Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and City Council President Margo Sommerville are doing the right thing by gathering petition signatures so that voters can decide when to hold local primary elections. They have explained the many benefits of replacing the current September date with a May primary, particularly that moving up the primary will allow the Summit County Board of Elections to comply with legal deadlines for mailing overseas and military ballots.
The change also will increase voter participation, which is 46 percent higher, on average, in May than in September. Moving to a May primary will save Akron about $82,000 per election. And Akron is not making this change alone: Similar efforts are underway in six other local cities — Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Green, New Franklin, Norton and Tallmadge.
Some have raised concerns that May primaries may make things harder for minority candidates. From what I see, the data do not support that argument. As the former longtime president of the Akron Chapter of the NAACP and a member of the organization’s national board of directors, I strive to support issues that uphold the equality of political, educational, social and economic rights for all.
Most of Ohio already has May primaries, including such cities as Cincinnati, Columbus, Canton, Dayton and Youngstown. All of these cities have minority representation on their city councils that exceeds the minority share of their local population.
Let’s see level heads prevail as we debate how to best serve all the people of Akron. The proposal for a May primary is a thoughtful and common-sense solution that will comply with current state law, boost voter turnout, save money and move Akron into line with 85 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Most important, Akron’s voters should have their say in choosing when they want to vote. Let the people decide.
Textbook case of intrigue
Regarding the well-written articles ‘‘Stark State to expand Summit programming’’ (Aug. 15) and ‘‘UA opts to phase out 80 degree programs’’ (Aug. 16), the reporters’ writing represents only the tip of the iceberg.
Fiat Lux (‘‘Let there be light’’) is the motto of the University of Akron.
With that theme, let there be light to our knowing — in the words of the late radio commentator Paul Harvey — “the rest of the story.”
From a political standpoint, what more is there to know of the sudden presence of Stark State in Akron, and the elimination of programs at the University of Akron?
Transformation under Trump
Donald Trump is rapidly transforming our nation from Ronald Reagan’s shining city upon a hill into an isolated, racist, intolerant, second-rate dictatorship, and our Republican-led Congress is paving the way for him with their silent complicity.
From golf course to housing?
Regarding the Aug. 10 article ‘‘Mayor to urge buying course for $3.3 million,’’ this Akron resident has an idea for the golf course: Section 8 homes for the poor. This would show that the liberals in Green really care about the less fortunate. Oh, wait, they have the money to lobby to prevent that from happening and keep ’em in Akron where they belong.
What a great article celebrating the Akron University basketball team led by Wyatt Webb (‘‘1971-1972 Zips formed a bond that will never be ripped apart,’’ Aug. 12). Two things stood out for me regarding this story.
First, in my lifetime of learning, playing and watching basketball at all levels, I have never experienced more of a thrill than watching this team and its pursuit of a Division II national basketball title. As a freshman, we had to get to Memorial Hall an hour early to get a seat to watch this remarkable journey.
Second, it was a shock for me to attend my first game as a student at Memorial Hall and see significant segregation within the stands. Having graduated from Firestone High School, which by that time had a total of two African-American students in its history, my view on race relations was naïve due to ignorance. Since that time, I have indeed realized that we are one in this world and that we still have a tremendous hill to climb. However, we can do this through education, arts, music and sport.
In reading this article, it was clear to me that this group of coaches and players was a special group at a very special time. For a season, they did their part and accomplished that which most of us have not — solidarity between races resulting in the achievement of a defined goal. Their success helped define my views on what this community needs today. They did it with grace, athletic prowess and leadership. They did it without controversy, and they did it together. I congratulate these men on their accomplishment and thank them for the contributions that they have made after basketball to their families and communities. It was indeed a special journey.
Independence for all people
In July we commemorated the Declaration of Independence. Later in the month was another, less heralded anniversary that also brought independence: President George H.W. Bush’s signing in 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA’s fundamental purpose is to integrate people with disabilities fully into American life. This comprehensive act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and establishes that people with disabilities are entitled to the same opportunities as those without disabilities. It ensures the right to things that most people take for granted — like access to public spaces, transportation and employment.
The ADA should help us recognize two things: That what is good for people with disabilities is good for everyone; that we need government to provide the kind of legislation that helps us recognize and deal with injustices. Government can do good things — just look at the ADA.
Regarding the Aug. 10 letter ‘‘Insurance for the short term,’’ the writer and his organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom, promote the agenda of a selfish, me-first America with his disparaging comment about helping those in need.
I was taught and I firmly believe that Americans should and must take care of each other. Most important, I was taught that is what Jesus would have us do for all people, not just Americans.
I applaud U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s efforts in securing funding for maintenance projects in our national park (‘‘Cuyahoga Valley repairs needed,’’ July 22). This is a worthwhile cause and should be taken care of.
However, I question the fact that his name is not on the list of senators who are co-sponsoring the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The conservation fund monies come out of the same pot that the proposed National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund monies would come from. So what Portman is proposing is to shut down the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that has been running successfully for 50 years, and funnel part of the money into the new fund and the rest would return to the general budget.
I believe his statement that there is “rarely happiness in Washington,” but there is over this effort to stabilize the parks. Because what could be better than shutting down a successful conservation fund, taking part of that money and doing maintenance and decreasing the federal deficit with the rest? It’s a win-win for all — except those who are concerned about the environment.
Portman should co-sponsor the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund before pushing the National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund; then I could be smiling, too.
Plastic straws and health risks
Regarding the Aug. 13 commentary “Don’t quit plastic straws yet,” about the high costs of alternative straws made of biodegradable materials such as paper: After months of listening and reading about banning plastic straws, I have not heard or read anything about the possible negative impacts on our health.
Restaurant servers almost always grip beverage glasses on the rim, or just below the rim, where the drinker’s lips meet the glass. Now, I love the idea of going green and generally support it with great enthusiasm. I do not relish the idea of planting my lips where the server just gripped the glass.
