June 10, 2024: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


By The Associated Press

Toledo Blade. June 5, 2024.

Editorial: Mass shooting response

A mass shooting in Akron kills one, wounds 24 and police fear an escalation of violence in retaliation.

It’s an inevitable outgrowth of Ohio’s everyone-should-have-a-gun culture, anytime, anywhere.

Saturday night a large crowd was celebrating a birthday outside a private residence near an Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority development. The partiers had spilled out into the street and an open field beside the house, when police say a car drove by and began firing.

There was panic as some celebrants ran for their lives. But there was also a counter-attack. Akron police report finding 35 shell casings from different guns, including some from an assault rifle.

Akron officials expressed relief that only one person of the 25 shot was killed in the carnage. But Akron police think the shooting was gang-related and fear the targets plan to retaliate rather than cooperate with the investigation.

Akron Police Chief Brian Harding said there are over 100 people who witnessed the incident but so far police have no suspect and little to go on. A reward of $22,500 has been pieced together for information that leads to an arrest and a system is in place to protect witness anonymity.

All Toledoans should be watching Akron closely, as the Rubber City and Glass City are much alike in their gun violence prevention programs. Akron proposes a “street team” starting in August to perform much the same task as Toledo’s “violence interrupters.” Toledo is further along but in each city the idea is to augment the police with people theoretically closer to the community and better able to mediate and resolve disputes.

The need for gun violence programs is another way of addressing violence, given the dearth of cooperation being shown. The lack of support in the investigation of a shooting so many people saw fuels legitimate fear that retaliation will take precedence over cooperation with police.

Ominously, the individuals involved are all old enough to understand their legal obligation. The fatally shot man was 27. Most of the wounded were in their 30s, according to Akron police. The Akron party was not a bunch of rowdy teens, it was an adult affair.

In Toledo, the shooting violence perhaps has not been as dramatic as that in Akron, but has been steady and seems to take a toll of injured or dead people every weekend. If Toledo has not faced a similar situation as Akron, could it possibly be because of the efforts of the violence interrupters?

It’s impossible to know the answer but highly likely that Akron’s Toledo-style violence prevention program will be quickly implemented this summer.

Ohio lawmakers have stripped cities of all authority over guns, leaving cities like Toledo and Akron at the mercy of armed gangs and little resources to fight back.

Since state laws have allowed the cascade of guns in Ohio, the state should take over the violence interruption programs that cities are turning to.

The program has been bedeviled in Toledo by turnovers, incompetence, and personnel disputes. The state could oversee the program, possibly through independent contractors, to create a buffer between city government and the interrupters.


Youngstown Vindicator. June 8, 2024.

Editorial: Liv’s Law needs swift passage for safer roads

Recent testimony in the Ohio House of Representatives on a bill to get tough on impaired drivers revealed this sobering claim to shame for Ohio: The Buckeye State ranks 49th of 50 states in addressing and preventing drunken driving.

That legislation, House Bill 37, received a lengthy airing since being introduced in February 2023. After numerous hearings on its potential life-saving benefits, House members of all political stripes passed it unanimously late last month.

Now it’s imperative for the state Senate to act with all due speed to approve it and send to the governor for enactment. The sooner it’s in force, the sooner Ohio can stand a fighting chance of ridding itself of its dubious distinction as a relatively safe haven for drunken drivers, particularly those who recklessly crush the life out of others.

HB 37 is nicknamed “Liv’s Law,” after Olivia Wright who was killed by a man who in a drunken, blacked-out stupor, veered left of center on Highway 104 near Ashville and killed the 22-year-old in September 2020. The driver, Benjamin Shuler, received a paltry five-year prison sentence and went on to face charges for violence during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

In the Mahoning Valley, the leniency of Ohio’s drunken driving laws has been demonstrated time and time again. Just earlier this year, a woman originally charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and OVI and accused of crashing into a South Side Youngstown porch and killing a man in 2020 was sentenced to mere probation after pleading guilty to lesser charges in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

As for the ongoing campaign to achieve justice for Liv, Bryan and Teresa Wright, Liv’s parents, have been passionately fighting to put teeth in this state’s drunken driving statutes so that other parents will not have to face the same trauma and anguish that continue to haunt them daily.

“Having lost Olivia to a drunk driver has completely destroyed our family to its core, and it is a scene that plays out across the state of Ohio far too often,” Bryan Wright testified to the House committee that reviewed the bill.

