Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Voters must get educated on Householder’s write-in opponents
The Newark Advocate
This fall’s general election is sure to be intense and unusual.
The presidential election between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is sure to capture the attention of most, and the COVID-19 pandemic will make voting a logistical challenge.
But voters in Ohio’s 72nd District face an even more unusual election than most.
For in the district that includes Coshocton County, Perry County and a portion of Licking County, Larry Householder will be the only named candidate on the ballot.
For those that haven’t followed any state news for the past month, Householder is at the center of a $60 million FBI bribery investigation where he is accused of helping funnel money from corporate energy companies to ensure passage of a bill that bailed out two Ohio nuclear power plants. The scandal has been labeled as the largest public corruption case in the state’s history.
With that in mind, it will come as little surprise that we do not think he should be reelected to the Ohio House of Representatives. Unfortunately, for that not to happen, it will take some effort from the local electorate.
Ohio House Republicans were fairly quick to remove Householder as Speaker of the House, replacing him with former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Robert Cupp. The Republicans, however, did not feel it was appropriate to remove him from office entirely.
Having Householder remain in the House essentially means the representatives of the 72nd district have no representation. Householder is forbidden from communicating with other legislators while the case proceeds, and his ability to provide services for constituents will undoubtedly suffer.
Householder himself has refused calls to resign from his elected position and did not withdraw his name as a candidate for reelection by the deadline. This would have been the optimal scenario, as it would have allowed political parties to appoint candidates to run for the office. Of course such a scenario was unlikely given Householder’s desire to hold onto whatever power he can.
This puts us in the position where someone indicted on extremely serious charges of public corruption will be the only named candidate on the ballot, but he will not be the only person running.
At least two candidates have filed to run as write-in opposition to Householder: The deadline to file as a write-in candidate is 4 p.m. on Aug. 24, and it is likely others will see an opportunity and file. We encourage all voters to check with their county election boards to see who is running in the race. The Advocate will further profile the race when all candidates have been finalized.
The reality is it will be extremely difficult for any write-in candidate to defeat a well-known incumbent, even one facing federal bribery and corruption charges. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more difficult because of the barriers it places on candidates to campaign or hold events.
The cynic may argue that Republicans would benefit from a Householder reelection, as they could then kick him out of the House and hand-pick his replacement. We believe such machinations are why people have so much distrust for politics, and it would be better for the electorate to pick someone to represent them.
That is why it is critical for voters in the district to make the effort to learn who is running for the seat - even if their name won’t appear on the ballot.
Officers need better training on use of force
The Warren Tribune Chronicle
Leave aside the political correctness that has resulted in universal condemnation of all law enforcement personnel, for a moment. In the interest of saving lives, let us return at least briefly to using our common sense.
As The Associated Press reports, a significant number of officers, deputies, troopers and agents may not understand the seriousness of making it difficult for someone to breathe. Really.
Under no circumstances can what happened to George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis be rationalized, of course. After being arrested on a relatively minor, non-violent charge, he was forced to the pavement, where a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Floyd was killed, after pleading several times that, “I can’t breathe.”
Five Minneapolis officers have been charged in Floyd’s death.
Outrage over their behavior is justified. It has prompted a nationwide discussion - among those involved in law enforcement, let it be noted - about treatment of people in confrontations with police.
Correcting a misperception among some law officers needs to a priority in that discussion. Apparently, according to the AP, some people think if a person in distress can talk - to say, for example, “I can’t breathe” - he or she is not in danger.
Derek Chauvin, the policeman charged with murdering Floyd, responded to his pleas with, “Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.” Another officer at the scene remarked, “He’s talking, so he can breathe.”
Health care professionals agree that even people able to beg for their lives can be in severe, life-threatening distress. Clearly, Floyd was.
Again, there is no excuse whatsoever for what happened to Floyd. But just as clearly, many law enforcement personnel need better education on how to handle such situations. Local, state and federal officials need to ensure it is provided - and the guidance is followed. No one should die because a law officer misreads the meaning of, “I can’t breathe.”
Falls sports are not worth the risk
Akron Beacon Journal
If there’s one thing time and experience should have taught us during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that the deadly coronavirus will ruthlessly exploit any opportunity to spread in our communities.
So why is Gov. Mike DeWine expected on Tuesday to bless the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s plan to proceed with high school and middle school fall sports despite the obvious risks?
All of us would prefer that sports, school and life could go back to normal. The desire to return to our pre-pandemic activities is understandable. It’s easy to empathize with the frustration shared by athletes, parents, coaches and fans. No one wants young athletes to be denied their chance - maybe their last or even only one - to compete in a sport they enjoy.
And we do not question the motivation of those who want to see sports played this fall. All of us want what is best for our children, athletes or not.
But returning to normal activities before it is safe to do so, before the virus has been reduced to sufficiently low levels, only risks compounding our problems - multiplying the infected, hospitalized and dead - and extending our time in pandemic purgatory. That is the awful arithmetic of this virus, which has claimed the lives of 170,000 of our fellow Americans in less than six months.
Sadly - and it brings us no pleasure to point this out - DeWine used to know that.
