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Lauten’s ill-advised rant is stupid

By , December 8, 2014 | 9:17 pm | 0 Comment

Lauten’s ill-advised rant is stupid

SASHA AND MALIAOnumba.com commentary —- It’s hard to understand why anyone, let alone a congressional aide, would stoop so low.    

Call it boredom brought on by Capitol Hill Christmas season lull, call it partisan crapulence at its worst or just chalk it up as the typical rabid disdain for the first family that we have come to expect from a sorry gaggle of conservative screwballs these days.  But whatever you end up calling it, there’s no denying the smorgasbord of stupidity that fed that kind of toxin.

Why oh why would a congressional acolyte go after the president’s daughters with such a callous and unprovoked vengeance, unleashing toxic admonishment that totally failed to take into account the innocence of these kids who never asked to be in public eye? 

By lobbing political broadside at Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, a conduct that was clearly reprehensible, Elizabeth Lauten, spokeswoman for Republican Congressman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, made a big ‘turkey’ of herself after scolding the President Obama’s daughters to “try showing a little class.”

Apparently, Lauten had serious issues with the demeanor of the Obama daughters during the annual White House turkey pardoning clambake. 

Here is the meaty portion of her Facebook tirade.

“At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.   

What’s that for?

By engaging in that tirade, it’s obvious Lauten is the one who desperately needs to show a modicum of “class.” 

Shortly after her rant, many who weighed in on the social media and elsewhere were ticked off and demanded that she be summarily fired.  But being the forgiven nation that we are, I suggest President Obama should go ahead pardon Lauten the same way he pardoned ‘Cheesy’ the National Turkey.

Pardon or not, the whole thing ended up being a regrettable saga for Lauten who though, later apologized for her comments, still got drowned in the rainstorm she singlehandedly brought on herself after resigning from her job under immense public pressure.

Commentary , Featured

White House bracing for Republican assault after GOP victory

By , November 10, 2014 | 2:46 am | 0 Comment

White House bracing for Republican assault after GOP victory

OBAMA AND MCONNELL TWOOnumba.om —With the Midterm elections now over and the outcome being a nice ass thumping for Democrats, the Obama administration, perhaps, would have to adopt a whole new partisan posture against his victorious and tumid Republican opponents now threatening to dismantle all that he has achieved in the past six years while looking to thwart all that he plans to  accomplish in the remaining two years of his administration.

The GOP gained control of the U.S. Senate while stiffing its grip of the House of Representatives after corralling additional seats there. 

It all sums up to a profound bad news for the Obama administration.  With a load of loathe for the president by the Republicans, clearly, daggers are drawn and a volcanic partisan tinderbox looms.  President Obama, facing immense pressure from grappling with a minefield of high-voltage issues,  both domestic and foreign, emerged from the thick and blinding fog of defeat to declare he isn’t a “mopey” milquetoast about his party’s monumentally catastrophic loss.  Of course, it was a self-consoling posture, a blast of confidence and defiance, if you will, that may well be helpful in managing his debilitating loss to soothe the sting, but there’s no denying the fact that his presidency is presently riding through bumpy potholes and appears destined to collide with GOP victory bus parade.  At this cusp, the president can only hope for an elevated spirit of bipartisanship to emerge from the dark ashes of his party’s massive shellacking. 

In short, it won’t be pretty moving forward. 

And it’s not just for the reason that the president’s Democratic Party lost control of the U.S. Senate, that too of course, but largely for the fact that the loss mean the Republicans will now control both chambers of legislative branch of government.  What that means is something President Obama is definitely not looking forward to:  working with a bullying brigade of torridly dogmatic and ideological GOP lawmakers acting more like vengeful and vitriolic foes than reasonable and accommodating opponents.

Nowhere is this glum outlook, this looming tectonic power swing in Washington, going to be more visible than in the U.S. Senate where old Mitch McConnell, arguably the biggest legatee of last week’s GOP triumph, is poised to become the new Senate Majority Leader come January.  Sounding every bit like one already, he wasted no time unleashing a barrage of blisteringly cacophonous salvos, starkly warning Obama, who is now probably on an irreversible path to go it alone on immigration reform, to rethink his plan, saying it “poisons the well.”

