Browsing Month October, 2011

Councilmember Mills urges senate to pass texting ban bill

By , October 9, 2011 | 4:16 am | 0 Comment

Councilmember Mills urges senate to pass texting ban bill

ONUMBA.COM – In July, the Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to ban ‘texting while driving’ in Ohio.

It is now up to the Ohio Senate to do the same and make it happen. Will the senate go along?

Columbus City Councilmember Michelle Mills is certainly hoping so. She released a statement last week expressing support for the ban, and hoping that the senate would “say yes” to House Bill 99.

Mills, who was one of the speakers at a rally held last week in front of the Statehouse to support the passage of the ban, is urging Senate lawmakers to pass the bill and “help us save lives.”

“Text and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it takes the driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off the task at hand, safely operating a motor vehicle,” said Mills.

And safely operating a motor vehicle was precisely why State Representatives Nancy Garland and Rex Damshroder sponsored the bill, which was approved by a House vote of 88 to 10, garnering bipartisan support.

Ohio is trying to pass a law which is already in place in Columbus and in “at least 20 other municipalities” in the state.  Mills spoke about why it was important for Columbus to move forward and pass the law.

“Knowing that the lives of our residents could be at risk, the Columbus City Council did not wait for the state to put a ‘texting while driving’ ban in place,” said Mills.

And she was right. In 2010, Council President Andrew Ginther, then a Councilmember, led the effort to ban “texting while driving” in the city.  At the time, he expressed interest in working with the state to craft a uniform legislation, but state officials said they were not ready.

So Columbus moved forward and passed its own “texting while driving” ban. Now Ohio is pushing to have one too and join 34 other states that have banned the dangerous practice.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Highway and Transportation Committee and now awaits hearing.  Bill’s sponsor Garland, a speaker at the rally, called it “a no-brainer.”

“Texting while driving is a major safety hazard that makes our roads unsafe for drivers, bikers and walkers,” said Garland. “The numbers tell us this high-risk practice drastically increases the chance of accident, injury and death for drivers who text and those around them.”

And those numbers came from the National Transportation Safety Administration, a group that tracks and monitors road accidents across the country. It said that “texting while driving” is two times more dangerous than drinking and driving. And that the reaction time of drivers involved with “texting while driving” is “35 percent” slower than it is for someone who smoked marijuana and “12 percent” slower than it is for drunk drivers.

A more graphic illustration from the AAA foundation, whose spokesperson Kimberly Schwind was also at the rally, further underscores the perils of this.

The group reported that drivers who text and drive look away from the road by an average of 5 seconds, representing the time they spend typing, sending or reading text messages. That adds up to about the time it would take to travel the length of a football field.

If approved, violation of the law would be a minor misdemeanor to carry a maximum fine of $150. But it would be a primary offense, which would give cops the authority to stop and cite drivers just for that.

The law would not ban texting while in the car. The violation would be “texting while driving.” Drivers who wish to text while driving should pull off the road and text all they want.

Others at the rally were Bexley Police Chief Larry Rinehart; Captain Guy Turner, City of Westlake Police Department, and Tina Yanssens, whose pedestrian father was killed by a texting driver.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Copyright 2011 The information contained in the news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group.



Coleman defends officer in fatal shooting

By , October 9, 2011 | 4:02 am | 1 Comments

Coleman defends officer in fatal shooting

ONUMBA.COM – A visibly livid Mayor Michael Coleman is preaching the same sermon he has frustratingly preached for years. His face is starting to turn purple from speaking out against gun violence and decrying the avalanche of guns littering the streets of Columbus.

But still, some young folks are just not getting it.

The message, for what it’s worth, is iron-clad clear: Pulling a gun at cops, even without firing it, is as good as committing suicide.

Dude – there’s no better way to put it. It’s a dumb thing to do.

For Obbie Shepard, an African-American 21-year old, who was killed by the police weeks ago after he pulled and fired a gun at them, that blunt message is obviously ‘too little, too late. But for other young folks out there, there are plenty of lessons to learn from Shepard’s tragedy.

The incident occurred on the South side of the city, where Shepard, after being caught riding a stolen bicycle, jumped down and ran as he fired shots at approaching cops. The cops returned fire, killing him instantly.

As always, shootings involving the police and a member of the Black community make headline news often with racial undertones. This was no different. The incident riled Black folks who pointed the finger of blame at the police for often disrespecting African-American residents. But Coleman, last week, begged to differ, at least concerning this particular case. And he wasn’t mushy about it, either. The mayor did not shy away from saying what he felt needed to be said.

“To any parent who loses a child, it’s a terrible thing,” said Coleman during a press conference held at the police headquarters downtown. “But if you’re going to shoot at police or anybody else, you’re writing your own death sentence.”

Counting the Shepard incident, there were six shootings in the month of August involving the police. In four of the shootings, armed men opened fire at cops who fired back killing the four shooters. That was just in that month. But so far in 2011, there have been 12 police involved shootings in Columbus resulting in five deaths.

Coleman, warning that life is “not a video game” and that officers will “meet deadly force with deadly force,” expressed the view that these deaths are preventable.

“When you have an encounter with police, you don’t pull out a gun – ever. If you do… you will probably be shot. That’s a fact of life,” said Coleman, pretty much calling‘a spade a spade,’ and some would say, rightly so.

The mayor urged parents to do more to protect their children.

“If you know or even suspect that your child is carrying a gun or is engaged in criminal activity, you need to intervene now to save their life.”

In the wake of the Shepard shooting incident, pastors belonging to the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Columbus and vicinity huddled up in a news conference to decry gun violence in the city. That’s really nice. But such populist parleys, though sincere and helpful in its own way, often appear to be more reactionary than anything else, when actually the solution is a sustained effort at intervening, mentoring and changing the lives of young African-Americans dangling dangerously and aimlessly. And parents, most would agree, have a leading role to play in that effort.

Coleman, who has been at the forefront of this battle, wants gun violence to “stop now.”

But while he has been outspoken about this, his main proposal for stemming its tide frustratingly remains a long way from being realized. Coleman has kvetched repeatedly about the torrent of guns flowing into the streets of Columbus and has complained that his “hands are tied” about addressing it.

And he faults the enabling role that government plays in indirectly fostering it.

Years ago, assault weapons were banned in the city and carrying concealed weapons in city parks was illegal. That was when cities could enact their own gun rules.

But that was then. In 2007, the laws changed, preventing cities from being able to enact their own local gun rules. That was because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that local laws should not supplant state laws on this, and that only the state government should have the authority to regulate weapons in all cities and localities.

That pretty much left Coleman with the same thing: back to preaching the same sermon.

“There are too many damn guns in the streets, and now they are being pointed at police,” said Coleman, at that press conference. It was the same concern he expressed repeatedly last summer when the city was being clobbered by a wave of deadly gun violence. Coleman has long held the view that Ohio is “a gun state”because“ we allow concealed weapons by law.”

His words: “We’re a gun state,” he decried.“We allow the proliferation of guns in all of our communities.”

State Representative Tracy Heard expressed similar concerns.

Not long ago, she introduced a legislation to close a loophole through which she complained illegal guns flow into the community. Coleman praised that effort, calling it an “important piece of legislation” that would require background check before gun purchase.

But still, there are just too many guns in the wrong hands. Coleman’s message is simple, loud and clear: ‘parents shield your children from being around such peril.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of based in Columbus.  He can be reached by email at:

Copyright 2011 The information contained in the news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Onumba Media Group.

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