The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on January 7, 1998 · Page 9
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 9

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Wednesday, January 7, 1998
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Editorial Page Editor: Peter Branson Phone: 768-8359. Fax: 768-8610. OPINION A10 Wednesday, January 7, 1998 The Cincinnati Enquirer THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER Founded 1841 A Gannett newspaper nlMWIfK'MI''? Editorial Board HARRY M. WHIPPLE - President and Publisher LAWRENCE K. BEAUPRE - Editor, Vice President PETER W. BRONSON - Associate editor LINDA CAGNETTI - Deputy editor JIM BORGMAN - Editorial cartoonist TONY LANG - Editorial writer RAY COOKLIS - Editorial writer KAREN SAMPLES - Kentucky contributor EDITORIALS School alert Long-awaited decisions top lawmakers' agendas in Ohio, Ky. This is no time to nap or be silent if you care anything about schools and taxes. Legislators in Ohio and Kentucky returned to work this week with some education "hot potatoes" on their plates. You can bet special interest groups are out in force in Columbus and Frankfort. Ordinary citizens especially parents should make sure they're heard, too. Ohio is racing toward a court-ordered March 24 deadline to overhaul school funding and spend millions more tax dollars on schools. Kentucky lawmakers, in their biennial gathering, seek to fix testing flaws in the 7-year-old Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) and give parents more control in local schools. IN OHIO With a half dozen or more proposals to comply with the Ohio Supreme Court order, lawmakers' decision comes down to: How much to raise taxes (if any); and who decides how much is enough and how it is spent. The schools that won their lawsuit against the state want to bypass voters and reach directly into public pockets. Fortunately, Gov. George Voino-vich and many lawmakers insist that taxes should be voted on. Some lawmakers insist the gap between rich and poor has been closed in recent years, and no new taxes are needed. Unfortunately, the Ohio Supreme Court abdicated final control to one man Common Pleas Judge Linton Lewis Jr. of rural Perry County, hand-picked by the coalition to tilt a court decision toward "poorer districts." Judge Lewis now plans hearings before he decides if the state's plan passes or fails. This gives the impression the public is being "heard." But it's no secret which side Judge Lewis in on. He declared Ohio's funding unconstitutional in 1994. He may be a fine jurist, but the whole state of Ohio should not be held hostage by one rural judge who answers to a handful of rural voters. Either side can appeal Judge Lewis' decision to the Ohio justices who put him in charge. The Perry County judge "can't make them (the General Assembly) raise taxes, but he can make them move dollars around, and he could demand that they put a tax increase on the ballot," according tc Ohio State University professor T.K. Daniel, an expert on education administration. Judge Lewis could trump the will of our elected lawmakers and governor. But Ohio shouldn't blindly reward an unresponsive, stubborn education bureaucracy by raising taxes without genuine reforms and changes. The schools who sued want more cash and less public control. Parents and citizens want more accountability and choices. The fact is, the lawsuit ignores dramatic increases in school funding, particularly for poor districts, since the suit was filed. Since 1991, Ohio school funding rose 46 percent, compared to 26 percent inflation. More money is not the only answer. Voters should demand at least three things: A vote on any tax increases. Choice and charter schools to add competition with any new spending. And a vote, if needed, to assure that the courts will not overrule the public and take over school funding. IN KENTUCKY Lawmakers need to fix KERA's testing programs, which determine rewards and sanctions for individual schools. The time-consuming tests lack credibility because there is no way to compare scores to those of other states. Kentucky legislators also can boost meangingful parent participation which state-run KERA undermined. A task force that spent a year studying KERA recommends adding another parent to school councils, so that parents will have as many seats as teachers on the local governing boards. These crucial decisions in Ohio and Kentucky will be made soon. Don't leave them to the insiders. Make sure your elected representatives hear from you. How to get involved OHIO Contact the main players: Gov. George Voinovich, 77 South High St., 30h floor; Columbus, Ohio 43266; phone 614-466-3555; fax 614-466-9354. President of the Senate: Richard H. Finan: phone 614-466-9737. Speaker of the House Jo Ann Davidson: phone 614-466-4847. i Write to them and any Southwestern Ohio legislator at: Office of Senator (insert name), Ohio Statehouse, Senate Annex, Columbus, Ohio 43215; or phone 614-466-4900; or Office of Representative (insert name), Riffe Center, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43266-0603; phone 614-466-3357 or fax: 614-644-8744. Or call their Columbus offices: Senators: Louis Blessing Jr. 61 4-466-8068 Janet Howard, 614-466-5980 Doug White, 614-466-8082 Representatives: Sam Britton, 614-466-1308 Mark Mallory, 614-466-1645 Dale Van Vyven, 614-466-8120 Jerome Luebbers, 614-466-5786 Cheryl Winkler, 614-466-2715 Patricia Clancy, 614-466-9091 Robert L Schuler, 61 4-644-6023 Jackie O'Brien, 61 4-644-6886 George Terwilleger, 614-644-6027 Gary Cates, 614-466-8550 Gregory Jolivette, 614-644-6721 Eugene Krebs, 61 4-644-5094 Samuel Bateman, 614-466-8134 Rose Vesper, 614-644-6034. For leaislative uDdates. hearino schedules or other information on the Ohio General Assembly call 