Editorial roundup


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Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Toledo) Blade, Aug. 10

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act that guaranteed African-Americans the right to vote, nearly 1.5 million black men — roughly 13 percent of them — remain disfranchised because of laws that restrict the voting rights of people with felony convictions.

These laws also prevent some white men and women from voting, but they have a sharply disproportionate impact on African-Americans, especially black men. One out of 13 African-Americans can’t vote because of felony disfranchisement — a rate four times greater than non-African-Americans…

To protect the legacy of the Voting Rights Act, Congress and state legislatures should strike down these restrictions. At the very least, all men and women who have served their time in prison or jail should have earned the right to become whole citizens again by participating in a fundamental exercise of democracy…

To their credit, Ohio and Michigan restore offenders’ right to vote after they serve their sentences and leave prison, but most states impose some restrictions, including lifetime bans on voting…

Commemorating the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act should become a call to action, not a nostalgic look backward. It’s time to remove lingering and increasingly burdensome restrictions on voting rights for those with felony convictions.

Online:

http://bit.ly/1UznXta

The (Youngstown) Vindicator, Aug. 9

The state Board of Education is made up of 19 members, 11 who are elected and eight who are appointed by the governor…

So when just seven of the board members seek an investigation of some of the practices of the Ohio Department of Education, we must ask: What about the 11 other voting members?…

The absence of a consensus is disturbing to those of us who firmly believe that on at least one issue, an independent investigation is justified. However, the issue has nothing to do with the Youngstown Plan, which is detailed in legislation passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

We are unwavering in support of the plan, which aims to re-engineer the academically imploding Youngstown City School District…

We were uncompromising in our demand for an independent investigation into David Hansen’s behavior. To us, having the state auditor, Dave Yost, a Republican, review the case does not pass the smell test…

In light of the fact that 11 of the 19 members are elected and the remaining eight are appointed by the governor, the political underpinnings of the board cannot be ignored.

Thus, we urge the seven who sent the letter to Ross demanding an investigation to bring more of their colleagues on board…

Online:

http://bit.ly/1N4R5qf

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Aug. 6

The green is gathering, growing and getting people in Toledo and all along the western basin of Lake Erie in a tizzy. And well it should.

On Aug. 2, 2014, Toledo experienced an environmental crisis that left nearly 500,000 water customers without safe drinking water from their taps for three days. Phosphorus-fueled harmful algal blooms, the result of agricultural runoff, combined sewer overflows and other causes, had introduced microcystins — a liver toxin — to the city’s Collins Park water treatment plant.

A year later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Congress and the state legislature have taken meaningful steps to address the threat. But more needs to be done.

And — bit by bit — it is…

Ohio farmers are now on notice that practices must change. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 1 — the “Clean Lake Erie Act” — into law last April. It includes restrictions on applying manure and fertilizer when the ground is frozen and training and certification requirements for those who handle manure at large confined animal feeding operations…

Meanwhile, Toledo’s water treatment plant has upgraded its water-filtration system and ability to detect toxic bacteria…

It will take time and tax dollars, but without urgent changes, the green will keep growing.

Online:

http://bit.ly/1L0GcTS

Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 9

Gun rights advocates like to cite shooting incidents such as the one involving Dylann Roof, accused of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, as evidence that background checks for firearms just don’t work. What good are such checks, they often ask, if people like Roof can purchase firearms legally?

Proponents of tighter background checks have the much stronger argument. Roof, whose previous drug charges should have disqualified him under federal gun laws, got a gun because his records weren’t immediately accessible…

Because federal law does not require states to make information available, background checks frequently are based on incomplete files. State-level background checks are more thorough, notes the California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, because they can access FBI information plus state and local data…

There are efforts by the Ohio attorney general’s office to remind local officials to report data to the state, which then sends files to the FBI, and, working with the Ohio Supreme Court, to computerize record keeping. What is lacking are laws that clearly require reporting all relevant records, closing dangerous gaps in the FBI database.

Full reporting, when added to an expanded time period for background checks and closing the loophole for private guns sales, finally would create a system far more likely to do what was intended — add to public safety.

Online:

http://bit.ly/1L2HjoV

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