Editorials from around Ohio
Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Marietta Times, May 22
Gov. Mike DeWine is asking Ohio lawmakers to consider abolishing the state’s statute of limitations for sexual assault. His inspiration is the revelation that the late Dr. Richard Strauss sexually abused nearly 180 male Ohio State University students between 1979 and 1998. Though it is a moot point for Strauss, who killed himself in 2005, DeWine said the current statute of limitations means that, were he alive, Strauss likely could not be prosecuted today.
And Strauss certainly is not the only monster committing such crimes in Ohio.
Right now, the statute of limitations for rape is 20-25 years, depending on the circumstances. Some other felony sex crimes must be prosecuted in as little as six years. Misdemeanor sex charges must be filed within two years, and civil lawsuits must be filed within 1-2 years.
Horrific as it may be, lawmakers must understand there are some victims who have not yet aged out of the guardianship of their abusers during that time frame. Others sometimes take years of counseling to gain the confidence to accuse their attackers.
DeWine has ordered a working group to study an unredacted version of an OSU report released last week to determine if the Ohio State Medical Board knew about Strauss’ abuse, and, then, whether the board did anything about it.
“We can use this tragedy as an opportunity to review Ohio’s current laws and to take steps to change the culture of how we respond to sexual abuse,” DeWine said.
Lawmakers should not play politics with this request. The only finger-pointing it should inspire is toward the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, to serve notice that no amount of time will save them from the consequences of their deeds.
The Toledo Blade, May 28
In a refreshing display of bipartisanship, Sens. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Rand Paul (R., Ky.) are teaming up to restore due process for travelers moving through the U.S. border.
The senators’ Protecting Data at the Border Act would require border agents to either obtain a warrant or written consent to search the electronics of a person entering or exiting the United States.
There has been a precipitous rise in the number of electronic device searches in recent years. The 30,200 searches conducted in 2017 represented a 58.5 percent increase from the year prior. The number increased again in 2018, as Customs and Border Protection administered 33,000 searches.
What’s more, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security found in 2018 that border agents frequently mishandled personal data acquired during these searches, failing to delete sensitive information from DHS servers. The OIG also found that 67 percent of these searches were documented incorrectly, containing insufficient or inaccurate information about how or why the search was conducted.
Previously, border agents did not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct these searches or acquire data.
The bill from Senators Wyden and Paul seeks to rectify this glaring oversight, hopefully restoring some measure of due process.
“The border is quickly becoming a rights-free zone for Americans who travel,” Mr. Wyden said in a statement. “The government shouldn’t be able to review your whole digital life simply because you went on vacation, or had to travel for work.”
The pair of senators introduced a similar bill in 2017, but it failed to gain much support.
That should change in 2019.
The Protecting Data at the Border Act provides common sense protections for people passing through the border, ensuring that civil liberties are protected and the Fourth Amendment is upheld. These are nonpartisan values that can and should be supported by people across the political spectrum.
But one thing this bill cannot fix is the sort of bureaucratic incompetency that the OIG identified within Homeland Security and the CBP. If Congress passes the legislation, it should also take care to exercise its oversight power to ensure that it is being enforced properly.
Few rights are as precious as those that protect citizens from unjust governmental intrusion. Congress must do its part to protect them.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 24
Clevelanders are still celebrating the May 22 announcement that the city will host the 2021 NFL Draft. “It’s a big, big deal to our area,” said the Browns’ Jimmy Haslam, who worked with Dave Gilbert of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission to bring the big-money, fan-favorite draft to town.
Haslam is right. It is a big, big deal. But it’s not the only big, big deal Gilbert has swung for this city since he took over the sports commission in 2000 (he added leadership of Destination Cleveland 11 years later).
Think RNC: Gilbert led the 2016 Cleveland host committee for the Republican National Convention that showcased Cleveland to the world. And coming up are the MLB All-Star Game July 9, the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball championships next year, the NBA All-Star Game in 2022 and the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2024.
Adding the NFL Draft in 2021 makes the lineup even sweeter. And how many cities of Cleveland’s size can boast this recent cornucopia of major events?
If anyone doubts how hard Dave Gilbert personally has worked to make this all happen, let’s review:
2000 - Gilbert takes helm of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
2002 - U.S. gymnastics championships are held in Cleveland.
2004 - International Children’s Games bring 2,500 participants from 53 countries to Cleveland.
2009 - U.S. figure skating championships are held in Cleveland.
2013 - The National Senior Games land in town.
2014 - The Gay Games welcome participants from 50 nations and 48 U.S. states.
