There has been a lot of discussion throughout the country over the past few decades regarding “The War on Drugs.”
Some argue that it is a useless endeavor that has resulted only in massive spending and overcrowded prisons, while drugs continue to plague our communities and bring violence with them. Others hear that and opine, “What are we supposed to do? Just roll over and do nothing?”
It’s a tricky conundrum, and one that doesn’t offer an easy solution. Do we crack down harder and prosecute drug offenders harsher and harsher? Or, do we switch the focus to rehabilitation and education?
Regardless of what side you fall on in this debate, we feel that most of us do share one common belief regarding our criminal justice system — if you cause harm to someone through your actions, or if your actions cause great danger to others, you should be held accountable. And, if that person affected by your actions happens to be someone who is incapable of protecting his or her self, that punishment should be amplified.
Usually, it is. But other times we are left scratching our heads.
We learned recently that a Selbyville woman reached a plea deal last week concerning her actions last October, when her 4-year-old daughter unknowingly brought heroin to her daycare in a backpack and began passing the bags out to her classmates, believing they were candy.
Thankfully, the staff at Hickory Tree Child Care Center quickly saw what was happening, alerted the proper authorities and police ended up confiscating 249 bags of heroin.
That’s 249 bags. Of heroin. At a daycare center.
According to terms of the woman’s deal, she was sentenced to one year of probation and substance abuse evaluation, and possible treatment. She also maintains custody of her three children, as part of the arrangement.
We know people make mistakes, and we are huge proponents of people making changes in their lives and moving upwards after making said mistakes. But we also believe that it’s hard to trust a criminal justice system that refuses to adequately punish someone who could have accidentally caused the worst tragedy this area has ever seen. Had it not been for a stellar response from the people at the daycare, lives could have been lost.
Young, innocent lives.
Obviously, we weren’t behind the scenes as this played out, and there could be good and justifiable reasons for the deal that we just don’t know. But it’s not a good look from the outside looking in, and that we do know.
According to scientific research (Editor’s Note: There is absolutely no “scientific” or “research” to what I’m about to say), those two words are used more frequently in the month of March than any other time during the year.
Yes, it’s that part of the calendar again, when millions of Americans sharpen their pencils and do their best to guess how the NCAA basketball tournaments are going to go. (Editor’s Note: These are mostly done online now, but I can’t reasonably say, “sharpen their mouses,” can I? Or, is it “mice?” “Meese?” “Mouscatillionaires?”)
It is an annual rite of passage across these fruited plains. Americans, diehard sports fans or not, all believe they can break down what’s about to transpire during “March Madness” by studying matchups, analyzing strengths of schedule or picking the team with the cutest mascot. And, you know what, they’re all right.
There is no rhyme or reason as to what happens during this crazy tournament every year. You like going with the favorites? Good luck with that. Flipping the script and just picking the underdog for every game? Yeah, well, that will make you feel really smart when the upset happens, but what about the other 80 percent of games in the first few rounds?
Really, this is mostly about having fun with co-workers, friends and family, right? It’s about putting in whatever amount of money, if any, is determined beforehand, and feeling like you’re part of something that’s both exciting and potentially lucrative. And, if you catch lightning in a bottle and get off to a really great start to the tournament, it’s also about watching how highly you rank on whichever website is hosting your brackets.
But mostly it’s about fun. It’s about that opportunity to talk trash to your opponents if your picks go right, and looking for an exit strategy to avoid some people at all costs if things go poorly. Personally, I’m looking to move to Istanbul for a few weeks until all this March Madness goes away.
Let’s just say I’ve taken a little ribbing for my selections up to this point of the tournament. My predicted champion? Virginia. I could have picked Indian River to win this thing, and they would have the exact same chance of cutting down the nets going into this weekend, as Virginia went home faster than our own Tom Maglio when he feels like it’s naptime.
I also had Maryland taking part in this weekend’s festivities, for the record, and they are now sitting on their couches and cursing over how bad their brackets look right now. My alma mater, Temple, was one I had my eye on, but they didn’t even make “The Dance” this year, so at least I didn’t bet away my dignity by selecting them.
So, what makes this tournament so baffling to those attempting to predict its outcomes? Well, I’d start with the human factor.
Men and women who participate in sports do not care if they are predicted to lose a game to a bigger school in the tournament. This is their time to shine, and they have won a lot of games with their coaches and teammates, so many of them play like they have something to prove to the world.
On the other side, those athletes who suit up for the “powerhouse” schools often have an unbelievable amount of pressure attached to their tournament rides. If that underdog team is still hanging around in a close game late, well, nerves can get a little on edge.
I also have a personal opinion that so many of the star players from the big schools leave early to go to the NBA, so those small school teams that have been playing together for years have an advantage in chemistry and trust. They know where player X will be. They know player Y can make that shot on the perimeter. They know where to go when they need to go there.
