Council president addresses health care
To the editor: In this, the second letter to the editor, I would like to address Mr. Dave Johnson's comments regarding the health care package of the city's employees.
In Mr. Johnson's letter to the editor of September 11, 2011, he stated as Number 2: "a health care package to which employees contribute a mere 7 percent of premium with a zero percent deductible vs. the private sector's average 31 percent contribution and $2,000 deductible." My response and the present reality: With the completion of the current union negotiations, all unions have agreed to a premium pick up of 11 percent (up from 7 percent) the first year with negotiated contract re-openings during the second and third year to revisit and adjust this premium pick up.
This ability to re-open the contracts annually is very important for the city as an additional cost containment. Further, the deductible is now $200 for single coverage and $400 for family coverage.
A key point regarding the health plan: Per the auditor, Mrs. Brothers, the current plan is on track to SAVE the city an estimated $80,000 for calendar year 2011. And I emphasize the importance, again, of the agreed- upon wording in the newly-negotiated contracts to reopen these contracts and revisit the health care costs on an annual basis.
I will address what Mr. Johnson referred to in his third point of the September 11th letter as "extraordinarily generous "paid days off" in my next letter. Once again, the goal is to clarify some of these misconceptions for the benefit of the taxpayer and voter.
Mickey Cope Weaver, Salem
Support signs should have been removed
To the editor: As a resident and graduate of Southern Local, I am very pleased to see the outpouring of support for the football team. Friday, Oct. 7, was homecoming week. Signs of support were placed on numerous telephone poles on state Route 164 and state Route 39. I thought this was great and is something that should happen more often.
Today is Saturday, Oct. 15, over a week later and those signs are no longer on the poles. They are now laying on the ground as litter and/or garbage. I find it very sad that the individuals or organization that placed those signs cannot find the time to come along and take them down. They, one by one, fell to the ground. I know as a resident of this community someone in my household could stop and remove the signs. We have not taught our children that someone else will clean up their mess. I choose not to teach other people's children that someone will come along and clean up theirs.
It amazes me that the administrators, teachers, counselors, advisors, or students have done nothing.
That, to me, says a lot about the feeling toward the community. I question how hard it is to place a sign on Friday and remove it on Saturday. Maybe then, if not team specific, it could be reused. Now with the wind over the past days/nights, more than likely, they have blown into the weeds, woods, or others yards. Where I guess it will now be their responsibility to clean it up.
JENNIFER BRERETON, Salineville
Posing a question to the Wall Street protesters
To the editor: The demonstrations taking place on Wall Street and spreading to other cities are nothing new. This sort of thing has gone on since the formation of our country.
We have always had to deal with the unhappy, the grumblers and those who are seeking a cause to pursue. I wonder how many are thankful they live in a society where free speech and other forms of lawful expression are acceptable? As I viewed some of those demonstrators I saw signs that read, down with capitalism and others showing hate and disgust for their country.
I would like to pose a question to those who would abolish capitalism. What do they have in mind to replace it? Could they possibly believe the government could do a better job?
Look what a mess they've made trying to manage Social Security. How about the $15 trillion debt they have created and left for our grandchildren and their grandchildren? They've been unable to balance the budget. Those who yearn for social justice so they may share the wealth and are willing to accept socialism are ignoring history, because it has never worked. It was a failure in Germany, Russia and is failing miserably in Europe.
Man has never come up with a perfect form of government and never will. Lincoln said "You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich." He also said "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong."
I find somethings disturbing about these demonstrations. First they have the Democratic party and the president in their pocket, which should not surprise anyone.
I'm concerned the major labor unions including the teachers union are actively involved and the movement has monetary backing from a well known billionaire who's radical views are well known throughout the world.
Some are comparing these demonstrations with the Tea Party. There is no comparison. The Tea Party's platform is quite simple. Smaller government, reduce spending, and abide by the constitution. Compare these simple requirements with what we see on signs being carried around by this group.
At the Tea Party gatherings there were no confrontations with the police. No one was arrested and they left the grounds clean These people cluttering up our streets today are showing a complete lack of discipline They are urinating and defecating all over the grounds and the news people have reported drugs are easily acquired.
