Vetoed Bill

Letters published March 29, 2001

Series 7: The Contenders
An insider's disdain for Denihan

I recently read Andrew Putz's article on Bill Denihan, Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) director, with great hopes of identifying what specific reforms and turnarounds have actually occurred at DCFS under his so-called leadership ["All His Children," February 15]. However, the article proved more a validation of Denihan being a career bureaucrat, capable of bouncing from one politically appointed job to another, than it did evidence of substantive reforms that truly benefit children and families.

Putz's article indicates that Denihan has increased everything from adoption placements and caseworkers to public parking spaces at his agency's headquarters. But the article also leaves a number of unanswered questions: Is Denihan giving blanket approval -- including approval to individuals such as those described in the article as having felony records -- to anyone and everyone, simply to increase his adoption record? Are the 239 newly hired caseworkers licensed, qualified, and experienced in social work, or simply more warm bodies with questionable qualifications and decision-making skills -- like many of the social workers already on the DCFS payroll? Do the county commissioners "need Denihan as much as he needs them" because he really is a "change agent" or because they cannot find anyone else qualified and experienced in social work management to lead the agency?

Ironically, Putz's article credited the beginning of many substantive changes to Judith Goodhand, the DCFS's former director and a career social-service professional who, although disliked by many, at least had some management experience in the position for which she was selected. And, as a youth-service professional who has extensive firsthand experience with the DCFS, I could easily fill twice the space taken by Putz's article with documented, questionable decisions and actions taken by the DCFS, including those under Denihan's tenure.

The above questions should leave readers asking whether they have read a premayoral campaign ad instead of a story about a social-service leader. Perhaps we have simply been the latest targets of Denihan's smoke-and-mirrors preparation for yet another career move.

Kenneth Trump

Derf points the pen at lowly white men

Would Scene reproduce The City cartoon published in the March 1 edition if "White Middle-Class Suburban Man" were replaced with "Black Inner-City Welfare Mom" or "Poor Brown Migrant Worker Boy?" Changing the racial, geographic, or economic group label of the character in the strip would not change the underlying "humorous" assumption: that "whatever group" cares more about television game shows than about acts of aggression by our government against foreign nations. However, it would be racist and prejudiced to assign this pejorative statement of cultural and political priorities to a disadvantaged group, based on its skin color or address. It is also racist and prejudicial when assigned to white, middle-class men who live in the suburbs.

Chris Taylor
Shaker Heights

A retiree takes his cybershots

Pete Kotz's article on The Beacon Journal ["Slouching Toward Mediocrity," March 8] was right on target, as far as I'm concerned as a retired Beacon Journal news editor. I have an unofficial retiree website in which I and others can get a dig or two in at The Beacon Journal, particularly its lack of local coverage. If it ain't a triple murder, a five-car fatal, or a crooked politician, they'll just fill the paper with state wire news.

Tom Moore

They're so greedy, they hire women

For years now, Beacon Journal subscribers have awakened almost daily to the equivalent of two-headed babies or sob stories above the fold. We endure "opinion" in these news stories and overheated prose from overrated local columnists. Consistent reporting and objective analysis of serious local and state issues is nonexistent.

Indeed, state politicians and statewide issues have long traveled under the cover of ignorance, for there never has been one good source of state news -- Ohio being more a confederation of regions than a true state. If you crave national or international news, go to The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, or The Washington Post.

The Beacon Journal is useful for the grocery ads, and that's about it. You knew the ship was sinking when women were named to conspicuous posts. They will work harder and more earnestly for less. Unfortunate, but true. And should The Beacon Journal become a true profit center and a black news hole (a blacker news hole than it already is), those women will be out of there faster than you can dot a semicolon.

M.H. Deal

Extra! Extra! Journalists are babies!

This is a sad situation, but newspaper journalists have always been dissatisfied with the ways in which their employers conduct business. Reporters don't really know much about how business is conducted, nor do they trust businessmen and -women in general. Something else reporters don't understand: who owns the paper. Not reporters. I obtain most of my information from Internet sites. I no longer read daily papers or watch TV news. Any reporter in Akron (or elsewhere) can start his or her own website and do things the way he or she sees fit. Surely readers will pay for this type of journalism, so the reporter can earn a decent living. Sure they will. Let Tony Ridder do his job, and let reporters do what they signed on to do: take orders from the boss.

Sam Lancaster
Denison, Texas

The James Gang was altogether there

I found your review of the James Gang show [Soundbites, March 1] to be very distasteful. I was offended by the slams you made on Joe Walsh, who is dearly loved by many fans all over the country and the world, not just in Cleveland. To suggest that he "wasn't altogether there" was simply untrue and very mean-spirited. I don't think you did a good job on that one. It was just plain nasty.

Kath Rourke
Manchester, Maryland

"Religious redemption" is a long leap

It is pleasing to see reviews of talent with local roots. The review of Charlie Weiner's CD Ghost in the Windows [Regional Beat, February 22] seems relatively fair, but left me with these comments and questions for Jeff Niesel regarding the following segments.

You wrote, "It's rustic, singer-songwriter stuff that only falters when Weiner tries to incorporate humor into his songs (the silly 'Smiling Dog Blues') or makes too many references to religious redemption ('Child of God')."

Humor is obviously subjective, and the impression we take away from a humorous song can be greatly affected by many factors, not the least of which is the listener's mood or emotional state at the time of the listening. So no real problem there. However, "religious redemption" in association with "Child of God"? Could we be listening to different versions of this CD? I don't get it, but at least with this tune, apparently neither did Mr. Niesel.

Ray Krause

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