Law, politics, pop culture, sports, and a touch of Oregon.
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I'm sure that trial judges hate being second-guessed about their bail decisions, and with good reason. We can't realistically expect that judges will be 100% accurate in their assessments of whether particular defendants released on bail won't attempt to flee.
Still, I'm going to go out on a limb here (okay, not far at all) and suggest that the judge in the Logan Storm case really blew it. After being convicted of possession of child pornography, Storm was released on bail pending sentencing, but subject to electronic monitoring. Which he discarded today.
Now, imagine that you are the judge, trying to decide whether to grant bail to Storm. He's already been convicted, so the strongest argument one could otherwise make -- that an innocent person would be deprived of his liberty -- doesn't apply. True, he has the right to appeal so he might get that conviction overturned, but at this point, his legal status has changed from "innocent" to "guilty."
Given the typical two to three month period between conviction and sentencing, it's possible for minor crimes that one might receive a term of incarceration that would be shorter than what one would serve waiting to be sentenced. That might be an appropriate situation for bail, since credit for time served wouldn't exactly compensate for the extra amount of time one would spend in jail. With the likely sentencing range for child pornography, though, that seems not to be applicable here either.
But . . . here's the kicker: Storm previously fled the country:
In the days after the seizure of his computer and before he faced any charges in the case, he left the country, flying to London and eventually traveling to Ireland, France and Amsterdam, government filings state.
Now, his defense lawyers talked him into coming back, and hopefully they'll be able to talk him into turning himself in (again). But it's hard to see why a judge would release him on bail after conviction, knowing that he was skittish enough to flee before when there was just an investigation and not even any charges. Now that he's facing fairly certain prison time, it seems reasonable to conclude that he's an even greater flight risk than before.
I've got a new post up on the Huffington Post about the Parrish Bennette Jr. case here in Portland, and specifically, about how the defense lawyers kept the location of the victim's body secret for four months while representing their client.
It's been about two years of forced composting of food scraps and yard waste for me. My colleague and blogger Jack Bogdanski has repeatedly complained about the secondary effects of the program -- smelliness, pest attraction, etc. -- and eventually he gave up and paid for the bigger garbage rollcart.
I haven't been as bothered by the composting, but I did notice that the bottom of my green compost rollcart was looking like some kind of precursor to biological warfare. I probably should have cleaned it out, but frankly, I was afraid to.
Imagine my surprise and happiness today when, while wheeling the empty rollcarts back to their usual place in our side shed, I discovered that we had a brand new, clean green rollcart! Woo hoo!
This list ranks the states from best-run to worst-run. Not surprisingly, California is dead last. I fretted that Oregon would be down there as well, but somehow, we rank as the 17th best-run state:
In 2011, the manufacturing sector accounted for 28.8% of Oregon’s economic output, more than in any other state. The sector is dominated by computer and electronic parts manufacturing, which provided nearly $40 billion in output to the state in 2010. Outside manufacturing, the state’s economy faced several significant challenges last year, despite having one of the highest GDP growth rates in the country in 2011, at 4.7%, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 9.5%, while 17.5% of the population lived in poverty, worse than the respective national rates of 8.9% and 15.9%. However, the state managed its finances well during the recession: 87% of its pension liabilities were funded in fiscal 2010, one of the highest percentages in the nation.
I'm not sure about the accuracy of this summation, though; given the vast problems that PERS faces, it's hard to know what to make of the claim that 87% of pension liabilities were funded. I don't miss the Iowa winters, but that state was ranked #5. Farm land can't be outsourced, so I suppose Iowa is relatively recession-proof. (Hey, maybe we should stop the farm subsidies!)
Tonight's episode of NBC's "Grimm" relied heavily on an impending execution for narrative drama . . . . Of course, the show makes a big deal about its Portland setting (much appreciated!), with shout-outs to local institutions like Voodoo Donuts and the like. So whereas I wouldn't ordinarily nitpick too much about the finer legalities (okay, maybe I would), this is an instance where reality and fiction clash too much to ignore.
Specifically: (1) Governor Kitzhaber has issued a moratorium on all executions during his term in office, which lasts for two more years, so in fact, there would be no execution at all; and (2) the only two people on Oregon's death row to be executed since 1976 were "volunteers" -- meaning they waived their appeals.
I guess it's possible that the show takes place in the near future . . . .
In addition to the Presidential, congressional, state legislative, and mayoral races, my ballot this year included a bunch of voter-sponsored initiative measures. One of the more interesting ones is Measure 80, which would decriminalize marijuana under state law.
To start with, I'm quite sympathetic to the idea of decriminalization of drugs. I would go farther than marijuana and would be open to decriminalizing pretty much everything, although for the protection of society, if not just children, I'd put some limits on how and where you can buy and use the really dangerous stuff.
