Libraries wrestle with good, bad on Internet; How to deal with pornography debated

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page A1

Nationwide, libraries have struggled with how to deal with the power of the Internet, the massive computer network that provides an unbounded flow of images and information.

The Internet contains the most useful wisdom right alongside pornography, and librarians are stuck with the decision: Do you have to accept the bad with the good?

That debate has divided one of America’s most thoughtful professions, and has extended to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

“It’s a no-win situation,” said librarian Mary-Ellen Toth. “Whatever you do, somebody’s going to get mad.”

There is one fact everyone agrees on: anyone in Lucas County can have access to the most extreme, degrading forms of pornography, simply by walking up to a library computer hooked up to the Internet.

Library policy forbids patrons from going to “sexually explicit” Web sites. If caught, they are asked to go to another site. If they persist, they can be asked to leave the building. But staffers and patrons know they don’t catch everyone.

“Twice last week, I saw kids looking at naked women,” said Amber Woodruff, 18, who checks her e-mail at the downtown library every day.

The library doesn’t keep records of how many times users have been disciplined for bringing up porn on the machines. But informal polling of the librarians who oversee the terminals suggest the number is in the hundreds at the downtown branch alone.

Thousands of other libraries have to deal with the same problem, and are engaged in the same debate. Some have resolved it by banning the Internet from their libraries. Some have installed software on their machines to try to stop access to pornography.

Toledo has relied on the watchful eye, and the promise of guilt.

When Internet connections appeared in the county’s libraries in the fall of 1996, officials expected there might be problems. They made two key decisions: to station a librarian next to the computers at all times, and to place the machines in a prominent place, visible to nearly all patrons. In the downtown branch, they’re in the center court, immediately visible to anyone walking in the building.

The librarian is there to watch for anyone engaged in illicit behavior.

“They’re usually easy to spot,” said librarian Jill Gregg. “They look shifty and try to block the computer screen.”

And the placement, officials said, is an attempt to make potential porn viewers too embarrassed to click down the wrong path.

“It’s human nature,” said David Noel, the library’s coordinator for marketing and development. “We put [computers] where we did in hopes people would think twice before pulling up something inappropriate.”

Some librarians, however, think that trying to supervise or embarrass patrons isn’t the library’s job.

“I don’t think we are here to be censors,” said librarian Amy Hartman. “I support the First Amendment.”

Likewise, Ms. Toth defends the freedom of speech and press.

“We have a lot of books here that some people take offense to,” Ms. Toth said. “We let people read those. I have a real problem with being a police officer and saying what people can and cannot look at. That’s not my job.”

But librarians are attuned to the fact they usually don’t put copies of Hustler and Penthouse on their magazine racks, and that libraries are one of the few places some parents feel safe leaving their kids.

“This is a public place,” said librarian Lisa Hoenig. “If someone wants to look at pornography, they can buy a computer, subscribe to the Internet, and do it at home.”

One of the most common solutions for other libraries has been to let technology solve its own problems, via filtering software. These programs, with names like NetNanny and CyberWatch, are installed on terminals and flash a message on the screen denying access whenever a user tries to look at something considered naughty – the electronic equivalent of a wagging finger and a “tsk-tsk.”

But these programs, dubbed “censorware” by opponents, are notoriously ham-fisted and block access to thousands of legitimate sites. In its fervor to block any site with the word “breast,” for example, one program blocks out web sites mentioning breast cancer or hosting recipes for chicken paprikash.

Some organizations, most of them left-of-center politically, have protested the programs, noting they often block sites with safe sex or AIDS information, pages from gay rights advocates, and some environmental sites.

Mr. Noel said the library decided against using filtering software be cause of their scattershot accuracy and the legal liability the library could face if a parent was upset by porn sneaking through to their child.

But the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library system has been swayed in the other direction.

