Archive for the ‘Lawyer’ Category

11-Year-Old Shoots Dad’s Pregnant Fiancee; Should Be Charged As An Adult

February 24, 2009

3_21_022109_brown_350Alright, so I just heard about this story and figured I’d give  my input.  This story comes out of Wampum, Pennsylvania: 11-year-old Jordan Anthony Brown (pictured on the left; photo courtesy of the Lawrence County Prison) shot and killed his dad’s pregnant fiancee at point blank range, and is now being charged as an adult.  Brown allegedly shot the woman with his 20-gauge shotgun in the back of the head.  He had wrapped the shotgun in a sheet to muffle the sound.

But apparently, his lawyer isn’t happy with this and wants him to be tried in juvenile court.  Brown is currently being held in the Lawrence County Prison in Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo charged Brown, as an adult, in the murder of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk. Houk was 6 months pregnant.  Bongivengo said that he has to be charged as an adult because Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow for criminal homicide charges to be filed  against Brown in juvenile court.

Brown originally lied to police about seeing a suspicious vehicle on the property, but later, police realized that he was lying after finding multiple inconsistencies in his story.  The victims 7-year-old daughter ultimately implicated Brown in the murder.  Bongivengo told reporters, “She didn’t actually eyewitness the shooting.  She saw him with what she believed to be a shotgun and heard a loud bang.  [The gun was found in the] location we believe to be in the defendant’s bedroom.”

Jack Houk, the victim’s father, told reporters, “An 11-year-old kid — what would give him the motive to shoot someone?  Maybe he was just jealous of my daughter and the baby and thought he would be overpowered.”

Brown’s attorney, David Elisco met with Brown, after which he told reporters, “I don’t think he knows what’s going on.  I walked out of there thinking he was innocent.  I believe Jordan did not do this and I’m looking forward to seeing the physical evidence to see if it matches with what I think happened.”  Elisco also met with Christopher Brown, the boy’s father.  He characterized Christopher as being “in a state of actual shock and disbelief.”  When asked if the boy disliked Houk, Elisco answered, “This is a tragic, extremely tragic situation, and it’s way too early to have any substantive comment.”

Apparently jealousy was the motive.  According to the victim’s brother-in-law, Jason Kraner, “He [Jordan Brown] actually told my son that he wanted to do that to her.  There was an issue with jealousy.”  Elisco responded to that claim, saying, “I think it’s all bull shit–there’s no animosity.”

Elisco wants Brown moved out of the county jail.  He told reporters, “I don’t think anybody wants him there. … I want him to be occupied and busy and back, essentially, in school. … I wouldn’t say he’s in good spirits.  He’s confused.  He looks and acts like a typical 11-year-old.”

He acts like a typical boy?  Are you crazy?  He shot a woman at point blank range!

Lawrence County Warden Charles Adamo also wants Brown moved out of his prison.  He says that his facility just can’t accommodate an 11-year-old boy.  Apparently they have to keep him ultra-isolated from any adult inmates, so he can’t even have visitors, since it’d mean that he’d have to be around other adults.  It’s also difficult to coordinate showers, since he has to shower alone, meaning that a whole cell block of 63 inmates must be locked down.  According to Elisco, they don’t even have clothes that fit him: “They put a shirt on him; he’s swimming in it, and his pants are cuffed up about 10 times.”  I find that a little hard to believe – they don’t have small clothes at all?  What happens if they arrest a dwarf or midget?  I feel like they must have clothes somewhere that would fit him.

Personally, I don’t care if he’s in an adult prison or not, as long as he is CHARGED as an adult.  This kid knew what he was dong.  It was premeditated (the sheet wrapped around the gun).  We have a girl who saw everything but the actual shooting (anybody can put 2 and 2 together.  Boy with shotgun + big bang + dead woman = boy killed the woman).

This freak of a kid needs to be charged with double homicide and needs to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Parents of 2 Suspended Cheerleaders File Lawsuit Over Nude Photos

December 8, 2008

Alright, so here’s a story I heard about that’s supposed to be featured on the news tonight, but I figured I’d go digging and just do the story now: On Monday the parents of two Bothell High School cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in the King County Superior Court against the Northshore School District (in Washington).  The suit alleges that school officials acted unfairly when they suspended the girls from the squad earlier this year after nude photos of the teens circulated through the student body via text messages.

