Archives for March 2011

Liability of volunteer coaches

Many of us, down through the years have served as volunteer coaches for sports teams, often with only rudimentary knowledge of the sport – such as rugby, soccer or cheerleading – perhaps because we were signed up by a spouse or because we were asked by our children or another equally ignorant parent. Michigan’s Supreme Court has recently ruled that in the event of an injury to a child – participant – a coach may be held liable for damages to the child if, as a coach, he was simply “negligent.”  The negligent standard is whether he or she acted as a person with ordinary knowledge would have done under the circumstances. With that low a standard, the potential for substantial liability – for which insurance may not be available – should be of great concern for each of us ready volunteers. We suggest that a careful review of the potential for liability is called for before agreeing to accept responsibility for the safety of the children of others.

Don’t be fooled by the Truth of the Internet

Today I received a message from an unnamed source claiming that an extensive – and expensive – correctional facility, with several photos, had been built in Chicago as the Cook County Correctional Center that looked more like a country club than a prison, with the following Question:
“Who was the US Senator who helped arrange the funds to build this beautiful “punishment center”???
Oh yes, it was Obama!!!
No wonder he sees nothing wrong with the wasted spending in his “Stimulus Plan”.
This is where he plans on putting the terrorists from Gitmo,
and we have Americans living in cardboard boxes on the streets that have never killed anyone. Nothing makes sense anymore.”

I was initially outraged by the information – but on further investigation it appears that the several photos, while authentic, do not depict the Cook County Correctional Center in Chicago, despite what is claimed in forwarded emails. The facility is the Justice and Detention Center in Leoben, Austria, designed by renowned architect Josef Hohensinn.
Reportedly, the Center was completed in 2005 and houses the District Court and public prosecutor’s office as well as a prison designed “to optimize the quality of residence for employees and inmates.” Prisoners are housed in groups of up to 15 (to a total capacity of 205) and can move freely between their compact but well-appointed cells and communal spaces, which include exercise rooms, sports facilities, and outdoor courtyards. Needless to say, the thinking behind the institution represents a bold, new — and not uncontroversial — concept in prison design.

No such facility exists in Chicago, Illinois, and the statements that it was built with funds appropriated by Senator Barack Obama was clearly false, and a blatant political smear.

While it is appropriate to engage in reasonable discourse about the pro and cons of President Obama, and I, for one, have may questions and concerns, to put out such smears not only is inexcusable, but it tends to place in question all legitimate factual criticism.  One should not have top undertake individual research on every thing that his “enemies” or legitimate “critics” may say about him, or any issue of concern to us as citizens.   It is not easy for each of us to separate the legitimate critics from “enemies” who generate and disseminate the big lies.

The story put me in mind of a quote attributed to Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, ” The bigger the lie, the more they believe it!”  While perhaps true, I hope the readers of our Blog are smarter than that and welcome any comments.