Archive for October, 2013

Zero-tolerance policies bleed education

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In addition to the problems listed on the national report card it received in 2012, Ohio’s education system must face the consequences of zero tolerance policies: discrimination and higher incarceration rates.  Zero tolerance came about in 1998, when all boards of education were required to adopt “a policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior.”

The broad mandate of zero tolerance and the failure of some administrators to employ critical thinking in applying it have resulted in some absurd results. ...

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Ohio lawmakers must remain vigilant over fracking

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“All that glitters is not gold.” Shakespeare’s warning in The Merchant of Venice may apply to fracking, where large quantities of high-pr essured fluids are discharged underground in order to dislodge natural gas. Fracking’s glitter is the promise of bountiful energy and jobs.  So seductive is this promise that people can easily be persuaded to rationalize the significant environmental risks that the drilling companies will always minimize.

The two most significant risks appear to be contamination ...

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The NRA suppresses studies on gun violence

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Ever wonder why we study highway collisions, smoking and HIV/AIDS for the purpose of reducing risk but don’t do the same for gun-related fatalities? It’s because the National Rifle Association purposefully works to suppress such research. The NRA will likely lobby against the $10 million proposed by President Barack Obama in his 2014 budget to study gun violence prevention.

The NRA’s battle against research began when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 1993 about guns in the ...

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NRA has lost its way

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What do the Great Oz and the National Rifle Association have in common? Both make a lot of noise and try to intimidate anybody who questions them, but unlike the Great Oz, the NRA has real power.

State Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, articulated the NRA’s position in June 2012: “Our Second Amendment rights have been infringed countless times in the past. If we let someone come and take one right away from us … we diminish what it means ...

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Do people have the right to own any semiautomatic rifle, magazine size? Maybe not

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Are gun advocates right when they say they have a constitutional right to carry assault weapons such as the AR-15 and large capacity clips? Recent court decisions suggest not.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed in 2008 a handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller, it was unclear whether the Second Amendment was a collective or personal right.

The court’s holding that the amendment conveys a personal right to own handguns was significant, but so too was how Justice Antonin Scalia ...

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Tort reform is actually claim suppression

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Let’s call it what it is. What health care providers, their insurers and some politicians propose in the name reducing medical costs is not tort reform. It’s claim suppression. A genuine effort at reforming how medical malpractice claims are handled would include reforming the entire system, but tort reformers speak only of capping damage awards and attorney fees, which will benefit only providers and their insurance companies. Patients will be harmed by the change. (Note: my firm doesn’t handle medical ...

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Court closes payday-loan loophole

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Ohio’s check cashing businesses found a loophole almost immediately in the Short-Term Loan Act, passed in June 2008, which placed limitations on short term loans known as payday loans.

Payday lending consists of small loans with big interest rates and lots of fees, and it’s big business. According to the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, in 2006 there were 183 payday lenders in Franklin County alone that generated over $37 million in fees. The average borrower takes out 12 ...

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Utility deregulation not so good for consumers

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Last January, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio issued a ruling that may result in standard service for Columbia Gas being phased out by 2017. Will gas deregulation be good for Ohio residential consumers? Perhaps the better question is whether residential consumers benefit from the regulatory change process.

In theory, the commission considers all views when making regulatory changes, but commission hearings provide little opportunity for residential consumers to learn or be heard. According to Joseph V. Maskovyak, staff attorney for the ...

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Bad grammar is killing me

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In the words of a great American nautical hero, “I’ve had all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!” I’m talking about bad grammar. That’s right—bad grammar, a bad practice that is becoming commonplace. I hear TV journalists using bad grammar.  I see grammatical errors in newspapers and books. Worse yet, I hear bad grammar from lawyers.

Language is the most important tool lawyers employ. It is the palette from which we convey ideas and the means by which we ...

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Doctors must be able to ask about guns

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On July 30, state Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Dist. 19, introduced Sen. Bill 165, which would prohibit physicians from asking patients questions about whether there are guns in their home. What do guns have to do with a person’s health, and why should physicians care whether their patients have guns?

Pediatricians ask these questions because guns are a leading killer of children. The Children’s Defense Fund reported that in 2008 and 2009, 5740 children and teens, including 299 children under age 10, ...

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