The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 5, 1997 · Page 20
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December 5, 1997

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 20

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Friday, December 5, 1997
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22A I yj tBSm nothing v!??Li THE PALM BEACH POST FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1 997 The Palm Beach Post TOM GllTFRIDA, Publisher EDWARD SEARS, Editor LfJN DANIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA, Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ. Editor of the Editorial Page JAN TVCKWOOD, Associate Editor TOM HIGHFIELD, IT Circulation LARRY SIEDUK, IP & Treasurer GALE HOWDEN, Director, Community Relations BOB BALFE, Director, Production LINDA MURPHY, Director, Human Resources KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research Chiles, Mortham take Florida on a bad trip They deserve a thorough investigation, but not the one promised by Charlie Crist's campaign for the U.S. Senate. The Palm Beach Post's editorial cartoonist, Don Wright, is on vacationj.1 Little boy lost in parents' world child. Get him help. If the state Depart ment of Children and Families or a judge orders counseling and Ritalin, the par-t ents must go along, the deputy figured. Like many, I have a knee-jerk response when someone says government should get more involved in our private lives Especially when it might lead to foster care an overloaded system offering no guar antee of a better home. But this child needs counseling and possibly medication, as well as someone to watch him and help his family make responsible decisions. Who can do that? DCF, which investi-i gates cases of child abuse or neglect, can' step in unless someone alleges the boy is being mistreated. Officials from the Dei partment of Juvenile Justice, who mus?' recommend a plan for the bov. are aDDari ently too busy to discuss ways to heto. 14 7-year-old ought to be playing tag or L) making a mess of the house with his u toy cars and Legos. He ought to be devouring Goosebutnps books or pestering his parents with silly questions. It shouldn't occur to a 7-year-old to whack his mother in the head with a baseball bat. Last week, it apparently did occur to a little boy from suburban West Palm Beach. His mother was hit in the face and knocked to the ground. The child, at 4 feet hardly bigger than a baseball bat, was taken to jail, fingerprinted and charged with a felony. If he were an adult, he could be sent to prison for 15 years. But he isn't. He's a little kid whose home life qualifies him to be a Candy Hatcher poster child for domestic violence. The boy, his mother says, is hyperac tive and should be on Ritalin, a drug used to calm overactive children. When he was taking Ritalin in August, he was a good child, she told police. But his father, who is not married to the boy's mother and no longer lives with the family, believed noth ing was wrong with him. He took the child off the drug in September. Since then, his mother and neighbors say, tne boy has been out oi control, picking on his 6-year-old brother and disobeying his mother. The day he was arrested, neighbors heard him use language that in my family would have meant a mouth washed out with soap. - a XT' The boy is with his father until nexd week, when a judge must decide whether, to send him back to his mother. The judge can't order DCF intervention. But he canl The Democratic governor and Republican secretary of state: together at last. Lawton Chiles and Sandra Mortham are under investigation by the auditor general because state senators agreed they should be. Is it politics? You bet. Is it all politics? No. . By his own admission, Gov. Chiles was, at best, tardy in paying for rides on friends' private planes, mostly for hunting trips. At worst, he failed to report gifts, and the state ethics law requires that gifts over $100 be reported annually. He also may have broken his own thunderously announced rule against taking gifts worth more than $2. Gov. Chiles could never be confused with a human Fil-O-Fax, so it's conceivable he forgot about trips while remembering the turkeys he shot on them conceivable but not acceptable. The people he works for remember to pay their bills and to report what the government demands. He owes them more than a bad memory and a belated scurry to pay after reporters ask questions. Auditor General Charles Lester has until January to decide whether Gov. Chiles owes them more than that. " The rap on Ms. Mortham is more interesting, if only because she will be running in 1998 while Gov. Chiles most likely is headed for his last retirement. Jeb Bush, the GOP nominee presumptive for governor, chose her as his running mate. Her first problem is a $60,000 contribution she solicited from Philip Morris Cos. for the nonprofit Florida History Associates to promote Florida's sesquicentennial in 1995. When the money came too late for the anniversary, she used it for staff picnics, a party and for baubles such as cuff links and pens for visitors to remember her by. Some of the group's board members are irked, but Philip Morris doesn't seem to be. Ms. Mortham says she broke no laws. We'll see what Mr. Cut through uclear fusion power remains a very expensive dream, and a narrowly focused one, at that. Too narrow, say three scientists. Unlike nuclear fission power, in which the heat produced by the breakdown of radioactive atoms boils water to ' drive steam generators, nuclear fusion does not necessarily produce radioac- tive byproducts. But no one has created a sustained fusion reaction that produces more power than it consumes. The best scientists at Princeton have been able to produce is half the power used for one-fourth