2016 - The Republican National Convention is held in Cleveland.
2018 - The NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships hit the mats in town.
The combined economic impact from all these events is in the hundreds of millions. (The Gay Games alone had a $51.3 million impact, according to the Cleveland Foundation. The RNC was estimated at a $142 million local impact by Cleveland State University scholars.)
Yet, as the RNC showed, the biggest value is in the boost to the town’s image and downtown vitality.
The NFL Draft will be no different, drawing fans decked out in their individual team colors from all over the country, along with extensive television coverage and ancillary events that will have a regional impact. Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame already is planning for a boost in attendance.
This year’s NFL Draft, in Nashville, set attendance records, with more than 600,000 fans attending, 47.5 million watching on television and more than $100 million in revenue.
Thank you, Dave Gilbert, for your stellar efforts. The real question for Cleveland may be: What are you working on next?
The Youngstown Vindicator, May 28
A bunch of white suprema- cists went to Dayton to foment hatred and, instead, were confronted by an overwhelming demonstration of love and camaraderie.
But the presence of members of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan in a major city in Ohio was a stark reminder of the rise of white nationalism across the United States.
As Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Associated Press, the number of hate groups is growing, driven in part by a toxic political culture.
The human rights organization counted 784 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2014 and 1,020 in 2018.
Indeed, while Dayton residents sent a timely and clear message by drowning out the Kluxers and their ilk, Mayor Nan Whaley had an observation about her city that President Donald J. Trump should be conveying about the nation:
“Dayton is still too segregated and still too unequal. This is unacceptable, and something we must keep focused on to change every single day.”
The Dayton Daily News reported that 500 to 600 people showed up Saturday on Courthouse Square to protest the rally by the Indiana KKK.
The paper, which made note of the presence of more than 700 law enforcement personnel, quoted Shanta Parham, 39, of Dayton, as saying it was important to show pride and solidarity and to not respond with violence, hate or stupidity.
“This is my city, and I am going to stand up for it,” Parham said.
It’s the kind of message that needs to be delivered around the country as the racial divide widens.
Despite the insistence of the White House that President Trump has shown the proper leadership in tamping down the racist rhetoric, the fact remains that his comments after white supremacists rallied in August 2017 in Charlottsville have energized the KKK and others.
Although a counterprotester was killed when a car rammed into her and others, the president responded by claiming there were “very fine people on both sides.”
Trump has also fueled the white nationalist movement with his anti-immigration rhetoric and his claims that dangerous criminals are pouring into this country from the Southern Hemisphere.
Here are the opening paragraphs of the extensive story by the Associated Press about the increase in hate groups, especially in the West.
“Nearly two decades after the Aryan Nations’ Idaho compound was demolished, far-right extremists are maintaining a presence in the Pacific Northwest.
“White nationalism has been on the rise across the U.S., but it has particular resonance along the Idaho-Washington border, where the Aryans espoused hate and violence for years.”
ALLIES IN GOVERNMENT
What is most troubling is that such groups are finding allies in government and other public institutions.
For instance, in the county that houses Hayden Lake, Idaho, where Aryan Nations was based for decades, Republicans last month passed a measure that puts the Trump administration on the spot.
Members of the GOP expressed support for U.S. entry of a prominent Austrian far-right activist who was investigated for ties to the suspected gunman in the New Zealand mosque massacre.
In late April, a self-described “American Nationalist” named Brittany Pettibone appeared at a meeting of Kootenai County, Idaho, Republicans to ask for help to bring her boyfriend, Martin Sellner, to the country from Austria, the Associated Press reported.
Pettibone, 26, said Sellner wants to marry her and live in Post Falls, Idaho.
Pettibone was a big promoter of the hoax known as “Pizzagate,” telling her online followers Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats were involved in satanic rituals and child-sex trafficking tied to a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.
Sellner is a leading figure in the extremist “identitarian” movement, which espouses a white nationalist ideology (that) has swept over Europe amid an influx of migrants and refugees. He has confirmed he exchanged emails with the suspected New Zealand shooter, who donated money to Sellner’s group. But Sellner denies involvement in the attack, according to the wire service.
Despite his background, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution urging the federal government to allow Sellner into the United States. The resolution said the government revoked Sellner’s travel privileges “for political reasons,” and demanded those privileges be reinstated.
Republican President Trump and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate have made it clear that Islamic extremists from the Middle East will be kept out of the United States.
What about an extremist from Europe?
The nation will be watching to see how the Trump administration treats white extremist Sellner.