Archive for March, 2007
“The wearing of the green” makes most of us think of St. Patrick’s Day. However, if a bill introduced by two Ohio legislators is passed into law, the wearing of the green will take on a new and more significant role in Ohio. A green license plate on a vehicle will signify the owner is a habitual and child-oriented convicted sex offender.
No other state in our country has dared to protect its children in such a vivid and progressive manner. Opponents use various excuses as to why it’s not a good idea. Some are concerned over the safety of the criminal and believe that if people see a green license plate on a vehicle, they will harass or harm the driver and the vehicle’s occupants. Another concern, voiced by Christine Link of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, is that it “could leave children with the idea that anyone without the special plates is safe to approach.”
My first thought, as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a mother and grandmother is definitely directed toward the safety of our children — no ands, ifs or buts about it. I’m confident with education; children can be taught caution and awareness regarding the green license plate. Just as red signifies “stop,” the green license plate on a vehicle can signify “beware.”
My support for this law is not without basis. The U.S. Department of Justice shows that Ohio is routinely rated in the top 10 of states in our country whose children are abused in some manner. In 2004, the DOJ found 17.5 percent of Ohio children were sexually abused. To further support wearing of the green is a statistic from the Prevent Child Abuse Ohio Web site (www.pcao.org) which reports one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before age 18.
Wearing of the green is a tool; it’s not a cure all for stopping child maltreatment. Most disturbing is the following statistic also taken from the PCAO Web site: “Based on best available research, as many as 2,006 of the 50,140 Ohio victims of abuse and neglect will grow up to become violent criminals who would never have become so if not for the maltreatment they endured as children.”
Seems to me it’s a no-brainer that the sooner we stop abusing our children, the sooner the number of child abusers will begin to decline and the ripple effect of this decrease will only prove to improve the mental health of our state and criminal activities will plummet. It’s a win-win situation.
Critics will continue voicing that the wearing of the green may prove problematic for the owner of the vehicle, but remember, it is that person who made the decision to earn that distinction. The abuser who chooses to disregard the consequences that his/her family may have to endure is overshadowed by those of us who wish to protect our children as the wearing of the green will allow us to be more vigilant when the green is spotted in or near our local parks, playgrounds, malls, schools, theaters and anywhere else our children frequent.
I am proud to live in a state that may add the wearing of the green license plate as another tool to its arsenal of already enacted laws to protect our children. Those laws include tougher mandatory minimum sentences for rapists whose victims are under age 13; increased penalties for public indecency involving victims under 13; and mandatory tracking devices after those classified as sexually violent predators serve their prison sentences.
If the bleeding hearts wish to extend their sympathy and concern to the habitual and child-oriented convicted sex offender, so be it. For myself, I stand beside and applaud my state legislators and Gov. Ted Strickland for coming together in a non-partisan way in this newest measure to crack down on crimes against children.
“Now I can never believe a word you say.”
That’s what my mother told me when I got my first reporting job. It was meant as a joke, but the awkward pause at the end revealed that it carried a touch of truth. For years, she had watched meteorologists turn spring showers into catastrophic weather events and had seen reporters transform small stories into tall tales. It had left her skeptical.
Turns out, she’s not the only one.
A recent Zogby poll launched in conjunction with the George Washington Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet revealed that most American voters have a hard time believing the press. Worse still, the majority — 83 percent — believe news coverage is biased. Most felt it had a liberal bias, while others felt it was pushing a conservative agenda. Only 11 percent felt the press didn’t take a political stance.
This is nothing new. As long as there has been a press, there’s been someone screaming, “It’s biased!” During my career I’ve been accused of it several times, though my critics could never agree whether I was leaning to the left or right.
