October 16, 2013

Charles Oliver: School officials toss penalty flag on Confederate covering

Charles Oliver

— • Tahoma High School, in Maple Valley, Wash., suspended two teens, who weren’t named by media, for wearing Confederate flags to school. The two wore the flags after another student was allowed to wear a gay pride flag to school for two weeks. School officials have refused to explain why wearing one flag is a violation of the school dress code and wearing the other isn’t.

• In Iowa, Judge James Richardson barred a reporter from the Daily Times Herald from taking notes during a vehicular homicide trial. Richardson said jurors could be influenced if they see the reporter taking notes and think that if he is writing something down, it must be important.

• A Davidson County, Tenn., grand jury has indicted former Nashville police officer Gerald McShepard for official misconduct for allegedly using his resources as a cop to try to get his ex-girlfriend fired from her job. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says McShepard sent an anonymous letter to the woman’s employer saying she was involved in prostitution and pornography.

• A Justice Department report found that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost 420 million cigarettes between 2006 and 2011 during investigations of illegal sales. The report also found that the agency allowed informants to keep millions of dollars generated by illegal sales of cigarettes during these investigations.

• Rose Bogaert and her husband ran a metal straightening business in Detroit for 28 years, but fed up with high taxes and soaring crime, they moved their company to Dearborn Heights 15 years ago. But Detroit keeps sending them property tax bills for property in the city they no longer own. A local publication tried calling the number on the latest bill they received, from the city finance department, but found that no one ever answered the phone. They then called the city finance director, only to get a message that her voice mailbox was full.

• Miami, Fla., police officer Malinsky Bazile has been found guilty in federal court of using police databases to commit identity theft. Bazile stole the identities of 1,000 people and used them to collect fraudulent income tax refunds.

• Also in Florida, Anne Packham, one of the federally funded health care navigators who are supposed to help people sign up for health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, has admitted she gave some wrong information to local media and the public. Packham had told an Orlando TV station that people who wanted to buy health insurance on the exchange would need to provide their credit scores. When confronted with her error, Packham would not explain how she made the mistake.

• The London Fire Brigade is asking the public not to call 999, England’s equivalent to 911, unless they have an emergency. Officials say that some of the non-emergency calls they have received are a man asking them to get his son’s shoe off the roof of their house, a woman who accidentally threw her dentures at a pair of dogs while trying to break up their fighting, a woman who spotted a fox in her garden, and an au pair who couldn’t close a window and didn’t want to disturb the family she worked for.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.