The Perfect Enemy | The coronavirus killed Republicans way more than Democrats in Ohio: Today in Ohio
February 16, 2024

The coronavirus killed Republicans way more than Democrats in Ohio: Today in Ohio

The coronavirus killed Republicans way more than Democrats in Ohio: Today in Ohio

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Yale research paper found found that political affiliation in Ohio and Florida has emerged as a potential risk factor for death with COVID-19 – with Republicans more in danger of dying, likely due to vaccine hesitancy.

We’re talking about how politics killed people on Today in Ohio.

Listen online here.

Editor Chris Quinn hosts our daily half-hour news podcast, with impact editor Leila Atassi, editorial board member Lisa Garvin and content director Laura Johnston.

You’ve been sending Chris lots of thoughts and suggestions on our from-the-newsroom text account, in which he shares what we’re thinking about at You can sign up for free by sending a text to 216-868-4802.

Here are the questions we’re answering today:

Are Ohio Republicans dying at a higher rate than Democrats from the coronavirus? Why might that be?

NOPEC has been controversial of late, so we went back in time to remember why this thing was created in the first place. What did we find about its inception, how it did over the years and why things are crashing down now?

We’ve reported about the waste of a lot of federal stimulus dollars in Northeast Ohio. That’s a shame, because this one-time money could have been transformative. Our Stimulus Watch reporter, Lucas Daprile, says sometimes, it can be. How?

What is going on at a state-run facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Highland Hills? Are clients being physically abused?

Ohio officials are finally working on the broken-down unemployment system, and why are they finding some of their goals to be contradictory? How are they solving that conflict?

What is Dan Gilbert’s long-awaited vision for the riverfront behind Tower City? And what does are esteemed architecture and planning critic Steve Litt think of it all?

We’ve been talking about infant mortality in Northeast Ohio for a long time, especially about the inexplicable disparity between the rates for Black and white infants. What does the latest data show? Are we making any headway?

Was a Northeast Ohio police officer recently charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington DC that was sparked by Donald Trump? What’s his story?

What is MetroHealth’s replacement for Akram Boutros as CEO, Aeirca Steed, going to make, and how does that compare to Boutros?

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Read the automated transcript below. Because it’s a computer-generated transcript, it contains many errors and misspellings.

Chris: [00:00:00] We’re in the final two weeks of live today in Ohio. Episodes are at least new today in Ohio, episode today in Ohio episodes. We’ll be taking a break over the holidays for a couple of weeks. Still lots of news to talk about on the news podcast. Discussion from and The Plain Dealer. I’m Chris Quinn.

I’m here with Lisa Garvin. Lela Tossi and Laura Johnston all set up for a big week of news. Let’s begin. Are Ohio Republicans dying at a higher rate than Democrats from the Coronavirus? And Lisa, why might that be?

Lisa: I think this is repercussions from the bubble of misinformation that some people surrounded themselves with during the covid, uh, pandemic.

But there is a study done at Yale University by three researchers, Jason Schwartz, Jacob Wallace, and Paul Goldsmith Pinkham. And what they did was they focused on excess deaths in Ohio, in Florida from January. 18 to December, 2021. So that [00:01:00] covered the pre era. There were 577,000 people in this study. So at looking at the baseline of deaths, both in both states, Ohio and Florida, Republican and Democrat deaths were the same in 2018, and they were also the same in January 20.

20 just before the covid shutdowns, but through the summer of 2021, during the summer of 2021, the disparity started to appear. So the G O P excess death rate nearly double that of DS during summer 2021, and then the gap widened even further in the winter of 2021. So, Lower vaccination rates, obviously is, is the problem.

You know, there is a lot of vaccination hesitancy amongst conservative people. The, uh, media outlets that they were listening to, you know, called covid a hoax or said, you know, vaccinations weren’t necessary, and so on and so forth. And Dr. Best, Beth Liston, who is [00:02:00] a, a representative in the Ohio House from Columbus.

She says it’s a correlation study, not a causation, but she said there’s similar results in other studies. Um, The algorithms we know push misinformation and fear to people who are willing to see it. And it kind of puts them in a bubble where they don’t see anything outside of that misinformation, uh, bubble.

