Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Red flag to pink slip
The Toledo Blade
Gov. Mike DeWine has been clear about what is necessary to improve gun laws in Ohio and make the public safer. He was clear as a candidate, even though it meant contradicting the National Rifle Association that endorsed him. He has been clear since he took office in January.
Ohio needs meaningful gun-safety legislation, including a "red-flag" provision that allows authorities to take guns away from those deemed to be dangerous. The governor has said so.
And yet, Mr. DeWine is now proposing a diluted version of his previous proposal — literally diluting his plan from a red-flag bill to a "pink-slip" bill.
He does this, the governor admits, because this is what he can get passed in the Ohio General Assembly.
That is the truth. It is political reality. But it is shame.
Instead of mandatory background checks and a red-flag law, the governor now proposes a package of legislation that would allow someone who wants to buy a gun to proactively get a certificate good for 90 days from a county sheriff indicating he or she passed a background check that could then be shown to a seller. There would be no mandate that a seller request to see such a certificate, but a seller who still sells to someone who is legally prohibited from having a gun could be guilty of a third-degree felony.
The governor also proposed expanding Ohio's existing pink-slip law — which allows the mentally ill to be detained for up to 72 hours, and at least temporarily separate them from their guns — to include those in the throes of drug or alcohol addiction. But the measure does not create a system through which courts could temporarily take guns from unstable or violent people.
Advocates who had hoped Governor DeWine would deliver meaningful gun-law reform were disappointed. Some, like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, say their disappointment is tempered by the fact that at least the governor's proposal is an incremental step forward.
Others, like Moms Demand Action, are less generous. "The gaps in our gun laws are still just as deadly as they were in August," the group said, referring to the August mass shooting that killed nine and wounded 27 others in Dayton.
They're right. But the governor is right about political reality.
Polls show again and again that the public overwhelmingly supports reasonable reforms, including red-flag bills and better background checks.
So why is it that the governor cannot get those popular, common-sense reforms through the General Assembly?
Too many of Ohio's lawmakers have lost the capacity to distinguish between genuine affronts to Second Amendment freedoms and common-sense reforms that help protect the public. They are not listening to constituents who can see the difference.
As Mr. DeWine's predecessor, John Kasich, learned, gun-reform legislation that cannot get through the General Assembly accomplishes nothing. In that regard, at least Mr. DeWine's weakened proposal stands a chance of doing something.
Let's take what we can and keep working on changing political reality, and legislative minds and hearts.
But Ohioans deserve effective legislation that actually makes them safer in their communities.
Hyperloop could bring new options
Is it an amazing way to create new regionalization and improved economic development?
Or is it nothing but a pie-in-the-sky waste of money?
No one can say for sure yet, but we think the possibility of a northeast Ohio "hyperloop" — a high-speed passenger and / or cargo train — is certainly worth exploring.
More analysis is needed about the possible development of this Great Lakes Hyperloop System for the Erie / Sandusky area, and now the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, or NOACA, has partnered with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies to conduct a $1.3 million feasibility study for developing a Hyperloop corridor route from Chicago to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for America's first multistate hyperloop system in the Great Lakes Megaregion.
Imagine, if it goes forward, the route could pass through the Youngstown-Warren region, making the Mahoning Valley a pivot point for the first multi-state system in the nation.
Yes, it sounds like a lot of money for such a futuristic plan, but certainly detailed research is needed before even larger investment decisions can be made.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars already have been committed to the project. NOACA's Board of Directors has awarded a $550,029 contract to Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS) for the Great Lakes Hyperloop Feasibility Study to evaluate the feasibility of an ultra-high-speed Hyperloop passenger and freight transport system initially linking Cleveland and Chicago.
NOACA's portion of the study is funded through commitments from the Cleveland Foundation, ODOT, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission and NOACA.
If the massive project is approved, it would cover a Great Lakes Megaregion representing a $15 billion transportation market with tens of millions of tons of cargo and millions of passengers connecting to the cities within the region — including those here in the Mahoning Valley — every year.
