The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 26, 1998 · Page 20
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 20

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, March 26, 1998
Page 20
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20A THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 1998 AMERICAN PRIMER The Palm Beach Post TOM GlUFFRIDA, Publisher EDWARD SEARS, Editor LfJN DANIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA, Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ, Editor of the Editorial Page JANTUCKWOOD, Associate Editor Hack and 3111 Went up the hill Jo fetch a pail of water. LARRY KLINE, IT Advertising LARRY SIF.DUK. VP& Treasurer GALE HOWDEN, Director, Community Relations TOM HIGHFIELD, VP Circulation LINDA MURPHY, Director, Human Resources BOB BALFE, Director, Production KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research Oack went down felled a found Trace school killings to available firearms And Till came tumblino. after. fjL Where are these kids getting the weapons without which tragedies like Tuesday's in Arkansas would not happen? If t is becoming a dangerously familiar t script. Scene One: Small, bleeding bodies lie in or near school buildings. Scene Two: Police, ambulances and horrified parents arrive. Scene Three: Grief counselors fan out to classrooms, where they attempt to explain what no one can explain. On Tuesday, it happened at West-side Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., not far from Memphis, where a student, with another's help, allegedly killed four classmates and a teacher and wounded 11 others. It happened four months ago in West Paducah, Ky. (three dead, five wounded). It happened six months ago t- i j i t t principal or coach. Once that's done, however, we come back to the reality Town's view on bike path blocked CD cean Ridge Mayor George Stamos, who thinks the town's perspective on the State Road A1A bicycle-path controversy isn't getting into the paper, talked to several editors before being re Ocean Ridge Mayor George Stamos says officials don 't want to stop the A1A bike lane, they just want a say in its design. ferred to this one, who thinks he has a legitimate beef. Part of Mayor Stamos concern has been the impression left by certain head lines, such as "Ocean Ridge opposes bike that a troubled child with a firearm is much different than a troubled child who is unarmed. Millions of Floridians who won't ever use a gun own one, or more. Most don't work at pawn shops, jewelry stores or convenience markets. A few of those guns will save the person who uses it. Far more will be stolen and used in crimes. Children get the firearms if adults don't lock them up. Jonesboro police found nearly a dozen firearms when they caught the suspects, ages 13 and 11. It is not yet known how the two students got all those weapons, which included handguns. Hunting is big in that part of the country, so it's not unusual for children to be around firearms. Handguns, however, aren't for hunting anything except human beings. Even after a judge sentenced him to life without parole, Tronneal Mangum wouldn't say where he obtained the gun he used to kill John Kamel. Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer said John Kamel's blood was on the hands of whoever got the gun into Mangum's possession. Judge Roger Colton asked, in exasperation, "Who in their right mind" would give a 13-year-old a gun? The better question is: What country in its right mind would not have a strong national policy of gun control? lanes (Aug. 28), and "Ocean Ridge set to block bike lanes on AlA"(Dec.2). Then there was the most recent item, in in rean, miss, uwo aeaa, seven wouna-ed). It happened 13 months ago in Bethel, Alaska, (two dead, two wounded). And it happened one Monday morning 14 months ago in West Palm Beach, at Conniston Middle School, where 13-year-old Tronneal Mangum shot and killed 14-year-old John Kamel. In each case, the killer was no more than 16. In each case, the killer used a firearm. In each case, when you get past the shock and the anger and the bewilderment and the funerals, the question is the same: where are these kids getting the firearms without which these tragedies would not happen? Arkansas Gov. Mike. Huckabee blamed the easy target: "I'm not sure we could expect a whole lot else in a culture where these children are exposed to tens of thousands of murders on television and movies and we desensitize human life . . . It's a cultural disease that we've got to address." Sure, we can talk about how too v y fnaay s Metro Keport. LAVf Jfe-, I It said the mayors of r t I Ocean Ridge and South northbound of 10 feet in addition to a 5-foot bike lane,' and the same 15 feet southbound." That's another 30 feet of open space and the main point of contention, he said. The clear zones of grass or ground cover "mean you would have to remove structural walls, trees, parts of driveways, mailboxes, etc." On the other hand, the present 24-foot road, he said, includes the two 10-foot auto lanes. "So if the state would allow us to add only 2 more feet on each side, that would allow a 4-foot northbound and 4 foot southbound bike lane, which is only one foot less than they are asking for." But what about that bill requesting that the Legislature designate the town's section of A1A as scenic and historic roadway? "It's the only protection that our town has to negotiate a satisfactory installation ; of the bicycle lanes," Mayor Stamos said. "The intent of the bill is to protect the i roadway, but it also is intended to give (us) ; the ability to have a voice in how those bicycle paths will be designed." I Thus his concerns about the coverage. "All I ask is the facts be given regarding ) what the DOT requirements are and what our town is concerned about," he said. As for the column and editorial, I j explained that both were expressions of opinion, and satire is what Mr. Cerabino in i particular does, not to be taken personally. ; Regardless how self-interested Mayor Sta- ; mos' complaints, however, editors might ( want to do a tone-and-tenor check. C.B. Hanif is an editorial writer for The ; Palm Beach Post. Items for Listening