June 12, 2013

Charles Oliver: Drug seizure funds squandered

Charles Oliver

— • Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has used thousands of dollars in drug seizure funds to throw office parties, make church donations, buy football tickets, give money to a lawyers’ group that inducted him into its hall of fame and buy display cases for shoes worn by NBA player Dwight Howard, his nephew. Howard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the spending helped fight crime and was within guidelines. The newspaper noted that even as Howard was spending that money he was warning county commissioners that he might have to lay off prosecutors if they cut his budget. The General Assembly earlier this year considered a bill that would tighten reporting requirements for drug seizure funds. Of course, it didn’t even make it to the floor of either chamber for a vote.

• The Selinsgrove, Pa., zoning board has unanimously ordered J.C. Carlson to tear down a partially built treehouse at his home. Carlson had started the treehouse as a birthday present for his daughter but was stopped by code enforcement officers. Officials say the treehouse violates local zoning laws. Why do zoning officials hate children?

• A teacher at Chase Lake Elementary School in Edmonds, Wash., asked students to bring Nerf guns for a demonstration in a math class. School officials suspended every student who took part in the experiment for violating the district’s “zero tolerance” policy on bringing weapons to school. No word on whether the teacher received any punishment.

• New York City recently began a bike sharing program. City officials left bicycles at more than 300 locations for people to borrow briefly and return. If you picked the day before the program actually began as the day when the first bike would be stolen, give yourself a hand.

• Officials with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) suspended supervisor Kevin Graney after they learned he’d been driving agency vehicles for five years with a suspended license. He reportedly had his license suspended after being caught driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle. Graney, a 20-year MBTA employee, later retired.

• Officials in Calvert County, Md., suspended a 5-year-old kindergarten student for 10 days after they caught him with an orange-tipped cap gun on a school bus. The boy’s mother, who wasn’t named by local media, said the principal told her that if the gun had had any caps in it they would have treated it as an explosive and called in the police.

• Police in Commerce, Calif., have charged mailman Daniel Villasenor with cruelty to a child and assault on a park property. Villasenor, who was on the job at the time, reportedly stopped at a local park to use the restroom. He accidentally walked into the women’s room, prompting an 11-year-old girl to laugh at him. When he left the men’s room, she was still laughing. He allegedly chased her down and began to choke her until park employees intervened.

• Former Northbrook, Ill., police officer Enrique Guzman pleaded guilty to official misconduct and was sentenced to two years probation. Guzman had been caught on video taking jewelry from a house he was sent to check on. Guzman had been suspected of several thefts and burglaries in the area.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.