1-800-282-0253. KENTUCKY Main players in Frankfort: Gov. Paul Patton, State Capital, 700 Capital Avenue, Frankfort, Ky. 40601; phone 502-564-2611; fax 502-564-2735. President of the Senate: Larry Saunders, Room 203, Capital Annex, Frankfort, Ky. 40601; fax 502-564-6543. Speaker of the House: Jody Richards, Room 306, The Capital, Frankfort, Ky. 40601; fax 502-564-7178. To leave a phone message for any legislator in Frankfort, call 1-800-372-7181. Write to Northern Kentucky legislators at: Senator or Representative (insert name), Legislative Offices, Capital Annex, Frankfort, Ky. 40601. Northern Kentucky senators include: Richard "Dick" Roeding, Jack Westwood, Gex Williams and Ernie Harris. Representatives include: Paul Marcotte, Royce Adams, Dick Murgatroyd, Thomas Kerr, Arnold Simpson, Charlie Walton, James Callahan, Katie Kratz-Stine and Jon David Reinhardt To track legislation by computer, visit Kentucky Legislative Research Commission's home page, http:www.lrc.state.ky.ushome.htm or phone 502-564-8100. II UrC'KI Ul-illfWVnv"" A UWARPMOHUry. J TV finds a scruple: abortion Three network affiliate television stations with access to voters in Santa Barbara, Calif., are refusing to run a political commercial that describes verbally, but not visually, what occurs during a partial-birth abortion. The commercials are pretty innocuous. One shows a picture of a baby in a crib. The baby is crying while an announcer reads testimony by a nurse about what happens during the partial-birth-abortion procedure: "First the baby's legs are pulled into the birth canal, and the entire body is delivered except for the head. Then an incision is made in the skull, and the brains are removed. After the head shrinks, the entire body is removed." The other commercial, the one I've seen, shows a small group of women discussing partial-birth abortion and concluding that it is wrong. At the end, an ad tells viewers which U.S. House candidate is on record favoring the procedure (Republican Brooks Firestone) and who is opposed (Republican Tom Bordonaro). The Campaign for Working Families (CWF), a political action committee headed by conservative leader Gary Bauer, has threat- M X- CAL THOMAS ened legal action if the stations don't air the ads. The station managers give some amazing excuses for refusing to run the commercials. Richard Armfield, general manager of the NBC affiliate KSBY, said: "The descriptive terms used for the procedure we think are a little too vivid, a little too graphic. It's pretty tough. I can see it scaring little children to death." An appropriate observation, given the condition of little children following the procedure. KEYT general manager Byron Elton says the commercial is "pretty strident" and "the language is stronger than we were comfortable with." KEYT is an ABC affiliate that carries Ellen, Nothing Sacred and NYPD Blue, three shows with situations and language offensive to large numbers of people. NYPD Blue occasionally shows partial nudity. At least these are actors. Partial-birth abortion kills a fully developed baby. All three stations carried graphic images of the carnage that followed the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Had the stations had access to pictures of Princess Diana's death scene, is there any doubt they would have aired some of them? What does it tell us when television stations that have regularly attacked conservatives for attempts to "censor" offensive material now censor language they don't like, even though it accurately describes a procedure that apparently they do like, or at least don't oppose? The question of equal access to the public airwaves and the First Amendment's protection of speech will be the focus of any legal action taken against the three station, Mr. Bauer tells me. In the '60s, I worked for NBC News in Washington. That network properly aired film of civil rights demonstrators who were sometimes beaten, shot with powerful water hoses and guns, cattle-prodded and occasionally murdered. The power and reality of those pictures stunned the nation and changed hearts about the out rages perpetrated against black Americans. Now, when political people attempt to air commercials about another civil rights issue the right of a nearly born baby to be allowed to complete the trip down the birth canal,, without being killed they are , told their language describing the procedure is "a little too graphic." Had network execu-: tives felt this way in the '60s, there would have been no civil rights legislation, or it would have been delayed, because the public would not have been fully informed about the nature and ' depth of discrimination and ra- ' cial hatred. All the CWF is asking is that , the standards applied back then be applied now. The station managers should 'have another meeting, call off the censorship , and let the people have the information they need to cast H fully informed votes. - Cal Thomas is a syndicated" columnist. Readers may write' to him co Los Angeles Times . Syndicate, Times Mirror t Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053. A good year for eco-mythology BY S. FRED SINGER Knight-Ridder Forum It's been a great year but not a hot one. (According to weather satellite data, 1997 ranked well below the average of the last two decades.) Lots of environmental scares without scientific foundation, but the Kyoto climate treaty confab must take the spotlight when it comes to hype. As the late Aaron Wildavsky put it so well: "Global warming is the mother of all environmental scares." It is certainly the most expensive potentially. If the Kyoto Protocol for cutting C02 emissions and energy use were ever to be ratified by the U.S. Senate and enforced by the United Nations, there go U.S. jobs and prosperity all because of the feverish imagination of environmental activists and some computer printouts that don't relate to what's really happening to the climate. 