Symphony Turns 40


Staff & Wire Reports



The Central Ohio Symphony announces the 40th Anniversary Season

With its season ticket brochures arriving in mailboxes all over central Ohio, the Central Ohio Symphony announced its 40th concert season with Conductor Jaime Morales-Matos on the podium for his 16th year with the orchestra.

“Season 40 will offer a lot of musical excitement to concertgoers,” said Executive Director Warren W. Hyer. “We have a brilliant schedule of music ranging from great traditional composers to new, exciting composers, as well as truly unique guest artists. In honor of our 40th season, each concert will also feature a unique original fanfare.”

“We’re proud to have been serving central Ohio audiences for four decades,” said Hyer, reflecting on the milestone season. “We’re excited for the anniversary season. This is a great accomplishment for the Symphony to serve the people of central Ohio.”

The 40th season will present the following:

Debut Concert, Saturday, October 20, 2018, 7:30 p.m.:

Fanfare for the 40th Season No. 1 by Noah Goulet;

Tembanduma’s Court Dance, by Sonia Morales-Matos, with guest artists Rolando Morales and Yuri Yamashita Morales, percussionists;

Pajaides for Cuatro and Orchestra, also by Morales-Matos, with guest artist Maribel Delgado;

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Symphony No. 2.

Holiday Concert, Sunday, December 9, 2018, 2:00 & 4:30 p.m.: two identical concerts of seasonal music, with Fanfare for the 40th Season No. 2 and special guest artist Kristen Basore.

Sunday, March 31, 2019, 3:00 p.m.:

Fanfare for the 40th Season No. 3 by Ben Goldberg;

Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi, with guest artists Keyona Willis, Emily Spencer, John Nevergail, Michael Young, and the Ohio Wesleyan Choral Arts Society and Capriccio Columbus.

· Saturday, April 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m., “Local Focus” Presented by PNC Arts Alive:

Fanfare for the 40th Season No. 4 by Danny Clay;

George Gershwin, Concerto in F with guest artist Jacob Miller;

Olympic Park by Jennifer Jolley, a world premiere to accompany the world premiere film Chasing Light by National Park Trust photographer Frank Ruggles;

Untitled by Lauren Spavelko, a world premiere also to accompany the film Chasing Light;

Anton Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 (From the New World).

All concerts take place in Gray Chapel auditorium on the Ohio Wesleyan University campus in Delaware.

Season subscription ticket prices for Season 40 are $80.00 for the four concert series. First-time subscribers may purchase season tickets for half price in certain sections of the auditorium. Subscribers may purchase season tickets online, by telephone, or just by walking in the door of the Symphony office at 24 E. Winter Street in downtown Delaware. The Symphony holds seats for the prior year’s subscribers until September 15, after which the staff will fill season ticket orders on a “first come, first served” basis.

More information about ordering season tickets may be found on the Symphony website at www.centralohiosymphony.org, at the Symphony office at 24 E. Winter Street, or by calling the Symphony at 740-362-1799.

Westerville Symphony Presents “A Soldier’s Tale”

Westerville Symphony Presents Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat

September 28, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s seminal chamber work L’Histoire du Soldat (A Soldier’s Tale). The Westerville Symphony, conducted by Peter Stafford Wilson, celebrates this important milestone with three free performances:

9/28 at 8 pm in Riley Auditorium at Otterbein University

9/29 at 1 pm at The Columbus Museum of Art (free with museum admission, free concert tickets, due to limited seating, are required and available through the CMA website)

9/30 at 3 pm at The Short North Stage.

Written when the world had been at war for almost four years, at the cusp of the avantgarde movement, Stravinsky’s work was ground-breaking not only in its musical innovation, but also of his blending of different artistic disciplines. Written as a “narrative ballet in five scenes to be read, played and danced” set to the story of Faust, Stravinsky’s aim was to write a small-scale multi-dimensional work that would travel easily to different venues and our series of concerts does just that.

