Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Same Robber Different Mask

Same Robber Different Mask           
The Ohio Association of Security & Investigative Services was founded in 1947 and incorporated in 1954 as the Ohio Association of Private Detective Agencies, Inc., a not for profit Ohio corporation. The later name change came about as security companies applied for membership and representation in the organization.
Initially, those entities were licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce under a 1792 enacted piece of legislation that became Ohio Revised Code No. 4749.  As with any licensing entity, their assigned task was to collect fees and regulate the industry.  They exceeded their expectations in the collection of fees but poorly failed at the regulation of the industry. They were so good at collecting fees that the industry overpaid the State of Ohio $1.4 million dollars in licensing fees. Because of this overpayment the industry was promised that licensing fees would never be raised.
            Three problems arose with Commerce from this overpayment issue. First, when asked by the industry to increase its regulation enforcement, the industry was told that there was a hiring freeze and they could not add additional personnel, even though there was a surplus. Secondly, when public records requests were forwarded to Commerce in an effort to view the accounting of the licensing fees and this surplus, it was repeatedly denied. And last but not least, when the Taft Administration had a budget shortfall, it “stole” $400,000 from the industry’s surplus and covertly moved it into the State’s General Fund. 
            Because of the industries frustration with the Department of Commerce, legislative action was taken to move the licensing and regulation of our industry to the Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security.  This was a move that was forced upon Public Safety, who did not want to undertake the responsibility.  Part of that legislation included wording for a Governor’s advisory commission of industry professionals to advise those in Public Safety of the difficulties of operating a successful business in Ohio with outdated rules and regulations.  The commission was legislatively directed to be up and running in a year’s period.  Two years after the legislation passed, the legislation establishing the Advisory Commission was still not operational. It was not until the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee held up Public Safety legislation and directed the then Director of Public Safety explain to the committee why the commission had not yet been seated. In order to forward Public Safety’s legislation, the then sitting director relented and proceeded with the formation of said commission.
            It should be pointed out that at the time of the movement of the PI/ Security industry from Commerce to Public Safety, there remained $1,000,000 in what was then called the rotary funds. Public Safety reduced that by billing the industry $800,000 as the cost of the move from Commerce to Public Safety. Of note: the same 9 person panel, who issued licensed and investigated complaints, remained the same.
                       
As if the $800,000 movement fee was not enough, our industry was told that the computer system used for licensing our industry was a proprietary system that could not be transferred from Commerce to Public Safety so the industry was requested to cough up $395,000 for a new computer system. The system was acquired through a no-bid contract by the then Director of Public Safety through, a Tom Noe associate, and has never lived up to the bill of goods the industry was sold.  Since the remaining $200,000 in the rotary fund was not enough to cover the computer’s acquisition, the industry’s license holders agreed to a $25 yearly increase in fees.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ohio politics, Tom Noe, a lobbyist at the time of his demise, is currently serving time for bilking the State of Ohio out of millions of dollars. The deposed Governor of the State at that time pleaded guilty to lesser ethics violations.  
   All of the above was explained to the then incoming governor’s election team prior to taking office.  The industry was advised that the above abuse would be addressed by his administration.  We were later reassured by his legislative person that the revision of ORC 4749 was on his list of matters to be addressed.  Needless to say, that individual is no longer holds a staff position with the State and our industry continues to be abused on a daily bases. In fact, one of the members of the Commission recently made the public statement that, “We’re still being robbed by the same robber; he’s just wearing a different mask”.
            In regards to the abuse, the Governor’s first appointment to the Director of Public Safety, according to the State Inspector General, “ignored fraud and potential crimes for more than a year and failed to halt fraudulent activity.”  He was dismissed for said conduct.
            The Governor’s second appointment to Director of Public Safety fared no better, as she was given a vote of no confidence by the State Legislature, for lying to the State Inspector General. She was therefore not allowed to continue her appointment to said office. Interestingly though that during her reign as Director, one of her underlings, supposedly with the help of the department’s legal counsel, re-wrote ORC 4749, the legislation that governs the PI/ Security Industry.   It remains out there but is so self-serving and unconstitutional that it hopefully not see the light of day.
            Again, for those who are unfamiliar, the attorneys mentioned above come from the same staff of Public Safety that were either dismissed and/or convicted of lying to the Inspector General’s Office, attempting to set up the Inspector General by releasing confidential material, or illegally hacking into employee’s emails to search for alleged whistle blowers. Also of interest is the fact that a member of OASIS was approached by a lobbyist, who was related to the then Director of Public Safety, about representing them in fighting this purposed piece of trash the Department had forward as a revision to ORC 4749. A little lack of ethics, I believe, but then again, standard operating procedure for the State of Ohio.

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