Archive for the ‘ombudsman’ Category

Ombuds News Round Up

December 30, 2009

PBS Ombudsman Agrees NewsHour Slighted ‘Fascinating’ Climategate E-Mails

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with conservative letter-writers that the NewsHour covered Climategate “lightly and well after the fact,” even though he expressed the standard liberal belief that the “overwhelming” evidence is on the man-made dramatic warming side, and there’s a “danger of establishing false equivalence” — in other words, the liberals have more truth on their side.

But in a letter solicited from Getler, NewsHour senior producer Murrey Jacobson refused to admit any imbalance…

Read more [here]

Judge names Houston attorney to monitor company
DALLAS — A Houston lawyer will serve as a court-appointed ombudsman to monitor a venerable Texas company that has been cited for discriminating against black employees….

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tim Garrigan of Nacogdoches, said the appointment of an ombudsman is significant.
“These remedial orders have been a long time in coming,” Garrigan said, “but we’re hopeful they will make Lufkin a better place to work.”

Has anyone ever heard of a judge appointing an ombuds to a company before? Read the article [here]

ESPN Ombudsman Comments On Tiger Woods Coverage
News judgments are incredibly difficult when dealing with a situation such as the Woods melodrama. Do too little, and ESPN is accused of covering up. Do too much, and it’s perceived to be character assassination. ESPN’s handling of Woods on “SportsCenter” and other news and opinion programs can be debated, but it appeared the network tried to walk the line between satisfying the audience’s inquisitiveness about the self-destruction of arguably the world’s most famous athlete and trying to avoid the trap of sensationalism. There were exceptions, but in general the network covered problematic subject matter seriously, avoided rampant speculation and provided context.

…Some of ESPN’s coverage decisions — such as playing the 911 call about Woods’ mother-in-law fainting, using a quote on The Bottom Line from one of Woods’ neighbors that left the impression the golfer was drunk, and relying on the National Enquirer and TMZ as sources — should raise eyebrows.

Read the full article [here] (note, I added the bold).

Colbert to serve as Olympic oval ‘ombudsman’
Stephen Colbert announced Thursday he’ll travel to Richmond to accept the city’s offer to become the official Richmond Olympic Oval ombudsman during the 2010 Winter Games.
“I have no idea what an ombudsman is, but as long as it requires no effort from me, I proudly accept,” Colbert told his TV viewers.

Colbert, host of the Colbert Report…

Read more [here]

Ombudsman critical of handling of drug evidence
The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled a highly critical report about the handling of drug exhibits at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

…The report, tabled in State Parliament today has found that mismanagement and a lack of accountability create an environment in which corruption may go unnoticed.
The report says for the last 15 years, there has been no full independent audit of drug holdings at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

Read more [here]
UN Security Council Creates Ombudsman Office
I wrote earlier this week on this topic, read the post [here].

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UN To Create Security Council Ombudsman & New Mediation Division Launched

December 28, 2009

UN To Create Ombudsman For Security Council & New Mediation Division

Recently the United Nation’s Security Council announced it will created an Ombudsman Office. This position is being created specifically in response to concerns over its own No Fly List.

According to the CBC, “The Security Council’s unanimous decision to appoint an ombudsman is aimed at ensuring that UN sanctions target the right people, companies and organizations for links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Creation of the Ombudsman Office was passed unanimously by the Council and the position will initially be created for 18 months to assist the sanctions committee to review the procedures regarding delisting individuals on the list.

Further information from the article explains how the Ombuds will be chosen, “The ombudsman will be appointed by the UN Secretary General, and will be someone who should be “an eminent individual of high moral character, impartiality and integrity with high qualifications and experience in relevant fields, such as legal, human rights, counter-terrorism and sanctions”, a UN release stated.”

The United Nations currently has an Ombudsman Office which serves the employees of the UN. You can read more about that office, and John Barkat, the current ombudsman, [here].

Note, their site is newly re-designed and you will notice the UN has created a new Mediation Division with the Ombudsman Office. The office was created in August 2009 as per the passing of General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/228. You can read more about the new Mediation Division and its services [here].

Read the full CBC article [here].

Ombudsman Indicted

December 3, 2009

Texas Youth Commission ombudsman indicted, accused of trying to slip in contraband

AUSTIN – A felony indictment against the newly appointed Texas Youth Commission ombudsman was unsealed Monday, accusing her of possessing a prohibited item in a prison facility.

Catherine Evans, who was a
Republican district judge in Dallas County until stepping down in 1994, is accused of trying to smuggle contraband – including a knife, a cellphone and prescription drugs – past security officials and into a TYC facility in Crockett, in East Texas.

