Thursday, February 28, 2013

How does this get to be the 'French way?'

Take a read of this KGW post - Portland mom tries 'French' way of raising kids. Is there anything particularly 'French' about it? Isn't it just good parenting?

He dared to criticize Obama

A lot is being made about Washington Post's Bob Woodward's claim that he was threaten by the White House. The media focus has been on the use of the word "regret" in a White House email. But that is in effect a red herring. The real focus ought to be on the fact that the White House used intimidation and resorted to petty vindictiveness to beat back Woodward's assertion that the president had moved the goal posts on the sequestration issue and that the president is wrong to use national security as a means to get his way on sequestration.

Without any denial, Woodward asserted that the White House on being noticed by him of his forthcoming editorial Obama’s sequester deal-changer yelled at him on the phone for a half and hour. In a subsequent emails the White House said: "You're focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. ... I think you will regret staking out that claim." [The Meaning Of 'Regret': Journalist Bob Woodward, White House Disagree].

Now in the plain meaning approach, it is difficult to argue that "regret" was meant as a threat, but it seems close. And it might be easily considered more than close given any knowledge about actual context and content of the phone "conversation" that preceded the White House email. And in a spite of vindictiveness - later a White House adviser suggested on Twitter that Woodward was past his prime.

For another view see Politico's Woodward Warmongering that suggests that the situation in context is overblown. But one wonders if this is not the smoke before the fire. The sequestration issue has exposed the continued partisanship in both parties choosing to call each other names rather than sitting down and solving the problem of their making.

But, Bob Woodward is no cub reporter, he is in fact the associate editor at the Washington Post and made his journalism mark with his and Carl Berstein's reporting on the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down. Mr. Woodward's journalism found in his Washington Post articles and editorials as well as his books over the years demonstrate his willingness to take on the power of the White House.

This administration has been secretive in its policies. E.g., the existence of the drone program to assassinate American citizens perceived as 'enemies of the state.' A retrospective analysis of this president 8 years will demonstrate that Constitutional rights have significantly suffered at the hands of this president in the name of terrorism. President Roosevelt's WWII internment policies will pale in comparison.

The Bob Woodwards are to be encouraged to represent the principles of a free press. We must have a free press that is not intimidated by the power of the White House. I would rather have an overreacting journalist than the Republican puppets at Fox News.

Thus this isn't about the meaning of the term "regret." It is really about a journalist daring to criticize a president. It may have been irksome to the White House that the criticism came from a journalist and newspaper depicted as 'liberal,' but that is just too bad.

Ah democracy - it isn't pretty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Say what? Prominent Republicans to submit brief in support of same-sex marriage

It is interesting that two of the supporters Meg Whitman and Jon Huntsman, Jr. have changed their tune post candidacy efforts. Easier to speak your conscience? [Prominent Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage].

He has a point

Mr. Blum is billed as a conservative. He heads the Project on Fair Representation and argues "that the Voting Rights Act and race-based preferences in college admissions are unconstitutional." This project is responsible for getting two cases to the US Supreme Court: Shelby County v. Holder and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (11-345). [Force Behind Race-Law Rollback Efforts Talks Voting Rights Case].

According to him, the Voting Rights Act is discriminatory in its effect. He states "that if we're going to have election laws that apply to Alabama and Texas, and to all these covered jurisdictions, those need to be the same laws that apply to places like Tennessee and Ohio and Oklahoma and Washington state." He adds that Congress' renewal of the 1965 voting act in 2006 used 1964 data that was relevant in 1965, but not in 2006. For Mr. Blum, the nation has changed making that data irrelevant.

Mr. Blum believes too that race-based admission policies in universities are unconstitutional: "I don't think a person's skin color or ethnicity should be a factor in university admissions, ever." The Fisher case:
"Petitioner Abigail Fisher, a white Texan, was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin for the Fall 2008 entering class. Fisher sued the university, arguing that the denial violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection because she was denied admission to the public university in favor of minority applicants with lesser credentials." [Fisher].
It is obvious that these laws at issue in both cases were effected as remedial action applicable to the discriminatory practices of the South. While racial segregation existed elsewhere - nowhere was it more egregious than in the South.

It is time to move on - might be Mr. Blum's sentiment. Using race or ethnicity as a factor is difficult, if not impossible, to use as a continued justification to right the wrongs of the past sins of the South. Sometime it has to stop - why not now? If not now -when?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Moral of the story - there is no oversight without independent and free press

The Oregonian story is about a clear violation by the Oregon Energy Department in issuing multiple energy tax credits where one was only permitted by law. [Shepherd's Flat wind farm's $30 million in tax credits will be reviewed by Oregon Energy Department].

For Oregon we are forced to rely on the Oregonian as the source for investigative news. The other news media are either too small or unwilling to budget their money for those purposes. Problem is that the Oregonian is shrinking in its ability and it shows. The three day a week print publishing appears to be close at hand. While it is still able to come up with the excellent public interest reports, one doubts that it can continue to do so.

Some public means of financing newspapers may be needed. Some public subsidy seems in order. It is frankly a better use of federal dollars to subsidize operation of newspapers than the tax subsidies and credits given to virtually any "green" company.

Democracy is inter-dependent on an independent press.



Following the right wing money to Cascade Policy Institute

The Center for Public Integrity has followed the money trail from conservative donors to various recipients via Donors Trust. One of the recipients is Cascade Policy Institute a Portland Oregon 'think tank.' [Following the Donors Trust money trail | The Center for Public Integrity]. Interesting - no?

App connected homes - what could go wrong

The SFGate has a piece about the future home being connected with one's personal mobile device. [SmartThings puts Internet to work at home]. One of the simple examples is the ability to answer the front door when not at home. It also talks about other 'benefits' that were once tried by Sears, many decades ago, where timers would start your coffee or other devices that plugged into the house AC. But now Cisco and Microsoft have added items like sensors (might determine when to turn on the lights or sprinklers) apparently all monitored and controlled via the Internet and presumably available at some cost to the user.

But if you can monitor and control it via a smartphone, tablet, of some other sort of mobile device - so can others. There is hardly any prevention against hacking. While one might believe that an automated house has benefits, it adds too the ability to track an individual. Any time a mobile device is on and used tracking is enabled, and it shouldn't be difficult to determine one's mobile location and the location of the house.