But that's neither here nor there. Measure 80 speaks only to pot, and it's certainly a plausible position to say that we should start with decriminalizing pot, see how that goes, and then consider harder drugs.
- It has an annoying preamble that comes close to "finding" that pot is the greatest thing since sliced bread, although much of this comes from obscuring the difference between hemp and pot ("Yields several times more fiber, for paper and textiles, than any other plant"; "Yields cloth and paper of superior strength and durability without the application of pesticides during cultivation and without producing cancer-causing pollutants during processing"; etc.). Maybe these are true facts, but I'd rather not be enshrining them into the books with my vote.
- It creates a commissi0n to regulate the pot trade, which is probably necessary, but limits the election/selection of those commissioners to pot growers and processors, with the exception of two (out of seven total) to be appointed by the Governor. Can you say "agency capture"?
- It requires the state Attorney General's office to defend Oregonians prosecuted for drug crimes -- which apparently means those in federal court(!). This is a wholly absurd proposal, as it vastly overburdens the AG's office, not to mention, creates the possibility of severe legal conflicts-of-interest. What if a person who must be defended in federal court by the state AG also commits non-drug related offenses?
Overreaching. I would have voted for a more, um, measured approach to decriminalize. Measure 80 asks for the moon, so I voted against it.
Check out this election spam I got in the mail today, in support of the $35/person art tax that the city is proposing:
Wait, art teachers would make a bunch of kids disappear? Is that a reason to be voting FOR this proposal???
(Of course, note how racially diverse PPS kids seem to be! Out of ten kids, only two appear to be white. One wonders where in Portland you could come even close to such a distribution of students, given the city's demographics: 76% white, 9% Latino (of any race), 7% Asian-American, 6% African-American, and 10% mixed or other race. I get that it's important to show that PPS values diversity, but when it's this unrealistic it just comes across as heavy-handed. Much like this art tax itself.)
The rest of Portland has been introduced to what we've had for over a year now, which is the compost/trash program. (We were in the group of households that were the pilot test group.) We used to get our yard waste picked up every other week, and our trash and recycling picked up every week. The change was that we could now compost food scraps in our yard waste bin, which would be picked up every week, and the trash would be picked up every other week.
It's not exactly an even trade, since we don't generate that much food waste; if our yard waste/compost bin fills up, it's because of grass clippings from mowing the lawn. But it hasn't been terribly onerous for us either.
I can't imagine that our soon-to-be (thank goodness) ex-Mayor and city councilmembers approved of something like this back in the Bush Administration, when it was called Operation TIPS. Of course, the difference was that TIPS was about reporting suspected terrorism, rather than misplaced poopy diapers. If you're going to be encouraging people to rat out their neighborhoods, shouldn't it be for something serious?
Today was the Uberthons' Run for Kyron race. For those not in the Portland area, Kyron Hormanis a little boy who disappeared 2 years ago on a school day, when he was 7 years old. It's a story that's been in the local news quite a bit, with a resurgence yesterday after Kyron's birth mom sued his stepmom based on allegations that the stepmom is responsible for his disappearance.
Race time was 8 am for the 10K and 8:10 for the 5K. I had gone to bed early last night (well, early for me -- 11:30 pm or so) and got up today at 7 am. Breakfast was cherry yogurt, and then I headed out to Cook Park in Tigard.
There was a good sized crowd present: race volunteers, Kyron-cause volunteers, Kyron's dad Kaine Horman, a 3-person musical band, and even a news crew from KATU (the local ABC affiliate). I picked up my racing bib and then did a short interview about Uberthons and racing with my friend Eileen, who's a consultant with them.
It's a familiar race course; I ran it back in late April, and an earlier variation of it in March and last November:
Knowing that I've run positive splits (not a good thing) the past few races, I had in mind that I wanted to go out slower at first and then speed up. I even positioned myself near the front of the 5K group. Yes, it's chip-timed, but I don't like having to keep huffing "pardon me, excuse me, pardon me" as I pass people.
The first mile felt okay, and I thought I was going slower, but I hit the first mile marker in 6:37. Definitely not slower! Predictably, it took its toll on me. Since my goal was to go under 22 minutes, I figured I could let up a bit and try to speed up for the last mile. Mile 2 was kind of miserable. Even slowing down, I felt that kind of running-discomfort -- not injury-pain -- and this segment had a short but steep uprise.
Finally, I hit the mile 3 marker. Mile 2 had taken 7:20. I was still on pace to ge tunder 22 minutes at least, but I didn't feel recovered at all. Mile 3 ended up being slightly slower, 7:27, but I had enough saved up that I was able to race the last 0.11 miles.
According to my watch, my time was 21:59. According to the initial race results, it was 8 hours, 32 minutes(!). Ha ha, chip glitch of some sort obviously. It was later corrected manually to 22:09, which is quite a big difference from my watch.
Anyway, I finished 4th overall out of 75, and 1st in my age group.