Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
Akron Beacon Journal, April 28
Are Canada and the United States entering a trade war? On Tuesday, (April 25,) Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, announced that a 20 percent tariff would be applied to most Canadian softwood lumber exports. President Trump got into the act last week, calling the Canadian pricing structure for milk a “disgrace,” arguing that it makes doing business “very difficult” for American dairy farmers.
No surprise, Canadian officials see things differently, for instance, insisting that dairy farmers on this side of the border produce too much. Worth stressing is that trade disputes happen, even between the closest of trading partners, the United States and Canada each year exchanging roughly $600 billion in total goods.
More, the bottom line is even, essentially, Americans running a $15 billion trade deficit.
As it is, these disputes get resolved, and if they surface again, or new ones emerge, talks resume with the intent of bridging differences. The larger benefits of the partnership are too great to let such arguments result in lasting harm. Yet the wild card in this instance is the president.
Trump the candidate found just about nothing redeeming about the North American Free Trade Agreement. “A total disaster,” he repeated. He talked about abandoning the accord. He still plays to fears and resentments about trade playing a prime role in American job losses. …
No doubt, there is a way to resolve the matter. What the lumber and dairy disputes highlight is the complexity of the trade agreement among Canada, Mexico and the United States. If the agreement would benefit from updating (something the Trans Pacific Partnership achieved), there is much risk in opening the way for clashes among the powerful interests from all three countries, imperiling benefits such as the streamlined and now highly competitive supply chain of the auto industry.
That risk increases dramatically when politicians hold that only their side has a worthy argument.
The (Findlay) Courier, April 26
Gov. John Kasich is spending too much time out of the office these days.
Take (the last week of April) as the latest example. Kasich made the rounds on the Sunday morning news shows, appeared on a CNN town-hall forum Monday night and on Fox Tuesday morning.
Next he’ll be off on a two-week cross-country tour to promote his latest book, “Two Paths: America Divided or United,” which was released Tuesday(, April 25). The tour includes stops in New Hampshire, Illinois, California and even a couple in Ohio, on April 29 and 30. But his travels apparently won’t bring him back to Columbus until mid-May. …
Kasich has been a frequent flier since being elected governor in 2010.
He spent much time away from Columbus to run for president in 2015 and 2016, and has regularly lobbied in other states for one of his main causes: a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. …
… How much governing can one do on the campaign trail, and when would there be time for writing a book?
Kasich is a smart, effective leader, who has surrounded himself with a capable administration and department heads. That may allow him to juggle many of his duties as the state’s chief executive with his laptop and cellphone.
But a case could still be made that Kasich should spend more time dealing with Ohio’s problems and issues. …
As recently as Monday(, April 24,) on CBS News, Kasich said it’s unlikely he’ll seek elected office again. Still, no one should be surprised if he runs for president in 2020.
The governor would be doing himself a favor if he spends more time in Ohio over the next 20 months. Someday, after all, he may need this state’s voters again.
The (Youngstown) Vindicator, April 24
The courageous decision by Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction, to forgo $22 million in federal funding for the expansion of charter schools in Ohio is significant on several levels. …
DeMaria’s decision not to accept the entire $71 million federal grant for charter schools was made public (April 21) by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. …
The Plain Dealer explained that grants are available only to those schools whose “sponsors” have one of the top two ratings of “exemplary” or “effective.”
And here’s the reality check for the charter-school industry: Only five of the more than 60 sponsors in Ohio earned “effective” ratings, and none was rated “exemplary” in the fall. The vast majority was rated as “ineffective” or worse, The Plain Dealer reported.
The decision by DeMaria not to accept the entire $71 million from the federal government is also significant because it proves that Republicans in state government have put ideology before good public policy in their support of charters.
As we have argued ad nauseam in this space, billions of dollars have been spent on this failed experiment in education. …
DeMaria’s decision to accept just $49 million from Washington should serve as a teachable moment for Republicans in Columbus who have long shrugged off the reality that is the charter-school industry.
The state superintendent of public instruction is to be commended for his honest appraisal of the so-called community schools.
The Columbus Dispatch, April 30
Nothing illustrates politicians’ contempt for average Ohioans more clearly than the shape of the state’s 16 congressional districts.
Ohio’s congressional map is among the most blatantly gerrymandered in the nation, drawn to ensure that not one of the districts is politically competitive.
The districts cynically split counties, cities, villages, townships and neighborhoods. The current map splits county boundaries 54 times. Seven counties are split among three or more congressional districts.
The districts twist and turn like snakes and other creatures …
… Ohioans deserve congressional districts that respect them and the communities in which they live.
Contorted, meandering districts, in Ohio and other states, are a prime reason congressional politics are poisonous — as partisan and ugly as ever in modern times. They encourage extremism, discourage bipartisanship and sabotage efforts to find common ground.
Fortunately, Ohioans soon might have an opportunity to support a statewide ballot issue to end gerrymandering in our state.
A coalition of nonprofit organizations, called Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, has submitted a plan to the Ohio attorney general to place an issue on the statewide ballot in November 2017 or November 2018. …
The proposed plan would take the map-drawing job away from the state legislature and give it to the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission. The commission would be required to draw districts that are compact, do not favor or disfavor any political party, and keep communities together as much as possible.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio, one of the coalition partners, has been working doggedly on this issue for four decades, through Democratic and Republican administrations and legislatures. The league deserves widespread support for its steadfast efforts to add Ohio to the ranks of states putting citizen interests ahead of power politics.
Details of the proposed amendment, and information on getting involved, can be found at http://fairdistrictsohio.org/ …
Ohioans of every political stripe should embrace this opportunity to slay the gerrymander and end rigged elections.
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