A great TV show Person of Interest depicts surveillance abilities that are not some abstract, fanciful scriptwriter's concepts. Much of the surveillance abilities are individually available today, although maybe not tied together through some single source as shown on the show. But the marketplace continues to fill in any gaps in the connection.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Self defense? Oscar Pistorius murder case

The shooter and victim are two high profile people in South Africa. The shooter is an athlete and the victim was a model. The killing took place in a gated community refuge from crime and from black people. This is South Africa where apartheid is not too far in the past. The case is tinged with racism, corrupt and bumbling police and, not surprising, high crime rates.

Certain facts are not in doubt - Pistorius shot and killed his model girlfriend in their residence. She was located in the bathroom toilet. He admits firing four shots through the toilet door. The prosecutors - premeditated murder. Pistorius - self defense believing that the person in the bathroom was an intruder.

The important facts will be ferreted out at the trial. As might be expected most of the media coverage has been more engaged in sensationalism rather than fact finding. I commend the Guardian UK' interactive depicting the crime scene. [Oscar Pistorius: Pretoria house where Reeva Steenkamp was killed - interactive].

The exact time of the shooting is unclear, but the police arrived at 4:15 am. The shooter claims he got up in the middle of the night and [see the interactive] went out to the balcony to the right of the bedroom to collect a fan. It is here on the balcony that he hears an intruder in the bathroom.

Why would any one suspect that there was an intruder was in the bathroom?

One must consider that the bedroom and bathroom is on the second floor. Consider too that the residence is in a community that "is protected by high walls, electric fencing, security guards, laser sensors, biometric “thumbprint” locks, all overseen by closed-circuit cameras." And, peek at the location of the residence within the community, hardly a place an intruder would seek out for any nefarious reason.

Why would an intruder 'hide' in the toilet? And if there - he or she would be cornered. Look at the interactive. The bathroom area is open with only the toilet having a door.

But assume an intruder in the bathroom for some reason. The shooter goes to the bed and gets his gun and proceeds to the bathroom toilet door and fires 4 shots. Why? There was no way out for the "intruder."  Surely if he would have called out to the 'intruder' she would have answered.

Assuming he heard an intruder - why didn't he alert his girlfriend who he 'believes' is still sleeping in the bed? The gun was hidden under the mattress. How could he have possibly missed the fact that she was not in the bed? How could he not be aware that it was his girlfriend in the toilet?

There are a host of spurious issues raised, but none so far raise any issue as to what might have motivated a legitimate self defense. Frankly, the death is quite easily explained as premeditated murder, but the bumbling of the police may set this man free. And, interestingly enough, South Africa criminal trials are before a judge - not a jury.

Here is a run at some of the issues that can be seen in the press coverage. ABC News' coverage offers insights into many of them  It doesn't appear that he called the police or instigated any calls to security, but the shooter "says he called the manager of the housing estate, and asked him to place a call for an ambulance. He says that he also called a private paramedic service. " But none of the four devices found by the police demonstrate that he called anyone; however, there is a mysterious fifth device claimed.

The locked toilet door. It is unclear if the toilet door was actually locked or not. If there was an intruder in the bathroom toilet - and why would the intruder be there  - why not call the police? The locked bathroom door gains some credibility because it was apparently beaten open with a cricket stick. But what kind of lock would it have been? That type of 'lock' is typically designed to deter entrance not prevent.

There is an issue of the apparent line of fire. The shooter is a double amputee and walks on blades that have to be strapped on. Thus his height is considerably different dependent on whether the 'legs' are strapped on or not. The issue is important because the police say he had the blades on and the shooter says not. If the police are correct - not only is the shooter lying it takes away from the urgency of the situation.

Why did he carry her body downstairs and not left upstairs in the bathroom where she was hit with three of the four shots?

It seems an uphill battle to prove self defense, but the crime was committed in a country far different from ours. Justice may well be influenced by the celebrity status of the shooter even though the victim too was a celebrity.

Resources:

Drones in Niger - purely for surveillance?

U.S. Troops Launch Drone Base in Niger.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Crisis governing where the crises are of government's making

The sequester has been a series of political gambits by both parties. Its effect will have major impacts on our economy possibly more damaging than the effects of the latest recession. It is apparently real to everyone but the political leaders that continue to wrangle amongst themselves for pure political gain.

If you are interested:

LaHood Tries to 'Wake Up' GOP on Sequester : Roll Call News
The sequester: A Q&A - CBS News
Sequester of Fools - NYTimes.com
The D.C. Dubstep - NYTimes.com

Another less-than-successful green venture funded in part by the feds

Autoblog Green has this interesting piece about a South Korean firm LG Chem that has committed fraud against the US government and GM. Now no one is calling it "fraud" or even "criminal," but if there is a distinction it is drawn with a very fine line. [DOE confirms LG Chem battery plant workers were paid not to make Chevy Volt batteries].

LG Chem was to produce batteries for the GM Volt in 2012. To that end, LG Chem was funded by the feds $142 million in cash (possibly drawn down from a credit line) and $175 million in tax breaks, and, of course, they were to hire 400. Well they hired 200 and failed to produce one battery. And the 200 hired were paid not to work.

Somebody blew the whistle and the feds audited: "We confirmed the allegations. We found that work performed under the grant to LG Chem Michigan had not been managed effectively. Based on progress to date and despite the expenditures of $142 million in Recovery Act funds, LG Chem Michigan had not yet achieved the objectives outlined in its Department-approved project plan."

I especially liked the "had not been managed effectively" part. A gross understatement that. And the response, a second try at explaining, from LG Chem: "In a statement to Automotive News, LG Chem admitted that the audit was correct and that it was "acutely aware of the disappointment from the delays in our start of production."

And the spin: they were "acutely aware of the disappointment . . . ." However, not even obliquely referenced in the Autoblog article is the cost to GM for the failed production. Apparently the feds are seeking repayment, but what about the tax breaks? I wonder - what will be the administrative costs to reset the clock?

Autoblog muses: "Whether LG Chem joins the list of less-than-successful ventures funded in part by the federal government – A12 Systems [should be A123 Systems], EnerDel and Solyndra – remains to be seen." [Links are Autoblog's.] These three companies have suffered bankruptcies.