Here’s the background on the case (according to the lawsuit):

  1. Summer, 2005: A topless photo of one of the cheerleaders is taken and sent to her then-boyfriend’s phone.
  2. Summer, 2005: The picture is accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  3. June, 2008: The other teen’s photo was taken when she and another cheerleader used their cell phones to take totally nude pictures of themselves.  Those photos were later accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  4. Shortly after the June pictures were taken: BHS school officials heard rumors the pictures were circulating the student body, especially within members of the football team, so the school sent a letter to all of the cheerleaders’ parents.  That letter said that if inappropriate photos were found, the consequences could be suspension from the squad.
  5. Football players were also told to delete the pictures from their cell phones if they received them
  6. August: BHS administrators received copies of both photos.
  7. Some dispute has arisen over who contacted the police first, and whether or not the school properly notified the girls’ parents about the photos.
  8. One girl is suspended from the squad for 30 days.  The other is suspended from the squad for the year.

Attorney Matthew King, representing both families, told reporters that  the lawsuits allege that BHS administrators violated the girls’ due process rights by needlessly sharing the photos with other school staff members and failing to promptly report the matter to police as child pornography.  King also said that it was unfair that the teens were suspended, but that football players and other BHS students who sent/received the texts were not punished.  King told reporters, “We’re not technically challenging the sanctions as being too strict, we’re saying they weren’t evenly enforced across the school.  There should have been some punishment meted out to those who were in possession of the photos. … It seems like the girls are getting the brunt of it.”  King wants the disciplinary action expunged from both girls’ school records.  Additionally, he wants the girl who was suspended for the whole year to be reinstated to the team, and he is demanding an apology from BHS officials for their lack of discipline on other students.

Northshore spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus disagrees, saying that the school acted appropriately, reporting the photos to the police and giving the girls a chance to appeal their suspensions to both a disciplinary committee as well as the School Board, saying, “Everyone along the line agreed the discipline was appropriate.  Obviously, we take these things seriously, but we really don’t believe this [suit] has a lot of merit.”

King also claims that the district’s student handbook doesn’t specifically prohibit what the girls did, and that it doesn’t outline outline potential disciplinary action for a case like this.  He told reporters, “My clients fully realize what they did was stupid,” and that they never wanted the photos to be distributed.  King said that he still does not know how they were accidentally sent out.

Northshore officials again disagree, saying that the girls violated the district’s athletic code  According to Stoltzfus, “When you sign up to be a cheerleader–or for any student activity–you agree to certain codes of behavior.We consider them student leaders, and we want them to be role models.”

I took a look at the athletic code, and although it doesn’t expressly prohibit the production or distribution of child pornography (or any pornography), it does state the following:

Northshore School District
Student Athletic Code

The opportunity to participate in the athletic program in the Northshore School District is a privilege available to all students. Because of the public nature of athletic programs sponsored by the district, students choosing to participate are expected to conduct themselves at all times during their season of participation and between consecutive seasons in a manner that will reflect the high standards and ideals of their school and community. These high personal standards for conduct promote maximum achievement, safe performances, commitment to excellence in health and conditioning, and fulfill responsibilities as student leaders by setting a positive example for other students.

The regulations below are included in the Addendum of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Pupil Conduct. In addition to this Code of Conduct, individual schools may establish other expectations specific to their own individual programs.

Students must meet the standards for interscholastic eligibility as outlined in Article 18 of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association handbook, the KINGCO League and the Northshore School District and their individual school. Copies of these rules and regulations may be obtained from the school Athletic Director upon request.

The expectations for being a participant in a schoolʼs athletic program, including specific eligibility requirements, training rules and team rules shall be communicated to team members at the beginning of the season of participation. All program expectations and team rules shall be in writing.

Any athlete in a District-sponsored athletic activity who willfully performs any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs shall be subject to discipline. As participants in extracurricular programs, students are faced with choices. If a studentʼs choices interfere, impede, hinder their personal or group/team performance or render the individual as unfit to serve as a representative(s) of the districtʼs schools, they forfeit the privilege to participate. Misconduct by participants in the athletic program at any time, on or off campus, school related and/or non-school activities during the season of participation and between consecutive seasons of participation constitutes cause for discipline including denial of participation in and/or removal from the athletic program. Seasons begin with the first turnout and conclude with the season ending recognition/awards program in the individual sport.