And Berkeley, France, who’s a professor at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, she said, said that the population shifted from urban. Cuz at first, urban areas were getting hit really hard with covid and, and people were dying of covid in, in urban areas. But then that totally shift. To rural areas and she says that says broader things about how their ideas about science in general.

Chris: It also says something about the state of American media. I mean, you could make the argument. Fox News killed people by pedaling that false narrative that the vaccines were dangerous and creating this partisan nonsense. [00:03:00] People died as a result. I mean, you can see it. The numbers don’t lie. Republicans died in larger numbers because of all the vaccine nonsense that we saw.

Remember at the State House, all the crazies at the State House pedaling this stuff? Mm-hmm. these leaders. because they led people astray and their anti-science rhetoric killed people. Mm-hmm. , it’s, this is a shocking study. When this rolled across last week, she just sat back and thought, man, this is real time.

This is what we’ve come to in this country. People are so partisan, so dedicated to my tribe winning. They’re willing to let people die as a result,

Lisa: and it also shows how social media algorithms, you know, can really, really forward this kind of information and push people further and further into a bubble where they don’t see any other perspective at all.

Chris: Well, and that, that’s the frightening thing. There was a time where people all had a local newspaper that they relied on to be down the middle. And [00:04:00] because of the challenges to that industry, they’re watching Tucker Carlson, who’s basically telling them to do stuff that is dangerous for their health. It, it, it, the numbers don’t lie.

You can’t, you cannot be any more sure of what happened these last three years, and it’s been crazy time. It’s today in. NOPEC has been controversial of late. So we went back in time to remember why this thing was created in the first place. Laura, what did we find about its inception and how did it do over the years and why are things crashing down upon it?


Laura: I have to say I learned a lot from Sean McDonald’s story because NOPEC was just this kind of amorphous, like, yeah, yeah, it does something with energy, uh, but it’s really not even that old and. If you, if you need a refresher on nopec, you gotta, we’ll read a story, but I’ll give you the recap. So nopec is the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council.

It’s a nonprofit. It’s been buying electricity on behalf of residents in Greater Cleveland since 2000 later. It added natural gas, [00:05:00] but two thousands when more than a hundred communities voted to form the aggregation. And there were 95 of them that all joined together to try to get better deals on electricity for.

Consumers for their residents. It’s run by a board of directors made up of local officials. Each community repre has a representative and one vote in the general assembly of nopec, and there’s also counties that can elect a board member. The problem is NOPEC has been in the news because their rates got so high this summer that state regulators said they might take away their right to represent communities in the electricity market, not natural gas, just electricity, and they might not renew their certificate to.

The thing is, it’s really comes down to timing. And what nopec had been doing is trying to buy electricity close to when it needed it for its customers, because electricity rates had been trending down. And then this past summer when rates were climbing, you know, the Ukraine was invaded and everything got more expensive.

They [00:06:00] were having to buy at more expensive prices while other energy companies had bought at an auction far, far before.

Chris: Yeah, the story does go into great detail to explain what happened recently. Mm-hmm. , I’m sad to say I remember the creation of it. I didn’t need the prime to get me up to date. I was here when we were having this discussion.

I guess I’m the only one, but this, this, it’s good to remember why this came together when we decided as a state to deregulate partially the utility delivery. Everybody knew you or I couldn’t negotiate our own own. We didn’t have any bargaining power, and so they created the ability of cities to do so, and they came together under nopec.

And NOPEC has saved people a lot of money. I, I still resent that I have to opt out if I want to. Every year. I hate. The automatic opt-in that, um, that was created with it. But this did put nopec into a much better frame of reference. It’ll be a shame if the [00:07:00] p u c stops nopec from being able to be a seller.

Uh, and you, you know, that there are probably forces that. Have been caught up in the corruption probe that are trying to get rid of them because they did save everybody a lot of money and you would hope that the Utilities Commission would recognize this is a good force. And what they did here was a good thing.

They realized we’re, we’re costing people money this year. Bounce ‘em, let’s get ‘em back to the base rate. They did the right thing.

