The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 27, 1998 · Page 14
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March 27, 1998

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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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Friday, March 27, 1998
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Page 14
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14A THE PALM BEACH POST FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 1998 The Palm Beach Post TOM GlL'FFRIDA Publisher EDWARD SEARS, Editor LON DANIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA, Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ, Editor of the Editorial Page JAN TUCKWOOD, Associate Editor LARRY KLINE, VP Advertising LARRY SIEDUK, 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 Hospital's illegal board bled county taxpayers Cmouhoep, in my W k NDU DIDN'T SETTLE , fff . if P A PJONESy If "; The only villains in the fight over Everglades Memorial are those who said they were standing up for Pahokee. Thief knows not what he took Let's get one thing straight, right at the start. Even though Everglades Memorial Hospital in Pa-j hokee stopped accepting new patients .' Thursday and prepared to transfer ex-! isting patients to other hospitals, the :Palm Beach County Health Care District is not the villain. ;: The district meaning the coun-;ty's taxpayers owns the hospital. A ; very small group of private citizens has ; spent more than a decade bleeding ; those taxpayers by illegally taking over a public institution and fighting to retain ; control. Members of this group claim to ;be standing up for Pahokee. In fact, they ;have blocked efforts to improve health ; services in the Glades. : The real villains are: Everglades board Chairman Ed-;win Jones. Board members Richard jHeffeman, Faith Sasser and Ted Gallo. ; Everglades CEO Don Anderson. ! BThe Palm Beach Gardens law firm Watterson Hyland Baird & Klett. No matter what happens with nego-.' tiations between the health care district ,'and the Everglades board, health ser-.' vices, emergency and otherwise, will : continue. There has never been any question of that. Glades General Hospi-; tal in Belle Glade will accept patients .'from Everglades. So will other hospitals. The only thing that will end is the ! expensive duplication of services by :two rural, public hospitals, each operating at 35 percent capacity. At the district board meeting I Wednesday, Pahokee Mayor John Nor-;man and resident Alice Thompson ipleaded to keep Everglades operating. Mayor Norman works for Everglades. Ms. Thompson represents Pahokee ;merchants. They should take aim at Mr. Jones and other board members. ; In December, Everglades' board aid it was ready to end the matter. The district approved a settlement agreement to keep the hospital operating. Since then, hospital attorney Terry Watterson has dragged the district's attorney, Glen Torcivia, into drawn-out Who's going to pay the $500 deductible, the rental car fee, the $l,000-plus repair bill, the $100 towing fees? The thief? Hardly. I didn't know the Gineses before this week. But when I saw their wrecked Honda on my street Sunday, less than two days after reporting mine stolen, I had a bad feeling our cases were connected. I peered inside and saw the baby socks. The kids' seats. A Toni Braxton tape. The punched steering column. It just about broke my heart or what was left of it. Police came and wrote a report. A dispatcher radioed that she had notified Palm Springs police of the recovery. A truck towed the car away. My Honda was still missing, but I felt better knowing a family would soon get theirs back. The next day I decided to try to find the owners, figuring they must have a story to tell. But when I finally got Andy Gines on the phone Wednesday afternoon, he was baffled. He didn't know his car had been found. Somewhere between West Palm Beach police and Palm Springs police, the case got lost. Meanwhile, the Gineses' only car was sitting in a towing lot, racking up hundreds of dollars' worth of storage fees. "It's so frustrating," said the 27-year-old who, as manager of security for a department store, deals with thieves every day. He is angry with police departments Gifted policy not smart answers is little solace omewhere out there is a lowlife who stole a car with 6-month-old Jordan's baby seat in the back. Jordan's little white socks were on the back seat. So was her big sister's booster seat. Their stroller was in the trunk. When the thief abandoned the Honda on my West Palm Beach street early Sunday morning, the windshield was smashed, the ignition had been punched and a family of four in Palm Springs had been robbed of their only transportation. Who would do such a thing? Someone with a touch of brains but no Candy Hatcher ""i heart. Someone with a sick sense of humor but no sense of right and wrong. Someone who has stolen before but never been punished. How do I know? Because the same person who took the Gineses' family car Saturday morning had also stolen mine from my driveway between 9:30 and 10 Friday night. He rifled through my maps and car-repair receipts. He broke the Club I used on my steering wheel at night. He went to Burger King, where he probably paid for his french fries with the pennies from my change compartment. He took my sunglasses, left his scissors and trash and abandoned my Honda down the street from Andy and Hope Gines in Palm Springs. Search for Blaming a Pearl Jam song or violence on movies and TV for what happened in Jonesboro is convenient, but it isn't the answer. "PJ earl Jam's 1991 hit Jer- Jm0 emy is one of the domi- nant teen anthems of this decade, made even more indelible by a shocking and powerful video that received saturation airplay on MTV for years. Richard Roeper It's the story of a young boy named Jeremy maybe 1 1 or 12 who is