Ohio's lieutenant governor has new, big responsibilities

No matter how many pictures you've seen in newspapers or on television of Ground Zero, that plot of ground where the World Trade Center's Twin Towers once stood, there's something special about looking at Maureen O'Connor's 4 by 6 inch prints of that starkest of landscapes.
They are pictures she took with a 35 mm camera just a few days after the attack. The familiar jagged facade of the towers stands in the background, just as it does in other pictures. Puffs of smoke rise from mounds of concrete, just as it does in other pictures. Tired rescuers bend their backs to an arduous, heartrending job, just as in other pictures.
New perspective: But, trust us on this, holding in your hands the snapshots that the person sitting across the table from you took of that scene, seeing detail that isn't preserved by a printing press or television transmitter, brings the story of terrorism home like nothing could, except being there.
Maureen O'Connor, lieutenant governor of Ohio, has been there, and now she's back home, given the job of coordinating the state's efforts to protect its citizens and infrastructure from terrorism. The former Summit County prosecutor is the director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety and now heads two committees: the Ohio Building Security Review Committee and the Interagency Task Force on Ohio Security.
And looking at the pictures, knowing that O'Connor has been there and seen that, makes it easy to understand why she's determined to see that Ohio does everything it can to ward off terrorism.
The greatest amount of attention since September 11 has obviously been given to the federal government. It is tracking down the terrorists and Congress is working on anti-terrorism legislation.
But even while the focus has been on the federal response, most of the heavy lifting in New York City has been done by municipal and state agencies. And when it comes to identifying weak spots, setting priorities, organizing response teams, all 50 states will have to do the work.
O'Connor has a difficult job, at a difficult time. Crisis management won't be cheap, and Ohio has no budget surplus as its disposal.
Surprises: O'Connor says she's been surprised at how well prepared Ohio is for some potential catastrophes. She says the ability last spring to inoculate thousands of persons in southern Mahoning County against meningitis is a good example of readiness. She is also surprised, though, by inconsistencies that she finds across the state. When it comes to disaster preparedness, inconsistency is a hobgoblin that could cost people their lives.
As she takes on what could be one of the most important duties a lieutenant governor has ever tackled, it will be her job to see to it that the state builds on what it's doing right to provide security within the framework of the Constitution, and eliminate what it's doing wrong.