My thoughts on the Paterno situation

Our values and priorities are so fucked up in this country. Penn State head coach Joe Paterno turns a blind eye to a former assistant coach who was (allegedly) molesting children and yet he is (apparently) being allowed to retire at the conclusion of the (all-important) football season.

Let’s look at this from another angle – imagine for a moment that instead of a football coach, we were talking about, let’s say, a History professor. Would he be allowed to retire at the end of the year knowing what he knew and having not notified the proper authorities? Hell no! They’d fire his ass like a cannon (and rightly so).

It’s morally repugnant when the Catholic church shelters child abusers and those who facilitate or ignore the abuse, and it’s just as disgusting when it’s done by Penn State University, or any other organization.

Paterno must go.

Local State Rep. Arrested for DUI

Robert Mecklenborg is a conservative Republican who represents much of western Hamilton County, Ohio.

Check out his mugshot, here.

Investigators say Mecklenborg had viagra in his system and a woman in the car with him. There are reports that she is connected to a Lawrenceburg strip club called Concepts Showgirls.

Man! Talk about burying the lede! How is that not the headline?

Drivers with 10-15 license suspensions ‘not unusual’

I just don’t understand how we, as a society, came to view driving a car as some sort of God-given right.

Early in the morning of Sunday, August 1, Rebecca Thompson, a 42 year old mother of three and her dog were struck and killed while walking in Harrison Township. The driver, later identified as 24 year old Jimmie Picklesimer fled the scene.

After killing Rebecca Thompson, Picklesimer called 911, not to get help for the woman and dog he’d run down, but to claim that his 1992 Chevrolet S-10 pickup had been carjacked by an armed black man two blocks north of the crime scene. He told deputies that his assailant had taken his keys. Inconsistencies in his story and the fact that it was discovered he had the keys in his pocket naturally caused deputies to question his story. Picklesimer eventually admitted to hitting the woman and her dog, and also to having downed six beers prior to doing so.

Now, here’s the really disturbing part of the story. Picklesimer who, remember, is just 24, has had his license suspended 9 times and in 2006 he was convicted of driving without a license. 9 suspensions in roughly 8 years, yet this person was still licensed to drive. Am I the only one who thinks there is something very, very wrong with this scenario?

From The Dayton Daily News:

Local police say they regularly stop drivers with multiple license suspensions. “It’s not unusual to get a guy with 10 or 15 suspensions,” said veteran Dayton police Officer Randy Beane. “We spend a lot of time with individuals like this.”

How can the automotive culture and lawmakers in this country be so blinded by our love affair with our cars as to be willing to allow these people to drive, unhindered, until they kill someone?

Honest to God, how many times does a person have to demonstrate that they aren’t capable of safely operating a motor vehicle before the “justice” system takes that privilege away from them, for good?

*Source: Dayton Daily News. Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

Poachers Illegally Take 7 Deer – Get Off Far Too Lightly

It seems that two geniuses were spotlighting deer one night back in January. They managed to get the pick-up they were shooting from stuck in a farmer’s field as they tried to retrieve one of the downed deer. They then asked the landowner to pull their truck out. He refused and instead called the Game Warden.

Investigation revealed that the duo had two deer carcasses in the pick-up and five more back at the shooter’s residence. While being interviewed by officers, Cody Patton, 20, of Hillsboro, Ohio admitted that he had shot the deer with a rifle while his side-kick, Matt Leisure, 20 of Sabina, Ohio shined a spotlight on them.

Patton (the shooter) was ordered to pay a total of $5480 in restitution and court costs. His sentence also included a one-year hunting license revocation and forfeiture of the rifle used to kill the deer.

Leisure (the spotlighter) was ordered to pay fines and court costs totaling $858 and had his hunting license revoked for two years.

The fines levied against the shooter seem fair and reasonable, though it seems to me that the person holding the spotlight should be just as culpable as the shooter and should face the same punishment.

The problem I have is the paltry one and two year license revocation. Finding deer resting in a field, blinding them with a spotlight, then shooting them while they’re immobilized isn’t hunting, it’s just killing. I think that anyone who engages in such wanton killing should be banned from hunting permanently, or at the very least for a period of say, ten years.

Full newspaper article here, from the Wilmington News Journal.

Apparently It Is Now Impossible To Beat A Speeding Ticket In Ohio

In a 5-1 decision Wednesday, Ohio’s Supreme Court upheld a speeding ticket based solely upon how fast a driver appeared to be moving. You read that right, an officer’s educated guess is now sufficient to overcome the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice Maureen O’Connor (who’s running for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court this November) wrote (in part):

We hold that a police officer’s unaided visual estimation of a vehicle’s speed is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for speeding in violation of R.C. 4511.21(D) without independent verification of the vehicle’s speed if the officer is trained, is certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or a similar organization that develops and implements training programs to meet the needs of law enforcement professionals and the communities they serve, and is experienced in visually estimating vehicle speed.

