Maybe I need to be a little more careful about what I write. Maybe not. Typically, if I wrote, I'll stand by it – until, of course, a new set of information arises.
That said, last week, I wrote that it would be nice if State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger and Highland County Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer would publicly share precisely what benefits to Highland County have been derived from their Niagara Foundation-funded "economic trade mission" to Turkey in 2011.
I also offered an invitation to members of the local Republican Party to publicly share their thoughts on Turkish money and its impact in Ohio politics, government and, more importantly, education. Maybe I should ask the Turks, themselves.
After all, as has been widely reported, more than $900 million of tax money earmarked for public education in the 2013-14 school year did not go toward public education.
The Ohio School Boards Association reports: "Ohio Department of Education data shows traditional public schools will lose more than $870 million in state funding to charter schools in fiscal year 2014.
"That's an increase of 5.4 percent over FY 2013, when approximately $824 million was transferred from traditional public schools to charters.
"This increase comes amid ongoing reports of charter school mismanagement, conflicts of interest and felony indictments and convictions."
At the July 30 meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners, Mr. Shaffer was asked, again, what local benefits have been derived from the much-publicized Niagara Foundation-funded trip to Turkey in 2011.
The Niagara Foundation is linked to Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen and his charter schools that are under a state and FBI investigation.
Commissioner Shaffer stated that a "Mowrystown hog farm operation" has benefited from the state and local officials' 2011 Turkey trek through increased pork exports. He named the alleged owner of this alleged hog farm operation.
Since I've known the alleged owner for more than 40 years, and since I've known his family to be cattle and crops farmers, I contacted him and asked how, exactly, he benefited from Ohio lawmakers and county officials traveling to the former Ottoman Empire.
Suffice it to say that the alleged Mowrystown hog farmer was surprised to learn of his supposed good fortune.
The farmer asked me to ask the Turkey travelers just two questions:
1. Where is this Highland County hog farm operation, so we can all visit it?
2. How did southern Ohio Republicans convince a multitude of Muslims to eat pork?
Not being a very smart man, I cannot answer either question, amusing as they are.
Once again, I'll offer an invitation to those on the train to Istanbul to explain. (We'll give a pass to the Republican state representative with the 53 criminal indictments. He's been a bit pre-occupied since the 2011 sightseeing adventure.)
The company some people keep…
After much searching of our archives and other media archives, I have yet to determine precisely how Highland County has benefited from this so-called trade mission to Turkey.
Let's remember, too, that some of these politicians send media "news" releases whenever they take as much as a pit stop in their respective districts.
Granted, as a good friend of mine suggested, there are some days when I'm more confused than a schizophrenic house cat on a new mosaic floor. Maybe this is one of those days.
At the very least, though, one would think the Ohio pols would remember the Turkish benefits to former Second District
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt – another Republican – and point to that as some "accomplishment," her ethics violations notwithstanding. But, no. Silence remains golden.
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• By now – courtesy of The Highland County Press' exclusive coverage – most everyone who cares knows that longtime Hillsboro resident Pamela Limes is running for mayor of Hillsboro in 2015.
Judging by the responses to our Aug. 3 coverage, many people are very enthusiastic and supportive of her candidacy. That's good.
As a local business owner told me this week, "It's good to be able to vote 'for' someone, rather than simply vote 'against' someone."
And if you can accomplish both? Well, that's the proverbial icing on the cake.
Speaking of readers' reaction to the Limes' candidacy, I will quote the following from former Highland County Prosecutor Jim Grandey.
On Aug. 4, Jim posted this at www.highlandcountypress.com:
"The Hillsboro election doesn't mean anything to me, but it would seem that if you were going to support someone for public office you would be willing to use your name rather than a made-up name to indicate that support. Surely, you aren't that ashamed of your support for a candidate that you are afraid to use your real name. Step up to the plate and let us know who you are."
My reply follows:
"Jim, maybe in a perfect world, all those making comments would identify themselves. However, the same rules of propriety apply for having comments posted on our site (although we do give some additional leniency to those who do identify themselves).
"For the record, we have anonymous posts by elected and appointed state, county and local officials. (I trust they have their reasons for anonymity.) We also have anonymous posts by senior citizens who live alone and, perhaps, fear some sort of retribution or adverse action, as described in the federal whistleblowers' protection laws. See: http://www.whistleblowers.gov/. Even something as seemingly innocuous as supporting a particular candidacy can have personal repercussions."
The next online comment was from an uptown business owner who did identify herself.
"I support Pam Limes wholeheartedly," she said. "However, I can say with certainty I know some that have been threatened. I know business owners that can't afford to lose business. I completely understand why some are afraid to use their own names publicly."
My personal preference would be similar to Mr. Grandey's: All writers identify themselves. But after years of professional consideration as to the pros and cons of permitting anonymous comments, I believe the potential for the greater public good through the sharing of ideas and information far outweighs the concerns of often necessary anonymity.
Besides, the easiest solution for the critics of anonymous comments is this: Don't read them.
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• This past weekend, a great newspaperman in Crystal River, Fla. published his weekly column below the Op/Ed headline of "Ten eternal truths about political candidates."
Gerry Mulligan has been publisher of The Citrus County Chronicle for many years now. I try, periodically, to read Gerry's columns.
I do this for three reasons:
1. He's a gifted writer.
2. I like to keep up on the industry trends in Florida, which likely sells more newspapers per capita than any other state.
3. I might "pilfer" a sentence or two from him. (Always with attribution, of course.)
By the way, if you think local politics can be heated, you really ought to read Gerry's last two or three columns about the hostilities in Florida's Nature Coast politics. Not all, but most of us here are pretty congenial, by comparison.
Here are a few of this week's gems, courtesy of Gerry Mulligan.
This is the silly season in Citrus County. We are getting ready to have an election, and every election season people say and do really dumb things because they are betting that you — the voter — aren’t smart enough to figure it out.
After covering politics in Florida for the past four decades, here are a few truisms I’ve learned along the way.
1. A political lie is still a lie.
2. There are winners and losers in politics and in life. It may not always seem fair, but no one ever promised you that everything was going to be fair.
3. The person who keeps telling you they are the smartest usually isn’t.
4. The politician who spends the most time pounding his chest and telling you that he “never tells a lie” usually has the longest list of mistruths — starting with that one.
5. When a candidate’s supporters say nasty and awful things about an opponent, and the candidate does not completely disown the comments and apologize, that candidate is equally responsible for the attacks. Or just plain weak.
Thanks, Gerry. Voters in Ohio can learn just as much from your insightful observations as our friends in Crystal River and Lecanto.
Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.