Monday, February 28, 2011

Holding Their Feet To The Fire

I recently had a heated discussion with some acquaintances about some of our elected officials (you're not surprised are you? lol).  I will come right out and say it...I do not like the administration that is in office right now.  Am I a racist, not in the least, am I a right wing nut, haven't had to use the straight jacket for awhile now, so no and do I hate liberals, no some of them are quite nice.  However, I believe that no matter who is in office you need to hold them to a higher standard than the average Joe.  If I gave them my vote it's because I thought they could accomplish in DC or Harrisburg what I could not do on my own and they are supposed to represent my interests to the best of their ability.

I am quite disgusted at how the present administration is pushing through legislation that no one reads, yet they call it the next great fix and how they have decided that we are to be the "nice one" in the equation when dealing with people who want to kill us.  They purported to run on Hope and Change, but what we appear to have gotten is that they are going to make the changes they want and hope you don't notice.  I am not going to get into the long drawn out details or my specific gripes because, well, I have other things to do today and the list is long, but there is something specific that is bugging me.

I will hang my head and say, "Yes I have an account on Facebook."  But in my defense I am living in PA and I went to High School in Colorado, so a lot of my HS friends are still back in Colorado, FB is the best way to keep in touch.  However, I also have a few friends that are elected officials in various capacities.  Now here is the thing that bugged me.  One of my friends has his job in Harrisburg and I voted for him with no trepidation and did not even have to think twice, (here it comes wait for it) BUT regardless of that I am not going to blindly follow what he suggests in my best interest just to get a big thank you comment on my FB page.  There were a couple of bills that this person was for and his conviction impressed me, yet there was something I am still sitting on the fence about and I voiced my opinion.  Both the comments before and after mine were praise and worship.  I see nothing wrong with that, but are we not supposed to question our leaders when we are not sure of something?  Are we not supposed to hold their feet to the fire when we think that something is not in our best interest?  And lastly are we not supposed to hold them accountable to the promises that they made while campaigning and sometimes the main reason we voted for them instead of "the other guy"?

I guess when it comes to the world of politics I should get some experience in cage fighting since it can get bloody and violent before you know it.  One thing I do know is no matter if I like your stances, ideas and ideals, I am not going to stop questioning your motives and moves if I am not sure that it is in my best interest.  So be prepared to have your feet held to the fire.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bully Pulpit

I just read an article in which three Downingtown Middle School students were "disciplined" for bullying another student on the bus and I had to laugh.  It was quoted that these incidents are not the norm and that bullying is taken very seriously.  Really?  I as a parent reported several incidents of bullying on the bus when my boys were in Middle School and MY boys were the ones counselled.  Rarely were any steps taken to take the trouble makers off that bus or any bus for that matter.  In fact for two years of the three that my boys attended DMS I drove them to school because the bullying was so bad.  I see it now at the bus stops young men calling other young girls and boys names and stepping in their way so that the kids have to walk in the street around them, kids walking home with tears in their eyes because they have been pushed around to an extreme amount and those are the minor occurrences that I happen to witness.

Then if the parents are called in for a "parent conference" it is plain to see where the offenders get their behavior.  The parents develop an attitude of  "Not my child" and  "My kid said he/she didn't do it so that's all there is to it and you better not discipline him/her."  It seems that this time there is video to back up the claims and the police were contacted so the district cannot squirm out of this one by just saying appropriate actions were taken.  Oh yeah bullying is taken seriously when a possible lawsuit is hanging over your heads, but don't try and delude the rest of us into thinking that it is taken that seriously by anyone in the district.  But most of all DO NOT hand any of the parents of kids who have been bullied the line., "Kids will be kids" because the kind of behavior that these little miscreants are displaying is way beyond being crappy to another student it plain bad seed material.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Way Things Are

I did not think that I was going to an amusement park last night, but that is what happened at the Borough Council Meeting.  I think none of us had the idea we were getting on a roller coaster once the meeting opened.  First up a citizen from Johnsontown Community Group got up during citizens to be heard and requested and answer as to what was going on with the oil spill in the Brandywine coming from the vicinity of a house on Bradford Ave right near Glenside.  He got the typical bureaucratic pass the buck to the environmental agencies that are apparently taking care of the situation, yet the borough  has not had an update in awhile.  Yeah OK we believe that.

Then those of us in attendance got to sit through a very contentious resolution discussion on the parking issue for the Classic Diner.  A gentleman who seemed to be a partner in working on the building was extremely upset that the council wanted to pass a resolution that would move the building forward.  He spoke out of turn and generally made the council members uncomfortable, which at first made me a bit angry until our turn came, but I digress.  Some of the questions that came from council were valid, but there were some that could have held for another time as the diner is still looking to get their permits and ducks in a row.  Another resolution that I will have to do some research on was passed and then it came time for Johnsontown Community Group's turn.  We were requesting that the process be started to rectify the parking issue on East Church Street.  We had done our due diligence, spoke with Chief McGowan, Jack Law and the residents to come up with what we thought was the best solution to the problem.  We suggested that one parking permit be issued per household for parking on East Church Street excluding the two houses at the top of the street and the two houses at the bottom of the street since they have access to their own parking.  We had discussed at length this issue with the residents at various times and had come with petition in hand.  We had made a suggestion that the overflow or visitors would be given a grace permit to park in the Johnsontown Park parking lot if it was needed.  It seemed like a simple request, but it turned into a nightmare.  First of all none of the council members truly listened to what our president Nick Winkler had said.  They got stuck on the topic of the overflow parking and that is not our main concern.  It was also brought up that if it is different than what the borough usually does then it could become a problem.  Then the coup de grace....Steve Henning who apparently heads the parking committee in the Borough quashed everything with a few well placed words and the council put us on the back burner until the parking committee could go over the issue.  Jaime Bruton looked at us and said, "I know this is not what you want, but it is how it needs to be handled for council to make an informed decision."  Really?  If you had listened to what was presented one person with the ego the size of an elephant would not have been able to derail a simple request from a community group who had done their homework and did not come to the table willy nilly with no solution just suggestions.

