Cleveland Plain Dealer. June 12, 2021.

Editorial: Why are the Indians withholding their top name-change options?

The Cleveland Indians recently announced that they’d narrowed down the list of possible new team names to 1,198. What are those names? They’re not saying. What is the timeline to cut back that list? They’re not saying. Will the public get the final 100 names so they can register preferences? The team isn’t saying.

In fact, this process seems to have gotten as opaque as it can be. Granted, as sports reporter Joe Noga noted in a recent analysis, a lot is riding on this name change -- from the money entailed in changing everything about the team’s branding to fan loyalty to positive momentum for the future.

But, still, fans want a voice. Why can’t they have one?

The Cleveland public and the Indians fan base keep offering ideas. And some who are wedded to keeping the Indians name have started speculating (or hoping) that this long, drawn-out, name-change odyssey will end in keeping the name or some variation thereof.

Couldn’t the Indians push the process of change -- and of public opinion -- through more transparency? Instead of 1,198 mystery names, what about 100 current “best-of” names, put out for public review and comment? Why be secret?

In today’s hypercompetitive branding world, it’s true that speculators have already rushed to apply for the trademarks for popular options, including the Cleveland Spiders and Cleveland Baseball Team. Publishing a list of finalist names could tip the team’s hand and prove costly.

But it could also be argued that most of the top prospects are out there, anyway, at least in speculation land, while giving fans a say will help them feel invested in leaving behind a team name that feels like a family member they’ve grown up with.

Our Editorial Board Roundtable offers its thoughts: More transparency, or stick with the Indians mystery naming process?

Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:

Very likely this was lawyered to block pre-emptive use by third parties of the baseball team’s potential trademarks, service marks or copyrights. Sports-related or -themed merchandise is a huge business, and the team surely wants to protect its potential profits -- for the team’s owners, not for outside interests.

Ted Diadiun, columnist:

I find this entire process too depressing to devote much time to it. Almost 1,200 options? Are you kidding me? Building the decision around the ideas of artists, musicians and chefs? With all due respect, are you kidding me? I don’t care how many suggestions they come up with, my vote for the name is the same: How about “Indians?”

Victor Ruiz, editorial board member:

The team and ownership seem sincere and committed to do what is right, so I have no doubts that the name change will occur. This is a case where we must trust the process, and trust that they will keep their promise to change the name.

Lisa Garvin, editorial board member:

A list of 1,200 names means they are casting about wildly for a new team identity without the necessary vision or courage. In their quixotic quest to be all-inclusive, the Indians will end up pleasing no one while erasing a 120-year-old legacy. Might as well change the name to the Cleveland Milquetoasts and be done with it.

Mary Cay Doherty, editorial board member:

The Indians gave a small but vocal group outsized influence in the decision to jettison the current name. Now, at the very least, the team’s revenue-generating fans deserve a say in selecting the new name. Whittle the list internally, then let fans weigh in on top-tier choices. As a leadoff hitter, transparency just might score this process’s go-ahead run.

Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director:

The Indians have to show their cards sometime. Do they really want to wait until they’ve made an internal decision, then spring that name on fans whose views have been pointedly excluded from the process -- loyal Cleveland baseball fans made to feel irrelevant and disrespected? No. A lot more transparency is needed in this process.


Akron Beacon Journal. June 13, 2021.

Editorial: Reasonable solution is available for fixing school funding. Is Ohio ready?

Ohio lawmakers are currently split between a reasonable solution to funding Ohio schools and a partisan one.

Whether Ohio can yet meet the constitutional test of providing a “thorough and efficient” system of education again looks unsure — after 24 years.

As the June 30 deadline approaches for passing Ohio’s two-year state budget, key differences remain between how the House and Senate would fund K-12 education. Supporters of public schools again may feel disappointment; the threat of ever-higher local property taxes may remain as the state fails to lift the burden.

The House budget includes a $2 billion plan that rewrites the school funding formula based on sound policy. The Senate plan offers a one-size-fits all per-student base cost and beefs up funding for school vouchers.

