Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food Network owes Paula Deen an apology

English: The logo of Food Network.
English: The logo of Food Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a Food Network viewer for almost as many years as it has been on the air, I am appalled that it would fire Paula Deen over her so-called racist remarks. This is not the same Food Network that taught me how to slice onions and dice tomatoes with my butcher knife or demonstrate the ease of preparing fresh, whole food. I'm grateful to the early days of the Food Network that introduced me to cooks like Sara Moulton, Emeril Lagassee, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, and of course Paula Deen.

I was moved by Deen's story. She is beyond a doubt, a likable character who has always had an infectious charm about her. But beyond that, she epitomized the strong, successful women whose first priority was to raise her children and to make a living. Paula Deen had to have a little luck on her side too along with a savvy business sense, because she not only achieved her goals, but turned her ideas into a virtual empire. Now, it is coming crashing down for no good reason.                                                                                                       The Paula Deen story, that has unfolded on the pages of network news, in social media, and across the tabloids is not about the woman I have watched for years on television. The woman I've come to know is not at all hateful, yet she is accused of being a racist. The motive behind such an accusation would require hatred. Paula Deen just doesn't seem to fit the bill.
Now, I will admit; I don't personally know the woman. I simply know her image. I know the personality she projects. She could be one way on camera and another way in real life. But, I don't think that is the case. 

This isn't even a credible news story

What I have heard and read about this case which has focused on Paula Deen, is not a complete story and should have never gone beyond tabloid status. While on that subject, something should be done to regulate tabloids that print whatever they feel like, whether it is credible or not. It does a terrible disservice to the subjects of its rants and to the gullible reading public. What was even far worst was how mainstream media grabbed onto this story to further sensationalize a non-story story much the way it grabs all things these days. Mainstream media isn't much better than the tabloids. Sadly, our society is paying the price. 

As a reader, I'd like to know more about Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff in this case. What is her motive? Is it just money? Was she really wronged? I read some of her deposition. She might have a case, but I doubt it. This reads more like a story of two kids getting into some battle on the playground; one goes to tattle to the teacher; the other enlists mommy for help. There are real problems that must be solved in the courts. This kind of foolishness isn't one of them. It wastes time and tax dollars and is frivolous at best.

It appears to me that Jackson has little legal leg to stand on. And, she has hired a bully of a lawyer. Paula Deen Enterprises is a lucrative business and has plenty of money. The thing is, Paula Deen isn't even the principle in the complaint. This is about her brother, for whom she is very loyal. He owns a restaurant  which she financed. He owes her thousands of dollars. Lisa Jackson worked for him. 

If I had to categorize this case, I would say that Deen's brother drinks a little too much; when he does he has a big mouth. I don't believe him to be a criminal. If he has a problem, perhaps a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings would be in order. Or, perhaps seeing how much this has harmed his big sister may be enough to shake him into sobriety.

Is racism defined by name-calling now?

Deen may be living the life of a sophisticate, but I doubt that is who she really is. She was likely intimidated by the legal process for which she found herself entangled. Knowing she must tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that is probably why she admitted freely that she had used the term 'nigger' in the past. She is right in asking, who hasn't? Since when did speaking a mere word signify a criminal behavior? 

That is one more thing that this case should highlight. Using the word 'nigger' isn't nice. But in itself, it is not a crime. IT IS A WORD! That is all it is. What is most important in determining whether or not a crime was committed is the motive behind it. If it is used in a hate crime, that has a very different connotation. That is probably why RAP artists are not arrested every time they use the word 'nigger' in a song. 

Perhaps we can all take a lesson here. Name-calling is not high on the priority list of things wrong with the world. If you know who you are, why do you care what others think of you? Why worry about what someone calls you? Chances are they are the one with the problem; not you. In my day, we called that developing a thick skin. If you just worry about yourself; don't let yourself be affected by someone that wants to demean or discredit you. You must know better. Be confident in who you are. Chances are if someone wants to call you names, they are just trying to bring you down to their level. Just don't let them get away with it. Be better than that. We need to solve our petty problems among ourselves. Things like this do not belong in the courts.

Food Network, you have done yourself a disservice. At the very least, you owe Paula Deen an apology.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jesse and Sandi Jackson blew it

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson
Jesse and Sandi Jackson in happier times. The two now await sentencing when they pleaded guilty for misusing campaign funds. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Finally, it appears as though Jesse Jackson, Jr. will be headed to prison. Such a shame! This kid had it all; everything was in his favor. He was smart, capable, had a familial lineage to fall back on. He could really have done some good as a U.S. Congressman. But instead of working for his constituents, he used the office to feather his own nest. Like so many, he just got too big for his britches. It is that simple. He got lazy and started believing all the hype. He thought he was a celebrity. It all went to his head.

Amazingly, even though he is now a convicted felon, he is still trying to call the shots. First he wanted to keep his records sealed. The man suffers from the delusion that he is still a congressman, where anything goes and the public is merely in the way of doing business. A judge ruled against him.

Then he decided he wanted to serve his sentence before that of his wife Sandi, who was also convicted of improper campaign cash spending. Doesn't Jesse get it? He is a convicted felon. He doesn't get to call the shots. This is jail; not the country club, even though in his case, his incarceration will more closely resemble a country club than solitary confinement.

