Opinion

August 6, 2009

Charles Oliver: It couldn't happen here?

Two DeKalb County police officers have been suspended for allegedly using department computers to run a background check on President Barack Obama. The U.S. Secret Service quickly noticed that someone was using the criminal database to look for information on the president and alerted the department.

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Boston police officer Justin Barrett was outraged by all the attention that the arrest of Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates got. So he fired off a letter to the Boston Globe and copied it to a bunch of his buddies in the Massachusetts National Guard. Barrett said that Gates “is a suspect and will always be a suspect.” He further added that suspects have no rights. He also said that if Gates had “verbally assaulted” him “like a banana-eating jungle monkey” he would have given him a face full of pepper spray. He also thought it was cute to repeatedly use the word “ax” instead of “ask” in the letter. Of course, the Globe printed the letter, and the police department and the National Guard both suspended Barrett. Barrett says he isn’t a racist. Oh, and he has sued the police department, the commissioner and the mayor for violating his civil rights by suspending him and promising to fire him.

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The Southwest Florida Water Management District has banned residents from washing their cars and limited other outdoor water use because of a drought. But a local newspaper found that if the utility really wants to reduce water use it might want to start by changing the behavior of one of its members. Board member Jennifer Closshey used more than 500,000 gallons of water last year at her home. That’s more than twice as much as the other five district board members combined. Closshey blamed a broken water main, her large yard and landscaping that she did last year for her high water use.

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