Category Archives: government

Homesick


huntington2As I mentioned in my previous post, I was born in Huntington, WV. I was raised right across the Ohio River, but spent most of my time in the Huntington area. Growing up, if you wanted something to do, you went to Huntington. I used to jokingly say that the only things I did in Ohio were go to school and sleep. Because of this experience growing up, I always had more of a connection to Huntington than I did to the smaller towns of Ohio. It’s because of this connection that I’m writing this post.

I miss Huntington. I have very fond memories of the land and the people. Some would say I’m homesick. As I have researched some issues for other posts, what I have realized is that in many ways, it’s my home that is sick – sick with the decaying rot of crime and poverty.

Let me clarify.

I currently live in the suburbs of Chicago. My current surroundings are definitely a far cry from Appalachia. People often ask me about the dangers of Chicago as the city is often in the news with stories of rampant crime and gang activity. What I have found to be quite disheartening is that Huntington actually has a higher crime rate than Chicago. According to Neighborhood Scout, Chicago’s crime rate is 43.71 per 1000 residents. Huntington, on the other hand, has a crime rate of 56.87 per 1000 residents. Not only is the crime rate in Huntington higher than Chicago’s, it’s higher than the national average – in every category of violent and property crimes.

These facts are truly disturbing to me. It makes me weep whenever I visit Huntington as I can feel an aura of darkness permeating throughout the city. More than anything, it’s not fear that I feel, but sadness. This is most definitely not the Huntington of my youth. My memories of growing up in the Huntington area are brighter when it comes to the land and the people. Because of this, I still believe in Huntington. I believe that things can improve, and I refuse to give up on this ideal.

There are many intersecting issues related to crime – from economic disadvantages, budgetary cuts to social programs, lacking of funding and awareness for mental health issues, education cuts, and the influx of the opioid crisis which has been driven by pharmaceutical companies flooding the market (see the CDC report on prescription rates and drug overdose rates). How can we fix it? I do know that it won’t be simple. We often hear of one-sided reactions to these problems as if they are the magical elixir of life. I have a hunch that such complex issues will not be resolved with simple solutions. My guess is that it will take a multifaceted approach that addresses all the correlations rather than “fixing” one symptom of the problem.

I don’t have all the answers. What I do have is a commitment to looking into these issues in other posts, along with addressing other social issues within the Huntington community. I feel like I owe it to myself and to the area to continue speaking out and keeping faith that one day, Huntington will be a place where people will feel safe in raising a family.

Agent of the State


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The media has saturated our lives with stories of a government official not issuing marriage licenses because of opposition to same sex relationships.

Now, normally I wouldn’t speak publicly about something which I find so malicious, ignorant, and unethical. As I’ve said on my Facebook page, I do not entertain a troll’s existence. I try to apply the same attitude to these types of situations – I do not want to contribute to providing a virulent person a broader public stage to espouse her/his vitriol. However, this lack of attention doesn’t mean that I’m not aware, that I’m not observing (and reading) all sides of an issue (yes, including even the most hateful of support).

I wanted to post on my blog because George Takei’s most recent op-ed on this issue impacted me on a quite unexpected level.  Surprisingly, I was reminded of my horrible boss at Amazon. As a former HR professional, I know that when a manager speaks in the performance of her/his job, what s/he says represents the company. If a manager says it, it’s as if the company is speaking. When my boss responded to my identifying myself as someone with a disability with “the business comes first,” she was walking a fine legal line. In the eyes of the law, because she was speaking in the performance of her job, she was speaking on behalf of Amazon. I say this was a fine legal line because she just made the statement – if she would have done something in support of this statement (behavior), she would have been breaking the law in the form of disability discrimination. I know all of this clearly because I sought counsel from a disability lawyer when these issues were happening. He interpreted the federal and state laws to me in great detail on this issue.

Now, how does this remind me of the marriage license situation? Agency. When my boss was speaking, she was speaking as an agent of the company. When this clerk speaks, within the role of her job, she is an agent of the government. In that capacity, what she says is what the government says. Privately, she can hold any belief she wants. Regardless, in the performance of her job she is representing the State. While “on duty” in the act of her government role, she not only expressed an opinion opposing the State’s stance (SCOTUS has already interpreted the marriage issue in relation to the Constitution), she also acted on those beliefs by not issuing marriage licenses (behavior = discrimination). THIS is how her actions were a breach of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment. Through her speech and actions in the performance of her government job, she (the State) was pronouncing a particular brand of Christianity as not only preferred, but State sanctioned (official approval of a religion).

For my degree, my minor studies were in Political Science. In discussing Constitutional Law, one statement has always stuck with me – “one person’s rights END where another person’s rights begin.” You’re Constitutional rights are not infinite; they do NOT extend to other people. You can believe whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that you can act to impose those beliefs on others because THAT would be a violation of others’ rights.

It’s a balance – the trade off for enjoying freedom is respecting the same right in all, even when those whose beliefs are polar opposites. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means…to all of us.