Post ; may be sent to C.B. Hanif Listening Post Palm Beach "received assurances of cooperation from the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Or until the last sentence. That has never been the case, that the town was preparing to block bicycle paths." Between those headlines and the Metro Report item, he added, "was an article by (columnist) Frank Cerabino that referred to me as being like the mayor of Selma, Alabama, in 1963, and also made similar type comments about other town officials." After that "was an editorial that referred to Ocean Ridge residents not wanting to sully our town with outsiders," he said. "I feel that is totally erroneous and inflammatory and a wrong thing to say." Asked to clarify this controversy, which has even ridden onto the letters page, the mayor said: "Our objection is not to bicycle paths per se. It never has been. That's a matter of record. It is recorded in our town meetings. I have stated it. What we object to is being railroaded with a blanket-type design criteria mandated by DOT." The real issue, according to the mayor, who says he represents the majority view in the town, is the state's desire to detract too much from the small-town charm as A1A wends its 3 miles through the seaside community south of the Boynton Inlet. "The problem," he said, "is the state road department has mandated a clear zone ganization Thursday on the issue of bicycle paths along State Road A1A." It went on to say that the MPO, "which decides how state transportation money is spent, or many children, lacking self-esteem, find their identity in the wrong way or find themselves unable to deal with rejection, a bad grade or a scolding from the dered state road builders to meet with officials from both towns to discuss how the roads can be repaved without disturb ing homes and landscaping." that item then concluded with: State Sham campaign reiorm rules call for adding 5 feet of pavement on each side, enough room for bike paths, when the road is repaved. So far, the state has no repaving plans, but (Ocean Ridge and South Palm Beach) are preparing to block efforts for bike lanes." Mayor Stamos said the article "was fine House Republicans propose a plan that would increase the limits on unregulated money that goes to candidates. Clinton took 4no' for an answer Special interests can walk in the front door of the Capitol' or the White House and buy favors. So a good reform would be: A) To outlaw huge donations that amount to legal bribes. B) To make all the big donors use the back door. Guess which answer the House Republican leadership chooses. A "reform" bill by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., would stop soft money donations to national parties. The Democratic and, particularly, the Republican parties have sucked up soft money because, unlike contributions to individual candidates, it is mostly unregulated. Last year, the GOP raised $40.4 million in soft money, and the Democrats raised $27 million. Tobacco companies were the top GOP donors; unions forked over for Democrats. So if the Thomas bill bans soft money, what's wrong with it? The ban would apply only to the national parties. State parties still could use soft money to back federal candidates. And not only would the Thomas bill preserve the soft-money system, it would triple the amount donors can give from $25,000 to $75,000. Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach, says he will vote against the bill. He has called for tighter restrictions on political action committees but says the Thomas bill "doesn't do anything to PACs." The bill, Rep. Foley says, reduces the importance of small donors. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, says the Thomas bill is "a bad imitation result Of the incident Ms. Jones described, she was slighted in her job as a state clerical employee and even suffered long-lasting psychological damage. But there appears to be little evidence to support those accusations. As with the allegations in Ms. Willey's case, Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection. This is very different from the cases of Clarence Thomas and Bob Pack wood.' " According to Ms. Hill and a number of Mr. Packwood's ex-employees, the offensive behavior was repeated for years, despite constant "no's." It also occurred -in the regular workplace of these women, J where it could not be avoided. The women who worked for Mr. Packwood described a man who groped and lunged at them. Ms. Hill accused fcwfn1"'''''! ''T ' i 0 fifjJS soft money ban. The Shays-Meehan bill essentially contains the same reforms as the McCain-Feingold bill that a majority of senators support but which a threatened filibuster has stymied. Shays-Meehan probably could get a majority in the House. But if the GOP leadership allowed that to happen, it would increase pressure on the Senate. Rather than flirt with the dangerous possibility of actual reform, the GOP leadership has substituted the sham Thomas measure. The bill, which may be voted on today, has some provisions with a bipartisan flavor. For example, it would set up obstacles to political donations by both unions and corporations. And it would improve disclosure of who is paying for campaign ads. But the reasonable provisions don't make up for all the back doors and false fronts. In fact, GOP leaders intended to produce a bill that would fail, just so they could claim to have allowed a vote. "They've covered every base to ensure its failure," says Rep. Foley. He wishes his party would push at least one meaningful reform this year, such as banning soft money at all levels. The president's poll ratings, especially among women, aren't so puzzling when you understand the basis for sexual harassment law: No means no; yes means yes. By Gloria Steinem Bf all the sexual allegations now swirling around the White House turn out to be true, President Clinton may be a candidate for sex addiction therapy. But feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment. The pressure came from another case of the double standard. For one thing, if the president had behaved with comparable insensitivity toward environmentalists, and at the same time remained their most