In 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court found fault with the state’s formula for funding public schools. Since then, lawmakers have failed to comply with multiple court rulings ordering systemic changes to ensure adequacy and equity in funding.

Hopes were high last year that this failing would be resolved. In December, a bipartisan majority of the House approved a new funding formula drawn after years of study by state Reps. Robert Cupp, a Lima Republican, and John Patterson, a Jefferson Democrat. Cupp is now speaker of the House.

The Senate killed off this opportunity to solve funding woes and wrapped it into the current budgeting process.

Senate President Matt Huffman recently said he wants to solve the funding problem. We hope that’s true, but the House and Senate look far apart.

The Senate offers a statewide base cost of $6,110 per pupil, while the House created a localized formula ranging from $7,000 to $8,000.

The House and the Senate differ in their approaches to school vouchers, as well. The Senate plan generously increases spending on school vouchers. EdChoice scholarship amounts would rise to $5,500 for K-8 and $7,500 for high school students.

Redirecting dollars from public schools to private schools, while popular with Ohio Republican leaders, continues to be a disturbing use of public funds. In a Cincinnati Enquirer analysis of test scores, private school students mostly do worse than those in neighboring public districts.

As legislators hammer out the state budget, fairness for Ohio students should be a priority.

We agree with Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, that a single statewide base cost doesn’t take into account the diversity of districts across Ohio. The House’s calculation for state and local shares, as opposed to the Senate formula, was derived after speaking with affected districts.

The Senate has been dismissive of the process, however, likening it to “asking the car salesman how much he thinks you should pay,” in Huffman’s words.

Lawmakers have two weeks to resolve their differences and solve one of Ohio’s most difficult problems.

Rep. Patterson left the House because of term limits with this important work unfulfilled. Let’s hope senators will meet representatives part way and pass a bill that satisfies taxpayers and school communities around the state.


Columbus Dispatch. June 13, 2021.

Editorial: Lawmakers on verge of throwing Ohio’s children out with the bathwater in bad child-care proposal

Whether we will pay now or pay more later is being debated in our Statehouse.

An amendment to the Senate version of Ohio’s two-year budget pushed by Senate President Matt Huffman would remove the Step Up To Quality star mandate for the child-care facilities we pay.

The Step Up To Quality star system passed in 2012 became mandatory in 2020 for any facility that accepts kids in the Publicly Funded Child Care program, which is an income-based assistance program available through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Approved last week by the Senate, the budget is now back to the House. A final budget deal must be reached by June 30

Under Huffman’s plan, providers still would be paid extra for earning stars, but those without stars could accept kids whose care is paid for by the state.

Huffman has a point that the program is expensive and, on its face, burdensome when it does not have to be.

The alternative for the sort of intervention Step Up To Quality provides is much worse.

A May report by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center says that quality care and education for children early in childhood can make a lifelong difference.

“Benefits of early child-care interventions are often long-lasting and include higher academic achievement, better employment options, and many other secondary effects such as better health outcomes and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system,” the report says. “Early care and education programs have been proven to be effective in increasing participants’ levels of education on average, which in turn result in higher wages, increased labor force participation, and reductions to the unemployment rate.”

Ohio has a clear problem when it comes to educating our young.

Only 40% of kindergartners in Ohio come to the classroom ready to learn, according to the Ohio Association of Child Care Providers.

In Franklin County, just 28% of economically disadvantaged children passed their kindergarten readiness tests in 2018, according to the Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report.

Those same exams were passed by 60% of kids from higher-income homes.

Researchers who conducted a 2017 study by Compass Evaluation and Research were encouraged by outcome progress they observed with Step Up To Quality. A 2020 study by Measurement Resources Company found that on average, kids who participate in Step Up To Quality-rated programs score higher on the overall and all Kindergarten Readiness Assessments subscales test than peers who participate in nonrated programs.

Children in programs with 3 to 5 stars score higher on kindergarten readiness and third-grade English Language Arts tests than peers in programs with 1 to 2 stars.