That said, there is also a very real chance that restaurateurs will opt out and do away with straws altogether if the costs are too high. It seems to me that we are only solving half the problem if we do away with plastic straws and may increase health problems that come with drinking beverages from unsanitary vessels. Maybe some out-of-the-box thinking is in order here.
Feeling better about protests
Here’s an idea that we may want to adopt regarding the NFL players who are protesting about something or other by kneeling during the national anthem before games. All we have to do is allow them to protest and then deduct $25,000 from their salaries and use it to create a fund to support needy and disabled veterans.
Then we can all feel good about the protests because they’ll be helping to support the brave veterans who put their lives at risk to protect the nation — including protecting the right of the protesters to protest whatever it is that they’re protesting about.
In 2013, Defense Distributed, a self-described anarchist organization, began offering online blueprints to print 3D plastic guns. Showing the sanity we’d expect, the federal government immediately blocked their distribution. However, the Trump administration’s State Department, showing the insanity we’ve come to expect, reversed this decision by settling a lawsuit with Defense Distributed.
So, beginning Aug. 1, Defense Distributed, other organizations and individuals were to be able to share free, 3D printable blueprints for many kinds of guns — including the notorious AR-15 — online. Defense Distributed touted the settlement as “the death of gun control.”
Sadly, they’re right. It means that anyone with a 3D printer — children, convicted domestic abusers, criminals and terrorists — would not only be able to buy guns legally, but build their own untraceable, deadly weapon.
Rather than protect the public from a torrent of untraceable, unregistered “ghost guns,’’ the Trump administration has chosen to validate the extremist view of a tiny minority of gun advocates who don’t want any sensible firearm regulations.
Thankfully, a federal judge temporarily blocked the distribution of this material. Democrats responded by introducing a bill which strengthens restrictions on untraceable guns to cover 3D plastic firearms. Congress should pass this immediately.
Farm bill hurts Ohio
The current U.S. farm bill has a toxic and lethal amendment from U.S. Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, with the potential to negate state and local laws that protect Ohio consumers, farmers, animals and the environment.
These laws promote public health, keep food and water safe, and protect animals, including the recently enacted House Bill 506 that raises the care standards for dogs in large-volume breeding facilities (commonly known as puppy mills).
This ill-advised King amendment, if allowed in the farm bill, would overrule Ohio’s home rule law and force the state to accept the lowest possible common denominator for agriculture.
U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, can make a difference.
Fudge serves on the influential farm bill conference committee that decides the final version of the farm bill and can oppose this dreadful amendment.
Now more than ever, Ohioans and Ohio animals need Fudge to use her voice to fight against the amendment and safeguard Ohio’s human and animal protection laws.
Regarding the Aug. 1 letter ‘‘Treated unfairly,’’ in which the writer feels disgust at the “unfair” attacks on Donald Trump: Imagine our disgust at Trump’s daily tweet rants against the free press, U.S. citizens peacefully protesting unfair practices (our right under the Constitution), brown-skinned families seeking legal amnesty, our European allies and the legitimate Justice Department probe to determine what tactics were used by Russian operatives to influence the last election so we may prevent further attacks.
We are disgusted by Trump’s constant lies and the attacks on any person or organization that doesn’t agree with him. Yes, our republic is in trouble, just not for the reasons the letter writer listed.
My wife, son and I were treated to a performance of Hamilton, which I would describe as brilliant. The acting, singing, stage sets and music were impressive, but as the musical certainly entertained, it also inspired.
As a history teacher, I do believe the typical and old-fashioned portrayal of our founding fathers being as “old, white, wealthy men” (no matter how boring) leading our young nation on a great rebellious experiment based on the enlightened thoughts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Smith and Locke to be important to understanding the foundation of our democracy. Every performance I have seen in my life, whether on TV or the big screen, has been a wonderful reminder of the birth of our unique nation.
However, Hamilton offers something completely different and profound when one considers the current political and social landscape of the United States. Its performers are people of color. How wonderfully brilliant to have African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American men and women singing in what I believe to be a celebration of freedoms so many of us take for granted.
At its core, Hamilton is a clarion call to all those Americans who define what it means to be American in the most narrow terms to rethink their paradigm of patriotism. The diversity of this musical is beautifully American and a reminder to any person of power and leadership that American “His-Story” is really “Our Story.”
Robert M. Sveda
Good to Akron
We in this area know that LeBron James and his wife, Savannah, are the most generous and caring people in our community. These are the leaders who deserve everyone’s respect. We need to do something to show our support: a parade, letters?
Jane Peresta Sedmack
Get to know Kavanaugh
Will Brett Kavanaugh get an appointment to the Supreme Court? Probably. Should Democrats demand as much information as possible even if they will probably lose? Absolutely. The public is entitled to know his views. It is our government, after all.
Why would the Republicans keep this from the citizens? It’s common knowledge that the right-wing Republican justices of the Supreme Court don’t like abortion or gay marriage. But their same limited view of constitutional rights would also allow them to strike down Social Security, Medicare, the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. This isn’t an exaggeration. This is what the Republican Party has been after for 100 years.
Add to that their belief that corporations are people — I don’t remember seeing that in the Constitution — and it’s not hard to imagine how anyone but the wealthy and powerful corporations will have any meaningful rights.
This needs to be exposed at the Kavanaugh hearings. Believe me, the Republicans know exactly how he’ll vote. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. This is our government and when Kavanaugh votes to harm us then we can be prepared to vote out the politicians who put anti-citizen judges on the court.
Against the odds
Whoa! That was close. A Democrat almost won a congressional seat in Ohio (‘‘Democrat narrows gap in race,’’ Aug. 9). Republicans will need to propose new ways to further suppress the vote, along with their current tactics, such as early voting cuts, voter ID laws and purges of voter rolls.
Thank you for the July 27 editorial highlighting U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s record on the environment, specifically the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (‘‘Follow the logic of stewardship”).
