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–Letters to the Editor Mount Vernon News and Knox News

March 25, 2022
Brian E Miller, Gambier

GOP Gerrymandering Costing Ohio Voters $20 Million
Some powerful Ohio lawmakers are willing to charge Ohio taxpayers $20 million in order to ensure that gerrymandered electoral maps become a reality.

They have resisted having an open, bipartisan process of drawing maps, relying instead on gerrymandered Congressional and Legislative maps that lean Republican. The Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected these maps. As a result, there is too little time for candidates, voters and boards of election to figure out the new districts before the May 3 primary date.

Some Legislative leaders are proposing holding two primaries, one for Congressional districts and a second, later election, for Legislative districts. This would be a costly and unwise decision. The cost of holding a special election is estimated at $20-$25 million.

The wisest option is to hold a single primary for both races, but delay it until such point as fair, non-partisan maps are delivered, allowing time for our electorate to adjust.

Should voters have to pay more for fair maps? I think not.

March 15, 2022
Mike Hebenthal, Superintendent of Centerburg Schools

Problem with School Vouchers
Currently the “Backpack Bill” is being debated in the Ohio House of Representatives.

This bill is more commonly known as the school voucher bill. This bill would give each child in Ohio a voucher worth a certain amount to pay for their education. These funds can be used at any charter or private educational institution.

On the surface, it may seem like a good idea

Creating a system of competition incentivizes innovation and usually helps produce better products at lower prices. Like all legislation, the devil is in the details.

For a competitive market to take place all things need to be equal. If one business is forced to operate in a way that costs more than its competitor then there is no competition and one ceases to exist. Unfortunately, the legislation, as written, funds all schools equally through vouchers but creates a terribly unequal system.

There are at least three issues that must be addressed for this legislation to be effective.

First is acceptance of all students. The way the legislation is now, a private school can refuse to accept a student for any reason they wish. If the student is disabled, a disciplinary problem or is suffering from mental health issues then the private schools can (and currently are) refusing enrollment. If after the student is enrolled and doesn’t meet the academic requirements, then they are “involuntarily disenrolled.’’

This happens now where private and charter schools “involuntarily disenrolls” a student due to problems. Centerburg spends about $9,200 per student. This is an average. We currently have some students that cost over $60,000 a year to educate due to unusual issues and other students that cost closer to $7,000 a year.

It wouldn’t take long for public schools, which are not legally allowed to deny enrollment and required to accept the voucher to buckle under high-cost students while the lower cost students attend private schools.

If you don’t think this would happen, I refer you to recent testimony by Rep. Marylin John and Rep. Riordan McClain, sponsors of the legislation.

They were asked by Rep. James Hoops what would happen to a student in a private or parochial school that was a constant disruption.

Rep. John said that “first the parents should be contacted.”

Rep. McClain stated, “that is why we have a system of common schools. The student should be returned to the public school.”

Second is private schools do not have to follow any state mandates. The amount of money that Centerburg Local spends on just meeting state mandates is very costly. I used to ask legislators to defend allowing charter schools to operate without the mandates while public schools must implement them.Their response was that we need a system that can operate outside the mandates so they can be creative and innovative.

My response was they were admitting the mandates are the problem and maybe they should just repeal them. Usually, the conversation ended quickly.

The third issue at first doesn’t sound like a problem but digging deeper creates some troubling issues. Private schools are permitted to choose whatever curriculum they like regardless of its content. Many private schools are religion-based where public schools are not permitted to include any religious curriculum in the school day.

Again, at first some approve of this or think “what’s the problem?”

What if a school wants to be a school whose religion states communism is God-ordained?

What if their religion believes that the Nazi’s were right in World War II and that Jews should be terminated?

If their religion believes in Sharia Law and so men are superior to women and women need to learn to be subservient?

Some believe that the Bible states one race is superior to another and that racism is God-created.

I think you get the point.

In America you are permitted to have these beliefs, but nowhere in the constitution does it say that tax dollars have to be used to perpetuate this type of thinking.

The Supreme Court has ruled many times that the state is not allowed to discriminate if it chooses to support faith-based ideals. So, if the state allows tax dollars to pay for religious teaching, then they must pay for all faith-based beliefs regardless if we find them repulsive.

Lebanon City Elementary School in Ohio had to allow an after-school Satan Club to meet in the school because they allow other organizations to also use the school.

Currently, the legislature is working on a bill that would forbid Critical Race Ttheory to be taught in public schools. This bill is in direct conflict with the voucher bill.

There are other issues that will be a problem but not a reason to forbid vouchers.

Many private schools don’t have athletics or other extracurricular activities and the students from private schools participate on public school teams. If the public schools have all the high-cost students, I doubt the school will have the funds to support extracurricular activities.

Public schools will be required to accept the base voucher amount and charge no more. There will be others that will have a higher tuition fee and the voucher will help, but the family will need to come up additional funds.

This will create a system where schools with high costs to offer absolute basics, other schools that have average offerings will require families to add a few thousand dollars to the voucher amount, and schools that have great opportunity but will need a large amount from families to supplement the voucher.

My guess is school funding will stagnate and the legislature will state if you want more for your child then you need to come up with the difference. Is that really the system we want?

If these things can be figured out, then by all means a competitive system is a good idea. But if these issues aren’t fixed now and the bill is enacted, I fear in a few years we’ll have a system that separates our society financially and philosophically.

Our society is more polarized now along political lines than I have ever seen. What will it be like when kids are taught using hateful curriculum? I suggest we be careful.

February 27, 2022
Pat Keane, Mount Vernon

Voting Access
A Democracy is strengthened every time citizens go to the ballot box, vote for their chosen representatives, and opt for or against ballot issues and levies.

There can be many barriers that make it difficult for some citizens to vote, such as living far from a polling place, or having a difficult work schedule, childcare issues, infirmities, or disabilities.

In the past, Ohio citizens recognized the value of making it easy for people to vote, and instituted several reforms, such as allowing early voting and absentee voting, and installing voting drop-boxes.

Some politicians want to spread division among the electorate, with false information about voter fraud in the recent 2020 election. Using that as a pretext, Republican politicians are trying to pass legislation to make it difficult to vote, especially for rural folks and minority groups.

In some states, the state legislatures, not the voters, would ultimately decide which set of electors would go to congress. Republican representatives, in many states, decreased the number of polling places, making it more difficult for many to get to the polls.

In Georgia, they even passed a law making it illegal to provide water or food to someone in a line at the polls. Imagine if you had to wait in line for five hours, but no one could give you water.

Even here in Ohio, there is a bill that has passed the Senate and is in the House which would restrict our voting – by eliminating voting on the Monday before the election, cutting off mail ballot requests at 10 days before the election, decreasing the number of days that are open for early voting, and limiting drop boxes to one per county.

We need to be alert to changes that erode our democracy. We need to keep voting secure and accessible so that every eligible citizen who wants to vote can do so, and all legitimate votes are counted. All voters, rural, urban, and suburban, need access to drop boxes near where they live.

Let us keep days for early voting open. Our democracy is enriched by having the full participation of all our eligible citizenry. Please let Representative Carfagna (614-466-1431) know that you oppose changes to our voting proposed by HB 294.

February 24, 2022
Jill Grubb, Gambier

Teaching History in our Schools
Everyone, whatever their age or background, can remember at least one wonderful teacher who made a difference for good in their lives. Teachers work hard to make children comfortable, challenged, and part of a community of learning. In these troubling times, schools have fed students, set up peanut-free tables for the allergic, introduced buddy benches for the shy, and tried to see the whole child. They have done double and triple duty to fill in for sick teachers and kept school going.

Some people mistakenly believe that factual history makes students feel bad about themselves. But children understand both justice and injustice; they happen in plain sight. An honest look at slavery engages children’s empathy. Whether you’re a troubled teenager, an old lady, a struggling single mom, a brilliant nerd, or anyone else, it’s reassuring to find someone like you in books. Children of color are discouraged when their history is ignored.  Let’s make sure that our children are taught our true history so that they grow to be devoted to justice and knowledge, not ignorance and untruth.

February 15, 2022
Janet Chandler, Mount Vernon

Protect the Rights of Voters
Unfortunately, Ohio Republicans in the statehouse and on the Rededistricting Commission are refusing to abide by the law and follow the Ohio Constitution.

They have twice proposed highly gerrymandered state and congressional maps that flout the Ohio Constitution and which, appropriately, have been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court.

This proposed partisan gerrymandering not only deprives Ohioans of fair representation, it also further divides us, leading to the most extreme candidates who often care more about stoking the culture wars than solving problems we face.

In the darkest period of our history, President Lincoln spoke words of hope and inspiration, saying, in the Gettysburg address, “… our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

We too can continue to defend our democracy just as President Lincoln did during the Civil War, calling on Americans to resolve that the nation “shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

November 3, 2021
Brian Miller, Gambier

Ohio Leaders Should Avoid Gerrymandering
We are at a crossroads for democracy in Ohio.

Voters in 2015 and 2018 overwhelmingly approved plans to ensure that new maps for Legislative and Congressional districts written to reflect the 2020 Census were fair and avoided partisan gerrymandering.

Our elected leaders have failed to follow that directive.

