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Phil's not a bad guy (we hope) but it's better to be Levar

June 3, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
I love it when a single weekend presents a chance for contrasts. The stories about LeVar Burton collecting millions in a matter of hours for his Reading Rainbow online project and Phil Mickelson cooperating with federal investigators on a possible insider trading situation provided a perfect contrast I couldn’t put away in my mind over the weekend. Here’s an actor beloved by millions, the Star Trek nation and beyond, who not only is known for being Enterprise-D Engineer Geordi LaForge but also as the host of the PBS show “Reading Rainbow,” which provided a boost to children’s reading, complete with children’s book reports and a learning experience hosted by Burton. Burton put his name behind a pitch to raise money for a plan he’s had in the works for years, to make Reading Rainbow an online program, and to boost underprivileged schools in their efforts to give children the most vital skill to rise from underprivileged status: The love of reading, which naturally means a love of learning. His call brought in the first million in an hour and millions more in the days to come. Burton was humbled and modest, stressing the importance of the program and his belief in it. The contrast comes in the form of pro golfer Mickelson. Beloved by his fans, too (me among them). I won’t use a Martha Stewart barbecue brush to smear Mickelson unless evidence shows something beyond simply making some Clorox stock trades before corporate raider Carl Icahn did this thing a while back. He may have done nothing wrong. Icahn, whether he did wrong or not, is always in my mind the guy who killed TWA, and who tried to do the same to U.S. Steel. What happens to his millions is of no regard to me. They’re his. It would be nice if he donated some to LeVar Burton’s effort. The contrast was that Mickelson was left talking about money and pleading innocence, while Burton was pleading for money to help the innocent: Children. Ah, I know it’s not much, but the thought has just been kind of sitting there all weekend. It would be good to be known for pleas to help the innocent instead of pleading innocence, wouldn’t it? (For The Weirton Daily Times readers, I've been writing a blog for about a year since I came back to the newsroom. I've worked in the local newspaper since 1985, and scads of my stories have appeared over the years in The Weirton Daily Times, of which I've been happily a part of the staff since the mid-1990s. A recent technological improvement (i.e., a password, FINALLY!) allows my posts to appear here. I hope you enjoy them.)


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