“It is clear that the Step Up To Quality program is working in Ohio but removing required participation will only hurt Ohio’s children – particularly for Ohio’s low-income, minority, at-risk and Appalachian children,” Mary Ann Rody, Ohio Association of Child Care Providers executive director, said as part of a statement. “High quality means children are better prepared for kindergarten, more likely to meet the third-grade reading guarantee and more likely to graduate from high school. In fact, every $1 invested in high quality care today results in $13 saved tomorrow.”

Saying it can be skewed, Huffman, an attorney with grandchild who use child-care, remains unconvinced by research about the program’s effectiveness or the long-term impact of pre-K learning despite research indicating all children benefit from it, but it is particularly valuable to poor kid.

He’s called Step Up To Quality a “regulatory scheme” that has reduced options for low-income parents by driving good child-care providers out of business.

That argument is not entirely off base.

At a time when there is a critically low shortage of child-care workers and demand for help is high, some mom-and-pop and religious child-care providers say the expense, hoops and paperwork for participating in Step Up To Quality is not worth the payout.

Yet many child advocates and child-care providers sing the program’s praises.

To receive money from the state, providers must do a list of things that include teaching curriculum that supports development and learning, administering assessments and using individual learning plans.

There are different requirements to reach the various star levels.

Facilities with four to five stars for example must have center administrators, owners, and 50% of teachers with associate’s degrees or higher, or Career Pathway Level credentials.

If the Senate version of the budget is approved, $20 million would be added to child-care assistance, but the annual income limits for state-assisted child care would be about $31,000 a year.

Huffman is right that Step Up To Quality will be very expensive by 2025, the year child-care providers must earn at least three stars to qualify. Providers have had to have at least one star since September. The higher their rating, the more money they receive.

The Lima senator’s staff estimated the cost of the Publicly Funded Child Care program will increase by 80% from 2021 to 2025.

If the federal government doesn’t chip in more money (it very well may), Ohio will be on the hook for $641.8 million on top of $250 million already spent annually on the program.

Left untouched, Step Up To Quality will be a $1 billion “budget buster’ in just a few years, Huffman says.

That’s a lot of money, but it’s nowhere near the cost of not providing quality education for Ohio’s children.

All Ohio children deserve quality education.

If the issue is paperwork, reduce the red tape.

If the issues are the expense of training and attracting qualified instructors, work with mom-and-pop operators to make them more-attractive employers.

If it is money, advocate for solutions from the community and push for funding from the federal government. We find ways to fund many things in this state. Our childs’ education should be one of them.

Lawmakers must step up and help them, and help all of our kids go to school ready to learn and be prepared to thrive in the future.

Tossing this baby out with the bathwater would amount to throwing our babies out of future opportunities to thrive.


Youngstown Vindicator. June 11, 2021.

Editorial: An apology from Hudson is warranted

Last week, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter was speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson when he began to talk about how freed black slaves had honored fallen soldiers soon after the Civil War. In the midst of recounting the facts about one of the precursors to what we first called Decoration Day and now call Memorial Day, organizers of the event cut Kemter’s audio.

Kemter, who is white — though it should be unnecessary to note it — was disappointed he was censored, and rightly so. Organizers claimed the part of the speech they shut down was not relevant to the city’s theme of honoring its veterans.

It’s not a good look for Cindy Suchan, chair of the Memorial Day parade committee and president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, or Jim Garrison, adjutant of American Legion Post 464.

Investigators are trying to find out exactly who turned off the microphone, but the fact remains:

Someone with some authority felt the truth about who made up one of the first groups to honor those who fell in service to ALL Americans was not relevant. Someone thought thinking too hard about the complicated origins of a holiday meant to honor those who sacrificed everything fighting for freedom in a country where we’re still having a hard time with that bit about ALL men being created equal would put a damper on the red, white and blue barbecue they had planned afterward, perhaps.