Laura: They dropped about a half a million people. And I think there are competitors that don’t want NOPEC to exist anymore. They’re competitors and they wanna make more money. But NOPEC estimates it saved people, um, 300 million up until 2019.

And then that’s when the guaranteed discount program went away. They had a couple of different contracts that were automatically percentage savings on what. The companies were offering places like Energy Harbor and they ended, so we don’t know exactly how much [00:08:00] they’re saving now, but that is the idea, right?

That they were the ones that went to that for the consumers to save them money. And it just, it’s, you know, you, you hear about somebody doing something bad, you automatically think corruption. Like, that’s where our heads go in 2022, uh, in Ohio. Anyway, this, it’s not like they did anything wrong. It was.

Timing issue. And I think everybody’s learned a lot from it. And you know, when, because the first energy in folks, they were buying their electricity at auction, they might be paying more in the future. It’s, it’s really a, a, you know, you don’t know what’s

Chris: gonna happen. Well, the stench of corruption is tied to the utilities commission.

I mean, we’ve seen that they’re, they, they don’t represent or have not represented the interest of consumers. They’ve been in the pocket of utilities and nopec. Represent consumers. They weren’t in the pocket of anybody. And so it’s kind of important that they remain because for some reason, no one in government will bring this utilities commission to to, [00:09:00] to task, to make them represent both the consumer and the industry.

They’re just anti-consumer,

Laura: right? So the filings are due for this decision December 12th. So we’re probably gonna see a flurry of that. Beforehand,

Chris: it’s today in Ohio. We’ve reported about the waste of a lot of federal stimulus dollars in northeast Ohio, and that’s a shame because this one time money could have been transformative.

Our stimulus watch reporter, Lucas Dere, went looking for some good news in this and says, sometimes it can be transformative. Layla.

Leila: Yes, Lucas has watched a lot of ARPA money flow through local governments this past year, and there are ideas that are clear winners and there are those that are big time losers.

So he pulled together this roundup of a few of the most promising uses for ARPA dollars in our region, and Lucas judged the ideas based on whether they hit a few criteria. To make the list they had to create or expand on an innovative approach to a longstanding [00:10:00] social issue, provide enough money to potentially see a difference and are backed up by either data or success stories of similar programs elsewhere.

Top of the list of winners is using ARPA dollars to create crisis intervention teams that work in tandem with police to respond to calls related to people facing mental health crises. Those are the calls that we know sometimes and in tragedy. When police are dispatched to deal with them alone and they take a more aggressive approach with the person in need of help.

In fact, Lucas tells us in his story that in, in a five year stretch ending in 2020, a quarter of all police shootings involves someone with a mental illness. So Cleveland is really embracing this model this year by doubling the size of its crisis intervention teams and deploying them in all the police districts.

If, if the statistic that Lucas cited was true for Cleveland, Then I really think this approach could go further than almost anything has toward meeting the demands of the federal consent decree. Another idea that makes a giant impact is broadband [00:11:00] expansion. Lucas highlights Summit County’s 35 million Arba investment in creating a fiber optic cable ring to help first responders in summit’s 31 municipalities.

It would provide internet speeds seven times faster than the national average. And you know, although this expansion is just to help boost response to emergencies, the idea here is that it really sets up the infrastructure for public use in the future. So it’s very forward looking. And then the final project Lu Lucas gave a shout out to was Lakewood Sewer improvements.

That alleviates some of the. The debt burden on the city’s residence, fixing Lakewood sewer system problems will cost 300 million. So Lakewood is investing 25 million in ARPA money, which is over half of its total 47 million allocation toward that effort. And Lucas noted that other cities are investing ARPA dollars in their sewer infrastructure too, but not as much as Lakewood.

And he points out that the mayor there could have spent that [00:12:00] money on pet projects, as we’ve seen many. Municipalities do or, or more splashy projects, but putting this big chunk towards sewer improvements, alleviates debt burden down the.

Chris: Yeah, we’ve seen so much of this money waste it. The, you know, the worst example is Pernell Jones and his cronies on the Cuyahoga County Council flushing 66 million down the drain on little pet projects that no one’s going to remember.