II. Consequences for Athletic Code violations;

A. Student Athletic Code violations are accumulative during grades seven and eight and then again in grades nine through twelve. Any ninth grade student shall be considered a high school student.

B. Consequences for specific violations:
Probation is a period of time in which an athlete may be given time to correct deficiencies that could result in denial of participation for a given period of time or removal from athletic team participation. Denial of participation means that the athlete is allowed to practice but not compete in games. The loss of athletic eligibility, which may carry over to subsequent sports seasons, means the athlete will not participate in interscholastic competition or be in uniform. During the period when a student is assigned a suspension from school, the student is not eligible for any form of participation or attendance at school activities including athletic program participation.

So, although it doesn’t expressly ban what the girls did, I think what they did falls s under “any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs.”

So, where do I stand?  I stand on the side of the girls; however, I disagree with what they want done.  I agree that BHS officials were way too easy on pretty much everybody other than the 2 girls.  I think that the girls should be suspended (or have other disciplinary action taken against them) for failing to follow the athletics agreement.  In addition, ANYBODY who possessed the pictures (other than the administrators, who I’ll discuss in a minute) should have been charged with possession of child pornography, and should have had disciplinary action taken against them if they were in a sport (but it had to be a sport that was in season at that time).  Obviously, it would have to be proved that the person kept the pictures.  I wouldn’t charge anybody just because they received the pictures.  The administrators, if they really did report it to the police, did nothing wrong.  HOWEVER, if additional copies were passed around for no reason, those responsible should be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  I do think that BHS officials are wrong in not punishing the football team and other students; however, the way to solve this is NOT to expunge the records of the girls, but to punish ALL who were responsible.

EDIT: I’ve been talking with some people about this, and the argument has come up that perhaps the girls were of age so that it wasn’t child pornography.  In addition to the fact that the names are not being released because the girls are minors, I found this photograph from July 4th, 2005, courtesy of the Woodinville Rotary Club.  Now, of course this isn’t official, but to me, none of those girls looks 18 (except maybe the one on the left in the front row).  Additionally, the one picture was taken in 2005, so we’re guaranteed that that girl wasn’t 18 when the picture was taken:

bothell_parade_07_04_05_019_-_bhs_cheerleaders

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Pleading Guilty to Charges, Expected to Resign

September 4, 2008

This is happening live.  Kwame Kilpatrick is about to plead guilty, and he’s expected to resign as Mayor of Detroit.

The judge (supposed to be Judge David Groner, but I never saw anything that said anything today confirming that’s who the judge was) is now informing him of what right’s he is giving up (trial by jury, being assumed innocent until proven guilty, being able to testify, being able to cross examine witnesses, appeal this case).

He has  just said that he will waive those rights and plead guilty.

He has just said that he is pleased with the job his lawyers have done.

He has just said that he is ready to plead guilty today, saying, “I’m here,” implying that he wants this done as soon as possible.

They’re now showing the courtroom around him and wow, there are a LOT of people there.

Kwame Kilpatrick has just reentered.  The court is now officially in session.

Judge: “Mr. Kilpatrick, on the dates of October 11,  2004, at a civil deposition in the City of Detroit … and on August 29th … in the Wayne County Circuit Court, did you do something wrong that causes you to plead guilty today.”

Kilpatrick: “Yes, I lied under oath … regarding information that was relevant to claims made by [the police officers]. … I lied under oath … for the lawsuit.”

“The Court is satisfied and will accept the plea for the 2 counts of obstruction of justice.”

The Judge is now setting a sentencing date of October 28 at 2:00 P.M.  The judge has now gone on to another case for Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick is to plead no contest to charge 1 and charge 2 will be dismissed (I’m not sure what charges these  are for now), and he is to tender a letter of resignation no later than September 18, surrender his law license, as well as 120 (I think that’s what he said) days in jail.

The judge is saying the charges are: public officer assaulting/obstruction.  So this was the case where he shoved the cop off the porch.  He’s pleading no contest to charge 1.  He will be convicted of this charge, and at the sentencing hearing, the 2nd charge will be dropped.

