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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Riverview Gardens working to balance cost of transfers

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 03:44 Published in Local News

   The Riverview Gardens School District will offset some of the $15 million they're spending on the school transfer program with a series of budget cuts, but no layoffs so far.  

   District officials outlined the cuts Tuesday.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the district will save as much as $3 million by leaving teacher vacancies unfilled, slashing the professional development budget, modifying the busing contract and through other savings in technology and facilities costs.  

   Even with the budget cuts, the district will be more than $7 million in the red if transfer costs remain the same in the 2014-15 school year.

   Teachers in the Normandy District have been told they won't avoid layoffs as that district deals with transfer costs.   On Thursday, Superintendent Ty McNichols will present a staff reduction plan that could include a school closing.  Normandy officials say they will run $6.8 million short before the end of this school year.

   After the state Supreme Court upheld Missouri’s school transfer law, more than 2,000 students opted to transfer out of the unaccredited districts and attend better performing schools.  Under the law, their home districts must cover costs.

Schnucks bakery case goes before MO high court today

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 03:15 Published in Local News

   Are the cookies and loaves of bread baked inside a Schnucks Supermarket sold for immediate consumption in the same way as those sold at a restaurant or convenience store?  That's the question the Missouri Supreme Court will have to answer in a case that begins today. 

   Schnucks is asking the high court to allow the company to take advantage of a 2007 utility sales tax refund law.  The Department of Revenue says a bakery that creates goods "for sale directly to the public or through retailers" is eligible, but goods baked at a restaurant and sold for immediate consumption are not.  

   Last year, the court found two Casey's stores were not eligible for tax refunds on the energy used to bake donuts and pizza bites they sold in individual servings.  But Schnucks argues that it isn't the same thing since there's no evidence Schnucks bakeries are restaurants.  

 

Poland archbishop slammed over sex abuse comments

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 02:03 Published in National News

   WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The leader of Poland's Catholic Church has come under a wave of condemnation by appearing to suggest that children are partly to blame for being sexually abused by priests.

   Archbishop Jozef Michalik, head of Poland's influential Episcopate, was commenting this month on revelations about Polish pedophile priests. A child from a troubled family, Michalik told reporters, "seeks closeness with others and may get lost and may get the other person involved, too."

   The words triggered an immediate uproar — one that Michalik tried to stamp out the same day by apologizing and saying he had been misunderstood. He had not, he said, meant to suggest that child victims were in any way responsible.

   But the damage was done.

   Ordinary citizens joined prominent politicians in expressing outrage, and intense debate continues more than two weeks later. The media pointed out that Michalik had supported a parish priest convicted in 2004 of child sex abuse, and one of the priest's victims said she was horrified by Michalik's latest remarks.

   "Archbishop Michalik's words make us feel fear and revulsion," Ewa Orlowska said.

   The archbishop's comments forced the Episcopate's spokesman, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, to state that Poland's church has "zero tolerance" for pedophilia but that it needs to learn how to approach and talk about the matter. The controversy has since led bishops under Michalik to apologize for "priests who have harmed children."

   It all comes amid a tide of allegations that Poland's church is sweeping cases of sex abuse under the carpet, putting it at odds with Vatican efforts since 2001 to punish abusers. The scrutiny has also further undermined the church's status in Poland as a moral and political leader — cemented by Polish-born Pope John Paul II through his critical role in inspiring the fight against communism. The church's defenders say that priests are being singled out for condemnation when teachers and sports coaches have also been caught sexually abusing kids.

   John Paul himself came under criticism for a reluctance to heed accusations against priests. While the Vatican in 2001 ordered bishops to submit cases of alleged pedophilia to the Holy See's review, it was largely the initiative of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. After the church sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002 in the United States, Ratzinger pressed for faster ways to permanently remove abusers from the church.

   The crackdown against pedophile priests gained intensity once Ratzinger became Benedict XVI. In 2011, Benedict instructed bishops' conferences around the world to submit their own guidelines for keeping molesters out of the priesthood and to protect children.

   Poland's Episcopate has issued guidelines for the church's punishment of priests and support for the victims. But it sees no need to report priests to state investigators and says that the financial compensation rests with the wrongdoer, not with the church. That approach may soon be tested by a man who is readying Poland's first sex abuse lawsuit against the church.

   In several countries, including the U.S., Canada and Australia, the church has been paying millions in compensation over sex abuse cases.

   Michalik also recently raised eyebrows by saying that the roots of pedophilia lay in pornography and divorce, both of which are "painful and long-lasting wounds."

   The debate started last month after Dominican Republic investigators revealed child sex abuse allegations against two Polish clergymen: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador, and Rev. Wojciech Gil, a parish priest. Wesolowski has been forcibly removed by the Vatican. Gil has denied sex abuse and suggested that Dominican drug mafia is taking revenge on him for his educational work.

   Some 27 Polish priests have been tried for sex abuse since 2001, but most cases ended in suspended prison term — indicating a general leniency for the church in Poland, where religion is taught in schools and senior church officials attend state ceremonies.

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