Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Cleveland Plain Dealer. May 20, 2022.

Editorial: As deadly fentanyl claims more Ohio lives, evidence-based treatment is among the answers

Ohio and the nation are confronted with a drug abuse crisis typified by misuse of the powerful deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl. And the death count continues to rise. Little wonder, then, that the task of addressing opioid abuse continues to be arduous in Ohio.

National Center for Health Statistics reported May 11 on national provisional data from 2021 showed a 23% annual jump in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl -- shooting up from 57,834 in 2020 to 71,238 last year.

In Cuyahoga County, overdose deaths were up more than 11% as of the second quarter of 2021 compared with a year earlier, the county Board of Health has reported. “This has been a record-setting time period for the county, with at least 149 confirmed individuals who have died from a fentanyl/fentanyl analog or combination from March to June 2021,” the board added in its second-quarter 2021 report.

The lethal nature of fentanyl abuse, and traffickers’ frequent mixing of it with less-lethal drugs, was brought into sharper local focus earlier this month by the deaths of two Ohio State University students, one a Greater Clevelander, near semester’s end. The two deaths were attributed to accidental overdoses of drugs that might have been sold as Adderall and might have contained fentanyl.

Meanwhile, the sources of fentanyl are diversifying. Although China remains this nation’s main supplier, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported in 2020 that, increasingly, fentanyl is being made in Mexico, then smuggled into the United States.

What is to be done? Last December, the mother of a 20-year-old Ohioan who died of accidental fentanyl ingestion while away at college offered some important suggestions in a cleveland.com op-ed:

(asterisk)More education and a far more honest, open discussion of fentanyl dangers with young people, including on college campuses.

(asterisk)Broader distribution of naloxone to counter opioid overdose and of fentanyl test strips to check for deadly fentanyl before using any street drugs.

To that, we’d repeat our editorial calls for greater transparency by the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County about the extent to which it funds evidenced-based addiction services and what kind of accountability measures it requires.

A spokeswoman, when asked about accountability for this editorial, said that the local ADAMHS Board always requires accountability from providers.

The board’s 2021 annual report notes that it’s “established a new compliance department” and hired a chief compliance officer, two new compliance officers and a third compliance officer to “continuously monitor providers after assessments to ensure continued compliance and create corrective action plans where necessary.”

Missing from those assurances are the specifics. Compliance with which metrics? How is accountability to be judged and measured?

Yes, local health authorities have saved lives and been ahead of the drug-addiction curve in many ways -- including in providing naloxone and fentanyl test strips and in diverting addicts from jail to recovery via the opening of the Cuyahoga County diversion center a year ago. But as the threat of fentanyl grows and widens, more must be done to focus resources on treatment programs for which evidence exists that they work. The local ADAMHS Board, on the front lines, must do more to inform the public about how it is assuring that only evidence-based programs are funded, along with more specifics on its metrics and results.

Opioid abuse is a scourge that ends lives and breaks hearts. Cutting supply, through law enforcement, is a key strategy. But, on a state and local level, improved youth education, and stronger, evidence-based prevention and treatment approaches also are needed. For everyone’s sake, this is a fight that must be fought and won – in Greater Cleveland, in Ohio, and nationally.

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Columbus Dispatch. May 22, 2022.

Editorial: Proposed laws open Ohio kids up to hateful ideology, racist conspiracies

As history has shown time and time again, racism is real and causes real harm to real people.

If two sets of GOP lawmakers have their way, Ohio’s children would be shielded from that horrible, but necessary fact and made more vulnerable to believing hateful ideology that is often easier to find online than truth.

House Bills 616 and 327 would bar teachers from discussing racism — a national sickness that officials say led to the massacre of Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young and Ruth Whitfield May 14 at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo.

House Bill 327 would also restrict how public colleges and other public entities such as police departments and libraries offer training or instructions to employees, contractors or outside groups about so-deemed “divisive concepts” such as racism, sexism, inequality and religious intolerance.

Authorities say it is clear why an 18-year-old man from a small rural town in New York injured three people and murdered Roberta, Margus, Andre, Aaron, Geraldine, Celestine, Heyward, Katherine, Pearl and Ruth — mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and friends who ranged in age from ages 32 to 86.

The suspect allegedly hates Black people and drafted a 180-page racist inspired by the Great Replacement Theory – a racist and anti-Semitic lie that there is an orchestrated plan to replace white people through immigration and interracial marriage.

Eleven of the 13 human beings law enforcement say he shot at the Tops supermarket located more than three hours away from his home were Black.

