Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
Our new policy is to make my column available early each Wednesday.
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
December 12 , 2007
So far, “Mr. Hawkins” (as Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren referred to him in a recent press conference) is the clear-cut winner in the sad affair of the shopping mall slaughter.
We learned - - too late - - that he was determined to end his troubled existence in a way that would make him a celebrity. Every additional news story filled with details of the killings, every additional picture of Hawkins, every additional television newscast devoted largely to the story, the detailed drawings that showed exactly the path he took inside the Von Maur department store, the color pictures of the young murderer with a semi-automatic weapon at his shoulder - - all in all, an avalanche of news media reaction which the killer could not have better scripted himself.
The story obviously demanded extensive media coverage of the killings. And the continuing coverage of the impact on families and the compassionate reaction of the community at large has been extensive and commendable if sometimes repetitive.
But who needed to see more than once the color picture of the killer with the murder weapon at his shoulder? (A notable exception in the media coverage: WOWT Channel 6, while giving understandably detailed coverage to the tragedy, declined to air the killer-in-action color picture or make it available on the station’s website.)
Now that the Hawkins-related stories have received saturation local coverage, and national and even international attention, how about more attention to such reactions as that of Omaha’s Mayor Mike Fahey? Fahey called Hawkins’ murder spree “an ugly act of cowardice.”
Isn’t it time to add to the sorrowful reaction some expressions of anger and some determination to push for state action to assure, to the extent reasonably possible, that potential killers like Hawkins are kept under supervision if not in confinement?
How about re-examining - - re-examining hard - - the circumstances under which state authorities released this potential murderer from further state supervision.
After four years as a state ward during which the state spent more than $265,000 trying to help Hawkins with psychiatric problems and addictions, Sarpy County Juvenile Court Judge Robert O’Neal ended state custody based on, in the words of the court order, “an unsuccessful completion of the conditions, and the child is non-amenable to further services of the court.”
In defending what the state had tried to do for Hawkins, the Children and Family Services Director for the State Department of Health and Human Services (confirm that), Todd Landry, said the decision was based on an agreement between HHS, the treatment provider, the therapist, the court and Hawkins’ father.
Incredibly, Landry said: “The most appropriate thing for this youth was the closure of the case.” What about the most appropriate thing for the eight people Hawkins killed and the four he wounded?
The decision to release Hawkins from state supervision was criticized by Dennis McCarville, director of Cooper Village, in whose custody Hawkins had been placed.
“The state could have ordered him to continue treatment,” McCarville said. “Instead, the state made the decision to terminate. Even for a youth who received over $265,000 worth of treatment, you can’t say, ‘Well, that’s enough.’”
In a front-page story in The New York Times - - which featured that “Hawkins-as-mass-killer” color photo of Hawkins with the assault rifle at his shoulder - - McCarville was quoted as saying the state failed “Mr. Hawkins.”
The much more relevant bloody truth, I would say, is that the state failed not “Mr. Hawkins” but failed in what should be its primary responsibility, protecting the public.
* * *
I can’t say that I’m sorry I couldn’t be in personal attendance, but it would have been interesting to hear the views recently brought to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus by Oliva Espin, described as a “cross-cultural psychologist and gender scholar.” Her lecture was entitled: “The Colors of the Kaleidoscope: Perils and Possibilities of Multiple Identities.”
An advance story said the cross-cultural psychologist and gender scholar would discuss the understanding of immigration and the intersections of gender, race and sexuality and class.
* * *
There’s an old saying which frequently applies when the subject is athletic performance: “Statistics are for losers.”
It’s true that the average fan is primarily interested in only one statistic when the subject is a team’s performance: Did the result add to the team’s W column or the L column? But other statistics are, of course, also of interest.
Join me in considering some new (to me at least) season statistics which I found of interest:
A fellow Nebraska Cornhusker fan asked me: “Where do you think Nebraska stood in the Sagarin measure of toughness of schedule this past season?”
(The Sagarin ratings are computer-based, rather than personal-opinion based.)
I expected that the Sagarin rankings would credit the Huskers with a higher degree of difficulty in their schedule than was believed by the fans who were calling for the firing of head coach Bill Callahan. So I guessed that the Sagarin ratings had the Huskers ranked as having one of the 20 toughest schedules.
The Huskers were ranked No. 3 in toughness of schedule. My friend said that of the several Nebraska fans he had asked, I was the only one who placed the Huskers’ schedule among the 20 toughest.
Why No. 3 in the ranking of toughest schedules? Consider that three of the Huskers’ opponents this year were teams that finished in the top 10 Sagarin season-record ratings: Kansas No. 3, Southern Cal No. 8 and Missouri No. 9.
What other teams were computer-ranked as among the top 10 in toughest schedules? Washington 1, UCLA 2, California 4, Arizona 5, Duke 6, Oregon 7, South Carolina 8, Florida 9, Stanford 10.
Among the top 10 ranked as having toughest schedules, the best season-long won-lost record, in the Sagarin computerized rankings, was UCLA, ranked 37th, with a 6-6 season record. The Huskers’ 5-7 record put them in 63rd place in the seasonal performance category, according to the Sagarin computer’s calculations. Iowa was rated 76th, Stanford 77th, Notre Dame 87th and Iowa State 93rd.
* * *
My executive assistant, Jackie Wrieth, believes I should include the following in any report for my preparations for hospitalization for rotator cuff surgery:
Loyal wife Marian to loyal assistant Jackie late the evening before I was scheduled for surgery: “Do you think he’ll be able to take his dictation machine with him into the operating room?”
Marian was, of course, referring to my determination to not let another period of hospitalization (it turned out to be three days) interfere with my 15-year record of never letting a stay in the hospital prevent me from offering a column for distribution. Last week marked the seventh time that - - by writing a column or columns in advance, sometimes finishing it on the eve of hospitalization - - I was able to keep my record intact.
And no, I didn’t have to take my dictating machine into the operating room (although I did call Jackie shortly before I was scheduled to go into the operating room and dictated some new material).
# # #