Thus, the difference is that LG Chem is apparently not in any financial difficulty. Autoblog: "In 2011, Lux Research ranked LG Chem tops in the lithium-ion battery industry . . . ." Given the GM Volt experience -how does LG Chem make the top of the list?

$142 mil in cash and $175 mil in tax breaks - for 200 jobs that produced nada. At least some of the 200 "used the work day to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, at animal shelters and outdoor nature centers." That was probably a better use of the stimulus funds.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

US senator proudly asserts 4,700 killed in drone strikes

""We've killed 4,700," [Repulican Senator] Graham was quoted as saying by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley. "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda," he told the local Rotary Club."" [US senator says 4,700 killed in drone strikes].

Collateral damage in an undeclared war fought by military gamers. I wonder how many "senior members of al-Qaeda" are in the 4,700? I sure feel relieved that the good senator hates killing innocent people.

Gee - as long as "war" is declared, however waged unconstitutionally, then the killing of innocent people is justified.

An excellent read - legal brief in support of same sex marriage

It is a case before the United States Supreme Court - Hollingsworth v. Perry in which California's Proposition 8 is challenged. The brief is rather long for casual reading, but reading pages 1 to 16 is sufficient. Keep in mind that 16 legal pages is far less than 16 pages of normal text. [Challengers to Proposition 8 file merits brief : SCOTUSblog].

Oh please! Military's new medal for cyber warriors and drone pilots

"Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who announced the new award on Wednesday, said the military needed a medal that recognizes that post-9/11 warfare is different with servicemembers at consoles in the U.S. directly affecting the outcome of enemy engagements." [VFW Wants New Medal Ranked Lower].

Worse yet the medals are ranked higher than "both the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Purple Heart – medals typically awarded for combat in which the servicemember's life is at risk." The VFW's position: "The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact on the battlefield in real-time, but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear." [VFW Wants New Medal Ranked Lower].

While defending your country sitting in front of what might well be considered little more than a game console exhibiting skills that gamers across the world exhibit for entertainment might deserve some recognition; however, it ought to be measured against the risk of the particular service performed.

It is incomprehensible that anyone, especially the military, could equate the roles played by those in a comparative cushy environments with those actually placing their lives on the line in service to their country. "Thank you for your service" will be an empty phrase. The ranking of these cyber warrior medals dishonors the service of men and women that have fought in combat.

The two medals mentioned by the VFW are medals for extra-ordinary service, not something for completion of a tour of duty or completion of the term of enlistment.
"The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military." [Purple Heart - Wikipedia].
"The Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria. A Purple Heart is awarded for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an oak leaf cluster is worn in lieu of the medal. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant. A "wound" is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above. A physical lesion is not required; however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record. When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award. The Purple Heart is not awarded for non-combat injuries.[6]" [Purple Heart - Wikipedia].
"The Bronze Star Medal is an individual military award of the United States Armed Forces. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with the "V" device." [Bronze Star Medal - Wikipedia].
"The "V" device may be authorized for wear on specific decorations awarded to any service member. In the Army and Air Force the device denotes that a specific individual decoration resulted from an act of combat heroism. In the Navy and Marine Corps, the Combat "V" may be authorized for wear to denote valor or being exposed to personal hazard involving direct participation in combat operations." [Bronze Star Medal - Wikipedia].
Where is the heroism and valor in military gaming?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Outrage in Russia over adopted Russian boy’s death in U.S

As it seems to be the case of Internet journalism - it takes a read of multiple articles to piece together the story, and even then, it is often not complete. The death of the adopted Russian boy is case in point.
In almost all articles the story is being cast in terms of the cold war. It seems that some just can't move on.

Rather than consider the allegations by the Russians as having some merit - their outrage over this child's death is seen as retaliation by Russia for the US's legislation "targeting Russian officials accused of corruption and rights abuses." [NYTimes].

First off I admit that I don't see why American would be parents should seek to adopt children of any other country. Surely there are sufficient children in the US needing adoption.

It is not cheap to adopt from Russia. It cost $40,000 to $60,000. It isn't clear that door to door adoption time, but apparently a match between parents and child can be achieved in less than 12 months. And two trips to Russia part of the process among many reports and the like.

In this case the child Maxim, age 3, and his younger brother were brought to Texas in November 2012 and by January 21, 2013 he was dead. Apparently he died in the emergency room. The younger brother is still with the adoptive parents. An autopsy and toxicology tests are not yet available, although it has been 2 months since the death.

Russian officials, in particular Russia's Children's Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov, "said Monday that Max died after being fed psychiatric drugs by his adoptive parents," and "Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's special representative for human rights, issued a statement saying that Max (formerly Maxim Kuzmin) also had signs of injuries that "could only be caused by strong blows."" [ABC News].

It isn't clear where the Russian officials have obtained their information, but it is clear that Texas officials have not denied the claims only asking that the process be permitted to be completed before conclusions are drawn.

The Russian claims are also strengthen by a month delay in notification to Russian officials. It isn't clear that there was any obligation for notice to the Russian adoption officials, but they fear the worse and suspect a cover-up. Russians have been prosecuting their claims with the US State Department, in the press as well internally in Russia.

Somewhat odd and disturbing though is that the 2 year old brother, not named or pictured in any of the stories below, remains with the adoptive parents. Arguably though that might be evidence that Max's death has more the earmarks of an accidental death.

It is odd too that none of the stories have any information why the child was taken to the emergency room.

The autopsy and toxicology reports ought to be in soon. If it is determined that there was no foul play - it will be hard to convince the Russians. If there was foul play, the younger brother will be rescued, and hopefully the cold war rhetoric will be dropped.

Maybe "Made in the USA" might apply to adoptions too.


Resources:

Religious dissonance

How can one believe that God influences sports outcomes, 27 percent say yes, and reconcile stories like this from the New York Times Msgr. Kevin Wallin’s Swift Fall, to Drug Suspect or the multitude of stories on priest pedophiles?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Truth-O-Meter doesn't measure veracity, not even truthiness

PolitiFact Oregon attempts and fails to test the statement by an Oregon state senator that one in eight Oregon children and one in 18 adults suffer from mental illness. They falsely conclude that it is mostly true.

