Moving forward ...
Now that Defiance County's courthouse project is officially back on track -- officials decided Monday to move forward with a $5 million renovation -- detailed planning is about to get underway by the Columbus architectural firm DLZ. That company already has completed preliminary work, which was discussed extensively before the decision to proceed further.
Renovation will not be a perfect solution for the 140-year-old building, but it will solve many problems for a long time. Our hope is that the architect works as closely as possible with the elected officials using the building to ensure that as many of these issues are addressed now.
The conventional wisdom is that a renovation will be good for the next 40 years or so. But it is difficult to say how many decades this might prove adequate for the three main offices in the courthouse -- the clerk of courts, common pleas court and juvenile/probate court. Perhaps, it could be longer.
Commissioners indicate that the final product is going to be something quite inspiring. We share that hope, for this is an important project for the community which would undo some of the poor decisions made when the building was last renovated in the 1950s.
What does it say about the state of Russia today when the official state news agency is dissolved to make way for another that presumably will toady up more reliably to President Vladimir Putin?
RIA Novosti, which had acquired a certain credibility for fact-based reporting, must have been too credible and too serious for its government sponsor.
So with a flick of his pen, Putin dissolved RIA Novosti and announced the creation of Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) to be headed by former news anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, a Putin loyalist and unrepentant homophobe (who has made public comments demanding homosexuals be banned from donating organs for transplants).
Reporting on its own demise, RIA said in its English-language version of Putin's actions, "The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia's news landscape which appear to point towards a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector."
Putin's decree said the main focus of Rossiya Segodnya "is to highlight abroad the state policy and public life of the Russian Federation."
Just what the world -- and Russia -- needs more of: propaganda. Russian media is already replete with happy talk and trivia passing for "news." Its television programming -- which remains influential in all Russian-speaking elements of the old Soviet Union, including Central Asia -- gives new meaning to the old term "vast wasteland."
Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets -- and tore down a statue of Lenin last weekend -- to protest the turn toward Moscow of their own president? The old Soviet handwriting is on the wall. But a generation raised with new freedoms and new ways of communicating wants no part of it.
An American president who actually stood for American values would hear their pleas and tell them they still have a friend in the United States.
Foster care age
Ohio could make a dent in the tide of homelessness and other problems that befall foster-care teenagers after they age out of their homes by extending the age when foster care ends from 18 to 21.
A number of states have done so recently, including Nebraska and Michigan, thanks to a federal law that provides significant resources to help defray the cost.
Intuitively, that makes sense. Few parents would push their teenagers or even 20-somethings out of the nest without further contact and support and expect them to do well on their own, points out Gary Strangler, CEO of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative based in St. Louis.
Foster kids face special obstacles, often coming from biological families where abuse, neglect and abandonment make it even more difficult to be successful, independent young adults.
Yet regardless of those obstacles, Ohio's foster care children are now "emancipated" from the system after they reach the age of 18.
That's where the federal government comes in. Under a 2008 law, the feds have sweetened the pot by paying half the foster-care costs for any state that extends the age, encouraging Florida, California, Michigan, Nebraska and other states to take the leap.
That's why allowing 18-year-olds to stay in foster care for a few more years should be the law of the land.
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer