Letters To The Editor 12/14/2018

December 14, 2018

Promote inclusion

Editor: Kudos to The Sunday Times for the Dec. 9 editorial regarding the lack of diversity in school boards and faculty.

It rightly noted that minority students and parents should see people like themselves leading in classrooms. This goal includes people with disabilities. State and federal regulations have required school districts to increase architectural accessibility accommodations. Representation by qualified candidates with disabilities is the logical next step toward attaining true inclusion.

Some districts have posed challenges for students with disabilities in the past, forcing students to navigate bureaucracy to access necessary supports. Some parents have been excluded from attending school board meetings, for example, because they were held in inaccessible locations.

People with disabilities should hold leadership roles in education. They can provide valuable role models for promoting awareness and change by applying their own life experiences to ensure that future generations will not face the same obstacles.

It is imperative that school districts reflect the communities they serve. Steps should be taken to invite qualified applicants with disabilities to serve as policy makers and teachers.






Parade takes leave

Editor: Blame it on the president of France.

If French President Emmanuel Macron had not invited our president to Bastille Day ceremonies in 2017, there might never have arisen the idea of a great potential military spectacle wending its way around our capital in Washington, D.C.

All sort of reasons and excuses have been proffered for the cancellation of the proposed jingoistic treat, such as damage to the streets from heavy military vehicles. The excuses were as lame as a Supreme Court of eight people.

No, since the real reason for the spectacle’s demise seems to be because it suddenly dawned on its progenitor, or more likely it was remarked to him, that he would have to be there for the entire procession. Noting that he displays the concentration span of a gnat, it becomes glaringly and patently obvious that there was no possible way the parade could come to fruition.

Who wants to watch soldiers marching about on a cold day when Mar-a-Lago calls from Florida?

So, it wasn’t the French after all, nor the gnats nor the potential wear and tear on the streets from heavy tanks and such. It was the thought of not being able for hours to twiddle his thumbs that was the cause of the parade cancelation.




Racism thriving

Editor: Recently, a picture surfaced of white Wisconsin high school students making the Nazi salute.

These are high school students from 2018, not the 1950s. Parents took pictures of this. A student in the front row, whose hand was down, was giving the white power sign. There was one young man in the photo who chose not to participate in this vile conduct.

These students were not born with hate in their hearts. They learned it somewhere in their formative years. People, who would not have done so years ago, seem to feel free now to openly display overt racism. This apparently became OK after the election of President Barack Obama, and has been perpetuated by President Donald Trump, some conservative politicians and conservative media.

We may not end racism, but the climate in this country has to change back to when people felt embarrassed to make such a display. This climate change is as important, if not more important, than environmental climate change.

Are we a racist country or not? Our response to these overt displays and our response to hate crimes against minorities will determine where we stand.




Trouble brewing

Editor: Even though her name has faded into obscurity, Stella Liebeck was once the center of media attention.

In 1992, 79-year-old Stella, while a passenger in the front seat of a parked car, spilled a cup of hot McDonald’s coffee on her lap in Albuquerque. It only took seconds for the liquid to melt her pants to her leg. She suffered third-degree burns on 6 percent of her body. After a painful, eight-day hospital stay that included skin grafts, she wrote to McDonald’s to warn of the coffee temperature and asked for $20,000 for her medical bills and expenses.

McDonald’s offered her $800. Liebeck hired a lawyer, asked for more and McDonald’s refused to pay. Her case went to trial. McDonald’s defended its 180-degree coffee temperature, citing maximum customer satisfaction. The fact that the fast food giant had 700 complains of hot coffee temperatures the previous year was deemed statistically insignificant considering the millions of cups of coffee the company serves daily.

The jury sided with Liebeck, giving her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000. After Liebeck paid her legal and medical bills, she had just enough left to hire a live-in nurse who she employed until her death at 91.

Some positive outcomes resulted from the case.

By 1993 all American vehicles came equipped with built-in drink holders. Hot coffee was poured into sturdier cups with a “hot” warning on many of them.

Some stores insisted that all hot drinks be purchased inside instead of at a drive-through. Servings of two or more hot beverages now often come in a cardboard carrier.

There’s no real happy ending here, just a cautionary tale about a woman who had a run-in with a hot cup of coffee and paid for it, physically and mentally.



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