The Heritage Foundation, headed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, came to Ohio on Tuesday with its “Defund Obamacare” town hall meeting. Does anybody else see the incredible irony in that?

In 1993, President Clinton, appalled that in the richest country on earth nearly 40 million people lacked health insurance, tried to expand health care to all Americans. The Republican Party so thoroughly attacked that plan it never even got a vote in Congress.

At the time, the Republican Party proclaimed it had a better approach than “Hillarycare.” Instead of government providing health care to people, it promoted a plan that would rely entirely on private insurance companies, with subsidies for people too poor to afford insurance on their own. That plan was based on a report authored by — you guessed it — the Heritage Foundation.

Sixteen years later, when President Barack Obama sought to provide relief to those same uninsured Americans, whose numbers had now swelled to nearly 50 million, he wanted to avoid the controversy that had blocked the Clinton proposal years earlier.

As a central part of his plan, he adopted many of the free-market principles set forth by the Heritage Foundation. Obama’s effort was aided by the fact that a nearly identical plan was already working in Massachusetts, where it was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

But we all saw how Republicans reacted in the hate-filled summer of 2009, when “Obamacare” was attacked as a “government takeover” that would leave ordinary citizens at the mercy of “death panels.”

In spite of those scare tactics, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Yes, “Hillarycare” would have brought adequate health care to more Americans more quickly. But “Obamacare” has already provided needed help to millions.

And now, with the Affordable Care Act poised to enroll tens of millions of uninsured Americans in affordable, comprehensive private health insurance through the health care marketplaces opening Oct. 1, how is the Heritage Foundation reacting to the implementation of a plan based on the one it authored years ago?

It is rallying the far right in one final attempt to shut down the government unless it succeeds in blocking uninsured Americans from getting the health care they need.

Is it any wonder that President Obama hasn’t been able to reach a compromise with these people on any of the huge issues this country faces? They can’t even agree with themselves.

Bill Wood


How to please ?and keep customers

The Aug. 24 article “Nuts and bolts are a way of life” brought back a fond memory. Three weeks ago, our outside water faucet began leaking. It just needed a new washer. However, I could not remove the washer because the screw holding it in place was frozen.

Employees at the two local big box stores I visited told me the small part I needed was not available, but they could sell me something much larger costing $25. They also said I would probably need a plumber. I told them I thought I could do better.

Off to West Hill Hardware. It took the young fellow behind the counter 15 minutes to free the screw and replace the washer — and it cost me $1.42. The store is a cornucopia of items, and its philosophy is as old as time itself: Be kind, honest and helpful and try to fix it before you trash it.

West Hill Hardware will always get my business.

Phil Marcin


A story’s lack ?of respect

I currently reside in Houston, Texas, but grew up on Aberdeen Street, the same street that Bryce Ellis, a young man who was killed in an incident on Aug. 15, grew up on (“Police identify Akron shooting victim,” Aug. 17).

I know his family from the neighborhood and church. I was heartbroken for them.

I was more deeply saddened by the manner in which one of your reporters diminished this young man’s life by providing an ample amount of information about his criminal history in the story. He wasn’t a model citizen, but he was someone’s child.

Over the years, I’ve come home for visits only to hear about the senseless crime on Akron’s streets. It concerns me, for my loved ones, but most important, for the community in which I grew up.

It is the same collective community that grew up on Swenson’s, going the Soap Box Derby and having picnics at Wingfoot Lake. I’m proud to be from Akron.

This young man may not have made a positive influence. He represents the plight of many young adult African-American males across the country.

When I read this article, I felt disrespected as a human being. From what I understand, violence and death have become commonplace occurrences in the urban areas of my hometown. But have we lost all sensitivity to a grieving family?

The details of the charges were just too much. Instead of highlighting all of his criminal offenses, let’s celebrate the fact that the intended victim was not lost to his family. Or how about stating that the offender was mired in criminal activity?

All of God’s children deserve some level of respect in death. If I was a peer reading that article, I would feel like there was no hope for me. I would feel that the city of Akron had nothing for me, like my life was worthless.

There are so many aspects to the plight that our young men face. And, yes, it does take a village to raise a child. The urban community has a responsibility, too.

This letter is neither an excuse for his or anyone’s actions, nor is it an accusation of racial bias. It is to express my disappointment in the lack of humility displayed in this story.

Lakita Head

Houston, Texas

Standing up ?for his constituents

Bruce Kilby has been standing up for his constituents’ rights against all odds for the last 16 years as an Akron City Council member. It’s a full-time job.

As a rebuttal to the Aug. 25 letter “Questions for a councilman,” I would like to say that Kilby keeps plugging away for citizens’ rights, which is a tough job when everyone else around him votes to please the mayor instead of their constituents.

Kilby has been ridiculed many times by Mayor Plusquellic. Why? Because Kilby looks at the pros and cons of all ideas that are contributed to the council and works to apply checks and balances.

Does he play devil’s advocate? Of course. That way every viewpoint is taken into consideration when a final decision is made on legislation.

We need honest policy for our citizens and neighborhoods.

If you’ve ever been to a City Council meeting, you can see for yourself there is very little input from the public on any issues. The issues are already decided in meetings prior to the council meeting, so citizens really have no impact at all.

Because of Kilby’s tenacity, I will be voting for him, along with Mike Williams and Linda Omobien, in the race for at-large City Council seats. Perhaps this team of independent thinkers will be able to accomplish what so many others have not.

Oh, and did you hear that we are giving away the Akron steam plant? Perhaps it could be sold, and the funds could go toward paying down the cost of the upcoming sewer upgrades.

Carolyn Duvall


High cost ?of compliance

When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it greatly underestimated the cost of compliance, a major unresolved obstacle to attaining the goals of the act.

The act had construction grants of 75 percent, and later 55 percent, and about 40 percent of the nation’s needs were met. Congress discontinued funding in 1988.

Akron has spent considerable local user charges and grant funds on expanding and improving its treatment plant, rather than dealing with the causes of the overflows. There currently is scarce federal or state financial assistance.

Because many large communities with combined overflows are located in the East and Midwest, the EPA’s Region 5 has an excellent background on identifying cost-effective control programs and schedules.

I’m hoping U.S. District Judge John Adams is hiring a so-called expert lawyer to answer the following:

•?Every control has a point after which costs steeply increase and benefits stay the same. Does Akron’s plan hit that cost/benefit peak?

•?How will Akron’s future user rates compare with other large, Midwest communities (including bankrupt Detroit)?

•?What happens if the Akron voters decide to cap their wastewater user rates as the residents of Norton recently attempted?

It is time for Congress to restore the grant program. It would be wonderful and shocking if the courts were able look past the obvious shortcomings in the Clean Water Act and apply justice.

Jim Greener