The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 31, 1998 · Page 16
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March 31, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 16

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Tuesday, March 31, 1998
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ISA THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 1998 m sl s c The Palm Beach Post TOM GlUITRIDA. 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 URRY SIEDI.IK, VP & Treasurer GALE HOWDEN, Director, Community Relations TOM HIGHFIELD. VP Circulation LINDA MURI'IIY, Director, Human Resources ' BOB BALFE, Director, Production KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research Legislators catch rays as state's tax roof sags K iwm j A Si A s j C few; . legislature! m Title IX spawn raises idiocy quota m Writes Ms. Gavora: "Too many men in Toting heads for OUtCOme-based gunnery school? Too few men getting day- " - got a federal case.' That's funny. This is not: Counting gcriuzr cctttty tuuiu ftUUtK financing for medical and scientific research. rt SI Si AS I St 1 S TV I SA A 1 s-i . s-t W t s s The state budget, normally the main attraction this time of year in Tallahassee, seems to have become the non-event of the 1998 legislative session. The House passed a plan to spend $44.8 billion, and the Senate approved spending $45.2 billion. Teams from each chamber began meeting this week to smooth out the $355 million difference with plenty of time left and an abundance of amity. Indeed, some House members talk of finishing both the budget and the session before the scheduled adjournment May 1. The budget is the one thing the Florida Constitution requires them to pass. This year, a booming economy and the settlement with the tobacco companies give them 6 percent more money than last year. That could make it an easy year for lawmakers to try something hard, like reforming the tax structure that produced the financial feast. It is, after all, the same tax structure that produced the famines of the early 1990s. The roof isn't leaking, so nobody is trying to fix it. Not Gov. Chiles, not the candidates , to be governor next year, certainly not the lawmakers basking in the sun. Next time it rains, however, the economic carpet will be ruined again. The sad thing is that tax reform would not cost the state money, and reform could include a tax cut. The House and Senate set aside $100 million to reduce unspecified taxes. Each chamber has members with $1 billion worth of ideas for where to cut. It would be easier to cut taxes if we had a sensible tax base. Sen. John Ostalkiewicz, R-Orlando, wants to target the quirky intangibles . tax. That's a fine target. But the tax on stocks, bonds and other securities takes in more than $1 billion, and trying to 0f the prospect of socialized medicine wasn't enough to make you give up your fois gras and Macanudos, stand by for gender-outcome education. If all goes as promised, President Clinton's latest gender equity plan will mean that equal numbers of men and women must be rocket scientists and brain surgeons whether they want to be or not. Kathleen Parker male and female heads for outcome-based gender equity could affect financing for medical and scientific research down the road. The National Science Foundation, for instance, doles out more than $109 million annually to undergraduate programs in science, engineering and math all mate-dominated fields. ; What happens to that money if more women don't sign up? What happens to us if the best and brightest don't get the education they seek? Congress has the power to stop this silliness. If the new regulations don't reflect the intent of the original statute 4 and they don't since it specifically forbids quotas Congress can hold hearings and block the Justice Department. Unfortunately, few are willing to buck the trend! When the Women's NBA made its debut last year, sponsors Coca-Cola, Nike and American Express hailed the event with banners reading: "Thanks Title IX" team. The same sort of self-defeating obsolescence seems inevitable for academic programs if Mr. Clinton and his feminist colleagues have their way. But what if women in equal numbers to men don't want to be rocket scientists and brain surgeons? How do you make women clamor for chemistry classes if they prefer 17th-century Spanish poetry? You don't. Instead, you punish the males for signing up in such large numbers. You eliminate the chemistry class or, since the low female numbers must indicate discrimination, you withhold federal money. Or, you deny qualified men access. The new regulations, now being devised by the U.S. Department of Justice, will not apply only to colleges and universities. Jessica Gavora, writing in the Worn- Such is the bastard offspring of Title IX, the federal statute originally designed to prevent discrimination in college athletic programs. Now the regulation is being expanded to apply to academic programs as well. Forget discrimination, we're talking about the Q-word. Quotas. During the past 20 years, Title IX has been interpreted and enforced as follows: If a student body is comprised of 50 percent women, then 50 percent of athletic programs have to be filled with women. Even if women aren't interested. Thus, at schools where not enough women have been interested in participating in college sports, a proportionate number of men's sports have had to be eliminated. The casualty list is long and includes Boston University's Division I men's baseball team and football program, as well as UCLA's men's swimming, water polo and gymnastics programs, which through the years have produced 22 Olympic swimming competitors and gymnasts. Not enough