June 18, 2024: This week’s editorials from Ohio newspapers


Toledo Blade. June 12, 2024.

Editorial: Ohio economy falling

It is helpful to see the comma between Toledo and Ohio as a plus sign. The link between city and state is a key factor in the success of each. Right now Ohio is falling into serious decline and that hurts every city in the state.

The financial website WalletHub has a rating out on the 50 state economies, and Ohio’s ranking does not match the state’s incessant boasting about economic development success. WalletHub ranks Ohio’s economy as 42nd. The Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank recently rated the state 45th. Each study confirms Ohio is lagging and should stop bragging.

The Blade Editorial Board strongly believes misguided state policy that has cut the local government fund in Ohio’s budget by more than two-thirds for over a decade has been a monumental blunder that shifts too much financial power to the state.

Economic development always requires a local partner. Ohio has foolishly weakened an equal partner in the process and turned that plus sign into a minus sign.

Ohio policy fails to understand most economic activity consists of small projects that do not get the massive incentives JobsOhio provided to the Intel computer chip plant in Licking County. The smaller the development prospect the bigger the role played by local government.

Ohio’s economic weakness is from a failure to help its communities earn those small development opportunities through the most attractive possible environment. Every Ohio city has been on short rations from the state since 2011. Now the state budget is under pressure from falling tax collections, and the state will need to use its rainy day fund to close the gap. ( “Ohio tax collections back in the black for May,” Friday )

It’s easy for lawmakers who spend too much time in Columbus to presume all is well with the state economy.

Metropolitan Columbus has benefited greatly and grown significantly as much more money than past policy would allow has accumulated in the capital city. Ohio has nearly $4 billion in the rainy day fund.

Brain drain and a stagnant business economy afflict much of the state, while the resources that could have helped have been diverted into the rainy day fund.

Ultimately even Columbus’ prospects are diminished by Ohio’s slide into mediocrity. One prosperous city isn’t enough to keep the state strong, and if Ohio falls, Columbus cannot rise.

Michigan is ranked as the 19th strongest state economy and the Cleveland Fed data shows Michigan’s economy growing nearly five times faster than Ohio’s. Toledo’s proximity to Michigan is one of its greatest economic advantages and its connection to Ohio is its greatest handicap.

Both of these truths indicate a profound political failure in Ohio state government.


Youngstown Vindicator. June 14, 2024.

Editorial: Closing the racial equality gap in Ohio

As Juneteenth approaches, it is important to take a look in the mirror and look at how far we have come (or not) since the end of slavery in 1865. There are plenty of measures to examine. WalletHub’s “State Economies with the Most Racial Equality (2024)” takes a look at the matter from an economic perspective.

Based on the numbers, Ohio does not fare very well. In fact, the Buckeye State is 44th in the country for overall racial equality in the state economy. (Alaska is best, the District of Columbia is worst.)

According to WalletHub, nationwide for every $100 of wealth in white households there is only $15 of wealth in black households.

In addition, “A recent study found that only 7% of managerial positions and 4%-5% of senior managerial positions belong to black Americans, even though that demographic makes up 14% of U.S. employees. The overall black unemployment rate is consistently higher than the white unemployment rate, too,” WalletHub reports.

“The U.S. has come a long way in terms of implementing equal rights, but there’s still a lot of racial inequality in our country when it comes to wealth and employment,” said WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe. “Therefore, it’s important to celebrate and learn from the states that have helped black Americans gain a good financial footing and close the gap with white Americans.”

But how? What can we learn and how can we make a difference?

One expert pointed out housing can be a big piece of the puzzle, and that it is not always federal or state officials creating the challenges.

“Any federal and state efforts to increase housing affordability, that often-thwarted pathway to wealth for minority groups and especially black Americans, must be aligned with local zoning restrictions,” said Robert Wyllie, an assistant professor at Ashland University. “When local authorities do not allow builders to construct affordable homes, the wealth of current area homeowners will continue to grow in proportion to local renters — in so many places around the country, this is what is driving the increasing racial wealth gap.”

Other factors where some states excel include low median annual income gaps, low labor-force participation rate gaps (Alaska is fourth after a three-way tie for first), low unemployment rate gaps (Alaska is first) and low poverty and homelessness gap rates (Alaska is second and tied for first, respectively, in those categories, too).

It’s an impressive performance from a state that did not join the Union until nearly a century after emancipation. Policymakers across the country had better start looking at what it is about Alaska that has allowed it to get this one right.


Elyria Chronicle. June 11, 2024.

Editorial: Model policy for cell phones in schools goes too far

We don’t live in a model world.

If we did, the model policy for limiting students’ use of cell phones during school hours put forward last month by the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce might work.

Unfortunately, the policy doesn’t allow enough flexibility for students and their families because it states that students should be “prohibited from using cell phones at all times” while on school property during the school day.

The only exceptions would be if a cell phone is necessary to monitor or address a health concern or to serve “a purpose documented in the student’s individualized education program.”

School districts aren’t required to adopt the model policy, which DEW created after the Ohio General Assembly unanimously approved a bill requiring districts to develop a cell-phone policy.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who signed the bill into law last month, had called for limiting student cell-phone use during his State of the State address in April.

Schools must develop a cell-phone policy for students by July 2025, although many will probably do so before then, if they don’t already have such policies in place.

