Editorial Roundup:

Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. April 7, 2022.

Editorial: Why did Gibbs decide to retire now?

Perhaps U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs saw the writing on the MAGA hat.

Gibbs, R-Lakeville, announced Wednesday that he would retire at the end of his current term, even though he had been seeking reelection as recently as Tuesday, when early voting began in Ohio.

Although he didn’t mention it in his announcement, Gibbs hadn’t been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Instead, Trump has endorsed one of his former aides, Max Miller of Rocky River. (In fact, Trump came to the Lorain County Fairgrounds in June in part to tout Miller’s candidacy.)

Gibbs, who represents portions of Lorain County, instead blamed the “circus” surrounding congressional redistricting for his decision.

He’s not wrong in his description of redistricting. It has been a disaster, creating unnecessary confusion for voters, candidates and elections officials.

Gibbs laid the blame for the chaos at the feet of the Ohio Supreme Court rather than where it belonged: the Republican-dominated Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The General Assembly drew a map that overly favored GOP candidates despite an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that required a map reflecting the partisan breakdown of the state.

The Supreme Court shot down the first version of the map and is now considering a second version drawn by the commission. Despite ongoing legal challenges, that map is being used in the May primary.

Unfortunately for Gibbs, a hog farmer and former Ohio Farm Bureau president, his largely rural district was almost completely redrawn and now includes the western suburbs of Cleveland. It also no longer includes any of Lorain County.

As he pointed out in his news release announcing his retirement, “almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.”

Yet we can’t help but wonder whether whom he was facing in the primary, rather than where he was running, convinced him to retire.

Miller originally intended to run against U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River, because Gonzalez voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Gonzalez decided against seeking another term following blowback from Republicans over his vote.

Under the new congressional map, Gibbs and Miller ended up in the same district, and Miller decided to keep running. Trump’s endorsement traveled with him to the new district.

That was too bad for Gibbs, who has proved to be a loyal soldier for Trump.

Gibbs voted in line with Trump’s positions 95.1 percent of the time, according to the political website FiveThirtyEight.com.

He twice voted against impeaching Trump and voted in favor of challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election even after the Capitol was stormed.

His loyalty to Trump wasn’t particularly helpful to him, though, in an altered race in which Trump already had made an endorsement.

Gibbs did, however, get a few kind words from Trump after announcing his retirement.

“I want to congratulate Congressman Bob Gibbs of Ohio on a wonderful and accomplished career,” Trump wrote. “His retirement, after serving in Congress for more than a decade, should be celebrated by all. He was a strong ally to me and MAGA, voting to support my America First agenda and fighting strongly against the Radical Left. Thank you for your service, Bob — a job well done!”

Miller still has to get through several other candidates in order to make the general election in a district that leans Republican. None of those other Republicans — Anthony Alexander, Charlie Gaddis and Jonah Schulz — has Miller’s name recognition or enjoys the backing of a former president.

The race could be further confused because Gibbs’ name will remain on the ballot.

Lorain County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams, a Democrat, told us that under state law it was too late to remove Gibbs’ name. Adams also said the law requires that a disclaimer be added whenever a candidate withdraws late in the process, noting that votes cast for him won’t be counted.

We couldn’t find any polling data on the race, but given Trump’s popularity in Ohio — he won the state by more than 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020 — we suspect that going up against a Trump-backed candidate would have been a tough fight for Gibbs.

Better to bow out now rather than risk getting blown out at the polls later.

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Youngstown Vindicator. April 5, 2022.

Editorial: Auditor’s report shows work still continuing

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber last week released the results of his department’s annual Ohio Single Audit of the state agencies that administered federally funded programs in fiscal year 2021. According to Faber’s office, the audit netted 25 findings, four questioned costs totaling more than $1.3 million, and two additional findings that included questioned costs for which amounts could not be determined.

If you are thinking that sounds like a lot, Faber’s office said this year’s audit actually included the lowest number of findings in five years. That is good news.

It also is good to see the kind of fine-toothed comb oversight that can help Ohioans feel a little more comfortable about how their money is being handled.

Part of Faber’s report highlighted a challenge that has made the past couple of years in state government even tougher.

“The combination of high claim volume, lack of effective internal controls, and the increase in impostor fraud negatively impacted the (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’) ability to keep up, creating a backlog of claims pending adjudication. The Department reported to the U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Compensation overpayments totaling $3.75 billion as of June 30, 2021. Of these total overpayments, $474.6 million was identified as fraud and $3.27 billion as non-fraud relating to regular unemployment as well as federal pandemic unemployment benefits.”

The auditor’s office seems to be on top of that, too.

Though there is always work to be done, and room for improvement, it is encouraging to know the work of state government is being carried out under such a watchful eye.

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Toledo Blade. April 9, 2022.

Editorial: County jails no place for the mentally ill

The death of Jamesiha Taylor in her cell at the Medical Unit of the Lucas County jail should never have happened. That a woman who suffered from serious mental illness couldn’t get the help she needed speaks to a systemic failure in the system. That failure must be remedied.

While the crimes Ms. Taylor was charged with horrific, a proper diagnosis of her illness, treatment for that illness, and the process of her case through the courts would have served justice. Her death does nothing to promote justice.