In September, The Ohio Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan body created by the 2015 plan, ignored this mandate from voters by approving gerrymandered Legislative maps. Now, the Legislature is nearing a decision on Congressional maps, with no sign yet that it will do any better than the ORC.

The make-up of Legislative and Congressional maps will determine whether communities of like interests are kept whole, whether there is vigorous debate on key issues, and whether the interests of voters, or partisan interests, are paramount.

Since early August, when the census data was released, our elected leaders have had ample lead time to develop proposed Legislative and Congressional maps and make them available for discussion prior to adoption, but they have failed to do so. The Republican-led Legislature and the ORC have repeatedly missed deadlines for producing 10-year maps, which need bipartisan support for approval.

As a result, the public has been deprived of the opportunity to assess whether the maps meet the criteria for fairness set in 2015 and 2018: That the districts be compact and avoid splitting counties and cities as much as possible; and that the number of Democratic- and Republican-leaning districts be roughly proportional to statewide elections. A number of organizations and private individuals have developed maps that meet these criteria. Several were made available to the ORC at an Oct. 28 hearing and more will be shared at House and Senate hearings this week.

The fate of the Congressional maps is now in the hands of the Ohio Legislature, which has until Nov. 30 to approve a 10-year map. It will take an expression of outrage from voters to push the Legislature in the right direction and approve fair Congressional maps. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio have led an organized and loud outcry for fair maps culminating in a rally at the statehouse Oct. 28. Please add your voice to this effort by contacting your legislators in the House and Senate, as well as the Governor, Secretary of State and Auditor of State.

October 22, 2021
Jill Grubb, Gambier

JD Vance and Cyber Disinformation
On Oct. 20, you published an article on J.D. Vance, senatorial candidate, in which he calls having police officers attend school board meetings a move to prosecute parents for speaking up.

Not true. Public servants have experienced more than rowdy protesters. The Michigan governor was threatened with death by armed protesters. Our national Capital was breached and over 100 policemen were attacked by protesters, some of them armed. The legislators were threatened when they were witnessing the certification of a fair election. Pence’s life was threatened and Pelosi’s office was ransacked. People were terrified and several were killed.

These protesters were fueled by the Big Lie that Trump had won. All boards of election nationwide had already certified the election as fair. Many courts, including the Supremes, found no legitimate basis for Trump’s protests and threw all his would-be suits out. Trump and the protesters wanted to bully Pence into refusing to certify the election, a act of subversion, an act of domestic terrorism, supported by assorted officials. People who stood up for the truth were villainized.

The federal government is there, not to silence protesters, but to protect people from violent people who endanger others, the opposite of Vance’s claim.

J.D. claims the top issue facing Ohio is immigration at the southern border. Again, he relies on false claims about gangs and drugs. Drugs come in through ports of entry: airports and docks, not on immigrants seeking asylum. One woman at a school board meeting complained immigrants were refusing to get shots and wear masks, thus threatening her. This same woman was protesting both masks and vaccinations, using arguments scraped off the walls at FOX and other right-wing sites.

This combination of lies and bullying threatens democracy. Echoing them might guarantee candidates without principles election in communities where facts are not valued. It does not strengthen what’s good about America. We all know that. Don’t rely on cyber disinformation for facts.

July 27, 2921
Janet Chandler, Mount Vernon

Applauding the Child Tax Credit
Starting the week of July 15, most parents in our country began receiving the monthly Child Tax Credit for each of their children. For the next year, families with children will be receiving up to $300 per month for each child.

I know from firsthand experience how important this Child Tax Credit is. Although my children are all grown, I have four grandchildren and I know how expensive it is to raise children these days. One of my grandchildren, who was born very prematurely over 10 years ago, has special needs.

She still needs ongoing multiple therapies. These are expensive and often not covered by health insurance. My other son and his wife both work full-time. Childcare costs, however, for their preschool-age children are comparable to the cost of college.

Mothers and fathers know best how to meet the needs of their children. The Child Tax Credit gives families meaningful financial support and the freedom to choose what is best for their children. Ohio Job and Family Services reports that in Knox County, half of our children (more than 6,500 children) are economically disadvantaged.

Twenty-five percent of our children (more than 3,000 children) live in poverty. For a great majority of these families, both parents are already working. The Child Tax Credit is an opportunity for these families to build a better life for themselves and their children.

The American Rescue Plan, which included the Child Tax Credit, passed with only Democratic support. None of the Republicans in the House or Senate voted in favor of this bill. Yet it is arguably the most pro-family legislation to come out of Congress in a generation.

July 15, 2021
Janet Smith, Gambier

American Rescue Plan
I was pleased to see the article in the Mount Vernon News July 10 edition about the city’s plans for handling the funding it will receive via the American Rescue Plan. The article describes the process that the city will follow to determine how best to use the estimated $1.7 million in federal funding it expects to receive. The funds will help the city with economic development, water and sewer utilities, transportation infrastructure, and communication infrastructure. This is expected to help the city recover from any negative economic impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and also to put the city in a better position in case of future crises. The money is indeed a blessing.

The American Rescue Plan is expected to provide $18.5 million across Knox County, Mount Vernon, and the county’s villages and townships.

As we all watch with gratitude as our region uses this money to implement much needed improvements, let’s please remember that these funds were proposed and approved by Democrats — in Congress and the Executive Branch. Not a single Republican voted in favor of these funds. Not even one.

June 14, 2021
Meg Galipault, Mount Vernon

Republican Supermajority must end in 2022 at Ohio Statehouse
The Ohio Senate, led by a Republican supermajority, passed draconian measures in the state budget bill last week. In addition to policies accompanying the budget—from limiting state oversight of nursing facilities to ending protections on childcare quality — Republicans axed support of broadband services to Ohio rural residents.

As originally proposed with $250 million by Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted, the broadband support would have finally addressed a common rural inequity that makes attracting employers and tax-paying homeowners difficult, let alone posing challenges for rural families: lack of access to high-speed internet. The Republican budget also makes it nearly impossible for Ohio to benefit from any federal funds for broadband.

Rural voters need to rethink who they are electing to statewide office. These Republican senators have yet to offer an explanation that demonstrates they have citizens and not super-sized cable companies in mind with this move. Without incentive to invest in broadband infrastructure, rural communities will continue to decline, unable to compete with suburban and urban areas for manufacturing and small businesses.

If Spectrum wanted to expand services into these areas, they would have done it years ago. They won’t because it isn’t profitable, which means the public sector needs to step in to get the ball rolling. Senate Republicans, however, won’t let rural towns and villages receive any funds to support this infrastructure.

You have to wonder if our senator, Andrew Brenner, really cares at all about those of us in Knox County. You might recall he became the laughingstock of Twitter and national news when he was caught wearing a seatbelt (because he was DRIVING) with a Zoom background of his office during a legislative meeting.

Brenner isn’t worried about broadband. He flaunts his access while one out of five Knox County taxpayers have nothing.

The recent budget passed by Brenner and his cronies is an affront to all Ohioans. We have two solutions in front of us now: first, end gerrymandering so that voters actually have a say in their representatives and, second, end the Republican supermajority in 2022.

May 16, 2021
Jill Grubb, College Township

Critique of MVN article “Your Ohio Energy”
Recently you have run at least four pieces, posing as news, by the Empowerment Alliance, a right-wing group backed by fossil fuel companies offering propaganda full of misleading statements on climate and energy.

Titled “Your Ohio Energy,” these tomes rely on ignorance. They reject a need to lower CO2 production, claiming CO2 is necessary to life. Well, yes, but not in deadly amounts.

Next, they claim people have said the world will end in x years, but it hasn’t. NO. Scientists have predicted major changes, many of which have happened already. Desertification has increased from California to an expanding part of Africa. Horrific fires have devastated part of our country and elsewhere with increasing frequency.

The same rising temperatures that exacerbated forest fires have melted glaciers and raised sea levels. Island nations are going under NOW. The Navy has had to adjust to changing currents affecting naval operations. Florida and other Gulf states are dealing with higher tides and deterioration of marshlands that would protect land.

Evaporation loading up clouds has led to huge rain dumps creating flooding in Texas and elsewhere. Severe tornadoes and hurricanes have taken larger tolls across the South. Changing air currents have affected air traffic.

CO2 is not the only pollutant. Methane leaks related to fracking and waste chemicals dumped near factories, large farms, and power plants have had particularly bad effects on minority populations living near them.

The authors charge the elite, whoever they are, with serving only themselves instead of making smart choices to help progress.  And yet Republicans and the oil companies, knowing full well the damaging impact of fossil fuels, have refused to address their impact on our earth, continuing to put profits ahead of the world we leave to our children.

Meanwhile, President Biden is trying to introduce cleaner sources of energy, providing many jobs and cleaner air. Of course, we’ll still need other fuels, but not exclusively and not at such a cost to Earth.

Our elected president has brought back regulations that protect workers and the environment and encourage less profligate use of fossil fuels. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to the extremely wealthy, he is aiding American families by addressing infrastructure needs, providing more jobs and serving communities that have been neglected while money is sucked up by the wealthy corporations who use profits to buy more shares, driving up prices, and not sharing much with their workers. He makes clear that affordable, safe daycare is essential for women to go back to work.

