Archive for February, 2008

The Goeglein story

February 29, 2008

(Twenty times. That number is important later on, so remember it.)

tim-goeglein.jpgThe four posts I have today were actually written last night and kicked off this morning. I had planned to supplement them with two or three more I worked in with my other duties. But my day blew up from the time I opened my first e-mail this morning. It exploded over — as many of you already know by now — the Tim Goeglein affair. Since I’m the editor of the editorial page that ran his guest columns, I’ve been right in the middle of the whole thing.

Briefly, in case you are a little behind, on Thursday we ran a guest column by Goeglein, a Fort Wayne native who is now a special assistant to President George Bush. We’ve run nearly 40 since 2000. Nancy Nall, a former News-Sentinel columnist and a blogger who now lives in the Detroit area, read the column online. She noticed an unusual name in the piece and Googled it. What she found was a 1998 piece by Jeffrey Hart in the Dartmouth Review that bore an uncanny resemblance to Goeglein’s piece. Reading them side by side made it clear, in fact, that Goeglein had lifted whole chunks of Hart’s essay without attribution. No way around it — the president’s special assistant for faith-based initiatives had committed plagiarism.

That first e-mail today was a heads-up from Nancy that she was going to post on the plagiarism. I read the post, printed it out and immediately went to my boss, Editor Kerry Hubartt, and we started making plans. When there is a charge of plagiarism, there is a protocol. We verify if the plagiarism happened. If it it’s a staff member who is guilty, the staff member is fired. If it is someone else (a letter-to-the-editor writer, for example), that person is banned from the page or the paper. We start examining everything else the person has written to see if there is an isolated problem or an extensive one. We apologize to readers. We don’t have to do it too often, thank goodness. A freelancer for the Features section was banned a couple of years ago. I have banned one letter writer. Usually, this is done quietly, without much fuss or notice.

But Tim Goeglein is a member of the president’s team in a highly charged election season. No way this was going to stay a small, local story. Since this morning, the story has been all over the blogosphere — even Drudge has it now, and he gets something like 21 million hits a day. And the mainstream media have been quick on the uptake for a change. AP has it. The Washington Post has it. We’ve been fielding calls from everybody from Editor & Publisher to the local TV stations.

That’s the reason I can write this now instead of later. There was a fear that if we put too much online, either here or on the paper’s Web site, we would end up scooping ourselves, since we can’t get anything in the dead-tree edition until tomorrow. But that’s old thinking. We finally came to the conclusion that if we waited until tomorrow to tell everything we knew, everybody would get it somewhere else first. There is only one way to do this in the digital age — put what you know online as soon as you know it and keep updating it. That way, instead of just getting written about, we can be quoted, too. (The story should be up shortly, so keep checking periodically if you want to see it.)

With new information, by the way. Twenty (so far) is how many of the 38 columns we checked for which it is possible to say that Goeglein lifted whole chunks of somebody else’s writings. Hart twice. A writer for the New York Sun twice. Numerous people one time each. It’s hard for me to fathom this. If somebody lifts a line or two once, maybe it was an accident. Two or three times, somebody thinks he can get away with something. But 20 times, and not a line or two each time but whole passages? The only thing I can think is that there is some crossed wiring that causes the person to think that plagiarism isn’t really stealing.

It is, of course. Those of us in the business sometimes agonize over whether we might be guilty of it. For any given editorial, I’m likely to have read 10 to 20 articles on the subject just on the day of the writing. Is everything in my finished piece really mine, or did I inadvertenly lift a phrase or two? This incident sort of draws a line, doesn’t it? Nobody claims this isn’t plagiarism, even Goeglein, who has admitted it and apologized.

Don’t know what happens next, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Goeglein is fired or allowed to resign “to pursue other options” or whatever they say these days. The White House issued a statement saying his behavior was “not acceptable,” and that’s when he was thought to be guilty of one or two incidents, not 20.

And The News-Sentinel will keep working on what is a ticklish situation — reporting on what has become the biggest story of the day while being a central part of the story ourselves. Tricky.

It’s impossible to discover every instance of plagiarism before it hits print; that would just be too time-consuming and labor-intensive. And even if we’d had 10 people dedicated to the job, I doubt Goeglein would have been suspected. The faith-based assistant to the president filching somebody else’s words? All we can do is do what we think is right by our readers when we do discover an incident (or it is pointed out to us). I think we’ve handled everything right so far. Let me know if you think otherwise.

UPDATE: The Whie House has accepted Tim Goeglein’s resignation.

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Reserve my copy

February 29, 2008

I can hardly wait:

NEW YORK – Eminem is working on a book that’s “every bit as raw and uncensored as the man himself,” according to his publisher.

Dutton Books, an imprint of The Penguin Group, announced Wednesday that it would be publishing the best-selling rapper’s “The Way I Am” this fall.

[. . .]

Offering a window on the star’s private thoughts on everything from his music and the trials of fame to his love for his daughter, Hailie, this title is every bit as raw and uncensored as the man himself,” Dutton said.

Shouldn’t complain, I guess; at least this is keeping him busy. He hasn’t had an album since 2004, and a spokesman says there is none in the works.

Cause and effect

February 29, 2008

I swear, every time there’s a story about prison issues, there is a dunderheaded observation like this:

The largest percentage increase — 12 percent — was in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted the cost of corrections in his budget speech last month. He noted that the state’s crime rate had increased only about 3 percent in the past 30 years, while the state’s inmate population has increased by 600 percent.

Gosh, how come we are putting so many people in prison when the crime rate is so low? Well, dummies, maybe the crime rate is so low because we are putting the people who would commit the crimes in prison. The news peg for this story is that for the first time in our history we have more than 1 in 100 adults in prison, and that per capita or by the raw numbers either one, we have more people incarcerated than any other nation. It does make one valid point, that we are probably putting a lot of people in prison who don’t belong there and leaving out a lot of people who do. Drug warriors, wake up. And slow down.

Wishful thinking

February 29, 2008

Think her appearance on our ballot will really be necessary come May?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has filed necessary petitions to be on Indiana’s May 6 primary ballot.

Clinton supporters led by Purdue student Amanda Morris turned in a box of signatures to the Secretary of State’s office Wednesday.

Remember when so many political observers (including me) were saying, “Golly, gee, maybe our primary will matter this time around”? What idiots. Hope springs eternal.

Clinton still has supporters?

Team players

February 29, 2008

The Hamilton Southeastern school district fired its superintendent, apparently for being an educator, so someone with a “business” orientation could be hired. Just to show how serious they are, the board president throws out the trendy corporate jargon:

Sturgis on Wednesday said the dismissal had to do with a lack of collaboration between Raimondi and other senior administrators.
“There were questions of team building and breaking down silos,” he said. “Whether some things we said were taken out of context or we didn’t do a good enough job explaining them, we hope to be more clear. People want to know more of the ‘Why?’ and more about the timing.”
In announcing the change Monday, Sturgis praised Raimondi’s educational acumen and background but said the board wanted someone with stronger business skills — someone with the capacity to head a large, multifaceted organization.

Indeedy. Hard to build those teams if you stay in your silos, especially in a large, multifaceted corporation.

But aren’t business skills a rather specialized set best turned over to, say, a finance officer so the superintendent can concentrate on, oh, the education mission?

Pedant’s holiday

February 28, 2008

Clean up you’re writing; Tuesday will be National Grammar Day, and I is watching you:

I confess: I’m one of those people who cares about the difference between a gerund and a participle, between a restrictive and non-restrictive relative clause. This puts me in a tiny minority of deranged grammatical eccentrics — people you should generally try to avoid.

But I have converted from my former life as a grammar prosecutor.

Only now do I know the truth: Sometimes it is best to follow the conventions of standard written English, as quirky, arbitrary and illogical as they often are (explain to me why “aren’t I?” is considered grammatically correct?).

But most of the time — when we’re among friends, family, or anyone we feel comfortable with — we should simply let our hair down and allow our unpolished emissions of language to burst out of us in all their untidy splendor.

That’s sort of how I feel. I care about grammar — in my job, I have to — and I have on occasion corrected people, especially when it involves a pet peeve (I infer what you imply, dammit, and don’t every let me catch you in a “comprising of” situation!) of mine. But the strident Language Police are more than a little annoying. As long as meaning is clear, the purpose of language is served.
 

Cat tales

February 28, 2008

Sometimes I find myself talking to my cats. Guess I’d better watch what I say:

Secret recordings of a pensioner talking to his cats, which police claim include a confession he hit his partner, have been played to a jury.