Normally performed as a half hour suite, the Westerville Symphony stages L’Histoire du Soldat in the original hour long version with actors and a dancer, facilitated through collaborations with the greater Columbus artistic community. The three actor roles are played by Steven Anderson (CATCO) and Christopher Purdy and Jennifer Hambrick (WOSU). Jessica Brown (BalletMet) will dance the role of the princess with original choreography by Atilla Bongar. The musicians are all faculty members at Otterbein University. Our production also adds a fourth “seen” element by way of an original computer-generated animation designed by Tyler Newby, a recent graduate and faculty member at the Columbus College of Art and Design. The animation touches on the big themes of the story and one wonders if Igor Stravinsky, very much a forward-thinking composer, would have embraced the computer-enhanced medium available in 2018.

Big anniversaries remind us of times past and present. Marking the 100th anniversary of the premiere of L’Histoire du Soldat, written at a time of tremendous artistic growth and experimentation, recognizes its importance in the classical chamber music cannon and retrospective look at this turbulent time in our shared human history.

For more information about event details please contact Executive Director Hild Peersen at hild@westervillesymphony.org

About the Westerville Symphony at Otterbein University:

The Westerville Symphony at Otterbein University provides exemplary symphonic performances to audiences in central Ohio, and music education in Westerville and surrounding communities.

Fedor: Too little, too late on ECOT recovery from DeWine

AUG. 21, 2018

COLUMBUS— Education advocate and state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) today issued the following statement on Attorney General Mike DeWine’s announcement he is asking the courts to pursue recovery of some $60 million in stolen taxpayer funds from now defunct online charter school ECOT:

“Taxpayers are right to be concerned that they may never receive a return on their eighty-million dollar investment into an online charter school that was more concerned about padding the pockets of politicians like Mike DeWine instead of providing education opportunities to our children.

“Because public pressure and bad headlines have backed Mike DeWine into the smallest political corner, he has only now felt it important to recover millions of stolen taxpayer dollars. When Ohio officials were fraudulently changing letter grades to get ECOT more taxpayer dollars for kids who never attended school, Mike DeWine did nothing and let the trail go cold.

“But now, the books have already been cooked, the fraudsters have skipped town, and there’s likely next-to-nothing of taxpayers’ hard-earned money to claw back from the defunct and shuttered online charter. This should be a wakeup call to all elected officials to put people first over powerful political donors from the moment they put their hand on the bible and swear to uphold the constitution.”

West Nile Virus Confirmed in Ohio Horses

Ohio Department of Agriculture

Diseases spread by mosquitoes are preventable in horses with proper vaccination

(REYNOLDSBURG, OH) August 21, 2018– The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the first positive cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Ohio horses for 2018. Two cases in Northeast Ohio have been confirmed and the animals had not been vaccinated. The spread of WNV in horses is preventable with proper vaccination and horse owners are urged to ensure their animal’s vaccine and boosters are up to date.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to horses via bites from infected mosquitoes. Clinical signs for WNV include flu-like symptoms, where the horse seems mildly anorexic and depressed. Changes in mentality, drowsiness, driving or pushing forward (often without control) and asymmetrical weakness may be observed. Mortality rate from WNV can be as high as 30-40 percent in horses. Infection with WNV does not always lead to signs of illness in people or animals. WNV is endemic in the United States and Ohio has reported positive cases in horses each of the last few years. There were 14 confirmed cases of WNV in Ohio in 2017.

“My message to horse owners is simple: vaccinate your animals and you can protect against West Nile Virus,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “Vaccines are a proven and effective prevention tool and I encourage all owners to talk to their veterinarian to learn how they can easily keep their animals healthy.”

In addition to vaccinations, horse owners should work to reduce the mosquito population and eliminate possible breeding areas. Recommendations include: removing stagnant water sources; keeping animals inside during the bugs’ feeding times, which are typically early in the morning and evening; and using mosquito repellents.

Land and Water Conservation Funds

Available for Ohio Communities

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will be accepting new grant applications for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) until Thursday, Nov. 15. Local government entities, such as villages, counties, park districts and cities, may now apply for up to $500,000 for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of public outdoor recreational areas. This funding, provided through the National Park Service, will help communities improve public parks and preserve green space.

