Salem council member Nestic offers comments
To the editor: Four years ago at the start of the campaign season I wrote a letter to the editor in which I stated, "I want to issue a challenge to all area voters: Now that the events that divided us the last couple years are history, let's focus on voting into office the people most qualified for the positions." In that sentence I was referring to the flap over the fire district that created a great divide in the electorate and placed into office candidates favorable to one side of a very emotional issue - it was a very effective political tool indeed.
Well here it is, after four more years have gone by, and the Boogeyman of Salem politics is rearing its ugly head again in an attempt to divert voters' attention. This past week council voted four to three to reject participation in a State Auditor's program to conduct a performance audit for the city. The three voting to participate in the program were Mr. Whitehill, Mr. Berlin (candidate for mayor) and myself (candidate for First Ward Council). After the measure failed and the performance audit was rejected, the council president read a statement that suggested our intentions may have been a veiled attempt to reintroduce the fire district issue, or outsource the police department, or usher in a charter government. A few weeks prior to this, my political opponent made similar charges regarding our intent, and the mayor issued challenges to implement auditor's suggestions even if it included these "hot button" topics. Are we seeing a pattern here? Mr. Whitehill, Mr. Berlin and I have all had extensive budgetary responsibility and experience in business management and planning. We supported the program because we know that such a performance review is a necessary part of running any operation most efficiently and effectively. It is not at all unusual to contract outside professionals to perform such business analysis when you don't possess the expertise to do it in-house (much like the mayor recently hiring an attorney to negotiate our union contracts instead of doing it himself resulting in a favorable outcome). Our intent was to find ways to save tax payers' money in operating the city. Personally, I wanted to take advantage of the auditor's program because I don't believe city management has the time, the skills, nor the inclination to do an operations analysis job properly-it is not their specialty. Even suggesting that "one would have to consider" that our intent was to revisit the fire district, or outsource the police is nothing more than cheap political theater at best. That would presume that we already know what the outcome of the performance audit would be which, in itself, would also be an insult to the State Auditor's personnel to suggest we could sway their review to our desired outcomes. Here is where the political diversion comes in-Mr. Berlin, Mr. Whitehill and I were also the only council people that voted against the mayor's and the rest of council's plan to raise our taxes without any kind of business justification. Mr. Berlin personally went door-to-door to fight against the tax increases and I organized a ward meeting to review city finances in order to inform the electorate. When 70 percent or more of the voters denied the mayor's tax increase, we were challenged by the mayor in a council meeting to find ways to save the city money since we fought against raising taxes. Now, when we seek measures to save money and are denied by the council majority, our efforts are tainted by the Boogeyman of Salem politics. Clearly this is an effort to appeal to voters' emotions during an election season and divert attention away from the fact that the only solution this current administration and council sees is raising your taxes. Well, personally I am hopeful at least 70 percent of the voters see through this smoke screen the performance audit was about improving operations and saving tax payers' dollars to avoid raising unnecessary, unjustified taxes. Period.
DAVE NESTIC, Salem
Unhappy with council failing to accept audit
To the editor: I was very proud of the Salem public workers this week, especially the fire, police, streets and utility workers for the personal sacrifices each of them made in regard to the contracts negotiated. For as long as I can remember, they have been the tools used for politicians to attempt to scare voters into passing higher taxes. Their wages and benefits have been held up as the reason Salem is in financial distress.
