Abandoned baby; Penny 'non' prank

Behind The News
March 3, 2008 12:47:30 PM PST
Maybe because I always perceived myself and the knock on me, especially when I was younger was that I looked at things in cut-and-dry, black-and-white (non-racial) terms. But I sometimes think that real enlightenment is the ability to see things in shades of gray -- to see both sides, to see the complexities, to understand that life isn't always a question of right and wrong but of degrees. I was thinking of this as the abandoned baby story unfolds. A livery cab driver is in trouble for filing a false police report - you'll recall that last week he drove a baby to a firehouse, saying the father had abandoned the baby in the driver's back seat.

But it turns out that the driver knows the 27-year-old father. He's the brother of the driver's 21-year-old "companion" -- and the father couldn't take care of the kid after the 14-year-old mother walked away from her.

Complicated, right?

The driver left his own daughters years ago when he came here from Ecuador -- and he didn't want this young girl to have a life of poverty and hardship. So he did the right thing, except for the lying-to-cops part. And the man who should be in trouble is the father of the child -- first for abandoning the baby, and second for getting a 14-year-old pregnant. In fact, if I'm doing the math correctly, she was 13, and perhaps as young as 12, when she conceived.

The driver, Klever Sailema, maybe wasn't so clever, but it appears his heart was in the right place. Now he's speaking out. Hardly a cut-and-dry situation, and tonight at 11, we'll look at the gray areas, and the story.

Also at 11, remember the kids at Readington Middle School in Hunterdon County in New Jersey -- who used pennies to pay for their lunches last week? We said it was a prank when the 29 students paid for their $2 lunches with 32 pounds of pennies. They got in some trouble - two days of detention -- because it was a "sign of disrespect" to cafeteria personnel and fellow students.

But, the school has discovered that the penny prank was no prank at all; it was a protest against the 30-minute lunch period. They want a longer time.

Our story on Thursday mushroomed, to say the least. It became a national story. And today, the school has backed down.

In a letter to parents, the principal writes that, "The media has reported that the event was a protest. This perception was different from the way children initially characterized the event. If we had knowledge of a protest, we would have reinforced with the students the importance of not being disrespectful and would have begun discussions about the issue."

Today, the detentions were nullified. Discussions will now take the place of punishments. Good for the school.

We're also in Ohio and Texas tonight, on the eve of what we'll call a mini Super Tuesday. Tight races in both states, if we're to believe the polls, between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If Clinton doesn't score impressive victories in both states, there is much speculation that she might end her campaign. There are many who don't think the Senator from New York will walk away unless she's thoroughly defeated, which seems unlikely. So the more plausible scenario is a tight race in both Texas and Ohio, and the Democratic Party nomination still very much up in the air.

We'll see. Our political reporter Dave Evans is in Ohio, and Sandra Bookman, a Texas native, is in the Lone Star State for us tonight at 11.

We're also following the horrible saga of a man from Orange County who was walking his dog this weekend when he was shot in the eye with a BB gun fired by a group of kids passing by in a car. Now he's in a hospital in Manhattan, and we're told he's going to lose sight in that eye.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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