They start out well noting that the statistics were not based upon diagnosed cases of mental illness. They found out that the basis of the stats is that they "take census figures annually and apply a standard formula developed in the late 1990s to determine how many people have a "serious mental illness" or "serious emotional disturbances."

Census data and standard formula so if the Oregon population increases according to census data then we have more mental illness, and of course the reverse is true too. But it gets better, e.g., "the research institute [National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute] applies a percentage to the civilian adult population -- in this case, 5.4 percent -- to derive the estimated number of people 18 years and older with a "serious mental illness."

One well ask where does the 5.4% come from? Well ask all you want, PolitiFact Oregon assumes that is correct or at least not subject to any further scrutiny and its inquiry essentially ends there. Thus using the institutes' determined percentage, made up out of whole cloth as far as anyone knows, PolitiFact Oregon applies that to the census data and voilĂ  the senator had it correct.

In fairness to the senator he had used a statistic that he should have been able to rely on because of the source's apparent credibility. However, PolitiFact Oregon just gives up any attempt to erase a skepticism it had at the beginning and finds: that "all in all, it’s hard to argue with a nationally accepted standard . . .  ." All the more true when you don't try.

2013 and this still goes on

Executive, accused of drunkenly slapping baby on plane, loses job, as if that wasn't bad enough he apparently had used the "N" word in referring to the baby. And this baby slapper is an executive with credentials.

And this: 'No black nurses' lawsuit: Nurse asked not to touch infant. It is alleged that the apparent father had a swastika tattoo. It is bad enough that there are people that have such stupid views, but it is worse that the hospital honored the request. What were they thinking?

Rename the school - that is a solution to what?

The headline: North Portland neighborhood groups consider resolution against school names that honor slave traders. And that is going to do what for the school's performance? These parents don't have their heads on straight.

See the data from the Oregonian database on two schools named after former slave holders: Jefferson High SchoolMadison High School. The schools' rather dismal performance has nothing to do with their names. Maybe it has more to do with the irrational and illogical reasoning processes of the parents.





Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sen. Menendez: Influence peddling another shade of political corruption?

One might wonder what is worse being accused of using prostitutes, however legal, or being accused of using political influence in exchange for money? It is not difficult to see the moral and ethical implications of either even though the illegality may be difficult to assert and prove in the latter case.

It is a story that at first seemed more like political skulduggery than anything of real substance. The initial media attention came from the story of Senator Menendez using prostitutes while in the Dominican Republic - it is legal. But it quickly became the story of how "campaign donations" appeared to be more like an exchange of money for the purchase of political influence. [American politics - absence of ethics].

It is too a story how the middle class with the lower income in tow are constantly taken for a ride by the political leaders in this country. It is the large campaign donors that benefit. Yes - it is worse in many other countries where corruption is an acknowledged part of the political system. But in the US it is hidden often in the cloak of campaign donations. It reminds me of the cloak of Dracula that he would drag across him to obscure his persistence of evil.

The Washington Post with some effort and time into an investigation has a more complete analysis: Dominican Republic port contract scrutinized, along with senator, eye doctor’s relationship. However, what was once only a story about the good senator and his wealthy campaign donor now includes the American Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. With the two American officials focusing their efforts on behalf of their benefactor the Florida Eye doctor Melgen.

It is a story also about how ethnic alliances overshadows the obligation to represent the interests of the citizens of the United States. Dr. Melgen is a Florida resident, not in New Jersey where Menendez is a senator. The ambassador, a veteran Latino civil rights advocate arguably owes his position to Melgen and Menendez. However, other than the connection to a Dominican port security contract and his residence there, Melgen's connection in the Dominican Republic isn't clear.

The port security contract is a "deal [that] had languished for more than a decade amid stiff resistance from the American Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of American and local businessmen in the Dominican Republic, and the country’s customs authorities." [Washington Post].

Now what would be the logical interest that the ambassador and the senator would or should be supporting? Not the eye doctor from Florida who has supported the ambassador and the senator. But it is the eye doctor Melgen's  investment in the port contract that will be financially enhanced if the port contract is enforced.

And it can be surmised that both the ambassador and the senator will subsequently be beneficiaries.
It is one thing to recognize that large campaign donors have the inside line to the recipient of those donations. But ask yourself - but for those donations would the Senator and the Ambassador be opposing those interests that they would ordinarily back?

Friendships bonded with dollars are nearly unbreakable.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tax flight myth

The concept that tax increases on the rich causes their migration is making news again because of the French actor moving to Russia and the American golfer suggesting he will move from California because of taxes.  Thus, the tax conservatives who advocate for lower taxes on the rich argue that increasing taxes on the rich will cause a loss of revenue to the country and to the state.

"It turns out that a large majority of people move for far more compelling reasons, like jobs, the cost of housing, family ties or a warmer climate. At least three recent academic studies have demonstrated that the number of people who move for tax reasons is negligible, even among the wealthy." [High Taxes Are Not a Prime Reason for Relocation, Studies Say].

One of the studies, Tax Flight Is a Myth — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  "The effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small — so small that states that raise income taxes on the most affluent households can be assured of a substantial net gain in revenue."

The study critically evaluates an ECONorthwest analysis of an Oregon 2009 legislative proposal to increase marginal tax rate that warned: “The data are clear. If the state raises the tax rate on affluent households, substantial numbers will move income out of Oregon.” However, the Tax Flight Is a Myth study states that ECONorthwest study doesn't stand up under scrutiny:
"In short, the ECONorthwest study wrongly blames taxes for a set of changes in residency and migration patterns that actually reflect other economic and demographic factors, such as retirements, housing price differentials, and differences in business cycles."
In Appendix II, the Tax Flight Is a Myth study elaborates on the three reasons ECONorthwest analysis is flawed. I am not going to regurgitate the three reasons, but I can't help but call attention to this passage depicting the partial influence on migration out of Portland Metro to Washington:
"The City of Portland was perceived by some of its residents as very “liberal” politically, aggressive in enforcing stringent environmental regulations that affected residents and businesses alike, and tolerant of people with perceived “alternative lifestyles.” Many of these residents cringed at the phrase found on many bumper stickers, tee shirts, and signs in Portland saying “Keep Portland Weird!”  Schools and public safety were perceived to have deteriorated in the city. By contrast, Clark County was perceived as “family friendly.” Schools were viewed as newer and better funded than in Multnomah County, and streets safer. Clark County had more open space. Houses had larger yards in which kids could play. There was less exposure to people who engaged in lifestyles perceived by some to be undesirable."
The bottom line for Oregon: "While tax increases might cause some affluent Oregonians to cross the state line, this effect will not significantly shrink Oregon’s overall income tax base. The affluent Oregonians who stay put will pay higher taxes that will dwarf any revenue lost if a few leave."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Portrait of Jesus in public schools - when will they ever learn?

