The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 14
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September 14, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 14

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tuesday, September 14, 1999
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1 1A THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1999 The Palm Beach Post TOM GlUFFRIDA, Publisher EDWARD SE ARS, Editor LON DAjNIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA, Managing Editor RANDY SCHl U.TZ, Editor of the Editorial Page JAN TUCKWOOD, Awooa? frfior GOING POSTAL : i n I , i ! o.i'i ' toe. J. LARRY KLINE, VP Advertising LARRY SIEDLIK, VP 7ra.wnr GAI HOWDEN. VP Community Relations and Marketing MICHAEL McCAFEREY, VP Circulation LINDA MURPHY, VP Human Resources BOB BALFE. Dwtor. Production LAURA DECK CUNNINGHAM, Dmror. Marketing Services STUFF "SHERIFF KEIU, "BOAKDJVMBEP? KRHK MONTGOMERY SUfT Kom,ETAL, INTO A WK. -A National disaster fund ;off Washington radar US POSTAL SERVICE -T tntt Florida took good steps after Andrew, but Floyd could put damage into a financial realm the state can't handle. AND MAIL IT TO MIAMI, "WHERE THE U)VE TO CNIECT WA&O an 'official' Indian ith Floyd pounding at the door, it's late to start thinking of unmade preparations, such vx as, the failure to create a national di-saster fund. After Hurricane Andrew 'in, 1992, Florida did what one state can . r do to prepare financially. Congress ' v ,,never caught the bug. ( ; i Because of that, and because of ,'. ;;who's likely to run, Floyd could blow out next year's Senate race. An Andrew-sized disaster for the insurance industry 11 companies went bankrupt would leave the probable Democratic candidate, Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson, ducking flying debris. But that can happen now only with more than Andrew's damage. The state set up its Catastrophe Fund to reinsure the insurance companies, q he Cat Fund has assets and bond- issuing power of $11.5 billion companies can tap if losses outrun their reserves. On paper, insurers now easily cover in Andrew's $15 billion-$16 billion range. That's one thing residents get for the higher premiums they pay. i Hold Floyd at that level, and Mr. iKiNelson takes a bow for being on top of onthings. Actually, it was his predecessor as insurance commissioner, Tom jt Gallagher, who sold the CAT fund to 'r 'lawmakers. Mr. Gallagher, a possible J: Republican candidate for Senate, is education commissioner now, "'though, and he'll have to buy ads to Looking for arvey lure tsira uioson oi ueiray Beach is a Creek Indian. But his ancestors staved East when the government forced others in the tribe West. So the feds say Mr. Gibson can't use eagle feathers in religious rites. Eagles are protected, and only members of 550 recognized tribes have access to eagle parts. "Recognized"? In Andrew Jackson's encounters with Creeks and Seminoles in the early 1800s, it was easier, if not more pleasant, to be "recognized." Gen. Jackson didn't ride into a village and slaughter Jac Wilder VerSteeg only those with the proper paperwork. Nope. Back then, the rule was: "Look red, and you're dead." That rule prevailed throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. Now, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has cabinets full of rules about who is an official Indian and who belongs to an official tribe. The only good Indian is one who has filled out the forms in triplicate. Why does the government care who's an Indian and who isn't? Because the Bureau of Indian Affairs doesn't want a bunch of non-Indians lining up for the benefits and privileges given to real Indians. The feds are afraid of getting ripped off. To understand what a monumental joke that is, consider that American Indian groups are, at this moment, suing the Under the federal government's definition, it seems to be the one who has filled out the paperwork in triplicate. federal government to recover billions of dollars the BIA has improperly withheld from Indians over the past 112 years. The money is from land and assets such as oil and mineral rights the government supposedly held in "trust" for the Indians. The suit is Cobell vs. Babbitt, named for Elouise Cobell of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana and Bruce Babbitt of the Drag-feet tribe in Washington. Mr. Babbitt is secretary of the Interior, which includes the BIA. The Indians sued him in 1996, and the court ordered him to produce documents showing how the BIA had (or had not) carried out its duty. Mr. Babbitt never produced the documents, and U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth held him in contempt this year. Judge Lamberth is no friend of the Clinton administration and may have blamed Mr. Babbitt for things beyond his control. But that doesn't change the fact that BIA can't produce documents or pay the Indians because many of the papers have been lost or destroyed. According to The Washington Post, BIA workers can't sift through records at a main document repository in Albuquerque because the files are "contaminated with rat feces containing a dangerous 'A vote for democracy year ago, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach, cast a gutsy i vote in favor of camnaien finance .reform. This week, Rep. Foley will -"''have a chance to show that his courtage has not faded. Once again, House members will - "Vote on the Shays-Meehan reform bill, flamed for Reps. Christopher Shays, '-R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-:ir!Mass. Shays-Meehan bans the unregulated "soft money" from special interests. The bill also counts as contributions issue ads placed near Election ,sDay. Rep. Foley voted for the reform Oibill last year, even though the House Jeadership opposed it. i.o-1 Foley also voted against sev-,li;,eral sham alternatives that would have gutted the bill. Again this year, reform , ;l opponents have offered insidious al-''tefnatives and poison-pill amend-s :ments. The alternatives are designed to provide cover for those who wish to .bukill reform while appearing to vote for ,,i;;it One measure, for example, bans .