Monday, November 30, 2009

DNA testing backlog...Sex offender monitoring..Beacon Hill Roll Call

Some obscene numbers about DNA testing at our State Police Crime lab, were released in the Globe a few days ago. All but 500 samples, in a collection of 16,000 samples in cold storage have been tested. The back log of over 15,000 samples will not be a priority to get tested, unless specifically asked for by prosecutors. Now keep in mind.. these are old samples from years ago. And also note, that some of these very same samples would, could and have, exonerated people, helped close cases of decades ago and was the deciding factor in many horrific crimes.

Now.. the lab which has about 3000 crime scene DNA samples and about 3500 samples from felons that need to be entered into the federal Combined DNA Index System, (CODIS)The lab in Maynard can complete 80 to 110 such analysis each month.

We got from Obama, 1.2 million from the 151 million earmarked DNA Backlog Reduction Act and most of that went to the Crime Lab in Maynard.

This is just plain foolishness. We have the technology, technicians, and money to improve our forensic data bases and just think how many cases could be solved, one way or the other, if just half of the 15,000 samples were tested. There needs to be a better plan of action from undersecretary of forensic science and technology John Grossman, other than to say, "we are exercising triage, when requests come in, we analyze, otherwise most of the 16,000 samples will remain in cold storage". This is the very same group, that had three lab employee's, including the administrator and director fired, just two years ago.

And while we are reminded daily of missing women and children, horrific crimes are being committed by released sex offenders. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are 716,000 registered sex offenders in the country and thousands here in Mass. The only effective tool in monitoring their whereabouts, when on parole or probation, comes in the form of a GPS monitoring bracelet. This program alone will cost hundreds of millions in the future and still will not give the assurances we all need to let our children play outside or ride a bike to school. The only way to stop these very sick individuals, is to keep them under close supervision, in Federal facilities, or on an island, either with no internet access. Evoke civil forfeiture on their assets when busted and the only time they are out of the pen, is when they are at work. At some point very soon, no town or city will allow them to live anywhere near society.

So before Beacon Hill approved an extra day off for themselves, Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, they voted on snubbing Deval's vetoes in approving 4.1 million to the probation department, 139 to 14, Senate 29 to 5. 300,000 for community corrections, 145 to 10, senate 30 to 4. And 950,000 for the Trial Court.

What Beacon Hill and Deval could do was sign into law, extending simulcasting of out of state dog racing at dog tracks here, come Jan 1. Retaining affordable housing and allowing mixed martial arts competition. < this one is just unbelievable.

Death at a Sobriety Check

We learn from the Gobe, at a sobriety check in North Andover on Thanksgiving Day, a passenger in a car, died in police custody. The medical examiner will hopefully determine the cause of death in the coming days. According to the paper, police observed a passenger, making furtive movements. This caused the trooper to ask the passenger to exit the vehicle, where Mr. Howe jumped out of the window, hit the trooper and fled. After a short foot chase, Mr. Howe was charged with assault of a police officer. A fellow passenger told police, Mr. Howe had just lit a joint and was trying to extinguish it. No one else was ticketed.

Having been stopped more times than I can remember in my life, for no more than just having long hair or my license plate (NORML) on my MGB, I had to look up the word "furtive" as the reason the trooper asked a passenger to exit the vehicle, in a check point where impaired drivers behind the wheel are the main focus. Webster defines the word furtive as –adjective
1.taken, done, used, etc., surreptitiously or by stealth; secret: a furtive glance.
2. sly; shifty: a furtive manner.

Now that we know this, if ever in one of these situations, as a passenger, just play dead or asleep, as just looking like you are sly or shifty, could be a death sentence. Let's hope the family of Mr. Howe gets the truth behind his untimely death and if law enforcement went to far, they are held accountable. I also hope that an investigation is launched into who exactly are the cops after in sobriety checks, impaired passengers or impaired drivers.

2010 Ballot Questions..almost

Next year, thanks to the efforts of Carla Howell, a proposal for cutting the sales tax from 6.25% to 3% may be challenged by the Mass Teachers Union. Another will lift the ban on charter schools, also apposed by the Teachers Union. One question will ask if we should end the states primary affordable housing law, 40b, while another would set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be generated by renewable energy and alternative energy sources.

Secretary Galvin turns over the signatures to the Legislature, which can adopt the measures without going on the ballot. If they don't approve, the petitioners must go back and collect another 10,000 signatures to get the question on the ballot, by May.

With the State in seriuos financial trouble and the one party ruling eleite who refuses to deal with it's own careless spending, the anti tax folks will at least provide an outlet for angry voters to weigh in on. My fear is that, like many other ballot initiatives that have been overwhelmingly supported by the masses, only to see Beacon Hill ignore the will of the voter, will not force Beacon Hill to do the right thing.

Millions have been spent on both sides to bring forward or defeat ballot initiatives and while we are lucky to live in a state that allows us to participate in the decision making process, it lacks the teeth it once had. We all will witness the tons of money thrown at defeating such measures from unions, who are so entrenched in their own protectionism, educating our children takes a back seat to their own financial success.

Choices in Framingham next April

I trust our readers got through another Thanksgiving Holiday with as much enthusiasm as one can muster in these hard times. We spent time with our grandchildren and watched our kids deal with extended families, out-laws and in-laws which gives me hope that traditional values will live past my years.

Next April here in Town, we will again be voting in local elections. Up for grabs next year are two selectman seats, Sisitsky and Esty, three school committee seats, Blummer, Finlay, Phelan. Two seats on the planning board, Bernstein and Carr-Evans, along with three seats at the Keefe Tech school committee, Kahn, Cooper and Fobes. Town moderator is also up for election, Noonan.

One needs to see Val Mulvey at the Clerks office to get nomination papers and get at least 50 signatures of voters in Town before Jan 26th to be on the ballot. I'm more than willing to help anyone interested in running for selectman.