- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

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

The Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 6

A state legislator’s proposal to require toy guns to be brightly colored or marked with fluorescent strips might make Ohioans feel as if they are “doing something.”

But this law would not change the dilemma facing police officers. Unless they can ascertain whether a gun is a toy, they have to proceed as if it is real.

Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, recently announced that she will propose legislation requiring all BB guns, air rifles and airsoft guns sold in Ohio to be distinctively colored or marked. She is responding to the deaths of a Cleveland boy and a Dayton-area man, each shot by police responding to 911 calls. …

Passing Reece’s bill won’t prevent further tragedies, as New York City found after it passed a similar law in 1999 that required toy guns to be brightly colored, entirely transparent or translucent.

A 2003 New York City Council report noted that toy guns without the mandated look still could be purchased. And, in the prior four years, police officers had fired at 12 people whose toy gun looked like a real firearm. …

“The people who are intending to do bad things have figured out that if you have an orange tip on a gun, the police hesitate,” Ken Hanson, legislative chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, told Gongwer Ohio news service.

A little paint can make a firearm bright orange, or blacken a fake gun to look real.

Reece’s proposal is well- intentioned, but it wouldn’t accomplish what she intends.




The (Findlay) Courier, Dec. 8,

Bipartisanship is a concept that has not been associated with Ohio’s redistricting process for decades, if not longer.

But there was a hint of cooperation last week when lawmakers not only discussed a redistricting reform bill, but voted on one, and most Republicans and Democrats in the House liked it.

The fact that redistricting is even on the table now, at a time when Republicans could easily push it aside until a much later date, is an encouraging development.

Voters shouldn’t hold their breath, but there’s at least a sense that lawmakers may be finally getting serious about reform.

The current system of drawing legislative and congressional districts allows the majority party to draw districts to its benefit. That has created a partisan and dysfunctional government, and has contributed, in part, to voter apathy.

While redistricting has been on the legislative agenda a lot lately, it seems the latest conversations have generated hope that a compromise can be struck.

Even though Republicans are firmly in control of state government, it would behoove them to approve a fairer system. One day, after all, they may not hold the power as they do now and map-making would be in the hands of Democrats.




The Vindicator, Dec. 8

Seventeen years after the Ohio Supreme Court, in its landmark DeRolph v. State ruling, proclaimed that the Buckeye State “fails to provide for a thorough and efficient system” of educating its students, evidence continues to mount to support the premise that all public schools in Ohio are not created equal.

New illuminating data substantiates the court’s conclusion that Ohio’s system of funding schools largely through local property taxes is unconstitutional. It comes from an analysis of school curriculum data of all public districts by the state Department of Education.

The analysis concluded that rural districts average fewer than 6.5 high-level courses such as advanced math, specialized language-arts courses and nontraditional foreign languages. In contrast, suburban districts average 26 high-level courses, based on ODE curriculum data. ..

Of course, the researchers’ conclusions merely document with empirical evidence what most already clearly knew: Where a child attends school will in some ways determine the quantity and quality of his or her education.

That data, released last month, complements other studies that highlight inequities in Ohio’s public school systems. …

As this evidence collectively reinforces, students from middle- and upper-income families living in communities with strong local tax support will have greater built-in opportunities at achieving academic success. Such inequity is clearly not the picture of the “thorough and efficient” education system for all students envisioned by the framers of the state Constitution.




The Lima News, Dec. 6

Rob Portman keeps proving he understands how Washington works better than most people.

Ohio’s junior senator announced Tuesday he wouldn’t make a run for president, but he would run for another term as one of Ohio’s two U.S. senators. Some people looked at Portman as a possible contender, given his real understanding of the federal budget, his affable personality and his middle-of-the-road opinions that could pull the Republican party back from the far right.

After all, how many Republicans are willing to do the about-face that Portman did on gay rights, after announcing in 2013 his son, Will, was gay and opened his eyes. This certainly isn’t your father’s Republican.

Portman, a former congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush, could have parlayed all that into a formidable run for president. He doesn’t have the name recognition of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But given the negative attention those Republican candidates attract from undecided voters, that might have been a good thing.

Instead of fighting for higher office to control the country after 2016, Portman saw the real opportunity the next two years offered. With the Republicans winning control of both the House and the Senate, there’s real possibilities for cooperation between those two branches of government. Portman has the opportunity to lead the way. …

Would Portman have made a good candidate for president? Probably. He offered a lot of knowledge and substance to the campaign.

Does he make a good leader in the Senate? Absolutely. He can take those skills and beliefs, using them immediately. We hope he can use his middle-of-the-road beliefs to teach both chambers that compromise isn’t a dirty word, as long as it’s part of progress.



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