Radiogurl a la Carte

Tuesday, Jun. 01, 2004

Ah, it's an ungodly hour in the middle of the week and I should be asleep. Must be time to post in my diary!

I'm sort of surfing along this week, and thinking of taking a vacation day later in the week. I'd take it tomorrow but I've got to finish up some stuff on the server and hope it resolves the ongoing problems.

The thing has got to be possessed It's the only thing extreme enough to explain how it's managed to go through one rebuild after another and STILL have an attitude. Boss said today that between my time and the various parts and crap we were told to get, we've spent more than enough to pay for the $30,000 system he was too cheap to buy in the first place. (His words, not mine.) I remember swearing at this system from the word go, and I haven't become any more enamored of it as time goes by.

But at least with the holiday there were none of my regular wall-to-wall demands of a typical Monday.

I still worked until about 8:30 tonight on the server and will be splitting my time tomorrow between the server and the conclusion of a high-profile local trial - a man who police say molested kids on a school bus a couple of years ago. He was the bus driver's boyfriend and my kids grew up with the man's kid sister.

If vigilante justice still occurred, this man would probably have been tarred, feathered, and then hung. Or worse. A lot of people want to see him put away forever. From the police reports I read, I think that it's a good possibility it will happen that way, too. He apparently had a habit of bullying very young children, hitting them, holding them down - all with full approval from the bus driver, according to reports.

So far, the bus driver hasn't been charged. But the County attorney made it clear that doesn't mean the driver is free and clear. And in a shadow of the OJ Simpson case, there's also a civil suit pending, against the man up for spending the next fifty years in prison (he's 28 years old), the bus driver, the school district, and the district's former bus subcontractor.

The school district is already teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, so I'm not sure what will happen if the civil suit prevails. And the worst part is, I can't help hoping that it does. My oldest daughter, 00, told me that the school buses there were a nightmare when she went to school there a few years back. It was bad enough that when her dad found out what was happening he wouldn't ever let the kids ride again.

It's bad enough when you have older kids who bully and harass, but when it's an adult - and no small man, either - who's throwing his weight around with a 9-year-old boy... And other children so terrified of him that they burst into tears just from the mention of his name (this verbatim from the detective investigating the case)...

Yet we wonder why tragedies like Columbine happen? Our children are being educated on the way to succeed - just beat up those smaller than you. Kind of like Wal Mart and mom-and-pop businesses.

Right now this community is in a knock-down-drag-out fight over school issues. Our high school building was erected in 1912, yet school officials are required to meet the rules for 2004 ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. They are trying to get the means to build a new school, but acknowledge it's still a ways off. Meanwhile in an affluent area, they just passed a multimillion dollar bond issue to build new schools to replace edifices raised fewer than ten years ago.

Teachers here are accused of abusing children - kids wreak havoc and sometimes injury on teachers - it's a vicious circle.

There have always been sick people who prey on the innocent, but it seems like it's on the rise lately. And living in a small town isn't a reprieve, either. For anyone who's raising a family, this is a chilling fact. Investigators in this case told me that children are statistically much more at risk in a small town than a large one, simply by virtue of the mistaken assumption of safety. Everyone knows everyone and trusts everyone, never realizing that their affable neighbor is into kids. Really into kids.

Sad to say, for all of our lip service about children being our future, we're raising a future of hell for ourselves. In this state, about one in four children lives in poverty. That figure rises exponentially in rural areas.

Our county is prevented by statute from forming a community college, and is assessed a million dollars annually to send kids to colleges in other counties - on top of the state taxes we pay to support community colleges. The reason we're denied? We don't meet thresholds of population or assessed valuation because literally 97% of the county is so-called 'Public lands'. As in, USFS - national forests. As in, the land our taxes support so that we can be told to stay out. And while some is legitimately forested - with ponderosa Pines - a significant portion is desert scrub and cactus.

Another fact? Our neighboring county has an even lower population and and lower tax base than we do, but they have a fully-accredited community college, subsidized by the state to the tune of several million dollars per year. And our three state representatives - yes, the same three - voted in a bill to make sure it stayed that way, after telling our local politicians that we had to cut a deal with that school or we were SOL.

Never mind that our county's attorneys said the other school was pulling illegal stunts right and left and that officials could be held liable if they continued to hire the other district to provide schooling - while, of course, we still paid out-of-county tuition for the privilege.

It's a convoluted mess, and I've documented more double-talk than the Abbott and Costello version of Who's on First. Only sad to say, this isn't funny. It's tragic. In a county where unemployment is over 50% in some areas - where fully 65% of the population is minorities - where the economy is in the sub-basement - we're denied the opportunity to try and better ourselves as a community.

And God save us from the people who have decreed the inequity. They've helped to create future gang wars and further the cause of drug addiction. They've insured that the minority population is exploited for yet another generation. They've shown their level of concern for local kids, making their indifference clear to people like those whose children were already victimized by a monster.

There are a lot of predators out there who victimize our children. Perhaps the most heinous ones are the creeps who molest kids on school buses. Or maybe they're the ones who polish their thin veneer of respectability while they get off on their power trips. There's a difference, though. The man who allegedly assaulted the kids on the bus is facing a lengthy prison term. The legislature is facing re-election.

Great system, if you're in the right racket.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )