Staff referrals are better for budget than recruiting

first_imgStaff referrals are better for budget than recruitingOn 3 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Employee referral programmes are more cost-effective than recruitmentagencies, according to 80 per cent of respondents to a US survey. Almost 70 per cent of those who took part in the 2001 Employee ReferralProgram Survey said ERPs are more cost-effective than other recruiting methods.Thirty-seven per cent said ERPs are effective compared with other recruitingmethods, while 36 per cent said they are effective in improving the retentionof current employees. More than 65 per cent said their organisations have a formal or informal ERPwith financial rewards, cars and gift certificates offered as incentives. SHRM president Helen Drinan said, “Employee referral programmes are oneof the most effective recruitment tools employers have. “In today’s tight labour market, organisations need workers fast. Andwhat better way to tap into talent than to encourage current employees toidentify and refer potential recruits to your organisation?” Drinan said. The joint research by SHRM and online company Referral Networks surveyed 586HR professionals in the US regarding the structure and effectiveness ofemployee referral practices. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Home sales fall while prices reach all-time high

first_img Email Address* Message* Last month, the median sale price hit an all-time high of $329,100, up 17.2 percent year-over-year.The supply of inventory also rose slightly in March to 1.07 million units, compared to February’s 1.03 million. Properties were sold within 18 days, the fastest on record.But the increase in inventory wasn’t enough for the eager buyers on the market, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory,” he said in a statement.“At least half of the adult population has received a Covid-19 vaccination, according to reports, and recent housing starts and job creation data show encouraging dynamics of more supply and strong demand in the housing sector,” Yun continued.Housing starts surged 19 percent in March. Homebuilder sentiment rose this month with builders expecting strong activity from prospective buyers and in single-family sales.Yun did acknowledge that a cycle of low inventory and strong demand that continues to drive up prices will have long-term effects if not reversed soon.“Without an increase in supply, the society wealth division will widen with homeowners enjoying sizable equity gains while renters will struggle to become homeowners,” he said.Contact Erin Hudson Full Name* The pace of homes sales fell again as prices reached historic highs and inventory remained low.Existing home sales dropped 3.7 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.01 million from 6.22 million in February, according to the National Association of Realtors’ monthly report.It marks the second consecutive month-over-month decline in the pace of sales. Though it’s an improvement from March 2020’s pace of 5.35 million sales, the country was largely in lockdown at the time.Read moreMortgage requests, refinancings continue to dropPending home sales plunged nearly 11% in FebruaryHome price growth hits 15-year highlast_img read more

Urban Meyer investigation at Ohio State to wrap up on Sunday

first_img Written by August 18, 2018 /Sports News – National Urban Meyer investigation at Ohio State to wrap up on Sunday Beau Lundcenter_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailRonald Martinez/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — An independent investigation into how Ohio State’s national championship-winning head football coach Urban Meyer handled domestic violence accusations against a staff member will be completed Sunday, the school said Friday.The school’s Board of Trustees appointed an independent group to investigate how Meyer, one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, treated allegations of abuse by the wife of former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith. Courtney Smith, now Zach’s ex-wife, told Stadium on Aug. 1 that she believed Meyer was aware of a 2015 claim of abuse against her then-husband.Courtney Smith said she spoke to Meyer’s wife, Shelley; showed her pictures of bruises allegedly from the abuse; and told Shelley to speak to her husband.Meyer was placed on administrative leave just hours after her interview was released.The coach said at Big Ten Media Day on July 24 that he was unaware of the 2015 domestic violence incidence by Smith, only to later apologize in a statement following his placement on leave and say, “My intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading. However, I was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media, and I apologize for the way I handled those questions.”The independent investigation will wrap up its findings on Sunday, and then prepare a report to be delivered to the Board of Trustees sometime next week, Ohio State said in its statement Friday.“As required by law, public notice of the meeting will be released at least 24 hours in advance,” the school said. “Following deliberations with the board, and appropriate time for consideration, President Michael V. Drake will announce his decision.”It’s unclear what those penalties could include.Offensive coordinator Ryan Day has served as head coach while Meyer is on leave.Zach Smith was fired by Ohio State in July after he was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass during a dispute with Courtney Smith. He pleaded not guilty. The charge was just the latest in a number of domestic incidents involving the couple. Zach Smith was arrested in 2009 for allegedly abusing Courtney Smith while she was pregnant, but she ultimately decided not to press charges, Stadium‘s Brett McMurphy reported. The Columbus Dispatch reported that police responded to the couple’s home for the 2015 incident, but no charges were filed.Julia Leveridge, Courtney Smith’s lawyer, told Good Morning America on Aug. 13 that her client had spoken to investigators and was “thankful for the support she has received during this time.”Meyer has won three national championships as a head coach, including two at the University of Florida and one at Ohio State. He will make $7.6 million in 2018.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more


first_imgTERRI CLARK VICTORY THEATRE- THURSDAY, JULY 7, 7:30 PM – TICKETS GO ON SALE FRIDAY, MAY 27 AT 10 AM –Evansville, IN – Victory Theatre is excited to announce the addition of Terri Clark to its summer schedule. Hailing from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Terri Clark is a 3-time JUNO Award winner and 8-time CCMA Entertainer of the Year and she has taken home the Female Vocalist of the Year award five times. She still holds the honor of being the only Canadian female artist to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Terri has sold more than four million albums worldwide and has made her mark on radio with 13 Top Ten singles – hits that include “Better Things To Do,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” “Girls Lie Too,” and “I Just Wanna Be Mad.” Terri recently took over as host of Country Gold, a four-hour Classic Country radio show that airs on more than 100 stations across the US.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Record trade of sustainable palm oil certificates

first_imgGreenPalm experience a record trade of sustainable palm oil certificates last month, while the record for palm kernel oil (PKO) certificates was broken in October.GreenPalm allows manufacturers to offset their palm oil, PKO and palm kernel expeller (PKE) use by buying GreenPalm certificates representing an equivalent volume that has been produced in line with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) principles and criteria.During October, 416,852 certificates, worth $4.4m (£2.69m), were sold on GreenPalm’s trading system, of which a record 125,781 were PKO certificates. In November, 717,431 certificates, worth $3.2m (£1.96m), were traded, of which a record 667,982 were for palm oil.Bob Norman of GreenPalm said: “This month has seen unprecedented levels of trading, particularly in PKO certificates. Our figures to date illustrate the fact that manufacturers and retailers are taking palm sustainability seriously and are keen to support growers directly.“GreenPalm not only plays an important role in protecting rainforests, but also supports growers including smallholders who, without this trading platform, would find it difficult to access global buyers committed to sustainability.”Membership currently stands at more than 750 registered manufacturers, retailers and certified growers.last_img read more