Houston County District Attorney Donna Kasper confirmed the indictment against Evans, who was appointed by Gov.
Rick Perry in September to investigate complaints and problems involving juveniles who are held at state youth lockups.

Aides to the governor said Evans agreed to resign.

“The office of the ombudsman is an important position for the agency and the youth, and it is clear that Catherine Evans’ bad judgment and the indictment have hampered her credibility and effectiveness in this role,” Perry press secretary Allison Castle said.
[Read More]

Guest Blogger: D.A. Graham, Princeton Ombudsman

September 23, 2009

Please enjoy the following submission as the first installment of the 2009 Guest Blogger series. D.A. Graham is the ombudsman from Princeton University and you can read more about him [here].

Enjoy!

Human Needs Theory meets Conflict Resolution Theory

“Conflict avoidance is not conflict resolution.”- John Burton
Human Needs Theory (HNT) was developed in the 1970s and 1980s as a generic or holistic theory of human behavior. It is based on the hypothesis that humans have basic needs that have to be met in order to maintain stable institutions (societies, organizations, etc). As John Burton describes:
“We believe that the human participants in conflict situations are compulsively struggling in their respective institutional environments at all social levels to satisfy primordial and universal needs – needs such as security, identity, recognition, and development. They strive increasingly to gain the control of their environment that is necessary to ensure the satisfaction of these needs. This struggle cannot be curbed; it is primordial.”[1]

Now we know that there are fundamental universal values or human needs that must be met if institutions are to be stable. That this is so thereby provides a non-ideological basis for the establishment of policies. Unless identity needs are met, unless in every social system there is distributive justice, a sense of control and prospects for the pursuit of all other human societal developmental needs, instability and conflict are inevitable.

If the hypotheses of this theory are correct, if there are certain human needs that are required for human development and social stability, than the solution to conflict must be the ability to create an environment in which these needs can be met. This is where Human Needs theory meets Burton’s Conflict Resolution Theory (CRT).
Professor Burton distinguishes between conflict resolution, management and settlement. Management is ‘by alternative dispute resolution skills’ and can confine or limit conflict; settlement is ‘by authoritative and legal processes’ and can be imposed by elites.[2]. Burton suggests by contrast:

“. . . conflict resolution means terminating conflict by methods that are analytical and that get to the root of the problem. Conflict resolution, as opposed to mere management or ‘settlement’, points to an outcome that, in the view of the parties involved, is a permanent solution to a problem.” [3]
By accepting the assumptions and hypotheses of the Human Needs Theory, Burton suggests that there is a need for a paradigm shift away from power politics and towards the ‘reality of individual power’. In other words, individuals, as members of their identity groups, will strive for their needs within their environment. If they are prevented from this pursuit by other identity groups, institutions and other forms of authority, there will inevitably be conflict. The only solution is for the groups to work out their problems in an analytical way, supported by third parties who act as facilitators and not authorities. This is particularly relevant when the conflict is over needs which cannot be bargained and not material interests, which can be negotiated and compromised.

If the participants in the conflict can begin to recognize their conflict as a breakdown of relationships, and that there are fundamental similarities between the antagonists, then the process of abstraction will enhance their objectivity.

The purpose of this process is to enable the participants to come to the understanding that all the participants have legitimate needs that must be satisfied in order to resolve the conflict. The other key here is to develop an analytical process to facilitate the changes required to create a system in which these needs can be met. Burton notes:

“Conflict resolution is, in the long term, a process of change (…). It is an analytical and problem solving process that takes into account such individual and group needs as identity and recognition, as well as institutional changes that are required to satisfy these needs.”[4]
John Burton, ‘Political Realities’ in Volkan, 1991, p. 20.

________________________________________________

[1] John Burton, ‘Conflict Resolution as a Political System’ in Vamik Volkan, et al (eds.), The Psychodynamics of International Relationships: Volume II: Unofficial Diplomacy at Work. Lexington, MA, Lexington Books, 1991, p. 82-3.
[2] John Burton, ‘Conflict Resolution as a Political System’, in Volkan, 1991, op. cit., p. 81
[3] Ibid., p. 73.
[4] John Burton, ‘Political Realities’ in Volkan, 1991, p. 20.

Ombudsman Releases Workplace Guide

September 2, 2009

The Fair Work (Australia, www.FairWork.com.au) Ombudsman recently released a series of guides to best practices for improving workplace relations. [from the media release here]

Below, you will find a brief outline what the guide offers. Some very good stuff there that can help all ADR professionals- not just Ombudsmen.

