Jerry Davich: With health bill upheld, anyone still on fence between Obama or Romney?
Jerry Davich email@example.com June 29, 2012 4:26PM
Former Portage High School athletic director Jeff Smith from 2003.
Updated: August 1, 2012 6:03AM
Are there any voters who are still on the fence over voting for President Barack Obama versus his presumptive Republican opponent Mitt Romney?
Is this even possible, especially after Thursday’s landmark ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the president’s 2010 health care law, dubbed Obamacare by his many critics? This ruling has only polarized even more the pro-Obama versus the pro-anybody-but-Obama camps.
So either you’re voting for Obama or you’re voting against him, right? Either you want to give him four more years in the Oval Office or you want him out of there for good, correct?
If you don’t know by now who you will be voting for in November, where have you been the past four years? And don’t tell me about Ron Paul, a worthy candidate, yes, but one who’s got a snowball’s chance in you-know-where to become president of this country this election year. Or probably any election year.
At this point, there is no middle ground between Obama and Romney. There is no indecisiveness. There is no, “Well, I’m just not sure,” or “I still need to be swayed.”
Yet both candidates continue to spend millions after millions of dollars on campaigning while battling it out over several key issues, from immigration reform and gay rights to economic policy and military strategy.
Amid all the super PAC politics, presidential campaigning and strategic mudslinging, I have to ask the obvious question. Are any voters really being influenced by all this campaigning, to the point they may change their mind about either candidate?
No, I say.
Back in the news,
sorry to say
Jeff Smith is back in the news, unfortunately for him.
Who, you ask? I asked the same question until a few readers contacted me about the former Portage High School athletic director who was suspended from his position earlier this year. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Last week, the 42-year-old Portage Township man was arrested for drunken driving charges in the middle of the night after failing a series of field sobriety tests, police said.
The Post-Tribune ran a short news brief (as it’s called) about the incident. The physical size of the story was roughly 2 inches by 5 inches, yet it caught the attention of quite a few readers. They noticed Smith’s name in the news again and wondered about his pending case involving PHS. I did, too.
If you recall, Smith was suspended by the Portage Township School Board back in March for alleged wrongdoing involving the mishandling of athletic department funds.
“The internal investigation resulted in an estimate of $900 to $1,000 involved in the matter,” explained Portage Schools Superintendent Mike Berta, who is retiring this month. “This is an estimate due to no receipts or method to produce a validated dollar amount ... over approximately 12 months.”
The case is being investigated by the Indiana State Police due to potential conflicts of interest with Portage police and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, I’m told.
“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” ISP spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas said.
The investigation is near completion and will be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office by next week, for determination if a crime has been committed and if any charges are filed, she said.
In March, Smith was removed from administrative salary and placed on teacher salary. Since being suspended, with pay, Smith has received compensation totaling $16,827, as of last week, Berta told me.
“The compensation figure represents finalizing his administrative salary up to March and transitioning to his salary as a teacher as the suspension began,” Berta noted.
This somewhat surprising $16,827 tidbit didn’t go over well with a few readers, mostly Portage parents with an interest in the school’s athletic program.
“I had no idea he was still getting paid,” one mother told me.
Neither was I, but he has not been formally charged for wrongdoing at this point, so continued compensation is a nice perk and a kind gesture by the School Board. (In May, the board hired a new athletic director, Kelly Bermes, who begins July 1.)
I don’t know Smith, I never met him, and I have no idea how his case and the police investigation are going to shake out. But one thing is certain.
The educator’s situation should serve as a lesson to anyone in a similar predicament while under police investigation. Whatever you do, avoid raising unneeded attention to yourself, especially by being pulled over for alleged drunken driving.
Not only do you remind people who you are, but also what you allegedly did wrong.
Do the right thing
It’s common knowledge that it doesn’t take much to push people over the edge when the weather is crazy hot, as it will be for the next week at least.
But did you know there’s a name for such heated hostility?
“It is called heat aggravation,” says Jerry McKean, a Ball State University criminal justice professor. “When it gets hot, people tend to lose their tempers a little bit more quickly.”
He believes there is a direct correlation between the increase in violent acts and hot, oppressive weather.
According to FBI crime statistics, more crimes are reported in July and August, and people stay out later at parks, movies or shopping centers. Not to mention that teenagers are out of school and are more likely to be offenders or victims.
I’m reminded of the 1989 film, “Do the Right Thing,” by Spike Lee, one of my all-time favorite movies. On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, N.Y., everyone’s hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes.
So, as the temps here rise, and possibly our tempers, too, I’ll leave you with this classic line from the character, Mister Senor Love Daddy, played by Samuel L. Jackson: “Whoa. Y’all take a chill. You got to cool that (stuff) off. And that’s the double-truth, Ruth.”
For more on these issues, listen to Jerry’s “Casual Fridays” radio show today at noon on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming at www.thelakeshorefm.com.