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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Paterno’

No. 1: Joe Paterno

Why didn’t he quit, or why wasn’t he shown the door, several years ago? As it is, he remained the face of Penn State during the worst big-time-college-football, sex-abuse scandal in history, as far as I can tell.

If he had quit several years ago, the backlash from the scandal (including his failure to alert authorities to an assistant coach sexually assaulting a young boy in the showers) would not have caught him full blast. He might well have slipped to second-rung culprit and undoubtedly would have been remembered in more glowing terms by the general public.

So, why did he stay on? You know why — EGO! Now he’s dead and gone and not many people outside of State College, PA, care.

No. 2: Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte.

In his 2012-2013 budget proposal last week, Schulte recommended reducing the Fire Department by 105 positions. The justification? Fire calls have dropped dramatically in the past decade. How would the estimated $7.6 million in savings be used? To give other city employees raises.

Only Schulte, who doesn’t have to stand for election, would dare propose something that dramatic. And, trust me, even he doesn’t believe it will happen. He might be hoping that the council — most of whose members won with backing from the fire fighters’ union — will approve a cut of somewhere between 10 and 20 firefighters. That’s about the best he can hope for, at least until there’s a real budget crisis, which probably is coming within five years. At that point, we’ll probably see a “hatchet council,” which will have no choice but to fire a lot of employees or see the city go broke.

No. 3: David Brooks

One of my favorite op-ed columnists veered off track last week, when he wrote about Mitt Romney having made a fortune because he was “a worker and a grinder.” Brooks proceeded to trace the family background of Romney, a Mormon.

A central figure in the family history is Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Romney. Brooks recounts the journeys and travails of Miles Romney and “his three wives and their many children” like he’s talking about an everyday, conventional, American family. Mitt might come be a hard worker who comes from sturdy stock, but when someone starts talking casually about a candidate’s great-grandfather’s “three wives and many children,” my attention naturally shifts from the up-from-the-bootstraps story to, “Did you say three wives?”

No. 4: Newt Gingrich

It’s unnerving that a fat guy with a phony, adultery-abetting wife can catapult to victory in a state — even a mostly irrelevant, backasswards state like South Carolina — by attacking the “elite news media”; the “elites in New York and Washington”; and “the most effective food-stamp president in history.”

It’s promoting class warfare, with the goal of rallying hourly wage-earners and unemployed people to take up arms against the so-called “elites?” But who would really benefit under Newt’s scenario? The true “elites,” the one percenters.

No. 5: Thomas L. Friedman

I want to end on a hopeful note…

Perhaps the most incisive op-ed person in the opinion business, wrote in Sunday’s New York Times about what kind of candidate he would like to vote for.

It would be a candidate who:

“…advocates an immediate investment in infrastructure that will create jobs and upgrade American for the 21st century…and combines that with a long-term plan to fix our fiscal imbalances at the real scale of the problem, a plan that could be phased in as the economy recovers.”

A candidate who…

“…is committed to reforming taxes, and cutting spending, in a fair way. The rich must pay more, but everyone has to pay something. We are all in this together.”

A candidate who…

“…has an inspirational vision, not just a plan to balance the budget.”

And, finally, a candidate who…

“…supports a minimum floor of public financing of presidential, Senate and House campaigns. Money is politics is out of control today. Our Congress has become a forum for legalized bribery.”

Friedman concluded: “I hope it is Obama, because I agree with him on so many other issues. But if it’s Romney, he’d deserve to win. And, if by some miracle, both run that campaign, and the 2012 contest is about two such competing visions, then put every dollar you own in the U.S. stock market. It will go up a gazillion points.”

Happy days could be here again, if only Abe Lincoln was reincarnated.

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Lots of news today. Let’s get right to it…

:: The New York Times reports that “Grandpa Joe” Paterno “transferred full ownership of his house to his wife, Sue, for $1 in July, less than four months before a sexual abuse scandal engulfed his Penn State football program and the university.”

Hmmm. Now, why would Pa-Pa want to put into his wife’s name the house that they had jointly owned since 1969?

The Times quoted Wick Sollers, a lawyer for Pa-Pa, as saying that the Paternos had been engaged in a “multi-year estate planning program” and that the transfer was “simply one element of that plan.”

The Times also interviewed Lawrence A. Frolik, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in elder law.

“I can’t see any tax advantages,” The Times quoted Frolik as saying. “…It sounds like an attempt to avoid personal liability in having assets in his wife’s name.”

Looks like Grandpa Joe did what any guy would do if he’s expecting a run on his bank account — disperse the assets.

:: Closer to home, The Star reports that Bishop Robert Finn slipped the criminal noose in Clay County and has agreed to enter into a diversion program with the Clay County prosecutor for covering up the Shawn Ratigan child-porn case for at least five months.

The agreement calls for Finn “to meet face to face” with Clay County Prosecutor Daniel L. White or his successor every month for the next five years “to discuss any allegations of child sex abuse levied against clergy or diocesan staff within the diocese’s Clay county facilities.”

