Saturday, January 23, 2010

Note to Project 21 Fans: Glenn Beck Rebroadcast of Most Recent Show Featuring Project 21 Members

GlennBeckLogoThe Fox News Channel is rebroadcasting, right this minute, the second of two Beck shows featuring a discussion with black conservatives (including Project 21 members).

If you can't catch it on the Fox News Channel for whatever reason, Booker Rising (a website I often visit, but don't mention as much as I should) has made available the video of the entire show, which is entitled "A Time To Be Heard."

We also posted on this blog the segments of the show featuring Project 21 members. Go here to watch Lisa Fritsch; go here to watch full-time Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli on the "A Time To Be Heard" Glenn Beck broadcast.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:01 PM

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project 21 Praises U.S. Response to Haiti Tragedy

Project 21 members are praising the generosity of the American people in response to the terrible tragedy in Haiti.

Here's a press release the group issued a few minutes ago:
Individual Generosity in Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts Praised by Black Conservatives

People Stepping Up Before the Government Could Act Sets Example for the World

For Release: January 18, 2010
Contact: David Almasi at (703) 568-4727 or [email protected]

As people honor the values and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., members of the Project 21 black leadership network are also taking this time to commend the American people for their quick and generous acts of charity after last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Deneen Borelli (Project 21 Fellow): "As we remember Dr. King, it is heartwarming to see how the American people have come together to help those in need. As they always do, average Americans of all races, classes and backgrounds opened their wallets and asked what they could do to help long before even the government could respond. Faith-based organizations n which have always been a great help n are picking up the slack where established relief groups and the government are already overwhelmed. Without a political goal in mind, the American people joined as one to offer hope. That is something to be proud of on this holiday."

Geoffrey Moore: "I want to commend the American people on their response to the earthquake in Haiti. As usual, Americans step up to the plate to help those most in need."

Darryn 'Dutch' Martin: "The fact that the American government and its people are front and center in helping the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake -- and have been from the start -- is not surprising. No other sovereign nation is doing more to provide immediate humanitarian and financial assistance to needy countries and peoples with the same passion and on the same scale as the United States of America. At the same time, other jealous, America-hating nations either badmouth us as they sit on their hands or simply ride our coattails. Do we get the credit from the rest of the world that we so richly deserve for this never-ending helping hand? Of course not, and our efforts in Haiti will probably be no exception. But that's to be expected, and it will not deter American generosity."

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:01 PM

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unlike Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, I Would Save the Babies and Children First

Betsy McCaughey has an op-ed on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

I left the following comment on the Journal website:
I found it impossible to read Dr. Emanuel's Lancet article (Jan 2009) without getting a chill. He asserts that we have a social consensus that the lives of 15- to 40-year-olds should be saved ahead of the lives of children 14 and younger. When was this consensus developed? He doesn't say; he doesn't point to focus groups or polling or wherever one goes to gauge public opinion (assuming the public is to be consulted) on such horrible things; he just says it and we are apparently to believe it (The Lancet apparently didn't require him to provide support for his assertion). Yet, if this is so, why do societies not limited to our own parcel out flu vaccines to the most vulnerable first, with scant complaint? And why do so many (based on my admittedly small survey sample) seem to think saving children should be the priority, youngest first?

A century ago the notion "save the women and children first" was so accepted in western culture that one of the richest men in the world put his pregnant wife into a lifeboat on the Titanic and stepped back to be lost. We can accept that Betty Freidan has since killed the women but must the babies and children under 15 be lost as well?

As far as I am concerned, the further this man is away from government, the better. I don't care if some conservatives say he's a nice guy personally. I'm perfectly willing to stand back and drown, but no 40-year-old is getting on the proverbial lifeboat ahead of my elementary school-age kids.
Do any moms in America disagree?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:43 PM

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Want a Baby? Thanks to Government Health Care, In Britain Becoming a Parent May Depend on Where You Live

Everyone over a certain age knows what you have to do if you want to have a baby -- that is, except in Britain, where for some couples, the route to parenthood lies in changing their home address.

That's because Britain's government-run health care system, the National Health Service, or NHS, decides whether to provide in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures to couples based in part on their home address.

It's a situation known as the "postcode lottery" to ordinary Britons, who have long known that their ability to get knee replacement operations, cancer-curing drugs and other medical services and procedures may be granted -- or withheld -- from them simply because of where they live.

Now, thanks to a survey by a Member of Parliament, it's become clear that its not just quality-of-life and death that may be determined in the postcode lottery, but the opportunity to be born itself.

MP Grant Shapps found that the regional primary care trusts under which the NHS operates have widely divergent rules covering when couples are eligible to receive IVF services, despite the existence of uniform national recommendations set out by the British government's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE.

Under NICE recommendations, women under 40 should be eligible for up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS. Nonetheless, in some areas it was unavailable to women aged 23-39. In others it was available only to women aged 37-39.

In about half of Britain, the NHS declines IVF services to couples in which one partner already has a child. Likewise, in half the country couples are required to have been in a relationship with one another for at least three years before seeking treatment, while in other areas there is a shorter time requirement, or none.

In many parts of Britain couples who smoke are ineligible for IVF, although some regional trusts relent if only the man smokes.

Despite NICE guidelines calling for access to three cycles of IVF on the public NHS system for all women under 40, Britain's Department of Health said only 30 percent of regional primary care trusts provided three cycles, 23 percent provided two cycles and 47 percent one cycle.

Watch for The National Center for Public Policy Research's upcoming new book, Shattered Lives: 100 Stories of Government Health Care, for more on "postcode lotteries" and rationing in countries with government-run medicine.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:21 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

House Left Moves to End Community Service Requirement in Public Housing

The Congressional conservatives' Republican Study Committee reports that Congressmen Rangel (D-NY), Frank (D-MA), Waters (D-CA) and Watt (D-NC) will introduce an amendment to the Transportation-HUD appropriations bill later today to prohibit requiring people in public housing to contribute eight hours per month to community service or spend a comparable time in an economic self-sufficiency program.