Holidays & diabetes

first_imgBreak up exercise sessionsIf it seems too daunting to spend 30 to 45 minute exercising in this busy time, try setting aside two to three segments of 15 to20 minutes each. And there are other ways to exercise:* Go to the mall, especially during inclement weather.* Walk around your neighborhood to view holiday decorations.* Park farther away from the store when you shop.* Make the evening walk a family activity when you can catch upon your family’s daily activities.* Wear walking shoes while traveling by airplane, and go early towalk the concourses before your flight and during layovers.Since holiday customs tend to center around meals, Freeman said,it can be helpful to focus on activities that don’t involve food.* Have family or guests help with holiday decorating.* Organize groups to attend holiday musicals or plays.* Have a caroling party.* Go shopping with family or friends.* Focus on nonfood gifts for gift-giving. By Chowning JohnsonUniversity of GeorgiaJust about everybody eats more and exercises less during theholidays. And that’s bad enough for anybody. But for people withdiabetes, it can be dangerous.”High blood glucose in the short term makes people feel tired andless energetic,” said Janine Freeman, a nutrition specialist withthe University of Georgia Extension Service. “Long-term, itcauses devastating complications that involve many parts of thebody.”Making daily physical activity a priority can help control bloodsugar. But the busyness of the holidays can make it easy tooverlook exercise.”People are less active during the holidays,” Freeman said. “Theyalso have a lot more tempting foods available.”Walking and other types of exercise can help relieve stress,improve your mood, lower your blood glucose level and controlweight. Especially watch carbos”People eat portions that are too large, which leads to increasedcarbohydrates, which increases glucose,” Freeman said.Planning meals ahead of time can help keep your blood sugar incheck. If you take your premeal insulin, you can adjust it to theamount of carbohydrate you’re planning to eat. (The morecarbohydrate you eat, the higher your blood glucose will rise.)Popular high-carb foods around the holidays are stuffing,potatoes, breads, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, piesand eggnog.Low-calorie sweeteners can help reduce carbohydrates in somedesserts, such as pumpkin pie, cranberry salads and sweet potatocasserole. But sugar is usually needed in cakes and cookies.To help keep blood glucose levels down after holiday meals:* Fill up on low-calorie vegetables and salads.* Don’t eat second helpings.* Eat a small portion of dessert in place of other high-carbfoods.* Don’t drink sugar-sweetened beverages.You can alter traditional recipes to reduce fat, too, Freemansaid.* Use defatted turkey or chicken broth instead of butter inpreparing stuffing.* Use nonfat chicken broth to replace milk and butter in mashedpotatoes.* Skim the fat from gravy and use it sparingly.* Avoid high-fat condiments such as whipped cream, butter andcreamy salad dressings.last_img read more

On the Blogs: ‘Coal Isn’t Dying Because There’s a War on It’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Barry Ritholtz for Bloomberg View:I never cease to be amazed how people with an agenda massage facts, or omit them, in order to support their cause.It comes up in the investing world, where these agendas often lead to money-losing decisions. Being able to detect this sort of nonsense is good over the long run for your investment portfolio.I was reminded of this recently when I read a report from the American Action Forum. The report says that just five year ago the market value of the four biggest coal companies was more than $35 billion. Since then, that has plunged 99 percent and some of the biggest producers have filed for bankruptcy.What is to blame for this stunning loss? The report sums it up in word: Regulation. The “War on Coal,” the report says, has imposed “$312 billion in costs and more than 30 million paperwork burden hours” on the industry.Such a nice, neat explanation. But there’s more to it than regulation designed mainly to limit how much pollution the industry spews into the air. Let’s take a closer look at what factors might be behind the demise of the coal companies:Cheap natural gas: Coal-fired plants have been the workhorses of U.S. electrical generation for the better part of a century. But many utilities are switching from coal to natural gas as an energy source. It isn’t only greener, it’s cheaper, partly because it costs less to move gas through a pipeline than it costs to transport coal by ship, rail or truck. Also helping to lower prices is the boom in fracking, which opened up vast new sources of natural gas.It now appears that natural gas overtook coal as the top U.S. power source last year. That trend is likely to accelerate: as of 2015, about 20 percent of the country’s coal-fired power plants were facing retirement. Expect those to be replaced or retrofitted to burn natural gas. This matters because the electric-power generation used 92.8 percent of the total U.S. coal supply as of 2014. Coal accounts for 29 percent of electrical generation.It obviously isn’t good for your business when your largest customers are abandoning your product for something cheaper.Debt: Peabody Coal, the nation’s largest coal producer with 19 percent of the market, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year. The bankruptcy affects about $8.4 billion in loan and bond debt. It didn’t help that Peabody spent $5.1 billion for Australia’s MacArthur Coal in 2012 as coal prices plunged.Arch Coal, the No. 2 U.S. coal producer with 13.6 percent of the market, also filed for Chapter 11. The company had $4.5 billion in debt, most of which it ran up amid a series of ill-timed acquisitions in 2011, just before the price of coal collapsed.Other top coal producers that filed for bankruptcy include Patriot Coal, Alpha Coal, Walter Energy and James River Coal.Clean Energy: Coal is a dirty energy source. It fouls the air and leaves behind abandoned mines that double as hazardous waste sites that need to be cleaned up, often at taxpayer expense. These are what economists call externalities, meaning someone other than the coal companies bears the cost of the pollution they cause.So while much of the political rhetoric is aimed at White House plans for renewable energy, you may have missed where the action is: at the state level, where regulators are requiring the utilities they oversee to cut coal use.As Slate’s Dan Gross notes, 29 states have so-called renewable portfolio standards. These mandate a rising percentage of clean-energy use, and that usually means something other than coal. New state air-quality standards also rule out coal as an energy source for new or refurbished electrical-generation plants. Furthermore, nine states on the East Coast have started a regional greenhouse gas initiative to limit emissions. That means more natural gas and green energy, less coal.The decline of the American coal industry has been driven by many forces. Yes, the regulatory burden has increased, but it is hardly the main factor — and it’s well justified, based on the harm coal does to the environment and human health. The reality is that coal is the victim of competition from cheaper natural gas, from green-energy sources like solar and wind, and too much debt taken on to pay for costly and ill-timed acquisitions.Having an agenda only gets in the way of understanding this.Full item: Coal Isn’t Dying Because There’s a War on It On the Blogs: ‘Coal Isn’t Dying Because There’s a War on It’last_img read more

