Silent family behind Sen. Harris

When U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination, she proudly mentioned her family. First, those related to her by blood, but then, a much larger group related to her by collegiate association. Many listening may have been oblivious, but curious, of three references: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Divine Nine and HBCU’s. As a 40-year member of Omega Psi Phi and one of the umbrella organizations of the Divine Nine, I offer insight as to the impact the Sen. Harris speaks.

In 1986, Sen. Harris joined Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest black sorority founded in 1908. AKA boasts more than 300,000 members, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, serving Texas. Another influential voice on the hill is Majority Whip and Omega Psi Phi brother James Clyburn of South Carolina. Then, there is U.S. Rep. Al Green serving Texas’s Ninth Congressional District. Rep. Green is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Most notably, there have been hundreds more who proceeded these men and women in congressional, judicial, military and executive ranks.

In Cuyahoga County, U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge is the former international president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (1996-2000), and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. As mayor of Woodmere, I am an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Zeta Omega Chapter, having served as president from 2005-2008. East Cleveland Mayor Brandon L. King is part of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council or “Divine Nine” is a coalition of the nine largest historically African American Greek-letter fraternities and sororities currently representing nearly 2 million members.The Divine Nine, through nationally mandated programs address economic, and political issues for social change.

Historically, the prominent leaders in the Woman’s Suffrage, Civil Rights Movement, and most recently Black Lives Matter initiative have also pledged life-long affiliations to these black Greek organizations.

Another family component Sen. Harris mentioned was HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The main mission of HBCUs is to offer undergraduate and graduate opportunities to the African American community. With more than 100 HBCU’s in 19 states, including two universities in Ohio, (Wilberforce and Central State) have conferred nearly 50,000 degrees in 2018. Among the many accomplishments is countless alumni who have gone on to lead organizations and held influential positions in society.

The intellectual capital and political authority of these “family members” of Kamala Harris, can bring a voice to the national stage unlike ever before. For anyone who remains unaware of why her extended family was worthy of mention, the tangible proof might be revealed on Election Day, and for decades to come.

Mayor Benjamin Holbert


Challenging COVID-19 data

In response to the column by former Times editor Dave Lange, I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words. Contrary to media stories of late, widely shared graphs clearly show that the death rate continues to fall as the test rate and case rate have risen exponentially. Despite the press frequently commending Europe’s success controlling COVID-19 versus the U.S., the death data tells a much different story. The U.S. has a 3.3 percent case-fatality rate versus 9.2 percent in the European Union. It is notable that the EU claims high compliance with face mask usage versus the U.S. The U.S. is also below the world average (3.7 percent). Sweden is often criticized for not having imposed a lock-down and their official position that masks are not needed for ordinary life. Sweden’s death rate is now 7 percent while France and the UK are still over 15 percent.

You can find this information for yourself at It is an abomination that the public does not receive such information from our press or our own CDC website.

You cannot test a population to safety. COVID-19 needs to run its course and the only limiting factor should be the medical community’s capacity to address those that get sick, not those that test positive. Can you imagine the number of cases of seasonal flu that would be detected if we tested for it like we do for COVID-19? I have the scientific background to understand the papers being used to bolster the mask usage debate. I have read them all. Scientifically, the papers are vastly underwhelming. In-a-nutshell, their common conclusion that “something must be better than nothing” is an opinion and not based on solid case-controlled scientific evidence. It remains true that it is the tiny COVID-19 particles that pose the greatest risk because they remain airborne for long periods due to their size. The COVID-19 particles inside large sneezing droplets fall to the ground rapidly because of their size and weight. A 2015 (pre-COVID) case-controlled study by MacIntyre compared flu-like infection rates in 1,607 hospitals. They compared mandatory use of surgical masks versus cloth masks. They found that penetration through surgical masks was 44 percent versus cloth masks at 97 percent. In addition, the CDC reports that mask edge leakage alone reduces filter efficiency by 60 percent.

Lastly, I have to say I do tire of Mr. Lange always including a shot at President Trump. All Trump did was share an off-the-cuff wishful statement that wouldn’t it be great if you could kill the virus with a shot. Had Mr. Lange done his homework, he would have found that it was widely reported that there are such procedures for select medical conditions. I did appreciate Mr. Lange describing the Chagrin market picture context from a more real-world perspective.

Marc Kolanz

Auburn Township

Protestors taking over cities

For the past six months we have watched the protestors burn and loot our major cities with no response from the authorities who could stop these acts. The mayors, city councils and governors of these cities take no responsibility for the actions of these criminals.

All of these cities have laws and regulations to control peaceful demonstrations.

Any demonstration should require a permit from the city which would include the following:

a. Purpose of the demonstration (unlawful events would be denied)

b. Who is in charge of the demonstration

c. When is the demonstration to be held

d. How long will the demonstration go on (time to start and end)

e. Where will the event start and end, and on what streets

f. Will there be leaders stationed within the demonstration

Based upon the answers to these questions the leaders of the event should be told that the city will provide protection for the demonstration, but they would have to agree to the following:

Should there be any vandalism or damage to any property the leaders within the group would immediately end the demonstration and leave the area so the authorities can deal with the people who are causing the problem.