Eight hours per month must have been too much to ask.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 PM

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Government's Penalties for Success Are Running Into Its Subsidies for Failure

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) says today in an article by Matt Cover for that small businesses don't make $280,000 a year, so new health care tax hikes at that level won't harm small business.

Oddly though -- as a commenter on the website noted -- the Small Business Administration will provide financial assistance to firms making many times that.

If you manufacture cigarettes, for example, you are eligible for Small Business Administration assistance if you have a thousand employees. Setting aside the question of why Congress is subsidizing cigarette manufacturing while penalizing it with sin taxes, can we rationally assume a business with a thousand employees never clears $280,000 a year?

So we appear to have a case in which you are penalized for being rich at the same time you are subsidized for not being rich enough.

But there is a method to Congress' madness, says Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), as reported by Adam Brickley and Fadia Galindo for The Congressional majority's health care tax plan is designed to harm small businesses sufficiently to force them to cut their employees' health care benefits, thus forcing those employees onto the public health care plan.

So when it looks like Congress is taxing and subsidizing the same people in a completely nonsensical way, we can rest assured that there is a purpose behind it after all -- the purpose of driving as many of us as politically-possible into a substandard, inevitably insolvent public health care plan.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 PM

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Universal Health Care Immoral?

Smart Girl Nation examines the question: Is universal health care a moral issue?

Kimberly Moore says "yes," and adds, "the United States already has a universal health care plan. It is Medicaid and Medicare."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:56 AM

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Hurting the Nations by Hurting the Rich

A very good column by composer/producer Andrew Lloyd Webber (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and more) on the pitfalls of raising taxes on the rich is directed at a British audience, but ought to be read by Americans.

Here's hoping lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic pay attention.

Andrew Lloyd Webber writes:
The opinion polls have uttered. The country loves the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax. Soak the rich. Smash the bankers...

...I believe that this new top rate of tax could be the final nail in the coffin of Britain plc.

I am 61 years old. I have lived and worked in Britain all my life. Not even in the dark days of penal Labour taxation in the Seventies did I have any intention of leaving the country of my birth...

...I write this article because I fear the inevitable exodus of the talent that can dig us out of the hole we find ourselves in. It is inevitable, given that other countries are bidding for entrepreneurs. The Government must modify its proposals.

I give you this example. I have altered the details of the family I write about for obvious reasons. But the essentials are true.

Last Thursday I met with a thirtysomething guy. I absolutely depend on him in a highly technical area of theatrical production. For legal reasons he has to employ himself through his own company. Under the new tax regime, he will have to pay 13.3 per cent to employ himself before he pays himself anything. And then he will have to pay 51.5 per cent on what's left.

This is a guy at the cutting edge of his profession who works all over the world. He is in demand in every major territory where entertainment is produced. He has a young wife and two children. Last Thursday he told me that he and his wife had decided that the UK was no longer where they wanted to live.

His wife thinks the State education system is inadequate. And she fears that a bankrupt Britain will increasingly be a worse place in which to live as the horror of our present financial mess hits us all in the solar plexus.

He says that he is young enough to set up shop somewhere else. The new tax rates were the final straw. These talented young people know they will make it impossible for them to educate their kids privately in the UK.

So Britain plc loses not just the 40 per cent he would have paid in personal taxes under the old regime - plus NI and everything else - but... Come on, I don't need to explain the knock-on effect. It's obviously huge and immensely damaging - that's why I am writing this article quickly and probably with too much passion...

...Of course there are thousands of people like my friend - some employing themselves through their own companies, some self-employed, some employed by others. But all are part of the wealth-creation engine that has helped power Britain's economy...

...So I ask the Government to reconsider what it is doing. More than ever before we need to keep high-flying professionals in the UK. We can't, as we have done in the past, dump on them through penal personal taxation...

...The next few years are going to be horrendous in the UK. The last thing we need is a Somali pirate-style raid on the few wealth creators who still dare to navigate Britain's gale-force waters.
Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:35 PM

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Project 21 Hails Supreme Court Decision Against Racial Gerrymandering

Project 21 issued a press release Monday evening on the new Supreme Court decision:
Supreme Court Decision Against Racial Gerrymandering Hailed

For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.: Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie today hailed a new U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting the use of the Voting Rights Act to supercede other laws to create predominantly black voting districts, saying the decision is a new protection against the abuse of civil rights laws for potential partisan gain.

"It continues to confound me that those whose party is responsible for preventing blacks from voting until 1964 now want to illegally redefine voting districts because it serves their best interest," said Massie. "It should go without saying that creating special black voting districts - for partisan gain or otherwise - is against the spirit of civil rights."

In the case of Bartlett v. Strickland, a 5-4 decision by the Court struck down the redistricting of District 18 in North Carolina. The prevailing concern among lawmakers involved in the redistricting process after the last census was adherence to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This requires the political process to be "open equally" to minority voters. In doing so, a state law prohibiting the division of counties to create voting districts was violated to raise the percentage of blacks of voting age in the new District 18 from 35 percent to over 39 percent. One of the affected counties challenged the North Carolina General Assembly's process.

This decision is important because it can prevent the political manipulation of voting district boundaries based on race. In his majority opinion, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "Section 2 does not guarantee minority voters an electoral advantage."

District 18, as previously drawn, gave Democrats a 59 percent to 41 percent electoral advantage among registered voters. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), however, criticized the decision as a "cramped reading" of the Voting Rights Act and a "serious blow" to civil rights.

"The only cramped reading is on the part of Leahy and his ilk. Even if his rhetoric is spoken without intended malice, his comments aid the nefarious work of partisans who seek to preserve ill-gotten political gains under the guise of promoting civil rights," added Project 21's Massie. "It's amazing the things that liberals can say with a straight face."

Project 21 is a black leadership network dedicated to promoting free-market ideals and the diversity of opinion among black Americans.

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at



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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:05 AM

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Watch the Borellis Live Online on Fox's "Strategy Room" Wednesday

By David Almasi:
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli is scheduled to discuss ACORN and the so-called "stimulus" bill and other current events as part of the group discussion on the Fox News Channel's online "Strategy Room" program on Wednesday, February 18 between 9:00 am and 10:00 am eastern.

Tom Borelli, the director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, is set to be participating in the"Strategy Room" discussion later on the same day - 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm eastern - to discuss the detrimental economic effects of "cap-and-trade" regulatory policy and breaking news.

To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page under the photo.

To learn more about Fox's "Strategy Room" Internet talk show, click here to see an article about the program that appeared in this past Monday's New York Times.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:34 AM

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brian M. Riedl: Stimulus Bill Should Not Bail Out States

Brian M. Riedl says it is a bad idea for Congress to bail out what he terms "irresponsible states" in the stimulus bill:
...Congress already sends $467 billion a year to state and local government--up 29 percent after inflation since 2000. This is well beyond what is needed to reimburse states for federal mandates (and Washington has imposed few new unfunded mandates on the states since 1996). The feds continue to give heavy subsidies to state health, education, and transportation programs. But apparently that is not enough.

States depend on volatile tax sources such as income taxes, so common sense suggests building rainy day funds during booms to cushion the inevitable recessions. And yet states keep responding to temporary revenue surges with permanent new spending programs. Between 1994 and 2001, states flush with new revenues shunned rainy day funds and instead expanded their general fund budgets by 6.2 percent a year.

All booms eventually end, and these free-spending states left themselves totally unprepared for the 2002-2003 economic slowdown. Yet instead of sufficiently paring back their bloated budgets, the states demanded--and received--a $30 billion bailout from Washington in 2003.

Bailing out someone who has behaved irresponsibly encourages future misbehavior. And that is just what happened: After the 2003 bailout, states went right back to spending--with annual budget hikes averaging 7.2 percent over the next four years.(Some also built up their rainy day funds, but not enough.)...
There's a good bit more here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 AM

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How the Stimulus Bill Could Kill You

If adopted, the stimulus bill could kill you you or your loved ones. No, not immediately, and not for certain, but it could.

It's because of something in the fine print.

If you haven't yet read this James C. Capretta column on the Corner on National Review Online, you should.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:59 PM

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Global Warming News Roundup

A British government environmental minister is warning that recycling "could be adding to global warming."

Furthermore, this Daily Telegraph article notes that some local governments in Britain have "admitted using anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on householders who fail to recycle properly."

And then there's the report that Britain's National Health Service (socialized medicine system) is going to cut back on serving meat to patients in order to help combat global warming. That's the rationale, anyway, but the NHS is always looking for ways to save money, and it often comes at the cost of patient welfare.

Another British National Health Service recommendation is that patients be encouraged to get diagnoses from their doctors by telephone consultation instead of by in-person examination. This too is being sold as an effort to combat global warming.

Finally, in other global warming-related news, James Hansen's former supervisor at NASA has told Marc Morano of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that James Hansen "violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting" because the agency "did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind's effect on it." He also says Hansen "embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress." Read all about it here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:12 PM

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Slavery Apology and Reparations Debate Neglects Pressing Matters of the Present Day

By David Almasi:
A commentary by Project 21 staff research associate Stephen Roberts about the reaction to a recent congressional apology for slavery was published by The Washington Times this past Saturday.

In his commentary, Roberts discusses the need to get past the slavery issue in order to address present-day problems facing black Americans. Reparations further muddle the pursuit of modern progress. Roberts writes:
With this diversity of outcomes in mind, how are activists and lawmakers dealing with an apology for slavery? They are doing what they do best - playing politics...

In calling it just "a large step," Mr. Cummings skillfully leaves open the door to ask for more - namely, reparations. A Toledo Blade editorial made clear the apology cost nothing, calling it "an empty gesture" of "little use to the victims [it is] meant to make feel better." Quoted in the Final Call, Professor Michael Eric Dyson said: "Reparations are certainly one of the signals that America can send if they are serious about reconstituting American culture..."

The problem with the apology debate - and the ensuing racial backbiting - is the consequent neglect of the pressing matters of the present day. Columnist Christopher Caldwell notes there are no more slave owners or Jim Crow laws. Segments of black America, however, are currently trapped in cyclic poverty. What can be done for them that does not involve historical naval-gazing or polarizing stereotyped groups that no longer technically exist?
The entire commentary can be read by clicking here
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:51 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Physicists, Fewer Fullbacks: Project 21's Robinson Commentary in The Root Sets a New Mission for Black Colleges

By David Almasi:
This week, the White House is focusing attention on historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with an official week of commemoration and a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Project 21 member B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. is marking the week by calling on HBCUs to commit more resources to train students in science and technology to meet the growing demand in those fields. This, Robinson believes, will help foster further black prosperity and help equalize employment opportunities.

Since this will obviously drain tight budgets, Robinson offers a suggestion: HBCUs should cut back their athletic programs.

In his commentary on the subject, which was published by The Root - a black-focused web site jointly operated by The Washington Post and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University - Robinson wrote:
Among black students in particular, there is a distinct technological training deficit. According to Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 from the federal National Science Board, only 8.4 percent of college graduates in 2005 who received degrees in science and engineering were black.

There has been a slow and steady increase of black science and engineering graduates over the surveyed period of 1985 to 2005, but this black progress was nonetheless outpaced by Hispanic and Asian gains.