The judge is now making sure that Kilpatrick understands the rights that he’s giving up, just like he did with the perjury charges.

The prosecutor now gave the factual basis for the case, and the judge accepted the plea.

The sentencing date for that will be the same as for the perjury charges.

The judge is commending all lawyers on both sides of the case, including Prosecutor Kym Worthy, saying that he’s glad we could settle this today.

And they’re done.  Kilpatrick is now  hugging somebody – I think it’s his wife, but it might be his sister.  Kilpatrick is now leaving the court room.  Kilpatrick has  left the court room.

Well, that’s honestly something I didn’t expect I would see.  I figured it’d go to trial.  I’m glad to see that Kwame finally gave in.  They were saying something about pleading “No contest” and the possibility of a civil suit, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ll keep you updated if anything else develops.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s Guilty Plea Postponed Until Tomorrow Morning

September 3, 2008

This is developing news coming out of Detroit right now.  Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had been expected to plead guilty to charges in the original text message scandal case at 5:15 P.M. EDT today before Judge Edward Ewell Jr., the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of Wayne County Circuit Court.  Apparently the details of the plea deal hadn’t been completely ironed out by 5:15, so the decision was made to postpone the court appearance until 9:00 A.M. tomorrow, where he’ll appear in front of Judge David Groner.

At this point in time, I have to say that this has not been confirmed.  All that we know for sure is that Kilpatrick will be in court tomorrow morning.  One of Kilpatrick’s defense lawyers, Joseph Niskar, told reporters, “I can tell you it’s a not a bond motion.  We’ll see.”  He specifically did not answer the question of whether or not Kilpatrick will be taking a guilty plea.

After reporters headed over to the Wayne County court due to rumors that a plea deal was to be made around 5:00, Maria Miler, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told reporters, “We believed a plea was imminent. … We believe it may take place [Thursday].”

Kilpatrick’s attorney, James Thomas, told reporters, “It is apparent that they are close” to a plea deal.  Thomas had been at forfeiture hearings that Governor Jennifer Granholm had been holding today to possibly remove Kilpatrick from office.

Now, I fail to see why a guilty plea is even being offered here.  It’s CLEAR that he perjured before.  I see no reason that we should let him off easy.  I say take it to court and if he pleads guilty, then he pleads guilty, but I wouldn’t be offering a plea bargain here.  I think there’s enough evidence to avoid this.  Of course, I don’t know ALL of the facts, but just from what’s been released, I don’t think any jury could find REASONABLE doubt to not find him guilty.  Then again, weirder things have happened in Detroit.

I’ll keep you updated as anything more develops (and if I get time, I’ll try to get some transcripts from today’s hearing by Governor Granholm).

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Sharon McPhail, Aide to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Gets into Verbal Scuffle as She Ardently (and Obnoxiously) Defends Mayor

August 8, 2008

You know, every blogger at on point or another sees a story unfolding before him/her and thinks, “This is gonna make an incredible blog post,” and the news interview I saw today was exactly that.  Watch the following interview between WDIV’s (NBC-4) Devin Scillian and former Councilwoman turned Mayoral candidate turned Mayoral aide:

http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/17138172/index.html

I haven’t seen that much bull crap since – heck – I can’t figure out when I’ve seen that much bull crap.

That interview was so hilarious (yet sad) that I called my grandma (a hard-core liberal, but anti-Kwame advocate) halfway through the interview and said, “Grandma, turn on Channel 4.  Sharon McPhail’s making an idiot out of herself.”

