Letters to Editor – February 21, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Excellence in Our Backyard
I hope every one in our county had the opportunity to see the Geauga Lyric Theater's latest sensation, Les Miserable.
If the actors, directors and producers keep on turning out quality performances such as Les Miserable, we won't have to make that dreaded trip into Cleveland just to enjoy a good play. We have excellence in our own backyard.
I marveled at the voice control the young actors demonstrated each time they were on center stage.
The stage crew has learned to utilize every square foot of stage space. With a cast of 48 actors – chosen from the 97 who showed up for auditions – and many of them onstage at the same time, this was a necessity.
The youth played to a sold-out crowd at their last performances. Victor Hugo would have been proud.
To all those involved, keep up the good work. It does not go unnoticed.
The comedy "Foreigner" is on the schedule for March. We have a season pass, so our seats are secured. If you don't have a pass, I'd advise you to call the box office very soon.
One more thing: There are many of us out here who would like to thank the theater guild for seeking out, not only quality plays, but also clean plays instead of sex saturated plays.
Like Chiefs Before Me
As a past chief of the Burton Volunteer Fire Department, I feel that the fire chief should sit down with the three entities involved and review the fire department's expenses and see how they come up with a workable budget and contract.
There are a number of ways to look at cutting costs. One is do we need 40 people on payroll? Do we need all the fancy fire equipment that is parked in the station?
What happened to the volunteers the department once had? And, can the department be a volunteer department once again?
When I was chief, I sat down with all three entities to discuss contracts same as the fire chiefs before me.
People's income has decreased because cost of living has gone up. People have lost their jobs, so they just cannot afford to pay more taxes. The fire department has to be able to do with less money, but still find a way to offer their services to community – like putting on fundraisers themselves, e.g., pancake breakfasts, Ox-Roasts, turkey raffles, Easter plant sales and dances to raise funds for equipment they need.
Editor's Note: Tim Glassburner was chief of the Burton Volunteer Fire Department from 1977-1981, first assistant fire chief 1974-1977 and second assistant cheif from 1970-1974.
Clearheaded, Honest Approach
Denver Sallee's letter that you published February 14 makes many assumptions about gun control that only serve to obfuscate, confuse, polarize, divide and deflect attention from what is really needed to protect our children and other "soft" targets of gun violence.
Mr. Sallee cites a long list of countries that have regulated weapons and then attributes their terrible history of murder and human rights violations to citizens' lack of guns. This is a specious argument. He does not name Canada, Britain and Australia, all of which regulate firearms more stringently than we do, yet there is no movement of these nations toward totalitarian dictatorship. They are constitutional democracies like ours. More important, they all have many fewer gun deaths than we do.
The Feb. 14 letter is clearly motivated by partisanship. It is politically designed to deflect attention from the fact that the real issue is access to unusually dangerous weapons by people who should not have them.
Not mentioned by Mr. Sallee is the documented opinion written by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia-one of the Supreme Court's staunchest conservatives and one of its "originalist" interpreters of the Constitution. In District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, Justice Scalia wrote:
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. [United States v.] Miller's holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those "in common use at the time" finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."
A politicization of this issue is foolish, unnecessary and contributes absolutely nothing to a solution to gun deaths. No one has set forth a single proposal outlawing guns. No black helicopters coming to take them away, no annihilation of populations, no totalitarianism. School children are not political objects. They are precious human beings. Anyone who remembers the Chardon shooting or the Newtown tragedy and is acquainted with their emotional impact knows full well what the problem is and it is clearly not the loss of freedom. The real problem is recapturing the notion of responsibility which always goes along with rights. You can have guns that are suited for hunting, target shooting, and self defense. All I am advocating is a clearheaded and honest approach to a solution. No politics, no name calling. Gun control is a complex issue and it should not be muddied up by conspiracy theories, partisan rhetoric, and avoidance of intellectually open, honest debate. Reasonable people can disagree. But until the two sides get together and think clearly about a solution, there never will be one.
Retire-Rehire and Trust
On Thursday, Feb. 14 there was a public hearing to discuss rehiring Sally Bell, longtime Geauga County Director of Aging, on a part-time basis. The public attendance was truly impressive and there was passion on both sides. Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri gave an impressive presentation about the ills of retire-rehire.
Some folks spoke up for Sally, her passion, and the years of service she gave. It must be said that noone in that room disputed that Sally has done good things; although it must also be said there is room for improvement.
Let me offer these thoughts for consideration. I say the following with all due respect for the difficult job of our elected officials, but believing the practice of retire-rehire is wrong. It destroys trust.
Trust is a very fragile thing. What do you expect of elected officials? I expect integrity and honesty. I expect them to take their oath to defend the constitution and our laws seriously, to use our hard earned tax dollars carefully, to make decisions which are honorable, and to call out misbehavior.
Perhaps these are values of a bygone era. What do you think? Is cronyism OK?
This situation smells like cronyism to me, which most people agree is bad. Why? Because it destroys trust. Why? Because decisions are made for the wrong reasons and in the shadows.
Sometimes the right person is not the most experienced person, but the person with new ideas, someone that is not complacent and not too familiar with others they supervise. While the commissioner's office is highlighted in this situation, this is a countywide problem across all departments.
If someone decides to retire that is their right. But, the retirement system is designed for "retirement" and not a for two month leave-of-absence resulting in two pay checks for doing the same job.
"Retire- rehire" has many negative consequences. The destruction of public trust is the most important to me because it requires a complicit bureaucracy. Example: Dec. 4 was my last day as county commissioner; Dec. 6 a resolution was voted on to advertise the part-time position of director of the Department of Aging. Ergo, a decision was made. Where and when was this decision made?
This action was never discussed during my tenure. To the best of my knowledge, this decision was never discussed in executive session.
The open meetings law is clear about an open decisions process. Yet, only after the decision was the public asked to weigh in. Does this pass the smell test to you?
Is it OK to make a full time position a part-time position and only for this person? Should these types of decisions be vetted carefully, openly and with consideration of all the impacts to the county and the department involved?
The bureaucracy seems so conditioned to enable this practice that it happens without public knowledge most of the time.
Right? Wrong? You be the judge. Speak up if you care.