Uh, it was nice to see Lucas look for some silver lining, some people doing interesting new things. So it’s a good story. Check it out. It’s on What is going on at a state run facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Highland Hills are clients being physically abused? Lisa, I think the most troubling part of this story is the challenge that investigators face in getting reliable witness testimony because of the population they’re having to deal with.


Lisa: And excuse me, we’re talking about the Warrensville [00:13:00] Developmental Center for adults in. Hills eight employees there had been indicted on patient abuse and evidence tampering charges 17 counts in all that date back to 2018. So an investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol began after an October, 2018 incident in which, uh, employee Terrence.

Shambley was accused of hitting and dragging a 19 year old patient in his care. There was video, but because of the angle of the video, the evidence of what happened is incomplete and a grand jury failed to indict Shambley on this. So the attorney general’s office took up the probe and they found more incidents.

One of them involving that very same 19 year old patient and two other, uh, caregivers, Monique Williams and Michael Webb. That was just a month after the original one. And then, uh, Michelle. Is indicted for, uh, November, 2018 where she incident, where she dragged and tackled a patient, although her [00:14:00] attorney, Gary Levine says Why did they wait four years to file these charges and it would be physically impossible for his client to have done that to the patient.

And then Christopher Collier, he’s um, Uh, accused of assaulting a 30, 31 year old female patient in his care in April of 2023. Others were charged with false statements and evidence tampering. They were not charged with assault. Ryan Robinson, Tiana, John Jordan, who are both still working there. And Leland Walker were just, you know, charged with the false statements and evidence, and they were, they witnessed the events, but when they were investigating the original, They f you know, they were talking to witnesses who were patients, and one of them wasn’t even really verbal and he kind of punched his fist together, just, you know, to describe what happened in the incident.

Chris: Yeah, I just, I don’t know how I, I credit them for, for being diligent and really working to do this investigation, but this must be about the hardest kind of [00:15:00] case to prosecute because they, they said many of these people, they can’t use as witnesses because of their disabilities and even those that they were able to communicate with, it was really hard to communicate with them.

So it’s, if this goes to court, they’re, they’re just going. Be challenged in trying to do it, but if they really do believe there’s this abuse going on, they’ve got to do something about it. So it’s a, it’s one of the more interesting criminal cases that’s come along because it, it shows the difficulties of prosecuting these kinds of crimes.

It’s almost like you need cameras everywhere in a facility like this, that that’s the only way to get hard evidence.

Lisa: Exactly. Exactly. And this video camera, you know, wasn’t placed well enough to really get, you know, solid evidence on one of the assaults. So that’s a good.

Chris: Okay. It’s today in Ohio. I, I just have to say, I can’t get my mind off of this.

Dave Joyce saying he will support Donald Trump for president. Even after Donald Trump said over the weekend he wants to suspend the constitution. It’s [00:16:00] amazing. I put a note out on subtext that went out about. 15, 20 minutes ago, and I’ve already got 53 responses of people who are outraged by what Joyce said.

I mean, it’s just a stunner. We’ll be talking about it tomorrow. We’re gonna follow up with Joyce today to say, what are you talking about? You took the oath to support and defend the constitution. Just like the president. How can you just blow this off and say you would support him if he’s the candidate?

Anyway, moving on. Ohio officials are finally working on the broken down unemployment system. And they are finding some of their goals to be contradictory. How are they trying to solve that, Laura?

Laura: Well, it is this kind of conundrum, how can you tighten anti fraud security without exacerbating delays and paying out genuine claims?

So the state is trying to work both sides and there’s already been questions saying, you know, a, a normal amount of people who have legitimate claims are getting flagged as fraud, which is the exact opposite of what was happening during the early days of the pandemic when they were [00:17:00] peeling. Paying out just way, way too much money in fraud.

And taking way, way too long to answer anyone’s concerns. The state paid actually a billion dollars in fraudulent claims out, which is insane actually. Um, so there was a hearing Friday, but a legislative committee studying ways to improve this and both the wines administration and lawmakers are moving forward.

Some fixes. So this, there’s a Senate bill 3 0 2. It would require the state to use tax filings to verify employees income. If employers don’t respond within 10 days, they would be allowed to access photos from state driver’s license database to help verify I identities and mandate that federal unemployment benefits offered in the future.