ODNR administers the federal LWCF grant program for Ohio. This fund provides up to 50 percent reimbursement assistance. Many local parks that Ohioans enjoy today were made possible through this federal program, which has awarded more than $152 million to projects in Ohio since its inception in 1965.

To download a grant application or learn more about the LWCF, go to realestate.ohiodnr.gov/outdoor-recreation-facility-grants.

Schools Need Resources, Not ‘School Resource Officers’

Turning schools into prisons means sending kids to real-life prisons. There are better ways to keep students safe.

By Lidwina Bell | August 22, 2018

After a school year marred by shootings, districts across the country have responded this year with calls for more “school resource officers” in classrooms. As a result, many students are returning to schools that feel more like prisons — and in fact form a quick pipeline to real prisons.

School resource officers, or SROs, are armed law enforcement officers who police hallways and classrooms. They often arrest students for minor disciplinary issues, as a new Institute for Policy Studies report called Students Under Siege explains. These officers are part of the larger school-to-prison pipeline that pushes students out of school and behind bars.

The very students SROs are supposed to protect are often the ones most harmed by them. In addition to referring kids to the juvenile justice system, SROs have been repeatedly filmed violently mistreating black and brown girls in particular.

That’s why many students say SROs aren’t the answer to school shootings.

At the March for Our Lives, Edna Chavez, a student from Los Angeles, spoke out against adding more SROs: “Instead of making black and brown students feel safe,” she complained, “they continue to profile and criminalize us.”

Chavez called for a different approach. “We should have a department specializing in restorative justice,” she said. “We need to tackle the root causes of the issues we face, and come to an understanding on how to resolve them.”

Restorative justice (or RJ) treats incidents in which people are harmed (like, say, school fights) as requiring healing rather than punishment. It focuses on the actual harm that occurred and the need for healing, rather than on the breaking of a rule.

When an incident arises, the parties come together for a restorative circle that includes students, staff, community members, and a restorative justice practitioner. They address the harms together and try to arrive at a solution.

A growing number of school districts nationwide, from Oakland, California to Washington, D.C., are implementing these practices.

When there’s a conflict, participants meet to discuss the circumstances, identify the support they need, and consent to a healing process. They talk until they arrive at a mutual understanding of why the harm occurred and agree on steps toward addressing it to everyone’s satisfaction.

Ta-Biti Gibson, a restorative justice coordinator in Oakland, told NPR how restorative justice changes the way students approach conflict in his school: “Instead of throwing a punch, they’re asking for a circle, they’re backing off and asking to mediate it peacefully with words.”

When two students got into a fight at Gibson’s school, the students “circled up” and agreed to write and put up anti-bullying posters, participate in after-school service, and do joint morning announcements with tips on how students can get along better.

At the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., this restorative process is led by the students themselves.

By using a restorative approach, the students aren’t only held accountable for their actions — they get an opportunity to contribute to a safer and more inclusive school community. This opportunity is missed when SROs get involved.

Resource officers are a resource only by name. What would it look like if our schools were actually resourced?

In a well-resourced school, students are safe because staff can invest in their well-being. “Accountability” isn’t separated from a student’s ability to heal, thrive, and uplift the whole community. And students don’t wind up in jail or with a record for routine school incidents.

One SRO can cost up to $97,000. Instead of hiring officers that see students as criminals, schools can use that money for real school resources — mental health workers and restorative justice practitioners, to name a few — who build students up rather than push them out.

Lidwina Bell is a Next Leader at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

Just Around the Corner

Canada goose and teal seasons start Sept. 1

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio hunters are invited to enjoy early waterfowl seasons for Canada goose and teal that begin on Saturday, Sept. 1, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Hunters are reminded to check regulations for changes to rules, season dates and bag limits as the 2018 fall seasons begin. A summary of Ohio’s hunting and trapping regulations is available where licenses are sold, at the ODNR Division of Wildlife offices and at wildohio.gov.