women competing in college athletics? Must be discrimination, goes the hysteria. Bye-bye goes the men's reduce that by $100 million only would make the tax quirkier. House Speaker Dan Webster suggests exempting purchases of clothing that cost less than $25. His heart is with the neediest taxpayers, but his brainstorm would cause chaos and confusion in stores collecting sales tax and in the Department of Revenue trying to administer it. Rep. Bob Starks, R-Casselberry, a pilot, would use a big chunk of the $100 million to reward airlines for serving Orlando. Bringing tourists to the Mouse is rewarding enough. A sales-tax exemption there would be one more hole in the colander of a sales tax that, with all its holes, still accounts for 72 percent of the state's general revenue. Lawmakers could add money for schools and reduce the "required local effort" districts must make with property taxes. But school boards, not lawmakers, would get the glory from lower property taxes. The way to give everyone a tax cut would be to cut the sales tax rate from its current 6 percent. A half-cent of sales tax raises more than $1 billion. No one talks that big. The way to cut the sales-tax rate is to start by getting rid of some exemptions so the smaller rate can pay for itself. That, however, would risk offending special interests that lobbied for their exemptions. When it's time for tax reform, lawmakers take Homer Simpson's advice to Bart: "If something's too hard, it's not worth doing." As a controversial zoning change shows, Palm Beach County commissioners apply ethics selectively. the county commission in October reaffirmed the switch to commercial use. That was a mistake. The zoning never was changed because an agent for Dr. Roberts withdrew the request for change after the sale fell through. In other words, because the staff didn't check all the documents, the county commission "reaffirmed" a zoning change that never really happened. The county discovered this mess because Lantana residents complained their commissioner, Warren Newell. Mr. Newell was right to ask for a staff investigation. Dr. Roberts says he'll pursue the change. He shouldn't get it. Commissioner McCarty says the whole thing was "an egregious act." That's the same Mary McCarty who sees no conflict of interest in taking personal vacations with the county's most prominent lobbyist. If the county created an Ethics Zone for commissioners, it would have to be low-density. sort of Bad favor, bad outrage Feminists headed off at en's Quarterly, a publication of the Indeoen dent Women's Forum, notes that some of the $96 billion in education monev the federal government distributes annually go to state and local governments, private business and museums. Schools operated by the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well as law enforcement training conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, all receive federal money. All will come under scrutiny under the regulations. was a relationship, how do we know that it was welcomed or that it didn't contaminate the White House as a workplace? The relationship is properly the subject of a legal discovery process in cases like that brought by Paula Jones. That process includes investigating a possible pattern of behavior on the part of the alleged perpetrator. Demonstrating pattern and practice is often the only way a plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit can get a hearing. After all, sexual harassment is less often about a boss' inappropriate obsession with one woman than about bosses who behave inappropriately toward many women, but with each one only once. Even if it turns out that Ms. Lewinsky had a consensual relationship with the president, Mr. Clinton would not be exempt from investigation. When power differences between the two people involved are extreme, consent counts for little. So the Supreme Court said in 1986, when it ruled that the primary factor in determining sexual harassment is unwel-comcness, not consent. Many women feel pressured to meet the sexual requests of their bosses technically, give their "consent" even I II ii mil in in in im If his the Santa New Such is today's gender Zeitgeist and any one who dissents is sexist. This is pure nonsense, with potential consequences that are purely serious. The rule is this: Quotas mean lower standards, which mean reduced quality. Thanks, Title IX. Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. the pass though they may not welcome the re-; quests or liaisons, may not solicit them; and may also be offended by them. That so many feminists don't appreci-, ate the distinction between welcomeness and consent bodes ill for sexual harass-' ment law. ,' Similarly, when some feminists claim ! that what Ms. Jones and Ms. Willey have: accused the president of doing isn't really : sexual harassment because it hannonpH: only once and because the president took .' no for an answer, they are forgetting.' something important: There is no nu-i merical threshold for harassment. : Nor does the law say each boss gets to ask each female worker for oral sex ; once as long as he doesn't force her when she says no. There would be precious,' little protection for women if all male; uusses were enuuea to one tree nit. We must affirm the distinction drawn by the Supreme Court between wel-: comeness and consent. Otherwise no! woman who unwillingly succumbs to her ! doss win nave any legal recourse. We must also insist that even qpe unwelcome sexual advance is too rnajy? what Ms. Jones and Ms. Willey say;is true, the fact that the president didn't force them to have sex would not exonerate him from harassment charges. Many people, including some femi-'! nists, construe