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Scene's endorsements on ballot issues 1-6

Issue 1

YES

Among the many shortcomings of those leaders who brag about supporting the troops is a tendency to forget those men and women once they'vereturned home. Issue 1 would help to fill the gap between rhetoric and reality by renewing the state's tradition of paying bonuses to veterans of the wars — in this case, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Operation Desert Storm. The funds would come from selling $200 million in bonds. — Lewis

Issue 2

NO

It's unfortunate that the backers of Issue 2 have tried to obscure the real debate behind a haze of hypnotic happy talk (Safe, affordable and healthy food! Who could oppose that?) and wild claims (Vegans want to take away your burgers and wings!). This proposed constitutional amendment would permanently shift most regulatory power over the livestock industry to a 13-member board appointed mostly by the governor. We can't prove that this is nothing more than the Ohio Farm Bureau's way of heading off livestock-handling reforms like those passed in other states, but it sure sounds that way when farmers make statements like this: "I don't want a radical organization [the Humane Society] coming in and telling me I have to put my animals in a five-star hotel." And this: "We do believe that their ultimate agenda is to end man's dominion over animal." (Both comments appeared in Scene's October 14 article "Rattling Cages.") Grossly exaggerating opponents' aims and resorting to biblical references are cynical moves intended to frighten and mislead, and should never be rewarded with votes.

Thanks in part to books like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and documentaries like Food Inc., more and more Americans are beginning to ask questions about the food they eat — how it's raised or grown, and how those processes affect the environment. Admittedly, animal-rights activists whose agendas include banning certain livestock-raising practices are seizing this opportunity to spread their messages. But that's democracy; the most compelling ideas survive and become law. To allow the deep-pocketed farm industry to render any such debate in Ohio moot before it's even gotten started would be undemocratic and unwise. Even the Ohio Farmers Union (ohfarmersunion.org) says that passing Issue 2 would be nothing more than "cementing corporate agribusiness into the Ohio Constitution." Vote no on Issue 2. — Lewis

Issue 3

NO, BUT

Once again, the glittering promises/dark threats that always swarm around casino-gambling issues are flying: Look! It's Dan Gilbert, the magician who brought us LeBron James — surely we can trust him to transform Cleveland's economy with casino gambling. Oh no! Addiction! Crime! And didn't you hear that Gilbert was involved in some kind of betting scandal — when he was in college?

The lure of betting profits always draws out heated rhetoric. Each ballot measure tries to slip past the voters by pretending it's about something else. This one is tagged "Ohio Jobs and Growth." But the promise of jobs and a new tax revenue stream, and the threats of crime and broken families, are all beside the point. There's really one key issue: Like the last several gambling issues, this is a constitutional amendment that the would-be gaming operators (this year, it's Gilbert and Penn National Gaming; next year, it'll be someone else) have written to put a sweet deal and a monopoly for themselves into our governing document. Once it's in place, they'll almost certainly spend hundreds of millions to guarantee that their monopoly can't be challenged.

Issue 3 is a profit grab by private interests, and it should be defeated. Then — and here's where the "but" comes in — Ohioans need to end the parade of deceitful gambling ballot measures with a frank discussion about repealing the gambling ban. We're already skirting it in so many ways. It's time we stopped pretending gambling doesn't exist in Ohio and deal with regulating it in a fair and open way. — Pantsios

Issue 4

YES

Issues 3, 5 and 6 are all making hard-to-assess promises of economic development. Issue 4 virtually guarantees economic growth by providing the thing workers and businesses alike need the most: education. Issue 4 is Cuyahoga Community College's every-five-years replacement levy. The levy system cuts the middleman out of democracy, but it also makes beggars of institutions that unquestionably deserve our support. This year, in addition to the 1.6 mills for replacement funding, Tri-C needs another .3 mills, due to decreasing state funding and skyrocketing demand. Enrollment is at an all-time high, and the recent high-school grads, returning war vets and displaced workers filling Tri-C's classrooms are overwhelmingly fellow Cuyahoga County residents for whom Tri-C is often the only affordable choice for higher education or retraining. And skilled, educated workers are key in attracting new business and growing old business. So don't quibble over "yet another tax" — it'll cost about $18 per year on a $100,000 home. Vote yes on Issue 4 and help your neighbors. We're all in this together.

Lewis and Pantsios

Issue 5

NO

This was our toughest call. We are loathe to take a stand against a thoughtful and inclusive approach to county government reform, but we fear that any discussion would be poisoned by the ongoing corruption probe and by the rhetoric of the Issue 6 crowd (see below). We need to take a break from the matter and come back to it with cool heads and fresh eyes. So with all due respect to commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, whose intentions we support, we urge you to vote no on Issue 5. — Lewis

Issue 6

NO

In August we reported on growing frustration among local politicians with Northeast Ohio's state representatives and senators. They have a bad habit of voting against their constituents' best interests, as if the atmosphere in Columbus clouded their judgment. State representative Eugene Miller admitted that things do look different from there, but noted a factor we hadn't considered before: term limits. By the time legislators are getting comfortable with issues and procedures, he said, "You're gone."

Term limits were the result the last time voters got so thoroughly fed up with their elected officials that they wanted to throw everyone out and start from scratch. This year, in Cuyahoga County, we have Issue 6, which calls for a radical remaking of county government. But little of what we've heard from Issue 6's backers holds up under scrutiny, as revealed in reporting by Scene's Anastasia Pantsios (page 11) and Damian Guevara (page 16). Behind vague declarations about needing change now and promises of economic growth and savings, there are more questions than answers.

But the most fundamental and compelling reason for rejecting Issue 6 is the simplest: It does nothing to prevent the kind of corruption that has plagued Cuyahoga County and which has fueled this rushed and transparent power-grab. Attributing the sins of Jimmy Dimora, Frank Russo and others to the structure of county government comes dangerously close to excusing what they did and only encourages future abuses. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge said it best: "Systems aren't corrupt; people are corrupt."

Vote no on Issue 6. — Lewis

scene@clevescene.com

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