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Being a good neighbor
sometimes isn't the best way to go

    The Clarksburg Police Department announced Monday that it will be cracking down on people who have not paid their city citations. Clarksburg Police Chief Raymond Mazza said too many people have taken advantage of the department's leniency, and now the police are cracking down. "They have to pay the price," he said. "We're going to make sure that the penalty is issued through the DMV. We're out to make sure these people obey the law."
    We believe the city should crack down on those who break the laws and then don't pay up. But we also wonder what took them so long to crack down. Leniency isn't an efficient way to be running a city department.
    According to the chief, any person who receives any city citation other than a parking violation has five working days to appear in municipal court. After that time, the department will forward the citation and a letter to the state Division of Motor Vehicles, asking the agency to suspend the person's license. "This is something we've always done. he said. "We've been letting it go, trying to be good neighbors, but people just run over you."
    No kidding. Perhaps if the police department had been collecting on the city's citations all along, it wouldn't be in the dire straits it's in now. Perhaps it could afford a new vehicle once in a while or other equipment.
    Clarksburg and other cities must develop an efficient way of collecting for citations and making sure they are collected. That money, however small or large it might be, can go into the coffers for the things that departments need.
    Sometimes, especially in law enforcement, cities must realize they can't be everyone's 'neighbor.' Sometimes they have to be their police force.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



CBS-TV owes all West Virginians  an apology

    On Tuesday, Feb. 16, CBS-TV aired an hour-long episode of J.A.G. on prime-time television which did a major disservice to all West Virginians. The episode stereotyped residents of a fictional place called Appalachia County, West Virginia, as antigovernment, racist, gun-toting hillbillies. We were appalled and you should be too.
    The plot involved a Navy Seal team on a training mission in the mountains of West Virginia. Unfortunately the Seal unit came upon two local youths who evidently opened fire on the seal team due to their antigovernment upbringing. The squad leader returned fire with an automatic weapon, killing a 14-year-old youth.
    The squad leader was taken into custody by a group of locals and court was held in a barn. The courtroom was filled with gun-toting hillbillies dressed in flannel shirts and blue jeans. The parking area in front of the barn was filled with old dilapidated pickup trucks. The judge was stereotyped in a similar manner and acted with total disregard for the law or proper legal procedure. When the black Navy seal defendant spoke out in his own defense, he was gagged at gunpoint.
    The jury, without deliberation, found the defendant guilty and the judge ordered him hanged before supper.
An FBI S.W.A.T. team moved in on the courtroom and rescued the defendant and the J.A.G. team from the barn. The defendant was then proven innocent since it was discovered that the victim was shot in the back by his older cousin. The show ended with rolling captions on each key character giving the impression that this episode was based on a true story.
I    n summary, this episode of J.A.G. totally misrepresented our state, our people, our culture and our system of justice. CBS-TV and the producers of J.A.G. certainly owe every West Virginian a prime-time apology on national television.
    Mike Smith, general manager of the local CBS affiliate WDTV-5, was also disappointed with the negative stereotype that the show portrayed of our state. He explained that TV-5 does not have preview rights to network programming. He suggested that we direct comments and complaints directly to the network at: CBS Audience Services, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10019. You can also call at 212-975-3247.
    As for the rest of the nation, it's time to stop stereotyping West Virginians as uneducated hillbillies in bare feet. Certainly we are proud of our heritage, proud of our culture, proud of our state's natural beauty and proud of our contributions to modern society. It is a form of discrimination similar to bigotry against blacks, prejudice against Jews and defamation of native American Indians. Our society no longer condones such behavior and it's time that we put a stop to the 'hillbilly image' that others place on us. West Virginians deserve better.

Andy Kniceley
Telegram Editorial Board member



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Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302 USA
Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999