November 21, 2008

Mary Taylor Is Right; Joe the Plumber Snoop Should Be Fired

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:27 pm

(Scroll for Updates: Make That “Snoops” — Four More Nearly Invisible Wrist Slaps; Official Gov. Statement on Jones-Kelley; Curious Story Timing)

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I could not find Mary Taylor’s statement at any related URLs, though I think she would be perfectly justified in expressing her opinion at her State Auditor web site (that’s what auditors do).

So Taylor appears to be relying on the press (good luck with that), her supporters, and others to get this word out. I am happy to assist with that.

Here’s her press release from today on the slap on wrist (i.e., the one month suspension) given to Helen Jones Kelley for her Joe the Plumber shenanigans:

Statement from Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor
November 21, 2008

Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor issued the following statement regarding the one-month suspension of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones Kelley:

“Ohio citizens should have the highest confidence that the private information that state and local government have access to is protected and will not be used for political or other inappropriate purposes. According to the report released today by the Inspector General, this basic and fundamental trust was broken by Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley.

We need to restore accountability and transparency in government and send a message to Ohioans that the misuse and abuse of personal information will not be tolerated. Government leaders need to be responsible for the actions of their employees so I urge Governor Strickland,who campaigned on the promise of running an ethical administration, to ask for the resignation or terminate Ms. Jones-Kelley immediately.”

Ted Strickland’s oh-well, no-big-deal response to all of this has been pathetic.

And where is the action, if any, on the other Joe the Plumber data divers?

The message is that Ohioans can feel confident that their personal and private information are secure with state agencies — only as long as they don’t make disagreeable, disruptive waves that offend the powers that be.

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“Friday News Dump UPDATE,” 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22: More wrist-slaps, covered in an AP story that went up at about 8 PM last night –

4 more punished over ‘Joe the Plumber’ searches

….. Fred Williams, the Department of Job and Family Services’ assistant director, will be placed on two weeks unpaid suspension beginning Monday, spokeswoman Scarlett Bouder said in a statement. Doug Thompson, the department’s deputy director of child support, is facing a four-week unpaid suspension, also starting on Monday, (AP ended this sentence with a comma; there is no break in text — Ed.)

Two other agency employees are facing disciplinary action based on conclusions reached Thursday by Ohio’s government watchdog, she said.

The department’s director, Helen Jones-Kelley, improperly ordered staff to look up records on Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the Toledo-area man who became a household name in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles said in a report.

Gov. Ted Strickland immediately ordered Jones-Kelley be placed on a one-month unpaid suspension after reviewing the report’s findings.

Charles’ report also outlines roles played by Williams and Thompson in the searches, as well as Paul Fraunholtz, the deputy director of family stability, and Judi Cicatiello, the deputy director of unemployment compensation.

Totally. Unacceptable.

Not that we’ll ever find out, but does anyone want to bet against some form of “compensation for valuable campaign services rendered” making its way from “somewhere” to the five people involved?
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UPDATE 2, Nov. 22, 8 a.m.: Here is Ted Strickland’s official statement announcing Jones-Kelley’s suspension –

Columbus, Ohio – Governor Ted Strickland issued the following statement today:

“Helen Jones-Kelley has dedicated her life to helping the most vulnerable among us. She is recognized nationally as an expert in the field of foster care and she has worked commendably for many years as an advocate for children, families and workers in her native Montgomery County and the state of Ohio. I value her contributions to the state and her local community.”

However, I accept the Inspector General’s judgment that there was not an adequate business purpose for the searches in question. I also accept his determination that her personal Blackberry was inappropriately synchronized, resulting in emails she perceived to be personal being transmitted through governmental email resources. Therefore, today I have issued a one-month unpaid suspension for Director Helen Jones-Kelley. Additionally, I am issuing a management directive – applicable to all state agencies, boards and commissions – regarding the proper use of state databases to help ensure that a situation such as this never happens again.”

The full text of the governor’s management directive is pasted below …..

There is currently no statement in the press release section of the Governor’s web site on the “punishments” handed out to the other four individuals the AP mentioned earlier.

An enterprising Ohio journalist would look into whether the governor’s “management directive” is a cut-and-paste of something very similar that might have been put into place during the state’s “Datagate” in 2007, during previous gubernatorial administrations, or at the agencies themselves. Because if similar relevant guidance already exists — and there is good reason to believe that it does, or did — the “management directive” is nothing more than rear end-covering window-dressing.

Assuming Ohio journalists stay in snooze mode, anyone who can point to a previous directive, law, or policy should e-mail me.

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UPDATE 3, Nov. 22, 8:20 a.m.: A Google News search on “Joe the Plumber” Ohio (typed as indicated) shows that the earliest relevant story about the additional four employees disciplined (*) appeared in the Columbus Dispatch at about 5 p.m. on Friday (“15 hours ago,” per Google News, though the story now carries a 7:33 p.m. time stamp).

How convenient.

The Dispatch story does not mention of Mary Taylor’s statement, or for that matter the post-decision reaction of any Republican.

(*) – Italicized words added on November 23 for clarification.

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2 Comments

  1. Strickland’s response to ethical problems isn’t looking too good. He was very reluctant to take a stand when it was obvious that Dann needed to go and now this situation is being barely handled.

    Comment by largebill — November 22, 2008 @ 11:37 am

  2. I grew up in Ohio and now that I no longer live there I like to see what is happening. This situation is something that should be resolved by firing all those involved. That she can even attempt to pass off what she did as being what they normally do when citizens make the news is so off the wall that her intelligence should be in question. Strickland started off fine and while I did not support him he seemed decent. Since the AG situation and now this one, the has turned it all around and now seems like he should be a one-term gov at best. What is going on in that state these days. Taft screwed up in his last term and this guy is now even worse.

    Comment by dick — November 23, 2008 @ 1:18 am

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