Community Opinion

Guest Column from State Representative Theresa Gavarone

Improving Communication Between Law Enforcement and Disabled Ohioans   The most important part of being a state representative is to ensure a clear and effective channel of communication between myself and my constituents of Wood County. Oftentimes, with this assurance, great ideas for legislation can come directly from everyday Ohioans, truly influencing the day-to-day issues and struggles that can be addressed from the state level of government. Exactly this kind of exchange recently occurred and became the impetus behind House Bill 115, which I recently introduced with my colleague, Representative Scott Wiggam.   The idea for the “No Labels Initiative” was brought to my attention by Jenny Hughes, a constituent from Walbridge, who has two sons who have been diagnosed with autism. House Bill 115 would create a voluntary database of individuals with a communication disability to be utilized by law enforcement. Administered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the database would be available to law enforcement officers through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS).   The designation would be used through LEADS in a similar manner as individuals who carry a concealed carry license. Before approaching a vehicle, an officer may run its registration and will be notified if a driver or passenger has registered as having a communication disability. This will help improve communication between the officer and the individual, preventing possible misunderstandings and improving the safety and security of both parties in such situations.   Additionally, House Bill 115 seeks to remove the stigma behind being labeled as a person with a disability by keeping the information private, rather than having a visible marker on the license plate or driver’s license. The ultimate goal of this legislation is to enhance the working knowledge of our law enforcement officers while giving those with a communication disability an equal opportunity to be fairly heard and understood. The database would be available to those with autism, a hearing disability, or another communication disability, and individuals can voluntarily enroll with the submission of a verification form and certification by a physician.   House Bill 115 is a common-sense, responsible measure that simultaneously makes our officers more informed and better prepared to handle particular situations while taking steps to end the stigma associated with those who have inhibitions when it comes to communication. Being pulled over can be stressful enough, but this bill ultimately seeks to eliminate some of those…

“Rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth” – Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton)

House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources. “If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.” The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state. “We owe it to future Ohioans to make sure we leave behind a state that is thriving, healthy and safe,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Rolling back the opportunity to be a leader in the emerging renewable energy industry is not only harmful to our environment but also our economy.” Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future. “If we really care about job creation and positioning Ohio for a 21st century economy, then we should promote such a vision and plan – but HB 114 does nothing of the sort,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “I cannot support a bill that impedes the creation of new jobs and endangers the environment for our people and our children.” Amazon Web Services, Inc., an subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity this May. “This legislation threatens thousands of current and future jobs in the renewable energy industry, including jobs connected to wind-power…

“Mayor should acknowledge experience of geologists” – Paul Wohlfarth

At the Feb. 21 Bowling Green City Council meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards laid out his counterattack on the science surrounding the Nexus pipeline Maumee River crossing. What appears to be a politically motivated move puts public protection second to the needs of a face-saving way to limit liability from the oil and gas overlords. Edwards’ Folly will risk the public’s water supply for the quick needs of a spineless leadership. Clearly geologists Andrew Kear and Robert Vincent have years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Even buried in FERC’s own FEIS document reveals the Sept. 11, 2015, Furgo Consultants report rating, “Rock quality designation (RQD) ranged from 0 to 66, with the average value being 12, indicating very poor quality bedrock.” Furgo furthers, “Due to subsurface conditions, the risk level associated with the proposed crossing of the Maumee River is high.” Nexus contractor Fluor Enterprises estimates the boring to be 81 days. They report, “Please note the estimated duration is based on operations proceeding according to plan and does not include contingency. The occurrence of unanticipated operational problems could increase the duration of operations by 50 to 100 percent.” Contingency? What will that mean? Trenching or blasting across the Maumee River through historic Missionary Island Wildlife Area and the Farnsworth Metropark? Mayor Edward’s legacy will be measured if this route turns into an environmental disaster. It will become known as Edwards’ Folly. Paul Wohlfarth Ottawa Lake, Michigan

