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Small businesses saved from OEPA by legal technicality

June 2, 2012
Salem News

What ought to worry Ohioans most about a court ruling that prevented a financial catastrophe for tens of thousands of small businesses is that it did not involve the merits of the case but, instead, a technicality.

In 2010 a federal court ruled in favor of the Sierra Club in a lawsuit against the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The organization's contention was that the OEPA was wrong to exempt about 66,000 small businesses from air pollution limits under the federal Clean Air Act.

Had the ruling not been appealed, the OEPA would have been forced to require small businesses such as dry cleaners and auto body shops to install expensive pollution control equipment. No doubt that would have driven many out of business.

Last week the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the lower court. It ordered the Sierra Club's lawsuit be dismissed - but only because the type of suit filed is not permitted under federal law.

In other words, a technicality rescued many "mom 'n pop" businesses in the Buckeye State.

Rest assured the Sierra Club and/or organizations like it will try again. The only way to block them is for Congress to amend the Clean Air Act - an action that is needed for many reasons.

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State oversight of private charter schools in Ohio has increased during the past few years, but it is clear more needs to be done to prevent fraud.

Charter schools, though operated privately, are eligible to receive state and federal funding. Sometimes it does not go toward educating children, however.

The former treasurer for more than a dozen Ohio charter schools, including some in Youngstown, Dayton and Columbus, has been charged with embezzling more than $470,000 in federal funds. Carl W. Shye Jr. took the money between 2006 and last year, prosecutors allege.

State Auditor Dave Yost's office uncovered evidence of wrongdoing - but, if prosecutors are right, Shye got away with it for six years before anyone took a good look at the affected schools' books.

Charter schools provide an important alternative to the public education system, but for too long they were merely handed taxpayers' money and urged to spend it wisely. As Shye's case shows, more needs to be done to ensure public funds help children, not unscrupulous adults.

 
 

 

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