In addition to the early waterfowl seasons for Canada goose and teal, squirrel, dove, rail, snipe and gallinule seasons also open the 2018 fall hunting season on Saturday, Sept. 1. Doves may be hunted sunrise to sunset, except for areas posted otherwise, from Saturday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Nov. 4. The daily bag limit is 15 doves, with a possession limit of 45 after the second day.

The early Canada goose and teal seasons begin Saturday, Sept. 1. Canada geese may be hunted from sunrise to sunset Sept. 1-9 with a daily bag limit of five birds. Teal may be hunted from sunrise to sunset Sept. 1-16 with a daily bag limit of six birds. Possession limits after the second day for both teal and Canada geese are three times the daily bag limits.

Ohio’s popular archery season for deer begins near the end of the month on Saturday, Sept. 29, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. New for the 2018-2019 season, no more than one antlerless deer may be taken from Ohio’s public hunting areas per license year. In addition, from Dec. 3, 2018, through Feb. 3, 2019, only antlered deer may be taken from specific public hunting areas in Ohio. The statewide bag limit is six deer, and only one deer may be antlered regardless of location or method of take. Deer bag limits are determined by county, and hunters cannot exceed a county bag limit. Additional details and requirements for deer hunting are contained in the 2018-2019 Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife is responsible for protecting and managing Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all Ohioans.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

Ballot Board Approves Language for 2018 General Election Statewide Issue

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Ballot Board today approved ballot language for the statewide issue that will appear before voters during the 2018 General Election. The election will be held on November 6.

In accordance with both Article XVI of the Ohio Constitution and Section 3505.062 of the Ohio Revised Code, the panel also directed the means by which the Secretary of State will disseminate information concerning the proposed constitutional amendment to the voters and directed the Secretary of State’s office to contract for the publication of the ballot language, explanation and argument for the amendment in a newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state.

Secretary Husted serves as the Chairman of the Ohio Ballot Board in his official capacity as the Ohio Secretary of State. Other members include State Senator Bill Beagle, State Senator Vernon Sykes, State Representative Kathleen Clyde and Mr. William Morgan. Ballot Board meetings are open to the public.

Sykes appeals to Kasich for state agencies to join anti-bias discussion

Asks governor to bring state heads to mediation table in civil rights investigation

COLUMBUS— State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) recently sent a letter* to Gov. John Kasich asking him to bring his administration to the mediation table to resolve her Ohio Civil Rights Commission investigation into reported discrimination and bias surrounding Statehouse security practices.

“You frequently talk about bringing people together to solve problems and making sure our actions reflect our American values of equality and fairness,” Sykes wrote to Kasich. “I appeal to you in an effort to gain your assistance in bringing your Department of Public Safety and Department of Administrative Services to the mediation table with me and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to resolve experiences of gender discrimination and racial bias in Statehouse security practices.”

Sykes noted that she has tried working with Kasich’s director of public safety, Col. John Born, to resolve her and others’ complaints, but that the agency and the State Highway Patrol have yet to even acknowledge the issues, let alone issue an apology.

“After a lot of thought, prayer and reflection, I felt I had no choice but to file a civil rights violation complaint after numerous meetings with Public Safety and the patrol went nowhere,” Sykes continued in the letter. “Now, we are faced with a unique opportunity to bring all responsible parties together around one table to reflect on these instances of discrimination and bias to ensure nobody is ever treated this way by a state agency or officer again.”

In position statements filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on Aug. 16, all agencies denied a request for mediation, prompting a full investigation by the commission. Sykes says there is still time to reverse course and come together.

“I respectfully urge you to compel your DPS director and DAS director to reconsider mediation. Not only would this avenue save taxpayers significant time and money by sidestepping a full OCRC investigation, but by working together we can build long-lasting results and a deeper understanding of each other to make sure everyone feels welcome in our state,” Sykes concluded in the letter.

If Your Boss Makes Millions, It’s Not Because of the ‘Market’

On average, America’s CEOs make 312 times what their workers take home — and that has nothing to do with supply and demand.

