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Published: Monday, 1/15/2001

Some easy reforms to election process

The chaos and turmoil in the presidential election necessitates reform in the election process. The following changes could facilitate these reforms.

1. A uniform presidential election ballot throughout the United States with state and local candidates and issues added as needed.

2. Presidential campaigning limited to 90 days prior to election.

3. Campaign finance reform with caps on all contributions and disclosures thereof.

4. Federal grants to states to aid in updating or purchasing new election technology.

5. No exit polling or media projections until one hour after the polls close in all four time zones, to give the voters in line time to cast their ballots.

6. Absentee ballot requests to be sent automatically to all senior citizens over the age of 65.

7. Greater effort to decrease voter illiteracy and increase a greater understanding of the ballot.

8. Make the presidential Election Day a legal holiday.

The Constitution was challenged in this presidential election and survived. The system does work, so let's act as rational human beings rather than from frustration. Vice President Al Gore carried the popular vote, but let's also remember that Gov. George W. Bush carried 30 states.

Some might disagree with the election results, but let us remember that the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government have proved that the founders of this great country were men of vision.

Let reform serve as a guiding light to the future. Let us as a nation act in unity for the common good rather than be messengers of division.

EDWARD A. SKOLARUS

Carleton, Mich.

The community should indeed say “Enough already.” Not to Rick Van Landingham, but to you. Rick champions working people, a sense of pride in community, and the environment. You've demonized him because he threatens a Blade agenda to reward sloppy redevelopment plans for East Toledo.

Rick went on his first archaeological dig in sixth grade. He spent his 20s fighting to save the Elm Street Bridge and other historic properties in the Buckeye Basin. He personally discovered the only remaining section of Miami & Erie Canal and towpath in Toledo, adjacent to Manhattan Marsh. That stretch has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

When the Buckeye Basin Boondoggle was built, Rick proposed a plan to allow the Parkway and save the bridge. As has often happened in Toledo, the bridge fell victim to weak historic preservation officials; a newspaper whose editors could care less about history (especially that of working people); apathetic local labor leaders, and utterly silent local historic preservation folks.

The Buckeye Basin Parkway is dead forever. The eagles are off the endangered list thanks to people like Rick who cared to save them. Rick and his ilk are often the only ones with the courage to question plans that destroy the fabric of this community and its environment.

The “brain drain” from this community that The Blade laments is wholly understandable. You eat your young. You stand for greed and destruction. I'm proud to stand with the Rick Van Landinghams of the world against you.

Enough already of The Blade's vicious attacks on people with vision.

TERRY LODGE

Holland

One definition of a citizen is “an inhabitant of a city/town, one who is entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman.”

Most of us citizens take our rights and privileges for granted. Rick Van Landingham does not. He has repeatedly taken on issues that have necessitated endless hours of research and time for no other reason than to better the environment and the city of Toledo. I admire his accomplishments, intelligence, intent, and endless energy.

How ignorant of The Blade not to recognize a true citizen.

CHARLENE JOHNSTON

Darlington Road

A full-scale debate on U.S. involvement in the anti-drug war in Colombia should begin now. Many people fear we are heading into another Vietnam. Every day there are reports of murders of officials, massacres of police and residents of small towns, as well as violations of human rights by right-wing paramilitaries (sometimes wearing regular army uniforms) and leftist guerrillas.

U.S. taxpayers paid $1.3 billion in military tools and personnel and are entitled to accurate information about this civil war. Are U.S. pilots training Colombian pilots to fly the $13 million Black Hawk helicopters? Will we be told when Americans become casualties?

We need to know whether the purpose of this action is to stop drugs or to ensure the safety of American corporations that have invested in oil (Colombia is the seventh largest supplier of oil to United States) and other natural resources there.

Questions also need to be addressed about the environmental damage to the rain forest by the pesticide sprayed on coca plants as well as food crops grown there - total cost $600,000. We should also learn whether the United States has promised adequate funds to Panama and Ecuador to protect their borders against Colombian farmers fleeing guerrillas and pesticides.

National leaders must begin a debate on the Colombian situation.

MARTHA BALDONI

Perrysburg

Ehud Barak insists that he will not talk peace with the Palestinians until they end the recent violence. This arrogant demand comes despite the fact nearly all of the 357 (by now more) deaths in the recent violence are Palestinian, not Israeli. So which faction is more successful in killing the other? Despite the never-ending stream of news clips showing us rock-throwing Palestinian youths, we rarely see the lethal force which Israeli forces use.

And Ariel Sharon, Mr. Barak's Likud opponent in the upcoming election, promises continued hard-line policies - if you want to call sniping unarmed youths in their backs a hard-line policy rather than anything less heinous than that which Milosevic ordered in Kosovo. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned these continuing Israeli practices.

Two American political scientists, Alex and Stephen Shalom, recently reported the vast numbers (80,000) of Arabs ghettoized within Israel itself, living without running water or electricity. Bypass roads segment these Arab neighborhoods and suppress political assembly while linking illegal Israeli settlements to urban Israel. Israel is only able to do this because American money continues to support its efforts. This legalized injustice is the only future Israeli politicians intend for the Palestinians.

I am neither Arab-American nor Jewish-American, but we should not sleepily contribute more money and weaponry to Israel's brutality. Even contemporary Israeli historians are beginning to attack the official political line. Furthermore, a tiny cadre of Israeli army reservists, Yesh Gevel, has refused to obey orders to gun down innocent Palestinians.

If a few Israeli citizens want a better justification for their leaders' policies, should we American expect anything less?

ROYCE WICKS

East Broadway



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