That’s right, no independent verification, just the best guess of a highly-trained and infallible officer of the law. Thank God every police officer in Ohio is completely beyond reproach, otherwise some might abuse a law that gives such sweeping power with absolutely no accountability.

The lone dissenting vote came from Justice Terrence O’Donnell (apparently the only person on the Ohio Supreme Court with any sense) who argued the majority essentially created a standard that the police officer is always right.

This sets a dangerous precedent. In what other areas might an officer’s uncorroborated expert opinion to be admitted as incontrovertible evidence?

On the positive side, imagine the positive impact this will have on the state’s budget. Auction off all that unnecessary RADAR and LIDAR equipment! Speedometers in patrol cars will be a thing of the past!

Hopefully the ACLU (or someone) can get this insane decision before the US Supreme Court where it will be overturned. Unless they, too, have all taken leave of their senses.

Voter Fraud Strikes Close to Home

Some of you may recall me mentioning back in February 2007 that one of my people from work had passed away.

Well she (and her elderly parents) were mentioned on the local news, apparently she voted in the March 4th primary.

Click here for the full story.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the Miami Valley alone, we found 3,856 dead voters still registered. Approximately 22 of them voted from beyond the grave.

Ahh… Democracy in action.

Treatment, stiff penalties best ways to reduce DUIs

As a follow-up to my previous post, I’m reprinting this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Thanks for the link, Jon.

A sunny Sunday morning, a straight, flat road and a group of enthusiastic bicyclists. It seemed a perfect summer morning until, police say, a car crossed the centerline, crashed into the group and killed local residents Amy Gehring and Terry Walker.

And then the police account took an all-too-familiar turn: Alcohol or drugs likely contributed to the crash.

INTERVENE EARLY

Besides heartache and furor, the July 16 Crosby Township tragedy caused a restless search for appropriate punishments – and possible prevention. But the interest and energy come too late. The time to prevent such disasters is before an impaired driver slips behind the wheel of the car.

On that point, at least, it is possible to find answers.

The statistics behind such tragedies shed light on the problem of drunk driving and may help shape prevention efforts. It’s a pressing public-health concern – in 2004, 16,694 Americans died in alcohol-related accidents, a fourth of all traffic deaths.

Centers for Disease Control says three-quarters of those convicted in DUI cases are frequent heavy drinkers or alcoholics. And one-third of drivers arrested for or convicted of driving under the influence are repeat offenders.

Those statistics contradict the rhetoric that most DUI offenders were simply innocents caught in a one-time circumstance. Most, in fact, play Russian roulette with alcohol and vehicles. And a large number don’t stop drinking the first time they’re caught.

STOP THE DRIVING

And most convicted drivers with suspended licenses don’t stop driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, half to three-fourths of drunk drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive – poorly. A third of second-time DUI offenders and half of third-time offenders with suspended licenses received violations or were involved in crashes.

In a sense, what that all adds up to is what doesn’t work – why many drunk drivers don’t stop drinking or driving.

But there is growing consensus on prevention that works.

MADD, the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the National Commission Against Drunk Driving all agree mandatory treatment programs are at least partially effective.

They promote recovery – the only real long-term solution to a problem that exhibits itself as a crime but is at heart an illness – and they reduce recidivism. MADD reports that DUI offenders who enter treatment show a 7 percent to 9 percent drop in recidivism.

TAKE THE CARS

Limiting offenders’ access to vehicles – not just their possession of driving licenses – also helps. In California, first-time offenders whose vehicles were impounded had a fourth fewer crashes and repeat offenders had 38 percent fewer. Studies in Maryland and California show that alcohol-triggered ignition locks reduced repeat DUI offenses by 65 percent to 90 percent.

And taking an all-around tougher stand reduces impaired driving as well – mandatory license revocation, lowering the blood alcohol calculation to .08, mandatory substance-abuse assessment and sobriety checkpoints on roadways.

RECOGNIZING WHAT WORKS

States are beginning to build consensus on some aspects of DUI law. Now all states have adopted 21 as the legal drinking age, and two-thirds allow police officers to take the license of drivers who refuse a breath test. Many states have lowered the limit for blood alcohol concentration from .10 to .08 and a dozen states penalize underage drivers for any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems.

In a nutshell, the effective approach is to require treatment, limit access to vehicles and – especially – act decisively on the first offense. “We cannot wait for a repeat offender to be caught a second time by the legal system,” the National Commission Against Drunk Driving states on its web site. We couldn’t agree more.