McConnell warned the president that his rubicon posture on the immigration tiff is tantamount to “waving a red flag in front of a bull.”

It wasn’t just a cockahoop McConnell yammering from the rooftop, though.  In a truculent choriamb with the veteran Kentucky lawmaker is Arizona Senator John McCain who is certainly no fandom of Obama.  The war hero codger has visibly relished being a caviling thorn in the president’s side from day one, constantly caricaturing, razzing and even scuppering the administration’s efforts.  But for McCain, unlike McConnell, his beef with the president is both personal and professional, having lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential contest and evidently continues to reel from that epic defeat till today.  It’s really no secret that both Obama and McCain have never had anything close to a chummy relationship.  It’s been openly frosty.  And their corrosive relationship would have probably remained in such lugubrious doldrums to the very end had Democrats prevailed in the election.  Fortunately for McCain, his party’s election triumph saved him from remaining a crabby old man, kvetching, pouting and seething in endless frustration decrying what he sees as Obama foreign policy disaster around the world, particularly in the Middle East over Syria.  Perhaps, a gleeful McCain sees his party’s victory through the lens of this being his last chance to torment the man who wrecked his presidential ambitions and forever blocked his path to the White House.  Come January, McCain is likely to take over the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he might finally get back at Obama with possible plans to securitize the president’s foreign policy agenda through a flurry of committee hearings and investigations and who knows what.

Sizing up the vast landscape of volatile issues facing government yields a depressing hodgepodge of global woes:  there’s the messy crisis playing out in Ukraine, there’s ISIS and its metastasizing and apocalyptic terrorist brutality annihilating civilians in parts of Iraq and Syria, there’s the raging Syrian civil war unleashing cadaverous consequences for folks out there, and then there’s the Israeli – Palestinian conflict with absolutely no headway being made to achieve peace.  And as though that’s not enough for a besieged world to grapple with, there’s an added Leviathan global scare brought on by the Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa.  It’s messy out there for sure.  But expect a McCain’s led congressional hearings to rummage through some of that mess for what he describes as needed and lacking epiphany into the role of the United States government involving each. 

But of all the battles looming in Washington, expect the immigration brouhaha to emerge as the linchpin of the post-election hostility between an increasingly lame-duck White House and the emboldened Republican leadership eager to put its newfound power to use.  House Speaker John Boehner wasn’t on the ballot but the Republican new found power immensely strengthened his hand on the immigration battle where he and Obama remain hopelessly deadlocked, with the Republican-Controlled House stubbornly refusing to act on immigration reform.  Like McConnell,  Boehner warned Obama against resorting to executive fiat to install reform, telling reporters in Washington last week, “When you play with matches, you take the risk of burning yourself.  And he is going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.”

Seemingly, the Republican leadership is boldly flexing its newly minted legislative muscle with a flurry of bombastic pronouncements and a smorgasbord tactical posturing and rhetoric aimed at blunting Obama’s deepening resolve to act unilaterally on immigration.  But the president is not likely to budge unless Boehner and his den of recalcitrant minions move fast to pass immigration reform bill before the end of the year.  For one thing, the president is highly likely to dig in on this given the immense pressure on him from the restless Hispanic community to act on immigration reform as he promised aimed at addressing the lingering plight of 11 million undocumented immigrants now tiptoeing across the country in limbo and trepidation.

We will see how it all plays out.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com /

Copyright 2014 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

Commentary , Featured

Healthcare.gov fixed well enough, but bugs remain

By , December 7, 2013 | 6:54 pm | 0 Comment

Healthcare.gov fixed well enough, but bugs remain

OBAMA3ONUMBA.COM – By now, everyone is probably copiously aware that the Obamacare website rollout has been nothing but an epic disaster, a chaotic blend of a lousy website, a fumbled rollout and a daisy-chain of missteps responding to the whole mess.

