Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Government gone nuts: three head-scratchers from today's WNJ

First, what's wrong with this picture?

Top state officials begin meetings today to discuss options to buoy Delaware’s casinos in the face of growing regional competition. 
The meetings begin less than a month after lawmakers approved an $8 million casino bailout to cover higher anticipated costs to vendors who provide slot machines for Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway and Casino. 
Delaware Finance Secretary Tom Cook will chair the board. Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, also is a member. Both are members of Gov. Jack Markell’s Cabinet. 
Six state lawmakers, including Democratic House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, will serve on the committee, as well as a representative of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. The committee will meet for six months and report back to the General Assembly by January. 
Casino executives, who do not have a seat on the task force, are expected to continue lobbying state lawmakers to lower their tax rates.
Uh, gee, guys ... why shouldn't there be meetings in the board rooms of Delaware's casinos as these privately owned businesses figure out how to survive on their own?  Given the size of Delaware and the ability of other states in the region to get into the act it was never an intelligent decision to stake such a large percentage of the state budget on gambling receipts.  It had to come to an end.

If we really need a government task force on this topic, how about one on finding the revenue source to support the government during the next ten years as the casinos go slowly under (and all of them will, except Dover Downs?

And why would we put Cook and Levin, the geniuses who brought us Fisker and tens of millions in corporate welfare to multi-billion-dollar companies like Kraft or City?

Next, there's this:

Tasers “malfunctioned” Sunday night when the first shot did not hit the suspect and the second shot appeared to have no effect on a Wilmington man who later died at an area hospital following a high-speed pursuit, a preliminary police investigation indicates. 
The man was identified as Deomain Hayman, 28, of the 400 block of W. 29th St., Wilmington Police Cpl. Mark Ivey said. Results of an autopsy are pending additional testing and were not available Monday. The official cause of death will be released by the State Medical Examiner’s Office “at a later date,” Ivey said. 
The stun guns were ineffective and the department is looking into why the devices did not work properly, he said. 
“It’s premature to say the death was caused by a Taser shot,” Ivey said, referring to Hayman. “Just because a Taser was applied, doesn’t mean it caused his death.”
First, I should point out that we already know that various police departments around Delaware have problems with multiple tasings, and compliance with "best practices" when using this potentially lethal device.

We also know that the suspect in this case was morbidly obese--6 feet tall, weighing in at 383 pounds, and that there is a strong correlation between taser use and immediate cardiac issues in those prone to such.  How many?
Though no official numbers on deaths where a Taser was deployed could be found, Tuttle said there are “several a month.”
At some point it is going to become necessary for there to be civilian review boards over Delaware police departments.  The only question is how many additional victims have to die first.

Finally, today, a boo-hoo moment from our Federal Court system:
WILMINGTON — Forced budget cuts have taken a significant toll on taxpayer-financed federal public defenders, and some judges fear the U.S. court system could get mired in gridlock if Congress doesn’t act to restore money by the new spending year. 
U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Theodore McKee said it “is not hyperbole” to describe the situation as a looming constitutional crisis. 
“We are not there today, but every day we get closer to that point,” he said.
U.S. Chief District Judge for Delaware Gregory M. Sleet agreed.
“I am very concerned as to whether we are going to be able to meet our constitutional obligation in the criminal context,” said Sleet, both in terms of getting indigent defendants a speedy trial and adequate representation. 
This is the same sort of smoke and mirrors "let's see who we can hurt the most game" being played all around the government.  The budget for public defenders has to be cut, but guess which budgets have not so far suffered?
While the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Marshal Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware all have avoided furloughs this year due to one-time savings and budgetary moves, federal defenders already were facing a 5 percent reduction when the forced federal cuts imposed another 5 percent reduction in March. 
That's right:  we cut the budget and furloughed public defenders, but not the judges, the US Marshalls, or the US Attorneys.  Seems right to me.

Simple solution:  start dropping all the charges against non-violent drug offenders.  That's save some bucks, since over 2,550 people were arrested last year for non-violent possession of marijuana alone.

Give me a break here:  government in Delaware has turned inside out:  the State is bailing out privately owned casinos, the police just don't know how another taser death could have happened, and the courts are so strapped they have to send (only) the public defenders home on furlough.

Got our priorities straight, don't we?


Anonymous said...

I remember when tazers were first used by the police departments. They were supposed to be used in lieu of deadly force.

It seems now they are used for almost anything. I agree, there needs to be some better oversight.

NCSDad said...

So why DON'T we have a civilian review board with REAL power? Oh, that's right, our pols are supposed to do that, right? But they are the cheerleaders for more and more disorder from the law and order crowd.