Deadbeat schmoe

Boy, you go away on vacation for a couple of weeks and things, including your reputation, just start falling apart. For instance, I get back and learn from an email that the editor of the Grass Valley Union has called me a “poor schmoe” in his paper because I drove from Chico to his fair town just to cover a speech by Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. The editor was complaining that the members of the press who agreed to sit on a press panel got to ask only one question of the candidate. In reality, I asked the former mayor of Cleveland two questions: What the heck happened to the (baseball) Indians? And what does the candidate think of President Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative? Kucinich, in his answers, bemoaned the loss of both Rocky Colavito (first question) and respect for our environment through the feasting by private industry on our dwindling natural resources (second question). Personally, I don’t regret driving 75 miles to see Kucinich. I kind of like the guy, and it’s not just the Cleveland connection. Plus, I heard a good, old-fashioned populist speech and got to spend some time in the foothills. I may be poor, but I’m also an easily pleased schmoe.

And then, the day after I get back from vacation, I’m standing in the front office here on a Sunday when the fax machine hums to life and issues a message from a Chris Howard that begins, “You’re that smarmy Editor that decent people refuse to be interviewed by because of the nasty lies you make up about them to add spice to your column.” Howard (don’t know if Chris is a man or woman) then said, “You regale us with your good dad stories but I see you are a pernicious deadbeat dad” who “made your six-year-old son sue you to establish paternity and Butte County sue you for child support.” Howard finishes his or her missive with the observation: “If some Republican did what you have done, you would mention it every time that you print their name.” To back up his or her claim, Howard also faxes a legal document from a few years back that is basically a court order that made sure I continued to provide my son with health insurance after my divorce. How Howard distilled from this rather pedestrian form that I’d been sued by my (then) 6-year-old son as well as Butte County is beyond me. I try to find Howard’s phone number so I can explain this to him or her, but there is no listing in the book. So I offer the explanation via my column, of which, I’m pleased to add, Howard is obviously a faithful reader.

This flap in our state Assembly over Father’s Day is pretty silly. If the Legislature cannot agree on the definition of fatherhood, what are the chances of coming to common ground on the economy? There are no innocents in this case. Liberal and openly lesbian Democrat Christine Kehoe offered the resolution, which included “single fathers, foster fathers, adoptive fathers, stepfathers, families headed by two fathers, grandfathers raising grandchildren, fathers in blended households and non-traditional fathers.” With the wording of this resolution the liberals were obviously trying to get a rise out of the conservatives. They poked at the hornets’ nest with a long stick to get the conservatives buzzing. And boy did they get a buzz. Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa fairly fumed in a press release, “These liberals can’t leave anything alone.” He said the resolution was “disrespectful to fathers everywhere and a disingenuous act to honor them.” LaMalfa sees the honoring of gay fathers here, as Kehoe intended, and just can’t tolerate that. Why? He says the resolution is another attempt to destroy the “traditional family unit.” Well if we’re talking traditional, maybe should we include absentee dad, abusive dad, drunken dad and deadbeat dad (see above). One day our society, even the most conservative among us, will look back and see how wrongheaded we were on the homosexual issue, just like we were on race relations up until a few decades ago. I mean, look what’s happening in Canada.