Thursday, September 21, 2006

Local news & views

Some views on local events:

Trying to prevent a tragedy?

The parents of a 16 year old sitting in the Monroe County Jail are upset that the teen faces a stiff punishment for being caught with a gun at school given the circumstances. After another student brought a gun to school, Allen Montgomery took the gun to make sure it was not used.

I do not think that, given the circumstances, it is appropriate or moral to send this kid to prison. However, he did make a serious error in judgment. A 16-year-old should know better than to keep a loaded gun in his backpack, no matter how honorable the intention. Had the boy delivered the gun directly to the principal's office and explained what happened, he likely would not be facing the legal problems he is now. He certainly needs to face some kind of penalty for his recklessness.

Had Montgomery not taken the gun, the incident could have been a lot worse than a student firing the gun at the ground. This is an election year, and county prosecutor Carl Salzmann is up for re-election. I think the community deserves an answer from Salzmann as to how he will proceed with this case. Chris Gaal, the Democrat seeking the seat, also owes voters an answer how he would proceed if he was the prosecutor. Why has the Herald-Times not pursued this?

Leonard vs. Bernitt

Mike Leonard attacked my friend Bud Bernitt in his opinion column, complaining about billboards from Bernitt's Citizens for Truth accusing Baron Hill of supporting homosexual marriage and flag burning. Leonard says that Hill does not support those things.

Leonard, being a journalist, might want to actually do some research. He can start by going to and checking out Hill's voting record. Hill voted against an amendment to ban flag desecration and also voted against the Marriage Protection Act.

Now, just because Baron Hill opposes making flag desecration illegal does not mean he supports flag burning. After all, I am also opposed to the amendment and I don't support actually burning the flag. That is an opinion expressed by Citizens for Truth based on Baron Hill's voting record. Hill is free to respond and attempt to refute that opinion, but it is borderline treasonous to try to take away CFT's right to free speech.

Sue Wanzer fails to cover up a scandal

MCCSC School Board president Sue Wanzer ruled that a concerned parent could not address the School Board about the inexcusable behavior of a teacher's aide at Bloomington High School South. The teacher's aide, who needs to be fired immediately, delivered a letter from a boy detained at a juvenile facility to a BHSS sophomore without her mother's consent. Margie Cowans had forbidden the boy from seeing her daughter.

While I think Ms. Cowans should have gone though the proper channels before she went public with the matter, it is unconscionable for Wanzer to attempt to cover up this scandal. Fortunately, the Herald-Times had a reporter there to expose the scandal on the front page of the newspaper.

From a public policy perspective, if a school employee has done something wrong in the context of his job I believe the public has a right to know about it. After all, a the government schools are responsible not only to parents, but to each and every taxpayer who pays for the buildings, equipment and salaries.