Supporters of the idea say technologies like Hyperloop can take outdated infrastructures through the 21st century and even beyond with airplane speeds at ground level, safely. Passengers and cargo capsules will hover through a network of low-pressure tubes at the speed of 700 mph through propulsion and magnetic accelerators between cities and transforming travel time from hours to minutes.
The Cleveland to Chicago route is expected to be 28 minutes in travel time.
It sounds crazy, we know. But this could be the future! Imagine what this could mean for economic development, local businesses and developable land. Suddenly, the term "location, location, location" can take on even broader new meaning.
NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci said Hyperloop brings much more than just speed and efficiency. "It opens our region to the rest of the Midwest, connecting us all in a network of technology, resources, people and jobs."
Really, can that be a bad thing?
Paying college athletes for endorsements
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Defying the NCAA, California has become the first state to legalize cash payments to college athletes for endorsement deals, starting in 2023. The move -- which prohibits California universities from barring such deals -- has kick-started a national conversation and a flurry of similar legislative bids. Besides Florida, add Illinois and Pennsylvania to the list, and in Ohio, State Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland has said she and other lawmakers are discussing similar legislation.
Reaction from Ohio State University, where athletic director Gene Smith co-chairs an NCAA committee on legislation, was swift. Smith condemned the move by states to get out ahead of the NCAA on this and said OSU would not schedule games with colleges in states that implement such legislation.
Smith called instead for national legislation, seconded by U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, a former star OSU athlete, who said he personally supports such endorsement deals.
Smith told cleveland.com's Nathan Baird that his committee will be sending its report to the NCAA board Oct. 29, but it's not clear what it will recommend, and it's likely to be a while before any recommendations might surface in a consensus policy recommendation.
Meanwhile, cleveland.com columnist Doug Lesmerises called a technical on Smith and the NCAA, writing that college athletic endorsements are inevitable, with the NCAA sure to go along in the end.
A couple years ago, former OSU athlete Chris Spielman sued over his likeness being used by OSU; he's since settled with OSU, but the litigation was widened and appears to still be pending against other defendants.
Spielman's move prompted cleveland.com columnist Ted Diadiun to write it was high time elite athletes stopped being exploited by universities and started getting paid for their labors. Our editorial board also editorialized that the time had come to talk about compensating college athletes.
So are cash endorsement deals inevitable? Are they a wise idea? And what could be the consequences for college sports?
Society suffers when women endure inequality, even as the majority
The Columbus Dispatch
In what world does it make sense for a certain segment of society to be better educated but not fare as well financially as other segments?
Similarly, does it make any sense at all for people who live in adjacent counties in the same state to have wildly different rates on indicators of health and well-being?
That doesn't make sense to us, but The Dispatch appreciates, with dismay, that in too many ways, women are still second-class citizens, as demonstrated in findings of a new study by the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland, reported by Catherine Candisky in Monday's Dispatch.
And here is a clue as to why women might continue to fare worse than men: Women still hold far fewer elective offices than men even though they are the majority gender in Ohio as well as in the nation. While women outnumber men, they hold just a third of elective offices, the report notes.
More research likely is needed to explain why women's experiences vary so greatly from one Ohio county to the next, as the report showed in comparing two central Ohio neighboring counties, Delaware and Marion. Marion County women have three times the poverty rate and nearly seven times the teen birth rate of Delaware County.
Also troubling is that even where Ohio women have high rates of insurance coverage and enjoy good access to health care, such as in Franklin County, they still suffer high rates of cervical cancer diagnoses in late stages, carrying the highest risk of death.
Our prescription to help correct these inequities is simple: Women, take a page from the male playbook and look out for No. 1, and by that, we mean yourself.
Women's natural tendency may be to nurture others, but they will greatly improve their chances to lift all boats if they focus first on exercising their political muscle relative to their population majority and take care of themselves with the same intensity that they devote to others.