Plus, I think there’s a conspiracy in play by some of my friends to make me look like a fool every March — like my shenanigans on St. Patrick’s Day don’t do that enough. Regardless, I catch myself cursing at my brackets every year at this time. Then I catch myself filling out another the next.
Letters to the Editor
Hattier responds to previous letter
Last week you had a writer commenting on the educational status and preparedness of students graduating the Indian River School District and entering colleges and universities. He was of the opinion that our students would not be adequately prepared for the high educational standards that many colleges require.
While almost any school district can do better, the Indian River School District graduates and sends to colleges with more than adequate preparedness compared to most Delaware schools. We are and continue to be a leader in education in the state of Delaware.
This is continuously evidenced by the state coming to IRSD to see what we are doing right and then trying to emulate those procedures. Many times we as a district do this in spite of and not because of the leadership coming from Dover and the federal government.
This leads to the next item. We as a district and all rural districts are struggling to cope with the serious influx of unprepared students from other countries. Many, if not all, of these children have no comparable educational background to what our students have had from kindergarten onwards, and we as districts are asked to bring them up to grade level within a one- to two-year period.
And then we as districts are held accountable if we can’t. If it was possible to take an average 14-year-old who speaks the main language here up to a high school level in two years, why would we even bother with K-8 and just save the money? It can’t be done.
Add to that a strong different language and cultural overtone, and the issue gets nothing but worse. Our schools are and ought to be taught in the main language of our nation: English. Look to Europe to see what happens when multiple languages are required. It only leads to a division of the people and does nothing to promote the melting pot and unity that the United States was built on. “E Pluribus Unum.”
This is not demeaning the children who come in. It is a simple statement of the financial and educational load. We as a district want all children to succeed. We need as a society for all of them to succeed. It does reduce crime, welfare dependency, etc., if a child is properly educated.
I praise the IRSD for educating and working overtime to make these kids succeed. It isn’t the children’s fault that they arrived here unannounced and unprepared. But it would have been proper and nice had we been asked in advance if this was a challenge we wanted to accept.
As it is, we had over 70 children thrust on us in January through March of 2014 that came with no resources, no proper paperwork, etc. Try registering a regular American citizen in school without any paperwork. These kids are all given a special pass. That has created a two-tier system, which isn’t fair to those that play by the rules. Doesn’t the writer care about the citizens who are already here?
It is obvious that the writer has no clue how the state and federal government allocate resources. This large group entailed moving funding around in mid-year, with no extra money coming to the district. This is true of all districts in our situation. And, no, we don’t get all the money we want. The times now dictate much tighter funding in general than 10 to 15 years ago.
This problem lies with the federal government for not adequately guarding our borders. It is not an issue of advocating for students. We already do that once they are here. That record is abundantly clear for anyone looking at what the district does.
It is a question of fairness to those of us playing by the rules and trying to live within the framework established by laws. Those that come in unannounced and illegally have made, and will continue to make, a mockery of those laws.
The folks in our district have my strongest admiration for the work they do and the time they took to establish programs to try and meet the needs of those that were “forced” on us. To have a writer demean that, I don’t understand. He owes the district as whole an apology.
Donald Hattier, Board Member
Indian River School District
Democrat official talks values, committee
President Obama recently began his State of the Union address to Congress with positive comments on the state of the economy. He noted that our economy is growing, the deficit is down, industry is doing well, and energy production is up. Unemployment is down, along with the price of gasoline, and consumer confidence is improving. This is a coming together of many positive factors that will provide us a chance to make some decisions about our future for the short and long range.
One of the more important decisions before us is to decide whether we will become comfortable with a society where only a few do spectacularly well. Or, will we commit and invest in an economy that provides for rising income and opportunities for all who make an effort?
The present and the future are about us and our values, our Democratic values.
As our economy has regained its balance and moved out of a deep recession it has been with determined effort our fellow citizens and the committed leadership of our president. This rebound is based on our Democratic commitment to care about our fellow Americans, to increase the minimum wage and provide affordable health care for all.
I don’t mean to suggest that there are no problems or that we may be on the doorstep of a perfect world. But, to paraphrase the president’s address, will we allow ourselves to be divided into factions turned against each other or will we join together in a sense of common purpose that has made us able to accomplish great things?
We have this time to consider why we are Democrats and what we want to become as we look ahead to 2016. We can take this time to determine how we will achieve our ideals. This reminds me of quote from Bobby Kennedy, “Let our expectations always slightly exceed our grasp.” I urge you to join your fellow Democrats to stand together in unity and determination. This means we will also have differences and sometimes challenge each other.
I remember my dad helping me understand our party a little bit better with a quote from Will Rogers. When asked what was his party affiliation Mr. Rogers replied, “I don’t belong to any organized party, I’m a Democrat.”
Join with the 38th Electoral District Democratic Committee the first Wednesday of the month at the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach on Kent Avenue at 7 p.m., or contact me at (302) 537-2968.
Eric E. West, Chairman
38th District Democratic Committee