Legislative Education

Early education sometimes involves the teaching of a game called “musical chairs”. Young children love it. Newark’s State Representative has been involved in a game of musical chairs with his State Senate counterpart Tim Schaffer for quite some time. Unlike the early childhood version, when the music stops they both have a seat. This fall’s election looks to be no different. Ohio’s 71st district state representative began playing this game almost exactly 20 years ago. Back then the hot button issue was equitable state wide education as spelled out by the Ohio constitution. Jay Hottinger promised to act on that demand and was elected on his promise.

K-12 education once utilized print newspapers in various writing, history and social studies classes. Reading a paper can be quite educational. Mr. Hottinger chooses to utilize this platform to educate his constituency. He often submits letters to the opinions/editorial section of The Newark Advocate. On Sep. 28, 2013 he educated central Ohio on just what a large number a billion is. It was entitled “Nation’s debt problem demands action”. Today he also wants to impress us with his grasp of big numbers. “Opioid drug epidemic more deadly than Vietnam War” (Mar. 19, 2014) once again “demands action” on big number claims (“opioid and prescription drug deaths are on pace to cause 23 times the number of casualties than what was seen in the Vietnam War”). Other big numbers submitted were 367, 13 and 170. (“House Bill 367 was one of several ideas that originated last summer during the House study committee hearings. The bill passed the House almost unanimously and awaits further consideration in the Senate. House Bill 367 is one of approximately 13 bills involving opioid addiction that have been introduced throughout this General Assembly. Of those, one, House Bill 170, has been signed by the governor.”)

That same governor has suggested incorporating business and government leaders within our school curricula as educators. Though he may be passionately committed to education, Analysis hopes the current 71st district state representative never embraces the governor’s challenge. This recent attempt at educating his constituency would leave most public school students totally baffled. Analysis would like to know what were the number of casualties of the Viet Nam War? Only the dead? Those scarred physically, emotionally and spiritually? Participants as well as associates? When did the count begin? Has it ever ended? Likewise the various cited house bills — what, in Mr. Hottinger’s words, are they about? Just what were these “several ideas”? Or is this, like the ingredients of fracking fluids, proprietary information, disclosed on a need to know basis only? Analysis pays for subscriptions to news media in order to learn about problems facing our community. Constituents pay legislators’ salaries to enact solutions to these problems, not to redundantly parrot the news media’s role of informing that someone needs to act. Finally, what would leave most students squirming in their seats is just exactly what are opioid drugs? In his own words, what does Mr. Hottinger mean by “Opioid drugs”? Is he talking about prescription pain medication, over prescribed and too easily available since the Viet Nam War? The news media cites this as the number one source of addiction in the US today. It has likewise been given the status of number one gateway drug to addiction. Is this what he means when he calls attention to the problem of “Opioid drugs”? If it is, what keeps him from speaking plainly and directly? If not, who or what is he referring to?

Solutions? Analysis finds none in this didactic self-promotional. During the time our 71st district state representative was a corporate sales leader wannabe, the scourge of methamphetamine was a well acknowledged problem that demanded action. The relationship to ephedrine was clear and understood. The manufacturers of ephedrine medications, both prescribed as well as over the counter, did everything possible to successfully keep from being regulated or restrained. The bottom line of the free market trumped the public good, costing enormous casualties. Does Mr. Hottinger propose to address this problem in terms of its relation to the pharmaceutical industry? Will our corporate sales leader sell us a bill of goods on the precedence of the economy and free market over that of the public welfare? The answer is nowhere to be found in this legislator’s educational lesson.

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