Letters to the Editor

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Mindset on beltway is backwards

While the affliction cannot be found in any medical journal, the malady known as "beltway mentality" has a way of infecting many otherwise well-meaning legislators. Symptoms can include a swollen sense of self-importance and a loss of connection with the constituency, and the most common cause of the illness stems from isolating one’s self from those you represent. Unfortunately, beltway mentality has reached an epidemic level in our nation’s capital.

There exists an elitist attitude in many corners in Washington that the only important work done by members is performed within the beltway, and that more time spent in Washington somehow translates to working harder. This is nonsense. Inherently important in representing a district is the need to be in the district and among your constituents enough to understand their concerns and issues. Unfortunately, the beltway mentality is in part responsible for making the 110th Congress the most unproductive session in decades.

In December of last year, the new House majority leadership boasted to America that it would work harder by keeping Congress in session five days a week. They began by scheduling relatively meaningless votes for Monday evenings, on issues such as "recognizing over 200 years of sovereignty of the Principality of Liechtenstein," a bill recognizing Dutch-American Friendship Day, and one congratulating the University of Louisville for its Orange Bowl Victory. While every past Congress has passed its fair share of laudatory and symbolic resolutions, it did so during the course of the week and without pulling members back to Washington on Mondays in an attempt to appear busy.

Nearly a year after this declaration, it seems to be an appropriate time to assess the fruits of this labor. A total of 107 bills have become law thus far in the 110th Congress. Of those, 47 renamed a post office, federal building, recreation area, courthouse, or highway; 44 bills were completely non-controversial measures or passed with overwhelming Republican support; and 14 bills simply extended pre-existing public laws. The 110th Congress is on pace to enact fewer laws than any one in more than three decades, dating back to the Nixon Administration.

Under its new congressional schedule, House leadership has not fostered in an era of unprecedented legislative productivity; rather, it has kept members in Washington longer, with no additional issues to consider, and insulated representatives from the people who elect them. More time within the beltway is an obstacle, not a facilitator, to good government. Accessibility is a key ingredient to accountability in government, and I am never more accountable to my constituents for my actions in Washington than when I am back in central Ohio, running into them at the grocery story or at church, or meeting with them in my district office.

More importantly, the lack of productivity is impacting the functioning of government.While the new majority has proven most adept at renaming federal properties, when it comes to important issues that Americans care about, the Congress is unable to produce. To date, Congress has been unable to come to an agreement with the White House to extend the children’s health insurance program, a critically important health program serving low-income children. The program expires in less than two weeks.

House leaders were also forced to pull legislation extending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—one of our most important tools against terrorist plots—after it was noted that their bill would have required intelligence officers to consult government lawyers before wiretapping Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or other terror groups.

For the first time since 1987, amid its "five-day work weeks" no less, Congress has not sent a single appropriations bill to the president’s desk by Nov. 1, a month into the new fiscal year. These are the bills that fund our government departments and agencies, and keep the federal system operational. Among the most glaring of their appropriations neglect is their failure to pass a bill providing $4.4 billion in new veterans spending, funding housing and health care for our troops, veterans, and their families.

 

The American people deserve representation that produces results, not one that simply logs unnecessary hours in Washington to rename federal properties. The new leadership in Congress should embrace a philosophy that has been utilized by the private sector for decades: work smarter.  

Congresswoman Deborah Pryce
(R- Columbus)

Thank-you goes out to MP voters

On behalf of the Board of Education, our students and our staff, please accept my sincerest "thank you" for your support of the Madison-Plains Local Schools with the passage of the 8-mill operating and 2.5-mill permanent improvement levies.

These levies, because they were both renewal levies, will not increase taxes. The funds from the levies will continue to help maintain daily educational programs within the school district and provide monies for permanent improvements.

Be assured that the board and the administrative team will continue to exercise fiscal prudence in making financially sound decisions with these tax dollars.

In addition, I congratulate Michael E. Brandt and Ken Morlock on their election to the Board of Education. Mr. Morlock will complete a partial term as a board member and will team with Mr. Brandt offically in January 2008 to commence full terms as board members.

A special "thank you" and a hearty "job well done" go to board member Sherry Kuehnle who has served on the board for 12 years. All of us are truly appreciative of her dedication and work on behalf of the students and staff of the Madison-Plains Local School District.

Bernie Hall, superintendent
Madison-Plains Local Schools

Open hearts fill shelves at food banks

Mid-Ohio Food Bank has its own MySpace page. It reads:

Status: Single

Here for: Networking, Friends

Body type: 0’ 0"

Zodiac Sign: CapriCORN

Occupation:  Food Banking

About me: Since 1980 I have provided more than 388 million pounds of food and other grocery products for hungry people in our community. I keep the food shelves stocked for a network of more than 550 emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, senior dining centers, day care and after-school enrichment programs.

