News, notes & opinions: March 2016

I hope About readers know about Jethro, the Canton police K-9 who died in early January after being shot in an encounter with an alleged would-be burglar at a Canton grocery store. Repository readers sure know about him.

More coverage for police K-9 Jethro

I hope About readers know about Jethro, the Canton police K-9 who died in early January after being shot in an encounter with an alleged would-be burglar at a Canton grocery store. Repository readers sure know about him. The newspaper did several stories on the K-9 following the incident and its aftermath, including comprehensive coverage of a memorial service at Canton Memorial Civic Center that drew hundreds of people from across the country. Readers embraced the story online and in print in numbers we haven’t seen on a news story in quite some time.

I’ve been working for newspapers for more than 25 years, and not much surprises me anymore. In general, people love dogs and stories about them. And—love or hate the police—stories about them are nearly always highly read and often hotly debated.

But I was genuinely floored by the vitriol of some regarding The Rep’s coverage of Jethro.

One woman, in an anonymous phone message, was “shocked” that we had “the audacity” to refer to Jethro at one point as “a K-9 officer” because that belittled her husband who, in her words, for years had been “a real police officer.”

Charita Goshay wrote a touching commentary on the memorial service—she was one of five Rep journalists who helped cover that event—and received a similarly themed email from a reader. And there were a few more such comments on The Rep’s Facebook page and elsewhere on social media.

Their general message was “Why does The Rep keep writing about Jethro? Isn’t there something better to be writing about?”

Not from where I sat. If anything, we probably should have written more.

Did I mention I’ve been doing this for 25-plus years? I suppose I also should mention that I’ve been dealing with online commenters for about 10 years, and that decade has taught me that there’s always a troll or two hiding under a rock out there ready to complain about just about anything.

Even about one heroic police officer—through no fault of his own, he was a little shaggier than most of his colleagues—tragically killed while working to protect all of us.
—Scott Brown


Do you like them, or do you ‘like’ them?

If real life were like Facebook, then I would have a lot more friends, and I would be able to give them each the attention they deserve without losing too much of my own time.

“Hey, Jim, how’s it going?”

“I just got a new car.”

“Like,” I would say, pointing at him and continuing down the street.

“Tammy, it’s been forever! How’s it going?”

“Well, after 20 years, I just lost my job,” she would lament.

I would shake my head.

“Like,” I would say supportively with a tilt of my head before moving on. “I’d love to stay longer, Tammy, but there are some movie trailers I was hoping to watch in the bathroom.”

“Thank you,” she would say. “You are the 20th person today to tell me that.”

Facebook has both expanded our community and simplified it. “Like” has become our common word and has taken on many meanings.

You’re having a baby? “Like.”

You hate Mondays? “Like.”

You lost your car keys? “Like.”

Facebook allows me to keep in touch with people I have little interest in keeping touch with in the real world. It allows me to measure my own life against theirs without having to hide my joy or defeat.
It’s similar to an endless high school yearbook, and I keep signing “have a great summer.”

But, I do wonder how others perceive their “likes.” When someone’s loved one dies, is it insensitive to “like” it?

Part of me wants to leave a disclaimer. “I don’t really ‘like’ your pain, but Facebook doesn’t have a ‘sorry for your loss’ button.”

Sure, I could just leave a comment on a post, but I hate to bring pen and paper into the situation. “We took one class together in college. Let’s not go crazy here.”

For those friends who actually do exist in my real life, I’ll comment.

—Dave Manley


Think before you vote

President Harry Truman’s most famous quote was short, easily remembered and often repeated. “The buck stops here.” Another quote from Truman, while not nearly as catchy, also stands the test of time. As we barrel toward primary election day and the choosing of candidates for the general election this fall, these words remain worthy of thoughtful deliberation:

“In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Which of the many candidates are courageous enough to make the tough choices, stand on principle and not simply tell us what we want to hear? Who among them are skillful? Who have mastered the art of compromise, of negotiation, of finding the best solutions to real problems for the benefit of the many and not the few?

These questions aren’t limited to the vote for president. Primary races among Democrats and Republicans for a seat on the board of Stark County commissioners hold significance for this region, too. There’s also an important Democratic primary for state representative for the Greater Canton area.

Before casting that ballot, take an extra moment to consider who has the courage and skill to seize the opportunity to change things for the better. Most importantly: Vote!
—Rich Desrosiers

What’s going in across from the Civic Center?

If you’ve been wondering what is going on across the street from the Canton Memorial Civic Center on Market Avenue N, join the crowd. The property there used to house a car lot owned by Dick Kempthorn. For the better part of the last year, the dealership and the city of Canton used the land as a staging ground for infrastructure and street-scaping improvements along 12th Street.

Now there is a sold sign on the property and a fence around it.

Neilson Property, Ltd., bought the property for $700,000 in November. Neilson is a property management company.

Everyone familiar with the purchase fully expects a new Wendy’s restaurant to occupy the vacant land. That means the current Wendy’s across the street likely will close, and employees will move into a newer-style Wendy’s, similar to the one that just opened on 30th Street NW.

That begs the question: What will happen with the current Wendy’s?

This is complete conjecture, but I would bet the city is interested in buying it to expand the footprint of Canton Memorial Civic Center. Or perhaps some other development company with an already large investment in Stark County.
—Todd Porter


The race to watch

If you’re looking for a race to watch and really home in on this election year and you want to focus on something closer to home than the presidential race, there will be a hotly contested race for the 49th District State Representative seat. Democrat Stephen D. Slesnick holds the current Ohio House seat, but he can’t run again because of term limits.

Two Democrats—Thomas West and Joyce Healy-Abrams—are running against each other in the primary. The winner will face Republican Dan McMasters, who is a newcomer to elected office, but McMasters is well-connected and knows the area better than most. This will be a tough race for anyone to win, and it won’t be for the politically faint of heart.
—Todd Porter