Monday, September 1, 2014

Shameless In Pottstown

No ! I have no, or, to say, little shame. Less than a year until I'm 80, I've put in a lifetime of apprenticeship in this, my hometown, Pottstown. "Been there, done that" wouldn't be unreasonable for me to answer you, if you asked me about conditions found in our town.

If asked about the ongoing latest debacle, the patching up of outdated buildings we refer to as our elementary schools, makes me shudder each time an additional oversight surfaces, escalating the cost, raising our taxpayers' responsibilities for more and more taxes. 

The right to tax, remains today, the opportunity to impoverish. Pottstown has little to offer but a robust desire to tax for education disproportionate to the ability for residents to pay. Instead of an all out assault  on our legislature to change to a broad based tax for education, our school administrators and directors, complacent in their right to levy taxes, are like a shuttle cock knocked back and forth over the net as over runs and under designs assault them monthly. Directors' responsibility is projection, the distant view, it's not being a daily scorekeeper. 

In a shameless pronouncement : I was a proponent for the Elementary School Campus projected for the Washington Street revival area. This was a well designed, inclusive complex which took into account the total town, taxes included. Most school district are unlike Pottstown's. Here the boundary for the town is exactly the same boundary as it is for the district. Until that changes, both the borough and the district are one, and they are beholding to the same taxpayers, the property owners.

 School Directors and Borough Councilors have the same responsibility to improve the town. I believe, both directors and councilors should extend every effort to change the method of taxing for education from property taxation to a broad based income tax. One of their prime responsibilities is to maintain the financial vitality of the town. 

We have to finally forget forever the idea of "walkable  elementary schools". This concept, narrowly accepted, has been used too often to impede a unified vision of our town. An impoverished town, when sinking, needs a more comprehensive planning module to buoy it up and send it into the 21st Century. Stop being duped by the more vocal zealots among you, you the leaders. Someday you may be old enough to become shameless, too.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Neither Do I Like Questions Nor The Answers

I wonder, why in a World of unimaginable inventions do local civil defense units need war armament to protect their residents ? Does a desire to kill supersede the need to control public uprisings ? Isn't there more futuristic means for police to use, similar to stun guns and rubber bullets, that can overcome crowd predators, especially, in volatile situations ?

Are we as a society always going to extend the image of the Wild West far into the 21st Century before we understand bullets maim and kill ? There must be a less lethal way to respond to a crazed gunman, especially, in our futuristic society of invention. Would a better response help in the aftermath of a young man being shoot to death in Ferguson ? 

We got to be kidding, oops, another person killed or maimed teaching, as young as 8 year olds, to fire high powered armaments. Has our society gone over the abyss ? Does the NRA have that much of a strangle hold on our legislators ? Will there be a time when the young will be escorted down into our missile silos to feel the ultimate button, when if pushed, the end of civilization occurs in a nuclear Armageddon ? Craziness is among us ! Please wake up !

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Of This World

The World busses - Is Pottstown not of this World ? Seemingly not, for ages I've heard "Walkable Schools" touted by a recognizable named school board member. How much more damage to our district; therefore, to our town, will his influence be continued tolerated ? 

Ladies and gentlemen : winning a Pulitzer Prize Award is not the granting of almighty superiority, it does not elevate the recipient to Pope, nor does it bestow on the winner genius status. Why then, does everything he has to say, not questioned ?

Don't misconstrue what I'm saying ; winning a Pulitzer Prize is no small achievement. It requires a journalist to have the ability to write expressively while being doggedly persistent in collecting the facts. Further, he needed a cooperative vehicle to print the series which The Mercury provided. I question that the public sees in a Pulitzer more than it actually is.

Are you like me who sees a dysfunctional school system monitored by elected school directors who seem unresponsive to their electorates' needs and wants ? I do understand the dynamics of a democratic society that uses the ballot box to express concerns of the whole. Too often this system allows a vocal few, although a quorum of five in this case, to set agendas and direct the way the school district operates. 

An affected public must be an informed public if any change is to be realized. The ballot box is where the battle must be waged and, if my thoughts resonate with you, please marshall forces to change the direction that our school district is headed. Remember, it still comes down to a simple vote to rout out a problem.

Ronald C. Downie 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

America's Own "Ebola" Like Plague 

You are right ! A plague of our own, not as incendiary as Ebola is, in the world's view, ours is stealth like ; but Ebola is open, blatant, quick, and awfully deadly.

Ours is also deadly, in its own way, taking much of a  lifetime to achieve a person's death after depleting the person's livability for a carefree life. Many times it develops early in childhood lasting a shortened life span and for many of those years life is in some degree of discomfort. 

Yes, you are right; I'm talking about "Diabetes" as America's plague. I just came home from five days in the hospital where I saw the fallout of America's plague first hand. During my stay, I had two different roommates who both were hospitalized due to some complications attributed to diabetes, as was mine. 

