Thursday, March 04, 2010

March Miscellany

The arrival of moderating temperatures with the beginning of March was very welcome, but as appears to be the usual practice I've got a lot of miscellaneous things that caught my attention lately. This doesn't mean I'm completely scatterbrained; There are lots of big things awaiting approach clearance into the primary focus of my conscious mind, and it would seem that I've got to sweep these little cobwebs out like so much spring cleaning. Then (hopefully) the real work begins, after this weekend. More about that later.


I was somewhat impressed with the editorial board of the Daily Sentinel for choosing to opine further on the recent acquittal of former Grand Junction police officer Courtney Crooks on harassment charges that led to his resignation from the department last year. The paper at that time sharply criticized the GJPD and the City Attorney's office for refusing to turn over documents related to the Crooks investigation. This accompanied extensive coverage and other related editorial comment.

I was honestly surprised by the almost conciliatory tone of the editorial; it felt like the paper was trying to apologize for the manner in which it covered the story. The follo
wing passage stood out the most for me:

We hold police officers to higher standards than most people because they must enforce the laws, as well as abide by them.

But like all others accused of crimes in the United States, they must be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Courtney Crooks was found not guilty by a jury of his peers, and that is the only judgment that should matter in this country.

If those managing the Sentinel truly believe in the above statement, particularly the second paragraph, then I am tempted to ask why a statement of similar form does not appear as part of the Sentinel's Police Blotter feature. In this feature, the paper prints the names of adult citizens that are arrested or cited for criminal offenses in our area, and are thus presumed innocent until they get their day in court.

It's true that Courtney Crooks received a good deal more media attention than the average person accused of the same offense. However, if "all others accused..must be presumed innocent until proven guilty" and "that is the only true judgment that should matter in this country", then perhaps each person whose name appears in the Blotter should have the disposition of the charges against them published in a similar manner, when that disposition occurs.

At the very least, some form of the Sentinel's own words above should appear in each future edition of the Blotter as a disclaimer.


I don't watch Oprah that much, but I did take the time to look at her feature on film critic Roger Ebert that aired this past Tuesday. Outside of his web presence, Mr. Ebert has until recently been out of the public eye for quite some time. Along with the Oprah show and an excellent feature in this month's Esquire, we get to see the effects of Mr. Ebert's ordeal with cancer, and how he has met these challenges directly, and with a courage and honesty that is refreshing.
It's a shame to have to say that, though.

He has help. He has money. He has a devoted wife and partner. As I am painfully aware, not everyone has these advantages. Fortunately, Mr. Ebert sees these things as well, and they are reflected in some of his writing.

Ebert is a most excellent writer. His ordeal has made him more of one, in terms of volume and quality. He doesn't just write about movies, either. His blog is one of the best anywhere. Take some time to gain something from his insights. One of his most recent posts takes a good look at the true state of economic affairs, sparked by some questionable public safety practices.
Great stuff.


It looks like the City of Grand Junction is doing a great deal of belt-tightening, if today's reporting in the Sentinel is any indication of present and future adjustments to services in the wake of dwindling sales tax revenues.

I'm generally satisfied with the services I receive for the taxes I pay. As someone with a public safety background, I tend to bristle from both a professional and taxpayer standpoint when resources are put toward something that is largely preventable, or can be addressed in a more efficient way that is blocked by political or other illogical considerations. Continued annexation under the Persigo Agreement, especially in the current budgetary climate, is but one example.

Another example is when firefighting resources are needed to quell the effects of a 'controlled burn' that ceased to meet the definition of one. You see, March also marks the beginning of the first burning season in our fair valley. This year, both the GJFD and Mesa County, among others, are attempting to send a message to those seeking to burn off dead vegetation to make way for spring planting and irrigation water.

The message is: Burn responsibly, safely, and only when necessary, and consider alternatives to what is becoming a more archaic and risky practice as the valley continues to grow and develop.


Lots to do today and through next week, but there are already some good stories out there and in here that I've been pondering. Enjoy the spring trying to poke it's way through. Have a great day.

Photo Credit: Esquire Magazine - Ethan Hill

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