“Trump Proposing War” – Joann Schiavone

He is proposing to increase military spending by $54 BILLION and cut nonmilitary programs by the same amount… guess what, seniors? Decisions about our Medicare and Social Security will not be made until later in the year. Get ready to play for his $54 BILLION plan. Remember, this president promised to slash EPA environmental rules to help the drilling and mining industries, but without hurting air and water. How are you going to do this Trump, by twitching your nose? He is going to slash EPA funding by 24%. He just did a reversal in America’s progress toward cleaner air and water and fighting global climate change. So those of you who support this man, be ready for breathing problems and deaths in this most polluted country in the world. His new leader Pruitt sued the agency he now leads more than a dozen times while Attorney General of Oklahoma to stop federal rules. He never mentioned climate change in his 12 minute speech at EPA headquarters in Washington. This will also make changes to Mr. Obama’s Waters of the United States rule that details which waterways fall under federal protection. So plan on having some flavor added to your drinking water that can put you in the hospital for black lung disease. But remember, people who voted for this man, he made these promises to you but failed to tell you that he is in the pockets of polluters, and this is who he is working for. Too bad you chose to vote for more bad jobs than cleaner jobs, and set your priorities for the almighty dollar rather than for the health of you and your children. SHAME ON YOU! Please attend ALL Town Hall meetings and demand that your congress person and state senators attend and answer all your concerns. If they don’t attend, like our State Senator Portman and Congressperson Bob Latta, remember this when you go to the voting booth. Latta will only attend dinner fundraisers or have a phone-in Town Hall meeting which is a big joke. They will ask you what your question is, or what your comments are for Latta, and if it is a question or comment that Latta is afraid to address, guess what? You won’t be on the airwaves. Trump voters, are you happy with the promise to keep America safe? This budget will lead to deep reductions in…

‘Indivisible’ to hold resistance rally at Latta’s office Thurs 2/23

RALLY ON THE 23RD – CONGRESSMAN BOB LATTA’S OFFICE Concerned about NW Ohio Water Quality and Rep. Latta’s continual support for Big Ag and Big Energy, together with their mounting worries over Trump’s dysfunctional NSA and the potential Russian collusion creating greater pressure on the security of our nation, concerned citizens of Ohio’s 5th Congressional district are taking their grievances and strong voices to Representative Latta’s office this Thursday. The rally will be focusing on the deplorable lack of integrity of the Trump administration, with constituents pressing Latta to demand Congress have an independent investigation into the current Administration’s collusion with the Russian Government, and how it affected the outcome of the 2016 elections as well as how it is creating an impending threat to our national security today. His continual attacks on the first amendment by denouncing nationally recognized news organization as “Fake News” will also be voiced in the Latta office visit. Focusing locally, the rally members will question Latta’ office on the EPA water regulations that could be rolled back due to the nomination of Scott Pruitt and ask the office, “Seriously, will we be the next Flint?” Groups and individuals from Fulton, Lucas and Wood Counties will rally at 9:00 a.m during an office meeting with District Director Andrew Lorenz at Latta’s District Office at 1045 N. Main Street, Bowling Green, OH. Representative Latta DOES NOT hold Town Halls and the group was told that he did not have time to meet with them during his first trip back to work at his home district during the 115th Congress. Begrudgingly, the group accepted to meet with his District Director in hopes that Rep. Latta will be more accessible in the future to this growing group of concerned constituents. Many of the people attending the rally are members of INDIVISIBLE, a grass roots organization of volunteers who work locally to resist autocratic agendas and to press for the integrity and transparency previously seen in American Democracies. Further Information and Questions: 419.280.3787 Elizabeth C. Davis Perrysburg, Ohio

Update on Library Funding – Michael Penrod

Update on Library Funding: We are very appreciative at the Wood County District Public Library (WCDPL) for the support we receive through state funding, a local levy since 2011, and the generous support of the Friends of the Library as well as the Library Foundation. We would not be able to deliver the array of library services we currently offer without your ongoing support. I want to share information with you about the present status of funding for Ohio’s public libraries. At the state level, we are fortunate to be funded through the Public Library Fund (PLF) which receives a percentage of state revenues from the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF). Revenue sources for the GRF include the state personal income tax, sales and use taxes, business taxes, etc. In July 2015, the PLF formula was increased from 1.66% to 1.7% of the GRF. This change allowed for some modest growth in dollars distributed to public libraries. Unfortunately, the governor’s new budget proposal calls for reverting back to 1.66%. This would mean a cut in funds distributed to Ohio’s public libraries. Between now and the end of June, the House and Senate will be holding hearings and debate on the budget. The Ohio Library Council (OLC) will be engaging members of the Ohio General Assembly to “Protect the PLF.” Locally, Ohio’s public libraries have long had the support of Senator Randy Gardner – and for that we are appreciative. Senator Gardner is publicly advocating for the formula to remain at 1.7%. We know that Ohioans value their public libraries and that public libraries create opportunities and transform lives. We remain the “People’s University” where all can enter to further their lifelong learning goals. On a daily basis we serve parents as they teach their children to read, adults seeking help with resumes and applying for jobs, and students working on homework. When you see Senator Gardner and Representative Gavarone around our community, please share your personal story about what the library means to you and your family. These local, positive conversations can make a difference in decisions made in the General Assembly. Thank you again for your support; it is an honor to serve the Wood County community! Michael Penrod WCDPL Director