"It boggles the mind that in 2013, a public school superintendent and school board would not understand that a devotional painting of Jesus, called 'The Head of Christ,' — identical to millions hanging in churches and Sunday school classrooms around the country — may not be posted at the entrance of a middle school." [Ohio School Will Go To Court Over A Portrait Of Jesus].

The school's position's is that the painting is not owned by the school, but by a student club. Of course, even assuming that ridiculous position, it is the school that has given permission to post the painting on public school property.

When asked if a portrait of Mohammad could be posted, the school superintendent responded that "the French Club could put up a picture of the Eiffel tower." Huh? It isn't clear how that follows and speaks more to the superintendent's ability to think clearly.

It is a public, secular school not a parochial school.

Ah - religion: separate but equal praying opportunities

In Israel women were detained, arrest without jail, for having the temerity to pray as the men. Praying at the Western Wall, is gender separated. According to NPR it is an old and ongoing battle: "The Women of the Wall have been fighting for years for permission to worship in the manner that men do at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism for prayer." [Women In Prayer Shawls Detained At Judaism's Holiest Site].

What is it about women? Why must they be assigned or consigned to second class status? How does any religion justify its disparaging treatment of women merely because they are women. Catholics and Muslims are similar and differ only in degree.

Doesn't this attitude set the stage for violence against and abuse of women?





Arms (F-16s) sales to Taiwan - why?

A senator from Texas wants "to force the Obama administration to sell Taiwan the 66 F-16C/D models it has sought in the past." Now it come as no surprise that the planes are built in Texas. One wonders why Taiwan needs advanced fighter aircraft other than the sale will greatly enrich the Texas company. [Senior U.S. senator faults Taiwan over arms complacency].

Shameful politics: "Cornyn has used his senatorial powers twice in past two years to delay consideration of Obama's nominees for senior jobs at the U.S. State Department and Defense Department in an effort to push the sale of new F-16s."

Taiwan's only possible enemy is China. But really folks the days of David and Goliath are long past and the connection between China and Taiwan is prior to them. The Wikipedia has a decent entry on Taiwan.

Taiwan has little legal recognition as a nation, but while it is economically successful republic its continued separation from mainland China is in doubt. China maintains a patient agenda to welcoming Taiwan back.

It is unlikely (zero chance) the US would like it did in 1950 send its ships into the Straits of Formosa "to prevent any conflict between the Republic of China and the PRC, effectively putting Taiwan under American protection." [Taiwan].

China is a major, if not the major, world economic powerhouse completing effectively with large countries like the US and Russia and with the European Union. It is a major player in the political and economic global affairs.

Thus the obvious question: How are the US interests well served by increasing military tensions between China and Taiwan?


It is the 21st century - isn't it?

Gay couples cannot raise children, says Welsh secretary.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Constitution, waging 'war' and technology.

Can it be argued that government is not bound by consideration of morals and ethics? Aren't the laws of this country and other countries where democracy reigns based upon principles saturated with moral and ethical considerations? Should those laws be skirted and justified by legal obfuscation and disregard for those principles?

The US Constitution provides the explicit statement of the moral and ethical considerations that governs all law and rule making by our government. In the US this extends to all levels of government.

To insure that the guiding principles of the constitution are obeyed, the founders creatively established checks and balances ostensibly to prevent one branch of government from assuming powers not granted in the constitution.

But we the people have a substantial role to play:
"It is up to each generation to see that the integrity of the Constitutional structure for a free society is maintained by carefully preserving the system of checks and balances essential to limited and balanced government. "To preserve them (is) as necessary as to institute them," said George Washington."" [checks and balances].
It is the voting citizens that have a role in maintaining the checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It is we the people who elect the president, representatives, and senators and through that process influence the composition of the judiciary.

But the checks and balances only work if they are applied. And they haven't been in the waging of war since WWII. It is not too difficult to read the Constitution and understand that it is Congress that can declare war and it is the executive branch that implements that declaration.

"Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war. The President, meanwhile, derives the power to direct the military after a Congressional declaration of war from Article II, Section 2, which names the President Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces." [War Powers | LII / Legal Information Institute]. But see how the cart has been placed before the horse fromExecutive military power:
"In the twentieth century several U.S. presidents have committed U.S. armed forces without a declaration of war. In 1903 and 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt took military action in Panama and the Dominican Republic without consulting Congress. President Woodrow Wilson sent troops into Mexico without congressional approval. But, the most serious infractions began in 1951, when President Harry S. Truman ordered troops to Korea as part of a United Nations "police action." This was followed, in the 1960s and 1970s, by the Vietnam War, which Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon prosecuted without a congressional declaration."
In the era immediately post-WWII, it was quite easy to define "war" and so too the battlefield. Even if war wasn't declared for the Korean War or even for the Vietnam War - it was clear that it was war and that war techniques were standard fare. It was sort of 'I know it when I see it."

Congress attempted to take back what was rightfully theirs and theirs alone - power to declare war - by passing the War Powers Act in 1973:
"After the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Administrations had spent nearly a decade committing U.S. troops to Southeast Asia without Congressional approval, Congress responded by passing the War Powers Resolution in 1973. The War Powers Resolution requires that the President communicate to Congress the committal of troops within 48 hours. Further, the statute requires the President to remove all troops after 60 days if Congress has not granted an extension."
But, they are merely words on a page. The failure to follow the constitutional process for war engagement has lead to a usurpation by the executive branch of congressional power to declare war. The failure of the Congress' 1973 attempted retake of that power has led to the executive branch involving this nation in more hostile actions against sovereign nations and their citizens.

