Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If we ever have a plan, we're screwed....

He was born in Shaker Heights OH in 1925, an Aquarius and instead of staying there to run his family's sporting goods store in Cleveland OH, he headed for the Yale School of Drama. He gained critical acclaim for his 1953 Broadway debut as Alan Seymour in William Inge's "Picnic" and Warner Bros hired him. Paul Newman, with his devestatingly blue eyes and good looks has been on his own path through life since those days.

He and his wife Joanne Woodward, who he married in January of 1958, have quietly lived their lives together in Westport CT, for the past 50 years. Today comes word that Newman has also, quietly, turned over the entire value of his ownership in Newman's Own, to charity. The transfer was completed over a two year period in 2005 and 2006 and the entire amount of his donations to Newman's Own Foundation Inc comes to approximately $120 million dollars.

"He's a fighter. He's going to keep on fighting," stated one of his close friends on Tuesday.

The tip off about Newman, 83, came with reports that had been leaked that he had been seeing an oncologist and in late May, he announced that he wouldn't direct a production of "Our Town" later this summer at the Westport Country Playhouse. His neighbor, Martha Stewart posted pictures of Newman on her Website from a recent party she hosted and they showed Newman gaunt but smiling that devilish grin of his. His friends state that Paul shouldn't be written off as dying and it may be that Newman is just making time for his own life after all these years of living publically. He had announced last year that he was retiring from acting at age 82.

Most know Paul Newman from his long history in film beginning in 1954 with the film "The Silver Chalice" and the great films, "The Hustler", "Hud", "Cool Hand Luke". "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Color of Money." His interest in auto racing began after he played an Indy-car driver in the 1969 film "Winning" and it continued throughout his life. His first victory on the track came at Thompson Motor Speedway in Thompson CT, when he drove a Lotus Elan to victory in 1972. He won SCCA's national title and top amateur honor, the President's Cup in 1976 and turned pro in 1977.

He has continued to race and became the oldest driver to win the 24 Hours of Daytona when he co-drove a Ford Mustang GTS-class to victory in 1995. In 1983, Newman and his patner, Chicago based businessman Carl Haas, bought into the open-wheel CART class cars and have sucessfully raced their Newman-Haas team there for years. Newman has slowed his racing as well as his acting career but he is still a very staunch supporter of the Champ cars style of racing over the Indy cars that split off from them in the 1990's. Their team has won six titles including two season titles in a row.

The 1980's also saw Newman founding Newman's Own Inc along with his friend, writer A E Hotchner. For several years, Hotchner and Newman had been cooking up batches of homemade salad dressing in Newman's basement and giving them out to friends when they went Christmas caroling in their Westport CT neighborhood. Their dressing was a hit with friends and became a very sought after item in the neighborhood gourmet shops.

The two of them decided to give marketing their dressings a go and invited friends over to sample the recipes and choose their favorite. They saved themselves the projected $400,000 they could have spent on test marketing and in 1982, Newman's Own put out their first product, Olive Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing. They put Newman's picture on it as a joke and Newman decided then to give all after-tax profits away to charity, since he didn't need the money from the business.

They continued to grow and add dressings and then expanded to other products. Each year the company showed increased earnings and grossed $36 million by 1988. The next year, the company the company realized a pre-tax profit of 16 percent, about five times the 3.4 food industry average. Even with their steady groth and increasing success, they remained fully committed to charity. Newman and Hotchner would sit down each year and review the applications and split the profits between educational and charitable organizations they felt most needed assistance.

In 1988, Newman's Own founded The Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Ashford CT, which is now part of a charitable organization that operates six camps for gravely ill children. Named after the outlaw characters in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", they are a nonprofit residential camp for children with cancer and other serious diseases. The original camp is tucked away in the acres of woods and is much like the movie sets Newman worked on for years, from the fron it looks like a western style town with shops but behind, there are state of the art facilities that can accomodate almost any illness a child may suffer from.

In 1990, Newman's Own sponsered it's first recipe contest which required that each entry use a Newman's Own product. The top prize of $50,000 was given to the charity of the winner's choice and it was entertaining to watch Newman, Hotchner and sometimes Woodward, personally tasting all the finalist entries. As early as 1993, Newman's Own had given aid to 460 applicants, the highest number in a single year for the company.

Newman's third daughter, Nell brainstormed the idea and sold it to her father for Newman's Own Organics: The Second Generation, a divsion that would develope products that used certified organic ingredients. They have also become the focus of a course at Fairfield University School of Business in Fairfield CT and particpate with them hands-on. Teams of students are invited to brainstorm new products and plan marketing strategies for the Westport company along with the help of management, finance and marketing professors. At the end of the term, they have to report their findings and the top two teams have $2,500 to their favorite charities.

In November 1999, the announcement was made that Paul Newman had passed the $100 million dollar mark in charitable giving since his company had begun. Over 2,000 charitable and educational organizations have benefitted from his donations. Oprah Winfrey made notice of Newman's donations as well in an April 2000 show of her "Angel Network." She announced the establishment of a weekly "Use Your Life " award of $50.000, funded in part by Paul Newman.

"If we stop having fun, we're closing up shop," stated Paul Newman.

While Newman may now be facing health issues as well as choosing to slow down in life, he is still very involved in the company. His daughter's division, run with her business partner, Peter Meehan contiues to grow and expand, adding new products to their line as well. Paul Newman has proven that Hollywood doesn't create monsters of all it's stars and those in his hometown and those touched by his advocacy and charity, will remember him as much more than a good looking, wisecracking actor with devastating blue eyes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chicken nuggets?

Monday, in Simsbury CT, there was the beginnngs of an odd event. A motorist on Powder Forest Dr there, noticed a whole raw chicken lying on the side of the road at about 9 am. I know, it sounds a bit odd but it evidently gets even more odd. While it isn't exactly common to find a whole chicken lying on the roadside, it is very uncommon to find it stuffed with a pipe bomb.

The road was closed off while the Hartford Police Department's bomb squad came and did what any bomb squad does..... they blew up the bomb and the chicken hiding it. According to Police Capt Matthew Catania, it was large enough to cause harm to a person if it went off.

I do wonder though, was the chicken large enough to cause harm if it had "gone off" to roost on another street, did he mean that the bomb was large enough, was it simply a case of attempted suicide by a now embaressed and naked chicken and lastly... how does one actually notice a chicken lying on the side of the road at 9 am?

According to police, no one was injured and no arrests had been made by Monday night and there was no word on what became of the exploding chicken.

Monday, June 9, 2008

All monsters, no dwarfs.........

The setting is a suburban primary school, the stage has been set and the lights are lowered. The audience of parents are much like those in many other school districts, patiently awaiting their chance to see their child perform in the school play. This year, they are waiting to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but they probably should have just ordered a Woody Allen film from Blockbuster. This particular presentation has been altered ever so slightly.... okay, it's been changed in a major way. There are no dwarfs, no wicked witch, no chorus of "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work we go." The entire cast is composed of 25 Snow Whites.

The children at this primary school in Japan are the offspring of a new generation there aptly dubbed "Monster Parents." They had bullied, heckeled, nuisance phone called the school until the teachers gave in and admitted to the "injustice" of selecting just one girl to play Snow White. Teachers across Japan have been reporting similar changes in the character of parents, after years and decades of respectful silence, they have become what is described as an army of super-aggressive complainers.

Japan's media has chosen to demonise them and shows the monster parents as a symptom of a society that has lost all respect for it's decorum and traditions. The parents believe they are champions of basic consumer rights but either way, few deny that parents there have switched from supporting the rigid education system to attacking it. Previously, parents apologised to a teacher when their child was in trouble, today they try to get them fired for anything that may be seen as a disadvantage to their child.

Dozens of educators have been forced to resign when faced with the fury of parents there now. Yoshih Morotomi, of Meiji University, has written a new book that lists hundreds of incidents from parents secretly placing cameras in their child's classroom to them demanding that sports results be changed to reflect their wishes, not the actual results.

