Articles from July 2007



Let’s screw the businesses so we can get reelected in November…

From Fredericksburg.com: Stafford tries tax districts again:

Stafford County could soon tax businesses to pay for the widening of two congested roads.

The Board of Supervisors approved a measure last week to create service districts for State Route 610 and U.S. 17.

But one business owner, who successfully sued the county before, said he plans to fight the measure again.

Attorney Richard Nageotte runs a law practice along 610. He sued Stafford in 2001, and again in 2006, to block the creation of the 610 service district.

In the last Circuit Court decision, the judge ruled that Virginia’s service district law excludes roads under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

But the General Assembly has since clarified the statute, giving Stafford the green light to try again.

[…]

Although he hasn’t filed suit yet, the attorney said he plans to challenge the measure because it’s unfair to small-business owners.

“The bottom line is the business community shouldn’t be taxed for what is necessary for the entire community,” he said. “If we need improvements to 610, then everyone should pay for them.”

Improvements planned for 610 include widening it from four lanes to six lanes, beginning at Interstate 95 and ending at Onville Road.

[…]

Planned changes to U.S. 17 include lane expansions and additional sidewalks. A federal highway, U.S. 17 is used by thousands of out-of-town motorists each day, noted Falmouth Supervisor George Schwartz.

“We’ve got truck traffic coming up and down, tourists, everybody uses that road,” said Schwartz, who was the only supervisor to oppose the service districts. “It’s unfair to tax only the local business to improve that road.”

Funding from VDOT and revenue from the gas tax have helped pay for some road projects. But local officials say more funding is needed to ease congestion on Stafford’s busiest roads.

The levy against businesses is the only viable available option for now, according to Hartwood Supervisor Joe Brito.

“As far as I’m concerned, the service district is the last resort,” he said.

Why is it that only businesses are going to be taxed? How many subdivisions are on these roads that probably account for the majority of traffic on them? The businesses wouldn’t be there if the people didn’t live on the road.

From what I can see on Google Earth of the area, there has to be over a dozen different subdivisions on a couple mile section of 610 (Garrisonville Road). Expert planning there Stafford County.

Scientific research? Uh…what’s that?

From Newsday.com: Pol: Subways need policing against pervs [emphasis mine]:

The Manhattan borough president wants more police in the subways to fend off perverts who attack straphangers.

Scott Stringer’s office asked commuters how often someone sexually attacked or harassed them in the subway, and found frightening results. More than 60 percent of those who responded to the online study said they were sexually harassed and 10 percent said they’d been sexually assaulted.

“This whole notion of what happens underground stays underground is just not acceptable anymore,” Stringer said. “Instead of fighting back, people have become afraid or believe that nothing can be done.”

Rush hour was particularly perilous for harassment and attacks, according to Stringer’s survey of more than 2,000 people. Almost all victims did not report the crime to police or Metropolitan Transportation Authority personnel.

[…]

Beyond actual attacks, the survey showed most straphangers simply felt a threat of some kind of sexual incident.

Educating people to speak out, creating a phone hotline for attack victims and more detailed sex-crime reporting could curb underground harassment, Stringer said.

But officials with the NYPD and New York City Transit said they’re already helping harassment victims. The police noted that they arrested 119 people for sexual abuse and lewdness this year.

Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said the agency already has brighter lights on new subway cars, but Stringer called for old cars to be retrofitted with better lighting. Transit also has already begun installing 1,031 digital security cameras in 61 stations, with more to come.

Stringer sent the results of his survey to the MTA and police. The survey was more anecdotal and less scientific, with respondents being people on his e-mail list and from women’s advocacy groups.

Uh-huh, what exactly was “sexual harassment” defined as? What exactly is a “threat of some kind of sexual incident”? Looking at a secondary sexual characteristic of someone else? Smiling or flirting at someone?

What “women’s advocacy groups” did you get 2,000 email addresses from? Did you get any email addresses from “men’s advocacy groups” and ask any men if they had been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed?

Oh and good job Newsday for putting the key paragraph as the third to last one. You get an “A” for good reporting.

Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge

Ever heard of checking the Code of Virginia before charging someone?

From Fredericksburg.com: Bouncer cleared of Taser use charges:

Charges against a bouncer accused of using a Taser on an unruly patron were dropped Tuesday in Fredericksburg General District Court.

