5 can’t-miss stories you got exclusively from us in March

You’re busy. We get it. That’s why we put together this list of stories you may have missed over the past month.

1. Our I-Team discovered that 82 percent of the preliminary applications for H-1B temporary work visas in Ohio last year were for jobs paying below-average wages. Some of them had intern-level pay. Experts say that is a strong indication that companies are exploiting the federal program that allows for the of hiring of foreign nationals into skilled tech jobs for which local labor is not easily found. The U.S. Senate recently held hearings on the controversial practice.

2. The average processing claim for Social Security is about a year and a half and about 40,000 Ohioans are stuck in the federal government’s biggest traffic jam. Some will die before their cases are heard. Others will lose their homes and families. Some people who worked their whole life but were unfortunate enough to become injured or ill are rendered helpless before a system that seems to say no and then ask questions afterward — sometimes long afterward. As one of those waiting told us: “Some days I just sit here and cry because I don’t know what to do.”

3. Defense contractors across the country and in this area face hundreds and sometimes even thousands of cyber intrusions on their computer networks. They come from throughout the world, including from China, Russia and North Korea, and many are traced to the governments in those countries. “Foreign countries are the No. 1 threat to the contracting community,” a cyber detection instructor told us. To see how this cyber war is being fought, we talked to local defense contractors and toured the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center in Beavercreek.

4. Our public payroll project examined who the big earners are in local and state government, and why so many more employees in governments such as Kettering, Oakwood and Washington Twp. pulled in $100,000 last year. Four employees of the Greene County Board of Developmental Disabilities took in a total of $485,761. You can look yourself at who makes what in these taxpayer-funded jobs. We compiled 177,000 salary records from local governments big and small and assembled them into an easy-to-use searchable database.

5. One of the big stories in March was the Ohio primary and we blanketed the state with coverage of both the Democratic and the Republican primaries. Donald Trump came to town and a local man was arrested at his rally at the Dayton airport. Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich put a national spotlight on the Fuyao auto glass factory in Moraine when he held a town hall event there.

But through the month we did more than listen to what the candidates had to say. We also talked to voters, packaging their concerns into an open letter to the candidates that we published on the weekend before the primary. We wanted them to hear not from hand-picked audience members at staged political events, but from people who are angry and worried about the direction of the country and about the ongoing political discourse in the campaign. As one told us: “Never has the country been so divided and I worry about our future.”

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