I know little of Ebola except it is spread by cross contact with bodily fluids. It is deadly and quick. Diabetes, though, seems to be a disease brought on by excesses with contact not being one of them. Unless you count contact with poor food choices. Sugars of all types seem highly suspect and fats and carbohydrates. Couple a poor diet with lack of exercise and diabetes has a firm foothold on a person's health. Age reduces activity and often an increase in food intake, and you know, often an increase in alcohol consumption. 

Gran'Pa Downie always preached moderation even as he struggled during his waining years, then he died. I have now assumed his roll in preaching for moderation.Gran'Pa and my mom and dad all died in their 60's while, with diabetes, I'm turning 80 soon. I don't really know if diabetes can be reversed but it can be moderated to an excepted level if life styles of the afflicted are undertaken. Our plague will continue to fester until each of us accept the challenge to control our excesses ourselves. Are you willing to try ? Learn more about our American Plague from literature already written about it.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fox and the Hen House

Who the hell is watching the hen house ? I read about delays after reading about overruns in construction costs and wonder. Are our leaders also Foxes, who will gain something personal by not finishing elementary school overhauls on time ? Someone is not watching out for my tax monies nor for yours. The fox is watching the hen house !

The tragedy is now more than ever obvious; that is, a Washington Street Elementary Campus should have been built and occupied these many years. The opponents should have been vilified by denouncing their antiquated reasons for retaining scattered school sites. Sure, it is easy for me to say, "I told you so". But I did !

The ability to tax is the freedom to impoverish. Again, the ability to tax is the freedom to impoverish. 

Pottstown is but a shell of its old self. Once it was an engine of industry spitting out tax dollars for whatever the need, then industry left and tax dollars dried up. Along with it, a once robust school system prevailed which has slowly deteriorated into a questionable system that seems unable to govern itself. A school district's ability to shine in the eyes of potential young upwardly mobile families looking to settle by purchasing a home there is the catalyst for regenerative town. Does our district shine ? Less so now than ever, is my answer. Why not ?

Ronald C. Downie, 
Alumni Honor Roll Recipient

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PMMC, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center

I wish to compliment Pottstown's largest employer, 
( PMMC ) for a very good experience that I was afforded last week when I spent five days there getting medical treatment. Monday morning, never thinking I'd end up in the hospital, I was advised by a medical person to go to the emergency room ( ER ) since my visual signs were needing immediate attention : excessive swelling, inflammation migrating, infection on the move.

The ER was not too busy, even by their own standers, and my few hours there went by quite smoothly. They do move, seemingly multi tasking all the while, especially the lead  nurse, who, I asked if she was ever caught in a hurricane or a tornado ? Startled, she replied, no ! Where by, I told her, she must have been since she still has a whirlwind stuck in her as she whizzes through her duties. With these parting words up to the fifth floor of the hospital I was spirited.

To room 501, bed 2 with bed 1 empty, I arrived here on a gurney at about 1:30 PM. Squared away fairly quickly, I adapted well to my quarters, all except the hospital bed which took getting used to. With my size and weight it's hard to maneuver efficiently on the mattress while keeping all the cords and hoses freely working. 

A hospital is known by its sounds, things you hear but do not see, but you do imagine what or who is making the sound. Like : moaning or crying out in pain, or squeaking wheels on certain carts, or sounds of certain voices, finally, there's the footsteps up and down the hallway at all times of day or night and the infernal beeping when machines malfunction and keep beeping until someone attends to it.

But, it's the human professional care, the medical expertise that I want to compliment. It's all the people on the Fifth Floor I came in contact with who need to be honored for both their efforts and expertise. Many persons who I came in contact with floated between floors. I respected their care; notably, the respiratory crew, especially Heather and Joe, all of them. Same goes to nurses who gather blood samples every hour day and night as ordered.  Even though they interrupt sleep, they are efficient doing it, smoothly. 

The thrust of my compliments I save for the nursing crews which operate 24/7 on the 5th floor. I'm sure their leader is as exceptional as they are. Even though their names are always visible written on a calk board hanging on the wall, I can only name a few by memory. 
There was Special K, a nickname I gave her because of her dogged determination to find a vein suitable to hook up an IV to it. So memorable were nurses and helpers, the housekeeping staff, everyone. 

Over the years our local hospital has taken harsh and unwarranted criticism so today I want to set the record straight. In so many very personal ways caring for people is difficult and intrusive. Knowing this and, by a keep caring attitude, professionals, all in all, are truly a responsible team, whom I applaud.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Home At Last

My five day stay at the hospital came to an end today when I was released from PMMC at 12 o'clock noon. In proportion to humanity's vast needs, my little problem seems so minuscule compared to those whom I saw in the hospital setting last week. My thumb infection that caused so much swelling to my hand began migrating infection up my arm and is still in the process of receding as I write this. The main reason for my hospitalization was to enable doctors to treat my infection with fluids designed to kill infections through my blood. The hospital is the sterile setting where professional care givers on staff are experienced in their art of inter vinous applications. My homecoming was allowed because oral pills are now thought able to continue the infection killing job at home away from the hospital. 

Home at last, home at last, thank God Almighty, I'm home at last ! Thank You ! Everyone of you, who thought of me during my latest sojourn.

Ronald C. Downie