Lepore-Hagan lashes out at marijuana editorial; Swastika belongs in museums too; City schools takeover hailed; No plan can save city schools without parental support

State rep claims marijuana editorial distorted her view

In response to The Vindi- cator’s editorial last Tuesday, “Ohio should slam door on proposed marijuana cartel,” I’ve decided to paraphrase the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan: The writer is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Seldom has The Vindicator published an editorial that so blatantly and purposely distorts facts and maliciously mischaracterizes the position of a public official.

To deal with that mischaracterization and inference The Vindicator draws from it, I want to be clear. I have long supported the legalization of marijuana for medical and therapeutic use. The vast majority of Ohioans – 84 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac Poll – agree with me. In 23 states marijuana is approved as a therapy for more than 60 conditions. I believe the people of Ohio should have the opportunity to benefit from these proven-effective treatments.

I also favor legalization for personal use. The seven decade-old experiment in marijuana prohibition clearly has failed. Today, more than 30 million Americans, including 1 million Ohioans, use marijuana every year. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of all Americans have tried marijuana at least once and, between 2009 and 2010 more than 34 percent of people age 18 to 25 had used in the past month. Clearly, prohibition does not work.

Along with being ineffective, prohibition is expensive. Federal, state and local governments spend billions of dollars each year enforcing marijuana possession laws – $120 million is spent in Ohio alone. Yet, despite these expenditures, marijuana is a major component of an illegal black market that sells drugs to kids and fuels the very crime The Vindicator cites in its inaccurate editorial.

The editorial also expresses concern that businesses won’t be able to hire qualified workers if marijuana is legalized. A fact check proves the paper is, once again, totally wrong. According to Business Insider, three of the four states in which marijuana is legal for medicinal and personal use are among those with the fastest growing economies in the U.S. Ohio’s ranking? Twenty-fifth.

Finally, if The Vindicator wants to criticize my position on an issue, it should do so based on facts, not supposition. I have, on the advice of the Legislative Ethics Commission, recused myself from the debate over HJR 4 and have not taken a position on the ResponsibleOhio Amendment. But I am more than willing to discuss why I believe legalization under a tightly regulated and highly taxed regimen is, in concept, the right choice for Ohio.

Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, Youngstown

Democrat Michele Lepore-Hagan is the state representative for Ohio’s 58th District.

Relegate Confederate flag, swastika to the museums

Five thousand years ago, there was in use a symbol comprised of two intersecting lines, each with two right angles. This Sanskrit sign indicated good fortune and well- being. That positive message and symbol appears often through the centuries and was sacred to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism. Only in the 20th century did the swastika become a symbol representing something quite different when adopted by the Nazi party in Germany.

Surely there were idealistic young people who fought for their country under that symbol, just as did brave young men who followed the Confederate battle flag. However, history and time have revealed the swastika and the Confederate flag as representative of institutionalized racism, hatred, and cruelty beyond understanding.

As such they are each symbols beyond redemption and should be forever restricted to display in museums and history texts.

Susan E. Paczak, Youngstown

Schools takeover hailed; move students to suburbs

As a resident of Youngstown, a citizen, and a voter, as well as an alumnus and graduate of the Youngstown city schools, I truly want to applaud and thank Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio General Assembly, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber Chief Executive Officer Tom Hump-hries, YSU President Jim Tressel and Youngstown Catholic Diocese Bishop George Murry for their great effort. They, along with many unsung residents across the city, Valley and state are fighting for the children of Youngstown, who deserve a great education.

I support the state take over of the Youngstown school district, and it’s long overdue after years and decades of damage, harm and manipulation by district officials of the residents and school children for their selfish benefit and gain. And it’s about time that the “power brokers” are standing up and fighting for the youth of Youngstown.

I believe the solution should be for Youngstown schools to be dissolved and its district boundary split up and divided up into the surrounding suburban school districts around Youngstown.

Willie James Richards, Youngstown

No plan can save city schools without support of parents

After reading com- ments about Youngstown schools, I thought about the many new schools that were built in the last few years. Some believed that new buildings would help raise the educational standards.Buildings do not educate; teachers and parents educate.

I will continue to stress the importance of parents’ involvement in the education of their children. Many parents never get involved. It was sad to read the comment one teacher made. She called a parent about her child being absent from class and the parent said she did not know where the child was. It doesn’t matter who is hired to try to correct our educational system, if parents don’t cooperate then it’s a lost cause.

Gov. Kasich’s main purpose is and has been to close the public schools and send students to charter or private schools. Some important community leaders appear to agree with him. It is a known fact that charter schools are failing and closing and are not held to the same academic standards as are public schools. Is this all about money?

The state should implement laws that penalize the parent if a child is habitually missing school or disrupting classes.

I pray that Gov. Kasich will make some positive changes to the new plan’s policies.

Olla L. Tate, Youngstown