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Time for a cleanup column

Jack Balshaw 8/21/02


I have these little thoughts I find interesting but which don't justify a full column. Here are a few I'd like to mention.

When I read about the Downtown Merchants having to hire security guards because our Police Department couldn't provide them with the protection they felt they needed, the thought struck me, "Why not have the police do the actual hiring?" As it stands, our Recreation Dept. hires private security guards to patrol its parks and lock and unlock what gates there are. Does the Water Dept., the Airport or any other city dept do the same?

If the police did the hiring, especially Police Academy graduates, they could use the positions almost as a training or pre-employment opportunity. We already have Community Service Officers who handle things the regular patrol isn't required for. Why not add another specialty function?

The filing period for City Council and Mayor candidates has closed. We have three newcomers ready to compete with three council incumbents for their seats and one opponent for the Mayor position against the present mayor. I'm trying to remember what the purpose was of the public funding provision in the new campaign ordinance and did it work? I thought it was to encourage a greater number of new candidates. It doesn't appear to have done so.

What issues should be settled before we go into Iraq? I don't mean the justification for doing it; I mean what this country will do. In every war since WWI, we've had casualties, psychological or other, who had to fight for post war health care from the government. The Defense Department has usually fought their claims (i.e. Agent Orange and posttraumatic stress syndrome in Vietnam and similar problems from the Gulf War). What about this time.

The politicians all love the soldier when there's fighting but soon forget him when the war is over. Let's pass legislation BEFORE we go the war that all combatants will receive government health care for a minimum of ten years after the war ends. If we truly intend to take care of our military, why would anyone not do this? Or aren't they as important as fire and police officers?

A couple of weeks ago, several groups of Nigerian women took over some oil platforms and held them until the companies agreed to their demands. The strange thing is that they were able to continually occupy the platforms by threatening to take off their clothes if anyone tried to forcefully remove them. (That wouldn't get them very far here.)

It seems that in Nigeria this is a "shaming" action, which the Nigerian men are very afraid of culturally. We think of these African village people as simple natives and yet they have found and adopted a non-violent means of protesting and of the protestors having some "protection" from authorities. Perhaps someone in our society should look into this further.

Having the FBI and CIA give intelligence analysis to a new Department of Homeland Security allows everyone to pass the buck if things go wrong and take the credit if things go right. For instance if DHS doesn't act or over reacts in the information, the FBI and CIA can say, "That's not our fault". The DHS can say, " The context in which the information was given to us dictated that we do what we did". No accountability on anyone's part. What a way to run a government.

How about the latest with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, they broke up a child smuggling ring. No, the children weren't being smuggled into the country for illegal adoption. No, they weren't going to be sweatshop slaves. They were being united with their parents who had previously entered the country illegally. Nice to know this top Justice Department priority could go on because terrorism has been taken care of.


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