Read widely, be skeptical, and remember what HB6 was doing to us: Raising costs while enriching corrupt politicians.

March 22, 2021
Kathryn Edwards, Morris B Township

Vaccination: Call it the Trump Shot

I got my “Trump Shot” at Knox Community Hospital this week. It was my second one and I was thrilled to finally know I have some protection from dying of COVID-19 should I pick the virus up in my travels around town.

I call it the Trump Shot because Trump fostered its development here in the USA and 3 of our corporations produced a version. I was given the Moderna and had no reaction to either shot.

I am proud to carry my laminated card that says I have been vaccinated. Now I can begin to gather with other friends and neighbors who have gotten their Trump shot, and I hope it will be easier for me to attend events in the future, like our town softball games, the county fair, and even go to a movie or a play.

Go get your Trump Shot today. Walk in clinic is held every Wednesday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the high school field house. Your Trump Shot, your badge of honor to the community.

March 6, 2021
Jill Grubb, College Township

Citizen’s Right to Vote
LaRose claims that HR1 will create a major upheaval in voting practices. Not true, unless you’re happy with fraudulent attempts to prevent registered voters from voting. This proposal came in response to the state legislatures all over the country trying to keep people from voting. One of the legislators even said it was to keep Democrats from voting. Precisely. They, the Republicans, do not want a repeat of 2020, where the Democratic candidate clearly won.

Every time voting rights are expanded, Republicans have found ways, not noble ones, to curtail those rights: Poll taxes, lynching, in early days the beating and threatening of minorities, Jim Crow laws, the jailing of African Americans for minor infringements so they’ll lose their voting rights, the moving of dates and polling places, purging, and the spreading of misinformation about the safety of voting by mail.

Nazis studied and followed some of our tactics for reducing citizens’ access to polls and ways we dehumanized people. These they used to threaten, dehumanize, and kill Jews. Do we want to be role models for democracies or for autocrats without souls?

In 2020 we had the fairest elections in history. Do we really want to roll back to the dark ages?

February 9, 2021
Linda Michaels, College Township

Election Fraud
I have been a poll worker since 2006. I am very sick of hearing uninformed people go on and on about supposed election fraud. Massive election fraud is a lie. I suggest that anyone who doubts the integrity of our elections sign up to be a poll worker, undergo the training, and spend a 15+ hour day doing their civic duty by working the polls. Maybe then, instead of disparaging those of us who selflessly give of our time and energy, you might have some respect for the process and for what makes America a functioning democracy.
Since the day Donald Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, he has been whining about election fraud. For months leading up to the 2020 election, he claimed that the only way he could lose was if there was massive fraud. It has all been a massive duping of the American public. There was no measurable fraud in either 2016 or 2020. Joseph Biden is our legitimately elected president so please, just accept that and move on.

Jan 14, 2021
Jill Grubb, College Township

Calling on the Committee on Ethics and our representatives:
 I watched Wednesday’s domestic terror attack on Washington DC with outrage, horror, and a resolve that this shall not stand. I am calling on you to put an end to the seditious acts, misinformation, and outright lies that have stoked division in our country to the point that a mob attacks our legislators. I watched members of Congress and the Senate, our Rep. Bob Gibbs among them, object to certification, despite these objections having been soundly dismissed in every court of law, including the Supreme Court. This is nothing short of sedition. This must stop, and it must stop now.

I urge you to immediately petition for the impeachment and removal of Donald J. Trump TODAY. He has stoked this mob; worse yet, as you and your peer legislators and dedicated staff were rushed to safety, the president went on television to express his love for these traitors, to repeat lies about the election, and to encourage them to continue to attack our nation’s capital and the many people who labor in it: congress, staffers, administrators, custodial and maintenance crew were all put in danger today for the sake of a president who has no respect for the people, the rule of law, truth, or our democracy,

Jan 12, 2021
David McCoy, Massillon, OH

At the start of each new Congress, members take an oath of office sworn to God. But in light of this, Congressman Bob Gibbs’ behavior concerning the 2020 election raises serious questions.

In public, press releases, and letters to constituents, he maintained “fraudulent actions and illegal voting” took place. Next, he joined an Amicus Brief supporting the lawsuit filed by the State of Texas. Then, he objected to the certification of the Electoral College for certain states on the sixth of January.

From the day after the election, Mr. Gibbs began peddling his fraudulent election claims. But then, on November 12, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council said, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Then Mr. Gibbs asked Bill Barr to investigate alleged “irregularities.” Well, Mr. Barr did and here is what he found: “To date (Dec. 1, 2020), we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Yet, despite these two governmental reports, and the loss of nearly 50 lawsuits, he still voted against the certification of the Electoral College votes.

This, then, raises two questions. First, despite evidence against it, does he truly believe “fraudulent actions and illegal voting” did occur? Second, does he in fact know there were no irregularities but just played along. If number one, he is so delusional there is no way he can objectively evaluate information for proposed bills. If number two, he has broken his oath to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office,” i.e., he lied.

It matters little which conclusion is true. Mr. Gibbs must resign from the House of Representatives.

Jan 11, 2021
Meg Galipault, Chair of KCDP

“An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow.” These words by
Timothy Snyder in the New York Times have stuck with me for several days. They speak to truth
and consequences. The fatal lie told by political leaders and believed by millions—that our
election was “rigged” and that Donald Trump is the true winner—will have devastating
consequences for us all: the loss of democracy. This lie fed the discontent that led to last week’s
deadly insurrection.
The country indulged Trump’s lie for two months. He took it upon himself to challenge the votes
only in those swing states he lost, spending much of November and December engaged in more
than 60 lawsuits contesting the results. He lost every single suit. Not a single piece of evidence
convinced any judge, including judges appointed by Trump, to overturn the results. All the
while, Trump heralded the lie that he won the election in a “landslide.” He fed Americans with
provably false information about fraud.
Had our Republican leaders done what legislators have done in elections past for centuries—
accept and acknowledge the winner—perhaps no storm would have descended on the Capitol to
disrupt the Congressional certification of the election last Wednesday. Instead, legislators, like
our own Representative Bob Gibbs (OH-07), perpetuated the lie, riled up their base of QAnon
and radical far right groups, and encouraged them to “Stop the Steal.”
As of this morning (Jan. 11), Rep. Gibbs still has not issued a public statement denouncing the
violence. But I’m not surprised. Gibbs was, after all, one of the 100+ U.S. Representatives who
voted on January 6, AFTER the insurrection, to oppose certification of the Electoral College for
“certain states.”
In voting to reject the certification, Bob Gibbs willfully lied to his constituents. He knows how
elections work; he’s been running for various offices for two decades. He knows how votes are
counted and by whom and how rare it is to find fraud. He knows how vote totals are released
throughout the night and sometimes into the days following an election. He knows our system
allows for ballots from overseas U.S. service people. He knows what provisional ballots are. He
knows the role of the Secretary of State in certifying elections. He is not some rube.
Hence, he lied last week. He continues to lie by not acknowledging Joe Biden as president-elect.
And in letting this lie stand and fester, he is every bit as culpable for the Capitol insurrection as
Donald Trump. If he had half a conscience, if he mourned those five deaths, he would resign.
We, the voters of the 7th U.S. Congressional District, deserve better.

Nov 2, 2020
Erin Salva, Wayne Township

Why would I write about golf and the Trump presidency at this moment in time? During the past four years this president golfed 276 times.   He claims he works so hard that he needs to golf to relieve tension. This amounts to spending more than one in five of his days in the White House blowing off steam. This is just some of time he’s spent actively blowing off the American people who are suffering from this pandemic. 

When criticized for the amount of time he spent golfing during a pandemic this master of fake news and blame pointed out that “President Obama golfed far more and far longer – no problem”.  No problem, perhaps, and certainly no pandemic. 
In fact, if facts matter, President Obama golfed 113 times during his first term in office. 

The American people will be much better off once former President Trump can golf as much as he wants.  I’m sure he will need to blow off plenty of steam after this election.  I wonder if he’ll count all of his strokes or try to suppress a full count ?

Oct 27. 2020
Ed Schortman, Gambier, OH

–VOTE: why the common good is clear choice
Our votes make statements about the common good. Who do we treat as fully American and what do we owe each other?

Answers to those questions provided by the candidates are clear. One side argues that favoring corporate profits benefits all and we can be denied health care because we cannot afford it or have pre-existing conditions. Over 137 million Americans lost their retirement savings in 2019 as they drowned in medical debts.

Others argue for a fair deal in which business successes should not come at the expense of their workers and no family should be one medical bill away from financial disaster.

Are we a nation that leaves the majority to struggle on their own or do we act together through government to help our fellow Americans? That is our choice on Nov. 3.

Does that characterization seem unfair? Consider three initiatives by the current administration. They are trying to deny 23 million Americans health insurance and allow insurers to deny coverage to 129 million seniors for pre-existing conditions by continuing efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

They are also attempting to reduce by one-third the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that is a vital supplier of food to families in need, many of whom work low wage jobs.

There are also moves to cut half a trillion dollars from Medicare, on which many seniors depend for health insurance, and gut Social Security by eliminating the payroll tax on which it is based. Attacks on clean water and workers’ overtime wages and tips are also parts of their program. Clearly the corporations who benefitted from massive tax cuts in 2017 are this administration’s true constituents.

