COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Toledo) Blade, May 13
About 70,000 property owners joined the ranks of Ohioans facing foreclosure last year. That figure was a slight improvement over 2011, but it represents more than four times as many annual new foreclosure filings as in the mid-1990s.
Even as our state's economy and housing market continue to recover, albeit slowly, the foreclosure crisis is not over. Much more urgently remains to be done to help homeowners -- often poor, elderly, or disabled -- and their families cope with the risk of losing their homes....
Housing analysts link the foreclosure figures to a variety of troubles, notably loss of household income caused by unemployment, reduced work hours, or catastrophic illness. That's not surprising, but the diagnosis of the ailment is less important now then prescriptions for preventing foreclosures.
Those prescriptions surely include more financial help for the nonprofit groups, in Toledo and across the state, that are on the front lines of the battle against foreclosure....
Housing advocates are properly calling on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to use part of the state's $93 million in proceeds from the settlement last year of a national mortgage case against banks to provide financial aid to these groups. As they work on the next two-year state budget, lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich's administration also should provide more, not less, money for counseling to prevent foreclosures, and for related efforts to relieve financial burdens on households that are at greatest risk of home foreclosures.
Warren Tribune Chronicle, May 13
Ohioans probably should not be terribly concerned about the substantial drop-off in revenue -- and thus, a reduction in tax income for local and state governments -- at the state's four gambling casinos between March and April. But it is not too soon to worry about imprudent long-term reliance on gambling revenue.
Money has been pouring into local and state coffers from new casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. During the quarter ending March 31, the state collected $62.9 million in taxes from video and table gambling at the casinos. That was up from $52.4 million during the previous quarter....
If anything, the best may be yet to come for the operators and the local and state governments eager to rake in a new pot of revenue. Ohio's casinos are still relatively new and may well grow. Tax income from them still has not reached the level of the four casinos in neighboring West Virginia, which paid more than $457 million in taxes last year.
But the Mountain State's experience should be instructive to Ohioans in another way. Revenue, especially from table gambling, has been falling at three of West Virginia's four casinos. Part of the reason is new competition from Ohio and Pennsylvania....
Even as local and state officials celebrate new revenue from Ohio's casinos and look forward to bigger and better returns in the future, then, they should be engaged in long-range planning. The "easy money" probably will not continue flowing in forever.
The Columbus Dispatch, May 12
The Ohio Senate should not cave to appeals from the Internet-café industry to regulate it rather than put it out of business.
There is no debate to be had, no fair compromise to be struck, when the choice is between protecting Ohioans and shielding illegal gambling operations, which Ohio's top law-enforcement officials contend are a front for organized crime.
Café customers buy phone cards or Internet time that allows them to win cash by playing on computers with games that mimic slot machines. The cafés drain the poor, siphon money from legitimate charity games and often are operated by people so crooked they would be barred from working in the state's casinos. They sneaked into Ohio by the hundreds with no vote of the people and no regulation. And now, they ask for their illicit trade to be legitimized through regulation.
The Senate should pay heed to racketeering indictments last month in Cuyahoga County, where Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty described an "Internet gambling syndicate" that is a multi-state money-laundering operation....
He said its mastermind, New Jersey-based software supplier VS2, operates largely in money orders and cash to foil law enforcement, skims 25 cents of every dollar gambled on the slot machines, tracks all wagers in New Jersey and shuts down any café that doesn't pay up....
The industry arguments are ridiculous....
Café proponent Michael Nelson told a Senate committee that they provide entertainment and socialization. Gongwer News Service quoted him as saying, "It's like church."
They're preying, all right. It's time to shut the doors.
The Marietta Times, May 10
The discovery of three young women who were missing for more than a decade in Cleveland calls for action in several ways, the most basic of which is to know our own neighborhoods, if not our neighbors.
There was a time in America, back when front porches and stoops were the evening hangouts for families, that people knew the names of everyone on their block, all of their children and their pets. There was a time when the cop on the beat in that neighborhood knew everyone by name, their comings and goings, too.
It's long past time since that was the case, and it's long past time for the need for that to be the case again...
We need to be sure we truly do know what's going on in our neighborhoods, and not just to wait for gunfire or captives to escape. Know your neighbors. Know who belongs in your neighborhood. Know the comings and goings of cars, kids, workmen.
But in return, society needs police officers who take every call seriously. If every violation is taken seriously, it should become harder for crime to take root....
That didn't happen in Cleveland, where the lead suspect apparently was so devious that he actually comforted the mother of one of the missing girls during a vigil. To say police response to a neighborhood was lacking in Cleveland is understating the case.
Without support from neighborhoods, the police cannot do their job.
In the Cleveland case, the opposite is exemplified. Without support from police, crime, even in the best of neighborhoods, will go unsolved.