During the week of April 4-10, we join libraries in communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.
I am sure that many of us have seen the classic 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It was a movie about a naïve young man appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate. The lead character, Jefferson Smith is played by Jimmy Stewart and the movie was directed by Frank Capra. There is a climactic scene at the end of the movie where Mr. Smith conducts a filibuster on the floor of the Senate in support of a bill authorizing the government to buy some land in his state for a boy’s camp. But a corrupt political machine had already rigged the vote against the project because they wanted the land for their own purposes. I won’t spoil the movie, but this movie is a classic “feel good” movie.
My father introduced me to many old expressions from his days. One of them was an old Army expression from the Second World War. It was SNAFU; which was short for “situation normal, all fouled up”. That expression from a bygone era clearly describes how our federal government has fouled up everything related to this pandemic.
Last month we saw the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States and the changing of the nation’s head of state. This month we celebrate President’s Day. How many people realize that there are within an easy drive from Parma four presidential homes or museums that are open to the public?
It's the 21st year of the 21st century. Time to reconcile that there can be no social justice or human rights without animal rights. When we choose to treat other beings with less than the right to exist for their own sake, we forfeit our own rights. This is not merely a call to veganism, though that would constitute a demonstrably huge step in the right direction. It is an awakening. A consciousness that informs, that is the bedrock of, ALL social justice. Until we can look into the eyes of other beings, great and small, from elephants and whales to ants and spiders, and honestly, humbly see ourselves looking back at us, we cannot call ourselves religious, empathetic or godly. It is impossible to love God while cherry-picking for whom we have mercy. When we witness tax funded police absolved of murdering and terrorizing people of color and feel outrage, we should also feel pain and grief for all the imprisoned, shackled, lynched, slain, impaled, hunted, chased-down, commodified and profited-off-of other beings.
As I am writing this, the year 2020 is closing out with two weeks left until we put up the calendar for 2021. To say that this year has been one that few will long remember is an understatement. A year ago everyone knew that the election would be contentious and it sure was that. But no one could have predicted a year ago the kind of year that 2020 would become.
I was really rooting for Parma’s education bill to pass. The schools have desperately needed the funding ever since ex-Superintendent Jeffrey Graham bankrupted the district and fled to Lorain, who then had the audacity to turn around and sue our school system in 2019 for telling the truth: our school district’s money troubles were the direct result of his leadership. I mention this so you, dear fellow Parma resident, may consider this point in future school levies.
In the Broadway musical Les Miserables based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel of 19th century France; there is a poignant musical number in the second act called Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. The scene is where a group of women lament about the students and friends who gathered at the café were all killed when the French army stormed the barricades during a protest against conditions in Paris during unrest in 1830.
Most of my baby boom generation grew up in a double parent, single income family where the father went off to work and the mother stayed home to take care of the children. That was back in the 1950s and into the 1960s. It was a “Leave it to Beaver” type of family life as portrayed on numerous television shows of that era.
Small businesses have an uphill battle to flourish with the challenges in front of them. First, Covid and ongoing street projects. Pearl Road in Parma Heights is lined with shops that offer gifts you can't buy anywhere else. Explore storefront shops where merchants welcome you with “indie” finds and personalized service. An added benefit is not getting stampeded by a crowd of shoppers lunging for a $300 plasma TV.
Yesterday the President of the United States told his supporters to commit voter fraud. He did so on camera. It was not a joke. It was not ironic. The president called for his supporters to game the system:
The election this year is one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. Since our country’s founding 244 years ago, there have been divisions among Americans. In 1776, the divisions were between loyalists who wanted to remain subject to England and rebels who wanted independence. Even after the constitution was ratified, there were divisions about its interpretation and the power of the federal government.
As the summer winds down into autumn and the political season heats up toward the November election; this year has brought back an iconic American tradition, the road trip. Whether it is just a day trip locally, a weekend trip or a longer excursion to some place in another part of the country, the road trip is an American institution that has gained favor in this year of the COVID pandemic.
The hit movie Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks playing the central character gave the world a great expression; “Stupid is as stupid does”. That well known expression perfectly describes the condition of the United States in the summer of 2020. There has been a pandemic raging across the country and it has killed more Americans than all the wars since 1945 combined. Yet it seems that many people are behaving as if they are invincible or are just plain stupid.
In Ohio the Confederate flag is the flag of the enemy. It is the flag of the armies Ohio soldiers defeated. Waving or displaying the Confederate flag in Ohio is waving or displaying the flag of the enemy. If your father, grandfather or great grandfather fought in the Second World War against fascism, I am sure you would be offended by someone flying the flag of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.