Some tell me that cuts to basic services and protections are needed because of loafers who unfairly take advantage of responsible tax payers. They are right and I can name a few of those free-riders. One is a multi-millionaire and prominent politician who paid less in taxes ($750) in 2016 and 2017 than just about any working American. He is not alone.

The John Deere Corporation paid no taxes in 2018 when its reported global profits were 2.37 billion dollars. Sixty U.S. corporations that year used loopholes to avoid paying a total of 16 billion dollars in taxes, getting instead a combined refund of $4 billion.

The 2017 tax cuts were a windfall for them, leaving the rest of us to cover the 50% increase in the national debt caused by those cuts. Welfare cheats must be punished. Corporate freeloaders are a bigger danger to our economy and material wellbeing.

Please, when you vote, vote for all of us and not for the very privileged 1%. And after the election, regardless the outcome, let’s join together and track what our public servants are doing to promote the common good at the national ( and state levels ( The fight for a fair deal for all does not end with an election.

Oct 27, 2020
Meg Galipault, Mount Vernon, OH

–Vote for Biden
With election season in full swing and Election Day less than one week away, I write to urge voters in Knox County to vote for change, to vote for real leadership, and to vote for a candidate who will bring the people of this country back together.

That candidate is Joe Biden.

Put aside the plans he has laid out to crush the coronavirus and get our economy going again with an infrastructure plan and good paying union jobs. Joe Biden will end the chaos – and the exhaustion many of us have experienced over the last four years.

He will bring integrity, honor, and a proven work ethic to the office of the presidency. He will surround himself with people who have experience and expertise, and he will get things done.

Joe Biden will be a president for all Americans, not just those who earned his vote. He will provide the steady, competent and thoughtful leadership that has been missing in our government for the last four years.

If we are to survive as a democracy, we must elect Joe.

Oct 24, 2020
Erin Salva, Wayne Township

—Corporations. Ohio businesses, and everyday citizens
Trump has touted his “great economy” but who has benefitted?  President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Job Acts (TCJA) on Dec 22, 2017 making it one of only two legislative acts that his administration accomplished during the two years that Republicans held both a House and a Senate majority. Why don’t he and his Republican allies talk about it as a major accomplishment? 

Could it be that the 2017 Tax Bill included a massive corporate tax cut for U.S. based multinationals that manufacture overseas?

Could it be that the Tax Cut and Jobs Acts (TCJA) has encouraged offshoring of both paper profits and real production of U.S. multinational companies, including AT&T, Siemens and Nabisco?

Could it be that the TCJA also accelerated profit-shifting to off-shore tax havens, which now deprive the United States of roughly $100 billion in revenue each year?

Neither the American economy nor American workers benefit from the use of international tax havens to shield corporate income. Trump and his corporate special interest groups do.

Even before COVID-19 collapsed large segments of the economy, the manufacturing sector had entered a recession that the Trump administration trade wars with China escalated.  The Trump administration’s failed tax policies have resulted in continued offshoring, including the net loss of nearly 1,800 factories and thousands of jobs between 2016 and 2018.

While Trump has been blowing off his own tax obligations Midwest workers have been losing good paying manufacturing jobs. We cannot tolerate another four years of the failed economic policies of this president.

President of the UEI-Communication Workers of America’s Industrial Division said recently, “President Trump talks the talk, but does not walk the walk on keeping jobs in America. The sad truth is that Trump has helped companies move jobs out of the United States. His tax bill gave companies a 50% off coupon for moving their money and jobs overseas.”

It’s time for a change. Vote now for Vice President Biden who is serious about reinvigorating American manufacturing and has a strong plan to create millions of new jobs to rebuild our economy (

Oct 23, 2020
Joyce Skocic, Knox County

—Why put barriers up for voting?
why are Republicans trying to suppress the vote?? Sabotaging the postal service BY DESTROYING SORTING MACHINES, cutting overtime hours , removing postal boxes on streets, discontinuing police security service to postal routes , limiting one drop box for even heavily populated counties in Ohio, sending unofficial armed groups to intimidate voters at the polls, making intimidating phone calls to voters in MI, WI,PA, OH(facts proven by indictments of 2 operatives in MI) fake drop boxes in CA, trying to limit PA law to extend mail in vote counts for 3 days ( rejected by the Supreme Court) BUT REALLY? What are they worried about?  A fair and open election? There is little evidence of voter fraud, even after the trump commission was investigating and then dissolved. The only real attempt at voter fraud was trump encouraging North Carolina to try to vote twice.  Oh sure, he was kidding. But sounds like a dog whistle to me. 

Oct 22, 2020
Peggy Dunn, Mount Vernon

–Deeply and profoundly pro-life and voting democratic
I am deeply and profoundly pro-life.  This has an expansive meaning for me and many of my neighbors.  

It means placing a high value on the worth and dignity of each human being and valuing each human life.  It means placing a high value on the quality of each of our lives within our families, within our communities, and within our larger society over each person’s lifespan.  Being pro-life means valuing our interdependence with the rest of the living creatures in our environment.  We are utterly dependent on healthy soil to feed us and high-quality air and water for our wellbeing.  

As the election approaches, we have the duty to measure our values against the policies proposed by candidates.  So, what does being pro-life look like at the policy level?  Pro-life policies support every citizen’s ability to meet basic needs and live with a basic sense of security, both in normal times and during a pandemic.  These policies include quality healthcare, family leave, and a living wage. Pro-life policies also support our environment.  They would address the climate crisis which is resulting in frequent and devastating weather events. Pro-life environmental policies would prepare for future pandemics which, according to many scientists, are likely if we fail to learn to live with an understanding that human, animal and environmental health is interconnected.

I know I share deep dismay with many others that pro-life has come to only mean one is opposed to abortion and there are differences between Republicans and Democrats on this issue.  In general, Republicans want to reduce abortions through laws designed to limit women’s choices while Democrats want to reduce abortions by expanding women’s access to healthcare.  Unfortunately, we lack data to definitively say that one approach works better.  However, Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation provides some guidance, “If your priority is to reduce abortions, one of the best things you can do is make sure that women have access to high-quality, affordable and effective methods of birth control.” 

I encourage you to vote for Democratic candidates who are committed to policies that value life across the age span.

Oct 21, 2020
Tony Peugh, Knox County

–What American Workers are getting from President Trump’s decisions
Tired of a president and Senate who put workers last? Vote for Democrats  who will put the needs of you and your children first.

President Trump has said he will no longer negotiate for a second coronavirus relief package. Instead he ordered Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “focus full time” on confirming his Supreme Court nominee. I think everyone can agree that people’s needs should come before confirmation of judges.

Trump’s decision shows that he turned his back on the small businesses struggling to keep their doors open and on the firefighters and police officers and other first responders who depend on state and local government budgets now strained to the breaking point. He also turned his back on teachers and school children—standing in the way of support to get the PPE and cleaning supplies and ventilation needed to safely reopen schools and keep them open. He turned his back on families struggling to pay rent, put food on their table, and take care of their kids.

Worse yet, he never even really tried to get a deal for these Americans. Not once in the months since the House passed a relief package in May has Trump stepped up to lead. Yet that is the job: To deliver for the people of this country. It’s what Republicans have shown again and again they have no plans to do, ever.

I want to be very clear about what Trump’s reckless decisions means for American workers:

—no more stimulus checks for working families

—no more assistance to pay rent, mortgages, and bills

—no more support for our schools as they juggle remote learning and reopening

—no more $600 unemployment insurance benefits for workers who lost their jobs

Republicans are ignoring the vital needs of working families—all so he can rush another corporate judge onto the Supreme Court, with less than a month left until Election Day, after more than nine million voters in ⅔ of the states have already voted.

Please do all that you can during these last days before Election Day to elect those Democrats who will put the needs of working families first this election, including Joe Biden.

Oct 12, 2020
Linda Michaels, Gambier
Treasurer KCDP

—-Law and Order in Knox County
President Donald Trump has styled himself as the “law and order” president. Sadly, his followers in Knox County and elsewhere, have decided that he advocates for neither law nor order. Trump supporters continue to trespass on people’s property and destroy signs and flags supporting Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden. They harass and intimidate, in some instances being verbally abusive. Here in Knox County, this has had one benefit I’m sure was not intended. The Knox County Democratic Party has received an outpouring of donations and visits to our office by disgruntled Republicans wanting to support our candidates. We are grateful and we continue to offer replacement signs for those stolen or damaged. We are three weeks out and people are voting. Stealing or defacing Biden signs will only harden the resolve of his supporters and perhaps encourage the registered Independents to vote Democratic this time. After all, it is the Democrats who are actually the party of law and order.

Oct 12, 2020
Miriam Dean-Otting, Gambier

Wellbeing of Americans, local weather patterns, and America’s health
We are in the midst of a health crisis of immense proportions. Over 200,000 Americans have died as a result of Covid-19 and over a million people worldwide. Whether we have lost someone close to us or not, we are all participating in a national grief that casts a long shadow with no end in sight. In spite of our death toll, the highest in the world, there is still no national commitment to public health recommendations for safeguarding our health. Disdain for science is the reason for President Trump’s failure to take these procedures seriously.