Richard A. Sullivan, 24, of Stafford County was charged in May with carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm within a building. The latter charge is a Class 6 felony.

City prosecutor Andy Cornick determined that Sullivan had been improperly charged after a more thorough review of a state law.

Cornick said it is not technically illegal to conceal a Taser unless you are a convicted felon, which Sullivan is not.

He also said that the Taser does not qualify as a firearm under the felony statute Sullivan was charged under.

According to city police, Sullivan was working as a bouncer at Buffalo Wild Wings in Central Park early May 19 when he became involved in an altercation with two Marines.

During the incident, police said, a Taser was used on one of the Marines.

Later that morning, police said, Sullivan encountered the two Marines he’d kicked out of the club at a nearby Wawa. This time, Sullivan was assaulted.

During the investigation, police learned about the Taser and filed charges the next day.

What next? Arresting a homeowner that shoots a burglar? Charging someone with “discharging a gun in an occupied building” requires the discharge to be unlawful, if there was any evidence of unlawfulness why wasn’t he (Sullivan) charged with assault and battery? Why is it, that the names of the Marines are not released if they later assaulted him at a Wawa? Why is it, that the one that was innocent of all charges is named and has his name dragged through the mud?

Scientists are idiots, and here’s the proof:

From The Guardian: Scientists link diabetes drugs to heart failure:

Two of the most commonly used drugs for diabetes, which were taken by hundreds of thousands of mostly overweight people in the UK last year, are causing widespread heart failure, scientists warn today.

Use of the drugs, prescribed by doctors for type II diabetes, has doubled in the past three years as a consequence of a growing obesity problem. Last year 1.8m prescriptions were written across the UK, which scientists say equates to several hundred thousand patients taking the drugs which are recommended for use across the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

But researchers today call on Nice to think again, revealing that as many as one in every 50 patients taking the drugs Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone) over a period of 26 months will have to be hospitalised for heart failure.

The class of drugs, they say in the journal Diabetes Care, doubles the risk of heart failure, and even those with no history of heart problems are affected.

[…]

He and his American colleagues pooled data from 78,000 patients who have taken the drugs, some of them during the manufacturers’ trials. They also looked closely at the cases of 200 people who suffered heart failure and found they were not people who were obviously at risk.

“Most patients in the studies did not have heart failure prior to starting on treatment with these drugs,” said Dr Loke. “There doesn’t seem to be a group of patients who are safe from these side-effects.”

[…]

Alastair Benbow, European medical director for GlaxoSmithKline, said of the study: “It is well recognised that the class of drug can cause fluid retention. It is wholly different from the issue raised previously about heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths.”

He said fluid retention could be resolved if the patient was well monitored and prescribed diuretics. Even heart failure could be treated in hospital. “What is missing here is the benefit these drugs provide.” The drugs kept blood sugar levels low, preventing serious effects of the disease such as blindness and amputations, he said.

And why is this proof that scientists are idiots? Well, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) [emphasis wholly mine]:

[…] 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke.

And if you are diagnosed with diabetes even without taking any drugs, especially type 2 diabetes (since you are already overweight), you are already at risk for heart disease you morons.

Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge

To say the least…

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Career day goes poorly for Goochland teen:

Authorities apprehended a Goochland County teen Tuesday who they said was impersonating a police officer to get his girlfriend out of summer school.

The 17-year-old youth went to Goochland Elementary School dressed in plain clothes and claimed to be conducting a drug investigation, Goochland Sheriff James Agnew said. The teen told administrators that he needed to speak with a 14-year-old girl at the school.

The public school system holds all of its summer programs at Goochland Elementary.

School officials called the sheriff’s office at 2:15 p.m., and deputies apprehended the youth on school property, Agnew said. The youth’s parents were called to come pick him up, and he was issued a summons for trespassing, the sheriff said.

“We know of him, and it was pretty obviously a silly plan by a kid,” Agnew said.

The incident caused no disruptions for the 280 students in the county’s summer school program, said Linda Underwood, acting superintendent for Goochland County Public Schools.

While admittedly a stupid thing to do, it’s probably good for everyone that they didn’t charge him with a felony which they could have.