By Sam Pizzigati | August 22, 2018

Back in 1999, no executive personified the soaring pay packages of America’s CEOs more than Jack Welch at General Electric. Welch took home $75 million that year.

Welch credited that exorbitant salary not to his own genius, but to the genius of the free market.

“Is my salary too high?” mused Welch. “Somebody else will have to decide that, but this is a competitive marketplace.”

Translation: “I deserve every penny. The market says so.”

Top executives today are doing even better. In 1999, the Economic Policy Institute reports, CEOs at the nation’s 350 biggest corporations pocketed 248 times the pay of average workers in their industries. Top execs last year averaged 312 times more.

Why? Like Welch a generation ago, today’s CEOs point to the market.

As the University of Chicago’s Steven Kaplan puts it, “The market for talent puts pressure on boards to reward their top people at competitive pay levels in order to both attract and retain them.”

In the world of CEO cheerleaders like Kaplan, corporate boards simply pay their execs what the impartial, unbiased market — supply and demand — says they deserve. If they don’t, they risk losing talent.

But do corporations really face a shortage of qualified CEOs?

In fact, Corporate America has never had more talent to choose from to run their multi-billion-dollar companies. America’s graduate schools of business have been graduating, year after year, thousands of rigorously trained executives.

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth boasts an alumni network over 10,000 strong. MBAs in the equally prestigious Harvard Business School alumni network total over 46,000. Several hundred thousand more execs have been trained at America’s other top-notch business schools.

Let’s assume, conservatively, that only 1 percent of the alumni from the “best” business schools have enough skills and experience to run a big-time corporation. Even that would give Fortune 500 companies looking for a new CEO several thousand qualified candidates.

That’s not even counting the grads from business schools abroad. INSEAD, perhaps the most prominent of these international schools, now has over 56,000 active alumni. In our celebrated “globalized” economy, executives from elsewhere in the world constitute a huge new pool of talent for American corporations.

By classic market logic, any competition between highly paid American executives and equally qualified but more modestly paid international executives ought to end up lowering, not raising, the higher pay rates in the United States. Yet American executives take home over triple the pay of execs in America’s peer nations.

In short, we have a situation that the “market” doesn’t explain. In the executive talent marketplace, American corporations face plenty, not scarcity — yet the going rate for American executives keeps rising.

Simply put, markets don’t set executive pay.

“CEOs who cheerlead for market forces wouldn’t think of having them actually applied to their own pay packages,” as commentator Matthew Miller has noted in the Los Angeles Times. “The reality is that CEO pay is set through a clubby, rigged system in which CEOs, their buddies on board compensation committees, and a small cadre of lawyers and ‘compensation consultants’ are in cahoots to keep the millions coming.”

If CEOs earned less, the Economic Policy Institute study concludes, we would see “no adverse impact on output or employment.” Instead, we’d see higher rewards for workers, since the huge paydays that go to CEOs today reflect “income that otherwise would have accrued to others.”

Back in 1965, the study notes, America’s top execs only pulled down 20 times more pay than the nation’s average workers, as opposed to over 300 times today. If we want an economy where all of us can thrive, not just CEOs, we’d do well to drive that number back down.

Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org for the Institute for Policy Studies, where a longer version of this piece first appeared. His latest book is The Case for a Maximum Wage. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

Scoring Trump’s Tax Cuts So Far: $280k for Rich Lawmakers, Pennies for Working People

Very few businesses have raised wages thanks to corporate tax cuts, but executives and lawmakers are buying new yachts.

By Kayla Kitson | August 21, 2018

The Trump-GOP tax law was sold as a boon for the middle class. But many months after its passage, there are no signs that working Americans are getting the pay raise they were promised.

The Trump administration claimed the corporate tax cuts would eventually lead to wage increases of up to $9,000 a year for ordinary workers. But so far, workers’ wages remain stagnant.

Tracking by Americans for Tax Fairness shows that only about 400 out of America’s 5.9 million employers have announced any wage increases or one-time bonuses related to the tax cuts. That’s about 0.007 percent.

