Wednesday, January 27, 2016


            Virginia’s fiscal priorities are at best askew with the needs of the average person; at worst they are a demonstration of incompetence and irresponsibility. The state’s spending is so badly off the mark that it makes Washington, D.C. look like a paragon of virtue in dealing with the needs of the citizens of this country.

            Take a look at the facts. By law, an adjunct professor at a state university can be paid no more than $2,550.00 per undergraduate class. If an adjunct teaches three classes a semester twice a year, that is $7,650.00 per semester or $15,300.00 per academic year. If he or she is lucky enough to get a course for the summer, add another $2,550.00. So, we are now at a grand total of $17,850.00. Who can live on that?

            Virginia has been the site of two school shootings: Appalachian School of Law, January 16, 2002, three dead and three wounded; Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007, 32 dead and 17 wounded.

            Nearly everyone agrees that more needs to be done in tackling mental health problems as part of ending carnage on our campuses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the pay for the average person in “Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse” is $37,030.00.

            Take a look at some salaries at Virginia Tech, the site of this country’s worst mass school shooting: The Head Football Coach makes $3.2 million dollars a year, the Associate Head Coach makes $925,000.00; the Offensive Coordinator makes $450,000.00, the Special Teams/Tight Ends Coach makes $408,000.00, and the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach makes $308,000.00. In addition four more members of the football coaching staff make $260,000.00 each a year and a fifth makes $200,000.00.

            Most galling of all is then-President of Virginia Tech Charles Steger, the man whose inaction played a roll in the slaughter of 32 people and wounding of 17 others at Norris Hall, made $836,886.00 the year he retired.

            Another upsetting fact, under Virginia law, the families of those killed at Virginia Tech could get no more than $100,000.00, despite the fact that gross negligence was involved.

            What are you thinking Virginia House of Delegates? Why would you cap wages so that people are paid below the poverty level? What kind of people are we sending to the State Legislature?

Saturday, January 23, 2016


            A 13-year-old boy shot and killed four people yesterday in La Roche, Saskatchewan, Canada. The young man apparently began his rampage at home; killing his two siblings and then went to his high school where he killed a teacher and a female student. The shooting is apparently one of Canada’s worst.

            The boy’s name has not been released, but a fellow student expressed dismay because the shooter was a “quiet person who always seemed so happy.”

Once again, based on fragmentary evidence, it appears that mental illness played a role in the shooter’s actions. According to news reports, the shooter posted his intentions on Facebook before murdering his two brothers and then going on to the school.

One of the questions yet to be answered is, were there other warning signs?


Virginia’s privatized mental health care system is a shambles and may be riddled with corruption and incompetence.
            State Senator Creigh Deeds is absolutely right to file a $6 million wrongful death suit against the state of Virginia, a mental health evaluator, and an agency that did not find a hospital bed for his mentally ill son. That son, denied a bed when some were available, ended up repeatedly stabbing his father and then killing himself.
            The sad truth is when young Austin Deeds was having a psychotic incident and needed hospitalization; the Deeds family was told there were no beds available. Beds were available; the young man could have been evaluated and treated. The person checking on bed-availability didn’t have the correct phone number. This is incompetence at its worst—it cost a life and brought agony to a family trying to get help for their seriously ill son.
            Governor McAuliffe, since the Deeds tragedy, has signed a law that allows more time to find beds for psychiatric patients. The law also compels the state to maintain a “real-time” online registry of available beds. If you are dealing with people who cannot even get the phone numbers correct, how can you expect them to operate and maintain a “real-time” online registry of available beds.  The actions of the state legislature and the Governor are too little, too late for the Deeds family.
            The closing of state-run mental health facilities is coming home to roost; it certainly did for the Deeds family. It is hard to believe that a state facility could do a poorer job than did the Rockbridge Community Services Board in dispatching Michael Gentry to evaluate young Deeds.
            The fact is that the Virginia legislature repeatedly cut mental health funding; it has closed hospitals, and turned the mental health program over to incompetents who cannot even get a phone number straight.
            The Virginia General Assembly should be ashamed of itself for tightening the budget at the expense of one of the most vulnerable segments of society—the mentally ill.

Monday, January 11, 2016


            Just when you think you have heard it all, someone comes along demonstrates the depths to which human depravity can go.  In this case it is Professor James Tracy of Florida Atlantic University who proved to be a lower life form than a one-celled amoeba.
            Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has fired Professor Tracy, who used to teach in FAU’s School of Communications. Tracy was fired for his writings questioning whether or not the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings took place, and for harassing one of the victims’ families.
            Specifically, he sent Lenny and Veronique Pozner, whose 6-year-old son was among the 20 children massacred, a certified letter insisting on proof their boy ever lived. The Pozner’s had demanded that Tracy take down a picture of their son he had on his Web site.
            Tracy is the author of Nobody Died at Sandy Hook. And, he is a self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist nut job, who has questioned the Boston Marathon bombing.
            The university’s letter to Tracy telling him he was fired did not cite Sandy Hook. Instead, Vice Provost Diane Alperin said he had repeatedly broken university rules by not disclosing outside work. Specifically, the school noted his blog, which had caused a “conflict of interest,” and his use of school resources for his outside work.

            Good riddance—I hope he finds the psychiatric care he needs.