I don't wish to imply there are no well meaning people in the group. I'm sure there are and I think they should disengage themselves now. If these people are trying to send a message I don't get it.
LEON WHITE, Columbiana
Speaking on behalf of farmers, 'food choice'
To the editor: We in the agricultural community would like to remind you that every day is "food day" and celebrating should be done with each meal, whether the food comes from your garden, farmer's market, grocery store or the local food pantry. Ohio's farmers have demonstrated their commitment to provide a safe, nutritious, abundant and affordable food supply for consumers, while protecting the environment and caring for their animals.
In addition, we address hunger and food insecurity by generously donating food products to our local food pantries. Whether one chooses food that is organic or vegan, prepackaged or fresh, locally grown or conventionally raised, from the supermarket or the farmers market, we support the right of a consumer to choose food that fits their lifestyle and family budget.
Placing restrictions on the U.S. food system that limits the ability to produce the food we need will increase the cost of food and limit healthy, affordable food choices for everyone, no matter what the consumer income level is.
According to the USDA, if we relied on the food production systems of 1950, approximately 150 million people living in the U.S. today would be without food!
Supporting a diverse food supply that is raised in a variety of farming methods is vital to ensuring that we all have access to affordable food.
The farmers of Mahoning County are proud to be helping provide a bountiful supply of food and strongly believe in supporting "food choice."
PEARLE BURLINGAME, Organization director, Mahoning Farm Bureau
More opinion on the United Schools levy
To the editor: It is disheartening to find out just how far the ULSD administration, school board, and committee members are willing to go to try and get their levy passed. Obtain a wanta-be politician to write and speak for them, hire an expensive consultant to tell them how to do their job, and acquire a multimillionaire, from Salem, for his money and name.
Of the three, only the politician has a legitimate reason to get involved, he lives within the ULSD. Representatives of ULSD have acquired a large number of absentee ballot applications and are sending them home with students. Passing them out to neighbors and friends, only if they are voting for their levy! How low is that?
Mr. Logan's letter of Sept. 27, was chock-full of numbers and information, yet failed miserably to address the district's problems; jobs, foreclosures, unemployment, and financial instability of the area. Where do we find the money?
There was also an article on "property values declining." Shelly Wilson, executive administrator for the tax equalization at the Ohio Department of Taxation stated: "What has been going on for the past three to four years has been unprecedented. I have never seen anything like it." Property value is used to determine your taxes. School taxes make up a large bulk of the tax bill. If your property value would decline, school taxes can be increased to compensate for the decreased value: your school tax will go up! Drive around ULSD and you will see all of the foreclosures already in place and how these unkempt properties are affecting the value of the properties around them!
Oct.1, front page article: "ESC anticipates changes coming to education." Mr. Richard Stoudt; a former board member of ULSD and now president of ESC, states, "Obviously we're going to have to look outside the educational box to survive."
ESC superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn attended a state-wide educational conference where the keynote speaker stressed the importance for school districts to share services and resources if they plan to survive. Ohio is losing enrollment in its schools overall and tax dollars are declining.
In the near future schools will be ranked 1 to 609 not rated, as they are now.
Considered in the schools ranking is the district's economic efficiency; how much is actually being spent on classrooms instruction, teachers and technology instead of administration, transportation,etc.
KAREN GRIFFITH, Kensington
Republicans should share in the blame too
To the editor: Recently I received a flyer that read Let's Fix Salem Together and to vote for the team who will fix Salem mismanaged city government! It states Salem has lost its way with reckless spending; proposed tax increases and poor city services.
Now aren't there three Republicans holding seats right now plus the president of council and the mayor (whom is running as a independent this time )??So if this flyer is correct, which I believe isn't true facts on all what have they been doing?
What is the Republicans' strategy if they believe this on the flyer to be 100 percent accurate? I can't believe they have the nerve to say poor city services and do the mean the city of Salem street department; police and fire departments? I think the city workers are doing a great job for running at lower levels of manpower and the police and fire departments are doing a fantastic job at what they do!
So my question to all that appear on this flyer please explain what you see wrong and why and explain what you are going to do and I don't want to see answer from the head of the Republican party.