There is a crucial parallel between the president’s imprudent response to Covid-19 and his repeated insistence that there is no scientific evidence for climate change. The proof of the impact of increased temperatures should be very clear to anyone: destructive wild fires and extreme storms are the new norm. In Central Ohio we also have threatening weather patterns. Severe flooding in March caused road closures and delayed planting for farmers. A local farmer recently lamented loss of topsoil in Knox County over the last several years due to heavy rains that caused runoff and lengthy droughts that turn the topsoil to dust carried away by the wind.

It is already too late to stop glacial melt that has raised the ocean’s levels and contributes to the erosion of our coastlines and the shores of the Great Lakes. One million plant and animal species are on the cusp of extinction. Despite our country being responsible for 13% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, President Trump has gutted the Environmental Protection Agency and broken with world leaders. In 2015 the United Nations obtained international collaboration in the Paris Agreement, a proposal to curb greenhouse gasses. When President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Agreement, major corporations signed a letter calling for reconsideration, pointing out that developing green technologies would keep American companies in step with the rest of the world. He dismissed their economic arguments. Our exit from the Paris Agreement will happen November 4th if he is reelected.

Ignoring science will continue to have dire consequences for all of us should the current president hold office for another four years. When you cast your vote, please cast it for the lives of your loved ones and yourself, for our country’s health and the health of our planet.

Oct 1, 2020
Jo Shrimplin, Jefferson Township

–Best to Vote In Person; BOE has extensive COVID precautions
Democrats, if an absentee ballot has not been requested, I suggest voting at the polls. Our current president is discrediting mail-in ballots. He stated that mail-in ballots are fraudulent and that we should “get rid of the ballots” so he will not need to transfer power.

His ability to win rides on large numbers of absentee ballots being rejected. His autocratic intentions have led him to pressure states to limit and remove drop boxes to make it more difficult for voters to safely deliver their ballots. If he leads on election night, he will continue to seed chaos as the absentee ballots are counted.

If you have already requested a mail-in ballot, make sure it is counted. Before putting your ballot in the mail or delivering it to the Board of Elections drop box, be sure the information on the ballot envelope is complete and accurate and that it is signed as you are registered.

Check that you have not marked more choices than allowed on your ballot and that the circles are filled in, no check marks. Make certain the mailing envelope has adequate postage and is mailed at least 10 days before the election, November 3, 2020.

The only reason the current resident of the White House attempts to deny the efficacy of mail-ins is because Democrats have urged voters to vote safely at home. However, the Knox County Board of Elections has released an entire booklet of Covid safety guidelines. If you can vote at your polling place on election day, do so. Let’s send a clear message on election night that democracy will not be deterred.

Oct 1, 2020
Linda Michaels, Gambier, OH

I wish our mayor would speak out.
We’ve had people here on the Mount Vernon Square with guns. I was a bank teller in a former life and was held up at gun point. It is a terrifying experience and I suffered from ptsd for some time afterward. I expect that around here it is mostly bravado but it doesn’t take much for things to go terribly wrong.
Oct 1, 2020
Jill Grubb, Gambier, OH

Dear Senator Portman:

Please stand up. Speak out. This abominable egomaniacal bully must be told, “No!” You are your colleagues must stop cowering and caving in.

Trump is running roughshod over democracy, not following the Constitution, enriching himself, firing people with the courage to tell the truth, replacing knowledgeable civil servants with donors and financial predators. Our environmental protections are stripped. Our parks are plundered. Our Justice Department is headed by a man without principles. Our public schools are underfunded while DeVos transfers money to private schools. We are rudderless. You go along.

A president who favors autocrats and unethical corporations over his people is not worth spit. His appalling behavior has lost America’s standing in the world and our own eyes. His jealousy of Obama motivates him to destroy protections his predecessor provided through the ACA and regulations to limit pollution and harm to workers. He has sided with white supremacists, using them to threaten voting. At the border, he has ripped families apart and relegated children to cages. Slave owners did the same, selling fathers down the river, raping mothers, orphaning and selling off children. Is he pretending these people don’t matter? He has no humanity. And you stand by.

Then there’s the Court. By pretending he cares, Trump pretends saving embryos and controlling women is the most important thing, not because he believes that but because it’s his way to enlist the religious right so he can do whatever else he wants. You stand by.

When do you ever consider what women are agonizing over? Some are being forced to carry fetuses with major birth defects that will make their short lives miserable. My grandmother, other of seven, tried to burn out her uterus with lye to prevent any more. Her body had been wrecked and they, a minister’s family, were desperately poor. The girl in the room next to me in college lay down on the train tracks when she, 17, found herself pregnant, victim of a senior and ignorance or innocence. Of course she was killed. No options then.

Nobody wants abortion, but in a country where women are refused birth control (Hobby Lobby, etc.) and clinics for poor women are closed, how dare mostly men tall women what to do. Worse, if it’s for political gain.

As for the Court, the move to cram one more conservative who will rule in favor of whatever election stunt our corrupt president plays; to rip health care away from millions during a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting people of color, the old, and the poor; and to take away the measured guidelines of Roe v Wade to bring down women are obscenities. The timing stinks of hypocrisy after not even giving Merrick Garland a hearing for ten months. Barrett might be brilliant, but Trump is rushing to save himself. That’s not good for the country.

We’re being bludgeoned. Please don’t stand by. Step up and say, “No.” It’s not the time for one more bullying move from the President and Senate.

Dedicate yourself to something greater than you: The United States of America.
Sept 30, 2020
Brian Miller, Gambier, OH

–Make your judicial vote count
On election day, most of us will breeze through the ballot until we come to the part on judges. Lacking enough information to make an informed vote, we will make our choices randomly or bypass that part. Thankfully, there is a source of information about judicial candidates in Ohio that can help us.

It’s a website called

The website includes a county-by-county guide on the judicial seats on the ballot and the candidates running for them; short videos describing the duties of each judicial body; and a chart on the structure of the judicial system.

Knox County voters will be deciding two contested Ohio Supreme Court seats; one contested seat on the Fifth District Court of Appeals; and the Knox County Probate/Juvenile Court judgeship, which is uncontested.

Under the “Know Your Candidates” section for Knox County, there are biographies and statements provided by the candidates telling why they are running and describing the judicial and other legal experience they have had, the kinds and importance of cases they have heard, and their community involvement. While judges cannot take stands on issues likely to come before the court, we can still learn a good deal about their qualifications and experience.

Judges makes decisions that affect our lives and our communities. The courts are our backstop for protecting our freedoms and preserving our ideals for society. Make your judicial vote count on Nov. 3.

Sept 27, 2020
Ed Schortman, Gambier, OH

–Fear should not guide your vote

Fear dominates this election cycle. Some will say that both sides are to blame. They are not wrong but most of the political terrorism is coming from our president and his enablers. I specify the president because, having grown up a Republican and knowing a great many Republicans, I do not believe that members of that party are prone to hating their fellow citizens. That is what they and the rest of us are being encouraged to do by those we elected to lead, not divide, us.

Fear is an effective political tool. It distracts from real problems by pitting us against each other. There are real reasons to be afraid, they just do not happen to be the reasons that the president is harping on. In trying to get past the barrage of hateful rhetoric I have found it useful to ask myself two questions.

What is more dangerous, a gang of people intent on robbing you or a room full of insurance executives deciding on whether your pre-existing condition is sufficient to deny you access to health insurance? That gang is definitely dangerous but the misery and pain they can cause is nothing compared to what those executives will visit on thousands of people. You can escape the gang, not the insurance executives. We need systematic health reform, not efforts to kick people off their insurance and, yes, enable insurance companies to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions

The president signed an executive order that supposedly protects those with pre-existing conditions but it has no legal force. What does have legal force is his case before the Supreme Court due to be heard in November that would do what he failed to do in 2017, kill the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) and with it protections for those with pre-existing conditions. That gang cannot deny you insurance; the president will.

Who is more damaging to the economy, rioters or private equity firms who buy companies, strip them of their assets, leaving behind bankruptcies and unemployed workers? Not all private equity firms are corporate looters but many are and they are largely unregulated.

That 20% of companies acquired by private equity firms go bankrupt, as opposed to 2% of businesses not owned by these firms that close, suggests that there is a problem ( Yet our president happily points at looters as the threat and not to those firms who, driven by greed, pillage for profit. Protecting workers and their employers would do more good than ginning up fear about rioters.

Gangs and looters are criminals and must be brought to justice. Casting them as the essential threat to our safety only hides the real culprits whose actions damage far more lives than do those of a few crooks.

When voting this November please consider where the real dangers to our lives and democracy lie, who is aiding and abetting those threats, and then choose accordingly.

Sept 26, 2020
Rob Fetters, Mount Vernon, OH

–On stealing of yard signs and flags
When students are in high school government classes, they learn about basic values shared by Americans that are a part of what makes America great.  We as a people believe in liberty, including that people should be able to express their views openly as a part of their 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition and religion.  We as a people believe in equality, that everyone has these rights.  We believe in justice and the rule of law, in voting and democracy, in individualism and property ownership, and in patriotism.  We may interpret these beliefs somewhat differently, but fundamentally these are our shared values as a people.  Our neighbors have these rights as well as we do.  Yet Trump and Biden signs and flags are being stolen and vandalized frequently.  When someone chooses to do this, they are not only breaking the law, they are violating the rights of the property owner and doing an enormous and deeper harm to our shared values as Americans.  And they risk getting hurt themselves.
Sept 25, 2020
Mackie Avis, Mount Vernon, OH

–Trump thinks your vote is important, and he would prefer to negate it.
Trump is lying (surprise) when he says the voting is rigged. He’s trying to brainwash us so he can cry, “Foul!” when he loses.

