Community Opinion

House Democrats unveil Ohio Promise

From OHIO HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today joined Democratic lawmakers to unveil the Ohio Promise, a blueprint to renew the Buckeye State’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures. “For many, Ohio’s promise of good-paying jobs and the opportunity to get ahead has faded,” said Leader Sykes. “Democrats are committed to restoring Ohio’s promise of better jobs and brighter futures by working together to expand opportunity and create an economy that works for everyone.” The Democratic blueprint to restore the Ohio Promise includes a five-point compact to build opportunity for working people, to strengthen families and the communities they live in, and to hold government accountable to taxpayers.* “The promise of Ohio is our promise to you,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington). “It’s an framework for the future that puts families first, giving them the tools they need to get ahead. We do it by lowering taxes, making education attainable and promoting job growth by making it easier for Ohioans to start and grow a business.” The announcement comes amid declining quality of life metrics in Ohio, which currently ranks 44th in unemployment and 41st in population growth. Working Ohioans continue to fall behind, seeing $147 less in wages than the average American at the end of each week. In addition, Ohio has fallen from fifth to 23rd in education and ranks among the worst for both infant mortality and overdose deaths. “Years of broken promises have rigged the system against everyday Ohioans. They are working harder, but seeing less at the end of the day. They can’t get ahead,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon). “To restore Ohio’s promise, we need to keep our promises and work together to make sure that if you work hard you can get ahead in Ohio. It’s about creating good jobs and an economy that works for everyone—not just those at the top.” The plan includes a number of bipartisan priorities, including plans to protect healthcare and Medicaid expansion, invest in education, expand public transit and improve children’s services, in addition to reforming the state’s tax system and reducing the price of prescription drugs. “We are committed to working together to deliver real results for taxpayers,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire). “Better lives and brighter futures begin with good-paying jobs, a growing economy and the chance to get ahead. That’s the Ohio Promise.” Democrats plan to expand on their policy priorities in the coming weeks as the House debates the governor’s first two-year budget. *Editor’s Note: The Ohio Promise is attached. Here is what other House Democratic lawmakers are saying about…

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Who May Pray?

One day as the Lord God looked down on his world, he observed the many signs of good and evil at play in the lives and relationships of the people he had created. From acts of love and generosity and compassion to acts of hatred and lust and greed, from neighbors helping neighbors to nations at war with each other and even between factions of their own people. It occurred to him that perhaps he needed to remind them that he created them out of his love for them and that their wellbeing as individuals and families, as nations and as a world is wrapped up in that purpose of love for one another that is at the very heart of their being. Then he remembered that once he had told one of his prophets that if the people he created would call upon him for his help, he would save them from their sin and their self-destruction. So he landed on the idea of a world-wide day of prayer and tossed it out to see whether some of his faithful would consider spreading the word. Well, the idea did catch on, and over the period of a few years, various communities began holding World Day of Prayer gatherings, calling on God to help them find ways to overcome the sins that separate them and create such chaos in human life and suffering, and help them become the people he had created them to be. So God decided this idea must have some merit, and he decided to call together the leadership of the world’s religious organizations to work on the details. What he wasn’t expecting is that some of those in leadership wanted to dictate the rules of who would be allowed to attend and lead these gatherings. For example, those who considered themselves”true Christians” wanted to designate who could pray, but would allow anyone who wanted to attend to do so as long they were silent, and also wanted to specify what prayers would be allowed. God was especially dismayed by the Christians, because when he sent Jesus, he sent him to convey his message in a very personal way, not to start a new religion, but to correct some errors in the old ways of understanding him and his intentions for the human experiment he had begun, and to open up their understanding to life in its fullness as he had intended it. Moreover, if they were going to limit the prayers people could offer to so-called Christian prayers, that would mean…