of a second. Yet federal research money still goes overwhelmingly to this field of research, using a doughnut-shaped machine called a tokamak. The United States may join Europe, the former Soviet states and Japan in an $11.4 billion project for a larger tokamak to . succeed the Princeton machine. Norman Rostoker of the University 1 of Florida and Hendrik Monkhorst and I Michl Binderbauer of the University of -California have a different idea. The a order family counseling, and he can appoint a guardian ad litem to get to know the family and report to the court. j The sad sequence of events that result- ed in a little boy being sent to jail started. ' If he were an adult, he could be sentenced to 15 years for hitting his mother with a bat. But he isn 't an adult. He is 7 years old. A neighbor said the boy's mother had told him to go inside. The child, he said, whacked her in the face, then ran in the house and locked the door, leaving her outside, bleeding. Where did he learn such abhorrent behavior? At home. Twelve court files document his parents' eight-year, abusive relationship. They explain how a 7-year-old came to use profanity and violence to express himself. If the files are to be believed, both parents are responsible. Each is accused of being a pathological liar. The father says the mother used profanity around her children, drank beer in front of them, threw a milk bottle at his head. He doesn't believe his son committed a crime. "She is a violent woman," he wrote. The mother says the father has punched her, choked her, pulled out her hair and sent her to the emergency room. She says he has a gun and has threatened to kill her. She says he's left the children alone for hours and that when the older boy was 2, he had welts from a belt. Without help from outside, what chance do these children have of growing up to have healthy, loving relationships? That's what the sheriffs deputy who answered the call was thinking when he arrested the "-. .. X- , i She's still lying after all Lester says. But offering to be the friend in the Cabinet of a tobacco company while it was being sued for billions of dollars by the state wasn't the most public-spirited thing a secretary of state could do. To add to Ms. Mortham's embarrassment, two newspapers discovered that her husband traveled with her, courtesy of a nonprofit foundation that promotes Florida businesses abroad. That led to a belated repayment. Ms. Mortham apologized and said that "any mistakes that were made were made because of enthusiasm to promote the mission of the state," which is an odd way to say she treated her public job as an entitlement. She blamed her staff. Gov. Chiles implied his staff had been remiss about keeping track of his personal trips. Mr. Lester's report will help Florid-ians calibrate their anger over these incidents. But the auditor general is not the only one on the case. The politically sensitive Leon County state attorney, Willie Meggs, announced he's looking into Gov. Chiles' trips. Sen. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, said his ethics committee will investigate all of the above, the tobacco settlement, trips by Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay and other Cabinet officers and anything else that can grab a headline. Sunshine is the best remedy for official dry rot, but Sen. Crist is running hard to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., next year, and his sunshine machine blows smoke. That's the political part. By the time he finishes with them, offenders may feel public sympathy they don't deserve. con-fusion Money - $11.4 billion in the next installment - is burned in a long, fruitless search for a dream source of power. tokamak uses rare forms of hydrogen in circular machine that must be very large. The three scientists would fuse common forms of boron and hydrogen in a smaller, straight-line machine. Also, according to them, the tokamak is more expensive to maintain and may indirectly create radioactivity. But the trio must look overseas for financing. The government is the only significant source of research money the power companies want the profits but not the costs and federal money goes for tokamak research. One explanation for sticking with the $11 billion solution is the need for a "flagship project" to keep Congress interested. That may be good politics, but it's lousy science. gled their chance at democracy. When Rene Preval succeeded President Aristide in 1996, it was the first peaceful handover of power in Haiti's history. But Mr. Aristide, who was barred by the constitution from seeking reelection, did nothing to nurture democracy. Mr. Aristide formed a political party that attacked Mr. Preval, his former ally. Mr. Aristide also used his influence to defeat economic reforms that were required by international aid agencies. Haiti lost hundreds of millions in aid. Private investors were scared off. Political violence, which killed 3,000 under Cedras, returned, though not to the same degree yet. Drugs have further corrupted a police and judicial system too new and poorly financed to cope. The outlook is grim. Mr. Aristide is eligible to run again in 2000 assuming the government can hold together until then. But Mr. Aristide's return to power, on its own, isn't a solution. He's never been popular with business interests. And his dictatorial leanings including a tendency to offer scapegoats instead of reforms have become more pronounced. The D-minus isn't a final grade. But as international interest lessens along with U.N. inwlvement, the grade is more likely to be revised down than up. years ago, when he saw his parents fight, i If the arrest of a 7-year-old can horrify! us, surely it can be a motivating force to; find solutions to the problems that destroy our children. The boy has been through' enough. His prospective title the youn-j gest violent criminal in Palm Beach County! shouldn t be his legacy. Candy Hatcher is an editorial writer fan The Palm Beach Post. these years , v THE ASSOCIATED PRESSFILE PHOT' If she had lied, it would mean that eho hadn't been raped. That has to be the1'') preieraDie scenano. cut it would also-mean that the teenage Tawana Brawley:1 naa very serious prowems of another kind and that she never got the help she needed and deserved. 