After the meeting Steve Henning was approached by a member of Executive Council for Johnsontown Community Group and a resident on East Church Street.  She politely requested that he attend our next meeting to speak with the residents about the issue as it is easier for some of the older residents to only have to travel to our meeting at night.  Mr Henning declined in a not so polite way.  In fact we were told that this was not an issue for an open forum by Mr. Henning.  I am not sure where you got that idea Mr. Henning, but I abhor people who are not willing to work with the residents that will be impacted by your high handedness.

That was not the end of the rancour last night.  The appointments to boards and commissions got very heated also.  I could honestly see both sides.  Councilman Gazzarro and Councilwoman Feldman both made good points that the council usually goes with the committees recommendations or the most qualified which I can certainly see.  But Council President Bruton, Councilman Benner and Councilman Smith had a another good point too that new blood is needed on and around these positions.  A compromise I saw was to move the alternate into the voting position and then place the "new blood" in the alternate position, but who am I?

After the meeting we at JCG spoke to several council members and I believe got some of their support for the parking issue.  They had time to actually listen to what we wanted...our immediate concern was to get permits for the residents of East Church Street and worry about overflow later.  I personally had to swallow my pride and bias and ask for help from the person you would least expect me to approach, but when I truly thought about it Kardon Park is one issue in the borough and that will be there later and if Ann is truly willing to help then I will work with her any way I can to help our community in Johnsontown.

However, I still have to work on my resentment towards Steve Henning as I see him letting his ego get in the way of the job he needs to do and that is the worst kind of bureaucrat there is.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Cheese With The Whine

So many people have been complaining today and it's not just the normal eww it's Monday kind of lament it seems to be because it's Valentine's Day. As a kid I was usually sick around this time of year so Valentine's Day used to mean a trip to the doc for strep or bronchitis. However, for so many it's a time when they express their love. What I find a shame is that they have to wait for one particular day. What is wrong with treating your loved ones to chocolate candies, cards of appreciation, hugs, kisses and dinners more than once a year? Does Valentine's Day mean that you can treat your loved ones like crap the rest of the year and make up for it in one day?

If you look up who Valentine's Day is named after each one of the many "saints" and others were martyrs. Now I don't know about you, but celebrating peace love and understanding on a day that someone chose for martyrdom is not my idea of romantic love...or even familial love.

I appreciate the many times that my sons will hug me or kiss me on the cheek during the year, or when my husband tells me, "I love you" or my friends tell me that they have my back. I don't want to wait till one day a year to hear those kinds of things....and we are not guaranteed that we will make it each year to that particular day. So is it really in our best interest to make such a big deal over a day that should only enhance the relationships that you have that you wouldn't trade for anything? I love each one of my friends in a special way, my family is the light of my life and I don't want to wait for ONE day out of the year to tell them make the most of the time you have with each of your loves everyday, because who knows what tomorrow may bring.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Crisis of Faith

I was baptized and raised Catholic until just about 2007 when I threw in the towel and realized that the feeling like my puzzle piece just did not fit was not all in my head.  I went to several different parishes throughout my life and attended CCD classes for most of my school years.  I hung on dearly to the teachings of my mom who taught me that I was a Christian first and Catholicism was the religion we practiced.  I defended my beliefs and got indignant when the Catholic religion was ridiculed, but then one day I just couldn't do it anymore.

To say that I am not horrified by the allegations of the parish priests and Msgr. Lynn would be lying....but I knew it was coming at least for Lynn.  I belonged to St. Joe's Parish from the time we moved to Downingtown in 1994.  I tried to attend church regularly, but it was difficult if a priest that I did not like was serving mass.  Then in 2004 or 05 Msgr. McFadden left to become a Bishop and the parish got Msgr Lynn who seemed like a quiet mannered man.  Now my memories of the years up until a few years ago are foggy due to life circumstances, but I distinctly recall Msgr. Lynn giving the parishioners a mea culpa when serving for a late mass on a Sunday.  That to me was it...I was done.  I never felt welcomed at St. Joe's...too many parishioners appeared to be too caught up in the cliques of the church.  Prep as it was now called was going to cost me an arm and a leg for my boys to get additional religious education,  they wanted me to tithe 33% of my earnings (they got $5 a week from me) and then I was to look the other way when someone I was to confess my sins to and to turn to when I needed spiritual guidance had proven himself to be a sinner of the worst kind and had apparently guaranteed himself a place in hell?  I couldn't do it.   So I went looking for my spiritual being because she no longer existed at that church.  It took awhile and a few false starts, but I found my way and a church where I feel comfortable and welcomed.

But now I read the stories and the Grand Jury testimony about the alleged abusers and Msgr Lynn's part in it and I feel shaken and a bit betrayed.  Even though I no longer call myself Catholic and I would not go back I have always tried to show others who are less tolerant of the religion that it is not all that bad.  Now what do I say to them?  Can I really defend Catholic priests and the vow of celibacy and any other sacrament when it has happened in our own backyard?  I have been on my knees lately figuratively and literally trying to reconcile what this all means to me and I have not found and answer...tears come when I read or hear the stories and a sinking feeling in my heart.  So I will for the time being accept that a crisis of faith in times like this is not exactly bad if it keeps you on your knees.