One still has their head where the sun doesn't shine if they believe that the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with weapons of mass destruction. And the long drawn out engagement against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has had little connection to 9-11. Saudi Arabia has far more connection to 9-11 than either Iraq or Afghanistan.

After 9-11 it is clear that the decision to wage war rests primarily in the executive branch. The government rather than a policy of nothing to fear but fear itself has used terrorism fear to essentially rewrite the constitution watering down civil rights guaranteed under the constitutional. It has also used that fear to bullying its international allies and enemies (if you are not an ally you are an enemy).

Technology once thought to be liberation of the masses has become the tool by which the executive branch defines war and its prosecution. Congress is still in the early 1900s with its view of what constitutes the waging of war and where it can be fought.

But today, combat doesn't require the foreign placement of troops. Tanks are obsolete. Fighter airplanes are unlikely to have any real combat value except to demonstrate useless air superiority. Bomber type airplanes have little value except in the dollar sense. However, it can be argued that the Navy,even downsized, has significant potential because of its ability to reposition itself.

And the age of the Internet has brought enhanced commercial and military communication facilities to the world which the US has smartly recognized and capitalized on to its great military advantage. Much like the ability of the car driver to follow the digital map that accurately leads to the destination, so too the ability of the military to accurately strike individual targets, human too, from great distances.

Long range remote control wars is what constitutes waging war. Tactical nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, and now drones position the 'battlefield' anywhere desired. This battlefield can be as little as the space occupied by a human walking down the street. There is no risk to military personnel 'squeezing the trigger.'

There is no face to face confrontation. Thousand and thousand of miles can separate the combatants. The 'target' has no awareness of his or her impending destruction. Arguably too while facial recognition of the target is a likely technology, it isn't needed to justify the target's destruction. And that destruction can come from those sitting in what might be described as the comforts of playing a video game, except that there is less human emotion involved.

And now it is the executive branch -the president - who defines the enemy combatant. Who is the enemy combatant in many ways smacks of a crusade where "Christians" are battling "Muslims" for the "Holy Land," although the"Holy Land" is far less circumscribed.

Consequently, with terrorism as the base justification for military action, the executive branch has loosely defined the enemy as anyone belonging to Al Qaeda or any of their supporters. There is no 'capture and take prisoners' aspect to this new way of waging war. Certainly the experience of Gitmo has exposed to the world the federal government's inhuman treatment of POWs. It is barbaric.

With the new technology, especially that of drones, there is no need to take prisoners - just execute them on the newly defined battlefield. If that execution happens to destroy adjacent located family and friends . . . .

Can anyone doubt that American tactics act more to spawn more hatred among the nations where their citizens are being destroyed? Like or not, Afghanistan should have provided the lesson plan, and the citizens of the countries invaded from the air (drones) are Muslim and do not necessarily see Al Qaeda as their enemy. And most certainly these countries and their citizens had nothing to do with 9-11.

Of course. it shouldn't go without notice that these extraordinary killings often involve the invasion of another country's sovereignty in violation of international law. The mere fact that the country is incapable of preventing such invasions doesn't make it right. Wasn't that WWII?

How does the the executive branch defend the indefensible? Can its actions be justified with some self-defense and first strike theory? And can the drone killing of American citizens ever be justified?

Resources:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Items I come across while researching: "Kill 'em All': American Korean War atrocities

While looking for supporting materials I often come across material that had no relevance to the subject matter of my research, but still become an item of interest because of its content. This particular atrocity drew my attention because the US just doesn't do these things do they?

The Korean War began in 1950 as part of the ever increasing tensions between the United States and Russia (Soviet Union). It seems a wonder that the US was even able to fight the North Koreans to the standoff that still exists today. A war never formally declared nor its end. That is another story.

But it is the atrocities by the US military that startled me. "Declassified military documents recently found in the US National Archives show clearly how US commanders repeatedly, and without ambiguity, ordered forces under their control to target and kill Korean refugees caught on the battlefield." [BBC: Kill 'em All': The American Military in Korea, last updated 2-17-2011].

This particular event was horrific. The US military seemed to be panicking because of the effect the number of refugees, some 2 million, from the North were crossing into the South through US battle lines. An order was given: 'No, repeat, no refugees will be permitted to cross battle lines at any time. Movement of all Koreans in group will cease immediately.'

"On the very day that the US 8th Army delivered its stop refugee order in July 1950, up to 400 South Korean civilians gathered by the bridge were killed by US forces from the 7th Cavalry Regiment. Some were shot above the bridge, on the railroad tracks. Others were strafed by US planes. More were killed under the arches in an ordeal that local survivors say lasted for three days."

A US  veteran recalls: "There was a lieutenant screaming like a madman, fire on everything, kill 'em all. I didn't know if they were soldiers or what. Kids, there was kids out there, it didn't matter what it was, eight to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, they shot 'em all.'"

It wasn't until September 1999 that this story came to light through the efforts of Associated Press team. This nation can't afford to lose this kind of journalism that never stops. The mere existence of the Internet cannot be viewed as a substitute for aggressive and effective news organizations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Government is listening - but don't worry, it's too late.

"Audio recording is a capability that came standard with the new buses," said TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. "It's not something special we ordered. But we are using it as part of the surveillance system." [TriMet's newest buses are recording passenger conversations; ACLU not pleased].

The government knows

"Using public data from Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla and Foursquare, the software - called RIOT, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology - apparently gathers uploaded information and forms a profile of a person's every move that was registered with one of the�websites." [Raytheon software trolls social networks].

"The Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analyzing 'trillions of entities' from cyberspace."

City of Portland Part I Crime Stats Through January 26

City of Portland Part I Crime Stats Through January 26

So much for the "truth" in the truth commission

Iran denies officials to be questioned over Buenos Aires bombing.

The Economist: Stats of the Union, a must see graphic

The interactive chart has three main categories: Economics, Demographics, and Politics. See United States map and guide: Stats of the union.

Sin of omission

The Cardinal removed from his duties, after the damage was done, because of his role in the cover-up of sex abuse of children in Los Angeles has been singled out for another sin, and surely these are sins: Cardinal Mahony used cemetery money to pay sex abuse settlement.

