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Published: Saturday, 1/16/2010

For region, GOP strife must stop

A few years back, local Democrats engaged in a circular firing squad. We had two slates of candidates running against each other.

Dennis Duffy, chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party central committee at the time, had a history of forging positive solutions to thorny disputes. But this one he struggled with. I ran for the office as someone who hadn't been involved in the battles, hoping I might help as a neutral voice, and won by a handful of votes. Since then, we've been lucky and kept our disputes at the Democratic family dinner table rather than taking them to the front pages.

Now it's the Republicans' turn. Since Jon Stainbrook's election, it seems that whenever the local Republican Party is in the paper, it's for suing other Republicans, criticizing other Republicans, or trying to get some Republican fired. And now there's been a revolt and we have two feuding chairmen.

For a while, I enjoyed this. But it's gone too far. We can't afford to have leaders who bring us nothing more than bad press. Mr. Stainbrook and the other leaders of the feud should step down and agree to have someone neutral take over, so that the local GOP, like local Democrats, can focus all of its efforts on helping our region.

Peter R. Silverman

Barrington Drive

Your Jan. 6 editorial “China's trade advance” is correct about potential trade disadvantages the United States may suffer in light of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' expansion of its free-trade area.

An ASEAN free-trade pact with Australia and New Zealand also took effect Jan. 1. The trend toward economic integration in Asia is proceeding rapidly. Regional trade accounts for more than 50 percent of Asian nations' total trade, and now outweighs trade with markets outside the region.

There were only three free-trade agreements between nations in the region in 2000, a figure that grew to 58 in 2009. Taiwan and North Korea are the only nations that have not participated in the integration process. Therefore, Taiwan is pushing to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement with China. Taiwan, the United States' ninth-largest overall trading partner, is also pursuing FTAs with other major trading partners, including the United States.

For the United States to establish a free-trade area with Asian countries is not only beneficial and feasible but also advisable for political and economic reasons, at least to keep pace with the rapidly changing world.

Borwen Chu

Executive Press Officer

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office

Chicago

I was surprised and delighted to see New York Times columnist David Brooks' column on the op-ed page on Jan. 6. Even though my own ideas are well to the left of Mr. Brooks', I think he is among the best journalists writing about politics today. He is always accurate, insightful, and fair in his observations. He represents responsible conservative thinking exceptionally well.

His sources are top level, direct, and always impeccable. He never lets his opinions taint or shape his facts, as many louder conservative commentators do. There is no journalist I trust more. I can only hope he is a permanent replacement for Jack Kelly and Thomas Sowell, who sing the same fuzzy, blog-induced chorus week after week.

Bob Beach

Maumee

The closing of Leo's Book Shop is heartbreaking to me, as I owe some of my happiest memories to Leo and Daryl Yourist.

During my early-1980s childhood, I delighted in weekend trips with my mother from west Toledo to “the big city.” There was nothing more exciting than shopping at Macy's and Woolworth's, concluding with a trip to my favorite spot, then known as Leo's Book & Wine Shop.

The Yourists were always waiting with a fresh, hot-off-the-press stack of my beloved Archie comics. On one occasion, Leo told me that they weren't quite ready yet, because Daryl was still upstairs drawing them. It took me a good month to figure out that Leo had been kidding, and the memory still makes me smile.

When I returned to Toledo in 2002, I went straight to Leo's Book Shop. Daryl met me as I walked into the store and, without a second's pause, told me that the new Archies hadn't arrived yet. He hadn't seen me in at least 15 years, but he remembered. I will never have an experience like that with Amazon or Borders.

Amanda Wolfe

Houston

Tom Henry's Jan. 2 column, “Public to get its say on plan for dredging,” needs clarification about turbidity, dredged material, and harmful algal blooms.

Past studies indicate that placement of dredged material in western Lake Erie does not cause a significant, lasting increase in turbidity above natural background levels. Natural, wind-induced churning of bottom sediments can increase turbidity in western Lake Erie.

It can also increase the amount of plant nutrients such as phosphorus in the water. Placement of dredged material in western Lake Erie is unlikely to have a significant influence on phosphorus levels.

This year, the Army Corps of Engineers will partner with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to re-examine possible connections between algal blooms and placement of material dredged from Toledo Harbor in western Lake Erie.

The Corps of Engineers is partnering on many levels throughout the Great Lakes system and the western Lake Erie basin in particular to find solutions to many issues, including algal blooms. There is no “magic bullet” for the issues that confront Maumee Bay and Toledo Harbor, but working together, we can find solutions that balance competing needs.

Lt. Col. Daniel B. Snead

Commander

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Buffalo District

Is our fate as Americans to be continuously disappointed by government? Why has government evolved into a state of dysfunction and ineptitude with no accountability?

Why has “by the people and for the people” morphed into “by special interest groups for special interests”? Why has government grown into a massive bureaucracy addicted to spending and creating a multi-trillion dollar deficit with no remorse?

Why have government employee income, retirement, and benefits grown well beyond what the private sector receives? Why is partisan, petty politics still being practiced after the President said he would not tolerate it? Why does government fail at such basics as national security, reasonable health care, and the economy?

Why? Because people accept this as our fate and we get what we deserve.

Dan Dimas

Waterville

We must have clarity, blame, and punishment even to begin to clean up the unholy alliances among Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, current and former congressmen, U.S. presidents, federal appointees, banks, financial houses, and “community activists.” Nothing less than public trials and top actors in all these categories going to jail will do.

This stink won't go away on its own. You may help remove it or go away as part of it.

Peter S. Miller

Marin Drive



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