Let’s look at some of what McPhail said:

  • Arguing that Windsor is “across the street” and should be treated as part of this country!  Come on – he broke the terms of his bond.  There’s no way that you can say he was justified in going to Windsor. (3:45)
  • Saying that a “bar member means nothing.”  Bull crap – he should’ve known better.  He DID know better.  If you can’t tell the legal difference between Windsor and Detroit, you shouldn’t have passed the bar.
  • On to my favorite part, the exchange about this being the media’s fault:
    Scillian: “Detroit is being splattered all over the headlines in very bad terms.  We’ve got a mayor whose spent the night in jail, the first time in 300 years that this city’s been in existence that that’s happened.”
    McPhail: “Here’s a thought: stop printing those headlines.”
    Scillian: “Ignore the truth?”
    McPhail: “No, I didn’t say ignore the truth, I said, “stop printing the headlines.’  I would really love it if people stopped ignoring the truth.”
    Scillian: “I’m confused.  Are you blaming the messenger?”
    McPhail: “You are, and that’s exactly the point. … you do not have to take the position that everybody else is wrong and you are right, because usually that’s not true.”
    Now, I’ve been one to criticize the media, and say they need to be put in their place every once in a while, but this was just crazy.
  • Arguing that the cops intentionally went to the mayor’s sister’s house to serve the subpoena on Ferguson.  They saw the vehicle, and hoped he was there.  Even IF they did it knowing whose house it was, that’s not illegal.
  • Scillian: “Sharon McPhail, it is always an experience talking to you.”

What a cocky, stubborn idiot.  I mean, the level of support for the mayor there is just incredibly sad.  Even after all he’s done, she supports him!  And her arguments are just incredibly stupid as well.  She really has come a long way from once running against the mayor.  The way she defends him, she’s acting like she’s sleeping with him too!

So, hopefully that provided you non-Detroiters some entertainment.  For you Detroiters, I’m sorry that you have to live with that.  I pray that this ends for you soon (hopefully our Governor will act on this – there’s a hearing coming up, I THINK next week).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Jailed for Going to Canada

August 7, 2008

Well, Kwame Kilpatrick has been sent to jail, after it was revealed that he went to Windsor, Ontario for a business trip, violating his bond.  Kwame apologized for the mistake in not telling the judge of the trip, saying, “I’ve been living in an incredible state of pressure and scrutiny.”  He said that he had gone to Windsor to discuss the sale of the tunnel between the U.S. and Canada, saying, “We got the deal back on track. … It wasn’t a spur of the moment, willy nilly, I can frolic in Canada.”

Prosecutor Robert Moran told the court, “It’s not serious to him that he’s a criminal defendant. … This court should be outraged.”  And that’s true.  This is all just more fun and games for Kwame.

36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles said, “What matters to me … is how the court overall is perceived and how if it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six-Pack sitting in that seat, what would I do?  And that answer is simple.”

Kwame’s defense attorney, Jim Thomas, told reporters, “I think it’s the most extreme measure he can take,” as he headed to the circuit court a few blocks away to have the ruling overturned, but Circuit Judge Thomas E. Jackson asked for a transcript from Judge Giles, and said that he wouldn’t hear the case until tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M., meaning that Kwame will spend the night in jail.

Thomas pleaded with Jackson to here the case today, but Jackson told Thomas, “I just gave you my answer.”

Meanwhile, Jim Parkman, said that the defense team would  attempt to try to get an electronic tether for Kilpatrick to keep him out of jail.  That also failed.

Kwame will NOT be kept in general population, due to the fact that he is a high-profile individual.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy applauded the ruling, saying, “Judge Giles treated this defendant as any other defendant would have been treated.”

I think this is FINALLY justice for Detroiters.  Kilpatrick is finally being treated how he deserves to be treated – LIKE A CRIMINAL!

I’ll keep you updated as this case just keeps getting more interesting.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Federal Judge Rules Bush’s Aides (Like Karl Rove) Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

So, as I said, before, a case looking into executive privilege in regards to subpoenas from Congress was in a federal court, and the federal judge, U.S. District Judge John Bates (a Bush-nominated Judge), ruled that Bush’s aides are NOT exempt from Congressional subpoenas.

The full Memorandum Opinion can be read here (it’s 93 pages long, otherwise I’d stick the whole quote in here).  Since it’s so long, I’ll give two key quotes that pretty much summarize the opinion:

  • “Harriet Miers [and Josh Bolten] is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena.”
  • Regarding the lack of case law for White House aides being immune from Congressional subpoena: “That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law.”

And that’s really the problem here.  Executive orders have been used since  1789, and that gives the Executive Branch some limited power to influence and shape laws without actually making new laws.  The Supreme Court RARELY overturns these, and although Bush didn’t issue an executive order here, the same principle applies.  The difference is that Bush has VASTLY overstepped the bounds of the executive branch, and is now completely reshaping things and taking us into unknown territory.

