Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Addenda on abuse, peanuts




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        Marty is back, and he is disgusted with me. As usual.

        “You blabbed on and on about that baby without once getting to the point,” he growled into my voice mail. Although I have not heard from him in weeks, Marty doesn't bother with his name anymore. “It's me,” he says.

        He has never bothered with last names. Or, for that matter, a phone number. Just unvarnished opinions, generally beginning with, “You are stupid, stupid, stupid.”

        This time, he was incensed (that means seriously ticked off, Marty) because I did not demand that “the animals who killed that baby” be charged with murder. This was in response to the brutal death of 11-week-old Maria Zilua-Gomez, whose parents have thus far been accused of assault and child endangering.

Baby drop-off bill
        Instead, I wrote about a plan by Rep. Cheryl Winkler to allow new mothers to drop off their babies at a safe haven without fear of prosecution. The bill is in committee, and several readers asked how to lend support.

        Rep. Winkler can be reached by e-mailing rep34@ohr.state.oh.us, or at the Ohio House of Representatives, 77 S. High St., 13th Floor, Columbus, OH 43266-0603, or by telephoning (614) 466-2715.

        “The safe haven house is a great cause,” wrote Roger Bacon High School student Betsey Ahlers. “I would be grateful to volunteer at this house.” I include this remark because sometimes after hearing about something awful — such as a 16-year-old mother suspected of bludgeoning her baby to death — I like to remind myself that there are also kids like Betsey out there.

        As for murder charges, Hamilton police told Enquirer reporter Steve Kemme that no new charges have been filed. We seem to have a peculiar reluctance as a society to deal harshly with rapists and murderers who produce their own victims. To quote the bard of voice mail, “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

Food allergy info
        Last week, I also neglected to provide some useful information to those struggling with food allergies when writing about Nicholas Sonnenberg. The 4-year-old can't eat a single peanut without risking death. Not sickness. Death. He doesn't even have to eat it. The allergen can be airborne.

        Dana Pendery says her daughter, Allie, 41/2, will be going to camp this summer, and “I have already worked myself into a lather thinking of all the possible scenarios for peanut ingestion. Preschool, birthday parties, even Sunday school leaves us with a lump in our throats.”

        There's help. Not only for parents, but for the rest of us who may have these kids in our care temporarily. Food Allergy Network (800) 929-4040 and Food Allergy Awareness, Support and Training (513) 588-6863 or e-mail FAAST@aol.com all have up-to-date advice.

        Sandwiched in between food allergy and child abuse calls came one from Larry Ross, the Michigan man who won half of a record $363 million lotto last month.

        “A lot of people wrote about us, but you are the only one who made me laugh out loud. So I thought I'd thank you,” he said. “We are trying to lay low. Everybody wants something from us. But we are going to take your advice.”

        I'd asked the Rosses to live it up on behalf of us who dream of hitting the jackpot but never will. “I'm trying to do that,” he said, laughing.

        He seemed to be in a pretty good mood. Oh geez. I should have asked him for money. Marty is right. I am stupid, stupid, stupid.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8393.

       



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