unloved at home and ostracized at school. He escapes into a fantasy life, where all is sunshine and everyone must bow to Jeremy. Daddy didn't give affection, to the fact that Mommy didn 't care King Jeremy the wicked ruled his world Jeremy spoke in class today Eventually Jeremy gets his revenge on the teachers who don't understand him and the peers who don't ac sages from theorists that the could be points that Kentucky, now Arkansas Arkansas rangefinder boys are at are Marc Emerson, LI S ' discussions that often seemed more delay than negotiation. Florida Bar rules state, "Delay should not be indulged merely for the convenience of the advocates or for the purpose of frustrating an opposing party's attempt to obtain rightful redress or repose." Given Mr. Watterson's actions over the years, the district has reason to file a complaint with the Bar. For taxpayers, the potential dangers are in Everglades' records. Because the illegal board operated in private, no one knows the extent of the hospital's debt and liability. But if there is any hint of corruption board members misusing their positions, for instance, or aberra tions in bookkeeping the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office should conduct a forensic audit, as prosecutors did when investigating spending from the Palm Beach County bchool Dis trict's 1986 bond plan. For any misuse of federal Medicare money, the U.S. attorney's office would investigate. The financial issues got muddier Tuesday when the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said Everglades must return $1.5 million in Med icaid overpayments from 1991 to 1995. Audits for the years since then could show a much larger figure. In addition, at least 11 creditors want back pay ments. Everglades has not paid the Solid Waste Authority for garbage collection since 1991. The district has made every effort to end things amicably. Everglades has responded with arrogance and delay. Now the district must protect taxpayers from unwarranted liability and move on. In five years, health services in the Glades could be better than today. Without the Everglades board, those services would be better today. In Palm Beach County, too many students get into the special program simply on the basis of private testing. lower-income families." And it starts young. At 302 students, the kindergarten gifted program is the largest in Florida. The consultant and the state cited it as evidence of abuse. Consequently, white students are overrepresented in the gifted program much as poor and minority kids are underrepresented. A generic gifted curriculum also assumes students are basically gifted the same. It does not recognize that different children are gifted in different areas and encourage development of those skills. Though the delay in getting testing done through the district reflects both demand and lack of staff, the district must get results more quickly. If no from the staff is available, the district should at least create a rotating committee of private testers to remove financial incentive some might have develop a reputation as the person whom parents can buy the "gifted" label. The district is organizing a committee of educators and parents that will the criticisms, design a plan to address them and report in November. Along the way, maybe the group can generate some sense of urgency this fundamental reform that doesn't seem to be getting much of a from the school board. donations Palm Beach is worth double that. It's not as though the concept is new. Roger Dean did not build stadium in Jupiter the county did, tourist taxes. But Mr. Dean's bought the naming rights. And though they're not actually tattooed with the names of their sponsors far as we know). Palm Beach County commissioners have become billboards for the political clout of developers and their lobbyists. The "Will Zone Donations" signs are a giveaway. Is it bad that policy is for sale? if you're a resident worried quality of life. But if you're a it's a convenience. for not relaying the news that his car had been found. He's mad that they slough off the seriousness of the crime because "your insurance will pay for it." He's ticked, that it's not standard procedure to collect every possible bit of evidence so thieves can. be caught. He's angry with Honda officials,;,mak-ers of the most popular cars to steal in America, for their cavalier attitude about auto theft ("It's something we've gotten used to," Honda's spokesman said,-,"It's the price we pay for having one of the, best-selling cars in the market.") He's angriest with the thief. He wants him caught and prosecuted. He wants' him to pay back his family: the $500 deductible on insurance, the $10-a-day out-of-pocket expenses for a rental car, the $l,00.(plus repair bill, the $100 towing fees. ;,; Sending a thief to jail or prison won't teach him to respect others' property, But perhaps if he were forced to pay restitution by mowing yards or flipping burgers -4 a legal job, for a change he could be made to understand how expensive auto theft is. The one consolation in this twisted tale is that people are looking out for-each other. Wednesday night, I got a call fram two strangers in Palm Springs. They JIad noticed a car in their parking lot thatjlidh't belong there. They called police'then found my name and number and called me. "We know what it's like," they said. "We went through this last April." -'-i ' Candy Hatcher is an editorial writer for The Palm Beach Post. " " video and were compelled to duplicate the glorified violence. We have to blame some-: ., body or something. We have,:, to make some sense of this. , We have to watch the Charles Grodins and Geraldo Riveras : of the world on television, as-they interview teams of counr- ; selors and experts who try to put it all into perspective ,-r , preferably in neatly packaged . sound bites. - - As I write this, CNN js wrapping