"The monsters are created in family restaurants and coffee shops - places where the mothers meet each other to talk and relax. Simple chats spiral into emergency meetings." stated Morotomi.

Professor Morotomi goes on to describe what he feels is the worst category of monster parent currently in Japan, a group he calls the "teacher hunters." Those are parents who conspire in small groups and may even use the tactics of physically mobbing their victim near the school grounds and screaming abuse until a letter of resignation is signed on the spot. He believes that what were once small complaints by parents have now spiraled into more emotional and radical methods by the parents to get what they feel is best for their children.

This sudden switch many believe, is a symptom of deeper social troubles at the heart of Japan, troubles that began during Japan's long ecomomic downturn in the 1990's and are only now begining to surface. Unfortunately, this isn't a new behavior for parents in the United States it seems as more incidents of parents bullying teachers and school systems are reported.

In 2001, Christine Pelton, a Piper High School teacher in Kansas, decided to flunk 28 of her students for plagiarizing their biology project. She had noticed almost identical material in their papers. At least three patents then complained to the school board and demanded that the grades be changed but few felt that the fact that their child had been caught cheating was a large issue. The school board gave into pressure and changed the failing grades to give them partial credit for the project.

"It's not going to benefit the kids to go back and change their grades," stated Pelton.

After the school board meeting that reversed the grades and then upheld the decision, Pelton stated that she felt that they had undermined her as a teacher. She added that it was too late to restore the grades that had been left as failed until a final decision was made. Pelton had resigned from her teaching position there, rather than change the students grades to suit the board and the parents. Principal Mike Adams, who supported Pelton in her decision to fail the students, planned to leave the school after the academic year as well.

At Bardswell High School in Kentucky in 2001, 118 seniors were caught copying and pasting copying and pasting from the internet, sometimes including entire stories. The punishment was to write one essay on the evils of plagiarism. No members of the National Honors Society had their memberships pulled and one of those caught cheating remained the class valedictorian. Teachers throughout the United States report that even when they catch students cheating, they and their parents don't think it is a big deal.

"It's naive to think that once a student has a high school diploma or a Harvard diploma that all of a sudden they become an ethical person. Where that leads you to is a very ugly society in the future," stated John Barrie, a Berkeley biophysic's graduate.

It would almost seem that the United States has managed to export the idea that we are a very privilaged society and that no child should have to face "damage" of failure or being left out. What they do face though, is the loss of the opportunity of actual achievement it would seem, of succeeding on their own two feet.

Photo is of Christine Pelton

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A tipping point?

"Tell the truth and then they have an easier time adjusting to it. The city is out of control. There is no law. There is no consequence for people's actions. The whole attitude of ' Me first and to heck with my neighbor' has become the status quo here, and it is a serious problem," stated J Stan McCauley.

McCauley, a former mayoral candidate and cable access television personality, compared Hartford CT to an alcoholic, whose first step toward recovery should be to acknowledge a problem. That acknowledgement by Hartford Police Chief Daryl Robert's and his public declaration that Hartford has become toxic in it's level of incivility has sparked anger, questions and introspection among many in the state. Both leaders and resident now wonder if the capital city has reached a tipping point with the events of the past week.

On Friday afternoon, May 30 2008, the hit-and-run accident that left Angel Arce Torres, 78 paralized and lying in the middle of Park St, was caught on tape and was in full view of both passing motorists and onlookers. On Monday, a savage beating and robbery left the former Deputy Mayor Nicholas Carbone in the hospital with severe head injuries and facing the possibility of surgery. Two days later, on Wednesday, police discovered the badly decomposed body of a man in the basement of a recently foreclosed home.

Roberts reacted to those recent incidents with anger on Wednesday, saying the acts were inhumane, that the city had lost it's moral compass and had a toxic relationship with ourselves. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez held a press conference on Thursday, in what he called a show of solidarity and called on the help of citizens to help solve the crimes in the past week. The critics of Perez have accused him of concentrating on selling the city and it's dropping crime rate and not focusing on owning up to it's real problems.

Angel Arce, Torres' son attended that conference and stated that he has refused to watch the video of his father being hit. He did ask for justice for his father though. Roberts has stated that he doesn't believe that anyone called 911 after the accident but Perez countered with a statement that said that he believed that within a minute of the accident, there were four calls to 911. Those calls according to him were for an ambulences, described the cars involved and where they were heading.

Perez went on to say that he felt Robert's had reacted to the graphic images of the video and he felt that the resident's of the city have morals and a resevoir of goodwill. Robert's didn't speak at that conference but did answer a reporters question about his earlier statements by backing off of them. stating that he had been very angry the day before.

Many however feel that Robert's comment on Wednesday were the first candid ones about the situation in Hartford in camparison to what they feel was Perez's sugar coating initial response. Steve Harris, a neighborhood leader in the North End and a former councilman stated that he first felt angry that "we have become so uncaring and desenitized that we allow this stuff to go on." Harris goes on to state that he has confidence in Robert's who grew up in the city but he added that Hartford has many quality of life issues that need to be dealt with. He felt that Perez spends too much time trying to convince people that it is safe to eat and play in the downtown area and little time listening to the average citizen in Hartford.

"I think government provides infrastructure for maintaining law and order but government doesn't make people behave properly. The only way we can make that happen is if people make that their standard," stated Robert Painter.

Painter, a former Republican city councilman, stated that he felt Robert's had hit the issue right on the head. He did agree that no one wants to hear "spin" from city hall that crime is down, rather they want their politicians to respond in a way that is realistic. Painter went on to state that he felt that the problem wasn't in a breakdown of goverment but in a breakdown of family and community.

For those who commute into the city of Hartford to work, there seems to be a wall around the downtown area that isolates them from the rest of the city and it's problems. Most who had been interviewed there on Thursday stated that they rarely linger there after work is out. Some felt that maybe the youth today were becoming desensitized to the "gore factor" and as a result, aren't sensitive when it happens to real people. Many of those interviewed did add that they only become concerned about the level of violence in the city when it comes into the downtown area where they work.

The city of Hartford hadn't even recovered from the shock of watching the video of Torres being run down on Park St when news came that former Deputy Mayor Nick Carbone had been brutally attacked while on his routine walk to breakfast in the city's Frog Hollow. Carbone, 71, of Park Place in Hartford apparently struck right between the eyes by his attackers on Monday while walking in the section of the city he had helped to revitalize in the 1980's and which has long been his home.

Carbone was found bloody and bruised at about 9:15 am Monday on a stone path that is used as a short cut from Laural St to Capital Ave and his wallet had been stolen. Because of the injuries to his face, doctors suspect that his attacker or attackers may have kicked him in the forehead. He is in stable condition and they are waiting on the report from the neurosurgeon as to whether he will need brain surgery but they do expect that he will have reconstructive facial surgery.

Carbone's son Michael described his father, a cancer survivor, as a man who refused to move from the city he loved. Carbone grew up in the South End and joined the city council in 1969 and was elected majority leader in 1971. While in city hall serving a decade as the deputy mayor, he spearheaded construction of roads, schools, garages and a police station. Under his leadership, the city filed lawsuits and administration challenges to utility increases, discriminatory sububan housing practices and the state property tax system.

Carbone has never left politics in the city, still serving on the city's Democratic town committee and he has long been involved in a federal court dispute between city officials and citizens who have complained about police brutality.

"He was proud of his city. He was never scared. It was 9:15 am, not three o'clock in the morning. We've passed the threshold. It has reached a level of lawlessness. We need to do something. I don't think city hall or the police department understands the nature of violence in this city. We're in bad shape," stated community activist Carmen Rodriguez.

Marilyn Rossetti, who served on the city council and now runs Hartford Areas Rally Together stated that she takes two messages from Carbone's assault: First, violent crime doesn't only happen at night and second, no one is immune from random acts of violence. The police are still searching for the two vehicles involved in Torres' hit-and-run and and an unknown number of suspects in the beating of Carbone. They have asked for the help of the community in solving these cases, the same public who seemed to not care when they happened.