David Henton, 72, of Neath, denies murdering his long-term partner, Joyce Sutton, 65, from Skewen, in her bed.

Swansea Crown Court heard extracts of undercover police recordings in which, the prosecution claim, Mr Henton said to his cats: “I hit my Joyce.”

But the defence insisted Mr Henton actually said: “I miss my Joyce.”

They wouldn’t need to secretly record me, though. I think my cats would turn me in.

Perfection, black, to go

February 28, 2008

Granted, the quality of the product and the service may have deteriorated at Starbucks. It can happen to any company. But their solution is to promise perfection?

A day after shutting down most of its U.S. shops for three hours to retrain baristas on espresso basics, Starbucks is welcoming customers back Wednesday with a new promise posted in stores: “Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we’ll make it right.”

I stop in occasionally, but I’ve avoided the Starbucks habit. Why pay $3 or $4 a cup for something I can make just as strong myself? You know the best cup of coffee? The next one. (Based on a very old joke with a much more vulgar ending. Think how you cool a cup of coffee.)

NAFTA

February 28, 2008

Before a Democrat gets in the White House and destroys our economy with protectionist nonsense, more people should stand up and defend NAFTA:

His campaign claims a million jobs have vanished because of the deal. That sounds devastating, but over the last 14 years, the American economy has added a net total of 25 million jobs—some of them, incidentally, attributable to expanded trade with Mexico. When NAFTA took effect in 1994, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent. Today it’s 4.9 percent.

But maybe all the jobs we lost were good ones and all the new ones are minimum-wage positions sweeping out abandoned factories? Actually, no. According to data compiled by Harvard economist Robert Z. Lawrence, the average blue-collar worker’s wages and benefits, adjusted for inflation, have risen by 11 percent under NAFTA. Instead of driving pay scales down, it appears to have pulled them up.

Manufacturing employment has declined, but not because we’re producing less: Manufacturing output has not only expanded, but has expanded far faster than it did in the decade before NAFTA. The problem is that as productivity rises, we can make more stuff with fewer people. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s essentially the definition of economic progress.

We’re not the only country facing that phenomenon. China makes everything these days, right? But between 1995 and 2002, it lost 15 million manufacturing jobs.

Even if the candidates don’t want to acknowledge the gains of the last 14 years, it’s hard to see how they can blame NAFTA for economic troubles in Ohio or elsewhere. The whole idea was to eliminate import duties in both the United States and Mexico (as well as Canada). What everyone forgets is that we got the best of that bargain, since our tariffs were very low to begin with.

That central point tends to get overlooked in all the demagoging of NAFTA: It was about lowering barriers, and the net effect was to level the playing field in our favor. If we’re going to survive, let alone thrive, in the global economy that no one is going to stop, lowering the barriers as much as possible with as many countries as possible has to be the goal.

Book ends

February 28, 2008

Of all that humankind has created, books above all are about who we really are: I am what I read. People who insist on treating books as objects to prove to others who they want them to think they are can just stay out of my life:

“It is unacceptable to display any book in a public space of your home if you have not read it.” So runs the “prime directive” for bookshelf etiquette, as issued by a blogger for Time magazine named Matt Seligman. At The American Prospect a couple of weeks ago, Ezra Klein responded in terms that are no less categorical – though hardly more sensible, it seems to me.

“Bookshelves are not for displaying books you’ve read,” says Klein; “those books go in your office, or near your bed, or on your Facebook profile. Rather, the books on your shelves are there to convey the type of person you would like to be. I am the type of person who would read long biographies of Lyndon Johnson, despite not being the type of person who has read any long biographies of Lyndon Johnson. I am the type of person who is very interested in a history of the Reformation, but am not, as it happens, the type of person with the time to read 900 pages on the subject. More importantly, I am the type of person who amasses many books, on all sorts of subjects. I’m pretty sure that’s what a bookshelf is there to prove. The reading of those books is entirely incidental. The question becomes how we’ll project all of this when Kindles takes off and all our books are digital.”

I filled up my bookshelves long ago and decided it was a waste of time to try to build more. Books now occupy the couch, tops of tables, corners, bathroom, half of the stairs going to the second floor. Ones I’ve read multiple times mingle with ones I haven’t gotten around to yet. Wandering through the house, I might pluck up a new find or an old friend.