I agree with what the article has to say, although I do wonder if the money and resources spent on mandatory treatment couldn’t be put to better use (a 7 percent to 9 percent drop in recidivism isn’t too impressive). I’m all for treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation, but, treatment is only truly effective if the person actually wants to get better. On the other hand, 7 to 9 percent is better than nothing.
The good news is: Statistically, alcohol related traffic fatalities are on the decline, albeit a very slow and gradual decline.

Motorist With Suspended License Accused Of Killing 2 Bicyclists

Sickening news from the Cincinnati area (courtesy of WLWT):

Mon Jul 17, 6:54 PM ET

A bicycle outing turned deadly when two people were struck and killed by an oncoming car shortly before noon Sunday.

Deputies said 25-year-old Anthony Gerike, of Batavia, lost control of his Geo Tracker along on New Haven Road near Crosby Road. He went left of center and drove head-on into a group of 10 cyclists that was traveling westbound, officials said.

Investigators said Gerike’s car continued to travel out of control and also hit a Chevrolet Cavalier that was traveling behind the group.

Two bikers, 51-year-old Amy Gehring, of Cincinnati, and 53-year-old Terry Walker, of Fairfield, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

“I just started crying. I couldn’t believe it,” Walker’s neighbor Darlene Baldock said. “It was a shame, especially the way it happened — very senseless.”

A passenger in the Cavalier, Frank Meeker, 48, of Fairfield, was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Gerike was transported from the scene to University Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

He has been released into the custody of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and faces two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and driving with a suspended license.

Gerike was in court Monday, and a judge set his bail at $1 million.

Deputies said Gerike’s license was suspended only a month ago and has been suspended a total of six times.

The sheriff’s office said that alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.

I don’t even know where to begin… What do you do, short of life imprisonment (which doesn’t sound like such a bad idea) to stop these people? I could easily write a thousand words on all of the ways that this story is fucked up, but I won’t. At least not right now. Right now I’m long on outrage and short on solutions; maybe later.

Anthony Gerike was convicted of aggravated drug possession in Clermont County after an arrest in January 2004. His current case will go to a grand jury on July 26.

Speaking of Speed Racer

Back on May 8th I got a ticket; 79MPH in a 50MPH zone. I’ve really been sweating, thinking it was going to cost me a fortune. Around these parts, anything above 25 over the limit and you have to appear in court, the fine (if you waive your right to spend the day in court) for 15-25 over is $135, so I’m thinking this is going to be a $200 deal, minimum.

Anyway, I originally went to night court on the 15th, but there was a civil trial that was running extremely late, so they let me postpone; I could come back any day there was open court (Monday or Tuesday at 5:30PM, Wednesday at 9:00AM) within 2 weeks. After over a week of dread-filled procrastination, I decided Wednesday morning would be the least busy, so today was the day.

So, I show up at 9:00, find a parking spot right at the door, then discover the meter is only 30 minutes max. “No worries”, I think, “I’ll just move the car to a 2 hour spot down the block after I sign in.” I sign in, and sit and wait. Much better looking crowd in the mornings, apparently, so that’s a plus (Monday night it looked more like they were taking job applications for carnival workers). 9:30 comes, they haven’t called me into the courtroom yet, so I ask the lady next to me to listen for my name and I run down to the car. Naturally, the meter’s expired and I now have a parking ticket, too. Oh, joy!

Thankfully there’s an open 2 hour spot just down the block. I move the car and return to the waiting room. They didn’t come for me while I was gone, so I sit and wait some more. Finally around 10:30 they call me and a couple of other lucky contestants into the court room.

The girl before the judge (the Honorable Susan L. Goldie) finishes up with her time and the Judge says: “Gregory Evans”, Gregory, just to remind me that I’m in trouble. I approach the bench, feeling like I just got called into the Principal’s office. She reads the complaint against me and tells me the maximum fine is $150. “Yep”, I’m thinking, “with court costs that’ll be twohundred-something.” She asks how I plead, I plead guilty, and she fines me… $35! And I swear, she even gave me an almost imperceptible “I’m letting you off easy” smile. No apologizing, no begging for leniency, and for whatever reason she gives me a huge break and sends me on my way.

With court costs the total was $102. I was so relieved that it wasn’t double or triple that amount that I didn’t even care about getting the parking ticket anymore.

Since I wouldn’t have gone to court if I didn’t have to, it actually would have cost me more money if I had been going slower!

What is the Price For Taking a Human Life?

Here is the aforementioned rant, read or skim the previous post for an idea of what I’m all worked up about.

Apparently here in Xenia, Ohio (the self-proclaimed “Bicycle Capital of the Midwest”) it’s $17,175.91 and 60 days in jail, if the victim happens to be a cyclist and the weapon an automobile.

Each time I hear about one of these (all too common) tragedies my sense of outrage and disgust rises exponentially. Have we, as a people become so blinded by our love affair with the automobile?

Automobile “accidents” are the leading cause of death among our 16-20 year olds; not guns, drugs, AIDS, or cigarettes… cars. If people were being killed and maimed at a similar rate by any other means (about 42,000 Americans killed per year), the public outcry would be overwhelming; but hey, we love our cars, we gotta drive, we’ve got places to go, we’re busy people!

Now, I’m not some radical proposing we do away with cars altogether, but what I am suggesting is that we hold ourselves to a higher standard. I’m sick of people acting with wanton disregard for anything other than getting to their destination as quickly as possible, killing someone then shrugging their shoulders and saying, “It was just an accident.”

If drivers faced serious punishment and extended jail time for killing or maiming someone through negligence, carelessness, or downright aggressiveness; I don’t think they would be so cavalier about buzzing by at 70MPH six inches from my handlebars. And maybe, just maybe, the streets would be safer for all of us.

Senate Bill 158 (Ohio Right of Way Bill)

To keep myself from going off on a wild, frothing at the mouth rant, I’ll just pass this message along (for now). Expect the rant to be forthcoming.

Below is a copy of a message from Dayton Cycling Club president, Chuck Smith.

DCC Friends,
I attach below a report on an appeals court upholding the inadequate punishment for the motorist responsible for the death of cyclist Bob Bachtel. As you remember, Bachtel was killed during the 2004 Calvin’s Challenge in Cedarville, OH.

We in the OBF have passed the article along to the Ohio Right-Of-Way Working Group of which we are a member. This group produced Senate Bill 158 which has been introduced into the Ohio Senate. The bill would make sorely-needed increases in the penalties for right-of-way violations that result in serious injury or death. We are submitting the article for possible use in testimony before the Ohio Senate Transportation Committee.

For more information on the working group and SB 158, go to our OBF web site at:
http://www.ohiobike.org/rightofway.html.

– Chuck Smith
_______________________________________________

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE OF DRIVER CONVICTED OF VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN 2004 VEHICLE/BICYCLIST ACCIDENT

The Second District Court of Appeals recently issued a decision on the appeal filed by Bradley Johnson, the driver of the pickup truck who struck and killed Akron cyclist Bob Bachtel on May 1, 2004. Johnson was convicted of vehicular homicide and appealed his sentence which consisted of (1) 180 days in jail (with 120 days suspended), (2) $1,000 fine, to reimburse the Highway Patrol for its investigation costs, (3) $16,175.91 in restitution, (4) 5-year license suspension without occupational driving privileges, (5) mental health counseling, and (6) an unspecified term of community service. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s sentencing with respect to the jail time, restitution, license suspension, and counseling. However, the court did remand the case for reconsideration on the issues of the fine and community service. The court of appeals found that it was error for Judge Goldie to characterize the fine as reimbursement to a law enforcement agency.
In addition, the court found that Judge Goldie was required to set a specific term of community service. Accordingly, Johnson will be re-sentenced on these two issues; however, the remainder of the sentence will stand.

Bachtel was killed while participating in the Calvin’s Challenge, an ultra-marathon race near Xenia, Ohio. Johnson crossed a double yellow line to pass a group of cyclists who were signaling for a left turn, and struck Bachtel as he was completing his turn. The Highway Patrol also determined that Johnson was traveling in excess of the speed limit at the time of the crash.

Good Answer!

Ex-‘Family Ties’ Actor Accused of DUI

June 2, 2004 03:50 PM EDT

BOULDER, Colo. – Brian Bonsall, the youngest member of the Keaton clan on television’s “Family Ties,” was arrested last week on suspicion of drunken driving.

Bonsall, 22, was arrested early Friday by police who said they saw someone vomit out the passenger side window of his car. Asked how much he had to drink, Bonsall responded, “Plenty,” then failed a roadside test.

Police said a blood test showed he had “excess alcohol content” but did not disclose the exact amount.

Bonsall, who lives in Boulder, starred as Andy Keaton for three seasons on the NBC sitcom in the late 1980s that helped launch the career of Michael J. Fox. Bonsall later appeared in episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the 1993 film “Father Hood.”

Bonsall was convicted of drunken driving in 2001 and his license was suspended, police said.

That’s a good answer… “plenty”. Not quite as good as my favorite reply to a foolish cop question (From “COPS”).

Foolish Cop: Why did you run away?
Shirtless Hillbilly: I was trying to get away from you bastards.