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The Brunswick beacon. (Shallotte, N.C.) 19??-current, June 17, 1993, Page PAGE 4-A, Image 4

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Opinion Page THE BRUNSWICK#6EAC0N Edward M. Sweatt and Carolyn H. Sweatt Publishers Edward M. Sweatt EldUor Lynn S. Carlson Managing Edflor Susan Usher News Eklttor Doug Rutter Sports Editor Eric Carlson Staff Writer Peggy Earwood Office Manager Carolyn H. Sweatt Advertising Director Ttmberley Adams. CecelJa Gore and Linda Cheers Advertising Representatives Dorothy Brennan and Brenda Clemmons Moore..Graphic Artists WUllam Manning Pressman Lonnle Sprinkle Assistant Pressman Tammie Henderson Fhoto Technician Phoebe Clemmons and Frances Sweatt Circulation PAGE 4-A. THURSDAY, JUNE 17. 1993 It's Better To Know Either Way If Canals Are Polluted Other Brunswick County beach communities might do well to join Sunset Beach lead and have their finger canals tested for evidence of pollution. This would not be a repeat of past ground water studies which used test wells, but a simple check of canal water to look for evidence of unacceptable levels of pollution from malfunctioning septic tanks and stormwater runoff. The Sunset Beach testing project was conceived when a citi zen attending a public hearing expressed concern about reports of high fecal coliform levels around the island, and asked what type of warnings will be issued if any canals are determined to be un safe for swimming. Good question. If Sunset Beach finds reason enough to warn its visitors, there's a good chance that a similar situation exists in other areas where finger canals are lined with rental cottages which rely on individual septic tanks for wastewater disposal. Getting that in formation through testing now, depressing as it would be, is preferable to finding out via an eventual public health crisis. Conversely, if there is no problem found, visitors and people whose businesses rely on them deserve to know those fears were unfounded and that it's safe to swim, fish and crab to their hearts' delight in finger canals as hundreds of thousands of vacationers have done in years past. Any long-term, regional solution to the problem of local wa ter pollution will be a long time coming. But it doesn't take much looking around to see a growing anxiety about this issue right now, not just on the part of fishermen who rely on the waters for their living, but by vacationers, retirees, school children and pub lic office-holders. Together, they need and deserve accurate information to make sound decisions for the region's residents and visitors, now and later. Let Marketplace Deal With Smoking In Private Sector It's annoying when governments move too slowly. It's scary when they move too quickly. All around the state, municipal and county governments are hastily drafting laws to restrict smoking. All this to get in under the wire?to be "grandfathered" out of a legislative proposal which would prohibit towns and counties from adopting anti smoking rules more stringent than the state's. When towns and counties limit these regulations to publicly owned buildings, that's appropriate?even laudable. Some pro pose to go farther, even though they appear to lack the resources to enforce smoking restrictions in privately owned establish ments. When they try, there'll be every reason to anticipate en forcement to be selective. In addition, stay tuned to hear a chorus of city and county governments this time next year asking more money to apply these new rules. Smoking in restaurants and other private sector establish ments is an issue the marketplace can resolve of it own device. It's been happening for years now without the costly aid of a government nudge, at least in this state. No-smoking sections in North Carolina's eateries were virtually unheard of, and would have been politically blasphemous, not too many years ago. They exist now, not because government said do it, but because consumers did. That's the right way for it to happen. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Columnist Didn't Deserve Chastising To the editor States that have tried it have found I waded through James Payne's that the expected funding for verbose letter chastising reporter schools, etc., never materialized. It Eric Carlson, and I came to the con- turned out to be fools' gold. elusion that Mr. Payne better not The lottery, if passed, would put give up his day job. On the other the state of North Carolina in the hand, if he does, he could try out as gambling businesses?a sorry exam a television evangelist pie for our children and grandchil Mr. Payne evidently doesn't know dren. The people of North Carolina that the job of a columnist or editori- would be the ultimate losers, and alist is to express his or her opinion our state would never again be the on subjects about which he feels wholesome state that it is today, strongly. Mr. Carlson's column did The lottery can be compared to a just that: reflected his opinion, red apple that looks good on the out Unlike Mr. Payne, he did not insult side but inside is filled with worms, the intelligence of his readers with The lottery bill has passed in the his manner of writing. He merely Senate. 