More Letters to the Editors
Support Oberlin's Public Schools
To the Editors:
As an Oberlin City School Board member, I encourage you to vote yes for Issues 21 and 22, both of which will help to sustain the progress that the schools have been making. Issue 21 is a replacement plus a little more in order to support our current use of technology in the schools. As students of the computer age, you all know what a huge part technology plays in your lives and it has never been more crucial in the classroom than it is today. (Incidentally, this is NOT the One-to-One Laptop initiative floated on the ballot last spring but a renewal of funds earmarked for current tech uses.)
Issue 22 is a three-quarter of one percent increase in income tax. The income tax increase is an attempt to generate funds for operating expenses while equalizing the tax structure in the City of Oberlin that has been determined to be regressive (the poorer households paying a higher percentage of income to taxes than the higher income households). It will be coupled with a REDUCTION of the property tax collected from existing 8 million and 5 million property tax general operating levies. When this income tax increase passes, the school board has pledged NOT to renew the two existing property tax levies that are due for renewal in 2008.
As college students who already do so much for the Oberlin Public Schools by tutoring, volunteering in the classroom, mentoring and participating in community service days, voting for these issues is yet another way to support the children of your community. In fact, unlike property taxes, you will have a chance to give directly to the schools by contributing a small part of your wages. Supporting your local public schools is the single most important way to invest in your community. Strong public schools in Oberlin translate to many benefits for the Oberlin College Community. Please support us by voting yes on Issues 21 and 22 on Nov 6.
Associate Director of Conservatory Admissions
Oberlin School Board Member
Move Beyond Coal Power Now
To the Editors:
I am writing in response to concerns about college resistance to the coal power plant proposal, and would like to address some of the issues that have been raised.
Many people have expressed concern that if Oberlin decides against buying shares of the proposed coal power plant in Meigs County, the town will be in a tough position energy-wise, and could end up buying more expensive coal on the open market. It is important to stress, however, that Oberlin can choose to stay with its existing energy contract for up to five years, giving the town plenty of time to investigate alternative energy options and choose a more sustainable, and economically viable source of energy. On the other hand, if Oberlin decides to support the Meigs County plant, I am concerned that the forty-year contract will lull Oberlin into a false sense of energy “security,” and will slow or halt any alternative energy investigations.
A second concern has been raised about the economic costs to the town, and there are hard feelings over perceived unfair and unhelpful pressure from the college. At the city council meeting, however, Oberlin College President Martin Krislov offered to help finance the alternative energy studies taking place before the March deadline to withdraw support from the Meigs County plant. As a member of the wind energy chapter of OPIRG, I can also say that we will be encouraging the college to take an active financial role in the efforts to make Oberlin a forerunner in the quest to take advantage of the 66,000 MW of potential wind energy in Ohio.
Third, and most troubling, is the concern that many residents of Oberlin live below the poverty line, and alternative energy sources could, in the beginning, result in higher energy bills. This is a grave issue, yet there are solutions. As a Kendal resident suggested to me, a graduated system based on income could be implemented, so that low-income residents would not be subject to additional economic stress.
Furthermore, while a strategy needs to be developed to deal with initial higher costs, many alternative energy options are more economically viable in the long-run. The costs of the proposed AMP plant have increased significantly from their initial estimates, and if Oberlin enters into a forty-year contract, I would argue that it is more than likely they will continue to increase. Right now, Ohio imports most of its energy, but a commitment to wind energy would open up local jobs. Environment Ohio estimates that if even 20 percent of Ohio’s wind potential energy was harnessed by 2020, 40,000 “person-years of employment,” $3.7 billion in wages, and $8.2 billion in gross state product would be gained. And environmentally, 170 million metric tons of CO2 would be avoided.
Several people have expressed the viewpoint that, yes, there are problems with coal, but it is our best option at this time, because of the many issues that would arise if Oberlin were to pursue alternative energy options. I would like to suggest that the reverse viewpoint is more accurate. Yes, there are issues that arise when any town re-evaluates and attempts to change an existing system, yet these are issues that can be, and should be addressed in the process of change. In this time of increased environmental urgency, complacency is never the best option. Oberlin must change its energy plans and withdraw support from the 7.3 tons of carbon dioxide that the Meigs County plant would release each year.
