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Mahoning County asthma victims can thank EPA for pollution rules

Published: Sun, March 16, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Mahoning County asthma victims can thank EPA for pollution rules

When your car is dirty, you wash it. Too bad it was never that simple for our air.

Roughly half of the United States’ population is exposed to levels of air pollution that fail to meet national air-quality standards. Mahoning County received a C for ozone pollution and a C for particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report last year.

Passenger vehicles are significant contributors to ozone and particle pollution, which can trigger asthma attacks, increase complications for those with lung diseases, contribute to heart attacks, cancer, and can even lead to early death.

Fortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just finalized new standards that will help reduce this pollution. The measures will clean up all gasoline-powered passenger cars, trucks and SUVs by significantly reducing sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds of current levels, the equivalent of taking 33 million cars off the road. These standards also will lower the tailpipe emissions of all new passenger vehicles.

These critical public-health protections will clean up harmful air pollution from motor vehicles and are urgently needed. For the more than 5,000 children in Mahoning County who have asthma, some of whom live by busy roads, the newly proposed standards are a breath of fresh air. On behalf of the American Lung Association, we thank the EPA for keeping our health in mind.

Shelly Kiser, Columbus

Kiser is director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.

City council should decrease number of wards from 7 to 5

Expectations have never been high for Youngstown’s City Council, but they hit a new low recently when the squabbling over redistricting led members to oust council members Mike Ray and Paul Drennen from leadership positions.

As Mayor John McNally came out and said a few weeks ago, the inequality in the ward populations as they are currently drawn are unconstitutional, and there is “no compelling reason” for council to delay redistricting by seeking further proposals.

I’ve read much of the Vindicator’s coverage on this issue, and interviewed the majority of city council to get their views on YSU’s proposed maps.

Aside from ambivalent answers such as “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion,” the only criticism that continually resurfaces is the fact that Councilwoman Annie Gillam’s residence would no longer be part of the First Ward that she represents.

Councilwoman Gillam seems to take this as a personal affront and has suggested that political actors wielded influence over YSU’s redistricting process. The fact is, whether she lives in the First Ward or the Second Ward has very little impact on the residents of Youngstown.

In an ideal world, two council membersw would be displaced. The current maps were drawn from the 1980 census, when the city had a population of 115,427. Each council member was representing approximately 16,490 residents. Since the population has dropped to 65,405, according to the most recent estimates, it would make sense to reduce the number of wards to five.

The unequal ward populations undermine the legitimacy of city council and infringe upon the rights guaranteed to citizens of Youngstown by the U.S. Constitution.

A council that doesn’t recognize this issue as one of paramount importance (or see the potential for a lawsuit against the city as a liability) is either dysfunctional or corrupt. Council’s actions recently seem to suggest this is the case.

Mayor McNally and the residents of Youngstown need to force the issue.

Justin Weir, Youngstown

Why this big fixation on Tressel? Focus on fixing potholes at YSU

In an article about former football coach Jim Tressel not taking a stance on the presidency for Youngstown State University, The Vindicator does not report anything new. The consensus about the vacancy for the presidency once Randy Dunn leaves is that Tressel could be the guy, but he has neither confirmed nor denied it. In fact, Tressel said before was happy with his job at the University of Akron.

Despite U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan giving his support to Tressel, I feel YSU is still skipping over some of the pertinent issues really surrounding the campus.

Potholes have been a huge problem, yet everyone seems so obsessed with getting Tressel here that everything else falls by the wayside. That is not the way you run a university.

What’s even more sad is that state Rep. Bob Hagan is chiming in. Hagan and Ryan are political voices for Ohio and for the Valley, yet they’re more concerned about giving the job to a particular figurehead? Come on. You’ve got to think they have better things to do with their own professions.

I don’t want to seem as if I am ripping on The Vindicator for this story, but it certainly seems somewhat pointless. Tressel is gaining support, support for which he’s not even asking.

My advice to YSU: Instead of focusing on what you want, focus on what’s more realistic and logical. That’s how things get done.

Benjamin Orr, Warren

Tip of the hat to the governor

As chief executive officer of the Mahoning Youngstown Community Action Partnership (MYCAP) that works with low-income people to help them attain self-sufficiency, I want to share my support for Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program in Ohio.

Despite having jobs, many low-income people in Mahoning County and across the state struggle to pay their bills. With the cost of housing, transportation, food and medical care continually rising, people in lower paying jobs need to be able to hold onto the wages they earn. The EITC program does this. Expanding this program will not only help low-income citizens, but will also stimulate the economy.

I would like to commend the governor for proposing to expand this proven-successful program and encourage our legislators, Rep. Ronald Gerberry, Rep. Robert Hagan and Sen. Joe Schiavoni to pass this expansion.

Also, I hope your readers agree and will contact our legislators asking them to support expansion of the EITC program.

R. Renee Walton, Youngstown

School lunches are yucky

I’m writing this by request. A group of students from one of the schools requested me to write about their school lunches. They don’t like them. Since the change to what is so- called healthy, why are they being offered food they don’t like, or want, or don’t eat?

I worked in a school cafeteria for awhile. We served good nourishing, balanced lunches. There was a salad bar everyday along with a special item on it. (Such as baked potato bar or pasta day). Why not give the students what they like? It’s not the food that’s making them obese, it’s the lack of exercise.

When driving, how many children do you see outside playing? When I grew up we were always outside being active at something. Now the children have too many gadgets to keep them indoors.

So schools let’s forget about what Michele Obama thinks our children should have and feed them what they like. Then between the school and parents see that they get more exercise.

Alice Dyce, Austintown


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