They must establish a verification system for the applicants using state tax information. That’s because the. Of the fraud paid out was in the extra federal, uh, pandemic unemployment benefits, not in the regular state ones.

Chris: Yeah, I, it, it , [00:18:00] we, we talked so much about how bad this was. There was so much fraud and there was so much confusion.

Nobody could get them on the phone. And, and it is a, it’s just a quandary, right? Because if you wanna. Easier for people to access their benefits. You make it easier for the scammers to steal the money and, and you’ve got to, to button it up. Other government agencies don’t really seem to have these problems.

They can build a secure system that’s still easy to access, but for some reason the unemployment system just seems just. Rife with problems.

Laura: Yeah. The good news is they’ve hired a lot more people, but remember how they were working on that? What was it like 2004 system for paying out the unemployment benefits?

They’re still working on that because the people, they were paying their contractor, there’s fraud there and people are like indicted, so that’s on hold. So we don’t have a better system than we did two and a half years ago, almost three years ago. But they do have more people working and they say they’re getting about 85% of people paid within three [00:19:00] weeks.

So that is an improvement. Before the pandemic, it was 87% were paid within 21 days. So, um, But yeah, even as recently as last October, almost a quarter of people weren’t getting them within that timeframe. So we are improving. Uh, but a lot of people are getting flagged for fraud. Hopefully, if they are, they can prove it really quickly.

I mean, it’s just, that’s another hurdle to jump through.

Chris: Okay. It’s today in Ohio. , what is Dan Gilbert’s long awaited vision for the riverfront behind Tower City? And what does our esteemed architecture and planning critics Steve Lit? Think of it all. Le My favorite part of this story was Steve reminding us that the plan they originally had for a casino behind there was like a giant refrigerator rising next to the,

Leila: I actually laughed out loud at that.

That’s funny. You should say that this, this sounds pretty exciting, but of course, you know, as Steve points out, it’s still in the pie in the sky phase. Gilbert’s real estate [00:20:00] company, bedrock unveiled its its plan to remake 35 acres of the kayak riverfront with Tower City Center, serving as, as a key gateway between downtown Cleveland and the waterfront, which would be just teaming with development.

Uh, according to this schema here, this is a project. Estimated to cost three and a half billion dollars, and it’s intended to bring thousands of residential units, office space, public parks and things like that, and lots of recreation opportunities in retail, all along this stretch of the Cuyahoga River.

That’s pretty desolate today. The development would happen over 15 to 20 years, and by the time it’s done, it would be this riverfront front community and the public would have access to. The River Bedrock is is already starting to put together the land it needs to make this plan a reality, which includes the old Sherwin Williams headquarters and another Sherwin Williams facility on Canal Road.

But the project also requires, Four, 450 million in public infrastructure upgrades. So that will be up to the city of Cleveland and Kaga [00:21:00] County and the state to, to put that together and make it happen. Plan calls for really dramatic changes to existing structures in the city. Tower City, like I said, is among them.

Bedrock owns that building and they’re talking about extending the building out and over the bluff, down toward the river to create a pedestrian thoroughfare between public square and the riverfront, which sounds super cool. But West Huran Road stands in the way of that plant. So Bedrock is saying, how about remove that stretch of road?

EastWest traffic would shift a block north and could continue down. Prospect before returning to Huron Canal Road would also need to be rerouted to maximize the potential of the plant. But there’s just so much going on in this plant, gardens, walkways, park spaces, buildings, nestled around the federal courthouse.

Tower City’s, you know, beautiful porch that opens up to the riverfront. The plan, um, you know, an amphitheater with steps that drop down to the water’s edge and waterfront promenades and eco-friendly infrastructure, green roofs and electric vehicle [00:22:00] charging stations. It’s like a riverfront utopia. .

Chris: Yeah.

The story is a reminder of how much in Cleveland we just completely squandered our, our waterfront sle, Gary and the river. I did like the other. That came from the planner, which was get the bus traffic off of Superior. Yes. Running down the front with Yes. Which Frank Jackson tried to do and, and in a political year got blitz because of it, but that destroys public square buses going through the center of, it doesn’t make for a park like setting.

