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Monday, January 10, 2011

Cleveland: The Land of Second Chances, For Some

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 11:51 AM

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Throughout the seemingly never-ending tale of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice, the refrain from the public was clear: give the guy a second chance. Even as his lengthy rap sheet emerged, even as details of his many kids and grandkids came to light, Williams wasn't short on defenders. This is the land of forgiveness and second chances, a place for redemption, and he deserved an opportunity to do right.

Yes, we all might be a little sick of Williams by now, and yes, it's well and good what happened to Williams but we really need more effort, focus, and energy in tackling the larger plague of homelessness in the country, but for the most part, no one begrudged Williams' luck or opportunities.

The Plain Dealer's Philip Morris wrote that Williams' story is one we can all love, one richly deep in both sentimentality and pragmatic lessons.

William's rags-to-riches story is being called one of redemption. But that's putting the cart slightly ahead of the horse. He is just in Act I of his redemption and, as of Thursday afternoon, was still homeless.

But perhaps the redemption and money will come as quickly as his new-found celebrity. He was signed to do voice over ads for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Thursday. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have also reached out to him with an offer of some sort of announcing employment, which would allow him to return to Cleveland, a town where he once worked as an announcer.

But the real wealth and meaning of William's amazing journey will ultimately be found in his willingness to become a voice for the voiceless, the homeless, the addicts and those who struggle to rediscover their own God-given talents — their lives. That would be extraordinary public service for this man with the golden voice.

Yeah, call it cheap sentimentality. But Ted Williams, I think we're going to love you.

Second chances, you see.

Which brings us to the Plain Dealer's most recent article on the Cuyahoga County boards of revision. It turns out Steven Majors, one of the finalists for a position, has a criminal history that "officials failed to uncover as they screened candidates for the powerful panels that hear taxpayers' challenges to property values."

The wounds from decades of corruption and incompetence still fresh in the memory of voters, the clammer for transparency still strong, the PD still reeling in cash and notoriety for its extensive coverage of the corruption scandal and problems at the boards of revision, it's no wonder the paper continues its all-hands-on-deck investigations and coverage. Interest in county politics is at an all-time high and the public's willingness to tolerate even the slightest fault in public officials at an all-time low.

So what is in Majors' sordid past? Cronyism? Corruption? Bribes? Assault?

No. Majors was called out for two DUIs and a couple of disorderly conduct charges.

Should we hold public officials to a higher standard? Surely. Is drunk driving absolutely wrong? Yep. But what about those second chances, people? Majors has said he's a recovering alcoholic and is currently in treatment. "Do I have regrets about what happened in the past? Absolutely, 100 percent," he told the paper. Nowhere is his ability to do the job questioned, but Majors is getting crucified in the comment section of the article.

We don't know if he's qualified for the position. We don't know how far through the interview process he would have made it. And while it's certainly news that the interview team hadn't asked and didn't know about Majors' past, the cognitive dissonance of those who leave comments like "Just say no to Majors. Obviously, he is what the voters of Cuyahoga County voted to reform" and then wander over to the PD's story about Ted Williams and extol the wonderful virtues of the second chances he has been given is striking to say the least.

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