Compounding the problem of so few blacks receiving science and engineering degrees is that a consistent rate of over 30 percent of incoming black freshmen over the years regularly intend on pursuing such majors while less than a third actually obtain a degree...

Given that their budgets and access to resources are limited, how can HBCUs increase their science and technology focus? They should not "Rob Peter to pay Paul." They should simply take "Peter" out of the equation. The HBCUs' Peter is money-losing athletic programs.

HBCUs should consider converting resources set aside for athletic programs into resources for scientific research and development...

For the future of black America, HBCUs and the nation, it seems appropriate that HBCUs turn their athletic and competitive swords and spears into productive and scientific plowshares and pruning hooks.
To read the full Robinson commentary, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 AM

Monday, September 08, 2008

Project 21 in Washington Times

Project 21 members and staff have been published in the Washington Times' op-ed page several times recently. Fans of the group may wish to click on one or more of the following:

"Speed-Limit Myths" - Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie takes on Senator John Warner of Virginia's trial balloon favoring a federal mandate to lower speed limits. After explaining who/what really would benefit from such a policy (hint: not the environment, but it involves something green), Massie suggests that "it might be better if Mr. Warner just drove off into the sunset. If only he could go a little faster."

"History is the Final Judge" - Project 21 member Ak'Bar A. Shabazz asks, "if we disregard the calls for freedom and democracy in places such as Tibet, where are we placing ourselves as it relates to world history?," and quotes Martin Luther King, Jr., saying "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Property Rights" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein examines the government's use of eminent domain power in a predominately black city to take choice land from small businesses in order to sell it to large ones. He says, "Self-professed champions of the poor don't help when they oppose eminent domain reform. Doing so simply allows government to take from one and give to another - at the expense of communities - just to rake in tax dollars."

"Let Them Eat Cake" - Project 21 member Kevin L. Martin calls on Congress to allow more oil drilling, saying "There may be a day when we all have electric cars, but the one I have right now doesn't have a plug, solar panel or hydrogen converter. It takes gasoline. While I don't object to the possibility of alternative energy sources in the future, I know that most Americans own cars that need gas and live in homes that are powered at least in part by coal. When the elites stifle access to plentiful power, the financial burden is a lot smaller for them. They can afford to pay more for a hybrid car and rave about getting better gas mileage. They can also feel better about their indulgences when they buy imaginary 'carbon credits' that give them the moral authority to use more energy than they want to allow the masses. Like Marie Antoinette, they think the rest of America can 'eat cake' like they can. Sadly, we can't."

"The Civil Rights Shakedown: Myth or Reality?" - Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli takes a look at shakedown allegations against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and describes her own effort to urge a corporate board not to be part of such a process. Deneen wrote, in part, "Frustrated by what appears to me to be a long history of Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sharpton using semi-subtle campaigns to pressure corporations to donate, I spoke up at the JPMorgan shareholder meeting. After Mr. Jackson spoke, I took his place at the microphone and asked Mr. Dimon and his board: 'Will there ever be a day where you will stand up and say 'No' to Mr. Jackson and to his demands and messages of victimization and divisiveness? This is the United States of America, and this is not the 1960s. People should be hired based on their talents and they should be retained based on their results. There should not be color-coded hiring in the United States.' Shareholders clapped. But, unlike Mr. Jackson's, my question went unanswered."

"Gaining Access with Identification" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein turns the Voter ID debate into a civil rights issue -- but maybe not in the way you think: "The bottom line is that someone without proper identification is out of step. And those who want to keep them there are out of line."

"Black America is Still Not Free" - Project 21 research associate Reece Epstein reviews the new book "Sweet Release: The Last Step to Black Freedom" by psychologist Dr. James Davidson, Jr.: "...although he criticizes liberals, Davidson is quick to note he is no conservative. He writes: 'My behaviors and ideas [are] anything but conservative. Trying to improve one's social and economic lot by rejecting traditional societal and black community standards for achievement seemed antithetical to [being] conservative.' The apolitical goal of Sweet Release is to create advancers: 'What you seek is simply not in the 'hood. It never has been, and it never will be... We must now move beyond our own remaining chains, beyond the mental barriers that keep so many of us constrained in our thoughts and deeds.'"

"Governance drives this crisis" - Project 21 associate and Initiative for Public Policy Analysis executive director Thompson Ayodele asks, "Hunger is an everyday problem in Africa. What can be done about it?," and answers, in part: "For one thing, a better governmental infrastructure and incentives can stimulate production if done right. Anything that would dampen competition, and thus lower the incentive to produce, should be avoided. When these programs are instituted, they must be administered with professionalism and transparency."

"Too few Watts: 'Segregated News' is Not the Answer" - Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie isn't too thrilled about former GOP Congressman J.C. Watts' plans to create a black news television channel: "...the question begging an answer is what exactly constitutes 'black news.' There are things that happen to black people in black communities that don't really have an impact on the rest of America, but that doesn't mean they should be provincial to black America. News happening in America is American news, and it should be everyone's concern."

"Jesse Jackson Outrage Strategy: No Dough, No Go?" - Project 21 staff director David Almasi and research associate Justin Danhof wonder why Jesse Jackson never challenged XM Satellite Radio for alleged racial insensitivity for a gold tooth ad similar to one run by Toyota which Jackson did protest. They ask: "Remember when Jesse Jackson challenged XM Satellite Radio for its racist advertising? Probably not, since it never happened. Why he didn't is the question." Could it be because Toyota has more money?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:45 PM

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Michael Savage and Autism, an Appeal for Calm

Those of us who follow talk radio and/or autism-related issues are aware that a campaign has sprung up calling for the firing of syndicated radio host Michael Savage.

Speaking on his July 16 broadcast, Savage claimed that 99 percent of autism cases are fake; that they actually are examples of kids misbehaving and bad parenting.