crucial champion and bulwark against an anti-environmental Congress, would they be expected to desert him? I don't think so. If Mr. Clinton were as vital to preserving freedom of speech as he is to preserving reproductive freedom, would journalists be condemned as "inconsistent" for refusing to suggest he resign? Forget it. For another, there was and is a difference between the accusations against Mr. Clinton and those against Bob Pack wood and Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas of regularly and graphically describing sexual practices and por-, nography. In both cases, the women said they had to go to work every day, never knowing what sexual humiliation would await them just the kind of "hostile environment that sexual harassment law was intended to reduce. ; As reported, Ms. Lewinsky's case illustrates the rest of the equation: "Yes ' means yes." Whatever it was, her rela-" tionship with Mr. Clinton has never been called unwelcome, coerced or other than something she sought. The power imbalance between them increased the index He doesn't expect it to happen. Republicans are proving no better at reform than Democrats were when they controlled Congress. Between filibusters in the Senate and bogus bills in the House, real reform always seems to fall through a trap door. of a campaign reform bill." He points out that there is a bipartisan bill in the House, sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Mee-han, D-Mass., that contains a tighter of suspicion, but there is no evidence to ,' ' A screwball policy between the experiences reported bv suggest that Ms. Lewinsky s will was , violated; quite the contrary. The real violators of Ms. Lewinsky's , will were Linda Tripp, who taped their ' talks, the FBI agents who questioned her without a lawyer and Kenneth Starr, the ' independent prosecutor who seems intent on tailoring her testimony. What if Mr. Clinton lied under oath about any of this? According to polls, many Americans assume he did. There " Kathleen V illey and Anita I fill. Commen Clinton's political supporter, but she is also old enough to be Monica Lewinsky's mother, a better media spokeswoman for herself than Paula Jones, and a survivor of family tragedy, struggling to pay her dead husband's debts. If any of the other women had tried to sell their stories to a celebrity tell-all book publisher, as Ms. Willey did, you might be even more skeptical about their motives. But with her, you think, "Well, she needs the money." For the sake of argument here, I'm also believing all the women, at least until we know more. I noticed that CNN polls taken right after Ms. Willey's interview on 60 Minutes showed that more Americans believed her than Mr. Clinton. Nonetheless, the president's approval ratings have remained high. Why? The truth is that even if the allegations are true, the president is not guilty of sexual harassment He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass. She has testified that she pushed him away, later went to see him three more times in the same private setting without any repeat of unwelcome behavior, and never experienced job consequences, positive or negative. In other words, Mr. Clinton took "no" for an answer. In her original story. Ms. Jones essentially said the same thing. She went to then-Gov. Clinton's hotel room, where she said he asked her for oral sex. She refused, and even she claims he said. "Well, I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do." Her lawyers now allege that as a tators might stop puzzling over the presi dent's favorable poll ratings, especially among women, if they understood the common-sense guideline to sexual behavior that came out of the women's movement 30 years ago: No means no; yes means yes. It s the basis of sexual harassment law. It also explains why the media's You think rules should be fair? What country are YOU from? Can't be this one, because here we know better particularly about immigration rules. This comes from a long tradition. When figuring state populations, the U.S. Constitution originally counted slaves as three-fifths of a person and Indians as zero. Those populations were here some before white Europeans arrived, and others came ashore involuntarily but they weren't here according to the rules. America has played favorites ever since. We welcomed Western Europeans. Chinese could build the Western railroads, but didn't get to be citizens. That tradition work cheap, then go home has been slow to die. Until recency, foreign workers cut the sugar cane in South Florida. Certainly, no one should be surprised that rules about Cuba are weird. During the 1980s, we took all Cubans to protect them from a dictator but had an official agreement to return all Haitians to an equally cruel government So how do we make sense of the rules that grease the skids for Cuban ballpayers to live or work in America? We're simply following a long policy of unfairness. Every rich country has such a policy. If we didn't exclude those less fortunate, we'd get swamped. OK, so with the Cuban ballplayers, the unfairness is so bad it's indefensible. Maybe we've favored them because, subconsciously, we're waiting for that moment when one is on third base and e can return to our xenophobic ways by sh'nj'ing. "(jo home!" obsession is offensive to some, titillating to many and beside the point to almost seems to be sympathy for keeping private sexual behavior private. Perhaps we have a responsibility to make it OK for politicians to tell the truth providing they are respectful of "no means no; yes means yes" and still be able to enter high office, including the presidency. Until then, we will disqualify energy and talent the country needs as we are doing right now. Gloria Stancm is a found, r of the ' Sationil Women's Political Caucus and Ms. magazine. She wrote this artule for The New York Times. everybody. Like most feminists, most Americans become concerned about sexual behavior when someone's will has been violated; that is, when "no" hasn't been accepted as an answer. Let s lor at what seem to be the most damaging allegations, those made by Ms. Wiiley. Not only was she Mr.

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