Sadly, it seems to be true of both incidents in Hartford................... no one is immune from random acts of violence, though one can work to make sure that a victim isn't left to lie in the road like a piece of garbage anymore. Hartford CT is no different than many cities across the United States, we may well have become a society of "me first and to hell with helping my neighbor in trouble."

For the video, go here.

Photos include, map of the accident scene, stills from the video and photo of Nick Carbone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

pieces uncovered, pieces in place..........

The investigation into the Greystone crash that claimed 5 young men's lives is still continuing and more has been revealed. On Wednesday, June 4 2008, the FHP released an 88 page report in relation to the accident.

They noted that the BMW was traveling at 120 mph when it hit the trees at the end of the 7,550 foot runway. Their conclusion was that Ammirato was traveling well in excess of that speed before he hit the brakes and left 219 feet of skid marks on the runway and grass before going airborne 166 feet to impact with the stand of trees. A car traveling 155 mph will travel the length of football field in almost the blink of an eye and even at 120 mph, it took less that two seconds from the time Ammirato hit the brakes until the car hit the tree.

The report goes on to state that they believe that Ammirato, unfamiliar with the runway, basically overdrove his headlights at that speed. They also state that tests showed that only one passenger, Natalie Thayer's boyfriend, Isaac Rubin, 20, had alcohol in their system. He had a blood alcohol content of 0.103 and the legal limit is 0.08. The FHP is confident that Ammirato had not drank that night but they did add that the other young men could have drank earlier in the evening.

Other points that are noted in their report is their confidence that there was no second car at the runway that night, even though there had been reports that there was. They stated that they based that on a lack of any evidence found proving there was a second vehicle. Their investigation also found that some of the young adults at an earlier party had decided to move their group to the party to Jumbolair. About 15 people gathered at the pool house there to drink and play cards and the FHP found that they had all been given the gate code to get to the pool house. The investigation found though, that all but the five young men left around 3 am and they also noted that they have a video shot by a surveillance camera of the BMW racing down the runway. That video shows only headlights racing by and ends before the car began braking and crashed.

Two arrests have also been made in connection with the crash that night. On Tuesday, Jolane McAlister, 43, was charged with six misdemeanors in connection with providing alcohol to underage drinkers, most between the ages of 16 and 20, at two January keg parties. One of those parties was held hours before the crash and when that party wound down, the 15 moved to the pool house to continue.

The report details the alleged keg party which was held at her Tara Stables farm in the Cherokee River subdivision. Numerous witness reports state that McAlister was seen several times at the party before at least three kegs ran dry by 12:30 am, approximately three hours before the crash. One witness, Christopher C Whitehurst stated that he arrived at the keg party to find about 300 kids and 4-5 kegs of beer there and Colin Brennan's mom ( McAlister), handing out plastic cups.

The second arrest came late day on Wednesday, when Natalie Thayer, 20, was arrested and charged with providing false statements to law enforcement. Natalie had told the FHP that she was asleep in the hours leading up to the January crash but the investigators had found out differently. Natalie had held the after keg party gathering at her family's Jumbolair Aviation Estates pool house and then lied about her whereabouts.

Several witnesses reported that Thayer was at the pool house, which is near her apartment at Jumbolair, which her parents, Jeremy and Terri Thayer own, in the hours before the crash. It is believed that Thayer was the one who gave the access code to the gate to the pool house partiers. Thayer had told authorities through her lawyer, that she would turn herself in on Tuesday but she didn't and by Wednesday morning, she was considered a fugitive. She did finally show up by noon on Wednesday and was booked on the misdemeanor charge that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. She left jail about two hours later, escorted by her lawyer, Bill Ramputi and a private investigator, Jamie Sheppard. She covered her face when she left and stated, finally, that she had no comment.

Assistant State Attorney Rick Ridgway stated that it is possible that there will be more arrests, but he wouldn't say whether they are definate. He did add that the mostly likely person, if anyone, to have been charged with direct criminal responsibility for it, would be the driver who died along with his four friends.

While both of the women charged may not have directly involved with the crash, what they did shouldn't be viewed as "nothing" either. McAlister is alleged to have allowed more than a few teens to share a couple six-packs at her house, the witness reports state that there were kegs of beer and several hundred underage drinkers on her property

Thayer did more than lie to the police about being asleep during those hours, she allegedly gave out the code so that the young people, including the five who died later, could enter the gated community. To add to her record of telling the truth, it seems that she still has difficulty with it........ first telling the police when she would turn herself in on Tuesday and then, not sticking to that truth. I do believe that there will be more pieces of the crash puzzle to be revealed in the future, but we may never know why Ammirato chose to race down that runway with four of his friends in the car.

For earlier posts, go here and here.

photos are of Thayer leaving jail and McAlister's booking photo.
What I thought would be a brief break from writing, evidently became much more than brief as life and the weeks rolled by. I have returned to see what havoc is left to create........

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dancing too close?

Stephen Chang, a New York City NY securities trader, evidently was enjoying a night away from his wife at the Hot Lap Dance Club when he suffered an injury. He has now filed suit because of that injury at the club near Madison Square Garden in Manhattan's Supreme Court.

A man who identified himself as the club manager stated that he was unaware of the accident or the lawsuit and the club's lawyer, Stephen Ateshoglou, didn't return a call for comment. Chang though, stated that he was injured by one of the dancers in the club while she was giving him a lap dance.

Before you bust out laughing when you imagine what his injury could be, please be advised that it isn't ...... that. He claims that when the stripper was giving him a paid lap dance, she swiveled and smacked him in the face with one of her heels. The heel of her shoe hit him in the eye and caused him serious injuries at approximately 1 am on November 2 2007.

The club describes itself on it's own Web site as the "Playboy Mansion of Manhattan party lofts" and is located at 38th and Nineth Ave. The cost of admission is a "paltry" $50 plus a $10 one-time newcomers fee. They also list the cost of lap dances as being around $40 but it isn't clear what type of dance Chang had purchased. What could be telling is the description of it's dancers on the site...... they are described as being hand picked and have killer bodies and are 18 to 29 years old.

One has to wonder though.... what exactly was the dancer doing that involved both Mr. Cang's lap and his eye and will Mrs. Chang also have to sue for any loss of life because of her husband's injuries.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cute as a button.....

The sound of you firing up the 3-cylinder, 70 horsepower engine won't cause anyone to jerk their head around to stare at a driver. It's ever so cute look though, seems to cause both pedestrians and drivers to give it a second look or at the very least, right of way most times.

The "SmartforTwo" car has entered the "elite" gang of miniature cars now being offered in an attempt to save gas. One recent review of it's ride though left me wondering what were they thinking when they developed this teeny weeny shoebox of a car.

It seems that when the car is driven in automatic, it can't decide what gear it really wants to stay in but it does manage to tell you which one it has chosen with a very noticable jerk. The driver can choose to use a clutchless manual mode with paddle shifts on the steering wheel to convince the car of which gear you wish, though somehow, I can't really see why paddle shift technology would be a good choice for 3 cylinders. The driver reported that he usually left it in second gear for a tiny bit more power even though the engine screamed it's protest.

The other major issue mentioned was the less than comfortable ride it offered, though it was roomy enough to make you forget that you were driving a shoebox. Every bump, crack and pothole is more than announced to anyone inside and you either take to swerving your way along the road or settle for "bump, ow, bump, ow" for your whole trip.

There are some advantages to the "Smart" car such as it's ability to squeeze into small holes in traffic and for parking curbside. No one will take it seriously if you think you can try and drive it aggressively in traffic but around town, it gets quite a lot of goodwill. There is even a convertible model, to give you a breath of fresh air while driving your tuna can.

One can choose to save money, ease congestion in the world and save on fuel usage with the "Smart" car or one could always just take to driving one of those tiny cars in the circus as well. The "Smart" car is priced at $16,000, far more than the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris and isn't anywhere as well built as those two entries in the tiny sardine car class.

For a related post, go here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What a fine mess Yogi

"It attacked the beehives again," stated Zoran Kiseloski.