According to Media Matters, Savage said:
I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.' " Savage concluded, "[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said -- 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.
In response, Savage says his comments were taken out of context by Media Matters. He explained his views more fully this week, telling Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times, for example, that the 99 percent fakery figure was "hyperbole." On his own website Savage called on people not to make a rush to judgement about his views based solely upon the charges of critics. He added that his comments were actually in support of truly autistic children, who, he said, lose out on services and funding they need because money is "pilfered by those who are not autistic." "The truly autistic child needs as much help as he or she can get," he said; what he opposes is "fakery."

Nonetheless, calls for Savage to pay a severe professional penalty continue. A big advertiser stopped advertising, a seven-station radio network in Mississippi dropped the show, and there have been calls for Savage's firing.

The group AutismLink circulated a letter Monday evening saying it is calling on autism organizations to sign a petition calling for Savage's firing. Tuesday afternoon the group circulated the following list of organizations and individuals it said have called for Savage's firing:
AutismLink, National Autism Organization
Autism Centers of Pittsburgh
FEAT of the Carson Valley, Minden, NV
National Autism Association
Mary D’Angelo, Parent, St. Louis Missouri
Autism Society of West Virginia, South Central Region
Henderson Homeschoolers
Las Vegas Special Needs Homeschoolers
Autism Society of York PA Chapter
Janice Bachert, New Berlin, WI
Mary Neumeier, Walden, NY
Aware4Autism, PA
Autism Connection, Marion Ohio
Autism Society of , Harrisburg, PA Chapter [sic]
Daniel J. Cavallini, Attorney at Law, Indianapolis, IN
FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment), Louisville
Mary Pat and Steven Cantando, New York
Queens County Parents Autism Coalition (QCPAC) in Queens, NY
Autism Resource Network, Inc., Hopkins, MN
Brookings Area Autism Support Network, South Dakota
Autism Show U Care
Autism Spectrum Support Group of Lebanon County, PA
PEACE (Parental Encouragement for Autism in Chidren Everywhere), Lakeland FL
The FUZZ Foundation, Indianapolis, IN
Organization for Autism Spectrum Information & Support, Inc., Ohio
Lyme-Autism Organization, Portland, OR
My sense of this is that those who are calling for Savage's firing should calm down. Savage clearly has sympathy for children disabled by autism. His greatest offense was that his disgust over what he believes is people using autism for financial gain encouraged him to exaggerate the extent to which autism is overdiagnosed and the ease with which genuine autism (which presently is incurable) can be cured. The hyperbole was not helpful, but it should not be confused with an attack on the genuinely disabled.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Segregation Without Perpetrator or Benefactor

A new New Visions Commentary op-ed by National Center for Public Policy Research Research Associate Reece Epstein says implementing voter ID laws can benefit the poor.

Reece writes, in part:
...Fighting voter ID laws rather than focusing on helping people comply with them champions a disconnected status, leading to further disfranchisement. Not only might people not be able to vote, but they also cannot protect and grow their savings, travel by bus, train or air, wire money or visit government buildings.

Put that in perspective. Denying that people need ID in our modern society sounds more criminal than virtuous. Theirs is a segregation without perpetrator or benefactor, but it is segregation nonetheless. Voter ID laws don't change that.

After spending lots of money on lawyers, lobbyists and grassroots campaigns to keep people from needing ID, might it be wiser to instead spend perhaps a fraction of that money on a non-profit group that is a resource to help those without ID?

Instead of perpetuating a flawed system that potentially disfranchises all voters, why not provide a public service. Don't know what to bring or where to get an ID? If it's not on the web site, someone can research it. Having trouble getting a birth certificate? Find out where to call. Need cab fare or money to purchase an ID? Fill out an application and get reimbursed.

The bottom line is that someone without proper identification is out of step. And those who want to keep them there are out of line.
Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:23 PM

Monday, May 12, 2008

Project 21's Borelli Chides California Lawmakers for Coerced Giving Proposal

By David Almasi:
People already hate it when the government tells them what they can buy. Now, California lawmakers are mulling over a proposal that would tell people how they can give to charity.

In a commentary published in the May 11 Washington Times, Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli has criticized alifornia's "The Foundation Diversity and Transparency Act" (AB 624), which would, she points out, "require charitable foundations with assets of $250 million or more to report the race, sex and sexual preferences of its staff, board of directors and grant recipients in the foundation's annual report and on its website."

Deneen further noted:
One group supporting AB 624 is The Greenlining Institute, a left-wing public policy organization headquartered in the radical enclave of Berkeley. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the group alleges that minorities are not sufficiently represented in California policy debates. Operating on the notion that this is because minority groups don't have enough money, AB 624 being sought as a tactic to "shame" foundations into donating more money to minority-led entities.

Why rely on merit when charitable giving can be mandated through the force of law?

The Greenling Institute agenda is clear: use the race card to hijack the power of the state and force charities to fund liberal organizations under the guise of helping minorities.
Besides the bureaucratic costs and hassles involved and the ability for it to become a model for other state and federal lawmakers, Deneen notes the chilling effect AB 624 could have on charitable giving:
Implementation of AB 624 may also deter individuals and companies from establishing philanthropic foundations in the first place. The Greenlining goal is to "shame" foundations. Why establish a foundation with advance knowledge that it will be harassed if it doesn't give away its money in the prescribed, politically-correct manner?

Ironically, by seeking to increase donations to certain groups, this legislation may actually result in a chilling effect on overall philanthropy and harm all deserving grant recipients.
Deneen's complete commentary can be found here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:20 AM

Friday, May 02, 2008

Project 21's Nedd Joins Other Religious Leaders at UN Public Health Conference

From David Almasi:
Project 21 member Council Nedd II, a bishop in the Episcopal Missionary Church, is returning from Geneva, Switzerland, where he helped lead a non-governmental organization (NGO) delegation to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. Council was there to defend the intellectual property rights that currently protect patents on prescription medications.