Wake Forest basketball coach dies

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch [photo credit: Wake Forest Sports]: Wake Forest basketball coach dies:

Skip ProsserWake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser died on Thursday morning of an apparent heart attack shortly after jogging.

Prosser was rushed to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Prosser, 56, was one of the most well-liked coaches in the industry and known for his witty and sarcastic sense of humor.

He grew up in Pittsburgh and went to high school at Carnegie before attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

Prosser has spent the past seven seasons at Wake Forest after spending one year at Loyola (Md.) and seven at Xavier. He has a career record of 291-146.

Prosser led Wake Forest to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first four seasons and the Demon Deacons won the ACC regular-season in 2003. The Demon Deacons have struggled recently — missing the tournament in each of the past two years.

Prosser and his staff were in high spirits recently after learning that two of the nation’s top high school players — Al Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods — committed to Wake Forest earlier this month. The staff already had a commitment from another one of the nation’s top players, Ty Walker.

Obviously, Prosser’s peers were stunned to hear the news.

“It’s so sad. I feel so bad for his wife, Nancy,” said Arizona State Herb Sendek, who coached against Prosser when he was with N.C. State. “Skip was a gentleman and someone who represented what was good about our profession. He was the kind of person you wanted your son to play for.”

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 4

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Henrico judge to rule on driving-offense fees:

A Henrico judge said he will issue an opinion next Thursday on whether the state’s new fee system for traffic infractions should be found unconstitutional.

In an unusual proceeding that lasted almost an hour, Henrico General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III said he will decide in a written opinion whether a 23-year-old Henrico man facing his fifth offense for driving without a license should be subject to some $700 in fees in addition to court costs and fines.

Anthony O. Price pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge today and Yeatts found him guilty. But Yeatts said he wants more time to mull over arguments in the case about the fees.

The fee structure, which went into effect July 1, is expected to pump some $60 million into state highway funds. But the fees do not apply to out-of-state drivers. Price’s lawyers argue that the law is in violation of equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution.

“There’s no reason why out-of-state drivers should be any less subject to the fees than Virginia drivers,” said Esther Windmueller, one of Price’s lawyers.

Windmueller said multiple opinions are likely on the issue from courts across Virginia as the fees begin to come into play in court proceedings.

Resolution will have to come from the General Assembly or state Supreme Court, meaning that thousands off drivers likely will have to pay the fees before it is clear they are legal.

The saga continues…

9-11 conspiracist charged with desertion

From The Daily Star: Movie creator charged:

An Oneonta man who helped produce a 9/11 conspiracy documentary that became an Internet hit was arrested Monday for allegedly deserting the Army.

Korey Rowe, 24, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, was picked up by deputies at about 10:45 p.m. Monday, Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said.

Rowe, along with Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, are members of Louder Than Words, a production company that is working on a third edition of the movie “Loose Change,” which contends the U.S. government was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That edition is intended to be a theatrical release.

[…]

Rowe was arrested on a “military warrant” that Devlin said was brought to the attention of deputies by the Oneonta Police Department, who received information from a source outside of that department.

[…]

After deputies received the information from Oneonta police, they reached out to the Army, and officials from Fort Knox faxed a copy of the warrant, deputies said.

Rowe previously told The Daily Star he enlisted in August 2001. He left the Army in June 2005, according to the Louder Than Words website.

He is being held without bail in the Otsego County jail and is waiting to be picked up by U.S. Army officials, Devlin said.

The Associated Press reported last month that deserters are rarely court-martialed by the Army.

Although 3,301 soldiers deserted in the 2006 fiscal year, there were just 174 troops court-martialed.

Hopefully, they line him up against a wall and shoot him.

Hat tip: The Jawa Report and Screw Loose Change.

Sept. 11 rescue dog with cancer dies

From the AP via Yahoo! News [photo credit: AP]: Sept. 11 rescue dog with cancer dies:

Mary Flood leashes her black Labrador retriever search and rescue dog, Jake, near the World Trade Center in New York in this Sept. 22, 2001 file photo.A black Labrador that burrowed through smoking debris after Sept. 11 and flooded rubble after Hurricane Katrina in search of survivors has died after developing cancer.

Owner Mary Flood had 12-year-old Jake put to sleep Wednesday after a last stroll through the fields and a dip in the creek near their home in Oakley, Utah. Flood said Jake had been in pain, shaking with a 105-degree fever as he lay on the lawn.

No one can say whether the dog would have gotten sick if he hadn’t been exposed to the toxic air at the World Trade Center, but cancer in dogs Jake’s age is common.

Some owners of rescue dogs who worked at ground zero claim their animals have died because of their work there. But scientists who have spent years studying the health of Sept. 11 search-and-rescue dogs have found no sign of major illness in the animals.

[…]

The results of an autopsy on Jake’s body will be part of a medical study on the Sept. 11 dogs that was started by the University of Pennsylvania more than 5 years ago.

Flood adopted Jake as a 10-month-old puppy. He had been abandoned on a street with a broken leg and a dislocated hip.

“But against all odds he became a world-class rescue dog,” said Flood, a member of Utah Task Force 1, a federal search-and-rescue team that looked for human remains at ground zero.

On the evening of the team’s arrival in New York, Jake walked into a fancy Manhattan restaurant wearing his search-and-rescue vest and was treated to a free steak dinner under a table.

Flood eventually trained Jake to become one of fewer than 200 U.S. government-certified rescue dogs — an animal on 24-hour call to tackle disasters such as building collapses, earthquakes, hurricanes and avalanches.

After Katrina, Flood and Jake drove from Utah to Mississippi, where they searched for survivors in flooded homes.

In recent years, Jake helped train younger dogs across the country. He showed them how to track scents, even in the snow, and how to look up if the scent was in a tree.

He also did therapy work with children at a Utah camp for burn victims and at senior homes and hospitals.

“He was a great morale booster wherever he went,” Flood said. “He was always ready to work, eager to play — and a master at helping himself to any unattended food items.”

She said Jake’s ashes would be scattered “in places that were important to him,” such as his Utah training grounds and the rivers and hills near his home where he swam and roamed.

Hat tip: The Jawa Report

I’m guessing the phrase “equal protection” doesn’t mean anything to you… Part 3

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Big fines for bad drivers tested:

A courtroom assault yesterday on the state’s new fees for traffic offenses fizzled in a cloud of legal briefs and a no-show.

After a Henrico County judge politely said he didn’t have the authority to address the issue, a Henrico man portrayed as a test case to overthrow the civil remedial fees failed to show up for his court appearance.

“Is Anthony Price here? Anthony Price?” defense lawyer Esther Windmueller asked unsuccessfully, scanning a General District courtroom.

General District Judge Archer L. Yeatts III, who had less than an hour earlier refused to rule on the constitutional merits of the fees, rescheduled Price’s case for Aug. 23 and moved on to a reckless driving case.

That left Windmueller suggesting to reporters that she might have to troll the hallways of the Henrico Courts building for a new plaintiff.

[…]

The fees, passed by the legislature this year, are intended to generate more than $60 million toward state road funds. So far they have mostly generated fever-pitch public opposition — in large part because out-of-state drivers aren’t subject to the ramped-up fines.

[…]

In Richmond traffic court yesterday morning, clerks were marveling at the city’s first instance of a traffic offense that invoked the costly fee structure.

A July 1, noontime stop on Lee Bridge had produced charges of reckless driving and no valid driver’s license for a man court papers identified as Rolando Reyes.

“This was our first one,” said Irving C. Wright, clerk of the Richmond General District Court’s traffic division.

Yesterday, Reyes saw the reckless driving charge reduced to speeding but saw his costs explode.

Instead of being limited to fines and court costs of $317, Reyes had to pay $617 with the addition of the new $300 penalty fee.

And he’ll owe $600 more in coming months in two $300 installments, bringing the total to $1,217.

Had Reyes not had the reckless driving charge reduced, he could have been looking at a total of more than $2,200.

[…]

Besides the fact that out-of-state offenders don’t face the extra penalties, critics say, the fees most severely affect low-income traffic offenders, and collection efforts are expected to clog the courts and increase the number of cumbersome cases that involve defense lawyers.

“People will get lawyers hoping they can reduce the charges,” said Henrico General District Court Clerk Lawrence G. Sprader.

The state attorney general’s office argued to Yeatts yesterday that only a higher court can block the fees. Yeatts agreed, saying that a legal theory of seeking to bar the clerk’s office from collecting the fees is improper.

“The judge imposes the fee,” said Yeatts, noting that the judges control the actions of the clerk.

Windmueller said she and co-counsel Craig S. Cooley will likely take the case to the higher court, the county’s Circuit Court, before the end of the week. Traffic cases from the lower court that are subject to the fees are likely to reach circuit courts across the state, also, as the cases are appealed. That would produce scores of opportunities to challenge the law, lawyers familiar with traffic cases said yesterday.

[…]

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has said he favors waiting for the regular session in January to make the fee structure more equitable.

If there’s a problem Governor, why wait?

Again, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch [photo credit: Virginia House of Delegates]: Delegate does U-turn, now opposes high fees:

Scott Lingamfelter Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, now says he opposes increased fees on bad drivers.

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, who 12 days ago defended unsafe-driver fees, now says they should be repealed.

[…]

Lingamfelter declined to say whether the General Assembly should be called back into special session to repeal the bill. That is up to the leadership, he said, but if he came back to Richmond, he would vote for repeal.

Lingamfelter said the bill is “at best complicated.” It also should apply to all drivers, not just Virginians, he added. In addition, he said the fees should be focussed [sic] on curbing bad driving, not on repairing roads.

Twelve days ago, Lingamfelter wrote an op-ed article in which he defended the fees, saying only reckless drivers should be disturbed by them.

The House Democratic Caucus issued a news release yesterday calling Lingamfelter “flip-flop Scott.”

“He saw his support for the abusive-driving tax that exempts out-of-state drivers as hurting him politically, so he put political expediency above principle,” caucus spokesman Mark Bergman said.

A Democrat, William Day of Prince William, is opposing Lingamfelter in November.

Lingamfelter said “real leaders listen, learn and act. They do not name-call, which is what the Democrats do.”

So you admit you’re not a “real leader”? You appear to have listened and learned but where is your act? You’re sitting on your fat ass complaining. Why do you refuse to call for a special session? If there’s a problem Delegate, why wait?

Again, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Driver fees about to be tested in court:

An effort to stop Virginia’s new special fees for traffic offenses great and small will get another day in a Henrico County court this morning. Anthony Price has been found.

A legal team had said Tuesday that Price would serve as an important test case to overthrow the fees as unconstitutional. But Price, who lives in Henrico, didn’t show up for court. That left his lawyers, a judge, and a gaggle of media with no case, no ruling and no story.

But Price, located yesterday by a Times-Dispatch reporter, said that he believed his court date was today and he was unaware that a high-powered legal team was ready to defend him.

“Who?” Price said yesterday when asked if he’d been contacted by prominent trial lawyers Craig S. Cooley and Esther Windmueller.

Windmueller said her efforts to contact Price about court dates and her representation likely got lost in the mail.

[…]

Price got in touch with the lawyers yesterday, and Windmueller said he would appear at a General District Court hearing this morning.

Price is facing his fifth charge of driving on a suspended license. If convicted today, he faces $750 in penalty fees in addition to fines and court costs. He referred questions about his driving history to his lawyers.

But Price’s conviction, which his lawyers said they would appeal, would set in motion an effort to end the fees statewide.

A Henrico General District Court judge on Tuesday refused to consider legal arguments that the fees were unconstitutional because the motions were brought before the court independent of a defendant being charged with one of the offenses.

But Price does face a traffic charge affected by the new fees. If the judge rules that the fees are unconstitutional, the ruling will likely be appealed by the state.

The special fees went into effect July 1 and are just beginning to reach traffic courts. They apply to dozens of traffic infractions, from manslaughter to a failed turn signal. They have outraged tens of thousands of drivers.

[…]

A key constitutional issue centers on the fact that the higher fees do not apply to out-of-state drivers, even when they commit the same driving offenses as a Virginian.

One lawyer said yesterday that she would raise the argument that a person from another country, whether in Virginia illegally or on a visa, should not have to pay the fee, either.

The fees range from $3,000 for more-serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter and felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle to $900 for having below-standard tires or failing to wear a seat belt while operating a school bus, according to guidelines published by the state Supreme Court.

For now I give a reprieve for lawyers.


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