Soldiers Get Set for U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials

first_img Several Soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program recently posted strong performances in preparation for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials, scheduled for June 22 through July 1, in Eugene, Oregon. The results provide a preview of what they could achieve in Eugene, where they will vie for spots on Team USA, which is headed to the London Olympic Games. Maj. Michael Mai won the hammer throw with a hurl of 69.55 meters at the Jim Bush Southern California Championships in Los Angeles, June 2. A week later, he launched second-place throws of 74.83 and 75.43 meters at the Ashland Open Track & Field Meet in Ashland, Ohio, on June 7 and 9 respectively. Mai, 34, of Mountain View, Calif., won the hammer at the West Point Open at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., with a throw of 74.01 meters on May 19. With a lifetime best of 76.28 meters, he still pursues the Olympic A standard of 78.50 meters. He has hit the 77-meter mark in practice. If athletes attain the Olympic Trials A standard for their event, they automatically are qualified to compete at the Olympic Trials. The only sure-fire way to secure a berth in the London Olympic Games is to attain the higher Olympic Games A standard and finish among the top three in Eugene. The hammer throw will be the only event contested at the Nike World Headquarters near Portland. The rest are set for historic Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. Mai finished second at the 2011 Outdoor USA Track and Field Championships with a throw of 74.69 meters. He hopes to punch a ticket to London in Portland. “I kind of left with a sour taste in my mouth in 2008,” said Mai, who finished fifth with a throw of 71.75 meters in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene. “I got injured a little bit before the trials and I just didn’t put it together like I wanted to. You don’t ever want to leave the sport feeling like that, like there’s more I can do.” Still, Mai said, he feels he has been more successful in the last three years than he has been in the rest of his career. He has competed in nine U.S. outdoor and seven indoor national championships. “I made the last two world championship teams, went to the Pan Am Games this year and got the silver medal,” Mai said. “It hasn’t all been everything I’ve wanted, and even though I haven’t set a new [personal record] with the hammer, it’s always been my goal to go to the Olympics. You don’t want to leave knowing you have the ability to do it, and you didn’t at least make a run.” WCAP distance runner Spc. Joseph Chirlee crushed the Olympic A standard with a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the Tartletos Loopgala in Wageningen, Netherlands, May 30, with a time of 27 minutes, 43.96 seconds. Ali Hassan Mahboob of Bahrain won the race in 27:21.40. Chirlee, 32, a naturalized citizen from Marakwet, Kenya, lowered his personal best by 33 seconds and became one of nine U.S. runners to attain the Olympic A standard of 27:45.00. The Olympic Trials 10,000-meter men’s final is scheduled for June 22, in Eugene. The top three finishers with the A standard will compete for Team USA in London. Spc. Augustus Maiyo met the Olympic A standard with a second-place finish and time of 8:29.37 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, Tenn., on June 2. Spc. Kyle Heath finished 10th in the same race with a time of 8:50.15. Maiyo, 28, of Fort Carson, Colo., was twice named to the NCAA All-America Team in cross country at the University of Alabama. He finished third in the 2011 Army Ten-Miler at the Pentagon. The Olympic Trails men’s qualification heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase is set for June 25. The final is scheduled for June 28. Staff Sgt. John Nunn, who already punched his ticket to England by winning the crown for the men’s 50 km race walk, will attempt to double in London with a berth in the 20 km race walk, scheduled for June 30, in Eugene. Several other Soldiers hope to compete at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials. Spc. Robert Cheseret, who finished second in the 2011 Army Ten-Miler, is running the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He finished 14th in the 5,000 meters with a time of 13:37.02 at the Oxy High Performance Meet in Los Angeles on May 18. Also at that meet, Spc. Jackson Langat finished fifth in section four of the 800 meters in 1:48.70. Capt. John Mickowski finished 12th in the third section of the 1,500 meters in 3:49.07. Mickowski won the 1,500 with a time of 3:40.60 at the Portland Track Festival at Lewis and Clark College on June 9. Capt. Kelly Calway finished 16th in the women’s 10,000 meters with a time of 33:55.20. By Dialogo June 19, 2012last_img read more

