Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parental Responsibility Ordinance

At Large Councilmen, Eric Turner and Jim Montelongo are once again hoping to parlay public fears into a parental responsibility ordinance. The recent ongoing crime wave is being used as impetuous to hurry through a ordinance that will hold parents accountable for the crimes their children commit. Just last week, the practice was deemed unconstitutional in Davenport, Iowa. However, Councilmen Turner and Montelongo are mindful, yet hopeful that their ordinance will make it here in Peoria. You know, Peoria is unique.

There are so many questions:

Will this ordinance tie into the District 150 truancy program? Will this ordinance also go after parents of children who are ticketed for underage drinking? Will this ordinance go after parents who children receive traffic tickets? Will this ordinance go after parents who children have illegal drugs at school? If the parents fail to comply in whatever way, what will be the final consequence? If fines are imposed, do we really think parents would be capable of paying hefty fines in this economy? Will the parent be required to serve community service? If so, what of the parent’s other children who may still be in the household?

What services will be available for a parent who can't control their child? If the parent is away from home paying for the problem child’s crimes, what of the problem child then? Will they become a ward of the State–an orphan, or they will be tried as adults because their parents couldn't control them.

Is the April 6th Forum just so people can come and complain, or will the Councilmen have some answers to the tough questions that surround an ordinance like this?

I am all for parents being held accountable, however, I am not so quick to believe that this is the answer. This parental responsibility ordinance is a slippery slope, that will cost the City money to enforce. Will the numbers for the cost of enforcing this ordinance be available at the Forum on April 6th.

Before Councilman Turner and Montelongo proceed down this route, they should try talking with the Police Chief, isn’t there something he could do to be more effective? How about that Race Relations Commission, couldn't they offer a suggestion on something by now?

As far as Peoria’s image that Councilman Turner is so concerned about—that image is a result of the decisions and/or indecisions of the Mayor and City Council. And while we are trying clever ways to stop the young troublemakers, let’s not forget about all of the adults who are committing crimes. Who will City Council hold accountable for that?

Cahill is somewhere smiling...

As previously posted by EmergePeoria:

In a recent TimesObserver article Mr. Cahill stated "the district has no choice but to make cuts if it hopes to maintain the A+ bond rating it now has from Standard & Poor’s."

The District knew that they could loose their A+ rating if they didn't close schools. If they had made the tough decision to close schools the first time, we wouldn't be in this predicament now.

The Journal Star is reporting that on April 6, Hinton will recommend closing two primary schools. Only two—will that be enough? What about the high school situation?

What two schools do you think the District will be closing? Why the two with the least amount of resistance (i.e., south of War Memorial), of course. As a result the children in the black community, those who are the most vulnerable, will bear the brunt of the burden to cut costs.

"But there is a caveat", the Journal Star has done a little in depth reporting and are actually giving those that may oppose a heads up on what it would take to defeat the District’s attempt to seek bonds to cover the deficit:

This is just me speculating, but as long as the District stays South of War Memorial and only close primary schools—I don’t think they will meet any opposition.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bloggers and the News Ombudsman

Across the country newspapers are looking at ways to cut costs and are letting go of their newspaper ombudsmen. Why? Because it is a widely held belief that because newspapers now allow bloggers to comment on stories, we no longer need ombudsmen to make sure that a story is not slanted one way or another. However, I am under the impression that the opposite needs to happen. In my opinion, the advent of local blogs and citizen bloggers make it even more necessary for newspapers to hire ombudsmen to protect the integrity of the newspaper and the city as a whole.

A news ombudsman receives and investigates complaints from newspaper readers or listeners or viewers of radio and television stations about accuracy, fairness, balance and good taste in news coverage. He or she recommends appropriate remedies or responses to correct or clarify news reports.

News ombudsmen generally function in an advisory capacity only, not as disciplinarians. Some newspapers use titles such as "readers' representative," "readers' advocate," or "public editor." Others have an assistant managing editor or an assistant to a senior editor who act as ombudsman. (from newsombudsmen.org)

If you read pjstar.com, you know that citizen bloggers are expressing negative feelings for fellow citizens, for City initiatives and for the City as a whole. More specifically, if there is a story about minorities committing crimes, the school district, new taxes, or the police, the comments of bloggers can be down right nasty. So nasty, that the City and the Journal Star could come off looking like they condone such hateful comments when they can’t catch them fast enough.

