May 15, 2013

Charles Oliver: Lock picking for dummies?

Charles Oliver

— • Burglaries rose 40 percent last year in Oakland, Calif. Maybe that’s why some residents were upset to find that Mayor Jean Quan had highlighted an upcoming lock picking class in one of the newsletters she sends out to residents.

• The Oregon Education Association has asked state lawmakers to remove a requirement that any measure that would increase property taxes be marked on envelopes containing election ballots. Union officials say it’s unfair to single out property taxes and, in any event, if voters read the ballots they’ll know when they are voting on a tax increase. Critics say union officials just want to make it easier to increase taxes.

• Earlier this year, computer programmer Aaron Swartz committed suicide. Swartz was facing federal charges for illegally downloading articles from academic journals. He faced 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Now, a federal judge has barred his family from releasing court documents in the case. Judge Nathaniel Gorton has ruled that release of the documents could endanger officials at MIT if people learn about the role they played in Swartz’s prosecution.

• Homestead, Penn., police officer Ronald DePellegrin admits that he allowed an alleged prostitute to perform oral sex on him before arresting her. The woman’s attorney calls DePellegrin’s actions unacceptable. But the local district attorney says the officer did nothing that would keep the case from moving forward.

• Meanwhile, Lake County, Ill., sheriff’s deputy Eric Francke has been charged with obstruction of justice and solicitation of a sex act after he allegedly solicited a prostitute. Maybe he should have just said he was doing an undercover prostitution sting.

• And in a change of pace, Baltimore police officer Lamin Mawnneh has been charged with  human trafficking and prostitution after he was caught allegedly pimping his wife out. An undercover officer allegedly answered an online ad placed by the couple, and met them at a motel where the wife said she would have sex with him for $100. No word on whether that officer actually had sex with her before arresting them.

• In Missouri, John Moretina has pleaded guilty to voter fraud in federal court. Moretina gave a false home address in order to vote in a 2010 primary in the Kansas City area. His nephew, John Joseph Rizzo, won the Democratic nomination for a state House of Representatives seat by a single vote in that primary. Rizzo went on to win the general election. He faced no opposition in either the primary or the general election in 2012.

• Aaron Gilmore, a member of the New Zealand Parliament, has resigned after allegedly calling a waiter a name we can’t print in a family newspaper. Gilmore was having dinner at a South Island restaurant when his waiter told him he’d had enough to drink. Gilmore said “Don’t you know who I am?” and began to berate the man. He denies calling the waiter the offensive name, but admits being drunk and abusive. At first Gilmore refused to resign, but after party leaders made it clear they not longer supported him, he stepped down.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.