1 hope the House will let it provided food for thought die in committee for the good of our Despite his long-winded, ego-trip people. letter, Mr. Payne failed to prove his Berry Williams allegations regarding Mr. Carlson's Wilmington "lack of objectivity and danger of "*^Tb paraphrase his "old lactic": Write Us When you have nothing important to Xhc Beacon wc|comes ,eUers say, use as many words as possible to ^ A11 must ^ to say it. signed and include the writer's Pegge Jaynes address and telephone number. SuPP'y We reserve the right 10 edit 'Coofc' Gold'9 libelous comments. Address letters to The Brunswick Beacon, To the editor P> G. Box 2558, Shalloue, N. C. A lottery in North Carolina would 28459 be a bad bet any way you cut it. Graduating With An Exercise In Rights Watching the mini-drama that swirled around South Brunswick High School's graduation ceremony last week, it was hard not to feci ad miration for the clean-cut young man at the center of all the contro versy. As he and his fellow senior; pre pared to close an important chapter of their lives, Jason Lanier thought it would be appropriate to say a prayer during the ceremony. A majority of his classmates agreed. But the school administration said no. Because the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that public schools could not sanction a formal prayer. Be cause doing so would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state?the idea that our govern ment should not be allowed to favor one religion over another. You might think this law stinks. Because, like most Americans, you probably believe in some form of Judeo-Christian religion. As do most, if not all, of your friends. So you would probably assume that any prayer read at a public school would coincide with your beliefs. But what if you went to a high school graduation and they began the ceremony with a Buddhist sutra or a reading from the Koran or by chanting the words "Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna. Hare Hare"? You might be a little upset to find your tax money funding a school system that promotes a religion you don't believe in. Which is probably the same way a Buddhist American or an Islamic American or a Hindu American or a Native American ^r,c Carlson t might feel when a Christian prayer is read at their graduation. That's why the Supreme Court and local school systems tried to avoid such conflicts by not allowing religious observances of any land. Because the first amendment says our government (of which our school system is part) "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." Trouble is, the second part of that sentence says, "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In seeking to pray at his high school graduation, Jason Lanier wasn't trying to deprive anyone of their Constitutional rights by estab lishing a religion. He was merely standing up for his Constitutional right to freely exercise his own reli gion. Which put the school in dilemma. If it allowed Jason to lead a prayer, it would establish a preference for his religion over others. But if it re fused to allow the prayer, it would prohibiting the free expression of a majority of students. Luckily (for the school), the Supreme Court ruled last week that prayers could be a',lowed at gradua lion as long as they are initialed by a majority of the student body and led by a student and not an invited reli gious leader. It was a pretty good compromise. Although adherents to other reli gions might still have felt left out of such an observance, they could at least take some comfort in knowing that it wasn't being done by the gov ernment. While I applaud the decision, I was a bit disappointed at the timing. Because I hadn't seen a spark of stu dent political activism like that in many years (and several gradua tions). I was looking forward to see ing how it all played out. You see, on the day I graduated, my high school was in a shambles. One month earlier, students (just like us) who were protesting the Vietnam War had been gunned down by national guardsmen at Kent State and Jackson State universities. My high school was one of the first in the country to join the na tionwide student strike that followed the shootings. For three days, no one attended classes. Instead, we gath ered on the school lawn for work shops, lectures and debates about the war and about President Nixon's de cision to expand the conflict by in vading Cambodia. Things never quite got back to normal after that. The senior prom was cancelled. A noticeable percent age of students boycotted graduation ceremonies, while many others ad orned their mortarboards with peace symbols. Needless to say, the valedictory spcech was not upbeat. For it was not a hopeful time. Our class had be gun its freshman year after the long hot summer of 1967, when urban ri ots set our inner citics aflame. Each school year was punctuated by reports of former graduates who went to Vietnam and came home in body bags. We saw the early opti mism about the war fade during the Tet Offensive and disappear after the My Lai massacre. With childhood memories of one assassination still fresh, we witness ed the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Our faith in the political system was shattered in a blur of nightsticks as we saw ri oting policc bmtally club unarmed protesters outside the Democratic Party convention in Chicago. So there wasn't any talk at my graduation about "bold new begin nings" or the "great adventure" awaiting us. After what we had seen in the previous four years, no one would have been surprised to hear a prediction that things would only get worse: That the Pentagon Papers would prove our government had been ly ing to us about Vietnam. That the Nixon administration would get caught red-handed in a bungled bur glary, a campaign of political espi onage and an illegal cover-up. Or that the president (and vice-presi dent) would resign in disgrace to avoid impeachment while several of their key advisers went to prison. I can't remember if we had a for mal prayer that graduation day. But I'm pretty sure we all said one to ourselves. Things h cv^nfife ? qone coci< lV& been fco dozens c? \f\texv\&s&i (Xcc) Viaveo ?? ha<)aifl offev yet I "*S S8$fjE^^ So 1^4 J ^2 u^Ve-been la?? c^T Aoodto^ht, ,/ffshl >5 ^ave tak.r^pyth.