As many know I am often a staunch critic of Washington’s child protective services and a system that at times has shown itself to be rife with incompetence, vindictiveness, and laziness. For the past several years hardly a six month time period elapses without news of yet another major debacle occurring that shatters the life of a child or family member and results in millions of dollars paid out by the state in damages.
But the latest spell in my view goes beyond the usual bureaucratic blundering and crosses a line into what many would consider to be corruption.
Last year Washington State government’s knee-jerk reaction to a mass shooting resulted in a legislated ban of “Bump-Fire” modifications to semi-automatic firearms. A few legislators submitted an amendment to the impending legislation allowing for a buy back program where residents of the state could receive a voucher for up to $150.00 per stock if they surrendered the stocks either directly to the State Patrol or received a receipt issued for one by a local law enforcement agency.
While some, including myself, had objections to the government’s taking of property without just compensation, which was in some fashion allayed by a price offered that was reasonable considering the market cost for such rifle stocks, the implementation of the buy-back program was not well thought out–which is usually the case with quickly crafted laws.
While some residents having these stocks might find the offer from the state attractive, I do not believe the amount offered is sufficient to offset potential risks associated with turning in these stocks and expecting payment. The buy-back program is also widely open to profiteering and manipulation.
It seems that Washington Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib is so frightened of the notion of citizens having lawfully carried concealed pistols, that he is unable to fulfill his duty as a result.
The Lieutenant Governor ducked out of the annual State of the State address given by Washington Governor Inslee because he felt vulnerable. The House Chamber has galleries open to the public and both state law and House rules allow those having concealed pistol licenses to attend the event. Despite the fact that the governor, representatives, senators, and the nine supreme court justices did not express feeling any danger, and there was no credible threats made against the lieutenant governor, he announced he would not participate unless his fears were allayed by policy change.
Since just about every area in Washington allows permitted concealed carry and open carry of firearms, save for a few narrowly defined exceptions, how is it that Lt. Governor Habib can summon the courage to leave home?
A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 27th that in addition to recognizing tribal fishing rights, pursuant to the Stevens Treaties entered in the middle 1850s between Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest and the Washington Territorial Governor, the government is mandated to protect the viability of sustainable fishing to preserve the allocation to local tribes.
In signing these treaties, the tribes relinquished “swaths of land, watersheds, and offshore waters adjacent to these areas…in what is now the State of Washington. In exchange, the Tribes were guaranteed a right to engage in off-reservation fishing.”
The panel held that in building and maintaining barrier culverts within Washington, the state violated, and continues to violate, its obligation to the Tribes under the treaties.
Ruling on statutory grounds, Skagit County, Washington Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis held that a public hospital offering maternity services to women must also offer abortion services. Referring patients to Planned Parenthood, the court ruled, violates state law regarding abortion services provided to patients. The suit was brought on behalf of a plaintiff patient by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The fundamental conflict in the case litigated was ostensibly due to the defendant hospital district’s position that while agreeing to offer such services, it experienced difficulty in complying due to lack of health professionals willing to perform abortions. State law does allow heath care professionals to decline to perform voluntary abortions for personal reasons.
For other public hospital districts, the ACLU served notice requesting similar compliance with state law.
There was an interesting case last month before the Washington Supreme Court where the court was asked to determine the admissibility of evidence obtained during the defendants’ booking process related to criminal street gang affiliation.
Defendants in the case, Ricardo Juarez Deleon, Anthony Deleon, and Octavio Robledo moved to suppress evidence gathered by the state obtained through questions relating to the alleged involvement in gang activity while in the furtherance of a crime, a sentencing enhancement and a status in of itself that can be in violation of law or subject a defendant to revocation of probation and other court imposed restrictions.
A legitimate state purpose exists in asking arrestees if they are gang-affiliated or have hostility toward other inmates for the purpose of order and the safety of staff and the inmate population. It is well known that members of rival gangs housed together lead to a probability of fighting and disruption. A question remains if an arrestee should a choice between answering that they are gang-affiliated to secure a protection through separate housing and remaining silent and face retaliation from other inmates. The petitioners argue this constitutes duress where they are unlawfully required to make incriminating statements to protect their safety.
Samuel Hoffer did not exactly get the position he was hoping for when he applied to be a Wildlife Enforcement Officer with the Muckleshoot Tribe. He is now facing charges for alleged Vehicular Homicide after a background interview was reportedly highlighted by his admission to a deadly drunk driving incident occurring in 2012.
This is the latest in a series of articles, HERE, and HERE, where applicants make career and freedom limiting moves by applying for law enforcement jobs and are subsequently jailed for providing incriminating evidence.
In April 2013 our host published an article featuring Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson had sued Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts after she had refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.
Washington’s consumer protection act bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation AG Ferguson sought a $2000 penalty for each violation and to end the business’ allegedly discriminatory practices. The case garnered considerable attention in both the state and nationally in which the religious rights of business owners do not necessarily comport in some cases with antidiscrimination statutes which require equal services be provided for all customers.