Three times in the past four years, the voters said no to higher taxes by a large majority. This week the Salem Public Workers said, we hear you and we are trying to do our part. The concessions you each made go a long way toward filling the gap between the benefits of the private and public sector. We would all love to make higher wages and better benefits, but the economy has made those desires unrealistic at this time. I thank you. In the same week, I was very disappointed by four of our city council members who voted to reject a gift by the state of Ohio that could have helped the city gain incite into ways to save taxpayer dollars by running our departments more efficiently. This gift was valued at $45,000, approved by both Democrats and Republicans and offered to Salem. All city council needed to do was authorize the mayor to accept it. No repayment of that $45,000 was necessary unless the auditors found at least $45,000 in savings for the city. Discussion went on for weeks regarding what the auditors might find. The biggest fear was that auditors might suggest privatizing the police department and consolidating the fire districts. Both of these plans have been rejected in the past. With this week's concessions by public workers, those suggestions have had the benefits removed for the most part. So what would the audit suggest? No one knows, and now, no one will. And let me remind you, they are only suggestions. There was no provision that city council needed to make the changes suggested. I believe it is silly to try to guess what an audit might suggest. Internally departments run the way the employees were trained. Over the years, new money-saving methods may have been developed. When I worked at a hospital, an efficiency study was conducted. One suggestion that was implemented, was the triage system that most of you have experienced in local emergency departments. This ensured that critical patients got immediate attention and minor injuries were sent to a separate urgent care area. Many lives have been saved and time spent in waiting areas was reduced. Previously this system had only been used for disasters. To those four city council members, I say, you let the public workers carry the burden for getting our finances back on track and then rejected a gift that may have found the funds to go the next step. Albert Einstein said," Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
CYNDI BARONZZI DICKEY, Salem
There's good reason for Southern's black jerseys
To the editor: About the Southern Local football team wearing a black jersey at their game. I wish people would stop complaining and let the boys alone. If you would have been to their football game you would have heard the reasoning for this as it was announced with respect and honor of two gentlemen, one a deceased coach and the other a deceased team football player whom the district will never forget.
These jerseys were purchased by several Southern Local District citizens. Boys wear them with pride and that is all I have to say.
JEAN TICE, Irondale
Tragedy continues to stir emotions
To the editor: After reading Miss Roof's letter in support of Rikki Wheatley, the sentence that caught my attention was not how generous and kind he is but that "he does not deserve this." It doesn't matter what the circumstances are, unless it's the victim's fault or self-defense, if someone kills someone else they deserve to go to jail. She also makes a point that when the accident happened, Mr. Wheatley was not under the influence of drugs. It seems to me that if this is a true statement, it makes the situation worse. If he caused the accident because he was impaired from drugs is one thing, but if he caused the accident while he was not impaired and truly knew what he was doing is much, much worse.
I'm sure Mr. Wheatley did not plan on killing someone when he got in the truck that morning, but the fact is, as she said, "God works in mysterious ways" and that is exactly what happened. Only Mr. Wheatley knows why he went left of center that morning and that split second choice is why he is "going thru this." We could both say that a good man took the life of a good woman for no good reason. For this, Mr. Wheatley, does "deserve what he is going thru" and should thank God that his sentence wasn't longer. Instead of dwelling on how unfair this situation is for Rikki, she should be thankful that she will have her boyfriend back in two years, which is an advantage that the family and friends of Jen Baker don't have.
TERRI HUNTER, Salem
Citizen appreciates effort of those at dog pound
To the editor: Anyone who knows me knows I am an animal lover and would take in every stray dog if my husband wouldn't divorce me.
Last night at 2 a.m. I found a beagle in my garage that quite possibly was the sweetest animal I have ever come across. Starving and flea-ridden I put him up for the night and this morning I had to take him to the pound because my dog didn't take to him well. My heart broke as I saw dog after beautiful dog abandoned, or having been terribly neglected. One so thin that I would have thought her dead had she not had her eyes open.
The ladies at the county dog pound are amazing. They are so full of love and compassion not only for the dogs but for the blubbering idiot on the floor I became trying to love on each and every one of them. Shame, shame, shame on those of you who have committed these terrible atrocities on these most wonderful of God's creatures. I am so grateful for people like Dawn Croft, Shannon Triplet and the many other staff members and volunteers who show up every day to take care of those thrown away. Moreover I am told that county commissioner Michael Halleck spends a tremendous amount of time there and lends a great deal of personal support to this cause. I encourage everyone to get involved, no, I beg everyone to get involved. They are in dire need of so many things to take care of these lonely but loving animals. Please call 330-424-6663 and donate what you can or go and find your best friend. I promise you that you will find them there!