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend Wilderness Week in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the Arctic refuge with other concerned individuals from around the country and indigenous voices from Alaska. Hearing firsthand from members of the Gwich’in nation on how oil and gas development on the coastal plain of the Arctic refuge would affect their culture and daily lives was incredibly moving.
As the editorial mentioned, the coastal plain is critical habitat for denning polar bears, migratory birds and caribou. When I returned to Ohio I was honored to use my voice to enlist eight groups to sign on to a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking to stop oil drilling in the Arctic refuge. I encourage our congressional delegation and individuals across Ohio to stand up to the rush to sell off our public lands and to speak out against attempts to irreparably damage the Arctic refuge.
Kathleen J. Bradley
Insurance for the short term
Catherine Rampell’s Aug. 5 column (“What is Trumpcare? Don’t get sick”) in opposition to the new rule expanding short-term health insurance, undermines its importance for mid- and low-income consumers.
With annual premiums for individuals topping $6,600, it’s no surprise that the government expects 2 million people to opt for cheaper insurance plans that don’t cover services the consumer doesn’t plan to use in the first place. However “skimpy” the insurance, descriptions of what it does or doesn’t cover are readily available.
If a healthy 30-year-old is willing to gamble that he won’t need an appendectomy in the near future, deciding to save $350 a month in premiums is his prerogative.
The bigger question is this: Do we truly expect those who are least able to afford health care to subsidize prescriptions or maternity costs or a family that can afford a gold or platinum plan on the exchange? This “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality seems the obvious solution when you’re the only one receiving a back scratching.
Short-term health insurance obviously isn’t right for everyone, but cheaper plans should at least be an option for those who need them.
Center for Consumer Freedom
If we, the great American people, can survive 2½ more years of our current administration, and we’re not involved in World War III, it will prove once and for all that it really doesn’t matter who the president of the United States is.
As someone said, do you think if our vote counted that they would allow us to do it?
David E. Harvey
For the children
Donald Trump is again criticizing LeBron James in Twitter rants. Let’s compare: LeBron James started a school for at-risk kids in his hometown. Donald Trump took children from their asylum-seeking parents at the border, causing heartbreak and trauma for thousands, physical and emotional abuse for many and even sexual abuse for some at the hands of the people who were supposed to care for them.
572 children still remain separated. Who is the better man?
Michael Gerson’s reasons (“Trump’s best decision,” Aug. 4 Commentary page) for quickly confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court boil down to three: He is well-qualified; he is a fine human being; and Republicans won the White House, giving them the right to pick the nominee.
These same reasons applied to Merrick Garland in the spring of 2016 (except, of course, a Democrat had won the White House). Yet Mitch McConnell, who controls the Senate, did not consider any of these reasons sufficient to warrant a hearing, so why should they be considered sufficient now? The hypocrisy of Republicans is galling.
Kavanaugh should not be confirmed for (at least) two reasons. First, he would make the court solidly conservative, which would threaten the social progress that has been made over the past half-century, such as access to legal abortion, affirmative action, gay rights and voting rights. A strong majority of Americans supports this progress. A Supreme Court that tries to take us backward will lead to civil conflict.
Second, President Trump does not have a mandate to do as he pleases, since he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes. He presides over a very divided country. A wiser choice for the Supreme Court would be a centrist, acceptable to both Democrats and Republicans and thus able to pull the country together, not divide us further.
I wish Republicans would do what is best for the country, but neither McConnell nor Trump seems to care about that.
Each life has dignity
What a brilliant and inspirational statement from Pope Francis when he recently condemned capital punishment (“Pope rules out capital punishment,” Aug. 3). The pontiff’s position is based on the belief in the dignity of each human person regardless of any accident of behavior.
He sees no one as being beyond redemption.
If we support the unborn, we must also support the born. The pope’s position looks beyond abortion. If one is pro-life, what about the people at the border; men’s treatment of women; criminal action or any discrimination against a person of color, sex or economic situation; or use of the “stand your ground” law.
Our justice system is anything but just when blacks and browns are criminalized far more and more severely than Caucasians.
God is the Creator, and it is he alone who has the power to take away human life.
Sister Kathy McIntyre
I have been following the Beacon Journal stories about concerns for the impact of the Nexus pipeline in the communities south of Akron.
However, I wonder if people living in these areas have considered that some of this environmental impact is a result of the way they have voted over the years. Many suburban and rural voters support the Republican Party which, not that long ago, was using the slogan “drill, baby, drill.” This party also supports a reduction in environmental regulations.
Yes, regulations can cost money but they can provide protection when a big project is crossing the region. This is one more illustration that who you vote for has lasting consequences.
I know from watching news reports, commentaries and listening to people around me that many have lost faith in the goodness and compassion we hope is inherent to the common man. But I feel compelled to share how I know that inherent quality is still alive and well. It started with a parade.
The Stow Fourth of July parade to be exact. I love parades, as my three teenagers will confirm as they roll their eyes and recount the many treks we’ve made over the years to a curbside laden with folding chairs, sunscreen and dingy sitting blanket. Halfway through this particular parade as I looked upon the throngs of people lined up for 2 miles, it hit me: This is the inherent goodness of man.
Thousands of people were spending the day with their families and strangers volunteering their time as participants or supporting their community as revelers, wearing get-ups in every combination of red, white and blue. In the midst of fear, distrust and anger over a myriad of reasons, all these people came together to celebrate each other.
Recently, the world came together to help, watch and pray for the soccer team that was trapped in the Thailand cave. Hopefully, everyone has at least once experienced a kind gesture from a stranger: That is the inherent goodness in our world.
I know there are examples of the opposite in our daily life, too. We each decide what we focus on. I believe that love fosters love. I believe the glass is “half full,” but I also believe that even if the glass is “less than half full,” it has the potential to multiply. And potential is worth everything.
There should be a policy
I am a retiree who volunteers at the best children’s hospital in the country — Akron Children’s Hospital. On one of my volunteer days, I was reading the social media policy that the hospital distributes to all of its employees and all prospective employees. I was very impressed with the policy.