I agree with Bates’s opinion, and have previously said (here and here) that Rove should testify to Congress (although Rove isn’t mentioned in this case, his predicament came after Miers’s and Bolten’s, but he’s essentially in the same place as Bolten and Miers, so this will apply to him as well).

Now, let’s get to the reactions:

  • “We disagree with the district court’s decision.”  White House press secretary Dana  Perino
  • “I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House … and don’t expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future.”  Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney
  • “It certainly strengthens our hand.  This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.”  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • “We look forward to the White House complying withthis ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims.  We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”  Representative John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
  • “I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.”  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • “I’m sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue.”  House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), in regards to the fact that the subpoena will expire at the end of the 110thCongress in January.  Several Democrats have siad that they expect that the subpoenas will be reissued if and when they keep the Congress in this upcoming election.
  • “Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived.  If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.” Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Republican in the House Judiciary Committee.

I could not agree MORE with Lamar Smith (and the fact that a major Republican is siding with the Democrats and the Judge shows that Bush is in the wrong).  Smith, unlike some Republicans is not making this a partisan issue, but wants to keep the power that has been given to Congress in Congress’s hands (and thus, partly in his hands).  These cases simply don’t happen – Congress and the White House normally simply compromise.  The fact that this was taken to court means that there is now a LEGAL precedent set.  But before those who are happy with this precedent start celebrating, we must remember that precedents and rulings can be overturned by higher courts.  If a higher Court, and ultimately the Supreme Court rules to overturn this ruling, Congress will be hating themselves for not simply COMPROMISING with Bush.  Congress will lose a power that they’ve taken for granted, possibly forever.

I DO hope that the Bush administration doesn’t appeal this, but I think that they will.  I hope Congress prevails.  The executive branch has overstepped it’s power, and needs to be stopped.  Miers, Bolten, and Rove should ALL testify.  And the Bush administration needs to remember that if this ruling gets overturned, this precedent will remain in effect when the Republicans control the Congress and are trying to subpoena Democratic aides.

I have faith in the system, and I really don’t see how Bush can win any case here, but weirder things HAVE happened.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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House Committee Votes to Hold Karl Rove in Contempt of Congress

August 1, 2008

Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by John Conyers [D-MI]) voted 20-14 along party lines to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress for not showing up to testify back in early July.  This vote was only a recommendation, and it will be up to Nancy Pelosi whether or not to bring this for a vote before the full House in September.  If they did vote to hold him in contempt, the citation would be forwarded to the Justice Department for prosecution, or file a lawsuit, as she has done against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers.

Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, called the vote “gratuitously punitive,” since the question of executive privilege was already pending in a federal court (and that decision will be my next blog post tonight).

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) made the comments, “This is simply more election year politicking.  Nothing more need be said.”  And I partly agree with that, but I have ALSO said before, that Rove should be held in contempt.  You can’t just refuse to testify to Congress, and if Rove has nothing to hide, he should just testify.

I would’ve voted with the Democrats on this one.  But before the Republicans get on my case for this, let me remind you that many of you called foul at the Clinton administration for not having his people testify.  And to the Democrats who are calling foul now, if you didn’t cry foul at the Clinton administration, you have no right to do it now.  Investigations shouldn’t be partisan-controlled.  Period.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit to Crack Down on … Bicyclists?

July 11, 2008

Well, I heard about this from a co-worker yesterday, and I actually didn’t believe him until 3 other people chimed in and told me that it’s true (although they told me that the law was just passed) – apparently, Detroit (oh, well now we KNOW this will be good) has decided that they want to start enforcing some laws.  Great!  So, what laws?  It’s a 1964 ordinance that requires bicycles to be registered, and violators will be slapped with a $55 fine.  Police officers will start enforcement on August 7th.

The Detroit Police Department released a press release on Wednesday (I can’t find the full press release because they apparently don’t update their website for months at a time), saying, “Increased enforcement of the ordinance will … take place citywide in order to ensure that any stolen property is returned to its proper owner.  Enforcement will remain relaxed until Aug. 7, 2008, to allow bicycle owners an opportunity to register their bikes without penalty.”