THERESA BOSEL, Lisbon
Texting while driving is just not worth the risk
To the editor: Text messaging has become the most dangerous distraction for drivers behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Yet survey after survey reveal a greater number of drivers have chosen to risk lives to send or read a text while driving.
A growing body of research confirms that taking your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and mind off the driving task radically increases your chances of causing a crash. The average time spent looking away from the road while writing and sending a text is 4.6 seconds. This amount of time with eyes off the road clearly distinguishes texting as the most dangerous distraction.
There is remarkable public consensus on the need for a law against texting while driving. In fact, 93 percent of Ohio AAA members support a ban. House Bill 99 bans all drivers in the state from text messaging while driving. AAA is calling on the Ohio Senate to help remove this menacing activity from Ohio's roadways by passing this important legislation. You can help by writing your state senator and by setting an example in everyday driving by refraining from text messaging and other distractions. It's just not worth the risk.
BRIAN NEWBACHER,Director of Public Affairs, Independence
Offering reward for theft of political signs
To the editor: My name is Bryan Blakeman. I am a councilman in the city of Columbiana. I am writing this letter to inform your readers that we had 58 Jan Giba, Bob Bieshelt and Brad Glass signs stolen over the weekend. They were taken from Main Street all the way to the edges of town.
The police were notified and we have asked for an investigation. I am writing this letter in hopes that maybe someone in Columbiana is aware of what happened and will return the signs. Running for public office is a selfless act that is very hard work. That combined with the money that it takes to run, makes it very disheartening when you have to deal with theft. I would please ask your readers to keep an eye out for the individuals who committed this crime. I will pay a $100 reward for information leading to the return of the signs. I would additionally like to ask supporters of Giba, Bieshelt, and Glass to not retaliate and steal other candidates' signs. There may be very different opinions on how the city should operate, but I don't want either side to resort to dirty politics to win. It's not worth it.
BRYAN BLAKEMAN, Columbiana
Observations on decay of Christian heritage
To the editor: A friend recently called my attention to something I feel strongly about. He is concerned about the sad decay taking place with our Christian heritage. My anonymous friend reminds me that in 1952 President Truman established one day a year as a day of National Prayer. In 1998 President Reagan designated the first Thursday of each May as a day of national pray. Obama once declared the USA was no longer a Christian nation although he has referred to himself as a Christian. However, we have a president who, for many years, attended the church of the radical and professed hater of his own his country Rev. Wright. A president who refused to decorate the Christmas tree in the White House with Christmas trimmings, but attached some items that appeared to represent the Muslim faith. A president who on Ramadan Aug. 1 to Aug. 29 appeared at a press conferences missing his wedding ring and his watch. When noticed his staff said his ring was off for repairs. No reason was given for the missing watch. Was it just a coincidence Muslims are forbidden from wearing jewelry during the month of Ramadan? There is much more, but space does not allow for it. I believe we have forgotten this country was formed on Judeo-Christian principles. Our forefathers knew if a society were to survive it would need a solid base of values and principles. These values and principles could not be found in the heads of atheists, but in the minds and hearts of people who believed in a living and loving God. We have allowed these treasures to slip away. We have become consumed with a lifestyle that has been continually gnawing away at that base. We have succumbed to a loss of faith and due to complacency, allowed a man to gain the White House whose faith and motives we know little about. Those of us who believe in God should exercise his gift of prayer. Those who believe otherwise must work with us to remove this man from office in 2012. I firmly believe if this man is re-elected our republic which has survived for 250 years will receive its death blow. I think the last few words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address might be appropriate. "That we have a new birth of freedom and that government by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
LEON WHITE, Columbiana