Both Trump and the Republicans are doing what they can to sabotage voting. First, they have surged the purges, stripping down the voter lists by more than removing the deceased. If you leave out a comma, middle initial, or hyphen from your name, you don’t match your voter registration and are removed.

Another tactic is suing, knowing most voters can’t afford a court battle. They want out-of-county poll workers to challenge more voters and don’t want states mailing ballots to all eligible voters.

Partisan muscle is used to intimidate and pull people out of line in non-white, immigrant, and other Dem-leaning neighborhood polling places, falsely accusing them of being “suspicious.” More and more armed thugs are set to surround polling sites to intimidate this fall.

To keep voters out, they move polling places, limit number of machines, and institute imaginary machine malfunctions to delay voting for working people who can’t stand in line all day.

Then there are the attempts to wreck the post office. Our great USPS could handle increased voting by mail due to the virus, but Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General, a $2 million plus donor, has slowed down processing, cut hours, removed machines, and taken out drop boxes.

Finally, when Justice Roberts said they didn’t need to renew the Voting Rights Act because guilty Southern states had straightened up, those states immediately instituted new voter suppression laws. Sad when we can’t trust the Supreme Court.

Vote early in person at the Board of Elections or drop you mail-in ballot in the drop box outside the Board of Elections at 104 E. Sugar Street.

Your vote is pretty important or they wouldn’t be trying to prevent you from voting. Don’t let them. Support democracy.

Sept 24, 2020
Roberta Sorensen, Howard, OH

–We are not the America I once knew
In response to the people who are concerned about the direction this country has been going, I say yes, this country is in trouble, big trouble.

We are told that “alternative realities” actually do exist, dishonesty is explainable, the truth is expendable and facts are replaceable.

We are led to believe that Americans are divided by “us and them. “Us” are right and good while “them” have no redeeming value and don’t deserve to demand anything.

We are being convinced that the federal government (White House) has no obligation to be truthful and transparent with the people.

Professional federal workers who try to be forthcoming are quickly replaced by incompetent cult members who spin their conspiracies to strengthen their hold on the power given to them.

We have repeatedly witnessed gross violations of the Constitution that was designed to prevent what is happening today: the establishment of concentration of power in one man, a dictator.

We are lulled into believing that our friends are our enemies and our foes are our friends.

We are brainwashed into accepting the notions that a government of the people, by the people, for the people is no longer valued as in Russia, Turkey, North Korea, United Arab Republic, Syria, etc.; places where dictatorships murder or jail opponents. These practices seem to fascinate the present leadership to the point of pushing the people toward killing the soul of America to imitate them.

So yes, “We The People” are in real trouble unless we exercise one of our last freedoms, the right to vote.

However, even the right to vote is in peril since the integrity of our USPS has been sabotaged and the number of polling places subverted.

One suggestion I would like to offer to concerned people is to read publications about Nazi war criminals and the history of Fascism to imagine what this country is becoming. I for one no longer recognize the America I once knew.
Sept 22, 2020
Katy Ratliff, Fredericktown, OH

–Senior citizen speaks on Social Security and the election.
I am a senior citizen who receives monthly income from Social Security. There are 55 million of us, in addition to 10 million disabled Americans who also rely on Social Security. Social Security is the largest source of income for most retired Americans and provides 90% of the income for one in four seniors.

FICA payroll tax contributions from the current workforce pay for these retirement and disability benefits. In 2019, Social Security received 1061.8 billion in payroll taxes and spent 1059.3 billion, leaving a balance of only 2.5 billion. Today’s checks for retirees and disabled people are paid for by active workers.

In August, President Trump announced that he was deferring FICA payroll tax deductions until the end of the year. A few days later, Trump said that he would consider eliminating FICA taxes completely if he were reelected.

Chief Actuary Stephen Gross of the Social Security Administration ran the numbers and calculated that if the payroll tax is eliminated on Jan. 1, 2021, Social Security would quickly run out of money. Disability benefits would end in mid-2021 and retirement payments would stop in mid-2023.

This would be a financial disaster for retired and disabled citizens. In fact, the entire economy would suffer a serious blow if so many people were suddenly impoverished.

Trump has since tried to put a spin on his remarks by saying he thinks he could find alternative funding for Social Security. However, he is already tampering with the system, and without a clear plan, it could be damaged beyond repair. Retirees can’t take this risk. We don’t need the federal government experimenting with our monthly checks.

I ask my fellow senior citizens to help secure our financial futures and join me in voting for Joe Biden for president.

Sept 15, 2020
Jamie Lyn Smith-Fletcher, Mount Vernon, OH

–Critical reporting lacking on the Covid19 Free Ohio Now Rally
I’m a big fan of KnoxPages and fully support your efforts to maintain integrity in local journalism. However, I was furious upon reading your recent article, “Covid 19 Free Ohio Now Rally Draws Knox County Residents.” In this article, your reporters failed to report: that involves reporting the news in context and presenting the facts surrounding a situation. This article bordered on mere stenography and did little but echo and legitimize unfounded, fringe theorists who claim that Covid-19 does not present a public threat and that ODH guidelines are somehow inhibiting their freedom. What hogwash. What a failing.

Your reporters have an obligation to state the facts: the guidelines set forth by ODH differ in no way from other impositions on our freedom– do you want to eat chicken that is only cooked to 90 degrees because the line cook is a freedom-loving American who resents ODH meddling in his ability to generate capital by serving chicken medium rare? Do you want to shop at a WalMart where no one wears shirts or shoes, hell, pants either, lest us all be FREE of these absurd infringements on our beloved rights.

There is absolutely no valid scientific evidence for the claims set forth by these COVID-19 deniers.

The fact is that nearly 200,000 Americans have died because of Covid. Ohio was a leader in the nation, and our state’s shutdown saved countless lives– at great cost.

Knox County has been lucky in some respects: while we had a relatively small outbreak, I am disgusted by the number of people who do mental “acrobatics” and cling to false information rather than accept the facts: if you love America– and I do– and if you love freedom– don’t we all?– then the right thing to do is mask up, social distance, and beat this virus. Conspiracy theorists and nutjobs like the ones who gathered in Ontario should not be dominating public discussion of COVID-19, and your news outlet should not enable them by giving voice to this nonsense.

We must all do our part to keep our neighbors, coworkers, children, and frontline responders safe. The facts are this: “anti-mask” nonsense is a slap in the face to the dignity and well-being of every American, especially the frontline responders and meical workers who labor to keep us safe no matter how stupid we are. Next time, I encourage your newsroom to contextualize and question such wild, unfounded claims so that we can get back to “normal” and let science guide us through pandemic, instead of the histrionics of fools.

Sept 11, 2020
Janet Chandler, Mount Vernon, OH

–What we have in common
Our country often seems terribly divided, but there are at least a few things that we can all agree on.

We all want schools to open fully. We all want businesses to fully re-open. We all want people back to work. And we all want to be safe. Though it may not have been obvious 2-3 months ago, it is clear now that none of these shared hopes will happen until Covid-19 is under control. Unfortunately, rather than modeling American ingenuity and greatness, the United States continues to fall tragically short.

Rather than being revered in the rest of the world, we are pitied because our pandemic response has decimated our economy and resulted in deaths now approaching 200,000 Americans. Although the United states has only 4% of the world’s population, we’ve had 21% of the deaths and almost 23% of the total virus cases. Compared to New Zealand, which has had 5 deaths per million residents, the U.S. has had 571 deaths per million people.

Why is this? We might learn from countries as diverse as Vietnam, New Zealand and South Korea which all have managed Covid-19 effectively. What do these countries have in common? First, their top leadership recognized and responded to the crisis early. Their national government ensured that needed resources were available including testing, contact tracing, and protective equipment. Second, these governments provided clear, honest and consistent information about the virus, with public health officials taking the lead. And finally, political leaders followed and modeled the recommendations of the public health officials, even when citizens pushed back on these restrictions and hardships.

To address this pandemic, we needed a coordinated federal response from the top of government. That is not what we got. We deserve better than this. I will be voting for Biden/Harris in November.

Sept 10, 2020
Jill Grubb, Gambier, OH

Republicans sadly do not have the interests of everyday people
Your families and mine are being threatened by a political party that doesn’t represent our interests. They roll back restrictions on pollution and allow the destruction of natural areas for short-term goals. My son and his family in California can’t go outside or open windows because of the smoke and ash. We in Knox Co. had a tornado warning, lightning, and drenching rains while America has faced longer droughts, harsher storms, rising waters, and devastating effects of wild weather on crops and homes.

