Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Marietta Times, April 26
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, is excited about the record number of new businesses being established in the Buckeye State — more than 13,700 new filings in March alone. That is part of a long trend of increases in new business filings, for which Obhof hopes to give credit to tax cuts he says “benefited small businesses and really provided tax fairness to people who are sole proprietors.”
By “small businesses,” Obhof means employers of perhaps 10 to 20 people, and the reality is that a significant percentage of those new filings are one-person operations. The announcement about all those new filings did not include data on how long each of those businesses is able to stay open.
Nor does it analyze how many of those new entrepreneurs are taking a risk after having lost a job at one of the larger employers that has had to reduce staff or shut down altogether.
Ohio’s unemployment rate is still considerably higher than the national average (4.4 percent in March, compared with 3.8 percent for the country as a whole).
Lawmakers are correct to celebrate victories such as the hope in the economy displayed by 13,700 new filers who decided to give it a go last month. But in addition to those targeted tax cuts aimed at helping small businesses get established, there should also be an effort to make Ohio enticing enough to the larger employers that they, too, regain a foothold in the Buckeye State.
The Canton Repository, April 24
Pause for a moment to give thanks no one was killed; no one was injured seriously.
Now take another few moments to consider the dangers of America’s hottest outdoor design feature: the backyard fire pit.
Early Tuesday, a family sleeping in its North Canton home escaped harm when neighbors alerted them to fire on their property — a blaze caused when an unattended fire in the homeowners’ pit had reignited and quickly engulfed a shed and detached garage nearby.
According to the North Canton Fire Department, the fire then reached the back wall of the house and continued spreading.
Damage was estimated at about $150,000, with the house declared a total loss.
One firefighter sustained minor injuries but did not need medical attention, the department said.
Fire pits are becoming nearly ubiquitous in backyards across our area and the country. Various media have cited an American Society of Landscape Architects ranking of outdoor design elements as listing fire features as today’s most popular, trending ahead of outdoor lighting and wireless connectivity.
With that popularity, however, comes an increase in accidents and injuries — mainly burns from direct contact with pits, but also from secondary fires caused by placing the pits too close to other structures or leaving embers unattended.
Injuries from outdoor fires have increased about three-fold in the past decade, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. About one-fourth of the burn victims are under the age of 5, according to published reports, and many are burned the next day, when abandoned coals can remain hot.
Several safety agencies and insurance carriers offer tips for fire pit safety. Most are simple common sense.
Here are a few to keep in mind:
. Build your fire pit on a level surface, placing raised pits on brick, tile or concrete blocks, not directly on the grass.
. Keep fire at a safe distance — at least 10 feet — from homes, fences, tree branches and other potential sources of flammable material. The more clearance, the better.
. Don’t build a fire pit with river stones. The moisture in such stones can heat rapidly, exploding the rock. Use dry, rough stones instead.
. Avoid using pits during windy conditions that can allow embers to spread.
. Put your fire out safely with water, then gently stir and spread the ashes. Leave the area only when the ash is cool to the touch.
. Keep buckets or water (or sand) or a garden hose at the ready for an emergency.
More and more people are deciding fire pits add beauty to their landscaping and enhance their time outdoors. Beware, though, the inherent dangers. Don’t play with fire.
The News-Herald, April 27
The callous disregard that many drivers have for speed limits was vividly illustrated recently when the Ohio Highway Patrol conducted enforcement on a section of Route 2 in Mentor,
A News-Herald story focused on a speed detail performed by the OHP that involved an airplane checking motorists’ speeds accompanied by patrol cars on the ground.
The Ohio Highway Patrol has been collecting speed, crash and traffic volume data on state Route 2 for the past three years in the area that spans from Heisley Road to Route 615.
However, this year the Mentor Air Speed Zone, as the area is classified, has been put at the front of its focus. The OHP, in collaboration with the Mentor Police Department, has been conducting speed details by air.
“The area of focus for these operations has primarily been for crash-causing violations involving (unsafe speed, following too close, aggressive lane changes),” said Sgt. Jeremy Kindler of the OHP Chardon Post.
And those violations have been spotted quite frequently.
Since the operations started in March, and through April 16, when a News-Herald reporter watched the speed detail in action from the OHP’s plane, officers on the ground had made contact with 56 violators, Kindler said.
Kindler explained that the “air speed” detail serves a dual purpose of protecting motorists as well as troopers at ground level who are conducting enforcement.
“The officers are safely parked off the side of the highway and the plane radios the vehicles to stop,” he said. “The plane will follow the cars until the ground officer has successfully initiated a traffic stop in a safe area for officer, violator and public traveling on the highway.”
It would have been an understatement to say that the officers kept busy during an early morning speed detail on April 16.