Activists are seeking WHO approval to circumvent these patents, saying the needs of the poor and afflicted outweigh a drug company's intellectual property rights.

Council and three other members of the international clergy -- Bishop Emeritus Albilio Ribas of Sao Tome & Principe (Roman Catholic), The Rev. Fr. Anthony Ojeh of Asaba, Nigeria (Anglican, like Nedd) and Pastor William Daldoum of the Nations Upon the Rock Church in Sudan (Pentacostal) -- have signed a statement of principles regarding faith, health care and the protection of individual property rights (the patent on medicines, in particular). They see patents and the protection of them as vital to ensuring new and better health care advancement in the future.

These men -- who have engaged in health care-related missionary work in African countries that include Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Sa Tome & Principe, Angola, Sudan and Nigeria -- decry the claim that "patents deny patients access to medication" and instead want to promote "the importance of intellectual property rights to advancements in developing world health care."

To follow is their statement:
Whereas it is being said in certain quarters that patents deny patients access to medication, we the clergy gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, based on our hands on experience in our public health missionary activities, particularly in Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Sa Tome & Principe, Angola, Sudan and Nigeria hereby declare and affirm that:
The most important issue here is keeping people alive and healthy.

Drug counterfeiting which is prevalent in Africa and particularly in Uganda, Ghana, Sudan and Nigeria denies patients access to life saving medicines because of the abysmally poor and dangerous quality of the counterfeit drugs.

Scientific and technological research and development are very important in guaranteeing the development and production of new quality life saving medications and in effect opens the door for patients to access quality medication.

Counterfeit and inferior drugs worsen and complicate ailments and the condition of patients. In very many cases, counterfeit drugs destroy lives and deplete needed human capital. Patients should be protected from counterfeit drugs.

Patents are a driving force for incentives in drug research and development. If researchers insist on being rewarded through patent protection for their inventions and discoveries, so be it. The important thing is that lives are saved thereby and not destroyed. The laborer after all is deserving of his pay.

Considering that all human beings are individually gifted, and if it be necessary to preserve patents as an incentive, monetary or otherwise to encourage further scientific and technological discoveries in quality life saving drugs, then we should do it. More especially as we cannot at this point rule out the possibility of the emergence of new diseases that could threaten human existence in the future, we need to preserve incentives to encourage an individual to use his/her gifts for the benefit of others especially in matters of human health. After all our civilization does not encourage us to force a man to use his natural gifts for the benefit of his fellowman. Such an individual may refuse his gift, and if he does so, that is a matter between him and his maker.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Miracle Healer. He tells us in the book of John 14:12 that "The things I do ye also can do them." The effect of this is that it is in our power to be miracle healers through gifted scientists by preserving the instrument that encourages them to find solution to our health problems. Patent protection seems to effectively do that. The starting point is to discover the solution such as the drug and then ensure that the patient is able to access the solution. First the solution must be available, and then we ensure access.

In light of the above, patents actually do save lives. The issue is to ensure that people are kept alive and healthy.

Counterfeit and fake drugs do not save lives. They destroy lives. Existing medicines must be made available to those in need of them, wherever they may be. We must not allow bad politics to take precedence over the safety of human lives and good health today and tomorrow.
God Bless. Signed this 30th Day of April 2008,
The Most Rev. Albilio Ribas, Bishop Emeritus of Sao Tome & Principe

The Right Rev. Council Nedd II, Bishop of the Chesapeake, EMC

The Rev. Fr. Anthony Ojeh, Asaba, Nigeria

Pastor William Daldoum, Nations Upon the Rock Church
For more on this issue, I recommend a New Visions Commentary, "Underserved and Overlooked," by Council Nedd that Project 21 published in February.
To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected]. David is executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. He provides staffing support to Project 21.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:15 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

EPA Jeopardizes Children in Potentially Dangerous Sludge Experiments

Project 21's Deneen Borelli is not happy about the EPA and other federal agencies conducting de facto experiments on families in poor, black families:
EPA Sludge Tests a "Modern-Day Tuskegee Experiment"

Children in Poor Black Neighborhoods Potentially Imperiled by EPA Studies

For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.: Revelations that the federal government conducted potentially dangerous sludge-related experiments on children in Baltimore is condemned by Project 21 black leadership network fellow Deneen Borelli, who is demanding more answers about the origins of the experiment and wants to know how much other reckless policymaking is permeating federal agencies.

The Associated Press reported April 13 that researchers using federal grant money selected nine families in poor, black Baltimore neighborhoods to test if sludge could reduce child health risks from lead. Sludge derived from human and industrial waste was tilled into the families' yards and grass was planted over it.

The AP story said families were told that lead found in the soil in their yards posed a health risk and that the sludge was safe. The study, the findings of were published in 2005, did find that sludge bonded with the harmful metals lead, cadmium and zinc in the soil. However, concerns about the health risk of the sludge appear to have been overlooked, and no follow-up medical examinations of the families were reported.

The AP says, "epidemiological studies have never been done to show whether spreading sludge on land is safe."

A similar experiment was done in a poor, primarily black neighborhood in East St. Louis, IL.

"This is no less than a modern-day Tuskegee Experiment," said Borelli. "The government appears to have clearly failed - in the case of the EPA - in its mission 'to protect human health and safeguard the environment.' In fact, it is failure on both counts. For federal bureaucrats at EPA and HUD to knowingly allow this experiment to take place and jeopardize the health of children and adults is outrageous."