JIM MORRISON, Salem
Issue #2 aimed at destroying unions
To the editor: This coming November there is a voting issue on the ballot for all Ohio to decide if they are to pass and that is the resolution repealing Issue #2.
Let me say to the people of this county that no matter what you think of public employees, firemen/firewomen, police officers, or teachers this issue is not just about them. This issue goes deeper than them and it is an attack on the working class citizens of this state.
If this goes through the business people of this state will destroy the working class and every gain that our great-grandfathers, grandfathers, and fathers fought (and some have died) for will be in vain.
Unions in the past made our life better in many ways i.e.: wages, safety, housing, medical, etc. I do agree that unions have gotten out of control over the years in their demands, but if those such as our Governor John Kasich, and his business friends have it their way they would have the working class go back to the wages etc. of 40 years ago, but the prices would stay the same in 2011.
If the people of Ohio want to see what it was like before union, all they have to do is watch the movie "Hoffa."
Many people in this county are too young to remember what it was like to work for a person like Kasich. It is because of people like Mr. Kasich and the Koch Brothers, that unions were formed in the first place.
Look in the history books or better yet ask your families (great-grandfather, father, etc.) just what they had to go through to try and keep a job.
What kind of wages they made, what the working conditions were like etc. Have a discussion about this with your family members. Look on the internet and research the history of unions. If you don't believe me just ask around.
Unions have also made businesses stand up and pay a better minimum wage.
By the way ask yourself why is it that big business from the state of Wisconsin are bankrolling state reps, and their campaigns. If it smells like a rat, it must be a rat.
Listen to the TV ads or read what the governor says about unions. Read between the lines. If this issue is passed that will be the beginning of the end for middle class workers.
Over the years Republicans have wanted to have only two classes of people, the rich and the poor.
They are on that track and will stop at nothing until they accomplish that. They will tramp on anyone that gets in their way and they will lie right to your face. They proved how manipulative they are by trying to negotiate after the issue was passed in the Ohio House.
But, only when 1.5 million signatures were delivered to them in Columbus were they forced to place this issue on the ballot for Ohio citizens to vote on.
They had their chance to negotiate before all this happened, but their arrogance came out and they thought the people of Ohio were too dumb to go against them. Now facing defeat in November they tried to put the blame on the unions that help out the working class citizen.
I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I vote for the best person I feel will give Americans the best chance to have a job and make a decent living for the common person. The unions are not perfect, but I sure would hate to go back to the days before they were formed. Do we have bad teachers, fire men/women, police, and other public workers? Yes, but there are ways to fire people without destroying unions.
By the way, look at the number of politicians who have come under fire recently for being corrupt and accepting favors in the form of money, women, etc. Look at the businessmen, bankers, etc. that have destroyed this country and created this economic mess that we are in. Don't blame just the unions accept some responsibility yourself. Oh, I forgot the Republicans are not able to admit to failure.
The Republicans say Ohio must become a business-friendly state so jobs will come to Ohio. If the Republicans cut out the red tape and help businesses with low cost loans, or even tax abatements businesses will come to our great state.
They are the ones who punished the businesses in the first place. Which is better: to have 10 residents working and paying taxes and giving a business tax abatements, or those 10 residents out of work and not paying taxes plus having the business in another state where they will get the tax abatement? For every person that is employed and spending money there will be a spinoff job.
To end, you really need to think before you vote either way on Issue #2. Remember the day will come when you just might wish you had a union to help you with a boss that does not like the way you look when you come to work, or that boss has a friend that wants a job and you get fired and that friend takes your spot.
Also, if I remember right it is the Republican Party that refused to change the way schools in Ohio are funded. They also told the courts where to go by refusing to change the way schools are funded when they were ordered to.
If we (any citizen) refused to do what the courts said, we would be sent to jail. The courts should have sent every one of them to jail.
By the way, research how much our great politicians gave themselves in a raise.
They are trying to destroy the workers of this state, but at the same time raising their salaries. Ask yourself, are they really concerned about us the average and poor citizens of this state. You might just agree the answer is no.
Please do your research before you vote. Vote against a dictator and a party that will destroy our way of life and our ability to have fighting chance. Vote no on Issue #2.
CHUCK MEAD, Salem