Dear Editor We’re extremely disappointed that the Ohio House would gut an effective 10-year-old bipartisan law at the request of the debt settlement industry. It should raise eyebrows that during committee hearings, the industry trade group was the sole proponent of the bill, while numerous pro-consumer groups offered compelling arguments against the bill. HB 173 is a bad deal for consumers and Ohio doesn’t need it. We already have effective regulation for the debt settlement industry in the 2004 Ohio Debt Adjusters Act, which was put in place for a reason. While industry would have you believe HB 173 adds regulations to keep out “bad actors,” this is a smoke screen. HB 173 includes safeguards that are already in effect under the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule of 2010. In exchange for these existing safeguards, industry wants a carve-out from the ODA’s 8.5 percent rate cap. This clever sleight of hand reflects the kind of behavior that prompted the Better Business Bureau to call debt settlement an “inherently problematic business model.” Today, an industry with a flawed business model and an abhorrent track record is one step closer to being able to charge whatever they want from debt-ridden clients. COHHIO has spent the past 20 years working on housing policy initiatives, and the past decade on consumer protection issues. HB 173 runs directly counter to our consumer protection efforts. Bill Faith Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing (COHHIO) Dear Editor We can't wait to see the most recent writings from the local, national and international rakemuckers who dare rake where no one has raked before. We are wanting the paper for distribution out east if you can get us some on a timely fashion! I hope things are progressing well and thanks for the great coverage of stories that no one ever dares to touch. You put Columbus on the map. All else is just frivolous dressing! Stephen C Pataskala Dear Editor, Because your paper has such a balanced take on many subjects, it is surprising that the Columbus Free Press seems to have such a pep-rally point of view in its sports stories. Please consider the bodily, social, economic, and cultural damages of sports locally and around the world. For example, high school football is creating brain injuries in sixteen-year-olds. Basketball creates self-centeredness in participants. Pro baseball creates poverty in the Caribbean. You might say sports are for losers. Please bring a more considered view to your sports coverage. Thanks. Randall Nichols Columbus, OH Dear Editor When the "Stand Your Ground" bill becomes law here in Ohio, I propose the following- requiring all black and brown-skinned male youth between the ages of 16 to 24 to wear a specially-designed, stylish shirt, sweater and/or jacket, depending on the season of the year. Said garment will contain a large bulls-eye, both on the front and the back of the garment. Colors may vary- black, white, yellow, green, red, orange, chartruese- concentric circles, allowing the young black or brown-skinned male suspect to be both a target and make a fashion statement, all at the same time. This modest clothing requirement seems only fitting, since the passage of this bill will declare 'Open Season!' on all young men of color here in Ohio. That being the case, why not make it a bit easier for all the Great White Hunters out there to spot their prey? And if this seems too unfair and one-sided, then make the Great White Hunters wear white robes and pointy white hats, to even the playing field. Thad Woodman Westerville Dear Editor And now for the introspective exercise of criticizing some people I agree with a lot: The Columbus Free Press: I'm sorry, but you were wrong to recently suggest that John Kasich stole the 2010 Ohio Governor's Election. Ohio had a great progressive Democrat, Jennifer Brunner, as our Secretary of State at the time. She appropriately respected the democratic franchise greatly. It was a close election, I voted for the side that lost. That means I have to admit to myself that the ideas I favor don't always have the support of the people. One of the saddest, stupidest problems with GOP officials today is they think the people are always with them, when the truth is far more complicated. It's unfortunate my side lost that year but I know that at other times before and since they have had the support of the people and we can renew and earn it back again if we make the right case to the people. I disagree with Kasich and would love to see Fitzgerald win next year, but that doesn't mean Kasich stole an election. Jordan Smith Columbus Editor's response: As a former international election observer reporting to the United Nations, I learned that the international gold standard for a free and fair election is the exit poll. The exit polls in the 2010 gubernatorial race showed that Governor Strickland won re-election. Moreover, I personally witnessed massive disenfranchisement of student voters in the OSU campus area as well as unexplained voter purges between the 2004 and 2008 elections. Over 1.25 million Ohio voters were purged from the rolls. Many of them were eligible to vote. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's own election machine study that a single hand-held device could influence the results of a statewide election in Ohio. A notorious private company, Triad, run by the right-wing Rapp family were heavily involved in county election machine maintenance and in setting up electronic poll books throughout Ohio. If we were any other democracy, the exit polls would have inspired an instant large-scale investigation. As long as we allow private, partisan for-profit companies to secretly code our election software and maintain our election hardware we are inviting election theft.

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