Ohio’s foster care crisis, Lake Erie water quality, and the statute of limitations for rape

    History Thursday

    Y’all already know that I’m a history nut, but I also love baseball. Today we combine the two. The next two weeks we’ll be running History Thursday commentary for Black History Month. This week, Rob Ruck covers the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues and what it meant to Black America.

    Foster care crisis. Talia Naquin of WJW in Cleveland is reporting, “Opioid epidemic pushes Ohio to the brink of foster care crisis.”

    “Ohio, like many other states, is seeing an increasing number of children in the foster care system. That’s largely due to the opioid crisis. Substance abuse has led to more and more children in unsafe or unstable home environments.

    “When they can’t be placed with family members, they go to foster homes.

    “Now, there is a greater need than ever for foster parents.

    “Katerina Papas with Summit County Children Services (SCCS) says there are more than 800 children in just that county in agency custody and fewer than 200 licensed foster families.”
    Lake Erie. The Toledo Blade’s Tom Henry is reporting the Lucas County Commissioners “thank DeWine, slam Trump over their recent water quality decisions.

    “The all-Democratic Board of Lucas County Commissioners publicly thanked Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday for embracing a strong, rules-driven western Lake Erie cleanup strategy that environmentalists have wanted and big agriculture has opposed for years.

    “But at the same news conference, held Tuesday morning inside One Government Center, Commissioner Pete Gerken said the Trump Administration’s recent rollback of an important wetlands rule threatens to undo progress being made toward improving northwest Ohio water quality.

    “Mr. Gerken also said he believes it’s time for the county board to call for a moratorium on new or expanded permits for livestock facilities large enough to be classified by the state of Ohio as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Those and similar type facilities have been blamed by politicians and activists for contributing heavily to western Lake Erie algal blooms, but many scientists have said there has not been direct evidence established to prove that.”
    Limitations. Cleveland.com’s Leila Atassi is writing, “Statehouse sexism thwarts bill to abolish Ohio’s statute of limitations on rape.”

    “Nearly a decade ago, while working on a special reporting project examining how Cleveland police for years had marginalized sexual assault victims — failing to test evidence or follow through on investigations — this cynical thought occurred to me: If men, rather than women and girls, were the primary victims of those crimes, rape would be considered a true public health epidemic, and every available government resource would be committed to addressing it.

    “Since then, a statewide DNA testing initiative has gone far toward resolving massive backlogs of untested sexual assault evidence kits. And the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have ushered in a national reckoning with the prevalence of sexual assault in America and the ways in which trauma, social stigma and other forces conspire to prevent victims from coming forward, sometimes for many years.

    “In short, there was reason to believe that, as a society, we were finally evolving.

    “But the unfair way in which the male-dominated Ohio Statehouse is handling two proposed bills dealing with statutes of limitations in sexual assault cases, has renewed my belief that sexism and a lack of empathy for women and girls continue to guide public policy when it comes to sex crimes.”

    David C. DeWitt
    David C. DeWitt is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience covering Ohio politics and policy. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS and Plunderbund.com covering topics such as education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, government, business, labor, energy, environment and social issues. His work has also appeared in Government Executive, the Columbus Dispatch, Girlfriends magazine, Bleacher Report and the Ashtabula Star Beacon, among others.