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Published: Sunday, 5/16/2004

UT is best served by the MAC

As a former commissioner of the Mid-American Conference, I disagree with The Blade's John Harris that the University of Toledo's athletic program would be better served by leaving the MAC and joining Conference USA. Such a move would be a serious mistake.

Conference USA has a short history and a revolving door. Almost on a yearly basis, institutions join and others leave. The MAC has had a stable membership for many years. Many of the members of the MAC have been in the conference for over 50 years, while others have been involved for over 30 years. This type of stability has benefited the MAC in many ways.

Consider rivalries: UT vs. Bowling Green, Ohio vs. Miami, Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan, etc. These games, which excite fans and create great competition, are impossible in a conference whose membership is always changing.

Mr. Harris speaks of the advantages in football and basketball. Conference USA is spread out over three time zones. Even if certain sports were played in divisions, imagine the loss of class time and the cost of sending teams like baseball, softball, volleyball, etc., to Texas and Mississippi. Not to mention Rocket fans traveling long distances to see their teams play.

The debate about the MAC qualifying for membership in Division I-A has been around since the mid 1970s. There is no doubt in my mind that the conference will meet any new standards, as they have done in the past, and remain in Division I-A.

When I was the commissioner of the MAC, a commissioner from one of the major conferences told me, "when it comes to athletic competition, emphasis on academics, and playing by the rules, the Mid-American Conference may be the model for all conferences." That was true then and is still true today.

JIM LESSIG

Bowling Green

Who would believe we're the good guys?

I am outraged by the photos of U.S. forces torturing and abusing Iraqi POWs. I am also deeply dismayed by the President's lukewarm pledge to punish the responsible parties. That such blatant abuse could go on for so long under the supervision of officers and private contractors suggests that this problem is not an isolated one perpetrated by six or seven sick individuals.

When we have so willingly turned over detainees in the war on terror to be interrogated by foreign forces and private contractors, it is only fair to assume that these interrogators use methods that the United States doesn't officially condone, but permits and encourages unofficially.

To emphasize this grave moral lapse that reaches to the highest levels of our government, I point to the case of Canadian citizen Maher Arar, an innocent man who was detained and sent to Syria to be tortured for many months.

One U.S. intelligence official commented in a Nov. 5, 2003, article in the Washington Post, "We are doing a number of them, and they have been very productive." It should come as no surprise that this same attitude would extend to Iraqi prisoners.

Considering that even high-ranking intelligence officials have given the green light for torture and abuses of law, it would seem that this problem needs to be addressed in a dramatic way.

Our soldiers are dying every day, and the Iraqis seem convinced that we are their enemies. As long as we let the individuals responsible go unpunished, while a few soldiers at the bottom of the pile are used as scapegoats, we will not be "good guys" nor will anyone believe we are.

Davin Heckman

Bowling Green

What has ACLU done for us lately?

I would like to ask the ACLU, atheists, and the like to consider: What do the laws of our land, the first colleges and hospitals, pregnancy centers, soup kitchens, rescues centers, churches, YMCA and YWCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and many other great institutions in this country have in common?

They were all started by religious groups giving back to this great country. My simple question is: What in the world are you giving us in return? You use many of these services each and every day, but you have yet to give back anything to the community but to cram our court rooms, ruin our schools, and help our enemies.

Seems to me religious groups of all kinds are trying to make a positive contribution to this nation. What about you?

Jim Moline

Sylvania

Keep flag traditions and rules intact

Although authorizing the lowering of the American flag to half-staff for Bill Copeland (and others in the past) was an honorable gesture, the mayor of the city of Toledo does not have the authority.

The United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 175, reads in part:

" By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States government and the governor of a state, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any state, territory, or possession of the United States, the governor of that state, territory, or possession may proclaim that the national flag shall be flown at half-staff. Only the President of the United States or a governor may authorize the lowering of the flag to half-staff."

Mr. Copeland and many other individuals who have served their community should be honored and remembered for their many years of dedicated service.

But let's keep the flag traditions and rules intact, not subject to change as one sees fit.

Keith W. Carr

Thunder Hollow Drive

New voting system must be verifiable

State Sen. Teresa Fedor and I agree with The Blade. It IS time to get on with voting reform. But we need a system that is accurate and verifiable. As Ronald Reagan said: "trust but verify."

We agree with The Blade's editorial position that the old lever machines should be replaced. But we do not agree that just because those old machines did not have a verified paper trail, we should now put into place machines that also cannot provide an accurate recount. We must not repeat 2000, when only 537 votes determined the electoral outcome in Florida and the presidency.

Touch-screen voting machines will simplify and improve the voting experience, but as of today, may not provide the citizens of Lucas County with the assurance that their votes have been counted accurately. We need to remember that the abbreviation of DRE machines, touch screens, stands for Direct Recorded Electronic machines.

That is, the only place your vote is recorded is on a computer chip. Even the IRS requires original documentation for an audit. Should we expect anything less for the most important civic act we perform as citizens?

The number of instances nationally where there have been significant problems with these machines can be seen at www.blackboxvoting.com and at www.verifiedvoting.org.

The select committee on ballot security of the Ohio House and Senate voted 9 to 1 to require a verifiable paper audit trail and the two houses reaffirmed that position by a nearly unanimous vote. The Lucas County Board of Elections now has the opportunity to get it right and preserve the right of our citizens to have their vote count and be counted.

Senator Fedor and I strongly urge the board not to proceed with the purchase of the Diebold equipment.

Rep. Peter Ujvagi

House District 47

Ohio General Assembly



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