Handy's dissent out of character, out of bounds

There is a time and a place for principled dissent, and we respect elected leaders who are not afraid to make one.

So we could have respected long-time Lewiston School Committee member Jim Handy's decision to vote against a majority of his colleagues Monday night.

But when he said a fellow committee member was ready to "hold hands with the devil" and that another is "willing to take money from anyone" Handy went beyond the bounds of propriety and reasoned argument.

Handy made the remarks as the School Committee was on the verge of approving a fundraising plan to pay for improvements to Franklin Pasture, the high school's athletic complex, partly by selling naming rights to the fields, concession building and even bricks on a wall.

The proposal passed 8-1 but Handy then stormed out of the meeting after complaining he had been cut off and could no longer participate in Board Chair Tom Shannon's "power structure."

Actually, Handy deserved to be cut off and Shannon probably spared him further embarrassment by doing so.

Instead of Handy being offended, board members, fundraising volunteers and local businesses should take exception to Handy's angry assertions.

The Lewiston Athletic Foundation Trustees, a group of local sports boosters, educators, city leaders and business people have volunteered to raise $3.8 million to improve the high school athletic fields without cost to taxpayers.

Bravo to their civic spirit.

Handy, however, had a different take on that Monday night, conflating this public purpose into something that "corporatizes and professionalizes high school sports," creating more pressure for teams to win to justify corporate investments.

Handy described a slippery slope that might one day result in a Hollywood Slots swim team or Oxford Casino track field. "They may not have a problem with Trojan Condoms," he said.

He expressed frustration that the School Committee would not have the final say in blocking anything it felt was inappropriate.

His position assumes that the committee raising the money will not share the School Committee's sensibilities and that any business would be foolish enough to donate a large sum of money to something that would bring it public approbation.

Beyond that, the reason the school district doesn't ultimately control this decision is that the facilities are owned by the City of Lewiston, meaning an inappropriate sponsorship ultimately could be rejected by the City Council.

The city, meanwhile, has agreed to follow existing school department guidelines concerning appropriate advertising for young people.

Tuesday, Lewiston's City Council approved the the fundraising plan with little debate.

Handy's concern, that students should not be "raised in a school where every inch of flat surface ends up being advertising, including space on public buildings sold to the highest bidder" is no doubt shared by all.

But we should always be wary of these slippery slope arguments. Just because the athletic complex might be named "Geiger" or "TD Bank" does not mean we must allow condom advertising in school restrooms.

After cooling off, Handy should apologize to fellow board members and for his "hold-hands-with-the-devil" crack to Sonia Taylor, who has devoted her adult life to bringing God's word to children in Lewiston's most impoverished neighborhoods.

That comment was particularly petty and disrespectful.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Mr. Handy must

Be a member of the Androscoggin Alliance Group also.

Richard Begin's picture

Handy vs Handy vs whom ever

I really do not hve a problem with Jim Handy or his so-called negative behavior, however the remark about the Trogan's would actually remend me that it was his Party who wanted so willing to distrubute condoms to students.

That Said Jim Handy was a Good legislator and when I worked at L L Bean he was a decent Guy. I agree with what he says.

Again our state is facing more serious problems than this one let's focus on getting bigger more important things resolved.
Anyone who is interestedf in reading stories about the Senate Campaign tht do not show up here should go to www.rollcall.com and Type inAngus King for Senate.

There is an excellent article written by Roll Call Reporter Josh Miller about the upcoming Senate Race.

Finally Scott Thistle of the Sun Journal.

Has been writting some great Articles recently about the Turnpike issue and well I am at it Three Cheers for Bob Stone current member of the MTA Board of directors Bob has been stepping up to the plate about the proposed Toll Hike, where was Lucien Gosseling when Lewiston Needed Him?

MARK GRAVE's picture

What happens if the public

What happens if the public money evaporates? Who ends up paying to maintain the facility? Can the city put in writing that it will not be the taxpayer? Questions that should be asked and answered.

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