The N-word was written on the barrel modified assault rifle the shooter used in a Twitch livestream of the slaughter.

White youths left open to absorb lies about race

Last week, the News Literacy Project — a nonpartisan national education nonprofit — called on educators to help students understand racist conspiracy theories — something that would be impossible to do if House Bills 616 and 327 are approved.

“Our education system must teach young people about conspiracy theories that can lead individuals to fall for false narratives that have violent, real-world consequences. News literacy education helps people learn to think critically and gain the skills to be smart, active consumers of news and other information and engaged participants in a democracy,” the organization said as part of a statement.

Aside from restricting what kids can learn about gender and sexuality, House Bill 616 would also specifically ban Critical Race Theory, intersectional theory; The 1619 Project, diversity, equity, and inclusion and so-called inherited racial guilt from public and private schools.

Tennessee banned critical race theory in K-12 schools a year ago.

As Tonyaa Weathersbee points out for a piece for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Tennessee lawmakers should be more concerned with Great Replacement Theory than Critical Race Theory which is not even taught in schools there or here.

She writes: “Sadly, (the Buffalo) tragedy isn’t solely the result of racism and xenophobia polluting the online and social media sphere, but the effect of GOP-led culture wars that have, among other things, painted teaching about race as racism, and white students as victims of the lessons, and not the reality, of racism.

Problem is, by restricting teaching truths about race in schools under the flimsy excuse of it potentially traumatizing white students, these lawmakers leave an opening for white youths to absorb lies about race online.”

White supremacy, the true divisive concept

Teaching kids the truths of racism is not about making them feel guilty.

It is partly about informing them so they can help prevent the sins of the past from repeating and protecting them from falling for the true divisive concept — white supremacy.

It is about building a future where people are not targeted in a grocery store because they are Black.

This is not an overreaction.

There are racists, homophobes and other bigots among us, and we do not just mean members of the 20 Ohio hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified.

Unscrupulous media personalities and politicians are pushing a false narrative that white people should be afraid of the other.

Hate crimes targeting Black people jumped to 2,871 in 2020 from 1,972 the prior year, according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics report released in August. The number of such crimes against Asians increased to 279 from 161, a statistic advocates say is low due to under reporting.

Bills such as House Bill 327 and 616 make it more likely that more human beings will get caught in the cross hairs.

They must be stopped.

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Toledo Blade. May 18, 2022.

Editorial: A tale of 2 tactics

We live in a time of rapid and massive change. How Ohio institutions deal with that change is in the midst of intense debate. The key issue is who should steer the response to change, the people most affected or the people most powerful?

Two recent decisions well illustrate the two poles. The Ohio High School Athletic Association put the issue of name, image, and likeness payments, as now allowed in college athletics, in the hands of school administrators. Those leaders voted overwhelmingly to retain the prohibition against payments to players for endorsement deals.

In the state legislature meanwhile, the House State and Local Government Committee voted for passage of a bill that takes control of regulation of temporary rentals like Airbnb or VRBO, to the state level.

If the bill passed, it would pre-empt local governments from banning or regulating the frequency and time the units can be rented.

Supporters of the bill that now moves to the entire House for consideration say they are protecting private property rights. Opponents of the anti-regulation bill say it’s an assault on the home-rule provision in the Ohio constitution and will be challenged if the bill is passed into law.

Unlike the eligibility rules for Ohio high school athletes, where fairness and commonsense dictate uniformity across the state, Ohio’s multitude of local communities are vastly different and should be trusted to do best by their citizens on quality of life issues like short term rental of residential property.

Ownership rights are important and need to be protected. But so are ownership responsibilities and short term rentals that change the nature of a neighborhood, at the expense of others, is a balance best decided by those closest to the situation.

Regulation from political bodies in Columbus is efficient but ineffective.

As recognized by our leaders decades ago, Ohio is an amalgamation of many communities with vast differences and preferences, without need of uniformity in local quality of life issues.

There are places in Ohio where Airbnb or Vrbo improves existing options and would be welcomed. There are other places in Ohio where property values would be diminished if this becomes law.

Ohio lawmakers are too far removed to be knowledgeable or accountable in either instance and therefore should leave the matter to each community.

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Youngstown Vindicator. May 18, 2022.

Editorial: Early reading program helps kids get head start

In an era where we all should be finding ways to grow our children’s access to reading and learning as possible, Ohio is experiencing a victory.

Country music superstar Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, in partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Office, is thriving — and that means more kids are, too.

