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March 30, 2005

March Madness Here At Home

Derek Shackelford

It is said that all politics is local and from that standpoint, the political landscape around our region proves the point. The city, county, and federal backdrop could all benefit from a dose of common sense, however. But, of course, sense has never been common, which leaves, for the most part, a consistency of irrational behavior.

The City of Frederick is haggling over the issue of residency for a candidate's pursuit of the office of mayor. The Board of Aldermen voted that the residency reduction from three years to one year, but the current mayor, Jennifer Dougherty, vetoed the measure.

There were residents who spoke on both sides of the issue. The irrational behavior part is the claim that it takes at least three years for a resident to become familiar with the political structure of the city. This is not necessarily true.

One could live in the city their entire life and still not be knowledgeable of city politics. The common sense theory would conclude that if one can pay taxes and vote in city elections, why would they not be qualified to run for office? Why should one be precluded from voting for themselves and knowing how to spend their money?

Also, just because one decides to run for office does not make them the mayor. After all, I thought that is why elections were held.

The county scene has dominated the local news recently. Most people are familiar with the incident between Commissioner Mike Cady and Department of Parks and Recreation employee Westley Etters. Talk about your 15 minutes of fame!

Apparently Mr. Etters was not familiar with the protocol for removing his hat during the Pledge of Allegiance. Was this a sign of blatant disrespect? A sign of defiance? I don't know. Mr. Etters will have to answer that question.

Apparently some commissioners took exception to this and attempted to fire the employee on the spot. After this was rejected, it was decided to remove $35,000 from the parks and recreation budget. One question that comes to mind about the hiring of this employee: Did he remove his hat during the interview process? Apparently those in the parks and recreation department thought his qualifications were sufficient.

I grew up in a military family and removing one's hat was an unspoken rule that was followed. In terms of this situation, Commissioner Cady exercised good judgment in apologizing for his overreaction.

A common sense approach would also require that just because a hat is removed does not mean that one may respect the Board of County Commissioners. It may be the fact that respect goes both ways.

Just because one holds the position does not make one worthy of respect. In other words, in order to get respect one must be able to give it. I know that is chronologically upside down where people think positions make them respectable. Just because one has on a shirt and tie does not make them properly dressed if there are no crease in their slacks.

Last week Congress held hearings on the subject of steroid use in major league baseball. This was an attempt to make baseball clean up its act and institute harsh penalties for those guilty of future infractions.

The story of steroids in baseball has taken on a life of its own in recent months. Jose Canseco published a book detailing the use of this drug and its effect on performance. Also, we have the BALCO case and Barry Bonds' pursuit of the career home run record.

Congress has decided to intervene and correct the problem. Congress has stated that major league baseball should be ashamed of itself for not policing its sport and instituting policies that would clean up America's pastime.

Current and former players were called to testify at congressional hearings. Also, the commissioner of baseball and the players' union representative were called as well. This is not to minimize the effects of steroids and the stain it has placed on baseball.

Part of the reason for the hearings was to educate and inform young athletes on the dangers of steroid use and to state that anyone who uses this drug should be penalized severely.

The hypocrisy of Congress to take a strong stance on drugs, but yet ignore the fact that alcohol advertisements are pervasive in all major league stadiums is an outrage. If Congress was truly trying to clean up America's pastime and educate young athletes, it would address the effects of alcohol, which damages more young people than steroids.

All of this on the political scene reminds us that the madness that happens in March does not only happen in the NCAA basketball tournament.

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