While I support Mayor Don Plusquellic’s recent change of heart to utilize an integrated plan and green infrastructure for the long-term combined-sewer overflow project, I do not understand his urgent demand of the Akron City Council to approve a substantial sewer rate increase without a greater understanding of what the money will ultimately fund.
Raising rates may be a necessity, and doing so with a plan that includes financial accountability, community sustainability and full disclosure of details generates trust in the process.
Forcing rate payers to pay for something they do not know about or understand is irresponsible, especially in light of the recent revelations of the escalating costs, now $1.4 billion to fund the current plan to curtail overflows.
As an informed and engaged citizen and rate payer who has participated in public meetings about the city’s plans, I am concerned that the city is not even close to understanding the strategic cost-saving advantages of green infrastructure and what an integrated plan even looks like, let alone know how to develop one.
Green infrastructure investment lowers sewer bills, not raises them. As rate payers, we have the right to understand and influence how money is spent, as we work toward the most cost-effective, sustainable solutions. Voting to adopt an outdated plan with known cost-overruns would be a disaster.
Recent developments in the long saga of the combined-sewer overflow plan should cause the council to call a collective “time out” and truly understand the multiple benefits available by taking full advantage of the federal Environmental Protection Agency suggestions.
For more information, see water.epa.gov.
High costs of executions
I read with some sadness the Jan. 20 letter regarding the execution of Dennis McGuire (“Remember the victims”). McGuire’s crimes were heinous and should be an affront to any civilized society. I am saddened for his victims and their families.
Still, executing him has done nothing to reverse his deeds, has no demonstrable deterrent effects and, given the especially difficult and painful way in which he met death, most likely has traumatized the witnesses, including McGuire’s daughter. She committed no crime and loved her father enough to be present at his end.
How many more did we intend to punish? I would also point out that the cost to execute McGuire was millions, millions more than to keep him locked up for life.
If we could take the money that would be saved by stopping executions and create real option of life without parole, we could solve a lot of problems that are more pressing, such as feeding the one in five children living in food-insecure homes here in Ohio.
In the end, I would hope that we are better as a society than we were with the botched McGuire execution. Public support for capital punishment is waning in the face of an evolving sense of decency, while support for a life without parole option has continued to increase. Let’s get it done.
Over the last month, many Browns fans have said it was unfair to fire head coach Rob Chudzinski, claiming you cannot blame the coach when he has inferior talent.
That would be just as crazy as rating teachers based on the test scores of the students in their classrooms.
Douglas Merideth Jr.
A better use of $62 million
Watching the broadcast of the Akron-Toledo basketball game, I noted the announcers’ verbal and video description of the James A. Rhodes Arena as an “old school” basketball court, but with renovations that included a player lounge with full amenities and a pro-quality locker room.
The ESPN crew concluded that the overall impact would be impressive to potential player recruits. My thought was: Why do we need a new University of Akron arena priced at $62 million?
When I was a student at UA 40 years ago, Jackson Field was just that, a field. However, tuition was reasonable, and I got a good education. While recent physical improvements to the campus are impressive, I have nieces and nephews who graduated in the past several years, each with $10,000 in student loan debt.
Maybe we can have both bricks and brains. If we truly have $62 million rattling loose in the community, spend half to renovate the JAR, if we must. Then create a $31 million scholarship endowment with the rest.
With an IRS-required minimum payout of 5 percent of assets annually, you’d have enough income to provide a $5,000 grant each to more than 300 students each year, forever. In a good year for the investment markets, an 8 percent return and payout would do the same for a nearly 500 students.
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Gov. John .Kasich to halt all executions until we are certain that the executed die instantaneously, with no pain and a smile on their face. Let’s make this a pleasant experience for all.
The children of the late Dennis McGuire, a convicted murderer, plan to sue the state over the circumstances of his “lengthy” execution. It’s likely the state will pay them to settle the lawsuit, thereby allowing them to profit from their father’s heinous crimes.
I can only hope they take their blood money and go away.
A combination of drugs was used in the execution. The surgical anesthetic, propofol, which caused the demise of Michael Jackson, shows promise. I’m sure some people feel these deaths are unfortunate. Considering that a murderer is no longer among us, I’d call it a good start.
Board member in conflict
I commend the Beacon Journal for its continuing investigation of state school board member C. Todd Jones (“Complaint takes aim at lobbyist,” Jan. 17).
Jones is a registered lobbyist for a higher education group, and his activities are being examined by the Ohio Ethics Commission. A complaint filed against Jones accuses him of conflicts of interest regarding his board and lobbying activities.
Jones’ case is reminiscent of the recent situation faced by former state board member Bryan Williams, who is also a lobbyist (for a group of building contractors).
Following a series of Beacon Journal articles on the state board last November, the Ohio Ethics Commission advised that board members should not be lobbyists.
Williams took the honorable course and resigned, although no evidence of wrongdoing was presented. Williams, the Akron area’s representative on the board, will be sorely missed.
He is an honorable man, a strong supporter of school choice and parents’ rights in education. He was an effective, perceptive, well-respected board member.
Jones, on the other hand, has a quite different demeanor. As a follower of the state board, I can attest to the complaint’s description of Jones as an acerbic bully who openly attempts to influence board decisions. He is often a disruptive force on the panel.
Jones, as an education lobbyist, would appear to have much more potential for conflicts of interest than Williams. Yet Williams is gone and Jones remains. To avoid the appearance of impropriety, Jones should also resign.
A writer recently asked why it is fair to use northern Ohioans’ toll payments on the Ohio Turnpike to pay for road repairs downstate (“Unfair toll,” Jan. 20).
I am confident that it seems fair to Gov. John Kasich and the Republican legislature because their support comes substantially from southern Ohio voters.
Because Cuyahoga and Summit County didn’t provide the votes for the governor and the Republican majorities in the General Assembly, we will have to pay. But give them credit. It is much more subtle than the New Jersey governor’s office blocking access lanes to the George Washington Bridge for the errant voters in Fort Lee.
Douglas J. Powley