Executive Director Michael Campbell says the guides will particularly benefit employers with limited workplace relations or human resource management experience.

“With this latest initiative, we have sought to explain in simple language the concepts of best practice in key areas which can promote harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces,” Mr Campbell said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Practice Guides cover the following topics:

1. Work & Family
Fostering a culture of workplace flexibility for family responsibilities can help to achieve a more productive work environment. From reduced absenteeism to improved job satisfaction, there are significant benefits for employees and employers in achieving a work and family balance.

2. Consultation & Co-operation in the Workplace
Best practice workplace consultation involves developing and implementing effective consultation mechanisms which encourage cooperation and the engagement of employees and management across the workplace. Employee involvement in decision-making regularly leads to benefits such as increased productivity and greater collaboration.
3. Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs)
Flexible work practices can deliver benefits to both employers and employees. Individual flexibility arrangements can lead to greater job satisfaction and help attract and retain skilled and valuable staff. Flexibility in the workplace can also improve workplace productivity and efficiency by helping maintain a motivated workforce with reduced staff turnover and absenteeism.
4. A Guide for Young Workers
It can be an exciting time for a young person when they get their first job. Knowing and understanding their workplace obligations and entitlements can assist young workers navigate their way through the employment process.
5. An employer’s guide to employing young workers
Young workers can bring enthusiasm and new skills to a workplace. They can also become loyal and valuable employees. Best practice employers understand their obligations to young workers and recognise that their guidance and support can shape young employees’ futures and their attitudes to work.
6. Gender Pay Equity Gender
Pay equity is about ensuring that both women and men are paid fairly for the work they perform. Gender pay equity makes good business sense because it fosters fairness and respect, which helps to create a motivated and harmonious workforce.
7. Small Business
The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out a number of requirements that business, including small business, needs to be aware of. Best practice employers know and understand their rights and obligations under workplace law and know who to contact for assistance.

8. Workplace Privacy
Operating at best practice when it comes to workplace privacy creates trust, certainty and security for both employers and employees. Employers, employees and their representatives need to know what information may be collected and retained by employers and whether it can be passed on to others.
9. Managing Underperformance
Establishing effective performance management systems can have significant benefits for a business, leading to happier, more motivated and better performing employees. Reviewing, refining and implementing performance management systems are ways of helping achieve these benefits.

10. Effective Dispute Resolution
Disputes can arise in any workplace. A dispute exists when one or more people disagree about something and matters remain unresolved. A fair and balanced dispute resolution process is important for the effective operation of any business.
11. Improving Workplace Productivity in Bargaining Enterprise
Bargaining is a way of fostering a culture of change in the workplace and is a valuable tool in the process of continuous improvement. It can assist in the creation of responsive and flexible enterprises and help to improve productivity and efficiency.

Read the Best Practice Guides documents [here].
Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman page [here].
Read About the Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson [here].

News

June 13, 2009

More on the DRC-NY Listserv
For those of you wondering what’s the latest with the current situation regarding the DRC-NY Listserv, this Monday I will be posting my proposal on how to possible find the ‘win-win’ situation as well as on Tuesday will be another recap of the situation. You can read the original post [here].

New Era For Mediation
THE chairman of Sale Sharks[professional UK Rugby team] has been recruited to a high-profile national panel of senior lawyers and accountants to provide a new level of corporate mediation.Quentin Smith, who has been an independent mediator since leaving law firm Addleshaw Goddard two years ago, is the only northern representative on the panel, which is headed by Lord Woolf and Cherie Booth QC.
The new body is a collaboration between the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the mediators’ professional body the Alternative Dispute Resolution Group (ADR). It will focus on issues such as contracts, intellectual property rights and lending agreements.
Full article [here]

Role For An Ombudsman?
This is not an article but rather a reflection by me. Given the recent more-than-usual craziness in the New York State Senate, would it have help, or even currently help, if there was an Ombudsman for the Senate? Could he/she been able to release a report on findings regarding the situation? Even if one was released weeks from now, would it be beneficial? The Ombuds could also serve as a confidential mediator in this situation as well. Thoughts?

Have Mediation Skills, Will Travel
10 June 2009 – The United Nations special on-call mediation team has helped respond to sticky problems all over the globe in their first year – and should do more, according to a top official at the world body.
Full article [here]

‘Special Master’ Feinberg to Take on Bankers
June 11 (Bloomberg) — Kenneth R. Feinberg, who mediated disputes over compensation for damages from the Sept. 11 attacks and Agent Orange, must now separate bankers from their paychecks.
Feinberg, named yesterday as the Obama administration’s “special master” on executive pay, will have authority to regulate compensation for 175 executives at seven companies that received “exceptional” government help.

