As chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 1994 to 2001, I applaud The Blade's March 11 editorial, "An indifferent bureaucracy," for highlighting the critical issue of passenger safety on our nation's highways. As we witnessed in the tragic events of the Bluffton University bus crash in Georgia, significant changes are long overdue to increase the levels of occupant protection in buses and to prevent needless deaths on American roads.
During my tenure as chairman, in 1999 the NTSB issued numerous recommendations to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to address occupant protection concerns on buses.
These recommendations called for the implementation of new performance and safety standards in buses by 2001, including crash protection standards that would keep passengers maintained within the seating compartment in the event of an accident.
Eight years later, the federal government has failed to act on these recommendations and has not taken the necessary steps to protect its citizens on its own highways.
These important initiatives should include the restructuring of industry standards for roads such as the Interstate 75 exit outside downtown Atlanta, and require NHTSA to demand higher occupant protection regulations in American buses, even greater than those that already exist in Europe and Australia requiring three-point seat belts.
Seat belts are one of the most effective pieces of safety equipment in passenger vehicles. As such, they should be required on buses with the aim to prevent future tragedies.
Yet again, I join your newspaper in calling on NHTSA to take the long overdue action to ensure the protection of every driver and passenger on American highways.
James E. Hall
'Lake Erie West' concept progressing
Your March 4 editorial, "Our arbitrary border," was very insightful. It received positive commentary from Dennis Jenkins, Bedford's community development and planning coordinator, in the Readers' Forum on March 9.
In our state, we already have a model on how to cross state lines. Cincinnati shares a border with Kentucky and Indiana. The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce has recognized the advantages of crossing those borders since 1982. Recently, recognizing the need for a global identity, it has begun marketing itself as "Cincinnati USA," which includes Covington, Ky., and southeast Indiana.
In our region, the Lake Erie West concept, designed to give our area a new identity and a global address, is making slow but sure progress. The Toledo Metro Area Council of Governments, in its projected transportation future, has dubbed our "inland port" the "Lake Erie West Global Logistics Hub."
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) sings the praises of our Lake Erie West Region in Washington. Robert Alexander, CEO of the YMCA/JCCs of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, has dubbed them Lake Erie West YMCA/JCCs. Monroe has taken advantage of its location on the lake, and become a Lake Erie West Community. Oregon and Sylvania have also become Lake Erie West Communities.
Mature Living, a monthly news magazine, states that it serves the Lake Erie West Region on its cover, and includes a map of the Lake Erie West region on page 4 of every issue.
The weekly City Paper runs a series profiling our region's accomplished professionals. The current issue highlights CEO Jim Haudan of Root Learning. In the near future, we all will be living in Lake Erie West Communities, not northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
Long-term vision needed by leaders
It's time to address the real problems facing our society and world. All we hear from leaders in government, church, and business is SSV (short-sighted vision). They are only addressing the symptoms of problems we experience: war on terrorism, treatment of veterans, beliefs in religion, health needs, etc.
Whatever happened to diplomacy and working with others to resolve differences? If we continue addressing problems through SSV, then we are destined to only treat the symptoms, not the root problems.
LTV (long-term vision) requires visionary persons. Challenge politicians, church, and business leaders to give long-term solutions or goals to our problems. When was the last time you heard about a political party's platform?
In our ever-shrinking world, where is the LTV to work through cultural differences and not have to resort to war? We need to challenge the powers that be and demand LTV.
You will recognize it when you see it.
Avoiding HPV beats taking the vaccine
Much has been said about the new vaccine that is supposed to prevent cervical cancer. What is not widely known is that there are dozens of human papilloma viruses and the vaccine is only good against four. I would not give this vaccine to my daughter without knowing a great deal more about it.
Unlike most diseases that we vaccinate against, HPV is a sexually transmitted virus and as such can only be acquired through actual sexual contact. If we teach our daughters to have respect for themselves and their bodies, they will not be promiscuous and thus will not contract these viruses.
It seems to be that sharing our bodies today is viewed as merely a recreational activity. The special bond that used to be considered necessary for this degree of intimacy seems to have disappeared from our society today. A great loss in my opinion.
Ottawa Lake, Mich.
Will ethanol lead to corn flakes from oil?
Corn prices may skyrocket as more corn is used to produce fuel. Soon we may need government subsidies to economically replace traditional corn foods like corn flakes and tortillas with substitutes derived from petroleum.
Strickland correct to cut off free lunch
It is not surprising that Governor Strickland, having discovered the costly meals that members of the Board of Regents have been enjoying at taxpayers' expense, is doing something to stop it.
It also is not surprising that this has been going on, because expensive eating tastes are based in principles of unbridled capitalism. It seems that capitalism "demands" that those who already enjoy comfortable income (even though the Regents receive no compensation) find it appropriate to take money from those (taxpayers, in general) who have far less money.
As a former Board of Regents member, Tom Noe, who had other top jobs as well, learned this principle "so well" that it got him into serious trouble, leading him to prison.
Although we realize that those in top positions (including college and university presidents and provosts) have serious and time-consuming responsibilities, there is also this capitalistic notion that they deserve far more money than those in lower positions; as a result, inequalities among all people who work occur.
There seems always to be sufficient money to increase monetary amounts for top officials, yet there is never enough to make sure that their workers have sufficient money to live adequately.
Governor Strickland is to be commended for freezing state spending on nearly all food purchases related to meetings, conferences, etc. To discover that $3.9 million had been paid largely by taxpayers in the last 19 months led, appropriately, to the governor's decision.
There is an inappropriately costly guiding principle that splurging at taxpayers' expense is "gratifying" behavior.
Diane and Wally Pretzer
Here we go again, making children stand by the road in the dark while waiting for the school bus. Who is responsible for turning our clocks ahead so early in the year, and for what reason? Is it worth the risk to the children?
Fort Jennings, Ohio