Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

Smart students and phones, petty partisan beefs

The Columbus Dispatch

Sept. 28

Hats off to the student journalists at the Ohio State University Lantern for making the right call on continued reporting of contentious public protests. They’ve endured pepper spray from police who disregarded their status as working journalists as well as protesters’ pleas not to identify those involved in public demonstrations. These lessons will serve them for a lifetime.

A two-year partisan standoff over whether and how the Franklin County Board of Elections should educate local voters on polling protocol is finally over. First Republicans on the elections board and then the all-Democrat Franklin County commissioners balked, with the resolution barely beating the clock. Voter outreach efforts finally agreed to by Commissioners John O’Grady and Marilyn Brown will come just as voter registration for the Nov. 3 general election ends next Monday and early voting begins Oct. 6.

Regardless of whose signs are swiped, it is never OK in the USA for anyone to take down political signs properly posted on someone’s personal property. The report last week of a Marysville police officer’s son allegedly bragging on social media about stealing Joe Biden signs makes the behavior even more repugnant. The impact intended just might backfire, though, with indications it primarily served to fire up Democrats.

We call it a win-win-win for Columbus Public Health to be working with Denison University and other local colleges via internships that expand students’ view of career options, which is win No. 1. Wins 2 and 3 are the health department gets smart new input and the community benefits from the interns’ and their professors’ work, such as exploring racism in public health.

We probably didn’t need a study of 495 Portuguese young adults to confirm that “nomophobia” is a real thing — you know, the anxiety that accompanies a missing or dead smart phone. But now we’d like to see Ana-Paula Correia, an associate OSU professor, take her research to the next level: determining whether obsessive-compulsive behavior causes extra smartphone use or the other way around. Parents everywhere want to know.

Just when we got totally comfy working in our PJs, city governments across Ohio are increasingly uncomfortable about what COVID-19-induced work-at-home practices could be doing to their budgets. Pending efforts to undo a temporary law allowing cities to continue collecting income taxes from workers who don’t cross municipal boundaries for their jobs could create a $306 million annual loss for Ohio’s six biggest cities. The challenges are pending in two bills in the Ohio General Assembly and a Franklin County Common Pleas lawsuit.

Good for brothers Ray and Tim Tesner to have had the blessing to be able to work together in OhioHealth operating rooms for 35 years, Ray as a sports-medicine orthopedic surgeon and Tim as a surgical technician. Even better that Tim, who grew up deaf, has had the opportunity to teach other physicians and medical staff members a bit of sign language to facilitate their OR work. When you’re good at what you do, showing trumps telling.



The Cleveland presidential debate - what do Greater Clevelanders care about?

Clevland Plain Dealer

Sept. 26

The presidential debates between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden kick off in Cleveland Tuesday, but will this first debate focus on topics that are top of mind to Greater Clevelanders? And will it, or can it, be substantive, or just more campaign hot air?

Beyond local jobs and the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, violence and race, and voting integrity -- all on the agenda for questioning Tuesday, as outlined in a broad list of topics by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News -- Northeast Ohioans likely worry about other things. Among them: access to health care; educational equity and college affordability; the future of the Great Lakes amid climate change; and the fate of Social Security and Medicare as Ohio’s population ages.

Wallace provided his topic list to the Commission on Presidential Debates Tuesday. The specific questions will not be shared prior to the debate, which starts in Cleveland at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Here are the topics:

(asterisk) The Trump and Biden records.

(asterisk) The Supreme Court.

(asterisk) The COVID-19 coronavirus.

(asterisk) The economy

(asterisk) Race and violence in the cities,

(asterisk) The integrity of the election.

Those six topics for the first debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments.

Within those topics, what issues could or should be raised of immediate concern in the Cleveland area? What specific questions do we hope Chris Wallace puts to Trump and Biden that may elicit more than just campaign rhetoric? What does our Editorial Board Roundtable want to hear debated most pressingly Tuesday, or in future debates? And what’s our forecast about how substantive and useful -- and how likely to change minds -- the debate will be?



It’s vital we make broadband access for all a priority

The Vindicator

Sept. 27

Broadband connectivity is just as critical to our livelihoods and our economy these days as the infrastructure that brings other utilities into our homes and businesses. Let’s face it: It’s virtually impossible to conduct business or educate our youth without fast internet access and Wi-Fi service.

And the need doesn’t stop there. Health care access and counseling now often are being done via the internet. Seemingly overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic has ramped up further accessibility needs for everyone. These days, local government meetings and our children’s classes are being conducted via Zoom. And let’s not forget social and entertainment activities, shopping or just basic information access often requires broadband internet.

We are pleased, therefore, to read that local school districts have been awarded more than $2 million in grants to help make connecting possible for all students. The Ohio Department of Education announced this month that Mahoning Valley school districts received $2,725,908 in Broadband Ohio Connectivity grant awards from CARES Act funds. Statewide, $50 million was distributed to Ohio schools for the purpose of improving internet connectivity.

Dozens of schools and school districts in Trumbull and Mahoning counties that applied have received tens of thousands of dollars each for use, in part, to ensure that students are connected to their teachers online, whether they are attending classes in their regular school buildings, are attending classes in buildings only a few days per week or are fully online.

Now it is up to these schools to ensure the funds are spent properly and that it is benefiting the students who need it most in order to complete assignments, appropriately research online sources and easily access their teachers.

But let’s be clear. These funds should be considered only a start to the looming problem of a lack of high-speed internet access that exists in many rural parts of our county.

