Poster Child for Recklessness

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At age 46, Queens resident Sheila Bethea is the new poster child for the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol or abusing illegal drugs.

Bethea admitted that after drinking alcohol, smoking crack and shooting up heroin, she climbed into her mother’s minivan and drove it into oncoming traffic at more than 30 mph. She crashed into a car killing Melissa Elh-Mirra, 5, and Katherine Willis, 15.

The accident caused by this driver has devastated two mothers, but we do not doubt Bethea never intended to harm anyone.

What she did do is smoke crack, shoot heroin and drink with the keys to her mother’s car in her pocket. She is not the only one who will live with this anguish forever. Under the circumstances, the court was merciful — to say the least.

Bethea, 46, was sentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison. That is a remarkably short period of time for such a reckless and devastating crime.

We can only hope that others will learn from her mistake.

Union Bashing at City Hall

The gloves came off last week in the fight to save 22 public schools, including Jamaica HS, put on the chopping block by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In the end, the battle says more about the mayor and his subordinates than about the schools.

The mayor blasted the United Federation of Teachers for going to court last week to block his plans to close the schools.

“If you think about it,” said Bloomberg in a New York Post piece, “we’re trying to close schools that are leaving our kids without an education, and they’re fighting to keep those schools open. I don’t know how irresponsible you can possibly be.”

Bloomberg and his administration should also understand that there is nothing to be gained by vilifying the UFT and a great deal to be lost. Neither the union nor the 140,000 teachers it represents want to see children fail. Nor do they want to see unqualified and unmotivated teachers kept on the city payroll.

If the Bloomberg administration could climb down from its high horse and deal respectfully with the UFT, it might find the teachers and their union are willing to work with City Hall to improve public education in New York City.

Updated 10:52 am, October 12, 2011
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