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–Issues most important to our current volunteers
–Letters to the Editor Mount Vernon News and Knox News
We asked our local volunteers for this 2020 Presidential election:
Letters to Local Editors: Knox Pages and Mount Vernon News
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