- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, April 21

It’s unfortunate that nearly one-third of the 75 cab drivers employed by companies under contract to provide taxi service at city-owned Cleveland Hopkins International Airport walked off the job recently rather than drive vehicles that advertise the upcoming Gay Games in Greater Cleveland.

But the incident underscores how critical it is as the Games approach to do more education and outreach about this sporting event, which is open to all athletes, gay and straight, who are over the age of 18.

The taxi drivers who quit are Muslim and cited religious reasons for not wanting to drive cabs promoting the Games, airport spokeswoman Jacqueline Mayo said. It’s certainly their prerogative to do so. But Cleveland, and Akron, where many of the events will be held, need and want to show a friendly face…

The Gay Games send an important message of tolerance and inclusion and have been heartily endorsed by area cities and counties…

When the Games were created, part of the motivation was to give gay athletes a place to compete openly and comfortably, unlike, say, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, where Russia’s anti-gay laws cast a pall over the event.

The eyes of the world will be on Cleveland for the Gay Games and it is imperative that we make everyone feel welcome. To do otherwise would be a grave injustice to the participants and ourselves and would paint the city in a light that would be counterproductive to all the positive changes that have occurred.

Online: https://bit.ly/1r82PeW


Warren Tribune Chronicle, April 21

Sad to say, but a search of the word “heroin” on our newspaper’s website will bring up pages of headlines.

Most of them are police reports and court cases, but an encouraging sign lately is community meetings bringing together citizens, police, clergy, counselors, social service workers and more, all recognizing that the problem isn’t solved by jail terms alone.

We’re not saying the dealers and the suppliers should go away without consequence. We’re saying treatment and counseling can do more to save lives and cut the market for cheap heroin, which has exploded….

The problem is fueled by many factors, from a lack of hope among the young to the inadvertent addiction faced by those who are handed prescription opiates after injuries or surgeries.

What must happen is not decriminalization of the drug but the decriminalization of reporting overdoses by users, the reaching out and getting those who survive overdoses into long-term treatment and the recognition among young people that one hit is never enough with these kinds of drugs.

Meanwhile, the federal government has approved yet another new opiate over the recommendations of an FDA committee….

The explosion of drug abuse seems to have happened overnight, though it has taken years for the conditions to deteriorate to where they are now. It’s not just a local problem, but it has to be tackled one addict, one family, one street, one school at a time.

And that takes awareness, which brings us back to commending those holding community discussions. Please keep them coming.

Online: https://bit.ly/1reU40Y


The Columbus Dispatch, April 21

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine took on a long-simmering problem when he launched an initiative in late 2011 to get police departments around the state to send in sexual-assault kits for DNA testing.

A proposal in the legislature would take that initiative a step further, formally requiring police to submit kits for testing within a year to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation or another crime lab.

The drafters of Senate Bill 316, introduced late last month by state Sen. Capri Cafaro, D-Hubbard, worked with DeWine’s office to estimate the impact on the bureau of receiving more rape kits. The lab has been overwhelmed with work at times, and it could be counterproductive to create a mandate that causes greater delays and burdens without proper planning.

Also yet to be determined is how police departments that don’t comply might be penalized. A Cafaro aide said they intentionally left penalties out of the bill when it was introduced, and continue working with law enforcement to determine reasonable and effective incentives that will achieve the ultimate goal, which is the timely investigation and prosecution of sexual-assault crimes….

Lawmakers should continue working with law-enforcement officials and DeWine’s office to strike this balance and craft legislation that can help more victims and their loved ones see justice done. Several states, including Texas, Colorado and Illinois, already have passed similar bills, and more than a dozen others are working on such legislation….

The legal process is long and traumatic enough for victims without the feeling of futility that can come from a years-long holdup on DNA testing.

Online: https://bit.ly/Qrw4fU


The (Findlay) Courier, April 17

One way or the other, Congress must plug a $20 billion hole in the Highway Trust Fund before it dries up.

The fund is the primary source of money for the nation’s major highway construction projects, including several in Ohio.

The Interstate 75 widening project, for example, has been approved and is to start this year. But construction could be delayed if the trust fund goes bankrupt in August, as some are predicting.

The fund has been kept afloat with the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal tax on gasoline, but construction expenses have been outpacing receipts as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and people drive less due to rising fuel prices. Lawmakers must find an extra $100 billion to cover federal highway costs over the next six years, in addition to the approximately $34 billion per year brought in by the gas tax….

The easiest fix would be to increase the gas tax, which hasn’t been changed since 1993. Both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Trucking Association, among others, support the idea, and House Democrats have introduced a bill to gradually increase it to 33 cents per gallon. But Republicans are opposed to raising the tax, and it appears it has little chance of passage, especially in an election year….

The most likely scenario will be for lawmakers to transfer money from other areas of the federal budget, like they did in 2012 to make up for a shortage….

Election year or not, Congress must find a way to keep that from happening.

Online: https://bit.ly/1h4KPiD

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