That attack in Bitola, Macedonia came after the generator failed for Kiseloski and he filed a complaint with the courts there. He evidently was running lights and was playing Serbian turbo-folk music loudly in hopes of thwarting the attacks.

Kiseloski's generator ran out of power and the music stopped though and that is when he stated, his beehives were attacked again....... by a bear. Easy to add up really, beehives + honey + bear equals a loss of income for the beekeeper. what isn't so easy to understand is that the courts brought the bear up on the theft charges.

Zoran Kiseloski told the court how he attempted to prevent the bear from attacking his hives to steal the honey and how he had failed. More difficult to even understand is that the court found the un-named bear guilty of the honey thefts. They also determined that the bear had no owner and it is a protected species, so they ordered the state to pay 140,000 denars ( USD 3,545 ) for the damage to Kiseloski's hives.

It seems that the bear may also be unaware of his guilt, since it was excused from appearing in court and at last report, it's location is unknown. I do understand the need to have the funds to repair the hives but to bring an unknown bear into court to face the music for what comes naturally..... it's probably a good that Yogi and Boo Boo don't live there.

Friday, March 14, 2008


For years we have been fighting a war on drugs, trying to keep our children from the lure of gangs and the dangers of the streets. Now I see that there is even more proof that we may not be doing enough to keep them from the dangers that lurk in darkened hallways in their schools.

Michael Sheridan, an honors student in New Haven CT has been stripped of his title of class vice president, barred from attending an honors student dinner and suspended from school after his violation of school policy. It seems that he had been caught buying contraband from a fellow student, something parents may fear their children may be enticed to do in some situations.

School spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo stated that his purchase violated a 2003 ban set in place within the New Haven school system as part of a districtwide school wellness policy. Sheridan though didn't get caught purchasing drugs, steroids or even stolen property....... he was caught buying a package of Skittles candy on February 26 2008, from another student. The New Haven schools it seems, have banned candy sales as part of wellness policy.

The eighth grader Sheridan stated that he hadn't realized that his buying the candy was against school policy but he noted that the student selling it was a bit "secretive" in offering it up for sale to him. Sheridan has had his suspension reduced from three days to one day and in what may be a response to public knowledge of his case, he will be reinstated as class vice president and his record will be expunged of the suspension. The "candy dealing" fellow student will also have their record expunged of their suspension.

I understand the need for rules and penalties for violating them but in comparison to the crimes that take place in and around our nation's schools....... three days suspension for a bag of candy? That almost makes me afraid to ask what the penalty there would be for something serious.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Now that's warm

It may have been the call of nature or the outside temperatures on Feb 27 2008 that led a Yorktown NY man to order coffee as he did. John Greco, 46, of Croton-on-Hudson, used the drive-through lane at a local Dunkin Donuts shop that day and an employee there saw more than they wanted to.

Police state that they aren't sure how he took his coffee that day but they do know that he didn't have his pants on when he took his order from the window. The worker there saw Greco's exposed genitals and made a note of the make of his car and his license number for police.

Greco is now charged with misdemeanor public lewdness after his arrest last week and he is due in court on March 27. Greco stated by telephone that he had no comment about the police report.

I am only going to take a guess here but the temps in late Feb in NY would have to be somewhere around the range that he certainly would have noticed that he had run out of the house pantless accidently. Of course, that may be why he needed a coffee to warm up a certain area of his anatomy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pretty in pink......

"Cici will be pink until they kick us out of the city of Boulder," stated Joy Douglas.

The officials at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley CO, issued Joy Douglas, owner of the Zing Salon, a ticket on March 1 2008 for violating Section 6-1-14 of Boulder's city code. She is now facing a $1,000 fine for dying her miniature poodle Cici, pink.

That code titled "Dyeing fowl and rabbits" is the center of her court battle now, since she claims that she didn't break that law. She colored her dog with beet juice and occasionally used Kool-Aid and therefore, only stained her dog. She stated that she has done this to raise awareness for breast cancer and makes for a good opportunity to talk to people about it.

Douglas has had her day in court postponed now that she has hired an attorney to help her fight the charge. She had brought Cici to court with her but was forced to leave her outside the Boulder County Justice Center. Douglas has a new court date of April 7 and she plans to take her fight to the end since she believes that her staining has done nothing to harm or abuse her pet.

With all the abuses being heaped on abandoned pets and involving dog fighting out there.... I would think that the Humane Society can find better uses for it's money than fighting pink poodles.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We won't pay!

There seems to be a small revolt forming in Rockville MD these days. In at least eight months of 2007, motorists haven't been paying the $40 speeding tickets that are due from being caught on camera speeding.

The motorists who haven't bothered to pay their tickets are police officers who were clocked going more than 10 mph over the speed limit. Supervisors have dismissed 76 of the 224 tickets issued to officers after it was determined that those officers were responding to calls or had valid reasons for speeding.

With a bit of simple math though, that leaves 148 who didn't have an excuse and two thirds of those haven't been paid yet. The police union claims that the owner of the vehicles should be paying the ticket and that would be the county. I wonder why they think that the officers should be allowed to use that excuse when I am sure that owners of civilian vehicles probably have already unsuccessfully tried that path in court to escape a ticket they didn't incur.

Police Chief Thomas Manger has stated that he doesn't buy that argument and that officers aren't above the law. It's nice to hear someone take that stand but Manger added, those officers who continue to not pay "might" be disciplined. They might be disciplined? I would expect that they should face the same penelties that any other driver faces for not paying their fines because they aren't above the law.... they should be an example of following the law if they think they are going to arrest civilians for the same crimes.

Two posts that aim for my funnybone.....

A thank you to Mike at the Lamplighter for digging up a few posts that travel the same path as my choices at times.......... kind of makes me wonder what the world would do without these people.

Check out these posts, here and here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Which way to Vegas?

Some of the residents of The Legends community in Middletown NJ may very well be asking that question now. The Middletown police arrested three people after a stakeout and raid recently at a home on Little Circle.

The police surveillance operation began there after they had received several complaints about various parking violations in the area of the home. What they discovered was that the parking situation was the tip of the iceberg. The home was hosting illegal poker games and sports betting.

This evidently wasn't the ordinary beer and chips friendly weekly game either. Police state that on occasion, there were barmaids serving booze and topless dealers at these games. They added that they seized gaming tables, computers, a list of players and a credit card machine.

William "Shane" Anderson, his wife Laurie and Matthew Balotin were all charged with advanced gambling, conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. It seems though that their "patrons" will have to manage to get there thrills in another town and hope that they can get that friendly, down-home service from topless dealers elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

O J should be proud......

On Tuesday, Stephen Ray Castor, 53, made his first appearance in Vancouver WA and he is set to appear again, this Friday. The question looming before the court though, is what constitutes a motor vehicle?

"I thought, 'This did not just happen!' " stated Jason Taylor.

Casotr of 818 W 24th St, began the day's events by allegedly cursing out Jason Taylor and the proceeded to drive through his fence and smashed a window of his house with a lawn chair. He then rode across West Fourth Plain Boulevard and then kept going south on Harney St.

This led to the kind of police chase that would make O J Simpson look like a speed demon. At 5 pm that evening, Castor led the police on a 3 mph chase while he tried to escape on his riding lawnmower. On Harney St, Officer Hibbard stopped his police car, jumped out and ordered Castor to stop. Castor though contined on towards the officer who managed to sdiestep the mower at the last moment and several other officers managed to grab Castor and pull him off the mower.

Castor is now being held on a $40,000 bail and may be charged with third degree assault and criminal mischief. They are also investigating if he will be charged with DUI, though this depends on whether Washington state law, RCW 46, would cover operating a lawnmower while under the influence... as driving drunk.

That certainly would be something of a "rep" to brag about in jail... dragged from his mower by several officers while "driving drunk." For his first court appearance, Castor again was at the wheel. This time though, he was in a wheelchair.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A parent's example.....

"I'm not totally happy with the outcome. It was a bit of a slap on the wrist," stated Stephen Wines.

Anthony and Donna Alvino paid their $4,600 in fines and court costs Monday after they pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges. They were spared jail time under an agreement with the Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office and the felony charges against them were dropped.

