- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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

The Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 9

When he becomes president later this month, does Donald Trump plan to spend most of his timing reviewing and overruling the decisions of every major business in the country?

It seems that way. On Tuesday, (Jan. 3,) he threatened to slap an import tax on every Mexican-made Chevy Cruze that General Motors brings into the United States. Never mind that the vast majority of that car are built right here in Ohio. …

(W)hat if Japan adopted Trump’s mercantilist viewpoint and demanded that all Hondas and Toyotas be built in Japan with parts made in Japan? If that happened, 9,200 Ohioans employed at Honda’s facilities in Marysville, East Liberty and Anna would lose their jobs. So would thousands more at Honda facilities elsewhere in the U.S. Ditto for all the Americans employed at U.S. plants producing cars by BMW, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen, if those manufacturers were ordered to pull back to their home countries. Throw into the total the tens of thousands of Americans who make and supply parts and services to all those plants.

These international relationships are complex and constantly evolving to maximize efficiency, quality and innovation. And Trump thinks he will improve things by blundering into the middle of it wielding tweets and tariffs. He won’t.

Online:

https://bit.ly/2jrMXWo

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(Warren) Tribune Chronicle, Jan. 8

No elected official should be able to take advantage of taxpayers who pay his or her salary by retiring, collecting a publicly paid pension and then receiving compensation for continuing to serve as an elected official.

The Tribune Chronicle has often argued against the practice commonly referred to as “double-dipping.” The practice is disturbing when it involves any public employee, but when it comes to our elected officials, it is just simply wrong.

Recently re-elected Trumbull County engineer Randy Smith acknowledged that he would officially “retire” the day his last term expired, and then begin his new term under the retire-rehire clause this week. Smith had not bothered to tell voters of his plans to take advantage of this little perk that state law makes available to public employees. When asked about it, Smith simply said, “It was the right time.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if age 50 were the right time for all of us to retire? …

He is paid $109,378 a year - a $10,000 per year increase over what he made during his last term in office. And that’s not including his pension. …

And who wouldn’t want to receive two paychecks for doing the same job? If state law allows collecting a public pension and a publicly funded salary at the same time, why not do it?

But the long-term effects could be devastating, and the law has to change.

When these workers begin collecting from the state pension program, they stop paying into it, which some analysts say could result in the public retirement system being depleted inefficiently. And as more and more public employees choose to take advantage of this option, it could end up being the taxpayers who are forced to fund these pension plans in the long run.

In just Trumbull County alone, several elected officials have retired before their re-elections, including outgoing Sheriff Thomas Altiere, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, county Commissioner Dan Polivka and Family Court Judge Pam Rintala.

Others attempted to take advantage of the program, but were defeated in their re-election bids.

The retire-rehire loophole comes at the taxpayers’ expense and should be eliminated.

And until that happens, elected officials should do the right thing and simply wait until they retire to begin collecting a pension.

Online:

https://bit.ly/2jrRRme

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Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 7

This past summer, when state lawmakers passed a fast-track foreclosure bill, practically no one expected vacant homes sold at public auction to go for as little as $1, but it happened in Akron last month. A home on Larkin Avenue was snapped up by the same lender that had initiated foreclosure and eviction proceedings. It was the first $1 sale in Summit County under the new law.

The law allows vacant homes to be sold at a sheriff’s sale for less than two-thirds of their appraised value. More, it shortened the time vacant or abandoned properties are tied up in foreclosure from two years or three years to as few as six months. …

The sponsor, state Rep. Jonathan Dever, a Cincinnati-area Republican, gathered support from all sides before moving ahead - a refreshing contrast to other legislation rammed through by majority Republicans in the recent lame-duck session.

The need is to keep a close eye on how the fast-track foreclosure process is working, guarding against negative consequences such as the depression of home values and flipping by unscrupulous buyers seeking a fast buck. In December, the new law was tweaked to make sure all bidders pay enough to cover back taxes and court costs. Further adjustments may be needed, but the basic thrust represents a praiseworthy effort to turn around homes before crime and rot set in, affecting entire neighborhoods.

Online:

https://bit.ly/2jrJ6bR

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The Lima News, Jan. 6

The roads should be safer from drunk drivers, thanks to a law signed by Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday.

Kasich signed “Annie’s Law,” which goes into effect April 4. It gives courts the option to place an ignition interlock device on the cars of first-time offenders of Ohio’s operating a vehicle while intoxicated laws in exchange for potentially cutting the new 12-month license suspension period in half.

A first-time offender would have to blow into a breathalyzer to prove he was sober and able to drive.

The law is named after Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe attorney who died July 4, 2013, at age 36 when a drunk driver veered across the center line on U.S. 50. That driver had previously been arrested five times for drunk driving offenses. …

We know too many addicted alcoholics can’t help themselves in fighting their addiction and make bad choices to get behind the wheel. This law makes sure the car won’t start when they try. …

Annie’s Law also offers a more practical solution by offering these drivers unlimited driving privileges. In the previous law, people can request driving privileges for work. It was a system fraught with lies as every place a driver might want to go could be argued to be on the way to or from work, if anyone noticed at all. …

We expect our local judges to take advantage of this new tool in public safety, before any more people die unnecessarily.

Online:

https://bit.ly/2jrOvPX

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