On Friday, officials in Dayton installed filtering software on every Internet terminal, with one caveat – by typing in a code from their library cards, adults can get around the software and view whatever they please, as can children with a signed form from their parents. Library policy there will not allow viewing indecent material, but there won’t be any technology standing in a patron’s way.

Library director John Wallach said the move is an “answer to parental concerns.”

“As we became more aware of the problems, we realized we had to take some action,” he said.

He said there are changes under way for Internet terminals that are in a semiprivate room, away from the public – with the tacit acknowledgement that their users are likely looking at things they might feel uncomfortable sharing with the general public.

Those Internet terminals will be put in full public view when the library finishes a renovation project.

But decisions like Dayton’s and Toledo’s might not be up to local authorities for much longer. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R, Ariz.) has introduced a bill that would eliminate some forms of communications funding for schools and library systems that don’t install filtering software on its Internet terminals.

The bill was approved by the Senate’s commerce committee on March 12, and it may be difficult in an election year for politicians to go against it and risk appearing pro-pornography.

National library associations are lobbying hard against the bill, including the American Library Association, which has taken a hard- line stance against filtering. But, if it passes, Mr. Noel said the Toledo library would have no choice but to follow the guidelines, even though they might ban valuable information.

“Libraries have a very strong record of following the law,” he said.

Nationwide, they have a strong record of defending First Amendment rights. The American Library Association was one of the lead plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case last year that over turned the Communications Decency Act, which was aimed at banning all Internet porn.

But, unlike Boston’s library, which for a time banned all Internet access under pressure from the city’s mayor, staffers with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system are quick to praise the Internet and the knowledge it gives patrons.

“It’s just such a terrific resource,” Mr. Noel said. “Most families still don’t have computers, and for a lot of people, this is the only way they can reach the Internet.”

Obituary: Sarah Hayner

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

FINDLAY — Sarah Hayner, a concert violinist who played with orchestras across the country, died Friday at the Blanchard valley Regional Health Center, Findlay.

She was 67 and died after a short bout with cancer.

She grew up in a musical household in Chicago, her former husband, John Hayner, said. Her mother was on course to a career as a concert pianist before she was married and gave it up.

Ms. Hayner went to Northwestern University for her musical training, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music performance. Immediately after graduate school, she successfully auditioned for a spot in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

She played violin there for nine seasons before marrying Mr. Hayner, who was training to be a Lutheran minister. After the marriage, she followed her husband across the country as he moved from seminary to a series of positions. But unlike her mother, Ms. Hayner continued playing professionally, performing with symphonies in Akron and, after they moved to Findlay in 1971, the Toledo and Lima symphonies.

She played there until the late 1970s when, as Mr. Hayner said, “her fingers just couldn’t perform as they once had.”

In her spare time, she gave private lessons on the violin and the piano, played along with the singing group the Millstream Singers, and played the organ in local churches – most recently at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Findlay.

She served on the board of the Hancock County Agency on Aging and was active in the Findlay Area Civitan Club.

“She was the most caring, loving, generous person,” Mr. Hayner said. “She threw herself into helping other people.”

Surviving are a daughter, Christie Anna Heater; a sister, Virginia Maines; and two grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Coldren-Crates Funeral Home, Findlay. A memorial service will be at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Memorial tributes may be made to the Millstream Singers, the Civitan Club, or Cancer Patient Services.

Busy downtown restaurant damaged by fire

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 10

A two-alarm fire caused about $80,000 damage to a downtown second-story restaurant last night, Toledo fire officials said.

The blaze at George’s City Club, 415 North Huron St., started in a storage area in the rear of the second floor.

The fire department got the call at 6:43 p.m. and, 13 minutes later, called a second alarm to bring more firefighters to the scene.

They proved unnecessary because the fire was brought under control within 20 minutes.

Batallion Chief Jerry Abair said the extra firefighters were brought in because the building involved was connected at the second floor to another building, to which flames could have spread quickly.

Firefighters first raised a ladder to the build ing’s roof to attack the fire from the rear.

