Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Cleveland Plain Dealer. May 30, 2021.

Editorial: Honor our fallen but also remember those who mourn them still, or still feel the guilt

Memorial Day -- that hallowed day when we remember and honor the men and increasingly women who gave their lives in service during hundreds of years of U.S. wars -- carries special burdens for some who didn’t die in combat.

The survivor’s guilt for wartime comrades who came home thinking, “Why them, not me?”-- guilt that can last a lifetime and contribute to combat veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder. The special heartache felt by loved ones who can never again hold, see, grow old with their fallen family members -- the baby boy who will never know his father; the spouse whose marriage seemed but a blink of an eye before war ended it; the mother who could never -- and who never did -- stop grieving.

When remembering our fallen warriors tomorrow, take a moment to think about all those who may still suffer the guilt, grief, personal loss. Visit the Cleveland Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 10701 East Boulevard, dedicated in 2018, or the Gold Star Families Memorial on Columbia Road in York Township in Medina County, dedicated in 2016.

The veteran behind these Gold Star Families monuments and scores of others around the country is 97-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving World War II Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor. Giving back. Remembering. Honoring.

In a February 2020 article on military.com about Williams and other Marine survivors of the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima meeting to mark the battle’s 75th anniversary, Williams described the indescribable. He spoke about what he felt when he later learned that two of the four Marine riflemen covering him in 1945 as he repeatedly advanced on enemy positions to disable them with flamethrowers and other arms -- the subject of his Medal of Honor -- had died in the effort.

“Once I found out that this happened, this Medal of Honor took on a different significance,” Williams said, as quoted by Richard Sisk of military.com. “I said, from that point on, it does not belong to me. It belongs to them. I wear it in their honor. I keep it shined for them, because there is no greater sacrifice than when someone sacrifices their life for you and me.”

Honoring. Remembering. Giving back.

When the Cleveland Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was about to be dedicated nearly three years ago, Sheila Nowacki -- whose 24-year-old son, Andrew “Ace” Nowacki, a Marine lance corporal, was killed in Iraq in 2005 -- told Plain Dealer reporter Brian Albrecht of the comfort the monument would give her. Not just because it would help others remember and honor her son, but also because they could do so in company with the Gold Star families, grieving together for their lost loved ones.

Many of us have holes in our family trees -- the uncle, the cousin, the in-law who never married, who never had a chance to live a full life because of war. Think about them tomorrow. But even more of us, if we look closely enough, have forebears, possibly including fathers and grandfathers, scarred by their experiences of combat -- by seeing comrades die, by feeling somehow unworthy in surviving where so many others fell. These are injuries both visible and invisible.

As the nation marked the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War a decade ago, volunteers in Bath Township in Summit County researched the township’s nearly 150 Civil War veterans. Bath Township Museum Administrator Lee Darst told The Plain Dealer’s Elizabeth Sullivan at the time that the number of local veterans wasn’t surprising -- comparable to other townships that had to meet a “volunteer” quota during the four years of the war.

But what did surprise her and the other researchers, she said, was “how many of the men never married or never had children.” Some adopted, but Darst speculated that either the trauma of the war itself, or the rampant diseases to which the soldiers were exposed, or both, “profoundly impacted these veterans’ lives.”

Remembering. Giving back. Honoring.

So tomorrow, amid the parades, visits to the graves of loved ones, family outings or barbecues, take time to honor and remember all our nation’s fallen. But also give some thought to the contingent casualties of their sacrifices, to recall in their full scope the trauma and losses of all our wars and fallen warriors.

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Columbus Dispatch. May 28, 2021.

Editorial: Lawmakers flash ‘shiny objects’ instead of doing real work

Sometimes the answer to a question comes down to shiny objects.

A shiny object can be a great distraction that might appear valuable but often is nothing but cheap glass that isn’t worth the cost.

The appeal of shiny objects helps explain the relentless, shameless pandering by Republican lawmakers who have put forth another pile of unnecessary bills – once again demonstrating that they are determined to waste valuable time and ignore issues that really affect Ohioans.

Take new eye-rolling bills from by Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, aimed at preventing the state or local governments from closing licensed firearm sellers during a statewide emergency declared by the governor.

It should come as no surprise that the bills are supported by the Buckeye Firearms Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Rifle Association, which is pushing similar legislation around the country.

It also should come as no surprise that the bills are big fat nothing burgers that address “problems” that don’t exist. They build up a straw man, huff and puff, knock him down and act like they’ve done something good for society.

No one is seriously trying to take anyone’s gun in Ohio, even if there is good reason to keep guns out of the wrong hands to protect the public.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican, did not restrict access to firearms during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohioans couldn’t always find toilet paper or hand sanitizer last year, but they could find guns and ammo even though poll after poll still shows that most people support sensible gun control measures.

Ninety percent of Ohio voters who took part in a 2019 Quinnipiac Poll supported universal gun background checks.

Gun violence and gun sales rose here and nationwide in 2020. More than 110 million guns were sold in the U.S. in 2020, up from nearly 100 million in 2019, according to Small Arms Analytics.

The Schaffer and Wiggam bills come after the decidedly ill-equipped General Assembly gave itself the right to change or revoke the state’s public health orders and as lawmakers in the supposedly pro-business-rights Republican Party push bills that would control how business owners deal with the pandemic and vaccinations.

All of these bills are unnecessary. Some of them are dangerous and potentially deadly.

They include an effort to block vaccination requirements as a condition of returning to work or school and moves to require unvaccinated people to wear masks, be relegated to separate areas or face other punishments.

Under pending legislation, private and public employers would be barred from requiring vaccinations, and workers could not be fired for refusing them.