That would include churches, schools, gyms, among other buildings.

Don’t you just love it that the mighty bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph is going to have to report to the prosecutor like a wayward kid would report to the principal? The bishop, who has dozens of many minions at his disposal at diocesan headquarters, 20 W. Ninth St., trucking up to Liberty once a month, with his big hat in his hand? SWEEEET!

I fully expect Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to follow suit and put Finn in a separate diversion program. That means he’d have to grab his mitre and staff and head to the Jackson County Courthouse once a month, too.

Finn couldn’t have screwed things up any more than he did with the Ratigan case, but I bet he’s going to be a model enforcer from now on…Of course, he’s still a disgrace and would leave office if he really cared about the institution and people he’s supposed to be serving.

:: The Star also reports that Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters lost its battle to get full, retroactive, city pension benefits for about 300 ambulance workers who formerly worked for MAST. (MAST received city funds but was not directly under its jurisdiction.)

An arbitrator ruled that the city would not have to provide pensions that had been estimated to cost $30 million over 10 years. In June, the City Council voted to give the employees supplemental pensions estimated to cost $6 million to $10 million over 20 years. So, if the ruling holds, taxpayers should be off the hook for at least $20 million.

Wright

It’s not often that Local 42 and its president, Louie Wright, don’t get what they want. But just about any time they don’t, it means Kansas Citians should celebrate because tax money is being saved.

For his part, Louie told The Star’s Lynn Horsley that he was “extremely disappointed.” Naturally, a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court is a possibility.

With Louie and Local 42, it’s never over until all remedies have been exhausted.

:: Now here’s something unusual. Louisville football Coach Charlie Strong said that the Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh last Saturday because the players were “more focused on a video game than they were on Pittsburgh.”

A new video game — “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” — was released recently, and Strong said the players got preoccupied with the game, instead of the game.

The things coaches have to deal with these days….

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At least one person in the state of Pennsylvania was not intimidated by Joe Paterno and the high-on-a-pedastal Penn State football program.

The residents of Pennsylvania can thank Republican governor and former state attorney general Tom Corbett for the firing of Paterno and university president Graham B. Spanier.

I don’t know about you, but I was surprised and impressed with the quick and decisive action by the school’s board of trustees.

The story about former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky and two senior university officials being charged in connection with a long-running child-abuse scandal broke last weekend. Almost immediately, Paterno’s failure to do anything more than report a 2002 sex-abuse incident to former athletic director Tim Curley was called into question.

On Wednesday morning, Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of the season. That probably would have satisfied a lot of people, especially the student body, most of which rallied behind Paterno.

But it wasn’t nearly enough — thank God — for Governor Corbett, who this week fiercely lobbied the board of trustees to oust Paterno and Spanier immediately.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett

Now, let’s take a step back. Here’s how Corbett’s involvement in the case unfolded, according to a great, front-page story yesterday in The New York Times.

In 2009, officials at a Pennsylvania high school reported that Sandusky had molested a boy at the school. However, the county prosecutor cited a conflict of interest and referred it to the attorney general’s office.

“Here, he (Corbett) had a wildly popular football coach and a program which in Pennsylvania was revered, and this case lands in his office and without flinching he went down that path,” Times’ reporter Jo Becker quoted a Republican lobbyist as saying.

Corbett convened a grand jury and prosecutors took testimony. As the case proceeded, more victims turned up, and Corbett and his investigators became appalled at the university’s lack of action.

“We talked about how this would be a real shock to people, and how shocking it was to us,” Becker quoted a former assistant attorney general as saying.

Corbett went on the win the governor’s race. After he left the attorney general’s office he had to adhere to grand-jury secrecy rules that prohibited him from talking about the case, other than with a few people he had brought with him from that office.

One person who stayed close to the case was Frank Noonan, whom Corbett had appointed state police commissioner. Before that, Noonan had been chief of investigations in the attorney general’s office.

Periodically, The Times’ story said, Corbett would ask Noonan how the sex-abuse investigation was going, and Noonan would tell him it was going well, although he couldn’t share details.

Finally, after the story broke last week, Corbett, who is a member of the Penn State board of trustees, was free to roll into action.

“Privately,” The Times’ story said, “he worked to move the board in what he believed was the right direction. He called multiple members, including Vice Chairman John P. Surma, the chief executive of U.S. Steel, and told them that the country was watching, that a change at the top was needed, and that the issue was about more than a football program.”

Paterno

The board called an emergency meeting on Wednesday night, just hours after Paterno had announced his retirement plans.

The board exhibited no forbearance and summarily removed Spanier and Paterno.

“Afterward,” The Times’ story said, “the trustees said they had acted independently. But they conceded, without being specific, that the board had received some unsolicited encouragement about what action to take.”

Bravo, Governor Corbett!

Here’s my final thought on this: If Gov. Corbett announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president, he would immediately jump to the top of the list.

He won’t do that, of course, but I hope we hear more from him on the national scene in the future; the country needs more politicians who move decisively instead of wetting a finger and holding it up in the breeze.

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