A few minutes later, another group of firefighters climbed the narrow stairway that connects the building’s Huron Street entrance to the second floor, pushing the fire toward the first group of firefighters.

In addition to the fire damage, the flames caused an interior water pipe to burst, flooding some first-floor offices, officials said.

The building’s first floor houses the offices of Continental Secret Service Bureau, a security agency, and the Toledo Newspaper Guild, which represents unionized employees of The Blade.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation last night.

Obituary: Barbara Corbin

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Barbara Corbin, a Mormon who believed all Christian faiths should be united, died Friday. She was 39.

She was hit by a rail car at the North Star BHP Steel plant near Delta, where she worked.

Ms. Corbin was born and raised in Toledo, growing up on Nevada Street in a Catholic household. She had a Catholic education, finishing at Cardinal Stritch High School, and was very active in her church.

“She was very artistic,” said her mother, Norma Herman. “She would always be the one decorating the altars or doing paintings.”

But in her early 30s, Ms. Corbin decided the Mormon faith appealed to her more. “She liked the strictness, the discipline. She knew the Mormon church was right for her as an adult,” he mother said.

She became very active in her new church and devoted herself to trying to forge strong links among all Christian faiths.

“She always felt it was dumb that the churches were separate when we were all one people under Christ,” Mrs. Herman said.

So she could stay at home with her children, Ms. Corbin began an at-home day-care service, taking in up to six neighborhood children a day. Often, she took in children rejected by other services because they had difficult-to-care-for diseases like cystic fibrosis.

“If a parent couldn’t find anybody to take their child, she would take them in,” her mother said.

In 1995, she stopped her day-care business and sought outside work. In March, 1997, she began work at the North Star plant. She was a crew leader in the shipping department that loaded steel coils onto flatbed trains, then sent them on to be loaded onto trucks. She was directing those trains when she died.

Her mother said the funeral is being jointly planned by members of the Mormon and Catholic faiths. “Barb would have loved that,” she said.

Ms. Corbin is survived by her mother; father, Chuck Herman; sons, Jerry and John; daughter, Randi; former husband, John; brothers, Chris, Chuck, and Joe Herman; and sisters, Mary Brandt, Holly Herman, Rose Reese, and Margaret Billups.

A memorial service is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Hoeflinger Funeral Home, 3500 Navarre Ave., where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 11050 Avenue Rd., Perrysburg, where the body will be after 9 a.m.

Devenow demands port chief’s ouster

By Joshua Benton and Chris Osher
Blade Staff Writers

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Chester Devenow, a retired Toledo industrialist, called last night for the removal of the president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority because the leader banned agency officials from talking to reporters in the wake of articles about their spending of federal drug-forfeiture funds.

James Hartung, port authority president, said in a letter to The Blade yesterday that his agency will only respond to questions submitted to him in writing.

Mr. Hartung issued his order the same day the newspaper reported that the Toledo FBI office will examine federal drug-forfeiture fund expenditures by the port authority to determine if federal laws or procedures had been broken.

“I’d like to know when this dictator was created,” said Mr. Devenow, retired chairman of the former Sheller-Globe Corp. and former chairman of Trustcorp, Inc. “I’d like to know how he can justify not having a free press examine any and all aspects of the port authority.

“I consider it totally outrageous. I think the port authority ought to take steps to remove him.”

Mr. Devenow was appointed in 1992 by then-Mayor John McHugh to lead a committee to help select port authority directors. Half the board’s members are appointed by Toledo’s mayor with city council confirmation and half by the Lucas County commissioners. A 13th member is a joint city-county appointment.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said last night that calls for Mr. Hartung’s ouster are premature.

“I don’t see anything that, at the moment, I think justifies that call,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the county commissioners, said Mr. Devenow’s call is premature, but she said it should be reviewed by the authority’s board.

“I think that the port authority that is there, based on their own professional review, needs to examine that,” she said. “I think that Jim [Hartung] has done a good job, but he’s just feeling beat up right now.”

Ms. Isenberg said she was “taken aback” at news of the port’s new ban.

“If you’re a public agency, it’s a little tough to say to the only newspaper in town that you can’t cover us,” she said.

“There is no public agency that is going to agree with the news media 100 per cent of the time on how it’s covered on any given issue or any given subject. I look at it that you really have to roll with the punches. You need to be able to get over this issue and move forward.”

Ms. Isenberg said she would not have made a similar move in Mr. Hartung’s position.

“I think it only adds fuel to the fire that has been there and simmering for some time,” she said.

County Commissioner Mark Pietrykowski said last night that he thought Mr. Hartung’s directive was “inappropriate.”

The staff “should certainly be able to talk to the press,” and some matters could always be referred to the director, Mr. Pietrykowski said.

“I don’t think a gag order is the answer,” he added.

County Commissioner Bill Copeland declined comment.

Leading journalism educators and members of press associations denounced Mr. Hartung’s move.

“It’s the dumbest thing they could do,” said Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“There’s an absolute responsibility to come clean with the public on the use of public money. And a responsible agency, and even a responsible business, gets ahead of journalists’ questions and concerns rather than hiding in a bunker,” he said.

Mr. Hartung said in his letter to The Blade that he felt the newspaper had violated the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists by subjecting the port authority to “incomplete and inaccurate reporting.”

He did not specify what he felt was wrong in the newspaper’s coverage.

Steve Geimann, the former chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists and the chairman of the group’s ethics committee, said that if Mr. Hartung has concerns about the newspaper’s coverage he should point them out.

“I’m appalled that a public institution would resort to this cowardly tactic,” Mr. Geimann said. “They are hiding behind the code of ethics, and that’s not what it’s intended to do.

“The code of ethics gives the port authority a venue to discuss and challenge news coverage, not create artificial, tortured procedures that will hinder the news from getting out,” he said.

Mr. Geimann said he had never heard of the code being used to justify not speaking with reporters and called it “the most unusual interpretation I’ve ever heard of.”

The FBI review was prompted by a Page 1 article Sunday that reported the agency used federal drug funds to buy:

* A $26,500 sport utility vehicle for use by Mark VanLoh, director of Toledo Express Airport.

* $20,000 in exercise equipment for a gym for airport police.

* A $2,226 desk for the downtown office of Mr. Hartung.

* Baseball-type trading cards featuring Buster, the airport’s drug-sniffing dog, at a cost of $370.

Mr. Hartung denounced the news article in another letter, sent Monday to the 13-member board that governs his agency.

“The Blade has again chosen to question the purity of the port authority’s stewardship in its story yesterday on use of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) `Assets Forfeiture’ funds,” Mr. Hartung wrote in his letter to the board.

“While this administration has never claimed infallibility, it remains confident that all port authority business has been conducted in a manner that is both proper and ethical,” he wrote.

The port authority has asked the drug agency to review the expenditures from the drug fund, which is financed with money seized during drug arrests, to determine whether any money was misused.

The state auditor’s office is considering conducting a special audit of the drug fund.

In his letter to board members, Mr. Hartung said DEA officials originally had approved use of a vehicle purchased with forfeited funds by the port authority’s airport director in 1991.

After a reporter began questioning Mr. VanLoh’s use of a 1996 Ford Explorer purchased with forfeited drug funds, the port authority asked the Drug Enforcement Administration for a new ruling. The agency then expressed reservations.

Mr. Hartung said the airport director has stopped using the vehicle and will continue to abide by the drug agency’s “new interpretation.”

Mr. Hartung’s decision to require Blade reporters to submit their questions in writing was on the advice of the agency’s attorney, said James Poure, the chairman of the port authority board.

Mr. Poure declined to comment on how his agency has spent drug-fund money.