My question is, does the federal government have such a policy in place for all of its employees, including the president? How can he be allowed to use his Twitter account to intimidate, bully and name-call his fellow citizens and employees of this great country?
That should be against the social media policy, if there is one. The federal government should use the policy at Akron Children’s Hospital as their model.
It grieves me to hear our president, who is employed by the citizens of this country, using words against his fellow citizens and employees that I would never allow my children or grandchildren to use. Why is this OK?
Helen V. Sanders
Cyber-wolves must be halted
I am alarmed by the July 27 article ‘‘Report: China, Russia, Iran spy on U.S. firms.’’ It seems to me that our political watchdogs are barking up the wrong tree, (i.e. intent on proving election interference) while the wolves are raiding the henhouse of invaluable assets for our nation’s economic livelihood and national defense.
We should demand that Congress use every available means to stop these cyber-attacks and strengthen our national security.
Americans take pride in saying that ours is a government of laws, not of men. But Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, seems to disagree.
In his judicial record, law review articles and at legal forums, Kavanaugh has advocated for nearly limitless presidential powers. In 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously forced President Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes to investigators. Kavanaugh has suggested that this landmark case was “erroneously” decided and that a president can withhold any information he chooses from other branches of government.
He has also claimed that a president can refuse to enforce any law he personally deems unconstitutional. In other words, the president doesn’t have to wait for a court to interpret and apply the Constitution; he can just say no, on his own authority
Of most immediate concern, Kavanaugh has suggested that a president should remain immune from criminal investigation and prosecution while in office. He sees the presidency not as an office of public trust, but as a kind of superhero suit, rendering the president invincible and unassailable — a law unto himself.
Kavanaugh’s attitude toward the presidency should alarm every American — not just now, when the man in the Oval Office faces a variety of investigations, but also in the future. It should especially alarm both of Ohio’s senators as they decide whether to put Kavanaugh on the bench.
Jim Jordan misuses power
The current resident of the White House is suspected of colluding with this country’s primary adversary in its attacks on our election procedures and systems. Members of his administration have lied to Congress about their own meetings with our Russian adversaries. At least three close associates have been charged with felonies related to their own lies to the FBI. He is also accused of receiving emoluments from foreign governments.
In the face of all this malfeasance, one might think U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, would be actively and energetically pursuing the responsibilities he was elected to undertake. Instead, he uses the power of his office to hinder and obstruct the organizations that enforce our laws. His threat to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is nothing less than a cynical, hyperpartisan effort to protect a tainted president from being investigated and to put him above the law.
Jordan’s actions are an embarrassment to the good citizens of Ohio and this nation. This November, we should all remember his blatant efforts to undermine the rule of law.
George P. Bohan
Akron voters will decide
Please tell me we live in a republic, not an oligarchy.
It is not the job of Councilwoman Veronica Sims and her colleagues to decide “what is in [our] best interests.” It is Akron City Council’s job to represent us. Unfortunately, in a one-party town, this tends to be forgotten.
We the people will decide. All we ask is that the council get out of the way so that we can exercise our power to decide.
It really didn’t matter to me whether I voted in the primary in May or September, but after one side of the debate resorted to robocalling homes, I definitely now have an opinion. Somebody hand me a petition. Where do I sign?
President Trump’s recent statement “ … what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” is eerily similar to George Orwell’s 1984 where: “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” High school students read 1984 to learn the value of objective truth. The Morning Joe show reported that Trump’s lies have grown from 8 per week to 40 lies per week, except in June when it broke the 100 lies mark — repetition eats truth for lunch.
Trump isn’t Big Brother and the “Party” isn’t our government, as you have to be competent to be diabolical. But Fox News and the White House press office aspire to be the “Ministry of Truth,” where the book’s hero Winston Smith worked. Winston worked 18-hour days, as the ministry reversed the historical record where “Oceania” was at war with “Eurasia” and allied with “Eastasia,” like Trump world, where our allies are now enemies and our enemies are now allies.
The big similarity isn’t with the Rulers but with the Ruled. The book ended with the realization by Winston that he loved Big Brother, not unlike the perhaps 25 percent of the electorate who prefer the Trump World to the real world. Never mind that Trump policies are objectively horrible for them. Add the 15 percent who know this is all just plain wrong but cynically calculate they will profit economically, or just emotionally, by putting the screws to those they resent, and there is a clear path to victory, given gerrymandering and the Electoral College lock enjoyed by small states.
It is up to the rest of us to start reversing this in November.
Voting should be fun, not a chore, according to Citizen University (“Nonprofit seeks fun voting ideas,” July 26). I always considered voting to be a privilege and my civic duty. This nonprofit group, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is seeking to increase voter turnout by making voting fun. They are soliciting ideas from the public.
Here is my idea. About one week prior to voting day at the various community learning centers across the city, provide people to explain and answer questions regarding the various issues on the ballot. Each person running for local office, or his or her representative could also be there to answer questions. If you want to make it fun, provide free refreshments.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.” He didn’t say the electorate had to be entertained; he said educated. Increasing voter turnout without attempting to educate the voters is foolish. I am pretty sure Jefferson would agree.
Miriam G. Rexroad
For the people
As a lifelong citizen of Akron, I want to thank James Hardy, Mayor Horrigan’s chief of staff, for his advocacy for the residents of the city. I appreciate his willingness to support our voice via the ballot.
I live-streamed the City Council meeting Monday evening, and was relieved to hear him — repeatedly — ask the council to let the will of the people be heard regarding the changing of the primary from September to May through the election process.
Anything less is an erosion of democracy.
Regarding the June 28 article “Summit Lake is safe for fishing,” which talked about a study completed by EnviroScience for the Knight Foundation’s Civic Commons, whose efforts to connect the city include projects along the Ohio and Erie Canal Corridor. The focus was on comments by Dan Rice, the chief executive of the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition. The coalition was just one of the partners involved in the study. The Trust for Public Land, sponsor of the initiative, was not even mentioned in the article.
