An Oct. 24 editorial, "Drivin' and yakkin'," regarding the issue of cell phone use while driving, indicated that bills being considered in the Michigan Legislature should provoke the Ohio Legislature to move forward with similar legislation to restrict cell-phone use while driving.
I couldn't agree more. Legislation has been introduced in Ohio, dating back to 1999, attempting to address this issue. State Rep. Catherine Barrett has introduced legislation four times over the course of four different General Assemblies, only to receive little or no consideration whatsoever by the Republican majority.
This past June, I introduced Senate Bill 157, otherwise known as "Dameatrius' Law," that would ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving. The problem with SB 157, just as with Ms. Barrett's legislation, is that it's expected to go absolutely nowhere.
Why this legislation continuously fails to move forward is a mystery to me. The General Assembly is charged with doing what is right, and balancing citizens' personal liberties with the greater health and safety of all is among the biggest challenges we as legislators face each and every day. Even after closely scrutinizing this delicate balance, it is clear to me that the risks of talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle far outweigh the benefits.
People who feel strongly about this issue should contact their legislators, especially those in a position to affect the fate of this legislation. The General Assembly's toll free line is 1-800-282-0253.
After considering what happened to Dameatrius McCreary and what his friends and family have gone through, it's clear that no cell phone call is important enough to endanger a human life.
A "free" checking account with side benefits served us well over the last couple years, until alarming new banking policies transformed our balance into a liability.
A few months ago, the bank sent notice that it was purchased by a large overseas bank, and that many of the current benefits were discontinued. Without reading the lengthy details, we simply allowed our balance to become minimal and switched to a more practical bank.
Returning recently from a few weeks out of town, our accumulated mail included a bewildering bank statement. Our minimal balance had been service-charged away, appearing to wipe out our account. But a more careful look revealed that our account was still there, with a surprising negative balance, indicating that we actually owed the bank a service charge.
I called the bank in disbelief and was told that it would be turned over to a collection agency if not paid. Furthermore, since our balance was now negative, we would be penalized an additional $30 for insufficient funds.
Worse yet, these charges would recur monthly, ever increasing our debt and destroying our credit rating. Fortunately, I was able to close the account immediately, get the dubious charges rebated and hopefully prevent credit damage that could raise interest rates on credit cards, etc.
Had we been out of town a little longer or failed to note our statement, those few dollars left in the bank would have become a serious liability. Burying our small balance in the backyard would have been wiser.
This all-time low in banking ethics gives new meaning to the term "bank robber." Banking policies that transform customer deposits into customer debt, cast a long shadow of doubt over banking security and over a government that would allow this to happen!
DAVID A. WARNER
I hate debt.
For those who are uninformed, the U.S. national debt is $8 trillion. The number is so large it is hard to comprehend. Let me put it in simple terms.
The population of our country is about 280 million people; $8 trillion divided by 280 million is $28,571. Therefore, the average American family of four's share of the national debt is $114,285. How many families in this county have the savings to cover their share? At a 3 percent interest rate the annual interest cost on the national debt is $240 billion per year. If you assume there are about 140 million taxpayers, about $1,700 dollars of what you pay in taxes goes toward the interest cost of the national debt each year.
I think the situation is so bad neither party will address it. Doing the things necessary to reduce the debt - spend less, raise taxes, or both - is political suicide. Only Ross Perot had the backbone in the 1992 election to address the national debt head on. It took about 225 years for our country to get to $5.7 trillion in debt. In the last five years we have added $2.3 trillion more.
I have always been under the impression the Republican Party stands for lower taxes and reduced spending. But the first time in some 50 years they have control of the White House and Congress, they have increased the national debt about 40 percent in five years. My expectations were that the Republican Party would be paying down the debt, not increasing it at almost record pace.
I do not accept 9/11 or the war on terror as an excuse for runaway debt. Less revenue and higher spending is the cause.
On the same day the ever pompous Marilou Johanek complained on the editorial pages about the White House spin machine, the Ford campaign launched an ad that must surely be cyclonic in comparison. In this ad, the mayor and his supporters assure us that things could have been much worse during the recent riot. We should feel fortunate, grateful even, that the rioters didn't burn the whole city down. Why, we should thank our lucky stars for the stellar leadership and command ability of our city fathers during this crisis.
My first clue that the situation was out of hand was all the looting and burning and mayhem that I was able to watch in my living room courtesy of CNN, FNC, et al. The press conference later that day sealed the deal for me. How inspiring to watch the mayor and the police chief taking turns looking both feckless and sheepish. The thought of my local leaders negotiating with a lawless mob really filled me with hope for a better tomorrow.
However, in the spirit of restraint and healing that has since enveloped us, I humbly submit the following slogans for the Ford campaign. "Toledo: It could always be worse!"
"Riots and new construction go hand-in-hand!" "Toledo: you came for the riots, now stay for the looting." Let's all hope that the mayor and his tin-eared staff are listening.
No one knows what it is like to pay high electric rates more than customers in northern Ohio. The recent letter by FirstEnergy touted a plan which does not provide rate certainty or stability, but does unlawfully extend a charge for three years that will cost residential customers $1 billion.
While Ohio's electric choice law mandates that "stranded costs" related to power plant construction fall off of bills by the end of this year, the plan creates a "Rate Stabilization Charge." This charge continues the collection of stranded costs dollar-for-dollar. This will cost the average FirstEnergy customer between $15 and $20 per month more than they otherwise should pay. Those are the facts.
As the residential utility consumer advocate, the OCC - not FirstEnergy - is the representative of residential customers and looks after their best interests. That is why the OCC has opposed the rate plan.
Ohio Consumers' Counsel
I have been following the Toledo riot mess. All Toledo has to do is allow these hate groups to march wherever they want. But instead of spending all that money for extra police protection, don't give them any at all. Do you think these people would even show up? Who says you have to protect these nuts?
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