If you were looking to move to Peoria and read the local blogs or the newspaper on line, chances are you would come away with the impression that Peoria is filled with negativity; all political leaders care about is a museum; gangs run the City; and/or the schools are worthless. These conclusions may or may not be true, but outsiders could possibly begin to view Peoria as a city devoid of culture and indifferent to diversity.

Lately the Journal Star has been restricting comments on certain stories. It’s difficult to pin point what story they may or may not allow posting, readers are left to guess why. Sometimes they allow posting on a story that seems like they should have closed. Local bloggers pick up on the story and people go to the local blogs and comment and yes, sometimes in this process, the City and the Journal Star are slammed for closing off comments and not allowing the story to be explored further by citizen bloggers.

Newspapers don’t like it, but local blogs have an impact on what stories city newspapers cover. Community blogs that have high reader interaction often raise issues that the main stream media (i.e., local news stations and newspapers) are not covering. As a result, citizens could be left to question if the news [paper] is fair and balanced in their coverage of certain issues. Closing off all comments on certain stories invites this type of scrutiny.

It’s not just locally that there are concerns about the impact of citizen bloggers. In Salisbury, Maryland, the mayor has gone on record with her belief that malicious bloggers are endangering the moral of the city:

Citizens - bloggers (negative and otherwise) are challenging newspapers and city leaders like never before. In the current environment, any city and/or newspaper with a citizenship that actively participates in blogging could benefit from the ombudsman.

As newspapers struggle to compete with the blogosphere, self-regulation and reputation management will be more important than ever. A person on staff, who the public know is an advocate, is good public relations for a city and a newspaper.

Click here and here to see the above-referenced pjstar.com news items.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Again, not all young black children are thugs

Over at Peoria Story, Elaine Hopkins has an entry about children being discriminated against at March Madness and as a result, black leaders are up in arms. I know I’m not alone in feeling really bad for the teens who were turned away. After all, it’s not their fault if gangs run Peoria.

The NAACP and other black leaders are right, this is an injustice… (here comes the but), But didn’t reasonable people know that if children in Peoria were allowed to continue to run rampant and terrorize the community, that eventually people would begin to look at all youngsters who fit a certain criterion as thugs and trouble makers? Stereotyping? Of course, but any reasonable adult who has seen Crime View Community knows that if you live and/or do business in a certain part of Peoria, you have to make judgment calls about your safety. These days, even a simple, white t-shirt could be a sign of a gangbanger.

Don Jackson, NAACP President believes that “Black children were singled out in ...” I agree with Mr. Jackson, I don’t doubt that they were singled out. Although it‘s unfortunate that it happened and it is hurtful to the children, is this really the fight the NAACP needs to have at this time?

I think we can all agree, that the behavior displayed by the young people who are terrorizing this community is a symptom of a greater problem. The NAACP and black leaders need to address the root cause of why so many young black folks in this town feel like nobody gives a damn about them, therefore, they don’t give a damn about nobody. It's a vicious cycle and we have to break it.

In the meantime, our children, law abiding citizens, are being turned away at the door of the Civic Center and make no bones about it – it’s WRONG. However, (... and I'm totally playing the devil's advocate on this) is it really discrimination when reasonable folks would consider taking similar precautions because of the crime in Peoria and the subsequent information on Crime View Community? I mean, come on, businesses are locking the door and making people ring the doorbell before getting in.

The black population of Peoria, Illinois is upwards of 25,000. The vast majority of the crime is in the black community. The majority of the crimes are being committed by black youth. The majority of us live in the neighborhoods where people are getting shot everyday. Black children live in a town where when they are shot dead, the police just can’t seem to solve the crime, but they will put up a map to warn citizens of the areas to avoid.

People can’t go to a street carnival without possibly getting beat-up, cussed out or shot at. Women and elderly are getting mugged regularly. There are complaints of discrimination in city services. The schools are failing our children and there are reports of lunch rooms being terorrized by thugs. What I and other law abiding citizens of Peoria want to know is can the NAACP and black leaders please, please, please talk to somebody about these issues?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The man my Barbie always wanted...

I was strolling through my favorite thrift store with “Lil One” when I saw him. The guy of my pre-teen dreams. G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu Grip.

I showed him to “Lil One”. She went wild, she didn’t know nothing about that. She had never seen GI Joe. She thought the one in the white looked like Kanye. I didn’t need to convince her that he would be a better play mate for Veterinarian Barbie than Fred (from Scoobie Doo), she knew.

We took him and his two well built friends.