Tonawanda News

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December 6, 2013

LEFFLER: The Olympics, Mandela and freedom, oh my


Tonawanda News — I’m still waiting to figure out what exactly it is I’m good at. When I do, I’ll let you know.


I’d be wrong not to touch on the passing of Nelson Mandela Thursday. The anti-apartheid icon and father of modern day politics in South Africa was 95 years old.

That said, I cannot do justice to his life, so I will simply share a quote:

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Mandela finally climbed his last hill. But thanks to him, he left a path for others to follow.


A new documentary called “Cash for Kids” delves into the saga that occurred in Pennsylvania during the tenure of one Mark Ciavarella, who used to be a judge and is now an inmate.

Ciavarella was convicted in 2011 of literally selling kids into the prison system in exchange for kickbacks from the privately run operation. In all, he netted $1.2 million in the scheme. And in the end thousands of convictions were thrown out.

I’m not going to judge the concept of privately run prisons, although I admit, I think it’s a bit peculiar. But I will remind people that power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Fortunately we live in a country with checks and balances and Ciavarella got his just desserts. Kind of. I don’t think 28 years is enough. He should have to serve 10 days for every day served by any of the kids he ever convicted wrongfully and sent away.

There is nothing more immoral than depriving someone of their liberty.

Or as Nelson Mandela would say, “There is no such thing as part freedom.”

Scott Leffler would earn gold if there were an Olympic sport for injuring yourself. Sadly for him, there's not. Follow his non-award-winning injuries on Twitter @scottleffler.

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