December 25, 2013

Charles Oliver: It couldn't happen here?

— Some parents of students at New York’s RJO Intermediate School were upset with a recent performance by the school’s fifth-grade choir. Specifically, they didn’t like the choir director’s decision to rewrite the lyrics to “Silent Night” to remove all references to a deity, including mentions of a holy infant Christ the Savior, Jesus and Lord. They say the choir either should have sung the song as written or omitted it entirely.

Finland’s highest court has ruled that police didn’t break the law when they added a website criticizing government censorship to a list of sites ISPs must block. The website has criticized the government’s efforts to block child porn, saying that not all of the sites it blocks contain child porn, that the process used to determine whether to block sites is secret and not open to public review, and that the government will not even release a list of sites it has blocked.

Former Cook County, Ill., sheriff’s deputy Sam Spino has been sentenced to one month in jail for stealing from tenants while evicting them. Numerous tenants filed complaints against Spino. But it took six years for the sheriff’s office to reach out to the FBI. They set in place a sting that caught Spino taking $1,100 in rolled up bills from a tenant he was sent to evict.

While many employers drug test new hires, an increasing number of Florida counties are also testing them for nicotine. Flagler County, for instance, is requiring new employees to sign an affidavit that they have not smoked in the last year and a pledge that they will not smoke in the future, as well as testing them for nicotine. Officials there and in other counties say they hope to cut their health insurance costs.

A former Hemingford, Neb., police chief has been sentenced to 20 to 24 years in prison for sexual assault of a child. He pleaded no contest to a charge of having sexual relations with a girl under 15 while on duty.

Pittsburgh, Pa., building inspectors have been ticketing people for parking in their own driveways. Many residents have been parking in their driveways for decades, but it’s technically a violation of the building code unless they have gotten a zoning variance and permit. They can be fined up to $1,000. Inspectors say they only ticket those who violate the ordinance if someone complains.

Twenty-one Transportation Security Administration agents and one employee of American Eagle have been charged with buying and selling stolen parking passes for the employee parking lot at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Twenty-four years ago, Lonny Leon Rivera, then 19, was caught having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to one count of oral copulation with a minor. Despite his legal troubles, he and the girl remained together and have long been married and he has had no further problems with the law. But he is still required by the state of California to register as a sex offender. Rivera has filed a motion to vacate the order placing him on the sex offender list.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.