And there is a push to thwart the governor’s Vax-a-Million drawings program, which is prompting hesitant people to get vaccinated and helping us all in the effort to return to the normalcy lawmakers say they want.

Not every shiny object being passed around the Statehouse relates to the pandemic, but they are still shiny objects.

Two bills working their way through the legislature would ban transgender girls from joining female college and high school sports teams.

The issue is hot nationally, but the “need” for a fix is completely overblown. Transgender athletes are not storming locker rooms.

Setting the science aside, the Williams Institute at The University of California, Los Angeles says there are 1.4 million trans adults amid a U.S. population of nearly 330 million. Roughly 150,000 of 13- to 17-year-olds in the nation identify as trans.

At the same time, more than 1 million people in Ohio alone have contracted coronavirus, and nearly 20,000 of our fellow Ohioans died from it. Far too few of our maskless lawmakers jumped to address that very real public health crisis.

There is a long list of important issues lawmakers should be addressing that would help high school and college students as we emerge from the pandemic: school funding, rising tuition, teacher retention and the digital divide for starters.

Instead, GOP lawmakers have focused on trans kids and have joined the national fight against teaching critical race theory, which sees racism as a systematic issue.

It is easy to jump on bandwagons and rile up constituents with hyperbole and inflated talking points.

Addressing issues that will move the state forward takes imagination, courage, and leadership.

Lawmakers must throw out the shiny objects and get to work on matters that are truly important to Ohioans.

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Toledo Blade. May 29, 2021.

Editorial: Helping new farmers

This country, and this state, need farmers.

We should do all we can to encourage those trying to become farmers — especially family farmers — corporate farms will take care of themselves. Family farmers usually become an integral part of a community. It’s a tough, expensive, and low profit margin business. That business also puts food on our tables.

There’s a bill that just made it out of an Ohio House committee that could help new farmers out. House Bill 95 is moving slowly and has failed to garner enough support for passage in past versions. This time should be different.

The bill’s provisions can motivate folks interested in tilling the land or raising livestock to get through those first critical years.

The bill proposes a tax credit for beginning farmers. It will encourage beginning farmers to learn more about financial management. Importantly, the bill creates a credit for established farmers selling or renting equipment to new farmers.

The credits under the current bill would be limited to a total of $10 million over six years, a reasonable sum that will allow the program to be evaluated before increasing the credits.

The bill sets out some requirements to vet the award of the credits. Included is a beginning farmer certification by state agriculture officials or an equivalent federal certification.

Agricultural workers in general, and most certainly farmers, are among the forgotten producers in our society. That forgetfulness of those who grow and harvest the fruit of the earth, imperils all Ohioans, and all Americans. With the exception of water, nothing is more crucial to a stable society and a happy and healthy society, than the availability of food.

The coronavirus shortages of many foodstuffs reminded us of the delicate nature of our food supply. It’s a good reminder to think about where those beef and pork roasts, potatoes and ears of corn came from.

Ohio should support those willing to take a stab at farming, whether they come from an agricultural background or not. The bill not only provides the tax credit but an incentive to learn about the difficult task of making a living while farming.

It’s a good piece of legislation that the General Assembly should pass.

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Youngstown Vindicator. May 27, 2021.

Editorial: Bill aims to hide the truth from Ohio’s students

One has to wonder what playbook lawmakers in several states have been following this year, as similar themes are being presented across the country in what looks to be an effort to prevent states from making progress in the areas of communication, education and social justice.

In Ohio, state Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Chesterland, is trying to drum up support for a proposal in the state legislature that would prohibit “teaching or advocating divisive concepts.” It is just as frightening and nauseating an effort as the one that died in West Virginia’s legislature a couple of months ago.

According to the Ohio Capital Journal, Grendell’s request for cosponsors says the legislation would ensure state education systems and “state entities” would be prohibited from “creating feelings of discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress in individuals on account of his or her race, color, nationality, or sex.”

What, precisely, is Grendell hoping will not be taught in schools? And whose egos is Grendell trying to protect?

Does Grendell want to keep our children from learning about the toll taken on the native population when Europeans first visited this part of the continent, slavery, the unfinished battle for women’s rights, migrant and immigration issues, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II? The list of things teachers might be afraid to examine with their students is a long one.

Why is Grendell so willing to play fast and loose with the First Amendment in legislating what people can discuss?

Thoughtful Buckeye State lawmakers who understand this bill is the very definition of “cancel culture,” and an evil attempt to keep our students and state employees from talking about the WHOLE truth in our nation’s history, will steer clear.

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Sandusky Register. May 29, 2021.

Editorial: State hampering reform

If the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties — or what’s left of it — had a favorite poem, it likely would be Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”

Both counties, in the last few weeks, voted to abolish the board, but some board members and the agency’s director seem unwilling, just yet, to accept the decision. We think they should.

It is not as if this was a sudden development. It’s actually been years that commissioners in Erie County have been asking for accountability from this board. Snubbed would be the polite way to describe the response they have gotten, for years, from this board. No courtesy, let alone accountability.

We’re disappointed, too, with the state director’s response to the decision. Commissioners from both counties agreed to a date of July 30 for dissolving the board and transferring its financial obligations for successor agencies. It is a workable solution thoughtfully developed.

There’s a strong sense of urgency to get this done by both boards of commissioners, according to Erie County commissioner Matt Old. Both boards voted unanimously to approve the end of June date after holding public hearings. It’s “a well-thought-out, comprehensive plan,” he said, and we tend to agree.

And, certainly, Lori Criss, the state’s mental health director, hasn’t been helpful up to this point. There’s no reason to believe she’ll be more helpful going forward.

We hope she and the governor reconsider this position. Getting out of the way would be more helpful, given the circumstances. The state’s not going to fix this problem. Local people will.

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