Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007
By Pat Royse
Ohio attorney general asks for local views
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann's brief talk before about 40 area law enforcement officers Tuesday likely sounded like music to their ears.
A still energetic Dann arrived at Wright State University-Lake Campus in mid afternoon, after having argued at the Ohio Supreme Court in the morning supporting Gov. Ted Strickland's veto of proposed legislation left without action by outgoing Gov. Bob Taft.
He was here, he told the group of mostly sheriff's department officials, local policemen, highway patrol representatives, as well as a few elected and administrative officials from Mercer County and Celina, "to listen to their concerns." The gathering of law enforcement for a "meet and greet" session with Dann was organized by Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey.
"What is it you need?" he asked the group. "My job is to get you the resources."
Dann said he was working with the local sheriff's department to get the Adam Walsh Act standards approved in Ohio. If approved, Ohio would be the first state in the nation to do so. This would expand the database of warrants and sexual predators to include those in other states and so it can be transferred and accessed by laptops in cruisers.
Getting more money to local law enforcement is based in part on more efficient operations statewide, he said.
"I found out we were spending $25 million digitizing fingerprints of criminals who were no longer alive. We now require proof they are alive," he told the group. That frees up money for help without raising taxes.
Dann said he wants to make the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation the best forensic lab in the country and make it available to them as quick as possible.
After the meet and greet session, the newly elected attorney general admitted that he has jumped into his new job with both feet and has had to set priorities.
"I took the consumer counseling and protection staff on a retreat recently. We reduced our projects from about 30 to five or six. We found out we just can't do everything," he told The Daily Standard.
He is keeping the predatory lending problems in Ohio and a student loan investigation on the front burner for the time being.
Dann's office just received 25,000 documents from universities on student loans and preferred lenders. He said other states have found that lenders often pay the university a fee per student who takes out a loan for their education. In New York and Pennsylvania, universities were getting up to $500 per student who took out a loan with the so-called lending partner. It may not be criminally illegal, Dann said, but it may violate consumer disclosure laws.
As for his Ohio Supreme Court appearance on Tuesday, he said the judges were receptive to his argument.
Dann based his statements on the constitutional separation of powers between the legislative branch and the executive. The rules say there are 10 days from when a bill is presented to the governor to veto or sign it into law. Senate Bill 117 was presented after the last Legislature adjourned. The right to veto fell within that time frame, he continued. The controversial bill would put a limitation on co nsumer protection for a particular product. The Legislature is overstepping their authority in bringing this lawsuit, Dann said.
It is not known when the Supreme Court will make a decision on the issue.
Dann, who was a former state senator and sometime defense attorney, said he decided to run for office when he started delving into the Bureau of Workman's Compensation scandal, now known as Coingate. He got mad and decided to run.
Dann also attended the Mercer County Democratic Party annual Ox Roast on Tuesday night.
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