Early childhood development and education are essential. According to the Ohio Imagination Library website, 80% of a child’s brain has developed by age 3. And, “By the time a child enters kindergarten, they must already know thousands of words in order to succeed in the classroom. Reading aloud to a child and giving them access to books is the best way to ensure they are prepared to enter kindergarten,” the website states.

Having more books in the home means a greater chance of success. But we realize not every Ohio family has the extra financial wiggle room to fill shelves with books. Fortunately, that’s where Parton and her partners step in. Imagination Library also has been a pet project of Ohio first lady Fran DeWine.

Tens of thousands of Imagination Library books have been mailed to kids all over Ohio. Many are currently enrolled and many others have already graduated from the program, statewide.

In Mahoning County, 6,522 children are enrolled in the program out of the 12,810 kids who are eligible. In Mahoning County, the program is administered by the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

In Trumbull County, 4,213 of the county’s 11,646 eligible children are enrolled. The Trumbull County program is administered through United Way of Trumbull County.

We know the program works. In Cincinnati, for instance, where the Children’s Hospital began its partnership with the Imagination Library in 2015, children experienced a 15.4 percent rise in Kindergarten Readiness Assessment among those who participated in the program for three years. Consider the value to our own community knowing so many children have the opportunity to experience such improvement, also.

Certainly, Imagination Library deserves our support — and there is a button for donating at ohioimaginationlibrary.org — but we also must spread the word and encourage parents of all young children to enroll in this wonderful program.

Our community will be better for it.

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Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. May 17, 2022.

Editorial: Jordan should comply with subpoena

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan should meet with the congressional committee investigating the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Alas, we doubt that will happen.

The Urbana Republican, who represents portions of Lorain County, early this year turned down an opportunity to meet voluntarily with the bipartisan committee. The committee’s subpoena last week probably won’t change anything.

In a letter dated Jan. 9, Jordan bemoaned “Democrats’ nonstop investigations and partisan witch hunts.” He also called being asked to speak with the committee regarding an assault on the U.S. Capitol and democracy itself an “unprecedented and inappropriate demand.”

This from the same man who spent years politicizing the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., even admitted that the whole point of hounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Benghazi was to tank her chances of winning the presidency.

Clinton, it should be noted, had the fortitude to show up when Congress summoned her. If she could do it, surely Jordan and the other subpoenaed Republican lawmakers, including McCarthy, can do the same.

Yet they probably won’t. They have opposed any sort of investigation into the attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters that isn’t conducted on their terms. McCarthy even tried to sabotage the work of the Jan. 6 select committee by appointing Jordan to serve on it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wisely said no to that.

That’s because Jordan was deeply involved in Trump’s efforts to subvert the results of a fair and secure election, not because of any widespread fraud (there’s no evidence of that), but because he didn’t like what the American people decided.

We know Jordan forwarded a text to Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that read in part: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

Thankfully, Pence refused to go along.

We also know Jordan spoke with Trump on Jan. 6, although we don’t know what they discussed. And we know that Jordan voted against accepting the results even after the Capitol was breached.

Jordan has information that would help shed further light on an unprecedented attack on the bedrock of our nation’s democracy. The American people deserve to hear what he knows.

It’s unclear, though, whether Congress has the power to enforce a subpoena against one of its own members in a matter such as this. It’s certainly possible that the committee and the Democratic-controlled House could vote to hold Jordan and other members who refuse to testify in contempt, but this is largely untrodden ground.

If Democrats do go that route, they’re likely to end up in a court fight that drags on for months, at which point the GOP may have retaken control of the House in the midterms.

Then there’d be a real chance Republicans would use their subpoena power against Democratic lawmakers. There’s no doubt at all that they’d shut down the select committee’s work, which makes time of the essence.

Not only that, but Republicans are already gearing up for all manner of investigations designed to hurt President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.

Indeed, as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Jordan has been sending out a steady stream of letters demanding information on various topics. Naturally, this includes the limits social media companies placed on speculation about a laptop belonging to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, during the runup to the 2020 presidential election. At the time, there were real questions about the laptop’s authenticity and whether it was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Jordan also wants information on a proposed Disinformation Governance Board, Elon Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, efforts to investigate those harassing or threatening school board members and allegations that Jan. 6 protesters who worked for the FBI had their security clearances suspended.

Jordan expects everyone else to submit to his oversight, while hypocritically refusing to subject himself to legitimate scrutiny. This after insisting he had done nothing wrong.

“If they call me, I got nothing to hide,” Jordan said in July of talking to the committee.

All right, Congressman. Prove it.

The committee is waiting.

END