In fact, real wages have actually declined since last year after accounting for higher gas prices, prescription drug prices, and other rising costs.

If that weren’t bad enough, Trump and the GOP now want to come after the services that working families rely on.

Shortly after signing the tax cut package that will add nearly $2 trillion to the deficit over a decade, Trump proposed a budget that would cut $1.3 trillion for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Cart Act. The House Republican budget went even further, proposing $2.1 trillion in health care cuts.

Both budget proposals contained hundreds of billions more in cuts to food assistance, income security, education, and more.

Working families are seeing little benefit from the Trump-GOP tax giveaway — and would be devastated by the cuts to services that have been proposed to help pay for it. But a few people are basking in their new tax-cut windfalls:

President Trump: Though he claimed his tax plan would “cost him a fortune,” the new law will undoubtedly make him one.

Trump refuses to release his tax returns, so we can’t know his exact savings. But he’ll benefit greatly from the lower top individual tax rate, the lower corporate tax rate, and especially from the 20 percent deduction for “pass-through” business income (income from S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships that’s taxed at the individual rather than the corporate level).

The Trump Organization, which is a collection of 500 pass-throughs, could save over $20 million a year from that deduction alone. And the law gifted Trump’s industry — real estate — with myriad new loopholes.

Members of Congress: 53 Republican members of Congress who voted for the law could each enjoy $280,000 a year in tax cuts on average.

This includes millions of dollars each for Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Diane Black (R-TN), who serve on the committee that wrote the law. The day that Rep. Buchanan — who could get up to $2.1 million in annual tax cuts — voted in favor of the tax cut bill, he rewarded himself with a multi-million-dollar yacht.

Big Pharma: Prescription drug companies have profited handsomely in recent years by price-gouging customers and public health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. They also shifted lots of those profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes.

The Trump-GOP tax law rewards Big Pharma for its years of offshore tax avoidance with a steep discount on the amount due on its stash of offshore profits. Americans for Tax Fairness estimates the 10 largest American drug firms will save a collective $76 billion from this provision alone.

Big Pharma will also benefit from the new lower corporate tax rate and a new international tax regime that taxes future foreign profits at half the domestic profits rate.

While this elite group of tax-law winners are enjoying their tax-cut spoils, the majority of Americans are left holding the bag.

Kayla Kitson is research and policy director at Americans for Tax Fairness. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

Last Year, I Watched Grizzly Bears Play. This Year, They’re Going to Be Trophy Hunted.

The White House war on the Endangered Species Act is putting iconic species at risk — all to please fossil fuel companies.

By Lena Moffitt | August 21, 2018

Last year, I had the pleasure of watching grizzly bears play and interact outside of Yellowstone National Park in Montana.

Nothing could have prepared me for what it was like to see them with my own eyes. Documentaries and photos may offer a glimpse, but watching them up close was a moment I’ll always treasure.

But the fate of the Yellowstone region’s grizzly bears is quickly changing. Without the protections afforded under the Endangered Species Act, these animals are once again vulnerable to a life on the verge of extinction.

Last summer, despite overwhelming opposition from the general public and hundreds of Tribal nations, the Yellowstone grizzly bear population was removed from the Endangered Species list. Now, management of these majestic creatures lies with the states — and grizzly bears are about to be literally caught in the crosshairs.

In just weeks, Wyoming will allow the first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in the U.S. in nearly 50 years. Decades of work recovering the animal to a healthy and sustainable population size — which was accomplished thanks to endangered species protections — could be quickly undone.

I don’t want this to happen. And neither do the millions of people who come to see these animals in Yellowstone every year. It’s unthinkable.

Even worse, now the Department of the Interior is attempting to completely gut the Endangered Species Act, meaning this same scenario could play out countrywide. Hundreds of other animals, plants, and pollinators saved by the act’s protections will be harmed as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rolls back protections to make way for fossil fuel development.

In a nutshell, the changes proposed would mean management of vulnerable species would be placed into the hands of aggressive state governments in thrall to the fossil fuel industry. And they would open the door for the extraction industry to influence decisions that should be based on sound science.