The governor earned well-deserved praise for his proactive decisions, based on science and the advice of medical experts - particularly then-Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton - in the early stages of the pandemic, helping spare the state the high levels of infection and deaths that befell New York, Michigan, Louisiana and others.
DeWine was one of the first governors to recognize a patchwork response isn’t an effective strategy, and he quickly acted to close schools, limit crowds and restrict visitors to nursing homes across the state.
But the Republican governor started to wobble in late April when he first ordered and then quickly backtracked on a statewide mask mandate, which eventually came on July 22 as cases and infection rates in the state were spiking.
Now, after an inexplicable delay that only added to the uncertainty, he is about to tell us that fall sports can proceed safely.
With a few possible exceptions (golf, maybe tennis and cross country), they can’t. Practices and competition will necessarily increase the odds that athletes, coaches and fans will be infected. Not even Major League Baseball, with a nearly limitless budget, frequent testing and millions of dollars in revenue at stake, has been able to prevent widespread outbreaks among its players and staff.
Are we to believe cash-strapped middle schools and high schools will do better? Hardly.
DeWine will tell us that even young athletes know and accept the inherent risks associated with participation in sports, that even if infected they are less likely to suffer severe consequences.
And all of that is true as far as it goes. But a concussion isn’t contagious. Bringing home a broken bone does not expose an elderly grandparent or an immunocompromised sibling to mortal danger.
He also will tell us that sports teach many important values, including commitment, integrity, teamwork and shared sacrifice - and indeed those are lessons that should not be casually tossed aside.
But another lesson is even more valuable: learning how to recognize when the known risk outweighs the reward.
And when that is the case, being the leader - of a team or a state - requires saying no.
The other crisis in Toledo
The Toledo Blade
As summer drags on we are weary and just hanging on for a vaccine to come and end the coronavirus pandemic. Now, if only we could find a vaccine to solve Toledo’s other epidemic of 2020 - violent crime.
The most recent weekend of violence is just the latest horror. Toledo recorded its 31st homicide of the year. By contrast there had been 20 homicides through Aug. 8 last year.
Toledo’s police are even more weary than the rest of us. They’re also trying to manage an already dangerous job with the added risk of coronavirus infection. They feel attacked by an anti-police sentiment since protests erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. And they lost one of their own, Anthony Dia, when he was killed on duty in July.
Add to this that Toledo’s police department has been understaffed for years, a problem that is worsening with a wave of retirements this year.
This summer’s violent crime wave has roots in many problems that aren’t easily solved - pandemic anxiety, unemployment, pervasive poverty in some city neighborhoods, and a plague of illegal guns on the streets.
But there are a couple of measures the city can take even as the coronavirus crisis has stretched resources thin.
Many of the shootings and other violent crimes are related to large, late-night gatherings that turn violent. Six people were hurt after gunfire broke out last weekend in the Swayne Field Shopping Center parking lot in just the latest violent night there this summer.
Police are routinely called there and to parking lots at International Park, Winterfield Park, and other large lots around the city.
Toledo City Council and the Kapszukiewicz administration must collaborate with the police department to shut down the large parking-lot gatherings that are contributing to the summer crime wave. Such get-togethers are always popular in the summer months, but this year they are larger, more frequent, and more often become a problem.
The city also must consider what more can be done to replenish the diminishing ranks at TPD.
To adequately patrol neighborhoods and staff critical functions, TPD should have a force of about 700 officers, Chief George Kral has said. This summer, thanks to a wave of retirements, the department has about 620 officers.
A new police academy class is set to start training in October. By the time they graduate and join the force next year, the city will be lucky if those 25 cadets replenish the force to its current staffing level.
During Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s administration, the city has funded a new police academy class every year, which is good. But still TPD is adding new officers at a pace that doesn’t keep up with departures. Maybe the academy needs larger recruit classes or maybe the classes should be spaced closer together.
There is no vaccine coming to save us from violent crime, but the city has options to address this other epidemic. It’s time to do what is possible, even as the coronavirus crisis continues, to reduce violence on the streets.
Teachers must have firearms training
The Marietta Times
Ohio Supreme Court justices have agreed to hear a case with enormous ramifications for public schools throughout the state. It involves how much training school personnel must receive before they can be authorized to carry firearms while at work.
Justices will hear a case from Butler County.
In essence, it involves whether school personnel must have law enforcement-level training to carry guns while on the job. A school district had voted to allow armed school staffers after a shooting in 2016. A group of parents later sued the district to prevent teachers from being armed without extensive training.
But a Butler County judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying school staff did not need extensive training because they are not law enforcement officers.
Clearly, law enforcement officers, deputies and agents require some firearms-related training that school personnel do not.
Just as plain, however, is that school personnel simply must be trained extensively on safe carrying - and, when required, use - of guns.
A significant number of school districts, including some here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, have decided schools are safer if a few carefully selected staff members have access to firearms.
As those folks have discovered, these decisions are not simply a matter of understanding how to use a firearm. There is psychological, tactical, logistical training too. This is not a matter of flipping a switch.
Justices MUST ensure school personnel are trained adequately to ensure allowing them to be armed in school does, indeed, make schools safer across the state.
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