Colombian National Police dismantle Semi-Submersible Boat-Building Crew

first_img Ernesto Obregon Diego Caicedo, who is also known as “Pampiro.” He allegedly assisted The Engineer in designing the semi-submersible boats, according to a PNC press release. Enriquez Jorge Alberto Mantilla, who is also known as “Panelita.” He is a diesel engine specialist. Manuel Antonio Barrera, who is also known as “Longano.” He was in charge of logistics for the gang. Colombian National Police have broken up a gang that allegedly built ocean-going semi-submersible drug smuggling boats for the Clan de los Úsuga criminal organization. The arrests should have a significant impact on the gang’s ability to traffic cocaine at sea, PNC officials said. Officers of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DIJIN) captured four members of the group, including the alleged ringleader, Alexander Giraldo Santa, who is also known as “The Engineer.” Police captured The Engineer in Cali. He’s alleged to be a major builder of semi-submersible boats which are used by drug trafficking organizations. The Engineer also owns a chain of car wash businesses in Cali and Bogota which he allegedly used to launder drug money, according to the Colombian National Police (PNC). During simultaneous operations in Buenaventura, Bogotá and Necoclí (Antioquia) police also captured three other alleged key members of the gang. The police announced the arrests July 31. Police identified the other three suspects as: Through international cooperation, security forces captured the three semi-submersible boats and seized 22 tons of cocaine. Such international cooperation is vital in the battle against sophisticated, international drug trafficking organizations, according to Rubén Sánchez, a security analyst at the University of Rosario in Colombia. “International cooperation is an important component in investigations against drug trafficking by organized crime groups. This cooperation allows authorities to dismantle important parts of drug trafficking organizations. Authorities are exchanging information on drug trafficking methods. Drug traffickers are very imaginative and the security forces are working to stay one step ahead of them.” “This criminal group has other methods to transport drugs – speedboats and planes. Drug trafficking organizations are always seeking new methods to transport drugs.” The Colombian National Police and Attorney General’s office are investigating whether the boat building ring’s assets are subject to forfeiture. Meanwhile, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has issued arrest warrants for the four men to be extradited to the U.S. to face drug smuggling charges. Police said the group built semi-submersible boats for the Clan de los Úsuga, a drug trafficking organization. The gang used wood and fiberglass to build the semi-submersible boats. The boats were powered by diesel engines. Each boat was capable of carrying four crew members and more than seven tons of cocaine. The gang allegedly built the semi-submersibles in secret locations in the forests of the department of Antioquia. Some people refer to these boats as “narco-submarines.” But unlike submarines, semi-submersible boats cannot travel completely underwater. The boats’ decks, superstructures and engine exhaust pipes are visible above the water when the boats are underway. Semi-submersibles generally range from 40 to 80 feet in length and can travel at a speed of up to 13 knots for up to 2,500 nautical miles without having to refuel. Drug trafficking groups have used semi-submersible boats since the early 1990s. When the gang finished building a boat, drug traffickers filled the vessel with cocaine and launched it from the Gulf of Uraba. Most of the boat crew members were Hondurans, who transported the drugs to transshipment points in the Caribbean. During its investigation of the boat-building group, Colombian National Police intelligence sources learned of the departures of three of the semi-submersibles during the past two years. By Dialogo September 17, 2014 Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this story. I liked the article because in Brazil nothing is reported about drug traffickers using submersibles. International cooperation crucial Authorities investigating the gang’s assets last_img read more

Exclusive: Our Long Ride Home with Ronald Bower, A Convicted Sex Offender Who Many Believe Is Innocent

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]K[/dropcap]risty Bower spotted her father from across the street and cried out.“That’s my dad! That’s my dad!”Before the car could completely stop, the 27-year-old bolted out the front passenger door and sprinted toward him, her makeup streaking from her eyes in a mix of teardrops and rain.Ronald Bower, 53, had just taken his first steps outside prison walls in more than 23 years. He dropped an enormous fishnet laundry bag containing all of his worldly possessions and tried his best to hustle toward her, too, though a pair of sneakers a size or so too small dismantled his stride, turning it into more of a restrained, awkward hobble.In the shadow of Clinton Correctional Facility’s brooding, 60-foot-high drab white concrete walls, surrounded by an intricately woven mesh of chain-link fences laced with spirals upon spirals of razor-sharp barbs, just after 8 a.m. on June 12, they embraced.It was a meeting Kristy had been dreaming about since she was a little girl.“I love you dad,” she wept.“I love you, Kristy,” he cried, patting her on the back and rubbing her shoulders as he held her. “I love you so much. Everything’s gonna be alright.”He kissed her on the side of her face.This is how Ronald Bower spent his first precious few moments as a “free” man—sobbing uncontrollably, wrapped in the arms of his eldest daughter, professing his love for her.The Long Island Press, which has been covering Ronald and his family’s plight for a decade, had exclusive access to this deeply emotional, long-sought reunion.Actually, we picked him up.The Queens father of two is a convicted Level 3 sex offender who an ever-growing number of law enforcement officials believe had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes for which he’s been serving an 18-to-54-year sentence because, for one significant reason, the pattern of sex attacks continued after his arrest and incarceration. He was released on parole following a letter to the Parole Board from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Assistant Attorney General and Conviction Review Bureau Chief Thomas Schellhammer, stating it “highly unlikely that Bower committed the crimes for which he was convicted.”In his first interview as a free man, Bower emphatically maintained his innocence, grieved for the victims, thanked supporters and praised his family. He recalled in vivid detail the specific dates and events which led to his near-quarter-century behind bars, the unimaginable anguish and horrors he somehow survived on the inside and the sheer torture of his loved ones, who, along with his longtime attorney Jeremy Goldberg, appeals bureau chief of the Nassau Legal Aid Society, and a slew of law enforcement officials, have been doing everything in their power to get him home and, ultimately, clear his name.Much of what he told the Press included the same horrific scenes he’s shared with us in countless letters and during several jailhouse interviews over the years, more so in the past three months: his arrest at his jobsite in 1991, a frantic call for help from a psychiatric hospital shortly afterward (sent there due to his inconsolable crying and quick descent into depression), the ominous foreboding that he would never see his mother, Margaret, who is in her 80s and disabled, alive again. Most of these nightmarish recollections and visions—and those which always cause him to erupt into the most emotional and dramatic outbursts—concern his two daughters: Kristy, who was just 4 years old when he was incarcerated, and Holly, who was just 2. He hasn’t seen his youngest in more than two decades and has yet to meet his two grandchildren.Those moments are forever seared into his consciousness, and he retreated to these terrors repeatedly throughout a roughly three-hour interview with us in a hotel room in nearby Plattsburgh, N.Y. immediately following his release and continued on the seven-hour drive home.Some of his other observations would sound comical if they weren’t born from such devastating tragedy: his astonishment and non-comprehension of cell phones (“Wow, everybody has those,” he remarked), motion-detectors, the price of a gallon of gasoline, and even “this little coffee shop called Starbuck, Starbucks or something like that, that everybody drinks now.“I feel like I’ve been dead for the past 23 years,” he told us as we eventually sped through familiar neighborhoods, passing old landmarks he recognized, such as the New York World’s Fair Unisphere, and new ones he’d only dreamed about, like Citi Field, the latest home of his beloved Mets. “And now I’m alive and everything’s changed.”Bower’s release came just in time for Father’s Day, and though his newfound “freedom” is cause for him and his family to rejoice, it’s a hollow, short-lived triumph, for in reality, he’s really just trading one set of shackles, forged of iron and steel, for another, made of ink.His status as a violent sexual predator with the highest and most restrictive risk-level assessment mandates a lifelong set of rules requiring him to jump through flaming hoops just to stay out of prison and carries a stigma that can never be erased but for full exoneration. Bower needs housing, counseling, a job, medical treatment.“I just got out of one prison,” he says sadly, “and into another.”Double Vision: (L) Former NYPD Officer Michael Perez and Ronald Bower. Police allowed Perez to change into a suit and tie for his mug shot, while demanding Bower put on a hooded sweatshirt that victims of sex attacks told police their assailant wore for his. (Long Island Press)Long and Winding Road[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ower was arrested mid-shift at his job at the Douglaston Mall, where he worked as a security guard, on May 10, 1991, just three days after his 30th birthday. Investigators of the Queens Sex Crimes Squad originally picked him up following a tip from his estranged ex-father-in-law in response to a sketch of a suspect wanted for accosting two teenagers on a rooftop in Corona. That incident was later discovered to have never taken place, the victims having recanted, according to court documents. Bower was forced to replace his security uniform with a hooded sweatshirt that victims of a series of sex attacks in Nassau and Queens in the vicinity of Union Turnpike between 1990 and 1991 had reported their assailant as wearing, and then he was paraded through more than a dozen police lineups.He was picked out for three such attacks—pattern crimes attributed to a perpetrator investigators dubbed “The Silver Gun Rapist,” who was responsible for possibly more than a dozen rapes and sodomies between 1990 and 1991 all involving the use of silver or black .38 revolvers. Bower was acquitted in one and convicted of two, in Queens and Nassau, on eyewitness testimony and that of a veteran criminal-turned-purported jailhouse informant, according to court papers.The perpetrator’s M.O. was to abduct and accost women, sometimes two at a time, while they were walking or getting into their vehicles, and threaten to kill them unless they gave him oral sex.Sometimes, he’d also rape them.Despite Bower’s arrest and incarceration, and unbeknownst to him or his attorneys at the time, the pattern sex attacks continued, and three months after Bower’s arrest, another man with similar facial features as Bower was arrested and charged for two similar crimes: a New York City police officer named Michael Perez. Bower’s lawyers filed unsuccessful motions to vacate his convictions based on alleged procedural violations by prosecutors.In one of those incidents, Perez was pulled over by police for driving the alleged victim’s car erratically and a loaded .38 was discovered under his seat, according to court documents, investigators and an Aug. 7, 1991 New York Times article titled “Police Say Officer Abducted and Raped Woman.”Perez was acquitted in both those