Thanks to Quilt Volunteers
To the Editors:
Thank you to all the below volunteers for putting time and effort into staffing the AIDS Quilt in Wilder Main from October 1st-October 6th! Without their help we could not have displayed the quilt. Nearly 200 visitors came to view this exhibition, one of the largest on-going community art projects in the world. HIV/AIDS continues to be a huge issue in the US and around the world. Worldwide, 40,000,000 people are HIV-infected and 90% of them do not know they are HIV positive. 14,000 people become newly infected every single day. By volunteering, you have helped bring awareness to the issue and have helped to fight against the spread and transmission of the virus. Volunteers are key to the events we host every year. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on future events we’ll be planning. If there’s an event you hear about that you’d like to volunteer for, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the following volunteers for making this amazing event happen:
Center for Leadership in Health Promotion
Appreciating Old B
To the Editors:
I am writing to express my appreciation for Old Barrows and the community experience it provides to its co-opers, OSCA and the Oberlin College campus. As a resident, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of a house that, because of its smaller scale, provides an intimate residential experience while at the same time being integrated with the larger dining co-op it facilitates. Not only is Old Barrows (or Old B, as it is affectionately referred to) a thriving co-op and an asset to the College at large, but it is also vital to the range of experiences that OSCA provides. No other co-op fosters quite the same atmosphere or sense of community.
I am concerned, however, because I’ve heard that the college and OSCA may be discussing the possibilities of what would happen if Old B closed in the next few years. I hope that OSCA and the Oberlin College community recognize that Old B is essential to this campus and that the rumor of its possible termination never comes to fruition.
Absentee Voting Still Possible
To the Editors:
Okay, if you’re reading this, it’s Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday or Monday, or even Tuesday.
Welcome back from fall break. Nice inauguration, huh? Did you remember to file for an absentee ballot? (No? Read on.) Good — did it arrive while you were on Fall Break? (No? Read on.) Have you already read up on the candidates and issues, and sent it back? Great! Thank you.
Oh, you didn’t? Didn’t ask for one? Didn’t get it? Well, you remember getting it, but you don’t know where it is? YIKES! It’s the weekend already...or it’s Monday.... Rest easy. No problem. It will take a BIT of time, but you can, and should, still vote.
If you are registered to vote and didn’t request an absentee ballot, gather up your ID and go to your polling place on Tuesday between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Depending on your ID, etc., you’ll vote a regular or a provisional ballot.
If you requested an absentee ballot and it is still in your hands, you have two choices. You can take it up yourself to the Board of Elections (no one else can do this for you, you must take it yourself) before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, or you can go to your polling place Tuesday and vote a provisional ballot.
If you requested an absentee ballot and didn’t get it, or don’t THINK you got it, or remember getting it but not sending it back, or remember losing it, you also have two choices. You can take yourself and your ID up to the Board of Elections (1985 North Ridge Road, East, in Lorain), before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and fill out some paperwork, and vote a provisional ballot; or you can take yourself and your ID to your polling place between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and fill out some paperwork, and vote a provisional ballot.
Don’t be surprised or get miffed or testy if you’re asked to fill out paperwork for a provisional ballot — you asked for an absentee ballot, remember? The pollworkers’ paperwork reflects that; they need to make sure you don’t get to vote twice. So they’ll let you vote, provisionally, and if they go back and find they already received an absentee ballot from you, it’ll be the first ballot received that’ll count.
Do NOT, repeat, DO NOT, try to take your paper absentee ballot to your polling place on Tuesday. They won’t accept it; they can’t do anything with it. It has to be at the Board of Elections by 4:30, remember? And they’re all stuck right where they are till 7:30 at least, remember?
Now, if you’ve educated yourself on the candidates and the issues, GET OUT THERE AND VOTE, OKAY? Vote like it makes a difference -- because it does.
-David R. Ashenhurst
Oberlin City Councilmember
Citizens and Councilmembers Make a Difference
To the Editors:
Oberlin is what we make it! We as a community have before us the opportunity and the responsibility to remold our city, to improve our pattern of community development and to provide for the needs of all segments of our population. Oberlin cannot neglect the aspirations of its citizens, the welfare of our needy, the health and transportation needs of our elderly and the young or the educational and recreational needs of our youth.
An equal challenge is the recent urban growth within Lorain County as noted by developments in the nearby cities of North Ridgeville, Avon and Avon Lake. Most of this increase will occur in the southern part of the county and the adjoining land around Oberlin within the next ten to fifteen years. We must begin now to lay the foundations for a livable, efficient and attractive community of the future, while at the same time ensuring that our existing environment and character is maintained. This will not be an easy task ,and citizen involvement is essential if we are to achieve these goals.
