Saturday, February 11, 2012
Editorial: Short takes
Quick views on some of the week's news.
From the RoundTable blog
Read the latest entries
A little competition is good for the mayor's soul
And here we were, barely a week ago, worried that Roanoke Mayor David Bowers would be denied the excitement of competition as he seeks another four-year term. Bowers so enjoys electioneering, the hand-shaking, microphone-grabbing, schmoozing, promising and posturing that comes with wanting to hang onto the job.
To run unopposed would have denied him the spotlight, and would have denied Roanokers a choice.
On Thursday, 47-year-old businessman Mark Lucas said he will likely seek the Republican nomination during the party's mass meeting on Feb.23, and the city party's chairman, Chris Walters, said he'd be "thrilled with Mark as a candidate."
So are we.
Thrilled that at least one other person intends to challenge the mayor, and that at least one other council candidate, Brandon Bushnell, is emerging to keep the incumbents from coasting through election season.
We don't know yet how thrilled we will be by either's qualifications, platform and vision for Roanoke until we get to know them and their ideas better during the campaign. But we are heartened that the governance of a city of 97,000people will not be decided by just the 1,390 Democrats who turned out last Saturday for the party's primary. Competition is good for the whole.
Shackled by meanness
A House of Delegates subcommittee on Thursday said it's OK to shackle a pregnant woman as she gives birth to her baby because she made a choice — to commit a crime. Even if the crime is nonviolent and she poses no flight risk, she deserves to have her arms, legs and midsection tethered to a bed. Her child deserves to enter the cruel world of Virginia this way.
The bill would have prohibited such barbarism of pregnant inmates, leaving exceptions for women who might pose a flight or safety risk. It was supported by a wide array of groups, including the Family Foundation and the ACLU of Virginia, that usually fight each other over legislation. They pleaded for human decency. To no avail.
Consider this exchange of the subcommittee meeting as reported by The Washington Post:
"Heather Rice of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture relayed the story of a Fluvanna Correctional Center inmate who gave birth while shackled at the legs, was discharged from the hospital an hour later and returned to prison, where she hemorrhaged and expelled the placenta a couple of weeks later. She called that woman's treatment 'barbaric and appalling' and suggested the baby, as well as the mother, deserves better.
"'The child of an incarcerated mother has no less worth than any other child,' she said.
"Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge and chairman of the subcommittee, replied: 'Does it show concern for the child for the mother to engage in criminal activity when she knows she's pregnant? Do you agree choices have consequences?'"
So much for the reverence for life.
Adding a tool to the school nurse's medicine chest
Peanut butter, once a staple in elementary school lunch pails, can be deadly if a child allergic to peanuts takes a bite of her friend's PB&J. Unless that child already has an epinephrine pen at school to treat severe allergic reactions, her school nurse lacks the best and quickest response at hand.
A bill moving through the House of Delegates, H.B. 1107, would permit school boards to write policies in order to stock pens that could be administered by a school nurse or other employees trained in its use.
Highly allergic children with a prescription for an EpiPen can already keep one at school. But not all do, and not all children know yet whether they'll develop a serious reaction to something like a bee sting.
Schools can keep Tylenol and Tums on hand to dispense with parental permission to take care of the minor ailments that turn up in school nurses' offices every day. It makes sense then to stock the nurse's office with EpiPens, too, so that if need arises, a quick shot can prevent a tragedy.