-sofl money at the federal level but creates a loophole for funneling soft -, money to state parties. tyvu Another requires donations to be 'posted for public review almost in- ."'Stantly. That sounds good now, voters don't find out about large, last-minute donations until after the elec- 'irjtion but in this case, it's a trick. It Vjdoesn't ban soft money, and it re- Wmderful Wrld of Color, '90s style get credit. Andrew zeroed in on residential areas. A hurricane that strong or stronger hitting farther north in Fort Lauderdale would put damage in a whole new financial realm. That's what Mr. Nelson, as Mr. Gallagher before him, has tried to get Washington to acknowledge. Who's been in inattentive Washington all this time? The other possible GOP Senate candidate, Rep. Bill McCollum. When pain exceeds states' powers of alleviation, the federal government always pitches in. But it's never quick nor pretty. Last year, disaster relief for farmers had to wait months while the White House and Congress jockeyed over the budget. The year before, it was relief for storm and flood victims in the West and Midwest. Every year, it's something, and every year, Congress seems surprised. Andrew taught Florida to prepare to reach the state's limit, but there's a point beyond that limit that only Washington can reach. Did we have to wait for Floyd to have the next lesson plan? Campaign-finance reform is before the House again, and the usual suspects have set up the usual barricades. moves donation limits. Instant reporting needs context. The George W. Bush campaign posts donations on its Web site, but voters looking at the raw information still can't tell how much is from special interests. Another provision would require candidates to raise at least half their money in-state a tempting "reform" for Rep. Foley, whose likely opponent has raised money elsewhere. And, as expected, Minority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has a poison pill, this time trying to exempt Internet ads and fund-raising from any regulation. Shays-Meehan passed the House last year, 252-179, with support from Rep. Foley and Democrats Robert Wexler of Boca Raton and Alcee Hastings of Miramar. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, opposed it. A Senate majority also favored reform, but a threatened Republican filibuster killed it. This year, the Senate will feel more pressure to end campaign finance corruption, particularly if Rep. Foley and other Republicans hold firm for reform. Democrats, reporters and voters may check local hotels daily in case the GOP caucus decides to have another public meeting. They won't think of looking in Alaska. Voters thought open meetings are important enough to make them a matter for the constitution. But Mr. Thrasher hasn't paid much attention to the needs or wishes of the public during his first seven years in office, and he is not likely to begin to respect the public in his last year before he is term-limited out. Someone had better keep an eye on Anchorage. It's either that, or trust Mr. Thrasher, and trusting a sneak only gets you a notice in an Orlando hotel lobby. came within one match of making it an all-Williams final. It is worth noting, again, what a remarkable story theirs is, beginning in Compton, Calif., and leading to Palm Beach Gardens, where the family lives. Now, they have a chance to energize a sport that for decades was essentially closed to minorities because tennis, like golf, has its origins in private clubs. With each big victory, they can get an even younger girl or boy interested. And after last weekend, it seems as if many more big victories are coming. r fit". That would be the hanta virus, which is a threat to some Indian reservations where conditions engender disease because, in part, the federal government hasn't forked over the money due the Indians, j So the same government that can't handle rats at its Albuquerque offices won't let Mr. Gibson handle eagle feathers during his religious ceremonies. Since bald and golden eagles are endangered, it's illegal for Indians or anybddy else to possess the birds or their "parts." Being such sensitive guys, however, (he feds have a collection of "parts" they oar-cel out to deserving Indians meaning Indians who have jumped through ihe bureaucratic hoops. !: Applicants need: 1) A permit to sjiip the parts from the National Fish and Wildlife Service; 2) Certification from the BIA that the applicant is enrolled id a federally recognized tribe; 3) Certification from a religious leader that the eagle parts will be used for religious purposes. About 1,000 Indians a year suffer through the paperwork. But the repository, at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Rational Wildlife Refuge in Denver collects only about 900 dead birds a year, the waiting list is two years long. A pamphlet from the repository explains that ".requests for eagles are filled on a first-corjie, first-serve basis." J; Naturally, "first come, first serve" Applies to eagles but not to America itseljf. :: ; Jac Wilder VerSteeg is an editorial writer I .for The Palm Beach Post !; outside your door it's high ! tension. ... When we're !: traveling, I try to stay away from out-of-the-way places !,' where well really feel alone. !: ... If we go up