MVUUC minister chooses to channel energies in positive direction

It has been noted that for those of us that are not welcome to speak at the National Prayer Day event, we have the Annual Not In Our Town Interfaith Breakfast that “anyone can come to.”  As a planner of that event, and the chair for the last two years, I can confirm that the Interfaith Breakfast planners invite all faiths to participate.  Many of the congregations that will most likely be represented at the National Day of Prayer, have not attended the Interfaith Breakfast.  It is a shame they don’t join us because we hope to encourage an interfaith dialogue and understanding with all faiths in our community.  We believe that it can be a simple lack of knowledge and experience that feeds the fear of other beliefs.I know it seems the rest of us are being treated unfairly; but my faith encourages me to see the worth and dignity in all people, and by extension, in all faiths.  That’s why I’ve decided to channel my energy in positive ways. First, I’ll work harder on interfaith activities that encourage mutual respect.  Secondly, I am praying in my own way for those people that have not yet discovered that we are much more alike than otherwise.  I will feel compassion for those that have not yet discovered the joy that fills the heart when we love all of our neighbors. I won’t be angry with others because they don’t approve of my beliefs because I know that making a difference in our world will only be achieved when we all find our common humanity. I hope that our community will eventually come together in one prayerful, meditative, and contemplative moment to benefit the greater good. For now, I can only change how I react to intolerance. I choose the way of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said,  “l’ve decided to stick to love – hate is too great a burden to bear.” Rev. Lynn Kerr Minister, Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation Bowling Green


Planned Parenthood denounces sweeping abortion bans in Ohio

In the middle of the night, the Ohio legislature passed two dangerous and unconstitutional abortion bans — outlawing both abortion six weeks into pregnancy and the safest, most common method of second trimester abortion. These dangerous restrictions could effectively ban abortion in Ohio. The six-week abortion ban in effect eliminates abortion because most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks. Furthermore, the method ban challenges a doctor’s ability to provide the best options for their patients by criminalizing doctors for doing their job. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and Trump in the White House, it’s clear that emboldened anti-abortion politicians are pursuing dangerous and radical policies in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and ban abortion entirely. Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: “In the last seven years, over 400 laws have passed that restrict abortion care, despite what we know from medicine and science to be true: Abortion is a safe, standard medical procedure. Ohio’s six-week abortion ban and method ban are dangerous policies that could endanger women’s lives. I know firsthand just how important it is for doctors to have the ability to provide the care their patients want and need. As a doctor, I trust my patients to make their own health care decisions, and every doctor should have the right to provide care for our patients without the threat of prison time. We at Planned Parenthood will always fight to ensure patients have access to safe, legal abortion in Ohio and across the country.” Statement from Iris E. Harvey, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio: “Today, Ohio politicians have made a national disgrace of our state. Let’s be clear — the abortion bans are equally extreme, take aim at Ohioans and families, and punish doctors for caring for their patients. We demand Governor Kasich stop both of these dangerous policies in their tracks. Every Ohioan deserves the right to control their own body, life, and future without politicians getting in the way. We will stand against these unconstitutional attacks on Ohioans and will use everything at our disposal to protect their access to safe, legal abortion.” The courts have made it clear that banning abortion before viability is unconstitutional. Similar six-week and 15-week abortion bans in North Dakota, Iowa, Mississippi have all been struck down by the courts for violating the precedent created by Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Furthermore, in every state where politicians have passed similar method bans, the courts have intervened and ruled them unconstitutional. Yet the Ohio…


