March 18, 2014

Charles Oliver: Teachers suffer brain freeze, not frostbite

Charles Oliver

— • Kayona Hagen-Tietz suffered frostbite after being forced to stand outside in a wet bathing suit in minus-5 degree weather during a school fire drill in St. Paul, Minn. Kayona was swimming as part of a health class when the fire drill went off. She was rushed out by a teacher and could not get to her locker and get her clothes. Other students, seeing her condition, huddled around her. And one teacher offered her a jacket. But teachers refused to let her get into a car to stay warm because that violated school policy. After 10 minutes, a teacher finally got permission to ignore the policy and put her in a car, but by then she had frostbite on her feet.

• For years, Debbie Nall has opened her home to those in need, from domestic violence victims to the homeless to military families who need a place to stay while relocating. But officials in Lawrence, Kan., are threatening her with big fines if she continues to help people out. They say she’s violating a city ordinance that bars residents in neighborhoods zoned single-family from having more than three unrelated guests in their home during any 90-day period.

• French tattoo artists are protesting a proposed law that would bar them from using most colors of ink. Under the proposed law, tattoo artists could only use black, gray and some shades of blue and green.

• The Charlotte Observer reports that during one four-hour work day recently the Mecklenburg County grand jury heard 276 cases and handed down 276 indictments. “That means the 18 jurors heard evidence, asked questions, weighed whether the charges merit a trial, then voted on the indictments — all at the average rate of one case every 52 seconds,” the paper reports. That has some asking whether the grand jury is really taking the time to do its job properly.

• Ashley Brandt says she thought her flight home from a Grand Canyon vacation would be routine. But as she prepared to board her flight home in Phoenix, a Transportation Security Administration agent asked her if she had a passport. For a domestic flight? It seems the agent didn’t think he could accept a District of Columbia driver’s license for ID because D.C. isn’t a state. After consulting with a supervisor, the agent decided she could use her driver’s license to board the plane.

• California state Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, was convicted of eight felony counts of voter fraud in January and faces up to eight years in prison. But his fellow Democrats aren’t willing to punish him just yet. They blocked a move to expel him from the Senate. Democrats say that Wright could have his conviction overturned on appeal, and in any event he is on a paid leave of absence from the Senate, so expelling him wouldn’t make much of a difference in what happens in the Legislature.

• A federal jury has awarded Noel J. Guzman $2.4 million after finding he was beaten and illegally arrested by New York City police. Guzman had just left a club when some of his friends got into an altercation with another group and a fight broke out. Guzman was not involved but cops responding to the fight threw him to the ground and stomped and kicked him.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.