What her death should bring is a commitment to make beds available in state psychiatric hospitals and remove a burden from local jails that are ill–suited to helping inmates with severe mental illnesses.

Ms. Taylor was arrested in January on charges that she repeatedly stabbed her two children. A common pleas judge found her incompetent to stand trial and ordered her into the custody of the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital.

It’s in Toledo.

She never made it there.

She died in her cell on March 25.

Why couldn’t she get to a hospital not far away?

There were no beds available. It’s a persistent problem, according to Lucas County Sheriff Mike Navarre. So the county jail is thrust into a role it has no capability to meet.

The psychiatric hospital, too, struggles in its job. It’s the psychiatric facility for 23 counties. The hospital holds 114 beds. It’s not enough. It might not be politically popular to spend funds on inmates with psychiatric problems. Spending those funds to remedy the backlog is the right thing to do.

Ohio is not the only state at fault, it’s a problem in many states. The number of available beds isn’t sufficient for the need. On a local level there is some reason for hope.

The Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board has helped with funding for a 16-bed facility on the psychiatric hospital’s campus, as reported by The Blade’s Ellie Buerk.

Yet this remains a state problem that must be fixed by the state.

The state of Ohio must assure that inmates with a need for psychiatric treatment at a state facility get into a state hospital promptly for treatment. Those inmates cannot be left to languish in a county jail. County jails shouldn’t be forced into the position of caring for inmates with severe mental illness. Local jails are not trained to care for such inmates and lack the resources to care for those inmates.

Justice means fairness. It is not fair for a person in need of psychiatric help to die in jail because the state can’t provide proper care for such an individual.

Mental illness should not be a death sentence. Jamesiha Taylor’s death must bring changes to the way Ohio handles mentally ill inmates.

Ohio must assure adequate beds and care are available at state hospitals for those inmates who need psychiatric help.

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Columbus Dispatch. April 10, 2022.

Editorial: Let Ohio teachers teach truth. Educators, kids casualties of raging culture war

Lawmakers want you to worry about imaginary “perverts.”

Teachers come with a variety of political leanings and by and large do the work because they want to make a positive impact in their students’ lives.

They are our neighbors, friends and family members, not enemies with nefarious goals of turning kids into so-called woke liberals.

You would not know that from the ever-expanding list of corrosive bills currently in the Ohio General Assembly aimed at restricting the work of a group of trained professionals hit hard with stress, fear and in some cases threats of or actual physical violence during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here in Ohio, the latest insult to education and learning is House Bill 616, which would suppress what teachers can teach kids about the LGBTQ community, racism and history.

How is teaching harsh truths being attacked?

The partly copycat, us against them legislation would ban teachers from discussing racism much like House Bill 327, a GOP assault on so-called “divisive concepts” that, as it reads, would include issues such as slavery and discrimination and the fact that 11 million people — 6 million of them Jews — were exterminated by the Nazis.

That last historical truth is something that House Bill 327 co-sponsor Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur, R-Ashtabula, apparently did not grasp during a March Zoom interview with WEWS News 5 Cleveland.

As part of comments that demonstrate she perhaps would be served by a history lesson, Fowler Arthur said “hundreds of thousands of people (were murdered) for having a different color of skin.”

The Nazis persecuted Jews not because of the color of their skin, but due to a list of reasons that included antisemitism, wild conspiracies and “prejudice that linked the Jews to monetary power and financial gain,” according to the Anne Frank House.

Equally as troubling, Fowler Arthur — a former Ohio Board of Education member who was home-schooled — suggested the point-of-view of a “German solider” (a Nazi) should be weighed with those of a Jewish survivor when studying the Holocaust.

There are multiple sides in history. In this case and many others, they are not equal.

House Bill 327 — which could also have major implications for public libraries and how public agencies offer diversity and inclusion training and programs — and House Bill 322 have received much attention as part of discussions of the supposed teaching of Critical Race Theory.

The latter reads like legislation proposed around the nation. It says nothing can be taught that makes an individual “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s race or sex,” among many other things.

That is an affront to learning and teachers.

History is often uncomfortable and unpleasant, but do we really think so little of our educators that we think they would do things to make kids feel psychological distress or guilt?

Why is House Bill 616 a dangerous solution in search of a problem?

As part of House Bill 616, teachers would be prohibited from providing instructional material on sexual orientation and gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grades.

They would be barred from teaching those in fourth through 12th grades “in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

While simultaneously arguing the bill should not be called “Don’t Say Gay” — the nickname opponents gave the Florida law Ohio’s bill is partly modeled after — some have questioned the morals of those who teach children about LGBTQ issues.

There seems to be a high level of confusion about what occurs in Ohio’s classrooms as illustrated by a recent tweet from Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, who is sponsoring House Bill 616 with Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland.

“Why are Democrats and the media upset about a bill that prevents curriculum about sex and gender identity being taught to 6-year-olds? Help me understand,” he wrote.

Twitter users @StephanieBumpus responded, “Ok, we will make it simple for you. We aren’t. Wanna know why? It’s not a thing. Wanna know how we know? We asked teachers.”