Some districts, like Youngstown City Schools, are using the funds to connect students through hotspots. While this is a quick way to start, really this is just a temporary way to fix a problem that is so much bigger. And hotspots are not always the answer — particularly in rural areas where cellular service is spotty.

Sadly, even in the year 2020, many, many residents and even businesses in our local communities have no access to high-speed internet — not because they can’t afford it or don’t want it, but because it simply is not available to them. Statewide, more than 1 million Ohioans have no connectivity.

An Ohio House bill sponsored by a local legislator is taking aim at the problem, hoping to provide funding that could help.

Ohio House Bill 13, known as the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Michael J. O’Brien of Warren, would help move Ohio forward in this regard. The bill passed the House this summer and now is in committee in the Ohio Senate, and O’Brien said the bill already has support of Gov. Mike DeWine. If it passes as is, it would establish a $20 million fund per year to provide internet service to areas of the state with limited or no broadband access. It would create an Ohio Broadband Extension Authority board to determine which projects would be funded annually.

The bill is a step forward on this very important issue that needs a focused plan. We encourage bipartisan support of HB 13 in the Senate. Certainly, in this 21st century, a choice to live or set up business away from the hubbub of the city should not mean your online access to the rest of the world is eliminated.

Indeed, access to information and educational tools via broadband should be available to all. Life today depends on it.



Area needs realistic rules for Halloween

The Warren Tribune Chronicle

Sept. 28

“At least there will be no shortage of masks,” so goes one joke about Halloween 2020.

It will be upon us in just a few weeks. And, while it may not seem a priority to many in government at all levels, it needs to be addressed.

Halloween rivals Christmas in some ways in popularity among children. Each October, they delight in dressing up and ringing doorbells or knocking on doors, greeting people with, “Trick or treat!”

We adults — many of us, anyway — enjoy seeing them. Is that Joey from down the street behind that superhero mask? Is that Susie from school dressed up as Cinderella? Take another handful of candy, kids.

How do we explain to the children that this year is different — or that there will be no Halloween this time?

Officials in some local and state governments have begun thinking about the situation. Some in local governments, especially many Mahoning Valley municipalities, already have been discussing it. Saying it’s the holiday about which he receives the most phone calls, Girard Mayor James Melfi recently said he and other area mayors have been discussing what to do about Halloween trick or treat this year.

Melfi noted at a public meeting earlier this month that plans still are being worked out for trick-or-treating during this coronavirus pandemic, but that it looks like it will be a drive-thru event with items placed in the trunks of vehicles and kids staying inside the cars.

Lordstown officials were the first in the Valley to decide last week to cancel trick or treat in their village.

Members of the local Mahoning Valley Mayor’s Association are discussing options and receiving help from the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The Ohio Department of Health also has released a list of recommendations. It’s not ordering, at least yet, that trick-or-treating should not be permitted this year. Obviously, activities such as hayrides and haunted houses should be avoided, the agency suggests.

At some point, all localities will have to make decisions. Setting times and dates for trick-or-treating falls to them.

Our suggestion is this: Many parents will allow their children to go trick-or-treating, whether the activity is sanctioned or not. Count on it. That may be taking a chance with COVID-19, but rest assured, it will happen. It will be up to individual households to decide whether their children dress up and hit the street. Our advice on that is to be very, very careful.

For many households, especially those including older people, answering the door on Halloween will not be a good idea. Perhaps setting a bowl of candy outside and watching the kids from a window is an option.

But local and state governments, recognizing that Halloween is going to happen, should release realistic guidelines on it, designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. The sooner that is done, the better.

And, of course, don’t forget to wear your mask.



Wear a mask, keep kids on field

The Marietta Times

Sept. 26

When you get into a car, you buckle your seat belt, don’t you.

For the vast majority of drivers, that is done for two reasons — it makes us safer, but it also keeps us from receiving a citation and fine.

We don’t give it a second thought. It is smart and it is the law — and following that law lets us keep driving without fear of penalty.

Why, then, do so many have a problem following the rules when it comes to wearing masks at school sporting events in Ohio?

Forget for a moment that wearing a mask is simply the right thing to do in terms of common sense and common decency — it is also what keeps those sporting events possible for our kids.

“This rule has been in effect since we were told we could play,” said Marietta City Schools Athletic Director Cody Venderlic. “Everyone that came through (ticketing for a Marietta at Logan 8th grade football game Wednesday evening) was reminded. We had regular announcements over the PA reminding you that mouths and noses needed to be covered and we had signs at the bathrooms.”

Simple enough, right?

“The governor and the (Ohio) health department have made it very clear that masks are required indoor and outdoor at sports facilities. They’re just part of the expectation,” Venderlic added. ” … if we’re going to be able to have fall sports we’re going to have to social distance and we’re going to have to wear masks.”

It is a shame to note athletic directors at other school districts are prepared for visiting fans to behave badly at events scheduled this season.

“I’m grateful that it didn’t happen in Marietta, but it saddens me that it was Marietta that caused it in Logan,” said Venderlic, referring to an situation in which a MCS parent allegedly resisted arrest over an incident that reportedly began when she was asked to put on her mask. “As athletic directors, we’ve talked about this too and the biggest challenge about dealing with visiting fans is people behave much better at home than when they’re on the road.”

How sad. Some fans should know better.

If you need more reason than given above, how about the example you are setting for your kids; and the impression you are making throughout this region of Ohio?

Those kids just want to be able to play ball this year. Most parents just want to be able to watch them do it.

Don’t be the reason they can’t. Wear a mask, keep kids on field.



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