The Alvino's son was sentenced to 36 months in jail in January for striking Wines daughter, 19 in Storrs CT and then driving off. She died two days later. The Alvinos admitted that three days after the Jan 2007 accident, they drove from their Lindenhurst home to St Bonaventure University to retrieve the SUV driven by their son. They each pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and attempting to tamper with evidence.

The "bit of a wrist slap" includes the fact that they didn't have to admit to allegations that they encouraged their son and his passengers to cover up the accident or that they had considered having the SUV repaired to cover up the damage to it. Raymond Perini, the Alvinos attorney, stated that the punishment was appropriate. He added that there were two days of indecision but that they sat down, got counsel and then did everything right.

I find that difficult to believe, since it was weeks after the accident when they finally made the state police in Connecticut aware that they had possession of the vehicle involved and still later before they turned over their son. It was more than an allegation that they encouraged their son and his friends to be quiet..... four young people shut their mouths for weeks as to what had happened that night.

This was not a pair of parents who agonized for a couple of days as to how best to helptheir son, these are two parents who went to great length to try and help their son to evade responsibility and dragged his witnessing friends into that plan. The Wines family has lost a child forever and their son received a fairly light sentence... now his parents skip going to jail and collect $200 it seems. The only one left with charges pending is their son's former girlfriend, Michelle Hall. Sadly, in light of the sentences given out already, I think she also will get not too severe a slap on the wrist as well.

For an earlier post, go here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rock, paper, scissors?

For the second time in several months, the Subway restaurant on Boulevard in West Hartford CT was robbed. The suspect was described as a tall, thin male in his early 20's.

He robbed the restaurant on December 30 2007 in the evening and the employee gave him the money after they were threatened with a weapon. This latest robbery involved a similar threat and weapon. It seems that this young man only implied that he had a gun....... he did use a visable rock though. The employee in Dec was threatened with a rock as well.

No mention was made as to how large this rock was and whether it had really sharp or dangerous edges to it. It does possibly mean that this young man hasn't managed to save enough money for even a fake gun.

I do wonder though....... if they were different rocks used in both robberies and he tossed them aside after running from the store....... how exactly will the police find and determine which rock was the weapon used?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ridiculous revisited

"It's a ridiculous number. I had to come up with a number that was significant enough that might force them to pay attention to me," stated Raelyn Campbell.

Raelyn Campbell, 37, filed her lawsuit Nov 16 2007 in Washington Superior Court against Best Buy Co. Campbell, a Washington D C resident claims that the Richfield-based company failed to immediately notify her of the posibility of identity theft and she also wants to ensure customer privacy protection in the future. She claims that Best Buy lost her laptop computer while it was in for repairs and then tried to cover up the disappearance.

What makes up the majority of the ridiculous number she is sueing for is based on what she claims are the cost of her computer, expenses for identity theft protection and punitive damages. A Best Buy spokesman stated that the company had already given Campbell $1,110.35 for the cost of the laptop and warrenty along with a $500 gift card.

Campbell acknowledges that sometime in October, the $1,110.35 credit appeared on her credit card and she didn't know why it had but kept it to pay her expenses. She added that she tried to return the giftcard and when that failed, she donated it.

This all began when Campbell brought her one year old laptop in to have a power switch worked on. The $1,000 14-inch computer was about a year old and she claims that it was "stolen" while in their care sometime after May 25 but she wasn't informed of that until Aug 9 2007. She posted in her blog that Best Buy had upped it's offer to $2,500 with nondisclosure and non-liability provisions. It would seem that Best Buy, even though they lost her computer, had tried to offer a reasonable amount of money to cover her expenses.

Evidently, Campbell has taken a few notes from Roy Pearson in D C, since she is now sueing for $54 million. It's those darn punitive damages in Washington that just seem to add up so quickly. Maybe she could look into hiring Pearson for her lawsuit, since his lawsuit has failed miserably and he doesn't have a job or his $54 million pants from the dry cleaners yet.

For related posts, go here and here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Houston, the "Fins" have landed......

"They were very happy, I think they want to have another flight," stated Professor Reinhard Hilbig.

On Thursday, it wasn't the "Fins" that took to flight but a small group of Germans from a launch pad in northern Sweden. German researchers sent them on a ten minute rocket ride to study the effects of weightlessness on the group of seventy-two during that short flight.

Hilbig stated that the German team hoped the experiment could explain why some people experience motion sickness and others do not in similar situations. To find that answer, the thumbnail-sized cichlids were chosen for the space flight. He added that the mechanisms for motion sickness are similar in fish and humans.

The cichlids were filmed as they swam around weightless in small aquariums during the unmanned space flight. The researchers will now study that film to find if any of the fish swam around in circles during the flight, since that is what they do when they experience motion sickness.

The fish all landed safely and appear to be in good health. Cichlids were chosen since they believed that they would have the best chance to survive the stress of the space flight. Goldfish it was explained, are a bit too messy and fat to have been good candidates for the short mission in space.

I am not sure though.... would the messy part come from their collision with the sides of the tanks from G-forces and has it been proven that they circle from the motion sickness or from their search for a fish sized barf bag?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Whew, Mickey!

On Wednesday, U S District Judge Gregory A Presnell dismissed a suit that had been filed against Walt Disney World in 2007. That lawsuit was aimed at forcing the company to allow disabled guests to use two-wheeled Segways in it's theme parks.

"We asked for dismissal and the court agreed it was appropriate. We provide a variey of accomodations to guests with disabilities, which allow them to fully enjoy our theme parks," stated Disney World Acting Vice President Jacquee Polak.

Judge Presnell dismissed the suit from the U S District Court for the Middle District of Florida after he agreed with Walt Disney World's contention that none of the three who had brought the suit had shown any intention of visiting the parks in the near future. The two men from Illinois and a woman from Iowa had contended that Walt Disney World violated the had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by forbidding the use of Segways within the park.

The three had been seeking to gain a class-action status with their suit which could have potentially opened the suit up to thousands of Segway users nationwide. Disney on the other hand, had claimed that they offer adequate accomodations for the disabled and they had no way of determining if users of the Segways had been trained properly in their use in large crowds. They had stated that they had serious concerns as to the safety of their other guests in the park from Segways being used in the often large crowds.

While this may settle the immediate concerns raised by the lawsuit that had been filed, I am sure that it may be revisited in the future if the use of Segways by disabled persons were to increase. Disney has valid concerns and they as well as SeaWorld Orlando will continue to ban the use of them in their parks for now.

For an earlier post, go here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It wasn't worth the money

In June of 2007, Charles Chambers, 33, was arrested on drug charges and had $2,000 seized from him by the police. He recently decided to return to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office in Anderson SC to see if they would return the money to him.

Chambers evidently felt that demanding the return of his money would work but the deputies felt differently then. They told him to leave the office on Tuesday and while he left, an officer noticed that the car he got into, matched the description of a stolen car. That car had been stolen only three hours earlier and when another officer pulled him over and stop the car, he noticed that Chambers had to use a screwdriver to shut off the engine.

It seems that the ignition key switch had been removed and Chambers was using the "universal" key to drive it. To add to his predicament of driving a stolen car......He was charged with driving under suspension, a tag violation and possession of a stolen vehicle.

It would seem that Chambers will need more than his seized $2,000 now to help pay for his stupidity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Move it, or it's towed

"I pulled one blanket and that's when I saw my daughter's leg. I saw her leg and her toes," stated Tracy Ponce.

Relatives of Eileen Orta, 22, of Pomona CA had reported her missing several days before and the police had a missing person's report, complete with a description of her vehicle. On Friday, they were called to come remove her minivan from a parking space where it was illegally parked.

That minivan had been discovered parked in a spot reserved for a police official at the Pomona Superior Court and her reletives were informed that if they didn't come down and remove the van, it would be towed and impounded. Tracy Ponce stated that she moved one of the blankets that were piled in the van and that was when she saw her daughter's leg. In fact, her daughter was dead and hidden under the blankets.