“Sharrows are merely a suggestion” – Sean Herman

An open letter to Bowling Green Transportation and Safety Committee, and City Council Committee of the Whole: I write to you in response to the recent decision made on Complete Streets implementation of Conneaut Avenue. I am writing today as a city resident, a full-time transportation cyclist, and until recently as a student of Bowling Green State University. It is my belief that this decision to opt for sharrows on Conneaut Ave. was a poor decision. It was the easy way out of ongoing conflict between various parties and concerns. Some may argue that sharrows are worse than no signage at all. And while standing for that claim may be questionable, I will say that sharrows are not any better than a painted bike lane (such as the dashed-lane alternative for this road), which provides a designated space for cyclists to preside in, and perhaps only marginally better than our “Bike Route” and “Share the Road” signs currently in place. Sharrows are merely a suggestion, and that’s the problem. According to a February 8 article in BG Independent Media, the Conneaut Avenue milling and resurfacing project was projected to cost the City of Bowling Green $529,393 in 2017. To widen the road — as well as add a dashed bicycle lane in each direction — would cost $65,000, or an additional 12.3%. That is a small price to pay for increased safety, and thus increased ridership. There are public and private grant monies available for this type of project, so long as the city would a actually apply for them. Several of these types of grants have been brought to the attention of both Transportation and Safety Committee as well as the Bicycle Safety Commission, however the open application window on these specific grants has since lapsed. Much of the pushback from residents was over the possible removal of on-street parking spaces in favor of a dashed bike lane, an experimental design proposal allowed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. On the north side of Conneaut Avenue from Fairview Avenue to North Grove Street (just one block in length and the only section of Conneaut with on-street parking), there are nine houses. Every one of these homes has a driveway or parking pad. All but two have garages. Additional on-street parking has also always been available on North Grove Street as well as Liberty Street (just one block north of…

Jewish groups: “We pray for those who wish to come here and live in peace, but are denied safe harbor”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo and the Jewish Community Relations Council are troubled by the recent Executive Order against refugees looking to come to the USA to escape the horrors of their war-torn countries. Historically, we are a country of immigrants who came to these shores to escape the horrors of war, to seek religious freedom, and to earn better opportunities for our families and succeeding generations. Jews have made innumerable contributions to American culture, arts, entertainment, science, government and more areas, and continue to do so. There were times when Jews were turned away from these shores. Like Moses, who saw the land and was not allowed to enter, we pray for those who wish to come here and live in peace, but are denied safe harbor. We urge President Trump and his administration to come to a resolution soon and to allow another generation of future citizens to add their uniqueness to the melting pot that is America. “You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20) Signed, ­­ Gary Delman, President, JFGT Scott Rothstein, Chair, JCRC

“Please give us a single-payer health care system” – Debbie Dalke

A health care bill was presented in Congress that would improve our access to medical care. I sent this letter to Representative Latta and encourage you to do the same: “Honorable Congressman Latta, A few years ago a friend developed a very serious brain condition.  She needed a specialist and took the time to find a doctor in her network. This specialist told her to get an ultrasound before the operation and sent her down the hallway to get the test. My friend later learned that the person she was sent to was NOT in her network, so she was hit with a large bill for this service. This problem would not exist if we had a single payer system because EVERY doctor would be in the network. When a parent is faced with a life-threatening illness, he or she needs to focus on how to protect the children’s future, not searching the internet to find a doctor the insurance company will approve.  Please support HR 676 and give us a single-payer health care system to simplify the process of finding a doctor. This will also reduce the cost of health care administration.” Please encourage your congressmen to support this bill. Thank you, Debbie  Dalke Bowling Green

