Tell the whole truth

Journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth.

I am the guy you put on the front cover of the July 16/17 edition of the Times and determined to be against mask wearing by noting the following: “Some people are following the mask mandate in Cuyahoga County while others are not.”

I am angry, angry for the lack of integrity in actions by your publication. Professional journalism, as I understand it, involves presenting and confirming facts (unless in an OP/ED). Even a criminal facing court or a famous person is given the courtesy of responding with a statement to an upcoming publication. According to the American Press Institute, journalism’s first obligation is to the truth, with an allegiance to citizens, while relying on a professional discipline for verifying information. You did no fact checking and did not ask me for a comment in response to your intended photo or caption.

So here are the facts: I was not wearing a mask at the time the photo was taken, I was riding my bike until moments before, and was in compliance with CDC social distancing guidelines. The caption did not mention that because I was not provided the opportunity to comment.

I understand and support freedom of the press. I do, however, believe in reporting facts and proper follow up by reporters. Had your team checked their facts I would not have been singled out and used as an example by your paper with your opinion of what was happening in that moment.

This is not about wearing or not wearing masks, social distancing, or following CDC guidelines, this about checking facts on such a controversial topic, or any topic for that matter, if you choose to put someone in your publication.

Please remember that truth, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality and fairness are fundamental to codes of ethics for good journalism. I am sure you can do better.

Alex Chavez

Chagrin Falls

Ohioans, grow up

I have listened to most of Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conferences since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. I didn’t vote for him, but I approve and appreciate his leadership on this issue. Mature adults understand the need for certain regulations and limits, and in my opinion Gov. DeWine has treated Ohioans as mature adults from the start. He has given science-based reasoning for his orders. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable, we’d rather not wear one, but mature adults see the need and comply.

Some Ohio adults apparently are immature, they defied the reasonable order to mask-up and they balk at the request to do so now.  Some threw tantrums at the Ohio Statehouse, even spitting on reporters. Gov. DeWine lost his capable and caring director of the Ohio Department of Health because of their menacing behavior.  Like teenagers, maybe these protesters felt they were grown-up enough and don’t need to be told what to do. So, Gov. DeWine has lately been giving reasonable recommendations instead of orders. Now community spread is increasing, COVID-19 cases are rising.  Gov. DeWine delivered a heartfelt and logical plea last week that I would summarize like this: Ohioans, grow up – don’t make me ground you.

Kathleen O. Webb

Munson Township

Chester needs stability

The tenure of Chester Township Trustees Joe Mazzurco and Ken Radtke has witnessed some of the highest employee turnover in the past 20 years, and it is not exclusively about competitive wages.

We have seen a parade of Mazzurco/Radtke Road Department supervisors come and go.  The most recent was paid almost double the salary of his predecessors. He did not leave for financial reasons. 

Concern and “eyebrows” were raised when Mr. Mazzurco and Mr. Radtke hired Trustee Frank Kolk’s wife for the assistant fiscal officer position. She did not leave for pay equity reasons, please read her letter of resignation.

The universal secretary resigned, but not for financial reasons. Mr. Mazzurco, Mr. Radtke and ousted Fiscal Officer Craig Richter created this job, and it was a poor decision. This position will no doubt now be filled with a part-time staffer, as it should have been previously.

Others have resigned for a myriad of reasons, none of which involve salary, with the exception of the Chester Township Fire Department.

 In September of 2018 the firefighters and EMS staff received a $5 per hour across the board pay increase. In May of 2019, Chester Township residents passed a $1 million levy to respond to the Chester Fire Department demand that without the levy, firefighters will continue to leave.

Two of the firefighters who aggressively campaigned for the new full-time positions and successfully completed polygraph testing, psychological assessments, FBI/BCI background checks and extensive pension physicals before starting full-time, have already resigned. 

William J. Bulman, hired on March 22 resigned June 3 and Ryan C. Zittkowski hired on March 23, resigned July 1, 2020, wrote identical template statements: “I am pursuing an opportunity that offers a fair market wage, competitive workweek, reasonable time off and the protection of a union contract.”

If the Chester Township Fire Department cannot offer a fair market wage, competitive work week, reasonable time off, and the protection of a union contract, maybe we should return to privatization or seek possible countywide regionalization of fire and emergency medical services.  

Judy K. Zamlen-Spotts

Chester Township

Pepper Pike just fine right now         

The Beech Brook rezoning project spear-headed by Bryan Stone of Axiom Development and fully supported by Mayor Richard Bain is fascinating in that for months both men have failed to comprehend why opposition to rezoning exists. Mayor Bain is quoted as saying; “I think a lot of the objections relate to the development plan and not necessarily the rezoning.” In keeping with that mindset, for months Mr. Stone has been scrambling, reportedly talking to residents for feedback, adjusting and then readjusting his development plan to try to win over a majority of voters come November.

From the very start, however, the opposition to rezoning Beech Brook has made its objective clear;  no rezone. Mr. Stone has apparently not heard the many voices nor seen the countless yard signs letting it be known that bulldozing the 68-acre mostly pristine property in favor of more retail, more offices and the three homes per acre lots that would come with voter approval of rezoning Beech Brook is simply not acceptable no matter what the development plan contains. 

In fairness to Mayor Bain, when he’s not touting how great the Axiom development would be to visit and enjoy the amenities to be offered he has mentioned that he believes more commercial development for Pepper Pike is, in general, a good thing. As he puts it, “A monoculture is a very unstable ecosystem.” 

Increasing the commercial to residential ratio in Pepper Pike may be considered a good reason to rezone Beech Brook under some circumstances, but this is far from being a valid reason today. First, Pepper Pike is not a monoculture. Pepper Pike is predominately residential but there is already plenty of commercial activity at the Lander Circle area. Also, our city is not unstable by any means as evidenced by our growing $12 million rainy day fund accumulated over just the past few years resulting from an already increased tax base and excellent management from Mayor Bain and Pepper Pike City Council.  

The plain truth of the matter is that Mr. Stone is asking the citizens of Pepper Pike to simply do him a favor. There is absolutely nothing in it for the citizens of Pepper Pike to vote to rezone unless they enjoy witnessing a grotesque destruction-construction project resulting in an eyesore for the remainder of time. 

Saying no to rezone is the only sensible response unless our civic leaders are able to provide a compelling reason to dramatically alter this entire section of Pepper Pike such as demonstrating financial distress that tax revenues from such a development could cure. Until then, as a resident of Pepper Pike for a majority of my life since 1959, I can confidently say that so long as we continue to elect competent and conscientious mayors and council members like the ones we have today, there will be no need to rezone any property for multi-use purposes. Pepper Pike is just fine as is and will be for a long time to come. 

Kevin L. String

Pepper Pike

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