I was so impressed. He said that he’d have to work with RTA on that. You know, the mayor gets to point people to rta, so if he believes in this project, he could point people. It’ll make that happen.

Leila: Yeah. Steve, Steve Lit, liked that idea too. And, but he, you know, like I said, he, Steve raised the question of feasibility for this, given the huge public investment and infrastructure that has to happen first.

And, and he questioned a few of the design elements. You know, for example, the proposed tower City porch would [00:23:00] have a large timber frame roof, and Steve was, Steve was kind of. Me about that , he wonders whether that would fit in with the, the architecture of, to Tower City’s buildings. And he thinks it’s gonna block the view of Terminal Tower from the river and the park that’s below.

But he loves the idea of using Tower City as a public point of connection to the waterfront. And, and unlike, you know, past proposals, this one doesn’t seem too crowded. , but he points out that, that so many have tried and failed to propose a revisioning of, of the riverfront over the years. So he’s, he’s really taking a wait and see approach on whether this one is gonna catch fire.

Laura: I gotta say, I loved this, this idea. Mm-hmm. like the, I I, when Steve called it the backside of Tower City, I just thought that was so perfect. Cuz if you ever drive around down there, it’s like mm-hmm. . Yep. There’s something cool happening on the other side. The river’s front is just basically forgotten and it feels really dirty and industrial.

Yes, yes. And not safe. And, and we pay so much attention to our lakefront and we talk all the time [00:24:00] about Brook Lakefront Airport and all the plans, and I know we have the flats and everything, but we don’t talk a whole lot about accessibility to the riverfront and connecting it to downtown. And the idea.

Tower City would be a connector and, and revitalize that entire space. That when I was a teenager was just, you know, this really iconic, you know, cool destination. Like, I was so excited about this. I like texted people. I mean, I know it’s not a done deal, but I was like, this would be. Awesome.

Chris: And Dan Gilbert does have a record in Detroit of doing transformative projects.

He’s largely single-handedly responsible for what’s happening in that city. So there’s some history here. When he wants to move things, he

Laura: can do it. He called it a market maker, right? What the question is like, does the market need this? And he said, we’re making, we’re making it like people are going to wanna live here and work here just because of this space.

And I think if you make it inviting enough, that’s

Chris: possible. It’s today in Ohio. We’ve been talking [00:25:00] a long time about infant mortality in northeast Ohio, especially about the inexplicable disparity between the rates for black and white infants. Lisa, what is the latest data show? Are we making any headway?

Lisa: We are making some headway, um, according to 2021 data from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, but the racial disparity still remains so. The infant mortality rate is measured by the number of babies who die before their first birthday. Per thousand live births. So in the city of Cleveland for 2021, that number was 10.5.

That’s down from 12 in 2018. If you look at Cuyahoga County, uh, the rate for 2021 was 7.4 deaths per thousand lives births. That’s down. From 8.4 in 2018, but when you start to break it down by race, it really looks bad. So for 2021 in Cleveland, [00:26:00] black Cleveland Babies, the infant mortality rate was 14.4.

Per thousand births. That’s down from 17.5 in 2018, but it’s still huge. When you look at white Cleveland babies. The infant mortality rate for them last year was 6.3, so that’s almost. Half, you know, half as much as black babies. And the number in 2018 for white babies was three. So we also saw there were certain neighborhoods all on the east side with extremely high rates, including Huff, Buckeye, Woodhill, central and Colinwood.

Nodding. And they had infant mortality rates ranging from 20 to 27. From 2017 to 2020.

Chris: What? What’s amazing about this, this issue is when you take away all the variables, you just remove all of the things about income and geography and all of it. It’s still there, and [00:27:00] there’s a belief, a growing belief, that this is about implicit bias, the way people are treated in the medical situation.

But that recognition started to come, I don’t know, five years ago now. And it does not seem like we’re making a difference. It there People always try and find, well, that’s because, that’s because, but the researchers have erased all that. They’ve adjusted for all of it. And that discrepancy, that disparity is still there and we just do not seem to be able to overcome

Lisa: it.