cases at trial, yet a subsequent investigation discovered that he was off-duty at the time of all the pattern attacks, owned a car, lived nearby many of the crime scenes, is left-handed (which matched victims’ descriptions of their attacker), and owned nearly a dozen firearms—including silver and black .38 revolvers—according to court filings and investigators familiar with both cases.Following the jury trials, Perez was also placed under surveillance by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. Based on their probe, he was brought up on departmental charges for patronizing a prostitute and lying about the incident at a departmental hearing, according to court records.The woman he hired told police that Perez had paid her $14 for oral sex. Perez resigned from the force and avoided facing a trial over the charges, state the records.Despite Bower’s mandated wardrobe change, Perez was allowed to switch into a suit and tie for his mug shot when he was originally arrested, according to a former senior investigator at the New York State Inspector General’s Office of the state Department of Corrections, who was the first to unearth discrepancies with Bower’s convictions and begin to compile a wealth of evidence pointing to Perez.Bower did not own a weapon, or a car, and is right-handed, according to the investigator.A substantial list of veteran law enforcement officials have come to Ron’s defense throughout the years. Among them: current or former members of the New York State Inspector’s Office of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and even members of the very sex crimes unit that originally arrested him. They believe Michael Perez, not Ronald Bower, is responsible for the crimes for which he is convicted, and demand Bower’s exoneration.His parole, in fact, was possible in no small part due to the efforts of state Assistant Attorney General and Conviction Review Bureau Chief Thomas Schellhammer, who wrote a letter to the Parole Board at Clinton Correctional Facility on Dec. 30, 2013 calling for Bower’s immediate release, stating it “highly unlikely that Bower committed the crimes for which he was convicted.”Schellhammer also explained his reasoning for recommending Bower’s release in his letter, citing an extensive, ongoing investigation into his case that included speaking with investigators and witnesses associated with the crimes for which Bower was convicted in an attempt to reconstruct those events.“This position is based upon several factors,” writes Schellhammer, listing them in order: “a) His physical resemblance to another person who committed identical crimes at about the same time as these in question, some of which occurred after Bower was in custody; b) the possible mis-identification of Bower as the perpetrator of these crimes by the victims; c) the lack of a propensity or any other prior indicator that Bower was inclined to commit offenses of a sexual nature; and d) the probability that Bower had an alibi for the nights in question.”Schellhammer’s letter set off a political shitstorm that eventually resulted in his replacement.Both the offices of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who’s currently running for Congress, blasted Schellhammer’s boss, Schneiderman, alleging they were clueless about the probe and blindsided. The AG’s office “vigorously dispute[d]” that charge, according to the New York Law Journal, yet eventually caved. All three agencies—the attorney general’s office and the Nassau and Queens DA’s offices—asked the Parole Board to “re-examine” its decision on Bower’s release.Most recently, following an April discovery by the New York Post of an anti-Schneiderman Super PAC poised on spending millions to unseat the Democrat this November—and using Schellhammer’s support of Bower as a sledgehammer in that quest—the state’s top law enforcement official further backed away from Bower. His Chief Deputy Attorney General Harlan Levy formally withdrew Schellhammer’s statement of support. Last month, John Cahill, ex-Gov. George Pataki’s former chief of staff announced his run against Scheiderman.In other words, Bower has become a radioactive political football, punted from one side of the aisle to the other, potential fodder for partisan attacks and smear campaigns, whether he’s innocent or not.All this has not been completely lost on Bower, who for the last two months in prison spent much of his time consumed with anxiety over the possibility of his parole being revoked. Though, it’s hard to imagine him ever completely comprehending the sheer ferocity of the forces swirling around his predicament.At one moment on the ride home, Bower suggested that Schneiderman’s Republican opponents might even be open to looking into his case and helping him get exonerated.Kristy Bower sifts through dozens of cards that she mailed to her father Ronald during his 23 years in prison.Bower, a stocky, muscular man with a bald head who repeatedly mocks himself as resembling “Curly from the Three Stooges,” stands in the bizarre, unique position of having an independent team of top law enforcement officials calling for his exoneration for nearly two decades while the state, at the urging of the two county prosecutors who represent the jurisdictions where he was prosecuted—Richard Brown and Kathleen Rice—label him the worst of the worst.Breathing fast, his eyes red behind a pair of prison-issued glasses as we drove away from Clinton, nicknamed “New York’s Siberia” due to its remoteness just south of the Canadian border, the surrealism and severity of his reality combined in a cyclone of intense emotions, memories, grief, fear and joy.“Dad, you look good, you look good,” his daughter told him, wiping away tears from his left cheek as we drove off.“Oh it’s overwhelming,” Bower said after a deep breath, continuously blinking his bloodshot eyes and straining to hold back more tears. “It’s like my heart’s racing, I’m so happy to be with my oldest daughter Kristy. I’m so happy to be with you guys, I’m so happy to be out of that hellhole prison. I just want to get out now to be with my family, and be there for them and help out people.“My oldest daughter’s been there for me 100-percent and she loves me 100-percent like I love her 100-percent,” he continued. “And it’s just so hard because I’ve been taken away from my family since May 10, 1991, and I didn’t completely do anything to anyone, and now I’m finally going home to my family. And I’m afraid to go anywhere by myself because I’m afraid they’re going to try to set me up again or put me back in the system and that’s why I want to make sure I have somebody with me wherever I go, because I’m paranoid that they’re going to put me behind bars again for something I didn’t do.“And just to have people that love me and care for me, to come pick me up, it’s so wonderful.”[Recently released inmates who aren’t picked up are given $40 and put on a bus to Plattsburgh—something that nearly happened with Bower, despite prison officials’ knowledge that his daughter would be there.]He thanked his longtime attorney, Nassau Legal Aid Society Appeals Bureau Chief Jeremy Goldberg, as well as Goldberg’s late wife, Linda, whom Ronald was extremely close with, exchanging countless letters between each other throughout the years.“I thank you from the bottom of my heart, 100-percent, for helping me all these years to try to clear my name,” he said.“I love you Linda in heaven,” he cried, glancing up toward the sky, “I miss you so much.”He thanked Schellhammer—expressing grief over the fact the state official had lost his job trying to right the horrible wrong Bower says has been done—and the other law enforcement officials who’ve supported him through the years, too.Bower also grieved for the victims of the crimes for which he was charged and convicted.