^ | j^? x ^ | J There's Pie I emerge from the dream with a lunatic's grin. In it I am standing on the State House lawn, pad in hand and camera around neck, as the members of my sleepy-time legislature gather for the session's most important public rela tions function. They are dressed in the Sunday finery of toddlers? bright white training shoes, little navy shorts with suspenders, crisp cotton shirts and red bow ties. When the big guy in the bunny suit gives the cue, they all scatter and begin poking under trees and behind shrubs, shrieking with glee as they discover the multi-colored plastic eggs that hold the hidden money... Meanwhile, back in the real world, a coalition of local govern ment leaders, worried about water quality degradation and public health, asks for half a million dollars in state funds to study the possibility of a regional sewer and stormwater project. "Good idea, but we'll have to see if we can find the money," is one of the answers they get A well-meaning citizens' group, working against the clock to save one of the last undeveloped barrier islands, seeks financial help from the state to buy the property. "Good idea, but we'll have to see if we can find the money," is one of the an swers they get. This is not to knock the people who ask; in fact, I hope the state can "find the money" for both causes. I only mean to raise one curious liule question: In any given year, who finds how much money and where? In this community alone, groups present dozens if not hundreds of find-thc-moncy requests, many of nty Of Money Under The Cushions them most worthy, to the legislative delegation. If there are 100 counties, with 100 good find-the-money caus es in each, at an average $100,000 per cause, how much money can be found to go how far and where? In your own life, what's the most money you ever found?in the pockets of your dirty laundry, under your sofa cushions, through a mis take in balancing your checkbook? Enough to use for anything more extravagant than than a tankful of gasoline? Not likely. And if you began casually stick ing significant sums of money in odd places and having to go find it whenever you need to have a tooth crowned or your car lubed, wouldn't someone in your family start think ing about taking control of your fi nances until you regained your sens es? The state, and most notably the feds, get away with doing this kind of thing because of a phenomenon called OPM. That's what Danny Devito called it in a movie by the same name?it's Other People's Money. I'm not being self-righteous. I've only been back in the private sector for a year alter having made my liv ing off a combination of federal and foundation money, all OPM. In fact. it was my full-time job to convince people to give our organization OPM to do our work. And very good work we did, taking care of needy and sick people. But looking back, I can't deny that we could have done as much with a little less OPM. Many years ago \ worked in a community college under a federal grant program which was suddenly dissolved. My boss told the secre tary and me?the three of us were the whole department?that we had six weeks to hang around until the money ran out, then he'd see that we got jobs in other departments. What were we to do for six weeks, I asked? Show up and sit at your desk, and you'll continue to be paid until we place you in another job. In my experience, this type of thing does not happen in private business where there's no OPM. See, when you're getting OPM, you tend to rationalize. It gets worse the longer you do it, and there are OPM professionals who have been around for many years?your hard core bureaucrats who've never worked on a Saturday or faced a problem that couldn't be taxed out of existence. You forget that ordinary workers in the private sector often make less money than you do, have less com fortable working conditions, get fewer holidays and vacations, never get to go to conferences in fun cities, and in most cases have to get more done in a day's time than you you do in a week or month. And, most importantly, that they're paying you to be there. In the OPM game, you learn early on to ask for twice as much as you need. That way, if the budget gets cut, you'll still have enough to oper ate. If it doesn't, you'll have a little cushion. It's behind those little cushions that state and federal governments "find the money." When they need discretionary funds, they can just put a liny budgetary squeeze, 5 percent here, and 3 percent there, on a few departments. Sure, they'll holler, but that's part of the game, too. You better believe they've got it to spare, stashed in a padded travel budget or somewhere like that. It may not be fair, but it's the only game in town. Worth Repeating... \The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asun der. ?Virginia Woolf lA physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. ?Frank Lloyd Wright

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