Yeah, and it, it affects black women of all socioeconomic strata. I mean, it’s not just poor black women, it’s all black women it seems like. And of course the, it’s the usual issues, lack of. Lack of prenatal care, housing, employment, stressors, and this is a big one, a shortage of diverse providers, which I don’t know that that’s something we can fix right away, but you know, people are more comfortable seeing in a doctor who looks like them.

Chris: Okay, it’s today in Ohio. Got one [00:28:00] more. What is Metro Health’s replacement? Rim Buttross CEO Erica Steed going to make And how does that compare to Buttross Layla?

Leila: Erica Steeds compensation will include her $900,000 base salary and with a total comp cash compensation package between 1057501.3. Well, 1,372,000 when you factor in bonuses, but that’s less than what it turns out.

Buttross was making, he made between 1.7 and 2.7 million a year. That adds up to 10.6 million since 2018, including 4.2 million in bonuses. And of course, the Metro Health Board says they didn’t know about 1.9 million of that. And in fact, He was setting his own metrics and conducting his own performance evaluations to earn that money.

Julie Washington asked MetroHealth if, if Erica Steed plans on changing the performance based variable compensation plan, and MetroHealth said it’s too early to [00:29:00] tell how she’s gonna handle that. She has a lot to learn pretty quickly about the operation of the hospital, and that’s her top priority here.

Chris: But wait. It’s not too early. It’s never too early to say We will no longer have an executive who sets his own measurements and measures himself. I was so disappointed by that answer. That mean that should have been automatic. Of course, this will never happen again. We’re working on a story about how over time the Metro Health Boards of various eras have completely failed to do their oversight as they did here.

This. Of volleyball just lobbed up by Julie. Hey, are you gonna change the system in which they could have just spiked it and said, well, the one thing we know for sure is no future CEO will be able to secretly rate themself. And

Leila: they didn’t. Well, the board is already saying that what Buttross did was not allowed under the rules.

So she doesn’t need to change anything about that to to abolish. That [00:30:00] way of handling bonuses. She, she knows now she’s on alert that, that you are not permitted to evaluate yourself and grant yourself bonuses. The board is already saying that he broke the rules. Right,

Chris: but, but he did it anyway for five years.

So obviously a change is needed. So the answer would’ve been

Leila: the change is buttross is gone. ,

Chris: yeah. But you, but you’re not protected against this unless you say not. We are changing our system, putting in safeguards and guaranteeing to the public that the public’s money will be protected. I, it just, it was a very flippant thing.

Oh, it’s too early to know what’s

Leila: going, because honestly, the safeguard is, the board should have looked at the list of people getting the bonuses. The safeguard is on the side of the board. Okay?

Chris: Okay then.

Leila: Then that’s the answer. What could speed have? What could sted change about the system? Hear

Chris: me out.

Then say, look, this isn’t for the incoming CEO to change the board. Dropped the [00:31:00] ball here. We’re changing our internal controls. We’re gonna make sure this doesn’t happen. Think she’s

Leila: gonna say that before she even takes, takes her position. Hey, guess what? The board dropped the ball.

Chris: We didn’t talk to her.

The board gave us the answer. They’re not gonna say that either. No, they should be. I mean, we had an editorial over the weekend saying they’ve got Explaining to, do they have serious explaining to do they do? They do because repeatedly in history, this board has dropped the ball and it’s time for some, in fact, look really.

This should now fall to the county council. They should call for a full scale forensic audit, or we ought to hear from Keith Faber, the state auditor, saying, I’m coming into Metro Health and doing a whole scale audit to see what else, what other financial irregularities might exist there. This has been a blow to the public confidence, like nothing we’ve seen.

There’s explaining needed here. Absolutely.

Leila: And Steve said she’s, she’s focused on, on restoring that trust in the, in [00:32:00] the metro health system. So, you know, that’s a vague answer, but, you know, I, I, I do believe that the, the safeguard should have been with the board.

Chris: She starts today. what? What a way to start.

Welcome to Cleveland. Welcome to Cleveland . It’s today in Ohio. That does it for Monday. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks Leila. Thanks Laura. Thanks to everybody who listens to this podcast.