The leaders in the group must be identifiable to the authorities in order to control any disturbance.

By doing this up front the cities would show that they respect the right to have peaceful demonstrations but still be able to protect the properties of businesses and allow the authorities a safer way to control the crowds.

While this procedure would work but only if the administrations of these cities show that they are not afraid of offending some of these so-called social improvement groups.

Charles Gates

Newbury Township

Why deface signs?

For the third time since June, someone has taken the Biden sign in my yard. The thieves do not take the metal frame. They only take the sign that fits over the metal frame. This morning I noticed that signs on three other properties in the Ledge Hill neighborhood of Solon had been taken in the same manner. A few days ago, a friend who lives in Bainbridge Township photographed a man in the act of spray painting the hammer and sickle on Biden signs. It was posted on Facebook.

I have a question for the thieves and the man who defaces Biden signs with a hammer and sickle: just what are you trying to accomplish?

Mark Weber


Goodwill can be large           

 On Aug 2, I read Barbara Christian’s “Window On Main Street” headlined “Preserve Moments of Wedded Bliss.”

I would like to share my view as a former mayor of the village (1991-1995). I did not know that the privilege of performing weddings would be part of my job description but I learned that mayors elected in Cuyahoga County could perform that service if they wished.

Prior to my taking office, Mayor Richard Bodwell (1985-1991) offered to share his experience and talking about performing weddings was a high point. Mayor James Solether (1956-1965) and again (1976-1984) also thought weddings were an important service. 

Chagrin Falls is blessed with a number of locations where a small, comfortable, inexpensive, flexible wedding can be staged i.e.Triangle Park, the stairs to the falls, Riverside Park and Village Hall, just to name a few.

I was privileged to perform at least 38 of these special occasions. I followed the practices of Jim and Dick by inviting the couples to make a minimum gift of $100 to anyone of the great nonprofits that exist in the village such as the Chagrin Falls Historical Society, the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, the Valley Art Center, etc.  I was pleased to have raised more than $3,800.

Chagrin Falls is a welcoming community and it should stay that way. COVID-19 will fade away. Social distancing and masks are easy to handle.  Most wedding parties are small and demand very little, if any, village service.

I see the goodwill as large.        

Ed Towns


Lessons from state scandal

Ohio’s not taking care of its kids. We have the fifth highest infant mortality rate in the country, the third highest percentage of children without health insurance coverage, and abused children have been living in a county office building because of our inadequate foster care system. In fact, our children’s services in Ohio are among the lowest funded in the country. And of course, our funding for public education was ruled unconstitutionally inadequate two decades ago.

Ohioans are good, family-oriented people so this can seem like a mystery – why is Ohio at the bottom in protecting our precious children? Reading the criminal bribery complaint against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, the answer becomes clear. Children can’t pay bribes or write checks to campaigns. So, Ohio’s Republican super-majority simply ignores their pain while fast-tracking legislation that helps the most wealthy and powerful.

Officeholders get away with this in part because they sit in districts gerrymandered to ensure that they are easily re-elected even when they have not addressed the needs of their constituents. A three-judge federal panel held last summer that Ohio’s districts were drawn improperly by Republicans to deprive voters of their constitutional rights. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the federal courts would not correct this travesty, so it’s up to Ohio citizens to make sure that our elected officials redraw the districts fairly next year under Ohio’s new laws that require more transparency and bipartisan cooperation.

Lack of accountability due to safe gerrymandered seats is only part of the equation. The criminal bribery complaint against House Speaker Larry Householder has demonstrated in depressing detail how money determines legislative priorities in Ohio. Not just millions in illegal dark money but also more than a million dollars in legal direct campaign contributions from “Company A” led to the quick passage of legislation benefitting that Company, while our kids still wait after 20 years for a public education that is adequately funded.

We can’t become numb to this corruption that harms our children. Just a few years ago, we learned about ECOT, a private online charter school that defrauded Ohioans.

We all bear responsibility for destroying our children’s futures if we do not take our roles seriously as public citizens. We must read serious journalism, and subscribe to reputable local news sources, so that we know what is happening in our communities. We should not only vote but also research the candidates for whom we are voting.

Further, we must demand more transparency in how campaigns are financed. This includes requiring candidates to file reports more frequently to show in a timely way who their contributors are. For instance, in the current state legislative races, no further campaign reports are due from now until Oct. 22. We must insist upon laws that stop the flow of dark money into our state races and support laws now being introduced to require the disclosure of the donors to 501(c)(4) organizations that make contributions or expenditures for campaigns like those of Team Householder.

Betsy Rader

Russell Township

May apologizes

I am writing to apologize to the members of the Geauga County Budget Commission for comments that I made at Auburn Township’s August 17 Board of Trustees meeting regarding Auburn’s budget hearing. My comments lacked personal and professional courtesy and unfairly called into question the motives of the Commission members for denying Auburn’s budget.  More information, regarding the Commission’s concerns, should have been obtained, before answering questions from the Board and local news reporters.  These types of reactionary actions tend to create political discord, something we need less of. After working with our County Auditor, I now have a better understanding of their concerns, and a revised budget will be submitted. I look forward to working with the Commission members and their staff in the future. 

Fred May

Auburn fiscal officer

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