this president's alleged-misconduct as being "just about sex."" To the defendant in any sexual ha- rassment case, discovery and cross-ex- ' animation are indeed just about sex, since sex is, after all, one goal of the ' harasser. If we permit the president to escape . obligation to tell the truth because the subject is "only" sex, then defendants m future harassment cases may claim the same exemption. ,. , In a he-said-she-said situation where'-"he" has power and "she" does not which is common in harassment cases defendant's stonewalling will always deprive the plaintiff of a fair hearing. Gwendolyn Mink is a professor of ' pmiHs ai me university of California at Cruz. She wrote this article for The York Times. . . special zoning favor for Palm Beach County Commissioner Carol Roberts' son was arrogant and sneaky or sloppy, at the least. Just as bad is Commissioner Mary . McCarty's mock outrage. In 1989, Commissioner Roberts ; voted to change the zoning on property ; in Lantana that her son, Mark, intended to buy. Dr. Roberts, a dentist, wanted a change to commercial from residential. ; . Not only did Commissioner Roberts vote for the change, she made the motion to approve it. Not only that, her vote was crucial in the 3-2 approval. Not only that, county staff had recommended against making the change. At the time, state law did not prevent Commissioner Roberts from voting. Still, abstaining would have been the only way to avoid what any outsider would call a conflict of interest. If she felt she had to vote, Commissioner Roberts should have backed the staffs recommendation. . Nothing happened on the property until 1997, when Dr. Roberts asked for an update on zoning. County staff was surprised to find that maps continued to show the property zoned for residential. After a lawyer for Dr. Roberts produced documents showing the 1989 change, Neighbors JT gate at the west end of Kel-m ler Bridge isn't the best solution, but it's better than a barricade. Keller Bridge connects 17th Avenue North in Lake Worth with Keller Road in Lake Clarke Shores. It provides a shortcut for Lake Worth residents headed toward Florida Mango Road or Forest Hill Boulevard, though it probably is more important for Lake Clarke Shores residents going to Lake Worth. On June 17, 1995, a hit-and-run driver killed Lake Clarke Shores resident Judy Collins, who was walking her dog in the 7400 block of Pine Tree Lane. The vehicle was going south, so the driver could have turned onto Keller Road and crossed the bridge into Lake Worth. But the vehicle also could have continued around the south end of ' Lake Clarke and eventually onto Florida Mango Road. Correction Because of outdated information supplied to the newspaper, an editorial in Friday's Post incorrectly identified the law firm representing Everglades Regional Medical Center in its dispute with the Palm Beach County Health Care District. The firm's name is Watterson H viand & Klett. to An to the a each road have have gate. not imperfect compromise will keep open a bridge between Lake Worth and Lake Clarke Shores, which tried to close it. Gloria Steinem and the rest of her ilk have not only missed the boat, they've overturned it in their zeal to defend the president - possibly compromising 20 years of sexual harassment jurisprudence. By Gwendolyn Mink Bn the debate surrounding the investigation of President Clinton, some feminists have painted the rest of us into a corner. Defending the president, they have argued that what he is accused of doing is not sexual harassment. This distorts the law and trivializes women's experiences. Kathleen Willey has described her self as a volunteer worker seeking paid employment at the time she says she was groped by the president. Yet according to Gloria Steinem, she was just "a supporter" at whom Bill Clinton made a "reck less pass." Feminism is supposed to be about taking seriously what women say about themselves. But here is a leading feminist rewriting another woman's experi ence to protect a man and in effect compromising 20 years of sexual harassment jurisprudence. Ms. Steinem is not alone among feminists in this retreat from sexual harassment law. Though Patricia Ireland, the presi dent of the National Organization for Women, defended Ms. Willey after the 60 Minutes interview. Ms. Ireland has drawn troubling distinctions between the cases of Ms. Willey and Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Ireland has said that the alleged relationship between Ms. Lewinsky and the president did not involve sexual harassment because, as reported, it was consensual and violated only private marital vows, not public prohibitions against sex discrimination. But how do we know that? The legal inquiry has not been completed. If there That detail didn't matter. Some in Lake Clarke Shores long have wanted keep Lake Worth "undesirables" off their streets, and here was their opportunity. The town council chose to pander and voted to barricade the road Dec. 1 at the west end of the bridge. Lake Worth sued, and a Palm Beach County circuit judge correctly blocked closing. Two years of negotiations followed, leading to an agreement this month that Lake Clarke Shores would install a gate that opens when a car approaches, that Lake Worth would put speed bump on 17th Avenue and that city would post signs saying the is for local traffic only. Both cities approved the deal. Ideally, Lake Clarke Shores would installed its own speed bump, not a Ideally, Lake Clarke Shores would have stuck its taxpayers for attorney's fees. (Lake Worth has a fulltime attorney; its bill was $5,000.) Still, gates that open make better neighbors than fences.

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