As noted on the coalition’s website in January 2017: “The Trust for Public Land and the Knight Foundation launched the new initiative with a public kickoff aimed at revitalizing Summit Lake.” It was TPL that applied for and received the Knight grant to do the environmental assessment, which was to be managed by TPL under the direction of Matt Schmidt, program director of TPL’s Cleveland office. He has worked on the project in Akron for well over a year.
Other organizations joined the effort and did the technical work, but it was TPL that got the ball rolling.
The Trust for Public Land’s mission is to create parks and protect land ‘‘for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.”
Prior projects in the Akron area include the demolition and re-purposing of the Richfield Coliseum, the protection of land surrounding Blossom Music Center and the great blue heron site on Bath Road.
Sandra R. Smith
Editor’s note: Smith is a former member of the Trust for Public Land Ohio Advisory Board.
Eugene Robinson’s July 21 commentary “Patriots reside in the ‘deep state’ ” left me in total disgust.
The fact that President Trump was legally and legitimately elected by 60-plus million American citizens seemingly means nothing to Robinson. He and his ilk of unelected bureaucrats and media don’t give a hoot what the American people have to say; their world view is the only thing that matters.
If Trump had a “D” behind his name, would Robinson even consider writing this column?
If the press doesn’t start giving Trump at a minimum the appearance of fair treatment, this republic is in trouble.
Negative campaign ads are really offensive. Ads for Mike DeWine follow the same ugly attack he used to defeat Mary Taylor in the primary on his opponent for governor, Richard Cordray. Sherrod Brown’s exposure of Jim Renacci’s tax problems is equally disgusting.
I don’t want to know how bad an opponent is. I want to know what ideas and proposals the candidate has for addressing our innumerable problems — health care, opioid crisis, pay inequity, retirement.
How can I believe men who display such an ugly spirit will be honest, fair-minded leaders if they are elected?
Regarding the July 24 article ‘‘Ohioans to vote on drug treatment issue,’’ I encourage people to vote in favor of state Issue 1 in November. I base my endorsement in part on my own family’s experience.
My son, at age 19, was pulled over for a lane-change violation that netted him a felony charge when he was found to have a dose of a controlled substance. Even after that, he wasn’t able to stay away from drugs, and a second felony possession conviction followed some months afterwards. It became obvious he was a young man needing help, not a life sentence.
He tried to turn things around for himself by attending welding school. After graduation he ordinarily would have been hired by a good company quickly, but his felony convictions barred him from meaningful employment. He submitted dozens of applications and was repeatedly told that “our policies forbid felons forever, period” or “we have a seven-year policy for felonies, come back in seven years.” He came out of one interview especially upset when the interviewer berated him for wasting her time with these felonies on his record.
My son died from a drug overdose at age 23.
I’ve often wondered, what if he’d been accepted and given an opportunity to display his skills? What if employers had tried to see the good in him that I knew was there? Would things have turned out differently? Maybe not, but I’ve also wondered about the thousands of decent people who’ve been branded felons who are looking for a chance at redemption, for a shot at gainful employment and a stable life.
I’ve wondered how can we as a society can talk about rehabilitation while barriers like these exist, and I think that removing the felon label from low-level, nonviolent offenders will go a long way toward achieving that goal.
I’ve seen and heard many times the comments from people who say that whether it’s a lifetime of struggle or death, drug users get what they deserve. I say those cruel opinions are those of the minority, and I hope good, compassionate people will prove me right at the polls.
Richard W. Hughes
Present danger to the planet
There are no words to describe my frustration with the people who have prevented us from addressing the real problems that face the Earth today. Scientists have known for a good 50 years that climate change was going to be a serious problem.
At the worst possible time, a rabid climate change-denying, environment-gutting man is in charge, and he is supported by a party of spineless sycophants who either don’t care or have no idea what is going on. The few who care are afraid to speak out.
If you have children and grandchildren and would like them to grow up in a world that is even remotely similar to the one that you have experienced, educate yourself on the perils that the Earth faces today, join environmental groups, vote for people who care and try to minimize the damage you leave behind.
The July 26 Beacon Journal editorial “Not so easy to win” opines that to solve trade issues the U.S. should, rather than use tariffs, rally “countries to put pressure on China to comply with trading rules.”
If Trump asks the European Union to do as the editorial suggests, the response of the E.U. would be: “Of course we will help you with China, as soon as you agree not to subsequently attack our tariff goodies.”
No country will give up its tariff goodies unless forced to do so. To assume otherwise is to believe pursuit of self-interest is no longer a major motivating force of humanity.
It looks like U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has just collected another ‘‘Profiles in Courage’’ trophy to add to his mantel, with the recent news articles, photo ops and editorial in the Beacon Journal (‘‘Protection money for the parks,’’ July 24), commending his efforts to appropriate money for our long-neglected national parks. Seriously? What elected official would not be pushing improvements to such facilities as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with its positive impact on citizens?
What should be dominating the news coverage — and the editorial columns — is a demand that Portman join the chorus of those opposing any nominee to a lifetime appointment to any federal judgeship, particularly the Supreme Court, to be made by a president carrying a cloud of possible criminal intent or maintaining indifference to electoral interference by a foreign government, even as associates who surround him face criminal charges.
Portman’s voice should be a loud one in suspending the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, especially in light of the judge expressing doubt as to whether a sitting president should be subject to criminal prosecution. A trophy affirming that stance by the senator would be the largest one on his mantel. Given his track record, I doubt we will be seeing it there any time soon.
Examples of failed leadership
Three key characteristics of a good leader are: Define a compelling vision, motivate people and drive positive change.
The statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this month that he thinks the federal government can’t do much to help stop school shootings is an example of lack of leadership. The only thing he offered was he feels better security in schools may help, but says that’s not the responsibility of the U.S. Congress, but rather a local decision. No discussion about toughening background checks, increasing the age limit to 21 to purchase some weapons, or banning of high-capacity magazines.