Wright added that tougher laws have worked in other states, and House Bill 37 will make a difference in the fight against this 100% preventable crime by giving victims and victim survivors the justice they deserve. Most importantly, and it will save lives.

Among the key provisions, HB 37 sponsored by State Reps. Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe) and Kevin Miller (R-Newark) would:

● Trigger increased minimum mandatory prison terms for aggravated vehicular homicide that is the result of an OVI offense to up to 20 years.

● Implement a one-strike (rather than three-strike) policy meaning that if defendants have pleaded guilty to one OVI in the past 20 years, they are subject to the harshest penalties.

● Increase the maximum fines for aggravated vehicular homicide committed as the result of an OVI to $25,000.

Clearly, these harsher penalties and punishments would serve as stronger deterrents. According to Doug Scoles, state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, drunken driving crimes increased 23% in Ohio from 2019 to 2020, and the trend has not decreased or improved since then.

Repeat OVI offenses in Ohio also are off the charts. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Unit, on average 40% of all OVI offenders which is an average of 14,847 offenders a year, are repeat offenders. That is 10.5 percentage points higher than a 22 state average of 29.5% reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Greater mandatory use of ignition interlocks also called for in Liv’s Law bode well for keeping more impaired drivers off our roads. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol OVI Dashboard, from 2006 to 2020 in Ohio, interlocks stopped 34,927 attempts to drive drunk with a BAC over .08.

With so much going for it, there’s no time to waste to enact these needed upgrades in Ohio’s OVI statutes. Ohio senators must not let Liv’s Law stall out.

Swift enactment of Liv’s Law will help reduce drunken-driving carnage in Ohio and serve as a fitting legacy to Olivia Wright who made helping others less fortunate than herself a priority all her life.


Elyria Chronicle. June 7, 2024.

Editorial: Stop trying to restrict library books

Who knew Ohio’s libraries were so dangerous?

Apparently, state Rep. Al Cutrona.

On Monday, the Canfield Republican introduced a bill that would require libraries to take steps to protect juvenile patrons from “harmful” materials.

Specifically, library boards would be required to implement policies to ensure that those under 18 wouldn’t be able to view or access harmful materials without parental consent.

What’s considered harmful would be policed by ordinary Ohioans, who could report suspected violations to the state library board, which would investigate.

If the board members, appointed by the director of the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, determined there was a violation, they could order that state funds be withheld from the library. (The Ohio Capital Journal reported this week that state funding for libraries had been dropping even before the bill was introduced.)

Of course, what one person views as harmful to their kids might be perfectly acceptable to another.

The bill doesn’t really define what would be considered harmful to juveniles. It does, however, refer to an existing section of the Ohio Revised Code, which describes such material, in part, as including material or performances “describing or representing nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse in any form.”

It’s a mighty broad definition, and one that could be applied to far more than hard-core pornography.

Plenty of books, both classic and modern, contain sex scenes, which could run afoul of the bill.

Cutrona told The Ohio Capital Journal that he was just looking out for the kids.

“What this accomplishes is protecting our youth, protecting our children and allowing them to go to a safe place where parents are not concerned what materials they are going to come in contact with,” he said.

Parents should have a say over what their own children read, watch and browse on the internet, but policing that content is their responsibility. It shouldn’t be outsourced to librarians, who have plenty else to do besides read over the shoulders of patrons. (It’s also worth remembering that some libraries already do restrict access to some materials.)

Moreover, parents of one child shouldn’t get to decide what’s appropriate for someone else’s kid to check out of the library.

We’ve made this argument before, including when a parent tried to force the Lorain County Joint Vocational School to drop John Greene’s “Looking for Alaska” from its reading curriculum.

As we argued then, we had no issue with the mother deciding that the book, which includes sexual scenes, wasn’t appropriate for her daughter.

It was the insistence that “Looking for Alaska” wasn’t appropriate for other people’s daughters and sons that was the problem. (The JVS board rightly kept the book as part of its curriculum.)

We raised the same point again last month when another lawmaker, state Rep. Adam Mathews, R-Lebanon, put forward a bill that threatened teachers and school librarians with felony charges if they allowed students access to “obscenity.”

Obscenity is hard to define because what’s considered obscene varies wildly from person to person.

What is clear, however, is that the national push by conservatives who want to ban books they consider obscene, harmful or divisive, as they define those concepts, has fully arrived in Ohio.

Among the books most frequently targeted are those dealing with LGBTQ issues, which many conservatives seem to believe are corrupting the minds of impressionable youth.

