Pubdate: Mon, 02 Nov 2015
Source: Athens News, The (OH)
Copyright: 2015, Athens News


Yes on Issue 1

We strongly support Issue 1 on the Ohio ballot this Tuesday. It sets
up a much fairer process for drawing district lines for Ohio House of
Representative and Senate seats.

Under the current corrupt system, maps for state legislative and
congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years, after updated
Census numbers are released. A five-member state Apportionment Board,
whose members include the governor, secretary of state, state auditor
and a legislator from each major party, draws the legislative
districts. A simple majority wins any vote on the board, so the party
that controls the board (Republican in recent years) has absolute
control over how the legislative lines are drawn.

Under the Issue 1 amendment, the process for redrawing state
legislative districts would grant greater influence to the minority
party, currently the Democrats. It would create a seven-member,
bipartisan panel of statewide elected officials and legislative
appointees, who would draw new maps for state House and Senate districts.

Under the current legislative district set-up, Republicans enjoy an
overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate, despite the state
of Ohio's status as a swing state in presidential elections. Polling
in recent years repeatedly has found a rough balance between
Republicans and Democrats in this state.

The drawing of "safe" districts for both parties has had the
profoundly undemocratic effect of creating primary elections where the
most extreme candidate, the one supported by the party's most
uncompromising loyalists, has a built-in advantage.

The result has been a General Assembly that's far more conservative
than the public it represents.

Take a step toward reforming this corrupt system by voting for Issue 1
on Nov. 3.

No on Issue 2

We emphatically urge our readers to vote NO on Ohio Issue 2 at the
ballot on Nov. 3.

This hurriedly drafted amendment not only has a good chance of
nullifying Issue 3 (marijuana legalization - more on that later) if
both win voter approval; it also could make future citizen initiatives
much more difficult to pass at the polls.

This includes any pot-reform proposal in the future that contains a
financial or tax-connected component.

Amending the state constitution is not a casual undertaking, and
should not be done unless the consequences of the issue are clear.
Many voters are likely to interpret Issue 2 as specifically targeting
Issue 3, when it also carries long-term impacts on future citizen lawmaking.

The wording of two provisions in Issue 2 - one outlawing amendments
creating monopolies or cartels, and one prohibiting an amendment from
granting a "commercial interest, right or license" - is sufficiently
vague to allow ridiculously broad interpretations by a partisan
majority on the Ohio Ballot Board.

Under Issue 2, the bipartisan Ballot Board would be required to
examine any proposed constitutional amendment to determine if it
violates the two aforementioned provisions. If the Ballot Board found
that an amendment wasn't kosher on that basis, the board would have to
present two separate ballot questions to voters. If either failed to
win voter approval, the proposed amendment would not go into effect.

The problem is that the state Ballot Board, while bipartisan in name,
is ultra-partisan in effect. The five-member board currently includes
the Republican Secretary of State, and two members appointed by each
major party. This effectively gives the dominant party an automatic
three-vote majority.

No matter how you feel about Issue 3 pot legalization, vote NO on
Issue 2. It could cripple the citizen initiative process in Ohio, and
has nothing to do with good government.

Yes on Issue 3

It's safe to say that our endorsement of Ohio Issue 3 (marijuana
legalization) on Oct. 22 didn't win universal acclaim. In fact, it
ticked off a lot of folks.

But we're standing by it, albeit with the same qualifications we
voiced in the endorsement.

We encouraged our readers to vote for Issue 3 based on our considered
judgment that this was a choice between a profoundly flawed pot reform
proposal, Issue 3, and the criminalization status quo in Ohio. Based
on the massive amount of money and organization required to get Issue
3 on the ballot, we seriously doubt that any better pot legalization
amendment or law - or any at all - will be forthcoming in the next few

This is even more the case if state Issue 2 passes on Nov. 3. The
"anti-monopoly" amendment - designed to short-circuit Issue 3 - likely
would throw further barriers in front of any future marijuana
legalization amendment, not to mention other well-intentioned citizen
initiatives that include a tax or revenue component.

If we thought otherwise about the prospects for future pot reform
efforts, we would have aligned with the many advocates of marijuana
legalization in Ohio who are making a judgment between two other
choices - Issue 3 or something better - and choosing the latter.

Among other improvements, that "something better" would not limit
growing rights to 10 investor groups. It would allow for agricultural
hemp production and offer a way for farmers throughout the state,
including in southeast Ohio, to grow and produce marijuana. Most
importantly, it would not change our state's constitution to grant
special favor to certain individuals or groups.

If you are truly convinced that the badly fragmented marijuana
legalization movement in Ohio will pull together a successful petition
drive for pot reform, and then prevail at the polls next year or the
year after, voting no on Issue 3 makes perfect sense.

Likewise, if you don't want pot legalized out of personal principle,
that's a valid point of view, too.

But we still think that passing Issue 3, despite its considerable
flaws, makes sense. It will instantly legalize medical marijuana,
create a controlled system for buying and using recreational
marijuana, allow for personal cultivation and possession of modest
amounts of pot, and generate a lot of money for local government.

Contrary to the alarmist claims of some opponents, nothing in the
wording of Issue 3 suggests that enforcement of its regulations will
be onerous or invasive. That's pure malicious fantasy, without any
support in the amendment language. Please read it yourself.

Issue 3 also will end the charade that marijuana is worse than
alcohol; will finally stop a situation where so many young-adult
Ohioans internalize the insidious idea that it's OK to flout laws they
don't agree with; and will provide sick Ohioans with a relatively safe
and inexpensive option for dealing with chronic pain.

Once Issue 3 goes into effect, it can be improved and repaired through
legislative-advanced amendment, far more easily than through further
citizen initiative.

So it's up to you - vote for Issue 3 if you agree that marijuana
should be legalized in Ohio, and that nothing better is likely coming
this way anytime soon. Otherwise, vote no.

Kotses, McGee, Cochran

In the election for three at-large Athens City Council seats on
Tuesday, Nov. 3, the city is fortunate to have five solid candidates.

In our estimation, Democrat Peter Kotses, independent candidate Pat
McGee and incumbent Democrat Jennifer Cochran will do the best job of
leading the city.

Kotses, with his background as a small-business owner and lifelong
resident of Athens, has impressed us the most with his thoughtful
ideas on a variety of city issues, and his sympathy for small
businesses in a city that has a reputation for erecting barriers to
free enterprise.

McGee, a long-time local lawyer specializing in representing students
and public defense of people without the resources to pay for
representation, will bring a welcome new perspective to a City Council
that too often speaks with one voice. New ideas and perspectives are
badly needed on council. McGee, with his background representing Ohio
University students, can be counted on to at least consider student

Council member Jennifer Cochran has done a good job since being
appointed to City Council in July 2013 and elected in the general
election later that year. She takes a thoughtful, even-handed approach
to issues, but also is committed to progressive solutions to problems
facing Athens.

Please vote for Peter Kotses, Patrick McGee and Jennifer Cochran for
the three open at-large Athens City Council seats.
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MAP posted-by: Matt