It appears to be legal, not that it makes it right, to have used the money, in fact, the good cardinal probably had no other choice. He just conveniently left that fund off the publicly announced list of sources for settlement funding. It is not too hard to imagine the push back if he had told the parishioners his intention.

But arguably the parishioners would have approved, even if grudgingly. But it is just one more deception by the Church and this cardinal. One suspects that there will be more revelations as the media gets around to doing their job.

There are two interesting aspects in the story. One is that "[a]n official archdiocese history published in 2006 recounts how the faithful of Mora's era [Bishop Mora opened the fund in 1896] were assured their money was "in the custody of an organization of unquestionable integrity and endurance" — the Catholic Church."

The other is that the Vatican wasn't willing to even loan the money to help fund the settlement. The Catholic Church as represented by the Vatican has continually distanced itself from responsibility for the sexual abuse of children entrusted to them by God. When it comes to the secular legal responsibilities - the local dioceses are on their own. I understand the probable legal ramifications associated any admission of responsibility, but doesn't the moral and ethical responsibilities top legal?


Monday, February 11, 2013

Bail reduction is just so wrong

So much for holding people accountable for their actions. Of course the Oregonian, being the Oregonian, fails to tell us why the bail was reduced. But, this is a case where it is clear that this person is responsible (allegedly as the Oregonian puts it) for the death of another. His blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.  [Bail reduced for man charged in Old Town drunk-driving crash that killed Gresham woman].

Don't expect the sentencing, assuming a guilty verdict, to be of any consequence. Drunk driving is socially acceptable.

Pope resigns

Portland's new archbishop's perspective on the selection process: "We entrust this process to the Holy Spirit. God will raise up a shepherd for the church according to his own heart." "It's not my church. It's not the pope's church. It's Christ's church and he will care for it." [Pope Benedict XVI's resignation: Portland's new archbishop says pope will be remembered for his leadership].

I am cynical, but the archbishop seems to be shifting the blame to his god for the problems of the church. One might view the church as belonging to Christ, but it wasn't Christ that created an environment that permitted pedophiliac priests to sexually abuse children for decades.

The archbishop speaks like the hierarchy of the past - flamboyant priestly double talk that has absolutely no substance and no meaning to the here and now. The Catholic Church has been back-stepping for decades. It is hardly likely that Pope Benedict will, in retrospect, be seen as an effective leader.

When it came to protecting the children of the church and punishing those that did not - this pope's leadership failed. The Church under this pope has put secular concerns first. The Church has exalted its earthly concerns over parishioners spiritual needs.

This pope is like the secular elected leaders that forget the reasons that they were elected and proceed on policies that have nothing to do with the everyday life of those they are to lead. And there is no reason to expect the next pope to be any different.

If there is a guardian at the gates of heaven - surely this pope will not get a free pass. He might not be joining the pedophile priests in their hell, but in the false world of heaven and hell is there a place in heaven?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Violence against women

"We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this earth, though it's almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn't have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender." [A rape a minute, a thousand corpses a year].

From the above author: "Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women, and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they've gotten so used to they hardly notice - and we hardly address."

A rape a minute, a thousand corpses a year is an excellent article. It is well written and covers the broad range  of violence where women are the primary victim, rape is just one. E.g., domestic violence is predominantly male on female violence.

Even a brief search of the Net demonstrates that there seems to be a need by men to exercise control over women and is manifested in some men by violence through rape and beatings. While there are women who rape and beat, they are in a very narrow minority.

It seems clear though that it isn't the sex that is important to the rapist - it is the 'need' to exercise control over another, and that is easiest to exercise when the victim is vulnerable. However, not all men are violent rapists, but being male is a risk factor.

But to acknowledge the male gender risk factor fails to address the why. Are there just some men that cannot control themselves? Is it genetic?  Or is it cultural depravity that seeks to excuse men by blaming the victim.

The Times of India had this story Why Indian men rape. ". . . the truth is that at the root of it all lies a culture built around hierarchies, of gender, faith, colour, caste, region." It is "[a] mindset that since the time of that deviant philosopher called Manu has refused to see “the weaker sex” as anything but property and the receptacle of male sperms."

Take a peek at this List of Rape Myths. It is incomprehensible that any of these myths would find support among the reasonable and rational thinking. It seems to be part of the cultural deviance that rather than hold individuals liable for their failure to exercise self-control to make them a victim.

See more examples of unreasonable and irrational thinking: Why the 'nice guys commit rape too' conversation is not helpful.

The Glory of Being Female  is another well written article exposing our culture, and others for that matter, where men have an insatiable, albeit non-violent, need to control women - it almost seems global. The author rightfully states: "Has there ever been a more contentious battlefield than the female body? Everybody wants a piece of it."

It is more than difficult to comprehend the superiority that men (but not all) exhibit when it comes to women. Why is it that women are placed and held in such a low status essentially because of gender? It isn't based upon fact. Women can and have so demonstrated that they can equally perform any job that a man does. "I am superior if for no other reason than I am a male," just how ridiculous is that?

Are the Condoleezza Rices, Hillary Clintons, and Madeleine Albrights of the world aberrations? Can anyone rationally argue that women's only place in the world is in the home? Is it a viable argument that women are inferior merely because of gender?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why is he being released?

In 1993 he plead guilty to killing two Portland women. Stabbed one in 1990 and strangled the next one in 1991. 20 years later he is to be released. One wonders, especially since the media don't tell us, what the families of the victims think about the release. No details about the crimes, but it is difficult to see any justice in this release. [Ore. trucker who killed women to be released].

It is too bad that KGW didn't put some effort into this story.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Portland Police Bureau Mental Health Call Summary Since November 30

Portland Police Bureau Mental Health Call Summary Since November 30

India is not a democracy when women and children are sexually abused

"A government [India] panel appointed after the attack to examine the country's treatment of women also shone a light on the high incidence of child sexual abuse and the failure of the government to ensure the implementation of child protection laws." [Sexual abuse of children 'rampant' in India, and  Confronting India's culture of rape].

Human Rights Watch has this startling report Breaking the Silence on the sexual abuse of children in India, e.g., "[s]tudies suggest that more than 7,200 children, including infants, are  raped every year; experts believe that many more cases go unreported."