The thing that bothers me about this and all other cases like it, ahem, ex-Illinois Gov. George Ryan. The conviction is a mere sampling of the wrongdoing that has actually taken place. It never includes all the dastardly deeds committed. If it did, the investigation would take much longer, but the perpetrators would likely be locked up for good. Instead, we have finite sentences, probably resulting in early release for good behavior, yada, yada, yada.

In Jesse's case, his self-over-all-others lifestyle harmed people along the way, deprived them of their livelihoods, and in some cases, destroyed lives. Why is he not paying for that? Why is a little $750,000 in campaign cash more important than that?

Perhaps we should be grateful that he is no longer in congress; no longer making decisions to benefit himself; making decisions for which we all must pay. My only hope is that he spends lots of time thinking about what good he could have done. Perhaps a different man will emerge on the other side. At least that is my hope.
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Friday, June 7, 2013

Letter to the editor and response--Peotone Airport legislation

Letter to the Editor: by Herbert Brooks, Jr. Will County Board Speaker

Herbert Brooks, Jr., Will County
June 7, 2013

To the Editor:

At the end of the legislative session, Springfield lawmakers quickly and quietly passed Senate Bill 20, giving governance to the South Suburban Airport to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

This legislation runs contrary to the established positions of the Will County Board. Furthermore, the legislation was moved forward without the opportunity for a comprehensive review and discussion of its merits.

Nevertheless, I believe it is vitally important for Will County to remain fully engaged in the development process to ensure that it is transparent, responsible, and respectful of our county’s residents. If managed effectively, the airport can be an economic engine for Will County and the whole state of Illinois. However, if the process is mismanaged, those of us that call this county home will suffer the most. Therefore, the Board is moving forward with a full and thorough analysis of the bill and will schedule public meetings to reveal our findings and make recommendations. We are hopeful the Governor, IDOT, and our elected officials will listen and strongly consider our concerns.


Herbert Brooks, Jr.
Speaker of the Will County Board


I appreciate Herbert Brooks, Jr. taking the time to comment on SB20 with regard to the Peotone Airport.
I have never agreed with the Will County Board's position on the proposed Peotone Airport. Will County officials have, since the inception of the project in 1985, to play both sides against the middle, seeking whatever potential economic impact possible at the expense of so many voices of opposition. It isn't just the people of eastern Will County that oppose the airport. Surveys have indicated that a majority of residents of Will County oppose it. The airline industry opposes it. Only those that stand to benefit monetarily by it favor its development.
That said, I agree with the speaker's desire to ensure transparency, responsibility, and respect for the residents of Will County. However, I must caution him that such behavior has never been associated with this project. 
I applaud his call for a full analysis of the bill as well as public hearings, which voting members of the State of Illinois have foregone. I too hope state officials will listen to what Will County has to say.
It must be made clear that Brooks, Jr. has been a member of the county board only since 2008, so my comments are not directed at him. But prior to his time on the board, the Will County Board has done none of those things he suggested. In fact, the Will County Board has done just the opposite, with just a few board member exceptions. 
After devoting so many years to my own study of the proposed Peotone Airport, I wish the speaker good luck in trying to do the right thing. However, I urge caution, since IDOT has a very long history of not listening to anyone that disagrees with its views.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Illinois government rejoices over its 'duh' moment

News reports now indicate that a major hurdle has been cleared to make way for the Peotone Airport. The House and Senate have approved legislation, as part of a whole package of pork, to pave the way for a public/private partnership to build the once-named third airport at Peotone. IDOT (Illinois Dept. of Transportation) will be the governing body. IDOT will hire a developer to build the new airport some 40 miles south of Chicago. All that is needed is the signature from Gov. Pat Quinn. That is pretty much a given since he seems positively elated about it all. This is so much for fun for Quinn than paying the state's bills and honoring promises made to state workers. 

This is just another chess move by the state that can't even capture the queen, let alone checkmate the king. It really isn't much of a revelation. In fact it is little more than a "duh" moment. IDOT has been pushing, sometimes all by itself, the Peotone Airport idea since the latest round of talks first began, twenty-eight years ago. The notion of a third Chicago-area airport has been on the table far longer, since the late 1960's. IDOT has tried to get the airport to become a reality through every means possible, but always to no avail. The thing is, it is not a very smart idea, and does not have widespread support. Even the airlines are against it. 

So now, we are to believe giving IDOT control is clearing a major hurdle? 

No Airport at Peotone
Farmland speaks to the sentiment of eastern Will County
residents who for years have said NO AIRPORT!
While it is true, this is the first time legislation has actually been approved to build the project, it hasn't even been cleared for takeoff by the FAA, (Federal Aviation Administration). That approval is up to two years away, if it comes at all. 

IDOT has used all of its dirty tricks, including taking private property through eminent domain. A Will County Court claims there is nothing wrong with taking some of the best farmland in the state, decimating a once thriving farming community, and making big plans for an airport that has never been deemed doable or desirable. It would have been interesting to see an unbiased verdict in a courtroom not in Will County where deals have been made for years on behalf of this project and the political figures involved. 

This new round of legislation awaiting Quinn's ready hand, is making the taking even more of a nightmare for property and farm advocates. The legislation authorizes quick take--the state's buy now, pay later plan. 

There is no revelation here. Giving IDOT authority over airport governance is akin to hitting someone in the head with a two-by-four. They can only fight for so long. Do it long enough and they will eventually crumple into a pile of dead flesh and simply taken away. 

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