Mahoning judge urges ‘no’ vote on State Issue 1

Mahoning judge urges ‘no’ vote on State Issue 1

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio has called upon all of the judges of our state to address the public and help inform them of the dangers of State Issue 1. As senior judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Mahoning County, I am urging the voters of our community to vote “no” on State Issue 1.

At first, State Issue 1 appears to be a sensible effort to address some of the complex issues of the drug-abuse epidemic in our society, but it only allows treatment and probation as solutions, and completely eliminates incarceration locally or in a state penitentiary.

Not all drug offenders need to go to the penitentiary, but a great number of them do. Issue 1 takes away the judge’s discretion in deciding whether or not to incarcerate drug offenders and instead prohibits judges from incarcerating Felony 4 and Felony 5 drug offenders. In the words of Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor in her Sept. 9 Op-Ed article in The Vindicator commenting on the effect of passing State Issue 1:

“Ohio may end up with some of the most lenient drug crime laws in the nation if this proposed constitutional amendment passes. Our state could easily become a magnet for substance-abuse activity because there will be in effect, very little criminal justice consequence to engaging in such behavior.”

Please consider the fact that State Issue 1 will have a dramatic negative effect on the administration of justice. Just as we need to order treatment for certain drug offenders when treatment will solve the problem, we need to be able to put people in jail when jail time will solve the problem.

Vote “no” on State Issue 1.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, Youngstown

Mental Health Issue 2 deserves voter support

I encourage Mahoning County voters to support Issue 2, which provides funding to the Mental Health and Recovery Board.

Mental Health and Recovery boards have multiple responsibilities regarding mental illnesses and addictions. These include prevention of these disorders, where possible; ensuring the community is well informed about mental health and substance abuse; providing access to effective treatment; and ensuring recovering people can rebuild their lives and make the most of their potential.

The MHRB is succeeding in all of these responsibilities. In community education, the board provides Crisis Intervention Training. Specifically designed for law enforcement, the training equips officers to effectively handle encounters with people with mental illnesses. The board has provided this training to 354 officers.

In fiscal year 2018 the board provided $3 million in levy funds to its contract agencies that provided treatment to over 20,000 Mahoning County residents.

While treatment is intended to help people manage or eliminate the symptoms of their illnesses, recovery supports are intended to help people construct healthy lives. One crucial recovery support is safe housing. The board pays for a variety of “levels of care,” ranging from housing settings that offer 24-hour, on-site, awake monitoring, to independent living settings with links to off-site services. In FY 2018, the board spent $1.94 million to support 257 individuals in various levels of housing.

Another important recovery support is employment. The board-funded agencies helped 54 individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses to obtain competitive employment in FY 2018.

These are a few examples; I urge voters to visit the board’s website at for information.

The board is asking voters to renew its five-year, 0.85 mill levy, with an increase of 0.5 of a mill. If passed, the board will let a separate 0.5 mill levy expire in 2020. The impact for a homeowner whose house is valued at $100,000 for the next two years is an increase from $31.50 to $43.20 per year.

The health of the entire community is improved when people with mental illnesses or addictions have the opportunity to recover.

Kathleen Gaige, Canfield

Mill Creek Park leaders deserve pats on the back

As the first and past chairman of the Mill Creek MetroParks Standing Development Commitee, I would like to congratulate Chris Litton, the development director, on a job well done.

I’d also like to thank Dr. Tom Shipka, who was mainly responsible for setting up the standing committees, which allowed myself and other concerned citizens to get directly involved in overseeing park issues.

Mr. Litton’s success in raising over $2 million, which according to The Vindicator was over a 13,000 percent increase over the past year, is an example of what can be accomplished when citizens get involved.

Anyone can complain, but it takes people like Dr. Shipka to roll up his sleeves and work on solutions.

Anyone who lives in Mahoning County can apply to be appointed to one of the many standing committees on the Mill Creek MetroParks website.

If you want to help continue the great vision of Volney Rogers, founder of the park, I would encourage you to apply.

Murray Davis, Youngstown

Not all charter schools are performing poorly

I write in response to the editorial published by The Vindicator on Sept. 14: “State report cards deserve more than passing glance.”

As noted, 14 Ohio school districts were “deemed failures, receiving an overall grade of F.” Among those were six of Ohio’s Big 8 urban districts (the remaining two earned a D).

Looking beyond overall grades, an analysis of student growth data by Buckeye Charter School Boards reveals that 44 percent of brick-and-mortar public charter schools earned A, B or C grades for value-added, compared with 33 percent of their Big 8 district counterparts (excluding dropout recovery, special needs and selective admission schools).

In Youngstown, 40 percent of charters earned an A, B, or C in overall value added vs. just 9 percent of district schools. In a ranking based on Performance Index (which excluded two selective admission schools), charter schools – Stambaugh Charter Academy and Youngstown Community School – were first and second, respectively. Horizon Science Academy ranked fourth, Youngstown Academy of Excellence ranked fifth, and Southside Academy ranked eighth on the list of 16 schools.

Charter schools will continue to be a major theme in the campaign season leading up to the November election. Some candidates unfairly suggest that Ohio’s lowest-performing charter schools are representative of all. But the data simply doesn’t tell the same story.

Just like traditional public schools, academic outcomes vary within the charter sector, and there is certainly room for improvement. It’s time to focus our efforts on improving the quality of learning for students, rather than continuing the unproductive debate over school structure. Let’s make all public school students – charter and traditional – our top priority.

Gene Schuster, Columbus

Gene Schuster is the founder and board chairman of the Buckeye Charter School Boards.

Animals suffer in floods

Everyone is right- fully concerned about all the dogs and cats who have suffered because of Hurricane Florence, including many who were simply left behind to die. Thankfully, some have been rescued from flood waters and abandoned buildings. But millions of other animals, including chickens, turkeys, and pigs, who feel pain, fear, and grief just the same, have also been left to suffer and die.

More than 3 million chickens and turkeys drowned in the flooded buildings where they were being raised to satisfy humans’ taste for flesh. At least 5,500 pigs have been found dead.

No one can reverse the damage that’s already been done, but we can all spare animals and protect the environment just by choosing tasty vegan meals. Go to for a vegan starter kit.

Heather Moore, Norfolk, Va.

Moore is affiliated with the PETA Foundation.