to a restau-rant... pull into a gas station ;; . . . you just never know ;j what you'll run into." ;i Bracing scenes such as that one distinguish this se- ! ries from its spiritual prede- ! cessor, filmmaker Craig !; Gilbert's classic An Ameri- ! can Family, the 12-hour !! documentary that first aired on PBS in 1973. Its wander- ;: ing cameras captured the ;; daily lives of the affluent ;; Loud family of Santa Bar- ; bara. It also captured, to ev- eryone's surprise, the rup- !' ture of their marriage, the !: wife's angry ejection of the !, husband from the house, f and son Lance surprising his parents with the news;-" that he is gay. ' ; The Simses do better than that maritally. You may sense at the end that their--crucible of struggles, racial and otherwise, has bonded them closer together and ' that their daughters will-' benefit from it in the long run. So, in the end, do those"',' of us who have experienced 10 hours of their lives. ' ' As TV shows go, the;1' Louds were cutting-edge'- stuff for America in the early 'j' 70s. Now, just as The Cosby" Show gave us a new, all-black spin on the 1950s' Fa,'v tker Knows Best, the Sims family gives us a multiracial,,, spin on the Louds. , f This, again, is cutting-;, edge sniff. Someday, it will be old hat I hope that daym comes soon. How soon de pends on how the rest of us": here in the real world write' the script "' ;J. Qarence Page is a colum- nist for the Chicago Tribune, y 2- Thrasher misses check-in E.J. FLYNNThe Associated Press and Karen Wilson and their daughters Chaney Cicily, subjects of PBS' An American Love Story. 'j M JH ere's some news for the speaker jrflof the Florida House, John '' ' li ll Thrasher, R-Orange Park: The Best Western Golden Lion Hotel has 83 rooms and meeting facilities for up -'"to 200 people, and, best of all, it's in Anchorage, Alaska. That's important because, after the : iact, Democrats, reporters and citi--vjizens found out that the speaker had f, assembled his Republican troops for a public meeting at the Orlando Airport .Hjlton. Public notification of the ,;m'peting, which the Florida Constitu-tidn inconveniently requires, ap- peared on the bulletin board in the -"'Vfiotel's lobby. j't v i Now that they know where to look, In PBS' transfixing documentary series, the white mom is loath to acknowledge that race makes a difference, while the black husband can't stop talking about it. By Clarence Page ' hen I was asked if I wanted to look at a documentary film about an interracial family, I was hesitant. For one thing, I heard it was 10 hours long. That's about as long as some marriages these days. Worse, the topic struck me as old hat, one that already was stale back in 1967, when Sidney Poitier starred in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and the Supreme Court finally legalized racially mixed marriages. Today, most Americans seem to be trying to forget that race even matters much anymore. "Blended races making a true melting pot,", chirped a recent USA Today headline. By 2050, experts quoted in the story said, the portion of Americans who claim some mix of black, white, Hispanic and Asian will triple to 21 percent America is turning beige. Even so, that "melting pot" still has some mighty big lumps in it, enough to make the 10 hours of filmmaker Jennifer Fox's documentary, An American Love Story (which began Sunday on PBS and runs through Thursday in two-hour installments), almost whiz by. Ms. Fox's cameras show us the family of Bill Sims, an African-American blues singer and guitarist and his wife, Karen Wilson, a blond Bill Sims (left) and 4 corporate director. They free spirits gather, in Police over to and Karen's abandoned took up married their first was 6. A Chaney, We home in the early are drawn life with various easier for married years shows. like a Poignantly, we watch ' Sister act rocks New York human-resources met in 1967, typical of the time, we small-town Ohio. harassed Bill relentlessly whenever he went Karen's town to visit white friends her when she with Bill. They 12 years later, when daughter, Cicily, second daughter, came a year later. meet the family at New York City in 1990s. Slowly, we into their day-today as its surface tranquillity begins to crack open tensions. It is the Simses to be today than it was 30 ago, this program Yet race still lingers hungry shark. for example, the older daugh ter, Cicily, try to navigate between her white friends, who often seem aggravat-ingly naive about black people, and her black friends, who question her "loyalty to the community." "I don't know if Mom could understand how I feel about (being accused of 'selling out') because I am a totally different person than she is," she says. "Being bi-racial, coming out of an interracial relationship, the way I perceive things is totally different." Indeed, in her hip and noble effort to comfort and protect her family, Karen, the white mom, seems reluctant to acknowledge that race makes much of a difference anymore, while the husband can't seem to stop talking about it. "What does it mean to be black?" the dad muses. "It means every moment you're uring her victory speech Satur-I day afternoon after winning the .o,fcsJr u.s. upen uue, serena w imams r. .-managed to credit her faith and plug her sponsor. Clearly, this is not your ..average 17-year-old. M' t Ms. Williams became only the .bininth player to win the women's sin-.LVgles and doubles championships in ;-:.!the same year. She is only the second 4:MAfrican-American woman to win the singles crown, the first being Althea Gibson in 1958. And she is only half of :(.the Williams act. Her doubles partner was 18-year-old sister Venus, who S

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