The police stated that there was no way that they could have known that her body was in there according to Pomona Police Chief Joe Romeo. He added that they didn't have the authority search the vehicle or break windows to get into it.

Ponce though stated that the windows were rolled down in the minivan when they arrived at it and although the police may have had no authority to search an abandoned vehicle, they had a missing person's report that included that vehicle. She questioned why it wasn't searched because it should have been found that it belonged to a missing person. She added that she would like to know if her daughter may have been found alive if it had been searched when it was found.

Orta was pronouced dead at the scene and an autopsy revealed that she died from a stab wound to the neck. Police admit that in hindsight, they could have gone over the van better than was done.

Eileen Orta may have already been dead when her van was found but to think that her family was the one to find her after being told to come get her van..........that sounds like a bit more than just an oversight.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A little out there

A 35 year-old Fontana CA man was a robbery victim at around 9:15 pm Sunday night. He did escape with his wallet and money but lost what may have been dinner for the evening.

The man had just purchased $20 worth of tacos from a stand at the corner of San Bernadino and Fontana avenues and was riding his bicycle home with them when the robber sneaked up on him. Fontana police Sgt Jeff Decker stated that the robber approached the man saying 'Give me your tacos', grabbed the bag of them, punched the man in the face and began to run away.

The victim, who was on Hawthorne Ave, east of Catawba Ave when it occured, demanded his bag of tacos back from the robber. The suspect then pointed what appeared to be a black handgun at the victim. Only about five feet seperated the victim and the suspect when he threatened to kill him and took off running with the tacos.

The suspect is described as 25-30 years old, white, 5 feet- ten inches tall and 190 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt at the time of the robbery. Decker stated that it is more common to have a pizza delivery person to be robbed of food and/or money. An armed robbery for tacos and nothing else is a little out there in the crime world.

One has to wonder though......... if they do catch the suspect, will he be able to enjoy tacos in jail while he is enjoying the room and board there in the near future?

Monday, February 18, 2008

That guy Bob.....

They held a Valentine's Day recommitment service in Grove City OH at the Grove City Methodist Church. Sheila Smith had thought that she would serve only as the matron of honor for four of her friend's there.

It seems that even though she had wanted to participate, her husband Bob had to go away on business and that left only one half of the couple. With the help of her friend's though, Sheila was able to be one of the 19 couple's who recommited their relationships.

Her friends surprized her by bringing Blow-up Bob, a life-size inflatable doll. They dressed in a shirt, tie and dress pants and added the "sweet" touch of taping a headshot of the real Bob Smith to the doll's head. Sheila had to call her husband to tell him about his air-filled alter ego and between wiping tears, told her friends that Bob was laughing so hard at their effort that he was speechless.

Sometimes friends have a way it seems, of finding the one thing that will mean so much to someone they care about................ even if it isn't the most serious of gifts.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Axe me how......

"I had to bang the glass four times with the ax before the it broke," stated Geraldine Palmer.

Geraldine "Gerry" Palmer, 90, of Durango CO, accidently got herself locked outside her own home recently. She had gone outside to rearrange some things that had gotten wet on her patio and the sliding glass door locked behind her. It would seem that the easy thing to do would be walk to the front of the house or a neighbor, but the snow had formed a 7 foot high pile and blocked her from getting to her yard.

Using what must be "old fashioned" common sense, instead of panicking, Palmer did what she could. She picked up an old axe she had once used to chop wood and broke into her own home. Palmer didn't give up after the first swing either..... as she stated, she had to hit the door four times before she broke the glass and could reach in to unlock the door.

In these days of what seems to be the attitude of calling for help with a cellphone, Gerry Palmer quietly saved herself with determination and using her brains.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Peek-a-boo..... what the .....?

"I was in bed laying with my girl (and) I heard something rumbling underneath my bed. I thought it was my dog." stated Jeremy Lynn.

Jeremy stated that he did the next logical thing in his Greensboro NC home, he looked under the bed. He expected to see his dog looking back at him but instead, he saw eyes staring back at him that he didn't recognise. He added that he realized it was another man hiding under there and he proceeded to drag him out, sling him around, uppercut him and beat him.

Eventually the police were called and they arrested Donei Zabedra-Ilario, 20 and probably prevented him from receiving a more severe beating. Lynn stated that when he pulled Donei out from under his bed, his pants were undone the "whole nine yards."

Zabedra-Ilario told the police that this was the first time he had broken into a home, in hopes of seeing a woman naked but it wasn't the first time he had peeped. He has confessed to peeping into eight other homes in Greensboro and he is considered a suspect in a string of cases involving homes along Merritt Dr, Creek Ridge Rd and West Florida St. He is also suspected of spying on women in a Wal-Mart bathroom on Wendover Ave.

Jeremy Lynn ended his short career in the apartment along Pineland St, which according to police, was a good thing, since Donei had stated that he had planned on hiding there through the whole night. The police are in the process of notifying the other victims and they expect that more charges will be made against Donei.

One has to wonder though, with all the porn that is readily available......... what would make someone think that hiding in an apartment for a peek, was a bright thing? For a few dollars, he could have had one lap dance for him probably.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fun on four wheels

It seems that the fun that can be found while driving hasn't lessened any among drivers. Winter brings a whole new opportunity to explore what can be done with a vehicle.

On Monday, Feb 4 2008, drivers in Manchester took to off-road fun in the late hours. They began by driving through a four-foot embankment of snow and proceeeded out onto the public ice rink. It had to look pretty cool and feel awesome to be out there with a vehicle sliding around and doing donuts for everyone else to watch.

Unfortunately, the still unknown participants did so much damage to the very popular ice rink, that it has had to be closed for the season. Officials are hoping to have the financing in place to be able to repair it and have it ready for the public to enjoy ice skating on in 2009.

Lindsey Ann Robbins, 24, of Bristol found another way to enjoy a motor vehicle on Feb 7. She evidently really needed to take a late night drive and didn't want to let a small problem with what could be considered a non-essential piece of equipment stop her. It may also have been a touch of alcohol that led her to not notice the she was dragging a very noisey and sparking bumper behind her car.

East Hartford police managed to track her down and pull her over, possibly by following the brightly lit trail she was leaving down the roads. Robbins also failed the field sobriety test and was arrested.

It does seem that American's love of cars still is going strong, whether it be on the roads legally, or creatively.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Look Boris.... not just flying squirrel

"They can fly and they can land. Just not very well," stated Howard Peterson.

Howard Peterson, the swing-shift Alaska State Trooper based in Girdwood was driving on the Seward Highway Feb 2 2008 when something big and black came falling from the sky. It landed about 20 feet from his car that night and he stated that all he could think of, was that it was a falling rock. He braced himself to steer clear of it if it bounced his way on the road.

When the rock didn't shatter or bounce though, his mind could only come up with one crazy image........ falling moose? The moose landed on the road only a few feet from his car and he estimates that it fell about 150 feet off the roadside cliff. Then he stated, he began to wonder...... had the moose jumped?

"How would you say it -- moose-icide? He probably thought he was the only moose, with all those sheep around," stated Peterson.

Most likely though is that something spooked the moose and it just misstepped. Wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott stated that moose don't usually jump but he does feel that it may have just slipped of stepped too close to the edge and the snow gave way under it. Sinnott has seen many and heard many ways that moose have found to die from falling through ice and off small banks, jumping off railroad bridges at the sound of a train and even has seen two bull moose who died while rutting because their antlers became hooked together with a strand of barbed wire. He doesn't believe that they jump off 150 foot high cliffs.

Peterson though thinks they may have to add a new sign to that stretch of highway.... "Caution - falling moose." The moose didn't die in vain though, Peterson snapped a few pictures of it and then contacted a group that salvages road kill so that it was donated to charity.

Evidently, Rocky has lost his partner Bullwinkle, all because he chose to not pull a rabbit out of a hat, but instead..... wanted to see what it was like to fly.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lawn ranger: the finale

"She ends up with a sentence that is very minimal and shouldn't intrude terribly on her day-to-day life. For the most part, it accomplishes what we set out to accomplish from the very beginning," stated prosecutor Andrew Peterson.

This past Friday, Betty Perry, 70, of Orem Utah, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a $100 fine in order to resolve her pending case. She was set to trial on Monday on a more serious charge of resisting arrest but now faces sentencing that could be up to six months probation.

This all stemmed from her neglecting to water her yard last year. Prosecutor Peterson stated that they had been planning to drop the lawn neglect charge because she had begun to water her lawn as the town of Orem had demanded under their ordinances. He added that it was very important for the city to get a conviction for Perry's "dangerous and violent" actions when officer Jim Flygare had gone to arrest her last year.

She had refused to give her name to Flygare, accept the citation or allow herself to be handcuffed on her front steps. During the struggle to arrest her, Perry injured her nose, had rolled onto her stomach and put her hands under herself to avoid being handcuffed.

I still wonder.......... if this is the length that Orem Utah will go to arrest such a violent criminal, what exactly will they do if they are confronted with a criminal most anyone else would consider dangerous... such as an armed robbery suspect. Would they lockdown the town roads and call in the National Guard?

For my earlier post, go here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Land of liberty?

"We're going to be swabbing people we arrest," stated Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.

The police in Daytona Beach FL believe they have a serial killer in their midst. In the past couple of years, four women have been murdered in similar circumstances. While their diligence in trying to solve the cases is more than appreciated by the general public, their newest plan to assist their search has come under fire.

In hopes of finding a suspect, the police in Daytona Beach and several other surrounding agencies will soon be asking men who have been arrested, for a DNA sample. They will be asking men who have been arrested for violent crimes, drunk driving and what few people realize...... any crime they can imagine. That woulsd include any arrest that allows the police to put handcuffs on a suspect from violent crimes to indecient exposure, trespassing, jay walking or littering.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood has stated that he is anxious to establish a strong DNA database within their department to help in solving crimes. This plan could aid in solving the four murders as well as future crimes and he feels asking suspects for a swab will rapidly expand their database.

Public Defender James Purdy has stated that regardless of whether arrested suspects give their permission for a DNA swab, the plan is outrageous. He feels that the stress brought on by an arrest can cloud a person's ability to distinguish between a requirement by law and a request by an officer.

Purdy stated that the perception by most people is that if they don't voluntarily give DNA or anything else an officer requests, they could be percieved as guilty. He added that the Legislature states that DNA can only only be collected for certain violent crimes.

"Your right to privacy is more important than the government's need to know," stated James Purdy.

It may sound like a good plan or even a needed plan in view of the unsolved murders of four women but where exactly will the Daytona Beach police draw the line? Some question how many arrests for minor offenses will be made in an effort to expand their database. Will this new plan allow and encourage the police to come knocking on the doors of "suspects" that their neighbors have called in tips about or will there be a sudden surge in jay walking tickets?

I have always believed that the U S was founded on basic freedoms and liberties....... this plan sounds like another dark extension of what used to be the methods of other countries. Many of these new restrictions being applied to us as citizens are being spoon-fed to us under the guise of "homeland security", such as a national driver's license, a need for a passport........ what next? Will we need special papers to travel between states? I agree with James Purdy.... we can't let a rush to solve criminal cases trample our liberites.

Of note, additional resource: "Arrested? Guilty or not, police want your DNA" by Lyda Longa @ news-journalonline

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Time for a new outfit?

"It's unsettling, and either he's going to get hit by a car or he's going to cause somebody to have an accident," stated Sheriff Mark Dion.

The Cumbrland County Sheriff's Department in Standish ME initially thought that it was a college prnak but the incidents have continued and may be escalating as well. On Sunday, a woman reported to the police that a man passed her while driving and cut her off before jumping out into the road. The woman got a good look at the man and provided police with enough information for a composite sketch.

He is described as being white, 5 feet 11 inches tall, is in his late 20's or early 30's, has a thin build, brown hair and a mustache. The police are also positive that it is a man who has been involved in all the described incidents of late. The first report came in April on Warren Rd in Standish and the latest one occured on River Rd in Standish. The police have a total of six similar reports of the man and are hoping that someone may recognise him from the composite picture, since they have all happened in a rather small area.

In all the reports, the man has pulled in front of female driver who are alone and he has jumped out in front of them. Many of the women have had to swerve to avoid the man and police fear that if it escalates, someone may be injured in an accident in the future. They are describing the man as a "person of interest" right now and state that he had been driving a black sedan and more recently, a red pickup truck, possibly a Toyota.

The man isn't your garden variety "thrill seeker" though. He apparently enjoys wearing black thigh-high stockings, a garter belt and camisole as well as black high heel boots. His choice of clothing isn't the issue in criminal terms, rather, it is his apparent need to leap out in front of women drivers that causes concern.

It may be that he has a need to try and scare the women or maybe he just feels the need for another woman's opinion of his outfit before going out on that next big date. Myself, I would suggest losing the mustache........ it may take away from whatever effect he is trying so hard to achieve.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 774 1444 ext 2112

Thursday, February 7, 2008

One stop shopping

On Thursday, January 17, John Tacinelli proved that trying to offer his customers "peace of mind" and save them the hassle of running around, wasn't the best of ideas. The 56 year-old Plainville resident and insurance agent had been combining two forms of "peace of mind" it seems.

Tacinelli was arrested after investigators found several bags of marijuana in his car. They soon discovered that not only was he selling the pot out of his home, but he had been selling it out of his insurance office as well. He has been charged with intent to sell, possession and various other charges.

I guess that I was buying my insurance from the wrong office all these years......... I could have been relaxing with the peace of mind that i was covered for any kind of accident and covered for the next time i wanted to just "chill."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

To grandmother's house we go.....

The Broward County Sheriff's Office conducted a raid recently in Oakland FL. They searched the home of Henrietta Corvin Daise, 62, and ended up arresting nine people.

The drug raid netted that officers, marijuana, $1,000 in cash, four grams of cocaine powder and and twenty crack cocaine rocks. They also discovered powder cocaine where they probably hadn't expected to......... stuffed down Henrietta's bra.

Daise evidently had the home that her grandchildren enjoyed hanging out at, since of the eight others arrested on Friday at or near her home, were her grandchildren. They face various charges including probation violations, marijuana possession and possessing and intent to sell cocaine within 1,000 feet of a church.

Henrietta herself is said to have posted a $7,500 bail on Saturday. I'm wondering though, was she planning to be home in time for entertaining the grandkids again this weekend?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

...............120 mph

While the investigation continues into the recent tragic crash in Ocala FL, the Florida Highway Patrol has released the first of it's reports on it. They stated that they are still interviewing dozens of people who may potentially have information in regards to the incident and added that the Dision of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has been asked to aid in the investigation.

FHP spokesman Lt Mike Burroughs stated that the BMW that Joshua Ammirato, 18, was driving was traveling at a minimum of 120 mph when the driver hit the brakes. He braked for 2 to 3 seconds and the car veered sideways. The BMW rotated clockwise as it left the end of the paved runway, overturned and went airborne. It then sailed over an 85 foot dip towards trees that were 200 feet away.

The car first struck a wire fence and a tree the investigators reported. The right side of the BMW then struck a second tree, shearing the car in two and the rear section struck a third tree. The reports states that all four passengers and the driver were ejected and the vehicle's pieces and the victims came to rest in a vacant lot in the 1400 block of Northeast 95th Street.

The FHP is still awaiting the results of a toxicology report and while they had originally stated that only the driver would be tested for alcohol, they added now that they may test all four passengers. The report does state that they have found no evidence that there was another car on the runway at the time and they have ruled out racing as a factor.

Just as in the Bailey Goodman accident in 2007, this report states that both young men in the front seats had been wearing seatbelts but the three passengers in the rear had not. Burroughs did decline to comment on the rumor that there is a pre-crash videotape of the car on the runway.

James Hime, 54, of Orlando FL and the father of James Hime stated that the specifics of the crash don't concern him anymore. His only concern now is that the crash may convince other young drivers to slow down. Hime is represented by two Orlando lawyers who specialize in wrongful death cases and Hime added that he doesn't blame the driver, Joshua, he does blame the parent.

