– Monroe County has a new airport director. Mike Giardino is a retired Navy commander who ran a naval air base in Florida. He is a career aviator with Rochester roots. In making the pick, County Executive Maggie Brooks went outside her political circle and got someone with experience, as her critics urged. Giardino says he’s a Republican, but Brooks said no one asked him his affiliation and they had never associated.
The previous two airport directors resigned in disgrace, one for spending tax dollars on cigars and strippers, the other for driving her county car drunk. Both had been county insiders without aviation experience.
– A former Monroe County prosecutor sent me a manifesto on Free Range parents colliding with the criminal justice system. The 60-page research paper by David Pimentel asks whether our culture of overparenting has led to inappropriate criminal charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
He cites cases exactly the one we saw this week in Rochester of a dad charged for leaving his child in a running car that ended up being stolen. (Pages 28-29)
Pimentel says media has created such a profound fear of stranger danger, the public has a distorted view of risks of leaving children unsupervised. The standard of “reasonableness” is no longer reasonable. Police, prosecutors and juries have little faith in parents’ abilities to make proper assessments. Parents of certain cultures and socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to be swept up in criminal prosecutions.
According to the statistics cited by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, only about one in 1.5 million children will be abducted this year. In an effort to put these odds in perspective, one commentator has observed that statistically, someone who wanted a child to be abducted would have to leave the child outside, unattended, for 500,000 years before he could expect it to happen.
…the media has sensationalized risk to children to such a degree that the view of a “member of the populace” is unlikely to reflect actual dangers or risks. The gut reaction of people on the street is inherently unreliable in today’s media-saturated society. The Ohio courts have also reversed convictions of parents who left their children in the care of young care-givers, one case involving a 4-year-old entrusted to 13- and 12-year-old babysitters, and another case involving an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old left in the care of their 11- and 9-year-old older siblings. While these last three convictions were ultimately reversed, that does not change the fact that the parents were charged, tried, and convicted of neglect or endangerment in all these cases. That alone sends a very strong message to parents that their parenting decisions will be second-guessed by others, with nothing less than criminal punishment and a criminal record at stake.
– Speaking of risks, here’s another piece of heavy reading. My colleague, Evan Dawson, combs through studies on whether it’s safe to drink during pregnancy. He found light drinking really doesn’t cause any harm! But the media doesn’t tell you that.
– Rochester has a parking problem – too much of it! Rochester Subway has an illuminating map.
– Since 1971, Xerox has been loaning out workers to charities. A dozen employees a year can take sabbaticals at full pay!