me, and I turned him down.”

The husband says: “Looks like he’s still celebrating!”

*****

The summer season is rapidly approaching. Millions of American families will be taking to the roads in search of memories for a lifetime. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld warns us: “Remember, nothing is ‘fun for the whole family.’”

Seinfeld said his parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

Rita Rudner offered this advice to other young couples. “I want to have my children while my parents are young enough to take care of them.” Caring for young grandchildren sure sounds like a fun activity for people in their 50s and 60s.

More parenting advice from Rudner: “When I meet a man, I ask myself, ‘Is this the man I want my children to spend their weekends with?’”

Woody Allen observes, “Life is full of loneliness, misery and suffering, and it’s over much too soon.” He also said, “My parents stayed together for 40 years, but that was out of spite.”

Most of us would believe in God, if he would only give us a clear sign—like making a large deposit in our name in a Swiss bank account.

 
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