Via the New York Times:
A relentless political survivor who fought through years of corruption allegations to briefly hold one of the most powerful political positions in New York State, Mr. Espada joins a long list of state lawmakers, including others from his own hard-luck district, convicted of corruption-related charges in recent years. He and his son are accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars from Soundview to support their lavish lifestyle.Witness after witness testified about purchases large and small that Mr. Espada made with money from the nonprofit that was supposed to be used for the health needs of one of the poorest parts of the city. Instead, $100,000 in lobster, sushi and other meals was charged to a corporate credit card. Soundview money also went to private family parties, school tuition and luxury car payments.
As is typical of the Democrat party, Espada himself started playing the victim card, instead of taking responsibility for his actions. The Times continues (emphasis mine)…
A self-styled man of the people, Mr. Espada, who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx, relied on the same defense in his trial that he so often turned to during his three decades in public life — maintaining that the allegations against him were the work of political enemies.
Toward the end of the trial, in an indication that he was preparing to argue the same thing about his anticipated conviction, he stopped paying attention to proceedings, instead paging through a book that argues that black people cannot find justice in the American legal system.
Espada may not have felt he could find justice, but the poor families who needed his network’s healthcare services have finally found it.
The police force in Troy, New York, has introduced a new initiative aimed at reducing thefts from parked cars – permitting officers to enter your vehicle in the event it is unlocked, and locking the doors for you.
Via the Troy Record:
With a recent spike in thefts from parked cars, the Troy Police Department is looking to roll out some preventive measures it thinks will not only reduce the amount of thefts but also make some residents more aware of what they’re leaving in their cars.
In this effort, if a police officer does notice a valuable item laying out in plain view in a parked car, the officer will then check its plate numbers, and if the address comes back locally, the officer will go to the registered owner’s place of residence and leave a blue card in the entrance way of the building. If the car does not belong to a local address, the officer will then leave the card on its windshield.
If a car is found to be unlocked, according to Police Chief John Tedesco, the officer will lock the vehicle.
Tedesco said the plan was developed over the last several months and has been approved by Mayor Lou Rosamilia.
No word on whether the officers will fill up your gas tank if your fuel level becomes too low, reducing the number of disabled vehicles on city streets, or if they will actually drive people around town in an effort to reduce car accidents as well.
Honestly, we were disappointed that a police officer didn’t personally type up this blog post in an effort to reduce carpal tunnel.
There is a basic comparison here that should immediately identify this action as flat-wrong. Would any police force in America ever, ever, allow their officers to enter a home if the doors were unlocked, so they could lock them in an effort to deter theft? A vehicle is private property, and quite frankly people have a right to defend and protect it – even from the well-intentioned police force.
There are clearly defined problems with this new initiative other than common sense, however:
- It allows a police officer into your vehicle and creates a slippery slope on what he/she can look around for. For that matter, what exactly can be defined as valuable? Does every car with a GPS on the dashboard now contain a ‘valuable’ item, opening it up for police scrutiny? A custom car stereo?
- It essentially puts a sign on one’s vehicle that says “Hey, there are valuable items in here.” So if a would-be criminal wasn’t thinking about taking any action, he/she will certainly be tempted now that they know the vehicle has an iPod inside.
- If something has already been stolen from the vehicle by the time an officer arrives, or if it is stolen after the officer places a blue card on the windshield, you’ve just provided the criminal with reasonable doubt if he/she is charged. At that point, you have two people who may have been in the car against the owner’s wishes – the thief, and the officer – creating a problem in investigating who may have committed the crime. The criminal may now claim that perhaps it was the officer who stole the item, and it causes a headache for the officer who may have to prove he didn’t touch anything.
What, exactly, are they trying to accomplish? Do they think that theives won’t just find something else to steal instead? If cars are locked and they don’t want to risk breaking a window, will they try door knobs instead? Won’t that be riskier for the public? What will they do then – start a door knob checking program?
She adds, “…the ‘unintended consequences’ can be problematic.”
Normally here, we are of the belief that if you’re not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about. But the police initiative in Troy is foolish, and quite possibly illegal itself.
In an e-mail conversation with a friend who specializes in Criminal Law, the issue of whether or not this policy is legal was addressed. He broke it down into two parts, one explaining why looking into a vehicle in a public space is justified, and another explaining that once the door is opened the action constitutes an illegal search under the 4th Amendment.
The issue is two-fold. Observing items within plain sight albeit within the vehicle is legitimate only if the cop has the right to be in the place from which he observes. This is why the underlying reason for a traffic stop is so important. In the situation you pose, the cop has the right to be in a public place – a parking lot – and observe the contents of a stationary vehicle.Opening the door, however, changes everything. Opening the door begins a “search” under the 4th Amendment. The cop cannot do that. The inside of a vehicle is personal space the same as if it were your home. The rules are a bit different, but the bottom line is the same – with no evidence of a crime and no owner permission, a vehicle can only be searched with a Warrant.
|Those damn Tea Partiers stole my … wait, what?|
Last week we reported on a pastor who had his $2,400 laptop stolen by the very Occupiers who he had provided shelter. Seems the pastor still hasn’t learned his lesson – that he is clearly part of the 1%.
Via the New York Post:
There’s no longer room at the inn at a Manhattan church that’s sheltering Occupy Wall Streeters after a holy vessel disappeared from the altar last week.
… Rev. Brashear walked into the church for a morning service to find the 18-inch-diameter bronze basin and lid missing from the baptismal font’s 800-pound base. Holy water — straight from the River Jordan — had been poured from the missing basin insert into the base’s bowl.
He told the occupiers that even when the 100-year-old Upper West Side church extended help to addicts during the 1980s drug scourge, no visitors touched its $12,500 sacramental instrument.
The pastor at the church, the Rev. Bob Brashear, still doesn’t get it. He rightly called out the jackals, but dressed it in OWS lingo. “It was like pissing on the 99 percent.” The Post called it a “fire and brimstone message” from Brashear.
Here is my message to Brashear: You should be preaching to the 100 percent.
That would be the percentage that still believes vandalism, theft, and urination are still unacceptable forms of protest. Normal people in other words.
Why did I bring urination into the mix? Ruberry reports on another incident at a separate church:
Down in Brooklyn, the Post is also ecumenically reporting that a rabbi has washed his hands of the Occupy movement after he learned that an OWS protester urinated inside a Brooklyn Presbyterian church. “The Park Slope church housing occupiers was desecrated when an occupier peed inside the building and the pee came into contact with a cross,” the rabbi bemoaned in a letter.
But hey, they’re just like the Tea Party…
Image: New York Post
Wealth redistribution at it’s finest. Forgive me father, for you are the 1%…
Via the Associated Press:
It was only a few nights after the Occupy protesters began sleeping in his church sanctuary when Pastor Bob Brashear realized that his laptop was missing.
The refugees from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park had found their way to his cavernous Presbyterian church on a cold winter evening, hoping to stay for a few nights, maybe longer. It was the latest stopover for the nomadic group, which has been living in a rotating series of churches since Mayor Michael Bloomberg shut down their camp in November.
“There was a sense of shock and sadness that it had happened,” said Brashear…
This is what the Occupy encampment has become: A band of homeless protesters with no place to go. Amid accusations of drug use and sporadic theft, they’ve been sleeping on church pews for weeks, consuming at least $20,000 of the funds that Occupy Wall Street still has in its coffers. Their existence is being hotly debated at Occupy meetings: Are these people truly “Occupiers” who deserve free food and a roof over their heads?
I’m assuming the last half of that question was rhetorical.