Years ago, I started a book that was so bad that, after finishing the first chapter, I went outside and threw it in the trash. I was out there at midnight, retrieving it. It’s still around here somewhere, in one pile or another. Perhaps I will encounter it again one of these days, and think better of it.

Bettor up!

February 28, 2008

Woo-hoo!

In a close vote this afternoon, the Indiana Senate approved legislation that would allow paper pull tabs in bars and taverns.

Under the legislation, which was passed by a 26-21 vote, bars and taverns across the state would be allowed to offer pull tabs and other forms of low-stakes gambling. 
And you thought the property tax was all the General Assembly was going to do this session. The House has passed its own version, so the only question is whether this goes to conference committee or the House author agrees to Senate changes so it can go straight to the governor. Is there any valid reason — moral, philosophical, legal — to not just take all laws concerning any type of gambling whatsoever completely off the books?

RIP, William F. Buckley

February 27, 2008

One of the good guys is gone:

William F. Buckley Jr., a conservative icon and public intellectual, died today at the age of 82, The New York Times and Associated Press report.

I first started watching “Firing Line” when I was in high school. I really wasn’t that interested in the political arguments but in improving my vocabulary. On each show, Buckley would use at least two or three words that sent me to the dictionary. Later on, of course, I learned to appreciate his reasoning ability and rhetorical skills. It was impossible to just disagree with Buckley — he brought so much to a debate that opponents had to respond with their best. He was one of the few people called an intellectual who actually deserved the label.

Local talent

February 27, 2008

If Dan Dakich doesn’t work out as IU basketball coach, it is being said, then of course the university must have a “nationwide search” to get the best person possible. That seems to be the big thing these days. The Indianapolis Star is also urging such a search for a public-safety vacancy:

For more than three decades, Indianapolis has filled its top police position from within the department’s ranks. Now, given the spike in crime, creation of the combined Metropolitan Police Department, and the pending shift of police control back to the mayor’s office, it’s appropriate to give serious consideration to hiring an outside candidate to lead the force.
That’s not a reflection on the qualifications of the internal candidates, including current Chief Michael Spears. But a fresh perspective, including experience combating the type of challenges now facing Indianapolis, could prove valuable.
The Star says that to be competitive, the city will likely have to increase the salary “significantly” — nice that the paper can be so cavalier about taxpayers’ money.
There are times when it makes sense to bring in an outsider. There might be two warring factions, as there frequently are in companies or government divisions, and hiring someone internally would be seen as favoring one faction over another. And in the case of basketball, the knowledge is so specialized and the pool of candidates so limited within a specficic geographic area that a nationwide search usually makes sense.
But I’ve always felt that bringing in an outsider (either in the private or public sector) was usually a sign that leaders weren’t doing their proper job of grooming their successors. If the boss doesn’t have somebody ready to take over, the boss isn’t doing his job.
A police chief has to have leadership and administrative skills as they apply to police work, and a specific knowledge of local crime trends and peculiarities. Unless there are nothing but complete duds on the force, it seems to me a city would be better off with the local talent — someone who has the knowledge but might need a little help on the rest rather than someone with management skills who would need help with the knowledge.

There with Obama

February 27, 2008

If you’re one of Barack Obama’s “hope for change” brigade, you really won’t like this article:

Cherchez la femme,” advised Alexander Dumas in: “When you want to uncover an unspecified secret, look for the woman.” In the case of Barack Obama, we have two: his late mother, the went-native anthropologist Ann Dunham, and his rancorous wife Michelle. Obama’s women reveal his secret: he hates America.

We know less about Senator Obama than about any prospective president in American history. His uplifting rhetoric is empty, as Hillary Clinton helplessly protests. His career bears no trace of his own character, not an article for the Harvard Law Review he edited, or a single piece of legislation. He appears to be an empty vessel filled with the wishful thinking of those around him. But there is a real Barack Obama. No man – least of all one abandoned in infancy by his father – can conceal the imprint of an impassioned mother, or the influence of a brilliant wife.

Don’t know about “hates America,” but he is that peculiar brand of citizen who thinks “patriot” means only “point out the flaws,” never “extol the virtues.” I do think the “empty vessel filled with the wishful thinking of those around him” is right. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain the Obama phenomenon. Guess you have to be there.

The savage breast

February 27, 2008

Oh, bushwa:

The New York Philharmonic‘s unprecedented concert could herald warmer ties between North Korea and the United States. After three encores, some musicians left the stage in tears as the audience waved fondly.