It would become much harder to list species as endangered or threatened. And the opportunity to challenge de-listings based on sound science criteria — like we’re doing for the Yellowstone grizzly — could be effectively eliminated.

Let’s be clear: Zinke’s efforts to repeal the Endangered Species Act are a favor to one constituency only: industries that want to log, drill, frack, and mine public lands and sensitive habitats.

From day one at his post, Zinke has made clear that short-sighted profit and corporate cronyism take precedence over the protection of our public lands, wild spaces, and the animals who inhabit them.

The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s most effective laws for protecting wildlife:

Animals on the brink of extinction need the resources and expertise that only federal agencies can provide, but only if those agencies prioritize conservation, not corporatism. The Endangered Species Act needs to be fully implemented — not changed, not “modernized,” and especially not gutted.

It’s close, but it’s not too late for the Yellowstone grizzly bear. There’s still time to speak out for grizzlies and the hundreds of other iconic animals at risk from these rollbacks.

We have a responsibility to future generations to protect endangered species and the places they call home. It’s a matter of correcting our past mistakes and protecting our wild legacy.

Lena Moffitt is the Director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

Here Out West, ‘Smoke Season’ Keeps Getting Worse

Addressing climate change costs money. Wildfires gobbling up our country — and seas swallowing up our shores — costs more.

By Jill Richardson | August 21, 2018

Right now, much of the west is affected by wildfires.

An unlucky minority will have to evacuate their homes, and some will lose their homes altogether — or even their lives. But for millions more across the west, “smoke season” is a real thing.

Vast swaths of the west can be covered in smoke for extended periods, and inhaling the fine particles in the smoke is deleterious to one’s health.

This year, fires resulted in the closing of Yosemite National Park and part of Glacier National Park. The Ferguson Fire in Yosemite is just one of many recent fires within the park, including the enormous Rim Fire in 2013, the fifth largest fire in California history.

As a Californian, fires are a regular part of life.

The Cedar Fire of 2003 in San Diego was so massive that the smoke interfered with air traffic. I canceled a backpacking trip in 2015 due to the Rough Fire in King’s Canyon National Park.

I went on a road trip that summer and the sky was hazy with smoke in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. I was told the smoke came from fires in Washington.

In 2016, I spent a few weeks staying with a friend in rural San Diego County. I loved the area, and thought I might like to live there. Then, I thought, “This place looks like it could go up in smoke.” Within the month, it did. The aptly named Border Fire broke out in Campo, and my friend had to evacuate.

All of that is nothing compared to what a friend went through last summer in Montana. She and her family (including a toddler) were cooped up in their home for ages, trying to avoid inhaling the smoke. She had to install air filters to attempt to keep at least the indoor air clean.

The increase in wildfires is linked to the climate crisis.

The equation is simple. When it’s hotter outside, water evaporates faster, so the “fuel” (trees, vegetation) is drier and more flammable. The many trees killed by drought and bark beetles also contribute to the dryness of the fuel.

As the effects of climate change get worse, they’re also going to get more costly — in dollars, lives, and in quality of life. It would be far cheaper to prevent and mitigate the climate crisis.

Cheaper and better.

We’re going to end up spending money either way: whether we pay to develop non-polluting energy sources, restore forests, and take other steps to prevent catastrophic climate change, or whether we don’t, and then we have to pay for the consequences.

The costs of inaction? More wildfires and more hurricanes destroy more homes and take more human lives. Inhaled smoke from wildfires leads to increased respiratory illnesses. Sea levels rise and some parts of the world end up under water.

Unfortunately, simply leaving it all up to individuals and to the market isn’t enough to prevent this outcome. We need to act collectively — as a nation and as a world. We’ve already pulled out of the Paris Climate agreement, which was inadequate but at least it was something.

Climate change is real — ask anyone living through smoke season. With midterm elections coming up, candidates should be pressed to clarify just what they’re going to do about it.

OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in San Diego. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

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Staff & Wire Reports