“I’m not a czar who is going to impose my will,” Feinberg, an opera fan, said while listening to Verdi’s “Nabucco” in his law office. “My mandate is to help determine compensation levels for the 175 people. I will consult with them and work with them.”
Read more [here]

Freedom of Information Office Appoints First Ombudsman
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives appointed a veteran open government advocate Wednesday to be the first Freedom of Information Act ombudsman, empowered to mediate disputes between people who request data and the agencies that have it.
Miriam Nisbet, who now heads the information society division of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, was chosen to direct the Archives’ new Office of Government Information Services, acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas announced.

More [here]


Irish Minister To Launch Elder Mediation Program
A NEW mediation service dealing with problems of families and carers with family members suffering from dementia and similar diseases will be launched this week by Áine Brady, Minister of State for Older People.
The service is a pilot project involving collaboration between the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Northside Community Law Foundation. Its launch coincides with an international symposium on elderly mediation which starts today in the Stillorgan Park Hotel, Dublin.

Full article [here]

Mediation Helps, Even in Jail!
Sally Garnett is hardly a cheerleader for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. After all, prosecutors threw the book at her recently for “lifting” her housemate’s jewelry, she says, landing her in jail for three months.
…After prepaying $63.60 for phone service from inside the jail, Garnett says the company she contracted with didn’t deliver a single call. Prepaying relieves family and friends of the cost of a collect call from jail — the only kind inmates are allowed to make.
Instead of busting her, this time the district attorney’s office was ready to lend her a hand with its busy but little-known Consumer Protection Unit. Its members not only fight big fraud cases in court, but also attempt to resolve consumer disputes — like Garnett’s — through free mediation.
No case is too small for the six volunteers and three paid mediators…

Full article [here]

News For 5.11.09

May 11, 2009

Panel recommends Harvard ombudsman to bridge police, campus ‘schism’
An independent committee recommended today that Harvard University create a public-safety ombudsman and take other steps to mend the at-times rocky relationship between the campus police force and the diverse community it patrols.
The committee, appointed by Harvard President Drew Faust in August after some black students and staff complained of racial profiling by the predominantly white police force, said in an 81-page report that more work needs to be done to create a welcoming, safe, and open environment for the Harvard community.
Full article [
here]

Government Considers Option for Civil Dispute Resolution
NSW, Australia- The New South Wales Government wants to make it easier to resolve civil neighbourhood disputes over issues like fences and noise.
Attorney-General John Hatzistergos says only a small number of civil disputes are decided by a judge, but people still spend a lot of time and money preparing for court.
He has released a discussion paper on the issue which suggests alternatives to resolving civil disputes, including free legal advice and mediation.
Submissions on the discussion paper close at the end of the month.
Note, this is the entire article, the link is [
here]

Program Readies Inmates ‘Reunions’
HAGERSTOWN, Md. A unique program geared to preparing prison inmates to reunite with their families and loved ones upon release has spread to Washington County.
Following models already in place at prisons in Baltimore and Jessup, Md., the Washington County Community Mediation Center started arranging “re-entry mediation” sessions for inmates at Maryland Correctional Training Center, a medium-security men’s prison south of Hagerstown, said Valerie Main, executive director of the Washington County center.
Full Article [here]

Voters Turn Down Mediator
ESSEX — Before humans first stepped onto windswept Conomo Point, it served as a natural divider between Essex Bay and Essex River; since the town of Essex took control of the land, it has had a similar effect on its residents.
Voters at Monday night’s annual Town Meeting were divided in ways other than numbers — 73 opposed, and 59 in favor — when asked if selectmen, along with the tenants of Conomo Point, should retain the services of a mediator to discuss the future of town-owned land north of Robbins Island Road.
Full article [here]

Mediators In Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

NICOSIA, May 6 (Xinhua) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called for a reinforced role for the Quartet in reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on a two-state basis.
In a message sent to an international meeting in support of Israeli-Palestinian peace held in Nicosia, the U.N. chief emphasized that the Quartet, which includes the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the U.N., remains, are firmly committed to the goal of a two-state solution.
…Tony Blair, the Quartet’s current special envoy, has said that the mediators will adopt a new strategic plan, while the U.S. President Barack Obama pushing for the establishment of a Palestinian state, has he met his Israeli counterpart Simon Peres in Washington.
Full article [
here]