Law Enforcement Officers in Coulee Dam, Washington arrested thirty-seven year old Assistant-Principal Nate Piturachsatit on two counts of possession of child pornography, three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
The case stems from an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Mr. Piturachsatit is accused of soliciting and sending sexually explicit pictures to of 14-year-old girl residing in Wisconsin. Court documents allege that Mr. Piturachsatit conveyed these images via Instagram using his cell phone. Fortunately, no other minors are presently suspected as being victims. Continue reading “Assistant School Principal Accused of Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor”→
It was nearly two years ago that I featured strong showing of just how uncaring and incompetent DSHS/CPS in Washington can aspire to with a terrible case of child abuse mentioned HERE.
In my previous article I wrote how in March of 2013 the children’s parents Sandra and Jeff Weller of Vancouver were each sentenced to twenty years in prison after having been convicted of fourteen counts of child abuse; double the statutory determinate maximum sentence. Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson levied the exceptional sentence due to the severity of the crimes.
The claim against the state on behalf of five children alleges nearly ten years of abuse of the children by the parents where little to no action was taken by Child Protective Services to address the issues and protect the children from further crimes by the parents.
Now we have another example of the incompetence, indifference and permissible atmosphere the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, allowed for what reportedly amounted to a fiendish and unconscionable maltreatment of a blind, developmentally disabled child afflicted with cerebral palsy. This person suffered torturous neglect over another ten year period–despite ample amount of complaints and reports that should have directed the agency to find another foster home for the child.
Last week I featured an article describing how the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries engaged in promoting and displaying the artwork of imprisoned capital murderer Leonard Peltier at its headquarters. The article and enquiries I made to various law enforcement officials and the former FBI Agent’s Association generated a considerable backlash against the agency for its actions.
On Friday I met with KING-5 News reporter Drew Mikkelson and Former FBI Agent Ray Lauer representing the Seattle Chapter of the Retired FBI Agent’s Association at the behest of its national headquarters, for interviews on this controversy. The story was featured on the medium’s 6:30 broadcast.
Leonard Peltier was convicted of two counts of murder in the deaths of FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams, both twenty-eight years old at the time. On the fortieth anniversary year of the deaths, Labor and Industries hosted the artwork of Leonard Peltier which sparked outrage among former FBI agents, the law enforcement community, and family members of the deceased agents.
In an interview, L&I’s spokesman Tim Church explained that his agency did not intend to further Peltier’s cause by displaying his art, yet his agency did just that by its promotion. The Washington agency further claimed that his paintings were part of the Native American contribution to the art during a Native American Heritage Month celebration. The agency was displaying a selection of other works, however displayed Mr. Peltier’s art more prominently in the main rotunda of the headquarters next to the main entrance. Moreover the government provided flyers and cards attached to the paintings directing the viewer on how to contact the gallery. Though I saw and photographed these promotional materials during my first visit to the headquarters, the department removed these prior to our arrival for the interviews.
Nearly a year and a half ago we featured a story describing the plight of the “Kettle Falls Five” who were arrested by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on charges relating to marijuana cultivation and firearms violations. I am reprinting here portions of my previous article which has many details of the original case. Now, three of these defendants were sentenced to federal prison.
The confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice prosecuted five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing seventy-four medical marijuana plants in a private collective. Washington State is a Medical Marijuana State. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son. The patriarch of the family, the accused Larry Harvey, had the charges dropped but has since died of cancer.
While state law at the time permitted the cultivation of up to forty-five plants, federal law prohibits any cultivation. Originally confusion of the numbers of plants that might be permissible under state law (in aggregate) should take into consideration that multiple individuals had separate grows and this led to a misunderstanding. While the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told the accused to remove those plants in excess of the amounts allowed, the DEA later arrived and raided their farms.
What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-three acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claimed to be a “death sentence.”
What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years. Many viewed this case as necessitating jury nullification.
The archetype of bureaucracy is often associated with the Departments of Licensing / Departments of Motor Vehicles in various states. Washington’s contribution for this year manifested in the issuance of handicapped parking placards–the cards that hang from mirrors. It most certainly adds insult to citizens’ injuries who need the placards due to restricted mobility when the Washington Department of Licensing changed rules to supposedly address alleged fraud (which I personally have a difficult time accepting is rampant). But the DOL in doing so created a system that is easily circumvented and worse added another layer of delay for legitimate users by failing to announce changes to forms and procedures; thus requiring untold number of citizens to schedule new appointments with their doctors due to the agency’s bureaucratic rigidity and nonsensical new procedures.
In another bizarre example of what people will call 911 over, Camas Washington Police responded to an “animal problem” call of an SUV driving around with a tiger atop its roof. For reference purposes, tigers are not native to Western Washington.
Surely to the surprise of the caller and other tiger/bigfoot chasers of Washington the tiger was actually a stuffed toy.
Criminal Cases resulting from speeding offense probable cause may be in jeopardy due to improper colors used variable speed limit signs. If courts determine that these signs violate statutory signage standards, exclusionary rules may apply resulting in dismissals of numerous criminal cases.
An example of this is found on Interstate 90 straddling Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Over a decade ago, the Washington State Department of Transportation installed Highway Advisory Beacons, near the mountain pass to warn driver of upcoming hazards along with incorporation into the state’s variable speed limit statute. An example of these types of signs is pictured above.