Between horn fanfares and the flourishes of the conductor’s baton, the U.S. and North Korea found common ground in a concert Tuesday that spanned American and Korean musical traditions.

Whether the feeling lingers after the music will depend on the North’s compliance with an international push to rid it of nuclear weapons.

Classical music and nuclear weapons. Which wins? Hmm, let me think.  Each side wants a propaganda win, which is why this came about. I’m guessing North Korea wins, because the Western press coverage will be mostly like this, all full of weepily romantic drivel.

Still, probably worth it for us. Music, especially good music, is a universal language. Maybe we will have pushed a few in the audience over the edge, finally fed up with all their loony dictator thug denies them.

One of Indiana’s cities

February 27, 2008

Noblesville — Room for Dreams”?

Noblesville — Economic Development Director Kevin Kelly hopes an Indianapolis firm can help Noblesville gain regional media exposure.

He persuaded the Noblesville Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday to award $15,000 for a six-month marketing contract with Indianapolis-based Coles Marketing Communications. The board also approved up to $2,500 in expenses.

Nah. They’re spending only $15,000, and a slogan that good would cost at least $20,000.

Trendy tatts

February 27, 2008

Yes, by all mean, we should be conservative when considering what tattoo to get:

There’s no denying that tattoos are a popular trend. According to a 2006 study by the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of people ages 18 to 25, and 40 percent of those ages 26 to 40 have permanent body art.

But artist Dave Wallace, at Culture Shock Tattoos and Body Piercing in Valparaiso, questions whether someone should choose a trendy tattoo.

After all, it’ll still be embedded in your skin once fashion has moved on.

Fashion moves on? Who knew?

Noon today

February 27, 2008

Mayor Tom Henry is giving his State of the City address at noon today, and, unlike the speeches of predecessor Graham Richard, it will be a real State of the City address. Richard preferred to give a series of smaller speeches tailored to the audience — economic development issues at the Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood issues at a southside gathering and so on.

I know the reason for Richard’s way — bringing government closer to the people and all that — but I still prefer the old-fashioned way Henry is going back to. The State of the City address — like its state and national counterparts — is supposed to give us all a sense of where we are and what we need, as seen by the chief executive. That gives us all something to chew over and write letters to the editor about. Richard’s speeches tended to fall through the cracks, each given a minute or two on TV and a few paragraphs in the newspapers. Today’s speech, by contrast, will be carried live by WANE and WPTA both and will get extensive ink and radio air time.

Obsession

February 26, 2008

There are so many things to be outraged over each day that we can let our precious anger get scattered all over the place. So today, I think I’ll concentrate all mine on the Wayne High School assistant principal, who is the latest man to succumb to Woody Allen’s Disease, with a 17-year old female student:

School officials told police that Assistant Principal Kristopher Sennett said “he was in love with her and admitted having a relationship with her, but did not admit anything sexual,” according to a police report.

“This relationship is so real that I don’t think of you as being that much younger,” he wrote to her in an e-mail that was released by the school. Uh-huh. A 36-year-old asssitant principal doesn’t think about his age difference with a 17-year-old student. I believe that. Absolutely I do.

This kind of stuff seems to be happening all over the country, including a lot of female teachers taking advantage of their male students. And taking advantage is what they’re doing, the same way a therapist does when sleeping with a patient. Someone whose authority is built into the relationship uses that authority against someone who is vulnerable to it.

It’s still jarring when it happens here, though. How does he face his wife and two children now? How does he even go out in public? Does he still keep his delusion going? I was in love. I couldn’t help it. Don’t you understand? Sorry, pal, you weren’t in love, just obsessed. Heaven knows we can all become obsessed with someone else; yes, I’ve fallen victim a time or two. There is always an element of narcissism involved in such obsessions, blinding us to anything but our own egos. But when it makes you blind even to what a creep you have become — well, state law calls it “child seduction” for a reason.

Logophile’s delight

February 26, 2008

But my head is already full!

Are you a locavore who decries the tapafication of restaurants or a latte liberal on the fence about Billary? No matter, the explosion of new words in the English language is enough to make you want to bury your head under a blankie or run off to Godzone.

English always has been a mongrel language, but thanks to e-mail and the Internet, the global spread of English and a playful response to changing times, new words and phrases are cropping up so quickly that one language-watcher calculates English is bearing down on a milestone: its 1-millionth word.