A culture or society is substantially morally deficient when the vulnerable of that culture or society are sexually abused especially when that abuse is carried out in state institutions by those that run the institutions. "What is most shocking about the abuse is that it happened in  a well-respected facility [Apna Ghar, a residential care facility for orphans and other vulnerable children] that was regularly inspected by government officials.  Its director, Jaswanti Devi, had recently been named Haryana state’s  “woman role model of the year.
". . .the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the facility to investigate the girls’ allegations of abuse. The head of the team later described the scene they encountered there as “insane,  unbelievable.” Girls of all ages told them they had been made to have sex with strangers for money, that the son-in-law of the director had molested them, that they had been stripped naked, and beaten on their vaginas. Others said that staff had tied them up and suspended them from ceiling fans as punishment. “They made us do such disgusting things,” one said. “I felt so dirty that even the water I drank afterwards tasted like it had been contaminated.”
"As recent research has shown, it is not just within institutions that Indian children suffer from sexual abuse. A 2007 Indian government-sponsored survey, based on interviews with 12,500 children in 13  different states, reported serious and widespread sexual abuse, thereby putting the government on notice about the gravity of the problem. Smaller surveys conducted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have also painted a disturbing picture. Children are sexually abused by relatives at home, by people in their neighborhoods, at school, and in residential facilities for orphans and other at-risk children. Most such cases are not reported. Many are mistreated a second time by a criminal justice system that often does not want to hear or believe their accounts, or take serious action against perpetrators."
And it goes on and on.

The mere ability to vote and elect leaders does not earn the "democracy" label when women and children are sexually abused on the scale that occurs in India.








Suspect police policy

It took the Portland Police about one hour and 35 minutes to rescue a woman hiding in the basement avoiding her potential killer. It was abundantly clear (at least from the Police release) that the woman was hiding in fear from her potential killer.

The police could hear from outside of the house a man threatening to kill the hiding woman. He was in the basement too searching for her. The police were told about possibility that the man had guns. That turned out to be false, but one doesn't need a gun to kill.

There was only the hiding woman and the man searching for and threatening to kill her in the house. 
It was only through the wits of the victim that she was able to hide from her attacker. But she had to wait one hour and 35 minutes to be rescued.

Now I realize that policy might call for the special SERT Team to be activated because of their training and expertise, but this seems to have been a situation where immediate action was called for even before the SERT Team could arrive. It was exigent circumstances.

And even after they arrived, they waited for what must have seemed as an eternity for the hiding woman to act. Arguably she is alive and not harmed because of her own wits - not police action.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A downside to social media

Kids are three clicks away from adult content on YouTube, study says.

Politicizing PPS students for and by teachers?

Portland Public Schools students kick off campaign against state standardized tests.

Portland Police Bureau leadership - unprofessional

Nobody is going to come off well in the leadership debacle in the Portland Police Bureau.  The mayor, who at the moment is the bureau head, says that the chief has his full confidence. That is rubbish. Past police chiefs have lost their post for far less reasons. And it should not go without notice that this is the leadership ranks - not rank and file - that is under scrutiny.

The recent texting scandal has opened a window on the dysfunction in the command ranks. Lack of discipline, absence of respect, and boot camp mentality is just the start of the list of what is wrong in the command structure.

In this recent case we seem to have a discontented female police lieutenant, Galvan, that has failed to gain the respect of others in the command ranks.  Assuming her original complaints about Capt. Kruger were valid, there appears to be no internal structure for resolving those complaints. And, yet to be possibly disclosed, it may be that her complaints had been determined to be unfounded.

But one has to wonder why she was assigned to work under the supervision of Capt. Kruger when she had played a role in an internal investigation that lead to Capt. Kruger's discipline. What kind of management decision places these two obvious adversaries in that relationship. It would not have been any better if it had been she supervising Capt. Kruger. It is a personnel decision highly suspect.

The hiring of Kuykendall was suspect from the gitgo - nepotism. The police chief restructure the position of Director of Services such that it became a civilian position apparently so that he could hire his close friend Kuykendall.  Other than his close friendship with the police chief - Kuykendall appears well qualified for the job that appears to be pure administrative. But that action of nepotism by the chief undermined his authority and standing among his peers and police personnel down through the rank and file.

But one cannot discount that relationship between the chief and Kuykendall in the lieutenant's decision to voice her complaints to Kuykendall.  It is not unreasonable to suspect that she expected her discontent might be passed onto the chief by his close friend Kuykendall. And the characterized close relationship relationship between Kuykendall and Galvan is suspect, although the media seems loath to follow that line of inquiry.

Kuykendall demonstrated a lack of professionalism by inserting himself into bureau personnel problems. It appears that he was no where in any chain of command that might have otherwise caused him to be involved.  He continued to show that lack of professionalism by discussing with and offering support for Galvan's personnel problem that might become subject to an internal affairs investigation over which he has oversight responsibility.

Kuykendall, as a seasoned attorney, ought to have known better than to defame the character of Capt. Kruger. It is seen from the disclosed messages between Kuykendall and Galvan that he felt not only free to do so, but also that he somehow thought it was humorous.

It is unprofessional too, if true, that Galvan's supervisor, after a transfer from Capt. Kruger, foreclosed any opportunity for objective view of her performance or redress of her criticisms. And the apparent harassment,  although maybe not substantial, may have created a hostile work environment.

However, a "hostile work environment" must be evaluated in context. A police department is not anything like a typical civilian workplace. The police provide a para military service to the community ensuring public safety. Their is a military like command discipline that doesn't exists or is needed in a civilian environment. E.g., orders are expected be carried out without discussion irrespective of one's personal or professional concerns. It is too a culture demanding a certain comradery that isn't found in the civilian workplace.

With that in mind, this police chief has not reaped any accolades for his performance in office. Arguably he became Mayor Adams' poodle permitting the mayor to redefine the role of the police department resulting in a passive police force. Mayor Adams politicized the police force bowing to the demands of community malcontents.

While the police force must have civilian oversight, that oversight must not interfere with the structure and operation of a professional police force. Mayor Hales is fortunate that this early in his term as mayor to have  the opportunity to seek and hire a professional from the outside to be the police chief.  This he must do.


Resources: