The Great Norwalk Kindergarten Heist

The Tanya McDonald controversy

A homeless woman is facing 20 years in prison if she is convicted of stealing over $15,000 of Norwalk, Conn. taxpayer funds. The details of her crime are controversial: she lied about her residence to get her child into what she believed was a better school system, but one that, as non-resident, she was not entitled to use. The details also create a tangled mess of law, justice, ethics, fairness, compassion, public policy, finances, class and education.

Let’s try to unravel it, shall we? Continue reading

Illinois’s Death Penalty Ban: Defensible Decision, Indefensible Reasoning

Justice.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn  signed legislation abolishing capital punishment in the state and commuted the sentences of the 15 inmates still on death row to life in prison without parole.

I disagree with the decision, and have stated my reasons for not abolishing the death penalty here and here. Never mind: this is a topic on which ethical and reasonable people can disagree with honor. But if one is going to abolish an important law enforcement tool, the official justification for it ought to be coherent and persuasive, and not just facile rhetoric. That, unfortunately, is what Gov. Quinn gave us.

Here is the relevant segment of Quinn’s statement after signing the bill into law during a private ceremony: Continue reading

Chevron, Environmentalists, Hoaxes, and the Ethics of Dialogue

Chevron, the oil giant, rolled out a new ad campaign this week. It announced that Chevron agrees with critics and environmentally concerned Americans that it has critical responsibilities, such as reinvesting profits into socially responsible projects, seeking renewable energy sources, and taking extra steps to protect the environment. “We hear what people say about oil companies – that they should develop renewables, support communities, create jobs and protect the environment – and the fact is, we agree,” says Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron’s vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs, in the company’s press release. “This campaign demonstrates our values as a company and the greater value we provide in meeting the world’s demand for energy.  There is a lot of common ground on energy issues if we take the time to find it.” Continue reading

Al Gore’s Unethical New York Times Op-ed

I swear, this post has nothing to do with whether climate change is soon going to have the East Coast under water and the polar bears playing beach volleyball or not. The ethical  issues raised by Al Gore’s last volley in the global warming wars are journalistic integrity, public honesty, and respect for the intelligence of the American public. Continue reading