Even if the responsibility lies at the local level, a national leader influences crafting of the right vision and motivates local leaders and constituents to drive the needed change. The problem is not that our leaders can’t tackle this issue. It is that they don’t want to tackle it and antagonize the National Rifle Association.
We are seeing a pattern. Any issue that our president does not want to deal with, he always shifts the responsibility to Congress, and now our Senate majority leader shifts it to local government. What happened to “the buck stops here”? If they don’t want to be leaders, they should choose another role or profession. Our only choice is to vote them out.
Pawan and Susan Handa
Time for damage control
The American people have had enough. Donald Trump has disenfranchised us to the whole world. He befriends our enemies and insults the integrity of our world allies.
Strip him of his powers. When will Congress wake up? We need damage control now.
First ex-FBI Director James Comey tweeted that people should vote Democrat. Then he tweeted ‘‘don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left.’’ If he thinks Democrats have lost their minds, maybe there is hope for Comey, after all, and for the country of our Founding Fathers.
Don F. McClish
Concerning “zero tolerance” of illegal immigrants, we have some neighbors (not “animals” or “insects”) who want to be legally considered for immigrant status. They are fleeing violence and dire economic situations.
When crossing the border without approval and without any possessions, immigrants initiate a hearing process to determine whether they can stay. There is a penalty equal to a misdemeanor and the families may be detained during the hearing process.
The federal administration has determined that the best way to discourage illegal immigration is to separate children of all ages from their mothers and fathers at the border and put the children in separate detention facilities or foster homes around the country. The United Nations Human Rights Council, which we should be leading through example, has condemned our practice of separating families. Our response was to drop out of the Human Rights Council.
The history of our country is one of immigrants, voluntary and non-voluntary, building a great nation through the strength of our diversity and hard work. The future of our country will be stronger for offering a clear policy toward citizenship since our birth rates are down. Younger workers with new skills are needed to drive our growing economy while covering the retirements of baby boomers. First- and second-generation immigrants have consistently worked hard and smart. Both permanent resident workers and new citizens are needed for the growth of many businesses.
Immigrants are not to be feared but rather to be welcomed with an efficient vetting process. Families are to be supported, not torn apart by policy. And we as citizens must demand more from our elected and well-paid government staff.
Trump plans are just grating
In response to the July 4 letter, in which the writer says our lives are great under Donald Trump: Ask those farmers in the Midwest whose livelihood is being ruined by Trump’s trade wars how great their lives are. Ask the parents seeking asylum who have lost their children how great their lives are.
Ask women who have the audacity to want to control their own lives how great their lives are. Ask those who will lose their health insurance if Trump has his way how great their lives are.
I could go on, but my life is so great I can barely speak.
What Putin wants
The July 19 commentary headlined “Their almost love affair” on Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s relationship is naive to think that Putin’s only objective in interfering with our 2016 election was to sow discord. Putin has other objectives.
Foremost, Putin wants Trump to eliminate the Magnitsky Act. The act authorizes the government to sanction human rights offenders in Russia, freeze their foreign assets and ban them from entering the U.S. This would work against Russian oligarchs and dictator Putin, who has raped his country and stored his ill-gotten gains in foreign countries.
The European Union is working on its own version of the Magnitsky Act. Which explains why Trump and by relationship Putin see the EU as their biggest threat.
Green has an important vote coming up Aug. 7 — Issue 1.
Just two weeks after February’s shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Fla., the Green Board of Education — alongside law enforcement officials and school safety experts — held a public forum to answer Green residents’ safety-related questions and listen to their input. The consensus was overwhelming: City of Green residents demanded upgrades to security, student resource officers in each school and increased attention toward mental health.
Our school board members promptly delivered. Shortly after the forum, they announced the proposal of a security levy that raises the necessary funds for four additional student resource officers (one in each building), two full-time CARE teams that focus on family outreach, student mental health professionals in each building and numerous internal improvements to bolster security — all of this for the monthly expense equaling a single cup of coffee for the average Green taxpayer.
We are the generation that helplessly watched as school shootings became a full-scale epidemic. We are the generation that watched with disgust as elected officials and bureaucrats did nothing but engage in partisan bickering in the face of each mass school shooting.
We can’t wait any longer hoping for career politicians in Washington, D.C., and Columbus to take action. On Aug. 7, we have the ability to enact real change. A ‘‘yes’’ vote is a vote for safer Green schools, for good local government, and for our generation’s vital role in shaping the community (and country) we live in for the decades to come.
Green High School Class of 2018
Sorry state of education
“The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. If he were alive today, Jefferson would probably add that the cornerstone of a modern economy rests on education, too.
That’s why I read U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 state rankings with such alarm and dismay. Did Ohio rank in the top 10 in education? The top 20? Even the top half? No, our state ranked 41st.
The magazine based its rankings on objective measurements such as preschool teacher training and class size, student test scores, and readiness for college, as well as the rate of students completing two- and four-year degrees.
After seven years of Republican leadership, Ohio can manage only a miserable 41st place. The most memorable educational “achievement” during this period has been the charter school debacle.
I plead with my fellow Ohioans: Remember this in November. It’s time for new, Democratic leadership in Ohio, starting at the top.
Trump deserves impeachment
The joint press conference with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on July 16, was a disaster for American democracy. Once again our president undermined our country on the international stage. Trump’s comments were not only shocking and chilling, but also proof of his continued collusion with Russia. While it was commendable that a few Republican members of Congress spoke up in response to Trump’s statements, apparently not one is patriotic enough to initiate impeachment proceedings to make America great again.
Regarding ‘‘Goodbye to Akron’s First Night,’’ the July 17 article stated: “Attendance peaked at between 30,000 and 35,000, then steadily declined. Only about 10,000 people came last year.”