In 1993, the EPA began allowing Class B sludge containing human feces, medical waste and assorted chemicals to be used on farmland, in national forests and for mine reclamation efforts. EPA managers have been hostile to critics who questioned whether the sludge is safe. The hostility included angry calls and letters to public critics and unfounded ethics complaints imperiling the careers of critics within the agency. EPA scientists David Lewis and William Markus, who spoke out about the unknown potential dangers of Class B sludge, were retaliated against by their superiors, but later sued the EPA and won a $100,000 settlement.

In March a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to compensate Georgia farmer Andy McElmurray because sludge used in his fields to grow corn and cotton to feed livestock contained extremely high levels of arsenic, toxic heavy metals and PCBs. U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo wrote that government-endorsed data on the sludge was "unreliable, incomplete and, in some cases, fudged." Judge Alaimo further wrote, "senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to quash scientific dissent."

Borelli wants to know if there are other issues championed by the agency in which necessary assessment was bypassed to meet desired political goals.

"One can't help but compare the scandal in Baltimore to global warming policy promoted by environmental activists and many of their supporters in the government bureaucracy," added Project 21's Borelli. "In the case of the EPA, the agency's lack of sound analysis regarding climate change will undoubtedly lead to dire economic consequences. For instance, the American Council For Capital Formation predicts '...the United States would lose between 1.2 and 1.8 million jobs in 2020' and that the 'primary cause of job losses would be lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs.' We can't be allowed to run headlong into a crisis without proper scientific evidence. In Baltimore and the nation as a whole, it looks as if the government is putting policy goals ahead of public welfare."

Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study on the effects of syphilis on black men. In the process, researchers intentionally denied full knowledge and treatment for the debilitating sexually transmitted disease to the 399 black men studied. Called the Tuskegee Experiment because government researchers used the renowned black institution's medical facilities, the race-based study led to the deaths of 128 of the study's subjects while 59 wives and children contracted or were born with syphilis.

The AP story was written by John Heilprin and Kevin S. Viney.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:49 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Eve of D.C. Gun Ban Supreme Court Case, Black Activist Says No Rights are Secure Unless All of Them Are

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today on the constitutionality of the nearly 32-year-old District of Columbia handgun ban. Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, a gun owner, says the court must respect all the protections in the U.S. Constitution, or none of them are truly safe:
Black Activist Asks: If Courts Can Gut Second Amendment, How Can We Assume 13th Amendment Ban on Slavery is Safe?

For Release: March 18, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or
[email protected]

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers its first major case involving the definition of the 2nd Amendment's protection of gun rights in almost 70 years, black activists with the Project 21 leadership network assert that government should not be allowed to pick and choose what constitutional protections are honored and enforced.

"As a black American, I would be horrified to hear a state or local government enacted legislation or regulation that gutted the 13th Amendment's prohibit on slavery or the 15th Amendment's guarantee that all races could vote. Why aren't more people outraged when the 2nd Amendment's guarantee that individuals can protect themselves is infringed?" asks Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "Besides violating the 2nd Amendment, this case involving the District of Columbia's gun ban is a violation of the fundamental rationale of law as well as immorally denying citizens the right to protect themselves."

In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, to be heard at 10:00 am Eastern on March 18, the justices will consider arguments about a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last spring that struck down the 1976 law that banned most gun ownership in the nation's capital. This particular case is important from other recent gun rights cases heard by the Court because the nature of the case touches the core 2nd Amendment protection of an individual's right to own a firearm.

"In Washington, criminals know that an unarmed citizen is easy prey. Right now, the criminals are winning because the city's gun ban is effectively protecting the plunderer and punishing the property owner," added Project 21's Borelli. "The lower court verdict to restore power to the people to legally possess a suitable firearm will make criminals think twice about their actions, and it is something the Supreme Court should affirm."

Borelli's column on the case is available at

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:22 AM

Friday, June 29, 2007

Climate Change is a Human Issue

From Stella Dulanya and Peyton Knight, a report on the latest Senate global warming hearing:
Yesterday, National Center Senior Fellow Thomas J. Borelli, Ph.D., testified on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund before the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing entitled, "Examining Global Warming Issues in the Power Plant Sector."

In his testimony, Tom stressed that CEOs who succumb to, or attempt to capitalize on, the political flavor-of-the-day risk harming their company's long-term profitability.

As Tom pointed out:
All too often, today's CEOs make decisions based on appeasing social and political pressure or by trying to generate revenue through legislation that favor their company. In our view, these strategies are shortsighted because they stymie competition, innovation and jeopardize future earnings.

For these very reasons, we strongly oppose cap and trade legislation and company participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). Accordingly, we are in opposition to legislation that sets carbon dioxide limits and allocations for the utility industry.

While the science implicating human activity on global warming is uncertain and speculative, the economic costs of cap and trade legislation are certain and severe. We are deeply concerned about the affect of cap and trade on both the U.S. economy and on the future profitability of the companies in our portfolio - including PG&E and Duke Energy.
Borelli also discussed the specific CEOs, including Caterpillar, Inc.'s James Owens:
Caterpillar's CEO James Owens admitted he did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis of cap and trade before deciding to join USCAP. In addition, he was not aware of the CBO study that found cap and trade regulations would hurt his coal industry customers.

This CEO survey illustrates a complete ignorance about the consequences of global warming regulations on the economy and their businesses.

Caterpillar's participation in USCAP is a perfect illustration of CEO incompetence and deception surrounding cap and trade legislation. Caterpillar's future profit depends on a growing economy and growth in the energy and mining industries. In fact, according to its 10-K filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), it cites a decline in the economic growth and a decline in the mining industry as a key risk to its business.

Yet inexplicably, Mr. Owens is a member of USCAP, which supports cap and trade regulations that are going to harm the economy and the coal business - a key customer for Caterpillar products. Astonishingly, CEO Owens is lobbying against his own earnings!