“I didn’t do anything to any of you,” he pleaded, Kristy’s hand clutching his. “I took a polygraph test from the world’s best polygraph test expert [Dick Arther], and I passed, and I’m willing to take as many polygraph tests, additional polygraph tests, to continue to convince you that I didn’t do anything to anybody.“I wanna get my name cleared so bad so these victims can know that I’m 100-percent innocent,” he continued. “And it’s just a tremendous nightmare. It’s horrible.“But now this is so wonderful, I never felt so much better in my life,” he added, his eyes welling up again. “I think the best I felt in my life was when my daughters was born and this, this, this is probably next. It’s great.”Kristy handed him a New York Mets baseball cap with the team’s mascot and told him he’d be going to a game for Father’s Day.He never made it due to panic attacks.Ronald Bower awkwardly holds an iPhone during the first conversation he has with his mother soon after his release. (Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)Scarlet Letter[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ur first stop was a hotel in Plattsburgh. He shuffled through the lobby as inconspicuously as possible while lugging his enormous mesh satchel containing two decades’ worth of correspondence, photos and holiday cards, along with a rigorous workout routine scrawled on a piece of cardboard, prison documents and several smelly T-shirts. When we got onto the elevator, Bower shared his fears that the handful of guests taking advantage of that morning’s complimentary continental breakfast knew he was a convict.It was a fear he’d vocalize many more times later on, following a me all at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel’s front desk, called The Hungry Bear Restaurant—“it’s shaped like a log cabin,” she smiled—and as we made our trek south down State Route 3, I-87 and the New York State Thruway, occasionally stopping at rest stations along the way.While Bower took a shower and changed into a black-and-white Beatles T-shirt (his favorite band), black workout pants and a new, aqua-blue-and-grey-fluorescent-orange laced pair of Pumas Kristy bought for him, she sat on the floor of the hotel room and sifted through the contents of his prison bag, separating them into piles.“These need to be burned,” she said, pinching the edges of several solid-colored T-shirts and amassing a pile near the bathroom door. “They stink like cigarette smoke.”Bower doesn’t smoke, but on several interviews with him inside he’d constantly complain that even though it’s not allowed inside prison, once the lights go out at night the entire facility fills with smoke, from inmates sneaking cigarettes into their cells. He explained again how he couldn’t vocalize this to prison management, because other inmates would find out who it was that ratted them out and seek retaliation.So, his lungs endured a constant flow of second-hand smoke for more than two decades.Rejoining us, Bower looked at the piles she’d made and somehow convinced her not to throw his shirts away, but to keep them so they could be washed and he could hold onto them for the “memories.”Then, his mind turned to his mother Margaret and his brother Steve, who despite her old age and myriad health issues, sent along commissary money each month. They also prayed, relentlessly, his mother always begging for the same simple wish: “Rescue Ronnie home.”For several minutes, he spoke with his mother for the first time on the phone as a free man.“I’m out of prison, I’m in a hotel, right, yeah, Ma,” he told her, holding his daughter’s iPhone with three fingers as if he was afraid of the device. “Yeah, it’s awesome. Kristy ran to me, she was crying happy tears, and I was crying happy tears. Kristy bought me a whole mess of clothes and new sneakers—you okay?“And I look like a teenager even though I don’t look like a teenager. I feel like I got a 50-pound plate,” he said, choking up, “when I seen my daughter Kristy running to dad, and how much she loves her dad, it’s just like the plate came off my chest.”He also called his ex-wife. Following a dispute she had with her husband a few days prior to Bower’s arrest, she had told her father about the sketch appearing in the local newspaper that resembled her husband. Her tip led to Bower’s ex-father-in-law relaying this information to a member of the Queens Sex Crimes Squad.Since then she’s filed an affidavit stating her belief in her ex-husband’s innocence and in a show of support attended one of two Sex Offender Registration Act hearings, in Nassau.Kristy, a former Marine (who told a judge at her father’s Nassau risk-level assessment hearing “once a Marine, always a Marine”), recounted the morning’s events.“I’ve been thinking about this day since I was a little girl,” she said. “My dad’s always been promising me, every other letter, that one day he’s going to come home, he’s going to make it to graduation, he’s going to be at my wedding, and today, I’m finally taking him home.“I seen him come right out, and I seen him walking and the other gentleman that escorted him, I just screamed, I’m like,’ That’s my dad! That’s my dad!’” she recalled. “And I jumped out and I ran right to my dad, he dropped his bag and it was an awesome feeling to not have to worry about a C.O. telling you you can’t hug too long, or no kisses on the cheek, or, stop what you’re doing. I always wanted this to happen and today’s the day, so I’m very happy. I’m happy that he’s home.“And next stop is exoneration,” she continued, nodding her head.“Yes,” said her father.“Next step is exoneration,” she repeated. “We’re not going to quit.”“Not being alone in this hotel room now, I feel like I just hit, I hit the Powerball,” explained Bower. “And, because you don’t need to be rich in the world to be rich, but richness comes from the people who care about you and who are there for you, and love and believe in you.“And I feel, I feel great,” he continued. “I can’t express the feeling, how I feel. The only one who knows the feeling I got is someone who’s been wrongly convicted, who just got released from prison. And, they know the feeling I’m going through right now. And when you get convicted for crimes you didn’t do, they look at you like you’re a monster and they treat you really bad, and, it’s terrible.“But, going back to the positive stuff, once I seen my oldest daughter, I said to myself, ‘God, I got the best daughter in the world. I got her right next to me.’ And she’s been there for me 100-percent. And she’s a Marine, she’s a Marine forever, and I love her,” he said, kissing her on the top of her head.“I love you too, dad,” replied Kristy.She sat back down on the floor and looked through the stacks of letters and cards she’d sent to her father throughout the decades.“This one is from Japan,” she said, flipping over a postcard adorned with a photo of Sesoko Bridge—connecting Motobu Peninsula, a part of mainland Okinawa, where she was stationed for part of her military deployment, and the island Sesoko:I’m back from Thailand. I’m doing good and I hope you get your Father’s Day card on time. I love you and miss you.See you soon, KristyThen another—a card with a grey baby cat in a pink dress holding flowers on its front:From daddy’s big girl,Hey dad I told you I’d send you pics, so here they are. I only hope this time next year you’ll be home. Please stay strong. We’re all waiting for your freedom. Here’s some answers to your ?’s about my favorites, favorite foods: Spanish food, Italian, Japanese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Pops. I don’t drink soda but I love Horchata Mexican rice pudding drink. I like photography and painting when I’m not in school.Gramms says hello.“When I got each card I read them over like 50 times,” said a tearful Bower. “Every time I got sad, I picked up one of the cards and I kept reading and reading.“The cards have so much sentimental value.”