Tom Klein: Why National Prayer Day should be truly inclusive

By now the news has spread around this city; Bowling Green leaders and many citizens are not pleased.   Chaplain Kristel Asmus, who again serves as coordinator of our the National Prayer Day, is directing the event coming in May, 2019, and is restricting speakers to Christians.  No Muslims, no Mormons.  And, of course, no Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is.  All those religious groups represent spiritual causes preaching compassion and love.  Christian-only speakers conflict with the nationally established purpose of the event — to recognize and celebrate the religious and ethnic diversity of America. Anything other than inclusiveness is harmful and dangerous. Some history might help explain what’s at stake here. A national prayer day was formalized in 1952 when a joint resolution by Congress was signed by President Truman. In 1988, the law was amended and then signed by President Reagan. For its long history, the prayer-day speakers have spanned diverse faith communities with the purpose being to spread the word of God and love to unite the country. Spiritual extremism happens when someone claims a monopoly on truth.  The greatest danger of such extremism is the wars accompanied by a fundamentalist cause and character, with economic and historical components connected.  In our own time there’s the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian Civil War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.   Then, there’s the Thirty Years War, the Crusades, the Sudanese Civil War, and the Nigerian Civil War.  Of course Christian-only speakers in our small town will not spark a war. But when such practices spread across the US, that can happen. It’s a rare event when one person who, ironically, has been in charge of this event for twenty years and decides to radically modify it.  We need to understand why a chaplain might take such an extreme position, converting a healing and unifying message into one where there is only one right message, and why serious harms can result.  Such an attitude is at best disturbing.  The chaplain, with confirmation from the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told the BG Independent News that “Mormons could not participate in leadership teams or participate publicly in the prayer event.”  Looking at that restrictive attitude through the lens of theologian James Fowler’s framework on stages of spiritual development is enlightening.     Much like Piaget’s work examining the cognitive development of children and adolescents, Fowler’s research takes the next step and includes persons of all ages to see how their thinking changes as they grow up, moving from stage to stage. To simplify Fowler’s conclusions, early stages of spiritual development see children thinking literally and concretely.  “Mom said no and I better not touch that.”  Adolescents and younger adults discover…


Ohio should not restrict citizens’ right to petition government

We want to thank Sen. Gardner for conducting the Town Hall Meeting last Saturday and listening to the concerns and questions from his constituents.  At that meeting, I asked him about HJR19 in regard to amending the process for getting a petition on the ballot. The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens several fundamental freedoms including ‘the freedom to PETITION the Government’.  In Ohio, the process to get a measure on the ballot is already quite stringent and HJR19 provisions make it even more difficult. Senator Gardner responded to me that the concern was that large donors from out of state were infringing on the rights of Ohio citizens.  If this is the true concern, we respectfully suggest that the Legislature address ‘Money in Politics’, rather than unduly burdening civic organizations, such as the non-partisan League of Women Voters, to successfully get a petition measure on the ballot. Fellow citizens, if this issue being rushed through the ‘Lame Duck’ Session is of concern to you, please contact your elected representatives: Sen. Gardner  614-466-8060 or 419-352-1984 Rep. Gavarone 614-466-1804 or 419-345-7768   Joan and Bob Callecod Bowling Green  


NAMI director urges ‘yes’ vote on ADAMHS levy

I am writing today to encourage you to vote yes on the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board 1 mill Replacement Levy on Tuesday, November 6th if you haven’t done so already. This is not a new tax, it would bring the old tax up to current value. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Wood County receives a majority of its funding from the ADAMHS Board to provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals affected by mental illness. One in five people are living with the signs and symptoms of a mental illness. Of these one in five, there are many more family members, friends, and colleagues affected by their loved ones condition. NAMI is able to provide support and education for all of the above mentioned. NAMI Wood County provides twice yearly free classes for family members and individuals living with mental health conditions through the support from ADAMHS. These classes and ongoing support groups are invaluable to those that utilize them. Many times, people attend a program and announce that they’ve not shared their story elsewhere. NAMI can provide that safe space for people to share, be heard, and feel supported by peers. Among the many peer programs that NAMI provides, there are a great deal of community education programs offered due to Levy support.  Mental Health First Aid teaches individuals how to provide assistance and access help for a person in a mental health crisis. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainings are coordinated by NAMI as well. This community program offered twice yearly provides law enforcement officers information in working with individuals in a mental health crisis. CIT companion courses hosted by NAMI include: Fire and Rescue Workers, Dispatchers, Behavioral Health Clinicians, Advanced Trainings, and Resiliency Trainings. The evidence based prevention and recovery programs that NAMI Wood County provides are national programs with statistics that have shown reductions in recidivism rates in both jails and hospitals. By supporting the ADAMHS Board Levy, you are making a difference in the lives of people affected by mental illness and the Wood County community. Jessica Schmitt Executive Director NAMI Wood County