Not only is Owens harming his company, he is keeping his shareholders in the dark. Nowhere does Caterpillar disclose to its shareholders that its support of cap and trade can potentially lead to a decline in its business.
Also testifying at yesterday's hearing was Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Ph.D., who noted that "regulatory strategies like the Kyoto Protocol... are all economic pain for no environmental gain." Dr. Lewis explained:
Based on favorable scientific assumptions, the Kyoto treaty would avert only 0.07 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2050. That's too small an amount for scientists to detect. Put somewhat differently, Kyoto would postpone the arrival of a 2.6 degrees Celsius warming by five years - from 2095 to 2100...

Similarly, Kyoto would avert only one centimeter of sea-level rise by 2050 and 2.5 centimeters by 2100. It would have no measurable effect on hurricane strength, even if global warming makes hurricanes stronger, and none on malaria-related mortality, even if global warming increases the population risk of exposure to malaria.

However, although Kyoto would provide no discernable climate protection, it would cost the U.S. economy tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in higher energy prices, lost jobs, and lower GDP.
Robert Murray, President and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, pointed out in his testimony yesterday that "climate change is a human issue," and brought home the harsh reality of inhumane global warming policies, including those that would restrict carbon dioxide emissions:
It seems to us that the leadership of this Congress, with the support of the Majority of this Committee and some Republicans, are intent on helping Mr. Gore and those of his ilk in achieving his unquestionable legacy, which will be the destruction of American lives and more death as a result of his hysterical global goofiness, with no environmental benefit...

We do not know how many members of Congress, and particularly the Democrat Majority, have actually ever created a job for anyone. I have created 3,300 primary jobs and up to 36,000 secondary ones, according to the Pennsylvania State University, from a mortgaged home, and I can tell you that it is virtually impossible to do so today in our great country due to difficulties imposed by our own government at every turn...

Some wealthy elitists in our country and many in our Congressional leadership, particularly from California and New England, and in the entertainment industry, including Mr. Gore, who cannot tell fact from fiction, have demonstrated an Olympian detachment from the impacts of draconian climate change policy. For them, the jobs and dreams destroyed as a result will be nothing more than the statistics and cares of other people. The consequences are abstractions to them. But, they are not to me, as I can name many of the thousands of American citizens whose lives will be destroyed by these elitists' ill-conceived "global goofiness" campaigns.
To contact authors Stella Dulanya and Peyton Knight directly,
write them at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:45 PM

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jonathan's Law

The Carey family of New York State has been promoting "Jonathan's Law," a proposal to make records concerning the care of disabled children available to the child's parents.

The Careys are promoting this law after the state's Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities kept them from viewing records relating to the investigation of allegations that their autistic son Jonathan was physically abused while attending a private school specializing in the education of autistic youngsters. Jonathan was unable to speak, and as such, he could not tell his parents what had happened to him at school.

The Careys removed Jonathan from the school in question and enrolled him in another. As this story shows, Jonathan liked his new school.

Tragically, last Thursday, Jonathan was killed while in the second school's care. As the Albany Times Union reports the story:
The 13-year-old child who died while being transported from the O.D. Heck Developmental Center was the same boy who was allegedly abused while a resident of the Anderson School in Dutchess County in 2004, his parents confirmed to the Times Union today.

Mike and Lisa Carey said authorities told them their son, Jonathan, was inappropriately restrained by two O.D. Heck workers in a transport van Thursday night going through Colonie and couldn't be revived.

"We are devastated,'' Mike Carey sobbed. "He was such a special human being. Jonathan loved Jesus. And maybe this is the Lord's way of getting Jonathan's law passed as soon as possible.''

The two center employees -- identified by town police as Edwin Tirado, 35, of 1634 6th Ave., Schenectady, and Nadeem Mall, 32, 9 Plaske Drive, Schenectady -- have been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

The two men drove around for 1 1/2 hours after the boy stopped breathing said Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider in an afternoon press conference. They went to a Hess Mart for drinks and then drove to a toy store in Mohawk Commons, a short distance from O.D. Heck, to buy a video game and drop it off at Tirado's Schenectady home.

Mall was driving a van to take the 13-year-old and a 14-year-old patient from O.D. Heck to Crossgates Mall. They first stopped at the Hannaford on Wolf Road so that Mall could get cash from an ATM. When he returned, Heider said, Tirado was restraining the boy in the back seat of the van.

The boy soon stopped breathing. "The two adults rendered no aid and they did not return to O.D. Heck for an hour and a half,'' Heider said.

More than two hours after they left for the mall, they finally returned and told O.D. Heck workers they had a medical emergency. Efforts were made to revive the boy there, and he was then taken to St. Clare's Hospital where he was pronounced dead...
I have not read Jonathan's Law, and would not make a recommendation regarding its passage unless I had, but I hope legislators will keep in mind the very special circumstances of children who, due to age or disability, cannot tell their parents about the things that happen to them. Regardless of how it comes about, Jonathan's parents deserve to know the full story of what happened to him -- in both schools. I do not believe the government at any level has the right to withhold information about a child from his parents. It is shocking to me that it even tries.

As a matter of deterrence, persons who work with nonverbal individuals should know that the government won't cover up details in the event they abuse their charges. In my experience, most people who work with special students like Jonathan are wonderful, committed folks who work very hard and shower their students with a lot of loving care. Unfortunately, it would be naive to assume that those who would hurt a child wouldn't be emboldened by the fact that a nonverbal child can't tell anyone about the abuse.

Everyone deserves to be safe. Thos who cannot help protect themselves need extra protection, including sufficient transparency of records to permit their families to know everything it is possible to know about the quality of their care.

In closing, here's an article with a picture of Jonathan. My heart goes out to his family.

Addendum, 5/23/07: Jonathan's Law has been adopted by the New York state legislature and signed into law by New York Governor Elliot Spitzer.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:33 PM

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