Sunday, November 11, 2007

Of Mosques and Olympics and bittersweet awards

The last two days of news have given me so much to write about that I don't know where to begin. So, because I've got a lot to say about Toledo taking over the ambulance transports, the fallacy of 'hope' versus action when it comes to downtown Toledo (and this Blade editorial), regionalism as another name for uni-gov (which we'll discuss on Eye on Toledo on Monday at 6 p.m.), and the lack of events where the public could honor veterans, I'm going to take my time over the next couple of days to do justice to each of these topics.

In the meantime, let me share with you two uplifting events from yesterday:

In the afternoon, I attended the Open House as the Masjid Saad's new mosque on Alexis Road. 'Masjid' means mosque and 'saad' means luck - making this the Mosque of Luck.

It was great to see so many friends whom I've missed in the last several months - and it was nice to see how all the visitors were treated as the honored guests that they were.

They gave tours of the new worship area and classrooms for the Al-Bayan Arabic School and pre-school and the Toledo Islamic Academy. One room had about 20 computers for students to use and the library had a terrific selection of books - both known and unknown to me.

Their new facility has room for them to grow - and a huge gymnasium which easily sat 300+ for the magnificent dinner that they served to members and guests alike. I wish them many good years in this new location!

But to the elected officials who were invited and either didn't come or didn't decline the invite - shame on you! Dan Foote, representing Rep. Marcy Kaptur, said a few words and then read a letter from Marcy. Sheriff James Telb, whose family is from Lebanon, was present, as he usually is. Sylvania Township Fiscal Officer Dan Simko and his family were there, and even Scott Smith from the FBI joined for the celebration. The Imam and many members from the Columbus Mosque also travelled to Toledo for the festivities, bringing with them a letter from Gov. Ted Strickland. And a woman from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, who'd been with them earlier in the year to address the graffiti on their new buildings, spoke briefly.

The program included the names of other elected officials who either agreed to attend or who were listed because the organizers did not get a response. As it was explained to me, they went ahead and listed those who didn't respond because they didn't want to cause any offense should those invited decide to show up at the last minute. Those officials, btw, were: Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Rep. Peter Ujvagi, State Sen. Teresa Fedor, and Juanita Green.

One lady explained that she could understand the lack of elected officials because it was after the elections and many weren't on the ballot. That just set me off!

It's not just during an election or when your name is on the ballot that you attend such events, because you're not supposed to be attending just for what you get out of it - neglecting such events if you don't see any selfish 'gain.' In fact, you've got much more time when it isn't an election year to attend such activities and events in the community.

Of course, so many of our local officials only show up at things when they're up for re-election or when they think it will get them some publicity. Your attendance - or lack thereof - at such events demonstrates whether you are someone who truly cares, or if you're just out for yourself and votes. Service to the public is just that and those who didn't show up (or didn't respond) to this invitation would be wise to keep this in mind. And so should everyone at the Masjid Saad.


Also Saturday, I got to attend the annual awards banquet for North Cape Yacht Club. Since leaving politics, I've found more time to sail and race and this is something I truly enjoyed. Group Therapy, the boat we race on, did get a flag for one of the Wednesday night series and was also recognized with the highest honor at the club, the USSA Sportsmanship Trophy. This was shared with two other boats for the rescue efforts during this year's Commodore Perry Race in which our long-time friend, Bruce Goldsmith, was knocked overboard. As we later learned, Bruce died instantly when the boom hit him and knocked him into the water during the rough weather. While we are proud of the efforts of our skipper and crew, and proud of the recognition, we'd all much rather that Bruce was still with us. So the awarding of this prestigious trophy was bittersweet.

But, we also got a chance to welcome back one of NCYC's previous junior sailors, Anna Tunnicliffe. If you're wondering why it's such a big deal to welcome home a former junior member - it's because she's going to the OLYMPICS!!!!

Anna qualified to represent the United States in the Olympics in Beijing. She is the world's #1-Ranked Woman Laser Radial Sailor and took the gold in the Pre-Olympic Regatta held in Qingdao in August. She is expected to win a medal - and we're hoping it's gold - in 2008.

Anna grew up in Perrysburg and started sailing and racing at NCYC. We're certainly proud of this first-ever qualifier from our club! And I hope you will join me as we watch her successes over the next year - and at the Olympics in 2008.


Ammar said...

Thanks so much for coming, we had a blast.
You should have stayed a little longer, so you could have picked up your gift.

Again, thanks for coming and showing your support. This event is only a preview of many great things to come.


Maggie Thurber said...

Hi Ammar!

a gift????

I would have loved to stay longer as I always enjoy the company and the food. Alas, other obligations called.

But I'm sure this won't be the last time I am welcomed into your gatherings.

BigGal44 said...

Hi Maggie

I find it interesting and surprising that these politicians are expected to attend the grand opening of this mosque.

When my church finally found it's new home in April 2006, it was just us and some people from the neighborhood.

If this event you attended were for a Christian church, we would have heard screams from the public about "Separation of Church & State". What is the difference here?

Maggie Thurber said...

BigGal44 - I've been invited to - and attended - other such open houses for different congregations of churches. I've participated in numerous central city church events and a couple of Jewish Synagogue events.

In the Toledo political world, these are treated just like business openings or open houses for community organizations.

No one has ever mentioned to me 'separation of church and state' in the context of inviting local leaders to join in these types of events.

And in my instance, it wasn't the appropriateness of the invitation - it was the lack of response/attendance regarding the invitation ... and the comment about the elections being over.

It was rude to either not respond or to rsvp and then not show up. I have a problem with the rudeness often shown in such circumstances by elected officials.

Additionally, as a former elected official, I was offended at the thought that because a politician wasn't on the ballot, there was reduced expectation of attendance, although that concept certainly isn't a foreign one with some elected officials.

Finally, the clause referred to in the Constitution isn't about a 'separation' between all things religious and all things government - it was about the restriction on the government from making any laws pertaining to the freedom to worship (or not) as one chooses.

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