Only 10,000 people? Think about that for a moment. 10,000 people came out and paid $10 per button on average. How many other events attract 10,000 people to downtown Akron? Especially in the middle of winter.
I volunteered at this event when I worked at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and the thrill was seeing all the families with their children who would be laughing, doing arts and crafts, playing and listening to music.
Instead of canceling, maybe it’s possible to downsize. There were always two sets of fireworks with some events ending at 9 p.m. and then other events and activities continuing on till almost midnight with another set of fireworks.
Possibly hold it from 6-9 p.m. and end with one set of fireworks. Then some people are free to go home or continue on to another venue downtown to celebrate and bring in the New Year. There are plenty of restaurants that would benefit from the people remaining downtown.
Shorter hours make it easier to get volunteers knowing they only have a three-hour shift.
Thank you to the Downtown Akron Partnership and the volunteers for the many years of fun and community provided through Akron First Night. An event that attracts 10,000 people to downtown Akron to celebrate together as a community is definitely a success.
Clear choice for state auditor
The Democratic candidate for state auditor, Zack Space, plans to investigate the for-profit charter school operators. As everyone should know, these school operators have been siphoning off millions of taxpayer dollars that were supposed to go to our public schools.
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, in particular, provided substandard education, charged the state for students who never attended class and hid their inflated fees from supervision. This was all known to and protected by the Republicans in the Statehouse for years. And for years, they, in return, have been getting large political contributions from these same operators.
Space wants to investigate these problems and try to return the money taken from Akron city schools. His Republican opponent, Keith Faber, is likely to continue looking the other way given that he received $36,000 in political donations from ECOT.
We need someone who will stand up to protect our right to adequately educate our children and not allow his friends to take from the public coffer.
Wait — President Trump makes an outrageous statement on Monday in Helsinki, contradicts it on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday contradicts Tuesday’s statement.
Could someone please explain his thinking process? He has confused his staff and fellow Republicans to the point that they can’t explain his words. But what about the rest of the world?
We teach our children, in home and at school, to think and speak logically. Why can’t we make the same demands of the leader of the free world?
Regarding the July 12 commentary “Second Chance Village is not a solution,” homelessness is a huge problem in many cities, and Akron is certainly one of them. There are many variables involved when someone finds themselves without a roof over their head.
You can’t blame one person or one facility that is providing an alternative for people already living under bridges or in the woods for a big increase in homelessness.
Sage Lewis did the hard part. He looked for people. How many of us have tried not to look at the corners and bus stops and under the bridge? Thank you Sage for looking.
I and many others have been inspired to also look and to act and help our neighbors who need a hand up. We all agree that living in a tent is less than ideal. But living in a tent in a community is better than living in a tent by yourself.
If the city shuts Akron’s Tent City down it must have a plan B that does not involve sending people back to the woods. What is that plan? Work with us on the tiny homes idea. Produce the, thus far, imaginary available homes that are alluded to on a regular basis. Where are they? There is a long line of people waiting for them.
And in the meantime, Sage and all of us helping at 15 Broad St. are making sure there is food, shelter, community, social services, addiction help, transportation, laundry, showers and a pot to pee in for those waiting for the city of Akron to step up and provide something better.
Trump passes the big test
Does our president tweet too much? Yes, he does. Are many of his tweets unnecessary and out of line? Yes, they are. Is his tariff policy questionable at best? Yes, it certainly is. Is his foreign policy working out in America’s best interests? It’s too soon to tell on that one.
On the other side of the coin — are his tax policies good for the nation? Without a question, yes. Have his cutbacks on bad regulations been good for the nation? Again: Yes. Overall, is he doing a good job? Well, the nation is far more prosperous than it was when he took over — few could deny (or even argue) that.
Virtually all of us are far better off than we would have been had he lost instead of won. And that is the measure that really matters most.
What Obama doesn’t get
Regarding the July 18 article ‘‘Obama speech delivers veiled rebuke to Trump,’’ in which the former president noted the “loss of shame” when “political leaders “ are “caught in a lie and they just double down and lie some more.”
I had thought possibly he was introspective and finally understood why Democrats were voted out of office in 2016. Unfortunately, Barack Obama still believes that voters didn’t notice his lies.
Shortsighted on the environment
Since the last presidential election, important safeguards to our air, water and land have been eliminated, seemingly just to enrich the already well-heeled fossil fuel corporate giants.
It’s bad enough that the secretary of the interior, heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and nature-hating members of Congress want to destroy our national refuges, monuments and oceans with drilling and fracking, destroying wildlife and the natural beauty Americans treasure. The environment is what we (and they) live in every day. Why do we allow these shortsighted officials to put our welfare at risk?
I recently returned from a brief visit to Toronto and Stratford. As I found in past trips to Canada, most people I encountered are polite and friendly. However, this time, the two major Toronto newspapers featured editorials and articles on the U.S. tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum from Canada and what were perceived as looming trade restraints that we might impose.
In assessing the tariffs and the harsh language employed by President Trump toward our northern neighbor and its prime minister, several points must be considered.
First, Canada is our largest trading partner. In 2017, we bought and sold $673 billion in goods and services. The United States actually had a favorable balance of trade of over $8 billion. For Canada, sales to the United States are equivalent to about one-fifth of its gross domestic product. Ohio had a two-way trade with Canada that exceeds $31 billion, and we had a trade surplus of $6.7 billion.
Second, both the United States and Canada have some grievances in trade relations. We are unhappy with barriers to the entry of our agricultural products, but we also employ protectionist policies in order to help our farm sector. Moreover, we levy tariffs on Canadian lumber shipped to our country.
Third, even though we may be able to secure economic concessions from Canada because we are such an important market, Canadians have means to retaliate against what they see as unfair actions by the United States.
Fourth, and perhaps most important, Canada is a member of NATO and an ally. It has fought with us in two world wars and the Korean conflict. Canada harbored some of our diplomatic personnel during the Iranian hostage crisis. It came to our aid after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. To use as a rationale for tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum that we faced a security risk because adds insult to injury.
