Thumbs Up: Frank conversations
If nothing else comes from these allegations that coaches, at times, endanger the young athletes they’re charged with training, the community should take to heart Susan Burkinshaw’s words. Burkinshaw is the co-chair of the health and safety committee for the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, and she was quoted in The Gazette’s “Keeping our student-athletes safe”series.
Burkinshaw said: “As we saw in the Penn State scandal, if the community culture tolerates a negative behavior — and not confront it can be a sign of acceptance it can spiral out of control for years. It takes a village to keep our community safe, and it starts with not being afraid to have courageous conversations about difficult subjects.”
If Montgomery County talks about these issues, gives them a proper airing, exposes the weaknesses and reveals the strengths in our institutions, the county can have greater assurances that student-athletes are safe. Hiding from the controversies delays resolution and means shirking from responsibilities to protect our children.
What happened at Penn State can happen close to home. USA Swimming takes up the case against Rick Curl next week. Curl, a founder of the Curl-Burke Swim Club, has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old in the 1980s. The victim is now 43.
The more we talk about these matters, the sooner we ease the pain.
Thumbs down: Pepco’s boosterism
Pepco released sent a letter to its ratepayers that it was the first utility to restore power after the June 29 storm. Gazette reporting found that Dominion Power in Virginia and Potomac Edison in Maryland both reached 100 percent restoration ahead of Pepco. More and more it seems Pepco has an alternative view of the progress it is making in shoring up its electric system and restoring consumer confidence.
Thumbs up: USG expands
The Universities at Shady Grove has added a master’s program in health systems management, a sign that the Rockville campus has shown it can respond nimbly with the area’s needs.
It’s occasionally said that the management at Maryland’s public universities bear greater similarities to the Soviets than to the entrepreneurs who are the heroes of the new economy. This is a sign that for at least one small part of higher education, the Kremlin is crumbling.
Thumbs up: Expanded library hours
Anyone who has read a newspaper the last few years knows the difficulties cities and counties have had in providing services. Companies have cut wages, which means government coffers receive less revenue from income taxes. Smaller paychecks mean people spend less, which means sales tax revenue falls as well. The housing market has tanked, which affects property tax collections.
Bad news all around, especially for a county that prides itself on the level of services it provides its taxpayers.
The Gazette published a story about a small victory against the tide of government red ink last week: hours at county libraries would be increasing starting Sunday. Wonderful news that a vital government service can find the means to expand in a wobbly economy.
Thumbs down: ICC contractor fined
Intercounty Constructors General Partnership was fined $12,000 for killing fish in an unnamed tributary of Little Paint Branch. True, the fine was for a handful of fish. But the community was promised the ICC would be a different kind of road, with added millions spent on environmental mitigation. ICC critics, who haven’t really disappeared with the completion of the highway, would be right to be skeptical how well mitigated the roadways other environmental dangers have been mitigated.
Thumbs up: A nonprofit rolls on
Along Mayor Lane in Silver Spring, a few blocks from the glitz of the AFI Silver Theatre or the bustle of music fans heading to the Fillmore, a nondescript garage is filled floor to ceiling with wheelchairs and walkers, canes and spare parts. The garage houses the Washington Area Wheelchair Society, and from its meager setting, the organization repairs medical equipment and then gives it away. As executive director Paul Holland said, no other shop does quite what he does.
“When we finish fixing that wheelchair and put it in somebody’s hand to use, that’s pretty immediate,” Holland said. “You know that tonight you have made a difference to somebody.”
By hook or by crook, the Washington Area Wheelchair Society has remained in business for nearly 30 years, but recently the donations for rent and utilities haven’t been coming. The Gazette called Holland last week, and he says his organization has received nearly $3,600, which covers their current expenses. Here’s hoping the society lasts much longer.