It will be weeks or months before all that can be investigated, has been completed but in the meantime, the loss of these five young men will be felt within the community. It would be nice if James Hime wish were to come true...... even if it saves one young driver, someone elses child from the fate of his son.

For my earlier post, go here. For the latest post, go here.

Update: Feb 13

The FHP continues to ask possible witnesses to the events preceeding the accident, to step forward. Several have in the past weeks and those leads are being followed up on in an effort to get a much more complete report of that night.

The Star-Banner has learned that Joshua Ammirato had planned in the hours before the accident, to join other BMW M5 drivers at an un-named airstrip in South Florida for a future high-speed run. He responded with the comment of being "in" for it in an online post to an M5 message board, after reading posts from other members planning it.

Witnesses have stated that they saw two sets of headlights on the runway that night as well, suggesting that others had witnessed the accident but left before the police arrived. George Borger stated that he had heard cars running up and down the runway and the noise had woken him up. He added that he had also saw them on the runway, two cars at least, going very fast on it. His statement is consistant with the statement of another anonymous witness who stated that they had seen two sets of headlights at the south end of the runway and skid marks in the grass at the southend afterwards.

Ron Zupanic, 46 and an employee of John Travolta, stated that he had seen the firetrucks responding at about 3:45 am Jan 26 and followed them down to the accident site. Later that morning he found the remains of what he believes was a party held that night. He states that he found alcoholic beverage bottles scattered around the Jumbolair's clubhouse/reception area and pool area and others thrown in the trash cans on the south end of the runway.

Two other people who had access to the pool are but wish to remain anonymous, stated that they also saw the bottles and one had taken pics of them bagged as evidence by the FHD and sent those pictures to the Star-Banner. Jeremy Thayer, one of Jumbolair's owners stated that he didn't know of any party held on the property and added that it has always been a hotbed of rumors. He added that he only knows that the five had gained access to the airstrip somehow. The FHP would make no comment as to whether they had in fact bagged bottles as evidence, citing their obligation to protect an ongoing investigation.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Don't worry, be happy......

There seem to be some times when taking on the "island motto" could do more than give you a chuckle during the day. It might very well keep you from being arrested.

On January 24 2008, Waterbury resident Arthur Rivet Jr, 30, had a bit of difficulty on Interstate 84 in Hartford CT. He felt that a trucker sharing the road with him evidently slighted him in some significant way. Rivet reportedly wouldn't allow the truck to pass him and then slowed his vehicle down so that he could throw bottles at the trucker.

There are some who would think that Rivet could have just chosen to calm down, put on some soothing music and took a few hits off his favorite weed and it all would have just drifted on by him. Rivet himself may now think that it would have been a good choice as well, since it seems that he wouldn't have had to go too far for the pot.

Police found a half pound of marijuana in his car when they pulled him over after the incident. He has been charged with possession along with several other charges. And to think......... he could have just sat the day out in a purple haze and avioded all the drama.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Don't be a victim......

"We don't want you to become a victim of your own device," it

Homework for some students at Kent University School of Architecture in southeast England became more than a bit uncomfortable recently. Their assignment was supposedly an attempt to sensitize them to the principals of ergonomics, the science of reducing fatigue and discomfort.

A copy of the assignment - entitled "Torture, was carried on the Website for The Architect's Journal. It showed a diagram of a Gestapo electric torture and invited the students to "look on the dark side of ergonomics." It went on to describe how the proposals have to be realizable in 2008 and not be something based in Sci-Fi imagination. They must also be built for the purpose, robust, well thought out and effective.

It added that they should try and use recycled materials and avoid using electicity, lest the builder face the risk of becoming a vicitm of their own creation. The assignment was written by Kent University tutor Mike Richards and only one former president, Paul Hyatt had commented on it so far. He stated that he was appalled by the topic that was assigned.

I am still trying to understand how creating a torture device, so long after the Medevial practitioners had invented some of the most creative and effective devices, teaches someone how to avoid discomfort. My submission might be a simple one........ the IRS tax forms......... pure torture to understand.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It was a drive-thru?

Tanya Coccia recently discovered that driving near a beef farm in the Boston MA area can lead to strange things. The aftermath of her drive-thru encounter was even stranger though.

It seems that two of the cattle had wandered loose from the nearby farm and gotten onto the road. That is where Tanya and her 14 year-old daughter "encountered" them with her car.

"It was alive and kicking and trying to right itself," stated

When emergency crews arrived they found that they had to euthanize one of the cows but the second wasn't seriously injured. It had landed in the back seat of Coccia's car after it crashed through the rear window. To make the return to the farm a bit easier for all involved...... they towed her car, with the cow still in it, back to the farm.

I would guess then, that when they state, drive on up and get you quarter pounder, they don't usually mean the whole burger, on the hoof.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Just not right.....

In Hamilton NJ, a civilian State Police employee has been accused of having a bad habit. That habit has led to his arrest on Wednesday of this week.

Wednesday morning, a custodian at the Grace St Paul Episcopal Church discovered one of the members doing a bit of after hours and misdirected worshiping. Evidently, Thomas G Findler had been sneaking into the church at night for the previous three weeks. The custodian chased him out of the church, stright into a nearby police officer.

Findler, who works in a local office for the state police was evidently sneaking into the church to view pornography on a nun's computer there. He has now been charged with theft and burglary after his late night "worship hours" have been discovered.

I can almost understand the need to view porn but come on......... on a nun's computer. It just seems so very wrong there.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tarnished ring of blue

The prosecutors stated that they believed the ring of thieves conducted about 40 robberies from 1999 to 2001. They added that they would steal cash and drugs in Los Angeles CA , and then sell the drugs on the streets for more cash.

On Wednesday, William Ferguson, 35, was found guilty of 13 charges and acquitted of five counts. His brother Joseph, 33, was convicted of three counts and the jury was deadlocked on 18 other counts. They were convicted on charges including conspiracy to deprive people of their rights under color of law and conspiracy to possess marijuana and cocaine. Fifteen others involved in the ring pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

What is not so surprizing anymore is that the brothers were cops. William is a former Los Angeles policeman and his brother Joseph is a former Long Beach officer. The suspected ring leader, former LAPD officer Ruben Palomares had pleaded guilty and testified against the brothers at trial. Both William and Ruben had worked in the Rampart Division until they were both fired in 2003.

I am not sure how people are supposed to trust the men and women in "blue" anymore when it seems that they are more the criminal than the person living next door these days.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lightbulbs are brighter.......

McMinn County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Shadrick pulled into the Sweetwater TN church parking lot early Saturday morning. He spotted a car parked near the building and decided to investigate it.

He found Jennifer Hunt, 35, walking out from behind the building. When questioned, she claimed that she was there to go to the bathroom. Her story fell apart though when she began walking to her car to get her ID.

It seems that she may have a bit of difficulty "going to the bathroom" with a crowbar in her pants. Shadrick was there to witness that same crowbar drop from her pants while she was walking to her car. After searching her, he also found a screwdriver on her and further investigation showed pry marks on the church door.

Hunt is now charged with possession of burglary tools and is being held on $2,000 bond pending her arraignment on Tuesday. It seems that she will have a few days in which to work on her future fashion statements.

Suffolk County Police in Ronkonkoma NY encountered another not so bright individual when they were responding to an alarm at M & J Auto at 1:55 am Tuesday morning. They found Jason Thompson, 17, hiding in a dumpster there.

After a bit of investigation, they found that not only had he burglarized the shop that morning but he had also stolen a "General Lee" replica Dodge Charger on Jan 23 at Continental Car Care in Lake Ronkonkoma. That car though had been found hours later when it was noticed parked nearby.

Thompson was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary in the third degree. Fortunate for him, he won't be charged with lack of brains or skill for thinking that no one would notice the "General Lee", even if it were only a replica of the car from the "Dukes of Hazzard"............... maybe down south it could hide in plain sight but not so easy on Long Island.