Madison County Opinion...

 August 30, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
August 30, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Shoplifters are absurd
It never ceases to fascinate me the absurd things people will do.
Shoplifters are among the most absurd.
Recently, I discovered the most absurd act of a shoplifter I have ever encountered. Someone went into a local supermarket and stole a video tape of the Life of Jesus! When I showed the empty package to several people, they responded by saying, "Well, whoever it was certainly needs to watch it."
Why do people steal? And when they steal, why do they take things of little value? The average thing stolen by shoplifters is worth five dollars or less. They steal ball-point pens, various kinds of over-the-counter medications, small toys and similar items. They take these items out of the packaging in which they are displayed, and slip them into pockets, wallets or under their shirts.
No less absurd are the merchandise litterers. People pick up items from the shelves, carry them around the store, change their minds and toss them on the nearest shelf. In most cases, the only loss is the time to store employees who have to find these items and return them to the proper display.
Others pick up items from the freezer or meat counters and leave them lying about. when this happens, the product is lost. When a pack of bologna is found on a shelf, it cannot be returned to the cooler. No one knows how long it was unrefrigerated. To return it would put any buyer at risk.
Guess who pays for these losses? It is not the store. In order to remain in business, a store must charge enough to cover all expenses and generate a small profit. Every retail store has an accounting item called "shrinkage," to cover all forms of loss of merchandise. Shrinkage covers damaged goods, items that go out of date, and losses to shoplifters. The price of every item in the store is increased enough to cover the cost of "shrinkage." The result is that you, the paying customers, are the ones who pay for stolen merchandise!
Now, back to the person who stole "Jesus." This person has no respect for themselves or anyone else. He/she has no reluctance about taking money out of your pocket. He/she obviously has no sense of right or wrong. He/she has no consideration for the teachings of Jesus. Clearly, he/she has never read the Ten Commandments.
This casual theft of store items is indicative of the general degradation of our society. Our movies, music and TV glory misbehavior. Children are not taught to respect private property. They are not taught to work for the things they want. They simply are no longer being taught to be honest and dependable.
Proof of just how bad this problem has become was made clear to me when I found that someone had stolen Jesus.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
August 30, 2000

From the Editor's Desk

Openness is key to confidence in schools
The resignation of Dennis Moore as superintendent of Madison County schools has set off a firestorm in Rumorville.
Whether or not there is any cause for alarm, the sudden departure accompanied by vague reasons left many feeling something is wrong in the county school system.
The most unsettling speculation has been that Dr. Moore left because the county school system is in dire straits financially.
While county school board members - with the exception of Elaine Belfield - say they're confident that the system is in good fiscal shape based on the information they've received from Dr. Moore, the word from interim superintendent Allen McCannon is that more study of the system's finances is needed before he can proclaim "all's well" or "we're in a fix."
This is a forthright assessment by Mr. McCannon. He's stepping in to a big job and he's not willing to make broad statements that may or may not be true for the sake of keeping people happy. People should respect that.
McCannon was authorized by the school board Tuesday to conduct an outside audit of school finances for July and August. This is a good move. Madison County school leaders might also want to consider one or two public hearings about school finances to speak with anyone who may have concerns. Likewise, letters to newspapers with their assessments of how the system is functioning, spelling out in plain English the financial state of the schools, would not be a bad idea.
This past week was a prime example of what happens when a public figure provides less than the full story. Certainly, anyone can understand someone saying "enough is enough" with a job. But people have wondered why Moore is really leaving and why so quickly?
Most will agree that when a school leader leaves on the fourth day of school amid a heated issue, giving less than a two-week notice, he should be frank about why. Saying you have a business venture, but refusing to name what it is, raises eyebrows.
Dr. Moore entered this school system with big plans. He led an effort to improve school facilities and to strengthen community involvement in the school system. His Partners in Education program has brought kids and the business community closer together.
While assessing his management of money may involve more investigation, the superintendent was not bashful about addressing some longstanding facility needs. And plans for a sports complex show that the board has tried to think big under Moore.
Now some question whether they've bitten off more than they can chew.
School leaders have a responsibility to be forthright with the public - we expect the truth, even if it hurts those giving it or receiving it.
If we feel shortchanged in this regard, our imaginations fill in the answers. This has certainly been the case this past week as some have drawn wild conclusions and passed them off as the real story.
Hopefully, leaders will see that truth is the best way to take the fire from Rumorville.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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