Taxpayers need answers

The Geauga Park District’s board of commissioners recently withdrew the handling of the park’s finances from the auditor’s office and set up a separate system controlled exclusively by them. Why?  Voters have always supported tax levies for our parks and expect the park board to spend our tax dollars wisely. Why are they suddenly spending tens of thousands of dollars to set up a separate system when there was very minimal cost with the auditor’s office?  We taxpayers need straight answers to this strange turn of events. Stay tuned.

Rosemary Balazs 

Chester Township

Get facts on masks

If you read the articles in last week’s Times about the mask issue at the meetings of three local school boards, please be advised that virtually every argument made in opposition to mandatory masking has been refuted by credible sources. Please fact check these claims yourself. Here is a link to one fairly comprehensive article on the subject: https://bit.ly/3mFdOlD.

Just to cite a few of the many false claims in the article:

Claim: There have been over 13,000 deaths caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. FALSE.

As explained by USA Today, Reuters and other sources, deaths reported to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (or VAERS) are not a “death toll.” Anyone can make these reports and they do not prove any causality.VAERS covers all reports of all adverse effects, not just deaths. The reports cover all vaccines, not just COVID-19 vaccines. Anti-vaccine advocates have erroneously cited the database for decades.

Claim: Masks block a child’s ability to breathe properly. FALSE.

Claim: We don’t need to worry about kids being exposed to COVID-19. FALSE.

Claim: Children suffer from various negative effects of masks. FALSE.

There is no evidence showing that masks are harmful to the wearer or that they compromise job performance or learning.

OSHA states that masks do nothing. FALSE.

If you haven’t gotten vaccinated and you oppose masking-wearing where required or recommended, you are contributing to the spread of COVID-19. There is no way around it.

Patrick Gallagher

Bainbridge

Board oversight lacking

As a taxpaying citizen and park lover, I am appalled by the fact that the Geauga Park District Board and Executive Director John Oros submitted a budget for approval to the Geauga County Budget Commission that was so egregiously in error. This shows a remarkable lack of oversight by a public board and director.

One would think that after the ridiculous debacle they created by separating the financial oversight from the county to an in-house fiscal officer, costing the taxpayers many thousands of dollars, they would be extra careful with financial matters and scrutinize the work of the newly hired Fiscal Officer Michael Frederick. Unfortunately, this “transposition error” shows that this is not the case. I voted for a levy to support our beautiful parks, but $1.9 million dollars of that levy money will be forfeited due to failure of Mr. Frederick, Mr. Oros and each and every one of the board members.

No matter how much they try to push off the blame and criticize the budget commission, this is on them. Now they are considering hiring an outside public accounting firm to do the work that the new fiscal officer messed up. One wonders how many more tax dollars will be spent for the extra accounting work. At the Aug. 20 special meeting, which was held without legally required notice, the Geauga Park District Board hired another law firm to evaluate the next budget. There was no public discussion of how much the new legal team will cost.

All of these errors make me wonder, is the board even paying attention? Are they asking pertinent questions or just rubber-stamping whatever Director Oros passes along from their boss? Could this be the kind of board oversight you get when all the board members are selected and appointed by one person and more for personal loyalty than for dedication to the public good?

Kathryn Hanratty

Chardon Township

Oops, they did it again

Oops! I notice that a Geauga Park District commissioner, the great and mysterious Pat Preston, has come out from behind the curtain and declared he might not be doing a good job in respect to the latest scandal the park district is involved with.

Of course, I’m pretty sure he had to remove his head from Geauga Probate Judge Timothy Grendell’s [reach] long enough to get permission to fall on his sword for his lord and master. We’ll find out if the grand poobah of the probate court, who has no shame when it comes to spending county money to keep and expand his power, approved. If Mr. Preston keeps his position, then the answer was royal approval, if not, well Pat Preston wanted to spend more time with his family. (Wink, wink. )

First there was the poorly thought out and hastily executed break with the county fiscal office, the subsequent circus of not knowing the consequences of their action, i.e., the loss of healthcare for employees, the hiring of their own fiscal officer at a cost of $60,000 or $70,000, which had been free (not to mention accurate), and currently the misplacement of a paltry $2 million, which Pat Preston wants to resolve by hiring another consultant accounting firm. Another unnecessary expense. If Pat Preston runs his business this way, I expect there will be a couple of vacant auto showrooms in Burton sooner rather than later.

Dan Hercik

Chardon

Critical to look at CRT

If you want to get entwined in a lengthy thread of points, counterpoints and derisive comments, post your view of critical race Theory on social media. People have very strong opinions about CRT and, as one or more of them will inevitably weave into the thread, many don’t know enough about it.

Some commenters think it merely promotes a fuller, more honest reckoning of racism in America’s past and the vestiges of it in our present. But the moniker itself should call that view into question. It’s a “theory,” not an assessment, a plan, or a program, though it entails all those things. A theory is: “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.”

So critical race theory intends to explain racial inequality by supposing the idea that, “racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society” and claiming that “existing power structures … are based on white privilege and white supremacy.” (From the UCLA School of Public Affairs.) It is an offshoot of neo-Marxist critical theory that divides the masses into oppressors and the oppressed, but by race rather than by class.

CRT is at bottom and fundamentally a worldview, and its pre-conclusion of systemic racism is an “analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures” for evidence to support it. So, when CRT is introduced into the classroom or the boardroom, the school or the business is imposing a worldview and expecting you and/or your children to subscribe to it.

