I recently served a standard two-month term on a Summit County grand jury. I wrote a few notes about what I saw. I want to share them.
The law enforcers in Summit County really do form a thin blue line that protects us from crime.
The growing and ubiquitous use of illegal drugs is stretching our thin blue line even thinner.
No community in Summit County is clean of illegal drugs. (And that probably goes for our neighborhoods, too.)
In only nine weeks, the grand jury indicted over 700 people. Combined, those people racked up more than 1,400 felony charges.
Those charges included murders, assaults, rapes, burglaries, robberies, child endangering and just about all of the other charges in the book.
This is the kicker for me — illegal drugs played a role in 70 percent to 80 percent of the crimes.
We took a required tour of the Summit County Jail. We saw that it was filled with plenty of inmates. It was holding a record 15 inmates who were facing murder charges.
The prosecutors are dedicated, very smart and gung-ho.
When it comes to fighting felony crimes, the Akron Police Department is the New York Yankees of police organizations in Summit County. There are some other first-rate police organizations, such as the sheriff’s office, for one.
I don’t want to step on toes; however, there are too many police departments in Summit County. Many of them are too small. They lack sufficient manpower, experience and budgets to battle crime today, crime that is stoked by modern drugs.
The Oct. 25 editorial “Options in Stow” said, “The best vehicle for a regional approach to providing police services is for communities to contract with the sheriff’s office, avoiding unneeded duplication of effort.”
That is an idea worth consideration. What appeals to me about it is that the result of such a change would ultimately reinforce all that stands between us and chaos, the thin blue line of law enforcers.
My fellow jurors did intense work. They duly probed the details in each one of the 700-plus cases that were presented to us. And they made sound decisions. I was lucky to get to serve with them. I wish them the best.
Individual choice of religion
In the Nov. 7 letter “Mandate violates religious liberty,” the writer notes the contraception coverage included in employees’ health benefits and claims that violates the religious rights of employers.
But excluding such coverage means that instead of standing up for their faith and being willing to pay for their stance in fines and penalties, employers would be saying to employees, in effect, “I have my own moral position, and I want you to pay for it.”
It immediately becomes apparent that it would be impossible to separate religious employers from cheapskates. The employer’s morality thus becomes suspect.
The right of choice in religion is obviously one for an individual to make, not a company. How many of us would feel comfortable delegating our religious choices to our bosses?
Ann F. Kah
There is a simple change that would make the new name of the Akron Aeros more acceptable. Instead of the RubberDucks, how about the Rubber City Ducks?
Once a year is enough
As a new resident of Suffield, I am surprised at the strategy employed by the Field Local School District regarding requests for new operating revenue.
There have been new money issues on the ballot twice in 2011, 2012 and 2013. All six requests failed. As with any election issue, there are costs associated with placing a levy for new funds on the ballot. Those costs are paid by the taxpayer through the Field school district.
If that money is being spent on elections, it is not available to upgrade and maintain service levels within the school district.
Are multiple and costly ballot issues, in some cases three months apart, a fiscally responsible way to request funds from taxpayers?
The most current information from the Portage County elections board places the cost to taxpayers for the 2011 special election in August at $14,378. The regular election cost in November 2011 totaled $3,472, quite a disparity.
To be fair, additional ballot issues can help divide the cost of filing in a given election year. The more participants, the lower the cost for each issue to be placed on the ballot. Special elections are more costly.
It appears that the misdirected strategy for passing a levy is to throw it on the ballot as often as possible with the hope of a low turnout from those who oppose it. Considering the cost of a ballot issue, a better idea may be for the Field district to act in a fiscally responsible manner and put the levy to a vote only once per year.
That way, the district has a full year to articulate the merits of the request and taxpayers a full year to evaluate it.
Otherwise, it looks like another example of government officials playing fast and loose with other people’s money.
Continuing to deplete the Field treasury by spending tens of thousands of dollars on special elections and multiple revenue requests in a single year does nothing but galvanize the opposition and validate the opinion that the Field district is not a responsible steward of our hard-earned tax dollars.
Absent at the polls
We are what we eat, or more appropriately, we get what we vote (or don’t vote) for. Yes, I believe we are disgusted with Washington, D.C., politicians, from the president to the members of Congress. However, we correct nothing by not voting.
On Nov. 5, only 18 percent of registered voters voted in Akron. In one precinct, fewer than 2 percent of registered voters bothered to vote. In Cuyahoga Falls, only 38 percent voted.
What in the world is wrong with us? We live in the best country in the world. We have more freedom than most of the rest of the world. We have the privilege to vote, but we don’t. Shame on us.
Put character above belief
I was thrilled to see the Nov. 11 front page article “Atheist groups gather to share community.’’
It’s about time that people see nonreligious people as productive citizens. We do good, but we don’t believe in a god or gods.
The article is important because atheists are the last group that endures continued prejudice and hatred. I started a petition on http://www.care2.com/ to end discriminatory church bulletin discounts.
Church bulletin discounts are illegal, and unless companies hear from the Civil Rights Commission or the Freedom From Religion Foundation, these companies will not change their policies.
I encourage everyone to be open to atheists like myself and to judge an individual by his or her character, not their lack of belief.
Image problem in Norton
At the Oct. 28 Norton City Council meeting, several citizens spoke against negative press the city has received, blaming the council and the administration.
However, at that same meeting, Tom Kornas brought in an empty box he said Councilman John Conklin and Council President Don Nicolard could use to clean out their belongings after the election.
Then, William Paluch unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a campaign T-shirt calling for votes against the two council members.
At a previous meeting, Kornas displayed a 10-pound bag of potatoes because, “Once this (sewer project) goes through and we have to pay this (assessments), that is what we will be eating.”
At another meeting, Kornas was “poking fun” at the City Council president by bringing in bread and water for his “jail stay.”
So I ask these citizens who are blaming the council and the administration, who is causing the bad press for our city?