The bug plagued blastoff of the healthcare.gov website, which many see as the signature achievement of the Obama presidency, has betrayed the promise of a great start to a new era in health care coverage due to a plethora of crippling hiccups among which are glitches, crashes, delays, frozen screens and all sorts of headache just accessing the website.

And then there’s the more serious issue concerning consumer privacy to cap it all off.

In short, it all summed up to a extraordinarily woeful month for the president, a disaster of monumental zenith.  But through it all, an often petered-out looking Obama remained optimistic, mixing that with a humbling apology for the mess on which the media has been feasting.

“I am sorry,” the president told the American people followed by a seemingly gutsy assurance, after implementing a “tech surge,” that the beleaguered website will be rectified and ready to go by the end of the November.

“I’m confident that it will be even better by November 30th and that the majority of people are going to be able to get on there,” said Obama, who, of course, is not a website designer.

The president’s words:  “They’re going to be able to enroll.  They’re going to be able to apply.  And they’re going to get a good deal – a better deal than they’ve got right now when it comes time to buying health insurance.”

So now, the central question becomes:  has the troubled website been fixed as promised?

Well, for the most part, yes, said officials of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The “for the most part’ part of that response largely holds the true meaning of the federal official’s explanation for where the website is at this time in terms of ridding it of hundreds of niggling software bugs.

Federal officials, feeling immense pressure to fix the website, said during a recent press conference with reporters, that while the site is much better than when it first went online months ago, they readily concede that the bug riddled website is not out of the woods yet and still has “hundreds” of software bugs that could get in the way of a trouble-free access, smooth shopping experience and ultimately successful purchase of coverage by users.  What that says in short is that it works, but there are still problems.

Their words:  “The bottom line — HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1,” said Jeff Zients, an official of the Obama administration, who reported that about “400″ bugs and technical problems were fixed in the system, but did not disclose how many were left to go as they continue to work out the kinks.

Of course, no matter what anyone says, the ultimate test for the supposed fix will come when users start to troop back to the website to shop for coverage in order to beat the Dec. 23 deadline which is required for coverage to start first of the year.  Federal officials expect consumer stampede back to the site to start happening soon. 

For observers, expectation for how it all will play out could, overall, be described as a cautious mix of confidence and proverbial crossing of fingers, which some might simply call a ‘wait and see’ moment.  But for confident federal officials, the expectation, though fused with a modicum of uncertainty, is that when shoppers return to the website in droves, they will have a much smoother experience than before, citing particularly that the problem of previously being unable to process large number of applications at a time has been resolved.  According to them, the website is now able to accommodate more than 50,000 users login in at the same time, which tallies up to about 800,000 people being able to shop and purchase coverage in a single day.

If that happens, President Obama will be hugely relieved because not getting this thing right may start to define his entire presidency with three years left to go.  The past month has been hellacious and tormenting for him, with the president catching it on the chin from both Republicans and Democrats, while seeing his approval rating tumbling down to a concerning level.

On the one hand, Republicans are cavorting around cockahoop, pillorying Obamacare while relishing the entire healthcare pantomime as a tinderbox they now hope would fuel a cascading effect with future implications for Democrats.

On the other hand, Congressional Democrats who strongly backed the president during the fight against Republicans over the passage of the law, are getting worried, especially those who are facing reelection in a couple of years and fearing that the sloppy rollout of Obamacare could become a campaign issue against them.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com /

Copyright 2013 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

 

Featured , News

Fitzgerald set to take on Kasich, but who is going to take him on?

By , April 27, 2013 | 1:02 am | 0 Comment

Fitzgerald set to take on Kasich, but who is going to take him on?
Ed Fitz

Candidate for Ohio Governor Ed Fitzgerald

ONUMBA.COM – For quite some time now, speculations have been rife about who is going to take on Republican Governor John Kasich in the next gubernatorial showdown.

