Let me just say this to my colleague, Commissioner Pete Gerken: I will not violate Ohio's Sunshine Law, no matter how many times you ask me.
In both our public meetings and in his Thursday letter to The Blade, Mr. Gerken urged me to discuss public business with him in private. The Ohio Revised Code clearly prohibits this practice and mandates that public officials must "conduct all deliberations upon official business only in open meetings."
Mr. Gerken has accused me of first going to the press with my ideas of how better we as commissioners can assist our constituents or of "springing" my suggestions on him with the public present rather than behind closed doors.
I ask you, the taxpayers, the following: How else would you want your public business conducted than, well, in public?
As commissioner, I have strived to make government more open and to ensure you are all keenly aware of how your tax dollars are spent. I was elected to serve in your best interests, not in the best political interests of Mr. Gerken.
It pleased me to read that Mr. Gerken feels my proposal to help fund a free college education for Lucas County's displaced workers and high school graduates "has merit." I look forward to rolling out my suggestions for how to implement this initiative and for a productive discussion to follow. The public can read an overview of my college proposal on my blog at http://apps.co.lucas.oh.us/lcblog/.
And through this public discussion, we will find a way to create jobs for of all Lucas County residents and make this region a major player in the future of alternative energy and technology.
But what I will not do is give Mr. Gerken the "sneak peek" he demands on matters that belong in public view.
He should know better.
And you deserve better.
Lucas County Commissioner
Everyone is saddened by the current suffering of civilians in Gaza. However, that suffering results not from Israel's actions, but from cynical exploitation of civilians by Hamas and many Arab governments.
Israel stands ready to recognize a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and most of the West Bank. Hamas, however, when it talks about "ending the occupation," means that the entire state of Israel must disappear. Israel pulled all its troops and citizens out of Gaza in 2005.
Instead of using this opportunity to build a foundation for an independent Palestinian state, Hamas interpreted Israel's withdrawal as a sign of weakness and began firing rockets at Israeli civilian populations. Even as the fighting continued, Israel sent humanitarian aid into Gaza. Egypt borders on Gaza, just as Israel does. However, Egypt has refused to open its border crossing so Palestinians can enter.
Instead, Egypt looks the other way as Hamas builds tunnels from Egypt that are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza to use against Israel. Egypt's response is explainable: It fears Hamas' ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, will take power in Egypt.
Hamas continues to cynically exploit civilians by staging military operations from schools, mosques, and residential areas. Israel has gone to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties. Israel has suffered comparatively few deaths from Hamas rockets only because it has built extensive air raid shelters and warning systems to protect its civilian population.
Hamas has built no shelters for its civilians, but instead has gone out of its way to expose them to harm in order to have a propaganda tool to use against Israel. WhenGazais controlled by a government that cares about its civilians' social and economic welfare, peace in the area can quickly be established.
Howard M. Friedman
Chairman, Jewish Community Relations Council
United Jewish Council of Greater Toledo
With politicians' favorable ratings at an all-time low(note: those low ratings are well deserved),I recently had an "encounter ofthe third kind."
My real-estate taxes went up and I was mad, soIsent ane-mail to Anita Lopez, Lucas County auditor.Ms. Lopez responded by phone in less than half hour.She explained the processand cooled me down. If all political leaders were as responsive as Ms. Lopez, we wouldbe a lot better off as a community and as a country.I'm still not happy with the process that is spelled out in the Ohio Tax Code.
Now, I will find out if my state representatives are half the politician Ms. Lopez has shown herself to be when I contact them about the process of adjusting your real-estate taxes and real-estate taxes in general.
John L. Streicher
Glaston Oaks Court
I am irritated that the Toledo government officials and city unions can't come to an acceptable agreement. As a human resources professional, I've been involved in several collective-bargaining negotiations and know the difficulties involved in the process. I've beenunemployed for six months andwould trade places with any member just to be working again.
All parties involved need to be reminded that they are employees of the City of Toledo, and are making and rejecting proposals with taxpayer dollars.
Also, negotiations take place ina public forum where many are unemployed. Their bickering leaves a bad taste in our mouth and another black eye for Toledo. Please come to a resolution soon.
Andrew M. Mikolajczyk
The Boston Globe article, "Stress leaves lasting mark on U.S. presidents," in The Blade makes an important point about the adverse effects on many of the men who have been our chief executives. The conclusions arise from research about the presidents from Theodore Roosevelt forward. Despite that acknowledgment, it would have been historically useful if the researcher had gone back further to mention what the office did to Abraham Lincoln, especially as we approach the 200th anniversary of his birth on Feb. 12.
While rightful approbation is consistently afforded Lincoln as one of our three greatest presidents, if not the greatest of all, seeing how he looked just prior to his presidency and in pictures taken during his last year of life bring home even more what he endured during his years in office. Those years caused what was once a youngish looking man who died at 56 to look decades older.We need remember that Lincoln's entire time as president was during the Civil War in which therewere more American casualties than in all our other wars combined. It is true that the official end of the Civil War did occur a few days before Lincoln's death; however, in several parts of the country, military action continued.
I take nothing away from those presidents covered in the article, but we should use every possible appropriate time to remember Abraham Lincoln.
In 2009, this is more critical than ever as we face the most difficult issues and hope that enlightened, courageous presidential leadership will be in our future as it was from 1861 to 1865.
This is a message to the Cincinnati group that is trying to get the red light cameras in our local community intersections banned: Just stop running red lights and no fines will be imposed. No one makes money if people stop running red lights. It really is quite simple and a bit more safe, don't you think?
A Jan. 7 op-ed, Abortion bill could unite opposing views, infers that if pro-choice and pro-lifers were only to make nice to each other the problem could be solved.
The Freedom of Choice Act is up for congressional approval tomorrow and Thurday, and no amount of schmoozing will keep this country from cementing itself in a culture of death if it passes.
Immorality should never be perceived as being negotiable.
EDWIN F. DURIVAGE