• The Marietta Times, Aug. 26
A special kind of drug pushers are responsible for much of the misery inflicted upon many addicts in West Virginia. They are health care providers — doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others — who have special access to opioid painkillers and a screen of legitimacy behind which to hide while they profit from their deadly wares.
This week, one of the most notorious of them got at least some of his just desserts. Dr. Michael Kostenko, who had operated the Coal Country Clinic in Raleigh County, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after admitting to one count of distributing oxycodone without a legitimate medical purpose.
Good for the judge who sentenced Kostenko to a lengthy prison term. Let us hope other judges, both in state and federal courts, use that as a model when health care providers turned pusher stand before them.
• The Columbus Dispatch, Aug. 27
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio’s chronically underachieving and overcharging online school, is proposing a transformation. Not one to improve it and help it graduate more students; one to lower its standards even further so that it can stay in business.
The question Ohioans should be asking is whether state law should have standards so low as to enable such a cynical maneuver.
It’s safe to suggest, however, that any charter school from which 92 percent of students leave without diplomas isn’t working and shouldn’t continue to receive taxpayer support.
Lawmakers should appoint experts to set new standards for dropout-recovery schools that recognize their special challenges but still expect success for more than a fraction of students. Otherwise, why bother?
As for ECOT, its latest bid to survive is a fresh demonstration of the nerve of its founder and chief beneficiary, William J. Lager. This is the same school that got caught billing taxpayers for two-and-a-half times as many students as actually logged in and participated meaningfully. The school is fighting the state’s effort to claw back $60 million in undeserved payments from one school year alone.
• The (Toledo) Blade, Aug. 28
A fairgoer named Karen Wood was shocked to see Confederate flags for sale at this year’s Wood County Fair. She has asked the fair board to ban Confederate flag sales at future fairs.
She is right to worry about the flag, and the feelings it evokes today, both in people attracted and those repulsed.
But she is wrong about the solution.
Display of the Confederate flag is free speech. And it is best countered by more free speech.
To some people, the Confederate flag remains a tribute to southern heritage. To others, it merely symbolizes rebellion. Many people do not know the history of the flag, and many others do not understand its appropriation, including, most recently, in Charlottesville.
They need to be engaged. They need to meet people who are the descendants of slaves and hear what the Confederate flag today means to them. Or meet Ms. Haley, a Republican whose parents were Indian immigrants who wore a turban and sari, respectively. She said all people who come to the South Carolina State House need to feel welcome.
By the same token, liberals need to meet some folks from Mississippi and Alabama whose ancestors did fight in the Civil War, not because of race hatred or racism, but duty.
• The (Ashtabula) Star-Beacon, Aug. 27
Next month, leaders across Ashtabula County — from civic organizations to non-profits to churches and more — are coming together to promote a “Week of Hope.” It’s the kind of leadership we can’t see enough of from or for this community.
The committee, spearheaded by State Rep. John Patterson, was formed in the wake of the tragic murder of 13-year-old Kara Zdanczewski in May. Patterson said after talking with school officials and city leaders they wanted to find a way to not only bring the community together to heal, but to highlight all the good things that are going on in the county.
To some, this happy, hopeful talk will seem naive. We all know the drug problem is a scourge that is eroding our community, and we must fight it vigilantly. Almost all of the negative problems affecting the region can be traced to the drug epidemic in some way — either as cause or symptom. However, it is worth noting more than occasionally that the bad things happening in the county are not the only things. There are many reasons to be hopeful and to embrace positivity — and avoiding the pitfalls and despair of hopelessness is one of the biggest.