Actually, a lot of those words are so esoteric that many of us will never need them, and many are pop-culture buzz words with the shelf life of unrefrigerated mayonnaise. Most of us have vocabularies in the mere tens of thousands, and a couple of thousand get us through the average day. (And on some days, I swear I barely hear a couple of hundred, half of which involve variations on, “No, we don’t do that.”) 

And, no, students today don’t have smaller vocabularies than students in the past. How could they, when you think about it?

Sharp-dressed man

February 26, 2008

I know most of you probably think its silly that so many are getting exercised over the idea of people going to other countries and wearing funny clothes. But I ask you: If someone goes to other countries and wears funny clothes now, doesn’t that make it likely that he will go to other countries and wear funny clothes after being elected president? Do we want to live with that kind of embarrassment?china.jpg

Now, this is climate change!

February 26, 2008

Quick, call Al Gore!

The future looks bright for the Earth – but not in the way we’d hoped. The slim chance our planet will survive when the Sun begins its death throes has been ruled out.

In a few billion years, the Sun will fuse the last of its hydrogen into helium, turn into a red giant and expand to 250 times its current size. At first, the Sun’s loss of mass will loosen its gravitational pull on Earth, which will allow the planet to migrate to a wider orbit about 7.6 billion years from now.

This process has led some to speculate that the Earth might escape destruction – but survival now seems impossible, says Peter Schröder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and Robert Smith of the University of Sussex in the UK.

Only a few billion years. Jeez, I thought we had more time.

One for USA Today

February 26, 2008

Never thought I’d see an editorial with this much common sense in USA Today:

To listen to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign in Ohio and Texas is to hear pledges on health care, middle-class tax cuts, mortgage assistance, tuition help, energy initiatives and more.

It’s all very appealing. It’s also almost certainly too good to be true.

In 2009, when the next president takes office, the government is expected to spend $400 billion more than it takes in, adding to a national debt that tops $9 trillion. Yet Clinton and Obama both offer a long list of new spending proposals that suggests a lack of seriousness in confronting the nation’s fiscal condition.

[. . .]

For four decades, Democratic candidates have had to move to the center to have a chance of getting to the White House. But now, sensing a shift in the national mood, both candidates are reverting to liberal orthodoxy.

Perhaps the winner of the nomination will shift to the center somewhat in the general election. If not, the Democratic platform going into November could be one in which the voters are asked to suspend their disbeliefs and ignore fiscal realities. That would be — to paraphrase former president Bill Clinton — one big fairy tale.

It will be very interesting to see what shifts there are for the general election. Democrats and Republicans always sound more extreme in the primaries, since they have to play to the base. How much “back to the center” Obama or Clinton moves will depend not just on what the Democrat thinks voters want to hear, but also on where John McCain positions himself. I know Americans hunger for “change” these days, and they want a lot more government than conservatives and libertarians would like to admit, but it’s still hard to believe they think all that the Democrats are offering would come cheap.

No show for old men

February 26, 2008

Well, good:

The Oscars are a ratings dud. Nielsen Media Research says preliminary ratings for the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast are 14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever.

I was a part of the vast majority that didn’t tune in. If I want to see shallow, self-satisfied people congratulating themselves, I’ll just go to the next Hoosier State Press Association awards banquet. You know what might have made a good show? If the writers strike had continued and they put the Oscars on anyway, with the presenters and hosts just saying normal things instead of scripted “wit.”

Screwed again

February 26, 2008

Greenwood’s taxpayers have all become volunteers, whether they wanted to or not:

An addendum to the city’s personnel policy will allow Greenwood employees to volunteer up to 40 hours each year on the taxpayers’ dime.

The City Council approved the policy addition last week at the urging of Mayor Charles Henderson.

Concerns arose last year when city employees attended planning meetings associated with charitable events during working hours.
“Volunteering is volunteering,” said Councilman Bruce Armstrong, the lone dissenter Monday.
“It’s not having your employer pay for you to volunteer, especially when your employer is a city that is worried about how to fund the Fire Department,” Armstrong added, referring to a $600,000 emergency loan the council approved Monday to cover fire expenses, including Friday’s payroll.

Out of the goodness of your heart, you volunteer your time to a worthy organization. But to ease the pain, you make me pay you for the time. I don’t think so. Councilman Armstrong is right — voluteering is volunteering.