Just this week while covering an anti-war demonstration in west Toledo, our news crew was greeted with snorts of derision. “Here comes Fox News,” they said. “I’m surprised you even showed up.” Others insinuated the only reason we were there was to make the liberal protestors look crazy to promote a right-wing agenda, which was hardly the case. I’m proud to say that our coverage of that story had both sides of the debate: interviews with war protestors as well as a man who disagreed with them. Still, I suspect that, in the future, those same protestors will see that we work for a Fox affiliate and write off our coverage as unbalanced.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this recent poll is who believes the media is biased. Ninety-seven percent of Republicans believe the press leans left. That’s compared to the two-thirds of Democrats who believe it’s skewed to the right.
Again, this isn’t a major surprise. If you listen to conservative talk radio you’ll be inundated with rhetoric claiming that the media opposes conservatives, branding it the “drive-by media” and other clever things. Democrats aren’t doing any better. Recently perceived bias motivated Presidential candidate John Edwards to pull out of a now-cancelled debate that was to be presented by Fox News.
Edwards’ decision has drawn praise from liberal groups like MoveOn.org that maintain it’s the beginning of the end for Fox News, and they’re encouraging other Democrats to boycott them as well. Does this mean that soon we’ll see Republicans’ boycotting other news agencies, claiming that they’re too liberal?
If so, I see a frightening time ahead for the media, where a growing number of news agencies skip the truth to present what viewers want to see, hear and read. Fair stories would be a thing of the past, replaced by proud, open partisanship. Republicans would have their networks and newspapers, the Democrats would have theirs, and the rest will focus on bald Britney Spears, morbidly obese toddlers and Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.
I’m going to level with you. Most local reporters I know are too busy to promote an agenda — period. They’re too busy chasing interviews and leads to discover devious ways to spin things and manipulate the public. Most news directors are spending their time trying to save money and maintain the same quality of coverage as owners try to squeeze more profits.
All I’m asking is that you not dismiss news stations, newspapers or individual reporters until you give them a shot. Just because a person works for a particular company doesn’t mean that they’re drinking the proverbial “Kool-Aid.” They might surprise you.
Karl Rundgren is managing editor and co-anchor of Fox Toledo News.
Last Tuesday, WXKR 94.5 FM hosted singer Kevin Cronin and bassist Bruce Hall of REO Speedwagon for a live acoustic session at Caper’s Pizza Bar in south Toledo. REO Speedwagon provided several songs to the soundtrack of my junior high school years; I remember seeing them at UT’s then-Centennial Hall many, many moons ago. Songs from “High Infidelity” still remind me of the first woman who earned my love and trust, then jettisoned me with an efficiency that would have earned my admiration if I hadn’t been too busy wailing in teenage self-pity.
As I watched the men jam through some REO hits and a few new songs, I felt a shift in my rock ‘n’ roll ideology. Rock ‘n’ roll, more than any theological or familial force, defined my formative years and angry young man (now angry middle-age man) persona, so an shift is seismic.
“It’s better to burn out than fade away,” Neil Young said.
“Hope I die before I get old,” said Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, neither of whom did.
My attitude as a writer and mocking outsider was defined through those quotes, three chords and the album image from “Glass Houses,” on which a leather-jacketed Billy Joel stands in front of a glass wall with a jagged rock paused in mid-throw. As scripture, rock lyrics provide as many options for interpretation as anything King James collected, a convenient scenario for the aspiring smartass.
The lifestyle of troublemaker and heartbreaker seems as juvenile to me now as any random Holden Caulfield monologue. But for a long time, an embarrassingly long time, I greatly preferred a fist closed around a heavy rock to a hand extended in a shake of compromise.
Kurt Cobain’s exit personifies the philosophy. The creaky, staggering Rolling Stones are the antithesis of the philosophy.
When you read in the first sentence that members of REO Speedwagon were playing at a pizza bar, you may have reacted with a chuckle of derision. How pathetic, you might think, that rockers who used to fill stadiums have been reduced to playing their moldy oldies in a restaurant, chasing memories of their glory days.