Is it really necessary to weaken our alliances that have worked well for so many years? If we are concerned about losing jobs in a global economy, perhaps we should provide more aid to affected workers and communities, rather than imposing tariffs that raise prices and threaten the jobs of other Americans employed in making goods or providing services to other countries.
Editor’s note: Prior to his retirement from the University of Akron, Lieberman taught a class in Canadian politics.
Aim for mixed housing
So the city of Akron supports new luxury developments (‘‘High-end homes to hit Akron,’’ July 8). To enhance the city as a whole, would it not have been possible to build one luxury, one medium-priced and one low-income housing project? That is what responsible leadership should aim for.
We have plenty of high-priced areas in and around Akron for top-level employees, but we also need a base for such skilled workers as engineers and for reliable lower-level workers. Prosperity is not achieved by managers alone. It takes a good mix in the work force to stabilize population numbers.
Sebring, formerly of Akron
Although President Trump isn’t often described as coldly logical, in light of his recent visits with Theresa May and Vladimir Putin, replacing the bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office with one of Joseph Stalin would seem logical.
Regarding the July 12 commentary “Second Chance Village is not a solution,” the Continuum of Care asserts that it is unacceptable for people to live in tents. I agree. I wish I could offer more than a tent, and I hope to soon. But for now, I provide a place where the neediest can rebuild their lives, which includes finding permanent housing.
The fact that homelessness grew last year is troubling but not my fault. The Continuum of Care discusses the “unsheltered homeless population,” which doesn’t include people staying at temporary shelters. Many residents come to our tent community from other shelters because traditional shelters are often hotbeds of substance abuse, theft and violence and shelter staff require religious observances and impose needless restrictions.
That our residents prefer our tent community to traditional shelters isn’t an indictment of us, it’s an indictment of the shelter system. We welcome the most desperate without judgment and provide shelter, laundry, clothing, a hot shower and food.
I challenge the Continuum of Care. Come to our tent community. Help us put people into permanent housing. We welcome you. Until then, I won’t turn away those from the street who ask for help.
Editor’s note: The author is the president of The Homeless Charity and owns and operates the property at 15 Broad St. that houses Akron’s Tent City, formerly known as Second Chance Village.
Traffic replaces woodlands
Sourek Trail has a resident who remembers when Smith Road was a horse trail. Imagine how he must feel watching 60 acres of woodlands surrounding his home completely leveled. Not a single 80-foot tree was spared. The land is barren. Instead of protecting a beautiful jewel with large cooling trees and a multitude of wildlife, it somehow becomes necessary to squeeze 88 new homes on this land.
And the original horse trail will now need to become a four-lane road to handle all the additional traffic going in and out of Merriman Valley.
Have you ever had to sit in traffic on Smith Road through as many as four red lights at rush hour? Have you ever tried to turn left on Smith at an intersection where there is no traffic signal? Good luck navigating this area when an extra 200 cars are added to the original horse trail.
Trust in allies, not Putin
Would someone please explain to me why it is in the interest of the United States to befriend Vladimir Putin and shun our allies? Honestly, it makes no sense at all. Why does President Trump trust a man, Putin, who harbors deep animosity toward the United States?
Why is our president doing all he can to “pick a fight” with our trusted allies? These are the same allies who have committed their citizens to wars that the U.S. started; they have sacrificed lives in support of U.S. interests.
What is Putin’s track record in support of the interests of the U.S. and our allies? Why do we trust him now? This embrace of Putin is an embarrassment to America and people need to take their blinders off. Putin is not our friend.
I read with amusement about Norton planning on using an outside company to send civil violations to suspected speeders (‘‘Norton will buy radar system for I-76,’’ July 10). They seem all excited about their new DragonCam. This has little to do with driver safety and everything to do with revenue. The increase in accidents is caused by the strange configuration of the construction zone and not excess speed.
Numerous studies have shown that speed cameras have no effect on speeding, especially in highway construction zones. The fact that the officer in the photo is on an overpass and not where he is readily visible screams revenue, not deterrence.
Bringing in the outside company also adds to the cost to the motorist. This is an undue burden to people trying to make their way through that disaster of a construction zone.
Making it a civil offense instead of a criminal one seems to be a benevolent act, but I’m willing to bet it either adds to the cost to try to fight it or makes it impossible.
So let’s see what we have here: There’s no deterrence; the city can send many more tickets to unsuspecting motorists, perhaps weeks after the incident when they can’t remember the circumstances so there’s no way to fight it; the use of an outside company adds to the fine; and officers don’t have to do anything but point and shoot. Sounds only like a good investment but not for security purposes.
Help protect Green students
With tragic school shootings happening across the country, including in our neighboring community of Jackson, Green Local Schools has stepped up to protect our children and community. A few months ago, 300 family members and concerned residents showed up to a school board meeting to make one thing loud and clear: We want our kids to be as safe as possible at school. As a result, the school board announced the Safer Green Schools Levy — Issue 1 that will be on the Aug. 7 ballot.
This levy allots 80 percent of the funds levied for school resource officers, mental health professionals and a clear path for help for our children to ensure their sound mental health. The other 20 percent upgrades school security equipment.
For just $3 a month for every $100,000 of home value, we can help to make sure children are safer while they are at school.
The world watched the search for the boys’ soccer team in the Thailand cave. Many rescuers from several countries coordinated efforts to locate the kids. Readers and viewers from every land empathized and rejoiced with the families when the boys were located and rescued.
I am struck by the contrast with the thousands of children who still need to be rescued from the converted warehouses in our country. Yes, there were hundreds of marches raising awareness, but the cruel practice has not abated. Even after President Trump’s reversal, families continue to be separated at the border. Cruelty combines with incompetence in the unbelievable lack of record-keeping.
What will become of these children if/when their guardians are deported? Each one of these children is as important as a Thai soccer player.