Some Democratic names have been dangled around as likely candidates, but no one has categorically declared an interest in running for governor of Ohio until now.

He is Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, the former Mayor of Lakewood, who last week kicked off his campaign with planned clambakes in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Fitzgerald is the first Democrat to jump into the race for governor. But it came as little surprise given that the 44-year old former FBI agent had been talking up his interest for months. He made his most revealing move toward that pursuit in March after forming a gubernatorial campaign committee to officially start raising money for the race.

Also, in many ways, Fitzgerald interest in running for governor grew a lot after former Governor Ted Strickland decided against mounting a comeback effort in what would have been a bruising rematch of a race he lost to Kasich by 2 percentage points cliffhanger in 2008. A recent survey by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute indicated that the 71-year old Strickland would have encountered little opposition had he decided to run again, holding a nine percentage point lead over Fitzgerald.

Now, if Fitzgerald is the man to take on Kasich, who is going to take him on?

Currently, it is surprisingly not a crowded field. Today, Fitzgerald is the only declared candidate.

Former Ohio Attorney-General Richard Cordray, who now serves as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in the Obama administration, has long been rumored as a likely candidate. But he hasn’t responded to these speculations. One thing that’s for sure however is that Cordray has before expressed an interest in being Ohio’s chief executive.

Congressman Tim Ryan has also expressed interest in running for governor in the past.

As yet, no Black politician has shown visible interest in being a candidate for governor. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who remains popular in the city, has the best chance of succeeding. A formidable force in the Ohio Democratic Party, he once briefly, unsuccessfully contested for governor. Still, he remains a potentially potent force if he decides to try again.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com /

Copyright 2013 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

 

Featured , News

Nigerian woman feels a connection to American Blacks

By , April 26, 2013 | 9:55 pm | 0 Comment

Nigerian woman feels a connection to American Blacks
EBONY

Obioma “Ebony” Agwuncha

ONUMBA.COM – Obioma “Ebony” Agwuncha hails from Nigeria, a country of some 150 million located in West Africa. She is visiting relatives in Columbus where her daughter recently gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl.

The 60-year old widowed mother of seven has her hands full with a motley of chores involving the care she is providing for her daughter and their bundles of joy. Actually, Agwuncha’s visit is for that, caring for her daughter and the babies, that is. She said that it is called ‘Omugwo” which according to her traditional Igbo culture of Eastern Nigeria, she is required to do.

And she has been doing just that conscientiously since the babies were born nearly two months ago. But recently she took a break from her ‘Omugwo-ring’ obligations to speak to Call & Post about her visit, expressing her views about this country and the deep connection she feels for American Blacks.

“I feel we are all the same, treating each other as brothers and sisters because we are really the same people,” said Agwuncha, who owns a school in Anambra State called Ebony Foundation School. But at the same time, having visited the country two times now, she has seen enough to express some disappointment, saying, “I don’t see the kind of brotherhood and sisterhood that is necessary to build a strong bond between African immigrants and American Blacks.

Agwuncha, who regretfully told a story by her grandfather of how a relative was sold into slavery because she was disobedient, feels a lot of work still needs to be done to bring American Blacks and Africans together, which is something she hopes to see happen sooner than later.

In that bonhomie spirit of loving one another, Agwuncha expressed pride in seeing a Black man elected president of the United States, saying, “His work is excellent and that’s why he was reelected.”

But she feels a bit disappointed that President Barack Obama is yet to embark on a major trip to Africa. The president’s only visit to Africa was that short trip to Ghana soon after he took office for his first term.

“He is one of us, he is supposed to pay a major visit to Africa,” said Agwuncha, who also noted, “that [visiting Africa] will show us he is one of us.”

Asked about how she is enjoying her visit to Columbus, she replied, “I like it.” One thing she doesn’t like though is what she described as the excessive focus on individualism here.

“Everybody minds his or her own business, quite unlike Nigeria,” she said.

As for Columbus, she likes it. “Columbus is very good,” she said. “I had never seen snow before. This was my first time of seeing snow in my life.”

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com /

Copyright 2013 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

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After hedging, board agreed to allow Coleman’s panel in

By , February 6, 2013 | 8:21 pm | 0 Comment

After hedging, board agreed to allow Coleman’s panel in

ONUMBA.COM –After months of grappling with an immensely embarrassing probe involving student attendance record skullduggery, which is still playing out, it would be safe to assume that members of the Columbus Board of Education and school district officials are now busy cleaning up the mess from this massive catastrophe by installing adequate measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

But there’s no assuming what role Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is playing as part of his effort to help improve the district. Recently, he and City Council President Andrew Ginther formed a panel of 25 members to recommend ways to do that. It is called Columbus Education Commission (CEC).

To be sure, it wasn’t clear at first just how both independently concieved orbs, that is, the districts internal housecleaning efforts and Coleman’s moves, would coalesce or at the very least work in choriamb in pursuit of a common mission. That lack of clarity in large part played into why the Call & Post published a recent story titled, ‘Future of Columbus School District, who is in charge of shaping it unclear.’

Even with recent expressions of desire to work together on this, it’s still largely unclear just how the labyrinths of this herculean and multilayered mess will be resolved in the end. The good news however is that both sides, clearly frosty about each other, have at least expressed commitment to coexist in favor of advancing a common agenda. But that dovetailing spirit only came after somewhat a corrosive start, a brief hedging on the part of the Columbus Board of Education that easily underscored the undercurrent feelings of turf tiff among some involved in the matter. The board, after stiffening its resolve not to allow Coleman’s panel members to conduct a management review of the district operation, eventually agreed to invite them in, even deciding to abandon its initial demand requiring the group to submit its request in writing.

Seemingly, both sides, after a well-managed acrimonious posturing possibly rooted in distrust as well, have agreed to work out a plan for proceeding with the management review.

Eric Fingerhut, the commission’s executive director, in a letter to the school board, called for both sides to assign individuals who would meet to discuss the way forward in terms of the “scope and timeline for the review.”

Fingerhut’s plan was approved by the school board. President Carol Perkins is the board’s representative who would meet with Mary Jo Hudson representing the panel.

For all involved in these efforts, it is probably refreshing and encouraging to see a once caviling and battleax Perkins involved at any level of collaboration with the mayor’s panel. Weeks ago, she wasn’t optimistic about any of this, even going as far as almost declaring the Sultanhood of the board concerning matters of education in the district.

“They’re fast-tracking with possible conclusions,” said Perkins at a recent board meeting, declaring, “Bottom line, whatever comes down, this board will make the final decision.”

That was her daggers-drawn feelings at that time.  But recently, she offered a more conciliatory tone.

“Now, I imagine, as we get further, if there’s some points that come up, I’m sure we can work it out, said Perkins, who also noted, “We have no objections to this, and again, this could be information that could be meaningful to the next superintendent.”

The current superintendent, who along with Perkins, presided over this whole mess, will retire at the end of the year. While Harris is on the verge of departure, Perkins on the other hand is staying as board leader after she received a vote of 6 to 1 to continue serving as president.

But Harris will hang around long enough to see and possibly react to the recommendations of CEC due in April, according to Fingerhut, who also noted that the panel would offer proposals for revamping the district’s practices.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com / Copyright 2013 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

City of Columbus , Columbus School District , Featured , News

Mayor’s small business conference lauded by small business owners

By , October 27, 2012 | 5:22 pm | 0 Comment

Mayor’s small business conference lauded by small business owners

ONUMBA.COM – It wasn’t the first time the city of Columbus has organized a city-wide clambake for small businesses, but it could be the finest and the biggest ever.

That was how a very satisfied Thomas H. Stephens, Assistant Director of the Mayor’s Equal Business Opportunity Office, described the 10th Mayor’s Small Business Conference & Expo that played out recently at the Hyatt at the Columbus Convention Center, Downtown. The theme of the gathering was “Go Forward: Driving Local Economic Growth through Small Business Inclusion and Sustainability.” 

“This is outstanding. People loved it,” said Stephens, adding, “It was more than what we planned it to be. This year’s conference was a full day, previous ones were half a day. We brought in national speakers. It’s been great,” he said.

Stephens told Onumba.com that the main reason for holding the gathering was “to help small businesses move forward, that was the whole key, providing access to capital” and “helping small businesses link up with large businesses, that’s the whole point, helping them move forward through these rough economic times.”

But it was also to introduce the city’s small business community to the process of securing contracts with the city, which according to Mayor Michael Coleman, summed up to“more than $300,000 in contracting opportunities” in 2011.

In his greetings, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said that “Columbus is committed to providing education, support and opportunity to these businesses as they continue to enhance our city’s image as a great place to start and grow a business.”

The event was well attended. Actually, many who sought to register for the conference were unable to do so because registration was closed days before the event.  But for those who attended, it was all worth it.

“I think this has been a phenomenal event,” said Jessica Figgins, owner of Down Home Soul Catering. The conference, said Figgins, “has been an event where you feel comfortable coming in, small business or large business, you are not afraid to ask questions. They provided a lot of resources that I didn’t know were out there.”

Asked about the networking opportunities, Figgins replied: “It has been over the top. I got what I expected and more. So, I’m glad to be here.”

Luke Estice agreed.

“It’s really successful because I found a lot of different avenues that I can reach out to other businesses so I can expand my business,” said Estice, who owns two businesses, Luke’s Huy Road Barber, Beauty & Nail Shop and L&E Soul Food, along with a Food Truck.

“It’s really helpful,” he said.

Raymonia M. Lacy took the same view.

“It has been very helpful, the networking has been great,” said Lacy, who owns IJN Enterprises, LLC, a venture that is involved with business development and
training.

Beside learning “a lot about how to maneuver through the city and the canals we should go through in order to obtain city contracts, Lacy said that she appreciated making connections with the city and other businesses.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com / Copyright 2012 Onumba.com.   The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

 

Business , Featured , News

Two major investigations launched into allegations of record fudging

By , July 14, 2012 | 3:37 pm | 0 Comment

Two major investigations launched into allegations of record fudging

ONUMBA.COM – In the fast moving investigations into whether Columbus City Schools tinkered with student attendance record to improve its report card, School Chief Gene Harris was recently ordered to turn over documents involving the case to the State Department of Education, one of a trifecta of entities now looking into the possible skullduggery. 

Accordingly, Harris was notified of the state’s investigation of the potential tinderbox a couple of weeks ago in a letter from Stan W. Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction.

“ODE will continue to expect that you and your staff, including your internal auditor, will be readily available to provide any necessary information or access to permit this special audit to occur,” wrote Heffner. 

Heffner’s agency has the authority to conduct the investigation to see if there was academic finagling involved.  Documents being requested include district policies for recording student attendance, email and handwritten correspondences by district officials involved in the matter as well as policies describing how and why students are removed and re-enrolled into the system. 

Harris, in response to Heffner, agreed to make all documents available to him and his staff.

But those documents would also be turned over to the Auditor of States’s office where David Yost is preparing to plunge into the allegations of euchre with his own investigation.  Spokeswoman for Yost’s office Carrie Bartunek said that her office is now assembling a cabal of investigators, attorneys and accountants for the project, for a gavel to gavel look into the labyrinth of matter.

Apparently, both investigations would run parallel with the one currently being conducted internally by the district’s audit office under Carolyn Smith.

So, with up to three separate investigations looking into the incident, it remains unclear how it all plays out. 

Apparently, Harris, in a heads-up June 15 letter, had notified Heffner of a potential problem with the district’s attendance record.  At the same time, when the story broke last week, she noted that she was not quite sure how serious the matter was and whether there was an intention to “cheat.”

“We don’t know what we have here — a big issue, a medium issue or a small issue.”