Like the other wedge issue bills stoking fear of “the other,” 616 is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist.

Neither sexual orientation nor gender identity curriculum is required in Ohio sex education (health education) classes, according to a state analysis by Sex Ed For Social Change and the Ohio Department of Education’s website.

Sex education of any kind is very limited for those in grades K-3. What older kids learn about their bodies varies from district to district, but abstinence is a constant for sexual health education.

Meanwhile, Ohio has real problems that are being sidestepped and ignored.

While lawmakers worry about imaginary “perverts” teaching kids about the real topic of gender, a bill has stalled that would require that child sexual abuse prevention be taught in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms and sexual violence prevention in grades 7-12.

Parents should and do have a say in what their kids learn. They can opt kids of any age out of all or any part of health education including those about important topics such as sexually transmitted disease prevention.

Instead of protecting kids, passage of 616 would put a larger target on the backs of LGBTQ youth and erase anything that would broaden understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people from schools.

“My interpretation is there can be no books of any kind that deal with any LGBTQ+ issues,” Ohio State Board of Education member Christina Collins said as part of a Dispatch article.

Teaching is among America’s most undervalued yet critically important professions. It should not become a casualty of the culture war raging in our Statehouse and others.

Ohio children — the state’s future — deserve to know the truth.

These bills would disrupt teachers’ ability to do what they are trained to do: teach.

Let’s leave them to the job they love and are more than qualified to do.

Let’s put kids before politics.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer. April 10, 2022.

Editorial: John Cranley in the Democratic primary for Ohio governor: endorsement editorial

Two impressive Democratic candidates for Ohio governor -- former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley -- are asking Democratic voters in the May 3 primary to advance them to the November ballot.

Then, both hope to execute a minor political miracle by winning the governor’s job despite Ohio’s 64-year-old record of returning incumbent Republican governors to office. The last time a seated Republican seeking re-election was defeated was in 1958, before either Whaley or Cranley was born.

But 2022 isn’t a normal political year. Instead of waltzing onto the November general election ballot in his bid for re-election, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine faces three GOP challengers in the May 3 primary, including former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Reason: An upswell of dissatisfaction from the party’s right wing about DeWine’s unpopular decisions to impose COVID-19 quarantines and mandates, including school closures and the election-eve delay of the 2020 primary. Never mind that DeWine’s actions showed leadership and saved lives.

DeWine is paying the price for his pandemic stewardship -- including, it appears, through his retreat to a more tentative, go-along style of governing. That, in turn, may offer hope to the Democrats.

Yet, should either Cranley or Whaley capture the governorship Nov. 8, he or she will almost certainly be confronted with a Republican-run General Assembly that has no reason to advance a Democratic governor’s program.

Those factors pose key questions in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary election. Is Whaley or Cranley likelier to be the GOP nominee’s stronger foe? And is Cranley or Whaley likelier the better at deal-making with Republicans?

In a close call, our editorial board’s endorsement goes to Cranley, 48, with his record of success and inclusivity guiding a robust Cincinnati economic recovery as the city’s mayor for the last eight years, working with a politically divided City Council. His tenure included a remarkable turnaround in police-community relations, which, among other consequences, has earned Cranley the backing of the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. of Cleveland.

Cranley, who as a young lawyer co-founded the Ohio Innocence Project, which has won the release of 34 wrongly convicted persons, also has the pulse of the potentially biggest issue for independents and moderate Republicans in November -- DeWine’s mishandling of the House Bill 6 scandal and the compromised Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Cranley has vowed to fire the PUCO’s five commissioners if he becomes governor and to oversee a revamp to make the commission more responsive, transparent and consumer-friendly.

Cranley emphasizes bipartisan issues, such as legalizing marijuana and using the resulting tax revenue to help fund 30,000 well-paying jobs in road, broadband and energy projects. (Prospects for legalization by the legislature are such that might require a ballot issue.)

Whaley, 46, the immediate past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, also has an impressive record as Dayton mayor for the last eight years, including during the 2019 mass shooting that took nine lives -- and caused her to work with DeWine on a package of gun measures that never passed.

She points to her work bolstering her city’s recovery in tough economic circumstances and her success advancing early-childhood education as an avenue to more prosperous lives that has drawn national attention.

And there’s this: Neither major party has ever nominated a woman for governor of Ohio. Her nomination would change that and potentially give Democrats an edge in November, she said.

With the Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe v. Wade next year, Ohio women and girls will also need a strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights in the governor’s mansion, she argued -- noting she’s a lifelong supporter of reproductive choice (Cranley hasn’t been).

Whaley also vowed to address the state’s uneven geographic distribution of economic opportunity, saying that Ohioans who want to stay in mid-sized cities like Dayton or rural communities shouldn’t be told that “they need to move to Columbus.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, backs Whaley’s candidacy.

Both Whaley and Cranley are worthy candidates, but Cranley’s record as Cincinnati’s mayor and the range and creativity of his proposals promise a better chance in November, and a better outcome in the governor’s office.

Ohio’s Democrats should elect John Cranley as their nominee for Ohio governor in the May 3 primary. Early voting has begun.

END