1. The Climate-Aerosol Debacle: The U.N. science advisory group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is developing a big credibility problem. Its 1996 report, the basis of Kyoto, had to admit the rapid warming predicted by computer models was not occurring. So they hit on an explanation to account for the discrepancy: Sulfate aerosols, particles created from the burning of coal and other sulfur-containing substances, were supposed to reflect incident sunlight and create an offsetting cooling making the models agree with observations that show no warming trend. Unfortunately, the details don't match. The southern hemisphere, containing fewer aerosols, should be warming rapidly but isn't. And now, the final blow has been dealt to the IPCC house of cards by Prof. Joyce Penner, an IPCC stalwart, among the first to incorporate aerosols into climate models. According to a Dec. 8 news release from the University of Michigan, her latest computer modeling suggests "the warming we've seen over the last hundred years may simply be due to natural variability" not human activities, like energy generation. The politicians in Kyoto will not be overjoyed to hear the news. Like good lawyers, they prefer to stipulate the science. 2. The Specter of Sea Level Rise from Global Wanning: First of all, sea level has been rising at average rate of about 7 inches per century for several centuries, and nobody quite knows why. But it is certainly not due to climate changes or any human influences. The climate did warm sharply between 1900 and 1940, recovering from the previous cold centuries of the "Little Ice Age"; can we trace the effect of this warming on sea level? Many glaciers are still melting as a result of the higher temperatures compared to 100 years ago. Also, ocean water expanded, as most substances do when their temperature is raised. But the sea-level data taken during this period suggest both of these effects were overcome by an increased evaporation from the ocean surface, followed by more rain which turned to ice over the polar regions and increased ice accumulation there. The net result: a transfer of water from the ocean to the polar ice caps and a slowing down of the ongo ing sea-level rise. There is a lesson to be learned here. Should the climate warm again for any reason it is likely to further depress sea-level rise. 3. The Smog-Skin Cancer Connection: It is one of the ironies of pollution control that clearing the air of smog also permits more solar ultraviolet radiation to reach the ground. Smog may be bad for lungs at least in high concentrations but it also protects against UV, which causes basal and squamous-cell skin cancers. So cleaning up Los Angeles would raise skin-cancer rates there to the level of Palm Springs, Calif. In 1997, the EPA decided to reduce urban ozone levels even further, claiming the health benefits would justify the rather large costs imposed on the average consumer. Except it forgot to figure in the "cost" of the additional skin cancers. It knows this, of course, but it also knows adding the skin-cancer cost would completely undermine its perverse goal of imposing ever-tighter air quality standards. You see, the EPA has repeatedly told Congress stopping the use of freon in air conditioners and refrigerators for the sake of stratospheric ozone-layer protection is worth $32 trillion(!) all to keep UV from rising a few percent. 4. It's Those Darn Frogs Again: Remember Prof. Andrew Blaustein of Oregon State University? Back in November 1993, when two Canadian scientists falsely claimed UV was steadily increasing, he blamed the disappearance of frogs and toads on ozone depletion and rising UV trends. But in response to a science reporter, who pointed out there was no UV trend, Mr. Blaustein retreated: "Well, maybe it's a fungus." Now, he's back, writing papers in the Proceedings of the August National Academy of Sciences, blaming UV for causing deformities in frogs missing legs or missing digits. Except UV is still not increasing. 5. Global Warming and the Spread of Disease: The climate may not be heating up, but the rhetoric certainly is. A group of physicians is trying to turn global warming into a health problem, comparing the earth to a sick patient. Psychia-1 ' trist (yes!) Eric Chivian, director of the Harvard Medical' School Center for Health and the Global Environment, orga-' ' nized a letter-writing campaigri just before the Kyoto confer-' ence, claiming global warming ( will cause epidemics to rage out , of control. But the real experts from" the Centers for Disease Control have already concluded the spread of diseases depends mainly on poor public health care and on the human vector, based on rapidly growing worldwide travel. At the Kyoto conference) however, everything bad was blamed on global warming even though it is not happening) The prize goes to the Japan Environmental Times ("All the Earth News Without Fear or Favor") report deadly Austra-. ' lian "red-back" spiders were ! found by a factory worker in Osaka (which boasts an interna? ' tional airport). "Scientists attribute the first discovery of the species in Japan to the warmer ; climate." (Comment: Maybe ' the little beasts swim faster ; when the ocean is warmer. It's a thought. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist, is the president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project based in Fairfax, Va. He is emeritus professor of environmental sciences at the Uni versity of Virginia and former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service. Readers may write to him at: SEPP, 4084 University Drive, Fairfax, Va. 22030.

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