Meanwhile, McConnell and the Republicans refuse to renew the $600 a week pay for those among us who’ve lost jobs. Democrats have had the Heroes Bill ready to go for ages, but now the Republicans are planning to ram through a skinny bill that cares about protecting corporations from liability more than keeping families afloat during this pandemic. Today we learned from Bob Woodward’s tape of his interview with our president that Trump was aware how dangerous the virus is but didn’t want people to panic, he says. Nor has he tried to protect them or marshal the forces necessary to limit its effects.

Householder and his gang of four engaged in racketeering to pass HB6, stiffing Ohioans with bills for the nuclear plants, some coal mines, and oil while cutting back on clean sources of power. Despite their indictment, they are welcomed back by the GOP in Ohio. How long do we let fossil fuel companies, munitions factories, the NRA, and an administration run by the rich for the rich trample on us? How long will our elected representatives have to continue submitting bills that address real problems to a Senate that just says, “No”?

Sept 4, 2020 printed MVN Sept 16, 2020
Kathryn Edwards, Mount Vernon, OH

–On Freedom of Speech and the stealing or destroying Biden/Harris signage in Knox
The most valued American freedom is freedom of speech.  I am disenfranchised of this freedom by my neighbors in Morris Township because I cannot post any Democratic signs along my roadside or on my fence without them being stolen or torn down at night of the day I put them up.   Republican signs, however, are never disturbed.  I purchased by home on Old Mansfield Rd in 1980.  I put up Democratic signs initially, but gave up.  For more than 20yrs I have not put out Democratic signs.  I have been silent; my voice and freedom of speech has been denied.  This year I am Democratic Precinct Captain for Morris B, and I will be a poll worker.  I want to hang a Biden flag on my fence on the corner of Beckley and Old Mansfield Rd.  Sept 1, I hung the flag on the inside of my fence and sandwiched another pieced of fence over it secured with zip ties. That night the sign was ripped out leaving only a blue corner piece with grommet.  

White supremists and many Trump supporters want their freedom of speech but are happy to prevent those they do not agree with.   When Trump was first elected a neighbor across the street from me was outside with his long rifle and when I appeared in my car at the top of my driveway, he pointed his rifle at me.  I also have Mormon neighbors that vote for Trump but they will have conversation and we look out for one another.  The Township Trustees, all Republican in the past, argued that the stealing of political signs was not in their purview.  So Morris Township neighbors, will you honor freedom of speech and let me hang my signs this election season?


Sept 3, 2020
Linda Michaels, Gambier, OH

— On Trump’s present moves that are undercutting Social Security and Social Security Disability
Are you or is someone you love on Social Security or Social Security Disability SSDI)? If so, you should know that these benefits are in danger of being lost forever. These benefits are funded through the payroll tax shared equally by the employer and the employee. Donald Trump has signed an order asking employers to stop withholding this tax from employee payrolls beginning this month and through the end of the year. He has threatened to make this deferral permanent if he wins claiming that the shortfall would be made up from general revenue funds. Here is the reality. If all Social Security contributions from payroll tax stopped on January 1, 2021, the nearly 10 million people today getting SSDI would see them stop abruptly in the middle of 2021. Those 55 million receiving SS Old-Age and Survivors benefits would see them disappear two years later. Prior to running for president on the Republican ticket, Trump endorsed privatizing Social Security and raising its full retirement age to 70. Other long-standing right-wing goals are to means-test Social Security and to adopt the change to price-indexing. Those changes would impose enormous cuts while also ending Social Security as it has existed since its enactment 85 years ago. The Federal Government is already running a gigantic deficit. It is now almost equal to our total gross domestic product (GDP). So, it is impossible to make up the missing payroll contributions with general revenue. The program is already stressed because so many people are unemployed. Congress needs to raise the salary cap from $137,700 to perhaps $200,000 to make up for the fact that the senior population is growing much faster than the working age population. Social Security’s creator, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, clearly understood the importance of those Social Security contributions. They are what give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their Social Security pensions. Democrats created Social Security (and Medicare). Republicans have hated these benefits ever since. Think carefully about this on November 3, 2020

Sept 2, 2020
Meg Galipault, Mount Vernon, OH

__On Trump’s call to boycott Goodyear in Ohio
President Trump’s recent tweet calling for a boycott of Goodyear, a company that has been in business in Ohio for more than 100 years and employs approximately 4,000 Ohio workers, including those in neighboring Licking County, is an attack on working families everywhere.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m glad it was Goodyear and not Jen-Weld or Kokosing.”

That’s the problem though. The next time it could be Jen-Weld or Kokosing. Or it could be Wal-Mart, it could be Sanoh America, it could be FT Precision. Somewhere somebody could make up a story about one of these companies, put it on the Internet, and President Trump would see a tweet about it and—boom—a company is struggling and workers are laid off because the President incited a boycott.

Donald Trump doesn’t care. He said it didn’t really matter when General Motors closed its plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and thousands of jobs were lost. To the Goodyear workers, he said, ”You’ll be able to get another good job.” Of course, he didn’t mention that more than 1.5 million Ohioans have filed for unemployment since March. The President doesn’t care about Ohio working people losing their jobs.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said, “This is a petty political attack that has the potential to make a huge impact on people’s lives….”

“This is who the President is,” said Senator Sherrod Brown. He added, “President Trump’s remarks will have a negative impact on Goodyear’s sales, stocks” and Ohio families’ livelihoods. In 2016, Trump promised Ohioans, “If I’m elected, you won’t lose a single plant.” Then the Lordstown plant closed, and the President did nothing.

With just one tweet, President Trump has put the livelihoods of Goodyear workers in jeopardy. Any president, current or future, who initiates a boycott on an American company because his feelings are hurt by something he sees on TV or reads in a Tweet is a danger to all businesses and working families in the U.S.

No one disputes the enormous power American presidents have, but it should be used to help all Americans, no matter who they are. It should not depend on whether they do or say something the President finds personally hurtful, and certainly not because of a hat. The President’s job should not be about the President himself. Unfortunately, it seems Mr. Trump does not understand this, but we Ohioans do.

Aug 30, 2020
Patricia Burdette, Butler, Knox County, OH

–Response to Mr Wolff’s comments on Aug 19 LTE on USPS
I am writing in response to a letter from Mr Randy Wolff of Mount Vernon appearing on August 26.  In his letter, Mr Wolff said that my previous letter of August 19 about the importance of the rural postal service delivering items FedEx and UPS do not deliver, was “a flat out lie.” It is, in fact, verifiably true.

Although Mr Wolff has 30 years experience as a UPS delivery agent in three Ohio counties, there seems to be more involved than delivering the items workers pick up from a central location. A quick Google search reveals an August 17 article written by Sheridan Hendrix profiling a postal worker in rural Ohio, in which certain items end up as part of rural postal workers’ delivery responsibilities. In the article, Hendrix says, “Rural carriers also shoulder deliveries for…competitors such as FedEx, UPS and Amazon. Every morning [Carrier] Miller sorts through five pallets of Amazon deliveries….A few more pallets will show up from FedEx and UPS throughout the 


A further Google search on Quora indicates that UPS and FedEx routinely deliver packages to rural carriers after their own drivers complete the long leg of the delivery, leaving the shorter, but more expensive, leg of the delivery to USPS. This is because FedEx and UPS are profit making businesses, but the postal service is a non profit service for all Americans.

In addition, the Hendrix news article was picked up by a number of media outlets. Mr Wolff spoke disparagingly about The New York Times, suggesting the Times was not an acceptable source of information. However, this exact same article was picked up and printed in Stars and Stripes, USA Today,The Canton Repository, and The Columbus Dispatch among others. Most of us find all of these sources acceptable. Also, facts found in more than one credible media outlet tend to be more reliable.

Aug 29, 2020
Vickie Clawson Adams, Mount Vernon, Ohio

-To the New Owners of the Mount Vernon News
To the MV News owners. You have a business that means something to the people of Mount Vernon and Knox County.

My dad, Hal Clawson, 1947-1985, former reporter, city and managing editor, would be rolling over in his grave. As would others who spent whole career in that building.

I like holding the paper, the smell of the paper. It takes me back to when I was a kid, walking into the editorial office, seeing the stacks of paper, hearing tapping of keys on the typewriters, going into the darkroom with dad to print pictures for his stories.

I’ll miss the newspapers in education, the editorial page including a picture “from our files,” this day in history and the new Scavenger Hunt. I loved the tidbits from the papers 15 to 150 years ago and the “Kidding Around” Page.

In the newspaper world there is a term called “above the fold.” That story is one of most interest to readers, generally local. We do NOT want to read a story about a Newark woman’s wedding gown. Although interesting, not local.

We are a farm community, each high school has a thriving FFA program. The agriculture page is of interest to farmers and others.

Once a month the Radius was published with information about day trip destination sites and restaurants. I save these for our motorcycle trips.

When my dad started at the News, they were not just co-workers, they were a family. Hundreds of people have come and gone and they each left their mark.

You should try to keep the staff that are there. Joshua Morrison & Nick Sabo among others have won several of the Ohio APME Awards given to newspapers, radio and television outlets across the state of Ohio.

Your building has a rich history with architecture, people, photo archives and years of wonderful stories and yes, even a murder. Underneath that ugly cement block I see the beautiful Art Deco entrance and glass block front.

One of the many special editions, the “Looking Glass,” published every February was a reflection on people, places and pertinent stories of the previous year.