Seemingly, the big question for the investigating teams, and the nexus of the matter, is whether district officials often intentionally fudged attendance records of students for the purpose of boosting the district’s state report card. 

Several current and former district employees, some of them data analysts and principals have expressed the view that some data manipulations and calculated Kafkaesque occurred in the district, with some recalling having wondered for years why a dizzying shoal of students with poor attendance records would suddenly be erased from the system and then later reappear.

But, who could be doing that, and for what? 

They explained that the purpose of doing that would be to erase the records of students with poor attendance record from the system, that way they would be excluded from score tabulation for state report, which ultimately improves the district’s total student attendance score.  The students would then be re-enrolled later. 

Obviously, that’s their story and they are seemingly sticking to it.  But the ongoing investigations will ultimately determine exactly what happened, and why. 

Data submitted by school districts to the state are used for scoring district performances, especially student attendance rates which has direct and profound impact on student performances.  If these reports of shuck and data manipulation are true, it certainly casts a scandalous pall of uncertainty over the performance of the Columbus School district the past several years.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com / Copyright 2012 Onumba.com.

The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).

Columbus School District , Editor's Choice , Featured , News

Visit by Nigerian official capped by tragedy at home

By , July 1, 2012 | 7:00 am | 0 Comment

Visit by Nigerian official capped by tragedy at home

ONUMBA.COM For those in the Nigerian Community in Columbus, it was a great visit by a government minister from their homeland. 

But sadly, reminiscences of that June 2 jaunt were drowned out by a deadly tragedy back home that left them reeling in a collective grief.

Recently, a cabal of Nigerians in the United States by the name ‘Nigerians in Diaspora Organization America’ (NIDOA) inaugurated its Ohio chapter in Columbus. The event played out at the Aladdin Shrine on Stelzter Road where festivities included music, food, speeches, panel discussion and a few tamed outbursts of weird tantrums.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communications Labaran Maku was at the clambake and participated in a panel discussion entitled ‘Nigeria: A New Frontier.’  He spoke at length and took questions from the audience. 

The minister, who was accompanied on the trip by the presidential consigliere on ethics and values Dr. Sarah Jibril, told Nigerians that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan is focused on addressing the smorgasbord of problems bedeviling the oil rich West African country, battering the Nigerian society and ravaging lives. 

He conceded that Nigeria is indeed mired deep in a monumental mess, social squalor and apocalyptic economic morose, but he blamed most of it on eons of neglect going back to the military era, and then assured the community that candid efforts are being made by the current People Democratic Party government to pull the economically moribund country out of ravine of despair and into a path of prosperity. He said that the government is growing the economy, promoting technological advancement, working to provide electricity and to improve security.

Frustrated Nigerians have heard it all before and yet not much progress has really been achieved.  But while Maku left them with that nice package of reassuring and hopeful messages on his way back to Nigeria, it turned out it was a trip back with a heavy heart after the tragic news of a Nigerian plane crash in the bustling commercial city of Lagos located in western Nigeria. 

Apparently, the doomed Dana Air flight, which was traveling from the capital city of Abuja to Lagos, went down with “153” passengers on board. Reportedly, the American pilot radioed trouble with two engines of the aircraft just before its catastrophic rappel. It was reported in the media that the plane crashed in a densely populated district of Lagos, slamming into a two-story building that instantly erupted in an inferno.

Rescue workers rummaged through the mangled wreckage of humans and shards of what was left of the aircraft and found no survivor. A visibly lugubrious President Jonathan visited the glum site of the crash, calling the tragedy a “setback” for the country and vowed to improve aviation security. 

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com

Copyright 2012 Onumba.com. The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group (OMG).  

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Coleman defends officer in fatal shooting

By , October 9, 2011 | 4:02 am | 1 Comments

Coleman defends officer in fatal shooting

ONUMBA.COM – A visibly livid Mayor Michael Coleman is preaching the same sermon he has frustratingly preached for years. His face is starting to turn purple from speaking out against gun violence and decrying the avalanche of guns littering the streets of Columbus.

