Sunday, November 28, 2004

Change continues to come to Lamar.
According to the Saturday Democrat, Danny Little is resigning as president of Lamar Bank and Trust Company. The Democrat gave this story the kind of prominent page-one play it deserved...but I am going to ask the same question again.
How in the world can the city of Lamar's newspaper of record go all of this time without running a single word about the resignation of Dan O'Sullivan as chairman of the board of the company his father created.
Danny Little's story deserves to be told and it deserves to be told on page one. It is the kind of story that should be running on page one of a small-town local newspaper, but the continuing saga of O'Sullivan Industries and the changes it has been going through is the biggest story going in the Lamar area and has been for the past several months.
The entire family of the man who saved the city's economy after Lawn Boy moved out in the early 1960s has been ousted from positions of leadership, along with others who had helped guide the company for three decades or more.
The only stories the Democrat has run have either been press releases from the desk of million-dollar CEO Bob Parker or items that were spoonfed to the paper by him.
Parker's side of the story deserves to be heard, no doubt about it. But when the local newspaper runs that side, without writing anything about what has happened to the O'Sullivan family and other long-time company officials, then it is not serving its public.
Some of the people who have been pushed out by the new regime are not able to talk to the media due to clauses in their severance agreements. Big deal. Those severance agreements are part of the public record (as was the text of Daniel O'Sullivan's resignation letter). The other side is out there, it just takes a little digging to get to it.
The O'Sullivan story is not over. Let's hope it doesn't get totally bypassed by Lamar's newspaper of record.
I hope the protest and counter protest at Webb City High School Monday morning are peaceful. From what I saw of the anti-gay protesters on the TV news tonight, they may be the best thing that could ever happen for high school student Brad Mathewson's cause. Yes, these bigots should be allowed to protest. That is the American way and it is the First Amendment. It is hard to believe such ignorance exists in the 21st Century, but it obviously does.
But those who are staging the counter-protest also have First Amendment rights. I hope they show up in large numbers. I still don't agree with the premise that Brad Mathewson should be allowed to wear his T-shirt, any more than I believe those who wore the anti-gay t-shirts should be allowed to wear those at school. Those rules do serve a purpose, even if the Webb City officials did a poor job of evenly enforcing them, which appears to be the case.
What these Topeka protesters are doing is making it look as if there is only one right side in this case and that only lunatics like this reverend and his followers would think of opposing a gay youth's constitutional rights.
That is far too simplistic. This is truly a case with many legitimate arguments pro and con. And despite what the ACLU officials have said, the Tinker vs. Board of Education case does not grant carte blanche to students to allow them to exercise their First Amendment rights any time and any place they want.
The courts have recognized for years the need for public education to continue with minimal interruption. For instance, you can't have a student jump up and begin shouting political slogans while a math class is working on equations.
The current situation, obviously is different, but is it as clearcut as the ACLU press releases would have us believe? Being on the front lines every day, I can tell you it is not.
Where did the Thanksgiving vacation go?


Seth said...

All free speech is limited by various vital public interests. I agree that school officials should have the ability to limit disruptive activities to a degree. I think the ACLU does as well. Their problem is that they are a dart board for the right wing of America. All that constant demonizing makes even ACLU members afraid of themselves. :-)

As a former student in a SWMO High School, I think there are more important administrative activities than enforcing bans on T-shirts. Teachers should be more concerned about forming good working relationships with students than becoming appropriateness monitors.

Anonymous said...

Please read this story at:[rkey=0021251+[cr=gdn

I am sending a story that occurred in Barry County. I believe Mr. Rueda was not offered help due to his ethnicity. I believe he has a strong case against Barry County and the individuals in the Monett Rural Fire Department (every individual). Please look into this, our state deserves better than this hick bigot reputation.

Monett Rural Fire Association response to blaze resurrects questions about not fighting blazes by non-members Police called as property owner, burned from saving trailer, expresses anger over non-assistance Murray Bishoff Managing Editor Published February 14, 2006 4:00 PM CST Rural chief says membership-based organization cannot survive if policy is not strictly maintained A rural Monett man was injured and a garage, plus at least one vehicle, were destroyed in a rural fire yesterday that roused consternation over the Monett Rural Fire Association's policy of not fighting fires on the property of non-members. The fire broke out over the noon hour yesterday one-and-a-half miles south of Highway 60 on Farm Road 1090, at a property owned by Bibaldo Rueda. The four acres Rueda owns had a concentration of four mobile homes and a number of vehicles clustered relatively close together. Rueda managed to get one endangered mobile home out of the way, using a garden hose and buckets, but was burned in the process, reported Barry County Sheriff's Detective Robert Evenson. Monett Rural Fire Department responded to the scene, but did not fight the fire. Chief Ronnie Myers reported Rueda was not a member. Firefighters stood by from the road as the fire burned itself out. A shed, garage, and an adjacent vehicle were destroyed. "People need to realize you've got to become a member. If you live outside the city limits, you need to join one of the rural fire departments," Myers said. The association had members on both sides of the fire and behind it. Firefighters stood by in case the fire spread. Those on the affected property did not understand the association's policy, and became angry when the firemen would not help. Deputy Evenson reported Rueda had owned the property for a year-and-a-half, and said he had never heard he had to join. He offered to pay, Evenson said. The Monett department does not have a policy for on-the-spot billing, but has billed homeowner's insurance companies for service. The department will fight a fire without question if a life is believed to be in danger. Highway Patrolman John Lueckenhoff also stopped at the scene. Monett Police were contacted for assistance as well. Myers admitted the Monett Rural association has not made a concerted effort to get its message into the Hispanic community in particular. He planned to call a number of Hispanic leaders and try to get word about memberships into better circulation. During the call, the Pierce City Rural Fire Department provided mutual aid, and responded to a medical call at Ken's Body Shop. Myers observed the department's legal obligation is to its members. Firefighters probably would have left the Rueda fire, he said, had there been a member fire at the same time. The fire situation was clearly an uncomfortable one for the firefighters. As one of those present commented, if they fought the fire, there would be no incentive for anyone to have a membership. Without the financial support of memberships, the association could not exist. Cassville and Mt. Vernon have gone to tax supported rural fire districts, following a public vote, wherein all fires are fought. Tax supported districts have well defined borders, and the service area for the Monett Rural Association is somewhat fluid. A number of property owners around the edges have memberships in more than one department. Rural Monett members have not been asked to choose between memberships and tax support, though they came out strongly against the proposed Aurora Rural Bi-County Fire Protection District, which was voted down in 2001. Evenson observed other rural departments will bill non-members to fight fires, as does the Pierce City rural department. He added one McDonald County department charges $500 for each fire truck responding to the scene. Bills sent to insurance companies by the Monett Rural association have used a similar formula. Monett rural firefighters told Evenson at the fire scene the association has concern about fire victims not paying the bill, which would be the equivalent of getting their fire fought for free. Without aid at the scene, Evenson commented people like Rueda are nonetheless left without help