WINNERS AND LOSERS
SOLAR COMPACTORS: The city of Cincinnati recently used $88,000 in grant money to buy 20 solar-powered trash compactors that have been placed in locations around town. (We saw a few in downtown's Piatt Park.) Although critics allege the $4,400 per compactor cost is high, we agree with supporters who noted that fewer trips by garbage trucks emitting fumes will lead to cleaner air. As Nicole Wong wrote on the Green M@tters blog, the compactors “can hold up to five times more trash than a conventional trash can. Holding more trash translates to less rounds by city garbage collectors, which saves labor, time, and gas.” We think the compactors will pay for themselves in a couple of years, and are a good investment.
GOP ETHICS: Congressional Republicans are crowing about the upcoming House trials of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-New York) and Rep.
Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on ethics charges before the midterm elections. Rangel is accused of tax evasion and shady fundraising tactics, while Waters allegedly lobbied regulators to bail out a bank that her husband owns a stake in. The actions should be punished, if true. But at least Democrats handle their dirty laundry in public and with due process, unlike Republicans who supposedly deal with it behind closed doors. At least five GOP reps — Vern Buchanan, Ken Calvert, Nathan Deal, Jerry Lewis and Gary Miller — have allegedly engaged in extremely unethical behavior and nothing's been done about it. Paging John Boehner: Please do something.
SMOKING BAN: We're torn about poll results that show more than half of Ohioans want to once again allow smoking in bars. (The Ohio Health Issues Poll found that 53 percent of respondents say people should light up in taverns, if bar owners permit it.) Yes, ever since voters approved the ban on smoking in indoor public spaces four years ago, it's easier to breath and overall health has probably improved. But we also believe that bars — which cater to an exclusively adult clientele — should be granted more leeway and that bar owners should decide for themselves what's right for their establishment. Despite what anti-smoking zealots claim, we've personally known bar owners who tell us their business dropped once the ban went into effect. Carving out this exception is probably a good idea.
TEACHERS' UNION: It's time to put up or shut up. If Cincinnati Public Schools is ever going to significantly improve its academic performance, administrators need the flexibility to move experienced, high-quality teachers into the schools that most need their help. The Cincinnati Federation of Teachers is opposing provisions in a proposed contract that would allow just that to occur. As a result, local teachers have been working without a contract since January and a new one is unlikely to be settled upon before the new school year begins Aug. 18. While we generally support labor unions, let's not forget that the school district is operated first and foremost to benefit students, not to protect teachers' turf. The CFT needs to agree to some concessions.
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