But still, some young folks are just not getting it.

The message, for what it’s worth, is iron-clad clear: Pulling a gun at cops, even without firing it, is as good as committing suicide.

Dude – there’s no better way to put it. It’s a dumb thing to do.

For Obbie Shepard, an African-American 21-year old, who was killed by the police weeks ago after he pulled and fired a gun at them, that blunt message is obviously ‘too little, too late. But for other young folks out there, there are plenty of lessons to learn from Shepard’s tragedy.

The incident occurred on the South side of the city, where Shepard, after being caught riding a stolen bicycle, jumped down and ran as he fired shots at approaching cops. The cops returned fire, killing him instantly.

As always, shootings involving the police and a member of the Black community make headline news often with racial undertones. This was no different. The incident riled Black folks who pointed the finger of blame at the police for often disrespecting African-American residents. But Coleman, last week, begged to differ, at least concerning this particular case. And he wasn’t mushy about it, either. The mayor did not shy away from saying what he felt needed to be said.

“To any parent who loses a child, it’s a terrible thing,” said Coleman during a press conference held at the police headquarters downtown. “But if you’re going to shoot at police or anybody else, you’re writing your own death sentence.”

Counting the Shepard incident, there were six shootings in the month of August involving the police. In four of the shootings, armed men opened fire at cops who fired back killing the four shooters. That was just in that month. But so far in 2011, there have been 12 police involved shootings in Columbus resulting in five deaths.

Coleman, warning that life is “not a video game” and that officers will “meet deadly force with deadly force,” expressed the view that these deaths are preventable.

“When you have an encounter with police, you don’t pull out a gun – ever. If you do… you will probably be shot. That’s a fact of life,” said Coleman, pretty much calling‘a spade a spade,’ and some would say, rightly so.

The mayor urged parents to do more to protect their children.

“If you know or even suspect that your child is carrying a gun or is engaged in criminal activity, you need to intervene now to save their life.”

In the wake of the Shepard shooting incident, pastors belonging to the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Columbus and vicinity huddled up in a news conference to decry gun violence in the city. That’s really nice. But such populist parleys, though sincere and helpful in its own way, often appear to be more reactionary than anything else, when actually the solution is a sustained effort at intervening, mentoring and changing the lives of young African-Americans dangling dangerously and aimlessly. And parents, most would agree, have a leading role to play in that effort.

Coleman, who has been at the forefront of this battle, wants gun violence to “stop now.”

But while he has been outspoken about this, his main proposal for stemming its tide frustratingly remains a long way from being realized. Coleman has kvetched repeatedly about the torrent of guns flowing into the streets of Columbus and has complained that his “hands are tied” about addressing it.

And he faults the enabling role that government plays in indirectly fostering it.

Years ago, assault weapons were banned in the city and carrying concealed weapons in city parks was illegal. That was when cities could enact their own gun rules.

But that was then. In 2007, the laws changed, preventing cities from being able to enact their own local gun rules. That was because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that local laws should not supplant state laws on this, and that only the state government should have the authority to regulate weapons in all cities and localities.

That pretty much left Coleman with the same thing: back to preaching the same sermon.

“There are too many damn guns in the streets, and now they are being pointed at police,” said Coleman, at that press conference. It was the same concern he expressed repeatedly last summer when the city was being clobbered by a wave of deadly gun violence. Coleman has long held the view that Ohio is “a gun state”because“ we allow concealed weapons by law.”

His words: “We’re a gun state,” he decried.“We allow the proliferation of guns in all of our communities.”

State Representative Tracy Heard expressed similar concerns.

Not long ago, she introduced a legislation to close a loophole through which she complained illegal guns flow into the community. Coleman praised that effort, calling it an “important piece of legislation” that would require background check before gun purchase.

But still, there are just too many guns in the wrong hands. Coleman’s message is simple, loud and clear: ‘parents shield your children from being around such peril.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com

Copyright 2011 Onumba.com. The information contained in the Onumba.com news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group.

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