Who would have thought that the Mid-Ohio Food Bank (MOFB) would have its own MySpace page? But in all seriousness, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, part of America’s Second Harvest, the nation’s food bank network, serves 20 counties in Ohio, including our own. Without the MOFB, most food pantries would not exist as we know them today, if at all.

Recent news coverage has focused on the increasing difficulty Americans have in making their paychecks stretch to cover the necessities. The same national trend is evident in central Ohio. In the "2007 Almanac of Hunger and Poverty in America," the 2006 local findings from the Mid-Ohio Food Bank confirmed that people are making some very hard choices when trying to stretch their paychecks. For example:

• Households that made the choice between food and utilities—44 percent

• Households that made the choice between food and housing—29 percent

• Households that made the choice between food and health care—25 percent

The most recent statistics from the Mid-Ohio FoodBank confirm in other ways what we are seeing right here in our community. Consider:

• Hunger in America 2006 Local Findings: 38 percent of clients are children; 5 percent of clients are elderly

• September 2007, H.E.L.P. House, London: 39 percent of clients are children; 9 percent of clients are elderly

Consider also: During the last three months, there have been 69 clients who are veterans for a total of 353 veteran-client visits. Through October, 165,000 food items have been distributed from the H.E.L.P. House, a 35 percent increase over the same time period last year. H.E.L.P. House has averaged 845 family visits during each month of 2007.

You will be asked to help your local food pantries during the upcoming holiday season. Know that the need is very real. Please don’t make a family decide between the prescription for their 3-year-old and the family dinner. Know also that food pantries, too, are struggling. The cost of food has risen dramatically since July. Just like their clients, pantries have increasing rent and utility bills and have to make difficult decisions about which bill to pay and where they can scrimp in order to buy more food.

As you think about what you can give, take a moment to reflect on the insight offered by Mother Teresa:

"Open your hearts to the love God instills in them. God loves you tenderly. What he gives you is not to be kept under lock and key, but to be shared. The more you save, the less you will be able to give. The less you have, the more you will know how to share. Let us ask God, when it comes time to ask him for something, to help us to be generous."

 

Jan Laing, London
H.E.L.P. House Volunteer

Auctions & music help kids’ hospital

Wow! If you missed it, you really missed a good time with Woody and the Wake Up Call from WCOL 92.3. They were at VFW Post 7005 in West Jefferson on Nov. 9, doing the morning radio broadcast. The wonderful men and women associated with VFW Post 7005 put on a fantastic breakfast, for a donation which was given through Kambree’s Kids to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. We raised over $2,200.

Our next Kambree’s Kids benefit will be held from noon to 11 p.m. Nov. 24 at the VFW, One Veteran’s Way, West Jefferson. There is no admission charge (but donations are greatly appreciated) and free food and music (by The Posse, Darwin Conley & Friends, and Union Highway) is provided all day with an auction of items donated. One hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to Children’s Hospital. The food is provided by our family, friends, and the VFW and Auxiliaries.

For a partial list of items for auction, go to www.kambreeskids.com. We hope to see you there. If you would like further information or have items to donate to the auction, please contact Pat or Nena Dillon at 614-879-9470.

Nena J. Dillon
West Jefferson

Library’s cookbooks fix dinner  

When it comes to cookbooks, I enjoy browsing recipes and pictures while trying to find quick and easy dishes that fit my own budget and yet appeal to my family. It’s a game of sorts for me!  

My daughter is in her second year of college and, of course, detests the college cafeteria food. So, she’s always looking for easy things to make, with her forte being baked goods!  Whether it is breads, cookies, cakes or candy, she’s always trying different things. She and her friends have come up with some very unique dishes based on recipes that I’ve gotten out of cookbooks at the local library.

The most recent challenge for me in the kitchen was finding and preparing a vegan dish for one of my daughter’s college friends when they made a trek home for the weekend. Well, I decided to look at the library for ideas. Lo and behold, I found just what I needed. I came across two cookbooks, "Simply Vegan" and "Conveniently Vegan" by Debra Wasserman. Sure enough, there was a plethora of tasty recipes that met the approval of my daughter’s friend.

With some assistance from the girls that weekend, I cooked a delicious vegan lasagna that everyone loved. As life continues to bring me challenges and opportunities to try new recipes, I’m certain I’ll be browsing the library’s cookbooks in turn. Have you explored what your library can help you with lately?

Ruth Gorman, outreach services
London Public Library

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