“I really feel it would be improper for me to make any comment with the investigation going on,” Mr. Poure said.

Gary Stewart and Tom Brady, members of the board, and Beverly McBride, the agency’s vice chairman, all declined comment.

Board members Mark Zyndorf and Dr. Richard Ruppert said the agency has done nothing improper.

The board’s seven other members did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Obituary: Henry Martin

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

BRYAN — Henry Martin, a chemist who managed to combine his loves of dahlias and Notre Dame football, died Friday at Bryan Community Hospital. Mr. Martin, who lived in Defiance, was 80.

He died of pneumonia, brought on in the aftermath of a January surgery, said his son, Joe Martin.

Mr. Martin spent most of his life in Warren, O., where he was born and reared. Fascinated with the science of growing things, he had studied chemistry at John Carroll University and Youngstown State.

After graduating, he began working for the Warren water department.

But his love of growing things was shown most clearly in his hobby, flower gardening. Mr. Martin’s best work was done with his dahlias, which won him multiple statewide prizes.

Using his knowledge of chemistry, Mr. Martin liked to experiment with different fertilizers for his flowers, his son said.

After retiring in 1980 from the water department, Mr. Martin worked part time at a nursery in Warren to help others with their flowers.

Then, in the mid 1970s, Mr. Martin added a second fascination, Notre Dame football. At first, he was just an average fan. But when Lou Holtz became the team’s coach in 1986, it became more than that.

“He really resembled Lou Holtz a lot,” his son said. “And he dressed a lot like him. I’d like to follow him around and watch people say, `Hey, there’s Lou Holtz!”‘

True, Mr. Martin’s devotion predated the coach’s arrival. However, “When Lou Holtz came in, that was just a bonus,” Joe Martin said.

Tickets are hard to come by for Notre Dame games, but two years ago, Mr. Martin and his son finally made it out to the Blue-Gold game, a spring intramural scrimmage held annually in South Bend, Ind.

A year before, Mr. Martin and his wife, Pauline, moved to Defi-ance to be near their son.

Surviving are his son, Joe Martin; two grandchildren; a brother, Robert; and sisters Ann Myers and Sister Mary Annrita.

The funeral Mass will be held tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Defiance, where the body will be for an hour before the funeral.

A brief memorial service will be held a few minutes before the service.

Burial will follow in Warren. A second memorial service will be held there at a later date.

The family request tributes to St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Milwaukee man charged in Fulton County chase

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

WAUSEON — A Milwaukee man led state troopers on a chase across Fulton County Saturday night, hijacking one vehicle and trying to hijack four more, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The chase began about 6:30 p.m., about three miles west of the Ohio Turnpike’s Wauseon exit. A trooper clocked an eastbound car driven by Arthur Hayse, 27, at 105 mph and tried to pull it over.

Mr. Hayse kept going, however, until he reached the exit, authorities said. He lost control on the off ramp, hitting a light pole and sending his car into a ditch.

Unfortunately for the pursuing trooper, the light pole fell across the off ramp, blocking the path in front of her car.

According to troopers, Mr. Hayse got out of his car, walked up to a nearby pickup truck and produced a 25-caliber semiautomatic pistol. He demanded that the truck’s driver and passenger turn over the keys. They did, and Mr. Hayse drove off, southbound on State Rt. 108, troopers said.

While being pursued just north of the Wauseon city limits, he abandoned the pickup in a parking lot and hijacked another pickup.

It stalled, and he was forced to run from it.

He reached the intersection of State Rt. 108 and U.S. 20A and tried to hijack three more vehicles there, troopers said, before he was captured. Troopers found a small amount of marijuana on him.

Mr. Hayse was at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio last night. He faces charges of felony fleeing, carrying a concealed weapon, speeding, driving without a license, drug abuse, and drug paraphernalia. The FBI was considering federal car jack ing charges, troopers said.

The lamppost was cleared from the exit ramp 20 minutes later.