'r And it would mean that Robert Abrams, the special nroserntnr whn the grand jury's investigation, was righr.f on the money when he used terms such l f as aoominaoie, disgraceful, deplorable andV reprenenswie to describe the behavior of f Messrs Maddox, Mason and Sharpton I!'J Ms. Brawley's "advisers" sacrificed hesHlf best interests in favor of their ownV'-f reckless desire to exploit our tragic and" '! pathetic obsession with race. f And they're not done yet. All three if men are defendants in a defamation law-suit that is being tried in Dutchess Coun-V ty. In a speech he gave on Tuesday night Mr. Maddox declared: "They don't un3 .1 derstand the whirlwind that is rwnw'i toward Dutchess County." v B Bob Herbert is a columnist for The1 New York Times. H )it 'jH ri Weak mission in Haiti Tawana Brawley and the Rev. Al Sharpton at an Atlanta rally in July 1988"-" I On Tuesday, amid laughter and cheers at Tawana Brawley's return to the spotlight, only derisive references to the grand jury report could be heard. There was no room for reality. By Bob Herbert E EW YORK It was show time at t j the Bethany Baptist Church, a stone and stained-class stnirtnre in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant area. On Tuesday night, the church hosted the return of Tawana Brawley, which was a revival of the festival of ignorance and hate that had its first long run in the late 1980s. White people were allowed to cover Tuesday's event, but they were not welcome. Nor were blacks who had had the temerity to criticize Ms. Brawley and her world-class trio of exploiters and con men, Alton Maddox, C. Vernon Mason and the Rev. Al Sharpton. "We know who our enemies are," said a man in the audience. Ms. Brawley's original story emerged in late November 1987, when she was 15. She had been found half-naked, wrapped in a plastic bag and partly smeared with feces outside an apartment complex in upstate Wappingers Falls. Ms. Brawley said she had been kidnapped, beaten and raped by six white men, one of whom wore a badge. Her ordeal, she said, lasted four days. The alleged attack caused widespread outrage, and blacks, especially, mobilized in support of the teenager. But each attempt to document the story came to nothing. Each of Ms. Brawley's alleged facts evaporated upon close scrutiny. Finally, after an exhaustive investigation, a New York state grand jury determined that Ms. Brawley had lied, that she had fabricated the story of abduction and rape. The attack had never happened. On Tuesday night, amid the laughter and cheering that accompanied Ms. Brawley's return to the spotlight, only derisive references to the grand jury report could be heard. There was no room for reality at Bethany Baptist. Too manracially charged emotions had been iwu iiiunuia ichci, a giant! jury luuna inai ms. brawiey nad fabricated the tale of her 0an0-rarf hv white mpn tho nrowinnc Mmomhar O "O I J ...wi. ti iw IVIIUUd IIWtlllLfWl. . if he U.S. mission to Haiti earns a grade of D-minus. Not good, but not quite a failure. Technically, the mission had become a United Nations peacekeeping effort. And by the end, U.S. troops . technically weren't even involved. It 'was Canadians and Pakistanis who were J patrolling Haiti. 1 But the effort to turn Haiti into a functioning democracy has been U.S.- led. It began in September 1994, when r 20,000 U.S. troops drove Raoul Cedras ''from power and reinstated President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Even now, after - the U.N. peacekeeping mission expired - Nov. 30, about 500 U.S. soldiers remain 'in Haiti. They're working on roads and construction projects. About 50 U.S. ' civilians will join a 300-member group monitoring police, the last remnant of , U.N. involvement. -' Haiti no longer has a dictator. That's why the mission isn't a failure. The ' mission gets a few extra points, from ' Florida's point of view, for keeping most Haitians in Haiti. Refugees aren't r running away. But that has more to do ' with the futility of running. The economy is as bad as it was under dictators. But because the country is free again, that may be a technicality there's no chancetor asylum. Haitians, at least in part, have bun invested in Tawana Brawley. Too many cherished beliefs about the wickedness of white people were at stake. The faithful could not allow themselves to consider that Ms. Brawley had lied, or that the racial firestorm that had flared up around the case was primarily the result of the wildly irresponsible behavior of Messrs Maddox, Mason and Sharpton. So when Ms. Brawley, now 25, was introduced, the thunderous chant of "We want Tawana!" gave way to "We believe Tawana!" Ms. Brawley, who still seems childlike, stood at a bank of microphones with cameras flashing all about and told the audience: "I'm not a liar. I'm not crazy." Spectators asked, "Why would she lie?" Others said, "The grand jury lied." Everybody protested too much. Later, as I walked in the cold air and a strong wind that blew down Marcus Garvey Boulevard, I wondered, as I often have, why people who say they care about Tawana Brawley would prefer to believe that she had been beaten and raped by six men rather than accept the of erwhelming evidence that she had lit-d.

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