“NEXUS-FERC process is a fraud” – Paul Wohlfarth

Those of us who have been close to the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline-Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process are dismayed at how our country has been captured by monied interests over the rights of average citizens. Soon the oil and gas industry-funded FERC will grant its rubber stamp on the NEXUS pipeline. The process is a fraud. The sad facts are, the NEXUS pipeline has no Ohio customer contracts (13 Tee Taps with no future commitments) and has only a 56 percent usage rate, with 90 percent of that capacity going to Canada. Spectra Energy, parent company to the NEXUS pipeline, is being bought by Enbridge Energy Partners, a Canadian company. So we have a Canadian Company taking American-fracked natural gas to Canada against the will of private property owners across Ohio and Michigan. The Environmental Protection Agency has ruled fracking can pollute ground water sources forever, a short-term gain with long-term consequences for landowners. There is no support for this pipeline except from industry-supported politicians in Ohio and Michigan. Every one of your Ohio state and federal politicians has received funding from the oil and gas industry. This is an export pipeline engineered to export our natural gas to foreign markets to raise the price of our natural gas for their private gain. Where is the public need? Paul Wohlfarth Ottawa Lake, Mich.

“I saw every day the benefits of roundabouts” – Tim Murnen

I would respectfully like to offer a different opinion on roundabouts from the impression left by Mr. Bud Henschen’s comments noted in your December 7th article, “BG Council Asked to Steer Clear of Roundabouts.” I understand Mr. Henschen’s concerns. Lots of Americans find roundabouts confusing or disconcerting. But I will tell you that, having lived in England for four months during 2009, I saw everyday the benefits of roundabouts. 1. No Waiting Time Despite Mr. Henschen’s concern that roundabouts will tie up traffic and create long lines, roundabouts do the opposite. They regulate the flow of traffic and keep people moving, without forcing them to wait at traffic lights. Americans hate to wait in lines. We can’t understand how Russians back in the Soviet era would wait in bread lines for hours or even days. We don’t understand how Brits will “queue up” patiently to wait for a new store to open. We hate to wait in lines. But we will allow ourselves to have to sit for several minutes at a red light when no other traffic is coming the other way. This often happens to me at night at the corner of Poe and Haskins. Heading west on Poe after shopping at the grocery store, I often have to sit at the light, which has been retimed to keep traffic on Haskins moving. It’s a pretty long light, sitting there on Poe at the corner, waiting for my green light, with no cars coming or going along Haskins. I feel silly; it almost feels un-American to take orders from a red light when logic tells me otherwise. I am always surprised that Americans, as independent as we are, will sit and take that red light at an empty intersection. I wish we had a roundabout at Poe and Haskins. And I wish we would have put a roundabout in at Poe and Main too. 2. Slowing and Regulating Traffic Flow Roundabouts by their design require that people slow down when they come to an intersection. You have to slow or stop to give way to traffic in the roundabout, but if there is no traffic, you have at least slowed down enough to make an informed decision. This little bit of slowing takes no more than a second or two, but it saves lives, and it keeps traffic moving at a regulated pace. Roundabouts are especially helpful in…

“Dear Council members, we are concerned about the proposed Nexus pipeline” – Bob and Joan Callecod

Dear Council members, We are concerned about the proposed Nexus natural gas pipeline which would involve property close to the Bowling Green Water Treatment plant and submersion in the Maumee River. Our main concern is the impact on the environment during construction and the impact in the event of a rupture in the future which can not be totally ruled out. We also question the stated economic benefit to the community especially that millions of dollars in tax revenue will be generated. How would this be accomplished and what would be the source? If there is a necessity to provide more natural gas, is it possible to upgrade existing pipelines which may be in need of upgrading already? This would use existing easements and avoid the need to use additional land. This may also eliminate the need to jeopardize the Maumee River. It is commendable on the part of the City to expand the implementation of renewable resources through wind energy and solar fields. We feel this is a far better approach than expanding the use of non-renewable energy sources. As more renewable energy resources are developed, these non-renewable infrastructures will become obsolete yet would remain a potential environmental problem. Respectfully, Bob and Joan Callecod Bowling Green, OH

