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Published: Sunday, 8/22/2004

Why isn't the turnpike toll free?

Governor Taft's proposals to get trucks back on the Ohio Turnpike appears to be a weak and dangerous Band-Aid approach.

Raising the speed limit for trucks from 55 mph to 65 mph will likely shift the occurrence of fatal accidents from roads such as State Rt. 2 to the turnpike. With the current 55 mph speed limit, trucks actually go 60 to 64 mph. With a 65 mph speed limit, the trucks will be going 70 to 74 mph.

This whole issue could be resolved if the state of Ohio and the turnpike commission would keep their promise to the voters of Ohio.

As I recall, the initial construction of the Ohio Turnpike was put before the voters. Ohio promised to finance the construction through bond issues. The turnpike would be a toll-road, with the tolls used to pay off the construction bonds. Once the bonds were retired, the turnpike would become toll free.

The voters passed the proposal, and the bonds were paid off years early. Did the state of Ohio and the turnpike commission keep their promise? Of course not. The tolls have done nothing but go up over the years.

Ohio needs to eliminate all tolls as promised, and keep the speed limit for trucks at the current 55 mph. The Ohio Turnpike is part of the interstate highway system. We don't have to pay tolls to travel I-75, I-70, etc., and those roads are in just as good a condition as the turnpike. Why do we have to pay to travel I-80/90? Is Ohio simply perpetuating an unnecessary bureaucracy known as the Ohio Turnpike Commission?

DENNIS DiSALLE

Maumee

The Single Payer Action Network of Ohio (SPANOhio.org) has started an initiative petition to provide comprehensive health-care coverage to all Ohioans. Amazingly, the conservative Buckeye Policy Institute already sent a misleading letter to The Blade. As a doctor, I recommend immunization against their misrepresentations.

Myth 1: We have the best health-care system.

Reality: America has the best doctors, hospitals, and nurses, but a poor system for delivering care to all who need it. The World Health Organization ranks us 37th in getting our money's worth. We spend twice as much, yet 44 million, including 1.3 million Ohioans, are uninsured. The Institute of Medicine estimates 18,000 uninsured Americans die yearly from illnesses untreated because of a lack of insurance.

Myth 2: Universal coverage will bankrupt Ohio.

Reality: We replace business and personal health insurance premiums with business and personal payroll taxes. Many businesses will see their costs decrease. We will spend what we spend now with no added tax on incomes below $87,900. Modest taxes above this income allow comprehensive coverage, including medications, for all.

Ohio saves $11.3 billion in administrative expenses and insurance industry profit, enough to cover the uninsured. How can this be? Medicare, our single payer for seniors, spends 97 percent on care and 3 percent on overhead vs. private insurance with overheads near 20 percent. They simply have more overhead, e.g., advertising, selling, servicing, and profits. Our plan has low overhead and works like an improved and comprehensive Medicare for all Ohioans.

Myth 3: The quality of health care will suffer.

Reality: Other industrial democracies with universal health insurance have better health statistics. Given the deadly consequences of being uninsured, covering everyone is an essential step toward improving quality.

Myth 4: The Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio does not support the initiative.

Reality: UHCAN Ohio has now endorsed the initiative.

JOHNATHON ROSS, MD

Brookside Road

I read about the failed school levies in different areas. Why does the school board keep trying to increase our property taxes? What happened to the ruling from the state Supreme Court? Why isn't action being taken to come up with a just and fair taxation base? What about an income tax levy? The city is already thinking about putting another levy on the ballot. Taxes, taxes, give us a break.

I wish our retirement check could stretch to pay for all these increases in schools, gasoline, heath care, food. The average person needs help.

Is anybody out there paying any attention?

Help, help, help.

JACK BOHLAND

Kingston Avenue

The barrage of increasingly shrill pro-Bush letters conveys just a whiff of Republican fear and trembling. Perhaps the highly successful Democratic convention in Boston and the unprecedented spectacle of a united Democratic Party made these letter writers finally realize that George W. might actually lose in November.

Suggesting that only "Bush-haters" would criticize President Bush for his Iraq fiasco or his economic mismanagement merely shows how out of touch they are with a majority of the voting public. It does not explain away the now undisputable fact that Mr. Bush's war on Iraq was based on fabrications. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, and the bipartisan 9/11 commission found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaeda nor any Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attack.

However much Mr. Bush and his supporters like to shift the blame, he alone unleashed this unnecessary war that has already killed or maimed thousands of people and wasted billions of dollars.

As for Mr. Bush's economic policies, it is now painfully clear that we could not afford his enormous tax cuts, which so heavily favored the very rich, and at the same time finance an extremely costly war. Huge tax cuts and war inevitably added up to huge destabilizing deficits.

With Mr. Bush's domestic and foreign policy in complete disarray, growing numbers of Americans realize that his stewardship has left us much worse off than we were four years ago. A safe environment, America's international reputation, affordable health care and education, a sound economy, the livelihood of American workers, all have been sacrificed on the altar of this President's indecent urge to go to war and his arrogant and unrepentant incompetence.

It is imperative to fire him in November.

ERHARD KOCK

Manchester Drive

On Aug. 16 The Blade featured a story on the Washington Local Schools and the "positive movement" with special needs students in regular classrooms.

As a parent of three children at Washington Local Schools and a school board member, I am proud to congratulate Cherie Mourlam, director of students services for WLS.

We are very proud of this program, and the success it has brought to so many students and their families. But (with Panther pride) I say, it's just another day at Washington Local Schools.

As we begin the 2004-2005 school year I salute the administration, staff, teachers, and coaches for what they do every day. Let's have a great year!

LISA CANALES-FLORES

President

Washington Local Board of Education

My granddaughter lives in Denver. She, and her young adult friends are very anti-Bush and they speak openly about it. They don't picket or do anything illegal, but they were recently visited by the FBI and a SWAT team. What has happened to freedom of speech? Why does this remind me of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s?

And what about the latest smear attacks on John Kerry? I believe anyone who served in Vietnam (or any war) wouldn't call it a picnic. At least Mr. Kerry served in Vietnam. How can the author of such smear tactics call himself a Christian?

R.A. BRATTON

Delta

The District of Columbia said it wasn't interested in hiring our school superintendent. That's just as well because he finally seems to be catching on to his job and we could use him in Toledo. I wonder, however, if D.C. might have any interest in our mayor.

WILLIAM POZNANSKI

Melvin Drive



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