Here are some responses to the new revelation from the city:

  • “You’d think the Detroit cops would have better things to worry about than giving out fines to people who don’t register their bikes.  This is just a way for them to get money out of people.  They want to get those fines.  What are they going to do?  Give tickets to little kids who are riding their bikes?  It’s ridiculous.”  Marv Adams, Detroit
  • “It’s not really a priority.”  Dearborn Police Lieutenant Wayne Seccombe
  • “If people want to, they can come in and we’ll give them a sticker, which will help us track down the bikes.  But we don’t require it.”  Ferndale Police Sergeant Vince Palazzolo
  • “Why are the police worrying about something like this?.  Are they going to start giving tickets to little kids?  Maybe the police ought to concentrate on getting rid of all the dope dealers and gangs, so the kids will have a safe place to ride their bikes.”  Evelyn Roark, Detroit
  • “I’ve had two cars stolen in the past five years, and I never even got a phone call back from the cops.  Maybe they ought to worry about getting stolen cars back instead of worrying about bikes.”  Tina Burse, Detroit
  • “If they start enforcing this, it would dissuade us from wanting to come into the city.  This can’t be a good thing for Detroit.  We come into the city and spend money.  We also help people get over their fears of the city.  If people see we aren’t afraid to ride our bikes into Detroit, maybe they won’t be afraid to drive their cars into Detroit.”  E.J. Levy, Southfield, a member of the Wolverine Sports Club and Cadieux Bicycling Club.
  • “Detroit is my favorite place to ride.  I like to go to the RiverWalk, and the Conner Creek Greenway.  It would be a shame if they start enforcing this ordinance, and people stop riding their bikes in the city.”  Todd Scott, Royal Oak, Detroit Greenways coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

Detroit Police spokesman James Tate later clarified the intent of the enforcement, saying, “We’re trying to get people to register their bikes.  We’ve got hundreds of bikes piled up with no way of knowing who they belong to.  The idea isn’t to start handing out tickets to little kids on tricycles.  We’re supposed to enforce the ordinances that are on the books.”

Now, normally I’d be all FOR enforcing ordinances like this (and ALL ordinances for that matter), but enforcing this ordinance, under current circumstances, would NOT be legal?  Why?

Let’s go on a magical journey to the Michigan Compiled Laws, Chapter 257, Act 300 of 1949 (Michigan Vehicle Code), Section 257.606:

MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 300 of 1949

257.606 Regulation of streets or highways under jurisdiction of local authority and within reasonable exercise of police power; stop sign or traffic control device requiring state trunk line highway traffic to stop; approval; posting signs giving notice of local traffic regulations; providing by ordinance for impounding of motor vehicle parked contrary to local ordinance; bond or cash deposit.

 

Sec. 606.

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be considered to prevent local authorities with respect to streets or highways under the jurisdiction of the local authority and within the reasonable exercise of the police power from:

(i) Regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of bicycles, including the requirement of a registration fee.

(3) An ordinance or regulation enacted under subsection (1)(a), (d), (e), (f), (g), (i), or (j) shall not be enforceable until signs giving notice of the local traffic regulations are posted upon or at the entrance to the highway or street or part of the highway or street affected [emphasis mine], as may be most appropriate, and are sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. The posting of signs giving the notice shall not be required for a local ordinance which does not differ from the provisions of this act regulating the parking or standing of vehicles; nor to ordinances of general application throughout the jurisdiction of the municipalities enacting the ordinances which prohibit, limit, or restrict all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, if signs, approximately 3 feet by 4 feet, sufficiently legible as to be seen by an ordinarily observant person, giving notice of these ordinances relating to all night parking or parking during the early morning hours, are posted on highways at the corporate limits of the municipality.

And do they have those signs?  No.

Attorney Michael Salhaney, Birmingham’s lawyer, said, “In Detroit, it would be a daunting task to post signs on every street where the ordinance is enforced.”

My rule on laws: Enforce them.  If they’re laws you can’t legally enforce / choose not to enforce – take them off the books.  So, either take this law off the books or don’t enforce it.  In other words, take it off – it’s a waste of money to enforce this.  They may make money off of tickets, but they’ll lose bikers coming in and the signs / upkeep/replacement of the signs will be too costly.

