Sunday, December 26, 2010

Editorial: Calisolar deal would be a shot in the arm

North central Ohio residents should feel encouraged that Calisolar is considering adding several hundred jobs back into the old General Motors plant.

The company has stopped short of saying it has made a final decision to come to Ontario, but all indications are that the solar industry company has a strong interest in the vacant Ontario plant and is negotiating with local, state and federal officials to make it happen.

With public decisions still pending at the state and federal level on major pieces of proposed incentive programs, a final decision may not come before spring or even summer.

It is heartening now, however, to recognize that a great deal of collaboration has taken place to put Ontario at the top of Calisolar’s list of potential sites. This teamwork, which has not been disrupted by party politics, has stretched from officials in Ontario up to the office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The administration of Gov. Ted Strickland has played a major role in the negotiations. The hand-off to newly-elected Gov. John Kasich is expected to be seamless.

If the deal is ultimately finalized, production at the plant may not begin until sometime in 2012.
Local residents should certainly feel optimistic about the future economic boost Calisolar could bring, but the potential reopening of the GM plant should not be viewed as the silver bullet that will solve all of our problems.

Mansfield, Ontario and Richland County governmental units all are facing difficult financial issues that can’t wait a year or two to be addressed. Tough decisions must be made now.

We certainly have our issues, but we also have some strengths that attracted outside investors to our community – a workable plant, a capable workforce, a tailored educational system and a community desire to get better.

The Calisolar deal is clearly not finalized.

A fair number of decisions have to be made yet and things can change. But local residents should enter the new year recognizing that others value what we have to offer and are considering joining us in our community.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Editorial: Children Services, county officials must mend their fences

For a group of people focused on repairing families, it baffles us that there is so much disfuntionality between Richland County commissioners, the county prosecutors office, the sheriff’s department and Richland County Children Services.

Last week, after Children Services Director Randy Parker learned that Prosecutor James Mayer wanted changes on Parker’s board, Parker went through the roof.

With his attorney, Parker demanded that Mayer stop meddling with children services.

The tantrum played out in front of county commissioners, and for a time seemed closed to coming to blows.

Mayer’s argument with children services is that there is a lack of law enforcement expertise on the board, and it appears that may be the reason the prosecutor’s office has seen a drop in child abuse and sex abuse cases.

Parker disagrees and said Mayer doesn’t know how to count. He said the system is working.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s department detective assigned to investigate crimes against juveniles has started working out of the trunk of his car because he claims there is too much discord in the children services office.

A letter by board member Nancy Joyce appears to add weight to that claim. In the letter Joyce reprimands Detective Jeff Shook for a blow-up he had with Parker in front of Parker’s staff at children’s services.

When Assistant Prosecutor Bambi Couch Page tried to read the letter aloud, Parker repeatedly interrupted and ultimately walked out of the meeting.

To Parker’s argument, it certainly would be difficult to run a department knowing the county prosecutor is trying to dismantle a board he has worked hard to develop.

We still don’t understand why Mayer blindsided Parker by taking his complaints to commissioners instead of addressing his issues with Parker first.

Some progress, however, has been made. It appears Mayer may get some of his people on the board without sacrificing Parker’s wishes. Whether they can work together remains to be seen.

This apparent power struggle must stop.

We urge all parties involved to drop their egos and remember that they are directly involved with the families of Richland County.

If the quality of life in Richland County is measured by the strength of our families, then this group — more than any other — can have a profound influence.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Editorial: Kasich rejects feds’ expensive 'gift'

We applaud Gov.-elect John Kasich for standing up for Ohio taxpayers and telling President Obama to take his $400 million and shove it.

Kasich has openly and vocally opposed the 3-C corridor project that one day may have provided passenger rail service between Cincinnati and Cleveland.

It’s not the idea that’s bad. It’s the bang for the buck that has Kasich and others so opposed to the plan. It’s also a federal project disguised as a gift that has huge tax implications for Ohio taxpayers.

So far there has been no way to determine what the passenger rail service would cost the state.

For sure it will cost a lot more than $400 million.

However, there’s still a slim chance that the money could be used to improve Ohio’s freight lines — an idea that would actually improve the state economy.

“I wouldn’t expect it,” Kasich said Thursday. “I made it clear to (the Obama administration) that I want to use the money for freight rail. ... If you’re for flexibility, give us the money and let us solve our problems.”

This is the kind of leadership we need in Columbus. Kasich already has shown that he is willing to work with the feds as long as Ohio benefits.

“So are we going to get it? I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m not real optimistic that we are going to get a lot of flexibility on anything. I hope I’m wrong.”

On a positive note, we also applaud Obama for reaching out to the newly elected governors recently.

It showed a willingness to work with the states and get some real buy-in as we all look for ways to move this country forward again.