Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | September 29, 2009

Head shakes on behalf of critical thinking, taxpayers

I’m writing this week’s column while waiting for a delayed plane to JFK airport that’s in all likelihood going to arrive too late to make my connection to San Jose, all of which explains my foul mood that makes me especially vulnerable to involuntary head shakes, eye rolls, and  two-syllable “puh-lease” utterances.

•••

Some reactions to Gilroy High School’s cheerleader skirt length hubbub are eliciting eye rolls. People who feign a faux-sophisticated “why are we wasting our time on this when we have so many other more important things to worry about” attitude make my eyes spin.

The controversy erupted when GHS Principal Marco Sanchez enforced dress code rules about skirt length. Some of the girls who were cited pointed out that the skirts that cheerleaders wear to school on game days are also too short.

First of all, good for those students. They’re showing signs of critical thinking, of questioning authority and of insisting that the rules be applied equally to everyone.

Those are all good things, and I applaud them.

Second, I agree with observers who point out that wrestlers don’t get to wear their singlets to class and swimmers don’t get to wear their Speedos to class — those athletic uniforms don’t meet school dress code either — so why should cheerleaders, who frequently make the case that they’re participating in a real sport, get to violate dress code?

Third, I don’t buy the argument that it’s a pain for cheerleaders to have to change during the day. Members of all other sports change from school clothes to athletic uniforms before their sporting events; why should cheerleaders be any different?

You can’t be a sport when it’s convenient, and not be a sport when it’s inconvenient, at least, not while being intellectually honest.

Finally, kudos to Principal Sanchez for enforcing the dress code. It’s worse than pointless to have rules that are unenforced. It breeds disrespect.

•••

I’m shaking my head at the re-appearance of a Morgan Hill scandal that I once described as one “in which no one at City Hall was having sex, but Morgan Hill taxpayers still got screwed.”

I’m referring to the 2004 scandal in which local attorney Bruce Tichinin hired a private investigator to try to determine if rumors of an affair between two high-ranking city employees were true.

After discovering the rather inept investigation (involving trying to set up the employees by ordering two cups of hot chocolate for them at an out-of-town conference), city council “passed a slap-on-the-wrist resolution condemning the detective work, finding it deplorable and meritless” and “threatened to report Tichinin to the state board, and asked him to step down from a city subcommittee,” according to reporter Natalie Everett.

Tichinin called this retaliation that violated his First Amendment rights and sued, but the lawsuit was dismissed and he appealed. An appeals court just ruled that he’s entitled to a trial, and the screwing of Morgan Hill taxpayers resumes. Litigation isn’t free or even cheap.

Now the city has three choices: Appeal to a higher court, proceed to trial, or settle with Tichinin. Dollar signs, lots of them, are attached to every option.

I don’t know who was right and who was wrong in the entire sad episode. I really don’t care.

But I do know that no matter where the blame belongs, one innocent victim exists in this case: the taxpayers of Morgan Hill. On behalf of all of us, I utter a tired, disgusted “Puh-lease.”

•••

Finally, I frequently shake my head at readers who try to pigeonhole me. When I wrote four weeks ago about my amazement about raises being given to Morgan Hill and Gilroy city employees amidst the current economic crisis, some readers lauded my conservatism. Some even “welcomed” me from the liberal side of the political spectrum.

When I wrote two weeks ago about how Americans have changed — and not for the better — after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I got the opposite reaction. Suddenly, I was a terrorist-sympathizing liberal.

Frequent readers know that I tend to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal with a strong libertarian streak. Above all, I don’t toe any ideology’s line. I don’t agree with something just because Barack Obama says it or disagree with something just because John Boehner says it.

If you can’t handle that, at least keep your labels — and your complete lack of critical thinking skills — to yourself.

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