Some about the history of businesses/people of the past in this county.

To the people in Knox County. We who are upset about this change can cancel our subscriptions but is that what we should do? If enough cancel then they may decide to pull it all together. Then where are we for a print paper? The building gets sold or left to sit and rot like the old MVHS?

I am willing to give the new owners a chance.

And by the way, always remember, it is MOUNT VERNON, not Mt. Vernon.

________________________________________________________________________Aug 20, 2020
Peter Rutkoff, Gambier, OH

–On the Confederate Flag in Knox County
If you fly the Confederate flag in any form — license plate to front door — let me try to explain why I find it so objectionable.

I am Jewish, the son of a deceased World War II veteran, mortally wounded just after Normandy. I have lived in Knox County for 47 years.

My father wrote that he volunteered at age 30 to serve in the infantry precisely because he saw Nazism as evil. His father, an illiterate immigrant tailor from Russia had been a proud trade unionist. So I come to my Jewish Socialist heritage honestly.

They and all the other members of my family in the post-war generation taught me that American racism (anti Black, anti Catholic, anti Semitic and homophobic) was no less evil than the Nazism my father gave his life to defeat.

Like my father, I became a student of and then a teacher of American history. And I learned and then taught how these American racisms have poisoned us against AfricanAmericans in much the same way that Nazism condemned my European Jewish relatives to the Death Factories.

Slave labor in Nazi-Occupied Europe and slave labor on Southern plantations rests on the same pillars of dehumanizing racism and economic exploitation. In other words they are twin versions of evil.

In my own mind then, I cannot and will not distinguish between European and American racism and I cannot and will not distinguish between their symbols — the Swastika and the confederate flag.

I ask you to please respect my family’s American sacrifices and abandon your attachment to a symbol of racial hatred. We are, all of us, better that this divisive racist heritage.

Aug 20, 2020
Dan Laskin, Mount Vernon, OH

–Reflection on 2020 Democratic National Convention
I think most of us respond instinctively to bedrock values like decency and compassion, and to admirable qualities like reasonableness and competence. We know them when we see them. We count on them in the people we draw close. We want these values in our own lives, and in the life of our country.
So I was heartened to see that decency, compassion, reason, and competence often took center stage in the recent Democratic National Convention. Again and again, ordinary people appeared on screen — including lifelong Republicans — expressing their devotion to basic virtues (private virtues, civic virtues) that President Trump so glaringly lacks.
I will support Joe Biden in 2020 for his caring, forward-looking, and inclusive approach to urgent issues like health care and the pandemic, jobs, climate change, and justice for all. I’ll support him because he respects science, public service, and expertise. But I’ll also support him because of the bedrock values that under-gird his politics. What a contrast with President Trump, whose knee-jerk reflex, to just about everything, is either self-serving or an appeal to fear and anger.
Having failed America in so many ways, Trump is left with a dishonest strategy of painting all of his opponents as dangerous radicals. The Democratic Convention showcased the truth: decency was on display.

Aug 19, 2020
Patricia Keane, Mount Vernon, OH

COVID Pandemic Here
The effects of the coronavirus are felt locally and nationally. In Knox County, there are 232 people who tested positive for the coronavirus. Eight are hospitalized, 13 have died.  In the US, 5.5 million people are covid19 positive and 172,000 have died. Families with children are in crisis – worried about sending kids to school, anxious about doing on-line teaching, and scrambling for childcare.   

It did not have to be like this.

In Spring, everyone made sacrifices. Workers were furloughed, businesses shut down, and students stayed home. But these sacrifices were worth it if we could get ahead of covid19 by “flattening the curve”. It was a time to for federal and state agencies to work on strategies such as testing, contact tracing, and supplying masks.  This time was squandered by the President. Instead of addressing Covid19 as a public health crisis, he saw it as a public relations crisis.   

Every other advanced country had a better response than we had, with less cases and deaths per capita. Why? Because other leaders listened to public health officials, made decisions based on science, and took responsibility.  Was it indifference or ignorance which led to such a weak national response? The Trump administration did have a national plan back in April but abandoned it because (at that time) the states affected were “blue” states such as New York and New Jersey (Vanity Fair, 7/30/2020).  Of course, now CoVid19 is now ravaging red states, so this political strategy was short sighted, not to say immoral.

The Covid19 pandemic was not President Trump’s fault, but I do blame President Trump for his weak and callous response.  How many people have died because of poor national leadership by President Trump?

Aug 17, 2020
Patricia Burdette, Butler, OH

–USPS and Rural Life
Today, all citizens rely on the USPS, but rural residents rely on it even more than urbanites. The postal service delivers to many rural addresses FedEx and UPS will not deliver to because these addresses are too far from their established routes.

In rural Knox County, where I live, my neighbors and I rely on the postal service to deliver our mail six days a week. We are also able to purchase stamps, mail letters, and mail small parcels from our own mailboxes. During this 2020 Pandemic, many of us rely on the postmistress to also deliver packages from Internet purchases, shipped grocery orders, pension and paychecks, and medical prescriptions. Many of us bank and pay our bills through the mail service as well. These are important services that reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus at this time.

The current, newly appointed Postmaster General, as I have read in several media outlets, is now making significant changes in the USPS which will seriously slow both the processing and delivery of mail throughout the nation and in rural areas like Knox County in particular. These deliberate delays and the undermining of one of our country’s most vital services during a pandemic are hard to understand. Especially when rural areas, including Knox County, are disproportionately elderly. It could end up as voter suppression.

I have worked at the polls in Knox County for several years. All poll workers have always voted early or voted by absentee ballot prior to Election Day. This year, early voting and absentee voting will permit citizens to avoid long lines and unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. Now, early voting and absentee voting are more important than ever.

Once ballots are requested from the Knox County Board of Elections, they will be mailed from the BOE on October 6. There are only 19 business days between October 6 and November 3. Mail in my area of the county is processed through Mansfield, most of the county’s mail is processed through Columbus. It is essential to prepare to vote early in person or by absentee ballot.

This is an issue that should be of concern to all Knox County voting citizens who wish to remain safe during this pandemic. Request your absentee ballot today to ensure early receipt of the ballot, vote immediately, and mail the ballot back to the county board of elections immediately after you fill it out. Try to mail it before October 15, if it is possible. If this is impossible, early voting begins Oct. 6.
Aug 13, 2020
Kathryn Edwards, Mount Vernon, OH

–Vote for Democracy
The bottom line is that we citizens of the United States are the guardians of our democracy.

Americans, for the most part, were disenchanted with the party system in 2016 because it had moved well beyond compromise putting party loyalty before Democracy. Thus, very little was accomplished in congress beyond stonewalling.

Now as we approach the 2020 presidential partisan identity has risen above rationale to dominate any topic you can name, even to Covid-19 and whether you wear a mask or not to prevent its spread. Money in politics assures that “we the people” keep focused on party.

What this shadows is the stake for Democracy versus Authoritarianism.

My neighbors, this stake has been in play since the end of the Civil War, 1865. A number of current books re-attest to the long play to undermine American Democracy: If We Can Keep It by Michael Tomasky; Supreme Inequality by Adam Cohen; Non-Believer Nation by David Niose; and Law Without Future by Jack Jackson. Books on what we have become as a nation include The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander; Toxic Inequality, by Thomas Shapiro; Billionaire Democracy, by George Tyler; The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein; Evicted, by Mathew Desmond; the Netflix documentary, 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay to name only a few.

What is clear is that money in politics, corporations given citizenship by the Supreme Court, placing party before Democracy is leading America into authoritarian.

Who wants the authority to control America? Corporations who can then avoid being accountable and improve their profits and religious institutions who also covet power to avoid being accountable, setting rules of exclusion and immoral punishment; and to return to ages of religious rule (in America this is Christian Authority).

Voting and demonstrating (resistance) are the two methods the common citizen has to bring change to federal government.

We should always embrace not fear them. Both require that we are guardians of Democratic principles before party, money, religion, and law.

When you vote this November, be prepared to vote for democracy.

Jun 5, 2020
Jill Grubb, Gambier, OH

–Ohio’s GOP Threatens Voter’s Health with New Bill
After Ohio’s primary election resulted in low voter turnout and confusion, Ohio Republicans are proposing it become harder to vote by mail and to vote in person. There was major voter disenfranchisement here, and in other places like Wisconsin — we must be preparing to fix these mistakes for the general election, not exacerbate them.

State Rep. Cindy Abrams of Hamilton County introduced a bill that would reduce the time for voters to vote by mail and eliminate the mailing of absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, a provision that was passed in last year’s budget. Her bill ignores any safety precautions, making voting a choice between life and democracy. Not admirable.

We have watched as Republicans have invented more and more ways to prevent people from voting, claiming, wrongly, that voting by mail is full of fraud. It is not. Several states have been doing that for years. Shortening hours and moving polling places to inaccessible areas without public transportation are other ways they’ve tried to exclude voters. Not American.

On the other side, state Sens. Nickie Antonio and Sandra Williams introduced legislation that would make it easier for folks to vote by mail, which is not only of the utmost importance for keeping Ohioans safe during this crisis; it makes voting more accessible.

All Ohioans need to have the chance to make their voices heard by voting. Please protect that right