Saturday, October 27, 2012

Morning notes — desegregation, Planned Parenthood, Game and Fish

Posted By on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 at 5:36 AM

At last. Fall. Fine for football. Some odds and ends:

NO DEMAGOGUE: Pulaski Superintendent Jerry Guess.
  • NO DEMAGOGUE: Pulaski Superintendent Jerry Guess.
* GIVE JERRY GUESS A MEDAL: Jerry Guess left a successful school district to take a tough assignment, leading the financially troubled Pulaski County School District after the state took it over. The district has regained financial footing, but Guess has remained an object of scorn from employee unions for joining with the state in not recognizing contracts entered by the now-defunct district. The unions might have a legal point. Courts will decide. Meanwhile, Guess seems to have avoided the swordsmanship that sometimes has come with local school district controversies. A good example this morning was the Democrat-Gazette story about more than $800,000 in legal fees for John Walker and other attorneys for 20 years of work representing the interests of black students in the ongoing Pulaski County desegregation case. Breathes there a public official who knows you can NEVER harm yourself politically by demagoguing John Walker and attorney fees? Give Guess a medal. He negotiated the fee (down from $3 million) and says, reasonably, that Walker and colleagues have done a great deal of work looking after the interests of their clients without claiming payment. Now they seek the equivalent of about $40,000 a year for money and effort they fronted. Dustin McDaniel, meet Jerry Guess and a better way of doing business in the deseg casde.

pparenthood.jpg
* PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS A BLESSING: Continuing news coverage of Texas' intent to stop paying money to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings and other health services for women (no matter how many women suffer), reminds me again of the blindness that accompanies anti-abortion absolutism in politics. In Texas, the state is essentially saying you may not see a doctor who might otherwise (in a practice unsupported by the state) provide abortion. This is a slippery, unconstitutional slope. But it is no less an outcome than anti-choice Republicans favor. They not only want to impose their religion as law, they want, to the extent possible, to additionally punish those who disagree with them philosophically. They really DON'T respect the views of others. What's next? No government contracts for health care providers that dispense birth control pills?

The Susan Komen Race for the Cure embarrassment was an illustration of how far the anti-choice crowd wants to go. They thought the time had come to cut off money for Planned Parenthood cancer screening. They miscalculated. Most women understand the value of Planned Parenthood and aren't ready to sacrifice access to birth control pills, cancer screenings and other important services to the anti-choice cause.

But the apocalypse is coming. To Arkansas Republicans, Planned Parenthood is an epithet. Its utterance, with a sneer, tells you all you need to know about a person's politics. It's as sure a tell as the box of Chick-fil-A the same people now deem obligatory political gear at tailgate parties. They hate abortion and gay people and they'll punish those who think otherwise.

All this is on my mind because I had the good fortune some years ago to meet a pillar of Planned Parenthood in Maryland, Dr. Frances Trimble, a gynecologist who died last week at 94. I doubt it would change the minds of any zealots, but I'd encourage those with open minds to read the Baltimore Sun obituary about her decades (unpaid) as medical director of Planned Parenthood in Maryland and her fight to get family planning services (not abortion) and basic health care to women who needed them. Breast cancer and infertility treatment, birth control. She fought for these things under the Planned Parenthood banner. Sneeringly invoke the words "Planned Parenthood" if you will. But her life reminds us how far America has come in a short time and how quickly it could regress if the religious extremists restrict access not just to abortion, but also to birth control, as so many of them intend to do. This restriction will, inevitably, lead to more abortions. From a 1972 interview:

"I can remember just five years ago, only two hospitals in Maryland had birth-control services. Before Planned Parenthood, women who couldn't afford birth control from private gynecologists were just having babies," she said.

"The biggest breakthrough came when public health came into the field. That was in 1962. Before that, a woman could call the State Department of Health and ask for birth-control information and they wouldn't even tell her where she could get it.

"Until 10 years ago, we couldn't publicize clinics or activities. People just couldn't get information as to where to get these services," said Dr. Trimble.

The Just Say No gang wants to bring back 1972. Think about it Nov. 6.

MIKE KNOEDL: Once sued agency he now leads.
  • MIKE KNOEDL: Once sued agency he now leads.
* GAME AND FISH BOSS'S LEGAL HISTORY: Somebody asked. Here's a link to the lawsuit filed several years ago by new Game and Fish Commission Director Mike Knoedl, along with other wildlife officers, over what they contended were illegal pay disparities that put pay for similar officers hired after they were hired at higher levels. The suit was dismissed before it went to trial. At this moment, I don't have information on how, or if, it was settled. The Commission's original answer contended that, as a constitutionally independent agency, it wasn't bound to the state pay classification plan. Also: Though Knoedl has vowed to address employee pay and morale issues that have received recent attention, it's clear from my mail that his appointment has only furthered unhappiness in some quarters and not only because the Commission waived a college degree requirement so as to hire a career wildlife officer to head the 600-employee agency. His advocates urge going easy on his lack of credentials. Judge him by his work, they say. Is there any choice now at the Rich White Boys Hunting Club, aka G&FC?

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