Tuesday, February 17, 2004

State Democratic Party chairman helps save a life

Inside Ohio's Capital

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As Ohio's Democratic Party chairman, Denny White works to get his fellow Democrats elected and keep them that way.

On Valentine's Day, he was one of a handful of people trying to save a little girl's life.

White was on vacation in Florida, riding a motorcycle on I-75, when he saw a two-car accident that ended with a van flipped over on the grassy median.

White stopped to see what he could do. He and others helped lift the van off a 13-year old girl named Alexandra Tozzi. A Florida Highway Patrol report said Tozzi had been partially ejected from the van during the rollover.

Tozzi was airlifted to Miami Children's Hospital, where she was in critical condition Monday.

Police cited the van's driver, Pamela Brown of Vineland, Fla., for trying to make an improper U-turn. The report said the van was trying to cut across a lane of traffic to get to a median turnaround, and got hit. White declined to talk about the crash or what he did. A friend of White's called the Enquirer, and details of what happened were confirmed by Dan Trevas, the state party's spokesman.

DOUGLAS HIRED: Retired Supreme Court Justice Andrew Douglas will soon become the director of the state's largest workers union, the Ohio Civil Service Employee Association.

Douglas was the only candidate interviewed by the union, which represents 37,000 workers in different state agencies. The union announced his hiring on Saturday.

A Republican who spent nearly two decades on the state's highest court, Douglas often sided with labor in cases involving worker's compensation and lawsuit reforms. Those decisions angered many of the Ohio GOP's business allies.

"I was a union member earlier in my career and I have always admired labor organizations," Douglas said in an OCSEA press release. "Unions have been an integral part of our communities and our heritage, and they are directly responsible for the standard of living of middle class Americans."

PETRO SUES: Attorney General Jim Petro filed suit Thursday against a Toledo foster care agency, Homes with a Heart Inc. He said the agency owners owe the state more than $520,000, including $400,000 that was spent for unknown purposes.

This was the third such suit Petro has filed since the Enquirer published a series of articles showing how the state does little to collect millions of taxpayer dollars misspent by private companies. Though audits found $15.7 million in questionable spending by 26 foster-care companies, the state has so far gotten back $117,000.

Petro may have a hard time getting the money back. Lucas County officials report Homes with a Heart went out of business in 1999.

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