But Cronin and Hall played the hell out of their instruments, performing as if the 30 people in the room were 30,000. They showcased new songs with pride and offered new arrangements of classics with the glee of someone sharing a very cool accomplishment. If you didn’t know they had decades of success behind them, you might think they are hungry youngsters working as hard as they can for their first big break.
So, the dilemma: Is it better to burn out than fade away? Is there more artistic integrity to opting out while you have the maximum audience and energy? Or is there honor in working and creating even as the audience dwindles until only a handful of supporters gather to experience your art?
I suspect I knew the answer, even before I saw it reflected in Cronin’s determined eyes. The weekly missives I write are not art on the same scale as “The Godfather” or “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or “A Confederacy of Dunces,” but the effort comes from the same desire to communicate and express ideas. The fact that my artistic tools aren’t as sharp as Puzo/Coppola’s, Lennon/McCartney’s or Toole’s is insignificant during the creation process, although I apologetically concede it makes a world of difference for those on the receiving end.
But whether I write for half a million people or just myself, I write. It’s not something I consciously control. I write because I need to; this is what I do and who I am. Seeing Cronin and Hall blast through a quick set of songs with hunger and fire, even for a small audience, my intellect recognized a shift that my heart understood a long time ago: It is not better to burn out than to fade away.
Once upon a time, I romanticized the Cobains of rock and scorned the dinosaur bands that trudged through increasingly smaller venues for a chance to connect with an audience, any audience. Now, I realize I had it backwards.
I choose the slow fade, even if the chords I strike will one day only reverberate for me.
It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.
April showers bring May flowers, but April may bring more ominous rainclouds over One Government Center
Nearly one year ago, Toledo Free Press broke the story that Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner potentially violated state law when he led an effort to raise private funds to retain outgoing Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Eugene Sanders.
The Ohio Ethics Commission has not yet issued a decision. One year later, Toledoans have a right to wonder what is taking so long. The mayor’s office and the Lucas County Prosecutor’s office both said they have not received word from the ethics commission on the matter.
State law prohibits the commission from commenting on commission investigations and decisions, but Toledo residents and taxpayers should question the delay.
Finkbeiner acknowledged to the commission in May 2006 that he led a group of local business and community leaders that tried to put together a compensation package to offset some of the additional salary Sanders was offered to accept the job as superintendent of the Cleveland public school system.
After a year, memories fade and accounts become less reliable. A potential referral to Toledo Law Director John Madigan, a Finkbeiner employee, is another potential area for conflict.
If Finkbeiner is convicted of a violation, he could be disqualified from holding any public office. The waiting game can be frustrating and limbo is a bad state for a public official. This case should be summarily dismissed, or the investigation status should be made public.
The ethics commission needs to provide an answer so this potentially minor, potentially major, cloud can be removed from One Government Center.
The Toledo Mud Hens organization is in negotiations to
purchase the Toledo Storm hockey franchise, members of the Storm’s front office
Toledo Storm Vice President and General Manager Pat Pylypuik
said the Mud Hens organization has offered to purchase the ECHL franchise from current owner Tim Gladieux. He said this would be the
last season the Storm would play in the Toledo Sports Arena.
“[The Mud Hens] are probably not going to operate the hockey
team for the next couple of years,” Pylypuik said.
The Mud Hens would own the rights to the ECHL’s membership
for the Toledo market, Pylypuik said. But as part of the deal, he said, the
organization would drop the Storm name and rename the team when it begins play
in the new proposed Downtown sports arena.
“From my understanding, they don’t want anything to do with
the past history of hockey in Toledo,” Pylypuik said. “They want to do it their
Team president Barry Soskin confirmed Pylypuik’s statements,
but said he’s unsure this would be the Storm franchise’s final season after 16
years of existence.
“There’s nothing signed,” Soskin said. “I just
know Gladieux is negotiating with [the Mud Hens organization].”
Read more in later editions of Toledo Free Press and postings on toledofreepress.com.