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The time is now
Written by Staff Reports   
Saturday, June 28, 2014 8:00 PM | Updated ( Sunday, June 29, 2014 7:36 PM )

I once again write to suggest that the time has come to consider legislation in Ohio to allow for the sale and use of the full line of consumer fireworks.

Consumer fireworks are safer today than they have ever been in the history of our country. John Adams, in a prophetic 1776 letter to his wife Abigail, suggested that the Independence Day holiday “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

Today in America, we celebrate as John Adams suggested with the modern version of bonfires and illuminations, that being barbecues and fireworks. Nothing could be more patriotic, and nothing else quite suffices for the Fourth of July.

In 1994, the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory first began testing consumer fireworks at the factory level in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards. Since 1994, the use of fireworks in America has increased some 77 percent from 117,000,000 pounds to 207,500,000 pounds in 2012.

 
Excuses, excuses
Written by Nancy Spencer   
Saturday, June 28, 2014 8:00 PM

We’ve all been there. You’re sick and you miss a few days of work and need a doctor’s slip saying you were too sick to work but now you’re all better and can rejoin your co-workers.

What if you’re not sick and you want a day off or maybe just an afternoon to … watch the U.S. mens soccer team play for a spot in the next round in the FIFA World Cup.

Most wouldn’t dare sneak away from the factory or office for such a thing. What if it was OK? What if it was sanctioned by U.S. Men’s National Team head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and carried the seal of someone really important … like the President?

On Thursday, Klinsmann posted this for Americans to print off and take to work to gain a few hours off the clock to cheer for the U.S. team.

To whom it may concern:

Please excuse (insert name) from work on Thursday, June 26th.

I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause. The #USMNT has a critical World Cup game vs. Germany and we will need the full support of the nation if we are to advance to the next round.

By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA!

Jurgen Klinsmann

Head Coach

U.S. Men’s National Team

Nice.

I wish more occasions cropped up like this. I’m sure it brought a smile to or two and perhaps bosses were willing to look the other way for an hour or so in support of the team. New York Mayor Andrew Cuomo fell in line and gave all state employees an extra hour for lunch to catch the game.

I haven’t been watching a lot of the FIFA World Cup; just enough to know that I don’t understand the rules and Marouane Fellaini has some fine hair. He rocks it! I love the caterpillar eyebrows, too. He knows who he is, has no apologies and has used the beautiful bouffant to score goals.

Cameron played soccer for a couple of years. He played defense and wasn’t bad. He said he just got tired of running. Um, it is soccer.

I have found myself following a play and all of a sudden the inner dialogue starts: Oh, to the left. No, no, no. Don’t go that way. Yes, pass it to him and then get back. Yes. Run. No, no. Don’t kick it from there. How did you think that shot could ever have been a goal? Oh, man. Now it’s all the way down at the other end.

I love the goalie mitts, too. Nothing like some big ol’ cartoon hands to make the game fun.

Dang. Now I want to see Fellaini with the mitts on and that big hair.

 
There are good people in this world
Written by Staff Reports   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

To the editor,

My 3-year-old daughter and I drove to a local drugstore Thursday evening to get medicine for my son and before we even got into the store, my daughter was asking if she could get a race car they have there. I had no idea what she was talking about but as soon as we got in the store, she was pointing to the race cars. Of course, I told her we weren’t there to buy a car and we went on our way.

After getting what we needed, there we stood in line waiting to check out right by the race cars. My daughter had taken two off the shelf and was rolling them on the floor playing her heart out. I told her to put them back and get out of the way of an older man pushing a cart up to the counter. He stopped her and asked if she likes cars. She said yes and then he asked her to see it.

 
Lenient judges visit the woodshed
Written by Byron McNutt   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

We have a problem in this country when 191 of the most lenient administrative law judges have approved more than 85 percent of Social Security disability claims they heard from 2005 to 2013 at a cost to taxpayers of $153 billion.

Most of those claims had been denied one or two times previously by SS workers in state offices. This act of rubber-stamping claims results in lifetime payments to many people and has led to a recent hearing by the U.S. House Oversight Committee chaired by Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Keep in mind, lifetime benefits average $300,000. Average monthly payments are $1,150, according to the Social Security Administration. This column is based on coverage of the congressional hearing by AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher.

The two most lenient administrative judges called to testify were Tennessee Judge Gerald Krafsur and Pennsylvania Judge Charles Bridges. They have held their positions a long time and were arrogant when called to the congressional woodshed.

Krafsur approved 99 percent of the cases he heard from 2005 to 2013. As a result, Social Security is on the hook for an estimated $1.8 billion. Bridges has approved 95 percent of his cases. Both judges hear 3 to 4 times the number of cases as other administrative law judges. There are a total of 1,400 judges.

A skeptical Chairman Issa asked Bridges “Are the people working below you always wrong (when denying disability claims)? Should every physical ailment qualify a person for a lifetime disability payout?”

 
Lessons from the public records audit: 10 years after
Written by Dennis Hetzel   
Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:00 PM

Results are encouraging but major problems remain

There’s good news for Ohio citizens in the results of a statewide, county-by-county public records audit that was conducted by more than 60 Ohio media outlets in April under the auspices of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.

But you shouldn’t get too excited. Problems with open records in Ohio are deeper and more complicated than ever. Let me explain why.

Why were this year’s results so much better? I suspect the main reason is greater awareness by government officials – and it also suggests that, stereotypes to the contrary, local newspapers continue to keep local officials on their toes. The training of local officials on the importance and requirements of Ohio’s records laws is far broader and more consistent than it was in 2004, the last time such an audit was conducted.

However, keep the results in perspective. This is all the audit showed: When you request a record from local government, and there’s no doubt it’s a public record, the chances of obtaining the record in the correct manner are quite good.

 
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