Compassion, common sense can fix Trump budget plan

Compassion, common sense can fix Trump budget plan

President Donald J. Trump’s proposed budget calls for large cuts in numerous programs and agencies and a 10 percent increase in military spending.

I disagree with so many things in this budget I’ll have to mention only a few. The president’s budget director said that there was little evidence that many of these programs worked. My mother fell at home and the Meals on Wheels person found her; as far as I’m concerned this program worked for her.

When I was a boy, I rode the bus downtown and some days I couldn’t see the buildings because of the smog. The Mahoning River was also lifeless. I’m sure the EPA helped improve both air and water quality.

Foreign aid and the State Department can be used to promote peace in the world. Increasing military spending can only prepare for war.

The president says he wants to “drain the swamp.” I agree that we can and should cut waste. I also agree that some federal regulations are stupid. However, the real elephant in the room is the Pentagon. How can one “drain the swamp” and at the same time give billions more to the Pentagon, which is arguably the world’s largest bureaucracy.

This budget doesn’t lower the deficit. It will cause hardship to many people, many of whom voted for Trump. We are at a crossroads; we need to honestly ask ourselves what is the right thing to do. Will we prepare for war or peace? Will we cut costs sensibly or just arbitrarily? Will we bring harmony, compassion, and common sense to our decisions?

This choice belongs to all of us. If we proceed with common sense and compassion. we can make things better in the future.

Edward Alleman, New Castle, Pa.

Has Youngstown unfairly manipulated water rates?

It is difficult to look at the progress that has been made in downtown Youngstown over the past 25 years and not be in favor of public programs that have helped out. On the other hand, the way the manipulations of water rates have been used seems to have risen to the level of abuse.

In the most recent instance of the Flats on Wick project, the whole deal appears to have been a scam to launder a transfer of $1,000,000 from the water department enterprise to the general fund with a $200,000 “fee” being left behind for the intermediary. It partly hinges on whether or not the old fire station was actually worth $1 million. After getting away with so many schemes in the past, the city has just gotten bolder and bolder.

The last forgotten scheme was when the city raised the trash-collection fee but then enacted a compensating reduction in water rates for city customers only. They did this to get money for the city fund to demolish houses that could not be taken directly from the water department.

Maybe the rest of the metropolitan area does need to help fund some of the things the city is doing. However the convoluted methods the city uses undermines the relationships between the city and the suburbs. It may be time for the Ohio Legislature to subject the water rate setting mechanism to review by some outside authority like the Public Utilities Commission. We at least try to have some regulation of other utility monopolies, and the city has shown itself to be no less greedy when it has a monopoly than any private corporation. They have tried in the past to avoid competition with Aqua of Ohio by agreeing to divide up potential areas of expansion. If two private companies tried to do that, it could be a violation of anti-trust laws.

Jim Zupanic, Girard

Schools should give kids time and opportunities to pursue their passions

We all recognize the importance of educating our youth. In public education the desire is to give all students an education, which will prepare them for their future in society. Naturally we would like to optimize each student’s educational experience.

There are many obstacles to a good education. Every student is different, and the situations of their lives vary greatly. By trying to create a mold by establishing standards, benchmarks, quotas, and rigorous duty, we limit potential and efficient use of time.

The majority of students can satisfy the testing requirements of the state for a high school diploma in the first nine to 10 years of their publicly funded education. Why not let them earn that diploma in that time frame? This would allow them two to three years of free schooling to study the course work, which interests them the most.

The most efficient educational experience comes when the student is passionate about the subject matter. Even if the student takes 11 years to earn his or her diploma, they would still have a year to learn a trade. With the high cost of higher education, it only makes sense to get the most out of the system. Why not give the students that power?

Robert G. Moosman, Youngstown

Bid Chief Wahoo goodbye

A recent letter to the editor offered a reasoned argument against calls for the Cleveland Indians to retire the Chief Wahoo logo. My viewpoint is different.

I’ve had a lifelong love of the Indians ever since my father introduced me to them as we sat together on the floor listening to our console radio in 1952 when I was 5. This love, which included Rocky Colavito, Sam McDowell and all the heroes of the past challenging the Yankees, was never tarnished by any negative thoughts of Chief Wahoo.

However, I am ready to accept retirement of the “Chief.” While I believe that there was and is no intent to insult Native Americans, this is not about what fans believe. It is about how Chief Wahoo is perceived by the Americans he represents.

I will love the Cleveland Indians just as much without the logo. I accede to the feelings of Native Americans, and I will be proud of the team when it stands with them and bids Chief Wahoo a fond farewell.

Richard Fogo, Youngstown

Aid for gambling problems greatly expands in Ohio

March is Ohio Prob- lem Gambling Awareness Month. With Ohioans now able to gamble in more ways than ever, keeping gambling in perspective is essential.

To help educate the public about problem gambling and raise awareness of the treatment options available to those with a gambling problem, the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Lottery and the Ohio State Racing Commission joined forces to create Ohio for Responsible Gambling. By leveraging our combined resources, ORG has worked to promote awareness of safe gambling and access to treatment.

Training sessions about problem gambling and addiction have taken place across Ohio for mental health professionals, chemical dependency clinicians and counselors. As a result, there are now 83 locations in Ohio where individuals can receive free treatment for gambling disorders. In addition, ORG helped create “Be the 95 percent” – an award-winning, statewide campaign designed to help encourage healthy behaviors when gambling. Information on recognizing the warning signs of problem gambling, tips on how to gamble responsibly and how to get help for loved ones can be found at The campaign also contains a toolkit that communities can use to help personalize the campaign’s message for their area.

Anyone who gambles can develop a problem. If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 to talk to a referral counselor about problem gambling and the treatment options available.

Terry Plouck, Columbus

Plouck is the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

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