Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Last Call For Fixing Ferguson

The Justice Department report on Ferguson, Missouri cited not only serious problems with the police, but massive issues with municipal courts using warrants and fines as the city's main source of revenue, preying on the town's black population for money.

This week, the process of repairing that breach of public trust began.

A new municipal judge in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday ordered sweeping changes to court practices in response to a scathing Justice Department report following the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown a year ago. 
Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin, appointed in June, ordered that all arrest warrants issued in the city before Dec. 31, 2014 be withdrawn. 
Defendants will receive new court dates along with options for disposing of their cases, such as payment plans or community service. Fines may be commuted for indigent people. 
The changes come five months after the U.S. Department of Justice strongly criticized city leaders in its report, saying the police force and court worked together to exploit people in order to raise revenue. 
The Justice Department specifically said Ferguson's municipal court practices caused significant harm to many people with cases pending as minor municipal code violations turned into multiple arrests, jail time, and payments that exceeded the cost of the original ticket many times over
McCullin, who is black, ordered instead that if an arrest warrant is issued for a minor traffic violation, the defendant will not be incarcerated, but will be released on their own recognizance and given another court date, the city said. 
"These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the Court... and giving many residents a fresh start," said McCullin in a statement.

He added that many people who have had drivers licenses suspended will be able to obtain them and start driving again. In the past, the city's director of revenue would suspend a defendant's driver's license solely for failing to appear in court or failing to pay a fine.

Things still have a long way to go in Ferguson and St. Louis County.  Decades of institutionalized racism in the police and municipal court systems have ravaged the place, but at least things are beginning to change for the better.

There's some small measure of hope, at least.

Getting Trumped By The States

What does it say about the utter chaos a political party is in when state party machines are actively conspiring to keep the party's national front-runner off the primary ballot?

Amid mounting concerns about Donald Trump’s candidacy from the GOP establishment, Republican leaders in at least two states have found a way to make life a lot harder for him. 
The Virginia and North Carolina parties are in discussions about implementing a new requirement for candidates to qualify for their primary ballots: that they pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee — and not run as a third-party candidate — in the general election. 
The procedural moves are clearly aimed at Trump, who pointedly refused to rule out a third-party run during the first GOP debate. 
They come amid Republican fears that the real estate mogul is gaining strength in the primary contest, and that his jeremiads against undocumented immigrants will alienate Hispanic voters. Despite coming under a hail of criticism in recent weeks, Trump has held steady atop state and national polls. 
John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said the proposal was among many that the organization was considering as it sketches out its ballot access requirements for the 2016 GOP primary. The ultimate decision, he said, would be made by the 84 members who make up the state party’s central committee, which is slated to meet on Sept. 19. The requirements must be submitted to the Republican National Committee by Oct. 1. 
If implemented, Whitbeck said, the provision would be similar to ones the party adopted for statewide races held in 2013 and 2014.

In other words, if Trump has any plans whatsoever to run as the ultimate GOP version of Ralph Nader and hand a massive win to the Democrats, he won't even get on the ballot in two key states.

Republicans at the national level are 100% terrified of Trump.  They know he'd lose in a landslide, but if they get rid of him this early, he'll just run as a third-party candidate and sink the party next November anyway. And worst of all, the Trump GOP faithful are going to do everything they can to bring his awful racism to the November 2016 ballot.

“Nothing disqualifies Trump.” 
That was the takeaway of Frank Luntz, the public opinion guru, after leading a focus group Monday night of supporters of Donald Trump’s Republican presidential campaign.
For two and a half hours, Luntz quizzed a group of current and past ardent Trump fans about their views on the businessman. He discussed the candidate’s past liberal stances and played past video of Trump saying provocative things about women. Yet when the focus group was over, not a single person who was planning to vote for him said they had changed their mind
“This is absolutely for real,” Luntz said of the intense and loyal support for Trump. “And he is not going away. And he is as strong as every survey shows. All those people who think he’s going to implode have not sat and talked to these voters the way that they should have.”

The focus group was made up of 29 people, six of whom said they no longer support Trump but did in the past. Asked to describe Trump in one word or phrase, the answers varied: “businessman,” “brave,” “successful,” “results,” “decisive,” “leader,” “guts,” “charismatic,” “bombastic,” “not a politician,” “not P.C.,” “true American,” “brash,” “decisive,” “kick ass and take names.” 
When he talks, deep down somewhere, you’re going, ‘crap, somebody is thinking the same way I am,’” said one man.

It's nothing short of panic mode and we get to watch the long, slow train wreck for months.

Damned if you do, as they say.  Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of complete assholes, too.

Just Another Cop Killer

In Louisiana, a man shot and taunted a State Trooper at a traffic stop.  The officer later died.  It's a horrible story.

A Louisiana state trooper died Monday after authorities say he was shot in the head and then taunted when he stopped to provide aid to a man whose truck was stuck in a ditch. 
Col. Mike Edmonson, head of the State Police, said Kevin Daigle shot Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, then said, "You're lucky, you are going to die soon." 
Edmonson said Vincent, 43, drove up on Kevin Daigle near Bell City on Sunday afternoon and then determined that his pickup's plates matched the description of a previously reported "reckless vehicle." Edmonson said a recording from Vincent's cruiser shows Vincent was conversing with Daigle when he opened his door, pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and shot Vincent in the head. 
"I am very saddened to report that Senior Trooper Steven Vincent has passed away this morning from the gunshot wounds he suffered yesterday in conjunction with a traffic investigation," Edmonton said Monday. "As an organization, we are heartbroken over this senseless and tragic death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his surviving wife Katherine and his son Ethan as well as his entire extended family." 
Daigle, whose criminal history includes "numerous DWIs," will be charged with first degree murder of a police officer and aggravated battery, Edmonson said at a news conference. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

What made this evil fiend Kevin Daigle kill the brave Steven Vincent?  Was it the music he listened to?  Did his style of dress possibly indicate a gang affiliation?  Was he perpetuating criminal behavior because the culture he belonged to expected it of him?  He was a known criminal and obviously dangerous, and killing a cop surely meant he deserved what happened next, he was nothing more than a common thug who was put down like the animal he...

Kevin Daigle (Photo: Erik Stratton, AP)


White guy.  Brought in alive.

Well, we shouldn't ask too many questions then.

Yes, a police officer is dead, killed in the line of duty, and that's a horrific tragedy.  But Kevin Daigle will face a court of law for his crime, unlike so many who are executed without due process.


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