On the evening of Thursday May 21, I was jolted out of my sofa by a police siren followed by the loud horn of a fire engine. Something was going on, so I went outside to look. What I saw was amazing. The police car and fire engine were followed by a long parade of cars decorated up with the Valley Forge High School graduating class of 2020. Unlike previous graduating classes, the class of 2020 could not have their traditional graduation ceremony or a senior prom.
June’s Asset Category: BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS
May’s Asset Category: COMMITMENT TO LEARNING Commitment to learning doesn’t happen naturally in all young people. Instilling this important trait involves a combination of values and skills that include the desire to succeed in school, a sense of the lasting importance of learning, and a belief in one’s own ability. This commitment is strongly influenced by the school environment and relationships with family and peers. The more committed a child is to learning, the more likely it is that she or he will grow up healthy.
I’ve always thought of Parma as a big city (7th largest in Ohio) with a small town feel. Our neighborhoods have a sense of community. When bad things happen, neighbors step up to help. Covid-19 has confirmed my belief that Parma is a good place to raise a family. On several Facebook pages I’ve noticed so many different individuals doing lots of good deeds. Like donating food, or cheering on those working so hard in the medical community. Many are just small gestures that mean so much to the recipient. Some are large donations of supplies to those that need them. I’ve heard of neighbors donating their stimulus money to food banks too, to help those that need it more now. All in all it warms my heart to see our community come together to help one another.
In the past five weeks nearly one million Ohioans have applied for unemployment as the state has grappled with life under quarantine. According to some estimates, Ohio’s jobless rate is 17% and, if that is true, that is higher than Ohio experienced at the depths of the Great Recession when Ohio’s unemployment rate peaked at 11.1% in January 2010. According to Ohio Jobs and Family Services, it has been receiving approximately 500,000 calls per day to address the unprecedented demand which has still not been sufficient to address the various delays and issues with obtaining unemployment funds.
While being confined to home the past several weeks except for an almost daily walk in the park and some visits to the grocery store, keeping proper social distancing, I have had plenty of time to read many columns and articles from different sources. One item that has become very clear during this coronavirus pandemic is that fact based, decisive and coordinated leadership from our government, especially our elected officials, is essential. This is not the time for boasting, campaigning or blaming others.
Since the start of the Coronavirus crisis here in the United States, Ohio’s state legislators have been hard at work crafting solutions to problems created by the public health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. As the number of infected patients have grown, members of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, including Parma’s Rep. Jeff Crossman, have been proposing legislation to help every day Ohioans through this crisis. Legislators plan on taking up this legislation when the Ohio General Assembly returns to Columbus.
I was a 21 year old student majoring in biology at Kent State University in the fall of 1969 when one of my professors mentioned a new event the following spring. He was talking about the first Earth Day scheduled nationwide on April 22 1970 that was to focus attention to the degradation of our planet’s environment. The Apollo moon landings focused attention to our own planet and what mankind was doing to it.
SHOW KIDS YOU CARE: HELP THEM LEARN SOMETHING NEW. APRIL’s Asset Category: EMPOWERMENT.
Every year Parma actively supports Shop Small. Shop Small Saturday this year is November 28th. The City of Parma does this because they know how important these small businesses are to our community. One study found that for every $100 spent at a local small business, $68 of it stayed in the local economy. Whereas that same $100 spent at a large business, only $43 stayed local.
Rep. Crossman Introduces Bill To Give Local Citizens Voice In Location Of Residential Treatment Facilities
Bill strengthens home rule in Ohio communities. For most people, their house is their single largest investment. Beyond that, your house is a home where you go to find respite at the end of each day. You want your family to feel safe and secure in their home each day. As a City Councilman, Rep. Crossman heard from residents that had their daily lives disrupted when treatment centers opened in their residential neighborhood without any local input. Rep. Crossman aims to change that with House Bill 505 filed on February 12th.
The Democratic party is great at shooting themselves in the foot. This year they are on verge of blowing an election that was theirs to win. President Donald Trump has never polled above 50% approval since he took office and many voters are fed up with his antics. Yet the Democratic party is blowing a great opportunity by rushing to nominate Bernie Sanders as their presidential candidate.
SHOW KIDS YOU CARE: VISIT THEIR SCHOOLS. March’s Asset Category: Social Competencies
A few weeks ago a woman knocked on my door for the "Karpus for Congress" campaign, it was freezing, so she stepped inside. Standing in my foyer she began telling me about Ronald Karpus III a congressional candidate. She told me he was born and raised in Parma, a graduate of Parma Senior High School, and that he was a husband and they had 6 kids. My mouth about hit the floor as I repeated "did you say 6 kids?" the woman laughed and nodded. She further explained he was a member of the Democratic party and a blue collar worker.
Welcome to 2020-- a new decade begins and, with that, the U.S. Constitution requires the government conduct another count of all of its citizens. The efforts to complete this extremely important count are now underway and each time the Census occurs there are always questions. We answer the most common questions related to the count below and we strongly encourage everyone to support the Census this year so we can maximize the investment we receive in our community!
February’s Asset Category: Positive Values. You are what you believe. Values shape young people’s relationships, behaviors, choices, and sense of who they are. Although positive values help young people avoid risky behavior, they also help guide their day-to-day actions and interactions. Thus, values inspire, not just prohibit. Young people who have positive values are more likely to listen to their conscience, help others, be independent, tell right from wrong, and feel happy. Ultimately, positive values help young people make their own decisions rather than imitate friends or follow trends.Search Institutehas identified these six assets in the Positive Value category that are crucial for helping young people:
Last month I wrote a column with a trip back to a pivotal year in history, exactly 100 years ago. After a break, let’s go to Sherman and Peabody’s “way back” machine again to 1920. I believe that I was mentioning the world of sports in 1920 when we left. Here we go.
SHOW KIDS YOU CARE: RESPECT THEM. Help young people bring out their best
The way people feel about themselves can fluctuate with circumstances. Depending on what’s happening, you may feel confident or unsure, optimistic or pessimistic, in control or not in control. What’s important is what a person’s identity is like most of the time. People who have a strong, positive sense of self maintain these qualities even when difficulties arise. They continue to be hopeful and optimistic, and believe they can make a difference.
As the world flips the calendar over to a new year, we are also entering a new decade as well. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to go back and review another year in history. Like the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show with Sherman and his genius dog Peabody, let’s enter their “way back” machine and take a trip way back to another year in our history. Let’s go back 100 years ago to the year 1920.
When I first moved to Parma, one of the first things I did was plant three trees in my front yard. This choice wasn't environmentally motivated. I'd simply grown up around trees and missed the greenery. Eight years later my Red Maple has doubled in size and offers enough shade to picnic with my kids on the lawn. The two cherry blossoms on the treelawn flower each year with beautiful white and pink petals, before quietly shedding their spring coat and switching to photosynthesis full-time. To me this is relief. My road, Maplecrest, is curiously short of maples. It's short of trees, period.
December’s Asset Category: CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME. All work and no play can be boring and stressful. The pace of everyday life varies depending on the activities young people participate in. These fluctuations are normal, even healthy. As long as young people don’t consistently have too much to do or not enough to do, they’re right on track. Problems arise when the balance begins to tip too far to one side or the other. Too much involvement can lead to stress or anxiety. Too little involvement can be a sign of depression or isolation. Ensure that young people constructively use their time for both fun and learning.
Much has been said in the media over the past decades about the “culture wars” in the United States. I believe that this is a bogus issue. The United States is a nation composed of many different cultures from all over the world. It was recently reported that there are more than 300 different languages spoken in the United States. Many are obscure native American languages only spoken by a few tribes, but practically every language in the world may be spoken in the United States.
October’s Asset Category: Empowerment. Young people are empowered when they feel valued, valuable and safe. They need to believe that adults like and respect them. Finally, they need plenty of opportunities to contribute to their communities through volunteering, working in paid jobs and sharing their ideas, knowledge and creativity. One of these days, the young people in your home, school, neighborhood and workplace will be in charge – in charge of their own lives and in charge of the world. You can help young people get ready for their future role by empowering them now. This month’s column will focus on Asset #10 – Safety: Combating fear, and growing up safe in an unsafe world
One of the points in the Boy Scout law is that a scout is loyal. Loyalty is a key virtue and essential for the success of any business and the nation. However blind loyalty can be a danger as well as false loyalty. It is expected that employees of a company or elected official will be loyal and support the organization. However, it is important to realize that loyalty is also a two way street. If an employee or partner is loyal to one person; the other person should be loyal in return. That means that an employee should be free to disagree with their supervisor or manager in a civil manner without fear of retaliation. At the same time, it should be expected that a loyal employee should also report wrongdoing or any violation of ethics without retaliation as well. This keeps a company and government running in an honest and efficient manner.
Perhaps you are a Parma homeowner looking to add a large, unique tree specimen not only for your own sake, but for your neighbors and future generations alike. The Dawn Redwood, with the scientific name Metasequioa glyptostroboides, could fill that void along with including a unique historical perspective. I have not noticed any in Parma but have seen some in the Brecksville Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.