“Ideological purity replaces the need to get things done.” -F Scott Regan

The political “experts” assure us that in the past election the public expressed anger, distrust and frustration with politics as practiced in Washington. Yet over 80 percent of the incumbents were reelected! President-Elect Trump has demonstrated the power of harnessing the national desire to change things. The reality is that our country no longer functions as a two party system. In the vast majority of election districts aspiring citizens have no real chance to compete due to the manipulations of the two major parties and the moneyed interests behind them. As a result, it seems that our representatives now have their first loyalty to their party rather than to their conscience or to the compromises necessary to serve the public. We send Republicans and Democrats to Washington rather than Americans. Ideological purity has replaced the need to get things done. What can be done? Here are a few thoughts, some simple and some more fanciful: –Eliminate the Electoral College and let the candidate with the most votes win. (A crazy idea!) –End political control over determining districts (“gerrymandering”) so that our representatives need to have a more holistic view of the region, state, and nation’s challenges. –End the right of political parties to choose replacements after a resignation, which allows someone handpicked by a party to run as an “incumbent” without ever being elected. –End the practice of party insiders (“Super Delegates”) having power to impose their will over elected delegates. –Charge a 10 percent tax on all political commercials (whether by party or pac) with the money going to eliminate the national debt. –Empower an independent commission with the power to fine or expel any candidate who lies in a commercial. –Require equal access to any candidate who feels they have been disadvantaged by a “half truth” in advertising. –Empower a panel of high school students to create a code of ethics for all candidates. Candidates could sign on to this code or ignore it at their own peril. Such changes would not advantage the powers to be. Some of these suggestions might lead to unintended consequences and others might be downright stupid ideas. But, like many Americans, I believe the current system doesn’t seem to be working and I hope others might start a discussion and add to these thoughts. Dr. F. Scott Regan

“Of the candidates in the running Matt clearly stands out” -Chris Gajewicz

All too often in our small community of Bowling Green, individuals make a legal mistake and wind up in a court of law. The question is… to what extent should an individual be prosecuted for their crime? Many of us with a limited knowledge of the law, (and depending on one’s political stripe), demand either leniency or a harsh penalty. The job of a judge is to listen to the arguments from both the defense and the prosecution and make a reasonable decision regarding the punishment meted out to the defendant. As prosecutor for the City of Bowling Green, Matt Reger has dealt with this situation on hundreds of occasions. There are times when some may feel that Matt’s prosecution is too lenient and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, they may feel it’s too harsh. As prosecutor for the City of BG, Matt has had to look at the severity of the crime and the long term effects of the punishment. Matt has worked closely with the BG Municipal Court judge and defense attorneys, (whether appointed by the court, privately retained as legal counsel, or through an organization like Student Legal Services on campus at BGSU), to fairly prosecute an individual while working to come to a reasonable punishment which fits the crime. Judges must have experience. They must have the ability to hear testimony from both sides and develop a decision that satisfies the law and encourages the defendant to exercise better personal responsibility in the future. Through Matt’s extensive experience in Wood County and Bowling Green Municipal Courts, I believe he is the best candidate for judge of Wood County Common Pleas Court. Of the candidates in the running, Matt clearly stands out as the one with the most experience and in my personal history of knowing Matt for over 20 years I believe he would make the most reasonable judgments while serving from this very important bench. Chris Gajewicz Bowling Green

“Matt Reger represents the best that the legal profession offers” -Victor Ten Brink

I am writing to strongly endorse Matt Reger’s candidacy for Wood County Common Pleas judge. I have known Matt throughout his 22 year legal career, including his nearly 20 years as an Assistant Municipal Prosecutor and then Municipal Prosecutor for the City of Bowling Green. As a prosecutor, Matt has earned the respect of his fellow attorneys and those in the community who have dealt with the court system and is known for his competence and professionalism. What also uniquely qualifies Matt for judicial office is the dedication that he has shown to serving the broader Wood County community. He has volunteered with and served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Black Swamp Youth Arts Festival (as chair), the Wood County Airport Authority, Woodlane Industries, Wood County Law Library, and the Wood County Bar Association (serving as a board member, secretary/treasurer, vice president and president). I have had the pleasure of working with Matt on various community projects and have come to admire his energy, creativity and tireless commitment to public service. For example, in 2011, Matt established the Community Christian Legal Services organization, which is a once-a-month legal clinic that serves the needs of those who cannot afford to hire an attorney. The success of this nonprofit organization is due to Matt’s hard work and commitment to meeting the needs of the community. Matt’s passion for public service has also taken him to numerous foreign countries as an election monitor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as providing training to attorneys and judges and in the former Soviet Union through the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative. Matt Reger represents the best the legal profession offers and he most certainly models the competency and professionalism that we want in a Common Pleas Court judge. Victor N. Ten Brink Bowling Green