up a live discussion i in a town hall format. Ameri cans of all ages are gathered in a television studio, where. -Bobbie Batista dashes about with a microphone and take,s , comments from listeners,, while the screen is filled with graphics that included mes- " sages from viewers and inter.T esting little factoids about the, shooting. (Talk about infor-,' mation overload.) Among tlje , experts in the studio is the Rev. Michael Eric Dyson,- a ' renowned educator and by all v -.4 appearances a bright and caring man. " ; "The last word from you;" " Ms. Batista says to the rever-end. "Give us hope." V Rev. Dyson tries, but it J just sounds like psychobabble. What could he possibly say in such a situation? . ; I spoke Tuesday with , Jonesboro Mayor Hubert -Brodell, a good country fellow ' whose quiet life has been,. thrown into chaos by the trag-,. edy that will forever scar hs;, town. "I don't have the an? swers," he said. "Goshr t wish I did have the answers, because then we could (en- sure) that nothing like this-would ever happen again.".. That's just it, of course, v We can pose all the theorie s, ' consult all the experts, holdall the town meetings and-pray all the prayers, and we il . never have an answer to sU isfy us. This is our world. Richard Rocpcr is a Cinum-- nist for the Chicago Sun- " Times. ... t s D t doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Palm Beach County School District's gifted program is a stacked deck. The inordinate influence of private ' IQ testing is a large part of the reason " the program is out of whack. Changing " that is especially urgent since the program has drawn criticism in recent reports from the state, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and a district consultant. For parents, the goal, understandably, is to obtain the best they can get without paying for private school: smaller class sizes and a more challenging curriculum. So they pay a consultant, , who pronounces their child gifted. The result has been a 241 percent increase ( in the number of students in the pro-' gram since 1990, while the total student population grew 39 percent. Though the state's basic gifted cri- art-r to i 1 2fl c rrra rn on T ( tact tVinco .tests tend to measure what students ' have been exposed to, not what they . know, and can be biased against some groups. So poor and minority students exhibiting gifted characteristics in the classroom and on other tests may be admitted with a 114 IQ. Even so, children whose parents .have them privately tested have an advantage, leading a district consultant to recommend that the district end the practice. Only 990 (42 percent) of the 1,357 students placed in the program were tested by the district's staff last year; only 493 (32 percent) of the 761 placed so far this year. Private testing, .the district-hired consultant said, has heen abused, giving "higher-income families an additional advantage over Will zone for hink of it as a convenience. There you are at the beach, enjoying the warm turquoise water. Or perhaps you're at the park, snapping a Frisbee with your kids. Suddenly, you are overcome with the Urge to see a Coca-Cola advertisement. As things are now, you would have to leave the beach and drive sometimes as far as 3 inches before spotting commercial advertisements. But Palm Beach County is working on a plan that could save you such a trip. The county is studying a proposal to sell advertising and vending space on public property. A deal with Coke brot.t $2.5 million? o Volusia County. as help the to from study help about push Surely really the with family (so For Maybe about lobbyist, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS State Police Cpl. Robert Speer uses laser binoculars to measure as he lies where two alleged to have ambushed students and teachers Westside Middle School in Jonesboro. Behind him Miles (left) of the city of Jonesboro and Toby the Craighead County coroner. the massacre in Jonesboro, and place all the blame on their shoulders. Ah, but what about the NRA and the hunting culture in Arkansas and everyone else who has made this such a gun-loving society! They're the ones to blame for this. Let's seize everyone's weapons immediately. While we're at it, let's make sure we point fingers at the lax security system at the Westside Middle School. If only that place had been on lockdown, if only an armed guard had been patrolling the grounds, if only video cameras had been in vlace and barbed wire fences had been erected . . . And let's not forget that movie Basketball Diaries, which contains a fantasy sequence in w hich Leonardo I)i-Caprio shoots up a classroom. Mavbe these kids saw that on a few conspiracy and media-bashing, culture-blaming types, positing Pearl Jam song one of the trigger has led children in Mississippi and to open fire in or near their schools. Blame Pearl Jam for what happened in Jonesboro! Come on. In a way it would be comforting and convenient if we could point to a pop song and say that's the cause of these unimaginably awful slayings and if it could somehow be proven beyond a doubt that it's the music (or the videos or the violence on TV) that leads directly to the shootings, then I'd say let's go ahead and ban the music. But this is not the case. Nor can we point to the parents of the 11 -year-old and the 13-year-old charged with cept him, when he shows up at school one day with a gun and obliterates everyone in his class. Jeremy spoke in class today, Jeremy spoke in class today Try to erase tiiis, try to erase this, from the blackboard Jeremy spoke in class today The accompanying video builds to a stunning freeze-frame shot of students and teachers covered with blood. Is Jeremy a four-minute social statement with a catchy chorus or a call to arms? Incredibly, I've seen postings from the Internet philosophers, and I've received mes-

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