Columbus Lake reporters He reports on the power struggle between Christina Johnson and Les Wexner – Ohio’s richest resident – That Johnson decided to step down as president of this state’s largest university.
Clues are dropped.But the details of why Johnson resigned as president of Ohio State University were not fully disclosed by the players.
We now Find out why no one is talking OSU’s student-run newspaper and Public Record are thankful for the hardworking young journalists.
Johnson signed an agreement saying she would lose $927,000 in damages if she spoke ill of the university.
Members of the Ohio State Board of Trustees agreed not to relieve Johnson of the risk of a lawsuit.
How to light the lantern and public records
More than seven months after Johnson announced his resignation, Jessica Langer — an Ohio State graduate and former editor-in-chief of The Lantern — successfully won a legal challenge between Ohio State, the board of trustees and OSU to block the release of public documents between Johnson and Johnson.
Like many Columbus-area reporters, including those from the Dispatch, Langer sought and was initially denied “any contract, memorandum of understanding, non-disclosure agreement or other signed document.”
But she continued to turn on the light.
Langer told Dispatch higher education reporter Sheridan Hendrix, “I felt it was right for the public to know. As a public university, transparency should be paramount.”
The university’s efforts to keep the deal out of the public eye is troubling, but not surprising.
It’s another example of attempts to keep public records from the public – most of them malicious and embarrassing.
As the late US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandes wrote in 1914, “Publicism is hailed as a remedy for social and industrial ills. It is said that sunlight is better than pesticides; Electric light is a very efficient policeman.
That’s like the Brandeis era now, but there’s always a fight to keep the light on.
Two recent controversies show a failure in the fight for transparency.
$440 million in public opioid relief funds
It’s hard for the public to keep track of how Ohio’s three major drug distributors have been accused of having a hand in the opioid crisis that has killed so many people, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
A provision in the newly approved government budget OneOhio Recovery Foundation A private agency exempt from public records and congressional laws, though the attorney general still represents it.
The change came from a A unanimous Ohio Supreme Court The then-public agency was accused of distributing $440 million in public opioid relief funds. It should make its records available to the public.
Police officers are protected by law to protect victims of crime.
More disturbing, the Columbus Police Department and Columbus City Attorney’s Office To explain why they are not releasing the names of the eight policemen using the recent Marsi law A Columbus police officer was injured in a highway shooting that left one suspect dead..
In a statement, the division said the officers were victims and had no choice but to remain anonymous under the law.
“We want to be clear: this was not chosen by the Columbus Police Department. It is a state law that we (and all agencies) must respect and comply with. Indeed, this was a concern CPD raised with state legislators,” the department says in a recent statement.
The “victim” is a party who is directly involved in the commission of a criminal offense or is directly involved in the violation of the ORCHERSER criminal law.
Columbus isn’t the only municipality this is playing out.
Supreme Court of Florida He is considering a dispute between Tallahassee and the union representing its police officers. The union argued that the identity of the policemen who killed the suspects should be protected. The mystery of that state’s version of Marsy’s Law.
The Ohio General Assembly could and should have clarified issues to protect the public’s right to know.
It was the Ohio version of the law. In the year It was overwhelmingly approved by voters as a constitutional amendment in 2017.
The purpose of Marsy’s Law is to ensure that victims of crime are informed of necessary hearings and have some privacy. Passed, Amended and Altered by the Ohio General Assembly. In the year The law, which took effect in April 2023, required crime victims to “opt in” before lawmakers changed the law in May.
Whether or not the General Assembly does it, it is clear that this law is intended to protect victims of crime by preventing the withholding of names from police officers charged with the vital role of upholding our laws.
Implementation of the city ordinance ignores the public’s right to know.
Columbus civil rights attorney Shawn Walton Jr. says the city is compromising transparency and police accountability by refusing to release people’s records.
“It doesn’t make sense how they apply it,” he told this editorial board member. “They are using it conveniently to keep information from the public.”
Suspect names are still being released.
Walton said it will be difficult for reporters, lawyers and other members of the public to monitor officers’ behavior and identify bad actors.
Police officers do not have the same exposure or anonymity of a crime victim.
They are public servants whose identity is known to the public.
There are laws on the books that actually protect police officers. Home addresses and other personal information.
The only protection the city’s position adds is to keep officers out of public view.
These recent events should concern all truth-seeking Ohioans who believe that public scrutiny of corruption, misconduct and other abuses of power is the sun as our best pesticide.
There is a reason why dirty deeds are done in the dark and why many are so eager to turn off the lights.
This piece was written by Dispatch Opinion Editor Amelia Robinson on behalf of the Dispatch Editorial Board. Editorials are our board’s fact-based review of issues important to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff, who strive for impartiality in their reporting.
This article originally appeared in the Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State, Columbus police’s pseudonym shows lack of respect for public’s right to know Editorial