“Hungry Bear”[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ooking pale and somewhat paralyzed, Bower sat at a table against the back wall of the log cabin-shaped Hungry Bear Restaurant in Plattsburgh, a few minutes’ drive from the bevvy of restaurants and shops and bars lining Route 3.For his first official meal besides a hotel bagel with cream cheese, Bower chose the establishment’s signature dish, “The Hungry Bear”: two scrambled eggs with home fries, bacon, sausage, ham, tomato, onion, mushroom, green peppers, cheddar cheese, whole wheat toast, and a side order of onion rings.“I haven’t had an onion ring in over 25 years,” he whispered, biting into one. “The scrambled eggs they give you in prison aren’t really scrambled eggs; they’re made of powdered eggs.”He said he’d have to try hard not to say “chow-rec”—prison lingo for cafeteria and the yard—to wait staff before ordering future meals, something that’s instinctual now.Inhaling his Hungry Bear (which this reporter also enjoyed) in between chomps of onion rings, he offered the last of the latter to his daughter, which she declined, before polishing off his two platters of food.As we pulled out of the parking lot, he confessed that he had almost lost it in there, that it took all his might not to break down inside the restaurant, convinced that the waitress who took our order somehow knew that he was a convicted sex offender, as if he were wearing a scarlet letter announcing it.The wind picked up as we headed south and soon the sky opened up with a torrential downpour. The roads were slick and windshield was completely covered with waves of water hurled off speeding tractor trailers. Bower made his daughter buckle up, and he repeatedly locked all the doors within his reach.“Can I just ask a question?” he said in a soft, shaky voice. “Aren’t you supposed to drive slower when it’s bad out like this?”This almost childlike wonder and naivety permeated nearly every action and inquiry.Along the ride, and everywhere we stopped—a gas station, a Dunkin’ Donuts, a rest stop—he remarked on the prices of things he saw compared with what they cost when he’d gone away.At one rest stop, between the short walk from the car to its entrance he was compelled to ask a woman walking her Chihuahua if he could please pet it. She agreed and he did.When Bower didn’t return from the men’s room after several minutes, a Press reporter walked inside to find him standing in front of a sink, repeatedly tapping the side of its facet, frantically trying, in vain, to get it to work, since, he remarked, there were no knobs. A sudden unexplained rush of water while he used a motion-sensor urinal was also a cause of near-hysteria.When the same Press reporter voiced that he’d wished he’d brought his laptop so we could post a story up on the website about the day’s events while sitting down to brainstorm at a road stop Burger King, he implored:“What’s a laptop?”Then, a short time later he asked: “Is someone going to come and kick us out of here? Are you sure? Okay.”The Long Island Press has been covering Ronald Bower and his family’s plight for nearly a decade.Yet while Bower has a lot to learn about the technological advances that have elapsed since his imprisonment, it’s the mandates that will be dictating every moment of his life indefinitely, sans exoneration, that give him the most heartache.In prison he was able to refuse mandatory sex crimes programs due to his unwavering claims of innocence, which cost substantial points against him during two Sex Offender Registry Act hearings and eventually contributed to two judges branding him his high-risk sexual offender status. But, outside those walls Bower must adhere to a strict set of guidelines and requirements or risk a return to incarceration, something, he says more than once, he simply cannot survive.First up, his daughter discovered on one of his handouts, was a meeting with his parole officer within 24 hours of his release. Then, with another agency within two business days. Afterwards, once a week for the rest of his life, with a slew of other rules and special conditions.Neither of them own a vehicle, so Bower will be forced to learn to navigate the city’s bus and subway system, depending on where he’s got to go (despite never using a MetroCard; subway and bus tokens having been discontinued in 2003)—and face countless strangers along the way. It will undoubtedly take some time, and perhaps, anti-anxiety medication and counseling to overcome his fear that everyone knows his standing as a convict, but more troubling is his overwhelming terror that he will be picked up again and “framed” with some additional heinous crime, and thrown back in prison.On multiple occasions he was beaten within inches of his life while on the inside. Once corrections officers themselves slapped a sign on his cell reading: “RAPIST,” he said. Beneath his relief of being on the outside boils a severe, crippling paranoia that he will once again be “set up.”Bower is so terrified of this possibility, that he does not want to go anywhere without someone he knows—an impossibility, since his family members must hold down jobs to support themselves, and now, him, since his rap sheet, branding him as a sex offender and his lack of education (Bower doesn’t have a high school diploma) make job prospects bleak, to put it mildly.Yet one of his “Special Conditions” on his “Certificate of Release,” for example, stipulates: “I will seek, obtain and maintain employment and/or academic/vocational program.”Bower vows to do whatever he has to in order to comply, fueled by something that has helped keep Kristy and the rest of his family moving forward and kept him alive for the past 23 years: hope.Hope that the elected officials who hold the keys to his true freedom—District Attorneys Brown and Rice—will put the life of a wrongly accused and convicted man ahead of their political aspirations. Hope that one day the truth will be acknowledged. Hope that an innocent man will one day have his name cleared and the real person responsible for so many heinous crimes will be held accountable.Hope that after nearly a quarter-century, justice will prevail.His daughter has been his lifeblood.“Kristy’s support has been tremendous, because without my oldest daughter’s support, I don’t think that I would have made it,” he said, sitting beside his daughter back in the hotel room in Plattsburgh. “I had thought on many occasions in my cell, when I had got myself extremely depressed, I felt like ending my life. Because, being in prison, for something you didn’t do, especially for something you didn’t do, taken away from your family, thinking that you might spend the rest of your life in prison, it’s been so hard. It’s been so difficult. And I cried almost every day in my cell. I could be having an okay day in prison, I might just get my commissary, and then two hours later I’ll be in my cell crying, missing my family.“I just want to get my name cleared and I want to be there for my family and I just want to help out as many people as I possibly can and I just want to be there, I want to be the best dad to my children…”“You are,” she interjected.“…I want to be the best ex-husband to my wife, I want to be the best son to my mother, I want to be the best brother to my brother, and I want to be the best friend to all my friends.”“It’s been hard,” said Kristy. “It’s not as hard as him behind a cell, but just being there for my dad, like emotionally and just supporting him in any way I can.“I always knew that he was innocent,” she continued, her hand on his knee as her dad pats her on the back. “I always knew,” she said, turning to her father. “I always knew you were innocent. And we’d do anything we can to get him out, but it hasn’t been easy. But everything—this is one positive thing, and it’s just going to continue one positive after another, and until, until we have that day in court where…”“Oh, I can’t wait,” said Bower, shaking his head. “I can’t wait.”“Exoneration is it.”last_img read more