But don’t take my word for it. And don’t only listen to or read secondary sources that align with your politics. Go to the primary sources. Critical race theory and its precursors have been around for many decades and there’s a lot of information out there. A lot of it is conflicting, I know, and there are wise and well-respected advocates on both sides.

But if half the country is sounding the alarm about the dangers CRT poses to our freedoms, it’s “critical” that we make the effort to educate ourselves about its origin, its ideology and its goals.

Caroline Smith

South Russell

Mayor missed commitment

Pepper Pike’s mayor committed to have City Council vote on the $700,000 portion of the proposed Gates Mills Boulevard trail project well before the ODNR grant announcement, initially anticipated by August. Council meetings on Aug. 18 and Aug. 25 were an opportune time to have this vote, and it was questioned why this committed council review and vote had not yet occurred. The reason for the question and concern is that the city has financial obligations once the grant is announced.

Candidates running for City Council need to assure residents that if elected, they will establish better communication with residents about city projects – proposed traffic circle changes before work begins, reporting conclusions of surveys before Council has been given the opportunity to weigh in, true transparency and updating the city website.

For background, I would kindly suggest you refer to the audio minutes of the Feb. 17, 2021 Special Council meeting from approximately 3 minutes into the audio recording for approximately 35 minutes.  During that time frame, you will hear many times the concerns of councilmen regarding whether or not they will have the opportunity to review and vote on the Gates Mills trail project prior to the awarding of the grant.  There were commitments made by the mayor when Resolution 2021-03 was adopted to apply for the $500,000 grant which need to be honored.

At approximately 13 minutes into the audio, the mayor says, “Consideration of the application will take a number of months by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; time to process the request.  During that time, we will need to come to a conclusion. I do not want to be in a position where they have granted the money and we are rejecting an approved grant. If we apply and come to a negative conclusion, we can withdraw that application [prior to the award being made] without penalty or prejudice to us.” 

There was much discussion around Section 3 of the application which reads, “The City of Pepper Pike does agree to obligate the funds required to satisfactorily complete the proposed project.”  The mayor states, “If we maintain the application, yes, we have a commitment … we will know if we are proceeding with this project or not well in advance of their [ODNR] decision.”

As mentioned, there were 30 minutes of good debate regarding council’s concern of the commitment the city would be making once the grant is approved by the ODNR. 

The mayor states that the process of nays and yeas by council will have been taken well prior to the grant approval. He says, “ That is my commitment to council and the public for what we are going to do.”  

Therefore, a specific date should to be set when council is given the opportunity to discuss and vote prior to the awarding of the grant. 

Manny Naft

Pepper Pike

Personal liberty, common good

I was disturbed to read about the rude, hysterical behavior of some parents who attended the recent West Geauga School Board meeting as reported in the Aug. 27 issue of the Times. Their words and actions – the misinformation, disinformation, wild charges, bullying and threats – show the darkest, most shameful side of our democracy. Let me try to bring some sanity to the heated discussion that has arisen locally about school board mask mandates by offering the story of my own experience as a teacher.

Last spring I taught two courses at a university in which masks were required in the classroom and hallways. Granted, I’m talking about college students rather than K-12 students; at the same time, however, all I’ve read and heard suggests that younger students respond with little significant difference to mask-wearing than older students. Yes, masks can be uncomfortable. Yes, masked teachers and students have trouble, on occasion, understanding one another. But, in my experience, these were not real problems either for students or instructors. The consensus among everyone in class was that, despite masking, in-class teaching and learning were far preferable to remote instruction and learning. I think we sometimes underestimate the robustness, resilience and general good nature of our students. I never once heard a student complain about mask-wearing; instead, what I often heard and felt was deep gratitude that I, given my advanced age and vulnerability, was willing to step into a classroom and teach during a deep and protracted pandemic.

Every considered argument I’ve read or heard on the issue of mask mandates stresses the great benefit of that practice to public health. Thoughtful judgment also defends the need to protect that health against the injurious actions of individuals. John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty,” the classic statement on personal freedom, asserts that every individual in society has the right to do what he/she likes as long as the exercise of that right doesn’t infringe about the individual rights of other persons. According to this logic, your right to be free of wearing a mask indoors may infringe upon others’ right to be free of a deadly disease and, therefore, may need to be limited in the interests of public health. In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (a case about compulsory vaccination), defended the principle that individual liberty is not absolute in the face of “the common good,” and that “real liberty for all” depends on restraining individual exercises of liberty that harm others. Recently, a Florida judge overturned Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools, arguing that it failed to “pass constitutional muster.” Legal precedent in this country lies squarely behind the right of local and other authorities to curtail personal freedom in the interests of public health.

Let’s get a grip. Let’s unite in common cause to fight this pandemic. The shared sacrifice in this war is, when it comes to masks, really just the common bearing of a minor, temporary discomfort. That sacrifice shouldn’t be hard.

John McBratney

Munson

Thanks for center updates

I commend the Bainbridge Trustees for the beautification of and improvements to the Haskins Road Recycling Center. There is an increase in space as well as fencing and security cameras.

I also applaud them for agreeing to prosecute those few who continue to illegally dump furniture, mattresses and non-recyclable items and trash at the site. My observation is that most local residents do obey the simple rules – no plastic bags in the bins, break down cardboard boxes, etc.

For those few who don’t care or can’t seem to follow the simple posted rules, then prosecution and fines are the only recourse.

Thank you again to the trustees for improving and upgrading this local recycling center. It’s a needed local service for those of us in the community who recycle regularly.

Richard Larrabee

Auburn

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