Limiting cell-phone use during the school day is a well-intentioned idea, because, as the draft policy noted, “research shows that student use of cell phones in schools has negative effects on student performance and mental health.”

The ubiquity of cell phones in schools, not to mention outside school can be a problem. They are chock full of distractions and can keep kids from engaging with their peers and families.

But they also are communications tools.

That’s where the idea of a near-total ban on cell phones in schools runs into problems.

Students, like adults, need to be able to communicate with family members and other people throughout the course of the day.

A student might have forgotten his or her lunch or homework and need a parent to drop it off. Or maybe a student needs to coordinate when he or she is going to be picked from school or an after-school activity.

Yes, students could reach out to their folks the old-fashioned way by heading to the office to make a call, but we can only imagine the line that would greet secretaries some days.

Alternatively, students could ask permission to send a text or make a phone call, but should that really be necessary for a quick message telling a parent that practice was cancelled that day?

Schools need to recognize that in many households both parents work, which means they need to be able to communicate with their kids during the school day. If parents can’t get out of work to pick up a kid early, they might need to coordinate with other family members or friends to make sure their child isn’t sitting around waiting for a ride.

Such coordination is easier if students have access to their phones.

The worst-case scenario, of course, is that students might need their cell phones during an emergency, such as a fire or a shooting, so they can call their parents or dial 911.

If a district’s policy requires cell phones to be kept in lockers, zippered away in inaccessible pouches or otherwise away from students, communicating with parents about practice or during an emergency would be far harder, if not impossible.

That concern would be mitigated if students could keep their phones on their persons or in their backpacks and only access their devices as needed.

We agree that students shouldn’t be on their phones during class, unless an app is necessary for the lesson at hand.

It also would be better if students didn’t spend their lunches or study halls playing on their phones. They should be using that time to socialize with their fellow students, catch up on homework or read a book.

However, sending a quick message or two between classes, during study hall or at lunch should be allowed.

We imagine teachers, principals and even lawmakers do that sort of thing all the time.

Schools should take steps to limit students from being on their phones all day, but they must also recognize that the devices have their uses.

Beleaguered school secretaries aside, near-blanket bans might be easier to enforce for educators, but a more flexible approach would be more appropriate for the real world.


Sandusky Register. June 13, 2024.

Editorial: Texting drivers banned

There should be a universal distress call of some kind — a loud, deafening blast of noise — that gets sent to all distracted drivers that they alone can hear whenever their eyes gaze upon or their hands touch a cellphone while they’re driving.

We’ve all seen it happen, quite frequently, too frequently, and to the point that makes it uncomfortable knowing how many thoughtless drivers are on the road at the same time we are. Some drivers texting while driving appear completely oblivious to the road and to the danger they are creating for themselves and anyone who is near them.

Don’t be an idiot: Don’t text and drive. But better than another, “Just Say No” campaign, Ohio lawmakers last year — with a big push from Gov. Mike DeWine, beefed up the state’s distracted driving law. They made using or holding a cellphone or other electronic devices while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull you over for cause without any other violations occurring.

The result: More than 11,700 distracted driving citations have been issued this year, a significant increase compared to other recent years, and the number of fatal accidents has decreased 17% this year compared to last year. Coincidence or causation aside, that’s welcome news.

Drivers determined to be “using, holding or supporting a device while driving” are subject to a two-point assessment to their driver’s license plus a fine of up to $150 for their first offense. Sanctions increase with each subsequent offense, and violations that occur within a work zone have fines that are doubled. It went into effect in October and, in the six months since, traffic accidents caused by distracted driving have decreased.

This was an issue that needed to be addressed. With all the politics in everything, we’re grateful lawmakers in Columbus were able to get this done. It took years longer than it should have, but at least now there are good results.


Marietta Times. June 15, 2024.

Editorial: Make sure you boat sober

Ah, summer — when the weather means boat days on the river or lake, maybe even a cold beer or two for passengers. It’s easy to forget on those hot, lazy days that responsible boaters must follow a few rules to stay safe.

Ohio Department of Commerce Divisions of Liquor Control and Cannabis Control and Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials are happy to remind those folks the laws regarding alcohol or cannabis consumption while boating are in place for a reason.

“In Ohio, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or be under the influence of marijuana, just as it is illegal to drive a car. The consequences of boating under the influence can be severe, leading to accidents, injuries and even fatalities,” the agencies said in a news release.

Of course, passengers are responsible for safety, too. That includes wearing a life jacket and not becoming a dangerous distraction to the boat operator.

“Alcohol and boating do not mix,” said Jaqueline DeGenova, superintendent of the division of liquor control. “We urge all boaters to prioritize safety by staying sober while operating a vessel and responsibly enjoying Ohio’s waterways.”

Given the legalization of non-medical cannabis, that urging extends to marijuana, too.

“Anyone who chooses to use these products are urged to do so in a safe and responsible manner, and should never operate a boat or any other kind of vehicle while under the influence,” said Jim Canepa, superintendent of the division of cannabis control.

Boat operators should be sure to familiarize themselves with Ohio’s boating laws before setting out; and be determined to stay sober for the excursion. As the agencies’ news release pointed out, there are patrols monitoring boats and other watercraft for signs of impairment.

But if an interaction with law enforcement isn’t enough incentive to behave responsibly, remember your life and the lives of your passengers are in YOUR hands. Boat sober.

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