Reading books about LGBTQ characters or issues won’t turn someone gay, just as reading a book about a serial killer won’t turn someone into a murderer.

We concede, as we have before, that some liberals, too, seek to ban or otherwise limit access to books, albeit for different reasons. Liberals’ efforts to police what people read are no more appropriate than those of conservatives.

However, Ohio is a red state, which means that liberals generally lack the power, at least at the state level, to target ideas and books they don’t like.

Republicans control virtually every statewide office and hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly. They’re the ones with the power to make the lives of librarians miserable.

The result of Cutrona’s bill, should it pass, would be a state of paranoia in which librarians have no idea what someone else might find “harmful.”

Not only would that likely lead to far less interesting stacks as librarians self-censor, but funding cuts could force some libraries to reduce services or close.

Libraries hold a unique place in American society, offering access to ideas and stories free of charge.

That should be celebrated, not subjected to culture-war crackdowns.


Sandusky Register. June 4, 2024.

Editorial: Lawmakers fail at top job

We would prefer state Rep. Gary Click and other lawmakers in Columbus focus on the state budget and how public schools are funded instead of proposing and approving laws that undermine public education and diminish it.

Click, R-Vickery, and other Republicans in the supermajority statehouse have accomplished nearly nothing to establish public confidence that they care about public schools.

They have done the opposite of that with school vouchers and so-called “school choice” programs that take money away from public programming and funnel it to private interest schools. They are masters at mistitling these laws to misrepresent their causes and effects.

Click has proposed that all of Ohio’s nearly 700 public school districts have specific plans for including school daytime programming plans for student families that want to worship during the school day.

House Bill 445 is not specifically written to make it easier for a group called LifeWise to offer Bible classes to public school students but that would be a “great outcome,” Click said. The measure applies to all forms of religious instruction, not just one group, Click said.

But Click has an interest, a deeply personal one. A Christian pastor, if churches were businesses, he might very well be subject to ethics questions for promoting this proposal that will have a direct impact on his own church in Fremont.

But a church is not a business, and a family’s choice about where to worship and what to believe is a highly personal one that the state has no business promoting or requiring it to be promoted. That is exactly what Click’s proposal would do.

We believe in home rule for public school districts, and we believe it’s Click’s responsibility and the responsibility of every lawmaker to protect and promote the interests of our public schools. He’s failed to do that and, instead, Click and others diminish its importance in our communities.

House Bill 445, co-authored by state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, would require all school boards to adopt policies for letting students attend religious classes. The measure has been assigned to the House Primary and Secondary Education Committee, which hasn’t voted on it yet. Current law already allows school districts to allow students time to worship, during the school day; this change, if it’s adopted would require them to have programs.

Home rule for our schools should not be micromanaged by pastor lawmakers, or politicians with an agenda to circumvent traditional boundaries to appease a gerrymandered electorate. This bill should be defeated.


Marietta Times. June 4, 2024.

Editorial: Take advantage of extended sales tax holiday

With this school year just ended, it seems a little early to be thinking about the end of summer and the start of the 2024-25 academic year. But for families who plan summer spending as carefully as possible in anticipation of next year’s expenses, Gov. Mike DeWine had some important news last week.

The 2024 Sales Tax Holiday has been expanded. No longer just a weekend, the event will run from midnight Tuesday, July 30, through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8. That’s a week and a half for families to take advantage of tax-free purchases — made in-person or online — of eligible items up to $500.

“Ohio’s sales tax holiday, historically, has been meant to help families buy clothing and school supplies for the upcoming school year,” DeWine said. “This expanded sales tax break will help Ohio’s families with back-to-school necessities as well as other substantial purchases during a time when so many household budgets are being strained.”

Changes this year also include an increase in the purchase price limits for items.

Those of you hoping the exemption will apply to services, watercraft, outboard motors, motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, vapor products, or any item that contains marijuana are out of luck, however.

While the policy is perhaps meant to aid lower-income families looking to get the most out of their back-to-school budgets, the truth is everyone can take advantage of the savings. Even better, the ten-day holiday could provide an opportunity to shop for school items at some of our local small businesses, too.

Whatever advantage it brings, policymakers are to be commended for extending this year’s window for eliminating the sales tax. Though it might seem as though an eternity stretches between now and July 30, it will be time to shop sooner than we imagine. Take advantage of the extended sales tax holiday in Ohio — and spread the word.

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