The recent struggles over the Supreme Court and political actions of the GOP expose a crisis for our political system.
On the one hand, judges with strong conservative credentials are considered to be impartial practitioners of the law. Theoretically, we can all be treated fairly by the Supreme Court, regardless of individual politics (but just to be safe, let's make sure that individual is not a moderate).
On the other hand, you have Tom DeLay, whose legal defense team is claiming that a "Democratic" judge cannot be trusted to treat him fairly.
Is our legal system so flawed and rotten that judges cannot be trusted to carry out their duties? I thought the Republicans were supposed to restore respect for our sacred institutions. Instead, the zealots seek to enshrine their bias into the law, and then accuse everyone who criticizes them of being "biased."
Moderate Republicans have cowered from these screwballs, as they've politicized public education, PBS, school lunches, Social Security, the CIA, 9/11, our military, meteorology, God, and, now, the judiciary. Not to secure it from outside influence, but to bend it to their political advantage.
If they believe that our legal system should be another branch of their party, they should say it openly. Democrats joined with Republicans to confirm John Roberts, yet Republicans couldn't even join Republicans to confirm Harriet Miers. It is time to stop blaming partisanship on Democrats and look at the bitter culture of extremism that has been cultivated on the right.
If we all don't do something about these radical right-wing extremists, they will destroy our political legacy with their swiftboat-style attacks, crude pseudo-populism, and the polarization of everyday life. It's time for ordinary people to start standing up to the uncompromising zealots that are wrecking our city on the hill.
Sprawl is greatest threat to Toledo
Few political candidates dare to mention Toledo's greatest threat: suburban sprawl. Sprawl is devastating the City of Toledo and, by extension, the region as a whole.
Without a solid base the region cannot prosper and grow and will stagnate into little more than a conglomeration of bedroom communities competing with each other for morsels of commercial development.
The greater Toledo area has grown little in the last 30 years and that trend is projected to continue. Yet developers are building in the suburbs like there's no tomorrow.
The region saw housing growth rates of over four times population growth between 2000 and 2003.
Lucas County added more than 3,500 housing units during this period while population actually fell. The growth of Toledo's suburbs is simply unsupportable.
Sprawl has many (largely psychological) causes, including the reputation of public schools, perception of crime, fear of minorities, and a desire to keep up with the Joneses. But it is fueled by government policies of zoning, tax incentives, and subsidized infrastructure.
City residents are forced to subsidize the growth of the suburbs through their federal and state taxes, which fund things like new interchanges, wider roads, and new schools, all to the detriment of their community.
Because our sprawl is not as advanced as some cities (half of metro Toledo still liveS in Toledo), we are in a good position to preserve our quality of life before it is too late.
Will we stumble blindly into the fate of our neighbor to the north, with its unending traffic nightmares and blight, or will our elected leaders develop sensible policies to promote development where infrastructure can support it, discourage development in prime agricultural or environmentally sensitive areas, and ensure that those who choose sprawl pay the full cost of that choice?
Dance performance reflected community
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Oct. 24 performance of the Ailey II modern dance troupe from New York City at the Stranahan Theatre, presented by the Toledo Ballet Association.
This company of young, mostly African-American dancers performed with great skill and enthusiasm, an enthusiasm that was matched by that of the audience. That audience was reflective of the rich diversity in our Toledo community - black, white, young, old.
What made the experience of that evening so memorable for me was that it followed so closely on the heels of the riots in North Toledo set off by the planned demonstration by the neo-Nazis from Virginia.
While one set of "visitors" to our city spawned mayhem and division, another, the Ailey II troupe, elicited celebration and community.
As is so often the case, an arts organization - in this case the Toledo Ballet Association - leads the way in helping us remember our strength as a diverse community. They should be commended for presenting such a performance at a time when we needed it the most. I only wish that the media had found coverage of Ailey II as important as they did the riots.
Ardenia Jones Terry
Colony Oaks Drive
Plan commission should be ashamed
The Maumee Plan Commission should be ashamed of itself. On Oct. 24 the commission accepted a revision of the Fallen Timbers Shopping Center plan against the advice of the Lucas County engineer and Monclova Township trustees.
The new plan allows Jerome Road to be turned into a cul-de-sac, cutting off access to the mall and U.S. 24 from the north.
The closure of Jerome as a through street will divert traffic down Waterville-Monclova Road, past Monclova Elementary School, down Black Road to U.S. 24. Black has more residents than Jerome.
However, the plan commission showed no concern for residents outside their jurisdiction. The commission also showed no regard for the children whose safety will be compromised by the increased traffic near the elementary school.
Lucas County has already spent millions of dollars to improve Briarfield Boulevard. Briarfield along with Jerome was meant to connect the U.S. 23/Salisbury interchange with U.S. 24. If Jerome closes to through traffic, the taxpayer money that has already been spent on this visionary project will have been wasted.
The accepted plan lets the developer off the hook from having to provide $3 million to improve Jerome and Monclova roads, a stipulation of the previous plan.
The plan commission should be concerned with the mall's impact on traffic for the entire region. The developer is concerned only with getting people to the center to put money in its pockets.
It appears the Maumee Plan Commission feels that county taxpayers should be stuck correcting the traffic mess caused by this private development.
Expose the conduits for who they are
I read with disgust that because it's Justice Department policy not to prosecute low-level participants in a conduit scheme if they help prosecutors convict the "big fish," we may never know the names of the people in this community involved in Tom Noe's plan to generate funds for Bush-Cheney in 2004, nor will they be brought to justice.
This sends the message that it's OK to violate the public trust and campaign law in order to achieve a goal.
All 24 of these conduits, allegedly well known local political figures, and their family members, will get off scot-free just to reel in Tom Noe.
If these people are not indicted, arrested, tried, and/or convicted, at least let the public know who they are.
Public chastisement may be just as bad as paying a fine or serving time.
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