“The American Legion deplores racism and reveres the Constitution,” the group’s national commander, James W. Oxford, said. “We salute LTC Kemter’s service and his moving remarks about the history of Memorial Day and the important role played by black Americans in honoring our fallen heroes. We regret any actions taken that detracts from this important message.”

Good for the folks at the national level for taking a stand.

Now it’s time for those in Hudson, who would rather turn off a microphone than hear the truth, to issue an apology to Kemter and to their community.

The fallen they claimed they were honoring on that day deserve better.


Willoughby News-Herald. June 12, 2021.

Editorial: Lifeline applauded for helping low-income individuals with tax returns

Starting in early 2020 and going forward, the novel coronavirus pandemic brought changes to the lives of many Americans.

But one mandate that didn’t get wiped out by COVID-19 is the requirement to pay income taxes.

Some people find it easy to prepare their own tax returns. For others, it’s a complicated task that requires outside help.

However, accountants and tax-preparation specialists can be expensive, to the point of being unaffordable for low-income families and individuals. That’s why it’s nice to have the Lifeline Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in our region. Lifeline VITA provides its services, free of charge, to Lake and Geauga County residents in need every year.

Lifeline Inc., which is based in Lake County, recently concluded its 2021 tax season with its best results ever, according to the agency’s administration.

Final statistics for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program for the 2021 tax season show that 265 residents had their taxes prepared at a Lifeline VITA tax clinic and that 52 of them received the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Total returns generated at Lifeline’s VITA clinics were $277,089, over $90,000 more than the 2020 tax season, officials confirmed.

“We’re really excited about the number of people that we served with free tax preparation services this season — the most we’ve ever assisted in a single season, and at a time when we know so many families have struggled financially due to COVID-19,” said Lifeline Executive Director Carrie Dotson.

Lifeline had anticipated a higher number of clients at VITA clinics because so many AARP tax-help sites either were closed or limited by social-distancing guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We knew we would need to fill the gap, and we have to thank our partners at United Way of Lake County,” Dotson said. “They provided emergency funding for our VITA Program so that we could meet that increased demand this season.”

Jennifer McCarty, CEO of UWLC, said the nonprofit was thrilled to be able to support Lifeline’s program.

“We know how important this service is for so many people in our community, especially our residents of modest income,” she said. “Free tax preparation by trained volunteers alleviates stress for so many people, especially given the added stressors associated with the recent global pandemic.”

Lifeline uses volunteers trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service through its VITA Program. According to the agency, throughout the 2021 tax season, volunteers donated 463 hours to the program.

“It is always rewarding to help taxpayers take advantage of several different tax credits, such as, the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax and Additional Child Tax Credits and the Recovery Rebate Credit, and to get these funds into local households and ultimately our communities,” said Lifeline Program Coordinator Tiffany Menosky. “The season was not without its challenges, as we experienced a late start, and saw tax law change in the middle of the season, in addition to an extension to the end of season.”

Menosky praised Lifeline VITA volunteers for their dedication.

“They were amazing this year and were willing to meet our clients face-to-face in a very challenging time,” she said. “I cannot thank our volunteers enough for their support and enthusiasm.”

Lifeline has hosted VITA Tax clinics since 2010 and in that time has prepared filings for 1,808 residents. Over the last 12 years, volunteers have given 4,715 hours, and $2,272,357 in returns has been generated for residents of Lake and Geauga counties.

“Besides being able to provide this assistance to families and individuals struggling financially due to COVID-19, this year was also a significant one for our VITA program because it was the year we surpassed $2 million in returns generated,” Dotson said. “For a program that is completely volunteer-driven, that is an amazing amount of money brought back into our community.”

The News-Herald believes that the Lifeline VITA program plays a pivotal role in making sure that low-income families and individuals receive the assistance and advice that they need each year during tax season. Thanks to Lifeline VITA, these people are able to fulfill their tax-filing obligations and secure the refunds for which they are eligible.

Clearly, Lifeline VITA is a tremendous community asset.