There were four units on the ground that issued 15 speed citations within an hour. Within the first six minutes of the flight, all four troopers were issuing speed citations.
The speeds for which these citations were written ranged from 80 mph to 106 mph. To put it in perspective, the speed limit for this stretch of highway is 60 mph.
In two of the instances where an officer pulled a motorist over for speeding, there were also citations issued for driving under suspension. One of those motorists was taken into custody and had his vehicle towed when officers found drugs and seized them for testing.
The pilot, OHP Trooper Milan Milosevic, continued clocking traffic while the troopers were busy.
The four units on the ground could not keep up with the number of speeding motorists the pilot clocked, including three vehicles doing speeds of 90, 92 and 93 mph, all within a minute of each other.
At one point during the flight, Milosevic noted that there appeared to be no one traveling anywhere near the legal speed limit.
It’s clear to us that the OHP’s plane serves as an effective enforcement tool for areas such as the one being studied on Route 2 in Mentor.
According to Kindler, the plane is used for details like this because of the pilot’s ability to spot multiple violators at the same time, while units on the ground may only be able to observe one or two violations. Such was the case during the April 16 detail when the pilot observed seven cars at one time traveling more than 70 mph.
The OHP, in its efforts to make the roadways safer, plans to continue its collaboration with Mentor police in monitoring this area and hopes to do so on a weekly basis.
“Anytime you have an unsafe speed in addition to aggressive lane changes and following too close, it increases the likelihood of crashes.” Kindler said.
We commend both law enforcement agencies for working together on this effort. While they are producing some impressive results, it’s also a bit scary to think about how many motorists drive at dangerously high speeds on Route 2 and get away with it. It’s unfortunate that some of these drivers probably will never learn their lesson about the hazards of speeding until they are involved in a serious crash. And if that happens, it might be too late to prevent someone from being injured or killed.
The Plain Dealer, April 24
New census estimates reveal a powerful force for population stability in America’s urban cores — if cities like Cleveland can take advantage of it. In the face of continuing suburban flight from U.S. cities, immigrants are the new stabilizing force for urban America, a Brookings Institution analysis of recently released Census Bureau population estimates has found.
Among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, Akron was the No. 1 exhibit for this phenomenon, ranking 1st in the contribution of immigration to its population gains since 2010.
The Cleveland-Elyria area, which had a net loss of more than 20,000 people in that time, ranked 99th. (Pittsburgh’s metro was in last place at 100.)
What does this tell us? First, that immigration is not a bad word, despite all the partisan hype trying to scare people about black and brown immigrants. The contributions of legal immigration have nothing to do with country of origin and everything to do with making sure those with legal status can start businesses, create jobs and contribute to innovation.
Second, that legal immigration is a boon for urban America and for the U.S. economy, and should be made far easier and smarter to accomplish, in Cleveland and elsewhere.
That means comprehensive immigration reform — something that was tantalizingly close just six years ago, when the Senate passed an immigration bill by a huge margin. That bill died in the U.S. House, where it also had strong support, after then-House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio — who earlier appeared to mock colleagues too lily-livered to support it — declined to bring the bill to the floor in the face of a conservative rebellion within the GOP.
Such reform remains possible and needed. Legal immigration is exactly what the new census estimates show it to be — a stabilizing force and engine of growth for our cities.
Akron shows why.
The Akron metro area of about 700,000 is not immune to suburban flight. The metro area lost 14,505 people to out-migration between 2010 and last year — but it gained 13,108 from immigration, the Brookings think tank found.
When added to “natural increase” — Akronites having children, weighed against older folks dying — that yielded a net population gain of 1,642, more than 100 percent of it driven by immigration, according to Brookings.
The Chicago area was ranked second, after Akron, in terms of immigration’s contribution to overall population growth; Detroit was third; the New York City area sixth and Dayton’s metro area, seventh.
For Greater Cleveland at No. 99, it was a different story.
According to Brookings, 37,196 immigrants arrived in Greater Cleveland in the last eight years.
Pretty healthy, and largely a reflection of the area’s strong “Eds and Meds” base, right?
But 71,731 residents left the Cleveland metro area in that time, moving to suburbs, other parts of Ohio or other states.
So, despite natural growth of 14,921, the Cleveland area’s population fell by 20,269. While the Cleveland metro population is still at slightly more than 2 million people, the current population estimates reflect a continuation of this region’s troubling steady downward trend.
Let’s set aside the prejudices and embrace legal immigration for the vitality, and stability, it’s been shown to confer in towns large and small. That means broad immigration reform, a wider recognition of immigration’s overall economic positives and more efforts in Greater Cleveland both to counter out-migration and also to ease the in-migration of ambitious and hardworking newcomers to our country.