To lay these foundations, we must first correct existing problems so that we will have a strong base with which to work. Beyond residential growth, economic development and our municipal budget, the main challenges confronting Oberlin in the next few years are (1) making necessary improvements to our Water, Electric, Storm and Sanitary Utility along with the reconstruction of our Fire Station Complex; (2) completion of a bike path Park-and-Ride and restoration of the Gasholder into an Underground Railroad Interpretive Center and (3) dealing with planning and zoning issues such as encouraging adequate parking and minimizing (large truck) traffic flow congestion in the Downtown/Route 58 corridor area to ensure that Oberlin’s residential, commercial and its historic charm is maintained. Only after we have resolved these problems can we honestly look at controlled future growth.
As in the past, there are no simple solutions. As a councilman I will want to evaluate each proposal on its own merits with an open mind as to how they will affect the entire community. I will devote my full energies into making this a better community in which to live, and I am deeply grateful for this chance to visit with you and express my opinion on these vital issues. Your support on November 6th, Election Day, will be greatly appreciated.
Oberlin City Councilmember
Know Your Candidates’ Histories
To the Editors:
In the current City Council election campaign, one candidate seems to have a particular interest in the Oberlin College student vote. It is appropriate in turn that student voters take an interest in him.
Tony Mealy, an ex-prison guard, is an incumbent city councilman seeking a second term. He won his first term with the lowest vote count of only seven candidates running for seven open seats. His fellow citizens seem to know him well.
Both Mr. Mealy’s legislative and his private energies have been devoted primarily to obstructing new developments and innovations by recent Oberlin College graduates. Rather than encourage these young entrepreneurs he has consistently vilified them.
He has angrily opposed the downtown East College Street Development, a mixed-use environmentally green urban renewal project. He has also opposed the purchase of locally available biofuels by the City of Oberlin.
Outside City Council chambers he has followed project participants and harassed a business partner at night on her unlisted cell phone. Most recently his fellow council members have publicly censured him for inappropriate behavior.
Who Tony Mealy is and what he stands for cannot be divined from his campaign literature. He is a living example of why all voters need to carefully scrutinize the positions and behaviors of all political candidates.
More Support for Oberlin Schools
To the Editors:
The 2004 Bush-Kerry elections were not that long ago; I still remember the mounting energy and momentum as the elections approached, how students mobilized to get out the vote, and how Oberlin residents waited in line 5+ hours in order to exercise their democratic freedom and vote for the candidate of their choice. As the final votes were being calculated and the entire nation turned to Ohio to find out which way it would swing, it became quite obvious how the work of committed individuals and dedicated voters did, indeed, have the power to enact lasting changes and affect election outcomes.
Now, three years later, it is once again election time. This Tuesday, Nov. 6th, Oberlin College students have the exciting opportunity to vote on two tax levies, which will improve the quality of the public schools.
Issue 21 is a five-year replacement technology levy for an expiring levy. Voting YES on Issue 21 will allocate adequate funding to technology spending in Oberlin Schools.
Issue 22 is a five-year income tax levy that seeks to replace two property taxes. Voting YES on Issue 22 will spread the tax burden more broadly; voting YES will ensure that more affluent Oberlin residents will pay roughly the same percentage of their incomes as those in lower income categories. The financial stability afforded by this levy will guarantee an equitable funding for Oberlin’s public schools.
There are three main reasons that we, as Oberlin College students, should vote YES on 21 and 22:
1. Education. By attending a college of such high caliber, we have already made a commitment to our own education. We know the value of small class sizes; engaging extra-curricular activities; up-to-date technology and access to art, music, and athletics programs. By voting YES on 21 and 22, we would have the chance to share our Oberlin College experience with Oberlin public school children.
2. Town/Gown. While there are already at least six college-school partnership programs, which bring approximately 200 Oberlin College students into the public schools each semester, there are other ways to support the Oberlin school district. By voting YES on 21 and 22, the College would be able to signal its support for the sustainable development of a healthy school district.
3. Think Globally, Act Locally. While we came to this college to spend our formative young adult years learning how one person can change the world, I challenge you to think about how you can change Oberlin, Lorain County, OH. Despite where we all grew up, many of us have experienced our first elections right here. As global citizens, we have a responsibility to act locally and support this levy.
Election Day is next Tuesday, Nov. 6th. Despite the fact that this election is not nearly as large-scale as the 2004 Bush-Kerry election, I can assure you that the results of this election have a much more tangible effect on the residents of this town. I urge all Oberlin College students to support Issues 21 and 22 and to sustain the progress of the public schools.