It’s a stupid law, make registration voluntary!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Councilwoman JoAnn Watson Pleads With Kwame Kilpatrick to Resign: “Nobody wants a white woman in Lansing to decide the fate of a black man in Detroit”

May 15, 2008

Alright, so here’s what happened:

JoAnn Watson had been in talks with the Mayor since the weekend, trying to get him to resign.  She had even called him as late as 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, right before the city council met, where they voted on 2 ways of ousting him.

After the meeting, and the votes to oust Kilpatrick, Watson’s aides gave her a piece of paper, a message from Kilpatrick urging her to reconsider her vote.  The council adjourned, and she went down to talk to Kilpatrick face to face.  She went in to his office, and after 15 minutes, reporters saw Sharon McPhail, former councilwoman, turned wanna-be mayor, turned aide to the man he ran against.

Watson had asked the mayor, again, to resign.

She told reporters what she had been telling him all along, “I urged him to resign if the council voted.  I even said, ‘If there are issues around vesting your pension, I’m happy to play a role in assisting with that.’  He called back while I was in session.”

She went back to her office, ate lunch, and hoped Kilpatrick would call.  She told reporters, “If he calls, I’ll answer, but if he doesn’t put it in writing, I’m not going to reconsider [my vote].”  She would wait until 2:30, when the council would reconvene, and hear what she thought.

She told reporters as she waited, “He’ll call,” and he did call.  As she talked in her office with the door wide open for the reporters to hear, here’s what was heard:

“You’re a young man.  You can come back.”

“It’s not for us!  It’s not for us, Mr. Mayor.  It’s for the city!”

“The City Council had nothing to do with it.”

“‘When yall gonna take care of that?’  That’s what people ask me.”

“Mr. Mayor, we don’t want to!  We want you to help the city move on.  Help the city move on!”

“Didn’t Marion Barry [the former Washington, D.C. mayor who was busted for using crack] come back?  He resigned and came back!  You can resign and come back.”  Well, Barry didn’t lose the city millions of dollars.

“Nobody wants a white woman in Lansing to decide the fate of a black man in Detroit.  That’s why I’m begging you to resign.”  HOLY CRAP!  Well, that’s racist.  If I said, “Nobody wants a black man in Lansing to decide the fate of a white man in Ohio,” everybody would swarm me and I’d never be able to run for public office.

Then, Cockrel knocked on her door and told her that the council couldn’t wait any longer, and she hung up the phone.

She left her office and told reporters that she would not be changing her vote.  After the meeting, she sat in her office, when her aide told her, “You showed everybody how much of a chance you gave him,” but Watson replied, “It’s not about us.  It’s for the city.  The city deserves better, and who wants to be saddled with this drama for the next weeks and months?  We have work to do.  I’ve got to fight to get the incinerator closed.  I’ve got to fight for summer job right now.  All you have to do is look at the faces around the table.  Nobody’s happy with it.  There’s no dancing in the streets over this one.  I said to him, ‘Resign.’  [He said] ‘I can’t.  How will I fight?’ … If you’re thinking about using the mayor’s office to raise money for the defense fund, that’s not going to work anyway because the council will be watching every vendor you bring forth to see if they contributed.’ … This business is painful for me.  It’s painful.  My overwhelming concern is for the city, not one person.  And  as a city official, I must look at the big picture, and citizens don’t deserve to be submerged in this business any longer.”

She told reporters, “I perceived movement.”

She said that she doesn’t believe Kilpatrick’s lawyers when they say that there never was any movement, “He said it would  look like he was giving up.  I said no, it would look like he was stepping up.  It acknowledges that the city is bigger than you.”

As of late Tuesday, the pair had not had any more conversations.

I honestly don’t even know why she tried.  It’s obvious that Kilpatrick doesn’t have the city at heart.

I am somewhat (not completely – it’s the Detroit City Council, I’ll never be taken completely by surprise by anything they do) shocked that she admitted that one of the reasons he should resign is so that a white governor doesn’t step in and decide what happens to a black “man.”  I can’t honestly call him a man – he acts like some gang animal.  With all of his parties in Washington, D.C., and his attitude of being a mayor, he doesn’t deserve to share the tile of “man” with me and others.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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